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Opinion: Pope Francis, Celibacy and the Church

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By Nkannebe Raymond

The foundations of the Roman Catholic Church currently curated by the 81 year old Pope Francis is once again, struggling to recover from what has become a familiar tremor. With the findings of a Pennsylvania grand jury last month which in a 900 page report indicted over 300 predator Catholic bishops in the state of serial abuse of some 1000 children in a systematic and organized orgy of abuse that spanned a whopping seven decades, the liberal Pope of “Laudato si” fame, is stewed in his own share of clerical abuse that has worryingly become a recurrent feature of nearly, all papal administrations. Tucked to that, is the pontiff’s alleged conspiracy of silence over the cardinal Theodore MCcarick affair which leaves him battling to redeem himself in what would arguably go down as the greatest controversy of his papacy.

A fortnight ago, during an official visit to Dublin, the first of such papal visit to the city since after John Paul II in 1979, the soft spoken Argentine at a public mass found himself apologizing to the lay Catholics there for the decade long wider clerical sex abuse from Boston to Philadelphia to Dublin and elsewhere. Dublin, the capital of Ireland has been a hot spot of sexual abuse, exploitation of women and pedophile priests. And while over 100,000 lay Catholics lined up the streets to welcome the Pope,  protesters and those who have long distanced themselves from Catholicism also made statements of their disaffection with the church with visible placards.

Three months ago, the Pope accepted the resignation of a Chilean Bishop- Juan Barros whom he had staunchly defended earlier in the year despite weighty allegations of cover up of clerical abuse under his watch- a move that would force the pontiff to tender a public apology to the Chilean Catholic community saying he made “grave mistake” by originally defending Bishop Barros.

Barros was among 34 Chillean Bishops who offered to resign in May this year after Pope Francis said the country’s religious hierarchy was collectively responsible for “grave defects” in handling sexual abuse cases and the church’s resulting loss of credibility, following a 2,300 page report that showed that the Catholic hierarchy in Chile systemically covered up and downplayed cases of abuse, destroyed evidence of sexual crimes, discredited accusers and showed “grave negligence” by not protecting the children from paedophile priests.

The isolated case of 88 year old cardinal Theodore McCarick who until his resignation in July, (the first of such resignation of a cardinal since 1927), was already the highest ranking US priest, sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb; and has hightened calls for the pope’s resignation by his conservative critics against the fine traditions of canon law.

Theodore McCarick resigned late July following the findings of the grand jury in Pennsylvania 2 months ago. Until his shameful resignation, McCarick was a parish priest in New York, from where he rose to become an auxiliary Bishop in the city, and then rising to become a Bishop in Metuchen, New Jersey. He was then promoted steadily, first as archbishop of Newark, and later ascending to become archbishop of Washington DC. He left his Washington post on reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75 according to canon law, but remained a vocal voice in the Catholic church and a member of the prestigious college of cardinals which advises the Pope.

In what continues to puzzle pundits and commentators alike, McCarrck’s rise in the Church hierarchy was despite ceaseless allegations and petitions written against him. A state of affairs that feed the conclusion of those who strongly believe that the octopoidal Catholic church has become a cesspit of corruption. Little wonder Pope Francis was once reported to have equated reforming the church, with  “cleaning the sphinx of Egypt with a toothbrush”.

The New York Times on the 16th of July  reported that the cardinal was repeatedly accused of sexually harassing and inappropriate touching of adult seminary students who were in training to become priests. It was told that he often invited seminarians and young priests to his New Jersey beach house and chose one man to share his bed.

The relationship between Pope Francis and disgraced cardinal McCarrick has in no small measure increased the yoke of Pope Francis.  Having influenced his emergence following the conclave of cardinals five years ago, Pope Francis must have found himself unable to rule McCarick and thus allowed him the leeway to do as he pleased. It is said that McCarrick influenced top appointments in the Vatican and even single handedly appointed his successor, cardinal Donald Wuerl who also has come under intense suspicion as part of those running the abuse cult within the Church. It is this atmosphere that must have informed Francis’ refusal to heed the advise of those who warned him about getting too close to McCarrick following allegations of sexual abuse and cover up that became synonyms with his person. Having met his Waterloo with the Pennsylvanian reports, not a few persons have called for the resignation of the Pope for what they termed a “condonnation of corrupt behaviour”.

At the forefront of the calls for the resignation of the Pope is top Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano, who in a damnifying 11 page testimonial charged that the Church’s leader had been aware of the allegations against McCarrick since 2013 but failed to act on them.

In the words of the conservative cleric who by the way, is no fan of Pope Francis,…” he knew from at least 23 June, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. Although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end. Indeed he made McCarrick’s advice his own, which was certainly not inspired by sound intensions and for love of the Church. It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of 2 minors, again on the basis of media attention that he took action regarding McCarrick to save his image in the media”. In calling for the resignation of the Holy See, the cardinal enthused, ” Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and Bishops who covered up McCarrck’s abuse and resign along with them…”

Now, for all the weighty allegations raised in Vigano’s “95 theses” of sorts, which  he said he was forced to write in order to unburden his conscience, the reaction of the fairly outspoken Pope to them,  is one of silence. On his flight back from Ireland, the embattled Holy Father reluctantly responded to Vigano’s testimonials by declaring, “I will not say a single word on this”.

A silence which critics say has not been golden at all given the size of revelations with the full complements of annexures, in Vigano’s letter.

The orgy of clerical abuse that has dogged the Roman Catholic Church since the turn of the 20th century, but with renewed vigour in the last three decades, has become the proverbial albatross around the neck of the Church. And only time would tell if it would eventually become it’s Achilles Heels. The situation is rather complicated by the attitude of a Church that has become an expert in brushing scandals under the carpet and taking sides with its own, as against victims of clerical sexual abuse and molestation. A reenactment of this clerical attitude was recently seen in the disposition of Pope Francis in the case of Bishop Barros, before his mea culpa six months after he was confronted with incontrovertible evidence of the Chilean Bishop’s complicity.

16 years ago, a dark cloud gathered over the Catholic Church when the famous Boston Globe revealed the wide spread wrongdoings in the then Archdiocese of Boston following an investigation that led to the criminal prosecution of Five Roman Catholic Priests. That incident would for the first time thrust the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy into global consciousness. Not a few million dollars was was spent by the Church in the settlement of claims brought by victims of the abuse.

It is not that clerical abuse of minors is a crime peculiar to the American Church. Not at all.  Several dioceses across Europe have also had their fair of the social menace that continue to detract from the Catholic Church’s moral authority. For example in 2010, allegations of sexual abuse spread like wildfire across a half dozen countries namely Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Brazil-home of the world’s largest Catholic population.

Whereas Africa has not been put on the global map as a destination of clerical abuse, there is nothing suggesting that it is not to be found in the African Church. The stigma associated with coming out in the open to speak of these things may still be the reason why it has continued to fester unnoticeably for now. As a young seminarian in Zaria, Kaduna state, not a few of my colleagues and seniors alike, were caught indulging in homosexual conducts. While some were expelled by the authorities at the time, others who were absolved of any complicity but who continued in the practice graduated and are Priests today in various dioceses. It is therefore hard to argue that they have not continued in their homosexual escapedes knowing how difficult it is to drop old habits. But that is the limit one would go on that, as far as this piece is concerned.

As I have pointed out before now, what appears to be very troubling in all these, is the tendency of the Church to live in a hurtful denial by taking to  an endless defence of its own instead of confronting her demons headlong. It is this attitude that must have helped in no small measure to embolden the sexual predatory elements within the church heirrachy. And which also leaves victims of sexual abuse to live and die with the stigma of abuse knowing  before hand  that the church would discredit their petitions in order to save it’s face. Or how else does one explain a situation where elements within the church fingered to be complicit in the sexual abuse  of minors continue  to rise in the church hierarchy?

It is against this backdrop however that the latest reaction of the Pope following the recent scandal that has rocked the church merits some commendation when contrasted to the corporate Vatican reactions to clerical abuse in the past. At a recent ordination of Bishops conducted by the Holy See, he charged some 75 Bishops hailing from 34 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania to “just say no to abuse-of power, conscience or any type”. “saying no to abuse”, the pontiff said, “means saying no with force to every form of clericalism”.

Yet, it would be foolhardy to suggest that mere admonistions  would operate to upend what has almost become an unwritten tradition of the church. This somewhat skeptical position is reinforced by the testimony of Raman Martin, the most senior Roman Catholic figure in Ireland who told The Guardian Uk last month, that abuse was “a systemic issue for the whole church. This is not an isolated issue of 2 bad priests in a particular school or parish. This is an issue where the whole culture of our church wrongly facilitated abuse”. This  testimony of the cleric given how much information available to him as a senior member of the Church in Dublin, should give us a picture of what the church is up against. Hence why mere admonitions would be akin to the proverbial slap in the wrist therapy.

Not a few critics of the Roman Catholic Church and even senior members of the Church hierarchy have called for a review of the canon law which would see priests reserve the right to either be celibate or take spouses as with other Christians denominations to the extent that sexual gratification appears to be at the core of predatory clerical behaviour. But celibacy, like Nigeria’s unity, as we are often told, is not negotiable in the Church’s eschatology, at least since the canons of the Elvira Council of the 4th Century made it so.

The position of the Catholic church on celibacy for it’s Priests draws inspiration from both scripture and canon traditions. In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as recorded in the book of Ephesians 5: 25-27, the Church was described as the bride of Christ; and in so far as the Latinism: Sacerdotal alter Christus, goes, the priest must remain the Church’s bridegroom in consonance with the teachings of Paul, the apostle.  As to be a priest, is to be ‘wedded’ to the Church, there cannot be a question therefore of another marriage for prelates in its most popular sense.

Beyond that, since canon law nominates that the priest is a personification of Christ, it necessarily follows that as Christ lived and died celibate in so far as one can gather from recorded scripture, the priest is invited to live in like manner. With the above biblical and canonical origins of clerical incontinence; howbeit in précis, one tends to get a picture of why the Catholic Church is not given to brook any idea of shifting it’s much criticized position on sexuality and marriage for her priests. A tradition which needless to say remains arguably the most distinctive feature of the prelates of the oldest church on the face of the earth.

But for celibacy to make any scriptural sense, it must come with its moral component on the part of the clergy who entertain the choice of enlisting for the royal priesthood of Christ. If the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church must bask in the euphoria of being Christ’s representatives on earth, the irreducible minimum conduct required of them, would be to live as Christ and the apostles lived. And by this, it is not inferred that the priests must live a life of pure holiness, as scripture makes us appreciate the impossibility of that.  But as it relates to total abstinence from sex of all kinds, that should not be open to any debate.

By no means is it suggested that total abstinence from sex is a walk in the park as man continues to struggle with the the lures of the flesh however ascetic they may be. It was Sigmund Freud who it in proper perspective when he observed that “sex is every man’s weakness irrespective of how prudent or puritanical they may be”. Yet, no one says the call to the royal priesthood is an all-comers-affair. The more reason why those who commit to it, must live by it’s base ethical behavioural standards or risk being defrocked.

But where does all of these leave Pope Francis as the head of the church at a very tempestuous era of her history? I do not think that is too far to seek. Beyond the admonitions to members of the clergy to shun all forms of abuse, the Pope must hasten to react to the weighty allegations in Vigano’s letter for two reasons to wit:  to make concessions where necessary, and to controvert parts of it that may have veered off into hyperbole. This would serve to limit how much of it is relied upon in the court of public opinion  to cast opporobium on the Church. Beyond that, it would set the stage for a healing process of the church assuming it is committed to wiping off this ugly chapter in her history.

The test for Francis therefore who in many respect has changed the negative perception of the church abroad through his liberal posturings in his interventions on controversial subjects namely: climate change; communion for divorced and remarried Catholics; abortion and homosexulity;  is whether he can set the all important first foot in front by moving from angling to save the image of the church and tardy acceptance of resignations to actively rooting out abuse and cover ups through an institutionalised network that would cut across the whole spectrum of the Church irrespective of where this corrupt behaviour is found.

There are no pretensions that this would be an easy one for the Pope, but how he handles this particular scandal would make or mar his papal reign.

Nkannebe Raymond writes from Lagos. Comments and reactions to raymondnkannebe@gmail.com

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Opinion

The Oracle: Nigerian Law Firms and Foreign Names: Matters Arising

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By Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, Ph.D.

Juliet, soliloquizing in one of the most romantic scenes (“The Balcony Scene”) in Shakespeare’s epic, “Romeo and Juliet” (Act 2 Scene 2), said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Juliet was telling Romeo that a name is just a name; with no meaning behind it. What matters is what something is; not what it is called. To Juliet, Romeo would still remain the handsome young man, even if he had a different name.

Certain questions criss-cross my mind as I attempt to critically analyze the above quote in the light of some Nigerian law firms and legal practitioners adopting Western/foreign/white-sounding names in preference over their Nigerian names. Why ‘Mungo Park & Clapperton’, instead of ‘Aluko & Oyebode’; ‘Banwo & Ighodalo’; or ‘Ozekhome & Femi?’ Why ‘McCullough & Clyde’; and not ‘Sobowale & Okonkwo’, when the firm is neither owned by, nor affiliated with the former? Why ‘Westborough Partners’; and not ‘Mustapha & Oche’, when none of the partners bear ‘Westborough’? Why ‘Greenfields, Everest & Associates’; ‘Westbrook, Blackberg & Co’; ‘Bracebridge Attorneys’; ‘Bladerstone & Cottingham’; ‘Stone & Cozens LLP’; ‘Woodpecker & Bird Solicitors’; when none of the partners bear such foreign names? Why not simply ‘The Prestige Chambers’; or ‘God is Marvellous LLP’? Why must it be names given to natural persons of Western origin, usually English?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a name as “a word or set of words by which a person or thing is known, addressed, or referred to”. Wikipedia defines a name as “a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A personal name identifies, not necessarily uniquely, a specific individual human.”

Just google some names of Nigerian law firms bearing foreign names, and you will appreciate my great concerns. Does this mindset suggest a bias against Nigerian names? Cultural cringe? An internalized, but undisclosed inferiority complex, leading to the dismissal of one’s culture as inferior? Is it a belief that Western/foreign names are more polished and easily roll off the tongue? Is it an identity management/destigmatization strategy for foreign businesses with foreign content? Is it believed that the use of such names gives one a particular status? Or is it just a matter of fashion, vogue, fad, fancy, or trend? I do not know. Or, do you?

It is conceded – that name choice is purely within the discretion of founders/partners of a law firm and as permitted by Nigerian laws. But, should native identities, for the sake of profit or fashion, be lost to foreign influence? Names are markers of identity and denote one’s community membership. My concern arises from the fact that, rather than indigenous names, none of these adopted Western/foreign names is associated with the names of any persons within such firms.

I must not be misunderstood to argue that law firms in Nigeria cannot bear names that are by patent, invented; or abstract, or religious names. Nor do I mean that Nigerians who bear European/foreign names as their indigenous names cannot establish law firms using such foreign names. I also must not be understood to posit that a firm cannot coin a name from the names of its Head or Partners; e.g., MOC, coined from Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers. My concern rather, is when individuals who neither bear such names, nor are in partnership with foreign bearers of such names; nor affiliated to or constitute subsidiaries of the foreign law firms bearing such foreign names, decide, for whatever reason, to take on western or white-sounding names belonging to natural persons, in establishing their law firms.

The reason for these may oftentimes be attributed to fashionability; ease of recognition, spelling, and pronunciation; for international business transactions conducted by these law firms; and perhaps to emphasize the founder’s or partners’ foreign qualifications. I respectfully submit that it is most demeaning to elevate foreign names over native identities. It is equally insulting to posit that ‘Saoirse Whitsborough & Partners’, or ‘Livingstone & Churchill Solicitors’, are better easily pronounced than ‘Gani Fawehinmi’s Chambers’; or ‘Chief Rotimi Williams Chambers’; or Wole Olanipekun & Co; or Mike Ozekhome’s Chambers; or ‘Olisa Agbakoba LLP’; or ‘ Uzoamaka Okeke & Co’; or Aluko & Oyebode; or Udo Udoma & Bello Osagie; or Banwo & Ighodalo; or Olaniwu Ajayi LP. To me, it amounts to sheer cultural cringe to hold that Nigerian names are less fashionable than Western/foreign names.
Conversely, ‘Juggernaut Chambers’; ‘Divine Mercy Law Firm’; ‘Salam LLP’; and ‘Shalom Chambers’, are examples of appealing abstracts; coined or invented names; and religious names, couched in English and other foreign languages. Founders or partners may settle for such where they prefer not to use their indigenous given, middle, or surnames. Names such as ‘Rosenblerg LLP’, ‘Witheresburg & Co’, or ‘Bottomleg & Neck Partners’, have unfortunately become the vogue. I experienced this aberration firsthand. A foreigner wanted to do business in Nigeria. I easily recommended a friend of mine who is an expert in that field of law where I am not. I told him so clearly. His google search revealed my friend’s name, quite alright, but not his law firm. He raised concerns, as he wanted to deal directly with a law firm and not an individual. It was then I got across to my Nigerian bossom friend, who disclosed to me, to my utter amazement, his law firm’s foreign name. I asked him why. He simply said, “oh boy, leave matter”. Really?

My concern is that this practice is not, by the same token, embraced by Western/foreign legal practitioners and law firms, whether practising law in Nigeria, or other African countries. Never has it been heard of that Western/foreign Legal practitioners or law firms, for example, ‘Rodriguez Salamasor’ and ‘John Hawthorne’, that for the purpose of doing business, ease of recognition and easier pronunciation of names, or for any other reason howsoever, established a law firm with a wholly indigenous Nigerian or African name, say, ‘Agbedor, Adekunle & Obiora LLP’ ;a law firm which neither has an affiliation with an Agbedor, Adekunle or an Obiora; nor has a partner with such names. They do not and will never ever adopt Nigerian or African names in establishing their law firms. Why then must we continue on this degrading path? I do not know. Or, do you?

I dare say that use of foreign names does not constitute any stronger factor in revenue generation than the solid reputation of the driving minds and brains behind such law firms. Many of the biggest law firms in Nigeria bear wholly indigenous names. Firms that earn the highest revenues and income across the world do not borrow African or Nigerian names; yet they thrive. According to the ‘2021 Am Law 100 Report’, the largest law firms in the world are found in the US. They collectively earned $111 billion in total revenue in 2020. Also, in Wikipedia’s compilation of the world’s largest law firms by revenue, referencing ‘The American Lawyer’ in its article titled, “The 2020 Global 200: Ranked by Revenue”, the following US law firms were listed as top generators of annual revenue in the global legal market:
1. Kirkland & Ellis with $4,154,600,000 in revenue; 2,589 lawyers (at the exchange rate of N735 per dollar, that amounts to N3.053 billion Pa).
2. Latham & Watkins with $3,767,623,000 in revenue; 2,720 lawyers.
3. DLA Piper with $3,112,130,000 in revenue; 3,894 Lawyers.
4. Dentons with $2,920,000,000 in revenue; 10,977 Lawyers.
5. Baker McKenzie with $2,899,600,000 in revenue; 4,809 lawyers.
6. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom with $2,632,615,000 in revenue; 1,694 lawyers.
7. Sidley Austin with $2,337,803,000 in revenue; 1,922 Lawyers.
8. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius with $2,265,000,000 in revenue; 2,063 lawyers.
9. Hogan Lovells with $2,246,050,000 in revenue; 2,642 lawyers.
10. White & Case with $2,184,850,000 in revenue; 2,200 lawyers.
11. Jones Day with $2,077,000,000 in revenue; 2,514 lawyers.
12. Norton Rose Fulbright with $1,904,019,000 in revenue; 3,266 lawyers.
13. Ropes & Gray with $1,903,616,000 in revenue; 1,247 lawyers.
14. Greenberg Traurig with $1,641,790,000 in revenue; 2,070 lawyers.
15. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett with $1,618,633,000 in revenue; 996 lawyers.

In the UK, some top law firms are:
1. Clifford Chance with $2,500,000,000 in revenue; 2,489 lawyers.
2. Allen & Overy with $2,160,729,000 in revenue; 2,447 lawyers.
3. Linklaters with $2,093,569,000 in revenue; 2,393 lawyers.
4. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer with $1,942,013,000 in revenue; 1,812 lawyers.

In Canada an article by Statista Research Department shows that the Canadian law firm of Toronto-based ‘Borden Ladner Gervais’, though not a global mammoth, is one of the top generators of revenue in the global legal market, competing with United States law firms. Not a single African or Nigerian name ever featuresin these. Indeed, no Nigerian law firm can boast of 250 lawyers, a minuscule for small-time law firms in the USA, UK, and other Western countries.

None of the above-listed law firms has taken on African or Nigerian names (whether for the ease of conducting foreign transactions; indicating a wide geographical spread of its offices; or for any of the reasons usually given by Nigerian Firms for the preference of western/foreign names). Yet they thrive. Do they not?

Although revenue, as shown earlier, is undoubtedly key to the sustainability and success of any business and constitutes an important tool for law firm owners/ partners to track growth and improve profitability, the name chosen by a law firm does not necessarily affect the ability of a law firm to generate income.

A person is his own name. I humbly submit that the choice of using Western/foreign names, or white/foreign-sounding names in setting up law firms, oftentimes indicates the pitiable perception of one’s name through the blurred lenses of prejudice, inferiority complex, cultural cringe, colonial and neo-colonial mentality.

It is said that “the worst form of colonialism is the colonialism of the mind”. This choice of foreign names is absolutely unnecessary. A colonialism of the mind reflects in another man’s name being preferred to one’s name. We should never again opt for western or foreign names of natural persons. We should instead, be proud of using the original names of partners. It could also be indigenous, abstract, invented, coined, or religious names; but certainly not foreign or English names.

What is in a name? “Though that which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet”, I respectfully submit that naming one’s law firm by the given foreign name of a natural person of western/ foreign descent with whom one shares no tie or affinity whatsoever, would not smell any sweeter than one’s indigenous name; an abstract; or patented name. What is of utmost importance is the value brought to bear on one’s law practice. It is about the content and not the form; the substance and not the shadow.

DISCLAIMER: ALL NAMES (EXCEPT THOSE KNOWN TO ME OR FROM STATED SOURCES) MENTIONED IN THIS PIECE ARE FICTITIOUS. NO IDENTIFICATION WITH ACTUAL PERSONS (LIVING OR DEAD) IS INTENDED OR SHOULD BE INFERRED.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: Credibility As Essential Element of Greatness by Henry Ukazu

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Dear Destiny Friends,

One of the most endearing qualities of all great people, companies, businesses, leaders, and friendship is credibility. Credibility is a currency if properly nurtured. It works like character. When you have good character, it will be easy for people to work with you. No matter how smart, intelligent, or hardworking you may be, without good character, it will be difficult for you to be accepted. The same principle is applicable to credibility. Every employer loves to hire a credible employee. Nobody likes to associate with a person who is not credible.

Credibility works out what an employee has on the resume. Credibility in this case refers to attitude, mindset, personality, orientation and understanding of life.

What actually is credibility? Credibility is the quality of gaining legitimacy, trust, integrity and dependability in a person or organization. When you have credibility, people will naturally be attracted to you. According to Aristotle, the three C’s of a credible leader are competence, character and caring. Any leader that possesses these traits will endear himself to the people.

If you really want to succeed, you must be intentional. One of the intentional steps you need to take is being credible. When people perceive you as being credible, it will be easy to associate with you. It truly takes more than credibility to succeed; you need discipline, concentration, consistency, accountability etc.

Credibility works in different ways. It can be ascertained by direct evidence which is basically first-person experience. This works when people meet and interact with you; they’ll be able to determine who you truly are and what you represent. Secondary evidence is ascertained from indirect sources which can be what people read or watch about you or even what people who are experienced about you which they either say or publish for the world to know about you. Then, we have indirect evidence which is derived from effective presentation. You must establish primary or direct evidence first before people can believe you.

Nobody establishes credibility by speaking, people establish credibility by their actions which must be verified. Isn’t it true that circumstances don’t say who you are, rather it establishes who you are?  You must establish credibility for people to believe in you. When you have been tested and trusted, then, secondary and indirect evidence will begin to key in.

One of the packages that normally comes with greatness is credibility. This is because greatness always comes with a price. You don’t attain greatness by accident. You must put in the work which will entail denying yourself some hours of sleep. In such cases, you’ll have to sleep late, wake up early. This is necessary because you will have enough time to enjoy your sleep when you are done building your brand. A major mistake people engage in life is trying to reap when they have not sowed. There are cases when lazy people like to eat fruits they haven’t planted.

For instance, while some Bank Chief Operating Officers, corporate titans, Captains of industries and successful entrepreneurs have paid the prices by investing their time and money into their business, are sleeping, a budding entrepreneur or employee will want to enjoy the same amount of sleep without investing their time and money in their craft. It takes diligence to establish credibility.

 As Christians, the Book of life made us understand, God rested on the seventh day after creating for six days straight. What does that tell you? You must put in the work first before you can rest. People will have to see your credibility before you can earn their trust. It’s instructive to note that God didn’t rest on the first or second day, but it’s quite unfortunate most people would like to rest on the first and second day without putting in some work. God rested on the seventh day, why are you resting on the first day or second day? You will have to establish trust, diligence, and competence before you can rest which will ultimately give you some credibility when people have seen your work.

At a stage in life, all that is important is loyalty and trust, at this stage, people are not concerned about your money, words, perceived actions and understanding of life, they just want to know if you have their back when the chips are down, it is on this stage that circumstances don’t say who you are, rather it reveals who you are.

In any sphere of life, you must establish credibility for people to take you serious. When you are credible, people will want to do business with you, people will trust your judgment, and people will see you as a reliable resource person.

The question you may want to ask is how do you establish credibility? To establish credibility, you must be consistent in words and actions, you must be honest, you must learn and be knowledgeable, you must spend time to do the needful, you must be accountable, and you must be principled by not comparing yourself with others. You must stand for the values you believe in, even if it means standing alone as opposed to following the bandwagon.

In conclusion, in all you do, endeavor to establish credibility by building good human relationships beginning with your family, close friends, business partners, associates and the public at large. Trust me, when you do, you can be rest assured your name will be announced where you don’t imagine and you’ll be a treasure to behold.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker, youth advocate and creative writer. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: An Exercise in Futility

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By Kayode Emola

Surprisingly, given the issues of corruption and wealth inequality in the country, Nigeria’s banking system is one of the strongest banking institutions in the world. This is due, ironically, to the sector having been forced to adapt to various threats and challenges to financial security. For example, Nigeria implemented name verification for funds transfer on mobile banking apps about five years ahead of the UK introducing the same. It is also one of the few countries that have been able to create its own payment system, Verve, rather than being tied to applications owned by international corporations, such as Visa or Mastercard.

However, despite this, the country’s financial institution has failed in its efforts to build a sustainable banking system. The lack of a robust framework tackling on-line financial fraud, combined with delayed processing of payments, has caused people to rely principally on cash-based transactions in their day-to-day personal and business activities. Consequently, the high volume of cash in the community causes liquidity problems for the financial institutions and their regulators, who then don’t have the physical cash when it is required.

Overcoming this challenge requires adequacy of basic infrastructure, such as a stable electricity supply and a countrywide e-communications network. However, instead of focusing on developing these, the government embarked on policies that charge ordinary Nigerians exorbitant fees for the mere use of banking facilities. This has further alienated many people who might otherwise have been proponents of the cashless policy sought by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Having failed to transition Nigeria into a cashless society, the CBN embarked on an alternative strategy to mitigate inflation and draw liquidity back into the banks, by introducing a re-design of the currency. Their aim was to force the general populace to return their old currency, but restrict how much of the new currency could be withdrawn in cash at any given time. This then presents people with the option of either accepting having no available cash to spend, or else paying a premium to retrieve their funds. This unfavourable choice is likely to cause general unrest and therefore trouble for the government.

However, redesigning the naira does not answer the fundamental question of what is causing it to remain in the community in the first place. Since cash can be either circulating within the community or circulating within the financial institutions, but not in both places at once, this question becomes the crux on which the matter hinges. Eventually, the same monies that were recalled from the community into the banking system will be collected back by the people and returned to circulation within the community.

This makes the efforts to stem inflation and collapsing exchange rates an exercise in futility. With the community being heavily reliant on a cash economy, and consumers disincentivised by high fees from keeping their money in bank accounts, it becomes doubly difficult for the financial institutions to recall cash back into their treasuries. The people will merely revert to hoarding cash and conducting transactions in the traditional way that they understand.

The only way to tackle this is with a change in policy that eradicates the exorbitant fees charged by banks and Point of Sale agents. It is therefore imperative that any future Yoruba government ensures that we have both the soft and hard infrastructures needed to compete in a global financial system. We must ensure that the populace can make payments seamlessly with their debit or credit card without worrying about additional charges from their banks. We must also ensure that people can transfer cash from one bank account to another without incurring fees. Achieving this will increase people’s appetite for utilising financial institutions, and thereby reduce the need for cash-based transactions.

If more payment gateway operators develop systems that can integrate seamlessly with the banks’ structures, ensuring payments are processed quickly and effortlessly, more merchants will take payment by credit and debit card payments rather than relying on bank transfers. This will generate significant savings in the time, effort, and costs involved in performing financial transactions.

Many people across Nigeria are becoming disillusioned with the financial institutions’ handling of these matters. It appears undeniable that Nigeria’s lifespan has expired and the only workable solution is dissolution. In this event, we would no longer have Nigeria holding our Yoruba people’s finances for ransom, forcing our people into poverty.

The CBN has failed. The government has not only been ineffectual at resolving this mess, but they have also actively contributed to it. The Fulani government, knowing that they cannot match the material wealth of the Yoruba people, is seeking to diminish what we have by destroying the very fabric of our existence. We must rise in unison as the Yoruba people to bring an end to this Nigerian menace that is daily chasing millions of our people out of their homeland.

We need to rescue the multitudes of people in Yorubaland trapped below the poverty line. Only when we extricate ourselves from the sunken ship that is Nigeria, can our glory as a people be collectively achieved. The sooner we do so, the better it will be for every one of us.

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