How did we become a people existing under a culture of mediocrity evidenced by the absence of professionalism and excellence in every sphere of life? Whenever the Nigerian standard is mentioned on the international scene in relation to healthcare delivery, provision of education and/or service delivery in the power, energy, aviation or the business sectors, global actors boo! The choking atmosphere of ‘anything goes’ in our society is enough to stultify anybody’s attempt to excel in either the private or business arena! I sometimes wonder at how creativity can thrive in such a milieu.
Every sector is bombarded with various kinds and levels of declining standards.
On the healthcare delivery scene, unscrupulous persons import fake or substandard drugs with little or no regards to the consequences of such an act. The My Pikin saga is a case in point. There are the additional problems of quacks or unqualified medical personnel masquerading as genuine and certified medical personnel and the issues of inadequate medical facilities or medical equipment. On the educational front, there is the repeated criticism that the universities are churning out half-baked graduates. It must be pointed out that the blame is not to lie with the students alone for turning out half-baked. The bakers (lecturers and workers within the system) and government should share in the blame. Half-baked products flow from a malfunctioning system! Someone has noted that whatever happens at the base trickles from the top. All participants in the educational system are guilty!
In the business arena, the ‘anything goes syndrome’ is very glaring as so many businesses cut corners and sacrifice professionalism on the altar of profits! The ‘make you jus manage am’ is a child of this system! The moral aspect of our societal lives is fast under attack from the importation of western values and so called civilization. Nudity is fast becoming a fashion statement of both the young and old, married and single. Sometimes the quick adoption of negative western values stems from a pathetic sense of intense inferiority complex! With regards to the gradual erosion of traditional values of respect, hard work, chastity…, hmmm! That is another matter for another day!
Leadership at all levels is no longer inspiring except for a very minute group of Nigerian individuals who have taken a stand for excellence, creativity and ingenuity and righteousness (not necessarily in that order). The absence of leadership at every plane has deeply eroded public confidence. There is the sad acceptance in the notions of ‘Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop’ and ‘govment work, e no be my papa work’ which has equally waned the desire to work hard in any area of business endeavor and caused workers in the system to treat such business endeavour with the utmost disdain! This is really sad!
Pardon me for not mentioning earlier that despite the catalogue of woes highlighted above, we Nigerians have recorded specific success in certain areas of our lives. Instances of these include Arts, Music, Sports, humorous capabilities and strong family ties which is characteristic of our traditional life. However, a philosopher of Greek descent has noted that we are what we repeatedly do; excellence is not an act but a habit. There is great room for improvement.
All the sectors mentioned above are run and managed by human beings not robots. Therefore this means that if every person should decide to raise the bar for excellence in his own circle of influence, the Nigerian standard will become more effective and efficient and will translate to a general increase in positive terms and spell a better positive national image on the global scene of service delivery. This is because the Nigerian standard is a collection of all our individual standards.
Can we as a people change our attitudes and step up the Naija standard? My response is YES, WE CAN!