Towards a Big, Ambitious Free Trade Agreement

Nigeria has one of the highest populations of young people between 18-36 in the world. Thus, the single biggest focus of Nigerian leaders should not be how to consolidate themselves in power, but how to convert her huge youth population from a consumer market to a producer market.

We may not be able to achieve that in one generation, but at least we can achieve being a prosumer nation in one generation. A prosumer nation is a nation that consumes what it produces.

I am fascinated by something JayZ says. He said, “I’m a business, man!” Now don’t get him wrong. He is not saying that he is a businessman. He is saying that he, JayZ, is a business.

And that is how we have to think in Nigeria. That is how you have to think in this knowledge worker age that we live in.

The traditional route to success: go to school, get a job, work your way to the top, is defunct. It is dead and it is buried.

A job cannot make you successful in the twenty first century. You must chart a new course to success. Some of Nigeria’s youth have graduated from university, many of them will soon graduate and some of you have just matriculated. Unless we either find jobs for these youths or tech them how to create businesses for themselves, things like 419, drug pushing, kidnapping, militancy and terrorism will continue because the devil find work for idle minds.

The purpose of education is not so youths can get jobs. Education is incomplete if the educated are only suited for a job. As a matter of fact, if you think your education ends the day you graduate then you will never be successful.
Many of us have parents that have one job or the other. Do you know that when your parents die, you cannot inherit their job?

As a matter of fact, as you are burying them, their company will be hiring someone younger than them to do their job.

But if those parents had their own business, whether it is small, medium or big, the fact is that that even if they die, you as their children will inherit the business.
You see, a job saps life from you while a business give you life and keeps on giving life to your children and their children.

What I am saying to Nigerian youths today is that they can be a success right where they are, whether in Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, Abeokuta or Enugu, in fact anywhere in Nigeria. Your location and your position is not as important in your success story as your disposition.

I want Nigerian youths to take a journey into themselves. Get to know yourself. God gave you gifts, talents and skills at birth not so that you can have hobbies, but so that you can turn them to businesses.

Imagine where the young Nigerian, Anthony Joshua, would have been if he made fighting a hobby instead of a business, or where MI Abaga would have been if he made rapping a past time rather than an enterprise or where Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would be if she wrote in her diaries instead of writing as a career!

As a youth, you do not have hobbies, you have gifts, talents and skills that were given to you by your Creator so you can develop them into something that the world is willing to pay to get.

I am writing today to tell you that irrespective of the recession in Nigeria, irrespective of the economic and political challenges that exist in our daily lives, you must know that tomorrow is full of opportunities. The three Os in tomorrow stand for opportunities!

Let me just tell you some of the opportunities available to you.

As of 2016, Lagos residents consume 3 billion worth of food daily. Most of that food does not come from Lagos. As I drive all around Nigeria I see big, medium and small farms. Big, medium, small and peasant farms.

All over Nigeria, if you plant almost any type of vegetable, it will grow. If you plant almost any type of grain, it will grow. If you plant almost any type of legume, it will grow.

Previous governments have ensured that there is a working train service from Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Abeokuta and virtually everywhere to Lagos.

Within walking distance from the railway terminus at Iddo, there is a market for all types of food.

I guarantee Nigerian youths that if they can participate in this agricultural value chain between where they live and Lagos, they will earn much more than any job can ever pay them.

Residents of suburban Nigerian states and cities are uniquely equipped to be entrepreneurs because they have what others need but you are not aware of it.

Beginning from right now, Nigerian youths must start to change their perspective. Do not go around complaining that this administration is bad because they do not give you jobs.

The biggest mistake our youths can make is to think that their success is tied to the government. No. It is the government’s success that is tied to them.

Start to develop yourselves. I know there are not a lot of libraries in various Nigerian cities, but most of you have smart phones. Use your phones not only for the pleasure of social media. Use your phones to download books. Many of them are free. Download books and read one book every week.

According to Forbes, one thing that successful people have in common is reading. When you read, it broadens your horizon and opens your eyes. You read about how others converted adversity to prosperity and it equips you with the knowledge you need to replicate their experience in your circumstance.

From their experiences, you learn not to spend money but to invest it. You learn how to delay gratification so that you can multiply your remuneration. You learn not to depend on a single source of income so that you are not at the mercy of occurrences like recession.

But above all, you learn that if they can do it. I can do it too.

However, I think Nigeria’s leaders misunderstand leadership. The aim of leadership is to understand your people not that they understand you.

The better a leader understands his or her people, the higher the likelihood of his success. Leadership is about the people.

Without the people there cannot be a leader, but without the leader, there will still be a people. The Israelites existed before they had Moses!

A leader who does not understand his people is redundant but a people who do not understand their leader are still very relevant!

Nigeria will not find being the Giant of Africa an advantage if we do not fix our foundation. A giant with a weak foundation is easy to defeat!

If I were President Muhammadu Buhari, I would have seen Brexit not just as another international phenomena, but as an opportunity to reach a Big Ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom especially now that she will soon be free of Europe for the purpose of filling the gap in British markets that Brexit will age is causing.

Almost every fruit that Britain imports from the European Union can be grown in the Kwara-Niger-Benue-Nasarawa-Plateau axis of Nigeria’s North central.

Advances in technology has made it possible to fly them cheaply and quickly between Nigeria and the U.K.

The time is far spent but there is still time to do this. But let me state that even if we do not get this BAFTA going, at least let us get going equipping our people to meet the internal demand for food in Nigeria without importing.

I mentioned that 3 billion is spent daily on food in Lagos. Well, almost half of that is spent on imported foods like rice, sugar and fish. Now what is it in rice, sugar and fish that we cannot produce in Nigeria?

We can produce and grow these food items in Nigeria if we mobilise our youth through education, motivation, enlightenment and awareness of the opportunities in meeting these needs.

• Murray-Bruce is the founder of the Silverbird Entertainment Group and the Senator Representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly

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14 replies

  1. Thank you sir… I love this


  2. Great article sir and thank you for all your contributions to nation building.

    Yes, investing in early education and the creativity and enterprise of youth is morally and economically expedient, as it is existential going by whole and youth population growth rate in Nigeria and indeed the rest of Africa.

    But it has to be led by ‘big shared ambition’ that over-arches narrow interests, perpetuated by the extensive patronage and loyalty networks to hold Nigeria back, to enable Nigerians access opportunities and truly empower ordinary Nigerians.

    The starting point has to be removing the many constraints that limit Nigerians and young Nigerians in particular; and creating the political, economic, socio-cultural and technological foundation to enable young people unleash their potential to benefit Nigerians, Nigeria, Africa and the world.

    This should be the focus of legislative agenda that you can lead in the NASS, to undo the many bottlenecks that obstruct critical paths to success by young people and to unlock value-chains in Nigeria that can integrate to regional and global economy.

    You would agree sir, that Anthony Joshua, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and others, would have been so limited by the constraints in Nigeria if they were in Nigeria.

    You can read more about my thoughts on empowering young people and re-positioning Nigeria, in my new book, “National Ambition Reconstructing Nigeria”. I sent you a copy a couple of months ago.

    Kind regards,
    Dr David Kieghe


  3. When the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable; not until the average Nigerian youth knows his or her worth, value and potentials; it can not be properly harnessed and commonsense will make no sense at all. thank you sir, for your words of wisdom and God bless you richly.

    I am Damingo Michael, S.


  4. I really need you get something across to you as it is urgent. You are doing Nigeria a fundamental disservice and don’t’ know it. I have been working in the City of London for 30 years as parter in a major firm ( the first Black partner in the City – you have not heard of me as I refused to be known as the first Black partner or take part in any publicity on that line. I said I wanted to be known as among the best advisers in the City!) advising some of the largest and most ambitious firms in the world from Tata to United Technologies to Kawasaki – so perhaps I am at least worth listening to.

    You offer simplistic analysis of the faults of Nigeria and this is disastrous!!! The problems are in fact incredibly difficult and pretending they are simple is disastrous. Any one can see the effects of the errors but that is not the same as identifying the cause!

    1. Privatisation:
    your comments here are way out of order – even the Nobel prize winners who promoted privatisation said ti was potentially dangerous and country destroying and you needed to put major regulatory institutions in place to prevent bad practice. Business do not just seek to make money they can also seek to manipulate markets so that other people or other countries will never be able to compete. You present Branson as a brilliant business man – you have I suspect never done close business with the man – he is a marketer, he puts his brand on businesses but does not know how to run them, Virgin mobile is ‘brand front’ built on EE, Virgin Media is brand front built on a large cable business and so on for railways etc … also Branson is a die hard racist … I have seen the documents shown to me by Holmes a Court when Branson tried to stuff Michael Jackson assuming Holmes a Court would be equally racist. So when Branson looked on Nigeria he looked on Nigeria as predator would ..particularly as we do not have decent regulatory processes. So to see foreign businesses as just out to make money is dangerous and ill informed. They can be predatory and do things to destroy our future capacity to compete. Peugeot stole money held two sets of books and set about ruining our dreams of a car industry – how do I know ? Because my uncle was deputy governor of CBN and instituted the investigation by then Coopers and Lybrand which uncovered their behaviour.

    2. Quotas
    So all Nigeria’s problems come about because of quotas? The EU insist on quotas for women , for country representatives inside the EU etc. Clearly the quota itself is not the issue is hiring incompetents . But you can hire incompetents without a quota! So why are you blaming the quota system when they don’t hire competents anyway? Doing away with quotas and hiring all new incompetents from ‘my’ part of the country does that help???

    3. Foreign corporations
    According to your world view all foreign corporations want to do is make money? Strangely neither US, UK nor France for a start believe that. Each of these countries will vet foreign corporations and monitor their behaviour and throw them out if they misbehave – but how other than making a profit can they misbehave according to you. Perhaps there is something you don’t know.

    4. What they think of Africa
    The boss of WPP (market value £21billion) Martin Sorrell told me to my face that ‘we western business men intended to starve Africa of capital and wait till it fell apart and then buy it all on the cheap. Unfortunately the Chinese arrived and messed that plan up’). So foreign businesses are capable of predatory behaviour , only regulation can constrain this, so if our legislators like you are blind to this risk …heaven help us all!

    5. Foreign advisers
    Many of our worst most disastrous policies were recommended by World Bank/IMF and foreign development consultancies. You seem unaware of their input into our decision making – or are they advising you now! It would appear so.

    Do I expect you to read this or listen? I would hope so but years of experience has taught me Nigerian policy makers listen only to what they want to hear so I would not in the least be surprised if you just deleted all this from your mind.

    Dapo Ladimeji


  5. An inspiring article .Oh! God thank you


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  1. How I wish young people will see Ben Murray-Bruce vision for them in this article | PITAKWA TIMES

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