Friday, July 27, 2007

Private Sector, Public Mind

There is nothing more painful than watching a sanctimonious press, hound a viable solution out of the public space. In most parts of the world especially in the UK this is accomplished through the support of self serving elite who jealously rip away at any other persons good fortune like a pack of hyenas, along with their co travellers from the backward looking trade unions trapped in pursuit of a socialist nirvana and the pandering political rent seekers dressed as protectors of the masses. You can see their dynamics at work in all the din and hysteria of the Private Equity Fund vilification that has been passed off as debate in the past few months. This is no consolation to Mr Blair whose use of the same devastating mob as his political Calvary for quite a while served him well until he `Iraqed’.

Here in Nigeria or Lagos where I am, the same unproductive forces have ground the Blue Star Oil consortium that bought the countries ever failing refineries into a retreat. The hysteria that greeted the last minute sale of this so called assets, the accompanying labour strikes that were used to intimidate the incoming Government and populist grandstanding of the legislature has made this a logical choice. This is the victory of severe underperformance, costly subsidies from government and gross inefficiencies over at least two if not three decades. Why should a private interest no matter how narrow be viewed with such suspicion in the face of overwhelming public intransigence? Why would the elite prefer a failing refinery capacity to the profit opportunities of a few favoured Nigerian businessmen? The only justifiable reason is the failure of the Private Sector to exercise its profit motive with a public mind.

Facilitating a public mind for private sector is part of our agenda in setting up an Institute or Centre in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria with overall commitment to start a revolution in paradigm, competencies and performance necessary to build private sector that is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Our goal is to combine indigenous wisdom with international skills to develop 100,000 vocationally skilled leaders, managers and facilitators in the formal and informal economy over 10 years. We believe this can add an additional 1 million new jobs over the same period. Both the formal and informal private sector represents the soul of a viable and competitive Nigeria. Government at its best is a vehicle for an inflexible, inefficient and unresponsive approach that rarely delivers value nor does ever give true account. However as things stand the Nigerian Private Sector is not really much better.

Take three examples; the telecoms network providers whose networks are nothing short of disastrous in the quality of their services and their accountability to their customers in spite of phenomenal profits. The banks who ride the wave of incredible reserves and investment towards a never ending diet of fund raising and organisational expansion in the face of embarrassing failure to invest in the SME’s that will drive the real growth in the economy. Finally Oil & Gas which has failed to develop an accompanying world-class retail and industrial capacity that will translate the sea of crude into the glitter of productivity.

The Nigerian Private Sector is the future, the engine room for productivity, growth and prosperity. Right now it is a bastion of easy money, short term focus, consumer rip off, little or no leadership and mediocre in comparison to world class competition. In spite of its addictions to MBAs and paper qualification it still exemplifies consumption over production. Our primary challenge is still build a private sector that provides the focus and leadership that will set standards that for our public space. I have some ideas on how we can do this. In part 2 to come..

End of Part 1

1 comment:

catwalq said...

Amazing post.

About Winfrey: that woman died in my heart when I moved to the US and saw that she caters to the tastes of her predominantly white audience whose general oncept of life does not go beyond what they see on TV.
I felt oddly nauseated by her actions in South Africa. Why did she not take the cameras through all the beautiful places that teh country had to offer? Then Brad Pitt wakes up and says he was inspired. And he and his wife are picking up coloured babies all over the world; turning namibia up side down.