The argument bothering on prospects and choices of leaders between technocrats and politicians in respect to good governance has continued to dominate our discourse in recent times so much so that if not perfectly ironed out may become a reason upon which credibility may be sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity.
First of all, let us look at the two words TECHNOCRAT and POLITICIAN wholistically.
Who is a TECHNOCRAT?
The word technocrat can refer to someone exercising governmental authority because of their knowledge, or “a member of a powerful technical elite”, or “someone who advocates the supremacy of technical experts”.
Simply put, this is the management of society by technical experts.
Who is a politician?
On the other hand, a politician refers to a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of an elected office. “a local politician”
What is their relationship?
Having explained the two terms, it is then contradictory to try to discuss good governance by separating the both as a means to score political goals because they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot be a good politician without some level of technocracy needed to drive ideas into reality. Also, every technocrat in the corridors of power requires a great level of political experience to perform and deliver the needed result. Therefore, separating the two is a misplaced argument. We will draw inferences from history to drive this home.
In our familiar clime, I don’t know if it will be more factual to say that Politicians like Dr Michael Okpara, Dr Akanu Ibiam, and the likes were Technocrats or vice versa. These were men that came from professional fields as Medical Doctors to give meaning to being a politician by delivering optimally. We know many politicians also that did not come as technocrats but performed perfectly well in delivering on expectations, whereas we can also point at many Technocrats that are nowhere to be found in terms of good governance.
Lest we confuse our expectations, in as much as Technocrats seems not to be partisan politicians before vying for elective offices, most of them work side by side, in pari passu with politicians along the corridors of power from where they gathered experience and the prerequisites for partisanship even while still in their professional fields.
Using Prof Soludo, the recently elected Governor of Anambra State as an example, it will be difficult to separate him from politics before his election because he has been actively playing political roles (mostly via appointments) from the days of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo era down to Anambra State and these provided a vehicle for him to rise to become the Governor as a Technocrat (Now a partisan politician), point being that a Technocrat cannot achieve political glory without first becoming a politician. Therefore, it will remain a misplaced argument to continue to harmer on Technocracy as a condition for delivery while dismissing politics as evil. One way or the other, a politician is a known partisan that have government machinery to deliver dividends to his people who may choose to be corrupt and indolent whereas a technocrat is a professional that will join partisan politics, either to use his wealth of experience to deliver or become corrupt and indolent.
As such, being a technocrat or a politician is not a condition for good governance, rather, antecedents, experience, influence, political will-power to drive ideas should be our guiding factors.
For example, President Barak Obama of America was a man that perfectly blended the two aspects to the good of Americans. While he was a practising lawyer, he was a strong and vocal activist whose actions influenced the government policies to the advantage of his people. Over time, still as a Technocrat, he became a force to reckon with, he later joined partisan politics and won as America’s president where he performed well, finished and returned to his legal practice.
We also have another example at home where Dr Alex Otti, a fine and accomplished Technocrat stormed the political terrain and used his influence and contacts to bulldoze his way into the heart of Abians. Yet his greatest undoing was that he ignored politicians and relied on co-technocrats who could not offer him the political vehicle to ride into Lion House, the rest is now history. In order words, a technocrat without political leaning is like an anchor in the wind.
Suffice all these to say that as Abians, we are not doing the State a favour by creating an atmosphere of trying to favour the product package (the Technocrats) without considering the content (the politicians they will become), it will mean shortchanging the state.
Like I have always advocated, only experience, antecedents (either as a politician or a technocrat), pedigree (ability to exert political will), can guarantee the selection of good leaders for Abia State in 2023, anything short of that is a misplaced argument that will end up deceiving the electorates.
Comr Amos Kalu is a Social Media Influencer, Analyst and Advocate For Abia Good Governance. Writes from Abuja, FCT.
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