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Chnage in nigeria

The change we need in Nigeria: The Nigeria of Our Dream by Otive Igbuzor, PhD


The major argument in this paper is that the Nigeria of our dream can only be achieved if we realise the change we need in Nigeria. But first, we look at the inevitability of change and how to manage and lead change.



The World hates change, yet that is the only thing that has brought progress- Charles Kettering

The capacity to change is a key success factor. You have to constantly reinvent yourself- Edgardo Pappacena, Partner, Arthur Andersen.

“In a world that is dynamic and ever challenging, only those individuals and organisations that are capable of adapting and adjusting to changes by way of re-modeling their paths or activities to respond to trends and changes are most likely to survive and be stronger”- RMRDC Strategic Plan (2014-2017)

Change happens all the time, constantly and unpredictably.

Change is an inevitable part of life.  The way people respond to change will determine to a large extent whether they will live a meaningful life; make progress in life and achieve the purpose of their life. Change will always come whether we like it or not; prepared for it or not.  We should not see change as an enemy but opportunity. We should prepare for change so that when it comes, we can make the best out of it.  Indeed, we mobilize for change and manage it for our benefit and that of our organization.

It is imperative for Managers to be innovative and be able to manage change. Every Manager strives to build a successful organization with competitive advantage- good quality, innovative products, reduced cost and speedy delivery.

Managing organizational change is one of manager’s most important and difficult duties. Politics[1] and conflict[2] within an organization can signal to managers that the way an organization operates needs to change.[3]  For instance, poor communication and lack of cooperation between two departments may signal the need for integration of the departments or change of the managers involved.




Change is a process and it goes through stages:

  1. Assess the need for Change: Organisational Change can affect all aspects of organizational functioning including organizational structure, culture, strategies, control systems, groups and teams, human resource management and organizational processes such as communication, motivation, and leadership. It can also affect the way managers carry out the critical tasks of planning, organizing, leading and controlling.

Assessing the need for change requires:

  1. Recognising that there is a problem:  Performance-gap between desired performance and actual performance.
  2. Discover the source of the problem: Internal (Structure & Culture) and External sources;
  1. Decide on the Change to make: Decide on the ideal future state of the organization; how organizational structure should be changed; identify possible resistance to change; changes in strategy and organizational culture; changes in research and development.
  2. Implement the Change: Implement the change. Top-down change or bottom-up change.
  3. Evaluate the Change: Evaluate how successful the change effort has been in improving organizational performance. Use key performance indicators.



Every Manager needs a clear understanding of how to manage change effectively. It has been argued that organizational change is managed effectively when:[5]

  1. The organization is moved from its current state to some planned future state that will exist after the change.
  2. The functioning of the organization in the future state meets expectation; that is, the change works as planned.
  3. The transition is accomplished without excessive cost to the organization.
  4. The transition is accomplished without excessive cost to individual organizational members.


People must be motivated to change. But often, people resist change. In order to motivate people to change, it is important to understand the reasons why people resist change.


  1. Inertia: Generally, most people do not want to disturb the status quo.
  2. Time: People often resist change because of poor timing.
  3. Surprise: If the change is sudden, unexpected, or extreme, resistance may be the initial almost reflexive reaction.
  4. Peer pressure: Even if individual members do not strongly oppose a change suggested by management, the team may band together in opposition.

CHANGE SPECIFIC REASONS FOR RESISTANCE: Resistance may come from the specific nature of the proposed change.

  1. Self-interest: People resist change if they think that it will cause them to lose something of value.
  2. Misunderstanding: People will resist change if they do not fully understand it.
  3. Different assessments: People may oppose a change because of their assessment of the proposed change based on the information available to them.


Motivating people to change often requires three basic stages:

  1. Unfreezing: Breaking from old ways of doing things
  2. Moving: Instituting the change
  3. Refreezing: Reinforcing and supporting the new ways.

Unfreezing: Do a diagnosis; unfreeze old organizational culture; communicate negative consequences of old ways; recognize a performance gap(sales, profit, stock price); identify strengths and potentials; develop new modes of operation.

Moving: Establish a vision of where the organization is going; Initiate strategic, structural; cultural and individual change through effective leadership.

Refreezing: Strengthen new behaviours that support the change; implement control systems that support change; apply corrective measures; reinforce behavior and performance. Ensure continuous change so as not to create new behaviours that are as rigid as the old ones.


Management must then enlist the cooperation of its people to implement a change. Several approaches can be used to manage resistance and enlist cooperation:[8]

  1. Education and Communication: Management should educate people about upcoming changes before they occur. Both the nature and logic of the change should be communicated.
  2. Participation and Involvement: Listen to people who are affected by the change. Involve them in the design and implementation of the change.
  3. Facilitation and support: Provide training and resources that people need to carry out the change and perform their roles under the new circumstances.
  4. Negotiation and rewards: Offer incentives for co-operation with the change e.g. bonuses, wages and salaries, recognition, job assignments, perks of office etc.
  5. Manipulation and co-optation: Give a resisting individual a desirable role in the change process. As a person becomes involved in a change process, he/she becomes less resistant.
  6. Coercion: Apply punishment or the threat of punishment to those who resist change.
  7. Note: Each approach to overcoming resistance has its own advantages and disadvantages. Each one may be useful in different situations. As a manager mobilizes for change, it is important to keep some things constant onto which people can latch such as the organisation’s values and mission.


Commonly used in situations



Education and Communication

Where there is a lack of information or inaccurate information and analysis.

Once persuaded, people will often help with the implementation of the change.

Can be very time-consuming if lots of people are involved.

Participation and involvement

Where the initiators do not have all the information they need to design the change, and where others have considerable power to resist.

People who participate will be committed to implementing change, and any relevant information they have will be integrated into the change plan

Can be very time consuming if participators design an inappropriate change

Facilitation and support

Where people are resisting because of adjustment problems

No other approach works as well with adjustment problems

Can be time consuming and expensive, and still fail

Negotiation and agreement

Where someone or some group will clearly lose out in a change, and where that group has considerable power to resist.

Sometimes it is a relatively easy way to avoid major resistance.

Can lead to future problems if people feel manipulated.

Exploit and implicit coercion

Where speed is essential, and the change initiators possess considerable power.

It is speedy and can overcome any kind of resistance

Can be risky if it leaves people angry at the initiators


Culled from Bateman, T. S. and Snell, S. A. (2002), Management: Competing in the New Era. New York, McGraw-Hill Higher Education.


Most organizations implement several change programmes at the same time. The most common include programmes of continuous improvement, total quality management (TQM), time based competition, creation of a learning organization, a team based organization, a network organization, core competencies and strategic alliance.

It is necessary to harmonise multiple changes into a coherent picture so that the people can see, understand and get behind the change. In the final analysis, the change should affect the thinking and behavior of the organization and its culture.


Successful change requires managers to actively lead it. It requires several steps as indicated in the figure below:

Source: Kotter, J (1996), Leading Change. Boston, Harvard Business School Press. (culled from Bateman and Snell, Management: Competing in the New Era).

  1. Establish a sense of urgency: Identify crisis and opportunities; examine weakness compared to competitors; put employees in direct contact with unhappy customers; Provide a sense of urgency and direction for change.
  2. Create a guiding coalition: Put together a group with enough power to lead the change.
  3. Develop a vision and Strategy: have an expected state of affairs after change ins implemented; give the clearest possible image. The portrait of the future should communicate why change is being implemented and how people will be affected by the change.
  4. Communicate the Change vision: use every possible channel and opportunity to communicate the vision and the required new behaviours.
  5. Empowering broad based action: get rid of obstacles to success, including systems and structures that constrain rather than facilitate.
  6. Generate short term wins: Plan for and create small victories that indicate to everyone that progress is being made.
  7. Consolidate gains and produce more change: Keep changing things in ways that support the vision.
  8. Anchor new approaches in the culture: Highlight positive results and communicate the connection between the new behaviours and improved results and keep developing new change agents and leaders.



There are two types of change:

  1. Reactive Change: a response that occurs when events in the environment have already affected the firm’s performance. Reactive change responds to the pressure after the problem has arisen.
  2. Proactive Change: A response that is initiated before a performance gap has occurred. Proactive Change means anticipating and preparing for an uncertain future. It implies being a leader and creating the future you want. Eg. Future Now Plc


You can be a proactive change agent by exercising foresight, learning continuously, pursuing growth, seizing advantage and creating futures.

  1. Exercising Foresight: Set an agenda for the future and pursue it. Build core competencies and improve continuously.
  2. Learning continuously: Learn new capabilities and commit to constant experimentation. Try new things in the spirit of continuous improvement.
  3. Pursuing Growth: Downsizing, reengineering and other approaches to cutting costs have limits. Pursue growth and earn more revenue. Focus on improving technology, investment, product development, and creation of new markets.
  4. Seizing advantage: Create new products and transform your industry. Create and dominate emerging opportunities.

Instead of …..

Why not…?

Fitting the firm to the environment

Change the environment to fit the firm

Preserving old advantages

Create new advantages

Locking in old markets

Create new markets

Investing in fixed assets

Invest in evolving/emerging opportunities


  1. Creating the Future: Organisations can be adapters or shapers. Adapters take the current structure and functioning of their industry as given and try to operate within that environment. Shapers try to change the structure of their industry and create a future of their own design. To get ahead of others, you need to create the future.



The President Muhammadu Buhari administration was inaugurated on 29th May, 2015, a time of monumental changes across the world. There are a lot of changes taking place with increasing uncertainty, growing ambiguity, increasing complexity, access to massive information and new technology.

The past five decades have witnessed monumental changes in the economic sphere. Global economic wealth has increased sevenfold and average incomes have tripled. Yet, poverty has increased to record high levels. The major problem is that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few people while majority of the people live in abject poverty. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its 1998 report documented that the three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product of the 48 least developed countries. In 2014, eighty five richest people in the world had the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.4 billion people). By 2015, only 80 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent. In the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, income inequality is at its highest level in the last fifty years. The average income of the richest 10 percent of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10 percent.  It has been documented that the drivers of inequalities include globalization, skilled biased technological change and changes in countries policy approaches (ascendancy of neo-liberalism).

In the last ten years, there has been a lot of changes in political leadership across the world. In 2008, the political leadership of the United States of America changed from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back to Republican. In 2011, the political leadership in the United Kingdom changed from Labour Party to Conservative Party. In the last decade, there has been changes in many countries across the world including France, Italy, Greece, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cote D’Voire, and Senegal. One slogan that has reverberated across the world is change.


We have always argued that change will happen in any society when the conditions are ripe.   In our view, for change to occur in any society requires the presence of objective and subjective conditions. Objective conditions exist when situations are evidently abnormal with huge contradictions which can only be resolved by change. The subjective conditions are the organizational preparations required to bring about change. There is no doubt that the objective conditions for change has been existing in Nigeria for a very long time. There is high level of poverty in the midst of plenty. Corruption is widespread, endemic and stifling progress. The wealth of the country is concentrated in the hands of a few. There is social disintegration with high levels of promiscuity and divorce. Rape is on the increase. There are several cases of incest. There is high level of greed, selfishness and nepotism. The state of affairs is not sustainable. The challenge has been the absence of the subjective conditions with the requisite organization and platform to mobilize for social change. It was therefore easy for Nigerians to buy into the change agenda of the All Progressives Congress leading to the inauguration of the government on 29th May, 2015.  The challenge before the government and the Nigerian people is the nature of change and how to actualize the change.



We have argued elsewhere that the kind of change required in Nigeria must be comprehensive affecting all facets of life.  The change must affect the four key areas of economy, politics, social and technological.  In the economic arena, there should be change in the structures and institutions of economic management; diversification of the economy; promotion of transparency and accountability and promotion of pro-poor policies. In politics, there should be change of the 1999 Constitution; institutions of horizontal accountability; the electoral system;  democratic culture;  party financing, campaign finance and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In the socio-cultural arena, there should be re-orientation on social values; re-orientation on work ethics and corporate Social responsibility and investment. Finally, there should be focus on acquisition and utilization of new technology. In addition, there should be change in the way public administration is organized.

In any case, it must be recognised that to bring about change in any country is a process that must be meticulously thought out and implemented. It should start with accessing the need for change. This assessment should affect all aspects of life of the country including structure, culture, strategies, human resources, organisational processes and leadership. It is on the basis of this assessment that the government can decide on the change to make. While deciding on the change to make, cognisance should be given to possible resistance. There are many reasons why people resist change. Some people are establishment or status-quo prone and will resist change. Others resist change because of self-interest or misunderstanding of the content or nature of change.  Studies have shown that globally, about 70 percent of all change efforts have failed.


In my view, the Nigeria of our dream can be defined by three characteristics:

  1. A Changed Nigeria where people get reward for production of goods and services and not influence peddling with a diversified economy; pro-poor policies and politics dominated by competent and capable people of good character with ethical values that are noble and with technology and infrastructure that make citizens to live a good quality life.
  2. A Nigeria with dynamic, visionary and transformative leaders but not one that we are led by the worst among us.
  3. Enlightened and committed followership that will not follow people because of money or follow people sheepishly without considering their character and pedigree.

The challenge before the government and people of Nigeria is to put in place a strategy for change and a model for managing resistance to change. A strategy for change should recognise the three basic stages of unfreezing, moving and refreezing in the change process. Unfreezing is the stage where you conduct a diagnosis and then unfreeze the old organisational culture. This involves clear communication on the negative consequences of old ways while developing new modes of operation.  Moving is when you produce a new strategy and initiate new ways of doing things to effect structural, cultural and individual change through effective leadership. Refreezing is a systematic way of strengthening new behaviours that support change and reinforcing the new behaviour continuously.

A model of managing resistance to change will include specific strategies to enlist co-operation of the people to support the change process. Several approaches can be used to enlist co-operation.  The citizens should be educated about upcoming changes before they occur. The nature and logic of the change should be clearly communicated. As the change process is going on, the government should listen to the people affected by the change. Training and resources should be provided to the people who need to carry out the change and perform their roles under the new circumstances. Incentives should be offered for co-operation and punishment should be applied to those who resist change.

In addition, government should recruit change champions. These are people who are passionate about change, know the nature of change required and are prepared to lead the process of change. They should be able to develop a vision and strategy for the change process including a description of the state of affairs after the change has been implemented. The vision must be clearly communicated and the people mobilised to support it.




[1] Organisational politics are the activities that Managers and other members of an organization engage in to increase their power and to use power effectively to achieve their goals and overcome resistance or opposition. (Pettigrew, A. M. (1973), The politics of Organisational Decision Making. London, Tavistock.

[2] Organisational Conflict is the discord that arises when the goals, interests, or values of different individuals or groups are incompatible and those individuals or groups block or thwart each other’s attempts to achieve their objectives.(Litterer, J. A. (1966), Conflict in Organisations: A Reexamination, Academy of Management Journal Vol 9, pp 178-86. There are several types of conflicts in organizations: interpersonal, intragroup, intergroup, and interorganisational. Conflict can arise from incompatible goals, overlapping authority, task interdependencies, incompatible evaluation or reward systems and scarce resources.

[3] Jones, G. R, Gorge, J.M. and Hill, C. W. L. (2000), Contemporary Management. USA, McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

[4] Ibid

[5] Nadler, D.A. (1981), Managing Organisational Change: An Integrative Approach in Journal of  Applied Behavioural Science, Vol. 17. Pp 191-211.

[6] Stanislao, J. and Stanislao, B. C. (1983), Dealing with Resistance to Change in Business Horizons, July-August, 1983. Pp 74-78.

[7] Johnson, G (1987), Strategic Change and the Management Process. New York, Basil Blackwell

[8] Bateman, T. S. and Snell, S. A. (2002), Management: Competing in the New Era. New York, McGraw-Hill Higher Education.



Pastor Otive Igbuzor, PhD

Founding Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Abuja and General Overseer, Palace of PRIESTS ASSEMBLY, Abuja.

E-mail: otiveigbuzor@yahoo.co.uk;

Website: www.otiveigbuzor.com



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