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On Symptoms and Root Causes

How would you feel if you visited your Doctor and complained about having Malaria, and then your Doctor asks about the symptoms you are having, you tell him you are feeling feverish, then some headache and then you Doctors prescribes drugs to take away the symptoms without giving you any drugs to actually cure the Malaria itself?

Thats absurd isnt it? of course it is. However I am sorry to announce to you that, that is exactly how majority of the folks inhabiting this planet go about living their every day lives.

The bulk of the complaints you get to hear from people are symptom-based. Most people only need help in taking away the symptoms while leaving the root course to invent new symptoms that keep the problem-cycle going.

You still dont get it right?

Let break it down…

I will give just 2 out of the many instances I observe on a daily basis.

Let examine Governance in Nigeria for example. Every day, Nigerians complain of Lack of Good Roads, Electricity, Pipe-Borne Water, Security and other amenities. Those are obvious problems right? Of course!, I ply the road every day, I run Generating Sets every day, last time I saw a Government provided pipe borne water run was when I was a kid. However, those are mere symptoms of lack of good governance. We complain about every symptoms except the root cause of the problem. Why do we have those symptoms? Its simple, we lack good governance and the root cause I believe is rooted in our Electioneering process. I believe if we truly want all those things working, then it should begin from the process that will bring the Governors and Legislators into office. If we elect candidates that have the integrity and wherewithal to manage nations funds towards national development then we would not have to complain about the symptoms.

Another obvious one is Unemployment. Of course, it is no longer news that there is un-employment in Nigeria. Our graduates leave the Universities in their numbers and they dont find suitable jobs afterwards. But, that in my opinion is merely a symptom. A symptom with a number of root causes. First the quality of the training the graduates received in the first place. Amidst the unemployment in Nigeria, my friends and I graduated some few years ago and as far as I know, every one in my clique of friends is gainfully employed, some have even changed jobs like twice or thrice. WHY? Because they knew their Onions so well that it became impossible for them to be part of the unemployment statistics in the country. Another possible root cause is the fact that there are limited firms who can actually employ these graduates. Should the country be properly industrialized with firms here and there needing labour from artisans to professionals then even the most “half-baked” and “uncooked” graduates will at least get a job commensurate with their skill levels even if its menial.

You know our problem  friend? We are SYMPTOM CURERS… We focus on Symptoms leaving out the root cause of the problems.

A such, what happens is that before we finish curing a symptom, the root cause would have evolved another… thereby ensuring that the problem cycle keeps evolving…


Look out for root causes!


I am Seun Ogunmola!

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