Tuesday, 25 April 2017

PALAVER TREE COMMENTARIES: Resolving The Controversy Over JAMB — Niyi Akinnaso

By Niyi Akinnaso
For the past few years, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has been in the eye of the storm, facing sharp criticisms from the constituencies it was set up to serve, namely, candidates seeking admission to the nation’s tertiary institutions; the parents and guardians of the candidates; and the tertiary institutions themselves, especially the universities. As a result, the Board’s cherished motto–Service and Integrity–is under assault. In this essay, I examine the nature of the problem; X-ray the proposed solutions; and suggest ways of accomplishing the desired change.

The problem
JAMB has been facing three major problems, among others. First, the exam body is empowered to perform functions beyond its capacity. From processing admissions for only about 25,000 candidates, and only for a few universities, when it was established in 1978, JAMB now processes admission for well over one million candidates for all tertiary institutions in the country.

This has led to two major problems: One, many of JAMB’s functions, including issuing letters of admission, put the Board in direct conflict with the higher institutions, because they trample on the authority of the institutions to recruit their own students and set their own guidelines for admission. Two, JAMB has had to outsource major duties to technical partners–banks, IT specialists, and other third parties–over which it has little or no control.

Second, the failure of these partners to deliver, often due to manpower shortage, power failure, and Internet connectivity problems, automatically translates to JAMB’s failure. Without a doubt, there is an infrastructure problem in this country, which makes online transactions extremely frustrating. With poor mobile telephone networks and epileptic power supply, it is difficult to get voice calls through not to speak of successfully completing e-transactions. Yet, JAMB has adopted the online platform for the entire registration process, leading to candidates’ frustration with banks, cybercaf├ęs, Computer Based Test centres, and JAMB itself.

Third, JAMB suffers from its own administrative lapses, inadequate planning, and poor judgement, by developing or adopting new policies, either shortly before a new admission cycle or even in the middle of the cycle. For example, shortly after his appointment as Registrar only about eight months ago, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede overhauled the entire registration procedure, without giving enough room to test-run the new system, while relying largely on technical partners. The result so far has been disastrous, including the cancellation of the mock Computer Based Test, hours after candidates had assembled in various CBT centres throughout the country.

Proposed solutions
There are three possible solutions. One is for the status quo to remain, that is, for JAMB to continue to conduct business as usual, tinkering now and then with the process, hoping for better days to come. JAMB itself seems to prefer this solution, judging by the spirited self-defence offered by Fabian Benjamin, JAMB’s Head of Public Relations, in response to my proposal to modify its mandate (see A requiem for JAMB, The PUNCH, April 18, 2017). Various steps taken by JAMB, especially under Oloyede, to streamline the procedures of conducting the Board’s business, were highlighted in the response.

It is clear, however, that none of the reforms undertaken so far by JAMB has produced satisfactory results, partly because the scope of its assignment is beyond its capacity and partly because the Board truly cannot reform itself. The reform that is needed should not be limited to HOW business is conducted by JAMB. It should start with WHAT business is conducted by JAMB. That’s why retaining the status quo is no solution at all.

Another solution is much more radical. It advocates that JAMB should be scrapped altogether. This is the position of many academics, as advocated repeatedly by the Academic Staff Union of Universities. It is not just JAMB’s repeated failures at its assignment that motivated this position. It also derives from resentment of JAMB’s encroachment on university autonomy, especially the University Senate’s power to admit students into its programmes.

It will appear that advocates of this proposal overlook the merit of a centralized examination system, which standardizes the entrance examinations to all tertiary institutions in the country. It is assumed that today’s tertiary institutions could conduct their own entrance examinations at the integrity level that the premier universities conducted the concessional entrance examinations before the advent of JAMB. Such an assumption is challenged by endemic corruption in the society and rampant exam malpractices as well as admission rackets within the tertiary institutions.

Besides, today’s tertiary institutions lack the resources to mount nationwide exams in order to widen the scope of their applicants’ pool. The alternative is for prospective candidates to travel from different parts of the country to a particular institution to take the entrance exam into that institution. This, of course, will increase the travelling and safety risks for such candidates. The depressed economy and the precarious security situation in the country make such an alternative untenable.

This is what opened the door for yet another solution to JAMB’s problems, which I proposed on this column last week. The proposal seeks to limit the scope of JAMB’s duties to the conduct of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, by restructuring the Board as the equivalent of the College Board in the United States, which conducts the Scholastic Achievement Test, popularly known as SAT. Prospective university candidates sit for the SAT exam anywhere in the world and American universities rely on the test results for admitting students into their programmes. Each university sets its own cut-off point and decides on which additional requirements will be needed for different programmes.

The College Board has no say in the admission of candidates to the universities and does not issue admission letters. Rather, prospective candidates indicate the universities to which their results should be forwarded, and the universities compete among themselves for the best candidates, while the candidates weigh their choices among the various universities to which they applied, and decide on which university or programme suits them best.

In this system, a candidate could be admitted to two or more universities. Readers will recall the recent cases of various Nigerian teenagers, each of whom was admitted to eight or more top American universities. Among them was the spectacular case of Serena Omo-Lamai of Dowen College in Lekki, who was admitted to 13 universities in the United States and Canada.

The present JAMB policy which limits the candidates’ choice of university to only one deprives them of their rightful freedom of choice. Besides, no candidate should be compelled to apply to a polytechnic or college of education if they do not want to attend such an institution. JAMB’s argument that a candidate with multiple admissions deprives others of admission is downright illogical as such a candidate would pay acceptance fee to only one university. Their slot in the other universities could then be given to other candidates after the payment deadline.

Even in the recently concluded admission exercise, vacancies left behind by previously admitted candidates, who chose to go elsewhere or otherwise did not show up, were filled during the late admission period by giving their slots to others. What is needed is a good database that allows for the tracking of admission vacancies as they are filled or vacated during the open admission window.

Desired change
As indicated last week, JAMB cannot remain as it is. However, rather than scrap it, JAMB should remain as the central body for conducting the UTME, while the entire admission process should be left to the tertiary institutions. In working out the details of the new mandate, the JAMB Registrar is encouraged to study the operations of the College Board and similar institutions worldwide. However, in order to achieve the desired change, the enabling decree which established JAMB in 1978, and its subsequent amendment in 1989, should be amended by the National Assembly to reflect the modified mandate.

A Requiem For JAMB — Niyi Akinnaso
No year has passed over the last five years without a controversy or two over Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board’s activities. Each year, the hue and cry over JAMB’s activities gets louder than that of the previous year. It is probably loudest this year with the bungled registration process and the delayed cancellation of the mock Computer Based Test for the 2016/17 matriculation examinations (see JAMB: The plight of 2017 UTME candidates, The Punch, April 11, 2017). The present essay is, therefore, as much a poem of lamentation over JAMB’s failures as it is a dirge in anticipation of its clipped wings, if not complete elimination.

There are at least two strong reasons why JAMB should be scrapped or have its functions drastically modified. First, the duties assigned to JAMB conflict with the role of the Senate and admission offices of the nation’s universities. A central core of university autonomy is the ability of the universities to design their own courses, hire professors to teach those courses and admit students into the various programmes offered. It is bad enough to take the admission process away from the universities. It is even worse to proscribe post-UTME exams, which would have allowed the institutions to better determine which candidates match specific programmes and which candidates are frauds.

Over the years, the universities have repeatedly pointed out JAMB’s interference with university autonomy. The universities are particularly uncomfortable with the requirement that JAMB and JAMB only could issue letters of admission to the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, thereby reducing these institutions to clearing houses only.

Second, JAMB has never been able to discharge its primary duty, that is, conduct the matriculation examination and process admission, without a hitch. Admittedly, it has always been a victim of poor infrastructure, especially inadequate power supply and poor internet connectivity. It has been overwhelmed by larger and larger pools of candidates. JAMB has also been a victim of poor planning, lax administration and lack of foresight.

A key problem behind JAMB’s failure is the unnecessary centralization of the admission process, which puts much more pressure on the Board than it could cope with. Ever since it was created in 1978 and subsequently, given sweeping powers by Decree No. 33 of 1989 to conduct the matriculation exams and also process the admission of students into the tertiary institutions, it has been struggling to cope with this mandate. It is now time to devolve many of those functions to the respective institutions or scrap it altogether.

Here’s what a modified JAMB mandate should look like. It will function like the College Board in the United States, which conducts the popular Scholastic Assessment Test, otherwise known as SAT. True, students take this test from designated locations all over the world. The fact is that the College Board does not process admission to any university. Instead, students apply to various universities themselves, which in turn receive their SAT scores and use them to process their admission, in addition to institution- and course-specific requirements.

As a result, a student could be admitted to as many universities as possible. It is left to the student to choose one. This often leads to a healthy competition for candidates as the universities struggle to attract the best candidates.

In the United States, elite universities, for example, go to the best high schools to woo candidates, sometimes working through their alumni associations. They also offer scholarships or some form of financial aid to attract students.

Since every institution in Nigeria has a web site and an active portal for e-transactions, prospective candidates should be able to apply online to their institutions of choice. As in the United States, any student can apply to as many universities, polytechnics and colleges of education as he or she likes.

This will increase the candidate’s shopping possibilities for admission and eliminate the problem of processing a change of institution form on JAMB’s website. Even more importantly, it will eliminate all the problems that the Board has been experiencing with online registration as this method will take the UTME registration completely away from it. Besides, it will encourage the institutions to upgrade their computers and expand their facilities in order to be able to cope with the number of applicants who will take their exams in such institutions.

Candidates will still have to contact JAMB during the application process, but only to create a profile with their picture and indicate in which institution they wish to take their examination. Students will, of course, be encouraged to take the exam in the institution nearest to them. Students should be required to indicate two possible institutions, at least, to use as exam centres in order to prevent overpopulation in a specific centre. JAMB will then process the choices and inform the institutions and the number of candidates to expect. It will also inform the candidates ahead of time about which specific institution to go for the examination. This will assist JAMB in determining how many examination questions will go to which institution.

JAMB’s primary duties will be limited to setting up the exams; distributing related exam papers to the various institutions; appointing examiners; grading the exams; and disseminating the results to the students, via their online profile, and to all the institutions.
Each institution will thereafter decide on its own cut-off mark for each course and directly admit students into its programmes. The anxious wait on the part of the candidates between a congratulatory message from an institution and the issuance of admission letters by JAMB will be eliminated.

Events within the past year also show that it is critical for the Federal Ministry of Education to be properly educated about university autonomy and the functions of each organ of the university. Much too often, ministers give provocative orders to JAMB without recourse to the universities. Unfortunately, the National Universities Commission, which should champion the course of the universities either colludes with the ministry or sits on the fence.

A point of historical detail often missed by government officials today is the military root of many education policies crafted at a time when there were much fewer universities and when state universities had not even come on board. That is why the question is often raised today as to the propriety of a federal ministry of education dictating to private universities and polytechnics about admission into such institutions or of JAMB processing admission into private universities.

Today, JAMB is dealing with a larger number of universities and a teeming population of students, without the necessary infrastructure and adequate manpower to cope. Nothing will be lost if some of those duties are given back to the institutions from which they were snatched by military fiat. Rather, JAMB will be relieved of a burden it couldn’t carry, while students will be weaned from unnecessary hassle and stress. Finally, the universities and other higher institutions will be happy as one of their primary functions will be restored.

Originally published (ARTICLE 1) and (ARTICLE 2) on THE PUNCH

Thursday, 16 March 2017

PALAVER TREE COMMENTARY: What Exactly Do They Teach In Business School? — ‘Tope Fasua

Image source: PREMIUM TIMES
By ‘Tope Fasua

…there is no executive course in Harvard, Princeton, MIT or Stanford where you will not find at least a Nigerian delegate, especially in the business departments… Were they taught strategy at all? For if they were, how come almost none of them have deployed strategies to ensure they don’t run into quicksand and have to demand for government bailouts every two years?

I was once close to a Director at a UK Hedge Fund located at Mayfair on London. I used to visit their plush offices somewhere in Saville Row and we’ll sometimes go out for drinks and dinner. The financial markets were in upheaval then. Many of the stuff we were taught about efficient markets and the wonders of derivatives were unraveling right before our eyes. Arcane financial products like Credit Default Swaps, Collaterized Debt Obligations, Mortgage Backed Securities and Structured Products in general were gradually tanking in some of the big ‘uns. Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns must have recently collapsed, so that must have been 2008.

I recall going out for one of those dinners. I met the CEO of the organization. Ivy league trained all the way. The team was a bunch you’d want to observe silently. At least that is what I did. When you meet people who have done greater things than you could imagine, you have to shut up and learn how they’ve done it; study their personality in the hope that you may learn something very tangible. I didn’t know the exact state of their fund then, but I reckoned they must have something big up their sleeves because here we were, having a blast in the middle of a global meltdown. Every downturn throws up a new winner, I must have thought. Money never disappears in the market; someone makes the money; others lose.

These guys then made a move. One day I was heading to Mayfair only to be told they had moved to Covent Garden. Larger offices. I went to the new office and was wowed. Every room was themed after one Golf legend or the other. They didn’t even have space for Tiger Woods. And I didn’t ask. They had names on each door, of people you’ve never heard of before. These guys are deep. The kind of education they got is certainly different from ours. They attended proper schools like Eton and Harrow and studied Classics. They know real money. Our local champions here don’t know the colour of cool money really. I moved around the office, mouth agape. Covent Garden was the place. For those who don’t know, it is a place of culture. It is where you find the human statues on your way to work, and it’s a short walk from opera houses, theatres and museums. These classy guys had chosen right. What geniuses, I thought!

Two weeks later the company folded up.

As in they were gone! Bankrupt. They couldn’t pay their debts. The leases on the offices could not be serviced. They couldn’t meet up with the obligations on their fund as they fell due. The company became one of the statistics in the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. I started wondering; what do they really teach people in these fancy Business Schools that we pay so much to attend? How do smart people make stupid decisions?

These days when I find myself around Victoria Island Nigeria’s financial centre I think of the same thing. I always imagine the brain capacity locked inside those plush offices, the smarts, in looks and in intelligence. Then I wonder how they manage to lose so much money from time to time, to the extent that they have to be bailed out by peasants, when the government wades in and pumps in taxpayers money. VI is the graveyard of many smart organizations, especially banks. Recent stories we hear about some of the promising banks just boggles the mind. So, those very smart guys couldn’t keep their hands off the till. No one thought it would be okay to run an institution for 20, 30, 50 years?

I admit though, that I am the un-smart one. Perhaps I missed the lecture where it was taught in business school, that the trick behind being a billionaire is to gyp the system, to deliberately lose money, to borrow and fritter into your personal account, because when you borrow big enough, the government will step in, and with poor taxpayers’ money, give you a mere tap on the wrist (or perhaps a bear hug and a pat on the head for being such smart money-wasters), and you can then go and spend your heist happily ever after. Guys personally become billionaires by sucking the institutions they manage to death!

…I thought about another philosophy that seems rife in Business Schools, especially in Nigeria; the idea that Nigeria cannot get anywhere except it cajoles and courts foreign investors. Most of our ‘intellectuals’ cannot utter a sentence without talking about foreign investors and I worry, that at the base of this dependency lies a certain feeling of inadequacy.

We will come to the Nigerian experience presently. But first to say that this is almost a global phenomenon. Bankers are basically the same everywhere, but the bitter experiences of the recent past, the documentation of history and the angry voices of citizens have set some of the banks in developed countries straight. Regulation has changed and become more proactive. Someone could argue though, that the change only came after they had bailed out airlines, car manufacturers and, of course, banks that they deemed systemically important. In that era, the people who run government conveniently forgot one of the core tenets of capitalism; that the markets should shake out weak and badly-run companies in a process of Darwinian justice. Instead what we saw was a privatization of profits, and socialization of losses; the bigger your debt (or the bigger your stupidity), the higher the chances that government will pick your bills.

And so these were my thoughts when we heard about Etisalat’s inability to pay their debts of over ₦530 billion to 13 Nigerian banks, and how those banks had set about liquidating and taking over the operations of the company. In the first place, this is a company that earns money daily. Its services are reputedly good but very expensive. I’m their customer, so I should know. How could it have gotten itself into a situation where it is unable to simply service its debts? Banks would not fret if there is movement in their accounts. Etisalat is meant to be owned and run by Emiratis, who are some of the richest people on earth. Where did all the money go?

Then I thought about another philosophy that seems rife in Business Schools, especially in Nigeria; the idea that Nigeria cannot get anywhere except it cajoles and courts foreign investors. Most of our ‘intellectuals’ cannot utter a sentence without talking about foreign investors and I worry, that at the base of this dependency lies a certain feeling of inadequacy. Yes, we have capital deficits, and could do much better with our infrastructure, but how can we be so fixated on foreign investors when we empty our own capital into foreign countries, after we must have stolen the country blind anyway? When we aren’t sending money abroad either to buy irrelevancies or to invest in other people’s countries, we prefer to hide our people’s money from our people. We simply deprive our people from enjoying their own commonwealth. We dig soak-aways and dump money there, we stuff overhead tanks, and of late, we discovered that many of our ‘big men’ prefer sending the money to their villages where they sneak into village huts to pinch little by little, like rats, for their continued oppression of the people.

How can we be expecting foreign investors to fix our country? What are business schools teaching? Why are we not keenly encouraging accountability and also local investors?

Of late, what has become obvious is that these so-called foreign investors have learnt never to bring any money into the cheap asset they acquire in Nigeria. On one hand are those portfolio investors who invest in treasury bills and cash out up to 16%, or Federal Government bonds, or the stock market. Those trained in our business schools say we MUST devalue the naira in order to keep attracting them! We listened for a while and before we knew it, the naira became perhaps the trashiest currency in Africa. I am still awaiting an explanation of that rationale. Why should an economy so big also have the weakest currency in Africa? And if we say other African countries have overpriced their currencies, why must it be Nigeria who gets to be the guinea-pig by devaluing first?

On the other hand, we saw how the guys that bought our power asset under the Jonathan government complained about having no capital to run their operations. In October 2015, they were bailed out with ₦213 billion. Apparently many of them had rushed there because there was a kill to be made. People don’t invest in Nigeria except to make a kill. Not for them a five or 10-year plan before breaking even. And so when they rushed in, they soon realized that things would be tougher than expected. They sought bailout. Nigerian people paid up. As I type this, their financial analyst friends have started sensitizing the government that the power sector is about to collapse and that these companies will need another ₦730 billion bailout. Nigerians will also pay up. If they were SMEs, they can as well keel over and die as soon as possible. No one will give a toss. This economic philosophy that rewards criminals is simply insane. SMEs are statistically better run than these large companies in Nigeria because managers cannot keep their hands off the cookie jar.

Just last week, we learnt about how bank directors in Nigeria were ‘directly’ responsible for 40% of the bad loans sitting on our banks’ books (1.85 trillion). Insider dealing is rife. People take it for granted these days. Nigerians have become more carefree than ever in these matters, after all, serial bad debtors emerge as bank chairmen in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, while the going was good, these large companies put our banks under immense pressure – of course with the connivance of the banks. The deposits that innocent customers put in were swept enmasse and lent to these guys at giveaway rates with little or no collateral; because they are big. The best the banks will get from most of them will be a ‘Negative Pledge’, which means simply that this big client is only promising that it will not give its asset to any other bank without the lender’s knowledge. Big companies borrow today at around 12% in Nigeria because they can arm-twist the banks, while SMEs cannot get any funds below an all-in rate of 30%. It’s no wonder why SMEs die faster, in spite of being more frugal with resources, and big companies continue to survive. The big companies also dictate economic policies because they have friends in high places. You can imagine the future we are creating for ourselves, where careless borrowers crowd out honest managers.

For Etisalat, the move made by the banks to take over the company, sent the CBN and NCC into a flap. Meetings were urgently convened and the banks placated. The banks probably wanted to make a point so that the CBN will take it easy on them on other matters. You cannot ask them to take it easy with Etisalat and then harangue them for other issues, can you? Wink, wink.

What did the Emiratis do with the money? Someone made a comment about their managers’ spending habits, their binges and the fast lives they’ve been living, and so on. I’m not close to Etisalat and so cannot verify. I note though that one of Nigeria’s corporate gurus, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, is their chairman. Why do these gurus run companies aground and make us pay for it? What was his oversight role as Chairman of the Board? Is he not ashamed of himself? This is a person who every government in Nigeria invites to every serious strategy session on the economy! And with all the money Emiratis have, they too refused to bring real funds into Nigeria? Anyway, I have some experience with them. They could be extremely generous, the Arabs. But they are very bad debtors. My small company was once owed money by a Saudi organization for two years! Another organization in the UAE has been owing my tiny company just below US$2,000 for more than four years now. I’ve given up. Is this the attitude the Emiratis brought in with their Etisalat foray into Nigeria?

We hailed Etisalat as much-needed foreign investors when they came. Newspaper editors did features on them. They were said to have brought in US$2 billion. But they must have remitted all they brought, while playing with Nigerian money. While noting that many foreign investors dine with Nigeria with a long spoon, and always make a note to outsmart us (even though we shouldn’t be in a contest), the rest of them have lately invested in businesses like real estate, where a drive around Abuja and other capital cities will reveal several expensive ghost estates; overpriced asset currently decaying where they stand. I visited a few lately and it’s scary. I don’t know how Nigeria will resolve this problem.

But it is not really just a foreign investor issue. Just last week, we learnt about how bank directors in Nigeria were ‘directly’ responsible for 40% of the bad loans sitting on our banks’ books (₦1.85 trillion). Insider dealing is rife. People take it for granted these days. Nigerians have become more carefree than ever in these matters, after all, serial bad debtors emerge as bank chairmen in Nigeria. Our people simply cannot be trusted with money. If the money is there, whether it is theirs to take or not, they just take it. And they have no limits. These are comfortable people. But until they ruin the organizations that they direct, they never stop. And this is why many people in government and the public sector also snigger at us that we private sector hacks should first deal with the log in our eyes before putting the blame for Nigeria’s collapse on their heads.

Yet there is no executive course in Harvard, Princeton, MIT or Stanford where you will not find at least a Nigerian delegate, especially in the business departments. We wear our degrees and certificates like badges of honour. We judge people by those certificates and hardly have any moment of introspection to question whether having those certificates is what it really takes. So one wonders if these executives of ours learnt anything worthwhile in those places. Were they taught ethics, or the value of integrity? Were there perhaps courses on sustainability and how to ensure that their organizations survive into the future no matter what? Were they taught delayed gratification and the need to have moderation in anything they do? Were they taught strategy at all? For if they were, how come almost none of them have deployed strategies to ensure they don’t run into quicksand and have to demand for government bailouts every two years? We are yet to resolve most of the loans in AMCON, and their friends are pushing for AMCON 2 already? It takes bad genius to lose so much money, I believe.

…what is more remarkable is that in Germany, they don’t believe in this way of doing business. As a matter of fact, this fairly recent and unsustainable phenomenon whereby people have to live on loans (mortgage, business, credit cards etc.) is alien to Germany. Wages have been stable for years in Germany…

But I recall my own short Harvard experience. We were told by the professors about Michael Jensen, one of the tough Harvard professors who used to preach crass capitalism. He believed that the concern of the managers of a company should be the maximization of profits, full stop. Not for him all that talk of having a stakeholder view. Unfortunately for Jensen, he was still teaching at Harvard when the dotcom bubble bust around year 2000, and his undergrad students started pelting him objects whenever he wanted to continue his rubbish talk. He had to resign from Harvard to go into private practice. Maybe Jensen’s lecture is the type our executives attended very attentively.

I take a better experience from the Germans. Those people will rule the world one day – hopefully not through the instrument of war. They have since enshrined the involvement of staff on the directorship of their large companies to create controls. They are also giving serious opportunities to women. Germany is the vocational skills capital of the world as well. But what is more remarkable is that in Germany, they don’t believe in this way of doing business. As a matter of fact, this fairly recent and unsustainable phenomenon whereby people have to live on loans (mortgage, business, credit cards etc.) is alien to Germany. Wages have been stable for years in Germany without Germans feeling shortchanged but enabling the country to produce goods and services cheaper than its European neighbours, thereby crowding out other European economies. If you go to Germany today, best go with your cash. They don’t do all that card business. People don’t understand why you have to eat in a restaurant and pay with a credit card. It is in Germany that one of the Tata billionaire brothers was fined for wasting food at a restaurant. They abhor waste of any kind.

Most Germans rent houses till they die, and they die happy. They don’t put themselves under unnecessary pressure or get into trouble while trying to keep up with the Joneses the way the rest of us have become; the way it is now taught in business schools, where its all about the Top 50 Richest List, Richest People Under 40 Years Old, etc. and the companies posting the highest returns. Certainly a lot is wrong with these business school teachings and certificates, and we have a lot to learn from other business models.

Let me close by sharing this anecdote:

A boat was docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
“Not very long” they answered in unison.
“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”
The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”
The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”
“And after that?”
“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!!! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”
“How long would that take?”
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the tourist.
“And after that?”
“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”
“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexicans.

And the moral of this story is:

Know where you’re going in life, you may already be there!

Many times in life, money is not everything.

“Live your life before life becomes lifeless”

‘Tope Fasua, an Economist, author, blogger and entrepreneur, can be reached through topsyfash@yahoo.com.

Originally published on PREMIUM TIMES