Being a text of a talk given to the Association of Student Administrators Managers and Allied Professionals (ASAMAP), Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria. July 21, 2003
Ladies and Gentlemen:
To begin with, I would like to thank the executive council of the Association of Student Administrators Managers and Allied Professionals (ASAMAP) and the bulk of its membership, for keeping patience with me over the series of postponements that followed the first schedule of this presentation. Over time, my plans were marred by the unexpected, as the scheduled hour of the presentation came near. While I admit that it was not corporate of me to have disappointed you several times, I also put my trust in your ability, being you corporate members of a strong association of this like, to forgive my oversight since we are a people of values hoping to one day build a more productive, resourceful and corporate Nigeria.
No doubt, the conception of this paper was informed by the non-corporate character and disposition - as can be seen in campuses, markets, streets and even matrimonial homes - of the present Nigerian public, remarkably Nigerian graduates, who are inevitably the future administrators, managers, moral teachers and other professionals, who certainly in times to come, will assume the mantle of leadership of our corporate institutions and the country in general.
Corporate as the theme of this discourse, is understood to mean: communal, community or shared and behaviour means conduct or manners. Thus: ‘Corporate Behaviour’ is simply put ‘Communal Conduct’. This paper, though wishing to delve into the areas of psychology and human relation, does not wish to tread the path of history and try to understand the kind of “Communal Behaviour” of the members of our societies in the past, particularly pre-colonial days. Because that may end up putting us into the mindset that will necessitate the kind of intellectual exercise that will excessively glorify and worship the past, place all the blame of our present predicament on foreign influence and at the end of the day advocate for a return to those values, which times perhaps have already over taken.
As heterogeneous as Nigeria is today, there cannot be a fundamental claim that all social, economic and political institutions must draw from one single value system or imbibe from one code of conduct. But, the overwhelming progress recorded over the centuries in the field of information retrieval and information despatch, has succeeded in bridging the gap that lies between individuals as well as groups, hence producing what is now known of our world today -not only Nigeria- as a global village. The hope certainly in the near future is the emergence of a kind of a universal value system harmonious with the need, desire and aspiration of every individual or group.
Though the above supposition may be too optimistic, I still feel it is possible for us to identify with some universal code of conduct that will not inevitably affect our religious affiliations and elemental sentiments. These “new” ways of life are in fact not necessarily new, but abstract realities that for long being not clearly perceived by the leaders of Corporate Nigeria have put a clog in the wheel of our progress. It will also aid our understanding of this paper if we can come to terms with the truth that all the eight major world religions, both theistic: Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Shintoism, and the aesthetic: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism have something in common. They may differ in premise and conclusion but the body of discourse is basically the same. For example, Rabbi Hillel, the leading Jewish priest of the 1st century BC, preached the Golden Rule long before Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and the founder of Confucianism preached it. Of course that was some 500 years before Christ would do the same, saying: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”[i]. This certainly was before the Prophet of Islam would say: “Unbeliever is he who does not wish for his neighbour what he wishes for himself.”[ii] The principles of Golden Rule are also believed to have appeared in the ancient Hindu poem mahabharata. [iii]
Therefore, it should be understood that it is with the above paradigm we will move forward and identify the reason and possibly solutions of the massive failure Nigerians as individuals are recording in the areas of corporate behaviour which in turn leads to the failure of Nigerian leaders in their attempt to move the country forward. Nearly over forty and two years after independence today, Nigerians as individuals have not recorded any success at the level of private victory talk-less of public victory where full value of creative synergy and cooperative exploitation of individual potentials are appreciated.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
All corporate institutions, subordinating one another, have no more goal than to provide for the individual members of the society the following eight items:
i. Health and security of life.
ii. Good food.
iii. Sound and peaceful sleep.
iv. Money and the things money buys.
v. Life in the hereafter.
vi. Sexual gratification.
vii. The well being of their children.
viii. And a feeling of pride and importance as one being an integral part of that society.
We can say here that all of the above items excepting item number eight have something to do with the physical body system of human beings. But item eight is abstract and only finds meaning at the level of psychology and having it or lack of it is the thing that determines the character and disposition of every individual in a corporate institution be him/her a leader or a subordinate. And for certain, if leadership in every corporate institution can have it and be able to give it to its members then it is as good as it has provided them with the rest of the other seven items. Because they will certainly come together and synergistically create the vehicle through which the other seven items will be produced with minimum apprehension. Speaking about this, Dale Carnegie the ever prodigy of the science of human relation has this to say: “ if our ancestors hadn’t had this flaming urge for a feeling of importance, civilisation would have been impossible.”[iv] It is this feeling of importance or rather self sufficiency as the Prophet of Islam would say which enables one as a member of a society to see himself as one who is interested in giving others or creating the same atmosphere where others will feel the same thus forming a paradigm of sound character and effective disposition is what we Nigerians lack in full measure. And this is the essential ingredient of Corporate Behaviour.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Permit me here to illustrate this reality in the following different experiences of my two good friends. First is the one who found reason to visit his onetime boss who happens to be an administrator, a member of the decision-making team of one institution affiliated to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria at their new extension in a remote village known as Shika. He went there and found him sitting in his splendid and well-furnished office equipped with air conditioners, in a twenty four hour power supply in case he would want spend the night there leafing through files. While twenty-four hour power supply is being achieved at Shika, which for now only houses the offices of the administrators of the institution, the main body where the real objective of the institution is sought- because it is the one that houses the halls for admitting patients, emergency, including those to be operated upon - spends twelve hours without light. What is “intriguing”, is this administrator does not feel an iota of guilt on feeding on an assignment that does not rhyme with its full objective. Little attempt is what you see on the administrator to live up to the expectations of the general society of him; neither does he feel deeply the responsibility to give to his people the best even it means him resigning his appointment. His social paradigm is that of he, who doesn’t have enough life, self-importance, not to talk of giving it to others.
The second is a teacher in one of our public secondary schools, who told me how his vice-principal instructed one of the staff at a particular time, that all students must be obliged to pay their school fees within a stipulated time frame, and those who do not pay their school fees should be sent home. That of course is not wrong, but what is wrong and reflects the point we are trying to make here, is what followed that statement. That he too (the vice principal), his children were sent back home from their school (which is private) and he wants to use that money, that public money to pay for his own children’s school fees and repair his vehicle. My friend proceeded to mention how they realise every term five hundred thousand Naira from school fees. But what is disheartening is this money only goes to the pocket of the administrators of the school, thence you would see the school barren of all the materials necessary for a teaching and learning environment. The truth of the matter is not the lack of resources, human or material but the administrators lack of drive, self-importance, and self-sufficiency to serve their flocks with maximum indifference.
The case of these places are only two out of a million and this kind of mediocre approach to public life cited here is only one out of a million. It takes little insight for one who frequents or interacts with them to locate many other clogs.
It is quite unfortunate here to note that virtually all Nigerian public think in similar ways, in or out of public office. Be it at market place, street, bus, campuses, and matrimonial homes. People do not feel it a responsibility to give but rather to take even if it has to be at the expense of their friends’, relatives’, spouses’ and other peoples’ misery. This lack of management skills even at the level of the self is why Nigeria today is yet to achieve anything since after independence save the heap of debris it made out of the achievements of its pre-independence days.
You will wonder as I have wondered why is it that for long everything is the way it is. Nigerians today everywhere across the globe make very good engineers, medical professionals, lawyers, computer system analysts, and etc. but their feat in the areas of leadership and management is rarely seen. They excel only as technical personals. One would wonder why we are lacking grossly in administrative skills. Why is it that we do not have enough self-importance to give to our friends, relatives, spouses, and the generality of the public? Why is it that we cannot make sacrifices to people around us? Why is it that we cannot empathetically feel for those around us so that we can do to them what we would have them do to us? Why is it that we feel too vulnerable to the forces of nature around us that we cannot have enough, talk-less of giving others? Why our degrees and PhDs? Why is it that they do not help us?
Ladies and gentle men:
The answer deeply lies in the fabric of our social system, the human production pipeline. What we have accepted as a result of mostly culture, to be the best way of life, our own definition of right and wrong that shapes the mode of training of our children. Children in Black Africa are not trained to recognise and aptly differentiate right from wrong. But rather are reprimanded whenever they act in a way that does not please the adult in their guardianship. This action alone has the potential of leaving them in continuous crisis of conscience. We beat them when they err no matter how simple the error is, thereby hardening their hearts, amplifying their emotions, and draining away the gift of compassion that God the Almighty has bestowed in them; we suppress their natural confidence and smuggle inferiority complexes into their soul system by making them to stoop too low before we give them what they want.
It is as a result of all these that we today in spite of our alleged loyalty to religion have grown to be too vulnerable to our environment. We cannot feel liberal enough in our souls talk-less of being liberal to those around us. Our social paradigm grows to be that of one who constantly thinks of protecting himself not of giving protection to those around him; of one who feels the need to be loved not of giving love. Thus our character and disposition become that of an animal who carts and cares only for himself. When we walk on the street we only want to be heard but do not listen; in buses it is a struggle between the passenger and the conductor to cheat and ride on one another’s feelings and emotions; on campuses, the seat of knowledge, is get the certificate since it is the meal ticket; in our matrimonial homes it is always be at the beneficial side. At the end of the day you find that the goal of our corporate institutions are always defeated and Nigeria as a well conceived project is proving to be too farfetched to accomplish.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is true that there is no real excellence in life that is not associated with right living. Therefore, there is no hope for us in as much as we cannot change this social setting. Ours is a bunch of habits of course, scripts, paradigms that have been passed down to us from generations which are synonymous to failure and the challenge of every Nigerian graduate today is to see how he can change his script in such a way that conforms with a better set of character and disposition.
Yes, it is true, while some thinkers believe habits to be weaves of strands which cannot be broken; thereby condemning us to failure and eternal decay others[v] believe they can be unrolled and changed. And since we are a people of religion and knowledge, guided by hopes and efforts we will certainly find peace in toiling along this direction. This certainly outlines the challenge on our present set of graduates who will assume the leadership of our corporate institutions in the near future. By Allah, where the will is great the difficulty cannot be great. We only need to reactivate our conscience and reschedule our disposition. We only follow the advice of Stephen R. Covey and try to rise above dependence on our environment to independence by being proactive, daring and inventive in life while having it clear in our mind that the end is most significant in whatever project we embark upon. In our daily life the first things should always come first. It is then we can conquer ourselves and prepare ourselves into public living where the cancer that is malignant in the body of our corporate institutions lies. It is here that the Golden Rule finds its essence. Having already achieved so much in the areas of corporate dressing, we only need now to learn to think in terms of other people’s interest, when we enter into every relationship; with a paradigm of benefiting and letting others to do the same; when we love and let others live; when we do to others what we will have them do unto ourselves. It is then even in matters of communications our disposition will be empathetic, when our partners speak we will listen and imagine ourselves in there own mental frame-up before we attempt to make them listen to us.
Ladies and gentlemen:
What will automatically follow in our daily disposition is going to be a desire to assist one another with smiles and kind words; we will be appreciating one another’s virtues, we will respect one another’s opinions and will over look one another’s weaknesses. Our loyalty to one another will increase, our human contact will be smooth, and we will have, visions, missions and cogent philosophies that will guide our disposition. Our motives will be graced; we will always be the right persons needed not the people always needing the right persons. We can then come together and synergistically harness our individual creative potentials in Full Corporation. Happiness will win our homes and we will achieve maximum productivity, stability, prosperity and security in our public living. It is then we can have the confidence to walk the streets as corporate persons living only to die for our people and humanity in general. We will then find reason in the command of the sound values and principles of our religions to proudly speak to all around us in the tune of the Arabian poet who says:
“…. When I stand on my feet, it is my shadow amidst you
When I pass away it is my image you remember”
Most grateful forever I remain, I ask for your forgiveness.
[i]Holy Bible, Mathew Chapter 7: 12 (KJV)
[ii] Arbauna Ahadith al Nawawiy, Hadith No 11-12
[iii] Michael H. Hart, The One Hundred: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Men In History, Revised Edition, Citadel Press, Kensington Publishing Corporation, New York, 1992, Pages 19-20.
[iv]Dale Carnegie, How To Make Friends And Influence People, Rhema Publishers, Inc. Benin city, Nigeria. Pages 38-39.
[v] Stephen Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schulster UK ltd. Africa House 64-78 Kingsway, London WC2B 6AH. 1999.