The youngest political appointee in the history of Nigeria is significantly older than Sobhuza II who was saddled with political responsibilities in Swaziland when he was only 4 months old. He remained relevant, active and in the limelight till he died at 82 years old.
This article is crafted for the young and adjudged greenhorns among the newly appointed commissioners in Kwara State.
The opportunity gifted to you has made or marred a lot of young people before you. To which of the groups will you belong? Those who failed because of their young age, or those who succeeded despite their age. Have you gotten to your peak or you have just begun?
As you may already know, four sets of people made frantic efforts to shoot you down when, on 22nd October 2019, your names were announced. Follow me to know who they were and they still are;
This set of people condemned you because there was no way they would have seen otherwise. They either have issues with your personalities, families or the ruling party. It is not abnormal. They may not be bad persons. Their condemnation may not have been borne out of wickedness but rather that of jealousy.
Unfortunately, not all of them said it out. You may still take some of them as your confidants. I can’t help you identify them. Beware!
Even those of us who neither possessed a political party identity card nor attended any political meeting know the key players in the unprecedented victory on which you are riding today. These people were abused but they didn’t mind. They were cursed but they remained prayerful. They were threatened but they were hopeful. Some had planned self-imposed exile in case the election went the other way. Eventually they_won.
They hoped for what they thought they deserved. They were promised by some contacts they made and they, in turn, promised their followers. They were so confident. Unbeknown to them, we have an unusual number one. He is an expert in springing surprises. He does it well.
Now, the number one thinks they will be better elsewhere. Yes, he has the power to decide. And now, he has chosen you. You will do well not to live in denial or pretend that all is well. Certainly, all of those who lost the opportunity to get what you now have can’t be happy or indifferent about your popularly unpopular emergence. It is human. They haven’t erred by being ambitious.
Some don’t dislike you. They love the party and its leadership. Their plight is just that their masters were not chosen. Their aspirations were dashed as your names were announced.
They prayed for their bosses. They did intermittent fasting. They gave alms to the needy so that they can impress God to accept the prayers of their bosses and help them clinch the positions you have now been given on a platter of gold. Some were swindled by the marabouts and they couldn’t claim their money back. If anyone thinks they are not realistic by being positive, the fellow isn’t realistic. They too may wish you don’t succeed.
This last set of people never knew you. The day your names were announced was the first time they heard of you. They had a personally designed threshold for ideal commissioners. They believe an ideal commissioner in Kwara of today, where a good message needs to be sent, must possess some salient criteria. To them, a Kwara commissioner must be a technocrat who is innovative, exposed and convincingly brilliant.
They opined that this is a new Kwara that deserves nothing but individuals with proven midas touch. They believe if competent and capable hands are not employed, the former Senate President will return and they want him no more.
All the required qualifications and criteria are missing in you, as far as they can see. They are disappointed and dissatisfied. Funny enough, most of them belong to no political party. Your CVs are not impressive to them and they think you can’t do it. Your appointer disappointed them.
MY ONE KOBO ADVICE
The reality is that you are now our honourable commissioners. And for now, we are proud of you all. Congratulations!
Kwarans are not expecting miracles from you. We know you can’t know everything. Nobody does. Yet, we know you can’t give what you don’t have. Even for those, among you, who are rated high, they can’t know it all.
Do not underrate the civil servants in your ministries: from the permanent secretaries to the clerks. Take it or leave it, they know more than you do, as far as the ministries are concerned. Meet them. It won’t do you any harm if you sit with them in batches to get the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in actualizing your mandate. Do it!
While doing that, identify stakeholders outside your ministry. Cluster them in groups if you have to. Meet with them. Get the ideal place where your ministry is supposed to be, consider the facilitating and mitigating factors. Deliberate on how to weaken the mitigating factors and how to enhance the facilitating factors. Highlight the steps and sequence them. Act in accordance with the plan and deviate when and if necessary. Open your minds!
Consult wide! Some had played this game before you and they did well. Talk to them, if you have to. Remove the barriers. Forget the political divides. At least, some of you didn’t belong to any party until recently. So, why the discrimination?
Beam your searchlights into the tertiary institutions. There are busy heads and inquisitive brains on those campuses. Some of them will be useful to you, I bet you. Professorship isn’t a joke, anywhere. Whoever tells you, lecturers, are not worth it, take his/her advice with a pinch of salt.
You will not be doing bad if you have a Think-tank made up of a few knowledgeable individuals who are experts in the field of your ministry. Bring them together. Share your policies with them and let them share their thoughts.
Be prudent money managers because what goes around comes around. Those who are trapped in the net today were also once in revered offices. They were also congratulated and celebrated. Some people are wary of holding political positions because of their fathers’ names. Keep yours too.
You need to prove the naysayers wrong. We need to be proud of you and your ‘appointer’ needs to be vindicated. You need to respect people and don’t regard them as hungry wailers. Not all individuals you come across need your money.
Lastly, if you take every piece of advice without your own input, it isn’t good. If you don’t take any advice, too bad. Do not be dogmatic. I wish you all the best.
*Lawal O. Olohungbebe is a Sociologist and humanitarian from Ilorin, Kwara State