Saturday, August 25, 2012

Patrice Lumumba and leadership

ONE of the recurring issues of concern that is reflective of growth and development in Nigeria nay Africa is the issue of leadership. The issue of leadership and governance has assumed a critical perspective in the present day Nigeria, because an effective and visionary leadership is a prerequisite for societal growth and social advancement.

Leadership is a multidimensional concept that can
hardly be fully comprehended in a restricted contextual milieu that an analyst cannot but be constrained to operate within.

Leadership is about effective and prudent management of men and materials with a view to ensuring the accomplishment of organisational / or national goals at minimum cost.

Chinua Achebe, Nigeria’s foremost novelist, had noted that the trouble with Nigeria (his home country) was leadership. Although he was country – specific in his analysis, his views can be replicated in many parts of Africa.
Bad leadership is responsible for the stunted growth in Africa, which has bred disappointed and disillusioned citizens. With vast resources; both human and material, the belief is that the continent should have exceeded its current status, but several undesirable factors continue to conspire to undermine its growth. Such factors include; prolonged conflicts and deepening humanitarian crisis, poverty, spread of infection and re-emerging diseases, (including HIV/AID), polio, child malnutrition, high child mortality, food shortages, lack of clean water and good education, starvation, desertification, deforestation and environmental pollution.

This is further complicated by indecent and uncivilized behaviors of its so called “leaders”. African leaders are seen as and derogatorily comport themselves as the alpha and omega. Corrupt in morals, mien and manners. Leaders, who ought to have been fathers of nations, are sadly in office, to feathers their nest from the nation’s treasury. They are not accountable to anybody and are intolerant of critical views passed on their forms of administration, and in no time soon become tyrannical, authoritarian and dictatorial. Nigeria has had its share of such leadership and I pray we will never witness such again.

God is no doubt a Nigerian, his attributes of abundance is reflected in the blessedness of Nigeria in both human and material resources that can make it survive with little or no help from the outside world. Yet, it remains a giant that has been tied up by internal weakness, leadership, and leaders whose petty ambitions and inhuman greed continue to undermine our collective existence. Plagued by sectarian violence, deepening corruption in both public and private realm, and palpable alienation of huge majority of the populations (usually the youth) from governance. In noting the emergence of leadership in Nigeria, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto diocese observed that Nigeria has produced through difficult processes, men and woman who came to power and office largely by accident, stressing that “none of these great men came to office without any degree of preparation or experience in governance”. Sadly, the nation’s political system is designed to produce political office holders and not leaders and an instituted political governance structure that undermines rather than promotes. This can only be corrected by patriotic constitutional purity, (realised through collective input purification) effective and visionary leadership as exemplified by the likes of Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso, Festus Mogae of Botswana, Joaqim Chissano of Mozambique, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and John Agyekum Kufor in our neighboring Ghana. The desire to promote excellence and vision in leadership prompted the institution of Mo Ibrahim award for good Governance and Excellence in African leadership. The US $5 million prize was instituted by Dr Mo Ibrahim, a billionaire Sudanese – British founder of Celtel. The award no doubt has increased the sensitivities of the African towards desiring qualitative leadership, but it might have achieved much impact it such an award had been designed to promote leadership and good governance.

We need pragmatic and visionary leaders to move Nigeria forward. Nigeria and Africa need leaders like Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. Nigeria needs a visionary leader. A leader that is committed to the core values and that embodies a sense of personal integrity and radiates a sense of vitality and will. A leader that is more self aware and reflective than others. A leader that follows an inner sense of direction like Mahatma Ghandi. Rather being corrupt by powers, visionary leaders are elevated by power and exercise moral leadership in the process. They hold to and communicate positive vision which they engage to move to higher level of realization. They inspire people to be better than they already are. They often have the ability to see higher spiritual forces and work behind the scene of events and align with the vision of these redemptive forces. With a good leadership in place, there will be social justice, equity, fairness, transparency, accountability and efficient use of resources. There will be goodness and prosperity on the land and the people will rejoice.

The life and legacies of Patrice Lumumba provides a lesson of emulation in leadership and vision for every one. Patrice Emery Lumumba (2 July 1925 –17 January 1961) was born in Onalua in the Kata Koruba region of the Kasai province of the Belgian Congo.

Lumumba started his working career as a Post office Clerk, which was in 1956. Four years later; he was elected as Prime Minister. In between that period, he also worked as traveling beer salesman and imprisoned twice for embezzlement, (though he claimed his motivation was political) and once for his political activities and inciting unrest.

His brief imprisonment radicalised him irreversibly. By 1958, he co founded a political party, the National Congolese Movement, the MNC, a distinctly pan African political party, where he served as its President.  The party promotes national unity and economic sovereignty and was deeply influenced by pan African ideals of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah. It was as president of MNC that Lumumba was elected as the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in June 1960.
For 126 years, the United States and Belgium played key roles in shaping Congo’s destiny. The United States was the first country in the world to recognise the claims of King Leopold II of Belgium to the territories of the Congo basin. The economic exploitation of its rich mineral resources led to fatalities as a result of brutal confrontations between the Belgium forces and the natives. The US strengthened Belgian colonisation and even went ahead to acquire a strategic stake in the enormous natural wealth of the Congo. The uranium from Congolese mines was more strategic to the US than any other mineral, because it was used to manufacture the first atomic bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the outbreak of the cold war between the Soviet Union and the US along with its allies, the US was prepared not to let Congo have effective control over the uranium deposit, yet Lumumba was very determined to achieve genuine independence and have full control over Congo’s resources in order to use it to advance the welfare of Congolese’s people. From that moment, he became an enemy of the US and its collaborating Belgians, who used all sorts of tools (including poisoned tooth paste) and resources to support his rivals so as to eliminate him in international intrigues and betrayals


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