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kunledurojaiye has written 50 posts for kunledurojaiye

419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

For too long, Nigeria and Nigerians have been readily associated with the online scams and financial crime – termed ‘419’. However, beyond the unfortunate stereotyping, there are several positive characteristics and intriguing traits of the country, Nigeria and its people, some of which are highlighted below as part of the ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ campaign which enlisted 100 volunteers and bloggers to share reasons why they like Nigeria. These reasons echo the voices of Nigerians, with resonating similar themes. The campaign is facilitated in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.

The full list of ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here  (www.419Positive.org)

The list of contributors to ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ is available here

If you would like to say something positive about Nigerians and Nigeria, please do so here.

NIGERIA – THE LAND OF POTENTIAL AND OPPORTUNITY

  • I like Nigeria because it is a land of endless opportunities and possibilities. Nigeria is one country whose true potentials I believe the world is yet to experience. I believe Nigerians are sharp, brilliant and accommodating people. Given the right enabling environment the world will marvel at what Nigeria will become.
  • Nigeria is the most populous black nation – and a buying one at that. From a capitalist point of view, this makes for great investment opportunities.
  • The fact that Nigeria currently lags behind so much – in infrastructure and developmental terms – hints at the size of the potential for innovation and transformation, and at the huge number of vacancies that exist for ‘transformers’. What I think this means is that the world will be hearing a lot about Nigeria and high-achieving Nigerians (in the public and private sectors) in the near future.

NIGERIA – THE COUNTRY

  • The Nigerian Green and White flag is a notable national symbol. The green color symbolises agriculture, seeing that the country is endowed with masses of arable land, while the white colour signifies unity and peace. Other national symbols include the Nigerian Coat of Arms, which depicts an eagle on a black shield, tri-sected by two wavy silver bands, and supported on either side by two chargers. The national motto underlies the coat-of -arms: “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.” Her national symbols convey great meaning to its people.
  • The Nigerian accent is currently ranked by CNN Global Experiences as the 5th sexiest accent in the world.
  • Nigeria is home to Nollywood, one of the world’s biggest film industries.

NIGERIA – THE CULTURE, THE FOOD, THE WAY OF LIFE

  • Something great to like about Nigeria is our cultural diversity. A strong affinity exists, despite our differences. Learning about other ethnic cultures in my country really helped me personally relate to other cultures when abroad.
  • I think the food is tastier in Nigeria than that I have found in other countries.
  • Nigerians live a communal life style. The extended family is part of the immediate family in a Nigerian home.

NIGERIA – THE MUSIC, THE MOVIES, THE DANCE, THE ART

  • Nigeria has produced many world class musicians. A notable mention in this regard is Fela Anikulapo Kuti. A Broadway show titled ‘FELA!’ was produced in 2009 depicting the life and times of the Afrobeat musician.
  • Nigeria’s movie industry, Nollywood, is reputedly the 3rd largest film industry after Hollywood and Bollywood, and has grown gradually into a $250 million industry in more than 10 years.
  • Nigerian indigenous musical instruments are unique, soulful and rhythmic. They comprise the popular Talking Drum, producing proverbial and storytelling sounds, the Shaker (shekere), the Udu drum, the Lute, the leg and arm Rattle, the Omele, the Ogene (Gong originating in Eastern Nigeria), the Ekwe drum and the Kakaki (A 4m metal trumpet popular in Northern Nigeria). Many of these instruments have been incorporated in South American music over the years

NIGERIA – GEOGRAPHY and NATURAL RESOURCES   

  • Nigeria is a nation blessed with rich human and natural resources. As the 8th largest exporter of Oil in the world, with the 10th largest proven reserves, our blessings cannot be overemphasised. No earthquakes, no tsunamis, no droughts, an evergreen land. The rest of the world should live here.
  • The beauty of the Nigerian state cannot but leave one in awe being blessed with captivating physical features and abundant wild life. From the rolling hills to the vast plains in the North Central Nigeria and the forests in the South, the beautiful scenery of the country is more than breathtaking and with the wildlife spread all over the country, Nigeria is surely a beauty to behold and a tourist’s delight all year round.
  • Nigeria is blessed with tremendous agricultural resources. Cotton in the North, Cocoa & Oil palm in the south amongst many others. The flag is green for a reason

NIGERIA – WEST AFRICA, AFRICA and THE WORLD

  • Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa. Approximately 1 out of every 2 West Africans, 1 out of every 4 Africans, and 1 out of every 5 persons of African origin is a Nigerian.
  • Nigeria is the largest contributor of troops to the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) and by extension, is the largest force for peace and stability in West Africa.
  • A Nigerian will stand out anywhere you find him/her, from Libya to London, Tokyo to Timbuktu. Well known examples include Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets, USA), Olumide Oyedeji (Seattle Sonics), Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Sunday Adelaja (Ukraine), Chris Aire (US), etc.

NIGERIA – INDUSTRIOUS, INNOVATIVE and ENTERPRISING, with ACHIEVEMENTS     

  • Nigerians are intelligent, brilliant minds who have proven their mettle in various fields – Wole Soyinka was the first African to win the much coveted Nobel Prize for literature in 1986. Chinua Achebe’s classic novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ was ranked as number 14 in a list of top 100 books in the world by Newsdesk in 2009. Others include Cyprian Ekwensi, Mabel Segun, Chimamanda Adichie and Helon Habila whose literary works have won both international and local awards at various times.
  • We have budding fashion designers. Yes! It’s a line every Bunmi, Amaka and Amina has decided to tow but to disregard the effort and originality of our Fashion Designers would be disrespectful. Tiffany Amber, Lanre Da Silva and Deola Sagoe are building world renowned brands, not to mention the legacy developed by the likes of Abba Folawiyo, Maureen Onigbanjo, Remi Lagos and Zizzi Cardow.
  • Nigerians have excelled in the fields of economics and finance, managing well established global bodies. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the current Minister of Finance, was until recently a Managing Director at The World Bank.  Obiageli Ezekwisili is currently the Vice President for Africa at The World Bank. Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi is a first class graduate of Oxford, and Managing Partner of Global infrastructure Partner (GIP), a concessionaire of London’s Gatwick International Airport.
  • We take technology and expand it in ways those who created it could not have imagined. For instance, take the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) which allows you to send broadcast messages to all addresses on your contacts list; Nigerians recently found a unique way of advertising the different businesses they do. Someone started a message highlighting the fact that many people in Nigeria are entrepreneurs or provide a service and included his BB PIN in the message and sent to all his contacts with the charge that they state the service they provide, include their PIN and send on to all their contacts too. This seemingly small campaign has gone “viral” with whole lists of entrepreneurs and their BB PINs being passed from phone to phone. This is a clear sign of the ingenuity of Nigerians!

NIGERIA – GREAT PEOPLE

  • Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation in the world (over 160 million) and most populous in Africa – a gold mine of energetic, determined and talented people in each and every field. From Lagos to Aba to Kano, the Nigerian business spirit and desire to succeed is visible. It requires just proper harnessing of these human resources before Nigeria becomes the super power she was meant to be.
  • Nigerians are passionate, friendly, welcoming, hospitable, and well cultured people. The average Nigerian reflects a combination of vivacity, intelligence, energy, talent, and resolution.
  • We are a nation of people that can hardly hide their excitement at seeing family and friends. Some misconstrue this thinking we are loud but let’s just say we are EXPRESSIVE! If you see us on the streets of New York making a big ruckus and hugging? No sweat. We are just happy to see each other.

NIGERIA – THE RESILIENT SPIRIT

  • The Giant of Africa: Not ignoring the current challenges, eventually, when we get our acts right, we will reign supreme on the global scene. We have the potential and as is much touted by the Warri people – “Naija no dey carry last”
  • The ‘survivor-mentality’ is hard-wired into the DNA of Nigeria’s people – The fact that against all the odds (and there are many of them), Nigerians continue to live, hustle and seek to triumph. It is not by mistake that Nigeria is regarded as one of the “happiest” countries in the world, despite its challenging economic and social conditions.
  • We are hardy. The average Nigerian does business under circumstances that are unimaginable to people from other parts. In a place where there is no power, no credit, and scant regulation, people do business and do very well for themselves too. If you can make it in Nigeria, you can make it anywhere in the world.

NIGERIA – TOURISM and SPORTS

  • Nigeria is an amazing tourist haven and is home to the Obudu Cattle Ranch, located in Calabar. It is only 45 miles from the Cameroon border. The Obudu Plateau is spread over 40 sq. miles and is 5,200 feet above sea level. The Obudu resort features a Gorilla Camp where tourists may observe gorillas in their natural habitat.
  • Nigeria has two UNESCO world heritage sites, the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa. UNESCO world heritage sites are places designated as being of cultural significance.
  • Nigeria has produced great footballers like Teslim “Thunder” Balogun (the first Nigerian to play for an English Club – QPR), Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini (who scored Nigeria’s first ever goal at the World Cup), Nwankwo Kanu, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, John Mikel Obi, Osaze Odemwingie, to mention but a few.
  • Nigeria has excelled in athletics over the years, still holding continental records in the 100m men and women, 4x100m men and women, 400m men and women, among others. Over 100 skilled Nigerian professional footballers played in First Division leagues in different countries all over Europe in the 2010/2011 season, 9 in England; 8 each in Finland, Norway; 10 in Ukraine and 7 in Sweden.

NIGERIA – UNITY in DIVERSITY

  • Nigerians, despite our diversity are a united people who always strive to help one another. With 774 local government areas, multi religious and ethnic affiliations, 36 States, and population of over 160 million, we still stand undeterred to move forward together.
  • Even outside the country, Nigerians remain united. This gives a quiet assurance somewhat that you can get on a plane and go to any country of the world and find a Nigerian there who will not only make you feel welcome but will go out of their way to be of really good help. I have experienced this several times on my travels and each time it amazes me how all I need to be is a Nigerian, not Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa and once I run into another Nigerian, I will immediately feel at home.
  • Our greatest strength lies in our diversity.

The ‘419 Reasons to Like Nigeria’ Campaign is in partnership with ‘The 419Positive Project’.

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Introducing – “419 Reasons to Like Nigeria”

Dating far back to the 80’s, the term ‘419’ has associated Nigeria and Nigerians primarily with online financial scams – ‘Advance Fee Fraud’. Most unfortunately, the situation exacerbated to such an extent that the internet became overwhelmed with such negative news attributed to Nigeria.

In response to this, ‘The 419Positive Project’ was initiated, with an ambitious objective of generating four hundred and nineteen positive attributes about Nigeria and Nigerians. “If you could tell the world one remarkable thing about Nigeria and Nigerians, what would it be?” Furthermore, in Peter Reilly’s Forbes blog post (Aug 28, 2011), he suggested a similar intervention to his Nigerian audience – “Make lists of 419 reasons to like Nigeria and Nigerians…” His suggestion came as one remedial to his previous post (Nigerians Switching From Greed to Fear), after some Nigerians took exceptions to his views. Other online posts by Chika Uwazie, Nmachi Jidenma and Akin Akintayo, have further lent a voice in this regard.

Pulling these ideas and suggestions together, an online rebranding campaign is being furthered. The aim is clear – to consistently inundate the internet with positive Nigerian attributes, such that when anyone types in ‘419’ in a search engine, it yields positive commentary about Nigeria, irrespective of the pre-existing negativity. This drive is labelled 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria. Awareness is currently being ramped up online, with the topic having trended on Twitter in the early hours of 2nd of September. There will be the big bang launch on October 1, 2011 (Independence Day), of at least 100 Nigerian blogs and sites listing four hundred and nineteen remarkable reasons to like Nigeria, with subsequent monthly blog publishing till the end of 2011.

Every Nigerian with a blog, website, and online presence of any sort (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, account etc.) is encouraged to volunteer and be a part of this campaign. With sincerity and candour, it is true that some, in times past, have contributed unfortunately to the prevailing negative association of ‘419’ with Nigeria, however, the time is NOW for us to counter-strategise by providing alternative content via an online rebranding initiative.

To register your interest, simply send an email to volunteer@419Positive.org, with the subject –CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER, and be sure to provide contact details (email address) so you can be reached subsequently. Volunteers will be contacted latest by the 9th of September, 2011.

Be a part of this drive…the time is now! Let’s tell the world 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria.

Oliver Twist: the Funky Marketing Lever

“Entertainment of the people, for the people, and by the people” – #OliverTwistocracy

When launching a marketing campaign, various levers may be deployed, including adverts, road shows, game shows, PR, launch events etc. The right mix of levers based on the product in question usually leads to success in the market place. This mix gives your product unstoppable leverage. The ‘D’banj-Oliver’ dance video competition, created by ace music producer Don Jazzy, is a lever of sorts.

Created on the 18th of August, the competition has won an amazing customer patronage, boasting almost 25,000 hits in a few days. A few things are noticeable. Customer response is not local. There is a growing response from Nigerians in the Diaspora and also a few foreigners, signifying product acceptance from the Western world. A fully global reach is definitely imminent.

Analytically, one would ask, what was the customer need? What do people want? People are definitely in search of a spotlight moment, wanting to express themselves freely. The thought of a remotely possible reward further becomes an incentive to do what you have always wanted to do.  People want to dance, act, entertain, be entertained and have fun. They want to be seen, recognised, mentioned and appreciated. It is these needs that Don Jazzy either knowingly or inadvertently has targeted with this competition. With ‘The Entertainer’ himself, D’banj, featuring on the Oliver track, it makes the competition such a strategic fit to these customer needs.

Evidently, the competition is transforming customers via backward integration. They are not only receiving, they are creating and producing. The ‘D’banj – Oliver’ competition is creating producers and entertainers out of customers. The musical product is intense in fostering customer experience. Peopl e are involved in the product. It makes them happy, and fuels an internal ‘feel – good’ experience. Experiential products are known to win customers largely. So many of the videos uploaded already were clearly done for fun and nothing else, pure entertainment – the customer experience.

The typical reality TV show involves several talented individuals vying to audition. Large halls are hired and huge spend is incurred on lighting, multimedia, logistics, security and sound engineering. “Oliver Twist” seems to be an innovative alternative to this existing model.  Why hire a large hall, pay for an elaborate sound system and live band, coupled with logistics and security costs? Don Jazzy’s Oliver Twist model is deployed online, subtly transferring the cost of production to the customer.

Don Jazzy and his team created the content, recorded a simple, easy, 2 minute “how to” video, and uploaded online at minimal cost. It was then left to the online and offline audience to download the content, create their own concepts, rehearse, self-audition, and upload their videos, all at their own cost.

With several video submissions, the buck then stops at the Don’s desk, leaving him and his team to watch, analyse, judge and select winners of the competition. Fortunately for him, what he has created for Mohits, at a minimal cost, is an ‘ideas bank’ for video entertainment. Idea generation is the first step of the innovation process, and Don Jazzy has through this competition utilised this concept. The submissions from his customers, serve as feedback, indicating further customer preferences, styles, imaginations, and proclivities. These can easily be harnessed, leveraged and refined to feed into the next Mo’hits music video production, as the case may be.

As is the case with every model and strategy, there are attendant risks involved. With customers becoming producers and entertainers in this competition, there is the risk of the loss of control on quality and appropriateness of content. Consequently, there are already evidences of video submissions that some have assessed to be inappropriate, which should be rated for viewing. Risk mitigation for this marketing strategy will require content constraining guidelines for future purposes.

Obviously, marketing channels such as YouTube, user generated content and viral campaigns have become a new frontier in engagement for brands willing to take the plunge. Regardless, the media ripples of ‘Oliver’ have extended their spread to “old media” as well with Channels Television airing a spot profile on the Entertainment segment of its highly rated 10 o’clock news.

The whole competition creates further market penetration power for the Mo’hits firm, its major brands – D’banj and DonJazzy, and speculatively, may well be a marketing strategy just ahead of the next album launch. Market sweeping product sales will certainly be in order.

Lessons on Leadership & Good Governance

(Excerpts from Sonala Olumhense’s article, originally published via SaharaReporters website and reproduced with permission)

Good governance—the onslaught for development and progress through the thicket of corruption, mediocrity and fear of change—is attack, not defense.  Good governance is defiance and demolition of the status quo, not compromise or negotiation with it.

Good governance is the courage to advance, not the authority to sit down—for you may be sitting down on a dying child, or suffocating a genius.

Good governance is NOW, not later; it is ME, not a Minister or a Commissioner or a Permanent Secretary. That is why great leaders deploy personal example.  They liberate hidden gems, including the time to act, and the talents.  They smash down barricaded doors and mountainous stonewalls; in their place they erect giant monuments and expressways that define tomorrow.

That leads me into what is perhaps the most significant thing about great leaders: fear.  They are always afraid, and they are not afraid to be afraid.  They are afraid that while they control power, they cannot control Time.  They are afraid to squander that precious and irreplaceable resource in merriment or indolence.  They want to ascertain they do not run out of it when they are conquering disease or leading education.

Great leaders are always clear that the authority in their hands is a loan, not a possession.  They are afraid that if they delay, History may unmask them as a fraud.

The Great ones are suspicious of the temptations of comfort and sleep.  They understand that social progress demands they stay awake to plot and plan and prompt.  They know they must not only inspire, they must perspire.

The Great Ones understand the meaning of doing; that doing is what genuine service is about.  They understand the paradox that only service defines leadership.

This is why the Great ones do not wait.  They know that waiting is for travelers with no sense of History.  The Great Ones, having seen rain interrupt too many festivities, and festivities interrupt too many good intentions, hold procrastination in contempt.”

Original article is found here

4 years, Not Enough?

“Four years is too short for a President or a Governor to embark on any meaningful programme because it takes about a year or two before the administration settles down even with the right set of Ministers or Commissioners. Then, if the latter turn out “not to be good”, after one year or two, the President or Governor is compelled to reshuffle his cabinet and by the time the new cabinet settles down, it is time for another election, and everyone is busy trying to win an election”

These are the reported words of President Jonathan at the May 26 pre-inauguration lecture, as captured by Dr. Reuben Abati in his article – “The Speech Jonathan Shouldn’t Have Made” (May 29, 2011).

It is baffling that at the onset of this presidential project, the manager already is convinced that the primary issue of concern is time. Worse still, the time concern is not about service delivery, but rather, of political decision making and testing the waters.

Typical project management frameworks require first that a project manager defines the Project Objectives and Strategies (POS) in alignment with stakeholders. Subsequently, a Scope of Work (SoW) is crafted out, detailing the work required to complete the project.  The SoW provides an initial answer to the question “What are you going to do and accomplish?” It is broken down into measurable deliverables with individual activities and tasks assigned to specific responsibilities. When activity definition and sequencing is completed via a project schedule/plan, it is then that the project manager can ascertain what the estimated duration of the project, associated costs, and resources required, will be. How then is it that Mr President decided to inform the public of the inadequacy of a 4 year term, just before inauguration? Has a scope of work been developed and made available? Or do we assume the grandiose pre-election manifesto serves this purpose? One would think not. 4 years certainly was never too short for the proliferation of corrupt activities by some, neither was it too short for past regimes, so what is it too short for?

An alternative method to project scheduling would be through constrained timing. Stakeholders constrain the project manager to a time limit. In such an occurrence, the PM is required to deploy his skill of work sequencing, resourcing and schedule optimisation to ensure that the project goals are realised within the constrained timeline. In spite of the imperfections of the 2011 elections, it became an example of project implementation under a constrained timeline. INEC was constrained to optimize resources to ensure a May 29 handover date. Some would argue then, that the time constraint became the undoing of the whole process and as such many managers would not willingly assent to such terms. However, this method of time constraint is typically deployed where there is urgency involved and the project must be brought to completion at a certain date, for strategic reasons. Would one be able to fault the fact that Nigeria is in such a state requiring urgent development? Perhaps the constitutional time constraint of 4 years is most needed at this time.

Any ideas for tenure extension must be premised on cogent arguments. Has the scope of work increased significantly? Where true, is it impossible to establish continuity of governance such that project deliverables are progressed by subsequent governments? The recent alleged argument of term extension to quell the violence that attends second term electioneering campaigns is weak and amounts to a lame excuse. A scenario of tenure extension to a single term of 5 or 7 years prevents the incumbent from re-running for office while giving additional time without the guarantee of performance. The rival candidates, who now realise that the price of battle is a longer term one-off contract, will go to the utmost extent, violence inclusive, to secure and maximise the ‘benefits’ of that single term. What this implies is a greater boomerang effect of violence.  With elimination of repeatability (via a single term), and a higher, more attractive price (5 or 7 years), the effort will magnify commensurately, with attendant negativities.

At a time when the world is clamouring for the emergence of Nigeria and Africa as a whole, the focus of government should be concentrated on the service delivery dimensions of speed, quality and dependability. While not compromising on the quality of our development initiatives, we must realise again that history is in a hurry and speed is of essence. Hence, the Goodluck generation, as aptly described by Tolu Ogunlesi, must get to the drawing table, to itemise a scope of work, achievable within the constitutional limit of 4 years. We cannot afford to waste time passing a constitutional amendment bill to change term limits and conditions. Such an act, amounts to a misplacement of priorities. While Boko Haram is wreaking havoc from the North East down to the Middle Belt, State governments are struggling to guarantee payment of a revised minimum wage, young Nigerians remain jobless in the face of mass unemployment, and kerosene supply continuously fluctuates, term limit extension is an evident strategic misfit, failing to address domestic needs.

Mr President, let’s put the numbers aside for a bit. Reveal your scope of work and what you intend to achieve reasonably within 4 years. Ensure prompt service delivery and let your achievements outlive your term. Reformers are not majorly known for how long they spent, but rather how well they performed.

Tick-Tock, Goodluck

The euphoria and hullabaloo that characterized the past elections are already weeks behind us, gradually fading away into the annals of history. While aggrieved stakeholders wait on the tribunals to resume sitting at the end of May, the majority of the citizenry have simply continued with their daily routine, basically moving on. In a study of over 65 countries published in 2003 by the UK New Scientist magazine, Nigeria was named as the country with the happiest people on earth. The study confirmed that money does not buy happiness, and any Nigerian would agree to that. The Nigerian happiness is probably deduced from the resolute, optimistic and surviving mindset of the typical Nigerian. Against all odds, the Nigerian mind discovers the means to surmount, survive and still celebrate. This mind has learned to ‘move on’ over the years, but for how much longer?

The system of governance in Nigeria has generally been characterized by slow speed. Every issue births a new inquiry panel or implementation committee. It is almost rare to see projects implemented with a sense of urgency in mind. The overarching unfortunate impression observed is that we have a lot of time. The much touted ‘state of emergency’ phrase has become void of meaning. Much talk, with little or no action. The power sector has been in the process of ‘reform’ for many years now. So much time has gone into the development of a roadmap and initial implementation; the impact? Minimal. The stakeholders do not even appear to be working under any form of pressure, yet the power issue may be described as the most crucial hinge for economic growth in Nigeria. They emerge from each weekly ‘council’ rendezvous only to make press statements, with business continuing as usual. Emergency projects are never implemented casually, as the word implies. Where is the sense of urgency?

The president and his incoming cabinet need to embrace this reality – Nigeria’s economic development requires haste. It must not be business as usual. One of the first signals of Dr Jonathan’s seriousness of purpose and urgency of delivery will be the selection and appointment of federal ministers. Square pegs must not be found in round holes. Sound technocrats who have been seen to be swift and efficient in service delivery must be appointed to these positions. Time is not on our side. We cannot afford as a nation to appoint a bunch of clueless, pocket lining, conscience seared politicians into key national positions any longer. If he is to prove himself to be the true change agent who brings with him a breath of fresh air, then the president must set a 100 day goal for his cabinet. The goal must comprise of visible and achievable targets. Road repair and maintenance can be completed within a hundred days in each geopolitical zone. International airport luggage conveyor belts, air conditioning units can be overhauled within this time frame. Purchase orders for power generating turbines can be placed within a 100 days. Federal primary and secondary schools can be moderately refurbished within the same. Huge budget cuts, especially in the outrageous allowances of national senators and representatives can be achieved likewise. This is the definition of emergency.

Time waits for no man, so goes the saying. The clock is ticking, time is passing, people are waiting, and the future is calling. Who will catapult the nation away from the shackles of the past into its years of economic development and growth? Who will re-align our national priorities? Who will re-model the national assembly into a service centre and wipe out this embarrassing profit centre mode? Who will put his footprint in the sands of history as the trigger of change?

On May 29, Dr Jonathan will be sworn in as president. I sincerely hope he will hear the clock of the future, ticking continuously in his ears. Tick-tock, Goodluck. Nigeria is waiting.

Nigeria – What Next?

The elections have come and gone. A long month of campaigns, political engineering, analysis, postulation, tragedies and seeming successes has passed. Today, Africa’s most populated country is closing on the verge of transition from one democratically ‘elected’ government to another. Were the hurdles clearly scaled? There are reasonable doubts. Describing the process by the popular lexicon, we can conclude somewhat that the country obviously ‘wobbled and fumbled’ to this point. Nonetheless, it is a marked departure from the past and this effort should be lauded.

As is typical with high profile board meetings, walking through an agenda, the stakeholders brainstorm at lengthy sessions, conclude on consensus items, pen down issues and areas of concern, and then finalize with two words – Next Steps! Consequent to the agreements made, specific action items are identified for immediate implementation and responsibilities are assigned. Dr Goodluck Jonathan has been declared winner of the presidential election, the South Western states save one have been re-captured by the Action Congress of Nigeria, election results are being queried by some parties, INEC struggles to resolve the inconclusive election in Imo State, while all eyes seem set on the May 29 self handover date – Next Steps?

Dr Jonathan must now get to the drawing board. This is not the time to appease political supporters or campaign loyalists. Neither is this the moment for a regurgitation of a 5, 7 or 9 point agenda. Seeing that the votes he amassed, where valid, represent the will of the people, perhaps we may assume, albeit questionably, that he owes no one or that he is no longer anybody’s boy? Whichever is the case, this is his moment to wield the force of character and demonstrate the psyche of progress. He must call the bluff of all potential performance saboteurs and detractors.

He will do the country great good by adopting the model of governance already implemented in Lagos state. Fighting corruption may not be a strong point, and his campaign did not deny that. The Lagos state model is not belaboured with anti-graft operations, but is rather focused on the core of service delivery. Dr Jonathan should employ the same model. He must envision the Nigerian state as a business with its citizens being the customers, who frantically beckon for service delivery, while desiring an end to corruption. They maintain a higher preference to see government expenditure on power generation and supply than endless litigations against offenders.

If the customer truly is king, then Dr Jonathan must meet their preferred demand. Electricity supply is a core customer requirement. Education, health, security, roads and infrastructure development are ingrained in the customer’s desires. If their needs are not met within his government’s lifecycle (a mere 4 years), the availability of a substitute product with low switching cost will make a change in customer choice inevitable.

His next steps then are clear: Meet the demands of Nigerians! Assemble a cabinet of realistic and innovative technocrats who can deliver change to individual parastatals. Set quick win targets and assign timelines. Employ the strategy of communication and involvement. A monthly accountability report to the citizenry through a live media chat, with an open avenue for people to express their questions and concerns is not an option, it must be done. Nigerians must know what is going on, how funds are accounted for, what projects are being implemented, what the issues and resolution plans are. Prof Jega has evidenced this already. His numerous media sessions successfully communicated INEC’s situation to viewers and by large endeared many more to his credibility. That being said, talk still is cheap. Dr Jonathan must walk the talk.

In the process of service delivery, with a medium term focus, stricter policies for adherence to the rule of law should be introduced. As the leader of the nation, Dr Jonathan and his party, PDP, should embrace the policies of transparency and rule of law by allowing INEC to turn the spotlight on him. He should demonstrate to INEC that in adherence to section 91 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act, he did not incur more than one billion naira on his presidential campaign, neither did any individual or entity donate more than one million naira to his campaign fund according to section 91 (9). Where the Executive clearly shows adherence to the law, it becomes a strong case for promulgating a national anti-graft campaign.

Security must become the watchword of his administration. There must be an end to the periodic breakout of mindless arson and carnage. Foresight and speed must be seen to be the underlying operational dimensions of security. Forces must be deployed early to areas where tension is seen to accrue. The lives of Nigerian youths, serving their fatherland, were wasted in the recent violence that followed the presidential elections because security forces delayed in responding and as such the victims were not protected from the raging mob. In determining his next steps, Dr Jonathan must revalue the worth of life for Nigerians and doggedly resolve to reverse the trend.

Whatever the next steps may be, in addition to the aforementioned, they should be communicated to the media in the weeks to come. They must be unambiguous, succinct and specific as they will become some of the standards by which his performance will be measured. The next four years will to a large extent provide an answer to Sonny Okosun’s age old question – Which way Nigeria? The first answer will be embedded in Dr Jonathan’s response to the thought of the moment – What Next?

 

SHOP4FREE – An Exemplary Case of CSR

In an age and time when many Nigerian churches and Christian ministries seem more often to ‘take’ from the community rather than give, Global Harvest Church Lagos has joined the league of those few that have redefined ministry. On April 22, 2011, Global Harvest Church Lagos launched a novel and innovative community outreach initiative tagged ‘Shop4Free’. Perhaps choosing to introduce such a concept on Good Friday was just in line with the spirit of the season, commemorating Jesus’ death and crucifixion, and indeed a perfect time to demonstrate true love.  Shop 4 Free is a community project initiated with an initial goal to feed, clothe and give hope to over 1,000 people at its first outdoor market.

The doors of the venue, NECA House, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, opened at 7am to a crowd of people. With an overall turnout of about three thousand people, the venue was saturated with a buzz of expectation and joy. This crowd of people comprised social workers, street cleaners, ‘okada’ riders, mechanics, law enforcement agents, the less privileged, and yes, they shopped for free. The church hall was stacked full with variety of products ranging from food items including bags of beans, rice, semovita, tins of beverage and milk, cartons of noodles, spaghetti and sugar, packs of frozen chicken, to clothing with mini boutiques set up for both male and female wear, books, drinks and personal effects. Forming a queue, people were assigned Shop4Free vouchers worth N2000 for individuals and N5000 for families. They proceeded to walk through the well structured make-shift supermarket to pick items for themselves and their families. Adequate controls were put in place by the project committee to ensure each person/family got just a voucher and used it only once, to make more available for others. The shop closed at 3pm, after 8 hours of meeting people’s needs. In the words of the Senior Pastor, Rev Victor Adeyemi, “The joy on people’s faces yesterday made it worthwhile for Global Harvest to reach out with this initiative”.

In what is seen as an exemplary case of Church Social Responsibility (CSR), Global Harvest church has joined those few others in setting the pace for community focused ministry. Departing from the general impression of prosperity for the benefit of the church, or perhaps as many may reason for the ‘Man of God’, Global Harvest church appears set to create a paradigm shift, keeping focus on more on the community. Shop4Free was funded by generous donations and wilful giving from individuals near and far. Could it be that there are still many benevolent individuals out there who seek such channels to reach out to the society? They may not be inclined to contribute to the direct needs of the church, but are enthusiastic to support whatever the church determines to do for the society. Perhaps this model of ministry is laden with such potential for growth and maximum impact. It certainly is reminiscent of the early missionaries who made their way to Africa, to preach the gospel. Their tools of outreach were embedded in the provision of service to the community, and as such they built schools, hospitals and clinics, roads and houses, many of which are still in use today.

The Nigerian society craves for change like never before. While we wait on the government to get its acts right with education, health, security and other forms of infrastructure development, there is an opportunity for non governmental institutions, including the church, to tap into. Some churches have such nationwide coverage that positions them to reach out to practically every region in the country. Embracing such possible initiatives as Shop4Free, Health4Free, Jobs4Free, Education4Free, Roads4Free, Housing4Free, with sincerity of purpose, and nationwide deployment, will certainly put joy on more faces, while drastically reducing poverty levels. There will be innumerable positive effects on society. Societal impact cannot be left strictly in the hands of the Government. The church and religious institutions must definitely play a part.

For Global Harvest church, this surely must be one of many steps in the right direction, and indeed an exemplary case of church social responsibility.  There must be more to come!

The Presidential Elections – A Political Paradox

The paralysis of analysis. This is what the recently concluded presidential election has generated for some thinkers and analysts. There is no dispute to the fact that the election was seen to be credible and peaceful. It has been adjudged to be comparatively free and fair, relative to previous elections of the sort. The turnout of voters at various polling units was quite impressive the highest figures reported at Bayelsa (85.6%), Imo (83.6%) and Abia (78%) states. Overall, the South Western states reported the lowest figures with an average turnout of 32.96%. Accreditation started promptly across the zones and subsequent voting was reported to be relatively smooth. Counting and collation was generally concluded within 48 hours, with the final announcement of a majority win by the ruling party and incumbent president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

The ‘Big One’ has come and gone. Results have been declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) but rejected by the major opposition party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Sporadic violence broke out in some Northern states over the last two days following the declaration of results. These events have exhumed the age old issue of a possible North/South political divide. Does this divide truly exist?

The results of the presidential election show what may seem to be a sweeping of the North West and North East by the CPC, with its presidential candidate being Gen Buhari, a Northerner from North Western state of Katsina. The remaining four geopolitical zones were overwhelmingly won by PDP, fielding a South-South candidate, Goodluck Jonathan. The general interpretation given to this pattern is that Nigerians voted along geographical fault lines. Did they really? Did the North vote specifically for the Northern candidate? Did the South vote in similar manner? The NW and NE vote analysis shows that 31.5% and 31.1% of voters there supported the PDP candidate who is from the SS. So, it is clear then that assuming the absolute veracity of these figures, an average of 31% of the core North voted for a Southern candidate. In the course of pre election campaigns, CPC did not spread its reach to the SE or SS, perhaps hoping for a northern majority vote. This probably accounts for its dismal performance therein. However, if CPC had campaigned vigorously in these zones, is there no possibility that Southerners would have voted for a Northern candidate? It is beginning to seem that the Nigerian electorate demonstrated a paradigm shift towards voting for the individual, as against a blind vote based on geopolitical affiliation.

The other issue that becomes striking following this election is the personality/party debate. It is not news to any Nigerian how that the ruling party, PDP, has been in power for 12 years, without commensurate economic and infrastructural development. In this light, it would hardly be expected for the progress minded to cast votes for this same party whose performance they have repeatedly criticised and ranked as low. However, the election results prove otherwise. Have Nigerians then stopped being progress minded? Perhaps not. On the contrary, general sentiment holds that the electorate voted for the person they envisioned as being better positioned to foster national progress, irrespective of the political party platform on which he ran. This is the paradox of Nigerian politics. Ideally, one would reason that a typical party member will share the party’s political vision and ideology. How possible is it for a party candidate to function outside the political platform to which he is loyal and owes his victory? The majority of Nigerians who voted for the incumbent on the 16th of April probably have expectations of transformational performance and record economic development even though such grand achievements have rarely been attributed to the PDP. Is it possible to vote for the personality, divorcing the party? Is this the definition of an alternative political perspective?

It remains important to note that whatever analysis has been done is only as good as the authenticity and veracity of the declared results. The major assumption, albeit questionable, is that vote figures were not inflated in any of the six geopolitical zones. Analysis remains only as relevant as its underlying data is. In the coming days and years, many things will become clearer to the world of political analysts and observers. Time will tell whether there is a possibility for a political personality to break the political umbilical between himself and his party. Until then, we can only observe, analyse and hope.

Who Will You Vote For?

For those who are still wondering and analysing in their minds, the following thoughts are highlighted to stimulate discussion and an eventual decision. The current tussle for the presidency seems to be between Dr Goodluck Jonathan (PDP), Mallam Nuhu RIbadu (ACN), Mallam Shekarau (ANPP) and Gen Buhari (CPC). Who will you vote for on Saturday?

Dr Goodluck Jonathan is by all means a noble man, who has ascended the various levels of executive governance in Nigeria. He has risen through the ranks from Deputy Governor to Governor, from Vice President to President.  However, there are concerns and challenges to the possibility of him continuing in office for the next 4 years – As the flag bearer for PDP, Nigeria’s ruling party and possibly the largest political party in Africa, Jonathan may be limited in whatever may be his noble aims and desires for the country by a number of factors. Most striking of these is his underlying association with ‘god fathers’ in the PDP framework. Like it or not, he who pays the piper, dictates the tune. Despite the fact that the party seems to be somewhat fragmented currently, it will be folly to undermine the potential influence of ex generals like Obasanjo and IBB, in the face of a PDP presidential win. These associations may easily become clogs in the wheel of Dr Jonathan’s good intentions. Unresolved issues including the alleged case of money laundering reportedly filed by the EFCC against his wife, Mrs Patience Jonathan, have been swept under the carpet. There is also a continued allegation of tacit facilitation of the release of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, who is wanted by both Interpol and EFCC for money laundering charges and stealing funds worth $290m. Ibori is a strong member of the PDP, and it is believed that he played a key role in bankrolling the political campaign of the Yar’Adua-Jonathan ticket in 2007. Whether proven or not, these issues portend potential risks to Jonathan’s rule. How easy will it be for Dr Jonathan to call the bluff of his party stalwarts and ‘god fathers’? Charity begins at home! How believable is his anti-corruption plan, in the face of the allegations against his wife? Will he be free to implement positive development policies for the nation? Or will his intentions be choked and truncated by the many PDP stakeholders? Will he spend the next 4 possible years politicking and managing issues?

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu remains the well respected anti graft czar. However, his political strategy apparently did not have sufficient foresight considering the implications of him running on the ACN platform. Now, he seems to be positioned between a rock and a hard place. In responses to questions at debates and interviews, Ribadu made statements practically contradicting his anti graft war in the EFCC. It is recalled that he once described the corruption charge against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, as being of international dimensions. He also stated then that there was a petition of complicity in money laundering charged against Mrs Jonathan. Recently, his statements imply that all such charges have been cleared. He probably did not envisage political challenges of this proportion. The other concern about his renowned performance at EFCC is that it was highly leveraged on executive support and empowerment by the presidency. This causes one to wonder whether he will be able to deliver even better performance if placed at the helm of national affairs, without such leverage. If there truly is a case against Tinubu, will he have the nerve to pursue it if voted into power? Will he function as a free president? Will his hands be tied?

Mallam Shekarau’s political campaign has been heavily hinged on the supposed successes achieved during his tenure as Governor of Kano state. There have been numerous questions to these claims especially from a number of Kano indigenes that do not share the same view with him. Asides this, his only other obvious leverage is his oratory skill. How many Nigerians really see him as president?

General Buhari’s major antecedent is the inflexible, autocratic style of his military rule in the early 80’s. Asides this and other questionable policies that characterised his tenure as military head of state, his leadership is widely acclaimed to be honest and without corruption. Buhari, it is said, owes no man! In a complex political state like ours, dominated by ex-military men turned politicians, who have so infiltrated the coffers of government to an inconceivable level, a Buhari presidency may be an effective checkmate to their nefarious activities. Nigeria probably needs an honest man of such integrity and calibre to be able to take on such stalwarts and put them in their place once and for all, similar to the Jerry Rawlings story in Ghana. Does he have the potential to do this? Probably yes. Will he? Is he truly the changed man he claims to be? Or is the country in line for a rude shock? One wonders. Still, the strength of his candidacy is likely to guarantee a period of stability, accountability, and integrity in governance, thus establishing a bridge between the current despicable state and the immediate future of vibrant development and youth empowerment. His age guarantees nothing more than 4 years in government. If there’s anyone that can tackle corruption, he probably is. His lack of economic and innovative prowess also suggests that Nigeria may see a repeat of the recruitment of skilled technocrats to create a formidable economic team similar to the Obasanjo type. Buhari may not be the final definition of change….he may be the beginning of change relative to the current Nigerian context.

I was asked a question today by a renowned Professor as we concluded discussions relating to Nigeria and politics. He asked “So, will you also be corrupt?” Having given him my response, I have since forwarded the same question to friends and colleagues. This same question becomes an acid test for these presidential aspirants – a possible tool to select by elimination. Based on what is currently known of them, Which can you say will not be corrupt? Which is likely to be successful at waging a war against corruption at all levels of government? Putting them on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how would you rate each candidate’s corruption potential index (CPI)? Another acid test question may be – Which of them is most likely to create an enabling environment for leap frog development in Nigeria within 4 years?” The last acid test will be – “Which of them is most able to break Nigerian governance free from the clutches of the PDP behemoth?”

Think. Think. Think Again. Eliminate. Decide. Who will you vote for?


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