Introducing: 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

Dating far back to the 80’s, the term ‘419’ has associated Nigeria and Nigerians primarily with online financial scams – ‘Advance Fee Fraud’. Most unfortunately, the situation exacerbated to such an extent that the internet became overwhelmed with such negative news attributed to Nigeria.

In response to this, ‘The 419Positive Project’ was initiated, with an ambitious objective of generating four hundred and nineteen positive attributes about Nigeria and Nigerians. “If you could tell the world one remarkable thing about Nigeria and Nigerians, what would it be?” Furthermore, in Peter Reilly’s Forbes blog post (Aug 28, 2011), he suggested a similar intervention to his Nigerian audience – “Make lists of 419 reasons to like Nigeria and Nigerians…” His suggestion came as one remedial to his previous post (Nigerians Switching From Greed to Fear), after some Nigerians took exceptions to his views. Other online posts by Chika Uwazie, Nmachi Jidenma and Akin Akintayo, have further lent a voice in this regard.

Pulling these ideas and suggestions together, an online rebranding campaign is being furthered. The aim is clear – to consistently inundate the internet with positive Nigerian attributes, such that when anyone types in ‘419’ in a search engine, it yields positive commentary about Nigeria, irrespective of the pre-existing negativity. This drive is labelled 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria. Awareness is currently being ramped up online, with the topic having trended on Twitter in the early hours of 2nd of September. There will be the big bang launch on October 1, 2011 (Independence Day), of at least 100 Nigerian blogs and sites listing four hundred and nineteen remarkable reasons to like Nigeria, with subsequent monthly blog publishing till the end of 2011.

Every Nigerian with a blog, website, and online presence of any sort (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, account etc.) is encouraged to volunteer and be a part of this campaign. With sincerity and candour, it is true that some, in times past, have contributed unfortunately to the prevailing negative association of ‘419’ with Nigeria, however, the time is NOW for us to counter-strategise by providing alternative content via an online rebranding initiative.

To register your interest, simply send an email to volunteer@419Positive.org, with the subject –CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER, and be sure to provide contact details (email address) so you can be reached subsequently. Volunteers will be contacted latest by the 9th of September, 2011.

Be a part of this drive…the time is now! Let’s tell the world 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria.

A Scorecard For President Goodluck Jonathan

I read the recently published achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan. The list of achievements include creating new institutions (Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NEBT) Plc), formulating new plans (machinery to establish 37 Skills Acquisition Centers) and a few “tangible” improvements (claims of improvement in power supply). There has been a backlash on popular news sites and Social Media questioning how tangible these achievements.

My first impression is that the list has far too many items, many of which are plans, policies and programmes. While I appreciate the list was published to coincide with the administration’s first 100 days in office, I don’t think the items on the list are weighty enough to be celebrated. When you are cooking soup, you don’t announce to the world that it will be the tastiest treat that has ever titillated their taste buds. Let people decide if the soup is actually worth all the noise.

A preferred approach to indicating progress or otherwise would be to select a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on a national vision and key objectives. In management parlance, this is called a Scorecard. Many multinational companies measure their performance using Total Return To Shareholders (TRS). This indicator shows if the company has added value to its shareholders through capital appreciation and dividend payments. Of course there are other KPIs tied to it but everyone watches just this one number. The lower level KPIs managed by the Leadership Team are often less than 10.

The Government would best be served if a few measurable KPIs are developed which show if a nation is developing or not. The average person doesn’t care about many of the achievements on that list. He is more concerned about food on the table. I suggest a short list of less than 15 items which tell of the current state of things and projects what they will be at the end of this administration. For example, a KPI could be school enrolments in 2011-25%, 2015-55%. This way, all eyes will focus on outcomes and not just activities and plans. These KPIs should have measurable targets against which to assess performance regularly, say quarterly.

The scorecard may contain the usual economic indicators such as GDP, External Debt, Interest and Exchange rates, Capital and Money market efficiency. KPIs could also cover infrastructure e.g kilometres of tarred roads, corruption, poverty, health, education etc.

My top KPIs would be as follows

  1. Hours a day without light
  2. Number of people who can afford Western standard healthcare with less than N5,000 a year
  3. Days without a major security incident
  4. Ability to feed a family with N1000 a week
  5. Time taken to drive from Kano to Lagos

Behind each of these KPIs will be a number of plans and programmes but if these things have not changed by 2015 then we will consider the administration a failure.

In addition, some of the more traditional measures could be included.

  1. Absolute and per Capita GDP Growth
  2. External Debt Levels
  3. Interest Rates
  4. Exchange Rates
  5. Power Generation (and % of generation that actually gets to consumers)
  6. Kilometres of Tarred Roads
  7. % of Nigerians below the poverty line

I believe adopting this transparent approach will give the Government focus especially if visually displayed at Government offices and shared with all Nigerians. If you were to measure the effectiveness of Government, what KPIs would you choose and how would you measure them?

Welcome to my new blog

Welcome to my blog. First of all let me say that I’m not a blogger! Not everyone who writes a blog should be considered one. This is my second attempt at writing a blog. I retired the first one but on the advice of a few good friends, I’m starting with this new one. I’m merely going to write what suits my fancy, what God is saying to me at a particular time or my take on topical issues. I’m an avid user of Social Media especially Twitter so my blog posts are going to be brief but to the point. My writing will at times seem amateurish, opinionated and unstructured. I also intend to ask guests to blog as well so expect to read what others have to say. I’m not a “Youth Leader”, satirist, journalist, celebrity or socialite so my writing may seem boring at times.

Please feel free to comment on whatever you see here, but keep it civil and constructive. More solutions and less complaining. In the words of the masked saxophonist, Nigeria must sweet again!