Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome Nigeria's Gilded Age...or is it? The Niger Delta Palace

Up there is not a Middle Eastern Palace, neither are you looking at something built in the Mediterrenean or Europe. That is Nigeria's own Niger Delta. Yes, that Niger Delta. Exclusively built by Israeli Architects, details about this monumental construction can be found here. My estimate is a cool $30 million to achieve this kind of feat..mind you, much of the accessories will be imported, aside from the very expensive expat brainpower that pulled this off.

Yes, it is that Niger Delta- the same one that is supposedly sorrow, blood and grief. Never mind the statistics that 70% of Nigerias live below the poverty line. We still have the richest man in Africa, and many more yet undeclared probably richer than him. If you're a lover or student of architecture like me, this is sugar high for you. If you're a social activist, you're probably miffed. In any case, the question is: will this set off competition of country home villas among our elites? Chances are before they're more likely to pull something regal in Lagos or Abuja, and reserve a simple building for their home villages. Well, the Gilded age is here!

Enjoy the video below..

Friday, August 03, 2012

The 4 Nigerian Economic Classes...

Okay, Nigerians complain a lot about lack of a middle class. But more interestingly, we might actually have a whole of lot of classes- just not in the middle. Here is my categorization of the different economic classes in Nigeria..tell me if I'm correct

Class 1 -The  Class of Contractors & Connected: Okay, if you belong to this class your last name is possibly Danjuma, Babangida, Obasanjo, Tukur , Gana, Maduekwe or Ojukwu. You get that contract and you don't even know what to do with it. You drive in big cars, nice houses and the oil wealth of Nigeria either via subsidy scam or otherwise flows into your pocket. Your family get a first stab at political appointments, concessions, contracts and import waivers. You subsist on the state and could care less if the rest of us are suffering. There is an emerging sub-category here, the folks closest to the oil in Niger Delta. You may also be one of those rising indigenous oil contractors. Your recent $30million oil vessel contract flows out of where you come from, and the militants that protect your community than what you actually know! That said, you're also politically exposed; your fortune rise and fall with the ebbs of power play. You are the 0.1%.

Class 2- The Tycoons: Okay, you are the true movers and shakers of this society. You are the one Class 1 rely on to get the job done, to cover their tracks if need be and to make this society at least work. There are three sub-categories here: the Inheritance Manager (yes, you the Dantatas, Abiola, Ibrus, Folawiyos, Igbinnedions and co). You owe your good fortune to Daddy, but got a great education along the way to inherit and manage this empire. The second sub-category are the hustlers. From nothing but with good fortune and friends, the sun is shining on you. You built that company from scratch..even when you didn't need. You're the Ovias, the Elumelus, the Dangote's. A third sub-category are the launderers. You built that empire using the money of Category 1 and smarts, and some good connection without putting yourself in harms' way. Well, need we mention Globacom and NICON. Enough said. Aside from occasional worrying of your asset being taken over by the  Class 1, or the inconvenience of kissing up to politicians- you're fine! You get that MOPOL plus some protection by the hungry journalists! You are the 0.9%

Class 3- The Biz Owner, Top Managers, Consultants and Gainfully Employed: Brother and Sister with a fine education, great upbringing in those years of yore and some smarts. You end up working with the Bank, Oil Company, media or telecom outfit. Great salary, great benefits, nice homes, good tidy savings and pretty contented. You can even afford the European Summer vacation, and top that- you get to sleep well at night! Aside from your occasional insecurity and strays of reminders from your Class 4 relatives that life is not all that your boss have built it up to be, you have very little to worry about.  If you're really lucky, you get that break into the Tycoon rank if one spoilt brat mismanages his father's empire. Oh well, your luck- their loss! A sub-category in this class that is often overlooked is the One man Consultant. Oh you miss him? he has 4 projects running at every time, no contracts, got his own website and brand and the Class 1 and 2 virtually depend on his big brains. No commitments though. He makes big bucks, but lives dependable income means his savings are often bigger than his house. He runs that NGO, and he/she is the one the foreign donors always gravitate towards: they trust him..if he deserves it, is something else. He sometimes becomes the Personal Assistant/Special Adviser/Aide etc. to Class 1, or the CEO of the Class 2 Foundation or Non-Profit. Love that gig! You know him (Class 3 guys), he is your "rich, connected" Uncle that can land you that NYSC reposting, through his "friends". Third sub-category? even the relatively independent  business owner, small scale industry proprietor or emerging entrepreneur belong to this category (at least you write your own check, even if small) . You are the 24%!

Class 4: Unfortunately, you're the struggling class. You literally make anything between $1000 a month equivalent and nothing! You may be ungainfully employed (barely can your salary cover transport, talk less of rent). You depend on the largesse of brothers, uncles and relatives to survive. You have translated your job to a means of survival and you barely see the upward mobility to transition into other classes. If you're lucky- your current job is your best hope. You survive on bootlicking, being a yes-man and staying to the oft beaten path of complacency and conforming! Oh my, you live on less than $1 in some instance. You are the 75%.

So , where do you fall? What are your plans for moving up in Nigeria or staying up?


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