Sunday, October 28, 2012

HOW TO RUN A NIGERIAN NGO

Everything in Nigeria is a hustle. Government, politics, religion- all a hustle. And the Nigerian god helps those who help themselves. The key to survival is understanding the rules of the hustle so that by strategically positioning yourself, God can meet you at the point of your need and bless your hustle.
You hear that millions of dollars have been set aside by foreign governments and donors for development in Nigeria. Don’t smile. They don’t love you. For them too, it is a hustle. Don’t wait to hear on radio or TV how this money is being spent. This will be unwise. You need to strategically position yourself to benefit from this foreign aid.
Start an NGO. Get a lawyer to register one at the Corporate Affairs Commission. From experience I will advise that you do your research before registering one. Research major donors- the European Union, DFID, the UN, USAID. Find out what they have agreed to fund for the next few years. Avoid the things that have received much funding in the past few years. Donors can be like children- they can get bored with one thing and without warning, move to another. Plus, there is that evil thing threatening to truncate Europe’s hustle called a recession. Although God is faithful and will protect your hustle from truncation, you need to take proactive steps to avoid being left with a redundant NGO due to lack of funding. Do one of two things: One, give your NGO a broad name that can cover two or more areas. The more the merrier. So instead of registering HIV/AIDS Alliance, register Health Watch Alliance. Instead of registering Alliance against Torture, register Alliance for the Protection of Human Rights. Or two, register multiple NGOs. With this you can never go wrong. You can change the dance as soon as the donors change the tune.
 When building the foundations of your NGO, you must be careful the kind of people you invite. You don’t want the type who will suddenly become wild when the aid dollars start flowing in. Make the Board of Trustees your relatives and the parents of your close friends who are too busy, too old or too rich to care how you run your NGO.
Invest in media equipment. Cameras, video recorders, projectors. To begin, organise cheap programs so that you can have pictures and videos to go with your proposals and letters of introduction. People need to see that you have been working hard, donating things and doing campaigns in your chosen field. Make sure you get lots of pictures of poor, sick looking children you have helped. Or homeless people you have given blankets to.
Make friends with guys who work in donor agencies. Networking in the NGO world is important. Many times crucial information about funding and projects slip out at social gatherings. This is how you know who is funding what and when.
Take your time to work on proposals. A good proposal is everything. Seventy percent of the job of an NGO is paper work- proposals and budgets and retirements and press releases. If you are not sure how to package an NGO proposal, learn. If you can’t do it, don’t be stingy. Pay someone to do it. Pay for a beautiful website with lots of photos showing things you are committed to. Foreign donors get tickled by nice functional websites. Make sure you visit the website of your donor and follow the guidelines strictly.
Usually a career in one of the big donor agencies or international donor NGOs will prepare you for all of the above. If you have the patience, look for a job with one of the UN agencies, DFID or USAID. Study their processes. In a few years you will be ready to become a big local consultant or start your own NGO.
Running an NGO can be tricky. You rely on the hustle of foreign and local donors. You can suddenly run dry. You do not get a pension. So you must save for the day when donor rains cease to fall or you are too old to get another job. You must learn how to weave in extra items into the budget and inflate project costs. Anyone who calls this stealing, God will swiftly truncate their hustle.
When you spend donor money, you need to show that you really deserve the money. So if money is left over, you need to find a way to spend that money or, next time you will get much less than you ask for.
Because NGO people are jealous, it is important that as God blesses your NGO hustle, you do not draw attention to yourself. You don’t want fellow NGO people reporting you to EFCC. Wear casual shirts (or kampala shirts) on jeans unless you are attending donor meetings or meetings with government counterparts. No need to advertise all the money you are making from saving your fellow countrymen.
Never miss dinners and meetings organized by embassies and donors. These guys are a huge source of funds. It doesn’t matter if you do not get a personal invitation- once there is civil society in the program, polish your shoes, take your glossy complimentary cards and get going.
If you are into human rights and all, try to get arrested. Foreign donors get excited when they meet human rights activists who have actually been locked up or who have gory tales to tell. Take advantage of popular protests to boost your activist CV and the reputation of your NGO.
Do television, radio and newspaper interviews. Pay to get interviewed if you have to. Do press releases. You must not only do work but be seen to do work. The more visible you are, the more NGO points you get. The more NGO points you get, the more funding you are likely to have.
If you follow my advice, before long, you will be flying from one all-expense-paid foreign conference and seminar to another, getting fat on per diems. May you continue to receive funding and may God through your NGO, bless your hustle.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

HOW TO GIVE FOREIGN AID


Make no mistake about it: You owe us. Big time.  For all the years of evil slavery, subjecting our brave sons and daughters to forced labour in cotton fields and sugarcane plantations. For the wicked colonialism that forced your way of life on us and stole from us. It is not that God will not judge you for the sins of your ancestors- as sure as the sun will shine, he will judge you appropriately. But here on earth you need to forgive yourself for what your fathers did to us.

You will help us. We need help. Because even though we have so much money, we really do not know how to use it. I think it is built into our DNA to need help. It is not your fault. You are not the one who gave us these genes that make billions of dollars disappear from our treasuries and our children die from preventable diseases.  It is not your fault that while there are no drugs in our hospitals we have the highest paid government in the world. Anyone who blames your people for being complicit in the corruption of our leaders, God will truncate their hustle.

You will set up organizations and big NGO’s for this purpose to do everything from HIV/AIDS to the protection of precious wildlife in Africa. Nigerians together with their other brothers in the third world must be saved from themselves. There is really no need to treat Nigeria differently from Burundi which relies on foreign aid for nearly half of their national income. Corruption is a great equalizer.

It is important to be pragmatic when designing development projects. We all know how lacking in skills Nigerians are.  If your well-meaning projects must work, you need to fly in consultants from Europe or America to oversee the technical aspects of it. Some people, wicked people, will say that a lot of the money goes back out of the country. However, you must ignore them; you and I know you can’t trust Nigerians with these technical things. The foreign consultants need to be kept happy. They need to be able to afford to live in the best houses in town with chauffeurs and cooks and stewards and gardeners and lush lawns and swimming pools.  Especially swimming pools. Nothing relieves Nigerian stress like swimming. That or Alomo. And you don’t expect the expensive British consultant to do Alomo.

It is important to channel funds into local NGO’s. These are the foot soldiers. Don’t demand much from them. After funding, demand only photos, or videos, year-end reports, and budget retirements. With these you should get a clear picture of all the good that your money is doing in Africa.

Fund projects that the Government should be doing so that they can focus on doing other things. Like travelling to attend summits and all. Fund important things like vaccines and mosquito nets. Anyone who suggests the irony of purchasing mosquito nets in a country where 2.6 billion naira is used to maintain the Villa in one year, risks the swift and certain judgment of God.  What has a pretty costly Villa got to do with people dying from malaria?

Some wicked people will say blasphemous things like we do not need to have highly paid foreigners living posh lives in our country in the name of development. The evil people will even imply that by pumping in so much money into projects that the government should be doing and has the money to do, you are making the government lazy and inadvertently encouraging corruption.  They lie! And God will judge them harshly. Their real aim is to spoil your hustle, yours and those of all the good Africa-helping people of the world under the able leadership of Bono (and Madonna without the kindness of whom many Malawian babies would have died of poverty or some dreadful disease).  God bless Bono and Madonna.

People don’t realize that, children will die if you don’t assist this rich government with drugs, the elections will be bungled if you do not arrange for six highly paid consultants for the INEC chairman, Nigerians will all die of malaria if you do not pay for mosquito nets.

Tell the government where you are going to spend your money. It is your money and you are allowed to say, do this and that. The government may complain, but you know as I do that what they want is your money so they will do what you say. They will put in place the policies that you ask them to put in place as a condition for your funding.

Sometimes you must ignore the small negatives so you can focus on the big picture. The government is corrupt. You know they are stealing half of the aid money that comes in, but what do wicked critics want you to do? Leave and let Nigeria perish? Your conscience will not allow you to do that. After you have pushed the aid out your door, (people don’t realize but this is hard work too), it will be wicked of anyone to expect you to be held responsible for how every penny is used.

I see your good foreign heart. I know that little by little you will save the third world from self-destruction, disease and poverty. I am not sure how, but I feel it. I feel it the way a wife knows her husband is cheating even when she can’t find the evidence yet- wives know these things.

I found this prayer that might interest you in the course of your hustle:

THE AID PRAYER

Our Fathers who art in Europe (and America)
Hallowed be thy purse
Thy consultants come
Thy will be done in our governments as formulated by Bono

Give us this day our yearly funding
And forgive us our debts
as we increase the number of our debtors

And lead us not into self-reliance
But deliver us from ourselves
For thine is the aid-money, the power and the glory
Forever and ever, Amen

 

May God who touched your heart and moved you to save us, immensely bless your hustle.

 

Friday, October 5, 2012

HOW TO GET A HOUSEHELP IN NIGERIA

God is faithful. He has blessed your hustle with a husband. You began by going out of your way to show you were a dutiful Nigerian wife- cooking, cleaning and never saying no to your husband. God will meet you at the point of your needs and bless you for this. However, something is happening to you. Tiredness is setting in. You feel nauseous and irritated. The doctor has told you that you are having a baby. This has never happened to you before. (The one that happened in university doesn’t count- anyone who reminds you of this, God will truncate their hustle.) You and your husband agree that you cannot keep up with the house work with this growing human mass in your tummy. It is time for a house help. Your husband has left you to take care of it.
 
You have many choices. There is the choice of one of those Gbagyi or other minority Northern young girls who have been trained to work like horses, want little and show gratitude for whatever they receive. The girl may have thinning brown hair from lack of nutrition and may look stunted at 12 but trust me she knows how to fetch water, wash piles of clothes and sweep endlessly.
 
You also have the choice of taking the 11year old out-of-wedlock daughter of that distant cousin whom you have never met in your village in Umunede. You had heard that a boy got her pregnant at 14 and ran away thereafter. Since then the daughter has suffered stigma and neglect as well as blocked any chances of your cousin getting a husband. Those village people can be unforgiving.
 
There is that aunt in the village who promised you someone to help when you came for your traditional marriage in the village. You turned down the offer then. Now is the time to call that aunt and tell her that the housework will kill you soon. She will laugh on the other end of the line and tell you not to worry. You will remind her that you don’t want a boy o! Boys are hard to control. ‘I have heard,’ she will say and in one or two weeks you will receive your package of an awkward prepubescent girl.
 
Then there is the international connection- the Benin Republic kids. Someone has told you of these young kids from Benin Republic whose salary you will pay to a man who will claim to be their Uncle or cousin.
 
You do not need a person of legal age, an adult who will one day kill you all in your sleep, run away with your children or worse, snatch your husband from you. Anyone who quotes the Child’s Right Act, and calls employing anyone under the legal age, child labour, God will give them paralysis of the mouth. How else do they want you to get the house work done?
 
When the young girl comes, first thing to do is to test her for hepatitis and other infections. You don’t want her bringing diseases into your healthy home. If you must, go to the second hand store and buy her two old dresses. If you don’t have boys quarters, clear out the store so she can sleep there. Otherwise get an old mattress that she will use somewhere in a corner of the living room.
 
You need to cut her hair. It is better. Both of you should not be struggling to groom your hair. Anything a small comb can’t do must go. The more unattractive she looks, the better for you and your marriage. You can’t trust men these days. No one is too young for them.
There is no need to waste money sending her to school. It is not your fault that her parents can’t afford to. In fact she should be grateful that you are giving her a rare opportunity to come to the city and make some money. If she spends all her time at school, when will she do the house work? But if you absolutely have to, find a cheap school, maybe one with evening classes she can attend. Something simple that won’t confuse her about her station in life.
 
Discipline: Very important. Sometimes screaming degrading insults is not enough to put an ungrateful, sloppy house help in line. The phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child” necessarily includes house helps. Sometimes they get too comfortable. Sometimes they are possessed. Only a healthy dose of flogging can rid them of evil spirits or too much comfort.
 
Watch the food she eats. Especially the meat. Nothing makes a house help grow wings like sufficient pieces of meat. Meat has a way of creating a sense of entitlement in a person. You don’t want that to happen.
 
Don’t make the mistake of allowing the house help have friends. Whether with the house help next door or with the one in the shop down the street or the one grinding tomatoes near the market. She did not come to your house to play and network. Next thing you know they will connive and do something evil to you.
 
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there comes a time when you must let the house help go. Instances include when you notice that she has become a woman and is almost needing the same bra size as you. Like I said before, men cannot be trusted. They see breasts and they lose their minds. You need to be proactive and protect your husband from himself. Send her away and look for another prepubescent one to take her place.
 
Do not go looking for answers where you have no business looking. If the man who brought a girl from Benin Republic says he is her Uncle, then he is her Uncle. If he says he will hold her salary for her, then he will. The less you know the better.
 
Do these and God will, through your house help, lighten your load, and bless your hustle.
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

HOW TO WRITE AN INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH

 Ungrateful. That is what Nigerians are. You know this more than anyone in the country. You have had to bear the barrage of insults against your boss the President. But you loyally keep writing his speeches. Even though you are exhausted from writing the UN General Assembly speech, which you are grateful 10 people were on hand to listen to, you will cast out the spirit of sleep and of exhaustion, and write the speech for Independence Day. Nigerians won’t appreciate this because they are mostly wicked and jealous of your boss. God will look into their matter and judge each of them appropriately.

Because Nigerians are forgetful, spend a lot of time on history about Union Jacks and Green white green flags, just in case anyone thinks the history has changed. At least the first seven or eight paragraphs. Spending all this time serves one important purpose. It separates the chaff from the wheat. By the chaff I mean those unpatriotic channel surfers with a remote control in their hands- wicked people who only want to see our dear President fail. They will get tired after the sixth paragraph and change the channel. This leaves you with the wheat- kind, godly people who love Nigeria and its god-sent President.

Assure Nigerians that although they can’t see it Nigeria is indeed making progress. You need not be scared in writing this. The chaff who would have objected are by now watching Africa Magic or some bootleg DVD. The wheat will nod their heads even if they have had to queue for fuel all weekend. They will agree even if they are watching the broadcast using a generator. God bless the wheat and their hustle.

Use phrases that we relate to. Nigerians, especially the wheat, love them. “We have put in place structures”. “We remain focused”. “Let me reiterate”. “Let me assure”. However, you must begin with the all important phrase: “Transformation Agenda”. This is the most important phrase in the book. Nothing happens without it. It is because of it that we live and breathe. The transformation agenda is why men are fertile and why women have babies. At the mention of it every well meaning Nigerian should lift up their voice in praise.

To deal with the issue of flooding there is no need to treat it like something of national importance. Be brief about it. Say nothing about how Cameroon gave us notice about their dam bursting into Nigeria and all. Give no facts or details. Who needs those? Say that an Interim report has been received about the flooding and the government has taken measures to deal with it. Another lovely phrase: ‘taken measures’. It says everything. Patriotic Nigerians can read between the lines to know exactly what you are doing about the floods. Remember though to add that the President is sad. Say that he shares in their grief even though he chose to speak to a crowd of ten in New York while this was happening. And by the way those evil people who say nobody sat to listen to our Presidents speech in New York should have seen the Kenyan President. Even his aides went out for a smoke during his speech. But you will not write this.

Write that in the war on corruption we are winning. Quote Transparency International (God bless them). Because we ARE winning. Even if all the cases against powerful corrupt people have gone quiet. Even if some misguided enemies of this administration claim that the First Lady, God heal her, isn’t quite on the same page with the administration on this. And oh don’t mention anything about where or how she is, even though I know you will like Nigerians to include her in their prayers. You know we are a righteous, praying nation and if only your boss would let you include this, you would have asked Nigerians to join Mr. President in praying for her quick recovery, for the prayers of the righteous man works miracles. You will say a silent prayer and leave it at that. God will heal her and bless her hustle.

Tell Nigerians to be patient. Tell them that by this time next year all will be well. Not this year. Next year.

Please, say nothing about the aviation crises. Or the fuel crises. These things are luxuries. Afterall in other African countries, they still struggle with feeding their citizens. We don’t have that problem here. In fact left to you, Nigerians should sit in one place and pray for this nation instead of constantly flying and being on the road.

Most importantly commit Nigeria into the hands of God. Because only God can bless our hustle.