This category contains 39 posts

The Cocoa Alternative

“In the next 10 years, Nigeria will be the largest producer of cocoa in the world”.

This was the prediction of African agriculture experts from Conservation Alliance in April 2012.

Cocoa has witnessed tremendous growth in production and demand over aeons. According to the World Cocoa Foundation, there has been a 3% annual increase in demand for the past 100 years. Being the key ingredient in the production of chocolate, this continuous growth in cocoa demand is in tandem with the budding demand for chocolate.

Annual global consumption is estimated at 2.8 million tons with the key consumers comprising Europe, Brazil and the US, while annual cocoa production is estimated to be in the range of 3 million tons, with 70% of this sourced from West African countries. The World Cocoa Foundation further predicts a 3% yearly growth in global demand for cocoa.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2010, ranked Nigeria as the 4th largest producer of cocoa in the world, with a 2010 output of 0.4 million tonnes. Apart from crude oil, cocoa is the highest foreign exchange earner in Nigeria. There are 14 states endowed with the appropriate climate to grow the crop, namely Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Taraba, employing over 5 million people nationwide. Southwest Nigeria accounts for 70% of the country’s cocoa production. Majority of the product (>90%) is exported annually.

National cocoa production and export value has grown over the years by an average of 40% year on year, and a cumulative of 280% from $215m in 2006 to $822m in 2010 according to the National Export Promotion Council (NEPC). The agricultural industry, specific to crop production, contributed 27% to 2010 GDP and grew to 34.5% as at 1Q 2012. Crude oil, the major driver of GDP, constituted 43% of GDP (2010). Judging from these statistics, it is clear that the Nigerian government, both at Federal and State levels, has no need of a crystal ball to foretell where national wealth should be created and harnessed. The agricultural sector holds such strong potential for job creation and mass employment.

With an available market and fair economic potential, cocoa expansion should be central to the economic master plan of these Nigerian states. Majority of the producing farmers in Nigeria are said to run small-scale operations, via family farms. Cocoa is a delicate crop especially in its tender years, requiring much care and shelter from the sun and wind. How do these farmers expand their production without well structured, low-cost financial support? Favourable environments must be created for lenders to invest, thus providing customer-friendly, long term financial products to support expansive cocoa production. These products should target all sectors of the production chain – upstream farmers, mid, downstream transporters, marketers, shippers and processers.

Downstream, opportunities remain to be exploited. Chocolate, a cocoa-centric product, is heavily imported into Nigeria from Europe and the US. This is ironic for the obvious reason – cocoa is grown in Nigeria, packaged and exported for processing into chocolate and other by-products, which in turn are imported to Nigeria. Yet, according to Fairtrade Foundation, the downstream sector currently earns 17% share of a chocolate bar value, while processing factories earn the majority 70% share. The residual share is accruable to the upstream producing farms. As such, cocoa producing states must begin to lure the private sector to invest in cocoa processing firms within their regions. The challenges of power supply and security notwithstanding, innovative means must be explored to incentivise such in-country investments. Manufacturing firms will always require skilled and unskilled labour, ultimately driving employment rates up. Corporate taxes on the other hand will boost the states’ fiscal position.

The old Western Region holds a historical example in this regard. Under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, cocoa was the mainstay of the regional economy with resultant visible infrastructural developments. The establishments of Cocoa House (the first skyscraper in tropical Africa), Western Nigeria Television (the first television station in Africa), Liberty Stadium, and the introduction of free primary education, were all based on cocoa proceeds.

Indeed, there is a cocoa alternative which Nigerian states, through their public and private sectors need to aggressively embrace and exploit. The next three years will tell.

Where Are The True Leaders?

Escalating insecurity and public fear…sporadic policy creation…the glaring and widening gulf between the governing and governed… the appalling hurl of money at pressing national issues…the suspected lack of foresight…the near-death of hope…the trial of the resolute…the cry of the Nigerian heart…longing for a solution…a call for true national leadership.

52 years after independence, how can it be that the nation still clamors for true leaders?  With an eventful history – 8 military heads of state, 4 civilian presidents, it beats the intellect to imagine that people still seek the ones who will provide exemplary leadership, giving heed to the voice of the people, creating an enabling and virile atmosphere for economic growth, eschewing the entanglements of corruption, nepotism and self aggrandizement.

Over the past 12 years and via the ballot box or otherwise, majority of Nigeria’s national and state leaders have been direct products of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Within the same time-frame, the nation has battled all forms of struggles and challenges, from near-perennial ethnic clashes in the middle belt to the era of militancy in the Niger-Delta creeks. Corruption had its fill as many party stalwarts evidently lived on the flamboyant lane, reveling in inexplicable riches, perhaps their rewards for actively demonstrating loyalty to the party…the ballot box knows the story.

Juxtaposing the innate cry for true national leadership, against the 12 year history of the ruling party, it seems almost logical to infer that PDP has not generated that semblance of leadership which the people seek. Will it be erroneous to then postulate that the party is incapable of producing such leaders? Are there not a few good men within? One of the going debates that characterized the 2011 elections was the concept of voting for the candidate and not the party – the political paradox of imagining the exclusivity of both entities. History seems to disprove. The over-arching practices and characteristics that have so far been evident in this party are strong enough to choke a good enough man. As we approach 2015 gradually, if the cry of the Nigerian heart will be heard, the country will require a political shift – the end of a 16 year PDP reign.

The mere thought of this creates shivers in the national spine. The remoteness of its possibility further justifies. For an organization with such successful demonstrations of organic growth, its tentacles stretched far across the nation and its machinery oiled with pockets as deep as the national treasury, the end of its era seems a big wish. Nonetheless, the ruling party’s entry point was the ballot box. If there will be an exit, it will be via the same.

The biggest and most prominent political rival/opposition is the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and perhaps followed by the  emerging Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). These parties were simply unable to defeat the PDP in the 2011 polls. They lacked the national spread, financial backbone and advantage of the incumbent. This has not changed or has it? The ACN has achieved a good deal of organic growth but is nowhere near the PDP. CPC is still in its budding phase. Will these rival parties again rely on organic growth to achieve a 3 year feat posing them as individual threats to the incumbent in 2015? Failure is almost a guaranteed result.

Even in the marketplace, where a company cannot successfully compete by organic growth, it begins to seek mergers and possible acquisitions as a strategy for inorganic growth. To guarantee an end to the PDP era in 2015, and possibly, the emergence of true leadership, the rivals must meet at the square of discussion, to establish a merger of sorts. A similar attempt was made prior to the 2011 presidential elections with the parties having to answer the age-old question – Compete or Cooperate? Continuously choosing to compete, pits both parties against each other, leaving them with little individual gain. Where they chose to cooperate, the consolidated gain surpasses the individual payoffs from competition.

While the rival parties are not void of corruption and their peculiarities, they provide certainly less tainted platforms for the rise and emergence of that representation of true leadership which the nation yearns for. With CPC’s strength of integrity, and ACN’s substantial national reach, a bigger umbrella is birthed for other smaller political units to join forces. In the process, egos will have to step aside for credibility, age for accountability and favoritism for the people’s will. Mergers are typically accompanied by a restructuring of top management positions. True leadership surpasses personalities.

True leadership is exemplary, honest, credible and just. True leadership is resolute and thorough, doggedly challenging the status quo, creating innovative paths to a better future. True leadership does not deny issues but focuses rather on providing solutions.True leadership surrounds itself with a pool of applicable knowledge. It eschews cluelessness.  True leadership is prudent and accountable in both financial and non-financial dealings. True leadership is not fixated on the past nor devotedly consumed in the present. True leadership creates a future for its own.

Where are the true leaders?

Remove, Reduce or Retain?

The Arithmetic of Fuel Subsidy

Transaction costs impact businesses and economies all over the globe. It is defined as the cost of operating within a market, or “the costs, other than the money, that are incurred in trading goods or services”, including, but not limited to the cost of information. Information is indeed power in all respects. The right information, in the right hands, at the right time, can reduce the impacts of moral hazard and adverse selection in business and economic operations.

The Nigerian Government in 2011, publicized the consideration of a proposal to eliminate fuel subsidy from its annual budget. As expected, this proposal has been the subject of critical analysis and discourse, on both television and radio talk shows, social networking sites, and most recently, the National Assembly. One major issue, worsening this Nigerian quagmire of policy and decision making, is the availability, veracity and integrity of information.

It remains unclear to Nigerians what the estimated daily demand of PMS is. How much do we consume each day? What part of this demand is produced and supplied locally?  What is the short-fall quantity that requires importation? What quantities were actually imported and paid for? Were quantities verified? It further remains unclear what the actual (sunk) cost of fuel subsidy for 2011 is – N1.3 trillion? N1.5 trillion? or what? The definition of fuel subsidy in itself seems to appreciate in vagueness by the day.

In this regard, and with the available information on current PMS retail price, current landing cost and ex-depot price (via PPPRA website), a scenario analysis has been run, with a permutation of numbers, in an attempt to demystify the concept of fuel subsidy and the method of evaluating its cost to government.

The analysis is seen here: The Arithmetic of Fuel Subsidy

“Lead By Example” – An Open Letter to the Commander-in-Chief by Gbenga Sesan

This post was written by Gbenga Sesan and published via www.ynaija.com. Gbenga blogs here.

November 12, 2011
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR
President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Villa

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for your continued efforts towards improving Nigeria. Though I have my opinion on the impact of your efforts, but that is not the purpose of this letter.

Sir, as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose daily duty is to work with young Nigerians and ask them not to think of what Nigeria can do for them but what they can do to make Nigeria a better place, I have a problem. My problem is connected to the questions that I have had to struggle with over the years. One of the most popular is this: “You keep saying we should add value to Nigeria, but Nigerian rulers don’t care about us, so why should we care?”

Recently, a student stretched this question further: “Sir, if President Jonathan truly had no shoes, shouldn’t he at least understand the suffering of Nigeria’s 70%?” Our sessions are apolitical, so I always dwell on motivation and focus on personal development. “If we all become the best at what we do, as business(wo)men, social entrepreneurs, writers, footballers, musicians, politicians, etc, we’ll be able to connect the various islands of sanity we create in order to form a more perfect union,” I say to them.

Sir, the ongoing Fuel Subsidy removal debate has led to additional questions. “If the president can throw his wife a party in Australia and Senators earn millions of dollars a year, why does the president keep asking us, the people, to make sacrifices?” To this question, sir, I have had no answer. In fact, I also have questions. This was why I sent copies of “The Trouble With Nigeria” to you and your aides, with the hope that you’ll at least be reminded (again) of the similarity between our current dilemma and the documented tragedies of years past.

Nothing has changed, really. Yes, I know about the numbers and percentage points your aides quote to prove that things have become better under your watch, but this house is not in the best shape. Sir, I join my students and various participants at events where similar questions have been asked, to ask you a simple question: “If you really want us to make sacrifices, why have you not led by example, sir?” You are the number one citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and your “body language” carries more weight than what your senior aide posts on Facebook, or what the younger aides retweet.

Sir, on the front page of newspapers on Sunday, November 6, your words were boldly written: “Let’s Sacrifice For Our Country – Jonathan.” You were obviously hoping to ride on the message of the season, for which holidays were observed across Nigeria, but your actions are so loud that they overshadow the words that your aides speak for you. I wonder, for example, sir, why you have refused to make public your “Asset Declaration” details. If you have done so, please pardon my ignorance as I have not liked your page today, and I do not follow your tweeting spokesman.

In a nation where corruption is king, where public office is shortcut to “wealth”, sir, the least you can do is to show Nigerians that your days in Abuja have not changed you from the humble boy without shoes to a man with shoe factories abroad – that are “subsidised” by state funds. But then, you have only been in office (again) for 5 months, so maybe you’ll soon surprise us. All I can feed on is hope. Actually, that isn’t 100% accurate; I have since moved from hope to patience, which used to be known by another word, “longsuffering”.

Sir, some of your enemies said that you have allowed some Heads of State use you, I mean Nigeria’s presidential jets in the last few weeks. First, they said you dropped the Mauritian president off at home before heading back home, on your way back from Australia. It can’t be true, so I’ll not allow the accusation to make me sad. Another president, who was stuck in the Lagos rain for almost an hour, and stopped over in Lagos for private business, was also a beneficiary of our presidential jet’s services. Sir, we cannot afford to live like kings when indeed our purse shows a different reality. But then, this may be the job of your political enemies, so let’s ignore them.

If you want Nigerians to make sacrifices, start from Aso Rock! A radical cut in the cost of government will be the first sign to Nigerians that you really mean what you say. When you reduce Abuja’s pay (and allowances), and achieve considerable savings in the volume of waste known with government’s many moving parts, you will see that it’ll be easy to ask the legislature to do the same. Then, and only then, will it be justified to ask those who already skip meals to skip meals. Some of your aides will say, “what is this not-so-young man saying, it’s a tough job to do,” and my response will be simple: there will be no transformation without sacrifice, and there will be no sacrifice from those already at the mercy of the price of kerosene and petrol until the First Citizen leads by example.

And sir, while still on the subject of leadership, there is another problem: criminals believe you have no bite. This is not a new problem, since this is the same country where the Attorney General was murdered in cold blood and the mystery is still unresolved. As Nigerians unfortunately start getting used to the headlines that use words like “bomb blast”, “67 dead”, “violence”, etc, without the sadness that comes with knowing that each casualty is a human being like ourselves, it is quite scary that we are yet to see anyone brought to book. If your security appointees can’t deliver, why reward incompetence with VVIP tags? God forbid that it is true, sir, that you have outsourced your own personal security for the fear of being a target of attacks.

Nigeria is back at the age-old crossroads again (if we ever left temporarily), and you have a chance to step up to the challenge, sir. Lead by example, and you will spend less on SAs or SSAs whose job descriptions have suddenly reduced to “defend the president”. Lead by example, sir, and your words will carry more weight, even if not spoken with the aid of the media. Lead by example, sir, by cutting down the cost of government before asking Nigerians to sacrifice for a future they are not certain will offer their children the right to a social contract that guarantees the security of life (let’s even leave property for now). Lead by example, sir, and those who are waiting for your failure will edit their already typed-out columns. Lead by example, dear President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, and let the good luck spread to all.

Thank you.
Citizen ‘Gbenga Sesan

#Occupy…and the Nigerian Psyche

Over the past week, there has been a resounding clamor for some form of a reactive and compelling protest in the similitude of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Spontaneous suggestions like ‘Occupy Nigeria’, ‘Occupy National Assembly’ and ‘Occupy Abuja’ have been posited on Nigerian social media platforms. To be or not to be?

‘Occupy Wall Street’ has been described as a series of ongoing protest demonstrations originating in New York City. These protests kicked off on Sept 17, 2011 and by Oct 9, had spread to about 70 cities all over the world. The protesters, self-named as ‘the 99 percent’ have taken to the streets to publicly declare a fight against all forms of economic inequality, corporate greed and the absence of evident justice post the global financial crisis. Initially triggered in July 2011 by Adbusters, a Canadian based group, the concept was to actualize a peaceful occupation of Wall Street in protest. It is seen here there was a trigger, the sense of a tipping point – “….there was a feeling that, ‘wow things are going to change’….we are going to take these financial fraudsters and bring them to justice…among the young people, there was a very positive feeling…Now, we’re despondent again”, said Kalle Lasn Founder and Editor of Adbusters.

Anyone familiar with the current Nigerian political and economic landscape certainly will perceive obvious similarity in that last statement. For many, at some point, there was the infinitesimal hope for justice to be meted out and corruption tackled squarely, a silent prayer for fiscal prudence and cuts in government overheads, a hope for transparency and accountability, a longing desire to see the implementation of campaign promises. For Nigerians, it becomes almost apt to conclude this with the same phrase “among the young people, there was a very positive feeling…now, we’re despondent again”. Does the similarity of triggers then justify or guarantee a prediction of similar responses?

The Nigerian psyche so far reflects certain features including brevity of memory, especially in the face of transient gratification. Does it not appear as though the average Nigerian, triggered by similar inequalities and injustice, complains and protests for ALL till he gets reprieve for self? Once reprieve is obtained, via that juicy contract or influential office position in Abuja, Port Harcourt or Lagos, it becomes as though the neo-activist within activates an auto system shut down, forgetting ongoing societal and economic issues. In other matters in this regard, what trend do we observe with the cases of the ongoing trial of Hon. Bankole, the alleged injustice to Justice Salami, the ABSU gang rape video? The Nigerian psyche agitates momentarily, then moves on swiftly, relegating past issues to oblivion.

Further examining the Nigerian psyche in the light of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs gives the vivid impression that many or perhaps most Nigerians are at the lower layers of the pyramid, with their foci transfixed on meeting the basic needs of life, what Maslow described as deficiency needs – food, water, power supply, security in all forms, health, friendship and family. Maslow’s pyramid suggests appropriately that unless these basic needs are met, people rarely focus on ‘Being’ needs – self actualisation, self esteem, achievements and problem solving. Drawing inferences, people whose daily attention is totally drawn into meeting basic/deficiency needs will have little or no motivation to ascend to levels of societal or economic problem solving. So, it is very likely that the average Nigerian will devote his energies to provide a roof for his family, ensure a steady supply of water, alternative or backup power supply system, and some form of home and communal security. A nation filled with many of such does not appear to present a compelling cause for ‘Occupy Wall Street’ type protests. Why? People are overwhelmed with struggles to meet basic needs, why should they endanger themselves? They hustle, longing for future prospects, and that breakthrough moment, which will make life much better for them, positioning them above the struggle line. Such individuals are more likely to be engrossed in an ‘occupation’ than the thought of ‘Occupy Abuja’.

These factors that characterize the Nigerian psyche (brevity of memory and the encumbrance of basic needs) portend to be potential terminators to the possibility of an ‘Occupy’ protest happening here.

The antithesis to this reasoning will be to prove and demonstrate clearly that a Nigerian tipping point has been reached. Each time a national event or change seems to suggest such, the preoccupation with basic needs and the brevity of memory surmount the challenge, fueling the resilient nature of Nigerians. Is there currently a cause, strong enough, as the transference of presidential powers to Goodluck Jonathan in March 2010, to guarantee another ‘Enough is Enough’ march?

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.

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