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
Food for Living: Your Life Is Not Over Yet
By Henry Ukazu
Greetings Dear Friends,
I officially welcome you to the last month of the year. The year is gradually coming to an end. At the inception of the year, we all made resolutions and had plans and expectations of what we intend to do before the end of the year. Some of us measured our successes every quarter. The question we should be asking ourselves however, is if we have been able to accomplish our goals and desires. If your answer is no, just know it’s not over for you. If your answer is yes, just relish in the words of Les Brown, “it’s not late to set another goal”. Sometimes in life, we may not reach our goal, but at least it is expected we try our best. According to Bruce Lee “A goal is not always something to be reached, it often serve as something to be aimed”.
When 2020 came, we were all beaming with joy; no one saw the pandemic neither did anyone see the recession some countries experienced due to the pandemic. In the journey of life, nothing is guaranteed, as widely acclaimed, tax and death are the only things that are guaranteed because we all must pay tax and we all must die one day. In the same way, life may have thrown tantrums at you, you may have lost your job, lost a loved one, experienced divorce, experienced a set back in your personal and professional life. I don’t know what your situation or story is, but I just want to let you know that it is not over for you.
It is generally believed you can never have a second chance to make a first impression, but we fail to realize that we all need a second chance. A student needs a second chance, an employee needs a second chance, a businessman needs a second chance, a divorcee needs a second chance, the prodigal son was given a second chance, even Christ died for us to give us a second chance. Getting a second chance is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past failures. It’s about positively adjusting your attitude toward future possibilities. According to Edgar Caycee, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself if you have gone the wrong road, turn around”.
As human beings, we are always in a haste to make the next step without even taking stock of previous steps or decisions we have made which may have consciously or unconsciously led us to where we are today. It is because the philosopher was so busy focusing on the journey ahead of him that he forgot there was a ditch in front of him, and the rest is history. Human beings are very important in our journey to success. According to Roy Bennet, “Good things happened when you surround yourself with good people”.
Challenges come in different shapes and styles, but what makes the difference is not only the way you managed it but what you learn from it. According to Robert Schuler, problems are stop signs, they are guide less”. Some of us go through different challenges, and we allow the experience, circumstance, or situation to define and shape us. Regardless of what you may be facing or have experienced, just know that your life is not over yet, there’s still a ray of hope for you. If you have ever watched a football or soccer match, you’ll realize that nothing is guaranteed until the referee officially ends the match. That’s simply how life works.
Furthermore, just like education is the greatest leveler, the child of a certified pauper can become a man of means tomorrow if properly educated. This simply tells you the only thing that is permanent is change. The mistake most of us make is that we measure and compare our progress with that of others. The only comparison you have to make is with yourself. That’s simply how to measure matured growth otherwise you may be heading into defective success.
If you are feeling downcast or thinking that your life is messed up, please note that there are people who are in a worst situation and have not given up. If you have plans of opening a new page in your life or business and you are afraid of what the future upholds, just take a leap of faith. Do you know you have a voice, and a message the world is itching to hear? There’s somebody crying and literally begging to be where you are today in addition to having what you have.
Sometimes in life, we feel it is over for us, we feel that there’s no other path, we feel we have lost it completely just because you lost a family member, business, or even an election, but we fail to understand that there’s a lesson and experience for us to learn. If you continue to worry and be afraid in your mind, it will be hard, Charlie Chaplin has a word for you “You will never find a rainbow if you are looking down”.
Learning how to overcome life is not rocket science; all you need to do is know what you want and what you don’t want. For example, you should know how to say no in a polite way without being offended. Saying no makes you focus on the needful because whatever “distracts” you can serve as an “attraction” if you are working on focus.
Another way of overcoming challenges is by finding what you love. In a world filled with so many distractions and negativity, you need to channel your energy on what you truly love and build on it. It’s by doing that you overcome unnecessary pressures and challenges. In order to move ahead, here are some guidelines
1. Let go of the past
Sometimes, we are used to holding on to past experiences or hurt we suffered. These guilt feelings make us feel we can’t move ahead; most of us are always tormented by this feeling. We fail to understand that every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity. When life throws dirt at you, dust yourself and move on, nobody cares what happens to you, rather they are concerned about what you were able to do with what was thrown at you. When you do this, you identify the lesson or situation that put you in such a mess and never allow it to reoccur.
2. Accept accountability & eesponsibility
One of the greatest disservices we can do to ourselves is to lie to ourselves. Most times, we don’t tell ourselves the honest truth. Sometimes we put ourselves in a difficult situation and expect someone to clean our mess. For example, if you don’t manage your money, you’ll lose it, if you don’t manage your marriage, you’ll lose it, if you don’t manage your business, you’ll lose it. If you don’t manage your anger, you’ll lose it, if you don’t manage a good loyal friend, you’ll lose it. Accepting responsibly is the first step in owning a problem. You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life. Moral: You must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles. Choosing not to is giving up.
3. Focus on the things you can change.
Another mistake we make is feeling we can solve every problem. For instance, a man who has an ego problem will find it difficult to ask for help when he needs assistance, and by the time challenge gets to the peak, the issue might have deteriorated. Getting assistance from professional or trained personnel will go a long way to fix any problem. Don’t channel your energy on what you can’t solve, rather channel it on what you can change or fix. In that way, you get peace of mind. Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery, and stagnation. Moral: Invest your energy in the things you can change.
4. Figure out what you really want.
In some situations, we don’t know what we actually need. As a bachelor, you must know the kind of woman you want, and the same principle is applicable to a woman. As an entrepreneur, you must know what your skills set are, as a businessman, you must know what business you can manage in addition to having a good background and understanding, as a student, you must know the subject that interests you. Failure to do your due diligence might make you frustrated down the line, and it won’t take long for your life will be over.
The journey of life is truly not for the feeble minded. Just like marriage, you must brace up. From birth, you grow up, go to school, get a job, get married, start a family, have grandkid/ great-grandchildren before meeting your creator at the appointed time if life does not take us earlier. So, as you journey through life, don’t give up, no matter the challenges that come your way. According to Winston Churchill, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
We all have different experiences which shape our life. To put it in a proper perspective, an encounter is an experience that makes your life story incomplete without the mention of that experience. To know if you have had an encounter, look at your life before that experience came and after it has made an impact on you. An encounter can result on account of somebody you met, a job, your spouse, or even a spiritual transformation.
In conclusion, I don’t know what your storyline is, but I will leave you with the words of Roy Bennet, “be happy for everything that happened to you, is an experience”.
Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a mindset coach and self-discovery expert. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Opinion: The Gift of Pain: Maximizing ADVERSITY as a Builder!
By Tolulope A. Adegoke
“Adversity is an adventure that develops a ‘venture’ at the junctures of ‘what’ would have destroyed the structures of your purpose on this plane called Earth, but eventually turns out to be a weapon and a builder towards fulfilling your destiny and lifting the weights of glory! How you see situations or challenges and confront them matters, and they are functions of your mindset as a being called MAN. You determine what (must) come out of it! Adversities are surmountable! You are the actor in the picture. Your posture influences the picture. I charge you to BE THE HERO! Thereby, maximizing the scenarios in your favour! It is, therefore,
Terrifying! But, it is all about
YOU!” – Tolulope A. Adegoke
John 16:33[NKJV]: ‘These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’
Romans 8: 37: ‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conqueror.’ [NKJV]
ADVERSITY is a builder. It is to a man; what fire is to gold! Fire purges, melts, heats the gold, yet makes it SHINE!
It is the way that a man sees adversity that he would get from it. If you take it to be a builder or ladder, it would build and lift you [ vis- à- vis].
It is the challenge that comes to one’s way that brings out either the best or worst character in a man.
Winners today were once failures, but they were determined enough through the order of divine grace and strong-will to face it all and breakthrough, which eventually culminated to them being globally celebrated in their areas of callings!
It is the same adversity that breaks one person, that builds another! It all depends on the way we manage and wire our mental and spiritual focuses. You either rise up or succumb to the pressures that come with adversity! It is left for you to pick yourself up, bounce- back like the palm tree and encourage yourself to surmount the mountain(s) before you! Once the mountain is surmounted, you enter into glory.
Adversity is what builds our spiritual and physical muscles, so as for us to be fit enough to bear or carry the weight of glory.
Adversity is like an examination to a student; that gives him promotion or demotion, which is determined by his level of preparation and his level of mindset towards becoming a victor or victim, hero or zero!
It is based on our individual levels of reactions to the ‘adversity’ that gives us edge to surmounting it. It can make or mar you. It can make you in the sense that, if you embrace it with rugged faith, then, you would come out strong; but, if you submit to it, it would crush you. Kindly permit me to say that Dr Yomi Garnett, Yinka Oba, Fela Durotoye, Strive Masiyiwa among others are living proofs [you could ask to interview them in person on how true this is.]. Even, the testimonies of Job, Joseph, Paul the Apostle among others in the Holy Bible lingers on and on.
You must not see ADVERSITY as a problem, but a challenge that must be confronted with hope, faith, love and hard & smart works to conquer; which are the courageous weapons for successes that leads to greatness in the face of tribulations, no matter the number of times it comes.
You must always see yourself on the other side of it. What you see attracts what you get!
A wise man once asked his children: can you say a professor is a failure? They replied NO! The father responded: Wole Soyinka failed the West African Senior Secondary Certification Examination nine  times… The children screamed! But can you still call him a failure, today? No, the children replied… The father then asked why? Then, the children responded ‘because he confronted his fears and was determined enough to surmount it by hard work and with the influence of divine grace…and eventually succeeded.’
The moral of this illustration is that: you are not a failure until you give up! Today, you call him Prof. Wole Soyinka, but as at the time he was failing WAEC, most people called him a dullard.
Adversity is a ladder to greater levels of glory!
You cannot get your reward until you finish your course!
You cannot get your crown until you are done with the cross!
No guts, no glory! You cannot overcome the wilderness until you grow wild!
You cannot get through to the promised land until you are completely processed (refined)!
No gold ever shines without passing through the furnace!
You cannot become more until you have been mocked!
You cannot have your prizes until you have fully paid your prices! what we regard as adversity is a setup for us to overcome and step up! It is a junction or curve on our lives journey to fulfilling destiny! Don’t interrupt the processes of growths and sustainable developments.
Adversity is examination in disguise to building our muscles so as to be fit enough to carry or bear the weight of GLORY!
Therefore, adversity is:
Terrifying! But, it is all about
YOU! You determine what must come out of it! Adversities are surmountable! You are the actor in the picture. I charge you to BE THE HERO!
You are not a failure until you give up! Adversity unveils us to realms of glory! It compels us to aim higher, while it charges us to take the stairs!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. Reveals that: ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy!’
Truly, it is not easy to be EASY, we must be determined, we must work and do our best to escape genuinely, but only God delivers from all uneasiness… only God gives the grace to overcoming all odds…!
Stop being frustrated when you are confronted with challenges. Rather, engage audacious faith to confront and conquer your fears! It is a revival, and you are in for a revolution that would propel the required evolution. Adversity, is an advance citadel of learning in disguise! I call it the ‘Advance(univer)sity’, where reality poses a great threat, just as examinations in the four walls of a university.
Thank you all for reading this #EpistleForChampions
Watch out for the Book titled: “The Power of an Empowered Zero” (From Zero to HERO) by Tolulope A. Adegoke. Foreword by Dr Yomi Garnett (CEO/Chancellor, Royal Biographical Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S.A., U.K., Abuja, Nigeria.) Edited by Ola Aboderin.
Just In: Appeal Court Disqualifies Araraume from Contesting Imo North Bye-Election
The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, Imo State, on Friday, sacked Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the All Progressives Congress candidate for the Imo North bye-election.
The judgment, which was delivered by Justice Uchechukwu Onyemenam, came barely 24 hours to the bye-election which holds on Saturday, December 5, in the 64 wards across the six Local Government Areas.
The justice, who delivered the judgment in a tension-soaked courtroom, declared Frank Ibezim as the authentic candidate of the APC ahead of the election.
He faulted the November 6 judgment of the Federal High Court which sacked Ibezim and announced Araraume, who represented the district between 1999 and 2007 as the rightful winner of APC primary election.
The justice ordered INEC to immediately enlist Ibezim’s name as the candidate of the party for the bye-election.
He said that the revalidation of the candidacy of Ibezim was in tandem with the electoral act, having won the APC primary school in September.