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Saturday, 3 November 2012

Dele Momodu: Time to build a modern Nigeria

by Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, please permit me to reveal my favourite segment on CNN. It is called Future Cities. If you have access to satellite television and stable electricity at home, you must endeavour to search for this exciting program. You will be awe-struck by the spectacular advances of man in a world where some countries like ours still live in the Stone Age. The one I watched a few days ago was the focus on the brand new airport being built in Abu Dhabi. It got me wondering why we can’t replicate such feats with our own oil money. Is it that we’ve resigned our miserable lives to fate in the fervent belief that we can’t do anything to change our outrageous situation? Have we accepted that we don’t deserve the good things of life that we see and take for granted when we travel abroad as we all love to do?
I have no doubt in my mind that we live the most squalid existence in Nigeria. Forget the fact that we parade some of the most expensive homes and drive the most exotic cars known to mankind. Please, ignore what seems to be the latest craze in this embattled country, the acquisition and the maddening proliferation of private jets. It is all shakara. Many of the owners don’t have the kind of money you imagine they’re worth. Most of them owe the air they breathe to their banks. On top of that, they have plundered our treasury dry through all manner of hanky-panky, subterfuge and even outright theft. It remains a miracle, courtesy of sedatives, how many of them can actually go to bed and catch a few hours nap.
Truth is we live in the most expensive ghettos on this planet earth. We are free to delude ourselves that ours is the ideal enjoyment, because we foolishly use the head of a cobra to scratch the body without realising the inherent danger in the poisonous snake. Or, how can you justify the madness of building a one billion naira mansion that has no passable road, power supply, chlorinated pipe-borne water, efficient security, and so on, except the owner provides all. Nigeria is probably the only country you can’t be sure if the equivalent of $2m dollars can buy you a place in your dream neighbourhood. It is also an oppressive and intimidating State where you can’t get a mortgage and car loan and pray to manage your life and live happily thereafter. You are thus consigned to a dustbin survival like a scavenger, and compelled to join the rat race as you must cough out the dough only in raw cash. The whiff of money is what has turned otherwise reasonable men into lunatics who go on rampage to grab anything in sight. They steal in arrears and in advance, and nothing is too big or small to pilfer unabashedly.
But a cash-and-carry economy can never take us to the promised land. No society has ever developed without a credit system. This has contributed immensely to the large-scale corruption in Nigeria. Any salary-earner who’s able to build sprawling mansions in rich estates and purchase outlandishly expensive cars without obtaining loans is likely to be a crook. This is one reason it is wrong and erroneous to restrict and ascribe corruption only to political office holders and civil servants. Corruption has become endemic in our clime because we live in a competitive environment where it is a crime to be poor and the attitude is that of every man for himself and God for us all.
We can’t go on like this or something cataclysmic will give one day soon. The tell-tale signs are already there. The world has become too small and shrinking and advancing, majestically, by the day. There’s so much to learn about, and from, those countries that are doing very well. Technology has made it easier to check facts and figures. A leader need not gallivant about before understanding the world we live in. Everything is available at the touch of a button. A President does not have to go on a merry-go-round while pretending to be in search of investors. True investors know where and where not to invest. Nothing is hidden these days because the masquerades of old have been stripped bare in the market place. You don’t have to travel to Germany to examine gas turbines. You have no business flying to Netherlands to see what windmills look like. There are too many power options these days that only an unserious nation would jubilate and celebrate 4,000 irregular megawatts after wasting trillions of Naira. No nation spends our kind of money without demanding nor getting results, and carry on as if nothing happened.
We can do much better than we are doing. We must begin by revamping our scandalous infrastructure. It takes our brazen and unrepentant boldface to continue to brag that we are the giant of Africa. Giants don’t live in filth and incurable sin. For donkey years, we’ve refused to make our airports visitor-friendly. Just imagine what welcomes you to Lagos, the New York of Africa, as you drive out of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, towards Mafoluku, Oshodi, Gbagada, Oworonsoki, or even the unpardonable squalor along the path of the famous Third Mainland Bridge. What’s the source of our shameless swagger when the Federal Government has failed to honour its simple obligations to the people of Nigeria after announcing stupendous budgets at its yearly ritual?
We probably have the worst network of roads in the world. Our leaders must save us from this unjustifiable ignominy by starting from somewhere. The Federal Government would endear itself to the people the day Nigerians can travel round their own country with minimum stress. A gloomy environment can only attract doom. Nigeria is a nation of perpetual bad news because the darkness that has descended on us can only breed evil spirits and demons. Many Nigerians are too frustrated not to consider or commit crime. I’m shocked that many of our leaders have not discovered the secret of what catapulted Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos to the top position amongst equals. His deliberate, determined and consistent beautification of Lagos did the trick.
The environment is always self-evident when conducive. It is the best form of advertisement a sensible government can proudly put on parade. No one would pray for a government that fails to tar a simple road between Port Harcourt and Yenogoa. No citizen would appreciate a country where you spend ten hours on a one hour journey. No inspiration can be derived from a polluted atmosphere. This is even easier to achieve than battling the anti-electricity syndicates and generator cartels. A lot of jobs would be created when various governments, from Federal down to Local Government, decide to clean up our messy environment.
Naturally, we must work on mass transit in all its ramifications. The cost, and timing, of doing business in Nigeria is excessively prohibitive. A country with our kind of population cannot continue to depend on prehistoric means of transportation. Nigerians are too stylish and widely-travelled not to see that the world left us behind some 50 years ago, if not more. The hullabaloo over the Okada ban, or restrictions, in Lagos would not have been necessary if our leaders had done the right things in the past.
Before our very eyes, our country nose-dived and became a pathetically backward nation where commuters had to risk their lives on motorbikes largely controlled by some dare-devils. A lot of the oil tankers constituting unbearable menace on our highways would be a thing of the past if we can transport our petroleum products by rail. Farm products would also be easier to distribute in same fashion. It is incredible how we’ve endured the excruciating process of distributing products all this while without demanding and insisting on what is desperately needed. We’ve been short-changed for too long by leaders who abandoned the railways and sentenced us to mass suicide on the roads.    
Next we must fix our education. The state of our education has reached tragic dimensions and catastrophic proportions. Education is everything. It is the soul of a nation. We must find the political will to close down most of the mushroom institutions that breed nothing but glorified illiterates. Most of our graduates are not employable even if there are jobs. We must merge some of the higher institutions for better and effective management. We must re-accredit the private schools that are merely fleecing innocent students and their parents. A situation where Nigerian certificates have become virtually worthless cannot augur well for our future development and progress.
Serious attention should be paid to the welfare of teachers. Nigerian teachers are too pauperised to motivate their students. Our students can never respect people who look up to sales of hand-outs for personal survival. There is also the urgent need to scrutinise our curriculum and make them relevant to our needs. We must restore our technical schools speedily to upgrade the quality and performance of our artisans. The reading culture must be re-awakened by providing well-stocked libraries. We must invest in e-libraries and take advantage of the limitless access to information and knowledge provided. It is sad that politicians are busy playing terrible politics with the future of our youths. They don’t seem to care because they can afford to send their kids to the most expensive schools in the world. But do they really know what most of these kids do abroad? Someone should please enlighten them. Too much spoliation by unrestricted access to unlimited cash often turns many of these kids into social misfits. And the parents won’t even notice when things are going wrong because they are slaves of power and wealth and have been blinded by both.
Building a modern Nigeria is not an impossible mission. I have seen many poor nations transform genuinely from penury to prosperity. We have what it takes to do it. The main ingredients include determination, dedication and honesty of purpose. We shall develop on this thesis with copious examples from around the world.
•To be continued  

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Rejoinder: Hauwa Gambo: Bola Ahmed Tinubu, you have a message

I have known the writer to be very prolific, and have always showcased this through her dexterous style of writing- thumbs!
 However, I’m largely disappointed at how you handled this piece. I’m surprised at how difficult it is for you to distinguish between a strong character and a vibrant entity. This clearly exhibits your very shallow knowledge of what a political party should represent and how they operate.

First, your write up shows how much of a pessimist you are. It shows how laidback you are toward contributing to transforming the political landscape in this country eventhough you claim to be very knowledgeable.

Second, the title of your write up clearly lacks logical connection with the body of your message in that your inability to clearly state whether you had problems with the personality of Ashiwaju Bola A. Tinubu, state governors of the ACN or the party itself. I was very quick and excited to read your piece but was disconsolate to realize it fell short of what I expected from you. The fact is, there’s much to gain when you crystallize problems with intention of driving at a point. Yours’ is however a reversed case, because you have shown to many individuals like myself, who looked up to your capabilities and prowess at changing the socio-political milieu of this country, that being a prolific writer doesn’t make a transformational leader.

Third, I acknowledge the fact that during the course of several campaign rallies for the just concluded guber-election in Ondo state, inciting, unfriendly, vulgar, and obnoxious statements were made by individuals of repute and caliber. Please note that this act cuts across board. Leaders of the various political parties slandered and defamed their personalities for cheap political gains. It’s left for our generation to decide on whether or not to adopt a more civil approach in politicking.

Fourth, what happened in Ondo state clearly shows that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. Nigerians are more aware, engaged and committed towards sustaining virtues of democracy, which is very laudable. For me, the outcome of the poll in Ondo is indeed the ‘beauty of democracy’. Democracy is more about an open-ended approach to development, good governance; higher living standards et al. political parties are vehicles to specific destinations, its left for people to decide what vehicle they desire.

Fifth, yes indeed, the ACN came in with so much vibes and many hoping that the party would drive us to our desired destination. Well, it’s apt for me to state that even though we ain’t there yet, the party hasn’t fallen below expectations. As a matter of fact, considering the political terrain in Nigeria and the arch dominance and rivalry of a party like the PDP, the ACN has done fairly well. There’s no perfect system anywhere in the world; the ACN is well aware of her fundamental challenges and working toward correcting them.

Sixth, I unequivocally and clearly condemn your statement  “…as Nigerians ponder the absence of a credible alternative in our politics at the moment” – very laughable! This clearly shows you are not engaged, yet you are very quick to condemn. Dear Hauwa Gambo there are over thirty (30) political parties in Nigeria; yet you say absence of a credible alt? My very candid advice for you is identify yourself with one of these and contribute to developing our country by deploying your God given talents and other resources available to you.
Finally, please whittle down on your Nihilistic approach and be more objective in your writings.

Sept, 2012

Hauwa Gambo: Bola Ahmed Tinubu, you have a message

One of the distinct tragedies of our politics is that a succession of leaders has honed to an art the mind-boggling inability to learn from those before them.
The result of this is immediately apparent: a vastly variable set of leaders, but the very same set of values and, of course, consequences. We have been led by sometimes accomplished, sometimes idiotic men – but the effect has been the same; Nigeria continues to decline.
This ongoing tragedy was on vivid display last week as a posse of Action Congress of Nigeria chiefs descended on Ondo and proceeded to indulge in the kind of verbal seppuku one should only find in a slum beer parlor. Including dangerous ‘confessions’ by its national leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that he gave millions of pounds to Olusegun Mimiko, the party projected a loud and wild confidence that it would “crush” its rival.
Of course, pride comes before a fall. By the time the dust from their brooms settled, the ACN had lost the elections so badly that even the PDP got more votes without investing as much time, money and hot air. Mimiko, under the Labour Party, got 260, 199 votes. The People’s Democratic Party candidate, Olusola Oke, got 155,961 votes. Rotimi Akeredolu was left with a measly 143,512 votes.
It was almost impossible not to draw parallels with the PDP’s fatal misadventure in Edo barely months ago – where President Goodluck Jonathan led a boisterous, clownish parade declaring premature victory in a state which any analyst worth her salt knew the PDP was going to lose.
In that same vein, the ACN sort to supplant the humble mobilisation of votes and winning of hearts that is at the heart of democracy with a vacuous chest-thumping that undoubtedly got on the nerves of the electorate, and repelled observers across the country.
The ACN has sadly become a punch line. It came into our political space with plenty of promise, signalled by its broom party symbol, which indicated it was ready to sweep away the uglier tendencies of politics and policy in Nigeria. Instead, over the past few years, and with intensity over the last couple of months, it has slowly but steadily transmuted from hero to bĂȘte noire.
The insurgent party has become unrecognisable; the very demonstration of that which, without irony, it rails against. Even its promise of Awolowo’s lusty developmental vision has largely been a mirage.  In the South-West which it dominates, it has ambled along with juvenile irredentism (Rauf Aregbesola, Osun) arrogant elitism (Babatunde Fashola, Lagos), oblivious inaction (Ibikunle Amosun, Ogun), wanton profligacy (Abiola Ajimobi, Oyo); redeemed only by flashes of brilliance (Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti).
It has abandoned any pretense at modesty to expand its base and deepen its achievements, a path that many would have expected, not because of any inherent decency, but in the strategic realisation that hubris is the tragic flaw that has destroyed the PDP and made it incapable of transforming Nigeria.
As a student of Nigerian history, I cannot pretend to be shocked at this turn of events, but it has not lessened my disappointment. Which is why I join the popular celebration of the defeat or the ACN and Tinubu, in Ondo State on Sunday.
As surely as the sun rises in the east, the party deserved that humiliation, and as Nigerians ponder the absence of a credible alternative in our politics at the moment, the moral of this story is quite simple really: the broom is no cleaner than the umbrella.
In fact, when push comes to shove, they are, both, two fingers of one giant leprous hand. Let the buyer beware.

Friday, 19 October 2012


Governments around the world today are faced with enormous challenges and these challenges seem to be ubiquitous; they come as extra hidden packages. The more we pursue developmental goals and good governance the more these challenges continue to rear their ugly heads.
However, I will be drawing lessons from the south-eastern country of Malawi to espouse and analyze some of the common challenges we face as countries within the continent.  Malawi is over 118,000 km2 with an estimated population of more than 13,900,000. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city; the second largest is Blantyre and the third is Mzuzu.
Nigeria and Malawi have very little things in common asides issues of poverty, HIV/AIDS, leadership, etc. Malawian President Joyce Banda stated that her cash-strapped government will sell the presidential jet controversially bought by her predecessor. The president succeeded late president Bingu wa Mutharika after he died from a heart attack in April. President Joyce championed a national austerity drive which includes cost-cutting schemes and getting rid of government luxury vehicles and the plane, which are symbols of power and status in this poor nation where nearly 40% of the 13 million people scrape by on less than a dollar a day.

Couple of days ago, the Nigerian president presented the 2013 annual budget to the National Assembly. While many praised the executive for the timely budget presentation and also acknowledged the improvement in budgetary allocations. This time education got the highest, a very laudable step taken by the FG towards education in recent times. However, many have been quick to notice that while many countries of the world are taking austerity measures very seriously, Nigeria’s case seems to be the reverse. Allocations like feeding in the ASO ROCK, fire extinguishers and refreshment have over a billion each in allocation. This has prompted more and more questions about the need for government to make tougher austerity measures. Malawi as a country that relies on exportation of agricultural produce and foreign donation for economic gains; and have in recent times taken measures to cut cost. President Joyce Banda recently announced a 30% pay cut for her and the VP. Presidential pay cut is of course not new to Nigeria; late president Umar Yar’adua also did slash his pay as president, however, I think making meaningful austerity measures goes beyond pay cuts but looking into other aspect of governance where expenses can be whittled down meaningfully. Although, economically and demographically both countries cannot be compared, nevertheless, there’s need for Countries in Africa and particularly Nigeria to begin to cut down on unnecessary spending and acquisitions. A thorough job must be done by the national assembly to ensure that allocations must be justifiable, with an end result of enhancing productivity in all sectors.
It is also quintessential to note that Nigeria operates an incremental budget, which in my opinion needs to be checked.  More disturbing is the rising recurrent expenditure which the budget depicts; many countries are working towards downsizing civil service workforce thereby making it more efficient and effective. Good governance isn’t tied to how many individuals government can employ into its coffers but creating an enabling environment where citizens can thrive in whatever economic engineering they engage and where foreign investors can operate without impediments or negative forces.
FINALLY, issues of domestic debt seem to be on the front burner, the legislative and executive arms are still battling to reach an agreement on what benchmark the 2013 budget should be hinged. Running a deficit economy (i.e spending above earnings), excess crude account, sovereign wealth funds, etc, are issues that will remain with us for a while, until something fundamental is done to correct the way our economy is been managed. Based on the last release by the Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s domestic debt stood at over six trillion naira, which is very disturbing. There must a balance as to how we manage our God given resources and it is never a must to operate an incremental budget on a yearly basis. As a matter of information Niger republic, Nigeria’s close door neighbor has proposed a budget for 2013 seven percent (7%) lower than the previous. Governments at all levels must do everything possible to cut down spending at all cost and there must be justification for every penny spent- ACCOUNTABILITY!

Olojo V.
Oct, 2012

Monday, 8 October 2012

Reactions to 'Aluu killings' by Mark Mazadu

                                                            Mark Mazadu
"Much more devastating is the fact that our society celebrate 'bigger criminals' and kill the weak who could be helpless"

My latest reaction on the UNIPORT 4 Murder: The culture of jungle justice is satanic...Even if they were Cultist, rapist, thieves or whatever the society brands them... No human, I repeat, NO HUMAN deserves to take the life of another or deserve to die in such satanic manner. Don't get it why pple like taking the laws into their hands and cry fowl when similar 'injustice' is done to them... Shame how fellow human beings watched as humans are burnt alive...wonder if the saying do unto other as you would wish to be done unto you means anything to them. More shameful, the love of human power has replaced the power of love in our society... Much more devastating is the fact that our society celebrate 'bigger criminals' and kill the weak who could be helpless... We look up to God for mercy yet we show others no mercy. We seek Gods help, yet we forget the greatest help God has given us is Love thy neighbor as urself. May God forgive our ways... We keep shouting Boko Haram, Boko Haram, Boko Haram, yet some of us in our thoughts and ways act worst than BH. Some say its the best culture to teach the so called bad eggs among us a big lesson, I'm of the view any culture that say we should kill pple is not culture but wickedness. Wonder how those watching will go to bed and sleep sound... what we'll tell our children and our children's, children about love. May God have mercy on the souls of the departed, comfort their families and forgive the murderers. Dis madness must stop... "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone" the Bible tells us. This is indeed one of the saddest day for me in the history of humanity. (My opinion pls) @snmtravelin

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Decades ago, gender and women issues were on the front burner of global development agenda. Today it is relatively inappropriate to solve challenges of developing countries without focusing on the role of women. Likewise, a remarkable shift is required with respect to youth development in Nigeria. As we might be conversant with, some of the issues affecting youths today includes education, employment, poverty, drug abuse, health and environment, juvenile delinquency, empowerment, participation in governance and globalization.

The story of Nigeria’s nascent democracy would be incomplete without the incredible efforts and sacrifices made by the youths of this country.  We all know the important roles youths played during past elections, so many noble youths paid the ultimate price, just for the good of the whole. As a young Nigerian growing up, I had my first taste of participation during the 2003 general elections, as an election observer with Justice, Development, and Peace Commission (JDPC), I travelled across the country and I had a firsthand experience of what it meant to be in service for ones’ country.
Nigeria’s youths are the most resilient, enterprising and talented. The youths are becoming more and more conscious of their political environment and desire direct control over their future.
A youth is referred to as the state of or time of being young. It is also referred to as a period of time when someone is young, especially the period between being a child and being fully grown. (Akpan & Ekong, 2006)

Nigerian youths must not be blind-folded by the cheap gains of today as against the pursuit for a better tomorrow. PDP- A party that has led this country for well over a decade and still lacks anything meaningful to show for this; political parties are meant to be vanguards of ensuring that the impact of democracy is felt; the opposite is the case as the essence of true democracy is yet to be felt by common Nigerians on the streets. They have succeeded in satisfying and enriching themselves (gluttonous bourgeois class) and also further deepening the gap between the ‘haves and have not’.

The concept of ‘new wine in old bottle’ is applicable to the youths of this country. Isn’t it funny and disturbing how some young folks would rather put up a sky-rise structure on an already weak and frail foundation? Identifying with a party that doesn’t have youth development/participation/mobilization/engagement programmes will be absolutely unproductive; all they care about is holding fiercely to power by whatever means.
The PDP as it is known has many youth groups and faction without a clear cut agenda/programme of engagement; national youth wing, youth circuit, youth groups, youth chapters, et al. A party where evil outweighs good, where corruption is at grand standing, where there are over eleven thousand (11,000) abandoned projects unattended to, yet new ones are being approved weekly with no guarantee that they will be commissioned, where successive administrations have done nothing but further retrogress the country, it’s been a case of one step forward and two steps backward; a party that claims to have solutions to Nigeria’s problem but has ended up creating more problems; a party where a being youth means been 60 years of age and above; a party that has failed to recognize that involving the youths in decision making process will further enhance their faith and believe in the process of governance.
Surprisingly, many youths have failed to realize the fact that a party is in power today doesn't mean it holds the key to the future. It is against this backdrop that I have decided to do this piece. To honk the sound of advice to those who are willing to listen, to those who would take a second look and retrace their parts.

My doubts about the meaningful existence of the PDP was totally cleared, when the new chairman of the party announced the novel agenda of the party was to be registered as a corporation. This move clearly shows that the party does not have the masses at heart; they exist solely for their own interest; a party that lacks fundamental attributes of a political entity. A party that’s far from been institutionalized is pursuing economic gains. PDP has lost its essence of existence as far as we know. Political parties are the main mechanism for the organization of government and the key channels for maintaining democratic accountability, none of these values seem to be on the plane of the PDP.
We all understand the laws of nature because we live by these laws on a daily basis. A goat will give birth to a goat, an elephant to an elephant, a monkey to a monkey, so what do we expect as an offshoot of the mainstream PDP – I know you have the best answers.

 The importance of developing the potentials of youths cannot be over-emphasized because the development of a society or country at large depends on the quality of its manpower, a bulk of which the youths represents. That is to say today’s youth has a pivotal role to play in birthing a new tomorrow; this is something we take very seriously on this platform.

Youths across the country must join efforts to identify with entities that have shown concerted effort and commitment toward creating enabling environment for youth development while other progressive’s should ensure that young persons are accommodated within the mainstream of their political party politics where critical decisions affecting them are dealt with. We encouraged more youths to participate actively in political process; such encouragements have gone a long way in building necessary social structures and providing the enabling atmosphere for the realization of talents and personality development.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ten Reasons People Resist Change

Leadership is about change, but what is a leader to do when faced with ubiquitous resistance? Resistance to change manifests itself in many ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to petty sabotage to outright rebellions. The best tool for leaders of change is to understand the predictable, universal sources of resistance in each situation and then strategize around them. Here are the ten I've found to be the most common.
Loss of control. Change interferes with autonomy and can make people feel that they've lost control over their territory. It's not just political, as in who has the power. Our sense of self-determination is often the first things to go when faced with a potential change coming from someone else. Smart leaders leave room for those affected by change to make choices. They invite others into the planning, giving them ownership.
Excess uncertainty. If change feels like walking off a cliff blindfolded, then people will reject it. People will often prefer to remain mired in misery than to head toward an unknown. As the saying goes, "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know." To overcome inertia requires a sense of safety as well as an inspiring vision. Leaders should create certainty of process, with clear, simple steps and timetables.
Surprise, surprise! Decisions imposed on people suddenly, with no time to get used to the idea or prepare for the consequences, are generally resisted. It's always easier to say No than to say Yes. Leaders should avoid the temptation to craft changes in secret and then announce them all at once. It's better to plant seeds — that is, to sprinkle hints of what might be coming and seek input.
Everything seems different. Change is meant to bring something different, but how different? We are creatures of habit. Routines become automatic, but change jolts us into consciousness, sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Too many differences can be distracting or confusing. Leaders should try to minimize the number of unrelated differences introduced by a central change. Wherever possible keep things familiar. Remain focused on the important things; avoid change for the sake of change.
Loss of face. By definition, change is a departure from the past. Those people associated with the last version — the one that didn't work, or the one that's being superseded — are likely to be defensive about it. When change involves a big shift of strategic direction, the people responsible for the previous direction dread the perception that they must have been wrong. Leaders can help people maintain dignity by celebrating those elements of the past that are worth honoring, and making it clear that the world has changed. That makes it easier to let go and move on.
Concerns about competence. Can I do it? Change is resisted when it makes people feel stupid. They might express skepticism about whether the new software version will work or whether digital journalism is really an improvement, but down deep they are worried that their skills will be obsolete. Leaders should over-invest in structural reassurance, providing abundant information, education, training, mentors, and support systems. A period of overlap, running two systems simultaneously, helps ease transitions.
More work. Here is a universal challenge. Change is indeed more work. Those closest to the change in terms of designing and testing it are often overloaded, in part because of the inevitable unanticipated glitches in the middle of change, per "Kanter's Law" that "everything can look like a failure in the middle." Leaders should acknowledge the hard work of change by allowing some people to focus exclusively on it, or adding extra perqs for participants (meals? valet parking? massages?). They should reward and recognize participants — and their families, too, who often make unseen sacrifices.
Ripple effects. Like tossing a pebble into a pond, change creates ripples, reaching distant spots in ever-widening circles. The ripples disrupt other departments, important customers, people well outside the venture or neighborhood, and they start to push back, rebelling against changes they had nothing to do with that interfere with their own activities. Leaders should enlarge the circle of stakeholders. They must consider all affected parties, however distant, and work with them to minimize disruption.
Past resentments. The ghosts of the past are always lying in wait to haunt us. As long as everything is steady state, they remain out of sight. But the minute you need cooperation for something new or different, the ghosts spring into action. Old wounds reopen, historic resentments are remembered — sometimes going back many generations. Leaders should consider gestures to heal the past before sailing into the future.
Sometimes the threat is real. Now we get to true pain and politics. Change is resisted because it can hurt. When new technologies displace old ones, jobs can be lost; prices can be cut; investments can be wiped out. The best thing leaders can do when the changes they seek pose significant threat is to be honest, transparent, fast, and fair. For example, one big layoff with strong transition assistance is better than successive waves of cuts.
Although leaders can't always make people feel comfortable with change, they can minimize discomfort. Diagnosing the sources of resistance is the first step toward good solutions. And feedback from resistors can even be helpful in improving the process of gaining acceptance for change.
More blog posts by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Rosabeth Moss Kanter


Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the
author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Her 2011 HBR article, "How Great Companies Think Differently," won a McKinsey Award for best article. Connect with her
on Facebook or at

Bracing for Impact Ups Chances of Surviving Plane Crash, Test Crash Finds

A test crash of a Boeing 727 in the Sonoran desert to learn more about what actually happens to passengers when a plane goes down found that simply bracing for impact could help save lives.
In one of the most ambitious tests ever undertaken in the name of airline safety, Discovery TV had a Boeing 727 equipped with more than a half a million dollars worth of crash test dummies, 38 specialized cameras and sensors, and a crew of incredibly daring pilots. The pilots, who'd donned parachutes, bailed out of a hatch in the back of the aircraft minutes before the huge jetliner careered into the ground in a horrific crash that tore the plane apart.
Staged last spring as part of the Discovery Channel's "Curiosity Plane Crash," the test crash was the result of four years of planning and consultations with a huge team of experts, all to better understand what happens to passengers when an aircraft goes down.

Cindy Bir, a professor of biomedical engineering at Wayne State University, took charge of the crash test dummies, examining them immediately after the the plane hit the desert to get an idea of what injuries might have been sustained.

" I suspect … one may have a concussion, one may have a broken leg," Bir said as she looked over the dummies.

Bir told ABC News that her data made it clear that bracing for impact -- placing one's head down and putting one's hands over one's head -- could increase the odds of survival.

During the crash, which was a belly flop done nose first, passengers near the front bore the brunt of the impact. Rows one through seven held the "fatal" seats -- seat 7A was catapulted straight out of the plane. 
Many of the seat-belted dummies who weren't bent over in the bracing position incurred spinal injuries from jerking forward in their seat belts.

Bir also simulated a woman holding an infant on her lap - a familiar one-seat money-saving move many parents opt for. After a relatively minor simulated impact, the mother could no longer hold on. Bir cautioned that holding a child on one's lap was not safe.

The test crash also revealed other aspects of plane crashes, such as the tremendous amount of debris that could prove deadly to any passenger sitting upright, and how important it was to be able to get out of the plane fast. Generally, sitting within five rows of an exit gave passengers the best odds.

An MIT study that drew on worldwide safety data from 2000 to 2007 found that the chance of dying on a scheduled flight in developed nations such as the United States, Japan or Ireland was one in 14 million. In other words, a passenger who took a single flight every day could on average go 38,000 years before dying in a plane crash.

Discovery's test findings offers some tips on how to perhaps improve those odds even further.

Full Text of President Jonathan's Independence Speech

Beloved countrymen and women, on this day, fifty-two years ago, our founding fathers brought joy and hope to the hearts of our people when they won independence for our great country. Nigeria made a clean break with more than six decades of colonial rule, and emerged as a truly independent nation. That turning point was a new beginning for our nation.
Those who witnessed the lowering of the Union Jack and the emergence of the Green White Green flag continue to relish the memory, because that ceremony was not just about the destiny of a nation, but the future of a people.
That future is here; we are the inheritors of a great legacy that goes even much farther into the past.
The worthy patriots who made this possible were young men and women in their twenties and thirties. They worked together to restore dignity and honour to the Nigerian people. Their resolve united a multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse peoples, with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups.
In 1960, our diversity became a source of strength, and the new leaders resolved to carry the flag of independence for the benefit of future generations. They had their differences, but they placed a greater premium on the need to come together to build a new nation.
It is that resolve, and that glorious moment that we celebrate today. We also celebrate the patriotism of our heroes past: Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Herbert Macaulay, and several others who made the case for our independence.
We remember as always, their contributions to the making of the Nigerian nation, and the efforts of their successors since 1960. We also celebrate the unfailing optimism and resilience of Nigerians who remain proud of our national identity.
On this special day, I call on every Nigerian to remain steadfast, because our nation is indeed making progress. I call on every Nigerian to rediscover that special spirit that enables us to triumph over every adversity as a people:
We weathered the storm of the civil war, we have refused to be broken by sectarian crises; we have remained a strong nation. I bring to you today, a message of renewed hope and faith in the immense possibilities that lie ahead.
Fellow citizens, I have an unshaken belief in the future of our great Country. I consider it a priority and sacred duty to continue to strengthen the bond of unity that holds our nation together and to promote and nourish the creative energies of our people. This is a central objective of our administration’s Transformation Agenda. Nigeria, I assure you, will continue to grow from strength to strength.
Since I assumed office as President of our dear country on the 6th of May 2010, I have continued to work with our countrymen and women to enhance our nation’s growth and development.
Our vision is encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda. We are working hard and making progress on many fronts. We have cleaned up our electoral process; our elections are now globally acclaimed to be free and fair. Nigeria is now on a higher pedestal regarding elections.
Over the past five years, the global economy has been going through a weak and uncertain recovery. During the same period and particularly in the last two years, the Nigerian economy has done appreciably well despite the global financial crisis. Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 7.1 per cent on average.
It is also significant that the GDP growth has been driven largely by the non-oil sector. In pursuance of the main goals of the Transformation Agenda, a number of reforms and initiatives are being pursued in key sectors of the economy with a view to consolidating the gains of the economic growth.
Our country’s power supply situation is improving gradually. We are successfully implementing a well-integrated power sector reform programme which includes institutional arrangements to facilitate and strengthen private-sector-led power generation, transmission and distribution.
We have also put in place a cost-reflective tariff structure that reduces the cost of power for a majority of electricity consumers. I am pleased with the feedback from across the country, of improvements in power supply.
We are continuing to improve and stabilize on our crude production volumes; our 12-month gas supply emergency plan, put in place earlier this year, has produced more than the targeted volumes of gas for power generation. A robust Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has been placed before the National Assembly. Its passage into law will ensure far-reaching reforms, transparency, accountability, increased government revenue and predictability for investors in the Oil and Gas sector.
Several government programmes and projects are creating wealth and millions of job opportunities for our youth and general population. Such programmes include: You-Win, both for the youth and for the women, Public Works, the Local Content Initiative in the Oil and Gas Sector, and the Agricultural Transformation programme.
We have improved on our investment environment; more corporate bodies are investing in the Nigerian economy. Our Investment Climate Reform Programme has helped to attract over N6.8 trillion local and foreign direct investment commitments.
Nigeria has become the preferred destination for investment in Africa. It is ranked first in the top 5 host economies for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa, accounting for over 20 per cent of total FDI flows into the continent. We have streamlined bureaucratic activities at the ports to ensure greater efficiency in the handling of ports and port-related businesses. Specifically, we have drastically reduced the goods clearing period in our ports from about six weeks to about one week and under. We have an ultimate target of 48 hours.
We have put in place, a new visa policy that makes it easier for legitimate investors to receive long stay visas. We have achieved a 24-hour timeline for registration of new businesses, leading to the registration of close to 7, 000 companies within the second quarter of 2012.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has disclosed that, as at July 2012, 249 new members across the country had joined the Association, and that capacity utilization has also improved. The multiplier effect of this development on our job creation programme cannot be over-emphasized.
In the last two years, we have put in place structures for an upgrade of the country’s health sector, to promote in every respect, the individual citizen’s right to quality, affordable and accessible healthcare.
In this regard, we are devoting resources under the Subsidy Reinvestment Program (SURE-P) to reducing malaria incidents, dramatically reducing maternal and child mortality, and eradicating polio.
Fellow Nigerians, in recent times, we have witnessed serious security challenges in parts of our country. We have taken pro-active measures to check the menace. This has included constant consultation and collaboration with our neighbours and other friendly nations on issues relating to internal and cross border security, and the sharing of information on smuggling and illegal dealing in small arms and light weapons.
Our security agencies are constantly being strengthened and repositioned for greater efficiency. Many Nigerians have acknowledged that there has been a significant decline in the spate of security breaches.
While expressing our condolences to the affected families, let me reiterate the commitment of this Administration to ensure the safety of lives and property of all Nigerians.
Even as we remain focused on the issue of security, the fight against the scourge of corruption is a top priority of our Administration. We are fighting corruption in all facets of our economy, and we are succeeding. We have put an end to several decades of endemic corruption associated with fertilizer and tractor procurement and distribution. We have exposed decades of scam in the management of pensions and fuel subsidy, and ensured that the culprits are being brought to book.
In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption.
We will sustain the effort in this direction with an even stronger determination to strengthen the institutions that are statutorily entrusted with the task of ending this scourge.
I have given my commitment of non-interference in the work of the relevant agencies and I am keeping my word. What we require is the full cooperation of all tiers of government, and the public, especially civil society and the media.
This Administration has also introduced for the first time in Nigeria’s history, a Performance Contract System for all Ministers, and other officials of government. This is to further place emphasis on performance, efficiency, and service delivery.
Fellow Nigerians, our determined efforts on several fronts not-withstanding, our country still faces a number of challenges.
Those challenges should not deter us. In the last few weeks, for example, many of our communities have been ravaged by floods, resulting in the loss of lives and property, and the displacement of persons.
I want to reassure all affected Nigerians that I share in their grief, and our Administration is taking steps to address these incidents, in collaboration with the States and Local Governments.
I have received the interim Report of the Presidential team that I set up to assess the flooding situation across the country.
The Federal Government has taken measures to assist the affected States, while considering long term measures to check future reoccurrence.
We must continue to work together, confidently and faithfully, to ensure that our country’s potentials are realised to the fullest; that our dreams are translated into reality; and that our goals are achieved.
Let me reiterate that our administration is committed to the pursuit of fundamental objectives of an open society: the pursuit of freedom, security and prosperity for the Nigerian people, and the rule of law.
In the next few days, I shall lay before the National Assembly the 2013 Federal Budget Proposal so that deliberations can commence in earnest on the key policies, programmes and projects that will mark a decisive year for our development and transformation.
I have no doubt that by the time I address you on our next independence anniversary, many of our reform efforts would have yielded even better results.
Over the years, several leaders have built on the foundation laid by our Founding Fathers. The baton is now in our hands. Let me assure all Nigerians that we shall not fail.
I am confident that Nigeria will continue to be a source of pride to its citizens; to Africa and the Black Race and to humanity; a land that is known for progress, freedom, peace and the promotion of human dignity.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. May God bless you all.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Finding the bond; the leadership question

Picture they say "speaks a thousand words". So it is for the picture above.  For those who are unable to identify those captured in it, I shall do I quick clarification; the one on top is Gov. Idris Wada of Kogi State, holding a mic, by his side is probably his security detail, in a hospital to visit victims of the August 6th church attack in his state. The one below is Gov. Adams Oshiomole of Edo state on a canoe in a joint rescue effort with members of the local community that was ravaged by flood.
Several weeks ago attack on religious worshippers left a soar taste on the lips on many. It was indeed another forlorn moment for Nigerians with many asking when an end will come to these impious acts. Gov. Wada immediately swung into action by putting in place every necessary resource needed to assist victims of the attack and to also nip the perpetrators of this repugnant act. However, Nigerians were caught by surprise when Gov. Wada showed up to the hospital in armored (bulletproof) vest. This singular act made headlines, topic of discussion + controversy, while many thought it was inappropriate for the governor to show up publicly putting on an armored vest in a state he claims to be in charge of; others felt even if an attack on him was imminent, putting on an armored vest shouldn’t be glaring/obvious to the public, because it immediately sends a wrong signal.
About a week ago, photos of Gov. Adams on a rescue mission with locals emerged. Those photos were so captivating and seemed too good to be true. It was at this point I thought it to be a good idea to examine how political leaders respond to disaster within their spheres.
Drawing inferences from both cases, there are lessons for both incumbent and aspiring leaders. First, is the fact that both pictures made headlines but on different grounds. True leadership entails sharing pains with those in grief, showing empathy when it is needed. You will agree with me that one can’t exhibit any of these without first putting yourself in the shoes of the victim. I believe this is something Governor Adam understands; sincerely, it requires extra grace to really share in peoples’ pain especially when one isn’t directly affected. It’s typically a common practice for Governors or top government functionaries to visit incident scenes and just take impact analysis and probably address the victims, make promises and pledges that might never be probably fulfilled. Most intriguing about Gov Adams was his willingness to take part in a rescue operation with the locals, it doesn’t end at that, he opted to get on a canoe, what! This was the thrilling point for me; seeing something like that on Nigeria’s political landscape is so rare. The point I am driving at is that political leaders must have a way getting neatly tied to their people, it mustn’t be jumping on a canoe like Gov Adams did but ensuring that there’s a connect, which most times pays off. I thought through the whole process and I came to a conclusion that Gov. Adam is indeed an ingenious leader. Ingenious because he knew that it wasn’t just about visiting the victims and assessing the impact like an average leader but moving forward to share in their pain, risk, loss and agony. I can tell that’s no adventure, or say a campaign strut -he’s on his second term; he’s got nothing to loose- if he did send his commissioner and aides. The last time I saw something like this was in 2007, when Rochas Okorocha (Now, Gov. of Imo state) fed himself and street beggars with his own spoon on live TV.
On the other hand, it is imperative for leaders to learn to discern, connect and re-adjust to the will of the people. Taking a clue from the picture of Gov. Wada and the recently N5000 note battle between Nigerians and the CBN governor. It’s clear that there’s need for leaders to understand that things that seem lawful, might necessarily not be expedient. For humanity sakes, what’s the governor doing with a Public address system in a hospital ward. Yes! It’s a good thing the governor is around but noise making wouldn’t revive the lost souls or even heal the wounds of the victims. These little things may look trivial but they count. Conversely, the recent controversy regarding the #5000 note which was laid to rest by the President was also an issue of simply feeling the pulse of the masses. Indeed it was a grandiose and remarkable policy but that wasn’t people-centered.
In conclusion, leadership for me isn’t the ability to churn out great polices and follow through execution of these policies but the ability to know WHEN and HOW to impact your people for good.