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Does Experience matter in Politics?
By Navo Kaikai of the SLPP
Nov 6, 2008, 17:12
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Politics is not midwifery where by a nurse need to have delivered about 40 pregnant women to qualify as a midwife.  Neither is it teaching when you need to train as a teacher.  Politics is the only job that requires no qualification.  The only pre requisite is being an adult with a sane mind. Experience can be looked at from different angles.  A person attributes experience to the past and if the past was good or bad determines their feelings.  The use of experience only comes into play when the old school politicians try to hinder or eliminate new politicians.  Again people attribute experience to old age.  Age does not mean that one is more knowledgeable or cleverer. There are politicians with vast experience, but the question is what sort of experience.  These could be experience in bad habits like corruption, synchronism, deception, tribalism, which is often perceived as having experience.  As the saying goes, old habits do not die hard.

The population is changing and the experience phenomenon does not seem to be washing down with the young generation.  We have seen and continues to see so many examples of this.  SLPP used experience as a key factor in the 2007 general election, which did not get them back into power.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown with years of experience is trailing behind in the polls against inexperienced conservative leader David Cameron.  The same thing is happening in America with the young, inexperienced Barak Obama gaining ground in areas where no person has ever.

Is this not telling us that we in the SLPP need to start looking at leadership qualities rather than experience? In my opening sentence I mentioned that politics does not require a qualification, why then is experience a factor when it comes to the selection of leaders?  A good leader can draw on life experiences or call on others with experience to assist.  A leader is one who is able to delegate appropriately, thereby using the skills of others to take forward the agenda.

In Sierra Leone the population is young and for the most of them the experience has been bad.  The youth echoed continuity of poverty, corruption, lying, blackout, and filthiness when SLPP used (CONTINUITY) as the message during 2007 election campaign. APC government used the change phenomenon which meant hope for many people.  They might have been empty promises but it at least created a forum for hope and aspiration. The youth think and perceive things differently.  They live for the now and then and worrying about the future is not an issue.

Having the right leader is very important and experience alone should not be the deciding factor.  A new person on the block or scene might probably give us more chance of winning the 2012 election.  As far as Sierra Leoneans are concerned all those who have worked in government in Sierra Leone are corrupt. They feel that the same old politicians are being recycled over and over again with no new hope for the Country.  Selecting a leader should therefore be looked at carefully to ensure the person is young (no ageism), charismatic, articulate, with no blemishes of corruption. We need to forget about our selfish ego as human beings and start identifying and mentoring potential leaders. 

I believe our ultimate aim is to win the next election; therefore identifying a winner should be paramount.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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