(By Michael Ebbi)
“Our value proposition should be built around products/produce that will help majority enjoy the benefits of having a competitive advantage. Imagine what our county would be like if we made as much from agriculture as we did from oil. Well I can only imagine this if “all things being equal” in the sense that revenue made from oil is distributed evenly. How can we harness our value proposition in a country that is politically unstable? I sometimes imagine what the future holds for our children! What time do leaders have to critically think when party affiliations and political positions are of top most priority for them?”
THE recently held 19th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit left me pondering on what exactly makes up our value proposition as a nation. Growing Agriculture as Business to Diversify Nigeria’s Economy was the theme of the summit. It was the welcome address by the chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Foluso Philips, which initially aroused my interest. In that speech read in the presence of President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s Value Proposition was mentioned repeatedly; so I longed to understand our value proposition and how we as a people could harness them. These thoughts lingered on my mind during the three days I served as Rapportuer at the event.
As a business strategist, it is easy for me to quickly relate value proposition with customer satisfaction and their expectations from suppliers. In which case a business aims to use its products and services to create benefit for customers such as social gains, functional utility and cost savings. However, a lot comes to mind when I try to relate value proposition from the perspective of what a country has to offer his people, neighbours and the world at large. The mono-economic nature of our economy has no doubt beclouded the minds of our leaders (for over 39 years) to understand what truly constitutes our value proposition and how they could be sustained. One begins to wonder when this cloud of oil will disappear; particularly when the baton of leadership revolves around the same generation that misplaced our identity. Discovery of the black gold suddenly changed our perception to agriculture and thus our sense of reasoning. In the light of this, farming and other forms of agriculture are perceived to be an activity for the poor or the less privileged. It is ironical from an economist’s viewpoint that prosperity associated with crude oil is yet to trickle down evenly to the majority. If this is the case, then we are most blinded in our thoughts to think that agriculture is an activity solely for the poor and the less privileged.
Where are the groundnut pyramids? Where are the cocoa plantations? The sugarcane farms! Where are the rubber fields? What are we doing with the excess pineapples? Oranges! Cassava and Palms! In all these and more lies our value proposition. We as a people have embraced subsistence farming to the point that we pride ourselves in our ability to meet domestic consumption. That is truly fallacious! Nigeria is a “giant importer” of food and until the leaders of our nation become disciplined about harnessing the opportunities outside oil, then can they make smarter choices as to areas to allocate resources in growing agriculture as a business. Resources should be allocated across the entire value chain from production until products reach either the domestic or the international consumers. Allocating resources across the agriculture value chain would mean investing in capital intensive projects that would enhance production, storage or distribution.
Our value proposition should be built around products/produce that will help majority enjoy the benefits of having a competitive advantage. Imagine what our county would be like if we made as much from agriculture as we did from oil. Well I can only imagine this if “all things being equal” in the sense that revenue made from oil is distributed evenly. How can we harness our value proposition in a country that is politically unstable? I sometimes imagine what the future holds for our children! What time do leaders have to critically think when party affiliations and political positions are of top most priority for them?
With due respect to participants, the 19th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit would have no impact if we choose to politically sabotage our nation rather than ideologically drive our value proposition. For instance, less than 14 days after the summit, six ministers including one that played a crucial role at the summit was removed from office. Such change is unhealthy particularly when sparked by political motives rather than performance or ideological differences. Our leaders spend so much time scheming on how to dominate and suppress fellow countrymen rather than scheming on how to dominate the environment to produce optimally.
At this point, we cannot wait any longer! It is time we took our destiny in our own hands and stopped waiting for the Messiah in a president. It starts with a change of mindset towards agriculture and the understanding that farming is viable and our heritage. This is a wakeup call for the younger generation of which I belong, to tread differently from the older generation. We cannot continue to think like them because if we do, our children will also dread to follow in our steps. What a shame that would be!
By: Michael Ebbi.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”