Some weeks ago, I read a book titled “do leaders make a difference”? I was perplexed by the title because the answer was so obvious. Leaders not only make a difference, I thought, they are the distinguishing factor among nations, and it is their actions, their vision, and their commitment that determine whether their countries are rich or poor, at war or at peace, developing or decaying, models to emulate or pariahs to be avoided.

I have seen a lot on this continent and I marvel at the resiliency and magic of Africa. There is something about this continent that deeply attracts me and gives me hope. There are also other things that I fail to understand and ever so often lead me to despair.

But in all my life, I have never seen a country quite like Nigeria-Big, bold, dynamic, complex, diverse, rich in culture and tradition, Nigeria has the potential to become one of the great countries of the world. Nigeria is rich in natural resources and it has abundance of human capital, highly educated, talented, and entrepreneurial people. Nigeria has also given the world some of its most renowned cultural and literary icons-Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Cyprian Ekwensi, to name but a few.

Nigeria’s geography has insulated it from many of the world’s most devastating natural disasters; but this has not shielded Nigeria from the tragedy of unnecessary human loss: most of the disasters in Nigeria are man-made-from Boko Haram killings, to communal and criminal violence that has sensely taken the lives of many Nigerians.

Nigeria’s challenges have always been to transform its great potential into economic and political realities and this is the challenge of leadership. Transformative leadership begins with self-transformation. It begins with changing how we see, hear and act on the challenges we face every day as Nigerians. Transformative leadership begins with a clear and grand vision and empathetic communication. Transformative leadership is principled and focused. It is value-driven.

I will never give up my faith in Nigeria and I know Nigeria will prevail. Leadership will make the difference. I am certain that each of us believes that too.

Indeed, leaders make a difference.

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