Friday, December 30, 2011

Truth be told - 2012 game planning

Truth be told, the open discussion on TV about the fuel subsidy removal is better government than I'm used to seeing in Nigeria.  Goodbye to that particular avenue for wasting our resources.
Now let's also tackle jumbo pay.  The same day the subsidy officially ends, there should be a 20% cut in recurrent expenditure, mostly from ending jumbo pay.  After all, there has long been an outcry to curb spending on those perks - free cars, food, clothing, shelter, travel, "contracts", "security votes", "constituency allowances", I mean, what is all that rubbish?
I actually think the National Assembly should be conducted by email or video conferencing on most days, to meet in Abuja monthly.  My Senator should not necessarily drive a car.  I want to share a keke / bus ride with the woman.  Otherwise, what are you representing in the Nat.Ass.?  Your husband?  Your pocket?

The economic priority for 2012 ought to be the following: getting a breakthrough in the drive to get 100 billion USD worth of investment over the next 3-4 years.  This means at a minimum we want $10billion worth of investments in the Electric Power sector and another $10bn in refining, manufacturing, and services, for a total of $20bn in 2011-2012.  How is the Ministry of Trade and Investments doing, as this is their mandate?
In setting this investment target, I remember that the stated mission of the Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala (and the IMF president Lagarde) is to create jobs.  Well, getting investment from large companies, from the Chinese and Indians and Americans and Europeans, ought to create jobs.  I also will not forget that as I write there's no electricity in the house (so I'm rushing this post).  $10 billion invested in electric power is verifiably about 10,000MW added to the available power (or 3X the current capacity). I also see that the moves to clean up the port processes, restructure government spending towards investment, and institute a managed Sovereign Wealth Fund, are part of what we need for financial health.  I'm pretty impatient to see some of these changes. 

1. Internet everywhere.
2. Lower birthrate (MAGIC NUMBER THREE)
3. Cool agric.  For example, where are the ads in the Tuesday Guardian newspaper calling graduates to market agric commodities or work in food processing?  Where are the Agric Chic fashion shows?  We do have a few cool things - the agric loan guarantees, the role models in agric-related business...we just need more sexiness around agric in general. 

Pics: AGRIC CHIC Sketches
Jail Jail Jail - self-explanatory.  Gangsters abound because there seems to be no punishment. 
Cut cut cut - end the jumbo pay.  make politics just a normal-paid job. 
Local government - Every Nigerian 12 years and up should answer two questions: where is my local government?  Do we have a monthly Local Government meeting? 

Naturally, the Presidency will revive the debate on tenure elongation.  No, Mr. President, you can not extend your own tenure.  A simple fact, really, but you can waste time trying.  Let's fix electric power and MAYBE talk re-election.  Otherwise, 1245 days to go.  You can do it!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The tech bubble is not a bubble

by James Altucher for 
There’s no bubble 2.0.
And while I’m at it: there was never a bubble 1.0.
Let me explain.
A bubble occurs when an asset moves up today only because it moved up yesterday. Think about it. I’m not going to define it more than that.

The Internet went up in 1999 because now, 12 years later, everyone on the planet uses the Internet. And many Internet 1.0 companies: Ebay, Amazon, let’s throw in Apple, lets even throw in Google although it was late to the game, and a slew of others, are at all-time highs in value and create tens of billions in earnings. Because they are real.

Why are they at all-time highs? Because everyone was right about the Internet. Everyone did eventually start using it. It did make commerce easier throughout the world. It did make corporate IT easier. It did allow companies to fire parts of their workforce because they are now replaced by easy to use technology (the real reason for the now probably permanent 8-9% unemployment we have: every corporation used 2008-9 as an excuse to fire the dead weight the Internet created in their workforce. I’ve had Fortune 100 CEOs admit this to me: “well, everyone was firing people. So finally we were able to.”) Just like when cars appeared we were able to fire all the people who rode horses.

Internet usage went from 30 million people to 2 billion people worldwide. That’s not a bubble. Groupon, no matter what you read about their stock, their moat, their people, their competition, their model (“its a coupon business”), is the fastest growing company in revenues in world history and it started in November, 2008.
Zynga is another one of the fastest growing companies in world history.
Facebook has 800 million users and is slowly but surely figuring out how to extract $2-$3 a year from every customer (which will give it a value of about $100 billion).
Facebook is a mini-Internet. It’s an organized Internet. We’ve all moved our “home pages” to be our “Facebook pages”. Companies flash their Facebook page on their commercials now instead of their own websites.

So imagine the value of the entire Internet. Discount it just a little. That’s Facebook. Or maybe Facebook + Twitter + Google. And then everyone who builds tools to service those behemoths. That’s dot-com 2.0. It’s not a bubble.
So why does everyone call dot-com 1.0 a bubble? Wasn’t it? Wasn’t there And a sock puppet?
A venture capitalist might invest in 20 companies. 10 might be zeros. 5 might be losses. 3 might be small wins. One or two might be home runs. That’s different from the normal everyday investor portfolio where everyone expects all of their stocks to go up.
In 1999-2000, the public was given the chance to have a venture capitalist-style portfolio. It didn’t work. And in anger it was called a “bubble” and then a “bust”. Tulips! they said. Tulips don’t have $80 billion of cash in the bank like Apple does. Tulips never had $43 billion in revenues like Amazon does.

Venture capitalists will wait five to ten years for their payoff. The average investing public will wait five to ten minutes or it’s a bubble. Again: the dream came true: the Internet actually did bloom to billions of users. That’s not a tulip garden.

Read the entire article: Facebook Shareholders Suck…(Or, Why This Is Not Bubble 2.0) by James Altucher for

Thursday, December 08, 2011

23401 is the zip code for Lagos State in Nigeria

My debit card did not work online until I used 23401 as my zip code.  That's like an electronic/credit card; it's labelled Visa, but issued by a Nigerian bank.

Previously, the specialized customer care from the bank had suggested many reasons why my address wasn't working, but yesterday I found out that Lagos indeed has a five-digit zip code or postcode.  Presumably, other cities/states in the country have 234-something-something too, but good luck finding those since the NIPOST utility at is down (domain name expired).

This postal code issue has confused many Nigerian people, and I suffered so much trying to use my very super special card online until I had to beg my sister and my mother and transfer money just before deadline.
Then I found out this new secret zipcode, and I have just made a purchase online with it, no problem at all.

Although they couldn't get the zip code right, the customer service (phone number at the back of your card) helped me figure out which of my many possible addresses (work, shack, parents', other job, ...) I had entered.  I will inform them about this blind spot of theirs.  If you have trouble with your own card, phone the number; for once customer service in Nigeria really tried to be helpful. 

Welcome to the late 20th century, brethren. 

Lagos State 23401
Oyo State 23402
FCT (Abuja) 23409
Maybe the last two digits are from the telephone area code?  (See Nigeria local area codes here)

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Six Questions with Chude Jideonwo

Chude Jideonwo is very young. He attended Nigerian Law School, and has become an important entrepreneur in media and related services. Some of the things he has been involved in: writing for magazines, hosting TV shows, running a media company, being a part of EnoughisEnough, using facebook then twitter A LOT, co-founding The Future Nigeria awards, speaking up at the Goodluck Jonathan youth lunch, running a serious PR firm, publishing Y! one of my top-two magazines, being an employer, writing newspaper editorials, marching on Abuja with the youth in March 2010, organizing workshops on social media, ... I admire the guy. Soooo...

I asked him a few questions in my first interview ever:

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
CJ: Honestly in 5 years, I expect to have built a business to be proud of. I look at people like Aliko Dangote and Fola Adeola and I just keep going. These are iconic men so I am by no means comparing myself with them; I am simply inspired by them.
The urgent need to create value, and a brand that will change the way Nigerians access the media – to provoke thought and to inspire action and growth – drives me daily. I am resolutely convinced that the more entrepreneurs our country has, the more its capacity to regenerate itself.
In 5 years, I’d have reached my 30 mark, build a system that can grow and survive outside of me, and move on to the next stage of value creation.

2. Tell upnaira readers four things that make you indescribably happy (PG version o!)
A woman I love.
To produce a magazine edition that wows.
Great food!
Great, over-achieving staff.
3. Describe your business philosophy in three words
CJ: Humaneness. Relentlessness. Integrity.

4. Name your two biggest crushes ever :)
CJ: I can’t even lie 0 – I have a crush on Studio 53 presenter Eku Edewor (and there’s a line of people who will roll their eyes when they see this!).
And Angelina Jolie – I can look at her for days!: )

5. Where did you learn to take the initiative and "just do it?"
CJ: I honestly don’t know – I think some people are made that way. In my 5 years or so of being a manager or employer I have seen people who are amazing and competent but who are just not driven and don’t take initiative by themselves – as staff, partners etc. And I don’t take too much offense, because no one taught me. I just knew to achieve the things I want to achieve there’s no choice. Recently I have begun to read biographies, and to find out that its really the spirit that drives any kind of leap.

6. How can more Africans learn to be problem-solvers?
CJ: Tosin honestly I have no idea. But I will hazard a guess. We need more Aliko Dangotes and Mo Ibrahims. People who show Africans the way the Henry Fords and the Rockerfellers showed the Americans it is possible. That way we learn that we have the capacity to do great things. We sorely need inspiration – practical examples.

You're welcome.  

From Chude's profile at RED:
A lawyer and award-winning journalist, Chude has, for more than ten years, garnered key experience in all forms of traditional and new media and has worked as a communication professional with blue chips including the Nigeria LNG, Virgin Nigeria and Bank PHB’s The Apprentice Africa.
Also known as a development expert especially with regard to the youth demographic, in 2007, he was selected as one of 101 Young African Leaders by the African Business Forum; in 2009, he was selected for the US Government’s International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP); in May 2010, he was selected for the Nigeria Leadership Initiative’s (NLI) Future Leaders Fellowship. In May 2011 he was appointed a member of the awards committee for the Ford Foundation Jubilee Transparency Award, alongside distinguished Nigerians like Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte and Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah.
He was member of the Editorial Board of NEXT Newspapers, is the youngest recipient of the Nigeria Media Merit Award, and is concluding a Masters programme in Media and Communication at the prestigious Pan-African University, Lagos.
He is Managing Partner at RED, and oversees Creative, Content and Communication.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What an asshole!

I can't stand assholes. Steve Jobs was said to be a monumental asshole. The times I worked with assholes, basically I felt they created more trouble than whatever positives they had. Being an asshole is really not worth it. Everybody hopes you die.

Tom McNichol writes for TheAtlantic,
So many people advanced Steve Jobs as evidence that asshole CEOs build better companies that Sutton somewhat reluctantly included a chapter in his book on "The Virtues of Assholes," with Steve Jobs as Exhibit A. There is some evidence that "status displays" by aggressive bosses can motivate workers and give slackers a kick in the pants. And effective jerk bosses usually aren't assholes all the time, they're able to turn on the charm when the situation demands it, something Steve Jobs, by most accounts, was very good at doing. And it helps for companies to have skilled subordinate executives that are good at cleaning up after the Asshole-in-Chief, much like the sad-faced men carrying shovels who walk behind circus elephants.

But Sutton's book makes clear that for the most part, assholes are bad for the bottom line, to say nothing of the human toll they exact. There are plenty of very successful companies that aren't led by assholes - Google, Virgin Atlantic, Procter & Gamble and Southwest Airlines among them. Likewise, there are legions of assholes who lead companies that aren't successful, in part due to their own bad behavior.

You should totally read the full article titled Be a Jerk: The Worst Business Lesson from the Steve Jobs Biography

Monday, November 28, 2011

Optimism due to Aunt Ngozi

The Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is On a mission to:

 make the budget right and set it back again on a reasonable path;
 make the business environment better by cleaning out our ports;
 launch reforms that will give our youth more jobs

She hopes we can do these few simple things. Read more at and see her unusual pic too

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Personal Values Checklist

From this list of values (both work and personal), select the ten that are most important to you-as guides for how to behave, or as components of a valued way of life.


___Advancement & promotion


___Affection (love and caring)


___Challenging problems

___Change and variety

___Close relationships









___Ecological awareness

___Economic security



___Ethical practice





___Fast living

___Fast-paced work

___Financial gain




___Having a family

___Helping other people

___Helping society



___Influencing others

___Inner harmony


___Intellectual status


___Job tranquility





___Market position

___Meaningful work




___Being around others who are open and honest

___Order (tranquility, stability, conformity)

___Personal development (living up to the fullest use of my potential)

___Physical challenge


___Power & authority


___Public service


___Quality of what I take part in

___Quality relationships

___Recognition (respect from others, status)



___Responsibility & Accountability







___Supervising others

___Time freedom




___Work under pressure

___Work with others

___Working alone

Now that you have identified ten, imagine that you are only permitted to have five values. Which five would you give up? Cross them off. Tell us your five important personal values.

When I did this exercise (2008), I used a scale and then picked the highest-ranked. I find that my top five values are super-important to me, and where they are not, I am not, if that makes any sense. (I'll tell mine if you tell yours)

Sources: ,

Monday, October 17, 2011

GEJ: Instead of removing subsidy...Do This

This talk of deregulation is nonsense in so far as the President’s aides keep missing the larger point. That the cause of the corruption in the subsidy scheme they’re purportedly scrapping is not the subsidy itself, but the very essence that an importation cabal has held the nation hostage. It is this cabal that has determined to ensure they skim off the top of the nation woes, while ensuring that a better system to replace what we have now never emerges.

Just like PHCN and our electric grid is in the grip of the generator mafia, the petroleum import leeches have essential declared war on our capability to refine locally, and they were the sponsors of the President at the last election!

Take for instance, in the fiscal year 2011 the total budget for petroleum subsidy was 240 billion naira, roughly $1.70 billion. To date, 931 billion naira have already been spent! Yes, you read that right: Nigeria have expended $6 billion on the economic hit that have been let loose on our nation. They live in sleek palaces across the country, smiling to the banks while the rest of us exist in absolute penury. These are the President’s men, and now they want us not the government to line their pockets.

NOTE: Nations subsidize products that are deemed essential to the national economy. In the United States, gas and food are heavily subsidized to ensure folks can ride out winter, and keep poverty to the minimum. Billions are spent in the capital of capitalism on ethanol subsidy to keep the midwest economy humming. Read, unlike you've been indoctrinated: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SUBSIDIES. Targeted subsidies are in fact a smart way to run and win in an inter-capitalistic world where you're going against heavily subsidized Chinese and American players. Petroleum is essential in the Nigerian economy where it cooks our food (Kerosene), powers our industries (thanks to PHCN) and drives our vehicles. If the price goes up, inflation will nearly triple imposing invisible taxes on production and ensuring the economy crashes.

Nigeria is a low-income earning country that happens to be blessed with oil. Our citizens should not be paying the same price as an American. For one, they cannot afford it. This obsession by the PDP government with deregulation will destroy our local economy and companies already groaning under the weight of fueling vehicles and generators, it will be the last straw to break their back when the government should rather be stimulating the economy. America, China and Europe are stimulating theirs, why should we be killing ours? This policy will destroy employment, threaten our social fabric, lead to spiraling inflation and could very well lead to a revolution. The President is playing with fire.

I cannot believe the President is simply clueless (or maybe I can); clearly this man cannot be possibly impotent in the face of the cabal (or maybe he is). The solution to the corruption in the subsidy system cannot possibly be transferring the burden of paying that subsidy to the pockets of long suffering Nigerians from the coffers of their ever-leaking non-existent government! Pray tell, how many new refineries can be build with the subsidy the government of Goodluck Jonathan have paid to his sponsors in 2011 only?

Here are few policy steps, just in case his advisors are reading that can take Nigeria from almost 6 billion dollars paid to charlatans to total self-sufficiency in three years, by the end of his term:

  • Commercialize the existing four refineries as separate companies. This will basically involve cleaning shop on management level (hire HR firms to do this), while taking them public (offering 49% control at the IPO, devoting the raised capital to capital expansion to increase production)
  • Continue the practice of selling crude oil to the refineries at below international market rate i.e. indirect subsidy, which allows the refinery turn profit; while putting a lid on the domestic pump price through a regulated system of tariffs similar to electricity.
  • Allocate excess refine products demand to the four operators: allowing them to organize importers to meet this demand beyond what they produce, while disbursing subsidy directly to them to meet the regulated pump price.
  • At the same time, the new regulatory regime should not allow these operators to import directly or through any subsidiary or joint venture, rather they’re to source their imports from the open market, paying market price for such while bridging this with government paid subsidy.

This system essentially means that as a commercial operator, they’re giving up certain margins to the middlemen importers in so far they don’t produce domestically; encouraging them to eliminate these middlemen quickly. Also, the fewer players feeding at the government trough of subsidies will also mean less corruption. As public companies responsible to shareholders, these companies will only act in self interest to continue to expand production to meet local demand and eliminate the middle men.

At the same time, government incentives for new refinery builders including tax holidays, a capital expansion fund that provide up to 51% equity funding or loan guarantees to these builders at the Central Bank will be a more efficient way to spend $6billion than giving it to the President’s buddies. Of course one of these incentives might be a bite at the juicy oil blocs that the majors always want: no refinery no, crude oil concession, no deal. It is called negotiation.

Stop being a coward Mr. President. Where is the Petroleum Industry Bill when we need it anyway?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Money News that is just a bit new: YouWIN, the misunderstood subsidy, Naira to strengthen, and the World bank cares.

At least the administration is listening. There is a government plan to tackle unemployment through entrepreneurial development. It has a name: YouWIN - Youth Enterprise With Innovation In Nigeria.
Will it have teeth? I need money now, actually like 6 months ago for my "business" - my new book. How can I WIN?
I've witnessed a business plan program similar to the one proposed by YouWIN - it featured a week of all-day classes at a Lagos Business School affiliate, then a business plan competition. It was tastefully sponsored by people of NLI. They kept it simple, and awarded capital - yeah baby - to three top business plans. (all about the NLI Business Plan Competition here)

Since the best academic writers don't always have the most business sense, a program like YouWIN may not reliably create strong businesses directly from the winning business plans.
However, it will indirectly create a culture of enterprise: as ideas meet, good people partner, add focused training, serve seed money to help people TRY.  Yes, they will likely, and crucially, fail. But it is still very good to spend money in this way - people will start devoting their time and energy to good business, and this builds their business/entrepreneurship muscles.
The secret of Stanford (a university and frequent high-tech incubator) is not more than that. 

My advice on YouWIN: Keep it simple.  Use good people (like me; pay me so I can make small money to produce my new book) not people who will mess up the whole thing by being backward and greedy.  Also keep this as the big book version but let us create the "illiterate" version that can reach more people. Oya, let me go and apply.

The Petroleum Subsidy Brouhaha
The reason to remove the subsidy is to remove the perverse incentive to import and deal in oil; and hopefully to create incentives to produce and trade in better things.
The subsidy will be removed if we must move forward.  This is not to trivialize what a political minefield it is to suddenly raise living costs on the majority of people.  Such would be bad for society and the economy as well.  What is the plan to
1. cushion any shocks and unintended consequences e.g. high food, fuel, and transport prices
2. communicate love and care to the masses who will feel cheated and abandoned?

Clearly, the idea of shaping the incentive function (I'm an engineer/math person) is not one that the masses would easily wrap their minds around.  Nduka Obiagbena and Wale Tinubu, among the business leaders supporting the removal of the subsidy, support it for the wrong reason because they are not very analytical.   Aliko Dangote, who also supports removing the subsidy, shows why he is more intelligent than many business leaders in Nigeria.  He understands that it is not the spending on subsidy that is the problem, but the system this creates.

In the grand scheme of things, the amount spent on the subsidy is paltry.  James Ibori alone could pay it for a few years from his loot, not voluntarily of course.  The subsidy should go, but not because of the money spent on it, not even because of the alternative uses that money could be spent on, but because it entrenches a system of importing oil products.  When you subsidize something, it means you are trying to make more of it.  When you subsidize oil imports, it means you are assisting the business of oil importers to make it stronger.  This is why we can not have electricity (we need generators to continue to consume the diesel) and why we can not have trains (we need more cars to continue to burn petrol.)  

My advice on petroleum subsidy: Understand if/why the subsidy must be removed.  Explain this to people.  Devote ten times more money to another new people-oriented program and communicate what the disappeared subsidy money was spent on.  Proceed with caution, even if you think you are right. 

Sanusi believes the Naira will strengthen
In other news, the Naira still manages to weaken against the US dollar.  How is it possible that even with the US in recession and crisis, their currency is still beating ours up?

Money for Power
The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation are to organize an Alternative Energy Expo to find a way forward for energy/electricity in Nigeria. This is new. I'd never heard of our electricity being "their" problem before.
What this forum - Lighting Africa - is doing is to try and make the latest lighting technology accessible to the hundreds of millions in Africa's un-electrified rural communities and replace kerosene as a lighting source by solar and other clean sources."
Abeg, come and invest.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

What is cooler than a career fair?

The Wharton Africa Business Forum.  November 4-6, at U.Penn, in Philadelphia, PA.
Check out the speakers: financiers and fund managers, experts in infrastucture and agribusiness and telecomms and microbanking from Africa and elsewhere.
Discounted registration available for students, who can also learn how to apply to Wharton.
Go!  And let me know how it goes. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apply Now

The British Council supported by Bank of Industry presents: 
Business training for Creative entrepreneurs 
taking place in Abuja and Lagos this October.

Download and complete the application form to apply.

Deadline: September 30th so apply immediately.
Cost: Free of charge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ginger's Gist

Do you think banking is "where the money at"?
First read this hilarious account of the real deal in three parts:
So you want to be a banker? Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The girl can gossip!
Know your KPI.
August 2011 on Ginger's blog at

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fresh air and hard work

I feel the breath of fresh air promised by the campaign of Jonathan - well, not the peace and prosperity itself, but that we are turned towards it in our journey as a country. The way I see things, Nigerians have learned to apply pressure on the leadership, this is coupled with the fact that Jonathan has chosen to plug in and be guided by the wishes of Nigerians.

So for instance, in about two months, the Electric Power Reform efforts have gone from lost at sea, to somewhat more free: in the news are a few Independent Power Projects of 10MW and up, and a bulk trader has been set up. This is the right direction, especially if we quickly move up to 100MW projects and above. Bear in mind that demand is at least 10x, but closer to 20x, above current output of 3000MW, that is, for this country of 150million inhabitants to move from 20W per capita to about 200W per capita.

Give us electric power and we can forgive other wrongs.

I feel confident that there is committed economic leadership, for a change. A Ministry to raise investment in the trillions of Naira ($100bn) over the next few years, a Central Bank that has insisted on lowered corruption in banking - including sanitizing balance sheets and imposing cash withdrawal limits - and that is also driving hard to promote lending to the real sector, a deregulation team that self-criticized the massive corruption in privatization deals, and as mentioned before, the way anti-corruption and popular demand have just recently reshaped the pronouncements of the Electric Power team.

It is also fantastic to see that Jonathan did something, anything, about the appallingly rotten legal/judicial profession. In today's top Nigeria news, his predecessor, President Yar'adua could not sack former Chief Justice Aondoakaa even though he knew he was disastrously corrupt. Other top Nigeria news for today is, refreshingly, about the economy:
1. CNN interviews Hajara Adeola, MD of Lotus capital, for an explanation of Islamic banking, as Islamic finance spreads in Nigeria.
2. Bloomberg has the Central Bank predicting that the yuan will appreciate given the strength of China’s economy. Nigeria plans to reach a target of holding 10 percent of its foreign-exchange reserves in yuan; will start holding the Chinese currency next quarter. The $32 billion in Nigerian reserves are now 79% held in U.S. dollars, with the rest largely in euros, Swiss francs and British pounds.
3. We can't get away from corruption: Reuters has a story on Nigerian politicians, and even the Joint Task Force against oil-bunkering, actually "benefiting from" oil theft. "Some observers compared the relationship between the JTF and major militant groups to arrangements between rival gangs in U.S. urban areas; generally each JTF unit and militant band had its own territory in which they operated and from which they derived their illicit incomes," it said.

Jobs, we need jobs. Without the reforms in all the aforementioned areas: access to capital, electric power, anti-looting policy, the incentive to do honest work would remain weak.
But now that the government has started to move the major obstacles away, it is time for us to bring out all our best work:
we need to export agric farm products and arts and crafts, not just oil.
We need to make our own computers and steelworks, not just import.
We need employment in building rail networks and expanding power systems.
We need our historians and scientists and shopkeepers and town planners.
We need to kill this corruption beast - if you're still giving or taking bribes, what's your excuse?
We need intelligence and police to fight organized crime (including corruption rackets)
We need Arabic and Islamic scholarship to combat Boko Haram with the clear message that Boko (Western Education) is Halal (Permitted by Islam).
The Ministry of Finance has (correctly) stated that job creation will be its focus. Nobody can perform such a huge miracle alone. Time to stop blaming and start working.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Diaspora Internship Opportunity at Pioneer Angel Network Org

LoftyInc Angel Network Internship Opportunity in Nigeria

As a volunteer intern, you will provide crucial contributions to LoftyInc's social impact investing activities, especially through the newly formed LoftyInc Angel Network (LAN). 

The LoftyInc Angel Network (LAN) is a network of Nigerian angel investors (registration in progress) organized by, but independent of LoftyInc to offer seed and expansion capital to businesses incubated by LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited.

As an intern, you will augment LAN staff and investor members by tackling projects such as sector or regional analysis, case studies, due diligence support and/or investor support.

The volunteer intern role provides crucial additional capacity to the LAN team.  Responsibilities include one or more of the following, depending on your experience and interests:

  • Sector and Regional Analysis:
    • Learn about the most attractive emerging investment areas by performing analysis on target investment sectors (such as clean technology, education, mobile technology, mobile payments, or fair trade).
    • Perform market, segment, trend and company analysis to identify what's hot in impact capital and in social enterprise in these areas, identify potential deal flow partners and make recommendations. We plan to use this analysis to guide future investment decisions.

  • Case Studies:
    • Learn how social impact investments are made by studying investments we've made and writing up detailed case studies on how the investment was identified, researched and structured and the potential for exits.  We plan to feature these case studies on our website and in our public relations activities to demonstrate our impact and success.

  • Due Diligence Support:
    • Learn how investors perform due diligence on prospective investments by preparing pre-meeting investor briefs and recording highlights of investor conversations with social enterprises.  We plan to use this input to help us better assess investment opportunities.

  • Investment Meeting Secretary:
·         Be a proverbial fly on the wall for our member investment meetings where we discuss investments and other top issues.
·         Record meeting minutes and distribute to the team. This is a unique opportunity to form relationships with the industry’s leading impact investors in an otherwise closed-doors meeting.  A great way as well to get to hear how investors evaluate projects in real time.

  • LAN MD  Support:
    • Work with the MD of the LoftyInc Angel Network to identify potential members of the network, and follow up as required.
    • Represent the MD as required.
  • Other: We sometimes consider other projects which leverage unique capabilities of our volunteer interns. 

Experience, Education and Training
  • The ideal candidate will be highly analytical; detail oriented and possess a strong interest in social enterprise and impact investing.
  • Experience in social enterprise, developing countries, public policy and/or investing desired but not required.
  • Must be a current student or recent grad living in Nigeria.

Time Commitment
Time commitment is quite flexible.  We would ask for a minimum of 4-6 hours per week or more (depending on your project) for approximately 10 to 12 weeks, though by combining several projects, can also take full-time interns.  We sometimes consider other time periods and time commitments depending on your situation.

Reporting and Compensation
Interns report to the LAN MD and each is mentored, as appropriate, by a LAN member investor.  While this is a volunteer position with no monetary compensation at the moment, we make every effort to assure your experience is valuable.

Next Steps
Send resume and cover e-mail with subject heading- “Attention LoftyInc Angel Network” to on or before September 30, 2011

About LoftyInc
LoftyInc Allied Partners Ltd. is a business development company founded in 2008 to specifically focus on supporting innovative entrepreneurs and businesses. LoftyInc specializes in start-up business and project incubation in West Africa. LoftyInc unique business incubation model is implemented on a platform jointly initiated with the Africa Leadership Forum: the Wennovation Hub. LoftyInc supports over half a dozen domestic start-ups and three early stage projects sponsored by domestic and international clients.
Plot C, Obasa Road, off Oba Akran Road, Ikeja Lagos

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Teaching Analysis

The quality of journalism has risen in Nigeria, yet, financial reporting receives a poor grade from me.

Because they do not understand some mathematical concepts, journalists confuse increase with decrease, gain with loss, speed with acceleration, and so forth.

I should like to teach a 10-hour course for financial analysts to clear these things up. As you can imagine, when an article opens with such errors, I run far away from it :( Yet, it's not so difficult when you know how.

Maybe someone else will teach the class? Lagos Business School? Uddin? Bismarck-Rewane? Totally needed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Analyse the global economic crisis

The third monthly WikiLeaks Central Essay Competition 2011 solicits an answer to the question: What are the root causes of the global economic crisis?

The winning essay will be selected based on newsworthiness; supporting research; organization and writing style; and also the essay's capacity to engender online discourse in the form of comments and retweets.

Winner will be published and paid a few bucks. Interested? Visit the Wikileaks Blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

How to make 500,000 Naira in three easy steps

1. Request information from a Nigerian government agency under the Freedom of Information Law.

2. If an official asks you why you need to know, reply: "because Y has a long tail and two branches"

3. SUE for denial of access.

That's why it's called a RIGHT.

Here is one history of the FOI bill: "It began late in 1993, few would have been willing then to give what ultimately became the FoI movement a snowball’s chance in hell of making it into the law books. General Sani Abacha was in power and transparent government was not his thing. To drive the point home, he spotted trademark sunshades, even at night..." (by Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, for ThisDay)

And here is an explanation of the law: "You have the right to request for information, whether written or otherwise from a public institution. You don’t have to explain why you need the information and you can even go to court to compel the institution to comply..." (by Funmilayo Akinosi, for NigeriansTalk)
Meanwhile, Ghana is fighting for their FOI law. (Nigeria - 1 , Ghana - 0)

Monday, July 25, 2011

How can I get my dollars direct?

I noticed that there is a gap of over 10% between the official exchange rate and current black-market rate. While the official rate crashed around July 1st to 150naira per US Dollar, your mallam will sell to you not at 153 (for a typical 2% spread) but around 166 (a very atypical 11% difference).
It makes sense that the official rate is low; the dollar is so poorly that no currency has a right to do worse, but how do you explain the high dollar price on the streets? The newspaper (ThisDay) is reporting that this is due to a shortage of dollars created by a Central Bank policy pegging dollar supply to Bureaus Des Change.

If only we could automatically change currency at the points of use, like I used to do with my U.S. Visa debit card. It basically got you any currency - even Naira, at local ATMs - at the best possible exchange rate. But now I have a Nigerian visa card that accomplishes much less. The bank offers a "dual-currency" debit card as well, but the processing time for that application is about four months. They assured me they were not kidding about the length of time, no, it's not a joke. Four month wait for two currencies. Four week wait for 100 currencies --> Let's just say America has a more developed financial services sector than Nigeria.
Meanwhile, with the same currency selling for 150 one way and 166 another way, there is arbitrage, or what my brotha Mr. Bismarck-Rewane termed "a round-tripping paradise."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Can My__ Make It?

The site formerly known as MySpace has fallen so far in traffic rankings that it's now neck-to-neck with the NewYorkTimes (each being around the 85th most visited site in the world)

MySpace is trying to rediscover its "cool", refocusing on artistes (rather than generic social networking).

Can this company pull off the turnaround?
Thoughts: What can they do to be more popular in Nigeria?
How can this work for you?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good tidbits on grassroots investment

We want a wealthier society, in which even the poorest (or at least the median earners) have a dignified lifestyle. Here are some newsbits from around the web that give one hope.

Photo: Smiling Farmer from

1. "We have to go out and get investments and get that money into the country." - Olusegun Aganga, explaining the focus of the Ministry of Trade and Investments. Source: Daily Trust

2. Ndidi Nwuneli, a successful serial NGO founder, has turned her focus to Agriculture. She writes for Business Day every Tuesday on Agriculture, including Eating Beyond Our Means last week, and Transforming Our Farmers into Entrepreneurs on July 13th.

3. EFInA, a Nigerian NGO funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, religiously tracks Access to Banking/Capital/Finance. As most Nigerians remain outside the formal banking sector, and too many are unbanked (formally or informally), EFInA funds ideas that increase financial innovation and access - e.g. through its s-weet Innovation Fund
By the way, here is the EFInA report on the Financial Services Landscape in Nigeria (2010).

4. (Source: Business Day - CBN and small enterprise funding)
The Central bank has earmarked funds for grassroots lending/investment, which include since 2009:
  • N200 billion Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CASS) Fund being channeled to farmers: through state governments to farmers’ cooperatives and unions within their constituencies, and also through private promoters/projects.
  • N200 billion guarantee scheme for new loans to SMEs to be provided at bank’s prime lending rate
  • N500 billion manufacturing and infrastructure (power and airline) intervention fund
  • CBN also set up Entrepreneurship Development Centers, EDCs, to train citizens in locations around the country (see ALF-EDC); as well as a Nigerian Incentive-based risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), to reduce banks’ perception of agriculture as ‘highly risky’ and consequently expand bank lending to the agricultural sector from the current 2% to at least 10% within the next five years.

Should you avoid office politics?

If organizational conflict is inevitable, and you cannot avoid it because it often involves important questions, you need to understand how it typically gets resolved [...] organizational conflicts are resolved through influence. The groups with bosses that have influence will get what they need. Those groups whose bosses lack influence will not.

To be an effective boss, you must influence others -- people and groups over whom you have no formal control -- to get what your group needs and to work for what you believe is best and right. Your own people count on you to do this because they cannot do their work well otherwise. Your organization depends on voices like yours to keep it on the right track.

The best way to build influence is to create ongoing relationships for mutual advantage. There's no reason you cannot do this while holding yourself to high standards of openness, honesty, fairness, and respect.

"Playing politics" and wielding influence in a political environment aren't the same. Ironically, the way to cope with dysfunctional "politics" is to engage others, not avoid them. Hunkering down will only make you less influential and so less effective.

Engage those around you -- not to play political games but to build real bridges -- if you hope to accomplish the work that you believe needs doing. (Read more...)

Source: Why avoiding office conflict is not an option

by Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback for Fortune Magazine

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Borrow Borrow

People keep asking you for small "loans" of money (that they will never pay back), what do you do - A, B, C, or D - which is your favourite answer, and why?

A - Tell them now is not a good time for us to be lending money. We are saving for the kids' college, retirement, or the like. But I am happy to help you get a bank loan or figure out a budget.

B - If the amount is small, I ask what they can do for me. Perhaps they can house-sit and take care of the family pet when you're away, or help paint the house, clean the basement, or build a deck? Sweat labor can pay you back as well.

C - I would tell my sibling that I won't be his or her finance company anymore, but that each of the previous loans is now a gift and that I don't expect repayment.

D - If I can afford to help (a family member), I feel it is my responsibility to do so. But rather than continue to get nickel-and-dimed, I would sit down with them and look at giving a lump sum for the year with no other asks allowed during that period.

Source: Lending money to family members, at CNN Money Magazine:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

15 TRILLION Naira target

Mr. Olusegun Aganga just resumed his new job as Nigeria's Minister for Commerce and Investment. He was Minister of Finance before being returned to this new (post-election) cabinet.

According to him, the mandate of the Ministry is to contribute to the financing of the Nigerian economy by raising N15 trillion naira from the private sector. I think the job description fits his background, and thus I expect a resounding success.

There have been other ideal appointments to the cabinet as well, notably the return of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head the Ministry of Finance. It's not just hype, she will be a good shepherd of the Nigerian economy (I don't mean taking us to the slaughter though :)

Monday, July 04, 2011

The mood

On the one hand, people are working hard and innovating. There is a lot of motion in the streets. There is a lot of "starting up" and a lot of competition.

A painting (unknown title) depicting workers, by Olumide Oresegun

On the other hand, many people have no money - they are unemployed, or they have worked and not received pay. Wondering if we will get there - will Nigeria be wealthy in the near future? I have a good feeling...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Broke Habit

Glory Edozien writes at :

Personally, I have learnt the hard way to live within my means. Days of over spending on credit cards only to find that Loui and Gucci cannot pay my food and light bill. So, today, if I see something I cannot afford, I just say to myself “one day, Glory, one day” and move along. But this was not a lesson I learnt easily. Not at all. There was a time when I would spend all my weekly earning in three days and live the remaining four days feeling miserable, vowing to be smarter the following week only to repeat the same mistake in record time!

(Read more more more...)

Another friend of mine recently threw her 30th birthday dinner at a popular location on the Island. Endless bottles of champagne and food for all! She must have had over 30 people present and she kept asking everyone to order as they wished on her. I thought nothing of it at the time, after all not all fingers are equal. Two days after the party, this same friend called and asked for a rather huge loan, which she would payback in monthly installments. I assumed she must have bankrupted herself after her lavish party and willing obliged her without asking many questions. Only to later learn that she had borrowed similar amounts from mutual friends’ months before and was yet to repay.

When I approached her on the issue, she explained that she was trying to gather shopping money for her regular summer trip overseas and would repay all debts on her return. To say I was perplexed, would be an understatement. This is a girl, who has what I imagine to be a well paid job, and constantly has some designer gear straddled on her limbs. I couldn’t understand why she would need to live a life that was clearly well beyond her means.

(Source is Young, Fabulous and FLAT BROKE! )

Analysis: Do I have a broke habit?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

African Development Bank wants you!

For the internship programme, an opportunity to acquire professional and practical experience at the African Development Bank, apply here from July 2011.

Older folk should apply for the Ibrahim Foundation Leadership Fellowship position at the bank.

More AfDB jobs.

Africa's trading partners: traditional and emerging

China overtook the United States as Africa’s number one trading partner in 2009. Africa’s trade volumes with its emerging partners have doubled in nominal value over the decade and now amount to 37% of Africa´s total trade. Africa’s top five emerging trade partners are now China (38 percent), India (14 percent), Korea (7.2 percent), Brazil (7.1 percent) and Turkey (6.5 percent). (Source: AfDB)

Europe and North America's trade share has quickly eroded, but they still account for more than half of Africa’s trade and foreign investment stock, and their economic health remains key to Africa’s growth performance.

Nevertheless, Africa’s rebalancing act turns the page on 50 years of over-reliance on the West, a period sometimes dubbed the post-colonial era. Links with the traditional partners face profound changes. (More about Africa's emerging partners in African Economic Outlook 2011)

Monday, June 06, 2011

New gig, wish us luck

Sample ad: Clearing and shipping in Nigerian ports covers Nigerian Lifestyle A-Z: Arts, Books, Cuisine, Directions, Entertainment, Fashion, Gigs, Heritage, Innovation, Jindadi, Koko, Love, Music, Nollywood, Opinions, Painting, Quality, Restaurants, Shopping, Travel, Vintage, Women, x2, Youth, Zen. Try it.

To advertise, contact

Hajiya Murjanatu employs 120 selling kunu and zobo

'I engage 120 northern boys to keep them off the street'

The business she started over eight years ago with little or no capital by making kunu (a special northern drink made from corn) and zobo drink, has turned her to an employer of labour, thus contributing to the growth of the Nigerian economy in her own way.

“I started this business out of frustration when my husband stopped me from working. My husband stopped me from work in order to take care of the children while he goes out to work. I thought of how I would be sitting down without doing nothing and that was how I started making kunu, zobo and frying doughnuts, puff-puff and giving them to the boys to sell for me and gradually I started buying beverages in little quantities and later I graduated into buying from the company and today I am a major distributor for some of these companies" (...Read more at

What do you think about this entrepreneurship story? And how about the restriction on her movement?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Treasures from DLA

Sometime in March this year I was opportune to attend the Daystar Leadership Academy (DLA). It was the Basic Leadership Class. I had a fulfilling experience I must confess. Firstly, I had always wanted to do this, so having it ticked off my goal list was very satisfying and secondly because of the knowledge gained and the enriching networking opportunities.

As fulfilling as it was, it was a stretch program. There were rules to be followed, tests to be written and most especially mindsets to be changed. It took me incorporating early attendance (which was mandatory) with my regular morning school runs. We were taken on courses like Personal Transformation, Success Habits, Excellence Oriented Organization, Organisational Growth, Project Management, Systems Development, Family Success, Delegation Strategies amongst others.

An article would not be adequate to do justice to all I’ve learnt, but I would share some key ones in this post. I also encourage as many as can attend this Leadership/Management Program to do as well or any other recommended ones. If not for the certificate, it would be an opportunity to gather so much knowledge in a short time on leading people or an organization.

The first lesson that dawned on me at the beginning of the program was the essence of leadership. I learnt that there are many misconceptions about it which has somewhat resulted in the abuse of it over time and in many settings, from homes to organizations and the government.

It is not about titles, but about the tasks performed
It is not about status, but about service
It is not about consumption, but about contribution
It is not about cohesion, but ensuring cooperation
It is not about intimidation, but about inspiration
It is not about manipulation, but about motivation
It is not about lording over people, but loving people
It is not about being a celebrity, but a role of responsibility

In other words, if you are performing relevant/key tasks, serving sincerely, contributing valuably, enhancing cooperation in a team and inspiring or motivating some person other than yourself, if you never knew it before, you have been leading. I for one, used to think (while I worked) that since the organization’s organogram didn’t place me in a “specific - titled” role, then I wasn’t being challenged to develop my leadership potentials and couldn’t give so much as a leader. However, I discovered that in the capacity with which I had somewhat influenced individuals, junior colleagues, peers and teams towards the achievement of a goal, I had served as a leader.

Another lesson I took away from the program, is that SUCCESS IS WHO YOU ARE. In essence, your nature determines the success that can be achieved. It is not merely in the doing but in being. That is why sometimes we see some people whose status or achievement we covet, and the first thing we try to do to succeed like they have is just copy exactly what they do. This often leads to frustration in the long term because we are somewhat working against our nature.

To do something you have never done before, you must become someone you have never being before. The first point of call is changing or developing your person, and then the doing will automatically follow. More often than not, your person is tied to your mindsets; for the journey from grass to grace is an Internal Trip. The challenge here is to so work on your inside, challenge and correct those wrong or limiting mindsets, discover truths, develop your mind, that your outside would be struggling to catch up with it. Even if the outside isn’t changing in the short term, in good time, it will align.

The last but definitely not the least of all my take-aways is the bit on Self Improvement under the Success Habit Course. I am a freak, fanatic, stickler (what other vocabulary is there?) for personal development. I believe in becoming a better you and not settling for the status quo, challenging yourself continually. So it was quite interesting to learn more on this. One of the major activities on self improvement is reading /studying. Earl Nightingale said many years ago that “one hour per day of study in your chosen field was all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do”. The tasks with this are to identify that area you want to be good at and then develop the staying power to keep at it. I study an average of 7hours/week now, but on different interests. However, I intend to pick my area of passion and make sure, I top up on it regularly.

On a final note, to gather information is great, but to do with what-you-know is greater. I have tried to instill a practice of noting down action points from every book I read and training program I attend. The fewer they are the better and with deadlines. That way I can experience immediate value from a learning. I encourage you on this, as well as the pearls I have shared. On our own we may not be able, but definitely with God we can.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Indonesia, USA, Canada...and Nigeria tops Entrepreneur Favorable Survey

Quite a bit of interesting news here and good one too on Nigeria & Entrepreneurship. A recent survey of countries concluded Indonesia is perceived best by her people to be favorable for starting business. According to the BBC, "there were also plenty of developing economies that came out as pro-entrepreneur - India, China and Nigeria were also perceived by their own people as relatively favourable places for new businesses" 

Nice to know...perhaps we need to start believing more in ourselves and sharing this bit of optimism internally!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Site visitors can say thank you

Most of you blog for the sake of sharing your thoughts and opinions, however a little side income is like an unexpected gift.
Google has just released a new gadget that allows readers to directly contribute to your blog. Setup is only five simple steps and should only take a few minutes of your time

Add a virtual tip jar like this to your blog
Originally posted to Blogger Buzz by Peng Ying, Developer Programs Engineer

Previously on UpNaira