EMERGENT SEASON OF POLITICAL BUSINESSES
We have finally arrived at the Political season. The Pre-political season had been on for over a year ago. The next six months from this October to March next year is the main season and nothing else will matter except Politics. This is the time when governance will be relegated to the background. It will also be time of freedom for the civil servants to do as they like as the political class will be too busy in the field, except to come back every often to 'refill'
Nigerians, this is the time all the money that has been piled up over the last four years will be spent. Some that had been exported abroad will be repatriated to fund electioneering campaigns and other associated expenses. My rough estimates indicate that at least 1 trillion naira will be spent in Nigeria in the next six months on election related issues alone, outside legitimate government expenses relating to INEC and security for the elections. When you add all up, we may be spending up to 2 trillion naira in this election season! If you think, this is far fetched, then recollect that we spend about 1 trillion naira a year on fuel subsidy alone and that in 2011 we spent double that figure.The Presidential elections this year will be the most expensive ever, because if there was ever a 'do or die ' elections in the past, this one will be it.
Often in my consulting work in Enterprise development, clients ask me what type of businesses should they invest in to make the best returns over a given period. Some times I receive a fee for giving them my thoughts. But I have decided to avail willing Nigerian Entrepreneurs and business wise people especially those who read this column faithfully my advice pro-bono on TEN businesses they can invest in and make maximum return within this political season. These ten businesses are categorized into three depending on the capital requirement and the time required to launch the business. The first set are
Any one who goes round our nation today will see that the country is one big poster board. Every available space is used up to place posters of the multitude of aspirants for state assemblies, National Assembly( House & Senate), Governors and the President. Posters of all colors, shades and logos deface every electric pole, road median and every wall of public and private buildings in every nook and cranny of Nigeria, except perhaps the territory that is occupied by Boko haram insurgents. Even posters of aspirants from obscure parties that have been deleted from INEC register for not winning any elections since 1999 have posters everywhere. I believe their strategy is to position for negotiation and 'settlement '
So if you are already in Printing, this is your season, just scale up. Those who want to enter, this is a good time. If you do not own printing machines or can not afford, that should not be a major deterrence, you can be an agent or intermediary. In Shomolu and Mushin areas in Lagos, you can easily 'rent' printing machines. I believe similar clusters exist in Onitsha, Aba , Kano and in many other cities in the Nation.
2. ADVERTISING AND MEDIA CONSULTING
This is a boom season for those in the advertising business. They are the ones who produce the newspaper ads, the radio jingles and the Television ads. They even design the posters and billboard ads. If you have a flair in this area or you studied marketing, advertising or graphic arts and have not been busy, this is your season. I am sure many advertising companies will be working under tight schedules and will require additional hands.
3. BROADCASTING & PUBLISHING
This political season is largely for Publishers and Broadcast organizations. Check the size of Newspaper pages. Beyond frank advertisement, paid advertorials and rebuttals, the headlines are catchy political news which attract increased patronage. The air waves are gradually being filled with campaign slogans and lyrics. This will intensify after the party primaries. If you own television stations and radio houses, this is your season to maximize income. Despite the need to obtain broadcast license from Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), which can delay investment in this area, any determined investor can overcome this by buying licenses from those who have not utilized theirs. A radio Station can be set up in 6 weeks. This is the right time to make an entry into the market. And when you combine that, with the intervening Christmas season, there could not be a better timing.
The next category are less tasking in terms of capital required and the time needed to set up:
4. OUTDOOR CATERING
Demand for food, drinks and refreshment is high in this political season. At the different meetings, Caucuses, Congresses, and campaign rallies from ward to National levels, much food and particularly much drinks will flow. So go and get contracts from all the aspirants and party leaders at all levels to service their meetings, diurnal or nocturnal. If you can have mobile trucks that can move food and drinks from one arena to another, that will be advantageous as many rallies can be going on simultaneously even in a local government headquarters. Also prepare to supply food and drinks to the voters who will be 'watching and protecting ' their votes after the elections. Many voters have been educated to 'protect' their votes since many can not trust INEC or the Security forces to do so.
5. RENTAL BUSINESS
Whether it is raining or the sun is in full blaze, there will be need for canopies, chairs and Tables at the rallies. So go and set up a rental business. Again, because of the intervening Christmas Season with its own demand for out door events, this is the right time to step into this business. You can start with little capital but if you can have Large tents then you will have bigger customers including religious organizations.
6. CROWD HIRING
Another business that thrives in Political seasons is Crowd hiring or crowd Rental. Some how many politicians have this belief that the size of the crowd at their rallies is directly proportional to their ability to win elections. There seems to be an important need to massage egos and to make belief in the whole political enterprise. So those who can mobilize crowds readily to the campaign rallies are in great demand at this time. This business does well when combined with the hiring of buses and other modes of transportation including 'okada' and ' Keke Napep'. One other success factor for this business is the ability to sow t-shirts and the uniforms of the different political parties. That way the same crowd can appear at the PDP rally in the morning and quickly change costumes and be at APC rally in the afternoon. Talk of Mobility of labour!
The following last set of four businesses, three of which I recommend ,especially for those who are unemployed or unemployable, the retired or those seeking to get a piece of the over 1 trillion naira political elections expense, are easy to set up and require minimal start-up capital:
This is a good period to set up lobbying organizations. In political seasons, you get nothing by right or merit. You have to lobby for everything. Some of us have problems making a case for our selves and asking for any position. It is here that the lobbyists come in. They can be hired or they can offer their services to lobby for you. From being 'elected' a delegate at the congress, which today is one of the best paying adhoc political appointments , to being 'persuaded'to run for any office in the political chain, the lobbyists can make very strong case on any issue. In addition they are the ones that are sent to negotiate with and arm-twist opponents to obtain concessions in cash and kind when we need to step down for more popular or better endowed opponents. The lobbyists can work for both sides at the same time. In this business, conflict of interest does not arise and should it arise, it is ignored with no adverse consequences.
If you have a big body bulk or you can quickly build up your muscles, there is great opportunity as bodyguards to our politicians- aspirants or not. There is not enough policemen to go round and even if there was, experience has shown that when the going gets rough as it is bound to be in the very fierce competition ahead, no body can be sure of some of the police men. They can drop their guns and run as some of our soldiers are rumored to have done in Mubi last week or they can be withdrawn by the DPO with or without orders from the IG as was recently done to 'cunny man' Tambuwal.
If you do not have the bulk or nerve to serve as body guard, you can become Otimkpu or praise singer. Just arrange your troupe with or without 'oja' ( wooden flute) and follow the political aspirant around. Your job is to praise him and let him know that he is the one everybody has been waiting for. Let him know that he really has no opposition and that he has already won. That way he and his supporters will 'spray' you with crisp naira notes. If you are too sophisticated or shy to personally undertake this job, you can organize the troupes, and send around to the different political aspirants and parties, possibly with the political party costumes . All you need do is to appoint the 'treasurer' who alone can collect the monies being sprayed or 'dashed'.This is to ensure accountability and to eliminate infidelity.
9.DANCING/ SINGING / CHOREOGRAPHY
Can you sing? can you dance? Are you an unemployed theatre arts or music graduate, then there is a great opportunity for employment in this political season. I am told that the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria(TAN) can not find enough dancers. There is a possiblility that they may produce music and dance in all the over 200 linguistic groups in Nigeria . Naturally, the contending group will do theirs and perhaps they will include Chadian, Camerounian and Niger Republic music and dance so as to reach our CHIBOK girls who may have been dispersed to those Nations. What a pleasure to sing and dance and get paid handsomely- political business.
Of course Singing and dancing at political events is the forte of our women folk. They will help to promote the business of 'Aso EBI' textile traders and uniform makers. In this season, there is something for everyone including 'pancake' makers, as every woman dancer must look young and beautiful. Our mothers and grandmothers will forget their arthritis this period as they undertake daily dancing exercises at the rallies, even if they have to make up with paracetamol and flexodene at night.
10. TALE BEARING/ RUMOUR MONGERING
In case you do not have the stomach for all the political business opportunities enumerated above, you may wish to consider this one-man business of bearing tales, spying on the opponent and spreading rumors. I certainly do not recommend it but it is a thriving Political business. A few days I got a message from one of the practitioners of this trade who sent me a message completely twisting the things said at a meeting called by a political aspirant in my constituency which I had attended. He concoted a mixed grill of half truths, innuendos and bare faced lies and sent out as resolutions reached at the meeting to the utter consternation of the political aspirant but certainly to the utmost pleasure of the opponent who is his client but he attended our meeting and pretended to be an ally. In fact in the last election in 2011, one practitioner went round town announcing that a particular election had been postponed, as a ploy to keep the voters from coming out, knowing that his client had little electoral support in the town. This is the business of de marketing your opponent and causing disaffection with his supporters by giving false information.
If ever we desired full employment, this is the time to achieve it. If you can not take advantage of any of the above business ideas in this political season, you may have yourself to blame. In that case, you have to stop blaming the government that there is no job and that there is no business. Finally to assure success in all these business and employment opportunities,except business no 10 in which I have no expertise whatsoever and which I do not recommend at all because I fear God, please contact me to help you with a business plan. Certainly for a fee! It is well with Nigeria.
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR