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‘Nigeria ‘ll soon experience economic buoyancy’

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Otunba ‘Dele Ajayi-Smith is the Executive Chairman of the Hammersmith Projects Solutions Limited,  a renowned member of the Organised Private Sector. A chartered manager and specialist in  project management spanning over four decades. He is also business advisor/consultant, the founder and president of the African Citizens Development Foundation  (ACDF) and permanent representative of the Foundation to the United Nations since 2009.  In this interview with GBENGA ADERANTI, he reflects on the Nigerian economy and the way forward. He also speaks on housing problems in Nigeria. Excerpts:

Many believe that right now, economy is tough. As an expert and a player in the economy, what is the true position of the Nigeria’s economy?

I can assure you that the climate is currently rough and tough. But things are moving.  It is like the proverbial saying that when a river goes through cleansing, the dregs previously settled beneath the water will appear on the surface to make it seems unwell, but later drinkable water will emerge for the good use of everybody.  The business climate in the past decades had been so superficial, not in any way sustainable. It opened doors for all forms of shady and sharp practices and culture of cutting corners. Only the reactionary conservatives were able to do business under such business environment.  The current business climate is laying a solid foundation for the future that will create equal opportunity for all citizens to thrive, according to  innate or inborn abilities, discouraging artificial growth which in a short while will be subjected to failure and collapses.  The current economic development is very promising.  The positive indicator towards a sustainable growth is when every citizen can function without elimination or exclusiveness, citizens having sustainable and decent jobs, if they cannot establish their own businesses, but must be sure it is a job where they can aspire for retirement with generous benefits.

Many multinational and manufacturing companies are folding up in Nigeria. How best do you think this present government can stem this tide?

The ongoing reformation will bring novelty into the country’s economy, build confidence in the minds of our business partners from across the globe, while government is performing its primary functionality of providing necessary and adequate infrastructures. Our electricity has moved from the stagnation danger point of 3500 megawatts fluctuating over the past years now to a steady movement of 7000 megawatts without spending same billions of dollars as it was in the recent past.  Very soon, the value of reforms will be conspicuous and yield for every Nigerian to benefit from when the existing multinationals, mediums, small and micro industries will continue to flourish unimpeded and new companies springing up. The young graduates and unemployed will have decent jobs. There will naturally be peace and security in the society.

No nation with conscious leadership will promote artificial growth which often collapses a few years later and all beneficiaries and their dependants will pay huge price of failure as they all collapse as consequences of fake structures.

In 80s and 90s, you had your own outfits and they were thriving. What state are they now?

Really, they are in bad shape because of the prevailing culture of impatience which was triggered by the growing corruption.  Every citizen became desperate to get rich quick at the expense of the company which gave them employment. There is often the idea of the cloning of the existing business which, unfortunately, don’t have life and often time, both companies, the original and the cloning one, collapse and become history.  Many multinationals were really sucked dry by industrial managers to invest the stolen wealth in non-productive sector.  A simple example is the investment into the housing sector by those with windfall of corruption; they invested into private housing project from peoples’  few people such as the agent to collect annual rents, a few hired artisans for occasional maintenance and payment of tenement rates to the government.  Unfortunately, tenants whose commonwealth have been cornered could not afford to pay rents and the entire affairs became stagnated, unproductive and unprofitable.

It is for this reason that wise nations will rather encourage regulated institutions and government departments, like city council to venture more into such sensitive social sector and related ones to stem down corruption and promote stability in the nation’s economy.

 If they are still surviving, what is your staying power?

Well, let me be honest with you that we have put the unusual resilience to keep alive a few of our initiatives, but the climate we had itched for is here when we can freely express our abilities to make some difference, not just to survive, but to make greater impact on the country’s economy in the coming years. We already have beautiful initiatives to promote; in the business sector, Hammersmith Projects Solutions Limited (HPSL) has acquired the dome housing technology which will provide alternative technology for the Nigerian housing sector, strong and reliable to cope with the growing hazards of climate change.  Houses in the Lekki axis for instance and similar areas in the country should be replaced with dome housing and new ones built with the technology which can withstand any tempest from hurricane, typhoon and tornados at whichever speed.  We have been very fortunate in most of the African countries that our underground soil topography has not been compromised by technological waning instruments testing, but the growing climate change will equally cause depression to every region and will be hitting hard on countries commonwealth that has been cornered, the investors developed several of such property 100% owned and pays just a with less safety-net. Dome housing is the future safest housing system globally to protect us from such growing natural disasters.

In our development sector, African Citizens Development Foundation (ACDF) has developed Lightup Africa (LAF) project f or the promotion of a powerful networking to facilitate micro entrepreneural development.  We are targeting about nine million Nigerians to establish 3000 micro enterprises for building strong network to be placed for the ongoing infrastructural facilities and continue to challenge and encourage governments at all levels to do more.

The unemployment rate has continued to soar; how best do you think government can tackle this?

As I explained earlier, there is need for stability in the national economy to be able to produce quality and decent jobs for the people.  Look here, it is not a right policy to ask every graduate, unemployed youth and adult to go and venture into business. These people need knowledge which only comes from years of experiences; this knowledge is never gained or earned through learning.  You must need to have roughened it out somewhere to be properly groomed for such challenges and no financial institution will ever risk a loan to such category of people except in few cases resulting from circumstances of birth.  But inadequate ventures with poor knowledge are such that pushed our economy into the recent recession. We have only been fortunate to have been endowed with honest economic managers this time around who maintain integrity to battle the recession. It would have been a complete crumbled economy by now.

That is the wisdom which I have noticed with the current country’s leadership; patience to allow the sick to recover over time, not losing hope on anyone; be it political associates, social or professional groups and the general society.  The society has been sick for too long, it requires reasonable period of patience of recuperation for total healing.

Another challenge for the government is to discourage private practices by all categories of workers, which is gravely destroying the culture of dignity of labour, increasing love for money, dishonesty to employers whether in the private or public sectors.  This is also the root causes of the failing economy; unnecessary competitions by those insiders who subsequently clone the existing businesses to create the lifeless new ones. Government must develop strong regulations to combat these challenges again with strong political will.

This country will soon experience economic buoyancy and great fortunes soon despite all the future global economic threats which have been forecast as economic T-junction coming up very soon.  Nigeria’s economy in the hands of selfless leadership will endure such forthcoming upheavals which will seriously affect the entire global economy.

You said you are currently working on the Lightup Africa project; what is it about?

Lightup Africa is the initiative of the African Citizens Development Foundation (ACDF) in partnership with the private sector players to revolutionise industrialisation not through war, but by genuine and determined evolution to evolve micro and small-scale enterprises to process our diverse natural resources purely for export markets to be able to earn hard currency and strengthen naira.  This will create millions of employments for our citizens, promote skills and offer services to various levels of the citizenry who will be our stakeholders.

Do you think Nigeria will be receptive to this programme because many Nigerians lost their investments in similar initiatives?

Nigerians should and they will definitely!  Our approach is very clear and simple, not the same as in the Pyramid (Ponzi) system which never and cannot provide equal opportunities for all their members.  Lightup Africa (LAF) is asking for one thousand naira from every Nigerian stakeholder as “Investment Donation” to invest on three thousand Nigerian entrepreneurs who will become Lightup Africa partners. The total financial commitment of our stakeholder is one thousand naira only.  These partners will serve the entire stakeholdersw with their products, offering discounted sales, gainful employment for stakeholders, marketing of products and accepting supplies of raw materials only from the stakeholders.

The stakeholders will be roundly served to compensate them severally fort their trusts of investment donation of that golden “One Thousand Naira”.

Our potential partners will have the responsibility to make referral of only ten stakeholders and earn 50% of the stakeholders’ Investment Donation. They can continue to make additional referrals to also continue to earn 50%.  At the threshold of three thousand stakeholders’downline their network, they will earn one million naira (N1,000,000) as start-up capital (not a loan) and will have access to additional loan up to N1 million at 6% interest rate. All our subsistence miners will earn 50% on all new mining of stakeholders under our partners’ network and they can receive their payments every week as source of regular income.

A stakeholder at the threshold of ten stakeholders’ referral becomes inaugurated Lightup Africa’s partners to manage its individual network from the beginning, and for life, so that every stakeholder will remain truly benefitted from the networking activities.

This token investment donation from our common patrimony will serve to help meet up with our national commitment towards the 2030 Social Development Goals (SDGs).  Every stakeholder will automatically have an electronic identification number obtainable from LAF portal at during registration with which he/she will be recognised by the network.

The African Citizens Development Foundation (ACDF) is an NGO in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations since 2009.

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