Connect with us

Opinion

The Oracle: When Govt Deregulates Nigerian People’s Lives

Published

on

By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

The total deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector by this clueless and anti-people government amounts to nothing but deregulating the already miserable lives of Nigerians. No government can be more insensate and insensitive to the plight of the already overburdened common man and common woman in Nigeria. On the three key indices of governance by President Muhammadu Buhari when he campaigned for the office of President in 2014-2015, he has failed, abysmally, on them all, economy, security and anti-corruption. We shall analyse these areas.

WHAT IS DEREGULATION?

Deregulation of the petroleum sector simply means that the government will no longer be making petroleum products available to the public, but will now allow its price to be determined by the market forces of demand and supply.

DEREGULATION IN SOME COUNTRIES

Deregulation policy has been embraced by many countries across the world, such as Peru, Argentina, Philippines, Canada, USA, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand and Venezuela. These countries have thereby systematically dismantled their state-owned oil companies in favour of private sector participation.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF FULL DEREGULATION

Before this clueless government besieges us with inanities and cheap economics as regards why total deregulation is necessary, let me quickly inform it that every Tom, Dick and Harry already knows the benefits of total deregulation. It is so trite and elementary that it is no rocket science.

Total deregulation enables the private sector to drive petroleum policy by establishing and operating refineries, refining jetties and depots, importing and exporting petroleum products and converting crude oil to refined and petrochemical products, finer chemicals, gas treatment, as well as transporting and marketing the products.

WHY NIGERIANS ARE ANGRY

What Nigerians are angry at is the bare-faced hypocrisy of this government, whose major actors and actresses literally bayed for the blood of President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2012 for daring to remove subsidy and jerking up petroleum price to N141 per litre. Even after reducing it to N97, they conspired with some civil society organisations (CSOs), the organised labour, “Occupy Nigeria” group, etc, from about 2nd to 12th January, 2012, to fight Jonathan. Many genuine and fake emergency rights activists and historical revisionists were also recruited. They grounded Nigeria and forced Jonathan out of power. From Abuja, Minna, Lagos (especially Ojota), Ilorin, Ibadan, Lokoja to Kano, Nasarawa and Asaba, Nigeria’s government was completely shut down. There was mass hysteria, anger, arson, tears, sorrow and blood, forcing Jonathan to beat a hasty retreat. Nigerians are today more angry because the government of the same dramatis personae has conspired to exacerbate their pains and pangs through the insensate and insensitive timing of the deregulation. They are angry that it is doing so at a time when other decent countries of the world are giving succour to their citizens with palliatives, and cushioning the searing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nations across the world are providing social welfare, subsidising essential goods and products, pumping money into the economy, giving free rents, food, medicaments, necessaries, tax holidays, mortgages, recesses, etc, to their citizens. In Nigeria, the reverse is the case.

FACT VERSUS FICTION

So, before the government cheaply sermonises that deregulation will provide employment to millions of Nigerians directly and indirectly, we must remind it that the hike in petroleum prices, which has gone to over N180 in some cities, will and has, indeed, already increased inflation and worsened the living standard of already poor Nigerians.

Before the government thumps its chest and gloats over deregulation as attracting new foreign direct investment in the petroleum industry, expanding downstream sector, increasing competition and improving the refineries, pipelines, trucks, depots and filling stations, and ultimately leading to cheaper prices, let me tell the same government that it is the common man and woman that bear the full brunt at the end of the day. Prices of commodities have simply tripled, thus, increasing their woes, miseries and harsh living environment.

Before this directionless government inundates us with the recycled story that it is the “big men and women,” corrupt politicians and roguish importers who have been enjoying regulation and subsidy and so must be stopped, let me tell the same government that these same classes of people have now increased geometrically under the same government. Where mere rodents and millipedes crawled in the sector before now, they have, since 2015, metamorphosed into deadly vipers, vampires, rattle snakes and blood-suckers.

Before this government pontificates that deregulation will ultimately be beneficial to the Nigerian people, let me inform the same government that price regulation (in spite of its obvious disadvantages) in a country like Nigeria, which has a mono-product, has dire consequences and negative multiplier effects on the socio-economic and political life of already impoverished Nigerians, whose lives of despondency have continually been played like a yoyo on the political chessboard of guinea-pig Nigerians. Let the government know that, under Section 14 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.

The government must be told that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority” (Section 14 (1) (a)).

Let the government know that it has no fiscal discipline and that price stability is required in a “disarticulate economy” (as put by the late Prof. Claude Ake), where Nigeria produces goods she cannot consume (crude oil) and consumes goods she cannot produce (petrol). Let this compassless government know that total removal of petroleum subsidy is a volatile and politically sensitive matter in a developing country like Nigeria, which is replete with massive corruption, religious and ethnic cleavages, low per capita income on a non-living wage, high unemployment rate, infrastructural decay, ignorance, superstition, zero welfare system, and high population growth. Here comes the Malthusian Theory of Population.

According to the great economist, Thomas Robert Malthus, who propounded the theory, there must be a way to establish a balance between population growth and food supply, through preventive positive checks. The theory is based on the reality of “exponential population and arithmetic food supply growth.”

Let this government be reminded that deregulation means further devaluation of the already weakened naira, which now exchanges for between N450 and N480 per dollar, whereas it exchanged for between N157.4 to N158.7 to the dollar in 2012, when President Jonathan deregulated, and Nigerians immediately beat him back with bare knuckles. Remind this propagandist government that it is under it that a snake allegedly swallowed N36 million; that we had an alleged corrupt grass-cutting SGF (N544.1 million); that we had a former head of the Pension Fund who allegedly fraudulently “chopped” over N100 billion pension fund; where N378 billion ($1.05m) allegedly grew wings and flew away from NNPC’s coffers; where ICPC uncovered alleged N18.62 billion padding scam by some MDAs; and where contractors in CBN and MDAs allegedly inflated contracts to the tune of N26.86 billion, among others.

Let this government learn that it is severely and gravely contradicting itself by rejecting the much overdue restructuring of Nigeria, while at the same time embracing wholesome deregulation. The government does not appear to appreciate that deregulation must inevitably lead to restructuring, in which the oil-bearing states and communities will be positioned to control and manage their own God-given resources.

Let this government appreciate that no private investor, especially foreigners, will ever come and invest in a Nigerian economy that is “fantastically corrupt” (President Muhammadu Buhari’s own words); where there is sustained disobedience to court orders; where rule of law is observed more in breach than in adherence; and where the fundamental rights of the citizens are trampled upon with impunity.

REVISITING HISTORY

In 2011, nearly nine years ago, I had reacted to the NBA’s own reaction to President Jonathan’s then planned removal of petroleum subsidy. The NBA had argued that subsidy removal was good, but that the time was not ripe for it. I had waded in and argued as follows, on November 30, 2011, (an argument I have not seen any reason to depart from 9 years later):

“In jurisdictions where subsidy is removed, the infrastructure are in good shape, hospitals are in good shape and the roads, very good. There’s water, abundant health facilities and educational opportunities. Capacity building and employment opportunities are there. But, in the case of Nigeria, the common man is already bearing the brunt of impoverishment within the society. To remove fuel subsidy now is to further impoverish that common man…

“For us to remove the subsidy now, the common man will be trampled upon. So, the NBA is saying some of infrastructural facilities should be put in place before the subsidy is removed…

“In Nigeria, economic forces do not appear to obey or honour the Newtonian Law of motion. The law of motion propounded by Isaac Newton states that everything that goes up must come down. But, in Nigeria, when it goes up, it continues to go up, up and up…

“So, what the NBA is saying is that we agree that the oil subsidy would be removed, but phase it in a timeline of about seven years doing A, B, C and D; break the backbone of the cartel and build more refineries, remove corruption and leakages.

“Then begin to repair the existing refineries, licence more private people to build more refineries. After all, the Igbos were refining crude oil during the civil war. And they were using it to run their vehicles. So, what happened, 41 years after the end of the civil war in January 1970, that we cannot refine our oil?

“My argument is subsidising your products is a misnomer. A farmer does not subsidise his yam to be able to eat it. If we produce crude oil, we should be able to enjoy crude oil as a God-given gift, without having to pay the same rate, which obtains internationally, because it is an advantage that we have oil. We cannot live by the river and still wash out hands with spittle. But, from all indications, it appears that, at the end of the day, whether today or tomorrow, or five years’ time, there is no way we cannot deregulate this sector of the economy because that is the norm across the world. But, first, put in place facilities that will cushion the inevitable inconveniences and suffering that will emanate from subsidy removal.

“The government should also ensure it curbs corruption that has always beset the sector. Between 1981 and 1982 when I was a youth corper, I bought a small Subaru car, I was fueling it with 20 kobo from Lagos to Agenebode. But, today, you need an average of about N20, 000 to fuel the same car. The question is: Why has there been a geometrical increase in the prices of oil without a comparative geometrical increase in the comfort and living standards of the people?”

Six years later, I am vindicated. I now say, ten years later, I am today more vindicated.

FUN TIMES

“Interviewer: Why do you want to work with us?

Job seeker: Can you do all the work alone?”

 THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“Deregulation is the government code word for facilitating corporate fraud.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

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

Published

on

By

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.

Continue Reading

Adding Value

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

Published

on

By

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

Continue Reading

Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: An Exercise in Futility

Published

on

By

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.

Continue Reading

Trending

%d bloggers like this: