Time Is Running Out For Nigerian Companies To Get Their Tax Houses In Order

Companies should respond by putting in place systems and processes that enable them to report accurately on revenue and expenses and to streamline tax submissions

With Nigerian tax authorities under pressure to find new sources of revenue, companies that do not yet comply with tax regulations must work fast to get their books in order and pay their tax dues.

That’s according to Magnus Nmonwu (Twitter.com/MNmonwu), Regional Director for Sage in West Africa, who says federal and state tax authorities are taking a hard line towards non-compliance as they race to bring in new tax revenues to compensate for falling oil revenues. Companies should respond by putting in place systems and processes that enable them to report accurately on revenue and expenses and to streamline tax submissions.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) recently said it has been able to add 700,000 companies to the tax base by deploying inspectors armed with notebooks to register businesses and individuals. These companies are then audited to check whether they have paid their taxes. The FIRS has also approved a 45-day tax waiver window on penalty and interest accruing from outstanding tax liabilities for the period, 2013 to 2015.

Those businesses that have not complied to date may benefit from this waiver to get their affairs in order. This means companies would only need to pay the principle amount of tax they owe, which could save them a substantial amount of money.

However, those that don’t comply are bound to face stiff penalties, including fines, punitive interest, and possible criminal prosecution of CEOs and board members, and closure of their offices. “To take advantage of this golden opportunity, many companies will need to put in place systems and processes that enable them to get better visibility into their finances at a fast pace,” says Nmonwu.

Zero tolerance

Nmonwu says that the tough tone from Nigeria’s tax authorities shows that companies can no longer risk non-payment of tax or incorrect remittances of taxes to the relevant government agencies, whether the reason is deliberate evasion or an accidental oversight.

One of the most common reasons for non-compliance is that many organisations don’t have automated systems for accurate recordkeeping, precise calculations and deductions, and preparation and submissions of necessary statutory returns, he adds.

Some examples of employee-related tax obligations Nigerian companies face include the following:

  • Filing annual returns of all remuneration paid to their employees and taxes deducted and remitted to the tax authorities on or before 31 January of every year. Failure to do so carries a maximum penalty of N500, 000 for the employer and N50, 000 for individuals.
  • Remittance of Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) tax each month for each employee to the relevant state internal revenue services, on or before the 10th day of the following month.
  • Contributions of 10% and 8%, respectively, of their employees’ monthly remuneration to Nigeria’s contributory Pension Scheme.
  • Statutory payments, such as the Employee Compensation Scheme (formerly known as the Workmen’s Compensation Act), Development Levy, National Housing Fund and  Industrial Training Fund.

Automated solutions make it easy to comply

Against the backdrop of growing regulatory complexity, organisations need to realise that spreadsheets and other manual methods are no longer sufficient to meet their needs. Companies must instead implement solutions that streamline capturing of transactions, automate payroll calculations, processes and put visibility of the business in the hands of managers to enable them comply easily.

Such solutions also make it simpler to keep track of annual changes to tax regulations that impact on payroll tax calculations and various changes in legislation, says Nmonwu. These solutions help organisations to manage other challenges such as reducing the risk of internal fraud and getting better insight into business performance.

What’s more, the ability to generate tax certificates, reports and electronic payslips with the click of a button is a major timesaver. Nmonwu says that Nigeria’s federal and state governments are eager to expand their tax bases, and are investing heavily in modernising and streamlining tax administration.

This will help address some of the complexity Nigerian businesses face in paying tax. Nigeria aims to move from its current position of 181 out of 189 countries to top 50 on the Ease of Paying Taxes World Report which means that we will see a lot of reform of the tax system in the years to come, says Nmonwu.

“Today’s technology gives Nigerian companies the power to control their businesses from the palm of their hand. We connect our customers to accountants and partners with real-time and intuitive information about their business,” he adds. “Using technology streamlines compliance so companies can focus on their core business operations.”

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Names Of Top Nigerian Judges Under Investigation Revealed

By SaharaReporters

SaharaReporters has obtained a full list of top Nigerian judges under investigation by security agencies across the country. The list is contained in a confidential memo forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari on a recent dramatic move by agents of the Department of State Security (DSS) against judges accused of accepting bribes as well as other acts of corruption.

A week ago, agents of the Department of State Security (DSS) embarked on an unprecedented raid of homes of numerous judges, arresting several of them, including two Supreme Court justices directly linked with alleged electoral judgment fraud in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.

The judges named in a confidential list sent to President Muhammadu Buhari include Justices Nwali Sylvester Ngwuta and John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court, Justice  Muhammad Ladan Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Uwani Abba-Aji of the Court of Appeal, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal high Court, Justice Kabir Auta of the Kano State High Court, Justice Munir Ladan of the Kaduna State High Court, Justice Bashir Sukola of the Kaduna State High Court, and Justice Mu’azu Pindiga of Gombe State High Court.

Other high profile judges named in the confidential memo include Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the current President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ibrahim Auta, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba and Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court.

The memo accused Justice Chikere of receiving cash for a pre-election matter that came before her. Justice Chikere is married to Kenneth Anayo Chikere, a chieftain the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State and a former member of the House of Representatives. According to the source of the memo, Mr. Chikere acted as go-between to funnel significant amounts of cash to his wife who then proceeded to give favorable judgments to those who offered the cash.

The memo alleged that Justice Kabiru Auta collected bribes from a businessman named “Alhaji Kabiru SKY.” The bribe scandal led the National Judicial Council (NJC) to suspend the judge, but the council later recalled the judge, claiming there was not sufficient evidence that he auctioned verdicts from the bench.

Justice Abdul Kafarati has a litany of corruption allegations against him, even though he is due to become the new Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) allegedly found more than N2 billion in the judge’s bank account. The judge reportedly claimed he had earned the funds from his farming business in Yobe State. Recently, Justice Kafarati granted a N26 billion verdict in favor of Capital Oil CEO, Ifeanyi Uba, against the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). Mr. Uba was the biggest debtor to AMCON. The memo stated that Justice Kafarati has a favorite lawyer, Prince Ajibola Oluyede, who funnels bribes to him to grant illegal orders and pay-to-play judgments.

Justice Yunusa also faces several allegations of corruption. The memo cited evidence that he took N5 million bribe from a senior lawyer, Rickey Tarfa. Justice Yunusa is also accused of disregarding case precedents set by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Justice Pindiga of the Gombe State High Court was thrust into national prominence on account of his involvement in the Rivers State election petition fraud. He reportedly received N100 million from Governor Nyeson Wike of Rivers State to influence a tribunal ruling in the governor’s favor. The judge was subsequently removed as the head of the tribunal, but he reportedly bought several cars and built houses from the proceeds of his alleged corruption.

Justices Munir Ladan and Bashir Suokla of the Kaduna High Court were recommended for arrest and prosecution based on several petitions alleging that they receive bribes in exchange for verdicts. Some lawyers reportedly characterized the two judges as “cash-and-carry” judges.

Some of the most extensive allegations in the memo pertain to Justice Adeniyi Ademola. In one instance, the judge allegedly accepted a $200k bribe to discharge a garnishee order against the Delta State House of Assembly. He was also accused of using his position as a judge to get his wife appointed to the position of Head of Service in Lagos State because of shady dealings with Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In 2010, the Cross Rivers State command of the DSS determined that Justice Ademola had accepted a bribe from some members of the “Peace Corps of Nigeria” and oil bunkerers under prosecution.

Justice Ademola was arrested last weekend and allegedly found to be in possession of $550k, part of which he reportedly claimed belonged to Justice Auta, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. Justice Ademola was also allegedly found with two unlicensed Pump Action Rifles in his Abuja home.

The judge has asserted that his ordeal was because he once tried current Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for professional  misconduct when he was a judge in Kaduna. He has accused Mr. Malami of being behind his harassment, adding that the raid on his residence was a part of a retaliation plot by the AGF. The judge did not, however, deny the fact that he was found with huge cash at home.

Justice Ibrahim Auta of the Federal High Court faces several allegations of misconduct, according to the memo obtained by SaharaReporters. The accusations against him include accepting bribes in order to assign “lucrative” cases to certain corruption judges who give him kickbacks. Numerous real estate assets have been traced to him. In addition, law enforcement agents allege that he once accepted N500,000 from Mr. Rickey Tarfa.

Justice Tsamiya of the Court of Appeal is accused of demanding N200 million from an interested party in a case before his court. He was arrested last week after the NJC determined that he was guilty of demanding for bribes.

Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, president of the Court of Appeal, is named in the memo where she is described as incurably corrupt and stupendously wealthy. Even though agents found that Justice Bulkachuwa abstained from taking bribes in the Rivers State election case, she is accused of engaging in bribery and taking kickbacks from judges to which she assigned “lucrative” cases.

Justice Abba Aji reportedly received N8 million from Mr. Tarfa. SaharaReporters learned that she was dropped from the list of judges recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court on account of her implication in the Tarfa bribe scandal.

In addition, Justice Bulkachuwa is alleged to have taken bribes from former Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom and Governor Patrick Okowa of Delta State in order to facilitate favorable judgment in election petitions.

The two justices of the Supreme Court, Ngwuta and Okoro, allegedly received significant bribes from Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. Security agents allege that Mr. Wike gave the two judges N5 billion to ensure that other Supreme Court justices ruled in the governor’s favor in a final election petition at the Supreme Court.

SaharaReporters had earlier reported that Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court played a role in the Wike case. Justice Odili reportedly wept in front of her colleagues, claiming that her husband, former Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State, would die prematurely if Mr. Wike’s election was not upheld. Justice Odili reportedly coordinated the bribe scheme with Justice Ngwuta, who allegedly took delivery of some of the bribe in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Justice Walter Onnoghen, the nominee for the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, is alleged to have taken part in the Wike bribe scandal. However, security agents decided not to go after him, telling President Buhari that the backlash would be intense if Justicd Onnoghen, a southerner, were bypassed for CJN in favor of a northerner.

Justices Ngwuta and Okoro were also named in the case of Akwa Ibom where the governor is alleged to have disbursed a huge amount of money to bribe Supreme Court justices to secure a favorable ruling. A senior lawyer, Damian Dodo (SAN) reportedly facilitated the deal using a female in his chambers whose name was given as “Kauma”. The Akwa Ibom governor paid the highest bribe to the Supreme Court justices.

Both justices were among judges arrested last week in late night raids carried out by the DSS. Security agents claimed that Justices Ngwuta and Okoro were found with stashes of foreign currency at their homes. Both justices have since been released.

Other judges mentioned in the memo include Justices I. A. Umezulike, who two weeks ago was retired by the NJC, Ibrahim Buba, Rita Ajumogobia and an unnamed judge of the Lagos State High Court.

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How Nigerian Troops Almost Bungled Release Of Chibok Girls

By SaharaReporters

Inter-agency squabbles and a jostling for superiority by the Nigerian army nearly marred the release of 21 Chibok schoolgirls on Thursday, according to tips provided by sources knowledgeable about the complex operation.

One of the sources told SaharaReporters that agents of the Department of State Security (DSS) had concluded the negotiation with Boko Haram fighters to release the first batch of Chibok girl kidnapped by the insurgent Islamist sect in April 2014 and were invited to pick the girls inside Sambisa Forest when the Nigerian Army was contacted to provide cover. Only a few military generals were aware of the entire operation because they coordinated with the DSS to visit Sambisa Forest in the middle of the night. Boko Haram had stipulated that no soldiers could accompany the DSS team that would recover the 21 abducted girls.

However, to be on the safe side, the Nigerian government asked that some well-armed soldiers accompany the DSS officers and some negotiators from the Switzerland government just to be on the safe side.

As planned, and using satellite telephone from the Abuja command center, the DSS officers traveled several miles deep into Sambisa Forest and met with one of the top Boko Haram leaders who brought the 21 girls.

SaharaReporters learned that the negotiations, which called for the government team to drop an undisclosed amount of money, was going well until the Nigerian soldiers in the contingent fired a volley of artillery fire in an apparent effort to claim that they rescued the girls.

The Boko Haram leader involved in the exchange of the abducted girls pleaded with the DSS negotiators to ask the soldiers to stop shooting. Once the soldiers stopped firing, the Boko Haram leader asked the Nigerian contingent to switch on their full headlights. When the lights were turned on, the Boko Haram leader who had come with the girls asked the DSS team to look to their right. The DSS team was stunned to see at least 150 well-armed Boko Haram fighters hidden in the nearby bush ready to strike.

The Boko Haram team then warned the DSS negotiators that they came prepared to die, adding that they suspected that the government team would arrive with the Nigerian army despite the insurgent group’s warning that they did not wish to deal with the army at all.

With nerves calmed, the DSS then dropped the ransom money and took the 21 girls and a baby boy born by one of them and traveled several kilometers to Banki near Cameroon where they put the released girls on a military aircraft.

Our sources disclosed that most military generals did not know about the entire operation. That explained why, after SaharaReporters broke the story of the release of the girls, spokespersons to the Nigerian army at first said it was not true. In a later response, the army told reporters to take whatever came from the Presidency as the update on the condition of Chibok girls.

Another source told our correspondent that the only girl among the rescued girls who is a mother had apparently got pregnant before she was kidnapped in 2014. She later bore a son named Buka Amos.

A Chibok community leader, Zannah Lang confirmed to SaharaReporters that Deborah Ja’afaru had just got married and pregnant when she was kidnapped by Boko Haram fighters in 2014. She delivered her baby boy in custody of Boko Haram until her release on Thursday.

The 21 girls remain under intense medical care at the DSS clinic in Abuja and their parents as expected to meet them on Saturday.

SaharaReporters source said they expect to enter into the next phase of the negotiation with Boko Haram, which would involve the exchange of high profile Boko Haram prisoners.

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Why DSS Arrested Me – Justice Ademola

One week after thier controversial arrest, one of the Judges picked up by the Department of State Security Service (DSS), Justice Adeniyi Ademola has opened up on the reason for his arrest.

Justice Ademola, who is a judge of the federal high court Abujain Abuja said he was arrested because he granted bail former Narional Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki bail as well as the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnmadi Kanu.

His claims were contained in a letter dated October 11, addressed to Mahmoud Mohammed, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN),

According to him, he was held for over 24 hours before he was told the reason why he was brought to the DSS office.

“…Upon signing the document, they told me that I am under arrest and ordered me with guns still pointed at me to move outside. As I was going, they told me they were taking me to their office, Department of State Services (DSS) office, without showing any warrant of arrest,” the letter read.

“I obeyed them and about six o’clock in the morning, I was whisked away from my residence to the DSS office without any warrant of arrest or reason for my arrest.

“From the time of my arrival at the DSS office, at about 6:45am on 8/10/2016, I was not told what my crime was for over 24 hours till the evening of 9/10/2016.

“A DSS officially finally informed me that the search of my arrest were based on these three allegations; petition of Hon. Jenkins Duvie dated 4th of April 2016 to the National Judicial Council (NJC); granting bail to Col. Sambo Dasuki and the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu; and using my office to secure my wife’s appointment as the head of civil service state through Senator Bola Tinubu.”

Ademola said he saw his arrest as revenge from Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), whose arrest and detention he ordered over a professional misconduct while he was judge in Kano between 2004 and 2008.

“What is more intriguing in this whole episode, is that I see it as a vendetta/revenge from the Hon. attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, whilst I was in Kano between 2004 and 2007 as a federal high court judge was involved in a professional misconduct necessitating his arrest and detention by my order,” he said.

“However, with the intervention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Kano branch the allegation of misconduct was later withdrawn by me.”

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Glo Campus Storm Returns To Nigerian Universities

Telecommunications company, Globacom, has concluded arrangements to return its Campus Storm to the nation’s tertiary institutions as another season of its Campus Storm concert begins this Friday.

Announcing the commencement of the music show in a statement in Lagos on Thursday, Globacom disclosed that, for the next 24 weeks, several tertiary institutions across the country would be treated to world class entertainment and fun as 17 of the country’s best artistes including Wizkid, Flavour, Timaya, MI, Omawumi, Reekado Banks, Korede Bello, Di’Ja, Runtown, Basketmouth, Bovi and Gordons have been shortlisted to entertain our teeming youths in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

“We have the pleasure of announcing that our rave youth concert, the Glo Campus Storm, will be hitting tertiary institutions across the country beginning with the University of Port Harcourt, which will host the maiden edition of the 24-week show on Friday, October 14,” Globacom said.

The statement said that apart from providing entertainment, Glo will also “be using the Glo Campus Storm to reward and empower Nigerian students as 240 of them, 10 from each institution, comprising five males and five females, will become campus ambassadors of the Glo brand across the 24 campuses.”

Globacom added that “The 10 winners in each campus will receive up to N100,000 each, with all the 240 winners vying for the ‘Glo Data Dude’ and ‘Glo Data Diva’ coveted crowns at the grand finale.

“The two top winners in each category (male and female) will each have the chance of winning N1 million in scholarships in addition to being signed on as Glo Brand Ambassadors.

“They will also get special invitations to all Globacom organised events and shows such as the Glo-CAF Awards, Glo Lafta Fest and Glo Slide ‘n’ Bounce concerts,” the statement added.

For the University of Port Harcourt edition of the show, Globacom listed the artistes that will perform to include Timaya, MI and Nigeria’s youngest hip hop sensation, Runtown.

Popular comedian, Gordons, will anchor the show, while the most prolific female Disc Jockey, DJ Lambo, will take charge of the jukebox.

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No Nigerian Bank Is In crisis – CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has said that the Nigerian banks have very strong capital buffers to weather the country’s economic crisis.

Director of Banking Supervision, CBN, Tokunbo Martins, said this at a press conference after a meeting with the heads of the country’s banks. He also assured that supply of foreign exchange for manufacturers will be improved.

Nigeria, which has Africa’s biggest economy, is in recession as a slump in vital oil revenues has hammered public finances and the currency, driving up the prices of imported goods.

The clarification became necessary after a report by a Dubai-based international investment bank, Arqaam Capital, indicated that seven Nigerian banks are undercapitalised to the tune of N1tn ($3.2bn). It also reported that two other banks were close to being insolvent.

The investment bank said the Nigeria’s banking industry “is experiencing a full-blown financial crisis” as failed fiscal and monetary policies had led to a credit crunch.

The stress test identified the undercapitalised banks as First Bank of Nigeria, Unity Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, FCMB Group Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.

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PHOTOS: Handing Over Of Two Presidential Helicopters To Nigerian Airforce

The Federal Government on Monday handed over two helicopters from the presidential fleet to the Nigerian Airforce.

The handing over ceremony took place at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Below are more photos below:

FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS 4. L-R;  Signing the handover doc; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, Minister of Defence, Brig General Mansur Dan-Ali and NSA, Major General Babagana Mongonu as two Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016.
FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS 4. L-R; Signing the handover doc; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, Minister of Defence, Brig General Mansur Dan-Ali and NSA, Major General Babagana Mongonu as two Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016.
FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS 2. Minister of Defence, Brig General Mansur Dan-Ali (M) flanked by service Chiefs as two Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016.
FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS 2. Minister of Defence, Brig General Mansur Dan-Ali (M) flanked by service Chiefs as two Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016.
FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS 3. L-R;   handover doc; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, Minister of Defence, Brig General Mansur Dan-Ali and NSA, Major General Babagana Mongonu as two Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016.
FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS 3. L-R; handover doc; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, Minister of Defence, Brig General Mansur Dan-Ali and NSA, Major General Babagana Mongonu as two Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016.
FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS . Ttwo Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016
FGN DONATES TWO PRESIDENTIAL HELICOPTERS . Ttwo Presidential Helicopters been handed over to the Nigerian Airforce at the Presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 10 2016
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Gate Keeping In The Nigerian Media By Olalekan Ibrahim

McQuail (2005) says that the term “gatekeeping” has been widely used as a metaphor to describe the process by which selections are made in media work, especially decisions regarding whether or not to allow a particular news report to pass through the “gate” of a medium into the news channels and finally to the general public.

In Nigeria today, many news organisation attempting to be first to break the news have neglected the insight of journalism and embraced professional weakness by opening the gate of their platform to conflicts and half-truths.

The best way to deal with a problem is first to understand the issues involved. It appears to me that many self-acclaimed editors – in common with many Nigerian bloggers – do not understand the basic practice of journalism, yet jump on the noble profession to acquire fame and money, since the media now appears to aim for the highest bidder.

A critical and comprehensive review of news content emanating from so many media organisations reveals the media rather than deal with “causes”, addresses the “symptoms”. If one attempts to address this in the newsroom, you are tagged the black sheep of the organisation and become enemy of the medium.

The weakness of the media has made it difficult for men and women in the noble profession to contribute to insight and national reform. Are we even considered when important decisions are to be taken, other than to report the activity and fight for the “brown envelope” after the end of the activity? What of news editors who often ask for their share from the reporter after returning from an assignment?

How then does one expect media practitioners to keep the gate open to professional integrity, ethics and code of conduct, social responsibilities as well as constitutional requirements?

It is currently perceived that many people in Nigeria do not take our media content serious. They point to faulty and misleading headlines from news organisations that are attempts to get wide readership and market that as they solicit for advertising.

Media practitioners have turned away from their duty to report stories as they celebrate frivolities and give voice to irrelevant factors in the society. We can’t excuse ourselves from the fact that there are stories everywhere and our job as journalists is to ask questions and think anew.

The media profession is focused on issues that benefit the general public and uphold fairness, justice, national unity, and international co-operation. Journalism plays an important role in civil society by shining light on wrong doing and exposing societal ills. Media professionals must produce content that will attract leadership and strengthen institutions. It is when we doing this that we can justly fight for privileges and earn respect by our achievements and contribution to national discuss.

Credible news editors should imbibe the culture of “Individual Press Self-Determinism” (Akinfeleye 2001) by reviewing the amount, direction and intensity of the flow of a media content. Media practitioners should refrain from promoting conflicts, ethnic divide, and tribal hate among citizens of the country. Gate keepers who are mostly reporters, editors, the line-editors and others must apply the contemporary standards of the noble profession.

Nigerian media must make itself relevant to the Nigerian society by applying the concept of gate-keeping, which involves multiple review of news selection and production.

Reach me on Twitter @lekanpaul

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Nigerian Dance Group Emerges Best Team At Korean Pop Festival, Wins $7000 Prize

The `Supreme Task’ dance crew from Nigeria has won 7,000 dollars best prize in performance category at the 2016 Korean POP (K-POP) World Festival held at Chanhwon Sport Park, South Korea.

The information is contained in a statement issued by Mr Han Sungrae, the Director of Korean Cultural Centre, made available on Thursday in Abuja.

Sungrae stated that the event had a total of 15 finalists from different countries such as Nigeria, Nepal, Russia, Malaysia, Mexico and the U.S.

Others were Vietnam, Sweden, Israel, Italy, India, Indonesia, Japan, China, and Hungary

“80 contesting teams from 65 different countries had earlier participated in the preliminaries, categorised into Performance and Vocal and Nigerian team beat other contestants in the performance category.

“The Supreme Task Dance crew performed a Korean song `Fire’ by TBS in the presence of about 20,000 people to emerge the best team in the performance category.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this was the second year consecutively that the Nigerian team would be participating in the K-Pop World Festival in Korea.

In last year’s edition, “Pacific Stars’ team from Nigeria won the overall best team of the Festival and became the first African team to do so in the six-year history of the festival.

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Voice Of A Nigerian Female, By Najiba Muhammad Mu’azu. 

Western civilization, which has crept into the Nigerian culture has given womanhood a new shade. Women are mentally being forced to be objects rather than subjects and are being oppressed by being subjected to conform with the modern standards of beauty and sexuality. Unless a woman defines her body and presents it to the world, she will be accorded little or no recognition at all. People often times regard modest women as being out of fashion or religious extremist.

Modesty has become very expensive. Clothing the body is supposed to be a growth in civilisation as the early humans did not cover their body. Decency was born out of the evolution of the human race. Women are being described by the figure of their body rather than being awarded recognition for their personality, dignity and for their capabilities for making an impact for the Betterment of the society.

Today a woman that is shown on music videos posing half naked or one who models for nude magazines is known more than one who is making a change in the society. Our sisters at tender age are having their minds polluted by undear advertisement of nudity. Hardly do you turn on the T.V or tune in the radio and listen to a female intellectual giant speak. Men have been accorded the juicy spotlight while women are left to be puppets or sex machines for men that lack chivalry or, are used for soap operas.

The voice of the African lady is muted especially the Nigerian girl-child. Our girls have myriad potentials that are not being tapped. They need to be put into the system or at least, shown the path to decency. ‘Girl-child education’ has become a cliché since after acquiring the knowledge she’s not given the chance to showcase her talents.

Women should open their eyes and discover their worth. They should not let people delude them and force them to shirk their obligations.

We need girl-child empowerment. T.V shows, radio talks and also school-to-school talks should be organised and put in place to draw the minds of the females in this country that they have a place to surface their talents.

We also make part of one Nigeria and we deserve to be heard and appreciated. It’s about time the Nigerian woman is responded to by the nation.

Written by a concerned Nigerian lady – Najiba Muhammad Mu’azu.

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Nigerian Tech Entrepreneur Wins Facebook-sponsored Innovation Challenge

A Nigerian tech entrepreneur, Godwin Benson, has won the Internet.org innovation challenge for education.

Benson is the creator of Tuteria Nigeria, an online platform that links up those interested in learning to potential tutors.

Mark Zuckerberg, who met with Benson during his visit to Nigeria, shared news of the innovator’s achievement.

Besides Benson, five other tech startups emerged winners of the innovation challenge.

They are; Esoko, Hyperion Development, MPedigree Goldkeys, SaferMom, and mPharma Mutti.

Zuckerberg wrote: “Last month in Abuja, Nigeria, I met Godwin Benson. Godwin founded Tuteria Nigeria, an online platform that connects people seeking to learn with people nearby who can teach them.

“Tuteria Nigeria won one of six awards for the Internet.org Innovation Challenge for services that provide education and economic development opportunities across the African continent.

“These services are all examples of the great work being done by entrepreneurs across the African continent to strengthen their communities and create opportunity.

“Congratulations to the winners and all the other entrepreneurs who are doing this important work”, said Zuckerberg.

Internet.org is a partnership between social networking services company Facebook and six companies (Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm) that plans to bring affordable access to selected internet services to less developed countries.

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God And The Nigerian Public Space By Olusegun Adeniyi

For the first time in a long while, I spent four days in Lagos last week to participate in three events. But it was last Thursday that I experienced what is usually described as a good problem. On the same day that I was attending the inaugural meeting of the African Institute for Governance (AIG) as a member of the Advisory Board, I was also supposed to be at the Nigeria Breweries Plc for the interview session to select the 2016 Maltina Teacher of the Year Award. At the end, I could only breeze in and out of the Nigeria Breweries panel session, thanks to the understanding of the chairman, Prof. Pat Utomi, who gave me permission to stay at the AIG event.

Meanwhile, earlier that morning at the AIG meeting, we had the inauguration of the seven-member Advisory Panel with Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede and his lovely wife, Ofovwe explaining the whole concept to us after which we “unanimously” ratified the chairmanship of President Olusegun Obasanjo. In attendance were Dr. Enase Okonedo of the Lagos Business School, Mr. Ken Offori Atta from Ghana and Prof. Ngaire Woods, Dean of Oxford University Blavatnik School of Government that is partnering with AIG for the Scholarships and Fellowships. While the NBA President, Mr. A.B. Mahmoud, SAN, joined us later, former CBN Deputy Governor, Mr. Ernest Ebi and Mrs Yemisi Ayeni, the two other persons on the Advisory Panel, were absent.

The idea, according to Imoukhuede, was borne out of a realization that the overall economic development of the continent would require a combination of both strong public leadership and private sector entrepreneurship. “We believe that at the root of Africa’s poor record of public leadership and governance are factors that prevent or limit talented and committed individuals from joining the public service. We believe that the solution lies in a broad set of initiatives to establish a pipeline of high potential leaders”, said Imoukhuede.

Interestingly, the meeting started with its own drama. Imoukhuede had asked Offori Attah to lead the opening prayer (as we always do in Nigeria before every meeting!) to which President Obasanjo interjected, “I am happy you did not ask Segun to pray.” But with the prayers done, Imoukhuede turned to Obasanjo and said: “Baba, I am surprised you would not want Segun to pray when it is obvious there is a call and favour of God upon his life.” To that, Obasanjo responded: “That is because God is very merciful”. I couldn’t possibly argue with that. And throughout the session that lasted the whole day (from 11am to 5.10PM), I made sure I was a good boy.

With Prof. Woods (who has had extensive experience spanning two decades, dealing with public sector in Africa and Asia) leading discussion, the session was enlightening as we reviewed the failings of governments on the continent, including in Nigeria and the quality of manpower that is often a problem. With one anecdote after another, President Obasanjo was a valuable resource in the discussion which was broken into two sessions.

Invited to join the Advisory Panel for the afternoon session were former federal permanent secretary, Dr (Mrs) Ajoritsedere Awosika, popular television personality, Ms Funmi Iyanda, Presidential media assistant, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi as well as Dr. Fiyinfolu Oladiran, Associate Principal at Mckinsey. There were also Mr. Seyi Wright, a former Bank CEO who now conducts capacity building programmes and strategy sessions for companies in various sectors of the economy; Mrs Bolaji Agbede, Group head of Human resources, Access Bank Plc as well as Dr. Jeya Wilson and Messrs Bemeke Masade and Diran Olajoyegbe.

At the end, what came out of our engagement was the necessity for reform of the public sector, especially in Nigeria even when we also agreed that would only come about by creating an environment that is both financially rewarding and also intellectually challenging for the idealistic and talented young men and women who may want to take the gamble. That then explains why the main objective of Aig-Imoukhuede, who initiated the AIG, is to begin to build a critical mass of such outstanding public servants from where the next generation of leaders could emerge.
With five Scholarships and one Fellowship, beginning from next year, at the Blavatnic School of Government, University of Oxford, the AIG will support citizens of Nigeria and Ghana “who are outstanding senior practitioners in the public sector and who have made a significant impact on policy issues through their direct work.” At the end of their programmes at Oxford University, the Scholars and Fellows are expected to return to their respective country–Nigeria or Ghana–“informed by knowledge and understanding gained through their research into regional and global best practices to help shape and influence policy decisions.”

However, one disturbing issue that came up from our discussions last Thursday is the place of political leadership in the whole arrangement. Indeed, the main conclusion from what transpired throughout the day was that without the right kind of leadership, it will be difficult to bring about any enduring change in the system. That incidentally became the dominant theme last Saturday at the 2016 edition of ‘The Platform’, an annual programme of Pastor Poju Oyemade’s Covenant Christian Centre, where I was, for a fifth time, one of the speakers.

Although I left for the airport immediately after my presentation titled, “Between Luggage Economy and Knowledge Economy”, by the time I got to Abuja, the presentation of Mr. Peter Obi which dwelt largely on resource management in the public arena, had started dominating discussions on social media. While I have watched it, Obi’s intervention on the waste that defines public office in Nigeria resonates not only because it speaks to this season but perhaps more significantly because he drew from personal examples.

Incidentally, about six weeks after he left office in 2014, I wrote about the former Anambra State Governor on this page in a piece titled, “Peter Obi and Democracy Day”, where I used him to illustrate the kind of moderation expected of our political office holders if this democracy were to endure. Against the background of his intervention at ‘The Platform’ which has generated considerable public interest, below are excerpts from what I wrote two and a half years ago:
“In a nation where accountability is in short supply, there is perhaps no greater threat today than the impunity with which government officials and their spouses, at practically all levels, appropriate to themselves and cronies scarce public resources. They fly private jets (where they don’t buy one with government funds), stay in the most expensive hotels both within and outside the country, erect big mansions they hardly live in while moving around in convoys of the latest automobiles.

“To compound the situation, it is not enough that they enjoy such luxury at the expense of the people while in office, they also want to continue with it after office hence they now make laws to confer on themselves such criminal indulgences as private citizens. But Peter Obi is different. He remains probably the most modest person to have been governor under the current dispensation while his lifestyle must have saved Anambra State billions of Naira, especially when compared with the cost of maintaining his colleagues. Even when he was already a wealthy man before assuming office, Obi exhibited uncommon decency and humility while in office. Within the country, he travelled light, just with one aide and always on commercial airlines as opposed to his colleagues who travelled by private jets. And whenever he travelled outside the country, you would only find Obi in the business class compartment.

“Obi is different because he managed Anambra State resources as he would his own. What is even more remarkable is that in a milieu when many governors have virtually bankrupted their states with loans that can hardly be accounted for by any meaningful projects, Obi left substantial amount of money for his successor without any debt. Yet we are talking of a state that is number 22 (among 36 states) in revenue sharing.

“In a way, we can link Obi’s frugality to his background as a successful business man prior to going into politics. He merely transposed the virtues of private business practice onto the management of public affairs. This contrasts with the vast majority of governors who prior to coming to office had no track record in the management of any organization. Because Anambra State has the added advantage of having one of the most entrepreneurial people in our country, a population that uses self-help for development can only complement the work of a frugal and result-oriented governor.

“The greatest challenge of our country today is poverty accentuated by the gulf between the haves and the have-not, which seems to be getting wider by the day. Yet many of our public officials flaunt their decadent lifestyles and revel in ostentation at public expense. Today in Nigeria, the cost of maintaining public officials is huge, and accounts for most of the resources that ordinarily should go to development. That is what endears Obi to me. In or out of office, he remains a simple man and a shining example of what a public servant should be.

“That I have singled out Peter Obi for commendation is because he has a sense of responsibility when it comes to public fund and has chosen the road less travelled. Even at that, I hope governors who are making laws for their own post-office comfort can see the danger of what they are doing and the dire implications for the future of our democracy. The lesson is all too clear: If and when they eventually push the people to the wall, there will be serious consequences, not only for them but also unfortunately for all of us.”

I wrote that on 30th May, 2014. However, as insightful as Peter Obi’s speech was at ‘The Platform’ last Saturday, it was not the most remarkable for me. The one that struck me the most was the presentation by Sam Adeyemi, Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre, who used the embedded message in “the parable of sheep and goats”, as recorded in the Bible (Matthews Chapter 25, verses 42 to 45) to drive home his point about the hypocrisy of religion in Nigeria.
Here is the Bible passage:

“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
What makes that passage very significant, especially for a religious country like ours, is that it is one that Muslims can also easily relate to given a popular Hadith:

“Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘Son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.’

“My Lord, How could I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?”

“Did you not know that one of My servants was sick and you didn’t visit him? If you had visited him you would have found Me there.”

“Then Allah will say, ‘Son of Adam, I needed food but you did not feed Me.’

“My Lord, How could I feed You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?”

“Did you not know that one of My servants was hungry but you did not feed him? If you had fed him you would have found its reward with Me.”

“Son of Adam, I was thirsty, but you did not give Me something to drink.”

“My Lord, How could I give a drink when You are the Lord of the Worlds?”

“Did you not know that one of My servants was thirsty but you did not give him a drink? If you had given him a drink, you would have found its reward with Me.” (Al-Bukhari)

What that says clearly is that since practically all our public officials are either Christians or Muslims, and we all profess to love God so much, such should reflect in the conduct of government business in Nigeria. That it does not is what leads me to the conclusion of the presentation by Pastor Sam last Saturday at The Platform. It is the closing statement for this week, as it reflects my 15th November, 2012 column titled, “Religion and the Nigerian Condition”. But let us hear it from Pastor Sam and learn:

“Jesus said that, on the day everyone appears before God to give an account of the life that they have lived, people will be divided into two groups: There will be those to whom God will say: ‘I was hungry you did not feed me, I was thirsty you didn’t give me water to drink, I was naked, you didn’t clothe me’. And there will be an argument on that day, because some people would want to contest that statement. ‘How could I ever have seen you hungry, you God?’

“I have a feeling that when Jesus said that, He had Nigerians in mind, since majority of us believe in God. Every week, we troop to our religious houses but the question I will like to ask the Nigerian is: ‘Yes, you believe in God but if you see Him do you think you will recognize Him?’ On that day, people will argue, ‘if I saw you (God) hungry, even if it was my last meal, I would have given it to you. And God will say, ‘for as much as you did not do it to any of the least of these people, you did not do it to me’.

“My interpretation of that is: ‘You met me but you did not recognize me. I was that person that you had the opportunity to lead as a Governor or Local Government Chairman or President; that person you had the opportunity to represent as a Senator or member of the House of Representatives or House of Assembly. But you did not realize that was me’.

“Because there is a part of God in every human being, and whatever God does not deserve, a human being does not deserve it. The next time you have the opportunity to clean a chair before an event, if you have at the back of your mind that it is God that will sit on that chair, you will clean it well. The next time you have the opportunity to construct an airport, and it crosses your mind that it is God that will use that airport, you will build a world-class one, sorry and ‘heaven-class’ airport. Any person or structure that will not give the average Nigerian the best and more importantly, empower us to dream and to fulfil our dreams, should not be allowed to lead our political institutions. The time to crash them is now!”

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