Am here to participate in the ethical lecture series sponsored by Harvard Business School Association of Nigeria. It is one in the series of such lectures, but this is the first time am participating in the lecture.
Africa, like some other countries, has leadership problem, how best can this challenge be overcome
Well, the people I have so far met and interacted with since I arrived in Nigeria have been different kinds of people. They are very strong and professional, and have been doing well trying to run their organisations in the most ethical way. The essence of the lecture is to address the leadership problem, and help emphasise the need for others to imbibe the ethical culture.
What is your advice to African leaders on how to move the continent from where it is now to where it is supposed to be
Africa is now the most exciting continent on the planet because of the numerous opportunities and people have to open up the frontiers. And I am very optimistic about the future of the continent because many people have begun to do something differently to reposition the continent, and that, to me is the way to go.
I think it is by making sure that things are done the right way. Sessions like the HBSAN lectures create the opportunity to talk about such issues. I actually think that there have been such sessions; leaders must take advantage of such opportunities.
You are a specialist in Corporate Accountability, what advice do you have for leaders on the need to be accountable
I think the issue of accountability has to do with individuals. You see, many businesses have to change their pattern because their customers will not like to be cheated. Leaders at all levels must be accountable to be able to enjoy the confidence of those they are leading. In business or in government, accountability is key to achieving success. We must always emphasise it.
Have you visited Nigeria before this time
Yeah, this is actually the first time I have been here.
Nigeria is blessed with enormous human and material resources, how do you think these resources can be best harnessed for the good of the people
I believe in the power of individuals in contributing to solving the problem in society. From the people I have spoken with since I came, I have got to know what the problems are and I think one of the ways to get out of the problem is for people who think the same way, who are not satisfied with the way things are, to get together to talk about how possibly to move things in the proper direction. People must see it as their responsibility to try to make the society better. This, they can do, by doing their businesses in such a way that people can see how businesses can be done better. I think it has to do with how people see what they do, how they carry on their businesses. If people really decide to do things in different way, things will be a lot better because there’s huge opportunity here.
How did you feel when you were invited to Nigeria for the event
I was very apprehensive, I must be very candid. I must say it took me quite a while to make up my mind. In the end I considered it an opportunity to come to see for myself what is going on in Nigeria and to contribute my quota in promoting ethical practices in business. I did have hesitations, I must say.
Morality is a relative term, where do we draw the line between a moral leader and a moral teacher, or even a moral preacher
A moral preacher is one who imparts the knowledge while a moral leader is one you can admire and emulate. Moral teacher is one who tells people what is right to do and how things should be done properly. As a moral teacher, I help people to understand the questions they should be asking themselves. So we advocate that those who occupy leadership positions must be moral leaders.
If you had the opportunity of meeting with Nigeria’s president one on one, what would you have told him on governance
I would have appreciated his efforts, but advised him to endeavour to run a very good government where every citizen will have a sense of belonging. I would have told him that if he really wants to make Nigeria the engine of African economy, it would have to depend on how government provides the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. So, much depends on the role of government.
What is your fear for Africa, particularly, Nigeria
I think my greatest fear for Africa is the widening gap between those who have money and those who do not have. I am particularly worried about the young people who do not have money and do not have opportunity. If the problem is not solved, it is a recipe for chaos and anarchy in society. Closing the gap between those who have and those who do not have will be in the interest of the continent and governments must address the issue as a matter of urgency.