By ‘Femi Asu
EMINENT Nigerians including erstwhile presidential aspirant, Professor Pat Utomi; Mrs. Ibukun Awosika and Pastor Ituah Ighodalo at the maiden Methodist Church of The Trinity, MCTT, Leadership Conference for Christian Youths in Business and Public Life have urged Nigerian youths to set forth at dawn with new values and rise to the challenge of leadership.
The programme, which took place at the auditorium of the Methodist Church of The Trinity, Tinubu, Lagos last Saturday focused on ‘The Building Blocks of Effective Leadership.’
Speaking on ‘Leading from Where You Are”, Mrs. Awosika said: “If we cannot get the next generation thinking and acting right, we can’t change our country…Every opportunity we have, however small it is, in the place of accountability, we can effectively positively affect the environment where we operate.”
She told the participants: “You don’t have to be the president, governor, CEO of a bank, etc to be responsible where you are. The question is ‘who are you?’ How effectively have you chosen to be accountable where you are now.”
She said there are many dishonorable men that are called “honourable” in our country. Title, she added, is not what leadership is made of. “It is the manifestation of the impact and change you can make where you are. If you can influence two people, that influence will go on.
“The opportunity for leadership will always emerge. You have an opportunity to manifest as a leader, although it comes with a responsibility. And every opportunity also presents an opportunity.
“In becoming leaders of our nation, we must lead ourselves first,” she said, adding that virtues and values are very critical in self-leadership.
“Every choice you make today will affect your opportunity tomorrow. Your lack of self-leadership and self-discipline will take you away from opportunity of the future. Self-leadership is the most important thing; you need to learn to discipline yourself.
“Leadership is not about what people think you are; it is about what you think you are. In your pursuit of leadership, you must never lie to yourself. If you are true to yourself, you will be true to others.”
She urged the participants to learn to recognise the value in everyone around them. “The biggest asset that you have is human beings and respecting them for who they are is critical to your leadership development. No one is useless. Never measure people’s value by what they have; look at their inherent value. The people you know today, you don’t know where they’ll get to tomorrow. There are no nobodies in this world
“Keeping your heart humble is a very important part of leadership. Everybody around you has a great value that they can add to you. The solution you seek can be with anyone. Respecting each person where they are is critical to our manifestation. In building up yourself as a leader, you must be a person who can relate with people conveniently.”
She urged youths not to shy away from leadership, saying “Leadership opportunities abound around you – in your schools, office, place of worship…don’t wait to be elected; there are things that you are capable of doing to bring about development. There is always reward for doing what you know how to do and doing it well.”
Speaking about character, Awosika said the best leaders can be destroyed by character flaws. “Commit to a life of good character, of doing that which is right to all men, big or small…When you are standing right, you will have the courage to challenge situation.’
“Leadership will cost you, but every price that you pay to do the right thing will eventually pay off. It is not about what you choose to do today; it is about what you choose to do overtime.
“Leadership is not about you; it is about the things you hold dear, the values that drive your everyday actions whether someone is there or not.”
On his part, Prof Pat Utomi spoke on “Empowering Youth Leadership in Combating Corruption: Towards Creating a Network of Corruption Intolerant Youth Leaders”. He said: “One of the challenges we have is the challenge of how to keep our conscience fresh.”
“I always say that corruption kills; it is not a joke, literally, corruption kills. Corruption should be understood as something that does grievous harm to the common good of all. Every corrupt act takes away some possibility from your future.”
“Put simply, corruption is an unjust obtaining of advantage for a price. Corruption makes production or the outcome of production less certain. It creates uncertainty in the environment…We have become notorious as a country and it has cost us dearly.
“At the heart of what has crippled the potential of our country is corruption. It is killing us. Our country is severely challenged. It is a disease, a cancer that is eating away the possibilities of progress in our country.
“The youths are great agent of change…the youth don’t have the burden of yesterday. They are not hostages to the errors of yesterday. He challenged the youth to “set forth at dawn with new values.”
Prof. Utomi highlighted some of the drivers of corruption in Nigeria: “The culture of instant gratification, the image of the big man, the loss of the sense of contentment and celebrating the wrong things by the media.”
He urged Nigerian youths to learn to hold leaders accountable by using the Freedom of Information law. If we learn to speak up against people who are not doing well, tomorrow will be that of our dream. There is hope for Nigeria.”
Pastor Ighodalo in his address titled ‘Faith, Ethics and Values in Business and Public Leadership” said Nigeria is one of the best countries in the world. “There is a lot of hope for Nigeria and the instrument of hope are the people looking at me right now. Nigeria is really good to be great because you are going to make it great.
“We have lost an essential ingredient in this nation – leadership. A leader determines the direction of an organisation.
Said he: “The greed quotient, the desire for affluence, the desire for money, the desire for power is so overwhelming that it blinds the eyes of people to common good.”
He defined values as “broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of actions or outcomes. We don’t have the right sense of values. The amount of rot and decay is so deep.”
A leader, he said, must be a visionary, have the ability to communicate the vision, a team player, wiling to serve and add value, passionate, hardworking, determined to succeed and trustworthy.
“One of the challenges we have in Nigeria is that most of our leaders want to be served and not to serve. They must be willing to serve to make life better for us.”
He warned the participants, saying: “If you compromise your values, it will eventually lead to systemic failure. One of the things I want to disabuse your minds of is about material things. Material things are not real things; they are figment of the imagination and apparitions of the mind. What you are going to leave behind is what you have done, not what you have.
He said the values that make for good and sustainable leadership are “truth, honesty, integrity, objectivity, fairness, competence, confidentiality, trustworthiness, humility and approachability.”
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