The last time a piece, “written by me”, was published on this blog was on the 15th of November 2021. I loved writing that piece and I could tell from data and direct feedback that many enjoyed reading it. I promised myself to write more often; “at least weekly”, but I fall short with balance and I am really trying to get that part of my life right.
I say balance because in November 2021, I took up a very demanding role as Head of Marketing, Brand and Corporate Comms for a new fintech startup and I let my very nature of over performing take over, by doing every and any job that is within and above my JD. This meant that I became invested in every fibre of the business – it had to succeed because success and results are the drugs I ride on. My very good friend whom I’ll call Mr. T says;
“Elsie, you are an ideal startup hire but founders in Nigeria (whom I have interacted with extensively) do not deserve your kind of drive and service. You need to learn to be selfish and stick to your JD, except you are being paid to become the COO or you have a large share in the business (not miserly share options). You are too active.”
Dang! I am still letting his words sink because coming from someone who has over 20 years experience in the corporate world and works for one of the top 5 global brands, he is a mentor and a dear friend.
With my over a decade evolving experience in Media, Marketing, Communications and Branding, I know that marketing is a major component of any new and existing businesses and it goes beyond “here is the product, go and sell it.”. It’s an all encompassing arm of a business and to manage it right, the marketing department is one that should directly or indirectly guide product and operations because at the end of it all, it’s about the customers, what they need and how these needs are met, how the product make them feel and how involved you let them be in the decision making process, of course, not taking your eyes off the focus – business and brand objectives.
Well, this post is not supposed to be about Marketing so I will just say I had to let that role go. I (and my network) are proud of the work that I did for the brand, experience added, lessons learned and I am back here – writing. However, I need help to find balance even in whatever my next adventure will be. My baby should not suffer. So if you can help me, do reach out. Lol
Stingy Vs Economical
Yesterday, a video surfaced on social media of the controversial Father Ejike Mbaka saying the former Governor of Anambra state and Labor party presidential flag bearer for the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, is a stingy man and cannot be Nigeria’s president. According to reports, Mr. Mbaka during his weekly Wednesday ministration service said Peter Obi would not be president of Nigeria in 2023 because he is a stingy man who does not give money to people.
In the words of Mr. Mbaka – “This hunger that is disturbing people and you said you want him, a stingy man that cannot give people his money. You want to die of hunger? Are you people mad? Where is the Holy Spirit?”. He went on to say that the flagship bearer of the People’s democratic party (PDP) is now serious about his candidacy now that he is running for the office of the Presidency without Peter Obi as his Vice.
The statement by the so-called cleric has understandably sparked reactions on media platforms, even I had to discuss this yesterday on Television as I wore one of my many hats as Co-host on WAYS Show (Showing on DSTV CH 408/Startime CH 308).
Many are speculating that Mbaka’s comments were due to his inability to secure monetary donations for his parish. Whether true or false, all I saw from the father Mbaka’s resurfaced video from 2019 is a man who has mastered the art of coercing his congregants for money in the name of “what are you giving to God?”, but I digress.
What does it mean to be Stingy?
The dictionary meaning of stingy is to be reluctant to give or spend. Not being generous and in an extreme case – penurious.
The dictionary meaning of economical with respect to a person’s lifestyle is being careful not to waste money or resources or using no more of something than is necessary.
Being stingy is when your economic decisions affect your own personal lifestyle or that of your family, negatively. Standing by your principles is not being stingy. Wanting accountability is not stingy. Demanding value for your money is not stingy. Buying a $220 (Tax inclusive) suit rather than splurging $3,985 on a suit because you would rather donate the difference to a notable cause is not stingy. Living on a budget based on your income in not being stingy. Saving for retirement is not being stingy. Never doing anything for fun because you are saving for retirement is stingy. Sharing and spending public funds lavishly is not generosity. Bribery and corruption is not generosity. Cutting down the large cost of governance is not stingy.
Whatever Mr. Mbaka’s reasons may be, “stingy” is a very serious allegation towards somebody. In what context is stinginess being used to qualify the person of Mr. Peter Obi? Beyond the person of Mr. Obi, how do we as people, come to the conclusion that a person is stingy without reeking of entitlement, greed and criminal tendencies?
In retrospect, I have used this word to describe a few persons that I have briefly encountered in my over 3 decades of existence and I now wonder, with adulthood staring at me, if I have harshly judged people based on my assumption of their economic power and my own entitlement. As I strive to be better than the person I was yesterday, I am learning to not judge people. I know the value of money and the adverse effect of entitlement. As a Christian, I know that hard work is biblical as we say the famous prayer – “God bless the work of my hands”. I know that anyone who sits down, waiting to be handed generous donations they didn’t work for is a thief and should be avoided.
Are Nigerians ready for an economical leader?
Half of the time, humans do not know what they need with regard to advancement of living and culture hence the need for leadership. There is a fundamental problem in the way leaders are chosen in Nigeria or who many see as a leader. Leadership isn’t flamboyant. Generosity is one of the attributes of a good leader but not in the context many (abused minds due to corruption) use it.
Generosity in leadership refers to the ability of a leader to be generous with information, due credits and well-deserved compliments to empower workers and make progress. It is not about sharing public funds while moving around with 24 convoys funded by taxpayers money.
Leadership is about being a visionaire – recognizing opportunities, putting together an amazing team and being a team player as you manage the activities of great minds towards growth and sustainability. When there is a problem, beyond throwing money at them, a leader probes further to understand why the problem exists and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If being the President of Nigeria is about sharing money, then we don’t necessarily need an intelligent leader to do that.
Responding to this question reminds me of the feat of the Honourable Minister of works and Housing who was the Governor of Lagos state from May 2007 to May 2015, Babatunde Raji Fashola. The laws and policies passed during his time as Governor in order to bring some semblance of sanity to Lagos state. Case in point will be our disregard of traffic rules and regulations even down to decisions that could hurt us such as ‘wearing a seat belt.”.If you had asked Lagosians at the time if they needed to wear a seat belt while driving, they would tell you it is absolutely unnecessary. I remember the remarks and jokes made because of these laws at the time. We likened the use of seat belts to us being forced to have a leash on our necks while driving. We labelled him a dictator as we in anguish, adjusted to using seat belts while driving. It’s almost a decade and it’s now part of our culture. As Nigerians, we know we want a better country. I mean, give us what we had in the 80s with regard to exchange rate and community planning and we might be very thankful. The retrogression is visible to the blind and loud to the deaf.
In June 2020, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as reported by PremiumTimes, said that Nigeria runs a large, expensive government. For a country with one of the highest costs of governance, we should move beyond acknowledging and identifying our problem to seeking working solutions.
According to the Vice President while speaking on the issues around high cost of governance in Nigeria, “There is no question that we are dealing with large and expensive government, but as you know, given the current constitutional structure, those who would have to vote to reduce (the size of) government, especially to become part-time legislators, are the very legislators themselves. So I think there is a need for a national debate on this question and there is a need for us to ensure that we are not wasting the kind of resources that we ought to use for development on overheads. At the moment, our overheads are almost 70 per cent of revenues, so there is no question at all that we must reduce the size of government.”
The above also makes it clear that reducing the cost of Governance is not a job only for the Presidency. The senate of Nigeria has a larger role to play in having a better Nigeria. So I will end this post by asking, who is the candidate representing you in the Senate and House of representatives? What laws and policies are they promising to push on the floor? What is their agenda? Do you even know them?
We must go beyond party politics and begin to seek out the preferred candidates, regardless of what party they belong to and vote for the structure of governance we seek. You can eat corn all you want and sit with the less privileged for photo ops, it’s fine. But please, what are you bringing to the table?