Poetry, ViMP

Life-death

50 bright youths full of hope
Came to LBS to convoke
Five days full of knowledge
Of hard work, of laughter
They go back whither they came from
Who knows, who knows

Knowledge is power they say
Well armed these 50 were
Most things can be worked at
Some things can be sweet-talked
Does this power extend over all?
Who knows, who knows

The duality of human life
Body-soul, life-death, day-night
Some things are inevitable
They can’t be wished or prayed away
How long they will wield their power
Who knows, who knows

As the 10 green bottles on the wall,
Once 50 youths full of hope
Came to LBS to convoke
What happens when one falls down?
Do you see nine or forty-nine
Who knows, who knows

Here comes he who knows
Seeing, you believe
Loving, one is more powerful
Well is Maths puzzled
When it perceives the answer
He knows, he knows

Though one bottle is down
There are not nine but fifty
Body-soul, life-death, day-night
The fallen is not lost
Life is changed not ended
He is only on the other side

Dedicated to a fallen coursemate. Rest in peace, bro

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ViMP

Friday the fourth {day}

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To us was added a great plus

For in its wholeness came health

On a fine Friday the fourth

 

With her we saw the vision

Stated and wrote the mission

On a fine Friday the fourth

 

My conscience is raw with blisters

Why give me this gift, mister

On a fine Friday the fourth Continue reading

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ViMP

Nigeria – Opportunity in crisis?

The stage was set. The projector was up. The ‘interclass’ observers were ready. The audience was waiting. The latter consisted of 50 minus each group’s members. They were very powerful. They were the judges, so to speak. Armed with 100 dollars apiece, they were eager to invest their money as deemed fit in the three different plans, from the three other groups, for a better Nigeria. Since Tuesday, when we received the case notes, we had discussed, argued, agreed, sweated, and stayed up late for it. We had even fought for our own blood with the muscular sand flies and mosquitoes. Now we were more than ready, perhaps not to present it, but to drop the case and move on, to let go.

Image     Image Ellen Ukpi

In the beginning…; choosing her most eloquent members, each group came out to discuss Nigeria briefly and to propose in details a way forward. There were all sorts of recommendations. The decentralization of power from the Federal to each state government; a focus shift to other sources of revenue other than oil; transparency in all sectors of the economy and at all levels of government; educational programs for youths; more investment in the private sector (especially SMEs). One group even projected up to 2050. You know how Oshodi {Lagos, Nigeria} was and now is. Imagine Oshodi looking like some fancy place in Dubai and the same replicated in all the major cities in the country. The audience was dazzled by their futuristic projection. Daring to dream and to hope, for hope is to believe in the substance of things not seen, they invested accordingly.

The presentations ended. One interclass observer, who else but Franca Ovadje, came forward to make her observations; she was impressed!!! A good way to start, I think. Notice and laud the positives. Then constructively criticise the negatives. Lastly, give your listener(s) appealing reasons, I didn’t say sentimental, why your advice is in his/her/their best interest. What were her points? Here they are, as stated by me. First: when your group is making a presentation, stay focused. This does not depend on whether you are or are not the one presenting. Second: the recommendations from each group were beautiful, lovely. But that’s where it ends. All the recommendations depend on the goodwill of the leaders and their good will hasn’t gotten us much far thus far. A better option is the time tested and proved right narrow way. In this case, it is surnamed taxation. She drew our attention to this text in the case notes.

“… Nigeria had become a rentier state. Since the bulk of the government revenue no longer depended on economic activity in the country, it no longer had incentives to help create growth in the non-oil sector. Instead it focused on distributing money as a way to consolidate its power and cement its access to the revenue coming out of the ground. ..Since the money did not come from their pockets, the Nigerian population had little idea about how much the government was spending and fewer incentives to monitor it closely. They also had few incentives to pay taxes to a corrupt government flush with money. … ‘The umbilical cord that ties government and the private sector in most economies…got broken.’…‘On one side, there is that broad smooth road with promises of no taxation, and efforts to get money from other places leading nowhere but to perdition, poverty, disease and economic enslavement. And there is the other road – people who go therein pay tax. They also have to apply self-help and self-sacrifice to get where they want. But this road…leads to success.”

To wrap up the presentations, Yazid Abdullahi, unanimously acclaimed most outstanding male, gave a political speech, the ‘fellow Nigerians…’ sort. But he made sense. We must not stop here in the classroom. The programme will be over in a couple of days {then} and now, it has ended. Now is the time for action. Time to convert words and their high sounding synonyms into deeds; time to desist from being in the class of the new NATO; time to be true Nigerians. And just before we left the school, a cocktail in Ellen’s honour. We cut the delectable birthday cake made for her by the LBS catering staff and drank to her health. As expected, there was much ‘movement’. Ellen, for one, was very moved, touched, ‘close to tears’ {an innocent exaggeration}. The rest of us were moved too. We strolled to and fro, enjoying the cake, the drinks and the chitchat. All work and no play; all play and no work make Jack a dull boy. Back to the resort, back to work after dinner on two new short cases; the cases were about Toyin Adeniyi and Tade Oyinlola. As expected, my group was the first to finish discussing. Blessed be sleep; those who regard her rightly will rarely be wrong.

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ViMP

‘My Man’ – Thursday

Today I want to share a story of a man very close to my heart. He is a trader and has a small but flourishing shop. He was so successful that he would take young boys as apprentices, teach them the secrets of the trade and after some years, give them some start up capital in return for their services. But gradually, the time came when he could no longer afford to take the boys. He had to manage the business alone. That was the formal beginning of the failure, not the end yet, of the shop. Why was this so?

There are three broad stages in a business – the beginning or growth stage where investment in terms of assets and cash are pumped into the business. The maturity stage where the business brings in return like a cash cow; and the decline stage where the business gradually or rapidly plummets to square one (zero if you choose). Prudent businessmen, whether big or small, know that they cannot, except deliberately, allow their business to get to the latter stage. Rather with foresight, they see it coming and stop it by re-branding and repackaging and/or with aggressive marketing, etc.

Granted, the man’s business was in the decline stage. Like Mr. Butler Lumber in the case study, the man was making some profit. But he almost never had cash. Remember, profit is not the same as cash. At first I thought he was squandering the money on other matters, instead of pumping it back into the business. At least, if he has a mind to spend the cash, I and the others can help him do that. But no! He is a gentleman. He didn’t look beyond his better half. He didn’t spend the money over the bar counter with ‘friends’ nor did he smoke or gamble. He was clean, through and through. He didn’t even spend it ministering to others’ needs and wants as was his wont in years past because he simply didn’t have the cash to give them. Plenty of his time he gave them but cash, no. As a last resort, I almost believed the common answer – witchcraft. Perhaps someone didn’t want his progress and had ‘him and his shop bound hands and foot’. What was the problem?

Here, Kayode Omoregie, faculty member of LBS, comes in. We had two sessions with him on ‘financing needs’ on Thursday. Judging by my criteria of funny and practical, his was the best {and the only} session of the day. Now I am neither a masculinist, if there is such a word, or a feminist. I try to be a realist – full stop. He led the class following the Butler Lumber case.

Back to our man; what was the problem? It could have been any of Butler’s problem.

The current ratio of his business was probably not just substandard but decreasing. {Current ratio = assets: liability and standard current ratio is 2:1}. What this translates to is that though profits are being made, liquidity {cash} is low and getting lower. A vicious cycle sets where to boosts cash, the man borrows. Thus his interest rate keeps increasing while his current ratio continues decreasing. There is less and less cash until the owner practically falls headlong into trouble. Now our man is really not the bank-borrowing-pay-with-interest sort. Since his business is small scale, he makes do with what he gets from family and friends mainly without interest. So cash is pumped in to keep the business breathing; profits are made but they are not visible, that is, no cash still. One additional info; our man is the jolly good fellow who gives a credit line, however small, to any customer that asks. He doesn’t keep any accounts, not even of these credits. He depends on the good will of his customers to get paid back. Though some never pay back, he is not deterred from continuing the good work.

Let’s stop here and wrap up with the thread that ran through our about three hours discourse on financing needs. All you nascent business men and women, keep your books. This line from the poem Logging out by Amaka Anozie expresses it well;

‘Balance your accounts, don’t delay; not just your business, but your way’

And if you can’t keep those books, spend money paying a good accountant to keep them for you. It’s in your best interest to do so. How about getting to know more about these matters? Or are you suspicious of your accountant(s)? {This is not a good sign for the business I think}. Well then register for one of the courses in LBS or if you fall in the age and education bracket, watch out for ViMP early next year.

And now watch out for the most exciting ‘session’ of Thursday – the presentation on ‘Nigeria – opportunity in crisis?’

 

 

 

 

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ViMP

Our Set – Thursday

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From Arrows of God,

To Lagos Business School;

We posed for the cameras,

And sat down to lunch.

 

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