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Square Pegs and Round Holes

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Politics

The Population and Productivity Hack

Let me start by painting a scenario. Imagine that Shell Oil Company has 2000 employees living and working in a camp estate with their families, like we saw whilst growing up in Warri. The camp is then designed to handle a reasonable population in terms of municipal services like built infrastructure, medicals, recreation, security and education, etc.

 
Think what would happen when the reward system used in promoting and remunerating employees change. Imagine that they now make the population of each home to carry a weight thrice as much as the work output of the employee who is the head of that home as a measure for promotion? Basically, an employee gets more because he has more children. Though he still gets an increase based on his work output, but that’s only a third of what he gets from his size.

 
What do you think would happen in that work estate?

 
1]. People would struggle to outbreed one another and the population would keep shooting up

2]. The population count in each home would be subject to attempts at manipulation

3]. There would be mutual distrust, tensions and unhealthy clamouring

4]. Productivity would drop among the folks who still prefer keeping a sustainable size

5]. Municipal services would find it hard keeping up and even those who maintained common sense would suffer. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

6]. The company’s combined wealth would continue to drop, etc.

 
This is our situation today with the current revenue allocation formula to states. The incentive for IGR is about 10% while the one for population count is 30%. This also includes a 13% derivation to oil states not captured here.

 
Our current revenue allocation formula does not encourage productivity. When we speak about “structure”, this is one of the simple ones that keeps us up at night. We need to reverse this in a space of 15 years to population having 5% and IGR effort having 35%. We can do this by moving 5% sideways every 5 years until we arrive at that number.

 
If we do this, we would see states digging deep to explore their human and geographical resources for wealth generation and development. They would drive their own ease of doing business indices. We would have a fairer census figure and manipulation and political pressures would be less. We would see states champion family planning. Local political leaders (governors, HOA and LG) will also be better scrutinized by the electorate, rather than focusing on Abuja. Our collective national productivity and wealth will grow.

 
From 1947 till date, the revenue allocation formula between the tiers of government has been reviewed 12 times. This is 2017 and we are ripe for another one. Hopefully, as suggested here, we get one that turns our states into production rather than consumption centres.

 

 

SAN

King Abdullah of Jordan

The picture below depicts my summary of the series of events, circa Feb 2015, between Jordan and ISIS.

IMG_0104[1]

 

SAN

See more details on the badassrey of King Abdullah here.

 

Issue Voting

2019 will see the rise of the issue voter in Nigeria. Most people will be focused on issues like security, the economy, rule of law, corruption, poverty reduction, provision of infrastructure, etc. This is a progressive way to select preferred candidates after aggregating their performance on the core issues important to the voter. It is mostly subjective as the voter sees the performance from the prism of how these issues affect them. For instance, if the second Niger bridge is not completed in four years, there might be a voter backlash from residents of the South East regardless of the advances made in delivering, say the Kano-Lagos or the Calabar-Lagos rail lines, power sector reform goals, etc.

 

Some will still vote based on hang-ups of 2015 and the other ethnic colorations and the other non-progressive markers that exist everywhere there are people with differences.  That will most never leave world politics. On the other hand there will be some who will be single issue voters. These are the ones that will focus on just one issue dear to their heart and not even care about the candidates performance on the other equally if not more important issues.

 

I will be a single issue voter in 2019. I will focus on an issue that is dear to me. I will not bother too much about the other ones. I will leave those to you. Also, I believe the government will do well on the critical indices given the opportunities that abound and within the context of local and global constraints.

 

My single issue will be sensitivity. Is that progressive? I’m not sure, but that’s where my heart leads me.

 

SAN

The Yes Men

One time I was involved in some civil construction work. Through it I met many artisans, equipment and materials vendors and all kinds of professionals.
I had one artisan/sub-contractor who I will call Tunde. He was very good at his job. His English was not perfect, but I understood all his text messages and quotes. He could use technology. He would proactively shoot me pictures to explain a point and show progress. He was very loyal and supportive. I came to trust him because he had many opportunities to cheat me or withhold what belonged to me and each time he passed the test with shinning colours.
But he had one problem. Let me explain.
Whenever we went out to select materials together, he would agree with all my choices.
“Oga this one good. I like am”.
“That one too sef good”.
“Yes, you fit take this one too if you like am. E fine well well”.
Me: But I bring you here because na you be expert. You need to tell me the reason why one better pass another one so that I go fit choose”
Tunde : OK Oga. Which one you like out of all of them? That one? OK. Na im fine pass. Make we buy that one. E go last and e fine.”
Very exasperating, to say the least.
So I stopped taking him out to select materials. I would ask him for the qualifying parameters prior to my store visits and then just go out and make a choice.
Then I would return and say “Wetin you think of this one?”
Him: Ah, Oga you get taste o, you sabi better thing o! This one dey very good. Na the best one”
And when I make an obvious error in giving work direction? He would not correct me. So it happened that we spent a lot of money to buy a material that was not suited for the specific application it was to be used for and it failed. It cost money and more materials to remove it, get a different one and return to the site. So I asked him how come he later spoke like he knew that was going to happen. Yet he watched me through the decision phase to implementation and never stopped me or expressed a word of caution? Did he know how much that cost us in time, money and opportunity?
Tunde: Oga no vex Sir. I no want make you vex. I too believe you. I too small to correct you. Who I be for where you dey?” No vex Sir!
Me: Your job na to work for me and also advise when I dey go wrong. If you continue like this I go terminate our agreement and get someone else. Make you no fear me abeg. Na you know your work pass me. Na you be the expert. I go listen to you. Na you dey see wetin I no dey see. Dey tell me as e be every time abeg, you hear?
Tunde: Yes sir!
It was a work in progress still. Sigh.
SAN

The Naked King

 

 

emperors_new_clothes1.jpg

Once upon a time there was an Emperor who loved clothes! And he loved clothes so much that he would get changed twelve times a day.

One day, two strangers arrived at the Emperor’s palace.

“We can make you the most beautiful clothes in the world” they said.

For weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks the strangers worked on the clothes and wouldn’t let anybody see what they were doing. But the Emperor grew impatient;

“Where are the new clothes I have paid you to make,” demanded the Emperor!

“But they are right here, Your Majesty,” said the first stranger. “What do you think? Aren’t they made of the most delightful material, the most sparkling colours and the most fashionable design?”

The Emperor looked around confused; he couldn’t see anything!

“I can’t see any clothes at all,” the Emperor said.

“These,” the strangers said. “These clothes are so special and rare that only the cleverest people can see them. They are too fine to be seen by stupid and ignorant people; that is the magic of these amazing new clothes!”

“Oh of course, of course” said the Emperor quickly (not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant). “They are beautiful; this is just what I’ve always wanted! I’m sure my new clothes will be greatly admired by all of my people.

The Emperor promised to pay the strangers anything they wanted if they would have the new clothes ready for the big parade. He wanted everybody in the kingdom to see them!

The day of the big parade came and the two strangers presented the Emperor with his new clothes.

“Everyone will admire you, Your Majesty.  The new clothes look most wonderful,” said the strangers.

By this time the word had got out that these new clothes were so special that they could only be seen by clever people and, not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant, all the Emperor’s friends said…

“How beautiful!  What colours! What style! Your new clothes are magnificent, Your Majesty!”

“Oh dear,” thought the Emperor. “All my friends can see my new clothes but I can’t. Does this mean I’m stupid and ignorant and not fit to be Emperor? I will have to pretend I can see them so that nobody thinks I’m stupid. No-one can know the truth!”

When it was time for the big parade the Emperor put on his new clothes, said “Follow me” to his friends, and marched out of his palace and onto the street.

Crowds of people lined the road and watched the Emperor and the big parade. There were knights on horseback, huge elephants with jewels and smartly dressed soldiers parading along the street. But the star attraction of the big parade were the Emperor’s new clothes! The crowds had all heard that only clever people could see the Emperor’s new clothes and, not wanting to appear stupid or ignorant, they all said:

“What a lovely outfit!” “Doesn’t he look smart!” “How lovely are the Emperor’s new clothes!”

The Emperor was very pleased that everyone was admiring his new clothes, even if he couldn’t see them himself!

Suddenly, a little voice from the crowd shouted out…

“Hang on! He’s got nothing on! The Emperor’s as naked as the day he was born!”

A hushed silence fell over the crowd and the big parade stopped… Then… Everyone suddenly burst out laughing!

“The little boy’s right,” they said. “The Emperor hasn’t got any clothes on!”

The Emperor blushed and went red. They were right… He wasn’t wearing any clothes at all!”

“Pass me a cloak,” he ordered one of his friends. “I must return to the palace and put some clothes on! I should never have trusted those strangers that only wanted to flatter me and take my money!”

From that day on, the Emperor gave the little boy an important job in his palace because he was the only person that had told the truth. And, whenever the Emperor needed advice he would always ask the little boy first.

_________________________________________________________________

Lesson:

Let our leaders know the truth always. This way, they will have the right information to better serve us. When we keep pretending that all is well without pointing them to the issues and ensuring they attack it with the right urgency, we mislead them and the problem lingers. An example in point is how they kept GEJ blind to the realities of the missing Chibok girls for 17 days! Never shield them from reality. If you do so, they will fail and end up in shame. Guess who suffers a failure in governance?

Ask yourself, on this new march with Buhari, are we doing the same things?

SAN

(Adapted from H. C Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”)

http://www.worldstories.org.uk/stories/story/65-the-emperors-new-clothes

 

Image source: Jacoby & Stuart (2013).

 

 

Today Was a Good Day

The following describes a day in the life of some opposition bloggers and how they respond to  news.

“Nigerian troops kill Boko Haram fighters”

  • You frown. It can’t be true. They must be Cameroonian or Chadian troops. You zoom your screen and scrutinize their uniforms and tags…go check more weblinks. Off to EgbereTV for counter information…none found. You are sad. You find an old one on a bomb and you quickly share it. Nonsense! How can the army be winning? Mschew!

“NNPC Warri and Kaduna refineries closed. Escravos crude oil and gas pipelines blown by militants”.

  • Yes!!! Good news! Serves them right. I told you they could not govern successfully. They can’t even guard our pipelines! Just before you share the story, NEPA takes light and darkness distracts you. You go and pour your last four litres of petrol and start your gen to continue your gleeful sharing of the news. It did not occur to you that the gas turbine in the power plant serving you had to be shut down due to that pipeline sabotage…that was why your power was cut.

“New York Times says Buhari government monetary policy is un-effective and will damage the economy”.

  • More smiles. Quickly share the news story. Tweet it and go round all your friend’s pages making comments about how clueless the president is. Yet you do not bother to read the news report to understand the specific parts of the policy they have an issue with and use your advantage of local knowledge to judge to see if they are right or if their conclusion is one borne of our interest or of that of the foreign bodies they are affiliated to, etc.

“Iran warns Buhari about his treatment of Shia Muslims”.

  • See them. Iran is warning them now. If they like they should not behave themselves. When we told them the COAS should have turned back and come to pass another day, they did not listen. In fact I pray that Iran attacks us so they learn a lesson. Share the news one time. It does not matter to you that a warning from Iran on our internal matter, purely motivated by their affiliation to a religious movement, is an insult to our (collective) national psyche and sovereignty.

Aaah…you are tired. You plug your phone to charge. That was enough good news for one day. You got to post four big ones. You were right after all. This government is not working. Your gen runs out of petrol and stutters to silence. More darkness. Heat. Sweat starts. You swat a mosquito. You still manage to sleep…because you are happy. This country is not working under Buhari. You shall wake up to more tales of woe from EgbereTV, TrentOnline, Scannews, TheHerald_dotcom and the walls of your favourite Facebook grand cyclops and instigators…this thought comforts you as you snooze off.

 

SAN

Of Presidential Mind Readers and Vuvuzelas

President Buhari is fast becoming the luckiest president Nigeria has ever had. While he’s definitely one of the most taciturn, he manages to  get an unending league of social media commentators divining his every move, what he’s thinking, why he would do this and when he would do that, telling us about his (secret) economic policies and vision for the country, etc. All this from his body language. The reading of silence is a skill that has now been mastered by Nigerians.

Even the minister of petroleum, his deputy and the spokespersons for the relevant petroleum product distributing agencies have had their jobs usurped.  Folks are now telling us the root and immediate causes of the protracted fuel scarcity and when it’ll be resolved. Even the usually vociferous Lai Mohammed has now lost his information portfolio to these same folks.  It has been taken by fire by force.

If I were the president,  I would fire Garba Shehu and Adesina. He has more than enough willing spokespersons who are already working for free. After all, we are in a cost saving season, abi?

One question for the Ototas, when are we selling the jets? “The jets? use your sense na, that’s why he traveled to Iran na…private jets now have strong market in the Gulf because of the….”

Phew!

SAN

The Ignorant Electorate: A Danger to Democracy

 

I have heard it said a population with low intellect may not be capable of making beneficial decisions.  We saw this played out in the last elections and previous ones before it.
Let us take a quick look at what happened in Kogi state, from party primaries all the way to the main elections. When a people are presented with more than a dozen candidates from diverse backgrounds, track records and political party affiliation and yet make the election one between the devil and the deep blue sea, then they have only themselves to blame. This is not just about Wada/Audu. Several others voted drug barons and failed governors to represent them in the NASS, past and present.
Until the electorate is largely enlightened and made to understand the real reasons for voting and what politicians are supposed to do for them, they shall continue to elect the most benevolent thieves and incompetents and not necessarily the ones with either proven (good) track records or with noble intentions.
The voter must be made aware that, by that singular act of selecting a candidate via the ballot, they have been offered a chance to determine the positive or negative outcome of the next four years of government intervention in their lives. They must also be mature enough to live with the consequences while basing their next voting attempt on the lessons learned from the last one.
To grow our democracy to where the impact will be felt in governance and national development, agencies charged with national orientation must make voter education an utmost priority.
An ignorant electorate is the Achilles heel of democracy.

 

SAN

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