Dikko’s honourable act and the lessons for all



SIR: Following the demise of Ooni of Ife, Nigerians were regaled with the story of Abobaku of Ife, who in accordance with ancient custom, was supposed to be buried with Oba Okunade Sijuwade who recently transited to meet his ancestors.

The escape of Abobaku trended for days if not weeks, in the Nigerian media space and many people within and outside Nigeria became aware of its historical antecedent. But while we were still trying to resolve the ambiguity behind the existence of the Abobaku custom, the Comptroller-General (CG) of Customs, Inde Dikko Abdulahi, voluntarily retired from service with two years left.

At a time when many people will prefer to be the Abobaku in power of an office/appointment, Dikko chose to quit a lucrative post. There have been several CGs before Dikko, and there will be many thereafter; but to quit voluntarily is an uncommon practice in Africa where power and position intoxicate absolutely. Several commentators have adduced different reasons for his quitting the job, but nothing from the Presidency suggested he was pressured or asked to resign.

However, the most fundamental issue surrounding Dikko’s departure is his reason for leaving a system he served for 28 uninterrupted years. “…This decision is taken with a view to allowing young bloods to take over the mantle of leadership of the Service in order to sustain and improve on my legacy.” Many Nigerian youths will readily applaud that line of thought contained in Dikko’s resignation letter.

The strategic function of leadership is to produce more leaders; and by this virtue, Dikko has demonstrated a unique attribute of a great leader. There is no better way to set an agenda for an organisation you cherish with all your heart and a nation you love so much. Indeed, a leader becomes a myth by the task he sets for a system to flourish.

Dikko has created a path for a new beginning at the Nigeria Customs Service. It was a worthy sacrifice and a momentum which the new administration must seize to redesign and reorganise the service to meet the needs of the nation.

The major anxiety in the land is how to evolve a new nation that works and which will allow those who have the requisite capacity to drive the system. That is the essence of leadership.

The only thing that is fundamentally constant in the life of man is change. There is nothing more honourabe for a public officer than to bow out when the ovation is loudest.
•Abdullahi Dikko,
The Leaders Institute,
Abuja, FCT

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