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…And a prosperous new year – Francis Ewherido

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By Francis Ewherido

Like the “Merry Christmas” wish, the “Prosperous New Year” wish also has therapeutic value. Many of us have had a raw deal this year and all we yearn for is a fruitful 2018. I was in a friend’s office last week.

He was comparing 2017 turnover with 2016’s. Even though, there was a marginal increase, 2016 was actually better if you factor in inflation and some other indices. And it is like that for many Nigerians. So we need that food for the soul, “…a Prosperous New Year” wish, to lift up our spirit, strengthen our faith and renew our hope, for what can a broken spirit achieve? What can we achieve without faith? Without hope, we are no different from a dead person.

Ironically, some governors, who owe salaries of workers, are also going to wish their citizens a Prosperous New Year! Officials of the ministry of petroleum and all the related parastatals, fuel marketers, petrol station owners and petrol station attendants, who caused us so much pain within this period, will also wish Nigerians a Prosperous New Year! God dey. What we need though is a real Prosperous New Year, not just wishes.

Real prosperity will not come from only wishes, faith and hope; we also need to take action and be purpose-driven. We must trudge on. Every day, we need to jump out of bed with renewed faith and a spring in our steps, as we go about our business hoping God crowns our efforts with success.

There is something I learnt long ago that always lifts my spirit: Eighty per cent of our success (and, by extension, failure) comes from within (is dependent on us); only 20 per cent is external. Our governments at all levels have disappointed us for too long.

It has become very dangerous to look up to governments that cannot meet their basic obligations. A poster I inherited when I relocated from Room 401, Zik’s Flat to Room 103, Eni Njoku Hall, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1985, read: “Blessed are those who are not expecting for they shall not be disappointed.” That has become my attitude towards governments. These days, listening to or reading national or state budgets is real tough work for me. I have been doing that as a teenager since Ex-President Shehu Shagari’s time in the 80s and it has mainly been story, story…story. I prefer governments surprise me by performing than disappoint me by not performing, so not much expectations from governments.

There is a more reliable group we can pin our hopes on: 180m million Nigerians (in insurance, we label this paradigm “micro insurance” and “deepening insurance penetration”). The same set of people who make it possible for Nigerian Bottling Company, Nestle Food, Guinness Breweries, MTN, Airtel and many others, to record billions of Naira in turnover every year. How many contracts do these companies get from government? Very little or none; ordinary Nigerians made these companies what they are today. If you can find a solution to the problems or meet the needs of a portion of this massive market, you are home and dry. I came out of church last Sunday to see a parishioner selling hot moi-moi from the boot of her car. Of course, she got patronage because people love hot tasty meals, especially in the morning.

Many Nigerians are actually looking for little things to do to earn either extra income or income to meet their needs. I feel the easiest way to go about it is to do something to meet the needs, or solve the problems, of a segment of our population. If you do that well and do your home work well, you are in for good business. My cousin and her husband, Dicta and Emma Onuorah, just started a bakery that has taken the market by storm.

They love bread making, they spent time learning the act from a good bakery, came up with their own recipe after painstaking research and put a good business model in place. Less than a year in business, their bread Bumpahav is doing very well in the Lagos market. Emma has also used his knowledge of trade unionism to add value to the industry by helping to organize bakers into a cohesive body.

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I have also seen friends “looking for where to diversify into.” This frame of mind leads to herd mentality: which line of business is booming. It is the kind of mentality that made many of us to lose money in the stock market a few years ago. It is also what is driving some people into farming.

You might make money on the short run, but on the long run, you will not be able to grow or sustain the business because your interest is not really there. I believe what you should invest in or diversify into should come from within not external. We all have innate gifts and things we love doing. Some people are already making millions of naira from similar gifts and areas of interest; follow suit, but find your niche. I am not saying it comes easy, but how many good things in life do? You need a plan, mentor(s), a team and plenty of patience, but the outcome is worth it.

A friend in the financial sector, who is getting close to retirement, asked me what to diversify into. She is a great gospel singer with a good knowledge of the music industry. “Music, of course; what else do you want to do? Start spending all your extra time honing your skills and knowledge,” I told her. I never knew gospel artists earn so much; I thought it was just a sacrifice in the Lord’s Vineyard. But I was shocked when I found out how much we had to pay one of them recently. My rough calculation from her fee and her number of performances per annum shows she probably earns N20m or more a year and she is not an A-list gospel singer! That is good money by any standard.

So, fellow Nigerians, it is time to look inwards towards yourself and less on the external, including government, for the way forward in your life. It is a New Year, set goals, not just New Year resolutions, for yourself. Your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound). Improve yourself, spend time learning about your areas of interests and hone your talents. Learn new things. Life is a vast ocean, no matter how much you know, there is still so much you do not know. The world is changing at a fast pace and you either change or perish. If you underachieved in 2017, your limited knowledge or efforts definitely contributed. Next year (2018) might not be different unless you  change.

Get mentors. When we talk about mentorship, the picture some people have is a mentor and mentee formally sitting and discussing. Sometimes you can make somebody you want to be like a mentor, unknown to him/her. Mentors also include books and television/radio programmes that add value to your life or get you closer to realizing your dreams. Spend less time on television programmes that only have entertainment value. Also, unless you earn your living from the social media, spend minimal time there.

They are time/dream stealers and killers. Spend more time with people who add value to your life or will help you realize your dream. Develop a positive attitude and learn lessons from everybody you come across and every situation you find yourself, positive or negative. God created us to prosper and be happy, create your prosperity and happiness; do not allow anybody or government deny you. Like Moses, have a staff( a skill, product or something people need and are willing to pay for) in your hands through which God can bless you and do exploits in your life. I wish you a Prosperous New Year, not just as food for your soul, but an entitlement.

 

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