The President’s men

May 15th, 2019

BY ABUCHI OBIORA

THE KING AND HIS ADVISERS
Once upon a time, there lived a great king, majestic in his royalty and resplendent in his glory. Feared by his friends and dreaded by his foes, his subjects held him in great awe. Like the Greek mythical character whose physical touch of things turned them into gold, his words were commands and his instructions laws deeply etched with stone in the hearts of his subjects. Like a colossus, he stood akimbo and bestrode his kingdom, riding astride his subjects as he vends his authority within the limits of his whims and caprices.

His reputation earned him the love of a damsel, a princess from another great kingdom, to whom he was ready to bequeath his kingdom- he was deeply in love, and to show it, the king instructed his courtiers to organize a lavish betrothal party where all must be present.

Before the d-day, the king had sought counsel from his retinue of advisers as to how best to appear both in regalia and comportment at the ceremony. They all obliged him out of their wisdom, but fearing his wrath, none of them was courageous enough to tell him all they know about him.

The princess arrived on the d-day, seated by the left side of the king. The king observed she kept a comfortable distance as they seated, always moving away her face from the king’s face each time he learned forward to whisper to her.

Worried after the party because the princess did not give her committal, the king summoned his advisers to ask their opinions about the behaviour of the princess. None of the advisers was courageous enough to tell him what could have possibly been the reason for the princess’ behaviour.

There was a slave boy in the palace who tended the king’s garden. The slave boy admired and loved the king much as he cherished and loved the king’s flowers. Driven by pure love, truth and sincerity, he decided to take the greatest risk of his life. Daring death, he beat all security cordons around the king to whisper to the king’s ear, “Your teeth are smelly?”

Humbled by the truth, the king secretly took corrective measures in hygiene after which he invited the princess a second time. Alas, the king noticed this second time that the princess was literarily all over him, caressing, kissing, and romancing the king to the admiration of the guests. To shorten a long story, the king ordered the execution of all his advisers after the second party to restore his ago and assuade the opprobrium he suffered in the first party. He appointed the slave boy as his chief of staff with the normal duty to appoint new advisers for him.

LESSON FROM NATURE
Perspective as the vantage location of a reproducible work of art is understood by artists as the key factor for the subjective interpretation of an object for reproduction in all artistic expressions. For this reason, perspective in arts is confined to the bio-focal visual advantage of the eyes taken from the object of reproduction.

The principle of perspective is simpler to understand in social sciences than in visual arts. In social sciences, perspective is understood to be the primary factor which determines the interpretation of differing realities for different people. Man interprets his reality within the limit of his spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual perspectives. The
summary of these perspectives of man form his world view.

The fact that Fredrick Nitzche, the renowned atheist philosopher conversed a similar thought in his writings on ‘Perspectivism’ is a confirmation of the universal application
of perspectives in life’s phenomena. The universal application of ‘perspective’ is a proof of synchronicity in differing spheres of knowledge including the administration of human and material resources and this is a testimony to the validity of the advice I shall give here.

As a social mortal being, man is grossly limited in perspective, and by implication, at a great disadvantage to claim absolute interpretation and knowledge of his environment. Man’s limited world view leaves him at the mercy of external judgment to prove or disprove his convictions. Mans views about everything around him is subjective, and must be approved or disproved by the opinions of other people with him. This is why he needs the advice of people freely drawn from his environment.

TRUE REFLECTIONS OF OURSELVES
Like the reflection in the minor, men portray unto one another, the images of their true selves. For example, we may not understand how ugly we look with black spots on our faces unless they are drawn to our attention by other persons. Very often, for fear of losing the friendship of our benefactors, we, like blurred minors, will conceal something and render a partial view, not telling them the whole truth about themselves. This was the case with the king’s advisers in our hypothetical story wherefore deceit and hypocrisy eventually earned them damnation and death.

Like the plain, transparent and not the blurred mirror will reveal us properly, a true, plain and transparent friend will not hesitate to tell us the truth about ourselves. The poor slave boy in our story was rich in virtue. He exhibited love, truth, honesty, sincerity; daring death and escaping it, he got promotion and respect instead.

LESSON FROM HISTORY
Antishenes in 500 B.C. said, “Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes” An enemy, indifferent and impersonal to our affairs will present
the best views on our limitations. So with people who are aggrieved with us? Any wonder, Bill Gates, the Microsoft Chief and software giant with a reputation for pro-action in his professional area of jurisdiction had to instruct that, “Your most unhappy customers are your source of leaning”. Bill Gates confessed that the most important leaps and bounds he recorded in improvements
in his mechanisms came as a result of listening to the complaints of his aggrieved customers.

Still in history, Soichiro Honda burst into wealth in 1959 outselling Triumph and Harley- Davidson brands of motorcycles in their home market in U.S.A after listening to
aggrieved users and improving the always-bursting Honda motorcycle engines along the U.S highways.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT NEED NOT DO
There was so much ado about the president’s men/women of the soon-to-elapse cabinet. Some of them like the formal honourable finance minister did not eventually complete the race. We all know why and how it happened.

The inclusion of a dead man in the first appointment list of his first cabinet was a sign of executive incoherence. It was an early sign, anyway, because incoherence in policy
formulation and execution trailed the years of that tenor. It is expected that the president and his team should be able to co-ordinate better this time around.

The fact that the president of Nigeria, a former soldier, retained himself as the minister of Petroleum during the four years of his first tenor puts a question mark on his view of all the reknowned petroleum scientists that Nigeria may have. It is either that the president felt Nigeria did not have qualified men to head the ministry, or he does not trust any of them enough to handover the ministry to the person’s watch. But most importantly it is the opinion of this writer that the president does not possess a vantage perspective to head the ministry. The president should think twice this time around and seek a qualified Nigerian to handover that office. That is the way it ought to be and the wagging tongues should be calmed with it.

As the president assembles his new team, Nigerians hope not to see a repeat of what happened in the previous tenor where at one time, all the security chiefs were of the same ethnic stock and religion. Though not a perfect instrument for the promotion of excellence in public administration, quota system and federal character formula (I am not a proponent!) is there available as it is presently recognised in the country’s administrative procedure as a means for sharing of the national cake.

WHAT THE PRESIDENT NEED DO
An ancient book, “Unto Thee I Grant…..” advises that “whatsoever thou resolvest to do, do it quickly, defer not till the evening what the morning may accomplish” Nigerians need not wait for 180 days after his inauguration for the president to name his cabinet, as happened in his first tenor. The country must start to run from the date of his inauguration.

While picking his men and women, the president must be weary of praise singers and sycophants. He must look beyond political party lines to get the best for the country. Carly Fiorina believes that “The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potentials of others”. In picking a petroleum minister as in other appointments, the advice of Carly Fiorina will suffice for the president.

The president should be aware that the buck stops in his desk, and the responsibility for success or failure of the government rests on his shoulders. Validivar says, “He is not only idle who does nothing, he is also idle who can be better employed”. There are so many bench-warmers in the president’s present cabinet.

Nigerian treasury should be saved from the resources spent to keep this set of people. Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar-adua, and Ebele Jonathan unlocked the potentials of their men and women. People like Madam (Prof) Okonjo-Iwuala were used to place Nigeria on a resounding economic pedestal. But for corruption which was the albatross of the PDP governments, major micro-economic indices in Nigeria were already pointing to a self-sufficient, people-oriented economy.

Inspite of the malaise of corruption, the PDP had a human face. As a result of PDP’s human face orientation, they benefitted from the goodwill and positive thought forms of Nigerians. People who know this natural law understands it as the secret of that political party. It is also the grand secret to build a great nation with patriot citizens. The aura of
this natural law still trailing the PDP, is the inert force for a possible resurgence of that political party.

Let me quickly talk here in favour of the latent, but potent and unharnessed qualities of women. I have written much about women in a book, “Women: The Mystery, the Secrets” by Rabbi Abram A. ben Uriel, so let me simply re-emphasize my usual stand on women by quoting sociologists that “The position of women in general in any society is an index of human advance”.

I am sure Nigeria is aiming at being one of the advanced countries of the 21 st century, so my advice in this regard is that Nigerian women should not be confined this time around to the kitchen and the ‘other room’. They should be appointed ministers and senior government functionaries, at least, in the ratio proposed at the Beiging conference in the
People’s Republic of China. Nigerian women are capable of holding these portfolios- better than most men would do!

PEOPLE-ORIENTED ECONOMY
The president must listen to this advice to his advantage. What is in vogue in the present day world of increased awareness of people is people-oriented economies. The Peoples’ Republic of China championed this and the world today acclaims that economy as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. India used it to be what it is today. Singapore, an Island stacked with human resources without any natural operates a healthy county today as a result of her adoption of people-oriented policies Uncle Sam, the United States of America, played the big daddy role to the rest of the world and American economy declined. President Donald Trump has come to the rescue-to shrink America to herself and to restore America for Americans. Nigeria’s political mother, Britain had no choice but to listen to her citizens. BREXIT is all about a people-oriented economy.

Why should the present Nigerian leadership be going the other way? Nearer home Maummar Gaddaffi did it in Libya and Libyans sang good songs, though those songs have been reversed today because the forces who naturally would not be happy with it downed both Gaddaffi and his legacies. Back home, our own Gen. Sanni Abacha had the vision but was socially disadvantaged and technically incompetent to succeed in such an enterprise. For this reason, I wrote somewhat that inspite of his dictatorial tendencieswhich was an issue of ago, Gen. Sanni Abacha exhibited signs of a Nigerian patriot.

There was a deliberate broadening of the structural base of the economy through salient infrastructural developments to accommodate sustainable expansion without unnecessarily inducing economic misery amongst the population by the PDP governments. A national government is supposed to be a continuum-a relay match where a political party hands over the baton of leadership to another to improve on a previous record. But it does not happen this way in Nigeria as a result of the acrimonious relationship between out-going and in-coming governments.

What we observe have is always a malicious demolition of the policies of a previous government through induced epilepsy on the policies of government and this is always meant to serve the interest of the new government. When two elephants fight, it is said, the grass suffers. Today, Nigerians are suffering as a result of consistent policy disconnect in the economy.

HUMILITY IN LEADERSHIP
On the importance of using the advantages derived from birth, association, etc, to build one’s career, Sir Isaac Newton, the notable scientist and mystic philosopher had the humility to admit that if he had seen farther than other men, it was because he had been “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

Nigeria do not have such humble leaders as Sir Isaac Newton was, but we know through their biographies and autobiographies that most of our leaders had been taken care of all
their life’s from kindergarten to their exalted offices at the expense of the government and people of Nigeria. They have all stood and seen far from the shoulders of Nigerians.

Any surprise than about the must-rule attitude of some of them, who believe that Nigerians is the grass which themselves the cows, must graze to live.

WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN.
So many years ago, Seneca warned that “it is a great blunder in the pursuit of happiness not to know when you have get it, that is, not to be content with a reasonable measure of it.” Also in his Classic, “Treasure Island”, Robert Louis Stevenson noted that “Happiness is but an occasional episode in the general drama of pain”. My observation about the must-rule attitude of some Nigeria politicians is that the abnormal condition identified and called “a great blunder in the pursuit of happiness” by Seneca could be the reason why many of them decline to vacate their offices as their tenors fall into expiration. But for very few progressive politicians amongst them, must Nigerian politicians fall into this group. My people will say that it is much easier to give water to a thirsty monkey than to retrieve the cop with which the monkey drank the water.

Having lost the track of their original intentions and happiness as they chase the fleeting and ephemeral illusions of the Orchard of life (Ref: “The Flaming Sword” by Rabbi Abram A. ben Uriel), they insist on an endless, elusive, and pyhrric search of the two, preferring to die in office than quit the search. Psychologists will have several ways to describe the actions of this set of people, yet one would reasonably ask whether it is not better to acknowledge seeing farther off from the “shoulders of giants” and assisted down at the propitious time than to be impudent to the shoulders that gave the farther view and crash therefrom?

ALL HANDS ON DECK
Through natural endowments and not by the accident of birth, many commoners in human history have risen to be nobles commanding special respects amongst their peers. Spaces must be created in the system for the nobles-in-making by adopting a level- playing ground that promotes competition.

This level-playing ground should first translate to free and compulsory education for Nigerian children and youths. Mop up the wastes from corruption, you get this thing done. This is one of the reasons why I believe that the quota system and federal character formula is only a first-aid and not the curative pill for the ailments of Nigeria. Many Nigerians who are inspired with ideas did not have the benefit of “standing in the shoulders of giants”, yet driven by patriotism, they proffer solutions to the problems of our mismanaged country.

Secondly, the government must peruse information in both the print and electronic media-especially the private and independent media houses and the views of the opposition-to include these views in the formation of policies.

A PEEP INTO THE PAST
Plurality of perspectives is the print powering factor for the emergence of excellence in all human endeavors. Without knowing the views of other people about their actions, many strong men, inebriate with transient political power like the king in our hypothetical story, will dance naked on the streets in the oppression of the people, not knowing they do so, and the society will become the painted sepulchre where peace of the grave yard reigns. Shah Palevi of Iran, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos of Phillipine, and our own African Idi Amim Dada of Uganda all danced naked in their countries till the great volcanoes they stirred erupted, burned, and buried them and their crowdies as they rode roughshod and flowed against the tide of popular wishes and aspirations of the people they ruled with iron fists.

Human beings are meant to complainant each other to achieve a wholistic perspective. It is also important to know when our perspective is myopic, and when the other perspective will present a better view- to know when to lead and when to be led-even if being led does not suit our fancy.

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