Author Topic: The Problem With Our Elections, By Durotoye  (Read 248 times)

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The Problem With Our Elections, By Durotoye
« on: December 15, 2017, 06:36:07 AM »
Famous motivational speaker and business strategist Fela Durotoye is very passionate about Nigeria. He believes the only time the country has had leaders was briefly after independence and that her democratic process is flawed, because it produces rulers, rather than leaders. In this interview with Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI, Durotoye traces the root of the problem and explains what can be done to change the vicious cycle of poor leadership in 2019 and beyond.

Youíve been involved in leadership trainings for some time. Whatís your idea of leadership?

I believe that leadership is an ability to create and deliver a desired outcome. When you consider that for most times the desired outcome is always positive, then you can also say that a leader is anyone who has the ability to make people, places and things better. If you look at leadership from that context, you will realize that it is different from management. This because management requires authority, it requires a position and it requires an appointment, an office and a title. But leadership does not require such attributes. A leader is anyone Ė no matter the level, age or occupation ó who has the ability to make people, places and things better. The greatest skill a leader must have is the ability to solve problems, inspire people, galvanise the people to decide on what they want to be, where they want to go and to get them focused on it.

Most Nigerians donít look at leadership the way you have defined itÖ

I agree. As a matter of fact, most people we see as leaders are actually rulers; they are not leaders. Rulers are different from leaders, because rulers are people who usually require a position, authority and they usually regard everyone whom they relate with as subjects. Many times rulers typically believe that they are better than their subjects. Their job is not to make the lives of their subjects better; their job is to make their own live better. Rulers have subjects and leaders have followers. A follower is not less than a leader; a follower is anyone whose commitment, permission, endorsement and support are required by a leader to be able to actualize the vision he carries in his heart. This is what makes the relationship between a leader and a follower very special, because a leader is not greater than a follower. In many instances, a follower may be even someone who is older than the leader, richer than the leader and better positioned than the leader. Rulers by their nature enslave their subjects, but leaders on the other hand, enlighten their followers. Rulers typically impoverish their subjects, while leaders improve the lives of their followers. Rulers diminish their subjects, while leaders develop their followers. You will realize that when you are under a ruler, your live becomes bitter, but when you are under a leader, your live becomes better.

In your view, what is responsible for the present state of affairs?

In a way, what has happened to us and the society we have created is a result of the culture of rulership we have had over the years; in fact, I would say centuries. We started with traditional rulers and that wasnít what I believe God designed for us. I believe God wanted us to have royal fathers, but instead we had traditional rulers. From there, we had colonial rulers or colonial masters. Again, they didnít come to make our lives better; they came to take from what had ó our resources. Immediately after colonial rule, we had a brief stint of true leadership; all across Africa, we saw the rise of people like Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Jomo Kenyatta. These are men who really had a desire to emancipate their people and to improve the lot of their people. But, not long after independence, we witnessed all over Africa, the emergence of military rule. So, you see, weíve gotten back to rulership. We were under military rule for over four decades and thereafter we witnessed something very interesting: military rulers everywhere began to drop their khaki uniforms for civilian garments. It is still the same set of people in a different setting. In fact, it is not by accident that most of the democratic institutions or parties that military rulers used to gain power are called ruling parties.

What do you think of the present level of leadership in Nigeria?

We can only judge leadership by the results. This is very simple, we always ask year in, year out, is our life better? If our lives are better, then we are under leadership. But if our lives are worse or things are bitter for us, then we are under rulership. I donít think it is about just the president or the governors, it is about the quality of people in positions of authority whose responsibilities it is to take decisions for the people. These include people in positions of authority at the local government level, the state level and the federal level, particularly the executive and the legislature. To be honest, the reality is staring us in the face. It means we are under rulership and we must understand that the reason we are under rulership us because there are power blocs within the major political parties who have arrogated to themselves the right to continue to lord it over the people, by deciding who should go and serve the people and who should not. Take a look at our executives and legislature at federal, state and local government levels, do you feel that you are being served or do you think you are being subdued?

Does it have something to do with the manner leaders are recruited; most times people who are not prepared for leadership are foisted on the country?

Leaders are not recruited; leaders volunteer. As long as we continue to call rulers leaders, they will continue to think that we who are their subjects are their followers and thatís not true. Weíre not followers; we are subjects. We have been enslaved, we have been subdued, oppressed and depressed for so many years; generation after generation. We must understand this; the people who are ruling us are not leaders. Until we get the terminology right, we will never find emancipation for ourselves. So, if you are referring to how the people that rule us are recruited, then I would say you are right. Most of the people who are placed over us do not have our interests at heart, because their allegiance is to the people who positioned them there. Why do we have this category of people? Very simple, because the people who seek the power to continue to rule us are the ones who diminish democracy within the political party system. Therefore, they use the power of selectocracy to determine who gets the opportunity to run for elective positions and who does not.  The problem is that they will never put your brightest and your best people there, because if they put a leader there, that leader will win the heart of the people and the power brokers will lose the power. So, what they do typically is to put someone that does not have the capacity to inspire the people; someone that does not have any vision for the people; who does not have a heart for the people; and who will not do anything when he gets there. At the end of the day, that person will be completely loyal to the power brokers and not the people. This is because he will realize that without the power brokers he would not have gotten there in the first place.

How do we get out of this vicious cycle?

There are two things we can do about it. One, we can get a critical mass of enlightened people who will join the existing parties as members and they will demand a change in the constitution and the framework of the internal processes of governance. That means that the parties themselves must change the way they are running their internal democracy. The point is, the only way we can go about this is to set up new political parties and those new political parties must be parties that are set up by people who do not want to run for elective positions. They should also have the courage to declare that their political parties are platforms for the emergence of the brightest and the best. Then, there must be a transparent internal democratic process, where every member of the party has a vote, like it is done in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. As you know, Barack Obama was not the favourite of the Democratic establishment; Hilary Clinton was. But, because every member of the Democratic Party has one vote, they went and voted for the person they wanted. That was how Barack Obama emerged. The same thing happened to Donald Trump in the Republican Party during the last election.

Can the trend of vote-buying during primary and general election be attributed to poverty?

Apparently, poverty is not the real problem. I am not denying the role of poverty, but I want to say two quick things about poverty. Number one, poverty is a designed outcome, a deliberate outcome that the ruling political power base use to keep people hungry, so that they can continue to give them peanuts to win their votes. Poverty will continue to ravage Nigerians and Africans, because the cost of elections is always tied to how poor the people are. If you improve the life of the people and you want to buy their votes next time, it will become too expensive. So, deliberately, elected and appointed officials who owe allegiance to the power brokers must keep the people impoverished, so that they can keep the cost of the next election low. So, as long as I keep you in poverty, I can always buy your vote.

But it is interesting that the people that are induced to vote are fewer than those that actually vote. I will give you statistics. In 2015, 98 million people were considered to be above the age of 18; 68 million of them obtained voters card and only 28 million votes were cast during the election Ė I said 28 million votes, not 28 million voters. This means that 40 million people refused to get involved; even though they know that they stand to get some financial gratification if they do so. That tells you that majority of Nigerians are not bought by the ruling class. So, what is the problem? Why did they refuse to vote? This is because they are inspired by any of the candidates that the ruling class has chosen for them. So, Iím not denying the fact that poverty is a factor; what Iím saying is that poverty is not the reason why we get bad governance. The real reason why we get bad governance is because those who will not collect money to vote do not vote. So, the only way we can see a difference in our lives beyond 2019 is when people who usually refuse to vote go out there and vote conscientiously for a new Nigeria and the future of their children.

What is the implication of the absence of civic education and history in our school curriculum?

The absence of these things in our school curriculum is to ensure that a new generation does not become enlightened enough to challenge the status quo. Every country that wants the lives of the next generation to be better ensures that they teach the children the mistakes of the past, so that the children can learn from it and take decisions to avert such mistakes. Only those who wish to keep the next generation in the dark will refuse to teach and empower the children. The truth is that the ruling class does not want to educate the next generation, because every time you educate someone you enlighten them and in turn empower them. That is why they send their children to the best schools abroad, but their subjects would go through the worst educational system. In the same vein, the ruling class also tries to stifle entrepreneurship and make it impossible for people to do business and succeed. One of the reasons why we are unable to have an enabling environment for business is because it is not in the interest of the ruling class. The moment businesses thrive, businessmen can use their profit to empower other people to challenge the ruling class.

Do you see this trend continuing in the next 10 or 20 years?

No, I donít. I believe the end of rulership has come. This is because this new generation is the most empowered generation that has ever lived in Nigeria. It is a generation that has been empowered by information, by communication and by technology. Based on those three things, we are seeing that new generation is coming up that is able to have access quickly to information; that is able to share same through social media; and their voices are being heard across various continents. They are using technology to do things and solve problems, like weíve never witnessed before. This is a generation that does not require a lot of money to be able to make a difference. There is no generation that has arisen in Nigeria that is as empowered, as motivated and as daring as the present generation.

I believe 2019 is going to be a pleasant surprise to the whole world. Please, mark my words. Every Nigerian above the age of 18 should ensure they acquire their voterís card. They should decide not to be a bystander in 2019. They must silence every voice that says that their votes would not count. If votes did not count in 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan would still be there today. So, donít let anyone lie to you that votes donít count. If you are not willing to suffer for two days Ė one day to get your voters card and another day to go out and vote ó then you will have to endure the suffering for four years. We need good people at every level of governance; not just at the presidency or the governorship, but at all levels, including the local government, as well as the legislature.

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The Problem With Our Elections, By Durotoye
« on: December 15, 2017, 06:36:07 AM »

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