Header Ads

Reinventing Leadership In Times Of Crisis By Y.Z Yau



Perhaps this should also give us the opportunity to reflect on the type of society we want: do we continue to live with this increasing inequality so that we can continue to produce a few Dangotes while millions sleep under the bridge or do we work towards a more just, equitable society where our focus would be to democratise resources to meet the needs of all and seek to banish hunger?

When in the face of the dangers that COVID-19 presents, a country is reduced to a debate that is cast as a binary option between lockdown and hunger, you know that leadership has gone on leave outside of the country. This is not just at the level of government, critical as that is, but also in the wider breath of leadership centres in the country – business, civil society, religious, etc. – no one wants both and the debate how can we banish the reason for both.

How could it be that a government is so bereft of ideas in designing and implementing effective palliative measures but there is no forceful presentation and canvassing of an alternative beyond the clap trap of “if you do not do me palliative, I will not do you lockdown?” How come the mobilisational capacity and the civic agency of the citizenry have all but gone to sleep, left by an ineffectual stirring of few civil society organisations in an ineffective shout of catch phrases of monitoring accountability of the implementation of the palliatives? Are we saying that we agree there is a palliatives scheme which has credibility and potentially effective that we can monitor? Labour has suddenly disappeared in the radar to leave medical and health workers at the frontline of the battle against COVID-19 to negotiate on their own protection and hazards at the service of the nation. The prophets of private sector as the engine of growth have suddenly gone quite: Can they step out and show leadership if they truly want us to believe in their worn-out message that the private sector, not the state, is the solution. Truth is that like leeches, they feast on the public sector they want us to hate, to nourish for their phenomenal profits.

There is no point beating a dead horse in this matter. This government has shown an unparalleled level of incompetence in confronting the challenges of COVID-19. It has adequate window of grace to do its preparation. Since late January, it could have built and equipped testing, isolation and quarantine centres at all the major international gateways of the country and implement a compulsory quarantine for all coming into the county, the way a number of countries did. It did not and instead it is responding in an ad-hoc manner after the chicken gone home to roast. It would have used the grace period to design and even test run a palliative system, mobilizing ideas in an inclusive way. It did not and instead in the late hour got a few political appointees and bureaucrats to do what they have no idea about. How can it be that in an all-important battle of save lives, government will opt for a non-inclusive body to handle this task? The same government that is calling on all (private sector, development partners, individuals) to make contribution but doesn’t want any of these to be part of the management of the resources or even harvest ideas from these on how to use the resources.

It would have carried out a massive sensitization campaign to prepare people both psychologically and in terms of understanding that we all have a role to play in curbing the spread of the virus. It missed this opportunity such that today it is not outlandish to hear people in the streets offering the argument that it is better to die outside in the hospital than to die in groaning at home to the fangs of hunger.

The Presidential Taskforce is all but a self-serving committee only interested in the daily sitting allowance they get (reported to be N500,000 per day: give a local community organization in Zuba this amount to mount a community sensitisation campaign, it could succeed in getting everyone to be at home, palliative or not). Its messages are fall flat and unbelievable because it has not worked to earn public trust and confidence. Take as simple as providing electricity free for the citizens under lockdown. The government cannot fight away to reach agreement with the DisCos. The presidential committee does not understand the importance of electricity in the lockdown period. It is not for citizens to have cold water and keep perishable things (which is also important) but that in the lockdown, electricity and data are what people need to stay connected and informed.

What do we see? It is a horrible celebration of anarchy as we gleefully report of armed youth committing arson or robbery staking neighbourhood and we say it is paying the government right. The problem is that it is not the government that is paying for the consequences. It is our own people as double victims first of arson and rubbery and then second at the hand of COVID-19 when being out, exposed, heighten the possibility of contracting the virus. We amplify the messages of anarchy in the mistaken belief that this will force the government to act. The truth is that no anarchy has ever solved any social problem. They cannot accelerate history as in the dawn of the social revolution. They can only disorganize and defocus the revolutionary forces of real social. A mob cannot be the leadership that is missing across the breath of society in Nigeria.

But where government has failed, it becomes necessary for citizens to take the leadership. We cannot keep waiting for a government that is incapable of providing an aspiring leadership to lead the way. We must become the saviours of our communities. We have done enough of lamentation. Now is time to end that and think boldly and act swiftly. We must understand the key challenges which is curbing the spread of the virus while ensuring people have food to eat under lockdown and provide concrete solutions that can work whether government accepts them or not. Let it be known that even without lockdown, millions of Nigeria have been going to bed hungry.

Perhaps this should also give us the opportunity to reflect on the type of society we want: do we continue to live with this increasing inequality so that we can continue to produce a few Dangotes while millions sleep under the bridge or do we work towards a more just, equitable society where our focus would be to democratise resources to meet the needs of all and seek to banish hunger?

Post a Comment

0 Comments