Your Excellency Sir, Change Starts with YOU!

Your Excellency Sir, Change Starts with YOU!

By Kelechi Deca

Kelechi Deca
Kelechi Deca

Change was your idea, not ours.

Change was your manifesto.

We do not have a manifesto.

Change was your mantra, not ours.
Change was your magic word.
Change starts with you.

We did not vote “us” into power.

We voted YOU into power because we bought into your change mantra.

Change you sold.

Change we bought.

And change we want.

Change we can touch. Change we can feel. Change we can relate with. Change that has a human face. And we want it from you.

Show the light, we will find the way.

In 1937, when the Great Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (Owelle Osowanya Onitsha) launched The West African Pilot newspaper, he chose a very special motto for it:

“Show the light and the people will find the way.”

Zik knew leadership is everything.

The very idea that change starts with the led and not the leadership can be best described as an abdication of responsibility by the leadership.

That was the utopia Carl Marx preached, but as he also found out, it took the intervention of the ruling class in the person of Frederick Engels for his ideas to be heard.

There is no known historical precedent where the people led the change paradigm without the leadership.

I have ruminated through my books on political and economic history. There is no known reference.

The closest was the French Revolution of 1789, and if you take a closer look, it was not even started by the proletarian class. Danton and Robespierre were not ”the masses”.

Every dramatic and drastic change witnessed from the 19th to 20th century across the globe has been top-down.

Nnamdi Azikiwe studied it quite well in his renascent Africa, and came to the conclusion: “Show the light, and the people will find the way.”

Chairman Mao failed woefully in China because he believed change could come from the people; that was why he launched the Cultural Revolution.

But it took Deng Xiaoping to show that leadership is everything when he manipulated the ”unseen finger” that has pulled over 600 million out of poverty in the last 30 years. That is leadership!

Cuba withstood the world’s blockade, suffered all sorts of indignities, yet gave her people one of the best education and health care services in the world. It took the leadership of Fidel Castro.

General Park knew this quite well when he set out the policies that encouraged the Chaebols in South Korea.You can describe him as a dictator, but he laid the foundation for the take-off of a prosperous Korea. Today I am writing this with a Samsung mobile device. Thanks to the foresight of General Park, whose daughter incidentally is the present President of South Korea.

Lee Kuan Yew is an evident testimony that change can only be effectively and efficiently launched top-down. He enumerated everything succinctly in his well received book, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, 1965-2000. Singapore today is a living testimony to that.

Mahathir Mohammad pointed out that principles can be replicated. He learnt from what happened in neighbouring Singapore, and helped steer Malaysia in the same pathway.

Can we take a look at what leadership caused in Chile, which is today well referenced as the Chile Miracle? The bringing in of the Chicago Boys who helped draw the economic blueprint that led to the emergence of the first rich society in South America? This too is a well-documented case study.

What of Dubai?

Was it the poor people of Dubai that caused the change or the Sheikh who pursued his dreams in spite of contrary views from ‘knowledgeable folks’? Today, the Dubai experience has been duplicated in Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, etc, and in each case, it took leadership.

Brazil already has an economic growth template initiated by President Cardoso while he was the minister of finance. But it took Lula Da Silva to take Brazil to global prominence.

Now let us come home to Africa.

Botswana has always been described as an oasis in the midst of poor leadership, mismanagement and chaos. Was it the Botswana people that engineered the change process or the leadership of Ketumile Masire who followed in the footsteps of the first President of the country Sir Seretse Khama? He mentored Festus Magae, reputed as Africa’s incorruptible leader. Is Botswana today not regarded as Africa’s most stable country, with the continent’s longest continuous multi-party democracy? It is relatively free of corruption and has a good human rights record. Remember that Botswana is a landlocked country.

Look at Rwanda, another landlocked country.

Just 20 years ago, it was the most destroyed nation in the world. Go there today. It is a model. Walk through the streets of Kigali; it is the neatest city in Africa. Even Rwandans don’t even walk around dressed haggardly because of how neat their streets are. Interact with them to check out their level of patriotism. Check out their growth rate and how today they are the most respected African country at international diplomatic circles.

Look at landlocked Ethiopia, hitherto known for poverty and hunger and famine. Today it is the driving force in the Africa rising story. They are building massive 8,000 km railways criss-crossing the entire country.Their airline is the most profitable state-run airline in the world, and the rate of infrastructure development is second to non in sub-Sahara Africa.

What about Ghana whose citizens fled the country some decades ago because of economic downturn and political instability until a man called Jerry Rawlings came to the scene? Was it the people that led the change?

What about Angola that was embroiled in a civil war from independence in 1975 until 2002 (over 26 years) with some interludes? What about Tanzania,  Kenya, Ivory Coast,  Mozambique?

I can go on and on….

I can also go into Europe and give examples where just one man or woman came up with an idea, sold it to everyone, and ensured everyone is part of it.

Even democratic Germany survived the economic crises of the last decade because of the leadership of Angela Merkel.

In the United States, and at different times in their history, we have seen the emergence of someone who took the bull by the horns, and steered the nation from economic doldrums to prosperity.

It started with Thomas Jefferson.

Then we had Abraham Lincoln.

Then Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose astute leadership ensured Americans elected him four times as President even though he was physically challenged.

We had John F. Kennedy, whose dream was to put a man in the moon.

We also had Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and of course Barack Obama.

These leaders stood out.

In the UK we had men like Winston Churchill, whose words – just words – boosted hope in time of despair, and whose wisdom helped save an entire continent.

In France we had men like Charles de Gaulle. He was France, France was him.

He was affectionately described by the French as “Celui qui dit non.”

Your Excellency Sir, show the light, and the people will find the way!

LEADERSHIP IS EVERYTHING.

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