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2023 Resolve! Measuring leadership – The economy as the Holy Grail

Written by Victor Ikhatalor

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Victor Ikhatalor

A key dynamic, taken from “Man’s” earliest recordings of human society reveals in stark relief, that – Societies, through the auditoriums of their leadership, have started wars and intervened to maintain the peace – to perpetuate and sustain economic interests.

The hallmark of any sustainably developed and progressive economy, through empires of yore to the present day – is the prevailing common denominator of leadership firstly promoting their indigenous businesses from within and then enabling their exportation to other climes through any means possible.

A key signpost of this doctrine of leadership – is the very deliberate patronage by officials of State of indigenous products and services.

The economic sense behind this is simple – how else can you co-opt your own people from within and other’s from without, to patronize your own if officials of government are not seen to hold their own worthy!

Approximately 2500 years before American soldiers and their allies set foot in Iraq in 2003, Cyrus the Great of biblical fame, as leader of Persia sent his troops into that part of the world to unseat the ruler whose tyrannical rule threatened civil war.

In interceding to maintain the peace – Cyrus the Great was also securing and preserving the economic interests of Persia in those parts. This narrative and the fundamental economic principle behind such policies have been seen in the actions of empire’s and peoples of all ages even to this day.

By Presidential Order, in 1900, President McKinley of the United States sent American troops into China without consent from Congress, setting a precedent for future American leaders. His rationale for this proactive step by the United States in projecting it’s economic interests into other parts of the world – was the urgent imperative of putting down the Boxer Rebellion, which was a movement opposed to foreign businesses and missionaries in China.

When American troops intervened to “keep the markets of China open for trade”, they were simply keeping in lockstep with other competing imperial powers of the time – Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Russia, France and Italy. Nowadays, and often by design – analyst’s nitpicking through the policies of the world’s leading economies will again and again find that the lines are sufficiently blurred between security concerns and economic interests but whichever way one may look at the behavioural pattern of leadership in today’s world and leadership in bygone eras – what is clearly manifesting is that economic interests have and always will be a prime motivation for State policy.

Encumbered serially by short-sighted, spur of the moment leadership signposted in actions and inactions as though they were visiting alien conquerors – Nigeria, like no other country in Africa has sacrificed more of her children and sent them into harm’s way intervening to maintain the peace in other places without commensurate thought of how such actions might add value to their kith and kin back home.

If on the verge of 60 years of indigenous rule, we have not learnt our lessons and been sufficiently jolted from an afflicted inertia then surely a critical take-away from the novel Coronavirus pandemic must be to henceforth very stringently set-up the economy as the “Holy Grail” in our societal order of priorities upon which leadership is measured. As I have argued and so you’ll find – in those countries able to offer hope and ameliorate the harsh realities of COVID-19, their economies have that right of place!

The Nigerian people – and very critically elitist key influencers from elder statesmen and women, traditional and religious leaders, professional bodies, civil societies, unions, social cultural groups, entertainment and media luminaries e.t.c. – must collectively awaken to the ever looming dark portent of the hydra-headed monster unleashed by our economic malaise.

It is of urgent imperative from hereon that sterner tests are set for those who would seek to preside over our economy.

If only for the sake of base self-preservation, elitist citizen sentinels must see their way towards the task of holding leadership responsible. In this task, more than any other group of Nigerians – Industry and Business leaders must step up.

These men and women who by the sheer magnitude of capital and infrastructural commitments, have tied their fate to the endurement of the Nigerian Estate must take a firmer hand as pestilential flood’s insistently threaten the Estate. Theirs is not the conundrum of carpetbaggers – who will at the spark of a match, only have briefcases to tot!

At the next go-round in 2023, Nigerians cannot afford to remotely consider anyone for office of President who has not outlined and taken ownership of a clear and unambiguous economic blueprint that shows a pathway for the sustained growth of indigenous industry and businesses.

Critically, those seeking other elective offices at the center and in the sub-national federating units must also be put through the non-alien test – as surely only aliens would not want to promote their own!

For so long as we have leaders who find it abhorrent, beneath them to even in official capacity use made-in-Nigeria – so long will we continue to have waka-pass alien conquerors in leadership positions, thus stagnating our growth.

The correlation between leadership and policies of state that distinguishes thriving and progressive economies from those in the doldrums have been amply highlighted through the ages – those societies with better economies will always reflect leadership that are consistently poised to by any means – preserve, sustain and perpetuate their economic interests and ascendency.

The very foundation of the better economies – is built on the patronage of indigenous industry and businesses from within championed by leadership. Nigeria must begin now to put that foundation in place – the sustainability of the Nigerian Enterprise demands it.

Victor Ikhatalor, is the Ambassador of Nigerian Industry and Business. He can be reached via Twitter:  @MyTribeNigeria or email: [email protected]