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Opinion: If INEC Postpones 2023 Elections… by Kayode Ajulo

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While I understand that the above state- ment has been credited to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I do not share the view that INEC would have made such statement at this crucial and eleventh hour.

My view is grounded against the backdrop that INEC, as the sole organ responsible for the preparation and conduct of elections in Nigeria, is well abreast with the relevant position of the law, and same would be lax to make such comments or publication.

Nevertheless, for the purpose of this discourse and exposing the position of the law and for the enlightenment of the unlearned, I find it pertinent to state my views.

Elections are the cornerstone of any democratic governance and political stability. Through elections, governments obtain the democratic mandate. They are a procedure typical for democratic systems, and Nigeria is a democratic country.

Smooth and uninterrupted conduct of elections as and when due, strengthens democracy, as every election is a sort of advancement of democracy.

Also, elections are pivotal to the quality of a country’s governance and can either greatly advance or set back a country’s progress, depending on its quality and credibility.

The Role of INEC in Elections
In recognition of the significance of elec- tions, our grundnorm, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) (“Constitution”) provides in Section 132 (1) thus:
“An election to the office of President shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission in accordance with the Electoral Act.”

Additionally, Section 178 provides that:
“An election to the office of Governor of a State shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission in accordance with the Electoral Act.”

These above constitutional provisions have therefore recognised elections, and also recognised Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the institution saddled with conducting elections in Nigeria.

Section 153(1)(f) provides for the creation of INEC. While Section 153(2) and paragraph 15(a) of Part 1 of the third schedule to the Constitution empowers INEC to conduct elections. The paragraph provides thus:
“The commission shall have power to organise, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a State, and to membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation”.

INEC & Postponement of Elections
The above are the fundamental pillars guiding the conduct of elections in Nigeria by the umpire saddled with that responsibility, which is INEC. It is also imperative to note that, INEC is empowered to postpone an election even after a date has been scheduled for the conduct of the election in prevailing circumstances.

The relevant law is the Electoral Act. Section 24 of the Act provides as follows:
24.—(1) In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as practicable, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.
(2) Where a date has been ap- pointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the elections as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the Commission may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area, or areas concerned, appoint another date for the holding of the postponed election, provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and verifiable.

Suffices to state that the above provisions are in pari materia with repealed Electoral Acts, and as such, same has been given judicial interpretation by the courts such as Dibiagwu v INEC(2012) LPELR-9831(CA), Nwoko v Osakwe & Ors (2009) LPELR- 4652(CA), Buhari v INEC (2009) NWLR (pt 1130) pg. 116. The Supreme Court in Sylva v INEC (2018) 18 NWLR Pt 1651 Pg. 310 at Pg. 348 endorsed the powers of INEC to postpone elections, to act urgently in aid to meet any emergency which occurs unexpectedly and could cause danger to innocent lives on the polling day.

The underlining factor however, is that INEC must ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.

As a corollary to the above, it is important to state that the Commission has the responsibility to advise the country on when it is suitable to conduct an election, mostly when there are unavoidable and critical circumstances that cannot be managed. The only truth is, there is no pressing and unmanageable situation in the country at the moment, that calls for election postponement. Unless INEC has failed, in its own preparations of over three years.

Since the advent of the Fourth Republic and Nigeria’s return to democracy, the country has had to deal with some surmountable security situations in one region of the country or the other, especially in the areas mentioned by INEC as excuse to propose a postponement, and I cannot remember a point when that has affected a major election owing to effective preparation in the area of security and other exigencies.

It is therefore, utterly disquieting and disturbing, to receive such allegation from INEC that suggests that 2023 election may be postponed due to insecurity in certain parts of the country, like the South East and North East. The simple reason being that, in the past, we have had two different elections that were conducted in the midst of heightened insurgency and insecurity, and one can only wonder what magic or tactics were employed to pull those elections off? Are those tactics unworkable at this time, when there is a mellow in insecurity problems?
Why does 2023 elections seem to be the exception?

And, whether there is more to this situation that INEC is not telling us. It is no news that the whole nation seems to be holding its breath in anticipation of the upcoming elections and the anxiety of Nigerians regarding the elections is almost palpable.

Why then should INEC believe that postponing the elections is in any way a good idea, considering the ‘special circumstances’ surrounding this particular elections?

Now, it is also necessary that we cast our minds back to the 2015 elections, during Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure as President. In the months leading up to the elections, the news circulated in the media was that a whole State had been overrun and claimed by insurgents, and that several Local Governments were under their control.

At the time, the narrative being mongered was that the elections were the solution to Nigeria’s insurgency problem, as General Muhammadu Buhari was the messiah that would come and save Nigeria from itself. Now, the essence of revisiting this is that, if at that time where, according to media reports, insurgency was at an all-time high, the elections were still successfully conducted, what begs for question now is, why does it now seem like conducting the 2023 elections in February as prescribed is an impossibility, even as Government has constantly reassured us that everything is under control and security in our nation is intact?

The Law
As a legal practitioner, I always opt to view things through the lens of the law; therefore, we must first of all consider the legality of conducting elections. It is no news that the Constitution is supreme and its provisions sacrosanct, and in order to successfully marshal the point, we must first look to the provisions of this Constitution.

Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution provides for the right of persons to form a political party or association. It states that:
“Every person shall be entitled to as- semble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union, or any other association for the protection of his interest, provided concerning that the provisions of this Section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by the Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission the Political Parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition”.

Section 78 of the Constitution provides that the registration of voters and the conduct of elections, shall be subject to the direction and supervision of INEC.

It can be deduced from the aforemen- tioned sections, that the Constitution as the apex law of the land recognises the right of Nigerian citizens to form and belong to the political parties of their choice, it recognises the existence of INEC, as well as its responsibility for the registration of voters and the conduct of elections.

We can therefore, infer that the Constitution recognises the legality of the conduct of elections, which is one of the essential and inviolable features of democracy.

In addition to the Constitution, the Electoral Act of 2022 (Electoral Act) also recognises and makes provisions for the legitimacy of the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Section 1 of the Act provides for the establishment of INEC, while Section 9 makes provision for the creation of the National Register of Voters and voters’ registration, it provides:
“The Commission shall compile, maintain, and update, on a continuous basis, a National Register of Voters (in this Act referred to as “the Register of Voters”) which shall include the names of all persons— (a) entitled to vote in any Federal, State, Local Government or Federal Capital Territory Area Council election; and (b) with disability status disaggregated by type of disability”.

Section 6 of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides:
“There is established in each State of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory and Local Government Area, an office of the Commission which shall perform such functions as may be assigned to it by the Commission”.

The preceding sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, make it abundantly clear that elections in Nigeria are legal, indispensable to a democratic State, and are fundamental in upholding the pillars of democracy in Nigeria.

At this juncture, there’s the need to interrogate the functions and duties of INEC vis-à-vis her commentary on the state of the nation’s security, which with all intent and purposes, has patently created palpable panic and confusion by hinting that elections might not hold in Nigeria, though the INEC Chairman, has since debunked this, claims that the elections will hold and not be postponed, no matter what.

INEC’s statutory function is to organise and monitor elections. Any fear the institution might have should be relayed to the executive arm of Government, and allow the executive to decide accordingly.

Preparing for elections is not a day’s job. As an international observer to the United Kingdom (UK) in the 2015 general elections, I noted that it took them 16 years to prepare for the election. INEC should learn lessons from that.

I salute the National Assembly for their role in the build up to this election. Dr Ahmad Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila’s led Legislative Houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives have done tremendously well in discharging their duties. They have passed the Electoral Act, 2022 to institutionalise credible elections in Nigeria.

The Judiciary, has also been exception- ally and actively alive to its responsibili- ties. Most cases emanating from political parties primaries have been effectively dispatched. Even as of this time, 8.17pm of penning my thoughts on this matter, we are still in Markudi, Benue State, to ensure that all election petition issues are resolved to give way to a free, fair and credible elections come February and March.

Intensive training of Lawyers and various law firms for election conduct and management purposes, is ongoing. Every hand is on deck as far as the Judiciary is concerned, and it is ready to deliver speedy and quality services to ensure the success is the 2023 elections. There is harmonious coordination of the Judiciary across States, with respect to the forthcoming 2023 elections.

It is imperative to state that the Judiciary under the leadership of my Lord Justice, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, is more than ready. What I have witnessed, is unprecedented in the history of preparation of the Judiciary for election conduct. The CJN and brother Justices have once again displayed and set a record of unmatchable and exemplary leadership in this regard, and the only worthy reward at the moment for his exceptional hard work is to conduct the 2023 election as stipulated.

The buck then lies with the President as the head of the Executive, to ensure that Nigerians are safe and can exercise their franchise in the 2023 general elections. The primary purpose of government is the security and welfare of the people. See Section 14 (2)(b) of the Constitution. This implies that citizens must be able to carry out their civic duties, in an atmosphere of peace and safety.

It is therefore, expected that elections which are backed by the law, must take its course, and it is the duty and responsibility of the State to deploy every apparatus to ensure a harmonious platform for every citizen to exercise their Constitutional guaranteed freedom of choice in any given election.

It must be pointed out that, may the day never come in Nigeria when non- State-actors would intimidate the State apparatus and institutions, to the point where the government will not be able to protect its citizens to perform their civic responsibility.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important to state that, for elections to be conducted, there must be an existing government armed with a responsibility to ensure that not only that the elections are conducted freely and credibly in a safe ambiance, but also that the law takes its due course. This fact is important, as it is a reflection of the Latin phrase Fiat justitia ruat cælum which means ‘let justice be done, though the heaven falls’.

We must therefore, understand that it is not impossible that the heavens may fall and injustice may reign, but, rather, there is the existence of certain figurative pillars holding up the heavens and ensuring that justice runs its due course.

These pillars are represented by the various governmental institutions we have in Nigeria, which are responsible for ensuring a free and fair election, that at the end of the day, justice prevails above all else. Examples of these institutions are the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Judiciary, the Armed Forces, Police Force and the Legislature.

As it is, there is palpable panic and confusion in the land. It is even affecting businesses. For instance, I am representing a client in an international transaction that has had to be put on hold because of the anxiety surrounding the 2023 elections.

I therefore, call on the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, H.E Muhammadu Buhari, to address Nigerians as the Chief Executive Officer of the country, on whose table the buck stops. The President should address the situation in the spirit of preserving our precious democracy, and allay our fears.

Dr. Ajulo is the Principal Partner, Castle Law Chambers, Abuja

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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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