By Austin Okere
I first wrote this article on April 03, 2017, exactly three years ago. I feel compelled to share it again, as I believe that it is even more relevant today in this challenging circumstance; where nothing short of Visionary Leadership and a deep sense of Community and Resilient Followership is needed to steer our nation along this rocky path and to the other side of the wave.
“The thing about winning and losing is that they are both self-reinforcing.” …Austin Okere
The Gunners as a metaphor
As an Arsenal football club fan, how do I convince anybody that the team is good or that coach Arsene Wenger is doing a good job, given the long spate of trophy draught and inexplicable losses in the current season both in the English Premier league and the Champions league?
The mentality of winning and losing – the Tyson effect
Winning reinforces your self-confidence and instils an inherent mythical fear in your opponents. The whole team is energized and ready for the next win. Losing on the other hand, engenders a loss of confidence and a significant level of demystification, inviting all manner of opponents to fancy their chances at you, as happened when the erstwhile unbeatable heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson lost to a lowly challenger, Buster Douglas in 1990 in Tokyo, Japan.
This was followed by a string of losses leading to a less glorious retirement, highlighted by his biting off the ear of an opponent, Evander Holyfield, during a boxing match. Thus, was dimmed a golden opportunity of going down in history as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.
Reversing the pattern – Leicester City FC finds her magic
Taking the steps required to reverse your losing spree and shifting into a winning mentality restores your lost glory, seemingly obliterating the past string of losses e.g. Leicester City Football Club; after parting ways with coach Claudio Ranieri (ironically the same coach that propelled them to the dizzying heights of winning the English Premier League title last year) have suddenly become unstoppable again; beating the better rated Spanish side, Sevilla FC for a place in the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Champions League. Even as first timers, they are the only English team still flying the British flag where great teams such as Manchester City and Arsenal have crashed out.
Winning is ‘In spite of’; Losing is ‘because of’ – the Usain Bolt determination
A loser’s mentality is strongly underpinned by a culture of excuses; finding ‘very good’ reasons why you didn’t make it, or why you lost; as if this will magically convert the loss into a win. An earful of balderdash at best.
A winner’s mentality on the other hand, is centred on ‘making it’ in spite of all odds. A very good example being Usain Bolt, who not only holds the world record for the fastest human dead or alive, but also winning three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4X100m races in three consecutive Olympics; Beijing (2008), London (2012) and Rio (2016) – Now, that is a winner with a strong winning mentality.
Believe me, it is never a walk in the park. He knew what he had to do when overconfidence brought an embarrassing loss to his training partner and competitor Johan Blake. Blake beat Bolt to second place in both the 100m and 200m at the 2012 Olympic trials in Jamaica, and this was just about a month to the London Olympics.
Just imagine the pressure that Bolt would have felt. In the beginning he resorted to excuses; he blamed the 100m loss on a poor start, and the 200m on a poor bend. Realizing that a golden dream was evaporating before his eyes, he quickly faced reality in his following statement capturing his renewed attitude “it’s all about work and just needing to get my things together and get it right. I’ve got to get in the work and figure out what I did wrong”.
And with that he got himself in shape in time to win both events at the London Olympics. He did work very hard and deserved the results and his place in history (watch the documentary on him titled ‘I am Bolt’).
The Nigerian Super Eagles – Our ‘Invincible’ of old
I remember with nostalgia when all the immigration officers in the countries that I visited in the 1990’s became very friendly upon sighting my Nigerian Passport, reeling the names of our Super Eagle players and asking me if I knew them; Jay-Jay, Kanu, Amuneke, Keshi, Okewchukwu, Taribo, Oliseh, Rufia, Amokachie, Yekini, Siasia, Ikpeba and the host of others .
These were the glory days of Nigerian soccer, where other teams’ reverence of our players conferred on us very deep respect as a country. Not so these days; we have managed to get ourselves stuck in a losers’ mentality to the extent that ‘the giant of Africa’ did not even qualify for the last edition of the African Nations Cup in Gabon this year.
We managed to win the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, but who remembers, after the unbelievable story of our players being stranded in America and arriving only hours before their opening match; what manner of organization?
The headlines in the global media were enough to make every Nigerian bow their heads in shame. The Mirror succinctly captured it thus “Nigerian Olympic football team stranded in Atlanta hours before first game after unpaid flight bill”.
You did not need to read the body of the copy to see how shoddy our organization could be. How can we aspire to Gold with this attitude?
We need the right attitude to aspire to greatness – the China and Dubai examples
Countries like the UAE did not attain their heights by sudden flight, but rather toiled over the midnight candle while other less ambitious ones floundered, more so the ones with more human and natural resources and much more potential. They have keyed into a certain winners’ mentality that sees them breaking record after record.
For instance, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the whole world. A trip to Dubai will convince you beyond doubt about how seriously they take themselves, and how seriously everybody takes them. China is another story. For over three decades, China has had the world’s fastest growing major economy.
The country is in the midst of urbanization on an unparalleled scale. With more than 1.3billion citizens, China is the world’s most populous country. Until the late 20th century, most of her citizens lived in rural areas. Within a 50-year span, the percentage of city-dwellers rose from 13 to 50%.
On a recent visit with my wife, we could only marvel at the scenic beauty of the West Lake area of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province. Our Chinese tour guide, Mr. Forrest informed us that the plan of the Government was to lift a third of the population into the millionaires club within the next 10 years.
Without power, we have not even started – the Murtala Mohammed Airport blues
Africa is called the Dark Continent for a reason; it is ‘literally’ pitch dark when you fly overhead at night, due to the dearth of electric power. The sound track of Lagos, and indeed many Nigerian cities is the din of generators coughing up smoke into the already polluted environment, making the ban on public smoking of tobacco quite superfluous.
From reliable reports, our International Gateway, Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) has had to rely on candle lights more than once, due to power outage (and unbelievably, failure of the Generator secondary source).
To tell it the way it is, MMA being the first and last impression of a visitor to Nigeria is either a misrepresentation, or a sad commentary on us as Nigerians. The non-functioning escalators over many years, projects us as a set of very unserious people.
How complex is the technology and what will it take to fix it? The drive from the airport to the foot of the Third Mainland Bridge that takes you into the commercial business districts of Victoria and Lagos Islands could qualify as one of the most uninspiring airport rides in the world – again, can this not be fixed; Really? A famous Irish proverb that says ‘nodding the head does not row the boat’ seems to sum this up.
Are we passionate about our country – should we be?
Is it true that passion is something you value more than your life? Something you are willing to die for? If so, are we passionate about Nigeria? Should we be? Are other nationals passionate about their countries? Growing up in Ghana, my motherland, I really felt very passionate about her, as I believe were the sentiments shared by my other classmates.
The Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, Americans and all the places we love to flock to are very passionate about their countries and will gladly use their talents to help her to win; be it at the Olympics or the World Cup.
Many a times our Athletes and Players have made money a precondition; and who can blame them? The experience seems to suggest that the officials bail with the money immediately after the games. The objective all round seems to be the money rather than the glory for country.
Epilogue – where we should be headed
As a country, we have the complete ingredients for success; human, mineral and material resources in abundance. What we need are people that can dream and turn the dream into an executable plan. Execute and live the dream. Dubai has proved this theory, we just need to follow the path to success.
We have to strongly shun the temptation to try to ‘win by shortcuts’. Imagine that Nigerians lost a whooping N18b ($45m) to the MMM Ponzi scheme, despite many warnings by the Central bank.
This is not the first time and unlikely to be the last time we embark on such get-rich-quick misadventure. We flock to all manner of religious centres and shrines looking for money doubling miracles instead of putting in brainpower and manpower towards our endeavours.
As Mary Robinson said, nobody can go back to create a new beginning but anybody can start today to create a new ending. This is what we must do as a country. Everybody needs to put in the disciplined hard work and dig into our inner recesses to find our own winning ways! We need to start in earnest to develop and sustain the serious mentality of a winner.
We need to genuinely create an enabling environment underpinned by peace and security that nurtures prosperity for all, rather than all for a cabal.
This is our chance – the tide in the affairs of Nations
“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures”. This is the admonition of Brutus to Cassius in William Shakespeare’s epic, Julius Caesar.
Nigeria today is presented with such an opportunity. The current economic challenges after decades of squander and squalor have presented us with the golden opportunity of a reality check devoid of the distractions of easy oil money. This difficult period is too painful to waste. We must seize the opportunity for a reawakening, and realign towards doing the right thing and cultivating a winning mentality. If not now, then when? If CWGnot you, who?
Austin Okere is the Founder of CWG Plc, the largest ICT Company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange & Entrepreneur in Residence at CBS, New York. Austin also serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Business School Network, and on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Innovation and Intrapreneurship. Austin now runs the Ausso Leadership Academy focused on Business and Entrepreneurial Mentorship
NIPOST Workers Threaten Strike Action over Stamp Duty
Workers of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) have given 21 days for the federal government to intervene on the alleged “usurpation of her function and duties” by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The workers under the auspices of Senior Staff of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) in Abuja Thursday, said printing of stamp duties by FIRS, a statutory duty carried out by NIPOST, is unacceptable.
Comrade Ayo Olorunfemi, general secretary of SSASCGOC, , told journalists in Abuja that the federal government must bring together all the stakeholders to resolve the issue to avert the industrial action at the expiration of the ultimatum.
Olorunfemi frowned at the situation whereby FIRS has decided to take over the production of stamps which led to many Nigerians to stop purchasing adhesive stamps from NIPOST.
According to him, the union may seek legal redress on the situation which he said could cause about 15, 000 workers to lose their jobs.
“To this end, we are calling on the federal government to facilitate an urgent meeting between NIPOST, FIRS, SSASCGOC, and other stakeholders in order to arrive at an amicable resolution. Failure to do this within 21 days from Thursday, July 9, 2020, we shall have no other option than to direct all our members in NIPOST to withdraw their services.
“It is very painful that while other nations are protecting and developing their postal services and making maximum use of the services for advancement, Nigeria is busy doing things that will kill its own.”
Nigeria Develops Diagnostic Kit for COVID-19
Nigeria’s efforts at developing solution to the challenge of non-availability and high cost of coronavirus diagnostic kits have finally paid off with the development of RNASwift Extraction kit.
This was disclosed by Prof. Alex Akpa, director-general of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), on Thursday during a news briefing held at the conference room of Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Abuja.
He said the RNASwift test kit would not only revolutionalise Africa’s PCR-Based COVID-19 testing, but will also expand the capacity by 50 times at least.
Akpa also said it would equally reduce cost by over 500 per cent as compared to the conventional kit in use.
“This meets the demands of the Test Africa Initiative. The kits will be produced in Nigeria, which is great news considering that it will enable preference to be given to the testing needs of Africa.
“The need for the invention was conceived by the request from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), to test five million farmers and farm hands.
“This was to ensure that our food security chain was not compromised by COVID-19,’’ the D-G said.
According to him, the RNASwift test kit is an indigenous diagnostic test kit designed, developed and validated in Nigeria for the identification of the causal agent, SARS-Cov-2, which causes COVID-19.
He noted that the diagnostic kit is “very accurate and sensitive’’ and competes favourably with conventional and commercially available kits for the diagnosis of COVID-19.
“This is in addition to a careful choice of reagents that are human and environmentally friendly in the development of the protocol for the diagnostic kit.
“In fact, the attributes of the RNASwift kits make it a game changer in the design and production of diagnostic kits for infectious diseases in the face of an epidemic or a pandemic,’’ Akpa said.
He further said that the project was made possible due to the scientific collaboration between the NABDA, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).
Prof. Akpa added that the technical support team of University of Sheffield, led by Dr Alison Nwokeoji, also made the project successful.
In his speech at the briefing, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of Science and Technology, recalled that the first index case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria on Feb. 27.
Onu said he had tasked Nigerian scientists to come up with a solution with the sum of N36 million pledge.
The Minister said Nigerians were creative and talented enough to develop home grown solutions to major challenges confronting the country, Africa and the world, with the RNASwift test kit as an example.
“Today, the RNASwift extraction kit developed by Nigerian scientists has capacity in an accurate, sensitive and affordable cost to detect SARS-Cov2, the causative agent of COVID-19.
“With the RNASwift test kit, we are going to test five million farmers, and the new test kit will reduced cost drastically,’’ Onu said.
He hinted that the African Development Bank was interested in it, not only as Test Africa Initiative, but that Nigeria should be the rallying point.
Similarly, he said the other African countries stood to benefit from the test kits due to the low cost.
The minister commended NABDA and said the agency had not only made the Ministry proud but Nigeria as a whole.
Alhaji Sabo Nanono, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the test kit invented and developed was very critical to the present situation of insufficient test kits.
He said the FMARD was in the forefront when it came to food security, adding that with the invention and successful validation of the test kit, it was time for Nigerians to look inwards.
“We have talents and we need to develop and build on these talents, we will realise our target of testing five million farmers and Nigerians would be proud of this test kits,’’ Nanono said.
He applauded NABDA for the project, saying the success of the test kit was a milestone recorded in the FMST.
Speaking to newsmen on the sideline of the briefing, Dr Rose Gidado, Scientist and Deputy Director at NABDA, said the day was remarkable and historic for the agency, the ministry as well as Nigerians.
She said the new test kits could test more than 20,000 people a day but if more testing centres were set up, it could go up to 50,000 with automation.
The Scientist added that the need to test more Nigerians was necessary in order to isolate and treat.
BHM Founder, Ayeni Adekunle to Speak At 2020 Phyllion Tech PR Conference
Ayeni Adekunle, founder and ceo of Nigeria’s leading Media and Public Relations company, BHM, has been confirmed to speak at the 2020 Phyllion Tech PR Conference.
First-of-its-kind in the Public Relations Space, Phyllion Tech PR Conference, comes on the heels of the enduring disruptive technology which has impacted business operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, greatly altering the norms.
Themed “Embracing Technology Transformation in Africa, What Next”, the event, organised by Phyllion & Partners, a Tech PR consulting firm in Lagos, is scheduled to hold virtually on Friday, July 17, 2020.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Ayeni said, “I’ve always spoken about the importance of Nigerian companies embracing technology to transform not only their operations but the Nigerian landscape and I’m glad platforms like the Phyllion Tech PR Conference are championing the cause ensuring we set a lot of these theories in motion.”
The BHM Group has pioneered several tech-centred initiatives in the Nigerian PR sector, one of them being the BHM App, which serves as a pool of resources for Nigerian public relations practitioners and is credited as the “first PR mobile application”.
He is also the founder of two of the industry’s most innovative companies: ID Africa, and Plaqad.
Ayeni is a member of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Chartered Institute of Public Relations UK (CIPR).
He is also a member of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), the world’s largest PR professional body.
He sits on the board of many companies, including 618 Bees, F316 Consulting and PinPoint Media.
Other speakers at the event include Tosin Faniro-Dada, Head Start-Ups, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Funmilola Eniolorunda, COO, Venture Garden Group, Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO Big Cabal Media, and Ify J. Afe, Managing Director and District Manager, HP INC. (Central Africa) to name a few.
Temi Ophylia Ibekwe, Founder Phyllion & Partners, says, “We recognize the role that technology plays in helping companies achieve set objectives.
“The importance of the Phyllion Tech PR Conference is to bring industry leaders, thought-leaders, key influencers, and major stakeholders together to discuss the future of technology in Africa.
“ It aims to chart the future of African tech through conversations on how businesses now and in the future can leverage technology to drive transformation in Africa. This is why we are excited to be hosting industry experts like Ayeni Adekunle.”
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