Separate Politics From Governance, Kingsley Emu Admonishes Leaders


As Nigeria approaches the curve for handover of leadership at both the federal and state levels, leaders in government have been admonished to draw a line between politics and governance in the assemblage of their teams to enable them deliver effectively on envisioned goals.

The admonition was one of the vital points made by Dr Kingsley Emu, guest lecturer at the University of Ibadan Alumni Association Public and Valedictory Lecture held on Thursday in Asaba in honour of the outgoing Governor of Delta State, Sen Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and his wife, Dame Edith Okowa, both alumni of the university.

Speaking on “The Burden of Leadership”, Dr Emu pointed out that one of the most critical tasks is team building and it requires painstaking research, considerations and consultations with the goal in mind.

“The requirements for effective team building include academic qualification, experience and certain characteristics.” In this regard, the leader must “make hard and smart decisions about those who will contribute best to accomplishing the team goal. There should be no niceties in selection.”

“Selection into the top decision-making level should not be by allocation. (The leader must) hire right to deliver big, (the outcome of which) will better service the entire people and the political leaders.”

The implication, he said, is that when round pegs are not in round holes, the leader not only ends up with inefficient and ineffective governance but will also carry the burden alone or with just a few team members with capacity to handle responsibilities.

While recognising that political leaders are entitled to patronage and that the attempt to separate politics and governance can be herculean, he said part of the strategy is to sufficiently address the concerns and interests of the leaders and followers and have them recommend competent people.

Explaining that the most critical element of leadership is trust couched on reliability, competence and empathy, he advised that leaders should apply the three major styles of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership, depending on the nature of tasks and set goals.

While under transactional leadership the leader can hire professional hands or outsources to deliver specified objectives for determined rewards, or delegate assignments and wait for outcomes, he recommended that great leadership must inspire and motivate with clear vision, optimism, inclusion and productivity, and exercise individual considerations through mentorship, empathy, purpose and demonstration of strength and skill.

To sustain his influence, a leader, he said, must be a role model, good communicator, be patient with team members and also be humble enough to share perspectives with them.

The leader must “walk the talk, reflect values and beliefs on the job” and also be intellectually stimulating to promote innovation and creativity for the provision of solution to challenges and and achievement of goals.

These attributes, he noted, are adequately packed in the person of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa by which he achieved the “growth construction” that Delta State experienced in his now ending eight years of leadership.

Outlining the burdens of leadership to include the ability to check internal and external anxiety at challenging times and balance the expectations of the people; the burden of seeking truth through a cacophony of voices; the burden of deciphering hidden agenda with sometimes contradictory data and misleading information; the burden of decentralisation of power and delegation of responsibility; and most importantly, the burden of implementation, he said Okowa was able to effectively navigate his leadership by measured and appropriate actions and reactions in situations, actively listening to all voices and not shooting down messengers, accepting constructive criticisms, creating multiple feedback avenues, communicating his vision and direction, and the ability to manage both “yes men” and dissenters.

In his remark, Gov Okowa who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Patrick Ukah, revealed
that the burden of leadership is legion, but it starts from the inside.

“Bearing the burden of leadership starts from the self. It requires introspection. There must be self-conviction that you truly want to embark on leadership, the numerous challenges notwithstanding,” he pointed out.

Leaders, he said, to take decisions on daily and hourly basis and be ready to face the consequences of such decisions, good or bad.

“It involves facing challenges, which look almost impossible to deal with. This was my experience when I assumed office but, thank God for his grace, I was prepared to confront the daunting tasks, headlong.”

On team building, Okowa informed that the leader has to seek out persons whom he believes have faith in his vision.

“You also should be ready to provide transparent leadership traits by walking the thin line of honesty and sincerity of purpose” to inspire and motivate those put together to attain clearly set goals.

“While a good leader should have a clear vision, what is of utmost importance is developing and having the ability to translate it to reality. The outcome is what makes one a leader. (So) aim at having outcomes that ennoble you, that set you out from the crowd and make your followers proud.”

One of the greatest tasks before a leader, he said in his conclusion, is the ability “to create in his followers the conviction, sincerity, passion and will to carry on after he leaves.”

The event chaired by Prof Sam Oyovbare was graced by both the outgoing and incoming First Ladies of Delta, Dame Edith Okowa and Mrs Tobore Oborevwori, the President of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, Worldwide, Prof Saawua Nyityo and his executive committee members, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Chief Ovie Agas, Chairman of the Delta State Transition Committee, Prof Emmanual Nwanze, Head of the Delta State Jobs and Wealth Creation Office, Prof Eric Eboh, other eminent scholars, top government officials and dignitaries from various works of life.

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