Pity those who don’t feel anything at all – Sarah J Maas
Quite characteristic of despotic leadership is a lack of human feelings. Slavery, colonization, corruption and oppressions flow out of the inability of leaders to connect with the feelings of their followers. At times I just wonder ‘how did we get here as a people?’. It is clear from scriptures that we are all offsprings of the first man Adam and that the same blood runs through our veins(Acts 17.26). Regardless of race, color or creed, the basic chemistry of the human blood is the same all over the world.
To come to the place where we can aim guns at innocent young people, kill and maim with impunity, pick people off the streets and lock them behind bars for no offense and worse still, address the nation on a national crises and make no mention of the dead are beyond my comprehension. We have lost our way somewhere and we must find it for a true national rebirth. If not for DJ Switch, who captured the ‘Lekki massacre’ live on social media, there would have been credence to the pack of lies that have turned our leaders into the worst comedians of the 21st century with all the painful theatrics that have followed the unfortunate episode.
One thing that is lacking in our nation today is trust. According to John Maxwell, ‘Leaders can not lose trust and continue to influence others’. If truly Leadership is influence, then leadership is simply lost where trust is eroded. I have watched with dismay how in an attempt to shamelessly absolve themselves of culpability, the Lagos state government of Nigeria, the army and notable politicians have exonerated themselves from the horrendous shooting of harmless youths recently. I have had to shudder at the lack of empathy surrounding the entire episode and the management of its fallouts, wondering whether there shouldn’t be limits to politics and image management where there is bloodshed. The more leaders take the pathway of falsehood, trust erodes faster, justice is denied and influence takes flight. However, they must know that the day of reckoning beckons because the people will not always be silent. The human being is not built to allow oppression forever and will therefore demand for truth and justice in the end. Let all leaders who lead with impunity read the handwriting on the wall that the end is near for selfish leadership that lacks human feelings.
A good leader always begins from where the people are before attempting to take them to where they want to go. The emotional disconnect with the followers is proof positive that our collective franchise is doomed for failure. All people of influence must realize that they must first lay down their ambitions and even visions and connect with the aspirations of their people to inspire their commitment to corporate and national goals. Leadership must be careful not to be so engrossed with personal goals that it becomes insensitive to the cries, agitations and aspirations of the people. Leaders exist for the people and not the people for the leaders.
As a student of leadership particularly from over 30 years of pastoring, I have learnt that leaders are not infallible. We are capable of making mistakes, but nothing worsens situations, deepen pains and multiply rebellion as much as an attempt to cover up misdeeds with lies. Rather, owning up to the facts, acknowledging mistakes, apologizing for wrongs, and compensating for losses are better and more noble pathways to healing and restoration than concoctions of lies and unnecessary cover ups. The more a leader chooses the later, the more he loses credibility.
As for the oppressed, especially Nigerians in the references above, there is nothing worse that feeling deprived, angry, agitated, hurt and cheated, only to misdirect the emotions. Our own empathy for our fellow Nigerians and sense of nationalism must not be wasted. The more our feelings are not constructively and strategically channeled, the more our oppressors will manipulate them against us. Our feelings must be owned and acknowledged but subjected to our logic and better judgement. We must allow our values of love, service, justice and respect for the rule of law, guide us to using all legal means to achieve changes in leadership. Protests are powerful but they are not enough for national transformation. Abuses, curses and threats are of no effect. Organization must follow, ensuring the development of appropriate structures and systems to capture power and use it for common good.
It is time for people of good conscience to throw their hearts into the political ring in our nation, build alliances and strong platforms and use them for a national rebirth. The war cannot be won on social media alone. A good portion of our nation are either illiterate or semi literate. It will take distilling the message in understandable languages to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria and it is a lot of work that will require long patience and persistence. The ruling class have exploited ethnicity, illiteracy and poverty to their advantages over the years and must be tackled on those three fronts with Unity among the youths, mass education and enlightenment of the people, supported by poverty alleviating interventions. When done from true hearts of compassion and patriotism, our social interventions especially will outclass the every four year charades organized by politicians for votes alone. Personal ambitions and egos must be buried in national interest. Let the young influencers reach out to one another and connect for the good of our nation. It is time for change and the time is now!