Leadership bytes from Edo –2

I thought I was done with the Edo State matter last week. However, the events that have played out since the disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki from participating in the primaries of the All Progressives Congress have revealed the underbellies of the gross dysfunction in the dynamics of leadership in Nigeria as well as the apparent conscienceless and unprincipled nuances that undergird such dynamics.

Since it is out of the purview and intent of this column to delve into the nitty-gritty of the events, I will not bore you with the sickening details. It would have been amusing if only it wasn’t so tragically disheartening. So, I will limit myself to the leadership lessons to be learnt therefrom.

The People’s Democratic Party has been in court with Obaseki over the incongruity of his certificates. Yet in a sad twist of fate, the same Obaseki left his party, picked the membership form of PDP on Thursday last week and was given a clearance that same day to contest in the primaries of the party which has now been postponed to accommodate his declaration of intention. It would be safe to assume therefore that the court case is dead on arrival. Wasn’t this the same ground on which PDP got the governorship seat in Bayelsa? What if Obaseki wins the election as PDP candidate and the APC goes to court citing the Bayelsa case as precedent? When you make crooked men rulers, never expect them to draw straight lines!!!

When a leader is driven by considerations other than the collective interest, he will obey laws in breach and in time, if no one challenges him, make himself the law. By virtue of the Nigerian electoral laws, election tickets are given to parties, not the individual. What that should mean is that when a person relinquishes his membership of a party, he should be honorable enough to vacate the position that he was holding in trust for the party. But the Nigerian political space parades leaders who have no regard for the very law they run to when they are clutching to a straw for survival. Governor Ortom in Benue State, Saraki in Kwara State, Tambuwal in Sokoto and so many legislators who routinely change parties without vacating office! Whenever individuals become bigger than the laws of a society, that society will never develop because it will be bogged down by the impunity of such immunity.

No two people in an argument can be totally right or totally wrong. Relationships are based on an entente that factors in the possibility of infallibility on either side of the spectrum. Great leaders make compromises to accommodate the viewpoint of others, not because they (the others) are right but because they want to learn, gain better understanding of a situation and are more concerned with the collective goal. No matter how misguided you think the other party is, remember that even a dead clock is right at least twice a day! Between Oshiomhole and Obaseki, who exactly is wrong and who is right? Both and neither!

I don’t know what books these gladiators read, but diplomacy (not couched deception) cannot be a strong subject in those books. When leaders raise other leaders, they must let go of any tenterhooks and simply let those they have raised function. Breathing down the shoulder of your protégé because you want him perpetually indebted to you is puerile and reveals clearly that there was an ulterior motive for raising that leader in the first place. In my functions as Pastor, Life Coach and Business Consultant, I have seen this at play in various settings. I know pastors who developed serious health challenges because some subordinates they trained and were raising to lighten their burden in ministry jumped ship at very critical times in the pastor’s life and ministry when they were most needed.  I also know of corporate organizations where the management hardly spends money to train their staff anymore because they have experienced staff exodus in time past after such staff have been exposed to sometimes expensive training.

By nature, humans hug control. When we cannot control situations, we attempt to control people! As a leader, recognize that there may be chinks in your own armour. Even idols have clay feet. Unless your name is God, NEVER attempt playing omnipotent and omniscient over anyone’s life. If you raise people and they still go ahead to stab you in the back even when you have done nothing but good towards them, not to worry, life is in stages; what goes round eventually comes around! Use your position to lift others up for the simple reason that you want to make life better for others and in appreciation of the fact that you also made it to the top because some people gave you a chance and made their own shoulders available for you to climb on. The kingmaker must never become the king’s puppeteer too. Step aside and watch your protégé shine. Even if they don’t admit it, their performance is a reflection of your glory!

Any infractions you condemned in others must not become your own Achilles’ heels. Oshiomhole waged war against godfatherism and prebendal politics before and when he was governor. It is not appropriate to uproot a model in one hand and then seek to replicate the same now that you are out of office.

On the other hand, I have a strong feeling that Obaseki must have read and mastered “THE 48 LAWS OF POWER” by Robert Greene as well as “THE PRINCE” by Nicolo Machiaveli. In the former, he probably learnt the technique of doing everything to cut loose and alienate those who help you into power so that they do not compromise you. From Machiaveli, he must have learnt that as long as you achieve your objective, any strategy deployed is fair game even if it includes burning the house you live in down! For such people, then end not only justifies the means but also the meanness. Neither is a model for meaningful leadership.

As a leader, when you choose to fight dirty, scruples are sacrificed on the altar of ego. Principles are subordinated to preferences. When the fight gains traction, all parties are not only muddied but every nose involved in the fight is bloodied. When in the unbridled rage of ego and ambition gone rogue, we burn down the very house that gave us shelter and recognition, simply because we want to be seen as the only one who is right and aggrieved, we are like the proverbial “arigisegi” wood insect in Yoruba folklore, which simply piles up the burden of the wood it seeks to destroys on its own head.

The situation appears politically beneficial for PDP now. But the chickens will eventually come home to roost. The battle for position may be won. But the victory is pyrrhic because in the long run, the war for integrity and service in leadership will be lost.

Whichever party, APC or PDP wins the Edo governorship seat later this year, Nigeria would have lost another war, this time to political terrorism with the brigandage of vicious ambition!

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!




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