The average Nigerian social media user is excited with the news of a 39 year old Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frederic Macron who emerged the President of the French Republic after dusting his 49 years old rival, Marie Le-pen in the French presidential run-off election. Almost every politically minded youth in Nigeria nay Africa is motivated by such feat, that there has been a very vocal advocate by many groups that such story be told of Nigeria in the nearest future. The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives has even promised of a law that is being worked on in the Green Chamber to make it possible for 30 year olds to have a chance of vying for the Nigerian presidency. Presently, the Nigerian Constitution only empowers citizens, forty five years and above to vie for the presidency. But, is the Constitution, the only limitation faced by Nigerian youths, in plitics? Is it even about the system, only? The principles and attitudes of individuals are more crucial in guaranteeing their successes than any limitations or springs put on the way by the system or the Constitution.
It is important to note that the victory of Emmanuel Macron did not just come as a surprise to Africans or Nigerians, but also to the West and even the French, who voted him. Macron is actually the youngest man ever to occupy the Ellysee Palace since after the French Revolution, and also one of the youngest elected Presidents in the whole world, I think he is actually the youngest in the entire Europe. This goes to tell us that the political system in France did not make it a free for the youth struggle to power. The task of taking political power in the Western world may not be as difficult as it is down here, for the American or European youth, but it is certainly not an easy task anywhere. There are qualities and principles that are fundamental to any youth anywhere who wishes to make any serious and enviable inroad into politics, no matter where that youth is, and no matter the system of politics obtainable in his or her country. No system makes it easy for the outsider to take power, neither does any system deliberately plan its politics in such a way that any young man or woman without influential political ties or history of family wealth and influence to take power or become politically influential without deliberately and stubbornly working for it. There is something in political power that those who have already found themselves at the top will never easily give way for new breeds. However, it is a time-tested reality that those who have diligently worked and planned for power are not completely pushed over at the long run.
Down here in Nigeria, we have so many Emmanuel Macrons whom we may not want to celebrate as much as we are celebrating and even idolizing the real Macron, because like the greatest sage said it; “A prophet is without honour in his hometown.” One of such youths, who hold the potentials of leading a Macron like revolution in Nigeria, maybe, and which he has started in ImoState is Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, the Chief of Staff to the Imo State Government and one of the most formidable political forces in present day Nigeria. Ugwumba is as much as Macron, as Macron is like him. There are qualities in the two men which helped in propelling them to political relevance, against the odds of the time. Some of these qualities, not all, is what this essay is aimed at exposing.
UPBRINGING: Both men were brought up in an environment where diligence and discipline were seriously emphasized. While their parents were not very wealthy, they were among the most respected in their communities because of their integrity and the high regard people had for their professions, hence, the special care in ensuring that their children were brought up to be respectable citizens who would be good ambassadors of the family name. While President Emmanuel Macron was brought up by a practicing physician father and a professor of neurology mother, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu had the good fortune of being raised by parents who were ministers of God. These professions are alike in that they had to do with service to humanity, with less focus paid to personal gains. Medical practice, teaching and ministration in God’s vineyard are some of those professions that are basically about humanitarian service than any other thing. Growing up under parents that are involved in these professions must have had great impacts in the lives of both men, thereby, shaping their outlooks in life to be mostly focused on rendering service to humanity with no personal gain as motivating factor.
PERSONAL DISCIPLINE: No one can really make serious impacts in any chosen field of endeavour without a good dose of personal discipline and self-restraint. One of the things that stand individuals out from their peers is that rare ability to curtail their levels of indulgence. You must be able to deprive yourself of some comfort, some seemingly enticing indulgences and bear pains and deprivations on your way to greatness. If you are the type that cherishes the easy routes, then, you can only settle for the average. Emmanuel Macron and Ugwumba Uche Nwosu are where they are today and will go higher because of the things they kept themselves from enjoying while their peers grooved in them. The evidence of personal discipline is evident in the choices both men made, growing up and how well recommended they are by the organizations and individuals they have come across. While Emmanuel Macron achieved great successes as an investment banker and civil servant before delving into politics, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu made great inroads as an administrator and realtor. The young Chief of Staff, like Emmanuel Macron was born into a family that could be considered as economically average, hence, they could have only succeeded in getting to the positions they are today, through a dint of hard work and a high level of personal discipline.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MENTORS AND KEEPING THE RIGHT FRIENDS: No matter how intelligent, creative and hardworking any individual is, he needs the assistance, advise or sponsorship of a mentor. For Emmanuel Macron, there are two such individuals in his life; Allain Minc, whom the newly elected French President refers to as an adopted uncle. Both men were together at an Elitist French Club; the Inspectors of Finance. The 68 year old Minc, was responsible for the Emmanuel Macron’s employment at the elitist Rothschild Bank, as the young French President got that job, courtesy of Minc’s recommendation. Macron knew from time, where he was headed to, and he made sure to choose friends and mentors who would guide and help him to that destination. Long before he got his first ever political job, Macron had told Minc, he planned to be France’s President in 30 years from, then. He benefited hugely from the mentorship of not just Mincs, but also Jaques Attali, a former adviser to President Francois Mitterand who influenced him into joining the Socialist Party and recommended him as an adviser to immediate past President of France, Francois Hollande. For Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, he discovered the qualities he admired most early on in Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the incumbent governor of Imo State, he became his protégé and worked his way into his innermost heart, learning his style and winning his trust. Today, even though he is not the oldest friend or staff of the Imo governor, he is arguably, one of the most trusted allies of the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum. The mentorship of Owelle Okorocha in making Ugwumba Uche Nwosu the leader he has become today cannot be over-emphasized.
BURNING AMBITION: Power game is not beauty pageantry, and anyone who wants to be involved in it, must understand the need to be deft and ambitious. You must be on the lookout for what you want and know how to cash into the opportunity whenever it presents itself. When Macron was less than Twenty years old, one of his mentors asked him where he would like to be in the next thirty years, he answered emphatically; ‘President of France.’ He kept his eyes open and his ears sharp for the slightest opportunity, and he saw that chance while serving as Minister of the Economy under President Francois Hollande. Many people, including his closest friends and even his mentor, Allain Minc tried to dissuade him from taking his chance this time around, with some people telling him he would have a brighter chance by 2022, but he pushed on. Less than one year after forming his En Marche movement, he was elected President. Thanks mostly to his never say die spirit and the slip by Francois Fillon, whose popularity waned after an investigation was launched against him for alleged corruption and abuse of office. It is however important to note that Macron would not have benefited from this opportunity if he hadn’t taken the gamble of announcing his candidature under a non-establishment Party. Macron would have also being swallowed up by establishment politicians if he had thrown his hat into the ring in any of the established political Parties, as he had no chance of making it in the primaries. Like Macron, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu’s burning passion for service is second to none, and he is not one who believes that power will come falling on his laps without much work and sacrifices on his own part. Like Macron, he understands that politics is a lot of gamble, but he is not afraid to take his chances.
STEADFASTNESS: What I call a streak of positive stubbornness is obvious in these two young men. They do not take a no for an answer, as long as they have thought that idea through. Prodigious, insightful and powerfully driven, when they move, they are unstoppable. When the young President of France saw the prospects open to him in Rothschild and Cie Bank, he had to free himself from the French Civil Service against the advice of a majority of his colleagues in the French ministry where he worked, but his mind was made up. He understood that he didn’t need to work or stay in the kind of places where others liked to stay or felt were more comfortable, because he wasn’t planning on staying or ending up the same way as those people. He knew where he was going to and took actions at every point in time to enhance his chances of meeting his ultimate goal. He understood the political openings he could appropriate through Rothschild, hence, he bought himself out as a civil servant with the sum of 50,000 Pounds, even though he wasn’t yet guaranteed of the Rothschild job. This gamble was to later pay off, as he was picked from Rothschild to becoming a Senior Aide to the President of the French Republic. His firsthand experience in the Elysee Palace afforded him great chance to come in closest touch ever with the office he dreams of occupying. He understudied the politics and individuals, there and made wonderful friends while on the job. While still the Minister of the Economy, he resigned his membership of the Socialist Party and decided to go independent. Apart very few of his friends and mentors who stood by him on the day he took the decision to run for the presidency of the French many political watchers and pundits dismissed him as a dreamer, with one Minister in the Francois Hollande government creating a meme on social media, describing him as a man alone. Ugwumba Uche Nwosu listens to everybody, but like Macron, he does not wait for the all clear before throwing his hat into the ring and he can be single-minded about the dreams he is sure will serve the interest of the majority. As an intelligent young man with a huge followership especially among the students population, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu must have had some openings to shift allegiance or get his hands into some other things, but he remained steadfast in his decision to develop himself as a leader and an entrepreneur. This did not just pay off in his becoming one of the major political forces to reckon with in today’s Nigeria, but also helped him, in establishing himself as a fine and successful entrepreneur with special interest in real estate and agricultural development.
INVESTING IN THE YOUTH: At the first meeting of the En Marche (On the Move) Movement which held in Emmanuel Macron’s small apartment, the oldest person in the gathering was his wife Briggite, about 95% of other attendees at that meeting were youths below the age of thirty. The En Marche movement was eventually propelled by the energy and enthusiasm of French youths who believed in Macron’s idea of “constructing something different”. He represented the hope for the youths that they discountenanced his obvious political naivety and rallied round him. The movement was able to recruit more than 200,000 youths who embarked on a door to door campaign for their fellow youth, and eventually upturned history by delivering Macron as France’s youngest ever President after the French Revolution and the only person to ever emerge President outside the two main political parties. Ugwumba Uche Nwosu is building a formidable youth-centered political structure that will be difficult to surmount by any political force. The cerebral and industrious Imo Chief of Staff is leading a silent revolution with Imo youths at the front row, as he trashes the old practice where politicians see youths as only useful for dirty jobs. He is giving Imo and indeed Nigerian youths a renewed confidence in their own abilities to lead and also take full charge of the country. However, Uche Nwosu does not completely discountenance the usefulness of our elders, as he gives them their due respect.
MARRIAGE: Many readers will not expect me to delve into this aspect of these great leaders’ lives, because it is arguably the most controversial of the pedals that sprung them to political success. While President Macron is being criticized for marrying a woman who is 24 years his senior, some ignorant and obviously envious people pointlessly raise issues with the fact that the Imo State Chief of Staff, married the first daughter of his mentor. Marriage is very crucial in determining the overall success of any man or woman, and those who wish to succeed always start off by the choice they make in their marriages. An aspiring leader’s partner should not just be a marriage partner, but a spring to the aspirations of such a leader. For President Macron and Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, they married the women they trust, would be their long time spiritual, emotional and political backbones, women who would not see the obstacles, but join them in building the steps to the attainment of their goals, plan with them, be ready to lose with them and also win with them. These women are special because they believed in these men who have finally become great, when they were just like every other young man on the street. They signed into teaming up with them to achieve their dreams, and these women are no doubt a great part of their success stories.