It sounds strange right? This is what I mean. The management of Npower have shown an alien competency and potential for success at all levels that have baffled me for months. They have encouraged a positive touch on the lives of our communities through personnel working at various sections of the community. They have made some of our graduates occupied with positivity and a sense of responsibility that have helped uplift their being and the society. They have created a quick response system where support is given and solutions executed or recommended at the shortest time possible. They have demystified what it means to be responsible and accountable in this part of the world. They have given hope to the people of Nigeria on the possibility of a change in the poor work ethic. Normally, this wouldn’t be seen as extraordinary but because I have seen impunity, among civil servants, walking with a swag on both feet; because here I have seen that people who have power can escape unhurt if they treat those whose needs led to their creation with disdain; because I have seen that impunity could be a Nigerian, I applaud them. So, I would like to share some thoughts on what could be learned from this scheme.
Npower was the place where my shock meter was tampered with. Before encountering the staff at Npower, I have been shocked beyond all levels of ‘shockability’ by the system we have here. My shock absolver was at full swing and whatever shocked normal human beings was no threat to my ‘peace’. The weird had become normal. The bad had become normal. The inhumanity had become normal. That is, normal in the sense of surprise. I was not used to any government staff or civil servants treating me nicely. I was not used to my protectors handling me like glass. I was not used to being treated with respect. That’s troublesome right? In my quarters, it was normal. The day I peeped into the social handles of Npower, my shock absolver was wrecked. It felt a hard knock at its waist and I became free. I was shocked to see that government workers could have good manners. They didn’t respond with that voice I’m used to hearing at the table of Gods…sorry I mean civil servants. Responses to the questions asked was fast and even questions considered silly were treated with respect. I was used to civil servants and government workers treating my sane questions like that of a madman but here, provocative questions are answered with ease and a certain strange calm. This was the Nigeria of my dreams!
We are not totally ruined after all. If certain persons employed by our government could exhibit proper behaviour in unison then there is hope for this country. We must give kudos to whoever is responsible for creating such a system, in this our system, where customer and the served are really king. You go to the government run hospitals and see nurses who are supposed to be care givers threatening and making fun of a woman in labour. You visit the Local Government Secretariat and you see a staff whose duty it is to handle visitors manhandling visitors. You visit your department’s admin unit in the University and those supposed to treat you with respect, clothe you with disrespect. But at Npower, the staff are different. The manners are angelic. The responses are intelligent and show a modern and civilized man behind the computer screen handling human beings. Why is the nurse whose job it is to give care arrogant? Why is the Local Government official whose job it is to respond to visitors arrogant? Why do the academic and nonacademic staffs in the University give care with arrogance? They are all in Nigeria but while Npower is full of people with respect and dedication to service, Nigerians and humanity, the other three exhibit great disdain and a high level of miseducation. Why is this so? The simple answer is Leadership.
I was also baffled at their response to mistakes and hitches. I do see in our broken system where mistakes experienced in the past keep repeating themselves. When the Npower portal was opened for registration sometime in June there were problems within the first seven days. There were problems with site error, registration page refreshing, etc., but in less than a week, it was over. The tedious hours spent on registration was reduced and the system was back and functioned at an optimal level. The way the scheme handled the issue of ghost workers and BVN problems must be emulated and encouraged too. The Npower has not clocked two years but the level of response and dedication shown so far has surpassed most of our schemes that have lived above a decade and more. This is not to suggest that the preparation that led to the first mistake was okay. No. I am not suggesting that they should be applauded for making a mistake. The point is, the will to change, the will to meet new challenges, the will to perform better than the past, the will to identify a mistake and work on it, is what gives individuals and nations great success. Their are organizations and institutions owned by the government that still repeat the errors they made ten years ago. There are schemes here that still operate the same process even with gargantuan evidence that the process is highly flawed. There are institutions where errors are purposely allowed because someone thinks it can’t get better. What is the difference between Npower and these institutions? It is simply leadership.
When the government came up with the scheme, so many Nigerians laughed it off and saw it as another avenue to embezzle funds. These persons cannot be blamed. As humans, it is not illogical to consider experience when passing judgements. Though, making hasty generalisations is unhealthy, in our case it can be understood. Don’t assume that I’m making the argument that the system is perfect and without blemish or that it is run by the most honest Nigerians. Not at all. The system is neither perfect nor run by some special human beings other than Nigerians. The point is, irrespective of the ills recorded so far, ills within the unit we have no clue on and the ills they’d experience in future, their is the evidence for attaining perfection and self-sanctification. The zeal to be better at something positive is good. The scheme, through the execution of its duties (which are the institutionalization of a culture of responsibility and usefulness among Nigerian graduates) has shown that we can get better. It showed that the first step to getting it right in this country is through leadership. I don’t just mean the President but leaders in all capacities. Leaders with clear cut visions and will to execute their ideas. This is simply the reason why the staff at Npower treat the potential beneficiaries and beneficiaries with a human face and it is also the reason why their are Gods in other government-owed organizations. This is the reason why the management of Npower try to get better and treat people better while the ones at other places reverse the role and ask visitors to serve them.
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The actions of bodies and institutions have an effect on the mind of a man or people. Schemes like Npower has the ability to positively change how we respond to each other. Actions and habits are infectious and whatever we do stands taller in determining how people respond than whatever we say. Actions are more infectious than words and Npower can infect this country with a conscious illness. Anyone with an atom of truth in them will tell you the scheme is good on all levels. What if there are so many Nigerian institutions with such leadership/unit dolling out commonsense and positive behaviour in quantum proportions? Obviously, as evident in the character of those in the Npower scheme, if we had institutions with such positive and smart leadership, we will have a great proportion of positive and smart people. No one should try take away from its gains by suggesting that the money spent on the scheme could have been used for something better. We must also commend the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for bringing this to light. He deserves credit and the workers in that lovely place deserve medals of honor for showing that we can achieve anything. And before you begin to suggest that I’m speaking through my stomach, just know that I am not a beneficiary or a contract staff.
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