Nigeria Decides 2015: Hiring the Next President

Hiring Nigeria's Next PresidentNext month Nigeria decides. Nigerian people decide the fate of our nation. The fate of generations unborn. Few decisions can compare to the weight of this decision. The weight of the import of this decision is overwhelming. Such is the weight that rests upon each voter’s card.

Who would ever have thought that a simple plastic card could wield such power? It has crossed my mind that some may shy away from voting because of the enormity of this decision.

Is this the first time we are going to the polls? No.

Is there something different about this time? Yes. A resounding Yes!

Do the majority of us know how to go about deciding who to elect or hire using our voter’s card? Is there a template or formula or guideline we can you use? The answer is Yes.

And that is the thrust of this article. What is the objective?

To provide people a template that should make their choice of President at the forthcoming election much easier. We would leverage on the ideas from the profession that has been saddled with facilitating and overseeing the selection of people post-Adam.

And that is the Human Resources profession. This exposé seeks to provide a guideline/template, from a human resource perspective that should make your choice of President at the forthcoming election much easier.

HR template for hiring into a senior leadership role

In filling a vacancy into a senior leadership role, there are five main considerations that make up this template;

1) The organizational and external context of the job;

2) The definition of the role or the job;

3) A description of the ideal candidate;

4) The process to be used; and

5) Long term vision of the organization or in this case, the country.

Start with the job and organization, before considering candidates. Let me explain. You must first get granular clarity of the nature of the job, skills required, experience depth and breadth required. Now while two job titles maybe the same, the organizational context would differ and as such an organizational and an external environment diagnosis is key. Is the organization on a decline? Is it far behind its peers? Is the present occupant of the role considered a resounding success, or a resounding failure, or shades of any of this?

Is the marketplace demanding for a breath of fresh air or a continuance? Is the entire organizational leadership the problem or just this role? Is the organizational culture enabling or hindering performance? Eg the internal organizational dynamics and the external CBN and marketplace pulse that saw FunkeOsibodu emerge CEO of Union bank in 2009 is different from the one that brought EmekaEmuwa as CEO 2012.

Embellishing further, the Union Bank that Funke met is different from the Union Bank that Emeka met. This differences in context could make the CEO needed to do the job different, one from another. The overall objective is to fit the candidate to the role . . . to the organizational and external context . . . and to the long term vision.

More details on this HR template

This pre-work leads to a better definition of the person-type that would fit into this role. In considering the person, we would look at his/her intellectual or educational background, past experience or pedigree, attitude/character and relevant skills.

For senior leadership roles, the ability and capacity to lead and inspire trust and followership is key – as most of the work is done through other people. Past experience is also very crucial. In HR parlance, past performance is the predictor of future performance.

Marcus Buckingham later said that past REPEATED performance is the predictor of future performance. Here we are looking for concrete evidence that the individual has done work or managed resources of a magnitude that gives us an INDICATION that such an individual can undertake sthis also. Based on past experience, and based also on the magnitude of success already achieved, Manchester United should definitely have hired Luis van Gaal instead of David Moyes from the beginning.

The Nigerian Socioeconomic Context in 2015

Let’s go ahead and apply our template to the task of jointly hiring the next Nigerian President. As at the moment of this writing, more bombs have gone off in this country in the last four years than at any other time, wartime excluded; Borno State has almost been overrun by insurgents; hundreds of girls have been kidnapped in series of raids; there have been mutinies within the army and court-martials; and curiously the international community seems to be indifferent. Not sure we have ever been this divided along sectarian and religious lines.

Corruption has been given a front seat and we now have courts throwing out cases “for lack of diligent prosecution”. Unabated pipeline vandalisation has chased away giants such as Shell from large parts of Niger Delta. We have heard of us being the largest economy and youths are now asking for the dividends of this size, alas the mean distance between the rich and the poor continues to grow. The Power Sector is still in a state of becoming after billions of dollars from successive administrations. Comparatively, today’s climate differs from that of the last two elections.

In 2013, when Manchester United was looking for a successor to Alan Ferguson, it was a search for someone who would extend their years of success and glory. It was a jolly search. When they fell from their high horse of success under the new coach, Moyes, and sought for a new coach again, this time the climate was one of gloom and the search party was more sober. Could I be wrong to think that Nigeria now may be closer to the heads-bowed-shoulder-deflated Man United before Luis van Gaal’s arrival?

Job Description: Nigerian President 2015-2019

A Job Description is “a broad, general, and written statement of a specific job, based on the findings of a job analysis. It generally includes duties, purpose, responsibilities, scope, and working conditions of a job along with the job’s title, and the name or designation of the person to whom the employee reports” (ref. businessdictionary).

The job description for this role has at least the following items on the “Main Responsibilities” segment:

  • Develop an immediate solution to terrorism and insurgence
  • Develop a lasting solution to regional restiveness and insurgence
  • Effective campaign to dam corruption and its effect on the economy
  • Strengthen institutions of government
  • Plug leaks to government revenue through NNPC and others
  • Provide electricity to power the economy (and not an Electricity Plan)
  • Implement (not talk about) wholesale constitutional review
  • Develop and implement a reduction in the cost of governance
  • Design a short and long term plan for solving the challenges facing the naira and for implementation of a multi-product economy
  • Etc

Whilst a job description would have a number of general entries that apply to all employees, or that applies to cadres of staff, each job description is meant to have Essential Requirements – what you may call the non-negotiables. The list above represents such for this role at this time.

Person Specification of Ideal candidate for Job of Nigerian President 2015-2019

The person specification details the:knowledge (including necessary qualifications), skills and abilities, experience, aptitudes, required to do the job, specifying which are essential and which are desirable; these may be different from the attributes of the previous post-holder (ref. University of London). The ideal candidate for this job must possess most of these knowledge, experience and qualities:

  • Ability to attract new talent into government
  • Ability to take a hard stance against corruption
  • Ability and posture to tackle insurgence
  • Intelligence or security background (not compulsory but could be an advantage)
  • Ability to confront the establishment
  • Possess passion and will for a new Nigeria
  • Possession of a leadership mien
  • Ability to lead and manage opposing groups eg the security forces and politicians
  • Ability to inspire and chart a new course for Nigeria
  • Ability to create a new culture for Nigeria

Where do we look for evidence of these knowledge and traits in the candidates? We would sieve through their past work experience, results achieved, reference checks on former colleagues, academics and trainings, etc. Draw up a checklist and start to tick off.

For example, which candidate has more success dealing with insurgence? Tick.

Does anyone of them have some training or work experience that enhances his or her ability to understand security and intelligence? Tick.

Is there anyone of them that is vying for President but can be referred to as a different type of politician? One of the test of great leaders is the ability to attract talented people to do the work.

“After several years in government I realized that the more talented people I had as ministers, administrators, and professional, the more effective my policies were, and the better the results” – Lee Kuan Yew (Prime Minister, Singapore, 1959-1990).


During the candidate’s past work life was any of them able to set off a new vision for the country or their former organisations or was it business as usual? Tick.

Which of them would appeal much more to global watchers seeking a country where they can invest and live because it is safe, and laws work? Tick.

Does any of them have verifiable leadership development from institutions of note? Tick.

Next Steps: Hire the next President at the Polling Booth

Choose a candidate using template already provided. Talk to people about the choice you have made, in case they haven’t made a choice. Use social media and all media to tell family, friends and colleagues about your choice.

They maybe unclear or even confused. Where you feel that their choice differs from yours, engage in robust and healthy discussions over it – we must be able to accommodate opposing views and then using superior arguments or simple templates, such as this, to convince them of your candidate.

Then it is only in Nigeria that we wish for credible candidates but we don’t want to be bothered with the truth that elections cost money. So invest in your candidate – donate money to them. Just put your money where your mouth is. On election date, go out and vote. Leave your DSTV alone, don’t mind the sun and go out to vote.

Since the Valentine has been suspended till next year, show your love for the country by going out to vote. Remind your neighbour as well. You cannot help hire the next right President by doing nothing. Future generations depend on the choice we make. Choose right.