Hello Your Excellency,
My name is David Jesse. I used to be a king in Israel. I know you are a Muslim and you may know me as Dawud (David). I am the one the Holy Qur’an affirms: “And Allah gave him the kingdom! and wisdom and taught him of that which He willed.” (2: 251).
I heard about you and the great work you are doing in Kaduna State. I am not surprised. I have observed your growth and development as a leader over the years.
I was also a great leader and we seem to have a lot in common.
One, I was young when I got into National limelight .
Two, I was thrust into limelight by the action of the Prophet Samuel. Same way it was a former Nigerian President that gave you a platform to show your skills.
Three, I was also on exile at a time when the government in power moved against me. I believe same thing happened to you.
However, people say I am strong, lanky and attractive. I have not heard anyone make such comment about you. I think we differ on that note.
I took an opportunity that changed my destiny and killed Goliath (Jalut). That singular event brought me national fame and glory. It is like what you did at Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) and as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
To the reason for this letter, I heard you tested teachers in your state and most of them failed. You were reported to have said you would sack them. All of them!
Nasir, please don’t do that.
Let me tell you something. I commanded the best army back in my days. I never lost a battle. My soldiers were excellent and precise, they were top notch officers who were always ready to deliver the goods. I suspect you also want your teachers to be sharp and top notch like my soldiers.
However, that’s not the whole story.
I started as a soldier in Saul’s army. It was a great army and everything was going well. We selected the best as soldiers, they were fit and trained. We also gave them the best weapons. I joined the army, rose through the ranks and did great things. I worked with excellent people. I eventually became a commander. Then, I had a problem with the commander- in- chief and left the army. I ran away from the country (Another similarity with you, you also ran away from Nigeria).
And while I was in exile, I had an interesting experience. People left the city to come and join me. They knew I was a great army general and they wanted to join my army. I agreed. But there was a problem: they were ALL hopeless as soldiers!
“So, David got away and escaped to the Cave of Adullam. When his brothers and others associated with his family heard where he was, they came down and joined him. Not only that, but all who were down on their luck came around—losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts. David became their leader. There were about four hundred in all” 1 Samuel 22: 1-2 The Message (MSG)
How did I respond to this? I was used to excellent soldiers. Fit and trained. Not these useless bunch. I had worked with the best; how do I cope with these folks. I was in the same situation you have found yourself. What do I do with losers, vagrants and misfits? I suspect that is what you see in all those teachers.
But I knew something. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of it. I also know that with God, I could do exploits with men and things. I decided back then to take a chance on these guys, I decided to train and re-train them.
But who trains misfits? Only Leaders do such crazy things.
Did I take a risk? Yes. How did I defend myself while training these folks?
Did this slow me done? Yes, it did. The training time was long, tiring and boring.
And the result? You may want to read 2 Samuel 23:8-39 (NKJV). It’s a story about their exploits. These guys were called “the mighty men whom David had”. A miracle had happened! My misfits were now mighty men. I had transformed them. They weren’t misfits any longer.
And did you notice, they were famously referred to as my mighty men. Why? Because I invested, trained and transformed them.
Transformational leaders transform people and things. They don’t transform by selling off poor staff and shipping in new replacements. Transformational leaders take rough cuts and turn them into gold.
That’s what I would like you to also do.
I heard you told the World Bank’s delegation that, “The hiring of teachers in the past was politicized and we intend to change that by bringing in young and qualified primary school teachers to restore the dignity of education in the state,”. How do you know the hiring was politicized? Okay, assuming it was, why not turn it around? That’s what leaders do. They turn things around. And as for you hiring qualified people? Why not qualify the people you have rather than look for qualified people?
How you see your people matters. I had misfits but I chose to see generals. I called the generals in them out. And generals they became. The mind- set of a leader is very important. Nasir, what do you see in your people?
I know you love football. I have seen teams play poorly in the first half of a match but get into the second half and play excellent football. Same players, different performances. The only difference is the half-time. But what about the half-time period? Beyond the opportunity to rest, Coaches use half time to talk to players. That talk provides perspectives, rekindles hope, motivates performance and empower the team to do things differently. As a leader, coaching is a good tool to make a difference. Coach your teachers, Nasir.
You may think I don’t know how bad those teachers are. How can it be explained that a teacher failed a primary four examinations? It’s bad your teachers failed. They shouldn’t have failed.
I think your case is even better than mine. Your teachers sat for the examination but failed. The guys that I had couldn’t even seat for an examination! Yours sat and failed. Mine won’t even have the patience or discipline to write an examination. But, I transformed them despite their shortcomings.
Some people have said some of these teachers are untrainable. I don’t think so.
You need to re-define your role in this situation. This situation has made you conclude that you need to protect the students by sacking those teachers. I recommend you see things differently. Those teachers also need help. Remember they are part of your Human Capital. And you have an obligation to help them. When you help both the students and the teachers, Kaduna state is the better for it.
You may think I am old school and don’t understand the reality of the modern world. Let me quote three people you might know because they are in the modern world;
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others” —Jack Welch
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” —Harvey Firestone
“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker
Welch, Firestone and Druker were all saying what I have been saying. Develop your guys. Invest and improve them.
Nasir, I did it. You too can do it. Yes, You Can!
King David Jesse
Fawehinmi, human resource professional, is also an education enthusiast.
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