REMARKS BY THE CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, RT. HON. FEMI GBAJABIAMILA, CFR AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE SECOND COHORT OF THE LEGISLATIVE MENTORSHIP INITIATIVE (LMI). MONDAY, 4TH DECEMBER 2023.
“Youth Leadership and the Future of Democracy: Harnessing the Power of Young People in Nigeria.”
1.I am delighted to be here with you today to welcome the second cohort of young men and women who will participate in the Legislative Mentorship Initiative (LMI) and, from there, proceed to participate creditably in the governance and public life of our country in various critical roles, performing many vital functions for the betterment of our nation.
2. For a quarter of a century, James Adelson Baker III was the most indispensable man in Washington, DC. At different times, he was Chief of Staff to the President of the United States of America, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State. He managed Presidential campaigns, led international negotiations on behalf of the United States of America and was generally considered by friends and foes alike to be a master at statecraft, capable of getting things done, and an expert at solving the complex problems of nation-building. Mr James Baker said, and I repeat, “the point of holding power is to get things done and accomplish things”.
3. Politics and public service is the arena in which we define the kind of society we hope to have and then propose and implement the policies, programmes and projects that will enable us to achieve the society we envisioned for ourselves. Unfortunately, despite its importance, politics and public service is the only sphere of our lives where prior training or proven capacity is not required for participation.
4. We rightly expect that lawyers, engineers, doctors, nurses and even the mechanics who service our cars have received specialised training to perform those functions. However, we do not demand, and seemingly do not expect any such expertise from the people responsible to determine and implement the policies that define the environment within which those other professionals operate.
5. The purpose of the Legislative Mentorship Initiative (LMI) is to identify and train a generation of public sector leaders who understand that the point of holding power is to get things done and accomplish things and who have the expertise and temperament to use the machinery of government and the instruments of power to achieve peace, drive progress and ensure prosperity for all. This mandate is critically important to the future stability of Nigeria.
6. Just as we need trained lawyers and engineers, doctors, nurses and various such professionals, we also need people who understand politics, who are well versed in the mechanics of government, who appreciate the enormous responsibility of public service and who are called to the service of their communities and the nation.