November 28, 2020

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A study in tolerant leadership

5 min read

By Robinson Agaga

TOLERANCE is the ability or willingness to accommodate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with. Without tolerance two individuals will not be able to work together. It cuts across various human endeavours: teams, political parties, tribes, race, religion, etc.

Members of a group have to be able to tolerate excesses of the others in various areas which include opinions, behavioural differences, ethnic group, religion, likes and dislikes, level of competence.

Even at work, for a team to achieve its set out objectives and vision, members have to look beyond their variances and appreciate one another in order to create an environment for all to be able to perform in their full capacity.

According to Timothy Keller, tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you. The ability to tolerate each other defines how well individuals or groups can co-exist and enjoy peace.

The world is undergoing globalisation which is transforming every society and exposing even the most indigenous of the cultures to different ways of life. As this new interaction brings forth constructive dialogues and intercultural exchanges, it also brings with it a wave of inequality, poverty, movements of people and unending civil conflicts. People are rejecting diversity as a weakness and opting for superiority classes and exclusive politics.

Religions are waging wars on other religions in the name of spreading their beliefs. To salvage the situation and to reduce the intolerance around the globe, UNESCO established the International Day of Tolerance to be marked globally every November 16.

The theme for year 2020 is: “Tolerance is Respect, Acceptance, and Appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human”.

This is geared towards creating awareness about accepting one another for the reason that a place where leniency is undermined is always characterised with many inhumane activities which at the tail end result to retrogression, stagnation or under-development.

Among the areas where Nigeria experiences intolerance is politics. Political intolerance has manifested in instability, inter and intra-ethnic conflicts leading to loss of lives as well as the destruction of private and public properties. Politics in this part of the world suggests that the party in power takes all; no member of the opposition party is absorbed or can become part of the winning party’s cabinet.

This also extends to abandoning of programmes and policies initiated by opponents at the other side of the political divide and introduction of new initiatives to replace the former. The act does not foster development, rather it serves as a preamble to underdevelopment and wastage of resources which are mostly insufficient.

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According to Greg Boyle, abject poverty, political instability, torture, and other abuses, push thousands across our borders. There is not a deterrent imaginable that equals the conditions that force their migration. In addition, the attitude of not appreciating others of opposing political ideas results in entrusting sensitive positions in the hands of incompetent allies, thereby encouraging mismanagement of the common patrimony and subjecting the people to abject poverty.

That is where the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has shown remarkable accommodation for the opposition. In several briefings, he had expressed his dislike for vindictive politics. To quote him: “Before politics we were one people and after politics we will remain one people”.

And as he often admonishes, “if we kill each other, who will we rule?” His government is the type that carries all interests along. To confirm this, after his inauguration, Diri conducted an all-inclusive budget planning process which involves the participation of Bayelsans regardless of their party affiliations.

It is designed to ensure accountability and strong collaboration by all stakeholders in stewarding our communal resources.” He noted that citizens’ participation play a vital role of guaranteeing that resources are apportioned sensibly and in accordance with shared vision and values, with a view toward helping all citizens thrive and prosper in a sustainable manner”.

Having served as commissioner for youth and sports, deputy chief of staff, principal executive secretary to the governor, member of the Federal House of Representative and distinguished senator of the Federal Republic, Diri obviously understands the challenges and where Bayelsa State ought to be. This is evident in his not subscribing to playing politics of hate.

At a point where the state is making effort to develop infrastructure, human resources and to diversify the economy from being dependent on crude oil, all hands need to be on deck. All stakeholders need to contribute their quota to steer the state towards development.

At the inception of his administration, Diri extended and continues to extend the olive branch to all aggrieved members, both within and outside the party. In most cases, politicians who defect, because of shame or considering what other party members may think about them, don’t easily take the step of reviewing their decision. In this fix, Diri set up a delegation to meet everyone involved to iron out the differences.

Those who have left the party due to some personal reasons, and opponents who may want to key into his administration, christened “the prosperity government”, are given opportunity. In his words: “Let us eschew bitterness and acrimony and learn to love ourselves, whether of the same party or of different parties.

Primarily, we are brothers and sisters from Bayelsa State.” Being part of the founding fathers of the state, he has demonstrated understanding of the components required to pilot the state to the Promised Land where the dream of all Bayelsans will be realised.

Diri has shown he is a leader who cares about the feedback from the people of the state as it is the only medium where perspectives of the people will be brought to the fore. The issue of disconnection between the top and the bottom in governance has been on the front burner.

Those in position seldom listen to the yearnings of the people as they always perceive it as being masterminded by individuals from opposition parties. Diri has proven that he is for everybody and he listens to the demands of the people by making interventions in accordance with the observations of people.

It is indicative of the nature of the man that he appointed three of his opponents from the governorship primaries into various very senior positions of trust in his government. He insists on looking at the content of their capabilities and not their affiliations.

Whenever his administration has been unfairly criticised, he has preached that tangible results should be used to dispel any contention. You cannot argue with tangible results.

As Brian Cagneey has said: “To achieve great things you must stretch your beliefs, your efforts, and your tolerance. You will have to face new situations with an open mind, eager to reach your destiny.”

Senator Douye Diri has shown tremendous interest in collaborating with others and accommodating the divergent views and factions in his bid to bring the prosperity mantra of his administration to fruition. Little wonder, he is recording such rapid progress to the destiny of making the state “the Glory of all Lands”.

*Agaga, a civil servant, wrote from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State

Vanguard News Nigeria

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