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Hiring the Next President

By Aruosa Osemwegie GPHR, SPHR
26 January 2015   |   11:00 pm
Introduction  Next month Nigeria decides. Nigerian people must decide the fate of their nation. That also means the fate of existing generations, as well as those unborn. Few decisions can compare to the weight of this decision. The import of this decision on the nation is overwhelming. Such is the weight that rests upon each…



Next month Nigeria decides. Nigerian people must decide the fate of their nation. That also means the fate of existing generations, as well as those unborn. Few decisions can compare to the weight of this decision. The import of this decision on the nation 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 the decision. Is this the first time we are going to the polls? No. Is there something different about this time? Yes. A resounding Yes!

IT is still not clear whether the majority of the people know how to go about deciding who to elect or hire, using the voter’s card.  More important, ‘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, leveraging on the ideas from the profession that has been saddled with facilitating 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 help the people make an informed choice of President at the forthcoming election.

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 


 3)  A description of the ideal 


4)  The process to be used; and 

5)   The long term vision of the 

       organization, in this case, the country. 

First, we must 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, before you begin to assess and evaluate the choices available.    

     That is because, while two job titles may be the same, the organizational and/or external contexts may differ.  A diagnosis of this is therefore key to arriving at the best candidate.  

Factors to consider include the following:

•  Is the organization in a decline? 

     Is it far behind its peers? 

•   Is the present occupant of the    

     role considered a resounding      

     success, or a failure, or shades of 

     any of this? 

•   Is the marketplace demanding     

      a breath of fresh air, or a  


•   Is the entire organizational 

     leadership the problem, or just 

     this role? 

•  Is the organizational culture enabling or hindering performance? E.g. the internal organizational dynamics and the external CBN and marketplace pulse that saw Funke Osibodu emerge CEO of Union bank in 2009 were different from what  brought in Emeka Emuwa as CEO in 2012.  Differences in context could make the CEO needed to do the job different. 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 preliminary work leads to a better definition of the person-type needed to fit into this role. Some points to consider are: 

—  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 an INDICATION of possible repeated successes.  Football fans allege that based on past experience, Manchester United should definitely have hired Luis van Gaal, instead of David Moyes, as coach, from the beginning. 

The Nigerian Socioeconomic Context in 2015

    The context of Nigeria’s 2015 elections differs so very much from that of previous elections. Just as the context of a startup is significant in hiring for a top executive position in an organization, it is also important to take cognizance of the state of the country, when considering the best man (or woman) for the job of Nigeria’s presidency.

    Today’s Nigeria is full of controversy. There are sharp divisions along sectarian, tribal, and religious lines, more than we had ever seen. In addition, while some pinpoint the need for change, others emphasize the need for continuity to build on present achievements. Moreover,  a section of the country believes it’s time for power to return to the northern part of the country, while others feel the north should wait for 2019.

    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 insecurity challenges 

•  Proffer workable measures to whittle down regional restiveness

•   Take steps to effectively dam corruption

•   Strengthen institutions of 


•   Plug possible leaks to government revenue

•  Provide electricity to power the economy (and not an Electricity Plan)

•  Implement (not talk about) wholesale constitutional review

•    Design short and long term plans to shore up the value of the naira 

•    Implement a multi-product 


•   Etc, etc!

Whilst a job description would have a number of general entries that apply to all employees, or all cadres of staff, each job description has Essential Requirements – what you may call the non-negotiables. The list above represents some of the needfuls 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, and 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 qualities:

•  Ability to attract new talent into government

•  Ability to take a hard stance against 


•   Ability and posture to tackle insurgence in 

     all regions

•  Intelligence or security background ( an advantage)

•  Ability to confront the establishment 

•  Abundant passion and will for a new Nigeria 

•   Possession of a leadership mien

•    Ability to lead and manage opposing groups     

      e.g. security forces and politicians

•    Ability to inspire the followership 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 need to 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 insecurity? Tick. Does any of the competitors have training or work experience that helps him or her understand security and intelligence? Tick. Is there any contestant that can be described as a different type of politician? 

    One of the tests 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 professionals, 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 he/she able to set off a new vision for the country, or former organisations, as the case may be, or was it business as usual? Tick. Which of them would appeal more to global watchers seeking a country to invest in, or have their citizens live and thrive? Tick.  

Next Steps: Hire the next President at the Polling Booth

    Choose a candidate using the template already provided, or else, put together some more plausible template that will equally work. Talk to people about the choice you have made, in case they haven’t made a choice. Use the social media and all other media to tell family, friends and colleagues about your choice. 

   They may be unclear or even confused, so your reasons may help them clarify some issues. Where you feel that their choice differs from yours, engage in robust and healthy discussions over it, provided it doesn’t lead to enmity. We must be able to accommodate opposing views and still use superior arguments or simple templates, such as this, to arrive at a candidate that serves the overall good of the nation. 

   Regrettably, it is only in Nigeria that we wish for credible candidates but don’t want to be personally bothered. The truth is that elections cost money. So invest in your candidates – donate money to them. 

     Put your money where your mouth is. And 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.