By CHIMA AKWAJA, OLUSHOLA BELLO and BUKOLA IDOWU
Mr. Richard Quest, anchorman of Cable News Network (CNN’s) ‘Quest Means Business’ and ‘Business Traveller’ who is also one of the world’s most famous media personality who has been in Lagos for the past one week to assess the state of the economy, progress made so far and the opportunities available for investors said that two drawbacks to Nigeria’s greatness are poor leadership and corruption.
Quest who has been sounding out business leaders across the oil and gas, manufacturing, quoted companies, media, Nollywwod/entertainment and public sector, traders and people on the streets of Lagos said it is a period fascinating period to be in Africa as the people are optimistic about the future especially Nigerians.
At an interactive session with some select business editors on Friday, Quest said “From my interactions, the response keep coming back about leadership in government, leadership in private business, etc. There is no shortage about entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Since my trip here, I have met people who are enthusiastic, ambitious, and aggressive in a nice way.”
Quest said people are succeeding in spite of government not because of it. Things are changing in Nigeria according to him. Nigeria is better off now than it was over two to three years ago, he said. However, “Corruption remains a challenge from my interactions with CEOs who says it is the first thing that should be addressed.
“Nigeria has got the potential to establish itself among global leaders. Every person I ask says corruption and leadership should be addressed. Of course, the western nations have been complicit in not dealing with corrupt African leaders who hid their loot abroad. The $50 million Ikoyi money is a good opportunity to put things right in Nigeria. I am leaving Nigeria optimistic. The young people I met on the streets are absolutely brilliant” he told LEADERSHIP.
Nigeria, a Great Nation
The CNN anchorman agreed with the journalists at the roundtable that the media has a pivotal role to play in nation building and to keep the leaders on their toes “It is the job of the media to report on corruption cases. Our job is to report it. It is not our job to solve it that is the job of the law enforcement agencies. CNN is famous today because it reports stories as it is without fear or favour.”
He said the governments in Nigeria and Africa needs to strengthen their institutions so that corrupt politicians and criminals cannot go scot free. “In America, government officials when caught are sent to jail. Same should happen here.”
Quest who earlier in the week said his trip to Nigeria was precipitated by calls from CNN fans that were not happy that the cable TV has largely ignored Africa when it comes to its ‘Business Traveller’ programme, said they decided to come to Africa beginning with Nigeria.
Speaking at some of the radio stations he visited in Lagos, Quest said “Last year, we filmed ‘Business Traveller’ across 10 countries of the world using nine airlines. The CNN subscribers/fans from Africa sent many complaints on twitter and various online platforms that we’ve ignored Africa on the programme. I wasn’t quite pleased because we had challenges of getting and out of Africa using low budget airlines.
“It’s difficult getting low budget airlines like EasyJet, Jet Blue, etc. It is difficult booking flights with your credit cards and arriving at the airports without encountering flights delays and cancellations. These challenges are still prevalent in Africa and it behoves on the leadership to solve them. We are in Lagos to assess the economy, the nascent democracy, and how far and where the country is going to in the future.
A brighter Future
“We will be shooting two episodes of ‘Quest Means Business’ on Thursday and Friday from Lagos. We will also be reporting CNN business stories from Lagos while I am here.” Quest who is very familiar with Nigeria said the vibrant youths, who are dominating in the Startup ecosystem across information technology, e-health, financial technology and the entertainment sectors are the future of the country. “I see people half my age across the media, business who are very optimistic about the future of this country.”
Capital Market Perception
Mr. Quest had during his trip visited the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) to abreast himself of the development, technological innovations deployed in the last few years by the leadership of the Exchange and direction the market is taking while sounding out stock brokers and honchos of listed firms.
Mr. Tunde Oyediran, a stockbroker, said that the perception of people towards Nigeria and the capital market with Richard Quest’s visit to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) last week will help to put it in the right perceptive.
“People will tend to understand our market more and especially from a renowned journalist like Richard Quest and this will show a kind of confidence especially from the foreign investors. This will boost the stock market” he said.
Jollof Rice Controversy
Quest said he had been enjoying Nigerian dishes which he claimed are rich and delicious. However, few days ago, he set the social media on fire following the response of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to a question by the CNN anchorman. Quest while holding a plate of Jollof Rice at a CNN televised function had asked the Minister of Information which country has the best Jollof Rice.
Mohammed who mistakenly thought he asked him the origin of Jollof Rice answered that it was Senegal. The Minister’s response did not go down well with quite a number of Nigerians who took to Twitter, WhatsApp and other online platforms to show their dislike. To them, Nigeria has the best Jollof Rice in the world. As at yesterday, the controversy was yet to abate as more Nigerians have created online memes and videos of the response of the Minister.
Speaking on the rice controversy, Oyediran said “this one is a trigger to our local rice now. With this, the government should partner with the rice producing company and create an enabling environment for the country to produce large quantity and import to other Africa countries as this will boost the country’s foreign earnings.”
A financial analyst, Mr. Ambrose Omrdion said it is high time, Nigerians should be proud of what they can produce and stop depending on importation. He noted that it is sad for a minister of Nigeria to have said that Senegal jollof rice is the best while the country is trying to promote made-in-Nigeria products.
Also, Mrs. DamilolaOseniyi, a private school teacher pointed out that, “I did not believe the minister will prefer Senegalese jollof rice to Nigeria.” According to her, Nigeria has the best rice and Dangote Industries and others in the rice production are doing a lot to improve on our rice production capacity and produce the best rice so far.
A teacher, MrBabatola said it was shameful that the Minister was not proud of the heritage he was appointed to protect and uphold. “It is like the tourism minister saying the tourist destination is not within the county but outside it. It is a slap on the faces of our women and chefs who cook the best Jollof rice. He may not know it but saying something like that on an international TV would have discouraged a tourist from the country.”
A trader, MrsAdesetan who said she had never tasted Jollof rice made outside the country said “even if Lai Mohammed feels Senegalese Jollof rice is better than the one cooked here, it was not right for him to have said it on CNN.”