THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUBLIC SECTOR CEOs IN THE NORTH AND THOSE OF THE SOUTH OF NIGERIA

Ego, pride , procrastination, sycophancy , banal bureaucracy, and empty “bigmanism” is the greatest undoing and baggage of some of us in the southern part of Nigeria.

We have an Investment Banking funding group based in Zurich Switzerland that we represent here in Nigeria and also help to cover the West coast for them.

Last month they called me up that there is this Funding group that have concluded plans to invest in frontier markets economy in Africa. They desire to take African investment risks . They specifically mentioned that they will prefer Nigeria and the beneficiary projects must be a Private Public Partnership structured projects arrangment with capacity to generate enough cashflow to ensure interest and principal repayment.

The fund is an African focused one with a tenor of 15 to 20 Years, 2 years interest repayment moratorium and all in annualized real interest cost of 5% per annum.

All that is required of the beneficiary projects is to post a 30% guarantee on the project value from a top 5 local bank. However , they needed to secure first a letter of Readiness, Willingness and Ability from any of the top 5 local bank in Nigeria to act as the local agent bank to the project so that they can queue them up to commence the processing. They did not require or asked for any confirmation from a foreign correspondent bank . They trusted the balance sheet of the top 5 local banks.

This fund is limited. It is concessionary in cost. It is first come, first serve. There are other competing projects from other countries in sub Sahara Africa. They kept me updated as the potential deal list grew . They urged me to fastrack the deals identification urgency so that we don’t get shut out . Ofcourse, we will earn our fees. It is not a father Christmas thing.

Three weeks ago, we were invited by the representatives and agents of a state in the Southern part of Nigeria to open discussion on how we can help them. To even tie the governor down for a ten minutes chat was a tug of war. This is a state that desire to secure hundreds of millions of US dollars for a key PPP project that will add value to her people.

This is three weeks after . To procure the RWA that will not cost the state anything. NOTHING. NO DIME COST became a burden of sisyphean proportion . We spent our monies , our time and resources to see them . Till today, it is long grammar. Everyone is only focused on making the cabinet list . Everyone is still playing politics. Business of governance is shut down. Nothing works. This is southern Nigeria .

NOW FAST FORWARD TO early this month of June, My good friend, Lauretta Chinenye Onoh, who speaks fluent Hausa, heard about this same funding arrangement and quickly activated her contacts in the North . By June 12, 2019, we were invited to meet two first time governors in the North in Abuja . They are yet to form their cabinet , but still willing to hit the ground running for the sake of their people.

I was mightily impressed at their speed and humility. No airs whatsoever. No long queue of aides or hangers on constituting a nuisance or trying to lay borders/fences of long bureaucracy. We did not fill any forms or be tossed from one aide to the other , who are only after what they will eat and drink.

In less than four hours after entering Abuja , We had several meetings with these great but humble leaders that are up and running. We were up till 2am the next day . I had to even shut down a social meeting with my former boss and MD/CEO of a bank just to keep up with the programs lined up for that evening .

I have not rested since I met one of these guys. I am under serious pressure to submit loads of proposals and agreements on the lofty things we are all working together on now . Knowledge is power and these guys appreciate solid ones. All they are after is the value you are bringing to the table and now how well you praise them or stand in their face. They need help to fulfil their promises to their people and seek for it passionately/urgently .

They even introduced us to their Northern brother , who is anchoring another PPP project for a FGN top agency These ones have already arranged a second meeting at our Head office in Ikoyi Lagos to meet with us . They are the ones pleading that we should pick a convenient date and time to meet with them in Lagos. These are men , who are serious and understand what business of governance is. These are men in the mould of Peter Obi, who flew in to South Africa to plead with SB Miller to come to Anambra. A leader who sees governance as serious business. One who understands and appreciates the values of time in monetary terms.

The same terrible attitude of the southern political leadership is demonstrated on how they have participated in the CBN anchor borrowers funding scheme .

In 2015-2016, all the South East states got N300million from CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme while a State in the North (Kebbi state ) alone got N22billion for Rice under a PPP arrangements.

This is not marginalization.

While Northern States paid counterpart funding and partnered CBN on direct disbursement under unique schemes. The immediate past Imo state government refused to pay because they couldn’t control the disbursement. They refused to pay because they were not allowed to hijack the funds and divert it like they did with the bailouts funds for pensioners . Today Imo is owing over N57billion in pension arrears.

I want to reinterate it again for the umpteenth time that smart leaders go all out to solicit for help. Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar , realised this, and sought for the help of Joseph , Daniel, Shedrach and Abadnego. It was not the other way round.

NOW, we are under pressure from these great guys and Lauretta to quickly fast track the process to deliver , unlike the Southern folks , who erroneously assumes and think that it is a privilege for helpers to help them. Can you just imagine .

We have the best of human capital, resources and contacts within and outside to fix ala Imo . We must fix the South east . We must fix Ala Igbo holistically. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we fail to do the right things . We can’t continue to marginalise ourselves and then turn around to blame the oligarchs .

God help us

OBIARAERI, Nnaemeka Onyeka

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