By Isaac Asabor
Diane Gordon, a former kindergarten teacher highlighted how vulnerable children are to the influence of the environment when she said, “Children are born ready to learn. During the pre-school years a child’s brain is twice as active as an adult’s, with trillions of corrections between brain cells being made. And it is the child’s relationships and experiences during the early years that greatly influence how the brain develops.” There is no denying the fact that Gordon’s postulation is replicated in various psychology textbooks and research papers. Similar findings in psychology say “Babies begin to take in sensory experiences from the world around them from the moment of birth, and the environment will continue to exert a powerful influence on behavior throughout life.” Also, psychology as a discipline says “Genetic can have a powerful influence on development, but experiences are equally important.” “For example, while the genetic code contains the information on how a child’s brain may be pre-wired, it is learning and experience that will literarily shape how that child’s brain grows and develops.”
Against the backdrop of the foregoing psychological findings, it is expedient to ask, “What experiences are our children, who are invariably our future leaders, gaining from the contemporary socio-economic and political milieus?”
Believe it or not, the somewhat peccadilloes or inanities which some political leaders daily exhibit would to a large extent influence the leadership styles of our future leaders if moral restraint is not collectively adopted by our present crop of political leaders, and also find the best way out from the seeming rot. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched as youths and children learn more from what they see than from what they are told.
You may have thoughtfully asked, “What are our future leaders learning or experiencing from the present leaders.” It is not an exaggeration to say that our leaders of tomorrow, who are mostly youths and children, are learning nothing from some today’s leaders (politicians) other than the dishonorable acts of corruption, insincerity towards governance and abject levity.
No doubt, the leaders of tomorrow are supposed to be under the vicarious mentorship of the present crop of political leaders. Regrettably, as it is today, most of our politicians, who are variously occupying political offices are not collectively exhibiting enviable political lifestyle for the youths to emulate. It therefore stands to reason that if the youths and children of today replicate the prevailing political oddities, peccadilloes and inanities that our nation would in the future be subjected to another era of plundering. The question once again is, “What political experiences are our future leaders gaining from the present crop of political leaders?” Without any sense of equivocation, enviable examples are not being set for the youths to emulate.
There is no denying the fact that the tone of distrust that is inherent in this piece may sound disagreeable to some readers. But the truth remains that there is no way any future leader can be encouraged to imbibe the corruptible habits of some of our leaders who somewhat think that being in any political position is an opportunity to steal. The reason is that such corrupt tendency would be diametrically opposed to the future of our dear country, particularly now that huge external debts are been left for them to inherit.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is not a misnomer to say in this context that the essence of politics is already been misunderstood by some future leaders. Though Politics as a discipline simply means “The branch of knowledge that deals with the state and systems of government; the scientific analysis of political activity and behavior”.
Despite its self-explanatory meaning, ask any of our future leaders that seeks admission to the university why he or she wants to study Political Science in the university. You may likely be given the answer that having an academic background in politics puts one on a better pedestal to become a politician as that is where the money is. Will you fault his answer? Never, as present political leaders are impressing it on all of us that partisan politics pays.
In fact, no youth or future leader in the world today has been flagrantly denied the benefit of good governance than the Nigerian youth. Since the country gained independence in 1960, it is arguable that there has never been an extensive period of exemplary good governance, particularly at the federal level. It is like since the attainment of Independence in 1960 that the country is wont to seemingly go deeper and deeper into the pit of maladministration by each passing administration. The situation is that once an administration takes over the rein of power; the key players in such administration would in their glaring sense of insincerity condemn the immediate past government, and in some cases condemn other past governments, but would go ahead and become worse than the same past governments they condemned. This has been the trend since 1960. Simply put, our children (our future leaders) have not been given the opportunity to witness good governance in action. What leaders call good governance today is nothing but a misnomer. In my view, good governance should encompass the development of the people but not just the development of roads, gutters, street lights and what have you. In fact, leadership should aimed at building strong public institutions as well as building and developing the people in order for them to have the capacity of facing life challenges. Simply put, leaders at all levels should provide platforms for the development of the people. This can be done through the provision of both formal and informal education and the creation of gainful employments.
Before the emergence of Donald Trump as American president, American election was seemingly seen to have been working perfectly in the country. Even with the recently concluded election in America, many still hold the view that its political system is automated. If truly it is automated, as widely believed, then it goes to say that the process started years back. Today, the Republican and Democratic parties in America are not short of good leaders. Within the parties, future leaders are identified before they are unveiled to the world. Given this view, it is expedient for our leaders to begin to exhibit good leadership examples that would nurture credible leaders in the future. A leader that is busy stealing monies and laundering away from the country has nothing to offer to the youths of today. Any leader that loses an election and resorts to violence to address his perceived injustice has nothing to offer the “leaders of tomorrow.” A leader that is an “expert” in stealing fuel subsidy money has nothing to offer the youths that are the “leaders of tomorrow.” In my view, our leaders should begin to see leadership as a flawless continuum. They should literarily be seeing leadership as wine. Wine gains more appeal as it gets older. The leadership style that prevails across the country today is not what anyone should encourage our future leaders to begin to emulate. There is nothing to emulate in the leadership style. It is fraught with corruption and dishonesty.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Affairs Analyst.