Keynote Address Delivered at the Inaugural National Conference of the Academy of Management, Nigeria, Holding in Rockview Hotel, Abuja on November 23rd, 2005.
By Pita Ejiofor
(continued from last edition)
2.2.2 The Social Front. The very sluggish performance of the economy impacted negatively in the social sector. Today, Nigeria has the highest proportion of poor people in the world with 70.2% of Nigerians living on less than $1.00 a day;
- With a life expectancy of 43.4 years, is one of the thirteen countries in the world with the shortest life expectancy (HDR 2005);
- Is one of the 19 countries with the least percentage of population 65 years and above (HDR 2005);
- Is one of the 15 countries with the lowest health expenditure per capita (HDR 2005);
- Is one of the 22 countries in the world with the highest infant mortality rates at birth (HDR 2005);
- Is one of the 21 countries with the highest maternal mortality rates in the world (HDR 2005);
- Is one of the 10 countries with the least public expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP (HDR 2005);
- Is one of the 33 countries with the least electricity consumption per capita (HDR 2005);
- Is suffering a massive brain drain with over two million of mostly highly educated of her citizens emigrated to Europe and USA;
- Approximately 47 to 48% of the labour force remains unemployed and does not produce (HDR 2004, p 9);
- Urbanisation rate in Nigeria is one of the fastest in the world (NEEDS 2004, p 20);
- The 2005 World Disaster Report published by the international Federation of the Red Cross and Red Cross Societies revealed that Nigeria ranked among the ten top countries in the world with the highest cases of death tolls relating to disasters (Champion Nov 6 2005, p 25);
And then the bombshell. In 1993, an independent, non-profit, non-governmental and transnational organization, Transparency International, was established with a view to fighting corruption world-wide. In its report of 1997, Nigeria was declared one of the most corrupt nations in the world. Today, she is listed the 6th most corrupt nation.
According to another international organization, the UNDP; with only 1.9% of the world’s population, Nigeria has 10% of the world’s AIDS cases and 20% of Africa’s (HDR 2005).
2.3 The Sad Consensus. The verdicts of the experts are unanimous. One observed that “given the dismal picture of Nigeria’s human development balance sheet, it is not surprising that no matter what human development indicator is used, the country is at the bottom of the ladder”. Vision 2010 Report laments that “Nigeria’s quality of life is falling behind when compared with the economies of South Sahara African countries, and has lagged significantly behind some of the more dynamic Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia which, during the 1960’s, had a similar per capita income with Nigeria …, (that) while other developing countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and South Africa have managed to increase their economic performance, and the well-being of their population, Nigeria has experienced a decline in most of the quality of life indicators” (Report of the Sustainable Economic Growth Group 1997, p 4).
Wrapping up the very bad report, the UNDP stated that “it is the paradox of Nigeria being a major oil producer and exporter while at the same time one of the most backward economies. Nigeria is the only OPEC member that has faired so devastatingly poorly” (HDR Nigeria 2000/2001 Millennium edition p viii). Thus Economic Action Agenda (EAA) observed that “the growth of the global economy has been nothing short of a miracle since World War II…. Unfortunately, since 1970, and in spite of reform attempts, Nigeria has experienced economic decline in per capita income as the global economic boom has passed us by” (EAA 2002, p 3).
My colleagues in the academia, I know you are sad. Please make me not a victim of any transferred aggression. Our nation has problems. We are here to find solutions to them. We have to start with a dispassionate diagnosis. I am quoting from official documents, our own NEEDS documents, our Vision 2010 Report, our Economic Action Agenda (a quasi-Government organ) publication, and the Human Development Report published for the entire world by the UNDP. What organ can be more authoritative? Lamentations are coming from all corners from within and without: why is this giant wobbling?
It is clear that there is an embarrassing Resources/Development Disequilibrium in Nigeria; that actual performance has fallen very much short of potential. What is the cause? The well-known Management writer, Peter Drucker (1979, p35), put the answer pungently in 1979 when he wrote that “it can be said without too much over-simplification that there are no undeveloped countries, there are only under-managed ones. Nigeria fits snuggly into this niche.
III. Macro-Management and the Polity: The Place of Integrity
The one single most important cause of the dismal performance of the Nigerian polity is under-management. Nigerian organizations have been grossly under-managed over the years. Because the function of management is intangible, failings of managers tend to be attributed to other factors especially shortage of funds and manpower. Although Nigeria has had very many, perhaps too many, executives in charge of her organizations, many of them were in fact grounding rather than running their organizations. But the question still remains unanswered. Why is the Nigerian manager under-managing his organization? Why is he not performing? We shall attempt some answers.
3.1 Corruption: The Malaria of Our Organizations. In fairness to some of us, we did attempt an answer when we opined in 1984 that “any time you are looking for the causes of failure of any governmental institution in Nigeria, play the doctor. Always suspect bribery and corruption first, just as the tropical doctor suspects malaria in men and pregnancy in women”.
Integrity is the Achilles Heels of Management in Nigeria. In place of integrity, the flag of corruption is flying everywhere in our country. This sounds very offensive. So I need a bigger authority to back me up.
In his inaugural speech in May 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said, “Corruption is the greatest single bane of our society. No society can achieve anything near its full potential if it allows corruption to become the full-blown cancer it has become in Nigeria”. One of the most influential documents on Nigeria’s economic policy, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) identified corruption as the most serious obstacle to national development. It stated that, until 1999 corruption was practically institutionalized as the foundation of governance, (NEEDS p. 22), that corruption and abuse of positions and privileges have long been features of Nigeria’s economic and political landscape (NEEDS p.59), and that the above features are legacies of corruption and mismanagement, especially during the military administration (NEEDS 22) then warned that neither today nor in the future can Nigeria afford the social, political or economic acts that systemic corruption has inflicted (NEEDS p.45).
One top Federal Government official (Ezekwesili, 2005: 5, 6) in a recent paper stated that “many of our countrymen and women have rightly identified corruption as the primary problem that has frustrated the economic development of Nigeria, … (and that) corruption remains the deadliest enemy to the transition into visible reality of the potentials for which we are globally acclaimed.” In my own humble station, I had much earlier than them cautioned that (Ejiofor 1984: 18).
“A people that go on living
As if bribery is in their blood
And Corruption part of their culture
Are born for under-development”
3.2 The Anti-Corruption Drive
This paper therefore enthusiastically supports the anti-corruption drive of the Obasanjo Administration. The nation should see the crusade as a do or die affair for the nation’s development. Succeed in the crusade, and the march for development would begin after we had almost lost much of the past 45 years. Fail and the forty-five partially wasted years might turn out to be Nigeria’s “golden age” as Nigeria would continue to remain a mere potential black power, an un-development paradox, a case study in lost opportunities.
But we also have to point out that the new crusade has antecedents and precedence. All previous regimes in Nigeria did fight corruption. The Yakubu Gowon regime fought it, sacking some of its top officials. The succeeding Murtala Mohammed / Obasanjo regime was ruthless on the corrupt. The Shehu Shagari regime launched an “Ethical Revolution.” In his fight against corruption, Buhari in 1984 precipitated a “Management by Bombardment” with a ruthlessness unprecedented in Nigeria’s history in his ferocious “War Against Indiscipline” (WAI). He even went to the extent of attempting to crate home a run-away suspect. Babangida replaced WAI with WAI – C (War Against Indiscipline and Corruption). But some of the programmes were half-heartedly executed while all were victims of the usual u–turns and stop–go’s that characterize most Nigerian regimes. The nation sank deeper and deeper, corruption degenerated to a pandemic.