"The biggest challenge Nigerian people have is a lack of faith in themselves, in the people who lead them, and in institutions."
While in New York on a tour for his book, "Are We The Turning Point Generation?" Chude Jideonwo, CEO of Red Media Africa stopped by the Sahara Reporters Studio to speak about the reliability of Nigerian youths and Nigerian leaders. He also discussed the folly of looking at Boko Haram as a conflict outside of religion.
Mr. Jideonwo's company, Red Media Africa, aims to “use the media to inspire and empower with the issues and ideas that matter across board.” Outside of his passion for running a media business, he actively partakes in the issues concerning young people and minority rights. His belief is that his current generation are “children of anger,” with the hope that this anger will incite action. However, according to Jideonwo, the youths are so entangled in the system that it weakens their struggle. He says, “I cannot imagine the people of Egypt or Tunisia, coming out for a protest and saying they’re going home to rest for the weekend, and coming back in the morning. At that point we just declared that we have given in.” He cites the #BringBackOurGirls campaign as one such struggle where youths negotiate with the system rather than fight to a standstill.
Beyond the strength of youths in Nigeria’s struggle for democracy, Jideonwo also sounded off on Boko Haram. He berates Nigerians for hiding from the truth of issues saying, “the first problem that we have is that we do not speak honestly about our issues.” He explains further that, “Boko Haram gets its fuel by a certain misinterpretation of the values of Islam. The more we keep denying that there are more Christians abducted than Muslims, as if that is irrelevant to the conversation, the more we will not be able to solve those problems.”
While Jideonwo believes that, “the biggest challenge Nigerian people have is a lack of faith in themselves, in the people who lead them and in institutions. He also believes that his generation has the capacity to create change, more so than other generations. “We have more of an opportunity and an environment to actually change things,” he says, “we will now have to decide whether we will actually take advantage of that or not.”
What brought you to New York City?
I came here as part of my book tour. We had the launch in Lagos, then it moved on to Abuja, had a few readings and moved on to London, had two events, moved on to Paris, and then came to New York for some events. That was about a week ago and so I’m taking a break so I don’t die. And then I’m back to London to wrap up with about three events this coming weekend. Then I’m back to Lagos.
Tell us what Red Media Africa is about?
Red Media Africa is basically an innovative media company focused on a generation of young Africans at this point in time. We’re trying to use the media to inspire and empower with the issues and ideas that matter across board. We are split into two companies. One is Red Communication, which is a PR marketing firm with a focus on the youth market and has worked for clients like BlackBerry and British Council and Nigerian Idol. Then we have the content company which has the Y! Brands Y! Africa Magazine and YNaija.com and The Future Africa Awards. Affiliated to this company is The Future Project which is an NGO that focuses on young people. Right now the two issues uppermost in our minds is good governance and jobs for young people.
You recently published a book, what’s it called?
“Are we the Turning Point Generation?” that’s the title of the book.
You organise an award event called ‘The Future Awards.’ By your own standards how would you define a youth? Considering the fact that major political parties have 50-year-olds as their youth leader.
I hear that one of them has a 35-year-old so that might be a good thing. The Future Awards defines young people as 18-31. By the time the Future Awards was founded in 2004, many of the people we wanted to reward were in that age bracket. People like Ndidi Nwuneli, Oluchi Onweagba or Tara Durotoye and Chimamanda Adichie. We looked at the scene and thought that the kind of young people we want to celebrate, what is their age range? That is how we came about that for the Future Africa Awards. YNaija defines young people as 18-35 which seems to be consistent with how the African Union also describes young people. When we were defining that bracket with the Future Africa Awards, we didn’t know how the UN or the African Union or anybody else was defining it. We just knew that we were young and we were thinking about the young people within our age bracket, who are the kind of young people we see as our peers. So I will stick with the definition of 18-35 because we are still a continent of late bloomers. My church does 16-25.
Most of you started this project out of that age bracket now seem to be older, or do you have board members who are older?
Yes! From the beginning, many of our board members, board of trustees were above the age, but the central working committee was within the age. We never envisaged this problem, because when you’re starting up something, you think long term but you don’t think too long term. You focus on building the short term.
We didn’t particularly have a plan for when we would get older, at the time. But as we’ve evolved, we’ve realised that challenge has to happen, especially if the world is getting younger. Young people are doing things at a much younger age, you need to begin to revise your corporate governance structure. So, part of what we’ve done is the central working committee of The Future Awards is much younger. We have young people between 18 and 24, populating that committee.
Myself I’m no longer part of the central working committee, Adebola is no longer, though he’s 29, so he’s still within that bracket. But we’re conscious of the evolution of the brand, the imperative to keep being as young and as fresh as possible. And so we have people like Bukola and Onyinye and all of these other people within that 25-18 age bracket, who are kind of running things.
There is a cross between being an entrepreneur, core capitalist, a socialpreneur or an activist. How do these merge effectively?
It doesn’t mesh effectively, so that’s the first thing. It’s not an easy process, but here’s the thing, I was talking about The Future Awards and how we have evolved. There was a time when I used to fight against the tag of an “activist,” because I said that’s not how I identify myself, that’s not what makes me wake up in the morning, that’s not how I see myself. I have moved on from that irrelevance because it’s neither here nor there. If you take on a role, if I give birth to a child, and say I don’t identify myself as a mother, it’s irrelevant how I identify myself if I have a responsibility for a child, then I’m a mother. So I find that for instance, last weekend, Sunday, I stepped out for the pride parade, and so I just tweeted. This was just an innocent tweet, I wasn’t thinking deeply about it, “Oh I’m so glad to be part of the parade, I’m happy for a country that allows its people to live in peace,” and I was receiving emails, “you’re not an activist.” When I was tweeting that, I didn’t think that...I didn’t wake up and say, “oh now gay rights activist, tweet about gay rights.” I just thought, “there’s a great parade going on, people are happy and joyful, tweet about it.” But that’s part of my personality. When I feel strongly about something, I talk about it, I work on it. The way the world has put people in boxes, for good reason, that fits into the box of activist. But then when I wake up every morning, what I do is, I’m an entrepreneur. That’s what gives me my income, that’s what our 52 staff are employed to do and all of that. There’s no one who is employed to fight on issues.
So what has happened is that I’ve come to peace with it, and I”m doing the things that I’m passionate about. So I’m passionate about running a media business, but I’m also passionate about driving issues that concern me and young people and minority rights.
Sometimes they come in conflict, sometimes they work hand-in-hand, sometimes you’re not sure where the line is, but then it’s all done with actual passion for those issues. So I take the knocks and the kudos when they come.
As an entrepreneur, are there moments when people you work with fault you for activism?
All the time. Again, I won’t name names until I’m 80 and I’ve written that book, but I’ve lost a few clients. I lost clients during #OccupyNigeria because of #OccupyNigeria. I’ve lost a few relationships that could lead to business because of #BringBackOurGirls, and because of the nature of #BringBackOurGirls, because, unfortunately #BringBackOurGirls is not like #OccupyNigeria where you can hurt a few feelings and then go back and start building them. It’s an ongoing process. Like my article in the Guardian said today, I am not going to leave the matter like others, until the girls are found. Therefore, as a business person, it’s not even touch and go activism. Constantly I am pitched against some of the people with whom I have relationships because I believe differently from them on this issue.
I would rather not pay that price, but it’s the way of the world. You cannot stand for something and not pay a price for it. So I can’t lament. I don’t even blame them. If I’m an entrepreneur and you feel like the stance I’ve taken is against your interest, I would not begrudge your taking business away from me. It is a legitimate reaction if you feel you cannot trust me. So I have taken it upon myself to pay this price, so I don’t really think about it too deeply. Again some of it has advantages. For instance I’m doing a book reading, and people are hosting me across the world, so to speak. It’s because of the work they’ve seen me do with some of these issues.
I’d be a hypocrite to complain about the disadvantages and disregard the advantages. It’s the way of the world. That’s the path I’ve chosen so…
You have experienced several generations before you. How would you describe your current generation based on their youthfulness, potency and dynamism? Is this a generation that can be relied upon?
I don’t know that any generation can essentially be relied upon. I think that generations decide what they can be. First its decided that it is angry, that’s one, and I say, yes they are children of anger but like I said, it’s better to be children of anger than children of apathy, so it’s neither here nor there. In any case, what kind of generation would they be if we were not angry? If you look at human development indices, we are at the bottom on almost everything, whatever incremental changes we make.
So, we are legitimately children of anger, and anger leads to action. Lethargy doesn’t lead to action, apathy doesn’t lead to action, it’s anger that leads to action, so that’s a good thing. So first we’re children of anger, and that’s a good thing. Secondly, we’re children of...we’re a generation that is lucky to have more tools than at any time in history, in terms of the tools of collaboration, the tools of getting out numbers, and the tools of sharing information across boundaries. So those are two advantages that play to our strengths. The problem is now, will we be able to divorce ourselves from the weaknesses of the Nigerian system, enough, to take advantage of these two things? Will we be angry enough and then we see money that we haven’t seen before, and still keep the anger going, you know. Will we be strategic enough to be able to connect our activism or our advocacy with these tools in an effective way rather than just make noise, get 100 people together, and then move on. That is the challenge that we face.
We have a huge opportunity, much more than...Pat Utomi calls the generation, the generation that left town. We have a huge opportunity, much more than the generation that left town. Even those that have left town who are in my generation, are actively involved because they can read through SaharaReporters and get involved, read through YNaija and get involved. They can get involved, they can sign petitions on change,org, they can contribute actual money to Enough Is Enough. They can come back home and monitor elections and go back. We have more of an opportunity and an environment to actually change things. We will now have to decide whether we will actually take advantage of that or not.
You would imagine that going by the level of anger, there should have been a revolution by now?
Yes, so is the anger enough for us to disconnect ourselves from the system? The problem, and I am part of that problem, is that many of us have become entangled with that system, for legitimate reasons. I don’t have peers who are stealing money or defrauding the government, or part of oil corruption, but in terms of mentors associations, relationships, we have become a big part of the system. When that unfortunately happens, it becomes difficult to fight that system to a standstill. You begin to negotiate with the system and that’s the fundamental reason, the fundamental weakness that we have that has ensured that we don’t have a revolution.
Now there is the flip side, we can negotiate ourselves out of the logjam. It just will take a longer process, and victory is not certain. So that’s the reason why we’ve not gotten that revolution. Too many of us are too entangled in the system as it is, that we can’t fight it to a standstill. It’s just like #OccupyNigeria. I wrote in my book, I cannot imagine the people of Egypt or Tunisia, coming out for a protest and saying they’re going home to rest for the weekend, and coming back in the morning. At that point we just declared that we have given in. Of course, by the time we left that lacuna, the government put armored tanks in that space. So that’s the kind of negotiation that we do. We have not yet reached that point of boiling anger where we sustain an activity until we break through. So #BringBackOurGirls is an example of that. We’re trying to test our democratic arms and see. I hope that if we achieve victory through this, then people are inspired to stay on a problem until they find a solution.
Do you think technology and innovation - which is something associated with your generation, is a blessing or curse?
Well it’s certainly not a curse. It has weaknesses but innovation is never a curse. People fight innovation because people like comfort, what they’re used to. But I can’t think of any one area. It’s just like the old argument about… I always use an example, the lyrics. People say, “look at what Davido is singing, look at what Wizkid is singing, he’s singing about behinds.” And I wonder, what was Shina Peters singing about, and what was Ebenezer Obey singing about before he became a bishop? What was King Sunny Ade singing about, women, backsides, breasts. Look, it’s an endless argument.
What about imitation that parades itself as innovation?
It’s a constant challenge. It has been here since the beginning of man, you know. People have always tried to copy things that they are attracted to. I don’t think it’s a useful debate. I think that innovation is a positive thing, and that the more we can find tools to make processes easier, the more we grab them. Again we’ve seen it in things like budgets, in things like mobilising for protests, in things like IrokoTV, in things like, again Sahara Reporters, in things like all of these things. Innovation has constantly made the world a better place.
What is the worst thing mitigating against a united front for Nigerian youths. Ethnicity of religion?
So lack of faith now expresses itself in ethnicity, expresses itself in religious fundamentality. Ethnicity is a big problem, and I think that the reason why ethnicity is a huge problem and religion, is because we’re very dishonest in the way that we tackle these problems. I always say that there’s a reason why you’ll find many Igbo families who are reluctant to engage with the national anthem. It is because they’re still scarred by Biafra. No matter how many times Governor Fashola says that his generation has moved on.
If you have grown in an Igbo family or in a middle eastern family like mine, you would have heard your family tell you, “look, better be careful about these Yoruba people and these Hausa people.” Look, it is a fact of life when you grow up. But then when we are talking about these issues, we become so hypocritical, almost like we want to ignore our own realities, so we don’t engage with it honestly. It’s the same thing as religion, look, Boko Haram is primarily a religion-fueled organisation. It doesn’t mean that Islam is a negative, is a violent religion. Of course it is not. But, Boko Haram gets its fuel by a certain misinterpretation of the values of Islam. The more we keep discussing Boko Haram as if it was not a religious...the more we keep denying that there are more Christians abducted than Muslims, as if that is irrelevant to the conversation, the more we will not be able to solve those problems. So the first problem that we have is that we do not speak honestly about our issues. We have been overwhelmed by this political correctness that makes us repeat the same problems. But that’s not even, in my opinion, the biggest challenge.
The biggest challenge Nigerian people have is a lack of faith, in themselves, in the people who lead them, in institutions. I always give an example. I was talking about, at my second reading in New York. I said look, people look at me, I come to do a reading with a young person, and he’s looking at me and he’s thinking, “look, which one does he want to chop now? This book that he’s written, what part of the national cake is he trying to get with this book?” That is the atmosphere in which Nigerians live. We all view each other as positioning ourselves in relation to the national cake. So that breeds distrust. That breeds a lack of engagement. People do not engage. They don’t feel like if you call them out to protest...that’s why they attacked Obiageli Ezekwesili, because they cannot understand how a mother, a comfortable woman who has a comfortable job, will leave her job and her life and go and sit out for 70-something days for girls that are not her children. They can’t understand it, and so they cannot engage with it. If we can struggle to a standstill, that lack of faith, in ourselves, in our institutions and in our leaders, and it will not be an easy process. That will be the most important... So for instance, #BringBackOurGirls, somebody wants to defend it but he feels, “no, this is an attack against Jonathan by Northern leaders.” So there’s nothing you will tell that person that will make that person get involved in what is a humanitarian issue. But it is really, at the core of it, a lack of faith in Nigerian enterprise. So I think that if we are able to struggle with that issue, and build some kind of faith in Nigeria and Nigerians, then that will be the biggest problem we have to solve.
We are surprised that you were not nominated for the ongoing national conference.
Again, I tend not to speak a lot about conversations that I have in private. But I wasn’t eager to get involved in the National Conference process. That’s not an indictment on those who have got involved in the process. I just for personal reasons do not envisage it as a very productive endeavour. Because we’ve had these conversations in the past. We’ve had them in this same way. And they did not result in any long term change. We had a constitution conference under Obasanjo, and I do not see what is fundamentally different about this one. The luxury of being an entrepreneur and of building things is that if you have things that you’re building, it’s easy for you to shut out the noise. For me, because I’m so overwhelmed with my daily tasks, it was easy for me to say, “look, I’m not going to do this one.” Again that’s not to say I was invited or anything. Again you look at the recommendations coming out from that conference. People are saying they want to change the name of Nigeria to Airegin, people want to create 18 more states. The reports we’re getting speak to a fundamental shallowness that has afflicted previous conferences that we’ve had. I’m not very hopeful as to the outcomes of this conference.
People like you, regardless of what happens, don’t want to get away from Nigeria. What keeps you going?
I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. First, any time I speak outside Nigeria, people are always feeling guilty. They say, “you know, I want to go home…” Don’t lie. You don’t want to go home. And you need to stop feeling guilty about going home. It is understandable, if your country doesn’t allow you achieve your full potential, that you have a responsibility to leave and go and achieve your full potential, so that you are able to perform at full capacity to help your country. So you know, I completely understand why people leave. What I don’t understand is why I stay, and why we stay.
On my blog, last year in April as I was going back to Nigeria, I put a blog to say, “why am I excited about going home? Probably there’s a very high risk of dying in an aircrash, or being beaten by police in Iyana-Ipaja or bombed at a plaza in Abuja and nobody knows, or bombed in a car in Apapa and have government begin to debate whether it was a bomb or it was an explosion.” Why do we stay? Honestly, I don’t know. Honestly, I just think that when I think about it, because I”m also a religious person and a spiritual person, when I think about it I think that it is a conviction that if God put us in a particular location then he must have a reason for it. Which is an admission that it’s not a logical decision. Because you know, when we start to talk about God, deliberately, we are not being logical. And so that’s what it is. It is what it is.
We incorporated the company in the UK last year, and it took all of one week...it took all of three days. I got my bank account, I thought to myself, I said wow, if I decided to find my way to this country, I walked into Chase bank, I had my account in 30 minutes with credit card, checkbook, everything, and I’m thinking, just imagine if I had to deplore my entrepreneurial skills in an environment where everything is just ready for me to take advantage of. But it still doesn’t make it attractive for me to live in Nigeria, so it’s not a logical process. I can’t explain it to you I’m sorry. It just appears to be the right thing to do.
You have seen quite a few governments and know some government officials. Is there anyone you can point to who you can confidently put the future of the country in his or her hands?
The one example I clearly would go to bed is Obiageli Ezekwesili. I’ve known aunty Oby for six years. She was at the height of her power in the Obasanjo government in terms of political, administrative, public persona power, and she was not fundamentally different from what she is now. One of the true challenges of our environment is that we don’t capture our history well. Some people call Obiageli Ezekwesili a latter day activist. It’s just ignorance, because this is the woman who co-founded Transparency International and was part of The Concerned Professionals and when I met her in 2007, she was Minister of Education.
I sent her an email. I was a production assistant on New Dawn with Funmi Iyanda at the time, and she didn’t know me from anywhere. She had read up on The Future Awards because she had felt that okay these are young people doing great work, and she answered my email as a minister, and she invited me to Abuja to meet her, and she has consistently supported The Future Awards. When she was World Bank Vice President, she gave us her own personal funds when she couldn’t find funding to do it. When she was Vice President of the World Bank and we founded Enough is Enough Nigeria, she couldn’t get involved because of her position at the time, but she funded Enough Is Enough Nigeria with her funds. That was the time when we were on the streets demanding for president Goodluck Jonathan to be sworn in as Acting President. How time flies. She gave strategic advice in terms of policy. I remember when we were going to visit governor Fashola, to make our demands and we couldn’t reach him, she put up a call to Governor Fashola. So, this is how she has always been, and there has been a consistency to her.
Aunty Oby has introduced me to some of the world’s biggest names. And she has never asked me for anything in return. Has never asked them for anything in return for her own family members. It is important for me to have such a role model. Now that is on a personal level. On an institutional level, you saw what she did with procurement in the due process office, we saw what she did with extractive industries. We saw what she did with education. Even though she had a short time, she went right to the root of the problems in that industry. And so I always say to myself, if she runs for office, which she insists she will not, I would resign every commission that I have, and actively campaign. I would give my life in the confidence that this is somebody who epitomizes everything that I think is desirable in a public figure, a public officer in Nigeria. And I say that without any reservation whatsoever because I haven’t just seen her as a public figure, I’ve seen her on a personal level.
Another person I had a lot of faith in until her death, was Dora Akunyili, because she embodied all the characteristics of a Nigerian, and I wrote about the two of them in my book, the lessons you can learn from Obiageli Ezekwesili and Dora Akunyili. She embodied everything about a typical Nigerian. She was loud, she was boisterous, she would party, she would receive all the awards, four hundred and something in her office. She was very Nigerian! She wasn’t modest and quiet, but still, she was effective, which shows that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Nigerian character. We can go to parties and still be effective, we can do policy and still have friends. She disappeared under the presidency of Yar’Adua. But then she emerged again towards the end of it. And so her character basically shone through. Two of them, but of course may her soul rest in peace.
What about the men, can you mention one that you can confidently put the future of the country into his hands?
There’s none. I mean I have a lot of respect for President Obasanjo, in terms of him being a visionary person. He just unfortunately has so many weaknesses that have constantly obscured his vision. I’ve spoken to him once, but I’ve never met him. But I thought he had such a massive opportunity and he had such a massive capacity to change the country,and he did change it fundamentally in terms of opening up the market; some of the policies that Jonathan is continuing, privatisation, liberalisation, enabling small businesses. Apart from him, I don’t see a lot of models.
You had a chance to interview President Goodluck Jonathan. What do you think about him?
I’m very reluctant to speak about President Jonathan...Being picked up is not a problem in our democracy now. In fact that’s one of the advantages, that’s one of the good sides of Jonathan. If you want to talk about his two positive sides. One is allowing elections to be free and fair largely, two is look, since we got this president in we’ve not had cases of assassinations, people have not been incarcerated to death and all of that. That’s positive. So the worst that will happen if I go home and I’m incarcerated is that my twitter following will increase. So that’s not a risk. The real risk is to my business. So being incarcerated is not a problem. The problem is that this government now has such a hostage mentality, where they feel like every criticism, every correction is an attack.
What do you think would happen in the next year or so, with the country facing monumental challenges of security, an uncertain political future and economic doom wrapped up as boom?
There are three ways of looking at it. One political, one civil society and the other would be economic. I am one of those that I’ve been very excited by the emergence of strong opposition parties. I am aware of the imperfections of this particular one, but just to have an option, and to let political leaders know they can’t get away with everything. Again you look at the way the leader of this opposition party, Ahmed Tinubu, has handled criticism about his overbearing influence in his own party, in exactly the same way Jonathan has reacted. He’s commissioning op-eds to attack real and perceived enemies. It’s so disappointing. So, if they go on like this, then Nigerians will realise that they really don’t have a choice between the PDP and the APC and they will choose the devil that they know. So that will be a tragedy if we end up in 2015 with exactly the same kind of structure that we have now, then there will be no incentive for people to do better. Because they will feel like, “well, we are all the same. It’s one big pie and the citizens will not punish us for bad behaviour, as we’ve seen from Ekiti.”
That’s on the one hand, and it will be a tragedy if politicians don’t feel put under pressure in the coming year. That’s one, whether PDP or APC I really don’t care. It’s just will they feel like “if I perform badly if I do badly, my people will hold me to a higher standard?” That’s one. So there’s a huge possibility, I see that happening, without necessarily coming out to say I see this person win, I see the status quo being maintained in a way that is detrimental to any long-term change for the country.
I feel like civil society is not strong as it should be, or can be. I think that many of us in civil society, because by default I’m also in civil society, are not building the kind of long-term, collaborativeness. One of the reasons why I formed Enough Is Enough, a lot of people thought that I had an agenda. Either I was working for Dele Momodu, then they said I was working for Pat Utomi, then they said I was working for Jonathan. At the end of the day, even I was confused about who I was working for. But what we were trying to do was, to build a coalition that was focused on a bigger picture, beyond our little silos and our little organizations. That strategic, cohesive thinking, is a major weakness of the civil society that we have now. This is not a criticism.
We’re trying to secure funding, do this and do that, and we’re not really thinking how can we combine and drive one million people to move the middle on important issues. If that doesn’t change, then our influence as a civil society in the coming elections, and generally, will be very limited. If politicians for instance don’t see that you can drive numbers and challenge their authority, they will not pay attention to you. That’s on that level. The third level is economic, and it boils down to jobs, and especially jobs for young people. Dangote was talking to, I think, the financial times two months ago. And he said any time he goes into the North, what frightens him is that there’s no difference between Monday and Sunday. Anytime you go, you see young people hanging from trees, sitting around doing nothing. It’s not just a challenge in the North.
When I left my parents house in 2006/2007, and I was living in my face-me-I-face-you apartment in Surulere, what I used to be frightened about was that I’ll drive my Honda in the morning, and I’d see my street lined up with young able-bodied men who had nowhere to go. I used to be so frightened and I said well, I cannot become wealthy, how do I become wealthy in this kind of a society? You are constantly a target for anybody’s anger. One of the huge failures of our system is that the economic elite don’t understand how urgent beyond cliches, that is. Unfortunately, the government keeps lying that it is creating jobs that it’s not creating. Maybe walk across New York, and you see a big construction project. And you say, “okay, 1,500 jobs will be created.” In Nigeria, when that same project is inaugurated, we’ll say 100,000 jobs will be created. It’s ridiculous! So the government is not serious-mindedly engaging the problem of jobs. This’s what, I was talking about, eight years ago, it’s worse now. We have human resources that are ill-equipped to take on challenges of a knowledge economy, we have government sectors that are over-bloated, so that they’re unable to even…if they’re structured properly, there are enough public sector jobs to at least significantly solve the problem by a quarter. Then, the one percent is getting richer. So that, the engine of the economy should be SMEs. If you go to Lagos state, they’re being…* by quadruple taxations. and I’m taxed in Lagos state, so I know what I’m talking about. You find governor Fashola’s aides constantly, instead of solving the problem, they keep pushing back on Chambers of Commerce that are complaining about this problem.
On the national level, there is no serious-minded policy that supports small businesses beyond announcements of slush funds and interventions. I as a business person and a serious-minded business person employing over 50 people, I haven’t seen. And so we have a network of small business that aren’t being supported to expand and grow, therefore the whole talk of the middle class is a joke, because if small businesses are supported to create income and to empower the employees to have more income, then the economy cannot expand. What happens is that it keeps seemingly growing at the top, but it’s growing into the one percent, the millionaires are getting more millions on that level, and they’re basically not creating anything. The oil industry doesn’t multiply wealth. it concentrates wealth. It doesn’t create jobs necessarily, it reduces jobs. The banking sector doesn’t necessarily, at the core of it, create that many jobs, it multiplies wealth. So we need the textile industries, the creative industries, the tech industry and all these other industries that multiply jobs, to be working at optimum. And they cannot work if all they depend upon is funding from New York and London. So, unfortunately, I do not see any governmental seriousness towards solving that problem.
Do you ever plan to run for office some day?
That’s why I say I don’t plan. Again, my experience in observing our politicians. So many people say they will not run for office, and eventually go and run. So I learned how to answer this question from Aunty Oby Ezekwesili. At this moment, I do not have any plans to run for office. If I do decide to run for office, there will be no ambiguity about my intentions. I will not hedge, I will not lie, I will not pretend. I will say, that I think I need to run for office at this time.