It was Saint Augustine who opined that the world is like a book and those who do not travel read only a book. In the course of my career as a medical practitioner and in other to gain fresh and different perspectives on things, I travel a lot. I am always amazed whenever I travel out of my base and see the passion and enthusiasm with which great leaders with burning patriotism have built the developed world. From Finland, Singapore, Japan, China, mankind is making tremendous progress and it is a function of visionary leadership.

A study of great leaders in the developed world shows that development is not really a rocket science. Africa doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. But it starts with understanding what leadership entails. Leadership isn’t about just pecks of office. It comes with enormous responsibilities and the verdict of history. It is a serious business that requires dedication, focus, passion and empathy.

Western leaders do not organize thanksgiving service after elections because they understand that it is not a holiday or vacation. They realize the enormity of the task, the challenges of fulfilling election manifestoes and the legacies they want to build for posterity. When Obama was the President of the United States, he ordered many suits of the same colour so he doesn’t have to spend time worrying on the colour to wear. For his type of job, 24hrs of the day is simply not enough. True leadership is sacrifice. It entails those sleepless hours to solve mountainous societal problems . Leadership is a lot of hard work and clear thinking.

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It is instructive to note that at the time Nigeria got her independence, the Asian tigers were no where near the developmental table. We were almost on the same pedestal. Leadership is the reason those countries became tremendously transformed within three decades. There would be no first world Singapore without Lee Kuan Yu. The same thing is applicable to China that was on the throes of poverty, with humongous population. Today, China is the factory of the world, thanks to purposeful leadership. India has pulled millions out of poverty and has become the global destination for healthcare and even ICT related businesses. Purposeful leadership has made Israel the technology hub of the world as well as agricultural powerhouse. Located in an unforgiving desert with extremely difficult terrain, Israel has conquered the forces of nature and has blazed the trail in technological innovations. Who would ever believed that Dubai would be connected to international trade through sea, but this is the function of leadership. The success of Dubai and the bold visions of the Sheikh is a study in uncommon leadership. How South Africa healed very fast from the scar of apartheid is nothing but a resultant effect of leadership skill of Nelson Mandela. Africa’s Mauritius, Rwanda and Botswana are beginning to spring up, thanks to effective leadership.

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Effective leadership requires inclusiveness and equity. In a diverse country like Nigeria with , the feeling of alienation by any section of the country deepens the ethnic faultlines and makes the building of national cohesion difficult if not impossible. Can two walk together if they don’t agree. So says the Christian holy book. No progress can be made without peace, and a critical factor for achieving peace is justice. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher defined it as giving everyone his due. It is fundamental to the steering of the ship of State and a necessary ingredient for the fanning of the embers of patriotism into flame. The turmoil engulfing the land today is traceable to the lack of justice in the land, the feeling of superiority by a section over others. Just like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, some animals are more equal than others, and it is a recipe for discontent and revolt against machineries of the State.

Justice requires that we are all equal partners in our march towards building the country of our dreams. It assauges feelings of alienation and neglect, stamps out hate and places everyone equal before the law. It is the first order of business for effective leadership after every election, the art of reaching out to everybody regardless of the pattern of voting and galvanizing a national force that is essential for the take off of the visions of the government.

In countries with visionless leaders, the people perish. That is why people must realize that election of leaders affects their future in all facets of life. The 21st century leadership is no longer about roads and coining empty slogans. It is no longer about payment of salaries. Those things are basic functions of every government. Leadership is about bold ideas, innovations and legacies. The world is leaving us behind and it is unacceptable.

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Leadership has changed the world all over. The world is more concerned about leaders who are in tune with the latest technology and who chart the course for future technologies. 21st century leadership is about solution and no longer about acquisition. It’s about knowledge. The new kind of leadership finds a balance between politics and governance and ensures that governance takes the icing on the cake. Leadership is going scientific. Africa cannot perpetually be the weeping continent, ever reliant on foreign aids and always contented with being a consumer of other people’s products of civilization. Africa needs to rise up and fulfill her destiny. Only strong and purposeful leadership can achieve that. This generation of Africans are being beckoned to rise to the call and become that change that Africa needs. It is their duty to either fulfill that call or betray it.

DR GODWIN MADUKA is a medical doctor and Anambra PDP Governorship Aspirant.

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