Over the past years, I have had the rare privilege of observing two sides of the leadership pendulum; military leadership and democratic leadership. I remember June 12, 1992, when below our house, I saw people standing on a lengthy queue in front of SDP (Social Democratic Party) to exercise their fundamental human rights to vote. I grew up listening to my grandfather talking about his political life during Obafemi Awolowo when he served as Constituency Party Secretary. But like many of my peers, I never really had the opportunities my grandfather had, and never really saw democracy practiced fully for until 1999.

Unlike most kids, I was raised by my mother later in life, and we didn’t have all but we had love. I remember at age 10 when things were rough and I had to sell ice-cream on the streets of Akoka. I remembered those times when I had to serve as the Ag. Editor of St. Finbarrs’ College editorial board, and as Ag. Library Prefect for a while.

Fast track through the University, I remembered when I ran for Chairman, Nnamdi Azikiwe hall, University of Ibadan, and the first news that came out from the campus press was that I was too young to lead the largest undergraduate hostel and consequently provide leadership for the University. In fact, the exact title was “Timi is Timid”. Stereotyping me because of my so-called “chronic youth” compared to those who lead before me. Despite all that, I emerged in that election winning with a landslide victory, through a campaign of love, and eventually nominated for the UI ‘JCI’ award for outstanding leadership of Halls and Faculties, as well as the awarded the Hon. Chris Asoluka Award for Most Politically Productive Student in the University of Ibadan and the Professor H.O. Nottidge Award for Selfless Leadership, after my tenure.

Red Card

Little did I know that my childhood circumstances, academic training, and leadership engagements, built in me a consciousness and hunger for empathetic leadership. It built in me a passion for advocating institutional opportunities (and security) for the young, the elderly, and vulnerable. This has influenced my work as a lawyer, development practitioner, and leader for 9 years. For me, by gathering the fire of my story within me and boldly working to run for “Federal House of Representatives” (in a money-bag driven polity) in the coming elections (and shaping the conversation), is how I intend to give my bold “RED CARD” to all that isn’t deserving for Nigeria and Nigerians.

But this is not about me, it is also about you. This is your story too – a story through the unknown, the disappointments, and the successes. That story is what the new Nigeria needs – that story is what you need to not only get your PVC but also join political parties from the ward and local government levels. You might say, well, “politics not me”, but if you are tired about the options political parties throw at us to choose from, especially the major ones, then Join and get more people joining. By the time we all get resourceful people into the leadership at the party levels, then we are one step closer to getting a new leadership for a new Nigeria.  The sort of leadership that will do away with colonialist thinking and embrace an African-centric strategic thinking and policies. Interestingly, such leadership will have to come from a critical mass of emerging young leaders starting with you and me.  Although, I believe the emerging leaders must come from a blend of the young and the old; mostly from the young, energetic, and innovative. I do not believe in generational shift alone, rather, I believe in generational co-mingling, where the young and old support a new Nigeria through innovation and experience respectively.

The leadership we had after independence did not engage our colonialist programming and process of development; whether in politics, education, or even as little as it sounds ‘our formal clothing’. For example, imagine the economic and creative benefit to the fashion industry in Nigeria, if, after independence, Nigeria had abolished the mundane wearing of suits and tie (in a sunny weather) inherited from the colonialist, and embraced traditional Nigerian attires, as part of the official and corporate clothing? Further imagine the economic benefits of re-designing our education, our style of government, and our laws.

Therefore, if you desire a new Nigeria, give a “RED CARD” by getting involved and supporting those getting involved. Let the story of suffering, pain, discrimination push you! For Nigerians in the diaspora, why not find ways to support us against the money bags. Our collective resources can trump and triumph over their ill-gotten resources in the coming elections. You can support and make donations to my electoral campaign on votetimi.com/donate and let’s make it happen together.

Thank you, your Excellencies; the office of the Citizen, for reading and sharing.


Timi Olagunju is technology lawyer and design thinking consultant. Twitter/Instagram: @timithelaw

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