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Opinion: Tony Elumelu: God’s Gift To Africa by Ehi Braimah



A great mind such as Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF); Chairman of UBA, Africa’s Global Bank, and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, an African investment conglomerate, amongst several other interests, needs little or no introduction.

He is God’s gift to Nigeria, and then Africa. But Elumelu’s larger than life image obviously transcends the boundaries of Africa, making him a global citizen. The focus of this essay will be more about his amazing philanthropy and burning desire to create enduring prosperity and social wealth in Africa by empowering entrepreneurs and enhancing competitiveness of the private sector.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) which is the philanthropic arm of Heirs Holdings was launched 10 years ago. Since then, TEF has created a legacy of impact and transformational changes in different sectors across Africa including a new strategic approach to philanthropy by leveraging influence and impact. It reminds one of the vision of Rotary which is similar to that of TEF. Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in their communities, and in themselves.

TEF is funded by an annual grant from Heirs Holdings and supported by the group’s investee companies. In the first five years of its existence, the Foundation spent over N2 billion in furtherance of its mission. TEF has also supported the philanthropic goals of other institutions and not-for-profit organisations working in and for Africa.

Upon inception, the four key focus areas of the Foundation were: supporting entrepreneurship; enhancing competitiveness; policy intervention and leadership development. These strategic goals have continued to propel TEF to break new grounds with significant outcomes but the flagship project is the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEF Entrepreneurship Programme) which was launched on January 1, 2015.  The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme represents the vision of Elumelu to empower a new generation of African entrepreneurs by supporting the business goals of at least 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa over a 10 year period with the aim of creating over one million jobs and $10 billion in additional revenue for the continent.

When the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme was launched, President Muhammadu Buhari was obviously very proud of Elumelu. In his view, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme was essentially a proudly Nigerian project although it has footprints all over Africa. President Buhari was effusive in his praise of Elumelu for his vision for Africa. “I’m pleased to see that efforts like this aimed at promoting self-help and creating jobs and opportunities for Africa’s youths are gaining ground,” President Buhari remarked. “This demonstrates that the work of re-building our country (as well as the wider continent) is one all patriots and stakeholders must actively engage in. I’m proud that Nigeria (and a Nigerian) is taking the lead in the effort to promote self-worth, encourage entrepreneurship, create jobs, build and promote networks for intra-African trade, business collaboration and investment,” the President added. This was clearly a major endorsement for the Tony Elumelu Foundation, coming five years before the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was launched by the African Union to lower trade and investment barriers between African countries.

It shows Elumelu is a visionary and he was creating a future for Africa when he founded TEF in 2010. Innovation is critical to creating the future. Brian Halligan is an American executive who co-founded HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales software company. He is also an author and this is what he said about innovation: “Imagine the future and fill in the gaps.” A lot of innovation is required in different sectors of the economy and that is what Elumelu is doing in his transformational journey by using private capital to create wealth in Africa through broad based partnerships with governments, companies, individuals and philanthropies across the globe.

The TEF founder and UBA Chairman, says entrepreneurship is the most effective way to establish true prosperity and he has continued to expand this vision to touch lives by providing seed money for young African entrepreneurs. But more importantly, the TEF founder wants a paradigm shift from the existing narrative whereby Africa depends largely on aids from multi-lateral institutions; it is not sustainable and it confers on Africa a weaker negotiating position in international trade. For example, see the damage from COVID-19 pandemic on the economies of African countries – it just shows how vulnerable the continent is; we do not have buffers to mitigate serious economic headwinds.

According to Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), COVID-19 could cost Africa’s GDP loss of between $22.1 billion and $88.3 billion in the worst case scenario. Economic recession is already here with us, and as African countries look up to the financial capitals of the world for debt forbearance, not forgiveness, Africa’s total public debt will be over $2 trillion in 2020, Adesina further stated. According to data available in the TEF Impact Report, this is the same Africa that has an annual GDP of about $2 trillion, comparable to India or Russia. Twelve African economies are growing at 6% per annum and have been doing so for six years. Every year, $72 billion is invested in infrastructure projects across Africa and by 2030, it is estimated that Africa’s agriculture sector could generate $1 trillion annually.

For Africa to rise above this constant challenge, the solution lies with African entrepreneurs creating a value driven and robust economy that is sustainable. This was precisely why Elumelu created the economic philosophy known as Africapitalism with the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme serving to catalyse the vision. He is not saying that aid is bad per se, but we should stop complaining and get our priorities right. The young entrepreneurs of Africa can become economic disruptors once they are empowered, thereby changing the story from aid to trade and investment.

Since 2015, TEF has been disbursing up to US$10 million yearly in direct seed capital to empower young entrepreneurs across Africa under the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme brand, and this vision will be sustained for 10 years until 2025 (the first cycle) by which time $100 million would have been invested in the project by the Tony Elumelu Foundation. According to Elumelu, Africapitalism is the private sector’s commitment to Africa’s development through long term investment in strategic sectors of the economy that creates economic prosperity and social wealth.

For the private sector to thrive there should be an enabling economic environment in the form of investment-friendly government policies. But setting and implementing policies – different layers of avoidable bureaucracy and red tape can frustrate such policies – takes time.  TEF discovered that research was a critical component of the strategy for the private sector to unlock the investment potential in Africa so that entrepreneurship can flourish. To bridge the gap, the Africapitalism Institute was launched during the World Economic Forum in Africa which held May 7 – 9, 2014 in Abuja.

The Institute is an independent non-profit think tank with a mission to broaden and accelerate economic prosperity and social wealth in Africa. To achieve this objective, the private sector must have the capacity to create and multiply local value across Africa. The Institute – which is the research and advocacy arm of the Foundation; call it the “brain box” if you like — provides rigorous research, curate and communicate new ideas (innovation), develop and test the ideas, directly engage key stakeholders and advocate for public policies and business practices that will unlock investment opportunities in Africa.

Make no mistake about it, the investment potential in Africa that Elumelu refers to is huge. As noted by Dr Strive Masiyiwa, another African business leader and investor from Zimbabwe in his Facebook post, Africans in the diaspora contribute significantly to the wealth of African countries. “According to official statistics,” Masiyiwa wrote in his insightful FB post, “Africans in the diaspora send home about $65 billion per year. If this represents 10% of their income, then their total income is about $650 billion.” This is a lot of money which is more than the total income of all the 200 million people living in Nigeria — our GDP is about $550 billion. The data indicates that about 25 million Nigerians form part of the African Diaspora nation (about 60 million Africans belong to this community) and they remit about $26 billion back home annually – almost 40% of our oil revenue before COVID-19 pandemic hit us below the belt.

An African Development Bank (AfDB) 2018 report indicated that Africans in the diaspora send home about $82 billion a year which Masiyiwa also cited in his FB post. After Egypt which remitted about $29 billion, Nigeria came second with annual remittances by our brothers and sisters in the diaspora amounting to $26 billion, according to the report. These are funds transferred to family and friends but most of it is not invested; even then, the annual remittances are more than what comes into Africa as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In 2018, FDI into Africa was about $46 billion compared to $82 billion remitted by Africans in the diaspora.

Masiyiwa who has spent most of his adult life as an African Diasporan – over 32 years actually; even now, he’s based in London, UK – is very passionate, just like Elumelu, for Africa to explode with growth and development in different sectors. He believes that there are several business opportunities in the continent, adding that Africa’s entrepreneurship climate is progressively improving. However, he explained in his five-step guide to Africans in the diaspora wishing to invest in Africa that they must look before they leap. A Brookings report, according to Masiyiwa, stated that greater innovation and investment from business is essential to meet Africa’s unfulfilled demand for goods and services, close the gap in its infrastructure, create jobs and decrease poverty.

It is evident that Elumelu and Masiyiwa are two African billionaires with single minded determination to change the fortunes of Africa through entrepreneurship. If I understand the way these two phenomenal and innovative African investors are thinking, Africa should not be a poor continent, and this thinking is rooted in the Africapitalism philosophy. According to the IMF Data Mapper World Economic Outlook, the top ten economies in Africa in terms of their economic size by GDP — which varies from time to time — are as follows: Nigeria ($494.83 bn), South Africa ($369.85 bn), Egypt ($353 bn), Algeria ($178.64 bn), Morocco ($124.54 bn), Kenya($109.13 bn), Ethiopia ($103.61 bn), Angola ($88.98 bn), Ghana ($69.76 bn), and Tanzania ($67.24 bn).

After reviewing the Impact Report of the Tony Elumelu Foundation from 2010 – 2015, Elumelu believes strongly that the most transformative changes in Africa will be created by entrepreneurs who have brilliant ideas and exhibit a passion and innovation in solving local problems and creating social wealth. Let me share a personal experience. In 2014, our public relations and marketing management company was honoured alongside 49 other companies at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos by the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Allworld Network on March 22 which is Elumelu’s birthday. That partnership was a pioneering effort to promote some of the fastest growing but unlisted companies in Nigeria in the “Fast Growth 50” or “Nigeria50” awards. The partnership helped to attract new investors, customers, growth partners and talent for the 50 companies through visibility economics by showcasing their efforts and results on an international scale.

I recall that the world renowned professor of competitive strategy, Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School, spoke to us. “Strategy is all about winning in the market place by gaining competitive advantage,” Prof Porter explained in one of the sessions. TEF later published The Success Factor to codify the lessons and successes of Nigeria50 and it featured the career of each company CEO/founder, enumerating the steps they took to build their companies. Over 5,000 copies of the book were distributed in Nigeria to young graduates and entrepreneurs.

Subsequently, I became a mentor of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme from 2015 with the first cohort. Mentors are a vital part of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme which supports entrepreneurs across Africa with $5,000 non-refundable seed capital to build their businesses. They also receive training, mentoring and through peer-to-peer engagement, they build a formidable network and alumni. Once the business is launched, Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs may receive additional funding of $5,000 each as loan or equity.

Over 3,000 mentors from 46 countries around the world have provided guidance and support to the nearly 10,000 entrepreneurs that have been empowered by the Foundation across Africa. In the first year of the highly competitive programme, over 20,000 applications were received from 52 countries and the largest number of applications came from Nigeria (49%), followed by Kenya (17%), and Uganda (4.5%). Since then, the numbers have quadrupled every year and to date, the Foundation has received nearly 600,000 applications for its flagship programme. In response to these numbers, the Foundation launched TEFConnect, its proprietary digital platform for African entrepreneurs, where TEF provides comprehensive capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages for nearly one million African SMEs.


The TEF Entrepreneurship Forum which is the physical convening of these entrepreneurs has hosted African Presidents including President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Uhuru Kenyatta from Kenya, President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda from Uganda, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria, amongst others, and it has been recognised around the world for its ambition, size and scale – it is the largest gathering of entrepreneurs in the world each time it is held.

Apart from TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, the Foundation also launched initiatives such as fostering competitiveness (to attract local and foreign investment); impact investing (making money while solving social and environmental problems); Elumelu Professionals Programme (access to world class talents); direct intervention in early stage companies (social technology ventures) through a partnership with Co-Creation Hub (BudgIT and WeCyclers were two of the 20 beneficiaries and they received $5,000 seed capital each) and policy and capacity building (strategic engagement between policy makers and the private sector).

TEF also promotes thought leadership to achieve its goals. In addition, forging quality partnerships and collaborations with relevant organisations and individuals have become an overarching strategy for the Foundation. These partnerships are broad in scope but they are well focused and result-oriented. Some of the outcomes include research, ideation and publications that cover a wide range of socio-economic and investment related topics. Policy makers, thought leaders, journalists and entrepreneurs will find these publications useful.

Elumelu is not alone on this remarkable transformational journey across Africa for the creation of a progressive economic environment. He is ably supported by his lovely wife, Awele, a distinguished medical practitioner in her own right. Awele is a Trustee of TEF and founder of Avon Medical Practice. She also oversees the healthcare investments of Heirs Holdings including Avon HMO, one of Nigeria’s leading health maintenance organisations. The Tony and Awele Elumelu Prize was established to build the next generation of African leaders and entrepreneurs by collaborating with 18 partner institutions across Africa. The awards have been a source of motivation for graduates from African universities who strive to succeed against all odds. Since 2011 when the prize was launched, nearly 140 graduates have received grants for their start-ups.

Elumelu is of Delta State origin. His late dad hailed from Onicha-Ukwu (that is also where Chief Sylvester Moemeke, the advertising veteran of Lintas Advertising fame, comes from) while his mother (the Ada Onicha) is from Onicha-Ugbo, two idyllic towns in Aniocha North local government area of Delta State. By the way, Onicha-Ugbo where Elumelu grew up and had his early education is also popularly known as “Jesus Town”. Maybe Elumelu’s kindness, generosity and humanitarian endeavours have something to do with where he comes from. Naming Onicha-Ugbo “Jesus Town” was clearly not a mistake as it suggests that they are prayerful people and they pray for good things in their hearts.

The Holy Book says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34). The spiritual injunction implies that everything we speak, think or do will attest to what the abundance of our heart brings forth. And in Luke 6:45, we are also reminded that, “The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart.” As we can see, Onicha-Ugbo and Onicha-Ukwu people’s prayers have been answered; it means prayer works — Elumelu is a good man and worthy ambassador of both communities in whom they are well pleased. They love him and they are also proud of him for his spectacular achievements as an accomplished entrepreneur.

If Elumelu were an artist, his canvas would have been broad and colourful; he opted to be a global celebrity and not a local champion. Each stroke of his brush on the canvas would have represented his deep connection with humanity as a father, husband, pan Africanist, visionary, thinker, economist, banker, philosopher, philanthropist and care giver, mentor, goodwill ambassador, patriot, business leader, investor and serial entrepreneur. We definitely need more great men and transformational leaders like Elumelu from Africa to make the world a better place. One more thing: Elumelu should become an honorary Rotarian in view of his excellent services to humanity and the Rotary Club of Lagos in District 9110 would be glad to honour him.

As the Tony Elumelu Foundation marks its 10th anniversary, I have no doubt in my mind that TEF’s impactful service to Africa will be sustained for another cycle of 10 years. I congratulate Elumelu for his vision and exemplary leadership; I also salute the entire team for their outstanding achievements.

  • Braimah is a PR and marketing strategist based in Lagos


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Strike: FG Hopeful As Meeting with with Labour Ends on Inclusive Note




The meeting called by the Federal Government to resolve the grievances for which the organised labour had issued a threat of an indefinite strike, set to commence on October 3rd, 2023, ended on an inconclusive note, as the two labour centres are to consult with their National Executive Council over the new proposal thrown on the table by the government.

Meanwhile, the federal government has made a U-turn regarding its proposed N25,000 wage award to workers in the lower cadre to cushion the impact of the fuel subsidy removal, stating that the said amount would be applicable to all workers in the civil service.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajiabiamila, backtracked on the earlier decision made by President Bola Ahmed during his Independence Day broadcast to the nation on Sunday.

Briefing journalists on part of the outcome of the meeting, the Chief of Staff said, “Let me, first of all, on behalf of the government and labour, thank you and commend you for the long hours you’ve been here.
“We’ve been at a closed-door meeting with labour and the government side since three o’clock. So, it’s been about a four-hour meeting.

“A lot of issues were addressed, issues that concern the Nigerian worker, the average Nigerian worker. I can’t begin to reel them out here. But I am happy to say that after four hours, we have reached certain agreements that are for the benefit of the Nigerian worker.

“Agreements on the wage bill, agreements on committees on salary increment, CNG buses, and several other things, I believe, both TUC, Labour and the government side?

“Hopefully, we expect that Labour will call a meeting of their various branches and executives tomorrow to present the agreements that have been reached, and we pray, believe, and hope that the strike will be called off on Tuesday.

“There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about the issue of low-income workers only falling into the category of the wage bill.

They spotted that, and we communicated that to Mr President, and he quickly said and agreed that all categories of workers would be given the wage bill.

“There’s nothing like low-income, mid-income, or high-income. I think that’s worthy of clarification tonight.”

NLC President Joe Ajaero, in his remarks after the meeting, said, “I don’t have much to say than the Chief of Staff has said.

We’ve been meeting, and we’ve looked at almost all the issues, all the promissory notes from the government, and we’ll look at how to translate them into reality and make them workable.

Then we’re going to take those promises to our organs. Of course, you know these people here cannot just wake up and review and call off action.”

Among some of the resolutions that all parties at the meeting agreed to was that the Federal Government has announced N25,000 only as a provisional wage increment for all Treasury-paid federal government workers for six months.

The closed-door meeting equally resolved that the Federal Government must show commitment to fast-tracking the provision of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses to ease public transportation difficulties associated with the removal of PMS subsidies while also committing to the provision of funds for micro- and small-scale enterprises.

They also agreed that VAT on diesel would be waived for the next six months. The Federal Government commences payments of N75,000 to 15 million households at N25,000 per month for a three-month period from October to December 2023.

Other highlights of the meeting were that the issues in dispute can only be resolved when workers are at work and not when they are on strike.

Furthermore, a statement by the presidency, signed by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, indicated that labour unions argued for a higher wage award, and the Federal Government Team promised to present Labor’s request to President Bola Tinubu for further consideration.

To this end, they resolved that a sub-committee should be constituted to work out the details of the implementation of all items for consideration regarding government interventions to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

“The lingering matter of the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State needs to be addressed urgently, and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who participated virtually, pledged to resolve the matter.

“NLC and TUC will consider the offers by the Federal Government with a view to suspending the planned strike to allow for further consultations on the implementation of the resolutions above,” all the stakeholders agreed.

Meanwhile, Governor Abdulrazak Abdulrahman of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State participated virtually in the meeting, chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.

In attendance were the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, the Minister of State, Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

The labour delegation was led by NLC President Joe Ajaero, Deputy President, TUC, Dr Tommy Etim Okon, NLC General Secretary Emma Ugboaja, and TUC General Secretary Nuhu Toro, among others.


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Full Text of President Tinubu’s 63rd Independence Day Speech





October 1, 2023

“Dear Compatriots,

“It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.

“On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers. Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria. From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.

“Let us, at this very moment, affirm that, as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings. No one is greater or lesser than the other. The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us.

The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.

“Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal.

“We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.

“Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge.

“Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands, and here we shall remain.

“This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.

“At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty and property of the people.

“I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy. I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment.

“Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp.

“I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.

“Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future in Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past.

“There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.

“My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.

“We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.

“Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.

“To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.

“Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.

“New CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs.

“This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.

“I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.
“Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.

“To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

“Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.

“My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.

“Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,

“We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight.

“I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.

“I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.

“Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve a better Nigeria through courage, compassion and commitment as one indivisible unit.

“I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!

“I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary. Thank you for listening. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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Godwin Emefiele: The Endless Search for Justice




By Eric Elezuo

After the long drawn brouhaha of arrest, detention and dragging to court, the suspended and later sacked Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, was on July 25, 2023, granted bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum by the Federal High Court in Lagos State.

He was granted bail after pleading not guilty to the two counts bordering on the alleged illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. It was believed that the search for justice was coming to an end, but that was not to be.

Emefiele was facing two counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition preferred against him by the Federal Ministry of Justice before the vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo.

The Ministry of Justice was prosecuting him on charges of possessing a single-barrelled shotgun (JOJEFF MAGNUM 8371) without a licence. He was also accused of illegally possessing 23 rounds of live ammunition (cartridges) without a licence, offences committed the offences on June 15, 2023, at No. 3b Iru Close, Ikoyi area of Lagos.

But rather than releasing the embattled former governor, the Department of State Services (DSS) physically fought the Correction Centre officials to retain him as their prisoner.

A few days latter, the Federal Government applied to withdraw the ‘illegal possession of firearms’ case it filed against Emefiele, at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mohammed Abubakar told Justice Nicholas Oweibo that the application followed the result of further investigations made by the government.

Justice Oweibo adjourned till Thursday, August 17, 2023 to rule on the application. The DPP told Nigerians after the proceedings that a fresh 20 counts has been filed at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court against the then suspended CBN governor.

He said one of the charges proffered against Emefiele is that of “conferring unlawful advantages” making Nigerians wonder if there are no underground currents to denied the embattled Emefiele of justice even as four months has come and gone since he was removed from office and incarcerated.

Matters took a different turn as since the adjournment of the case, it has not been heard. On August 17, the case was stalled, and moved to August 23. Again, it was stalled.

The matter was not listed on the cause list of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja on the day with no reason given as lawyers to both parties were absent in court.

The embattled defendant, who appeared before the court on August 17, was supposed to be arraigned but the arraignment was stalled as a result of the absence of the second defendant who was said to have been indisposed.

Although Emefiele (the first defendant) was present in court, the second defendant, a female CBN employee, Sa’adatu Yaro, was not in court prompting the Presiding Judge, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned the matter to August 23, 2023.

Frustrated by the back and forth attitude of the DSS towards his release, Emefiele had sued the secret Police at the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja, challenging his detention.

In his originating motion on notice, Emefiele prayed for the court to enforce his right to liberty and freedom of movement, as there is no basis for his continuous detention.

However, the Attorney General of the Federation as well as the DSS have insisted that the detention of the suspended CBN Governor is lawful.

In a preliminary objection filed against the fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by Emefiele, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the DSS told the Federal Capital Territory High Court that the detention was backed by the order of a magistrates’ court and prayed for the court to dismiss the motion with cost.

They noted that the arrest of the former CBN governor was an administrative decision of the DSS.

The AGF is also challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit, as the originating motion filed by Mr. Emefiele ought to have sought that the court set aside the order for his detention rather than seek enforcement of rights.

An appointee of former President Goodluck Jonathan after Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s tenure was cut short in 2015, Emefiele, was retained by Buhari, and began his second term in office in May 2019 after his reappointment, and confirmation by the Senate. He was thereafter sworn in by the Bank’s Secretary and Director, Corporate Secretariat Department, Mrs Alice Karau, according to a statement by the Director Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okoroafor.

On resumption of office for his second term, Emefiele expressed high hopes, dsiclosing that he will unfold a new roadmap for the Bank and the economy, in the days ahead, after consultations with critical stakeholder groups, and reiterated the bank’s focus to play an active role in supporting job and wealth creation in Nigeria.

In his words: “We must strengthen our efforts over the coming years to stimulate growth and job creation in critical sectors of the economy, which will help insulate our economy from shocks in the global economy.

“We must also work to build a healthy and stable financial system that will contribute to the growth of our economy while preserving price stability”.

Emefiele went ahead to unveil his economic blueprint for the country, promising to recapitalise banks within the next five years to make them contribute significantly to economic growth, promising that during his next five years, which will elapse in 2024, he would pursue an economic agenda that would make the economy grow by double digits through targeted programmes that would boost output, and work with Deposit Money Banks to boost credit to the real sector as well as the creative and education sector. In addition, he said the apex bank will increase its support to farmers in order to bring down the rate of inflation.

However, events began to take a dramatic turn as the matters of the naira showed the traces of a currency given inadequate attention with plummeting agenda against other currencies of the world, coupled with the advent of the electioneering season, which categorically sort of distracted the CBN governor with his overtly ambitions trend to become president, even without resigning his appointment as a public servant.

Earlier, the CBN governor was laced in a scandal following a leaked tape, where he and other senior bank officials were heard discussing discrepancies in the bank’s accounts, addressing a stolen money from the bank’s coffers. Though the tape was audible enough declaring the anxiety in the bank at the time, the authorities promptly denied the development, saying the tape was misquoted out of context, and distorted

Again, the Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, was on hand to veil the authenticity of the allegation saying said that no money was missing or stolen from the bank’s coffers as reported in some section of the media. He said that the audio was distorted in a manner which creates a different impression of the matter being discussed, which was to proffer solutions to a misunderstanding that affected the Bank’s balance sheet.

He said: “As publicly known the CBN was approached in 2015 by the National Economic Management Team and the National Economic Council chaired by the Vice President, to assist State Governments with Conditional Budget Support. This happened in the aftermath of the significant nose-dive in global oil prices and associated FAAC allocations.
“In order to ensure that ordinary Nigerian workers  got their salaries, pensions and gratuities, and that the economy continued to recover from recession, the Bank provided about N650 billion in loans at 9 per cent with a two-year grace period to 35 States of the Federation.
“These monies were distributed to the states monthly with documented approval of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidency.
“In closing the Bank’s 2018 accounts, external auditors in their Draft  Account, erroneously classified about N150 billion of these loans as bad, which negatively affected the Bank’s Balance Sheet and shareholders fund.
“The selective  conversation being circulated was simply a discussion to ascertain why the auditors took that position and next steps to resolving it.
“Obviously, it soon became clear that a State Government loan cannot be classified as “bad” or “irrecoverable” when the State still exists and getting FAAC allocations.
“The Bank then reached out to the Federal Ministry of Finance and they jointly gave comfort  to the auditors who accepted in writing that these monies would be repaid.
“On this basis, the auditors reversed the negative entry and the certified that the CBN’s 2018 accounts were a true reflection of the State of Affairs.”
The statement ended with Okoroafor saying that Emefiele had “no account in Dubai or anywhere in the world and would never convert the funds of CBN for personal use. Not in the past, not now and not ever” while urging Nigerians to disregard the audio and continue to trust that the Bank is doing everything it could to represent their interests in the best possible way.” He stated that efforts to malign the CBN governor’s character and integrity will never stand.

Though the bank threatened to ‘pursue every legal means to bring the perpetrators to justice’, nothing was heard of the matter till date.

It was not long thereafter that the CBN’s governor’s foray into the murky waters of politics became public knowledge. While Nigerians were not averse to his contesting political positions, all the more than a few persons asked for was for the chief monetary officer to resign his position, and squarely politics, but he blatantly refused. And sought court ruling to enable him run while retaining his office.
Emefiele’s continous involvement in scandals went on unabated with making Nigerians believing he wouldn’t survive the administration of former President Buhari. He was enmeshed in one scandal after another since his infamous declaration to run for the office of the presidency as a sitting public servant, contrary to the dictates of the Nigerian Constitution. His recalcitrant attitude to the ambition, even as calls were made by prominent Nigerians, even the generality of the public, for him to jettison the plans, put him on the bad pavilion of public discourse. His inglorious handling of the economy that has seen the Naira continue a free fall did not help matters, and worse still the not-well-thought-out naira redesign process, leading to total withdrawal of cash in circulation, and driving Nigerians into untold suffering culminating into permanent disabilities for many and death for some.
However, the alleged crimes of Emefiele notwithstanding, he still deserves the application of the rule of law in his matter, but that has not been forthcoming as the DSS has held him incommunicado and disobeyed all court rulings on the issue.
A new development, which The Boss cannot immediately confirm alleged that the embattled Emefiele has been offered an opportunity of a plea bargain, demanding he submits N50 billion out of his supposed looted funds, and receive his release in exchange.
But observers believe that Emefiele’s endless search for justice will materialise, one day.

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