Alena and the Ministry of Education Research Department
Lesson of the Week: Nigeria is a small, small world.
This week was moderately productive. On Monday, I attempted to go to the Niger Delta University, but the Chief of Protocol, the driver and the assistant to the C.O.P. all were very nervous, even though I had a security guard (that I arranged, since they haven’t assigned one to me). So I listened to them and turned back. I spent the rest of the day doing research on asset theory and reviewing some Bayelsa State material.
On Tuesday, I met with the Commissioner of Education and got her on board with the Advisory Committee Idea, and met most of her staff. She seems helpful.
On Wednesday, I had a meeting over the phone with Kate who works for USAID’s MARKETS program and has experience with financial education. She is very excited about our project and thinks that most Nigerians never learn to save. Her main points were to recommend some sources of information and to put me in contact with their partners in the Delta. Also, she highly recommends experiential/examples in teaching, not just lecture based, as well as simulations of a market-cycle. I have a follow up meeting with her in Abuja during the first week of August.
Saturday was the most productive day. I met with the Commissioner of Finance and answered numerous questions:
- The Commissioner contacted the Governor about the office (still in debate) and the assistant, which should probably come from Education.
- Finance says they’ll arrange for meetings with the bank managers. We’ll likely meet with them as a group.
- I need to submit the new draft of the Memo about the Advisory Committee and the launch event to the Commissioner of Finance.
- Paul and Tubo will look into my visa issue on Monday with NIS.
- The Commissioner gave me the contact information for the Governor’s Chief of Staff, the Commissioner of Youth and the Commissioner of Information.
I also am now in contact with my counter-part, her name is Tonbofa Ashimi. I don’t know a lot about her, but she has a background in both law and finance. She went to Harvard (I looked her up online) and has published a number of very balanced news articles. She also seems very savvy about electoral law (always useful since Nigeria has some big elections coming up).
It turns out that Tonbofa and I are one degree of separation apart. I know her sister at Columbia University. Small world!
So a Nigerian Harvard grad and an American Columbia grad…lets see what we can do to get this project moving!
Another Nigeria is a Small World moment—turns out that my long lost college professor lives in the next state over. What a nice reunion!