Creating a focused followership must start by inventing focused leaders educated in the ‘university of life-management for adaptable humanistic needs’ not rudderless ones.

GOOD leader hears the voices of other leaders in the background.
He is just their mouthpiece…
– Prince Bayo of Mushin on WAZOBIA

Victor C. Ariole

Education creates avenue for enlightened society and for prosperity of a society and it starts with curriculum packaging that could produce good leaders who approach life with a goal of giving everybody the opportunity to actualize themselves in line with their genetic endowment or environment leveraged values that lead to loftier self-actualisation. Maslow’s theory is greatly in line with that and it is yet to be faulted. However, when the leaders in the background are ignorant of people who are still at the lower level of the ladder where the fear of hunger and shelterlessness reigns supreme then such leadership failure creates cacophony of followership searching for rudderless leaders with no anchor in terms of what they believe in to moor their fear of sinking.

That is where defection is even an issue of rudderless leadership – poverty of mind and emotion is worse that hunger induced poverty. If with university education, as some of them claim to have, they still lack the right emotional intelligence to lead Nigeria out of endemic poverty then solving the insurgency problem in Nigeria could be difficult.

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For example, Shekau claims to be leading a group on the lower level of the ladder who are disillusioned by the claim that western education leads to prosperity whereas it seems to be leading to the exploitation of the masses. So, to liberate them from such exploitation he ironically empowers them with magazines loaded Kalashnikov – a Russian product currently suspected to be packaged in Central African Republic as there are doubts on what Russians are doing there now.

To the fighters they have nothing to fear than to face death and conquer their fear of hopelessness the way Charles Taylor converted and encouraged underage people to invade Liberia.

The worry is that the weapon is still western fabrication and how that weapon could be used to defeat a western ideology remains queer and it shows that the education being condemned still remain the answer to prosperity if not that the leadership that could channel it to prosperity is lacking. Shekau is, for sure, not a hungry man but what propels his action and leadership of such group is yet to be explored by the educational process. In effect, it is greatly emotional.

Human beings at emotional realm are hope driven beings and could remain stunted at that level as preachers keep assuring them or fail to sustain the tempo till they are catapulted into love and charity level by good governance or driven to animal instinct of brutality by ecology of flesh devouring leaders who preach nothing but wars. Courtesy of Morayo Afolabi Brown’s show on TVC, I heard one guy demonstrate such cleaving and how it turned out positive for him.

That guy expressed the hope that kept him going for about 50 years now which could be a reviewable template for the education of those in the group of Shekau as it is clear that the one planned by Prof. Jubril Aminu as minister of education who wanted to favour his kits and kin, the herdsmen, had failed (and that was when Nigeria’s educational system started failing and was sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity). To the Morayo’s guest known as the head of all touts, the lead expression was: mo jade ni ta 13years kin turi ono. In effect, he was an apprentice observing the trade of touting and obeying the orders of those who were there before him as well as being used for any evil before he could be granted the ‘certificate’ of graduation.

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An aspect that astounded most of the spectators was that contrary to their belief that he was a weed smoker or drug addict as they never thought of him in action without such stimulants was false. According to him, he had always lived with the hope that he would have great fulfilment in the future and it turned out to be so. Like Morayo’s name, he also found joy that translated to love as his expectations were met and today he has wives and children who are well-to-do and even citizens of America. Here is what education, and, indeed, western education does. He didn’t say it but the facts that his family resides in America and they are finding joy there say it all.

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This person can never take up arms again and the people he had made to see joy, out of his past brute behavior, are living to protest against anything brute. He was led, initially, by rudderless leaders and people who lived in the times Prof. Wole Soyinka described as penklemess, could know what kind of Nigeria it was that created the problem that resulted in the disaster of the first republic. This guy was an offshoot of such life but somebody or some kind of great hope guided his part to the present charity dispensation he is living; so should the leaders of Nigeria think and create hopes that could lead to great uplift of their people instead of relapsing to Shekau type of followership.

That kind of hope lifting behavior capturable in the educational system was what Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) that sat on the 9th of August, 2018 tried to deliberate on as diversity tolerance beckon on Nigerians. Someone in that forum explained that ‘ Shekau is a leader in search of self-actualisation that condescends the kind of achievement his educated leader, Bello , represented; just like all other leaders of militants or insurgents make of ZIK/Ojukwu, Boro/Wiwa and Awo/Jakande.

Unsustainable hope as well as unsustainable educational process became what the NAL debate resulted to.Following the experience of the Morayo guest and that of those obeying Shekau, a great missing link remains the weak curriculum of early education that lives out most of the young minds out of a sustainable local values or values that sustain hope for self-actualization and leaves no room for hopelessness.

In effect, a system that prop up the right people that could command respect for the followership expected to be educated to the top and imbibe great morals that are defined in lines with more humility and self-sacrifice to the flocks than self-aggrandizement. That, exactly, is what one of the eggheads in the gathering decided to do in self-examination as he could not understand how his own students could not stand and defend his own instructions after decades of inculcating such instructions in them meant to counter that of Shekau as he finds out that Shekau is quickly followed than him.

The question is: can the society isolate local issues from national and international vision setters who are currently western visionaries and still remain relevant in this competitive world of technology or should society bury its head like the ostrich and claim it has already reached self-sufficiency and be driven to extinction?

Nigerian educational system and process must wake up beyond mere tagging 26% of the budget as the expedient challenge, or the mentioned N800 billion for tertiary education as a panacea. University education must prop up 20% quality leadership beings capable of being obeyed and followed for a sustainable educational system that could make Nigeria relevant for the survival of Africa.

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It is not based on naira money value as it is not sustainable but where and how to get to making such well-rounded heads which entails multiple cost behavior – internal, exposure, equipment, infrastructure, great corps of faculty members in diversified form, great specialized schools, valuable exchange programmes, good governance, etc.

Creating a focused followership for a great nation must start by inventing focused and great leaders who are educated in the ‘university of life-management for adaptable humanistic needs’ not cacophonous or rudderless ones. The world is always led by thinkers who prop out a leader and they are all products of educational system, formal or informal.


Ariole is a Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Lagos