I wholeheartedly share the view in a recent sermon by a Ghanian Bishop who harped on how bad dishonesty, and lack of integrity help to oil the wheel of stagnation among African countries.
Ask Nigerians the major cause of our backwardness; the majority will predictably blame it on leadership, particularly political leadership. We blame the government for the lack or failure of infrastructures, unemployment, insecurity, bad business climate, and just about all manner of the blame game.
What many Nigerians fail to realise is that one of the major causes of unemployment in Nigeria is dishonesty, to steal in the workplace. The majority of Nigerians, educated or not, skilled or artisans want to get rich overnight without the dignity of labour, at the expense of employers.
And as the Ghanaian Bishop noted, the reason high-profile black African investors are more disposed to hiring Asians, North Americans and Europeans to manage their businesses is not for lack of requisite skills in their respective home countries. It is not because those in Africa are unemployable.
The major motivation is that investors have found out that foreign managers are more honest and committed to prudent management of resources to maximise profit and grow the business.
Experiences have shown that most of the Indian and Asian expatriates are hired with minimal skills or certifications and they come to tap from the experiences of skilled locals to make a success of investments they are engaged to manage.
Back home, whether skilled or unskilled, an employee wants to become a millionaire/billionaire overnight without honest earnings at the expense of the employer, whether in public or private sector engagement.
No country can develop with this attitude. The Ghanaian pastor has spoken the truth but nothing but the truth. As he noted, mobilise funds to set up poultry and engage artisans or experts to run, they will steal your eggs or wilfully kill the birds as though they died naturally so they can have you ‘dash out’ to them to eat.
Acquire a truck or passenger bus and engage a driver, he would want to divert a lion’s share of the income into his pocket by cheating on fuel purchase, repairs of vehicle, run the business down, then look for the next victim to fleece.
Most people can’t own and manage private cars not because they don’t have the money to purchase one, but because mechanics are too dishonest, they would exaggerate car problems, inflate the cost of replacement parts and make owning a car such a scary liability for most average Nigerians.
Incidentally, the pastors who have created scams out of the church are also a big part of the problem. Many desperately spring up a church for any edification of God or salvation of man, but to extort from the majority of poor congregations by inducing fear of God and the unknown. Pastors have become praise singers who reserve special prayers for corrupt politicians or individuals of questionable wealth to induce material favours from them.
Even the foreigners we rely on are not perfect or impeccable in character. Some come so clean and they get sucked into the endemic corruption in our society. Dishonesty and lack of integrity among stakeholders is the reason oil theft cannot abate, public refineries can’t work.
Until we embrace a reasonable measure of honesty in the workplace and business dealings, black Africa will continue to suffer arrested development.
June 10, 2022
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