One of the very things the Corporate Affairs Commission will ask of you, if you want to register an organisation, is your Rules and Regulations, otherwise called Constitution. Why? It is simple. “Ni ilu ti ko ba si ofin, ese ko si,” literally translating to “there is no offence in a city without rules.” Serious organisations not only have clear rules and regulations in place, but in addition have a Code of Conduct – clearly set-out dos and don’ts – that all members must abide by, as well as stipulated punishments for the don’ts (infractions).
Discipline is simply the practice of making people abide by spelt-out rules and regulations and ensuring that members who don’t are punished accordingly. A simple study of our society, at all levels of organisation, will reveal that this failing – indiscipline – which has become a culture, is at the very root of most of our woes. Once somebody disobeys the rules and does not get punished, the door to disorder is open; and once unpunished disobedience becomes frequent, the door is wide open to anarchy.
How far any association goes in fulfilling its aims and objectives depends, to a large extent, on how disciplined it is. It is a function of how self-disciplined its members are; or how well they are disciplined and amenable to discipline. It is not a big grammar. An orderly and prosperous organisation must be disciplined. Its members must, on their own, abide by the rules and regulations of the association, and those who don’t must ALWAYS be made to pay the fine and face the music EVERY TIME they break the rules.
Example, they say, is greater (better) than precept. Leaders of associations, political organisations, non-governmental organisations, religious and cultural groups, etc, have a big duty concerning discipline. Those who must come to equity must come with clean hands. The kettle calling the pot black doesn’t always advance the cause of organisational discipline, and one essential need for self-discipline is “amojukuro;” that is, self-sacrifice and restraint, a large heart without greed. Inevitably, as the organisation grows in achieving its objectives, there arrive dividends to be allocated. Periodically also, there are goodies to be shared on special occasions. These are some of the times that truly test organisational and leadership discipline.
From punctuality, regular attendance at meetings and payment of dues, to seeking and accepting responsibilities and assignments, a self-disciplined leader sets an example for members to follow, making sure that appropriate penalties are paid by members every time rules are violated. Fairness and justice must be apparent at all times in order to instil orderliness, which is a vital condition for growth and development. An organisation where might is right, wealth is right, and favours and privileges are dispensed without pattern other than sectional loyalty has no future. Selective punishment and differing sentences for same offence cannot be. The seeds of indiscipline growing within such associations will lead it to inevitable doom.
As it is with organisations, so it is with nations. Nigeria, as can be generally observed, suffers a terrible deficit of discipline everywhere you turn – its citizens, institutions, state and leadership. Too many examples on a daily basis to be sited, from observance of simple traffic regulations to mind-boggling looting in high places: and the bigger the violation of the rules, the more our inability to punish it! When indiscipline is carried to areas of public health and national security, of course, everyone can now see that unless we have a rethink and make a change, we are speeding towards self-destruction. For the simplest instance, how else would we account for the inability of educated adults especially, to follow basic COVID-19 protocols, even if the uneducated live in senseless denial? A lot of people argue that corruption is our country’s biggest problem. All you need to know is that where there is corruption, there will be indiscipline; but where there is strict discipline, there will be no corruption, and anytime corruption rears its head, it will be ruthlessly dealt with according to the rules!
True, leadership indiscipline spreads disorder down the followership ranks and files, but the solution is two-way: it can either be corrected from leadership downwards; or from followership upwards. Not correcting it will continually leave us in trials and tribulations to live through and hand over to our children. Individuals have the capacity to demonstrate powerful examples of discipline that can reverberate beyond an organisation and become a change mantra. No one can forget that the Spartan discipline of President Mohammadu Buhari, for many years lived before his Presidential aspirations, became the eventual Joker for his triumph after several attempts.
There is a saying that “Small (positive) acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” It is particularly true for self-discipline with individuals and organisations. “Obedience,” they say, “is better than sacrifice.” One small but significant positive change you can make within your organisation is, as a disciplined person that you have now resolved to be and have become, begin promoting discipline, for the growth of your organisation and the fulfilment of its aims and objectives. It may turn out to be a big contribution to the redemption of your community, and indeed our dear country, Nigeria.