OP-UNEDITED | Why Change Must Begin From The Top, Not From Below – By Jude ‘Feranmi
By Jude ‘Feranmi
“Water does not flow uphill.”
The above quote is not a proverb nor is it an adage. In fact, in philosophical terms it is the kind of statement that belongs to the class of apriori knowledge. You don’t need anyone to explain to you and it needs no external or additional information for you to comprehend it if you simply understand the meaning of those words.
This quote also happens to be one of the most used quotes in leadership trainings, some of which i have attended and others where i have trained others. The essence of Leadership is to be able to get a group of people to achieve a desirable goal either of the group or of the leader. The greatest Leaders are usually those who achieve these desirable goals in the most efficient and effective manners.
Water does not flow uphill is then usually used to explain the natural flow and order of things as far as leadership is concerned seeing that human beings themselves are a product of nature. If you would like to see anything happen with human beings, it has to start from the top and that is where the notion of Leadership By Example comes from as the most effective way of Leadership.
Let’s put all these Leadership training tips aside and focus on the attempted show of “change” that the incumbent administration decided to put to Nigerians. I am glad that as far as the online perception of this attempt was, there is a reasonable and sufficient amount of the right dose of response that the handlers of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture can take home as feedback.
APC’s promise to bring about CHANGE was welcome with open hands and in fact open hearts by Nigerians, howbeit without a proper understanding of how this change would come about. To the APC and their leaders, the understanding was that change was somehow going to have to start from the people who will then lead the change to the political offices and the nooks and crannies where CHANGE is really needed. To us followers, it is a different ball game and i hope the following arguments also provide answers to those who think there cannot be a change in our leaders if we the followers don’t change.
The innate problem with that argument are immense (i) Everybody cannot change for the better, there is no society where that happens (ii) It will take a very long time to effect change at the top from the bottom should it even be possible (iii) Changing a society does not require everybody’s direct efforts or even the majority’s direct efforts, let us hold in our left hand what democracy teaches us because like i love to say, in a democratic society where majority of citizens are half blind, the leaders of such society will be half blind. What is needed to bring about change in a society is a tenacious minority at the top who would lead the CHANGE.
The singular backing for these assertions is a simple yet powerful word – INFLUENCE. Those at the top wield more influence than those below. An action by the President of the federal republic will influence not just people within our country but even those outside our shores and borders. The case of Tanzania’s President comes to mind here. And moreso, it is hypocrisy of the highest order to demand a change of attitude from those below when those at the top have not changed and i will tell you why.
There is a reason why we compare leadership with the “top” and not the bottom. I also subscribe to the fact that the office of the citizen is the highest in the land, however that office is down below. Whatever actions i take as a citizen is known only to those who are within my circles. Whatever actions those elected take are known to all and sundry and i will give you an example.
Dr Joe Abah decides to “Buy Naija to Grow the Naira” so he uses an Innoson Jeep as his official car and I decide to do the same. In the scheme of things, I get to influence those around me by talking to them to follow suit while Dr Joe Abah doesn’t even need to say anything since as a public officer, whatever he does visibly is seen by lots of Nigerians. Who gets to influence people’s attitudes to change more?
So let’s do some math. If there are less than 7000 politically elected officers in the whole country and they decide to change their attitude so much so that it is evident and we can all see. Let’s say Mr President starts by selling all but one of those Presidential jets in the Villa and then the National Assembly follows suit by declaring their budget open so that we know what goes where plus reduce their almost impossible allowances to next to nothing and then Governors decide to scrap the entire security vote that gets lost in their pockets without accountability to anybody and this trend continues down to the 7001st political officer in the Federal Republic. Do you think we would need an event to commemorate the beginning of a campaign for a change in attitude of Nigerians?
Take 7000 Nigerians in each of the local governments of the federal republican let them undergo a multi-religious baptism into a new life so that they even fall sick should they witness an act of their former Nigerian-ness like throwing dirt on the streets without recourse to how it affects drainages and then leads to flooding and a loss in lives and properties worth millions of naira. Considering that they influence those around them and putting into cognizance our unbelievable percentage growth which i learnt statistically increases during recession periods, How many more years would it take to replicate that feat to influence the whole country? (25 Marks)
Those who are versed in corporate governance in the private sector will also be able to better explain what exactly it means to bring about change. Human beings are always conservative and the pain of change no matter how good the promised land is would always be a difficult inertia to overcome. Just Ask Moses at the bank of the River Nile after leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and what Nigerians are experiencing is nothing compared with what the children of Israel experienced in the hands of the Egyptians.( This is my opinion ). Nobody Leads Change from the rear. It doesn’t work! It will never materialize.
I do not particularly write this so that the likes of Tolu Ogunlesi, Bashir Ahmad and Garba Shehu can go and tell their colleagues at the Ministry of Information and Culture to re-strategize. It is becoming more and more evident that this APC-Led administration is NOT in any unique way different from the leadership that we have had in Nigeria for the last 50 years and that they are only playing the role of a John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the prophet. What we as citizens must know and embrace is our ability to not derail from our vision of what the New Nigeria is by settling for this over-diluted version of change and leadership that APC offers.
In the end, I believe that true leaders will emerge, leaders who will represent the best of us to lead the rest of us. We can only hope that we survive as part of the generation that will witness that newness of life.
National Youth Leader, KOWA PARTY
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