During fourteen consecutive years from 2001 to 2015 at senior levels in the public service at both FG and State level, I worked in close proximity to two Presidents, two Vice-Presidents and two Governors/Deputy Governors, meeting, briefing and traveling with almost all of them regularly.
My experience instilled in me the firm conviction that the most important tasks of a Nigerian Chief Executive (State or Federal Governor or President) are three-fold across two functions – strategic goal setting and personnel selection. He/she must be clear-minded about strategic visioning, critical objectives that must be achieved by the State or FG for the benefit of its citizenry, to enable the largest number of them live well for as long as possible. This is the first task.
Next, the Chief Executive needs people to help with that visioning and the top-level planning/programming to go from here to there. The Chief Executive must choose those who plan and those who execute the plan. Sometimes those in the former class may not be best for the latter. The selection of the individuals to populate these two groups is the next task. I believe that this task, personnel selection, is the most important task of all three.
Then comes the third task. Those people selected and appointed are the few good people who get things done. They are really few. For example, out of the approximately 3,000 appointments that a Nigerian President must make during his four years in over 450 FG MDAs (seen the 2012 Oronsaye Report and the myriad legislation setting up new statutory bodies since then), I doubt that up to 200 across all executive branch MDAs are critical.
At State level, the number is far less. For each of these people comes the toughest task of the Chief Executive – ruthlessly protecting the President’s good people from harm caused by the President’s bad people.
All Presidents have powerful selfish, unpatriotic and I dare say, bad people as well. They will do all they can to undermine the good people and too often they are successful. The President or Governor must protect his good people from his bad people. These three tasks are full-time jobs that are central to being regarded as “successful”.
In those 14 years, one President and one Governor were pretty good at all. Eight years were not enough for either and this is why I don’t like two terms of four years…but that’s a discussion for another day.