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By Jérôme-Mario Utomi

For much of our political history, concept and reality, with particular emphasis on the underlying understanding of a Coquette by Robert Green, the author of The 48 laws of power, it won’t be out of place to call an average Nigerian a Coquette.

The reason comes from the belief that they are experts at arousing desire with a defiant appearance or a flirtatious attitude.

Their strength lies in their ability to entrap people emotionally and keep their victims in their clutches long after this arousal of desire. It is skill that places them among the most effective seducers. Instead of persuasion, some resort to lies, many to propaganda while others turn to intimidation of their supporters.

Regrettably, while this attribute has not only flourished but has flourished with unhindered access to Nigeria, it is true that today in many parts of Europe, America and Asia; it contrasts sharply with the demands of modern leadership. Let’s look at the details that support this claim.

First, write on the theme the necessary art of persuasionJay A Conger, Henry R. Kravis Research Chair in Leadership Studies at Claremont Mckenna College, noted that the days of command and control of executives by executive order are over.

Persuasion is widely seen as a skill reserved for selling products and closing deals. It is also commonly seen as another form of sneaky manipulation and one to be avoided.

Certainly, persuasion can be used in sales and deal-making situations, and it can be misused to manipulate people. But exercised constructively and to its full potential, persuasion trumps sales and is the complete opposite of deception.

Effective persuasion, he argues, becomes a negotiation and learning process whereby a persuader leads his colleagues to a shared solution to a problem. Persuasion indeed involves moving people to a position they do not currently occupy, but not by begging or cuddling. Instead, it involves careful preparation, proper framing of arguments, presenting vivid supporting evidence, and working to find the right emotional match with your audience.

Additionally, Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, in a similar research report titled The power to speak, who is heard and why, underlined something that could be described as a missing link in Nigeria’s leadership corridor when she observed, among other things, that In organizations, formal authority comes from the position one occupies. But real authority must be negotiated from day to day. The effectiveness of each manager / leader depends in part on their ability to negotiate authority and whether others strengthen or undermine their efforts. How language style reflects status plays a subtle role in placing individuals in a hierarchy.

Often, so many leaders assume that persuasion is a one-time effort. Persuasion is a process, not an event. It is rarely, if ever, possible to come up with a shared solution the first time. More often than not, persuasion involves listening to people, developing a new position that reflects the group’s input, testing more, incorporating compromises, and then trying again. If this seems like a slow and difficult process, that’s because it is. But the results are worth it.

This is the lesson every Nigerian leader must learn from this conversation.

For a leader to be successful in persuading, Deborah Tannen and Jay A Conger were unanimous in saying that such a leader must ask this question; Do those I hope to persuade see me as helpful, trustworthy and supportive?

The duo also said something striking.

Let’s listen again; some leaders believe that the secret to persuasion lies in making great arguments. To persuade people to change their mind, big arguments count. No doubt about it. But arguments, in and of themselves, are only part of the equation.

Other factors are just as important, such as the credibility of the persuader and their ability to create an appropriate and mutually beneficial framework for a position, to connect on the right emotional level with an audience and to communicate through vivid language that brings life. to arguments.

In my opinion, it will not be an exaggeration to conclude that the quest of the Nigerian public office holder to achieve a persuasive objective seen as strategic, which explains and propels the endless way in which offices such as the Minister of Information (for the federal government), information commissioners (states), chief press secretaries, senior special assistant (media), senior special media assistant (technical), special assistant (media) , the special assistant (information gathering), the special assistant (media printing) and a special assistant (electronic media), among others, are created.

As part of this arrangement, a government spokesperson communicates to people the work done (i.e. political and institutional) by the government. The task of assisting and supporting members of government and the government itself is entrusted to the spokesperson.

However, the question can be asked: is the topic discussed relevant in the arena of public leadership in Nigeria? To what extent have these appointed / elected officials executed / exploited persuasive leadership strategies in their day-to-day administrations? What is the future of persuasive leadership in Nigeria? What will be the state of public leadership in Nigeria over the next hundred years; success or failure?

While providing answers to questions is as important as the article itself, one more thing that bothers me is that instead of developing the art and act of persuasive leadership, most Current public office holders in Nigeria are capped with the spirit / attributes of Paul Joseph Goebbels, a German Nazi politician and Reich Propaganda Minister of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was one of the most associated associates. closest and most devoted to Adolf Hitler and was known for his public speaking skills and deeply virulent anti-Semitism, which was evident in his publicly expressed views.

This new attribute of Nigerian public office holders has made the innocent / well-meaning position of persuasion in leadership a platform for fierce political and ideological warfare in a way that denies rationality as human beings.

A great amount of innocent human character has been shed, wars of words have been fought, countless souls / ambitions have been persecuted and martyred.

In recent times, spokespersons have failed to communicate lofty ideas and ideals. This consequence of their failures is responsible for why lawlessness currently prevails in the country and explains why Nigerians are dwindling and getting poorer on a daily basis.

Take for example, instead of telling their constituents what the real problems are or encouraging them to keep the promises that gave them victory at the polls, reduce the challenges the people face and promote consensus politics, some government spokespersons encourage division, support autocratic tendencies, and endorse / promote the media trial of political opponents.

In most cases, they become propagandists using radio, television and the Internet as outlets to relentlessly feed Nigerians.

Whenever some of these spokespersons are confronted with embarrassing facts about their constituents, they fall back on not very objective data, generating inferences that can never be called explicit.

While finding solutions to the unwelcoming behaviors of government spokespersons will have far-reaching effects both on civil servants and on all Nigerians, as it is endowed with the capacity to create socio-economic prosperity and to push the masses to work together for the greater good of the nation, it has become extremely urgent for government spokespersons, image makers and media assistants to understand that every decision they make requires a value judgment because different decisions produce different results

Jerome-Mario Utomi, Program Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Advocacy for Social and Economic Justice, SEJA, wrote from Lagos. It could be reached via; [email protected] or 08032725374.


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