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Learning from Rotary

Published by The Nation on Tue, 25 Feb 2020


By Gabriel AmaluEach time, yours sincerely attend the District Team Training Seminar (DTTS), the annual training programme for District Rotary leaders, I get the feeling that Nigerian leaders need to attend similar training, to learn one or two management techniques. With the challenges bedevilling our country, the federal executive sometimes give the impression they are not on top of their game.So, could it be that appropriate trainings are not organised for those in charge of our lives, or is that the trainees are not putting to practice what they are taught' Apart from the security crises that is almost overwhelming our nation, there are failures in several other sectors. In the past few weeks, some users of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, have been exposed to excruciating punishment.Because of the absence of planning by the aviation sector managers, the necessary landing equipment at the airport are not in place, even when huge resources were reportedly budgeted for them. The consequences have been that some MMA bound airlines were diverted to neighbouring countries, and in some cases returned to base. Of course, the cost and logistical nightmare for the passengers are better imagined.Yet, a basic training programme would have provided the managers, the requisite skills to avoid the present crisis. For instance, a trainee under the DTTS can teach them that as the management, they ought to have a set of goals for each airport in the country (long and short-term); and that to efficiently set a goal, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, (otherwise known as SWOT analysis) that face each airport needs to be evaluated.A proper SWOT analysis, would have identified the present challenges faced by the MMA in advance, and a strategic plan put in place to avert the crisis. At DTTS, trainees are taught that leaders have to set down goals to align with the strategic plan. Such goals have to be shared, measurable, challenging, achievable, and time specific. The MMA management should have known the equipment that needed to be changed, the cost implication, when it should be imported, and when to initiate the process to meet the timeline.The trainee would teach them to set an action plan to achieve the goal. Who was supposed to do what to get in the equipment, starting with identifying the necessary equipment and the manufacturers, sending in the budget plan for executive and legislative approvals, making the order and initiating the payment, and putting in place the logistics plans up to the installation. Of course, the top management ought to monitor and evaluate progress of the action plan, and have contingency plans for any delays.If all these were done, those responsible for the failures at the MMA that has thoroughly embarrassed our country and caused untold hardship to travellers in the last few weeks ought to be held to account. It should be unacceptable to President Muhammadu Buharis government that the nations preeminent international gateway can be treated with such levity, by those in charge without any consequences. No doubt, many view the failures at the MMA as a signpost of what is obtainable in several other ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government.Another agency of the federal government that may need the type of training available at DTTS are those in charge of information management. Clearly, the recent outburst of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, debunking the fake news about the travel plans of the president, and reiterating the determination of the federal government to pass the social media regulation bill, is ill-timed. As the liaison between the federal government and the public, the honourable minister should concentrate on more important communications.For instance, Nigerians would be more interested to hear from the minister what the federal government is doing about the insecurity in the land. The people travelling through the MMA would want to hear apologies and explanations about the travelling crisis foisted on them and what the federal government is doing to avert such problem in future. Nigerians would want to hear the government policy on community policing and why it has taken so long and so many avoidable deaths to wake up the federal government on this project.Indeed, those in charge of the community policing project should avail themselves of a leadership training seminar, like the DTTS. Of note, the project has been in the offing far too long without any progress, unless the federal government is not genuinely interested in the project. Even with the prompting from the southeast governors, as an alternative to the regional policing model, there is no clear definition of the concept. Yet, a SWOT analysis would show that the present policing architecture cannot sustain security in our country.So, what is happening to strategic planning, as a tool of management, at the federal and state levels' At inception, the Buhari-led All Progressive Congress (APC) held out so much promise when it came to power nearly five years ago. Many of the promises have not been meet, a fact which even the president has acknowledged. Perhaps, it is not late to commission a SWOT analysis of the top management of the various ministries, departments, and agencies of government.That would help the president and his men provide answers to the myriad of problems that are weighing our country down. One critical issue that requires an urgent SWOT analysis is whether to sack or retain the security chiefs. Even a critical evaluation of the goals set for them and how much of it they have achieved, could help the president appropriately make up his mind on whether or not they should be retained. Without a proper analysis, a wrong decision may be made.This column has severally argued that the Rotary type of orderly transition is worthy of emulation; just as well, the training programmes organised for its cadre of leaders. The recent DTTS organized by the next District Governor of District 9110 Nigeria, Rotarian Bola Oyebade, who would be in charge from July 1 to June 30, 2021, is to prepare the district leaders for the challenges ahead. A sizeable number of the trainees were similarly trained last year, before the present District Governor Jide Akeredolu, took over.Some, will still be trained again next year, when the District Governor Nominee for 2021/22, Remi Bello, would be in charge, and even more training in 2022/23, when District Governor Nominee Designate, Omotunde Lawson, would mount the saddle as the first female District Governor, for D9110 Nigeria. Such is the order in Rotary, and such is the continuous training for Rotary leaders that our bleeding nation can learn from.
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