Sunday, 7 March 2010

Attend Free Future Wealth Market Seminar By Olufemi Awoyemi

Attend Free Future Wealth Market Seminar By Olufemi Awoyemi, FCA, CEO of Proshare Nig. Ltd on the 24th of March 2010 at The Lagos Resource Centre, 9 Anifowose str, V/Island, Lagos.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Lagos Okada Riders and Death Wish

One of the challenges of living in a mega city such as Lagos is the pain and suffering Lagosians endure as they move from one location to another in a city choked with human and vehicular traffic. For a new comer to Lagos, (‘JJC’ in popular parlance), ability to jump on and off a moving ‘molue’, ‘danfo’ or other mass transit buses is one of the most important survival skills. Also ranking in equal importance are blessings and favour from the gods, of the good fortune of surviving a ride on a Lagos commercial motorcycle, popularly known as okada.

The public transportation challenge may not be peculiar to Lagos alone, as London with many years of organised rail and public transportation experience stills falls short in some regards, perhaps in a different and envious manner compared to the Lagos and Nigerian capital cities’ examples. Daily media reports in the U.K of ‘tube commuters miseries and woes’, ‘chaotic train timetable disruptions’ e.t.c suggest that the City of London and the U.K government still struggle to meet the transportation needs of an ever growing population.

For many Lagosians, riding daily on okada is an unavoidable part of their daily routine as only the ‘kings of the road’ have the daredevil DNA to waltz, dash, slide, ride and manoeuvre their way through the thick Lagos traffic. Their door to door service offering and cost effectiveness also sets them apart from other public means of transportation. This comes at huge costs though. A visit to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos and other hospitals in Lagos will reveal sad stories of young lives cut short, or maimed for life by the carelessness and sometimes overzealousness of the okada riders who obey only one law, that of the urban jungle which ‘accords’ them right of way in every traffic situation. For Lagos okada riders, patience is a relic word, now extinct like the dinosaurs.

There are reports that some state governments such as Cross River state, Imo state and the FCT administration have since banned commercial motorcycles in their state capitals. Perhaps, Lagos presents a peculiar challenge thus making wholesale ban of the okada impossible without the government adequately providing for easily available and other cost effective alternatives. The Fashola administration should be praised for its various strides in the area of improving public transportation through the provision of BRT buses and other initiatives but such efforts seem like drops in the ocean when juxtaposed against the millions of commuters that require public transport services to their places of economic activities every day in Lagos.

In Lagos, as in other cities, okada rides are for the rich, and the not-so-rich including school children who have now resorted to doing balancing acts seated 4 or 5 on an okada on a daily basis to and from school, a heart wrenching sight to behold. Okada rides are no respecter of persons and are not a determinant of one’s socio-economic status. Professionals, ‘big boys’ and ‘big girls’ alike have since joined the okada revolution. For many, the okada has become a ‘life saver’ helping them to keep vital appointments. A friend once took an okada from Funsho Williams Avenue to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport when it became clear to him that continued stay in his car which was stuck in the evening traffic would have meant missing his scheduled flight to London.

If you live and work in the Victoria Island area of Lagos, you may have discovered that the fastest means of moving around on the island is with okada, else you risk coming late for meetings and appointments. What many professionals working on the Island do, including yours truly is to park your vehicle at either Mega Plaza for a fee or in any other location and then flag down an okada to take you to your destination on the Island. A few survival tips may suffice here if you intend to arrive alive with your bones intact.

As a rule, I am always conscious of the person driving the okada I am about to hop on. I tend to favour mature okada riders who appear to have families; my thinking is that they will be more careful. The ones to run away from are those ones that look barely in their teens. Ride with them at your own peril, this is not helped by their very poor grasp of ‘Pidgin English’, with such CV, expecting them to read, understand and obey traffic signs becomes a tall order. It is important to adopt a master-servant role during the ride, and this is for a reason. Having been variously bashed, bruised, brushed and crushed by crazy Lagos drivers, your typical okada rider is an accident waiting to happen; their mentality has since turned to that of a victim hence the band of brotherhood they exhibit each time a fellow rider gets into an altercation with a car driver.

It is important that you attempt to control the mind of the okada rider even before you settle on his worn seat. How do you do this? You tell him clearly where you want him to take you to and agree fares upfront; ask him again to be sure he understands. Next natural thing for him is to zoom off with you in tow, but that’s where the control begins. It is actually within your powers to tame his ‘madness’ by telling him that you don’t want him to drive you to early death. You will be surprised that they will respond and slow down a bit, follow this up with an instruction to please not exploit every opening on the road as it is your head that may get crushed by the trailer. You also don’t want to climb on an okada that the driver has already twisted the handle as this makes balancing during manoeuvres more difficult.

Riding in a Lagos okada is like riding a crazy horse, even at that, crazy horses can be tamed, even if momentarily. Chances are that the okada rider will yield to you (he needs the money), if not, it is still within your rights to ask to be let off; afterall it is your life at stake. Remember that okadas are like trains, if you miss one, you can catch the next.

While we hope for better and improved public transportation system in all our cities, we will continue to patronise okada riders which are much hated but needed at the same time. Perhaps a programme of public education on basic traffic laws, health and safety etc for commercial motorcyclists in Lagos and other cities may be an interim measure to curb the risks that okada riders pose, for the average motorist who must now worry about not knocking the lawless okada rider down, and the wider society in general.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Review Of The Glo Brand In 2009

By Uche Nworah (

Many Indigenous Nigerian brands closed out the year 2009 in style. Despite the challenges experienced mainly by major financial services brands as a result of the ‘sanusitisation’ of the sector, it is interesting to note that other brands in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, including the telecommunications sector experienced continued growth in 2009. As a brand scholar, I am fascinated by the success stories of indigenous brands that mount strong challenges against the marketing onslaughts of the established multinationals. Perhaps one should save the stories of Chi, makers of Chivita, Dangote, makers of Dansa, HiTV, Emzor and other proudly Nigerian brands for another day. Kudos to the owners and brand managers of these and other indigenous brands for proving that Nigerians can nurture and manage successful brands, and even turn such brands into world class brands.

Glo, the mobile arm of Globacom, Nigeria's first multinational conglomerate is an interesting brand. The bullish manner the brand entered the Nigerian GSM and telecommunications market when it launched in 2003 with the impressive industry acclaimed per-second billing is only comparable to the famed business approach of its owner and Chairman, Otunba Michael Adenuga who with his children Paddy and Bella are currently pursuing an ambitious project that will revolutionise telecommunications services, not only in Africa but across the globe. The Adenuga solo funded $800 million Glo 1 submarine project is set to crash even further the price of telecom services while increasing capacity, and making voice, data and video transmissions faster, more robust and seamless.

During the landing at Alpha Beach, Lagos, Globacom’s Executive Director (Human Resources) Mr. Adewale Sangowawa had remarked that “Globacom is the first single telecommunication company in the world to own its submarine cable”. The high capacity Glo 1 optic fiber cable will bring direct connectivity between West Africa, the UK and the rest of the world. The 9,800 km long cable will provide huge capacity on its 2-fibre pair system. The Glo 1 cable will also provide excess bandwidth to all the cities connected to the cable. The cable will connect 14 West African countries through the branching units to the rest of the world, and will boost economic activities in the region, create job opportunities and serve companies in Europe and Africa. Potentially, the Glo 1 project will give Nigeria the lead in telemedicine, ecommerce and egovernance, among other practices that transform economies. This project is a timely reminder to many Nigerians and others who have doubted our potentials as individuals, and our capacity as a nation that the best is yet to come.

The Glo brand acknowledges that it probably couldn’t have gotten to its current market position of over 20 million subscribers, and fast closing in on MTN which had a 4 - year head start without the support of Nigerians who continue to embrace the brand as their own, having bought into the original essence of the brand. Many branding enthusiasts will argue that Glo’s ‘green’ approach, through the adoption of lemon green as its house colour and the original empowering ‘Glo with pride’ pay-off line, which it later jettisoned for ‘Rule Your World’ was a master stroke which aimed to give Nigerians their pride back as individuals. The subsequent acquisition of national football team assets including the Super Eagles, and title sponsorship of the Globacom Premier League have been key branding decisions that continue to help endear the brand to millions of Nigerians, especially in a country where many ‘eat, drink and sleep’ football. It may seem therefore that the brand now feels it is no longer getting value for the one billion naira it spends in sponsorship money annually and have now duly notified the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) that it will not be renewing its sponsorship contract. While this decision has been widely debated, what has yet to come out is whether the NFF have bothered to look into the concerns raised by Globacom, and how these could be resolved as noted by Vanguard Newspaper’s Onochie Anibeze in his column. I think that the way forward may not be in NFF’s tough talking and boasts that it will get another sponsor as any new sponsor will still demand that the issues of grassroots football development, investments in infrastructure, improved officiating and some other issues raised by Globacom be addressed.

The loss of the sports assets by Glo may mean good news for the marketing communications community in Nigeria, who may now be challenged to think up other creative and imaginative ways of capturing the sponsorship money that should have gone to NFF. Already, Globacom has shown through its 2009 branding activities that it is a brand that wishes to engage its key stakeholders and connect to them using the 360 degrees branding approach, involving above-the-line, below-the-line, through-the-line, experiential and web 2.0 activities. Following in the footsteps of past experiential franchises it has ran such as Rock ‘n’ Rule and Win ‘n’ Rule, Glo thrilled thousands of subscribers in 2009 with a well received music and comedy show it tagged Lafta Fest headlined by Basket Mouth, and supported by other leading acts. The company says it is taking the Lafta Fest franchise to Benin Republic next, with 10 shows already planned over a 10-month period in 2010.

Many subscribers took advantage of Glo’s Super Promo or text-4-millions promo which ran over a 3-month period. The promo produced 30 millionaires with one lucky subscriber Ibrahim Abukar, a 36 year old electrician based in Abuja and married with 4 children winning the grand prize of 30 million naira. Perhaps buoyed by the uptake and success of the Super Promo, the brand in a bold move is now running a 50% off promo on glo-to-glo calls. According to a company spokesperson, ‘this is to reward our most loyal subscribers’.

2009 has also witnessed a renewed relationship between the Glo brand and many of Nigeria’s leading actors and artistes. The brand signed on several of them as brand ambassadors and did the same in Ghana thus enhancing the star quality of the ambassadors plus the 6 digits figures many of them received. These ambassadors now feature prominently in Glo’s campaigns, a sure sign of the future of the brand’s brand communications thrust.

With an ever increasing branding budget to the satisfaction of the branding community, where do all these leave the subscribers in 2010? “Glo is positioned to offer extensive coverage, premium quality service at the best rates ever” says a company spokesperson. Only time will tell as Nigerians deserve nothing but the best.

Nworah is a brand scholar