Who is Soludo?

Soludo -no solution

Soludo -no solution

In the post of February 2, 2009 by Fortune&Class magazine titled Yar’Adua under pressure to renew Soludo’s tenure as CBN’s governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo claimed that Nigerian economy was not in any way impacted by the world global economic crisis, the statement he had long denied.

Again, as our naira began its decline in December 2008, the CBN Governor made comments that ‘the devaluation was caused by currency speculations by some individuals and certain banks in the country.’

The Governor noted that, “the CBN was aware of the individuals responsible for the devaluation and the CBN will do all in their power to ascertain the speculators are punished”. However, several weeks later the CBN made an official statement that they are responsible for the devaluation of the currency. Again, this was denied too.

Now, it is beginning to look like the CBN does not really have a clue about the problems confronting the Nation. First Nigeria was not impacted, and then later Nigeria was impacted. Then speculators were responsible for the currency devaluation, later the CBN was intentionally letting the currency fall.

And for a man who is not sure of his standings, what sense is there in shifting blames by claiming that, “With the Obama government proposing to invest heavily on alternative energy sources, there is a permanent threat to oil as mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Unless we take urgent steps to address the situation by also finding an alternative to oil as the mainstay of our economy, we might be back to the similar crisis we witnessed in 1982 when the price of oil crashed, government revenue declined and it became difficult for government at all levels to pay salaries. There was also the abandoned projects syndrome, increased import of almost anything until government was forced to place a ban on foreign currency trafficking because it was being abused.”

Must the nation always depend of oil revenue for its GDP growth? What policies is he making in his on position as the nation’s apex bank governor in ensuring economic stabilities in the areas of agriculture? Has he forgotten the effect of policy somersaults on the masses? What actually are his achievements in the area of micro-finance banks, interest rates. Yet also to be forgiven is the politics he played in the uniform year ends for the financial industry? It is a pity what our leaders are turning us into. With this kind of comments, the African nations in general are being portrayed as beggars. But we are not.

Such missteps do not send good signals to Nigerians and foreign investors because what these pronouncements and subsequent contradictions show is that either the CBN does not understand the economic problems confronting the nation or they have intentionally decided to confuse or misrepresent the facts to the nation. These types of inconsistencies will eventually result in a great loss of confidence, because what it indicates is that if the CBN is unable to determine what the problems of the economy are, a solution may not be forthcoming or formulated to fix it.

A popular maxim says a person tries his whole life to rebuild a day tarnished reputation. No matter what, the history has been re-written of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as the most confusing governor of the central bank of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And that is who Soludo is, a man without solution.

Story by Dman John.

Soludo: his brilliance and delusion

By Jonah Etufunwa

Prof. Chukwuma Soludo

Prof. Chukwuma Soludo

I am an ardent lover of Soludo, but I have so many bottled up reasons to disagree with him for the first time this week. I also have much respect for him, for no one has a better curricula vitae than him for the position he occupies today in Nigeria.

Born brilliant, strode brilliant and appointed Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank based on his brilliance. I stand to be corrected of this view.

It is interesting to know that Soludo is really mortal and prone to the misdeeds of lesser mortals! Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), for his academic and professorial brilliance, remains an academic colossus on mind. Nothing else! Legends have it that he never for once took second at school. He took first all the time and ended up with Grade One in his School Certificate Examination and First Class in his degree course.

We learnt he also came tops in his master’s. He always topped his class and department at any given time. A genius indeed! There was not better admiration for this enigma than his exceptional academic and professional intelligence. Everyone was dazzled by his brilliance and he started brilliantly as his Governor of Nigeria’s CBN.

From nowhere, at least, not imagined by his contemporary mortals, he conceived a novelty: Consolidation of the banking sector. He was applauded and supported by the President of Nigeria and Nigerians in general. Nothing could stop him from being perceived as a genius. And he strode the landscape as one. He really deserved it. There was no aorta of doubt on the minds of Nigerians, that the CBN Governor was not a mere mortal.

He was perceived as head and shoulder taller than all Nigerians in economic intelligence, especially in money matters. Though, not given to hero worship, I preserved a portion of my heart for honouring him alone as an extra-ordinary human, especially in my thoughts about him. He was actually great in cerebral matters. I joined others in seeing him as a financial saviour. Sometimes we delude ourselves with our thoughts, hidden from our close associates. Nothing would have stopped me from hero-worshipping Soludo, if not for my religious training. I know that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and Soludo would not be different from this nature of man. I am not deliberately looking for ways to denigrate the ‘wisest’ man in our midst. I simply took him for what he stands for – extra-ordinary cerebral gift to Nigeria!

My first disappointment with him was when he allowed himself to be deluded by the former president Obasanjo over the printing of coins. Before they printed those coins, I personally knew that the coins would become artifacts immediately. I knew that denominations alone, as legal tenders, would not help us control inflation. Soludo would have thought the way I thought but too much acada intelligence was making him mad. He was living by ‘book,’ that was why he created coins that could help us to have such prices as 10kobo, 50kobo and one naira denominations that could not buy anything. And yet Obasanjo and Soludo went ahead to print and distribute legal tender metals that were utterly useless and only useful for decorating our ‘centre tables.’ I knew the coins would become so even before they were printed. I could not understand why both the President and the CBN Governor could not see what I saw as a lay economist. Obasanjo was busy making life difficult for ordinary Nigerians through multiple taxations and principally by increasing the prices of Federal Government’s products, such as PHCN bills and petrol products. Prices of such things cannot be increased without other products being affected on the upward side. Such prices daily affect cost of production and yet the President and the Governor of Money (Soludo) wanted magically different from what they sowed. You cannot be fuelling inflation and at the same time dousing it. They sowed whirlwind and expected to reap peace. They wanted inflation controlled without any input from their own end. How impossible!

Another laughable policy that Soludo did not succeed implementing was the case of N20 being the highest denomination in our cash economy. With the aforementioned state of inflation, just imagine how that could only have scratched rather than solving or checkmating inflation. I just knew it could never work. May be, we would having been paying more money to transport our currency for buying things than the prices of the products themselves. What the economy needs are just three activities: One, production; two, production; three, production. ‘Africa Must Produce!’ one editor wrote some time ago in one of the dailies. Nigeria Must Produce! Productive activities would solve our economic problems, not economic theories. Economics, no doubt, is a real science, and only scientific measures can solve our problems, no just acada approaches. For example, no rhetoric can solve our bearish capital market, but once the scientific or economic forces involved are right, our woes would be past. Same solution is what our forex market needs.

I do not need to be an economist to know that the U.S.’ financial recklessness of their economy would eventually affect Nigeria. When Soludo insisted that we were insulated, I knew he was lying deliberately or he wickedly ignored the facts on the ground just to delude or soothe us. I knew he was also deluding himself. I began to doubt his professorial wisdom and acada stardom. I became afraid of the unavoidable disgrace that would soon confront him since our economy was almost dollar dependent; not only ours, but the entire world’s.

If you love somebody, you would not want evil to befall him. I did not want shame to come Soludo’s way; I didn’t have to be an economist before knowing that he was not correct. I began to doubt the practical usefulness of his unquestionable brilliance. Knowledge is wisdom in the brain (mental wisdom) but it becomes real knowledge when applied to solving problems successfully. Soludo’s acada knowledge has no benefit for us in small things, but only in one big thing – bank capitalization – that has now left our banks near empty after bloating. As a member of the country’s economic management team, I expected Soludo to be shouting that the banks were not doing the right by not financing the real sector. He did not also warn Nigeria for spending excess crude oil revenue on wasteful things, anything outside the real sector is practically wasteful. Income equals consumption plus savings. We concentrated on consumption instead of savings, which ultimately means investment. I hope Soludo would not end up an all-rounder disappointment on our financial landscape.

Finally, I share the fears of many that saving the naira is not what can bring a lasting solution to our forex problem, but still those three things: Producing, producing and producing and diversifying our earning power of foreign exchange. Think about agriculture. It would help us save money on our international food bill, feed our agro-allied industry and earn us income through exports. Someone even suggested that spending on infrastructure rehabilitation would create employment and since Nigeria does not have money for that now, then public private partnership scheme would be the answer; and it can be a catalyst. We would not depend on crude oil alone. With oil alone, it is like we are unemployed as a nation.

It is just like an unemployed man who has little savings that may ordinarily last for many weeks if spent on his daily needs and he only sees solution of his inadequacies in spending his savings to buy what he needs NOW. I think what this man needs are two: gainful employment or gainful investment and not just meeting up his present needs by blasting off his savings. Soludo’s forex solution is too simplistic and lacking true wisdom. If the 20 billion dollars are spent on forex to shore up the value of the naira, how long would we shore the naira up? Who would eventually benefit? Of course, the exporters of what we are using the forex to pay for. The exporters would produce more and employ more of their citizens and raw material producers for their export (product).

If we want to banish poverty, we must never depend on oil alone. This is not Soludo’s department, though, he should tell his master, Yar’Adua and Nigerians the truth about what should and should not be implemented.

Our only source for financing our national budget is through sale of crude oil. The income is calculated in dollars. The world’s industrial activities are experiencing a depression. The demand for oil has fallen, can we now be expecting our income from oil to remain okay? Brilliance or no brilliance cannot change our fortune unless we think about other things to sell in order to get dollars or pounds or other international currencies for financing our budget. Our budget implementation is import dependent; because we are a consuming nation. We may still be importing toothpick and handkerchiefs. Bicycle spoke is not produced here. Producing spokes would depend of iron and steel technology and availability of energy (electricity) which we do not have. Fundamentally, all we need is production, but we lack the foundation, the platform. We can only start by building from the foundation. Soludo as a brilliant should have been bemoaning all that we lack fundamentally, that are hampering his ability to control inflation and contribute to the growth of the economy.

Soludo is a man I admire so much for his grey matter, can someone help us know why he has not been telling us the truth, because I still believe he knows the truth. If he does not, I think we need to know why.

My thoughts about Soludo are even driving me nuts. Someone, please, help us to find why the genius professor of economics does not know and do simple things that are true of scientific ECONOMICS.

What is he complaining about?

Card - zero tolerance for buying and selling in the temple

Card - zero tolerance for buying and selling in the temple

Although, it is understandable how you might feel when you see your former clean car being plastered with variety of unwanted stickers by the new owner. But what can you do?

That was the case between the former President of United States of America’s Chief of Staff, Andrew Card and President Barrack Obama, when the former was chastising the latter for not wearing a suit jacket, claiming Obama’s attitude to stain the history-gained respect of the Oval office should be condemned.

In his words, “I don’t criticize Obama for his appearance, I do expect him to send the message that people who are going to be in the Oval Office should treat the office with the respect that it has earned over history.”

His love and respect for the coveted seat of the United States of America presidency is applauded, but it is high time this politicians realise that when the time comes to quit the stage, dont forget your props there!

By ol’Victor Ojelabi

Side Note: To read more, click http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/05/bush-chief-of-staff-to-ob_n_164286.html

This week on Fortune&Class Weekly

this week's edition

Fortune&Class Weekly: this week's edition

Nigerians are the most anxious people in the world

A.P. Ibironke

A.P. Ibironke

Apostle Prophet Israel Olufemi Ibironke is the General Overseer and presiding pastor of the Assembly of the Faithful Worldwide, in this interview with GOKE OLUWOLE and TAI SHOFELA, the Flight Operations Officer with the Nigerian Airways highlights the prospect of Nigerian transforming into an economic giant and the relationship between individual success in business and the ability to remain focused on a business venture

How would you describe your background?

I am by God’s grace the General Overseer of The Faithful Church Worldwide, born exactly 60 years ago, today, February 5, happened to be my birthday, February 5. I was born, bread, and raised in a good Christian home, my family church is the Apostolic Church, and my siblings are nine, eight boys and one girl. All the eight boys, today, are Pastors but I am the only one that administers a ministry outside the Apostolic Church. I am still part and parcel of the Apostolic Church till today, my calling is that of a prophetic apostolic.

In the early days of my life, I used to work with the Nigerian Airways as a Flight Operation Officer [a trained aviation expert for over 20years], I left to go into private business as a Cold Room –frozen food merchant, operating business then under the registered name of Hibbies Nigeria Limited, which was then my company’s name. My cold room then was popularly known as Big Fish Cold Room situated at Surulere, Itire and Ijeshatedo.

But I had to leave the business due to various spiritual attacks. I lost all my businesses in the course of finding solutions to my afflictions until I accepted him. While we were growing up we were all members of the Apostolic Church Choristers at the Inalende Assembly, Ibadan. But while working at the Airport, I decided to become a free thinker so I can do whatever I like and that was the beginning of my troubles, such that wherever I went I always saw the hands of God.

Between 1989 and 1990, I was afflicted with a very terrible sickness that defied all healings, I was bedridden for nine months, and for days, I couldn’t drink nor eat. In that state of health I would have dreams where I would find myself evangelizing, preaching and whenever I woke up the Doctors and the Nurses told me that I was always talking during my sleep. At times they will say I was smiling at some unseen guests.

After the ninth month, I got divine healing and a divine mandate to kick start my ministry I told God where and how, but I was directed to Anthony Village from my residence at Ketu, in Lagos State here. Precisely on 1 January, 1995 I moved to the Adekoya Community open field with myself and children where the lord fulfilled his promised that he will build a cathedral for us called the Cathedral of the Faithful on Ikorodu road.

What are the things that differentiate your ministry from the others?

Since the establishment of this church many transformational and revolutionary activities have been introduced by God through our instrumentality. I am not called for televangelism that is why most people always ask why I am not on air, this is not because of lack of money but it is our divine mandate not to go on air.

The most notable differentiation of our ministry is our annual Feast of the Nobles, celebrating the irrevocable call of God, we always celebrate it, but now it is celebrated according to Gods command Bi-annually with an Award ceremony for distinguished Nigerian who are doing wonderfully in their chosen professions and even those in governance that are doing marvelously well are honored as our own little way of identifying with them. At least, if your child did well, you’ll pat him on the back, so that he would be encouraged to do more and even better.

I am a positive thinker, I have a pact with God that during my time, Nigeria must be the greatest nation in this world. Many Americans, when they wake-up in the morning, before their morning devotion, say, “God Bless America,” why will such nation not be great? How many of us who are even religious leaders pray for our nation and our leaders. Despite the global financial Meltdown hitting the American economy, the people are still hopeful on President Barrack Obama.

But do we in Nigeria have leaders with Obama qualities? Apart from Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, tell me how many present and past leaders have the Obama’s pedigree. God has mandated us from this ministry to preach hope and prophesy about the great future of this nation, it is God desire to still make Nigeria the African capital of the world. Please beware of the evil preachers and prophet of doom within the churches who are always seeing evil. What God is showing us is very different, we see hope and a total rebirth and renewal in the land, some will prophesy death, evil, sorrow and they will pray towards it to come to fruition so that people can hail them that they are seeing visions. But why should any servant of God be seeing vision about death and blood in the land why can they silently pray to ward it off in the land?

Please tell us more about this your Bi-annual Feast of Nobles ?

Yes, the feast is for the nobles, when you feast with the Lord you become a Noble, all the disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ were called Nobles after they dined with Christ at the last supper. For us, our identified leaders too will become Noble men and women when they are feasted in the Cathedral of the Faithful. This event will hold inside the Faithful Cathedral, on Saturday, 28 February, 2009. A lot of Nigerian have been identified and screened by a panel of judges which include many men and women of integrity.

Since the Lord mandated us to start the feast none of the people we’ve honoured here had been indicted of any illegality or abuse of office or charged with corruption and embezzlement while in office. Our panel of Judges is led by one of Nigeria’s most respectable Jurist, Hon. .Justice G.O Kolawole, who is a justice of the Federal High Court, currently sitting on the case of the man with 86 wives. Hon. Justice Kolawole is by His grace a member of this Church and he is an ordained Deacon. The feast is celebrated in grandeur and spiritual ambience as directed by God, the Nobles we select are not necessarily big names but how we perceived their great achievements.

With the gathering of the ominous cloud of economic problems over Nigeria, what do you think is the way out?

The only way out is for us in this country to be patient. Little drops of water, little grains of sand make a mighty ocean. So all of us should join hands together with the government to salvage our economy, we need to learn how to be patient even a seed must have a sowing, grooming, and harvest time so is the situation in the country.

God himself is a God of orderliness, Nigerians are the most anxious people in the world, you see a lot of business men losing focus on their businesses, many marriages are failing and a lot of students are failing out of colleges and University just because they are not focused and patient in the race to success. Success is for the steady not the weary.

Some Christians have turned themselves into religious wanderer while some business men have also turned themselves into business wanderer in the course of looking for risky shortcuts. There is a popular Yoruba adage which I imbibed from my father that goes like “before the yam is transformed into pounded yam, it must be pounded in the mortar and that it is only when you keep looking at a spot that you see things well and deeper, it is also when you continue to urinate on a spot that your urine will foam“ all these form part of the Yoruba’s belief system and they underscore the principle of been focused and dedicated.

For Nigeria to be great, we must all learn that for a business to be regarded as not profitable it must have been operational for not less than three years, before we start to complain. These are part of the things that had led many to be preyed upon by scammers and financial predators in business circles. In advanced countries many of our people there work for hours and in those hours, no room is left for cavorting. Let’s follow the laid down rules of God rather than the laid down precepts of Men. Many failed in business because they build their business on shallow ideas, no feasibility studies,

We should also learn to appreciate government policies; we should try to understand that not all government actions are politically motivated, many are with good intentions like what Governor Fashola is trying to do in his attempt to transform Lagos State.

In our time, Nigeria will be good again, look at all these thieving governors and public office holders, go and look at those of them that had died; they were victims of one terminal ailment or the other. Some you will not have heard of before, so God has his own EFCC, because the other appellation of money is trouble, when you get to acquire too much money it will affect your psyche.

I remember the first day in this ministry when somebody paid a tithe offering of N350,000 then for one week I couldn’t sleep even I was afraid to put it in my room I kept it under the staircases and covered it with some rags and other abandoned items under the step so every morning I will have to check it and took some, and whenever there were any strange noise I will be scared whether somebody was coming to rob us of the money.

Among religious groupings in Nigeria there is this contentious issue over government’s intention to tax certain qualified income, what is your response?

Few years ago when the issue of divine healing and preaching prosperity on the pulpit was generating serious concerns among Christians, I was one of the selected pastors invited by NTA Lagos to come and discuss the issue and throw light on it. For me, my vision, calling and anointing is a mandate to lead a generation of righteous believers and as passionate advocator of divine mandate and apostolic prophetic utterance among church leaders I support the preaching on pulpit of divine healing and prosperity because my own God is God of the rich.

He had promised me that he will not call me to poverty but to prosper in my ministry but Christians must very vigilante so some lions in sheep skin among the Pastorate crowd will not use these things to cajole them into religious servitude to enslave their followers.

On the issue of the government intention to introduce tax, this, to my mind is a baseless rumor, but if it becomes a reality because out of every ten rumours in Nigeria six are always genuine, so if government of the day decided to forge ahead with the plan, good for them, if it is the only avenue that will aid the final transformation of Lagos Pastors must pray for divine wisdom before reacting. I, for one, will support such idea, after, all I am already a dedicated tax payer and a passionate advocate for the transformation of Lagos. We at the Faithfuls’ are ever ready to support any genuine and sincere move to liberate the people of Lagos from the stranglehold of backwardness and hardship.

I am proud to tell you our Church is a socially responsible organisation. If Governor Fashola calls me today, I will show him my tax certificate, this is the laminated plastic id card we are now using in Lagos, like my driving license expires today been my birthday first thing tomorrow I will go and renew it .I will implore other Pastors to pay their taxes as and when due and if tax is eventually imposed on our churches, we must pay, after all Our Lord Jesus’ disciples paid in the bible. What Pastors need to tap into is the divine provisions and the spiritual intervention of the disciples in paying their taxes.


Ayo Aroso, the Chief Executive of Denix-Tom Associate has concluded arrangement to host an agro-allied investment forum that provide an interactive platform for government officials and the people of Ekiti State with officials representing offshore financing bodies.

In this chat with GOKE OLUWOLE, Aroso speaks on his career growth pattern, the peculiarities of Ekiti State and the investment potentials waiting to be tapped in the state

Ayo Aroso, C.E. Denix-Tom Associate

Ayo Aroso, C.E. Denix-Tom Associate

Can you avail us a brief of your person?

I am Ayo Aroso. I am an Investment Advisor and a Human Resource Consultant.  I had worked in both public and private sectors of the economy, but I started as a trained teacher. I attended Doherty Memorial Grammar School, Ijero-Ekiti; CAC Teachers’ College, Efon Alaye; Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo; University of Ife, Ile-Ife and the Lagos State University (LASU) for Masters in Legal Studies.

In a career spanning about three decades, I worked in the broadcast industry after an initial stint in teaching. I worked at MAMSER (The Directorate of Social Mobilization).  I also worked at the Cocoa Industry Limited, Ikeja and finally, at International Energy Services Limited where I retired very recently.

With the full support and cooperation of Dr. Oladiran Fawibe, a Petroleum Economist and Chairman of International Energy Services, we pioneered the Energy Forum in Nigeria – The International Energy Forum, which ran for a decade annually attracting foreign participants and participants from all sectors of the Nigerian economy. It brought together the technocrats, industry operators, policy makers and politicians alike to examine topical issues germane to the industry.

It is also to the glory of God that I was the coordinator of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) International Investors & Contractors’ Conferences. Along the line, I had some exposure also at the international arena. For now, I am in active retirement doing what I love best to do as much as God empowers me.  I now midwife my own investments and contribute my little quota to developmental programmes.

What prompted your early retirement, it’s obvious you are still young and vibrant? People in your age group are still in employment in preference to transmuting entrepreneurship

My retirement was divinely guided and ordered.  It came when I least planned for it.  One early morning, God told me it was over.  He ushered me into a new phase.  I shared my experience with my boss then, Dr. Oladiran Fawibe, who gave me his blessings.  My Bishop, Dr. David Oyedepo also prayed and told me that “when God leads, He leads forward.” So here we are by the Grace of God.

I saw wealth in the light of God’s word and craved for it.  I thought I had some rapid career progression and saw the need to grow younger ones and give them opportunity.  We only need to be reminded that it is the blessing of God that makes rich not the efforts and strength of man.  I also heard Dr. Erastus Akingbola of Intercontinental Bank Plc. say “no employer ever pays an employee to be rich.”  So, I wanted to live my own understanding and definition of God’s own kind of riches.  That’s why.  What could be more? It is the best thing to serve yourself when you would not have any regret or a fall back sorrow. When you can meet your own needs with most minimum prayers and fasting. When you will not be a burden to your environment. It is best to retire when you can share beneficial experiences with your children and the environment without becoming a liability and boring.

Establishing Denix-Tom Associates must have opened a new vista in your life. Tell us the scope of the company and your achievement so far?

Denix-Tom Associates was registered in 1990 but did not go into full operations until my retirement.  Though it has been working to organize its own base and sustain its operations and prepare the ground for my anticipated early retirement.

For now, Denix-Tom is fully involved in Manpower Development and Training Programmes for both the Public and private sector.  We also have an arm that represents JANTEK INC. USA in the West Africa Market. Jantek manufactures Time & Attendance, Access Control, Security Devices and Biometric Software. We also have interest in Aviation and Cargo Services where we partner with JWDKS Cargo Services of the United Kingdom .

Denix-Tom Associates also have the Technical Installations Division that handles civil and technical works in the financial sector. We compete favourably in the business of installation of ATMs for some financial institutions in the country. Denix-Tom has other investment interests.  We have stake in Citi Storage Business Limited, a company solely registered for marketing and sales of consumer-end agricultural products. Another interest is DP & B Investment Ltd which is a total Civil and Construction Company. All of these are through divine inspirations and leading.  So has the Lord helped us.

You were seriously involved at the vanguard of those that championed and crusaded for the elevation of Ekiti State through empowerment and full blown industrialization.  How are you going about it?

I consider the earlier part of this question as flattery. There are mentors like Uncle Ayo Ajayi, former Group MD of UAC Plc; Chief Femi Adewumi, Former GMD of Odu’a Investments Ltd, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN and others.  These are the crusaders.  We are only aspiring to be their foot-soldiers as disciples. Ekiti as we say today is “Fountain of Knowledge.” Where knowledge is not properly domesticated and adequately deployed, it becomes a burden. The Bible says: “The labour of the foolish wearies them, not knowing the way to the city”. That is the futility of knowledge not adequately applied. That is what we are changing in Ekiti State. That is the only new thing.

We are now waking up to the reality of the inadequacies of white-collar employment to meet our needs for development.  Many more Ekiti sons and daughters are now making waves outside teaching and government employment.  I am aware you know Femi Ojudu.  You know Seye Adetunmbi and a host of others.  Engr. Segun Oni went into politics with the same instinct.  Our education must now be geared towards empowerment, industrialization and self employment. That is what is new. And thank God for where Ekiti is today and what this present administration is doing. Our children can now hope to inherit the Ekiti State that is too far from what we inherited.  I am sure they also will inherit an internal economy propelled with good income from industrial taxes and revenue in the state.

How would you describe investment opportunities and potentials of the State?

Let me say that investment potentials of Ekiti State are enormous.  You may not believe that Yam from Ekiti State finds its way to Ghana and ultimately United Kingdom. So also Gari and other staple food items.  Think of what it means to the State if they are well harnessed. Think of the enormity of fruit seed production – oranges, mangoes, Pineapple, pears etc.  To the best of available researches, Ekiti-State’s raw materials base can comfortably support industrialization without much stress. Farmers will earn more for their labour. More employment will be generated at the instance of the private sector to complement what the government is doing.  But we need the infrastructure.  This is one area where I think the Segun Oni Administration is actively on course. It is not that within four years, industry would have filled the whole place.  No. But a journey would have begun with steps taken in the right direction. This is the credit we are giving to Segun Oni and his administration.

You proposed hosting an agro-allied investment summit in Ekiti State, yet, we’ve witnessed legion of workshops on how-to-do things without any form of implementation thereafter. How are you going to make the dream of this agro-allied investment forum a reality in the state beyond the seminar?

Your observation about legion of workshop is correct.  But I will remind you that after the Energy Forum on Energy Policy Agenda for Nigeria, held in 1993, the country armed with the presentations and the documents of the conference started the works on the policy we have today in the energy sector.  Same thing with other seminars in 1997 which kick started the reforms in the Energy Sector; 1999 became the reference point for the privatization of the Energy Sector and in 2001, the effect of globalization was brought in focus.

Today, the documents of those fora remain collectors’ item with the proceedings published. That is what we have been trained to bequeath to the economy and we shall do no less. The peculiarity of Ekiti people is high level honesty and integrity.  Here, we are talking of investors who can reach to the moon partnering with whoever offers a hand.  They are not investors that will take loans and abscond.  In fact, they will guard loans and aided investment more than their wives and dinner.  That is the basis of our confidence.

You are talking of people who have the ability to excel giving the right assistance.  The little they have been doing is what we intend to complement and advance.  Some years ago, Odu’a Investment Company came up with the concept of cottage industry which suffered a set back as a result of funding.  In this day of dwindling government resources, the government can do very little.  That is why we intend to bring the search light of the global fund market on Ekiti State where mutual symbiotic benefits could be achieved.

Apart from showing the people the road to the financial market, we also intend to bring the market as it were into the State.  We intend to give the people a first hand one-on-one interaction with the operators in the international finance market where we have genuine commitment to financing development and poverty eradication through investment financing.

People will learn how to access these funds; Its demands, challenges and their obligations.  If the likes of USDA, US Ex-Im Bank; USAID, EIB and others are interested in financing Agricultural Investments, then we intend to bring them to the (farm) Agricultural Base rather than Interacting with papers and presentations that may not show clear understanding of the exact situation.

So it is a two-way knowledge traffic. We learn from them, they learn from us all on first hand.

Also, we intend to make as much documents as possible available to the participants.  We also intend to post relevant information on the web for global consumption. This is not propaganda, but using the private sector initiative to mobilize, encourage and assist the peculiar situation of Ekiti State and potential investors.

Is it because you are from Ekiti State that you are only focusing on the state? Which other areas or economic sector are you looking at in the nearest future?

I am from Ekiti State and I have enjoyed what an average mother state ought to give to a growing child. But that is not why. This is just the beginning of our programmes. Think of the global economic meltdown.  Think of the situation in the Nigerian finance industry.  The only way out is to look inwards. Money is failing but God is still blessing our land.  Most of the things we import can be produced here. We can also develop our own economy by giving to the industrialized world what their own industries need in the form of exportation thus earning more from our dormant productive sector.

Think of the potentials the Cassava Processing Industry which the Governor will launch on February 10, 2009 carries. In the midst of global meltdown in the Biblical days, Egypt was earning money, land and labour from across the world on agricultural proceeds.  So is this case. Let us begin with agriculture.  And if I will talk of farmers, I will mention my father first. That is the first farmer I knew.  That is why we are starting from Ekiti State. We intend to look at the common-wealth base of other states and periscope same for as long as it falls within what the scope our partners can finance, availability of investors that are credible and the government of the state that is sincere in its programmes. This is why Ekiti is coming first. Charity begins from home.

With the global meltdown, how would your partnership with the US Ex-Im Bank be profitable to Ekiti – investors?

Global meltdown is not the same with individual meltdown.  A thirsty man needs an ice water seller. That’s the relationship.  Apart from US EX-IM Bank bringing funds into the state, they also have capacity to introduce potential partners.  Such partners may bring in machines and technology to the level of their equity funding.  So we should not zero our mind on money, money and money.  Market could be sought and developed for export products.  There are products in the state today that a sound knowledge of packaging will be a boost for at the export market.  US EX-IM Bank market scanning could also be beneficial to prospective investors.  You could go on and on thinking about farming and other food processing ventures. That could be financed from such partnership.  These are what we are talking about.

A historical review of the socio-political profile of Ekiti State shows that the State’s political temperament is the bane of its industrialization. How are you going to change this perception in attracting investors to a politically volatile State like Ekiti?

I am sorry, I don’t agree with that position. Ekiti State is one of the most peaceful States in the Federation. Political activism is not the same as political volatility.  Yes, some cases of assassination and political protests have been recorded, we should not, however, paint Ekiti State in a colour that does not suit it.  Ekiti is largely very peaceful and conducive for the conduct of businesses.  Cost of land and labour remains one of the cheapest.  Access to the export centres is not remote. The bane of industrialization in Ekiti was the use to which the education of the earlier elites was put.  Many of them were teachers, civil servants and quiet social people. They ran away from loans in the bank and wanted regular income which employment provided.

But that is changing now.  Industrialists are growing.  The rank and file of Ekiti prosperous sons and daughters returning home to grow the state is swelling. The central focus of business is profit and sustenance.  I am of the opinion that Ekiti State guarantees these. You don’t need to be an indigene of Ekiti for you to invest in Ekiti.  That is why we are targeting industrialists across the world.  We have a guarantee that the little the Segun Oni Administration has done so far is enough assurance that the future is very bright and hopeful. We therefore need all hands on deck in this effort. It is not an assignment for an individual, or group of individuals.  Not even the Governor can do it alone.  It is a task for all starting with you, the media people.

In working to promote the vision of the present governor Engr. Segun Oni will you not be seen as an appendage of his cabinet; and how would you describe the passion of both of you to transform Ekiti economically?

It is coincidental that we share the same passion.  But let me tell you that we equally belong in the same generation. It is our generation that starts thinking outside teaching and civil service career. It is our generation that starts taking the risk that we pray will transform Ekiti State. Any well meaning indigene of the state must therefore share this passion.

An appendage of his cabinet? I am not a political appointee and neither is the Governor or the Government of Ekiti State commissioning me in this assignment. We pray that the Government of Ekiti State and the Governor will see through our efforts and support this venture fully for the benefit of the state and her people. We are contributing at the level of our individual grace. We only pray to leave a legacy in the state that will endure.  The truth is that Segun Oni is doing enough that should be supported and encouraged.  For once, Ekiti is having sincerity and integrity in governance.  We can only pray for him and support his dreams. As for us, we are doing what God enables us to do.  We have done it at national and international levels. Bringing the knowledge and reach back home is therefore a privilege.

Side Note: Ekiti State is one of the states in the South-western Nigeria.

The Lies is in Truth

They are all in league.

Deception is everywhere and phonies are scattered all over the land. Maybe the biblical doomsday is near. Till then, one should be very cautious therefore in decision making and transactions. As this practice is conversant in every other field, it is in automobile industry to stay. Though most of the auto dealers are honest, not all religious leaders are to be trusted, understand?

Challenge honesty and integrity, a survey has shown that the auto industry is riddled with liars and crooks. You know, if you could define politicians, telemarketers and insurance agents (talking of the insurance agents too, is an issue next week), you can find a matching platform to put the auto dealers. They are all in league.

Although names would not be mentioned, I would try as much as possible to get you informed of their shady practices for you to recognize the feel of the devil’s touch, even in the dark.

Marketing is almost always anchored on deception, which is an activity most people identify with a grain of salt. According to them, life is a sales game and to win it over, every strategy must be deployed – whether it is good, tolerable or awful. Several profit oriented companies make profits by promoting their products and services as better than their rivals, regardless of their truthfulness.

According to an analyst, dealership owners usually keep these eccentric salespersons because they are usually seated atop the sales charts. Although reputation is one significant thing, as they say, business is business. And unless the situation would generate a legal action, most businessmen will not avoid a goose that lays golden eggs.

Among the most common sins include price topping, which involves an agreement between the salesman and a purchaser on a particular price. Afterwards, he tops the final bills with additional hundreds of naira by including finance charges to a few more naira per month than what is required. And bill-padder or the excessive labour fees in regard to pre-delivery work like those involving audio system upgrades, larger wheels, and other options. This is easily disguised by adding several folds of naira per month to the final charge. They also engage in what I term language play which involves the use of grammar and technical languages to aggravate the importance of the product, and before you realize the harm that’s done, you’ve started nodding in agreement. They are all lies.

Chairman, Toyota Nigeria Ltd

Chairman, Toyota Nigeria Ltd

Despite Chief Michael Ade Ojo, Chairman, Toyota Nigeria Ltd philosophical exposition on the fact that criminality does not sell car, the industry still has its slice of shady characters, same with other industries. However, various industries are swarmed by different types of people – people of character, integrity, faith and those belonging to the d-doers.

According to some dealers, it is quite unfair to dub them all as liars, crooks, or fraudulent doers when they are engaged in honest businesses. They added that selling cars is a great way of earning honest income. “Profit,” said an auto dealer, “is not an option, but an objective in any business and that holds true in my industry. It is as fair for an auto dealership and an auto salesperson to make a profit as it is fair to make a profit in any other form of business. There are good people in the auto industry and I am one of them!”

Anyway, regardless of what I think, at the end of all these, you still get the car you always wanted. And that is the truth.

Fortune&Class Weekly of February 16

Fortune&Class Weekly

Fortune&Class Weekly

This is how this week’s edition looks like, get you copy  (Nigeria only).

Is it Helmet or Element?


I don’t want to sound sarcastic, but the attitude of most Nigerians to matters arising is either so interesting or repulsive, depending on how it appeals to your sense of judgment. Example is the recent motorbike safety rule which involved the compulsory use of helmet. We are always waiting for someone to call (or force) our attention to them, yet, these things have been in existence for as long as we know it. And immediately the pretended awareness is created, we literally overdo things either by obeying the law or circumventing it, or perhaps bad mouthing it. If not, how has it become that the word helmet now sounds like an abrasive element to the ears?

Anyway helmet is not synonymous with element, literarily, but one product that finds same range implication with the helmet is the 2009 Honda Element.

The expressiveness of the Honda 2009 Element is an affirmation of Honda’s experience and expertise in building vehicles rich in reliability and socially in tune. This is proudly displayed in the 2009 Element crossover. Some call it bread-in-box mobile, I call it the safety-in-the-box Honda!

The helmet-shaped carrier’s most noticeable action is up front as the boxy cutie displays Honda’s new corporate look. Sexy rounded fog lamps nicely flirting below a pair of cool head lamps flanking the six (2 vertical, 2 horizontal, 2 connecting the lower horizontal edge to the bottom of the vertical edges) sided opening. The front fenders have also been restyled and squared the wheel arches all the way round. This time, the Element exhibits a more mature look since the outgoing ones proved more popular with the older generation, contrary to Honda’s expectation. And out there in the rear is where some newly shaped tail lights find companion alongside a subtly revised back.

A vehicle like this isn’t about looks. It’s about function and practicality, which is one of the reasons it appeals to an older crowd. It offers just the right amount of space without being wasteful or unwieldy. And really, that’s what people buy it for; it’s super useful. Vehicles targeted towards the younger crowd have always done well with the older one. They have homes they can leverage to get financing. They are the ones with buying power (especially in this economy). And, most importantly, they want to feel young! They may not drive down to the beach with a bunch of friends, but they like the sentiment and that plays a big role in their purchase decision.

Even though, there seems no difference in the interior of the trim, I don’t see the need for one anyway. The 2009 Element retains its reconfigurable seats and garden-hose ready upholstery, updated with the latest gadgets, which include Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera for automatic transmission models, USB digital connectivity and Honda satellite-linked navigation system, which for now is optional for Nigerian factor.

The bas LX model comes with a four-speaker stereo with a CD player, while the EX and SC models gets a 270-watt, seven-speaker audio system that will read MP3 and WMA CDs, standard with XM Satellite Radio and steering wheel controls and features a 6.5-in. sub woofer located at the bottom-center of the dash.

Element SC models get an exclusive center console with a built-in auxiliary audio input jack, EX models get a new console with a built-in cooler, and LX models gets a basic console. Element EX and SC models also pick up a new overhead storage system, which is based on Honda’s Railport Vehicle Personalization System. The three-compartment storage area is modular and can be reconfigured based on individual customer needs. SC models also get exclusive Piano Black trim, copper-colored highlights, unique fabrics, and a floor covered with carpet rather than rubber.

It’s likely the Accord’s 170hp K24 be housed in the bonnet, which makes more sense. Accidents happen. But since the Honda is yet to make things official, the safety measures incorporated into the outgoing might still be retained, at least there is no much difference.

Although, the small SUV concept is well appreciated, but this one is not cheap and Honda is glaringly competing with the CRV, which is better in every way and doesn’t cost that much. I would prefer rather the much more useful and prettier RAV4. For me, the Helmet is ugly! What do you think?