How to solve Nigeria’s leadership problem, by Fashola


Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, on Thursday, advocated the articulation of a true Nigerian Dream through which a gold standard for accountable leadership and followership could be established in the country.

Fashola, who spoke as one of the Panelists at the Fifth Christopher Kolade Symposium with the theme; “Development Agenda: Leadership” at the Four Point Hotel in Victoria Island, said articulating the Nigerian dream would also enable the leader to hold the followers accountable.



Noting that the Nigerian dream does not end with “life more abundant” as one of the Panelists posited, Fashola asked, “What is the Nigerian dream? Have we agreed on what the Nigerian dream is; because that, perhaps, will be the easiest way in which to set a gold standard for our leaders as to what we expect them to do for us”, adding, “And in that way also, to hold the followers accountable, because every time we talk about rights I don’t hear sufficient discussions about responsibilities”.

First, let us talk about the Nigerian dream. Is it sufficient to say it is life more abundant, is that all that we aspire to? So, we don’t have a definition, I don’t have any and until we articulate that Nigerian dream, perhaps, for that long we will continue to search for the right leadership and that will be the real discourse”, the governor said.

On the need for followers to fulfill their obligations, the governor said, “We always hear of the right to life, the right to education and all that, but the responsibilities for being entitled to these rights are well articulated in the Constitution itself, particularly Chapter Two. It says respect for the flag, respect for the national Anthem. I wonder how many of us can recite the National Anthem, the first and second stanzas and, indeed, the National Pledge”.

There is a responsibility also in that Constitution that you must pay your taxes, declare your income and pay your tax. How many of us can really beat our chests and say ‘in this respect, we are good citizens’? Can we, therefore, now expect our country to provide for us in the sense that we have fulfilled our obligation to our country?”, he asked.

The governor debunked the notion that only those who have money could contest elections and win in the country pointing out that those moneybags only get the upper hand in elections because they are involved fully in politics while the professionals do not get involved.

Taking a hypothetical case proffered by one of the panelists giving the impression that moneybags stand a better chance of winning elections because of their money, Governor Fashola declared, “What I cannot concede to him is the fact that Mr. Moneybag wins the primaries simply because he has money. That cannot be the reason. The more likely reason is that Mr. Professional is not involved in Politics”.

But Mr. Moneybag is down there using his own tools to get people to work. So when he is at Ward meeting, people want to refresh so he can provide refreshment for them. Mr. Professional doesn’t come to tell them about the very deep and philosophical ideas and life-changing plans that he has for them. On Election Day, it is Mr. Moneybag that we know. Mr. Moneybag will, therefore, win not necessarily because he has the money but because he is involved”, he said.

Citing Mrs. Hilary Clinton as an example of political involvement, Fashola, who said as a Democrat, Mrs. Clinton had missed the Party Convention only once in 44 years, declared: “So, those of you who are looking for leaders, they are here. But if you don’t get involved in the political space, the Constitution says you cannot get into an elective office unless you belong to a political party. So, if you want to make a very hot meal and you don’t like the kitchen, it is not going to happen”.

The governor said there was no clear cut definition for leadership but there are some things that have resonated as best practice cross the ages, words like vision, courage integrity and all that adding,  “What I do know is that those who ultimately lead are really servants of the people, that a call to leadership is a call to service”.

He described leadership as a lonely place in the sense that the true leader lives with fear adding, “The fear is derived from the fact that every day that I wake up I come to terms with the fact that 21 million people and more are looking up to me to do right for them. Their hopes, their aspirations depend on what I do”. 

The fear shows you are in to do the job and do service to the people. But you must not let the fear dominate you; you have to dominate the fear. That way, it keeps you on your toes. It helps you to keep you grounded, it helps to make you real human and it helps to make you connect”, the governor said.

Responding to a question the Civil Service, the governor regretted that not many young men and women these days want to go into the service pointing out that the best crop of leaders Nigeria ever produced in the past were from the professionals from the Public Sector.

According to the governor, “The problem we have is that we have put our first eleven in the least area of priority while we left the main area of priority to probably the third and fourth level. That is the problem. The first eleven have taken responsibility for the least important part of our lives”.

In his contributions another panelist, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, representing the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, said leadership was not the problem but followership because, according to him, “Leadership emerges from followership”.

He also said leadership in the country has been marred by ethnicity and sectionalism asking, “In the complex society that we operate, when we say a leader, whose leader do we mean?; probably an ethnic leader. In a country where we say it is the turn of this group to produce the President, what it means is that we are narrowing the choices of 160 million people to the population of that group”.

He described the Nigerian Dream as Life more abundant for the people of Nigeria adding that followership must play a more active role, a more dominant role in the leadership of the country. We must be more forceful in an active way in order to direct our leader to the right way to go”, he said.

Representative of the Chairman of Stanbic IBTC and CEO of the bank, Mr. Ademola Shogunle, said contrary to what sometimes obtain in the public sector, there are consequences for breaking the law in the Corporate world. He however disagreed with the notion that one could not be mentored unless within the influence of a mentor saying there was “mentorship by remote”.

Also present at the occasion were Chairman of Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI), Dr. Christopher Kolade, Director Governing Board of NLI, Alhaji Bashir Ibrahim, CEO of NLI, Mr. Yinka Oyinlola and former President of Civil Liberties Organisation, Mrs. Ayo Obe who moderated the event, as well as other distinguished guests and members of the Public and Private Sectors.











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