Dealing with a culture of blame

Blame culture has been described as a set of attitudes that are characterized by an unwillingness to take risks or to accept responsibility.

Blame culture, rather than take responsibility, says, “It is his fault”; “It is her fault”; “It is their fault”; “It is not me”.

The blame culture seems to have taken root in Nigeria with politicians and top government functionaries constantly blaming some other persons, factors or past public office holders for the challenges facing the country. The attitude, which is quite worrisome, is sometimes elevated to a ridiculous height with technocrats, who are saddled with the major tasks of nation building and economic advancement, indulging in it. For example, it is a well known fact that certain policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have aided the depreciation of the value of the naira but rather than take responsibility and retrace its steps, the apex bank recently tried to explain away its failures by shifting blames.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele who appeared before the Senate last week to explain the rationale for its floundering foreign exchange policies, which have further worsened the fate of the naira, blamed the United States of America and importation of goods into Nigeria for the fall of the national currency. The lapses in Emefiele’s argument and excuses were glaring to every discerning observer. For one, the United States of America, like any other country, has the right and responsibilities to enact policies to protect its own economy. Second, no country is self-sufficient. Every country therefore imports to augment local production. Nigerians are not any different, they have to import vehicles because there aren’t enough assembled locally. They import rice and other commodities because there is a huge gap between local production and market demand. It is therefore the responsibility of Emefiele and his team at CBN to ensure that they enact policies and institute measures that will effectively and consistently defend the national currency even in the face of these dynamics.

Blame cultures often reflect poor leadership. Ineffective leaders, more often than not, resort to blaming others when things go wrong, rather than taking responsibility for all that happens. This makes it difficult to address or solve societal problems. Blame culture can lead to a lack of productivity, wasted time and creation of hard feelings among the populace. A blame culture restricts creativity because people become afraid to make mistakes because of fear of criticisms.

The opposite of a blame culture is a problem solving culture. In a problem solving culture, people feel able to offer ideas, highlight issues and put suggestions forward without fear of reprimands. When something goes wrong, the question is “How did that happen and what can we do about it?”

In a problem solving culture, the leader is willing to accept blame and make amends.

Quickly and effectively getting rid of Nigeria’s deep-seated blame culture is one of the greatest legacies the present administration can create in order to keep the country on track towards enhanced productivity.

No one gains when the members of a society constantly find fault in each other instead of working hard towards a common goal. It is the job of President Muhammadu Buhari and his top appointees to steer the ship of nationhood in the right direction, and the above tips are a good start towards that end.


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