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THE TANGIBLE LESSONS COVID-19 PANDEMIC SHOULD TEACH AFRICAN LEADERS

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The first case of COVID-19 was reported by South Morning China Post on November 17, 2019, and since then, it’s become a pandemic. The extent of the spread was not in man’s imagination, and anyone that would have predicted it may have been ridiculed by the entire globe, but today, its devastating effects on lives, economies, and how many people it’s rendered furlough is unbelievable.

The pandemic has also exposed a lot of weaknesses in leadership, shaken institutional foundations, and made a mockery of nations, who for years have had chief executives that plundered every sector of their economies. It has also exposed the genius in man, as he began to think the innovative pathway. In the pandemic as well, we’ve seen those whose lives are immersed in ludicrous conspiracy theories – may God help them!

Data Capture

When the pandemic began, developed nations focused on data – developing nations focused on conspiracy. The first lie was that black people are immune to coronavirus – data has long proven that conspiracy theory wrong, as lots of black people and ethnic minorities in the US and the UK have been the major victims of the disease.

As scientists in developed worlds are collecting data and using mathematical and scientific models to monitor the behaviour of the virus in order to kill it, African leaders are compiling lies to be used in collecting more financial aids from global finance institutions, and state governments within African nations, especially Nigeria, are ramping up the numbers of tested cases in their localities so as to get more money from the centre.

A data based on falsehood hampers development. The purpose of data, according to The Council on Quality and Leadership are improvement of lives, making informed decisions, stopping molehills from turning into mountains, getting the results you want, finding solutions to problems, backing up your arguments, stopping the guessing game, being strategic in approaches, knowing what you’re doing well, keeping track of it all, making the most of your money, and accessing the resources around you.

Without data capture and analysis, the development of any society or organisation will be at a standstill because data tells you where you are, and its analysis tells you what you should do to get to where you want to be. To wriggle out of the pandemonium of a pandemic, every decision made must be based on quality data, and it’s on its analysis that predictions must be made.

African nations don’t have quality data capture mechanisms, in spite of having national offices of statistics. Going forward, after this pandemic, this is a major lesson that should be learnt by its leaders. We need true data, if we must compete with the rest of the world!

Building Infrastructures

“I can tell you for sure, I never knew that our entire healthcare infrastructure was in the state in which it is. Until I was appointed to do this work,” said the secretary to the federal government of Nigeria. He never knew because he never used it. You don’t know what you don’t use. And just like his colleagues, he was a regular medical tourist to the UK, so he wouldn’t know that the state of healthcare infrastructure in a nation he’s secretary of state was in dilapidation.

The late chief of staff to the president of Nigeria also didn’t know about the state of infrastructures in the nation. He only started knowing when he tested positive for coronavirus, and all flights from Nigeria to the UK were prevented from landing. At that point, he started asking how many ventilators Nigeria had. But when he usurped his position by instructing that the ministry of agriculture be responsible for procurements for the ministry of health, it made no sense to him that the nation was at a tipping point.

African leaders never build infrastructures – the state of various institutions are heart rending, and makes anyone who is concerned have insomnia. I heard on BBC News that the whole of South Sudan has two ventilators. How much is a ventilator that a nation can’t buy in multiples, if not for leaders that are corrupt and are without visions? So, for this and many other reasons, African diasporas are disrespected and made to feel like they’re privileged to live in foreign lands – our fellow black people from other continents are also disrespected because Africa sets the pace of how all black nations or people are treated.

Digitisation

The lockdown due to the pandemic has refreshed in innovative minds the need to improve the online learning platforms. Many universities and colleges, primary and secondary schools, in advanced worlds have diverted all lessons to virtual classrooms. High speed broadband has made it possible.

To see people decry the installation of 5G technology, especially the educated ones, makes you wonder the type of education they had. And to hear the Nigerian education minister suggest, or may be, direct that the universities should receive lectures during the lockdown on a national TV and radio stations that are still terrestrial makes you lose consciousness.

The world has moved from traditional method of delivering education to digital approaches – there’s no longer West and East Germany – the Berlin wall was pulled down November 1989 – so step up, or you’ll be pushed into the abyss.

Our education system need revamping – a great lesson to learn.

Stay Away from the Herbalist Mentality

Many years ago, when Toyota was to go into car manufacturing, they visited Ford to see their strategy, and realised that they did mass production. Then, Toyota didn’t have the resources and the market to go that way, so they came back home to think. And at home, after a period of brainstorming, they came up with Kaizen, Jidoka and Heijunka. Kaizen means continuous improvement. Jidoka means intelligent automation or humanised automation. Heijunka means production levelling which reduces the mura (unevenness) which in turn reduces the muda (waste).

In their strategy, waste is completely eliminated in demand and supply. For instance, if Toyota orders a raw material, it must not be delivered before or after the date they want it – no earlier or later delivery. And if a customer orders a car, their production process finishes on the date the customer wants it, and they deliver immediately. Due to that, no inventory is held.

This was a strategy that helped cut the cost of production and made their cars cheaper, and with this approach, they displaced the US car giants from their top positions.

This strategy caught the attention of great global institutions, and they went to Toyota’s head office in Japan to study it. After the study, they summed it up as LEAN SYNCHRONISATION.
Lean synchronisation today, is a topic under operations management and processes. All top grade business schools study it as part of the MBA program.

Why all this long story?

Our forefathers had herbalists. These herbalists knew a lot about medicine. In the yore, they used it to cure people that were sick. Everything looked fine, but ignorance and selfishness.
The herbalists wanted our forefathers to assume that they had extra powers, and that only them could cure those illnesses. So they chose not to share their knowledge with anyone. When they died, the knowledge died.

They would go into the forests, make some stupid incantations, and after that, confuse whoever was with them before plucking the leaves meant for medicines. Their selfishness truncated the transfer of knowledge, and because of that, African medicine went across no boundaries.

Toyota shared their knowledge. Today, they get the credit. They didn’t use voodoo mentality to hide their knowledge – they shared it, and that didn’t stop their business. They’re still one of the biggest automotive companies in the world.

We share no knowledge. We make everything mystical so that people will look up to us, and when they do, we monetise it. We still haven’t changed. Africa. Black man. Individualism. “Me alone should make it” mentality. The herbalist Mentality. A lesson to be learnt.

I believe that Africa already has a cure, or had the cure for coronavirus hundreds of years ago. Our setbacks have been our attitude. Same attitude that makes our leaders steal the money meant for all, and meant for generations. The herbalist mentality!

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Ken is a leadership Motivation, Strategy and Personal Development Writer, Blogger and Speaker. He writes for a number of magazines and blogs. He is also a mentor and published author of several books.

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