“A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.” — James Freeman Clarke
Leadership is a most difficult assignment that tasks the ingenuity of people engaged in top influential positions in practically all spheres of life. Leaders, particularly in politics are exposed to all manner of maneuvers that affect their performances. Wherever truth and sincerity, added to application of conscience are the guiding principles, there is every possibility that the leader would succeed. Conversely, wherever people thrive in intrigues and the basest of sentiments, acting without conscience, a leader might fail disastrously. Human beings are so complex that even God is reported in Genesis 6:6 that: ‘’The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled’’ Politics is played in all human settings, even in family units that constitute a microscopic unit of the society.
One of the most slippery grounds could be found in corporate and political governance, because of the complex nature of human beings. Sycophants abound everywhere. It is recorded in the book titled: ‘MACBETH’, one of the works of William Shakespeare that ‘’There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face’’ which explains why so many betrayals occur, especially arising from political ambitions of those who seek power for its own sake. Leaders usually have difficulties in taking decisions as a result of too many choices and solicited and unsolicited information at their disposal. People will advise constructively and genuinely; and conversely, people will misadvise based on some considerations like disaffection, selfishness, envy, power play, and even possession by evil spirit. The inability of those in leadership positions to take rational decisions without recourse to some extraneous stimuli has been one of the banes of good governance. There is also the factor of breaking away from the subtle control of powerful forces that may wish to subtly attempt to influence conduct of government business.
POLITICS IS NOT A DIRTY GAME: Politics covers a broad spectrum of activities and phenomena. Politics occurs in every human society and is played consciously or sub-consciously by everybody, even in family units, where close relationships are maintained and decisions have to be taken individually or collectively. Politics, according to Wikipedia is a Greek word whose meaning, as ascribed to Aristotle: is ‘’the process of making uniform decisions applying to all members of a group. ‘’It also involves the use of power by one person to affect the behaviour of another person. ‘’More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance, that organize control over a human community, particularly a state. Famous Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle, once submitted that “Man is a political animal.” Aristotle’s postulation indicates that man, among others, lives in a regulated society governed by laws and customs, and has the capability of developing his potential, to realize its natural end in a social context.
Elsewhere, an American Theologian and author, James Freeman Clarke describes ‘’Politics as the art of attaining, retaining and deploying power, authority and responsibilities in a society. ‘’We are social animals like the apes for which hierarchy or ranking in the social scheme is essential. Even those who clamour for equality and fraternity are merely using their Utopian precepts to reach higher ranks and upper niches in the social hierarchy. ‘’The most universal measure of hierarchy is wealth, and so politics is also about wealth and its acquisition, and even more about its distribution.’’ The leader, therefore, must necessarily be forward-looking, otherwise the leadership and followership would fail. Leaders must plan and carry their subordinates along. It is for this reason that Clarke, whose work is cited above has rightly alerted that “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.” Decision-taking is, therefore, very crucial to human existence. Therefore, it could be safely argued that only political players may be dirty; and not the art of playing politics.
A LEADER MUST HAVE A VISION & MISSION: A leader with good intentions must have a mission and a vision. Leadership, therefore, constitutes a critical determinant of good governance. However, the leader must be supported by good hands to who powers and duties could be delegated for the overall success of the team. An assemblage of knowledgeable dedicated and committed hands would undoubtedly prove beneficial to the society and for team work and blending. According to an acclaimed management expert, Peter Drucker, ‘’Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things; and knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.’’ Leaders are usually unable to decipher the levels of loyalty and sincerity of their aides and associates, at least in our part of the world, where nobody relinquishes power on account of disagreeing with the leader. Usually, leaders may not know the true inclination of their supposed loyalists until they quit their powerful and exalted positions. This is because people pay obeisance to those in political authority rather than respect the Constitution, which is the supreme regulation.
Power could have an intoxicating effect. The major objective of seeking power in democracies and democratically managed organizations is to govern or control the society or organization in accordance with popular will; and this must be in accordance with established principles, norms and values. These differ from one society or organization to the other, because economic and political culture, also vary from one nation to another. President Richard Nixon of the United States once asserted that: ‘’Power is the opportunity to build, to create, to nudge history in a different direction.’’ The father of modern corporate management, Peter F. Drucker is published as saying that ‘’Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.’’ Elsewhere, former President Bill Clinton has described the role of government as ‘’giving people the tools and create the conditions to make the most of our lives. ‘’Government should empower us to do things we need or want to do, that we can only do together by pooling our resources and spending them in large, enough amounts to achieve the desired objectives.’’
GOOD GOVERNANCE & TEAM WORK: Former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan submitted that ‘’good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.’’ Skills and leadership play important roles in good governance. To be able to achieve lofty objectives, there must necessarily be sincerity of purpose on the part of the leadership, consistency in policy formulation and implementation, transparency, accountability, and the enthronement of due process and fiscal discipline. In political parlance, good governance connotes the running of a responsible and responsive administration, in which the feelings and desires of the populace, as well as the rule of law, would be the major determinant of the direction of an organization or government.
Team work is very important as brings about increased focus on achievement of the vision and mission of a government/organization, as led by the head. It is predicated on collective responsibility that stresses the fact that all members of a team are liable for policies and programmes formulated and implemented. The buck stops on the leader’s table which is why he or she must take responsibility for all actions and inactions of the principal. Whoever agrees to serve must be prepared to be bound by the spirit of collective responsibility. It is unfair and inhuman to wait till the end of the tenure of the leader before stating that you disagreed with a policy or vision, as a member of the team. Whoever disagrees with any policy of any leader must be able to convey his or her feelings in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility, without fear or favour; or keep quiet forever.
Lately, there have been discordant tunes by ‘’conservatives’’ and ‘’progressives’’ who change camps, only to start grandstanding; making negative comments about groups to which they belonged for several years before moving over to other parties. These scenes have been so rampant in the media and have been very stomach-turning. It has always seemed that only those who attempt to take the electorate for a ride would argue in that manner; always referring to the past. It is better and safer to keep quiet and say nothing, rather than leave a group, and start to cast aspersions in the manner our politicians do. It is even better to speak about issues that would benefit our great nation than engaging in making postulations about the past. The ideal situation, accordingly, calls for honesty, dedication, commitment, sincerity, and above all conscience on the part of political actors.
THE GAME OF DECEIT & EVIL SPIRIT: Let leaders across political divides watch their backs for people that are there on account of self-interests. Those who wield power readily stand the risk of being manipulated through various means, usually dishonesty; and therefore, become victims of rational conflict. It is important to be able to read situations and people clearly and strategize appropriately. It is very easy to locate sycophants testifying: ‘’In Jesus name’’ or ‘’In Allah’s name’’ only to engage in intrigues and backstabbing the next minute. While in pursuit of power, anything is possible. Just get out of power and position of influence and see how your so-called friends will desert you. If it could happen to God, it could happen to any mortal.
For instance, Lucifer, while a bonafide resident of Heaven, rebelled against God and was sent back to the earth where it has since sought to destroy children of God and to make them miserable. Can you imagine that there is war in Heaven against God and mankind? Dr D.K Olukoya’s sermon recently invited attention to this reality: ‘’A war started in heaven and now the people of the earth are included in the war. How could Satan think he could win against God? What strategy might he be using? Then gird your loins as Satan knows that the time is short. Wage war in return against Satan and its cohorts unrelentingly. You will always find people who cannot thrive where there are no intrigues. You would also find people whose stock in trade is to cast aspersions and speak negatively about others for no just cause. If they did it to Jesus Christ, then who are we human beings to complain? God is able to stop Satan and its agents before they stop you. Leave all for God to handle, while also taking precautions. If God is for you, no power will be able to stop you. Regrettably, too many people have no conscience, and have no respect for truth.
Let all leaders watch their backs and in righteousness, be able to say whenever the need arises: ‘’Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels’’ – Matthew 25:41
As for me, my prayer has always been: May the best candidates who will build a greater Nigeria emerge winners at the 2019 general elections; and may the God of all grace make the elections very peaceful.
May the good Lord bless Nigeria.