Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem writes on leadership:
Former President Clinton is one of the most famous faces around the world, recognisable to so many people who may not even be able to identify where the USA is on a magnified world Map. From the beginning the cards fate dealt the young Clinton never indicated that he could become
a global brand name. He was hardly born with any spoon in his mouth, let
alone wonder whether it was silver or wooden.
When he announced his intention to contest for the Presidency of the US in 1989/1990 many of his fellow Americans did not even know where he came from and much less whom he was. Yet he had been Governor of a small southern state called Arkansas, of which many Americans ask:
Arkan .what? This bewilderment was the reverse of what happened to a
previous Democratic President, Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia,
of whom it was asked: Jimmy Who?
Clinton's handicap was not just because of his relatively unknown and unprepossessing state he also did not come from a rich family therefore his surname did not ring any Bell like say a Kennedy or a Bush, Rockefeller or Ford.
In Arkansas itself Clinton comes from a place on Little Rock, called Hope. And what he had in abundance in addition to a natural charisma and personal confidence is great hope that he could achieve his ambition to be somebody including aspiring to be president of the most
powerful country in the world despite and in spite of all odds!
The one picture that Clinton , one of the most photographed human
beings alive must cherish most is one he took so many years
ago as a school kid. It was with probably the most revered US president, John
F Kennedy. As a school kid Clinton shook hands with the great Camelot himself
and what an inspiration and life changing experience that
encounter has been for Clinton. And by sheer determination, luck and
personality Clinton became president and probably only second to his idol on the
popularity stakes for many people. In spite of his many foibles and
misbehaviours he remains a hugely popular former President both inside and
outside of the US. His was a genuine triumph of hope over adversity. No wonder he
remains the Mr Feel good’ and loveable rogue beloved by so many people.
The Clinton / Kennedy encounter came to my mind as I ruminate over the last
AU summit in Nigeria's soulless federal capital city of Abuja at the end of
January. The government in a country where more money than sense’ is the official public spending policy spared no expenses. No expenses were spared
in making sure that the Executive tourists to the city
are suitably impressed by Africa's slumbering super power. As it is
customary on these occasions, head of state after head state who rose to
speak including the AU Commission Chairperson, the Secretary-General of
the UN, thanked the people and government of Nigeria..for their. generous
hospitality..bla bla bla’!
What was not in doubt was the presence of the government of Nigeria whose Security and intelligence and other operatives were crawling all over the International Conference Centre. However as for the people of Nigeria, well they were either watching on their televisions if the
National Electric Power Authority, NEPA (a.k.a Never Expect Power Always
by long suffering Nigerians) did them the honour of having electricity
supply, or they were at a different conference centre.
I was not sure if any of those leaders thanking the people’ bothered to look up at the huge public gallery of the Conference Centre as they spoke. That's where most of the people' would have been if they had been given access for the ceremonial’ but the place was largely
empty. One would have thought that even just for PR sake the Nigerian
government would have filled up the place with the countless number of security
people just walking around the place looking busy but really doing
nothing. If they did not want the people’ why could they not trust their under
employed security operatives and countless protocol staff on fashion parade?
Or why could they not have packed the place with schoolchildren from
the countless public and private schools in and around
Abuja. Imagine the impact on young kids of being in the public gallery and
seeing all these movers and shakers of Africa at work. Who knows how many little
Clintons that could inspire?
Then the answer came to me like a revelation. It is not just that many of
our leaders hate and have contempt for the people they rule they also do not want us to even have hope that tomorrow will be better or dream that we may have a future without them. Another reason could be the fact many of them can not even inspire their dogs or cats therefore
suffer from charisma bye pass. Thats why they do not want even little Boys
and Girls to dream like that poor boy from Arkansas that one day they
could be presidents. To the extent that some of them contemplate succession
they think of it only in monarchical terms and that even after they have
long passed their sell -by-date. This murdering of hope by deliberate
marginalisation of Young people and killing their aspirations and ambitions is
a far worse crime by some of the leaders than their misrule. It is like
someone slapping you and also denying you the right to cry or shed tears. So
whether they like it or not we must KEEP HOPE ALIVE’