Our fear of political fear

Well done; I take this opportunity to wish the esteemed Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo well in his future endeavours, after serving meritoriously as Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank.

I appreciate him not for being a good economist, not for anything he did while he was governor of our Central Bank, but for being human.

A few months ago, I entered the following in my blog:

“Every first class brain in the Obasanjo regime was not like this. We can point to the example of the one person who, in my view, has been exceptional (and very, very effective) in his approach: Charles Chukwuma Soludo.”

I was referring, of course, to a certain brash tendency exhibited by most first-class degree holders appointed to public office by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The era of the good professor at the Central Bank has ended and, as predicted, he left public office with his head held high.

One of the things that endeared me to Prof. Soludo was that he never forgot the friends he made before he was appointed to public office – not by “settling” them the Nigerian way. He kept up with his friends at the personal friendship level, rejoicing with them on their fortunes and commiserating with them on their misfortunes, as do good friends.

This is the testimony of three friends of Soludo that I know. One of them, Chief Ikechi Emenike, once told me the story of how Soludo was “queried” by PDP warlords for attending a social (not political) event organized when he (Emenike) was running for governorship of Abia State on a different party platform. Soludo patiently explained that the organizer of the event was and still remained his friend, and the event was not of a political nature.

I only met Prof. Soludo once in my life – when he came to address us in the State House Office of Public Communication on what NEEDS was all about (he was then National Economic Adviser). Apart from this chance meeting, I have not had any other personal or official dealing with him. As a matter of fact, the only first-class appointee of Obasanjo that I related with as a consultant was Ifueko Omoigui at the FIRS.

Yet, everything these first-class graduates did in public office greatly impacted on the Nigerian nation and ultimately influenced us citizens to harden our views (positive or negative) on their performance.

Each of them had an opportunity to influence their image positively before they left public office. The way to do it is quite simple: be firm but fair to all. No selective applications, no discriminations, no nepotism, everything done for the good of all.

You can influence a positive image of yourself as long as you have time and you are still in public office. Once you leave office, it will be too late to change history, regardless of the thousands of friends, cronies, or PR gurus you may wish to deploy to the task.

Once you leave public office, your public image becomes a matter of history. As we know, and to paraphrase Zik, history inevitably and surely vindicates the just, even as it exposes the Machiavellian who once served the public.

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