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Chief Lugard Aimiuwu is a man you cannot ignore. An internationally renowned Transformation Strategist and Marketing Planner, he is currently Chairman, Research International (Nigeria) and, until recently, Chairman, Admiral Insurance. He was the first post-charter President and Chairman of Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Management (200-2005). He led the strategic transformation and repositioning of the Institute.

In this interview with Daily Sun, he discussed the performance of the economy in the last 50 years, what Nigeria must do to leap out of economic doldrums and secure foreign direct investment, the challenges facing the chief executive officer of any organisation, and how to be a good manager.

Nigerian economy in the last 50 years
Fifty years is golden jubilee, which means we should have a lot of gold. But we are had a golden jubilee on first October this year without much gold in the kitty. Can this largely be attributed to underperformance and underachievement?

There are many reasons for this but the major one is governance failure and the major trigger of governance failure is leadership failure. There are other triggers. There is management failure, then followership acquiescent or lethargy. How do I assess performance? Nigeria has not realised its potentials. That it has fallen so far short of its potential is an embarrassment. I would define it in the context of Nigeria in the global world and Nigeria in a relationship with its own people.

When you are taking products to the market place, you are also looking at competition. How are you doing relative to competition? When you look at the United Nation's human development report for 2009, which is the most recent one, you find that the human development index (HDI) which rank countries according to the level of total development, ranked Nigeria as number 158. Nigeria is behind Uganda, South Africa, Namibia, which was at war for quite a long time. Nigeria is behind the Congo, Haiti, a place that was devastated and one of the most miserable places on earth?

Nigeria is behind Sudan where we have troops. So that is the performance of Nigeria relative to competition. Nigeria is behind Ghana and Cameroon. The danger is that if we are not careful and if we do not start facing the future boldly and collectively now and begin to do the right things, we may wake up one day and find that Benin Republic has taken over Nigeria.

Another angle from which to assess Nigeria's performance is in terms of service to the people. No analysis will be complete without looking the relationship of the country as a sovereign state to its own citizens in terms of welfare.

If we then look at the welfare scorecard as being configured, if Nigeria wants to shift from the 158th position to 20 by the year 2020 or even 2030, we must recognise that we are not alone in the world. We must recognise that others are also trying to grow; we must recognise that it is also going to be by competition.

The aggressive and fiercely competitive world requires high level of capability. Capability is one thing that will determine who will win, who is going to make it at all in the increasingly competitive world. The percentage of people in this country who complete primary education is 12.1 per cent. You've heard of Universal Basic Education (UBE), you've heard of free education but we have just 12.1 per cent as the number that complete primary education. That is alarming.

Then, how about those who manage to escape primary school and get to secondary school. The percentage of completion rate is 20.1 per cent? So, where is the capability going to come from that we will use in competing and achieving outstanding performance? Have you heard anyone addressing this issue in the on-going campaign in the country?

Welfare scorecard
Let us look at the welfare scorecard of the people. The percentage of people in this oil producing nation who have access to treated pipe-borne water according to a survey carried out in 2008 is 27.7 per cent of the whole population. The percentage of household in this country still using firewood to cook is 74.7 per cent of the whole population. You can see that we are in a different world. Yes, we are oil-producing country yet large number of people in this country has still not benefited from that and yet we have people celebrating 50 years anniversary and saying how great we are.

Do you know that there are some people in this country who have never tasted electricity either from NEPA or generator and their percentage is 14.2 per cent?

I am a professional and I will not give figures carelessly. All these people are campaigning, I want to be this, I want to be that, how many of them start by saying what the facts are, what difference am I going to make with our people. When you start doing that that is when you start doing the marketing role.

Role of marketing in repositioning the economy
Marketing is about creating value. It is about adding value to the lives of people. Marketing is not about propaganda, it is not about hype. There is logic to marketing, there is a process to marketing and there is a system to marketing. The fundamental logic to marketing is that the consumer or the constituent is at the center of all.

Marketing derives its justification and relevance or its reason for existence from its point to the target market. So, if we can get leaders who therefore put the interest of the people above personal interest, the country would have been placed on the path of success. For instance if a Nigerian in another country dies, it will seem as if a part of him has died; that is marketing spirit.

That consuming passion, that desires to do something for his people are the marketing spirit. The value base of the marketing spirit will then be certain ethical standard that we trust. Trust is very fundamental to marketing. We will make sure that next part of generation does not suffer that type of backwardness; that again is the marketing spirit.

The key thing is to know that Nigeria is not just an abstraction, or a void made up of carbon dioxide and other gases. It is not made up of rivers and mountains.

It is made of people and people make things happen or fail. The real Nigeria is people and Nigeria begins from you and me. We should not be waiting for Jonathan or somebody from somewhere to develop it. Nigeria is your school, your institution, the farm you have. If you can make each of this unit to work as much as we desire our dreams; the more the units work, the better the aggregate average and the chances of Nigeria's as an aggregation to turn a new leaf. This is the mathematical truth. None of us is better than the sum of all of us.

The universe is made up of subsets and constitutes the summation or aggregation of all the subsets. If each of the unit does very well, then the universe does very well. Conversely, if each of the success does very badly, it doesn't matter who is presiding the universe, the result will be same. You could then see the impact each sub-set has on the performance of all the others. That is where leadership becomes very important. Those who are in charge of leadership controls governance and what obtains in governance at the leadership level have multiplier effect on the people. You can pull people up and you can push people down.

The quality of leadership can make a major difference. And if you have a leader that is very charismatic, who is very visionary, who has all those leadership competencies, who can manage transformation; who can see the global picture, who has cognitive capacity, who is analytical, who is able to chat a path through the labyrinth of chaos, who can illuminate darkness and turn it into light, when you have that type of a leader, you can make a dramatic impact on the public. Of course, political leadership is very important, the legislators, the executive, judiciary all are important to achieve success.

So, marketing is being positioned to help sharpen Nigeria's competitiveness at the global stage. How does it do that? There is an institute i.e. National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria set up by law which has been reformulated very seriously in the last two years. Yes, there are factions before but we have to stop the factional violence and forged a very strong, cohesive, united institute, which is now able to come out with programmes aimed at upgrading the capabilities of marketers. Therefore, we are expanding the marketing vision to the public at large so that the more we invest in upgrading our capabilities through our training and programmes the better for Nigeria and every if every other institute does that and does it seriously, Nigeria will benefit from it.

How can we attract foreign direct investment into the country?

It is a simple thing; make yourself more attractive instead of all these rebranding they are talking about. You must start with the brand. No amount of advertising or promotion will sell a defective product. Make your product attractive before you start to rebrand holistically.