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Wednesday, 25 April 2018



Its really unfortunate how things have been twisted out of context. The more i read on this matter of PMB statement on Nigerian youths the closer i move to the verdict of hopelessness on our ability to solve the pertinent problems we have as a country with the kind of politics we play. I have read opinions of people who don't even have a clue on the objective of the forum where PMB spoke and the context.

I watched and listened to the clip for the first time and I was thoroughly embarrassed that i have been involved in a needless debate without watching the video. I became even more sorry for our country. We have a huge population of easily manipulated people who can be told black is white and who will buy it simply because it trends on social media.

In the first place, that was a forum to talk about investment in your country Nigeria. Mr President simply played the role of the Chief Marketing Officer. Whether in foreign or local investment solicitation, the first thing that investors check out is your understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the company, the business or the market. After watching the video clip, I was particularly impressed that PMB, in a very short statement, addressed the strength of Nigeria, it's weaknesses and also made effort to allay fears and to assure that the weaknesses are being addressed.

He mentioned the 180million population and emphasised a few times that it's even a conservative estimate. That is to tell investors that here's a huge market I'm presenting to you. Not only that, he directed attention to the fact that it's a youthful population and the implication of this is that Nigeria is a market you can have 30 years outlook on and project for as long. He deliberately mentioned age 30 and below and the implication of this is that even the oldest in that bracket has as least 30 years of productivity ahead. For discerning investors, even if it is 30% of this 180million that is of good quality and productive, that figure is likely to be more than 3 average countries in population or 3 markets as some may like to put it. You also have a long duration to correct the weaknesses. Within 30 years, the more of that population that becomes productive the better for investment. It's therefore a delight for investors any day despite its challenges.

Of course he did not have a choice but to state the apparent weaknesses of the country some of which have been published by many international organisations and which many of us know to be a fact. We have read everywhere about the number of children out of school, the number of youths that are either unemployed or unemployable. We have read about the agitations in the Niger Delta and amnesty program. We have read about people breaking pipelines. They are not new discoveries by investors who would have done their due diligence and had access to independent reports. PMB only told investors that we have a young population with entitlement mentality. Stating it as it is was meant to earn trust as someone investors can work with to solve the problems in the interest of their investment. Trust is key here and i think PMB earned it more at that forum. He was not out to please Nigerians. That was not a forum for it.

One key thing that investors look out for is the sincerity, integrity and credibility of the CEO, leader or head of state. I have seen potential investments withdrawn simply because the investors did not trust the CEO or find him insincere on the situation of the company. In the most difficult period of a bank i attracted as much as $200m in foreign investment. It was simple. We owned up to the problems and had a clear cut and practical strategy towards solving them and a key part in that strategy was the foreign investment which if brought in could give investors capital gain in excess of 50% within 5 years all things being equal. The CEO was not so comfortable that we should disclose but trusted my judgement. It would have done Nigeria a great harm if Mr President did shy away from our apparent weaknesses. He was however quick to mention that it is being addressed and said something about the Minister of Education being asked questions on it in the past and that there's improvement from the past. He also tried to play it down by linking it to the country being oil producing so that it's not seen as cultural and therefore can be corrected. The flip side of this disclosure is that even the investors could help attract donor funds towards addressing those weaknesses of many youths poorly educated, unemployable and with wrong orientation.

To reduce the effect of those weaknesses in the psyche of some and present even a stronger case, PMB mentioned that Shell is investing $15billion in that same market that has these weaknesses. $15billion is not small investment even in the US. Shell is also not a frivolous investor. They have stringent investment criteria and detailed due process. Many investors use them as investment compass. It was a masterpiece from PMB.

Let me also point out that investors are not looking for the garden of Eden where everything is bliss to invest in. They know that markets and businesses will always have challenges. What they are looking for is the business owner's understanding and appreciation of the problems, accept responsibility for them and to be assured that something is being done to address them and that the problems are getting the top hierarchy's attention. In a very short marketing speach PMB was able to achieve all these.

The normal thing I'm used to is for people to look for the meaning of a complex word. It's rare for people to put a sentence together and look for a word to replace it. No where in that video did Mr President mention the word lazy. And I'm sure many of the people condemning PMB are too "lazy" to look for the video, play and watch. Most people relied on the decision of the mob. Unfortunately, irresponsible and destructive politics has made many to lose their sense of objectivity. What should be applauded is being condemned. Mediocrity is the new smart in Nigeria. Even issues that are technical every Nigerian is an expert on it. The bandwagon and mob effect dominate our environment because many are too "lazy" to use their brains and double check on anything. We keep making mockery of ourselves. We created hashtag and posters for something needless. We tell the world that Mr President should have lied or should have been economical with the truth and they in turn see us as a deceptive people which is even worse than a lazy youthful population that we condemn the president for saying. So, when our youths get to their embassies and they doubt every single one of their claims we wonder and complain.

May God save Nigeria.

*This is just AA thinking differently about the issues that come up in Nigeria.*

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