Housekeeping: This Site Is Not For Sale

I realise I have been rude and should have told people who read my stuff here where to find my writing now.

I started experimenting with writing on Medium last year and got hooked on it. It’s much easier and pleasurable to write on.


Ideally, I should have just pointed this domain to the new medium page when I moved my old stuff but there was a small problem – you can’t move comments when you move from WordPress to Medium. I’ve received some really valuable comments here so there was only one option left. is now

All the old stuff has been transferred to the new location except, of course, the comments.

So if you’re a subscriber to this blog, you won’t get any more updates here. Bookmark the old page instead.

Perhaps this is all very presumptious of me and you don’t really care for what I write anyway. I apologise if that is the case🙂



[Guest Post] The Word On The Streets: Weekend In Ghana Edition

FF :I am not sure I have ever been to Ghana. But like me, I am sure many people get carried away thinking they know the country very well. After all, it’s just next door and every Nigerian has Ghanaian friends. 

A friend went to Ghana for a couple of days and sent me this interesting post on what he saw out there. 



  1. My first observation was when I landed. The Kotoka Airport is smaller than MMIA but what struck me was the cleanliness and order. The immigration people were professional, the baggage carousels were labelled and effective. Heck, even the toilets were extremely neat. Add the fact that customs people were not asking the ‘wetin you carry’ question and it was love at first visit for me. I understand the terminal was opened 6 months ago and its still spick and span. I was understandably ashamed of MMIA.
  2. Ghana is a much smaller country than Nigeria but I noticed that while their roads are smaller, they are in very good condition. This was so in Accra and even when I took a road trip to Akosombo, 2 hours away, the journey was extremely smooth. Not sure if this is replicated all through the country but the 2 towns I visited had roads in good condition. As an aside, I went on a 2-hour road trip and there was no policeman stopping us to ask stupid questions. Bravo!
  1. Living in Nigeria and getting used to our heightened sense of security, whether over Boko Haram or even the dare devil armed robbers, it was a pleasant surprise to go to a country where they did not have issues like that and where one did not need to go through bomb scanners when going into hotels or malls.
  1. Still on security, the President’s residence and office are smack in the middle of town. What struck me was that there was no security outside the gates, save for 2 sentries I saw. In addition, it’s on a major highway, meaning that vehicular traffic around the president is very high. I am still in shock as to how simple the whole thing looked.
  1. Accra looks like a massive half-finished construction site. The most obvious evidence of the recent economic recession we have been hearing about. There are many ambitious projects which have been abandoned in the wake of the economic recession in Accra and the Oil price crash.
  1. Talking about the recession; power in Accra is at an all time low. From 24 hours a few years ago, to scheduled load shedding last year, Ghanaians are now used to what we experience in Nigeria; unscheduled, long periods of time without power. This has also affected the roads as most Accra roads are not lit as part of load shedding. I understand that the Minister of Power promised to resign if there is no uninterrupted power supply by 31 Dec 2015 [FF: Indeed he has resigned]. However, a few weeks ago, he tempered that with ‘barring unforeseen circumstances’. Ghanaians are waiting for what he will term ‘unforeseen’. They don’t expect him to honour his word.
  1. Prior to leaving Lagos, there had been a lot of talk about Nigerian manufacturing companies moving to Ghana. However, my ‘sauces’ in Ghana insist that the reverse is the case. They mentioned that Cadbury had recently closed up shop in Accra and that most of their consumer goods are imported from Nigeria. I also know that Kimberly-Clark manufactures pampers in Nigeria for export to Ghana. In addition, a lot of companies operating in Ghana are scaling down seriously. A lot of people got their sack letters this December. My friends work in banks and they mentioned that their clients and even their employers are letting people go on a large scale. As I typed earlier, it’s all very confusing and does not line with the impression of Ghana one reads about on Nigerian twitter.
  1. Talking about Nigerian exports to Ghana, Nigerian music is a big deal here. No party is complete without Nigerian music. Even the wedding I went for, people did not start dancing until Davido came up. I also saw a lot of our ‘oil and gas’ companies: Oando has a number of stations in Ghana. Same for Sahara, which has a company in Accra. Don’t ask me what they do there though. Just saw this nice Sahara Fire truck in my friend’s house (picture below). Another noticeable export is Silverbird cinemas, which is one of the biggest in Ghana. When I saw the Silverbird logo, I remembered again that Ben Murray Bruce heads one of the largest entertainment outfits in Africa. Still difficult to reconcile this fact to the man’s tweets. Politics really makes people do strange things!

Sahara Truck

  1. One company that’s not sacking people anytime soon has to be the company that promotes Game and Shoprite stores. They are as ubiquitous in Ghanaian malls as they are in Nigerian malls. Whoever set out their business model and expansion strategy is right on the money (another Shoprite opened next to my house in Lagos this December)
  1. Still on the economy, I have to mention how difficult this fx issue is. My Nigerian cards did not work in Ghana. CBN does not want us using cards in African countries again. In addition, my friend was in Nigeria in 2013 and I changed USD into Naira for her. She had leftover naira and wanted to change to USD. Let’s just say she was shocked that her naira that was worth 100 USD is now worth a little above 50USD.
  1. Coming from Lagos where weddings are such elaborate events. Was pleasantly surprised to see that Ghanaians still keep weddings simple. My friend’s dad is CEO of a bank and even at that, the wedding was small and very unpretentious. In total, we had less than 200 people. The reception was in the club house of their dad’s estate; other users of the club house were going about their normal sporting activities while the reception was on. There was no unnecessary show off. The picture below shows the entire wedding venue

Ghana Wedding

  1. Talking about simplicity, Ghanaians are very simple and nice. I met the VP of Ghana at lunch in my friend’s house and if you had not been told who he was, you would never have guessed. Came in a convoy of 2 cars, about 4 security personnel (including drivers) and sat with us like any normal guest. In addition, his security detail were quite discreet and not overzealous like their Nigerian counterparts. Very refreshing
  1. Ghanaians, like Nigerians, are a very superstitious lot. Coming from the airport, we passed a portion of the road where there were thousands of bats flying. This is just in front of 37 Military Hospital, one of the biggest in Ghana. I understand that the bats are there because a very powerful chief died in the hospital. The bats escorted him there when he was sick and they never left because they are still waiting for their principal to be discharged. This is local folklore but its quite strange that there is no congregation of bats anywhere else in Accra, at least on such a large scale. More here.
  1. If you thought religion was big business in Nigeria, I would posit that it’s even bigger business in Ghana. Everywhere I went, I was inundated with many billboards advertising churches and pastors: I daresay there are more billboards advertising churches than companies! In addition, there are so many churches. In fact, on one street, there were 3 massive churches next to one another. Wonder how they manage to hear themselves.
  1. I cannot end this without mentioning how popular President Buhari is in Ghana. The man is loved and I understand some Ghanaians have started naming their children after our president. They also wish their president was a bit more like PMB. Understandably, they do not feel GEJ was a good president; the impression I got from the people I spoke with was that he was very weak.
  1. Arik Air took off on time both when I was leaving Lagos and heading back to Lagos. In fact, we left Accra 15 minutes early. Even the pilot was shocked by this that he had to mention that he never thought it was going to happen that an Arik flight would be 15 minutes early. It bears repeating. ARIK AIR WAS ON TIME!
  1. My take on the Jollof rice war. What Ghana has should never be called Jollof. It is a travesty for our Jollof to have the same name as that ‘red rice’ they make. Their waakye (rice and beans combination) is absolutely fantastic. Take with Imodium though….

The final word on Ghana – my impression is that this is a country that is fast slipping into the rut Nigeria has found herself. I am really hoping that they pull through especially as I really felt at home there. Accra has the best Lagos has to offer, while managing to avoid some of the worst bits of Lagos. It is the first town outside Lagos I can comfortably live in without missing Lagos too much.

The author is @oladayo01 on twitter.

My Books of 2015

I think I did much better with reading this year. I read some good things which really educated me and expanded my mind. To continue the ‘tradition’ that is now in its 3rd year (see 2013 and 2014), here are the best things I read in 2015

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World


Hands down the best book I read this year. For me, this is the definition of what a good book should be – you come away from knowing so much more than you knew before you opened it. Every page contains a revelation and is written in such a breezy style that is accessible to anyone.

The book also really made me sad for 2 reasons in particular. The first one is that I entered ‘Nigeria’ in the search function on my Kindle and all the references were either of militancy or something embarrassing. In terms of the development of the oil industry or contribution to technology, Nigeria is never anywhere to be found in those conversations. Yet, the country continues to depend so much on a commodity for which it has less than  a zero say in how the market works.

The second sad thing was Chapter 9 which illustrates how China discovered oil and then parlayed this into broader national development. The scale of the opportunities Nigeria has lost really hit me here and nearly made me cry.

I thank Bobby E for recommending this book to me.

Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective


I always say that Thomas Sowell is the man who taught me how to think. Now 85 years old, the man continues to fire on all cylinders.

This book is a deep dive into history that explains patterns of wealth and poverty that continue to manifest till this day. The hand of history is strong indeed.

But it’s also hopeful. He documents numerous examples of people who have overcome often impossible challenges to move from the natural state of poverty to wealth. As he says – there is no mystery about poverty, it is wealth that needs explaining.

Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security


I wrote about this book earlier in the year here. It’s a survey of the effects of corruption around the world and the sheer damage it does to people and how it makes it practically impossible to implement useful policies.

Of course, Nigeria features in it but what is interesting is looking at our corruption compared to others.

The book doesn’t distinguish between the types of corruption as I tried to do in my post about Lunatic Liu, but it’s worth a read still.

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America


America is blessed with some really good journalists and Jill Leovy is one. This year has been full of stories of (white) policemen in America killing unarmed black men. Each story gets a lot of publicity as it should. But there is a deeper problem that goes largely unreported – an epidemic of black men killing other black men.

What the author brings to the story is an attempt to answer why it continues to happen. And it is the most convincing answer I have seen on the subject so far.

It also made me think about the Middle Belt in Nigeria and the vicious cycle of killing there. Without justice, there is no hope for a solution to such problems.

One of the best books I have read in a long time.

The Fishermen

Chigozie Obioma-The Fisherman

I read one fiction book every year and I am glad I picked this one. I suspect that much of it is autobiographical but it’s still a great read.

There are various ways you can read it but the one I chose the CIA ‘prophecy’ about Nigeria breaking up in 2015. Someone makes a prophecy and then you are so terrified by it that you then unwittingly do everything in your power to make it come true.

Because the book is layered onto the political events of the time it was set in, it is hard to escape the fact that this is really a story about Nigeria’s determination to ruin itself.

The Looting Machine


I also reviewed an excerpt of this book earlier year here. The title of this book really should have been ‘Africa Is a Country’. From Angola to Nigeria to Guinea to wherever else; the pattern of looting is the same. Brain dead leadership who have no clue how to move a country forward simply help themselves to resources to pass the time. It’s all they know how to do.

The author is white so there’s a limit to what he can say. The question as to why Africa continues to produce such people as leaders is what is really interesting. Until that question is debated frankly without it turning into ‘racism’, things might continue this way for a while.

China’s Disruptors: How Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, and Other Companies are Changing the Rules of Business

China's Disruptors

I also try to read one China book each year and this was a really fun one. The best thing about it is not so much the optimistic story the author paints (debatable) but the cast of characters he names.

So many Chinese entrepreneurs I had never even heard of made a showing in this book. And they are doing amazing things in China. The country has truly come a long way since Mao.

Read this one for some inspiration about what is possible for people who are determined.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

Warmth of Other Suns

Sometimes the best way to escape a hopeless situation is to just get up and go where there are better opportunities. Because this great migration – of blacks leaving the south for the north – happened inside America, it’s probably not as well told as, say, the migration of Jews and Scandinavians to America in the late 19th Century.

The real achievement of the author was her ability to tell such a deeply emotional story while doing her best to stay even-handed.

And with the way the world is eternally interesting, blacks are now migrating down south from the north in large numbers these days. Again, the lure is opportunity.

Who Gets What – And Why: The Hidden World of Matchmaking and Market Design

Who Gets What

One of the most annoying things I hear people say is that economists only do ‘theory’ and don’t know the ‘real world’. It sounds good especially if you find the arguments hard to take. But it is nowhere near true.

Fortunately, Professor Roth is here to correct that with this joyful book about how market design can improve lives in very practical ways. if you have ever used eBay, it might interest you to know that the feedback and rating system was designed by 3 PhD students of Prof Roth’s. What about the commodity exchange in Ethiopia? Prof Roth himself designed that one.

I’m told that Sanusi Lamido, as Central Bank Governor, invited Prof Roth to Nigeria to advise on designing a commodity exchange or something. Of course, his recommendations were put in a file somewhere and have been ignored ever since. Nigeria is too big to be taking advice from a Nobel Prize winner I guess.

The best thing about this book for me is that you come away thinking that the author is a very decent man and a fine gentleman who is passionate about using economic tools to improve lives.

Hive Mind

Hive Mind

I’ve only just started reading this one and I’m not finished yet. But it is fascinating enough for me to include in this list.

The author makes a very interesting case that individual intelligence in a nation does not matter so much. What really matters is the average IQ of the nation. Believe it or not, average IQ correlates with so many interesting things including infrastructural development.

But don’t panic! Low IQ does not mean things have to stay that way. The Flynn Effect tells us that IQ can be increased over time (Thomas Sowell’s book above also documented how IQ of blacks in America significantly increased over a relatively few number of years which then embarrassed all the people who thought low IQs were permanent).

So if higher IQs are a very good thing and IQs can be increased, this obviously has policy implications as to what kind of things can be done to increase the average IQ of a nation.

I will be doing a fuller review of this book later in 2016.

What I Will Be Reading In 2016

My Kindle is already full of books to read next year. As I have now spent 12 years living in Britain, I plan to immerse myself in the history of the country next year. It does seem like an impossible task as every inch of soil you stand on in Britain carries thousands of years of documented history.

I’m starting with Professor Robert Tombs’ The English and Their History. I’ve read a couple of chapters and it is quite fascinating. Professor Tombs and his wife Professor Isabelle also wrote a book about the history of the relationship between France and England – That Sweet Enemy. It’s also on my to-read list.

I’ve bought Frank McLynn’s Genghis Khan: The Man Who Conquered The World. The reason I bought this book is purely down to the excerpt below

The harshness of the Mongolian habitat and the complexities of nomadic pastoralism help to explain the many potentialities of Mongol society eventually actualised by Genghis Khan.  Care of massive and variegated herds and flocks produced a number of consequences: adaptability and ingenuity of response and initiative; mobility and the capacity for rapid mobilisation; low levels of wealth and of economic inequality; almost total absence of a division of labour; political instability.  Migration meant constant alertness and readiness to fight, since wealth in livestock is almost by definition highly vulnerable to raiding, reiving and rustling. Managing large animals was inherently more strenuous and dangerous than tending crops, so the very nature of pastoral life produced a hardier breed than would be generated by the peasantry.  Migration in peacetime also produced martial qualities via the surplus energy available for fighting, since in a pacific context warriors could leave the minutae of herding and droving to women and children.  when the fighting came, it was less destructive than for sedentary societies that had to defend fields of crops, cities, temples and other fixed points.

I read that and I was like woah! This will definitely will teach me something about the herdsmen situation in Nigeria.

I’ve also got 2 books on economic development lined up – The Public Wealth of Nations and The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World.

One book which I think will be interesting is coming out in February – Made in Africa: Learning to Compete In Industry. I will definitely be reading this one as the authors have first-hand experience and most likely know what they are talking about.

Finally, for fiction, I will be reading Elnathan John’s Born On A Tuesday. It has come highly recommended by a few friends who have read it.

I wish you a prosperous 2016 full of good reading.


P.S I didn’t include the articles I read this year because it is impossible to list them – I read too many good articles. Way too many. But to pick one random one, try this one about goats in Somalia. 


A Foolish Consistency…

…is the hobgoblin of small minds.

It costs something like $30 to extract a barrel of crude oil in Nigeria. So when oil was trading at $110 Nigeria had a margin of around $80 to play with. But when oil drops to $45 as it has now, that $80 margin turns to $15 as the cost of getting the oil out of the ground still has to be incurred.

To put the above numbers another way — while oil prices have dropped by 60%, the revenues available to Nigeria have dropped by 81%. That is, revenues have dropped much more than oil prices have dropped. Nigeria is earning almost nothing these days and you can imagine how disastrous it will be if oil prices drop further to $40 or even less

That’s a small slice of a piece I’ve written on the history of how Nigeria’s foreign exchange rate became such a political matter.

You can read it here. It even has pictures


Guest Post: Move Over Quantitative Easing

I wrote a piece recently about how to bring down borrowing rates for Nigerians by using QE to bring down government’s cost of borrowing. The point of this was to get banks out of the (very profitable) game of lending money to the government and force them to move to lending to consumers. 

Well, lately government’s borrowing costs have been crashing but CBN didn’t do any QE. So how exactly did this drop in rates happen? I asked a very smart friend of mine to explain and he sent me the piece below. Enjoy


Move over QE, Hello Liquidity Easing

Over the last few weeks, the Nigerian yield curve has witnessed a spectacular collapse in the literal sense of the word, particularly at the short end of the curve where effective yields closed yesterday at 3.39% for the 91-day, 7.22% for the 182-day and 7.95% for the 364-day paper.

This resulted in surprising results at the Nigerian Treasury bill auction yesterday with the Debt Management Office (DMO) refinancing short-term maturing government debt at 5.8% (91-day), 7.9% (182-day) and 9.48% (364-day). For comparison in December last year, the DMO issued a one-year paper at an effective yield of 19% while for much of the year secondary yields were above 10%.


Nigeria: Yield Curve

The crash on the yield curve contrasts with the underlying fundamentals of the economy for several reasons.

Firstly, as an oil dependent economy, the collapse in oil prices means Nigerian debt is more risky and as such should demand higher premiums. Ditto the ratings downgrade by S&P this year, which lowered Nigeria’s credit rating to B+ from BB-, though notably, Moodys’ and Fitch left Nigeria unchanged.

Secondly, the implication of the lower fiscal revenues means that the Federal Government (FG) should borrow more this year, which given the dominant nature of FG debt in the domestic debt market should translate to higher yields as supply rises.

A third rationale for the argument over higher yields was monetary policy. With the NGN under pressure, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s forward guidance at November 2014 MPC, where it announced a 100bps increment in the monetary policy rate to 13%, was hawkish. The goal of the apex bank was to keep domestic interest rates high so as to sustain foreign investor interest in Nigeria as higher rates, compared to other emerging markets, should attract foreign portfolio investors which will support the NGN. Towards this end, the usual tightening tool came to the fore: elevated issuance of OMO bills and deployment of all kinds of liquidity sucking tools to keep financial markets tight so that rates are high.

Recent Events

Fast forward to September 2015 and JP Morgan’s decision to oust Nigeria from its treasured EM bond index, which the American bank blamed on the new FX market system, the rationale for tightening suddenly floundered.  Amid a rapidly deteriorating economic picture with GDP growth sliding to record lows what then is the rationale for tightening?

Indeed, with the worst having occurred, the CBN it would seem decided there was no point stifling the domestic environment anymore to appease foreign portfolio investors. Indeed language from Nigerian policy makers changed tone afterwards, from one which took glory in Nigeria’s listing in global indices to one which basically said ‘eff these ineffable foreigners’, Nigeria for Nigerians!

As it was a liquidity squeeze that the CBN used to keep yields tight, so it was going to be a liquidity ease that would drive rates lower. Subsequently the CBN stopped rolling over maturing paper or bothering about excess liquidity, it simply let them mature. Then at the MPC, the apex bank delivered the first dovish policy since Sanusi began hiking rates in the fourth quarter of 2011 by reducing the cash reserve ratio to 25% from 31% previously. The result: liquidity levels began soaring over October with markets opening at one point over N1trillion naira.

The first signs were on the interbank / open buy-back which crashed to 0-1%. After slamming that market down, the ‘idle’ liquidity weighed on the short end of the naira curve dragging that yield down as well before pulling down bonds.

Interbank Rates

So What Next?

So how does this affect the price of crayfish in the market? For now it’s not likely going to mean much. It’s how long the depressed level persists. If the CBN follows through by firming up market expectations at the November MPC, then corporates are the most likely beneficiaries in the short-term. Thanks to the instrumentality of the FMDQ, corporate companies can now raise debt (short and long) in the market putting pressure on lending rates by banks to the segment. Banks will have to re-price loans lower over the next few quarters as corporates could easily test the market and with the risk-free government paper at depressed levels, the rates on the market could be much cheaper than banks.

However, in terms of scale and size, banks still face a problem on the asset side of their balance sheet, in particular following the TSA implementation in September. The FG will not be issuing as much as previously as fiscal cash management improves. Even worse next year, the zero COT charges go into effect, which alongside the loss of FX trading income means non-interest incomes are going to come under pressure. On the loans side, corporate Nigeria is currently struggling with weak revenues and cannot be a sustainable outlet for the idle funds. Inevitably, banks will have to go down the credit curve and start lending to the man on the streets in the medium term which means they will need to lower the terms i.e. interest rates.

The way things are set-up now CBN is everybody’s daddy, they’ve got the banks where they want them. A slight reduction in CRR would induce more of this liquidity easing. If the bank plays its cards right: avoid unwarranted OMO issuances and the government fiscal discipline improves, statements by leading APC politicians about driving down lower interest rates may not be a horse’s wish.


So there you have it. To summarise – the CBN has decided to leave money in the market instead of mopping it up as it normally does. All that excess money is now hustling to lend to the government. Laws of demand and supply have therefore taken over – the greater the supply, the lower the price. 

I thank my guest who prefers to remain anonymous. 


Cash And Carry Industrial Policy

“We are an import dependent economy” – This is what you’re likely to hear if you mention ‘devaluation’ to any Nigerian these days.

But assuming it’s true, how does Nigeria move from being such an economy to one that depends on exports for its living?

Here’s the concluding paragraph of my new piece over at Medium where I outline how Nigeria can possibly restructure its economy in the short to medium term:

Simply repeating that Nigeria is an import dependent economy is no longer enough. Wishing that the economy will somehow diversify itself is not the behaviour of serious people. The current fiscal challenge as a result of the collapse in oil prices ought to be a teachable moment for Nigeria. But it is not the first time oil prices have crashed and there is no evidence that anything was learnt the last time it happened.

The full piece is here. It’s a bit long but I hope it’s worth your time.

Please read and share



Writing On Medium

I’ve been experimenting with writing on Medium and I have to say it’s been a sort of addictive experience.

My latest post is on the state of education in Nigeria with particular reference to the disturbing material that kids are given to read. The concluding paragraph:

A state of emergency or something close to it is required for education in Nigeria. But everyone seems to know this already. Perhaps the problem so overwhelms our leaders that they would rather not bother with something where the payoffs are far into the future.

So for now, the best you can do is to watch your children are reading and watching

Read the full thing here

I also wrote something on Uber and Capitalism in Lagos as well as something on how to bring down interest rates as a response to Governor El-Rufai’s recent statements.

Check them out if you have the time! And if you want to get into writing, try Medium as a platform.