My negative apprehensions about several issues were buried within hours by the attitudes and high-level positivism of the citizens. Not only are most Nigerians respectful and content with very little, they are uplifting, friendly and moderately prideful. From the very poor to the wealthy, I observed a sense of humbleness. From the baggage carrier (Rasaki) who helped me to my room, to my brief meetings with Balarabe Musa (ex governor of Kaduna State) and Pat Utomi (ex-VP of Volkswagen of Nigeria) and current Pan African University professor, I saw no difference in attitude…experiencing a high level of respect, humbleness and a down-to-earth humility.
In isolating specifics of my trip and experiences, I am impressed with the improvement at the Murtala Mohammed Airport. As a frequent business and family-oriented visitor to the motherland, I pay close attention to the non-obvious such as the actions of the street vendors, the hotel employees, the baggage men, airport conditions, and traffic and/or security checkpoint officers among others. Not only does the MMA arrival air-conditioning work well, the behaviors of the airport staffs have improved. Regardless of the fact that they still wanted to know what I had for them, they were subtle rather than aggressive in their approaches. In the midst of the numerous adversities created by our leaders over the last 35 years, it is amazing that Nigerians still possess a lot of courage and have dutifully used it as the underlying mechanism to most of their other endeavors.
My issue with the situation in Nigeria is with our past and present leaders that seem to have little conceptual awareness of situational realities in the country. I have written several articles on leadership and over the last few months, questioned the competencies of our leaders (excepting a notable few). Leadership entails effective management as first recognized by the Greeks (350 – 400 BC) as a separate art that entailed a solid and well-organized administrative structure. With scientific analysis and continuous knowledge growth, there was the mercantile movement that eventually led to modern day processes such as the theories of Alfred D. Chandler and the popular British philosopher and economist, Adam Smith. The later was recognized as the invincible arm of market forces…culminating in most present day operational processes. Regardless of the management structure analyzed, classical or contemporary, the leadership approaches in Nigeria are unquestionably flawed. Credit must be given to a few outstanding mid-level cabinet personnel that have taken grass-root approaches to eradicating corruption and displaying exemplary leadership despite continuous treats to their lives and calculated attempts to steamroll their characters with fallacious stories. To these credible folks like Dr. Dora Akunyili and others, keep up the good work and remember that you are achieving immortality while your actions are being recognized beyond measures.
The stagnation of resource improvement in Nigeria is a result of poor leadership, mortgaged integrities, and non-conformances to high personal ethics. Leadership does not only serve as the driver of all other actions, but also as the gubernators of all other effective management methodologies. We lack strong and ethical leaders at the right levels and our past and present autocratic, positional rulers were trained under the classical management concept that recommends administrative and bureaucratic approaches among others. Though some of these autocratic managers are intelligent, they have however failed to (a) accept change, (b) learn new skills and (c) realize that the classical system of leadership ended its run in the 1940s. Without outlining all the minutiae, it is obvious that we need to adopt a contemporary approach that embraces:
A. a quantitative and measurable management as it applies to all variables of needs in Nigeria
B. a strong concept of realistic organizational behavior including but not limited to ethics, accountability, effective systems implementation as it relates to NEPA, good roads, safety, etc and
C. some elements of the contingency theory with a well-outlined systemic process.
The well-known underlying apparatus for success is among others, effective leadership, flexible conformity in achieving clear and specific valuable goals, adherence to strong ethics and the non-mortgaging of one’s conscience for personal gain. These actions often culminate in the eventual achievement of purposeful goals among which, could be eliminating grass root suffering and providing basic amenities such as water. As with most people and especially unskilled autocratic positional leaders, when recommendations for improvements are made, they view them as criticisms based on their emotional maturity levels. I refuse to be neither considerate nor empathetic of their weak personal sense of self and will continue to speak, write and lecture on the importance of a balanced-oriented, effective leadership adoption, to help grow Nigeria as a country.
As in every country, there will be brainless bradawl (as in brainless bozos and/or tools) and brainless bozos may end up as Senators, House members or Speakers, Presidents, Governmental heads, and/or leaders of opportunities as a result of having been in the military. Being ex-military personnel does not readily qualify one as a good leader and the indirect migration of military positions to political positions should be curtailed or eliminated. Past military experience does not automatically qualify anyone for a key political position in a country of living intellectuals. The non-actions and disingenuous level amongst our top leaders is staggering and directly proportional to the ongoing horrific situation in the country. Nigerians are happy people by nature and their sadness is often overshadowed by their continuous smiles and effervescent attitudes. From the pepper seller to the luggage seller on Awolowo way, I saw smiles and superficial happiness. The determination and willingness of most Nigerians to work hard is commendable. Observing these hardworking Nigerians left a much bitter level of aversion in my mouth…all borne against those with the opportunity to make a difference but yet consciously chooses not to.
Based on my 7-day trip that was filled with business meetings, personal transactions, and empirical liaison with Nigerians in Lagos, Ogun and Edo states, I do agree with the 2003 survey that claimed that Nigerians are the happiest of all nations. My addition to the survey is that to a great extent, most Nigerians are also very honest though poor international statistical findings don’t support this fact. In the face of adversity and very poor amenities, most citizens have no options but to be happy. At least, forced happiness is much more healthier to the heart than continuous sadness. With retirees often unpaid and the high turbulence level of businesses (good-today-bad-tomorrow), they have to find ways to release stress. Now I understand why:
1. The owanbe parties are going strong
2. The mom and pop pepper soup and ogunfe joints strives after 4:30PM
3. Streets are still closed off in Benin and Lagos at 6:00PM on Fridays and Saturdays for various kinds of parties, memorial or not.
These folks are living or trying to extract the best out of the ordinary. In discussing with both political officials and regular citizens, it is relatively easy to tell how intelligent and sometimes knowledgeable they are of prevailing happenings. Why the politicians blame top-level leaders, others simply give punch lines on the horrible state of the Union. Obviously, expert or statistical analysis is not required to tell if a system is good or bad as environmental and societal happenings often indicate the obvious. Analyzing Nigeria from the standpoint of the good, the bad and the ugly, my latest experience shows that (a) Nigerians are “good” people regardless of how the world views us, (b) our past and present top leaders are “bad, very bad”, and (c) the situation in the country is “ugly” regardless of the level of improvement. Finally, for all that have pushed and continue to advocate for me to get in the political field, the time is just not ripe. I doubt if it will ever be recognizing my innate disapproval of the zoning system. Also, it will be a very difficult undertaking for me recognizing that I don’t function particularly well in chaotic environments.