Africa needs servant–leaders to reverse the slide of the continent, says FUTA don

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A University don has bemoaned the leadership style of those holding the levers of political power in Africa and particularly Nigeria, saying it is faulty, questionable and against the principle of servant leadership.

Rev. Fr. Michael Adedeji a Professor of Cultural Philosophy and Clinical Pastoral Education at the Department of General Studies, Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA made this disclosure while delivering his valedictory lecture with the title: Leadership is Stewardship” at the main auditorium of the University.

He said African leaders’ dishonesty and ineptitude could be located in the areas of monetary mismanagement, fraud, and mismanagement of common or national resources, stealing, misappropriation of funds and the likes. Adedeji said it has become common knowledge that fraudulent practices among the leaders of Africa have become major factors responsible for lack of development in African states. He said African leaders serve themselves rather than the people.

Professor Adedeji emphasized the need for stewardship in leading and said “at its most basic level, stewardship is acting upon the understanding that leadership is a temporary role which is outlasted by the life span of an organization. A steward leader is to promote the wellbeing of individuals in his group while the working environment should be comfortable and enhance happiness of all.”

He encouraged African leaders to rise to their responsibilities by seeing leadership as stewardship. He said “it is high time African leaders became steward of the people and use their leadership for the growth of African people and at the same time for progressive development of African nations.”

Adedeji, a Fellow of Strategic Institute for Natural Resources and Human Development (FRHD) gave a list of attributes of steward-leadership to include: accessibility, persuasion, delegation, strength, healing, influence, fairness, change, growth, praise, empowerment, assertiveness, conceptualization, consistency and authenticity.

He urged all leaders to be humble, gentle, simple, truthful, honest, sincere, trustworthy, obedient and accountable. Professor Adedeji also said anyone who is to be given the position of leadership should have his/her family in good standing in the community.

He said “a money-monger, a womanizer, a merciless and heartless person who has no consideration for others is not fit for steward-leadership”. He particularly appealed to Nigerian politicians to see leadership as a gift and call to serve. “Political leadership is not ‘do or die’ as many Nigerian leaders think. Rather, it is meant for national survival. Whoever has the notion of leadership as something to be achieved with the spirit of do or die should not be appointed or elected” he added.

Adedeji further said leadership demands the courage to initiate cultural evolution that will register a progressive change. “Leadership is the ability to inspire people to make a change for better ways of life. It is an art or process by which an individual skillfully mobilizes people to work towards a common vision with enthusiasm and aspirations. Leadership is the ability to translate and interpret a common vision into reality” the Reverend father said.

Highlighting skills of a leader he said “leadership entails the will power, knowledge and effort to persuade followers by personal example to achieve a common goal. Leadership is the capacity to bring into being new reality by sparking a community into peaceful unity and freely willed action.” Professor Adedeji while welling on God’s purpose for human creation, said leadership is not about popularity or prominence, but rather about purpose, significance and integrity of service, service for the greater glory of God and for the common good of humanity.

The Chairman at the occasion and Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic, Professor Deji Ogunsemi congratulated Professor Adedeji and described him as an erudite scholar who has made significant contributions to the body of knowledge in his chosen area of study and research.

He said the don has served meritoriously in many administrative capacities in the university either as Chairman or member of School and University committees.

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