Incompetent according to the 3rd edition of Oxford dictionary of current English is defined as not being skillful enough to deliver successfully. Thus, incompetence is the failure to deliver on agreed terms. It is the failure to meet expected standards. Incompetence is not synonymous with capacity deficiency; it is the inability to fully utilize capacity. It is a consistent diminishing value addition and a persistent less than satisfactory output. The worst tragedy that can befall an organization is to be peopled by incompetent personnel because the quality of the workforce is the primary determinant of the fate of an organization. The competence or otherwise of a workforce will tell on the output of the organization, its income generation as well as its public perception. Incompetent personnel cannot operate at full throttle. Incompetent people cannot give their best. Consequently, in a competitive industry, organizations where incompetence is pervasive will struggle to catch up with the rest. The best such organization can be is a laggard. While it is traumatic to have an incompetent workforce, it is catastrophic to have an incompetent leader. While a competent leader who is saddled with incompetent personnel knows what to do to get out of the rut, an incompetent leader is permanently at sea. He cannot show others the way because he is lost himself. He is like a blind person who cannot help other blind people find their way.
Looking at Nigerian political scenario where leadership and corruption has been noted as the cause of underdevelopment, one cannot just but tag it to incompetence. Members of the political class, who comprise power-brokers and those governing, represent the soul of any country as they are the building blocks of leadership recruitment. By virtue of their calling, politicians are expected to show leadership and live up to their promises. They are also obligated to uphold and promote fundamental national values concerning political, economic and social imperatives. Part of these imperatives are representative democracy, good governance, popular participation, political stability, national unity, peaceful coexistence, law-abiding and dutiful citizenry, constitutionalism, due process, the rule of law, separation of powers, respect of basic human rights, social justice, sense of inclusion, equal opportunities, thriving economy, sustainable development, human welfare and international respectability.
Being a crucial factor in the realisation of the Manifest Destiny of any national society, it is expected that members of our political class would be vibrant, dynamic and visionary, as well as have the passion to change things for the better in Nigeria. But the reverse has been the case. In a report filled in Punch Newspaper recently, the Nigeria Labour Congress observed that the democratic dispensation has served only the interest of the political class and not the average Nigerian. The congress stated that 19 years of democracy in the country had offered very sparse rewards for the Nigerian people, noting that the government had failed to allocate resources on the basis of equity, justice and sustained national development and cohesion. This was contained in a statement in Abuja by the President of the Congress, Ayuba Wabba, entitled, “19 years of democracy: time to ask questions”
The NLC said it was unfortunate that those elected to serve as democratic leaders had not only turned around to serve themselves, “but continue to exploit every given opportunity to turn Nigerians into paupers in their own land.”
Furthermore, the recent published experiment on the Punch Newspaper titled “Minimizing the cookie monsters in the Nigerian political class” scored lots of valid points against the political class in Nigeria. The experiment explained that, the Cookie Monster Experiment was devised to test the hypothesis that power makes people stupid and insensitive or disinhibited. Using the CME, researchers from the University of Berkeley, California, found that getting power causes people to keenly focus on the potential reward. The researchers took groups of three volunteers and randomly put one of them in charge. Each trio had a half-hour to work through a boring social survey. Then, a researcher came in and left a plateful of precisely five cookies. The volunteer who had randomly been assigned the power role typically grabbed an extra cookie.
The keen focus on potential rewards of getting power, like money, sex, public acclaim or an extra cookie made them oblivious to the people around them. In Nigeria, those who get or capture political power do not even need to focus on the potential rewards as it is usually served to them on a silver platter. In other words, political power holders in Nigeria get to eat all the cookies without even allowing Nigerians much as a nibble. Nigeria remains one of the few countries in the world where revenues from natural resources are shared monthly among the three tiers of government.
For those who desire quick and obscene wealth, the legitimate and quickest means of achieving this is to get or capture political power. Stringent requirements are put in place for those seeking corporate power, especially where huge funds are involved like in banking and insurance.
Not so for those who will be handing billions of naira after getting political power as they are only required to possess secondary school leaving certificates. There is hardly any who does not know of someone who yesterday was as poor as a church rat, but who was instantly transformed on getting political power.
There is much evil in the present system of allocating revenue to artificial entities, which are a creation and legacy of our “khaki” brothers. This evil is exacerbated by the fact that there is none, and has never been any, Nigerian who physically resides in a state or local government.
Nigerians reside in communities, most of them older than the states and local governments in which they have been lumped or as it were dumped. That evil has to be confronted at some point, and answers found to questions on how best to channel resources and development to Nigerians.
The big question is how to do all that while not becoming oblivious of Nigerians and the issues that have confronted them for generations? How do our political office holders remember in the midst of grabbing all the cookies, that Nigerians who reside in communities also need attention?
It has been said that Africa’s greatest challenge is not corruption, as bad as that is, but incompetence. It is incompetence that has been responsible for the high level of poverty on the continent. Nigeria has a humongous deposit of petrol, yet the country imports refined petroleum products. Nigeria has a huge gas deposit, yet this is flared while Nigerians have to depend on generators for electricity. Nigeria has the second largest bitumen deposit in the world, yet Nigerian roads remain among the worst in the world. Some of the world’s longest rivers are in Africa, some of the world’s largest lakes are in Africa, the continent is also home to some of the most fertile soils in the world, yet Africa is the global poster boy for hunger. Africa is rich in gold, diamond, copper, bauxite, uranium, oil and gas, yet it never fails to win the prize as the continent with the world’s poorest people. Contrasted with Singapore, a country so deprived of natural endowments that it has to import water from one of its neighbours, Africa is a proof that incompetence is a disaster.