Remote Control and the Management of Public Enterprises in Nigeria:The Case of Nigeria Airways

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Ocheoha, O.A
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University of Lagos
The Subject of our inquiry in this study is the contention that remote control, defined as all those measures, overt and covert, by which a government seeks to influence and direct the operations of a public enterprise, is inimical to goal-achievement and efficient management used in this sense. Remote control is synonymous, and accordingly will be used interchangeable with the more widely-known phenomenon of government control. The Nigeria Airways, a Federal Government owned limited liability Company, is used as a test case. Remote control i.e. Government control, we showed is usually justified on grounds of public accountability, of the exercise of government's proprietary rights, and of social, economic and political considerations. Thus, government control serves basically the same purpose as management control. The question which then arises is the conditions under which such control becomes harmful or injurious to the effectiveness of a public enterprise. In our view, government hampers effectiveness of a public enterprise if and when it results in a Board of Directors the majority of whose members are incapable of making positive contributions to policy directives, either on account of low educational attainment, overload, or lack of practical life and/or business experience; or results in personnel policies based on non-universalistic and achievement criteria; or in frequent and sudden policy changes. Government control also hampers a public enterprise's effectiveness if it tends to distort the open market mechanism in the financial operations of the enterprise; hinders prompt management action or response; encourages intra-and-inter-organisation conflict and indiscipline; and/or serves the cause of political expendiency. Using these hypotheses as a rubric, the study examined salient aspects of the life of the Nigeria Airways Limited, to wit: (i) The Board of Directors - its capability and performance; (ii) Financing and pricing operations; (iii) Personnel policies and practices; (iv) Organisational health; The general assumption that political appointees on Boards are necessarily mediocres is not proven by this study, although it was established that political appointees, (be they politicians or Civil Servants) regardless of their education, experience and social status tend to be more susceptible to pressures from government. Similarly, the pre-dominance of civil servants and military personnel on Boards of public enterprises during the military regime was found to be inimical to effectiveness on grounds of overload, multiple roles and role-conflict. The lesson of this study of public enterprise management is the removal or minimisation of the conditions under which government control hampers the effectiveness of public enterprises.
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Public Enterprises , Remote Control
Ocheoha,O.A (1983) Remote Control and the Management of Public Enterprises in Nigeria: The Case of the Nigeria Airways University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation Abstracts