“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope … which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” – Robert F. Kennedy
As the build-up to the 2023 general elections heightens, we must interrogate the ethno-centric and parochial leadership selection patterns of the treacherous political class and the usual game of empty promises.
This article aims at provoking an understanding of the contemporary disruptive leadership thinking ecosystem and to reflect on the critical milestones for emancipatory and normative citizens’ consensus for democratic reform and national cohesion. Citizens’ engagement is required for the turnaround of the republic, where equity and justice are a common denominator for nation building.
Undeniably, the political geography of chaos and leadership mismatch is already dominating newspaper headlines and television shows today – whether it be the abysmal APC, jesting opposition party (the PDP), or the irrational and treacherous 9th national assembly (vis-à-vis the 2021 Electoral Bill conundrum). These are all besides the challenges of insecurity, fuel subsidy quagmire, Igbo presidency, which are further proofs of symptoms of the fragility of the Nigerian state.
Genuine citizens’ consensus is germane; so, too, is disruptive leadership thinking, which not only shapes whether a new set of purpose-driven leaders will emerge but is also intentional about paradigm and sustainable mind shift. A challenger leadership attitude is required to recalibrate the state capture of power and resources for meaningful development and progress. Disruptive leadership thinking begins with a strong, emancipatory and national dialogue project which seeks to challenge and recapture the Nigerian state from the ludicrousness of unrepentant political jobbers and their collaborators.
Remarkably, the leadership skills set of character, competence and capacity can guarantee the best outcomes for the 2023 general elections. More importantly, we must move away from the primordial turn-by-turn disposition that has deprived us as a people of genuine representation and authentic nation building dialogue.
The citizens’ consensus framework and mindset shift must interrogate past actions and current political office holders’ aspirations beyond ethnic, religious and political party lines and declarations of intent. The debate must begin with the forensic audit of sources of wealth and campaign funding. What do the presidential candidates have to offer? What do the national development strategy and manifesto of each candidate look like? What do they include? Are the strategies evidence-based? Does each candidate have a strategy? What are the indicators of project deliverables, activities, milestones and means of verification of each year outside bureaucratic channels? What are the interconnections between state revenue and expenditure framework? What are the candidates’ credentials for global political engineering and international diplomacy?
Citizens’ spotlights and questions on agenda-setting for the 2023 general elections should be based on strong leadership, stakeholder engagement knowledge, sound people and management experience, and technical skills on public and digital diplomacy with various ethnic nationalities, civil society, media, local and state governments, the private sector, and other genuine stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Furthermore, making debates key to electioneering and ensuring parties re-orient candidates’ selection and recruitment processes help to safeguard democracy and social justice.
Consequently, presidential candidates must have an independent and clear frame of mind. This is necessary to manage diversity and shape transformational national programmes, ensure national healing and forgiveness mechanisms by leveraging on international governance best practices.
As citizens, it is imperative that we canvass for and support a presidential candidate that can ensure openness, listen to businesses, invest in education and skills, import ideas and talent, and learn from the other progressive jurisdictions, particularly the East Asian experience, in order to leapfrog development and governance. It is instructive to note that East Asian countries had, similar to ours, trajectories of natural resources endowments, ethnic disunity, frail institutions, weak democracy, subsistence agriculture and the negative legacy of commodity and colonial exploitation, but they were able to overcome the challenges to build a virile nation.
Overall, the most significant approach that should shape citizens’ conversations for the 2023 general elections is a strategy of clear guiding principles, with focus on truth telling for the reconciliation of the country.
Ceaselessly, the Office of the Citizen has become commanding in the disruptive leadership thinking ecosystem and it is the pathway forward to a sustainable social contract, transparency and accountability. Moreover, underpinning the seriousness of a national agenda and mind shift is that citizens should make social justice a key pillar in their engagements with the presidential candidates and act as accountability partners in the governance process whilst the president is in office.
While paid publicists and other media strategists are selling their candidates through the media (traditional and social), the relevance of the press in the emergence of a credible leader cannot be over-emphasised. The media must take up the obligation of self-censorship, social responsibility and accountability to the people. They must act as strategic gate-keepers by examining those offering themselves for the office of the president. Journalists and media handlers must remain independent of political interferences. Finding the balance between generating revenue from politicians while holding onto the well-established journalistic standards and maintaining editorial independence has become imperative for credible leadership recruitment for the general elections.
Sadly, the media scan and content analyses of those for and against some of the candidates in the last few weeks are provokingly worrisome. The power of media owners and editorial slants must also be interrogated to determine what is factual in this era of fake news and misinformation.
The political class must respect the rule of law and the electoral process. The national assembly should speed up on their deliberations on the electoral bill and the president must speedily assent to it in the interest of the common good.
As citizens, we must join hands to exchange ideas on the current political climate ahead of the 2023 general elections, and help promote free, fair and credible elections by prioritising disruptive leadership thinking to reset the country on the path of progress. Let a new age dawn!
Orovwuje is Founder Humanitarian Care for Displaced Persons, Lagos. Nigeria. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and on 08034745325.