(OPINION) Ministers of the Government of the Federation(2): The burden of Leadership

By Faith Berewa

“The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which ones capacity to lead in society is limited. Robert Greenleaf

Our Ministers have certainly hit the ground running; churning out Plans and Programmes at breakneck speed, we are trying to catch our breath; A visit by the minister of works to the Abuja- Lokoja road at Koton Karfe the very next day after he was sworn in, alongside the governor of Kogi State, with an undertaking to build a flyover along the Koton Karfe corridor, as a permanent solution to the perennial flooding ravaging that area;

His vision for a ‘super’ high speed road network that will cut travel time from Abuja to Lagos to four hours! Wao!The Interior minister’s agenda includes making sure internal security is improved so that we can sleep with our eyes closed.

The Minister of Power’s pledge to succeed where others have spectacularly failed. His words “I can tell you that between six months and one year, we will start seeing improvement in the power sector.” Here we go again. We’ve been here many times before.

This statement reminds me of a certain cartoon about Chief Bola Ige of blessed memory, who promised stable power supply after his appointment by President Olusegun Obasanjo as Minister of power and steel in 1999.

He was depicted in the boxing ring against unstable power supply and roundly pummeled. Sadly, it’s been the case ever since. And the ambitious Plan by the minister of Solid Minerals Development for that sector to contribute 50 percent to the Nation’s GDP.?

With the rot in that sector, he certainly has his work cut out.Humanitarian and poverty Alleviation minister proposal to reduce poverty. “Our work is to see how we can get those in poverty out and those on the verge of getting into poverty move to social safety to protect them from falling into poverty.

In a couple of weeks, we will be fully launching into this plan to take over 136 million Nigerians out of poverty” Hmmmm…What about the Riot Act by the FCT minister to staff, residents and…. Corn Sellers! If marks are to be awarded for the best Inaugural Agenda, I will give the embattled Arts, Culture and Creative economy minister 10 out of 10.

However, talk is cheap, anyone can talk. Of course not everyone is buying in. My friend described these moves as “Initial gragra’’.As I stated in my previous piece, we are masters at setting agenda, policies and plans. It is not enough to reel out agenda, Ideas, plans etc..

As Arthur Gordon, author of a touch of wonder said- “nothing is easier than saying words; nothing is harder than living them day by day. What you promise today, must be renewed tomorrow, and each day that stretched out before you”.

Are Nigerians really paying attention to what the ministers are saying? We are long suffering souls who have been here before. With our hands on our chin, we are in siddon- look mode. Our Ministers are not just political appointees, they are the CEOs and Strategic Leaders of their various ministries, a role that comes with enormous responsibilities for how government strategy is translated into results and development realities in real time.

This places so much demands on them for what experts have called Responsible Leadership, which is not only the willingness to take responsibility for processes, procedures and outcomes, but the ability to influence team members for peak performance and sustainable organizational success.

Unfortunately, most previous Ministers occupied these positions with no sense of responsibility for the success of government policies and programmes; a menace predicated on a vicious commitment to self-aggrandisement and utter disregard for public good.

Personally I believe this is what really makes their assignments daunting. But one is made to wonder if these Ministers are really aware that history beckons on them. Are they conscious of the monumental task they are now faced with?

The ministers as the president’s foot soldiers, actualizing his vision for the country requires exceptional leadership skills for them to succeed in their roles. Our Ministers should recognize that strategic leadership in any sector is a complex interplay of three domains requiring the strategic leaders to become one-in-all of almost everything about the organization; an embodiment of virtue in behaviour, professionalism in duty and great ability to relate with, and influence people to give their best consistently.

Without a deliberate commitment to these strategic leadership demands, our Ministers are certainly going to waste another 4 years after the similitude of their predecessors. Nigeria needs a new direction and the Ministers are the drivers to lead all other government agencies to take us out of this present socio-economic dungeon.

To say that Nigeria is stranded as a nation is an understatement, and the nation’s failure is squarely on strategic leadership failures of previous Cabinets. Our nation is a classic case of leadership failure.

Since nations go the way of its leaders, we have been heading in the direction of poverty, Insecurity, deep divisions and underdevelopment. It cannot be reiterated enough, we need our Ministers to be selfless. Run government business with a Moral Compass.

This is the hall mark of great leaders This can only happen by virtuous actions- seeking public good above all else. The greatest strength of leadership is character. You just cannot remove character from leadership.

Once you do that, there is no leadership. You can still have the title of Minister but no leadership. And Character is simply the practice of virtues. This must be the foundation for good governance.

For “when governments esteem virtue, the nation flourishes, when they disdain virtue, the nation crumbles” John Adams. This is an ancient truth that has separated prosperous nations from poor nations. Whether we like it or like it not, our ministers can only lead us in the direction of the virtues they embrace in the discharge of their duties or in the direction of the vices they remain accustomed to.

Nigeria will flourish if our Ministers embrace Virtuous Leadership practices in governance or Nigeria will famish if our Ministers remain in the practice of the vicious leadership styles that have crippled us as a nation.

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