Writing this piece, I am aware that perhaps the biggest lessons and examples in leadership and management in the world today, trapped as it is in a season of crisis are better extracted from the Russia vs. Ukraine war, as well as the Israel vs. Hamas war that broke out subsequently on Saturday, October 7, and the concerted efforts by the international community to safeguard international humanitarian law, the body of legal codes guiding armed conflict. In this regard, we have heard the voices of President Joe Biden of the United States and the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, now on a frantic shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak also in the Middle East trying to make peace from Jordan to Israel and elsewhere. And the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, of whom Josef Stalin in 1943, legendarily, perhaps apocryphally, once asked: how many divisions does the Pope have?
The Pope incidentally does not command divisions. He wields strong moral and spiritual authority, and this is what Pope Francis has done by calling on all the warring parties in the Middle East, this last Sunday, to give peace a chance by respecting international humanitarian law. He has asked for prayers around the world today, Tuesday, October 17, for peace. It is a charge from the Pope for an urgent need for leadership in the world, in the face of the failure, if not the ineffectuality of the divisive United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It is not certain that anyone would listen. The same US that is talking across board, even via back-door channels to China, to rein in Iran, has sent in two military carriers to back up Israel, similarly in Europe the sentiment on official sides is pro-Israel.
Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister has vowed to “demolish” Hamas, the Palestinian militant group and inflict a long and prolonged war. Israel however faces war from three fronts: Lebanon from where the Hezbollah has already fired rockets into Northern Israel, and Israel has retaliated, and also from Gaza and Syria. The fear that the situation could escalate rapidly is well-placed. For more than 100 years, the world has tried to deal with the menace and the barbarity of war by creating structures for managing conflict. It would appear however that the prevailing logic is the position by Carl von Clausewitz, in his book, On War (1943). Clausewitz was a Prussian military strategist whose theory of state was perhaps stronger than his theory of war, given his argument that “war is politics by other means among states.”
The reality is that the world has been torn apart by this corrosive, selfish ambition of states couched in nationalistic terms or as patriotism but nonetheless most of the distortions of the last three centuries and even earlier have persisted. It is a throw-back to the selfish nature of man. Netanyahu, Mohammed Deif and all the other leaders involved in the current conflict claim that they are fighting for their own people’s interests. In doing so, they and their allies are not too keen about the humanity of others. Pope Francis’s intervention is a throw-back to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, the additional protocols of 1971 and 2005 and the guidelines of 2009, which taken together uphold the connecting, common Article 3 of the Conventions to wit that war no matter how tough must have a human face: there must be a humanitarian corridor, as the Pope demands, non-combatants, children, Prisoners of war, the sick and the wounded must be protected, relief providing bodies like the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and others must be allowed access to the distressed and the wounded. In the Israel vs. Hamas conflict, over 4, 000 persons have been killed, more than 3, 000 are injured, over 7, 000 have been displaced, and the casualties continue to increase. Hamas is still bombing Israel. Israel is insisting that hospitals in Gaza must be evacuated. We have seen similar barbarity between Russia and Ukraine. Before now, Russia not only cut off energy supplies to Europe, it also shut down the major global food supply route.
The story of Israel vs Hamas is about “terrorism, evil and hate”. In. 1917, the British, through Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour announced the establishment in Palestine of “a national home for the Jewish people”, and “will use the best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of World War I, the British took control of Palestine until Israel emerged as an independent state in 1947/48. The objectives enunciated by Balfour have never been met since then. Israel has known no peace from Palestinians and the Arab States who object to its existence. The conflict between Jews and Arabs is more than a century old, dating back to ancient times, further made worse by conflicts over historical sites and monuments. Everything came to a head on October 7, with the surprise attack on Israel, on a holy day, 50 years almost to the day after a similar attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria, the Yom Kippur war of 1973. Since then, the world has been scrambling to manage the situation and find leadership. The conflict reminds us poignantly of the failure of leadership from Babylonian times to the British, the United Nations, and the reign of evil/hypocrisy in our world and the increasing helplessness, non-meaning and expendability of man, in a world driven by might and arrogance. Man qua man is the biggest threat to humanity, and world peace. The world has failed Israel, and also the Palestinians.
three months, Nigeria had borrowed $1.95 bn from the World Bank. By last weekend, it was reported that Nigeria was poised to borrow an additional fresh loan of $1.5 billion from the World Bank, what is otherwise called HOPE loan. Who is going to pay? Hope? How? The projected revenue of N10 trillion for 2023 cannot support fresh borrowings. The Senate has asked the government to bring a supplementary 2023 budget, nobody has said anything, perhaps because the lawmakers themselves have been allocated N70 billion for expensive SUV vehicles. Yesterday was World Food Day, food inflation in Nigeria is above 24%, much higher in some of the states. And yet on top of it all, the government continues to make appointments on a daily basis, driving up the cost of governance. One or two Governors have more than 50 media aides, most of them bearing the same titles, doing nothing.
Is the Tinubu government planning to run the country by borrowing? Some commentators have praised the choice of President’s economic managers: Wale Edun – Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Yemi Cardoso – Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Abubakar Bagudu, Minister of Budget and National Planning, but all the praise from the international community about suitability just because these managers appear to be dancing to the tunes of the neo-liberal economists at the IMF and the World Bank would be of no use to Nigeria, if the average citizen can no longer eat bread or corn. Nigerians cannot be fed with rhetoric and platitudes. Can we stop the grandstanding, and do real work? It is a question of management and leadership.
AUTHOR: Reuben Abati
Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.
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