African Leaders Should Borrow a leaf from David Cameron

By Dr. David Oginde,

Let’s admit it. We are miles apart, not just by distance but especially so on matters that matter. By stepping down as British Prime Minister, David Cameron has shown what true servant leadership is all about- a leadership that acknowledges that whatever position we hold, it is first and foremost granted by the people and for the people. Thus, when the people speak otherwise than we believe-no matter how wrong they might be-then our continuance in that leadership role becomes seriously untenable. The wise thing is to step down and let the people determine their own destiny.

The nation of Israel, as conceived and constituted by God, was a theocracy under the headship of Jehovah their God. He oversaw their welfare and affairs through the agency of priests, prophets, and judges. He was also their commander of the armed forces and duly fought their battles ever so victoriously. But, several years after God delivered them from their slavery in Egypt and settled them in the Promised Land, the people of Israel began to be uneasy with this arrangement. They admired the human kings of nations around them. Thus they approached Samuel, who was their prophet and judge at the time, and demanded of him to give them a king like other nations. Samuel was aghast! He could not believe how his people could even imagine such a thing. But God spoke to Samuel and reassured and instructed him, “Go ahead and do what they’re asking. They are not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their King. So let them have their own way.” And with those words, the will of the people prevailed. God stepped down from being their King, and Saul was appointed as the first human king of Israel. The rest is history.

As I have watched the goings on in the nations of this continent, it vexes the heart that we are so bereft of this godly attitude. Lives are being lost in Burundi. Uganda is amending its constitution to extend the presidential term. Zimbabwe has an eternal president. And South Sudan is bleeding. Africa has buried, nay, lost many of its precious sons and daughters in numerous wars that are completely unnecessary, if only the leaders were more alive to the aspirations of their people.

In our own nation, the country is almost at standstill because of the IEBS question. After weeks of street protests that resulted in the deaths of several Kenyans and destruction of properly, a parliamentary select committee is now at work collecting the views of Kenyans on how to reform the electoral system.

But, at the core of this exercise is whether or not the commissioners should be removed or retained. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on Administration and justice has also been grilling the commissioners on alleged corrupt practices. Eventually, a lot of time and money is going to be spent on processes whose outcomes are easily predictable. These are mere shenanigans that we should never have engaged in if only we demonstrated dignified leadership.

Whereas IEBC has maintained studious innocence in all accusations brought upon them, and whereas this is their legal and constitutional right, yet one wonders what would have happened if they had taken the path of Cameron early in the day. Where would we be today if, as soon as it appeared that the people had lost faith in them- whether rightly or wrongly- they opted to step down so that a new team is put in place? They would most likely, like Cameron, gone out with their heads up high having demonstrated a rare breed of leadership.Servant_Leadership_Empathy.jpg

But, it does appear that such things only happen in other continents and not in Africa. Here the will of the leader supersedes that of everybody else. Once granted a leadership position, we rule our people whether they like it or not. This is often true in the smallest chama, as it is in the largest corporate. Many of our leaders will simply not heed the voice of the people. Thus we marvel at the likes of David Cameron, and wonder why a man would step down from such a prestigious position for such a little thing as losing the Brexit vote! Yet, this is the godly thing to do. It speaks neither of weakness nor of guilt, but demonstrates the dignity of leadership.


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