Governance is a trust, and it requires delegation of power and division of labour amongst aides, subjects, entourages and lieutenants of the principal and executive officers in the corridors of power in all tiers of government. This is primarily done based on merit, integrity, portfolio and professionalism in developed and/or responsible countries in the world. Unfortunately the reverse is the case in all tiers of government – local, state and federal government of our darling modern Nigeria.
Frank Herbert opined that, “good governance never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery. The most important element of government, therefore, is the method of choosing leaders”. In line with this, ministers, commissioners, advisers, secretaries, directors, assistants and security aides are an integral part of those who govern as nicely argued by Frank Herbert.
All leaders in their government and cabinet as well, have naturally two sets of aides – sincere aides and evil aides. In a responsible government, sincere aides who always speak the truth are always honoured and cherished, while evil aides are avoided and held responsible as the case may be, for misleading government in their advice. Paradoxically, in our motherland, evil aides are always the most honourable subjects to their principals. As a result of that, officially-appointed and self-appointed advisory aides are the real supporters of creating holes on the floor of our sinking Nigeria as divinely vindicated by the infallible prophetic framework of our discussion.
Interestingly, the prophetic model of selecting advisers has been adopted for x-raying the anatomy of aides in all tiers of government in our contemporary Nigeria. Our infallible Prophet (Pbuh) says: “(Our) Lord neither raised up any Prophet nor did He authorise any person with ruling power but for whom there were two types of Aides: One enjoins upon him to do good and incites him to carry it out, and the Other enjoins evil and encourages him to perpetrate it: and the one who protected himself from the evil aides is the one whom Allah divinely protects” (Bukhaari RH reported it).
A leader has been divinely advised here that integrity, honesty, knowledge, experience and professionalism are the prerequisites in choosing anybody as aides, friends and associates. Prior to nomination and subsequent appointment, he should deeply check up the reputation of his aides. This precautionary measure will serve as a safeguard against the spread of corruption and injustice in society and serve the cause of goodness. Secondly, a leader should obey this advice, because this disciples or adviser will not only keep him safe from making faulty judgments or taking disastrous decisions but will also serve as shield against the machinations of wicked people and their lieutenants as well.
However, this prophetic advice has been ironically toggled by most of our executives in power, because in modern Nigeria, ministers, directors, commissioners, special advisers, special assistants and security aides are mostly selected for their expertise in sycophancy, hypocrisy, conspiracy and dogmatic followership. In very few instances people are selected based on merit, and they are indeed insignificant in bringing any remarkable change. As a result of that, they mostly end up resigning, compromising their integrity, at least physically or remain irrelevant in government.
In the Nigerian context, aides are divided into two – officially-appointed aides and self-appointed or oga-adopted aides. In both cases, sycophancy is mostly the automatic ticket for relevancy and long-term tenure, while integrity is mostly the automatic ticket for irrelevancy and short-term tenure. Undoubtedly, sycophants always follow His Excellency blindly and dogmatically. They always tell him what he wants to hear. They show him that he is always right, no matter what illegal decision he takes. To them “Might” is “Right”. The main source of their allegiance is money. They say what they don’t believe in, and they believe in what is impossible. If their master loves you, they always pretend to love you, and if he hates you, they always hate you too as much as possible. Their credential is ignorance, their working experience is conspiracy and their area of specialisation is hypocrisy. And perhaps, they get their promotion based on these shameful and sinful attitudes. They always follow their master wherever he goes; they never allow him to have time for official activities, his family and himself. They never tell him if other responsible people commend him even once in a while, they only tell him about people’s criticisms of him without being just in their narration. This madness of sycophancy is more glaring, if you look at how “educated” sycophants recently tried to justify the unjustifiable removal of the so-called fuel subsidy by government.
In another version of the prophetic model, our beloved Prophet (SAW) says: “When (our) Lord desires well for a Leader, He assists him in appointing a Sincere Adviser who will remind him if he forgets and helps him if he remembers. When (our) Lord wishes for him contrary, He will leave him to appoint a Bad Adviser who will not remind him if he forgets, nor will he help him if he remembers” (Bukhaari RH reported him).
Divine blessings lie in the recruitment of good, sincere and scrupulous aides. Such aides will guide him in making sound judgment, reaching right conclusions and guarding him against leaning towards evil projects. However, if these aides are self-seekers, flatterers and corrupt, they will undoubtedly influence his decision-making in a bad way. And one can believe that the end of the leader will be far from being desirable because history also supports this assertion. As for the Hereafter, he will be hardly safe from the infernal torment.
I wish executive officers could listen to this divine prophetic advice and heed its reminder accordingly. They should appoint sincere and incorruptible people with proven integrity who will tell them the truth, no matter how bitter it may be, not evil and corrupt people who only dance to their tune- the good, the bad, the ugly and the evil. Undoubtedly, this is a fundamental component of their success in leadership.
A word is enough for the wise. May Allah save our sinking Nigeria from drowning, and from the machinations of sycophants.
Mr. Pantami (email@example.com), an Islamic cleric, is a lecturer at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, and Ph.D Candidate (Computing & IT) in the United Kingdom