Leadership and Self-sacrifice: Elected to Suffer

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.

Arnold H. Glasow

At the heart of every great leadership, there is a strong notion of self-sacrifice. And, in the heart of every great leader, there’s the determination to fulfil this notion.

Every nation must, therefore, produce leaders that are ready—in proportion to the national challenges—to give their all. The bigger the challenges, the greater the burden they must be willing to bear.

In Nigeria’s case; given the seemingly insurmountable problems we have, our leaders must be ready to suffer greatly. They must willingly deprive themselves of every comfort their position brings, and submit themselves to the wrath of transformation.

There is no need sugarcoating the task at hand, anyone who would lead Nigeria must be ready to walk through fire. Of course they need to be competent and highly qualified, they must also be ready to lose themselves in the service of this nation.

Never trust a leader who doesn’t walk with a limp.

Dr. J. Robert Clinton

The citizens of this great nation have been bent out of shape—both physically and mentally—from bearing so much burden. It is time for our leaders to feel the heat.

A new wave of elections are upon us, and they have begun to lock horns, vying for political offices. However, let them fight, knowing that the task ahead will not be easy on them.

If any of these political aspirants (presidential, gubernatorial, or senatorial) do not have it in mind to suffer, then they don’t deserve to be elected.

Naturally, the mere thought of leading Nigeria (in whatever capacity) should scare anyone. But you can see them fighting desperately for political seats, because they don’t consider the notion of self-sacrifice.

Perhaps, there are some among them who truly acknowledge the task ahead and are ready to suffer to accomplish it. Perhaps, there are those who’d forsake every benefit that comes with their positions, and make sure that even the least of their people is catered for.

Perhaps, there are true leaders amidst the assemblage of profiteers and power-hungry politicians. Or, maybe there are none.

Whatever the case, it is our responsibility, as citizens, to remind all aspirants that these political seats have now lost all honour and respect formerly attached to them. We must tell the incoming president that they won’t be celebrated—regardless of their person.

If truly they want to lead, they must show the willingness to suffer; then they must suffer without complaint; and they must not expect any commendations from this generation. They must pass through the fire, and perish in it (if need be); but they must do so, expecting no encomium.

When future generations look back, they can look back with admiration at the great leaders who suffered greatly; who forsook benefits and allowances, so the children of the poor wouldn’t go to bed hungry; who stood up to evil cabals, even at the risk of personal harm.

The future generation may also look back with reverence at leaders who left political offices without a dime to their names, poor and deeply scarred.

For, how can you say you have led this nation—this very Nigeria, as it is—and not be left with a limp? or a very deep scar indeed?

This also goes to every leader out there. You run a company or an institution, you must be ready to suffer, in proportion to the realities of your society.


The cost of leading Nigeria to the promised land is great suffering, pain, self-denial, self-deprivation and more suffering. The price must be paid, first and foremost, by every politician.

It is now a solemn duty to lead Nigeria. Our political leaders must know this. The common citizen must know it, more especially, and they must make sure to show it—at the polls and beyond.

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