By Ayo Akinfe
(1) Reading this week about how there are about 80 special advisers in the vice president’s office and about a similar number in the president’s office has got me thinking. With this number of assistants, we actually have the manpower to create a think tank in the presidency. With about 150 full time staff, we should have an Aso Rock Think Tank that comes up with innovative and unthinkable ideas on a daily basis
(2) I remember Tony Blair once appointed Frank Fields as his social security secretary with a mandate to “think the unthinkable.” At the time, social security spending accounted for about a quarter of all UK government spending and Mr Fields was tasked with finding ways to reduce this. He was charged with coming up with innovative and unprecedented thoughts no matter how outrageous they might sound
(3) For me, Nigeria is at a similar crossroad today. According to the African Development Bank, we have an annual infrastructural deficit of $100bn but our annual budget is only $28bn. We need to think outside the box and come up with ideas that will bridge this gulf, no matter how unthinkable they may appear to some people
(4) When you need to find about $75bn a year, you simply cannot to be prejudicial and biased. Nigeria needs all the help she can get. As the saying goes, beggars cannot be choosers, so it is time for Nigerians to abandon their homophobia and embrace what is known as pink investment
(5) In 2015, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-sexual (LGBT) adults in the US held a combined buying power of approximately $917bn. This figure exceeded that held by Asian-Americans while nearing that of both African Americans and Hispanic Americans
(6) Globally, the economic power of pink money has been seen as a positive force for the gay community, creating a kind of financial self-identification which helps gay and lesbian individuals feel they are part of a community which values them. Just imagine what would happen to our economy if Nigeria attracted say $100bn of pink investment every year
(7) We could transform the Nigerian economy overnight if we scrapped our homophobic laws, embraced LGTB investors and set ourselves ambitious investment targets. Ask the LGBT community to invest in railway lines, toll roads, shopping malls, shipping ports, airports, town centres, etc
(8) Do you know that some US industries have tried to focus on pink markets with specific advertising campaigns? For example, American Airlines saw its earnings from LGBT people rise from $20m in 1994 to $193.5m in 1999 after forming team devoted to gay and lesbian marketing. What stops these 150 or so “special assistants” In the presidency embarking upon a similar campaign to attract investment?
(9) Known as the pink pound in the UK, the British gay market is estimated to be worth up to £6bn a year. In June 2006 a specialised marketing seminar called the Pink Pound Conference was held in London and a similar conference took place in November 2006 by the Market Research Society. Now regular summits, these conferences lead to significant economic growth. Nigeria needs to learn from this
(10) We actually have a template for this as after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Russia moved from being the most anti-Semitic nation on earth to one that embraces Jews and allowed them to flourish. The Soviet government outlawed all expressions of anti-Semitism, with the public use of the ethnic word Yid being punished by up to one year of imprisonment. They also modernised the Jewish community by establishing 1,100 Yiddish-language schools, 40 Yiddish-language daily newspapers and settling Jews on farms in the Ukraine and Crimea. As a result, at the beginning of the 1930s, Jews who were just 1.8% of the Soviet population accounted for between 12% and 15% of all university students. In 1934 the Soviet state then established the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Russian Far East. Up until today, it remains the world’s only Jewish territory outside with an official status. What stops Nigeria building a new satellite town outside Abuja to attract gay investors and workers as they flee from homophobia across Africa?