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Nigeria at 59: What are you doing about Changing the Narrative?

Nigeria is 59 today!

Yes, the Nation known as Nigeria was granted Independence by the British precisely 59 years ago. Since then, she has been trying hard to get her acts right but alas, many of the indices for National development are red.

I clearly recall that many years ago, people always referred to Nigeria as the giant of Africa, this is 2019 and looking at the realities of today, I think it is honestly fair to refer to Nigeria as the ‘sleeping giant of Africa’.

So, how do we awaken this sleeping giant?

This is the big question we have to answer as a Nation. For a lot of people, there is really no answer to this question and so they have made a decision to simply migrate in search of greener pastures or/and as many would say because they want better opportunities for their kids. Whatever be the case, the reality is that some of our smartest brains are leaving the country in droves and we need to curb the situation.

Well, this leads to a follow-up question and which is simply, what are we all doing individually and collectively to change the narrative?

If you are reading this post, then please take out time to answer this question. It is very convenient to blame the Government for everything – I agree that the Government at all levels has failed but do we wallow in that challenge or individually and collectively do something about the situation?

If by any chance, you follow the work that I do, then you may realise that while I acknowledge and appreciate the challenges, I am doing all I can to be the change I want to see.

Let me mention some of the few things that I am doing to make a difference:

  1. Tech Trends, Channels Television: my goal for the show remains the same, serve as a voice for technology in the country.
  2. ICT Clinic, Punch Newspapers: highlight challenges and policies affecting the growth of technology in the country.
  3. Founder Institute Lagos: our goal is to ensure that we create opportunities for more people looking to launch a startup. I believe entrepreneurship is one way to help accelerate the development of our country Nigeria.
  4. Innovation Support Network (ISN) Hubs: a network focused on helping deepen the growth of entrepreneurship in the country.

I love what one the Founders at FI.co Lagos and CEO, Rentit.ng, Seun Abimbola, wrote here about what Nigeria can look like come 2035. Do you believe?

These are some of the ways I have committed to continue adding value for the sake of our dear country.

So, my question to you as Nigeria celebrates 59, what are you doing differently to change the narrative?

For every big challenge Nigeria faces, there are 10 possible solutions/opportunities out there.

– Prof. Charles Soludo, Former CBN Governor

E-gov

NITEC To Champion E-Governance in Nigeria

Shortly after he assumed office as the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adeabyo Shittu, shared the deep sense of urgency the Federal Government feels for implementation e-Government Master Plan by 2020, which is a key blueprint for improving the delivery of public sector services using technology.

The e-Government Master Plan developed by the Federal Ministry of Communications is such a compendium of an essential blueprint of modalities and protocols for the adoption of e-Government best practices, across the Federal Civil Service.

Under the plan, all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are embracing the e-Government Plan, the Minister said. “I must, most earnestly, share with you the deep sense of urgency that I, and the entire Ministry of Communications, feel as per the importance of the e-Government Master Plan 2020”, Shittu told attendees at the Stakeholders Engagement Workshop on e-Government Master Plan 2020.

Yes, such transformation drive will engender an information-rich government while invoking new contract or agreement between the Government and the citizens on clear principles for further digitization of government, in particular for Services provided to citizens and businesses.

The immediate gains we expect are such as compulsory adoption of e-invoicing for government departments, e-procurement, and social rights and tariffs will be granted automatically. At that point social justice would have returned and government would have curried public flavor too. We are all witnesses how TSA is delivering the country from the shackles of graft, corruption and perpetual embezzlements in the past

Therefore and with the topic as “what the digitalization of government and public sectors means for the eco-system”, NITEC 2016 shares the Minister’s position because the government and its agencies have come under intense scrutiny and are realizing that technology is helping citizens hold them more accountable.

What will be the new economy that will be created as a result of digitalizing only 30% of Nigeria’s public sector?

According to KPMG documentation on the subject, it was pointed out that the digital transformation of government is not only a great challenge but also a great opportunity for taking a great leap forward. The expectation in this era signifies “The government has to provide the same or even better services to citizens and businesses, but with less resources. As a result, the focus has been put on administrative simplification, more efficient procedures, and combating fraud. The ‘Only Once’ principle offers the government the possibility of achieving those objectives’ (KPMG).

The document also described the ‘Servant of the People’ principle as the power of integrity in politics and government.

In Nigeria, we have heard of public office holders referring themselves to ‘Chief Servant’ or what have you, but this is basically who holds ‘a position, paid or unpaid, in the public sector’. Technology of this nature aids office holders to be more responsive, proactive and interactive; serving the purpose of their ‘calling’, and they must handle this power with integrity.

But how can they do this? Muel Kaptein, Partner at KPMG Advisory NV and professor in business ethics and integrity management at the RSM Erasmus University in Rotterdam, is the author of “The Servant of the People: the power of integrity in politics and government” in which he offers insight and practical assistance for officials in the public sector. The central message is that there is great power in integrity for servants of the people which is primarily guaranteed by transparent nature of technology.

NITEC is such a platform that will aptly provide the needed e-governance latitude with key deliverables of improving public sector delivery of the dividends of good governance to the people of Nigeria through the using of new information and communication technologies (ICTs).

For instance, stakeholders ought to be on same page on how to tackle the complicities in .ng domain registration by States and local government. Or how can one describe the low acceptance of the Nigeria’s internet domain name, .ng largely due to non-challant of the authorities on policy formation. With the population of Nigeria within the range of 170m, with less than 100,000 domains registration in NiRA’s database.

It was found that digital transformations require changes, to both processes and IT systems that are more challenging to implement in the public sector than in the private sector. Thus, a joint study by McKinsey and Oxford University found that public-sector IT projects requiring business change were six times more likely to experience cost overruns and 20 percent more likely to run over schedule than such projects in the private sector.

Regardless of where a public-sector organization is in its digitization journey, there are impeccable reasons to start, scale, or evaluate its programs. Tentatively, giving in e-governance rings a win for government-wide and agency-deep commitment to specific digital targets; establish government-wide coordination of IT investments; leading to redesign processes with the end user in mind; hire and nurture the right talent; use big data and analytics to improve decision making, and protect critical infrastructure and confidential data.

These will eliminate what Chris Uwaje, the doyen of Software in Nigeria calls, “Match-Box Vision”, following incoherent manner of policy formulation and implementation.

The relevance of discussions slated for NITEC 2016 cannot be overemphasized, especially the nation’s economy is in tatters due to over dependent on oil. Oil can drive, but innovations driven by technology evolve daily.

Holding at Civic Centre, Lagos from 23rd-24th of June, NITEC 2016 remains a formidable to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors and the international technology community in re-engineering the African technological ecosystem for greater impact on the continent’s GDP.

Likewise, through plenary sessions and exhibitions the worth of our technology system will be showcased to thousands of attendees; exhibition booth (2 days); placement of brand logo on event brochure and website; complimentary wifi, place web banners and share branded gifts at booths.

The renowned speakers will spark deepened conversation and help through up new innovations that will help Nigeria and indeed, Africa, on digitization. Be there!

sick_patient

Junk Food and the Rising Case of Terminal Illnesses in Nigeria

I often wonder if advancement and development comes with the rise of terminal diseases?

Unfortunately, from a layman’s perspective, I will say that it is most likely the case because of the alarming number terminal illnesses I often hear of and in some instances, through which a few people I know have lost their lives.

Terminal Illnesses, by whatever name they are called, are not pleasant at all, so, while we should Trust God that these diseases of the ‘Egyptians’ will not be our lot, we should also strive to EAT right and cut down on junk food as much as possible.

I know it is not easy to completely avoid junk food, but I have made a commitment to drastically cut down on the amount I consume and those around me can attest to that fact. This is because I understand that God has give me a role in perfecting His will for my life.

Many people you know are already digging their graves by what they allow to pass through their mouth, all in the name of modernization or trying to keep up with the Joneses. Increasingly, many families now rely on these junk foods because both parents are too busy to cook nutritious meals.

I am writing this post from an eatery after I observed how many people are busy dealing (eating) different types of junk meals which includes pizzas, burgers, and the rest of what we enjoy consuming as part of our modern lifestyle. The question that prompted this post stems from a deep thought in my heart. What could be the relationship of this new culture, which our parents never had, to the rising cases of terminal illnesses?

Will people be healthier if they avoided junk food completely? What future will our children have, if they eat mostly junk food?

My word of advice, (not as a medical practitioner, though), to everyone out there is, EAT RIGHT & STAY HEALTHY!

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Facts about Fuel Subsidy you must know by Pastor Tunde Bakare

The fuel subsidy debate is currently the most burning National issue and I think it will remain that way for a while. I got wind of Pastor Tunde Bakare’s thoughts on fuel subsidy and decided to publish it.

Please read, digest and share. I recently wrote “My Thoughts on the fuel subsidy removal policy.”

…… from Pastor Tunde Bakare
fuel subsidy

1) DEFINITION

To subsidise is to sell a product below the cost of production. Since the federal government has been secretive about the state of our refineries and their production capacity, we will focus on importation rather than production. So, in essence, within the Nigerian fuel subsidy context, to subsidise is to sell petrol below the cost of importation.

2) THE UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The Nigerian government claims that Nigerians consume 34 million litres of petrol per day. The government has also said publicly that N141 per litre is the unsubsidised pump price of petrol imported into Nigeria. (N131.70 kobo being the landing price and N9.30 kobo being profit.)

3) ANNUAL COST OF IMPORTATION

Daily Fuel Consumption: 34 million litres Cost at Pump: N141.00 No. of days in a regular year: 365 days Total cost of all petrol imported yearly into Nigeria:

Litres Naira Days 34m x 141 x 365 = N1.75 trillion

4) COST BORNE BY THE CONSUMERS

Nigerians have been paying N65 per litre for fuel, haven’t we? Therefore, cost borne by the consumers =

Litres Naira Days 34m x 65 x 365 = N807 billion

5) COST OF SUBSIDY BORNE BY THE GOVERNMENT

In 2011 alone, government claimed to have spent N1.3 trillion by October – the bill for the full year, assuming a constant rate of consumption is N1.56 trillion.

Consequently, the true cost of fuel subsidy borne by the government is: Total cost of importation minus total borne by consumers, i.e. N1.75 trillion minus N807 billion = N943 billion.

Unexplainable difference: N617 billion

The federal government of Nigeria cannot explain the difference between the amount actually disbursed for fuel subsidy and the cost borne by Nigerians (N1.56 trillion minus N943 billion = N617 billion).
fuel subsidy

6) BOGUS CLAIM BY THE GOVERNMENT

A government official has claimed that the shortfall of N617 billion is what goes to subsidising our neighbours through smuggling. This is pathetic. But let us assume (assumption being the lowest level of knowledge) that the government is unable to protect our borders and checkmate the brisk smuggling going on. Even then, the figures still don’t add up. This is because even if 50% of the petrol consumed in each of our neighbouring countries is illegally exported from Nigeria, the figures are still inaccurate. Why?

WORLD BANK’S FIGURES: POPULATIONS OF WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES

NIGERIA: 158.4 million BENIN: 8.8 million TOGO: 6 million CAMEROUN: 19.2 million NIGER: 15.5 million CHAD: 11.2 million GHANA: 24.4 million

The total population of all our six (6) neighbours is 85.5 million.

Let’s do some more arithmetic:

a) Rate of Petrol Consumption in Nigeria: Total consumed divided by total population:

34 million litres divided by 158.8 million people = 0.21 litres per person per day.

b) Rate of Petrol Consumption in all our 6 neighbouring countries, assumed to be the same as Nigeria:

0.2 litres x 85.5 million people = 18.35 million litres per day

Now, if we assume that 50% of the petrol consumed in all the six neighbouring countries comes from Nigeria, this value come to 9.18 million litres per day.

7) PATHETIC ABSURDITY

There are two illogicalities flowing from this smuggling saga.

a) If 9.18 million litres of petrol is truly smuggled out of our borders per day, then ours is the most porous nation in the word. This is why: The biggest fuel tankers in Nigeria have a capacity of about 36,000 litres. To smuggle 9.18 million litres of fuel, you need 254 trucks.

What our government is telling us is that 254 huge tankers pass through our borders every day and they cannot do anything about it. This is not just acute incompetence, but also a serious security challenge. For if the government cannot stop 254 tanker trailers from crossing the border daily, how can they stop importation of weapons or even invasion by a foreign country?

b) 2nd illogicality: Even if we believe the government and assume that about 9.18 million litres is actually taken to our neighbours by way of smuggling every day, and all this is subsidised by the Nigerian government, the figures being touted as fuel subsidy still don’t add up. This is why:

Difference between pump price before and after fuel subsidy removal = N141.00 – N65.00 = N76.00

Total spent on subsidizing petrol to our neighbours annually = N76.00 x 9.18 million litres x 365 days = N255 billion

If you take the N255 billion away from the N617 billion shortfall that the government cannot explain, there is still a shortfall of N362 billion. The government still needs to tell us what/who is eating up this N362 billion ($2.26 billion USD).

8) ILLOGICAL ASSUMPTIONS

i) We have assumed that there are no working refineries in Nigeria and so no local petrol production whatsoever – yet, there is, even if the refineries are working below capacity.

ii) Nigeria actually consumes 34 million litres of petrol per day. Most experts disagree and give a figure between 20 and 25 million litres per day. Yet there is still an unexplainable shortfall even if we use the exaggerated figure of the government.

iii) Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cameroun, Niger, and Chad all consume the same rate as Nigeria and get 50% of their petrol illegally from Nigeria through smuggling.

These figures simply show the incompetence and insincerity of our government officials. This is pure banditry.

9. The simplest part of the fuel subsidy arithmetic will reveal one startling fact: That the government does not need to subsidise our petrol at all if we reject corruption and sleaze as a way of life. Check this out:

a) NNPC crude oil allocation for local consumption = 400,000 barrels per day (from a total of 2.450 million barrels per day).

b) If our refineries work at just 30%, 280,000 barrels can be sold on the international market, leaving the rest for local production.

c) Money accruing to the federal government through NNPC on the sale, using $80/bbl – a conservative figure as against the current price of $100/bbl – would be $22.4m per day. Annually this translates to $8.176bn or N1.3 trillion.

d) The government does not need to subsidise our petrol imports – at least not from the Federation Account. The same crude that should have been refined by NNPC is simply sold on the international market (since our refineries barely work) and the money is used to buy petrol. The 400,000 barrels per day given to NNPC for local consumption can either be refined by NNPC or sold to pay for imports. This absurdity called fuel subsidy should be funded with this money, not the regular FGN budget.

If the FGN uses it regular budget for subsidising petrol, then what happens to the crude oil given to NNPC for local refining that gets sold on the international market?

10) TACTICAL BLUNDER

The federal government is making the deregulation issue a revenue problem. Nigerians are not against deregulation. We have seen deregulation in the telecom sector and Nigerians are better for it, as even the poor have access to telephones now right before the eyes of those who think it is not for them.

What is happening presently is not deregulation (so called fuel subsidy removal) but an all-time high fuel pump increase, unprecedented in the history of our nation by a government that has gone broke due to excessive and reckless spending largely on themselves. If the excesses of all the three tiers of government are seriously curbed, that would free enough money for infrastructural development without unduly punishing the poor citizens of this country.

Let me just cite, in closing, the example of National Assembly excesses and misplaced spending as contained in the 2012 budget proposal:

  • Number of Senators = 109
  • Number of Members of the House of Representatives = 360
  • Total Number of Legislators = 469
  • 2012 Budget Proposal for the National Assembly = N150 billion
  • Average Cost of Maintaining Each Member = N320 million
  • Average Cost of Maintaining Each Member in USD $2.1 million/year

Time has come for the citizens of this country to hold the government accountable and demand the prosecution of those bleeding our nation to death. Until this government downsizes, cuts down its profligacy and leads by example in modesty and moderation, the poor people of this country will not and must not subsidise the excesses of the oil sector fat cats and the immorality cum fiscal scandal of the self-centred and indulgent lifestyles of those in government.

Here is a hidden treasure of wisdom for those in power while there is still time to make amends:

“Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death. The violence of the wicked will destroy them because they refuse to do just.” – PROVERBS 21:6&7

A word of counsel for those who voted for such soulishly indulgent leadership:

“Never trust a man who once had no shoes, or you may end up losing your legs.”

This is the conclusion of the matter on fuel subsidy removal:

i) “If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked.” (Proverbs 29:12) ii) “The Righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness. Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and will not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:12&13)

Thanks for your attention.

God bless you all.

Pastor Tunde Bakare is a fiery pastor cum politician.

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What is your opinion on the fuel subsidy removal policy?

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