As the new Governor of Ondo state kicks off his administration. It is imperative that he hits the ground running to avoid the miscues made in the early life of the APC led Federal government.
I have outlined here what I believe the government should take on as a matter of urgency to reposition the sunshine state.
- Recruit experienced technocrats: While political patronage is important he should not put it above experience, competency and qualifications. In the end, no one will remember those that were patronized politically, all fingers will be pointed at the governor. The Governor, an accomplished lawyer and a very brilliant one at that could not be truly regarded as one who has had much public experience as well as private business exposures. Aside from his short stint as Attorney General of the state from 1997- 1999 he has never been in government before. This may be immaterial for someone with a strong leadership and management skills as long as he surrounds himself with experienced and competent hands.
- Deploy a lean governance model: The deployment of the lean governance model will have a greater impact on the overall governance and bottom-line. To do this the governor needs to:
- Improve governance process capabilities in delivering services.
- Reduce non-value-added activities and waste in governance processes, for example merging ministries and parastatals that have duplicate functions.
- Foster cross-functional and team-based approaches to problem solving.
- Empower employees at all levels to participate in improving the business of governance.
- Establish a common philosophy and language across the state.
- Thinking for a Change: As I have consistently mentioned to several people around me, thinking is one of the major part of Nigeria’s leadership problem. Thinking is hard work and only few engage in it. The Governor and his team should start thinking for a change, they should, as John Maxwell puts it, start seeing the wisdom of big picture thinking, discovering the joy of creative thinking and releasing the power of strategic thinking. They should start thinking of the next generation instead of the next election. They should also ask themselves, which type of thinking they believe will increase our odds for success?
- Small thinking or big picture thinking?
- Scattered thinking of Focused thinking?
- Restrictive thinking or Creative thinking?
- Fantasy thinking or Realistic thinking?
- Random thinking or Strategic thinking?
- Limited thinking or Possibility thinking?
- Impulsive thinking or Reflective thinking?
- Popular thinking or Innovative thinking?
- Solo thinking or Shared thinking?
- Selfish thinking or Unselfish thinking?
- Wishful thinking or Bottom-line thinking?
Hard Thinking is very strategic to the governor’s success.
- Produce more Entrepreneurs: Any policy centered on creating employment through the government payroll is like putting band aid on a gunshot wound. Aside from massive direct investment in industrialization nothing else come close to a well thought out entrepreneurship policy. Entrepreneurs are massive wealth creators. They not only create wealth for themselves, they also create the wealth that generates the taxes that fund public services. The governor should as a matter of urgency put in motion policies that will turn the cities of Akure, Ikare, Ondo, Ore and Owo to start -up hubs .The opportunity for entrepreneurs to thrive is the foundation for a rising economy, a robust middle class, security and stability and broad based prosperity. The youths need to be taught about opportunity recognition and idea generation.
- Expand the options in Energy Mix: Nigeria has one of the lowest net electricity generation per capita in the world. One source of energy cannot reverse this trend. The concentration on only one source of power has not changed our situation. In some parts of the state, they have not had electricity in over two years. How can development happen in such places? Why would people migrate to such areas? The government should work in partnership with the private sector and start harnessing the opportunities in solar and wind energy. This will bring more options in the energy mxx. Only an ambitious, aggressive and achievable long-term road map for increasing the options in the energy mix can solve the epileptic power problem.
- Improve and digitized the state internal revenue agency: The state board of internal revenue should be upgraded and digitalized for optimum performance. This should not be rocket science. They should start by eliminating crude collection of taxes, promotion and support for small business, eliminate duplication of taxes and introduce an efficient Appeal Process. An effective, fair and efficient internal revenue system will no doubt lead to increase in revenue generation.
- Harness the agro dollars in agriculture: With the right polices and political will, the state and its people can be empowered through agriculture. To achieve this, agribusiness financing and training must become an integral part of the state government’s economic policy. The state government should come up with a framework that incentivizes farming as well as encourages the teeming youth to start engaging in agribusiness. This will be a great start. The state’s ministry of agriculture should be mandated to create desk offices that will educate and assist its citizens on the various financing programs available through the CBN, BOA and BOI.
- Take DAWN serious: The Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) represents a positive platform for developmental collaboration for the southwest region of Nigeria and its high time state governments begin to commit more to it. It provides a forum in which government can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to their common problems. No economy will develop without innovation. DAWN can strengthen the region’s economy by helping business become more innovative, productive and competitive. I have read the strategy framework, it’s detailed and all-encompassing and I see no reason why any state governor regardless of political alignment will not buy into it. The strategy framework contains strategies and processes for regional integration, cross boundary development as well as economic development which every state including Ondo state can reap from. The state can also engage and gain from DAWN’s several economic research and resources. The earlier the state governors start seeing and funding DAWN as a think-tank institution the better for them.
- Improved Effective Regulations: Regulation is very necessary in a competitive, dynamic economy rooted in the rule of law. Yet it must be smart, balanced and implemented holistically with the health of the economy in mind. A strong, well designed rule sends a signal to the private sector and can be a crucial driver of innovation. Effective regulation can provide a strong support for meeting the state’s economic challenges. An effective and efficient regulation policies and enforcement in the areas of health, forestry, transportation, building and construction will not only increase revenue for the state but will also ensure law and order.
- Focus on LDIs: Over the past decade, Nigerian government officials have acquired great admiration for foreign direct investment, also known as FDI. There has been a lot of junketing abroad, supposedly to attract FDIs into the country. There is a need to gear up efforts towards local direct investment (LDI), a more measurable and more impactful investment from a country’s own investors and entrepreneurs. To grow the state’s economy, we have to look inwards. Charity they say, begins at home. In some situations, LDI creates the environment for inflow of FDI. In this case, government officials would not need to crisscross the world to attract investment. But if domestic investment is not vibrant, foreign direct investors will overlook such market. To evolve the culture of sustainable LDI, the state government must support small- and medium-sized enterprises, ensure that the local investment climate is conducive for local businesses, and there has to be concerted efforts to invest in soft and hard infrastructure. The local economy will benefit from every naira spent locally. As an instance, imagine the government succeeds in persuading some of Nigeria’s top companies like Nestle Foods, Cadbury to site operations in Ondo State. They are all looking for expansion in the right and conducive locations.
- Agency for Social Enterprises: A country with a myriad of social ills like ours deserve a vibrant social economy that can solve its social problems. Our social economy can only be revolutionized by innovative and creative social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs establish social enterprises which solve a social problem and create jobs at the same time. In the UK, government data estimates that there are approximately 70,000 social enterprises in the UK contributing £18.5 billion to the UK economy (based upon 2012 Small Business Survey, 2013) and employing almost 1 million people.The state government should as a matter of exigency develop a social enterprise strategy framework that will set in motion the development of the social sector. Recently, the province of Manitoba in Canada launched its Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy tagged “A strategy for creating jobs through social enterprise”. The 28 page document emphasized the importance of social enterprises to Manitoba’s economy. In November 2014 Nova Scotia, another Canadian province drafted its Social Enterprise Strategy framework. The document highlights the strategy and framework needed to grow the province’s social sector.One of the profound economic development benefits that social enterprises provide to society is that often, its services are directed to the very poor.
- Establish A Sovereign Wealth Funds: The state government is presently facing massive cash crunch due to the sharp decline in oil prices. The state has for decades depend solely on the revenue from oil sales. Ondo state and others send their representatives to the federal capital every month to collect their share of the monthly allocations. This is not different from a welfare package.The governor should immediately draft a bill to set aside a portion of the state’s revenue to a SWF which I like to christen the Sunshine Trust Fund. This will force the state into developing a saving culture and saving for rainy day. Alberta, an oil rich Canadian province established its Heritage Trust Fund (HSTF) in 1976. At inception, the fund received 30 per cent of Alberta’s non-renewable resource royalties. It was worth $17.5 billion as of March 31, 2014 according to the Alberta government’s 2013-2014 annual report. Alaska’s Permanent Fund was established the same year as Alberta’s Heritage Fund. At least 25 percent of all mineral lease rentals, royalties, royalty sales proceeds, federal mineral revenue-sharing payments and bonuses received by the state are placed in a permanent fund. The Fund grew from an initial investment of $734,000 in 1977 to approximately $53.7 billion as of July 9, 2015.Texas’ Permanent School Fund is a sovereign wealth fund which serves to provide revenues for funding of public primary and secondary education in the US state; as of the end of fiscal 2014, the fund had an endowment of $36.3 billion. The executive and legislative arm of the state should see this is an economic issue
- Invest in Infrastructures: From Akoko to Akure, Idanre, Ore, Okitipupa, Ondo town, Ilaje and Ese Odo, the dearth of the state’s infrastructures is unimaginable. Poor roads network, dilapidated schools and hospitals, lack of sporting facilities, lack of broadband internet access and many more. The infrastructure deficit is alarming. Investing in infrastructures is a great multiplier, a naira spent on infrastructure leads to an outcome of greater than two naira and for a state like Ondo it may even be more. The state will be better positioned to attract investments when this is done. Top performing economies like California, Singapore, China, South Korea and Taiwan owe their economic successes in part to infrastructure investments. Massive investments in schools, libraries, and Sporting facilities will go a long way in adding value to the life of its citizens.
While the governance or the success of the state governor is not limited to the above, it will no doubt turn around the state. The state is stagnant. As an indigene and investor in the state I see its potentials untapped. The state’s only economy at present is more or less centered on its timber business and the civil service.
The governor should roll his sleeve and get to work. He will however need more than competent and capable hands to achieve the above, he needs political will.