What would ‘Trump’ ‘Clinton’ – leadership or character

By Zuriel Oduwole, Contributor   |   30 August 2016   |   3:50 am  

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Hello and Happy August month to you all. I am a lot more excited writing this, being my second editorial for you all to read. I hope you enjoyed the last one titled “Where Are Africa’s Youth”. By the way, we are here. So this time, I am going to talk aboutLeadership, and a little about its first cousin - Character. I know a little bit about this subject, having met and interviewed 19 world leaders myself already.

Most of us know by now that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are preparing for the United States Presidential race come November 2016. So, no matter who wins the election, history would be made one way or another. Hillary Clinton would be the first women to become president of the United States, and Donald Trump, at age 70, would become the oldest non incumbent person to become president (not to mention that he would be the first reality TV star to take that position – although that some might say that as he is running for office now, he is staring in his own new reality show as we speak).

Some things that voters look for is Leadership, and how well they think that the presidential candidate would do leading the country. Then they study Character. Now Hilary Clinton has had a lot of experience when it comes to leadership. She has held office as a New York senator, and as Secretary of State to the US. So when it comes to passing certain laws, and working with foreign policy issues, Hillary Clinton has experience. Donald Trump on the other hand, has a lot of experience when it comes to business, since after all he is a business man. He might be able to make decisions that would have effects on the US economy.


One of these two would become the 45th President and the decisions they make from January 2017 as the new leader of the US would affect the rest of the world, and that includes West Africa, including Nigeria.

Now about this incredible country with amazing potentials called Nigeria, what does the word Leader or Leadership mean? How do the citizens define Character. I read somewhere one very interesting African phrase about when you are shopping for fish in the open market, and this is what it said. “If the head of the fish is good, chances are that the rest of the fish is good”. If the head of the fish is bad, chances are the rest of the fish is bad”

Since we are talking about fish, you all know there are various types of fishes, and different sizes of fishes, and each one in its own ecosystem. Salt water Fish, fresh water fish etc. So let’s take a small ecosystem, like a small aquarium with about 25 different types of fishes. If the main Fish in the aquarium is good, maybe kind, and always interested in the well being of the rest of the fishes, then there is a good chance that the rest of the fishes would see this as an example of how to live.

Now, lets look at a huge ecosystem of maybe millions of fishes, various colors, sizes, species etc. There would probably be one main fish or a group of fishes in charge, and then many others as smaller leaders, and then the regular fishes. The same thing applies, like the small aquarium of 35 fishes. If the lead fishes are great in Leadership, and Character, then there is a good chance the rest of the millions of fishes would learn from the lead fishes in the huge ecosystem. One main quality for any leader I would say, is the word SELFLESS.

The same thing applies to Nigeria.
I know the youth are the future, and it is very true. It is a given. Just ask those in Leadership today where they were in 1960, or 1966, or 1975 or even 1980. They were looking up to those in leadership then. So, as smaller fishes with little control over the ocean, what lessons are the youth learning from the fishes in charge and in control of everything today. Has anyone ever asked the youth, “what does it mean to you” when you see in the news that some one or two people or a few people have taken a lot of money that did not belong to them. How does it make you feel. Then, you read in the news much later that nothing has happened to those who took what belonged to everyone, for themselves. Now how does that make the youth feel. But this is the strangest part. Somehow, they expect the youth, who would manage the country’s resources in a few years’ time, to just ‘Magically” be different from those who are in Leadership today.


Yes, I just turned 14, and I have a lot, lot, lot to learn, but somehow, I don’t believe the youth would magically be different from what they see the current leaders do.
Nigeria’s football team at the Rio Olympics beat Denmark to move into the semis. it was great news then - right, but do you remember they only just barely made it to the first game after several days delay in Atlanta, or that they were going to boycott the match they won against Denmark because the coach had not been paid for months and the players were owed allowances. It was all over CNN and other global news networks. How can these things happen? What happened to the money and why would anyone not want to pay for work done. Who is the Leader here? Where is the overall Leadership in Nigerian Sports? They whole world was watching. It was Embarrassing, really, it was.

One of my good friends is President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana. Yes, he is 66+ but I call him my friend. I have met him 3 times already, and he was the first President I ever met and interviewed when I was 9 years old. I learned a lot from him. He asked me a lot of questions about why I was doing what I was doing, and what I wanted to be when I got older. I met him once also at the African Union in Addis Ababa, and we spent some time talking in the hall between plenary meetings. I can still see the faces of all around him wondering ‘why was he talking to this young girl’.  I was 10 years old at the time. I just felt special. I’m sure you would too.

He asked me to always visit him whenever I am in Accra, and I did last year in March when I was 12. He had just returned from South Africa. He is so cool. He is funny too, but very, very serious. He still talks to me about Africa, Africa’s current leaders, and what he dislikes about Africa. Sometimes, he gets upset taking to me about Africa’s leaders. I didn’t understand this when I was 9, but I began to read the papers more, watch BBC Focus on Africa and other African news even more, and I do understand this a lot more now. There is a Character issue in Africa’s Leadership.

A few months ago I met Guinea’s President – His Excellency Mr. Alpha Conde to talk about the recent Ebola epidemic that started in his country, and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. To my surprise, halfway through the interview, he steered the topic towards leadership, and the future of Africa with or without the right leadership. I liked where he was going with it.

Now as I asked earlier, What Would ‘Trump’ ‘Clinton’. I think when it all comes down to the wire, it would be about Leadership, and then Character. Leadership of the election team, Leadership of the campaign, Leadership within their teams, and Leadership in communications. Let me dream and wish for just one moment, after all, it doesn’t cost anything to dream – Right!! So, if Mrs. Hillary Clinton were to win the presidential race, then she would become the 45th President of the United States of America, and would be the first women president of the US. If this happens [and it really can], then it would show girls and women everywhere that they can do and become anything that they want to, even if it seems impossible, or hasn’t happened before. This is one of the reasons I started my Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up project in 2013. I wanted to tell this generation that nothing is impossible, if they start by believing that they can do it. I also want them to know that if they have dreams and do everything they can to achieve their dreams - no matter how farfetched it may seem, then they would be successful. As the saying goes, “Don’t tell me the sky is the limit, when there are footprints on the moon.”


One very important issue, and one that I am very passionate about is education. I think that whoever becomes the next President of the United States of America should make sure that children are getting a good quality education, and doing this might influence other countries around the world to also focus on and consider the education of the children in their countries, since the policies that are made in the United States, can have major effects on the policies that are made everywhere else in the world, including Nigeria.

I can’t say who would win the presidential election. I can’t say who is best to lead the United States. What I can say though, is that we need the leaders of today to focus on the children and prepare them for what is yet to come in the future. We need leaders to make the world a place that is safe for the next generation. We need people to make a path for the next generation to follow. We need leaders who care more about the total citizens, than they care about themselves. That is called being [Selfless], and the opposite of that is being [Selfish]. I like the first one better – being Selfless. Can anyone tell me how many of Nigeria’s leaders, at the national, state, city, town or local government levels are selfless. I am waiting for that number. I’m sure you are too.

What would “Trump” “Clinton?”. It would all come down to character and leadership, the same two things Nigerian leaders either have a lot off, or lack a lot off - you be the judge. But, November is just three months away. So if you ask me this question then, I would guarantee my answer to you at that point.
Happy summer holidays. See you in September.



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