Archive

Author Archive

The Cost of Intellectual Property

Posted on: March 27th, 2017 by The Moderator 8 Comments

Welcome to The Octagon. We appreciate you taking time out to Join this Chat Session which will end in an hour. We have two moderators in the room who will only offer guidance where necessary. Please feel free to openly share your thoughts and experiences. Let’s begin with some introductions before going into the discussion. Can everyone let us know who they are and share a bit about what they do? 

 

Jude: I’m Jude. I work in Brand Development and Crisis Management. I also co-own a food company with my brother.

 

 Damola: I’m Damola, I recently started a role as head of business development for A2Creative, a brand development group and also the founder of a brand consulting firm.

 

Yomi: I’m Yomi, I work in brand development as a strategist/account planner. I’m also an entrepreneur and want to be president some day.

 

Isi: My name is Isi Etomi. I trained as an architect, now Creative Director of my own design studio focused on architecture, interior, graphic design and photography. Interesting thing about me…in the past, I’ve pretty much done everything from working in McDonalds, to selling car and home insurance, to door-to-door sales, to working in practice for a firm that restored/repaired/renovated stately homes and cathedrals/museums. I like to think of myself as an all-rounder.

 

Alex: I’m Alex. Digital marketing/Strategy. I also dabble into event planning when I’m not busy being a super hero.

 

The octagon: Nice to meet you all. Let’s jump into the conversation.

As a creative, you will eventually have to face a couple of unfortunate truths in your career in Nigeria. One of the most prevalent ones being a client who does not respect the work you do. A client that believes ideas shouldn’t be paid for, and only the execution of the idea is worth valuing. However, in other parts of the world, Ideation and strategy is a valid line item in billing clients.

Another challenge is the zero respect for intellectual property. There are clients who will take your idea and run. These days people show up to meetings and sign NDA’s before discussing. But are these NDA’s really effective?

The most unfortunate part of this unfortunate truth is that it will all too often present itself in the form of a client who refuses to pay for your services once all of the work has been completed.

Do you think clients should pay for Ideation ? How important do you think the idea is in a project cycle?

 

Jude: There is no question about it when it comes to the value of ideas in any project cycle. An Idea can be the WHAT, the HOW, the WHEN and the WHY of any project. Sometimes, it is all of these things. Ideas are solutions. Solutions end problems.

 

Isi: Clients who do not respect what creatives do can be found all over the world. Case in point: Trump not paying his architect’s fees. Humans by nature only want to pay for something tangible. We struggle to understand things we do not see. Which is suprising, considering how some of us have taken to the idea of religion – believing in a God we’ve never seen. But that’s an argument for another day.

NDA’s –  I don’t mind NDAs, but I think an initial consultation fee is required. IF they are happy to pay, then at the very least, there is value exchange. The idea, I think is 50% of the work. The rest is planning and execution. Ideas are pretty important. You can’t plan and execute ‘nothingness’. And creatives counter this today by tying their work to production, and building strategic partnerships

 

Alex: Ideas form the backbone on which planning and execution are done. You can’t plan what you have no idea about. Like Isi said, humans like to pay for tangible stuff which i think is where most of the problem lies.

 

Damola: I understand not executing nothingness but the reason why I agree that there must be compensation for ideation is that it has been a line item since I started in management consulting for these reasons;

1. I have seen instances when we send a proposal. The client may terminate the contract prematurely or might even be a prospect. They wait and slightly remix the execution. That’s theft.

2. If you also Bill for hours spent on ideation you realize you have resources committed and they have to be paid for.

3. The possibility of using your IP without credit. Hence need for IP lawyers.

 

The octagon: How do you decide what to charge for the idea? Should the possible tangible results be more emphasised during the cost process?

 

Isi: Only a creative can dictate what they feel their time is worth. Figure out your rates and don’t let anyone short-change you. Easier said than done though.

 

Damola: Man hours spent ideating and royalty potential for me. An example, if I had an idea for a platform. With clearly defined mechanics and earning potential. You would have to charge something since you’re basically giving a platform away with the blueprint with the possibility that you won’t earn a dime from it. if a platform can earn 40m by projections, I would charge 5-10% for ideation

 

Jude: Hours… Value Added to the project.

 

Yomi: So quick question if you don’t mind, how can you rate or charge for ideation given that it’s subjective? On the creatives end, it’s seen as 50% and one of the most important elements of a creative process so we would seek to charge a premium on same. However the client sees otherwise and would be VERY reluctant to pay for something he/she doesn’t value just as much. So how then do we bridge this gap?

 

Isi: The only way really, is to educate our clients – Which is one reason why I really love the Netflix show ABSTRACT: The Art of Design. It shows everyone what creatives do and how they do it. It’s sooo important that people see this. Many times in the hallways at school, everyone thought all architecture students did was ‘colouring in’ and ‘drawing lines’. Not understanding that every line and colour represents a decision.

 

Jude: This client education is difficult in Nigeria. I was on a consultation project for an Architect recently, and I had to stress the importance of building concept portfolios.

 

Damola: Have you had to educate the client and how ? Especially the ones who wouldn’t watch these shows or heed to videos or decks of educative material.

 

Yomi: There’s also the angle of clients who feel they ‘know and understand’ creativity especially as it pertains to their businesses even more than you the creative person. Educating that type of client would be a tough one.

 

Jude: When creativity is only based on a client’s brief, they feel they know better than you. But for those that create concept portfolios where ideas run free of limitation, clients seem to respect the extent of their ability even before going into a meeting with them. I’ve seen this happen time and time again, And I just had to take it on board.

 

Isi: We invite our clients to the studio and we have our work and process PLASTERED all over our walls. There’s also a short clip of like 101 logo revisions before the final. Things like that go a long way towards educating a client. Concept portfolios are good, but clients want to see BUILT WORK.

 

The octagon: In the case where the client needs to determine the best agency to move their vision forward and reaches out to multiple firms to pitch… how do you present and charge for ideas? There have been cases where ideas have been pinched and shared with the choice agency.

 

Isi: Only bid for work where you’re paid an honorarium. Unless you choose to do the work ‘on risk’ – Then it’s on you. The fact remains that there are people out there who will do the work for free. And they need to be educated as well. Newbies don’t know much – same as me when I first started freelancing as a designer. And they’re the ones the clients want to find and latch on to for work. I’m curious to know what they’re being taught at Yaba Tech and other graphic design/creative schools. Is there a business module ?

 

 Alex: I think as much as clients need to be educated, creatives need to be educated even more!

 

Damola: Yeah that’s what makes half our client pitches done on risk. I think there is a legal protection needed along with the education. Happy that IP law is a growing category that’s very much needed

 

The octagon: Here is a funny scenario: What happens when agencies who do not have good ideas begin to spring up because they know that initial ideas are typically paid for?

 

Isi: Competitions. In this scenario, people are being compensated for their time. Clients know that they have to search for talent. So they put out competitions, with an honorarium which suits their budget. Then maybe….everybody wins?

 

Damola: Yeah it’s also a tactic used by big FMCGs during their annual pitches. Especially as they take on the risk by inviting those agencies specifically, for the RFP requirements and resources needed.  BUT, I know of some consulting firms that send out RFPs, get proposals. Go quiet. And then eventually use the research done or execute themselves. I see RFPs like that I run. Or respond with a credentials document without giving away the meat of the idea

 

Alex: At the beginning, we spoke about NDAs. Why aren’t they effective anymore? Is it a Nigerian problem?

 

Isi: Some big companies know they have the money to fight, and we don’t. It’s as simple as David v. Goliath. ‘We have deep pockets’. Until someone teaches them a lesson

 

The octagon: What are different ways to protect your intellectual property from being used by a client without consent ?

 

Isi: Watermark, low res, Password protected files, Disable right click/save image as, Screenshots, etc. Even sending watermarked images ALONE will get you your money.

 

Jude: I knew a guy who created an app where he shared his work. The app security didn’t even let people screenshot its pages. I sometimes put clauses where some essential development is done outside of the client’s billable hours. On the surface it looks like a discount, but in reality I do some essential work I want protected during this time.

 

Damola: That’s dope!!

 

Isi: Do we know of any cases where a creative has taken a big company to court for using their IP without compensation or permission? But we too are responsible though, we should call them out when it happens. Instead of shrugging our shoulders and saying ‘it’s what they do’. Maybe we need to file class action? Find other people who’ve been screwed similarly.

 

Damola: No one oh. Just morning exercise. Haha. I’veheard of only a few, but it drains the creative outfit in the long run. Re: IP court case. It’s out of fear and the effort required but when we get bigger I think the larger agencies have a responsibility they are not taking on. They become YES men because their billables have made them fat and docile.

 

Jude: We don’t have a coherent creative industry. Too much noise from mediocre champions desperate to feed.

 

The Octagon: From each of your different experiences dealing with clients, how have you been able to ensure that you get the best out of your engagement? Can you paint a picture for us?

 

Jude: It has been a struggle. When I started out, I was based in the UK and the issues I faced were different. Now I find myself having to be extra selective about clients. I must vibe with you on a personal level before I do a job for you. If a potential client is an a-hole, I make sure I establish some grounds before we work together. Tame the beast before entering its den, so to speak.

 

Isi: If from the very beginning, I sense a client isn’t a good communicator, that’s the first sign of trouble…in my opinion.

 

Damola: Mine has been interesting both as an employee and a business owner. I worked with a big agency, it was easier to absorb the hits and fire clients that we weren’t interested in when they didn’t conform to our terms of engagement (smaller clients). With larger jobs we pitched for we took a risk and absorbed the hit.

As a business owner, I literally almost went on a dating expedition before I signed with the client before I engaged and even when I shared proposal. Always kept something before I got some kind of commitment (financial) to share more. In those cases the chemistry worked for the better for the engagement because of the trust.

 

Yomi: To be honest, I believe it’s about positioning yourself as not just being the ideas guy but also the execution guru as well. Creating a perception in the mind of the client of being as critical a factor to the execution of an idea as the idea itself has upped my chances in a lot of instances. (This however isn’t full proof).

The Octagon: Thank you for taking time out to share your insightful thoughts with us. We will be sharing this conversation on www.theoctagon.com.ng next week. We hope this has been exciting for you as it has been for us.

Alex: Thank you for having me!

Yomi: Same here! Have a swell day!

Isi: Thank you! This was a great conversation!

Jude: Thanks for having me. Thanks everyone.

Damola: Thanks! It was great discussing with you all

 

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

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

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)

The Octagon Session – Profit from your Passion with Steve Harris

Posted on: February 10th, 2017 by The Moderator No Comments

The Octagon Sessions (Episode 2) on “Profit from your Passion” was facilitated by Steve Harris on the 29th November 2016.

This 2 hour session consisted of a key note address and a question and answer session where Steve helped guide participants. Steve Harris is a Life & Business Strategist and the CEO of Edgeecution a management consulting firm. Here are some clips from the event.

EXCERPT 1

EXCERPT 2


About Steve Harris
Steve Harris, fondly called “Mr. Ruthless Execution” is privileged to be a trusted authority in the fields of Life & Business Strategy, a highly sought after Management Consultant and Chief Executive Officer of EdgeEcution, Motivational Speaker & Author.
He helps high performance individuals and institutions bridge the gap between their performance and potential.
In May and September 2015 as well as in April 2016, Steve Harris was listed among the ‘World’s Top 100 Business Coaches To Follow On Twitter’
He is also a certified member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), a member of the Life Coaches Association of Nigeria (LCAN), the American Association of Small Business Consultants, Texas, USA and the International Certified Consultants Association, Canada.
In May and September 2015 as well as in April 2016, Steve Harris was listed among the ‘World’s Top 100 Business Coaches To Follow On Twitter”
Steve Harris is one of Nigeria’s leading high performance coaches and Business Strategists. He is also one of the most-watched, most downloaded, quoted and followed personal development trainers in Nigeria.
Steve is also sought after by many organizations as a turn-around expert, inspirational speaker & corporate activator that has added incredible value to not only the effectiveness and corporate productivity of his clients, but also to their organization’s bottom line.
His podcast has been rated among the Top 15 in the Training category in iTunes and has been downloaded over 200,000 times.
His online courses have been taken by over 2000 students and his weekly emails reach well over 3000 people.
A sought after conference speaker, Steve Harris is passionate about helping people chase their greatness with ruthless execution.
Visit www.iamsteveharris.com for more information on Steve Harris

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

medical

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

dv1850045

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

nysc

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 ?

(Continue on Next Page)

How To Balance Parenthood & Entrepreneurship

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

parenthood

Welcome To The Octagon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Survey – Youth participation in community building

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

take-poll3

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


 

Octagon Survey Results – Starting a Business Partnershp

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

survey-banner

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

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

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

14089124_953938298048757_7812946647940127671_n

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

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

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

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

14088619_954481494661104_8859479812084895971_n

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

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

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

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

14102218_954480211327899_4282683511126921115_n

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

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

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

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

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

Share
FacebookTwitterGoogle+Email

The Octagon | Gr8an | ©2017 All Rights Reserved