By Abdulrauf Aliyu
In a nation where the quest for political power and influence often overshadows the true essence of public service, the recent scenes of newly appointed ministers under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration celebrating their appointments with grand dinners have ignited an important debate about the perception of public service in Nigeria. While celebration is a natural response to achieving personal and professional milestones, the question arises: should these celebrations be a priority at the onset of a minister’s tenure, or should the focus be on delivering exceptional public value first?
The sight of ministers-elect revelling in luxurious dinners and festivities upon their appointment is a spectacle that has become all too familiar. It is understandable that such appointments are the culmination of years of hard work, networking, and political manoeuvring. Nevertheless, the timing of these celebrations raises concerns about priorities and the underlying motivations of those entering public service.
Public service should ideally be rooted in a deep commitment to addressing the needs and concerns of citizens. It is about serving the collective welfare and fostering national development. Therefore, the optics of indulging in lavish celebrations immediately after appointment might inadvertently convey a message that one’s personal success and gratification outweigh the broader responsibilities and challenges associated with the role.
The essence of public service demands that ministers hit the ground running, channeling their energy, expertise, and enthusiasm towards delivering concrete and measurable benefits to the people. This implies engaging in strategic planning, policy formulation, and effective implementation to address critical issues such as infrastructure development, education, healthcare, and poverty alleviation. Celebratory dinners, while emotionally gratifying, can divert the attention and energy that should be directed towards these pressing matters.
The argument for postponing such celebrations until the end of a minister’s tenure is anchored in a commitment to results and accountability. Rather than basking in personal glory at the outset, ministers should aspire to earn their accolades through tangible achievements that positively impact the lives of ordinary Nigerians. Celebrating accomplishments that are verifiable and experienced by the populace could restore faith in the political system and the potential of public service to effect meaningful change.
Furthermore, the timing of celebratory dinners raises questions about the culture of political entitlement that has plagued Nigerian governance for years. It reinforces the notion that public office is a reward for political loyalty, personal connections, and financial contributions rather than a solemn duty to serve the nation. This perception erodes trust in the political class and further alienates citizens, who already feel detached from the decision-making processes that affect their lives.
It is worth considering the example set by nations where public service is regarded as a sacred responsibility rather than a stepping stone to personal enrichment. In such countries, public officials are held to rigorous standards of accountability, and the success of their tenure is evaluated based on tangible improvements in the lives of citizens. Celebrations, if any, are reserved for moments when societal progress is unequivocally evident.
While it is essential to acknowledge that the responsibilities of a minister are complex and daunting, this should not detract from the urgency to deliver on promises and make a genuine impact. The celebration of appointments should be secondary to the celebration of milestones achieved through dedication, innovation, and perseverance. The celebration of a minister’s tenure should mirror the progress made in education, healthcare, job creation, and other critical areas.
Moreover, public service is not a solitary endeavour. It requires collaboration, consultation, and dialogue with stakeholders, experts, and the public. A minister’s initial days in office should be spent developing a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities within their purview. Engaging with citizens, civil society organizations, and experts can provide invaluable insights that inform effective policies and strategies.
It is not a matter of chastising celebration or success, but rather a call to prioritize the greater good over personal gratification. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration has an opportunity to reshape the perception of public service, emphasizing results, collaboration, and the welfare of the citizens. By channelling the enthusiasm of ministers towards impactful and transformative initiatives, Nigeria can begin to shift its narrative from one of entitlement to one of dedication to national progress. Only then can we truly celebrate the exceptional value brought to the public, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s development journey.
An economist and Policy Analyst writes from
45 Ashiru Road, U/Dosa New Extension