By Damiete Braide
A leader ought to know how to address citizens in the face of crisis, but this is lacking in many leaders from different parts of the world who, rather than inspire the people to meet most of their aspirations, erode their hope and confidence.
One leader who distinguished himself during the Coronavirus pandemic by creating a model for leadership in the COVID-19 era is Pope Francis, the sovereign of the Vatican City State and the first Pope to be a member of the Society of Jesus (SJ).
His sterling leadership quality during COVID-19 pandemic has been documented in a book, The Pope And the Pandemic: Lessons in Leadership in Times of Crises, written by Dr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, president, Jesuit Conference of Africa-Madagascar. It was recently launched at Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, with Jesuits Priests from North-West Africa and other parts of the world in attendance.
Chairman of the occasion, Omooba Adesina Buraimoh-Ademuyewo, bemoaned leadership in Africa, arguing that what “we need is leadership that sacrifices itself for its people, and the solution to our leadership problem is preparation. People must be genuinely willing to serve.”
Sharing the motivation for the book, the author said, “The inspiration came from the crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic; and, seeing the example that Pope Francis gave of leadership, I felt that example needed to be widely shared and made available to our leaders who themselves were thirsting for a way to respond to the crisis that is hurtful to the people who were affected by it.”
He said further, “The pandemic really revealed other pandemics like pandemic of poverty, complete collapse of socio-economic infrastructure, and dysfunctionality of politics. These are kinds of pandemics that make it difficult for people to respond in a time of crisis. In the case of Nigeria, there seems to be a general lack of empathy. The health infrastructure was certainly dysfunctional and inadequate to the crisis, and that should be a situation a leader should never allow to happen in his/her country.”
Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, described the book as an interesting title. Represented by Monsignor Anthony Obanla, Chancellor of Archdioceses, Martins said, “We are all leaders within our own sphere. Leadership is all about providing service to the people, beaming a torch light of hope for them to fulfill destinies. So, the book is central to good leadership in times of crises. In good and bad times, hard and peaceful times, a good leader would always be in control and we saw that of Pope Francis as documented by Orobator in his writing of the book for us.”
The reviewer of the book, Prof. Chris Ugbechie Dean, Lagos Business School, described it as exciting and interesting, as, “The author set out to use the words and actions of Pope Francis to show us his leadership style during the global crisis and his key lessons that could be of benefit to leaders in all spheres of society.”
Divided into six chapters, the reviewer noted it was a product of painstaking, extensive and intensive research.