Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another way to lead: The British Hacking Scandal Example.

Perhaps the first time anybody, or most people on this side of the world heard about the British Hacking Scandal, was when the Wayne Rooney side of the story surfaced some months back. One of British’s most sought after tabloid, The News of the World, was enmeshed in a Phone Hacking and Illegal purchase of Classified Information; albeit largely a journalistic goof, it however has its political side and implications.

What would now be termed a preliminary or pseudo investigation, though conclusive then, was conducted and appropriate conviction and vindication made. In the heat of this scandal came the resignation of the once politically influential former Editor of The News of the World, Andy Coulsin. Saving you an epistle however, the aim of this piece is not to bore you with the details of the scandal, but drive home a particular message.

After the whole scandal had subsided a little, Andy Coulsin was appointed by British Prime Minister, David Cameron, as his Chief Spokesman (Director of Communications), a job he recently resigned from again. I was watching Sky News International on July 8, 2011 however, when the driving force of this piece struck me. The Hacking Scandal is back on spot, and there are fresh facts to nail Andy Coulsin as an accomplice. This is coming against his initial testimony, where he claimed ignorance of the scandal. Obviously, this influenced his resignation again from Cameron’s appointment. The Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband had demanded an apology from Mr. Cameron for bringing Coulsin into the heart of the British government, which he responded to by addressing a ‘non-simulated’ team of pressmen from across Britain. These pressmen churned out loads of ‘non-simulated’ questions and queries, responded to accordingly by David Cameron.

There and then, my country, Nigeria, came to mind and I started asking questions: when will Nigerian political leaders develop the Political Will needed to move this country forward, placing us on the path to assuming our destiny? Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was arrested for questioning the integrity of the Nigerian Police Force, and raising doubt on their competence; yet, British Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband still works the streets of U.K with no intimidation or harassment from the government or Cameron.

While an undergraduate, I studied and understood the politics of executives standing in front of the parliament, answering simulated questions from engineered legislators, clearing doubts and coming out an administrative hero; at least, to the unsuspecting novice around. This is a microcosm of the national experience. While Cameron will not play politics with real issues, one wonders why at this stage of our nationhood, or statehood as you may say, Nigerian political leaders still exhibit ignorance of the real task at hand.

Perhaps I should briddle the tongue of my pen, and tame my sagacious mind at this stage, lest I suffer El-Rufai’s fate. Yet, I will not sign off without asking a question that has been on my mind for a while now: What is the real task on the desk of Nigeria’s present crop (2011 – 2015) of leaders? I know of radical infrastructural development, power (electricity), fundamental educational revival, wholesome economic rethink, corruption, good governance, and mass employment generation (not asking graduate to sell recharge cards by the roadside, or join traffic management for 10,000 naira a month). Oh! Lest I forget; I also know of post-election violence, Boko Haram, Dimeji Bankole, cabinet constitution et al. Sorry, a friend seated next to me here said the latter is too trifling to attract too much of symposium, seminar, and communiqué; it only requires political willingness. But I also ask: where are those types of leaders?

There are still many more lessons to be taken from the British Hacking Scandal, so I’d suggest you stay in touch.

Alamu Samson.

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