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TheOctagonYouthSpeak on the educational system vs the job market

Posted on: November 28th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon: Welcome To The Octagon.

We appreciate you taking time out to join this chat session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?

Femi: I am ‘Femi Akinseye, a 300 level Mass communication student at the University of Lagos. I am a part-time creative writer and voice-over artist. I also doodle in my notebook. I am very passionate about politics.

Beatrice: I am Nwoko Beatrice, a student of Mass Communication, university of Lagos. I am a motivational speaker. I love kids and music.

Afolabi: My name is Afolabi Oluwatosin Oluwabusayo, a student of mass communication, Unilag

Aramide: I am Ayinla Aramide. I’m a 300level student of sociology.

Adeola: I am Adeola Omotoye, a 300 level student of Mass Communication.

Shittu: Good evening everyone. I am Shittu Adedoyin. A student of Philosophy.

Inioluwa:  Hi guys, my name is IniOluwa and I am a passionate person focused on community development and nation building.

The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions. Our topic today is around the Educational System Vs Job Market.

The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is alarming and this is no news to even students still seeking admission into the universities. There is however, the hope that after the four years in school, an individual will get the opportunity to not only be hired but also get paid really well.

There is has also been the discussion that many companies complain about the quality of students finishing from Nigerian schools as they do not meet up with requirements and standards.

Do you believe that the educational system is adequately preparing you for the job market? Give reasons for your response.

Aramide: No. I mean there are courses that are offered in Nigerian Universities, where those who graduated with a degree cannot get a decent job. They usually have to switch courses for a second degree. The educational curriculum has not been reviewed in years, and it’s still breeding clerks and teachers rather than professionals. Undergraduates are not trained according to the needs of the modern Nigerian society, but according to years of repeated schemes of work. Also, the budget allocated towards education is nothing to write home about. Education is the bedrock of society, and it breeds other social institutions. But even the minister of education is clueless about managing the system. The reality is that not everyone needs to go to University. University has been seen as the yardstick for greatness, but I think Polytechnics are even more important – they teach technical and vocational skills that a graduate can use in the work force. Yet, people attend Polytechnics as a last resort to avoid staying at home. The educational system is in Shambles.

Beatrice: I think we need re-orientation. Most students just study to pass. No practicals, no genuine interest in what they’re doing. Most kids are forced to go to school. Not everyone is cut out for Formal Education.

ADEOLA: But we can’t exactly say the educational system is not preparing us because without the knowledge acquired there, we won’t understand the field of study we are pursuing. Then again, the situation of the country is not helping our educational standards because most people don’t use their acquired skills at their jobs

FEMI: It’s no news that well over half the students that graduate from Nigerian universities remain unemployed for a while. While we understand that there are hardly any jobs in the labour market and the government doesn’t really have any clear policy in place to combat that, the real question remains ARE THESE GRADUATE EMPLOYABLE?

The simple answer is no. At least a vast majority aren’t.

Our educational system is structured in such a way that the students right from secondary school are bombarded with information that is most likely irrelevant to their eventual career paths and they aren’t even given adequate orientation concerning the various available university courses to choose from and most importantly what to consider when making a choice.

These students eventually leave secondary schools and proceed to the University without a proper understanding of what they want to study and what they’ll do with what they’ve studied.

After getting the admission, they’re faced with a university curriculum that is archaic and outdated to say the least. They are also taught by lecturers who really have little or no field experience and are not in tune with modern day requirements for success.

It’s hardly possible for anyone to graduate with enough skills required to succeed in this kind of system, hence the unemployability.

ARAMIDE: True talk. I think students need to know that university education is not a do or die affair. If there are quality Fashion schools, Art schools and other vocational colleges, people would complain less about unemployment. Most business schools in Nigeria are only accessible to students who studied Business Admin as their first degree. Nigeria probably has the highest number of Primary and Secondary Schools in West Africa, and yet we have graduates that cannot even articulate their thoughts properly.

ADEOLA: This country’s system of education is lagging behind and this is one of the reasons many of the rich would rather send their students abroad to study and if they study here, they will do their masters abroad. When I start hearing stories and motivational quotes of the world’s greatest people and how they have succeeded without education, I just can’t help but wonder where this education is taking me.

FEMI: Another thing to consider is the amount of time spent in school and how judiciously(or not) the time is used.

A kid who goes to school everyday and learns fine art for only one hour a week out of the Available 30 hours or more, and then returns home to take some extra lessons which deprives him of time to practice design that he may eventually find himself pursuing a career in – Eg. art directing.

How then does such a kid reconcile the lost hours taking irrelevant irrelevant physics classes?

How does he make up for that lost time that his mates probably spent focusing on the arts?

Inioluwa: As a recent graduate, I cannot say that the education I received from the university has made me employable. Apart from a brief internship, I know next to nothing about companies criteria for employment. Education is not the culprit here, but rather management, policies and exposure are the real issue.

Shittu: Well, I do not think the educational system adequately prepares one for the job market. If it does,then every graduate would get employed easily. The educational system in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. We need creativity and ideas not just sitting in a lecture room and studying the same thing over again. For example, philosophers are supposed to be critical thinkers but in the university today, we do not study philosophy, we just study philosophers. After graduation, most students only know about the philosophy of philosophers and do not have their own philosophy.

Imagine this type of student being called for an interview, how would the life of Plato and Aristole get him a job ?

In the end the educational system just teaches us everything about nothing . It is after school we now begin to develop our personal skills which we are not given the opportunity to express in the lecture room.

Aramide: Agreed. There’s also the issue of conformity. In Nigeria, we conform too much. We shy away from speaking english with our accents. Take a look at China – English and other European languages are electives. You study them not because you have to.

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#TheOctagonYouthSpeak on NYSC

Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

Welcome To The Octagon. 

We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ? 

Thank You.

Ini: Hi guys, my name is IniOluwa and I am a passionate person focused on community development and nation building.

Ayo: Hello everyone, I’m AyoOluwa, a Medical doctor and I just finished youth service.

Ayotemide:Hello everyone, I’m Ayotemide. I’m a Medical doctor and writer. I just completed NYSC.

Adewale: Hello everyone,I’m Adewale. I’m an MC and kiddies event planner. I’m a Student of the university of Lagos.

Igbinoba: Hello, I’m Igbinoba Osaro. I’m a law student of university of lagos. I specialize in ankara crafting, and I’m the legal secretary of Terranexus.

Oyin: Hi I am Oyinlola Olawale… I am studying quantity surveying in the University of Lagos.

The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions.

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is an organization set up by the Nigerian government to involve the country’s graduates in the development of the country. There is no military conscription in Nigeria, but since 1973 graduates of universities and later polytechnics have been required to take part in the National Youth Service Corps program for one year. This is known as national service year.

NYSC has been met with criticism from Corpers, most of whom believe that the program is a waste of time, and does not fulfill it’s promises.

Question 1 : In your opinion, does NYSC offer any benefits ? If yes, what are the benefits?

Question 2: What are some of the De-merits of the program ?

Ini: I can’t speak of any benefit, and most of my friends who have participated in the scheme have nothing positive to show for it except a certificate that says “You’re now fully employable”. As for demerits, there are a couple I can mention off the top of my head – Squandering of the youth power and potential. You are forced to leave a lucrative and hard-fought job, abandoning your brainchild, small business that is adding value to you personally and your community. The reason why we have very good theoretical minds, wonderful policy makers and strategists, but so few implementors and technocrats. A massive waste of human resources.

Igbinoba: I believe NYSC should be scrapped, because it has lost its value and purpose in Nigeria. Government should channel the money to developing society.

Ayotemide: I feel NYSC has some benefits. The highlight of the experience for me was meeting new people, and being exposed to a whole new culture. It helped me understand some important reasons why health is still so bad in Nigeria. But the programme does not provide valuable work experience for an individual’s career path and it does not effectively utilize an individual’s knowledge and skill set. For example, it is quite painful that an engineer or lawyer is forced to teach, when he can use his knowledge and skill set to do something that he/she is more interested in doing.

I also had a few friends who had to abandon their start up businesses back home for the sake of NYSC and it was not a good move for them.

Another issue I have with this scheme is the substandard services provided, like the uniforms, feeding, and the ridiculously meagre amount of money paid as transport allowance. What message does this send to Nigeria’s youth? It’s as though there’s no standard of excellence to look up to anymore. Things are done anyhow, and we’re expected to accept this as the norm.

Oyin: There are no benefits I can think of, except the fact that some people use the one year experience to build their CV. My colleague at work Is currently serving at a popular construction firm, which defeats the whole purpose and aim of the NYSC. What’s worse, you’re unemployable for a year. I think like everything in Nigeria, corruption has affected NYSC.

Ayo: The NYSC scheme offers tremendous benefits. For one, It offers a medium where young adults are forced to think about others and not themselves, creating opportunities to really serve and at the same time make new friends you would otherwise not have met, basically increasing network. I think the initial plan for the scheme was fantastic, but over the years NYSC has become, not something to be enjoyed or a learning process, but somewhat of a punishment because it was allowed to just become a routine without value being imparted. I think that it should be remodelled to fit into now, as what was initially planned isn’t working anymore.

Adewale: I think I concur with this thought to an extent – Yes it creates a platform for meeting people, and learning a different culture. However, it has a larger demerit – I feel it has become something of Zero importance in Nigeria. Why should a lawyer and engineer start teaching, after learning in school instead of experimenting what he or she has learnt ?

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How To Balance Parenthood & Entrepreneurship

Posted on: November 14th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

Welcome To The Octagon.

The octagon: We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?

Sam: Hey everyone, my name is Sam Uduma. I’m a Technology entrepreneur/pseudo civil servant 😌 I suppose in this context saying Married 2yrs + with 1 Child is in order.

Ope: Hi. My name is Opeoluwa Fasanya. Web designer, photographer and civil servant . Married 3 yrs with 1 kid.

Tola: Hello everyone, I’m Tola Akinbulumo. I’m a HR Executive. I also run a business called Houseofdeayah. Married with a munchkin aka best boy.

Uju: Hi everyone, my name is Uju Okoye, live in Missouri USA. I am a public health doctor and entrepreneur. Married for 6.5 years to an amazing man and blessed with 1 child.

Labake: Hello, my name is omolabake Olafimihan. Married for 5+ years .

Dami: Good afternoon Akinwale Damilola. Married 3-years with 1 kid. I’m the COO of Technology company.

Isioma: Good afternoon . Isioma… engineer by day… mum and idea curator always.

The Octagon: There was a time when the boundaries between work and home were fairly clear. Today, however, work is likely to invade your personal life — and maintaining work-life balance is no simple task.

It can be tempting to rack up hours at work, especially if you’re trying to earn a promotion or manage an ever-increasing workload — or simply keeping your head above water.

The absence of a balance, can lead to scheduling conflicts, feeling overwhelmed, over loaded, or stressed by multiple roles.

The usual situation is that If you’re spending most of your time working, though, your home life will take a hit.

For years, employees and human-resources professionals spoke of the ubiquitous desire for ‘‘work-family balance.’’ When you think of balance, there’s work on one end of the fulcrum and life on the other, and when one is up the other is down — so it’s like a zero-sum game.

Is balance is perhaps an unrealistic goal ? – a state of grace in which all is aligned… Something we all want but can never have ?  Or Is it possible to achieve balance  – spend time with family, run a business, keep your job, make money.

 

Uju: I don’t think balance is unrealistic. After all the goal is individually chosen, so you decide what suits you. It all comes down to priorities. As a woman, I must admit that if my babies are sick(big and small), then my work output suffers. Living out in the west, with the lack of extra hands, it’s the norm. Again it’s important to remember that balance and goal are all subjective. It is also important that you bring along your spouse, and that they have an understanding of the goal too.

Sam: Firstly, I’d like to say I don’t think it’s a zero sum game. One doesn’t have to suffer for the other to increase. In a weird way, without my family my work or motivation for work diminishes. So agreeing with Uju, it comes down to priorities.

Ope: I think initially something suffers. The Key is learning to quickly identify what’s suffering in the quest to achieve “balance”. But here’s the thing – Until you identify that there is a problem with balance it’s so easy to miss it.

Tola: I think it’s all about priority… it’s always what works for you best. That’s the way I’d like to describe it. I work in an office where everyone screams work life balance but never practice it. I was very quick to join the bandwagon but then I realised my home front was suffering. And so I started prioritising, what’s more important to me? Work or home or both ?

Labake: The Home front is always the first to suffer. But a partnership where both parties are willing to make sacrifices, often makes life easier. Last year I ran a postcard program. It was hard and my weekends were not available. The support of husband and family made it possible.

Uju: Exactly. It’s team work that keeps the seesaw stable.

Isioma: To me, definition of balance changes with phases of life… and balance is not homogenous. My balance may not be your balance. As long as you are well and happy, you are balanced. Instead of forcing me to stay home or indulge in hobbies when I rather chew a project at work.

Sam: Interesting points of view. I’m a guy, I will try to shy away from experiences I know nothing about like that of a working mother/wife at home. What I do hear that is consistent is that it is something deliberate that must be achieved by both husband and wife. It can’t just happen via corporate policy changes. I must say though as an entrepreneur, your business sometimes takes on the role of a stubborn child going through the same growth stages as a real child — baby, toddler, puberty, adolescent, till it becomes independent or a grown child living at home.

Survey – Youth participation in community building

Posted on: November 8th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

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We would like to know what you think about youth involvement in community and nation building. Please take a few minutes to fill these survey questions. Thank you.


 

Octagon Survey Results – Starting a Business Partnershp

Posted on: November 8th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

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Our previous survey on partnerships give a picture of how businesses are gradually evolving in Nigeria. 138 people took part in the survey with 113 males and 26 females. The greatest number came in from those in the age group of 30 – 35 years and the lowest 50 – 60 years.

In this survey, we asked our participants if they would warm up to the idea of partnerships in business. 118 people said yes and 20 said no.

It is interesting to note that even though 62% said they have had bad experiences with partnerships in the past, over 85% still confirm that they warm up to the idea of partnerships. Other results in relation to choosing a partner suggest that this might mean that we attribute failure of partnerships to the character of people versus the business idea. Since 3/4 of our poll group are between the ages 20-35 and have been in business for only 0-5 years this suggests that most small business owners are continually open to collaborations even though they get increasingly cautious.

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The following results showed the percentage of key determining factors when choosing a business partner; 45% said values, 16% Business Development, Finance 14%, Creativity 12%, Management 5%, Marketing 2%, Logistics 1%, Technology 1%, Other 1%, Connection 1%, Friendship 1%.

76% of the participants said they would discuss long-term goals with their partner before commencing any sort of partnership, compared to the 24% who would discuss long-term goals after commencing partnership.

In this survey, we see 61% of participants saying the deal breaker for closing in on a partner would be lack of trustworthiness, 15% said lack of vision, 8% said incompetent execution, 7% for poor relationship skills, 5% for pride, 3% for lack of knowledge and 1% for family.

When asked which they would rather go for, 57% said investment, 30% would go for partnership, 12% for acquisition and 1% said none. This might suggest that more people consider that business financing is what they need rather than having another person/persons on board.

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How much equity would they give to investors and do they understand that this in itself is a form of partnership?

When it comes to partnership, there is always more than two or more people involved. 68% said they would be comfortable partnering with two people, 17% said three works for them, 13% stuck with one, 11% said 4 is a comfortable number for them while 9% said five and just 1% said 10.

The feedback on this question was a bit surprising to us. Until a few hours before compiling results, the role of COO was the most preferred option. How is it that people who are over 75% cautious of going into partnerships are not willing to jump at the opportunity of taking the role that gives the company direction.

Among the 139 participants, 97% (135) said they would have clearly laid out roles before starting a partnership compared to the 3% (4). Among the following roles, 35% said they would most likely be comfortable taking CEO (Chief Executive Officer), 33% said COO (Chief Operations Officer), 13% said Board Member, 12% said Team Member, 5% said CTO (Chief Technical Officer), 1% said CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and the remaining 1% said CFO (Chief Financial Officer).

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The question we might also need to answer is, are more people running away from the hectic responsibility of steering a small business in todays economy? The above shows that a total of 45% are more concerned with the day to day operations of the business.

When asked what they would consider as top most for success in partnerships, 50% said trust, 19% said they consider vision as the top most, another 16% said passion, 8% said values, 4% said respect, 2% said relationship and 1% said knowledge.

If a partner acts unethical, how would you handle it? 64% of the participants said they would simply speak to their partner, 20% said they would go legal, 7% said they would seek the counsel of a mutual friend, 7% said they would work towards replacing them, and 1% said they would walk away. None of our participants considered reciprocating with an unethical act.

37% of the participants would approach a partnership to be innovative. While 26% said the focus was to make more money, 23% said their end goal would be to do more, 9% said save the world and 5% said conserve their energy.

In this survey, we had 47% who have been in business for 1 – 5 years, 37% 0 – 1 year, 105 5 – 10 years and 6% have been in business 10 years and above.

The Octagon Session – Nation Building with Joshua Ajitena

Posted on: November 8th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

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Our first Octagon session which held on the 10th October 2016 was on Nation Building with Joshua Ajitena.

This 2 hour session which is the first of many consisted of a key note address and a breakout workgroup. Joshua Ajitena, a management consultant and speaker based, with this session passionately spoke on prospects, challenges and solutions. Here are some clips from the event.

Along side Adaora Mbelu Dania and Akinlabi Akinbulumo, Joshua facilitated a conversation amongst the 20 participants as they suggested a roadmap to achieving desired results. The group broke into three groups and focused on thinking through problems and solutions facing 6 sectors. Here are the results of the exercise.

EDUCATION
Challenges:

  1. Disconnect between curriculum and real life issues/challenges
  2. The gap between public and private schools
  3. Outdated curriculum
  4. Poor quality of teaches and lack of availability
  5. Lack of infrastructure
  6. Lack of parent/teacher inter-phasing around quality education

Solutions:

  1. Revised curriculums and inclusion of new fields in schools
  2. Internship should be focused on learning vs attendance
  3. Private schools and public schools mentorship program
  4. Training programs for teachers with certification
  5. Mandatory donations and scholarships by organization

GOVERNMENT
Challenges:

  1. Lack of transparency
  2. Lack of enabling policies for businesses
  3. Inadequate provision of infrastructure
  4. Disconnect between the levels of Government
  5. Disconnect between the leadership and the people

Solutions:

  1. Mandatory interactions between constituencies and mystery shopping
  2. Frequent measurement of public offices and a public declaration of assets and savings
  3. Portal to submit petitions and changes faced by businesses
  4. Training on leadership and policy formulation and governance

RELIGION

Challenges:

  1. Lack of tolerance
  2. Too much messaging focused on making the people lazy
  3. Lack of education and information

Solutions:

  1. Inclusion of mixed studies in early secondary education
  2. Society focused campaigns on the valve of hard work

MEDIA

Challenges:

  1. Accuracy of information
  2. Distribution and dissemination of information
  3. Quality of information
  4. Control of information

Solutions:

  1. Staff training and orientation
  2. A strong regulatory body that checks the media companies
  3. A body overseeing the education curriculum in this profession
  4. Less government control
  5. Passing the Freedom of Information Bill

SECURITY:

Challenges:

  1. Inadequate training/training facilities
  2. Welfare
  3. Education
  4. Abuse of power

Solutions:

  1. Provision of adequate training facilities and trainings
  2. Improved welfare/welfare packages
  3. Proper orientation for security agencies/public
  4. Checks and balances for misconduct

COMMUNITY

Challenges:

  1. Tribalism
  2. Religion
  3. Inadequate town planning

Solutions:

  1. Build up adequate infrastructure
  2. More community service from the public
  3. Re-orientation

ECONOMY
Challenges:

  1. Heavy reliance on importation
  2. Devaluation of naira
  3. Overdependence of oil and specific industries
  4. Issues with economic policy
  5. Wealth distribution

Solutions:

  1. The need for diversification
  2. Encourage SMEs, Local Businesses
  3. Price control
  4. Enforcement of regulatory bodies
  5. Influence economic policies

INFRASTRUCTURE

Challenges:

  1. Absence/lack of maintenance
  2. Under utility of historic buildings
  3. Review and evaluated projects
  4. Insufficient health insurance policies and providence
  5. Technology as a key catalyst

Solutions:

  1. Preservation policies
  2. Sensitization campaign to the public
  3. Independent body to manage review
  4. Health insurance (vast network)
  5. Expanding and maintaining our transport networks.

EQUALITY
Challenges:

  1. Intolerance for religious differences
  2. Tribalism
  3. Gender inequality/gender roles
  4. Class stratification
  5. Sexuality

Solutions:

  1. Education/sensitizing the public
  2. Level playing ground e.g. sports
  3. Influencing legislature

Meet Joshua Ajitena. Also known as Mr. Genero or Mr. Speaker. Poised with a passion for creativity and impacting the minds of his generation. Josh is the mind behind GeneroLiving, i-Rock Seminars, and The Genero Brand.
Joshua as stood on several podiums in the UK to address audiences of various sizes, his message is clear, ‘Life is to be lived curiously, only then can we explore the good things that are hidden with each creative endeavor’.
Joshua has spoken in over 250 schools & colleges, universities, startup networking events, churches, and many other gathering in the UK.
His passion is infectious, his delivery is powerful, one can describe Mr. Genero as a force on stage. With Tact and Witt, he is able to convey a message so complex or simple in the most clear and understanding way.
Josh is highly sort after in the UK, with sold out seminars and workshops, he is set to have a very eventful year ahead. Currently anticipating his acclaimed book ‘100’, set to be released in 2017. There sure is allot to expect and from him. In his words, ‘every opportunity to stand and speak is a
treasured moment, no audience is too big nor to small, it’s all about serving.
Joshua has had his eye and heart set on his motherland, Nigeria, for a while. Now, we hope Lagos is ready for the storm that is Mr. Genero.

The rise of social entrepreneurship and its role in solving challenges in Nigerian communities

Posted on: October 17th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon: Welcome To The Octagon.

We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ?

Inioluwa: Hi guys.. I’m IniOluwa Odekunle, Founder of PLANEN TEKAD a volunteer driven social enterprise. I am passionate about community building and ensuring children have the opportunity fulfill their true destinies.

Venya: Hello everyone. I am Ven Lannap founder and Lead of Bo Sita MADE, a youth developmental organization that is passionate about fighting sex trafficking…and the Founder and Director of Before & After School Academy a 3in1Child Care Centre: Creche, Pre-School and, After-School School of Performing Arts.

Buki: Hello Everyone my name is Olubukola Olukuewu, friends call me Buki. I’m a Sustainability enthusiast in its entirety. I believe in building lives and society

Uju: Hello everyone, my name is Obianuju Asika, a crusader, PR manager ad lifestyle lover. I believe strongly in community development and adding value to the society.

Bankole: Hi, my name is Bankole Ojo-Medubi. I’m an architect, carpenter and executive director at Westwood Works. But for the purpose of this conversation, I’m the COO for Fashion For Charity, an organization that uses the power of fashion, entertainment and the visual arts to help vulnerable people.

The Octagon: Over the last few years there has been an explosion of social entrepreneurship which have unfolded against the backdrop of increasing world crisis. Unlike the typical charities and non-profit organisations, social entrepreneurs develop innovative business models that blend traditional business with solutions that address societal problems.  It is believed that charities exist to redistribute income from the haves to the have-nots while social entrepreneurship’s role in social value creation is to be a change agent through innovation. One of the main arguments for social entrepreneurship has been that it does not rely 100% on seeking donations and its workforce are remunerated.

Regardless of the disparity between the two, Africa in the last 10 years has experienced an increase in societal challenges, been more aware that its people are poor and is in need of long term solutions.

What would you regard as the key cause for some of the societal challenges faced in Nigeria? What are the top challenges Social enterprises and charities face in Nigeria?

Ini: I believe the key cause of societal challenges in Nigeria is the mindset

Buki: Nigeria as is common with developing countries is fraught with a lot of societal challenges; some of which I believe is caused by the quality of leaders we have had over time. It’s a vicious circle cause citizens become leaders and leaders become citize. It’s a common situation in Africa. But I believe we are on a journey out of this by God’s grace. Secondly I believe charities lack the support that they should get from Govt, Corporates and HNI. From my readings, societies that have their social enterprises and charities working have support from these entities. They have support structures like enabling policies which we lack here in Nigeria. Policies which are not being put in place and might probably be rejected because of lack of trust in our leadership and lack of accountability by leadership. This we saw when one of the senators tried to pass a CSR bill.

Uju: People today don’t ‘trust’ the term charity anymore and you won’t blame them. Most organisations use these as a money making scheme, to increase their profit margin per say. The introduction of the social enterprise makes value adding more believable because of its transparency and accountability. For the challenges faced, The economy today is harsh, I mean I live in Minna and it is difficult for them to survive – what is the government doing? So its a mixture of politics, governance and the economic situation. Our support system is weak.

Bankole: At the very root, everyone has experienced failed systems in Nigeria. So there is a massive distrust of the concept of the “common good”.

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Power – A painful, but defining factor for Nigerians Businesses

Posted on: October 3rd, 2016 by The Moderator 2 Comments

Welcome to the Octagon

We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in an hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ? Thank You.

Ade: Good afternoon. My name is Ade Dania. I’m a Director of Plethora Gas and Power ltd. One of the bidders for Ughelli Power station.

Dimeji : Good Afternoon All, My name is Dimeji Adeyinka. I work for Pacific Energy Co Ltd. My company owns Olorunsogo Phase One 336MW and Omotosho Electric Ltd 336MW and currently biding for Omotosho Phase 2 (NIPP) 500MW.

I am the Instrumentation & Control Manager at Olorunsogo Phase I, where I provide technical strategies, processes and services that reduces unexpected downtime, increase manpower efficiency and operation & maintenance cost.

I also volunteer as a lecturer on Gas Turbines and HRSG to NAPTIN trainees with over 200+ students till date.

Dare: I am Dare Aliu, a power Engineer.

Tunji: Tunji Kamson here. I am the Executive Director Sweet Group of Companies  comprising sweet sensation Restaurants, Sweet Farms and Sweet Foods Limited.

Obiora: Hi my name is Obiora Okoye, Project Director at General Electric. and leading the development of a 500MW greenfield IPP in Aba.

The Octagon: The ever increasing demand and meagre supply of energy in Nigeria has been a great challenge to her development. This situation is becoming critical, with increasing population not balanced by an adequate energy development programme. The incessant power generation failure has grossly affected the economy, seriously slowing down development.

Analysts observe that the privatisation of the power sector in Nigeria notwithstanding, the country has yet to provide steady power supply.

They note that steady electricity supply is crucial to industrial development of any country, especially Nigeria that is planning to become one of the best economies in the world by 2020.

Do we think there is any end in sight to the daily blackouts in what should be Africa’s largest economy? Is the current government doing enough to solve this issue? To what extent would steady supply impact mot just small businesses but the Nigerian economy as a whole? What should small businesses in Nigeria do to circumnavigate this challenge?

Ade: In response to your question I would like to give you food for thought. If Nigeria was to start generating 40,000 megawatts tomorrow you may not be aware that the end users would not see up 75% of that? The infrastructure in place to transmit and distribute the power is so dilapidated they cant carry the amount of power Nigeria needs. TCN currently asks the generation companies  at times to limit what they generate as the transmission network cant absorb the load.

Tunji: Steady Power Supply, not surprisingly will positively affect all businesses and the Nigerian economy. Energy Costs constitute a considerably large chunk of most businesses costs especially Retail businesses. Also demand for forex from Generator Importers will reduce with More power supply and this will likely result in less pressure on the Naira.

Obiora: We did an analysis that showed 12.5GW installed, 3.9GW operational, 3.6GW transmitted, 2.9GW billed and 1.9GW collected. So Ade I agree with your analysis most of that additional capacity  is lost. Transmission is often cited as the largest bottleneck but I also think that collections by Discos are very poor – Average default rate is 44%.

Ade: That said even if TCN was to become a reliable conduit of power to the DISCOs you have multiple issues in the power supply value chain. Starting with the fuel source required “Gas”. Then at distribution level you have tariff  issues and collection issues. One is a government issue setting unworkable tariffs. Secondly is that of the people unwilling to pay for power consumed.

Obiora: This is where the liquidity will ultimately come from the support the infrastructure development.

Ade: Obiora, i think the question of collection can be directed to a large consumer of power in this discussion. Tunji, In your various business do you get metered or estimated billing?

Tunji: Its a mix. At some locations we have MD meters. some others, entirely estimated (coded) billing.

Ade: Tunji you’re happy to pay the estimated billing charges?

Tunji: I’m not Happy to Pay estimated billings. As much as I understand from discussion with the distribution companies how current forex rates are affecting their ability to import meters, no business owner wants to receive an estimated bill every month.

Ade:  Tunji your view with regards to estimated billing is far kinder than most people. Most billed in such manner would have used expletives to describe their bills.

Tunji: Oh yes. The estimated bills are ridiculous (insert expletives here).

Ade:  Dimeji can i ask please of your installed capacity what are you actually generating?

Dimeji: Olorunsogo & Omotosho Power Plant phase one has 16 units @ total of 672MW (Iso condition), 626 (op condition). On our best days, We generate 70% of the op condition even with the bottlenecks we can control.

Dimeji: I will contribute from a generations plant point of view.

As at 23rd of sept. We have a total of 83 power generation units in Nigeria with a total installed capacity of about 8017MW with a capability of 7590.5MW but we have only 53 units actually generating 3561.5MW

The bottlenecks hindering full capacity generation are

  1. Grid instability due to dilapidated infrastructure that the govt failed to maintain optimally since 1972
  1. Gas constraints in regards to Quality, volume. This is because the govt failed to do their due diligence during the implementation of thermal power plants. We don’t have enough gas for the thermal plants in Nigeria.
  1. Inherited degraded infrastructure from PHCN. The investors are trying to rehabilitate these units but due to low forex accessibility to purchase capital parts and pay technical partners is a big burden.
  1. Delay in revenue remittance from govt is really affecting the generation investors as most of them took loans to buy and service the plants . Their ROI timeline is being delayed daily. They are forced to use their money to service loans, buy capital parts, pay owner Engr & technical partners salaries.

Dare: To add to Dimeji’s point,

5) we lack adequate technical expertise. We still import most plant high-level technical staff. This is due to the fact that our universities also aren’t any good.

6) Greed and corruption- the amount of monies that have been sunk into these infrastructure could have actually provided us with circa 30,000 MW of generated power and transmission lines that can conduit Circa 40,000MW. But all that money has been diverted since 1999.

7) Lack of knowledge on the part of the government. Every govt that has been sworn in since 1999 only play politics with the issue of power. They never actually allow those who know to handle the affairs autonomously eg the case of Dr Ransome Owan who was politically weeded out though he single handedly started NERC and knew what it took to get us out.

Yes one or two companies accessed a few billions but the impact was never felt because CBN always released the monies when the plans were dead. When you plan a project, it has a period after which it is dead and that’s when CBN usually wants to release funds. Basically if you ask me, I don’t see a way  out in the next decade. And that’s because these NDA folks just took us back another 12years by blowing up the few gas holes we have.

Obiora: Corruption has certainly been a major factor….still is. To what extent is this CBN power intervention fund helping? Has anyone actually benefitted?

Dimeji: I totally agree with Dare. The technical partners ensure that they don’t pass on their knowledge to remain on the market. ManPower training is very important, your staff (Nigerian) are your assets really.

Ade: I disagree. KEPCO have done a fair degree of knowledge transfer at Egbin.

Dare: When you transfer knowledge to 15 people in a country of 160million with over 1m Engineers then you can’t call that fair.

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Can our fashion industry become the next “Nollywood” ?

Posted on: September 26th, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon:

Welcome to The Octagon

We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in 1 Hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ?

Thank You.

Kelo: Hello everyone, my name is Kelo and I’m a Fashion Entrepreneur.

Tolu: My name is Tolu Olafimihan. I’m a Fashion Entrepreneur and run a clothing company called GNATION.

Ifeoma: I’m Ifeoma Odogwu. I’m a Fashion Consultant and Magazine Editor.

Seju: Hey folks…Seju Alero Mike…I run an e-commerce platform that features art & clothing – Osengwa.

Kelechi: Hi my name is Kelechi Ekeghe I am a fashion entrepreneur and I run an ecommerce platform – min.ng (Made in Nigeria).

Tinuade: Hello everyone. I’m so sorry I’m late. Internet issues. My name is Tinuade. I run a female clothing brand called Adey Soile.

The Octagon:

The Nigerian fashion industry is primarily centered around the designers. However, there are various sectors that make up the fashion industry. Also, beyond the popular/mainstream designers, there are other fashion labels and designers that have their own consumer bases.

According to an article written in 2011 by Zainab Al hassan,

“The fashion industry is divided into the creative and the sales function, that is, design and production on one side and sales and distribution on the other. In Nigeria the creative part is present but there are not enough platforms for the sales functions. As an emerging industry, Nigeria’s fashion industry should be a determining factor in our economy and for this to happen we need to clearly understand how it can work. Currently in Nigeria, there exists a lot of untapped territory, we are yet to see proudly Nigerian High Street stores, and while some designers may be heading towards this direction, there is a need for the industry to create platforms in which they can survive and be profitable. However, there is the link that exists between the fashion industry and the larger economic environment. The fashion industries which we use as a benchmark, have certain structures in place, which we are yet to have.”

Do you think there’s a disconnect between the creatives in the parts fashion industry and the sales/distribution/business side ?

Do you think we are ignoring the ‘other’ important parts of the industry ie. Models, Stylists, Media (Fashion Bloggers et al) ? What role do they play in all this ?

 

Ifeoma: There is definitely a disconnect between designers and the public. For this industry to reach its full potential, it will have to be a collective effort. I don’t think that the average Nigerian cares about buying or wearing local brands or even the designers. And the ones who care always talk about how expensive or overpriced the pieces are. In addition, the media has a lot to offer to the Buy Nigeria campaign. I was watching an episode of Ndani’s skinny girl in transit when lead actress had a photo shoot and was raving about how excited she was to be wearing Ejiro Amos Tafiri.  I thought it was awesome not because I know the designer,  but because folks who are far from the industry will watch it and become curious. I thought how cool it would be if we have more of that. In the movies, News casters and so on wear Nigerian brands etc.

The average Nigerian needs to think of Nigerian brands first when they need stuff. So I’m getting married why take my money to Zuhair when i should be looking inwards. This is where the media needs to come in. People need to know that stuff is available here and possible here. If I need a T Shirt I should think of a Nigerian store first rather than take my money to Mango.

Tinuade: I think that for most creatives, we hated math and finance subjects in school, so going into fashion to realize that it’s an important factor is very daunting. This is especially apparent in a country like Nigeria where things are even harder and 2 + 2 isn’t always 4. I think that to run a successful brand you need to become business savvy. It is so important. You can be the most amazing designer, but if you can’t run a business, then you will be a hungry designer and the brand will not survive.

Kelo: I think the market is the market and will always be. Designers are the ones with the disconnect. I believe if you create items that appeal to the larger market and not the 0.1%, then you have something. Once you have something that the market NEEDS, then trust me, the other components necessary to build an industry will pop up. Nigerians are very enterprising. Let’s take a cue from the music industry. We need to lose this “Buy Nigerian” mentality. If you create dope merchandise and provide great quality service, people will buy.

Ifeoma: I don’t even think the Buy Nigerian movement is where it’s supposed to be. Yes Kelo if u produce dope stuff then you can appeal to anyone but people will buy who and what they know and are familiar with. Its that simple.   If they dont know you how are they going to shop your pieces.  If I need running shoes I Will go to Nike because I ‘know’ they are the best for what I need.

Kelechi: Very true @kelo Just like every business skill isn’t enough … players in the industry do not set proper structure to connect with and thrive in the market. Skill isn’t enough. You must understand your market, create products that appeals to them.

Tolu: I think the disconnect between creatives and the business side of the fashion industry is quickly bridged once the 1s and 2s needs to add up. The creatives from the fashion designer  to the models, to the bloggers all need each other to make a profit. No matter how fantastic a designer can create, or a model can walk or a blogger can write, if no one buys the designers pieces, he/she isn’t going to sell anything. If the model doesn’t get to wear any clothes on a showcase, she’s just any other girl. If the blogger has no content, it’s an empty blog space.

Seju: I agree with that there is a bit of a disconnect between the creative and sales function…actually maybe I’m wrong on that..as opposed to a disconnect the issue is there isn’t enough of an established separation and acknowledgement of the different distinct roles that each side needs to play. The current set up is that creatives are the distribution chain…and because creatives don’t necessarily have a full grasp of the business end of production and distribution they stall.

I believe if you create items that appeal to the larger market and not the 0.1%, then you have something. Once you have something that the market NEEDS, then trust me, the other components necessary to build an industry will pop up. Nigerians are very enterprising.

Tinuade:  I don’t think that it’s that simple. There are many designers worldwide who are hungry, but Zara makes a lot of money copying designs because he understands business. Understands distribution, sales, marketing etc

Kelechi: Pricing is also another issue… must “designers” want to be premium brands for the HNI. Because there are more people in the  mass and upper mass market.  I am a promoter of made in Nigeria, but we need to understand that the market is not driven by sentiments but by demand and supply. There is also an orientation  issue here – even those who produce here think that it’s better to set high or unreasonable prices to build their brand. They go for  high margin, not market share.

Tinuade: Hmmmm pricing. I feel like there are different brands with different price points and target markets. There are brands like Eve and Tribe that offer less expensive pieces. I for one will definitely use a local garment production company if it was reasonable priced with good quality.

Seju: Yes…yes and yes. Pricing is an issue, but from my experience working with designers, pricing is an issue when they produce overseas. So your costs are in FX but you intend to make revenue in Naira…this disconnect is a major part of the problem with the Nigerian story as a whole. And because of this I am definitely a supporter of the “Buy Nigerian” movement. However I also agree with Kelo that great products, excellent customer service plus the right marking strategy and you can appeal to anyone. So in as much as I support buy Nigerian and I’m also firmly in the improve the quality camp.

The Octagon: Taking from the conversation so far, is production the biggest challenge in the fashion industry vs sales?

Ifeoma: The truth is that the prices here are not very pocket friendly and how everyone can win here is by embracing Garment construction companies. Nigerians don’t see it, but it can be huge.  These companies are way cheaper to produce your stuff from. And will in turn reduce the prices of pieces on the racks. Not every designer needs to run an elaborate Atelier with  tailors who may decide to take off any day and trust me I’ve heard stories.

Kelechi: I agree with you. You see Nike didn’t get their market share in one day…. if they don’t know you today…they will know you tomorrow, if you have a good marketing plan.

Tinuade:  I think that production is the biggest challenge. At least that has been my experience. Producing abroad has become nearly impossible if you want to keep decent prices. So, I agree with Ifeoma about the need for local garment manufacturing companies. Currently, producing here with local talent is extremely difficult and inefficient.

The “Motivational” Leader vs the “Instructional” Leader

Posted on: September 19th, 2016 by The Moderator 3 Comments

The Octagon: Welcome to The Octagon. 

We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end at 5pm (1 Hour). We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences.

Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do ? 

Thank You.

Sam:  Good day, gentlemen. I am Sam Ikoku, Ocean Lifter, and a Productivity Consultant with NAKACHI Consulting.

Oyiza:  Good day everyone, I’m Oyiza Salu and I lead the HR team at GTBank

Shina: Shina Atilola, I lead the strategy and communication team in sterling bank.

Aruosa: Good day all, i am Aruosa Osemwegie, my day job is Lead Partner, Enable Africa and Programmes Director, The HR School; my night job is speaking and writing people and organisations forward and some books have gotten published through some restlessness.

Chude: Chude Jideonwo, co-founder RED here!

Dikko: This is Dikko Nwachukwu. CEO JetWest Partners.

The Octagon: The relationship between leaders’ behavior or the leadership style and subordinate has gained increased attention in recent times especially with the emergence of millennials in the work place. Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies define the culture of the 21st century workplace. Millennials want a flexible approach to work, but very regular feedback and encouragement. They want to feel their work is worthwhile and that their efforts are being recognized. As a result there have been increasing complaints and even employee turnover rates. This is a real concern for businesses as these are “tomorrows people” and understanding how to manage them is key.

There is also the discussion that the larger organizations lose their core/essence, ability for top leadership to impact and give accurate appraisal as it keeps expanding operations.

All these impact the employee to customer relationship and more businesses are loosing the loyalty they once enjoyed.

How important are employees to a business success? Does leadership style affect organizational productivity? Is there a problem with the way leadership in Nigerian Businesses relate and channel its employees? Are there any leadership styles to lean towards?

Shina: Employees in business are like the blood in a human system. Therefore they are not only important but the most important for business success. Leadership can make or mar an organization. A critical trait of leaders that are successful is the ability to get the best from people always. It takes you knowing them beyond the work place. Building trust and creating a conducive environment.

Sam Ikoku: I believe The Octagon is addressing all types of people so I’d like to look at the two types of leadership from 60,000ft.  More and more the term employee is becoming obsolete. Partners best describe them and leadership must recalibrate to better manage them. A phrase attributed to Steve Jobs captures this well. “Why do we hire smart people if we tell them what to do?”

I believe the topic raise really cuts to the heart of the matter because the type of leadership now becomes a part of the business model.

For me,  after more than twenty five years of trial and error, I have come to some resolution on the difference between Instructional and Motivational Leadership. Despite talk about the Millennial Generation, both types of leadership have a role to play. The tweaking is in the prominence of one over the other. It is the employees who drive the business. Before now their role was mostly tactical, but more and more they formulate strategy as well.

Oyiza: It goes without saying that people are the core of any business. A lot of the times, you hear the phrase -“Our people are Our greatest assets” but to what extent is this demonstrated day to day? That being said, I believe that a lot of effort has actually gone into making this saying come to life within organizations especially with today’s reality of managing a diverse workforce.

Aruosa:  There is a limit to what one person can do. Having more people on board (otherwise called recruitment), is a way to multiply our results. Then if this group of people achieve synergy only then can they ACTUALLY multiply their efforts. And leadership style affects the ability for us to reach this synergistic state. The Nigerian business or Nigerian entrepreneur has a lot to learn but they might be finding it difficult to learn with the a difficult macro economy and a lot of learning of the wrong things too. Particularly if one doesnt create alternate communication diffusion systems which allows real info to get to you and of course creating a culture of candor

Oyiza: I agree with Sam & Dikko’s assertions. In terms of leadership style, it is important to find a balance depending on a number of factors including Organizational Culture. Also leaders need to ensure that they are not far removed from the goings on in the organization. They should be accessible to a large extent in order to really feel the pulse of their people, sell the vision and get buy-in.

Chude: I’m interested in Sam’s point about how to marry the two.

Sam: In my view, instructional and motivational leadership are different parts of the same spectrum which begins with self-awareness and ends with appreciation.

Dikko: Having led a company of 1500 people. I can tell you that when a leader sits in his or her ivory tower. You only get to see what your people want you to see. I think a leader needs to be visible and accessible.

Aruosa: @ Dikko, would be nice to know if and how you solved it.

Dikko: @ Aruosa i spent one day a week working in the field and got on flights whenever I could helping out in every aspect. From loading bags, to cleaning aircraft to checking in passengers. It resonated with our people very well. They felt motivated. They had direct access to put suggestions and ideas that made the system work better. It also made us the senior management understand their issues better. So it wasn’t always about Naira and Kobo. And when the catering department said they needed a high loader we quickly bought one because we too had carried food on to the aircraft and it was back breaking work.

Oyiza: @Dikko – That’s a very good way Of building credibility and trust.

Sam: @Dikko, I think that is a good example of instructional leadership. I want to assume you seize upon every learning moment.

Aruosa: Wow. Instructive. Sounds like what someone called Management by Walk Around. We can see exactly how YOUR leadership style affected their morale and company results. Thanks for sharing.  A leader defines the climate in his/her team and climate being simplistically “How it feels here to me”….and how it feels to me as an employee affects or defines how i do my job; how I relate to other staff and customers and whether i go the extra mile or not.

Sam: @Dikko One question. Would it help if leaders walk the path before creating job descriptions, providing tools and negotiate remuneration?

Aruosa: By the way what is instructional leadership…and what is motivational? thinking getting commonality of meaning would help deconstructing the matter.

Sam: I believe they are part of one spectrum. In that spectrum instructional leadership, which is the centre point is bracketed on both sides by motivational leadership. On the self-awareness side motivational leadership is inspirational due to the leader’s own achievements. On the appreciation side it is due to the leader’s ability to create an empowering environment for those working on a common vision.

The Octagon: The motivational leader is one who leads by getting buy in and constantly pushes his team to take ownership …. The instructional one leads by giving tasks/instructions.

Aruosa: For an academic discussion it would be nice to ask which is better or needed between instructional and motivational, but from a practitioner discussion, BOTH are needed….a leader needs to have both in his/her repertoire.

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