Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that only public-spirited men and women inspired by their belief in high purpose can bring national transformation.
The Vice President spoke on Friday at the 1st Annual General Assembly of Catholics in Politics and Catholic Business Leaders, where in a rousing speech, he highlighted the imperative of servant leadership and transformational leadership at different levels in society as a force for the common good.
“History teaches us that everywhere there has been a national transformation, it has been brought about by public-spirited men and women of goodwill who, inspired by their belief in a higher purpose other than their own profit, have entered the public square to champion the common good”, he said.
This is contained in a statement signed by the
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande.
The summit, otherwise known as the AGORA Conference, had the theme: “The Advancement of the Common Good towards Justice, Unity, Structure and Development of Nigeria.”
Speaking on the theme, Professor Osinbajo was of the view that transformational leadership, particularly in a multi-ethnic and multi-faceted country like Nigeria, is needed across all levels of government and spheres of society, as its primary focus is the pursuit of the common good to ensure fairness, justice, unity and development in a nation.
According to him “building credible institutions of justice, the rule of law and orderly society are crucial expressions of the pursuit of the common good.”
Recalling the words of His Holiness Pope John Paul II during his visit to Nigeria in February 1982 in an address at the State House in Lagos, the VP stated, “only the harnessing of all the forces for the common good, in true respect of the supreme values of the spirit, will make a nation great and a happy dwelling place for its people.”
The Vice President who stated that the common good as an imperative of public policy and governance was articulated by the second chapter of the Nigerian Constitution, said, “the challenge of actualizing the common good is coterminous with our quest to actualize the Directive Principles and Objectives of State Policy. Achieving both requires transformational leadership across all levels and spheres of our society.”
Highlighting why transformational leadership is critical to national life, the VP noted that it will spur positive changes across all sectors and spheres of society.
The Vice President added that as a model of leadership, transformational leadership operates by serving and uplifting others because it is servant leadership.
He noted that the “purpose of power is service, not domination; it is to uplift and empower others rather than to control or oppress. This is a model of leadership that is inseparable from our conception of the common good.”
“Transformational leadership is, therefore, the pursuit of the common good. But the pursuit of the common good itself is not as easy as it sounds. This is especially so where the wounds and enmities of ethnic and religious conflicts are deep.
“The common type of leadership will seek the path of relevance and popularity within their own ethnic or religious camps by seeking only the good of their own. The servant-leader will serve his people by emphasizing the letter and spirit of the gospel, that even our worst enemies were still made in the image of God
“And the pursuit of the common good is the pursuit of the good of those who hate us and have hurt us even in the recent past.
“Transformational leadership means that we do not mourn and condemn the killing of those who belong to our own tribe or faith alone, or seek justice for ours alone, because all men are equal before God, and that the pain and anguish of a mother’s loss of a child, is not different from one faith or tongue to the other.”
He said “the most progressive expressions of faith are concerned with justice and justice is impossible without taking the institutions that govern public life into account. In this sense, the purpose of governance and public policy is to establish a paradigm of justice that is measured by how well society deals with its most vulnerable members, settle disputes fairly and speedily, meting out punishment to violators of law without bias or fear.
The VP further observed that “our courts of law must be courts of justice. It means that we must pay attention to the quality and calibre of the men and women who are appointed judges. We must be concerned with their remuneration, and welfare. We must be unrelenting on insisting on their integrity.”
Professor Osinbajo also described corruption as a “cancer” noting that “the cancer in governments anywhere is corruption.
“When public officials, (be they high or low in the executive, legislature or judiciary) are toll gates for the extortion of the populace while seeking government dispensations, the common good, happy and prosperous lives for the people is impossible.”
He added that the pursuit of the common good must “involve a relentless pursuit of integrity and transparency of public officers, we must think through the systems that will reduce human discretion in public-facing institutions. So we must, as a collective, condemn and call out corruption and corrupt practices.”
The Vice President also encouraged Nigerians not to despair, despite some of the challenges, but have hope and belief in the promise of a great nation while urging that Nigerians must be willing to pay the price to achieve national greatness by actively pursuing the common good of all, regardless of tribal and religious differences.
He further said “fulfilling the immense promise of our nation requires men and women of goodwill from various communities and faiths to collaborate in advancing the common good. This is all the more important because it is such coalitions that can heal society of the wounds inflicted by the crude identity politics of religion and ethnicity.”
According to the VP, “our future will be shaped by how well we make common cause with other citizens of progressive persuasions to transform our communities,” even as he emphasized the importance of forging collaborative partnerships “not only within ourselves but with other forces which are committed to the common good to positively impact society.”
“Our greatest adversary in our task of national renewal is a feeling of hopelessness – a sense of futility that seems almost overwhelming. However, we cannot afford to even indulge in such despondency and despair. There is hope and there is much work to be done.”
Nigeria will overcome its challenges and rise again, the VP added.
“Contrary to opinion in some quarters, this house will not fall. It is being built and needs yet many more people to commit to building the sort of nation that we want. The throes and pangs of birth must not be interpreted as the pains of impending death. We are by the grace of God, more than able to overcome our present difficulties and we will overcome them,” the VP concluded.