Search

Ken Etete

Sharing my thoughts on change and leadership

Problem Solving: A Hallmark for Business Success

Solved

“Problem solving is an accredited hallmark for business success; and the first step to successfully solve a problem is to develop a problem-solving mindset.”
Solving problems is part and parcel of all successful businesses. It is an essential skill in the workplace and personal situations.
Effective problem solving is all about using logic, creativity and imagination to make sense of your situation and come up with an intelligent solution. As it has been defined, problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc methods; in an orderly manner; of finding solutions to problem.
What is a problem? The Oxford Dictionary defines a problem as “A doubtful or difficult matter requiring a solution; something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with.” The crux is that, problem solving is the process of working through details to reach solutions to difficult or complex issues.
Most businesses fail as a result of poor problem solving skills. As a business owner, you can benefit from having problem solving skills because in business you will encounter problems on a daily basis. In fact, you must understand that there are always going to be problems to encounter. Some of these problems may be more severe or complex than others but it will be a thing of joy to have the ability to solve the problems efficiently and without much difficulty in a timely manner. One of the measures of business successes, is not a matter of whether you have a tough problem to solve, but whether you have the ability to solve the problem.
Problem solving is a process. The main goal of a good problem solving process is to make us and our businesses conflict-friendly and conflict-competent. There are two important concepts to bear in mind about problems. First of all, when problems occur, it is an opportunity to improve the business system or process. Secondly, problems provide us with information that we can use to fix what needs fixing and ultimately increase performance. When you encounter problems in business, what you need to do is think the problem through with the view to getting a solution in the long run.
Effective Problem Solving Process
Effective problem solving takes time and attention, more of the former than the latter. The approach is generally designed for problem solving in a business, but can be easily adapted at an individual level and life generally. Here are some steps to take in solving a complex problem. It must be understood that working through this process may not always be a rigid approach because you may have to cycle back to an earlier step to help get a clearer picture that will enable a deliberate move towards the desired solution. The problem solving processes are;
1. Identify the Problem – The first and most important phase of solving any problem is to be clear about what the problem is about. When you encounter a problem, the questions you should always ask are, what is the problem, the nature of the problem and how can the problem be best defined? This is in the bid to get a clear idea about the problem. Make sure you dwell here, fairly enough, to really get the details of the problem. This is because you don’t want to fit a square peg in a round hole.
2. Talk to Other People about the Problem – The main reason for talking to people about the problem is to help you see things from a different perspective and to open up potential solutions, even solutions you never perceived. An old adage says, “A problem shared is a problem half solved.” Put down your differences for a while and listen to people’s opinion with the intention to understand, it can get you to the desired solution or at least half way through it.
3. List the Possible Solutions (Options) – Allow room for creativity, innovative imagination and do some brainstorming. Start thinking about possible solutions to the problem. Write down whatever solutions or options that comes to mind. You can develop a mind mapping board.
4. Evaluate the Options – Look at the possible solutions and carefully analyze them by evaluating them and making sure it is with the view of selecting the preferred or most suitable solution. Make sure you creatively gather enough options.
5. Select an Option or Options – Review the selected option and act on it immediately you have resolved to use the solution.
6. Document the Agreement(s) – Document the outcome and ensure you have lessons learnt included in your documentation. Every detail of opinions and implications collected in the process should also be properly documented for possible future reference.
7. Agree on Contingencies, Monitoring & Evaluation – This involves reviewing the outcomes of the problem solving process over a period of time because conditions may change. This step also helps keep a check on or measure the success of the process. Make contingency agreements about foreseeable future circumstances by monitoring compliance and follow through where necessary. This process is typical of Monitoring & Evaluating and it is for the purpose of gaining a constructive feedback from people affected by any changes that occurred, if at all.
Developing and maintaining a problem solving mindset or skill can make a huge difference in your business and life in general. It will always give you a huge advantage over your competitors. Business success is as a result of constantly solving problems even as they get bigger. The maxim will then be that “The bigger the problems you encounter and able to solve, the more successful you tend to become”.
Your business success will depend on your ability to solve problems quickly. If you can step up with appropriate solutions to just about any problem you come upon, you stand a good chance of succeeding in your business, career and life in general.

 

…Before It Is Too Late

26814908_1977807965802676_3106474664655509549_n

Youth unemployment has remained on steady increase in the Niger Delta and it is a dangerous trend that can cause increase in crimes in the territory and Nigeria as a whole. I believe that driving youth entrepreneurship will certainly tackle the problem; it will increase creativity and innovation amongst the youth, produce economic renewal, job creation and help fuel the desired growth pattern in the Nigeria. Supporting young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses is very key if we have to positively impact the Niger Delta and environs.
Crime rate recorded so far, is on the increase due to youth unemployment. The jobless youths and matured adults have resorted to look for any means at their disposal to keep engaged including, blindly following corrupt leaders for less than “peanuts”-(considerations), smoking, pick pocketing-petty thieving, snatching of bags, prostituting, gambling, armed robbery, terrorizing residents and more.
For instance, the recent happening in Uvie Local Government Area in Delta State, is one to really bother about; In broad day light, in Orumaro area at Effurun, a group of jobless youths armed with weapons went about terrorizing residents, causing unrest in the community; miss using opportunity in time and resources, to steal from shops, market places, passers-by, transporters and in the process killed innocent souls. Greed, complete disrespect for humanity and existence, no value for life, increased use of substances is really affecting the young stars of today. This is ultimately distracting the level headed youths and causing a stampede on the development; in all its’ ramification; of the local community. There is an urgent need for this to be curbed before it is too late.
Another crisis that led to the killing of a Soldier and the bombing down of a whole community by the military, killing innocent civilians, destroying their houses and property, cannot be forgotten because it has left indelible marks in the hearts of the people.
What is urgently required today is to equip or train youths in a variety of skill acquisitions programs, Entrepreneurship programs, basic/intermediate programs in production and marketing. To equip them with these skills is to enable them produce quality products that can compete with market demand. This can be done in collaboration with institutions, partners and stakeholders.
The Nigerian youths; men and women alike; should have practical entrepreneurial skills that will enable them exploit their innate abilities in starting and running a successful business enterprise. The skills will enable them produce unique goods with unique designs that can compete favorably with counterpart products in Nigeria and globally. A huge number of youths can gain enough skills in quality production and marketing that will enable them produce high quality products matching international market standards. This will create self-reliant people, manufacturers and Industrialists in Nigeria as a whole. The management of small and medium enterprises will become clearer to them, ensuring the sustainability of their businesses to enhance socio-economic development will be appreciated, jobs will most certainly be created and income generation, in itself, will be respected.
The need to help build Soft Skills in youths through training cannot be overemphasized. Soft skills are associated with the Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) of any person. A person’s Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ) is a cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skills complement the hard skills. Hard Skills are the occupational requirements of a job and many other activities. Soft Skills are related to feelings, emotions, insights and an ‘inner knowing’ and all these provide an important complement to ‘hard skills’ and IQ. A person’s soft skill (EQ) is an integral part of their individual contribution to the success of an organization. Particularly those organizations dealing with customers (face-to-face). They are generally more successful, if they train their staff to use these skills. Screening or training for personal habits or traits such as dependability and conscientiousness can yield significant return on investment for an organization. For this reason, employers in addition to standard qualifications increasingly seek out soft skills. (Wikipedia definition).
Soft skills cannot be developed only by reading good books but also through very strong disciplined training and thorough regular practice of this trainings. Soft skills are purely of practical nature and they develop more and more with practice. Without these soft skills we cannot be disciplined in our personal and professional lives. The introduction and continuous training of soft skills will play a major role in building of a strong resourceful youth in Nigeria as a whole.

Leadership in Nation Building, Citizen and the Law

There is so much to be done at home, in the office and of course the nation, but we must first sit back and take stock before embarking on the task at hand.  Please Join me.

Ken Etete on TV

 

“Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Taps Ken Etete’s Century Group on Aje Field”

Written by Chika Amanze-Nwachuku.

Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum (YFP) have engaged indigenous oil services group, Century Energy Services Limited-CESL, raising the bar on Nigerian Content development in the streaming of Aje field, an offshore oil concession which brings Lagos State into the league of oil producing states in the country.

Industry analysts see this as “a remarkable milestone capable of rekindling the hope of the Agencies such as DPR , NAPIMS and NCDMB who have the responsibility of growing Nigerian Content to an ambitious level of about 50per cent by 2020 and re-invigorating the Nigerian -Can- Do -It spirit in the nation’s oil and gas industry.”

Company officials say “in deploying cost effective operation and maintenance services to the first oil field outside the Niger Delta region , CESL has shown proven competence and capability in offering fit-for-purpose solutions in strategic and technology driven areas such as engineering, fabrication and construction; marine and subsea services; pipeline system, pipeline leak/clamping; operation and maintenance.”

They continue “Consequently, Its age-long strategic partnership with YFP operators of the Aje field facilitated the development of this asset from a mere concept, twenty years ago; to full commercialization in May 2016.
With this positive development Aje field is the first oilfield outside the Niger Delta to produce commercial volumes of hydrocarbons, which has helped in no small measure to prove the prospectivity of other frontier basins in Nigeria.”

It is equally on records that Aje field is also the first and only oilfield in Nigeria where exploration and appraisal activities have been undertaken solely by indigenous Nigerian companies without the direct involvement of an international oil company (IOC).

Speaking on this positive development that has raised the bar on Nigeria content development, a Director in CESL- Chief Femi Akinmade (a former Director in ENI) said that he is delighted and it is indeed a dream come true to see the achievements recorded by YFP/partners and CESL in the deployment and management of an FPSO. He further stated that it is a clear confirmation that the Local Content Laws are being adhered to and is working. Years back, there was no chance for Africa, let alone Nigeria, to deploy and maintain an FPSO. YFP has brought this to bare and done us very proud and this validates CESL’s competence and capabilities as a wholly indigenous Oil and gas servicing company in the deployment, operations and maintenance of an FPSO. He said CESL will continue to deliver cost-effective operation and maintenance services on the Aje FPSO, in addition to providing further field development support and production optimization input on the asset.

Whilst the CESL Corporate Affairs Manager-Ms. Data Jaja also commended the management of YFP for their unwavering belief in the Nigerians Can-Do-It spirit by giving CESL the opportunity to be part of its success story and thus leading the vanguard of accelerated Nigerian Content Development drive in the nation’s Oil and Gas industry.
Again, the synergy between CESL and Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum, has inadvertently rekindled the hope of Nigeria’s journey to global recognition as an oil producer and not a rent seeker going by the number of her marginal fields that is coming on stream.

Aje field previously located in oil prospecting licence (OPL) 309 and now in oil mining lease (OML) 113, is an offshore oil and gas asset located in the frontier Benin-Dahomey basin, in water depth of about 300 feet, and 20 kilometers offshore Lagos.

The Aje wells (both completed in upper and lower Cenomanian reservoirs) are subsea wells tied back to a 40,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), 18 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) of gas and Floating Production Storage and Offtake (FPSO) vessel – the Front Puffin FPSO.

CESL provides Operation and Maintenance (O&M) for the Front Puffin FPSO, providing production operations management, facility maintenance and marine support services for the Aje field, which is operated by FASL- Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum.

Located in OML 113 (20 kilometres offshore Lagos), Aje field is an offshore oil and gas asset in the frontier of Benin-Dahomey basin in water depth of 300ft and commercial reserves of about 20 billion barrels.
The field was discovered in 1996 through exploratory drilling, 3D seismic acquisition and follow-on appraisal drilling spanning nearly two decades.

Aje field reached first oil in May 2016, when it commenced production of commercial volumes of oil and gas from two wells.

Century Group is a Multi -operational company with interest and expertise in the full value chain of the oil and gas industry and non-energy sector in Nigeria . The group operates seven main subsidiaries- Century Exploration and Production Limited, Century Ports and Terminals Limited, Century Real Estate and Logistics, Elmina Petroleum Limited and Global Manning Resources Limited.

Today, CG contributes about 10% of the national daily production i.e. about 200,000boe/ bpd through provision of technical support services four ( 4) FPSO,
Five swamp Area Flow Stations, 1 MOPU + FSO and Ten (10) Oil fields.

IDEAS TO IMPACT

AN ADAPTATION OF A PAPER DELIVERED BY MR KEN ETETE AT MIT SLOAN AFRICA INNOVATE CONFERENCE APRIL 8TH 2017 IN BOSTON

When I received the invitation to speak on the theme “Ideas to Impact”conditions for success, what readily came to my mind to share, was a collection of all the stories of my, still, very humble beginnings as an entrepreneur-  no of ‘business man’  that sound more appealing. It is a very interesting topic to discuss and there is no better time or place considering the potential of Young Africans that have gone to acquire knowledge every nook and cranny of the World. The opportunity to be a part of the conversation “ideas to impact” is a priceless one which I do not take for granted. What ideas are there to impact? We will move from the known to the known with the aim of developing an imbued generation.

Small Fish With Ambitions Of A Big SharkThis discourse, in relation to the theme- “ideas to impact”, will draw inferences from the African stage. However, let me start by giving you an insight to an article written by a South African that I read recently In a nut shell, the article talks about Africa being “Africa” and no matter how much we try to imbibe or infuse a culture that may be workable, they will always remain alien to us because of the way we are wired and the writer called it ‘the African Character- doing things the African Way’. The truth being that the idea of rule of law or accountability is not part of who we are, the idea of clapping for a President who has violated the country’s constitution- is because Africans have no idea of constitutionalism, the idea of not expecting much from politicians, the idea of having and claiming power for ourselves, friends and family members and the public or masses have no say, the idea of changing laws to protect the African ruler and many more instances. The writer was so pessimistic; he sounded like nothing good could come out of Africa. He further said that Africans need to come back to reality as though positive things are not a part of who we are. He depicted the African anti-corruption crusaders as bizarre, a position I agree with, Africa is a place where tribalism drives politics- another correct observation, Africa is a place where its’ leaders don’t like the idea of an educated populace because they say clever people are difficult to govern-the UNICEF report gives credence to this and highlighted that, accountability, political morality are alien to Africans. Ordinarily, my job is done here; I mean what else is there to say? Let me do a quick cerebral check to see what I can find Okay, here we go. What are the ideas to impact an enabling  business environment? We must deliberately begin to think of ideas that will create an enabling environment to foster businesses else- If I tell you all the tricks in the book about business- we will continue to hit a brick wall. The determination to reach our goal and change the African society despite the hurdles is an idea to impact.

career and growth concept

Africa is still enslaved. This is the major challenge we face in Africa. Our greatest set back in Africa is not the lack of capacity or business ideas as it were but of complete non-existence of a state of Law and order, let alone respect for it or its’ application. Why is this so?Africa has the symptoms of lack of  credible public legal Administration to keep society sane and the diagnosis is spot on. The only thing that differentiates a human from animals is understanding and subjection to Law and Order. So the truth of the matter is that no idea will thrive in a society where there is no direction, where there are no laws; it is- simply impossible! I can actually sit here and recount the chronicles of my humble beginnings and possible Business ideas but without an enabling environment it won’t work! How can anything work well in a society where the fundamental guiding principles that should help shape the environment are not adhered to?Law and justice concept

Yes the conditions for success in business are numerous and have the chance variable but; one must be in an environment that will foster progress for more ideation or solutions. In Africa, there are beautiful policies that are not adhered to. Our leaders violate the laws of the land without any form of remorse or shame. For as long as the rule of law is a myth, you can almost say the law does not exist. It will be difficult for me or anyone to stand here and impact ideas about conditions for success and have the audience go back to the same stage that has existed for years.- for “the  brick wall”. This reality is depressing, energy sapping and eventually culminates in the life style of “following the beat”. There is no transparency. We need ideas that will transform the society. These are the ideas I want us to talk about. Ideas that will help track down everything real time. Look at the success model of Google and Uber. They have broken every monopoly of information and transport services. Information is available to all, transport services is available to all anytime, anywhere. You need it- you call for it. You seek any information- you use the Google search engine. You don’t have to wait for anybody before you get information- all at your fingertips with Google.

So what are the ideas to break the African ordeal? We need to introduce ‘disruptive’ solutions;- solutions that will transform governance in Africa, solutions that can track the processes of justice administrations real time, technology that will eliminate the level of corruption seen in Africa amongst its’ leaders today. We need to pull Africans out of poverty. What then are the ideas to impact? So what we need are ideas that make impact and positive change that will shape our society and make it better, restore the real deal and curb the brain drain situation. It is on record that many Africans in the Diaspora are doing very well. These Africans need to repatriate the same level of expertise and creativity home. What are we afraid of? What is the problem or the concern? The continent is dying gradually and more people are leaving to populate “greener pastures” I will rather call it “watered pastures”- The good news is that in this technology driven world of ours,- the old fashioned Africa must give way for the new Africa to take centre stage and embrace technology. Technology should be allowed to penetrate the system. That’s the idea to impact.

Paper cut of family with house and car

We, as privileged young leaders, must come up with ideas that will allow the society to prosper and get every African out of poverty. Such that the government will jettison their old ways of doing things that has held the African Society back for so long and adapt to new behavioural systems.Ideas to impact- success have different meanings to different people. To me, success is that zone or ambiance we locate or occupy when we have broken the barrier that has stagnated Africa for such a long time. We need to open up ways that will eradicate completely every set back and open walls that will not deny the people their fundamental human rights, right to be productive, responsible and happy. We cannot continue to live in a chaotic world, we must introduce the calm and sanity. We are change agents- not to generate revenue for our selfish interests but to enable the leadership abandon archaic ways of thinking and doing things and embrace the new world order. No idea can survive in a pandemonium, in an environment where there is lack of fairness and equity. Shall we keep making the same mistakes- year in- year out? The wars and other issues that plague Africa can be avoided if we have a society that is fair to its people. Young African minds need to be driven by technological change and the laboratory must first be equipped. For as long as we have an environment that won’t synchronize with international best practices, these young brains that ought to help shape the society better will teleport to the grave without anything for posterity to be proud of. Let us seek ideas that will change governance, align with international best practices, respect for human rights, respect for life and property, credible elections. We need to be more transparent, more public interests-oriented. These are ideas to impact so that you and I can succeed in business and every other human endeavour; and not keep doing the same old things that have left us bankrupt in spirit and in revenue.

The Creative Brain

Ideas to impact- entails encouragement of meritocracy- The best brains and hands have to be projected and supported to run Public Administration for the good of all. We must aspire to revamp public institutions, address the causes of war and corruption and address maladministration of justice- A WHOLE VALUE CHANGE.The multi-ethnicity should be an advantage not a disadvantage. The idea to fight against every factor inimical to the growth and development of Africa is crucial; because the environment is very challenging. Unbelievable problems like – trying to incorporate a business entity takes forever, the educational system has lost its’ essence, the financial system is in disarray, transport system, human environment- absence of integrity a compromised, legal system, limited supply of basic amenities. Tell me- what keeps you awake at night? Look, when next we see down the hall way- please let me know what keeps you awake at night- because that may be the element that will drive the need to birth ideas about how to influence change and be a change catalyst.

 

FEDHA

It is amazing how little children respond to sounds, and the different emotions expressed through their eyes. In most cases where they can relate with it, it is a rhythmic movement of the body. We were all like that at one point in our lives. As we grew up, the sounds began to be less appealing and in some cases meaningless. The reason is not far- fetched, there is now so much noise and distraction in our lives as voices are lost in a sea of accents. The most recurring of these  sounds is the static buzz of MONEY.

shutterstock_435756871

The place of money in our lives is and will always be confusing as it is most times difficult to identify its essence. Is it of any value or is it just a metric for measuring value? A popular question in our everyday life is “how much?” In truth, that question is incomplete. It ought to be: how much value do you attach to the product or service? All societies have throughout history sought to create a valid and acceptable means of exchange. Make no mistake about it; it is not a fact in issue that money is of peculiar interest to all irrespective of age, gender, race, religion or creed. Even the Church through Pope Francis bore its mind on the concept of money on the 20th of September, 2013 during the morning mass at the Vatican Casa Santa Marta. According to the Clergy, “money sickens our minds, poisons our thoughts…it drives to idle words and pointless discussions……” Believe me; this discourse doesn’t belong to that class.

I totally agree with the Pope on that point, but then again I like several of you have discovered by experience and accident that the true essence of money is to coordinate the activities between free men. Coordination is attained through simple and effective communication, which gives birth to agreement, understanding and ultimately trust. As a matter of fact, money in itself is nothing. The premium that men place on it has nothing to do with the object itself but the confidence of its acceptability. According to Prof. Charles Fried, a Former Solicitor General of the United States of America, money be it the dollar bill or gold have little intrinsic value. It is valuable because of what it stands for. It stands for all the promises people have made in order to get their hands on it. Money is a catalyst for progress. It is a vehicle for socioeconomic advancement as it represents exchange and serves as a store for trust. One undisputed reality about money is that there is never enough to go round, hence the existence of class and our daily sprint to our different hustle turfs. There is no gain saying that the value of a country’s currency affects the stability of the government. This is because the government uses money to keep society safe and drive production. It comes at a cost which could be high or low depending on a zillion factors. It costs jobs, quality of products and life, relationships, peace and even faith in a system. Why? It is simple. There is a nexus between money and happiness.

shutterstock_433410415

Whatever the currency in your wallet or bank account, they are worthless pieces or representations that are cherished because we believe they are valuable. Money in Nigeria and several other countries in Africa and beyond is at risk of losing its ascribed power. The value of the Naira is dropping faster than I can say Hi! The reason for this sharp decline according to some experts is that there is poor future expectation on what the government will do. Prof. John Cochrane of the University of Chicago while talking about the value of money as a product of future expectations on what government will do said among other things that “what people think is going to happen in the future is what matters crucially to their decision about what they do today, how much to save, consume, invest, whether to start a business or not”. The ultimate solution is having a monetary policy founded on rules, laws, institutions and not discretion that enables and encourages productivity. The African case has seen so much discretion with great negative impact on the national economies. The poor are getting poorer and the middle class have gone into extinction. Yes the global economy is not doing so fine but then there are economies that are cashing out. With the plummeting price of oil, there seems to be no way out for the Nigerian economy other than through diversification; a song that now has uncountable covers.

shutterstock_410864584

The way forward for Nigeria and indeed Africa in these trying times is to have utmost regard for the supply and demand for money through sustainable wealth creation and strengthening of the legal systems. The Federal Government of Nigeria like many other national governments has monopoly of money both as bills and reserves. It is therefore in her best interest to protect the value of her money so that the power of the state behind the bill doesn’t disappear. There is dire need for consistency in the legal system to endear trust. Trust for the truth, trust for equality, trust for the existence of tomorrow not determined by anybody but the rule of law. The US Dollar and British Pounds are valuable for two simple reasons; there are strong and formidable laws backing them through a genuine production chain. It is high time Africa started placing laws that guarantee posterity a seat at the table of the unknowns.  Initiating policies that will stimulate wealth for the common man is only a line item. When you narrow it down, it entails taking steps to instill confidence in the people through genuine and workable incentives for common wealth that will inversely increase the value of our money.  There are a lot of things she can do to create this much sorted wealth and it all starts with a simple policy that puts the fate of all Nigerians in their own hands. Let me use the current power challenge as a case in point to illustrate a lasting solution that doubles a source of wealth creation. The government could come up with a policy that says “every household that generates 5KVA of solar power is entitled to 1 Million Naira per month”. Imagine how many million Nigerians will take you up on that. If you look at this policy closely, the money is really of no value. The ultimate price is the power which millions of Nigerians will begin to generate. One might ask how the government is going to hold up her end of the bargain? It is simple, she gets off takers that will sell these generated power to those that didn’t generate at all and other neighbouring communities that need more power e.g. industrial parks. This simple “produce and get paid” policy can be replicated across several sectors of the economy (e.g. agriculture and automobile) to stimulate production which is the spirit behind money.  This is a positive future expectation that will instill confidence and get people to take action not for the interest of the state but for their person as long as it is properly coordinated and effectively communicated.

                          shutterstock_433970899

 All stakeholders must realize that money/the Naira is not one of the items with which they can play politics and as such the appointment of the team of experts to maintain and promote the value of the Naira must also not be politicized. The Naira bill is the legal tender of the Nigerian state and not of any or all of the 170 million + Nigerians. Should Nigeria cease to exist, every Naira becomes valueless but the products and services retain their value. The Naira should be engineered to drive productivity to ensure that it continues to command value. A challenging but simple step to attaining this is to aggregate the entire production of the country. Statistics say that almost 70% of Nigerians are unemployed, meaning that only 30% are “productive”. So, if 50 million Nigerians can genuinely invest eight hours a day to harness our existing resources at a meager $2 per hour (if a Nigerian cannot produce $2 a day, then we are in serious trouble), what we get as ROI is $800 million per day which is far greater than the $100 million realized from the sale of 2 million Boe p/day at the luxurious price of $50 per barrel. Now imagine how this translates to elevate the value of the Naira as little or no external variable determines its worth.  Any policy that doesn’t pursue and promote productivity is an enemy of money (the Naira) and functions to demystify its value and power. Policies, programmes, solutions and institutions that encourage a genuinely verifiable and result oriented productivity driven society must be engraved in our socioeconomic and cultural tapestry through the legal system to ensure that every man gets what he is due based on the resources invested in any and every venture come rain or shine. Only then will the required trust on the relative certainty of the future reside in the hearts of the people and give value to whatever it is they call money.

A Sinking Ship

Nigeria reminds me so much about James Cameron’s 1998 movie “Titanic” with the mixture of fortunes and of course the hobnobs choice passengers had. She can indeed be likened to a ship which set sail some fifty five (55) nautical miles from her present location to a destination that is the dream of all passengers. Mind you it is not sugar candy mountain, neither is it Canaan. On board this vessel are people of different backgrounds- assassins, pilgrims, lovers, dreamers, spies; a really good cocktail of good, bad and ugly people and the sea littered with icebergs and pirates determined to plunder.

iStock_000064770627_Medium
“MV NIGERIA” has on board, passengers that have paddled canoes on streams and creeks, men that have rode bicycles and pushed wheelbarrows and therefore believe that they can captain this ship; unsurprisingly, the reoccurring decimal in this equation is mutiny. This tradition has underscored the need for purposeful leadership, transparency and unity which can be equated with bunkers, fresh water and of course food. Unfortunately, there is a short supply of these as evidenced by recent occurrences in the economy and the security of the nation -Res Ipsa Loquitur.
The depreciation of the value of the Naira, extreme poverty, skill gap and other challenges too numerous to mention are the holes through which this vessel is taking in water. Although the captain and others are screaming “May day! May day!!”, it is a bizarre and disappointing fact that there are lots of passengers (some crew members inclusive) who can do something and should be doing something to salvage the vessel but are not because as far as they are concerned, they have access to custom made life boats with which they will get to safety should “MV NIGERIA” sink. Life boats/ jackets in their dual citizenship and hard currencies, which they equate to terraces in heaven; hence they are trying to expedite the sinking. News Flash! Things don’t always go as planned. You can plan a picnic but you can’t predict the weather. We are all in this together, no one is really going anywhere plus, we all have something to lose – “Law of General Average”.

Steering wheel on the old map
To steer this ship aright, we need all able bodied men to the oars. This vessel is not a modern one, she isn’t digital although we wish she was. Good news is that she can be upgraded and she doesn’t lack able bodied men. The challenge however is that not all of them think or understand that they have vital roles to play in keeping MV NIGERIA afloat. We cannot afford watchers on the sidelines while our fortunes slip away. There are 170 million Passengers on board and counting, certainly overloaded and no doubt with lots of unnecessary luggage. The solution doesn’t lie in the coast guard “the West”, there is little they can do. The most they will do as they have always done is serve us foods we are not allowed to eat and show us the light we cannot see. The key to changing the tide is in the cargo hold- “unity”. There are a couple of things we must do in unison.
First we must be disciplined. We literally need to suppress our frivolous desires. It is described as the use of reason to determine the best course of action regardless of one’s desires. Discipline must be our defining character. Our actions and decisions must be confined to our rules, rules that reflect our history, culture and vision. It is important that we get this right because indiscipline is the root cause of the insanity and chaos we are experiencing. Discipline must be the wind that blows our sail.
Next we need a cultural change. Today, the global perception of Nigeria is that corruption is in her DNA. They may be right to think so considering the scintillating headlines they see; I would rather have them narrow it down to the root cause. The average Nigerian is afraid of “their tomorrow”. Why? It is not guaranteed! We need a cultural shift. Let the fear be for “our tomorrow”. Putting the country first through the policies we make in her best interest and not the interest of the Northern Deck that claim to be “born to rule” or the Western Deck that threatens to reconsider their membership of the Nigerian state over the abduction of their stalwart or the Southern Deck that has not allowed herself to be developed and blames every other deck but herself. Not policies to hunt the enemy of my friend or those that favour the enemy of my enemy. This is imperative because if Nigeria fails, no individual success will be worthwhile. What we need is love, dedication and commitment to the well-being of all Nigerians. When this becomes our culture, the mist before us will clear up and our destination will become more visible and attainable.

Old burlap. Background in vintage style
Finally, we must embrace homegrown solutions. I bet only a few have not heard the saying that “what you are looking for in Sokoto is in your shokoto”. Nigeria is endowed with so much material and human resources that are not being harnessed. The pointers suggest that there is a complex or lack of belief or confidence in what her citizens have to offer. When you look at the numbers, there are millions of Nigerians living in abject poverty. 70.8 per cent of the population lives on less than one dollar a day and 92.4 per cent on less than two dollars a day (Human Development Report, 2006). They do not need the luxury that drains the nation’s foreign reserves and puts pressure on the Naira. They need the basic things which are food, clothes, shelter and energy which are all abundant on board MV NIGERIA and of course some respect. We must embrace and promote home grown solutions to the monstrous challenges that we have. Put simply, we must industrialize; at least that is how “they” got to where they are as portrayed by Dr. Vannevar Bush when he said “The scene changes but the aspirations of men of good will persist”. The wealth to be generated and distributed is enormous and like the Jews, we must first circulate it in our system several times over before allowing it to seep out.
Candidly, the sinking can and should be averted but only if we re-calibrate and reconsider our mode of operation. This is the only vessel for which we have authentic tickets. The life boats and jackets that most passengers are hoping on cannot stand the current of the waters of our present word and there is no vacancy in any other vessel; if you doubt me, ask Donald Trump.

BINDING STRINGS: THE BAYELSA STORY.

Every now and then, we hear folktales and read books that aim to pass different life lessons. I recently read a portion of the bible that echoed through my senses and I thought it wise to share. In the book of MARK 3: 25, Jesus said “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Some other version reads: “If a family divides itself into groups which fight each other, that family will fall apart”. This scripture is older than time and has proven to be infallible through generations. That explains why Abraham Lincoln borrowed it on the 16th of June, 1858 during the Republican State Convention in Illinois. His speech addressed slavery which was a major issue at that point in time. Part of his speech reads: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure; permanently half slave or half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved- I do not expect the house to fall- but I expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other……”Unity
Those words have not lost credence in our present world. The importance of unity has never been more obvious; except you just woke up from a ten year coma. There have been a lot of changes and more are around the corner. The 2015 general elections in Nigeria underscored for the first time the role of opposition in Nigerian politics as offices were keenly contested; although their modus operandi is a discourse for another day. On the 5th of December, there will be a climax of something new to a people; the Ijaw people of the south-south. Bayelsa State was more or less a big family, and always a one party state, a fact which underscores their sense of loyalty; but for the first time in her recent history, this situation has changed. Their peaceful co-existence and sense of understanding is hanging by a thread because the current state of affairs is new and navigating these murky waters of opposition can be very tricky and most times leaves casualties in its wake.Life's inbalance.jpg
It is imperative for all stakeholders in the future of the state to sit back and think through the whole essence of the exercise scheduled to hold on Saturday, 5th December, 2015. I have a few ideas and candidly, I wasn’t in a trance when they came to me. This is the real deal; we all seek happiness in life and will go the whole nine yards to guarantee it. The great news is that we can do more than that; we can be happy as a people if we seek peace, pursue our common wealth and guarantee a future for our children’s children that will equip them to compete with their contemporaries anywhere, any day and anytime.
Long before the advent of modern government institutions like the executive, judiciary and legislature, societies lived in peace and harmony with the use of different structures for the best interest of the people. One of such structures that have survived generations is the traditional leadership institutions.
There is a popular African saying that “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. In truth, the grass in Bayelsa State is green and I must concede that elephants are never lacking. Fortunately, they have rarely fought; they have rather grazed as a family. For the first time, the survival of the ranch is not guaranteed because a battle is brewing and unlike George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, this is not the battle of the cowshed between the animals and the owners of the farm even though some would like to see it that way. As the D- day approaches, the gulf between the sides widens and the battle becomes even fiercer. It is difficult to anticipate the long term implications of what is happening, but it is easy to learn and emulate the gains of a conscious and united front as seen in cities and cultures we aspire to surpass.

Beautiful african woman with scarf
In all these, we must never lose sight of who we are. We don’t have to make the mistakes of some classical examples of division littered in the history books. The traditional leaders, fathers, elder statesmen, and “big brothers” of the state need to send the right message to all the players. The message is that we are one family with a common challenge and need which can be overcome and met when we remain united. This is a drama we are going to perform for posterity to watch so let’s write a beautiful script come December 5th, 2015 because truly a house that is divided against itself cannot stand.

OUR COMMON WEALTH

On the 3rd of September, 2015, it was reported by AfrAsia Bank and the New World Wealth that there are about 163,000 millionaires in Africa. Mind you, the currency of reference is the United States Dollar. This got me wondering about the number of African billionaires there are, so I visited my friend- Google who referred me to Wikipedia and Forbes to mention but a few. My enquiry revealed that Africa has twenty nine (29) billionaires, Asia boasts of five hundred and seventy eight (578) out of which two hundred and thirteen (213) are Chinese, Europe scores five hundred and eighty five (585). Central and Southern America  have eighty five (85), while the Oceania countries of Australia and New Zealand both churned out twenty seven (27) respectively. North America leads the pack with five hundred and ninety one (591) out of which five hundred and thirty six (536) are from the United States of America.

iStock_000065843959_Medium
How many billionaires did all these countries  have prior to 1900? One! John Davison Rockefeller who had about 90% monopoly of the American oil and gas business in the late 1800s. Today the Rockefeller name is engraved in the annals of history not because of the billions of dollars owned and controlled by the family but the lives that have been transformed because of the Rockefeller Foundation and most especially the Sherman’s Anti-Trust Act of 1890.
The law is arguably the reason behind the high number of wealthy people in the west. I think I am not the only one who believes that nations who fail are those that do not recognize the law as the common wealth of the people. Commonwealth in its true spirit and character is not the roads and infrastructures but the laws/policies that guarantee it. The law has always been a tool for social engineering, the challenge however is the fact that the product of this engineering has in many African nations not enhanced or improved the quality of life of her people. Generally, the law is supposed to collate the interest of the people and guarantee it because if everyone is to pursue their individual interest, we will be worse off. Therefore, the true function of the law is to serve as a vehicle for the even distribution of wealth as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 1890 and other people oriented policies did in America. Thanks to the objectivity of the American Congress, today there are five hundred and thirty five more billionaires and hundreds of thousands of millionaires creating more opportunities and ensuring that there is an equal/level playing field for her citizens.


The most essential commonwealth of modern civilization is the law. The reason is that an item can only become commonwealth by definition of law. As humans, we all have dreams and aspirations and there is doubtless anyone who doesn’t crave for the finer things of life. To attain them, we must protect the law. Now a number of you might say the laws in place do not reflect your thought or protect your interest. That is quite true. Whose fault is it? Yours! I will like to ask a few questions to drive home my point so please be patient with me. How many bills under consideration by the House of Assembly do you know? The few you do, can you relate with the rationale behind them? Okay, since judicial precedent is also a source of law, how many ratio decidendi of the judgements delivered by the judiciary are you conversant with and concur? Well, I am not just asking.
It is without doubt very important to focus on the quality of the law as well as its administration as our commonwealth than vain things. I say this because reading the news and recent occurrences in my immediate environment shows that people think our commonwealth is oil. Through the years, it has been resounded that one of our major challenges as a people is sustainability and several antidotes have been prescribed to put an end to the embarrassment without success despite the quality of human resource at our disposal. At any point in time you have the power to make law and go on to do so because of your projected short term gains, note however that disaster looms because on the long run, the law you manipulated will wait for you somewhere in the future to hurt you in the most devastating way. It is imperative for us to adopt the fourth habit as outlined by Stephen Covey in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by “Thinking Win-Win” whenever we have to enact laws.

iStock_000014192196_Medium
From all indications ranging from weak institutions to corrupt officials to several other ills bedeviling us as a people, the way forward to attaining a sustainable system is and has always been on the map. The disappointing truth is that we were traveling without a compass. Now we do, and that compass is simply making the law the essence of our commonwealth. The essence of this discourse is to draw our attention to the fact that nothing stays the same forever. There are only three constants in life as identified by Covey and they are: change, choices and principles. If we are going to climb the ladder of progress as a people, then we must take seriously our choices and principles; we must truly seek change and be ready to allow the law function in its true character. Remember that “the society is the product of the quality of people and the effectiveness of the legal system.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑