Let’s Measure Goodluck Jonathan’s Dead Credibility by Odusote Oluwakoyode
Barely few days after Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state marked his 60th birthday with a lecture organized in his honor, I was involved in an interesting discussion in a forum. The bottom line of our discussion was based on the credibility of our past leaders and how it has always been measured to regard most of them as “statesman”. According to a school of thought at the forum, our past leaders like the Ibrahim Babangida, Olusegun Obasanjo etc are not credible enough to be referred to as statesmen while a school of thought felt differently.
I took the discussion further in thought and wondered seriously what could be the yardstick that makes a leader credible to worth the term a “statesman”? Most of our leaders today have in one way or the other earned that esteemed titled even those that have occupied exalted positions with the power of the gun. Credibility is key, whether as a government or as the governed and in measuring those we refer to as statesmen. A statesman is a skilled, experienced and respected political figure whose advice is sometime sought to guide decisions in of a government. Such a figure must have served responsibly and creditably. In Nigeria however, we are used to regarding a former occupier of a political position, old and retired to his home town as “statesman”
There has likely never been a time when leaders are under so much scrutiny to behave credibly and morally. The volume and type of change occurring today in Nigeria has created a seemingly unstable and stressful political environment, considering the long term effects of corruption, massive unemployment, lack of basic amenities, decay in infrastructure, epileptic power supply, bad roads, and civil unrest. In moments like this, one tends to look at the beginning of our failures, those that have so far been involved and contributed positively or negatively to the current situation we are bedeviled with in Nigeria. If citizens of a nation view their leaders as credible, these citizens will more often rise to the occasion in times of difficulties. But if they don’t believe their leaders or trust them, citizens tend to merely go through the struggle of hardship and seek a means of survival.
Even when citizens tend to be comfortable, are they happy? Are they putting their expected patriotic zeal in a country segregated along the line of elitist ambition for power and wealth? Over the past years, Most Nigerian leaders have lost many of the expected zeal of motivational levers expected to be counted on for a nation.
In situations of crisis as we witness in Nigeria, it’s up to leaders to guide the people through these times in ways that inspire hope for life, dignity, liberty, pursuit of happiness and equality. And to do this, it takes credible leadership. Credible leaders are courageous, trustworthy, competent, dynamic, inspiring and accountable. It’s not enough to have one or a couple of these attributes; which is how most of us have historically defined a credible leader. Today, a credible leader needs to hold all of these attributes, while being proficient and competent to execute strategically. A credible leader must be sincere, talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, right wrongs, show loyalty, deliver results, confront reality, clarify expectation, inspire hope, practice accountability, listen first, keep, commitments, extend trust.
It is leaders’ responsibility to build a nation that is worth living with necessary basic amenities. Keep the people motivated while laying a strong foundation for a better country. A credible Leader grapple with combined challenges to bring out a nation from the slough of destabilization and collapse.
Leaders at all levels are in a tough spot, they are being judged on their daily activities whether good or bad. In the course of such service, a leader’s credibility is measured by the ability to demonstrate behavioral integrity needed to build a reputation for impeccable follow up and straight talk.
Credible Leaders need to speak candidly and live up to their words and promises. Such displays in turn earn them a trust and commitment from the governed.
Like trust, credibility is slow to build and quick to be destroyed. People remember the promises they consider to be broken. The promises kept only register when they’re unexpected.
How do we measure credibility? A Credible leader is someone whom others perceive to be and look forward to for positive impact. Such a person is seen to be competently equipped to lead with knowledge and understanding of how things work positively. A credible leader does not need to fidget but Composed in the face of daunting challenges a nation is faced with. A credible leader is expected to be Honorable with untainted integrity.
It should not be a pride for a supposed credible leader to boast of his involvement in rigging elections, ride to power while in prison and amassing wealth from questionable forces amongst many other disgusting negative characters. He is expected to be honest. He lives by his word. He demonstrates the values he talks about. In other words, leaders are credible if others recognize that they combine technical expertise and the competence with strong relationships to deliver positively.
The current political climate in Nigeria creates a messy and challenging time for everybody and some of our leaders often, even with the best of intentions, fail to sustain their credibility through it. Some Leaders that have occupied political offices in the past sometimes tend to defend their decisions to prove their credibility. It is sure that some of them may think they’re acting credible all the time, but credibility depends on whether the governed perceive them to be credible. A leader can’t be credible when the county under his watch grew in poverty while he becomes stupendously rich without recourse to human dignity. Odia Ofeimun explained this about Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo “As it turned out, and as Obasanjo has told the story, Chukwuma Nzeogwu was the intelligence officer who was attached to the efforts to unravel the veracity of the charges in the Coker Commission and Treasonable Felony trial. He was obviously privy to the discovery made by the Coker Commission that Awolowo kept a good account: that he had more money before he became a Premier of western Region than he had in his account after eight years of living in his own house, not in the state house, and spending his own money on entertainment. Even when Kwame Nkrumah visited Nigeria on a state visit, the Ghanaian President stayed in Awolowo’s house at Oke Ado in Ibadan. Not in any state house. Thus, there is every reason to assume that Nzeogwu had enough information about the man’s distance from the common run of politicians in the country for Awolowo to be raised above the slough of general discussions and brickbats”.
Credible leaders are not expected to act as if they know all the answers, rather they should show humility. Talk about how the challenges are being faced, not just what they’re doing, in light of their experience. In situations of challenges, dialogue is expected to bring about a reasonable solution.
Almost everywhere we turn; trust is on the decline especially in our various institutions as it relates mostly to our system of government. Consider the loss of trust and confidence in the government and our politicians. It is evident that we’re experiencing a crisis of trust. This crisis compels us to ask three questions. First, is credibility a moral question? Second, is it an educational question? Thirdly is it about the system of government? Those were the premise of the discussion in the forum.
Credibility is a complex term and it is expected to be a continuous temperament in every individual. The first job of any leader is to inspire trust. Trust is confidence born of two dimensions: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, motive, and intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, skills, results, and track record. Both dimensions are vital. In acquiring this abilities however, a single derail from a these traits sees a leader falls from grace and such leader’s credibility is put to question. With the increasing focus on moral in our society, the character side of trust is fast becoming the price of entry in the new global economy. However, the differentiating and often ignored side of trust is competence.
Just as we believed in President Goodluck Jonathan’s slogan of “fresh air’, the governed might think a person is sincere, even honest for a trust to be placed on his shoulder. The moment such a leader doesn’t get the much anticipated result, the level of trust reduces drastically, no matter the excuses given for inability to deliver, thereby resulting in the credibility of such leader being subjected to criticism. A person might have great achievements and talents wealth, but if he or she is not credible, no one is going to trust that person.
A credible leader begin by framing trust in all strata of the national life, you don’t promise what you are not sure of delivering all in the name of acquiring political power. The effect of failure to keep to promises made is grave because when the governed discovers that the trust placed is failing, there is bound to be negative consequences. It is pertinent that credibility matters to leadership. One of the best ways to attract followership is to follow action with promises. The governed does not need to be assured of dividends that they would eventually not receive.
The true transformation starts with building credibility at the personal level. The foundation of trust is your own credibility, and it can be a real differentiator for any leader. A person’s reputation is a direct reflection of their credibility, and it precedes them in any interactions or negotiations they might have. When a leader’s credibility and reputation are high, it enables them to establish trust fast. Integrity, Intent, Capabilities, and Results are key component of maintaining credibility. Part of building trust is understanding, clarifying and delivering what the nation wants.
Some of our leaders living and dead that earned credibility for their outstanding roles in our political landscape our numerous; Olusegun Obsanjo is remembered for his courage in handing over power to a democratically elected government in 1979. Same feat was achieved by Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar in 1999. Babangida is known to have tainted his credibility by annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential election that was regarded as the freest and fairest in the political history of Nigeria. Olusegun Obasanjo tainted his credibility also in his quest to serve an aborted third term in office as president.
Maintaining a credible record is a continuous attitude and leaders are expected to meet up to the demands of the period as it may be required.
Past records of outstanding character of credibility may stay long in the memory of a nation to trust a leader only if the present is not allowed to taint.Top of Form
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