Communication Strategist, Ralph Anyacho picks up on a thorny issue of Anambra Diaspora investments and how Governor-elect can safeguard them.
Chief Ralph Anyacho, (Udosi achi) is the Director of Strategy at the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON)
The mood of Ndi Anambra after the conclusion of the gubernatorial election in the State which returned Prof Chukwuma Soludo as Governor-elect has been one of joy and great expectations. Everyone is expectant of stupendous development projects that would adorn the Anambra landscape if all of Soludo’s promises were accomplished.
One issue that deserves the attention of the Professor and the Transition Committee is how to attract Anambra Diaspora investments to the State. This means finding solutions to challenges faced by them in investing at home. Put simply, how do we manage the difficulties of accountability for funds that have been repatriated?
Diaspora investors tend to put their relations and friends in the forefront of businesses they want to invest on. Most often, the funds are not judiciously invested and the capital goes down the drain.
Two experiences narrated here will help drive home the point:
Uche Chizoba graduated from a university in the South East. Upon graduation in 2002, his Electrical Electronics degree could not fetch him a job. After shuffling the streets of Lagos, he could not secure a job. With parents getting old and five younger siblings waiting in the wings to be educated at that time, Uche persuaded his parents to a drastic action. A piece of land in the village was sold to finance his relocation to the US. Not long after he landed in Houston Texas, he secured a job with an IT firm.
Five years later, he repatriated some Dollars and gave instructions that the money be used to set up a business. He hoped this would help generate fund needed to stabilize the family’s financial standing and take care of two of his younger sisters. The young girls had secured university admission. The family chose to invest in poultry business and put their retired father in charge. Ten million naira was invested in the business. They hired staff to man operations and marketing.
Six months later, the business showed signs of growth, but this trend did not continue for long. Three years down the line distress set in. Sales dropped. Salary could not be paid as and when due. Creditors lined up for arrears of supplies made. Soon the family began considering what else to do as winding up became inevitable. A distress analysis indicated that the family managers did not keep accounting records and therefore could not measure the performance of the Enterprise. Managerial skills were lacking.
Further investigations revealed pilfering as a major cause of the down turn. Four staff of the company conspired to frequently remove birds and eggs which they sold secretly. Thus, Uche’s investment from abroad went down the drain.
If Uche’s experience is not enough to drive home this point, that of Bernard Ndu will. Bernard was a trader in Ochanga market before the economy got so harsh. His stockfish trade could no longer sustain him. It was time to check out. He sold out what was left of his stock and paid his way to Italy. Bernard’s job in Italy was clearing dust bins in search of disused electrical appliances, utencils, household materials and motor parts. He would team up with mates and ship the meretricious items to Nigeria.
After three years of the business, he decided to start a building project in his village – a place he hoped to move in from the shanty family house. Bernard who had lost his father before he relocated abroad trusted his uncle to help him oversee the project. The uncle would hire the contractor, monitor construction including making all necessary purchases for the building. Money began to flow from Bernard to his uncle for the project.
Two years after, Bernard was informed that the project had not gone beyond the DPC despite the huge funds he sent home. He was dismayed to learn that his uncle had squandered a large chunk of the money he repatriated for the project.
The experiences of Uche and Bernard are every where in Alaigbo, thus discouraging Umuigbo and in particular Ndi Anambra abroad from investing at home. What can the Government of Prof Soludo do to change the narrative and safeguard Anambra Diaspora investments?
I propose setting up a consortium of public/private management consulting outfit that would help our investor brother’s and sisters abroad to make sense of their desired investment. The consulting firm would have capacity in all aspects of business and would provide 360 degrees services to clients. One unique aspect of the consortium will be picking investible fund from investors and applying the fund to project chosen by them. The consortium will be total managers of the project.
Relations of the diaspora investors may be coopted as directors and as eyes of their relations who own the capital. In this way the investor will be assured that his fund is wisely invested and managed.