ONE WEEK IN THE UNITED KINGDOM-ORDER, SYSTEM AND SANCTION: LESSONS FOR NIGERIA

By

Otive Igbuzor, PhD

otive.igbuzor@centrelsd.org

 

Founding Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Abuja

In the month of October 2023, I spent eight days in the United Kingdom (UK) attending a training on Strategy Leadership Governance. My experience brought to my consciousness the difference between the UK and Nigeria in terms of order, system and sanction. At the airport, there are clear signs on the way to baggage collection and immigration. Indeed, when you know one airport, you have known all airports. You do not need to ask any questions. You just follow the signs. It is a directed path. If by chance you miss your way, it will take you to the toilet or a dead end. In some airports in Nigeria, when you land, you just follow people who know the way. No sign to lead to arrival.

 When I arrived Heathrow airport, I was privileged to have two of my Cousins (Theo and Vivienne) wait for me at the airport. It was a privilege because it is not in the practice of UK residents to wait for people at the airport as we do in Nigeria. They will just tell you to recharge your Oyster card and tell you the train or bus route. Alternatively, they advise on the cab that you can pick. Driving from the airport to the hotel showed order, system and sanction. The routes are clearly marked. The speed limit in every area is clearly marked out. If you breach any of the rules, there are no police or task force to pursue you to enforce the rules. The camera will just take the picture of your car and the bill will be sent to your address. If you do not pay in two weeks, the fine will be doubled. Your identity is known. Your identity is linked to your address, phone, car, bank accounts and any property owned by you. The order, system and sanction force you to obey. There is no discretion. You do not have a choice.

When we got to the Hotel, my room was pre-assigned, and key was handed over to me because booking had been done. It did not take time. It is with the key that you access the elevator. When you have a visitor, you have to come down to pick your visitor. No visitor goes inside looking for the room of a guest. No one loiters around the hotel without appointment or business.

On Sunday, I had to travel to Canterbury to worship at canterbury Baptist Church and meet a brother and friend, Felix. It was a smooth ride. The map takes you to your destination once you put in the postcode. When we got there, we had to look for a place to park. In the place we got, you can only park for one and a half hours. After that, you pay. Our host had to show us a different place we can park before the church service ended. The service was orderly. We sang beautiful hymns, and the message was good. The duration of service was 10.30 am to 12.00 noon. The service ended a few minutes after 12.00 noon. There was order and system. Driving around Canterbury, I rode in our host’s car. At junction, he had to give preference to buses. That is the practice. When you see a bus coming in a junction, you stop and give preference. In a junction, everybody will not put “head” and block the road.

Going back to London was smooth. We arrived a few minutes to 6pm. If you enter before 6pm, you pay congestion charges. We had to attempt to do a little shopping and branch somewhere to avoid congestion charges.

My flight back to Nigeria was 10.50 pm but check out time is 12.00 noon. I thought about it. Will they allow me to stay till 6pm before check out? I go to the reception to ask. There is a system. They can only allow one hour extension till 1pm. After that, you pay for every extra hour. The Manager has no discretion to extend your stay. There are rules and system that guide everything.

Going back to the airport took 47 minutes. I checked in and flew back to Nigeria. When we got to Nigeria, the first disorder was that our luggage was brought to two conveyor belts. You have to wait in one conveyor belt and after some time go to the second conveyor belt till you get your luggage. I collect my luggage and call the driver that I have arranged to pick me up at the airport. The driver is afraid to drive to the arrival because there is no parking. But you come out and SUVs are parked everywhere blocking the entrance waiting for VIPs.

For Nigeria to develop, there is need for order, system and sanction. There is need for order on our roads. Motorists and pedestrians must know the traffic rules. People should know who has the right of way at junctions. There is the need for road discipline. A system must be put in place to sanction anyone who breaches traffic rules. The identity and addresses of all residents in Nigeria must be known and linked to their telephone, vehicles, bank accounts and properties. There should be CCTV everywhere to enhance security. We cannot be living in the old stone age in the 21st century. Citizens should participate in all aspects of governance. Patriotic and God-fearing people should participate in governance and hold elected officials accountable. Citizens should be part of the security architecture. Community policing should be operationalised. Citizens should be enlightened on the laws of the country and their rights and responsibilities. Government and government officials should show the example and obey laws and rules. If we do all of these then, we will be on the way to building a new Nigeria and renewing the dashed hope of the people of Nigeria.