DECONSTRUCTION: THE REASON GROWTH AS WE KNOW IT FAILS.

20170815_112910

by  Nma Chinaza Agada

I once volunteered about four years ago, with a non-profit organization whose objective was to empower about 1000 Nigerian women to be millionaires in USD within a certain time frame. Their business model was such that low income earners in the agriculture value chain, transport industries would form cooperative societies, develop business plans and strategies and then vie for grants and low- interest loans to the tune of millions of Naira. It was a huge deal. The founder of the organization who is a quintessential media mogul had great dreams for these African women and a few men that had been admitted into the organization.

Prior to this time, I had started blogging and developing the scope of the objectives of The Negrifille Enterprise. It was supposed to be an organization geared towards being a hub that provides young African women with knowledge-based resources needed to accelerate their personal and career development through innovative content. You can now see why the activities of this non-profit would interest me. They were growing rapidly and had a blossoming network of women in the South-East especially Owerri, Enugu, Uyo and Calabar.

What piqued my interest was the fact that high profile women and their kids who did not “seem” to have need for the loans worth between thousands to a few millions of naira began flooding the group. With this influx came the politics and social constructs typical of Nigerian socio-cultural associations. These meetings, being hosted at my mother’s gym at the time, had turned into editions of the popular August Meeting where Christian mothers played partisan politics, indulged materialistic tendencies and vied voraciously for roles that would make them appear superior to their peers. There’d be shouting contexts followed by clique breakout sessions, people fired from roles for the pettiest reasons and the almighty “Do you have space for my daughter?” menace that reigns supreme in our society.

Here was an opportunity for these women and men who would otherwise have been left to the mercy of the unresponsive government, to plug into sustainable development goals and ride on this platform to build their dreams for the sake of causes bigger than themselves. However, they were mostly just hungry people, either in the literal sense or in relation to power. Consultants were present crafting resumes and business plans for the illiterates amongst them, seminars were held in honor of the founder, progress was being made with the sponsors and banks but beyond all of that, I saw how all of these would not work, at least not in a sustainable manner.

These were adults, many of whom were over the 40-year mark and laden with experiences that had crystallized into traits, habits, beliefs and aspirations. Years of auto-suggestion and hetero-suggestion had rendered them set in their ways and it was a herculean task to get them to plug into agendas that were alien to these past experiences. It was there that I realized two vital things that came to refine my intentions for my objectives for The Negrifille Enterprise and indeed my aspirations for social impact.

  1. Formative and Transition Periods cannot be overemphasized in the development of individuals and developmental initiatives are most productive at these phases
  2. There is such a thing as deconstruction and it is just as vital as the Learning Process.

I couldn’t help but think that if certain values and belief systems had been addressed and instilled in these women at younger ages, they might have had the presence of mind to apply themselves more constructively and in a more wholesome manner than they portrayed. In fact, there probably would have been no need for a number of them to participate in the program as beneficiaries because they may have been empowered with the knowledge that it requires to have exceeded their current socio-economic statuses. On the other hand, they would have recognized the intended value proposition of the program and aligned themselves accordingly.

At that time, I was in my final year of University but had a more robust understanding of the end goal of this financing opportunity. Because of my exposure and education (not just in the narrow sense of pen and paper knowledge), I had more vision both in the spatial and linear sense than women who had a wealth of years behind them.

People are more malleable in their formative ages and more flexible during transitional periods, these are some of the factors that the family and educational systems should take paramount. Between ages 8 and 19, I had attended a host of summer camps, mentoring programs, model United Nations conference, leadership and career seminars and workshops where a number of social constructs had been addressed and value re-orientation occurred. On the other hand, these were adults who had evolved in spaces that had fostered financial indiscipline, emotional illiteracy and all sorts of stereotypes. Little wonder, cliques emerged with roles and functions in the organization becoming tools with which these excesses were brandished.

It seems as though we underestimate the propensity of children and youth to embody certain levels of consciousness only to realize by the time we are ready to instill them that these now grown individuals are now unresponsive and set in their ways. Unfortunately, very little institutions are given to undertaking enormous task of guiding these individuals through a phase of deconstruction before trying to install new “software”. The most sustainable way to navigate this development cycle is to be proactive in engaging the minds of young ones in all facets that allow for them to stretch their boundaries within the context of progressive values. The alternative is a consequence which we must partake in unless we can afford to deal with a system where innovation, redress and evolution do not work or render certain groups even more dysfunctional simply because you cannot “erect a house on an already existing building” without fundamental changes.

The crux of the matter was that the program made no room for deconstruction – unlearning values, habits and relinquishing belief systems that will create room for mindfulness and progressive values associated with the program to thrive. Do you ever consider that the person that you are trying to teach simply cannot learn because well, there isn’t space to absorb and utilize the knowledge you’re looking to dispense? While pro-activity is key in considering systems to be deployed during the formative ages, our society and its development-seeking arms must make room for deconstruction to be a thing in driving change especially with the more aged individuals in the society. Although you may not be able to tear down all the walls of individuals’ experiences, especially when dealing with a group of people, for any growth or enhancement program to work viably, it must build into its curriculum, a process or experience that allows people to reverse the effects or at least their interpretations of their experiences to the point that what you offer can be accepted firstly for its intended purpose and then for its peculiar benefits to them. If the latter is more emphasized, then it will be easier to abuse its intended purpose because their beliefs, behavioral traits or expectations may not be aligned.

If a society such as ours, in which unwholesome values have crystallized into nearly all facets of life can be reformed, then all social, religious, political and economic systems including family units must come to admit that deconstruction is a “thing” and must carry out their affairs with consideration for it as it applies to the peculiarity of beneficiaries of their activities. With this in mind, systems will be reformed, costs saved and lives changed because we will be more mindful of our approaches to people’s experiences and our expectations of them. Outcomes and goals will be decided upon more rationally and growth can be achieved in a more sustainable context.

POLITICS AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY

 

image1[1]

by Opeoluwa Dapo-Thomas

This article is not an empirical evidence on the effects of Politics on the Nigerian economy but rather it is an analytical discuss on how the influence of Politics can affect our economy.

It would be naive to assume that Politics and Economics are two distinct landscapes. As more often these days, political developments have had ripple effects on the world markets as well as investment decisions in many economies. Speaking at the 14th CVL lecture held in Lagos State, the distinguished Keynote Speaker, Professor Paul Collier, said for “an economy to thrive, there has to be a golden alliance between the business environment and the authorizing political authorities”. Suffice to say, Politics is a key factor required for an economy to develop especially given the type of economic system we operate. But to what dimension does politics influence the Nigerian economy? In this regard, i have proposed two theories. For each theory, i will support with a practical example.

The first theorem is what i call “Progressive Politics”. Progressive politics occurs when the economic plan is strategically followed up by the politicians. This is what we refer to as political will. Most economic plans are not achieved because of lack of political will. Planning is one thing, implementation is another ball game. In Nigeria, the ball game is usually played by the Executives, Lawmakers and the Political parties. Once there is an agreement between all these political agents, there will be progress. A classic example of Progressive politics occurred when Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo visited the Niger Delta leaders and consulted them on issues which eventually brought permanent peace in the region. Permanent peace in Niger Delta is a win-win for the Nigerian economy as we rely heavily on the oil assets in that region to boost our revenue.

More revenue ultimately leads to economic development. Progressive politics is the use of political power to support a good cause. Progressive politicians help in reducing bottlenecks, supporting schemes and policies that will beneficial to the people and not to their pocket. They are those who see public service as service and not occupation. Progressive politicians undertake social, economic, and in some cases, political reforms that will alter the status quo to move the society forward.

Senate-Committee-On-Interior-Scheduled-Nigerian-Peace-Corps-National-Unity-And-Peace-Corps-For-Public-Hearing

 

The second theory is what motivated me to write this article, and that is because this type of politics has seriously hampered the growth of the Nigerian economy. It is what i call “Retrogressive Politics”. In Hans Morgenthau’s book “Politics among Nations”, he avowed that ‘Politics is all about struggle for power’. In every struggle, everyone seeks to exert their power for personal motives. A real-world instance of Retrogressive politics is currently on between a certain governor and a certain minister whom some weeks ago revealed how they are both frustrating each other’s economic projects. The Governor needs a road leading to an airport rehabilitated plus access to the Presidential lodge in his state in his bid to transform an axis in his state into a world-class arts and tourism hub. Whilst the Minister says his ministry’s request for land for the National Housing Programme in the Governor’s state is yet to be acknowledged talk less of accepted.

They say when two elephants fight; it is the grass that suffers. The both of them need to put aside their differences. The welfare of the people is paramount. Personal vendetta should not come before economic agenda. That is Retrogressive politics. Not to say, they are not Progressive politicians, but once personal feelings interfere with clear economic objectives, we cannot record progress in the foreseeable future. The concept of ‘Retrogressivism’ against the backdrop of the current happenings in the country’s landscape explains that retrogressive politics can pervert any politician and might drive him or her to pursue self or group interest against the collective interest and welfare of the society and this is what occurs in the polity at the moment.

muhammadu-buhari-and-ita-enang-690x450

 

Conclusively, various critics suggest that Retrogressive politics overshadows Progressive politics in Nigeria. This assertion might be true but it is left for the progressives to use their capacity to transform all form of politics to ‘Progressivism’. Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797) said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” This suggests that inaction can be just as effective as actions. The existence of politics in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized, it’s presence in economic matters cannot be overstated, but as politics in Nigeria proliferates, it is imperative for our leaders to direct it towards a more progressive course.

Nigeria’s Human Capital Advantage

 

Heavy traffic is seen on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos

by Rotimi Okewole-Lawal

The term ‘Human capital’ was popularized by Gary Becker, an economist from the University of Chicago and Jacob Mincer. Human capital refers to the stock of knowledge, habits, skills, experience, social and personality attributes, embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. Many theories explicitly connect investment in human capital development to education. The role of human capital in economic development, growth productivity, and innovation has frequently been cited as a justification for government subsidies for education and job skills training. Human capital is directly related to economic growth. This relationship can be measured by how much is invested into people’s education. Many developed governments offer higher education to their citizens at little or no cost, these governments realize that the knowledge people gain through education helps develop an economy and leads to economic growth. Just as accumulation of personal human capital produces individual economic (income) growth, so also does it have a positive effect on the national income of a nation.

658-1028The true success factor behind China’s growth was as a result of huge investments made in human capital development and much of that was made in the 1950s-1970s. The size of China’s population is a historical advantage that China has leveraged on throughout its 5,000 years of history. This advantage greatly facilitated the construction of The Great Wall of China, a structural and engineering marvel that is one of the Wonders of the World. Isn’t this something Nigerian policy makers, business elites and intellectuals can learn from? For Nigeria to achieve the kind of growth that China has achieved over the years we have to invest more in our human capital base, especially basic education in rural areas and most importantly basic education and empowerment of women.

It is indeed education that will however pay in the long run and once Nigeria has attained sustainable growth in that area, then infrastructure will be self-financed by the growth itself. Sadly Nigeria faces a tougher challenge in improving basic education because we have historically under-invested in it. Building schools alongside educational training facilities is expensive for the country because we have a larger rural population no doubt about it and this is why Nigeria may very well have to forgo more infrastructural investments to make up for her historical neglect. Infrastructures are not the magic wands for China’s success and they will not be for Nigeria.

The advantages of an immense human capital base cannot be overemphasized. Greater skill facilitates worker mobility across occupations, industries and regions. This helps people in reallocating resources, both human and physical towards more productive opportunities. A more educated workforce is a more flexible workforce. People with higher levels of education are better able to absorb new ideas, adapt to foreign technologies, improve local technologies, understand and apply knowledge from outside the country to local situations. As Nigeria enters world markets, it will have access to new forms of technology and organizational arrangements hence, the demand and necessity for a more skilled workforce will increase. But really, how can we actually make greater investments in human capital?

vllkyt5crqnbu87c3-1a84598a

Germany in most recent times witnessed a record low of unemployment rate at 3.9% since her unification in 1990. The major catalyst behind this was their embrace of the dual system of education which encourages development of vocational skills. The Germans know as we should that, some students are bored by the traditional mode of studies, some don’t have the aptitude for the classroom environment and some would rather work with their hands. They realize that everyone won’t benefit from higher educational institutions but they can still be successful and contribute to society. One way of training for your future occupation in Germany is by pursuing a dual vocational training programme. Such programmes offer plenty of opportunity for on-the-job training and work experience. Programmes usually last between two and three years which comprises of theoretical as well as practical elements. Not surprisingly, perhaps a majority of German students (about 51.5 %) choose this path. Employment prospects for students who have completed a dual vocational training programme are very high.

Nigeria for too long has attempted a mundane approach towards education: Finish secondary school; go to the university; graduate and we’ll all be happy. To our continued dismay, this system doesn’t always work. If Nigeria wants to remain competitive, we have to keep our young people engaged. Nigerian business and political leaders should learn from the German approach and invest in creating and supporting a vocational education system. Businesses will get the skilled workers they need, young people will see new career opportunities open up to them, our middle class will be strengthened, and our economy will benefit.

auto-22

In conclusion, a high growing population density has numerous advantages. Even though population growth is often associated with a shortage of resources, a high growth can lead to a greater consciousness of innovations when it comes to producing food, as well as increasing other much needed amenities. Also, more people mean, a greater pool of individuals who can generate new ideas for improving productivity in a wide range of fields. It isn’t coincidence that the most innovative major industrialized country, the U.S., also has one of the fastest growing populations.

Nigeria currently has a population of approximately 190 million people, the seventh largest in the world. This should be seen as a blessing rather than a curse. Major emphasis should therefore be placed on labor intensive industries like agriculture, mining, manufacturing, hospitality, textile & clothing etc in order to maximize the full potential of our human capital advantage. Hence, if the rich human resources in rural areas can be transformed into human capital, it would certainly change the disadvantages of over-population into competitive advantages and Nigeria’s economy will perhaps attain sustainable growth.

23895-8854dd-1jpg

 

 

The necessity of E-commerce for emerging businesses and markets

images

by Rotimi Okewole-Lawal

One of the characteristics of the past decade has been the digitization of the total economic sphere. In a matter of few years, the internet consolidated itself as a very powerful platform that has forever changed the way we communicate and also the way we do business. In an era of globalizing economies, many markets become increasingly international and competitive. Technological progress in logistics and distribution enables nearly every business to buy, sell and cooperate on a global scale. Even smaller and locally oriented businesses are forced to see themselves in a global context  in order to survive in this new challenging business environment.

It is no news that the world is moving more and more into the digital realm each and every day. According to marketing research firm Coleman Parkes, 21-40% of modern business’s contributions are a direct result of E-commerce and that number is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years. With the growing impact of the digital community affecting the way business is done, now is the time to start thinking about an E-Commerce solution. In today’s competitive business world, having an online presence is more important than ever. This is particularly true if business firms wish to grow and extend their sales, most especially small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). Hence the adoption of E-commerce  has become an essential component of business strategy in order to remain competitive in the fast evolving global market. E-commerce basically encompasses trading or trading facilitation of goods & services, as well as the transmission of funds or financial data over an electronic network primarily the internet.

20170306_135820The emergence of E-commerce has helped business enterprises most especially SMEs  compete in the market and thus contributes to economic success. The transforming power of this mode of business extends far beyond the obvious point of convenience for a consumer and cost savings for a business enterprise. This is a time when the opportunities for businesses to adopt E-commerce are growing due to improved access to technical and communication infrastructure. Modern economies are now increasingly characterized by a mass customization production model that integrates the average consumer’s needs into the production process. In order  for modern enterprises to efficiently face this challenge, they have to increase their level of innovation so that they can provide new products & services, while at the same time compete with one another, E-commerce thus becomes a necessity of strategic nature. The power of E-commerce allows geophysical barriers disappear, making all consumers and businesses potential buyers and suppliers.

In Nigeria however, although the adoption of E-commerce has already began to gain popularity with the increasing number of people becoming IT literate and gaining internet access, we haven’t fully embraced and maximized it’s  great potential. This is as a result of challenges pertaining to E-commerce being faced by a developing country  like Nigeria. These major challenges include, inadequate online data security during payment transactions, lack of trust in online retailers, inadequate technological infrastructure and lack of proper awareness on E-commerce services & platforms.

ecommerce-in-nigeriaNevertheless, Nigeria has a great potential for E-commerce, despite the Nigerian  economy sliding into recession in the second quarter of 2016 and the Naira  incessantly suffering setback in the money market, some entrepreneurs believe this is just the right time to invest in the country’s budding E-commerce sector. According to Eghosa Omoigui, the Managing General Partner of EchoVC Partners, business investors who pay much attention to the macro negativity of the economy will miss out on spectacular opportunities. According to him, all the negative narratives about the Nigerian economy are at the macro level and do not  greatly affect the micro-economy where most E-commerce activities are taking place and opportunities remain unchanged.

However, the  government has an important role to play in the facilitation of E-commerce. The debate concerning the issue whether or not E-commerce is helping SMEs in a developing country like Nigeria improve her GDP is nothing more than a magical lure which distracts people from working hard. This perspective is understandable because a Nation where people have a minimum level of life, obviously cannot afford to construct an  expensive city wide wireless network. Expensive infrastructure, costly connection devices, computer literacy are all obstacles but optimists are hopeful because they see access to an effective use of ICTs and networks of advanced knowledge-driven markets as critical to poverty reduction and creation of a better life. For Nigerian enterprises to remain competitive, it is important for owners-managers to understand the critical success factors related to E-commerce adoption. The adoption of E-commerce in Nigerian enterprises would help integrate these enterprises into the world’s  fast evolving global village.

images-1

 

 

No better time to move back: The Economic importance of Nigerians in Diaspora

 

20170306_140422

by Adetayo Adesola

Perhaps there is no better time for Nigerians abroad to come back home. The rise of xenophobia and left-wing populism in western nations has rocked the very foundations of the society as we know it, particularly exemplified by the emergence of Donald Trump as the President of America, and Brexit last year.

Although there are some positive benefits of emigration, of which include; better education, infrastructural facilities, jobs and an opportunity to compete with the best in the world but it is  important to note that Nigeria is suffering from a huge ‘Brain Drain’ the movement of highly skilled people to a country offering better opportunities, majorly because of past government failures and the success of Nigerians abroad.

Lets also not forget that the diaspora community contributes indirectly to the Nigerian economy. In 2012, Nigerians in diaspora remitted $12 billion to the Nigerian economy, more than 34 of the 36 states, only Lagos and Rivers had a higher GDP. The Premium times reported that in 2015, Nigerians in diaspora remitted a staggering $21 billion. Despite these positives, the Nigerian economy has failed to properly utilize and gain from Nigerians in diaspora, and this trend is deleterious to the Nigerian economy.

20170306_143329[1].png

 

The present government must enact policies that act as incentives for highly-skilled compatriots in diaspora to come back home to invest and perhaps rebuild the economy. Areas like technology, finance, and education should be given high-priorities and funding must be made available. The knowledge gained by Nigerians over there can be tailor made to suit our needs here, and used to develop industry and revive the economy.

For those who believe the amount of money remitted by Nigerians in diaspora is enough for the Nigerian economy, and that there is no dire need for a ‘Move back to Nigeria campaign’. What must be taken into cognizance is that the labor of Nigerians in their respective foreign countries is generating more income, and creating more solutions to economic and societal problems there than here.

Agriculture: The basket that feeds the nation.

 

20170306_140437

by Opeoluwa Dapo-Thomas

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, when life shows you pepper, make pepper soup. So when life gives us recession, what do we make out of it? Honestly I wish I knew. But what I do know is that it’s high time we diversify the economy. Only someone who has got the ostrich syndrome will not know that over-reliance on oil alone is detrimental to economic development. Ask South Sudan and Venezuela, how they are both faring?

In the light of this, I want to re-introduce an old friend, his name is Agriculture, and he used to be the happening guy after independence. He accounted for 65 per cent of our GDP and represented almost 70 per cent of total exports. Agriculture provided the foreign exchange that was utilized in importing raw materials and capital goods. Then the Politicians discovered Oil and neglected my friend Agriculture. Poor thing. It will be cliche if I reiterate the benefits of Agriculture but for the sake of emphasis I will. Revenue generation through (export substitution and taxation of agro-allied companies) is a major benefit. Creation of employment and provision of food for the nation are also important benefits. But still the Politicians neglected him for Oil.

Rethinking Africa From The Ground Up

 

This begs the question, why is agriculture treated like the “Side Piece” and Oil as the “Main Mistress?” I do not know, but what I do know is that in the grand scheme of things, Agriculture; if encouraged, harnessed and commercialized can be the solution to our problems. This can be elucidated by the current administration’s willingness to diversify the economy. There was a 13-point agenda on Agriculture raised at the two-day retreat of the National Economic Council (NEC) last year highlighting agricultural policies that can help in the revival of the economy.

As a protagonist for agriculture, I also recommend there must be industrialization as well before we can fully reap out of the proceeds of Agriculture. Industrialization of the agricultural sector is key. I read something about Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa wealth sometime ago. Cote d’ Ivoire produces 33% of world cocoa and exports to manufacturers such as Hershey’s, Mars Inc. (both in the US) and Nestlé (Switzerland). Cote d’Ivoire earns 2.5billion dollars yearly from exporting raw cocoa. While Mars that buys Ivorien cocoa and makes several products from it such as Bounty, M&M, Mars and Milky Way, to name a few made a net income of 18 billion dollars from chocolate products alone in 2015, according to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO). Compare that to Cote d’Ivoire’s 2.5 billion dollars gained from export. What a contrast!

Conclusively, I believe once the government and private individuals put the right pieces together, Agriculture can be the panacea to our wobbling economy. The question is, are we ready to pick up the lemons and make a lemonade stand?

img-20170130-wa0003

Could Tourism be the new oil well in Nigeria?

 

20170306_140319

by Damilola Oshifowora

With Nigeria plunging into recession that is said to last at least five years, it’s no wonder a percentage increase in Nigerians are looking inward to solve this unending economic battle. We’ve seen the government begin to increase investments in other sectors after different explorations, the major ones being Agriculture & SMEs, to name a few. However recently, we’ve seen the government begin to dip it’s whole leg into Tourism. Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 2016 World Tourism Day, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said; “The Federal Government is working day and night to pull Nigeria out of recession and put the country’s economy on the path of sustainable growth. It is becoming increasingly clear, like President Muhammadu Buhari has admonished, that we must think outside of the box. We must find other sustainable means of earning foreign exchange outside of oil to grow our country’s GDP and create jobs for our people. While Agriculture and Mining are a few viable options, Tourism is the low hanging fruit in this regard and we must not hesitate to pluck it.”

 

20170306_140146

 

If there’s one key thing to take away from this speech, it is that culture and tourism is a necessary and strategic decision that would enhance the prospects of diversifying revenue generation channels of the country for the development and growth of the national economy. With the likes of Obudu cattle ranch, Olumo rock, Badagry’s firsts, Kano city sites and the soon to be Eko Atlantic as top sights in the tourism sector, we think Nigeria has the potential to make it’s Tourism sector into a revenue generating channel for the economy. But can the Tourism sector become the new oil well?

20170123_132544