Every strategic manager understands the importance and principles that guide successful project management. This starts with clear objective with regards to project viability, documented tactical process; shrewd resource management as well as clear outcome before embarking on any journey.
Unfortunately, when it comes to public fund, emotion and populist theory often take the centre stage. Projects are products of popularity, ego contest instead of strict adherence to fundamental business principles. If this is not the case, how does one describe the botched Nigeria Airways’ project embarked upon by the federal government which had wasted Nigerians’ hard-earned money?
If the rumour going around is anything to go by, an alleged 1N billion naira or more had gone down the drain before the federal government suspended the project a few days ago. One wonders how a government which constantly complains of lean resource pursued a project many reasonable Nigerians had already maintained was dead on arrival.
One, previous and present regimes in Nigeria have never been known to be great business managers. Funds are allocated, in most cases, in pursuance of selected and private agendas. White elephant projects camouflaged as service to fatherland as well national image laundering in the past wasted huge sums with no actual benefits to the Nigerian populace. Yet succeeding governments never learn any good lessons from such.
While the project in itself is laudable, a path of honour government should have followed is to allow core business technocrats in aviation and finance sectors to lead the initiative instead of being pushed majorly by government officials.
A government which demands citizens’ patronage of made in Nigeria services and products to go abroad and shop for Nigeria Airways brand identity development reeks of hypocrisy. A few million of US dollars, according to the grapevine, was budgeted for what a one-room office agency stuffed with marketing communications experts in Nigeria can do. It is very obvious Nigeria is blessed with many of such agencies.
As if that financial foolishness did not call for a concern, government went ahead to organize a lavish launching event in the United Kingdom for the brand identity only. That event alone would have cost government a fortune. Given our tradition of ‘estacode loving’ officials, key people whose presence would be necessary would have struggled to be included in the trip while a huge number of idle officials who crave for estacode would be in large numbers.
In the first instance, how many shrewd businessmen will launch brand identity of a product that is not yet available for purchase? Yes, we do know aviation industry has its own technicality. But what is wrong with government organising a meeting with qualified and ready investors in the project by inviting them to the country. If properly done, genuine investors who would have picked their own bills will come from all over the world. But since public fund is what we are talking about here, the other route seemed attractive.
Now that it seemed the party is over and the dust is gradually settling, government has seen a good reason to suspend the project after all. We must give it to them someone has started thinking right instead of insisting on foolish continuity.
The questions to ask are: have we learned any lesson or will things continue the same way? Will government ever have the courage to discipline someone? Will a re-evaluation of the process encourage going ahead or total abandonment of the project? Will government be bold enough to clear the rumour around over 1N billion naira allegedly spent on this project by coming out to state the real figure?