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Food for Living: You’re Work in Progress

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By Henry Ukazu

Greetings Destiny Friends,

Man, by nature, is insatiable. He is endowed with the tendency to always crave for more, especially the good things of life. And when he gets one, he immediately desires another, and the circle continues. That’s simply human nature for you. Progressive minds always set a target for themselves, and once they meet the target, they move to another target. Entrepreneurs are not left out in this struggle, in fact, they top the list in this category.

Entrepreneurs work day and night to develop a product, and in the process they experience challenges which makes some of them give up. According to Aditya Roy Kapur, “what we normally see is the finished product, someone’s performance on screen, but behind the scenes, a lot goes into it’. This is just the lifestyle of any entrepreneur or great mind who has been able to succeed. However, it is our human nature to always feel downcast whenever our demands are not met.

With the innovation of social media and technology, a lot of people have given up on life. The internet is awash with stories of people who have committed suicide just by watching other people’s lifestyles on social media. They had come to the conclusion that other people are living their best lives and exploring opportunities while they are merely existing. Some people have been pressurized to be what they are not; please relax, you’re on a different path and lane, everybody has their own race to run. According to Jesse Eisenberg “I don’t concern myself with thinking ahead to the finished product. I focus more specifically on what the character is experiencing. Once you relieve yourself of the very arbitrary and always punishing pressure of what an audience is expecting you to do, acting becomes a lot more fun and pure”. Moral:  You’re a product in the making, so maintain your lane.

Nobody, country, business, etc has it all figured out completely; they are all work in progress. Most people think some have figured it out completely either because they are rich or have life working smoothly for them. A typical example is the United States of America. Most people think USA has no problem. But that’s not the case, the USA has its own challenges. In the words of one of the most cerebral US Presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘I do not look upon these United States as a finished product. We are still in the making”. That goes to tell you, daily, the USA seeks for better ways to improve their technology, health sector, business, and political environment.

It’s a well-established fact; nobody has overnight success, real success takes time and effort, just like the saying, Rome was not built in a day. As humans, we like finished projects because it looks attractive. When a product, car, food, cloth, or even education is not completed, it always appears unattractive and no one likes to be associated with such persons or product.

Even as humans, sometimes we feel the whole world has left us behind. If we are honest with ourselves, we have one secret frustration which the world wouldn’t even notice. We are the ones secretly having the pain. The pain/feeling can be not being married, not having money despite having a huge fan base on social media. It can also relate to medical challenges. Despite these challenges, I have good news for you; it’s not over until it’s over. You’re a work in progress.

Succeeding in life entails a lot of sacrifice, hard and smart work, a bit of luck, great networking, knowledge, wisdom and understanding amongst other skills. It may seem so painful when we do what we are supposed to do and still don’t get the desired result. If you have an ambition or desire to create a product, you may want to ask yourself, what’s your why? What’s your vision; and most importantly, what’s your passion? I say this because most people engage in business, academic endeavors, and even marital engagement without having a good foundation or understanding of what is required, and when they experience misfortune or have challenges, they begin to give up.

A practical way to succeed in an endeavor is by knowing yourself. Self-discovery is one of the hardest things we can do in life. When you know yourself, it will be easy to figure your path. When you figure out your path, the next thing you want to do is to maintain your lane. Focusing on your lane helps to build expertise in a particular field or industry. You may be wondering how to create a path and build expertise on a particular lane. A medical or law student may after graduation from college decide to specialize in a particular area of his profession. It can be surgery or internal medicine for a medical professional or civil right or criminal law for a law graduate.

What most people fail to understand is the difference between profession, vocation and ministry. Your profession is what you are trained to do, your vocation is what you are paid to do, your ministry is your calling and what you should be living for. Understanding these concepts will go a long way to figure out how you live your life because they’ll help you to finish your race and finish well.

As you forge ahead in your craft, try as much as possible to be at peace with yourself, trust the process, appreciate the mistakes, disappointments, failures and betrayals if any, because they are all parts of the success story. When you reach a crossroad, listen to your inner still voice and trust your gut/intuition. Don’t force or try to change what you cannot control or change. Let nature take its course because you are work in progress.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. 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 and President of gloemi.com. He can be reached via info@gloemi.com

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Ondo Monarchs Urge South West Governors to Cage Killer Herdsmen

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The Ondo State Council of Obas, on Thursday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to caution his aides who comment on security of the country.

The traditional rulers, who reacted over the comments made by some aides of the President on the order of Akeredolu ejecting the herdsmen from all the forest reserves in the state, said the move was not to chase out the Fulani in the state but to save it from the activities of the bandits.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of meeting of the monarchs in Akure, which was read by a former Chairman of the council and the Olukare of Ikareland, Oba Akadiri Momoh.

The monarchs said, “We are calling on President Buhari to show to the world that he is a father of all irrespective of ethnic affiliation as well as cautioned his aides to exercise restraints on issues that border on insecurity in the country.”

The obas urged “the governors in the South-West region, the South-West caucus in the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to use constitutional means to rein the rampaging criminals masquerading as herdsmen across the region.”

The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Charles Titiloye, declared that the state had no plan to send anti-open grazing bill to the state House of Assembly at the moment.

He said what was on ground in the state currently was the order of the governor to be complied with within seven days.

Titiloye said, “I may not be able to reply whether the state is planning to send the anti-grazing bill or not because the governor has given an order and after the seven days ultimatum and there is no compliance, then we shall know what to do next.”

Reacting to the claim by the Northern Elders Forum that the herdsmen had freedom of movement, the commissioner explained that the governor’s order had not restrained anybody’s movement, but to flush out criminal elements among herdsmen in the state.

He said, “We are not restraining any movement. Forests have been turned to hideouts of criminals and in order to identify the real herdsmen and the criminal ones; that is why the order of the governor came.

“We know that after seven days, the criminal ones would not leave the forest reserves; and until then we shall know what step to take next.”

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FG Commences Payment of N30,000 Grant to Taxi, Bus Drivers, Okada Riders

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As the implementation of its Economic Sustainability Plan, ESP, continues, and in furtherance of its commitment to support small businesses to cushion the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government has also launched the transport support track under its MSME Survival Fund schemes for artisans and transporters.

The launch of the transport track last Monday follows the successful take-off of the Artisans’ Support track on October 1. While the Artisans track is under the Survival Fund, the Transport track is a different scheme also under the Fund.

While verified Artisans have started receiving the N30,000 one-time grants, Nigerians operating in the transport business – including Rideshare drivers (Uber, Bolt, etc.), Taxi drivers, Bus drivers, Keke Napep riders, Okada riders, cart pushers etc., now have the opportunity to benefit from the scheme.

The Artisan track is being implemented in three streams, and as of November 25, a total number of 59,000 individual Artisan beneficiaries have been paid across 24 states in Stream 1 and Stream 2 States.

They include FCT, Lagos, Ekiti, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Plateau, Delta, Taraba, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Edo, Ogun, Ondo, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Enugu, Ebonyi.

While the verification process for artisans under Stream 3 states commenced on Monday, November 30. Stream 3 states comprise Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River, Zamfara, Yobe, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Oyo, Osun, Jigawa, Gombe and Benue.

Similarly, payment to beneficiaries under the Payroll Support scheme for different categories of MSMEs, ranging from education, hospitality to other sectors, has since commenced.

The payroll support scheme, which is designed to support vulnerable MSMEs, targets supporting 500,000 beneficiaries with payment of up to N50,000 per employee for a period of three months, starting from October. The disbursements to approved Payroll Support beneficiaries commenced on 17th November 2020.

So far, 207,319 individual beneficiaries drawn from 35,837 businesses/MSMEs nationwide have received their first monthly payment from the Survival Fund’s Payroll Support Scheme.

A breakdown of this figure shows that: N30,000 each was paid to 180,196 employees/Beneficiaries; while N50,000 each was paid to 26,353 employees/Beneficiaries. Out of this, 2.6 per cent of beneficiaries are with special needs, while 43 per cent are female employees/beneficiaries.

Under this Artisan Support scheme, a total of 333,000 Artisans and Transport business operators nationwide will get one-time operations grant of N30,000 per beneficiary to reduce the effects of income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There will be a total of 9,009 beneficiaries per state for both Artisan and Transport beneficiaries. Of this number per state, there will be a total of 4,505 beneficiaries under the transport scheme, while the remaining 4,504 will be artisan beneficiaries.

For the Transport track, Nigerians are encouraged to apply through their registered Associations to be enumerated, such as the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Keke Riders’ Association, Okada Riders’ Associations and Unions, among others. All schemes are applied to beneficiaries on a first come first serve basis.

State focal persons, project field officers, enumerators and others will work alongside the MSMEs Survival Fund Project Delivery Office to properly identify and ensure that members of the respective associations are paid.

There is also provision for individuals who are members of Associations but will rather apply directly with the enumerators. However, such individual applicants in the transport cluster must show their proof of membership of an association to be enumerated.

Like all the schemes of the Buhari administration to support different categories of Nigerians, these schemes are absolutely free, and the grant will be paid directly to the beneficiary’s account.

Nigerians are encouraged to speak up if anyone tries to charge a fee or subvert this arrangement.

Also, the formalization support scheme (registration of 250,000 new businesses with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)) commenced on the 26th of October, 2020 and the registration by aggregators – CAC registration agents, has since commenced across the 36 states and the FCT. The ongoing scheme will run for a period of 3 months effective from the date of commencement.

The MSME Survival Fund, a component under the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP, is designed to support vulnerable Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in the MSMEs sector. The scheme is estimated to save not less than 1.3 million jobs across the country and specifically impact on over 35,000 individuals per State.

In the implementation of the Transport track the Federal Government is working with representatives of Keke Napep and Okada riders; Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN); representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW); Uber and Bolt drivers, among others.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
6th December 2020

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FirstBank Hosts FinTech Summit, Edition Four, Calls for Activation of Vibrant Ecosystem

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By Eric Elezuo

Nigeria’s leading financial institution and financial inclusion services provider, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, has successfully held the 2020 edition of its annual FinTech Summit, which is also the fourth in the series.

The summit, which held via virtual, had about 12, 000 participants in attendance, and featured prominent innovator and Chief Executive Officer, Love and Magic, Chinedu Echeruo as keynote speaker with other professionals including the Director, Payments System Management Department, Musa Itopa Jimoh; the Executive Director, Technology & Operations, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), forming a high profile panel of discussants.

Also on the panel were the duo of the Group Executive, Technology & Services, Callistus Obetta, and Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products,  Chuma Ezirim, who represented FirstBank.

In his opening speech, the Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, reiterated that FinTech industry is currently the fastest growing sector within Nigeria, and is mostly run by a sizable number of young entrepreneurs, stressing that FirstBank has been positioned as the FinTech partner of choice having established relationships with companies like PiggyVest, Terragon, VoguePay and PayStack.

He noted that the bank’s rating has soared with its digital payment channels and has remained in the forefront of providing financial inclusion solutions across board and round the clock with it’s  FirstMobile app, USSD (*894#) and FirstMonie, with the popular Firstmonie Agent Banking Network.

“FirstBank has become the foremost financial inclusion solutions provider with over 9 million USSD users, processing over 200 million transactions to date. Also, with more than 60,000 Firstmonie Agent Banking locations we have to date processed over 320 million customer transactions worth over NGN6 Trillion on the FirstMonie Agent Network as at July 2020, further cementing our leadership in the Agency Banking space,” Adeduntan said.

He recollected that the bank has picked awards after awards with the FirstMobile App, which was “awarded the Best Mobile Banking App in Nigeria in 2019 by the UK-based Global Business Outlook.”

Rather than mourning the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, Adeduntan remarked that the bank has leveraged on the scourge to become more innovative in providing services for the benefit of the customers

“The sudden emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic era has provided a ready canvas for stretching our Fintech readiness and exploits, and I am happy to note that, once again, FirstBank has been demonstrating outstanding preparedness in this all-important space.

“Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic has become a catalyst for the accelerated technology and digital transformation that we are witnessing across so many industries and areas of human endeavour,” he said.

Speaking on the theme “How Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence will Disrupt FinTech in Nigeria” the keynote speaker, Echeruo, who is a product of Kings College, Lagos and Harvard Business School, with virtual descriptions, informed that one can solve any problem if he puts his mind to it. He noted that the “use of artificial intelligence to personalise and deepen customer experience, grow new market opportunities with lower cost blockchain model” will greatly improve the culture of innovation.

He pointed out that building and activating vibrant ecosystem are basically the outcome of inculcating blockchain and artificial intelligence in FinTech. He advised corporate bodies to open organisation’s ecosystem and recreate from the outside to the inside.

Responding, FirstBank’s Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, Chuma Ezirim, who represented FirstBank in the panel, and spoke on the sub-theme, “How Current Trends in Artificial Intelligence Are Impacting Business Product Development in FirstBank”, noted that the bank is a technology company offering financial services, but not in any way usurping another’s duties.

Ezirim was also quick to point out that FirstBank processes over 90 customer initiated transactions per second only on digital channels while acknowledging that the bank is poised re-architect its system and attract the right skills from within and outside.

Concluding his presentation, he invited stakeholders to partner with the bank, noting that “we believe big data and AI will bring upward the revenue of this country…”

In his remarks, Aminu Maida, who spoke on Industry Infrastructure to Support New Development in the Financial Industry, acknowledged the need for synergy while advising that the way out is “leveraging on artificial intelligence, leveraging on dynamic machine learning that can go into the environment and adapt in relation to human capacity.”

Other speakers who lent their voices to the viability of artificial intelligence towards creating and activating a vibrant ecosystem included Callistus Obetta, who was of the view that there is the need to build people who will in turn build technologies.

“Our realisation that the effectiveness of Artificial Intelligence is determined by data quality available on the platform and this is beyond the structured data in the bank,” he said.

Representing Okra, Fara Ashiri Jituboh, who spoke on the theme Unlock the Power of AI, and Musa Jimoh, agreed that blockchain and artificial intelligence are souls of FinTech.

In his closing remarks, the Deputy Managing Director, FirstBank, Mr. Francis Shobo, appreciated everyone that turned up for the educative webinar, and reiterated that “FirstBank will continue to embrace emerging FinTech opportunity”.

The 4.0 edition was anchored by Aruoture Oddiri, with assistance from Taiwo Shonekan.

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