Thursday, 25 September 2008

Nigeria's Productivity Is On The Slide

This is the response of the Director General, Nigeria Productivity Centre, NPC, Dr. Paul Mari Bdliya to NIGERIAN NEWSWORLD questions on pertinent issues concerning the centre’s activities

Considering Nigeria's economic status and development since independence, what is the country's productivity rate and capacity now?

It is difficult to give you an exact figure as Nigeria's Productivity but we can say that Nigeria's productivity is on the low side. This is evident from the abundant symptoms of low productivity around us in the economy. These include low to medium capacity utilization of our manufacturing industries (often quoted to be between 35-55 per cent), decaying infrastructure, epileptic power supply, general poor work ethics and attitudes, poor service delivery especially by government agencies, high level of corruption, non-implementation of projects and weak or even non-functional institutions including operational problems in all tiers of governance. We have no doubt made some progress as a nation since independence but given our resources, it is the general belief that Nigeria's productivity rate should be at least average if not high by now.

How would you assess the productivity indices in the country's socio-economic sector over the last five decades?

This question relates to the first. Again, let me say that we have made substantial progress since independence in almost all sectors of our economy: manufacturing, transport, commerce, energy, petroleum and gas, education, health. Sectoral annual productivity indices for the past 20 years show some ups and downs in almost all the sectors measured. This means that even when and where the country had made productivity increases, they have not been consistent and sustainable.

How much contribution has the term 'productivity' made to the socio-economic growth of the country?

This is also difficult to measure but you see that productivity as a word and perhaps as a concept to some people is used every now and then when we speak of socio-economic development of a country. This simply means that the word and hopefully, its concept appear to people as one tool for economic development and growth. The challenge now is to make more Nigerians aware of the meaning and concept of productivity as a tool for economic development and growth and eventually attain better living standards. So, coming back to the question, I would say the word 'productivity' has contributed to some appreciable degree, especially among the elites for socio-economic growth.

Nigerians and indeed a larger section of the international community maintain that Nigeria's economy has been stagnant for several years now, if not for a larger part of its independence history. Considering the essence of productivity in economic growth and your centre as the main tool for stimulating it, would you say it has done much to move the economy forward?

The centre has done fairly well over the years since its establishment in stimulating the citizenry towards productivity improvement for economic growth within our very limited financial resources. I must say that the concept productivity alone cannot make the nation grow economically. Productivity improvement works best when all other socio-economic variables are in place. These include- education, skills (fiscal, political, trade, etc).
However, through our various programmes, we have continued to reach out to Nigerians being the catalyst we are and by and large, we have appealed to some minds. This we feel is our contribution as one of the numerous activities by government and the public to assist Nigerians imbibe the culture of productivity.

How much effort has the centre made in the creation and establishment of productivity enhancement instruments across the country's economic terrain?

The centre has inaugurated over 20 state productivity committees across the country in our attempt to reach the grassroots. For instance, Productivity and Quality Improvement Scheme, PIS, has been installed in over 15 small and medium enterprises in the country. This has assisted businesses improve their productivity

There is also in-plant trainings and consultancy especially in the agricultural sector, where the centre has trained about 500 FADAMA Community Association members in Kaduna State. Over 60 workshops, seminars and conferences were held as part of our awareness and training of Productivity Personnel. We have observed seven National Productivity Day and conferred the National Productivity Order of Merit, NPOM, award on over 20 productive organizations and over 190 individuals to serve as motivation.

How enormous are the challenges facing your centre with regards to its statutory roles and duties amidst the multiplying constraints and emerging complexities for the country's socio-economic growth according to the emerging world order?

The major challenges facing the centre are of course in the area of low funding. Productivity awareness requires that we reach the grassroots and sustain our presence with the productivity message always. This could be through physical presence, the electronic and print media. These are expensive. Also considering our multi-lingual nature, this becomes more complex and challenging. Also, to be fully effective, NPC has to be able to assist as many companies and organizations in order to improve their productivity and competitiveness.

The National Productivity Centre acts as the secretariat to the National Productivity Order of Merit Award. Can you please briefly enlighten our readers on this award and the criteria for nomination for the award?

The National Productivity Order of Merit Award was instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Productivity Centre in 1991 in order to recognize and honour at national level, the most productive individuals and organizations in Nigeria in the year of the respective awards for achievements made in the three preceding years. All Nigerians resident in the country and all organizations operating in Nigeria are eligible for the award.

President Umar Musa Yar'adua has outlined a seven-Point Agenda designed to make the Nigeria’s economy one of the 20 largest economies in the world in 2020. How is the Centre repositioning to effectively key in and play a vital role in the actualization of Mr. President's reform programme?

In line with its vision of becoming a world class productivity institution and a key player in realizing Nigeria's overall growth and development objectives, the Centre in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in July 2007 at a ministerial retreat identified some core issues that are challenges to productivity improvement. By addressing these core issues, the centre would effectively key into the seven-Point Agenda.

Given the many challenges confronting NPC, What is the way forward for the centre?

The way forward for the Centre in the midst of all the many challenges confronting it would include addressing of the following major issues:

· Increased funding of the centre by government and the private sector
· Strengthening the capacity of the centre as an institution and its staff
Promoting the Nigerian productivity movement which would involve the active support of major stakeholders - the business, industry, workers, government, academia, communities, the press and other interested groups.

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