What do we Value

I am more motivated by impact than money

–  Matt Mullenweg, founder WordPress

I once told someone that Matt perfectly expressed my view in the above statement but the guy said it was a deceptive statement which cannot be true. To him all that matters is money. He didn’t get it, what the hell was impact when money was the ultimate goal.

Another encounter. I was chatting with a friend and he told me he wants his State, a State in the Nigerian Niger Delta, to be split thereby creating a new one. I told him that was ludicrous, and that 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory was already too much for Nigeria. I would rather recommend we revert to a 12 State country. I told him people were suffering, States cannot fund themselves, the more States we have the more money that is expended on overhead such as maintaining the various arms of government, salaries and allowances for the Governor, his deputy, members of the state House of Assembly, special advisers, vehicles, and so on. He disagreed and said more States would mean more Governors and Legislators but that is a good thing as it would mean more people are close to or related to someone in power and the “national cake” would flow to them.

Seriously, who was the first to use that word “national cake”, that person should be thrown in jail now or a jail built over his or her grave. Where is the national cake? What does Nigeria produce that we have a national cake? I see why we have “national knives” for having our chunk of the cake at any given opportunity.

These a just 2 people but Nigeria is where it is today because of these kinds of thinking. The main issue we have as a country is our value system.

If what I value is to hold public office then use the collective wealth of the people to purchase exotic cars and stash millions of Naira in them in my compound, then surely we have a misplaced value system.

We need to understand that bank notes on their own holds no value. Money is in exchange for value and the more it is circulated the more value it generates. If I keep 27 million Naira in a Hummer in my garage for 5 years; have I created any value? Worse still if the money is meant for public good and I effectively steal it by removing it from circulation – truncating the value creating process – and stashing it in my house, it has become as valuable as termite food.

With a misplaced value system that scorns creativity and worships kleptocracy we cannot be surprised that Nigeria as a country is currently facing economic difficulties. An economy is a measure of the vale that a nation creates. How much value do we create as a nation? What is the state of our manufacturing, agriculture, service delivery, and education?

A country’s level of manufacturing activity is directly related to its economic health. Generally, the higher the level of manufacturing activity in a country, the higher the standard of living of its people.
S. Kalpakjian and S. R. Schmid (2014), Manufacturing Engineering and Technology (4th ed.) Pearson, Pp. 22.

We have found ourselves in this situation because our value creation is almost zero. I am tempted to say our value creation is even negative as we specialise in removing value from the system however, that would be a disservice to the few factories that still keep their lights on in the country.

Where we place our value depends on how we choose to be wired; we are at loss when it comes to placing our value hence we place them on the wrong things. Take a cab driver for instance, he picks up 6 passengers, when the car was designed for 4 – 4 at the back and 2 sharing the front seat, rather than 3 at the back and 1 in front. He loads up his trunk till the care is almost touching the ground. What he sees is the extra money he would make from overloading his vehicle not the shortened lifespan of the vehicle or the discomfort and worse still the compromised safety of his passengers. Our misplaced value is not an issue with the political or ruling class but cuts across the society. We value instant gratification above all else. We cannot see beyond the money that is on the table today. If money is so so valuable why not stack it on a dinner plate and fork it down your throat?

Why would you need 19 billion Naira in your account? If you earned it, I greatly respect that; it is the trophy for the value you have created, but if you stole it …, wow, how miserable you are showing off a lack of proper sense for value.

When you steal from the society, people lose their jobs, schools are substandard, hospitals are lacking, roads are in a terrible state all because you choose to remove value from the system in fulfilment of your momentary pleasure. The societal vices that results definitely comes around to affect you: think robbery, prostitution, kidnapping to name a few.

Nigeria today has an unworkable economic model. Most States just wait for the monthly federal government allocation from the sales of oil then tax people we haven’t provided for in the name of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), then we take that money to fund a bloated government and ineffective civil service of cause after leakages by way of corruption. With the crash in oil price we are unable to fund the country. What do we expect with no value creation? We sell crude and buy refined products, we sell agricultural produce and buy them back in processed form; paying other countries for the value they have added to our produce.

Where was MTN in the day of NITEL, with the Nigerian market alone NITEL was the largest telecommunications company in Africa. While MTN today repatriates billions of dollars back to South Africa from around the world, NITEL and its various incarnation are dead thanks to corruption, nepotism, and inefficiencies.

In the late 90’s all I heard on the news was the woes of the Asian economy. However, they have put themselves together not with oil but by developing their manufacturing capabilities and today we see the results with Samsung, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and so on dominating our homes, pockets, and roads. It has become increasingly difficult to name something that doesn’t have a component or two made in China. Sleeping and waiting for oil allocations will not get us there. We need to rethink our value system, develop our education, build and finance our manufacturing capacity.

If rather than stash banknotes in large water tanks in our homes or spend 600 million Naira trying to win the nomination of a political party, we put down money to fund an entrepreneurial effort, we will be doing more good to ourselves and the country at large. We will be putting food on the table of families, creating far reaching impact, taking crime off the streets, and building a more valuable society for today and generations to come.

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