Explaining Bureaucratic Weaknesses in Africa and Inefficiency the Phenomenon of Cognitive Melodrama

Explaining Bureaucratic Weaknesses in Africa and Inefficiency the Phenomenon of Cognitive Melodrama

Bureaucracy according to Heady (1992:304) cited in Ezeani (2006:118) stated that Bureaucracy are large scale organizations that are common in both the public and private sectors of the contemporary society.

The presentation of Max Weber (1864-1920) a German sociologist quoted in Ezenai (2006:118) expounded the concept on the basis of power and authority. He (Weber) was interested on why people in organizations obey orders.

The most commonly accepted modern system of administrative function is based on the max Weber’s theory. Cnutis cited in Duru, Ikejiani-Clark and Mbat (2005) stated that bureaucracy has often been used as a pejorative term also as a neutrals description of dispensable activity a group of public officials arranged functionally on the basis of activity to be performed.

Hence Weber bureaucracy meant that the qualities such as precision. Speed, un-ambiguity knowledge of the files, continuity, discretion unity strict subordination reduction of friction and material and personnel costs are raised to optimum point.

In African the bureaucracy is associated with a lot of inefficiency. Okoli (2010:6) states that bureaucracy in the developing countries of the world especially Africa are saddled with a number of problems which vitiate their role as ultimate instrument for control for efficient and effective administration of the national development.

The means-ends relationship is central to the legal legitimacy which Weber launched in his bureaucracy and which has remained the bedrock of western, civilization the development and modernization theories are predicated on this means –ends logic. The distinguished characteristics of bureaucracy are among others, a mgid disfinction between the office and its incumbent a well- defined hieravctical distribution of authority, the hourizontal division of labour according to differential functions and technical skills, recruitment based on merit and strict obedience to impersonal body of males.

Efficiency and effectiveness are synonymous since they abstract measures of performance Ekong (1980:20) cited in Ezeani (2006:27) mightly states that from the strictly comparative  point of view, both efficiency and effectiveness are abstract theasures  of organizational performance. Both of then evaluate the condition under and the degree to which organizations are attaining their various goals. These co ncepts therefore provide useful indicators of the ability of an organization to survive in its environment. The researcher opines that where any of the above statement made by Ekony is lacking it therefore becomes inefficiency and ineffectiveness in an organization.

Statement of Problems

It is to establish if there are ways through which

  • Inspite of the knowledge of the concept of Bureaucracy it is still difficult for Africans to adopt to its principles there are existence of high inefficiency in the dispensation of bureaucracy in Africa
  • There are existence of high inefficiency in the dispensation of bureaucracy in Africa
    • The existence of cognitive problem in the various organization both at the micro and micro levels
    • The organization behavior is highly influence resulting to cognitive melodiama

Statement of Objectives

  • It is to establish if there are ways through which the knowledge of the concept of bureaucracy can be followed by the Africans
  • To control the high inefficiency and bureaucratic weaknesses.
  • To elaborate on the various ill effects of cognitive melodrama
  • To give, recommendations on the control of the cognitive problems and the melodrama both at the micro and macro level.

Definition of Terms

Bureaucracy: Anatomy of Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy is a word coined by Monsieur de Gourney in 1845 which was later popularized by Max Weber (1864: – 1920) a German Sociologist. Though pejoratively associated with red tapism, Excess paper work, inefficiency etc. it may be taught that of as a complex system of men officers methods and authority which large organization employ in order to achieve their goals. Bureaucracy therefore is the characteristics of every large organization such as universities, Army, Churches etc. (Duru, Ikejani – blark and Mbat 2005) dacDbc. (1966: 223) states that the central points behind Weber’s ideal type construct of bureaucracy include: (i) Men (ii) officers
(iii) Method (iv) authority.

The Theoritical Framework

The theoretical framework conceptualization of

The theoretical framework of this study will be based on the concept of Efficiency and effectiveness. Although these two words are similarly shared they do not mean the same thing. Efficiency is the ration of output (that is useful work performed) to the input (that is total energy) expended while effectiveness is the extent to which an organization realized its goals. (Ezeani 2006: 28) organizational goals according Etzioni (1964) cited in Ezeani (2006: 28) are the desired state of affairs which the organization stires to realize Ekong (1980: 22) illustrated this with a table

Research Methodology

This study adopted content analysis of the already existing literature on the subject especially the Administrative theories and National Development: A discourse on relevance and comments on the Nigeria society (Okoli 2010). The paper focused the various antecedent on Bureaucratic weaknesses in African and inefficiency the phenomenon of the cognitive melodrama.

Other secondary sources of data such as journals newspapers and the discussion of the happen stences in our various offices.

Although it is difficult to have a full grasp of this inefficiency the phenomenon of the cognitive melodrama posses on the bureaucratic weakness in Africa. To give these explanation the study will 1.) Expose some, o the cognitive, melodrama

2.) The levels of this cognitive melodrama.

Table 1: The Conceptualization of Efficiency and Effectiveness

EFFICIENCY The ratio of usual work done (output) to the total energy (input) expended. Resource input output and costs
  • Emphasis on organizational means


  • Calculate organizations internal concern:


  • Proceeds, effectiveness and so is independent of it.
1.)  Both distinct measures of organizational performance

2.)  Both are useful indicators for measuring and predicting organizational viability in its environment.

EFFECTIVENESS Extent which an organization realizes its goals and objectives
  1. Productivity
  2. stability
  3. morale
  4. Turnover rate
  5. degree of integration
  6. maximization of undural potentials
  7. values contributed  to the society.
  1. Emphasis on organizational ends
  2. inferred from indirect indicators
  3. both internal and environmental concern
  4. might be enhanced  by efficiency but not necessarily so.
EFFECTIVENESS Extent to which an organization realizes its goals and objectives
  1. Productivity
  2. stability
  3. morale
  4. turnover rate.
  5. degree of integration
  6. maximizations of undiral potentials
  7. values contributed to the society.
  1. emphasis on organizational ends
  2. inferred from indirect indicators
  3. both internal and environmental concern
  4. might be enhanced by efficiency but not necessarily so.


Source: Ezeani (2006:29) adapted from Ekong (1980:22) Based on the above concept on the table if any of the measures and on determinant fails it will lead to inefficiency.

The Discourse

In most African states, perhaps, consequent upon the fragility of their structures, there is hardly any consensus on practicality anything. This situation should not surprise any astute observer of the African political scenes. Any astute observer of the African political scene. Apart from institutionalized political structures which was observed earlier “a different form of administration which settles issues more on political rather than insulated technical criteria” of necessity takes, the place of bureaucracy. In the type of condition computation is eliminated as effective decision mode. (Okoli, 2010:13-15). Okoli 2010 further added that power resides almost exclusively in the hands of an individual who is outside the formal party structure. He used the PDC’s honorary president, Felix houphoiet. Bioghy stated that even in his many abscences from his country, the work of government sometimes seems to come to a half. Even routine decisions had to wait his return. (Zolberg:80-81) cited in Okoli (2010:14).

Cognitive Problems in Organizational Behaviour

Okoli (2010:18) states that cognitive problems in African public organization manifests themselves on two levels namely: 1.) the micro level 2.) the macro level.

Cognitive Problem of the Micro Level

Okoli (2010:18) gave an example of the theory which he (Okoli) titled “Ima Mmadu an Igbo word meaning several things as the researcher can interpret thus”. Do you know anybody”. 4.) you know people. This he said was enunciated in a drama/play by Uncle, Dixon (Innocent Dixon Anichebue) of the “Tombo Connection” this has been widely as portraying the true position of things in the Nigeria and perhaps most African states public Organisation, According to Okoli he affirms that even though it has not been tested in the field for its empirical validity. Its acceptance by Nigerians irrespective of ethical and political inclination transforms it into “law”.

In Nigeria today for an applicant to get a job in an institution where he doesn’t know anybody is a news. Even if it is heard is received with unbashed incredibility, why it is so, is that before an applicant start seeking for a job he/she must first of all make the necessary contact. It involves three levels.

1.)  Getting in touch with the “right” Person.

2.)   The person who “Knows” the right person,

3.)  The person who “know” those who are the right persons.

4.)  In the above description of these cognitive melodrama organization ethics and bureaucratic principles and policies are side tracked or by-passed or breech of current slogan known as “Due Process” is completely ignored.

The researcher will like to give a scenario of an institution name withheld. In this institution. The retiring  principle is a level fifteen offices (15). There were a host of other level fourteen officers. The Hon. Commissioner of that ministry name withheld and the permanent secretary were struggling over whose kinsman should succeed the outgoing principle. The honorable commissioner had an officer who was a level thirteen(13) officer. While the permanent secretary had an officer in the same institution who was a level fourteen officer though not the most senior fourteen. These melodrama made the Hon. Commissioner to put in writing that the outgoing principle must hand over to the level thirteen officer. The permanent secretaries’ candidate sieged the office keys prior to the day of handing over. In spite of this the Hon. Commissioner firmly directed that if it must be handed over to the level thirteen officer whom he wants to even though not according to permanent secretary refused to acknowledge any mail endorsed by him.

However the case was referred to the Government House who then called for the submission of curriculum vitae of some officers the scope of this study the time and space will fail the researcher to exhaust the details and outcome thereafter.

Okoli (2010:20) cited the experience of Augustus Adebayor when he (Adebayor) was an assistant district officer. Where his junior staff will collect his verdict and study and tells the litigants to give some amount inoerder the case will favour them because (the junior clerk) who “know”.

Another instance of political ascendancy at micro level a “non imperical tested melodrama” “ states that in a particular state in a popular state in South West Geopolitical an “Oba” name, withheld, that he is so powerful. If any politician wants to win the post of a local government chairman, before you obtain a form, you will first of all take ten million Naira cash to his palace and prostrate and he will accept your cash and give you a go ahead sign. Any person who did not fulfil this obligation will not win the election. This cognitive problem at the micro level compounds the controversy of the politics of our underdevelopment.

Cognitive Problem at the Macro Level

Tribalism and ethnicity has been the bane of most cognitive problem at the macro as the researcher has observed. These issues in Nigeria polity even during military and various sandwiched civilian regimes.

The researcher opines that this is what had led to promulgation of such policies like quota system and the federal character commission establishment.

Quoting Obafemi Awolowo (1947) cited by Okoli (2010) Nigeria is not a nation it is a mere geographical expression, he Awolowo added that there no “Nigerians” in the sense as there are “Engligh” “Welsh” or “French” the word “Nigeria” is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within  the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not.

  • The above statement made by a leading Nationalist drew a parallel between Nigerians and others. Such as English and Welsh all of them are proud citizens of Great Britain.

Thereafter in 1948 the late prime minister of Nigeria Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa affirmed on the legislative council thus.

Since, 1914 the Britain has been trying to make Nigeria into one country. Nigeria People according to him are historically different in their backgrounds such as religious beliefs and customs and cannot show willingness to unit. This dichotomy of ethnicity and tribe was also pronounced in the formation of political parties such as Action group by Awolowo Northern and Cameroons (NCNC) which represented the views of the Majority of the Ibos, Efiks, Ibibios the Cameroons and Ijaws who opposed federal system of Government for Nigeria. (Okoli 2010:25) No wonder there is a slogan known by the Ibos as the has observe “Government nu aru Enyi Onye boro ya chere K’ndi Ozo Boro tukwa, the scope will not allow to expantiate on this slogan which the researcher through not empirically test operates at every macro level during each regime. Okoli (2010:81) in a topic titles “marginalization and all that” where he okoli recalled that there was a time in Nigeria one single regime

1.)  the head of state was a Northerners,

2.)  The Chairman joint chiefs of staff

3.)  Two of the three services chiefs

4.)  Minister and  Commandant Brigade of Guards

5.)  The secretary to the Government of the federation (SGF)

6.)  Inspector General of Police (IGP)

7.)  Minister of internal affairs

8.)  FCT minister and

9.)  Minister of Petroleum

10.)            Controller general controller of Customs

11.)       Governor of CBN.

From the exposure listed above according to Okoli record shows that seventy percent (70%) of the highest ruling council were made of the Northerns, that eleven (11) eighteen (18) members while only seven (7) were from other geopolitical zones. This is a typical example of the cognitive problem at the macro level. In this situation the researcher posits that there will be no resistance in approving or unanimous acceptance of the head state decrees while others from other geopolitical zones will be in the minority. This will make it impossible for the penetration of any other person in non northern zones.

The Marxist and Neo-Marxists Conception of Development.

The Marx’s Concept of class. For him the concept of class was inseparable linked to a dialectical theory of social change, he Identified two classes who are fundamental contradiction assumed to be source of conflict. (Okoli, 2007:22).

In Nigeria during the second national development plan, indeginization of the economy was suggested as a possibly way out. The table presented below will show the cognitive melodrama of how the top nurtured retired civil servants apparently made hey while the sunshine. They took the advantage of their official positions and cornered the wealth of the nation. I posit that it was made in a cognitive grand style. Which today they are veritable tormentors of the Nigeria Masses and the visible, beneficiaries of the national honours courtesy of the indigenization programme (Okoli, 2008:31). Only form of examples will be, shown in the table below.

Table 2: Retired Public Servants and Directorships of Nigeria Subsidiaries Multinational Corporations (1970-1986).

Company Name Post Prior to Retirement
Agip (Nigeria) Limited Tukur Usman Federal Permanent Secretary (Works, 1970-1975).
Alumaco (Nigeria) Plc Mr. F.O Ogunlana Managing Director Chief Executive, NICON
Beecham (Nigeria) PLC P.G. Asiodu Federal Permanent Secretary (Industries Mines and Power) (1966-1975).

Source: Okoli (2008:32) Adapted from: Adeoye, Akinsanya, et al (eds.) (2002: 301-304)

Inefficiency of The Phenomenon

The inefficiency will be anchored on the problem of leadership as was the article on the vanguard Newspaper by Nwankwo Uche Titled tragedy of the Obasanjo Presidency he quoted thus “One must reflect on the fact that in the more than forty (40) years of Nigeria independence as a sovereign nation, we have not had the good fortune of having a well-educated, conscientious man run affairs as head of government”. He (Nwankwo Uche) added that Nigeria has mainly produced bunch of semi literate and half baked leaders. Therefore posit that the effectiveness of indigenization policy was capsized to be inefficiency based on the fact that the top retired civil and public servant usurped the opportunity and with selfish aggrandizement made it personal property. It was also impaired by the inherent contradiction between its overt and covert objectives. (Okoli, 2008:40)


  • Administration of National Development should carried out primarily through decision making process.
  • The Distinguished characteristics of bureaucracy should be strictly adhered to the Organization.
  • Incubents of organization position should not usurp positions.
  • Glass and Protocols should be de-emphasized in order, to control inefficiency that arises from the cognitive melodrama.
  • There should be a strong legal or judicial bill as it is now existing inform of economic and financial crime commission (EFCC) or independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
  • There should be, public enlightenment to create awareness on the dangers of this cognitive melodrama that brings about bureaucratic weakness in Africa. 


In this work we recognized that bureaucratic principles are not adhered to on Africa. There are several cognitive melodrama that are responsible for this inefficiency.

In all we have attempted to see different elites who contribute to this inefficiencies in Africa. Three levels of this cognitive problems was also identified at the organizational level. Micro and Macro level respectively.


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