By Simeon Mpamugoh
Professor Munzali Jibril, is the current president, Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered). An emeritus professor of Bayero University, Kano and a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Jibril is the 20th President and Chairman of Council of the Institute.
In this Internet chat with Daily Sun, Prof. Jibril, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Master of Arts (M.A.) from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom and a doctorate degree (PhD) from the University of Lancaster, United Kingdom said, “Ironically, when our resources were limited during the first Republic, we harnessed and utilised them better than when we discovered oil and had more resources.”
The former Coordinator, Police Academy, Wudil, Kano State who has had over 40 years of professional and managerial experiences noted that the availability of seemingly endless oil money encouraged both laziness and corruption, and the consequence was that we have not applied the income from this God-given resource to develop our infrastructure and human capital in a way that would have sustained us long after oil would have been exhausted or rendered irrelevant by new energy sources.
He speaks more on how to change the face of human resource management in Nigeria, which has seen our technocrats traveling abroad for greener pastures and other issues.
How to minimise brain drain
Professionals migrate to other lands for a variety of reasons. Most of them do so because the salary here is inadequate in relation to their needs and in comparison, with what is paid for the same job elsewhere. Only the top jobs in Nigeria (such as Chief Executives of Government Parastatals) offer a competitive salary package and that is why the competition to access them is often fierce and desperate. But things have not always been like this. I remember that as a young primary school teacher in 1971, I was earning £22 per month but I could save at least half of it after meeting my basic needs. However, with the crash in the value of the national currency, which began in the mid 1980’s and reached its climax around March this year when the Naira exchanged at the rate of 500 to the dollar, most Nigerian salaries have become meaningless. We therefore need to rescue our national currency through higher productivity and import control. We also need to improve working conditions as many who leave for jobs abroad do so because they do not have adequate working tools or environment to achieve job satisfaction.
Assessments of today’s crop of managers considering high failure rate in banks, industries (MDAs).
Today’s crops of managers are highly skilled and very smart, and most of them also possess ICT skills, which is more than you can say for the old guard. However, many younger people are also in a hurry to become super rich and this may lead them to employ short cuts, which may be fraudulent. But, in my view, they are not responsible for the high failure rate in the public and private sector institutions because they are not the top managers of these institutions. Ultimately, it is the top management teams in these institutions who through acts of commission and omission facilitate the collapse of these institutions.
How well has institute done in standard setting?
To become a member of the Institute today you must attend courses and pass prescribed examinations. To move from one grade of membership to the next you also must attend courses and pass prescribed examinations. This is very different from what used to happen say, twenty years ago before we obtained our Charter. At that time, you only needed to apply for membership with your educational certificates and you would be granted admission as a member. Thus, we are continuously raising the standard in keeping with the demands of the knowledge economy.
Why corruption remains pervasive
Regrettably, although NIM has been around for the last 56 years, it has only about 200,000 members about half of whom are Graduate Members who are still undergoing training to become full members and who are mostly still unemployed after completing their national service. Of the remaining 100,000 some are retirees so we have only about 70,000 active members in an economy that employs millions. It is therefore grossly unfair to blame so few for the sins of so many.
Assessing President Buhari fight against corruption
I believe that the Buhari -led Government has correctly identified corruption as the most important national malaise that must be eliminated or minimized if we must make progress as a nation. I also believe that the President and his Deputy are clean and sincere about fighting corruption. However, I also believe that unless the fight against corruption is better coordinated and more systematically managed, the Government would only end up inconveniencing corruption and its perpetrators for a relatively short period of time after which they will re-group, re-strategize and fight back ferociously. We need to sensitize the citizenry to collectively help in fighting corruption. We need to purge the law enforcement agencies of corrupt people, review their salaries and other benefits upwards and generally motivate and monitor them better; we need to purge the judiciary of its most corrupt elements and we need to deploy our surveillance infrastructure better to be able to prevent and detect corruption more efficiently. In summary, we need to make corruption unacceptable in Nigeria as it is in other lands. Here you see it walking arrogantly in the streets and daring anyone to challenge it. That must stop and stop for good.
Government’s relationship with professionals and consultation on national issues
The current Government has a forum, the Quarterly Business Roundtable, where it consults professional bodies and the Organized Private Sector (OPS) on a wide range of policy issues which affect the economy. The Vice-President chairs the Forum and NIM is a member. To this extent I can say that the Government does consult with relevant professional bodies regularly.
What do you think is wrong with our budget implementations?
Budget implementation is a problem in Nigeria. We seem to have made it into a ritual and an endless cycle, which produces no tangible impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians. There are too many entrenched interests in the bureaucracy and among some sections of the political class +which are determined to continue to exploit the budgetary process for their selfish ends instead of using it to deliver development. We need a major shake up of the system to get budgets to do what they are supposed to do: deliver development to the people on an incremental basis with visible differences between one year and the next
Is devaluation way out of naira’s tottering showing?
The Naira has already been over-devalued. In my view, fixing the value of the Naira based on supply and demand will never reflect the true value of our national currency. There is something that economists call purchasing power parity, which roughly means what each unit of your currency can buy in Nigeria compared to the cost of a similar item in the foreign currency abroad. For example, a crate of 30 eggs costs N800 in Nigeria, which is only $2.22 but the same number of eggs in the USA will cost you $18.3, which is N6, 597. Based on this, the Naira is under-valued by a factor of 8.2. The true value of the Naira is therefore about N43 to the dollar. However, because the demand for dollars in the Nigerian economy is a distorted one because of several factors, principally the import dependent nature of our economy and our elite’s desire for the consumption of foreign goods and services, Government cannot sustain the value of the Naira at N43 to the dollar without carrying out some draconian measures to discourage frivolous demand for the dollar. I believe that this is doable as part of a patriotic reform package for the economy and polity.
Permanent solution to Nigeria’s economic challenges
No not another talkshop. We’ve done enough talking. It’s time for action! We need to achieve a national consensus on the way forward for the economy. The National Assembly has an important role to play here in showing the way forward. We must protect and promote our local industries, we must consume only what we produce, we must exploit our comparative advantages by exporting goods and services at competitive prices throughout the world. That way, we ‘ll re-build our national currency and create a strong and self-reliant economy in line with the vision of the Development Plans of the 1970’s.
Importance of human capital to economic growth and governance
Human capital is the most important single factor for economic development. Look at the example of Japan, the third largest economy in the world and yet the Japanese have no raw material or any significant natural resource to export (except sushi!0 and yet by fully exploiting their highly developed human capital, they ‘re where they are now. Conversely, there are some countries in the Gulf Region, which have huge natural resources but poorly developed human capital. Their economies are way behind that of Japan because they have to import millions of skilled workers to make up for the shortfall in human capital. History has not shown us any country that developed with foreign human capital. Considering where we were at independence in 1960, we have made tremendous progress in developing our human capital because we now seem to be self-sufficient in most areas of human endeavours.
However, we are still not producing skilled workers in sufficient numbers and of sufficient quality to become globally competitive. We need to have at least 40% of our young people who are in the age range of 18-25 years in tertiary institutions and we need to raise the quality of the programmes offered by these institutions.
At the present time, less than 15% of our 18-25 year olds are in tertiary institutions and the quality is known to be generally low. Therefore, this has huge implications for the level of expansion required and the quantum of resources needed to achieve it.
What do you think about Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, which seems to be in line with NIM shared value of accountability?
TSA is a good tool for controlling expenditure in the public sector. It also enables the authorities to monitor, and if need be, block any unauthorized expenditure. However, I think Government itself has recognized the need for some flexibility in the operation of the TSA as it affects the universities. I believe exceptions have been granted to the universities to use commercial banks for donor-assisted research projects, as the accountability requirements of some donor agencies cannot be met through the TSA.
What is your impression about call for 10 years tax holiday for new companies in Nigeria, which has remained at 5 years considering the fact that some companies feel it is not enough to manage their way to profit?
I believe that 5 years tax holiday is sufficient for new companies. I would not advocate its extension to ten years under any circumstance.
How would you score current government’s ease of doing business reforms?
I’d say that the Government, under the able direction of the Vice-President, has done very well in the area of improving our ease of doing business. The evidence is there to see in our rapid movement upwards in the international indices on the ease of doing business. The executive orders issued by the Vice-President when he was Acting President have made a huge difference in our business climate and the Government is continuing to do more. This is highly commendable.