Nigeria News

Presidential advice

President Goodluck JonathanRELIABLE sources tell me that President Goodluck Jonathan is becoming increasingly allergic to the advice to which he is subjected on a minute-by-minute basis.

And I totally understand his weariness, wariness and irritation.

Every VIP is surrounded by a plethora of official and informal I-Too-Knows (ITKs) who regard themselves as great sages and world-class experts; and all of the above take delight in inflicting their views on anyone who will listen.

Heads of state are particularly vulnerable within this context…in the sense that they attract more attention than most mere mortals and are constantly approached by highly opinionated friends, relatives, spouses, personal aides, cabinet ministers, parastatal personnel, political cronies, party stalwarts, media controllers, traditional rulers, captains of industry, foreign investors, etc.

And it’s not as if these wannabee powers behind the throne are all completely well-intentioned or all harmoniously singing from the same hymn sheet.

Some of the folks who strive to influence the thought processes and actions of rulers either deliver confusingly conflicting suggestions or have extremely dubious hidden agendas. And if you’re a leader, it is very difficult to sift through the never-ending verbiage and decide whom to trust or ignore.

So I certainly don’t blame President Jonathan for not enthusiastically welcoming everyone who sidles up to him to tell him how to run his life and the country.

But excessive caution, inflexibility and stubbornly closed-mindedness never make sense. Leaders should be especially perceptive; and while they’re entitled to make mistakes, they should be able to differentiate between negative time-wasters and positive value-adders most of the time.

Some of the advice that Jonathan receives comes from serious organisations and intelligent, honourable individuals who know what they’re talking about and want him to shine brightly; and he will perform more impressively if he focuses on the need to sort out the sheep from the goats and listens to the right people.

Listening to right people

I’m told that Mr President firmly dismisses anyone who urges him to learn how to express himself more articulately in public. Given that he routinely fails to fulfil his potential when he appears on TV or other public platforms  – his recent CNN interview being a classic example of a less than inspiring performance – I hope that he will eventually realise that he can benefit from media training.

After all, his counterparts from other parts of the world – Obama of America and Cameron of Britain, for instance – have received extensive media training. Ditto the journalists who occasionally quiz him on screen, at home and abroad. So why won’t he humbly provide himself with similar skills?

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