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________Leadership and advancement

Leadership, accountability, and the strategic role of followership……………..

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Leadership, accountability, and the strategic role of followership……………..

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Government should be afraid of their people”—–Alan Moore, British Author.

Africa, the second largest and second most populous continent, one-third (33.3%) of the world’s mineral reserve lies in Africa, two-third (66.6%) of global diamonds comes from Africa, the continent holds one-tenth (10%) of the global oil reserve. Africa is home to some of the rarest mineral resources in the world, the Uranium used in the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo as far back as 1944, the mineral Cobalt used in space shuttle flight is mined in large quantities from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the mineral Coltan used in cell phones and electronic products is mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are seven continents, arguably Africa can be said to be the richest of the six liveable ones, as at March 2013, the World Bank identified Africa as the poorest continent. In 2013, Africa was the world’s fastest growing continent with 5.6% growth in its GDP and expected to grow at an average of 6% from year 2013 to 2023. Africa has recorded growth throughout the continent and over one-third of Sub-Saharan Africa growing at 6% or higher. It is expected that with the current growth rate most of African countries will reach middle income status of USD$1,000 per year by 2025.

Apart from the rich and abundant mineral resources, of the 7.2 billion world population, Africa is home to 1.136 billion people. In 1950 with world population of 2.53 billion, Africa had just a mere 228.8 million people representing 9% of world population then, it has recorded an internal growth of 396% in 65 years which is an addition 907.2 million people making up 15.7% of the world population as at 2015, it was also the fastest growing continent in terms of populations. Europe with a population of 549 million and 22% of world population in 1950 and almost twice the population of Africa has only been able to add 194.1 million people in 65 years increasing the population to 743.1 million, a growth of just 35%.

In 1950, the population of Latin America and the Caribbean was 167.4 million and is 630 million as of 2015, an increment of 276% over 65 years, North America at 171.6 million in 1950 increased to 357 million as of 2015, recording 108% in 65%. The two continents of South and North America made up 13% of world populations in 1950. Asia had a population of 1.4 billion people in 1950 representing 55% of the world population then, it has grown to 4.4 billion in 2015 an addition of 3 billion people, 214% internal growth.

With an abundance of mineral and human resources, Africa has a working age group of 527 million which is expected to reach 800 million by 2030, it then means it is a continent with huge cheap labour potentials with average labour rate between USD$90 to USD$180 per month. So what is the excuse, challenges and problems that has continued to plague Africa and cease the continent from taking its rightful place on the global map? The most valuable of all resources any country or continent should boast of is its human resources which Africa seems to have in abundance. It is estimated that Africa will have a combined population of 2.4 billion people by 2050 of the projected 9.3 million world population and will represent 25% of global population while that of Asia will decrease to 54% from 61% in year 2000, Americas will represent 13%, and Europe 7%.

Investing in its population, Africa should be a power house of industries and manufacturing, the Asians and Latin America has been able to harness these potentials and have placed themselves on the road of industrialization by using the strength of population. For a people to have a sense of constructive followership they must have a strong, honest, purposeful, and inspiring leadership that will drive the moral of the people, it must be a leadership backed by actions that inspire others to dream more, to learn more, do more and become more as stated by John Quincy Adams, the sixth President Of The United States. The obvious truth is that Africa has not had good leadership, it is a continent that has been devoid of direction of what and where its goals and objectives should be, what it intends to do with the vast mineral and human resources at its disposal. Africa lacks accountability from its leadership and the people have never really been seen as people asking for it, they are more concerned about the present than a country and continent they will leave for the future generations.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki in May 2015 while addressing Pan-African Parliament as the current chairperson on the High Level Panel (HLP) on the Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, his panel’s report had estimated that between USD$50 to USD$80 billion is stolen from Africa yearly by foreign firms through tax avoidance and fraud and this has cost the continent an estimated USD$1.4 trillion in illicit financial outflows in the last three decades perpetrated by foreign corporations and corrupt Africans.

Like a successful firm, every leader must know what its cash cow is and how to use the proceeds to develop other aspects of the business SBUs to generate greater profit for the company. Africa has its mineral resources as its cash cow but has failed to invest the proceeds to build a better society by empowering the people. Mao Zedong, China’s great revolutionary leader saw the power and potential of great number of population and positioned China by instilling work ethics and discipline to later become the world manufacturing powerhouse and industrial super power.

Nigeria, the classical example:

With a population of about 178 million, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and 8th in the world with a 2.5% annual growth rate. One in every six African is a Nigerian, it is the largest exporter of crude oil in Africa and has the largest natural gas reserve in the continent. Nigeria with her newly rebased GDP in 2013 became the 26th largest economy in the world and the biggest in Africa and at the close of year 2014 the GDP was estimated at USD$568.5 billion. It is estimated that the population will reach 440 million by 2050 and will make Nigeria the third most populous country after China and India, this will put Nigeria on the foremost centre of cheap labour in the world.

The biggest resources of the country is in its untapped human resources, yet the government has not seen it deem fit to develop this sector. The citizens themselves do not ask for more than they get because they have not been able to develop a strategic road map on how to hold government and public officials accountable for the dividends of governance and democracy. Nigeria is the only country where a governor of a state will go with an entourage and media coverage to commission a borehole of about USD$1,000 for a community while spending over USD$10,000 on itinerant and media coverage. The wastage and not being accountable to anyone has developed into impunity which the ordinary populace do not dare to question for fear of retributions.

Great societies are not only built by great leaders but also through the principles of good followers.

General Dwight David Eisenhower, the 34th President of The United States, during his time as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces that liberated Europe during World War II had made it clear that every unit of the arm forces had their role to play for the strategy put in place to defeat the Germans to be successful, no components of strategy works in isolation, the components must support and reinforce one another, for any strategy to succeed all its components must play complementary roles. The goals of the strategy must be defined, what products or services we are introducing to achieve these goals, what are the core activities that has to be performed and what value proposition are we giving to the society.

The strategy of building a great society does not only lie with leadership, the populace is a part of the strategy and if the populace refuses to play its strategic roles then the strategy is doomed to fail. The society must play over 50% of the core activities of making sure leadership works, for leadership will continue to fail if a society does not ask for greater standards and services to the people through accountability. A society that does not “Demand” the best from its leaders is a society fed with crumbs and leftovers, Nigerians have consistently allowed the leaders get away with impunity, they have over the years disenfranchised themselves from the active politics and resigned to faith that the Almighty God will one day come down to fight their battle while not knowing that the power of governance rests within their hands.

The best societies of the world today are those whose people used the ballot boxes to ask for accountability, they confronted the leadership when they perceive or know the interest of the greater society is not taken into account in leadership decisions, they bring the economy to a halt through protects and strike and they ask that justice must be served to those who have in one way or the or other robbed the system or broken the laws of corporate governance and ethics. It is through these processes that the populace can play strategic roles in shaping and demanding for accountability from leadership.

Most Nigerians don’t even know their rights, Nigerians have come to accept their rights as privileges because they have refused to demand for the right in the first place. Nigerians jubilate when a governor commissions a borehole for a community. For example, the populace can fight the jumbo pay of legislators by using their power of electorate, most Nigerians don’t know that a serving Senator or House of Representative member can be recalled. Within the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chapter V, Part 1, Section 69, Sub-Section (a), on National Assembly it states:

National Assembly

 69. A member of the Senate or of the House Representatives may be recalled as such a member if –

 (a) “there is presented to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission a petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member”.

These are amongst the strategy that the populace can use in demanding for better governance and accountability from the government. The people must wake up and demand for accountability from the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary both from the Federal and State level. The strategic ways the follower follow is as important to the success of governance as how the leaders equally lead, it is a complementary strategy of holding one another accountable for the deliverables expected from governance and the output expected from the investments of government on the people and society.

Nigerians must understand that the society has a great role in shaping good governance which can be compared to the same objectives of the actions of civil society in Global Governance. These roles must include strategies to promote a set of values that must demand from leadership: accountability, transparency, responsiveness, equitability, inclusiveness, efficiency, rule of law, participation and consensus oriented decisions.

Nigerians as a civil society can adopt the following measures in making sure that government and leaders are accountable to the society:


  • Demand for Increasing Public Transparency of Governments Operations: The civil society should demand for an open government which will include projects of open data, e-participation, accountability and public contracting Websites.


  • Monitoring and Reviewing Policies: The civil society must play the role of a watchdog to oversee policy formulation and implementation, reports must be studied, criticized and not just accepted, and must be ready to challenge the failure of ongoing policies.


  • Seeking Redress for Mistakes and harms attributable to Regulatory Bodies: must be ready to drive norm change, official impeachment, reparation paid, institution reconstructed. The rights of the civil society can be exerted through to auditors, ombudsman, and legislative arm of government, courts, and the mass media. 


  • Advancing the Creation of Formal Accountability Mechanism for Governance: The Civil society must encourage government discussions, need to strengthen mechanism of accountability by leveraging social media, public consultations and public events in which national agencies are accountable for what they plan with the budget and what they really do and how.


 The society as followers must acknowledge that to enforce accountability and good governance from the leaders the followers must play an important role in shaping a minimum standard required from leadership, in the same way leadership without direction and followers that cannot hold the leadership accountable results in disaster for the civil society, and for the followers to be able to demand accountability and good governance from leadership, the followers must exhibit the following qualities:


  • Good Sense of Judgement: Even as followers take directions from the leadership of the society, they must have an underlying obligation to the society and country to do so only when the direction is ethical and proper. Followers must know the difference between directives given by a leader which they do not agree with and one that is truly wrong. Good judgement is critical to being a good leader but it is also as equally important in being the follower. 


  • Education and Awareness: The civil society must be educated and aware of the task before them, people must be educated and aware of the task before them, they must understand and know their rights to fight for them, the awareness of policies and decisions in governance must be known, and to hold leadership accountable a fair knowledge of how things are done must be known.


  • Honesty: When followers feel that the leaders’ agenda is flawed or not in the best interest of the society, followers must owe leadership an honest and forthright assessment what the leadership is trying to achieve and how. Good leadership are appreciative of constructive feedback.


  • Show of Courage: Winston Churchill called courage “The Foremost of the virtues, for upon it all others depend”. Followers need to be honest with leadership and it takes courage to be honest. It takes courage to confront leadership about accountability and governance, hence it takes real courage to be a good follower.


  • Loyalty to the Course: Good followers must remain loyal to the course and must not be swayed by religion, ethnicity or tribal sentiments, they must be seen as people demanding accountability for the greater good of the society at large and not for a specific section, tribe or religion of people.


  • Ego Management: Good followers demanding accountability must know that it is not about them but about the greater good of the society so they must be ready to put any personal interest aside that might jeopardize the common interest of the society.


Leadership will always overshadow the followers but there are no leadership without followership, Nigerians must be ready to ask and demand for accountability if they want to make the society a better place. Followers play a critical role in shaping good governance through accountability by asking for increasing public transparency of governance operations, by monitoring and reviewing policies, by seeking redress for mistakes and harms attributable to regulatory bodies. These will be achieved through mechanism and strategies like demanding for accountability, advocacy, public education activities, fueling political debates, and show of courage to confront wrong decisions.

Author: Roman Oseghale

Roman Oseghale holds Masters degree in Architecture and a graduate of Executive MBA from the Telfer School of Management and Leadership, University of Ottawa, Canada, he is a Consultant and Business Intelligence Analyst and the CEO of IntelServe Inc. a Canadian Business Consulting Company. He is a passionate analyst and writer on Leadership and Economics, He is a strong advocate of Investing in Human Capital Development to drive Economic Growth and Sustainability.

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