Leadership has been described as the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.
Definitions inclusive of nature of leadership have also emerged. Alan Keith of Genentech states that, “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen. According to Ken “SKC” Ogbonnia, “effective leadership is the ability to successfully integrate and maximize available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational or societal goals.”
Leadership is “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal.” The leader may or may not have any formal authority. Students of leadership have produced theories involving traits, situational interaction, function, behaviour, power, vision and values, charisma, and intelligence among others.
Leadership accountability describes the personalization of protest and questioning concerning “up system” responsibility for political violence; corruption; and environmental and other harm. There is similar “second track” movement, challenging local power elites in public service, the workplace, and religious organizations.
Traditionally, leaders and other power elites have not seen themselves accountable as individuals. They were either above the law, as sovereign – (“the King can do no wrong”) or they had immunity just because they were leaders. Alternatively, they were considered mere representatives of a state or a community which, it was believed, carried the responsibility for any wrongdoings
Accountability is about setting the expectation, clearly communicating it, and then holding yourself and everyone within your sphere of influence responsible for consistently meeting the established expectations. Accountability is a process, with a beginning and an end. It is not about telling people what you expect them to do, then quickly moving on to the next thing.
Working with the widely accepted definition of democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people, it follows that the people are both the means and end of democracy. It therefore goes without saying, that situating the protection and promotion of the human rights of the people at the core of all democratic activities and expectations remains the central aspiration of democracy.
As Nigeria grapples with the challenges of constructing a democracy, it is important that the citizens and communities are mobilized to imbibe, develop and entrench a culture of rights-based approach to leadership accountability.
In doing this, it is important to look at leadership accountability in a democracy from the fundamental human rights prisms. Leadership should be held accountable for the observance, protection and promotion of the following rights among others;
1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
2. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
3. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
4. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
5. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
6. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will, shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
7. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
8. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
9. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
10. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
11. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
12. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
It is the individual and collective duty of the citizens to insist on, and hold the leadership at all levels and in all sectors accountable to the full realization of these rights among others. The standard of living of the citizens at all times is determined by how well they execute this duty. The ball is in the citizens’ court.