By Chris Biose
First Published in the Daily Times, Wednesday, January 2, 1974 Page 27
The decree on Nigerian Enterprises Promotion was promulgated in 1972 to bring about increased indigenous control of the economy.
The success of the indigenization scheme cannot however, be measured simply by paper transfer of ownership, or sales of shares. It must bring about effective control by Nigerians and ultimately, improved standards of living for the people.
The question then arises as to how far the success of the scheme can be reasonably ensured. It is gratifying that the Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry has been set up to provide necessary finance. In addition, a good number of much needed qualified personnel are produced yearly by our universities.
Nevertheless, Nigeria’s social problems are not only educational and economic; they also pertain to moral as well.
In addition to what can be casually observed, empirical research done on the business-habits of Nigerians had shown very discouraging results. The ‘squandermania-complex’ of the Nigerian ‘elite’ is ever on the increase. There is minimal enterprising spirit. There is an overwhelming element of distrust among Nigerians because they are still parochial in their thinking. So there is very little pooling of resources.
Also, in the country today, employment is based on kinship, Nigerians are yet to learn to employ the most capable hands in place of nearest relatives.
However, it should be remembered that individuals operate within the context of the social environment. Since the individual and for that matter, an organization is a system of roles, the environment tends to impinge on the system in terms of expectations, defined values, and norms of behaviour.
The government should therefore take steps to relate important policy decisions to this social fact. That is to say, economic measures must be related to social values, norms, and established behavior patterns of the people.
It is difficult to change only a given aspect of society while holding others constant. Such a change is likely to be resisted or neutralised by other inter-related organs of society. The approach must be total.
Great projects have been known to fail because of some errors in planning, some important though not too obvious factors ignored. The ideas, beliefs, and values of a people must be congruent with the social institutions which they establish.
And of course people are genuinely convinced of the uprightness of their cultural upbringing. They are used to thinking and acting in a particular manner. They cannot therefore easily rise above their thinking habits and examine themselves in an unbiased way.
Nevertheless these questions relating to the business habits of the average Nigerian, deriving from certain social forces need not be disquieting. The government can seek the service of our social scientists to attack these problems of our age. Every citizen should be involved in the indigenization and should share in its profits.
CHRISTOPHER BIOSE, University of Lagos.