Real Leadership

by E. Terfa Ula-Lisa Esq

Students of leadership do not need to look much further in this generation for a leader; for I have found one in George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America. You do not need to like him or even his policies to agree with me in this treatise. There is a saying whose authorship is fuzzy to me that goes like this; Some are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them, whilst yet others make it. I think W. is a combination of all three.

As I write this piece, the new President of the World Bank, the World’s foremost financial institution is visiting in Africa. Paul Wolfowitz said

“Leaving people behind in this world is a formula for failure – for us all,”. “A clear message from modern history is that this is a small world, and that both the benefits of progress, and the pain of despair, can be felt globally.

Paul Wolfowitz was nominated, sponsored and/or approved by President George W. Bush. Before this highly influential position, even as Deputy Secretary of State, he was known to be one of the principal policy wonks in the kitchen cabinet of George W. Bush. Currently, as President of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz’s first official trip is to Africa and he is showing empathy and saying just the right things:

“No single trip could ever hope to encompass all the challenges facing the people of the countries I will be visiting, but I plan to return many times in coming years and I am eager to get started. I feel African leaders are talking in a very different way – on critical issues like corruption and inclusion – to what was said ten years ago, and that is why I believe we face an historic opportunity to help…

“I have watched East Asia – my home for several years – and parts of Eastern Europe – make strides that many of us never thought we would see, but Africa has continued to struggle. Believing that Africa’s plight has no effect on the rest of the world is not only naïve, it’s morally wrong,” Wolfowitz said.

According to the official World Bank release, during his visit, Wolfowitz will meet with heads of state, community leaders, civil society organizations, women’s groups and, in particular, with the people of villages and towns where the Bank and its development partners are working with them on a range of projects.

Dynamics of Leadership

A wise leader would have a plan. Most plans from politicians are self-serving and selfish. Most plans from statesmen on the other hand, are often for the benefit of the whole. Most leaders would vouch that they act for the whole therefore they must be statesmen. Leadership however can be analyzed by action and tested by the passage of time. Each generation has its challenges and knotty issues. Most leaders skirt around the issue, deflect it, or even treat it with contempt. The African issue has been long on the table represented by the inhuman Trans-Atlantic trade in slaves, Slavery in the Americas, Colonialism, Indirect rule and independence and currently, Debt relief for bogus international debt of Africa with usurious interests. As painful as the western countries feel when we bring these issues up, they do not yet match up to a tenth of the pain the Africans have put up with as a result of business decisions of persons in boardrooms in England, New York, Paris, Berlin or Washington DC.

We may be wrong in this respect, but we connect Paul Wolfowitz’s Presidency of the World Bank to the agenda of the current President of the United States of America to leave his large footprints in the sands of time. In this regard, we draw from the horse’s mouth: ‘My presidency is one that has drawn fire, whether it be at home or around the world. Unfortunately, if you’re doing big things, most of the time you’re never going to be around to see them [to fruition], whether it be cultural change or spreading democracy in parts of the world where people just don’t believe it can happen’.

A Historic Opportunity

Every Presidency whether in Nigeria or America has the option of papering over the difficult issues of policy and marking time in office or facing them head-on and risking success or failure. Most of the issues often left on the back burner have been moral issues of the place of religion, equality, justice or corruption in high places; because they are simply difficult to deal with in the political arena. In the west, especially America, the issues have stood out like a sore thumb hidden in plain view. Currently you see President Bush

tackle them one after the other. “George W. Bush has not only appointed the two most diverse Cabinets in U.S. history, he has also raised the possibility that the Republican Party – long a pale-male refuge – could become a more attractive option for traditionally Democratic constituencies like women and the rapidly growing nonwhite electorate.

Past leaders have had their opportunity. In a book recently released on George Washington the authors write, “But a truly great leader, a transforming leader, must also be a man of dreams, unafraid to experiment against experience and against the wisdom of the past. He must be not only in step with his times but, as Demosthenes suggested, ahead of them.” Regarding George Washington, I had the good fortune of answering from the perspective of an educated African a white female who wanted to trap me to say some uncomplimentary things about his legacy as a founding father of freedom. The investigator asked if I thought George Washington was going to heaven since he owned slaves and belonged to the oppressor society. While I do not claim knowledge of who would make heaven, this new book answers “And yet in private Washington increasingly opposed slavery….As early as 1786 he expressed to a business acquaintance his hope that “slavery in this country may be abolished by slow, sure, and imperceptible degrees”. One of the reasons most people would name Abraham Lincoln, rightly or wrongly as first among equals is because not only did he agonize with the moral policy of government, he did something about it and died a martyrs death for it. Abraham Lincoln emancipated the slaves.

The Condition of the African

The African condition was not orchestrated by Africans because they are backward, lazy uneducated and unscientific. The invasion was deliberately planned and calibrated to fool an unsuspecting and for the most part very hospitable and naïve peoples. Where the people of Africa had the knowledge and the will to fight against these schemes, they were brutally massacred. In his book Churchill The Unexpected Hero, Paul Addison writes:

When Lord Lugard, the high commissioner for Northern Nigeria, proposed a punitive expedition against the Munshi, a tribe which had yet to submit to British rule, Churchill wrote: ‘The chronic bloodshed which stains the West African seasons is odious and disquieting. Moreover the whole enterprise is liable to be represented by persons unacquainted with imperial terminology as the murdering of natives and the stealing of their lands.’

As an aside, the Munshi tribe mentioned above is my ethnic group (Tiv). Our only fault was that we resisted conquest after they tried to trick or lure us in vain.

Corruption in Governments in Africa

Ingrained in the African culture is the culture of fairness hospitality and except in a few cases, mutual trust. Corruption, misappropriation or conversions of goods under traditional African jurisprudence were grievous sins that engender a loss of face honor and community. The issue of the marginalization or disregard of the rights of the people to communal property was mostly a deliberate introduction of the British Colonial Office to conquer the people. Where chief were non-existent, they were created and foisted upon the people. In Nigeria for instance, the Caliphate introduced by the Hausa/Fulani jihadists served the British interest so they adopted it and pampered the Emirs and Caliphs to extort taxes and resources from their people for the benefit of the Colonial office. This was the philosophy of government handed down to Nigeria. The chiefs were not subject to their people. The so-called Nigerian leaders are not subject to their people.

Corruption has thrived because this ignorant mediocre group were preferred over and above the smart and educated who would not be easy to manipulate.

A Time for Real Action

We hope in this century of the USA, we shall not get the rhetoric and PR gestures the British have so perfected. Laws and legal systems are based upon justice and justice whether we admit it or not, has its origin in fairness or morality. Even the Positivists school would agree that if you continue to make and enforce bad laws, you may not have an ordered society for long before the angst in the people make them to rebel. The British arrangement of exploitation was the same for the colonies of America. This is what brought about the revolution of 1776. However, while decrying the shabby treatment of the British, the American leaders did not consider the African slaves among them human. Subsequently, the story was the same disregard for the rights of the people who had lost their freedom in slavery.

While addr

essing my treatise to the current President and his determination to do what is right, I am governed by another apt saying of the founding father; “I am sure the Mass of the Citizens in these United States mean well, and I firmly believe they will always act well, whenever they can obtain a right understanding of matters.” Cross-Atlantic Slave Trade was evil, the Abolitionist Movement cried until it was abolished. Slavery was bad, Lincoln ended it with his life; Segregation was next confronted by Martin Luther King, Jr. Today we have International racism. It must be stamped out. Hounding and policing people because they believe in equality of the races is plain wrong and un-American.

Debt Relief

The International Community poured hundreds of billions of Dollars in Iraq for the war and subsequent nation-building. It is true that oil plays a major part in the effort in Iraq. Nigeria also has oil and so do the other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the damage to the economies and ecology of Africa was caused by western influence. In the name of fairness they need to build Africa back up. 500 million people with buying power and capacity for industrial growth is better than a crippled 400millon with beggar bowls in hand in search of international aid. World leaders will be gathering several times before the end of 2005 – such as at the Group of Eight Summit in July and the United Nations Summit in September – to discuss the urgent need for progress in reducing poverty worldwide according to the World Bank, here is hoping that they would make reasonable efforts under the guidance and leadership of President George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz and do the right thing for all of mankind and implement a Marshall Plan for Africa.

[i] :

[ii] TIME magazine issue of December 27, 2004/January 3, 2005

[iii] Klein, Joe TIME ibid. p.73.

[iv] James Macgregor Burns and Susan Dunn George Washington 2004 Times Books p.131

[v] ibid. p.155

[vi] Addison, Paul Churchill The Unexpected Hero 2005 Oxford University Press p.39

[vii] George Washington ibid p.97

[viii] George Washington ibid p.120.

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Anonymous June 18, 2005 - 12:03 pm


Anonymous June 17, 2005 - 1:28 am

Quite frankly, I don’t get why you think President George Bush qualifies as an exceptional leader. I respect your opinion; but serious students, and systematic observers of leadership would never consider him a great leader — not by any stretch of the imagination.

Paul Wolfowitz appointment does not indicate or foretell anything extraordinary for the world — especially the Third World. With time you will come to realize that this administration has no concrete plan for Africa. Therefore the continent must not wait or hope for assistance or help of any sort. “Debt Forgiveness”? Oh no, the West owes Africa much more than they can ever repay!

Have you ever met or seen a statesman who is not or was never a politician? I doubt it! Every political act, every political pronouncement and every public policy ever dreamt up has one and one purpose only: to perpetuate the politician’s dream or vision. And so all dreams and visions put forth by politicians or statesmen are self-serving! It is the degree of self-interest and purity of intention that differentiates one from the other.


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