FG Promises Protection Of Intellectual Property, Investment

For two days, American investors and chieftains from the technology and entertainment sectors of the US and indeed global economies took turns to listen and actively interact with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and the Nigerian delegation drawn from the public and private sectors.

They came in impressive numbers for two full days to listen and assess investment opportunities in Nigeria and also asked questions.

From the Silicon Valley for instance, well over twenty core American investors in technology spent over hours on Monday afternoon interacting with the Nigerian delegation led by the Vice President alongside others including Industry, Trade & Investment Minister Dr Okey Enelamah, on how to invest in Nigeria.

Top among the US investors were Tim Kendall, a US investor who worked with Facebook monetization and has led PINTEREST, headquartered in San Francisco and valued at about $12B. Pinterest is a “web and mobile application company that operates a software system designed to discover information on the World Wide Web, mainly using images and on a shorter scale, GIFs and videos. Pinterest has reached 200 million monthly active users as of September 2017.”

Others who attended the investment summit in Silicon Valley included representatives of StreetEdge Capital, a Bay Area, California multi-billion dollar family partnership with global footprints including holdings in the US, India and Africa. There were also others including Chika Nwobi and Tom Terbell, partners from Rise Capital, “a private equity firm specializing in early venture and later stage investments. It seeks to invest in the internet enabled sector in emerging markets.” The multi-million dollar investment firm is also based in San Francisco, California.

In the same vein, Prof. Osinbajo also visited the headquarters of LinkedIn where he held a meeting with the Co-founder of LinkedIn, Allen Blue, and other senior executives of the company at its headquarters in California.
The Vice President later also featured as the Special Guest at the firm’s Fireside Chat with a packed full room of Nigerians in Diaspora, which was also streamed live to a global audience.

The next day in Los Angeles, right in Hollywood, the Vice President and his delegation, drawn mainly from the Advisory Group on Technology Innovation and Creativity, an arm of the National Industrial Competitiveness Council, also met with an impressive array of entertainment chieftains and investors in the US.

They included top Hollywood executives like Mark Viane of Paramount Pictures; Steven O’Dell of Sony Pictures; Kieran Breen, Karen Mbanefo and Bryan Song of 20th Century Fox, Betty Lee of Lions Gate; Craig Dehmel and Shehu Garba from IMAX Entertainment; Monique Esclavissat of Warner Bros; Mary Ann Hughes from Walt Disney, John Fithian from the National Association of Theater Owners, and Ryan Gibson of BET International, among others. There were also representatives from Fox Network,

Also at the forum from the Nigerian delegation were renowned names in the film, music & entertainment industry, including Innocent Idibia, popularly known as Tuface; New York-based Nigerian visual artist, musician, singer/songwriter, Laolu Senbanjo; CEO, Ebony Life TV, Mo Abudu, Chocolate City CEO, Audu Maikori; founder/CEO Terra Kulture, Bolanle Austen-Peters; New York artist, Sesan Ogunro among others.

It would be recalled that the Vice President on Monday was received by Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other top Google executives at the global technology company’s corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.

After the meeting in Silicon Valley, the Vice President also interacted with scores of Nigerians working with Google.
Speaking in Hollywood before he left the US early yesterday, Prof. Osinbajo noted that the Federal Government is determined to ensure needed regulations to stimulate the growth of the country’s entertainment and creative industries, including the protection of Intellectual Property and investment guarantees.

The VP stated this during the interactive investment forum on Nigeria’s creativity sector with US-based entertainment outlets, media & investors held in Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, all day Tuesday.

According to the Vice President, “we understand how dynamic the environment is, both technology and creative arts. But we think that the way to go will be to work with those who are actually in the industry, those like yourselves who are putting in their money, their resources, time, and energy into this, and trying to do our regulations in such a way that we are competitive practically with anyone else in the world.

“So what we have done so far is that we’ve been looking at what the specific issues are, and there are quite a few. There are those who want to know about what we are doing in terms of Intellectual Property protection, investment guarantee, and all of that. But I think that the most important thing really, is that we have a government and a lot of those who work in our agencies, who are determined to work through this, day by day, piece by piece to make sure that we get our environment right, and we get the right type of investment environment.”

Prof. Osinbajo further said the Buhari administration will continue to make effort to improve the country’s infrastructure and technology to grow the country’s entertainment/creative sector and the digital economy.

He said, “we are also, of course, very interested in many ways, in deepening infrastructure, especially broadband, connectivity and all of that, because we think that mobile telephony is going to be one of the big ways, especially for the distribution of film and all of that. And we are convinced that with the size of our population, we must find ways of getting film and content unto mobile phones, and also working out payment systems around that because we think that that is the way this is going to go.

“We know that in the next couple of years, that really is where a lot of development is going to go to, and we are very anxious to get our regulations right, to get all of our laws in place and to ensure that we are able to attract all of you who want to do business with us, especially those of you who are coming from other countries. As for the Nigerians, we are, of course, actively engaged with the local industry, and that is one of the reasons why we have the advisory council which takes into account many of our local investors, local artistes and the local entertainment crowd generally.”

The interactive forum in Los Angeles was the last leg of the Vice President’s trip to the United States where he led a Public-Private sector collaborative investment road show, including meetings with global industry leaders in the technology, film, music & entertainment industry in San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively.

The investment road show led by the Vice President showcased the efforts of the Buhari administration in developing Nigeria’s technology, entertainment and creative sectors; and sought to deepen collaboration between Nigeria and the US in these areas.

Also on the Vice President’s delegation were representatives of tech firms, Nollywood and several relevant government agencies.

His earlier meetings with a series of key US technology investors, executives from US-based companies at the “Invest in Nigeria Summit”, was held at the Four Seasons Hotel, Palo Alto, San Francisco, California, while the meeting with Hollywood and US entertainment industry operatives was at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Los Angeles.

At the meetings which were well attended by US and Nigerian investors/industry chieftains, Prof. Osinbajo reiterated Government’s commitment to the growth of the country’s digital economy by creating the right environment for the technology, creative industries to thrive and unlocking the country’s potential.

The Vice President said, “One of the critical things for us also, is the fact that we are very open to ensuring that regulation is competitive, especially in the Tech space. All over the world, this is a very dynamic environment, and we recognise that, and we want to be able to work with players and investors, to get the regulations and environment right.”

Prof. Osinbajo also showcased opportunities for innovation and investment in Nigeria, while also highlighting the growth of Nigerian technology start-ups and young Nigerians taking the lead in innovation and creativity.

He noted that Government was exploring more ways to leverage on technology to improve infrastructure and other areas of the economy, while also highlighting the impact of the Buhari administration Social Investment Programme such as the N-power scheme and how it leverages on technology to train and empower young Nigerian graduates. So far the N-Power scheme has 200,000 beneficiaries, with 300,000 more expected to be added soon.

Hard Facts: Growth Of Technology, Creative Industry In Nigeria

As Vice President Yemi Osinbajo leads roadshow to showcase growth of Nigeria’s technology and entertainment sectors, here are the fact sheet on the growth of the industries in Nigeria.

Find below highlights of the growth of technology, creative industry in Nigeria
  • Lagos is one of Africa’s largest markets, with GDP of over $136 billion and significant young population
  • Lagos startups are also building to serve the entire African market, with high quality and relatively lower cost talent
  • Startups like Andela, NESA, and Data Science Nigeria are training developers and Data Scientists
  • Strong community and support system through incubators, accelerators & dev communities
  • Nigeria has recorded significant progress made in recent years with local and international VC funds emerging with over $100 million invested in 2017.
  • Over $100 million raised from VC investors by Nigerian startups.
  • Over $ 40 million raised each by Flutterwave and Andela, and SureRemit recently raised $7 million in an ICO.
  • Government led initiatives (LSETF, Startup Mambilla etc) also providing early stage capital.
  • Nigeria’s young population have strong entrepreneurial and risk taking culture, evident in the growing number of innovative companies leveraging technology to solve locally relevant problems.

Several global technology leaders have launched initiatives aimed at Nigeria, including:

  • Google Launchpad for Nigeria, the first ever Launchpad outside San Francisco.
  • Facebook recently launched physical hub space in Lagos.
  • GE operates a GE Lagos garage for startups.
  • Growth of technology hubs in Lagos has attracted gloabl attention with recent visits by CEOs of Google, Facebook, Microsoft.
  • Significant growth in number of Nigerian startups accepted into global accelerators- Y-Combinator, 500 Startups.
  • FinTech’s with significant Nigerian operations also raising major funding e.g. Cellulant raised $47.5 million.

NEW FRONTIERS: Significant strides made by Nigeria’s technology startups:

  • Online and mobile money payment processors and gateways facilitating web payment through different payment methods (card, bank accounts etc.), e.g. Flutterwave processed over $1.2 billion in transactions in 1 year;
  • Paga has acquired 8 million customers since inception
  • Several startups leveraging alternative data sources and data science to lend to the underbanked, e.g. Paylater issuing over 1,000 loans daily with 5-minute disbursements
  • Players leveraging web payment channels to create alternative automated savings products, e.g. Piggybank grew deposits over 3000% in 2017.
NIGERIA’S E-COMMERCE CHAMPIONS
  • Jumia has emerged as Africa’s first unicorn acquiring over 1 million customers
  • Innovative players creating new channels in entertainment and media consumption such as Adtech players like Twinpine which has created a  mobile ad network for Africa leveraging telco data
  • IrokoTV is the largest distributor of Nollywood content globally
  • Players digitizing an offline health industry and increasing access to healthcare for the mass market e.g. Lifebank, which recently raised $1m to help hospitals better access blood & other health supplies
  • Companies leveraging technology to serve small holder farmers and increase funding for agriculture, e.g. FarmCrowdy has raised over $1 million to build a crowd-funding platform for agriculture and bring Nigeria’s farmers online
  • Startups solving the problem of easing access to physical goods in Nigeria leveraging tech solutions, e.g. Kobo360 has built the ‘Uber for trucks’- matching truck drivers to companies who need their services, and recently raised $1.2M from Western Technology Investment
  • Andela is creating the next generation of tech developers across Africa and providing opportunities for global firms to leverage African talent. Has raised over $80 million from several investors including Chan Zuckerberg initiative
  • Several innovative players building solutions across off grid solar solutions, recycling and environmental protection, e.g. Rensource is building the largest off-grid solar network in Nigeria

 

How Yobe Govt Resettled IDPs After Shutting Down Camp

MUSA M. BUBA in this report, looks at how Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Yobe state were resettled with the camps closed down

Since the commencement of the insurgency in the Northeast, many people were killed others displaced and moved to IDPs camps or with the host communities.

It was in 2009 when the Northeast sub-region started to experience terror attacks and Yobe state witnessed its first attack in the state capital on November 4, 2011. Since then the insurgents has continued to launch attacks on government facilities such as schools, hospitals, worship centres, as well as on individuals and their private properties. Yunusari, Geidam, Gujba and Gulani, were the local government councils worst hit by the insurgency in Yobe. In fact, they were overrun for years especially Gujba and Gulani.

The main bridge linking the state to southern Borno state was blown off and economic activities were crippled.

IDPs voluntarily returned
These led many residents to flee to relatively peaceful areas while government had to establish some camps to accommodate the Internally Displaced Persons IDPs. With the gallantly fight by the military, the aforementioned local governments were recaptured, the state government reconstructed the blown off bridge, the road reconstructed and some of the IDPs voluntarily returned.

This is not unconnected with the support of the Ibrahim Gaidam led- administration in providing hilux patrol vehicles to the military and other securities agencies, apart from the regular logistics provided to ginger their fighting spirit.
In order to meet the needs of the IDPs, Yobe state government set up committee on Reconstruction, Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the displaced persons, headed by the Deputy Governor, Abubakar D. Aliyu, to make sure that all their needs are met at when due.

IDPs that opted to stay in Yobe
The IDPs who voluntarily returned in Gujba and Gulani local governments two years ago after return of relative peace, the government provided them with farming implements of 130 sets of Animal Traction which consist of oxen, agricultural implements and ox-driven carts totaling N49,650.000 for each beneficiary.

Also a good number of 10kg of cowpea, 8kg of sorghum, and millet respectively, 25kg of fertilizer and assorted vegetable seeds to about 33,000 farmers in the state especially the returning IDPs were provided
To provide good health to returning IDPs, the Yobe State Emergency Management Agency (YOSEMA) distributed drugs to twelve medical centres across the state especially those affected by the insurgency. The medicines were brought to the state by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) with instruction that they should be shared to the downtrodden who passed through series of hazards as a prevalent terrorists attack occasioned by the Boko Haram.

Succour for IDPs
The IDPs who opted to permanently settle in Kukareta a community in the outskirt of Damaturu the state capital, the Yobe state government presented plots of land, assorted building materials and cash support to 307 of them.
It includes 50 x 100 plots and building materials like blocks, zinc, nails, timber, cement among others to the IDPs, which mark yet another milestone in the quest to assists and support the IDPs to build houses and settle in their new communities, apart from the N30,000 each, given to the 307 heads of households.

Yobe state government had also provided additional social amenities like health clinics, water supply facilities and schools to augment the existing ones at Kukareta and other returnee communities.

Last IDPs camp (Pompomari)
The camp was established in 2015 with 4,211 displaced persons from Ambiya Kura, Ambiya Bulabulin, Ambiya Tasha, Sharfuri and Turo Kura all in Gujba local government area.

The Permanent Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency, Musa Idi Jidawa, while closing the Pompomari IDP camp recently, said, state government has so far expended over N140 million since the administration took off, feeding and routine medical upkeep with special referrals to Specialists and Teaching hospitals in Damaturu and Maiduguri as well as, Neuro-Psychiatric hospital in Maiduguri.

Out of the 4,211 IDPs earlier camped, 2,897 IDPs voluntarily left to pursue their means of livelihood after the state government provided them with cash assistance, food items, transport fare and other incentives according to the Musa Idi Jidawa, the permanent secretary SEMA.

As at the time of the closure on 27th June, 2018 the camp had a population of 1,314 IDPs with 318 heads of household and 996 dependents.

Return packages
The Yobe state government had acknowledged received of complimentary supports from federal government and UN agencies like NEMA, VSF, PINE, PCNI, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNFPA, and WFP, internal and local NGOs like ICRC, ACF, NRCS and SMYLE, among others.

What the Yobe state government prepared as return packages for the returning IDPs includes 743 bags of 50kg rice, 596 jerry cans of 25 litres vegetable oil, 541 cartons of tomato paste, 370 cartons of bathing soap, 1000 pieces of mosquitoes nets, 1,272 pieces of nylon mats, 60 bales of used clothes and cash assistance of N9,110,000.00 to be shared among the 318 heads of the households based on family size.

It is significant to mention that, the people of the Northeast have had the test of time that will continue to ring in the minds of generation to generations. Many Yobe residents have acknowledged the importance of peace in every society therefore all should contribute his/her quota to make sure that peace reign in our country.

With this development, Yobe state has shut down all the government established camps but still working toward improving means of livelihood of the returnees.

How The Nigerian Gambling Market Changed

There are a lot of changes happening in Nigeria in the past few years, in politics, culture, and more. If you watch the news, you will be able to understand just how monumental those changes are.

Every shift in Nigeria’s economic and political states affects the public immensely, and one of the results of those changes is the rise in popularity of gambling.

Gambling is one of the most popular pastime activities in the world, with billions of people frequenting online casinos on a regular basis. There are various types of gambling many Nigerian citizens partake in – from land-based gambling venues to sports betting and lotteries. That means that every gambler can find what suits him best with no problem at all.

With that in mind, it is time to explore the changes that occurred in the gambling market in Nigeria in recent years. Are there more players that enjoy the activity or less? Which type of gambling is the most popular one? And what led to those changes?

You will hear those questions come from experts from all around the world, and it is time to address some of them.

Gambling in Nigeria

According to a report about gambling in Africa, people in Nigeria spend about 5 billion Naira per day, which is a substantial sum – especially when a lot of Nigerians are unemployed due to economic changes.

Nowadays, almost 150 million Nigerian citizens have cell phones, and 97 million people can access the internet. A big part of the Nigerian population has access to the internet, which means that they have more opportunities to participate in gambling activities whenever it is possible.

One of the most common forms of gambling in Nigeria is sports gambling – with more than 60 million people around the country participating in the activity on a regular basis – and the reason for that is quite simple.

First and foremost, watching sports is known to be one of the most exhilarating activities that people enjoy on a regular basis. In Nigeria, the locals usually watch football – cheering not only the local teams but international teams as well.

The fact that you can combine one of the most popular sports in the country with the slight chance that the fans can make some money off of it is why gambling is more sought-after nowadays.

But there is another reason why the Nigerian people are drawn to gambling. It is no secret that the country’s financial state is not the best, which leads people to look for other sources of income. Some rely on gambling as their means to survive, while others use it to get quick cash on the side.

Maybe it is hard to get rid of the illusion that if you keep trying and you gamble enough times, you are bound to beat the statistics and win an astounding amount of cash. That kind of hope is what makes people hold on to dear life, and it is a big part of our mentality, no matter if we live in Africa or the US.

All those reasons explain why gambling is turning into a permanent fixture in the lives of Nigerian people, and it seems like this kind of pastime activity will only get more popular with time.

In Conclusion

Gambling is a popular activity all around the globe. It is unpredictable and fun, and there’s no wonder why people all around Nigeria love to gamble every once in a while.

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of people in Nigeria that started gambling, and that is all thanks to the accessibility of the internet and other types of media.

The drastic change in the popularity of gambling in Nigeria is interesting, and there is no way to determine how it will affect the culture and the population in general – only time will tell!

 

Off Bank Robbery: Why Police Invited Bukola Saraki

The Nigeria Police Force has invited Senate president Bukola Saraki to answer to allegations surrounding his links to the armed robbers behind the deadly robbery  of a handful of banks in Offa in April.

At least 34 people, including nine police officers and two pregnant women, were killed in shootings during the robbery in Offa.

“Millions of Naira from the Banks and Twenty One (21) AK47 Rifles belonging to the Nigeria Police Force in the Armoury of  the Police Divisional Headquarters, Offa were admitted to have been carted away by the Five (5) gang leaders and the other Seventeen (17) principal suspects during the Banks robbery.”

Providing details leading to the invitation of the Senate President, a statement by the spokesperson of the force, Jimoh Moshood said five principal suspects among 15 others paraded in Abuja in connection to the Offa robbery indicted the senate president in their statements.

“The Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki is being invited by the Nigeria Police Force to report to the Force Intelligence Response Team office at Guzape, Abuja to answer to the allegations levelled against him from the confessions of the Five (5) Gang Leaders and some of the other 17 suspects arrested for direct involvement and active participation in the Offa Bank Robbery and the gruesome killing of 33 innocent persons which includes some pregnant women and nine Police personnel,”

According to the statement, one Ayodele among the suspects and acclaimed leader of the robbery gang said they were political thugs of Saraki and have been working for him since when he was governor of Kwara state.

Ayodele said they were not working on the instruction of Saraki but they worked with his encouragement.

Among exhibit the police intelligence monitoring unit secured is a vehicle allegedly given him by Kwara state government.

“The Five (5) gang leaders further confessed during investigation that they are political thugs under the name Youth Liberation Movement a.k.a “Good Boys” admitted and confessed to have been sponsored with firearms, money and operational vehicles by the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State, Alh. Abdulfatah Ahmed.”
“In the course of discreet investigation into the confessions of these five (5) gang leaders and the other seventeen (17) principal suspects, a Lexus jeep GX-300 (Ash Colour) with a sticker plate number with inscription  “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” used by the gang leader (Ayoade Akinnibosun ‘M’ 37Yrs) during the bank robbery and the killing of the THIRTY THREE (33) innocent persons was taken to Government House, Ilorin  on 16th May, 2018 where the sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” was removed before another plate number (Reg. No. Kwara, KMA 143 RM) registered in the name of Ayoade AKinnibosun the Overall Commander of the Offa Bank Robbery was then attached to the vehicle to cover up the identity of the said vehicle.”
“The exhibit vehicle was subsequently recovered from the premises of the Min. of Environmental and Forestry in Ilorin, Kwara State. While the sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” removed from the vehicle was recovered from one Adeola Omiyale who drove the said Lexus Jeep to Government House, Ilorin immediately after the Bank Robbery.”
“The Personal Assistant (Political) to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Alabi Olalekan, who is privy to information that the Police is looking for the lexus Jeep as an exhibit used in the Offa Bank Robbery and the killings of THIRTY THREE (33) innocent persons directed one Adeola Omiyale to relocate the Lexus Jeep to Government House, Ilorin. The PA (Political) is currently in Police custody and has made useful statement assisting the Police in further investigation into the case.”
“A revolver pistol and pump action gun were recovered by the Police Investigation Team from the Personal Assistant (Political) to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Alabi Olalekan’s Farm where he directed his brother to hide them after his arrest by the Police.”
“In order to conceal evidence, the Chief of Staff to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Yusuf Abdulwahab who has been arrested and taken into Police custody, arranged the removal of the sticker plate number with inscription “SARAKI” “Kwara, State of Harmony” from the exhibit vehicle and also registered the exhibit Lexus Jeep used in the Offa Bank Robbery and the killings of THIRTY THREE (33) innocent persons in the name of Ayoade AKinnibosun, the overall Gang Commander of the Offa Bank Robbery while the Ayoade AKinnibosun was already in Police custody for more than six (6) days before the registration of the vehicle.
“Investigation is ongoing and effort is being intensified to arrest other suspects still at large. All suspects involved will be arraigned in court for prosecution on completion of investigation.”

19 Years Of Uninterrupted Civil Rule And Struggle For Institutional Democracy, By Nkannebe Raymond

An offshoot of prolonged military adventure into Nigerian politics is the overhang of military rule. One writer put it in more graphic terms when he referred to it as the “military complex”.

One writer put it in more graphic terms when he referred to it as the “military complex”. This military rule syndrome if you like, manifests itself in arbitrary actions of supposed democratic leaders who unconsciously go about executive functions of state, with a jackboot mentality and has with successive governments become the norm cutting across the full spectrum of Nigeria’s leadership infrastructure namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Throughout the 19 years of uninterrupted democratic rule in Nigeria, the fundamentals of an ideal democratic state have remained in perpetual abeyance.  With a centralised government; a yellow federal structure; a near fusion of executive and legislative powers; the absence of due process of law in executive functions to name a few, the fruits of democracy remain for the most part largely un-reaped.

In recent times, there has been a certain tendency to adap to this system of democratic anomie, such that some political scientists and commentators alike have attempted to create a democracy peculiar to the Nigerian circumstances. But can this be? Democracy as a model system of government derives its beauty and strength on its enabling institutions and as such cannot be subjected to any form of panel-beating to meet the demands of a reactionary ruling class. There is therefore no cherry-picking in the adoption of democracy as a system of government by any state. Indeed it would be most preposterous to say a state is a democracy, yet the freedom of the press is muzzled or the rule of law compromised.

To be sure, Democracy is derived from two greek words, “Demos”meaning people, and “kratos”meaning rule. Put in its definitive context, it is the government of the people and takes its roots from ancient Athens. Deriving its conventional form today from the great American political philosopher, Abraham Lincoln, at the iconic Gettysburg address, democracy is no mean system of government whose distinguishing features can be compromised for parochial considerations. But a one off look at the 19 years of democratic rule in Nigeria would bear out that not much could be said to have been achieved in the institutionalization of democracy.

Institutional democracy exists when all those with a major stake in an institution or network of institutions have significant decision-making power in determining its values and goals. It is a system where the institutions of state are so empowered that they drive the entire government framework. It has an inherent system to redeem and assert itself when subjected to compromise and only admits of the right people within its operation. It is not a shirt term fix; but a long term policy based on practicality and principle.

As against this standard practice of institutionalised democracy, democratic rule in Nigeria has rather thrown up strong men with weak institutions of state to thrown them overboard. In the process Nigerians have witnessed too much politics without governance; noise without action; motion without movement and a country of ethnic nationalities as against a nation. There is no implicit confidence in the capacity of the institutions of state to rise in defence of democratic ideals.

This much was writ large in the circumstances that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power. Up until this day, the phone call of concession made by former president Good Luck Jonathan congratulating his opponent at the time, has been fingered as the sole reason why we were able to have the first transition of power from an incumbent to an opposition element.

It has been suggested here and there, that were the former president to have been an aggregator of political power, he would have deployed his political might to protest the result of the polls as has been the practice in most African states. Through all this, no mention was made of the capacity of the democratic institutions to rise up against such a move were it contemplated by the former president. Thus, the essentials of the ballot?a key element of any democracy has unwittingly been discounted in favour of the discretion of an incumbent. With a largely subservient police force; a sycophantic anti-corruption machinery; an often compromised electoral commission; a warehoused military and a centralised treasure trove, the engine of democracy grinds at the mercy of the commander in chief.

Whereas one of the enduring ideals of the democratic system of government is the principle of Rule of Law; a painstaking deconstruction of our democratic experience would leave behind a pathetic score card of non-compliance with constitutional provisions and a festival of impunity. Section 15(5) of the 1999 Constitution provides instructively that the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, yet, these two constitutional evils have since become the unwritten national ethos. And as though in a Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy; presidents, governors and local government chairmen carry on like proverbial Lords of the Manor while a beleaguered citizenry watch with trepidation.

We have seen this resort to abuse of power in our chequered history chiefly masterminded by the duo of the executive and legislative arm of government, with the judiciary rising up to stem the tide when it pleases the establishment to obey its orders. In the surreptitious impeachment of the then deputy governor of Abia state, now senator, Eyinnaya Abaribe, we saw the abuse of legislative power. But even that too was elevated to new heights in the impeachment drama of the then governor of Oyo state, Senator Rashid Ladoja before the judiciary came to save the day.

In the controversial impeachment of governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state in his first ‘missionary journey’ we saw the abuse of political power to settle political differences. In Plateau state, we also saw this being perpetuated even with more conviction of purpose. In the Third Term gambit we saw the abuse of state power; in the impeachments of senators Adolphus Wabara; the late Chuba Okadigbo just to name a few, we saw wholesale abuse of power. Now, it would serve no purpose I think, to chronicle the resort to corrupt practices that has become a rule rather than exceptions in our democratic experience. The ugly records of the country’s performance on this score, are well documented by the periodic Corruption perception index of the German Non-Governmental Organization; Transparency International. But suffice to say that in all, the precepts of democratic rule remain for the most part elusive.

The institutional premises of Nigeria’s democratic rule are so faulty that it cannot be logically concluded that we practice the democratic system of government strictly so called. Ours is a higgledy piggeldy strewn democratic climate where the rule of any-thing-goes and not the Rule of Law is the raison d’ etere of governments both at state and the federal levels.

Only recently, in a state where the principle of Separation of Powers ought to be the standard of relations among the tiers of government, a Court of law interred with the right of parliament to amend a substantive law despite the unmistakable powers of the legislature as endorsed by section 4 of the 1999 Constitution. In like manner, we have an executive arm of government that has repeatedly disobeyed the orders of a properly constituted High Court to release a citizen who has been held without trial for upward of three years. We saw the raid in the house of senior ranking judicial officers on trumped up charges of corruption. And if that was not chilling enough, we saw over bloated expenditure of state resources by the executive without recourse to constitutional checkpoints so to do. In short, democracy has been so prostituted as to lose its majestic force and appeal.

Even as I write, we have a head of an anti-corruption agency whose appointment has been refused by parliament on justifiable grounds, yet carries on his activities in acting capacity for ever with support from the presidency. The head of a revenue agency would not appear before the senate in his official raiment; the head of the police calls the bluff of the National Assembly; political parties who promise to uphold the rule of law if elected into office upend their internal rules and regulations; a party chairmanship election at the ward levels throws up parallel congresses here and there; the civil service is comatose and lying prostrate; health workers are on strike for ever; the educational institutions are decrepit; unemployment statistics race for the triple digits; the citizenry are unprotected with human lives lost to the point of desensitization of the citizenry. It has been one democratic experience without its dividends as the cliché goes.

Yet, if Nigeria must get it right, conscientious efforts must be made at the strengthening of her democratic institutions. I think the cerebral authors of the masterpiece: Why Nations Fail dealt succinctly with the imperatives of an institutionalised system. Since it is agreed by all sides that at the core of Nigeria’s moribund governmental framework is the absence of an institutionalised system, a sure way to start would be by giving power back to the institutions and deemphasising the might of individuals as in the womb of this, lay all the solutions to the problems of developmental governance.

And so while many state governments starting from the presidency would today mount the rostrums to reel out the ‘achievements’ of their 3-year ‘democratic’ superintendence in terms of the number of roads that have been commissioned; the block of classrooms undergoing construction; the amount of megawatts of electricity that has been added to the national grid and so on and so forth, they must be told that the greatest threat to our democracy is not  the absence of few patches of roads here and there, but rather  the attitude of governments at all levels  towards the preservation and respect for democratic institutions.

 

I wish all of us a Happy Democracy Day!

Nkannebe Raymond is a legal practitioner and Public Affairs analyst. Comments and reactions to raymondnkannebe@gmail.com.

 

2019: INEC And Underage Voting Challenges

Introduction

The beauty of democracy and indeed its attractiveness to many is the broad participation as well as the guarantee of periodic, genuine and credible elections. Nineteen years after Nigeria returned to participatory democracy, it has made discernible progress, including a seamless handover in 2015. Yet, Nigeria’s democracy is fraught with some teething problems. Underage voting has become a national challenge and sore point.

As the election year approaches, it is natural for people to recall words attributed to former Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, as recalled by his former secretary; “I consider it completely unimportant who…will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.”1 Going by Nigeria’s immediate-past history, such worries are not completely out of place. Not a few believe it is imperative to look critically at those who will count the votes during the 2019 general elections and the methodology they will use. Certainly, there will be challenges.

Already, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the body saddled with the responsibility is under intense criticism for what transpired at the Kano State local government area elections. The Nation, in a recent editorial piece could not be have been more critical of what happened in Kano State. Trenchantly, the paper observed that, “A very sad reminder of this was the charade of an election recently conducted into the local government councils of Kano State. In an age when technology has made it difficult to hide anything, photographs of children who were illegally accredited to vote soon filled the cyber space. Then, came the denials – from the state government, the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KNSIEC), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and somewhat the INEC. No one wanted to accept that the constitution and the Electoral Act had been breached.”2

That broad brush appraisal echoes the views of most Nigerians. Some took to social media to vent their frustrations, especially concerning INEC’s ability to conduct credible elections in 2019. INEC’s Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, admitted that officials, often out of fear for their lives and threats by community members, do register underaged voters. This confirmed the suspicion of many and opened a new vista of public condemnation.

In a move to save face and apparently restore the confidence of the national electorate, INEC set up a committee to investigate the allegations of underage voting that trailed the Kano State Local Government Area elections. The committee sat and presented their report expeditiously.

In the committee’s report, according to an op-ed piece by the INEC’s Chiarman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, INEC swiftly but deftly walked away from issue of being forced to register minors, and distanced itself from the “charade” in Kano. Furthermore, INEC doubled down on its earlier stance that the only role it played was to provide the KNSIEC with the Kano State Register of Voters for the election. INEC also tried to disassociate the alleged irregularity from where most of the accusing fingers are pointed – at the National Register of Voters. In denying any nexus between the alleged underaged voting and its register, INEC contended that its register “was substantially not used to accredit voters before voting,”3 and thus, “it is logical to conclude that if underaged voting occurred in the election, it was not due to any presence of underaged registrants on the Register of Voters.”4 INEC went on to state that “The few images and video clips from Kano show no accreditation of voters or any relationship with the Register of Voters.”5 That said, INEC sought  to reassure Nigerians that the National Register of Voters, the sole determinant of who gets to vote and who doesn’t during the 2019 general elections is “dependable.”6

A New Wave of Scrutiny 

The veracity of INEC’s contention remains in dispute. Indeed INEC and its operations face new wave of scrutiny. Many see INEC Committee’s self-absolving report as “a proverbial child that passes the exam it sets for itself.” The widespread allegations that dead people signed petitions for Sen. Dino Melaye’s recall, a matter also handled by INEC, has not helped INEC’s image . Indeed it is now compelling for INEC to update the National Register of Voters urgently. The body should work with National Identity Management Commission and other relevant government agencies with national demographic data base to redact names of dead and underaged voters and in so doing, invalidate those PVCs that may be used in ways that could undermine the credibility of every forthcoming state or the national election.

The issue of having a sufficiently credible National Register of Voters is too important a matter to be entrusted solely with the commission’s self-auditing mechanism. Political parties, civil society groups and other stakeholders should show more leadership in this regard. Beyond taking up the media space to call out INEC in the event of real or perceived shortcomings, relevant stakeholders should take the pain to thoroughly scrutinize the National Register of Voters. And in the event of discovering any impropriety, including underage voters, file their fact-backed complaints appropriately and pursue necessary redress rigorously.

Understandably, in its self defense, INEC has passed the buck to various political stakeholders.  According to INEC, “…we have consistently given political parties copies of the register for each year and ahead of general elections as well as Governorship off-season elections. Only recently…, we gave each of the 68 political parties a copy of the register containing names of the 3.9 million new voters registered in 2017. We urged them to use the register not only to reach out to voters, but also to check whether there are ineligible persons on the list and draw the attention of the Commission to them. Unfortunately, since this Commission was inaugurated in 2015, there has not been a single report from any political party of ineligible voters on the Register.”7

Despite INEC’s attempt at self exculpating, it’s clarion call to action has merit. Given what is at stake, much will certainly be achieved if political parties, especially the leading opposition parties, civil society organizations, the media, institute their own independent scrutiny of the rather voluminous National Register of Voters, with a view of highlighting the weaknesses to the electoral umpire, and also making theRegister really dependable.

It noteworthy that as required by law, INEC confirmed that  it displays regularly the provisional register soon after each Continuous Voter Registration for periods usually lasting between 5 and 14 days, for claims and objections. Nigerian citizens, who inevitably bear the greatest brunt of flawed elections, should sustain the tempo by maximizing the opportunity of this display to alert INEC and indeed the whole world about “ineligible registrants, including underaged persons and aliens.”8

Two South-West states of Ekiti and Osun are scheduled to hold Governorship elections before the 2019 general elections. Both states present sufficient basis and the litmus to test the preparedness of INEC. The only limitation being that these two states, unlike their counterparts in the north, do not particularly have a history of underage voting, resulting from “padding” the voters register.

Available evidence and data reveals an interesting pattern in the geographical spread of underaged voters in Nigeria. Recent data say Nigeria currently has 10.5million out-of-school children. The largest swathe of that population are domiciled in the northern part of the country. Incidentally, the same part of the country has the highest occurrence of underage voters. That these children who could not be compelled to enroll and stay in school, could be found and persuaded to obtain voter’s card illegally and eventually mobilized to exercise “a franchise that does not belong to them legally” during elections, speaks volume of the real interests of the national elites and political class.

Discomfortingly, the issue of underaged voting represents only a fraction of irregularities witnessed during recent elections. During the 2017 governorship elections in Anambra State, there were allegations of grotesque manipulations of the card reader machine and a possible compromise of the ICT unit of INEC. Similarly, evidence exist that the votes of those who were manually accredited, were not reflected in the final results announced after balloting. Efforts should be made to investigate those allegations and see that such exploitations, if they indeed happened, will not reoccur in 2019.

Conclusion 

INEC should strive to live up to its statutory mandate – an independent arbiter. It should not allow both external pressure, vested interest and internal compromise to undermine the forthcoming general elections. In doing so, INEC ought to remember that the 2019 general elections could have broad national security implications.  The country hangs on the balance and could be tipped over by the credibility or otherwise of the 2019 general elections. Great circumspection is called for.

Nigeria can ill-afford to have an election that is not credible and sufficiently so, not with the increasing calls for national restructuring, broad feeling of marginalization, high youth unemployment, spiraling  restiveness, ascendancy of armed groups, the threat posed by herdsmen killings and the anger generated by the government’s lackluster handling of the crisis, and new alarming level of ethno-religious divisions.

Whereas post-election violence is hardly a new phenomenon in the country, most violent incidences “often tend to be localised, short-lived and restricted to polling centres and communities.”9 Human Rights Watch reported that more than 800 people were killed in three days of rioting in 12 northern states following the April 2011 presidential elections. Experts think the country is once again at the cusp of a major national crisis and that something in the similitude of what obtained in 2011 could trigger a major revolution.

Thankfully, the major political parties, barring a belated volte-face, are looking to nominate their presidential candidates from the Northern parts of the country. That reduces the north-south divide. But experts continue to warn that the level of anger and frustration in the land is such that the nation need not experiment with policies that will become tripwires as wheel as engage in unnecessary brinksmanship ahead of 2019. Were underaged voters to be seen as the swing bloc on which any candidate is elected, it would be a matter of Nigeria, and more specifically INEC failing to make a stitch in time to save nine.

——

Chima is a Research Associate at Selonnes Consult;   Obaze is the MD/CEO Selonnes Consult
References
1. Snopes, “Joseph Stalin: ‘It’s Not the People Who Vote That Count” https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/stalin-vote-count-quote/ Retrieved 14/5/18.

2. The Nation, “Underage voting in Kano” http://thenationonlineng.net/underage-voting-in-kano/ Retrieved 14/5/18.

3. Vanguard, “ALLEGED KANO UNDERAGE VOTERS: Our story, by Yakubu, INEC Chairman” https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/05/alleged-kano-underage-voters-story-yakubu-inec-chairman/ Retrieved 14/5/18

4. Ibid

5. Ibid

6. Ibid

7. Ibid

8. Ibid

9. Prof. Etannibi EO ALEMIKA, “POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA: EMERGING TREND AND LESSONS” http://cleenfoundation.blogspot.com.ng/2011/07/post-election-violence-in-nigeria.html Retrieved 14/5/18

Explaining Kaduna State’s Electronic Voting

Voters in Kaduna State are set to make history as the first electors in Nigeria to use electronic voting. Elections to elect chairmen and councillors for the 23 local government councils in the state are scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, 12 May 2018.

At least ten countries currently use electronic voting, and Kaduna State seems poised to be the first sub-national to adopt it. Tomorrow’s election would make Kaduna State the second place in Africa to use electronic voting, after Namibia.

When voters in the state arrive their polling units, they will not see any ballot paper. After accreditation, they will instead find an electronic voting machine that displays the logos of the political parties participating in the election.

By pressing the logo of their preferred political party, the voter registers a choice that is recorded and acknowledged by the machine. The process is conducive to fast counting of results and it shuts the door to ballot-stuffing.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has explained that the Kaduna State Government opted for electronic voting to promote transparency and electoral integrity. He said democracy benefits when election results reflect the actual choices made by voters.

Dr. Saratu Binta Dikko-Audu, the chairman of the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (SIECOM), and her commissioners proposed that electronic voting machines be procured to guarantee voting integrity, the El-Rufai government obliged.

The leadership of SIECOM also undertook a study visit to Brazil to see how electronic voting works in that country. Following that study trip, SIECOM made a formal presentation to the Kaduna State Executive Council which made a commitment to fund the procurement of the electronic voting machines.

Then appropriate legislation was enacted to support the new system. The Kaduna State Independent Election Commission Law No.2 of 2018, which governs the conduct of local elections, makes provisions for electronic voting.

About 6000 units of the electronic voting machine were bought. Public enlightenment on the machines was done, using public demonstrations and an online video. SIECOM lost 140 of the EVMs to the recent fire in its offices. But the remaining machines are more than sufficient for the 5,101 polling units in the state.

 

Only voters with Permanent Voter’s Card are eligible to vote.

 

Key Features of the Electronic Voting Machine

The Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is lightweight and easy to transport, as no unit weighs more than 10kg. With a battery life of 10-16 hours depending on conditions, it facilitates an automated process that cuts out bank and void votes and ensures quick counting of results.

Each EVM has transparent windows, a touch screen on which political party logos are displayed, and green and red buttons for voters to press to affirm their choice or to cancel. An in-built thermal printer gives each voter a slip to indicate that they have voted.

The Electronic Voting Process

  1. Voter presents PVC to Election Officer
  2. Voter credentials verified from register
  3. Election Officer activates Electronic Voting Machine
  4. Voter selects logo of candidate’s political party by pressing touch screen
  5. Voter verifies or cancels selected party logo
  6. Voter presses OK button to confirm choice.
  7. EVM prints ballot receipt for voter, containing SIECOM logo and other details, including logo and name of party chosen, date and time of vote cast and the serial number of the EVM.

Countries that use Electronic Voting

Kaduna State is joining a select group of polities that practice electronic voting. In fact, Kaduna State is the first sub-national in the world to adopt the system. Countries that use Electronic Voting include:

  • the United States of America
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • Mexico
  • Namibia
  • Philippines

Personnel

  • 13,000 ad-hoc staff have been trained by SIECOM as Presiding and Assistant Presiding Officers
  • Another 13,000 ad-hoc staff would work as poll clerks

All You Need To Know About FG’s $496m Tucano Aircraft Purchase

The Presidency has shared more details about the Federal government’s$496m Tucano helicopter purchase from the United States government.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the withdrawal of $462 million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the procurement of 12 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States government.

Here are 6 things to know about the government’s Tucano helicopter purchase

Summary

Defeating Boko Haram requires sophisticated aircrafts such as the Super Tucano with its capabilities of effectively decimating the insurgent camps in remote areas, as experienced in Colombia against FARC insurgents, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Indonesia  etc.

Capabilities of Super Tucano

  • The plane can carry a wide array of armaments, including precision – guided munitions, and is equipped with advanced avionics communications and remote sensors.

  • It has a maximum speed of 590 km per hour and a flight ceiling of 35,000 feet.

  • The plane is weaponised to carry a wide array of armaments, communication and reconnaissance intelligence gadgets  and is powered by a variant of the world’s most popular turboprop engine the Pratt & Whitney (UTX.N)

  • The Tucanos can be used for training, surveillance and attack.

  • The Tucanos offers the capability to operate from unimproved runways.

  • The Tucanos can fight from the air at less than 304 metres above ground battle.

Equipment to come with the Tucano Jets

  • Ammunitions

  • Group support equipment to be built.

  • Wing-mounted machine guns

  • Laser guided rockets

  • Maintenance infrastructure.

  • Advanced  surveillance precision guide

  • Each Tucano comes with two wing – mounted guns and carry up to 1,550kg pounds of weapons.

  • Hangar facilities and infrastructure

  • Night vision devices

  • Air to air missiles

Leahy Law passed by the US Congress

The law barrs US government from selling American arms to countries’ militaries with a history of human rights abuses.

. The law was used to block the sale of the Cobra helicopters by the Israelis to the Nigerian government in 2014.

Reason for Anticipatory Approval by Mr. President

  • The contract was time bound and it should be noted that that in the past, the US was not willing to sell weapons to Nigeria, now that they are ready to sell, it would be illogical to allow the February dateline lapse.

  • It is important to add that, the transaction was fully transparent as its Government to Government (G2G), the US government has acknowledged the receipt of the said sum and has presented a letter of intent to the Nigerian Airforce.

  • The security situation in the country is of utmost importance.

  • Anticipatory approval is not new in governance. All over the world, it is not odd for the president to apply this is to get crucial things bordering on national security done and then seek for adequate approval.

  • The planes will support Nigerian military operations against against insurgency and other security challenges.

Time Frame and Price

. The unit airframe costs between $10 – $12 m.

. However due logistics packages, weapons, and communications equipment, long-lead spares the unit price jacks up.

. The jets are  be established in the next 36 months, and delivered before the end of 2020.

 

A New Argument For Buhari – TheCable

August last year, I made a post on my Facebook page with the title, ‘The Argument for Buhari’. The post acquired a life of its own with a sizeable number of people sharing on Facebook and circulating via Whatsapp. I later developed it to a full length opinion article for a few online publications. This is a sequel to the earlier article. Now that the President has told Nigerians that he would seek another term in office in the 2019 general elections, I make a new argument for Buhari.

Nigeria has never had a leader with the personal moral credential of President Muhammadu Buhari, I dare say. The current administration came in at a time of very serious economic crisis occasioned by the mismanagement of the country, more by the immediate past administration. Those who caused the damage and their sympathizers would rather have us all live in collective amnesia. They say we should not talk about the past. We should just move on, yet they are the loudest about the present dire consequences of their roguish past behaviors.

By mid-2014, more than 30 states owed salaries of civil servants and by the end of 2014, salary arrears in over 20 states had reached average of 6 months. By May 2015, salary arrears to workers in the states had reached between 7-11 months and to pensioners, between 15-18 months. The economy had collapsed, in part, because of low purchasing power and almost nil disposable income. The economy of all the states, except Lagos, relies heavily on salaries paid to civil servants to drive it and yet, salaries were not being paid. The situation was horrible and very gloomy! FMCG companies had very low sales because consumers could not buy what they were producing. Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Flour Mills, Guinness, other blue chips and multinationals posted very bad results.

The construction industry literally died because of heavy indebtedness by the Federal Government and the States. In 2013/2014, the Federal government gave out construction contracts worth over N200billion without backing it with cash. Where mobilization fees were paid, some of the contractors simply abandoned sites. The country was on a free fall. By the time the Buhari administration resumed in 2015, the Federal Government, according to the Federation of Construction Industry, (FOCI) owed its members N700billion. FOCI is the umbrella association of the construction companies operating in Nigeria. Some of the FOCI members include Julius Berger, Costain West Africa, RCC, Capper D’Alberto, Dantata & Sawoe, Setraco among others. According to FOCI secretariat, most of its members were not paid for contracts executed from 2010. By 2014, many of the construction companies had laid off staff and put many on redundancy, while interest on members’ bank loans kept mounting.

This is where leadership and integrity matter. According to Mrs. Bunmi Adekoje, Director General, FOCI, few months into the Buhari administration, some member-companies lobbied the Presidency to alert President Buhari’s attention on the plight of the construction sector. To the surprise of those who came to see him, the President asked about FOCI. He directed the lobbyists to come under FOCI to present their case. The lobbyists were shocked that President Buhari even knew about FOCI. He reportedly told his visitors that in 1984, as Military Head of State, he commissioned the FOCI Secretariat Complex, Construction House at Adeyemo Alakija, Victoria Island, Lagos.  That is Buhari, a man of process.

The Board and Management of FOCI later met with the President where they presented their prayers. The President directed the Ministers of Finance and that of Works, Power & Housing to sit with FOCI and find a solution. After a reconciliation of figures, the Federal Government paid N300billion with an agreement to issue government Bond/Promissory Note of N300billion to cover the balance. FOCI member companies were shocked that such was possible in Nigeria without anyone demanding a cut. But that was the case, to their surprise. With the intervention by the President and the payment made, over 100,000 of the sacked and redundant construction workers have been called back to work at various project sites across the country by FOCI member companies.

In dealing with inherited problems that are distorting the economy, the Federal Executive Council in July 2017 approved N2.7trillion for the payment of Federal Government debts to local contractors, pensioners and oil marketers, including workers salary/promotion arrears which government had owed for the past 20years.  After confirmation of figures by the Government Verification Committee, the beneficiaries are to be settled through the issuance of 10-year tenure Liquid Promissory Notes, phased over a three-year period, to minimize the impact on liquidity. Preference will be given to those willing to offer FG the largest discounts.

Ministers, Presidential aides and private sector leaders including Aliko Dangote have publicly said that President Buhari is the only Nigerian leader nobody can discuss any shady deal with. Nobody can even dare. He is ramrod straight. I found it no surprise when I heard from Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, that President Buhari has not once given anybody a note to any Ministry or Agency to influence a job or contract in his/her favour. He allows his appointees to do their job. His recurring question after every session with his appointees is, if what they are doing is in the best interest of the country. For him, all that matters is the interest of Nigeria.

The level of decorum and decency the immediate family of President Buhari has displayed since he got into office is worthy of note. This is a reflection of the character and spartan life of the man Buhari.  Being a President’s wife and children come with some rights and privileges anywhere in the world. In our kind of environment, it comes with right to dispense patronages and even commandeer state resources, but not with this President. We frequently have reports from the EFCC of millions of dollars in the bank accounts of a former President’s wife and those of his relations. To Buhari’s credit, in almost 3 years in office, there had been no scandal or allegations of bad behavior against members of his family.

While the economy is still struggling to gather steam, coming from a very hard-biting recession, real business people have acknowledged that the business environment is now more open and competitive.  Sometimes last year, an elderly friend told me of a meeting he had with two top CEOs in the country. He told me that the consensus among the three of them was that if there is any good thing the Buhari leadership has done for the country, it is the fact that the administration has brought some sanity into the business and political space.

The fact that the rent-seeking-billionaires and the so-called corporate raiders no longer have Aso Rock as their playground is a major achievement, according to my senior friend. The culture of vested interests creating fiefdoms within the economic space while competing for photo opportunity for Newspaper front pages, in subtle bully of competitors in ‘I-am-closer-to-the-president-than-you are’ ego trip, a common feature with previous Presidents, has disappeared with President Buhari.

At a social function not too long ago, my friend, a senior level manager at one of the top telecommunication firms told those of us on the same table with him that there is change in Nigeria. When I asked him why he said so, he told us that his boss, a well-known Billionaire, told his management team more than two years ago to ensure compliance with regulatory issues and tax matters, because there is no President in Aso Rock to call or run to. If people who yesterday felt they were the law are now afraid to go against the law because there is no ‘padi-padi’ President, then we are making good progress. President Buhari is changing the way government business is conducted and how leaders should conduct themselves in public office. In a country with a pervasive culture of corruption and impunity, where people exhibit worst behavior as gold standard, it will not be easy to demolish decades of entrenched waywardness.

In an address delivered at the Vanguard Newspaper Award, with the title, ‘Nigeria-How to Win’, Mr. Bode Agusto identified what Nigeria must do to engender a politically and economically viable polity. At the core of his presentation are reforms that should be happening already. Only an incorruptible leader can lead reforms that will deliver on the expected outcomes. The Obasanjo administration was credited with key reforms in pension, banking, civil service and National Health Insurance. Power sector reform started with Obasanjo’s regime and partially concluded with the privatisation of power distribution and generation under the Jonathan administration. But corruption undermined the reforms and the people of Nigeria have had to deal with the short end of the stick. When drivers of reforms rigged the process in favour of special business interests, the outcome is disaster like we already have with power.

Power distribution and generation were farmed out to companies that had neither the technical know-how nor the financial strength to run them. A former Minister of National Planning, sometime back, revealed in a press interview that the senior officials of the last administration, including him, are the people behind the Discos and Gencos. Those who are supposed to bring money to invest and improve power generation and distribution have been bailed out with N300 billion tax payers’ money. That is how corruption impairs and stunts progress. President Buhari will not superintend over a process that will gift out national assets to dubious investors.

We have read of former Presidents whose sprawling mansions were gifted by construction companies. One abused his office to raise over N10billion in donations from private companies doing business with government and government agencies, to build a Presidential Library and Resort. Nigeria can not win as envisaged by Mr. Agusto, when institutions, systems and processes that should be the springboard for the reforms are serially compromised and abused.

While President Buhari has instituted a new paradigm and leadership template that should be built on and sustained into the future, he can be comforted that he is building an army of believers who have already bought into his vision of public service where self-interest will no longer be an overarching and directive principles of governance. I strongly believe Nigeria needs him for 4 more years with his steady and unblemished hands.

FLASHBACK: “The Trouble With Our Youths Is That They Sleep Too Much” Late OBAFEMI AWOLOWO’s Speech In 1974

“We are all gathered here this morning to witness the launching of Gani Fawehinmi’s new book People’s Right To Free Education At All Levels.
It is not my place to review this book: this is a task reserved for literary critics, one of whom I am not. But after a careful study of the book, I feel able to say, in all seriousness and truth, that PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO FREE EDUCATION AT ALL LEVELS is not only extremely readable and instructive, but also a very timely and telling contribution to a long-drawn debate on a great national and ideological issue which now appears to be approaching the happy climax of unanimous acceptability.

I strongly commend this book to every Nigerian, indeed to anyone m the so-called under-developed countries, who wants to take part in the debate on, or who merely desires to educate himself as to, why education at all levels should be free to all.

The author, Mr. Gani Fawehinmi deserves to be warmly congratulated for the industry and diligence which he has put into researching for and writing this valuable book.

As is well-known, Gani is a brilliant and busy advocate as well as a jurist of growing reputation. That he is able to MAKE THE TIME, I repeat MAKE THE TIME, in the midst of his exacting and crowded professional activities, to write a scholarly and thoughtful book like this, should be an object lesson to all those young people who work for only about 8 hours a day, and still complain of lack of time to devote to study and creative sidelines.
Says Napoleon: ‘Three hours’ sleep is enough for any man’.

The trouble with many of our youths is that they sleep too much; play too much; and indulge too much in idle chatter and gossip.

In is connection, my advice to every educated young Nigerian is that he should take each day as a sacred unit which must not be misused or dissipated, and see to it that, out of the 24 hours available to him, he spends at least 8 concentrated hours on work, plus at least 8 hours in serious study, creative leisure and self-development. Eight hours are enough for feeding, relaxation, and sleep.

On an occasion like this, when the platform is People’s Right To Free Education At All Levels it is appropriate to say a few words on some of the weightier aspens of the Compulsory Universal Primary Education which the Federal Military Government has decided to introduce in the near future.

The inalienability of free education as a fundamental human right, and the economic, political, and other advantages which are accruable from education for all our citizens have been fully and competently dealt with by Gani. I do not, therefore, want to take any of your time to restate these points.

But there are three important aspects of this matter which I would like to take this opportunity to stress.
The first is that, whatever may be our beliefs, predilections or ideological orientation in the matter, once we accept Compulsory Universal Primary Education as a necessary national policy and are desirous of raising the standard and quality of teachers and teaching in all our primary schools, we must, as wise and practical people, realise that free education at the other two levels (that is, secondary and post-secondary levels) ipso facto becomes an inevitable and indispensable prerequisite of the successful launching and operation of the CUPE.

In this connection, having regard to the experience acquired from elsewhere and, in particular, from the preparations for and operation of free primary education in the Western State during the past 20 years; and, in any case having regard to the need to raise the quality of teachers and the standard of instruction in all our primary schools, I am assuming, among other things, (i) that only teachers not below Grade II would be allowed to teach, in future, in all our primary schools; (ii) that candidates for a two-year teacher training course would only be those who have already gone through a Secondary Grammar or Secondary Technical course and have passed the School Certificate Examinations; (iii) That about 60,000 additional teachers (that is double our present rate of annual output of teachers and three times the number of annual passes in the West African School Certificate Examinations) of the requisite qualifications would be required on the introduction of the CUPE scheme; (iv) that the headmasters of every primary school would be a university graduate in education, or holder of National Certificate of Education; and (v) that, to ensure, as much as possible, a uniform quality among the products of all our Secondary Schools and Teacher Training Colleges, only university graduates in education, or holders of National Certificate of Education will be allowed to teach in any of our Secondary Grammar and Secondary Technical Schools, and Teacher Training Colleges, throughout the country.

If Nigeria sincerely intends, firmly and consistently, to tread the path of economic development, it must seek deliberately to reduce the number of people working in the agricultural sector as well as modernise the means and improve the terms of employment in this sector; it must also, simultaneously, provide sufficient employment of the opportunities in the manufacturing and services sectors for the labour force displaced from the farms; and, in order to ensure efficient performances in all the sectors of the economy, it must also educate and train the reduced labour force in the primary sector as well as the released labour force which is being absorbed into the secondary and tertiary sectors.

All these can only be done by embarking on Free Education at all levels NOW.

We have told ourselves, again and again, that we are a people in a hurry. Indeed we are. And, thank goodness, that we have the manpower and natural resources to accomplish, in the economic-development race, such shining records as have been set by Japan and the USSR.

In other words, it is within our power to transform this dear land of ours into a developed country within the next twenty-five years at the most.
However, we must not be deceived. Unless we introduce free education at all levels NOW, this great objective would elude us: The majority of our people would, in spite of our oil boom, continue to wallow in abject peasantry and poverty; and, at the turn of the century, we would probably still be numbered among the most poverty-stricken of the under- developed nations of the world.

Full text of the address delivered by Chief Obafemi Awolowo at the launching ceremony of Mr. Gani Fawehinmi’s new book, entitled ‘People’s Right To Free Education At All Levels’, which took place at Ondo Town Hall on Saturday, 27thJuly, 1974, at 11.00 a.m.

Meet Tope Ogunsemo @TMOgunsemo – The 33 Year-Old Nigerian Entrepreneur Who Built A N1 Billion Tech Company

Young Nigerians all over the world are symbols of excellence, creativity, ingenuity, and resilience. The global media is filled with stories of young Nigerians breaking boundaries to thrive in their chosen endeavours, be it business, sports, entertainment, governance etc. Even then every once in a while, there is a shooting star that stands out from the league of champions. Case in point is Tope Ogunsemo.

Tope Ogunsemo is a 33-year old Nigerian entrepreneur and founder of Krystal Digital, one of the leading IT Companies in Nigeria with annual revenues of more than N1 billion. Tope Ogunsemo is an alumnus of Kings College, Lagos. He attended the prestigious University of Ibadan and also went ahead to obtain a Master of Science degree in Information Management Systems from the University of Salford, United Kingdom.

Tope Ogunsemo answered his lifelong call of entrepreneurship in 2010 when he and a group of consultants founded the company Krystal Digital, a fast-growing educational technology company that specializes in the creation, development and deployment of customized and service-oriented software applications for educational institutions in Nigeria. Today the company has over 150 employees and posts annual revenue in excess of $3 million.

One of such applications developed by Tope Ogunsemo’s company, MySkool Portal, is a School Information Management System that has been adopted by more than 50 government-owned high schools in Nigeria and has more than 65,000 active student users. The idea behind MySkool was inspired by the difficulties and frustration Tope experienced in his attempts to secure his academic transcript.

That encapsulates the man that Tope Ogunsemo is, a young Nigerian who sees beyond the problems and creates solutions that will in turn benefit thousands and millions of people. Recently Tope Ogunsemo through his company invested up to $1 million in building digital IT academies across various secondary schools across Nigeria, and working in partnership with Microsoft to teach Nigerian students Microsoft Professional Program courses.

Tope Ogunsemo’s feats in entrepreneurship and technology have not gone unnoticed by the international professional bodies and the global media. He has won several awards for his contributions to the development of education and ICT in Nigeria. Last week he was featured in Forbes magazine as one of Nigeria’s most successful young entrepreneurs.

Last year the ECOWAS Youth Council presented Tope Ogunsemo with the Thomas Sankara Leadership Award as the 2017 West African Personality of the Year. At the 2017 Nigeria Technology Awards, Tope Ogunsemo’s Krystal Digital won the award for the School Management Portal Developer of the Year while the company’s flagship software solution, MySkool Portal, was awarded the School Management Software of the Year. The company also won the 2018 African Corporate Leadership Excellence Prize and well as the ICT Leadership Excellence Prize.

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