Economic recovery and growth plan depends on requisite manpower, says Usman
In this interview with the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Management Development (CMD), Dr Kabir Kabo Usman, he advocates an end to quack management consultants and justifies why the Center is regulating the activities of management consultants and management development institutions in the country. He spoke to Igho Akeregha, Abuja Bureau Chief and Adamu Abuh in Abuja.
Usman, roundly described as a visionary master trainer and motivator recalls how he was able to fix the CMD for the good of the country and called for a review of the CMD Act enacted in 1976 to meet contemporary challenges.
According to him: “A seven-year journey is a long journey. So, if I were to speak extensively about the entire history and the challenges, it may take about 24 hours but I would summarize. I remember the 8th of January, 2010, when I was asked a question by my Minister (of National Planning, Dr Shamsuddeen Usman) “are you going to CMD?” I said “Yes.” He then said “You have been appointed the Director General! Go and transform the Centre for Management Development. So, that was a very big challenge for me because I need to think in terms of a strategic plan, possibly a three or a five-year plan to get to take the centre to a reputable destination.
“I took that upon myself and considered it was based on trust and honour and a privilege to serve my country. When I went to the Centre for Management Development, I think on 19th January, 2010, I had to take-over from my previous colleague and discovered that there were quite a lot of challenges. He (the former DG) did his best but we have to build from there. There were quite a lot of things I had to focus on. And I was trying my best to keep it simple. I said well, looking at the current situation, there might be about six key areas of my own interest to contribute my quota to transform the Centre and make it world class.”
“The first thing I did was to look at the staff development and conducted staff skills audit of all the staff to see their capacity and or lack of it, their competences their capabilities and check their relevant qualifications so that people can be placed where they can be very productive.
“And I didn’t stop there. We discovered there were capacity gaps, there were skills shortage areas, so, and we really have to work very hard with a lot of my members of the team, with particular reference to very key Directors. We have gone round the country to try to look for collaboration and partnerships particularly with relevant agencies that are coming to support us; from the UNDP, Chinese Counsellor and USAID, DFID, EU and others.
“And we managed to send over 100 of our staff to overseas training and that is a significant achievement. Because that should be the starting point as we need to make sure that we have the people who have the relevant skills and capacity to support the activities of the Centre. We then looked at our strategic plan and how we can reposition the Centre. To reposition the Centre, it means we need to look at the mandate of the Centre and also the Act of the Council (National Council for Management Development). Because we have a Council and we also have the Centre.
“The essence of establishing the Centre is to respond to make sure that the Council deliver its mandate. And part of that critical mandate is to advise the Minister of Budget and National Planning. And we also have to make sure that there is quality assurance put in place about training in Nigeria in areas of management development in the country.
“We have to make sure that there is an impact assessment. We have to make sure there is training needs analysis and assessment to identify skill gaps not only at federal government level but also at state level. So, we set the goal for that, and that was the basis for us to produce brochures, spreadsheets and other literature in areas where capacity should be built. And that was what we felt we should so as to ensure quality assurance of management development in the country.
“We have done that and we looked into areas of planning and budgeting, we looked into areas of project management and performance management system, good governance with strategic leadership and change management.
“So that is what we had to do in the areas of addressing that to ensure that the Centre is relevant and is producing the result that is enshrined in our mandate. We also established Zonal Offices. In those days there were just liaison offices. We have now got six Zonal Offices that are operational. For the North-Central it is in Makurdi. For the North-West it is Kano. The North-East is in Gombe. The South-South is in Uyo. The South-East is in Owerri and the South-West is Ibadan. That is a very important step for us. And the vision was to take the programme to the people. If the people cannot come to us we should go to them.
“Other thing we also did was that we looked at CMD Office in Lagos. We made it (to become) operational. We brought in a lot of (activities) work. We did training for the Nigeria Police Force. We also had workshops and Trainings about public private partnership, procurement, strategic leadership and middle management manpower.
“And after another critical assessment of the Centre, we realized that the five departments were inadequate so I increased them to eight departments. The reason why we have done that is because we needed ICT so that we can improve the quality of methodology in terms of trainings in the e-learning platforms.
“We also looked at accreditation so that all management consultants operating in the country must be accredited and if you are not accredited by CMD, then you are operating illegally. So we have to make sure that we train at least one thousand management consultants. And of cause, the Management Development Institutions and also the consultants that are operating across the country; we trained and certified over two hundred of them.
And within eight months, we worked very hard, we did a lot of trainings, we generated enough internal revenue and with the support of the Office of the Head of Service through the MDG Fund and we were able to buy this office. The value of this office was initially N450 million, we negotiated to N300 million, at the end we paid N250 million to get this office. And now the value of this edifice is N1.3 billion. And we did that because we want to secure this as collateral to enable us have public-private partnership to enable us build our corporate headquarters. We have got the design, we are talking about this PPP initiative, by the time we conclude that, CMD will be financially independent in the next five years or ten years, so that it will no longer rely on government for funding.
“Also at the Zonal Offices, we requested for plots of land from the State governments and luckily we got some and we are developing them. Provisions were made in the 2017 budget for CMD’s capital projects and if approved, we will be to make sure that the North-West zonal office in Kano becomes operational and possibly upgrade the structures of the other five zonal offices across the country.
“We have also done quite a lot in terms of accreditation and issues about quality assurance, issues about impact assessment and I really want to emphasize that this is a very important activity to us because some management consultants moving around with briefcase are not doing what they are supposed to do in terms of providing quality training. Some are compromised, but we have ensured that this is not the case. We gave the Carrot and not the Stick to support training agencies with benchmarks, with guidelines, with rules and regulations so that they can operate in a very ethical manner. We are instrumental to the quality training that is been provided by the Office of the Head of Service in collaboration with the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, ASCON, and the Public Service Institute. We have done that to thousands over the period that I have been the DG of CMD. We have also done quite a lot in terms of partnerships in collaboration with many other agencies of the government mainly the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS and other management development agencies.
“We provided a lot of trainings to EFCC, ICPC and many other agencies of government that we felt have strategic responsibility of moving the country to the next level. And to say the least we got partnership with the African Capacity Building Foundation that is based in Zimbabwe. It is actually a project that was created in the UK out of concern of some Africans about lack of capacity in the African region. The foundation gave us a grant and we did a lot of training for about ten years (from 2004 to 2013).
“The grant was $700,000 but we started using the funds in 2010 when I came. We used half of this fund for training in planning and budgeting across the country and it was free as the participants were not charged, rather we provided feeding, accommodation and rest of it to the participants. And that was the basis of enhanced planning and budgeting which we are trying to support the activities of departments of Planning, Research and Statistics of the MDAs in the country.
“We provide training in the areas of project management so that we have relevant projects that are going to add value to our people. So there is quite a lot of that. There is also the local content agenda because there was a Circular from the Office of the Head of Service those civil servants should not just go for overseas training except and unless they got an approval that the kind of training cannot be acquired in Nigeria. So, when you look at it and to be very honest with ourselves, we get about 500,000 Nigerians going for one training or the other overseas..
We work closely with the Office of the Head of Service to produce a National Development Plan for the country. Because we are saying that look, how many Engineers, Doctors, Nurses, do we have? And how many do we need and how many do we use to have? This should be the instrument of planning. And (as we planned) we are expecting to get some funds in the 2017 budget and if that is approved, then we will get the facts to tell Nigerians that for example we have two million architects in the country, two million nurses, two million doctors, then, these will really help us in our strategic plan. The Minister has worked together with President to launch the plan on economic recovery and growth plan in the country from 2017 to 2020. This is an excellent document that we must actually use but there has to be the requisite manpower in order to deliver the plan. So, we are going to add value to that.
“Finally we worked with the Head of Service to produce a document in terms of National Training Policy. If you are employed or you are an employee, where is the agreement and where is the requisite or requirement that you have to be trained for a year? We need to have a training policy so that everybody must have the right to training. And we said people should get training even if it will be one per cent of their personnel.
“We now live in a globalized world and the only way we can move forward is to have a knowledge based economy. A knowledge based economy must be based on knowledge, skills and the right attitude to transform our country.
“Literarily, we are doing our best but we are hampered by funding. There aren’t adequate funds for us to go round the country. So it is very challenging for us. Now we have to ask people to register and there is a registration and subscription fees so that we can generate revenue that will enable us do accreditation visits with the highest sense of duty among other activities. Certainly there are people who will say if you don’t do this things you should cease to operate but these people on the contrary are cooperating very well though there are a couple of occasions when we attempted taking defaulters to court. We could have done so but we did not want to raise it to a big issue that will create controversy.
“This year, we are starting our accreditation in May across the country and you will see me with Policemen going round and wherever sanctions need to be applied, it will be applied. Not only that, we are working very hard to link up with partners in each zone who will give us intelligence reports about the operations of quack management consultants and those operating without licence. All of them will be brought to book and the necessary action will be taken against them.
“Now the funding regime is well supported in the 2017 budget. It will enable us to among other things, apply sanctions to anybody who does not conform to the rules and regulations and or violates the law. We are very much concerned with quack management consultants who move about with brief case and collect money from unsuspecting clients. They run programmes that are supposed to be done in five days but are done in two days and even certificates are issued.
I am warning everybody that training is not the same as welfare. Training is mandatory for staff development and it enhances professional development. You cannot do without enhancing and consolidating your skills.”
On how the CMD is impacting on the three tiers of government. “One of the most important aspects of our responsibilities is standard setting and giving direction on the type of programmes the country require in terms of the prerequisite manpower. So we have done quite a lot of work in the areas of the executives so we felt we have done quite a lot of that especially in areas of manpower management, leadership, anti-corruption, budgeting, public-private partnership, performance management system, ethics, values and decision making etc.
“We have also done a lot for the local governments. We trained councilors, heads of finance, heads of primary healthcare and heads of education departments. We specifically focused on budgeting and areas of finances and results based and monitoring and evaluation. If you say you have a project, we say yes but where is it? What value does it add? What impact has it made? So we have devised all those kind of programmes and we have done some of them in Kaduna, Gombe and a couple of other states. Our position is “take it and use it.” domesticate it.
“We presented training programmes to the National Assembly and I wrote to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and informed them of our willingness to train members of the National Assembly on Strategic Leadership and Change Management to tackle the issues of Corruption, Lack of Infrastructure and so on and so forth.
“We also wrote to the Political Parties to acquaint them with our mandate and programmes. We requested to see their manifestoes, what were their promises (to the electorates) during the campaigns, what are now their commitments to the people and how are they going to translate that? Who are the people they are presenting to contest and do they know their expectations? For example, if you want to become a Senator then what is the role of a Senator or to become a member of the House of Representatives, or Governor or Councillor then you have to know what will be your role if elected. All these require prior training on management skills.
“We have also proposed training programmes to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) so as to engage the staff in tutoring them on their responsibilities.
We are also interested in knowing if there is a synergy between INEC and the Political Parties and also the electorates.”
“We have done all these but not all will actualize because after presenting these proposals to the various agencies some of them do engage private management consultants to run the trainings and we say no problem we will not stop them because what we are interested in is the acquisition of the knowledge.