Solving Problems In The Distance: Timeless Lessons in Political Leadership
By Adebayo Komolafe
The year is 15th March, 44 BC, and the great Julius Caesar lay helplessly on the floors of the Roman Senate, soaked in his own blood. He is gasping for his life after 60 Roman senators had conspired to assassinate him and thereafter stabbed him 23 times during a Senate session. One would ask how could a well-respected icon die such an awful death?
Bewildered, one would think again: How could Caesar, who is so revered across the world and so honoured and loved by his own people, die in such a cruel way? Some more context, you would understand how important Caesar was in ancient history if you remember the reference to Jesus of Nazareth when he said, “Give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar”.
The man, Caesar, was that solid. He had won eight major military campaigns, including the Gallic War at the Battle of Alesia, after an out-of-the-box strategy that saw 40,000 Roman soldiers defeat their 250,000 adversaries. He went on to conquer Egypt, a world power at the time and installed Cleopatra as their Queen. This and many more conquests by Caesar cemented Rome as a global force.
Fast forward your time to October 20, 2011, and a similar story in modern history is playing out in Northern Africa, particularly Libya. Muammar Mohammed Gaddafi is seen begging for his own life from Libyan militias who were ready to kill him; he helplessly asks them, “What have I done to you?”. He was afterwards mutilated and ultimately died a very disgraceful death.
How did these two people find themselves in such a situation? First, while Caesar was busy winning wars and expanding Roman territory, the Roman senators at home were beginning to get terrified by the powers the young Julius Caesar was amassing through the people power his numerous conquests gave him. And so they wanted to cap him and put him in “check”. This ultimately led to them conspiring and eventually assassinating him. Gaddafi, on the other hand, was, among many things, fighting for the progress of Africa and contributing to its advance through multiple avenues that didn’t exactly align with the interests of Western Powers. NATO saw his power as a threat, and a series of events led to them enacting Resolution 1973 that saw them deploy NATO forces into Libya to support the militias, which ultimately brought him down.
What was the aftermath of this- Rome went into a deep civil war that ultimately led to the beginning of the end of the empire. Libya became a shadow of itself, and one decade later, a country of abundance became a war zone with several civil unrests still unsolved. Many people have noted that Libya was better when Gaddafi was leader than now, 12 years later. President Hussein Barrack Obama’s post-presidency ultimately confessed that Libya was his greatest mistake while in office.
The lesson in history here is this: Most of the time, what needs to be fixed can be fixed in the long run. Many lasting damages can be avoided if we strategically let patience, negotiation and constructive political leadership lead the way. Libya is unstable today and may not regain its balance in many years to come. Rome, on the other hand, was gone for good. A leader must play his game for the greater good of the people; the good of the people must be the ultimate litmus test because, truthfully and honestly, every other business can be solved in the distance.