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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 Outdated curriculum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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Artists and the contracts they sign

Posted on: September 5th, 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 at 7pm (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. 

Gbubemi: Hi Everyone, my name is Gbubemi Fregene. I am Chef Fregz sometimes.

 Tyeng: Hello everyone. My name is Tyeng Gang, and at the moment I’m the program director for Urban96 Network (Radio).

Tobe:  Hi Everyone. My name is Tobechi Nneji. TobeDaDiva sometimes 😀. I am a presenter and content creator.

Uyi: Hello Everyone. My name is Uyi Osifo. I’m an artist manager and co-owner of Flux Factory Group.

Tobi: My name is Tobi Adeola. I’m a sponsorship specialist with Etisalat Nigeria

Eniola: Hello Everyone my name is Eniola Leyimu and I am an Intellectual property lawyer. Nice to e-meet you all.

Andre: My name is Andre Blaze Henshaw and I’m a broadcast creative and policy administrator.

Nike: My Name is Nike Fagbule. I am Chief Strategist and sometimes founder  at Zebra Stripes Networks, a Public Relations Company in Lagos, Nigeria. #ThatsAll.

The Octagon: ”As an artiste, you have hustled and chased the dream. Finally some record label, or an investor shows up promising you the ride of a lifetime, and checks so fat, that you could see money falling out of it. But before you sign on the dotted line, perhaps there’s a need to make sure you actually understand what you’re signing so your dreams of fame and fortune don’t turn into a nightmare.”

With the growth of the Nigerian entertainment industry comes more structure, and contractual agreements. In recent times, we have seen various artists and their labels/management looking to the court to solve disputes.

Do you think that Nigerian artists are generally overvalued or undervalued when it comes to contractual agreements ? Why do you think that Artists are continuously having issues with their labels/management ?  Finally, What are some of the things you think that every Nigerian artist should consider before signing contracts ?

Tyeng: Artist are so eager to have a ‘record deal’, they’ll sign almost anything. And you know ‘we’ don’t read terms and conditions.

Tobe: I think there is, maybe, an initial  ‘take-anything-I-can-get’ mindset on the part of the artists. They pretty much just sign anything, after they’ve been told some attractive figures and sold the ‘dream’. They hardly ever read and understand and negotiate other components of the contracts. Then they ‘grow a brain’ a few years down the line and want to level up the agreements and the investors don’t agree.

Uyi: But then again, you have investors coming into the business without a clue or an understanding of the business.

Tobi:  The entertainment industry is one the rise, but the corporate issues around it is still a concern. Beyond artists being desperate, you will notice after one or two hits, they instantly want to own a Label without really understanding the business side of music. Also regarding valuation of artists with respects to the contracts they sign, we really don’t have the data to measure the quality of contract and the value within it.

Nike:  I don’t think it is a case of read and understand. I think they really just want that big break and no matter what their lawyers or managers say. They just see how the money or platform can take them to the next level. You will hear a lot of ‘It is me that is in it not you’.

Tobe: @tobi and @uyi. I agree. So it’s a mix of ‘desperate’ artists and ‘unaware’ investors.  A classic case of bad cook and rotten tomatoes.

Uyi: The thing is, these artists are usually blinded by empty promises, the investor in most cases just wants to be famous and make money off the project ASAP. Usually this ends in a messy situation. The investor is expecting an ROI on every investment. This usually isn’t the case.

Eniola: There’s a famous saying in the music industry, that it all begins with a song. If there is no song, there can be no recording session or artist singing the song. A distinction not often made in the music industry in Nigeria is between the musical  composition and the sound recording. So for example, I can write a song for another artist. While I own the song, the artist or whoever pays for the sound recording owns it. This is where record labels come in, they usually pay for the recording. The question then is if their investment justifies what they get back.

Tyeng: These ‘Investors’. They aren’t trying to develop you, groom you, help you better yourself, improve you and the industry – Just make them money. That’s why the quality of music sucks. Song writers, producers, get nothing after, which is so sad.

Tobi: It’s OK for an investor to want to make money, for them it’s business. As you will see the Nigeria market is quite complicated and unregulated, content is not safe. Artists are now only able to make real money from endorsements and performance opportunities, and if they are good enough, they get to go on international tours. This and more are the new ways they are able to make some money, of which a part of it goes to the investor.

Uyi: @Tyeng, it’s just business, and I really don’t blame investors because they see the artist the same way they see their other investments. With regards artists being overly valued. A clear case is Skales whose buy out clause is £10,000,000.

Nike: Well. I think the buy out was not based on the value of said artiste. I think it was more to ensure that the contract is fulfilled.

Eniola: Traditionally, record labels could justify their wanting to take as much as possible because music was sold via physical copies. They also had the distribution networks under their control.  However in this day and age where most music is digital or live, and artists can promote via social media, can record labels still justify their take as much as possible approach? I do not think so.

Nike: And the sharp ones see a way to make quick money. Get that house in Banana Island and travel around. The others just keep waiting for when investor will wake up and remember that there is a label somewhere. Either way. They forget about the reason they set out to be artistes in the first place.

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Would you hire a non-graduate over a Graduate or vice-versa?

Posted on: September 5th, 2016 by The Moderator 4 Comments

Welcome to the Octagon

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 ?

Gbenga: I’m Gbenga Totoyi. Head, People & Process for L5lab – a Tech firm with interest in Venture Creation and Funding across Africa. I’m deeply interested in helping folks resolve their career related challenges.

Debola: I’m Adebola Olomo – MD Deefrent Limited (Digital Agency – Web & Online PR/Marketing) nice to be here.

Ope: Hello guys, this is Ope. I’m a growth strategist with D’mastermind. We enable businesses grow.

Ibrahim: Good afternoon all. I’m Ibrahim Fearon, Managing Partner 1StepAhead Consultants. We do HR consulting, recruitment, vocational education for youth, and training.

Yvonne: Hello everyone, I’m Yvonne Anakwe, i lead Procurement,Travels and Logistics and Office Management at Fbn Capital

Bankole: Hi, I’m Bankole Ojo-Medubi. Managing Partner at Westwood Works. I’m an architect who specializes in woodwork and shipping container construction. Also COO at Fashion For Charity.

Demola: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, my name is Demola Adeyemo,  I worked as a HR executive @Gr8an and studying an action learning MBA and focusing on HR. Good to be here.

The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions. Let’s Begin.

There has been the talk about high unemployment in Nigeria in spite of the number of graduates from our higher institutions for a few years now. This has been attributed to two factors; high pay demands vis-à-vis low returns in business and the qualification of hands for available roles. Employers seek people who will fit with their company strategy and more importantly deliver the sort of value that will ensure the organization is profitable. Amidst these challenges more and more business owners are now faced with the question of hiring a graduate or non-graduate for value sake.

Some people are of the opinion that the academic setting is an artificial place where people are highly trained to succeed only in a specific environment. At the end of the day, people with a college degree are far more highly employed and make more money than those who don’t graduate.

What are the biggest challenges employers of businesses face in Nigeria today? Would you hire a non-graduate over a Graduate or vice-versa? Why? Would you agree with the school of thought that so many Nigerian organizations are seeking over qualified employees? Should industry pricing determine salary structure or should this be determined by each organization?

Gbenga: You can’t take away Industry pricing in certain sectors e.g Banks but, then more and more organizations are reviewing their peculiar talents, and their plans to stay afloat through these tough times. Organizational needs will always be different per time hence, the need to approach Talent Management differently – from type to cost, training and the likes. Personally, I will hire a non-graduate for ‘specific roles’ where I know they fit in or offer more value.

Debola: Some job roles allow for skill quest over degree but yet I will expect them to finish getting a degree while working. But will hire a skilled programmer with no formal degree over a graduate with lesser skill or passion. I believe the biggest challenge employers face is actually finding the right talent to fit dynamic new systems of business whilst using old formats of selection. But the crop of graduates these days though…..

Bankole: The reality for me, is that I have little choice in the matter. Graduates are very scarce in my line of work.

Ibrahim: Industry pricing as Gbenga said can’t be taken away from certain sectors.. However in my opinion I have employed a lot of non graduates for their passion, drive and have turned out to be of better value than graduates. However for organizations, Its all about fit, managing talent to ensure results are delivered. Graduates these days are struggling because we have half baked teachers who have no clue at all.

Gbenga: Half baked teachers in unapproved schools teaching courses that are no longer needed in the marketplace. I doubt if our universities and the associated elements see what the real need/focus of higher education should be about. Sure we all know a few who see it purely as money centres or places of pleasure/fun with the younger generation.

Demola: Would I hire a graduate or a non graduate? I can hire a non graduate that meets particular criteria as pertains to the job description and the strategic directions of the company. However this decision would be dependent on several background factors.

Ope:  I think the main point for me is, I need to get people who can add value to my organisation. Self starters, people who can think, plan and also execute. The question is do our universities produce these quality of people. Maybe, maybe not. While I do not rule out education as a bedrock for success in career, organisations of today need more than just having a degree for the sake of having one.

Bankole: In a previous, octagon conversation, someone said we have a generation of strategists and no implementers. But,  we also have a large untapped resource of millions of people that are our low skilled workers that have been totally ignored by the system.

Demola: But is it the graduates fault or the lecturers fault? I think our systems are stagnant whilst the business topography is rapidly changing always.

Ibrahim: Demola, The buck lies with leadership. How many professors do we have yet our educational system is comatose, what is the government doing to improve where we are today? Reason I say government is because unemployment levels 16-30 are ridiculous. In Kaduna state its 87%. Now tell me will anyone be willing to take on some of these youth who are tomorrows future? There needs to be a stronger emphasis on education in our businesses so that there’s a trickle down effect.

Gbenga: Demola, Great point on the stagnation..which is why I strongly believe, the onus is on young adults to wake up to the realities of the Marketplace and adjust asap. In my line of work though, I’ll rather put the Leadership debate at the foot of young adults – government all over the world is overwhelmed and can’t afford to ‘fix everything’.

Yvonne: For me it all boils down to the industry. Depending on what line of business I will employ either. Industry and role determines who to employ, I mean if you are employing a Doctor, it better be one who went to college. Some roles do need some sort of formal education. In the Industry where I work, which is Financial, about 80% of the roles there require you have more than a 1st degree plus experience and one can’t dispute that. To be honest guys higher education adds some Polish and finesse to a workers skill. I’ve seen it over and over again. Education is very important. It’s best they have some degree, at least it puts some structure to their passion, but I will take the skill and passion if good, but yet encourage education.

Bankole: True. But a lot of graduates aren’t ready to learn the workers skill, so there’s nothing to lay the polish and finesse over.

Yvonne: Hey Bankole, that is where training and motivating the staff comes to play.

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Is there a future for sports in Nigeria?

Posted on: August 29th, 2016 by The Moderator 1 Comment

Welcome to The Octagon

The Octagon: We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end at 4pm (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.

Shamsu: My Name Is Yusuf Shamsudeen Tijjani. I’m a Football Agent/Intermediary and also Co-owner of the Football Fives World Championship Franchise For Nigeria F5WC. I’m also the MD of NewAge Sports Africa, a sports business company.

Rehia: Rehia GIwa -Osagie. Owner elitebox.  We are experts in boxing and combat sports. I’m a general sport lover.

Boma: I’m Boma Ekiyor, a US soccer licensed intermediary and president of BEA LLC, a sport development/representation company. Also founder of Youth Converts Foundation, a non profit that focuses on sports development and using sports to address social issues. Also spent 15 years as a sports business executive in the NBA- Atlanta Hawks, NFL-Tampa Bucs, and NHL- Atlanta Thrashers. Also served as Project lead for the Racial and Gender Report Card for the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

Bambo: Hi All, Bambo Akani, Founder & CEO of Making of Champions, a Sports Media & Management Company dedicated to reviving Track & Field in Nigeria. I’m also the Executive Producer and Director for Top Sprinter, a Reality TV Talent Search we launched last year to find Nigeria’s best Sprinters for the 2020 Olympics and beyond.

The Octagon: 

Nigeria may lack in the area of sports achievements but never in festivities and events. Many have called for a total change of leadership of the sports governing bodies following the country’s failure to win a single medal in two consecutive Olympic Games. While others are of the opinion that participating at the Olympic games is not primarily about winning medals.

However, no one argues with the lack of preparedness or low support for representatives at international games. Over the years more and more initiatives have been set up to discover new talent with little focus on developing these and existing ones.

If we stay on the current path we are on, will there be a future for sports in Nigeria? What are the real challenges facing sports in Nigeria? How do we address them?  How do we ensure that we are able to get quality representation and not lose our best to other countries?

Rehia: Typically in this terrain the right person for the job doesn’t always get the job. For Example the minister of sports in theory should be a huge pioneer and beacon for progressing sports within any country but in Nigeria sports may be the least of his/her priority. That being said, Understanding your environment plays a role –  the support will not necessarily come from the government. The enthusiastic and avid sports lovers themselves need to make the change they want to see.  People need to stop sitting down and watching premier league at home and actually go out and support the local leagues or create their own pockets of sporting platforms.  Every little initiative can help somebody. It’s just a start it’s not a revolution . Revolting doesn’t happen here, so let’s work within realistic frames and make baby steps. More pro-active participation in creating awareness and platforms for sports within. Support your own first. It’s a similar story for every sport . Football, Boxing, Athletics Tennis etc.

Shamsu: First of all I would say, sports in Nigeria is not seen as something the Government should bother or worry about unlike in other countries. We only focus on the major events like the World Cup and the Olympics were we just do the fire brigade approach and hoping a miracle Will happen. If we don’t plan then we’re planning to Fail. Mind you preparations for next Olympics starts immediately when the current one ends. Development has been our biggest problem. It’s just lip service by the people in charge. It is time the Government leaves the sport and focuses on other sectors. They can help in Infrastructure set up. In the world today, Sports is a business. It’s not selling akara. It requires huge investment.

Rehia: Haha. Sometimes miracles occur because we have some good talent .

Bambo: Unfortunately sports in Nigeria is mostly funded by the government and the Sports governing bodies and over the years these bodies haven’t demonstrated the level of accountability, transparency and value that would attract sponsors and other forms of private funding in sports in Nigeria. Actually preparation for any Olympic Games starts at least 8 years before. So essentially we’re already 4yrs behind serious nations even if we start preparing right now for 2020.

Rehia: 1- Education/empowerment 2-Cooperation/Mutually beneficial projects 3. Execution

Boma: I believe a clear and specific definition of the problems in Nigerian sports have not been identified. If I were to ask how many Olympic style swimming pools are in the country? Who can give me a clear answer? Or how is the NIT organized ?Or how many reps work for the NSC ? There are some deep rooted issues that need to be identified before a solution can be arrived at

Shamsu: I agree. Even the Football that we claim to be so good at is no more attractive any longer.  How many adequate football pitches do we have in the country? Not Sand pitches.

Rehia: How many quality boxing rings in the country?

Bambo: Huge investment is needed, yes, but unfortunately even if $10 billion was poured into Nigerian Sports today that money will disappear by tomorrow. The emphasis should be on finding the right people to govern sports else we’re going to be saying the same things for years to come.

Boma: Majority of the people that implement Nigerian sport are civil servants that work for the ministry.  And we all know how civil servants work in Nigeria.

Shamsu: That’s why it doesn’t need to be run by civil servants any longer. But then, who are the right people ? Not the NFF, NSC ?  For Example: How many of these so called football academies that have sold players over the years have Invested in their own Academies? None. Not even a Bus, Balls, School. So sometimes it’s not just the Government, even the private individuals claiming to be in the sport have nothing to offer. For them, money is the motive, nothing else.

Rehia: The Right person for the job doesn’t always get it – Individuals that are passionate and have unadulterated drive to grow a sport.

Bambo: Very good question, who are the right people? Not only do they need to have a large range of skills to grow sports (management, media, fundraising skills etc), they need to be selfless enough to put country way before themselves. In Nigerian Sports we don’t have much of either unfortunately.

 

The Octagon: From the points raised, clearly the approach to sports in Nigeria has either failed or been set up for failure. Do we consider that another strategy should be employed to set up sport administrative bodies? Maybe even consider PPP for developing both infrastructure and managing talent?

Boma: Clearly, another strategy needs to be created and implemented by competent people.  I believe PPP can be an option, however the involvement of the government must be clearly defined, even minimized. Another option will be creating a new platform for development. Because the government’s involvement in sport will not stop…it’s too political. A new platform for development is clearly the way. Tap into the 180 million, create leagues nationwide. Make sure the platforms have strong business plans. What that platform is will depend on the sport. The business of sport must be practiced – without it, it’s pointless. What can be sold, how can it be sold, and how will it contribute to development.

Shamsu: PPP can work. But the right people in both the Government and the Private sector must be identified, or else it won’t work. I’m with Boma on creating a whole new structure, without the government. All these men in Agbada’s and their over sized Coats won’t take our sports anywhere.  There are many youth in this country doing nothing. How can we tap into that?

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The Buy Nigeria Conversation

Posted on: August 29th, 2016 by The Moderator 2 Comments

Welcome To The Octagon. 

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 introductions. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do?  

Ofili: I’m Okechukwu Ofili, a multipotentialite Addicted to Truth and Allergic to Bullshit! Founder ofilispeaks.com and okadabooks.com. Author of 4 funny books

Bolaji: My name is Bolaji Iwayemi and I’m the Marketing Team lead for Paga, Nigeria’s No.1 payments company.

Daniel: Hi, I’m Daniel Emeka … Digital and Marketing communications| Rookie Tech Entrepreneur.

Gbadebo: Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour – Architect and Creative director for Literati clothing.

Lolade: My name is Lolade Fadoju. I work within Digital Marketing for GTBANK and Head the SME MarketHub. It’s a pleasure to meet you all

The Octagon: Thank you for the introductions.

Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, rather than a nationally-owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.

Senator Ben Bruce recently started the #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira campaign. 

In his words, “Obviously we cannot cut ourselves off from the world. No nation is an island, but at least we can fly Nigerian airlines, eat locally produced food and patronise our football league. If we do this, not only will our economy grow and produce jobs for Nigerians, it will also make our goods and services improve in value such that they will be attractive enough to be imported.”

Understanding the need for Local content, Should we be creating localized versions of international businesses winning the Nigerian market.? How can we get Nigerians more comfortable with Buying Local and appreciating local businesses? 

Bolaji: Quality plays a huge part in buying Nigerian. No matter how much I love my country I will not excuse mediocrity. Another issue is the fact that little to no manufacturing occurs in Nigeria. So when we “buy Nigeria” are we actually buying Nigerian.

Gbadebo: Currently a £20 pound T-shirt now costs 10k. I think at the rate we are going it would no longer be a question of making people comfortable. It would be people actively looking for substitutes. The onus would be on the makers to be able to fill that gap.

Bolaji: @Gbadebo very true but we need to change your perceptions first.

Daniel: Understanding the consumer and insights that drive their purchase behavior  is key creating good enough content for them to buy. I started www.ethnikcity.com on the premise that, a lot of Nigerians complain about failed processes when dealing with Nigerian artisans and manufacturers.

Ofili: But can they? Is the Government doing enough to help us grow. Doing business in Nigeria is very hard. Legal Taxes are high and illegal taxes are higher aka omo nile.

Bolaji: @Ofili how do we by-pass the govt and “create our own destinies”?

Ofili: It’s difficult …with okadabooks we have minimum exposure to Government. We are a software, and our office exists in the cloud. But for manufacturing businesses it is difficult. I watched my Dad become a shell of himself trying to run a plastic company in Nigeria as an honest man. It killed him. The government took everything he had and gave him nothing. No light no power nothing. So it’s hard. Lindaikeji can thrive because it’s software same with Bellanaija. But when you start manufacturing physical products it’s impossible to dodge the government.

Bolaji: The cost of 3D printing is dropping. Imagine your Dad could running his company at about half the cost. For food and some elements of clothing “buy Nigeria” is very alive.

Ofili: Agreed. But you still have to deal with Government regulations. You have to transport. You need power. They will tax you etc. In the US you get tax breaks as a business. In Nigeria you get broken by taxes.

Bolaji: There are tax breaks in Nigeria. Pioneer status entitles you to 4 years without paying income tax

Ofili: Can you explain that term “pioneer status” I am not familiar with it.

Bolaji: Pioneer status – you’ve created something new in the market

Daniel: Nigerians will not buy from you because you are Nigerian. They will buy because your product feels a void. But from a branding perspective … the #BuyNaija causes trials. Retention is now what your product and service gives you.

Gbadebo: I think we need to separate consumers. The mass market does not care too much about where things are made. Mr Ofili wrote a brilliant piece about made in Aba once. There was a time that the made in Nigeria perception was a positive one.

The Octagon: Until recently when it became harder to purchase imported brands, it was difficult for Nigerian businesses to develop products to compete with these brands. The competition did gave them little or no chance to break in. If dollar rates where low how do we still convince the populace that buy Nigeria is important. Or this conversation only important for tough times.

Bolaji: This is a very good point because once FX stabilizes people will go back to foreign products.

Ofili: Buy Nigeria is key and logical. It’s just that the quality has been lacking. I printed books in Nigeria and now I give them out for free because the print quality was bad.  But hopefully companies like Printivo can break that cycle.

Gbadebo: Currently to stem the effects foreign exchange has on our business we have localized our production, especially the labor-intensive parts. Another thing to consider is the huge margins one can make by earning foreign currency with sales to the International  Diaspora.

Bolaji: The Government has a very important role to play to create a conducive environment to manufacture locally.

Ofili: I don’t think so. If the quality is good people will buy Nigeria. It’s quality. How do we get quality.  A handy man has done the same job in my house 2 times, each time it was poor. If we somehow get our people to understand quality it will help. And I feel it starts with our universities and technical colleges. The quality disrespect starts at that level.

Bolaji: I was watching NARCOS and thought that the model used was great to bring in Forex but the product was wrong.

Lolade: I believe every individual plays a role, not just government. Consumers demand good quality and competitive pricing. For a long time, several businesses survived by importing top quality to feed local demand. Of course, this has become more challenging with USD hovering around N400 and GBP north of N500 (would be north of N600 if not for Brexit ). Because of this, we are noticing some new trends with businesses trying to circumvent the FX challenge.

1) Some are importing MORE from other markets outside of the US and UK (eg, China, India, Canada, Turkey, Middle East).

2) Some are trying to start producing and sourcing locally.

Unfortunately, as everyone would agree, manufacturing is a major challenge. Seems a little like a chicken and egg problem, but my conscience still pricks me to support Nigerian businesses because I believe it is for the greater good. This means sometimes I will have stones in my rice or even a roughly finished seam in my clothing. But for me it is an ethical decision.

Bolaji: Very well said. However, Quality is relative. A brand like Polo by Ralph gives a distinct experience that no local brand can give.

Ofili: The other thing I see is that a lot of businesses look to create products for Lagos and not Nigeria. So the quality products are priced and branded for one market.

Gbadebo: What we did in our case was we set up a 5 month experimental phase, sourcing the fabrics washing and testing them, then doing several samples until the tailors stepped up to the quality of finishing we expect. It is a costly process but we also have to consider that the quality of finishing and workmanship is a direct reflection of the ‘anyhow-ness’ that pervades our society…and most Nigerians don’t actually see what we call poor finishing as normal. It’s

Bolaji: Hmmm research and development. Something that’s lacking here. Well done

Gbadebo: That’s what we did I don’t think it applies to every sector, but that was a solution in ours. Another thing is to go out of your comfort zone, I got that advice from The Octagon actually. So we went to ikorodu to set up.

Lolade: There is a woman by the name of Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. She runs a company called Sole Rebels based out of Ethiopia. She has been used as a case study by the global trade community for her role in ethical manufacturing. She sells shoes that are made by marginalized communities in Ethiopia. Her products retail at Urban Outfitters in the US. Guess what…people buy them not because the finishing is perfect, but because they understand that there is an ethical obligation to supporting developing economies

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Are religious Institutions playing their part in Nigeria’s Society?

Posted on: August 22nd, 2016 by The Moderator No Comments

Welcome to The Octagon.

The Octagon: We appreciate your 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.

Reginald: My name is Reginald Bassey. I’m a startup farmer, and I enjoy great extended conversations over good food.

Onyeka: Hey everyone! My name is Onyeka. I currently work with GTBank PLC (and No you cant call me when you have issues…just kidding) as a unit head in a marketing team.  I am very passionate about development and adding my quota in making the world better.

George: My name is George Anyanwu. I’m a travel Consultant, and I enjoy service in whatever form especially when it’s value oriented.

Dipo: My name is Dipo Adesida, writer and broadcast content producer. Travel and driving very fast is my thing.

Muyiwa: My name is Muyiwa Oludayo, a lecturer and administrator at Covenant University. I am committed to raising value adding personalities (VAPs not VIPs).

Isioma: I am Isioma Asiodu-Otughwor. An engineer by profession, mother and wife by choice, cook by force, natural idea integrator and people lover.

The Octagon: It is believed that around the world religious organizations perform important roles in contemporary society by strengthening community bonds and helping the poor and needy. Most also say religious institutions protect and strengthen morality in society. That they are meant to be a force for good. However, some express reservations about religious organizations, saying they are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved with politics.

What is the Role of Religious Institutions in Nigeria’s Society? Do you think they are playing this role properly? Are there lapses, and how can we fix them?

Dipo: Religious institutions are a metaphor for a moral set of values that define a society. And that usually shaped what that society considers ‘important’.

Onyeka: Religious Institutions play a major role in shaping values and beliefs and these come to play in our interactions within the society.

Dipo: @Onyeka I like the word ‘interactions’.

Isioma: The Power of our Choices.

Onyeka: Issey I agree with you. No matter how much we hear at our respective worship places, humans still do what they choose to do ultimately.

Dipo: But many times, those decisions are largely influenced by a moral government.

Onyeka: @Dipo the thing is our cultural beliefs in Nigeria are largely shaped by our religious beliefs that’s why you will see Nigerian vehemently protest the LGBT movement, no matter how westernized we have become because, most of the bedrock of our cultural beliefs are borne from religion.

Isioma: There is no single set of rules that define religious institutions for starters. Take a look at the 1800s, religious institutions were the top of the political ladder and have been influencing politics since then. Today, politics is still played within the church.

Dipo: Because that’s the premise for a lot of our actions and decisions whether in civil society or politics. It is perhaps impossible to separate religion from politics.

Muyiwa: Religious institutions help individuals to access their higher self within the framework of a supernatural being. This is what informs it’s rating as higher than any other institution in the world. The practices and rites promise the things that mortals will sweat for.

George: I agree with Isioma that religious organizations have always existed in society infact they have been the very fabrics of society from time immortal. Why do regions institutes exist in the first place? That should give us a better understanding to what and how they can shape society and if they are in the actual sense?

Onyeka: I truly believe institutions shape the society and people shape these institutions.

Onyeka: As a Christian, I have gone through various phases one of which was thinking all I need to do is prepare for heaven but I realize I have a lot to do here on earth before heaven. I’m saying this to buttress my point that religious institutions have a lot to do in what happens within a society. Bringing it home to Nigeria…for some time…’religious’ people used to see politics as something filthy and not to be involved with, but truth is if we leave politics for people who have no scruples then we have become at their mercy. My religious belief expects me to respect the government, pay my taxes and bills, and be the best at work but then I may choose to not pay my taxes…decide to call that electrician to ‘connect me direct’ to avoid paying what I ought to pay for the power I enjoy.

Reginald: I believe Religious Institutions are custodians of moral value that guide human behavior and society at large. In a sense this is likened to light. I see them as being the light to the society, and in Nigeria this ought to be the major role that such institutions play.

Do I think they are playing this role properly?

No they are not! It is impossible for these institutions to guide conduct in society, when it is embroiled in the dynamics of societal corruption. In some measure, religious institutions are playing a role, but this is not clearly defined and that’s why we seem to hold this question needful.

Are there lapses, and how can we fix them?

I think we need to first establish the purpose for these religious institutions, perhaps that will guide our understanding of what role they should play in society.

George: Religious institutions actually transcend the Christian faith actually, though our contributions are largely infused by moral and spiritual exposure. Religious institutions exist as a moral guide and an institutional socializing agent aimed at shaping human behavior towards a predetermined form.

In the past, they played a key role in shaping society and governance but their existence over the years have seen a decline in their ability shape society (Man) collectively. And this is largely unconnected with the disconnections the Spiritual (worship) and the Natural (morals).

However when it comes to contributions towards societal needs, a lot of religious institutions have identified gaps where the governments have performed poorly and attempted to produce and provide enviable solutions that are worthy of note.

Though on the other hand, we have some religious institutes that have played a negative role in defining the success of society through anti society orientations based on their perceived negative opinions of society at large.

Muyiwa: The platforms these institutions are creating to service the needs of the society informs their relative performance. Institutions such as schools, hospitals to Mention a few.

Onyeka: The Truth is Religious leaders from their podiums have a voice and a platform to guide their listeners on the right values and ethics and if everyone decides to adhere…we have institutions that work as these people make these institutions and invariably, the society begins to enjoy sanity and development.

Dipo: We seem to agree on a point that regardless of faith, religion plays a role in affecting the morality of a society. However, the question then is: how well are these institutions doing? Is the ‘moral standard’ of a society measured by its religious piety? Or otherwise?

Nigeria is perhaps a very ‘religious’ country. However, can we say that those moral codes that are released from the leaders are really affecting how we behave?

Isioma: I think they are playing their role though not to the best of their capability. Unfortunately, the institutions are made up of mortals with weakness of the flesh so they have lapses and gaps. After all. who does not know that some priests and pastors dread being posted to the poorest of the poor areas. We must not forget that these religious houses take on projects in the areas that government has neglected. If not for missionaries, we would have more illiterates in our society.

Onyeka: I think the role of religious institutions is to provide a guide for social behaviour truly. Nigeria is a very ‘religious’ country and to an extent I think that’s helping in keeping us together, if not we would probably be a city without walls. But more importantly beyond morality, I think religious institutions can and should do more in regards to development. We see a lot of Faith based educational institutions and that’s good but as with everything there is always space for more.

Reginald: Both in the Koran and Bible, there is some mention of the word “LIGHT” being used as a description for those who are ardent followers of the teachings of these religions.

Light is simply use to illuminate the darkness and to provide direction. This is what I believe R.Is should represent in society. They are to expose every trace of corruption in society and as well present to society the best approaches to solving problems. When it comes to education, health care, order in communities, wealth creation, etc, the Religious Institutions ought to show society how it should be done.

Onyeka: Religious institutions should provide a guide for societal behaviour…how you relate with every player within the societal component, or within the Society – the government, Infrastructure, Neighbours. ..etc We should also bear in mind that although there are ‘rules’ or guides for each religious faction, it still comes down to people deciding to do the right thing.

Isioma: Somehow, I think being ” religious” is now a status thing. I agree with Onyeka, they can do more in terms of development. So it is imperative that they interact with the government and politicians as well. The religious may do well to meddle in politics from the stand point of the altar and embedding moral values in the characters of their followers. However, The Nicodemus visits and other rumors and fraternizing plus this burgeoning gospel of prosperity…makes me wonder if indeed Jesus died on the cross for me to own a house in Banana Island with 4 servants.

Onyeka: Truly any genuine religious leader talking about prosperity will also clearly provoke the listener that the wealth is not for you alone. The wealth is for you to contribute your quota to make the world better.

Reginald: The Bible talks about being “SALT OF THE EARTH”. This is the second metaphor use to refer to people who adhere to Christianity. Which speaks to the measured influence they should have on the earth in preserving it. In other words, where there are elements of human induced destruction being foisted on society, the adherents should be able to preserve society from falling into decadence. So my thesis for these problems ought to be fixed is based on the understanding these RIs have about being “LIGHT” and “SALT”. Outside of these two descriptive, RIs might wade into aspects they are clearly not empowered to cover or play within.

Onyeka: The fact that only a few will adhere shouldn’t stop them from speaking out because I mean with these insurgents we see 1 man brainwashing these people by perverting the right things and spurring them to destructive behaviour. In the same vein, consistently talking about the right things will hopefully brainwash us into doing the right things and ultimately building a Nigeria we can all be proud of.

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