Before the death of Nigeria's 3rd President; late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, there was this very popular joke about his dawdling and the overly slow pace of his presidential administration. It goes thus:
"A man drops by at mama-put for lunch and says: Mama, please give me round-about, assorted meat, cow-leg and one Yar'Adua. Mama bursts into tears amidst laughter "Oga, which one be Yar'Adua again o?" The next man on the queue says "Mama, na the fried snail now, you no know say our president slow past snail? Abeg reserve the last Yar'Adua for me o!"
Behind the President's facade as a servant leader was a painfully slow administrator, a weak, unproductive and a very wrong peg forced into the round hole.
Even at the peak of his 3 year lifeless administration, President Yar'Adua was ideologically frail, lacked the requisite skills and certainly had no clue about the economics of Nigeria's problems. Worse still, apart from the sham election which took him to office, the president condoned nonsense by surrounding himself with very irresponsible, clueless and corrupt folks like the Ibori's, the Aondoakaa's and many stupendously dense and naive ministers.
All this dull leadership characteristics and his critical lack of sensible management of people and resources through his three year administration defined Yar'Adua-ism which will never be forgotten in Nigeria's political history.
Indeed, if the same measures and parameters that defined Yara'Aduism are to be applied to President Goodluck Jonathan and his performance in the past one year. He would be no different from his late Boss. But No! Let's define Jonathan-ism on a clean silver platter.
Beyond rhetoric, a plethora economic indicator which shows the true performance of an economy hardly shows any difference in the performance of Nigeria between 2007-2009 and 2010. The former was steered by late Yar'Adua and the latter by President Jonathan.
Left to many realistic observers, one-year is enough to do your best and proof your worse in any leadership position but maybe President Jonathan deserves one more chance to proof himself.
Proofing himself simply means Jonathan-ism defined.
So will the President proof to be another clog in the wheel of Nigeria's progress by condoning ineptitude, corruption and promoting the Abuja culture of â€˜bigstouting and pepper souping?" Or will he assert himself and put square pegs in square holes? Fold his sleeves and get his hands dirty?
Will President Jonathan be on familiar terms with the reality that to make any meaningful progress in the next four years he has to come up with responsible and effective leadership cum management approach? That servant leadership is a big pain in Nigeria's ass and will benefit nobody but the Godfathers in Ota and Abuja.
Effective management for the President would mean a significant departure from the extravagant custom of past. No longer should official celebrations and entertainments cost taxpayer's billions. No longer should recurrent expenditure be overly above capital expenditures in annual budgets. No longer should ex-convicts like the Alameisiegha's be allowed to serve in serious committee's and No longer should any kobo be spent without strict accountability requirement and implementation.
All these would certainly not make President Jonathan the best that Nigeria would ever produce but at least give Jonathan-ism a good definition.
A casual observation would reveal that many Nigerians have natural likeness for the President because of his natural calmness, simplicity and humility. But don't these characteristics reveal an aura of dÃ©jÃ vu? President Yar'Adua also had the same humble and likable personality so â€˜personality' don't do it.
What does it is the realization that without severe discipline, honesty and firm commitment to the Nigerian cause - no meaningful and sustainable progress can be made. It is the realization that only the best must do the job without any recourse to favouritism and politicking. What does it is the recognition that lack of meaningful progress costs the lives of many citizens day in day out and cannot be afforded at any cost. That progress as well as failure cannot be measured by the parameters set as a leader but by those set by the people who are governed.
Giving Jonathan-ism a good meaning would mean that new approach must be applied to existing problems because the solutions of past have failed. To give sense to Jonathan-ism serious commitment must be focused on meeting and possibly exceeding the millennium development goals and a renewed focus must be given to transparency and accountability across all projects and agencies.
To make any sensible meaning of Jonathan-ism, there is serious need for the President to leave politics for politicians and face the economy. As of present, Nigeria's, economy is frail, sensitive and very weak. Our once very interesting capital market has exploded like â€˜the banger on Xmas eve'. No sound agricultural market and our oil and gas world are at serious risks.
While all these problems are not caused by the President; the burden is his.
The burden is his because right now Mr Jonathan's duties entail that of a change manager.
As the change manager, President Jonathan must provide a new breath of leadership, prioritize and attach a sense of urgency to all his duties. This he must instil in all his ministers, advisers and staff and he must bear in mind that he cannot take credit for solving two problems where there are 20 created - that is the work of politicians.
The following change management principle developed by the management guru John Kottler can go a long way in giving sense to defining Jonathan-ism if used as a guide.
1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
- The president must immediately examine market and competitive realities and answer questions like: what are our current weaknesses and the threats facing our products and the Nigerian existence in the internal and external markets.
- Identify and discuss crises, potential crises and major opportunities: the uprisings in the north, the Niger delta unfinished business and others which needs immediate attention.
2. Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
- Assemble a powerful set of ministers and advisers with enough clout to lead the change effort. No old bunkers and no clueless ministers.
- Encourage the group to work as a team by inspiring them and instituting a shared purpose.
3. Create a Vision
- Create a clear, realistic and achievable vision to help direct the change effort: No scanty mantra's like the vision 20/20s.
- Develop strategies for achieving that vision: How exactly do we do to get there and what different strategies do we apply that is different from past.
4. Communicate the Vision
- Use every vehicle possible to realistically communicate the new vision and most importantly the strategies needed to achieve the vision.
- Teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition
5. Empower Action
- Get rid of obstacles to change â€“ the main culprits are corruption and lack of systems that encourages good habit. So create systems and discourage rent seeking behaviours and do everything possible to get rid of corruption.
- Change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision: Call a sovereign national conference and let the people write their constitution. Discourage incompetence and embark on cost cuttings.
- Encourage risk-taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions: For example: electricity can be generated through other means which are quicker and more sustainable than our traditional means. So explore.
6. Plan for and Create Short-Term Wins
- Plan for visible performance improvements: (potential gains of the new administration must be felt in the in the next 1 year, so plan and make change happen).
- Benchmark where possible to make quick and sustainable change
- Set up a commission to look into injustices and reward people who have been unjustly treated by the government.
- Promote press freedom and ensure human right protection 100%
- Implement existing policies that have been forgotten.
- Consult with meaningful stakeholders before any drastic change that will affect people.
7. Consolidate Improvements and keep moving
- Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don't fit the vision
- Hire, promote, and develop people who can implement the vision
- Reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents
- Establish projects upon projects and create a maintenance culture.
8. Institutionalize New Approaches
- Weave change into culture.
- Consolidate on previous gains and promote a culture of responsibility.
The ball is in the President's court. But will he give Jonathan-ism a good definition? The next two years will tell. Keen observers should watch.
President Jonathan Go on. Play the Ball.....