The new leadership must go beyond benevolence
March 21, 2023209 views0 comments
BY CHARLES ODION IYORE
Charles Iyore, a partner at DNA Capital, writes from Darenth Kent, England. He can be reached by email at Dioncta@aol.com and +447932945002 (text only)
National leadership is not about “namu namu”, “tiwa ‘n tiwa” or “eyimba eyin” etc. It is not about subtle benevolence to win blind loyalty or gain tribal following.
It’s about freeing the people from their captivity, imposed on them by an external occupation, which decimated them and ruined their way of life.
Until you do that, you cannot restore their self-confidence and unleash their innate creative potential.
If the systems work well and the people are equipped with the right skills and education, the creativity that could be unleashed, will pale into insignificance the colours of tongue, tribe and creed.
The degrees of freedom and creativity now globally active through mobile telephony and ICT has already made individual Nigerians world beaters. There are, however, more profound adjustments to our markets that will make our demonstrated ability in ICT look only like a dress rehearsal. When you add the gains in Nollywood and Afro beat music, then you’ll begin to realise that the world is actually waiting for us at the dinner table. But who will take us there?
The journey from 3rd to 1st world which is feasible and within reach, cannot be achieved without freedom. We must free our people from the straitjacket of command and control, and from a leadership mindset that saw the introduction of GSM as possibly a destabilising factor. Our fixation with control is such that our leaders have not grown out of that “namu namu”, “tiwa ‘n tiwa” “eyimba eyin” etc. disposition that they chose, believing it to be a competitive advantage, since our first elections in 1923.
One hundred years later we are still wallowing in that delusion of grandeur.
The energy our leaders spend in shadowing and anticipating those doubts and fears, leaves them drained and with very little left for constructional thought.
Going beyond the regional benevolent dictatorships of the sixties and the disorderly mix of events thereafter, will require a re-focusing on all 200 million citizens, as critical national assets.
In a continental system analysis carried out by the African Operating Systems (AOS – a UK based think-tank), there are about 136 critical adjustments, needed in the various administrative flow-diagrams on the continent, to optimise their outputs.
At the heart of the distortions they create, is that by far too many on the continent, wake up every morning to no purposeful engagement, even when in paid employment. This must be quite frustrating as they are consigned to a life of import consumption and very little else.
The pursuit of happiness against that background is difficult and many have easily become pawns in the many mindless wars and conflicts on the continent. – African Operating Systems 2021.
What kind of freedom will be required to achieve the appropriate and productive engagements on the continent?
For Nigeria, that freedom can only come from creating transformational frames for unhindered market entrance and exit. Just like that made possible by technology, but the more profound ones will be in equilibrating market arrangements. Entry and exit through these frames must not be dependent on special relationships and should drive activities, blind to tongue, tribe and creed.
For how do you grow the economy when income inequalities are wide, and disposable incomes keep falling? How do you create productive linkages between the urban and the rural areas, when poorly imagined interventions further distort the eco-systems and upset the production matrix? How do you run a circular sustainable governance system, when there is very little public understanding of taxation and its critical role in sustainable development? How do you explain the fact that service companies (banks in particular) represent the so called profit centres of the economy? How do you rationalise the fact that 75 percent of the working population do not earn living wages? Why is it so difficult to spin-off public sector enterprises into self-sustaining companies through the capital markets and reducing the number of quangos drawing on the treasury? How do you diversify and build professional competences if money is the only systemic store of value and all other derivatives of it are bubbled? These failures and a myriad other market distortions are the reasons for the many idle assets in the economy. The discovery of so much idle cash, with the currency swap programme of the CBN, is indicative of the growing number of misalignments in the economy.
The freedom needed is one that allows for healthy competition thus ensuring efficient resource allocation, one that allows for the careful choice of big ticket transactions in order to eliminate white elephant projects, and is one open to transparent output measurement needed to reduce and eliminate heavy freeloading.
A freedom that understands the power of markets and generates regulation driving them towards perfection rather than bucking them.
In the hanging fog (noise) of war, the purveyors of freedom need to realise this, “Most people do not want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of that responsibility –Sigmund Freud”
So when you hear “Rankadede”, “Baba”, “Igwe”, GO, Alfa etc. what they are saying is, take over our responsibilities for here and after. In effect, the weight of responsibility at the centre is the summation of the various acquiescence of responsibility in the church, mosques, shrines and various social groupings of the society, which is why the centre has to be a broad-church. Only the lionhearted can face such a challenge and still be standing.
What the tenets of faiths have not delivered now has to be achieved in the centre with a motley group. That team must now be made up of managers able to drive an induction process for growth.
The theoretical basis for creating a broad-church is what the constitution tries to capture as a document of governance.
The centre needs to challenge citizens with that responsibility that they dread, by making them be the change that they desire.
Pressing the reset button will mean going back to the parishes or wards to ensure that the level of civic engagement is strong and that local responsibility with the faith groups, charities, and activists is tied neatly to the local needs. This engagement will throw up local leaders and establish usages(traditions). It is those traditions that will evolve into edicts and rules and become established as laws in our statute books. So when we talk about the rule of law, it must be in compliance with those laws that have come out of our lifestyles and not from reviews done by cutting and pasting from jurisdictions around the world. Any other route for establishing laws will make them alien to the people and can only just be exercises in isomorphic mimicry.
This must now be followed by challenging those who hold the mandates of the people through elections to set objectives. A careful run through the 136 adjustments as analysed by AOS (African Operating Systems) and applied as relevant to the local conditions may help produce a playbook.
A statement of strategic stretch, like the one delivered by John Fitzgerald Kennedy on putting a man on the moon, will impel us from 3rd world to 1st world.
We must not fail to plan this time, or we would be condemned to repeat it.
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