Home Special Features What kind of leader are you? by Ehi Braimah

What kind of leader are you? by Ehi Braimah

Ehi Braimah - lagospost.ng
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Last week, families, friends, associates and well-wishers gathered at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, to celebrate the third anniversary of Naija Times, our online newspaper, which I founded in 2020. It was a great opportunity to re-connect with professional colleagues who used to live and work in Lagos, but have now re-located to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

I did not need to ask them why Abuja has become their new home; the answer was self-evident: Abuja, with its enchanting boulevards, is beautiful and traffic congestions are not common sights as you would find in Lagos.

Each time I visit Abuja, the flat roads – I struggle to find potholes in the city with a fast-growing exotic real estate in Gusape and Katampe – and the magnificent buildings fascinate me, although some miscreants want to turn the city on its head. They should never be allowed to get away with their evil plans.

Under Nyesom Wike’s watch, the minister of the FCT, I am confident Abuja will regain its lost innocence. Life in the Abuja metropolis is quite expensive and, as you would expect, the sprawling conurbation around the city is densely populated by economic migrants.

The primary goal of Naija Times as a media organisation is to contribute to the task of nation-building and it explains why we publish weekly editorials – it is one of the vehicles we are using to reach the goal, despite the difficult operating environment.

The media industry is poorly funded but we are determined to forge ahead and accomplish the different tasks we have set for Naija Times. As we go along, new milestones as they occur would be celebrated.

We are blessed with very distinguished professionals on the Editorial Advisory Board, chaired by Akpandem James. They include media practitioners, university dons, entrepreneurs, public policy analysts, PR experts and economists. I cannot thank them enough for their support, cooperation and selfless service to Naija Times since the founding of the newspaper.

Jahman Anikulapo is our Editorial Director and he is in charge of the newsroom. Akpandem and Jahman have continued to support the Naija Times dream as my partners since July 2020 when started the journey.

How can we make Nigeria a better place? For a very long time, this question has been on my mind, and I keep searching for answers. It was primarily the motivation for setting up Naija Times which rests on three main pillars: building strong institutions, respect for the rule of law and defending the public interest.

These pillars – from all indications – will help us build a better society that will throw up responsible leaders who understand the meaning of service, influence, perseverance, self-confidence, empathy, humility, integrity and self-awareness. Such leaders should be open to change, respect others and possess strong communication and management skills.

The theme of the anniversary was, ‘Journalism in the service of society,’ which is the slogan of Naija Times. All the speakers explored this theme from different perspectives.

At the anniversary event, we formally presented a book titled, ‘For a Better Society.’ It is a compilation of editorials published in Naija Times from September 2020 to July 2023.

In his review of the book, Azu Ishiekwene, the Editor-in-Chief of Leadership newspaper, explained the importance and value of editorials:
“Newspapers – print and online alike – use the weight of their editorials to achieve any or all of these three objectives:1) influence public opinion, 2) promote critical thinking, and 3) cause people to take action.”

I agree with Azu that most of our 115 editorials in three years were aimed at challenging Nigerians to “think critically” and worry about the future of our country. It is okay to discuss our problems but it is better to come up with solutions and take action. The starting point is for Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable.

Nobel laureate Prof Wole Soyinka’s recorded goodwill message was amplified on the LED screens in the auditorium. He noted that journalists must probe the state and society because they are not mutually exclusive.

Clearly, the professor of comparative literature believes that the state and society are two sides of the same coin that should co-exist for peace, unity and progress as two strong and inter-dependent institutions. Can the state and society be strategic partners?

“Dealing with the state makes you an obvious target; the state stands to save or ruin the society,” the Nobel laureate said. “Sometimes, society itself has to be taken to task rigorously and ruthlessly. We have to ask ourselves, just what kind of people are we?”

“I feel that perhaps that there is not enough attention on the other side of the community; maybe journalists don’t quite probe deeply into their behaviour – I’m talking about the people themselves,” Prof Soyinka explained.

Consummate journalist and former presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, who was our guest speaker, interrogated the intersection between the state and society and the role of journalists in shaping public policy and building strong institutions with respect for the rule of law for a better society.

Leaders are supposed to serve the people, but is that the case in Nigeria?

Unfortunately, the elite conspiracy against Nigeria at all levels has continued to under develop Nigeria for a long time. The major achievement of these “enemies of Nigeria” is that they have turned Nigeria into a huge crime scene.

Perhaps, sociologists can explain why the primitive accumulation of wealth has become prevalent and fashionable among Nigerians – especially politicians and public officers. The contest for wealth, it would appear, is aimed at claiming a misbegotten prize. What is an individual, according to media reports, doing with over 50 properties in Abuja alone?

Why would a public officer, as it has been alleged, earn billions of Naira every month as commission on dollars sourced illegally but sold to third parties just because the officer has access to privileges?

Are we still asking how or when the rain began to beat us?

What exactly is life’s purpose if we are unable to create a humanity that thrives and spreads joy, happiness and success?

It is doubtful if there’s any Nigerian who does not want the basic things of life: good roads, constant electricity supply, clean water, affordable housing, efficient public transportation, functional healthcare system and a public education – from primary schools to tertiary institutions – that makes sense.

But what do we have? A broken and dysfunctional society with missed opportunities due to lack of purposeful leadership. The result is that Nigerians and their families are heavily dispossessed and turned into refugees and beggars in their own country.

Those we elected to preside over our affairs must aim to make the lives of Nigerians better. Since we do not have any other country to call our own, we must join hands together and make Nigeria work for us.

We are now paying the price of economic mismanagement of the past that was fueled by greed, abuse of office, bribery and corruption, and dishonesty. With a public debt of over N87 trillion, fixing the badly damaged economy is going to be a marathon – not a sprint.

The times are indeed tough, but President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has asked Nigerians to be patient with his administration. He is confident we can achieve a N1 trillion economy within three years.

In our quest to engage with other relevant stakeholders through advocacy initiatives for a better Nigeria, we established Naija Times Journalism Foundation (NTJF), the non-profit arm of Naija Times.

As we seek purposeful leadership at the national and subnational levels of government, let us also remind ourselves that “change” must begin with us. A cultural transformation that will change the way we “think and behave” is critical and pivotal to the making of a new Nigeria.

Is it the system of government that is the problem or the operators? What needs to change? Do we need a new constitution based on the clamour for re-structuring the country? Should we have regional governments based on the 1963 republican constitution?

Instead of protecting tribes and where we come from, my view is that it is better to embrace national ethos to achieve one objective: a united and prosperous Nigeria. It is better to have “State of Residence” instead of “State of Origin.”

When we “Think Nigeria First” in everything that we do, we would be on the path to greatness because what we have is a country, not a nation. It is a campaign we intend to launch next year under the auspices of Naija Times Journalism Foundation (NTJF).

Parents, teachers and religious leaders also have important roles to play in reclaiming our lost values. In our homes, work places, and communities, there are leaders but a society will always get the leader it deserves.

We are all leaders in our own right. What kind of leader are you? Every morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself: “I will lead well in any role I find myself by being honest and authentic, and I will play my part for Nigeria to become a great country.”

A leader is the conscience of society. A good leader leads by example and offers selfless service. Nigeria needs visionary leaders with these qualities, and they should be ready to make a difference.

Are you ready? The clock is ticking.

Braimah is a global public relations and marketing strategist. He is also the publisher/editor-in-chief of Naija Times (https://ntm.ng) and Lagos Post (https://lagospost.ng), and can be reached via [email protected].                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              *Most of the materials used in this article were excerpted from my message at the third anniversary of Naija Times event in Abuja last week

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