Leaders are those who undertake the task of guiding others and showing them the way, leading and directing followers on the most appropriate things to do and striving to build in them a culture of initiative and leadership. mutual aid. Political leaders are just a spectrum in the vast sphere of leadership, except that the tasks and responsibilities of political leaders are enormous, involving a large and expansive population. Myopic leaders are those who undertake such a task without an adequate and thorough understanding of the implications of such responsibility. Being nearsighted would involve having a short-sighted perception of the responsibilities that the task entails, not immediately but mostly on a far-reaching dimension.
Taking a leadership position as a way to earn a living involves personal choices or decisions, with the responsibility that comes with that. The kind of enthusiasm and zeal displayed in jostling for political leadership gives the impression that it is a frantic race, the motives of which are more gains in terms of money and power, rather than the delivery Services. Obviously, political leadership is an enormous task, the success or failure of which would go beyond the leadership itself, but impinges on the lives and affairs of a large number of people, now and in a distant future.
The concept of delayed gratification, which requires making personal sacrifices now for a better tomorrow, is a relevant principle in public leadership. Unfortunately, in Nigeria as a developing country, this concept or principle is usually misapplied, causing the masses to make all the sacrifices while the rulers live in obscene opulence and extravagance. From enjoying immunity to having everything necessary for maximum comfort and security, top political leaders have provided it all for free.
No matter that more than 80% of the citizens were groaning in hunger, agony and poverty, the political leaders would not change ground when it came to official benefits; on the contrary, sacrifices have to be made and then the masses have to bear such burdens. This feature of Nigerian political leadership, put in place by the outgoing military regime, will not create a sustainable political economy. Nor can it be said that the political leaders themselves are unaware of the precariousness of the situation. Apart from the fact that there is no sincere political will to change the status quo, any attempt to do so would only be window dressing.
The vital message for political leaders stems from issues that can rarely be recognized immediately, nor can the consequences be quantified in material terms. Any activity undertaken by anyone, the results of which impinge on other human beings, has enormous implications and responsibility for whoever engages in it. Such implications and responsibilities become more serious in leadership positions held by personal choice and decision. Thus, the concept of social contract in politics clearly indicates that contractual obligations cannot be violated without sanctions. Moreover, the concept of accountability goes beyond mere lip service.
Political office holders and key political leaders are subject to the concepts of social contract and accountability. In addition to the expectations that must be met in the principle of the social contract, accountability makes leaders accountable to the masses and a higher authority. With trickery and bluster, political leaders can intimidate and cajole the masses and make false claims about their performance. But the mark of good leadership is expressed in the level of happiness, satisfaction and productivity of the masses, resulting from the stable and favorable state of the nation.
If Nigerian political leaders had a genuine knowledge of what the masses think and say about them, many of these leaders would dismiss their views and feelings as wrong. In social service theories, there is something called victim blaming, which involves placing all the blame, criticism and failures on the helpless and disadvantaged masses for the conditions that led to their plight. Thus, true politics seeks to shift the blame onto someone else when things go wrong, and then to receive maximum praise when things go right. It is evident that the Nigerian masses are currently groaning.
Let’s say that leadership is a serious task whose immediate and long-term responsibility and accountability are rarely considered by politicians. It is not enough to earn money, exercise power and enjoy fame and honor by engaging in politics, it is also necessary to consider the wider involvement of political leadership. Leaders in all walks of life can deceive followers, jeopardizing their future and life chances. We must also admit that there are blind but ambitious shepherds who lead their followers into the desolate wilderness and perdition. Adolf Hitler, Reverend Jim Jones, among many others, misled their followers.
Whether charismatic or tyrannical and obtuse, leaders and the position of leadership command mass influence that can have positive or negative effects. We cannot lament the fact that some leaders become grasshoppers, oppressors or even scorpions, making the masses groan under their heavy burdens. Historically, certain harsh and tyrannical rulers played the role of coercing indolent, docile and myopic masses into making rapid progress in development, through the use of whips and forced labor. The masses can also be myopic.
More specifically, myopic leaders are usually ambitious people who do not view leadership as a service delivery, raising the level of consciousness and standard of living of the masses, but a means of primitive accumulation of wealth and power. A Nigerian politician once told us many years ago that there were half a dozen Nigerians who had more money than the entire Nigerian nation. There may be nothing wrong with individuals possessing enormous wealth, but there is some truth in the saying that behind every great wealth there is usually a crime. myopic money bags!
The influence of leadership goes beyond personal wealth, power and fame, but leaders generally set the tone and standard of direction for the masses. Through unexemplary leadership, installation of a corrupt system in a society, abuse of power and gross mismanagement of national resources, leaders incur such burdens of guilt whose atonement would take many incarnations, accompanied by pathetic suffering and sad experiences. The curses that groaning citizens place on bad rulers who only care about their personal well-being and that of their cronies, fail to affect these rulers in ways they rarely imagine.
What these bad leaders often do is make huge donations to religious organizations, with the mistaken idea that such donations, coming from ill-gotten money, can reduce their burden of guilt. Putting the lives of unsuspecting citizens at risk by their failure to provide security, and the future of the masses in uncertainty by flawed policies, often stems from myopic leadership. Visionary leaders make personal sacrifices for the good of the masses in order to advance their own ascension into glorious realms of existence. Myopic leaders stay down to earth for a very long time!
By: Bright Amirize
Dr Amirize is a retired senior lecturer, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.