Sunday, October 10, 2010

Laws That Made Nations Great (Part II)

If nothing else, the responses I got from those who read the 1st part of the write up will definitely compel me to finish it up. And I intend to do that – not sure I will complete it in this post, but maybe the next

There has been a lot of debate, before and after our (Nigeria’s) 50th anniversary celebrations. While a number of people feel strongly that there is nothing to celebrate, a number also feels we have a lot to rejoice about. I am not about to join the debate. No matter which side you belong to, at least one thing is clear – Nigeria cannot be referred to, today, as one of the world’s great. While me might have made some strides, we are still way behind other nations of the world. In my last post, I started sharing some thoughts on the laws that made nations great. No nation or individual has achieved greatness without them. They are simple but profound laws, and they hold sway anywhere and everywhere in the universe.

The Principle of Hardwork – Rewarding Excellence and Merit and not Quotas

The Principle of Integrity

The Principle of Frugality

Frugality is the practice of minimizing waste. It can be related to the idea of being conservative or conserving resources. It is getting more done with less.
Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything. Benjamin Franklin
One of the greatest problems we have in our nation today is that people live beyond their means; they spend more than they earn! I have worked for a multinational for the past 7 years. Despite the fact that I feel that the company pays fairly and competitively, I am always amazed whenever the month is drawing to a close. People are constantly checking their emails for payment notifications. Most are waiting anxiously for their salaries. They’ve even finished spending it before the earn it! Most times, it is even spent on frivolities, liabilities and things that are just status symbols. This is a major evil. No one becomes great without learning to spend less than he earns!

The same is true for our nation and continent. Do you know that Africa has 40% of the world’s natural resources, despite the fact that it has only 10% of the world’s population? Amazing! We need to ask how these resources are being managed. What happened to the gold mines of South Africa? How are the rich oil wells in Niger Delta managed? Aren’t we a prodigal nation? Any wonder why we export crude and import it back as petroleum products?

According to a recent report in a national weekly newspaper, the country currently spends about $1.7 million (N200 million) to maintain a senator, while about N150 million is spent on each member of the House of Representatives annually. For instance, a former Senate president had 32 cars in his official quarters! When a state governor is travelling within the country he moves with a large convoy of vehicles — mostly bullet-proof cars — and a large retinue of officials who are usually quartered in the best hotels in town at the expense of taxpayers. According to the report, a former governor had three different houses on one street in an expensive suburb of London, whereas John Major, former British prime minister, left No 10 Downing Street, his official residence as prime minister, and went to rent a flat somewhere in the same neighborhood.
Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.John Tyler
What % of your income are you saving? From my experience in the school of success, you are not yet ready for greatness, until you are able to save/invest about 20% of your income on a consistent basis. This is what great individuals and great nations do. Despite having a net worth of $62 billion and being the world’s richest man, famously frugal investor Warren Buffett still lives in the same home he bought for nearly $31,500 some 50 years ago! I am not sure you can say anything close of any Nigerian!

The Principle of Respect For Credit

A couple of months ago, the whole nation was startled by the news of distress in our banking sector. After an audit by the Central Bank of Nigeria, it was discovered that many of the “big” banks were practically at the brink of collapse. Amongst other problems, there was the issue of people not returning money they had borrowed from the banks. People were borrowing large sums of money, and were not fulfilling their commitments of returning it back as at when due. The list of “big” debtors was published in many dailies. I was awed by our lack of respect for credit in our nation.

This of course makes it very difficult for Nigerians to get lines of credit outside the country. Our fellow Nigerians has proven, time and time again, that we lack a culture of respect for credit lines. I heard that in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Nigerians schooling in the UK had easy access to credit. You could practically walk into any bank, and without any collateral, borrow money to pay through school with just a promise to pay back. Your word/promise was enough security for the loan. By the mid 80’s, it was almost impossible to even open an account in the UK if you carry a green passport, not to talk of applying for a credit line! What happened? You guessed right – majority of Nigerians who too loans never paid back!

Disrespect for credit is a killer. It is one of the reasons we are backward as a nation. Most people will not do serious business with Nigerians except you are paying cash! You can’t imagine how many wonderful business deals passes us by because of this limitation.

Even at individual levels, this cancer eats deep. Have you borrowed someone money lately? What was your experience? I sure do hope that your experience was better than mine. People come back to you with all manner of reasons and excuses why they can’t pay back as at when due. Of course, this eventually limits what they can get from you in future. It’s very difficult to borrow people money today without signing a legal agreement. You may never get the money back.

For any individual or nation to become great, we must have a deep seated respect for credit.

Phew.....i have to pause now. I'll complete this series in the next post. Till i come your way again, keep shinning!

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