As we look to hire a new President to sweep off the horrendously incompetent Goodluck Jonathan, we need to consider the prescription of Warren Buffet, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Hathaway. He said, “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”
The choice of General Muhammadu Buhari as the Presidential candidate for the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) is the triumph of integrity and character. Buhari is a man that is consistent in what he says and what he does. He is totally aligned with his values, beliefs, words and actions. Buhari embodies good moral character, even his avowed enemies attest to his honesty, trustworthiness and fairness. His victory at the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries is the people’s victory. Perhaps our traducers are finally convinced that we need a saviour. Perhaps they know they must atone for their sins and get absolution if this country must continue to exist. Who knows?
Leading with integrity is one of the great challenges of leadership. As a consequence, leading by example is walking the talk. Unfortunately, it is the point at which most Nigerians are found wanting. The social media went agog for Buhari all through the convention. All over the world, Nigerians kept vigil, wanting to know the outcome. Young people, who are notoriously apathetic, pined for Buhari to win. The feeling was fever pitched. It was euphoric!
The momentum since then hasn’t let out. This is because Buhari inspires to know, to do, and to be. The man Buhari, through his antecedents, is a leader whose qualities are rooted in his values and beliefs. What are his values? Love him or hate him, his values are seen in his attitude about worth. What does he consider important, worthy, or of value? While his peers revel in stolen wealth, fat foreign and local bank accounts, mansions in choice real estate markets around the world, we know Buhari had no such things. What are his beliefs? General Buhari has his beliefs rooted in his religion and his convictions in humanitarianism.
Even his harshest critics attest to his ethics and character. General Buhari is ethical, his conduct in any given situation is consistent with his values and beliefs. His character is impeachable and a summation of his conduct, values, and beliefs. These qualities, coupled with his military training and experience in various capacities working for Nigeria is a testament to his knowledge and skills in leadership. No one can be a leader without authority. Buhari is a leader with tremendous authority. His authority stems from the people’s belief that he will do right by his followers. He is the only Nigerian with millions of fanatical followers who believes; he alone can save Nigeria.
In his various capacities as a public servant, General Buhari presented a thorough blend of servant and custodial leadership. He was a good caretaker, guardian, keeper and protector of our funds and our trust at the time. He governed with integrity and was cognizant of his choice of service over self-interest. How did he do it?
He sought the best for Nigerians. He ignored self-interest and personal gain, and reached out to do the best. He was a good steward. As the leader of the Petroleum Trust Fund, he worked to guard the resources available to the fund. Not only that, he spent funds wisely, used the best contractors available and utilized the talents of his staff by developing them. Despite being out of power, he has never forgotten the ordinary Nigerian. Since 2003, He has been looking for ways to lead, to take responsibility, and to do a better job as a leader.
Dwight D. Eisenhower it was who said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” Nigeria is a country where integrity does not matter much, where integrity is not talked about nearly enough. It is a country where the end justifies the means. We live in a country where a lost purse bulging with cash found by a stranger is considered an answered prayer. Where market women sell food items using measures that has been beaten in to reduce quantity. A place where merchants bring in substandard products and adulterated drugs not minding the consequences. A country where students pay to get grades. Teachers devote more time to after school extra lessons for which they charge than teaching during school hours for which they are paid. Applicants engineer their resumes because they desperately need a job. Companies overstate their earnings because they want to maintain their share price and look good to shareholders and the board of directors. The list is endless. In each case, every dishonest person convinces himself that the end result justifies their lack of integrity.
In life, the problem is: When you lie down with dogs you get fleas. Our life mirrors the lives of the people we surround ourselves with. If we surround ourselves with people who are dishonest and willing to cut corners to get ahead, sooner rather than later, we will find ourselves following a pattern of first enduring their behaviour, then accepting their behaviour, and finally adopting their behaviour. Such is our situation in Nigeria. Maybe it is time for this country to be cleansed. Maybe God has answered the prayers of prayer warriors.
With Buhari as a stark choice against drift, terrorism, kleptomania, mediocrity, corruption, impunity and all that ails this great land. Maybe, we can finally take our place in greatness. I salute the delegates for voting our conscience. I thank them for voting integrity and character over money.
I leave you this week with the immortal words of Harry S. Truman – “A person who is fundamentally honest doesn’t need a code of ethics. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount are all the ethical code anybody needs.”
Bamidele maintains a weekly column on Politics and Socioeconomic issues every Tuesday. She is a member of Premium Times Editorial Board.