Between Apocalyptic 2012 And 2013 Goals

In November 2009, an American science fiction disaster film, 2012, was released to the market. The film, with John Cusack as the leading actor, attempted to finally bring into the viewers’ consciousness the oft-repeated concern of some people, the possible ending of the world as we know it on December 21, 2012. There are lots of doomsday theories surrounding the 2012 phenomenon, all supposedly built around the ending of the Mayan calendar. However, the 2012 film, which raked about $770m in revenue, was built around the apocalypse that would follow the effect of neutrinos from a massive solar flare believed to cause the temperature of the Earth’s core to rapidly increase. The producers of the film must have chosen this particular theory based on the current velocity of the world politics with respect to global warming and climate change. Little wonder they boldly wrote on the film’s cover: We Were Warned.

Owing to this film, and several claims of its kind, several people are already giving up hope of planning and living their lives. Polls, conducted across many countries, have shown serious apprehension in terms of fear and anxiety in people as per the ‘end of the world’. Some are already asking if they should kill themselves and their families so as to escape the agony of the apocalypse. These set of people definitely care less of the incoming year 2013, if it ever comes.

Should you care? Is there any need to start noting your goals for the new year and maybe the next five years?

If you don’t believe in the Mayan calendar or the usual doomsday tales, it is time to commence planning for the new year. Goal setting requires introspection, real self talk and time since choosing the right goals to begin with is harder than the process of setting goals. Aside the fact that goals make you accountable, they particularly drive you forward with laser focus on your life. The just departed Zig Ziglar used to say that a goal properly set is halfway reached……..and that goals don’t care who has them. The whole month of December is yours to review the outgoing year, and to start designing for the incoming one. Dare yourself with that business, that career switch, that relationship, that weight loss and that additional degree you have been dreaming about. Dare to succeed. Let the new year count.

In truth anyway, many scholars of the Mayan history, and even the Mayan people of Guatemala, are decrying the association of their calendar with the end of the world. To them, there is no link of the cataclysmic events of the end of time with the calendar. If you are religious, rather believe in the eschatology of your faith, and if your belief is in pure science, take solace in the NASA repudiation of the 2012 apocalypse claims (check the NASA points here). All should instead focus on making the new year more fulfilling.

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Israel-stine: Toys Tests and Ceasefires

Israel-Palestine Land MapYou may sometimes wonder whether the scientific explanations of the rumbling thunders or lightnings in the skies could be entirely true. Perhaps the noise are the sound of various weapons of war being used by extra-terrestrial beings to settle conflicts. Maybe the universe is supposed to be enmeshed in confusion, violence and bloodshed. The on going Syrian revolution notwithstanding, the just ceased Israel-Palestine (or rather, Hamas) exchanges of fire, and previous altercations of similar forms continue to show the ease with which human’s frequency of peace can be changed to that of violence.

It’s truly a sensitive and complex issue to write about considering the religious and nationalistic dimensions added on to the conflict making it not only a regional concern but a global one. You may go through a multimedia of the Crisis Guide here. I used to wonder whether a single drop of blood would have been shed if it were the Roma people that were made to settle in the area in 1947; but Jews? No way!

Maybe the process of settling the people of Israel in that zone was faulty, maybe there was no proper consultation and agreement with the Palestinians on ground, maybe the UN had ulterior motives in the Jewish resettlement, maybe the “Zionists” truly have the agenda to usurp the whole land; the conflict is really getting too old. There is an urgent need to save the land and the future generations from the seething hatred, poverty, fear and warfare (mental and physical) currently pervading the region. People desire lasting peace where there could be proper development of both land and people instead of the recurring interchanges of violence and lulls.

The just ceased imbroglio was highly unnecessary and ill timed. It got escalated with the Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Al-Jabbari (former military head of Hamas) who was reportedly just offered a peace plan meditated by Egypt. The violence however only gave both parties the chance to test their new weapons or defense mechanisms. Israel tested its drone with precision bombing, while Hamas was able to confirm that the newly acquired long range rockets can now reach Tel Aviv from Gaza, that was never achieved in the long history of rocket firing. Israel also re-tested and confirm the capability of the Iron Dome defense system with respect to barrages of rocket – only a third of all Qassam rockets fired were intercepted, and 85 – 90% success rate in destroying the intercepted rockets. Even, the COLOR RED rocket warning phone app came to the fore during the struggle; unfortunately aside the buzzing of the drones over their roofs, there was nothing to warn the Gazans of any impending bomb or bullet.

Billions of dollars were used in the development and production of drones and defense system on the Israeli side, while significant amount would also be expended to acquire all the new Grad launchers, guns and maybe stones on the Palestinian side……to what end? To extirpate the other party, in spite of several moves and plans by both international and regional bodies to normalize relations and ensure peaceful coexistence.

There have been initiatives, accords, processes and maps designed by governments and bodies to ensue peace, all rejected by either or both parties altogether. Whether the leaders of the two parties like it or not anyway, the people’s choice of the willingness to live side by side as two states must be respected. Majority of Israelis and Palestinians, in a poll Israel-Palestine: 2 States in Peaceconducted in 2007, had already stressed their readiness to sheathe the swords and live in peace. One very good plan which can be reviewed and implemented is the Fahd’s plan of 1982, enhanced and re-presented as Saudi Plan in 2002, and re-presented again at the Riyadh’s summit of 2007. It is a plan underpinning the UN resolutions 242 and 338 which require both parties to revert to pre-1967 war arrangement, and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza in return for peace and right to live for Israel. The plan; though had support of the Arab league, Europe and even US; could not work because there was no sufficient guarantee for Israel’s security. That solves it!

Thankfully the direction of the Obama administration in resolving the conflict is to largely involve the regional powers for which Qatar, Saudi and Egypt are responding to. So guys, pick up the Saudi plan and polish it with some significant guarantee for the security of the state of Israel, and let peace reign. Israel should also come to the table with assurances for the “refugees”. We know it’s easier said, but you all know that in almost 70 years of the struggle, violence has brought nothing good. People are tired of the incessant fires and ceasefires. It’s time to engage in true and sincere negotiations with readiness for compromise for the sake of the children, women and youths who have known nothing in their entire existence but violence. Peace!

Share your thoughts on the way forward for the region by dropping your comments below.

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7 Lessons Romney’s Loss Should Remind Business Leaders

It is true that there has been several issues this past week I could blog on today : Petraeus – Broadwell scandal and the ensuing conspiracy theories, Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Jabari, Sinofsky’s resignation from Microsoft, the demise of Lam Adesina and Olusola Saraki (both former Nigerian political godfathers), Boko Haram’s readiness for dialogue, Nigerian Communications Commission’s banning of promotions and lotteries by telecoms operators; but none itches me more than the lessons we can all be reminded of, especially business leaders, from Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama in last week’s US presidential elections.

The whole episodes of the campaign trail, debates, elections and the management of all these three become some opera from which one could learn some vital lessons. Neglecting, or violating, these lessons by Mitt’s campaign organization was worrisome knowing that Romney himself is a numbers guy, an all round business figure. Having started and worked in/on several ventures, you would expect the candidate and the campaign to be uncompromising in employing ‘best practices’ in campaign setup, mobilization and management. So, comparing Mitt’s ways with Obama’s – a previous community organizer with not much reported business management acumen, though you cannot doubt his leadership skills – strategies, these lessons become imperative:

1. Never Underestimate Your Competitor

It was evident that the campaign and the Republican party machinery believed there was no way Obama’s campaign could survive the Americans’ decision. No incumbent president has won re-election on such high unemployment numbers, none on such high deficit position, and none with supposed socialist tendencies. While still doubting the polls, and ignoring Obama’s campaign’s real strengths (rhetoric and oratory not intended) of ground work, door-to-door explanation of policies, moderate views and arithmetic, they plunged into the election. The exit polls confirmed much of what the ‘real’ polls have been saying and not what Fox news was feeding the GOP.

2. Have Character

One of the major failings of Mitt’s campaign was being unprincipled, and using his words ‘Americans noticed that’. He was seen to be flip-flopping around ideas and principles with no much guidepost. You either have character, or like Robert Greene (the author of the 48 Laws of Power) might advise, pretend to have one commendable trait identifiable with you or your team. In a business environment where the management is seen to constantly shift the goal posts with respect to policies and commitments, you do not only see distrust from stakeholders but very stunted growth potential. Employees, suppliers and customers only shrug when such enterprises release notices, they know the notices hold no water. It should baffle you how such businesses still write any reasonable figure against their goodwill on their balance sheets…….in truth, there is none.

3. Never Concede Market Share

It is true that businesses do well with a well defined niche, but businesses cannot and should not give up on market share. That’s why it seemed very absurd for Mitt to outrightly give up on 47% of all Americans at that fundraising event. Such comment was/is preposterous for a campaign depending on people’s thumb print. Even Guinness and other brewery houses never left some areas that are supposed to be ‘sacred’ and beer free…..they care not only for sales but market share. It is on this same note that the governor of Louisiana (Bobby Jindal) spanked Romney at yesterday’s conference of Republican governors: “We have got to stop dividing the American voters,” he said. “We need to go after 100% of the votes, not 53%.”

4. Plan for Contingencies

We can never stress this lesson enough. Planning for contingencies – business continuity and disaster recovery – is essential for business success. You cannot be too over confident on your product(s), processes and infrastructure. In fact, you cannot be too confident of your bottom line projections, that’s why it’s called projection. Romney campaign was largely depending on its much reported Project Orca to counter Obama’s ground work, only that it’s best use would have been on the election day. The application was to be used to monitor voters and report on the yet-to-vote ones, then volunteers would rush in to encourage the voter to go out and cast her ballot for you know who. But the application and “back end database servers’ were not really stress tested for the job until the election day. Alas! The application went kaput and there was nothing anybody could do. Same goes for Romney’s unpreparedness for a concession speech. He, and the campaign have been over confident that he would only need a victory speech. For me, that’s too cocky.

5. Listen Broadly

Decision makers know that it pays to listen wide before making their choices. This affords them the chance of reviewing the pros and cons of all available options. Without doubt, business leaders that are giving their ears to only those telling them stuffs they wish to hear are killing the enterprise in their trust. Romney and his campaign were only concerned with Fox news and the likes with respect to polls and their analyses. Karl Rove and his cohorts were feeding the GOPers what they wanted to see, and in fairness to Karl, he believed in his model till the end…..Obama must lose Ohio! Believing the models and analysis of Donald Trump, Adelson Sheldon and Fox news while ignoring that of Nate Silver & Co was a huge undoing. Listening only to the super conservatives and the Tea ‘partiers’ to the exclusion of the moderates in the party did a great harm to the campaign. Business leaders are expected to be sponges to absorb ideas from all angles, then squeeze out the waste after careful considerations. Among those other voices maybe that tiny, shrilling voice on whose insight the enterprise may ride to greatness.

6. Respect Customers’ Choices

It’s always to any business benefit to receive feedback from its customers with respect to their needs. The onus is then on the enterprise to deliver solutions for people’s needs and cash in therefrom. It is true that the Republican party (especially the conservatives and the tea party stalwarts) might have values they were offering the American masses, but they should not have scoffed at those being chanted by average Americans. Obama’s campaign played this lesson very well by appealing to the concerns of a wide range of demographics – middle class, veterans, women (health and abortion rights), college students (loans and grants), homosexuals (even though many do not approve), seniors (health insurance and medicare) etc. Mitt’s campaign was only fixated on its own offering, and so are many businesses with their product ranges. Well, customers know how to respond…….ignore!

7. Your External Environment Matters

It is a routine in all business schools when talking about strategy….PESTEL analysis. PESTEL analysis stands for “Political, Economic, Social, and Technological, Environmental and Legal analysis”. It is a part of the external analysis when conducting a strategic analysis or doing market research and gives a certain overview of the different macro environmental factors that the company has to take into consideration. The Romney campaign felt the only issues concerning Americans (yes, it should be) are jobs and economy, and so cared less when he went abroad and literally insult the sensibilities of Great Britain (at the start of London 2012 Olympics), the people of Palestine, and America’s number one creditor, China. Those states and many others stylishly amplified the fact that they cannot work with such person on foreign policy issues. Yes, those countries would not vote in the elections, but Americans noticed being rubbed in the mud by their aspiring Commander-in-Chief. Give your external environment some consideration and you may ride on that to greatness.

The whole campaign and the electioneering process gave a good platform for us to learn, or be reminded of those lessons to better manage our lives and enterprises. For that, thanks Mitt!

Share other lessons you might have gleaned from the campaign process and your other insights by dropping your comments below. 

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Obama’s Re-election: Implications for Africa

When the NBC first called in the election and pronounce President Barack Obama reelected for second term in office, the new America was born. When he rose to the podium to deliver his victory speech – you realized here was a man who ought to have been politically crumbled due to “superficial” figures of job creation and humongous debt, yet he was audaciously hopeful of success at the polls. As I was listening to his speech, I could not but wonder how much effect his second term will have on Africa.

Obama, though has the African blood flowing through his veins, is much broad minded to be too concerned with Africa really. He can really be said to be race-neutral, and of course not a bigot. By the way, he only made one hasty trip to sub-saharan Africa throughout his first term and that’s to Ghana. The other one being Egypt. However, we are talking about American elections here; Americans might have decided but the effect is felt worldwide.

His race neutrality nevertheless, he appreciates the opportunity the American spirit gave him to climb to his current status, and thus abhors policies and governance that would rather shunt the possibility of sustainable human development, equal opportunity, transparency, education and innovation – much of what many African governments represent.

His views and objectives, expressed in the policy document of June, 2012: U.S Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, are to: (1) strengthen democratic institutions; (2) spur economic growth, trade, and investment; (3) advance peace and security; and (4) promote opportunity and development.

Obama’s government will be attempting to consolidate on the four-pronged approach in partnering with ‘responsible’ governments and actors in Africa to promote strong and credible democratic norms and processes, facilitating with U.S companies to trade with and invest in Africa, addressing constraints to growth and promoting poverty reduction, and increasing opportunities for women and youth. And much more…..

It is of course expected that the American government intensifies its effort in the area of trade and investment in Africa since China has been romancing and actually becoming established as a worthy partner in trade and investment. China’s strategy, in relations with African countries, is easily understood though as it needs to obtain energy resources to support and sustain economic development. Obama, however, will be seeking to improve Africa’s trade competitiveness by encouraging diversification of the continent’s exports beyond natural resources, or extractive industries, and ensuring the benefits from the growth are broad-based.

Most of these functions would be undertaken using the ‘usual’ aid through the USAID. There has however been serious shouts as to the effectiveness of the US foreign aid to Africa both from concerned Africans and US Congress. The President himself is really concerned as to the utter dependency of African governments on foreign aid, and for which has steeped further in corruption. In the words Professor Ayittey, much of the aid has gone into the accounts of African dictators as most African leaders are more interested in lining their pockets than encouraging entrepreneurship. That’s especially unfortunate, because before Africa – now the begging bowl – was colonized it had a culture of markets and entrepreneurship, a spirit still in evidence in small African towns.

Regardless of China’s continuing influence, and in consonance with Obama’s views of public service responsibility, the American government may remove or reduce aid going to some African countries, for example, previously small allocations of existing Development Assistance funds would be eliminated in at least eight countries (Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Niger, and Togo) and would be cut by over half in several others (including Burundi, Djibouti, and Guinea). Some would however receive significant boost e.g Kenya – fast turning to Africa’s technological go to hub, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria (largely because of the strategic partnership between the 2 countries more than anything). To this end, Africa foreign operations budget for FY2012, as made available and analysed by the Congressional Research Service, showed a total $7.8bn planned for the continent (a figure slightly lower than what was actually spent in FY2010 – $8.1bn). The figure is as such not just because the country is still normalizing from the Great Recession, but because of the renewed sense of real monitoring and expected responsibility from recipients.

It is also noteworthy to the African countries fully dependent on crude oil for their sustenance that the Obama administration’s long term energy policy see more of clean and renewable energy than fossil based. Machineries, policies, and strategies are already in place to achieve his pledge of cutting America’s daily 11 million barrels of oil imports by a third by the end of his presidency. It is true that every president since Richard Nixon has called for America’s independence from oil, but Washington gridlock has prevented that again and again, but don’t underestimate Obama. The same way universal health care bill was sought by many presidents, but Barack got the Act, Obamacare is now a reality. Countries need to start thinking of diversification.

On a final note, during this second term, Africa may see significant increase in remittances from the US and elsewhere. it has been noticed that African Americans (and by extension African migrants) do well during Democratic party’s presidency, and as such more inflow of money is expected into the continent. Today’s African Diaspora consists of approximately 20 to 30 million adults, who send about $40 billion annually to their families and local communities back home. For the region as a whole, this represents 50 percent more than net official development assistance (ODA) from all sources, and, for most countries, the amount also exceeds foreign direct investment (FDI). According to a World Bank study, Nigeria is by far the top remittance recipient in Africa, accounting for $10 billion in 2010, a slight increase over the previous year ($9.6 billion). Other top recipients include Sudan ($3.2 billion), Kenya ($1.8 billion), Senegal($1.2 billion), and South Africa ($1.0 billion). Hopefully this inflows will be allowed to do that which they are meant for: development.

Obama’s re-election is therefore a mixed blessing for Africa, and of course, the effects are going to be felt in varying degrees around the continent. For many countries, with not much exportable commodities, balance of trade may tilt much out of their favor; some (e.g Kenya and Ghana) may become more stronger because of their better democratic institutions and entrepreneurial opportunities. For many, especially the youths, the Obama figure alone is enough a psychological boost telling them that hope is not lost; with education, endurance and opportunity spotting, the world can be at their feet.

Share your thoughts on this issue by dropping your comments below.

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America’s Electoral College System Suits Nigeria

It is true that America has exported (and is exporting) her ideals and philosophies around the globe especially in the context of democracy. It is also evident that the result of the export has been really mixed. We have all seen democratic dictatorships, parliamentary democracies, monarchic democracies and what have you. However, the bedrock of the American democracy vis-a-vis Presidential/Vice-Presidential elections – The Electoral College System – is held tight to chest. For this, no export! Even though, you may want to agree with me that the system will suit Nigeria.

Since independence, Nigeria has gone through some experimental settings of democratic governance but has come to rely more on the presidential system with the two houses of national assembly akin to a republic, and of course same spirit with the American system. However, when “copying” the American democratic style, Nigeria did not imbibe the electoral college stuff which may assist the nation in combating virtually all the ills always plaguing the country during and after elections: bribery and thuggery, wanton destruction of lives and properties, marginalization of minorities, massive voter fraud (rigging) and errors, and “abnormal” long  court cases while contesting results.

The system, though not totally perfect on its own, elicit the spirit of true federalism, an ethos being loudly touted by most political leaders in Nigeria as the missing piece in our representative democratic endeavor. It necessarily demands moderation, compromise and coalition building among political parties and candidates (particularly the aspiring Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates). The candidate(s) are expected to appeal to a broad range of people, and not just be urban- or class-centric. Electoral college therefore reflects people’s choice but also respect the minority; it also definitely creates stability and certainty in elections.

The system is such that all the votes on the national election day are actually being cast for a certain set of people (the electors – one from each senatorial district and Federal Constituency) who have been earlier chosen/elected by political parties, in each and every state, to represent them in selecting both the president and the vice president sometimes after the general elections (it is always done in December in the US election year). A simple majority win on the votes of electors is enough to return a candidate (or set of candidates as in joint ticket) as the winner of the elections. The current number in the US is 538 and as such any candidate winning 270 electors carries the election. Nigeria with 469 “electors”- total number of senatorial districts and federal constituencies in the country- should necessarily have the candidate having 236 electors as the president. The candidate having the required electors will be declared as the winner of the election regardless of who wins the popular vote of the general election.

You may want to term the arrangement as being unfair and undemocratic especially when the candidate winning the electoral college loses the popular vote – it has only happened four times in the over 200 year history of US presidential elections, the most recent being Bush’s victory in the 2000 election – but the implication is that the losing candidate might have neglected some minorities and/or ideals affecting some groups of electors as evident in Al Gore’s case with New Hampshire in 2000. The system rather create a fair ground for big and small states to have a real say in choosing the president, and allow people of some leanings to fight to be heard, else…..

Nigeria with so many ethnic groups and other minority interests therefore should really benefit from this kind of arrangement. And with elections always fraught with irregularities and violence, Section 134 of the 1999 constitution (declaring the candidate with: 1. the highest number of votes at the election, 2. not less than 25% in each of at least 24 states in the Federation, the winner of the election) which is basing success on only national votes may need need to be amended for a Nigeria-needed system like the Electoral College System.

Share your thoughts on the viability of this system in Nigeria by dropping your comments below.

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The Prisons We Call Homes

Building, or owning, a house is a normal dream for each and every adult, male or female, whether in Accra or Ankara, Lagos or Los Angeles, Mali or Makkah, Abuja or Aberdeen or wherever. The freedom often derived from the houses however vary widely depending on the part of the world you are fortunate to be. The houses being built by the middle class and above in some areas in West Africa are nothing but prisons rather than homes.

The freedom being sought from the style/design of the structure is always being met by the challenges of neighborhood security thereby forcing you to budget for unnecessary surveillance and physical constraints measures. Hence, for many living in the free rural areas, it takes them little time to notice how restrictive the urban middle class lives can be. It takes them little to see beyond the advertised grandeur of the “rich” homes to see prisons instead. How do you describe this feeling: You are passing by your friend’s house and you need to have some conversation, yet you are pressed for time. You called your friend on phone to step unto his balcony for some chat. Alas, the balcony has been fully barred with iron rods; so he has to talk to you behind bars, as you might imagine!

It is around here, unlike what may obtain outside of Africa, that you will see some individual structures with security towers (for the watchmen); despite a very high brick fence with electrical deterrents already constructed. You may also have to drive in through a toughened iron gates into the compound. Looking round, you will likely observe windows with wrought iron burglary restraints; and CCTV cameras for both internal external surveillance. You will be entering the house through a toughened steel security door, and you may have to pass through a couple of such doors before accessing the main living room. What a structure! You will not be too far from the truth if you look at this as a microcosm of the Fox River – the main prison in the popular TV series, Prison Break.

Ironically, the prison inmates still feel much more safer and relaxed than most “inmates” in a typical Nigerian middle class house. Fear of burglars and robbers, with their terror, sometimes pervade neighborhoods; palpitations sometimes experienced whenever some gentle breeze blows around the curtain blinds………what a life! Is it possible to turn this tide around? Can we work round this sense of fear and insecurity?

Of course, we can! We are currently at a point where youth development and productive ‘busy-ness’ to be underpinned by adequate social welfare have become highly necessary in our societal existence. We need to productively engage the teeming youths in ideas and ventures which will consequently dissuade them from the culture of crime and intimidation. We can:

  • Establish lots of community vocation centres where youths can engage in skills acquisition and development. There should be real efforts to teach today and future’s skills, and not just basket weaving or palm tapping! The youths want to be competitive and relevant in the society.
  • Establish our own social security benefits scheme for unemployed and underemployed people. This would not necessarily create a sense of dependency on the government, rather showing government’s responsibility to the citizenry. The stipends will naturally take care of the pangs of hunger, but importantly it will free the mind towards creativity and entrepreneurship.
  • Sincerely extend loans to yearning small business idealists to start something. This should be driven down to the lowest level of the societal hierarchy. We can create functional advisory boards to guide this small business guys in setting up systems for business operations. With the experience of the Bangladeshi Grameen Bank, we know this type of scheme will work and that people will repay the loans – they are even more honourable than the corporate debtors other banks run after.
  • Create more security posts or police stations across the states to tackle the spate of crime. The officers, of course, need to be well trained and equipped to face the tasks. Our intelligence efforts are also concentrated around politicians and government properties, it’s high time an average citizen enjoyed the benefit of the State Security Services.

With these and some other measures, we may be able to relax the restrictive measures in our homes since many would be much productively engaged. We will free ourselves from living in prisons but rather as real free men.

Share your thoughts on measures you believe can fine tune our prison homes by dropping your comments.

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4 Reasons to Cheer and “Uncheer” Nigeria’s Power Plants Bids

Afam Power PlantThe recent announcement in the media made it known that bids were received and treated for some power plants in Nigeria (read the article here). The event on its own should naturally send wave of excitement through Nigerians who are understandably desirous of better power supply into their homes and factories. Reports of reception of the news are however mixed.

You will not blame Nigerians though for the exhibited ambivalence or even indifference to what should be a cheering news. At least, just over a decade ago, such type of bids were received for telecommunications service in the country, and the whole nation  is much better for that. However, subsequent attempts to privatize or open up other industries – Nigeria Airways/Air Nigeria, Ajaokuta Steel rolling, Fuel subsidy programme, etc – have rather been leaving bitter taste in the mouth of Nigerians not only due to the questionable process of bidding/awards but because hopes are constantly being dashed.

Hoping that there is some level of seriousness to see this round of bidding to fruition, there are actually some reasons to cheer the news:

  1. Power Availability: Since the ownership of the power plants and those of the distribution companies is private, with no more governmental subvention; the revenue drive becomes a must. Of course, without service, consumers PAY NOT. Therefore, respective companies are commercially forced to regularly to provide power. The act of energy provision actually means a lot for the economy.
  2. Job Creation: More like it occurred in the telecom space, the eventual total privatization of the power sector will necessarily create job openings to be expectedly filled by locales. It is also expected that there will be ancillary ventures which operations and survival will be directly underpinned by the deregulated power sector. Hint: there will be lot of requirement for guys with some expertise in electric billing software (operations and development), database development and administration, and of course accounting.
  3. Thriving Small Business Community: It is generally known that small businesses drive economies by providing niche directed products and services, and of course employing throng of job seekers. This sector has been largely moribund due to the crippling cost of power and its unavailability. You have all seen manufacturing outfits relocating to neighboring countries to take advantage of their better power situations. it is therefore expected that small businesses will spring up across the nation; the existing ones can also become more competitive (price wise) since operating costs will largely diminish. We should be seeing lot more of MADE IN NIGERIA things.
  4. Reduced/Eradicated Noise and Air Pollution: This will be a much welcome relief to many neighborhoods and households. The noise and air pollution from the ubiquitous generator sets have not only been killing, but have always been contributing to the decline in the health of many. The constant “jiggy-jiggy” of the generators coupled with their terrible carbon monoxide fumes should be things of the past. May be Nigerians will become healthier and hopefully, wealthier!

However, going by what we all know as the “Nigerian” factor, and government’s and corporate leaders’ insincerity, insensitivity and insensibility to the project Nigeria; people are grimacingly shaking their heads with some reasons to be uncheerful at the news of the bids:

  1. Capital Flight: There is that genuine concern from the masses that there is not going to be any control whatsoever over the coming companies with respect to the percentage of  their profit fit to be transferred back home to their source countries. There should necessarily be an impression on them to reinvest a sizable part of such profit here. We have heard billions of naira being flown across the Atlantic by multinationals in oil and telecoms; their excuse? We’ve paid our taxes! Have they?
  2. High Price: The fact that there are currently going to be few competitors in the power sector, it’s believed that their right to set energy prices (supposed to be influenced by demand/supply and cost of production) may be taken to the extreme with the masses the most hit. We all saw how it was in 2001 with the GSM service talking about the cost of acquisition of a SIM, a phone and of course service charges. Nigerians will expect the government to protect the masses in this regard. We will not mind to pay a fair price for the rendered service, but they should not take undue advantage of our situation.
  3. Jobs In Mirage: The expected benefit of job creation may actually be a mirage considering the fact Chinese companies are winning the bids or in partnerships with the winning bidders. Without being a xenophobe, we may rather see more influx of foreign workers taking up roles not even enough for Nigerians to handle in spite of skills availability. We may only take solace in the other perceived benefits however…….but truthfully there would be job creation and enhancement.
  4. Preferential Treatment of Certain Class: Even though this concern currently subsist with PHCN in that certain areas/neighborhoods enjoy more of the power supply than others for whatever reason; people are worrying that in the hands of the private companies, profit will be paramount. Will there be a just and equitable distribution of energy to all desiring homes and neighborhoods? Will they not shed load away from low income earners areas for the high ones and the industrial estates? You cannot be too sure what to expect.

The ‘uncheering’ concerns nevertheless, the bids are already creating buzzes around the power industry, and hopefully Nigeria will be better for it.

Share your insight on the power reforms and the benefits for Nigerians by dropping your comments below.

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