Dora Akunyili 2

Has anyone here read @DrJoeAbah brilliant dissertation on performance in the public sector? The dissertation is titled – Strong organisations in weak states: A typical public sector performance in dysfunctional environments. How did NAFDAC succeed under Dora?

The dissertation directly compares similar agencies and tries to explain the factors behind the difference in performance. For this thread, I will focus on National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON). NAFDAC was a case of the President empowering a very capable leader with a clear plan.

Problem: In 2003, the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development reported that 80 percent of drugs for sale in Lagos were fake. Nigerians were suffering and dying.

Image result for Nafdac and Dora

Solution: The leadership of NAFDAC set four main strategies: restructuring and reorganising the NAFDAC staff and upgrading physical infrastructure; improving operations (with new regulations and tighter control of clinical trials), engaging stakeholders (both the public and drug manufacturers); and raising enforcement activity. NAFDAC “named and shamed” violators, blacklisted offending companies, seized and destroyed fake and substandard drugs, and turned offenders over to prosecutors.

Outcomes: NAFDAC reduced the incidence of fake drugs from 41 percent in 2002 to 16 percent in 2006 and 10 percent in 2011. In opinion polls, NAFDAC was rated the most effective government agency in Nigeria for three years in a row.

Image result for Strong institutions Nigeria

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has also rated Nigeria as West Africa’s most effective drug control country and commended the work of NAFDAC.

It is clear that people build institutions and not the other way round. There have been other examples in Nigeria of outstanding leaders bringing about institutional reform at both the federal and state levels. Institution need outstanding leaders.

McKinsey’s research discovered that what distinguishes successful projects and programmes in Nigeria is the presence of empowered leaders. Strong leaders consistently secure political backing and are thus empowered to take decisive action and put in place skilled teams.

McKinsey identified a number of key characteristics of successful government leaders in Nigeria:
1. Vision
2. Pragmatism
3. Focus on results
4. Zero tolerance for corruption.
5. Prior relevant experience Certain leaders under Olusegun Obasanjo (Dora Akunyili, Nuhu Ribadu and Mallam El Rufai) had these in spades.

Reading @DrJoeAbah dissertation, you can see that SON was a total opposite of NAFDAC’s success. A first step towards building the institutions we want is identifying the right leaders and empowering them. Sad to see what NAFDAC has become now – fighting for space in the ports!

On a lighter note, Dr Joe Abah is definately one of the most knowledgeable out there when it comes to research on the Nigerian Public Service. A lot of people think highly of him and his work. Just ask the Federal Government’s favorite consultant, Mckinsey & Company.

Image result for Strong institutions Nigeria

Obasanjo identified certain leaders using the characteristics listed above. The performances of Nuhu, @elrufai, Dora and @obyezeks is enough evidence to show that things work when you empower capable leaders to lead key institutions. Sadly, we haven’t had enough “good” leaders since.

A few bright spots in this administration though. Leaders with clear strategies and tick all the boxes McKinsey identified. Damilola Ogunbiyi and Yewande Sadiku are good examples. I wish both of them well and brilliant work so far.



Five things we learned from Nigeria’s win against Iceland

Nigeria’s forward Ahmed Musa and teammates celebrate their victory at the end of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match between Nigeria and Iceland at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 22, 2018. Mark RALSTON / AFP

Ahmed Musa produced an outstanding performance to put the Super Eagles in the path of qualification to the second round. The Super Eagles after their opening game loss against Croatia had to win to stand a realistic chance of qualification to the next round. Gernot Rohr’s men struck in the second half to defeat Iceland 2-0 at the Volgograd stadium that was crackling with energy.

1. Ahmed Musa pays faith with record-breaking brace
The Man. The Myth… The Legend. The best mental image that describes Musa after his feat is one with forward turbaned, riding majestically on the back of a camel into the sun as he waves us his subjects. For we are unworthy of his brilliance. The opener was as exquisite as they come, Musa brought down Moses’ cross into the box from the air with his stretched foot before he hit a beautiful half-volley past Hannes Halldorsson. It was a sheer delight, a beautiful moment etched into the annals as he became Nigeria’s highest goal scorer at the World Cup.

It was Musa in all his splendid glory for his second goal. He raced onto the ball beating Ari Arnason for pace before he checked in to dribble past goalkeeper Halldorsson. The forward seemed to stop time afterwards, he was unusually calm after he took the touch past Halldorson, he turned goal-ward, was with razor-sharp focus as if muting Kelechi Iheancho, who was bellowing and visibly gesturing for a pass. Musa after picking his spot, gently but convincingly stroked the ball past the two covering defenders on the goal line. It was reminiscent of his excellent performance in the last World Cup against Argentina where he scored a brace. Certainly, he is odds on to start the match and perhaps get a goal in the final group stage game against Argentina that could confirm the Super Eagles qualification.

2. Rohr’s shake up pays dividends
After the loss to Croatia, Gernot Rohr shook things up in the side, changing both personnel and tactics. The German manager opted for a 3-5-2 with Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa playing as a pair up front. The front pair replaced Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi while Abdullahi Shehu, who started the first game was on the bench.

Omeruo came into the side to play as the left sided centre-back in the back three and to good effect. But perhaps, the most important change came in adjusting John Obi Mikel’s role in the side. The Captain was criticized for his lack of incisiveness while playing in attacking midfield behind the striker but against Iceland, Mikel conducted play from deep where his passing range and precision shone through.

3. Omeruo’s addition gives backline solidity
Kenneth Omeruo was introduced into the back line and was solid all through barely putting a foot wrong all game. John Ogu had been used during friendly games as the third defender when Rohr deployed the three-man defence. However, Rohr chose Omeruo who is a better defender than Ogu to start. He helped strengthen the team’s defence and also added a bit more quality in defending set pieces. It won’t be surprising if the Chelsea defender reprises his role for the final game against Argentina.

4. Counterattacking still Nigeria’s strongest weapon
It could be clearer that the Super Eagles are strongest when breaking hard and fast. Both goals on the night were from counterattacking plays that involved effective movements of the players on and off the ball. Musa’s first goal was from a cleared set-piece where Iheanacho got the ball in the midfield third before he fed it to Moses. Moses moved the ball briskly before he lofted the cross for Musa to finish. The second goal involved a clearance from deep after defending a set piece. Musa raced onto it to produce a guileful finish.

5. Qualification permutations
Nigeria have their qualification in their hands and there is just one final hurdle left after the Super Eagles defeated Iceland. The Super Eagles would have been effectively out of the World Cup had they lost to the European side. A win against Argentina ensures qualification for Nigeria regardless of result from the other group game. While a draw could also see the Super Eagles go through, the team will have to hold a superior goal difference to Iceland if Iceland defeats Croatia. However, If the Super Eagles lose to Argentina in the final game, they will not qualify from the group stages.

6 Ways To Improve Food Digestion During Pregnancy

Image result for How to Improve Food Digestion During Pregnancy

You may be having the time of your life being pregnant and eager to welcome a new life to this world. While all the good things are happening around, you may still be having problems understanding your own body. One of the bodily functions that change quickly during pregnancy is digestion.

Image result for How to Improve Food Digestion During Pregnancy

Due to pregnancy hormones, the muscles and intestinal walls start relaxing which results in slowed digestion. While it is an obvious change that takes place in your body during pregnancy, you can go through some serious problems if your digestion gets imbalanced. Regardless, you do not need to worry as we share interesting ways to improve food digestion during pregnancy.

Image result for pregnant women drink plenty water

1.Drink plenty of water

Although it is quite a basic tip for your daily life, this can be of great help to reduce indigestion during pregnancy. While you are pregnant, try and make drinking several glasses of water your daily consumption. Also, make sure that the water you drink is clean and germ-free so that you don’t drink contaminated water.

Image result for How to Improve Food Digestion During Pregnancy

2. Eat foods high in fibre

Eating high fibre diet can be a good option to speed up your metabolism at any time. When you are pregnant, make sure that you eat fibre-rich food such as peas, vegetables, fruits, beans and more. This helps to keep food moving inside your digestive tract resulting in prevention of constipation.

Image result for How to Improve Food Digestion During Pregnancy

3. Regular exercise

Keep moving during your pregnancy as it can be very helpful for your digestive system. Even if you take twenty minutes a day to exercise, you can always feel the difference. When you engage in regular exercise, food will not get stuck in your digestive tract as your body movement will quicken metabolism.

Image result for How to Improve Food Digestion During Pregnancy

4. Eat on schedule

While pregnant, you need to take care of your diet in a proper way as better diet can help you throughout your pregnancy period, during delivery and beyond. The scheduled eating habits can train your system to digest food in an easier way. So, try to sit down for breakfast, lunch and dinner at around the same time as you did the day before.

Image result for How to Improve Food Digestion During Pregnancy

5. Eat in small proportions

Eating your food in small portions can let your digestive tract have some time to digest the food and maintain space for the next portion. While it takes a lot of time and effort for your digestive system to digest a large portion of food, eating small portions from time to time can easily fasten your digestion.

Image result for Pregnancy avoid smoking and alcohol

6. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol

Smoking and drinking during pregnancy can lead to digestive infections and ulcers while also affecting negatively the mental and physical development of your baby during pregnancy. So, it is better to skip these bad habits during your nine months to have a healthy and happy pregnancy, free of any digestive problems. Instead, drink a lot of water.

Abayi records first TEDx event in Abia State


The first independent TEDx event in Abia State Nigeria was successfully held recently in Abayi on Saturday, June 16, 2018 at the Eldorado Event Center in the industrial capital of Abia State with the initial theme “Build The Future”.

The novel event attracted Students, youths, entrepreneurs, academia and technocrats.

Some of the distinguished personalities who spoke at the event included Clinton Tochukwu Chukwueke, Inventor and change agent; Grace Ihejiamaizu, Founder Opportunity Desk; Chidindu Mmadu-Okoli, Content Strategist and Medical Laboratory Scientist; Laiza Elizabeth Kalu, Founder MANIFEST Network; Akudinobi Tony George Chidi, Visual Thinker and Founder Hammerhead Group; Emeka Nobis, Thought leader, writer and coach.


The speakers in line with the theme discussed Narrative Medicine: The power of storytelling and the future of healthcare; Erasing limitations: Building the future with your voice and influence; Changing the future through building ideological movements; Build the future: objects of African Heartsong; amongst others.


Abayi  has joined major cities in the likes of Owerri, Marrakech, Euston, Paris, Silicon Valley, Oxford, Lagos and 1600 other places that have held TEDx conferences, all organized by passionate volunteers.


TEDxAbayi is licensed by TED, a US-based not-for-profit enterprise devoted to the propagation of ideas worth spreading. It celebrates and spreads locally-driven ideas in technology, science, entertainment, design and business, through conferences in more than 100 languages across the world. In January 2017, Omotayo Olorunfemi was licensed to host TEDxAbayi as a standard TEDx event for Abia.

TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. TED believes passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes and lives. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are collectively shaping our world. But a TED conference is broader still, showcasing important ideas from any discipline, and exploring how they all connect.


Young African leaders arrive in the United States for 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship

20 June, 2018 – 700 young Africans arrived the United States to participate in the fifth cohort of the summer-long 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship program.

Fellows were warmly welcomed in Nebraska

These young people (ages 25 to 35) from sub-Saharan Africa are up-and-coming community leaders in their home countries, which is why they were selected by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and its implementing partner, IREX, to participate in the highly competitive Young African Leaders Initiative.

25 Students were placed in Wagner College, New York

The YALI program — 6 weeks of study, service, fun and fellowship – empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities and local community engagement. Since 2014, the U.S. Department of State has brought 3,000 young leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa to the United States to develop their leadership skills and foster connections and collaborations with U.S. professionals.

60 young Nigerians were selected for Cohort Five

The 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows will be hosted at 28 institutions focused on public management, business and entrepreneurship, and civic leadership across the United States this summer. They will meet at the end of their Institutes in Washington, D.C. for the fifth annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where they will take part in networking and panel discussions with each other and U.S. leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

After the Summit, 100 competitively-selected Fellows will join private, public, and nonprofit organizations across the country for a six-week Professional Development Experience, which are substantive, short-term placements that allow Fellows to contribute their skills and insights to American organizations. From 2014 to 2016, Fellows contributed nearly 80,000 work hours to 173 U.S. host organizations across the country.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and indoor
Nnadi Ebuka Emmanuel is placed at Rutgers University.

Nigeria’s fellows represent the largest cohort from any one country. Nnadi Ebuka Emmanuel is one of the 60 young Nigerians to make the fellowship. He said:

“I am very excited to be one of the young Nigerian leaders to be selected for the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship, a flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in the United States of America. This is indeed, a dream come true after three consecutive attempts. Now, I look forward to the opportunities and challenges this program would present. But one thing is certain, victory is assured; because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Upon returning to their home countries, Fellows will continue to build the skills they have developed during their time in the United States through regional conferences, professional practicum experiences, and mentoring opportunities. Fellows may also apply for their American colleagues to travel to Africa to continue project-based collaboration through the Reciprocal Exchange.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship and the larger YALI program embody the U.S. government’s commitment to investing in the future of Africa.








Image result for Buying a franchise

Buying a franchise offers advantages to entrepreneurs who are intimidated by starting a business from scratch and are unwilling to buy an existing business. In simple terms a franchise is the right granted by a business owner or inventor (franchisor) to another individual or company (franchisee) allowing the use of its trademark, name, processes, good will etc. in the delivery of a service or sales of goods.

Image result for Buying a franchise

Whilst buying a franchise jump-starts your business by allowing you leverage on existing brand recognition, it is however important to pay attention to the contractual terms of the franchise agreement in order to avoid conflict or loss. This week we examine some of the basic terms a Franchisee should note when considering a franchise relationship:

A franchise agreement governs the relationship between the Franchisor and the Franchisee and typically documents not only the obligations, responsibilities and rights of the parties but also the licensing of intellectual property to the franchisee. In Nigeria, although there is no particular agency of government with the sole responsibility of managing franchises however the National office of Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) has the mandate of registering technology transfer agreements which are typically a form of franchise business model.  Some of the important terms of a Franchise agreement include:

  1. Appointment – The agreement should clearly stipulate the appointment of the Franchisee and should also state the territory such an appointment would cover. The Appointment could be exclusive or non-exclusive
  2. Grant of License- The agreement should grant the Franchisee the right to use the trademark, copyrights, patents or industrial designs of the Franchisor. This right could also be exclusive or non-exclusive within the defined territory
  3. Duration and Renewal- The agreement should contain the duration of the license and terms of renewal. It is common for the Franchisor to include payment of a renewal fee as a condition precedent.
  4. Obligations of the Franchisor- This includes amongst other things the responsibility of providing trade secrets; operating manual; training for key employees; support system; specifications of office/factory plan, signs, fixtures and fittings etc. It is important to also note that the Franchisor is usually responsible for advertising the brand however the Franchisors might be required to pay some money to cover part of advertising costs.
  5. Obligations of the Franchisee- This typically includes payment of franchisee fees; compliance with operating manual; keeping of records which the Franchisor has rights to inspect; insurance; obtaining consent of franchisor before selling or sub-licensing the franchise; ensuring the availability of specified working capital; compliance with the structural and internal designs specified by the Franchisor; undertaking not to denigrate the goodwill of the brand; acceptance not sell/offer competing services or products etc.Image result for Buying a franchise

Due Diligence

Most Franchisors would typically assess the Franchisee before granting a license, in the same measure it is advisable for the Franchisee to also conduct checks on the Franchisor before executing the agreement. Some of the key things a Franchisee should look out for include:

  1. Profitability of the Franchise
  2. Goodwill and Public Acceptance
  3. Cash Requirements
  4. Monitoring and Support Systems
  5. Adaptability to local market


Whilst the franchise model is a safe option for some entrepreneurs, it can also be tricky if parties are not on the same page which is why it is important to critically examine the contractual terms and conduct market research before commencing the franchise relationship.

CREDITS: This opinion is brought to you by the Iyiola Oyedepo & Company

“Our integrated and interconnected ecosystem across Africa, responsible for our growth”- Jumia CEO

Image result for jumia Ceo

Lagos, Nigeria, 19 June 2018: The chief executive officer of Jumia Nigeria, Juliet Anammah has said the company’s integrated and interconnected ecosystem across its 23 markets in Africa has helped to build a solid foundation for the company in Nigeria and across Africa. She made the revelation while speaking with some foreign media delegates who came to Nigeria to tour the company’s expansive Lagos warehouse located in Ikeja.

Image result for jumia Ceo

“We built one integrated, inter-connected ecosystem that captures most of the simple day to day needs that people could do on the same platform rather than multiple platforms. That really helps in scaling the business, building one brand across the continent and building the same experience for consumers across the continent. Rather than just focusing on shopping, we included the other things people would normally do: order food, book flights and hotels.”

Image result for jumia Ceo

Anammah also mentioned that the deficiency of logistics infrastructure in the country should be seen as an opportunity, rather than a challenge. She stressed that the deficit allows for the aggregation of multiple third party logistics players in the market because there are many people who have some logistics capacity, but they have not operated in an eCommerce environment.

“Infrastructure deficit is a challenge and an opportunity for the aggregation of multiple third party logistics players in the market because you do have people who have some capacity, it’s just that they have not operated in an eCommerce environment. But we’re (Jumia) also creating a marketplace for them. We’re trying to aggregate them and create a marketplace where they can have assets like tricycles, and small vans which they can use to deliver in different parts of the country. Then, we also provide the technology for them to be able to deliver the haulage we give them.”

Jumia is building tomorrow’s African e-commerce infrastructure with online and mobile world-class marketplaces, providing affordable and convenient services to consumers and helping them fulfill their everyday needs. Jumia’s mission is to transform and improve people’s lives – thanks to technology.

Through its different platforms and services namely Jumia eCommerce, Jumia Travel, Jumia Food, Jumia House, Jumia Deals, Jumia Jobs, Jumia Pay, Jumia One and Jumia Services, the company is fostering the digital shift of the entire African economy. Jumia is supporting the growth of African companies and expanding their horizons. More than 60, 000 local African companies and individuals do business on Jumia.


Scramble For African Startups By Venture Capitalists: Yay or Nay?

Image result for Scramble For African Startups By Venture Capitalists: Yay or Nay?

Like the scramble for Africa that saw European powers invading, occupying and colonizing African territories without their consent, venture capitalists seem to be re-enacting the same scenario today as they scramble for viable and scalable African startups to invest, acquire or fund.

Nearly, every month, Innovation-village reports that a venture capitalist with endless cash has invested millions of dollars in an African startup in some parts of Africa although they are more focused on Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. – Favourite destination

This year…2018


Nigerian Startup Rensource Energy, a distributed energy provider, raised $3.5 million USD in bridge financing to expand its power-as-a-service renewable energy business.

Image result for Scramble For African Startups By Venture Capitalists: Yay or Nay?


Nigerian based data analytics firm, Terragon Group led by founder and CEO, Elo Umeh, received a $5million investment from African venture capital firm, TLcom Capital.


MFS Africa, a leading Pan-African FinTech company, secured a $4.5m Series B funding round led by LUN Partners Group, a China-based global investment management group.

TradeDepot has received $3-million in series A funding from Partech, an investment platform for tech and digital companies. It’s the global investment firm’s first commitment from its €100-million Africa fund launched earlier this year.

Kenya based startup, Africa’s Talking has raised a new $8.6 million funding led by IFC Venture Capital, with participation from Orange Digital Ventures and Social Capital.

Kenya’s mSurvey, the mobile-first consumer feedback platform for businesses and consumers in Africa, received $3.5m investment.

South African Edtech startup SkillUp Tutors secured an undisclosed Series A funding from Knife Capital

May raised $1.1m in seed funding led by LeadPath Nigeria

May Lidya raised $6.9 million in a Series A investment round led by Omidyar Network. Nigerian Startup 

Thanks to technology, these solutions are being developed by either brilliant homegrown talents who have braved the unfriendly African environment to find solutions to African problems or by Africans groomed in foreign lands who are returning home to solve African problems.

Clearly, these solutions are attracting a huge interest from venture capitalists considering the millions of dollars raised so far. Of course, predictions

To give more insight, let’s look at how much venture capitalists and angel investors invested in African startups in 2017… 

Image result for Scramble For African Startups By Venture Capitalists: Yay or Nay?

Partech Ventures’ latest annual funding report shows that venture capital funding in 2017 reached $560 million, recording 53% year on year growth. The scale of growth in funding is seen in the number of investment rounds participated in by startups: in 2017, 124 startups participated in 128 funding rounds compared to 77 rounds in 2016. Partech’s reports include startups that have a primary market in Africa whether or not they are headquartered or incorporated on the continent.  The Top 3 markets, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, absorbed 76% of the total funding, down from 81% in 2016.


Image result for Scramble For African Startups By Venture Capitalists: Yay or Nay?

According to the report, Fintech continues to lead the way in Africa’s booming funding scene, Cleantech follows next


Some Venture Capitalists that have invested in African startups

*Knife Capital                                   *Village Capital

*LeadPath                                          *Ventures Platform

*500 Startups                                    *Omidyar Network

*Algebra Venture                             *Kalon Venture Partners

*Angel Investment Network       *TLcom Capital

*YCombinator                                  *EchoVC

*IFC Capital                                     *Partech Ventures

*Investment AB Kinnevik

The Scramble for African startups-Good or Bad?

Funding or capital is a major problem encountered by every startup in Africa and other parts of the world.

Indeed, only a handful of startups can scale or attain a level of growth without the much-needed funds. This is why when startups have products that can scale and have groomed it to a certain level, they will definitely be unable to resist the juicy carrot dangled at them by these venture capitalists. No thanks to the lack of support by the government and banks.

So, since, the venture capitalists have the funds and the startups need the funds, they have no choice than to parley with them and come to an agreement on the structure and vision of the startup considering the new funds.

As such, no one can categorically say that venture capital funds are not good. They have contributed millions of $ to the African economy, created jobs and accelerated expansion.

A very good example of this is Jumia, which pride itself as Africa’s Alibaba and is now worth $1 billion. It was founded by Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor in 2012. They had a $50 million wall chest from foreign VCs to build the startup. They later resigned from Jumia and today, Jumia is Africa’s number one eCommerce platform.

Five Questions An Entrepreneur Must Ask Before Accepting An Investment

  1. Why are you interested in investing in this company specifically?
  2. What do you know about the market that the company is operating in?
  3. Who do you know that could help this company?
  4. How will you help raise follow-on funding at the next round and or additional capital for the current round?
  5. What is your track record as an investor both in this space and overall?

The scramble for African startups by VCs will continue as long as viable and innovative solutions are being developed to solve Africa’s problems. The only admonition for startups is to be thorough and exhaustive before accepting any venture fund. You do not just accept money hook, line and sinker


Imu-Ahia: The apprenticeship system building wealth in Eastern Nigeria

Imu-Ahia: The apprenticeship system building wealth in Eastern Nigeria
Today, Imu Ahia has grown to become a cultural heirloom in the Eastern region of Nigeria.
It’s a Monday evening in Oke-aro, a small town just North-West of Lagos. John Onyebuchi, an electronics salesman, alternates between Igbo and Yoruba as he haggles with a couple over the price of a generator.

Besides a generator, the customers also want to purchase a washing machine. But Onyebuchi doesn’t have that in stock. He complains that it’s too expensive and the demand for it in the Oke-aro, Agbado region is low, so he doesn’t bother with it, but for the right amount, he’ll have it in his shop by the morning.

Onyebuchi, 28, opened up his shop on Oke-aro road five years ago. Before that, he was in Ikotun with a man he addressed as nwanne nna, Uncle, for eight years.

During that time, nwanne nna served as his “master”, and he learned business under him. Nwanne nna dealt in clothes and cloth materials, and for a short while, manufactured clothes. Onyebuchi was introduced by an extended family member.

Before their introduction, they had never met and hailed from two different villages in Anambra state. Then 15 years old, Onyebuchi’s only goal was to get a good Oga, move to Lagos, learn a trade and start his own business.


Imu Ahia, the Igbo Apprentice

In Eastern Nigeria, young men like Onyebuchi are called Imu-Ahia, referring to an Igbo apprenticeship system which gained prominence in the Eastern region after the Civil War of 1967.

By the end of the War in 1970, the region was so devastated that money and human capital were scarce. Thousands of people were unable to return to homes they previously owned in other parts of Nigeria. Not only was the hope of Biafra lost, but livelihoods were also halted. Petty trade became one of the few ways money could be made.

As terrible as the situation was, it was perhaps the infamous £20 policy, which further stifled the war-ravaged East that accelerated the need for an economic culture like Imu-Ahia. The policy, proposed by Obafemi Awolowo, ensured that Biafrans were not allowed access to their pre-war savings and were given a mere £20 each to survive on.

Today, Imu Ahia has grown to become a cultural heirloom in the Eastern region of Nigeria.

“Imu-Ahia started because Igbo people needed to take back their futures – futures that were already truncated by the war,” Jim Nwankebie, a retired civil servant, tells Stears Business. “When the war ended, people couldn’t go back to school or their homes outside Biafra. Petty trade was the only way to build back destroyed communities. Farming was another alternative, but it required time that was not readily available. In the absence of money in the Eastern region, that was the only way money could flow.”

The premise for Imu-Ahia was simple – business owners would take in younger boys, house them and have them work as apprentices in business while learning the ropes. After the allotted time for the training was reached, 5-8 years, a little graduation ceremony would be held for the Imu-Ahia’s. They would be paid a lump sum for their services over the years, and this money went to starting a business for the Imu-Ahia’s.


Remembering Home

However, a message that has been lost over time is lekọta nwanne gị nwoke  translated to “take care of your brother”. Nwankebie affirms that beyond being a business mentorship, Imu-Ahia existed to build Igbo wealth.

This sense of camaraderie is seen in Nnewi, an Anambra town built on trade. A Forbes Africa report showed that Nnewi has more naira billionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country. The success of Nnewi has seen the development of many more “Igbo trade” hubs in Nigeria. In Lagos, the Idumota market is home to Igbo traders with their Imu-Ahia’s

The repatriation system was built and still runs partly on Igbo fear. “If war breaks out today, I will not go back to my village and live in a hut. Igbo people probably own a lot of houses in Lagos, but first, there must be a house back at home in the East. I built my first house in 1994 in Orumba, Anambra state and I own two houses in Lagos,” Chief Richard Ezike, a spare parts dealer in the Oke-aro area, asserted.

There is almost always talk of secession from the East especially through the radio station, Radio Biafra. Added to that, the Nigerian economy is still at a low. “But there are bigger problems now. The economy is terrible, so a lot of people can’t afford to take in new boys.” he finished.


Trade First, School Second

“Imu-Ahia is important because, before the war, many parents believed in school, but even the school is not working out for anybody. We are taught to trade, to look for quality, we operate cooperative societies here in Idumota, and we are reminded to send money back home to have our house in the East,” Festus Nworah, an electronics salesman in Idumota, explains.

Even as Imu-Ahia grows and is now getting adopted by other tribes in Nigeria, there have been calls for Imu-Ahia to be a route to university credit. This is a sentiment shared by Stears Business journalist Aisha Salaudeen. “There might be arguments that these people have made lives for themselves without the need for University, but as the world changes, so do the dreams of people. An academic program will provide a young Igbo boy that has completed Imu-Ahia choices – the ability to go to the university or a polytechnic while crossing entrance hurdles will provide better quality and well-rounded people.”

For people like Onyebuchi, formal education will always be secondary to Imu Ahia. “This is what I feed myself with, and it’s from here I send money back home. When I start my family, my children will do Imu Ahia. If they want to go to school after, they are free,” Onyebuchi concludes.


CREDITS: This feature story is written by Adeshoka Oluwatosin for Follow this Journalist @Oluwatosin on Twitter.


Interview: “We’re Ready and well-prepared to progress through the 2018 FIFA World Cup” – Alex Iwobi

Super Eagles midfielder Alex Iwobi speaks exclusively to Izuchukwu Okosi on  the Super Eagles’ readiness for the World Cup barely four days to the team’s first Group D game against Croatia.

The Arsenal star also spares some thoughts for crocked Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, how  Kanu  influenced him and reveals which teams he believes will reach the semifinals of the tournament. Excerpts.

Alex, the 2018 World Cup kicks off in a few days time. How ready would you say the team is for the tournament?

We’re ready! As it gets closer the excitement is growing. However at the same time we’re still very focused and working extremely hard to make sure we’re well prepared and stand a strong chance of progressing well through the tournament.

The Eagles squad for the World Cup consists mainly of players that prosecuted the qualifiers.  Would you say that will help team chemistry or you feel that the injection of new players will make the team better?

Whoever the coach includes in the team is right for the team. He’s the expert so my focus and that of my teammates is to come together and give it our all.

Talk us through the qualifiers briefly…quite naturally the Zambia games must be special for you, right?

Every of the game we played in the qualifiers came with its challenges as we played some very strong teams. However I’d have to say that those games against Zambia were really tough because they were young and ambitious. There was a lot at stake.  I was very excited to have scored the goal that qualified Nigeria for the World Cup. That indeed was special.

Most of your Nigerian fans still debate which is your best position on the field; the central midfield or the wings because you are everywhere as seen in the friendlies for example.  Where is  Alex most dangerous from on the pitch?

Naturally I enjoy playing more centrally however I’ll play anywhere the coach wants me to play from. It’s an honour to play for my country in whatever position.
Image result for Germany Brazil Spain Nigeria
Different people have given their opinions about the chances of all four teams to qualify for the knock out stages from Group D.  Which of Nigeria’s group opponents do you feel will be the most difficult to overcome?

Every match will be tough as all the teams have so much talent in their sides although the most obvious is Argentina but we can’t underestimate Iceland who did well in Euro 2016 and Croatia who always have a strong team in major tournaments.
NG Super Eagles.jpg
You scored in the friendlies against Argentina and England. The Eagles won, drew and were defeated in those warm up matches against Poland, Serbia, Congo DR and Czech Republic…which do you thinks works in favour of a team: good results in the friendlies or not too good results; which of the scenarios make you more ambitious?

We have picked useful lessons from those friendlies.  I can understand the fears of some Nigerians but we won’t let them down.  We’ve been drawn against Argentina in quite a few times in tournaments so they’d know all about us and we’d know all about them.  Despite this we do not underrate each other in any match. Any professional team knows that you go into each match with 100% focus regardless of how many times you have played them before.

Image result for Kanu nwankwo and Jay Jay Okocha

Aside your uncle, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, who has been your biggest influence in Nigerian football?

Image result for Alex Iwobi and Kanu Nwankwo
It has to be (Nwankwo) Kanu.  Kanu is one of the legends of Nigerian football. He was a very skillful player, and I enjoyed watching him on the pitch. He’s also an Arsenal legend.
Image result for Mo Salah missing the world cup
Some stars of world football will not be in Russia maybe due to injuries.  Which player (s) would you miss most not coming to Russia?

As a fellow African footballer it will be a shame not to see Mo Salah at the World Cup. I hope he makes a speedy recovery in time to play Egypt’s group matches.  We want to see him play in Russia

Which areas do you feel you need to work on your game at the World Cup?

I’d say the final third, making sure I get in the box and score goals. Just the way I scored against England.

How do you unwind when not playing/training?

Whenever I get any free time, I spend it with family and friends, relaxing and having a good time.
Image result for Alex Iwobi and family
How is your spoken Igbo?

I’m not fluent in it but I definitely know a few words. I love the language and want to keep learning it. My dad is from Onitsha in Anambra state so I’m learning.
Image result for Germany Brazil Spain Nigeria
Finally your four teams to reach the World Cup semifinals?  What’s your prediction and why?

It’s really hard to say to be honest. My focus is myself and teammates and doing well for our country, so I haven’t had time to think about the World Cup from a fan’s perspective. I think the traditional favourites like Germany, Brazil, and Spain will be there or thereabouts but my hope is we will be there too.

Thank you Alex and good luck in your World Cup experience

Thank you. You’re welcome.

Izuchukwu Okosi