The Short-Term Mentality That Keeps Us Poor

O boy e its tough to live and work in Nigeria right now!’  

Every single conversation I have had in the last couple of months has begun with a tirade of complaints about how the economy is frustrating our lives but one particular conversation got me thinking about the parallels that can be drawn from the way our government handles money, with the way we think about money as individuals.

Na de change we vote for be dis’?

Chioma complained. She is an interior designer who has run a thriving business for the past five years but in the last six months her business was seriously struggling. Although she made some of the furniture she sold to her clients in Nigeria, she also imported some of the components as well as a substantial amount of finished products. She had never had access to the CBN official rate but at N160 to the dollar, her business could generate a positive cash flow even with import duties and servicing her bank loan.

However, with the dollar closer to N320 it was becoming harder to do business and maintain the quality that her clients had become accustomed to.  To compound her problems, the insistent fuel crisis meant, she had logistics issues because her trucks were constantly queuing for fuel, her workers were always late because there weren’t enough buses and transportation costs had doubled for them. Worst of all, business was slow, even her regular customers were not patronizing her as much because liquidity was tight and high end furniture was not at the top of their list anymore.

Needless to say like many business owners, Chioma blamed the government. She blamed the past government for its excessive spending and corruption and the new government for its inability to quickly effect the ‘change’ that was promised during the elections or provide an economic policy direction that both domestic operators and international investors can have faith in.

With double –digit inflation at 12.8%, the unending fuel crisis, CBN’s impractical foreign exchange policy and economic growth slowing down to a little over 2% from just over 6%. I honestly couldn’t blame her for wanting to hold the government responsible for our current predicament as a country. However, It could be argued that the leadership that we’ve had in the last 16 years is only a reflection of our own short -term greed, so we are all guilty. Guilty of the short- term thinking that got us here in the first place because there are many parallels that can be drawn from the way our government thinks about and handles money with the way we think about and handle money as individuals and in our businesses. We can continue to complain about everything the government has done wrong but we must also look at our own lives and see how we make similar mistakes in our own personal and business finances.

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1 Comment
  1. Excellent piece! Our short term thinking as individuals and as a country is one of my favourite discussion topics- and I couldn’t have said it any better.

    I really do hope that we can take this time of ‘difficulty’ and to stare hard at ourselves, accept the truth and pay the now painful price to adjust. I’d like to encourage us that positive change on our parts individually and as a collective, no matter how painful now, will yield much more fruit than hoping ‘e go better’ and waiting for our children and grandchildren to suffer even more and pay a far more painful price in future!

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