As the search for a new Chief of Staff to the President Goodluck Jonathan continues, a former Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, Chief Emeh Glory Emeh, Sunday said the best person should proffer solutions to the multifaceted problems facing the country within a framework of a more ideological perspective.
The former Chief of State to Jonathan, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, had last week resigned from the position, paving the way for intense lobbying for the position by politicians and technocrats.
Some analysts, who bared their minds on the issue, had set out some qualifies, which the new chief of staff should possess to include: competence, experience in bureaucracy, maturity, exposure, loyalty, tolerance, team player and being apolitical.
But Emeh, in a statement titled: â€œCriteria for Appointment of President Jonathanâ€™s Chief of Staff,â€ and made available to THISDAY, said the qualities were inadequate.
According to him, the chief of staff, which President Jonathan needs should be a person, who will focus on â€œof staffâ€ and not â€œchiefâ€ and who would sublimate his ego by separating facts from fantasy to ensure the success of the presidentâ€™s transformation agenda.
He contended that before looking at the adequacy or otherwise of the criteria listed above, it would be necessary to also set out the â€œmany duties of chief of staffâ€ to a president in a presidential system of government which is made up of the executive, legislature and judiciary against the backdrop that a chief of staff is a personal assistant to Mr. President.
Emeh, who is also the National Coordinator of Popularview Support Group, a pro-Jonathan re-election campaign group, said what constitutes the duties or functions of chief of staff to Mr. President should depend largely on the person and character of the president and which varies greatly from one administration to another.
He stated that the duties of the chief of staff go beyond the supervision of staff of the presidency, management of communication and information flow and security access to the Presidential Villa.
â€œGenerally, the chief of staff is described as â€œgatekeeperâ€ or â€œthe power behind the throneâ€ and can be regarded as â€œprivate and confidantâ€ of Mr. President. The role combines highly delicate and demanding personal and professional assignments which require great skill and enormous discretion.â€
The former Commissioner for Special Duties and Transport in the Governor Peter Odiliâ€™s administration argued that a good chief of staff could be likened to a prime minister in a parliamentary system or vice-president in a presidential system.
According to him, this explains the reason why in the United States of America, most past chief of staff were appointed from the political class, who later progressed to higher political functions.
â€œThe chief of staff is both a manager and an adviser, who should instil new spirit of the time by promoting fresh commitment to the values of efficient performance. He should be a person of influence to be able to convey the presidentâ€™s point of view and also be a champion of the presidentâ€™s agenda.
â€œHe, therefore, should possess the capacity and capability to negotiate with other members of the executive branch, the legislature (National Assembly), the judiciary and of course extra-governmental political groups to compliment and implement the Presidentâ€™s agenda.
â€œA good Chief of staff can be likened to a prime minister in a parliamentary system or vice-president in a presidential system. This explains the reason why in the USA most past chief of staff were appointed from the political class who later progressed to higher political functions.
â€œFew examples will suffice; Dick Cheney moved from chief of staff to become US Representative to Wyoming, Secretary of State under George H.W Bush, vice-president under W. Bush as well as H.R. Haldeman under President Nixon, who had a reputation in Washington for the iron hand he wielded in the position culminating in being â€˜christenedâ€™ the â€˜Presidentâ€™s son-of-a-bitchâ€™. He was considered the most â€œpowerful manâ€ in Washington â€œWhite Houseâ€.
â€œIn developed democracies, there are no hard and fast criteria in appointing a successful Chief of staff to the president. The correct candidate at any point in time must meet the exigencies of the moment in terms of what is the high priority of government.
â€œPresident Barrack Obama demonstrated this approach when he appointed Rahan Emmanuel for his legislative experience and prowess which helped in the Health care Act, William Dailey for his business exposure to achieve economic recovery and Jack Lews for his budgetary experience which contributed in the formulation in debt and deficit strategies.â€