In my conclusion to our recent book on Africa (Sustainable Development in Africa published by Africa World Press in 2005) I noted that for Africa to overcome the many challenges to its sustainable development, two important ingredients of sustainable development --"servant leadership" and "active citizenship"-- are imperative. Servant leadership, a concept first proposed by the late Robert K. Greenleaf, advocates that service ought to be the true mark of a good leader. Such a leader, said Greenleaf, is always checking to make sure that the people's highest priority needs are met; that those being led (served) grow as persons; and that they become wiser, freer, better, more self-reliant, and more likely to become servant leaders themselves.
Active citizenship entails full participation and leadership of the ordinary citizens in the design and implementation of policies, programs, and projects that affect them. Servant leadership and active citizenship tend to enhance and re-enforce each other. Leaders with selfish or dictatorial tendencies love to discourage or circumvent active citizenship just as a lack of citizen attention and involvement in public affairs would allow a handful of people to determine the destiny of all the people. Where both active citizenship and servant leadership are present, sustainable development is possible due to participatory program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation based on genuine concern for and involvement of the people. The reverse is also true. Where these essential ingredients are missing, development may remain attractive to the few who stand to benefit, but most stakeholders would find such efforts unappealing to the extent they perceive the benefit-cost ratio to be bad for them.
Both servant leaders and active citizens differ from other persons of good will because they act on what they believe. Africa needs servant leaders and active citizens working together at all levels and in a variety of settings to envision and realize a sustainable future that reflects the interests of all stakeholders. For Nigeria, and all those interested in supporting sustainable development in this country in particular and Africa in general, one such forum is the International Association of Nigerian Studies and Development (IANSD) especially it 17th annual conference of IANSD, which will hold from September 22-25, 2005, at Holiday Inn Crabtree Valley Mall, 4100 Glenwood Avenue. Raleigh, NC 27612 (+1-919-782-8600).
The theme of the conference is "Democracy and the Implications of Unresolved National Issues in Nigeria: 2007 and Beyond." Our goal is to deliberate on an array of crucial issues, which remain unresolved as Nigeria continues to seek a sustainable, fair and equitable democratic society. We want to take a 'timeless' or 'continuing' look at specific issues, their origins, dimensions, ramifications and possible solutions. We desire to examine, analyze, predict or extrapolate how Nigeria will be best served to capitalize on the opportunity provided by the 2007 national elections to boldly confront her many thorny unresolved national issues.
As Nigeria continues to grapple with the task of establishing a sustainable, fair and equitable democratic process, there are several fundamental issues that remain unresolved. These issues have far-reaching implications, and portend dire consequences, for the survival and sustenance of democracy in the world's largest Black nation. Any one interested in Africa is invited to join us as the 17th annual conference of IANSD, from September 22-25, 2005, at Holiday Inn Crabtree Valley Mall, 4100 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27612 and answer questions such as the following: What are some of these specific issues, their origins, dimensions, ramifications and possible solutions?
We welcome papers and panels that examine, analyze, predict or extrapolate how Nigerian will be best served to capitalize on the opportunity provided by the 2007 national elections to boldly confront her many thorny unresolved national issues, or face the consequences of avoiding the issues. For more information about the IANSD and or the conference visit us at www.conpo.org.
University of Minnesota