Sunday, October 10, 2010

Laws That Made Nations Great (Part II)

If nothing else, the responses I got from those who read the 1st part of the write up will definitely compel me to finish it up. And I intend to do that – not sure I will complete it in this post, but maybe the next

There has been a lot of debate, before and after our (Nigeria’s) 50th anniversary celebrations. While a number of people feel strongly that there is nothing to celebrate, a number also feels we have a lot to rejoice about. I am not about to join the debate. No matter which side you belong to, at least one thing is clear – Nigeria cannot be referred to, today, as one of the world’s great. While me might have made some strides, we are still way behind other nations of the world. In my last post, I started sharing some thoughts on the laws that made nations great. No nation or individual has achieved greatness without them. They are simple but profound laws, and they hold sway anywhere and everywhere in the universe.

The Principle of Hardwork – Rewarding Excellence and Merit and not Quotas

The Principle of Integrity

The Principle of Frugality

Frugality is the practice of minimizing waste. It can be related to the idea of being conservative or conserving resources. It is getting more done with less.

Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything
. Benjamin Franklin

One of the greatest problems we have in our nation today is that people live beyond their means; they spend more than they earn! I have worked for a multinational for the past 7 years. Despite the fact that I feel that the company pays fairly and competitively, I am always amazed whenever the month is drawing to a close. People are constantly checking their emails for payment notifications. Most are waiting anxiously for their salaries. They’ve even finished spending it before the earn it! Most times, it is even spent on frivolities, liabilities and things that are just status symbols. This is a major evil. No one becomes great without learning to spend less than he earns!

The same is true for our nation and continent. Do you know that Africa has 40% of the world’s natural resources, despite the fact that it has only 10% of the world’s population? Amazing! We need to ask how these resources are being managed. What happened to the gold mines of South Africa? How are the rich oil wells in Niger Delta managed? Aren’t we a prodigal nation? Any wonder why we export crude and import it back as petroleum products?

According to a recent report in a national weekly newspaper, the country currently spends about $1.7 million (N200 million) to maintain a senator, while about N150 million is spent on each member of the House of Representatives annually. For instance, a former Senate president had 32 cars in his official quarters! When a state governor is travelling within the country he moves with a large convoy of vehicles — mostly bullet-proof cars — and a large retinue of officials who are usually quartered in the best hotels in town at the expense of taxpayers. According to the report, a former governor had three different houses on one street in an expensive suburb of London, whereas John Major, former British prime minister, left No 10 Downing Street, his official residence as prime minister, and went to rent a flat somewhere in the same neighborhood.

Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality
.John Tyler

What % of your income are you saving? From my experience in the school of success, you are not yet ready for greatness, until you are able to save/invest about 20% of your income on a consistent basis. This is what great individuals and great nations do. Despite having a net worth of $62 billion and being the world’s richest man, famously frugal investor Warren Buffett still lives in the same home he bought for nearly $31,500 some 50 years ago! I am not sure you can say anything close of any Nigerian!

The Principle of Respect For Credit

A couple of months ago, the whole nation was startled by the news of distress in our banking sector. After an audit by the Central Bank of Nigeria, it was discovered that many of the “big” banks were practically at the brink of collapse. Amongst other problems, there was the issue of people not returning money they had borrowed from the banks. People were borrowing large sums of money, and were not fulfilling their commitments of returning it back as at when due. The list of “big” debtors was published in many dailies. I was awed by our lack of respect for credit in our nation.

This of course makes it very difficult for Nigerians to get lines of credit outside the country. Our fellow Nigerians has proven, time and time again, that we lack a culture of respect for credit lines. I heard that in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Nigerians schooling in the UK had easy access to credit. You could practically walk into any bank, and without any collateral, borrow money to pay through school with just a promise to pay back. Your word/promise was enough security for the loan. By the mid 80’s, it was almost impossible to even open an account in the UK if you carry a green passport, not to talk of applying for a credit line! What happened? You guessed right – majority of Nigerians who too loans never paid back!

Disrespect for credit is a killer. It is one of the reasons we are backward as a nation. Most people will not do serious business with Nigerians except you are paying cash! You can’t imagine how many wonderful business deals passes us by because of this limitation.

Even at individual levels, this cancer eats deep. Have you borrowed someone money lately? What was your experience? I sure do hope that your experience was better than mine. People come back to you with all manner of reasons and excuses why they can’t pay back as at when due. Of course, this eventually limits what they can get from you in future. It’s very difficult to borrow people money today without signing a legal agreement. You may never get the money back.

For any individual or nation to become great, we must have a deep seated respect for credit.

Phew.....i have to pause now. I'll complete this series in the next post. Till i come your way again, keep shinning!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Laws That Made Nations Great

Last weekend, I had the privilege of listening to Professor Osibanjo (former Attorney General of Lagos State, and a Pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God). He was speaking passionately about the laws and principles that made nations(like America, Britain, China e.t.c) great. I sincerely wish that I could force them to listen to his thoughts at the next Federal Executive council meeting in Abuja. I wish I had the power to force every State house of Assembly not to seat until they have listened to his teaching 3 times over! He was so spot on. Most importantly, I remember thinking to myself “All future leaders of our dear country need to start thinking of this now, even before they get into office”. This is what is motivating me to write this, sharing some of his thoughts, and spicing it with what I have learnt and seen about these principles. I know that most of you reading this will one day, not too far from now, be playing key roles in the leadership of this country. Most importantly, these laws and principles will work for individuals as much as it will work for a nation.

Life is governed by laws and principles. When these laws and principles are followed, then you have no choice but to reap the reward of it. When they are not, the same happens – you reap the reward! Principles are no respecter of persons. They are true anywhere, anytime and to anyone wherever you are in the world. Take the principle of gravity for example. Anything that goes up must come down. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of America or just a poor wretch by the road side. If you jump up, you will come down! Except overpowered by a greater law (law of aerodynamics, the law of gravity hold true for everyone, everywhere. You can pray more than praying mantis. You can speak multiples tongues, but all these will not are subject to principles that govern life

Most of us are not progressing as individuals, and our nation is backward compared to others, because we have little or no respect for life’s principles! An average Nigerian will rather pray than obey simple principles. Permit me to share with you some of these simple, yet profound principles that will certainly catapult us, as individuals, and as a nation, from where we are now to where we have always wanted to be.

The Principle of Hardwork – Rewarding Excellence And Merit And Not Quotas

I've always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got
Alan Bond

Many people think that hardwork is a curse. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Hardwork is the only substitute to a hard life. Either your work hard or you live hard. The choice is yours. Golden opportunities are nothing to laziness but hardwork makes the commonest chance golden. Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top. Believe me.

The dictionary is the only place in the world where “success” comes before “work” just because of the alphabetical arrangements of things. Work always comes before success, anywhere in the world. Show me a lazy man and I will show you a man who has kissed success goodbye. A wise man puts it in a wonderful way “show me a man who is diligent in his work, I will show you a man who will stand before kings and not before ordinary men”. The diligent and hardworking hand will always bear rule.

As a nation, we breed laziness! Research shows that a Chinese worker is about 6 times more effective that a Nigeria worker! I am sure you will believe that even without any research. You can see it all over the place. Have you been to a government Secretariat lately? Have you tried getting a 1 page latter signed from any ministry? You just wonder what the people there are doing and why it will take 1 week to get a letter signed. I am afraid to say that our nation will not change much until we adopt the pay by the hour culture. This is what happens in the developed nations of the world. They pay according to the hours of work you put in! Here, once you are on the payroll, you get paid for working 8 hours per day even if you don’t show up. It’s a shame.

I took statistics of public holidays in Nigeria in 2007. The ratio of work days to holidays between Jan and April is approximately 8:1. It’s like having a holiday once every 2 weeks! For me, that is an invitation do disaster. It’s a reflection of the state of our economy. Our over-dependence on oil gives us liberty to declare public holidays at will. Whether people are at work or not, the oil wells are producing oil!

I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious
Vince Lombardi

To worsen matters, excellence is not rewarded. We will rather reward people according to quota system instead of merit. In a football team, we MUST have representations from all geopolitical zones of the country, whether they merit it or not. I am tempted to mention names but i won't. Lol! We must obey federal character. Have you seen the list of those that were honoured with national awards of late? You will cry – governors disgraced out of office, politicians with integrity issues, and people who have spent a very long time in service (their contribution is immaterial). Until we start rewarding excellence and merit as a nation, we are not yet ready to become great! It is that simple.

The Principle Of Integrity

This is perhaps the greatest bane of our nation. Our nation is in short supply of men and women with personal integrity and honesty. With more sophistication, it’s even easier to throw integrity to the garbage bin. From the salesmen on the street to the CEO of multinationals, from the Student Union Executives of our colleges to the National Assemblies of out nations, people have underestimated the importance of consistently living up to a set of ideals. What a tragedy!

We live in a world that has become so obsessed with success and material wealth at the expense of all else. It’s very rare to see men and women of integrity who would hold on to their righteousness by all means. “The end justifies the means” is now the motto of several people, all in a bid to amass wealth.

As I write this, I can remember an old Ghanaian fable that I read some years back. I think I should share it (again) to drive home my point. Here….

“An aging king woke up one day to the realization that should he drop dead, there would be no male in the royal family to take his place. He was the last male in the royal family in a culture where only a male could succeed to the throne - and he was aging. He decided that if he could not give birth to a male, he would adopt a son who then could take his place, but he insisted that such an adopted son must be extraordinary in every sense of the word. So he launched a competition in his kingdom, open to all boys, no matter what their background.

Ten boys made it to the very top. There was little to separate these boys in terms of intelligence and physical attributes and capabilities. The king said to them, "I have one last test and whoever comes top will become my adopted son and heir to my throne." Then he said, "This kingdom depends solely on agriculture. So the king must know how to cultivate plants. So here is a seed of corn for each of you. Take it home and plant and nurture it for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, we shall see who has done the best job of cultivating the seed. That person will be my heir-apparent. "

The boys took their seeds and hurried home. They each got a flower pot and planted the seed as soon as they got home. There was much excitement in the kingdom as the people waited with bated breath to see who was destined to be their next kingpin one home, the boy and his parents were almost heartbroken when after days of intense care, the seed failed to sprout. He did not know what had gone wrong with his. He had selected the soil carefully, he had applied the right quantity and type of fertilizer, he had been very dutiful in watering it at the right intervals, he had even prayed over it day and night and yet his seed had turned out to be unproductive.

Some of his friends advised him to go and buy a seed from the market and plant that. "After all," they said, "how can anyone tell one seed of corn from another?" But his parents who had always taught him the value of integrity reminded him that, if the king wanted them to plant any corn, he would have asked them to go for their own seed. "If you take anything different from what the king gave you that would be dishonesty. Maybe we are not destined for the throne. If so, let it be but don't be found to have deceived the king," they told him.

The D-Day came, and the boys returned to the palace each of them proudly exhibiting a very fine corn seedling. It was obvious that the other nine boys had had great success with their seeds. The king began making his way down the line of eager boys and asked each of them "Is this came out of the seed I gave you?" And each boy responded, "Yes, your majesty." And the king would nod and move down the line. The king finally got to the last boy in the line-up. The boy was shaking with fear. He knew that the king was going to have him thrown into prison for wasting his seed.

"What did you do with the seed I gave you?" the king asked."I planted it and cared for it diligently, your majesty, but alas it failed to sprout." the boy said tearfully, as the crowd booed him. But the king raised his hands and signaled for silence. Then he said, "My people behold your next king." The people were confused. "Why that one?" many asked. "How can he be the right choice?" The king took his place on his throne with the boy by his side and said, "I gave these boys boiled seeds. This test was not for cultivating corn. It was the test of character; a test of integrity. It was the ultimate test. If a king must have one quality, it must be that he should be above dishonesty. Only this boy passed the test. A boiled seed cannot sprout." ”

The single most important quality you can ever develop that will enhance every part of your life is the value of integrity. Integrity is the core quality of a successful and happy life. Having integrity means being totally honest and truthful in every part of your life. By making the commitment to become a totally honest person, you will be doing more to ensure your success and happiness in life than anything else you can ever do.I mean that in every sense of it!

Will you stand up to be counted with men of integrity?

I have 4 more principles to share with you. Can I ask you to be patient until my next post…..?

Till then, keep on winning.
You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!