Month: May 2015

Letter to President Buhari


Mr. President from May 29th.
Mr. President from May 29th.

Dear President Buhari, how have the last few days been? Hope like the rest of the citizenry that you will be ruling for the next 4 years you have felt the discomfort of fuel scarcity & power outages. I hear you are away in England at the moment attending to matters abroad. I do hope for all our sakes that these matters concern the key issues you promised to address while you campaigned extensively across the nation.

At the moment a lot of us cannot wait for the 29th of May any longer, this has become such a concern owing to the near total system shut down by the outgoing administration as evidenced by the inactivity around state house, the lack of directive or statement from the administration regarding the current fuel scarcity and power failure. Mr. President, businesses are shutting down and daily livelihoods are being taken away because of this seemingly two pronged attack on the masses. The masses are truly the ones feeling this pain the most as a result of their meager income and their dependence on fuel and electricity to get them through the day. Not everyone can afford high capacity generators, inverters or solar panels, while efforts to get to our places of work are near impossible due to the increase in transport fare or the lack of enough means of transportation at the moment.

The people have asked questions Mr. President and the answers we have gotten haven’t been pretty. Oil marketers, oil transporters, the NNPC & co have decided to hold the country to ransom for one reason or the other; none payment of certain fees and costs, uncertainty about the incoming administration, sale of NNPC stake in certain assets, etc.  These reasons have not justified how a handful of people and organizations will cause the major nerve centers of this country to come to a near halt.

Banks are now working half days, Media houses can no longer function 24/7, airlines have stopped being fully operational, telecommunication companies have warned of shortages in diesel supply affecting optimal operations. Let’s not now talk about hospitals and industries that need constant power supply to function efficiently. Hospitals require stable power supply to keep certain people alive like babies in incubators and people on life support machines or patients undergoing kidney dialysis.

It is unbelievable how all this can be permitted to happen. In a country that is supposed to aim for constant improvements in processes and systems this is totally unacceptable. It has been accepted for a while that improving power generation in the country is a herculean task and will take a while to get right, this has seen most establishments, organizations, individuals and families rely on alternative power supply in order to get by and all those concerned have managed the situation despite the climbing cost, watching as the cost of living in a developing country goes up without any improvement in the standard of living.

I am not one to point an accusing finger at anyone when things go wrong but in this case I am forced to make an exception. I have for almost a decade watched NNPC conduct itself like an imperial house which most of the time answers to no one. For long periods since the inception of the 4th republic I have often wonder what exactly this parastatal has succeeded in accomplishing over the years; no working refineries, lack of foreign investment, no significant improvement in local content or human capacity, continued gas flaring and unabated oil theft throughout the years. Forget the ones I have just listed, skimming through dailies over the past 5 years will reveal even more incompetence and that is before you decide to cast your eyes on the recently released Price Waterhouse Cooper’s audit on the NNPC. One which wasn’t fully carried out but still showed a most appalling level of ineptitude and corruption. Mr. President, Nigeria has had four refineries for over 2 decades yet all of them have ceased to function for the past 16 years. These refineries are under the care of the NNPC and have gone through over half a dozen Turn Around Maintenance yet we still hear they are not functioning while Nigeria relies heavily on the importation of petroleum products to keep its economy afloat.

In many ways this is heart breaking and gut wrenching, when you read about it while realizing that these issues are still ongoing. The byproduct of these issues has led to the creation of a close knit group of oil marketers who themselves have become so emboldened and empowered that they are significantly responsible for the current situation in the country. Or how else did we start hearing the word Oil marketers if not for the obvious inability of the NNPC to first and foremost properly manage and operate its refineries and then secondly properly handle crude oil lifting processes.

The NNPC’s international counterparts are miles ahead of it in terms of autonomy, the practice of international business practices, brand recognition, foreign investments, efficiency and productivity. Yet the NNPC leadership has no qualms with where it finds itself today; lagging behind and highly compromised. This shows a clear lack of leadership or vision implementation because based on my experience with the NNPC it has a clear plan of where it wants to be in a matter of years though that has come into question considering how poorly it has been run.

During the Obasanjo years the BPE was part of those charged with looking into better ways of making the system which over saw the oil industry much more efficient. An Oil & Gas reform paper was produced which I was fortunate to get my hands because I spent my youth service years working in the Oil and Gas department of the Bureau of Public Enterprises. What I came across was a most interesting document which I prayed would be implemented. Unfortunately that is not the case as several interest groups and self serving individuals have made sure the NNPC stays as it is free of reform because their bread and butter is derived from its present state.

In my honest opinion the NNPC has to go, to be replaced by a semi autonomous Oil Company, one who’s objective will be to create and exploit opportunities for the Nigerian people and will be built on Efficiency, Sustainability, Accountability & Transparency. The wastage must stop.

It will no doubt be a daunting challenge to make this happen seeing as the people who currently benefit from the current status-quo have significant political power and will go to great lengths to ensure things stay the way they are. It doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Mr. President, it is difficult for me to see you as the Change we have been yearning for owing to the current make up of your political association; people who I consider opportunist and land grabbers populate your current party rank and yet I understand that yours is a marriage of necessity but it still will compromise a lot of your earnest efforts at trying to clean up the system. It still does not mean you shouldn’t do anything. There is significant ground work to be done, ground work that can be helpful to subsequent administrations.

Seeing as oil marketers have decided to hold the country to ransom along with NNPC staff members despite knowing how vital the work they do is to the overall economy of the Country it is imperative the Presidency creates a parallel and unregulated market, purely funded by cooperative and/ or pension funds, one which can begin to exploit available resources such as the stretch of land along the Ondo state coastline or simply personally overseeing a proper Turn Around Maintenance of all refineries and restoring them back to peak performance levels. The challenges in undertaking these tasks are daunting considering the kind of opposition you are certain to face which is why the need for true transparency and accountability cannot be overstated. Once the intention of the task at hand is clear to all and proper information is presented to the public in the right way and at the right time, detractors will be left powerless and without a choice but to fall in line.

The power situation is one which I would love to comment extensively on but not properly versed on to delve into, despite that I know enough to say that there is much work that needs to be done in this sector and the future of our nation depends on how well you do in this regards. I wish you a fruitful and fulfilling 4 years in office sir and hope that challenges will not dampen your spirits for they will surely try to. May you live long Mr. President, Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. May the struggles of our heroes past never be in vain. God bless.

Frozen


So the Anthology Project hasn’t happened as planned. Instead LIFE is happening all around me. One of my key projects is finally taken shape and is very much on track so far causing me to really focus all my time and effort on it. It’s been interesting and exciting to say the least and I want to share a bit of it here.

It is not an artistic project to be honest, rather it’s business; a City delivery and errand service within Abuja and the response so far has been more than encouraging. Everything I have learned over the years of working a regular 9-5 has been applied in this new endeavor called THE MESSENGERS. So as part of an interesting way to keep the creative juices flowing, I wrote my first copy. I don’t know if I’ll ever use it or use it soon enough before I have to write a new one but, I’ll like to share it with you guys since I seem to share a lot with you any way.

In case you have no idea what copy writing is defined by the copy writing blogger as:  Copywriting is one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. The art and science of direct-response copywriting involves strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.

and here’s what I wrote:

In this fast paced age of hyper activity (if I am permitted to ascribe that to the Nigerian socio-economic sphere) daily activities are usually compartmentalized into new layers of priorities while leaving the real issues at the top of the pile. Secondary matters become rudimentary and wishfully avoidable even if we see ourselves as unable to; we want to pick up the laundry but between the weekly reports and candy crush you just can’t seem to make out the time. Facebook, twitter and instagram have us so plugged in the average user hardly realizes his productivity has dropped considerably during the regular working hours, yet things must be done, bread must be made and the streets will always ring to a hustler’s tune.

I hold no gavel of judgment or no scale of right & wrong in this matter because it is ultimately society’s natural progression, the general shift towards that which we yearn and want (the need always comes first) hence the spaces and opportunities have started to open up. People like The messengers are more than glad to take away a bit of that responsibility, to free you up of a few secondary priorities while you manage to balance the real world with the one online (if that’s your poison).

Why should we mess with the natural order of things; of course we would most likely want to help keep the necessary occurring. Got laundry to pick up? The messenger will gladly do that for you. Got a deadline at work and still have to order lunch for the weekly meeting? We will gladly oblige you. Got so much gossip to catch up on during lunch time and still need to eat lunch? Why don’t we let you get right to it while we pick up your meals at your favorite restaurant?

Our intention is to do all this and more, all you have to do is pick up a phone and dial our number (we are sorry it isn’t toll free).

We’ll do it in an impressive amount of time and gladly exceed your expectations.

Besides that I got a very interesting proposition; to write a book. It’s such a serious proposition I have practically outlined the books structure and breakdown but then I’ve frozen again. I’m trying to figure out what angle to take this new project and I’m drawing blanks.

Don’t panic if you don’t hear from me for 2/3 months.