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Every human society has its respective challenges that need to be addressed. The difference among nations is in the ability to respond to those challenges appropriately. This ability in itself is dependent on the quality of leadership displayed at different levels of the societal pyramid, and in various aspects of the national and personal lives.

In Nigeria, we need to enhance the practice of leadership cutting across both the public and private sectors of the nation. We need to uplift the essence of leadership values, in respect of fundamental human traits of care, trust, and honesty. The display of decent behaviors, etiquettes, respect for time, dignity of labour, and sense of selfless service by those in visible leadership positions need to become the signpost and leading lights for all. The implication is that when citizens see their leaders display inspiring behaviors so often they will inevitably imbibe those as the normal ways.

Indeed, for a society to develop in an enduring manner, we really have no choice on a matter concerning display of good conduct particularly when we consider the far reaching positive implications of such decent conducts in the presence of the young people who are naturally impressionable. The young ones respond to issues more on the basis of what they see than what they hear. It could be a big disappointment to the young people if those of us who are supposed to show good examples engage in unhelpful activities, including stealing with impunity. When we display lack of respect for time and arrive late at events, and rationalize it as African time, it undermines our commitment to effectiveness. .

We also need to restore the old cherished preference for honors, rather than the current glorification of materialism. In our community of the recent past, there were things we would rather not do, even if they were to bring us money, as long as they do not conform to the norms of the society. Parents no longer ask their wards how they come about sudden possessions.  The society also no longer asks how their compatriots came about their sudden stupendous wealth. Rather, they are congratulated for escaping the dragnet of the law. And when the law eventually catches up with them, we accuse the legal institution of persecuting the criminals simply because they are from our countryside.

In this respect, we need to take another look at what the society celebrates as accomplishments, if we really want things to get better. Awards should only be given for enduring and lasting accomplishments. We should not diminish the worth of genuine awards for those who truly deserve them. Paying to be given award simply redefines what honor represents. It could really be confusing for the decent, and the impressionable young ones in the society.

As adults we can advise the youths on what good conducts are, but the real message is on what they see the elders do. We therefore need to re-examine what we do. Sometimes the young people take a cue from what they see adults display. They then show their resentment to the society by engaging anti-social activities, including cultism, poor dressing, drugs, and other crimes. Simply put, the values that formed the cultural essence and foundation of our primordial traditional societies are waning. Things are simply not what they used to be.

There is therefore the yawning demand for capability to deal decisively with the ever increasing social, political, and economic challenges confronting the nation due to the breakdown in societal and leadership values. This deserves urgent attention as to restore hope into the fabric of the society. We cannot afford to get people becoming cynical of those in leadership positions, hence the need for positive intervention initiatives.

Going forward, Scorpiosis Centre for Leadership Values sets out to promote the advancement of the Nigerian youths through interventions in both the education sector and leadership development.

Olaolu Akinkugbe
Chairman, Board of Trustees, SCLV.

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