Friday, December 18, 2009

IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME

LEADING WHERE WE ARE
by OLUWATOSIN AJAYI

What I think is currently wrong with Nigeria:
Lack of Leadership.
Not just the lack of it, but the lack of understanding of what a leader is. Every Nigerian can list what is wrong with the country; every one has a statement that begins ‘What we should do in this country is …’. But very few do anything about it.

I was recently running a discussion for Nigerian students in the UK, and some one said that the problem is the leadership of the country. She said ‘they’ make wrong decisions; that ‘they’ care more about their pockets than the country. When asked who ‘they’ were, she said: ‘the leaders’.

I asked her to define Leadership, and she was stumped. She went away with a paper and pencil and tried to figure something out. She eventually asked me for my opinion.

I think she demonstrated a lot of the general thinking about Leadership among Nigerians, both inside and outside the country. There is a general feeling that Leadership is totally dependent on your position, therefore although most people rightly detect that the problem is Leadership, they wrongly think that it is solely political. This makes the problem ‘they’, never ‘me’.

People rarely ever ask ‘what is my part to play?’ As far as most are concerned, the problem is the government, or the other guy, whatever the case is; the solution rarely ever has to do with the individual who’s making a complaint taking action.

So are they right? Is Leadership something bestowed on the few, and are those few the ones who are to sort out every single problem that exists? Or is Leadership a responsibility we all have, that in whatever sphere of influence we have, no matter how small, we act in a way that improves things and causes others to do the same. In other words, we lead. I say the latter is right.

Going back to the question I was asked by the student. My answer was that Leadership is influence, and you don’t need a position to get that. Everyone has a sphere of influence, so everyone can, and should lead. I ended by giving what I thought was the most important Leadership role in any society, that of the parent. The family is the building block of society, and once the Leadership fails there, the country is in trouble.

So the problem is the understanding of Leadership, but more importantly than at the highest level, at every level. Our biggest problem is that we fail to recognise which area we should be leading in NOW! Once we realise this and start acting on it, we are on our way.

- Oluwatosin Ajayi (May 2008)

I love this essay. This is the new and important thinking that is spreading among Nigerian Youth today: that as the more vibrant half of the population, we (all of us) are the government and must act everyday to make society what we want it to be. HapPY New Year 2010 to all!

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