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State Of Emergency: Lesson Jonathan Must Learn

| May 23, 2013 More

Except some political rascals who talked as if they were in partnership with Boko Haram and other insurgents, Nigerians including President Goodluck Jonathan’s very hard critics or perceived political enemies were, for the first time, united in their support for the state of emergency he recently declared in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Even when a very intelligent and resourceful political propagandist, the national publicity secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, tried to puncture the action, he was thoroughly castigated. This was evident in many people’s reactions in the social media and phone-in programmes on radio and television stations.   And I am very sure one enormous lesson the president may have learnt from his recent tough decision is that “when the going gets tough” nervous people have a preference for what some political experts have described as “a dominant power-hungry guy” to lead them, rather than a fine or decent man.

Those who know President Jonathan very well – including minister of Niger Delta Godsday Orubebe — had described him as “a nice and decent person”. But several researches have shown that decent people are professed as sought-after leaders in peaceful time and many people see them as “docile” when put side by side their more egocentric peers who can handle crises.

In this space, last week, I strongly advised President Jonathan to quickly pull off his garment of nice man and true democrat and respond to the war situation created by Boko Haram and its allies viciously.  I am glad he has done that; and, in spite of pockets of negative reactions from those who seem to be benefiting from the insurgents’ deadly activities, the military action must be sustained forcefully until these animals and their sponsors are rooted out. The activities of members of Boko Haram in the last four years or so have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the sect members and their strong political allies have no business being in this world. They are only fit for hell and they must be urgently dispatched to hell.

 I have read in some national dailies where some members of ACN and CPC were quoted as saying in Bauchi State that the state of emergency was created by the president to reduce the growing influence of the opposition in Yobe and Borno states. Rubbish! This claim can only be valid if the majority members of these parties in the mentioned states are members of Boko. It obvious that what is at stake in our nation today as a result of the insurgents’ murderous activities is the unity and strong political and economic foundation of our country. And we must all come together and collectively confront those behind these evil plans. It is only in our country that some doubtful political elites play politics with issues concerning national security for their selfish interests, and this had compounded our problems in the past. The fatal deeds of the insurgents linger on till today because those in authority at different levels of government – local, state and federal — often fight back by doling out the sometimes unkind truth, because they don’t want to be seen as too hard-hitting and, consequently, they have consistently behaved as if they don’t care. Apparently because of this, they use words that are intended to “soften the blow”, and, in most cases, they elect not to deal with the issue at all. This created scary situations and panicky Nigerians were frustrated with their leaders whom they saw as people trouncing their heads in the sand. Although it came rather too late, what President Jonathan did recently by acting very tough is what many “strong leaders” do. Like what somebody said after watching his live broadcast on television, “This president is very angry, it was very noticeable in his broadcast; he communicated with us; he told us the truth; and he has now shown us that he cares.”

Many people, especially his hard critics, as usual, have faulted his leadership style but it is my view that Jonathan recently exercised his influence in a tough time, like the one we are experiencing in our nation today, when our country is up against the wall. Like very many nervous Nigerians in this seemingly war situation, I was one of those who have vilified the president for not acting on time. But it is also rational to say that “tough times are characterised by tough problems”. Jean Hartley, a professor of public leadership, in one of his academic works had explained a useful distinction between “tame” and “wicked” problems, arguing that tame problems may be complicated but have been encountered before and were resolvable. In resolving the tame problems, Hartey said, what a leader needed to do is to direct his attention to the problem and ensure that there are processes and resources to solve it. But in the case of “wicked problems” – like the issues of Boko Haram — they are complex and tied to other issues; there is a lack of agreement over what the problem is, and hence how to tackle it. According to the expert in public leadership, wicked problems require that a range of stakeholders may need to be involved in putting it right: changes in values, in behaviours and attitudes – so leadership here is about orchestrating influence rather than solely acting with authority. This may have informed Jonathan’s slow response to the problems of Boko Haram.

Experts have also told us that some leaders panic when confronted with tough times, and that there has been an increase in “bullying and blaming leadership styles” but one thing is very clear, according to Professor Hartley: “Leaders require cool analytical skills to understand the depth, variety and severity of wicked problems, but they also need to inspire hope in themselves and others that something can be done to tackle the situation”.

Jonathan should learn from his recent decision:  that in a crisis situation like the one we are currently facing as a nation, it is better to be feared than to be loved. He should henceforth learn how to take tough decisions especially on issues of life and death.

Category: Bauchi State News

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