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Tambuwal, leadership and history making

A news story of great significance that ought to have made the front page was ‘buried’ on page 11 of ThisDay newspaper of Monday, September…

A news story of great significance that ought to have made the front page was ‘buried’ on page 11 of ThisDay newspaper of Monday, September 26. Entitled ‘’Tambuwal Lays Foundation for School in Sole LG in Nigeria Without One’’, the story told readers of one small step which the former Speaker of the House of Representatives who is now governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, took that nevertheless made history.
A few days ago, Tambuwal laid the foundation for the construction of a new secondary school in Balle, the headquarters of Gudu Local Government Area of Sokoto State. But this is not the meat of the story at all. The juicy part of it has to do with the fact that if the secondary school in Balle is completed and studies begin in it, Tambuwal would make impactful history as he would effectively close the chapter of the town being the only local government council in the whole country without a secondary school. Just as the first astronauts moon-landers said of their achievement in 1969, “one small step for man and one giant step for mankind’’, I will say in reverse that what Tambuwal has achieved is one small stride for a nation but one giant stride for a local government. What took place in that small corner of Sokoto is worth celebrating because that is actually how genuine development comes to a nation – an aggregate of the small, small giant strides of local efforts. As I write this, I came across a quotation from Robert Collier which says, ‘’Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out’’.
The story of Tambuwal’s secondary school in Balle caught my attention because it speaks of leadership’s response and responsibility which seems to be sorely lacking among most of our leaders who do not seem to be able to identify the felt needs of their people and how to lift a people out of the hole of underdevelopment even when they (the people) do not perceive the trap of poverty and underdevelopment enveloping them. One of the attributes of a good leader is to envision for the people they lead and communicate his vision effectively in order to mobilise the people to participate in developing themselves, their community or the geo-polity they belong to.
Recognising how far behind the people of Gudu must have been left educationally by their compares in the 23 other local governments of Sokoto State and the 720 others of the entire country, Tambuwal went on to conceive the history-making new secondary school as an international unity one that would attract students from across Nigeria and beyond the boundaries of Nigeria, especially the neighbouring Niger Republic. Not only that, the school will be co-educational in order to give equal access to boys and girls and learners will be taught in English and French. This is the stuff of which ‘correct’ leadership is made. When you see a gap in certain areas of a people’s life, you exhibit responsibility by doing something to correct the gap identified.
The action and the idea that informed the Balle secondary school may not be earth-shaking but it surely draws attention to the kind of things our leaders ought to be doing to leapfrog this sluggish country to become a modern one. It is very troubling that for the most times, some of us concerned patriots do not see any initiative, any refreshing idea worth celebrating loudly coming forth from most of those who govern us. Our leaders seem bereft of ideas and appear as if leadership is a very painful duty imposed on them by the people.
This is partly why our country looks so joyless now. There is no enthusiasm in the air. The place looks stale, pale and soulless. Leadership must seek ways and means of always creating something new and beneficial; something that gives people hope, something that changes or brings excitement to their humdrum existence. For months on end until their school is completed, the people of Balle will talk about nothing else but their international secondary school. A part of the responsibility of leadership in an environment such as ours is to constantly seek to give people something exciting to talk about, something ennobling to cheer them up. A little of that every now and then is surely good for the soul of the people.
I have always dreamt that if God elevates me to a significant executive position in this country, part of my strategy for development will be to introduce a healthy competition among the people that will fast-track development.
State governments in Nigeria can actually become great agents of positive development change if they institute some competition aimed at gingering the local governments and even private individuals to make small but significant history. They can be motivated to strive for the longest, the biggest, the most qualitative and the most innovative. A governor can, for instance, institute an award for the local government in his state with the highest enrolment in primary and secondary schools in order to encourage educational development; another can think of the largest private farm or industry in an LGA to stimulate economic development; one can also think of the longest and best maintained community road or the biggest and best maintained borehole in an LGA in order to encourage community participation in the development process. Our leaders should strive to inculcate in the citizenry the Olympian spirit of the swiftest, the strongest and the highest.
The human spirit achieves the most when an atmosphere of healthy competition is in existence. Our leaders should exploit this fact of life for our accelerated development. When a leader notices a gap in a certain area of his people’s life, he should be innovative enough to evolve a policy or strategy of filling that gap in a most cost-effective way. That is the only way we are going to move forward and join the rest in the race for development.
Idang Alibi is an Abuja-based journalist.

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