The worst kind of leaders, I am sure, are those charismatics who have multitudes that follow them for reasons that scarcely emanate from rational thinking. In that case, I don’t know which is to be found more disturbing – such a leader or his follower? Infinitely more disturbing without a doubt though, is the fact that we have in this potentially great country of ours, a preponderance of both this sort of charismatic leader as well as the repugnant follower.

The charismatic leaders of this variety tend to lead their followers by the nose, the better that they may not smell the proverbial coffee. They also try to perfect the art of keeping their respective followers blind so that the greater masses of people collectively will be unable to see eye to eye, which is to their narrow advantage.

On the part of the followers, many like to imagine that they follow the leaders with their heads, which might not have been such a bad idea if there was not so much evidence of mass cerebral palsy. Others thrust out their chests proudly, thumping their fists against the cavity and claiming to be following them with their hearts but again, vital signs abound of the widespread existence of terminal cardiac condition.

In view of the above dilemma, does it come as a surprise that the choosing of our next leaders fairly boils down to the same age-old primordial sentiments, those thinly-veiled bigotries straddling the familiar realms of tribal, religious and capitalist fraternities? Certainly not, despite the fact that the quasi-intelligentsia of social media and the apparatchiks of political parties may try to deflect from this fact by resort to assorted semantics and sundry antics, effectively applying lipstick on the ugly old pig.

Charismatic leadership, it must be emphasized, is not an absolutely negative phenomenon. Indeed it can be positive. After all, Kwame Nkrumah was one. So was Winston Churchill. Then again, so was Idi Amin. And also Papa Doc Duvalier.

The true character of the charismatic leader is really taken from the nature of the multitudes that follow him. They suply the energy on which he runs, positive or negative as the case may be. They determine everything. They are not only to be found in government. They are at the apex of churches and mosques.  They lead various forms of social activism.

They are at the forefront of societies that are at various stages of underdevelopment or arrested development. It is the norm for the gullible and garrulous followers of such leaders to ascribe to them all-knowing qualities that approach omnipotence or omniscience even. It is needless to add that by no stretch of the imagination do most of these charismatics come close to possessing those qualities but it is probably more important to them that they are seen to be knowledgeable rather than that they truly are.

Having repeatedly reflected on all the above, I have to confess that despite harbouring the deepest worry for my country, I am persuaded that there is still a chance that good fortune may still attend us in the decades and generations to come. We are a young country, just about sixty, still juvenile in the chronology of nationhood. We often fall into the temptation of expecting every conclusion and denouement to our national affairs to occur within our puny individual human lifespans. Nothing can be more unrealistic and misleading as that expectation. If you are expecting to salvage the country in 2023, you have another think coming.

© Odi Ikpeazu,
Pan-African, Attorney, Author, Football Club Owner, Singer/Songwriter (Odi & the Big Band)

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