Whither Leaders Of Tomorrow?


By Isaac Asabor 

Diane Gordon, a former kindergarten teacher highlighted how vulnerable children are to the influence of the environment when she said, “Children are born ready to learn. During the pre-school years a child’s brain is twice as active as an adult’s, with trillions of corrections between brain cells being made. And it is the child’s relationships and experiences during the early years that greatly influence how the brain develops.” There is no denying the fact that Gordon’s postulation is replicated in various psychology textbooks and research papers. Similar findings in psychology say “Babies begin to take in sensory experiences from the world around them from the moment of birth, and the environment will continue to exert a powerful influence on behaviour throughout life.” Also, psychology as a discipline says “Genetic can have a powerful influence on development, but experiences are equally important.” “For example, while the genetic code contains the information on how a child’s brain may be pre-wired, it is learning and experience that will literarily shape how that child’s brain grows and develops.”

Against the backdrop of the foregoing psychological findings, it is expedient to ask, “What experiences are our children, who are invariably our future leaders, gaining from the contemporary socio-economic and political milieus?”

Believe it or not, the somewhat peccadilloes or inanities which some political leaders daily exhibit would to some extent influence the leadership styles of our future leaders if moral restraint is not collectively adopted by our present crop of political leaders, and also find the best way out from the seeming rot. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched as youths and children learn more from what they see than from what they are told.

You may have thoughtfully asked, “What are our future leaders learning or experiencing from the present leaders.” It is not an exaggeration to say that our leaders of tomorrow, who are mostly youths and children, are learning nothing from some today’s leaders (politicians) other than the dishonorable acts of corruption, insincerity towards governance and abject levity.

No doubt, the leaders of tomorrow are supposed to be under the vicarious mentorship of the present crop of political leaders. Regrettably, as it is today, most of our politicians, who are variously occupying political offices are not collectively exhibiting enviable political lifestyle for the youths to emulate. It therefore stands to reason that if the youths and children of today replicate the prevailing political oddities, peccadilloes and inanities that our nation would in the future be subjected to another era of plundering. The question once again is, “What political experiences are our future leaders gaining from the present crop of political leaders?” Without any sense of equivocation, enviable examples are not being set for the youths to emulate.

There is no denying the fact that the tone of distrust that is inherent in this piece may sound disagreeable to some readers. But the truth remains that there is no way any future leader can be encouraged to imbibe the treasonable habits of some of our leaders who are suspected to be patrons of a terrorist group. The reason is that such subversive activity would be diametrically opposed to the future of our dear country.

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In fact, no youth or future leader in the world today has been flagrantly denied the benefit of good governance than the Nigerian youth. Since the country gained independence in 1960, it is arguable that there has never been an extensive period of exemplary good governance, particularly at the federal level. It is like since the attainment of Independence in 1960 that the country is wont to seemingly go deeper and deeper into the pit of maladministration by each passing administration. The situation is that once an administration take over the rein of power; the key players in such administration would in their glaring sense of insincerity condemn the immediate past government, and in some cases condemn other past governments, but would go ahead and become worse than the same past governments they condemned. This has been the trend since 1960. Simply put, our children (our future leaders) have not been given the opportunity to witness good governance in action. What leaders call good governance today is nothing but a misnomer. In my view, good governance should encompass the development of the people but not just the development of roads, gutters, street lights and what have you. In fact, leadership should as well encompass building and developing the people in order for them to have the capacity of facing life challenges. Simply put, leaders at all levels should provide platforms for the development of the people. This can be done through the provision of both formal and informal education and the creation of gainful employments.

Apart from learning from our political leaders, “Are our future leaders also learning from their parents? The answer to this question to a large extent is not in the affirmative. Many homes today are bereft of moral values. It is not an exaggeration to say that the homes are the building blocks of a successful or a failed nation. As it is today, most youths that are rhetorically referred to as “Leaders of Tomorrow” are at the moment left on daily basis to be on their own without parental guidance. Many parents are wont to leave their children at home to attend to various shades of businesses as early as from 6.00am only to come back home at night without having any clue to the activities of their children while they were away. Is this how our future leaders should be nurtured to become good leaders?

The other day, some leaders were seemingly caught red-handed siphoning monies that accrued from fuel subsidy into their private pockets. With such unpatriotic act, is it not expected that their children would naturally take after their fathers? One may not be wrong to say that most children whose fathers are bent on committing fraud are beginning to see those who are hard working as not being “smart” enough. An African proverb says the kid (a young goat) naturally understands how delicious food is by watching the mother chew her cud. Having consistently watched the mother chew her cud, the kid would one day begin to chew hers’ in a manner that is reminiscent of her mother. Do most of our corrupt leaders think that their children are not watching the way they are acquiring their ill-gotten wealth? “If yes, are they expecting their children to be less corrupt  and dishonest than them by the time they become leaders in future?”

It is not an exaggeration to say that the American election that seemingly worked perfectly in the country recently was seen by many as an automated political system. If truly it is automated, as widely believed, then it goes to say that the process started years back. Today, the Republican and Democratic parties in America are not short of good leaders. Within the parties, future leaders are identified before they are unveiled to the world. Given this view, it is expedient for our leaders to begin to exhibit good leadership examples that would nurture credible leaders in the future. A leader that is busy sponsoring the activities of any terrorist group has nothing to offer to the youths of today. Any leader that loses an election and resorts to violence to address his perceived injustice has nothing to offer the “leaders of tomorrow.” A leader that is an “expert” in stealing fuel subsidy money has nothing to offer the youths that are the “leaders of tomorrow.” In my view, our leaders should begin to see leadership as a flawless continuum. They should literarily be seeing leadership as wine. Wine gains more appeal as it gets older.  The leadership style that prevails across the country today is not what anyone should encourage our future leaders to begin to emulate. There is nothing to emulate in the leadership style. It is fraught with corruption and dishonesty.

However, there is hope as this writer is through this pacesetting medium urging the government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to intervene by building Institute of Governance across the six geo political zones. In my view, acquiring short training either on part-time or full-time basis from any of these schools will be a requirement for one to qualify for any elective position. In these schools, I suggest that courses that would engender good governance should be taught. Similarly, compulsory Advanced Civic Studies can be introduced as General Studies (GNS) courses in our tertiary institutions. Finally, any present leader that is involved in one form of corruption or the other should be punished as no Nigerian is above the law. In fact, if the pool of good future leaders is nurtured and develop I believe the future of the country would be better. It is not enough for us to be mouthing the phrase “future leaders” at every point in time without minding the environment that is influencing them to become future leaders. There is no way a corrupt environment will nurture honest leaders. It is not an exaggeration to say that by the time our present leaders begin to lay emphasis on how best to produce good future leaders that those that are today rhetorically called future leaders would begin to understand the fact that corruption is an anathema.

•Asabor wrote from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]