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P.M’s message to public servants, sad ending of King Saul and accountability

This much we know. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s message at the swearing in of seven new Government Chief Executive Officers last Friday is something all leaders – including Cabinet Ministers, Church leaders, village leaders and anyone who wants to become a leader – should read, memorise and then do.

Being delivered at a time when several investigations by the Public Service Commission, Police, and the Attorney General’s Office are continuing into alleged misconduct on the part of certain senior public servants – including allegations of corruption, sexual harassment and abuse - the message from the Prime Minister is both timely and reassuring. 

It’s a message that needed to be delivered and have it come from the leader of this country as a form of reassurance. For the uninitiated, the speech was published in full in the Sunday Reading of your Sunday Samoan yesterday. 

For the purpose of this piece, we’ll highlight a few points Tuilaepa made. He did not mince words. First and foremost, he reminded them they are placed in those positions to do one thing – serve the people of Samoa.

 “You have been called to serve your God, country and people and to do so with humility and commitment, as the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others as reaffirmed by your declaration to dutifully serve,” the Prime Minister said. “We are all public servants. Our role is to serve the public without fear and partiality.”

To be doubly sure, this is not the first time we’ve heard this being said. But isn’t it refreshing to hear it again? It’s such a timely reminder because sometimes certain leaders in the public service carry themselves with such prideful arrogance expecting Samoa to bow down to them. 

We’re not kidding here folks; you know what we are talking about. Some CEOs do anything but serve. They enjoy rocking those comfortable chairs, treating staff members like slaves and letting everyone else serve them instead. They treat public resources, monies and public properties with such an entitled mentality rather than a privilege.

And yet time and time again, we continue to hear the Prime Minister advocating servanthood above all else. 

Secondly, the Prime Minister challenged the CEOs to be innovative, lead by example and not to become complacent, which are other critical principles of being a leader.

“In the discharging of your duties and responsibilities, you will be looked upon for direction and for decisions, and to set good examples for your staff,” Tuilaepa reminded. “You will remain a public figure and under the constant scrutiny of the public. Incidences in the past involving CEOs reaffirm the fact that the moment CEOs become complacent and indifferent in the performance of their duties, that may well spell the beginning of their downfall.”

 That said, the Prime Minister referred to scriptures.

“Take heed of the example from the scriptures when Saul, the first ever King of Israel who was perfect in form and command, powerful and fearless but when he ignored God’s commandment and wise counsel, was stripped of the honour of a great leader and even chose his successor to become a live thorn on his side for the remainder of his reign.” 

Well those who read the scriptures and understand it well will know how this story ended. Suffice to say, Saul fell on his sword to avoid being captured during a battle where three of his sons were also killed. 

It was such a tragic end for a man who once held much promise and power. 

The point is that it doesn’t matter how powerful and intelligent you think you are. Pride, disobedience, sin that comes through the absence of a healthy fear of God and poor leadership will ultimately lead to your downfall. 

From Saul’s life, we saw such a sad downward spiral no one wants to emulate. But that is the example Prime Minister Tuilaepa wants leaders and the laui’as in the public service to think about today. It is a classic example of how not to lead.

All leaders need to be reminded there is an anointing that comes with their calling so they can serve whom they need to serve. That anointing doesn’t stay with them forever. The scriptures tell us the Lord left Saul and the same thing can happen to anyone, especially people in positions of leadership. 

Lastly, Prime Minister Tuilaepa made one final point. Said he: “As I have reiterated time and time again, my office is always packed with people travelling from all over the country to see me every day. They even come to my home before and after hours.

“Many of their requests fall directly under the responsibilities of the relevant Ministers and CEOs. I am often told that my office is the means of last resort as you are extremely busy doing many useful things.  You have no time to see the public. 

“We are accountable to our people so I would ask that you also practice an open door policy. Believe me you will thoroughly enjoy it.  Who will not enjoy talking to God every hour of the day through the people that you allow to come to your office with their problems.”

Wow such marvelous advice, don’t you think? But now the time has come to put them into practice. Easier said than done though. Good luck.

Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!

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