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#Politics101: 6 Don’ts of Public Service

Public service must be gratifying. At least that is what it is made to look like. Come to think of it – nothing beats the knowledge that one is contributing towards improving the lot of his people.

But it is also thankless — the constant trolls on Twitter for the best of intentions, sometimes turning into street protests. The pressers upon pressers by detractors to discredit your every other move, coupled with the character assassination.

Such is the nature of the job, particularly for elective office. After all this is what one signs up for when they put forward their names on the ballot paper. Like someone recently put it, this in itself is an act of courage.

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Apparently, how these positions look from the outside is not necessarily what one finds when they finally take oath of office and show up. The big question is turning this challenge into an opportunity. Here are some points worth keeping in mind by those aspiring and holding public office.

  1. Do not be reactive. Critics will always be there, significantly outnumbering the praise singers. Panic not, it does not make you a loser. In this social media age, the worst in human behaviour is continually exposed, conveniently hiding behind the anonymity of social media. Amongst us are characters who would not mind launching ruthless but meaningless attacks just to attract followers and amass likes. Man being gossipy by nature – is more likely to click on any negative story, factual or not, more than they would a sunny day. The trick for the public servant is to put their head down and get the work done. Do not be distracted. As a sage aptly put it “Work hard in silence; let your success be your noise“.
  2. Do not try too hard. The natural instinct is to always show delivery. Of course, there are other public servants you are wont to be compared to; and competitive human instinct is to always want to sit on top of the pile. There is also the ambition that gnaws at every man’s (and woman’s) heart – keeping their eye on the next rung. This does not however justify wholly focusing on amplifying every little step for the gallery. It instead unmasks raw selfishness. The trick is to focus more on  outcomes than outputs; instead of staging those embarrassing photos launching electricity poles and livestock that litter Facebook.
  3. Do not assume that TV talk shows are everything. The universe of any given politician is wide and diverse — from the electorate to colleagues and peers, government, non-state actors, private sector players, among others. While pandering to national debates and party interests, keep an eye on the ball – the reason you have the platform in the first place. History is replete with examples of leaders whose huge national profile notwithstanding, were sent to the cleaners, since they could not be ‘felt on the ground’.
  4. Do not ignore the value of communication platforms that you can own and control. The 256 individuals on that WhatsApp group could start an unstoppable movement of advocates, within their circles. The difference is in how you strategically utilise these platforms.
  5. Do not be a one hit wonder. Be consistent in doing things and being seen to do them. It is a marathon, after all, not a sprint. Do not wait for election year to dial up the pitch for re-election. While one does not need to shout on the rooftops every other time, what they got to do very well is being consistent in delivering and being seen to deliver.
  6. Do not be all over the place. Choose one or two things to be well known for. Have an opinion on everything if you may, but only amplify those held dearest. That is the way to build a profile sustainably and carve a future career.

 

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Posted by on July 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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Open Letter to African Heads of State: Let Africa’s common good prevail in election of AU Commission Chairperson

African heads of state pose after a past meeting. Photo/ au.int

Ladies and gentlemen,

Receive my warm wishes, as you congregate in Addis Ababa to, among other things, select a new person to head the African Union commission.

In as much as I trust your wisdom and judgment, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, allow me to add my voice on this matter. As you cast your votes for the leadership of the continental body, I pray that wisdom and Africa’s common good is placed way above everything else.

Your Excellencies, as you may have noted, in recent days, the continent has been treated to drama as campaigns for the position of chairperson at the African Union commission hit a crescendo. The fight that has moved from diplomatic meetings to the media has even begun getting murky leading to accusations and counter-accusations. Now, the penultimate is here with us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you make this choice, think about the 1 billion African people, whom you lead, and the kind of future they are hoping for from you; as well as the role that the African Union can play in this, and the kind of leadership that will deliver it.

Africa is no longer the passive by stander in global geo-politics, and it is through unions like the African Union that the African people can exert their authority in the world affairs. We need an African Union that will be strong enough to stand up and not only push the African agenda on the global stage, but also be a brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, rebuking and correcting those who depart from the straight and narrow.

Dear Presidents, having said that I beg to rest my case. I know you are incredibly busy people, by virtue of the very important positions that you hold. In conclusion, I leave you with the words of Condoleezza Rice in her memoir No Higher Honour: “Today’s headlines and history’s judgment are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former you will most certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter”.

Yours Faithfully,

Fellow son of the soil

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Open Letter to President Barack Obama: You can no longer ignore Africa

US President Barack Obama Photo/ Whitehouse.gov

Dear Mr President

Many thanks are in order for granting me, and many of my countrymen, bragging rights with your occupancy of the White House. Who would not be proud of being linked, even if very distantly, to the most powerful man in the world?

However, this is not the reason am writing to you today. I am writing about an issue that cannot wait, even if you are obviously going through very busy times, with a crucial election in which you are hoping for a second term, only about 200 days away. Nonetheless, please spare me a couple of minutes.

Sir, it is about the just concluded process of naming the next World Bank boss. I am disappointed that you, who mesmerised not only the American people, but also the rest of the world, with your ‘Change We Can Believe In‘ mantra that swept you into power in 2008, would back such a process that is firmly intent on maintaining the status quo.

President Obama with incoming World Bank president Photo/ zimbio.com

Mr President, you and I know that times have changed since the back in the day pact, which folklore has it, ensures that only an American candidate can head the World Bank. I had hoped that you would pleasantly surprise me by backing the African candidate, until I saw the announcement from World Bank, confirming your choice.

The decision may have been made already, but I wish to submit to you, with all due respect, that Africa is no longer the passive by stander in global happenings.With its growing role in the geopolitical space, Africa can no longer be ignored. And with the quality of candidate that Africa had in Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, it should have been listened to.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Photo/ http://www.fmf.gov.ng/

I do not mean to lecture you on matters that I know you are well aware of, but this is a gripe that I have always had with the international institutions.

As the Good Book says: ‘We will always remind you of these things even though you know them’.

Yours

Distant cousin

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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