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We can do this!


we-caI am Omoni Oboli and I represent Naija! Nothing brings you back to reality faster than working on a movie set. The holiday spirit was wiped out of me as soon as I called the first shot on set. Sleepless nights and intense work- days has left me drained of all the holiday rest and fun. I’m starting the year with doing what I love to do, and I don’t want to dwell on the negatives, so I am glad for the work that brings me a different kind of joy and fulfillment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. The little sleep is not pleasant, but I somehow find it quite satisfying, knowing what the final outcome will be. I believe that many in Nigeria would also feel the same way if they could just have a foretaste or a glimpse of what the future promises for the country. I believe they would gladly bear any hardship or pain for the moment, knowing the fruit it would yield in the long run. That’s what moves me and gives me satisfaction in my work; I can get through the hitches and inconveniences with the clear knowledge that the finished work would be a profitable delight.

I can’t think of anything more frustrating than wanting something so badly and realising that you’re not even in the process of achieving it. You haven’t begun to take the first step in the direction of your dreams. You can see the joy in the faces of those who gain admission into universities or are accepted into programs that would train them for the vocation of their choice.


What do they have at the time of their joy? Nothing! They understand that there is a process towards getting to their target ambition, and they relish those tiring and tasking periods of learning, growing, training and gleaning from others ahead of them. Those processes strengthen us, equip us and build us up to know the work and sustain us when we start the work so that we can get the ultimate prize of the reward the work brings.

To get through all that for something you’re not sure would yield the desired reward would be most unfortunate for anyone. That’s why we ask to know clearly what direction our nation is going so that we’re aware of the pains as well as the gains. Some may know, but it’s even more important to carry the most vulnerable ones along.

For example, my security guard is not particularly interested in my excuses for not making money that month, nor is my domestic help. All they want to see is their pay cheque every month! This is not the same for the staff that work in the office at the higher levels; they know the details and are more inclined to be sympathetic towards your plight because of that knowledge, though they also suffer from the lack of reward they need for their day-to-day living.

The idea that we can secretly help people by not divulging information, but expect them to continue working efficiently without their monthly salaries being paid at all, or delayed indefinitely, is the premise by which we breed a lack of progress, anarchy and mediocrity. When I treat my staff with respect as human beings, knowing that I have been blessed with being in that position, and not that they are beneath me or less intelligent than I am, I create an atmosphere that builds self confidence, creativity, trust and higher yielding productivity within my company.

If this is the same spirit, though with different embellishments due to difference in structure of different organisations, we will see a more effective business machinery begin to build a more profitable economy that we all can be proud of. The government has a major part to play, no doubt, but without a pervasive work ethic by the people and businesses, we will still be in trouble.

We need not be alarmed by our circumstances so far, but to see our situation as an opportunity to see what ought not to be done next time. Mistakes are good for one thing, showing us where we shouldn’t go next time. We should know that building self-confident people is the most potent economic tool necessary for nation building. We can’t complain ourselves out of a recession, but we can think and work ourselves out of it. This has been done by so many other countries and civilisations, that we have enough material to learn from to tackle our situation, so that we don’t have to spend time fretting over problems that have clear and proven solutions.

I am a woman, and it may be limiting for some, but I don’t recall ever seeing myself that way. I believe that people will try and put you in a box, or stifle your progress because of one form of prejudice or another, but our responses are really the limiting factor. It’s my choice of action in response to any negative or positive thing that ultimately determines my progress or regress. My movies have been hits, and even if they weren’t, I would still push forward towards achieving success, while also learning from my mistakes.


I also listen to constructive criticism and advice (‘constructive’ being the operative word) because we don’t know it all, and can’t know it all, so I can improve. I also understand the position we’re all in as Nigerians, and so I try to give the Nigerian the opportunity in any way I can first, even if he falls short of the international standard. This isn’t because I’m in denial of their capabilities, or think their work is better than their counterparts internationally, but because he or she gives economic value to the system I work and intend to make my profit in. If they grow, I grow! It’s as simple as that. This is the model the developed worlds have adopted that has been proven to be the catalyst for their rapid growth and development in all sectors of the world economy.

Let’s not smother each other in the name of ‘being real’ while we languish in economic penury due to our ignorance of the inner workings of the global economy. Our movies are doing better in Nigeria than the more refined western movies, and this is the quintessential example of how we can use our money to build a sector of the economy by simply adopting or growing a taste for all things Nigerian.

We have the population and this is what the world sees when they come into our country to sell their wares. They see the numbers, so let’s start using those numbers to effect deliberate changes in all sectors till we begin to see more value operating in the private sector than in working in the public sector. Till next week, keep smiling!

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Omoni Oboli
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