No rush – agbusiness investment should be with caution!

For a long time to come, oil will remain the major source of revenue for Nigeria and that is not going to change anytime soon. However, given several recent events, broadening our revenue base beyond oil will help protect the economy against further radical currency devaluation, and prolonged recession which all have lasting implications. 

In broadening that revenue base, there is a strong drive towards promoting agriculture especially as a tool to generating FX through exports. The recent fanfare around the exportation of 70tons of yam is a testament to this hysterical excitement. However, here is where I want to throw in the element of caution!

Nigerians have been diagnosed with the most extreme case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) which is why everyone suddenly gravitate toward the reigning thing. We have seen several waves of such: MMM, UK masters, FitFam, Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge jogging, US immigration, (you can add yours to the list). If we understand well the principle of an efficient market, we will see that the market eliminates all arbitrage by a self adjusting demand-supply movement. Hence, more often that not, at the peak of this frenzy, new entrants are mostly already late to the party. 

The new focus of our FOMO is agbusinesses. And many are rushing in without understanding the market, eventually getting their fingers burned. For example, if you are planting cassava, who is your target market? Will the variety you’re growing satisfy the requirement of your target market? Is your location the best for growing such crop? Will the logistic cost to market eliminate your margins? Can you produce competitively? Can you store your output or you want to take market price? Are you realistic with your yield expectations given various unexpected issues? I have seen too many variants of this and many groan under the weight of huge losses. 

We need to first understand that unlike most businesses, agriculture involves nurturing lives – plants or/and animals which comes with various risks which though can be mitigated must be identified and managed.

Agbusinesses indeed present huge opportunities for wealth creation but cannot be done half-heartedly. Hence, please, proceed with caution!

I was locked up…in Bucharest

My colleagues and I were cuffed and our faces covered with black hoods. We were led down the hall of a dungeon (or so I felt) and I was separated from the rest. A metallic door opened and I was shoved in and the hood removed. After adjusting my sight to the room I was locked in, I realized I was in a cell which was not more than 15 sq. ft. The cell had metal sliding bars as doors and a wall separated me from another cell. And there was another wooden door after the metal doors locking in both cells.

I had scramblings in the next cell next to me and I asked who was there and realized one of my other colleagues was locked in the other cell. But where were the remaining 3? The wall separating us had hollow space with some sort of maze and a pulley system. I started searching through the cell I was in to see if I could find anything that could help escape from the cell. After searching frantically, I eventually opened the cover of the wash hand sink in the cell and there was a key. I tried it on my cuffs and puff…it unlocked. There was no way to pass the key to my colleague to try but there were some markings on my wall which later proved helpful. After deliberating with my colleague for a while, we realized if we could slide a golf ball we found in my cell into the hollow space in the wall, it will fall through the maze and unlock something…what it was, we had no clue. So we got to that and tried hard to guide the golf ball through the hollow space. Eventually, it slipped and it started rolling down the maze. We waited, hoping and wondering what would come out of this. Eventually, it hit a dead end and we had a click sound…my cell door automatically opened.

I got out but I could not leave as there was a wooden door which seemed to need a code to unlock. I went to check my colleague and was surprised to find out she had some form of wooden jigsaw puzzle on the floor which she was fiddling with. There was a missing part of the puzzle which was in a 3rd cell which I had to get for her. As soon as she put together the puzzle, it formed some 4 numbers. We tried the numbers on a code reader and her door opened. We still had to figure out how to get out through the wooden doon. Eventually we did and we got into a hall way with 2 doors. One was opened and the other locked! Through the opened door, we realized our colleagues were locked in other cells in there. I first handed them the key to the cuffs and they were able to remove their cuffs. There were some marking on their wall indicating a part of the wall in the hall. We went back there and we saw nothing. Hitting on the walls, we discovered a part of it was hollow and after shoving hard, we pulled a brick out of the wall which had a key; we used the key to open a locker in the hallway and found the code to open the cells of my colleagues.

Eventually, 5 of us stood in the hallway wondering how to open the main door to the hall way. We would definintely need a 4-letter code but how to get the code was the question. After fumbling around the hallway for a while, one of us evetually noticed there were multiple lighting system in the room. We turned off the yellow light and put on the purple light and all of a sudden, the wall of the hallway which was empty was covered with several mathematical equations. We pulled out a sheet of paper and started adding, subtracting, dividing…it was mind boggling! We got the code, punched it in and the door opened to us. We got out in 59mins and 14 secs!!!

This was my first experience with the escape room game. It was the most awesome experience I had ever had as it challenged my thinking, enhanced how I communicated with my colleagues, questioned my assumptions, tested my wits and ultimately helped me realize how well I do under pressure as we had only 60mins to break out. Escape rooms are now the fastest growing adventure games in the world.

It’s really great to know now that the first escape room game has opened in Nigeria. While its not a prison break like I did, this has a serial killer theme – a serial killer kidnapped and murdered 3 ladies and now has a 4th target. You have access to his crime scenes and his den and you have 60mins to identify him, his 4th target and what weapon he uses. If you have the opportunity, you should go with your friends, colleagues or family to really have a great fun time. Check it out at http://www.escaperoomnigeria.com

 

 

 

I had a dream…Now, that GMB is winning!!!

My journey with GMB started before 2011 but more from a suspicious perspective rather than a supportive one. It was then I started asking myself about the intentions and past of this seemingly pious puritan that makes his so attractive to the northern hegemony. Luckily for me, the veil fell off my eyes early enough, giving me ample time to join and contribute to his campaign efforts for the 2011 elections. Someone tweeted that with the results coming from the SE/SS now, its obvious the election was massively rigged in that region in the last election so it is fair to argue that Buhari could have won the election then too but that’s history now.

Fast forward four years to 2015, we are standing on the precipice of an incumbent routing at the polls by the ‘people’s general’, having run for the same seat at four consecutive polls. When he wins, he will be making history, breaking any available record in that regards. I suspect business schools will start using him as a business case on how re-branding should work, and inspirational preachers will teach on how we should not give up, no matter how many times we had tried and failed.

In my fight and push for a GMB presidency, one push back I have received more than any other is the mantra that ‘our vote will not count, so why should I bother myself’. And my reply since 2011 remains the same – one day, our votes will count in this country, let it not be that when that happens, you did not cast your vote. So, whether it is rigged or not, go out to vote and exercise your civic rights. And that, we have done in 2015, and we did not leave it to chance, but we stood up to protect our future.

Today, we might be making history for ourselves, and our children yet unborn, giving to them a nation that is truly theirs. A nation that thinks and cares about them, a nation yielding its resources for their happiness and comfort, a nation they can be proud of, a nation whose passport they are willing to shove into any face at any country’s border, a nation they do not need to run from but run to, a nation they can truly call theirs. If we can do this as a nation now, then my dream has not ended…because in that dream, I did not see Nigeria but I saw the world…from Nigeria!!!

Can this stop already?

Some years ago, watching some of these foreign movies, we see people travel in trains with their heads buried in one book or the other. This was a time when people soaked in knowledge and acquired wisdom. Such beautiful sight to behold.

But what do we have these days? Everyones head is buried quite alright but not in books. I was on the MRT yesterday and I looked around and it was amazing to see that about 7% were reading something, another 13% like me doing nothing or sleeping and the remaining 80% had their eyes glued to their smartphones or tablets. They were typing, giggling, and raising their heads only occasionally for whatever reason.

Even at kFC, every one on a particular queue was lost in the mobile world. It was really obnoxious at first but then you never judge a book by its cover even though the cover might make you put it away for a long time. While I cannot really say what impact this is having on people’s intellectual development and social interactions in this part of the world, I can definitely argue its having some adverse effect on Nigerian youths.

But really, we need to slow down a bit on this – it just does not seem right!