Opinion

A General In Lincoln's Likeness

By Nathaniel Udoh. 

150 years might separate them but many students of history would agree that Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari and Former American President, Abraham Lincoln have a great deal in common. Some could be pure coincidence, but some are indeed true similarities; from their background and temperaments to how they rose to fame. Just like Lincoln’s impact on America, Buhari’s present aura of prestige, courage and integrity might turn out to represent the all – Nigerian values and dream the country has been yearning for.

Humble Beginning

Abraham Lincoln came from a humble beginning to rule America. He was born in a single-room log cabin in Hardin Country, Kentucky. His parents were Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His father lost everything when Abraham was young and they had to move to Parry County, Indiana where they struggled to get by. When he was just nine years old, his mother died and his sister, Sarah took care of him until his father remarried.

Abraham had very little formal education, but had a strong interest in books and learning. Most of what he learned was selfeducated and from books he borrowed. Hisfamily later moved to Illinois where Lincoln would set out on his own. As a young man, Lincoln worked a varietyof jobs including shopkeeper, Surveyor, and postmaster. For a time, he even split firewood with an axe for a living.

Muhammadu Buhari just like Abraham Lincoln had a humble beginning as well. Born on December 17, 1942, in Daura, now Katsina State to his father Adamu and mother Zulaihat, the twenty-third child of his father. Basically he was raised by his mother after his father died at the age of four. He learnt the ropes to become a successful soldier and subsequently a political brand we all admire in Nigeria today.

Perseverance and Resilience

Perseverance is the persistent effort to achieve something in spite of difficulties, opposition and failures while resilience is to recover from or adjust successfully to misfortunes and changes. Every good brand must have these two characters – perseverance and resilience – to withstand the dynamics of the market and a competitive business environment.

The former American president Abraham Lincoln, had before he eventually the presidency lost 5 nomination bids into the congress. But through perseverance and resilience he was elected as the American President, in 1860 and got re-elected in1864. In the case of Muhammadu Buhari, from 2003 when he ventured into politics to contest, he failed three times. In 2003, he contested and lost the presidency to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who was seeking his second term in office. In 2007, he squared up again against the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and lost. Same in 2011, when he contested and lost to President Goodluck Jonathan. Undeterred by his resilience, he contested under the APC platform and got elected as the Nigerian president in the 2015 March 28 Presidential election. The character of these two personalities resonates among global personality brands today that have become successful through perseverance and resilience.

Lincoln.PNG2Determination and Doggedness

Most successful brands today took up from little beginnings to become world class brands. Lincoln was not an immediate success but his determination and doggedness eventually won him the U.S. Presidency. Both Abraham Lincoln and Muhammadu Buhari have determination and doggedness as common traits. Although both were unsuccessful at the initial stage of their political career, their determination and doggedness led them to victory. Although the two are separated by a margin of 150 years, these two traits are quite congruent in their characters.

Resolute and Courageous

Every brand that wants to succeed must be ready to demonstrate the ability to withstand challenges from a competitive market space. Lincoln demonstrated this ability in the face of frustration, so did Muhammudu Buhari. Most celebrated brand personalities in the world today like Kenny Trout, Howard Schultz, and many others are the ones that moved on in the face of challenges and frustration to be celebrated.

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Truthfulness and Integrity Personal integrity is saying or standing on ones beliefs, even when there is a bitter price for such action. Brand integrity has four components – vision, action, customer experience and brand reality. A strong brand does all what it promises. Every brand that wants to win customer patronage must show integrity on its brand promise, brand personality, and brand identity to guide against unethical values that will robe off on its image.

On Lincoln, a close associate of his Jesses Fell Wrote: If there were any traits of character that stood out in bold relief in the person of Mr. Lincoln, it was that of truth and candor. Congressman Isaac Arnold also maintains that truth and integrity were indeed the basis of Lincoln’s character. His life story is a proof to the assertion that he never yielded in his fundamental conception of truth to any man for any end. Integrity is noted in the character of Muhammadu Buhari. In 1983, he came into power as a military head of state, and demonstrated strong character as a “no nonsense” brand that stood for truth and integrity, with zero tolerance for corruption and indiscipline. This was also backed up by vision and action.

Remarkably, these indices transformed him into a top brand in the Nigerian political space. His uncompromising stance against social vices contributed immensely to his being elected as the president of Nigeria. But can Buhari drive on this goodwill to chart a new course for Nigeria at this critical period, just like Abraham Lincoln did for America? Only time will tell.

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