Prof. Peter Siyan of the department of Economics, University of Abuja, who recently emerged as the 2018 World Champion in Business Management told Emmanuel Ologun that economy is better managed by people who understand its principles.
Recognition by the International Agency for Standards and Ratings
I am a specialist in transport infrastructure economics. I have just been honoured as the world champion and father of modern infrastructure development (Business Management). I feel elated by the award which was graded among 5445 entries from 65 countries across the world. It may interest you to know that I did not apply for the award but some people assessed and nominated me based on what I have been doing. It is a very big achievement to win such award.
What infrastructure economics is all about Infrastructure economics is a very wide discipline. There are both social and economic infrastructures. So, issues like education, road, power and buildings are under infrastructure. However, I specialise in transportation. The purpose of the award is to identify the roles we have played in the advancement of scientific knowledge in business management especially in infrastructure development.
In what way will this award enhance your teaching profession?
When one has a global recognition, it impacts positively on ones’ abilities and connections. Since the award came, it has increased my interaction with world leaders and there are many citations also. The academic communities both here and elsewhere are increasingly citing my work in the field. However, the credit for the award is not to me alone. There is nothing in life that one can do alone without the help of others. So, I regard this honour as the result of teamwork.
To what extent are you further inspired by the international recognition?
Transport economics has not been very popular, but it is more common among geographers and civil engineers. There has not been much information on the subject, but what I did was to borrow the model I used in my physics work which is physical science and adapted it to economics.
In what ways will students and Nigeria benefit from the award?
In a series of my publications and oral discussions, I have pointedly drawn attention to the area of infrastructure that is seriously undermined in the nation. Some of the benefits are that scientific meetings and conferences on business management can now be endorsed by us, and we can be contacted for key note speeches on business management and industrial collaborations. Universities are now in the race to reconstruct their syllabus by adding scientific contributions by a world champion to enable universities contribute better in nation building.
Researchers and students can enjoy expert career guidance on latest trends, jobs and career opportunities. Thesis and dissertations on business management can now have expert guidance and proper supervision by a world champion in business management. References and text books on business management can now have exclusive chapters to orientate students on applications based on high quality research as guided by me.
In one publication, I discussed what the nation has been missing. The nation is losing more than N65bn from extortion on the roads alone and another example is that the nation has actually been robbing the citizens by charging people on infrastructure that are not provided. When there is no power and you insist that people must pay for power that was not consumed, it is a form of robbery. It is the same thing when roads are not properly constructed and maintained, but you ask people to pay for using them. These examples can be compared to having land where you plan to build a house but instead of building the house first, you start charging tenants rent. In most advanced countries where infrastructural development are valued, essential infrastructure are always provided and well priced so that end users can have value for money. People should only pay for what they use. The electricity agencies and companies are having problems collecting money from people because power or electricity is often not there for consumers.
Frequent building collapse in the country
It boils down to the presence of quacks who have taken over everything. When you deny specialists the opportunity to exercise or practise their knowledge, occupy positions and perform their roles, the rest will be failures such as building collapse. It goes even up to the economy where the minister in charge of national planning is a lawyer instead of a professional economist. An economist and not a lawyer should plan the national economy. Lawyers have their own areas of specialisation. There are civil and structural engineers but people who want to cut corners choose quacks to handle their buildings and expect that such structures will stand the test of time. Everything about the running of the nation is wrong when the round peg is not put in the round hole where it fits. This is why we are getting wrong results always.
Advice to federal and state governments
My advice is that the right things should be done. We are in a global economy. If we can use the United States that we are emulating as an example, immediately a new government is sworn in, the first thing that happens is that the administration sets up an economic team made up of economists who are economic managers to chart the way forward for the economy. The teams are manned by experts and not political allies of the elected president.
The economy of any nation should be managed by economic experts. The nation is in the mess we have found it today because the economy is not in the hands of good managers. What we are experiencing today goes beyond the collapse of infrastructure but extends to the collapse of the economy which is manned by incapable hands.
The level and rate of infrastructural development in Nigeria
The rate of growth is very low compared to the vast resources at our disposal and what is achievable. Also, considering what smaller nations like Ethiopia and South Africa are achieving, it makes one sad to note that Nigeria is not moving forward at all. The major issue facing the nation is corruption. For example, a project that costs N6m in other countries to complete will be valued at N60m in Nigeria. Then, look at the roads that are constructed with poor materials and incompetent personnel and you begin to wonder what is really wrong with this nation.
How transportation economics earned the award
All along, I have been teaching macro-economics at the university and transportation economics is an aspect of it. We have done a lot of work along that line. As you grow, comments start to emerge on what one has done. It is just to be focused in any area of interest and the person can win an award. The recognition is not just on the campus. It’s a global thing. If you are a researcher and good at what you are doing, everybody interested in the field sees your work. In economics, there are over 35 areas of specialisation and anybody can choose one area and focus on it. The subject is broad. So, I advise my colleagues to look at other areas which have not been explored and do elaborate research on them.
Why is the private sector a better business manager than government?
The first reason is that government does not have business dabbling into business undertaking. The business of government is governance while businesses are run by private entrepreneurs. The only thing the government should do is to provide conducive or friendly environment for private investors and focus on governance. The second reason is that even if government wants to establish business, it should engage people who have the experience and the requisite training to run such businesses. The practice in Nigeria is that businesses run by the government are manned by political allies, friends and relatives as a means of compensation and this does not produce the required accountability. This is the major reason government businesses fail.
What is business management?
Business management is an ideal choice for anyone wanting to fast-track their career or learn more about the realities of starting or managing business. Business management is a course of study leading to an A.A.S. degree. The coursework includes both general requirements (liberal arts courses) as well as curriculum requirements (business courses). In addition, each student takes elective courses in one of the following four areas of study, namely general management, finance and banking, marketing or travel and tourism.
Major branches in Business Management
There are eight sectors of business management, each one of them is equally as important as the others. They include financial management, marketing management, human resource management, strategic management, production management, operations management, service management and information technology management.
Final message to the general public or government
The only thing I will add is to dedicate the award to God. I am so small in the nation and in the world. I have several mentors, people who inspired me but God selected me for the honour to be the winner out of 5445 nominations from 65 countries. I do not see myself as the best. So, I return the honour to God who made it possible.