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Opinion: Placing “Place Holders” Placeless

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By Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D

INTRODUCTION

The APC political contraption never ceases to amaze and confound me. It intrigues me to no end. This is a party ( is it really one, going by the text book definition of a political in political Science ?) that rose from its often predicted imminent disintegration into smithereens, like a phoenix from its ashes, in a groggy, fumbling, wobbling, dawdling and near crumbling manner, to holding its first ever National Convention in March, 2022. At this swordy Convention, daggers were drawn and former two time PDP Governor and Senator, Abdullahi Adamu, was virtually crudely shoved down the already parched throats of majority of the APC members who had preferred former Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura as National Chairman. It was simply a triumph of a powerful minority cabal over a silent helpless majority. I had predicted this when I vigorously kicked against consensus as a substitute for direct primaries in the new Electoral Act of 2022.

THE TINUBU ABRACADABRA

The APC unsurprisingly harvested a turbulent National Primaries Convention on 9th June, 2022, where Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu valiantly shrugged off sustained attempts to muzzle him out of the presidential race through unorthodox means by a cabal believed to be working for President Muhammadu Buhari. Indeed, the “palace coup” executed by this faceless cabal headed by newly selected Adamu (they called it “election by consensus”), had told the whole world that the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, had been anointed as the “consensus candidate”.

Tinubu, a political maestro, reached for his talismanic bag of “politricks”, fished out an abracadabra magical charm in a deft political move that led to some presidential aspirants stepping down for him right at the very venue of the Convention.

This was after the Northern APC Governors had unanimously and roundly rejected Adamu’s flown kite of “consensus” for Lawan. The NWC of the APC later completed the rejection of the Lawan farce. Tinubu later trounced Ahmed Lawan who garnered a miserable 152 votes (coming 4th position) with 1,271 winning votes. Tinubu also dusted Rotimi Amaechi (316 votes) to second position; while cerebral lawyer, Prof Yemi Osibanjo (whom many had thought taciturn and inscrutinable president Buhari would naturally hand over to, having served him with total loyalty and fidelity for 7 years), came sprawling on his belly to the third position, with a miserly 235 votes. In Nigeria, politics is politricks. It defies logic and sense.

“PLACE HOLDER” ZOOMS IN

So, APC continues to taunt us. From high-falutin and unfulfilled promises of 2015 and 2019 (robust economy; defeating boko haram and insecurity; killing corruption), the APC has now drawn us into a new era where it has introduced a new political terminology into our political lexicon and vocabulary. It is called “place holder”. Editor of Thisday Lawyer pages, daringly courageous, fecund, cerebral and intellectually-grounded writer, social critic and upscale layer, Onikepo Braithwaite (her mother is chief (Mrs) Priscilia Kuye, former NBA President; a fruit does not fall far away from the mother tree), provided us with a most apt title: “RUNNING MATE; DUMMY MATE!! This is one of the best titles I have ever seen as a journalist and writer myself. Thank you, Onikepo, for standing firm and nationalistic.

WHAT IS PLACE HOLDER?

The Free Dictionary defines “placeholder” as “One who holds an office or place, especially as a deputy, proxy, or appointed government official”.
Princeton’s Word Net sees placeholder “As a proxy, procurator; a person authorized to act for another.
Dictionary.com defines it as “something that makes or temporarily fills a place”.

A “Dummy candidate”, says Wikipedia, on the other hand (another terminology for placeholder), is a candidate who stands for election, usually with no intention or realistic chance of winning. Wikipedia is more exhaustive. It says
“a dummy candidate can serve any of the following purposes:

“In instant-runoff voting, a dummy candidate may direct preferences to other candidates in order to increase the serious candidate’s share of the vote.
“A dummy candidate may be used by a serious candidate to overcome limits on advertising or campaign financing. In India, for example there have been cases of serious candidates fielding multiple dummy candidates to distribute their poll expenses. The expenses are directed towards the campaign of the serious candidate, but shown to the election commission under the dummy candidates’ names.

“Dummy candidates with names similar to that of a more established candidate may be fielded by political parties to confuse the voters, and cut that candidate’s vote share. The dummy candidate’s name also may be deceptively similar to that of a retiring incumbent”.

THE PRESIDENT AND VP AS SIAMESE TWINS

The office of the President is an office that demands two good heads, having regard to the premium placed on the office. The Vice-President is not a substitute for the president: he is an ever-present partner, help and associate. While a person cannot occupy the office of the President in perpetuity, the office of the president remains perpetual. Every President must have a Vice-Present. The relation is like that of Siamese twins, tied together by the same umbilical cord. This is why some people have erroneously regarded a VP as a “spare tyre”. No, he is not! Can a “place holder” substitute for this?

The relationship between the President and the VP actually starts before the conduct of any election. As a matter of fact, Section 142 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) (1999 Constitution) provides that:

“… a candidate for an election to the office of President shall not be deemed to be validly nominated unless he nominates another candidate as his associate from the same political party for his running for the office of President, who is to occupy the office of Vice-President and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Vice-President if the candidate for election to the office of President who nominated him as such associate is duly elected as president…”

There are at least five principles embedded in the provision above. First, every President must have a VP. Second, the validity of the nomination of a candidate for the office of the President is predicated solely on him nominating another candidate who shall serve as the VP. Third, if the nomination of a candidate to the office of the VP is provisional, the nomination of a candidate for the office of the President is provisional as well. Fourth, anything that invalidates the nomination of a candidate to the office of the VP, equally affects the candidate for the office of the President. Fifth, the candidate for the office of the President nominates the candidate for the office of the VP and is deemed to have acquiesced and agreed to be bound by any danger inherent his nominee. Sixth, the nominee and the nominator must belong to the same political party.
The nomination of a candidate for the office of the President and that of the VP is therefore joint. If the nomination of the candidate for the office of the VP is provisional, that of the President is equally provisional. It is inchoate. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. This is the first legal implication of taking a dangerous step such as this.
The intermediate court dilated on this relationship in quite an extensive manner in Atiku Abubakar v. Attorney-General, Fed. (2007) 3 NWLR (Pt 1022) 601 at 642. The Court held, Per Abdullahi, PCA, as follows:

“The President and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are jointly elected at a general election and the relationship between them is not that of a master and servant. In other words, the vice president is not an employee of the President or of the political party on whose platform they are both elected. In the instant case, the plaintiff not being an employee of the President or the political party on whose platform he was elected, he cannot be impliedly or constructively removed by either of them. “The Vice president, not being an employee cannot be impliedly or constructively removed. Assuming he qualifies as an employee, without, for a moment so deciding, his employer would most manifestly be the people of Nigeria, who elected him to the office, acting through their representatives in the national assembly but certainly not the President of the Federal republic of Nigeria nor the sponsoring political party. This assumption is based on the cliche that the power to hire is the power to fire embedded in Section 11 of the Interpretation Act. See Longe v. First Bank of Nigeria Plc (2005) ALL FWLR (Pt. 260) 65. In other words, this matter is a matter that falls squarely within the contemplation of Section 143 of the Constitution which expressly provides for the removal of the President and Vice President from office.”

THE LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF PLACING A PLACE HOLDER

At this stage, it is important, I clarify that a “candidate” for an election is different from the holder of the office of a VP. Section 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022, defines a candidate as a person who has secured the nomination of a political party to contest an election for any elective office. It is only the winning of an election that changes or translates a candidate to a VP. However, one need not be a candidate for an election before he can become a VP. This is because a VP is automatically selected as a running mate by a presidential candidate.

A political party bears the consequences of not submitting at all, or submitting an invalid candidate for an election. This is because by section 131(c) of the Constitution, a candidate for an election to the office of President must be sponsored by a political party. Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, states that a political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections shall organise primaries for the aspirants under the supervision of the Independent National Electoral Commission. Section 29(1) of the Electoral Act mandates every political party to submit to INEC, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for the general election, the candidates it is sponsoring in that general election. The submission of candidate to INEC constitutes a definite and unambiguous statement of the intent of the political party to have that candidate only as its representatives in the election. The nomination of a candidate and submission of his name by that political party to INEC therefore seals the sponsorship of a candidate for an election. Once the window of nomination closes, all parties become functus officio.

CAN THERE BE A SURROGATE RUNNING MATE?

Who then is a placeholder in relation to a candidate? A placeholder is not a candidate for an election. He is an unknown person who has the seal of a political party to occupy the position of an unknown person; a mere faceless surrogate. His position creates uncertainty in a political party as his presence can mar or invalidate the nomination of his principal. This person is clearly unknown to law and the political party that submits such an unknown person to INEC is deemed to be aware of its wrongdoing and must ready to face the consequences of its gamble.
The APC Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, had nominated Ibrahim Masari, a Katsina politician, as the party’s place holder or dummy candidate, for his yet to be named running mate, so as to beat the INEC deadline.

Masari had served the APC as its National Welfare Secretary under the Adams Oshiomhole – led, National Working Committee (NWC). It is believed that the issue of Tinubu having a Muslim-Muslim ticket (Prof Babangida Zulum of Borno State is said to be the preferred one) is tearing the party apart. Can they repeat the Abiola-Babagana “Hope 93” successful Muslim-Muslim joint ticket with the present state of the nation where religion is tearing apart? Only time will tell.

Similarly, the Labour party’s Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, is reported to have also opted to submit the name of his campaign Director General, Doyin Okupe, as his dummy/ place holding running mate.

Whereas section 29(1) of the 2022 Electoral Act, as amended, provides that political parties shall submit names of their candidates, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for the general election, Section 31 of the Act also gives the political parties an opportunity to withdraw and substitute their candidates, not later than 90 days before the election
Section 31 states that “A candidate may withdraw his candidature by notice in writing signed by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for such election and the political party shall covey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election”.

The Commission had as part of its administrative arrangements given up till 6pm of Friday June 17, 2022, as deadline for the submission of names of candidates for the Presidential and National Assembly election; and 15th July, 2022, for the Governors and State Assembly candidates.

In fulfillment of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, the Commission gave July 15, 2022, as last day for withdrawal by candidates and replacement of withdrawn candidates by the political parties.

Similarly, the Commission also gave the parties up to August 12 for the withdrawal and replacement of withdrawn candidates by the political parties.

This means that the parties who are still facing crises over the choice of running mates still have until the July 15, 2022, to substitute the names being forwarded at the moment, with respect to the Presidential candidates.

Section 31 of the Electoral Act provides that a candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by that candidate to the political party that nominated him for the election and the Political party shall convey the withdrawal to INEC not later than 90 days before the election. “Candidate” under the Electoral Act, 2022, has a fixed meaning. The law did not say a candidate “includes”. It says it means. The question that calls for dispassionate determination is whether a placeholder qualifies as a candidate who has secured the nomination of his political party to contest an election? The answer can only be answered in the negative. Its identity speaks for itself. If a placeholder is not a candidate, then he is not a person known to law and envisaged by the law. Its nomination and the subsequent submission of this non-existent being to INEC is not a misnomer that can be remedied by replacement or withdrawal under Section 31. Its nomination and submission to INEC seals the fate of the political party that submitted its name.

ANY ESCAPE ROUTE?

The political parties have already submitted names of candidates. Section 142(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)(the Constitution) clearly provides that the a Presidential candidate must nominate his running mate from the same political party. While Chapter VIII of the PDP Constitution provides for the nomination of candidates for election into public office; Article 20 of the APC Constitution provides for elections into elective positions and appointments. These are clear enough.

Having established that the existence of a placeholder is unknown to law, can this non-existent entity be replaced or substituted by a candidate? Some principles of law might be of help to us here. In the case of ANEGE & ORS v. ALANEME & ORS (2020) LPELR-50445(CA), Per Muhammed Lawal Shuaibu, JCA, considered at pages 19 – 22 whether the court can grant an amendment for the substitution of a non juristic person with a juristic person. He held thus:

“… I have right from the onset stated that after filing the notice of preliminary objection by the defendant at the lower Court, the claimants thereafter filed a motion on notice to substitute the unregistered “Ideato Welfare Association” with “The Registered Trustees of Ideato Cultural and Welfare Association, Calabar” or to amend the status of the 1st and 3rd defendants to show that they are principal officers of the Registered Trustees of Ideato Cultural and Welfare Association, Calabar. A misnomer when associated with issues of juristic personality and mis-description of names of parties simply means the “wrong use of a name or a mistake in naming a person, place or thing, especially in a legal instrument which should ordinarily not lead to a nullification of the proceedings. In other word, a misnomer in the context of litigation occurs where the entity suing or intended to be sued exists, but a wrong name is used to describe that entity. The Supreme Court had recently restated the legal position in APGA Vs Ubah & Ors (2019) LPELR – 48132 (SC) held that if the entity intended to be sued exist but a wrong name is used to describe it, that is a misnomer. The Supreme Court has inter alia held that naming a non-juristic person as a party is not a misnomer and amending same to substitute a juristic person is out of it. This is so because there cannot be a valid amendment of the title of a suit since there never was a legal person who was brought before the Court by the action. And since to be competent a suit must be instituted between legally juristic persons, failing which it is incompetent and a juristic party cannot subsequently be amended to take the place of a non-juristic party originally sued. The correction made by the lower Court by replacing a non-juristic person with one with legal capacity was done without jurisdiction….”

Was a shadowing, ghost and non recognized “placeholder” or “dummy mate” ever contemplated by the Electoral Act of 2022, as a juristic person? I think not. Mr Sheriff Machina has already introduced this dangerous step through his “Deus ex Machina”, by bluntly refusing to step down for Senate President, Ahmed Lawan. Supposing Kabiru Masari, Ahmed Tinubu’s “dummy mate” proves stubborn and refuses to kowtow? What happens? Assuming Dr Doyin Okupe, Peter Obi’s D-G and place holder refuses to yield? What is INEC’s position on these? I see some legal fireworks in the offing in the next few days and weeks ahead. Politrics and Politricians!!!

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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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