UK-based Nigerian global media strategist and expert, Joanna Kelly-Ochiagha, specialises in human development and innovation strategy. She is acclaimed to be with a major track record of excellent results translating people and brands into bottom-line results in reputation, image (public perception), revenue and above all else, personal development. She tells Miriam Humbe that in the year 2021 and beyond, with the positive projections from the IMF, Nigerian citizens must aggressively engage in business activities to improve the nations Gross Domestic Product in the post covid-19 era. Excerpts:
2020 presented economic turbulence globally especially with the covid-19 pandemic which negatively affected all aspects of life. How can citizens rebuild their lives in 2021 and beyond?
The truth is that no one anticipated the happenings in the past year. We all stepped in there looking forward to better things ahead until the corona virus sprang up to challenge our very being. This of course, affected virtually every aspect of life including the world’s economy. So, governments began to give out palliatives and financial handouts as bailouts. Although not all citizens can confidently say that they were direct beneficiaries, to some extent, some of those bailouts must have helped households in coping with the pandemic. Now, a new year is here and with new opportunities. To your question, people should start by looking at the sunny side of life. Start a business, no matter how small and nurture it to fruition. You can do this within your capacity, considering available financial resources. Also, some government interventions such as the MSME Survival Fund, (Nigeria economic sustainability plan) is launched to give backbone to the survival of MSMEs. Citizens can utilize such opportunities to grow or stabilize their businesses in order to improve their livelihoods in the new year and looking forward.
What’s your picture of Nigeria’s economy in the next five years?
I believe we will start to see new generation leaders raised, the youth heard more and a more unified force but we will see, Change Begins With Me so I will do my part. Already, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had projected that the Nigerian economy would grow by 2.4 percent in 2021. This is a good omen but for this to be achieved, all hands must be on deck. This means that more than ever before, more people must get involved in economic activities, leading to higher income generation and employment so as to raise the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The youths, mostly referred to as the future leaders must rise to the occasion, who knows, there just might arise among us, the future Dangotes and Adenugas.
What can you say to the youths in terms of building the country’s economic future in 2021 and beyond?
I would say 2020 took a lot but gained us youths our voice and we will be heard. Fear does not live here and don’t look at your circumstances as your final destination. It only breeds defeat. We will stay as one and make this country great again for the generations after us. For this reason, I implore the youth to aggressively pursue economic activities. Look at the Chinese economy for instance, it is mostly being developed by the youth, who deploy their energy positively into creative endeavors. The Nigerian youth are not different. They must also take the lead and make our country one of the topmost economies in the world.
You have a passion to lift the Nigerian girl-child out of poverty. How are you doing that?
I have a passion for Nigeria as a whole; the girl child is my focus for now amongst other things as I believe our women need more security, especially economic security and to be empowered to voice themselves in every way possible. I grew up in Nigeria and I know it takes more then just feeding a village or building boreholes for clean water which I have done all of. My intention for my foundation is to create platforms to expose and build young strong women like myself so that they are able to do the same for others. It will take more than me. I’m just a vessel but I know I’ll build and produce other global leaders but it will not work unless we unite.
Are you doing this alone?
Absolutely not, how? Me and my husband run a foundation here called ‘The Ochiagha Dynasty’ which sole purpose is to help in building communities, creating platforms and giving better opportunities. We also work and have the backing of global cooperations such as Nxtion Family and others across the world. We are just at the forefront of it all but we have a great backing and team.
Do you have a time frame towards achieving this vision?
The time is now! There is no time frame, it’s just that I will not be satisfied until I see consistency across Africa. The aim is to take one city at a time and pour everything possible in that city to create a ripple effect.
What are the success stories so far?
We have currently just finished building new rounds in the East of Nigeria. We built boreholes in Makoko, we fed over 10,000 people across Nigeria on one project, we worked with the UN to feed women in Ghana and the list goes on; but it’s nothing to the vision we have for Africa. My focus now is to create platforms, opportunities and security.
In your view, how is Nigeria perceived internationally?
Internationally the county is looked at as very corrupt and in some parts looked down on. However, that’s not for everyone and that is not 100% true. I believe our leaders are used to a certain way of doing things which is a system that goes back from way before our independence. I also believe our new generation leaders are realising this and strategising ways to fill the gap and implementing new ways to heal our country but all I can say is, I will be amongst them. It’s all hands on deck to see change in our county because it’s a beautiful place.