Monday, 28 November 2011

Walking In Wisdom

By Bayo Ogunmupe

OUR true rewards in life depend on the quality and amount of contribution we make. From the scriptures to science, psychology to business, the documentation is the same. As we sow, we reap. You should know them by their works. You get out what you put in. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. These are all sayings of the scriptures—and of the wise.

The way we can build self-reliance is to recognize alternative choices we have in a free society.

Earlier in my columns, I wrote about three great fears, namely, the fear of rejection, fear of change and fear of success. A good way to conquer fear and build self-reliance is to realize that we all are God-created but self-molded. That we are given love, spiritual leadership, divine rules and laws to help us understand how we cause our own effects by our own decisions. To build self-reliance, you must replace fear with knowledge and action.

We are only victims of our own fears. We are victims of habit and group conformity. Indeed, each of us becomes a hostage of our own making. To be self-reliant, we need to be different if it means being cleaner, and better groomed than the others. The greatest risk in life is to depend upon others for your security. The greatest security is to plan and act and take the risk that will make you independent. Carry this motto in all your teaching: Life is a do-it-yourself project. Become role models for your peers and always model yourself after people you respect. Never make excuses for anything. If a commitment cannot be met, always call immediately with the reason. Never make excuses after the fact. Procrastination leads to the rationalization of failure. Never make excuses to the people you are leading.

In ancient Rome being a sculptor was a popular profession. Really, you were not considered a celebrity if your home or office didn’t have several statues of the gods adorning it. As with every industry, there was good and bad quality statue. Occasionally when a sculptor makes a mistake in carving a particular statue, the crack would be filled with wax. Then, sculptors became so good at remodeling with wax that people could not tell the difference with the naked eye.

If anyone wanted quality statue, he would go to artisan market place and look for good statue makers, marked sine cera – without wax. In sine cera booths reside the real statue. Thus, more than any other virtue, we look for in people, we value sincerity – without wax. Previously, I have written about responsibility as understanding Jehovah’s great law of cause and effect. Here, we are dealing with how to walk in wisdom. Wisdom is the combination of honesty, intuition and knowledge applied through experience. Wisdom is honest knowledge in action. The application of knowledge with intuition is known as sagacity – practical wisdom. There is no greater example of the law of cause and effect than that which is demonstrated in the results of a person’s honesty or dishonesty, over a period of time. There can be no real success without honesty. Some day, the person’s house of wax will melt to reveal the fraud inside.

It is not enough to think the truth. You must act the truth and speak the truth. To be able to do this is to succeed in life. To be wise leaders, we also must consider the impact of our decisions on other people in our lives. The ability to anticipate the effects of our decisions on other people’s lives as well as on our own life is wisdom. When we honestly consider the wellbeing of others, before we decide to profit ourselves, we become truly rich and sagacious.

In life, however, knowledge makes the difference. According to the University of California (UCLA) Brain Research Institute, the power of the human brain to create, store and learn is limitless. The great Russian scholar, Ivan Yefremov, has told the Russian people: “Throughout our lives we use only a fraction of our thinking ability. We could without difficulty learn forty languages, memorise a dozen encyclopedias and complete the required courses of dozens of colleges.” However, one painful reason is that people don’t believe they are worth that much. This is why low self-esteem is such a devastating growth inhibitor. It is sad that people have an aversion to doing more than is necessary to get by.

Peter Drucker, the famous management expert, admonishes: “Today, knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement. Scholars are not merely on top, they are on top.” Human engineering research over a century indicates that one of the most important aptitudes for success is that a large vocabulary – which implies broad knowledge characterizes the more successful persons, regardless of their occupations. Brain is becoming more and more the master of brawn. It should please you to know that reading is the best way to gain knowledge and a greater vocabulary.

Our champion of today is Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, the Russian statesman who became the president of Russia in 1990. The architect of Russian Republic, yeltsin became the first popularly elected leader in Russian history in 1991, guiding the new republic into freedom through breaking up the Soviet Union until his resignation on 31 December, 1999.

He was born February 1, 1931, in Russia, attended Urals Polytechnic and worked in construction from 1955 to 1968. He joined the Communist Party in 1961, becoming the first secretary of his region’s party in 1976. Thereafter, he came to know Mikhail Gorbachev then his counterpart in the city of Stavropol. In 1985 Gorbachev chose Yeltsin to clean out the corruption in the Moscow party and elevated him to the Politburo in 1986. As Moscow’s mayor, yeltsin proved an able and determined reformer. But he estranged Gorbachev by criticizing him for the slowness of his reforms.

Gorbachev kicked him out of Moscow’s leadership in 1987 and from the Politburo in 1988. He was demoted to deputy minister of Construction. However, yeltsin staged a comeback. Through his advocacy of democracy and reform he became popular. He took advantage of Gorbachev’s policy to contest and win a seat in the new Russian Parliament in 1989. In 1990, he was elected President by the Russian Parliament against Gorbachev’s wishes.

Thereafter, yeltsin publicly called for the dissolution of the Soviet Union and then quit the Communist Party. His victory in the direct election of Russian President in 1991 he saw as a mandate to assert the independence of Russia from the Soviet Union. He won global acclaim by casting himself as a democrat and defying the August coup attempt in 1991. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union that December, Yeltsin transformed Russia’s socialist command economy into a free market economy by implementing price liberalization and privatization programmes.

In 1994, Yeltsin sent troops into Chechnya, which had seceded from Russia in 1991. The army was unable to suppress the rebellion. This further eroded Yeltsin’s declining popularity. In another spectacular comeback, however, Yeltsin defeated his Communist challenger in the second round of voting for this second term in office in 1996. He spent the months after, recovering from a heart attack. On 31 December 1999, he made a surprise announcement of his resignation, leaving the presidency with his chosen successor, the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, he said Russia deserved new leaders in the new millennium. Yeltsin maintained a low profile after his resignation, making no statements or appearances. Boris Yeltsin died of heart failure in April 2007 at the age of 76.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

BEYOND THE SUMMITT FOR NIGERIAN RENEWAL

By Bayo Ogunmupe
ECONOMIC summits are a yearly jamboree bringing together chief executives, topnotchers of the private sector and senior government officials to discuss how best to develop and monitor the Nigerian economy.
The main focus of the summits is to develop policy directions in the short and medium term, of the priorities of Nigeria’s national economy in the context of the evolving world economy.
The worst recession in a generation is how the Encyclopaedia Britannica online described the recession that hit the world recently. The economic downturn that started in the United States in 2007, so severely affected many countries including Nigeria. It has been given the unique name, the Great Recession.
That was why the 17th Economic Summit was organised. The summit started at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on November 10, it ended on November 12, 2011, its theme was: Attracting foreign direct investment through global partnerships. At the confab, delegates were treated to a dialogue with President Goodluck Jonathan, sectoral policy dialogues and a forum for emerging leaders was forged.
Yes, Nigeria should attract more and greater investment. But the incentives are not there. The Boko Haram unrest cannot invite investors, for they are attracted by economic stability, a stable currency and the purchasing power of the people.
The best way out of our impasse is to imitate another emerging economy. For me, I would want Nigeria to ape India. Just as Nigeria is the largest country in Africa, India is the largest economy in the Commonwealth. But in spite of these similarities, both countries have differing development patterns. In the latest global competitiveness report, the World Economic Forum (WEF), placed Nigeria at 127th position in the world. Others are the indices rating by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which do not present cheering news. Insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure and socio-economic paralysis have coalesced to stymie Nigeria’s democracy.
For India, the statistics are bright. Even with a huge population of 1.2 billion, as against Nigeria’s 167 million, India’s per capita income and gross domestic product (GDP) still towers above that of Nigeria. The World Bank ranks India as the 10th largest economy in the world by GDP and the fourth by purchasing power parity. In the midst of such impressive indicators of development, India still has its fair share of poverty like Nigeria.
However, unemployment and public sector corruption define the Nigerian reality. And unlike Nigeria, the Indian government and people, having identified their challenges, are tackling them headlong. How India was conquering their problems was the thrust of a recent confab held at the Lagos Business School.
Though the forum was to seek ways of fostering Indo-African relations, it became a roundtable to share experiences and create a future through competition. As it is, the Nigerian authorities should not sweep aside the lessons the Indian community in Nigeria is teaching us. One remarkable lesson from India is the role of diplomacy in entrepreneurship building. India’s High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mahesh Sacdev, is passionately growing Indian businesses in Nigeria.
Nigerian envoys abroad should borrow a leaf from India and grow brand Nigeria wherever they find themselves. It is obvious from the foregoing that India walked the same path as Nigeria. But unlike Nigeria, this South East Asian giant broke free from the manacles of underdevelopment. The Indian government showed the way by evolving policies, which birthed a regime of free enterprise. Working closely with the private sector, the Indian government promoted investments in technology and education. The result is that New Delhi became the outsourcing capital of the world. Indian graduates in areas of medicine and communication technology compared favourably with global brands like Harvard University, the London School of Economics and the University of Geneva. Complex medical cases are being referred from the United States hospitals to India with amazing results.
Yet another lesson is the fiscal frugality and patriotism, which underline the Indian socio-economic work ethic and value system. Indians buy India. Indian government officials use vehicles made in India. Even with a population of eight times that of Nigeria, you will not find the type and number of expensive and exotic cars on Indian roads as you will find in Nigeria.
Nigeria can imitate India in education, ICT, infrastructure, steel, power and healthcare. But first we must mould our warped value system that promotes ostentation. We must learn to invest in our tomorrow. Government insincerity must stop. Let us sell all the refineries with government retaining 30 per cent of the equities in them. They will certainly perform effectively thereafter. Let us promote import substitution industries by requiring all foreign companies in Nigeria to manufacture their goods locally - within five years or be blacklisted. More than 75 million Nigerians are below the age of 18, we must evolve a means of guaranteeing them a better tomorrow. President Goodluck Jonathan must introduce social security for the aged, the unemployed and all tax payers, our economy can withstand it. We do not need the culture of private jets for bank executives or the exotic jeeps of public office holders. Nigerians must imitate India by buying and using Nigerian products, locally sewn clothes and attires. Electricity is the harbinger of economic and industrial prosperity. For lasting economic renewal in Nigeria, we must fix our power sector. Privatisation is the high road to prosperity. The main focus of the government should be the stabilisation of the power sector. To wit, we should adopt one of several models extant in the world today.
As a member of BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, countries similar to Nigeria were in dire need of power in the 1990s. But by 2010, these countries now generate electricity far more than their needs. That was not by magic but by realistic planning that involved every segment of their societies.
However, each of these countries has her own methods of ownership of electric companies. In Brazil, electrical companies are listed at the Stock Exchange. The state owned 52 per cent, residents owned 22 per cent while the remainder is owned by the Brazilian public funds. For Chile, CORFO, the Chilean National Development Corporation is the prototype of our PHCN. Here, electricity is totally privatised. CORFO was initially financed by pension funds but it is now owned by investors. Thus, we should adopt varying strategies to organise our own electricity generation and supply.