Thoughts from The Future Project Symposium for Emerging Leaders

My generation does not require perfect leaders. I would not trust a perfect leader. Rather, I respect a leader who has publicly fallen and risen again.

The job of rebuilding Nigeria will be a collaborative one. We cannot do it alone. If we choose to tear each other down, who’ll be left to work with?

We need to get off our high horses to mend the broken fences that have led to distrust in our generation. We need to thrash out every issue and then move on. We need each other.

We need to stop subbing and directing articles, tweets and posts at each other. Let’s pick up the phone instead; meet; confront each other directly and have real conversations. And yes, we do owe each other explanations. The work of rebuilding Nigeria has no room for pride.

We will achieve very little divided. Being “at the grassroots” doesn’t make you any more relevant than the elite or intelligentsia. It’s not a competition. You are not more patriotic, more knowledgeable or more involved. We need to stop talking down to each other. We no longer have conversations; we have condescension. We behave as if we have a sovereign right to be listened to. Track record does not automatically translate into credibility or leadership. You have to earn it and convince people to follow.

We must learn from every side but not be seduced by unsavoury values. A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. Without knowledge of every side & a willingness to listen, our generation will remain ignorant indeed.

There is no prescribed level of knowledge that is required to be politically relevant. Someone may know who his/her Local Government Chairman is, another may have read the Constitution and so on. However, what we do have in common is the personal experience of having lived through Nigeria’s issues and challenges. Let’s bring it ALL to the table: knowledge and ignorance.

Before you criticise a leader, consider if you can do the volume of work they do or even do it better. Your past record will provide an inkling. Criticism is invaluable but we must move beyond talk. Our generation must show how things should be done.

Finally, hope is a powerful thing indeed. We may be dreamers but we’re not the ONLY ones.

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