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Opinion: 2019 Election Petitions: The Judiciary Can Help Sanitize Nigerian Electoral System

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By Raymond Nkannebe; Esq.

With the limitation period for the presentation of petitions flowing from the just concluded Presidential and National Assembly elections having closed a fortnight ago, and those of gubernatorial and Houses of Assembly elections closing on the 1st of April, 2019 save for states and local constituencies where supplementary elections were held on the 23rd of March, 2019, it is safe to conclude that the politicians have had their day under the proverbial sun, and have now passed the ball into the court of the judiciary who must now get to work in the next one year at least to determine the catalogue of petitions that have proceeded from the womb of the 2019 elections which in many ways brought to full glare and national embarrassment, the weakness of our electoral process. So bad was it, that some segment of the civil society posit that it is arguably the worst election to have been conducted in Nigeria since the dawn of uninterrupted democracy in 1999.

Contrary to the situation in 2015, the victory of president Muhammadu Buhari is today a subject of litigation. Whereas former president Goodluck Jonathan made the now famous phone call to his opponent candidate Muhammadu Buhari when it became crystal clear that he was on the wrong side of the ballot, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar rightly or wrongly depending on the individual’s political bias, has decided to challenge the re-election of Muhammadu Buhari in court.

In a 147-page petition filed on his behalf by a battery of very senior and distinguished members of the bar, Atiku and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are asking that the result of the election as announced by the electoral umpire, INEC be nullified, and their candidate returned. According to them from what one gathers from the well laid out petition, on a proper computation of results from the polling units, it was the PDP and their candidate Atiku Abubakar, and not Muhammadu Buhari who won the election. They have made a heavy weather of having evidences which support this proposition particularly the smart card reader data from all the polling units across the country transmitted to INEC’s back-end server during the course of the polls.

Beyond Atiku’s petition, a staggering 736 petitions challenging one election or the other, have been received by the election petition tribunals inaugurated by the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, two weeks before the conduct of the election. This number understandably could increase as the final collation of results by INEC in Rivers state last week, has seen some candidates and their political parties angling to challenge the return of incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike.

The climate of rigging and manipulation of election results in Nigeria added to the undue militarization of the electoral process by the incumbents who are often in control of the security apparatus often necessitates the challenge of elections by Petitioners on a number of grounds that have been laid down by the electoral law namely, that the person whose election is being challenged was not qualified to contest the election ab initio; or that the winner of the election did not score the majority of lawful votes cast at the election. Others are that the questioned election is invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Act; or that the Petitioner was validly nominated but was unlawfully excluded from contesting in the election by the electoral umpire. See section 138(1) )(a-d) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

It is however not in the fleshing out of the grounds of the petition and the particulars in support of same that the Petitioners often run into a problem but in the leading of evidence to establish to the required degree of proof, the often serious allegations contained in most petitions such that could eventuate into a return of the petitioner by the tribunal as was recently seen in the Osun state election petition tribunal which nullified the victory of incumbent governor Gboyega Oyetola in favour of Senator Ademola Adeleke. This writer however understands that decision is a subject of appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.

A holistic appraisal of the election petitions that have made their way to our courts and/or election tribunals as far back as the cases of Omoboriowo v Ajasin (1984) 1 SCNLR 108; Obih v Mbakwe (1984) LPELR-2712 (SC); Nwobodo v Onoh (1984) 1 SC 1; Buhari v INEC (2008) 19 NWLR (pt. 1120); Ojukwu v Obasanjo (2006) (EPR) 242 to name a few, will readily reveal the near impossibility of upturning an election through the courts. A petitioner almost always finds himself contending with a large body of case law and statutory provisions that literally excuses and/or explains away the electoral infractions complained of in his petition. Save for a handful of cases where a petitioner was returned through the tribunals, thousands of petitions go to court at every election cycle without any success. Perhaps the circumstances of the 2007 general election puts the difficulties faced by a petitioner in proper context. Despite the winner of that very controversial election acknowledging that the process which brought him to power was fraught with widespread irregularities and gross manipulation of the electoral process, it is ironical to say the least, that the challenge of that election at the presidential election tribunal by then General Muhammadu Buhari came to nought. Such is the lot of the Petitioner.

The sad consequence(s) of this is that it has helped to fester the culture of rigging across board. The Nigerian politician having understood how difficult it is to upturn an election through the courts, has devised even more brazen and disingenuous means of rigging him or herself into power and thereafter, dare their opponent to go to court to challenge the victory. Anyone who has had the privilege of studying the electoral forms from our shambolic elections will readily come to terms with the fact that elections in Nigeria are basically a riggers affair. It is the candidate who is able to out-rig the other through any means whatsoever that is often declared the winner thus making a mockery of our democracy.

In a bold attempt however to improve the sanctity and integrity of our electoral process and to the credit of former chairman of the electoral commission Alhaji Attahiru Jega, the smart card reader was introduced in the 2015 general election to checkmate the recurrent problem of multiple accreditation of voters against the spirit of the voters register. The genus of the smart card reader machine was to ensure that only bio-metrically accredited voters could cast valid ballots at the polling booths. It was thought that it would solve the recurrent problem of multiple thumbprinting by unscrupulous elements who lend themselves to politicians who prostitute the electoral process.

But the legality of the smart card reader as an instrument for the conduct of elections was to evolve into a serious constitutional debate on the back of the petitions that made it to the election tribunals following that round of elections. In the case of Nyesom v Peterside (2014) 5 NWLR (pt. 1430) 377 a full-bench of the apex Court despite acknowledging the motive behind the introduction and use of the card reader machine in an election, which needless to say was to bolster the democratic norm of “one man one vote”, went ahead to strike it down for having derived its efficacy from the INEC guidelines which obviously was in conflict with section 49(2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which nominates the voters register as the instrument of accreditation of voters and proof of over-voting by a person challenging an election.

In answering the question whether failure to use card reader for accreditation of voters can invalidate an election, the apex Court Per. AKA’AHS held instructively as follows, “the introduction of the card reader is certainly a welcome development in the electoral process. Although it is meant to improve on the integrity of those accredited to vote so as to check the incidence of rigging, it is yet to be made part of the Electoral Act. Section 138(2) envisages a situation where the Electoral Commission issues instruction or guidelines which are not carried out. The failure of the card reader machine, or failure to use it for the accreditation of voters cannot invalidate an election. The section provides as follows: “138(2) an act or omission which may be contrary to an instruction or directive of the Commission or of an officer appointed for the purpose of election but which is not contrary to the provisions of this Act shall not of itself be a ground for questioning the election”.

With the above sentiments of the apex Court, many of the petitioners who went to court in the last cycle of election hoping to make a case out of the non-use of the smart card readers in the accreditation of voters at the polling units found themselves on the wrong side of the law, and severally paid with a dismissal of their petitions. Unfortunately, none of the petitioners drew the attention of the apex Court to the amendment of section 49 (2) of the Electoral Act which was signed into law by former president Goodluck Jonathan on the 20th of March, 2015, just 8 days before the holding of the general election. On their part too, the judex did not take judicial notice of this amendment to the principal Act which legitimized the use of the smart card reader for voter accreditation; the very basis upon which the Court upheld all the disputed governorship elections conducted by the INEC on April 11, 2015.

Having said that, the 2019 elections and the petitions trailing it, provides another window of judicial activism for the judiciary which has the potency of revolutionizing our electoral process and by extension, our nascent democracy. With the countrywide criticisms that have greeted the conduct of the just concluded general elections ranging from selective use of the smart card reader machines in some places and the outright thumbprinting of ballot papers in the quarters of party chieftains and what not, in a barefaced prostitution of our electoral process, suffice it to say that the ball is effectively in the Court of the judiciary to rise up to the occasion in ensuring that not a single illegal vote counts in the return of a candidate.

A simple way to do this, is to ensure the fulsome recognition of the data from the smart card reader machines and using same as a benchmark for reconciling the total votes cast in a polling unit so as to check against over-voting which was perpetrated by politicians with reckless abandon in the just concluded 2019 elections. In places where the smart card reader machines malfunctioned and thus were not used, the tribunals must ensure that the procedure enumerated by the electoral umpire on how voters in such polling units should cast their votes, was applied to the latter. Anything otherwise, must of necessity lead to the cancellation of the results from such unit as consecrated by the relevant provision of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), and the Guidelines of the electoral commission 2019. Thankfully, the apex Court in the Nyesom v Peterside case (supra) acknowledges that the innovation of the smart card reader machines was well intentioned in that, it was calculated to improve the integrity of our elections. The petitions that are now lying before the several election petition tribunals across the country, provides an opportunity for the judex to uphold the smart card reader machine and lend it the much needed judicial imprimatur which counted against its usage in the last cycle of elections, irrespective of the consequences for the individual poll where it is applied.

At a time when it has been shown that the executive and the legislature are enmeshed in a dark conspiracy to the detriment of our democracy, such as was seen in the circumstances under which assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill (2018) was refused by president Muhammadu Buhari, the judiciary can step in, in its hallowed capacity as the avowed defender of any democracy to sanitize our electoral system. This is what Nigerians who are increasingly losing confidence in our electoral process earnestly asks of the judiciary.

 

Raymond Nkannebe; a legal practitioner writes from Lagos.

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Food for Living: Differentiating Between Goals and Desires in Attaining Success

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By Henry Ukazu

Dear Destiny Friends,

Much as succeeding entails a lot of work, it is important to note that one must desire success before success comes to him. Success doesn’t just come to you; you attract success by the work you do. Success does not attract excellence; it is excellence that attracts success, which in turn attracts prosperity. When you are good with your what you do, people will gradually flock to you because you practically have the solution to their challenges.

Success is not accidental, it is an intentionally effort, and one must crave for it; you must desire it like a man desires and chases after a lady. Even when he gets hold of the lady, he must strategically do all that is necessary to make the lady love and stick to him, otherwise, the lady might be tempted to leave. That’s how success truly operates.

When you attain success, you must ensure that you maintain it by crossing the Ts and dotting the Is. It’s important to note that you can earn wealth, you can come first in class, you can distinguish yourself in any sporting activity, but what’s important is maintaining the top spot.

Sometimes, we mix-up goals and desires forgetting that there’s a thin line of difference between both of them. Did you know that you can desire something without necessarily putting in the work to attain it? In the same way, if you have a goal without a plan to actualize the goal, it becomes a mere wish. According to Greg Reid, “A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”

It’s instructive to note that goals are different from desires. While one is a mere wish, one is backed by action. It is the desires, passions, and sacrifice that you have for any idea that will determine how successful you will be in life. You can hardly succeed in a craft or business you are not passionate about. To truly succeed, in any endeavor, you must love what you are doing. Happiness and joy are critical to success. It is difficult to “succeed” in any craft you don’t like.

In connecting your desires, ambition, goals and interest, there’s a spiritual connection attached to your instinct, passion and happiness when you are working on purpose. It is this feeling that makes you spend countless hours and energy on the cause. While working on the project, you might feel hunger, experience disappointment, betrayal, or even failure, but what keeps you going is the internal feeling of fulfillment/joy you get while working on the project. This is the feeling of success. This feeling stimulates your goals and desires.

Do you know that success is relative? If you ask a thousand and one person what success means to them you are likely to get a thousand and one responses.

As an individual, if you are asked, what success means to you, what’s likely going to be your response? While some people will say building a house, getting married, having kids, and affording the good things of life without stress, some others person might say having XYZ amount of money in my bank account. Another set of persons might say training my children to be good children, having a good name or even achieving my personal and professional targets. Yet another set is wont to say living in superb health as it is universally believed that ‘wealth is health’.

It is therefore, obvious that, depending on who you speak to, every person’s case is literally different? This goes to say with equivocation that just as we have different taste buds, our individual tastes and preference to life is quite different.

It is imperative to note that planning and execution are two different ball games. While it may be easy to plan, it may not all be easy to implement/execute. We are in the third week of January, and some of us are already sliding back from the wishes, desires, and goals we set for ourselves early in the year, while some others are already hitting the ground running, with hundreds of thousands and millions of naira, dollar and pounds, depending on the currency of the host country, lining their bank accounts.

In conclusion, take time and examine the goals you set for yourself in 2022? What are the personal and professional training you plan to attend in 2022? Do you plan to read a book every week? Do you plan to publish a book? Do you plan to start your online business? Do you plan to go to the gym on a regular basis? The list is literally endless. The ultimate aim here is to reposition and change your mindset on the difference between desires and goals as they relate to attaining joy and fulfillment.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a 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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The Power of planning: Authentic Strategy for All-round Possibilities

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

Planning is winning, just as breathing is living. Those who do not SIT to study today should not expect to become Masters tomorrow. So, sit on your job; never depend on father’s inheritance or you offer yourself over to poverty. Your Work is what determines your WORTH, not what people think about you. – Bishop David O. Oyedepo

 

Planning is so vital to any man’s life and as well to any business endeavours. It is planning that gives value to PURPOSE. Purpose is dead without a PLAN. It is planning that empowers PURPOSE to deliver. Purpose is impotent without a PLAN! A farmer that does not plan will be a failure because, in farming endeavours, you need to plan your planting season, the various operations before and after the planting season otherwise, you will just be doing everything b anyhow (that is without a guide), then end up in frustration. Apostle Paul in the Scripture said, ‘I have watered, Apollo watered, but God brings the INCREASE! There must be a planting PLAN in place. If you want the best out of it, you must as well engage in the Watering Plan to be sure that, in case the rain fails, you will be sure that there is a way to get water to your plants so you can get your harvest.

Every building begins with a plan; you need a plan for any building of any value. Any building that holds any value requires a plan. The construction of any great building requires a plan. Hebrews 3:4 reveals that ‘For every house is built by some men, but he that built all things is God.’ Sometimes, we hear people say, we have built this business- this connotes that a business is also in form of a buildings, and it requires a plan (that is, a business plan). There must be a plan!

A Management theory was postulated by Bishop David Oyedepo, that: ‘You do not grow big to manage well, but you manage well to grow big.’ So businesses that will be big tomorrow will be seen today through the quality of the structural plan that is engaged. You get to know a better tomorrow right from today.

Most businesses today are victims of lack of a plan or poor planning. There is no differentiating procedure between the Capital and the Income (Profit) because, everything had been mobbed together, thinking that by the time their investment becomes bigger, they would be able to organize their business formats (proceeds).

“You do not need to have an account to be accountable! You only need strategic planning to maximize your business endeavours. If you are not futuristic in your approach, you cannot earn a future!’- Bishop David Oyedepo

This isn’t about mere planning, but making futuristic planning. It is a good management culture that guarantees good results. Whatever farm that is not properly managed is bound to fail; the quality of seed notwithstanding. Good management is key to the good fruit yielding capacity of any farm. The quality of management is what determines the quality of results. Therefore, management skill is key to determining the level of results that any organization could ever command. Just as you are aware that life not well managed will be wasted; time not well managed will be wasted; energy not well managed will be wasted. So, everything that is to grow must be well managed. Praying without planning is playing without knowing; and planning without programming is like playing in the woods (that is, lost in the wilderness); And programing without pursuit is like dinning with the dead. That is why it is said repeatedly that EXPLOIT is EXPENSIVE! So, from Purpose you must move into PLANNING, and from Planning, you section your PLANS into TIME-SLOTS and then, to SET GOALS! And them, the Pursuit begins- It is a POWER CYCLE!

PURPOSE-PLANNING-PROGRAMME-PURSUIT-RESULTS

You must continue the above processes till you draw your last breath. Prayer alone (I think) will make you a burden to God; it is Prayer with Planning that makes you a co-labourer with God. Your daily ‘give-me’ prayers bore God, but when you engage in planning with your prayers, you become co-labourer with God.

Proverbs 24:3-5 (KJV) reveals that: ‘Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding, it is filled with all manner of precious and pleasant riches.’

Amplified Version reveals: ‘Every enterprise is built by wise planning, and becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully, extra-ordinarily by keeping abreast of the facts.’

The future of every business (enterprise), therefore is at the mercy of very wise planning and a Common-sense Execution Programme (CEP) of the plan, engaging all available facts. The above defines planning in our various business or daily endeavours.

Every enterprise is built by wise planning, it becomes better through the use of Common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts. That is why it is needful to always consult resource materials in your facts hunting crave; and from there you are able to locate facts, relevant for your planning processes. It is the facts at your disposal that determines the quality of your planning process. When you give your house to an unprofessional, you should not expect the same result you would get from professional architect. Because of the facts available to at his disposal would know that needs to allow natural lightening to every space, he needs to mind ventilation at all cost, also, he will not be pushed by the clients to deliver unprofessionally, due to the fact that his reputation is at stake. So, it is your intellectual capacity, through consistent access to facts that determines the quality of your plan.

The Book of Proverbs 15:22 reveals that: ‘You need INSIGHTS for your Purposes not to be disappointed!

Counsel is the process of knowing the way to go, having clarity and intelligent path towards accomplishing your set-goal. Only those who take time to SIT well and strategize today would shine tomorrow. Proverbs 19:21 further reveals that: ‘Where there is no planning, purpose is bound to be defeated. Failing to plan is simply planning to fail! The goal of any business will remain unattainable without strategic planning. Dreams are aborted without planning!

Planning is the secret behind the fulfilment of dreams, therefore, of a truth, strategic planning is winning; it is the Master-key to enviable accomplishments.

 

WHAT THEN IS PLANNING?

 

A lot of people dabble into businesses without having prior knowledge of any management principles. The anointing gets wasted because there is no way to collate the output of the anointing. It is like having a drum full of petrol and you have and you have a hole porched in it; it is a matter of time before you know it the petrol would have dripped off via the hole drained. Planning therefore, is the cheapest way to avert wastage!

Energy, Time, Unction can all be wasted when there is no proper plan in place. So, planning is a way of conserving energy. Planning reliefs you of tensions. It is planning that empowers PURPOSE for very gallant delivery.

  • Planning is the design of a step by step approach to accomplishing a set-goal.
  • It is the ordering of one’s priority in a bid to accomplishing given task.
  • It is a process of action in a quest to fulfil a dream, that is, you SIT down to design a set of activities that will help you to accomplish a given task. You have to sit down to do it.

No one succeed by accident. It’s been said by somebody that Success is a matter of luck, as any failure. Why are some people said to be lucky? It is because they have a sharper plan. Shallow men think of luck, but great men think of cause and effect. Zig-Ziglar said: ‘any dummy can succeed, if he cares to know what it takes.’ Therefore, it takes sound planning to make a success of your business endeavours.

 

WHAT MAKES A GREAT PLAN?

If you want a great product, you must understand the best raw materials for it.

What is that makes a great plan?

To answer the above, we must understand the best raw materials for what makes great plan. We must understand that no one reigns without the use of the brain. It is the use of the brain that establishes the reign of a man.

Every gain is a result of the use of the brain. It is the use of the senses that makes a star. If planning is designing a logical and rational approach towards accomplishing a given task or a goal, then we can tell what the raw materials are. It is THINKING or REASONING!

Reasoning is the principal raw material for very sound planning. And to reason, is to engage in the task of logical, rational and analytical thinking.

Every great planner must be a great thinker. It is great thinking that makes great planning because, the principal raw materials required for sound planning is REASONING (that is, Strategic Thinking).

Thank you for reading.

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Food for Living: Understanding the Principles of Process

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By Henry Ukazu

Dear Destined Friends,

Life is filled with principles and once you miss out on the right principle, it will be difficult to recover from it. Imagine a student trying to solve mathematical problems, and misses the formula, he is likely to get the wrong answer. As a Law student or lawyer, before you can successfully pass your exam or win your case in the court of law, you must successfully apply the IRAC principle. The IRAC principles involve issues, rules, application, and conclusion. So for instance, if you want to resolve any legal question, you must know the issue; the issue is the most important aspect of any legal question. Law students or lawyers who are unable to spot the issues are not likely to win a legal battle. This is because the issues address what is at stake. Once you spot the issue, your next port of call is the applicable rule to apply. The issues determine the rule to apply. Once you determine the right rule, you will have to apply it in such a way it will fit into the case at hand and then, you conclude.

Principles are foundations that guide anyone, once you miss the principles or process, you might find yourself in a zigzag web. Regardless of your profession or vocation, you must understand the process. Process is very critical in life, but it’s quite unfortunate many people just want to bypass the process to get the desired result without doing the work. They fail to understand that it is the process that produces the interesting stories that make the result to be sweet. Every successful person has a story. They didn’t just become a success overnight. They passed through several hurdles which defined not only their success but also defined them.

Process is highly underrated by uninformed minds, but it is the foundation of any worthwhile project. Just like it takes nine months to produce a child, it also takes a process to get admission into a college, travel, or cook a delicious meal. Any effort to bypass the process might lead to unhealthy results. Let’s take a case study of someone who wants to travel to another country, you will have to apply for a visa, and pass through all immigrant processes before you are eligible to board a plane, and even when you board a plane, you must pass through all required immigration process upon arrival before can enter the designated country.

Process works in different styles and dimensions depending on what you want to achieve. If you are desirous of making a great impact in 2022 and in life, you must be ready to do the work. It’s quite easy to make promises, proclamations, resolutions, and wishes, but what is hard is keeping to them. Words are cheap, keeping them is what is expensive. Therefore, you must understand what is required before you embark on a journey. It’s just like someone who wants to build a house or edifice, you must lay a solid foundation that will keep the house intact. Failure to do so is preparing to fail.

On a personal note, I have tried to explore many opportunities, engage in businesses, establish friendships with resourceful people and prepare for professional exams without applying due process. At each stage, I failed in a spectacular way because I didn’t do my homework. Imagine starting a business, without a target audience in mind, or having a viable business plan which will determine the right systems and structure. Imagine also trying to establish a friendship with a resourceful person without doing basic research to know what the person likes and how you can be of value to the person. Imagine also preparing for a professional exam without doing the necessary work as prescribed. What is missing in each link here is the process.

Succeeding in life involves having the right principles and attitudes. Principles are universal. Just like the law of gravitation states whatever goes up must come down. Another worthy principle of life is the law of karma, it has no mouth, hand, or leg but it has unimaginable eyes, ears that fight unseen battles. I have counseled my friends on one of my guiding principles which state you will get what you want faster when you help other people to achieve what they want. When you do good, good has a way of coming back to you. It is just like the golden rule which states, do to others what you like them to do unto you.

You may be wondering why I’m stating these principles, well, they are life. When you apply the right principles to life, you will discover that you will attract goodwill which is literally priceless especially when you have the right attitudes. When you adopt and follow the right principles, humanity will find favor in you. Nobody literally likes anyone that cuts corners, but they are open to teaching or assisting anyone who is willing and open to learning.

The right principles work with the growth mindset, but the wrong principles make one shallow, uninformed, and limited in their thought process. People who don’t like processes are comfortable with the fixed mindset, they always have the victim mentality, they always feel the world is against them. If you adopt and have the right principles, “you will work smart as opposed to working hard” because the universe has a way of conspiring to work in your favor.

In conclusion, examine yourself and what you will like to do and then know what is required to achieve them. Put in the work, believe God, be open, work with the right people, accept criticism, plan carefully, re-strategize if your plans don’t work, and most importantly see failure as a learning curve when you fail. When you apply these principles while following the right process, be rest assured you have done the needful and believe the lines will add up for you. While preparing to get the best result, also prepare for the worst outcomes.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a  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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