First, I loud the current intention of the Nigerian government to develop a robust and unified identification system for the citizens. The Nigerian factor as it well would never go away anytime we want to do something of significance. Why?!
There is a bad practice in public administration and management in Nigeria that will continue to have a huge cost to the society if not addressed urgently. It is the total disregard for rigorous intellectual content in what we do as a society. This is directly linked to why there is no value attached to our educational institutions. How could it be that risk assessments, H & S assessments, logistics planning, IT infrastructure review and process flow mapping for the validation of the ID card appear not to have been implemented. The only plan appears to be where people should go and the negative effect if they do not comply. This has caused panic and exposed many Nigerians unnecessarily to COVID-19 risks and unplanned expenses whilst the economy bites.
I listened to the State Minister of Health on Channels TV and he blamed Nigerians for the problems associated with the process. He said people are supposed to register at home and then approach NIMC office for authorisation. I wanted Channels TV to point out that although many Nigerians may have a phone, not all the phones are smartphones or Internet-enabled. If there was a rigorous planning, this should have been captured and alternative solution contemplated.
How Nations build strong institutions is by generating evidences through their higher institutions. Even in the current challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic, look at the role of Oxford University in England and Yale in USA. People keep asking while Nigerians cannot produce COVID-19 vaccine? The answer is simple. Nigeria does not value intellectualism! Yet, competitive nations are build on sustainable philosophical framework build on abstract ideals that represent typical products of intellectualism.
When I was undergoing Masters training at The University of Warwick, UK, I filled a feedback form in which I stated something that caused the Director of Postgraduate studies to invite me to his office. What was it? I felt that my state government (Ebonyi State) that sponsored Masters paid more than what I learned. I studied Manufacturing Systems Engineering. The basis for my conclusion was that the learning experience was not as difficult as my Bachelors at FUTO, Nigeria. I felt it should be harder. At FUTO, we derived everything from the first principle and engage in difficult mathematical calculations. After few months, the University took us on excursions to BMW, Jaguar Landrover, Eastern food, etc. I noticed one thing that was consistent across the companies. THE SAME THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS, BEST PRACTICES, MANUFACTURING STRATEGIES, ETC THAT WE HAVE STUDIED ARE IN USE IN ALL THE COMPANIES. While reflecting one day, I thought that if all these companies are using the approach I was thought in my Masters, then I may have achieved a priced information and training. I then realligned my personal expectations with ideal expectations and that was the first time I truly valued the training I acquired from my Masters. The actual problem I had was that I came from a society that do not use intellectualism to cause societal changes and that affected what I felt was important. Since then, I have realised how precious the training I received from Warwick was and it has benefited me a lot.
For Nigeria to start working as it should, it is time to begin to place premium on intellectualism. It is time to shift to evidence-based management from copycat and knee-jerk approaches. Generation of quality evidences that can facilitate accurate and holistic decision-making is in the domain of intellectualism. My immediate recommendations are as follows:
1. The National ID card validation program probably managed by Ministry of Communication and digital economy should quickly invite a team of experts from the Universities in Nigeria to plan a sustainable strategy on how to proceed safely.
2. FGN should appease ASUU and meet all their needs required for them to go back to work. Universities are seedbed for intellectualism and the current dispositions are inimical to the capacity of the University to contribute to national development.
3. There should be a cultural shift towards evidence-based management. For instance, I have always referred people to JAMB and NYSC when it comes to complex logistics. If mass mobilisation or engagement across Ministries and Departments in Nigeria should be brought to the standard of NYSC, I am sure it will provide good experiences to the citizens. Not that JAMB and NYSC are perfect but let continous improvements of new processes start from there.
4. There should a deliberate policies to involve higher institutions in Nigeria in the generation of evidence for decision- making in the National Assembly. In the UK, they have Select Committees on different issues that affect their society. The Select Committee goes through evidence produced through research to form an official position. Take for instance, the 774 jobs across the 774 local governments in Nigeria. It is a mere soundbite. The sustainability of the so-called jobs are questionable. I believe that the scheme lacks intellectual content and should be evidence-based.
5. Part of the FG-ASUU quagmire is due to the funding framework for the University system in Nigeria. The government should set-up Research Grant Bodies like the EPSRC and UKRI in the UK. If Nigerian lecturers get grants to do research and develop patents, generate spinoff companies and commercialise their ideas, the fear by ASUU will be reduced. They cannot passively watch the politicians stop them from teaching in many Universities to make ends meet while politicians are appropriating unimaginable resources to themselves. To encourage intellectualism, evidence-based management, national development and innovation, creating a grant awarding body will be a great idea! The contributions of PTDF and TETFUND to national development are crucial but they are not sustainable because there is no grant to continue researching. There is also minimal knowledge transfer from funded lecturers to university students because they cannot setup a research problem to collaborate on. Learning does not take place in a vacuum, learning happens when a problem is being solved.
6. There is no Access Management System for researchers in Nigeria. What this means is that most academics and students do not have access to global databases where novel conversations on current topics are taking place. To give you a clue, my PhD was sponsored by FGN. I have published 5 articles in subscription journals. Nigerians apart from those in overseas universities cannot access them. Can I shock you too. I will not access it ( my work) when I am in Nigeria. Hold on for a minute. Imagine that the researches funded by TETFUND and PTDF and individual efforts cannot be accessed because Nigeria does not have Unified Access Management System. Coutries like South Africa, Morocco and Egypt have National Access Management. How much more Nigeria?
7. I also appeal to the Private Sectors to support funding of research in Nigeria. Companies share the same environment with the citizens and any research funded to improve the society is a worthwhile social responsibility.
In conclusion, I hope that the current Nigerian government and subsequent administrations will perform a reappraisal of their commitment to the use of ideas as a competitive tool because this is an era of knowledge economy. Give thinking to those paid to think and let them do their job for the progress of the society. We need more intellectual content in our society.
Later in the year, we will have a conversation in The Questelligence Forum (www.destinychukwu.a.com) on how we think the government can go about establishing a grant awarding body and Access Management System. Contact me with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or feedback.