Influencer, visionary, courageous, empath—these are some of the words that come to mind when considers attributes of the quintessential leader. We are told a leader takes responsibility, seeks to serve first before being served, and when things go south, he is ready to take the fall for it while sharing accolades with his team members in times of success. This is how society defines good leadership. But what does society know? Leaders in my part of the world have cracked the code of inimitable leadership in a way that trashes whatever their counterparts in other climes think they are doing.
Our leaders aren’t copycats; they love to innovate…you know, shun the norm even if it’s proven to yield result and devise their own way of running affairs. I dare say those who think they are doing well when it comes to laying a good example for the people who look up to them have a thing or two to learn from the Nigerian leader.
You’re in luck today, I am about to reveal the secret. The magic our leaders conjure to help them stand out and retain the love of the majority despite what a few may consider their shortcoming include:
Perfecting the art of making promises
A pre-requisite for holding a public post in my part of the world is the ability to make promises: run-of-the-mill ones like the provision of pipe-borne water, and white elephant ones like the transformation of a ghetto into a megacity. Nigerian leaders are experts at convincing the most cynical voter to shed their cynicism and become an advocate of their cause. Our leaders don’t believe the promises themselves, but you’ll never know. Their singular job is to be a good enough actor to sell their fib to an unsuspecting and sometimes gullible audience, and on that score, they never fail
Making nepotism and preference for a certain ethnic group or tribe glaring
They say a leader must be impartial, and even when he knows he prefers a section of his followers to others; he must be mature enough to not show it. That’s balderdash. Here, our leaders can’t be bothered. Federal character and other sundry overused phrases mean nothing. All federal appointees can come can from one region of the country as long as they are qualified and can get the job done. Did I hear you ask if they ever get the job? Doesn’t matter much. The leaders here are not given to pretence, that should count for something despite the discontent and incompetencies that result from their decisions.
Again, the notion that a leader should touch base with his constituents from time to time—feel their pulse and tend to their needs—is moot. The Nigerian leader recognises his status as the chosen one among many; he takes pride in this recognition and knows he cannot afford to mingle with the common man. All that servant-leader pontification that society preaches has no bearing on him. He will show his face once in a while, that should suffice.
On this side, leaders cannot be seen to be modest. Our unique brand of leadership must be accompanied by stupendous wealth; one that the holder’s fourth-generation will struggle to exhaust if they choose not to work. The flamboyant boss with the ostentatious lifestyle funded by the taxes of the people he shepherds is how we roll over here. The bridge construction can wait, millions of school kids can remain out of school, those are not real issues. What would be an issue is a leader not having excess to splurge on his fantasies because that would mean disrespect of family and friends, and God forbid that happens.
On the rare occasions that a leader is so incompetent that people have no choice but to criticise them, there’s the ever-reliable option of deflecting blame. Our leaders are so ingenious that they can absolve themselves of the responsibility to execute the most basic projects. A local council chairman swears he cannot fix a porthole in his neighbourhood because there are no funds in government’s purse…this is after marrying a third wife; the president never fails to remind the citizenry how much damage the previous administration did. As long as you have a ready response (in this case, someone or something to blame) when you are confronted with your inadequacies, you’re fit to continue to lead. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?