(Handwriting on the wall)
The visit of Mark Zuckerberg to Nigeria is a glad tiding memory, and a welcome development. Mark is simple outwards but gorgeous in mindfulness. A very serious and resourceful entrepreneur. The young Mark Zuckerberg was born on March 18, 1984 to a modest family in the US; a period Nigeria was going through military interregnum of General Muhammadu Buhari and General Tunde Idiagbon. This was the regime that punctuated the corrupt administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. It was a season of anomie and a period that witnessed the defilement of our collective lives by the Shagari administration; and his cohorts in the National Party of Nigeria-NPN. What a coincidence now that Mark Zuckerberg is visiting Nigeria at a time the country is fighting corruption; yearning for national cohesion, and a just society through President Buhari!
Meanwhile, Nigerian intellectual acuity is second to none in the global arena! Mark Zuckerberg’s company, Facebook which is also staffed by some brilliant Nigerians, is now one of the fastest growing social media companies in the world. Its global interconnectivity is bringing millions of people around the world more closer together. Problems are solved; more friendships are built through social interactions; relationships are cemented or strained; families are united or disunited; businesses are booming; governance is made easy; pretentious individuals are revealed, extremism and modesty are enhanced. People around the world can peep at one another effortlessly without incurring much financial burdens. The world has not remained the same again through global communication and social engineering.
In tech-parlance, anything that comes out from the Silicon valley, California changes the world. When we got the hint from the Silicon valley that Nigeria would soon be wooed by the top-notchers from the global investment community, I knew Nigeria will soon profoundly be a hub, and a destination for international trade and investment. Mark Zuckerberg is a smart and intelligent individual. He came to Nigeria to see things for himself, at a time the country is going through national reawakening, recession and economic uncertainty. His investment in our people and the economy will be mutually beneficial. He has opened Nigerian business firmament to other international investors.
Nigeria is a beautiful country with fertile human and material resources. A beleaguered nation still searching for moral rearmament and its true identity. The good thing about Nigeria in spite of her contradictions and political problems is that, some of its people are very resourceful, resilient, brilliant and crafty. It’s virtually and practically impossible for global investors to ignore Nigerian robust friendly and profitable business environment. A great but raped nation is currently undergoing intensive care under president Buhari’s administration in order to revive her lost soul.
The visit of Zuckerberg will ginger up other potential investors around the world to come to Nigeria to test market their products, or possibly establish their company’s corporate Headquarters in Nigeria. The chaotic business environment, the unrepentant and corrupt government officials in the past have been the bane of industrialization in Nigeria. The frustration of Virgin Atlantic to leave Nigeria few years ago was a nauseating experience in the dark days of the corruption-infested administration of Goodluck Jonathan. Virgin Atlantic in Nigeria should have been a good template for the then government to revive the moribund Nigerian Airways. It was a lost opportunity, Virgin Atlantic left the shores of Nigeria disgruntled and frustrated, and the country’s national careers died (un)resuscitated.
The revelation by the chairman of Virgin Atlantic, Mr Richard Charles Nicholas Branson on his experience in Nigeria was a damning exposition. The chairman of Virgin Atlantic said: “…we have virgin’s ill-fated footsteps by setting up a new airline in Africa in conjunction with Nigerian government…the details of the doomed attempts to crack the Nigerian market in the 2000s is better imagined…we put…together a very good airline-the first airline in West Africa that was ever IOSA/IATA operational safety audit accredited but unfortunately it got tied down to the politics of the country…we led the airlines for 11 years”.
According to Mr. Branson, ”We fought daily battle against government agents who wanted to daily make fortune from us, politicians who saw the government 49% as a meal to seek for all kinds of favour…watchdogs (regulatory body) that didn’t know what to do and persistently asking for bribes at any point…Nigerian people are generally nice but the politicians are very insane…that may be an irony because the people make up the politicians…But those politicians are selfish…we did make N3billion for the federal government of Nigeria during the joint venture…realising that the government didn’t bring nothing to the table/partnership except dubious debts by the previous carrier, Nigeria Airways…The joint venture should have been the biggest African carrier by now if the partnership was allowed to grow, but the politicians KILLED it…Nigeria is a country we SHALL NEVER consider doing business again..”
Corruption is cancerous to any business or governmental ventures, it has never allowed for meaningful growth and development anywhere. The previous administrations in Nigeria dignified corruption. It was also a norm, and a national identity. The current administration’s zero tolerance for corruption in Nigeria might open a new vista for a robust confidence in our unique business environment. Like we have often espoused, it’s a new dawn in Nigeria. Nigeria is a unique country with a unique people. Our communal hospitality to foreign investors and visitors is unmatched globally. Other areas of investment that are yet to be opened to the world are Tourism, Agriculture, Education, Human capital, and our rich, diverse cultural heritage. All these fertile areas in Nigeria are truly yet untapped for our common good. The likes of Mr. Branson of the business world, that have left Nigeria because of corruption may have to reconsider their decisions; and come back to explore the emerging incorruptible markets.
In retrospect, the shady and dubious investors like MTN of South Africa, the Econet of Zimbabwean national, and Strive Masiyiwa established their communication companies in Nigeria in collaboration with the then corrupt government of Nigeria. This was done to hoodwink unsuspecting but exhilarating Nigerians. The debut of these companies in Nigeria were purely profit/self-driven by their owners, and the Nigerian government. These companies initially duped the hapless people of Nigeria with their per minute charge of =N=50.00 use of airtime. The consumer protection agency was nonexistent at the time to advocate for the Nigerian consumers being duped. The deprived people of Nigeria were at the mercy of their new found communication made easy with their impoverished lifestyles. Billions of Naira profits were made by these companies at the expense of the Nigerian people.
At that time, everyone was a government of his/her own, competing with gullibility to use handsets whose prices were unbelievably high. It was appalling for a helpless country to be under the claws of military and civilian cartels for decades. These business cartels feasted on the pockets of Nigerians unrestrained. Those were the good old days for both the government and the rapacious communication companies who jointly raped our common wealth. It was also not uncommon to see these companies evading Nigerian taxes, or colluding with the government officials at the expense of the Nigerian masses to evade taxes. Local investors like Mike Adenuga’s Globacom came to checkmate these two foreign-African companies. Globacom broke their monopoly and forced them to reduce their exorbitant subscription or airtime price.
Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Nigeria is truly inspirational, motivational and graciously instructive. It will enhance the spirit of entrepreneurship and business practices amongst the emerging young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. His simplicity, sense of humor, business made easy approach and humanitarian gesture or humanism will inspire and motivate millions of young Nigerians. Zuckerberg’s simplicity and disposition to mundane or ephemerals in spite of his stupendous wealth should be a lesson to the Nigerian political clouts. Mark Zuckerberg has deconstructed life as a mere cosmos full of voids and nothingness, but, the lives we positively affect make life beautiful!
Predictably, in few years to come, if Nigeria is truly restructured, and corruption is killed, the dividends of this nascent democracy devoid of corruption may begin to come to fore. The country will begin to see true economic development. The handwriting is clearly written on the wall, only the incurable optimists with mindfulness can see the bountiful grace and the goodies coming to Nigeria. Zuckerberg is a tidbit of what will come to Nigeria. Nigerian dystopian future and the current state of hopelessness will soon be halted. But it is cautionary to note that the country must detach itself from the ugly past; jettison naughtiness and embrace common goals in order to attain the much touted state of utopia or the promised land.