LONGO Naik (The National, Jan.28) is correct in one respect. I am frustrated – but not for the reasons he stated. I am frustrated at people like Naik who, despite education and experience, continue to live in a world so far removed from the realities of today. He accuses me of not understanding the people, of not being among them and leading them from the front – all attributes, he claims of good leadership.
These were good attributes of leadership but of a generation past. Those were the days when our people needed to see the leader present among them, leading the charge into the battle field, speaking at the Moka or being the lead vocalist at the singsing ground. Physical presence gave encouragement, strength and bonded the tribe together.
Today’s leadership attributes is far different. Today’s leadership is about delegation, about empowerment, and about shared responsibilities. It is about gathering intelligence, coordination, about planning and networking.
Today, people want to see roads, bridges, schools and health centres far more than the faces of their leaders. They want to live in peace and harmony and savour some of the comforts of life. All these things do not just fall from the sky. They must be got at. They must be negotiated.
Today’s money does not come from a nicely worded facsimile message send from a distant provincial headquarters or via a telephone call. You have to be physically present, knocking on doors and thumping tables to get that.
The SHPG and the Awesome Nine are in restoration, reconstruction and rehabilitation mode. This is a five year program.
Of course, I am not entirely absent. Deputy governor Pr Isaac Joseph has been delegated the task of being physically present in Mendi on behalf of the SHPG and he is there most of the time. He is the political representative on the ground while administrator William Powi, who is also on the ground most of the time, is the administrative head.
Our people are frustrated but they are not frustrated because they do not see leaders in the province, like Naik claims. They are frustrated because they want to see money or the goods and services that money can bring. That money will not come if I do not do the hard yards in Port Moresby. Somebody has to bring the bacon home and as Governor and provincial chairmen of finance and planning, it falls to me to do that.
As for the rampage by police hopefuls and every other person or group who think that they can strong arm my government into making decisions outside of established systems, processes and procedures such as the budgetary mechanism, they have another think coming.
Every Southern Highlander has a dream and I work hard 16 hours a day to make it easier for them to realise those dreams.