IT is the sacred duty of leaders at all levels to lead by example. The reason for this is obvious. Exemplary leadership is worthy of emulation by the led. It is also a model of behavior, especially for the young and upcoming ones who will one day take over the reins of leadership. In most cases it is what they pick up from the elders that they propagate when their time to lead comes.
Exemplary leadership can be demonstrated in personal carriage, words uttered, they ways they are put across and the messages they convey. It is also evident in the things leaders do, how they do them and the effects such actions produce which can be positive or negative.
Nigerians have for long concluded that their country has not been lavishly blessed with good leaders, which is why we are where are today, at the bottom of most global developmental indices and at the top of most indicators of backwardness.
It is against this background that we commend the exemplary demonstrations of refinement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, PhD, and President Muhammadu Buhari. Incidentally, these are the only Nigerians that have enjoyed the rare privilege of leading this country as military dictators and elected civilian presidents. They opted to disagree but in a civilised manner.
Obasanjo had, on 23rd January 2018, issued a very critical public statement asking Buhari not to run for a second term. He outlined his reasons for this advice. But unlike in the past when his letters to former president were often loaded with vitriol which provoked responses in kind, Obasanjo studiously refrained from personal insults. The content of his letter also did not portray malice, personal vendetta or ambition but genuine concerns.
On his own part, President Buhari openly instructed his aides not to tackle Obasanjo in their usual unsalutary deployment of words. In fact, the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, defended the Federal Government’s performance without the use of offensive words. To cap it all, President Buhari and Obasanjo met at the recent African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, embraced, exchanged pleasantries and along with former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, took a group photograph.
The object lesson in all this is that it is possible and, indeed desirable, to disagree without being disagreeable. If our common objective in politics and public life is service to the people and the glorification of God, then, there should be no room for any form or pugnacity or violence in word, body language or action.
We commend Buhari and Obasanjo for setting this good example. We hope that this will not only continue but should actually define a violence-free and peaceful conduct of the impending campaigns and elections.