Leadership is a task: the pursuit of ways and means of providing for the people. It is the employment of resources and exploitation/creation of conditions for the purpose of that task. Leaders are thus opportunists, who seize upon states of affairs to realize desirable outcomes in the interest of their subjects.
In its pure nature and what it consists of, leadership is dispassionate. It matters not therefore, in the garb of which doctrine it is delivered. But its character is determined by the norms and values of a given society, including the rules and conventions guiding the practice of governance.
Philosophers and thinkers on governance are inspired by these facts to prize temperament nurtured by wisdom as the best quality in a leader. Chiefly among holders of the opinion is Plato, who in his exposition on the matter, advocates what he calls the Philosopher King.
A ruler, Plato prescribes, should have a love for knowledge and intelligence. He ought to be reliable and must live a simple life. Knowledge ultimately determines the scope of the leader by affording him familiarity with the conditions and situations that interplay to produce the issues demanding attention. Drawing lessons from antecedents, a leader will employ the indices of cause and effect as bases for decision. His capacity to do that is the measure of his intelligence.
Intelligent actions on the part of the leader are those that advance the state by increasing its fortunes and minimizing its losses. And in all cases, the best of decisions are dispassionate because the leader, who is austere materially and emotionally, not giving in to mundane pleasures that may limit his ability for appropriate action, is bound to achieve success.
All these virtues are embodied in philosophy, which is the pursuit of truth, guided by principles that tailor the actions of adherents towards the realization of desirable results. And principles are anchored on ideology, upon which all endeavours are founded, especially those that concern the affairs of state.
Governance therefore, ought to be inspired by ideology, if it is to be good. For, nations and states may subsist on brisk commerce and strong defence but only upon ideology can great empires and civilization thrive and endure.
Nigerians recall with nostalgia, the First Republic, which is regarded as the era of ideological politics, when political parties were identified by distinct ideologies. In that period, the political elite founded partisan groups, whose views on national issues and governance were predicated on ideological principles.
The different regions of Nigeria were administered along the lines of their ideologies of subscription, which also characterized their stand on disputed matters, thereby facilitating settlement and comprise. Policies and programs of regional governments bore their ideological badge, while the opposition adopted rival ideologies for dissent.
The fact that affairs are no longer the same in Nigeria was so clearly echoed recently by prominent PDP presidential contender, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. He told youths during a BBC World town hall programme that political parties in Nigeria were not ideologically based but mere vehicles for securing power and pursuit of interests.
Tambuwal may well be the most eligible to make such declaration. Having himself changed partisan allegiances four times since 1999, he was indeed speaking from experience. And the irony is that some commentators point to that as the indication of lack of principle, partisan unreliability or inordinate ambition for leadership.
The justification for switch of political parties is, however, two fold. On one hand, since political parties are not founded on ideology, there is no issue of principle in moving from one to another. And owing to their lack of ideology, political parties in Nigeria are not vehicles for visionary leadership.
It obtains therefore, that for those who seek leadership, partisanship is valuable only to the extent of securing power and forming a government. Whether or not an administration is visionary, largely depends on the leader’s capacity and perspective on governance.
Ideological politics builds strong institutions, rather than strong politicians. Strong institutions are the instruments for good and stable government, while strong leaders are given to dictatorship and societies in their charge achieve success that is limited to their reign.
This fact, which is echoed by former US President Bill Clinton, during his recent visit to Nigeria, is not only the thrust of Tambuwal’s campaign but also part of his philosophy on governance. It is a conviction realized through service in all the three components of democratic government.
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal’s search for the platform for ideological politics that is inspired by principles has been long and sustained. His sojourn through political parties and positions in two arms of government, including his legal practice, are a schooling in the potentials and limitations of Nigerian politics as a vehicle for inspirational leadership.
It is the antecedents that in 2015, motivated Aminu Waziri to leave the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, on which platform he was elected Federal House Speaker to the opposition All Progressives Congress. He was motivated to make such move that was described as “bold and courageous” by APC chieftain, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, by that same nationalist spirit that has guided his politics from inception.
For Tambuwal, privileges and comfort are small prices to pay for the higher principles of national unity, survival and progress. He thus, jeopardized his position as number four citizen to defy a ruling party that has all largesse to extend for loyalty and wrath to visit for dissention, by supporting the emergence of APC’s Muhammadu Buhari as President.
That support was, however, based on the promise of change that is positive and enduring for Nigeria. For Aminu Waziri, partisan choice is a function of the need to uphold the principles of progress of the citizens, freedom and rule of law.
Sadly, however, the principles upon which the coalition of 2015 was formed to produce the APC leadership have all been negated. While the lives and property of Nigerians are being lost in the worst security situation they have witnessed, the worst economic indices are bringing upon the masses, the greatest hardships they have experienced. The situation is compounded by the posture of impunity and unabashed disregard for the rule of law by the APC government.
Aminu Waziri is so soon again and regrettably so, constrained by similar circumstances to those of 2015 to abandon the APC, in a continuing search for a platform that can guarantee for citizens those rights and entitlements enshrined in the laws of the land. Unfolding events in the opposition PDP indicate a shift in attitude and posture within the party and an effort to learn from the bitter circumstances of the defeat of 2015. Aminu Waziri is encouraged by these events to rejoin the People’s Democratic party.
The philosophy of governance of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has been clearly illustrated by his style of leadership through democratic participation. His service in the National Assembly was a lesson in partnership, teamwork and due process. His term as Speaker of the House of Representatives exhibited energy and upheld inclusiveness, unity across all divides and unity of purpose for progress in the service of Nigerians. These are features inherent in his tenure as Governor of Sokoto State. And they are qualities Aminu Waziri aspires to bring to bear if given the mandate to lead Nigeria.
Shekara wrote in from Abuja.
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