In the first post on Simulation and Sustainability, we looked at the dangers of simulation and how it poses a problem to sustainability. We continue with some practical steps on the important attribute of sustainability in any venture.
When you want to embark on a project, you must do the following:
S1 – Sit down to reflect and plan
Sitting down calms you. Sitting down removes the excitement and helps you think clearly. Sitting time gives you time to analyze.
S2 – Strategize and make a SWOT analysis—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Tinapa was going to need a lot of electricity to run effectively. Where were we going to get such power to run it? There was a very beautiful monorail train and a line that leads from one part of the resort to a far end. How much electricity were we generating in Nigeria at that time? Was there a functional plant to generate electricity or a gas pipeline that could utilize thermal energy? After all, Kolo Creek had been generating electricity for places like Sagbama and parts of Bayelsa State for years. Places like Escravos Gas Terminal has been generating regular electricity for years. Places like Finima in Bonny, Rivers State have regular electricity. It is the gas connected to turbines that enable them generate electricity. Was there a power supply plan to overcome the power challenges we have in Nigeria?
You’re married and you’re befriending a young girl. Don’t you know she will get pregnant? If she gets pregnant, how are you going to feed her and her children. How are you going to maintain your sexual relationship with a young girl in her early twenties when you are in your sixties? Most people don’t consider these things properly. They just think about the excitement and the immediate. So you must first consider your strengths. It is not every day you wake up and come across a Goliath and battle with him. David first killed a lion and a bear before he was able to confront Goliath. A lot of Christians do a lot of things by faith only; the consequence is that they embarrass people and themselves, put people under pressure, and create emergencies for other people out of stupidity, negligence, and inability to plan.
How were they going to generate electricity to maintain that place? How many industries were in Calabar? What road network is in the South East to Calabar? How many nations were they going to export to from there? How deep is the Calabar Port? What sizes of ship can come there? How internationally known is the Calabar airport? How would the nearest cities and towns reach there? Even in Cross River State—where Calabar is the capital—the nearest resort, the Obudu Cattle Ranch is about 8 hours from Calabar. The Tinapa resort is a long way from the Calabar main town. How would the local populace be able to patronize the place? So, Tinapa is lying idle because there was no strategy to know the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Don’t let the excitement of a project, the resources at hand, and the faith you have prevent you from strategizing. Faith without wisdom is disastrous and catastrophic. One of the things you must not do—besides seeking professional advice— is to gather people, who are praise singers to surround you; they will always encourage you and push you ahead. The resultant effect is that they won’t be there to sustain you.
S3 – Segment your project into manageable bits
Going back to simulation, someone saw Lagos State government building monorails; he went to Rivers State to build monorails. The project is now suspended and uncompleted, and another person is now in power. What guarantees did he put in place to ensure that even when he leaves office, it will be completed? The one done in Lagos had high traffic and a large populace, and Lagos is close to Cotonou, where a lot of people come across the border to buy things. A lot of people also converge in Lagos. Despite the flow of income in Lagos, the project is still hanging in Lagos. Someone also saw bus rapid transit system and copied it to Delta State and wanted to construct it from Effurun Roundabout to Nigerian Ports Authority. They destroyed people’s houses, broke the road, and put barriers. He did not leave political office for up to one year before all that he started was uprooted. Our money was wasted, the concrete was broken, and all the stands that were constructed were removed. The question is—Was that the priority of Warri town? Did we need a BRT system at that time? The same person started a Delta State Bus Service and brought in very long Marco polo buses. Today, none of them is existing.
Another government came and they said they were going to feed Nigerians. How are you going to feed them? Is the project sustainable? Where would you get the food from?
Is the rate at which we spend money in the present salary structure for the legislative and executive arm sustainable? When copying the American system of government, was their strengths, weaknesses, mode of operation, salary structure, etc. considered?
Don’t just go after size. Segment your project and start with what is immediately achievable, and let that one maximize itself. If that one is maximized and self-sustaining, you can go to the next level.
Tinapa was just too big at once for the size of the State and for the level and strength of the economic activities in Calabar and the environs. Therefore, it’s better to segment; don’t rush; take the project stage by stage.
S4 – Sustainability
You must ask yourself how you would sustain your project. Do you have the personnel, know-how, technology, finances, energy?
If you go round Nigeria, you’ll see projects that are started by one government and abandoned by the next. Projects started by a family and abandoned by the next generation.
I was walking in the Government Reserved Area (GRA), where the hotel I stayed during my stay in Calabar was, and I saw a lot of big buildings that were not completed. It would have been better if the person started a small building and completed it. The hotel we stayed in, 45 Hotels and suites, just has about 11 small, but exquisite, rooms. He started small, but it is very elitist, compact, beautiful with good services at a very affordable cost. He is now expanding.
In one of the discussions I had with my son, Ese Apoki, he said, “improvement is better than expansion”.
The tendency with Africans, particularly Nigerians, is grandiosity and the desire to expand without improving. When we wanted to open universities, we opened several; we opened several Federal Government Colleges, we opened several polytechnics, we opened several colleges of education. Are we able to maintain them? Are they credible and of standard quality? Are we able to upgrade them? How many Nigerian universities are recognized globally? How many are among the best 1000 universities globally? The resultant effect is that with the massive expansion in the educational sector, our educational institutions fell.
The same goes with our airline industry. How many airplanes did we buy at the same time? How many are still in operation now? We don’t even have a national carrier.
Sustainability is something you must primarily think about in anything thing you want to go about.
You see pastors, today, holding 5 services; a pastor, at the age of 40, is holding 5 services, and one service is almost equivalent to 4 hours of farm work. To what age would you continue holding 5 services in a day? Can you keep up with that till 60 or 70? When you get old and you no longer have the strength to go 5 services, what happens to the crowd that has been gathered?
That was one of the problems with empires in Africa, like the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, etc. These are empires that grew too large and they crumbled because they were not sustainable at that size. Even the Soviet Union had 15 independent republics, and the size was so much that it was not sustainable. Communism was not sustainable even in a small island like Cuba. China that started communism, which grew in the time of Mao Zedong, could not sustain it the way they intended.
You must ask yourself if what you are going into is sustainable.
If you go into ministry and you say you are a prophet, can you prophesy every Sunday? Will you prophesy in every service? If you prophesy every Sunday and in every service, after a while, either you become an occultist or you become a liar. That is because you cannot prophesy every day; you are not an ATM prophet.
That is the same challenge with the deliverance ministry. When I see a pastor focus his ministry and energies on deliverance, I always ask myself if he’ll be able to cast out demons on a regular basis. No wonder a lot of them who went into deliverance ministries, over the years, had health challenges and died young because of unnecessary stress.
When you say your church is a miracle center, would you be performing miracles every day? Even Jesus did not perform miracles every day. The Apostles did not perform miracles every day. When your emphasis is on the miraculous, you will discover that, after some time, you’ll become a fraudster because you want to sustain the miraculous. Man cannot live by the miraculous alone.
When you start a relationship with a young girl with so much extravagance and expenses, can you sustain it? When you create an impression that you are bigger than you really are, can you sustain it? As a young girl sent to school, if you start befriending 3 boys, can you sustain it? You’re a young girl befriending a man who is already married; can you sustain it?
Sustainability is a key issue that one should always sit down and deliberate upon.
Tinapa is a typical example of not sitting down to think about sustainability.
God Bless You.