Monday, July 13, 2015

Every Story Has An End... Goodbye Casillas

Someone asked yesterday why I love Casillas. For the first time in years, I refrained from my standard response and took a trip down memory lane; back to the early 2000s’, when this affair began.

I played football regularly as a goalkeeper in Junior Secondary School. One game is seared into my memory. I arrived school late after the exams were over, and my class was three goals down in a game. I was substituted on once I got close enough to be spotted, and my class cheered as I got between the sticks (more like stones). I pulled off a few amazing saves to keep the gap from widening, and we got our act together and won the game.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

On Extractive Industries, Societal Development, and The Looting Machine...

I have long argued that the fact that Nigeria's government earns a huge chunk of her income from extractive industries (think oil) and not tax (and other IGR) means the government has less of an incentive to fulfill the social contract with the governed. A government (Federal or State) that relies on taxes for the bulk of its income is incentivized to grow the state's economy by making it easier for citizens to generate wealth (and employment) by doing business. Intellectual and physical property rights, transportation networks that work, security, cheap access to a steady power supply, and other such factors that support business growth will follow naturally when a government actually needs the people to survive.

One of the central themes of Why Nations Fail is that economic prosperity depends above other factors on the inclusiveness of economic and political institutions. Extractive systems tend to lend themselves to autocracies, as a connected few that control the means of extraction can unfairly enrich themselves and setup high barriers to entry for the majority of the population.

I've recently started reading The Looting Machine, and here's how Tom Burgis puts it; more concisely and succinctly I must say.

"...But more often than not, some unpleasant things happen in countries where the extractive industries, as the oil and mining businesses are known, dominate the economy. The rest of the economy becomes distorted, as dollars pour in to buy resources. The revenue that governments receive from their nations' resources is unearned: states simply license foreign companies to pump crude or dig up ores. This kind of income is called 'economic rent' and does not make for good management. It creates a pot of money at the disposal of those who control the state. At extreme levels the contract between rulers and the ruled breaks down because the ruling class does not need to tax the people to fund the government - so it has no need of their consent.
Unbeholden to the people, a resource-fuelled regime tends to spend the national income on things that benefit its own interests: education spending falls as military budgets swell. The resource industry is hardwired for corruption. Kleptocracy, or government by theft, thrives. Once in power, there is little incentive to depart. An economy based on a central pot of resource revenue is a recipe for 'big man' politics... resource rents concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few..." - The Looting Machine.
The Looting Machine is a great read and I may post a few more snippets as I go. Go here to view the book on Amazon.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

I'm Back! + Thoughts on Aloneness...

It has been quite a while since I wrote anything; exactly a month today since the last hurriedly written post on this blog. This state of affairs has not been for want of inspiration, or for want of time to put 'pen to paper'. I have been swamped on all fronts these past few weeks, and for someone who derives energy from being alone - I haven't made enough 'alone moments' recently.

Having realized it was time to come off auto-pilot, I decided this evening to spend quality time doing absolutely nothing. Nothing. Not chatting, not speaking to someone, not listening to music, not scrolling through Quora or Facebook, not seeing a movie, not typing an email, not worrying about someone or something. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The results so far are amazing. I have done nothing, but I feel stronger, have better clarity about which efforts to continue and which to discontinue, and overall feel more in control.

Life can often speed up into a blur. It is very easy to default to routines: wake, pray, work, eat, sleep, socialize, attend services, rinse and repeat. Routines and habits are great; they enable us to respond quickly to external stimuli within a present framework. However, we sometimes default to them so frequently that we stop living consciously.

If this happens do that; if that happens, do this, this and this.

It is very important for us all to take frequent retreats, to review our plans and confirm our ladders are still leaning against the right wall. According to Andy Puddicombe in this brilliant TED video, all it takes is ten mindful minutes a day.

May the road rise to meet you.