That Politics Should Be Made Less Attractive

Eyoh Etim

Mrs Patient Suffering sat in her rented apartment lost in thought. It had been two years since her retirement from the civil service of Mountain State but she was yet to get her gratuity. Though she loved her job, she sometimes regretted putting in 35 years of her life in the service of her country only to wallow in pain and poverty at the end with almost nothing to show for it. God will help a poor widow, she sighed. Ever since her husband died ten years ago, she had been the one to fend for the family and for herself. If she had got her gratuity, she would at least have developed the plot of land she and her husband bought before his death. She cannot even afford to pay the new rent that her landlord had just decreed she must pay or be served quit notice.


Fire Power was Mrs Patient Suffering’s landlord. He was a university drop out and a cultist who roamed the streets of Mountain State for years in touting and in thuggery. He was made a councillor just four years ago within which time he built three houses in different parts of the state, bought three cars, married and had two children. He was at the moment contesting to be the Chairman of his local government area, which means more money, more houses, more cars, if he wins.


I used the analogy above to illustrate the skewed system that we currently operate and to urge that, if we are sincere about enthroning efficient and effective leadership in our society, we must, as a matter of urgency, make politics less attractive and make the civil service and entrepreneurship more attractive. People who have track records of service in their community, business and in the civil service ought to be those appointed to serve in government. They should also be those called to contest for political offices.

The current situation where everyone wants to go into politics cannot be allowed to continue. It is obvious that these crowds are attracted to politics because politics itself is attractive in terms of the dividends it pays its investors. Most of the people in politics are not interested in serving the people. They are only interested in serving themselves and their pockets. They see politics as the easiest means to acquire wealth, power and fame because in politics one can become rich, powerful and famous overnight.

I believe that once politics is made less attractive, the current traffic in its route will be reduced and only those who have business travelling that road will undertake the journey. Politics as it is currently constructed is nothing other than a get-rich-quick scheme where desperate men kill one another to stay on top of their game. Sometimes they kill literally, at other times they kill the reputation of their competitors or enemies. They do not hesitate to use extraordinary and vile powers – charms and potent magic – to enhance their chances in the dangerous game.

This explains all the scenarios that usually present themselves during elections. The solution to this problem is to make politics less attractive and instead make the civil service and entrepreneurship more attractive. To make politics less attractive means to drastically reduce its lucrativeness. There is no lesson in patience and hard work for the younger generation to learn if they constantly see those who spent years working for government remaining poor or impoverished at old age and retirement, while someone who has just been appointed PA (Personal Assistant) commands power, money and respect.

I suggest that political appointees should mostly be drawn from the civil service, the academia and the business world. And these should be people who have carved a niche for themselves while serving their community and government. Their appointment should be for a certain term and then they can return to their posts or businesses so that others can equally be appointed. A situation where a political appointee drawn from the civil service wants to stay in government for life should not be allowed. Of course, I do not blame these ones. What would you do if you suddenly realised that your daily allowances were more than your monthly salary in the civil service multiplied by five. Who for no like better thing?

  But of course when the salaries and allowances of political appointees and elected officers are drastically reduced, there will be no incentive whatsoever for the individual to want to stay put in power except the person really has the interest of the people at heart. We want to get to a point where we would have to persuade people to leave their lucrative salaries and allowances in the civil service to serve in government as against the current situation where people fall over themselves to be appointed PAs. We want also want to get to a point where it would be considered a sacrificial act for the CEO to leave his thriving business venture to accept an appointive position in government because there will be nothing to gain materially out of the service except the commendation he will receive from the people.

In order for us to have leaders who truly love the people, who have passion for serving the people, let the salaries and allowances of political office holders be reduced to be exactly like, if not less than, those of the average senior civil servants so that it will make no difference whether the individual remains in the civil service or accepts to serve the people. It is only in situations like this that we will know those who truly have passion for leadership in society.   

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