Character Leadership

Growing up in Nigeria in the early 80’s and 90’s was very difficult. I and my peer relatives did not have much of a childhood experience because we were tasked with adult responsibilities at a tender age. We were taught leadership qualities which has translated to greater responsibility and accountability in our adulthood. At thirteen years old, I migrated to America for greener pasture. I strongly believed that the daily living skills and leadership responsibilities bestowed upon me propelled me for success in the States.

I recently visited Nigeria this past March and stayed for approximately one month. I had an opportunity to meet new people, develop new relationships and reacquaint with old friends and family. Every single individual had a story to tell. Many of their stories were told in a sorrowful voice and all expressed disdain for the country they love. In the little time I spent in Nigeria, I had a story to tell. My experience wasn’t very positive but I choose focus on the positive aspects of my journey. As I listened attentively, the major issues identified were social injustice, social inequality, lack of economic mobility, security concerns and most importantly the inhuman inhabitants. Many echoed the sentiments that their elected officials have failed them. The outcry has left many Nigerians in despair and state of melancholy.

Nigeria obviously has myriad of issues that has stunt its growth as a continental or global power. We have the resources to be great. I recalled reading the great American novel, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (2011) by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandebaum. The authors detailed the values that made U.S. a global power and steps on how it can regain its global status as world superpower. I was inspired by this novel because it reminded all Americans who they were, what they have become and how they can overcome.

After reflecting on this book, it brought nostalgic memories on the principles that made Nigeria the “Superpower of Africa.” In my initial interview with Mr. Augustine Ekamagule, I mentioned that Nigerians need to go back to their forgotten Root. I later volunteered to provide a monthly article on Character Leadership. I would like to thank Ika Mirror Newspaper from the bottom of my heart for providing me the platform to reach the unreachable. I hope that our presently elected government officials will read this article and reflect on their leadership and develop a plan of action to improve their leadership practices. Through educational reform, Nigerian citizens, its youth and children can learn character leadership as we pray and hope for a better future.

“Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal”.(Northouse, 2013, p.5)

This particular article focuses an important leadership trait: Accountability. In my survey questions of what leadership is…. there were distinct responses to leadership attributes. Interestingly, all leadership traits were positive in nature. If people attribute positive traits with leadership or what leadership should be then why are so many leaders exhibit negative qualities? While the microscope is always on our elected government officials (rightfully so), I will have you remember that leadership is everyone’s responsibility. There has been many leadership theories or ideologies. However, the one thing they all have in common is that great leadership requires Personal Accountability. Our society has developed the thought process revolving around wealth acquisition and the ambition to acquire wealth is by any means necessary. We don’t care if we kill, maim, steal or betray our brothers and/or sisters to acquire wealth. Parents no longer question their children’s source of wealth. Instead, parents glory the wealth and the evil act continues to manifest across within our community and nation at large. Many political figures who are trusted in leadership positions have perpetuated the culture of self-centeredness and greed. Things have spiraled out of control and Nigeria is headed in a downward spiral.

The essence of transformational leadership is the ability to elicit Powerful Questions. The questions we all have to ask ourselves are:How did we get to this state of apathy?How and when did the Giant of Africa shrink?How did we become the most corrupt nation in the world?Where do we go from here?

As in any change process, one must admit there is a problem. The politicians who have the executive and supreme power to enact change have turned a blind eye because they are the biggest culprit and must be culpable for the mishaps in Nigeria. The question is that if you have a problem, who is going to change it and if not now then when? I believe it’s time for all Nigerians to take Personal Accountability. We all have potential for leadership and many of us are leaders in many capacities. Your values have to reflect your actions. We must pledge to love each other, to put our neighbors first, to build our communities. The government has a greater responsibility but it all begins with each and every one of us. We must strive to hold ourselves and others accountable!

Great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill to name a few did not fall from the sky. They exude desirable qualities that influenced their followers. They were transformational leaders. Nigeria needs transformation from old to new, from corruption to scrupulous, from darkness to light, from fixed mindset to growth mindset, from hate to love, from stagnation to creativity. Leadership is the key to transformation. If we want change in Nigeria, we all must demonstrate what that change looks like. We must refrain from criminal activities, dysfunctional behaviors, and form coalitions that will empower Nigeria to great heights. Nigerians must refrain from hope that a leader will fall from the sky. Leadership is learned, it is practical, it is transactional and most importantly it is transformational. We know better, therefore, we must do better for our nation to prosper and flourish.
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