Connect with us

News

Nigeria: Becoming World’s First Cashless Country, Counteracting Corruption Crisis

Published

on

By Joel Popoola

A little over a year ago, I called on President Buhari to make Nigeria the first country on Earth to abolish cash.
Perhaps he was listening.

This week, the President announced that Nigeria is to become the first African nation to introduce a digital currency.

The so-called eNaira is designed to cut transaction costs and boost participation in the formal financial system, with the President stating in a televised address that its technology can also “increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product by $29 billion over the next 10 years”.

This is the Nigeria we want to see: Bold, creative, modern, capable of continental leadership – and driven by digital technology.

In many ways we are the ideal society to pilot this innovation. Within the next couple of years the vast majority of Nigerians will own a smartphone, and our nation is already home to Africa’s greatest and most important e-payment businesses – such as Flutterwave, Opay and Andela .

It has always been something of an amusement to me that while many Nigerians are used to receiving money electronically from relatives overseas our entire economy still expects them to queue up kiosks for cash when spending that money at home – when every transaction can be done electronically with the touch of a button!

Although old-fashioned currency will be with us for some time to come, there is no question cash’s days are numbered.

It’s not just out-of-date – in a time of COVID-19 and civil insecurity, it’s not even safe.

But the real benefits of a digital economic system could be the ones that benefit our democratic system.
Physical cash is dirty money in more ways than one indeed – corruption is a lot easier in any system that relies upon it.

Minimising the use of cash in public life could be an important step towards restoring Nigerian’s trust in the democratic process.

Transparency and accountability are practically impossible with anonymous and untraceable cash payments. And this has huge implications when it comes to making sure public money goes where it is supposed to go.

As an example of how this can work, look at India. When the Indian government began to make pension payments digitally instead of using cash, incidences of bribery halved. I can’t be the only Nigerian to long for that happening here.

This is another area where Nigeria is making huge progress. COVID-19 saw impressive efforts from government to make palliative payments electronically – and saw the government take impressive and important steps to enhance the transparency and governance of COVID-related spending, including the publication of procurement plans and notices for all emergency response activities including the names of companies awarded contracts and the owners of those companies.

Now we need our politicians to pursue transparency too.

At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we are determined to improve accountability and transparency in Nigerian politics by using technology.

We have created a free app called Rate Your Leader, which allows voters to contact directly with their local elected representatives. The Rate Your Leader app helps politicians engage directly with the people who elected them, building relationships based on mutual trust and respect.

Rate Your Leader also helps local leaders explain and justify every decision they make and every penny they spend – making them truly accountable to the people they serve.

And if their voters don’t like the answers they get, they can rate their politicians appropriately for everyone to see.
In 2021, we live our lives digitally. We shop, socialise, learn, work and even date there. So why does out economic system still expect us to make transactions the same way as our ancient ancestors?

At our campaign, our message is clear: Our politics and our political institutions need to take advantage of the opportunities of the digital age to become more accessible, transparent and responsive – and to make themselves relevant to the people they serve.

Too much of our public payment, welfare and public transport infrastructure remains entirely cash-based. This has to change. But the creation of the eNaira is a great step towards a cashless Nigeria – and an international achievement we can all be proud of.

This would require significant government commitment and investment. But the government could start tomorrow by aiming to making all government payments – such as Conditional Cash Transfer – digital by default.
Our country is becoming digital. Our currency cannot remain analogue.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian technology entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and is the creator of the Rate Your Leader app. He can be reached via @JOPopoola

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

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

News

The Gift of Pain: Maximizing Adversity As a Builder!

Published

on

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) comes 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, not a ‘zero’! So, maximize the scenarios in your favour! It is, therefore:

Acutely advertising

Destructible!

Vulnerable!

Episodic!

Revival!

Surmountable!

Impactful!

Terrifying! But, it is all about

YOU and what’s in you! ” —Tolulope A. Adegoke

In John 16:33 (NKJV): “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. ‘Ye shall have tribulation in the world, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’

Romans 8: 37: “Nay, in all these things, we are more than conquerors.” (“NKJV”)

Adversity is a builder. It is to a man what fire is to gold! The gold is purified, melted, and heated by fire, causing it to SHINE!

It is the way that a man sees adversity that he gets from it. If you took it to be a builder or ladder, it would build and lift you (vis-à-vis).

It is the challenge that comes 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 in them being globally celebrated in their areas of calling!

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 focus. You either rise up or succumb to the pressures that come with adversity! It is left to you to pick yourself up, bounce back like a palm tree, and encourage yourself to surmount the mountain (s) before you! Once the mountain is climbed, you enter into glory.

Adversity is what builds our spiritual and physical muscles so that we can be fit enough to bear or carry the weight of glory.

Adversity is like an examination for a student; it 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 “adversity” that gives us the edge in 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 will come out strong; but, if you submit to it, it will crush you. Kindly permit me to say that Dr Yomi Garnett, Yinka Oba, Fela Durotoye, Strive Masiyiwa, among others, are living proof (you could ask to interview them in person about how true this is). Even so, the testimonies of Job, Joseph, Paul the Apostle, and others in the Holy Bible linger on and on.

You must not see adversity as a problem, but a challenge that must be confronted with hope, faith, love, and hard and smart work to conquer, which are the courageous weapons for success that lead to greatness in the face of tribulations, no matter how many times they come.

You must always see yourself on the other side of it. What you see is what you will 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 (9) 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 overcome them 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 (a hero), but as at the time he was failing WAEC, most people called him a dullard (a zero).

Adversity is a ladder to greater levels of glory!

You will not 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 will not be able to overcome the wilderness until you become wild!

You cannot get through to the promised land until you are completely processed (refined)!

No gold ever shines without having passed through the furnace!

You cannot become more until you’ve been mocked!

You will not be able to receive your prizes until you have fully paid your price! What we regard as adversity is actually a setup for us to overcome and step up! It is a junction, or curve, on our journey to fulfill our destiny! Don’t interrupt the processes of growth and sustainable development.

Adversity is an examination in disguise to build our muscles so as to be fit enough to carry or bear the weight of glory!

Therefore, adversity is:

Acutely advertising

Destructible!

Vulnerable!

Episodic!

Revival!

Surmountable!

Impactful!

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!’

It is not easy to be EASY. We must be determined, we must work and do our best to escape genuinely, but only God can deliver us from all uneasiness. Only God gives us the grace to overcome all odds!

Stop being frustrated when you are confronted with challenges. Rather, engage in audacious faith to confront and conquer your fears! It is a revival, and you are in for a revolution that will propel the required evolution. Adversity is an advanced citadel of learning in disguise! I call it the advanced ‘universe’s-city’, where reality poses a great threat, just like examinations within the four walls of a university.

Thank you all for reading this #EpistleForChampions

Continue Reading

News

Is Britain Still Qualified to Call Nigeria “Fantastically Corrupt”?

Published

on

By Joel Popoola

With a Prime Minister under police investigation and £4.3bn of COVID-19 fraud, can Britain continue to call Nigeria “fantastically corrupt”?

The next time a member of the British establishment describes Nigeria as “a failed state” perhaps we should remind them of the time a government minister resigned after admitting to overseeing a £4 billion fraud – and it wasn’t even the biggest political scandal that week!

In London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – recently censured for accepting in the region of 62m Naira to refurbish his flat from a wealthy backer – stands accused of hosting boozy parties during COVID-19 lockdown.

One such incident – for which his secretary invited attendees to bring alcohol to a gathering in the Prime Minister’s house – saw Johnson insist that he believed himself to have been at “a work event”.

Johnson now stands accused of enjoying a birthday party during a time when up and down the UK – and around the world – parents were telling their children they were not allowed one. This was even a time when the Queen sat alone at her husband’s funeral to obey social distancing requirements.

Had no-one told Johnson it was his birthday? Is him being presented with a cake and serenaded a regular workday occurrence?

The British Prime Minister is now subject to a police investigation.

I’ll repeat that.

The British Prime Minister is now subject to a police investigation.

While all of this was going on, Finance Minister Lord Theodore Agnew stood up in Parliament to announce that no less that £4.3bn of public money set aside for COVID-19 assistance for businesses had been lost to fraud.

The admission came after the New York Times described the UK’s pandemic spending as being characterised by “waste, negligence and cronyism”, leading to a situation where “politically connected businesses reaped billions”.

The American newspaper has estimated that “about half” of the UK’s pandemic spending went to “companies with political connections, no prior experience or histories of controversy.”

These included contracts for one company currently on the receiving end of two global corruption probes, and a $470m protective equipment contract to a pest control firm who supplied 600,000 unusable face masks.

At least Boris Johnson has not publically accused Nigeria of being “fantastically corrupt” as one of his predecessors did!
Lord Agnew – the government minister with the responsibility for fighting financial fraud! – admitted that “schoolboy errors” saw 1000 “ghost” businesses given public money.

UK government figures suggest that overall £5.8 billion was stolen from pandemic relief schemes by people claiming cash they weren’t entitled to.
Again, imagine the response in Britain if a Nigerian politician admitted this!
But here perhaps Nigerian leaders could learn something from their British counterparts.

Lord Agnew was not personally to blame for this fraud – presumably he did not order his officials to allow it – but he accepted responsibility for it and immediately tendered his resignation.
This prompted praise from opposition parliamentarians, with one calling him “a minister who felt his integrity could no longer ensure he remained a member of the Government.

“Can I just take this opportunity to say on behalf of these benches how much we appreciate the honour and integrity that has just been displayed by the minister”, said another.

This shouldn’t need saying, but people appreciate openness and transparency from their leaders.

At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we aim to give them the platforms they need to deliver it.

We have created a free mobile app called Rate Your Leader, which was designed to reconnect electors and the elected, opening direct channels of communication between people and their elected officials – giving local people the kind of access previously only enjoyed by funders.

Rate Your Leader encourages politicians to speak directly to the people they serve and explain the decisions they have made and the reasons for them. If the voters don’t like the answer they get, they can rate their politicians badly.

This leads to greater levels of trust in a political class that the voters can see are working for them, and accountable to them.

Digital technologies like Rate Your Leader put transparency and accountability and your fingertips. Direct communication from politician to person, peer to peer.
We’d be happy to offer Boris Johnson a free account. But we must warn him, if he continues to break the rules he made – in the rooms he made them – he is unlikely to be rated very highly.

Joel Popoola is a Nigerian tech entrepreneur, digital democracy campaigner and creator of the Rate Your Leader app. He can be reached via @JOPopoola

Continue Reading

News

Our Helicopter Did Not Crash-land, No One Sustained Injuries – Police

Published

on

By Eric Elezuo

The Nigerian Police have refuted reports of a crash involving one of its helicopters, saying that what was experienced was a controlled safe landing where all the six passengers and crew on board came out unhurt.

A statement from the Force Headquarters, Abuja, and signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, noted that the aircraft, “which was flown by one of the best Police Pilots, was professionally safe-landed with minor damage on the rear rotor as a result of obstacle at the landing spot.”

Below is the detailed statement:

The Nigeria Police Helicopter, Bell 429 5NMDA, flying from Abuja to Bauchi on Wednesday, January 26, 2022, was involved in a controlled safe landing at the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi. The aircraft did not crash as being reported in some sections of the media and none of the occupants sustained any injury whatsoever. All six (6) on board including the pilot and co-pilot are in good condition.

Similarly, the aircraft, which was flown by one of the best Police Pilots, was professionally safe-landed with minor damage on the rear rotor as a result of obstacle at the landing spot. The incident occurred around 7:30PM (local time).

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, psc (+), NPM, fdc has commended the Police Air-Wing for their professionalism in safe-landing the aircraft and averting any serious air-mishap. He further noted that the Nigeria Police Air-wing – with a fleet of one fixed-wing aircraft, a citation jet and thirteen (13) helicopters – has got a strong history of air safety since its establishment in the year 1972.

Continue Reading