By Hashim Suleiman
Let me start this piece with borrowed words from His Excellency Kashim Shettima, former Governor of Borno State who posited that “when you give power to a dull person, he gets chased by his shadows and sees everyone as his enemy”. These are the kinds of situations that weaken institutions in our climes and we are struggling to see a functional lot of them.
When weak and dull people assume a position, two things come into play, one is getting drunk over it and the second is not understanding the reality of its transience and so rather than key into the real essence of the institution they have found themselves in by galvanizing support of the professionals and those with KnowHow, they resort to inserting their personalities as a replacement of the supposed essence thereby disrupting any institutional development and bringing about a culture similar to their personal thoughts.
Therefore, excellence is jettisoned and you begin to see critical and non-critical human resources fall over themselves to sycophant towards the principal for the sole purpose of catching his/her attention for recognition. Other vices that are popular with such a setting are fear, envy and people bringing one another down because that is what the principal is preoccupied with; search for non-existent enemies within a supposed team.
Leaders with such character tend to forget things like Federal Character, Capabilities, Excellence, the importance of strong institutions to them and further which they will be part of as well as the growth of the country in general. Their myopic mentality will engulf the institutions and their mindset gradually becomes a culture that may not be able to be fixed by even those who come with purposes.
The above scenarios play out in almost all the institutions in Nigeria because, at one point or another, such kinds of characters have superintended over them and instituted their myopia as a culture. Offices have been reduced into places where there are clicks and groups. Places where some others are waiting on an opportunity for an act of revenge while the few ones with the KnowHow have had their zeal eroded and they have resorted to onlookers who observe and hoping for a day of rescue if it were to ever come.
One thing that can be said to be missing in Nigeria is the sound skill for the recruitment process. We most times mix up paper qualifications and capabilities and get confused over them all. In some cases paper qualifications are alright but not without the requisite experience. And other times requisite and cognate experiences can in them be enough with too much paper qualifications to back them up. But ultimately also, a character is key, and this can be known and assessed through the vetting of antecedents.
In Nigeria, what makes matters worst is the docility of the citizenry who do not understand these issues talk less of questioning them. We are a people who can easily get wowed by empty packaging, we get too excited over cosmetic dressings without actually digging deep in with critical questioning and vetting. No leader can succeed without sound institutions and these institutions are made and not found on a platter. Sound people filled with cognate experiences build long-lasting institutions and the citizenry needs to in one way or another get to recognize this.
Nigeria’s major problem today is the lack of sound institutions, especially the very critical ones. And it has to be understood in clear terms that experiences and competencies are not very common most times you would have to pay huge fees for them, you would have to seek for them and you would require the skills to identify them and place them appropriately when you do get them. The public and civil service have to be filled with them. There is no shortcut to it.
It is even more expedient for ya to recognize the need to build these institutions after all the realities that the COVID-19 has made us realize about our nation. These conversations are essential so that someone somewhere will read to have some positions they can share somewhere which would be put into practice for the love of our dear nation.
Nigeria is blessed to very brilliant and intelligent people but with no proper selection process that would place people appropriately. We can get better with this amongst numerous other issues.
May God bless Nigeria
Hashim Suleiman writes from Abuja and can be reached via email@example.com