Christians, Suffering And Warfare

Posted December 24, 2014 by Ayodeji Jeremiah
Categories: Uncategorized

There is a growing attitude amonsgt Christians, especially preachers of the doctrine that Christians are not to experience any suffering and Christianity is a bed of roses. This doctrine says that if you are having any problems or challenges, then its because you have not prayed or fasted enough or you have sinned. I call it motivational Christianity. The Christianity of all is good, God is good, am a child of God and therefore I cannot or am not supposed to experience evil. Isaiah was sawed in 2. Peter was crucified upside down. John the beloved was boiled in a pot of oil. There was a mother who lost her 15 year old son only to Cancer only for her to have terminal Cancer 2 years later. Selywn Hughes, that great Welsh theologian and evangelist lost two of his sons within 10 months of each other. God was God when these things happened, He remains God and would always remain God.

F. F. Bruce (the British Biblical Scholar) says that Satan’s main activity is putting obstacles in the path of the people of God to prevent the will of God from being accomplished in and through them. If some people are obsessed by Satan they’re not doing anything; they’re paralyzed so he’s won. Other people who totally ignore Satan don’t even recognize what he’s doing, so they have no idea what’s happening. It never occurs to them that the enemy of the soul is having a field day.

Paul says that Satan is a very powerful force – so powerful that he was able to stop the Apostle Paul (who was like an evangelical juggernaut) from doing what he wanted to do. On the other hand, we have to recognise the Bible teaches that God is the sovereign Lord, that He is omnipotent, and that Satan is not all-powerful. Knowing but not all knowing. A very real presence but not omnipresent. Peter says that the Devil is like a roaring lion but this roaring lion is on a very short leash. Put all that together and you come up with one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith: that God in His sovereign purposes allows the enemy of souls and the enemy of His purposes to continue his work, but it is under divine permission. Powerful and permitted but real nevertheless.

Many Christians are defeated in their Christian lives because they are not seriously engaged in the warfare to which we are called. J. C. Ryle wrote, “The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity.” He went on to say that they go through the motions of attending religious services each week. Then he added, “But of the great spiritual warfare,–its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests,–of all this they appear to know nothing at all.”

Perhaps they came to Christ under a false “sales pitch.” They were told, “Jesus will solve your problems. He will give you peace and joy. He will give you a happy family life. Come to Jesus and enjoy all of these blessings and more. He promises you abundant life.” And so they signed up for what they thought would be a wonderful life of peace and happiness. All of those claims are true, but they’re only half of the picture. Jesus promised to give us abundant life (John 10:10), but He also said that He was sending us out as sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16). Jesus promised peace, but in the same breath He said that in this world we would have tribulation (John 16:33).

Politics in Nigeria – Between good governance, populism and instant gratification

Posted July 25, 2014 by Ayodeji Jeremiah
Categories: Uncategorized

By Ayodeji Jeremiah

nigeria-elections

In the aftermath of the Ekiti state governorship elections and the ouster of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the jury has gone to town to determine why he lost and what exactly happened. Prior to the elections, polls had shown a close run but it was largely expected that the incumbent governor would win. When the results came out, which were largely determined to have been free and fair by most election observers, questions arose.

 

Ekiti state was a stronghold of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and it was a foregone conclusion that an incumbent such as Kayode Fayemi with his reforms and performance would be rewarded by the voters come Election Day. It was a big win for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party that rules Nigeria at the federal level, which hitherto controlled none of Nigeria’s six south-western states and has been struggling with internal divisions; several PDP governors have defected to the opposition. By gaining a gubernatorial foothold in Ekiti the PDP’s chance of victory in next year’s presidential election looks brighter.

 

In the aftermath, several new terminologies have been invented to explain the win by Ayo Fayose, a former governor of the state who was once impeached following charges, albeit unproven, of embezzling public money. The Lagos state Governor, another reform minded governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola in an article on the elections called it “stomachstructure”; others have referred to it as “grassroots politics”. Another commentator called it “Danfo Driver politics” (with reference to the unruly behaviour of Lagos public bus drivers and their need for instant gratification). The Economist magazine of London called it “politics of the belly”.

 A man drops his voters card in a ballot

The Economist of London in its editorial said, “In dismissing a forward-thinker, the voters sent out a loud message. After coming to power in 2010, Mr Fayemi laid new roads, improved the university system, presented a plan to get more young people into jobs, created a social-security scheme for the elderly, and cut corrupt wage payments to government workers. But such reforms upset people with a vested interest in the old political system. Indeed, the election was a clash between appeals to good governance on the one hand and the lure of old-school clientelism and populism on the other. Despite Ekiti having a relatively well-educated electorate, the old ways prevailed. This does not bode well for political reform across the country.”

 

The statement that Ekiti state having a well educated electorate was expected to have re-elected Dr. Fayemi has been re-echoed in several quarters. The Ekiti governorship poll results highlight public resistance to political reform. The people are clearly saying they prefer the old “egunje politics”, which keeps them comfortably on the state payroll and hands out cash in return for their votes. It highlights just how much enlightenment the electorate needs.

 

The results of the Ekiti polls also highlight the lack of a political culture and the need to build one. In his article in the Daily Independent of Nigeria, ‘Madness of politics: Is political culture possible in Nigeria?’, Dr. Chuks Osuji commented that “in all Western democracies, political culture has been developed, and this moves the wheel of democracy. However, when it comes to Africa, particularly in Nigeria, one of the problems today is lack of political culture. Many scholars opine that our own political culture must evolve after all the seeming trials and errors, wobbling and fumbling period of political experiments. Others disagree, saying that given the complexities of our heterogeneous population with different social outlooks, tribal diversities and sometimes numerous ethnic incompatibilities may make it difficult, if not impossible, for the emergence of a political culture in this country to which all and sundry could subscribe. The root of the disconnect in our political system is the type of constitution imposed on the country by the military. The constitutional provisions are seriously flawed in many respects; hence it has remained difficult even for the Parliament to do something positive and meaningful, because they are seeing everything from the perspectives of quantum of selfishness and myopic tendencies.” This has trickled down from the leadership to the followership and the electorate.

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While Nigerians have always appreciated the importance of good governance, long years of military rule slowed development of democratic values and a culture of transparency and accountability in governance. Consequently, corruption pervaded all spheres of public and private life with serious implications for service delivery. Among those who track corruption, Nigeria is a poster child for the “resource curse.” According to the World Bank, some 80 percent of oil monies are accrued by 1 percent of the population. Under international and domestic pressure, the federal government has made efforts to combat corruption: In 2006, the federal government began publishing the monthly amounts it distributed to states and local government areas, and it has also established several anticorruption government agencies. But the ruling party conducts most of its anticorruption work behind closed doors. The most egregious graft happens at the state level. Governors “run their states like personal fiefs,” writes the Economist. These “big men” are not accountable to the general population because they receive most of their money from the central government, and when they run for

office, they rely on “godfathers,” or ethnic and political elites who sponsor candidates with the understanding that they will reap the financial benefits once the candidate takes office. Pervasive corruption at every level of government has fostered similar sentiments in the populace. For the Nigerian people, “democracy has become a kind of blackmail. They will take anything they can get.”

 

Surveys conducted by IFES (International Foundation for Electoral System) reveals that a majority of Nigerians think it is wrong for an ordinary person to sell a vote in return for goods or money. However, more than a third of the sampled population thinks it is understandable to do so. Furthermore, “most think it is wrong for political parties to offer money to people in return for their vote, but a third think it is understandable for them to do so. A quarter of Nigerian adults admit someone tried to offer them a reward or gift to vote for certain candidates in the election.” Today in Nigeria, money politics, vote buying, godfatherism and “share the money” are regular household phrases and slogans portraying moral decadence of politicians. These usages adequately describe rent-seeking behaviour of politicians, political parties and voters.

 

In Nigeria, among political gladiators, spectators and bystanders, politics is an entrepreneurial venture from which one can become rich overnight. That is why people have not stopped registering political parties when few others are merging; people struggling to become governors no matter what happens; all manner of people gearing up for political activities in 2015 which they see as the best opportunity to liberate themselves from the seeming enclave of impoverishment, hardship as well as social and economic deprivation.

 

Adding to these is the absence of any ideological train of thought amongst the various political parties present in the polity. A look at the various parties shows an array of dysfunctional actors coming together and riding on public sentiments of disapproval of the current leadership. Cross carpeting (defection as it is called) from one party to the next is the order of the day all based on what each person can gain from the party.

 

A blogger Mark Amaza in his post, ‘We Are Not Ready For Intellectual Politics’ opined that political debates are virtually absent in our politics. “Our politicians and political parties prefer to, at worst, engage in banal, empty statements that either criticize each other without providing alternatives or in vituperation. At best, they make promises without providing an action plan for achieving the promises. Less than nine months to the general elections, I am yet to hear any person intending to unseat the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan offer his or her alternative ideas to solving our current issues, such as the insurgency waged by the Boko Haram terrorist sect, or how to create jobs for our millions of unemployed young people. It is the same thing at the state levels and for the legislative races. One would have expected that robust debates would be ongoing on these issues so that Nigerians can compare and contrast and choose to back the candidate they feel offers the ideas.”

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Giving reasons as to why this is so, illiteracy and poverty top the list. 70% of Nigerians still live on less than $4 per day i.e. N650 on the average. Illiteracy rate still stands at a very high 30%. Of the literate 70%, more than half are educated only to primary and secondary school levels and only 51.1% of those eligible to vote can read and write. Intellectual debates and badly needed public sector reforms do not really count in winning votes. It does not really matter whether you propose the best ideas to solving problems because the impact of this factor in your winning elections is quite small. This will come especially as a rude shock to young Nigerians, particularly the ones that populate social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and analyze politicians and candidates based on their smarts – they are a very small percentage of the entire voting population. Outside of cities like Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja, Nigeria is still a country largely driven by government jobs and civil service contracts. The economy of most states is influenced by the amount of money spent by the state government and most state governments are the largest employers of labour in their various states. Most governments therefore rather than take on the gargantuan task of putting money into much needed infrastructure development and civil service reforms (that will free up recurrent expenditure needed for capital expenditure) and transform the civil service bureaucracy needed to get things moving will rather stick with the status quo, which in the process enables them to pilfer as much as possible while portraying them as ‘givers’ and being ‘sensitive’. It was widely said that Dr. Fayemi (and his Lagos state counterpart Mr. Fashola who has transformed Lagos) are ‘intellectuals, selfish, elitists who don’t know how to spend money and speak too much English’. Spending money in this sense means distributing the so called largesse of the national cake and government funds into the hands of the average Nigerian through trickles of gifts and cash donations. After all, ‘it’s not their money; it’s our money’ so the sayings go.       

 

Less than a month after the Ekiti state elections, the Edo state governor Adams Oshiomole (An ACN governor) recalled teachers who had been laid off for not having the necessary qualifications and who had been unable to pass the competency tests given them. We join the Punch editorial team in believing that this action was a direct response to the results of the polls in Ekiti. Unqualified teachers who have been told to take tests as part of Mr Fayemi’s education reforms probably voted against him. So did civil servants upset by his more meritocratic hiring practices. Such ‘educated’ teachers and civil servants therefore become very willing tools in the hands of so called populist politicians (who promise the status quo) in spreading such messages as in the above paragraph.     

 

Olutosin Ogunmola in his treatise, ‘The Challenges Of Democracy In Nigeria’ notes that the failure of democracy and economic development in Africa is due in large part to the scramble for wealth by predator elites who have dominated politics since independence and see the state as a source of personal wealth accumulation. “We have continued to have a ruling class that is grossly disinclined to ideas and the life of serious reflection. Military intervention in governance has further added more woes to the plight of democratic governance in Nigeria. Not only did it adversely affect the legislative component of government, it also brought the people, the electorate, down to a revoltingly unacceptable level of acquiescence to the undemocratic actions of their rulers. That’s why even now, some of the electorates would carry placards and demonstrate in favour of rulers who, apparently, are doing nothing for their good. Also, the lack of sophistication and independence by the press is not helping matters. There can be no meaningful representation to elevate the fundamental principles of checks and balances when we have a passive civil society and a weak press. This democracy has no plan other than one to serve the interest of the select few who want to continue to have their way at the expense of the collective will and interest of the people; with so much power concentrated in the executive, there are no strong institutions to curtail excesses.”

 

In our May 2014 cover feature, we stated that developing the middle class and lifting those at the bottom of the economic pyramid into lower middle class remains one of the solutions to sustaining and building democratic ideals and structures. The middle class in most African countries do not have the means (including votes and clout) to empower progressive groups into governance; most economic policies continue to favour the establishment and foreign interests except radical changes occur. A report says a third of Africans are now middle class. Their interests coincide with the interests of the poor and should help to bring about change. Think about the middle classes who voted with the poor for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president in Brazil, or the vibrant civil society of India that brings together the poor and middle-class activists (or possibly even the middle classes who are the protesters in the Middle East).

 

The Civil Society and Press in Nigeria clearly have their work cut out for them. While we wait and hope for the economic emancipation of the average Nigerian, enlightenment is also needed as to what constitutes good governance. The fight against corruption must be stepped up as Nigerians generally believe now that if our elected profiteers can gain away with anything, the only option is to try and take as much as they are being offered from them.

 

Our political system needs to be one of several coherent systems infused with a central value to it. This central value, i.e. shared orientations towards action, would define the type of role relationships, which can arise and allow the individual to develop stable expectations about the behaviour of others.

How We Failed the Lost Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram

Posted May 6, 2014 by Ayodeji Jeremiah
Categories: Uncategorized

TIME

Updated: May 5, 8:51 AM

In a speech on national television Sunday, almost three weeks after the girls were taken, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to rescue the missing schoolgirls and bring them home to their families. On Monday, a Boko Haram leader released a video claiming responsibility, saying “I abducted your girls” and “I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”

There’s nothing the media loves more than a good hunt. So for the past few months, news coverage has been dominated by the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the hunt for survivors on the South Korean ferry accident, even the hunt for the U.S.’s 2016 presidential candidates. But when Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped more than 276 Nigerian girls from their school on the night of April 14, Wolf Blitzer and his fancy graphics were nowhere to be found.

Eighteen days ago, the girls were…

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The African Crisis: Still Political Leadership

Posted July 5, 2013 by Ayodeji Jeremiah
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , ,

By Ituah Ighodalo and Ayodeji Jeremiah

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AFRICA – THE CRADLE OF CIVILISATION
Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent. With 1.07 billion people (as at 2012), it accounts for about 15% of the world’s human population. It has 54 fully recognized sovereign states (“countries”), 9 territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. Africa’s name is derived from an ancient area in modern day Tunisia known as Ifriqiya or ‘sunny place’. Africa is considered by many scientists to be the oldest inhabited territory on Earth, with the human species originating from the continent. Most of the available scientific evidence suggests Africa, and in particular the eastern and southern regions, is the cradle of humankind. “So far the evidence that we have in the world points to Africa as the Cradle of Humankind,” says George Abungu, Director-General of the National Museums of Kenya.

THE COLONISATION OF AFRICA
Pre-colonial Africa possessed perhaps as many as 10,000 different states and polities characterised by many different sorts of political organization and rule. The coming of the nineteenth century saw immense changes in Africa. Some were driven by famine and disease. Some changes were the result of the territorial ambitions of African rulers. As the century progressed, alliances with merchants and missionaries from Europe began increasingly to have a bearing on how African leaders achieved their goals with such in most cases being mercantile and exploitative in nature. At the beginning of that century, Europeans were still hugely ignorant of the continent.

The systematic colonisation of Africa, which gathered momentum in the 1880’s, was not even on the horizon in the first half of the 19th century. Europeans had confined themselves to trading mainly along the coast. Inland the trade in slaves and commodities was handled by African and Arab merchants. In the last two decades of the 19th century conflicts and rivalries in Europe began to affect people in Africa directly. In the 1880’s European powers divided Africa up amongst themselves without the consent of people living there, and with limited knowledge of the land they had taken.

The European imperial powers occupied most of the continent, creating many colonial territories, and leaving only two fully independent states: Ethiopia and Liberia. Egypt and Sudan were never formally incorporated into any European colonial empire; however, after the British occupation of 1882, Egypt was effectively under British administration until 1922.

The Berlin Conference held in 1884–85 was an important event in the political future of African ethnic groups. Convened by King Leopold II of Belgium, and attended by the European powers that laid claim to African territories, it sought to bring an end to the scramble for Africa by European powers by agreeing on political division and spheres of influence. The conference set up the political divisions of the continent, by spheres of interest that exist till today.

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THE AFRICAN CRISIS
Although it has abundant natural resources, Africa remains the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped continent. Africa has a large quantity of natural resources including oil, diamonds, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, and petroleum. Agricultural resources also abound including cocoa, oil palm, coffee, rubber, groundnuts, timber and tea. Much of its natural resources are undiscovered or barely harnessed.

Since independence, most African governments have not been able to transfer their national wealth into meaningful developmental activities in the life of their citizens.
• 80.5% of the Sub-Saharan Africa population is living on less than $2.50 (PPP) a day.
• As at 2010, literacy rate in Africa is 63% with most of the gains being made over the past 15 years.
• As at 2009, 31 countries reported child mortality rates of at least 10%. All of these countries were in Africa except Afghanistan.
• The WHO states that only 16% of people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to drinking water through a household connection (an indoor tap or a tap in the yard).
• According to a World Bank report published in 2012, the Life expectancy at birth; total (years) in Sub Saharan Africa was last reported at 54.17 in 2010 compared to a an average global figure of 70.
• Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy put the present unemployment rate in Africa at 60%.

Every year, the United Nations releases a report called the Human Development Index. The report is the outcome of studies conducted by different arms of the world body using different indices to measure a country’s well being. It is like a Doctor’s report after a general check-up. 187 countries were included in the 2013 study released in March. Indicators used to arrive at each country’s position include life expectancy, educational enrolment, adult literacy, health care delivery and income per person amongst others. All the countries with low development rankings are African countries (the bottom 25 nations). The average HDI value of 0.475 is the lowest of any region. Some of the things common in all of these countries include civil war, HIV/AIDS, coups and counter coups, drought and famine, landmine problems, ethnic conflicts, tyrannical political leadership and huge debts crisis. According to the United Nations Development report, African countries may not be able to conquer poverty until the year 2165. It is that bleak.

The Paradox of Africa: The Equatorial Guinea Example
Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Sahara’s largest oil producers. With a population of 650,702, it is the richest country per capita in Africa, and its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranks 69th in the world; however, the wealth is distributed very unevenly and few people have benefited from the oil riches. The country ranks 136th on the UN’s 2011 Human Development Index out of a total 187. The UN says that less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water and that 20% of children die before reaching five. This is the paradox in which Africa has found itself. African nations are the richest in terms of natural resources but its people continue to live in abject poverty.

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THE PROBLEMS
1. The Resource Curse Paradox: The term resource curse was first used by Richard Auty in 1993 to describe how countries rich in natural resources were unable to use that wealth to boost their economies and how, counter-intuitively, these countries had lower economic growth than countries without an abundance of natural resources. From 1965 to 1998, in the OPEC countries, gross national product per capita growth decreased on average by 1.3%, while in the rest of the developing world, per capita growth was on average 2.2%.

The negative effects and causes of resource curse include:
• Internal conflicts (the Niger Delta debacle);
• Taxation: In many economies that are not resource-dependent, governments tax citizens, who demand efficient and responsive government in return. This bargain establishes a political relationship between rulers and subjects. In countries whose economies are dominated by natural resources, however, rulers don’t need to tax their citizens because they have a guaranteed source of income from natural resources
• Dutch disease is an economic phenomenon in which the revenues from natural resource exports damage a nation’s productive economic sectors by causing an increase of the real exchange rate and wage increase. This makes tradable sectors, notably agriculture and manufacturing, less competitive in world markets
• Corruption: In resource-rich countries, it is often easier to maintain authority through allocating resources to favoured constituents than through growth-oriented economic policies and a level, well-regulated playing field. Huge flows of money from natural resources fuel this political corruption.
• Monolithic Economies: Economic diversification may be neglected by authorities or delayed in the light of the temporary high profitability of the limited natural resources. The attempts at diversification that do occur are often grand public works projects which may be misguided or mismanaged.
• Excessive Borrowing: Since governments expect more income in the future, they start accumulating debt, even though they are receiving natural resource revenues as well. This is encouraged, since, if the real exchange rate increases, through capital inflows or the Dutch disease, this makes the interest payments on the debt cheaper

Kofi Annan said in the recent Africa Progress Panel report ‘Equity in the Extractives’, that while natural resource booms across the continent had led to rocketing GDP figures, inequalities had in many cases deepened, warning, “a decade of highly impressive growth has not brought comparable improvements in health, education and nutrition.” He added that combating international tax avoidance and evasion, corruption and weak governance are crucial if Africa’s people are to benefit from the continent’s vast natural resource wealth.

2. Infrastructure: Africa’s share of global manufacturing is drastically disproportionate to its population. While 15 percent of the world’s population lives in Africa, only about one percent of global manufacturing takes place there. That is largely due to poor transport, communications and energy infrastructures. Power is Africa’s biggest infrastructure weak point, with as many as 30 countries facing regular power outages, according to a 2010 report by the World Bank and France’s development agency. Companies operating in most African countries where power supply is unreliable have resorted to purchasing diesel-operated power generators, which increases operating costs drastically. High energy costs combined with other infrastructure deficits, such as rail and road problems, have lowered productivity rates at African companies by as much as 40 percent, according to UN estimates. According to the World Bank, it is estimated that the continent requires about $100 billion annually for the next decade. Some estimates put the budget for Nigeria alone at $15 billion per year. President Goodluck Jonathan who spoke last month at the Infrastructure Summit of the World Economic Forum in South Africa, described infrastructure as a major challenge facing the African continent. He said for Africa to effectively tackle the various challenges bedevilling the continent, it must build the necessary infrastructure across transport, communication and energy sectors.

3. Underdevelopment: A renowned Christian leader, Dr. Mensah Otabil mentioned in 2006 that just before the beginning of the 21st century, an analysis of the state of the world done by CNN and talking about development gaps between nations used the USA as the pinnacle and how long it will take other nations to catch up with them. The analysis said that Africa was on the same level with the West 100 years ago. Today, though Africa is chronologically on the same level with the West; developmentally we are still 100 years behind. It means that while the rest of the world seems to be making progress; we seem to be actually retrogressing in terms of the qualities of life.

4. Hunger & Food Insecurity: Most African states have turned to the exploitation of their natural resources with borrowed money and ideas from the West. And since they have very little to export save their rare minerals or petroleum, Africans continue the colonial tradition of cash cropping. However, cash crops for export take more and more of the best land from local food production, forcing peasants to bring additional marginal land under cultivation. A highlight of the MDG Report for 2013 shows that food insecurity is a recurring challenge.

Other problems abound:
• Weak Institutions
• Insecurity & Internal Conflicts
• Poor Healthcare Delivery System
• Poor Quality of Education

Africa is still very much dependent on the World Bank, the IMF, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Our dreams at independence have all been truncated.

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THE CAUSES
1. Deliberate Exploitation: Having a low human density, for a long period of time Africa has been colonized by more dynamic groups, exploiting African resources. Some economists have talked about the ‘scourge of raw materials’, large quantities of rare raw materials putting Africa under heavy pressures and tensions, leading to wars and slow development. Despite these abundance of natural resources, claims suggest that many Western nations like the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom as well as emerging economic powerhouses like China often exploit Africa’s natural resources today, causing most of the value and money from the natural resources to go to the West rather than Africa, further causing the poverty in Africa.

The coming of the colonialists added a new dimension of dependency to the pre-colonial societal problems of Africa. They set up a system that made us depend on them and to make us feel we are inferior and they are better than us. In a paper titled Neo-Imperialism and the Arrogance of Ignorance by Chuck Spinney in TIME magazine, he said many of the ethnic and tribal tensions in Africa, are in part a legacy of artificial borders created by the European interventionists of the 19th century. These interventionists deliberately designed borders to mix up tribal, ethnic, and religious groups to facilitate “divide and rule” colonial policies. They often deliberately exacerbated local animosities by placing incompetent and incapable people in politically and economically advantageous positions, thereby creating incentives for payback in the future. Warring tribes were often “placed” in the same nation while other tribes were split by these artificial boundaries. Also, colonizers placed certain tribes in positions of power, which has caused uprisings in areas such as Rwanda and Nigeria. For centuries, Africa has been integrated into the world economy mainly as a supplier of cheap labour and raw materials. Of necessity, this has meant the draining of Africa’s resources rather than their use for the continent’s development. The drive in that period to use the minerals and raw materials to develop manufacturing industries and a highly skilled labour force to sustain growth and development was lost. The impoverishment of the African continent was further accentuated during the Cold War when the two super powers, US and USSR propped up authoritarian regimes with weapons and aid. Several legitimate governments were toppled between the 60s and the 90s and replaced with inept and morally bankrupt rulers willing to do the bidding of the Western powers.

Nothing illustrates the policy of deliberate exploitation more than the following quote by P.W. Botha, the former hard-line apartheid president of South Africa:
“The fact that Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings. If God wanted us to be equal to the Blacks, he would have created us all of a uniform colour and intellect. But he created us differently: Whites, Blacks, Yellow, Rulers and the ruled. Intellectually, we are superior to the Blacks; that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt over the years. Most Blacks are vulnerable to money inducements. The old trick of divide and rule is still very valid today. Our experts should work day and night to set the Black man against his fellowman. His inferior sense of morals can be exploited beautifully. And here is a creature that lacks foresight. There is a need for us to combat him in long term projections that he cannot suspect. The average Black does not plan his life beyond a year: that stance, for example, should be exploited.”

2. Post Independence Instability & Poor Political Leadership: Great instability ensued soon after independence, leading to coups and counter coups and civil wars, most of which were as a result of the marginalisation of ethnic groups, which on its own was caused by the divide and rule tactics of the colonial masters, which was carried over by the early independent rulers. Another cause was graft under most of these post colonial leaders most of whom simply replaced the colonial administrators who were leaving. Since independence, most African states have frequently been hampered by instability, corruption, violence, authoritarianism, poverty, diseases, hunger, and malnutrition.

Between the 1960s to the late 1980s, Africa had more than 70 coups and 13 presidential assassinations. It was widely believed that the military was the only group that could effectively maintain order and it ruled many nations in Africa during the 1970s and early 1990s. However, whether military or civilian, parliamentary or presidential, Africa has not been able to stem the decline or get it right in terms of leadership.

In a paper by Robert I. Rotberg, (Professor of Governance and Foreign Affairs, former Director at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and former President World Peace Foundation), he noted that there is a demonstrated link among poor governance, poverty, and nation-state failure that makes strengthening the quality of governance in the developing world an urgent task. “In weak, troubled states, there is a strong likelihood that an excess of grievances will offer fertile ground for the nurturing of terrorism. Thus, improving the governance capabilities and effectiveness of developing countries is crucial not only to fostering their economic development, but also to reducing the potential for local and global conflict”.

3. Lack of Strong Political Will: The supposed lack of political will on the part of African heads of state to support and implement most development and reform programmes is a challenge to fast tracking of its growth and development. Though often invoked as a concept, political will refers to the desire and determination of political actors to introduce as well as embark on reforms that will bring significant and persistent changes in the society. It is difficult if not impossible to divorce political will from sustainable development. In Nigeria for example, power sector and civil service reforms have been stalled or moving at a slow pace in the past several years due to a lack of political will of the government in doing the right thing. The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), the non-political private sector-led economic think-tank and advocacy group representing key sectors of the economy, held its 18th economic summit in December 2012 and pointed out in its report that the current cost and size of government was not sustainable at all three tiers and levels stating that the imbalance between recurrent and capital expenditure is a drag on economic growth and does not create jobs, and recommended fast-tracking the implementation of the Steve Oronsanye Report. The Steve Oronsanye report had recommended the scrapping of several government agencies and parastatals and the merging of several others. The report itself has been buried under bureaucratic red tape and political wrangling due to its political incorrectness.

The political commitment of most governments today still hovers around the same mantra-exploit the little you have today for the brief time you have it, because that is the only way you can feed yourself and your family today. Tomorrow, the next generation must look after themselves.

Lack of political will can:
• Stop the flow of capital investment
• Kill industries and drain financial institutions.
• Hinder the development of rural areas that have the potential to become cities.
• Tighten reforms and waste resources.
• Frustrate the ability of societies to cope with the challenges of the future.
• Provoke civil strife and, at the extreme end, genocides.
• Make it difficult to envisage democratization

4. Greed & Corruption: A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the amount of stolen funds from the Nigerian treasury stands at $600 billion between 1960 and 1999. Mobutu Sese Seko, was President of Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville), which Mobutu renamed Zaire in 1971, from 1965 to 1997. According to the most conservative estimates, he stole $4–5 billion. Forbes magazine ranks Obiang Nguema Mbasogo as one of the wealthiest heads of state, with a net worth of $600 million. He has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 when He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup.

Speaking at Transparency International’s (TI) Annual Anti-Corruption Lecture, John Githongo, Kenya’s former anti-corruption tsar, spoke with cautious optimism. On the one hand, he proclaimed: “Today we are witnessing a unique convergence of potentially positive developments in the fight against corruption – one that has not existed since the end of the Cold War”. Yet at the same time he also emphasised that we are still facing “the continuing reality of systemised corruption”.

According to the Africa Progress panel’s 2013 African Progress report at the World Economic Forum on Africa that took place in Cape Town, the continent is losing more through illicit financial outflows than it receives in aid and foreign direct investment. Western companies have been severely indicted in bribe paying, falsifying corporate books and corruption in order to win contracts in several African countries. Corruption is such that such western companies are on the lesser-examined supply side of bribes while African governments are on the demand side.

In Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index of 2012, 90% of African countries scored below 50, (0 being “highly corrupt”, and 100 representing a lack of corruption.

5. Illiteracy and Ignorance
38% of African adults (over 300 million) are illiterate; two-thirds of these are women. Africa is the only continent where more than half of parents are not able to help their children with homework due to illiteracy. Adult literacy rates are below 50% in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Only 1 % of national education budget of most African governments is earmarked to address the issue of literacy.

“Education is the most wonderful weapon which you can use to change the world”
– Nelson Mandela

In a treatise written by the former governor-general of Nigeria, Lord Frederick John Lugard, he said and I quote:
“In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person. Lacking in self control, discipline, and foresight. Naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery. His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future, or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the State he has reached. Through the ages the African appears to have evolved no organized religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural. “He lacks the power of organization, and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business. He loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility , he will work hard with a less incentive than most races. He has the courage of the fighting animal, an instinct rather than a moral virtue, In brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy, Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his lack of ability to visualize the future.”

The above quote by the British colonialist represents his appraisal of the African. While it seems over generalised, the characterizations are grave and unflattering. Nevertheless, unless we do not want to be honest with ourselves, it is much closer home to the truth than we may want to agree. In the light of our progress (or lack of it) in the last 60 years since the independence of most African countries, our fathers and grandfathers may be forgiven for that portrayal but for us present generation not to have moved beyond that perception is damning to say the least.

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THE WAY FORWARD
Africa needs a new group of leaders and thinkers (The Singapore Experience) – philosopher-kings if you may as Plato described in his dialogue, The Republic, like Marcus Aurelius of ancient Rome who will:

(1) Engender a new mindset: To really solve our problems in Africa goes beyond just going to school. I have seen some people who are well educated with strings of degrees and have several alphabets after their names behave in the most primitive manner. This is because they learnt new knowledge on top of old assumptions such that their assumptions never change. And that is the most dangerous person because he has an intellectual defence for the indefensible. He tries to use his mind and makes his old assumptions very intellectual. That level of intellectualism which we find a lot in our continent is extremely harmful to our development. We have not been able to change and challenge our assumptions. Europe was able to move forward because they were able to challenge their old assumptions through the renaissance and reformation.

(2) Re-orientate and Educate the Citizenry: A man that limits his thoughts to himself might be rich in resources like the prodigal son but poor in intellect. And if a man is poor in intellect, it would eventually reflect in his wellbeing and that’s why a lot of formerly rich people die extremely poor especially in this part of the world. How are you still thinking and what are you thinking about? What is the total summation and the collection of your thoughts? Are you lacking in self control? Are you wanting in discipline? Are you lacking in foresight? Are you full of personal vanity? Do you have little sense for veracity? Are you fond of excessive music? Are your thoughts concentrated on the events and the feelings of the moment? Are you suffering from little apprehension of the future or grief of the past? Are you lacking in organization, deficient in management, deficient in the control of man and resources. Africans need to be generally enlightened.

(3) Protect Current Democracies: While multi-party elections and democracy are welcome in Africa, certain fundamentals, which have been largely ignored, have to be put in place. Strong democratic institutions such as the judiciary and the media have to be put in place or strengthened in most African countries.

(4) Challenge Weak Leadership & Act as a Pressure Point and Voice of Reasoning: We must be ready and willing to change and we must see the change. There must be a willingness to leave the past and move into the future. Change cannot happen if the people are stuck in a time warp unwilling to move forward. This is where vision comes in. We need people who can communicate that change to others. Myles Munroe said “you can only lead people to the degree of the future that you have gone yourself. The act of leadership is taking people from where they are to where they have never been before. The result of true leadership is discomfort and change. The most important source of leadership is vision.” The change we yearn for must be something that can be easily communicated to others. Historically, the world has not seen a well-developed economy without a corresponding strong government. In addition to easy access to education, healthcare, and natural resources, a strong government that can balance its own power by virtue of the bureaucratic structure of itself is essential.

(5) Develop a New Set of Leaders based on New Values: This will done through
• Identifying the appropriate value system
• Identifying a new set of leaders based on this value system
• Teach and encourage this next generation of leaders
In a paper by Stephen Asek in The Panorama, he writes that “The missing ingredient in development policies in Africa is sustainability. And who are those to take responsibility to ensure this? The leaders. When the leaders are bad and narrow-minded, policies will be poorly made and loans will be defectively managed, as was the case in Zaire under the dictatorship of Mobutu. When the leaders have no genuine political desire to equally distribute socio –economic and political advantages, they create artificial difficulties in the lives of the population. Political will that is selfish, egocentric, myopic parochial and careless of the feelings and future of others is a serious antithesis to any fundamental initiative towards sustainable development.”

(6) Resource Mobilisation: The resources, including capital, technology and human skills, that are required to launch a global war on poverty and underdevelopment exist in abundance and are within our reach. What is required to mobilise these resources and to use them properly, is bold and imaginative leadership that is genuinely committed to a sustained human development effort and the eradication of poverty, as well as a new global partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual interest.

(7) Eradicate Greed, Poverty and Corruption: There must be a zero level tolerance for corruption

(8) Strengthen the Judiciary, Putting in Place the Appropriate Rules & Policies & Following the Rule of Law: Arguments are made that maybe democracy is alien to Africa. The tenets of democracy are universal: freedom of speech, free enterprise, rule of law, strong institutions. A bad democratic government that is accountable to the people is better than a benevolent dictatorship that does whatever it likes. The operative word here is ‘accountable to the people.’ That is what democracy and good governance is all about. It doesn’t matter what system of government is being operated, a good government, a strong democracy must be able to deliver measurable, quantifiable returns to the people and bring out the best in people.

(9) The Role of Technology: At the public presentation of Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka’s latest book, Harmattan Haze, Professor Pat Utomi in his contributions as a discussant at the event noted that Africa has the opportunity to fast track her development through the use of technology especially with the high internet usage and telecoms density in countries such as South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria. Despite past failures, Nigeria and other African countries can leap frog their development through technology transfer and reliance on intellectual power and the development of a literate citizenry.

(10) Eradicate Evil: We must do away with all evil thinking with a firm belief, faith and trust in God and God alone.

CONCLUSION
Politicians and policy makers have to understand that every decision they make has systemic repercussion. There will always be consequences, negative ones of course, when policies are made to disadvantage the society. Developing societies, particularly within Africa, can benefit from a change in attitudes – what Africa needs for its development are true sons and daughters: people who see themselves as Africa itself and not as passive citizens of Africa. The hopes of the continent are not the loans and debt cancellation schemes of advanced nations that the leaders are scrambling for.

Africa’s hope is that someday Africans will harness their God given material and human resources with all sincerity and like-mindedness for a glorious development of each component that makes up Africa. Sensible, collective and judicious use of what we have from within the continent and the Diasporas will restore hope to the African population. We are our own hope and future.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development states that we (Africans) are convinced that an historic opportunity presents itself to end the scourge of underdevelopment that afflicts Africa.

Africa can indeed be great with a firm belief and faith in God.

The SOGA Effective Teacher Seminar

Posted March 14, 2013 by Ayodeji Jeremiah
Categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

The SOGA Effective Teacher Seminar

Nigeria’s Economy Outlook Bright But…

Posted March 8, 2013 by Ayodeji Jeremiah
Categories: Uncategorized

By Ayodeji Jeremiah

 

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• Nigeria needs US$730 billion to become 20th largest economy by 2020
• Sectors to watch
• Need to accelerate reform process
• High rates of poverty and youth unemployment continue to persist in spite of robust growth.

 

With a population of 150 million people and production of 2 million oil barrels per day and despite being the eight largest oil producing nation in the world, Oil-rich Nigeria has remained hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management. Nigeria’s former rulers have failed to diversify the economy away from its overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 95% of foreign exchange earnings and about 80% of budgetary revenues leaving it in the quandary it currently finds itself. Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, it has been two steps forward, one step backward.

Despite strong economic growths in the past five years, (Nigeria is growing faster than most of the world and is in fact the 2nd fastest growing economy in the world after China), the effects of such growth are not being felt due to the high cost of governance in the country that sees recurrent expenditure far outstripping much needed capital expenditure. Corruption also does not help matters as it filters away much needed money into private accounts. Added to these is the fact that growth drivers have been capital intensive in the areas of telecoms, construction and solid minerals and not in labour intensive areas such as agriculture and manufacturing. A 24% unemployment rate versus a 7% GDP growth makes this a ‘jobless’ growth. Poor infrastructure, which has been neglected over the years, discourages investments in agriculture and manufacturing.

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), the non-political private sector-led economic think-tank and advocacy group representing key sectors of the economy, held its 18th economic summit in December 2012 and pointed out in its report that the current cost and size of government was not sustainable at all three tiers and levels stating that the imbalance between recurrent and capital expenditure is a drag on economic growth and does not create jobs, and recommended fast-tracking the implementation of the Steve Oronsanye Report. The Steve Oronsanye report itself has been buried under bureaucratic red tape and political wrangling due to its political incorrectness.

The NESG also said the country’s hope of joining the top 20 global economies by the year 2020 may not be realisable. Presenting the economic scorecard for the country at the event, the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Foluso Phillips said Saudi Arabia will be the 20th largest economy in the world by 2020, with a GDP of US$1.2 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP). Nigeria on the other hand would be the 27th largest economy in the world by 2020, with a GDP of US$864 billion in PPP; falling short of being the 20th largest economy by a GDP of US$316 billion. Therefore, to become the 20th largest economy by 2020, Nigeria needs to close a US$730 billion gap starting now. This is calculated as the difference between the GDP of the 20th largest economy in 2020 – which is Saudi Arabia – and Nigeria’s current GDP in 2012 estimated by the IMF as US$450 billion in PPP.

 

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Need to Accelerate Pace of Reforms
A major challenge to increasing the absorptive capacity of the Nigerian economy is the dilapidated state of infrastructure, in particular power, road transport and railways; and the overdependence of the economy on the oil and gas industry. These should be priorities for the transformation agenda of the current administration and should be addressed through the creation of an enabling environment for private sector participation in infrastructure development, and through the development of the non-oil sector.

Commenting on this development, the NESG pointed out the need for substantive reforms to ensure local oil refining capacity within the economy. Beyond the need to ensure local oil refining capacity in Nigeria, the group stressed the compelling need to diversify away from the mono-productive oil base. The group also carefully considered a report by the Economist Magazine stating that by 2035 America could become a significant gas exporter and could slash dependence on oil imports. With all sources of energy taken together America could hit net self-sufficiency by 2035. This situation, NESG said, was of “critical importance to us as a nation given our dependence on oil for over 90 per cent of our revenue and given the fact that we are the 4th largest exporter of oil to America. America’s eventual self-sufficiency in oil would lead to a loss of one of our largest markets and introduce more competition into the market. Therefore, this presents us with utmost urgency, the need to rapidly diversify away from oil sector dependence by boosting potential growth poles in the non-oil sector especially agriculture, manufacturing, power and transport.”

The group also recommended an accelerated pace of reforms and growth to shorten the time frame to achieve the 20th largest economy objective, adding that a double digit growth rate from 2013 would double the size of the economy in 6 – 7 years. According to the NESG, the primary indicator of economic performance is the number of jobs created annually. They stressed that with a population of 167 million, this represents a huge potential to develop a skilled workforce, which is necessary to support Nigeria’s aspiration for double digit economic growth.

Speaking at a public function last year on the power reforms, Mr. Atedo Peterside, Chairman, Stanbic IBTC Bank observed that “If we can achieve a 7.9 percent growth in 2011 with the existing low level infrastructure…, you can imagine the growth level that will be achieved with the conclusion of the ambitious power sector reforms.” The current 4,000 mw is a far cry from what should ideally be in the region of 140, 000 – 160,000 mw if one goes by the rule for developed industrial countries of 1,000 mw for 1, 000, 000 people. While the current power reforms process seems to be on track, it will gain more traction when the privatisation processes are completed. However, care must be taken to ensure the power reforms are not derailed. As noted by renowned economist, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, an important point to note is that privatization alone will not solve the problems of the power sector. “There is the need for all involved in the power sector reform process to work collaboratively in promoting the objectives of the roadmap. There must be proper planning, achievable targets must be set, and the government/stakeholders must follow through on promises made. Despite the progress in the privatization process, there are fears that the schedule to complete the remaining part of the process may not be adhered to, therefore delaying progress in the power sector.”

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Challenges to Reforms
According to Professor Pat Utomi, Nigeria’s political economy creates a difficult context for reforms. In a paper he co-authored on the political economy of Nigeria especially in relation to reforms, he noted that Nigeria’s large oil revenues offer great potential for stimulating economic growth, but in practice have created distortions, whether political (crucially inducing elites to struggle for control of the resource), economic (via Dutch disease effects) and social (contributing to ethnic tensions), that have undermined growth and prospects for diversification in the non-oil sectors. Major challenges he noted are:
• The weakness of relations between state and society which leads to a lack of sustained citizen pressure on government for improved economic governance. Nigeria’s colonial beginnings, the state’s easy access to oil revenues, and frequent reversion to military rule since the 1960s are central to this.
• Competition for political power depends mainly on managing patronage relationships. Political elites have not been rewarded or punished according to their success in bringing about economic growth, but rather according to their ability to enrich their supporters and to counter competing claims.
• The policy process is personalised rather than vested in formal institutions, and is typically driven by informal interest group lobbying rather than robust and formalised consultation.
• The ever-present risk of violent conflict reduces the space for reform by strengthening the hand of interest groups who can threaten instability, as is currently occurring in the Niger Delta.
• Nigerian elites have an easy exit option by moving themselves and their capital abroad. This weakens domestic pressures for improved economic performance.
• Value systems have developed that promote opportunism and short-term behaviour.

In spite of these deep-seated obstacles, reforms have made progress over wide areas in a short period of time. However, the achievements have been mainly restricted to the Federal Government, and the gains are uneven and fragile. Most of the reforms have tended to be imposed in a top-down manner — though this may in reality have been the only way of generating the necessary momentum. The role of leadership has been particularly crucial in Nigeria where formal institutions are not deeply rooted, politics are personalised, major divisions exist along ethnic, regional and religious lines, and there is no strong tradition of civil society participation in the policy process. While interest groups have played a major role in enabling and blocking reforms, they have generally acted singly, rather than in coalitions, and through personalised connections with political leaders.

Potential Growth Areas
Despite the challenges, there are opportunities for business growth and investments. The NESG identified four key sectors for accelerated creation of jobs namely power, housing, downstream Oil & Gas and agriculture. “The four sectors that we have identified for accelerated job-creating growth for our nation must of necessity have the following enablers. Massive investment in infrastructure; human capital development and reduction in cost of governance,” the group said. They pointed out that in addition to providing opportunities for job creation power enhances productivity and national competitiveness; and acknowledged the Federal Government’s efforts at implementing the Roadmap for power sector reform. The group commended electricity generation stabilised at about 4,200mw; effort on-going to strengthen weak transmission network and the sale of PHCN successor companies.

Despite the hiccups in the areas of power reforms and the slow pace of privatisation of the National Electric Company (Power Holding Company of Nigeria), investment opportunities exist in the areas of development of energy resources and infrastructures; Management of energy infrastructure; Commercialization of energy; Training; and Exchange of information and experience. The emphasis here is on: Construction and Management of power stations by private companies; Production of stream and gas turbine spare parts; Repair and testing of power transformers; Development of wind turbines for generation of electricity; Manufacture of distribution transformers and line hardware; Technology transfer through joint erection of new power plants; and Training of PHCN staff in computer based maintenance system amongst others.

Despite oil’s dominance, agriculture continues to play a significant role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 35.2% of GDP. Sustainable expansion of agriculture should play a key role in unleashing inclusive economic growth, reducing poverty and enhancing food security. The government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda targets these objectives and should be sustained.

Another significant area for growth is the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector. Because of Nigeria’s large population and its growing middle class, consumer facing companies will continue to benefit as Nigerian households (inflation and inclusive growth permitting) increase the share of their budget spent on food, household items, clothing, and entertainment.

The Stock Market Returns
The stock market despite the losses of the past few years remains an attractive investment option. Foreign investors dominate investments in the Nigerian Stock Exchange with 56% of investments. The CEO of NSE, Oscar Onyema, on this, explained that, “Last year, the NSE recorded local participation of 44 per cent, while foreign participation accounted for 56% of activities in the same year. The rally we saw in the market in 2012 was on the back of foreign investments.” He continued, “It is also good that our local investors have started to return to the market and we are very hopeful that we will see more of this in 2013. We at the Exchange are hopeful that the market will pick up further this year.” “It is important to state here that the Nigerian stock market has been cleaned up to give good returns to foreign investors and our market is too big to be ignored by foreign investors who are looking to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African market and other emerging economies. This is what has kept these investors.” Reforms in the financial sector, robust growth of the economy, favourable pricing of crude oil which has led to increase in the country’s external reserves and high equities market yield to date are some other factors that have seen investors returning to take advantage of the opportunities in the Stock market.

David Adonri, CEO, Lambeth Trust & Investment Company Ltd, said local investors are just recovering from the market’s melt down in 2009. “Domestic investors, who were severely wounded in the Capital Market during the last meltdown, are only just starting to regain their confidence in the Market,” he said. According to him, at the beginning of 2012, contribution of Foreign Investors to transactions on the NSE was over 70 per cent. However, at year end, the figure had declined to about 56 per cent indicating that domestic Investors participation was on the increase. “The high interest of Foreign Investors in Nigeria’s Financial Market is due to positive improvement in the nation’s macro economy, together with remarkably improved fundamentals of quoted companies,” he said. Mr. Adonri said Nigeria’s Financial Market is globalized and prone to external shocks but the influx of Foreign Investors is highly beneficial to the economy at large. “More Foreign Investment inflow needs to be encouraged. The risk of sudden and massive capital flight by them can be mitigated with deployment of appropriate Monetary Policy tools” he said.

Education
Nigeria’s young population remains the best bet for prospective human and economic development. The quality of human capital needs to be further developed. In terms of quality of our educational systems, Nigeria ranks 83rd in the world. The government has been implementing education reforms since 2006 to improve access to education, especially with the introduction of Universal Basic Education. The government increased the share of education in budget spending from 4% in 2010 to 6% in 2011. There have been some positive results. The literacy rate for the 15-24 age group was 80% in 2008, up from 64.1% in 2000. Education quality is, however, generally low and varies considerably across the country.

The most successful and dynamic economies share many key attributes: good educational system, high levels of investment in research and development, a high number of inventions/ innovations, an economic structure dominated by significant share of manufacturing and export structure marked by a high share of technology products. No nation can emerge as a great power without being an economic power. And no nation can be an economic power without being a leader in science and technology. More people presently are enrolled in schools, while birth rate is high and quality of public education is marginally improving. Low-income parents understand the difference that education can make, and find it necessary to get their children educated.

Opportunities therefore exist for public-private sector partnerships in improving the state of our schools at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. A major challenge here is the exploitative nature of private sector investors who continue to set up schools with extremely high fees and curriculum tailored to prepare students for external examinations and working abroad. Beyond seeing education as an investment opportunity, corporate and religious organisations must see it as an area in need of CSR investments or what Bill Gates refers to as ‘Social Capitalism’.

At the recent public presentation of Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka’s latest book, Harmattan Haze, Professor Pat Utomi in his contributions as a discussant at the event noted that Nigeria has the opportunity to fast track her development through the use of technology especially with its current rating as the 10th country with the highest internet usage. Despite past failures, Nigeria he said can leap frog its development through reliance on intellectual power and the development of a literate citizenry.

The Nigerian government must be keenly aware that sustaining democratic principles, enhancing security for life and property, maintaining the pace of reforms and rebuilding and maintaining infrastructure are necessary for the country to attract foreign investment. Also important is the development of human capital as mentioned above. Even though human capital is only one factor of many that drives development and associated economic growth, it is very important factor for the development process for a developing country like Nigeria. The productive capacity of a country is related to the level of human capital, explaining why human capital formation must be considered of great importance now and in the future.

Extending and sustaining the reform process and maintaining the momentum should be the main goals of President Jonathan’s administration. With a soaring young population (60% of Nigeria’s population are between 15 and 44 years), the government must focus on repairing existing infrastructure and building new ones to hasten the much needed growth and achieve the objectives of its Vision 20 – 2020 programme and in order to avoid the political and social unrest that high youth unemployment predisposes to.

Make an Effort to be Nice to People this Year

Posted January 3, 2013 by Ayodeji Jeremiah
Categories: Uncategorized

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want” (Zig Ziglar).

 

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One of my favourite stories in the Bible is that of Naaman, the Syrian General who had leprosy. He was wealthy and powerful and had obviously been looking for a cure for his disease. The only reason he had not become an outcast was obviously because of his wealth, position and power. Am sure, he would have tried all sorts to get healed. He would have spent money and travelled widely. Eventually when he would get his healing, it was through a young anonymous lowly maid in his house whose name was never mentioned in the Bible. This maid, an Israelite worked for the General’s wife and obviously must have heard about her master’s trouble. The general’s wife must have been greatly troubled herself and the maid would have noticed this. So this maid, knowing Elisha, the Man of God in Israel tells her mistress about Elisha that the general should go visit him. I don’t know how much convincing she would have done to make her mistress volunteer the information to her husband, the general but Naaman eventually goes to see Elisha and despite his initial petulance, he eventually does what Elisha asks of him and gets healed. The reason why I like the story however and the point I always like to make is that Naaman or his wife or both of them must have been nice people and must have treated this lowly unmentioned maid very well. How do I know? There is no way on earth she would have volunteered the information she gave if they had maltreated her. There is no way she would have wanted to help them if she had not been well treated. Her mistress, apart from being desperate must have been humble for her to have listened to her maid in addition to the fact that they must have had a good relationship.

One of the determinants of your success in life is how well you get along with others and how well you perform as part of a team and how well you treat others. Your level of success will be determined by the number of people you know and who know you and like you. The more that people like you and respect you, the more doors they will open for you and the more obstacles they will remove from your path. At every turning point in your life, someone is standing there to either help you or hinder you. Treat other people the way you would like them to treat you. Practice being courteous, kind and considerate especially with those on the lower rung of the ladder from you. Be friendly, helpful and cheerful. Express gratitude to people on every occasion.

Look for ways to put something into a relationship before you think about getting something out. Make a habit of building and maintaining high quality relationships. Virtually all of your problems in life will come as a result of your entering into the wrong relationships and virtually all of your great successes in life will be accompanied by great relationships with good people who help you and whom you help in return. You can tell a lot about which direction your life is heading by looking at the people with whom you have chosen to spend your time and share your ideas. Their values and priorities affect the way you think and act. You become like those with whom you spend time. Choose friends who are going in the same direction as you. People have the potential to create your environment. Your environment then determines your mind set and your mind set determines your future. Show me your friends and I will show you your future. Get to know people whom you want to emulate.

You need the advice of good and godly people. Select your personal council of mentors, advisers and councillors. Identify those who waste your time and disrespect your chosen focus. Identify dangerous relationships that feed your weaknesses. Be nice to everyone and don’t ignore anybody. We need other people if we are going to be successful in life. Your progress is largely determined by how much people like you and want to help you.


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