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“The Rich is Quiet and the Poor Cry”

February 1st, 2018…. Imagine that we already have <11 months left in the New Year. How time flies right? Incredible stuff…. Hehehehe….

Absolutely no thanks to Lagos State Government as we enter the new month with immediate hike in toll-gate charge (i.e. both Lekki toll and Ikoyi toll link bridge). You will recall (if you are resident in Lagos) just last year, LCC (owners of Lekki Toll) attempted to increase toll gate charge but Nigerians stepped forward, protested and quickly took the case to court. So I am guessing the case just sat there in court futilely until it magically resurfaced and owners of both tolls brought forward weak justifications for the current increase in toll. It just breaks my heart when people (especially decision makers) who are fortunate to be given power make decisions based on simple selfish desires. It gets me really upset. Why you may ask? Because the ‘’masses’’ (often referred to as the poor) whose voice is rarely ever heard suffers it, hundredfold.

So yesterday (February 1st), I took the usual Lekki toll and all of a sudden I was welcomed with N250 toll fee (for SUVs) which was previously N150? What’s even worse, today (February 2nd) I took the Ikoyi link bridge for a meeting and I was also greeted with a N400 toll fee (again for SUVs) which was previously N250. Like what happened overnight? Who does that? How can the so-called “caring” government (i.e. both Lagos State Government & Federal Government) permit this atrocity? I mean it’s simply ridiculous. The average toll charge across different vehicles types just increased astronomically by 50% overnight and it was allowed? Keep in mind income for most Nigerians (i.e. for those still employed given that Nigeria’s unemployment rate increased  from 14.2% to 18.8%; Source: The Vanguard) has remained constant for the last 3-4 years if not more (e.g. my income has remained constant since 2014 but inflation has jumped from single-digit of <9% to double-digit of ~15.8%; Source: Trading Economics).

This is totally unacceptable. Sadly, Nigerians in its very cowardly manner has slowly and willingly accepted this selfish act. The ripple effect of this toll charge increase for both Lekki and Ikoyi-link bridge will only worsen the already unacceptable poverty level in Nigeria. Every business that utilize this toll (which is the majority in Nigeria) will leverage on this price increase which will only make the already high cost of doing business in the country even much higher. It saddens my heart that the poor will suffer this even more. Yet no one – and I mean no one will speak even on their behalf. Why?

What justification does the shareholders/owners of the toll road have for the sudden and astronomical increase in toll charges? Don’t Nigerians have a right to this very unique and hidden detail that led to this unilateral decision to increase the charge? Why isn’t the poor ever considered before harsh and selfish decisions by the ‘’rich’’ are made? Why? Why? Why? Why can’t a fair and transparent review of both toll road’s cost and profitability analysis complete with justification for a ‘reasonable price’ increase (if at all needed) shared with the public. This would have at the least positioned the Government as viewing interest of Nigerians as priority. Yet again, knowledge will give you power but character will give you respect. Nigerians have been over equipped with power which is very often abused but severely lack character and respect!!!!

This is simply unfair. This is also what makes developed economies so distinct from emerging markets. In a developed market (like US or Europe), such a selfish decision would have been taken to the highest level of jurisdiction and a fair verdict will be announced which will favor the poor while also protecting interest of investors. But ‘’the law’’ in Nigeria remains non-functional because there is a ‘price tag’ for everyone.

Each Nigerian is responsible for themselves and their neighbor. One voice will create unity. This is all we need to succeed and mirror the success of developed markets. To remain quiet and instead allow people in power make decisions for us will only bring us closer to poverty. Thus, moving us in the wrong direction. Speak up! Speak out! Speak loud! Speak now!

Other Sources:

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/12/nigerias-unemployment-rate-rises-14-2-18-8/

https://tradingeconomics.com/nigeria/inflation-cpi

Source: https://instagram.com/p/Beqq298hqkH/

Goodbye 2017….. Hello 2018…

Its December 2017…. Christmas is here, just like that. My favorite holiday and especially that of my kids too.

Reflecting back at the year 2017, I am smiling from chin-to-chin or should I say face-to-face. In 2017, I took enormous risk in almost every aspect of my life. This year, I walked by FAITH and not by SIGHT.

Prior to the beginning of a New Year, I always have a list of things that I plan to achieve in the upcoming – New Year. In the 2017 list, I stretched myself and my FAITH in God. So, few nights ago I was reading my journal on my “2017 to-do-list” (written sometime in November/December 2016) and I screamed out loud as I achieved close to 95% of my 2017 set target/goals. Now, don’t get me wrong…. This took enormous hard work and sacrifice. Lots of “no sleep”…. “no personal life”…. “minimal time spent with my family”…..etc etc etc. But I have absolutely no regrets. The year – 2017 was all about building my future – my career and ultimately my personal brand.

On December 15th, 2017 – I took my last exams in the Imperial College Global Online MBA program. I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to be enrolled in such a prestigious academic institution. It’s amazing how just a little FAITH can propel you into greater heights in life. In just a few weeks, I will commence my 2nd/Final year in Business School and I have almost concluded my ‘’2018 stretched’’ goals for the New Year. I am taking electives that will take me out of my comfort zone and stretch my mind beyond any form of limits. I am so excited about the New Year…… 2017 was an amazing year BUT, I tell you 2018 will be the year to top-up all years and it just gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

To my family and friends who has remained supportive in my quest to building a strong career and personal brand – THANK YOU. To my amazing kids especially, you both inspire me to push boundaries and keep stretching until I reach and acquire. I love you both so much with all of my heart.

To the creator of the universe – GOD, thank you for your GRACE as it has been more than sufficient for me to move all the way.

Watch this space for more to come in 2018……… (I promise to post more often in 2018)..

Merry Christmas and see you in the New Year.

THE SINKING CITY

There has pretty much been non-stop rain in Lagos for the past 7-days. However, in the last 2-3 days the rain has been very intense. Lagos has been experiencing rain leading to heavy flood on roads, homes and loss of items. Thankful, there hasn’t been any loss of lives so far and my prayer is that it remains that way… Amen.

Coupled with the terrible flood, in my area we haven’t had light for more than 2-weeks or so. Thankful we spend most times out of the house (because of work and school for the kids), but weekends when the kids want to watch TV, we turn on the generator which charges the inverter to keep light on. Of course after a couple of hours the inverter dies again and the cycle continues.

My family and I has been home all weekend because our street is so flooded that even my car (which is an SUV) can’t make it through the flooded road. All through yesterday – July 8yh, (the only vehicle that passed our street due to the bad flood was a lorry carrying waste which eventually stopped in the middle of the road and was unable to reach its final destination).

I know longer cook meals to leave in my freezer as the lack of light spoils it all which is a waste of money! We are slowly running out of food at home and I’m praying the rain stops before our food is totally exhausted!!!! I’m sure many homes in the area will be experiencing this disaster.

A lot of businesses probably didn’t open today as either staff couldn’t make it or customers couldn’t make it. Either or led to loss of revenue. But still at the end of the day OPEX must be paid…. Inflation chokes you as everything is so expensive!!!!!!!

My deep concern is “WHERE IS THE GOVERNMENT”? Like seriously what’s going on? Lagos Island is sitting on a time bomb which is an imminent flood of some sort. It has no functional drainage or better still its totally non-existent. Any rain on the island will lead to flood!!!

All the taxes we pay what’s the use of funds? Nigeria needs severe accountability and transparency in its uses of the nation’s taxes. A country where poverty exceeds wealth due to corruption and selfish desire is a major cause for scream at this stage and not alert. Sadly, ignorance may just play in here as complains continue to fall onto deaf ears. After the raining season is over, nothing is done and next year we meet the same incident.

Is government so ignorant? Can government just do its work? Even if you do actually decide to use the funds to fix roads and provide power etc, there will still be plenty for selfish desires!!!!….. Let the masses just have better quality of life, please…. I’m crying out loud here!!!

Do we wait until one day a heavy flood sinks the whole city? How long can we continue like this? Lagos Island is sinking slowly. This is a matter of NATIONAL EMERGENCY!!!!!!

I really hope this article gets to someone in government. Nigerians are ready to commit to real change… let’s just do it and quit talking!!!!

Pictures below were taken on July 8th across several places in VI/Lekki axis. No photo shop done!

Leave a comment below and circulate the blog. Thanks…

PUSH BOUNDARIES IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Nigeria, my country for which I am so proud. But the basic necessities of life which can be so easily put in place has been totally ignored. Its so painful to see the poor suffer seemingly easy necessities of life because someone decided to be greedy and ignore responsibilities for which they have been given. Now let me break it down for you!

First and foremost, I am extremely passionate about infrastructure growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole (especially developing economies). Why you may ask? Because infrastructure to me has a direct relationship to the quality of life. Yes… its just that simple. Why is it that the average life span in Nigeria is somewhere below 40-45years? Why is it that the Ameircan or European man/woman can live until 60, 70, 80 or even 100years old? Its all linked to the quality of life. I don’t know about you but my vision for Nigeria is a country that just works. It just has to work. It has no other choice but to work! A country where during rainy seasons I don’t have to fear that I would need a boat or yatch to leave my house. That’s my vision.

Let me give you an example (you should notice by now that I love giving examples as its all ‘’real life’’). During rainy season, my street looks like an ocean. Oh yes… its so bad that just yesterday it rained heavily and my daugther had to make her hair. Now, my salon is just infront of my house. No more than a 30-seconds walk. But guess what? Because of the heavy rain which led to incredible flood where people can actually drown and where cars stopped in the flood; I had to drive my daughter to the salon. Yes you heard right, drive and not take the 30-seconds walk. The salon which I earlier mentioned is across my house and just only a 30-seconds walk (or less). I didn’t only feel stupid doing this but I felt so angry and upset.

Let me give you another example, just over the weekend, my daughter’s lesson teacher arrived for tutorial sesion. Not only was he so upset, he was soaked and shivering. Why? I didn’t realise how bad the road was due to the heavy flood that he had to transport himself in the flooded road to my house for her tutorial. I felt really bad when I saw him. However, I admired and commended his dedication to his work that despite the rain and flood, he still made it for the tutorial. We agreed, that anytime there is such rain we will reschedule the tutorial as its just meaningless to enter the flood for lessons.

Let me give you one more example, for the past 3-days we have had no light! Oh yes… when PHCN managed to give us light, it was extremely low current that could barely carry most of the lights at home (of course the light didn’t carry any of the ACs or other home appliances). The light is so poor that the pathetic light PHCN provided totally destroyed my husband’s phone along with a few other appliances at home. What a shame!

Now, why I’m I saying this as you’re probably saying to yourself we know all this or we have or still witnessing even worse. Now truth is, we ALL as citizens must collectively work to ensure that Nigeria enjoys the basic neccsisties of life. This task is not left only to the Presidents or Minsters etc. We must all join hands to make things happens the way we want it.  It starts by paying your electriity bills. If you don’t have an electric meter at home – GO AND GET ONE IT IS FREE! The challeneges and deficit in the power sector interestingly enough starts with the consumers – that’s you and I. If we don’t pay our bills, the DISCOs suffer the losses. If the DISCOs suffer losses, they are unable to meet obligations due to other parts of the value chain (i.e. GENCOs and GASCOs). So again, we all need to just pay our bills and try to curb the losses.

I must commend the Federal Government (FG) in its recent effort to address the power challeneges in Nigeria. If you are yet to read the Power Sector Reform Program (PSRP) desgined by The World Bank Group, please do as it carries in it a lot of hope for the Nigeria power sector (of course if fully implemented and supported by the FG). So what I’m I saying here… pay your bills!!!!… If you are getting electricity and not paying your bills, please stop it, own up and pay. If you are engaged in electricity theft or have previous unpaid electricity bills – stop it!!!!… If you leave in a community where you are asked to contribute towards the rehabilitation of your road (and its legitimate) please do to ensure you and yoru community enjoy better roads.

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when during rainy season which leads to terrible flood, you see people literally swimming through the flood to get to their destination. Its so painful. All that mental and physical stress contributes to the poor quality of life which leads to stress and sadly death at an early age. So join me as we stand together to make Nigeria better by been more collaborative and supportive citizens.

Let me highlight here, while there are other infrastructure problems faced in Nigeria (such as clean water, good hospitals, education etc) that I didn’t touch, they are also equally important.

The pictures below are horrific but depicts some of the areas across the country suffered by citizens – all of which leads to poor quality of life! Thank you for reading and don’t forget to leave a comment.

 

 

HALF-YEAR 2017……. WHERE ARE YOU?

Unbelievable! It’s already June 30th, 2017? How time flies, right? Seems like yesterday I was celebrating the NewYear-2017, preparing to attend induction week in London, writing FMA & OB exams, starting Strategy and Corporate Finance, etc etc. And just like that…. Friday June 30th, 2017 marks the end of half-year 2017…. I don’t know about you but I am so excited. As I look back at the last 181-days in 2017, I can’t help but ask myself – “Omon where are you?”…. This is a question that kept pondering inside my head for the last days leading into the 181st day of the year, 2017 (“today”). I found it quite difficult to answer up until June 28th, 2017 when I attended Day 1 of the Accelerate 2017 conference organized by The Elevation Church. This is a day I will never forget. Let me share my experience with you…..

Dr. Mensa Otabil (it was my first time hearing of him but trust me I’ve watched a number of his talks since then) gave an empowering talk on the subject “WHERE ARE YOU?” The message was eloquently delivered and left me thinking of no other but myself!

Dr. Otabil, his description of life is that – Life occurs both in “Stages” and “Seasons or Cycles”.

The stages of life” is better understood if split into three parts:

  • Children and Young people – who are continuously learning
  • Adults – who are living and exploiting life
  • Elders – who aim to leave a legacy and also empower people

The seasons or cycles of life” is better understood in several parts:

  • Seedtime – time of making sacrifices, investing, digging deep, doing things that will make you achieve your goals
  • Harvest – the time to bear fruits, growth period, reaping your rewards, it’s the joyful outcome of seedtime
  • Cold/Winter – time of dryness, loneliness, rejection, where everything seems like it’s going wrong when actually it’s the opposite, it’s just that God is preparing you for your own “harvest”
  • Summer/Heat – time of warmth, joy, when everything is going just right and bright
  • Night – time of darkness, not been noticed, you are working so hard but no one is seeing you, here you are simply incubating a ‘dream’
  • Day – time of light, exposure, recognition, people now notice and appreciate you, rewards keep coming, you are been celebrated but be aware of target enemies who will envy you

At every point in time in your life, you are either exiting, entering or existing in a particular season within a certain stage in life. You must understand the stage and season you are, enjoy it and just appreciate it. The truth is no stage or season in life is a disadvantage or a curse. You are there because God wants you to be there. So don’t be upset, angry, depressed or sad that the season you are in isn’t where you want to be. In due ‘season’ you will cross over to favored seasons of life – day, harvest or summer.

Dr. Mensa further explained that sometimes what may appear to be logical isn’t spiritual. Sometimes where God wants you to stay is a command of his blessing. So be alert that wrong actions and response to seasons of life (especially those you may not favor) can destroy what God has in store for you! I have grown to learn that the struggles of life mostly results from the ignorance of the seasons of life. Asking for reward when you are in the wrong season can be detrimental. The truth is when you are not in a season of harvest, harvest becomes a temptation!

One thing I took away from this message (amongst many others) is that when you are about to shift seasons, things get really tense and is at its highest peak. These are the times when the struggle seems so severe that you just want to give up or try to control the “seasons of life”.

So I am here to tell you, do not curse the season you are currently in. Better still, celebrate it. Like the weather, no season is permanent. The weather will always change and so will the stages and seasons of life. Everybody’s season of acceleration greatly differs. So don’t envy someone else who may be in a season of harvest or summer. Enjoy your seedtime or night time and prepare for your own harvest. Truth is you will not always be where you are even if right now it seems so permanent.

Watch the full video of Dr. Mensa’s talk here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbjdVexiEpE

So again, let me ask my earlier question – “WHERE ARE YOU?”

TERM 1 – This Is Just The Beginning….

BEGINNING – Its 3:30pm in Lagos, Nigeria on Friday April 21st, 2017. Pens down and it’s all over. About 102 days of preparation to this very day. Several days mixed heavily with fear, some tears, confusion, uncertainty, late nights, numerous nights spent in the library, juggling different time zones to meet syndicate meetings for group projects, adjusting to school-work-personal-life after obtaining my MSc about 12-years ago, prayers, dreams, aspirations, motivation, struggling to obtain FX from banks to meet tuition payments, etc. Examinations are over. Yes, I made it through the first semester of Financial & Management Accounting and Organizational Behavior. Two courses that I had never taken in my life. It wasn’t easy but through it all my faith strengthened and I was surer than ever that the Global Online MBA program at Imperial College London Business School was the right choice.

IT’S DONE – I was excited that I made it through the first term and my assurance that attending Business School was the right choice! I give God the glory because many times there were those inside voices in my head, mind and heart that created such good reasons why the MBA program was a big mistake. But truth is once you pray about something before you embark on it, there is this way God assures you in the mix of all the confusion and fear that you are indeed making the right decision.

AUTHENTIC – I am as real as you see me. It hasn’t been easy. In fact it has been damn too hard. The non-supportive exchange rate in Nigeria has made sourcing for FOREX very challenging. A majority of my monthly income is ploughed towards tuition payments. Yes you can say that again – It’s not a joke at all!!!…. But I have no regrets. It is a short-term sacrifice that will yield a long-term favorable result. No pain no gain right???? Hmmmm….

LONDON – Such a vibrant city with happy people and great food. It was my first time in more than two decades visiting the city. I arrived January 8th, 2017 to attend the mandatory one week MBA induction program. My arrival date – January 8th, 2017 was my wedding anniversary. On January 9th, 2017 we commenced the induction program – the day my daughter started Reception 2 at her new school. Yes, I missed two important days – my wedding anniversary and my daughter’s first day at her new school. However, I wasn’t sad because I believed the sacrifice I was making in developing myself will reap great rewards. Thankful for superb technology, my ever supportive mother shared pictures and videos of my daughter at her new school on her first day. My presentation on the first day of induction week was connected to my precious daughter. So even if we were far away, with receipt of the pictures and videos I felt so close to her. This is how love really feels…

FAMILY – I have the best family in the whole wide world. They have loved me, preserved and supported me through these past couple of months. They remained my bed-rock. During the many nights I spent in the library preparing for examinations – my fantastic mother (Ann), ever supportive husband (Bayode) and coolest kid sister ever (Omonye) watch my fabulous kids. So my kids didn’t really miss my absence while I was in the library preparing for my examinations.

WAITING – I am excited to see my grades in the next few weeks because it will be a testimony. A testimony I will gladly share with you – yes you reading my blog today!

DREAM – Never ever give up in what you believe. Dreams are free and Dreams become reality with the right formula – faith + hardwork. Miracles happens every day. It is my dream to work for a company that uniquely combines these key areas – fight against reducing poverty, distinct organisation structure and great culture. I will also like to start a Non-Profit Organization. Right now it seems like an enormous road ahead – but with faith and hardwork backed by an MBA degree from Imperial College; I’m pretty sure employers will be delighted to have me as an employee…. Hehehehhehehehe….

One last thing – I am not a writer. Infact I am a more quantitative person but something has moved me to start this blog. And I am happy I did. It’s kinda long overdue!

PRAYER – “The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not Protect you”.

Stay tuned for Term 2. I will be back to share my experience! Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment……