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60 Gun-Salute to the Literary General

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By Louis Odion, FNGE

Back in the 90s, we used to time each of his literary parturitions, the way a sprinter’s dash on the track to the finish-line is scored. The digital age hadn’t yet fully dawned in newsrooms in this corner of the earth then. So, it was still largely an intense communion between the pen and “offcuts” (writing sheets improvised from stumps of newsprint reel).

From crafting often uniquely creative intro to the final word, it never used to take Sam Omatseye more than a fleeting moment to consummate, say, a great column or pithy analysis for Concord titles.

“So, timekeeper,” he would inquire convivially, facing me in the small office that sheltered Concord’s Politics Desk as the lady typist took the last page, “Did I miss?”

“On target!,” I would exclaim, laughing with adulating thumb-up.

Of course, the stop-watch never exceeded thirty or forty minutes for Sam to churn out a masterpiece of between 1,000 and 1,200 words. A feat around which his fame had partly been built within the Concord family. The other half being the vigour of his thought and the charm of his language — lyrical, even laconic. His prodigious knowledge is undoubtedly reflected in his uncannily relentless facility to lead and buffet readers with ideas and quotations from great thinkers in history.

In inter-personal conversations, no less commanding is Sam’s ability to recite copious portions of the Holy Bible with the seamless ease of a computer that would fill even a seasoned Pentecostal pastor with envy. A skill matched equally by an adroitness at recalling, off-hand, long passages from literary classics. And then his bonhomie accentuated by deep-set eyes and an easy throaty laughter that unfurls remarkably immaculate full dentition.

Looking back, what a great fraternity we built at Concord, bonded by a spirit that turned office to family. Led by Mr. Tunji Bello (presently Lagos Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources), the clan included Victor Ifijeh, Kayode Komolafe, Segun Adeniyi, Waheed Odusile, Yomi Idowu, Jonas Agwu, Abdulwarees Solanke, Gboyega Amonboye, Goke Odeyinka, Jill Agbiliazau-Okeke among others. (More elaboration on this in a forthcoming 300-page book devoted to Tunji Bello’s Diamond Jubilee.)

A bard of crisp imagery, withering wit and sometimes subversive metaphor, Sam would, for instance, characterize Segun Adeniyi and I as “passion versus prose” in his reading of the distinction between our respective creative temperaments.

Almost three decades later, it is gratifying to note that Sam’s energy has not waned. In fact, it will be no exaggeration to say his muse has since ramified into a Trojan of sorts, straddling Nigeria’s literary space. As he turns 60 on June 15, there can, therefore, be no better time to pause and salute this sterling ambassador of the letters.

Indeed, in Nigeria’s contemporary artistic firmament, very few literary avians could be said to soar close, let alone higher than Sam. In the simultaneous expression of multiple art forms, he obviously engages our space today with peerless virtuosity. Name it: from journalistic exertion of column-writing (In-Touch in The Nation) and show-hosting (TVC); to churning out, with prodigious frequency, critically acclaimed works of poetry, drama and prose.

For instance, since 2006, he has penned the widely acclaimed column weekly without a single break. And as his regular readers would attest, an encounter with Sam through the written words remains an enchanting voyage around art, history, philosophy and political thought.

With such remarkable testimonial in industry, Sam can then be said to be living out, even if symbolically, his own precept against, for instance, sloth in the civic space. Indeed, he demonstrates that his critical spirit over the years as a columnist is not hypocrisy. That he, by no means, is not an armchair critic. Through the power of personal example, he is thus able to rise to the very high standards he chooses to hold those in leadership perches as a public intellectual.

It can then be understood why, after several awards in punditry, the nation’s custodian of academic tradition, the Nigerian Academy of Letters, finally considered Sam worthy to be inducted into its hall of fame as an honorary fellow in 2018. (Co-awardees included Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, Pro Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, and Segun Adeniyi, popular author and columnist). Next was a formal acknowledgement by the Nigerian state of Sam’s prodigious talent last year with his investiture with the National Productivity Award by the Federal Ministry of Labour at a solemn ceremony in Abuja.

However, this is not a mission to interrogate Sam’s art, but extoll his humanity — a unique convergence of the values of decency, loyalty and generosity. In transcendental terms, talent, it bears restating, is meaningless without a character defined by higher personal virtues.

You may not agree with him all the time, but what can never be faulted his sincerity of purpose and the restless quest for the common good. Sure, there is never going to be a consensus on the best road to travel or policy option to make in the stated pursuit of the public cause. Such critical contestation will, of course, always be driven and defined by the values we share individually or by which ideological aperture we view civil engagements.

However, at a time when championing of sectional agenda seems increasingly glorified and entrepreneurs of hate scramble for visibility, one point that is beyond dispute is that Sam sticks to a different dialectics which rather view the nation’s contemporary existential crisis through starkly distinct lens of the good Nigerian against the bad Nigerian. Like every conscientious artist, Sam remains unabashedly an advocate of the vulnerable and the voiceless in the ensuing dialectical struggle.

In identifying suspects or classifying culprits, his own objective yardstick is, therefore, social justice, regardless of tongue or faith. Against the backcloth of a rising call for the annulment of the national union, there can be no mistaking the persistently conciliatory standpoint of this gangling teetotaler from Niger Delta married to a Yoruba lady (from Ido-Ani in Ondo State), fluent in Yoruba, based in Lagos and whose circle of friends and allies cuts across all ethnic categories.

It is a perhaps a measure of his consistency of character that prominent among the company he keeps or would be found are still the same folks with whom he associated decades ago. Indeed, any audit of Sam’s engagement in the past three decades will also show an unfailing fidelity to progressive ideals and the fierce defense of the common good.

The goodwill that fetches, it would seem, saved him in the dire hour of need in the dark days of Sani Abacha. On the fateful night he was to depart to the United States in 1997 to begin a one-year Alfred Friendly Fellowship, a little drama ensued at Muritala International Airport, Lagos. It was the harrowing season when critical voices were either in graves, gulag or exile. Being a prominent Concord journalist, Abacha’s roving goons easily spotted him in the crowd in the departure lounge and brusquely asked him to step out of the queue before clamping him in an improvised detention around.

While the state agents later stepped away to a quiet place apparently to consult their masters on what to do with a “big catch”, a conscientious officer from another branch of the security service who had monitored the proceedings from a distance and would rather identify and sympathize with those courageous enough to stand up to the rampaging military dictatorship, miraculously came to Sam’s rescue. Quickly, he whisked him through the remaining security cordons to his seat on the waiting aircraft which door was firmly locked almost immediately for take-off!

So, given that close shave, Sam was forced to remain in exile at the end of his fellowship at Denver, Colorado. Rather than being intimidated, he only intensified his sorties from exile against the military in form of critical essays published regularly in Concord titles which by now had become the main opposition publication in Nigeria.

But, overall, regardless of his habitual retail of lofty ideas with sometimes fierce words, the essential Sam is soft at heart, almost childlike in spirit. This accustomed innocence or instinctive trust has however often predisposed him to be easy target for traitors or emotional blackmailers. I dare say this as someone with intimate association with him in almost three decades, first as junior professional colleague and eventually a friend close enough to be considered a brother.

In the office environment, Sam certainly lacked the guile that many others would traffick in — that cold-heartedness to knife colleagues in the back, if only to rise rapidly on the ladder or gain favour. His mirth is genuine, not to be confused with the saccharin laughter of the treacherous who, as the Yoruba say, will conceal blood on the tongue and spit out phlegm.

On a personal note, it took the exile years for me to appreciate, in more intimate terms, two of Sam’s defining qualities — a sense of solidarity and loyalty on the one hand and material generosity on the other. When Sun newspapers started in 2003 and I became the pioneer editor of the Sunday title, he put at my disposal the totality of his professional support, offering invaluable editorial advice. To ensure I succeeded, he began to write a weekly column for us and became our resourceful, omni-present “special contributor” from US, never failing to file rich human-angle stories and analyses every week.

Until his final return to Nigeria in 2006 to take up an appointment as Chairman of The Nation editorial board, I doubled as Sam’s literary agent locally. I attest that all his earnings by way of honoraria for newspaper writings and academic papers were given out as charity to people, sometimes total strangers whose pain or misery he merely read or heard about.

At a reception hosted in Lagos by Benita Obaze of Bevista in 2013 to mark my 40th birthday, Sam accepted without hesitation to be co-master of ceremonies, not minding the wide age gap between us.

Such is his power to give his all for joy and upliftment of others.

Louis Odion is the Senior Technical Assistant on Media to the President.

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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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