Thursday, 30 May 2013

Redefining Democratic Leadership in Nigeria

Pix credits:
Retired General Abdusalami Abubakar handed over the leadership baton of Nigeria to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on 29th day of May 1999. This change in power was the beginning of a fresh and hopeful democratic rule in Nigeria. This year marks Nigeria’s 14th anniversary as a republic with fledgling democracy. Yet, the practice of democratic leadership in our country may be described as the libertarian version of the old military rule.

John Maxwell once opined that, “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” His opinion bears much truth about the features of genuine democratic leadership. In true democracy, the person at the most vantage point of leadership is considered the chief servant influencing other distinguished servants in the country. Perhaps, the summary of all the chief servant’s duties is to provide valuable service in terms of internal and external public image-making, implementation of strategies in pursuit of a regular state of order and management of all human and natural resources to improve productivity. 

Leaders are citizens that are often burdened with the responsibility of other people’s welfare. Consequently, they would only be effective if they have the interest of the citizenry at heart. In a lecture given by Professor Michael J. Sandel of Harvard University on the subject of Justice, I learnt that under John Stuart Mill’s furtherance of the utilitarian moral theory, “The sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable is that people actually do desire it.” In other words, the only possible evidence we have to say something is desirable is to truly prove that many people desire it. If we apply this principle to leadership, we may say that a person is only a good leader if many more people actually think he or she is.

I believe that the knowledge and practice of genuine democratic leadership should begin from the home. Parents who cannot demonstrate true leadership in the presence of their children cannot demand proper conduct from them when they assume leadership position in future. Similarly, leaders whose decisions and lifestyles are against the absolute welfare of the people and do not inspire good leadership should be ready to hand over authority to worse leaders than themselves. The shape of Nigeria’s democratic leadership in future depends on the responsibility consciousness of both the young and senior members of the citizenry. May we find wisdom in times of need. God bless Nigeria!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Arrow of God: When Things Go Very Wrong

Courtesy: Fake Plastic Life
When things go very wrong, there are many explanations but these three are almost certain. One is, somebody didn’t do what they were supposed to do. Another is, the thing that was done to address what went wrong was not done at the right time. The third is, the people that tried to correct what went wrong originally were not as coordinated as they should be hence the solution implementation process suffered. This may be likened to the situation in Nigeria.
Again, three factors may be identified in such situation:
Objective: to revert what went wrong originally. If we say that something has gone wrong then it means at least one unfavourable change has occurred because something can only go wrong when there is a deviation from what is expected to be going on. Hence, an objective to restore normalcy should arise.

Time: to correct something that went wrong, the remedial efforts should yield fruits before it is too late. When something goes wrong, it gets worse the more it remains wrong. The time it takes for the wrong to be identified and fixed will add to the overall extent of damage. Time cannot be restored, it can only be exhausted and perhaps, elongated. Elongating the normal period to accommodate an extension is the only way to make up for time. Consequently, the compensation for time is elongation not restoration. If a remedy will be implemented, it should be performed within the best possible short time.

Harmony: the group working to resolve the problem must be coordinated. Teamwork without evidence of synergy results into weakened results. Workload imbalance in the practice of teamwork is a hidden cause of lessened result quality. If the input of a team is below what is expected then their overall harmony should be checked. Harmony is nothing less than the ability of team members to collaborate unselfishly. Having an eye for eventually takes the glory or giving conscious consideration to oneself more than others within the team will lead to reduced harmony and lessened quality of the overall output.

These three apply to Nigeria in the overall sense. If one considers each disruption that has occurred due to militancy, terrorism, injustice, fund misappropriation, inter-tribal cum inter-religious violence and low regard for righteousness, it becomes evident that our problems persist due to one of these: the creation of faulty or dummy objectives (or disregard for the true pursuit of real objectives), low respect for the essence of time (or poor consideration for future implications of current actions) and foolishness in the observance of harmony (or high prejudice for people with whom we share a sense of belonging rather than ethics and righteousness). Truly, some developed countries identify with us in the accommodation these problems. However, if we will ever share the experience of their current status, we must do less of these wrongs.

Several Nigerians believe that Nigeria’s situation is irrevocable. It is true. But, that belief is only as right as it holds in our hearts and manifests in our actions. We cannot become in reality the opposite of who we already are in our minds.

The sole problem with Nigeria is not actually corruption. Obvious corruption is only a symptom of moral, legal and religious degradation. Corruption was present in the era before Nigeria was colonised. It was present when sane men were sold as slaves and beautiful women were used and abused like imbeciles. Corruption is ubiquitous. It is a sign that things have gone wrong. Its severity in a location only varies based on the availability of its causes. In the midst of black hardship, you can imagine the prosperity potential of corruption in Nigeria.

So, what is the cause of corruption? Corruption is brought forth when a man considers another with no value though they have a physiological semblance.  It is the inferiority complex in the man that considers himself lower that makes him consider the person with more physical possessions more important. In return the more important man bequeaths the treatment of he who is of little or no importance upon the poor man. In the end, a line is drawn in-between and aggressive envy and demand for respect (even when it is not duly earned) both arise.

Consequently, whenever a man with little value attains authority, he runs mad and abuses the conferred power.  Similarly, as the important man prospers, he becomes prone to taking actions without due consideration for the effect of his actions on the less important man.

Though the less important or unimportant man has a value, if he does not realise it and live with this confidence, he will become corrupt and corrupt other people around him. If, for instance, he is a poor carpenter, he must realise that he is contributing to the economy in his own little way. He is providing service and adding value. The important man must also realise that he does not have to belittle anyone to retain his value. Even if he decides to wash the feet of all the beggars in his neighbourhood, it cannot take away his possessions.

The works of men have solidified their hearts and corrupted their ways. Shall we ask that the arrow of God come forth as lightning and touch our hearts that things may turn right?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A Man of the People: The Case of Jonathan Nigeria cum Moses Egypt

There are mixed opinions as to what makes a man a man of the people.

Who is a man of the people? Is he a man who tries to satisfy everyone because he wants peace to reign? Is he the kind that demonstrates wisdom in dealing with issues in ways that favour majority of the people? Is it possible for a man to know the minds of all his people without knowing their individual needs? How can a single man know the minds of so many people without erring? Are majority of the people always right? These are questions the people must ask themselves.

Who are the people? Are they persons within the extensive conclave of the man they call their own or those to whom the same man is publicly accountable? What are the criteria for being an associate of that particular man? Who or what factors determine these criteria? Why should several individuals come together to determine who should drive them forward? When a person is chosen to lead other persons (collectively called the people), should they not trust him to lead them aright? These are questions the man should ask himself.

Many would raise their eyebrows if someone called President Jonathan a man of the people. Well, is he not? Though several millions did not vote for him, he was voted in by the people who liked him rather than his political party. You may reckon otherwise but be reminded that the electoral results (whether manipulated or not) actually indicate that majority of the people fingerprinted for the umbrella party.

The Nigerian elites loved President J.E.G because he owns a PhD. Ordinary Nigerians liked him because his Obama story was inspiring. Those within the middle class wanted him because they expected his transformation agenda to open wider doors of opportunity. The rich that cared enough to vote believed it was his time to lead. Resultantly, many Nigerians voted him president. But when he re-engaged the presidential power as an elected leader and spent several months with a performance that measured below the people’s expectations, the same people resolved to do grumbling. They observed that he wasn’t solving their problems at the speed of his promises and gradually disliked and mocked him in the presence of his commitment to his only wife. When he decided to remove the fuel subsidy in accordance with the advice of proactive economists who consistently sit in meetings where the peculiar problems of Africa (or indirectly, African greediness) are discussed as the growing headaches of the global community, fire burned upon waters.

The people said that little consideration was given to the reality of epileptic power supply and openly renounced him. They called him cursed names sourced from the devil’s book and wished him the wishes of an enemy until he ranked the most damned president on Google’s search engine. These happenings and countless others which may not be mentioned here are the unfortunate byproducts of followership distrust; they are evidences that question the trust of the people who once sang the choruses of a man. Now, one remembers how these things happened to Moses in the wilderness away from Egypt and asks if Jonathan could be compared to Moses? If a president were comparable to a prophet, what would be the story of the new Israelites living in Nigeria?
Leadership is not the business of human satisfaction. It is about setting objectives and pursuing their attainment. It is about striking a balance between what must be done in the best interest of the people and what must be done to sustain harmony amongst the leading minority in alignment with the overall goal. Since human beings are the most difficult resources to manage, this task remains an ever-present omnipresent challenge.

Nigeria has never had a perfect president since we obtained independence and the incumbent one is not an exception. In fact, when you consider the problems Nigeria is facing currently, you would realise that this is one the most unfortunate periods to lead in a government position. The odds against you are tough. There are many more corrupt persons working within your circle. The masses’ sufferings have increased and whether or not he/she exists, they seem to want a saviour or leader that can do the betterment magic. If things do not go the way the people expect, they soon cease from singing songs of praise and learn demonic chants. If the media influenced by leadership is unable to interpret the decisions of the man of the people to demonstrate his interest in their development, things go worse. In the end, the people renounce their elected man and dream regular dreams of the end of his tenure.

So, who is a man of the people? It seems he is the man who is able to lead the people. Who is a leader of the people? It seems it is he who is able to show how the people’s interests comprise his priorities. Who are the people? They seem to be those whose lives are influenced by the leadership of a man, whether or not they all voted for him.

Truly, the best season to be the president of Nigeria is not today and the finest season to be a citizen of Nigeria is still yesterday. Nigeria’s fate is at the mercy of men and women who sincerely seek change both on their knees and from within their home outwards. Today, you will know where you belong before tomorrow comes with its influence.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Customer Disservice

Of recent, I've been discussing the practices of professional customer service in a mixed group and after sharing several experiences, the conlusion is that poor customer service is ubiquitious.

Customer service is a job that is meant for people who know how to keep themselves happy. It's about serving and putting others first, not the other way round. However, the lack of value for human lives, which is commonplace in communities where the demographics evidence overpopulation, has extended to the private sector. I understand it when I visit a government office or agency and the staff are ignoring my presence or providing service with a lackadaisical attitude because they are watching AfricanMagic. Afterall, they are the staff of the government. But, I find it difficult to receive the same treatment or something similar from the employees of a private establishment.

Have you ever been to one of those first generation banks to perform a banking transaction before? Well, depending on which one you visited, you would have had your own share of the half-baked customer service offered by the personnel at the customer care unit. 

Sometime ago, I was on a long queue in a Nigerian Bank waiting my turn to be served when I heard some people flair up in front. It was not a first generation bank but it was one that had merged and re-merged until something nice finally emerged. Interested in the ongoing events, I peered through the crowd across the room and discovered that the employee that was meant to be waiting on us was engaged in a casual conversation on phone. It looked like she was gossipping while we waited on our toes on a hopeless queue. But some of the customers could not tolerate it for so long. They engaged her in a abusive conversation and created a fight. Before long, she stood up and walked away. Now, to some employees, that is customer service.

The truth is, regardless of how much your pay is, once you sign up for a job, you owe the customers quality service. It is your responsibility to be happy. Whether or not you had a misunderstanding with a family member earlier on that day is not the customer's business. What they are paying for is the service and that is what they deserve. Theirs is to get their needs met and your duty is to provide the service cheerfully. And really, customer service does not include banging the phone hard on the customer to emphasise that you are busy.

How worse can customer service get? There are hospitals where the nurses tell pregnant women, "Shut up! At least, this is not your first time." There are supermarkets where the staffs hiss at you once you tell them, "Oh, this is my first time. I'm not buying anything. I'm just window shopping ahead of next week." I am even aware that there are police stations where they demand money for the Pen and A4 paper you use to write down a statement of your report. What's more? There are several places in Nigeria where people need to learn how to relate with and serve both existing and prospective customers. The video below is meant to be a joke. However, there are those who play this prank on their customers:

In any organisation, if indeed the customer pays the money that accrues to the profits, salaries and returns, then the customer should be treated like the boss.

Monday, 6 May 2013

No Longer at Ease: 3 Main Forces Defining the Flow of Premarital Relationships


I believe wedding is the first ceremony in marriage; it signifies the public pronouncement of one’s commitment to wedlock and of course, it is not a joke. 

However, relative to the celebration called wedding, marriage is by far more important. All the people that attend a wedding: those that are for the couple and those that nurture secret jealousy; those that come to gossip and those that come to rejoice; those that will pray for them afterwards and those that will forget them after two weeks, belong to a larger set. None of all these people can go and sit with the couple 247 to ensure the unfolding of a blissful marriage. In fact, even if they are jobless, they are not allowed to do so. The best they can do is to advise, intercede and provide intermittent support. The onus is on the couple to keep the bulletin of the wedding service, reconsider their oaths occasionally and fulfil the vowed words to the best of their abilities. Their daily routine and individual preferences are the biggest challenges to conquer. Hence, couples should always find time to retreat, review and rejuvenate their wedlock.

While it is not exactly my thing to advise people on their relationships, I always find it difficult to keep shut about the subject. I do not have a social CV garnished with opposite-sex relationships so, I may not have enough advice to share from experiential database. Yet, to have dedicated one year of study to the consumption of diverse materials on the subject of relationship somewhat gives me the urge to utter something about it. I acknowledge that people have called me a troublemaker for writing about it. Please, if my ideas have hit your ship in the wrong place, I apologise for telling the truth. Some casual friends have advised me to go and marry because of these articles. If you are one of them, I shake my head in personal understanding. I know the circumstances that will lead to such and truly, they are yet to happen. More so, I have a personal deadline to consider and I am grateful for your concern.

These days, young people’s relationships are no longer at ease. They tend to fail like power supply from the power utility company in Nigeria. More than 75% of great relationships involving guys and ladies in same age or class group while in university refuse to make it through to marriage after graduation and NYSC. Few of them really stand the test of post-university realities. Though there is no singular reason for it, three (3) possible reasons have been identified by a group of young men. First, the ladies are no longer at ease with the idea of waiting and they are not to be blamed; if I were a lady, I too would have personal standards and time limits. Resultantly, when the guy does not get engaged in proper employment after graduation and NYSC, a big problem emerges. The role of a potential provider is threatened and the lady is pushed in-between the choice of enduring and walking away. Often times, the latter is chosen because hardly can anyone wait and age away forever.

The second reason for loss of ease in relationships is the reality of infidelity. It is true that many young guys (and sometimes, ladies) find faithfulness difficult to fulfil. By extension, when the issue of long distance comes into a relationship, doubts set in. Maybe it’s because of their internal configuration and relational history. But the truth is: cheating, double-courting and triple-dating have now become real issues in the 21st century. Some ladies now believe it is impossible to have a male partner that will not cheat on them; they can only try to influence him to do it less. In that wise, they always get what they expect. Guess what? The guy keeps cheating as though it were his hobby.

Finally, relationships go through a negative redefining friction due to spirituality and cultural factors. When the issue of marriage arises in a steady relationship, each party has to perform family introduction (sometimes coupled with religious investigations). Due to records of failed and problematic marriages, family members now find it befitting to demand for the full names of the potential in-law and carry out spiritual investigations via an external spiritual head. If the results are positive, the relationship may proceed to the marital phase. Otherwise, it is gradually killed. Aside from this test, the perceived likeability of each partner by the co-partner’s family is another factor. If the family members do not receive the proposed partner of their son or daughter, some friction will be created. Hence, it appears that the partner must pass the likeability and spirituality tests before the relationship can cross over to the marital phase.

These are the changes that have occurred over time in our society. They are the forces guiding the ease or otherwise of a premarital relationship intended for marital lockdown. But even when all these hurdles are conquered, several marriages still enter morbidity and moribundity states in future. Therefore, I opine that these forces are not capable of ensuring the success of any marriage. I ultimately believe that the success of marriage depends on the commitment of the married participants to remain unto each other what light has become to the entire world.