Public office is an instrument of service and responsibility to the people and should not be synonymous with the accumulation of power, privilege and wealth, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has said.
Osinbajo said this Monday at the All Progressives Congress (APC) Professionals Forum’s Conference held at the State House Banquet Hall,m in Abuja.
He said professionals interested in politics and nation-building must turn the tide where “holding public office in Nigeria at any level is largely perceived as synonymous with the accumulation of power, privilege and wealth.”
According to him, professionals that would shape the country’s future in one way or the other are those that have the “understanding that public office is an instrument of service and responsibility to the people.”
The Vice President said Nigerians must break the paradox of individual genius and collective underperformance, especially as the country has “many gifted, accomplished and remarkable individuals across all walks of life all over the world.”
“There is a clear mismatch between our individual quality and our national outcomes. We have not yet become greater than the sum of our individual selves,” he said.
He said the needed synergy between living up to the merits of professional calling and dedication to public service would produce the desired national impact.
“While it is true that we have several excellent individuals in various spheres of society, we must recognize that success in a country such as ours can no longer be defined in personal or individual terms…True progress is about reimagining our collective circumstances and creating an environment that enables prosperity for us all.
“To this end, we must see ourselves as stewards of the common good who have been entrusted with the privilege of managing our collective destiny – the collective destiny of our people – for an allotted time. It is only through public-spiritedness and dedication to the common good that we can as a people truly become greater than the sum of our parts,” he said.
He said professionals in politics must also see beyond tribal, religious and other sentiments if they truly want to make significant impact in national development.
“There is no point in having professionals in politics if the professionals are driven by ethnic, religious and other parochial considerations. Because the whole point of professionalism is that you are defined by merit, by your professional acumen.
“The usefulness of professionals in politics is that you have people who are used to being assessed on the basis of their own achievements and who are unafraid to make competence the first advertorial of their acumen. In other words, professionals emphasize the role of merit in public life,” he said.
He said an important advantage of having professionals in politics is lost “if we do not recognize that our role as merit-driven persons must be to fight the temptation of ethnic, religious and other parochial considerations in making the crucial decisions for the development of our nation.”
“Nobody would place their lives in the hands of an incompetent doctor because they share the same faith or continue to patronize a dangerously inept auto-mechanic because they belong to the same tribe,” he said.
The Vice President called on Nigerians not to be swayed by those whose sole argument for power is an appeal to sectional sentiments.
“We must resist it and we must say “no” to it; otherwise, we fail in our professional calling.
“The privileged or the elite, both individually and collectively, have a responsibility, an obligation to society to plan, organise, order or reorder it, and, above all, to make sacrifices for the maximum benefit of all.
“It is our expected role to find common cause across professions, vocations, ethnicities and faiths defining the minimum terms and conditions for the safety, security, growth and prosperity of our communities.
“It is the elite that define clearly what is lofty, noble, and deserving of honour, and how these values can be sustained, preserved and enforced,” he said.