There is no moral justification any where why salaries should not be paid
Quote me anywhere and listen to what has been said.
~Opia-Enwemuche Maxwell Onyemaechi
Within the past few days, I have taken it upon myself to reflect on the plight of workers across the federation called Nigeria with tales of woes of unpaid salaries. So many pictures flashed through my mind as I thought about this harsh reality that has been meted out on innocent citizens of this country. What are their crimes to deserve such a hideous and barbaric treatment remains unanswered even till date. However, I have come to realize that mismanagement of funds earmarked for such purpose coupled with bad leadership is their albatross. Suffice to say here that any leader who decides to owe workers while he goes home with his or her checkoff is not only wicked, callous and hypocritical but in human to say the least. More so, the insensitivity of these acclaimed leaders who campaigned before these same workers with juicy democratic dividends is something to talk about as they waved their flags with the song CHANGE renting the air.
What is the Cause?
Common sense is often not common when it comes to common application. Salary payment is common, but common sense has travelled in this regard. Pepper is used to spicing local delicacies in this part of the world, but when an individual decides to use it as cream, such individual is said to have travelled to the world of insanity. When the purpose is not defined as it pertains to events or use of resources, abuse is inevitable. Corruption sets in when there is a huge compromise in the threefold of governance, the executive, the legislators, and the judiciary.
Permit me to take a cursory look at the causes of non-payment of salaries in states and what should be done to avert future occurrence while looking at it with what I have decided to call the PASS analysis which proffers solution for corrective reoccurrence while the cause is the FAIL analysis.
F-AILURE TO ARTICULATE A GOOD VISION (Lack of Vision)
There was an interview I attended long time ago in Lagos State. After preparing for the interview, I set out to the venue where I thought I would be called upon and asked some questions like is often the case. To my greatest amazement, we were given a sheet of paper to write out our goals in the next five to ten years. The question came from the blues, but because I was prepared for something similar to that, I was able to write excellent goals that are realizable and achievable. Most of our leaders who are elected into positions of authority by the power of the thumb or even through political appointment lack lustre for the office. Most of them except a handful does not know what they intend to do there. There’s no vision for such office and in the long run, there’s no result to show for it. Even the holy book assuage that where there’s no vision, the people perish. A good account can be seen in non-payment of salaries which is now pandemic in a country where leaders are democratically elected. There’s no better way to describe this leadership quagmire other than to conclude that these self-acclaimed leaders lack vision and the moral rectitude to lead as nobody can give what he or she does not have. If your stock in trade is mediocrity, you will definitely leave a trail of mediocrity wherever you find yourself whereas if you represent excellence, you become a pathfinder and a trailblazer in governance and delivering on campaign promises. That’s true service and this is what leaders are called to do in this political milieu. Unfortunately, we lack leaders who show these traits of quality representation and effective leadership.
A-IMLESS FOCUS ON POLICY IMPLEMENTATION (Lack of Focus)
Sir Isaac Newton once said that the fact that he saw farther than his colleagues or contemporaries is because he stood on the shoulders of giants. That’s to say he had focus and learned from those giants. These giants may not be physically present as at the time he was born. He may have read about them one way or the other and this helped to sharpen his focus and propelled him into achieving a lot in the field of invention. Bringing it home, how many of our leaders even read about past and successful leaders and what they achieved during their lifetime in governance at various stages? A handful and the effect can be seen in various states. A ripple effect of under development and mismanagements of various resources both human and capital are commonplace. No wonder a renowned man of God once said that leaders are readers. If you lack ideas on what to do, the focus will reject you whenever you seek her.
I-NTEGRITY IS ANGELIC IN GOVERNANCE (Lack of Integrity)
A politician once told me that the primary purpose of leadership through the power of the thumb is absolute service. Suffice to say here that accountability becomes a watchword even though it is not a common vocabulary in politics. However, this is more theoretical than practical. Campaign promises are sung into the air like Nigerian Hip Hop music as they canvass for votes from the helpless citizens who are unaware of their true colour until they get the need political offices they so desire. Integrity becomes angelic in governance as none of them lives up to their campaign promises. It beats my imagination to see politicians quantifying integrity. It is either it is 100% or nothing.
Corruption sets in and monies earmarked for the constituent, state or even federal projects are embezzled with a local saying that daily bread will come from where you earn a living. There have been counter definitions on corruption to suit the purpose or act committed by individuals who see nothing wrong in the act of marauding of resources meant for the development of the lots of the community for personal pockets. You often see government officials elected or appointed to an office of authority buying expensive properties within and outside the country in a way to launder money. This is not governance neither is it a characteristic of a true leader. The word nitty-gritty sounds like integrity. However, if you lack integrity you cannot deal with the nitty-gritty of governance no matter how small you perceive it.
Note, integrity may be seen as angelic in governance, it is your duty as the chief servant of the state or wherever you find yourself in the leadership rung to demystify it and sing a new song of governance with a high level of integrity and proper representation. If Thomas Sankara, a military head of state could rename Upper Volta as Burkina Faso (The land of the Upright man) and helped her come out from foreign debt before he was assassinated, any level-headed leader can do something special no matter how small it is. If every leader elected into a position of authority can do his or her part towards quality and purposeful representation, the country will be a better place as workers smile all the way.
L-OW STANDARD IS A NORM (Lack of Exceptional Political Standard)
When a little child is raised in a foreign culture other than the culture of his fatherland, he or she takes any available act as a norm. Permit me to state here that failure is not a standard anywhere except in the world, but political failure is often celebrated in various quarters by the same people whose relatives are victims of political misrule. When high standards are perceived as a strange occurrence, but mediocrity is highly celebrated, you will have no option but infer that the leaders are not ready to change. This is the case in our political arena right now. Low political standards have been widely accepted as a norm in many political quarters that the leaders see themselves not as call to service, but call to enrich their personal pockets to detriment of the general populace.
You often hear all manner of a news flash as regards arrears being owed workers in over ten states and the manner in which these chief servants are taking it. It goes to tell you that these leaders were not even prepared for an enormous task as this. A child who is going to swim in the river must first of all prepare himself before getting to the river banks otherwise; he will be swept away by the river in a twinkle.
A standard at every point in time is good in order to have the yardstick to measure political office holders. Opinion polls should be conducted, an invitation to live programs where the masses can call in to express their views and ask relevant questions and other avenues to actually appraise the leader whether he or she is doing well in terms of quality representation. This is accountability laden with transparency in governance.
If this processes embedded in FAIL are avoided while replacing it with the PASS analysis, then the led should smile whenever the leader acts. The leader will always act on time and for a purpose in the interest of all.
HOW TO EXORCISE THIS PERCEIVED SALARY CURSE
There’s a saying that goes thus he who fails to plan, plans to fail. This is a statement that will outlive a thousand lifetimes. Nature obviously abhors a vacuum. If the right thing is not been done at a particular point in time, it means another thing which of course is the wrong thing is being sweated for. Permit me to say this bitter truth that states that owe salaries failed to plan with the resources given to them. Hence, they resort to excuses and counter excuses that hold no water in this regard. However, to address the cause of this pandemic that has eaten deep into the fabric of the country that it is now perceived as a curse, I will examine what the leaders should do in order not to find themselves in this quagmire using the PASS analysis.
P-LANNING ON SHORT AND LONG-TERM PROJECTS
It was Abraham Lincoln who said Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. That’s planning on what to do before eventualities. Planning can never be ruled out if the best is to be achieved from any project. Salaries can be termed short-term or recurring expenses while gratuities and pensions can be termed long-term hence proper planning is needed before execution. If this is truly considered in the best interest of all, there will be no disappointment from any quarters nor would there be any form of failed promises resulting to a backlog of arrears.
A-SSESSING PLANS ON WHAT TO EXECUTE
After planning comes the assessment of the plans if there are timely, realistic and keenly achievable. What has past administration done in this regard? Is it a similar experience? What were their challenges? Did they pull through? What were the lessons learned? When all these mind tasking questions are asked, the one with the plan(s) would definitely know what is important and necessary in the short and long-term period.
S-TRATEGIZE ON THE PROCESS OF EXECUTION
Having brainstormed on the plan(s) as per what to tackle headlong and what to deal with for a period of time. For instance, flyovers within a city are not projects you embark on with the intention to finish it with state workers money thereby putting a pause on payment of salaries. Even life is a process and nobody lives his life in one sweep.
Considering the amount of allocation within control, a leader who strategizes with a good team on the process of execution will never meet a brick wall when it comes to allotment of resources. A strategy is a very vital tool for any government that wants to be successful with governance. This obviously translates to quality governance and effective leadership style.
S-TRIKE ON TIME TO ACHIEVE THE DESIRED RESULT
Just as every plan has a timeline; results are achieved when things are done timely without delay. Having strategized, the next thing to do is to mobilize for action there by monitoring to ensure a result. Remember once there’s a bridge in the process, the leader at the helm of affairs takes the full blame before it trickles down. Bad roads, non-payment of salaries, gratuities and pension, poor health care and so on will first be blamed on the government before looking on the person with the direct responsibility.
Always remember to strike when the iron is hot and in this context when you intend to achieve the result. This is possible with the place of proper planning and strategy to execute.
Having exhausted the various options before us while weighing the FAIL and PASS analysis, you can agree with me that owing of salaries is not a curse but there is a cause which is tied to bad leadership and gross mismanagement of public funds. The cure to this is tied to our thumb, freedom of speech and the ability for proper representation to avoid any form of disenfranchisement at any point in time.
Opia-Enwemuche Maxwell Onyemaechi writes from Umuahia