Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great People. Great Nation?

Today, all the states in our Nation Nigeria roll out the drums to celebrate the 49th independence anniversary of our dear nation Nigeria. Big budgets will be spent across the country to celebrate. As I sit writing this, I really wonder what we are celebrating. In my opinion, the only reason we should celebrate is that up till today, Nigeria still remain as one single entity and that we have not yet been declared a failed state! Our 49 years journey to where we are today is at best a sorry case, one whose mystery should be studied at a PhD level in a citadel of learning. How do you explain that despite all the things we are blessed with – human capacity and capability, immense natural resources, great weather- just to mention a few, we are still behind….far behind our contemporaries, even in Africa.

I remember that when I was growing up as a kid, there was an influx of Ghanians into this country. They were doing the menials jobs, the best of which was teaching. They were selling “puff puff”, cleaning and shining shoes, and all such things. Remember the “Ghana must go” saga? There was actually a national call to send Ghanians back to their country. Today, all that has changed. In the past one year, do you know how many companies have relocated from Nigeria to Ghana to set up? The number will shock you. The list is growing by the day. It is far cheaper, saner, and safer to run a business there than here. I hope there won’t be a national call in Ghana one day for “Naija must go”.

Did anyone see the Vision 20:20:20 document? While I am in support of long tern vision and all that, we are deceiving ourselves in this country. If we do not fix our foundational problems, then, there is only one way we can achieve our vision 20:20:20 – all developing nations of the world, should halt their development for the next 20 years! Mark Stevens, author of “Your Management Sukcs” joked that the most guaranteed way to become a millionaire in America is to go to the airlines business as a billionaire. In the same vein, that is our easiest access to reach our Vision 20:20:20. Others should halt their development. They should stop growing and developing! Then, we have a slim chance of being one of the 1st 20 economies in the year 2020. As long as others a progressing (and they are doing that at an alarming rate), then, our vision 20:20:20 will forever remain a mirage! It will be another avenue for people to siphon public funds into their private accounts. I am not trying to make a mess of the program. I am just stating the obvious.
If we do not fix our foundational problems, then, there is only one way we can achieve our vision 20:20:20 – all developing nations of the world, should halt their development for the next 20 years!
How on earth have we not been able to solve the power problem for example? In the year 2000 or thereabout, the Government of the day promised us the power problem will be solved. Infact, the then Minister of Power promised to transform the place in 1 year. All that is history now. In 2007, there was a clear commitment to give 10MW before the end of the year. That also is in the past. This year 2009, the government promised 6,000MW by December. Any right thinking Nigerian (who is not in government) knows that will only be possible in our dreams. Is that how big our power problem is? Has it defied all solutions? My best guess is that the technology needed to provide us stable power supply is much simpler than that needed to explore oil. Much more simpler! We need help!

I hear someone say “We know all these. What then is the solution?” You are right….very right. We will not come out of these problems by merely highlighting it. We will not become a prosperous nation by only talking about our problems without proffering solutions. We will die here, if we just sit down and fold our hands. Prayers alone will not solve our problems. We will need to do something about it

I spoke with my friend, Adeolu Akinyemi ( on the state of the nation at 49. Adeolu is very passionate about a new Nigeria. His passion for this country really encourages me to the optimistic about our chance to pull though all these and take our place among the League of Nations. Here is a summary of Deolu’s thoughts as we celebrate 49

How do you see Nigeria at 49?

At 49, we are still very close to where we started from. We are still slaves in our own country, still subject to new dimensions of indirect rule. We've been so blessed as a nation, but it currently does not show. There are two lenses to view Nigeria from, there is the lens of reality, it's the rear view mirror, it's small and we must only glance at it once in a while. Then there is the windscreen, it's a bigger lens that speaks of possibilities, but the person who is on the driver’s seat determines what we'll see per time. Nigeria at 49 needs to make a U-turn.

What do you think about the Governments 7 Point Agenda?

1. Energy: We need to solve the problem of power and energy – National Council on Energy to drive the energy policy and advice on power, energy and gas… energy emergency to be declared.
2. Security: Treating security as a critical Infrastructure.
3. Wealth Creation: 70% of all revenue comes from oil; need to keep this focused and extended to other areas.
4. Education: Need to address the various problems in the education sector.
5. Land Reform: To provide proper ownership and give a chance to take the land to capital market.
6. Mass Transit: To develop capacity for mass movement of goods and people.
7. Niger Delta: To implement the master plan already developed.

I think they are fantastic points in the Agenda. But I think Our nations leadership will be celebrated if they can simply achieve results on the first one.

What about Vision 20:20:20?

I think it's not very bright to compare ourselves with any other country right now. At least not where we'll be relative to them. Let's focus on having light, on getting more than 13% of our students to pass WAEC, on the very basic issues. Let's stop glamorizing nice sounding numbers 20:20:20 what's that? What happened to 2010? Who is measuring it?

If Nigeria is to maximize its potential, what should we be doing?

We need to focus our attention on the most powerful segment in this country. The one unit that has the capacity to do more than 100 times all our corporate or individual efforts - The Government. If we have correct political leadership in Nigeria, everything will transform! I hate to say look at Lagos, but it's clear, that right thinking leadership can achieve great results. Greater than any company, NGO, individual or social group. So I say let's get involved in our own leadership. Our silence is a political endorsement of nonsense.
If we have correct political leadership in Nigeria, everything will transform!
Any other thoughts?

Stop talking about a New Nigeria, as yourself what are you doing to make it happen? Are you making it happen at the highest level you can make it happen? Let's stop deceiving ourselves, the gap between what could have been and what is because we refused to get involved equals the sin of Negligence! When I was hungry... you didn't feed me. God will hold us all accountable for all those murdered by lack of electricity, dead on untarred roads, massacred by impure water. We will give account for what we could have done, you and I!

Feel free to share your comments. Happy Birthday, Nigeria!

Monday, September 7, 2009

All Work And No Play.....

All work and no play make Johnny (or is it Jack?) a dull boy they say. It also makes you unsuccessful. The fact is that a well placed vacation can do wonders for every area of your life. I am editing this article i wrote sometime ago, some kilometers away from home, near a beach, enjoying the last weekend of my vacation with my wife, so I am practically enjoying what I am about to write! In this busy world, where we are driven to be producing all the time, it is good to be reminded that a break is sometimes the best thing to move us forward in the long run.

I know many people who can't seem to get themselves to break away from the office, thinking that they are getting a lot of work done. I used to be in this group. For my 1st years at work, I never consumed more than half of my vacation days each year. There was a year I didn’t even take any vacation at all! The truth is that we all need a break at certain times, and records as shown that we deliver better results when we return.

With that in mind, here are some thoughts on why your vacation is so important for your success.

Vacationing help you appreciate your work. After a while even work you normally love can become drudgery. Taking a vacation gets you away and after awhile you begin to miss it and chomp at the bit to get back to it. You simply appreciate it more. Believe me, I miss my work and I can wait to get back! I am sure my boss will be happy to read this!

Vacationing helps you reset your mind. Even though the mind is a mystery, we do know that it can get tired. It is called mental fatigue. Getting away on a regular basis helps reset the mind to its peak condition. Every brain needs a good rest. This is proven medically

Vacationing makes your body stronger, with more energy for the battle by giving it a rest. The world's top bodybuilders, the ones with the huge muscles know something that the typical businessperson doesn't - the body needs a rest. Every week they take one day off. And then they take whole seasons off and allow their bodies to rest. Our bodies are the same. We need to let them relax, sleep more etc.

Vacationing gives you time to encourage your support team - your family. Hmmm. This is a big one. While we are putting in long hours and working hard, our families support us with encouragement and the like. Vacationing let's them know that you value them and can also spend significant amount on time with them if need be. It tells them you value them more than your work. Then, when you get back to work, you know that your "team" it firmly in your corner.

Vacationing puts you in a creative mindset. Sometimes being in the same situation gets your imagination stuck in a rut. Watching the sun set, listening to the waves crash, or enjoying the fresh air of the mountains will set your creative imagination soaring. You may find that you come up with all sorts of solutions to work issues while laying on the beach. I don't know how this works... but it does. In the last couple of days, I have been developing an idea on how to solve a chromic problem at work! It’s amazing.

Vacationing renews your spirit. We all need an emotional boost. We need a break from the roller coaster of emotions that drain our spirits while at work. Quite frankly, if you do your vacation right, the predominate emotion should be peace. And that is just what you need to get rejuvenated for work.

Vacationing proves to you that your work or office can exist without you! Sometimes we overestimate our value to the organization and this puts so much stress on us. The fact is that if you go away for a week, your job will still be there. The company won't be bankrupt, and life will still be going on. We need to know that work goes on, so that we don't worry so much. Get away and don't call the office! Don’t deceive yourself that the office can run without you! It can….and it will!

So what is my advice? Take a vacation. You need one. You deserve one. Life is passing you by my friend, and in the end, you will know you should have taken a vacation. Your office won't fall apart. The earth will continue to turn on its axis. Your family will be happy. Turn off your computer, pick up the phone, dial the travel agent.... your success depends upon it!