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The Oracle: NEPA, PHCN DISCOs: How Nigerians Pay for Darkness (Pt. 2)

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By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

In part one, we traced the history and trajectory of ECN, NEPA or PHCN. It has been further broken down into DISCOS. It appears as if the more reforms we bring in, the more moribund it becomes. There is virtually no light. Yet, we pay for darkness. Where you argue or demure, you are immediately disconnected. We have no voice at all.

PRESENT CHALLENGES IN THE POWER SECTOR

The challenges in the power sector are gargantuan. Let us discuss source of them.

GENERATION

Nigeria has an estimated population of 216.1 million people as at June 18, 2022 by UN projection. Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea, with dense rainforest and rare primate habitats. She has 19 dams and is one of the countries with the highest gas reserves which is estimated at 206.53 trillion cubic fact. This was discovered accidently while Nigeria was searching for oil. In the United States, it was reported that natural gas was the largest source about 40% of U.S. electricity generation in the year 2020, while coal constitutes 19% of the source of electricity. Nigeria also holds 379 million tons (MMst) of proven coal reserves as of 2016, ranking 44th in the world.

As at 2016, Nigeria holds 37,070 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, ranking 10th in the world. She also has great potential to develop its solar power energy due to its high amount of sunlight. These are means of generating electricity. Thus, when I stated, at the introduction to this article, that Nigeria’s potential for growth was unquantifiable, I was not mincing words. Nigeria’s installed electricity capacity stands at 18000 megawatts.

GLOBAL ANALYSIS OF ELECTRICITY GENERATION

From the data derived from the official website of the International Trade Administration, Nigeria’s power generation is mostly thermal and hydro with installed capacity of about 12,522 megawatts. Out of this meager capacity of hers, she generates just 5000 megawatts. In the Punch’s report of 21st June, 2018, the Executive Director, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, noted that Nigeria must generate at least 180,000 megawatts of electricity to have adequate and stable power supply.  He noted, also, that South Africa, with 60.7 million people, generates 48,000 megawatts and is working to increase the generation to 79,000MW. Electricity production in South Africa is expected to rise to 19300.00 Gigawatt – hour.

In terms of human and natural resources, Nigeria is among the countries lagging behind in terms of power generation capacity. Egypt, for example, with a population of about 106.107 million people, has power generation capacity of 59,53 megawatts. In a magazine published by Egypt today (14th April, 2021), it was reported that Egypt was able to jump 68 ranks in terms of electricity production from the 145th rank to the 77th, and that the success was attributed to public investments directed at upgrade and expansion in the sector. According to USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), Ghana, with a population of 32.37 million, currently has over 5,300 MW of installed generation capacity. Rwanda, on the other hand, has a population of about 13.6 million. According to USAID, Rwanda currently has only about 218 MW of installed generation capacity. Tunisia, with a population of 12.046 million people, has a current power production capacity of 5,653 megawatts (MW) installed in 25 power plants.

The United Kingdom has a population of 67.44 million (2021). From statistics gotten from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2021), installed capacity for electricity generation in the UK increased gradually between 1996 and 2018, from 73.6 GW to 101.2 GW. However, in 2019 and 2020, total capacity fell following the closure of several large coal-fired plants, and the mix of plants shifted towards renewable different technologies. Overall, there has been a decline in conventional steam, outweighed initially by an increase in combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and more recently by an increase in renewable. CCGT capacity increased almost threefold over the period 1996-2012, from 12.7 GW to 35.5 GW. In 2020, the electricity sector‘s grid supply came from 55% low-carbon power (including 24.8% from wind, 17.2% nuclear power, 4.4% solar, 1.6% hydroelectricity, 6.5% biomass), 36.1% fossil fuelled power (almost all from natural gas), and 8.4% imports. Renewable power is showing strong growth, while fossil fuel generator use in general and coal use in particular is shrinking, with historically dominant coal generators now mainly being run in winter due to pollution and costs, and contributed just 1.6% of the supply in 2020. In 2020, the U.S. net electricity generation stood at approximately four petawatt hours, more than double the generation reported half a century earlier. The North American country is the second largest electricity producer worldwide, ranking only behind China. While its annual electricity output has remained fairly stable in the past decade. America with a population of 332,403,650 currently generates 1,143,757 Megawatts of electricity. This is about 1.14 billion kilowatts. Compare this with Nigeria’s pitiation 5000 megawatts with a staggering population of 216.1 million people.

TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION

The challenge in the Nigerian power sector is not only seen in the area of generation but also in transmission. There have been serial reports of grid collapse in Nigeria. The Guardian (13th of May, 2021) had reported  another incident of national grid collapse; and noted that the development made it the 29th time in the last three years that the country had experienced grid collapse.  On 23rd August, 2021, Punch reported another case of national grid collapse for the second time in less than a month, worsening the blackout being experienced by households and businesses in parts of Nigeria. According to Nairametrics, data gotten from the year 2020 from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), from 2013 when the electricity sector privatization was completed to 2020, showed that the grid failed 84 times and partially collapsed 43 times. Nigeria is literally hanging out there in darkness.

EXORBITANT PRICES

The continuous rise in the prices of electricity tariffs and the unaffordable nature of electricity units have been an issue moaned by many Nigerians in their homes and businesses. This is worsened by the fact that the amount of usage by these households and businesses do not seem to adequately equate the prices paid to these power holding companies for the provision of electricity. Most Nigerians cannot afford this with their non-living wage. Businesses are relocating to neighbouring countries on a yearly basis. Nigeria now even imports from companies now domiciled in these neighbouring countries, but which used to be in Nigeria. It is so pitiable.

FACTIONALIZATION OF UNIONS

Workers are forever threatened with downsizing, rightsizing, rationalising and other terms that connote retrenchment of workers. This characterized the privatization regime. The aim of privatization was actually to maximise profits by reducing cost as much as possible through plugging of leakages and retrenchment of workers. The idea of divide and rule thus came in. This negates the idea of gainful employment and the provision of jobs by any responsible government; or at least create a conducive environment for such privatisation created poverty and has impacted negatively the unemployed in the society, while enriching the foreign actors, rather than the Nigerian economy as initially planned.

CORRUPTION AND CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION

The idea behind privatization of electricity in Nigeria was originally largely to de-monopolise the power sector and diversify ownership from the Nigerian Government. This was however not a full diversification, since the government through some companies still maintained shares in the power sector. This has unfortunately given way to many corrupt practices by staff of these power holding organisations. Because the main aim of capitalism is profit, these companies are not affected by the negative effects their companies wreak on the society. They are basically interested in how much profits can be generated by their companies. These is why these companies are continuously increase tariff rates and also reduce the quality of their supply so as to achieve such grotesque profits at the expense of the members of the society who become their victims.

STRIKES AND CONTINUOUS THREATS ON SUBSIDY

The Nigerian government holds some quantum of shares in the power holding companies, these companies are viewed more as public companies, rather than as private companies. This has caused more harm than good to the Nigerian power sector. This has led to increase in strikes and threats of further strikes. The result is that the power holding companies have held Nigerian governments and the Nigerian people in a strangulating. They do not allow for effective growth in the power sector. Constant strikes on grounds of fighting issues of subsidy and subsidy related-matters has also caused a deficit in the power sector and brought it to its knees.

PRIVATIZATION OF THE POWER SECTOR IN NIGERIA

Major issues within the Nigerian power sector, principally concerning power outages and unreliable service, had forced the Nigerian government to take radical steps. It enacted the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, which called for unbundling the national power utility company into a series of 18 successor companies: six generation companies, 12 distribution companies covering all 36 Nigerian states, and a national power transmission company. The Act stipulated that ownership of these companies be granted to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the privatization arm of the federal government; and the Ministry of Finance Incorporated. This unbundling paved the way for an ambitious privatization programme to be carried out by the Bureau of Public Enterprises in Nigeria.  In 2007, the Bureau of Public Enterprises hired CPCS Transcom Limited, an international consulting firm based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, give expert advice about the best ways to move forward with the privatization of the country’s then 11 distribution companies and the 6 generation companies. In 2010, CPCS was consulted again to provide advice on the Nigerian government’s privatization program.

Following the privatization process initiated on the 30th of September, 2013, by the Goodluck Jonathan regime, PHCN ceased to exist. In its stead, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was birthed. This independent regulatory agency, as provided in the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, was tasked with monitoring and regulating the Nigerian electricity industry, with issuing licences to market participants, and with ensuring compliance with market rules and operating guidelines.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“We cannot be mere consumers of good governance, we must be participants; we must be co-creators”. (Rohini Nilekani).

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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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