In this interview by Bankole Taiwo, Mr Soji Ogunade, a business analyst, security expert, linguist and member of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Team in Diaspora speaks on while the former Vice President and 2023 PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar deserves to be the next president of the country among other topical issues.
Let’s have a bit of yourself sir?
I was born here at Ijebu Ode but grew up in Lagos. I later travelled outside the country about 20 years ago but I have always come home in between these years. I graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom, I studied Business Management and Law. I have my Diploma in Counseling skills as well. I speak French, German, English and Polish too. I am married to a Polish woman. I am a security analyst, I work in the security industry.
What is your thoughts on the problem of insecurity in the country?
It’s really unfortunate that our dear country is having so much challenges with our security, it’s something that makes some of us in the diaspora to develop goose pimples whenever the thought of coming home crosses our minds, yet you want to come and see your loved ones because East or West, home they say is the best. I am also of the opinion that this is a problem created by our politicians because things were not like this in the past. It’s terribly sad and my call is that those handling the affairs of this nation should please do more in this area. One major thing I think has contributed to our problem of insecurity is the unemployment of our large armies of youth, the energies that are supposed to be channeled towards productive ventures are now being use to cause problems here and there. there’s no nation who neglected investing in its youth, which is its leaders of tomorrow that will not suffer for it. Time is now to begin to invest massively in our youths, let the government create job opportunities for them. Honestly, I shed tears for the youth of this country because not much is done for them and an hungry man is said to be an angry man. Other countries of the world don’t joke with their youth. If for instance you are supposed be in school but you are not in the developed countries, you will receive a call for instance, asking why is Tunde not in school. The ASUU strike has been on for two months now, the students are out there just wandering around and only doing God knows what. There should really be a change in our commitment to developing our youths and creating job opportunities for them too.
What is your assessment of President Buhari’s government in the last seven years?
We can see the government doing something in the area of infrastructure, like the ongoing Lagos/Ibadan expressway, the rail too are back, even though we are still having issues with our economy but the biting part of it is the insecurity challenge. It has gone too well unchallenged or checked effectively, though, that is not to say that the government is doing nothing but it must do more to give security to the citizens. As long as we grapple with this problem of insecurity, the investors will always be scared of coming around to invest in the country and this means less jobs for our teeming youths. And like I have said earlier, we must get our youths productively engaged, it will really help to stem this tide of insecurity. I am too sure, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the next President of this country will take care of all of these when he gets to power by the grace of God next year.
Why do you think is the choice of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that Nigeria need to fix her challenges?
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a two term Vice President, a business mogul and educationist is no doubt someone who has gotten all that it takes to lift this country higher. He was at helms of affairs with former President Olusegun Obasanjo as his Vice for eight years, he knows substantially the challenges of this country and everyone knows that he has gotten the capability and he is competence enough to make this country work. He is a unifier, he has what it take to galvanise every part of this country and make us work as one big, indivisible family. I had little interaction with him last week while I was at Abuja and believe me, Nigerians won’t go wrong with Atiku come 2023. He will surely bring his wealth of experience to bear in restoring our lost glory. This is a man who has promised restructuring such that the country would be seen to be practicing true federalism and this I want to say will be beginning of greater prosperity for the country. Nigerians should believe in Atiku Abubakar, he is the right man for the job. He is prepared to take over from President Buhari come 2023, I am telling you, this is not a choice Nigerians will regret. I have said it and I am still saying it, Nigerians should please allow this highly resourceful leader to lead this great nation of ours come 2023.
Are you not afraid of being seen to be working against the agenda of the Southwest to produce the next president since the office had been occupied by the Northerner since 2015 and it is expected that power should go back to the South in 2023?
I am not a fan of rotational presidency or zoning, no, I am rather in support of competency and merit, Should it be about where you come from or what you have the capability to deliver? If I want to repair my car now, do I look for a Mechanic from my tribe or a good one, irrespective of his tribe who can help fix the problem? Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is competent and will deliver on our expectations of a greater Nigeria.
As a member of Atiku Abubakar Campaign team in diaspora, what are you likely to be doing as 2023 general elections approach?
We shall be galvanising support for our man, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and pass down the message to our loved ones back home to rally round the Waziri Adamawa and join other wonderful Nigerians to make him our next President in 2023.
What is your thoughts on voting by Nigerians in Diaspora?
That would have been very superb, if it is possible for us to get our passports over there, we should be able to get registered and vote too abroad. Americans and British abroad do that, we should be able to do same too. It will give us opportunity to have a say on the government back home. But until then, those of us who can afford it will have to come around and perform our civic duty whenever the time comes.
As 2023 elections hot up, what do you think Nigerians should do right?
Nigerians should please go for leaders who are competent, they should resist this evil of selling their votes for N5000, N10,000 and then suffer for another four years. They should please identify those who can put smiles on their faces, those with selfless leadership qualities and vote for them. They should think about the future of their children and make the right choice. I tell you Nigeria has the potentials to be greater than the United States if only we can organise ourselves, and we will be begin to organise ourselves when we begin to vote in people who can do the job and not because of one sentiment or the other.
Forex speculators are hurting the economy — ASHON Chairman
In this interview, the Chairman, Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON) and a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr Sam Onukwue, spoke on a range of issues that need to be addressed to boost activities in the Nigerian capital market, including how the government can strengthen the value of the Naira.
Why do you think the issue of leveraging the capital market to fund infrastructure by the government has continued to be a focal point of discussion in the financial market ?
The capital market remains one of the best sources of medium and long term finance for the government to bridge infrastructure gap in Nigeria. We at ASHON have always canvased that government at all tiers should take advantage of the market to float fixed income securities to fund infrastructure projects. The continuous oversubscription of SUKUK Bonds signifies investors’ appetite for safety of their capital in a recessionary period. The capital market has absorptive capacity to fund most of the infrastructure and this will reduce the government’s dependent on borrowing.
ASHON has just held its Annual General Meeting (AGM), can you provide an insight ?
It was a very successful Annual General Meeting. The Governing Council, through my Statement, informed our Members, the series of ASHON’s engagements with some critical stakeholders as part of our market development functions. The Council and Management, were commended on the prudent management of resources, especially, the downward trend in the budget for transportation, despite the hike in the pump price of petroleum and allied products. We shall continue to collaborate with other stakeholders to build investor confidence in the market.
What is uppermost in your mind with the current state of economy in Nigeria?
The Federal Government should address the macroeconomic vagaries such as exchange rate volatility and rising inflation rate. These amongst others have continued to affect business decisions. We have limited sources of foreign exchange. The Federal Government has announced its plan to boost the supply side. The implementation should be accorded utmost urgency. The concern is the source of the demand pressure for forex. Is it from genuine business people and organisations or speculators? Speculators are hurting the economy by buying Dollar to keep as a store of value for speculative purposes. Government can reverse the ugly trend by addressing the supply side. If there is stability in the exchange rate, it will have multiplier effects on other economic activities and boost the value of the Naira. ASHON has at several times urged the federal government to tap into an array of investment in the commodities space to generate employment opportunities, boost export trade and grow the Gross Domestic Products (GDP). Solid mineral is a cash cow. Government should direct its searchlight to the sector to take control of the revenue and protect the revenue from going into private pockets.
What is the nexus between the Capital Market and the economy?
At the basic level, the capital market, especially the stock market, is the barometer that gauges the economy. Its array of statistics show the direction of an economy. This is why it is often said that there is a linear relationship between the development of a capital market and the economy. The capital market provides a platform for the government to mobilise long term funds to finance infrastructure. Companies utilise the market to raise funds for a series of projects while retail and institutional investors need the market for capital formation and other benefits. Studies have shown that there is correlation between the development of an economy and its capital market.
What should be the pre-occupation of ASHON in the rapidly changing dynamics in the market?
ASHON has always been at the forefront of ensuring that its members operate professionally while the Association collaborates with the capital market regulators, operators and other stakeholders in the ecosystem. Our members played pivotal roles during banks’ recapitalisation and demutualisation of The Exchange among others.
How would you respond to the new short term measures that the Committee on Tax Reform has announced to make Nigeria a tax-friendly environment ?
The Tax Reform Committee, chaired by Mr Taiwo Oyedele has come up with some laudable quick wins to address the nagging issues of taxation, militating against investments in Nigeria. The fact is that while official taxes in Nigeria are 60, people contend with over 200 different types of taxes. The Committee’s recommendations will go a long way in restoring some level of sanity into taxation in Nigeria and that will enhance the government’s revenue drive from the sector without inflicting pains on the majority of Nigerians. We are all awaiting the implementation. ASHON had at different fora canvassed the need to take a second look at Capital gain Tax (CGT) to reduce transaction cost and attract all cadres of investors into the capital market. This is consistent with the need for the government to implement market-friendly policies to encourage more companies to seek quotation on the securities markets. A conducive tax environment will make our market more competitive .
Would you encourage investors to take a position in the market at the moment?
Regardless of the state of uncertainties in the global financial markets, investors that take sound investment advice have opportunities for superior return on investment on a consistent basis. Many investors often lose huge amounts of money by relying on their own intuition or consulting unqualified investment advisers. Investment in any asset class requires a lot of variables, including an investor’s investment objective, risk tolerance, sources of funds and time horizon, amongst others. Investment is a trade-off of risk and return, whereby an investor aspires to post the highest return at the lowest risk. This is achievable if proper analysis is done by certified investment advisers. Our members shall continue to engage investors on the need to work closely with stockbrokers for timely investment advice.
What is your advice to investors on risk management?
There is no asset without a risk element. The government bond is classified as risk-free, yet, it cannot be insulated from inflation risk, exchange rate risk and a host of others. What we are saying is that risk can be mitigated to ensure superior returns. In every risky situation, there are opportunities. The same applies to investment. It is all about understanding and deploying appropriate investment strategies. It’s not a game of one-size-fits-all. Contacting a professional investment adviser is in itself a risk-aversion measure. Investment professionals profile their clients as a precondition for advice on the appropriate investment opportunities.
How would you describe the relationship between the government and the stockbrokers?
We are partners in progress but the government can do a lot more by taking inputs from Stockbrokers whenever policy issues on the financial market are initiated. We expect a more cordial relationship with the appointment of two of our members at the heart of the economy- The Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Mr Yemi Cardoso, the new Central Bank (CBN) Governor. Stockbrokers play major roles in the capital market and they are the most visible operators. Every stockbroker is certified by the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) while at the corporate level, we have ASHON of which I am the Chairman. ASHON is a registered Trade Group by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Market development is at the core of ASHON’s and CIS’ activities.
Each group provides blueprints to the government annually on how it can utilise the market to grow the economy. The challenge is the failure of the government to utilise our inputs. Worse still, the Federal Government does not take inputs from the market operators on any capital market policy whereas the operators are the bridge between the Government and investors. This is one area that we believe that the new administration would make a difference in order to rejuvenate the economy.
Nigeria’s focus on renewable energy is a misplaced priority — UN SDG Executive
HANNAH OSAYANDE BERE is a United Nations SDG Advocate, mental health ambassador, sustainability executive, and advocate for gender inclusion. She was born with a passion for humanity and sustainable growth. In an interview with OMOLOLA DEDE ADEYANJU, she discussed how Nigeria can achieve sustainable economic growth, a balanced level of gender inclusion, and reach the UN’s 2030 agenda for member states.
How did you become a mental health ambassador?
I am a born survivor, I lost my mum and my immediate younger brother in a house fire and that was the biggest house fire ever seen in my community at the time. It happened when I was thirteen years old so I didn’t know how to process it. I was more of frustrated, deppressed, and being from an African home, my dad did what he could do but what I needed at that time was a therapist, a counsellor, I needed someone to talk to but instead it was a case of ‘she will be fine, she is bereaving’.
So growing up I knew I should also help other people battle depression, I started researching on how I can help, what I can do to help people most especially in Africa, in Nigeria. I also remember someone telling me ‘you can actually pass for a mental health ambassador because of the way you talk to people, your level of empathy and your passion’. I was nineteen as at the time, hence I began receiving trainings and certifications. Being a mental health ambassador although started as a passion of mine but overtime it became a career.
Just before I had my first child I got my certificate on mental health training then after the birth of my second child I became a certified ambassador due to the different achievements I got. At this point I delved into focusing on mothers, it was so incredible that the niche became women battling postpartum depression. I became an advocate, an ambassador helping them come out of that and thenceforward different organizations started reaching out to me for public speaking and consultancy.
Being a mental health ambassador has helped me in my career in terms of sustainability, as we know ESG, the S stands for Social. My approach, feedback is based on empathy, getting to hear people’s stories and seeing ways to help them out.
What are your achievements as a mental health ambassador so far?
As little as a smile on a child’s face is, it’s a great achievement for me. A smile that comes from something positive I have done, like giving food to them is an achievement for me no matter how little and that’s why this career is a very passionate path to me. The impact my job has is real time that changes lives and I do not take it for granted.
What are those sustainable policies you think our leaders should adopt to change this consequent stories of negative leadership in Nigeria?
Well, unfortunately that is a very exhausting question to answer but I will say that the Nigerian government is neglecting the S in ESG, the S is Social and Social is People. The Nigerian government is neglecting its people, I understand the current government said we are going to let the market handle prices, float prices and currencies and let the market decide.
There’s nothing in place, you can’t just make a decision without putting an option or buffers in place for your people to leverage on. The people are frustrated! Sustainability is not just about planet or profit but the people. The people have the same complain over and again, I think that’s where we have to revert to the United Nations SDG goals.
The goals were enacted so that the people could have a sense of prosperity, people, partnership, community, culture. There are 17goals stipulated and they are incredibly helpful and straight forward. The top eight of the goals are; zero poverty; zero hunger; good health and wellbeing; quality Education; gender inclusion; clean water; renewable energy; decent work and economic growth.
I don’t think it’s too much for a government to say, while we are making such a big change, let’s focus on a particular area. Food should be affordable, this is not negotiable, access to clean water, these basic things. People should have access to decent jobs, industrialization at the grass root levels.
The United Nations have given the blueprints of the top 8 SDG goals that if you focus on achieving them, by 2030, your country will thrive, if not totally but there will be an incline, a growth process for your state.
Even giving out palliatives of ten thousand naira doesn’t make sense knowing the kind of community you have created where everything is so pricey. Such approach is an intentional one to make the people remain in abject poverty. Who are the President’s advisers and what are they advising? Every home, every community should literally have food, you need to restructure and restrategize. I
Do you think overpopulation is a major problem to getting a sustainable economy for Nigeria?
I can never say our population is a barrier because there are other countries with vast population than ours and they are doing very well to a particular level in respect to sustainability. This is a case of not having the right awareness, not having the right strategy to reach every community to every end, it’s all about the right strategy.
Can you pinpoint a strategy for the government?
Definitely I will to the right ears because if I give a strategy now, the execution may be given to the wrong person to execute. However, the ideologist of an idea should be the one vested with the responsibility of execution. Only who profers the startegy can give the right implementation of it.
What is your core interest from the 17 sustainability goals?
The people and the planet nevertheless I will say the people first because the people is life. Like I said earlier, I am a mom, I make moves on a sustainable impact for my kids to say my mom has done all these so that we don’t need to go through all that in future. For planet, what are we doing to protect our community, our environment, country, people? are key questions for me.
Therefore, the United Nations sustainability role is no longer a job but a lifestyle to me.
Since you started Advocating for gender inclusion, what have you realized or accomplished so far locally, globally or within your own space?
I have been Advocating for gender inclusion even before I knew what the word meant. I remember a time I went to a village in Benin city with my mom when I was about eight years old and we were speaking to the elders and some children but I noticed that the girls were not communicating with me. I asked my mom why and was told they couldn’t understand English because the girls in that community were not allowed to go to school. I asked my mom how I can teach them English language and she retorted that I have to be a teacher first. So growing up when my dad asked me what I wanted to become I told him I would like to be a teacher. Being an African dad, he told me I was either going to be a lawyer, engineer, or a doctor, howbeit, I have an incredible dad, when I told him I actually want to return to that community to empower a lot of girls he gave me his support and indulged me. I studied English education in Benin city and I was able to fill that vacuum of my heart.
I wear the shoes, I am a woman and no gender can tell better what is faced by women than women. I have seen some places in Nigeria where a woman doesn’t attain a certain position, where the women get lesser pay than men, and so many even think that the role of a woman starts and ends in the bedroom and kitchen. That’s the kind of community Nigeria has built which is very unfortunate.
I remember when I was in the job hunting world, I told myself any organization I will be sending an application to, I will have to go through the list and profiles of the board of directors, if there are no women or no black women, or minority groups represented, such is not fit for my consideration. This is because if your managements are not diverse in the UK, a nation that is very diverse, then you are indirectly telling me there’s no way I can rise to that level no matter the impact.
Also, in Nigeria we have a long way to go, there should be a sustainable engagement of both genders in the system. The nation is changing notwistanding the change is not loud or major enough. Women can be tender and still be very productive. Nigeria will do better with women as leaders in higher authorities. Organizations that practice the EDI- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion do better than those who just stick to the norms. If the government can bring up a gender inclusion policy for organizations, there will surely be a change in that aspect. More people will speak up and see it as human right if there is more campaign and awareness around ESG and EDI.
As a renewable energy expert, let’s talk about barriers to a sustainable economic growth and draw our case study from energy and its impact on the manufacturing sector.
When people have not eaten, the last thing they will be thinking of is how to draw resources for power supply. How many people can afford solar systems even when we say it is affordable. What do we mean by affordability. Before we start looking at renewable energy, why don’t we ensure diesel, gas, eletricity is as affordable as a sachet of water? Before we get to investing in renewable energy we should have subsidized a whole lot on various items, then people would of necessity welcome the idea of renewable energy. It shouldn’t be our focus for now.
When I learnt that renewable energy is getting big in Nigeria I did a market survey and realized that only a minute number of our population can afford to have solar systems in their homes. That’s an avenue that is concentrated on profit alone, it is not an industry that cares about the average Nigerians but the rich alone. This is not and should not be our focus now. The focus should be zero poverty, jobs for people, quality education. There are other things that takes precedence over renewable energy.
But energy affects cost of production which directly also affects the cost of commodities coming to everyone at every level
The government should just ensure the diesel and other gasoline being used presently are affordable and this will positively also affect cost of production. The government needs to step up to make affordability their goal.
How far have we gone with the UN’s 2030 Agenda? and how has UN supported Nigeria in respect to its claims to support member states for the achievements of this agenda?
An average Nigerian is not even aware of UN and what they do because they haven’t even gotten awareness of policies and the agenda of the Nigerian government and I can tell you for sure that United Nations actually support member states and are also rendering supports to Nigeria however the question is, does the system ensure that every Nigerian benefits from it, even to the grassroot level?
How NGOs, religious bodies can utilise technology to maximize impact — Emmanuel Ogbewele
The just concluded RCCG’s Minister’s Conference 2023 was indeed a memorable event which took place on the 21st of October, 2023. This yearly national event attracted thousands of Ministers of the gospel of The Redeemed Christian Church Of God with various eye opening sessions empowering Minister’s to take on the gospel more prepared.
At this year’s event, Lagos Province 65, trained hundreds of Minister’s under various sections CSR, Hospitality, Tech and Digital space and a lot more.
We were able to seize a moment with Emmanuel Ogbewele, the Tech speaker at this year’s event who trained well over 200 live attendees at the House of Praise, Lagos Province 65 Headquarters on “Digital World and Virtual Space – A Panacea for Church Growth Today (Focus on IT and Social Media).
What has the experience been like at today’s event?
It has indeed been awesome, all sessions before the tech training was indeed a build up and an eye opener for all Ministers.
Can you briefly tell us what you trained on today?
Yes, as a tech expert, I spend some time showing people how to adapt and use technology to their advantage and this is what the Minister’s learnt at the tech conference.
– Understanding the Digital Space and Virtual World
– Practical steps to run digital campaigns with a view to attract more members in line with the Vision 2032 mandate of the RCCG.
– Steps to implement this even at smaller church levels.
It was an hour most of the participants did not want to end.
What is that major take home you want all participants to remember?
The Digital Space is open for everyone to explore, religious bodies, NGOs and everyone is not left out. Start small implementing the processes learnt but never stop. Thank you.
forecasts 3-day sunshine, haziness from SundayNiMet
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