Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Political economy of the change mantra

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IN formulating the principles of governance that the Muhammadu Buhari administration should adopt to give effect to his party’s change mantra, we have three parts: adopting a new orientation, a new style of governance and the economics of the change agenda. Just as the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said, there is need for new attitudes and orientation. We must eschew tardiness, parochialism and opt for merit, experience and professionalism. We must apply 21st century techniques of doing things. By being technologically compliant, everybody will be living on the same wavelength and accept new ways of doing things.
Two, by the adoption of new styles of governance, we shall come to terms with the use of technology in the governance of the people. This entails using fewer manpower through the adoption and application of computers where manning was the norm. Adoption of new technology forces us to reduce the federal and state civil services by half.
The adoption of a new management style forces us into new strategies for survival via self-employment, import substitution and entrepreneurship. Three, the economics of the Change Mantra is the lodestar of Buhari administration’s change agenda. In Nigeria’s present circumstances job creation, poverty alleviation and import substitution are the primary issues of the day.
To achieve meaningful results in these areas, a structure for solving and executing plans must be put in place as against the norm. Thus, President Buhari should establish the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) for the purpose of creating and supervising policies. The CPA should have committees headed by advisers. The economic adviser or chief economist will head the committee on poverty alleviation. The committee on employment will be headed by a presidential assistant with that title.
It is the CPA that will formulate and supervise the implementation of policies for Mr. President. Like the United States Council of Economic Advisers, the CPA will ensure optimum employment in the nation and that the Central Bank of Nigeria makes loans available as high as 300 per cent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product.
In implementing the policies formulated by the CPA, ministers with new orientation come into play. The new orientation mantra would have taught us that there are more factors at play in prosperity than prayer. If India, Japan and China can be prosperous without Christianity, Islam and oil, then there are other factors we are ignoring which kept us in poverty even with oil.
In Nigeria, we had credit of 20 per cent of our GDP in 2013. Although we could have achieved more. Sadly, both the federal and state governments have clung to unpatriotic measures meant to perpetuate the corrupt self-enrichment of government functionaries. That is why government has allowed the prohibitive interest rates in domestic lending to the disadvantage of the national economy; but simultaneously to the benefit of foreign economies from where we obtain loans in hope of foreign direct investment (FDI).
Thus, the recent slashing of interest rates from 13 to 11 per cent is in the national interest. Indeed, sound economic policies begin from a regulated non-interest, non-collateral loan schemes for SMEs and import-substitution industries. Also, unless and until Buhari directs the Central Bank to implement its proposal of August 14, 2007 to reverse the improper treatment of the federation account dollar allocations which were overruled, the economy will remain comatose for eternity.
Which is why unless the improper use of federal dollar is reversed, stopping devaluation by fiat will not stem naira depreciation with its associated compounding distortions of the economy. Invariably, imitating economic policies of successful economies is the answer to our woes.
In 1950, South Korea and Pakistan earned the same income yearly. Today, the two countries are centuries apart. While South Korea’s per capita income had grown 23 fold since then, Pakistan has experienced only a three fold increase. Since Nigeria is in the same boat with these Asian tigers, how can we move Nigeria forward into the guild of well to do nations? That is what the change mantra is all about. South Korea’s success is there for us to imitate. This means empowering every Nigerian with better health, qualitative education, and longer life.
Many of the 169 Sustainable Development targets enumerated by the UN for the next 15 years have at their hearts, concerns such as poverty eradication and gender equality. However, one of the targets, full employment, isn’t really an achievable target. It is a dream, for in economics, a nation must have some unemployment to allow workers change jobs. Research affirms that politicians would use the full employment tag to support expensive, protectionist policies that generate great jobs but drive many into the informal sector of the economy. Thus, full employment would end up doing less good than it would cost, and that is certainly not the way to reduce extreme poverty.
An even better job creation scheme is migration. Millions of people today work outside of their homes. As rich nations age, they need more young workers. Moreover, Nigerians are very productive given a good environment, with an improved skills perfecting education, Nigeria can nurture skilled manpower for export to Europe and North America. It is estimated by researchers that for every dollar spent on migrant workers, home remittances from Nigerians in Diaspora would produce more than $300 per migrant.
After the Communist threat disappeared the developed world started applying policies that had the opposite effect on poor countries. Therefore, in crafting principles for the change agenda, Buharists must beware of being misadvised by foreign economists.


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WE think of courage as a quality required in times of extreme danger such as during war and economic recession. But it is much more larger than that. Courage is an essential human virtue. You cannot do anything worthwhile without courage. The person who exhibits courage is more often able to live without regrets.
When we think of people whose talent was elevated and tested by their courage, one who immediately comes to mind is the British war-time Prime Minister, Wiston Churchill. As a youngman, Churchill anticipated greatness for himself. But talent needs courage to flourish. The English clergyman Sydney Smith asserted: ‘‘A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage.” To develop and discover your talent you need courage.
Our courage is tested when we seek truth that we know maybe painful. And a man does not know what he is made of until he is tested. If we fear the test then we will never get the chance to develop the talent. For the truth that makes men free is mostly the truth which men prefer not to hear. However, we are seldom asked to face flying bullets in a physical battle. Often, our tests are much more private involving internal battles many of us find painful.
In order to grow, we need to face truths about ourselves, which is often difficult to bear. Winston Churchill once said, ‘‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” It takes a brave man to listen to unpleasant truths. Courage is tested when change is needed but inactivity is more comfortable. Never leaving the familiar means you are comfortable. But willingly letting go of the familiar means you are courageous. The American historian James Robinson said, ‘‘Greatness, in the last analysis is largely due to bravery – courage in escaping from old ideas and old standards and respectable ways of doing things.”
Our situation does not make us, we make our situation. Our circumstances don’t define, we must define our circumstances by our actions. At anytime, we must be willing to give up all we have in order to become all we can be. If you leave your comfort zone and bravely keep striving, you can reach heights you thought were beyond you. You can go further than those who possess greater talent than you. Italian actress Sophia Loren observed, ‘‘Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent.”
Our courage will be tested when our convictions are challenged. Anytime you are willing to stand up for something, someone will be willing to oppose you. People who express their convictions and try to live them out, will experience conflict from opponents. Which is why you need courage for any action you take. To map out a plan and follow it through requires the courage of soldiers in action. It takes courage to win the victory of peace. The opposite of courage isn’t cowardice, it is comformity. It is not enough to believe in a cause. You need to live for something. A belief is what you argue about. But a conviction is something you can die for. You are not really living unless there are things in your life for which you are willing to die. Bravery is the capacity to act properly even when you are scared to death. And you have not learned a thing until you have applied it in action. What seems impossible is often possible with courage.
In relationships, you go to a higher level when you treat others better than they treat you. When it comes to relationships, there are three routes: the low road – where we treat others worse than they treat us. The middle road where we treat others the same as they treat us. And the high road – where we treat others better than they treat us.
Thus, taking the high road requires courage. It also requires forgiveness. It takes a forgiving spirit to treat others better than they treat him. Always look for courage inside rather than outside of you. Also, you grow in courage by doing the right thing instead of the expedient thing. So, your step forward growing your talent is to decide to be courageous. Occupying a leadership position won’t give you courage, but courage can turn you to a leader.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A new Nigeria: The economics of survival

  • By Bayo Ogunmupe
G-7 nations
G-7 nations
THE group of seven most developed nations, including Canada, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Italy, guard their fortunes jealously.
The G-7 summit at Schloss Elmau in the Bravarian Alps, in Germany, holds on June 7 and 8 this year. The G-7 nations are also united by shared values. They are the pioneers in resolving major challenges of globalisation. Germany, which now holds the G-7 presidency and is hosting the 2015 summit, wishes to continue making active contributions to the world economy.
Issues on the agenda of the G7 meeting are very germane. The German hosts are conscious of the expectations of the developing countries –which is why they will be focusing on the expiry of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
The G-7 agenda includes support for independence of women. This involves promoting vocational education and making entrepreneurship more interesting for women.
Again, poor leadership must have prevented us from qualifying for membership of such summits. Even the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa could not suffice our membership, though we have both the population and the oil resources.
It is only the MINT group that could accommodate us. That group consists of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. Buhari now has the onerous task of revamping the economy and creating integrity and transparency for Nigeria.
Those nations classified above have been so classified due to their technological advancement. They have been industrialized by their leaders, which empowered them with a high degree of economic clout occasioned by technological capacity.
Thus, those nations have come to wield such immense influence and respect among the comity of nations. It is instructive then that industrialization is the backbone of economic development of any nation.
Nigeria’s aspiration to be among the 20 top economies in the world by 2020 aimed at transforming from an agrarian to an industrial society should be pursued vigorously.
Economists, like Prof. Adedoyin Soyibo of the Ibadan School of Economics, have avowed the possibility of Nigeria attaining a development miracle in 10 years, given transparent leadership though this looks impossible at the moment with 170 million Nigerians depending mainly on oil.
Besides, unemployment is rising yearly with many school leavers being unable to get jobs. Other problems such as falling standard of education, weak institutions, weak Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) capacity and leadership failure, among other factors collectively keep us stymied. However, in spite of high expectations on the President-elect, it is pertinent to realize that these problems have persisted for long and that all of us must work very hard to solve them.
With the rebasing of the Nigerian economy in 2014, the country ranked 26th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $454 billion. This performance shot the economy well above those of South Africa, Denmark, Malaysia and Singapore.
The rebasing appeared more motivated by politics of shoring up the image of President Goodluck Jonathan to gain cheap popularity as the elections closed in; political because the level of poverty in Nigeria does not reflect a comparable statutory prosperity. On the quality of life, Nigeria cannot compare favourably with Singapore for example.
According to the UNDP Human Development Index report of 2014, the standard of living, life expectancy, literacy, education and quality of life show that Nigeria ranks 175th while Singapore ranks 34th out of 185 countries so measured.
That shows Nigeria’s rating on the low end of human development and Singapore on the high performance index of human development. According to a UNDP report, Nigeria has not been recording any remarkable progress in its human development index as against claims by the president’s advisers that the country’s economy is robust and resilient.
According to UNDP, life expectancy in Nigeria is 52 years while 68 per cent of Nigerians live on a dollar daily. For Singapore, it ranked second after Switzerland in the world’s top ten economies in 2014.
In fact, like most African states, Nigeria’s economy is inert since most of our foreign reserves are spent to buy foreign goods and technologies. Much has also been frittered away on trite issues as constitutional amendments and the Transformation Agenda.
What it will take Buhari to triumph, therefore, is pruning the high cost of governance, keeping electricity privatized, privatising the refineries and setting up a national full employment programme, to keep every Nigerian working. Indeed, the most urgent task is to restore electrical power to its optimum capacity.
This he can do by inviting a board of experts with power to invite and pay foreign power generating companies. There is yet another option: Let the Federal Government buy 30 per cent equity in every privatized state institution.
Through the 30 per cent, it could send spies into those institutions to observe what is going on there. For the past 30 years, Nigerians have celebrated corruption as a way of life.
The best way to deal with the scourge is to privatise every department or agency of government wherever possible. As Adedoyin Soyibo said in his book, Images: Prologue to Africa’s Development and Economic Renaissance, the country can adopt the emulation strategy that advanced development in the industrial societies of the West. Soyibo went on to say that what Nigeria needs is trade, not aid. This is imperative when we consider the level of trade in the world.
In Africa, trade among states is only 12 per cent. Whereas in Asia, it is 48 per cent, in North America, 47 per cent while in Europe it is 70 per cent. Let Buhari increase trade among African countries to make Nigeria become the industrial hub on the continent. To privatise the NNPC, let us look to how other OPEC members are managing their oil companies. All Buhari needs to do is to imitate and invite other nations for assistance. All things are possible to him that believeth. •Ogunmupe lives in Lagos.

Nigeria: How to Develop Your Winning Streak

TO cultivate a winning streak, you must believe while others are doubting; plan while others are playing, decide while others are delaying and prepare while others are daydreaming. Also, you must begin while others are procrastinating, work while others are wishing, save while others are wasting. Moreover, you must always listen to others, smile while others are frowning and persist while others are quitting.

To win in life requires three things, one: you must start your goal. That seems obvious, but many of us are stuck in the starting blocks, waiting for something to propel us into action. What has God equipped and called you to do? Step out and announce yourself for action, and He will empower you. Two, you must give your goal, your all. Athletes in the Olympics don't save their efforts for their final drive. They concentrate on nailing every single run, increasing their chances for a gold medal. Don't settle for mediocrity at any stage of your life. Three, you must never quit for winners don't quit while quitters never win. Paul said: "Run in such a way as to get the prize," Cor. 9:24.
Commitment is a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. It is a promise to yourself from which you cannot back down. There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested, you do it only when it is convenient. But when you are committed, you accept no excuses, only results. Only you can decide whether the rewards are worth the effort. You cannot live on junk food and have a healthy body. Commitment means paying your dues and disregarding your critics. Difficulties will always tempt you to believe your critics are right such that following a course of action to an end will always require courage. The scripture says: "Rise up, take courage and do it," Ezra 10:4.There is an invisible reservoir of abundance that is tapped when you obey God's laws. The Torah says, "The blessing of the Lord makes rich and adds no sorrow," Pro. 10:22. Jehovah's ability to bless you does not depend on what's happening to the economy. When you obey Him, He will "Open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing, there will not be room enough to receive. And He will rebuke the devourer for your sakes," Mal 3: 10-11.Sometimes, when you achieve what you are striving for, you find they are not very fulfilling. But as you look back, you realize that your greatest joy was not in the goal you achieved but in the growth you experienced on the way. The Japanese Nobel prize winning chemist, Koichi Tanaka describes this phenomenon and how it came about during the pursuit of his dream. As he worked on how to create ions with lasers, he says, "I failed for months before I succeeded in making an ion. I continued despite failures because I enjoyed the journey. It was fun, that fun enabled me to persist." That persistence helped him to win the Nobel prize. We don't have such people here because, as a former colony, we are used to being led and fed. You too have the potential to discover many wonderful things like Tanaka. For me, writing these columns has taken me out of my comfort zone. It has elevated my thinking and raised my self esteem. It has given me confidence and confirmed my sense of purpose. My pursuit of my dream has become so enticing, that I now ask myself: "Did I make the dream or the dream made me?" when your mind accepts a new idea it is forever changed. Once stretched, your mind takes on a new shape and never goes back to its original form. When that happens, you experienced true fulfillment. When you dream, you become ageless.
Our champion this week is Patrice Lumumba, the African nationalist leader and first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was prime minister between June and September of 1960. He was born in July 1925 at Onalua, the Belgian Congo. He was a member of a small Batetela tribe which later became significant in his later political life. His two rivals, Moise Tshombe, who led the breakaway Katanga Province and Joseph Kasavubu who later became the nation's president. Both came from large, powerful tribes from which they derived their support, giving their political movements a regional character. In contrast, Lumumba's party emphasized its all-Congo nature. After education in Protestant schools, Lumumba went to work in Port Empain where he became a trade unionist. Then he became a columnist in a Congolese newspaper. Later he founded the Congolese National Movement, the first nationwide political party. In an eventual election, Lumumba scored a sweeping victory, becoming premier in June 1960. Then Katanga broke away, but Joseph Mobutu, later known as Mobutu Sese Seko, seized power as a colonel in the Congolese army. Mobutu later reached a working agreement with Kasavubu. Seeking to travel out of the Congo, Kasavubu forces captured Lumumba in December 1960, on January 17, 1961 he was delivered to the Katanga secessionist regime where he was murdered. His death caused a scandal throughout Africa and he retrospectively became Congo's national hero.

Thinking Habits And Lifestyles Of Winners

WinningTHE habits and lifestyles of winners are worthy of emulation. Those who by inspiration and perspiration have become wealthy have memoirs which can help aspiring millionaires. Sadly, the mediocre do not seem to want to emulate these rich people. Instead mediocres become envious, detesting the successes and progress of the rich. Granted that the rich are often obnoxious, lousy and arrogant, this does not change the facts that they are successful.
For example, since the victory of the President-elect, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, they have been criticising the former Lagos state governor, Chief Bola Tinubu for sponsoring the merger of four opposition parties to form the All Progressives Congress, the platform which carried Buhari to victory.They say we don’t even question the integrity of Tinubu who, they say has turned politics into profitable business. We say, such envious attitudes don’t exist among the rich. It isn’t your business to question Tinubu’s morals. Those are provinces of God and the Nigeria Police Force. What aspiring winners do is to concentrate on their goals, work at them and succeed in them.
Thinking on how Tinubu made his money does not add value, riches and substance to your existence or greatness. Those aspiring to replicate Tinubu’s greatness should focus on the strategies and skills deployed to produce success. Being resentful of those who have what you desire will only make what you desire move even further away from you. This is a reason why many fail to achieve the wealth and riches they desire. Their resentment will continue to drive wealth away from them. Resentment creates negative emotions such as anger, envy, bitterness and spite which clutter your mind preventing creative problem solving to enter into it. When you are building your wealth, you should research on the rich. You should read biographies and visit the abode of the rich.
We have discovered the negative mindset of Nigerians do inhibit the realization of their goals. Instead of planning their own greatness, they are busy regaling themselves with the myths of how Tinubu obtained contracts to build a hotel or that Mike Adenuga must personally interview every manager before he is employed by Globacom. To me, the way we think and believe sentenced most of us to poverty. The Torah says: ‘‘Speak gracious words to edify and not words that wound as words fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver,” Prov. 25: 11. You cannot be great without knowledge. Which is why you should engage yourself in the acquisition of knowledge rather than vendetta. If you desire wealth you should read the biographies of wealthy people where they will tell you how to make it. The secrets of wealth are in the stories and experiences of the rich. Peter Daniels, the richest man in Australia, is reputed to have read six thousand biographies. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world is known to read and review thousands of books every year. Moreover, a study of the wealthy revealed that rich people are voracious readers. No wonder, they are successful. As an aspirant to greatness, you have no excuse when memoirs of the great abound everywhere. You don’t have to repeat the experience of failure that others have undergone. You can simply avoid the mistakes of others through reading the testimonies of others.
A recent edition of Forbes magazine captured the accounts of a Nigerian billionaire who recently bounced back from failure. The oil company of the billionaire in question was taken over by others owing to excessive debts. The essay was able to show the strategies this billionaire applied to enable him bounce back. This article is replete with lessons for every aspiring entrepreneur that could save him from failure. Because riches start from the mind, driven by our attitudes and mindset, if you want to excel, you must nourish your mind with knowledge. You can only be as great as your knowledge.
Our champion this week is Sir Vidiadhar Suraj prasad Naipaul (August 1932 to 2012), the Trinidadian writer of Indian descent who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. Naipaul is well known for his pessimistic novels set in the developing world which the Swedish Academy called suppressed histories. Descending from Hindu Indians who had immigrated to Trinidad as indentured labourers, Naipaul left Trinidad to attend the University of Oxford in 1950. He subsequently settled in England. His earliest books, The Mystic Masseur, 1957, The Suffrage of Elvira, 1958, and Miduel Street, 1959 are ironic and satirical accounts of life in the Caribbean. His fourth novel A House for Mr. Biswas, 1961, was a much more important work and won him recognition. In other books, Naipaul explored the personal and collective alienation experienced in new nations struggling to integrate their native and western colonial heritages. Naipaul was knighted in 1989 and awarded the Nobel Prize in 2001.

Getting God’s Consent For Your Project

God in Heaven. image source extras.inyork.
God in Heaven. image source extras.inyork

JEHOVAH does not look at the things man looks at. David’s father didn’t think himself fit to be Israel’s next king, which was why when Samuel came looking for a successor to King Saul, he presented his eldest son, Eliab, who was a General in the Israeli army.
Prophet Samuel was impressed. Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely God’s anointed stands here.” But Jehovah told Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.” God does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks on the outward appearance but Allah looks at the heart.
When it comes to your life’s calling, only God’s opinion counts. In order to fulfill his destiny, David had to overcome his family’s opinion of him. Any time you see people pursuing a mid-career change, you can be certain that they had been living someone else’s dream and had lost their way. Nobel prize-winning essayist, Joseph Brodsky, observed: “One’s task consists, first of all, in mastering a life that is one’s own, not imposed from without, no matter how noble its appearance may be.
For each of us is issued but one life, and we know how it all ends. It would be regrettable to squander this one chance on someone else’s experience.” It isn’t too late to invite God to your project. Just do what God wants you to do by your intuition and capacity. Ask God for a dream of your own and He will give it to you.
Sadly, try as you may, you will never fulfill a dream that isn’t your own. You locate your dream by studying your personal history. You will live the life for which Jehovah created you, only after you figure out your life’s project. When a dream is right for you and you are right for a dream, you are single-mindedly magnetized to it.
Paul told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.” The young person has no clear picture of himself. He sees himself only in the mirror of his parents. A child who is told repeatedly that he is a bad boy, or is lazy, or no good, or stupid or clumsy, will tend to act out this picture. You can only get Allah’s consent if you follow His will.
The Philistines made a raid on the Valley of Rephaim. Then David inquired from God, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hand?” God said to him, “Go up, for I will deliver them into your hand.” At Baal Perazim, David commented, “God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water. Thereafter, they called the place Baal Perazim, meaning breaking-through.”
To get a breakthrough in your life, you must do like David: First, he reminded himself that God had made him King. You must know what you stand for. Second, David enquired from God, “Shall I go up against the Philistines?” God does not respond to your need, He responds to your obedience. When you have obeyed Jehovah, you will win. Third, David gave God credit for his victory: “God has broken through my enemies.” Chronicles 14:11.
Sometimes, God will do it for you. At other times, He will do it through you. That is why you must hear from God before you settle on a particular project. You cannot obey God and have Him abandon you. When you obey God, He will grant you a breakthrough.
Our champion this week is Baron Paul Julius Reuter, the German-born founder of one of the first news agencies, which still bears his name. Of Jewish parentage, he became a Christian in 1844 and adopted the name Reuter.
Reuter was born in Kassel, Germany in 1816. He became a clerk in his uncle’s bank in Gottingen, Germany, where he made the acquaintance of the eminent Mathematician, Friedrich Gauss. At that time Gauss was experimenting with electric telegraph that was to become important in news dissemination.
In 1843, he joined a publishing concern in Berlin, which published political pamphlets. After hostilities arising from his pamphlets, he moved to Paris, France in 1848. Reuter then started sending news he translated from French to Germany. In 1950, he set up a news agency between Brussels and Germany. Moving to London in 1851, he set up a telegraph office near the London Stock Exchange. With daily newspapers flourishing, Reuter persuaded publishers to subscribe to his news agency. His first spectacular success came when he transmitted to London the text of a speech by Napoleon III starting the Austro-French war in Italy.
The spread of undersea cables helped Reuter extend his services. Reuter was created a baron by Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1871. He was given the privileges of this rank in England. He retired as managing director of Reuters in 1878 and died in Nice, France in February 1899. His Reuters news agency is still thriving at 164 years.