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Why Nigeria is not working-A project
By Steve Orji
Saturday, Jan 12, 2013
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Nigeria is hard hit with crisis of poor quality. This filters into the
essential fabric of all its essence, continues through to the very
minutest details of everyday life.
It is almost easy to come to a rather logical conclusion why it is so.
Nigerians and its leaders fail to see Nigeria as a project. Rather,
Nigeria to all of us is like a big round cake made for a party. So long
you can use a knife; it’s permissible for you come to this party, slice
off your portion of this cake, sometimes, large enough to go round
your circle of friends and acquaintances.
Unlike a normal party with strict admittance rules, a certain
conducting order, and time discipline, this kind of Nigeria party is
somewhat haphazard, with fairly no rules- one of reckless
generosity and prodigal accountability. Infact it’s a party by a
faceless group, for everyone who can attend, certainly for a
In some rare moments of native sanity-such frivolous parties could
assume a name-Independence day celebration, Democracy day,
Children’s day celebration. For more than four decades- State and
Federal governments in Nigeria dole out fortunes for flimsy
festivities and no one bats an eyelid on the mindless accountability
A project would not survive this kind of patronage. Every project
basically is driven by an innate purpose, and derives its life and
being from the simple and ordinary reason of what it is designed or
meant to address. This is the essential foundation for proposing a
project. A substantial intellectual and business argument goes into
this-to arrive at logical and strategic objectives, and gains justifying
such an endeavour. This is the business case, the crux of the
A project owes its being and existence to this stage of “why and why
not”. A project without a business import, lacking crucial and sturdy
justifications would assume the status of a wild goose chase, a free-
for-all party, a nameless and faceless endeavour, a road to now
where. It’s beginning to look like teaching Project Management and
pushing it into the take home learning objectives for leaders in
Africa, and Nigeria particularly would be rather more rewarding than
all the Harvard and Oxford certificates their leaders brandish.
Much of Europe and Asia have progressively marched into another
century of novelties and sophisticated infrastructural dominance,
underpinned on the architecture of simple but profound Project
Management paradigms-Namely a reason for a project, a need
identified by its citizens and for its citizens, a sustained model of
realizing such defined development objectives.
This tripod forms the dynamic platform for the seeding and survival
of Modern development goals which drives the gigantic
infrastructural growth and development of Europe, America and the
Asian continent. Singapore’s story provides a definite case study of
how some poor, backyard countries could effectively evolve,
beating down the competing forces and crippling conspiracies of
first world nations to take its place in the herd of modern nations.
Theirs was a well-measured national project that spanned for nearly
half a century. The captains of the Singapore’s ship were adroit.
They had a target. They gave name and purpose to their mission.
What eludes Nigeria is the absence of a “backing authority” in all its
development endeavors. The leaders do not always provide a
compelling business case backing contract awards. Infrastructure
contracts are rather awarded on ruling party-negotiated basis. Such
projects lack the connecting framework of stakeholder’s agreement.
Will the ultimate beneficiaries of such project derive terminal value
and satisfaction from such endeavours? Will it address crucial
needs or is it one of such banal schemes of politicians?
The contractors, who form the bulk of the supply initiatives, must be
seen as indispensable component of the stake holders group.
When the project under their management suffer scope creep- not
carried out on time, not run well on approved budget, with wide gap
in the proposed and implemented objectives, who goes
accountable? Often time the suppliers are politicians who are
almost held unaccountable. Some road projects have spanned for
more than two decades, sometimes, the initial costs reviewed
incrementally above rational fiscal judgment.
The final product of such projects, be it road, a bridge, a stadium
even an airport is often riddled with compromised quality objectives.
Some of the classroom and office buildings awarded to certain
contractors barely lived up to their billing. Leaking roofs or sipping
walls are often rampant. The Murtala Mohammed International
Airport presently undergoing renovation is one in many of such
projects bearing visible low quality profiles, with respect to
international practice indices.
Some of such projects in Nigeria are often times nameless, with
clear absence of a functional project monitoring initiative that
qualifies standards, and other ethical parameters of a project.
Collapsed buildings and bridges in their numbers only go to confirm
the low commitment quotient of Nigeria to things that affect the well
being of their nation and citizens.
Can Nigeria give a name to where it’s headed as a nation? Can it
tell why it should head in that direction? Can it extract crucial
benefits why it should head in that direction? Can its stakeholders
optimally harness the resources at their disposal for the numerous
outlined objectives and undertakings? Should they fail to realize
such objectives, who and who should be held accountable given the
vote of resources allotted to such endeavours?
Any country that has no ready, concise and realistic answers to
these questions is Project-Management shy and should not be
taken seriously. Its place can never be in the first bench of modern
nations. Its place it’s sure around the party rooms, of dancing and
merry making, and plenty of laughter and eating of cake and wine.
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