It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” The truth is, nothing can stop a people with the collective will and confidence to succeed at a common cause. And great leadership inspires this sense of confidence and will power in the hearts of the people by modeling it. It took the signatures of 56 leaders, willing to stake their lives and liberty for the cause of an independent nation, to ignite the fire of patriotism, self-confidence and commitment that birthed the American nation. It took one man’s willingness to lay down his life for the cause of his people to inspire the confidence and patriotism needed to bring about the emancipation of black South Africans from the clutches of apartheid. And on the negative side of the equation, it took the determination and ambition of one man to inspire the confidence and sense of patriotism the Germans needed to attempt to dominate the world. There is a dash of patriotism and self confidence every leader needs to provoke its people to success. But it must be modeled.
On the May 29, 2015, we saw a glimmer of patriotism and self confidence across Nigeria like we have not seen in a long time. The sportsmanship of the outgoing government and the pedigree of the men who constitute the leadership of the new government combined to give Nigerians a reasonable measure of confidence in our ability to make our democracy work, and a renewed sense of hope in our commitment to make the country live out its potential. But we must however recognise that enthusiasm will naturally wane or wax with time and that is why every effort must be made to sustain the momentum.
It is our firm belief and prayer that the new leadership will inspire Nigerians to see the potential in themselves and empower them to make contributions at various levels toward the development of the country, as it will be virtually impossible to succeed otherwise.
The truth is, seizing the opportunity that this moment presents will require a sense of shared responsibility. We are in this together, the government and the governed. It was the American politician and one time Governor of Illinois, Alder Stevenson who said, “As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding…” So let us join hands with the new government every way we can to make Nigeria great again. We can do this by promoting a culture of excellence and egalitarianism in our own spheres of influence, offering constructive criticism where necessary, and resisting the temptation to pervert the course of justice or subvert due process in our respective endeavours.
There is a near-consensus across the world that Nigeria has turned the corner for good, and the majority of its people are eager to see it assume its pride of place in Africa and across the world and willing to do what they can to ensure it succeeds. The onus is now on the leadership to fan this new ember of enthusiasm and patriotism into a full bloom.