LEADERSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY, CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS: A LECTURE DELIVERED BY DR. LAWRENCE CHUKU, ON THE INAUGURATION OF THE 8TH NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF RIVERS STATE YOUTH FEDERATION HELD ON THE 13TH OF NOVEMBER, 2021 AT THE RIVERS STATE NUJ SECRETARIAT, MOSCOW ROAD, PORT-HARCOURT.
Leadership is the art of inspiring and motivating people into action towards achieving a collective goal. It is all about developing people and assisting others attain their full potential.
Leaders at different strata or sphere of life have emerged through different ways: some were or are born Leader, some have learnt the art of Leadership and have become leaders, some through manipulation or coercion have become leaders and are governing us today.
What type of Leadership do we yearn for at this Twenty first century?
*Socratic philosophy of Leadership* suggest that people should be governed by those with the greatest knowledge, abilities and virtues, who possess a deep knowledge of themselves.
*In Plato’s opinion,* a leader must be endowed with wisdom. He also believes that Leadership should be characterized with value-based ideas, strong moral and character. *Machiavelli* believes that a good leader must have authenticity (have people’s support), displaying openness, having intelligence, and should be feared rather than loved. *But I vehemently disagree with Machiavelli that a leader should be feared rather than loved.* When a leader is loved, he is respected, and respect is not a thing you demand for, buy, borrow or obtain by forces of coercion. *I have never been a student of Machiavellian philosophy of Leadership as his Leadership philosophy entail lies, manipulation and the use of force of coercion to achieve goals.*
*Machiavelli leadership philosophy* create amoral Leaders who have no sense of judgement of what is right or wrong but for what is necessary for them to cling to power.
_This type of Leadership is ruthless, instills fear and has the propensity to set virtue aside. When virtue, Knowledge, wisdom and morality are set aside then we are bound to witness failure in Leadership and governance, hence the challenges we have today_
*Aristotle* thinks that an effective Leader should first of all be a good follower as to intimately know the needs of the people. *Aristotle* was not only a good leader because he was a good follower, but also because *he combined ethics and action,* thereby doing the right thing by seeing and appreciating good things with a high sense of morality.
*All the philosophers agreed that Education* is the bedrock of Leadership. Socrates was the greatest of them all because he placed a great emphasis on Self-knowledge and learning.
*At the various levels of government today in Nigeria, how serious is education taken?* In this Twenty first century where education is at the forefront in developed and developing nations, what can we say of our primary and secondary schools, in terms of infrastructure and manpower development?
Do we have teachers? Those available in our school today are they updated with training as to meet up with the requirements and challenges of the twenty first century teachers? Are the classrooms and other teaching tools available? *Education is the precursor for quality Leadership in the twenty first century.*
Leaders must be properly educated and enlightened as to enable them to be able to inspire and motivate their followers. They must be able to manage a formidable team that will help them actualize a common goal for the interest of the people they lead. Leaders must have the ability to handle different spheres and perspectives of life. They must be true servants of the people they lead, and they must lead by example. *As Chief Eze Chuwuemeka Eze puts it “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”.*
Exemplary leadership facilitates the effective mobilization, management and proper understanding that will bring to bear the necessary changes and development needed.
*Globally, Leaders at this Twenty first century* need to tackle the existing threats of terrorism, hungry, infectious disease, ethnic strives and agitations, climate change, water scarcity, energy security, and international migration flow.
The consequences of bad Leadership in Nigeria after the civil war that have metamorphosed to our challenges today *include:* low public Accountability and corruption at various levels, violations of people’s right, criminalization of politics, weak Legislators with criminal records, centralization of power and authority, weak civil society, corrupt and ethnic religious leaders, lack of transparency, crime and terrorism, unemployment, loss of local businesses, state Governors with poor knowledge about developmental issues and low level of education.
If all these challenges can be surmounted then the likelihood of a better tomorrow or growth and development can be anticipated.
*In all these, if vigorous quality education is not engaged as we observed in Rivers State between 2007-2015 when His Excellency, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was the Governor, then we would have lost it all here in Rivers State.*
Thank you and God bless you.