Kumuyi and Africa’s Quest for Servant-Leaders

By Banji Ojewale

MOST OF US agree with Chinua Achebe, Africa’s late literary colossus, that Nigeria’s chief post- Independence headache has been the challenge of leadership. He said in his 1983 book, The Trouble with Nigeria: ‘’The trouble with Nigeria is simply a failure of leadership…

The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are hallmarks of true leadership… Nigerians are what they are only because their leaders are not what they should be…’’

There’s a web of follow-up posers here as we are moved to step into the next stage of the conversation. The questions to be addressed: What’s the manner of leadership deficit? Are concerns arising from restrictions to leadership along the lines of age, gender, religion, tribe, politics, education etc.? In other words, are we having issues because we’ve introduced too many rules that won’t offer many qualified hands to get into the leadership loop?

They’re stopped long before the game even starts. Or is our concept of the matter so ultra-restrictive that we have settled for what I term ‘generational leadership’, that says only family circles and cronies can be in power on a turn-by-turn basis ad infinitum? Of course, none of these ‘models’ has been fruitful or helpful. They have brewed more trouble to lead many to correctly ask that they be displaced altogether for productive options.

Therefore, we were all drawn to Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, DCLM, when he spoke on leadership at the Federal University, Wukari, Taraba, a state northeast of Nigeria, during the March 2024 edition of his Global Crusade with Kumuyi, GCK.

He introduced a new feature of GCK, namely, The VIP Forum, to discuss the topic: The Marks of the Perfect Model of a Servant-Leader.

He had an elite audience: Taraba State Governor, Dr. Agbu Kefas, one of his predecessors, Jolly Nyame, top government officials, university professors, industrialists, administrators, professionals, religious leaders and traditional rulers, among several others.

Kumuyi served them a cocktail which he counsels is conditional to salutary leadership in all spheres of human activity: political office, civil service, industry, religion, home, academics, etc. He strategically interrogates the question of leadership, which, currently, is a burning issue, in all facets of Nigeria and Africa.

And truly, no part of humanity may claim it isn’t in need of beneficial and imaginative guidance from those in authority. It is at the point of leadership that society falls or stands, fails or succeeds, flounders or sails. The fabric of leadership determines the judicious (or otherwise) of management of a people’s resources.

Your riches would end in misery under a bad manager. But where there are meagre means, a creative and self-denying helmsman can create the needed wealth and opportunities for the greatness of the people.

And this is why the General Superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry isn’t talking about leadership without accompanying it with servanthood. What he’s simply insisting is that you can’t have a successful leader who, in practical terms, isn’t stooping. He must stoop to conquer.

Pastor Kumuyi’s spontaneous constituency is the Church and its Leader, Jesus Christ. That’s where the evangelist himself has, all his celebrated life, drawn his own guiding principles.

So, it’s not strange that Kumuyi raises Him as the perfect Model of the Servant-Leader he’s talking about. But let’s be quick to warn that the discourse is not about religion or its activities.

Nor is it about denominational and sectarian leadership. Instead, it has to do with knowing the attributes that made Christ the Supreme Servant-Leader. Today’s leaders, Kumuyi advises, must also possess those qualities for they and those they’re leading to be of mutual benefit. What are some of these traits?

Leaders must be upright. The cleric says: ‘’You cannot be perfect without being upright, and you cannot be upright without being perfect.’’ He refers to Christ as that Perfect Leader, who on account of that all- encompassing rectitude, succeeded in all other areas. Our leaders must also possess this moral (spiritual) bulwark.

Leaders with a moral arsenal, Kumuyi argues, would have the chief priority of selfless service as Christ had, ‘’because many things will call for your attention, but your priorities make you a leader… If you mark the model of Jesus as our perfect leader, we must have a priority (to serve society and the citizens with all energy and heart).’’

Some acclaimed Kumuyi quotes on servanthood in leadership at the session: ‘’In our leadership positions, we must do something redemptive and something that rescues people from where they are to where they ought to be…If you are succeeding, you must have successors, otherwise all the success will be burned after you are gone…As a leader, you should have successors that you do not hide your success secrets or techniques for doing good from.’’

Now, Kumuyi may be throwing all these pieces of teachings at us at his GCK outreaches and during meetings right there in his Deeper Life Bible Church. A religious atmosphere may be the context of his declarations. But when we closely study them, they are lessons we need beyond the precincts of worship places; we need them more for ourselves and for those put in charge of overseeing the institutions of man.

We need them individually in the home and in the community and in our professions as well as in our respective ministries.

Why this man of God is himself honoured here in Africa and worldwide is because he’s moved of God to strive to practise what he teaches. Many were surprised at the Taraba GCK in Wukari that for the first time, the event featured an international Medical Mission.

Impressed by the leadership profile of Kumuyi, some 20 medical doctors, 30 nurses, and over 25 other professionals like pharmacists, dentists, laboratory scientists etc. from USA, UK and Nigeria decided to key into Kumuyi’s vision and provide free medicare for the crusade participants and the people of Wukari.

The takeout here is that a truly serving leader not only improves the lot of his people but also, he is able to draw kindred spirits to his country, who will add value to the land for enduring progress, peace and prosperity.

In Nigeria and Africa, we can change the paradigm for good as our leaders rejig themselves and we all work hard to reform the (s)election process for leaders.

Ojewale is an author and journalist in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria.

Opinions expressed by individual columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of policies of the website’s management.

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