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Nigerian Society at the dawn of the 21st century:  Reward Systems, Workers Morale, and Productivity

By Victor Dike

 



Introduction

This paper deals with reward systems, workers morale, and productivity in
Nigeria. The society has acquired the unenviable reputation of being very
slow in meeting her workers demands. The workers have not been getting their
money's worth; and they are often not paid when it is due. Obviously, pay
can influence employees' work behavior and attitudes; and it may 'affect
their decision to work more productively' or 'diminish their efforts.'

Therefore, this paper argues that poor reward system, among other things,
has negatively impacted the workers morale, and productivity. How then can
the society motivate the workers to improve their productivity? This paper
shall attempt to address this question and many others not posed.

Definition of terms

Let me start by defining the relevant terms in this discourse (= reward,
morale, motivation, and productivity). We cannot search too far to note the
brutalizing effects of poor reward systems on the society. Admittedly, a
reward is something that is given in return for some service or attainment.
As it relates to employment, it is pay for the job held; pay for the
individual's capabilities; and pay for results (Greene, April 1991, p. 63).
Appropriate reward often motivates people to perform better.

What is motivation? Motivation, which has variedly been defined, is an inner
drive that causes one to act. It has formally been defined as "a person's
inner state that energizes, sustains, and directs behavior to satisfy a
person's needs"(Milkovich & Glueck, 1985, p.136). According to Donadio
(March 1992), motivation "is the art of stimulating someone to action by
creating a safe environment in which their motivation can be unleashed and
through providing a reason or incentive for people to produce" (Donadio,
March 1992, p.40). Employee motivation causes one to abandon its own goals
for the goals of the organization.

As Mullen (1993) has asked, how can an employee be motivated to abandon its
own goals for that of the organization's goals? (p. 6). Any person who has
followed closely the labor history of Nigeria would agree that the real
problem facing the workers is that they are under appreciated. Relatively,
they are not paid living wages; they are often harassed, used, and
discarded. In addition, there is no effective social system to see them
through their retirement years. This unfortunate condition has negatively
impacted their morale.

What do we mean by workers' morale? Among other things, "morale is the
mental and emotional condition (as enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an
individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand" (see
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1980, p.742). The society should
re-double her efforts to provide an enabling environment for the workers' to
improve their productivity

Clearly, Nigeria is still living in pre-computer age. Now virtually
everything is networked in most countries. With this, managers are more
visible, constantly processing and giving out needed information. A system
where the manager is invisible and unapproachable is no longer acceptable.
For this, our managers should stroll out of their offices often, communicate
with and gather information from their subordinates, and solve problems as
they arise. In other words, they should crawl out of their cocoon, stop
playing gods, and become more sensitive to the needs of their subordinates.
This can boost the workers' morale and productivity.

As we all know, humans are goal driven. It has been documented that once a
goal is set, behavior aimed toward the goal persists until the goal is
reached. But more often than not, a Nigerian worker works all his life
without coming close to achieving his life goals. This sad situation is
rampant today where an average worker cannot afford to meet his or her
family's basic needs (= food, clothing, water, decent shelter, and health
care; see Addis Ababa, JASPA, 1981, p.22; Maslow, 1943, p.370; and Sisk &
Williams, 1981, p.317). The lack of all these basic needs have negatively
impacted their productivity.

In the case of productivity, it may be measured at various levels:
organizational, unit, product line, or any other level that is logical
(Milkovich & Glueck, 1985, p. 175). And productivity can be broken down into
three component parts: ability, opportunity, and motivation (Managers, Nov.
1993, p.29). But here, I shall focus on the effects of motivation on
productivity. However, "productivity is the relationship between the amount
of one or more inputs and the amount of outputs from a clearly identified
process." And "the most common measure is labor productivity, which is the
amount of labor input (such as labor hours or employees) per physical unit
of measured output." Another measure is materials productivity, in which the
amount of output is measured against the amount of physical materials input
(Thor 1991, pp.18-19).

Yet another measure of productivity is termed total productivity.
Total-factor productivity is the ratio of output to all inputs, not just
labor (Soros, Jan. 1998). In other words, total-factor productivity includes
all the factors of production. Given Nigeria's poor reward systems, the
workers' productivity has been 'downright dreadful.' Has the society the
resources to better motivate and treat her workers like human beings?

Workers and lack of Motivation

With all the material resources available in Nigeria, it is unbelievable
that her workers lack the necessary motivation to perform their job duties.
Many workers are owed arrears of wages and salaries. But the bare fact is
that the money looted by our brave and mad military generals (especially
Abacha and his cronies, not to mention the 'evil genius'- Babangida) from
our national treasury would have been enough to pay the workers for years.
With the looted money Babangida has provisionally been approved to setup a
private university in Kaduna State. Oddly enough, some people started to
clap and dance around him looking for favor. Nigeria has not learned her
lessons! The society should be committed to combating fraud and to bring
criminals to justice. However, any action in this regard should be
transparent, fair, just, and honest.

For the worker who has been struggling with unending social pathologies in
Nigeria to be more productive and corruption-free, he should be well
motivated; and corruption should be brought under control. Without this, the
funds meant for workers would end up in private pockets. More importantly,
honest efforts should be made to sustain democratic values, and to tackle
other kernel issues facing the society.

The need to address these problems is very high now that the world has
crawled into the highly competitive 21st Century. Nigeria cannot effectively
compete in the global market place with hungry workers. Unfortunately,
Nigeria has been characterized, with some justification, as a dinosaur. For
this, the society is waiting for a leader capable of developing novel
solutions to the most urgent problems of our age. For any solution to be
effective, the society should wage war on tribalism, sectionalism, nepotism,
religious intolerance, and other negative '...ism' that is dividing and
alienating the people of Nigeria. It is a deeply disturbing fact that
tribalism and nepotism are the main causes of mediocrity and rampant
favoritism in various establishments in the country.

The issue of resource mismanagement seems unsolvable in the society. And the
issue of low productivity, which is caused by ineffective management, is
common in state-owned organizations (state intervention has rendered them
less useful to the public). Oddly enough, many mangers in the society lack
the skills necessary to lead a productive workforce. Despite their poor
performances, the managers of these inefficient institutions still get their
salaries with the aid of state subsidy. This is unthinkable in a serious
society; a good wage is normally tied to productivity (a good job). As it
were, if you cannot perform, you are out! Moreover, some of the managers are
reckless; they have high taste, and play around with workers pay. This is
irremediably devastating to the hopes, dreams and possibilities of the
workers.

Because of the inefficiencies and corruption in our parastatals, the
government should pursue the privatization programs that have been trumpeted
in the country. The state should also "de-emphasize undue interference in
government parastatals so as to promote professionalism and efficiency"
(Lukman, May 12-13, 1999).

Some of the institutions that need to be re-structured include NEPA, NITEL,
NNPC, NIPOST, government breweries and newspaper industries. Therefore,
Nigeria is seriously challenged to take these actions for increased
competition, economic democracy, better management, and good quality
products (services). Because of their strategies economic importance, their
poor performances have harmful multiplier effects on the entire economy.

The question poses itself: Why should a government get involved in newspaper
and brewery businesses? The private sector can better manage that sector of
the economy. Relatively speaking, newspaper prints in Nigeria are of poor
quality. Even one who is information conscious might be turnoff by the poor
prints. That these institutions are not functioning well is evidence that
change is appropriate.

I would not like to dwell on issues that have already been over-flogged. But
it is appropriate to point out that without a reliable power supply, the
much trumpeted privatization program in the country would not have the
desired effect. As Lester Thurow has noted, being able to do something after
dark changes peoples' basic habit. With electricity, mass transportation
systems q underground and street railways q that have allowed the emergence
of modern metropolis becomes available. And electricity has powered the
telephone communication system that allowed small local markets to become
big national markets (Thurow, June 1999).

Without the provision of the basic infrastructures, how can the industrial
world invest in Nigeria with creaky infrastructures, roads, railroads, port
facilities, energy, and schools? How can the privatized companies run their
plants - with bundles of candle and firewood? Although recent reports
indicate that NEPA has improved, a lot is yet to be done to achieve a
continuous and non-interruptible power supply in Nigeria. I hope that my
highly respected and admired Chief Bola Ige could sustain the positive
personnel and structural changes he promised to affect in NEPA.

There are also indications that the endless lines in fuel stations have
begun to disappear. But how would company trucks run if this progress in not
sustained? Given the fact that Nigeria is the world's 6th largest oil
producing nation, and the "largest oil producer in Africa" (Lukman, May 4-5
1999), and considering the people's poor income, gas is still expensive at
the official pump price of N20 per liter. There are even reports that some
unscrupulous gas stations (moreover, those in the Lagos area), are in the
habit of adjusting their gas meters, thereby pushing gas price up to about
N30 per liter (see Abbas, November 12, 1999).

Some unscrupulous individuals are also in the business of provoking
artificial scarcity. As if to squeeze the last drop of blood off the nation,
recent news reports say that the government is again contemplating
increasing the price of gas. Characteristically, the Nigeria Labor Congress
(NLC) has issued a public warning that its members would embark on a nation
wide industrial action should gas price be increased. In retrospect, the
government should track down and close the gas stations that are involved in
illegal adjustment of their meters to defraud innocent customers.

The government has arbitrarily increased the cost of local and international
postage for sometime now. But the funny thing about it all is that the
increase has not improved the services of NIPOST. The organization has not
been able to perform the basic function of mail delivery well, because the
workers are not motivated. For instance, mails take nearly two months to get
to Zaria in Kaduna State from Umuaka in Imo State.

The cost of installing a telephone line in homes is beyond the reach of the
hungry masses. The high cost does not in any way guarantee a better
telephone service. In some parts of the country telephone lines are often
dead; intra-city or inter-city communication is often difficult. The dearth
of information, can and do, affect workers' productivity; workers would wait
for weeks, if not months, for an information that could be obtained in some
seconds in an information conscious society. If all these agencies are
crippled, is there any wonder why the workers have low productivity? And
with all these, the workers are angry because they have the right to be
human.

The worker's right to be human

The workers have been able to survive almost everything thrown at them. But
it has not been easy for them to ignore the issue of lack of motivation. It
is not too much to ask to be treated like human beings. The workers deserve
some motivational welfare packages, and should be well trained; and they
should, on their own part, think critically and creatively. Thinking
creatively and critically would enable them to be rational and logical, and
to be more productive.

In addition, creative and critical thinking would enable them to organize
their daily lives, and to teach them how to think properly through their
problems. Critical and creative thinking are much more important now that
the world is a global village. In a global economy countries are
interconnected. It is also characterized by free movement of goods and
services, free movement of ideas and capital, freedom of choice associated
with the international movement of people, and freedom of thought. This
applies to direct investments and financial transactions. Thus the global
economy should really be thought of as the global capitalist system (Soros
1998; Camdessus, May 20, 1996).

Obviously, organizations and nations that lack creative and critical minds
may not compete positively in the 'transnational' and global world economy
of today. As "our global society contains many different customs,
traditions, and religions," only societies that are prepared would get the
benefits "global integration has brought" (Soros, Jan. 1998).

I will not get into the psychology of 'creative' and 'critical' thinking.
But it suffices to say that the two complement each other.  Meanwhile, Ennis
(1985) has defined critical thinking as "reasonable, reflective thinking
that is focused on deciding what to believe or do." Thinking is "reasonable"
when the thinker strives to analyze arguments carefully, looks for valid
evidence, and reaches sound conclusions. Critical thinking helps to develop
fair minded and objective individuals who are committed to clarity and
accuracy (p.54).

Perkins (1984) states that "creative thinking is thinking patterned in a way
that tends to lead to creative results." For that, "we call a person
creative when that person consistently gets creative results, meaning,
roughly speaking, original and otherwise appropriate results by the criteria
of the domain in question" (pp.18-9).

However, Halpern (1984) notes that "creativity can be thought of as the
ability to form new combinations of ideas to fulfill a need" (p.324).
Creativity also involves re-framing ideas; and it is often facilitated when
one gets away from intensive engagement for awhile to permit free-flow of
thoughts (Marzano, et. al, 1988, pp.25-27). Given the above definitions, the
ultimate criterion for creativity is output.

Managers in government establishments and business organizations must
recognize each worker as an individual, and properly reward those that are
creative, to encourage them to work harder. In addition, they should strive
to identify what motivates their individual workers, since what motivates
one person may not motivate another. Why am I concerned about creative and
critical thinking in this paper? This two concepts are necessary because the
ability to solve problems is a prerequisite for human survival (Rowe, 1985).

Thus, the workers who have been de-humanized have the right to be human.
They should be re-humanized and encouraged to be creative, because "in the
face of intense global competition...businesses are scrambling to introduce
a number of new techniques aimed at improving quality and productivity"
(Sharman, Feb. 1991, p.8). Employers should help their workers to behave
human by treating them like human beings. It has been noted that
organizations with good reward system often attract and retain the best in
the society. As Eric Weber has pointed out, valuable employees (all things
being equal) are normally indispensable (Weber, April 1991, p.52).

The society should motivate the local labor-force to be more productive at
this highly competitive period. But it is sad to note that in many instances
expatriate workers are better rewarded than local employees with the same or
those with better qualification. This is demoralizing, to say the least. We
should establish a standard for decisions on how much to pay an employee.
How to assure fair and equitable pay differences among employees, how large
a pay increase each person should receive, and what forms compensation
should take - cash incentives, bonuses and medical care, etc - for local
employees, should be at par with that of expatriate workers. As it were,
nothing is more important to a worker than economic survival.

Workers and Economic survival

Barber Conable, a former Republican member of the US Congress for 20 years
and President of the World Bank from 1986-1991 said, 'When governments
aren't sure what to do about a problem they readily resort to talk about
institutional reform' (Conable, as cited in www.cgg.ch/barber.htm) This is
probably true. But when it comes to managing complex social challenges such
as productivity, corruption, tribalism, and workers welfare in a volatile
and complex polity such as Nigeria, institutional restructuring, in my
honest opinion, is appropriate

I read with disbelief the article, "Nigerian Workers do it for love, not
money" by Remi Oyo, in the Daily Mail & Guardian of May 14, 1999. The
article indicates that many workers in some organizations have not been paid
for months. It is strange to note that the payment of worker's makes news
headlines in Nigeria. Such stories are scattered all over the society like a
straw hut in a typhoon. But one of those that caught my attention recently
was a caption in the Vanguard of Nov. 22, 1999 which states "Osun teachers
get pay." The funny thing about this was that the teachers in Osun State
were getting paid their July salaries in November; and the authorities had
the gut to direct them to call off their strike action and return to the
classroom. The question is, if the Osun teachers were paid their July 1999
salaries in November 1999, when would they receive their August, September,
October, November, and December 1999 salaries?

At the Daily Times, the New Nigerian and the Telegraph newspapers, workers
complain of not having been paid for nearly a year (Oyo, May 14, 1999). The
story of late or non-payment of salary is applicable to police officers and
postal workers. Medical doctors and state judges have motivation problem
too. Not long ago medical doctors were on strike for months over basic
benefits. And state judges in Enugu State were demanding the arrears owed to
them on their professional robe allowance.

There are many problems in Nigeria, but that which involves late or
non-payment of workers for months is difficult to comprehend. Given the
magnitude of this problem, I cannot ask enough questions here. How long can
the workers work for love, and not for money? Have the workers other sources
of income? How are they taking care of their family obligations? How does an
organization with unappreciated workforce expect the employees to produce
good quality products and services? How does a manager expect a worker to
improve on his productivity without being paid for months? How is the
organization going to make profits if the workers cannot produce due to lack
of motivation?

These questions may not have immediate answers, but something is definitely
wrong with any society that threats its workers with disdain. I doubt
seriously that this kind of fraud and inhumanity can happen in a serious and
an organized society like the United States (and in the other highly
industrialized countries of Europe and North America that look after the
welfare of its citizens). It is a simple fact that 'people's social and
economic circumstances dictate what goes onto their plates"(Kapur, Dec.
1999). Unassailably, bad labor relations and reward systems in Nigeria have
negatively impacted the workers' morale, their productivity, and the health
of the entire economy.

As a student of industrial relations and politics, it is appropriate to
underscore the remarkable benefits a society would receive from workers
increased productivity. In a competitive system, the very inefficient firms,
individuals, and nations would simply wither or cease to exist. Increase in
productivity on a national basis enables everyone to enjoy a higher standard
of living (Sisk & Williams 1980, pp.131-132). If workers are well motivated
they work with high morale and resultant increase in their outputs. But if
they are under-appreciated, their productivity is bound to plummet. In
addition, workers would not have the resources to purchase the goods and
services produced in the economy. Thus, if money is not changing hands in
any economy, economic gridlock could result with the attendant
socio-economic and political problems.

As an example, a poor and hungry worker, no matter how information conscious
he might be, would not spend the little money at his disposal in buying a
newspaper. In fact, a friend of mine who is a university professor in
Nigeria complained recently that he can not afford N50 (about 50 cents) to
purchase a daily newspaper. Many people have the same problem confronting
this professor. If this trend continues the newspaper industry would be in
for a lot of trouble.

Without a doubt, the provision of basic economic necessities to ones family
is more important to a poor worker than reading a newspaper. It will also be
unthinkable for a poor worker to consume milk, which many would agree is a
luxury item in present day Nigeria. In a purely economic sense, he would
rather spend his meager income on staple food, such as 'garri' or 'yam,'
(these items are relatively less expensive). Even the issue of democracy is
out of the equation for a hungry worker. He is obviously interested in the
politics that matters - the politics of survival.

Thus, if newspapers and milk are not sold, the simple fact is that the
industries producing these items could collapse. Workers would be detached,
and unemployment could skyrocket. The resultant dislocation could cause
serious economic and social instability in a society such as Nigeria without
an in-built social safety net.

In the advanced industrial and highly competitive societies, workers are the
main tools for economic growth and social progress. Their demands are
normally taken into serious consideration, because without a dedicated
workforce an organization crumbles. But as I have lamented, reward system in
Nigeria is probably the poorest in the entire globe. Their poor conditions
notwithstanding, workers are often used and abused, harassed, threatened,
and discarded, without any appreciation for their contribution to their
organizations, and to the society at large. As I have mentioned earlier, the
society has no social safety net (unemployment compensation, social
security, etc.); and the pension system is awful.

One of the challenges facing Nigeria at the dawn of the new century is the
establishment of the necessary social programs, because any person who is
unemployed is on his own, even if one is disabled. Our very old, sick, and
disabled, should not be left to struggle for survival without assistance. We
should design a system where people can contribute towards their retirement
when they are young, healthy, and working, and to draw from it when they are
not fit to work. Since our very old and sick live desperate poverty, this
could help to reduce the level of poverty in the society. This is how it is
in the United States, a country whose political system we have elected to
model. Here, social security is the longest and most successful anti-poverty
program (Baker & Weisbrot, 1999, p.12).

In retrospect, a worker with family responsibilities is likely to resort to
an illegal and corrupt means to make ends meet, if he/she is not paid for
months.  Does the society expect a hungry citizen to be honest, happy,
productive, and law-abiding? This is where petty and grand corruption comes
in. The issue of corruption was discussed at length in my previous work
(Dike 1999, pp.155-164). However, it is appropriate to add here that lack of
adequate reward for honest effort and good skill is one of the reasons why
corruption is pandemic in Nigeria.

It is equally important to point out that in Nigeria a university graduate
if he is lucky to find a job in the present 'dysfunctional' society, cannot
afford a car with his salary. Like what is common in the society, he might
be tempted to get involved in fraudulent activities to make ends meet.  For
a university professor, a car is a luxury; universities are often closed as
the teachers are always fighting for their survival. Sadly, the average
salary of a Nigerian lecturer remains the lowest in West Africa. How then
does one expect a professor who has the important responsibility to train
the nation's labor force to put in his best in the classroom?

The present civilian administration has recorded some achievements in some
areas since it was inaugurated, but not much has been achieved in the area
of labor relations and dispute management. Industrial actions are still
crippling the economy as workers are still fighting for their survival.
Obasanjo and his administration were seriously criticized for mishandling
the recent ASUU and NUT strike actions that rocked the nation in the
late1999 (see Elemunor and Abuh, October 13, 1999). The administration could
make history for itself if the welfare of the workers is seriously reviewed.
Otherwise, labor crises would continue to be dealt with in the most
expensive and least effective ways (= labor strike actions and lockout).

Even journalists would not make good reporting if they are not well
compensated. General Babangida who ran the country down still receives wide
press coverage from journalist. Is he bribing the hungry journalists with
the money he looted from the national treasury? It is only in a country like
Nigeria that you find people like General Babangida making waves. If it were
in a country like the United States Babangida and his like could long have
been dead politically. But strangely, he is still walking around freely like
a saint, despite his atrocious activities in the society. Is he ignorant of
what killed Dela Giwa? Do we need to setup probe panels to determine the
criminality of his regime?

With the growing discontent in the society, there is near unanimity on the
need for concerted action to provide solutions to the issues of resource
mismanagement and corruption - the causes of the issues facing the nation
today. The problems facing Nigeria multiply by the month. It is accepted
that every society needs some shared values to hold it together.
Unfortunately, the activities of some of our leaders have not created the
needed good environment for the development of the necessary glues to hold
our nation together.

We are now saddled with the issue of Sharia (Islamic) Law, which the
civilian governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani Yerima, has vowed to
introduce in the state. As many writers on this issue have lamented, Sani
Yerima has not considered the fact that Zamfara state is "a diverse, plural,
multi-ethnic, and a multi-religious" state. He has not even taken into
consideration the human rights and economic implications of such laws on the
state (Osu, Dec. 20, 1999; Edomi, Nov. 16, 1999, etc).

Let me summarize my views on the specific subject of Sharia law by saying
that individuals have the constitutional right to practice whatever religion
they prefer. This should be done without infringing on the civil rights of
other citizens, and without tearing the country apart. Opinions may differ
on where the dividing line should be drawn, but the government (federal,
state, or local) is prohibited by the 1999 constitution to sponsor a
religion, or to dictate to the people the type of religion to adopt. Sadly,
some of our political leaders are out to govern without a clear
understanding of their constitutional boundaries, and the responsibility of
government. With all the problems facing the society, one wonders why the
establishment of a religion in Zamfara should be the priority of the
honorable governor - Ahmed Sani Yerima.

Given the foregoing, Achebe (1983) is probably right that leadership is the
main problem facing Nigeria. The society, without a doubt, has all the
material resources to pay her workers and to salvage all her
poverty-stricken population. But the leaders waste their energies on issues
that would not improve the living standard of the people. Grave threat to
our future stability lie in the masses beset by absolute poverty. Economic
reform, education, and infrastructure creation is still the most hopeful
corrective measures. But without the concerted actions of the leaders,
workers would remain unmotivated; and the entire society is bound to suffer.
How then can the workers' productivity be improved?

Possible ways to improve workers' productivity

Having identified the problems facing the average worker in Nigeria, let's
take a minute to discuss the possible ways to improve their productivity.
Employee motivation, which is the main problem, can take many forms. Thus,
any productivity improvement programs in Nigeria should include, among other
things, the replacement of ineffective and obsolete technologies;
replacement of equipment in poor conditions; establishment of good working
conditions (good payment system and incentives, job satisfaction, good
retirement packages, etc), and the provision of appropriate technical
manpower and instructions.

Investment in human development (employees training), and technological
modernization are areas that deserve serious attention. This is because, one
of the most efficient and effective methods of improving workers
productivity is simply to train them in the skills they need to perform
their job duties. And without the availability of necessary tools and modern
technologies, workers productivity is destined to go south. As Hodgson
(March 1993) has recommended, we should educate the workers, test them on
the understanding of the materials, then reward them based on how well they
perform (p.83). It is appropriate to point out at this juncture that "the
only enduring competitive advantage [in this global economy] is a
high-quality, well-motivated work force willing to work together as a team
to increase productivity" Greene (April 1991, p.62).

Taking proper interest in people is another way to improve their
productivity. It has been noted that the more you know about an individual -
knowing the needs and aspirations - the better you will be able to know how
to motivate and to get the most out of him (Donadio March 1992, p.40). Since
workers are not paid well and when due, it is obvious that employers have
not taken proper interest in them.

Managers (= person in charge of a formal organization or one of its
sub-units, Mintzberg 1980, p.100), are responsible for giving directions.
Thus, the work climate of any unit or organization is determined, for good
or bad, by the work habits of that unit or organization's manager. For
example, if the managers have not shown any concern for their organizations,
how would they expect that from the workers? This tends to explain why
corruption is endemic in Nigeria. Since both the led and the leaders are
corrupt, they do not apparently see corruption as a vice. Therefore, any
motivation programs in organizations would only work if the employees feel
confident that management is willing to show good efforts in their use.
Anything less could cause mistrust. De-motivation would also set in since
workers are willing to put forth additional effort only when they see some
kind of gain from it Mullen (Nov/Dec 1993, p.17).

For this, our employers should learn to implement any employment benefits
agreement reached with the workers for the mutual benefit of the people and
the society. The non-implementation of benefits agreed upon between the
govern-ment and ASUU apparently led to the recent university teachers'
strike actions. The managers should also desist from playing around with
workers wages and salaries. This is a challenge that should be tackled with
sincerity at the dawn of the 21st century. In addition, workers should be
allowed to participate in activities and in setting goals and objectives in
their organizations. This would help them to develop a sense of owner-ship
and pride Donadio (March 1992, p. 40). And as Metz (Jan 1992) has noted,
recognition and visibility of the subordinates by management can spur major
increase in productivity (p.25).

More importantly, Nigerian society should create appropriate organizational
environment and value system that would stimulate the morale and
productivity of the work force and leadership. Overtime, a culture of high
productivity would be created, not by any other way, but by the behavior of
the workers and the leaders. However, it is essential to emphasize that the
above prescriptions would work better under a viable democratic political
process.

Conclusion

Nigeria has a system that suffers from many deficiencies, the most glaring
of which is the lack of motivation for her workers. The nation can move
forward only if persistent and deliberate efforts are made to correct the
deficiencies. Towards this direction, the state should withdraw from the
areas of the economy where private individuals could manage, for improved
productivity, more jobs, export increase, and sociopolitical stability. This
would in turn increase the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The
decline in productivity would result in plant's closure, loss of jobs, and
increased human misery. As it were, a happy and healthy worker is normally a
high productive employee (all things being equal).

Some state governments have not been able to implement the new salary
structure approved by the federal government. Yet some governors from these
states have since their inauguration undertaken some wasteful foreign trips
without clearing the backlog of pays owed the workers. Even with the full
imple-mentation of the new salary structure, Nigerian workers would still be
grossly underpaid. Many of them could still be struggling to subsist on less
than $1 a day.

Meanwhile, our oil wells are still pumping out well over 1.88 million
barrels daily; but the plebes have not been benefiting from the gains. Thus,
with good management of the abundant natural resources in the country, we
can still put in place effective social security programs for the society.
As President Bill Clinton said at a regional conference on social security
in Kansas City, Missouri, we still have the chance to "fix the roof while
the sun is still shining" (as cited in Baker & Weisbrot 1999, p.1). For
that, we must change our policies that have not served us well. As Bob
Crandell, president of American Airlines, is known to have said, "If you
always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got" (as
cited in Sharman, Feb 1991, p.11). And if we want to survive as a nation in
this 21st century, we have to 'understand and apply what works now.'


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Victor Dike is the author of, Leadership, Democracy, and the Nigerian
Economy: Lessons from the Past and Directions for the Future. The Lightning
Press, Sacramento, 1999. The book is marked for $20.00, and could be
obtained by calling: (916) 497-3418 (voice mail), or e-mail:
vdike@edcenter.egusd.k12.ca.us

Transmitted: January 2000

 

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