A glance at modern politics in Nigeria, is often seen as though, when a new leader has to take over a role, the transition is rarely smooth. This is due to the failure of the incumbent to effectively execute and manage transition which leads to undesired consequences.
Succession planning tends to be the ideal answer that commonly results to a hitch-free change in any political landscape. This article intends to critically illustrate the above assertion and to further lend a clue on the importance of succession planning through the lens of the 21st century’s corporate organization.
Succession planning is a process for identifying and developing new leaders who can substitute old leaders when they leave, retire or die. Succession planning increases the availability of experienced and capable employees that are prepared to assume these roles as they become available. Taken narrowly, “replacement planning” for key roles is the heart of succession planning.
In dictatorships, succession planning aims for continuity of leadership, preventing a chaotic power struggle by thwarting a power vacuum. In monarchies, succession is usually settled by the order of succession. In business, succession planning entails developing internal people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company.
The deficiency of succession in politics today is global, one of the prevailing challenges is, where political leaders refuse to hand over after losing an election or continuously present themselves for re-election under the pretense that their departure would create instability.
A clear example, can be seen in the 2020 Belarusian Presidential Election, the main candidate who is the incumbent President Lukashenko was first elected in 1994 and ever since has refused to step down, making him to be referred to as the European’s last dictator. In Africa, the late Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe left us a disheartened example to elucidate our political reality. Mr. Mugabe was once celebrated as a hero for bringing independence to Zimbabwe however, his quest to remain in power for life without plans to handover saw this highly educated, wily politician became the caricature of an African dictator, who destroyed an entire country in order to keep his job. In Nigeria, Obasanjo’s attempt for a third term in office against his constitutional mandate was resisted.
Additionally, in their blind quest for power, candidates of political parties with massive followership and influence tend to use money to lobby to stay in power or initiate self-destruction by encouraging factionalization, money politics, infighting and cross carpeting leading to implosion, just as seen in the build-up to the 2019 General Election in Nigeria and thereafter. This in our viewpoint, is a tell-tale indication that the leader has failed to carry out that imperative leadership responsibility to groom a suitable successor.
It is noteworthy that Nigeria is projected to be the world’s third most populous country by 2050 with over 400 million inhabitants according to the United Nations. Further, according to data published on the INEC website, over 80% of Nigeria’s 84 million consolidated registered voters in the last general elections were youth within the age brackets of 18-35 and 36-55 respectively. Therefore, it is crucial that young people are represented in the country’s political systems through grooming.
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari needs to understand that failure to have a proper succession plan across its administration poses a threat to its mantra of “change”. It is imperious to put in mechanisms that address this subject matter amongst others and to encourage progressive and democratic leadership by ensuring proper talent identification and development as part of leadership responsibility and a defined ideology.
There have been welcomed steps on this front by the President but more needs to be done in terms of structured political appointment of women and youth, establishing institutions that support youth political participation which can easily be translated into economic empowerment, the All Progressive Congress (APC) seems to be getting this right.
The idea of youth involvement in the political process at all levels of elective positions has become potent in recent times leading to the demand, peaceful demonstration, relentless campaigns leading to subsequent signing into law, the “NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN” bill by President Muhammadu Buhari. The bill reduced the age limits to contest for political office from 35 to 30 years in the Senate, and 30 to 25 years in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly. Thus, widely believed as intended to reflect the changing demographics of Africa’s most populous nation and help shepherd in younger leaders.
The disengagement of National Working Committee due to crisis within the APC is yet an opportunity for the youth of APC to have a certain consideration within the party’s highest decision making body. If the youth are organized, they can leverage on their large membership of the party to aspire and vie for key positions in the NWC at the upcoming party convention or negotiate for a reasonable percentage in the upcoming NWC of the APC because, doing so will further empower the young people and place them in strategic position for grooming therefore prepare them for national assignments and inevitably have a stronger voice at their party’s highest decision making body.
In an effort to further empower the Nigerian youth, President Muhamadu Buhari has approved the establishment of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (N-YIF) at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on July 22, 2020.
The programme is coordinated by the Minister of Youths and Sports, Hon. Sunday Dare who is aiming at reaching out to 500,000 youths between 2020 and 2023. With the N-YIF, my expectation is that it should be taken serious by the youth and Mr. Dare should understand the sensitivity of Nigeria difference and ensure everyone benefits taken a cue from the federal character principle of fairness and equitable balance in the selection process of the disbursement of the approved funds and strive to avoid lopsided appointment as seen in the Focal Group set up by the Hon. minister.
The above are some remarkable achievements for young people in the country as it means that they have been placed with unprecedented opportunities for representation. This can be described as investment development opportunities. While this is a great step towards youth inclusion in politics, it is also clear that more needs to be done to put young people at the very heart of politics, governance and the decision-making process in Nigeria and that is what succession planning aims at addressing.
The obvious spinoff is that when there is a “change” at the helm of affairs (planned or unplanned), there is a critical pool of talent waiting to take over. It is proven that new leaders who have come through a succession planning process are evidently more successful when they rise to higher leadership roles of their organizations than those who have not come through a similar process. This is why as a country, we must invest in talent hunting to groom leaders that provide strategic leadership that compete favourably globally.
– Hon. Adamu is a business development, policy and political economy consultant and a volunteer for National Policy Development (NPoD)