What is wrong with privatisation, you ask?By an opinionated oyibo
Imagine a country. It has a government, it has people. Now what is the primary job of the government? I would guess taking care of its people.Imagine a company. It has an owner. This owner started the company for one reason – to make money. He will employ people and behave like a leader, but his main mission is to make profit.Now what is the difference? One is people-centred, one is profit-centred.In a country which is people-centred, the government will make decisions based on the physical, mental, spiritual well-being of its people. In a company which is profit centred, ultimately the well-being of the people only matters because they can only add value if they are well. They are just one of the resources of the company.Let’s look at a practical example.
Let us say there is a country with a climate which is conducive to growing apples. Everyone knows apples are good for you, so there are apple plantations, apples are found in abundance in the markets, people buy apples and eat them. People drink apple juice. Nobody is making any sorts of huge amounts of cash, but cost and effect are in balance.Now Mr Profit-Hunter looks at the millions of happy people in this country and wants to make a killing.
He has a drink recipe which uses the least possible amount of natural ingredients because growing them is – you guess it – a natural process, so takes time and manpower. He uses some chemicals and some sugar which he ships from regions where manpower is cheaper than in our apple-growing, happy country. Then he also adds some pick-me-up drugs into the mix which will make people – well – addicted, once they’ve tried his drink once. (Don’t look so shocked. You’d be in for a surprise.)First of all, nobody is interested in this stuff which is coming from abroad and has nothing to do with us. What does Mr Profit-Hunter have to do? He has to CREATE the need of the people to buy his product, and he has to CREATE an identity for his product which will make people think this company actually CARES for them, their culture, what they think. (When did you last read a slogan like “It’s all about YOU?” Mr Profit-Hunter gets the brightest and best artists, media people, marketing geniuses together and get a huge marketing campaign on the road. Suddenly this image, his brand is everywhere. TV, newspapers, magazines, billboards, draped over public buildings, bridges… There are t-shirted groups of handsome young students handing out the stuff by the roadside.But it still doesn’t sell.Mr Profit-Hunter now goes to the government and says he could support certain arts and culture projects if he gets to drape his identity over them, in order to show how much he identifies with local culture. That will surely get him to break the local market.NOW.It is up to the government.Do they say No thanks, Mr Profit-Hunter, we have done some research, and your drink is not actually healthy and will cause people to drink less apple juice and so they won’t get their vitamins and won’t be healthy and happy? Please just leave?Or do they say yeah come on, give us your money, we don’t really care if the people end up addicted, fat and depressed, like in your own country?There are quite a few problems when a government is not sure if it is supposed to be supporting its people in leading full and happy and healthy lives or if it supposed to be making money.In a country like Nigeria, with its huge oil wealth, to see everyone talking about private sector funding for schools, culture, etc… it is plain shocking for this opinionated oyibo. For the simple reason that is: do we need more low-quality alcohol, burnt sugar, chemically over-refined produce that will make the population both physically unfit and spiritually unwell? Or do we wake up and realise that the needs we are trying to fulfil have been imposed on us by the clever marketing strategies of people that really don’t have our wellbeing at heart? And nothing to do with us?
Let’s really put our heart into getting local food production on track. Let’s grow things. Let us eat healthy food, let us be well with real culture, wear real clothes, real jewellery, and listen to real music instead of giving in to the growing trend of mass-produced half-hearted quick fix stuff.