NELSON MANDELA AND LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP FOR NIGERIA

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From available records, the first black South-African President, late Dr Nelson Mandela, is the only individual in whose honour the United Nations has ever set aside a date to celebrate.

In 2009, the General Assembly passed and adopted a Resolution that set aside July 18, being the birthday of iconic Nelson Mandela, the Madiba, as ‘Nelson Mandela International Day’.

In reaching this Resolution, the Assembly took into deep consideration the sacrifices made by Mandela vis; his commitment to freedom irrespective of race, creed or gender, unjustifiable imprisonment for twenty-seven years merely for his resistance against apartheid and, above all, his advocacy for reconciliation even with those that had deliberately and recklessly oppressed him and his fellow blacks.

Ordinarily speaking from the African, especially the black perspective, it would not have been surprising if, on release from prison and eventual rise to Presidency, Mandela had resorted to vindictiveness.

Instead of towing that line of parochialism, Mandela saw greatness in true reconciliation across the board for a more prosperous and greater South-Africa.

Throughout his tenure as President of South-Africa, no record is available to show that the Madiba ever took to recrimination. There was no occasion during which Mandela had cause to employ narratives that reminded the oppressed people of black South-Africa of what they passed through under apartheid policy.

Mandela saw in himself a unifier of the diverse composition and interest of the whole of South-Africa. He exemplified a typical adherent to the rule of law.

Under Mandela, neither ethnicity nor religion ever posed a problem to the collective will and development of South-Africa.

This is unlike what happens in Nigeria. Fifty years after the Nigerian civil war, known as Nigeria/Biafra war, aftermaths of the war, instead of dying down, are rather on the rise.

Ethnicity and religion have taken an astonishing, agonizing and most discomforting prominence in Nigeria.

Instead of old wounds being healed, the scars they had left are being forced into fresh wounds that are even bigger, deeper and more dangerously injurious than when they were first sustained.

The worst leadership Nigeria has ever deceptively imposed on itself is the Buhari-APC led government.

Before the advent of Buhari’s presidency, Nigerians had been managing their differences, with the cautious optimism that with time the differences would become a thing of the past. That was the general perception under former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

Most unstatesmanly, when Muhammadu Buhari came into power in 2015, he openly laid the foundation for ethnic and religious discrimination and unending division.

Unlike the attitude and approach of Nelson Mandela, President Buhari emphatically announced, to the consternation of patriotic Nigerians and the world in general, that those whose ethnic zones voted heavily for him would be given 97% of political patronage while those whose groups gave him 5% should not expect to get any thing more than the same percentage in reward.

True to his stand, all strategic positions in the various arms of national security are in the hands of his Hausa/Fulani tribesmen. The same applies to Customs and Excise, his Chief Of Staff and many other strategic positions.

It is not only that the positions are occupied by his people, they are and must be occupied by his fellow Moslems.

In the one hundred and three years of Nigeria’s existence, the country had never witnessed the type of threat to life, destruction of lives and property, agitation and division as it has been experiencing since Buhari’s pronouncement and subsequent actions.

While the Igbo are ceaselessly and vigorously demanding for restructuring of the country to reflect the dreams of the founding fathers of Nigeria as manifested in the Independence Constitution of 1960 and the Republican Constitution of 1963, even though some of their youths want referendum that could guarantee self determination, the Yoruba are insisting that the country must be restructured. The Niger Delta region has been very vociferous in their agitation for resource control. The Middle-Belt, who for many decades had served as errand boys of the Moslem Hausa/Fulani and who have now been subjected to heartless slaughtering and butchering by the Fulani, have irresistibly joined the demand for restructuring.

The country appears to be at the nadir of political, economic and, worrisomely, religious collapse. It is has even gotten to the very dangerous extent of youths of the ‘North’ giving a three-month quit order to the Igbo living in their territory to vacate before the 1st of October, this year.

Though the Governors in the North have debunked the quit order, the truth remains that any Igbo who stays beyond the expiration of that order has unwisely chosen to stand between the devil and the deep blue sea. If I were living in the North, I would since have relocated.

The situation in which we find ourselves in contemporary Nigeria is attributable only to failure in leadership, as exemplified by President Buhari.

Centre For Equity And Eradication Of Rural Poverty calls on our leaders, especially President Buhari who every body is praying that he recovers from his undisclosed ailment that has gulped billions in United Kingdom and return to solve the numerous problems he created for Nigeria, to learn and imbibe the true essence of leadership as typified by Dr Nelson Mandela, The Marina.

Okwubunka of Asa.

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