Public Presentation Of The Book: “Winning Leadership” By Major General Pat Akem-Vingir (RTD.)

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I am delighted to be here at the Public Presentation of “Winning Leadership” by Major General Pat Akem-Vingir and I think he has outdone himself with this important new book. This is a book about strategic leadership today, in a world immersed in volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Leadership under normal circumstances is challenging, but the ever-evolving torrents of challenges that we have today have made it even more daunting.


There are many books and ideas on leadership but one of the reasons why I think this book Winning Leadership is unique is that it draws from the best scholars in the world on the subject—leaders of advanced militaries and C-suite leaders of international organizations and institutions, but most importantly, the General also draws from his deep well of experience in both combat and a successful administrative experience locally in the Nigerian Military and in service to the UN and ECOWAS.


Leadership has of course been critical throughout recorded human history, but events that have shaped the globe in recent times have shown how critical leadership is, especially at the highest levels. So, for example, one of the biggest surprises for many was how some of the wealthiest and most developed economies of the world were tragically unprepared to handle a public health crisis on the scale and uncertainty of Covid-19. Whereas countries with more modest economic profiles, quickly deployed a public health framework that was responsive and effective. That is leadership in a crisis.  Nigeria’s (Our) COVID-19 response for example has been celebrated locally and internationally.


The setting up by a Presidential order of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, an inter-ministerial interagency team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha,  which coordinated the national response, set the rules, and briefed the nation daily for months. The task force swiftly issued and enforced Covid protocols for travel and general movement.  We restricted travel into Nigeria before most OECD countries did or before they even realized that they had to do so.


Once the first case was discovered, the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Redeemer’s University, in Ede gave Africa the first genomic sequence for Corona Virus SARS 2. Many people didn’t even know of the existence of this center in Ede in Osun State.


When the first doses of vaccines came, the task force developed the protocols and the public health system already used for mass vaccination campaigns, deployed across the country in every nook and cranny of Nigeria so that the first eligible vaccine candidates received their vaccinations seamlessly.


As General Pat Akem argues in Winning Leadership that knowledgeable and agile leadership and responsive at the moment where it is required. It has to be able to mobilize resources – human, financial, and material – of nations and organizations in an effective and result-oriented manner. Such leadership is able to attain goals and visions and also able to protect and promote the interests of their communities.  In other words, effective strategic leadership purposefully provides direction and inspires.


One of the things the book shows is the challenges and opportunities of the coming years will be even more nuanced and will call for imagination, clarity of vision, and effective implementation.  The world has changed, the strategies and techniques of yesterday will not work today, in the corporate workplace, in our public institutions, and even in our homes.  This is thanks in no small measure, to the leaps made in technological advancement. The advent of social media has completely changed the nature of human interactions, and with that, has added layers of ambiguity and complexity in state-corporate relations.


In terms of human capital, what drives today’s workforce is very different even from just two decades ago. Two decades ago, you’d only needed to be a lawyer, accountant, or a doctor, but these days, those professions are not “necessarily as relevant” as they used to be for providing opportunities for young people. Young people are doing all sorts of things, they are multitasking, investing, and doing different things.


As a nation, the threats to our corporate existence today are unprecedented and hitherto unimagined. It is against this background that the author’s prescriptions have to be taken seriously. As he pointed out, exceptional leaders do not just emerge, they are the products of deliberate efforts in training and grooming.


The book we are about to unveil is coming at the most auspicious moment in our nation’s history. The times we are in and the unique challenges we face demand a new paradigm in leadership – the book offers multiple pathways through which leaders can tackle these challenges.


I think a point the book throws up is the importance of the orientation of the elites in any society. Leaders are the elites in any society; this covers political, religious, ethnic, and corporate leaders. The elites if you may, are usually responsible for failure or success. If the elites are selfish and self-seeking, our society would be harmed. If they recognize that their role imposes a huge burden of responsibility, then our society would be much better for it.


We live in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society, so we need responsible political and religious leaders, not those who are prepared to destroy the unity of the country so that they can be hailed in their communities. A religious leader who preaches that we should hate other religions is not relevant today. I am a pastor but I know that God loves Muslims, He said so in the scriptures, and even those who say God doesn’t exist, God still loves them. I must not discriminate against people of other faith. I cannot preach that discrimination.


Our Constitution says there’s freedom of worship, any religious leader from whatever persuasion who says another religion should not exist or is inferior, is not relevant for our circumstances today. That is the same for political leaders; any political leader who doesn’t recognize that this is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society and you cannot function with only one ethnic group and you have got to carry everyone along, is not relevant today.


I keep saying that it is the elite that will show that direction. If you look at bribery and corruption, you’d find that our elites would say our problem is because of the Hausa Fulanis, the Igbos, or the Yorubas, but trust me, I have studied this closely, every time I look at a charge sheet of people who have stolen money from Nigeria, you’d find equal representation. I am talking of the Federal level because at the State level, you’d find every ethnic nationality in the State.  Any of our elite who tells us that the problem is with one ethnic group says so because it is only convenient for them to do so. When someone says to you, we have been discriminated against, all they are saying is that – “appoint me, I am on the one who should be there.”


I think that with our elite, we have to do much more orientation and re-orientation. The reason why American society is so great is that it has found the means of bringing everybody on board. We shouldn’t be talking about dividing when the rest of the world is thinking of ways to come together to be stronger and more competitive.


As I mentioned in the foreword to the book, Major General Pat Akem-Vingir has articulated military strategies and fresh thinking on the concept of strategic leadership.


This unique approach compels the reader to rethink leadership. Winning Leadership is thus an essential contribution to the existing body of knowledge on the subject of strategic leadership.


I think it is certainly worth reading and I took my time to read it before writing the forward. I therefore wholeheartedly recommend the book for all of you.


Thank you very much.