By John Mayaki
Ever since time immemorial, people of different caliber—academics, physicians, thinkers, and even commoners—have wondered and attempted to understand the soul of leadership.
Is it learned, is it genetic, how can one man be very efficient in directing and organizing the affairs of a group, association, a state, a country, while another man who is successful in other ways cannot even address a gathering?
Many studies abound today which have offered their answers and understanding of this subject matter, yet studies, as popularly known, are subjective and always do not answer all the questions, rather raising attention to other puzzles.
Nigerian scholars have done their own assignment on this matter but if we are too bewildered, wishing to understand this from the perspective of our own time, then we must look at the activities of a certain Nigerian leader.
He is Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, former President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, former Governor of Edo State, and the current National Chairman of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC. Can it be due to a string of luck, chance, and coincidence that one man has been able to have come this far, leading men and women in different times, settings and organizations? No, it most unlikely. Therefore, there must be something about him that excites a people, that commands respect, that curates the ambition of a people while forerunning for the achievement of their collective will and the common good.
Perhaps the first thing to learn from the person of Oshiomhole is that leadership is not what begins nor manifests when there is an official capacity, office, or designation which one has been urged to lead. Leadership capacity, the life of Oshiomhole teaches, starts from when men are yet common, inter living among themselves without a clear structure or a present ambition, but one man, however, appears to be in control, to be of character and vision that the people, without coercion, submit to his directives.
The intervals between the different posts that Oshiomhole has served, when he is not in official leadership, proves this quality. In those crevices, his opinion is naturally sought, the media gravitates to him to harvest an understanding of the prevalent situation at the given time, his people—even after his gubernatorial tenure has elapsed—still look up to him, aiming to have their thoughts built by Oshiomhole’s foresight.
Yet it is in the direst of times, in the hottest part of the furnace that gold attains its highest and purest brilliance. The same has been for Oshiomhole whose leadership history came to a tempestuous crescendo in his current disposition as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress. It is worsened by the fact that this storm is emanating from the very springboard, the very origin of Adams Oshiomhole. Discord in the state’s gubernatorial arrangement, hence a clashing and splashing of interests, ambitions, and motives. But how has Adams Oshiomhole behaved so far?
From imperative silence to timely intervention, one can observe that diplomacy is the heart of Oshiomhole’s leadership. For what is excellence and intelligence if not an apt understanding of the time, its needs and how best to approach them? A leader knows that his opinion and intervention carries weight, has the capacity to heal or aggravate, to discipline or to destroy. For Oshiomhole and his approach, healing, resolving and discipline are the keys.
It is for his love for due process and insistence on it that he has come to earn the support of diverse party men and the respect of people even from the opposition, in that light making his political activities a manual for understanding and approaching politics. His tactful navigation of a conflicted political terrain through sticking to procedural and institutional supremacy, especially, has earned the consistent support of the president, Muhammadu Buhari.
In that step, for the same and similar reasons, follows the support of Elder Statesmen like Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and that of sitting State Governors. The spread of APC’s influence and dominance has been much due to Oshiomhole’s painstaking leadership (although he always thanks the achievement on the collective hard work of all party stakeholders).
Coming to his current political designation at a moment where the the APC was in dire need for direction and victories, Adams Oshiomhole delivered both, bringing alongside his charisma, the severity of greatness, the increment of party men as defections from various sects saw the influx of resourceful men into the APC. This is because of just one thing, which as simple as it seems, is lacking in many parties: unity, a wholesome image, one body.
Adams Oshiomhole has always made clear that his ambition is to consolidate and unite the party, making sure that having come from the void, sending away the then incumbent but incompetent PDP out of power, that APC continues to increase in dominance and in being the hope of the common Nigerian man. Till this day the unity of the party, despite warring factions, remains the ambition of Adams Oshiomhole.
He has found a way to always rise to the occasion and above sentiments to deliver the goals and to sustain achievements of positive values. In the best interest of the APC and the Nigerian people, the hope is that he continues to do so.
Mayaki, an Oxford and Cambridge University-trained entrepreneurship, leadership and sustainability expert, resides in England.