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Business and accountable governance obligations of leadership


Leadership. Photo: MHEI

This is not an auspicious time to be asked to give a talk on any aspect of our national life.

On a regular day, we may find seven to eight separate stories on any page of any of the national newspapers and all stories would all be negative – filled with bizarre stories of piracy, insurrection, militancy, armed robbery, kidnapping, electronic manipulation, fraud and all kinds of weird stories of sexual malfeasance.

What is more, it is becoming difficult to conduct a civilized discussion on any issue of national importance or interest. So a visitor to this country may be forgiven if he/she were to wonder if we were in a permanent state of moral and socio-pathologic malaise that has become endemic and has defied diagnosis. Yet this is a nation whose citizens are doing fantastically well in all major nations of the world – in business, in the professions, in the arts – winning prizes and outstanding laurels all over the place.


The question ought then to be asked what can account for this apparent state of national schizophrenia? What is responsible for the continuous projection of a normless society of denizens of the underworld by our leaders and our citizens?

The Normative Foundation of Nigerian Nationhood
In any society, there is a drive to maintain social order and to assure peace. There is, therefore, standards of proper and acceptable behaviour. Such rules of standard behaviour of each member of a social group constitute the norm or values when aggregated they become the grundnorm or constitution of the society.

The grundnorm for the management and direction of Nigerian national affairs are captured in the 1999 constitution, which is 153 pages of turgid and legalese prose summarises in chapter II the essence of the Nigerian state: its vision, philosophy, ethos, mission, and goals. In the Nigerian state, it is envisaged that “… shall be the duty and responsibility of ALL organs of government and all authorities and persons exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this chapter of this constitution…”

It continues “…The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice;
….It is hereby accordingly declared that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority;

….the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and

….the participation of the people in THEIR government shall be ensured in accordance with the provision of this constitution;

….The composition of the Government of the Federation….shall be carried out in a manner to reflect the federal character and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty;

…the composition of the Government of a state, local government…shall be carried out in such a manner as to recognize the diversity of the people within its area of authority….;


…The motto of the Federal Republic shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress, accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged whilst discrimination on the ground of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited”. It continues “…The state social order is founded on ideals of freedom, equality, and justice”;

…every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations, and opportunities before the law;

…the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced;

…the independence, impartiality, and integrity of courts of law and easy accessibility thereto shall be secured and maintained;

…all citizens without discrimination on any group whatsoever (shall) have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment;

…Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy and to this end, Government shall as and when practicable provide free compulsory and universal primary education; free secondary education, free adult literacy programme;

…The press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people…”

When one reads carefully through the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy it is evident that successive leaders of the Nigerian state over the last fifty years have failed our citizens. Governance has not been according to the grundnorm that connects government to the people.


It can be said that a lofty vision was projected, the philosophy, goals, and objectives enunciated in the constitution would seem eminently desirable and germane. Why we are so far away from the desirable social state is difficult to understand. It is often claimed that this part of the constitution cannot be enforced because it is not justiciable. There is no stipulation as far as one can see that cannot be enforced if there was a time frame attached to the achievement of these objectives and fundamental principles as well as a leadership committed to the achievement of these laudable goals.

Every government has lacked the will to fulfill their oath. It is pertinent to note meanwhile that in the nearly twenty years of the celebrated return of democracy as a system of governance to this nation all factors relating to individual welfare of the citizens has steadily regressed even as inequality has exponentially widened: poverty, educational and health facilities, quality of life, food sufficiency, shelter have all gone south. Indeed, it can be surmised that the number of resources left unutilized because we abandoned the pursuit of these fundamental needs of the citizens may have served to increase the number of resources now available for misapplication or even for corrupt conversion and personal aggrandizement by those who have access to these resources earmarked for the welfare of the generality of the citizenry.

So how did we get here?

Governance, Values(Norms) and Leadership
The orderly management of society starts at the family level, through the community and so on to the level of the nation-state. The organization of each level often depends on an individual. Human beings are born with a hierarchy of needs that often drives our perception of reality and our behaviour. These needs constitute our value system which may change over time. As needs are met their dominance wanes: as needs are met new needs emerge.

At any particular time, each of us has one or two dominant needs. It is to be noted as observed by Brandon/Hambrick that these universally held values which an individual or a group of individuals could share constitute a dominant set of values. At the top of each person’s system of values, there are a handful of dominant values of paramount importance. What motivates an individual is important.


There are then three motivational domains applicable to each individual or to each society: Needs driven by our desire for sustenance which is therefore anchored on our physiological, survival and security demands. Research has shown that the traditional values of loyalty, trust, companionship and the sense of belonging are anchored on these;

Needs driven by external forces such as recognition, the crave for significance and self-esteem which is linked to the core values of power, prestige, ambition and expectedly aggression;

Needs are driven by internal factors such as self-actualization, personal growth, and transcendence anchored on the entrepreneurial values of innovation, the pursuit of risk and creativity.

The needs and values of leaders shape both their vision and strategies thus aligning their mission, goals, and tactics: The vision must be a shared vision between the leader and the followers anchored on the commitment of the leader and followers. While leaders cannot change the values of their followers, they can change their behaviour by understanding the forces that drive them with a view to tapping into and/or harnessing them through policies, strategies, and communication. While leaders who lead on the basis of ethical principles are usually consistent, pro-active and dynamic what fosters their hold on their followers is their commitment to being conscientious, inclusive, accountable and compassionate.

In the final analysis what is that which makes the difference between one individual and another as successful leaders?
To be continued tomorrow.

The successful leader according to Kraemer shows absolute fidelity to four principles of value-based leadership


Self-reflection : the ability to identify and reflect on what he/she stands for, his values and mission;
Balance/Perspective: the ability to see the situation from multiple perspectives including different viewpoints to gain a holistic perspective and understanding;

True Self-Confidence: accept yourself, recognize your strength and master your skills as well as your weaknesses for continuous improvement;

Genuine humility: not forgetting who you are, appreciating the unique value of each individual and treating everyone with respect.

Appreciating these principles leads to the discovery of the best self who will build the best team that can fit in and fulfill the goals and objectives of the organization or nation. Consequent to these is the discovery and promotion of the best investments whose end-product is the best citizen.

Governance, History, and Development
It seems evident that values, motives, and styles of the leadership are the lynchpin on which leadership revolves and ultimately influences the culture of the society. There is always an underlying and implicit synergy between the values of the leader and the followership filtered through the perception of the leader by the followers.

To be continued tomorrow

Anya delivered this paper at The Second Annual Lecture of the Niche Newspapers in Lagos, recently.

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