OPINION: PMB, Aisha and the ecology of public administration
This piece is substantially provoked by a recent debate on the social media. The debate is initiated by one Mr. Tobias Chukwukerue Amara, a Public Administration and Management expert and senior lecturer, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba. In his argument, Amara is of the opinion that the recent outburst between President Muhammadu Buhari and the First Lady, Aisha was blown out of proportion.
"Ecology of public administration in it's simplest sense means the environment in which public administration is practiced. It varies from Europe to America to Asia to Africa and Nigeria, typified by the Ibo, Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani, has her own public ecology and idiosyncrasies.
" I see the whole saga as unwarranted and diversionary. Let us stop forthwith the dissipation of company's time on this triviality, especially considering that the German Chancellor reacted on the strength of her public administration ecology to a statement made by our president on the strength of his peculiar public administration environment. The duo may have been ignorant of Fred Wrigg's contribution but if you ask me I would say let us protect our own".
Amara's thread on the social media generated mixed reactions: Some commentators opposed his postulation while some commented in its favour. One of the strong arguments was held by Chinenye Ehiodo, another seasoned lecturer and pubic administrator, who postulated thus:"Remember that we are in a global village now with a benchmark of minimum standard of what is acceptable globally of a Democratic president of a nation at the center of world politics not President of the Fulani herdsmen, the prism is not ecology but a shift in paradigm which the ineffectual president living in slumber is not in tune . when coming to international arena break through your ecology and become civilized to avoid global condemnation.
" Effective Public Administration is measured by global standard of practice while ecology remains constant, therefore the president acted wrongly as usual and the discourse is at the front burner of our national question and cannot be over emphasized within the new world order".
"Good governance which include non discrimination on the bases of sex and religion is the focal point if I am not misunderstood in my own liberal theoretical position different from conservative traditional position. Following the existing protocol established by you, I equally rest the matter for other people with divergent views and that is why we are scholars and social scientists in particular".
The credit of analysing public administration based on ecology is attributed to Fred Riggs. Simply captured, Riggs argument suggests that because of "the clear influence of the environment upon society and mode of living of the people pubic administration and ecology have come to be related. The nutshell of this argument is that environment plays a key role in public administration .Interactions between human beings in a given society.
There has been a concensus among administrators, ecologists, scientists, environmentalists and politicians— everyone admits that" the interaction between society and environment or ecology cannot be denied and whenever a policy is going to be formulated this type of interaction must properly be taken into account". The bottomine of this argument is that "an administrator must formulate policies considering the most important idea that environment has clear influence on administration. In other words, ecology, environment and administration are closely interlinked.
No matter where the argument swings, the divides may, to an extent,be right or wrong. The point is that we should not celebrate cultural barriers or inhibitions on the altar of effectual leadership. Arguably, though culture may be universal in nature, its application may be influenced by the environment. That is why it is always necessary to situate theories on the context of the local environment.
On the other hand, culture defines the way of life of a people-language, food, customs and traditions. Another basic truth is that culture is fluid than static. Culture is dynamic and complex because humans communicate and express their cultural systems in a variety of ways. Besides, globalisation has collapsed different cultures of the world. The implication of this is that human interactions are no longer viewed or assessed from a particular cultural context rather from a global scale. Every environment is now weighed on the global scale and not from a particular cultural environment.
Amara's ecology of public administration is apt but could have been more apt if President Muhammadu Buhari was a symbol of Hausa/ Fulani culture.But the president is a symbol of the Nigerian culture which converges diversified ethnic cultures. The president is the symbol of the giant of the black continent and should carry himself as such The earlier he realises this, the better for us and the earlier we are spared of these uncalled- for embarrassment. For me, the Aisha/ PMB outburst was unnecessary and embarrassing no matter the angle one may look at it.
Ukegbu, a public policy analyst and communication strategist, writes from Umuahia, Abia State.