By Abdulqadir M. Habeeb
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Shakespeare wrote poetry or Beethoven composed music. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth would pause to say ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
On a first glance, manage it like that sounds like a noble nudge to being content, but when dissected, it is a beautifully worded bunkum. My attention was first drawn to this vice in a Facebook post by the inimitable late professor, Pius Adesanmi. His treatise magnified the contribution of that attitude of ‘nearly-good enough’ or ‘manage it like that’ to the chaotic mess that is our society. As Henry Ford opined, ‘mediocrity is the worst enemy of prosperity.’ According to Onyi Anyado, ‘You would never see an eagle of distinction flying low with pigeons of mediocrity.’
Manage it like that (MILT) syndrome ‘is like a KEKE NAPEP, it saves you from the sun, (better) than a bike, but cannot help you against the rain, (less) than a car.’ The biggest danger of becoming comfortable in this fickle bubble is that it sucks you in, gives you a false sense of comfort, but minimal satisfaction. At the initial stages, when you start rejecting this phenomenon, you’ll be perceived as unrealistic, idealistic, or even difficult, but you’ve to keep shining the light on why a change of attitude is required for the greater good.
You would walk into a hotel room, be confronted by badly maintained facilities, and you’ll be told “please Oga manage am like that. If everybody continues to manage it like that, then one day the hotel would collapse on the owners. Mediocrity! The mechanic fixing your car, instead of telling you the fault is beyond the scope of his expertise and allow you to get a better technician, would rather tell you, Oga let us remove this problematic part, it is not that important, MILT! Oyinbo that inserted the part was he mad??
This is one of the biggest contributors to irresponsible governance. We have become too comfortable with the idea of ‘the lesser evil’ in our choices. Why can’t we strive for multiple good options? When a public official executes a project that is below par at an inflated cost, we applaud and admonish anyone who dares to probe further in this vein, “at least he tried o, his mates aren’t doing this much.” The politicians know that we would always excuse their inefficiencies hence they are ready to continue lowering the bar in their representation and service delivery to us. MILT!
You would walk into a public facility, the attitude of the officials, the environment and the service delivery would reek of hostility and an irresponsible nonchalance, yet you would be cautioned to MILT! For how long would we allow our rights, esteem, heritage and national monuments to be so vandalized? Don’t answer this question, just MILT!!
Even in the management of our health, we have been conditioned to MILT. You’re told to just eat and sleep you’ll be fine, sometimes it works because you just need a rest, some other times it might be postponing an evil day. Sometimes, even health workers encourage you to manage it like that. No nation can continue on this destructive path for long before it becomes chaotic and self-destructs.
We have to first of all work on our psyche and accept that this is not a virtue, rather a dysfunction. Then be committed to nationally kicking it out for the benefit of generations to come. One of the major benefits of a changed attitude is that we would fix our maintenance culture, which would in turn prolong the lifespan of our private and national assets. Most of our monuments and infrastructures are dilapidated not for lack of quality but due to the criminally neglectful culture of the government, the custodians and the masses. Our quality of lives would become more orderly and improved. Then our enforcement and compliance agencies have to shape up, draw an up to date standards of operation, and deploy more humane compliance and enforcement methods so that in trying to be sympathetic they don’t end up sacrificing lawful orderliness for a chaotic melee.
As you go about your daily activities, consciously pay attention to the number of times you’re in a situation that reeks of this misdemeanor. Try to remedy the situation. Teach the younger ones the values and advantage of striving for excellence in all we do. In our little corners and businesses let us make good service delivery a minimum standard before we expect it from others. Let us be known to strive for excellence. While this is of utmost importance, we have to also realize that no policeman is greater than the SELF, we have to do better and be better, for as it has become a cliché but still a very valid one; Change begins with us, individually, then collectively, for this country is our heritage, our collective future, we have to safeguard and attempt to purge it of destructive tendencies within our sphere of influence.
Excellence is a habit. We have to practice it, while aspiring to a higher level of it. We are what we repeatedly do. Posterity shall vindicate the just!
Abdulqadir M. Habeeb, A strategist and IT Professional writes from Kaduna State, Nigeria. And can be reached via email@example.com