Octagon Rooms

The Most Important Competencies For Nigeria’s Political Leaders

Posted on: August 28th, 2018 by The Moderator No Comments

The Moderator: Hello Everyone.??? It’s good to have everyone in the house. Welcome to The Octagon Room. In the simplest of terms kindly introduce yourself and tell us what you do.

Sam Neye: Hello everyone, I’m Sam Neye, the lead Pastor at GreenVille Christian Centre in Akure.

Daniel Otabor: Good evening. I am DanielOTABOR; Lead Facilitator of SWD in Lagos.

Victor Fatami: Hi everyone. You can call me Victor Fa, or Fa, to keep it simple. I lead the team at FourthCanvas, a Nigerian brand consultancy and design agency.

Ayodele Awi: Good evening. I am Ayodele Awi. I’m glad to be here. I apologise for joining late.  It”s a house of well-known leaders and respected individuals. I welcome everyone. Kudos to the Octagon team for this awesome platform.

Efe Otofia: I am Efe a Management Consultant in Business Intelligence.

Arihilam Francis: Francis Arihilam. Therapist and Human Resource Consultant at AT Metzger.

The Moderator: Great introductions. We have got 50 mins left. My name is Gabriel BALOGUN and I will be your moderator for this Octagon conversation. The plan is to ensure that we just let this conversation flow naturally like we are having a roundtable gist.

The Moderator: I will begin by saying that over the years we have complained about different administrations and the time to choose another one is upon us. If we are going to elect a set of people that will do a different work and lead rightly, then we need to paint a picture of how the right person or people should look like. With this, we are more likely to recognize the right candidate for leadership. This will act as a guide for those who read this when they decide which candidates to vote for.

The Moderator: Question 1 – What makes a Nigerian leader competent?

Sam Neye: Thanks for this platform, really, the most important competence we must look out for in our next set of leaders, for me, is, implementation skills. Enough of manifesto and talks, deliberations with little or no execution strategies and follow up plans for the success of every project.

Sam Neye: How we know they are competent is to look at the antecedents of our candidates, every process and places they’ve been. More importantly, have they’ve functioned successfully within this same system, leading themselves, individuals and organisations/systems through a successful paradigm.

Victor Fatami: I agree with implementation skills. I think the ideal Nigerian leader would need a great “Ability” to influence people. Passionately communicating his mission, even behind the curtains.

Victor Fatami: If Dale Carnegie’s ideas were originally mine, I would advise a new leader in Nigeria like this:

“You need to ‘give a dog a good name’. Everybody expects that your energetic expression of a mission and vision for Nigeria is only to play to the gallery for election. Getting up there, the first thing to do is treat all the key people involved in the government as though you believed they always had the country in mind as well, as you, within closed doors and without the press, passionately share your mission and vision for the country, with clear goals and how you intend to achieve them. You have to model the sincerity of your mission, prove your integrity to the circle of people you want to work with before you can get people on your side. They would then say “there is a new sheriff in town and he really means business”.

A case study for this would be Nelson Mandela, as he got everyone on his team to truly believe in his values for fairness to all, even the whites they had just gained freedom from.

Arihilam Francis: The man you need to be a pastor is not the same man you need to be a governor – Bishop Matthew Kukah.

Arihilam Francis: Just to add to all the brilliant thoughts so far.

What is Politics? Who is a Leader in politics?

In reference to my opening quote by Bishop Kukah

This person must master how society works. How everyone across social stratifications makes their decisions.

This will help him or her draft a blueprint on how to lead society.

Angels don’t vote, humans do and humans at all levels are driven by self-interest.

Efe Otofia: Thanks OCTAGON for this platform.


When people talk about Competence of a Political Leader, what comes to mind are the intrinsic traits that make him or her worthy of an electoral office.

They make reference to
1. character
2. Integrity
3. Track Records
4. Influence
5. Etc.

Which is great and I trust a lot of us will agree.

But I will like to throw more light on POLITICAL COMPETENCE & what it entails.

Efe Otofia: POLITICAL COMPETENCE is a lever that a leader can use to get their idea off the ground.

It’s is a critical success of leadership.

POLITICAL COMPETENCE of an individual isn’t just about a candidate running for an office, giving eloquent speeches, erecting nationwide podiums and shaking hands.

It’s about How an Individual is able to

1. Map the countries Political terrain
2. Gain support for his vision
3. Lead the Right Coalition.

Ayodele Awi: I completely agree with the suggestion of Ability to Influence others. I think one of the challenges we have now is the loss of essential national values. NO NATION CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT THESE.

Any leader that will make an impact in Nigeria now must start from there. What are the things every Nigerian must consciously accept as VALUES to guide our lives and interactions with others? What are those things outside of these values that we must all reject and resist?

And of course, that leader must be courageous enough to introduce Deterrence, REWARD conducts and actions in line with the VALUES we have adopted as NATIONAL VALUES and PUNISH conducts and actions against such.

Victor Fatami: Great thoughts. My other jotted thoughts on competencies:

2. Emotional Intelligence: He must be able to manage his emotions, discern the emotions of collaborators and relate with them in the most intentional ways to get the best results. This would also be important in dealing with the public in terms of unfortunate events or public criticism. A case study for Emotional Intelligence would be Barack Obama.

3. Courage: A Nigerian political leader would have to be prepared to face opposition and obstacles beyond whatever his estimation would have rationalized. He must possess the courage to stand for the right things and be willing to put everything on the line. A lot of times, the “forces” only need someone strong enough to face them, to recede. There is no point in trying to make a change as a leader in a country like Nigeria, without courage. As he stands firms, he gives a voice to several others who have compromised only in fear, but willing, deep down to stand for what’s right.

4. Discernment: Sycophancy is a big currency in the political climate of an underdeveloped country like ours. People would do everything to get on the good side of the leader. He must by default, distrust every compliment or report of progress, while he sees through, and with alternative methods, to face the real situation at all times. He would also gain the name for not being fazed by “brouhaha”

5. Conflict Management: He must be able to listen to opposing and conflicting sides, and be diplomatic enough to find third alternatives that make better options for both sides. He must be able to resolve conflict beyond mere compromise, but by bringing erring sides together to find better alternatives, with which all sides can progress, and do so well.

The Moderator: Very interesting thoughts so far ?

Question 2 – If a corrupt person has Political Competence, Ability to Influence, Massive Implementation Skills. Would this person still be competent to lead Nigerians?

Daniel Otabor: Being corrupt does not in any way mean incompetent. A corrupt person can be competent. Then again corruption in what sense? Is it corruption as it concerns budget padding without getting the job done at all or embezzlement of public funds for personal enrichment.

Victor Fatami: I think corruption is relative. Corrupt to what degree? More greedy and ‘invested’ in corruption as a tool, other than interests in running the country and developing it?

No, But if it’s about Zero-level Corruption as a prerequisite for running for office, I do not agree he is competent. Personally, I do not support or encourage corruption but if you have other competencies, I would vote for you in 2019 and I have my PVC.

Efe Otofia: History has taught us that COMPETENCE isn’t a value endowed only to a good person but also well acquired by the Bad. Adolf Hitler of Germany & Jomo Kenyata of Kenya where competent people who navigated the history of their people poorly.

Sam Neye: A Corrupt person is not good for our nation now, you see there’s no competence in the absence of right character qualities. A corrupt individual with all other competence would reck the country. So, who we are looking out, for now, is a competent leader in vision, competent in influence, competent at implementation, competent in will strength and also of good moral values.

Victor Fatami: Yeah if we can have it all, yes I agree.

Ayodele Awi: Interesting conversation here. I’m learning a lot. The good thing is, I may not need to say much as the crop of leaders here are well capable of helping us do good justice to this issue.

Daniel Otabor: In my opinion, the focus should be, what can the one who is running for office offer as a comparison to what those currently in office have done. We need to see public records of anyone running a public office. Especially the highest office.

Victor Fatami: Exactly, the degree of corruption, is the thing for me. What is your priority? “It becomes almost difficult to bring pain to a critical mass of your people when you are conscientious.”

You can be incompetent and not be corrupt and you can be corrupt and competent. What we need in a leader is one who is conscientious. It becomes almost difficult to bring pain to a critical mass of your people when you are conscientious. We must not be deceived by the mantra of I am not corrupt! In every man lies good and evil.

Sam Neye: Moral Value must be the ground on which other critical qualities must stand.  And friends we can have it all, yes we can.

Efe Otofia: POLITICAL COMPETENCE has allowed leaders (good or bad) not only to get support but also to seriously engage the different key players of that nation that they will need to implement their ideas. So if a corrupt Leader persuades a group of people to his ideas then the other good people are left to lick their wounds.

Daniel Otabor: Painfully, a good number of the youths in our population do not carry out detailed research and analysis on whom they want to vote for. You think because he is from PDP, he is corrupt and incompetent. No, he is Not! This is the problem!

Currently, we have about 42 or 43 aspirants for the office of the President, so many people for just one position.

Victor Fatami: Hmmm. Yes, I also believe a party does not mean the same characteristics for all its members.

Efe Otofia: Let me add here. There are two distinctive factors here

  1. Competence of a Political Leader

While the formal looks at the intrinsic Values of this Candidate, the latter focuses on his Competence for that office.

Daniel Otabor: So we were told an aspirant was not CORRUPT in 2015 and the reason we voted for him was that we did not know that our problem was not just corruption, it was gross incompetence and sabotage.  Political competence means being QUALIFIED for political leadership. It means understanding policies and strategies. What the office gives are power and authority.

Daniel Otabor: Competence of a Political Leader means knowing the policies and strategies that will bring about development to your Nation and then, apply them amicably.

Efe Otofia: Yes. I agree.

By intrinsic Values we mean his track records, what he/she done in the past.
What are their relationships with private & public funds?
What is the height of their Character?
What morals are they made of?

But for Political Competence, it goes beyond being a good person.
It talks about Courage to go against the grain, how you draw a Road Map for Nigeria and most importantly how you dare to confront conventional patterns

DanielOtabor: In summary.

Paul Kagame is a case study: He has been accused of sponsoring rebels. Yet a blind man can see that Paul Kagame is competent. Most people do not even know that Paul Kagame was once a rebel himself. He was once a Vice President, he was once a Minister of Defence.

President Paul is a good example of what we need in Nigeria in terms of competence, courage and conscientiousness.

Victor Fatami: But like Pastor Sam Neye as said, it will be great if we can have a Kagame that is also morally upright. But I will choose a Kagame over a Buhari or a Yar’Adua.

Daniel Otabor: All day every day. Kagame over all our political leaders. Time will not allow me to go into details about the present Rwanda Foreign Policy.

The Moderator: Wow wow wow
So much value shared. Unfortunately, we are out of time and 5 mins late. Can everyone drop their last statements?

Efe Otofia: What are your INNOVATIVE IDEAS to revive the dead sectors of the economy?

How are we going to leverage TECHNOLOGY in the agricultural sector?

Where is the place of IT in the educational sector?

What GRANTS will be available to Encourage the Best Entrepreneurial ideas in Nigeria?

Where do we aim to be Ranked among the Production Countries in the world?

Efe Otofia: The COMPETENCE OF A LEADER denotes how he/she aims to galvanize people towards an Idea. THE AMERICAN DREAM is an idea. SDG is an idea already being adopted by the European Countries.

Daniel Otabor: Young do not denote/guarantee competence. What we need is a President. Not a YOUNG President. Young cannot be the reason we are voting for ANYONE! Look at the YOUNG man that asked Falz, WHAT CAN WE POSSIBLY PRODUCE. WE ARE BLACK PEOPLE OUR BRAINS CANNOT COMPREHEND IT.

Arihilam Francis: Politics is governance. Governance of both the good and bad

The weak and strong

The stupid and wise

The poor and the rich.

It is complex just like any level of leadership. The greatest undoing for a leader especially in politics is to be purely idealistic.

Arihilam Francis: You can know what to do but not HOW to do it. A good political leader must be able to hire MASTERS. He must surround himself with minds capable of thinking with and for him when the need arises.

The Moderator: Our time is up. I guessed we all had a good time. Thank you very much for honouring our invitation. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Daniel Otabor: Thank you, Mr Gabriel. Great conversation we had.

Arihilam Francis: Thank you, Gabriel

Victor Fatami Thanks everyone, I learnt a lot. Thanks, Gab. Thanks, Octagon. Thanks, Trellis.

Leave a Reply


The Octagon | Gr8an | ©2020 All Rights Reserved