Leader; reflection of followers.

in The Ink Well3 months ago (edited)


For about seven days, the water system in the hostel got spoiled and getting water for the daily activities became difficult for me and other residents of the hostel. The situation was so frustrating that we trekked a kilometer to a nearby village to get water.

The leaders of the hostel sent complaints to the University through the students affairs division. Unfortunately, intervention from the school authority remained a promise.

We couldn't take it anymore and the student leaders mobilized others for a peaceful protest to demand for the repair of the water system.

A day before the scheduled protest, my next door neighbor met me washing plates in front of my room and he stopped to have a chat.

"The university management is too corrupt just like the leaders of the country," he began. "We pay utility bills every academic session and the money ends up in some people's pockets without providing what it is meant to provide. Our leaders are too corrupt."

"Do you think that only our leaders are corrupt?" I interjected his lamentation.

"Of Course, yes."

I dropped my sponge and looked into his eyes; "from the followers emerged the leaders. The problem is beyond apportioning blame. If we change at our levels, there would be change above."

He wasn't convinced with my position. He continued to lampoon the university management team.

"What are you telling me? Don't exonerate them please."

I giggled. "I am not exonerating anyone nor am I interested in blaming anyone. We got the leadership of who we are.

"Mike, that's a food for thoughts for you, reflect over it." I concluded.

Sensing that I wasn't shifting my belief and thought process, he left me and went back to his room.

The following day, the protest was held successfully. Placards were flowing in the air with different inscriptions.

"We are tired of the corrupt system."

"We paid for water, give us water."

"Return our utility charges if the money can't be judiciously used for its purpose."

These were a few of the inscriptions held by my colleagues while solidarity songs were being sung.

I was standing by the side of the population trying to follow the unfolding developments. Mike walked up to me with his placard.

"Render the service that we paid for, Mr Vice Chancellor" was the inscription on it.

"Whether you like it or not, we are protesting against the corrupt management that can't provide us water despite charging us for it." He stated while pointing the placard at me.

I smiled at his conclusion. Undoubtedly, I don't like what we were experiencing as students but I was seeing a bigger picture of the menace.

The dean of students' affairs addressed the protesters on behalf of the university. He calmed the situation and promised that the university would provide succor.

In less than 24 hours after the protest, a team of electrical engineers and plumbers came and fixed the problem.
The organizers and full participants of the protest were full of self praise.

"We have forced them to fix the problem, you can now join us to use the water."

I was silent to the jabs coming from Mike.

A year later, Mike was elected as the president of the association of students from my State. Throughout his one year tenure, he was very critical about corruption. I supported him for that because my conviction remains that change has to start from the followers before effecting a positive change in electing good leaders.

During the course of his tenure, a member wrote a petition against Mike and his team. They were accused of inflating the prices of items purchased for the smooth running of the association. The dean of students affairs was copied.

The dean decided to set up a committee to investigate the accusations. He was a man that believed in students handling their affairs themselves. As a result, he selected the members of the committee from the students. I was made the chairman of the committee.

Mike and other executive members were suspended from their positions as leaders of the association so that they wouldn't tamper with any document.

All the assets and liabilities of the association were handed over to my team for proper scrutiny. We spent a few days studying the documents handed over to us before inviting Mike to provide explanations regarding some discrepancies.

I was stunned to discover that Mike misappropriated the association's fund recklessly. All the prices of the items bought under his authority were exorbitantly inflated..
A whiteboard marker that cost about 100 Naira in the market was purchased for 1000 Naira according to the document with us.
My team called on Mike so that we could listen to his explanation. The sitting couldn't achieve its objectives because he was weeping like a kid.

"Please, forgive me. My education is at stake. He pleaded holding my legs."

"Why did you do this? Why did you join the corrupt leaders that you so much despise? Do you remember our discussion a day before the protest of that year?"

"Yes, I do. I now understand that someone may not be able to understand himself until he gets power or leadership positions at any level. Please forgive me."

Initially, I wanted to recommend his suspension and refund of the embezzled money. However, this was a guy in his final year.

I wrote my report and followed it up so that the school authority could temper justice with mercy. A warning letter was written to him by the Dean of students affairs.

After the case had died, I brought back the food for thoughts that I gave him.

"Corruption is not just about the leaders. The followers are enablers at every level and that is why it festers up there. Let the change begin with you and I."

It was at this point that Mike agreed with my position.

An election was held and a new set of executives emerged for the association.


Very nice, @lightpen, you manage to give counsel without pontificating. One wonders about the wisdom you showed at such an early age, the day before the protest. It is often said that we get the leaders we deserve. This is approximately what you were advising Mike. Instead of pointing at someone else, he should look to himself and his own values to see if these were any different from the corrupt leadership's values.

Your tone in this piece is casual, but strong. In the end, the mercy you show probably did more to help Mike reform than a harsh punishment would have. There is no way to know if this is true. What is true, is that you were able to live with yourself in good conscience after showing compassion.

This was an instructive, enjoyable read. Thank you for sharing it.

Thank you @theinkwell. The earlier the people realize that the change begins with every individual, the better.

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