BY FRANCIS ADEWALE
“There goes the mob, and I must follow, for I am their leader.”- Anon. Possibly apocryphal words of Comte de Mirabeau, the French revolutionary leader.
A very simplistic explanation for the tragedy we are witnessing in Nigeria is the one that posits that all Nigeria needs is leadership and that if we had good leadership, some of the problems we face today would not be happening. I beg to differ. Followers may lack authority, but they do not necessarily lack power. Leaders are essential in every society, but Nigeria is not dysfunctional because of a lack of leadership alone. In some respects, all leaders are followers; to retain their influence, those in positions of authority have no choice but to “track, to follow their followers if only to be sure that they stay in line”. In sum, we are who we are because of how we follow one another. Just look at the sickening video of the lynching of Deborah Yakubu.
Do you see any leaders among the mob? They each walked up to do the sordid acts. They might have been misled by bad teaching, but they had to reflect before engaging in this despicable extra-judicial killing. You don’t see any Saul later as Paul standing by, directing the persecution? Nope! They are there as followers following other followers to kill a fellow human being based on a rumour of a taunt of the Holy Prophet. Don’t get me wrong, our leaders in Nigeria, secular and sectarian, are all guilty of the gory show going on in Nigeria.
But our needs and wants as individuals are met by playing the part of followers, at least most of the time. We go along because we consciously or unconsciously determine our interest in doing so. Those who judged and executed Deborah Yakubu extra-judicially do so as followers of their faith. The three reasons why followers follow leaders are the same reasons why followers follow other followers sheepishly.
Safety, security, community, and collective work make followers sometimes comply involuntarily or voluntarily with leadership directives.
So, followers follow not only because it’s in their interest to conform to their leaders but also because it is in their interest to conform to their fellow followers. Many followers of the …….