By Samuel Aruwan
I am grateful to the organizers of this launch for finding me worthy to share views on mentorship in government and politics. My heartfelt congratulations-to the developers of the “5-minute mentor-mentee platform” for successfully birthing this worthy initiative. Thank you for giving me the chance to share, engage and interact on this level.
My submission will hinge on discipline, patience as the answers to the questions. I will be focusing on discipline and humility, which form the core of my values system, as the keys that will enable a mentee to succeed and breakthrough in life, but I digress.
There is a popular quote that says, if we can see further, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants. Another line of thought says a society grows when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. I believe that these thoughts capture the essence and importance of mentoring. Mentors are those giants who give us their shoulders so that we can rise and make a difference, and when by the grace of God, we succeed, it is a representation of those trees they planted long ago, now providing shade to many others.
Personally, I value mentorship greatly. I consider myself a privileged beneficiary of quality mentoring at various levels and stages of my life, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have received (and am still receiving) to be mentored. I would like to run through a bit of that briefly. It may take more than 5 minutes, but bear with me for now, I’m sure I will be more concise on the app!
I am a Nigerian from Kaduna State, I am a journalist, a proud one in public service and I have no regrets, just gratitude to God and my chief mentor, the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai who watered the ground and opened the space for me and many youngsters in droves since 2015.
I will not bore you with the meaning of mentor or mentee but I am a mentee, a product of a mentor. Even by order of birth, God made me a natural mentee; in our family, I am the youngest. From that position I watched how the complex issues of polygamy were managed and thrashed out.
In my career, in virtually all the places I have worked and am still working, I have always been the youngest of all or one of the youngest. In my twenties I started formal media work at LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Blueprint Newspapers after internship/informal engagement at New Nigerian, Daily Independent Newspapers and the Information Unit of Kaduna South Local Government.
Mentorship in Government and Politics
As a journalist covering Government activities, politics, security and other issues, I had a general knowledge of how government is run and the turbulent politics from outside, but I never dreamed of being in government or participating in partisan politics but here I am today.
In an informal but indirect mentorship strategy, my mentor in 2014 ahead of 2015 elections, without recourse to my several limitations of age, experience, managerial skills and lack of a post graduate education, appointed me his Spokesperson, and Spokesperson of the Kaduna State APC Campaign Council.
It was a huge challenge for a young journalist of my class but my chief mentor, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai in company of other notable members of the team, Arc. Yusuf Bala Barnabas, Malam Balarabe Abbas Lawal, Alhaji Muhammad Bashir Saidu, late Professor Jonathan Andrew Nok, Yusuf Ibrahim Zailani and Olumuyiwa Adekeye were my tutors. Supporting and encouraging me to do ‘this or that’ or next time ‘this is how it should be’ and so on.
With the support of my mentor and tutors and with the help of almighty God, I developed courage, confidence and became bolder in conducting media and political engagements until we won the election and my mentor was declared Governor-elect. From Spokesperson of a Governorship candidate, I became Spokesperson of a Governor-elect and another chapter opened.
With the pre-election activity sharpening one’s understanding of politics and campaigns, there began a process ‘transition’, a process of both outgoing and in-coming governments working together. Under the leadership of Malam Balarabe Abbas Lawal, a seasoned civil servant, teacher and administrator, I was grilled in the administration of the Transition Committee and in addition to that, he also insisted that I become a member of the Swearing-In Ceremony Committee.
He converted me to double as protocol officer as well, entrusting me with funds to manage. Ahead of the inaugural lecture, I was saddled with several responsibilities. The inaugural lecture was successful with late Professor Pius Adesanmi as the guest speaker, while General Martin Luther Agwai chaired the occasion.
The point of this narrative here is to highlight the dynamics of trust and growth in this journey, reflecting on my involvement in campaigns, media and transition committee activities preparatory to involvement in government vis-à-vis politics and other endeavors which I will elucidate.
With the swearing-in ceremony of a new administration coming close, my mentor appointed me his official Spokesperson and Spokesperson of the Kaduna State Government on the 27th May, 2015. The journey into formal politics and governance began minutes after mentor (Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai) took oath of office.
I served in several committees including the Kaduna State Security Council which comprises heads of all military, police and para-military agencies operating in Kaduna State. I was deeply involved in managing challenges coming out of the reforms we carried out in education, health and security sectors. There are other issues I will address someday in a book, I am working on, and which I will be glad to provide for the digital platform.
The politics of 2019 election was an interesting one and a watershed. I was deeply involved and active as Director of the APC Campaign Council Media Directorate aside being its Spokesperson. I was part of the committee that reviewed and re-organized the party in the State. We did an honest and realistic assessment job and it paid off.
Some who wanted to oust the El-Rufai’s administration were tough and petty, there were surreptitious moves to silence and ostracize me. I saw hell, real blackmail, demonization, denigration and outright lies to bury me alive at all cost, and they ventured in series of demonization as a launch pad.
I experienced open insults, baseless and unjustifiable condemnation, bitterness, arrogance and pomposity, but God did his miracle, I came out unscathed to the glory of God.
Continuation of the journey
In July 2019, I was appointed pioneer Commissioner in the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs. The Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs was created, with a mandate to ensure policy formulation and coordination of internal security matters and intelligence gathering in the State; liaison with all Federal and State security agencies (mainly the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Police, and other para-military security organizations); liaison with the Kaduna State Peace Commission and Local Government Peace Committees; coordinate inter-faith relations and pilgrimage matters and supervise any executive agency or parastatal within the mandate of the Ministry.
My story is a long one, but I will tell you the rationale of my standing before you here as a journalist in public service traversing politics and governance. It is simply the truest demonstration of a mentor-mentee arrangement in government and politics.
My current job is in security administration, and you will agree that security is crucial. At present, we are confronted with daunting security challenges which we are working assiduously day and night to end. The problem has several ramifications, but I want to put this across, that on the social side, what we are facing now is the result of a chronic moral and leadership crisis, and a gap in quality mentoring.
That is why the launch of this platform is very timely. I commend Ralph and the entire Greysoft team for this initiative, which is using technology to solve a desperate social problem. We must take responsibility for our future and our posterity. We who have been blessed to experience positive mentorship have a responsibility to build a bridge to the generations behind by extending such mentorship to them. It is a debt we owe the future. With this, hopefully we can bring quality guidance and direction to the youth.
To wrap this up, I believe that to succeed in life, to live a life of purpose, we must imbibe the right values. For me, those values have been discipline and patience. I know that other esteemed resource persons here will enrich the overall experience. But this is just my side of it, to put it simply: anything contrary to discipline, humility and patience is a visa to doom and unsuccessful life. With the help of almighty God, discipline and patience are the answers to the questions of life and beyond.
Apart from the points I’ve raised, of discipline, patience, humility and so on, young people must learn to understand their limits at every point in time and must distance themselves from activities that could mar or hinder the realization of their visions.
There is no justification for getting involved in denigrating people, sensationalism, virtue signaling and all this fashionable outrage on social media and such like. Identify and pursue goals vigorously without unhealthy competition and comparisons.
Life is dynamic. It is not the same graph for everybody. Some begin early and have a disastrous end. Some start late and end well.
Also, our parents are assets. Apart from God, we must stand by our parents. We must respect them, and honour them as a guiding light. Finishing well with parents is a principle and a gateway to life. As an individual, if there is something that I find very satisfying, it is the fact that I ended well with my parents. It is one of the most valuable prizes in life. It confers honour, both as a divine principle and a basic human value.
This is simply my two cents, what I aim to transmit, and what I aim to contribute to this commendable initiative as a mentee myself, and I hope and pray that it will steer minds in the right direction.
Once again, congratulations-on a successful app launch.
Thank you for listening.
Aruwan is the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna state.