Democracy and Effective Leadership in the New Millennium
Executive Director, Pan-African Reconciliation Centre &
African Centre for Peace Education and Training.
Being the paper presented at the
"Distinguished Service Merit Award for Excellence" ceremony which was
conferred on him by the Federal
College of Education (Technical), Bichi, Kano, [Northern Nigeria] on April 5,
" The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. - Mark Twain"
Your Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Vice-President
Your Excellency, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, President of the
Senate of the
Your Excellency, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na'Aba, Speaker of the
House of Representatives of the
Your Excellency, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, The Governor of
Your Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo, the First
Lady of the
Your Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Titi Atiku Abubakar, Wife of
the Vice President of the
Honourable Chairman of this august occasion,
My Lords spiritual and temporal,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to be amongst you today as the guest speaker for
this august occasion and I must conscientiously commend the deep and erudite
sense of perception of the organisers for choosing the topic: "Democracy
and effective leadership in the new millennium" as the subject of this
speech in view of its exceptional pungency and
indispensable currency for the contemporary socio-political development
of our dear country, Nigeria.
It is a great pleasure for me to be amongst you today as the guest speaker for this august occasion and I must conscientiously commend the deep and erudite sense of perception of the organisers for choosing the topic: "Democracy and effective leadership in the new millennium" as the subject of this speech in view of its exceptional pungency and indispensable currency for the contemporary socio-political development of our dear country, Nigeria.
It goes without saying that we are undergoing an excruciating novel experience after three different failed attempts at the universally accepted norm of governance since our flag independence on October 1st, 1960 not because the system itself is bad but the methodology of the ill-prepared and self-seeking operators that took over the mantle of leadership from our erstwhile colonial overlords left so much to be desired. This was what made the revered Chief Obafemi Awolowo (God bless his soul) to say sometime in 1985 that the way things were going then, the existing generation would never witness the veritable democracy for many years to come. Obviously what transpired between that time and now could be regarded to be the incredible prophetic vision of the sage. Between 1987 and 1992 the country painstakingly went through what could be regarded as diarchy that the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines as government by two independent authorities that is the military and civilian. The military being at the apex while civilian governors, after many irrational fits and starts, were allowed to partially run the states in preparation of the "pseudo-disengagement" of the former from the reins of political administration. The traumatic experience the country went through in the ensuing five years will not be forgotten in a hurry by this generation since it became a total pariah which no decent one in the international community ever wished to touch with a ten metre pole. Thanks to divine intervention and unalloyed, unflinching and committed efforts of the present dispensation coupled with the strong will of its people, the country can once again raise its head in the comity of civilised nations. The reason, therefore, cannot be farfetched where we all, both young and old must guard this new divinely endowed dispensation very jealously so that the labour of our heroes past shall not be in vain.
Existing records indicate that the peace and social
justice dilemma of
The way the erstwhile British colonial masters wedged both
the 'northern and southern' protectorates of Nigeria together in 1914 still
leaves much to be desired and whichever way one looks at it this obviously is
the major cause of the bloody crises erupting all over the place. Be that as it
may, the country is sitting on a keg of gun powder if those in the saddle of
political power today cannot devise a way whereby all ethnic nationalities in
the country can negotiate their terms of peaceful corporate existence at a
roundtable otherwise may God forbid the whole Africa having another Eritrea,
Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan in its hands. This is in view of the fact that every
fourth African you find anywhere is a Nigerian and the continent has had its
enough share of refugee and internally displaced persons problems and cannot,
for whatever reason absorb more. Since the crux of this address is Democracy and
Effective Leadership in the New Millennium, it is pertinent at this stage to
take a cursory look at its origin in
Historical records show that
The Normans who subjugated
King John, during the Norman period, was notorious
for bad governance; he grossly insulted the barons, and also brutally maltreated
the common man while imposing heavy taxes without the counsel and consent of the
Great Council. Further he imposed Octroi duties on goods and restricted
movements, without the council’s consent and interfered with the rights of the
elite class. The nobles, the barons and the bishops, therefore united under the
leadership of Bishop Stephen Langton to protest the tyranny and prepared a Charter
of Rights which had the support of the disgruntled common men. Finding
himself all alone, King John accepted
the articles offered by the barons. On
The Magna Carta was so important because the people
came together and successfully forced the king to publicly accept their demands.
This kind of incident occurred for the first time in the constitutional history
document consisted of sixty-three articles the most important of which are the
2. No one will be imprisoned,
on mere suspicion, without trial.
3. To no man will we sell, to
no man will we deny or delay, right or justice.
4. Private disputes will be
determined in the King’s court at some fixed place.
5. Freedom of election shall
be guaranteed to the clergy.
6. The traditional rights of
the nobles and clergy will be protected.
Finally, the barons and nobles were empowered by the
king to choose twenty-five of their number, to see that the articles of the
Magna Carta were observed.
When King John died, the government passed on to the
Great Council because his son and successor Henry III was then nine years old.
On coming of age, the young king dissolved the Great Council and levied
arbitrary taxes on the people. Owing to his misconduct, the nation was forced to
renew its resistance, under the dynamic leadership of Simon de Montford, Earl of
Leicester. A meeting of the nobles, the clergy and the representatives of the
countries and towns (boroughs), was by the man in January 1265 to decide the
methods of governance and of levying taxes. The forum became famous as the
Parliament of Simon-de-Montford and this earned him the title of "Father of
King Edward in 1295 attempted to curb the nobles and
the clergy, by securing the support of the third estate, consisting of the
common people by summoning the first complete English Parliament including
representatives from all sections of the society. This meeting then became the
"Model Parliament." On
The process during the medieval period was basically
that of Estates. Each of the
three estates, namely the Clergy, the Lords Temporal
and the Commons was represented in the Parliament. The duration of the
medieval legislature was only for one session - just one month and usually held
once a year and this custom was converted into law by the statutes of 1330 and
1361. Gradually Parliament was divided into two chambers - the House
of Lords and the House of Commons.
During the rule of King Henry IV, in 1407, financial bills began to be discussed
only in the House of Commons. This led to the Lower House being regarded as the
real representative body of the people. The bills were then sent to the House of
Lords. After both Houses had agreed among themselves, they had to make their
report through the Speaker of the House of Commons.
During the Tudor period, the dispute regarding where
the final authority rested, continued to rage between the king and the
Parliament. Nevertheless, the Tudor monarchs generally worked in agreement with
the legislature. The struggle between the king and the Parliament during the
Stuart period increased tremendously. James
I (1603-25) was a strong champion of the doctrine of the Divine Right of
kings. He made laws as he pleased and people were forced to obey them. The reign
of Charles I (1625-49)
saw the peak of the struggle between the king and the Parliament. His attempts
to rule and tax the people, without the consent of the Parliament, led to
failure in 1628. He was forced to call a parliament, which laid certain
conditions on him in the famous document known as "The Petition of
Rights." It included the following terms:
and taxes, without consent of Parliament, were illegal.
one should be imprisoned without a fair trial.
law should not be imposed during peacetime.
should be forced to meet the expense of the army.
of Rights was an important step in the evolution of parliamentary
his reign of twenty-three years, Charles II ruled with the legislature, as far
as possible. However, his younger brother, James II in 1685, who ruled as an
absolute autocrat, succeeded him. In 1688, Parliament proclaimed its own
sovereignty, by choosing a king of its own liking. William of Orange, who was the
Protestant ruler of
became supreme after the Glorious Revolution and passed a Bill
of Rights (1689), which obtained the consent of King William and Queen Mary
in 1689. The following were its main provisions:
pretended power of suspension or execution of laws by regal authority, without
consent of Parliament, is illegal.
pretended power of dispersion with, or execution of laws by regal authority, as
it had been as assumed and exercised recently, is illegal.
of money for, or to the use of the crown, by pretence or prerogative, without
grant of Parliament for longer time, or in any other manner than the same is, or
shall be granted, is illegal.
is the right of the subjects to petition the King.
raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom, in time of peace, without
the consent of Parliament is against the law.
election of members of Parliament ought to be free.
freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in parliament ought not to be
impeached or questioned in any court or place, out of Parliament.
bail ought not to be required nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual
should be duly empanelled and returned.
for redress of all grievances, and for amendment, for strengthening and
preserving laws, Parliament ought to be summoned as frequently as possible.
The crown was then passed on William and Mary
jointly. In case of default of their offspring, Princess Anne and her offspring
would follow in succession. Further, in default of her issue, the rule reigns
would shift upon the issue of William by any wife other than Mary.
Another important development was that the
responsible Council of Ministers was referred to as the Cabinet
which enjoy gradual development and called "the very pivot of
government", by Professor F.C. Montague. The king had to choose as
Ministers those who commanded the confidence of the House of Commons that is
those who held the opinions of the majority in the House. Thus began the
practice of selecting ministers from the party, which enjoyed the majority
support in the House of Commons. This was the legacy the British left to its
succeeding administration in
According to the Act of Settlement (1701), the House
of Hanover came to power, after the Stuarts. Since King George I did not
know English, he was the first king who stayed away from these meetings, giving
rise to the custom that the cabinet meets together, apart form the sovereign. In
the absence of the king, another President had to be chosen. The minister who
was most respected by the party was naturally selected as the leader. Thus, the
Prime Minister was the leader of the party, commanding majority support of the
House of Commons. In this sense, Sir
Robert Walpole was the first
Prime Minister and during his long term of office (1721-1742), he worked
as the mouthpiece of the ministry in Parliament, as well as in the royal closet,
according to Professor F.C. Montague. After his defeat in the House of Commons
in 1742, Sir Robert Walpole resigned as the Prime Minister thus establishing the
practice that the Prime Minister and his cabinet were responsible to the House
of Commons in Parliament.
Though the Parliament became supreme after the
Glorious Revolution of 1688, it could not be regarded as the real representative
of the people until the 19th century, since the right to vote was restricted
only to the rich and to property holders. Hence wealthy industrialists and rich
landlords dominated the Parliament. Owing to the growth of industries and
factories there was an upsurge of the labour force and this led to an agitation
of the industrial workers; they demanded their representatives in Parliament.
For this reason, the Reforms Bill of 1832 was passed by the Parliament. It was
this development that the Pilgrims brothers took with them to the
It was from this source that flows the introductory
statement of the United Nations Charter which says: "to save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war, which twice has brought untold sorrow to
mankind and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and
worth of human person, in the equal right of men and women and of nations large
and small. And to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the
obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be
maintained etc…. Obviously to what extent these objectives have been achieved
since the inception of the organization in 1945 can better be seen than imagined
particularly when the world had witnessed nearly three hundred wars, most of
which occurred in the developing countries owing to internal rather than
Over the last 50 years, more than 22 million people
have been killed in intra-state wars, 90% of which were civilians while internal
displacement had caused immense suffering among the survivors: refugees,
internally displaced persons, the traumatized and victims of landmines which
made the whole global society to be wrecked and development set back for years.
Thank goodness, today, there is a new thinking in the
direction in a new civil society that focuses on the International Bill of
Rights and as preamble it says: "We the people of the international
community, the sole source of power for those who govern, based upon our respect
for each other, for all nations, for our natural environment and for future
generations, agree to live according to the following rights. Our
representatives shall maintain judicial systems that will enforce these rights
in the courts of every country.
In its article 7, it says: All power to govern
emanates from the people through their choice of representatives and not from
military position, caste, hereditary or any other non-elective title or
position. Every citizen may seek elective office and non-incumbent candidates
must be given a fair opportunity to compete with those who are presently in
office. No elected representative shall serve more than two consecutive terms in
the same position. Only individuals, not corporations or other entities shall be
allowed to contribute money or other assets to candidates or ballot measures,
but individuals may combine to contribute as a group. The total annual
contribution by any individual, whether it is to one candidate or divided among
several candidates and ballot measures, shall not exceed 30% of the median
income for the country in which the election is taking place. This is highly
recommended for any country undergoing a civilian to civilian transition process
as we are currently doing in
As far as we are concerned at Pan-African
Reconciliation Council, peace movement, obviously, is a group of persons that
seeks to discern concrete problems confronting its society and which they can
resolve in a nonviolent way. The myriad of problems differs from country to
country and linked to culture, population, urban or rural environment and that
is why it is necessary to study nonviolence, its philosophy and religious
dimension for the purpose of training on the strategy and tactics of solving
The need for the civil societies to develop skills on
peace education, promote vigorous peace initiatives, fact-finding, conflict
prevention and resolution cannot be overemphasized and this is the crux of our
existence over the years. It is equally necessary for an appropriate mechanism
for conflict prevention particularly through traditional methods of
African Centres for Peace Education and Training aims
at developing a comparative curriculum which will encourage a preventive policy
that takes into account socio-political, economic, cultural and technological
issues. This way, we can mobilize all available human and material resources for
ensuring a purposeful peaceful corporate existence and pressurize our
governments so that, among other things, they will be tended to reduce arms and
defence expenditure, re-allocate financial resources to science and technology.
They must not, as well, ignore peace education for all and sundries as a corner
stone for national development and grassroots integration.
For this very laudable purpose,
we have drawn up a seven-year plan of activities to meet this daunting
challenge and this can be seen at our web site: www.peace.ca/africa.htm
We have, thanks to the
Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace, equally floated a free of charge electronic
mail service since 1999. The mission is to apply modern is to apply modern
information technology for the promotion of communication and build on one of
our primary missions: ‘advancement of search for peace in
an international communications medium to support African’s community and
world peace goals, and to participate in fellowship and sharing of ideas.
platform for peace information dissemination through posting of newsletters,
bulletins and publications etc….
fundraising ideas and successful peace-building projects that might be useful to
other people of
information and increase fellowship through communications around the world
thereby enhancing international peace and understanding of different peoples and
friendships and increase fellowship through communications around the world
thereby enhancing international peace and understanding of different peoples and
the UNESCO Culture of Peace within and around the world.
our main task in the sub-region is the Global Campaign for Peace Education, a
project that emerged during the centennial Hague Appeal for Peace global
conference of 1999. The purpose is to develop capacities for challenges of
unprecedented proportions with an effort to build on 45 years of UNESCO peace
educators and associations for the ultimate purpose of implementing the 1994
plan for peace education as endorsed by ministers of educations of 144 countries
across the world.
Since peace is not just
the absence of war, violence and hostilities but a situation whereby everyone
has access to all good things of life including basic freedoms, our educational
curricula should be multi-dimensional. The ultimate target will be for our
Reduce arms and defence expenditure and direct more allocations to
education and health.
Re-allocate financial resources to improve science and technology;
Support all peace, social justice and human rights networks accredited
Promote conflict prevention, reconciliation and resolution.
Develop and support programs that will enhance and sustain peace, social
justice and human rights.
Support sub-regional inter-governmental groupings to increase their
roles in conflict resolution, prevention and management of internal crises.
Establish “peace fund” for conflict prevention, management and
resolution as well as early warning systems.
Ensure gender parity in peace negotiation and conflict resolution.
Make peace education compulsory in all our educational institutions
Educate peace keepers to respect human rights, criminal and civil
Sensitize local communities on the role of women and youth on the
Culture of Peace.
ultimate goal is to put in a place an exemplary forum of excellence, research
and conflict resolution in the interest of not only
Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo said in one of his books
that: "If a man persistently entertains and cherishes thoughts of success
and prosperity, he will succeed and prosper; if of failure and poverty, he will
surely fail and be poor. This is a sound principle, which is as old as the
history of human thought and which is endorsed by the wisest and the most
illustrious of our species - Mohammed (peace be on him) and Jesus Christ, down
to Lord Attlee and Viscount Montgomery of Alemaine. Here was what the latter two
"Lord Attlee: "Since wars begin in the
minds of men it is in the minds of men that we must seek to prevent them' This
saying has since been adopted as its motto by the UNESCO.
Viscount Montgomery: 'Battles are fought and won in
the minds of men'. In other words,
if men think war, they will have war; if peace, peace; and if victory, victory.
The only worthwhile action of the mind is thinking - 'clear, calm, decisive,
deliberate and sustained'; and since every human action or enterprise begins in
the mind, it is there that the quality of the action or enterprise must be
determined. The psychological truth must, therefore, be reiterated that when a
person persistently entertains and cherishes a thought, such a thought, sooner
or later, becomes manifested in real life. In due course, the methods of
materializing the objects of thought would occur to him and he would feel an
irresistible urge to employ them. For any thought however, to materialize for
the good of the person who entertains and cherishes it, it must be such as can
benefit not only himself but also others as well" That is the crux of
Obviously a man’s divine talent may take him to the
top, but only character will keep him there. There are certain qualities, which
if present in one’s character, will cause him to succeed in whatever he
chooses to do. This is especially true no matter the religious belief he or she
may hold. If one demonstrates these certain attributes, he will not only be
propelled to “the top,” but will remain there to enjoy the fruits of his
labour throughout the life sojourn or millennium, as you want to call it and
these include a combination of intelligence, brilliance, high sense of
calculation, transparency, integrity and probity.
1. Leadership is not just having a degree, diploma, title, holding a position or sitting on a committee. It is about people. It’s about influencing people toward change; taking them from their present condition and pulling them to the place their Creator wants them to be. In order to do this, one must have vision.
The Holy Book says, “Without vision, the people perish.” There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to follow someone who doesn’t know where he is going. Without a grasp of where the head is leading, followers become discouraged having no sense of significant accomplishment, resentful while feeling their time is being wasted and will eventually quit not having good reason to continue making the sacrifices required by their leaders.
Vision must be clear and practical. Too many well-intentioned leaders never succeed because those following them could not take ownership of a significant purpose. It is one thing to have a vision; it is another thing to convey it in a way that others can embrace it. For this to occur, several elements must be present.
First, develop a general vision statement that clarifies the values or goals the body is endeavoring to fulfill. But don’t place too much confidence in a written statement alone; this is just a process to help you define your direction. The true essence of one’s vision is borne out of how he leads. Every decision, every project and programme item must be implemented only as it supports the values of the vision. Furthermore, these choices must be communicated enthusiastically to the body so followers will understand, take ownership of and support the direction of their body.
Secondly, develop specific objectives, positions or projects to directly support the vision while communicating the value they have to the life of the body. These are important because they give people the opportunity to directly involve themselves with the vision and celebrate the victories that come through their involvement. It’s these victories that build strength into the body and integrity into the character of one’s leadership. Furthermore, specific tasks that yield victory encourage people to commit themselves unselfishly and even sacrificially.
“No man can lead others until he has first conquered himself. “
Without self-control, one’s success will destroy him. Scores of good men and women have found themselves in places of authority only to realize their character was not deep enough to support their advancement. With promotion to the position of authority comes greater responsibility, and with that: temptation and spiritual attack. “Higher levels brings higher devils” and if a leader does not have mastery over his flesh, he will fall under the pressure those attacks bring.
We all remember what became of Samson in the Jewish ancient history. With his promotion to authority came invitations to fraternize irrationally. Women started noticing him and materialism came within his reach. But lacking mastery over his impulses, he flirted with temptation, gave birth to sin which brought quick and certain death to his divine destiny.
As leaders, we should never allow ambition to race ahead of self-discipline. Our prayer should often be, “God, don’t allow me to ascend to a level of authority that my character has not been prepared to support.” It is a good thing that God doesn’t give us that “stuff” we’ve been naming and claiming—if He did, it would probably kill us. With larger temporal responsibilities come more pressure to please our families, friends and communities. Bigger budgets and taller buildings test one’s financial integrity. Admiration of men brings the luring eyes of women and frequent offers of compromise. If a man’s or woman's character has not been refined in the fires of self control, he will find himself like Samson: stripped, defeated, blind and labouring in the enemy’s back yard. Someone said: “There are men who can command armies but cannot command themselves. There are men who by their burning words can sway vast multitudes but who cannot keep silence under provocation or wrong. The highest mark of nobility is self-control. It is more kingly than regal crown and purple robe.”
Leadership occurs when one lives by principle rather than preference.
Integrity is twofold. First it is the belief in an absolute system of right and wrong. Second, it is the will to do right regardless of personal cost. Sadly, there are many today who have no sense of absolutes. Instead they are guided by a “non-principle” that says, “I don’t do what is morally right; I do what is right for me.” For them, right and wrong is established by what helps or hinders their advancement. If honesty helps them succeed, they will be truthful, if honesty becomes a hindrance, they’ll simply lie. If marriage supports their ambition, they will be married, if not they’ll simply divorce.
A person of integrity doesn’t live by what best serves him, he is guided by certain non-negotiable principles—even if those principles come at great personal expense. Effective leaders are men and women who lead out of their own passion. They have raw convictions that cannot be compromised regardless of personal cost. It is this strength of character that holds them firm in times of hardship, guides them through seasons of adversity, and inspires their followers with confident devotion.
A servant is concerned mostly with the needs of the one he serves. Leaders must understand that their greatest compliment comes when people under their mentorship have become effective and widely used in the service of humanity. What greater testimony to one’s leadership can there be than the success of his followers. This is not something to be feared but what every leader should covet.
As leader’s we must set the standard for intimacy with God, pray fervently and worship Him truthfully no matter our religious belief. We are to ascend to the secret place of God and pull others into it not by force but by our moral conduct It is out of an intimacy with God that effective leadership flows. It gives us a wisdom that exceeds our education, an insight that surpasses our experience, and a power that propels our destiny.
To summarise this treatise, I will passionately like to commend to you the 11 indispensable major attributes of leadership as advanced by Napoleon Hill:
1. Unwavering courage: based upon knowledge of self and one's occupation
2. Self-control: The man or woman who cannot control himself can never control others.
3. A keen sense of justice: Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his followers.
4. Definitiveness of Decision: The man or woman who waivers in decisions, shows that he or she is not sure of him/herself and cannot lead others successfully.
5. Definitiveness of Plans: The effective leader must plan his/her work and work his/her plan.
6. The habit of doing more: One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness upon the part of the leader, to more than he requires of his followers.
7. A pleasing personality: No slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader.
8. Sympathy and understanding: The effective leader must be in sympathy with his/her followers…. He must understand them and their problems.
9. Master of detail: Effective leadership calls for mastery of the details of the leader's position.
10. Willingness to assume full responsibility: The leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers.
11. Cooperation: The effective leader in the new millennium must understand and apply the principles of cooperative effort and be able to induce his followers to do the same.
I once again express my deep gratitude to your for the opportunity given me to address this august forum and wish you all the best in your present and future endeavour.