Presidential Media Chat of Sept 12th, 2011 – My Verdict? Slightly Above Average

We finally got to listen to President Goodluck Jonathan speak to Nigerians via a media chat with selected journalists. The event was prerecorded and the questions likely known beforehand. My overall assessment is that he performed slightly above average. Our President is not exactly naturally charismatic so I wasn’t expecting any rousing speeches ala Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America. He is also not a strong and imposing figure like former President Obasanjo. So instead of listening to him to get inspired, I was looking for concrete plans and programmes.

A lot of people probably watched the media chat so I won’t bother with the specifics, rather I will rate his answers on key areas.

Corruption: I expected tough talk and a reading of the proverbial Riot Act and not platitudes. He needs to prosecute some high-profile cases within the rule of law. He should make a scapegoat of just one big fish such as a corrupt former Governor to send a strong message to other corrupt individuals. Score: 4/10

Power: I have confidence that the current efforts at privatization will produce some improvements but the effects may not be felt until 2015. While he focuses on improving generation through new power plants, he also needs to pay attention to monetizing and correctly pricing gas resources, localized generation and distribution, market rules for operators, reduction of energy theft and transmission losses and improvement of billing. Privatization is a step in the right direction. Score: 8/10

Agriculture: He correctly diagnosed the issues but was unable to offer concrete plans. He’s expecting a lot from the Minister of Agriculture who has successfully transformed other nations’ agricultural practices. I expect an agricultural master plan with a focus on research into modern farming methods and adaptation of technology, cultivation of seedlings, land use reform and consolidation, irrigation, local fertilizer production, credit for farmers, establishment of processing facilities and improvement of roads for transporting inputs and produce. Score: 6/10

Security: Not much was said about this perhaps for fear of angering Boko Haram. Score: 3/10

Foreign Policy: Excellent responses to the Libyan crisis and Nigeria’s role in peace keeping operations in Africa. However, he correctly admitted that we don’t seem to have benefited much from playing Big Brother. We should have been entrenched in the Liberian and Sierra Leonean economies by now. No country loves another country to its own detriment. Score: 8/10

Single Tenure: Vague rationale for introducing the idea. Still unclear what benefits Nigerians will get from a single tenure over the current system. Score: 5/10

Judiciary: He admitted the challenge but avoided referring to the removal of Justice Ayo Salami by the NJC. The advice to the Judiciary to reform itself was non-committal and vague. Score: 4/10

Overall Score: 5.5/10

I have no doubts that he has good intentions and means well for Nigeria. I do have doubts about his appreciation for the enormity of the problems of the nation. He is an outsider who has had to rely on the political clout of the PDP cabal to ascend to power. However, he needs to understand that he is now the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the FRN and the nation’s number one citizen. While he cannot solve our problems alone, he has the power to galvanise everyone to action.

He cut the figure of a man who needs help. He needs help because he can’t do it alone. He’s our President so we should wish him well and criticize constructively when needed. On Social Media, there are two distinct camps of people who applaud his every move and those who blindly criticise him. Whichever camp you belong to, we need to agree that we all love Nigeria and if the President succeeds, Nigeria succeeds.

A Scorecard For President Goodluck Jonathan

I read the recently published achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan. The list of achievements include creating new institutions (Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NEBT) Plc), formulating new plans (machinery to establish 37 Skills Acquisition Centers) and a few “tangible” improvements (claims of improvement in power supply). There has been a backlash on popular news sites and Social Media questioning how tangible these achievements.

My first impression is that the list has far too many items, many of which are plans, policies and programmes. While I appreciate the list was published to coincide with the administration’s first 100 days in office, I don’t think the items on the list are weighty enough to be celebrated. When you are cooking soup, you don’t announce to the world that it will be the tastiest treat that has ever titillated their taste buds. Let people decide if the soup is actually worth all the noise.

A preferred approach to indicating progress or otherwise would be to select a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on a national vision and key objectives. In management parlance, this is called a Scorecard. Many multinational companies measure their performance using Total Return To Shareholders (TRS). This indicator shows if the company has added value to its shareholders through capital appreciation and dividend payments. Of course there are other KPIs tied to it but everyone watches just this one number. The lower level KPIs managed by the Leadership Team are often less than 10.

The Government would best be served if a few measurable KPIs are developed which show if a nation is developing or not. The average person doesn’t care about many of the achievements on that list. He is more concerned about food on the table. I suggest a short list of less than 15 items which tell of the current state of things and projects what they will be at the end of this administration. For example, a KPI could be school enrolments in 2011-25%, 2015-55%. This way, all eyes will focus on outcomes and not just activities and plans. These KPIs should have measurable targets against which to assess performance regularly, say quarterly.

The scorecard may contain the usual economic indicators such as GDP, External Debt, Interest and Exchange rates, Capital and Money market efficiency. KPIs could also cover infrastructure e.g kilometres of tarred roads, corruption, poverty, health, education etc.

My top KPIs would be as follows

  1. Hours a day without light
  2. Number of people who can afford Western standard healthcare with less than N5,000 a year
  3. Days without a major security incident
  4. Ability to feed a family with N1000 a week
  5. Time taken to drive from Kano to Lagos

Behind each of these KPIs will be a number of plans and programmes but if these things have not changed by 2015 then we will consider the administration a failure.

In addition, some of the more traditional measures could be included.

  1. Absolute and per Capita GDP Growth
  2. External Debt Levels
  3. Interest Rates
  4. Exchange Rates
  5. Power Generation (and % of generation that actually gets to consumers)
  6. Kilometres of Tarred Roads
  7. % of Nigerians below the poverty line

I believe adopting this transparent approach will give the Government focus especially if visually displayed at Government offices and shared with all Nigerians. If you were to measure the effectiveness of Government, what KPIs would you choose and how would you measure them?