Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Its the Year 2020! (Concluding Part)

All the fallow lands have been converted to food plantations, and our graduates now consider farming as a viable option when they graduate from college. Commercialized farming and other large scale businesses by the private sector is now the in-thing. Without knowing ‘anyone’ at the ministry, people can now get lands to farm or create industries. Gone are the days when ministers assigned all the choice lands to their mistresses.

My bosom friend who had been living in America came visiting the other day, and he was surprised that I had no fence around my house, and even the door to my main living room was just strong enough to keep the flies out. He told me I did not dare do this in New York where he lived, and I told him we had the Servant-Leader to thank for this.

Insecurity had become a thing of the past, and just yesterday, my wife’s senior brother’s friend’s cousin forgot her car keys in the door-lock at the busy Idumota market. On getting back to her parking spot, she met a young constable there who had kept a look after the car for her, and surprisingly refused the N10, 000 she offered him as a gift. And just the other day, I saw some bank vehicles transporting money, and not a police escort was in sight to be seen.

Need I mention that our graduates are now sought after all over the world? Several Nigerian universities now have satellite campuses in London, Washington and Paris, and we now outsource most of our menial day to day tasks to other countries. University professors are paid on time, and retirees get their gratuities even almost before retiring. All my son talks of these days is how he can get into the University of Ife to study Medicine, when just 10 years ago, all we thought of was how to get out of Nigeria.

Just the other day, we passed in front of the US Embassy in Nigeria, and there was a huge crowd. No, not of Nigerians seeking visas to go to the US, but of Americans who were refusing to go back home after their visas had expired. How things have changed.

Need I talk about the rule of law, we recently scrapped the Anti-Corruption agency, as we had run out of corrupt people to prosecute, and just in the recently concluded major elections across the country, less than an hour after the last polling center had closed, we already knew who the winners were. Gone were the days when electoral commissioners would go into hiding to preserve their conscience, and our electoral reforms have now become a commodity of export to other countries.

Ring! Ring! Ring! There goes my alarm clock! I have overslept again! I suddenly discover there is no light in our area, and I have not yet ironed the cloth I was to wear to the job interview this morning. There is no petrol in the generator, as my brother was unable to get any even after eight hours at the fuel station yesterday.

On my transistor radio, I hear the election in Elkiti has been ‘electorally reformed’ as usual, some senators are being sought by EFCC for stealing public funds, and on the bus to the Island for my interview, I lose my iPhone to the ‘One Chance’ folks. So much for Vision 2020 and the 7-Point Agenda!

Can I go back to sleep please?

Friday, May 8, 2009

It’s the year 2020! (Part 1)

I just woke up and it’s the first day of the year 2020. I am happy to be alive to see the reality of the vision our servant-leader president had over ten years ago.

The nay-sayers had a field day then and said it was not possible. They said we could not be one of the world’s 20 leading nations without any real planning, but our servant leader knew what he was doing, as he loaded his cabinet with visionaries who could turn water into wine.

In his first two years in office, his detractors compared his achievements to that of one small boy who became the American president then, and they joked that in two years, our servant leader had achieved less than what the small boy from Chicago had done in 100 days. What they never realized was that Servant-Leader was studying the huge problems we had (as if he had actually been living outside the country before then). The detractors failed to realize that slow and steady wins the race (after Fast & Consistent is long done!)

I remember how back then, Servant-Leader was not invited to the G-20 meetings, but surely now in 2020, we will do the invitation to the meetings of the G-10 nations.

In our neighborhood, we have had stable electricity for the last nine years, and my 8-year old daughter does not even know what it means to say ‘Up Nepa’! Now I do not have to rush to iron my clothes for the next two weeks as I used to do then. Servant-Leader declared an emergency in the power sector and it was as if God said ‘Let there be light, and there was light’!

These days if you see several cars at a petrol station, then they must be giving out free petrol, as fuelling up our several cars now actually costs less that N100, and the last time my wife saw a queue at a petrol station, was when she visited a neighboring country.

Now we have so much food that we actually export food to the Americas. I cannot remember when last we had 3-square meals in this house, as these days, we have 5-round meals.

I have a faint memory of back in the days, when graduates would leave the university and find no jobs, and there used to be long lines at every employment aptitude test. These days, foreigners are jostling to get our ‘Blue Card’ just to fill the several available employments that have been created, and there are American doctors here in Nigeria who now have to work as nurses, just as we used to do back in those days. Just the other day, a British lady came in to wash the toilets at our office in Ikeja. Every street corner you turn to, you now find modern industries, where in those days the warehouses were converted into worship centers. How the times have changed.

The wife and I took the kids on a nationwide tour just the other day. We got on the light train in Yaba, and in a few hours, we were already in Kaduna, from where we drove along the 14-lane roads to Yobe, before taking a lovely bus ride to the East. At night we slept at the hospitable inns all scattered over, and our only fear was that we would get arrested by the police for over-speeding, and they would refuse to take a bribe just to let us go. Our 7 year old son would not believe me when I told him that just ten years ago, we would never have dared to take this kind of journey, that the roads were really bad back then, and that the fear of armed robbers was the beginning of wisdom, especially on the way to the East.
He said my stories reminded him of his scary cartoons.

To be continued...

Story of Tamedu & his Foo-Foo Isiewu Company

Tamedu is the proprietor of a Foo-Foo and Isi-Ewu Shop (Exotic Nigerian food) in Lagos, Nigeria.

Sales are low and, in order to increase them, he comes up with a plan to allow his customers to eat now and pay later. He keeps track of the meals consumed on a ledger.

Word gets around and as a result increasing numbers of customers flock toTamedu’s shop. His suppliers are delighted and are very willing to sell more and more raw materials for the meals he prepares. Tamedu showsthem his ledger of receivables and they extend him credit.

A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local Nairaland bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and gives Tamedu a credit line and then increases Tamedu’s borrowing limit.

Taking advantage of his customers' freedom from immediate payment constraints, Tamedu jacks up the prices of his Foo-Foo and Isi-Ewu.Customers don’t mind as they are not required to pay on the spot. Sales volume increases massively; Banks and suppliers lend more; Tamedu opens more outlets in Abuja, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Ibadan. He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the customers as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert bankers recognizeTamedu's customer loans as assets and transform these customer assets into Bonds. These negotiable instruments are given exotic names such as FoofooBond, IsiBond, EwuBond and EgusiBond.

These securities are then listed on the Stock Exchange and traded on markets worldwide. No one really understands what the names mean and how the securities are guaranteed but, nevertheless, as their prices continuously climb, the securities become top-selling items.

One day, although the prices are still climbing, a credit risk manager ofthe Nairaland bank decides that the time has come to demand payment of one of the debts incurred by Tamedu. Tamedu in turn asks his clients to pay up. One by one they refuse; the clients cannot pay back the debts. Tamedu refuses to serve them anymore. The clients stop coming.

Tamedu is really screwed now. He cannot fulfill his loan obligations andtherefore claims bankruptcy. All bonds drop in price by between 80 to 95%.

The suppliers of Tamedu, having granted generous payment due dates andhaving invested in the securities are faced with similar problems. The goat-meat supplier defaults on payment to the Mallam who sells goats to him and to the cattle supplier and claims bankruptcy. The yam supplier is taken over by a competitor; Tamedu lays off the cook and staff. Bankruptcies soar, unemployment mushrooms.

The Nairaland bank that lent the money in the first place is set to collapse. It is saved by the Government following dramatic round-the-clock consultations by leaders from the Peoples Undemocratic Party with Tamedu commuting back and forth in his Executive jet and Mercedes 500SEL, brokering the deal.The funds required to save the economic collapse are obtained by a tax levied on the citizens, most of whom do not eat Foo-Foo or Isi-Ewu.

Adapted by Idris Bello for the Nigerian audience (2009)

Sites where you can find this story-

Understanding the Global Financial Crisis- Story of Tamedu & his Foo-Foo Isiewu Company

The motivation for this blog and my first post is an article I wrote in early April of this year. It was an attempt to comically explain the global financial crisis in layman's terms. However, as I did not maintain a blog, I sent out the article via email to several friends, sent it for publication in some Nigerian dailies and also posted it on some online blogs.

A month later, I have seen the article make its way through blogosphere and mailing groups, and while I am happy at the fact that most people have enjoyed it, in most of these forms, its no longer properly attributed, and its authorship is not acknowledged.

Hence I have decided henceforth, that when I write such articles as I do from time to time, I will be posting it on my blog, and then send links to it.

For those of you who are yet to read the story, check my next post. I will be posting the arcticle as I wrote it in early April 2009.