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That Our Youths May Not Be Blamed

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

In a conventional conversation, it is a general belief that the habit of sitting on the fence may not be the best decision. But in an applied sense, it avails one the vantage opportunity to view the two sides of the divides.

In the light of the above, our nation’s political fence has provided all with a vantage but unfortunate opportunities to watch the ever-unfolding episodes as dramatized daily by our political actors.

The latest of such episode is the controversy trailing the contract award by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru without the consent of the Minister of States for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu who doubles as the Chairman, board of the corporation.

However, the above melodrama or tragicomedy of the sort, though, a reality to worry about means little or nothing to me as it has become a regular trademark or better still, a new normal in the anal of our existence. I am only worried that we have allowed the youths to sit on our political fence, watching and recording this episode of leadership gaps.

In the first place, while our 21st-century youths are clamoring for a hyper-modern governance built on transparency, creativity, provision of world-class education and infrastructural development, our leaders by their actions and inactions are singing from a different hymn book.

In the same fashion, a Chinese adage has it that “to know about the road ahead, ask those coming back”, But as it stands, asking our current crop of leaders could be likened to; endorsing a ‘progressive retrogression’, abandoning the future to choose the past and promoting our vicious circle of learning how not to provide leadership.

My recent encounter with the youths bears testimony to the facts that they are no longer interested in receiving this form of leadership tutelage but are more interested in something more enduring.

To prove the above position as advanced, a youth very recently asked me two topical questions that got me convinced that our youths are moving with a supersonic speed in the quest for knowledge even ahead of our leaders. He asked, why is it that Lee Kuan Yew, the father of the modern-day Singapore decided to build a refinery even when they have not discovered a drop of crude oil in Singapore as at that material time?

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Before I could provide an answer to that question, the young man fired again, what do you think propelled Britain as a nation without a drop of crude oil to build one of the best petroleum training Institutes in the world?

In my effort to explain, the lad succulently remarked, ‘these nations are blessed with world-class leaders, creative leaders, authentic leaders and leadership alchemists. These leaders according to the boy had the interest of their nation at heart, and that informed the dexterity used in placing their nation on the hypermodernity highways. In contrast, we have no leaders but demagogues, Case closed.

Correspondingly, I discovered that the youngster had made a valid point as our nation now ferries our crude oil for refining in that same country called Singapore. I also remembered that when it comes to manpower development in our nation’s oil sector, Britain remains the first point of call. These two scenarios as signposted by this young man shares two attributes; visionary leadership and proactiveness but they are certainly not part of our leadership culture.

Truly, what I learned from the above encounter is that what our youths are looking for is crystal clear to them. They have a well-tailored vision and singleness of purpose but their worry is that presently we have refused to lay that good foundation that they can build on. They have a picture of the Nigeria of their dreams and that. informed their agitation.

Our youths obviously want to see our leaders replicate the leadership creativity of Lee Kuan Yew, who transformed Singapore from the third world to a first world via the creation of an economic/financial oasis in a third world continent and has since placed the country on the world map of economic superpowers.

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Again, our youths want to see our leaders replicate the leadership ingenuity of Franklyn Roosevelt of the United State of America (USA) who though on his wheelchair led his nation out of the economic wood. This is very crucial as our recently experienced economic recession was an ‘unfortunate accident’ that could have been avoided and are coming out of it, on the other hand, an ‘unqualified success.’

Equally important, our youths are yearning for the replication of the vision of the likes of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) who used his creativity, resourcefulness, and ingenuity to make his nation a tourism and investment hub for all.

In the same manner, what I will in an objectified sense remind this administration is that this time to my mind is auspicious for them to learn from history especially now that 2019 is around the corner. This is also very important as their administrative style is gradually gravitating towards “Donald Trump’’ leadership style that is never devoid of controversy.

By the same token, this NNPC contract saga has increased the need for accessibility to our leaders. If a serving minister of the federal republic of Nigeria, duly appointed by the president could be prevented from seeing the same man that appointed him, that will act as a pointer to what ordinary citizens will go through in an effort to meet with their president that they voted for or any of their representatives.

To our youths, it is time to “borrow a soul in order to raise a body” as complaining may not be enough.  It is time to crawl out of your comfort zone in order to access your strength zone. It is time to get involved in the affairs of our nation. It is time to access your population advantage so that you can reap the God-given demographic dividends.

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By waiting, you may not get to that position entrusted to you by the constitution and your number. So the best time to ‘loot the burning house’ is now, using a legitimate and democratic means come 2019.

At this juncture, having looked at the political trends for some time now, I would like to humbly remind our President that “it is easy to start with a high moral standard, strong conviction, and determination to beat down corruption. But it is difficult to live up to these good intentions unless the leaders are strong and determined enough to deal with all transgressor and without exceptions.” To my mind, the steam of this fight is dying down. Let my President use this NNPC case to reinvigorate the fight. 

Our Leaders also should at this point remember that ‘anyone who claims to be leading without a follower, is, but taking a stroll’. The masses are completely disconnected from this administration and this calls for urgent action via people oriented programmes and transparency in leadership.

Again, change does not come by wishful thinking, and leader who just sit and wish for change, is, without doubt, may not get it. If the people are convinced that our nation is going through change, they must also agree about the need for them to change in order to adopt.

That ‘conviction’ is the missing link. So let my president provide that link as the best time for him to be our president is now.

Jerome-Mario, A Journalist wrote via

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