Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Now I Can Exhale. Congratulations Nigeria!




In 2011, I was part of the strategy team for one of Nigeria's top contenders for the Presidency. After a brief stint, I left. I felt the campaign was too 'bourgeois' and bourgeois does not win elections. I was right. They didn't win.


Late last year, I got an invitation to review the entire strategic plan and make recommendations for, again, one of Nigeria's top contenders for the Presidency. I did. I felt the strategy didn't work and told them so. Nigerians are not stupid, I remember saying. They felt they had put in too much work to start from scratch and therefore, went ahead with their plan. It failed them woefully.

Early this year, I got yet another invite - To join a project team for one of Nigeria's two major contenders for the Presidency. I thought long and hard about this one. Being someone who is driven by conviction, SOmeone who slept and woke up thinking about Nigeria, I had to weigh the options, get to that point where I felt it was what needed to be done even if I was doing it as a professional.

The mandate was to deliver the South-west. Other parts of the country were not as thorny as the South-west and winning was absolutely critical. With a strategy team in place, my company's task was simple - supervise the implementation of strategy. In lay terms, drive the largely experiential engagements for the campaign across the South-west. Since strategy is nothing without implementation, this put unbelievable pressure on myself and my very lean team.

While I have worked on pretty large and complex projects, the combination of challenges on this particular one stretched us beyond breaking point. It takes the plaque for the most nerve-wracking project I have ever worked on. I laughed, cried, threatened, begged, fought, made up, walked out and came back all within January and just a few days ago.

Even though I had clear deliverables, we all had to admit our goal was a long shot, especially because we were not working on the incumbent's campaign. At those times when got frustrated to the point where I thought surely, I can't do this anymore, I just can't, I remembered the enthusiasm and unbelievable drive of volunteers across the country, the vibe on the streets from people who had had enough and were determined to try someone else, and found the strength to go through one more day.

It's still all a bit surreal to me. The South-west was delivered! I must confess that I am genuinely surprised all that effort paid off. It will be foolhardy for me to take glory for such a historic win. First, the product was not as difficult to sell as its substitute. Second, I had the opportunity of working with some of the best minds in this country; from media to strategy to logistics, they can hold their own anywhere in the world. Third, the people were on our side. They printed posters and tshirts with their money, they donated their time and walked the streets; dealing with bias and sentiments at a cellular level. What we lacked in funds we more than made up for in sheer goodwill.

It's all done and dusted now. The task ahead is an ardous one. The President-elect has a lot to prove especially because a fair number of those who voted him weren't particularly fans.The economy is shitty (Forget the statistics), our foreign reserves have been depleted to dangerously low levels and we have a 2015 budget based on an oil price benchmark that is a tad unrealistic. I sincerely hope the new government will live up to the aspirations of the people and give us a Nigeria we can all be proud of.

To the most hardworking team I know - #TeamEclat, thank you.  I couldn't have done it without you. To those who checked up to see if I'm still alive, thanks :D. To the larger project team, you guys truly rock! It's a new century for Nigeria and as we transit peacefully, may the next four years bring good tidings.

Viva Nigeria. Viva!

©Naomi Lucas

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