If you want the quick and dirty, the crux of the matter is this: on a current affairs program, an official was asked to provide the website of his institution known as the NSCDC (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps). He goofed pretty badly in his answer. “Horrendously” does not begin to capture the manner of his response. He actually said that the website would be made known by “my Oga at the top.” When pressed by the panel for further information, he replied with something to the effect of “ww.nscdc, yes, that’s all.”
The matter has gone viral, with t-shirts, memes and videos memorializing the ignominy. Here are two gems:
According to news reports, the gentleman has been suspended from his workplace. To me, suspending him for this behavior is a pathetic attempt by Oga at the top to appease the public who are increasingly less patient with ineptitude. After all, I don’t think you can suspend an official for not knowing his organization’s website. Fine, you can query him but to reprimand him to this extent is harsh unless the establishment’s code of conduct allows for it. Thus, unless his work at post is below par, this should be handled much more professionally. Instead of rooting out the problem, Oga at the top appears more concerned with cutting off just one branch.
In any case, this gentleman’s conduct is symptomatic of the deeper problem that plagues certain public officials. There is this innate lack of foresight and a refusal to take the initiative. There is again that impression that a public official has to know everything about their job so as to appear all-powerful to others. Such people hide their incompetence behind bureaucracy, for instance. I would connect the larger problem to the traditional assumption that an older person is always right, but that would be another blog topic. Returning to this specific scenario, honesty is hardly a bad thing. After all, if this gentleman didn’t know the answer to the question, there would have been nothing wrong with a simple: “I am not sure. However, I will have it made known by the end of this program.” He could have even said “Google it and you will find it without much of a problem.” With his horror show though, one wonders if he knows what Google is.
So beyond the laughter, ridicule and anger, the question that remains is what do we do about these things? One major thing needed is for capacity building to be taken seriously by public institutions. We hear of capacity building workshops being organized regularly, but what kind of training is being done, what is done to ensure that afterward, the participants actually apply the skills learned? Are there follow-up exercises a week, a month and even three to six months after such workshops to ascertain that skills are effectively used? Human capital is the most crucial component of any institution. You can donate the best and latest gadgets to a company and have them rot in offices or boxes if the personnel to manage them are not trained to do so.
I would like to end on an optimistic note. I find it positive that in the age of social media and democracy, the public is holding its officials much more accountable. Freedom of speech is also a good thing because people are able to express themselves and develop public discourse. The ridicule that this man has suffered should be a significant catalyst in checking others like him. Fine, other officials might simply memorize their website addresses, but at least some of them will start to get better acquainted with their work.
By the way, the website of the NSCDC is https://www.nscdc.gov.ng/
If you wear this shirt, then you mean to say you cannot categorically tell me one now 🙂