Oppressive minimum wage and the futility of an increase

By Henry Boyo

It would be heartless to ignore organised labour’s demand for an urgent upward review of the subsisting N18,000 per month minimum wage, which was fixed over six years ago, when this income was above the international value of $150, i.e. above $5/day and more than double the poverty bench mark of less than $2/day.

Regrettably, as the naira crashed from about N155 between 2010 and 2011  to the present N360 = $1, the purchasing power of the same N18,000 minimum wage has now sadly dwindled to barely $0.50. Worse still, this value will pathetically diminish, if the inevitable distortions triggered by annual inflation rates between 10 and 17 per cent, since 2011, are also factored. It is undeniable, therefore, that millions of Nigerians, who earn N18,000 monthly salary, would have been shunted down the poverty drain in recent years.

Furthermore, the collateral reduction in consumer demand caused by the devastating crash in real income value would, invariably, also constrain cost effective capacity utilisation in factories and other commercial houses, and in turn, expectedly precipitate massive layoffs, with serious social and economic consequences, as indeed, presently amplified by the palpable level of insecurity, seemingly fuelled by a growing number of unemployed youths nationwide.

In reality, however, with ravaging devaluation and unyielding double digit inflation rates, every salary income that does not increase as fast as the prevailing inflation rate will invariably compel severe belt-tightening in most Nigerian homes. Arguably, the constant inability to successfully stretch depreciating income through every calendar month, may unfortunately, induce the temptation to engage in corrupt enrichment at workplaces and offices, particularly when children’s school fees, accommodation and medicare challenges also require urgent attention. Sadly, in such circumstances, an otherwise upright citizen may begin to rationalise any opportunity for corrupt enrichment as ‘”divine” provision.

The preceding is not intended to justify corruption in offices and workplaces, but, the temptation to engage in corrupt practices would, probably, be more courageously dismissed if workers’ legitimate wages commanded values that could accommodate some level of dignity in their lifestyles.

In retrospect, we recall that before the Structural Adjustment Programme in 1986, middle-level administrative officers, including teachers, built personal homes and funded (often with significant sacrifice) their children’s  education, even up to tertiary level, from legitimate incomes, admittedly, often with support from enterprising spouses.

Similarly, it is still commonplace in the UK, which was once our colonial overlord, for blue collar workers such as drivers and road sweepers, for example,  with regular jobs, to obtain facilities to buy a car or a house, so long as their projected legitimate income will cover the agreed mortgage payments by instalment.

Conversely, it is impossible for a Nigerian white collar executive, with an exceptionally handsome N1m monthly salary package, to acquire a simple three-bedroom apartment, after the usual deductions, such as taxes and other existential commitments are made from their legitimate salaries.

Thus, in view of the obvious social and economic significance of paying realistic living wages, it would be truly inconceivable to challenge labour’s pressing demand for an urgent, significant upward review of the minimum wage to N56,000/month, (or $3/day) i.e. a purchasing value of about $150/month, when N360 exchanges for $1 in the foreign exchange market, so that the new minimum wage will in effect, exceed the $2/day poverty benchmark. Nonetheless, a N56,000 monthly income may still not provide any surplus, as savings, to acquire a car, let alone a house, and indeed, the popular expectation that N56k/month would triple the present spending capacity of N18,000 and relieve domestic and other existential pressures may regrettably remain elusive.

The article titled, “N56,000 minimum wage or a stronger naira?”, was first published on May 2, 2016 in this column. I hereby reproduce a summary of that article hereafter four your reading pleasure. Please read on:

‘The Nigeria Labour Congress President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, told a news conference last week (April 2016), in Abuja that even though it was true that the economy was not doing well, the law states that wages for workers must be reviewed after every five years’. However, in reality, any significant wage increase, at this time, will regrettably, most certainly, cripple the economies of several states, as their salary bills will become tripled to produce heavily lopsided recurrent budget, that will compel more borrowing to significantly expand the existing, seriously worrisome debt burden, and ultimately diminish any prospect of impactful infrastructural development in most states. Similarly, private sector business operators, particularly in the vulnerable Small and Medium Enterprises subsector, that still manage to survive will become threatened, if N56,000 becomes enacted as minimum wage for all workers.

Nonetheless, the joy of a N56,000 minimum wage will also be quickly erased by a steady rise in the general price level, which will be caused inevitably by surplus naira in the market, and ultimately, inflation rate may well exceed 20 per cent from the current volatile springboard of 12.8 per cent.

Invariably, spiralling inflation will significantly reduce consumer demand, discourage domestic production and will ultimately fuel an already combustible unemployment rate, with distasteful social and economic consequences. Unfortunately, the very high cost of borrowing, that is irrepressibly instigated by the inexplicable albatross of surplus naira supply will ultimately also restrain the productive sector’s capacity to create jobs and produce price/quality competitive goods that can earn export revenue.

Instructively, reprieve from this cyclical bondage may be achieved only if inflation is tamed to best practice rates below three per cent. Unfortunately, however, the significant increase in money supply that is inevitably caused by the 200 per cent rise in nominal wages across board would, however, make such fine achievement in monetary management economic salvation impossible.

Furthermore, indeed, any significant increase in money supply would also quickly compel the CBN to also step up its compulsive, counterproductive, high interest borrowings, to reduce the admittedly bloated naira values in the system to restrain inflation. Unfortunately, this process would propel higher interest rates and also crowd out the real sector, from ready access to cheap funds required for expanding domestic production and creating jobs, even when the funds mopped up with such oppressive cost simply remain inexplicably sterilised from any use in the CBN vaults!

In fact, in socially sensitive money markets, in more successful economies, commercial banks are conversely compelled to pay a modest penalty fee to their respective Central Banks to warehouse surplus funds which are in the custody of commercial banks.

Consequently,  if high inflation rate fuelled by persistent and increasingly excess money supply remains untamed, government would need to carefully examine how successful economies sensitively manage money supply to ensure that the presence of surplus money supply does not become problematic to trigger inflation beyond, say three per cent, so that the cost of borrowing can remain socially supportive below 10 per cent.

The CBN obviously does not deny the conclusion in the ‘Monetary Policy Thrust’ statement in government’s Vision 2020 blueprint, that the monetisation of distributable dollar revenue (read as unilateral determination of rate and substitution of naira for dollar denominated revenue) is actually the primary cause of persistently excess naira, with its train of disenabling, and counterproductive monetary indices, such as, unusually high inflation and cost of funds, as well as weaker naira rates.

Conversely, astute, best practice management of money supply, particularly with regard to the forex market will gradually strengthen and sustain the naira below N100 = $1. In such event, the subsisting N18,000 minimum wage would, without much ado and abrasive negotiations for wage increases, actually command the purchasing power of almost $200. Fortunately, the liquidity problem can become better managed if the CBN breaks its stranglehold monopoly in the forex market and ceases to auction dollars for higher naira bids in a market with unceasing naira surplus, that is, ironically, largely created by the CBN’s unilateral naira substitution for distributable dollar denominated revenue.

Keyboardist, Ekemini Nelson exposes gospel artists Davasol Brothers

By Ekemini Nelson

Am sorry am going to be doing this it’s wasn’t my intention but I can’t hide it anymore. I want to expose this people called the DAVASOLBROTHERS and i won’t regret my actions.
Never!..
It all Started years back when i played in a function they actually were ministering and after the service, one of them called me( Solomon abi David) and asked me, were you the one that played for us during our ministration?, i said yes, (thinking it was one of those hypes/good comments have always been recieving)
having played for some gospel artiste (Names withheld mbak mfena) by God’s Special Grace and they end up disappointing me and some of my band members, i was like ehen, these ones have also come again, and in my mind i was like dah mbre’ke nnor anybody aba(am not playing for any minister again). But i found something different about these guys and apart from knowing them in high school, that’s how we started rolling musically.

Personally i don’t do things or work with people who won’t impact me positively in anywhere but behold God gave me these guys to be a blessing to people alongside with them.. They are people who don’t joke with their Musicians at all, very very open and transparent..
Apart from functions or studio recordings and other stuffs i engage in, they’ve been a blessing to me..
I’ll be there before you know it i’ll see messages/calls from one of them like
”Kemy, have slotted ur name in that function go and be a blessing”
”Kemy a friend of mine wants to record a song, he needs a keyboardist, how much will u charge” and some other minor stuffs i haven’t mention..
These guys don’t only concentrate in using me to fulfill their purpose but also help me fulfill mine..
I don’t talk about a person if am not proud of them, this is from my heart, Am PROUD of these duo ministrels for proving to me they understand what ministry is all about..
Have always been very stubborn
but they take me like their junior brother not only as a keyboardist that i am to them never wanting to hear that i am broke or stranded in anyway (tell me why won’t i be indepted to such people)..
I don’t want to write much words becos it will definitely have no end but to tell the whole world that
I, Ekemini Nelson Love you guys and am ever proud to be identified with you people..
Even if fate may split us into different callings in life, i will never regret walking with you both..
Today isn’t their birthday, but Good people like these don’t need birthdays alone to be celebrated..
Pls if they have blessed your life through their songs or in any other means, do well to EXPOSE them as well..

DOWNLOAD ‘SIMA DO’ BY DAVASOL

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DOWNLOAD ‘TOUCH ME’ BY DAVASOL FEAT. AMAKA DIRECTLY

 

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DOWNLOAD ‘ERIYANGA’ BY DAVASOL FEAT DAVIDWHYT DIRECTLY

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DOWNLOAD ‘GRATEFUL’ BY DAVASOL

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DOWNLOAD ‘IBUCHI’ BY DAVASOL

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Udom Emmanuel: Best Brand, Optimum demand!

“Opinions of others are good but not reliable. It could have been stirred up by circumstance.”

As we gear up towards the second anniversary of His Excellency, Gov Udom Emmanuel, since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, exactly 24 months running, Akwa Ibomites will be availed, given and obliged the opportunity to witness in totality what government has been able to impact so far, the deliverables and those still in the kitty awaiting delivery.

Therefore, as we set to mark the second year anniversary of Mr. Emmanuel at two, the dividends, strides, achievements and sustainable successes are counting too numerous in our kitty in a bit to providing qualitative governance to Akwa Ibomites.

A roll call of activities, schedule and outline cumulating into a one-week running and climaxing on May 29, 2017 clearly and glaringly showcase impacting performance of the Governor in just 24 months.

Spanning through the 22nd to 29th May, 2017, Gov Udom Emmanuel will be initiating and as well commissioning life-touching, endearing and fruitful state ventures as he will be flagging off an Emergency Medical Response Training to boost emergency attention in cases of accident, disaster and sudden crisis demand; flag-off of the Modern General Hospital for Uyo metropolis at Ituk Mbang; commissioning of 1.5km Nsikak Eduok – Tropicana Outfall drain; commissioning of 1.32km Ntiedo Udosen Street, Uyo; flag-off of 3.2km Dual Access road in University of Uyo permanent site; the much expected Toothpick and Pencil factory was commissioned amid other allied products of the outfit; inspection of dualised 20.0km Ikot Oku Ikono – Etinan Road which has progressed in construction to a greater percentage; flag-off of road network at College of Education, Afaha Nsit and flag-off of 9.76km Ancillary roads in Nsit Ubium LGA.

It’s been a celebration of unlimited performance since inception of his leadership mantle since May 29, 2015.

Inspection of 25.0km dualised Uyo – Ikot Ekpene Road; inspection/commissioning of 6.41km Nto-Edino – Ekwere Azu Road with 2No 45m Span Bridge, the road is a commercial link thorough fare between neighbouring Abia State and Akwa Ibom; commissioning of 4.6km College of Technology Road, Nung Ukim, Ikono; inspection of 14.1km Ikpe Ikot Nkan – Obotme – Arochukwu Road with 110m Bridge; commissioning of Modern Girls Secondary School, Ikot Ekan, Abak LGA; inspection of 14.0km Abak Nsekhe – Ikot Akpa Nkuk – Ikot Etim – Ikot Ikara Road (Phase III section A) Ikot Ikara to Ikot Ibritam; inspection of 6.1km Atan Offot Road in Uyo metropolis; commissioning of 6.0km Idiaba Nsi-Ikot Abasi (Nung Udoe) Road and inspection of 15.317km Anua-Mbak-Ishiet Road.

His Excellency will as well inspect a 10.5km dualised Okopedi – Oron Road; inspection of gully erosion control facilities at Oron/Isangedighi Road; inspection of 6.3km Emergency Works on Urban Roads, Oron; commissioning of 3.2km Road in Ibaka, leading to Delmar Petroleum Harbour and Tank Farm; inspection of Remodelling of selected roads, Eket; commissioning of reconstructed and equipped Children’s Ward, Immanuel Hospital, Eket; commissioning of 19.5km Eket – Ibeno Road; flag-off of 55.1km Super Highway with 3No Spurs, Eket; inspection/test of Syringe Factory; flag-off of Flour Mill, Okat; inspection of 29km Etinan – Ndon Eyo Road with 2 Cable Bridges; commissioning of 5.0km Ikot Usop – Ikot Edeghe – Ikot Ekpuk Road with 30m Span Bridge; flag-off of 9.0km Ibekwe – Ikot Unya – Ikot Mkpenye – Ikot Akata Road and flag-off of Coconut Refinery.

Splendid and fantastic line up of activities crowning the second year anniversary of Mr Industrialisation, the man who arrived Akwa Ibom soil on a divine voyage to man the difficult, tumultuous and cramped state economy for sustainability.

The entire event that chronicled the 2nd year outing will spraw to an end with the flag-off of the Green House Project along Akwa Ibom Airport Way; flag-off of Cattle Ranch, Adadia Uruan; a live chat with His Excellency spanning all print and electronic medium and a special thanksgiving service at Qua Iboe Church, Oku, Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo in appreciation to the Almighty for what He has done for the Udom Emmanuel administration against all spew words, propaganda, blackmail, false accusation, insults, wanton and chronic character assassination.

Therefore, if people hate you, doubt you, or criticise you, let them.

Our goal is to please God not man.

One thing also remains that we do not need to worry because no matter what we do to please them, a witch remains who he/she is.

Even if we pour Peacock Paints on them, inject their bare buttocks with Jubilee Syringe, decorate their faces with AKEES Pencils, screw in the Toothpicks between their teeth and take them on a drive on Eket – Ibeno Road, most of these of sit-home skunk critics will still remain at their low attitude and limited profile.

No matter the semantics, criticism and half truths rained on the pencil production factory, one sure thing is that Governor Udom Emmanuel has done a good job of stimulating production activities which is the key pillar of industrialisation.

This remains the time tested route to earning foreign exchange and impartation of knowledge.

A close examination on the Meiji Restoration Model of Japan which was a deliberate state policy at copying, attempting and trying until Japan got to the enviable position she occupies today is hope rekindling that we are surely getting there.

The Governor should be commended for his efforts so far and encouraged to do more.

If there are areas that require criticism, we owe our state a duty to make requisite and appropriate suggestions.

But we must not disparage or ridicule bold efforts of an administration in charting a direction in wealth creation and economic independence for Akwa Ibomites.

Pat Reuben is a Public Affairs Analyst writes in from Awantong in Etinan!

How would you rate President Buhari’s two years in office?

Expectations were high when President Muhammadu Buhari came on board and we had hoped that he would hit the ground running. However, it took about six months before he appointed members of his cabinet. The reasons adduced are known to everybody as they bordered on the rot and decadence in the system. But now, almost two years after, not much has been achieved. Be that as it may, we can see a lot of positives coming up.

Take the health sector for example. Things have been just the way they used to be. The National Health Bill which was passed by the National Assembly has yet to become operational and that is a big hindrance to a big leap in the health sector.

That in itself would have helped a lot of universal coverage concerning the National Health Insurance Scheme which is presently at about five or six per cent. Implementing the law would have ensured coverage of not less than 75 per cent or 80 per cent of Nigerians. It would have provided universal health coverage for rural dwellers in such a way that they would not need to come to urban centres to access health care.

In terms of health budgeting, the World Health Organisation has a standard of not less than 20 per cent of the nation’s budget to the health sector. We were hovering between four and six per cent during the last administration. Unfortunately, we just managed to hit around five per cent again this year after it dropped to four per cent last year.

The tenure of a lot of medical directors has expired. Some of them are heading up to two years and there has not been appointment in up to 15 or more federal tertiary institutions where the tenures of the previous chief executives had expired.

There is nothing to cheer about in the health sector except maybe the appreciable improvement in the timing of interventions during outbreaks of infectious diseases. We all know about the meningitis outbreak which is ravaging some parts of the country. We also know about Ebola resurgence, though not in Nigeria, we, however, know that the whole world is a global village. And that it can spread to any part of the world. A response in terms of outbreak to diseases has been fair, but it can be a lot better. • Dr Kunle Olawepo, (Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, Kwara State branch)

It has been a mixed bag of blessings and setbacks. Blessings, in the sense that we have witnessed a formidable attack on corruption which has been a major problem in Nigeria’s politics. There have been setbacks in the sense that there have been many challenges confronting the anti-corruption crusade.

For instance, there has been a cat and rat relationship between the executive and legislative organs, and this has impacted negatively on the anti-corruption initiative.

Also, because Nigeria has been enmeshed in economic crises, people have not been able to really see the merit of the Buhari administration because they have been assessing it from the economic dimension. People believe that because of this, he has not done anything. But he has actually tried despite his health challenges. In the area of fighting terrorism, he has done very well. I know what the security situation was when he came and what it is now.

For employment creation, there has not been much progress. But maybe that is due to the current economic crunch. Although there is an ongoing agitation for salary increment by civil servants, I know that it is not going to work because the money is not just there.

In the education sector, the level of education has remained abysmal for close to two decades and this administration has also not made progress in that area. But you cannot hold him responsible for that because in the last 10 to 20 years, the education sector has been awful. If you see the instructional facilities we use, you will marvel; they are very bad.

The fiscal allocation for education is too small, in addition to the fact that corruption is also a problem in the sector. The development crisis in Nigeria is very huge.

So, what I will advise is that Buhari should identify two areas. He can fight corruption to a definitive end and address the issue of worsening power situation. If he can tackle those two, then he will be okay. •Dr Iro Aghedo (Lecturer, University of Benin)

I think President Muhammadu Buhari has tried his best even though the masses have not really felt the essence of what he has been doing. Coming from where we had been before his assumption of office as President, it took a long time to get the country into the present situation.

So, you don’t expect magic within the two years of his reign for the economy of the country, corruption and security to be resolved. I’m pretty sure that we are now on the right track as the case maybe.

The president has his own style of leadership; those of us in the industry have come to realise that the man actually has a good heart and he really wants to help the country attain greatness.

The whole issue is a process; we have to be patient with him.

I will rate him highly in the area of security by securing the release of many Chibok girls. He has also empowered the Vice President. Even though the President is ill, the Vice President is doing his best to put to work most of the President’s ideas. To me, the President has really tried his best within the last two years. •Bayo Adeloye (Marine Engineer/consultant)

Buhari came to power on principally two issues: security and anti-corruption. His ratings based on these two are commendable. The North East is better secured, bombings which were rife in Abuja is tamed.  Remember the police headquarters, the United Nation’s building, motor parks and churches have been attacked by Boko Haram.

The bombing of churches used to be every Sunday. It is much better now. Granted that there is now the added pressure of herdsmen killings; the belief is that hopefully this will also be addressed.

Corruption undoubtedly, is being addressed and public officials are more careful.  The EFCC is much more vibrant.

There have been complaints of selective targets. The point for me is, are the so-called targets innocent?  There is talk of media trials or so.  I don’t see how EFCC publicising its work or cases amounts to media trial.

It is in order and tells us citizens of efforts made. On other fronts, Buhari can do better and so far below par. Areas like power supply and communication are getting worse.  On the whole I score Buhari 60 per cent. Remember it is just two years. • Rommy Mom (Human rights activist & President, Lawyers Alert)

To be candid, the administration has fared badly. Even in opposition, I try my best to be charitable to this government; I have been constructive in my criticism. Yes, the government has made some progress in the area of anti-corruption and in agriculture. But beyond this, there is nothing else you can honestly give serious credit to this government.

Without looking outside what the President and his party promised Nigerians before they were elected in 2015, let’s look at what they promised: instead of creating jobs for unemployed youths, jobs have been lost; companies are folding up. Yes they have decimated Boko Haram in the North-East, what about the kidnappings, daylight robberies and other violent crimes across Nigeria?

This is largely responsible for the growing suicide rates. Can you say because they have dealt with Boko Haram, our security is now better? The snail pace of this government has forced many things to remain at a standstill. We are still waiting for board members to be appointed for health and other bodies two years after. Is this what we voted for? •Chief Chekwas Okorie (National Chairman, United Peoples Party)

  • Compiled by: Success Nwogu, Friday Olokor, Etim Ekpimah and Alexander Okere

PunchNG

ENTREPRENUERIAL REVOLUTUION:    THE WAY FORWARD TO SAVING THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY

What is required is an entrepreneurial revolution devoted to providing goods and services that take advantage of the large domestic and regional markets and opportunities of a globalised economy. But this will not happen by wishful thinking. It requires a profound shift in individual mind-sets and a fundamental reorganization of government and individual policies and practices. It will not happen overnight, but it can happen.

  Pursuing such a revolution, practical, steps can be taken immediately to encourage the entrepreneurial vision, talents and efforts of Nigeria’s, and Africa‘s populations. The entrepreneurial revolution is key to poverty alleviation. Such a revolution holds out a realistic hope for the future of Nigeria.

In, reshaping Nigerian youths for the abolition of unemployment and the use of entrepreneural skills there would be need to transform them into self-sufficient, ambitious and skillful members of the society, who take advantage of relevant opportunities in the society. Entrepreneurship is the feasible way for a nation to meet those goals and to develop prosperity for the greatest number of people. In fact, government activities should focus on supporting entrepreneurship not just to meet these measurable targets, but to unlock people’s mind- set, to allow innovation to take place and to enable people to exercise their talents.

Change has to start in the mind, once the mind gets corrected, the rest becomes simple. This entrepreneurial mind-set must inform our actions whether we are in the private sector, government, or civil society. This mind-set must inspire our entrepreneurs to aim ever higher. It must compel our civil servants to reinvent government. It must encourage our civil society to work for the greater good. Ultimately, this mind-set holds the key to our prosperity, our development, and our future.
Nigeria like most developing nations of the world is faced with countless problems and callous realities which include scarcity, unemployment, kidnapping, conflicts, diseases,terrorism and corruption. These situations pose great challenges to the existence of youth in Nigeria and especially this period of economy recession we need creative mind for a amiable economy solution. This problem is said to be traceable to the level of corruption and other illegal activities carried out by those at the top.
A greater proportion of the nation’s population is made up of youths under 30 according to 2006 census. Therefore, it can be asserted that Nigeria has a youth economy.Since all cannot be gainfully employed by the government; they should be empowered and counseled by relevant government and private institutions to reduce the high rate of menace in the society. Governments and private bodies must thus encourage entrepreneurship, out of everyone, you find special and unique talent  and entrepreneurship is about harnessing those talents, and making sure that it takes people to another level in their personal development. So, it is important for government to develop the private sector and to create an environment that enables entrepreneurs to flourish that his focused on lowering the costs of electricity, providing access to finance, building roads, and training managers.
 Entrepreneur and government working together in public- private partnerships to pursue economic opportunities is the essence of the entrepreneurial revolution. The entrepreneur in his entrepreneurial activities can bring about increase in production and create employment, income and facilitate rapid growth of micro, small, medium, and large scale enterprises to reduce poverty and hunger among the people.

The World Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Nigeria out lines basic requirements for sustainable growth: -Improving governance, Maintaining non- oil growth, and promoting human development. The World Bank’s CPS and Nigeria’s NEEDS strategies serve as a summary of key initiative that government must focus on in order to drive a sustainable entrepreneurial revolution. These initiatives include:Creating a collective socio-economic atmosphere that encourages entrepreneurial development to its fullest and widest capability. This includes tackling infrastructure deficits (in roads, power, and communication) that elevate the cost of doing business .Addressing systemic imbalances in terms of policy design and implementation, together with effective measures against institutional corruption. Re-calibrating the education system to concentrate on business administration , vocational and practical skills development training. Tax relief and access to venture capital for small business operations by means of promoting lending through equity instead of debt, increasing co-operation among the government, private sector and donor agencies as a means of creating a mass base of viable enterprises.

 

According to the Chartered institute of Economics and Corporate governance “Entrepreneurship is the process of identifying and starting a new business venture, sourcing and organizing the required resources, while taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture. Entrepreneurship may result in new organizations or revitalize mature organizations in response to a perceived business opportunity” –An entrepreneur is seen as one who organizes and manages a business undertaking, assumes the risk for the sake of profit, an entrepreneur sees an opportunity, makes a plan, starts the business and manages the business. He receives the profits. A new business started by an entrepreneur is referred to as a startup company. In recent years, the term has been extended to include social and political forms of entrepreneurial activities.

There are  ways of promoting entrepreneurship among Nigerian youths and this would help in tackling the series of problem being encountered by this vulnerable group in the society. These will require youth’s empowerment with creative problem solving skills. The training of graduates, literate and ill-educated, who can function effectively in the society for the betterment of themselves and the society at large.

Another way that entrepreneurship and creativity could be encouraged is by teaching or nurturing on entrepreneurial skill at an early age like what Kwara State University his implementing which others can replicate. By doing this, tertiary institutions offering entrepreneurial courses should be strengthened while programs can be organized to educate Nigerians both literate and illiterate about the relevance of entrepreneurship to the individual and the community.

Finally, with the spirit of oneness, inter faith and inter tribal existence and the desire for collective survival and the discarding of the idea of survival of the fittest, there will be a steady growth of development, mutual support and adequate networking among the Nigeria youths.

​​AGRICULTURE – THE HOPE FOR A BETTER NIGERIA-OLAWUNMI SALAM

To answer a lofty topic like this one, it’s imperative to first examine some crucial issues. For over five decades, our nation has witnessed decline in agricultural practice, and has been struggling to feed her populace, losing billions of dollars which would have been incomes generated through agriculture. Where did we get it all wrong? This, we must address first before aiming at the solutions. The crux of this article is solution to Nigerian economic problem from agricultural perspective, a commendable programme, but I must say that those at the helms of the nation’s affairs must realized that our national problems began from the very moment our attention drifted away from agriculture. To find a lasting solution to this problem we must go to its root. Since independence, successive Nigerian government has been doing the wrong things for the right reason. Worst still, there have always been misplaced priorities. The discovery of crude oil in 1958 marked the beginning of the end for agriculture in Nigeria, gradually agricultural produce reduces and large scale production of cash crops waned to the point where the masses became disillusioned with farming. All attention, expectations and planning shifted from agriculture to other sectors. The importance of agriculture was gravely undermined, both by the government and the people of Nigeria. 

Nigeria once started in the right tract shortly before independence. In the early 1950s following the 1946 constitution which led to the creation of the three regions, these regions diligently pursue agriculture with earnest intention of development. The masses were well fed; the regional governments were making huge income from which they developed their societies.  Each region used to be renowned for different cash crops: in Northern region groundnut, cotton, tobacco, and other crops were largely grown for exportation. In that region textile industries was established, the Arewa Textile Mill was notable ; tobacco company {British Tobacco later Nigerian Tobacco company and presently British-American Tobacco} ;the groundnut pyramid became the emblem of that region. The Eastern Region was the center of palm oil production: in fact the name oil producing region attributed to the Niger-Delta of today is a misconception. The actual oil referred to by the British was palm oil not crude oil. The Eastern region lived off proceeds from rubber and palm produce. The Western Region was the home of plantations ranging from cocoa, coffee, kola nut to rubber. The famous Cocoa House in Ibadan signified the peak that glorious era. Unlike the virtual institutions of today, theses regional government set up research institutes, such like cocoa Research Institutes, rubber research institutes, tobacco and fiber research institutes, to improve the production of cash crops, exporting boards oversee these affairs productively. Farm settlements were established in rural areas, the subsistent farmers were fully involved in the process and everyone benefited. During these glorious days when agriculture was highly upheld, the government of the regions where basically focused on social welfare and the people were the focused towards government, mass poverty was not a known concept; infrastructure was developing at a steady pace. Life was good for the Nigerian people till the advent of crude oil. 

And there was Crude oil   

1958 marked a sad turning point for agriculture in Nigeria. Like candy van on a street, government ran headlong towards it and soon abandoned agriculture. Slowly, cash crops began to disappear, the government’s focus shifted from people-centric to abstract visions the commoners could not associate with. Post independent governments pretended to include agriculture in their national plans when in reality it was the least they were prepared for. Wide-spread poverty became the resultant effect of such misplaced priorities. Government programmes such as the National Accelerated Food Production of the early seventies, Operation Feed the Nation of the late seventies, the Green Revolution of the eighties, etc. were all parody. These programmes where not deliberate effort to the betterment of the rural settlers. Instead of exporting food Nigeria began to import food, a  nation whose agriculture now depend on supplied rice and pastas from China, canned food from oversees. We have become a consumer-only nation. All the textile, rubber, tobacco companies are no more in existence; the research institutes are now hovels for unemployed erudites. Since the demise of agriculture in Nigeria we have continued to record wide spread poverty, corruption soars daily and the middle class is wiped out. In comparative analyses, the agrarian economy of the regions has a lot more to show than the oil-based economy of today. 

How the Nigerian government can abandon agriculture without realizing the repercussion? The social science stated clearly the significance of agriculture in societal development. Every society begins at the hunter-gatherer age, stone/fire age, metal age, and agrarian age, industrial age, computer age, jet age and now the virtual age. From the description it takes only common sense to understand the role of agriculture in societal growth. How could we have committed such economic blunder? Advance nations understood this fact of society that is why they still upheld agriculture even in time of technological advancement. The United States in all her glory is a nation with sophisticated agricultural programmes; he has enough grains to supply other nations. So is China. Technological advancement did nit deter or lure them away from farming; instead they soared in all types of farming.

Technology has done a lot to spur the agricultural sector in the past few years. The transition from subsistence farming to large scale production has been rather slow but steady for some farmers. However there are still a lot more of these farmers in the rural areas who still engage in small scale productions. A scenario were the reverse should be the case is necessary if we a s a country plant to regain the glory we enjoyed in the 1960s that saw agricultural sector as the major source of  foreign exchange earnings.

There is no doubt that the government has been doing a  lot in the area of agriculture in Nigeria but there is still a lot more to be done. It is high time we look at the possibility of putting a stop to the importation of tinned tomatoes, frozen food and poultry. These are products that we should actually be exporting if we play our cards right. This leads us to an examination of one major area in agriculture that could do with some turn-around.

Education of Farmers

Educating farmers would create a lot of impact on agriculture in Nigeria. Farmers need to be brought up to speed on recent technologies and innovations that will assist them with production. This will ensure increased income on the part of the farmers, increased productivity which in turn leads to expansion over time and subsequently to the employment of more labour. The government should ensure that agricultural education cuts across the formal, informal and non-formal means of education. 

Educating farmers means that they would be versed in the best preservation techniques of surplus foods. Waste is as issue that needs serious attention because if this area can be looked into, it would ensure the availability of seasonal foods all year round which would in turn ensure that the price of certain agricultural products remains stable no matter the time of the year.

Market linkage is another area that could be tackled by education. One of the major problems facing farmers in the rural areas is the inability to market the products being produced. Today, a lot is being said about ethanol which is a by-product of cassava. A lot of research has gone into the study of ethanol as a source of bio fuel. Cassava is one crop that yields a significantly large percentage of ethanol during process. Cassava is also one of the major crops being produced in Nigeria but ironically, most cassava farmers in the rural areas are not in communication with these research facilities that require their products.

Solution

Several governments and organizations over the past three decades have come up with various ideas and policies that sought to create a turn-around in the agricultural sector. The Oyakhilome administration I 1985, set up the school to land scheme in Rivers State with the mandate to; Promote self-employment amongst the youths in agriculture – Check the rising trend of rural-urban migration of school leavers – boosting increased food production for both local consumption and for export.

Over the course of its existence it has trained over four thousand people, which is quite commendable. During the civil war, General Yakubu Gowon initiated a similar project which was known as the National Food Production Programme. This programme was designed to feed Nigerians sufficiently. The question however is this: What has become of these programs and what impact have they made so far? How many of these people are gainfully employed in the agricultural sector? How many of them are actually utilizing the skills taught?

How many of them are agricultural entrepreneurs?  It is obvious that the issue in Nigeria is not only execution, but rather the will to see these projects function properly in a sustainable manner. These programmes should be given the full backing of the government from the federal level down to the local government levels. Theses in turn should be broken into community outreaches where various agricultural programmes should be initiated by each individual community depending on what agricultural product is peculiar to a specific region. The people should be part of their own success story. Cocoa, rubber, oil palm, tomato and cassava are just some of the few agricultural products that could reduce Nigeria’s sole reliance on oil as a foreign exchange earner while simultaneously reducing the rate of unemployment in the country. Suffice it to say that if all these are looked into, vision 2020 would certainly be achieved. 

​AGRICULTURE – THE HOPE FOR A BETTER NIGERIA-OLAWUNMI SALAM

To answer a lofty topic like this one, it’s imperative to first examine some crucial issues. For over five decades, our nation has witnessed decline in agricultural practice, and has been struggling to feed her populace, losing billions of dollars which would have been incomes generated through agriculture. Where did we get it all wrong? This, we must address first before aiming at the solutions. The crux of this article is solution to Nigerian economic problem from agricultural perspective, a commendable programme, but I must say that those at the helms of the nation’s affairs must realized that our national problems began from the very moment our attention drifted away from agriculture. To find a lasting solution to this problem we must go to its root. Since independence, successive Nigerian government has been doing the wrong things for the right reason. Worst still, there have always been misplaced priorities. The discovery of crude oil in 1958 marked the beginning of the end for agriculture in Nigeria, gradually agricultural produce reduces and large scale production of cash crops waned to the point where the masses became disillusioned with farming. All attention, expectations and planning shifted from agriculture to other sectors. The importance of agriculture was gravely undermined, both by the government and the people of Nigeria. 

Nigeria once started in the right tract shortly before independence. In the early 1950s following the 1946 constitution which led to the creation of the three regions, these regions diligently pursue agriculture with earnest intention of development. The masses were well fed; the regional governments were making huge income from which they developed their societies.  Each region used to be renowned for different cash crops: in Northern region groundnut, cotton, tobacco, and other crops were largely grown for exportation. In that region textile industries was established, the Arewa Textile Mill was notable ; tobacco company {British Tobacco later Nigerian Tobacco company and presently British-American Tobacco} ;the groundnut pyramid became the emblem of that region. The Eastern Region was the center of palm oil production: in fact the name oil producing region attributed to the Niger-Delta of today is a misconception. The actual oil referred to by the British was palm oil not crude oil. The Eastern region lived off proceeds from rubber and palm produce. The Western Region was the home of plantations ranging from cocoa, coffee, kola nut to rubber. The famous Cocoa House in Ibadan signified the peak that glorious era. Unlike the virtual institutions of today, theses regional government set up research institutes, such like cocoa Research Institutes, rubber research institutes, tobacco and fiber research institutes, to improve the production of cash crops, exporting boards oversee these affairs productively. Farm settlements were established in rural areas, the subsistent farmers were fully involved in the process and everyone benefited. During these glorious days when agriculture was highly upheld, the government of the regions where basically focused on social welfare and the people were the focused towards government, mass poverty was not a known concept; infrastructure was developing at a steady pace. Life was good for the Nigerian people till the advent of crude oil. 

And there was Crude oil   

1958 marked a sad turning point for agriculture in Nigeria. Like candy van on a street, government ran headlong towards it and soon abandoned agriculture. Slowly, cash crops began to disappear, the government’s focus shifted from people-centric to abstract visions the commoners could not associate with. Post independent governments pretended to include agriculture in their national plans when in reality it was the least they were prepared for. Wide-spread poverty became the resultant effect of such misplaced priorities. Government programmes such as the National Accelerated Food Production of the early seventies, Operation Feed the Nation of the late seventies, the Green Revolution of the eighties, etc. were all parody. These programmes where not deliberate effort to the betterment of the rural settlers. Instead of exporting food Nigeria began to import food, a  nation whose agriculture now depend on supplied rice and pastas from China, canned food from oversees. We have become a consumer-only nation. All the textile, rubber, tobacco companies are no more in existence; the research institutes are now hovels for unemployed erudites. Since the demise of agriculture in Nigeria we have continued to record wide spread poverty, corruption soars daily and the middle class is wiped out. In comparative analyses, the agrarian economy of the regions has a lot more to show than the oil-based economy of today. 

How the Nigerian government can abandon agriculture without realizing the repercussion? The social science stated clearly the significance of agriculture in societal development. Every society begins at the hunter-gatherer age, stone/fire age, metal age, and agrarian age, industrial age, computer age, jet age and now the virtual age. From the description it takes only common sense to understand the role of agriculture in societal growth. How could we have committed such economic blunder? Advance nations understood this fact of society that is why they still upheld agriculture even in time of technological advancement. The United States in all her glory is a nation with sophisticated agricultural programmes; he has enough grains to supply other nations. So is China. Technological advancement did nit deter or lure them away from farming; instead they soared in all types of farming.

Technology has done a lot to spur the agricultural sector in the past few years. The transition from subsistence farming to large scale production has been rather slow but steady for some farmers. However there are still a lot more of these farmers in the rural areas who still engage in small scale productions. A scenario were the reverse should be the case is necessary if we a s a country plant to regain the glory we enjoyed in the 1960s that saw agricultural sector as the major source of  foreign exchange earnings.

There is no doubt that the government has been doing a  lot in the area of agriculture in Nigeria but there is still a lot more to be done. It is high time we look at the possibility of putting a stop to the importation of tinned tomatoes, frozen food and poultry. These are products that we should actually be exporting if we play our cards right. This leads us to an examination of one major area in agriculture that could do with some turn-around.

Education of Farmers

Educating farmers would create a lot of impact on agriculture in Nigeria. Farmers need to be brought up to speed on recent technologies and innovations that will assist them with production. This will ensure increased income on the part of the farmers, increased productivity which in turn leads to expansion over time and subsequently to the employment of more labour. The government should ensure that agricultural education cuts across the formal, informal and non-formal means of education. 

Educating farmers means that they would be versed in the best preservation techniques of surplus foods. Waste is as issue that needs serious attention because if this area can be looked into, it would ensure the availability of seasonal foods all year round which would in turn ensure that the price of certain agricultural products remains stable no matter the time of the year.

Market linkage is another area that could be tackled by education. One of the major problems facing farmers in the rural areas is the inability to market the products being produced. Today, a lot is being said about ethanol which is a by-product of cassava. A lot of research has gone into the study of ethanol as a source of bio fuel. Cassava is one crop that yields a significantly large percentage of ethanol during process. Cassava is also one of the major crops being produced in Nigeria but ironically, most cassava farmers in the rural areas are not in communication with these research facilities that require their products.

Solution

Several governments and organizations over the past three decades have come up with various ideas and policies that sought to create a turn-around in the agricultural sector. The Oyakhilome administration I 1985, set up the school to land scheme in Rivers State with the mandate to; Promote self-employment amongst the youths in agriculture – Check the rising trend of rural-urban migration of school leavers – boosting increased food production for both local consumption and for export.

Over the course of its existence it has trained over four thousand people, which is quite commendable. During the civil war, General Yakubu Gowon initiated a similar project which was known as the National Food Production Programme. This programme was designed to feed Nigerians sufficiently. The question however is this: What has become of these programs and what impact have they made so far? How many of these people are gainfully employed in the agricultural sector? How many of them are actually utilizing the skills taught?

How many of them are agricultural entrepreneurs?  It is obvious that the issue in Nigeria is not only execution, but rather the will to see these projects function properly in a sustainable manner. These programmes should be given the full backing of the government from the federal level down to the local government levels. Theses in turn should be broken into community outreaches where various agricultural programmes should be initiated by each individual community depending on what agricultural product is peculiar to a specific region. The people should be part of their own success story. Cocoa, rubber, oil palm, tomato and cassava are just some of the few agricultural products that could reduce Nigeria’s sole reliance on oil as a foreign exchange earner while simultaneously reducing the rate of unemployment in the country. Suffice it to say that if all these are looked into, vision 2020 would certainly be achieved.        
 

10 Steps You Should take as a Whistleblower in Nigeria (Whistleblowing 101)

1. Shut up and get a good lawyer, fast. You can complain about the fraud internally, but we all know how that usually ends. Once you identify a fraud, immediately contact a lawyer to ask for guidance, including what documents and corroborating evidence that you can take with you. Do NOT ever take originals. You don’t want the real crooks to flex their muscle and convince authorities that your “theft” should negate their fraud. It’s also possible that as soon as you start thinking about the impropriety, people at the company know who you are. That means you could be escorted out of the building before you can grab your kids’ pictures off your desk.

2. Make sure you have a case. FCA, IRS and SEC cases are not based on rumor or hunches, but evidence. You have to prove fraud and the government is not paying awards for generalized tips, but for specific evidence. You are supposed to be doing the government’s work for it. Don’t assume that you will be able to prove your case by having your lawyer or the government subpoena documents from the defendant after the case is filed. Think about what you personally know right now. As the great philosopher Tommy Boy said, “I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take a butcher’s word for it.” The government wants the butcher, but come prepared with meat in hand.

3. Welcome hard questions and difficult truths. Don’t blame a lawyer for questioning your case – convince them it has the necessary merit. If you have found a good lawyer and you can’t convince them, then maybe you don’t have a case. My first (successful) case involved a novel theory – fraud that was obvious to me but not something that the Department of Justice had pursued before. My attorneys dug deep into the facts of my case and did a lot of legal research before they felt comfortable it was viable. Initial skepticism can save years of wasted time if the facts and/or law don’t work in your favor.

4. Get an honest lawyer who’s had some success in the whistleblower arena. Before divulging any specific details to a prospective lawyer, make sure they run a conflict’s check first to ensure they don’t have an ulterior agenda. For example, they could already represent a client that has a similar case and could be trying to suck information out of you. If a lawyer purports to have recovered billions of dollars in whistleblower claims, ask them how much their relators’ shares have been. There are some great lawyers who represent whistleblowers, including some who are less well known but nonetheless very capable. Asking other whistleblowers who they recommend and then talking to the lawyers is always a good way to approach a potential attorney-client relationship. The key, however, is to find an attorney with good judgment quickly.

Also, don’t pay someone an hourly fee to represent you on a whistleblower case (unless they are only representing you in an employment case). The real whistleblower lawyers all work on a contingency fee basis — meaning you pay nothing unless you win. The only lawyers I ever heard of who charge an hourly rate are ones who don’t know what they are doing — or ones who think you don’t have a case but are happy to take your money.

5. Prepare for the long haul. Most defendants don’t settle easily, and they never fear press as much as you think they will. Many lawyers have told me that every whistleblower they talk to says “the company will settle this quickly to avoid the press.” They never do.

6. Be prepared to be “outed.” If any lawyer tells you that your anonymity is guaranteed, seek another counsel. Whistleblower cases are filed under seal, and there are ways to potentially mitigate the risk of being revealed as a whistleblower, like filing a case under the name of an LLC, but anonymity can never be assured. Once a district court clerk inadvertently lifted a seal in my case for ten hours and my co-relator and I were exposed. It shouldn’t have happened but it did. And similar things have happened to others. Once you file your case, you should assume you will get outted eventually. Stock up on Imodium.

7. Get another job. Cases, like anything in life, have ebbs and flows. Working while your case is on-going keeps you sane, stable, and protects your family’s welfare in the event your case crumbles. Cases can take years from start to finish. Sitting around waiting for a recovery can be counter-productive. And, sadly, if and when you are revealed as a whistleblower, it will make finding a new job harder, not easier.

8. Plan for success. At the point at which you sense your case might be successful (for instance, the government intervenes), contact an estate planner so you don’t end up like so many lottery winners. Of course, a whistleblower is the antithesis of a lottery winner. You must possess a tremendous work ethic, courage, and perseverance. Do your due diligence and find a great estate attorney and money manager so that success will last.

7. Don’t count your eggs before they hatch. The big print giveth, and the little print taketh away. Never assume your case will settle for the maximum amount. In a Medicaid case, assume you will not get any award for 25 percent of the case and that some portion of penalties will be allocated to criminal sanctions for which you will not get a share. Assume you are not the only relator — there could be other whistleblowers who you will come to learn are going to split the award. And don’t think the gross penalty is your share. You have to pay lawyers’ fees and taxes still.

8. Find a friend. There is nobody better to meet who will understand your circumstance more than another whistleblower. They will have empathy and be able to give you guidance. I have had several contact me before they even decided to approach an attorney. It’s a lonely line of work because the court mandated seal requires that the only people you can discuss your case with are your lawyers.

9. Be grateful. This will not be easy, because at the end of the day, the liars, cheats and thieves who stole from the American people and got you fired will probably keep their jobs, receive bonuses, and may even get promoted. Anger and resentment are termites for the soul, however. Gratitude is the cure, and it is something you need to cultivate. If you cannot find gratitude, find help.

10. Pay it forward. There are other whistleblowers behind you, and they need the law that helped you in your hour of need. That law is under constant attack by powerful and well-funded pack lobbyists and lawyers. Support groups like Taxpayers Against Fraudthat seek to ensure that whistleblowers are both protected and compensated

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