This is how far Nigeria must go to recover…

Economy 1

The German Karl Marx squarely nailed it when he theorized that the economy is the heartbeat of every nation. To drive down his point forcefully, he makes the economy analogous to the substructure of an edifice, which, as it were, bears the superstructure. Marx actually did call the economy substructure; it was too indispensible for him. The members of the superstructure, including religion, law, politics, etc., stand on the economy. If this is the case, and it is surely so, no meaningful engagement with any nation will overlook the theme of economy.

Nigeria’s economy has been on the red for a long time now. And this is despite her breathtaking endowment in human and natural resources. There are no jobs for the teeming youth population, the Naira-Dollar exchange rate is alarming, the pump price of petrol is too embarrassing for the current leadership of OPEC that she is, the rate of job loss is scary, and the import-export ratio is negative. To sum it all up, ailing is the word; all tales of Nigeria’s economy say it is an ailing one. And when people or things ail, we heal them; when problems crop up, we fix them. There has to be a way out.

Economy 2

What is the way forward? The simplest answer is diversification. The past many years have been much ado about diversification; successive Nigerian governments keep chorusing it. This way forward is simple because the first piece of advice one would readily give to a country that greases its economic wheel solely with oil, which has proven to be unreliable lately, is DIVERSIFY! The simplicity of this piece of advice also leans against the backdrop that Nigeria’s got enormous potentials in the areas of agriculture and solid mineral mining.

Why has meaningful diversification not happened? Simple: lip-service. Nigeria says she wants to diversify but does little or nothing to make it happen. Diversification is not a chance event, it is deliberate, it is purposive, and it calls for some concerted efforts. Diversification stems from the root word divert, and to divert is not just an action but one that entails the towing of a new direction, different from the status quo. These are indications of diversion to agriculture, for instance: the budget should reflect “agrocentricity,” a corporation that is larger than NNPC should be onboard, faculties of agriculture in all Nigerian universities should be tasked to revolutionary researches, senate committee on agriculture should be constituted, farmers should already start feeling the fresh air, the Land Use Act should be amended to reflect preference for agricultural usage. This can’t be exhaustive, but I’m insistent that meaningful diversification is more action-oriented than oratorical.

Secondly, it is high time the Nigerian-state got back to business. And this U-turn, if taken seriously, will be laughable at first. But everything good will follow soonest. The reason for its “laughability” leans against the backdrop that a certain Nigerian administration decided in favour of privatization, wherein practically almost every state-owned corporation was sold. How sincere can a marketing arrangement where the seller is also the buyer be? Yes, the men who sold in Nigeria’s name did the buying in their individual names. And so the likes of NITEL, Nigerian Airways, NICON, and tens of state-owned corporations vanished into thin air; they recently added NEPA. And the rationale behind this privatization exercise is embarrassing; they said government was a bad manager, and that private hands will do better at their management. What followed? Massive retrenchment of workers, underutilization of capacity; where is NITEL? In this regard, Nigeria must not only diversify but also play the mixed economy that she claims be, where both state and private hands jointly play in the field of producing goods, employing labour, and serving the citizenry. This is possible. How? Ask NIPOST that has long remained in the business of courier amidst competition with DHL, FedEx, etc. Ask NNPC that recently decided to get into the field of play with private oil players.

Nigeria must educate her citizenry differently. It is of utmost importance to sound this alarm bell: schooling is not education. This alarm bell is being sounded against the backdrop that education is identified with schooling in the Nigerian clime. And how is Nigeria paying for this error. Simple: thousand of unemployable graduates being churned out of her institutions of higher learning yearly. The goal of education is to see to a relatively permanent change in the behaviour, attitude, character, and preferences of a person through exposure to certain experiences. Education also goals to endow the learner with the requisite skills and capacity with which to function effectively as a member of the larger group, with a view to contributing their quota to both the maintenance and progress of society. School only comes in handy to see to the realization of these goals of education; school is not education. Truth be told, most Nigerian schools, especially the ones owned and managed by the state, are schools improperly called. Nigeria must do something about this – urgently! In countries where schools considerably deliver on educational ideals, the economy is run on the wheel of ideas and thorough researches from the ivory towers.


In conclusion, Nigeria must go back to the word economy. That word is of Greek origin, oikos and nomos; while oikos is household, nomos is management. In its etymological light, economy connotes household management. And that word was employed by Aristotle in his Economy to discuss the economic activities of the household. The point here is simple: Nigeria should always bear in mind that the macro-economy is an aggregation of the many micro-economies, especially as run by the family units. This understanding is important because formidable micro-economies will see to a formidable macro-economy, and this is no magic. A properly educated family, for instance, is an asset to the state, while the reverse is a liability. How? The educated family is gainfully employed, pays taxes, invests in infrastructure, stays healthy… The poorly or uneducated family is unemployed and cries out for all forms of aids.



Children’s Day: All I want to do is become a child again. And here’s why…


What is so special about childhood that Christ made it the gateway to the kingdom of heaven? This is what I mean: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (cf. Mark 10:15); “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (cf. Matthew 18:3). And why would he refer to his apostles as his little children, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you.” (cf. John 13:33)? In fact, at a point he said, “Allow the little children to come to me because such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (cf. Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16).

We may not fully understand why until we take a close look at the characteristics of childhood; many of them.

Characteristics of childhood

Fearlessness: To start with, children don’t even know what to fear; they just go on with their thing. Of course, they begin to acquire fear as they grow older.

Creativity: Children make all sorts of things: design their toys, build houses, draw things, act funny, play around cooking, say their mind, etc. They just keep trying things out. Of course, they begin to save face as they grow older; they begin to want to impress other people and begin to obsess about what other people think about them. Too bad.

Trust: Everyone knows that child-like trust is an enviable trait. Children trust, and truly trust. Their default programming is to assume that people are truthful, that people are trustworthy. And as they grow up and begin to experience lies, backstabbing and backbiting, they begin to lose the ability to trust, and may sometimes lose every bit of it, which is why some adults cannot trust even one bit.

Ignorance: There is that point where ignorance is a virtue. Socrates is reckoned as the wisest man in the philosophic circle not because of his enormous wisdom but because of his profound ignorance; he knew that he knew nothing and then went in search of knowledge. Childhood is the very quintessence and paragon of profound ignorance, because a child’s mind, for John Locke, is a blank slate upon which nothing has been written. A child continuously learns, and keeps learning. Then the child grows up into adulthood and thinks he’s now full of knowledge, and begins to assume and presume things, and begins to be truly stupid. The William Wilberforce character in Amazing Grace said it best: I grew up and became stupid.

Forgetfulness: Forgiveness goes with forgetfulness, which is why we say, forgive and forget. Children’s memory is such that it remembers all the vital things and forgets all the trivial things; they truly forgive. Two children that just fought 10 minutes ago can be found playing together again without any memory of the fighting episode. In contrast, adults remember all the trivial stuffs and forget all the vital stuffs. A duel between adults can extend to their third and fourth generations, as they’ll pass on the seed of enmity to their children.

Persistent: It’s a done deal if a child wants something. She gets it by any means necessary. Of course, she doesn’t mind shouting down the church service or depriving everyone in the house their night rest. She wants food, she gets food – because she would keep at it until it is so clear to every stakeholder that it is food or no deal. It is only as she grows up that she begins to understand that there is such word as disturbance in adults dictionary and begins to shrink when the word is directed to her a number of times. Jacob was only being a child of God when he persistently insisted that, I will never let you go unless you bless me.

Shameless: Aha! Does she even care she’s naked? And if she doesn’t care a thing about nakedness, what else could she be possibly ashamed of? Nothing. And then she grows up and begins to be ashamed of everything including the very shape of her only face. Too bad.

Playful: Oh, my God! Everything is play! Even their teacher knows that the lesson can only make sense when it is turned into play. You know the meaning of kindergarten? It’s German for Children’s garden, and I don’t know of another activity that should happen in the garden aside play. And then we grow up and stop playing; we become way too serious than necessary. We begin to tell lies like all play and no work makes Jack a mere toy. Thank God some people now understand that work becomes play when you make your passion your profession.

Innocence: Oh, holy innocence! Oh, pure breed of God! Little wonder children are used to depict angels. Darn too innocent! Need I say more?

My point

Inasmuch as we can’t become children again, we can at least reclaim these awesome characteristics that once belonged to us. It’s in us! We can become playful again. We can become persistent again; never taking no for an answer. We can trust God ‘childlikely’. We can become creative again. We can become fearless again. Et cetera. If you really don’t know how to do it, then make the nearest child your teacher; they can turn you into who they are.

Once my little nephew called on me to play a game with him, a game he probably invented himself. Guess what? He won me again and again and thoroughly laughed at me. It was truly fun; I laughed at myself too. But truth be told, he made me feel like a child again and I felt great as long as it lasted.

Again, I get a lot of compliments these days on my laughing and smiling. But almost nobody knows that I had to relearn that from the many babies – babies I mean – I meet every day. I do all I can to get them smile at me, and when they do, I smile back – and learn. I still do that every time I meet a baby anywhere.

9 to 15 strategies to survive this Nigerian hard time… (Part 2)


This is part 2! The previous post had Strategies 1 to 8.

9. Stay away from Dollars, Pounds and Euros as much as you can

Truth be told, the American Dollar, British Pound Sterling and the Euros have an embarrassing way of humbling the Nigerian Naira. Their respective current exchange rates says it all. And so, common sense demands that you stay away from them as much as you can. When you go online-shopping, for instance, an item tagged $50 or £30 is quite an amount when converted to Naira. If you ain’t making a foreign trip or speculating, why not steer clear bureau de change; why not let your domiciliary account be; why not make do with local online shops, the likes of Jumia, Konga, and OLX. As much as possible just stick to Naira, so that your money can truly count. At the end of the day, of what use is it paying more in Dollar what you can pay less in Nigeria? It just doesn’t make sense.


10. Stay away from imported products as much you can

This is difficult. Given that Nigeria is import dependent; next to everything in this clime is imported! But I insist: stay away from imported goods and services the much you can. Put differently, explore local options. For instance, instead of using the boutique, why not tough it out with your tailor; instead of buying Ford or Chrysler, why not buy “Innoson” or “KIA”? As long as this hard time lasts why not let antiques and other articles of ostentation be? Must it be Rolex, must it be Apple? Of course, you don’t need a prophet to lecture you on how both exchange rate and importers’ excessive is a cause for concern. Two ways forward: patronize local options or imported low-costs – from non-dollar and non-euro countries especially.

11. Eat smart while eating right

Some folks just eat and keep eating – all day! They eat the first round of breakfast at 7am, then eat round two by 11am, and then they’re having snacks by noon. And they’re off for lunch as soon as it clocks 2pm, and then again at 5pm. 7pm is supper, and then 10pm is yet another eating. Truth be told, and without mincing words, it all costs plenty of money – everyday! Of course, this is economic suicide; too off for this hard time!


12. Alcohol is as tricky as it is expensive

Alcohol is such a great marketer of itself. It just has this interesting way of seducing one into drunkenness and then keeps one drinking till one passes out! Aside this trickiness, alcohol is also pretty expensive; the higher the alcoholic content the more the price. And so, this really is a bad time for undisciplined alcoholic intake as it has the capacity of sucking one’s purse dry. Although a little alcohol is fine, the real problem lies with the definition of the word “little.” Is “little” one tot of whisky or one bottle of beer? Whatever “little” means to you, just don’t forget that alcohol is as tricky as it is expensive.

13. Make much lesser calls; astutely manage browser data

Certain stories should no longer be told over the phone, like furnishing a loved one with the full details of how one’s day went. That’s really turned into a luxury lately. If the day went fine, then fine! The rest of the gist could come later during a face-to-face chitchat. Yes, we get to pay for “airtime” never “ear-time.” The bottom-line is that making of calls should be regulated, and one way to do this is to cutoff recharging from one’s bank account. You can trust that it is pretty fun punching some codes on the phone to get airtime Vs buying recharge cards with cash. On the other hand, the browser data consumption of the average smart phone user is gone gaga! Online all the way! Asleep or awake, the browser data just keeps reading… It is time to put some checks to our browser data usage. Simply turn it off when not in use, and usage should be minimized.


14. Budget and scale to preference

The place of budgeting and ranking one’s needs and wants in order of priority is all-important at a time like this. For God’s sake, why should one spend more than he earns? It just doesn’t make sense. One not only has to cut his cloth according to his size but has to be pretty good at doing so. Of course, one shouldn’t just jump at things at the open market; a budget should dictate purchases. Yes, financial discipline is the word. In line with scaling to preference, certain things have just got to wait!

15. Work harder and smarter – earn more!

What is better than working really harder and smarter? Simply, the best antidote to this hard time is to earn more; make more money than you can spend. That’s it!


15 survival strategies for this Nigerian hard times… (Part 1)


Indeed, it’s squarely the case of surviving any way you can. And to say that times are hard here in Nigeria is to overlabour the obvious. From the hike in fuel pump price, the all-time high naira-dollar exchange rate, to the crazy cost of food items, Nigerians are dying for better times.

While we await better times, we can do the following to stay afloat, lest we sink beneath the waves of the turbulent Nigerian economy:

1. Realize that every Naira counts; accord money some respect!

What is N1,000,000 if not N1 x 1,000,000; N5 x 250,000; N10 x 100,000; N20 x 50,000; N50 x 20,000; N100 x 10,000; N200 x 5,000; N500 x 2,000; N1,000 x 1,000. The point here is that every Naira counts, and contributes to the big financial picture. One thing I love about those who’ve made money is their respect for money – not love of money. And so, handle that N10 with respect by insisting that the bus driver hands it over to you; I mean your ‘change’.

2. Beware of bank charges

You can be sure that both the central bank and commercial banks are struggling to survive the hard times too. And so they come up with this and that policy to get their hands deep into your pocket – Kobo by Kobo, Naira by Naira. You must resist them as much as you can. Watch those bank transfer charges, watch those SMS alerts, watch those ATM charges… Adopt strategies to beat the banks to their own game – on your account. It’s game time! Play to win. For instance, let the person asking you to make a transfer shoulder the bank transfer charges; N105 counts, remember. And try as much as you can to stick to your bank’s ATM.


3. Let drycleaners alone; do it yourself.

When you do the math, you’ll realize that drycleaning costs you a fortune every month. It’s really so much. Inasmuch as I’m not asking you to launder your suit and other special fabrics all by yourself, I’m saying you should be able to wash and iron a good part of your wardrobe and cut yourself that cost. Fact. Now, many people make recourse to the time argument, as to why doing their laundry by themselves is a challenge. But I know a certain bank manager who does it 4am to 5am – the drycleaner does his specials. It’s called financial intelligence.

4. Use public transport

Unfortunately, many have come to think that doing a public commute to and fro work is one of the symptoms of broke. This is laughable. It’s called cutting cost. I can understand that the Nigerian transport system is not as efficient and reliable as those of London and New York, but we can make do with it from time to time to cut cost. When I rode BRT in Lagos, I realized that one could really save time and money doing a public commute. Why not try…

5. “Cheaper by the dozen”

That’s the name of a movie actually – full of lessons on cost effectiveness. For me, the difference between buying 1 box of Irish Spring and 3 boxes together is N100, and N100 counts! Why not buy in dozens and save cost on the long-run. Buy next to everything you frequently use in dozens, and particularly from low-cost grocery stores. The secret behind Shoprite’s prices is that they buy directly from producers; they cut out middlemen. Leverage on that arrangement.

6. Trek! Trek!! Trek!!!

If your workplace is a walkable distance from home why not walk; if 80% of the congregation trek to church why not mingle. Must you drive? Of course, trekking saves both money and gets us exercising. Trek! Trek!! Trek!!! It’s called adaptation not symptom of broke. To visit a friend down the street, trek. To go shopping in a nearby market, trek.

7. Buy yourself a bicycle

This one is for those who can risk cycling. The fine thing about the bicycle is that it needs next to no form of fuel. Simply inflate the tires, jump atop it and peddle your way on. It cuts cost and not only burns but churns down calories.

8. Run the generator only 3 hours a day

In Nigeria, there is a sort of unofficial competition between neighbours with regards the running of generators; which is louder, and which will run longer. Funnily enough, that was in the old dispensation. In the new dispensation, where fuel has joined the league of articles of ostentation, 3 hours is just fine. In 3 hours, one can charge all chargeables, iron clothes, see a movie, cool a drink, etc. That is even PHCN fails. On a hot night, instead of running it all-night, why not simply take your bath, throw open the windows (while minding security and mosquitoes) and enjoy a noiseless sleeping atmosphere.


…watch out for Part II

While some people just pass on and fade away, some people simply live on forever. This is the difference…


While on national service in faraway Ondo State, Nigeria, I saw something that has kept me thinking about something. What I saw was this: a so-many-years-old grave was dug up to exhumed and transfer the bones of the deceased to another site. Why? Because the land that bore the grave had just been sold, and the buyer possibly didn’t think he should keep both the magnificent tombstone sitting atop the remains of the deceased that stood conspicuously on the newly acquired property. Or, perhaps the family decided to give him that much from the money realized from the sale of the land. Like I said earlier, this experience has left me thinking ever since then, even to the point of this writing. Why? Because whoever erected that tombstone, that magnificent tombstone, didn’t see this coming; there definitely won’t be another tombstone on the new burial site.

There is yet another story to the same effect. A king decided to erect a magnificent monument of himself in the village square. That monument was not just magnificent but imposing, awe-inspiring and resplendent. And he had erected this monument in the hope that generations yet unborn would remember that there once lived a great king. True to his thinking, for the 100 years that his statue stood atop the acres of the village square, successive generations learnt about such a great king that he was. On the 100&1th year, a Trunk A (federal) road plan ran across the square and right through the monument. Your guess is as good as mine; Julius Berger pulled it down without a second thought. And the memory of the late king went with it.

There is even yet another story. A certain politician reasoned that the best legacy was leave his bloodline rich forever. And he did attempt to do that; he bled the public coffers under his watch dry and stashed away mouthwatering figures in different foreign accounts. He didn’t stop there; he went on to buy pieces of choice property worth billions of dollars in next to all the ivy cities on the planet. Guess what? His second generation suffered from the problem of too much money = senselessness. And his very undoing was that the guy that signs the check in this particular generation fell in love with Las Vegas – the capital of gambling. Little by little, and like the odds were never in his favour, he burnt every single dime of that so much money and got the empire crashing down. And that was it! Nothing to remember the guy who chose to immortalize himself on cash.

True to these stories and many others that will ever remain untold, people have sought to leave a memory of themselves in the ‘wrongest’ of ways.

Realistically, we’re hardwired for legacy. There’s this way we go crazy about wanting to be remembered when we’re no more. And we equally know that nobody remembers us just for memory’s sake. No. We’re remembered for what we leave behind, and this is called LEGACY. It is for the reason of legacy that we can immortalize ourselves. From the preceding stories, we can already see, albeit wrong, the different ways in which people leave legacies – monuments and wealth.

On the flip side of it are those we can’t afford to forget, because they changed everything forever. For instance, as long as we say “July” and “August,” we’re remembering Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, both men of great legacies. As long as we write A.D. and B.C., we mention the name of the greatest man that ever lived – Jesus Christ. We remember Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Augustine, Aquinas, etc. because of their breathtaking contributions to the expansion of the frontiers of humanity’s knowledge-base. And their memory has been around with us like forever now.

What about Abraham Lincoln, Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte? What about Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Michael Faraday? What about William Shakespeare, Chinua Achebe and Cyprian Ekwensi? What about Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie? These men, and no offense to women, gave their very best to the betterment of humanity’s lot.


Seen thus, there are many ways to leave legacies, but some of them just don’t work. And, by this blog post, I wish to call to our mind the necessity of choosing our legacies carefully. Instead of erecting a monument, why not write a book? Instead of stashing money away in a Swiss bank account, why not donate a library to a university.

On the whole, the best way to leave a legacy has always been: