A CHAIN ACTION FOR CHANGE
Someone sent this document to me for publication. He was sincere enough to tell me that it is not his original document but was seen online. With all due respect to the unregistered owner, I am publishing it to help raise the consciousness that the change we desire is in the custody of all of us, not just the government nor the richest amongst us. We can all play a role in bringing about a revolution of rapid progress right from our little daily tasks.
Here it goes:
I used to criticize owners of private companies like Dangote Group who hire so many Indians while there are many unemployed Nigerians, but now I understand their painful decision.
The biggest challenge in our manufacturing businesses is not power or infrastructure, the biggest challenge is getting an honest workforce. Everyone we hire seems to be on a mission to steal as much as possible – from inflated invoices, recording less than the actual number of units produced to actual theft of products. Start something as easy to track as a poultry farm and they will steal your eggs. Some will even go ahead and kill the chickens so that they are allowed to take them home. Start an entertainment/viewing/gaming center and they will pocket your money. On the days you run the business yourself, the proceeds would be 10 times more than when you are not there; because they are eating your money and eating their future.
Buy and lease a vehicle to a driver to use and watch as they finish you off.
Start a restaurant, the same thing will happen. More than half of the total food ingredients will end up in their personal kitchens. Even the regular grocery store or kiosk attendants will find a way to steal from the small investors. You will hear them justifying their perversity by saying, “The goat grazes where it is tied.” What an error!
Imagine people justifying theft at work, killing their own jobs and the development of Nigeria. You will see these people poking their twisted fingers at politicians when they are no different. I sincerely believe that the reason most Nigerians haven’t stolen billions of government money is simply lack of opportunity.
The few honest Nigerians, both in government and in the private sector, are considered stupid.
They are not stupid. They are what Nigeria desperately and painfully needs.
How are we going to evolve when those who are supposed to oversee and manage stores, kiosks, supermarkets, factories, schools, hospitals, water works, road construction, street cleaning, power plants, bus fleets, parking collections, building construction, etc., are the ones who conspire to steal from small local investors, large local investors, governments and foreign investors? How will we evolve when our school principals are the ones plotting to steal school supplies, school fees and school food etc.? How will we evolve when our hospital officials are the ones who plot to steal medicine, beds, sheets, blankets, food, consultation fees, etc.? How will we evolve when the officials responsible for ensuring and enforcing standards and reducing cost estimates are those who conspire with local and foreign contractors to inflate costs and reduce work standards to steal public money for personal gain?
At all levels, “Nigerians are Nigeria’s problem. Cry, our beloved country.
The worst part of this is that all of the fraud we’ve uncovered is not committed by one person, it’s usually multiple staff members colluding with each other, from production to sales to finance, even management. I reviewed my company management three times in one year. It got so bad at one point that my main criteria for hiring staff were no longer competence and certificates, but honesty. I figured that skills and abilities can be acquired, but once a person is dishonest, he is beyond repair.
We always complain about the economy and the fact that there are no jobs, people are not helping others to start up or leverage. I know people abroad who would love to start job-creating businesses in Nigeria and Africa, but they can’t because they find it difficult to get a trustworthy person to run the business.
I know people in Nigeria with some good money, they want to start factories and other job-creating businesses, but they can’t because they are busy elsewhere and can’t get someone they trust to run the business. So instead of investing in the real sector and creating jobs, they will just buy treasury bills, while the ‘self- saboteurs’ scream ‘no jobs and no food.’
I bet big Nigerian organizations like Dangote can set up shop in several African country and create millions of jobs, but I believe corruption and dishonesty at the very top is what keeps them from helping Nigeria and Africa. Many great companies would be established and built up in Nigeria if we could engage in partnerships but we can’t because you can’t trust anyone, so we end up with small and very small businesses. Even siblings can hardly run a business together. The dying or dead super stores in Nigeria that would have become the likes of Walmart are a great example. This is an advantage that the Indians and Lebanese have over us in Nigeria and Africa; they can pool resources and build mega-businesses.
In my opinion, the simple reason why Rwanda is a rising star in Africa is that Rwandans and foreign development partners and investors know that the country’s top leadership cannot accept dishonesty in both public and private service. This can be replicated across the continent, if we choose, if we all play our parts.
Nigerians need to wake up and rethink Nigeria and this applies to all African countries.
Nigerians at all levels and jobs, from the sweeper to the craftsman, the salesman, the storekeeper, the driver, the tea/coffee maker, the purchasing manager, the governor, the minister, the commissioner, the accountant, the nurse, the doctor, the cook, the painter, the builder, the legislator, the care-giver must be honest and upright for the sake of Nigeria.
By being dishonest, we violate Nigeria. Some foreign elements know our dishonesty and so they come to Nigeria to join us and steal our vast natural resources.
Who will save us from ourselves?
Nigeria can rise again. Let Nigerians arise and be counted as a people.
The time is now.
Fatherhood with Ibe
MY INHERITANCE, OUR ENTITLEMENT
He was always your quintessential show man. Olorogun, as everyone called him, but James to his closest friends, was what people would describe as the life of the party. He was charming, funny, eloquent and dependable. He was many things to many people but he was certainly blessed and gifted in many ways.
It was a rainy Sunday morning and I was getting ready for the 10am Catholic service when the phone rang. I was running late and neglected the call, putting effort into getting ready on time for service. But the caller persisted. I glanced at my phone, it was not a number l recognized so I ignored it again, picked my bible and the phone and hurried downstairs. Just then the heaven opened up and the rains came down in measured intermittent downpours. I got to the living room and decided it would make no sense going out in the rain to the church. I was already running late and may not find a seat inside. I didn’t want to have to worship from the veranda of the church and face God’s rainfall backlash for being so late.
I made myself comfortable in the sitting room and tuned to the regular Catholic service on the TV, thankful that modern technology had made things that easy. The phone rang again and again. I decided to pick up.
“Good morning,” I greeted in a not-too-welcoming tone.
Amidst the crackled sounds in the distance a voice came on after three ‘hello’ efforts.
“This is Omisore, Sir.”
“Omisore?” I queried. I couldn’t put an identity to that name.
“Olorogun’s son, Sir!” He explained.
“Olorogun James?” I asked as recognition dawned inside me. Omisore was James’ 35 year old son, the oldest of his 10 children from three wives.
“Yes Sir,” he responded calmly and then burst into a wail.
“My father is gone, Sir. Olorogun is gone.” He said, spluttering like someone who had been crying for a while. The phone fell from my hands. I hoped I’d heard wrongly. Shaking with apprehension, I picked up the phone.
“What did you say happened?” I queried, wishing for once that I was being pranked.
“He collapsed in his room this morning.” Omisore responded dully. “Seun, his second wife was the one with him.”
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed as tears ran unchecked down my face. “Why would he die now that he has fully recovered from his surgery? No, God, please.” I muttered, distraught.
I heard Omisore sniffle at the other end and I knew that I had to pull myself together and take practical steps.
‘Where is he now?” I asked, unable to visualise James as anything but alive and active.
‘Still here, Sir. We are all so confused.” He replied.
‘Ok, I am coming right away.” I replied and summoned my driver.
As I raced to James’ huge palace off Queen’s Drive in Ikoyi, I started pondering what would happen next and how much confusion would rain amongst his large immediate family and his unwieldy extended family…. I shook my head and tried to focus on the moment and leave the confusion of the future to cool its heels in the background.
(To be continued)