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Followership: The gains of geriatric leadership

Inspiration: The wonder of action

With utmost fervor, I had written diatribes disapproving especially political leadership saddled on the weary brows of the aging ones. I still stand by every word of those. Particularly such fast aging leader who has denied self of constant upgrade and personal development in terms of education and up to date acquisition of knowledge gleaned through meticulous study. In Africa especially Nigeria, reading is a drudgery most people belabour to undertake, that’s when it is compulsory, such as pre-exam reading and rehearsals for students. Outside this, the demand to observe a habitual reading lifestyle, is a story for the gods to an average Nigerian, including our educationists. A startling case in point is buttressed with the existence of a well established tutorial institution going by the name “Student PYE.”

The acronyms PYE meaning Pass Your Exams hereby corroborates the fact that the mindset of the school system as inculcated in the pupils and students is strictly stereotype to read so that you will pass your examination. Further reading post examination period is unnecessary and unfashionable. Take it further… the employment evaluation in Nigeria is not competence based but paper (certificate) qualification. Therefore, all efforts to acquire an impressive certificate bearing a certain indigenous high institution name is the ultimate goal to secure a plum job or at least be regarded as employable. However and whatever is done to get to this point… “the end will justify the means”, they say. Machaveri specifically used that dictum exclusively for military confrontation but in Nigeria, it has been employed so abusively and diluted to ridicule.

Indeed, this is not about the backward trend of Nigeria educational system and neither is it pertaining the abysmally poor reading culture of the majority of the people in Nigeria…this is more about the merits of mature political leadership the world over. Whether you are Black or White, Caucasians or mixed blood, etc; whether you are Christian, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist, pagan, and or any other religion, whatever your cultural background, tradition, creed that defines you…we all have one dominant possession – the brain. This vital quality is a gift from the Immortal and Supreme Creator (aka the Universal Mind) to all he moulded and formed – the humans, in his own image, is ageless and untiring by nature. I’m not professionally capable to lecture on the immense capacity of the brain but suffice it to say that its capacity and potentials are unlimited.

Make your further enquiries on that, and you will be amazed at your discoveries. This notwithstanding, as we’re sired from the cradle, in order to get the optimum performance of our brain and enjoy the same, what and when we consume on daily basis is a prerequisite and quite crucial. It has been said that “you are as young or old as how you exercise or fail to exercise.” Whatever it is that makes that significant difference between the young in age figures but behaves quite maturely and perhaps precocious and another weary and old person upon whom the wears and tears of days and years past have taken their tolls and he succumbs, is the theme of this column. History is a great teacher of irony, so let’s take a deep briefly.

The reality of China’s modernization – the turning point is hinged on the Afghanistan’s political upheavals as monitored by the Americans at the time, during the regime of Teng Hsiao-Ping, successor to Chairman Mao Tse-tung the China Communisist founder in the early 1980s. He was eighty years old and survivor of the Long March who also dismantled most Maoist institutions. Someone compared this Chinese modernization to the Soviet system in the 1920s under Lenin’s New Economic Policy. This perhaps be correct, let it not be downplayed that the NEP period in Russia was eclipsed by Joseph Stalin. It is most unlikely that a Chinese Stalin will succeed Teng Hsiao-Ping. Great number of his reforms have become irreversible. Talk about tremendous achievement by an AGED politician, there you are.

Constraint of space and time may not permit the mention of the Isreali patriachs Moses and deliverer whose strengths and stamina did not diminish nor his eyes dimmed at 120years; of Warren Buffett, chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Berkshire Hathaway, who leads 300,000 employees across the globe with a value-based, hands-off style that gives managers leeway and incentivizes them like owners – all at 83. His knickname the “Oracle of Omaha” for articulate guidance on investing, the economy, taxes, management, philanthropy, etc is a pointer to his great achiever instincts despite age. Michael Bloomberg the founder and CEO of Michael Bloomberg did achieve a similar uncommon feat at 72.

Up till date, the world most populous nation – People’s Republic of China, amongst others, has been led by not younger than septuagenarians and octogenarians. What has been the results of this leadership by experience equiped personnel, the economic and social developmental accomplishment of the present China is a testimonial. In fact, the caveat remains, Will a new generation that must assume power before long play by the old rules? Or is it possible to temper new relationship with a new humanity? The answer to these questions may determine whether our planet has a future. This is vis a vis the nuclear interface and the international struggle for supremicist status between Russia, China and the United States of America.

Back to our immediate territory – Nigeria, the caliber of leadership the country cannot wait to have, in the midst of the overwhelming national tragedies, is someone with a lion’s heart, an independently willed stalwart, a patriot willing to absorb the vilification, castigation and exposure to bad-mouthed attacks – all in the meantime. We desperately need an unpopular person in whom the aforementioned traits and potentials are instilled and deposited, irrespective of gender and age.

It has been rightly said that an avid reader although young at age has the tendency to conduct self far ahead of his time and mates. The wealth of knowledge and wisdom at his disposal situates this individual beyond the wildest imagination of the peers. On the other hand, an aging person, whose only source of knowledge is limited to the five sense organs of the body and is averse to reading habits – grows older with obsolete ideas than the fleeting time can render him. How many of our national leaders have the acquired capacity to, like President John F Kennedy, read more than 1000 words within 60seconds – a minute? How many of our students can dare this sterling erudite attainment? Who among our existing political elements even thinks in this direction? A country where their security agents are fundamentally overstretched and overwhelmed by the rampart and dastardly acts of the marauding bandits cannot survive enduring incompetent governance. A country where the basic infrastructures and amenities are not just in dilapidated conditions but are non existing in many major cities in the nation – her people cannot continue to play the ostrich whenever the absurd and bitter facts are mooted.

A country where mediocrity, sectarianism and nepotism reigns above merit and competence… whatever that needs to be done to call things to order is both expedient and urgent. An ostensibly independent nation that boasts of natural resources endowment yet grappling with liabilities of massive impoverishment, burgeoning unemployment statistics and now religious extremism and dreadful terrorism, is already at the precipice of irredeemable damnation and destitution. But whither hope and liberation?

In conclusion, if there’s no workable remedy for any given circumstance, then such situation is not known to have arisen in this part of the eternity – this present planet earth. Nigeria must restrategize, reappraise and restructure. Failure to do so, the end of this rigmarole is not in sight. The day their leaders wake up and chose to tell themselves the truth and synergy efforts towards the implementation of overhauling the existing installed system, that day the salvation of this progressively moribund nation is feasible. Let us join hands to make our nation work again. God bless Nigeria.
By Steve Obum Orajiaku, a freelance journalist and social activist, wrote from Lagos.

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