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Nigeria @60: Building Trust to Trade Better with Post-Brexit Britain

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By Joel Popoola

As Nigeria celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of independence from Britain, there’s never been a better time for us to strengthen the ties between our two nations – this time as equal trading partners.

British MP Helen Grant has this week been appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Trade Envoy to Nigeria.

Trade Envoys are personally appointed by British Prime Ministers to engage with countries where their government has identified “substantial trade and investment opportunities”. As Mrs Grant, whose father is Nigerian, has said: “We are entering a new and exciting age for British trade around the world and the opportunities for increased trade and investment are enormous”.

The new and exciting age she refers to is Britain’s departure from the European Union. For generations Britain’s continental trading relationships have been focused on continental Europe. Having formally left the European Union, from January 2021, Britain will have the opportunity to look again towards her commonwealth colleagues for strategic partnerships with the potential to deliver mutual prosperity.

We have to make sure they like what they see when they do.

Nigeria-British relationships are already strong, with British businesses having already invested £5bn in Nigeria. The two countries share £4bn of trade a year.

These ties have already endured the toughest of times – not least the last few months! – and Brexit opens the door for even better relations and the promise of a richer, more productive and more developed Nigeria.

Sadly, the World Bank ranks us 131st out of 190 countries for doing business with. We’re only slightly ahead of our neighbours in Mali and they’ve just had a coup!

Then there’s corruption. The British government’s official advice on doing business in Nigeria states “unfortunately fraud is prevalent in Nigeria, and UK businesses should carry out due diligence before embarking on any deals”.

The most recent Global Corruption Index reported that 43% of those surveyed thought corruption in Nigeria has increased in the past 12 months. A shocking 44% of public service users reported paying a bribe that year.
Perhaps the symbolic underscoring of Nigeria’s corruption dealings commences with first point of entry at our Airports. With begging gestures and faces railroading you into parting with subtle and brazen bribe demands, and unnecessary conundrums laid on your path of entry, combined with gun-toting police stops with menacing looks, the welcoming impression on visitors leave a lot to be desired. The government’s Ease of doing business strategy has up till now served little purpose for a paradigm shift. How can investors feel comfortable to bring in funding when our points of entry into the nation lack a welcoming feel-good flair.

A lot is required to achieve FDI and national branding starts from exemplary conduct, not cosmetic happenstance rhetoric.

With a shared language and history and complementary legal and business practices post-Brexit trade with Nigeria should be as obvious to Britain as an Eagle in a Firefinch nest, and there are huge opportunities to British businesses in improving our transport and energy infrastructure, urban development, creative industries, financial services, agriculture and technology.

The news is not all bad. Just this week Britain’s top trade official in Africa told CNBC “Nigerian is a very exciting proposition for the UK, really helped by some of the progress we seeing being driven by the government of Nigeria, particularly in the ease of doing business” Next month the governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu will become the first Africa’s elected leader to address the Institute of Directors, the UK’s most prestigious business leader group, since inception in 1903

But until we take steps to improve our international reputation for corruption too many nations will continue to think twice when it comes to trading with Nigeria.

The way I see it, you wouldn’t go on your first date with someone without smartening yourself up. And the same is true if Nigeria wants to fully realise vast potential in a globalised world. That’s why making the Nigerian political system look its best is the concept behind my digital democracy project. Before our nations believe in our leaders, we have to believe in them ourselves.

We have created a free smartphone app called Rate Your Leader which gives our political leaders a vital platform to showcase their openness, responsiveness and transparency. The app allows direct person-to-person contact with the people they serve, maximising their openness and accessibility, as well as allowing them to respond instantaneously to local issues as they emerge.

Not only does the app made leader more visible in their communities – at a time when Covid-19 related social distancing make this even more difficult than usual – it also allows politicians to explain the decisions they have made directly to the people they serve, free from spin or social media distortion. Voters can then rate the answers they receive, showing their peers and neighbours which politicians are the most transparent and accountable.

We all know we have a mountain the size of Chappel Waddi to climb when it comes to defeating corruption in Nigeria. But small steps like using Rate Your Leader are an important first step, proving that individual politicians are worthy of people putting their trust in them.

And only when we trust ourselves will future trading partners feel comfortable doing the same.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app. You can reach Joel on Twitter @JOPopoola

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Lagos Extends Work-From-Home Directive by Four Weeks

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The Lagos State Government has further extended the work-from-home directive to civil servants on Salary Grade Levels 12 and below.

A statement issued by the Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, said this is in a bid to further stem the spread of COVID-19 within the public service and other stakeholders.

He expressed the government’s delight that measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state has resulted in a steady decline in the number of recorded cases in the preceding weeks.

Muri-Okunola maintained that in order to sustain the success so far recorded, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has reviewed the directive to all public servants on Salary Grade Levels 12 and below for four weeks, with effect from Monday, 1st to Friday, 26th March 2021.

The HoS said the directive does not preclude any of the exempted Grade Levels from reporting for duty whenever the Accounting Officer deems it necessary.

He said, “All Public Servants are advised to continue to stay safe by observing all COVID-19 protocols such as Physical Distancing, regular use of face masks and hand hygiene.

“Also, Accounting Officers are to ensure strict adherence to all extant directives aimed to guarantee physical distancing in the workplace by preparation of weekly Duty Rosters as considered germane to effective service delivery in respective MDAs.”

The Lagos State Government has witnessed a decline in the number of infections in the recent past due to the government’s regular updates on preventive measures as well as public enlightenment campaigns to create awareness about measures to stem the spread of the deadly virus.

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Security Expert, Ibadin Lauds Buhari on Choice of Youth As EFCC Chairman

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The CEO Badison Security Services, Mr. Matthew Ibadin, has taken to his social media platform to thank the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, president Muhammed Buhari, on the appointment of a youth in person of Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa as the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The security expert in a statement in Lagos said he sees the appointment as a bold step towards curbing the rising state of corruption in the country, and also as a way of encouraging the youths in the country to participate in governance. He has also taken time to congratulate Bawa on his confirmation for appointment as he urged the 40 years old chairman to not disappoint the youths.

Mr Ibadin has commended president Muhammed Buhari for acknowledging the fact that his appointment of a youth as the new EFCC Chairman has given the Nigerian youths hope of a better and greater Nigeria.

He said “this is the age and time for technological implementations, this is the era of social media and technology, and we need someone with the vast knowledge of technology and how it operates, and the choice of the president is very recommendable because of the youthful exuberance of the new chairman”.

“The youths are the future of the country, engaging and involving them in governance is a good way of restoring constitutional responsibilities of checkmating corruption towards enhancing economic and national development, therefore the use of mobile gadgets and technologies should not be strange to the new chairman” says the Esan born security expert.

He said it was time for the youths to be given opportunities to exercise their constitutional rights in the area of governance, internet fraudsters use the internet to perform fraudulent acts, therefore, the chairman should not be obsolete, as the technology world is evolving he should also evolve with it.

He advised the new chairman to make use of the new police act and partner with private investigators and also make use of professional consultants and the chairman should be able to Harness the power of the internet. Mr. Ibadin advised that the new chairman make use of the youth in his quest to curb corruption explaining that the youth are on trend with the latest technology and how to curb cybercrime, because before you can apprehend criminals you have to be able to think and work like them. Also the training of the EFCC personnel in state of the art strategies for combating corruption is a vital aspect that must be implemented, the personnel must be well trained in security knowledge, so they can carry out their jobs effectively.

Mr. Ibadin stated that the EFCC was implemented to drive Nigeria’s anti-corruption activities. Since the EFCC has been given the mandate to investigate and prosecute cases of bribery, fraud, money laundering, smuggling and a host of other financial crimes, hence, it is pertinent for the new chairman to learn from the successes and failures of his predecessors, he should also focus on staff salaries, enumeration and accommodation because when your staffs are happy the work becomes easier for the chairman.

Mr. Ibadin stated that this is not the time and era of carrying files and looking for criminals, that every data and information should be archived on the internet accessories like icloud, google drive etc. for proper documentation, so as not to be having the issues of fire burning down the file storage house or animals swallowing money that’s supposed to be used for the general public.

He urged the new chairman to equip himself with people that can lead him in the right direction, “the chairman should build or form a good advisory team who can lead him to conscientiously and faithfully discharge its constitutional responsibilities of thwarting corruption towards improving national development.

He also likened the appointment of the new chairman to the case of current France president Emmanuel Macron who became the president of France at the age of 39 and Jean Castex the current prime minister of France who was appointed at the age of 46 as the France Prime Minister and our very own former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon who was 31 years of age when he became the Nigerian head of state in 1966
Mr. Ibadin has also urged the new EFCC Chairman to not single out members of one political party or ethnic group for investigation or prosecution, he advised that anyone suspected to have gone against the principles of his office or abused his office by siphoning funds from the public purse should not be allowed to go scott free irrespective of his position in the public, ethnicity, or creed.

He implored him to work with the knowledge that his success and failure as the EFCC Chairman would either motivate the youths or demotivate them to hope and cheer for a better Nigeria. In his words “I am looking forward to an EFCC that would motivate the youths to do better in the area of governance and not demotivate them”.

He also stated that the EFCC should be accountable and transparent in its dealings as an agency and also an EFCC that is disciplined and neutral in its dealings with both the privileged and non-privileged. His office should mark the end of utter disregard to the rule of law and fundamental human rights of citizens.

Mr ibadin has also promised the new EFCC chairman that the Nigerian youths are solidly behind him, supporting and encouraging him to succeed in the fight against corruption, and he also urged him to give the youth the opportunity to do so not forgetting that the youth will also not fail to criticize his actions or inactions that may not be directed towards achieving a greater Nigeria.

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Food for Living: The Strategy for Success

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By Henry Ukazu

Greetings Destiny Friends,

I’m sure that many thoughts run through your mind whenever you hear of success; thoughts such as accomplished entrepreneurship, academic achievement, money, or even vision. What most fail people to realize however, is that there’s no success without a strategy. Just like every business has a selling secret, every success has a secret. Success is like an all-round fruitful marriage. Most people just see couples celebrating a decade and silver jubilee of marital bliss, but don’t see the numerous challenges they had to overcome in order to get to where they are. Just like every business has a secret, every marriage also has its own unique secret. The most important thing is to work out a strategy that works for you.

Success means different things to different people, but they have distinct or similar attributes. Success can take different shapes depending on one’s area of work. For example, success entails having experience, networking with a diverse set of people to achieve a common goal, preparation, making mistakes and learning from it, punctuality, building bridges, overcoming the fear of failure, discipline, and above all relying on God for grace. If you don’t have a good strategy, no matter how good your plans are, they will fall by the wayside.

Did you know that success does not come easy? In the pursuit of success, you will lose money and friends. Many people will dismiss you as crazy, others will discourage; you cry and possibly fail often; you will experience disappointments among many other vicissitudes of life, but then, you must never give up; that’s the price for success. The truth is that you’ll be 100% uncomfortable on your journey to success, but in the end, it will worth the while.

Would you like to pay and play later, or would you like to play now and pay later?

One of the first steps to succeed in life is to find people who have the same mindset as you. When you hire or work with people who are passionate about the work at hand, the work becomes relatively easy. When you have a good team, innovation becomes easy.

You can have a good product or idea, but poor execution can lead to failure. Poor execution can include your way of branding, poor customer relations, and social skills which relate to networking or interpersonal relation skills. Success is truly a consequence of strategy because if you have a good product, and you don’t know how to market it, the product will never see the light of the day. It’s just like a beautiful lady who is not smart, her beauty won’t be enough to win the pageant. The beauty is just the entrance form, but her exposure and intelligence will come in handy to make her a force to reckon with.

Sometimes, we look for opportunities where there are little or no opportunities, and in some cases when we get the opportunity, we lack the capacity to execute it or the foresight to recognise it. What most people fail to understand is that whatever is supposed to come to your life will be there when you have developed the capacity to receive and execute it. For example, if you may have a product that is thriving, but you lack the capacity to manage people and resources, it will be hard for the universe to attract those opportunities to you, and even if you happen to get them by chance, you’ll lack the mental capacity to properly manage them. It’s just like having a wealthy friend, who if you fail manage well, the friendship will fall apart.

What therefore, is the strategy for success? Since every success involves strategic planning, I have developed a little framework with the acronym P.L.A.N.

 Plan

The hallmark of success entails planning. In planning, you must know what works for you in the industry you are passionate about. You must be very strategic in your plan. For instance, if you have an interest in entertainment, you can shoot your shot by associating with people you know have access to the people you need. You can even volunteer to work for free for the people or associate yourself with the target person like researching to know what they like and by liking and commenting on their post on social media, and even send a copy of your work.

Launch

After planning, the next stage is to launch your product. Don’t be scared to launch your product. If you make a mistake, you’ll learn from the criticisms you will receive. You may have a good product, but if you don’t have the right execution, you will lose out. Execution is very important. Before you launch, examine all options and see what’s best for you depending on your product, environment and industry.

In launching your product, you must make sure you have a good finishing and your execution must be top-notch. Note that before anyone appreciates a product, the product must come across as an attractive one.

Adjust

One of the distinct natures of man is adaptability. Succeeding in the corporate world entails adjusting to the times and seasons. Adjust as you move along. This approach is very important. How you approach issues is very important in whatever you do. A good approach involves your manner of talking writing, presentation of issues and innovation abilities. Rational minds adjust their plans if it’s not working out just to just meet up with their target. Isn’t it true that you cannot be doing something the same way, and expect a different result?

Networking

The aim of strategic networking is to locate the right people to work with. The value of networking cannot be overemphasized. Networking entails engaging people from different walks of life. No matter who you are, you need good people to get your product across. Sometimes, success is not about what you have upstairs, but who’s in your network. Most people fail to realize that their success can come from unexpected persons in unexpected places. So as a way of advice, be kind to everyone you meet along the way because you never know how resourceful they may be to your life. Do you know, you can get what you want faster when you help people to achieve what they want?

In summary, to have strategic success, you need to establish a clear and meaningful strategic planning process. Engage all levels of employees or partners and communicate effectively with them to ensure success. Use an innovation process for all new product development, service delivery, etc. Re-shape the organisational culture to be more adaptive to the changes the strategic plan requires.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a mindset coach and public speaker. 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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