Implementation: The Bane Of African Leadership

By Omopeju Afanu

Are African leaders as bad as they appear to be? Taking a close look at the happenings across Africa during this great pandemic, it brought so much to the fore.

The people make the leaders! What type of people are we as a whole? Do we trust each other? Can we be trusted? Do we love each other? If majority of the people are bad, the likelihood of the leader being good is pretty slim.

Leaders should focus more on the effective implementation of their projects and programmes; whereby they don’t just lead from top-down but also from bottom-up. This could be achieved by creating a system to help them assess the impact of their plans so they are not merely proposing lofty projects or programmes meant to enrich or empower the people but actually checking to be sure the objectives are being met.

Governance should be handled as a business while the leaders are the CEO. When Projects or programmes are proposed, teams are created to implement the project and they effectively monitor for success or continued viability by ensuring the deliverables or outcomes are achieved. If they are not, they revise it and when it’s certain the project or programme is no longer working or would never work, they shut it down so it doesn’t end up as a drain pipe. 

Typical examples of the failed implementation plan are the various palliatives (money and food) from different arms of government which have hardly gotten to the underserved. For instance, the Lagos Government’s specially packaged food probably got to only 5-10% of the underserved because the implementation got botched without any further investigation into what went wrong. The new “Daily Food Kitchen” programme may suffer the same fate, ending up as another white elephant project with less than 30% impact achieved.

Another notch in the competency of the leader, further worsening the faith the people have in the government and ultimately the LEADER.

Credit: Omopeju Afanu

Why can’t the implementation be seamless with minimum 80% success? Use the existing channels to break the bulk and distribute in batches of 50-200 to a central point (churches, mosques, public schools etc) on every street in the local government and people; while at the same time collecting data on number of beneficiaries and quality of the meals or the satisfaction level of beneficiaries for effective profiling of the suppliers and general assessment of the process and project.

It is rather unfortunate that our leaders are disconnected from the bottom of the pyramid as a result of bureaucracy and sycophants, which in essence, always make them look inefficient and lacking empathy towards the needs and sufferings of the people. They need to get credible independent feedback directly from the bottom of the pyramid on the impact of projects and programmes they approve.

Until they get the implementation process and feedback right, African leaders would largely remain unsuccessful in truly making the much needed impact they actually desire as laid out in their election manifesto.

Dr. Afanu is a Management Consultant. She writes from Lagos, Nigeria, via

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