A LECTURE DELIVERED ON THE 7TH DAY OF NOVEMBER 2020 AT THE HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA 2020 ANNUAL GENERAL LECTURE BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON
CHALLENGES OF LEADERSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY NIGERIA
- When HURIWA President requested that I deliver this lecture, I took my time to review it. However, I became excited when I was told that my audience will be the Human Right Community in Abuja and other young people, who will be predominantly students, who are leaders of tomorrow. I couldn’t have chosen to be anywhere else now than here, so it is an honor to be here with you. Some of you may be smarter and more in tune with current social and economic trends in the world today, so I also hope to learn from you.
This presentation covers areas of my specialty, being that my special area of interest in Law, (which was the focus of my Masters of Law degree) is Human Right and Humanitarian Law.
I was a little reluctant on the topic of the lecture because the topic sounded more political than professional; but again, my passion for the future of humanity overshadowed my concern. I must say that I am delighted to share my thoughts with you today on this all-important topic which is “Challenges of Leadership In 21 Century Nigeria”
The critical components of this topic are:
- The 21st century
- The challenges of leadership
- Nigeria: realities and imperatives
The focus of this paper, is to examine the dynamics of human advancement in the 21st century and to elucidate the type of leaders that can successfully lead their people to progress in political, social and economic stability in the century.
I shall endeavor to start my discussion on the implications of the 21st century to the world, then give you a picture of the emerging scenarios of the Century and my perspective on how it might affect Nigeria as the Century winds down. These unique and dynamic scenarios form the challenges and prospects the leadership of Nigeria must contend with or harness if it must make a mark in the Comity of Nations in the 21st century. I shall start with the appraisal of the dawn of the 21st century.
THE DAWN OF THE 21ST CENTURY: AN APPRAISAL- (2000-2020)
The ordinary meaning of a century is a period of hundred years. 21st century therefore is the 21st of the many sets of one hundred years from the beginning of recorded time. According to the Gregorian Calendar, 21st Century began on 1st January 2000 and will come to a close on 31st December 2100. The implication of the above is that by the end of this year 2020, the world has expended 20 years of the 21st century; we would then be left with 80 more years.
As we approached the dawn of the 21st century, it became very obvious that the world was about to experience a fundamental change in a way that may be exciting but disruptive. It should be noted that the industrialisation paradigms of the 20th century gave rise to a global economic prosperity and world economy that resulted in both free trade, cross border economic management as well as exchange of financial values amongst nations. The economic pattern and fortunes of the 20th century also came with the enhancement of special skills, professional callings and unique scientific expectations.
But as we got into the 21st Century, social lives, businesses, governments and advancement in communication technology gained new speed and consciousness with varied implications in business development and relationships, social interactions and indeed with dramatic political effects e.g. the Arab Spring which affected Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Egypt etc. Technological innovation has also disrupted many traditional ways of production, e.g. the rise of artificial intelligence, digital and data technology has disrupted many conventional methods and caused major shift in the job market. There is no doubt that the characteristics of the three key factors of production i.e. Capital, Labour and Land have been permanently altered by technology and digital transformation. Demand for new skills, and schemes, are now inevitable.
I will quickly outline some major innovative technologies that smacked off the 21st century.
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES OF THE 21ST CENTURY
- SOCIAL MEDIA.
It is believed that communication is core or if you like central to technological advancement of the 21st century with its sweeping effect on all aspect of our private and public lives. This include Bluetooth (2000), Skype (2003), Facebook (2004), iPhone (2007), IBM Watson (2010) and indeed the numerous apps technologies. Social coherence, and in some ways, social disharmony, have also been fostered through communication. You know many others
The speed and ease of communication in the 21st century has upscaled economic growth, enhanced social relations and promoted political communication.
For example, in 2017 when Donald Trump was sworn in as the president of the United States of America, he almost practically began governance through tweets. Criticized by many, but that soon became the way many governments now project governance information and direction to their citizens and the world. Political communication has largely moved from mainstream media to include social media.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, tweeter, blogs, YouTube, etc have become major sources of connection, advertisement or even hiring labour to save cost and reach wider audience, and about 80 percent of companies use them globally for their recruitment processes.
As it is for employment of labour, so is it for marketing of goods and services. In the 21st Century, social media has become a global market place and avenue for brand identification and loyalty, corporate judgement and conversation, and the list goes on.
- Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 21st Century
- ROBOTICS AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Simply put, this is science reaching beyond the limits of human activities, (in many cases replacing them), with machines that are equipped with enhanced agility, sense and intelligence to perceive its environment and perform cognitive functions to successfully interpret and solve a particular scenario.
We saw an example of this in Titan- an entertainment Robot built by a British company, Cyberstein. Some have said the 8 feet Titan was a bodyguard of King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalif of the Kingdom of Bahrain, others have debunked the assertion; but the reality is that such an entertainment Robot equipped with such unimaginable amount of cognitive ability, called the Titan, exists. Titan made its first public appearance in 2004 at the Glastonbury Festival and has performed at shows around the world ever since then.
This is but an example. Advancement in robotics and artificial intelligence has astounded the world in the last 20 years.
In this century, it has become somewhat a frenzy for scientists to continue to push the boundaries of technology in a bid to replace most human endeavours with machine operations, cutting across all industries and human operations- manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, space travel, land and sea transportation, medicine, agriculture, sports, education, communication technology, construction, power, military, banking, etc.
From electric powered vehicles to self-driving and self or assisted parking cars; from smart watch, smart phones to smart homes; from human genome, cyber knife in medicine, FMRI to robotics surgery; from 3D printing, Bluetooth technology to space colonization; from smart city to smart road, the world is reaching for unprecedented levels in technological advancement.
Again, Gentlemen and Ladies welcome to the 21st century.
- THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Finally, on this topic, I will not forget to mention the idea of the internet of things. This is a concept where everything talks and interacts with everything. It is an interconnectivity of physical objects, including human being and animals (generally describes as things) with sensors encrypted with software applications to make it possible to exchange data with other “things” or devices through the internet gateway. 5G is the technology that will drive this.
There is also now research into 6G. And as you can possibly imagine, there would be other Gs which will make communication and transfer of information and data supersonic.
This is already happening and here with us. This is the future that every individual, government and corporation must embrace, and therefore should be preparing for.
The truth is, our world has changed and even more so continues to change and briskly, too.
Again, I welcome you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the 21st Century
IMPERATIVES OF THE NEXT 80 YEARS AND THE INEVITABLE CHALLENGES
Having appraised the first 20 years of the 21st Century and highlighted some of its remarkable characteristics, it may be necessary to appraise what the future portends for the remaining 80 years of the Century.
I shall endeavour to do the appraisal under the following headings:
COLLAPSE OF THE OIL ECONOMY
I wish to emphasise an old saying that “the world did not run out of stone for the stone age to end.” That is the same way the world will not run out of Oil for this era of global oil demand to fall.
It may interest you to know that today, the only captive sector, if you like, industry, for oil is transportation. But also, today, advancement in technology is aggressively tugging at it: battery powered cars are already in use and increasingly gaining global acceptability and aspiration.
- Cashew oil is now preferred for space ships. It is expected that alternative oil for air planes and other means of transportation may surface within this century as scientists continue to explore
Already, the EU, China, and some states in the US, example California, are setting ambitious but clear targets for sales of battery powered cars. India has recently joined the race.
Just another important and critical addition is the pressure of global warming campaign which is further putting pressure on the demand for oil as the major sources of greenhouse gases or CO2. This means that in the foreseeable future, demand for oil is likely going to reach the rock bottom because not many nations will have need for it. Therefore, it is without doubt that as we move into the remaining years of the 21st century, revenues that accrue to Nations from sales of oil will continue to dwindle and become unstable for sustainable planning.
- For any oil revenue dependent nation, the only way out of this imminent quagmire is to plan for non-oil-based economy. This plan must be deliberate and sustainable and must start now.
GROWING GLOBAL POPULATION
Global population is projected to grow over the next 80 years from current level of 7.7 billion in 2020 to about 11 billion by 2100.
In the next 30 years alone, (that is by 2050), the United Nations projects that world population will grow by 2 billion to hit 9.3 billion, with Africa contributing more than half of that growth projection. Nigeria will account for more than 400 million of the total global population within the same period.
The implication of this is that there would be 9.7 billion people globally, or more than 400 million in the case of Nigeria, to lead, feed, clothe, transport, employ and educate by 2050, and a global figure of 11 billion by the end of the century.
Knowing this inevitability, the only way for a nation to tackle the challenges explosion in population will present is to be pragmatic and deliberate in policy development to be ahead of the challenges, before they even arise.
A NEW WAVE OF CITIZENSHIP CONSCIOUSNESS
A new wave of citizens consciousness arising from mass enlightenment as a result of availability of information and means of communication will equally characterize the next 80 years of the century.
Nationhood and leadership may never again be shrouded in secrecy; people will seek to know more about how decisions that affect them are made and why. Promises of good governance will be demanded and other voices of reason will continue to gain wider access and prominence.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we saw this in the Arab spring of 2010 to 2012. We also just witnessed the EndSars protest in Nigeria, Black Life Matter in the USA, etc.
AUTOMATION AND VIRTUAL COMMUNICATION
Let me also say that the world will witness greater increase in automation of production processes where machines will replace Labour in mainstream production and service provision processes before the Century winds down.
The direct implication of this would be mass loss of traditional jobs. This will cut across all sector of the economy. Manufacturing, Banking, Transportation, even Education will be affected. As you may know, this is already happening.
Virtual communication has no doubt disrupted traditional methods of teaching and learning across the globe, hastened by the effects of covid-19 pandemic. Mode of meetings and social interactions, work pattern and transportation, etc are re-defining our global new-normal.
Ladies and Gentlemen, retooling our skills at this time is inevitable if our labour force is going to have a chance to compete at any level at all in the next couple of decades.
The remaining part of the Century will be dominated by nations and leaders who can demonstrate clear focus, vision and pragmatism today.
Let me at this juncture, point a few examples of Nations and leaders who have seen this future and are already doing something about it. I will take this final, but brief section, to mention some of them.
LEADERS AND NATIONS RE-DEFINING THE STATUS QUO
- THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATE UNDER THE LEADERSHIP KHALIFA BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN
- For those that have visited UAE, especially Dubai and perhaps those aspiring to go to Dubai or Abu Dhabi to see the wonders that were created from a known dessert from the late 20th century, leading into the 21st Century.
- The world lauds the visionary outlook of the UAE leaders, and today UAE is not only a growing ember of cosmopolitan community, but also a modern insignia bringing men and women from all over the world to one place; businesses and global Corporations pride themselves in having offices and operational outlets or bases in the UAE.
- In April 2019, the ruler of Dubai – Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum launched the world’s first virtual Ministry of Possibilities. The focus of this unique Ministry is to incubate and develop radical solutions for the government’s most critical challenges.
- In the words of Sheikh Mohammed, “The reality we are experiencing in the UAE today is a product of unconventional leadership. We need modern systems to make our unconventional ambitions a reality. The future brings challenges that require constant government restructuring. The word impossible does not exist in our dictionary. It is not part of our vision and will never be part of our future”. This, I think, captures the mindset expected of any leader that hopes to navigate the challenge of the 21st Century.
- It is important to note that the UAE did not exist in isolation as a country within the Asian strip or Arabian Peninsula. It was a colony of Great Britain until it gained independence in December 1971; just a little over 48 years ago.
- Like some other colonized nations, it was an amalgamation of seven Emirates which came together to form the UAE. In the common parlance of Nigerian English, UAE could also be described as a “British contraption” of seven different communities of people; only that this time, the contraction has yielded enviable results of progress and development of the people and their country through home-grown outstanding and deliberate leadership. It is, therefore, my perspective that the fact that Nigeria is multi-regional and multi-cultural is not an excuse why we should not progress. The world is moving on and so nations which will compete in the league of nations in the 21st century and create peace, wealth and prosperity for their people and the world cannot wait and watch. The leadership must prepare for the challenges of the 21st century.
- RWANDA UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF PAUL KAGAME
Another example is Rwanda under the leadership of Paul Kagame.
- Paul Kagame is a Rwandan politician and former military leader. He is the 6th and current President of Rwanda.
- As president, Kagame has prioritized national development, launching a program to develop Rwanda as a middle-income country by 2020 (Vision 2020). As of 2013, the country is developing strongly on key indicators, including health care and education; annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged 8% per year.
- Rwanda’s economy has grown rapidly under Kagame’s presidency, with per-capita gross domestic product (purchasing power parity) estimated at $1,592 in 2013, compared with $567 in 2000. Annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged 8% per year.
- Kagame’s economic policy is based on liberalizing the economy, privatizing state-owned industries, reducing red-tape for businesses, and transforming the country from an agricultural to a knowledge-based economy.
- Evidently, Success has a pattern, and so does failure. In either scenario or circumstances of success or failure, the role and disposition of the ruler who it is to make a final decision, is critical.
- I will like to emphasise that the 21st century is a century of possibilities. Not possibilities of just playing a catch-up, but possibilities and prospects of new inventions that can further change our world and improve on how we live.
- Nigeria as a nation cannot be left behind. It is important that we take advantage of the growing spate and benefits of existing technology; but it is even more important that we chart a course as a nation and take a lead.
- As a nation, we must take deliberate sustained steps and actions, with an eye on global technology competition. The world is at “war” and the arena is leadership in technology and science and it appear to me that anyone can win in the remaining 80 years of this century. As a nation, we must not be defeated again.
- The future will not be driven by oil or traditional agricultural system or governance system. It will not be driven by ideas, projects and technologies that become obsolete before they are even consummated or completed, or before they even take off.
- We all know our expectations of leadership in today’s Nigeria. In sincerity, and I hold this to be personally true: our next 80 years leaders must be those who plan for the next generation and not the next election. Such leaders must be over and above tribal and religious divides. Their focus must be anchored on concerns for the next generation.
- With its population, diversity, natural resources and human capital, Nigeria can be a leading nation of this century. Our youths, who are well represented here today, constitute the largest active segment of over 200 million people. They are well positioned to propel this nation to greatness.
- Nigeria is faced by myriad of challenges including climate change, banditry, violent insurgency, consumer and import dependent economy. The consequential leaders are those who can take the lead in addressing these challenges and other global issues and set the young populationon a course of national rebirth. They are leaders that redefine the national vision and commit to set the country on the path of exponential economic growth.
This cannot happen unless leaders recognize the potential of youths and tap into it. The next 80 years of the 21st century would be driven by youths and youthful thinking. Leaders who would be relevant are those who are youth-centric. The youths deserve and will demand for leaders who encapsulate the possibilities of the 21st century.
Thank you and God bless us! God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.