OPINION: SARS, youth and power of initiative

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By Akindotun MERINO

“Initiative is doing the right thing without being told” Nigerian youth have taken to the streets of Lagos and other states, which cumulated in the dissolving of the police malware SARS. For the sake of clarity, SARS is the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a branch of the Nigeria Police Force under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID). The squad deals with crimes associated with armed robbery, car snatching, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and crimes associated with firearms. Demonstrators have taken to the street across the country demanding to be heard.

SARS are accused of all types of atrocities including torture, killings and plain harassments. Nigeria is a country of young people. The youth percentage in Nigeria is close to 70% while those over 65 years are about 2%. Yet this prodigious group is governed by those who have squandered their future and have no interest in leaving them a prosperous country. We’ve been asking our youth to harness their unified power to make their impact felt in the country. I am glad they have harnessed the power of initiative Initiative is a power skill that is needed not only in organizations but in communities. Initiative is needed in this great country of ours. It is what will set us apart as a nation.

Our leaders refuse to take initiative on even the basic societal needs. We still struggle with basic infrastructural problems like roads, water and electricity. People are afraid to take the initiative, but if you can, you will stand out. Initiative is deep down inside all of us, but the successful ones are the ones who use it. It is important to know what initiative is to properly utilize it. Initiative is defined as the ability to assess and initiate things independently. In other words, it is taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you. It is stepping up, and going beyond your typical duties.

Take charge of situations before others do. You may not want to step out of your comfort zone, but usually you will be rewarded for doing so. It is thinking outside the box, preparing for success, capitalizing on opportunities. It is making changes to take a step forward and being persistent. This is an important concept for all of us to grasp. SARS was disbanded because of this uprising. All officers and men serving in the unit will be redeployed to other police commands, formations and units. That is not an initiative by the government. Initiative involves going beyond the call of duty.

Reshuffling a corrupt unit does not solve the problem, it simply means that we stirred the pot of stew, the pieces of meat are still intact. An example of taking initiative would be to institute a retraining programme that ultimately challenges the statuesque and violent iterations in the unit. Initiative would be committing monies to the programme and have a target goal of becoming the best police force in Nigeria. Our youth have taken initiative by taking to the streets because it’s the only change mechanism available to them. They and the rest of us must learn this lesson in our personal lives.

In life, taking initiative offers many benefits. It is a positive step that anyone can take for themselves. Only you can take the initiative for yourself, so ensure you do it. Taking the initiative provides individuals with a sense of self-control both in their personal and professional lives. No one is going to offer you opportunities if you do not deserve them, so stepping up will make all the difference in your life. In your personal life, it may benefit you by helping you feel more confident with yourself. In your professional life, it may help you get that coveted promotion.

In either aspect of your life, it will promote better things. Taking initiative promotes: Control, achievement,confidence,proactivity, inspiration,self-awareness,creativity and fear-busting. Not everyone is comfortable with taking the initiative, or even knows how to do so. It is something that is developed mentally and takes strength to do. Some individuals have a bounded rationality. These individuals are unable to see past what they currently know. They cannot see the benefits of stepping up.

Typically, the individual has never thought about it. Also, individuals do not take the initiative due to a lack of capability. Outside their general knowledge, some individuals do not possess the expertise to take the initiative for a more difficult task. Execution over innovation is also another popular reason that individuals do not take initiative. These individuals only focus on their own work, and do not have concern for any new tasks.

Finally, some individuals are too busy to take the initiative. There is already too much on their plate, and they physically and mentally cannot process anymore work. Reasons for not taking the initiative: Bounded rationality,lack of capability, execution over innovation and task overload. It is our duty to make initiative a priority in both our professional and personal lives. To make initiative a priority, we must first understand what it is and what its benefits are. Once we understand this, we can take the leap forward. To make taking initiative a priority, we must watch for opportunities.

We must be aware of our surroundings, and what can potentially be a fantastic opportunity to do so. In your professional career, if you see that your boss needs help with something, offer it! Show that you are a go-getter. Take the extra step when you can! People will take notice of your initiative, and you will be rewarded positively. As a country, I hope this is the beginning of greatness. The sleeping giant has finally risen to the light of their call. Let’s be hopeful.

Prof. Merino writes from the United States.


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