Professor Olakunle Iyanda is the 21st President and Chairman of Council, Nigeria Chartered Institute of Management. A renowned don and professor of International Business Management and Marketing, Iyanda was a research consultant to Geneva-based International Labour Organisation,(ILO). He believes that a manager is in a position of trust to mobilise resources, manage those resources and apply them to functions and activities that are designed to realise the objective for which an organization is set. He speaks more on this, and sundry issues relating to employment marketing among others.
What it takes to manage men and materials in Nigeria
It is not different from being a manager anywhere. Management concepts are universal. It is to manage resources to achieve a purpose for which an organisation is set. In doing that, a manager would have to mobilise the human resources, manage those people, motivate them, improve and continue to improve their skills because skills are dynamic and you fall back because for you to stay in the same place, you have to keep moving with the world as it is moving. So, if you were just where you are, the world would leave you behind. You have to get people, continue to improve, motivate and compensate them when they do things that are good and also punish when they do things that are wrong because that is a reward system.
Nigeria environment and prudent resource management
It is difficult to generalise because it subsumes exceptions. I would say that in the private sector it is moderated by market factors; organisations compete, therefore each organisation has to ensure that it uses and motivates its resources otherwise it loses it and would not be able to compete in the market. This is because its product would not be of quality, and such organisation would be losing good people and would not be attractive to the highly productive sector of the economy. And there would be waste of resources. So, it cannot be in the private sector because of the competition in the market. The public sector is where we have had serious problems because the sector’s survival is not based on efficiency or effectiveness but political and as a result, we have had wastage of resources in the public sector when compared with the private sector. The way we can bring out this is by comparing both sectors. In the private sector, you are evaluated by people who are competent and more knowledgeable than you, in the area of your operation and on the basis of your performance. So, you are evaluated, adjudged, and given a continuous pressure if you are doing well. If you are not, they fire you. But in the public sector, the managers are elected by people who may not even know the job that they are to do. We know in Nigeria, we have a literacy level that is less than 40 percent, the remaining majority 60 percent who dictate who is going to be managers of the public resources don’t know what the job is all about and their criteria for selection are quite different and not related to productivity or effectiveness. Hence we have problems there because the people who manage public sector resources are selected by those not using any criteria related to the job, they would be doing. And that is why we are having the kind of lag. But in the private sector, the employees don’t determine how much of the resources they mobilise or generate; those who are the higher stakeholders dictate it while the stakeholders are the ones who determine how much resources they would devote to the services of the people and how they would keep for themselves in the public sector. And that is why today, we don’t know what our Senators earn, the estimate ranges from about N30 million per senator per month. The same thing in the House of Representatives; nobody knows how much each Honourable member earns. And that is only the official compensation. Unofficially, they go to what they call oversight functions and still take money even though the Senate had paid from the ones they are overseeing. When you are seeing somebody’s work and you are also a beneficiary from that person, you have conflict of interest.
How to replicate management efficiency in private and public sectors
It is not impossible but there are things that we have to change. It would be a long-term project, may be we are moving there gradually. People are becoming more enlightened and sophisticated. We hope we would get to that situation one day when Nigeria would vote for people, government and party which they evaluate and think can best do the job that has to be done about the economy. It is long-term project that can be done through people education and social awareness. And people would be much more interested in performance than a temporary gratuitous gifts by some politicians. People vote today for the person who gives them N5, 000, a bag of rice or stomach infrastructure. We need to move away from that to where we can look at people and ask: “Do they know how the global economy in which we operate work? Does he think of the future? Look at how much money we have spent on various projects. I gave a paper few months ago to the Nigeria Academy of Management in which I listed some of the projects for which we have voted money for several years and they have not been done: We have been on the Mambilla power project for many years and we are still not at 10 percent completion, yet we have spent possibly much more than some similar projects else where. I was reading about a project in Ethiopia where they are producing a power station that would have a megawatts above what we are doing and it is costing them less than it is costing us and they are 50 percent completed while we are still less than that percentage yet spending more. Look at Lagos -Ibadan Expressway way; it has been on for 10 years. I was in the company when the project was flagged off by late President Musa Yar’Adua and it is still less than 50 percent completed and money has been voted for the project. We have had of former President Obasanjo’s expenditure of about $16 billion on power yet we are still in darkness till today. So, management of resources in the public sector is inefficient because the people would not hold those who are elected responsible for their performance, so they get away with a lot of things.
How to reduce unemployment in Nigeria
Yes, it is true unemployment has risen from 15-18.87 percent because of a lot of factors. One of them is power. Energy. When you don’t have energy, you don’t have power to produce and people would have to be laid off. The jobs that would have been done more easily using electrical power, you don’t have it. So, you don’t start those kinds of establishment. We are having a situation where all factories are closing and warehouses are turning to churches and event centers. It is a sign that the industries are contracting and therefore there would be less more work for people. But the outlook for Nigeria economy in 2018 is quite positive and once the GDP is improving, it would mean more people would be employed because Nigeria is projected by all the various organisation such as IMF, World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) to grow at about 2.5, 2.1 percent this year as opposed to only about .8 percent last year or the negative 1.5, 1.45 percent in 2016. So, with that kind of output, there is likely to be an increase in employment. Secondly government expenditure is projected to increase this year and that is likely to be better than it is projected because of the higher price of oil than expected or used in the budget. Oil price is now about 70 dollars for the Brent and yet our budget was based on about 45 dollars. So, that increased income is going to swell government expenditure, which declined from about 13-10.5 percent of GDP in the last year. However, despite the positive economic outlook in 2018, the problem has always been management of resources.
How can companies run efficient organisation
The first thing is that we have to be selective in our industrial expansion. When I addressed the Nigerian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in 1985, I did canvassed that we should let some industries die: industries where we do not enjoy comparative advantage; all the inputs are coming from abroad and value added is nil or very little; such industries don’t actually have the diffusion effects. For instance, we want to be assembling vehicles where we do not seem to have the technical skills and input factor; we just bring in all the semi knocked down (SKD) parts and assemble them. But there are industries where we enjoy great potential in terms of being able to do it at a very reasonable costs such as agrobased industries: processing anything that comes from our land: petrochemical; we have the crude oil but we don’t do anything about it. We have cocoa but we don’t produce chocolate. Switzerland that has no cocoa produces chocolate. We have maize, but we import cornflakes, we grow rice but we were the largest importers of rice from Thailand. If we process our rice, cassava, maize, petrochemical products; these are huge capable industries we can specialise in and can use the money realised in them to buy those products we cannot make economically. We need to be selective in industries, which we encourage in Nigeria. Agro based industries is it for us. We are good at it. The services industries don’t require so much because it is an intellectual product. The media today contribute extensively to our economic well being in terms of computer-technology related services. So, we need to encourage those industries where we have better potential. We have a very large population, so our domestic market is an agent of this and the biggest advantage we have, and this is why all the talks about dismembering Nigeria would not help us because we are going to lose one of the biggest advantages we have, which is our population; the size of our domestic market. If we can develop in the areas where we have competencies, we can really do much better. We equally need to review our education.