From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Minister of State for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo has advised more professionals in Nigeria to be active in politics and take up positions that would enable them to impart changes that can lead to national development.
The minister, speaking at the 10th Summit of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN) in Abuja on Monday, said the reason there were many incompetent and unskilled people heading various sectors of the economy was that professionals and experts shy away from venturing into politics, labelling it as a dirty endeavour.
He said insufficient expertise in government had led to the failure of several plausible policies and programmes that had otherwise worked in other nations. Adding that professionals must rise to the occasion by actively involving in political affairs so as to be part of the transformation they desire to see.
‘Under normal circumstances, government should employ the services of professionals to put together policies that will solve our problems and develop programmes and projects to bring the policies to life. Equally, they are employed to implement such programmes. This is perhaps where the contribution of the professionals is most critical in national development,’ he said.
‘Fortunately, there are a set of rules on how a government comes into existence. Unfortunately, professionalism isn’t a criterion for it. In fact, the least you need to participate and become part of a government is a school leaving certificate.
‘This is understandable because democracy requires that everyone participates and it will be anti-democratic to use professionalism to restrict those who will participate.
‘So, it behoves on the professional to also participate in the political process. For decades we have heard professionals say the political process is too dirty for them. Yes, one can imagine in those days when a top-notch professional will have to go to Ibadan to play the Amala and gbegiri politics and get the blessings of the strong man of Molete, in order to become an active asset in Nation Building. Most of us know what that blessing sometimes entails and are not ready to undergo it. It sounds “gross”, to put it in common slang.
‘However, we must also realise that the policies and laws that drive our professional lives and make the society a better place for us and our profession is made by the politician who participates in the political process.
‘So, when you fail to join and participate, as they say, what you see is what you get. Given the critical role, professionals are supposed to play, you should be ready to apportion some good amount of blame to yourself for the failure in the set goals for national development.
‘Some of us will wait at the fringes hoping to be appointed through acquaintance to the appointing authorities or through some other methods. While this may occur, it is mostly a gamble National development shouldn’t be subjected to.
‘This is why it behoves on professionals, like any other group, to actively participate in bringing about a government and be part of the government. That way we will always ensure that there is an abundance of professional round pegs in politics to fill the round holes of political patronage.
‘Some may say learning what works and what doesn’t will compromise your professionalism. Yes, it’s true the process and the office will attempt to change you and perhaps compromise you, however it is only when you want to be compromised that you get compromised. You must enter public office with a view to change things and not be changed yourself,’ Keyamo said.
Earlier in his speech, APBN President Akinloye Olufemi Oyegbola said the summit provided the professionals of the nation, especially those of the thirty foremost professional associations which are members of the APBN to come together to do an objective assessment of the state of affairs in the country from their own perspectives and deliberate on what needed to be done to take it to the next level.
‘It is common knowledge that our dear country is passing through trying times. These challenges being hydra-headed in manifestation make it imperative that all hands should be on deck to work on them simultaneously.
‘It is in furtherance of this belief that we use the Summit of Professionals as one of the avenues for advocacy on the inherent responsibilities of professionals to the nation and our readiness to collaborate with governments at the three tiers in a well-coordinated manner for the much needed sustainable development,’ Oyegbola explained.
Also in his address, President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and Chairman Summit Committee, Prof. Innocent Ujah said the theme of this year’s summit, “The Critical Role of Professionals In Governance and National Development”, was apt as the conversation would be part of the national response to several issues confronting the Nigerian nation, such as effects of insurgency, kidnapping, banditry as well as COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the APBN was borne out of the desire of the different professional bodies to collectively harness their different potentials and develop a strategic position in addressing issues that relate to the actualisation of the mandate of the different professional bodies under one roof in a manner that critical stakeholders can harness their individual professional knowledge and skills for a better Nigeria.
‘The strategic documents that emanated from the various summits since the inaugural one has formed a pivotal template for policymakers to address various sectors of Nigeria s economy,’ he disclosed.