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Role modeling is a responsibility each individual owes society for the continuance of a culture of which virtue, ethos and decorum form the foundation. A role model is an individual who is regarded by others, especially younger people, as a good example to follow; a person who is worthy of emulation. It is a social responsibility that cuts across every strata of human society: at each point in time, place and layer of a human society, there are people who are, willy-nilly, performing the function of role modeling. The higher the position occupied in society the wider the spectrum of role modeling. The cultural definition of a role model is a person who serves as an example of values, attitudinal disposition and behaviors that are acceptable for a given role in the society. For instance, a father is a role model for his sons same as a mother is for her daughters. Role models can also be persons who distinguish themselves in their personal endeavor in such a way that others admire and emulate them. For example, a woman who becomes a successful brain surgeon or airline pilot can be described as a role model for other women. In its basic form, role modeling is influential and integral with leadership; it is the silent, salient and most sensitive part of leadership, as its effects and outcomes outlive the model. The persona of the model affects his capacity to be an effective role model.
James Okotu’s only son was comely as a lad; resultantly, he attracted more than his fair share of both positive and negative attention in the community, with the negative tilting the balance very disproportionately. With the abysmal failure of corporal punishment as a means of correcting his son, James and his wife, Virginia, opted for psychologizing the outgoing teenager. One day, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (“Zik”) came to their community on political campaign for the defunct National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) and the young lad, Enoch, was chosen to perform a conspicuous role at the occasion. At the end of the event, James and Virginia woke their son at 3am and James said thus: “Do you know why they chose you for the presentation? It’s because of the way you look and the way you talk. Do you know that, with your gifts, you can be like Zik and everybody will be praising you? And do you know that you are more important to me than Zik? The truth is that you are my Zik and much more”. James started crying, Virginia joined, and so did Enoch. Following this emotion laden monologue, Enoch’s behavior changed; he became serious with his studies and conscious of his social environment. He never became president of Nigeria but he shaped up as a person and, eventually, rose to the rank of a professor. Note that James looked beyond his humble level and invoked the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a model for his son and it worked. Another real life instance, this time from a different clime, is the case of William Jefferson Clinton of Hope, a city in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Clinton admired President John F. Kennedy (JFK), the 35th President of the United States (US). Clinton defended JFK in a ninth-grade debate and desired to talk, walk and be like him; that frame of mind consumed every breath he took, every word he spoke and every move he made. An excellent saxophonist and very good mimic of Elvis Presley as a teenager, Clinton jettisoned his dream of a career in music and opted for public service to “put things together, [and] make it better for people” after watching the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fixated with the above conviction, Clinton seized the opportunity of being a delegate to Boys Nation while in high school, to have a handshake with President John F. Kennedy in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 24, 1963; he was seventeen. That encounter strengthened his resolve to enter a life of public service.
Two Presidents of USA; 1963 Iconic photo
In later years, the above iconic picture of teenage Clinton and President John F. Kennedy was referred to as a handshake between two presidents because, thirty years after, William Jefferson Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd President of the US on January 20, 1993. At 46, Clinton became the third youngest president and first to be born in the Baby Boomer generation. Bill Clinton, the two non-consecutive term governor of Arkansas, was reelected to a second term as president thereby achieving a feat no other Democrat had since the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidency (1933-1945), which predated the birth of Clinton. He considered himself a “New Democrat” and was frequently referred to as the “Comeback Kid.” Few Presidents presided over the greatest level of economic prosperity since the early 1960s. The numerous achievements of Clinton are products of positive role modeling by JFK.
So I ask: If the allegations of false secondary school and university certificates, age, parentage and that of conviction in a drug related offense in the US leveled against Bola Tinubu are true, what type of role model will the ruling class have hoisted on millions of Nigerians with a Tinubu presidency? Obviously, this will send a very wrong signal to our youths and the damage to the nation’s psyche will be formidable, unfathomable and irreparable, and will linger endlessly. The image of Nigeria in the international space will suffer immensely and, virtually, irredeemably. Today, barring the conviction in a drug related offense, one ailing President whose certificate was never found has midwifed a globally condemned election that delivered an ailing President-elect the authenticity of whose certificate is as questionable as his background, parentage and age. Invariably, the message being sent to the highly impressionable youthful minds of Nigeria is that education is a distraction; after all, you can occupy the highest office in the land without proof of formal education. To compromise the educational system of any nation is the easiest way to destroy it.
Jason Osai can be reached via email@example.com