Journey to Greatness: Reinventing Club Objectives for Investment


An entrepreneur is simply defined as one who produces what people need at his own gain. At creation God gave man innate instinct to subdue, control and dominate their environment. “And God blessed them (man and woman) and God said unto them ‘be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the earth and every living thing that moves upon the earth’ Gen 1:28.

Control, dominion, subjugation, manipulation and transformation of environments by humans have been going on and have been achieved by humans doing things in organized ways through the use of devices, tools, resources, and systems of one form or the other. Even when a process occurs serendipitously it is put into some organized way to achieve an objective.

The organized way of doing things is a human trait that all races, peoples and societies are endowed with. Indeed, humans and the entire universe appear to have been so designed by the Creator to ensure that humans can only survive, prosper and progress in the universe by imposing control on environment, events and systems.

Unfortunately, not all have understood this design. Some societies have had a head start and have become far more successful than others. For example, people of the South-west have advanced far ahead of those of us down here in margin of South-east. The reasons for the head start and subsequent disparity in industrialization have been explored by many writers and most agree that environmental determinism apart, it is essentially a socio-political issue of whether a club leadership can use industrialization to drive development. Understanding laws of nature is the first step of controlling nature. He who has the formula has everything, the greater the knowledge the greater the dominion.

In economic logic, understanding the need of an environment is the first step towards industrialization. No sane person sells a coffin in a society where people burn the dead. We must manufacture what people need.

Ebonyi State presents deliberate indicators to woo in investors. Our agricultural and educational sector sectors have largely been under-invested despite noise been made by the government. There are minerals that have not been tapped. Poverty is extreme and social amenities taken for granted in developing societies are visibly nowhere in our state.

In an environment like this, the inability of the government is a blessing for the investors. Investors operating in an environment like Ebonyi State provide at their own gain those infrastructures and amenities which people need and which government ought to have provided but which they have neglected either out of short-sightedness or leadership rascality.  If private investors come in, they will surely displace government if they are willing to satisfy consumers’ demand. People are no longer interested in who provides goods or services but want only to know if their demands are met. Experiences have led people even to distrust any services or amenities provided by government because of inconsistence that goes with it. In most cases, government uses substandard materials in providing these amenities owing to sharp practices of government contractors who are more interested in defrauding government than thinking of their actual beneficiaries.

The long-term success of every business stems from the strong relationship with the consumers based on the deep roots in the local cultures and markets, creating products that help people ‘feel good, look good and get more out of life’ with the total commitment to exceptional standards of performance and productivity. Sustaining business success means maintaining the highest standards of corporate behavior towards employees, consumers, customers, communities and operating environment.

Regrettably, not many have understood opportunities that are bound in our environment and those who have understood them are limited by finance. Poverty we know is a curse. It limits the ability and capability of an otherwise normal person. This is largely what is more endemic in our environs more than other places around us. In our case, there is a growing number of people who have the knowledge, ideas, of what and where to invest but are be hindered by the means. People have kept discovering investment opportunities but have always kept the ideas to themselves because of financial constraints.

Happily, wealth in the contemporary world is not simply to be found in resources but rather in ideas, entrepreneurial instincts and skills. The wealth of a nation is no longer stuff in the group; the wealth of the nations resides in the human mind, in human creativity. Poverty in today’s circumstance is primarily a matter of exclusion from networks of productivity and exchange; it is not to be understood simply or simplistically as a matter of having an unequal and inadequate portion of what are imagined to be a fixed number of economic goods. Thus we should think of the poor not as a problem to be solved but as people with potentials to be unleashed. All our effort should be to develop habits and skills that allow us participate in network of productivity and exchange.

It is therefore normal that we are poor; what is abnormal is that we are not determined and committed to unleashing our potentials. I am really afraid if we have exhausted our alternatives. And if yes, we are suffering poverty of mind which is the worst poverty. Wisdom ought to have taught us that what we cannot achieve as an individual we can achieve by pooling our resources together by combing our group potentials. Our fear of achieving as a group is an outcome of our unwillingness to take risks. If we failed to utilize opportunities that are available to us as individuals due to fear or lack of knowledge we can be blurred by group potentialities. Take for instance; we have negative perception of obtaining bank loan. Taking a loan from bank for investment is a risk that is becoming less common. This is because many who have gone for bank loans have mixed experiences. I too entertain such fears especially when investment is not entrusted in the hands of capable administrators.

We are therefore beseeched by multiple problems. We are poor; and this poverty has nurtured fears. The poverty is contagious. It has affected the way we think and plan. We have largely neglected that we are potentials waiting to be unleashed. The power to unleash ourselves is in us. We contain within ourselves treasures and good enough live in a society which government habitually misbehaves in caring for its citizens. And coming together as club willing to pool resources and mind, we can plot to overtake government and provide what people need at our own gain.

I want to make a proposal that may not have been in the founding objectives of your respective clubs. Unity they say is power. It is power to build with singleness of purpose. Far beyond the founding objectives of your respective clubs, I see hope in using your unity to achieve what you have failed to achieve for years and which many of your will not achieve for ages to come if left alone. Secondly, you can use your power to overtake government and champion the course of private sector participation in the economy. This proposal is a challenge to use your different clubs to spur industrialization in Ebonyi State. There are cottage industry opportunities waiting to be harnessed. These abound in the areas of providing good education and clean water to people who need them and at affordable rate, starting food processing industries, agricultural farm through private or public sector partnership in ways corporative societies do, acquiring machines in such industries as rice mill, quarry and so on. We can import with our club names household brands that meet everyday needs of our people and raise the quality of life.

Realizing these dreams calls for sacrifice. We should be ready to give up certain chronic club habits which many have taken as a must for every club. To get these dreams working, the era of squander mania must give way in our different clubs. When we pay heavily to help a colleague host red carpet reception at wedding, churching and burials, he forgets his status and cuts his cloaks above his size. We cannot continue to subsidize consumption and leave a pile of debts for our children. If we must borrow to fulfill club commitments, that money must be channeled to production which our children will its gain tomorrow.

To come close to using our clubs to spur industrialization, the era of merry-making, spending scandalously in food, drink and at public function must give way. The era of wearing costly uniforms to show off at celebration, printing almanacs and the like must give way.

This involves risks. Setting up industry demands activities, operation and maintenance of equipment and facilities and indeed the management of industrial production, especially in high technology sector that are becoming more skill-demanding. Unfortunately we lack accountability. This takes us to the last habit we must be ready to adopt.

Finally, to connect these dots and make them form a line, those who manage club money must be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits and conduct business in the light of the day. Yes, greatness goes to risk taker, those who tread the rugged paths of sacrifices. It does not go to those who take short cuts or settle for less. Greatness comes, not when we prefer leisure over work, or seek the pleasure of riches and fame to the detriment of investment.

We stand to reap multiple gains if plan well. Today there is a dearth of skilled manpower. Investment can bring appreciation and adoption of some machines just as marketing of our products can provide opportunities for our members who less fortunate and empower them to become effective contributors to our economy. We can send our members to acquire skills needed in the operations of our industry.

Though, the challenges we face are real, serious and many, but the fact of our coming together is a positive indicator. In you all I see productive and progressive minds. Our capacity to greatness remains undiminished. No one joins a group he does not trust. Already, visible signs of trust are emerging each day in ways we plan, implement and execute some of our objectives like monthly money contribution that has become a commonplace among clubs. Club members are resolving to trust themselves and their system more than before. When cynics neglect these, they betray their short memories; and overlook what can be achieved when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. I cannot help believing that sooner, old mentality shall pass, and lines of squander mania and narrow mindedness dissolve.

The function of a spiritual director is not to propose technical solution to question of economic activity of clubs. I am sorry if I have beaten below belt. Ours is a business of forming the culture that can form the kind of people who can develop these solutions against transcendent moral horizon. Club leadership must be tethered to moral truth and ordered to human goodness if it is not to become self-centre cannibalizing leadership like government we are plotting to over run. A vibrant public moral accountability is necessary to discipline and direct club energies so that they can serve the ends of genuine human flourishing. It is in this directing that I see the function of a spiritual director, forming the conscience of clubs members to use power prudently and respect public naira.

Accountability, honesty, truth, transparency will reinforce club trust and help you all develop resilience and extend opportunity at all times to every willing member, not out of charity but because it is the surest route to your common good.

A Speech at Annual Gathering of Selected Clubs in Abakaliki 2014