by Farouk Martins Aresa
How big does multibillion businesses have to be before they started generating their electricity and foreign/hard cash? They must stop depending and blaming our unresponsive governments they control. Generate your foreign money like poor students, entertainers, sports figures. Start selling your surplus electricity back to national grid, right now, not in five years or in the future.
We have to thank God that finally Dagote and Chukwuma of Innoson motors are promising to generate foreign money and depend on local raw materials for their products. There are more of you out there like OBJ, Dantata, Otedola, Danjuma that have multibillion businesses but are still competing with little start-up companies for meager Government foreign reserve, national grid; not Panama accounts. Stop or give up your Central Bank foreign allocations and PHC/NEPA.
Certainly the gesture of Dangote and Chukwuma are the right moves in the right direction. Our fear is that all the promises made by African political and business leaders featured in blue prints were always postponed when it came to due date. We are so sick and tired of rosy road maps and plans that never materialized. Many of these companies except Innoson motors have been in business long enough to implement these promises right now.
However, Africans depend on government as the biggest employers and our big businesses depend on government for allocations from foreign reserves. It is important to note that for budding businesses and start-ups, this is expected. But once they started generating profits from sales inside and outside, they should source their own foreign money from their profits. Ikechukwu had to source dollars from oil companies, a historical first. Owo Abu nse Abu lalejo!
When Hubert Ogunde started entertaining us with our own culture for shillings in those days, most people never believed he would make money from what is now known as Nollywood! They are now one of the foreign currency earners in Nigeria. These young men and women achieved their success without depending on the governments for handouts, allocation from foreign reserves or crying for NEPA. Indeed, they built their own world of infrastructures.
So are our young students around the age of twenty-three while studying, also working to send money home to their parents and siblings: pumping foreign money into our local economy. If many of us knew what the hell it took to do this, we would not venture out of African countries. But when young men and (pregnant) women swear they are ready to die in the deserts than stay at home and suffer, we must examine how and who are the managers of our resources.
It is not western governments that make their countries rich, it is the people and the businesses they created worldwide selling goods and services that brought foreign riches to their countries. The roles of their governments are limited to laws, regulation and rules that further their effort and protect their existence. In some cases, these businesses are so jealously protected abroad to the detriment of ours. Enron was a case in point that defrauded some developing countries.
When Dangote goes to establish plants in African countries, he never complained about lack of infrastructures, electricity and water. Dangote made his own electricity, roads in and out of the jungles and created his own water. Indeed, in most cases he leveraged his own money from the profits of his companies in and out of that country. He does not have to wait for five years to do that in Nigeria. He can start right now. Rankadede!
Dangote self-reliance in other African countries is not unheard of. Some African companies and many foreign companies know it is good business. Oil companies usually generate their own electricity, roads, staff housing and schools. A few even extend social functions to neighboring communities close to their established oil companies’ villages or sell surplus power to national grid. Apart from generous “bush” allowance to staff, they just want to make them comfortable.
If we ask African businesses not to depend so much on governments, foreign big corporations that have been in Africa for ages making profits, have no reason sharing or asking for allocation out of the little government reserves which is much less than theirs. These are companies that paid less wages compared to foreign staff, get most of their raw materials locally and export declared and creative accounting profits out of Africa. Reinvestment of some profit is good biz.
We are not asking these companies to take over the responsibilities and functions of their local governments, we are only asking them to be responsible corporate citizens. They should not poison the well they drink from. If they can hold their noses long enough to make profits while here, they should not drain the governments’ foreign reserves. They can plough some profit in.
In essence we have Panama looters, local big businesses and foreign companies competing for the little and dwindling foreign reserves of countries overwhelmed with the basic needs of folks. They are vultures threatening jobs and meagre salaries paid, unless they get their lion profit out.
Some of the conditions laid down by Chukwuma are fair responsibilities of the Government. It is disgraceful that we have local auto plants but our government ministers and officials are driving vehicles whose makers have not contributed anything to the economy. Yet our producers of nothing and consumers of everything cannot wait to purchase these foreign cars with our hard earned reserves at the back of fishermen in environmental polluted swamps.
Right now in United States, the Government has introduced corporate inversion regulations to prevent their big corporate companies from dodging their taxable profits on paper by merging with small companies overseas while retaining their advantages in U.S.A. Making big companies accountable is the reason for government in the first place. Article on African inversion later.