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Africa urgently needs to heed Soludo’s call for disrutive change

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THINGS have gone awry in almost every facet of this generation.    

  This is manifest in people’s attitude to personal and social activities .

  From general culture to professional ethics, standards have dropped to crass, banal and mundane tokenism. It is like we are in era of materialism and ‘whatever happens is good provided we get the quid’. Everything is transactional and quid pro quo even among intellectuals as with non-intellectuals.

  Such a descent to base value system which Anambra State’s Governor-Elect, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, reasons is very obvious in Africa can lead the continent to the abyss. Hence the urgent need to engage the development now because a society without good values and high standards, at least in its leadership, will not achieve lofty development.

  He, however, believes that Nigeria and Africa can come out of the woods if they embark on a positive value-reorientation and leadership recruitment that targets active brilliant youths with noble ethos. Such young ones, who are brave enough to sustain their leadership missions, notwithstanding challenges would eventually transform Africa if they remain tenacious and effectively let the larger society into the new direction.  

  Prof. Soludo expressed this view while addressing the first set of graduates of the School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG) during the institution’s First Graduation Day last Saturday, January 29 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

  In his Keynote Speech, entitled, ‘The Purpose and Price of Disruptive Change’, Soludo told the SPPG Pioneer Class of 2021 that they can transform the society, if they believe they can and work hard for it. He identified reprioritisation of values in leadership as the major key to positive change of economic and democratic fortunes of Africa. He emphasised the need to make people who lead or aspire to lead, understand the essence of being in the helm of society, irrespective of their purpose, background or political leaning.

According to him, only when Africa gets a crop of leaders who see leadership as a call to transform their state and maximise the potentials of the people like the Asian Tiger nations of the half of 20th Century did would the continent leap to the sky. He therefore motivated the fresh SPPG grads to dream, drive and push to the limits like great leaders which they can all be. 

  “Every society that has prospered and endured”, Soludo told them, “has been led by men and women who have discovered a higher purpose beyond self. For such people, politics is a vocation for selfless service and not a job. Such people are driven by a single purpose – to make a difference and leave legacies. Whenever and wherever competence is augmented with character and developmental ideology, the society wins.”

  He cited the transformational leader of modern Singapore Lee Kuan Yew who in his book “From Third World to First”, established that the combination of competence, vision and higher purpose produced the globally recognised, miraculous development of the nation which thitherto languished in squalor. “In one of his last speeches before death, Lee Kuan Yew observed that he and his colleagues were prepared that even if they died trying to make Singapore great, they would have been happy to die for a worthy cause. The choice is personal. The choice is yours.

  “But if perchance, you choose, as I believe you have elected, to join the crusade for a better Africa, and knowing the missiles that will come your way as you strive to do good and be different, let me encourage you with the great words by President   Theodore Roosevelt in 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

  With those motivating words, Soludo charged the young graduates to envision, push and persist on a new and great Africa where paradigm change in politics and leadership bring about socio-economic advancement. Like the outstanding teacher and renowned public speaker he is the professor of economics rolled all his garbs into one and spoke to minds of his audience like a strait-talking and passionately motivating father. At instances, he came across as a role model as he drew from the rich trove of his experiences to make, obviously, vocation defining impressions on the young ones.

  As he left his audience, the young graduates looked taken and buoyed with dreams to walk the paths of legends and sages. Africa, Nigeria especially, needs more of such Soludo suasions. More so, when it is direct and devoid of obscurities that could fly over the audience’s heads. Soludo knew the society has degenerated to the level of intolerance, if repugnance of admonitions and adumbrations, as a world-renowned teacher, he packaged his message in the most poignant way to get the young ones. 

  ‘The Purpose and Price of Disruptive Change,’ made it clear to the young graduates that, against currently popular notion, saints can play in partisan politics and still make heaven while illustrious service in social or professional leadership can equally be a path to sainthood. All that is needed is for the man or woman to know himself or herself and his or her mission.

  “I sincerely recommend the book entitled, ‘The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?’  by Rick Warren. Purpose is deeply personal. Everyone must have that personal deep reflection and answer that question: “what on earth am I here for”? For some, the answer is roundly selfish: to eat, drink, marry, build house(s), and accumulate and accumulate all the vanities of the world and then die,” he explained while dismissing the wrong assumption that the “political arena is nothing but a dining table.”

  Indeed, Soludo, effectively struck the hammer on the head of our contemporary society’s problem – lack of political ideologies and effective minds that can lead the land’s transformation.

  But social transformation missions are very tricky and difficult to achieve given that you can turn around everything and still fail until you work successfully on the minds of people not only the leaders. Humans’ minds are the guiding and operational codes of societies. How effectively or ineffectively, people’s mindsets are adjusted to fit into a change agenda determines the extent of success or failure of the transformation project yet the mind is the most complex thing to understand or work on.

  Social scientist, Chirapat Ukachoke, in his landmark study, ‘The Basic Theory of the Mind: The Physical Theory of What We Are’, submits that getting to understand human mind or how to work on it is so knotty that even the deepest research still fails to explain it. The mind, Dr. Ukachoke notes, is  “one thing that has always fascinated and puzzled.”

  Africa is in dire need of leaders and aspiring leaders who understand the philosophy of governance and their purpose in leadership while also being adept in turning the minds of followers to their mission. Our current generation needs a populace with healthier thoughts as well as leaders with new orientation.  Simply put, Africa needs a new mindset to get her uhuru because what we have as our social culture, democratic practice, governance and overall values are all but debilitating sources of drawbacks.

Experts reason that societies evolve from within the subjects’ minds not from outside. Ukachoke observes that evidence of peoples’ mindset manifests in the things they do. He called it ‘qualia’ –the mental phenomena that appear in our minds and create impressions that we can “consciously experience, such as the vision of a house, the sound of a song, and the odor of a rose in our mind.”

  Therefore, for contemporary Africa where people see success in politics from the perspective of successfully owning properties and businesses; where young people talk of scamming people as success in business; where one is inundated daily with gory tales of killings and money rituals; where being pimps and gigolos are regarded as legitimate sources of ‘good living’ and all sorts of oddities, nothing manifests our mundane degeneration as those qualia – evidences of warped minds.

 Nothing is therefore as relevant today as the kind of message Soludo communicated in ‘The Purpose and Price of Disruptive Change’. Africa needs more of it now to inspire the crop of leaders and followership that will bring her eureka.

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