Connect with us


Fola Daniel Adelesi: Failed Leadership



Following the recent events in Nigeria, I am compelled to write about failed leadership. This is not just about those in political offices but about all of us. It may seem glaring that those in the political offices have more direct responsibilities in what has brought us this far, but that does not leave us out. We are not left out because we are the electorate. The seed of our used or unused franchise is what has germinated this bitter harvest.

To start with, I am totally disappointed that more than a hundred people, as at the time of writing this piece, have died and it happened in probably one week. Unfortunately, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, went ahead with its planned centenary celebration, which in my opinion is just another waste of resources. To add insult to injury, General Sunni Abacha was also honoured during the celebration that took place in the same week that more than forty students died. First, you wonder what he was honoured for, and then you begin to think if the award should have continued in the first place.

When I heard that the President was going to address the nation and I heard the focus of the address, I was annoyed. I also listened to the presentation that lasted more than twenty minutes and the President did not spare up to a minute to talk about those students who died. Just for a few minutes I wondered what would have happened in some other countries if these kinds of killings were going on.

I know that the centenary celebration could have been cancelled or at least postponed just to honour the slain students. I also know that by now, in some sane countries, where the people value human life, the President himself would have visited the states of the incident rather than threatening to remove military force just to prove a point to a subordinate and score cheap political point. It resonates in my mind right now when I remember the words of Rev. Sam Adeyemi who keeps saying that we do not value human life in this country.

We all are involved in this in one way or the other. The failed leadership that we are seeing at the top is, ultimately a representation of failed processes. It is the processes that we are a part of on daily basis. No leader emerges in one day and in isolation from the society. While this, what we are getting now, may not be what we have bargained for, it is still a product of some decisions that we have taken some years back.

It still remains a mystery why a country can be so rich and the people are going through hardship on daily basis. If twenty billion is missing from the nation’s account, then I can figure that this nation can confidently pay a million Naira to its over one hundred and sixty million citizens without feeling it! While I don’t expect the government to do that, I think that it is failed leadership that is making us go on like it. We all are not leading right! And now I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we want to spend seven billion naira just to talk in what we call national conference! A real leader does not need to spend too much time talking! Some people say it is corruption but I see clearly that this is more than corruption. When a leader does not have a clear vision he can’t take the people anywhere even if he is not corrupt. It is worse when a leader is corrupt but the absence of corruption does not automatically make things right.

Just before you exempt yourself, think about the things around you and the things you have also done. Think about how you intimidate the teachers of your children or how you tempt them to get things done for your children. Think about how your treat your maids so much so that your children think that they really can’t amount to much and ought to be treated as trash. How are you even leading in your place of work as a leader? I have seen employers who should be called slave masters because of the styles they engage in their offices. Yet, the same people never got these kinds of treatments when they were employees! This is not just what is happening at the top. What is happening at the top is glaring but there are worse things that individuals are doing that nobody talks about.

One immediate solution I can proffer is that we also should go back to learn, study, observe and even enroll in classes to know more about what true leadership is. We should study the lives of great leaders around the world in order to follow their footsteps and not just quote the things they are saying. When I read about Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, I wonder when such leaders will ever become a reality in our country! Is this a mirage? No it is not. It can be real if only you and I take up the responsibility and evolve into real leadership. Even our founding fathers like Awolowo and Azikwe gave great examples that we have suddenly abandoned.

Most of us know what is right and we really do not have to be taught like kids any more but we just refuse to do those things. Start with yourself and ask if you really have a heart for the people. Ask yourself how you have been treating those you have to handle. Have you been perfect with other people? I don’t expect you to be perfect but when you understand leadership, you will then see that it is about influencing people positively. And to influence people positively, you must have won their hearts. You also cannot win people’s hearts if you do not have their interest at heart.

While some people have been advocating taking to the streets for the ongoing sad events in the country, I make bold to say it may never fix the problem but there is a long term solution that lies with all of us. In a couple of months, most of the political leaders will start running to the different states and trying to convince – why did I use that word? – buy over most of us. Most of them don’t convince and have no such skills to do so. The onus lies on us to be wise enough and think if we want to go into this mess for another four years or we want to be out of this. If we forget the mess we are in and don’t take the right decisions again, then we are the ones sustaining the failed leadership.

Let us remember that our apathy cannot get us what we want. Our participation may not seem to amount to much but it can definitely change something. Keep quiet is one way we have also been a part of the failed leadership. More importantly I have already suggested that we should get trained in the art of real and true leadership in order to get involved and change things.

While this is not about telling anyone what to do, it is important for all of us to think and to see what we must do. So I would like to hear from you all. What should we do to move out of this failed leadership which is not just about the political space but the work place and personal leadership as well?

Photo Credit:
Fola Daniel Adelesi is a professional public speaker who also trains other speakers. He is an author, business consultant and highly skilled master of ceremony with excellent poise and diction. He was on the Debaters TV reality show season 1, presented ‘You Can’ on Radio Continental in 2011, did motivational segments on Galaxy TV from Dec 2008 to August 2009 and has authored 3 books including Writing Business Proposals.

Fola Daniel Adelesi (also Fola Daniel Speaks) is a Professional Public Speaker, Learning & Development Expert, Communications Professional, and an author of more than 13 books. He's a highly engaging training facilitator who holds his audience spellbound when speaking at gatherings. Apart from his several platforms which include banks, insurance companies, and religious organizations, he has been part of some national television shows and he spoke so intelligently. Some of his published books include: - Get Up and Hit That Goal - Basic Skills for Outstanding Leadership - Breaking Grounds Despite Backgrounds - Writing Business Proposals - Indebted to Ignorance He's also a highly skilled master of ceremony with excellent poise and diction who is endeared to many corporate clients. He was on the Debaters TV reality show Season 1, he presented 'You Can' on Radio Continental in 2011 and he did motivational segments on Galaxy Television from Dec. 2008 to August 2009. He currently features consistently on Channels Television and Television Continental, two of the leading TV stations in Nigeria to discuss national and youth issues. He keeps a vlog at and his books are available on or


  1. oddy

    March 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Well said……..

  2. NIRA

    March 6, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Good one, we are so quick to criticise our leaders whereas we are doing the same thing, if not worse, just in smaller proportion. The change has to come from us; the day we collect their money and not vote for them or act as their thugs, then we can say we are better than them. Very well-said, Fola!!

  3. Lamie

    March 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Great piece Fola…well said

  4. Uche Anajemba

    March 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    For the change we want starts from each of us, in our little corner or sphere of influence. Saying no to indiscipline, corruption, inflation of figures for the quick buck, maltreating those less privileged than us, disloyalty to our employers, cheating our business partners, jumping queues by bribing officials because we are too big to wait our turn, paying a peanuts to our employees, yet we dare to complain about our leaders.
    I believe that if we can find one good person in every LGA in Nigeria who can run for one political office or the other and we continue this cycle, in the years to come we will start to see real democracy. All of us as citizens who don’t have the conviction to go forward will put all resources together ( time, money, campaign efforts, ideas) to push these people onto the platforms for leadership and then we can truly hold them accountable. We should read our constitution and know our rights as Nigerians and how to remove bad leaders elected or rigged into public office. Instead we build our own little bubble as a shield from the state of our nation. Instead of just praying, we should give God a vessel to fill by our actions for faith without works is dead.
    Social media activism is the wrong strategy for Nigeria instead should be used as a way to engage and develop strategies that becomes the blue print for how we will take back our land. When other countries shut their borders to us, where will our children then escape to? We must therefore build this land again. Thank you Fola for this article.

  5. TheresaO

    March 6, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Totally agree, thanks Fola! Another way we can get out of this mess, is to call a spade a spade. We often justify the behaviour of a tyrant often because he/she is of the same religion or from the same geo-political region. Until we change, we will continue to suffer.

  6. Nuela

    March 6, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Nice piece Fola.

  7. Dr. N

    March 6, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I am pained to say that we are all involved. Yes, they were not voted but elected into power, but we celebrated them. Let’s go back to the days of naming and shaming like Dora Akunyili once suggested. A thief should not have a reception organized by his community, just because he has a political office. In fact, his people should write a strongly worded letter, asking that he should not represent them. Let’s stop looking the other way. The child we assist to cheat in WAEC today, is the one who will be unable to read a speech written for her tomorrow, when she is in public office. Evil is evil, no matter how well packaged. Fola, chop knuckle.

  8. Dr. N

    March 6, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Sorry that should be “rigged into power”

  9. Wale

    March 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Maybe we should start by blacklisting children of the pilfering elites and stop recognizing them and celebrating them. When idiots like Abacha children wed and throw outlandish parties we should completely ignore them online then maybe they will gradually begin to get the message- that certain behaviors are not tolerated. When First Ladies where huge diamonds in broad day light in a country where 90% of the population live in abject poverty we should shame them and spit on them. When senators children are drag racing ferraris in abuja and destroying public roads and killing innocent bystanders we should march to the senate and demand justice. I can go on, but we all have a responsibility. We can psychological change the mind set of the public. When we continue to assert that the money belongs to us the people and administrators in the government actually work for us, then maybe people we begin to realize their rights and are emboldened.

  10. Fola Daniel Adelesi

    March 6, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I know this topic appears a bit serious. I have carefully read the feedback, including the long ones, thank you all and let’s take the necessary actions for change. I will, from to time, bring up thoughts like this to stir our minds.

  11. Bayo Adaramola

    March 28, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Thanks Fola, Yes we are all responsible for the failed leadership issue. It is not just enough to wait to be convinced or bought by the fraudulent politicians, but given all the candidates in the race are rogues, we are left with option to select a lesser rogue and the vicious cycle continues. Beyond the talking, it is time to step out onto the political space to provide alternative options to the rogues!

  12. BubblyBliss

    May 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Mbok the name is Sani Abacha not Sunni Abacha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tangerine Africa

Star Features