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SPPG Graduation: Stakeholders advocate ways to fix Africa’s leadership lapses

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Lingering economic crisis, insecurity, famine and the rise in number of coup d’etats in Africa are fallout of  poor quality of political leadership across the continent,  stakeholders have warned.

Speaking at the just concluded 2023 School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG)Graduation in Abuja, the stakeholders who are Africa’s thought leaders,  called for unity and reawakening of political consciousness among Africans to  fix Africa’s leadership crisis.

The speakers at the event include SPPG Convener and Nigeria’s former Minster for Education,  Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Kenyan-based activist, Boniface Mwangi; Tunisian activist, speaker and diplomat,  Aya Chebbi; Accomplished Lawyer from Kenya, Martha Karua; Zimbabwean politician and one of the top leaders of the Citizens Coalition for Change political party, Gift ‘Ostallos’ Siziba and Senior Programme Officer and Acting Deputy Director, Mac-Arthur Foundation, Africa office, Amina Salihu.

Others are a Parliamentarian from Zimbabwe, Joanah Mamombe, a Chartered Accountant from Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr,  Political Scientist from Senegal, Marieme Cisse; Transformation strategist from Nigeria, Alero Ayida-Otobo, among others.

The event themed:  “Renaissance Africa: The Era of Citizens shaping new Leadership Model for Good Governance” , saw the graduation of over 100 SPPG students. 

Participants described the event as a great opportunity Africans have been waiting for to help in building a new model and pipeline of public leadership to reverse acute governance failure and leadership gaps in the continent. 

Ezekwesili, charged Africans to participate fully in politics and lend their voices to matters that affect their future.

She disclosed the  Africa still contended with bad leaders despite millions of talented people in the continent, adding that the trend must be reversed.

 “We want an Africa that is governed by persons of character, competence and capacity that will transform nations. We are tired of bad leadership and the frequency with which that comes in. The conversation within and outside on the reason Africa is behind all other nations throws up a really big challenge,” she stated. 

“We cannot simply accept the idea of poor leadership in the public management of our continent. So, SPPG has worked to bring interconnectedness that also mirrors where Africa is going. It, thus, matters that citizens make effort to change things that are unacceptable. A continent with enough pool of talents has done incredible things, both within and outside.”

According to her, speakers at the event showed that Africa is not lacking is individuals that can lead the continent to propensity and stability.

“Africa has chosen the path of democracy, and if we look at historical numbers, more countries that have enjoyed prosperity have come through the democratic path. So, democracy is very important because it comes with political freedom. With political freedom, comes rule of law which is the cornerstone of economic freedom. Economic freedom leads to proliferation of ideas, innovation and creativity. With democracy, the two most important economic agenda for countries is solved faster and better.” 

Continuing, Ezekwesili, said: “Competitiveness and productivity are all based on empirical data. So, if we know all those things, we cannot then sit back and hope that somehow change will come. If Africans want to transform their politics and just sit back, hoping that those, who have entrenched poor governance as political culture, will someday fall in the kind of Apostle Paul and have a Damascus experience, we will wait forever. That is not something that this generation should do.”

Mwangi, urged African leaders to purge themselves of colonial mentality and look inwards. He said, “Africa’s biggest problem is its leadership and we have to fix that. Driving from Abuja Airport to the hotel, I saw very magnificent buildings; they were neither schools nor residences, but churches. There lies our problem. We focus a lot on religion and we need to fix that”. 

“Our leaders have copied the white man’s ways. When the white man colonised our continent, he took our lands, minerals, everything. When we kicked them out, we took the bad habits. Our continent, our land used to be communal, but we have become very western in our ideals. So, we have 10 billionaires and a billion poor in Africa. That needs to be fixed.”

Young people, he asserted, needed to take over power. But that is when Africans stop spending more time praying than politicking, thus making politics their way of life because politics is the reason unemployment, insecurity and poor healthcare abound. 

“The biggest mistake the young people have made in this continent is to serve the old people of yesteryears. So, we need to think how to have, across Africa, a pan-African movement to fix our leadership because if we don’t fix our leadership, we will be doomed. The people we have in power are neocolonial stooges; they work for the white man. The money stolen in our continent goes abroad,” he said.

In her submission, Karua assured that the hopes of Africans must be restored. She said, “We need to restore hope in our people. Our culture in Africa is respect, oneness and love. We are now lost people. We are neither Africans not outsiders. 

“If you love Africa, you will not wage war against your people. Even your people will rebel against you. I think this is a good place to start. We need to reflect on the things we will do. One finger cannot kill a fly. We are here to create a political miracle to solve the problems of Africa. We need a revolution. I do not mean a coup. There is a civilian revolution.”

SPPG holds graduation, raises disruptive leaders to transform Africa

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The School of Politics, Policy, and Governance has scheduled a series of events to commemorate the graduation of its Class of 2023, taking place from October 5th to 7th, 2023.

The graduation ceremony, which holds at the National Universities Commission, Abuja, will bring together disruptive political and community leaders, SPPG students and alumni, the #FixPolitics Work Study Group community and value-oriented politicians in Africa to discuss new ways to lead effectively in the continent.

The  SPPG was established to help in building a new model and pipeline of public leadership to reverse acute governance failure and leadership gaps in Africa. 

The SPPG has for years built a reputation for equipping leaders wth the  right values, knowledge and skills required to solve complex public problems.

“Part of the activities slated for the hybrid three-day event include the inaugural Africa Conference, a convergence of political leaders and citizen-led movement advancing good governance across Africa, which will culminate in the graduation of the third cohort – #SPPGClassof2023,” the Chief Executive Officer of SPPG, Mrs Alero Ayida-Otobo, said. 

The theme of the Africa Conference is, ‘Renaissance Africa: The Era of Citizens Shaping a New Leadership Model for Good Governance’. 

“The conference will examine ways of transforming African governance at the levels of political leadership, institutions and policies, citizen engagement and participation in the short, medium and long terms,” said Ayida-Otobo. 

She added, “At the end of the programme, Africa’s new leaders and active citizens will be connected to share experiences and inspire one another as they develop a sustainable system for emergence of ethical, competent and capable public leaders at scale for good governance.”

There will be special recognition and group awards for outstanding individuals, faculty, mentors and groups, who excelled as SPPG students and/or contributed significantly to the SPPG community, among others.

The conference will see distinguished speakers from the SPPG Nigeria and other African countries including Senegal, Sierra Leone, Kenya, and more, as well as SPPG students and alumni. They will also participate in breakout sessions, where participants would share the outcomes of their discussions and work towards actionable solutions.

The graduating class and members of the SPPG Alumni Network will embark on the SPPG tradition of a Citizen’s Awareness Walk to deepen their commitment to a connected and resilient Nigeria. 

The closing, dedicated to the SPPG graduation, will enable the #SPPGClassof2023 to share knowledge, inspire action and celebrate their achievements.

Accolades as Obiano, father of modern Anambra, clocks 68

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*Residents extol selflessness, commitment to citizens’ wellbeing

 

Father of modern Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, marked his 68th birthday. 

The former Anambra governor is known for building massive infrastructure, funding education, promoting good governance and passion for charity.

While in office as governor from 2014 to 2022, his accomplishments blossomed, impacting many people within and outside the state positively. 

Akpokuedike, as he is fondly called, ranks among the best governors Anambra has produced in the Fourth Republic. 

Anambra joined the league of oil-producing states during his tenure, and the state has earned over N7bn as derivation since July 2022.

Obiano, who succeeded Peter Obi as Anambra helmsman, is not only passionate about seeing the people happy and prosperous, but gives to the less-privileged to make life better for everyone.

That explains why  every of Obiano’s birthday, since he became governor, has become a period of celebration for  citizens and residents of Anambra because of the peace and prosperity he brought to the state during his tenure.

Michael Oduah, a trader in Onitsha Main Market, said Obiano’s tenure was the best for him so far, as his business witnessed exponential growth.

“Our businesses thrived because of the peaceful atmosphere created during his tenure. We congratulate him for this milestone of a new age and for the giant strides he made during his tenure as Anambra governor,” he said.

Nnewi-based business woman, Roseline Okafor, described Obiano as a kind-hearted governor, who fought for his people to have a good life. 

“He is a good politician, who is never desperate for power. Another attribute of Obiano that is rare in this clime is that, unlike other former governors, who see the Senate and other political offices as their retirement benefit, he handed over without going to the Senate, giving others opportunity to also build their political careers,” she said.

Mrs Adanna Ezennia, a teacher based in Awka, the state capital, said she would never forget the outstanding performance of Obiano in the education sector.

“Governor Obiano loves to see the education sector thrive. He made sure that the schools were equipped and teachers motivated. We will continue to miss his sterling leadership qualities,” she said.

She added that having received quality education, Obiano does not joke with education, especially that of children.

Obiano affirmed this when he said, “It was one of my initiatives to demonstrate my belief that every Nigerian child has the right to access quality and affordable education in a peaceful and secured environment. Hence, I initiated ‘No Child left Behind’ policy – an inclusive policy to recruit more teachers and educate all children across the state.”

He further enhanced this policy by building hundreds of school blocks and creating of Anambra Teach-on-Air programme for radio and television, to eradicate illiteracy. He was a true champion of justice and equity and fought for the rights of the most vulnerable.

Ezennia disclosed that Obiano had been feeding communities and individuals quietly as part of his plan to give back to society.

“It is obvious Obiano has accomplished so much in life, but his selfless impact on humanity is particularly endearing. He is a strong and compassionate leader, who always put the people around him first. He made Anambra a better place to live and do business.

“Obiano tarred over 1,000 kilometres of road, built 17 bridges and three iconic flyovers in Awka. He was the first to integrate social media and e-Governance. The workers were not ignored. He paid salaries and pension, in line with his commitment to deliver on physical and human infrastructure,” she added.

The International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umuleri; the 13,000-capacity Convention Centre, Awka, and the FIFA-rated Awka City Stadium were all built during Obiano’s tenure.

Obiano’s positive records were also evident in other notable areas, such as the completed Onitsha Shopping Mall and Agulu Lake Hotel, as well as rebuilt roundabouts across the state,” she stated.

Afrinvest guides investors on investment opportunities for huge returns in period of reforms

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Afrinvest West Africa Limited has provided intelligent guidance to domestic investors on opportunities available in this period of massive reforms across key sectors of the economy.

At the company’s mid-year investment parley held on Tuesday in Lagos, the Group Managing Director, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, Ike Chioke, spoke on the opportunities provided by the naira and energy reforms to investors and how they could be explored for optimum returns on investment.

Speaking on the theme: “The Turning Point: Positioning for Optimal Return,” he called on investors to position themselves for the opportunities in the economy, which had been magnified by ongoing reforms.

Chioke said the factors seen in both domestic and global economies showed that the country’s economy was at turning point for greatness.

“We’ve seen global inflation rates are dropping alarmingly over the last six, seven months. We’ve seen that the rate tightening by global central banks have kind of come to a point where they are pulling back. They have achieved the objective of reining in inflation. For Nigeria, the new government and ongoing forex reforms also have implications,” he said.

He said removal of the petrol subsidy was expected to provide fiscal savings of N2tn in 2023. This, together with earnings from improved oil exports and non-oil sources, would buoy revenue.

According to him, although the naira has been devalued by significantly about 40 per cent, but it has great benefits, including government making huge savings around N2tn, just from the subsidy removal.

He however, kicked against spending the savings on palliatives, saying “a palliative is not a permanent solution.”

Chioke added that the forex reforms by the Central Bank of Nigeria “has raised hope on sustainable economic development.”

He said the spike in forex rate at the parallel market would be short-lived as more foreign investors pump dollars to the economy.

He said naira would face pressures at the parallel market but that would be for a short time. He said the bigger picture was that more foreign direct investments would find their way into the economy.

“The forex reforms has rekindled hope of domestic and foreign investors in the economy, and we expect it to pay out positively on the naira and foreign reserves in the long run,” he said.

On his part, the Managing Director of Afrinvest Consulting, Abiodun Keripe, said the reforms were courageous, and were previously thought impossible. He said the reforms in the forex market had opened the possibility of Nigeria growing its foreign reserves to $60bn by year end.

He said achieving the target will require increased oil production, boost in diaspora remittances, sustenance of tax and oil subsidy reforms.

Keripe said implementing these reforms would also strengthen the naira from current status to around N550/N600/$ by year end.

Keripe said that despite the improved export earnings, Nigeria’s heavy dependence on importation impeded the trade balance gains.

“No policy can artificially fix the rate at 600 without further worsening the delicate condition. In fact, the incentives to substantially push the exchange rate lower are quite minimal for revenue mobilisation,” he said.

He explained that more interesting to investors was also the impact of forex unification on the reduction in government deficit by about N350bn (greater gain from oil revenue vis-à-vis increase in external debt service).

He said: “Inflation is likely to touch 24.0 per cent before decelerating in fourth quarter on the back of the base effect and weakened demand pressure. Hence, monetary policy would tread cautiously by maintaining the status quo.

“We expect a more market-responsive FX rate, which will boost investors’ confidence and enhance trade and capital flows. However, the path to FX stability would be somewhat rocky. The FX rate is expected to stay above N700 in the near to medium term,” he projected.

“The removal of the petrol subsidy and the process to stop the electricity subsidy are expected to keep prices elevated for the rest of 2023. Although this would spur an improved and more efficient allocation of resources by the Federal Government. Investors interest in alternative investments has consistently improved in the last decade. Thanks to innovative financial products that have consistently addressed its drawbacks — illiquidity, prolonged gestation period, lumpiness, and relatively high expense ratio,” Keripe stated.

He advised investors to remain overweight in fixed-income investments, with a particular emphasis on yield play.

“Sovereign with strong fundamentals should be the center of focus while corporates should also take a substantial part for stability. The juiciest yield are seated on the short and belly of the curve. A higher yield with a shorter maturity will deliver a better risk- adjusted return,” he said.

“Given that we expect muted volatility toward the downside, activity should be moderate. The surest bet remains to long the market. However, investors can short when the opportunity arises,” he added.

Also speaking, Managing Director/Chief Business Officer, Optimus by Afrinvest, Mr Ayodeji Eboh, said the reforms represented a turning point because with Nigeria’s new government, there was going to be short term pains, which would ease as time progresses.

He however, said savings from subsidy should be tied to specific projects, that add value to the people.

He kicked against sharing palliatives, saying such move would not enable the government to achieve desired goals for the people.

He called for investment in infrastructure and in boosting policies that promote ease of doing business.

Naira depreciation creates opportunities for businesses to adapt, says Adeleye

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Naira fluctuations, which have weakened the purchasing power of consumers, have prompted businesses to adapt to local content, according to Bunmi Adeleye, Chief Strategy Officer of Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, owners of Shoprite Nigeria.

Retail Supermarkets Nigeria was recently acquired by Persianas Investment Limited and other key institutional investors, making it a fully Nigerian-owned business that contributes to the country’s economy and provides employment opportunities for its citizens.

In an interview in Lagos, Adeleye explained that “despite the challenges posed by the naira depreciation, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria has maintained its high-quality products and services for its customers and plans to open more stores that showcase a wide variety of Nigerian-made products and international brands”.

Adeleye explained that like any retail business operating in a continually evolving economic landscape, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria face various challenges, including naira depreciation.

“While the increased costs of importing goods and supply chain disruptions pose challenges, the depreciation of the naira has also created opportunities for growth and localization. Despite efforts to remain competitive, we have adjusted prices to reflect the increased costs, potentially affecting customer purchasing power,” she explained.

Adeleye explained that the company has faced various challenges such as increased costs of importing goods, supply chain disruptions, and product availability due to naira depreciation. However, the company has implemented robust procurement strategies, strengthened local supplier relationships, and focused on sourcing products locally to mitigate challenges and support the economy.

“To overcome the challenges posed by naira depreciation, we have implemented robust procurement strategies, strengthened local supplier relationships, and focused on sourcing products locally to mitigate challenges and support the economy. It also catered for diverse purchasing powers and promoted affordability through promotions and discounts,” she added.

She disclosed that the company is actively exploring opportunities to expand its business operations to better serve communities and provide convenient access to quality products while fostering economic growth and development. To stay ahead of the competition, the company has adopted various strategies such as a strengthened value proposition, enhanced customer experience, efficient supply chain management, technology integration, local sourcing, and continuous innovation.

“We are considering innovative solutions tailored to the specific needs of customers. We aim to provide convenient access to quality products while fostering economic growth and development,” she said.

On competition in the industry, Adeleye emphasized its importance for growth and market development. The company has adopted strategies such as a strengthened value proposition, enhanced customer experience, efficient supply chain management, technology integration, local sourcing, and continuous innovation. Shoprite keeps up with the latest trends to offer relevant and useful products. It trained the staff to provide better customer service and utilised technology to gain insights into customer preferences and optimise operations.

The company is actively exploring opportunities to expand its business operations to better serve communities and provide convenient access to quality products while fostering economic growth and development. To stay ahead of the competition, the company has adopted various strategies such as a strengthened value proposition, enhanced customer experience, efficient supply chain management, technology integration, local sourcing, and continuous innovation.

Adeleye believes that competition in the retail industry is essential because it helps the industry grow and improve. To stay ahead of the competition, the company has adopted strategies such as a strengthened value proposition, enhanced customer experience, efficient supply chain management, technology integration, local sourcing, and continuous innovation. The company has partnered with local suppliers and distributors, providing quality products, fresh fruits and vegetables, ensuring everyday low prices, and easily accessible stores while monitoring industry trends and consumer needs to ensure that offerings remain relevant.

Overall, she noted that the retail industry in Nigeria is thriving and presents good investment opportunities for those interested.

“Retail Supermarkets’ success in adapting to the local market is a testament to the opportunities available for businesses in Nigeria,” she added.

#FixPolitics expresses solidarity with Senegalese over political crisis

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As Senegalese navigate the complexities of the political crisis unfolding in the country, #FixPolitics Initiative has expressed solidarity with them and the #FixPolitics Senegal team.

In a statement, yesterday, entitled ‘Standing in Solidarity: A Message of Support for the #FixPolitics Senegal Team and the People of Senegal’, the Executive Director, #FixPolitics Africa, Anthony Ubani, expressed unwavering support and solidarity with the people of Senegal and the #FixPolitics and #FixPolitics Senegal team.

He stated, “I wanted to take a moment to express, on behalf of the Founder, #FixPolitics Initiative, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, our unwavering support and solidarity with all of you. Your steadfast commitment to #FixPolitics’ mission and patriotism in actively occupying your #OfficeOfTheCitizen to defend constitutional democracy in Senegal is commendable.

“In this regard, we note and applaud, in particular, the media interviews by you and some of our School of Politics, Policy and Governance, Senegal Faculty, to mobilise public and international attention to the political impasse in Senegal and, the Prof Babacar Gaye-led protest march against the postponement of the election, which the #FixPolitics Country Manager and Staff actively participated in.”

Ubani praised the team’s resilience and commitment to good politics and good governance in Senegal.

According to him, the Senegalese have been tested and they demonstrated their determination and readiness to boldly execute their #OfficeOfTheCitizen, in defence of democracy in Senegal.

He added, “We stand in solidarity with you and the people of Senegal, even as we salute your courage and exemplary leadership.”

Wigwe: Banking industry has lost wizkid, says Obiano

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Immediate past governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, has condoled with the Wigwe family and the banking industry over the tragic passing of the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, Herbert Wigwe.

The consummate banker, his wife, Doreen; son Chizi; and former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, lost their lives in a helicopter crash near Nevada on Friday, February 8, 2024.

Obiano described Wigwe as an intelligent banker, under whom Access Bank was ranked among the top four in the country by the time he died.

He noted that the deceased was about 36 years old when he co-founded Access Bank, a time he was also in the banking industry.

The former governor said: “With a heart filled with deep sorrow, I condole with the Wigwe family and the banking industry as a whole. I pray God to grant the souls of all the victims of the chopper crash eternal rest and give their families fortitude to bear the loss.

“The vacuum Wigwe left in the banking industry will be difficult to fill, if at all it can be filled. Therefore, I urge our colleagues in the industry to take heart and uphold the virtues of integrity that Wigwe left behind. “

Under Wigwe, Access Bank, which had years earlier acquired Intercontinental Bank, also bought Diamond Bank.

Ogundoyin exits Nexford, focuses on Sooyah Bistro expansion

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Founding member and first Nigeria Country Director of Nexford University, Mrs Olamidun Ogundoyin, has taken a bow from the American university to build Sooyah Bistro into a global brand amid its million dollar expansion plans.

Ogundoyin was the country director, who pioneered Nexford University in Nigeria, between 2018 and 2023.

Before Thursday’s confirmation, business analysts and keen observers of activities at the university speculated, for several months, her true designation.

In putting the speculations to rest, she said the focus had since shifted to expanding Sooyah Bistro, a fast-rising Quick Service Restaurant chain, with outlets in Nigeria.

“Sooyah Bistro has its eyes set on expanding nationally and internationally. The company is seeking new investors to enable it achieve its million-dollar expansion plans,” the company’s founder and Chief Executive Officer stated.

According to Ogundoyin, Sooyah Bistro has been tried, tested and validated in one of the most challenging business environments in the world and continues to see tremendous growth.

“We have brought innovation to an age-old tradition and ran with it; we have completely innovated the suya space in ways no one has ever done before.

“The company has built an ecosystem of skilled Hausa barbecuers and pitmasters, local vendors and young professionals. We have achieved remarkable feats,” she said.

The startup QSR chain believes that food is culture and has the power to transform and uplift communities.

Ogundoyin added, “We are changing the way people eat and think about ethnic foods like suya. We are building connections in meaningful ways to lead and engage culture by using food as a bridge to West African art, music, fashion and beyond.

The educationist-turned-restaurateur advised business owners to be alert and prioritise structure in their companies. “To achieve our ambitious targets, we needed to build proper structures and remain data- and technology-driven,” said the owner of two successful Nigerian businesses.

She explained that the constant need to champion her path was one of the circumstances that brought her this far, adding, “It is time we boasted of true Nigerian successful enterprises expanding our culture and cuisine globally with the support of modern structures and technology.”

Absence of good governance hurting Africa’s economic development, says Ezekwesili

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The Founder, School of Politics, Policy and Governance School and Chair, #FixPolitics, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has linked Africa’s under-development to the absence of good governance and quality political leadership.

She spoke at the inaugural session of the SPPG Distinguished Guest Speaker Series on Friday, which was attended by thousands of Africans and global stakeholders. 

Speaking on the theme, ‘Power, Performance and Legitimacy: Renewing Global Democratic Momentum’, she explained that the central thesis of #FixPolitics research was that “the absence of good governance is the greatest obstacle” to Nigeria’s economic development.

Ezekwesili told the participants, “The failure of the country’s variant of politics and public leadership inherently subverts public good and places their personal and narrow interests above the collective wellbeing of citizens.

“In the light of the above, whether it is 2020 or 2060, nothing about Nigeria can change without a transformation of its politics. Our democracy is coming out of deficit, as African politicians have not delivered on the contract between them and the people they govern.”

Explaining how nations grow, Ezekwesili said the trinity of growth and development showed that citizens of Nigeria and the rest of Africa need a politics that leads to good governance.

According to her,  sound policies, strong institutions and efficient priority of investment in public goods and services are crucial for private sector emergence and growth of the economy.

On the way out, she said there was need to raise the influence of the electorate and make votes of the low income class expensive.

This will happen by raising productivity, as well as improving political literacy and welfare of the people.

For middle class voters, she said, data and factual evidence should be used to highlight the cost of indifference to them. She said that contents for such campaign should be delivered to their diverse social networks through technology.

Ezekwesili called for the establishment of unconventional SPPG to flood the political space with a new class of valued-based politicians that would emerge on a large scale.

She said there was need for a new set of Nigerians trained on customised curriculum on ethical politics, policy and governance to offer a new dominant political culture that would subordinate personal interest to the collective welfare of Nigerians.

She stressed the need to mobilise the Nigerian public to collectively demand a new constitution, political, electoral and economic restructuring of the country.

“Only Nigerian citizens working together can compel the three arms of government to respond urgently and avert the imminent collapse of Nigeria into a failed state (Nigeria is the number 13 country on the global ranking of failed states),” she disclosed.

She advocated effective regulatory system and corrective mechanism that could cut the powers of a monopolistic political class in any democracy, and urged citizens to step up, take responsibility and mobilise the #OfficeOfTheCitizen to structurally transform their political system.

“Although the politicians may be numerous and belong to different parties, their commonality of Incentive and disincentives  to which they respond or ignore is akin to the features of a monopolistic market,” she said.

Continuing, Ezekwesili described monopolies as illegal and generally harmful to the economy and welfare of consumers.

“It is why market anti-trust laws and effective regulations step in to correct market distortions once a monopolistic situation is detected. In the economic context, choosing one brand of product or service out of the range of options available is a function of the degree of competition (e.g. substitutes) that exists in the market for that particular good or service,” she said.

On his part, Prof Larry Diamond from Stanford University, United States of America, condemned the practice where the ruling party controls the political pace, electoral process and makes credible elections impossible.

Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, said, “Nigeria has a lot of traditional rulers, who are preservers of culture and key in maintaining peace.”

Accoridng to him, free and fair election is the minimum condition of democracy.

The don said levels of freedom and democracy were declining across the world, and Africa was not left behind.

He said that in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa and Ghana “are classified as liberal democracy, but that it’s not the case with Nigeria.”

Liberal democracy, he noted, “is declining in Africa, canvassing reversal of the trend.”

Some of the participants voiced their opinions on Africa’s democracy and way forward for the continent. Dr John Godson said having traditional rulers to play constitutional roles would be good for African democracy.

“Africa needs homegrown democratic system to thrive,” he said.

Rex Rim-Rukeh called for Africa’s democracy to be tailored to fit Africa’s need, a process that should start immediately.

On his part, Murtala Muhammad said some schools already believed that liberal democracy failed in Sub-Saharan Africa. He asked, “Can we have an alternative to liberal democracy?”

Diamond, Ezekwesili, Gaye to speak at SPPG’s democracy summit 

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Prof. Larry Diamond from Stanford University, United States of America; Founder, School of Politics, Policy and Governance/Chair, #FixPolitics, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili; and Co-founder, #FixPolitics, Senegal, Adamu Gaye, are the top speakers at the inaugural #FixPolitics Movement’s virtual conference on Friday, February 2, 2024.

The SPPG listeners and guests will be able to benefit from the speakers’ wealth of experience, world-renowned expertise and in-depth analyses on the theme, ‘Power, Performance and Legitimacy: Renewing Global Democratic Momentum’.

Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.

He also chairs the Hoover Institution Project on Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific Region and is the principal investigator of the Global Digital Policy Incubator, part of Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. For more than six years, he directed FSI’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, where he now leads its programme on Arab Reform and Democracy.

Between 2017 and 2018, he co-chaired, with Orville Schell, a working group of researchers from Hoover and Asia Society Center on US-China Relations, culminating in the report, ‘China’s Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructing Vigilance’, which was  published by the Hoover Institution Press in 2019. He is the founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and serves as senior consultant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Diamond’s research focuses on democratic trends and conditions around the world as well as on policies and reforms to defend and advance democracy. His latest book, Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition and American Complacency, analyses the challenges confronting liberal democracy in the US and around the world at this potential “hinge in history,” and offers an agenda for strengthening and defending democracy at home and abroad.

According to the organisers, democracy is still the predominant model of government in today’s world. But for how long will it hold this privilege?

“However, heavy shadows now loom over it as it faces significant challenges to the point of being questioned even in places where, not so long ago, it was believed to be firmly established,” the SPPG stated in a press release. 

The press release was signed by the Executive Director of #FixPolitics, Dr Anthony Ubani. 

It also read, “Although it was a phenomenon adopted late by many countries, the profound erosion it currently faces demands a revisiting. Further, its image continues to tarnish as public and private liberties, which it once carried in many regions, collapse almost everywhere they once flourished.

“The global crisis of democracy is illustrated by the rise of illiberalism and political autocracy, which present themselves as an adverse alternative to its authority. Further, its image continues to tarnish as public and private liberties, which it once carried in many regions, collapse almost everywhere they once flourished.

It is, therefore, not surprising that it no longer enjoys the unanimous support it commanded some 30 years ago.”

The press release added, “It is in the light of this that #FixPolitics Movement and SPPG will be holding the virtual conference, which will be moderated by Ibrahim Diagne and Precious Amayo, to educate the public on what the future holds for democracy in Africa. Participants are expected to complete an online registration form to be accredited.”

The lecture will hold between 6.30pm and 9.00pm(WAT) via Zoom at: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82552395028?pwd=58hQFb0IzTXplZbXX5045aal5afC1C.1

Insurance vs Rangers: Winners to get N2.5m from Afrinvest

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Edo govt rallies support for home team

Ahead of the Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin match against Rangers International of Enugu, Afrinvest West Africa has promised a N2.5m prize to the winning team.

The match slated for Saturday, January 6, 2024 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Edo State, falls within the Match Day 17 of the Nigeria Premier Football League. The match,  which kicks off by 4pm, will be watched by millions of football lovers across the country and beyond.

Speaking on the need to support the team, the Group Managing Director, Afrinvest West Africa, Ike Chioke, reiterated the company’s commitment to supporting the youth towards achieving their life goals.

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who is the founder of Afrinvest – Official Jersey Sponsor of Rangers – is rallying support for the Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin.

Sports analysts lauded Obaseki’s support for sports development and insisted that Saturday’s match accentuated his unalloyed commitment to sports development and youth empowerment.

According to Chioke, the winning team will get N2.5m cash from Afrinvest, while the loser will get N500,000.

“In the event of draw, each of the two teams will get N1m, payable into the Optimus by Afrinvest personal accounts of the players and club officials of both teams.

Inaugurated in October 2022, Optimus by Afrinvest is a financial technology solution that helps customers do the most by harmonising banking, wealth management and brokerage needs into one simple platform.

Optimus by Afrinvest is also changing the way people interact with money to achieve financial freedom.

“Our risk management policy ensures we prioritise asset class diversification and execute client’s transactions in line with global best practices. 

“We have built, specifically for you, a personalised digital wealth management neobank platform that provides bespoke and innovative financial services to help you reach the peak in your finances,” Chioke said.

The firm, he asserts, can help a team of young people, who happen to be  Rangers International Football of Enugu, to become professionals and rise to international standards.

“They, too, will help to uplift other young people and show them that there is value and pride in doing things professionally.”

In 2023, the Afrinvest Equity Fund was the best-performing listed equity mutual fund with over 60 per cent returns, making it a standout choice for smart investors.

“All our mutual funds are professionally managed and strategically positioned to deliver impressive returns for investors. Afrinvest Equity Fund led the pack  with 64.39 per cent returns in 2023, closely trailed by another company in a distant second position, which returned about 45 per cent, among others,” the company said. 

Obaseki urged sports-loving Edo people to come out en masse during the tournament to support Insurance.

The Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, said the state government would provide free buses, through the Edo City Transport Services, at different pickup points to and from the match venue.

He stated, “This is  to ensure Edo people come out en masse to cheer the home team to victory.

“Our sports-loving governor, Godwin Obaseki, has approved the provision of free bus rides, through the ECTS, to mobilise Edo people in their numbers to cheer the state’s football team, Bendel Insurance, to victory during their NPFL clash against Rangers FC on Saturday, January 6, 2024, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.

“The free buses will be available at various pickup points to ensure easy and accessible movement for fans and supporters of Bendel Insurance, as well as other football enthusiasts to and from the match venue.”

According to him, the route for the free bus service includes Ugbowo axis, Airport Road, Sokponba Road, Ikpoba-Hill, Eyean-Aduwawa axis, King Square axis, Ogida Siluko Road, New Benin, Sapele Road, and Ekenwan Road.

Nehikhare added, “While we are sure of victory after 90 minutes of exciting football action, we are encouraging Edo people to come out en masse to cheer our darling team, Bendel Insurance, to victory.

“We want the stadium to be filled, so we can give them the moral and intimidating support they require.”

On his part, the Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki, Dr Osaigbovo Iyoha,  encouraged Insurance players to come all out against the visiting Rangers and ensure victory.

“The governor  is solidly behind you and has approved a package for you. I am coming to the stadium with the package.

“We are impressed with the progress you have made this season and we are confident you will be better,” he said.

Iyoha added, “We are mobilising support for you because the Governor has approved free ride for fans to and from the stadium. We urge you to make the state proud by beating Rangers on Saturday.”

What Time is it for Nigeria?

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By Obiageli Ezekwesili 

There is Time for everything. Figuratively speaking, a person or country can be asked, “What Time is it?” with an intention to trigger a deep rumination from those who should know or care. The start of the New Year after a bloodied end of 2023 with yet another mass brutal killings of over 150 children, youth, women, and men during the Christmas week, in several villages of Plateau State did provide the context for one to ask. So, I ask first, those among my fellow citizens who have only always hoped against hope that our country will ultimately Become, “What Time is it for Nigeria?”  I next ask all those who have held and the ones currently holding political and public leadership positions in the country, “What Time is it for Nigeria?”

The blood of Fidelis Solomon and over one hundred and fifty other victims gruesomely massacred in the latest Plateau State carnage, and the blood of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Nigerians cumulatively killed in the North Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southsouth and Southwest regions of our country are crying, “What Time is it for Nigeria?” What is your answer, fellow citizens? 

This really is the hardest question that all the people of goodwill in Nigeria must ask and answer candidly. Anyone who attempts to evade asking and confronting the inevitable tough answer to this question merely lives in delusion. 

For me, it is the critical time to confront the hard conversations on how to create a viable Nigeria that transits from mere country to a nation of people who though diverse have collectively negotiated to unite themselves around a shared sense of nationalism to build a just, equitable, peaceful, orderly, prosperous, stable, resilient, and ethical society based on shared values, national vision and common identity. It is the most feasible way to avoid Nigeria becoming a truly bankrupt country with all her people.

Bankruptcy, an extremely scary word was recently used by Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to describe the financial situation of the country. In his words: “We are facing very serious budgetary constraints. It is okay for me to tell you. It is fine for you to know. We have a very serious situation… We have inherited a very difficult country, a bankrupt country to the extent that we are paying back what was taken. It is serious”.

Bankruptcy in corporate use, means the death of an entity because it stops all operations and goes completely out of business. Death is the loss of soul. Like humans, a country also has a soul, and it contains the values and boundaries of what is acceptable or abhorrent behavior. For example, in Nigeria, there was a time when a certain modicum of values served as filters of what behaviors were rewarded and punished. The soul of our country began to die when public leaders became bad examples, disdaining values and rewarding vices. As the people either helplessly watched on or simply did not care and many chose to join the leaders in sliding the scale of values, the soul of Nigeria started to erode. The soul of the country has eroded to a degree where today, the value and respect for human life is closer to zero than to one. 

The bankruptcy of a country and people which relegates the dignity of life is much more damaging than empty public coffers. Public leaders who do not value the life of their fellow human being bankrupt the soul of their country. The cyclical pattern of empty coffers in a country vastly endowed with the natural, human, and other resources to have emerged as a globally productive and competitive economy is a factor of Nigeria’s values bankruptcy. The Nigerian-State run by governments which are inured to the debasement of human lives is bankrupt of soul.

We shockingly arrived a time in our country when regardless of the number of mass abductions, maiming and killings of fellow humans being in our country, the Nigerian-State moves on without an iota of accountability and consequence for especially murderous criminals. We are in a time when Nigerians have normalized and accepted that their governments and leaders can conduct, enable, or ignore acts of impunity. A time in which the lines between reward and punishment are so blurred that the country exists without any form of deterring consequence for the most atrocious behaviors. 

So, even though evidence abound in our public finance data to support Ribadu’s assessment of the current state of the country’s finance, Nigeria’s reality is worse than mere financial bankruptcy. An empty treasury is the least of insolvencies that stymie Nigeria and Nigerians. The substantial and existential danger is that Nigeria as a country is totally bankrupt of values, void of soul and headed into a cataclysmic collapse of the kind that more money cannot change. What can more money do to reverse the callous acceptance of a brutish, short, and nasty existence into which majority Nigerians have now acculturated their minds? 

What will more money do for a people who no longer expect their leaders to take responsibility for basic duties including accountability for failure to produce results? What can more money do for a country that kidnapping of citizens grew into an industry nationwide? The Nigeria we all lament today is a sad example of what failure to agree and uphold a national integrity and values system can do to any people. Nigerians chose to be lethargic to how our country is governed, so our public leaders willfully distorted incentives and sanctions in our society.

Yes, the public coffers are empty, but the time now is to tackle the cause and not one of the symptoms of our national bankruptcy as a country and people. Nigeria must first overcome the existential sustainability question as our top priority agenda at this time. Is it not staggeringly alarming that Nigeria’s contemporary peer-countries are contending to lead the 21st Century by shifting global economic dominance while we in contrast are steadily regressing farther away from being a country? Nigeria’s multiple existential threats to retaining the status of country are fiercer than ever before. We now barely tick the boxes for the full status of a country, properly so called. 

A Nigeria that is fast losing most of the basic criteria that qualified us to be included in the United Nations list of recognized countries should alarm all patriots into action to save and avoid the tendentious pattern of our political class tunnelling our focus to addressing symptoms instead of their underlying causes.

Our evident state of affairs is that Nigeria now more than ever before ticks closest to the box of a failed state on the criteria of renowned Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine. The index annually uses Economic, Political and Social factors to evaluate fragility and resilience of countries. Nigeria has every year over the last ten years remained within the group of 15 countries out of 170 that rank closest to fragile-failed country status. For example, on the economic front, Nigeria is entangled with endemic issues of systemic and widespread grand as well as petty corruption, “high economic inequality, economic development along group line, low growth, severe economic decline and rising extreme poverty”. 

In the context of the Fragility Index on the political front, Nigeria experiences “breakdown of capacity of government to function usually characterized by delegitimization of the state, deterioration of public services, suspension, or arbitrary application of law; widespread human rights abuses, security forces operating as a “state within a state” often with impunity, rise of factionalized elites, and rise of external political agents and foreign states”. 

On the social metrics, the index evaluates Nigeria’s “depleting social capital, loss of social cohesion, a squandering and poor management of its diversity, demographic pressures and tribal, ethnic and/or religious conflicts, massive internal and external displacement of refugees, creating severe humanitarian emergencies, widespread vengeance-seeking group grievances and sustained human flight” and such like. 

It will amount to a historical missed opportunity if Nigerians do not in 2024 collectively resist the syndrome of tunneling our focus to the lowest common denominator of our problems. The Federal Government in its current narrative about public financial distress is leading everyone down that path because even though it is true that Nigeria and Nigerians are faced with the severest fiscal distress ever experienced in recent history, our single-minded focus must be the battle for the Soul of Nigeria. No amount of money from higher oil prices, tax collections and more domestic and external debts can win this battle for us. 

More money cannot save a country and people that have lost their soul. Even then, the fact is that from all evidence available in the public domain, additional money earned by Nigeria now merely and mostly feed the avarice and voracious greed of Nigeria’s politicians anyway as the budget process has often revealed. The question that should therefore seize the minds of citizens of Nigeria and move all in the direction of the right actions is found in the timeless words of scripture; “Behold, what does it profit a man, nay, a woman and people of a country, to gain the whole world but lose their soul?” 

There is a raging battle for the Soul of Nigeria, a country which has turned into a massive killing field and mass graves overrunning with the blood of innocent children, youth, women, and men brutally murdered, battered or abducted without any consequence to the criminals. 

Every Nigerian of goodwill – regardless of ethnicity, religion, economic status, and political persuasion – knows that the Nigeria we once knew is gone. The collective momentum must now swiftly gather to the tipping point for Nigerians to compel a legally mandated National Conversation that will fundamentally negotiate and determine the value we place on our lives and the values that will uphold, preserve, and dignify a New Nigeria and Nigerians. Throughout history, dead countries commenced their dying when human life ceased to have worth. This is the kind of time Nigeria find itself, but we can by a collective will confront the demons that have dwarfed the realization of our country’s giant potentials and change the course of our checkered history. 

Could this be the ironic time a lethally flawed government of President Bola Tinubu which continues struggling with crisis of legitimacy, makes the urgent and historic choice to facilitate and enable a New Constitutional Process credibly co-led by citizens? Will the Tinubu administration surprise us and choose the good of Nigeria and Nigerians this Time?

Will he take up the gauntlet at this Time and ask himself the question, “What Time is it for Nigeria?” Can Tinubu’s candid answer be that it is “The Time for me to do right by the Citizens of Nigeria?”.

There is indeed Time for everything, and Nigerians are anxiously waiting. It is Time. 

Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education and Solid Minerals, is Founder and Chairperson of the Board of the School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG) 

Fixing Africa’s under-development through novel leadership set

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African countries have continued to contend with under-development; many try to snake out of the situation, which is directly linked to leadership failure and poor governance systems.

Apart from some of the countries under military dictatorship, others are also struggling even in their democracy, with poor electoral processes always marking the transition of power from one government to another. Dearth of focused political leaders has been largely blamed for this; hence, the stunted growth in most of the African states.

One of the persons irked by the worsening leadership question in Africa is Nigeria’s former Minister of Education and one-time presidential candidate, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, who is also famous for her #BringBackOurGirls Movement, has been concerned with.

Instead of just bemoaning the situation, she decided to do something to help. She moved to mould young men and women across Africa, who would stand tall and take over their countries. Decision alone, she felt, is not enough; she put her hands on the plough by founding the School of Politics, Policy, and Governance.

Speaking recently at the graduation ceremony of SPPG, she described the institution as an unconventional school designed to attract, develop and produce a new generation of political leaders, who would listen and serve the new class of citizens, who know their rights. SPPG’s mission, she added, is to educate future leaders and public officials, who are dedicated to the good of the nation and ready to serve the well being of all citizens.

According to her, SPPG has, for years, built a reputation of equipping leaders with the right values, knowledge and skills required to solve complex public problems.

She said, “The 33-week programme of the first-of-its-kind world-class institution for shaping new kind of public leaders, offers a unique opportunity for prospective leaders to be equipped with the requisite knowledge, skills and values required for effective, disruptive and progressive public leadership.

“The programme includes a wide range of carefully selected courses comprising 24 modules that are analytically and empirically relevant to solving Africa’s complex development problems.”

The former minister noted that SPPG is focused on building ethical, competent and capable leaders and producing, at scale, a new genre of public leadership that serves the people and delivers on governance.

“Leadership for results and positive impact is a mission SPPG has determined to make the most important conversation in the public space of Nigeria and the rest of Africa,” said Ezekwesili.

She tasked African leaders on the need to leverage technology and the trending disruption to enhance economic growth across the continent.

Ezekwesili, who is also the Convener/Chair of #FixPolitics, said the continent has continued to experience increasing leadership deficit in the areas of policy analysis, development and good governance, disclosing that SPPG is determined to bridge the gaps experienced in these areas with a well-tailored curriculum for African students with a global perspective.

On leadership deficit on the continent, Ezekwesili insisted that “the world needs Africa and Africa needs the world.”

She added, “The existing multilateral order is broken and must be urgently fixed, so that our world can make critical decisions and take the right actions on issues that affect us all.

“Africa must be at the centre of conversations on global governance, economic growth, poverty and inequality, climate change, disruptive technologies and related issues of human and social development. The world will do better with Africa actively at the table of the redesign of today’s global architecture for a future that provides equal opportunity for everyone anywhere to excel.”

To be ready for this, she stressed, Africa needs disruptive leaders, who are constantly interested in finding better solutions to problems of their communities, countries and the world.

The former minister linked Nigeria’s leadership problem to distorted political culture, where leaders place personal interests above public good, and canvassed a change of mindset by leaders to tackle the growing economy and security challenges in their countries.

She observed that character, competence and capacity were the missing link in producing good leaders in Africa, stressing the need for disruptive thinking in the nation’s political space.

“We found that not just in Nigeria, but across Africa, there is a distorted political culture. It is the political culture where those in public leadership subordinate the public good, that is the common good, for their personal and narrow interests. This means that the common good is not served by people, who should be serving. To correct that, you have to customise a new leadership mindset.

“So, the training we give at SPPG has the content to reset the mindset of those who wish to lead. They lead by serving, place character at the foundation of the knowledge we give them by improving on their competency and the capacity to articulate sound policies, be able to design institutions that enable society to advance and to have the capacity to make the right choices of investment in the goods and services that countries need to grow,” she said.

Analysts are united on the fact that Africa, especially Nigeria, needs exemplary leaders and followers to build its polity and make the citizenry enjoy the dividends of democracy.

Regrettably, it has been observed that failure at providing good governance has been the lot of almost every Nigerian government, whether military or civilian.

Not a few scholars posit that Nigerians collectively lack a clearly defined vision championed by their leaders, and that this has remained the country’s political albatross since it became independent more than three score years ago.

Nigeria’s multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society would arguably do better, if anchored on a well-defined national vision. But that has not been the case. The cost is evident in the serial failures of the country to evolve into a nation and realise its enormous potential.

Ezekwesili is not alone on this push for the advancement of quality leadership in Africa. The Chief Executive Officer of SPPG, Alero Ayida-Otobo, believes there is urgent need to groom a new set of leaders with policy development and good governance mindset, while educating new political leaders dedicated to the values of good governance in and out of Nigeria, based on the values the school upholds.

“We want to contribute to instilling in politicians and public administrators a deep sense of moral commitment to the common good as a foundation for Nigeria and Africa’s future prosperity.

“SPPG aims to strengthen the bonds between government, public administration and citizens by fostering dialogue, accountability and transparency,” she stated.

Most African countries, she noted, have the same developmental problems like Nigeria; hence, #FixPolitics and SPPG propel the drivers to cover the continent. They started in Nigeria but are going to cover the 54 countries in Africa.

“SPPG is one of the three pillars of the #FixPolitics Initiative. What we do is very pivotal to the future of Nigeria. The mission is to elevate the Office Of The Citizen; we want to enlighten the citizens of this country.

“Our goal is to equip 21st century politicians that will be value-driven, with character, unquestionable competence and undeniable capacity,” Ayida-Otobo stated.

In the same vein, President of the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network, Olu Omotayo, believes that beyond building men and women as future leaders, there is need for strong institutions in Africa.

In one of his media outings, he lamented that irrespective of strong leaders, Africa lacks strong institutions.

“In the Western world, anybody that comes to power, his action does not affect institutions because the institutions are strong already. When Obama visited Ghana, he said what Africans need is strong institutions and not strong individuals. Once the institutions are strong, things will work.

“But we do not have strong institutions; that is why a President can sit down in the Presidential Villa and ask the Central Bank governor to bring a certain amount of money. That cannot happen in developed countries; you must pass through procedures. The President is the head of government, but he has no power over those institutions; the institutions are separated from the running of government.

“But here, the institutions feel they are subservient to the executive. Even the judiciary, when you come to Nigeria, for instance, you see that the judiciary and the legislature have not been able to actually stand on their feet. These are the problems that make Africa to still be under-developed.”

While hailing the efforts being made by Ezekwesili and others, he, however, said more efforts should be channelled towards raising more citizens who could stand and challenge the status quo and defend the institutions.

“I have always been of the belief that the problem of Africa and, of course, Nigeria, is lack of collective effort of the people. If the people are determined that our institutions must be strong, they must be strong. So, we should not be focusing on leadership; if the citizens say this is what we want, they should demand it.

“Look at the Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria, it was enacted to make people always demand accountability from their leaders, but how many cases have you seen? Those are the problems.

“So, there is the need to groom the people to take their destinies in their hands; they must be able to challenge the authorities and demand accountability. It is not just training some few leaders, who will turn out to become overlords; we need to train citizens who will stand on their feet,” he said.

Currency Reforms Present Challenges, Opportunities for Investment Banking, Says Chioke

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AIHN Recognises Top Operators at Awards Night 

The ongoing currency reforms by the Central Bank of Nigeria come with challenges and opportunities for investment banking, immediate past President, Association of Issuing Houses of Nigeria, Ike Chioke, has said.

At the Investment Banking Awards Night, on Tuesday, in Lagos, Chioke said the free floating of the naira and removal of fuel subsidy impacted on key sectors of the economy. 

He said, “Nigeria is obviously bracing up to the impact of the new government and is already making changes to what I will call ‘non-unorthodox’ policies. These policies also introduced pain and hardship with the free floating of the naira and removal of fuel subsidy forcing their weaknesses on various sectors of the economy.” 

According to Chioke, despite the hiccups to their implementation, the policies have thrown up major opportunities for investment banking, urging members to apply their best skills and expertise to make the best of the opportunities. 

“Investment banking industry is a critical one for the Nigerian economy and we represent the best brains and expertise in that space,” he said.

The Awards night, which held at the Civic Centre, Lagos, and graced by both top executives and middle level staff in the financial market, presented opportunities for many players in the industry to receive awards, in recognition of their excellent performance last year. 

In the Debt Capital Market Category, Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Limited won the Private Company Bond House 2022 Award; Best Commercial Paper House 2022 Award and Best Bond House 2022 Award, while the Best Commercial Paper House 2022 Award went to Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited. 

Also, in the Equity Capital Markets Category, the Equity Deal of 2022 Award was won by Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited, UCML Capital and Rand Merchant Bank. 

Additionally, Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited won the Best Equity House 2022 Award within the category. 

In the Financial Advisory Category, Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited won the M&A Deal of 2022 Award, while Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Limited won the Best Financial Advisory House 2022 Award. 

The Investment Banking category saw Stanbic IBTC Capital Limited take the prize, Best Investment Bank 2022 Award.

The Lagos State Government was awarded the Capital Markets Titan Award, within the Capital Markets Titan category. 

Newly-elected President of AIHN, Kemi Awodein, said the recognition to the winners was a way of acknowledging the excellent work they do in their different areas of specialisation, and motivation to do even more. 

She promised to continue and improve on the culture of excellence and development of the financial markets to the benefit of customers, investors and the economy.

Power of civil society

In many countries, civil society organisations, grassroots movements and other non-governmetal organiusations are essential components of democratic governance. They serve as checks on government power, promote citizen engagement and contribute to the development and implementation of policies that benefit society as a whole. Their influence and impact extend beyond national borders, as they often collaborate with international partners and contribute to global efforts to address shared challenges.

United States President Joe Biden once noted, “No fundamental social change occurs merely because government acts. It is because civil society, the conscience of a country, begins to rise up and demand – demand – demand change.” They are at the forefront of this transformation. CSOs such as #FixPolitics, grassroots movements and NGOs are wielding their influence to shape public policies and hold governments accountable.

For instance, in December 2018, widespread protests erupted across Sudan, initially sparked by rising food prices and economic hardship. But what started as a demonstration against the tripling of bread prices in the eastern city of Atbara quickly spread across the country. These protests evolved into a broader movement calling for the removal of President Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power for nearly 30 years. Citizens, especially young people, and civil society organisations organised and took to the streets demanding political change.