An artist who colored outside the lines


Our life is a blank canvas. How well we paint it, depends on what we do and what we stand for in our life. The rules and principles that we uphold becomes the paint with which we color values into our lives. A fine example of such an artist would be the Majority Leader of the Parliament, Vilimale’ Constituency MP and Chair of Public Finance Committee, Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik. Throughout his life and career, Nihan has upheld and defended what he believed in; staying loyal to his people. It is these principles that brought him a long way from being just “the guy defending the government at coffee tables”.

The early years of Nihan’s life revolved around the creative arts. As a teenager, Nihan was involved in designing and drawing. During his school years, he worked part time as a designer – following in the footsteps of other professionals. His usual hobby of “replicating blueprints” led one of his own architectural drawings receiving the seal of approval by an engineer, which later shaped up into a four storey building in the capital city.

As Nihan describes it, a majority of his life was about arts. He made it a source of income following school, though initially it was just a “crucial interest”. His enthusiasm in the field led him to form his own company; “Paint Garden” – which still exists under a local registration, though its services are no longer available. During its time, Paint Garden was responsible for some of the best floats, which were annually crafted for the Independence Day celebrations.

Describing how he made his entrance into the political arena, Nihan stated that “critical thinking arises from the creative arts, even though they are not directly linked”. In his words, an artist could paint a mountain without actually seeing it physically – such is the talent of those in creative arts. Their knowledge and talent is not limited to one field; one could even begin a career in the field of mathematics, without a prior background in the field. What they lacked were the proper opportunities – especially in the field of politics.

Nihan recalled that prior to 2004, there were literally zero chances to start a career in the political sector. According to him, the turning point in Maldivian politics came following an announcement by the then President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom on 9th June 2004, in the wake of the events that unfolded in 2002 and 2003.

With the newly implemented changes, Nihan became one of the regulars who discussed politics at coffee tables. However, Nihan was the only person who defended and appreciated President Gayoom’s works, among all of his friends. Though he clashed ideologically with his friends, Nihan never stopped advocating for what he believed in. When the parliament passed the bill to allow a multi-party system in the Maldives on March 15, 2005, Nihan already had a year worth of experience in advocating for the government – which in turn proved to be essential for his career.

“During one of my regular coffees, I found out that President Gayoom was creating his own party. I took the initiative to help in the establishment of the party. No one really encouraged or recommended me to do so, I did it out of the love I have for it. The party was registered on July 21, 2005, after a symposium where I was the only member, representing the common man in the youth council of the party. Among all the 19 heavy-weight ministers who were present at the symposium, I was the only inexperienced man. Perhaps it showed how the public had received chances to join politics, for I am a living example of that.”

In his years as a political figure, Nihan has achieved quite a lot. But according to him, his biggest achievement in his political career has been successfully finalizing the state budget for 2015. Being the biggest budget in the history of the country recorded so far, Nihan has been exemplary, in including almost all of the recommendations by the other members with no room for disappointments. As a person without any prior knowledge in finance, Nihan has indeed done a great work on the budget finalization.

Giving the team of Maldeeb an insight into his personal life, Nihan revealed that his wife plays an important role in his day to day work. Nihan described his wife as a perfect partner for him, as she takes up half of his burden – being a bold and outgoing woman who lends a helping hand to her husband’s busy work schedule. As the saying goes, there is a woman behind every successful man and this was true in Nihan’s case.

Nihan believes that his loyalty to his party is the core base on which he had gained the trust of the public, and that it is the main reason why he had been so successful in his career.

Talking about his family, Nihan noted that he had not thought of another baby since he has been rather busy in the last ten years. However, the politician hinted on a second baby “which maybe likely to come in the future”.

From creative arts to politics, Nihan has surely come a long way, with career defining decisions being taken on many levels. But the formula remains the same: holding onto his own beliefs and rules, and staying loyal to his people. Surely, these are characteristics that many of the politicians lack today – and that is why Nihan has a brighter future in the field more than the others.



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