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Success Journey XXII: On Influence

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. ~Napoleon Hill  The post was inspired by a brief interaction on Instagram recently. A young lady posted a video that seemingly eulogized wealth without enterprise. Singing about what Nigerians popularly refer to as hustle, the man in the clip bellowed “Until we secure the bag we can never retire, once na money matter we follow am bumper to bumper… He continued with how he doesn’t need a mugu’s advice since the mugu neither hustled nor did jail time with him. He then concluded by urging you to go abroad and see where hustling is about “nekwe ego, nekwe nga” which literally translates to ( see money, see jail). Unfortunately, this mentality is popular among young people. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with the first part. Determination is a vital ingredient of success. Time and time again people who did not give up often achieve their goals. However, reducing success to 2 options (jail or riches) is a warped mentality that we must discourage. As I wrote at the beginning of this series success is; “the progressive realization of predetermined worthwhile goals stabilized with balance and purified by belief”. My dad used to say that every Igbo man should trade. Indeed in his over 3 long decades in the corporate world, he ran many businesses by the side. Poultry, haulage, spares, electricals, pharmaceuticals, oil & gas, and even real estate. My versatility is obviously his genetic handover. So one day while we chatted on the office balcony overlooking the sprawling stretch of electrical shops along Hospital Road Aba, I asked why he keeps saying that every Igbo man should trade. He replied that trading is a natural talent of the Igbos and even if it isn’t OnataluChi ie a special blessing from God, the fact that we are surrounded by traders makes learning by proximity inevitable. He then concluded with; “Nwokoma, trading is a great fallback option because even if you are a lawyer, doctor, engineer, or professor, there will come a day when you will find the regular income from trading invaluable regardless of how small it may be”. That lesson stuck. It inspired me to co-own an okada (motorbike) business while at Uniport to earn extra income. And in Unimaid I made clothes from Colchoclob Aba to sell to fellow students for the same reason. By the time I graduated and plunged into the oil & gas industry, I already had the mindset of gradual growth. However, by 2000 Yahoo Yahoo was on the rise among jobless youths. I saw young men who became suddenly rich without any verifiable means of income. I was in my twenties and quite impressionable so I was tempted or at least fascinated by this phenomenon. Then one day, I was having a drink with a pal and he mentioned that his boy seated with a group at the other end of the bar will pick up the tab. I was curious because as of last year, he sponsored the boy’s trip to NYSC camp. “Your boy don hammer?”, I asked. “Na high sea”, he replied. He told me the boy was now the nouveau-riche in town and recently bought a Toyota 4runner. I seized the opportunity and asked him to invite the guy over to our table so that we can inquire about his strategy. Taking a deep breath, my friend took a long hard look at me before replying. His words will stick for a lifetime; “Enyia olekwanu ihe anyi ji 419 eme? (my friend what will we benefit from fraud?). Look at you for have a filling station, 3 cars including a V-Booth, and you are about to complete your house in Enugu. How many of our mates can boast of these things? God has blessed us abundantly so let’s not give Him the cause to take back these blessings” I was speechless for a while. I knew my friend came from a devout Anglican family, but as a young man, I was amazed by this fear of God. It was something that was missing among many young folks because we take it for granted that God will always forgive our sins. One thing became clear to me then; That God will forgive does not mean your transgressions will not have consequences. We are what we are because of the influence of our associations and interactions over the years. Ever since that conversation, I always give a second thought to proposals that look too good or easy. And we see them daily. Think about all the mouth-watering investment schemes you receive via social media. MLM products, Real estate deals, Crypto this and that, you name them, the list is endless. Most are fraudulent. The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is” may not always be correct but it is OFTEN correct. There are 2 things you can do after reading this. 1. Make acquaintances that will INFLUENCE you positively and add value to your life. 2. Curate the content on your screen through the lens of your desire. These are deliberate steps that will help you GRADUALLY achieve your goals. It’s time to stop deceiving yourself that you will buy that Benz before December. Stop cutting corners and start focusing on creating value instead. Start building from scratch. That’s how people like Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger became rich. By compounding small amounts of money and skill they were able to build wealth which gradually transformed into huge conglomerates and business empires over the years. Remember, most “get rich quick” schemes OFTEN get the seller rich, not you. And the alternative to prosperity is not jail if your hustle is legit. Slow and steady will always win the race.

Blog, Essays

Why Nigeria had good reasons to delay signing Africa’s free trade deal

Much has been made of the embarrassing withdrawal by Nigeria from signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement earlier this year having initially made the commitment to sign it. Its decision was criticised by many, including myself. These reactions were justifiable given the historical poor performance of Nigeria and other African states when it comes to their commitment to regional economic integration. But, Nigeria’s decision needs to be evaluated in the light of the reason it’s given for the delay. The government has subsequently explained that it’s decision wasn’t a rejection of the trade accord. Rather, it said, it wanted time to consult with key stakeholders in the country. This includes the Nigerian labour congress, the manufacturers association as well as other players in the private sector. Given the free trade area’s potential to reconfigure intra-African market and the continent’s relationship with global trading system, consulting Nigerians should play an important role in signing the agreement. The agreement is the first of its kind in Africa. It proposes creating a single market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments across 55 countries. The agreement has a dispute settlement mechanism similar to the one set up by the World Trade Organisation. The deal promises to redefine trade relations among African states and beyond. It’s also expected to aid the coordination of trade liberalisation and improve interactions within existing regional economic communities. If implemented, it will draw together the largest number of countries within a free trade area in the world. Initially 44 countries signed the pact in March. The number has since risen to 49. In my view, the Nigerian government made a wise decision. Holding off on signing the agreement shows how seriously it’s taking the agreement. The consultative process The government is taking the consultations seriously. This bodes well for the future implementation of the agreement. For example, in May, six consultation meetings were held in the six geopolitical zones – North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-East, South-South, South-West – of Nigeria. The government has also consulted with think tanks as well as trade expert groups and institutions such as the Nigeria Institute for Advanced Legal Studies. It’s also set up sessions with civil society. The process has also involved engaging with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, poultry groups, the Nigerian Labour Congress, Rice Processors Group, Aviation Association Group, Fertilisers Producers Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Association of Small and medium Enterprises and the National Chamber of Commerce, industry, mines and agriculture. Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator & Director General, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe, recently stated that Nigeria is finally getting ready to sign While buy-in from everyone might not be achieved, the engagements are nevertheless important. More to gain than lose Nigeria’s governmenthas made it clear that it sees great merit in the free trade agreement. It has applauded the agreement’s potential to expand market access for Nigeria’s good and services. And that it will boost economic growth and job creation. The agreement will also improve competitiveness and the ease of doing business in Nigeria while it simultaneously provides a platform for the country’s continued leadership role in Africa. For Nigeria, the agreement’s dispute settlement mechanism would also be a major advance, providing protection against hostile and discriminatory trade practices. But it does have concerns. These include unfair trade practices, such as dumping – when a country lowers the sales of its exports below the cost of production to gain unfair market share. A rules based trade governance structure would give Nigeria greater access to invoking remedies for this kind of behaviour. The Nigerian government has expressly declared its confidence in the potential of the agreement’s dispute settlement mechanism. This contrasts with its scepticism of WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism which developing countries have generally viewed as expensive and unfair towards them. Perhaps, one way to explain the embrace of the dispute settlement mechanism under the agreement then is its uniquely African roots and the potential for “equal” access among its members. For Africa: More Free Trade and less protectionism is the way It’s only fair that the government is allowed time to examine issues like this closely. But, it’s also important that Nigeria doesn’t allow the consultation to cripple, jeopardise or undermine the process. Not signing the free trade agreement is not an option for Nigeria, particularly given the rise in protectionism, nationalism and backlash against free trade in the global multilateral trading system. Past experiences with economic integration on the continent aren’t that encouraging. Nevertheless, the free trade pact offers African states the opportunity to build a formidable market in these unsettling global economic times. Olabisi D. Akinkugbe, Assistant Professor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada., Dalhousie University published this article initially on theConversation.

Blog, Resources

Export: 36 Nigerian firms to exhibit products in China

A total of 36 Nigerian SMEs will be in China to showcase products in the forthcoming China International Small and Medium Enterprise Fair. Nigeria’s Consul-General in Guangzhou, China, Mr Wale Oloko, made this known on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 via an e-mail sent to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). He said that the consulate was in collaboration with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to exhibit made in Nigeria products at the fair. Excerpts from the e-mail said: Thirty-six small and medium enterprises from Nigeria are to participate at the 14th China International Small and Medium Enterprises Fair in Guangzhou from Oct. 9 to Oct. 13. “We are to ensure that Nigerian entrepreneurs showcase their products to visitors and investors from all over the world and explore export opportunities. “The SMEs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will exhibit food, clothing, handicraft and manufactured agricultural products.’’ Furthermore, the Nigerian SMEs will also take part in another fair at the Canton International Trade starting on the 15th of October in Guangzhou. Mr Oloko said that these events will provide an opportunity for the consulate and SMEDAN to inform Chinese investors of the ongoing economic diversification and recovery efforts by the present Nigerian government through infrastructural improvement. “Nigerian Government takes the issue of economic revitalisation seriously and will grant incentives to encourage investments in the priority sectors listed in the recently released Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. “The plan is focused on achieving macro-economic stability, transforming agriculture, driving sufficiency in energy, improving transportation infrastructure and growing industrialisation with attention on small and medium scale enterprises.’’ Source: NAN

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