May be I am wrong but I think understanding and having effective communication is the hardest bit of being a Leader. Most leaders are basically out of touch and have no sense of reality. To communicate effectively requires a lot of care and a lot of patience. The first part is to understand that however good one might be, there those who will always disagree with what he or she is doing. Among those who disagree some will express it politely while others would be nasty. The trick is to be open to what is being said whether negative or positive. Getting to understand and then coming up with right response is the hallmark of good communication.
In Africa in particular majority of leaders fear being criticized. Others don’t like being challenged, at all. They do all they can to avoid a situation where they are put on the spot. Be it by the citizens, or by the opposition or by the civil society. It is very rare to see African leader sitting down for an interview with local journalists. They definitely don’t invite questions in their press conferences. In fact most of them are statements issued by the President’s mouth piece. That is why i been intrigued by the new Facebooking Nigeria President Jonathan Goodluck. The Oooga man rules through Facebook, he involved in complex discussions with young Nigerians through Facebook. As per the time of writing this post his Facebbok account had 154,428 Fans.. Thousands of Nigerians comment on his Facebook status updates. He reads them all and respond to questions. Here is example of his response:
Goodluck Jonathan : I read your comments and questions, and I want to address the question raised by Imade Ayanru who asked how the government plans to revive the Textile Industry. Well Imade, I have often said that government has no business being in business. It is a misnomer and that is why all over the world Private enterprise tend to… do better than government run enterprises. It is however the business of government to provide the enabling environment for business to thrive. As such, you may have read in the media that government has come up with creative ways via legislation and funding to stimulate several sectors of the economy. With the textile industry specifically, we consulted with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Textile Workers Union on what they wanted government to do to revive that industry. They were unanimous that their major problem was funding. This administration as a result made 30 billion Naira exclusively available to the textile industry as bail out funds and as you read these words these funds are already being disbursed by The Bank of Industry directly to the end users. I am aware from studies that this industry has the capacity to employ 1% of Nigeria’s workforce and reviving it will have a major impact on reducing unemployment. In Kaduna state for instance this industry at it’s prime employed more people than the State Government. As such, over and beyond these bail out funds, we set up a Presidential Committee on the Rejuvenation of this industry. This committee will soon submit it’s report which will guide government to take further informed steps to facilitate recovery in that industry. In summary Imade, the task of putting Nigerians to work is one that I take seriously because to fix Nigeria and have prosperity we need to have peace and to have peace, we need to reduce societal ills like robbery, kidnapping, ethnic/religious clashes and militancy and to reduce these ills we need to occupy people with jobs that pay living wages and to do that we need to revive our economy. So as I have said before, everything is connected to everything which is why this administration is beginning with the end in mind. GEJ
Social Media is unregulated wild field where people say whatever is in their minds. But it is the right place to meet young people. The people who want to be listened to and they want to be heard. People channel their emotions, thoughts, frustrations, ideas, experiences through the social media. So far Mr.Goodluck is doing a great job in interacting with Nigerians through Facebook. There is one catch though, the president is still very popular in Nigeria and most comments coming up are very positive and constructive. Definitely he is the first but does this mark the beginning of African Leadership 2.0?
For young people social media is a way of life which comes naturally. For older generation it is a totally different ball game. They have to adopt principles of social thinking. It means one have to accommodate everything, some are stupid, some are nasty, some are mean, some are great and some are very bright. Despite all these, the youths are future of the human generation. In Africa for example they are the majority and getting a way to interact with them is very important. It should not just be interaction, they should be incorporated in the Government at every level. And i am not talking about hand picking one or two young people and giving them the posts of …bla bla blah Youth Affairs. A country which needs someone to be in charge of Youth Affairs or Women Affairs is lacking basic harmony. The integration of these groups should be smooth and seamless
In Kenya for example we have seen where a few young people are hand picked by political elites and given the role of representing young people. Young people should be part and parcel of the leadership and not just being represented. Further more those who are hand picked by the politicians usually tend to think like their paymasters.
Back to Mr. Goodluck, I really wonder if he will be able to maintain his active role on Facebook once his popularity starts to wane? How will he react to people telling him to resign?
Those are tricky questions to answer now, more so if you look at some of the leaders who came before him. The ones who at one point were being mentioned as the saviours of Africa. Museveni at one point. The same movie is being played by Rwandese President Paul Kagame. Mr.Kagame has done a great job in Rwanda, turning around the fortunes of the tiny landlocked country to emerging African economic powerhouse. That in mind we all expect him to win the forth coming General Election easily. But it is amazing that a man that can easily win African Presidency if Africa was a country can’t tolerate being challenged by the opposition. There those who believed that there is a long history of murders and disappearances of political opponents in Rwanda. Devil dressed on angel white clothes is still a devil but at the moment it seems international community is silent on what is happening in Rwanda. At every point there is African leader who is popularly referred as the darling of the West and for now he happen to Kagame. Be warned. Remember Mugabe was once the same!!!!!!