August 13, 2022

“The ant-hills are not built by the elephants but by the collective efforts of the little ants” – if you lived in a typical Igbo community, you might have watched elders make this statement. Most times, they will add: this community can only thrive if everyone can sweep from his compound all the way to the village square. They are simply saying – no matter the size of the iroko tree, it cannot make a forest, because you need many trees to have a forest.
Indeed, sustained greatness has never been achieved because of the bravery of just ONE man or woman. But greatness has always come because a people or a nation has a leader with Believers. When people are united, with a great leader, they can accomplish whatever they plan to accomplish!
In our business, I challenge our founders to communicate with a higher purpose – and elevate the minds of their teams. Why? Those teams are the structures to build any successful business. Every great company has two components: great products and superior operational execution; humans do those executions.
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As Nigeria’s 2023 election comes, I challenge young people not to be fixated on the lack or presence of old political structures. Rather, see how you can become the living structure of Nigeria you want. You can be the structure and upon that structure, your leader will rise to give you a better future.
Technology will create disintermediation that old-style political structures may not matter that much since information asymmetry will be reduced as a result of the ubiquitous smartphones and mobile internet connectivity in Nigeria. Nigeria’s electoral market is becoming more perfect with reduction of information asymmetry (everyone gets the same info about candidates and can make decisions unlike in the past when people relied on emirs, obas, obis, village heads, etc to guide them).
As digital systems penetrate, the influence of political brokers, bundlers, etc will fade, since those citizens now have access to the right info about candidates and make decisions.
Yes, you can have party chairmen in all local government areas. But if you do not have the message for the citizens, the chairman  will not stop them from learning about those with the right messages. In the pre-mobile internet age, those chairmen were the pipelines to reach the voters. They used their positions to influence how those voters vote. Not always now.
We are the “ants” that will build Nigeria. And there are many things to learn from the ants. If we “become” like them (ants can teach us many things as I noted in this Harvard Business Review piece – The Leadership Lessons of Ants), out of the global capitals, the world will see a hopeful, prosperous, and honourable nation on the horizon. Like ants, we can build the ant-hills of Nigeria!
I challenge you – Nigerian youth – and I drop these words: Uwa bu ahia [the world is a market],  and I will introduce a new meaning (not literal and axiomatic within ancestral Igbo usage of words) to write that if you win the markets, you will win your world. It is the economy, period! But you have to be the structures as you evaluate these candidates.
More Notes on “Uwa Bu Ahia”
Though I have extrapolated  “Uwa bu Ahia” [the world is a market] in the context that if you win your market, you win your world, the real meaning of that axiom is not related to market or trading. Rather, it is looking at the ephemeral nature of everything in life. Largely, the world is a stage; you come and go which means that nothing is permanent. People go to markets and later go home and the market becomes empty.
Yet, as a good student of Igbo (“A” WAEC student in secondary school), I can deepen that understanding in new ways. Igbo language has been growing right from the 1978 FC Ogbalu led Igbo Convention.
“Uwa bu Ahia” {if you win your market, you win your world} – is my preferred campaign motto for a future governorship election in Abia State (lol). If you win in economy, you win the world.
Uwa bu Ahia – let’s win the world by winning on economy in Nigeria.
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Ndubuisi Ekekwe, PhD, Chairman of FASMICRO Group, is the Lead Faculty in Tekedia Mini-MBA. He writes regularly in the Harvard Business Review. Email: [email protected]
We major a lot in minors, only to be minors in majors. Politicking is different from governance, so when we cheer and hail people for their political sagacity, we end up disappointed when it comes to governance.
Nothing is more important in governance than having the people believing in your leadership, it takes care of many obstacles that make governance very complicated. The reason why political oratory is unique is because there’s no need for proof, the facts are what the audience say they are.
Politics is concerned with the future, not past, it’s opposite of forensics that deal with the past. Your choice of candidate should be based on what you believe the person can do, and not whether he knows politics, once elections are concluded, governance begins, and it’s much longer than electioneering period.
See your 2023 election vote as your only remaining bullet, that once wasted on a wrong target, you are doomed. No time to second guess, just listen carefully to what the spirit is saying, and then vote accordingly.
Someone can emerge president next year with just 10 million votes, so never underestimate the value of your single vote, it carries so much weight; the competition is tighter than what people might tell you.

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