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How can social media proliferation in Nigerian and the digital community play a critical role in telling the Nigerian story?

Posted on: August 28th, 2017 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon: Thanks for accepting to be a part of this Octagon Room.

How can social media proliferation in Nigerian and the digital community play a critical role in telling the Nigerian story?

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?

Taslim: I’m Taslim. Ex-Googler & Digital Marketer. Runs a talent-focused digital consultancy where I build people to grow businesses. Interests include but not limited to digital education, startups, Africa and Jollof. *Nigerian jollof to be precise. 😁

Osaretin: I’m Chief Osaretin. Graphics Designer, Brand Developer, Photographer & Creative Director for Jonathan Cole.

Peace: Hi Everyone, I’m Peace Itimi. Digital Marketer, Google Digital Skills Trainer and Co-founder of Rene Digital Hub.

Chuka: Hey Everyone, Chuka Ekeledo – I head up Astract9: a budding digital agency with strong tenets in data driven marketing. Head up Redux, the digital arm of Red Media & Whogohost Biz growth – a SME-centric web solutions service.

Genevieve: Hello everyone…. I’m Genevieve Craig, Digital Media Consultant and Creative Writer.

Damilola: Hello everyone, I’m Damilola Oshifowora. Social Media Manager and Marketer and a budding brand communicator.

Petra:  Hi, I’m Petra. Marketing and communications officer at Junior Achievement Nigeria.

Joyce: I am Joyce Imiegha, I am an entrepreneur and an idealist (sometimes). I am a digital marketer and a business development lead at René digital hub.

The Octagon: Within the last decade Nigeria has witnessed a massive spread in the use of smartphones and PC’s, coupled with the ease of access to internet data and an ever increasing mobile network coverage. It’s no more a strange sight to see primary school children with internet enabled phones or tablets, neither is it a rarity to encounter grandparents connected to their families via Facebook or WhatsApp, even those in the rural areas have not been left behind in this digital race especially with the foray of affordable smartphones. Studies suggest that when Nigerians go online (predominantly with their mobile phones) they spend much of their time on social media platforms (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on).

According to premium times, at least 7.1 million people use Facebook daily in Nigeria, making the country Africa’s biggest user of the social media platform. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is ranked 10th on the list of world’s top internet users, according to eMarketer; with 57.7 million users at the end of 2014, which is predicted to rise to 84.3 million by 2018. Social media platforms have proven to be an effective market to reach out to target audience as popular brands, organizations, celebrities, the media and even politicians have taken advantage to improve on their presence, brand and products.

Do you think our country Nigeria can take advantage of digital media to improve global perception?

Chuka: First off, great statistics – I’m definitely going to use it in my next pitch. Second, personally yes I think we can take advantage but are these people online interested in improving the global perception or they just want to have fun?

I like this term “good use” but my question is how we can control the narrative because from my time online – a lot of people aren’t putting their digital activities to good use but more to vanity.

Petra: Is the perception on a local or national scale a positive one? Very many Nigerians don’t believe in the brand Nigeria. While a few others do, they are ashamed to show that they to show that they do

Damilola: Yes we can. In fact we have already started taking advantage of digital media. With the likes of Osa7 for Microsoft and The rise to fame of Olajumoke the bread seller. I think we just need to focus on making positive perception.

Taslim: Interesting stats there. Yes, we can definitely improve global perception by harnessing the advantages of digital media.

The internet provided us with more channels to be able to connect with one another as well as more platforms to solve solutions. For instance, Facebook which started as a social media (for connecting people) has become an entire ecosystem (a mashup of different tools and platforms). This simply means you can do more things with your regular Facebook account. I think it starts with driving awareness through social media which is already happening. But we need to do more to ensure that the youth are keyed into the good use of these channels.

Joyce: We can, if we are willing to. Generally, I think the average Nigerian has a nonchalant attitude towards the maintaining a good perception of the nation globally.

Peace: Most definitely we can and I think we are already doing so. All it takes to change the global perception of a person or a brand or in this case a country, is to promote online the creative and positive things about us. The more we drive (and promote) conversations, innovations and talents of Nigerians, the more world sees us differently.

Taslim: To control the narrative, we need to engage influencers and make them the face of the movement. Influencers in different industries from music to tech to government are the ones who control this narrative.

Peace: I totally agree with this.

Joyce: Well said

Damilola: This is true. We’d need to tell untold stories that will shape the perception of Nigeria on a global scale.

Genevieve: Yes, most definitely. Let’s look at the country as if it was a brand. The key to brand management is telling a great story about the brand concerned. Nigeria has many stories which have been untold… Most of them have been either forgotten or taken for granted. Digital media creates so many avenues to recreate the image of Nigeria both within the country (to us Nigerians) and globally.

Peace: To control the narrative, influencers in different sectors would need to come into play.

Genevieve: True. The average Nigerian doesn’t have a sense of pride when it comes to a lot of things concerning the country.  How do we begin to shape the minds of citizens to have a sense of national pride? Every industry has a part to play.

Chuka: But again, this is a bit superficial because anyone who is willing to look beyond the surface will see that uncouth nature of the average Nigerian through their commentary

Petra: I think we should resell Nigeria to Nigerians.

 Chuka: I think this should be the foundation of any branding effort. First shaping the mindset of the Nigerian, and that it is very hard for a country that has failed its citizens again and again. That is the core of the problem is how Nigerians think. If you can change how a man thinks, you can change the world.

Damilola: Yes. A country is its citizens though.

The Octagon:  A lot has been expressed, what do you think is responsible for the poor image of the country in spite of the great stories beginning to emerge.

Taslim: Bad media. We don’t blow our whistle enough when we do the good things. We end up getting popular for the wrong reasons. Imagine the people we see as role models are uncouth, would we be otherwise? If all Wizkid and Davido uses Twitter for is beef, how do you expect their fans (who run into millions btw) to behave online? I still believe influencers have a lot to do with how we appear online. Celebrities beef everywhere are not helping matters. Another example is the way celebrities show off wealth. It has affected the average Nigerian to think the measure of happy living is how many notes of Naira you can display on Instagram. Same also goes to musicians singing about internet fraudsters. All of this come into play when we start to measure our global perception from the digital angle. I think the influencers across industries have a big role to play in that.

Damilola: Misrepresentation and misuse of digital media platforms.

Petra: We must take it beyond Jollof rice wars.

Genevieve: It’s largely related to governmental issues

Osaretin: The average Nigerian youth have not been able to take their eyes off “music and yahoo x2” as a means of making it. Yes there are other great ways to make money and we have amazing examples. Government is not the problem here.

Petra: One good impression if Nigeria that I believe digital media has helped established is our resilience.

Peace: The fact that an average Nigeria would rather tweet about how Buhari is not doing anything and how the country is Trash rather than celebrate the amazing success stories and little victories we have.

Petra: I agree however, in terms of place public relations which takes us back to branding the nation. Consider some parts of the UAE for instance. If not for branding and publicity through traditional and digital media, who really goes on vacation in a desert.

Joyce: First, the leadership. The reaction towards the poor conditions/corruption of/in the country. The poor moral standards and mindset of citizens. The things we report/post on social media/the internet. The sad impression internet fraudsters have established for us.

Damilola: Plus Nigerians have been stereotyped and we’re playing into these stereotypes.

The NMC 2017 Octagon Panel Conversation – Audio and Transcription

Posted on: August 11th, 2017 by The Moderator No Comments

 

 

The Octagon: We’ve had about over 20 room conversations with topics spanning from the recession to even marriage issues. We have people who are experts in these fields who converse, and then we share that conversation. Today, we have half the number of people who have already been a part of conversations in our rooms but who we also believe will add value, and they would share with us knowledge that would raise the level of thinking when it comes to Digital Media and Digital Media Technology. So I’ll first introduce them, and then I will introduce the topic.

First we have Ezegozie Eze coming on stage. Ezegozie Eze is the country West Africa Manager for Universal Music.

Next we have Isioma Idigbe, she’s a legal practitioner with PUNUKA Attorneys and Solicitors.

Next we have Laolu Alabi who is so many things. He has been pushing the agenda for young people being a part of driving the economy.

Finally we have Dr. Lawal Bakare. I often say that Lawal Bakare is probably one of the reasons why a lot of us in this room do not catch Ebola because he was instrumental in running Ebola alert.

So, they’ll have a conversation and if there are any questions, we have a number of people who have post-it notes. You can ask questions based on some of the things you have heard, you can raise your hands, they will give you a sheet of paper and then you can write your questions and pass it on to me and I can help drive the conversation.

Alright, so now to begin. We’ve heard so much and I believe the people who are here have heard so much as well about best practice digital media. How to do it, how not to do it.  More so, how important it is to understand these things. But what we will focus on in this conversation; is the digital media as a potential contributor to the Nigerian economy? Now before I ask my first question, just a few stats. The IMF mentioned that in 2018, Nigeria’s GDP will grow at a faster rate than even South Africa. It is already picking it up. We look around the world and we find out that the digital media industry has, in parts of the world like the UK and in Europe, contributed to almost 21% of their own GDP.

Right now here in Nigeria, we’re happy to record that oil has now taken a back seat and the non-oil sector, specifically Agriculture, Information Technology, have contributed to 96% of our GDP which is exciting. I would like to just first ask, what do you think, in your opinion, and from your experiences is the potential that digital media technology can contribute to the Nigerian economy? First of all, before we begin to interject I’ll just like everybody to introduce themselves and then in your own opinion, express that.

Ezegozie: Good afternoon everyone (good afternoon), thank you guys first for being out here. My name is Ezegozie, as he mentioned I’m part of the Universal Music Group family. We’re launching here in Nigeria, September. And some of you may or may not know Universal is the largest label in the world and it’s now positioning itself as an entertainment company. So digital media is a very big part in focus including content creation, content generation, innovations and enterprise. There are so many amazing things that are happening in the media creative space in general and the digital media or what I call the digital currency is a big part of it. For me, I specifically think that digital media is the future, I mean, if you just think about how many people have built businesses and have literally created their own source of income from digital media. It’s the renewable way. Yesterday, I saw in the UK headlines that by 2040 they’re completely banning cars that are running on diesel and fuel. So if you think about where the world is going, where Nigeria is and where we need to go you realize that there are so many opportunities that people can create in their own homes. A lot of us play around Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and a lot of us use it for business. Whether it’s to network and to meet people, whether it’s to create or run our own business, it’s a big part of the new future and for Nigerians specifically, it’s our own private way of being able to contribute to make Nigeria what it should be. You know we can’t wait for private sector, we’re not waiting for government. It’s a private way for all of us to individually make sure that digital media and the digital space continues to grow. That people individually, no matter where you’re from, if you have access to the internet or any of those forms of communication you can create your own currency, your own income. So it is the way, the future. It is the way forward, it’s the only way that I feel all of us can individually create the future we want and also put Nigeria where it should be.

Isioma: Hi everyone. My name is Isioma Idigbe. I’m an Entertainment and Intellectual Property Lawyer with PUNUKA Attorneys and Solicitors which is a law firm based in Nigeria with branches across Nigeria. And going to the topic, I remember when I got the invite to speak on this panel, I was super excited because I am very passionate about the general entertainment industry and I consider Digital Media as part of a wider entertainment and creative industry, and we are already contributing to the GDP, as you could see with some of the statistics that the moderator quoted in the introduction. But the key thing for me in saying, yes we can, is that we are not reaching our full potential because of the infrastructural issues that we have. That’s going to be the way I will be approaching this conversation. That is, what are the infrastructural changes that we need to implement to support the growth of this area, and not just digital media because I think digital media is just an outlet for general entertainment and creative industries. When I was preparing for this panel, I ‘googled’ the meaning of media and digital media? And it’s basically the same thing. Digital media is just media publishing, videos, music, all these kind of intellectual property content with the word digital just added beside the media because this is now a different outlet through which all these creative content can be distributed and consumed. So the key thing for me when we’re looking at this is yes it can become a contributor to the GDP, only when people are able to generate the maximum revenue that they can from this. I agree with Eze in saying that this is the future of content consumption where people are able to leverage and get the most revenue that they can from digital media. So to me that’s going to be how I would address this conversation and then again, obviously, this is just an intro to obviously go into those infrastructural issues.

Laolu: Hi, good afternoon. My name is Laolu Alabi. I am an Architect. In my past time I do a few other things including an initiative called “Conversations with Damilare Baker.” I also run another initiative called eighteento35. Eighteento35 is an initiative developed for people between that age ranges. The idea is to attempt to build and celebrate individuals within that demography. My general thought is that any nation that despises the 18-35 age group is actually mortgaging its economic future. So yes, I’m a proponent for getting the young guys out there to do stuff, whether we’re prepared enough is another case entirely. Just before the session began, we were talking about the “not too young to run” and I’m thinking, maybe we should start considering as well, “the not prepared to run”. Because I’m not even sure that these guys that are catching this fever are actually old enough, not age-wise, to run. So that’s a few of the things I do. Coming back to the conversation, the new media and the contribution of digital media to the GDP, immediately I heard that the first thing that came to my head was data and how well we’ve been able to manage data as the case may be. Unfortunately, our society does not support data. Our culture does not support data. We are a culturally secretive lot. So if I ask my aunt when she’s traveling and she says, oh I should be travelling before the end of the week, she’s actually traveling that night.

So, and that’s how we grew up. There’s a Yoruba adage that says “if your yam sprouts, you have to cover it up”. We cannot talk about digital media without talking about data. We cannot talk about being able to evaluate the real effect and I think I’ll probably share more about this as we go along. So that was the first thing that came to my head. You know how you tell somebody you went for a psychiatric evaluation, which is just a regular thing, and the next time they see you, they’re crossing to the other side of the road because, as far as they are concerned it’s something else. So yes, that would be some of the angle that I’ll be looking at in terms of digital media and then its effect on the GDP and the economy as a whole. Thank you very much.

Lawal: I’m Lawal Bakare. I trained as a dentist at the University of Lagos. And very early in Medical School I realized that there were a lot of opportunities in ensuring that people know what is happening in their body well ahead before they come down with any disease. I schooled in Idi-Araba which is a slum and where the prestigious College Of Medicine is situated, which is also where we have the first dental school probably in West Africa. I realized during a physiology lecture, that if we could share a small percentage of what we were learning in that physiology lecture room with the people in Idi-araba, maybe the slum status might change overnight and that was the beginning for me. Today, I’m a Health Communications Scholar, I should be joining the North Western University at the end of August to start my Post Graduate Programme. Recently I had the opportunity to prepare a document on the idea of new media itself. Do you guys know that at a point in time television was the new media? So the idea of the new media is just well, “today media” which is the medium for transferring information from a place to the other. What channel we chose to pass it through is what makes it new from time to time. So maybe tomorrow it’s going to be some supersonic idea where we’re moving messages from Earth to Pluto, then we probably would have colonized all the planets, and that will be called the new media. So how does this now affect where we are going? Back when I was in marketing school, when I finished Med School, I went to marketing school, and I feel that the reason Nigeria’s economy is not where it should be is because our marketing communications is not as strong as it should be. So what makes the marketing communications strong and therefore the opportunities for economy? I searched online to know where the revenue comes from in the service of new media. Where the likes of the Hollywood make their money from. What I discovered is that there are channels alternative to television, there are alternatives to radio with which a big brand like Aquafina can reach the consumer. So, how well we are able to perform today can actually determine the opportunity in new media space. So what I perceive in the new media space today are first, the content development, content generating space. So, the better writers we get, the better animators, video producers, graphic artists and so on, will determine how big the market can be in terms of how well it performs, how well it does in marketing and the business it can generate. And I also feel that we have a big opportunity because it is an enabler to the market. It is not a standalone. New media should not be selling itself. We use this new media to support other causes like Agriculture. I’m from Ekiti, in my grandfather’s farm we’ve got some beautiful specie of banana. It is through new media that the guys somewhere in New York can find that out and connect to invest on that farm. It is new media that allows us connect people from those two ends. So I feel that this enabler of communication is a huge potential market. Each time I travel between Abuja and Kaduna, and look at the hills and rocks, I see tourism and when I see tourism it becomes how we can exploit these potentials. So those are the opportunities that are standing. Because what new media does for us is cost. It helps us bring down the cost of marketing and also increases the speed. You can imagine, Adobe dropped Flash some days back. Remember the days when macromedia flash was the animation tool of choice? Media became so beautiful and rich and from a desk you could animate, create cartoons and do a lot more. A lot of opportunities exist but it’s the new media that can really help to bring out the latent value. So I just really believe it’s the future. I feel it is actually here now, so that means we need to develop our capacities to a point that we become maximally efficient.

The Octagon: Alright, so from this point on, whenever anybody is saying anything that you think you can add or you want to interject, please go ahead. So I’ll just jump off from what you said, which is the fact that we need to develop capacity. Are you trying to stay capacity is a hindrance? Can you give some clarity on that?

Lawal: So, I trained as a dentist. It’s funny how I got into all this. I personally had to go to Ojuelegba to buy books on marketing and books on advertising when I was in marketing school. The guy who runs the bookshop, knew me since I was in primary 2. So he could tell you when I crossed through all the classes. So he knew when I got to med school then started buying advertising books. He once asked me, did you drop out of medical school? I said I didn’t. I had to do a lot of self-study. But that’s not appropriate. The school of communication in Rhode Island in New York is a school that MTV, Universal Music and the likes visit for students to showcase their work and ideas. They pick students right there from design school or school of communication. Today, the system Nigeria has to grow this talent is University of Lagos School of Communication. The schools that exist to grow the talent for us, follow curriculums that have not been developed and updated for years. Mass Communication schools have PRA (Public Relations and Advertising), journalism and broadcast. This is how the school of communication is divided. So in their department that’s where the PR and advertising students learn. And then they have a Design School down the street. My point is, the curriculum today does not even match all of these beautiful things we are talking about. So that’s ideal if I’m going to start an advocacy, I’m going to call the professors of Mass Communication and say you are not building the future for us. You’re wasting resources here, the channel of growth for us is there but we are not growing the people to even take advantage of it. And what I feel might happen down the line is, there’s going to be a vacuum and people are going to come from outside and they’re going to take this space. And I feel that is the big danger now.

Laolu: So talking about people coming from outside, there’s something that just popped into my head. Apart from the fact that I’m more about, “let’s leave the government a bit”. I feel like they’ve put our problems on the government. A guy goes to a bar to drink, he doesn’t have money he’ll say “it’s Buhari”. I think we’ve put too much already on the government and that our major problem in Nigeria is an oath for citizenship, the government are really just from us so when we talk about these things the government is not taking charge of this. It first starts with us we’re not demanding for what we should demand for. But let me go on your point on people coming from outside. New media itself can be an advantage and a big disadvantage to the GDP of Nigeria or our economy. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen more of the disadvantages of new media. New media basically right now is digital media because as you rightly said it is the latest form of communication. So take the EPL for instance, before now, none of us were football fans of maybe Leeds, maybe the older generation we have the 3SCs, you have all of that. Now what New Media did is that is what they call globalization, it makes the world a flat place. And the implication of that is the people that have developed their content are now going to take the potential fan of 3SC or the guy that should have become a fan of Kano Pillars , that guy now becomes an Arsenal fan through new media, because Arsenal has developed its content. Our local league is also suffering because of New Media because now people have access that they didn’t have to foreign clubs. I don’t know how many MFM FC fans we have in here right now. But I know what’s going on in the transfer market of my club and it does not in any way affect my financial bottom line. It does not affect the financial bottom line of my country. As a matter of fact, I’m buying jerseys for them, I’m adding to their GDP via this new media. So I think that as a country, as a people, we need to start to develop, if we don’t develop this content somebody else will develop it and new media will take your money away from you and will give it somebody else by this same avenue.

Isioma: Going from your point, I think that you both are basically saying the same thing in different ways and let me explain that. You’re saying that we don’t have capacity, we don’t have enough content producers, or the infrastructure to create content. I agree. And you’re saying because we don’t have content, it’s basically flight. Nigerian money, the money that should be contributing to our GDP is flying. Now, I was at a graduation recently and it was at Sheffield, University of Sheffield, and I was at a graduation for the Engineering, Civil Engineering department. About 60% of the graduating class was Chinese. What does this say? There’s a deliberate Chinese policy because they know that the future is infrastructure, they are ensuring that their young graduates are being equipped with the requisite skills. So my point is there is a role for government to play in terms of creating policies that encourage students to go into particular fields because you want to develop the capacity of that area. So if I’m going back to your point, yes there’s a problem that our mass communication schools are not teaching digital media. If you go to foreign countries now, and you go to their marketing department about 50% of the courses now are some kind of social media, you have search engine optimization courses, short courses and they are pushing that agenda because they have recognized the value. We have not. But, I still think, going to your story about self-study, that is also in itself another opportunity because there’s also free information on digital media that Nigerians, because we are knowledge thirsty, can have access to and that is even what has driven the growth of digital media right now. So we are at a point where we now need to take the next step which is to actually have a strong national policy on media and communications just the way we’re having with agriculture and all other industries, or the general entertainment industry, or the general creative industries and try to drive and create capacity within that area. So that’s one point. When you look at digital media, it’s not just about media itself in terms of publishing, film, television, traditional media things but the fact that you can leverage other industries. I totally agree that tourism is a massive one. In Ireland they conducted a survey, when people come to Ireland they ask them why they came to Ireland. And 15% of the people that went to Ireland said it was because they had seen Ireland in a film or television show and therefore it created an interest in them wanting to go and see Ireland. Now Ireland has a strong co-production treaty. They have a lot of co-production treaties at the moment with other countries. So basically, it’s cheaper for you to shoot a film with an Irish producer between 2 countries than for you to just shoot it in your country, the same thing is being done in Canada as well. These are government policies that are designed to develop capacity in those areas. Some of the terms of these treaties could be, for instance, you have to employ a certain amount of Nigerians on these kind of projects. Ireland is not a typical film place, it’s not Hollywood, it’s not Bollywood but yet they are getting a lot of impact because they’ve understood that we are not ready but we are going to develop policy to help develop capacity in our country to make us ready for this onslaught. So there is a role and government cannot be left out in the conversation. There’s an interest from government in the entertainment industry right now. But the thing is, they need to identify who the experts are in this area. That is why these conversations are important and they can lead to deliberate policies that affect this area.

Laolu: I think the interest of the government in the entertainment industry is simply because the people in the entertainment industry have taken the bull by the horn and they right now cannot be ignored. I’m saying again that I’m not such a fan of the government, the government this, the government that. You know because I think sometimes when we discuss these matters it almost sounds as though the government is one body from Mars, but the government is actually you and I. I probably know somebody here that knows somebody that is in the government. They come from us, they are amongst us, they are one of us, and they are reflecting us in actual fact. And I tell people that the problem is they’ve been pointing to something that does not exist for a long time. We get this feeling of satisfaction when we say the government. That feeling is the feeling of “I’ve pushed the blame on someone else” and these guys are responsible for my inadequacy and just merely pushing it to the government gives you satisfaction. The ailment on your body is not gone but the fact that you said the government, everybody understands, well, it’s the government. When you talk about new media, I think the new media and the digital media is going to be driven mostly by the youth. But then again, you only need to go on social media to see what digital media is about as far as the youth are concerned. I was speaking with a friend just before the session began, I said listen, if you have an intellectual conversation on social media, and it is going to fly over the heads of people. But immediately you start to say stuff that doesn’t add anything to anybody’s bottom line, you have 355,000 likes. So you see that it’s the comedians that are beginning to gain the traction. I mean laughing is good business. I have no issues with laughing. My point is our government realizing that this is the kind of thing we like will go on air and start to sing and put out a track. They know that these are the kind of things that appeal to this people. Then yesterday they came up with a bill that says “not too young to run” and I imagine in my head that when they were passing that bill they were thinking “look at them, it would not make any difference because these guys are not even prepared”. They don’t have what it takes to take over or to do anything tangible. For new media, as far as they are concerned, they are the ones running it. I mean we should be excited about new media, it’s democratization of media so nobody has the power again to hold information. But guess what, instead of using it as a tool to do all of that, we’re goofing and we’re saying we’re not too young to run.

Ezegozie: Government will not do anything for us until we move first. That’s the truth. That’s worldwide. We need to create and initiate that approach first. For example, it’s for you to go and say, you know what, let me go and buy advertising marketing books to empower myself, the next person may do the same thing. That’s how we build it, that’s how we build capacity. It’s individual, it’s not government. There’s nothing they would do for us because they cannot help what they don’t understand. We’re talking about a generation that is trying to just understand the internet. You now want to introduce twitter, we’ve not got that one and then Instagram comes on top, then after that Snapchat, other media forms. These are just social media platforms, it’s not even the entire new media space. So now, how do we expect these people to do anything for us? They can’t. So we need to build capacity ourselves. Like you said new media now, we have access to sites like coursera.org. We can actually go up and sign up and take courses from around the world, any universities in the comfort of your living room. Once we have now built the capacity individually, entrepreneurs’ people who are actually building locally can emerge. If we want the money to stay here, we need to build it so that the money can be rotating. What’s happening now is people come, they’ll school abroad, they’ll stay abroad because the structure exists and is supporting them. Something like the co-production treaty Isioma mentioned. Nollywood films have been trying to push those things individually for years but the government don’t understand it and they cannot support what they do not understand. For instance our government can say if you want to shoot a film in Africa, come to Nigeria. We’ll give you tax subsidizations, just make sure you hire “x” number of Nigerians, and use a Nigerian crew. This brings money into the country while also building capacity because once they’ve been to a few different production scenes the same way they do in South Africa, they’ll build schools, they’ll build things that will now start to build capacity locally because it’s actually cheaper for them not just from the tax deductions but also the fact that they don’t need to fly people in. So now they can build everything locally. Most of our big award shows, crews are flown in 30, 40, 50 people from other countries to do work that needs to be done here because we don’t have the capacity to do it here. That’s the problem and the people we have need to do more to transfer their knowledge and so it’s all of us here, it’s everyone in this room. If we don’t transfer it, someone else will not grow. We need it build it now. We need to do it ourselves. Forget government, forget anything that has to do with government because they will take too long and by the time they catch up, the next new media form is already out there and what do we do at that point?

Lawal: I think here what we are trying to do is think about the big idea. We can say we are thinking for the country right now. And so for me, it’s important that we do it very systematically because whether we like or not, when we are doing our business analysis, test analysis, the first thing we will need is political and legal framework. The point I’m trying to make is I am a believer in a system that works and how we can fix things. So in terms of fixing things, in public health they say educating the masses is the simplest thing to do so. Because I can just go across the street and shout “Hello, the government of Lagos has announced that there’s a new diarrhea disease in town, three local governments are affected, please do XYZ and you can be protected and if you see ABC, report to me”. By the way that’s a true story. So, you can understand that this is very easy to do. The toughest thing to do is shifting policies to support this but it is the most effective thing to do. This is a big conversation table, all the options we gave are easy to do. I can start a media school tomorrow. What I need to do is get a group of good friends, get good financing and then I’ve started a new school. But we have tons and tons of universities in Nigeria today, the hardest work to do is penetrating those systems to perform. That’s the creative work. It is the work even we must not run from. And that is my own opinion. That it is there, we must do what we need to do to get our school of communique, school of design, school of media to perform. Its hard work, it would mean partnership with those universities who may say no if you approach. Do you want to build a university? It’s a lot of money, but if you partner with a university you are already penetrating an existing system and we can achieve a lot more. That’s my concern about the skill gap because at the end of the day if we still continue to hire foreigners, it is still about the GDP. Every time that I look out, I see young men pushing water on the street, I just imagine in my head this guy could be a surgeon. But who captures his capacity on the street, what framework does Nigeria have for Nigerians as a country to put things together. It could be private sector led, it could be public sector led but it must be systematic. It cannot just be something happening on the side. The story of my organization, Ebola Alert, is that when Ebola happened in Nigeria, a lot of people did stuff, but we integrated with the system. Today we have an opportunity of shaping how diseases are being communicated in Lagos and across mediums in the whole of Nigeria because we worked with the system. If you work outside, it’s all well and good, but how sustainable is working outside? That’s why when you look at some of the major grounds in this work, they don’t deal with people that are just working, no, and they will have to impact the public sector. That is the real mandate that people should have expectations of. Nobody has expectations of me, but they have an expectation of their governor. Even if the governor does not perform today they know that tomorrow (I’m using the example of Lagos State governor) he’ll perform.

Isioma: I just wanted to say that that’s exactly the point I’ve been trying to make. See I’m all for private sector and I’m all for us building and going forward and not waiting for government but in reality, when I started this conversation I said: digital media will reach its capacity as a contributor to the GDP when you’re able to generate the maximum revenue that you can from digital media. And you can only do that with proper infrastructure there’s no two ways about it and like he explained, the government is an integral part of that structure.

Laolu: I don’t totally agree.

Isioma: No you don’t have to agree but it’s the fact. It is the painful fact. When the government decides to be intentional…

Laolu: Are you saying you can change culture with policy? You can’t change culture with policy. You’ll try. People are trying to change culture and there are things that are fundamentally cultural issues. The Oba is likely going to have a better positioning changing the perspective of the people than the government.

Isioma: But the government is not just the Presidency and the Senate. The government is also your local government. So when you have a policy even if it is generated at the House of Reps or at the Senate, there’s a systematic way it trickles down to the people. I think the mistake is that we’re thinking about the government as the president, No! The Government is the entire governmental structure. Which has the president, the ministers, the Senate, the house of reps, the state governments and the local government, it’s an entire structure and policies can be intentional and trickle down through that system.

Laolu: Do you know what OloriSupergirl earned last year?

Isioma: I don’t know what she earned. But it’s not about what she earned as an individual. You affect the GDP when you have a lot of people earning a significant amount of money, then you have a GDP contribution. Not a Linda Ikeji sole person and not an OloriSupergirl sole person. We’re talking about a global thing and not about individuals.

Laolu: Global comes from the individual, global does not just appear.

Isioma: Nobody said global just appears but if we want to talk about the industry we must talk about structure.

Laolu: But we must know what she earns, and what he earns and what they earn. But unfortunately, they are not going to talk about monthly earn because of our culture. But I’m saying that global is just a word. Meaning that its individuals that come together to form global. Let’s break it down. I don’t know how many businesses failed last year, nobody is likely ever going to know how many did last year in Nigeria. So as long as you cannot even tell your friend that you had a CS, if your mother catches you you’re done. You can’t say this is the number of CS you’ve had. There’s no policy any government wants to make that will change that culture.

Isioma: There is, and I’ll explain my point with a simple example. If we’re looking at digital media and we are saying this is an industry, and we want to capture this industry and know its capacity and we create a simple policy that might have to do with taxation or something like that, you’ll find out how much people are earning if you tax them. You have to. If you’re going to have tax paid. I do a lot of work with film. And this is one of the issues I’ve always had with film practitioners. I tell them, you don’t want proper businesses but you want the government to support you. In other countries, I can capture how a policy is working if for instance you do a production and I know how much the budget for the film was, I know how much all the people on the set were paid, if you are getting a tax break it will be based on those numbers. Now if you have a government policy that gives you tax breaks in Nigeria, people will come and submit their figures. Whether the figures will be 100 per cent accurate is a totally different conversation, but at least we have something. So I don’t agree that we’ll forever be in this shrouded cloud of mystery because it’s our culture that we don’t like sharing information. That’s a serious point for me.

The Octagon: One of the things I’ve heard come up here is that there isn’t any data to support anything right? How do we ensure we have data? Because even though it seems as though you guys are coming from opposite sides, it really is based on the fact that there’s no data at all. So my question would be– Are there ways that we can ensure and drive gathering of data?

Laolu: There’s hope, and hope never goes into recession. The reason we are still smiling is because hope never goes into recession.

But this our attitude, I meet people that keep saying that we have to talk about the citizens. Let’s leave the government out of it, let’s leave them for a while and let’s talk about us. Imagine the floods that happened, they turned it into mainland versus island issue and it was fun. And I read all that was said and I’m like, this is the best way we could actually capture it on digital media. And I’m like, nobody knows the depth of the rain, and at what depth can we not take it anymore and what we can do? If you go to Oceanography, it’s another infrastructure to siphon money. And the citizens are having a laugh and enjoying it. And I said, when this floods go and the conversation about the flood stops, then we have a big problem and it’s a citizen problem. Because we had something like this six years ago and immediately the flood stopped, the conversation ended. So I say it’s not the government but the people who are not ready to take their destiny into their hands but are willing to just live whatever will be will be and who ever can get to Canada, goes to Canada. So let’s leave the government alone and just talk about us.

Ezegozie: We are here to find the way forward, what is the solution? How do we as individuals create solutions to these problems? For me it’s two direct things and one is education. When we talk about tax breaks, are we sure everybody in this room understands what a tax break is? So it comes back to education and the fact that it’s each of our responsibility to educate those around us to understand why we need data, why we need to focus on these issues and why we should not let go of the issues when it passes because that’s why Nigeria is in the same place now because you deal with issues when it’s in front of you. The moment it’s not there you forget about it because there’s some other things in front and too many problems to face. So if we want to start solving these problems and following them up we need to educate people.

Secondly, I believe that as much as people are against centralizing these things, you mentioned data, yes we need it. But how do we get people to submit data that they do not want to submit? Where it is culture and/or lack of education, how do we get them to actually submit the data so that we can have a larger conversation on a national and African level as well as a global level? We can’t do anything without data. I give Universal as a perfect example. Universal has wanted to come to Nigeria properly for a long time. But there has been no data to support why Universal should invest in Nigeria’s music industry. So if you ask artistes how much they are making from one CD, they’ll not say instead they’ll inflate it just to make Africa’s Forbes top entertainers list when half of them should not even be there and the other half that are richer will not even give us the data. So yes, part of it is government policy but it’s also left for us to educate each other on why we need these data, and how it would not just impact you as an individual but the community as well. So we need to figure out what is the solution? How do we individually create ways and systems that will get this information that we need.

Lawal: When I was in school, I had the opportunity of interning with a Centre in the US, they were dealing in building a platform for health IT in the US, and it was purely government funded. And the reason they made it government funded I guess, is also because it reduces the cost for the citizens, but the private sector wanted a part of that deal. Recently I was opportune to run a research Centre in the University of Lagos with a private sector funding. I called some of the faculties and asked how we could work together? My goal was to see how we could make money from the knowledge economy. I found out that in a certain faculty, 65 faculty members published 67 papers in 365 days. That means that in one year, not less than one lecturer published a paper. You see the data we are looking for is out there. And the process of collecting data is open knowledge, it’s no more advanced now but the work of getting it done is probably what is missing. I think one of the places we can start from, which I believe is one of the low hanging opportunity which was part of what we did two years ago. We did what we called hand washing in marketplace and we went across Lagos to collect data on the use of toilets in Lagos. Was there water, a sink, do they have soil? And we collected the data across Lagos, and then filled it and concluded that in order to improve on the data output. If you look at Nielson, I don’t know where he got the data but for the likes of Nielson it’s intense work. Sometimes, I wonder what the incentive is for people just sitting down and collecting consumer data on use of hotels, the use of photography, or how many GB of data have been uploaded on YouTube this year. You’ll be wondering what the use of that data is. But those are the low hanging opportunities to start from. I met a group of ladies during the week, they use young girls, train them and get them to collect data on different issues. It is private sector led and there has to be commission. You need a lot of workers to go there. Data collection or data science is an open knowledge based you mentioned Coursera, I think guys can look it up, go on Coursera, learn about data science or even start basic understanding of recent methodology. I think those are things you can do. This meeting we have here is an opportunity for research. It is an opportunity for a group of people already in new media who can run samples of these issues. There’s something we call innovation diffusion period. When the first silicon chip was being built in Silicon Valley, it was not of interest to any human selling market anywhere in the US. Innovation does not get to the last man first, and as an innovator that’s the way you build. You don’t build with the mind-set that everyone is going to jump at you, it is your responsibility, and that’s the game. If you have smart content developers, they will sell this stories and people will buy. You see what I do with Ebola Alert is that I go to places, because health is not an issue in Nigeria. I was working in Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and I know when meningitis started in Nigeria last year. I know when it became an issue in Nigeria. It took about 3 months, people were not talking until people were just dying. So what I do every day of my life is that I wake up every morning and try to make the issue of health something people will move towards and make sense of. It is hard. The day it works I’m going to be a billionaire in dollars. It’s my business. It’s my headache to penetrate the university system, work with the government, learn, and go to school. People ask me how are you dealing with government, go to school and learn this thing better, it’s a new idea. My point is, what we are talking about we call it reciprocation. One person makes government but government began in government, but it’s also run by individuals, that’s social science. What I want people to understand is we that can solve this problem and there are methods to solve this problem. We’re here to learn, people just need to identify where these knowledge systems are. You go pick yours, and run with it. Data is tough, even in the US, it’s not something you easily find. So we need to be active about our own, how can you start? You are a young person and you’ve heard about it now. Data is a big problem in Nigeria, go out there. If you’ve not gone to the university, this is the time to go and study Math and statistics in the university. Pick up python, pick up R’s, start learning all those coding languages because these are the tools that are used to improve data all over the world today.

Laolu: The problem is not python and all of that because before those guys are done those things might have become obsolete but I hear you. I think the solution is actually about peer to peer sensitization. We should begin to leave the government out of it for now and we need to start with ourselves. We need those guys that are visible on the new media to start to put their weight on the ground and then get somethings out there because government is not going to do that for us. I mean we talked about Ebola. Ebola control was successful in Nigeria because it was a matter of life and death and it’s a cultural thing too, we don’t play with death. And even a Yoruba adage says “When we fight, there’s a limit; when death shows up, everybody is at peace”. I’m saying that arresting the spread Ebola was successful as a campaign, because it involved death and anybody will listen to you at that point. Immediately it left go and check the guys selling hand sanitizers, a lot of them began to sell other things. So what am saying is that we need to start to talk to each other. We need to start to change the way we see things, we need to stop liking some posts on social media so that people will begin to realize that this is the new media and realize what is important. That we can’t just put garbage out there and get retweets. I’m saying that the only way we can change culture is to begin to create interaction, it cannot be policy. In other words, I’m saying that we need to start within ourselves. Allowing what is good and what is right and disapproving of what is not good. What is not good is not good regardless of the time zone you are in. As long as people begin to say no, and we say this is Nigeria and anything goes. We say it and we go to the filling station to buy fuel and I say to the attendant I need a receipt and the attendant asks me how much do I write on the receipt. You need to immediately rebuke that behavior. You ask back what do you mean how much should I write on the receipt, how much fuel did I buy? And I found that we let these opportunities pass and we are saying the government needs to fix it. The government cannot fix it, the government comes from you and I. When you go into politics and you make money, your mother does not ask you where you made the money from and we say it’s the government. It’s not the government, it’s you and I. Gone are the days when you make money your parents call you and ask you where did you make this money from? Today you ride a Range Rover you put it on social media and everybody is happy for you. Nobody is asking questions anymore. So it is us because the senators that goes and started dancing on social media had likes, people put it there. In other words, we validated it by our likes and attention.

Isioma: You people are diverting a little bit.

Laolu: No! It is important that this is said because we put out culture on new media. Now this culture which should be making us money is actually eroding our revenue and we cannot say that this is what we have added to the GDP from Twitter last year and we cannot say that from Instagram, this is the number of businesses, this is what they sold and this is what they made. We cannot say some of those easy things partly because of our culture, the secretive nature of our culture. So some of those cultural issues we can only attend to on peer to peer level. I’m saying that the government cannot change it. So we need to start, you and I need to take a position and then we decide what we want to do and spread the message amongst our network.

Ezegozie: With every good, there’s bad. We can focus on the bad, but the fact is that it is actually each of our responsibility as well as this conference as well to say you know what? In addition to entertainment news expose, let’s also focus on the hard issues. We easily share, tweet, repost the soft issues that make us forget about the main issue. So it becomes a responsibility. So it’s platforms like the Octagon Room for example that have conversations about real hard topics but you’ll not see them on the platforms they should be on because people don’t want to talk about those things.  So you’re right, it’s sensitization in terms of peer to peer. So we need to start, we’re doing the same thing the government is doing, we’re having a conversation. But how do we actively now say, you know what, alongside every five posts that OloriSupergirl puts out on entertainment content, let’s put out two or three of our health issues, education, things that begin to put those issues on the fore front, that’s from a small business level. Now individual level as well we need to do the same thing. It’s beyond education. It’s about letting people know that these issues are just as important as the other. And you’re right, it’s not just eroding Nigeria, it’s a global issue. We now need to focus on the right things. That’s the only way it can change. So now digital media, all of us can sit here and attest to how digital media has allowed us to grow. It may have taken away, but it has added more than it has taken away, that’s the reason we have this conference. So it’s now to take that platform and begin to push individual, deliberate agendas around digital media. How do we empower people? How do we stay in the labor world now? Let’s bring them together? We need to have those conversations, because we can have these conversations for the next six to eight hours but it will continue.

We need to say what is the solution? Now what I will do as well is put everyone on the spot. Individually, figure out a way before this session ends, how we can individually find a way to empower people within the new media space. I’ll say now as we are setting up, let’s bring in people, let’s go to universities, let’s find people that are ready to intern, ready to work, and ready to learn in the space. Let’s talk to OloriSupergirl and say, you know what, as we are training them, let’s put them under your care as well. Let them learn part of the business they want to learn, let them grow as individuals. Those are things that we can individually say, you know what, this is what we want to do, and everyone can do the same thing. So we need to take the responsibility ourselves. Forget government, government will not do anything until we do it. We have to reach performance. At least it gets to the point like in the entertainment industry when Wizkid is doing this and doing that, now they’re taking interest because someone outside has said something. Not because they did the work they needed to do here. One of our ministers said that if they did not put the policy of 90% of Nigerian music on radio, that today there will be no P Square. It’s not about that. The policy happened because music was being created. Because they saw that, you know what? This is a good product. So in order to make myself look good, let me put this policy in place. That’s how that change came. It’s not an individual. We as a leadership made that happen. And it starts with an individual.

Isioma: I am very aware of the cultural issues. It was supposed to be about these are the things we need to do to move us forward. These are the kind of policies, or best practice things that we need to be doing to move us forward. I now went and started doing all this research about what have you done in this country and I came here and the whole conversation is about how we have been posting funny stuff, and we’re not been serious. I get that but like Ezegozie said that’s a non-conversation, like this is the real conversation. And one of the things I want you to talk about is the fact that there’s a copyright bill that has been pending since 2015 at the national assembly. And this bill will directly affect digital media because one of the sections of this proposed bill is saying there might be a responsibility on ISP (internet service providers) that if someone on their ISP, for instance if I’m using Smile and I’m a content owner and I’m able to show or prove that someone using Smile internet is consuming my content illegally without paying that the ISP then has the responsibility to send a demand notice to this user to stop them from doing that. That’s a very big deal for digital media. So those are the conversations, and this bill has been at the house since 2015. But the point is that that’s why we’re having this conversation. How many people even knew that the bill was there? How many even knew what the sections of the bill was? In America you have Digital Millennium Act, they passed this in 1998. What this Act does is it regulates digital distribution, how content can be used. And these are the type of policies and laws that will need to passed in Nigeria for us to be able to make maximum revenue. Whether you like it or not, you can do whatever you want as an individual. But for you to reach your maximum capacity to reach the maximum account and number of people to grow the industry, you need to have proper policies. Everyone go and read the copyright bill 2015 online. Break it apart, I think there are things that are a little sketchy and let’s talk about those conversations and let’s do a social media drive to get this bill to pass. These are the type of things we need.

The Octagon: Alright thank you very much. Let’s put our hands together for our panelists.

 

 

The reason and remedy for the decline in educational standard over the last 20 years

Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon: Thanks for accepting to be a part of this Octagon Room. Today’s topic is tagged “The reason and remedy for the decline in educational standard over the last 20 years.” 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?

 

Moyo: I’m Moyo Jogunosimi, fondly called Moyotician. I’m a Math tutor. I run a company called The Lifematics Centre; a creative mathematics company focused on helping the African child enjoy mathematics.

Doyin: Doyin Idowu. Founder One Word Africa – A dyslexia 911 initiative

Tolu: Hello. My name is Tolulope Sokefun. I’m currently studying Early Childhood education in the University of Lagos. I run 2 radio shows on Unilag fm 103.1, Child World and Dream City.

Tola: Hi , I am Adetola Salau an international educator, Scientist, Engineer and the author of more than five books, one of which has been critically acclaimed as a roadmap for transforming our educational system; it is entitled, *”Future Readiness in Education”

 

The Octagon: The Nigerian educational system has been a thing of beauty especially during the era of our nascent republic. The crop of young leaders and their contemporaries that lived during that era possessed a high level of thinking, communication skill and purpose, including articulate strategies for charting a new course for history. Failure or success, Nigeria was birth out of those times. More so it’s apparent that these qualities possessed by the men of the older generation including; Bishop Ajayi Crowther, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Olusegun Obasanjo, Yakubu Gowon, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and so on are all part and parcel of the full package of education.

It is common knowledge that the standard of Nigerian education has fallen, based on the records of WAEC/NECO/JSCE/National common entrance. Somewhere during the late 90’s onwards, we have witnessed a steady downward slide in students’ performance in examinations, and several other important areas including confidence, articulation & leadership qualities.

There are many questions to be asked and also many stakeholders to be reviewed, but for the purpose of this conversation we will like to appraise what role education has played, how education can affect and how education can begin to change in order to shape now and the future.

 

Doyin: Yes these statements are true. The reason for the decline in my opinion is that the system is not moving with the speed of the world. The curriculum is still the way that it is – It worked for the likes of Ahmadu Bello, but so much has changed now. The standard is great if it’s preparing student for the 80s but not quite for 2017 and definitely not the future.  65% of the youth would be employed for jobs that don’t exist yet and the system is not preparing them (us) for it.

 

Moyo: Yes. There has been a decline. Several things are responsible for this decline but I’ll outline few.

1. Increased unemployment factor: due to increase in employment, many people have resulted into teaching. These persons have little or no passion for the job, hence going the extra mile is not in their agenda.

This affects the way they teach, affects what students know and of course their performance in external examination. And as Doyin said, education hasn’t been upgraded. Because most teachers aren’t speaking the language of the century, many students aren’t interested.

 

Tola: The decline is due to various factors. #1 is the effect of brain drain in my opinion – The best of our academics are all over the world. Brilliant professors like my parents relocated overseas and the best of their efforts were over there instead of it being dedicated to our nation. #2 is the lack of relevance we have given education as a nation.

 

Doyin: It’s even better if students aren’t interested and they are left to navigate their ways. They are chastised for not been interested and we are trying to suppress their knowledge. We want to force the old thinking style on them

 

The Octagon: There might be no “single pill” cure for all these issues. How can we remedy the situation such that it recovers progressively?

 

Moyo: Teach students the way they learn rather than compelling them to a one shoe fits all technique. Make students see education as a tool that will give them an edge in life rather than a means to getting “paper” (certificate). With reengineering of teaching techniques, it can be achieved although this may kick out the old cargoes that are resistant to change.

 

Tola: That’s what I kept stressing about in my new book- Future readiness in education. We need to restructure how we see education, and empower our students. The absolute most important tool for our children is creativity

 

Doyin: Yes totally agree. The problem is with the one size fit all mentality. If that can go, it’s the genesis of solving the problem. The one size cannot fit all. The system has to recognise the unique potential in every child and harness it. First we need to recognise there are four specific learning styles. Second we need to restructure the curriculum to serve the world of now. Third it needs to be sustainable. Four it needs to be in line for the future.

Here’s how I see it.  I’d like to share an article that I wrote a while back.

My stand on the educational system. According to the definition by Wikipedia Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. So in other words the goal of education is ensure that students are LEARNING

“We define learning as the transformative process of taking in information that—when internalized and mixed with what we have experienced—changes what we know and builds on what we do. It’s based on input, process, and reflection. It is what changes us.”

That said

Second focus is the Complexity of the human brain. The fact that no two people are the same. Every individual is unique. And the process of learning will differ.

There are four learning styles.

1. The visual

2. The auditory

3. The read write

4. The kinesthetic

People learn using a variety of these methods, but one method is usually predominant in everyone.

But in the educational system of today teachings are usually made to serve mostly the read-write learning style (ask around. Do your personal research, attend a class if you are no longer in school. Just get the facts)

But have we ever heard the saying “Everyone is a genius. And if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. It will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”?

What about the Observation “For a fair selection everybody has to take the same exam”?

Both of the statements deal with the educational system and the mode of evaluation.

So would you agree with me that the system has been automatically telling the elephant, the monkey, the chicken and the fish to climb one same tree?

While the monkey will find it very easy to climb the tree, and the chicken may make an effort which could still result in success (the chicken would actually have to fly not climb) but the point is it’s on the tree. No matter how much you tell the elephant and Donkey to read more and pray more (Nigerian parents watch word) it can never climb the tree.

So parents, teachers, educators and care givers rather than frustrate the Donkey and elephant. Making them repeat a class, calling their test scores in class and making their mates make a mockery of them, rather than reducing their self-esteem to zero, and making them get to the point where they personally identify themselves as stupid, dumb not enough. Rather than flogging them and trying to make them conform to a system that shouldn’t be. Rather than comparing them to that child that doesn’t have two heads but comes first in class.

Address what ought to be addressed.

Stop the violation in every form and put your energy where you ought to put it. 

 

Tolu: Ignorance on the parts of some of the classroom teachers is not an excuse. I’ve had the opportunity to visit some schools who claimed to have been using the British curriculum when they do not even know or have not seen the Nigerian curriculum. Every teacher is expected to have a copy of the Nigerian curriculum at hand and follow the guiding principles of the curriculum. Nigeria is a country of its own. While it is encouraged to learn from other developed countries, we should also have it in mind that their curriculum is structured according to their societal needs so adopting their curriculum verbatim by verbatim is absolutely wrong. I also believe that it is pertinent for every single person in the education field to understand that they are major stakeholders in curriculum development and should not hesitate to contribute effectively towards the development and implementation of the Nigerian curriculum. Also, one of the major content stated in the Nigerian curriculum is that “the language of teaching should be the language of the immediate environment”.

How many schools are aware of this? How many schools practice this? How many parents are knowledgeable about this?  This is one of the major problem as major stakeholders are not enlightened on this issue. We have situations where schools trying to practice this are being threatened by parents to withdraw their children from such schools as they fear they won’t  be able to speak the borrowed language, English well. This I fear is one of the major factors leading to the deterioration of our culture.

 

E Nyamador: Education has declined because we have failed to redesign our curriculum to match the 21st century skills required. Our curriculum is too rigid. It doesn’t allow room for creativity. It’s mostly about “chew and pour” (reproduction of what has been taught). We assess our students without considering their abilities. There’s is this image on the Internet showing animals such as an elephant, a monkey, a bird and a fish attending an interview. The interviewer in that image said for the sake of fairness, all the interviewees will have to take the same exam- climb a tree. For me, that sums up our educational system.

 

Doyin: We are blinded by the fact that we all share same physical characteristics – Hands, Legs. Etc. We don’t accommodate the differences in humans. People have different learning capacities, People have different potentials. We can’t impose what we feel on students. We can’t continue to teach what to think but rather how to think.

 

Moyo: Exactly my point

 

The Octagon:  Clearly the educational revolution Nigeria needs won’t come on a platter. One issue that stands out is the “one size fits all” system.  What are the tangibles and intangibles required to facilitate the process of changing this system?

 

Doyin:  First recognise the different learning styles, then recognise possible limitations – like the presence of a learning disability or mental disability. Third we should let kids explore their minds, train them to be thinkers, encourage innovations and entrepreneurial skills. Fourth we should think in line of the 21st century. Fifth people making the decision about education like the curriculum should actually be in the system, be attending classes, be facing this things first hand, not people who haven’t seen the four wall of the classroom since their graduation. But because they are in power they make decisions based on what worked for them not what works now. In this line One Word Africa has invented the Support Curriculum. I shouldn’t say invent, but we restructured the curriculum provided by the ministry of education, accommodated the British and Montessori curriculum, putting into consideration learning disabilities, mental disabilities and physical disabilities.

 

E Nyamador: The curriculums of the international schools around the world (CIE, Edexcel, IB etc) are quite flexible to the extent almost every child with a learning disability can fit in and learn something but that is not the case with ours. Most of the students in these international schools cannot thrive in our schools.

 

Moyo: I agree. Those creating curriculum should be classroom teachers not some political officials. Primary school teachers should create primary school curriculum not University professors creating primary school curriculum.


Tolu: I advise all passionate educators to participate actively in changing the educational system of our beloved country.

 

Doyin: Good points stated here. But I do not totally agree with you. I have been able to review four major curriculums – The Nigerian, The British, The Montessori, and Finland’s. Putting major highlights on the Nigerian curriculum (I don’t hate Nigeria as a matter of fact am in love with the country and I feel we can do so much more than we are doing now, we have the capacity to pull off anything we want to pull off here in Nigeria). But the way the curriculum is structured, I personally would not use it, learning your culture and heritage is amazing, no doubt about that but learning it to do what with it?

I’m sure if we think deep we would come up with ways to use what we learn from the culture and heritage of Nigeria, but there’s no follow up in the curriculum that gives room to harnessing that. That said, I agree with you about not focusing on other curriculums but focusing on Nigeria’s but the way the situation is as of now. We had better learn from others who have gotten it right. We need to train products that can compete globally. Another point you stated about the teachers. Yes agreed the structure in itself has different faults. It would take more than a 1 hour conversation to tackle it. Some teachers are not supposed to be teachers. First teaching has to stop being a course that is open to all. The criteria needs to be high for admission requirements. The way medical students, engineering or law students go through so much just to get into school is the same way it needs to be for teachers.  So that we can easily filter the mass in the field and have just the passionate ones that know what teaching entails. As long as we have teaching as an option for anyone who didn’t get their specific courses in schools, o someone who just doesn’t want or stay at home pending admission, We will always get a lower quality than what we expect.

I won’t agree to ignorance. Some “teachers” are not ignorant – they just need to be ripped of the title because they are not “teachers”.  Let’s forget about the problems for now and let’s focus on what learning is and what education ought to be, that’s when we can really get a solution.

What is Education?

What is learning?

What is a brain?

How does it work?

What is the 21st century about?

What are the new things that are likely to happen in the next century?

What are the required things the students need to know to be future ready?

How can we teach them?

What tools?

What resources?

What are the possible limitations that would stop this from happening? (This part will open our minds to accommodate learning disorders, physical disabilities, and mental disorders)

When we know this then let’s move on to answering the question

How can we make it work in spite of this limitations?

Until then, please stop fighting for the rights of students to gain access to free education, some of them are better off, with being taught a skill that they can make money from.

THE OCTAGON Partners with NMC to promote learning and healthy discussion among young Nigerians

Posted on: June 27th, 2017 by The Moderator No Comments

The first edition debate in collaboration with New Media Conference, featured 4 brilliant 11th graders representing CIS and DOWEN colleges Lekki, with the former proposing that Social Media does Enrich Education, and the latter opposing. The international debate format was employed, allowing for an interruption of the opposing speaker with remarks countering the stated arguments. The format also allowed floor speeches, providing the audience an opportunity to air their views and opinions on the subject matter without directly referring to the statements of the speakers.

It was an electric atmosphere as the audience were treated to an informative debate, by well-articulated speakers with a composure that can rival Barrack Obama. In attendance were the co-founders of the Octagon Mr Akinlabi Akinbulumo and Mrs Adaora Mbelu-Dania. Also present was Miss Tosin Ajibade, CEO of OSG communications. The team of Judges consisted of Mr Olaolu Ogundeji, Miss Chinwe, Mr IniOluwa Odekunle and Mr Jay Elone.

The debate kicked off with the moderator reading off the rules of the debate and the grading system.

The first speaker for CIS Jade Mkparu proposed that social media can enrich education, backing her statement by stating some educational benefits tied to social media, Most people are not aware that Wikipedia is indeed a form of social media as its content are a collective contribution of various peoples research and knowledge about various topical issues. Wikipedia has directly impacted millions of students worldwide. She further argued that there is a plethora of information available to students on YouTube including instructional videos, and documentaries. These videos are highly effective engagement tools that can make learning simple, practical and fun simultaneously. She rounded off commenting that, Social media is arguably an essential in these climes and proper social media education will ensure that its positive potential value will be derived from its use in classrooms.

Tekena Mac-yoroki the first speaker for Dowen College, in her opening remarks responded with scenarios, positing that social media ads can be a form of distraction for students who use the platform to learn, as the average attention span grows shorter and shorter. According to her, research has shown that Social media encourages poor writing as most students forget correct word spellings, due to prolonged use of social media slangs and shorthand when chatting and commenting, this is mostly evident after the long summer holidays. Add to the list of woes cyber-bullying and various forms of online harassment, stalking, invasion of privacy and phishing as students regularly post updates about their activities and the scales are tipped in a downward movement.

In her final point, she propounded that Social media can take away the feeling of being in a classroom, as students can get sucked into the false cocoon of online notoriety, trends and virtual friends, thus leading to a breakdown in social relations, evident in loss of confidence, awkwardness and social impropriety. All this ensures that students have low tendency to ask questions in the classroom and instead rely on social media platforms to provide answers, these answers are most often the personal opinion of the writer/poster without any credible or thorough research to undergird.

Next came the supporting speaker for CIS in the person of Kofo Jolaoso, she raised two points in favor of Social media use in classrooms including the possibility of tailoring lessons to various segments of students which is made possible by the different content sharing techniques of Social media and the gap bridged between students and their awareness about their environment through varied use of photos and contents. She ended strongly emphasizing that social media is the beginning of a new era for emerging students.

Olamide Odubena the supporting speaker for Dowen college followed immediately reiterating that social media is a major source of distraction and can be termed a colossal waste of time. She also spoke on the addictive nature of social media and its tendency to detach students from the real world where valid lessons are dished out every passing minute.

The floor was thrown open to the audience and the students held varying stances on the debated topic. At this juncture the moderator Mr Damola Adepetun congratulated both teams for an excellent show of professionalism, preparedness and quality presentation.

As a round up to the event, a short presentation on social media was delivered by one of the judges. Finally the winner and runner-up were announced, with prize presentations to the participants. CIS clinched the top prize followed closely by their colleagues in Dowen college.

It was an amazing time, an eye opener into the calibre of great minds the young generation possess, the majority stating how much they anticipate another showdown in the nearest future.

The Octagon remains committed to creating this kind of experience in order to raise the general level of thinking amongst people, until solutions and changes are precipitated.

The Impact of Photography on society and telling the African Story

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 by The Moderator 1 Comment

The Octagon: Welcome To The Octagon.

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?

Mo: Hi I’m Muhammad Yahaya , you can call me Mo. I’m an aspiring filmmaker/entrepreneur/inventor-innovator. I love to create, I’m in love with the idea of change and most importantly, sustainable change

 

Okolo: Hi, my name is Okolo Eboesomi. I run a photography outfit called ArcherConcepts Media which specializes in events photography services.

 

Solomon: I’m Solomon Abe, Creative Director of AFE Studios, I am a photographer with wedding and portrait photography as my forte, I also shoot other genre too. I tutor and mentor younger aspiring photographers.

 

Tokunbo: Hi everyone, I’m Ola-Tokunbo Aworinde. In the official photographer at the US Embassy, Nigeria.

 

Tayo: Hi everyone, I’m Temitayo Ige. I was a commercial photographer, but now it’s only a hobby.

 

Gideon: Hi Guys, My name is Gideon Gambo, am a Wedding, Lifestyle and Documentary Photographer based in Kaduna/Abuja.

Damilola: Hi , I am Damilola Onafuwa , a documentary photographer

 

The Octagon: Thanks for the introductions. Today’s topic is tagged “The Impact of Photography on society and telling the African Story.”

Nigeria and Africa has in last 5 years experienced the sudden emergence of a large number of what we can call pro-amateur photographers as a result of increased access to DSLR cameras and mobile devices with great camera technology. The conversion rate from amateur to professional photography has also spiked in last 2 years as more and more people are learning the necessary techniques and investing in equipment. Some have claimed said that the boom within the entertainment industry has also been responsible for this.

Regardless of the growth in the number of photographers, the African story is still not being told as it should and brands still look to foreign online stock stores to purchase images. It is difficult to find free or royalty images that capture the relevant views of Africa/Nigeria people or elements online.  

Are the people we have generally called pro photographers truly professional ? What are the top challenges pro photographers face in Nigeria?

 

Okolo: I believe a professional photographer is a photographer who earns most, if not all of his income from photography, and i think the major problem we have is that of specialization. You have one person doing 3-5 different aspects of photography and is all over the place creating poorly produced images.

 

Solomon: I think that a lot of persons venture into photography these days just to make ends meet, and not because they are passionate about creating great moments. Some of these people, haven’t harnessed the necessary skills as regards telling stories – they  just point and shoot.

 

Mo: I think they are professionals, and if not have the capacity to be professional. But the understanding of photography as a business is still quite limited. We have to acknowledge that it is an art first, and a business second. That will begin to widen perspective and create a variety of approach to developing a discipline or  a number of disciplines with regards to photography as an art and a business.

 

Tokunbo: In my opinion, the challenge photographers face at the moment is poor access to quality equipment, particularly due to the difficulty in accessing forex in the country.  As far as the use of the term “professional photographer” goes, I believe the issue is that anyone can call themselves a professional photographer without necessarily passing through a clear and defined curriculum or receiving a certification from a generally accepted authority.

 

Tayo: I think because there is no regulation of standards, almost everyone with a DSLR calls themselves professionals. If for example there was a level people were to attain before they can be called professionals then it would have been way better.

 

Tokunbo: This is as a result of the afore mentioned increase in access to DSLRs compared to the days of analogue photography and, more particularly, the better access to information through the internet and better networking and mentoring via social media and other digital platforms. All positives.

 

Solomon: You very correct, but I don’t think certification is the hallmark, because some people have gone through some programs and are not better than some self-taught or YouTube-taught photographers. I think it’s the ability to create stunning images (consistently) that makes you a pro, not certification.

 

 

Tayo: I think the reference to certification is basically about standards. A number of professional photographers do not hone true skills first. They do not find their niche before ‘coming out’

 

Okolo: I believe art is dynamic, it means different things to different people – What one person may consider bad, is what another will call exceptional. Just as Tayo stated, we should have a reference standard for all who practice the art of photography.

 

Tayo: As Okolo said, art is a case of beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Mo: Standards are basically judged upon the principles of taste. And  taste is a wide spectrum, maintained only through the audiences/market for it.

 

The Octagon: More and more people who are taking great strides around the world seem to have been self taught or at least advanced their skill through this process of self teaching. Is it safe to say that anyone who commits over 50% of their time is professional or is it about how the public perceives what they create? or is it about earning a larger % of income from this.

 

Tayo: I know at least two top photographers that were computer scientists, who are determined not to settle in the field. They have continued to hone their skills over time. For some people, If they’re not driven by the art, then it’s going to be hard to produce stunning images People have undergone years of trainings, under study, one on one work critique, etc and we can see the results of all of that hard work and discipline.

 

Solomon: A person’s dedication to what he/she does (studying, shooting, post production). When a person dedicates his resources (time and money) into improving himself, then he can be called a professional photographer, it’s not about how much you make from photography, because that could easily be influenced by your marketing strategy.

 

Mo: Being professional is more about ethics and manners. Presentation. Being skillful however, is a totally different thing. Now when it comes to making a career out of it, I believe you have to be all in, 100%..

 

Okolo: Being a professional is not only about the % of income, there are other things like time spent on the trade. It’s just like the person who spends 5 yrs in the university, will come out with a BSC in the course of study. It doesn’t end there,  there is a constant self improvement aspect which involves certifications, and inventions. Also, skill and ethics is what differentiates one individual from another. Just like there are engineers who might not know the first thing about building a device. but they have the relevant degree.

 

Tayo: I agree. There’s skill and the there’s ethics.

 

 

The Octagon: How much in your opinion has photography in general (professional or amateur) impacted the Nigerian society?

 

 

Okolo: I’d like to answer that based on the different sectors. In fashion and entertainment,  it has played a very significant role in building brands and showcasing our works. However, in other sectors, I’m afraid we have not even scratched the surface.

 PLEASE CONTINUE — NEXT PAGE

Nollywood: Where are we now ? What’s our future ? (Part 1)

Posted on: February 13th, 2017 by The Moderator 1 Comment

video camera for news tv broadcasting

The Octagon Room: Welcome to the Octagon Room.  Thank you for accepting our invitation. Let’s begin with some introductions before going into discussions. Can everyone let us know who they are, and share a bit about what they do?

Daniel: Hello, my name is Daniel Effiong. I’m a filmmaker & actor.

Baba: Hey everyone, my name is Baba Agba. I am a filmmaker and photographer.

Ijeoma: Hello my name is Ijeoma Aniebo. I’m an actor, TV presenter/producer, writer, model, PR and Brand consultant – All round entertainment busy body.

Soji: I’m Soji Ogunnaike, digital Content Producer and director. Founder and CEO of Rushing Tap.

The Octagon: Thanks everyone. Let’s kick off. Now the world’s second-largest film industry – ahead of Hollywood – in terms of the number of annual film productions (which roughly translates to 40 films per week, at an average cost of $40,000 per project), Nollywood has built itself into a $3Billion industry in just under two decades.  It was a guerrilla film industry from the ground up: there are no studios, no sets, no structure at all in place. Financed by groups of individuals, movies are made as quickly and cheaply as possible, shooting on location on a shoestring budget.

Film maker and past president of ITPAN captures the current situation by saying “Two decades down the line, that pattern has not changed much, yet, there is so much expectation with regard to the economic potential of the industry. The pattern of production and distribution soon became overly driven by desperate moves for marginal profit, without a structured, systematic distribution framework that can be sustained and verified.  Worse still, the major players in the industry have become fairly comfortable with the “success” of the industry; BUT the technology that brought about the breakthrough has moved on and frankly everyone seems to have been largely caught unawares. This in my humble opinion, is the crux of Nollywood’s underdevelopment.”

What in your opinion is the true state of nollywood? What are the key areas that need to progress to get it to truely compete with the leading movie industries?

Baba: I think the new numbers have Bollywood as the biggest and Nollywood second. We actually churn out more films than Hollywood.

Soji: Nollywood to me is a moniker that doesn’t really embody an industry. It seems like another “me too” badge. Let’s try to keep those inflated numbers in our pockets for a bit and focus on the economic health of the industry. Even if we produce more films than Bollywood, has that improved the health of the industry? Every industry can cook up fancy numbers based on a metric to woo investors. So number of films churned out aside, what’s the average ROI per feature film, serial drama or short film?

Ijeoma : Thank you. I was just about to ask where these figures came from.

Baba: The figures at this point are undeniable. The question is what do these figures translate to. And like you rightly point out, the health of the industry? What’s it’s state.

I think we first need to define what is Nollywood before we start comparisons. Is it a film industry, a home video industry or a content industry. As an average and based on when the studies are ($1=N160)

Ijeoma: In my experience, there is no industry. To do that, there must be specialisation and we are either by nature or by circumstance avoiding this progression.

Daniel: I think the model which started up as a home video venture and transformed into a multimillion dollar industry is hardly sustainable. The content consumer culture is changing and Nollywood must adapt with it.

Baba: Exactly. In my view Nollywood is a home video industry posturing as a Film/Cinema industry. And making that transition is where the problem is.

Soji: The consumer behaviour hasn’t changed much in my opinion. The masses still prefer to watch films at home, regardless of whether it’s on VCD, DVD or VOD. The tech just has to suit the consumers situation.

Baba: Consumer taste has tho. And That’s another different chapter.

Soji: More like Lagos consumer’s taste has changed. The highest target demo of the “core” Nollywood consumers is still our mummies and grandmas. Don’t even get it twisted. Hence why Africa Magic Yoruba and Epic are DSTVs highest watched channels. Now let’s get back to the fundamental basics of business. Create a product, identify the niche market and sell at a margin. The more transactions that occur in the industry the healthier the industry gets. Now what’s missing is an effective distribution model where the products get into the hands of the “paying” consumers in a seamless manner.

Ijeoma: The original divide of the country has now seeped into the industry. The cinema crowd, the Asaba movie crowd, the yoruba movie industry and then there is ‘Kaniwood’. A concept which I still don’t understand. Why do they have a different name? Are they a different industry? Calabar is trying to copy that and start their own ‘Caliwoood’. Do they also factor into the numbers for Nollywood?

Baba: Divides are normal. Just as Hollywood and Bollywood are just subjects of the national film/movie spaces in America and India.

Ijeoma: Possibly. But it does it affect them as much as it affects us, in that we haven’t made any true national stars since the Rita/Geneviev/Omotola era?

Daniel: Consumer culture has changed quite a bit from the days of VCDs & DVDs to digital media consumption…Cinemas…the Internet…the industry has grown beyond the shores of Idumota.

Baba: This is why I ask what is Nollywood. Until we define this we are just running around in circles. What is Nollywood? What does it want to be? We’re can it compete?

Soji: For the benefit of this discussion can we replace Nollywood with “the Nigerian motion picture industry” ? So will you say the industry is healthy?

Baba: That is still very vague, motion picture captures everything from tv, home video, digital content to cinema. And those are different industries, all with different consumers.

Soji: Not at all. Hollywood encompasses even TV, Advertising, Production. When we try to identify the market size of Hollywood, we include gear rental, which serves every facet of the industry including web series. When a Hollywood actor represented by the CAA get an endorsement deal by a brand, doesn’t that add to the transactions in Hollywood?

(CONVERSATION CONTINUES ON NEXT PAGE – PAGE 2)

What is a recession and is there way out?

Posted on: February 6th, 2017 by The Moderator 3 Comments

The Octagon: Welcome to the Octagon Room. Thank you for accepting our invitation. 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 ?

Gbane: I am Ojogbane Okolo. I live in Liverpool England, and I work in the Banking Industry.

Muyiwa: Hi all,  my name is Muyiwa Oni,  I’m an equity research analyst with standard bank

Seju: Hello everyone, Seju Mike – Financial Analyst & Creative Entrepreneur.

Seun: I am Oluseun Onigbinde, Lead Partner, BudgIT.

Wilson: My name is Wilson Erumebor – Economist. Research & Policy Analyst. I work with Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

Rijo: My name is Rijo Shekari, chartered accountant and financial analyst

Tola: I am Tola Onayemi, I provide technical advisory assistance on industry, trade and investment within the economic team of the Vice President

The Octagon : In september 2016 the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the nation was still firmly gripped by recession. It published that in the last Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report for Q3, 2016  Nigeria’s GDP contracted in the negative in third quarter of 2016. In response to this, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Wednesday admitted that Nigeria was in its worst possible time with the GDP but went ahead to say there is a strategic plan that will take us out of the recession and make it as short as possible.

The president in his independence day speech further shared with the general public the challenges saying. “Economies behaviour is cyclical. All countries face ups and downs. Our own recession has been brought about by a critical shortage of foreign exchange. Oil price dropped from an average of hundred USD per barrel over the last decade to an average of forty USD per barrel this year and last… But this is only temporary. Historically about half our dollar export earnings go to importation of petroleum and food products! Nothing was saved for the rainy days during the periods of prosperity. We are now reaping the whirlwinds of corruption, recklessness and impunity.”

In line with earlier claims by the minister of finance, he goes on further to mention that plans are being made to diversify the economy and shift from a dependence on oil and also focus on developing infrastructure.

With seemingly no visible change in sight, the average Nigerian has gotten increasingly panicky and wonders if government can truly handle this challenge.The former CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi in a session today stated the recent moves by Government to salvage the situation was a wrong move. He says that borrowing was bad because Nigeria’s foreign exchange rates lacked credibility and the federal government should embrace private sector investments as a way out of its recession.The monarch said oil revenue cannot bring the country out of its present economic downturn.

What does it truly mean when we say Nigeria is in recession? How much of this problem is oil based? Is the way out of this the solely the responsibility of the government?

Gbane : Well as defined by in your quote from the NBS recession is two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. Now the main metric of economic growth is the GDP which is the measure of the value of all goods and services in country ( Nigerian this case) within a given time frame. From all the news and facts on ground I can say that Nigeria is in recession.

Rijo: Recession has to do with a decline in economic activities, with symptoms ranging from increase in the rate of inflation, businesses closing.

Wilson: A few years ago, the Nigerian economy grew by about 7% per annum and many believed this growth was “jobless growth” and non-inclusive. This year we are experiencing negative growth rates. If at 7%, growth seemed to be “jobless growth”, what happens we experience negative growth? For me, recession means that the life of the average Nigerian has become a bit tougher than it was last year.

Gbane: Wilson, you are absolutely right, and there are grounds for the belief that our 7% growth was  a jobless growth. it is simply because it driven mainly by the price of crude oil. we all know that the oil exploration industry is not labour intensive and as such not a big employer of labour so while the value of a high price of crude oil meant a higher GDP it did not translate to high employment. In answering the 2nd question, I will say that Oil has a lot but not everything to do with it. You see we had low oil prices under Obasanjo but we didn’t have a recession under him…i personally believe that the reason for that was the liberalization of the telecom sector among other steps taken back then. We what we see now as stated by many people is a statist approach to the economic headwinds caused by low crude oil price. We sadly have a president that does not believe in free markets and we have a CBN governor ready to kowtow.

Seju: No I don’t believe deliverance from the recession is the sole responsibility of the government.  The government is just one piece of the collective puzzle. In my opinion recovery is primarily driven by entrepreneurial responses to the change in the availability of capital. People and businesses need to innovate and find more creative ways to manage the now even scarcer resources.

Muyiwa: Oil is clearly a big part of the problem given that it is a key FX contributor. In terms of the role of government ill say it is critical.

Wilson: How much of this problem is oil based? Well, the recent economic crisis has made it clear that the fundamental strength of the economy or the lack of it, hinges on movement of crude oil price. The decline in crude oil price affected government revenues which limited the ability government to meet its financial obligations (including payment of salaries). It triggered an FX crisis, arising from limited dollar inflows, lower external reserves and huge outflows via imports. I do not think crude oil is the problem. It is our over-reliance on crude oil for revenue and FX that is the problem. Secondly, Nigeria has a weak productive sector. The manufacturing sector currently accounts for 9% of GDP and this has to be improved. We currently import of 50% of manufactured and processed goods while non-oil export accounts for less than 20% of export earnings. Nigeria’s low non-oil export capacity and continued dependence on imports was never going to be sustainable for the economy. So if you look at the Kenya economy,  the level of FX reserves and import cover has historical been materially lower than ours  but they have managed to keep the currency relatively stable. The central bank has been able to maintain credibility and keep investors interested in the economy.

Seju: Yes Oil is a major part of the problem. Relying primarily on one major export is ALWAYS a problem in the long run for any countries economic growth. Diversification as a key infusion into Nigeria’s export culture is the ultimate key. For example some of Nigeria’s most successful exports in recent times have originated in our creative spaces – retargeting our resources to building these businesses in these spaces and focusing on increased consumption of home grown goods by improving the infrastructure that allows us produce said goods (thereby also improving the quality of said goods)…this is a possible path to recovery.

Gbane: The way out for me is Government first and foremost realising that a statist approach to economics has always led to ruins. We need people who can influence the president and make him a believer in market economics. (Ok less jargon) – The Govt should simply make being an entrepreneur as easy as possible: A few steps will be to:

  1. stop trying to reduce prices of goods and services by fiat as it is being mooted and done at the moment(we shouldn’t even be having this conversation).
  2. Improve the easy of setting up a business(it takes about 3-10 mins to register a company here in the uk).
  3. We currently have a FX regime that has 5 different exchanges and SLS mentioned this as well. A foreign investor will find it difficult to invest his/her hard earned currency when there is a CBN rate, there is an interbank rate there is parallel market rate and to be fair this has always been the case, it didn’t start with this government. We need one exchange rate that inspire the confidence in all the market players. Now the Naira might suffer a sharp downward pressure but eventually things will stabilize. I also appreciate that it not palatable politically but it has to be done.

Seun: These are my thoughts –

  1. Over-dependence on oil revenues will keep putting us in recession. Our history of boom and bust since 1973 has always been linked to oil. From boom of 1973, oil bust in 1981 & 86, rise in 1991 and so on. We will continue this cycle until our exports are diversified and we fix our revenue challenge linked to inability to take taxes off a huge population (highly poor).
  1. Lack of fiscal buffers: oil price surge has always tricked Nigeria and our leaders fall for it with Udoji bazar, 2010 salary increase.. our ability not to rein on our import volumes during price booms, continually depleted our reserves. We just don’t save.
  1. Lack of focus: immediately, Buhari won, there was a market bounce. It was an expectation but delaying Ministers by six months did not show captive understanding of the emergency. Confidence was eroded. We still don’t have a clear cut stimulus plan.
  1. Interference with CBN: we all knew the path of Emefile to the CBN. A compromise after whistle blowing by Lamido Sanusi. Buhari “command and control” approach accelerated Nigeria’s run into recession. If he was more open in the early days to devaluation, we might not face our current FX woes.
  1. In 2015, Nigeria did not spend on capital projects, shutting off public contracting for one year. Jonathan was caught up in elections and Buhari had wasted six months to shopping for Ministers. In a country where public finance matters, that put critical sectors in recessions.

Tola: I’d answer in series of points. So that some things I intend to point out are clear.

  1. Technically, a recession is two consecutive negative growth trend in a country’s economy
  1. The figures by the NBS confirm we are in a recession
  1. We should pay mind to the latest Q3 2017 NBS statistics that point out that the non oil economy is out of a recession and at 0.3% growth. Solid minerals grew to 5% and agriculture to 7%.
  1. According to Q3 NBS figures, financial sector also grew by 2.85%. Inflation though still high at 18.3% on a year on year basis levelled out on a month on month basis to as low as 1.70% in September. Ratio of investment to GDP also improved rising by 7.6%
  2. There is a major difference between a recession and a cash (or credit crunch). Both are currently going on within the Nigerian economy and people are mixing the effects. A recession is negative growth, a cash crunch is not enough money to meet all operational needs. Now, the oil price means reduced income for government who is a major spender both for employment and even general spending within the economy. So because government isn’t spending as much not as much trickling down is occuring, and everyone says recession but it’s mostly just reduced government spending leading to less money for people who depend on it in the long term

Wilson: Getting out of recession is a collective responsibility, but I strongly believe that the government must play the important role of providing a clear direction for the economy in terms of policies, plans and programs. We must rejig investor’s confidence (local and foreign) on the economy

The Octagon: Based on your comments , What other things affect this asides oil and how free markets assist in solving this.

Tola: How much is this oil based? Well as a major oil revenue earner, oil price decline was the trigger of an even more incipient problem -that of non diversification. However, oil is as much the cause as one can say sugar causes diabetes. In that while type 2 diabetes is mostly hereditary, sugar can lead to weigh gain and increase chances of developing the disease. Oil is Nigeria’s main revenue and when there is no oil capital, and little diversification, a negative growth in the economy is the most natural. Is getting out of a recession mainly the responsibility of the government. Well, No, that’s why the l stated the Q3 NBS stats first, which should the non oil sector was technically not in a recession, mainly because of a joint effort of government and private enterprise.

Gbane: Right, it is the approach of the current govt that has not helped for example when you create a distortion in the Forex market by offering a select few players in the private sector $1=199 while the street value or black market value is twice that amount..you are already creating and uneven playing field to smes that need access to this funds. We all know that smes are the life of any serious economy…in the uk for example we have about 300k smes that hire about 5-20 people..just do the math and you will see what i mean. Also when people are able to make 100% profit by arbitrage they are not going to be incentivized to use the funds for productive purposes.

The Government has to lead the way. The Government has to deliberately put in place polices that will encourage people to produce more. we are not seeing that at the moment, even if the non oil sector is out recession the question is how can it be encouraged to grow.

Tola: Now, both are triggered by the decline in oil prices which reduced government revenue. But because a recession has a bigger global implication, govt tend to invest more in sorting out – hence devoting more resources towards such efforts, and even spending less as it would in its normal course do spending. Now, for the man on the street, the immediate effect He feels is a cash crunch. It’s a cycle of trickle down cash inadequacy (coined term). The contractor doesn’t get a contract, and doesn’t employ the labourer, who doesn’t eat food on site, which means that the food seller doesn’t sell, and doesn’t buy a bag of rice, and means the rice importer has so much rice not sold. So it’s a chain, all everyone knows is it’s hard. The cause here is mainly the cash crunch not really the immediate recessionary effects of negative growth. So both are connected, but the immediate impact felt by a everyday persons is that of a cash crunch.

I totally agree. Govt has a vital role to play but the private sector has an even bigger role.

Wilson: Absolutely. The 2016Q3 GDP data showed that compared to 2016Q2, the economy grew by 9%. This suggest that on a quarterly basis, activities improved significantly. At least, that is what the data shows.

Tola: Now let me be controversial, and say a very unpopular opinion. The truth is most businesses in the private sector are scarce to invest because in the past, we have benefitted from very simplistic business profit systems. Banks do not do any real intermediating for SMEs but focus on guaranteed business. People who focus on doing government contracts rather than real credible mass manufacturing. Just plain easy business with large Return on investments.

I say this because even for foreign investments, this is one of the best times to come in. If you really want to invest in infrastructure or expensive investment, because of the currency issues, you are paying half the price because of FX advantages (for a foreign business). But most of the foreign investments that have come to Nigeria in the past are majorly focused around not long term sustainable growth but quick ROI and exit. That’s why capital flight was so easy as the earliest signs of trouble. We can’t continue as an economy this way. We need deepened investments in real sectors. Agribusinesses, telecoms, mining, manufacturing, ICT. Deepened investment that creates real value and adds back to the economic growth. I strongly think that we need to start to think of nationalism as a core value for our business. Can we move past just plain profit to actually investing in Nigeria’s potential.

Wilson: But you would agree with me that the government (working with private sector) must take the lead and set the direction for the economy. Private sector investments is all about cost, benefits and risks. If the environment makes it risky for businesses to survive, why would people invest? The government should not leave economic planning in the hands of the private sector but the government MUST take the lead, working with the private sector.

Gbane: With all due respect sir as a foreign investor I will not come into a country that has multiple exchange rates. A country where the presidents view and CBN governor’s seem to be almost the same which is control so the sake of it. why should i invest my hard earned money when CBN is going to determine how much the value of currency is?

Tola: Well, that only applies if you are a portfolio investor. But if it’s direct investment in say a factory or a plant – this are usually investment s that take between 5 to 10 years and many times even more. The FX plays to your benefit actually, because you have double the currently strength in Nigeria presently.

Wilson: Look at ease of doing business ranking. Nigeria is not doing well at all. Why can’t we simplify the business processes, make it easy for people to start businesses, register property, reduce tax bottlenecks and so many other reforms?

Tola: I totally agree with you. I am always first to say Government has a great work to do. Communicating better. Predictable policy. Frameworks that work etc. But I’m saying even the measures put in place would crash if no support accompanies it. We had years of an oil boom, and when we all claim Nigeria was the next China. How much of other sector growth happened during that time? Was it commensurate to what other similar economies got?

Rijo: Private sector has a major role to play but the government must create an enabling environment, on devoid of too much and unnecessary uncertainty.

Gbane: Let me just use ICT for example. If not for the outcry on social media Nigerians would have been paying more to access data today. This Government seems to fixated on price pegging. This is dangerous on the long run sir. in Agriculture, Forex ICT in all these sectors you hear Government officials talk about pricing. The NCC has no business determining pricing. it is to regulate quality of service and breach of contracts.

Tola: I agree. And from the statements of the entire government. It is a priority. The president approved the establishment of a presidential enabling business environment council (PEBEC) all focus on the ease of doing business. But let me point out, that the world bank ranking indicators aren’t entirely skewed to reflect every issue a Nigerian SMEs faces. Hence the govt has stated that its  focus on serious business ease. So for instance, even the world bank recognised improvements in the CAC system for registering companies and even generally electronic payment to government as well as reduction in costs, as well as even the collateral registry.

Seju: True but part of the problem with foreign investment is the monies aren’t primarily directed to production. Investors come in with the intention of accessing our markets. They import and we spend and this only exacerbates the FX problem.  Not enough foreign investment is spent on putting in place sustainable production infrastructure. Let’s produce the same goofs they would like us to buy and then levarage the experience learning from them to start creating our own brands that can compete on the international scene. China did this…we can too.

Tola: I couldn’t agree more. Which is why private sector who are usually the counterparts to this transaction types must begin to help play their bit by focusing on such value chain that pays the country in the long term.

Gbane: No sir. In investments price of purchase is everything…why should one pay 50% more due to distortions in the Forex that is avoidable. The fact that is long is the more reason why I wont invest, and thats why like you said earlier all we have in as foreign investors are speculators. But the Government that must lead the way has shown that they can be trusted for long term plan. Let me give you an example: live in England and many large companies and banks(I work with one of them) are angry with the uncertainty over direction of brexit talks.

Tola: Like I said previously, that’s a portfolio investment type scenario. Let me use clear examples to Marshall my point. If you want to build a 100 billion naira factory today in Nigeria, that is an FDI investment. If you are a foreign company, that means that due when you would have spent about 500 million dollars some 18 months back. Today you would need about 208 million dollars. THAT PAYS another foreign investor. So you actually pay less in dollars if you are a foreign direct investor.

Gbane: Look..maybe due to the number of my years of living here I have become a bit of a cynic, but if we want to become like China we are going to have to make things a whole lot simpler for EVERYBODY not just Dangote. If we want to unleash the animal spirit of entrepreneurship in Nigerians SIMPLY make registration easier, Digitize taxation and create a one stop shop for SME Funding. see if we will not grow in leaps and bounds!

(PLEASE CLICK PAGE 2 TO CONTINUE)

Nigeria’s Medical Industry: Ascent or Decline

Posted on: December 6th, 2016 by The Moderator 1 Comment

Welcome to the Octagon Room
Thanks for taking time out to join this conversation which will end in 1hour. Before we go into the discussion, Please let everyone know your name, and a little bit about what you do.

Olamide: Hello everyone. My name is Olamide Craig and I am a Family/Occupational health physician. I also write a column on BellaNaija called AskDrCraig.

Uju: Uju Okoye, public health physician/Healthcare consultant in the US. I work with HIV policy here and also run my own consulting company.

Omolola: Hi, my name is Omolola Sokoya. I’m a Managed care Nurse with with United Healthcare International incharge of case management and quality assurance

Nene: Hi, I’m Nene Usman. I’m a public health physician. I work with Kaduna state university.

Lawal: I’m Lawal Bakare. I trained as Dentist, practiced for two years and have since moved into health communications. I currently run: EpidAlert (formerly EbolaAlert), HEIT Solutions, Chora and also serves as the Technical Assistant on Communications to the CEO of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

Kanyinsola: Hello everyone. My name is Oluwakanyinsola Fowler. I’m a clinician with an MPH. I work as a Senior Analyst at the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria.

The Octagon: Thank’s everyone.

According to an interview with the president of MDCAN. “Nigeria’s Public health sector is an unstable one. The incessant strike by health professionals has been identified as a major contributor to the country’s poor health indices.

Over the years, this has brought untold hardship, sufferings and death to many families and patients across the federation. It has forced many people away from public hospitals to privately owned ones where cost of services is prohibitive and hardly affordable. Many others too have had to rely on traditional medicine as an alternative. “

He further expressed how his professional colleagues had not been able to make any meaningful impact in health care delivery in the  country.

While these are valid concerns, we believe that there are many issues with the Public Health Sector in Nigeria.  In your opinion, what are some of the challenges the sector faces ?

Uju: My responses will be completely from the outside looking in. I think the biggest issues lie around governance, sustainability, infrastructure and cultural. One of the biggest flaws is expecting clinicians to somehow have the administrative tools to manage the  system. Nigeria has a unique problem because of our population. While it is also easy to blame governance, the attitudes of some clinicians sometimes helps to compound the already dire situations. Even with proper financing, there is still  lack of understanding even within the healthcare system, on how to create a system that addresses the Nigerian problem, rather than one that copies the NHS and foreign models.

Olamide: It is easy to fault a large chunk of what is Nigeria’s health care system when comparing it to the UK. And while this and other systems in the developed world are a standard to aspire to, my responses will first attempt to assess the Nigerian system in relation to itself and after this I will go ahead to  compare it to the gold standard. Nigeria has an informal  health care system. There is nominal government oversight but this is perfunctory at best.

Kanyinsola: Governance is the key challenge – Good governance will go a long way to address infrastructure, sustainability and cultural issues.

Nene:  The health sector is poorly financed. Human resource for health is also a problem. Health centres in rural areas are poorly staffed and most times d staff available are unskilled in life saving techniques. Primary health care PHC is d bedrock of our health system and ensures that every Nigerian has access to health care. However, the areas with the greatest need are the areas with the largest gaps. There is also the problem of inequitable distribution of resources. Finances, human resources, materials such as drugs, vaccines etc are usually sent to urban areas. Most people would refuse to work in hard to reach areas. Then there is the problem of misuse of government allocated funds. Every health system relies on these building blocks: leadership/governance, financing, health information systems, human resource for health, service delivery, and materials like drugs, vaccines etc… Each one of these areas is seriously lacking in this country… any solution will have to use a multi pronged approach

Omolola: Our health sector is poorly financed and this balls down to poor goverance. Our primary health care system is faced with challenges , and there is an urgent need to improve the quality of service delivery there. There is also a need to expand it to many communities who still lack the presence of any health facility.

Lawal: From my close observation I feel poorly developed consumers have created weak expectations. That may be the reason all key stakeholders have no reason per se to do anything differently.

Olamide: Training. Let’s not forget training. The West African and National colleges are still boys clubs.

Uju:  I agree. But are those even leading the healthcare system equipped with the right administrative and healthcare management training to manage effectively? Sure everyone is a skilled and talented Clinician but without that, there will always be an issue. Misuse of government funds and corruption happens everywhere. It is not unique to Nigeria, so we really must work around that issue.

Olamide: Public health is dependent on foreign aid. Polio, Measles,  Cold chain, are all funded by donor agencies.

Uju: Great point you just highlighted. This is so absurd.

Kanyinsola: Too dependent on foreign aid.. sometimes I wonder what will happen when the aid ends. Guess we’ll soon find out.

Lawal: Measles funding froze for some months this year and the laboratory surveillance grounded. That’s what will happen when the funds are out. There is an existing solution in our strategic healthcare plan. That document simply needs implementers. In Rwanda all public activities are tailored to their national plan. The reason they seem like magicians. If we can prioritize that plan, we will be fine.

Uju: But wouldn’t it be unfair comparing Nigeria to Rwanda given the enormity of population?

Lawal: That’s a joke Uju. Nigeria’s resources matches our challenges. We are not as complicated as India, Not as complicated as China. Rwandans sorted out leadership quickly. Leadership is the priority of our health system revamp strategy as documented in the plan. I do not think Nigeria should even compare herself to Rwanda. Rwanda is far behind Nigeria in human capital. To fix leadership is a bit of a Long walk.

Olamide: But India like Nigeria is an informal system. Most of the health care is private. And that’s why our challenges have to be tackled differently.

Omolola: I totally agree we have more than enough resources to match our challenges in this country. Our problem is putting this resources into good and proper use.

Kanyinsola: I wouldn’t call our system informal: not organized and poorly managed but definitely not informal. Well we need good leadership that’s ready to get down to business; get their hands dirty. To tackle all of the challenges including the attitude of the health workforce and resource allocation.

Olamide: Okay. Point taken. Poorly organised. However how do we organise it? What do we do in the interim ? Cuba had a repressive got but some of the best health care, as did Libya. So perhaps good leadership is not a prerequisite for good health care?

Lawal: I was at the campaign frontline during the last elections. Nigerians didn’t ask for healthcare. Given that leadership requires us to bring participation from both sides. Good leadership MAY help fix other functions. It is not a stand alone. We never gave ourselves the chance to prove that fact. Leadership here is not political system. An average Cuban physician is driven by a stronger code of participation.  Sense of belonging and ownership. The zero PMTCT recorded in Cuba couldn’t have happened without citizens too.

Olamide: True. Sense of Ownership is key. That’s something we as Nigerians don’t really have. That National cake mentality was ingrained in us from small.

Kanyinsola: I don’t think that’s entirely leadership’s fault. The typical Nigerian doesn’t pay attention to his health till an issue arises. We bury our heads in the sand or act like it can’t happen to us.  I think the Government’s participation is key. The private sector, CSO, the public and other stakeholders can’t create a sustainable and affordable health system on their own. Proper allocation of resources – Government currently spends almost 70% of the allocation to health on the tertiary level mainly on salaries. You can imagine how much gets to the primary health care level.

The Octagon: Great points raised. What would we consider are the top 3 things needed to be done to solve these issues we are faced with? Is there a way around government participation?

Olamide: Strengthening all arms of our health care system. Our tertiary is very strong and primary is weak. Access to health care in rural areas. Training of doctors and allied health professionals. Strengthening of Institutions. Development of an integrated nationwide  health and informatics system to make access to medical data uniform across different.

Lawal: I am achieving some successes and my ingredients have been:

  1. Participation (for citizens especially elites)
  2. Revamped Consumers
  3. Revamped leadership in public sector (civil servants and political actors)

If we can fix these fundamentals in a democracy. The system will define a sound balance for itself. We have records of free but under-utilized health services. I believe in empowering the system to drive itself.

In the last 10 years the leading enabler of governance in Nigeria is participation according to the IIAG (mo Ibrahim foundation). If we can drive this into healthcare we may be heading for that desired success. We saw it play itself earlier this week with telecoms tariffs.  When we start participating, we start winning.

Kanyinsola: 1. Improved quality of health services (including capacity building for health workforce)

  1. Better leadership/ Governance (Proper allocation and management of resources inclusive)
  2. Increase knowledge and awareness among the public so they can better demand for health services.

Omolola: Access to and afforable health care in the rural areas.

Uju: Great solution strategies raised.Thank you for organizing this platform

Kanyinsola: Thank you for organizing the platform and for inviting me 👏🏾👏🏾

Omolola: Great platform you have. happy to have been a part of it.

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.

(continue to next page)

#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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