RESPONSIBILITY AND EMPATHY: TWO KEYS ELEMENTS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND

Leadership is the most dynamic endeavor to embark upon. There are fewer perfect predictions and more surprises than you might have thought about when aspiring for it. Irrespective of these surprises, a leader’s ability to show responsibility and empathy makes room for successful leadership. I don’t know how you feel about Mahatma Gandhi of Indian but he is a cool example of responsible leadership.

What is my point when I say Responsible Leadership?
Jack Zenger in his article that was featured on Forbes.com explained that Responsible Leadership was a step beyond the ability to be accountable. According to Jack, Responsible Leadership is the mindset that says, “I am the person who must make this happen,” whether it stems from your belief or because your job requires this of you, or there is some social force binding you to this obligation. Simple, clear, and direct but our current Federal Government lacks this understanding. What to them is the idea of leadership I keep asking. Let me be specific and note that the President as an individual and through his office takes the lead in delivering responsible leadership to Nigerians, however, that has not been the case. From the last announcement, Nigeria is presumed to be over 200 Million and through an election, President Buhari got the opportunity to be the number one citizen and what this means is that he is supposed to show the quality of responsible behavior through his willingness to take charge and not shirk from decisions. Again, Jack notes that it means giving up being “one of the group” and instead, accepting the role of the leader. This has not been the case, like every Nigerian the President has continued to express shock at events and happenings. A responsible leader accepts criticism for errors and wrong decisions, even for the right decisions. There is clear evidence of measures been taken to fix challenges and assuage anyone discomforted.

Responsible leadership comes with avoiding blame games and standing up for what has happened. This the APC Federal government has failed at. Never in the history of their leadership have they taken responsibility for events. They take pride in ascribing their failures to the PDP. What a wonder, we know the PDP failed so why not do things differently instead of telling us that you are failing because the PDP failed. How did we get here? Responsible Leadership entails using scare and/or available resources with even greater care than if they were their own. I won’t write much about this> Didn’t you read about the money allocated to refurbish the NTA or is it the one for renovation of the National Assembly, there are too many to mention. Ah, the series of fainting during financial probing just came to my mind, please someone should tell the APC led Federal Government that responsible leadership is the hallmark of leadership especially when a nation is on the path of development (are we even on this path?). In their policies, budgets, and communications the slightest sense of responsibility is missing. In one of the now-infamous quotes of President Buhari, he said ‘I Belong To Everybody And I Belong To Nobody’ this earned him a lot of support but how quick he was to forget he made such a statement or how cynical was the PR agent that gave him that line to lure away Nigerians. This is how Mahatma Gandhi acted rightly the words of Buhari, he simply resorted to living simple and poor, like millions of people in his country, this singular act made Indians see Gandhi as one of their own, for they could see and feel their predicaments in Gandhi. Rick Warren once said that “Leadership starts with understanding responsibility, not ability. Leadership is Stewardship, not a show.”

Ok, away from responsibility and over to empathy, the ability to understand the need of others. The show that you are aware of their feelings and thoughts. An empathetic government can understand the yarning’s of the people. It becomes difficult for a government to inspire her populace or earn their trust when there is no show of empathy from such a government. The APC-led Federal government has failed to prove times without a number that they feel and understand the plight of Nigerians and as normal this has continued to pitch the government against the people and lose the trust of the people. Every day, I read apology notes from the government supporters who have now decided to withdraw their faith and support in the government (don’t draw my attention to those paid supporters). A regime that lacks direction and a sense of competence will always find it difficult to show empathy. They will classify request for empathy from the citizens as wanting the government to agree with the viewpoint of the people always (didn’t you read the words from the Presidency during the last EndSars protect, that the Presidency should not be presumed weak because they allowed the protest go on), that is how an insecure government sees the call for concern and empathy from her citizens.

If you still do not agree with me that the APC led Federal Government lacks empathy then this paragraph is especially for you. While the President was well present at Katsina, over 300 schoolboys were reported taken away from a Secondary school by gunmen and that should be a matter of urgent national concern that calls on the attention of the President. In a show of leadership pride and to make it clear that the government is not directed by the yearnings of the people, a Federal delegation led by the Senate President was dispatched. That is not a bad idea, but it becomes a poor show of empathy because the President is right there in the state. A swift move by the President to the scene would have meant more than sending a delegation (even if it was just an act of pretense). These same people were the ones that cried wolf when GEJ didn’t leave Abuja to Borno when the Chibok girls were adopted. You see that leadership looks easy to the outsider until he steps in. Spare me any thoughts about security concerns, if a President of a nation cannot visit any part of his country (with his massive and intelligence-backed security) then there is a problem and the people must be informed accordingly and that is part of Responsible Leadership. Again, remember that the President is supposed to be the Father of the nation, including these young boys adopted, which sort of father would hear his child has been kidnapped and would send his colleague from the office to go assess the situation? In my clime, they would call such a human with no human empathy.

Recent happenings ranging from the press release by the presidential aid about the gruesome murder of farmers in Borno state, the president keeping mute about the EndSars shootings at Lekki, the U-turn of the President on the invitation of the House of Reps to discuss the security challenges of the Nation, and lots more all show that we have a government that lacks empathy.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people to inspire and empower their lives.” Every day the number of young (all age) Nigerians seeking to leave the shores of the country continue to surge high because a society that lacks leadership empathy will see her citizens migrate to one that empathy is inherent. It will be unrealistic to advise the government that they need to change the state of things because the elders say “Dog when wan lost nor dey master whistle” (the dog that is sure to go missing never listens to the masters whistle), my prayer is we survive this era of governance and may God hear our cries and empower us to bring in a leader that will be responsible and empathetic to the people.

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