The Case for Project Management in Nigeria

From Babaginda’s SAP, to Obasanjo’s NEEDS, to Yar’Adua’s Seven-Point Agenda, and now, Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda, the Nigerian landscape is well filled with uncompleted and abandoned projects worth trillions, and I mean trillions of Naira going down the drain.

It is no longer news that according to the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee (PPAC) set up by President Goodluck Jonathan to look into cases of abandoned Federal Government projects on submitting its report, identified 11,886 of such ongoing or abandoned Federal Government projects all over the country. The committee also estimated the abandoned projects to be worth over N7 trillion. If projects planned and abandoned by State Governments were to be added to this list, the figure would be considerably much higher. And given that there is an alarming rate of abandoned projects in the country every year, the recorded figures therefore represents an incomplete estimate.

However, no matter the amount and worth of abandoned projects nor the amount of projects that would be executed in the future, both in the public and private sectors of Nigeria, project management can help reduce the amount of failed projects and also help improve the success rates of projects being executed within the country.

Nigeria has a lot of professional, certified and competent Project, Program and Portfolio Managers who understand the country’s culture and are very willing to increase project success rates, create efficiencies in the economic system and improve alignment with the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but the country is yet to accept their value and what they can offer.

Recently, the Federal Government introduced a mechanism that will check contractors and monitor the Millennium Development Goals to ensure poor implementation or abandonment of projects nationwide becomes a thing of the past. Now the question is: “How effective can this mechanism be if it lacks the required human resources?”

Many countries are now discovering that the answer to drastically reduce the effects of the global economic meltdown and deliver great value to its economy lies in a strict project management approach. These countries have understood the value of project management and are attracting more certified and competent Project Managers into its system from around the world. They are also supporting the growth of project management institutes and colleges so as to train and raise more professionals in the field. Is Nigeria among such countries? Have the country understood the value of project management? What support are they contributing to the training of more Project Management Professionals?

The project management culture is still quite low here in Nigeria, most especially in the public sector. The Leaders are not actively supporting the use of project management practices. The country’s resources are not being effectively utilized which result to waste.

Lack of flexibility in the country’s system is the main cause of resources and development not being efficiently transferred which could improve project investments. This leads to gains and losses within the country’s system. For example:
– The oil sector is booming with huge revenues while the power and agricultural sectors are dying slowly. Why can’t we improve those sectors with some of the gains from oil?
– The telecommunication companies in the country are declaring huge annual profits while their mobile and internet services are very poor and even getting worse on a daily basis. Why are the masses being charged enormous rates for poor services?
– More universities are being built and the number of graduates are increasing every year but job opportunities are on the decline, yearly. What is the ratio of job seekers to job opportunities in the country?
– The population of the country is on the rise but the Federal and State Governments have not successfully executed any housing scheme project. The Federal Housing scheme that was initially planned was a failed project.

These are signs of lack of flexibility and total misuse of county’s scarce resources. Being flexible in allocating and balancing the country’s resources from one sector to another, or from project to another within the same sector, is one of the many ways project management adds value to the economy.

We are living in an age of projects and countries that do not invest in sound project management practices not only have lower project success rates, but also risk the loss of more financial resources for every project they manage.

If you are a Project, Program or Portfolio Manager and practicing the profession here in Nigeria, let us all join hands and help transform Nigeria into a first-class country through project management.

Jerry is running a “Project Management Nigeria” group on Facebook and we are on Twitter @Project_Nigeria. We share and discuss the latest projects news and updates within Nigeria and Project Management ideas.

Do you think implementing core project management practices in our system can add value to the economy? What factors do you think can help improve the success rates of projects in Nigeria?

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