Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Thursday said technocrats should go into partisan politics as a way of bringing their expertise to bear in good governance.
Sanwo-Olu gave the advice while delivering a lecture at the UNILAG Faculty of Engineering 3rd Alumni Lecture, at the Main Auditorium in Lagos.
The lecture titled, “Professionals in politics: Panacea for Sustainable Development.”
The Governor declared, “Nigeria’s development will not happen outside of politics and political activity. All of the countries we look up to, deployed political leadership to take the decisions that set them on the path of development. And this did not happen overnight.
“But it is very important for us to prepare ourselves for politics. As professionals working outside the sphere of partisan politics, it is not enough to go into politics armed only with your professional skills.
“We must realize that the professional skills and habits and ways of thinking that we have picked up and honed over the years can be useful not just in the lecture theatres, research laboratories or the boardrooms, but also within the corridors of power.
“I have no doubt that the training I received as a surveyor and subsequently as a banker has made me a much better public servant and politician than I would have been without that training.
And this I think is the final lesson I would like to leave with you, as I conclude this address.
“The best politicians will bring to their work a combination of hard technocratic and soft political skills.
“The political skills are of course always the most important elements; no one can succeed without them. But the value that a technocratic background also confers must never be taken for granted or underestimated.
The first thing any professional who comes into politics realizes is that the technical and professional skills acquired outside of politics are mostly of limited usefulness in the sphere of partisan politics and public service.
“I believe that we must reclaim the word ‘politics from negativity. It is often given a negative coloration that it does not deserve, and that is misleading.
“As many people as want to go into partisan politics must be encouraged to do so. We must stop seeing people as “sell-outs” when they choose to fly the flag of partisan politics.
“Many centuries ago Plato said that one of the penalties for declining to take part in politics is that people end up being governed by those inferior to them.
“We must acknowledge the power that politics has to shape our lives and our societies for good or ill. It is arguably the most potent tool that exists for influencing the course of a society. We owe, to a great extent, our happiness or unhappiness to the way politics is played on our behalf.
“We must educate ourselves about the way politics is played in our society – from the smallest level all the way to the top. We must stay engaged at all times, and resist the strong temptation to stay aloof or give in to despair when things don’t happen the way we would like them to.
“Politics in Nigeria definitely needs more professionals, more ‘outsiders’, not less. Politics thrives best in the face of diversity. Different professional callings bringing different skill-sets and perspectives to the table.
“If we complain that it is politics that has robbed Nigeria of many opportunities in its history then we must also be willing to concede that it is politics that will redeem us and set things right.
“That you are the most published or cited Professor in your field or the most brilliant and high-flying accountant, banker, lawyer or doctor will not automatically translate into success in politics.
“Politics takes a lot of learning and unlearning. As an Engineer or Doctor or Banker your training makes you take precision very seriously. Any hint of ‘compromise’ in any of these fields would immediately suggest professional misconduct.
“But in the field of partisan politics, compromise is not only acceptable, in many cases it would be a necessity, a condition for progress. Let me quickly make it clear here that I am not referring to ‘ethical’ compromise, but instead, to pragmatism – what the German politician and statesman German Statesman Otto von Bismarck had in mind when he said, and I quote, that “Politics is the art of the possible.”
“Many of the decisions you will be faced with will not be clear-cut choices between good and bad, but instead more complicated scenarios. Politics is the art of making difficult decisions; foregoing present comfort for future progress.
“It is never about insisting you must have your way, but instead about considering the often-incompatible wishes and desires of large numbers of stakeholders and forging an acceptable course of action out of it.
For a better society
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