Failed Governance

A major contributor to failed projects in Africa



By O. Chima Okereke, PhD

UK and Nigeria



Most of the failed projects in Africa belong to the public sector and are owned by the various national governments. Multinationals such as Shell, Chevron, Total, Agip, etc., plan and implement projects but do not experience the failures that occur in government-owned projects.

In 2002, an Australian business and project director, driving with us through the Shell residential area (RA) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, was so impressed with the infrastructure we were seeing that he commented that the Shell RA was a “city within a city”. In other words, it is comparable to excavating a residential village in the UK, US, Germany or any of the large cities in the First World, that is the western world, and planting it in a Third World country which is deficient in stable and sustainable power supply, water, good roads, etc.

In 1980-81, it was observed that a new set of gas turbine electric generators was being installed to replace the generators in operation at Shell Nigeria Forcados Terminal. The explanation was that the existing generators would no longer be supported after a few years, it was therefore essential to install the gas turbine generators which could be sustained for many years in the future. To ensure sustainability of electric power supply, both immediately and in the future, they started upgrading the existing generators in spite of the fact that they were still generating as designed.

The two incidents discussed in the foregoing paragraphs demonstrate evidence of good foresight in governance. Governance describes processes undertaken by a government or a board of directors and such other bodies to direct management or the body being governed to conduct actions or policies for the achievement of the desired objectives of the nation or organisation. In effect, the board or national or federal executive council (in Nigeria), authorises and delegates the executive management of federal government parastatals, organisations, or companies, the power to carry out programmes, projects and operations. Members of the executive or top management of the government organisations are appointed by the government. They are responsible to the government and can be sacked or redeployed as the relevant government minister decides.

This arrangement underscores the need to investigate and explore the contributions of the actions or inactions of government ministers and their representatives in the failure and abandonment of projects. To do this, the following topics will be investigated and analysed:

  1. Governance as it relates to government ministries and government parastatals and companies
  2. Examples of actions or inactions of government ministries
  3. Failed governance, a symptom of a corrupt and failed democracy
  4. Concluding remarks including suggestions for improvement

Most of the materials in this paper is based on the experience of this writer or taken from research papers published after a real-life survey of people who had worked in public organisations in their respective African countries.

  1. Governance as it relates to government ministries and government parastatals and companies

Appointments in parastatals are based on political inclination. Some of the interviewed persons described the roles of the boards to include the following:

  • Formulation of policies for parastatals and government organisations;
  • Appointment of members of the board and of the top management
  • Approving the promotion of staff;
  • Considering and approving budgets of parastatals;
  • Awarding contracts;
  • Approving the disciplines of staff;
  • General regulation of the activities of parastatals.

In effect, the board, by the above roles, governs parastatals. Governance as defined by one of the interviewed persons is: “a process of administering organisations, people or society using the resources available to ensure that the resources are properly used” Or simply put “administering people and resources to achieve certain results.”


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How to cite this paper: Okereke, O. C.  (2018). Failed Governance: A major contributor to failed projects in Africa; PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue XI – November.  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/pmwj76-Nov2018-Okereke-failed-governance-featured-paper.pdf


About the Author

Chima Okereke, PhD, PMP

Herefordshire, UK




 Dr. O. Chima Okereke, Ph.D., MBA, PMP is the Managing Director and CEO of Total Technology Consultants, Ltd., a project management consulting company working in West Africa and the UK.  He is a visiting professor, an industrial educator, a multidisciplinary project management professional, with over 25 years’ experience in oil and gas, steel and power generation industries. For example, On December 26th 2013, he completed an assignment as a visiting professor in project management; teaching a class of students on Master’s degree in project management in the Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia.  In August and September 2013, he conducted an innovative, and personally developed training programme for seventy six well engineers of Shell Nigeria to enhance the efficiency of their operations using project and operations management processes.

Before embarking on a career in consulting, he worked for thirteen years in industry rising to the position of a chief engineer with specialisation in industrial controls and instrumentation, electronics, electrical engineering and automation. During those 13 years, he worked on every aspect of projects of new industrial plants including design, construction and installation, commissioning, and engineering operation and maintenance in process industries.  Chima sponsored and founded the potential chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, acting as president from 2004 to 2010.

Dr. Okereke has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos, and a PhD and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Bradford in the UK.  He also has a PMP® certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®) which he passed at first attempt.  He has been a registered engineer with COREN in Nigeria since 1983.  For many years, Total Technology has been a partner for Oracle Primavera Global Business Unit, a representative in Nigeria of Oracle University for training in Primavera project management courses, and a Gold Level member of Oracle Partner Network (OPN. He is a registered consultant with several UN agencies.  More information can be found at http://www.totaltechnologyconsultants.org/.

Chima is the publisher of Project Management Business Digest, a blog aimed at helping organizations use project management for business success.  Dr. Okereke is also an international editorial advisor for the PM World Journal. He can be contacted at [email protected]   or [email protected].

To view other works by Dr. Okereke, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-o-chima-okereke/