Mr President, What is your vision?
In my book, The Seven Dimensions of Branding, the first chapter is devoted to Brand Vision. The reason is obvious. Every great enterprise begins with a vision. Great nations are also built on strong visions. That is why some of the greatest leaders of great nations are called visionaries. These are leaders who envisioned a better life for their people and driven by that vision, were able to achieve positive transformations for their nations. In branding, vision is based on value creation. On a general level, vision is described as a picture of a future which is better than the present. It takes great imagination and intelligence to create a brand vision, because unlike the multitude of cliché-ridden vision statements that most companies hang on their walls, brand vision is based on a genuine commitment to value creation, which is lofty yet attainable.
I have waited all my life, for a newly elected president in my country to articulate a compelling vision. I am still waiting. For years we have heard a great deal about plans, schemes and visions. I remember Vision 2010, and Vision 2020! As far as Vision 2010 goes I don’t really know much about it, except that it was an obvious gigantic flop. Then the Vision 2020 or 20: 2020, whichever you prefer! This particular vision was developed to make Nigeria a top 20 economy by the year 2020. They said it was an Economic Transformation Blueprint. To put this humongous project together was a team of more than 1000 Nigerians. Several groups and committees were set up. They had the Central Working Group, National Council Members, National Steering Committee Members and 29 separate National Technical Working Groups! On top of these, there were 32 Coordinating Consultants. God of Mercy!
The 29 separate National Technical Working Groups, each produced a voluminous report. Put together, you have documents running into thousands of pages. And that perhaps is all we have to show for the Vision 2020. I don’t know which people are reading these documents or trying to implement. But we all know that it has been a gigantic failure. Whether it is Energy, Agriculture, Health or Manufacturing, the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning is yet to confirm where Vision 2020 has achieved any milestone of note since 2009 when it was put in place. And in case they forget, 2020 is just three years away! From the look of things we may soon hear of Vision 2030!
I don’t know if President Buhari has read the Vision 2020 Document, or any of the 29 technical working group reports. If he hasn’t I would advise him not to bother. These documents are a massive waste of tax payers’ money and an exercise in futility. Gathering more than 1000 people at great cost and producing more than four thousand pages of reports is absolute nonsense. It simply demonstrates our lack of seriousness. You don’t need an army of technocrats and academics to articulate a vision. This is not about conducting an exercise. It is about commitment. And that lack of commitment is why these visions never see the signs of reality.
Mr. President, please permit to inform you that these past attempts at articulating a vision for the development of our nation have been pretty woeful to say the least. It demonstrates folly and ignorance. Please sir, ignore the temptation to toe a similar line. It has never worked and it never will. The way to go about envisioning a bright future for our nation is very simple. Let us go back to the very essence of governance, which is the welfare of the people.
If we have in government, people who are there for the power and to line their pockets and enjoy the perks and privileges of the office, such people can never give good governance. Neither will they uphold and promote the welfare of the people. We can never get a workable vision from such people. Now, if governance is about the welfare of the people then the vision of any government must be people focused. Saying you have a vision to become a top 20 economy by the year 2020 is absolute rubbish. We are among the top ten oil producing countries in the world, but are we among the top ten richest? Are we among the top ten most industrialized? Are we among the top ten petrochemical hubs in the world? Do we even produce the petroleum products that we need? The answer is No. My submission therefore is that this approach to envisioning is flawed and egocentric!
I want my President to envision a nation where the man on the minimum wage is able to send his children to good schools and retire in comfort; where the lowest paid civil servant, upon retirement is a home owner and has taken good care of his family. My President should envision a nation where he himself as Mr. President doesn’t need to fly abroad for medical check-ups! When vision is focused on the people, you get the buy in of the people. My President should envision a nation where the hard working are able to live a good life with easy access to good food, good hospitals, good homes and security of lives and property. In one simple paragraph we can paint the picture of the ideal nation desired by our people. That way we can mobilize our people and our resources towards actualizing the vision.
Instead of trying to become a top 20 economy by year 2020, let us try to become the best place in Africa to live and invest. Let us try to become the best place on earth for a black person to realize his dreams. Let us try to become a country where there are no poor people. Trying to become a top 20 economy is vague and meaningless to the man on the street and even me, with all my education and Harvard Business School certificates! Give us a vision the common man can understand. We want a vision that puts purchasing power in the pocket of the laborer, three square meals on his table and a good roof over his head. It is not rocket science and you don’t need 1000 technocrats and a 5000 page report to do it.
• Muyiwa Kayode is the CEO at USP Brand Management and Author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding.