Thursday, December 24, 2015

December Randoms:: Life, 2016 Prophecies, Christmas...

It has been a crazy couple of weeks.

I have been very busy and constantly stressed. I frequently skipped breakfast, drove faster than usual, and slept less. I couldn’t be more grateful for this long weekend, as I finally get to spend quality time alone or with family – with the phones turned off.

I got on quite a roll in November and planned to read and write even more in December, but life had other plans. Here goes a few random thoughts I've been wanting to share all day.

**1**


One year ago this morning, I walked away from this – dazed and grateful.

I had a few bruises, nothing major, and recovered the total cost of the car. It turned out to be a great reminder of my mortality, and helped me re-affirm my commitment to live.

I first thought I wouldn’t drive on the Lagos – Ibadan expressway for years, but I have since made the trip multiple times – including one this morning ☺ ☺.

**2**

I spent some time working from and for our office in Nairobi this year, and I think it is a beautiful city. I love that there are lots of natural spaces sprinkled around the city, and it felt quieter and less hurried than Lagos. I also think the people are nice and welcoming, but not as friendly as Nigerians ☺.


I got the chance to discuss politics in Nigeria and Kenya with a brilliant colleague, George Owuor, and came away with the realization that many young Africans want the same thing: public institutions that work and a decent chance at earning a better life through diligence. I also met his family – and maybe I’ll write more about them subsequently.

And – thank you, Oghale, for being such an amazing host. You’re the best!

**3**

I’ll try some prophecy: 2016 will be a challenging year for Nigeria. It also holds a lot of promise, if we design and rigorously implement the right policies.

The scarcity of foreign exchange is hitting businesses hard, as many businesses import raw material, machinery, or services. Individuals are not spared, as we must cope with daily withdrawal limits outside the country and possible blocks on online transactions from January. Certain brands may disappear temporarily, while prices may rise significantly for those that remain available. Import substitution and export boosting will not happen overnight, and it will be interesting to watch market movements in 2016.

I protested against the subsidy removal in 2012, but I now think it should go. It has cost us N950bn this year – more than double the amount we will spend on Works, Power, and Housing next year; and nearly five times our Education budget. The President wants to keep the petrol price at N87 for now, so the PPPRA must quickly revise their pricing templates to reflect current realities – thereby reducing our subsidy expense in 2016. The PPPRA should also improve their regulation of retailers – to ensure citizens benefit from the subsidy if we must keep it.
With Iran’s re-entry to the market and the US Congress removing their 40-year ban on oil exportation, the oil price will stay low for a while. I like this, as it forces us to plug leaks and creatively source revenue from other sources. I have long wished for taxes to form a larger share of government revenue, because this ties government revenue to the ease of doing business and making profit. This link will also increase government’s sense of accountability to the people, and citizen participation in governance. I don’t think the government (Federal or State) needs to raise taxes. Tax agencies simply need to widen their tax nets and ensure maximum compliance with existing regulations.

I think things will get more interesting in 2016, as Buhari’s cabinet finds their feet. The policy statements from Fashola and Fayemi may not be perfect, but they are steps in the right direction. Now we need to execute excellently.

It is no easy feat to predict the future, and there is a lot I have left untouched – including domestic security and further devaluation. The guys at SBM Intel have prepared a detailed 2016 outlook. Find it here.

**4**


It’s Christmas tomorrow!!!

It is very easy to be caught up in celebrating the day, so I would like to implore you to spend some time thinking about Jesus and His message. We should also remember those who are not as privileged as we are, and show some Jesus love tomorrow and always.

I wish you a merry Christmas, and happy holidays!

Koye.

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