Nigeria: Davido and the Test of Leadership

25 November 2021

Abuja — Continued from backpage

So, despite his personal and family wealth, there are many things Davido could do with what, to many of us, is a jumbo amount of money. But he chose to respect the people who contributed to make him happy on his birthday by yielding the entire sum to those who need it more than him. And he added his own contribution of N50 million. He also did it in a transparent and accountable way. And for that, he taught a significant lesson in leadership.

Like most celebrities for whom there is no place to hide, I am aware that Davido has his failings, and we have many self-righteous people in Nigeria who point them out. But they miss the point. Despite his social status, what Davido did is not too dissimilar from that of Mrs Ngozi Onuegbusi who refused gratification during the last election in Anambra State. She needed the N5,000 offered to purchase her vote. But she also had a choice to make. She could have rationalized taking the money with the usual excuse--'everybody is doing it'. She chose to be different by rising above the poverty of spirit that afflicts many in our country, including those in big public offices who behave like scavengers. Without any expectation of a future reward, she refused to sell her vote. Now, she is richer for that choice with the N1 million cash reward from Governor Willie Obiano.

This less-travelled road is also enormously rewarding for Davido, and I am not talking about the media attention his philanthropic gesture has generated globally. Or the way it will advance his music career. In the world in which we live today, according to Indian writer, Tharini Sridharan, selflessness is no longer just about charity, it is also uplifting. "Ironic as it may sound, selflessness is now an essential survival skill, a skill that relieves, heals and inspires," Sridharan wrote and Davido perfectly understands that because, as many attest, he is by nature a generous person. "So, the next time you're out saving the world, it wouldn't hurt to remember--that the world is, in fact, saving you right back."

In an era when leadership is exercised more through influence than coercive methods, those who inspire commitment to noble ideals are far more important than those who demand compliance to what they might not even believe in. And the former is more impactful. When Davido sent out the first tweet with his account details, I commented in a small chat group: 'Alagbari l'oga mugun' (a popular Yoruba slang to depict how smart people make money off their ignorant peers). But as I followed the story, I saw things differently. Those who contributed money to Davido, despite knowing he is far richer than them, were making their own statement too. Last night, I joined that company by adding my own token of N25,000. And whenever Davido makes such a call again on his birthday in the years to come, he can be sure I will be among those to honour him with my contribution. That is because he has proved himself worthy. He understands accountability, transparency, and the essence of public trust.

At the end, Davido's example stands out for a generation increasingly notorious for selfish showiness, garish ostentation and throwing tantrums, especially on social media. He chose a worthy cause over the transient enjoyment of a Rolls Royce! To corrupt officialdom for whom enough (looted public funds) is never enough, here is a young man of 29 tossing away N250 million to a cause higher than his personal interest. And to the rest of us, Davido has pointed in the direction of the enduring values that uplift a society. It will serve us to pay attention.

AllAfrica publishes around 500 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.