In business, a stakeholder is defined as a person or group who has an interest, vested or otherwise, in an enterprise, and whose support is required for an enterprise to be successful. The term stakeholder, however, has its roots in horse racing, where the prize money is derived from the entry fees that horse owners pay to enter the race. The entry fee is called a stake, which is a synonym for the risk taken by the horse owners. The stakeholder in this sense, is the entity that takes care of the entry fees until the prize money is awarded, and traditionally has no financial interest in the outcome of the race. The lack of financial interest in the outcome of the race is key to ensuring an unbiased position by the stakeholder.
Going by the two definitions, our leaders, therefore, ought to be entities with altruistic vested interest in the outcome of Nigeria and its general success. This will ensure that policies and decisions are guided, not by personal, ethnic or religious affiliations, but by the conviction of what is best for the common good of the nation and all its people. They will live daily with the consciousness that whatever decision they make, no matter how insignificant it might seem, has far reaching implications for both the present and future. This will reflect in how very important things such as the national budget are prepared, and percolate down to how much luxury the leaders are afforded at the expense of the national purse.
Stakeholders have a sense of ownership of the outcome of their decisions, and they can think, take initiative, make decisions, carry responsibility, be creative, and solve problems. They set short term goals with the longer term vision in mind, and are proud to own the outcome of their effort and decisions. True stakeholders guide by example, and experience the reality of the group they lead. When leaders lack these qualities and mentality, then the unavoidable outcome is the rent-seeking and short-termism mindset that we witness across Nigeria on a daily basis.
Our current crop of leaders have no vested interest in Nigeria, and live in a bubble that miraculously bursts once they vacate the saddle of power. The bubble starts from Aso rock, which is the home to the president. It is a contraption of so much insanity that it is incomprehensible. In a country with more than 50 percent of the population living in abject poverty, it beggars belief that the president will have access to so much luxury that to carry out annual maintenance of installations will gulp a whooping N4.9bn ($13.6m). In my opinion, if the citizens are paying for your accommodation, anything beyond a 5 bedroom house, which majority of Nigerians can’t even afford, is an overkill and grossly irresponsible.
Then we move on to the political jobbers and appointees who live ironically to their portfolios. Imagine a minister of power that has provision for generator to supply his own power because he knows the ministry he heads is not about to provide power? How else will he have the incentive to fix the industry if the outcome of the industry does not directly affect him? How do we entrust our education in the hands of people whose children do not attend institutions in the country? What’s the incentive for them to fix the educational system? When the president as well as the minister of health both go for medical tourism abroad on the bill of the country, where’s the incentive to fix the domestic health industry?
Leadership is a call to service, and it’s high time we started living practically. If we are to move forward as a country, our leaders need to partake in the outcome of their direct actions, and those of their colleagues. If you’ve accepted to serve, it is hypocritical to enjoy beyond the level of services you provide the citizens of your country who have reposed their confidence in you. If you are desirous of a functional healthcare or educational system, then fix it. If you think other countries will provide you or your children better services and facilities, then please, quit and allow those that have the solutions to Nigeria’s problems lead. The unwillingness of the so called leaders to patronize the services they willingly expend all the resources of the country on is an admission of failure on their part, and they should be held accountable. Drastic times call for drastic measures.
Olugbenga A. Olufeagba