Team Buhari: The Brightest and The Best – 1
By Taju Tijani
Winning election is a task. However, the greatest task is assembling the brightest and the best to implement the collective vision of a new government. Buhari needs the best economists, the best scientists, the best public sector workers, in order to manage a new administration and carry out viable and effective public policies. As an ex soldier, Buhari needs to listen and connect with our military, the police, the navy and the air force. These are professional officers badly trained and badly funded by PDP in pursuit of wrong and selfish priorities. In Nigeria, majority of these armed professionals are democrats and have families and friends beaten down by the injustice of this swindle that we called PDP. They are fiercely patriotic and believe in the progress and prosperity of Nigeria.
Political leaders are elected to govern and show leadership vision. It is the people who make the hospitals, schools, media, and transportation work. Nigerian people have come out to show solidarity to Buhari and are ready to move Nigeria forward through his leadership by example. They are yearning to contribute to a reconstructive democratic project after the defilement of much of our national institutions by a nest of thieves called PDP politicians.
To win election is different from winning heart and mind. This is where Buhari has to bring the people along with him. I mean everyone who is committed to change and reconstructive democracy. Without mincing words, the silent aspirations of Nigerians are clearly written. A government who will ensure that our children go to school in clean clothes and are well fed; stable and affordable electricity, elderly receive their pensions and are taken care of in the hospitals, our youths are gainfully employed, our young ones are in colleges, that Nigerians are housed in decent accommodation and the security of all Nigerians from terror attacks.
In one word, we want a new and reconstructed society that will provide the basic material conditions that make human dignity and happiness possible. But beyond this seeming altruistic vision is the importance of good leadership. Nigeria lacks good leadership. Again, good leadership. Throughout the history of the United States there have been many great leaders.
Several such as Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Roosevelts were great presidents. Yet there was one who rise above all of them. One who is consistently being ranked as America’s greatest president. This president though dead for more than 147 years ago yet still inspires and moves people from all walks of life. That person is Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, variously known as ‘saviour of the nation’, ‘great emancipator’, ‘honest Abe’ and the ‘railslitter’ has been magnified and catapulted to a level nearing sainthood.
Every school age child in America knows about Abraham Lincoln. Thousands of books and articles have been written on various aspects of his life. His image is everywhere you turn. His likeness is on the penny, the five-dollar bill, savings bonds and certificates of deposit. There are countless statues, photographs, paintings, and sketches of him throughout the United States and around the world. His likeness adorns courtrooms, schools, public buildings and private residences. His name has been associated with cars, toys, banks, organisations, streets and objects too numerous to list.
In a way Abraham Lincoln represented the summation of those leadership qualities that had helped to form a nation. Lincoln stood for all that was right, honest and self-evident. He grew up in poverty and this background grounded him to the aspirations of common people. He was a compassionate and caring leader, yet, when necessary could put his foot down firmly and be decisive beyond question. He was patient, persistent, consistent and persuasive rather than dictatorial.
Leadership is an elusive concept that, at times, can be vague and ambiguous. As a result, there are no set rules or formulas for leaders to follow. There are only guidelines and concepts, perceptions and ideas, abstractions and generalities. This is why the art of leading people is so difficult to master and teach and why there is such a great need for role models as Nigeria slides into irreversible change.
Therefore, there is a great need for Team Buhari to be interested in Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style and philosophy. By our modern, digital age, Abraham Lincoln’s great accomplishment would be regarded as no less than a miracle. Lincoln was the leader who personalised change and lived and died to this conviction. Here are some of his ideas and principles.
One of the cornerstones of his leadership revolution, an approach that would become part of a concept in modern leadership thinking 100 years later came to be known as MBWA (management by wandering around). It has been called “roving leadership”, “being in touch” or “getting out of the ivory tower”. Whatever the label, it is simply the art of stepping out and interacting with people. The art of establishing human contact. This is saying that President Mohammadu Buhari and his team should not become prisoners in their own office.
As change makers, President Buhari and his team must ensure an open door and encourage people to come and talk. Access to leaders tends often to bath them in positive and trustworthy light. Lincoln’s roving leadership style took him to hospitals to see wounded Union soldiers recuperating from the Confederacy war. He attended private funerals and visited his generals and men in the battlefield.
Team Buhari must have a common touch and through it enjoys a sense of commitment, collaboration and trust with the Nigerian people. President Buhari and his team will even gain vital human intelligence (humint) necessary to make effective decisions. Reconstructive-driven democracy that has change as its philosophy must be led by a hands-on leader who has to be there when it counted – decisively taking charge, influencing, guiding, teaching and directing- rather than be a prisoner in Aso Rock Villa where he sees nothing, does nothing and hears nothing. That is a relapse into Jonathan’s lethargic legacy being swept away by APC broom.
* Tijani is Europe and Middle East Coordinator for Global Intelligentsia for Buhari.