In my entire travels and research, I have never seen a society that relies so much on bandwagon, hear-say and clichés albeit for the most negative reasons. I cannot claim not to have been affected in the past; however, I was able to fizzle out of it by learning to look more critically into matters even though it was not easy doing so. It is like a tsunami that is capable of swallowing anyone no matter how high.
The President has just appointed the new Chief of Staff in the person of Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, a person with visibly very sound social and academic exposure as showcased by his viral CV. What is to come out of it is in the hands of time, we shall choose to observe more keenly and objectively this time around. However, worthy of note is the buzz that the office had created around the country for the past 5 years especially regarding the presence of a Cabal around the presence with the predecessor of the office being regarded as the head of it.
If one is not careful, he could be caught up in the web of the existence of such a cabal as bandied all around the nation until it became some sort of a cliché to both the young and the old. For some of us who have chosen to be more critical, we chose the opportunity of the demise of Mallam Abba Kyari to make a further search on the office of the Chief of Staff which was copied from the USA and the one they fondly refer to as the Gatekeeping Office.
As Chris Whipple said in the book The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, that “When the government works, it is usually because the chief understands the fabric of power, threading the needle where policy and politics converge”. The vocal Professor Jideofor Adibe likened it to a job of ‘blocking and tackling’. You cannot borrow an office and its nomenclature and leave out its responsibilities.
Going from the above, it would have been unfair for anyone to expect anything more than the initial Chief of Staff had brought and the one that the in-coming will bring judging from his early comments of intent to serve only the President and his interests. A cursory look into why Nigerians associated the office to being a cabal in a negative way showcased that the performance of the job of balancing policy and politics which Nigerians understand only to mean sharing of the largesse of power would always create issues but again this a matter of balancing sharing of largesse and a need for credible advice over a nation that is in dire need of the critical policy. That is not to say something would not have been done better as is with any endeavor.
Therefore, it clearly shows that it is Nigerians who have developed themselves into a cabal of non-critical thoughts, unfair and biased judgment, less strategic political oppositions and whatnots. The basic reason for the demonization of the word cabal was the fact that a Chief of Staff had chosen to understand his job schedule and executed it to the best of his abilities. In my little public experience, I would also dump a lot of files that would find their way to the president for being just the usual packaging that would not add value to the nation but pockets, I will, however, keep in my mind that my decision would be an unpopular one that would attract enemies.
We have constituted ourselves to a people who thrive on street talks that are devoid of any criticality, little wonder why we have failed in our various responsibilities of public engagement to understand the real essence of our offices and dispense accordingly. We would rather choose to blame a nonexistent cabal when we are in ourselves the cabal.
An example of such a situation was the issue I wrote about weeks back where the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami invited the wrath of the public cabal for the simple reasons that he understood his job responsibilities and was trying to whip everyone in the sector into the line of delivering the mandates. While a couple of the CEO’s clearly understand his vision and mission, some others appear not to understand or maybe likened to be among the old order of public cabal who believe that the job of governance is more of a joke than a serious affair.
Some of us write on these critical issues in order that we continue to point out the fact that no one else will come to develop our nation for us and that no nation has developed without the utilization of critical thinking by their citizens.
As a people, we must choose to be fairer, selfless and objective in the assessment of public offices and their handlers. Political opposition is a welcome development in every society but that too requires knowledgeable and experienced players who understand it from the viewpoint of strategy.
Already, as soon as the announcement of the Chief of Staff came by, the public cabal has again started to churn out stories of how it was a crime that he chose to be loyal to previous military governments that he had served. How has it become a crime to be a loyal worker or servant in our country with so much potential but for these behavioral anomalies? One cannot be serving a government and be seen to be criticizing her publicly. Before we set off on a wrong footing again as the public cabal is trying to initiate, we should cut the very accomplished diplomat a slack by appreciating his consistency in loyalty to causes he signs for and that is required of the new office he is occupying.
With the increased understanding of the responsibilities of offices and the emergence of handlers who understand and are willing to implement such responsibilities to the latter, the hope of the reemergence of a nation is in the air.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Hashim Suleiman can be reached via email@example.com