WORDS ON MARBLE: ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT-ELECT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, APRIL 01, 2015

I am immensely grateful to God for this day and for this hour. I feel truly honoured and humbled that the Nigerian people have so clearly chosen me to lead them. The official announcement from INEC was the moment the vast majority of Nigerians had hoped and been waiting for. Today, history has been made, and change has finally come. Your votes have changed our national destiny for the good of all Nigerians .

INEC has announced that I, Muhammadu Buhari, shall be your next president. My team and I shall faithfully serve you. There shall no longer be a ruling party again: APC will be your governing party. We shall faithfully serve you. We shall never rule over the people as if they were subservient to government.

Our long night has passed and the daylight of new democratic governance has broken across the land. This therefore is not a victory for one man or even one party. It is a victory for Nigeria and for all Nigerians. Millions of you have worked for this day. So many have risked life and livelihood; and others have died that we may witness this moment.

And it is with a very heavy heart that I report many deaths and injuries amidst the jubilations yesterday. We send our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives; and wish speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries. I appeal to all our supporters to celebrate this victory with prayers and reflection instead of wild jubilation.

May the souls of those who died rest in peace. Let us take a moment of silence to honour all of those whose sacrifices have brought us to this fine and historic hour. As the results of the election have shown, their labour has not been and will never be in vain. Democracy and the rule of law will be re-established in the land.

Let us put the past, especially the recent past, behind us. We must forget our old battles and past grievances—and learn to forge ahead. I assure you that our government is one that will listen to and embrace all.

I pledge myself and our in-coming administration to just and principled governance. There shall be no bias against or favouritism for any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion, region, gender or social status. I pledge myself and the government to the rule of law, in which none shall be so above the law that they are not subject to its dictates, and none shall be so below it that they are not availed of its protection.

You shall be able to go to bed knowing that you are safe and that your constitutional rights remain in safe hands. You shall be able to voice your opinion without fear of reprisal or victimisation. My love and concern for this nation and what I desire for it extends to all, even to those who do not like us or our politics. You are all my people and I shall treat everyone of you as my own. I shall work for those who voted for me as well as those who voted against me and even for those who did not vote at all. We all live under one name as one nation: we are all Nigerians.

Some unfortunate issues about my eligibility have been raised during the campaign. I wish to state that through devotion to this nation, everything I have learned and done has been to enable me to make the best possible contribution to public life. If I had judged myself incapable of governing I would never have sought to impose myself on it. I have served in various capacities and have always put in my best.

But despite the rancour of the elections, I extend a hand of friendship and conciliation to President Jonathan and his team. I hereby wish to state that I harbour no ill will against anyone.

Let me state clearly that President Jonathan has nothing to fear from me. Although we may not agree on the methods of governing the nation, he is a great Nigerian and still our president. He deserves our support and permanent respect by virtue of the office he has held.

This is how an honourable nation treats its servants and conducts its affairs; and this is how Nigeria should be.

I look forward to meeting with President Jonathan in the days to come to discuss how our teams can make the transition of administrations as efficient as possible.

Here, I want to thank my party for selecting me as its candidate. I thank our party leaders and members for the steadfast contributions they made to bring our dream to fruition. I thank INEC, the police and all other government agencies for performing their tasks in a proper manner and for refusing to be induced to undermine the election and the democratic process.

I also wish to thank religious Leaders, traditional leaders, the media, labour unions, Civil Society organisations, organised private sector, youths and students for their roles in this election.

I give special thanks to President Obama and his timely intervention and support for peaceful and credible elections in Nigeria and for sending Secretary John Kerry and other United States officials. The European Union – especially the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other nations that were actively involved in ensuring the success of this election are equally appreciated. My sincere thanks to the United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban-Ki Moon. The Commonwealth, China, India and other Asian and Gulf states are also hereby appreciated.

Finally our brothers in the African Union and ECOWAS have truly and clearly shown and demonstrate their commitment to our democratisation process. Former Presidents John Kuffour, Amos Sawyer, Bakili Muluzi and his team are well appreciated. I must also add my appreciation for the role played by civil societies, national and International observers, other world leaders in ensuring that Nigeria holds free and fair elections.

I assure all foreign governments that Nigeria will become a more forceful and constructive player in the global fight against terrorism and in other matters of collective concern, such as the fight against drugs, climate change, financial fraud, communicable diseases and other issues requiring global response. I want to assure our fellow African nations that Nigeria will now stand as a more constructive
partner in advancing the matters of concern to our continent, particularly with regard to economic development and eradication of poverty.

Former head of state and president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Yakubu Gowon, Alh. Shehu Shagari, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Ernest Shonekan and General Abdulsalami Abubakar deserve commendations for their statesmanship and words of caution and counsel for peace during the tense moments of this electoral period.

Most of all, I thank the people of Nigeria for reposing their confidence in me at this trying moment. Our nation wrestles many challenges including insecurity, corruption, economic decline. I pledge to give you my best in tackling these problems.

The good people of Nigeria, your obligation does not end with casting your ballot. I seek your voice and input as we tackle these problems.

This will not be a government democratic only in form. It will be a government democratic in substance and in how it interacts with its own people.

No doubt, this nation has suffered greatly in the recent past, and its staying power has been tested to its limits by crises, chief among which is insurgency of the Boko Haram. There is no doubt that in tackling the insurgency we have a tough and urgent job to do. But I assure you that Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas. We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.

Furthermore, we shall strongly battle another form of evil that is even worse than terrorism—the evil of corruption. Corruption attacks and seeks to destroy our national institutions and character. By misdirecting into selfish hands funds intended for the public purpose, corruption distorts the economy and worsens income inequality. It creates a class of unjustly-enriched people.

Such an illegal yet powerful force soon comes to undermine democracy because its conspirators have amassed so much money that they believe they can buy government. We shall end this threat to our economic development and democratic survival. I repeat that corruption will not be tolerated by this administration; and it shall no longer be allowed to stand as if it is a respected monument in this
nation.

I ask you to join me in resolving these and the other challenges we face. Along the way, there will be victories but there may also be setbacks. Mistakes will be made. But we shall never take you for granted; so, be rest assured that our errors will be those of compassion and commitment not of wilful neglect and indifference.

We shall correct that which does not work and improve that which does. We shall not stop, stand or idle. We shall, if necessary crawl, walk and run to do the job you have elected us to do.

I realise that the expectation of our people today is as high as their commitment to change has been strong and their belief in us unshaken. While we pledge to begin doing our best without delay, we would like to appeal to them to appreciate the gravity of our situation, so that we become more realistic in our expectations.

We will govern for you and in your interests. Your vote was not wasted.

This is not the first time Nigerians have cast their votes for us, and this is not the first time they have been counted; but this is the first time that the votes have been allowed to count. With the help of God, we pledge to do our utmost to bring forth the Nigeria you seek.

Thank you for your patience and attention.

GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR
PRESIDENT-ELECT
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

Advertisements

AS #NIGERIADECIDES2015, I AM INVOLVED. . . AND SO ARE YOU.

The level of unpredictability of the Nigerian political scene has inched up, not a notch but, several notches higher. In fact political pundits say that the unpredictability in the political landscape has reached an all-time high.

True, the stakes are high.
True, the frenzy is high.
However, the debate is low.
The punches are even lower.

In the first few years following Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, it was normal for many to refer to the country as a fledging democracy. I had to find out what “fledging” means and discovered that it came from the word “fledge”. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary says that “fledge or fledging” means (of a young bird) “to acquire the feathers necessary for flight or independent activity; to leave the nest after acquiring such feathers”.

Interestingly, I don’t hear that expression “fledging democracy” often these days. Could it be that in the light of Merriam-Webster’s definition, Nigeria has now fully developed the wings necessary to fly and has left the nest? Some will nod in agreement. There is also the alternative argument that the ‘fledge’ or ‘fledging’ process was aborted. Again there are those who will agree with this position. My personal opinion is that though we may not necessarily be where we should be as a nation, we definitely are no longer where we used to be. We did leave the nest. But we are not exactly flying. Yet.

This is why some analysts think that this year’s election will mark a defining moment for us as a country. For me though, I do not think that the level of political awareness and sophistication has improved. I also do not think that there are serious campaign issues by the presidential contenders. Neither do I think that many voters will still not vote along ethnic and religious lines. Nevertheless, I do believe that the party that eventually wins at the centre will acknowledge that the election wasn’t the piece of cake it used to be and will, therefore, work a lot harder to ensure that it is returned to power in 2019.

Every Nigerian that is duly registered to vote should go out on February 14, 2015 and exercise his or here civic responsibility. As for those who are whining and complaining whether Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (#GEJ) and General Muhammdu Buhari (#GMB) are the best candidates we could get in a country of nearly 170 million people, maybe you just didn’t know. Well then, it is my pleasure that there are 14 presidential candidates, not 2! Surely, among the 14 presidential candidates, you should be able to find someone that meets your minimum criteria. The candidate you vote for does not necessarily have to win the election. I know who I will vote for. So, I urge you by all means vote for your preferred candidate and vote according to your conscience.

In fact, I think it is sheer hypocrisy on the part of some people who claim the neither GEJ nor GMB meets their criteria. I ask, where were they when Prof Pat Utomi ran for president? Did they vote for Gani Fawehimi when he ran for president? Did they vote for Dele Momodu? When Fela Nikulpo-Kuti ran for president nko? Did they vote for him? Make dem park well joor.

It is my hope that the process through which the political candidates improve with time. Therefore, I leave us with 2 quotes that I consider relevant:

“War is too important to be left to the generals” – Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929)

“I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians” -Charles De Gaulle (1890 – 1970)

You can follow me on Twitter @ehissman

Listen Up, Business Owners – Here’s How To Make Your Employees Productive

I love my job

In the last couple of weeks, I have received several complaints from several entrepreneurs bordering on employee productivity. Many have been full of lamentations. Most of them were very specific. They claimed that many employees are:

  • Lazy
  • Tardy
  • Lack initiative
  • Do not show sufficient commitment to their employers
  • Are unproductive.

This sounds almost like straight out of that Douglas McGregor’s book, The Human Side of Enterprise, where he wrote his famous Theory X and Theory Y article.

One even told me that I was lucky to always have a wonderful set of employees around me.

Well, I admit that I have had tremendous cooperation from a lot of the teams I have worked with over the last 15 years. But raising the right kind of team is a tough job for any entrepreneur or supervisor. I have been an employee and I have also been an employer also. I have worked with very great subordinates and I have I also encountered loafers in the workplace. So, I know what my friends feel.

It is not at all surprising that the complaints that I have received are mostly from small business owners. Most large and structured organizations seem to have successfully devised measures to keep these complaints at a minimum.

So, here’s my list of some key areas that small business owners should focus on to save themselves from curse of poor employee performance.

  1. Get Your Staffing Right – That’s The Foundation: This is all so obvious. However, it is usually overlooked by many business owners. Maybe not deliberately. The rule is that if you do not get the right person to fit the right role, you are in for a very frustrating experience. To get this right, you will need to have an effective recruitment process in place. Not many small businesses have processes in place. Not many can afford to. Not many small business owners even understand that selection, recruitment and placement are specialist functions. So, every business owner thus thinks he can decide on whom to recruit.  Now, if your business is too small to have a specialist HR function, there are two things you can do. You can undertake a 3-day course on HR Selection, Recruitment and Selection or you can ask a consultant for help.
  2. Set and Communicate Clear Goals: I have found out that many employers ask employees to assume roles without a clear set of deliverables from the roles and without communicating the expectations. Employees are more likely to perform better when they have a clear idea of what is expected of them. That’s the whole essence of a Job Description. Beyond the job description, however, it is important for an employer to continuously talk to his employees.
  3. Provide Appropriate Work Tools: It breaks my heart when I see or hear employers complain that an employee is unproductive only to find out that the employee has not been provided with the appropriate tool or equipment required for the job. There is nothing an employee finds more frustrating than not having the he tools or equipment to do their job well. What is required could be a chair, a table, a computer or some personal protective equipment. And dear Sir, the employee does not have to pay for the tools he needs to work for you! I was aghast when someone mentioned a particular organisation that gives employees laptops to be able to do the jobs they were employed to do and deducts the cost of the laptops from the employees’ pay!
  4. Train, Coach and Mentor: Quite often, I hear employers telling nearly-recruited employees that they must “hit the ground running”. My take on this is that even when you expect a top-level employee to “hit the ground running”, you must give him the right “coordinates”.  Part of the process of giving the right “coordinates” is the induction or on-boarding process. Many will require some structured trainings before they settle fully into their roles while other will require some “hand-holding” for a while. The message is that you must invest in your people and provide coaching and mentoring for most productive outputs.
  5. Monitor Performance and Provide Feedback: Every employer should have a performance management and feedback system that lets employees know how well or badly they are performing. It is equally important for the feedback to be specific about what they are doing or not doing well. Such appraisal must be objective, constructive and timely.
  6. Reward Your Employees: Rewarding your employees can be a great motivation factor. Truth is, everyone likes to be appreciated. When you do reward people excellence, chances are that they will keep striving for excellence. Rewards often take several forms. Know which is appropriate and commensurate with the effort and apply it.
  7. Pay Your Employees Adequately: I was going to lump this up with the last point but thought to treat it distinctly because of its importance. Many years ago, while still doing my mandatory national service, I came across an advert that read: “Any company that pay’s peanuts will end up with monkeys”. That is so very correct. Many business owners pay their employees very poorly but live very loud lifestyles. Your employees are not dumb. Believe me, they know when the business is going through a rough patch and when business is good. Sometimes, the pay in some organizations is just not up to scratch. Compensate them well. You can have 3 well-paid and motivated employees instead of 10 poorly-paid and consequently unproductive employees!
  8. Lead By Example: The work ethics of an employer or a supervisor will eventually rub-off on the employee or subordinate.  A disciplined employer who works hard is always a great motivating force for his team. Many on his team would begin to mirror him. The reverse is also the case.
  9. Engage Your Employees: It is always very important to continually engage your employees and to communicate with them. Where appropriate, it would be proper to consult them, share the company’s goals and successes with them and make them have a sense of belonging.
  10. “Loose Him and Let Him Go”: Most employers I know hire to retain. It is hardly ever the intention of a rational employer to hire someone just to fire him. Sometimes, however, it does not work out and at such times, an employer requires courage to cut such an employee loose for the sake of workplace harmony or peace of mind. No employer should have any qualms firing an unproductive employee who has been given all that he requires for the job. And once the decision is made, it must be executed without delay.

So, over to you.

You can follow this writer on Twitter @ehissman

#EbolaGate: The Handshake as a Threatened Symbol

handshake 1

ebola greeting

It seems that all of a sudden, the handshake is about to disappear. Thanks, but no thanks, to Ebola Virus Disease that is currently ravaging many parts of West Africa.

In order to avoid any form of contact and avoid contracting the deadly virus, many Nigerians are now shying away from shaking hands. Even some who still summon the courage to shake hands with others soon after resort to washing or sanitizing their hands.  

In fact, not long after an Ebola-related death was recorded in Nigeria, some new forms of greetings known as “Ebola Greeting” emerged among the ever-creative Nigerian social media users. While some of those greetings are quite hilarious, the message is simple: be safe.

But before #EbolaGate, the handshake was “the perfect non-verbal communicative contrivance” (See link here). According to Joshua Rapp Learn, “The handshake is one of the highest forms of symbolic currency with the power to unite, divide, seal deals, and broker peace.” In his article published here, Joshua Learn further describes it as “a ‘universal norm of reciprocity’” whose “rejection sends a powerful message.”

 

The handshake is, according to some sources, said to have originated in medieval times with the etiquette of knights. However, other sources say it appeared later in the courts of British nobles in colonial times. (The reader can click here and here for further readings on this).  Again some say that the handshake originated in war. There rationale is that in order to demonstrate that the intention is peaceful and that the hand does not bear any weapons, the handshake was adopted as the gesture. Today, athletes (including boxers and wrestlers) often shake hands before and after the match to show that they bear no ill will towards each other. Political gladiators also do this, usually after elections, to demonstrate that they have forgotten the bitterness displayed during the election campaign. (I’m really not sure whether this applies to Nigerian politicians. Someone please confirm for me whether Ogbeni Aregbesola and Senator Omisore have shaken hands).

Another school believes that this custom did not originate in wars but in marriages and was then carried over to war situations. 

Well, irrespective of how or where it originated from, the handshake over time became a symbol of friendship, commitment, agreement and peace. In spite of this, the handshake had at some time in the past been criticized as a possible mode of disease transfer. For instance, during the London 2012 Olympics, the Head Doctor at the British Olympic Association, Dr Ian McCurdie, reportedly warned athletes against shaking hands with their rivals. His reasons? In plain language, athletes could pick up sicknesses which could affect their performance.

Today, even though there has been no official warnings against handshakes in Nigeria (the refrain has been to wash the hands or use a hand sanitizer), many are already finding the handshake a clumsy proposition. It is a custom, symbol or gesture many young Nigerians would rather do without.

How the dramas over handshakes play out in the days ahead depend on how soon the Ebola epidemic is contained.

And The “Jeep” Disappointed Him

I love my country men and women. That’s because in their thoughts and actions, they never cease to amaze me.

It just seems that we are wired to think in a way that does not really solve our basic societal problems but to give us the “cool” feeling that we have been able to ensure that at least it no longer affects us.

Why, for instance, do we think that the solution to bad roads is to drive “jeeps”? And just in case you are unfamiliar with Nigerian lingo, a “jeep” is the Nigerian word for four-wheel-drive vehicle (an SUV). In the warped reasoning of the Nigerian elite, if roads are bad (even if it’s his neighbourhood road), he has no business calling for collaborative efforts from his neighbours to fix it, reporting the matter to the relevant government agency to take action or insisting that the government lives up to its responsibility. No!

He sees only in one shade, the I-pass-my-neighbour shade. For as long as we can show off to our neighbours, we are good. That’s part of the reason why many will not join in a communal effort to fix a neighbourhood road or be part of the call for government to do what is right. Such Nigerians think, “afterall, I have a ‘jeep’ that can adapt to difficult terrains.” This partly explains the large number of four-wheel-drive vehicles or SUV’s on Nigerian roads. It seems a lot easier to buy a “jeep” than worry about the roads.

But such thinking is delusional because bad roads also affect “jeeps” as we shall see from the following story.

In the neighbourhood where I live, the roads have just been passable. When a portion of the road broke down about a year ago, it was the management of the school in the estate that took it upon itself to fix it. Other neighbours, including some ‘Big Men’ (former-this and ex-that, movers and shakers in both religious and political circles), felt it didn’t concern them.

We woke up one Saturday morning in May 2014 to see workmen milling around the estate. What was going on? It turned out that the contracts for up-grading the roads to and in the estate had been awarded and the contractor had just mobilized to site. That was the beginning of our ordeal.

There’s no need to go into details as to how we were assured that the project would take only two weeks. This is August and they haven’t even finished digging the drains.

To cut a long story short, as they dug the drains, they heaped the sand right in the middle of the roads. Those of us with smaller cars could no longer drive into the estate: we had to look for where to park outside. For the “Big Men” in the estate, however, they continued to climb the heap of sand and drive right into their homes with their “jeeps”. No collective attempt was made to tell the contractor to at least factor the convenience of residents into the construction project.

Then it happened!

One “Big Man” who owns a chain of exotic “jeeps” was driving home one night and veered off the slippery and sinking sand and right into the dug-out drain. The head of the vehicle lay prostrate leaving the back right up in the air on the road. Trust Nigerians, the next “Big Man” driving out in his “jeep” the next morning expertly maneuvered his vehicle to the free side of the road and drove on. Like we say in Nigeria, “no shaking”.

But there was “shaking”. The workers resumed in the morning and as if by a grand conspiracy, dug out the other side of the road. Effectively, every vehicle was hemmed in (or out, as the case may be).

It’s been one week now since that incident. The “jeep” is still praying in the ditch. The workmen still come and pretend to be digging. The road is still messy. It still rains heavily. Residents still struggle for space to park their vehicles outside of the estate and then walk the heap of sand into their homes. The “contractor” is still faceless. The problem is still unresolved.

But we carry on, nonetheless.