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Dr. Debretsion is the President Tigray deserves

Dr. Debretsion is the President Tigray deserves

Yohannes Aberra, PhD

09-26-20

For the first time in the history of the ancient land in northern Ethiopia leadership is earned rather than taken. Dr. Debretsion's name will go to the history books as the first President of Tigray who first proved to the people in practice that he can lead them through hard times and was as a result given the chance to continue doing so. There have been several leaders in the world who sat on thrones by the force of arms, by treachery, by the power of money, and by hereditary claims. Many take power by promises which in most cases are not fulfilled. There have also been leaders who have earned it by the good things they did for their people prior to their coming to the helm. George Washington led Americans to freedom; but just returned home. Americans knew that he was the one to be their leader as they saw that he was acting like any ordinary American, despite so much of bravery and military skills.

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I am not writing this to make a king of Dr. Debretsion. This article is far from being a cult building campaign. A long time ago I have convinced myself to be in a strong position to give the devil its due and the angel the blame it deserves. Political affiliations, football-fan like emotional support, revenge motivated alliance, and narrow parochialist sentiments all put aside, I have been critically following Dr. Debretsions interim leadership of Tigray. By the time he is elected to the presidency, I have already reached the conclusion that he is the one and not any other! It is hard for me to put all my observations in adjectives describing him as a person and as a leader; but there are a few things that glare more brightly than others.

The challenges Dr. Debretsion faced were so novel that there were no tested methodologies available for solving them. Like Vasco Da-Gama he was leading the navigation of uncharted and stormy waters of politics in Ethiopia, which have become unpredictable from the outset. It is here that leaders emerge and rise or perish. In this context leadership requires patience, innovativeness, devotion, sense of sacrifice, balance, goal orientation, and genuine love for the people. The latter is more important than the rest. Even at local level community leaders dim or shine depending on how much respect they get from the people. Not by how much people fear them! The love and trust the people of Tigray have got for Dr. Debretsion is unmistakable. There is no sign at all that Dr. Debretsion as feared by people. Even the enemies of TPLF seldom mention his name in their harsh criticism on TPLF. He has succeeded to be a consensus figure, a fact admitted even by his opponent Dr. Abiy Ahmed. It is rare worldwide not to put as central the leader of a ruling party or the head of the government in the struggle against it.

TPLF is badly characterized by factionalism induced by economic, social, spatial, and political drivers. These have been having expressions in the intricate networks woven by corruption and nepotism. Dr. Debretsion has been leading a party and a government by skillful rope balance. There are ultra-radicals who are eager to return external threats in kind and disturb systematic handling of explosive issues; there are groups who try to solve problems by becoming problems themselves; there are also others who see only political and economic gains in whatever political activities they are engaged in, and hence, compromise the basic interest of  people as people.

Dr. Debretsion is the leader of the people of Tigray from the an understood to the unknown. It is hard to imagine how much adventure is involved in the tortuous and problem infested path leading to it. It is impossible to ensure success; neither does it hinder marching boldly towards it. The personality of Debretsion is an opportunity; but Tigray cannot afford to be single handed. If the latter fails to produce many many other Debretsions+ it would be a huge challenge for sustainability if not for survival. Tigray failed to be able to replace Yohannes IV as if he was a living bronze statue. This lesson must be learnt and learnt well! Selfless leaders produce other leaders better than them. The future requires better leaders because the future holds greater challenges as society rises to higher levels. Selfish leaders intentionally or unintentionally produce lesser leaders than them rendering the future darker than it is today. The concept of "golden ages" describes nations led by selfish leaders who want to be remembered in history as the greatest of all. Although I am not a mind reader or a prophet, my observation have given me the confidence that Dr. Debretsion can deliver and lead the people to the "promised land" (the land of milk and honey): the land of industries; sustainable cities; green fields, mountains and valleys; and people with high standards of living who threw poverty into history.

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