Contents Cover Story 40:
CEO Per Excellence: The Extraordinary Career of Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman
Investments & Money 12 Aviation: FAAN & Maevis: Nig. Ltd Draw Their Swords 16 Maritime: Regional Maritime Development Bank: Nigeria lags behind. 17 Alternative Fuel To The Rescue 21 Taxation: Tax Wise: Tax Governance. 22 Real Estate: Real Estate Options On The Islands of Lagos. 27 Banking: Mergers & Acquisition; Bad For Customer Morale 32 Telcoms & IT: The Polarised World Computer Market 46 Auto: Buying The Right Car 49 Oil & Gas: Oil Marketers vs House Of Representatives: Another Charade? 74 Food & Beverages: Food Importation: Good or Bad Business Investments & Markets 6 The Story Of The Local Cement Investors 10 The Financial Market Today 14 Insurance & Pensions: Pensions: Scam After Scam 35 Hospitality & Tourism: Seeking A Break From Work Leadership & Management 65 Salami: Pejury Or A Set Up
66 Networking: Networking Dos & Don’ts Business Education 62 Education: 6-3-3-4 Sysytem And Investment In Electronic Testing 71 Trainings Seminars: Guides To Choosing A Training Courses Training Time table
March 2012 * Volume 1 * Issue1
Affairs Of State 30 Local Scene: Stolen Loot: James Ibori Bites The Dust & Then What? 31 Edo State Commissioner Gets Death Threat Within Months In Office 52 Foreign Scene: Senegal’s First Electoral Crises Syria: The Bloodshed Continues 53 Russian Officials Says Plot To Kill Russian PM Foiled 53 Venezuela: Chavez’s Illness & The Election Culture & Lifestyle 76 Travel: Cutting Travel Costs 77 Fashion: Nigerian Designers: Braving The Odds Controversial 69 Foreigners Abuse Us In Our Homeland Entrepreneurs 55 Entrepreneurs: The Employee Cum Entrepreneur 72 CSR Company In Focus: Corporate Social Responsibility
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Ifedayo Adebayo, Oluwaseyi Bangudu, Dayo Hamzat Ranti Adedeji, Opeyemi Quadri
71 All materials are copyright and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the copyright holders.
Editor in chief
igeria is both a promising and a challenging place to do business. This fact is amplified in the World Bankâ€™s ease of doing business index where Nigeria is ranked 133 out of 183 countries as at June 2011. The World bank derived its rankings from the average score of 10 topics which are; starting a business, dealing with construction permit, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and getting electricity. Those who do business in Nigeria know just how challenging starting a business and remaining in business in this environment could be. It is for this people that we are in business. We hope to earn your confidence and become your indispensable guide to doing business in Nigeria in the immediate future. As players in the Nigerian market space either as a provider or consumer of goods or services, an employer or employee, established or upcoming entrepreneur, the regulator or the regulated, it is our collective responsibility to continuously augment the efforts of multilateral organizations like the World Bank in ensuring the ease of doing business in our market space by making information freely available. Indeed information is only useful if it supports decision making. It is this kind of information that we hope to make available in every edition of FinIntell. In this preview edition Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman shares her experience on functioning in her many roles; as the MD/ CEO of FITC Nigeria, as International Director of ISCI, as a spouse and more importantly as a parent. Mr. Koku Kono, who is an architect and an accountant by inheritance, also bears his mind on being an entrepreneur in Nigeria and how the challenges of the operating environment can be a motivating factor. We have other insightful columns that we hope you will find interesting. Please do not hesitate to send us feedback on how we have fared as we take our first steps together with you. Yours sincerely
The story of the local cement investors
n 2008 the federal government lifted the ban on the importation of bulk cement and granted import licenses to six new firms, alongside the existing manufacturers in an effort to flood the market with cement and force the price down. At the time Chief Charles Ugwuh, the then Minister of Commerce and Industry said that the actions would make up for the 11.5 million metric tonnes per year shortfall: Local manufacturers only brought about 6.5 million metric, while the demand was at about 18 million metric tonnes per year. The six new licensees were: Minaj Holdings Limited, Enugu; Madewell Products, Sapele; BUA International Limited, Kano; NICA Limited, Maiduguri; Reagan Renaissance Limited, 6
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
Calabar and MAAN Labadi, Lagos. The initial companies were: Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria, Ashaka Cement, Benue Cement Company, Obajana Cement, UNICEM Calabar, Cement Company of Northern Nigeria, Sokoto and DURECHEM, Ogun State. At the time many people expected that the price of cement would crash to about N1, 000. It did not. It stayed high and many pointed accusing fingers at the high import duties and financing costs as well as the fluctuations in the government policies. Back in the mid-seventies of the government investment in the cement industry during the post cement armada era of the mid-70s, the industry grew from 5 to 8 plants in 1970, and local production rose from about 1.4 mil-
lion metric tonnes to 2.8 million metric tonnes and in 1986, it peaked at about 3.6 million metric tonnes. But by the year 2000, only four out of the eight cement manufacturing companies were functioning and the cumulative output was down to 2.2 million metric tonnes. The increase in the local production of cement in the 1970s caused the imports to reduce to as low as 0.8 million metric tonnes. An annual capacity of 3.5 million metric tonnes was reported in 1986 and that comes to 81.4% supply which of course had a positive effect on the price of the cement as well as employment, and the economy. Sadly massive importation was permitted after this era and it starved the local manufacturers. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
The local cement industry was reported to have crashed to a rock bottom of 1.98 million metric tonnes which made up for only 23.53% of supply. Importation of the item on the other hand rose to 8.4 million metric tonnes which is over 70% of supply. The federal government put its right foot down once again just after the year 2000 and the country witnessed a steady rise to over 6 million metric tonnes by 2002. Between 2002 and 2008 new players were lured into the industry by the slight consistency in the policies and an additional 11.8 million metric tonnes was achieved. But after 2008 things got a little shaky again. The Federal Government had introduced an import substitution regime in 2002 with the aim of reviving the industry and weaning the country off importation. Ironically, by 2008 there was an increase in consumption which peaked at 13.04 million metric tonnes. Nonetheless, the local production had increased to 6.40 million metric tonnes, which made up for representing 46.50% of total supply and the balance of 53.50% (6.98 million metric tonnes) was supplied via imports. The average import in price 2008 was $127.50 per tonne so that the 6.06 million metric tonnes which was locally produced would have cost the country $770 million to import. This is money that would have been paid to foreign cement suppliers. By 2009 the projection for local production was about 10 million metric tonnes, and that amounted to over 50% of supply. At some point in 2010 reports said that the Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Jide Mike, told the press that MAN was not opposed to the lifting of the ban on imported cement, but the association would rather have the ‘real’ operators do the importation. The media reports also say he made no secret of his opinion that the government should encourage importers to set up manufacturing facilities in the country by putting the right “measures” in place and his preference for a government regulation that only gave importa7
tion licenses to the importers who could show proof that they are actually building factories for local cement manufacturing in Nigeria; supporting his position by saying that after the introduction of the policies from the committee several cement importers had built new cement plants in various locations in the country and that during the first 6 years of the policy, an increase of 11 million metric tonnes per annum was recorded. Reports say he feared that allowing unchecked importation would open the
country to the influx of “substandard cement”. Also in 2010 the Executive Secretary, Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. James Salako was quoted in the media as saying: “importation should be done along with consistent strict implementation of the backward integration policy that will ultimately bring us out of our present perpetual dependence on imports.” President Goodluck Jonathan set up a committee in May 2009 which was headed by the minister of finance to look at the problems of the industry and find a lasting solution. The recommendations of this committee were considered and the President made concessions and put up new policies to attract investments into the industry. Many argue that not all of the concessions have been implemented and there are allegations that people have been made to pay 20% on imports instead of the approved 5%. Add that to the rumours that bagged cement (banned since 2000) still comes through the ports and the reports that floating packing ships still bring cement in to the country. In addition to all that there was a two-year long ‘free for all’ importation of bulk cement which only ended a short while ago. The truth is that the local manufacturers are still subjected to ‘unfair’ competition which also means that investors in the cement industry are still subjected
Dangote Cement Ibese plant
to ‘unfair’ risks. By the time you add the high energy costs, electricity costs and maintenance costs to the formula it is still not a pretty picture. These government policies are said to be capable of bringing the country a point of self sufficiency cement-wise by 2013 but the government still has quite a bit to do. The truth is that, it is still cheaper to import than to manufacture. It takes foresight, faith and a lot of capital to invest in the local production of cement, so when an investor puts his or her money into it, that investor deserves all the applause and encouragement he or she can get. Typically it is the initial investors that would bear the brunt as they blaze the
trail for others to follow. Without doubt Dangote cement’s six million annual capacity plant should be applauded. The new cement plant situated in Ibese, Ogun State, would increase the company’s total capacity to 20.25 million metric tonnes of Cement per annum. The company’s Obajana Cement plant currently produces 10.25 million metric tonnes per annum, while its Gboko Plant has an installed capacity of 4 million metric tonnes. The new plant was inaugurated by President Jonathan on Thursday, February 9, 2012. According to the official statement the company presented to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the plant has 2 lines which would generate 6 million
tonnes per annum for the time being and at a later date another 2 lines would be installed so as to increase production to 12 million tonnes per annum. Reports say the President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, is aiming at achieving a target of “46 million metric tonnes of production and terminal capacity in Africa by 2015” and that he aims at be coming a “pan-African champion in the (cement) sector, capable of competing globally with the largest cement companies in the world.” The success of Dangote cement at this venture would be a success for the Nigerian economy, a success for the job seekers, and a success for the investors.
The Financial Market Today
BY DAYO HAMZAT
ue to the budgetary disbursements of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and its parastatals in the last week of December the money market opened in January 2012 on a liquid note. This led to the liquidity mopup by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through its Open Market Operation (OMO) programme. About N500 billion has been issued in new OMO bills to mop of liquidity. About N274 billion was paid into the market after the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting in January. Budgetary allocations are expected to remain at current high levels with crude receivable expected to remain buoyant (supported by bullish oil prices). Interest rates have remained moderately bullish in the market, on the back of liquidity mop-up by the CBN. Average overnight rate stood at 14.3% year to date (YTD). Other factors that affect the demand and supply dynamics in the market include withdrawals by the NNPC, funding for Wholesale Dutch Auction System (WDAS) purchases and securities purchases. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) maintained all monetary indices at their meeting in January with Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 12%, with a band of +/-200 basis points, Liquidity ratio was left at 30% and Cash reserve ratio at 8%. Inflation figure released recently by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for the month of January reflected a sharp spike in infla-
tion rate from 10.3% to 12.6%. This was driven largely by the partial removal of subsidies which had a contagious effect on prices of other goods and services. It is worthy of note that urban inflation was actually at 16%, while rural inflation was at 9% In spite of the hike in inflation, Real rate remains positive as yields on government securities currently outpace inflation. This however might be short lived as the threat of inflation still remains. In our opinion, the inflation in January was tempered downwards by the unproductive strike days and the delay in Government spending (FAAC did not pay on time). The expected increase (88%) in electricity tariff is also expected to increase inflation.
Bonds outstanding. The total government securities in issue is therefore N6.8trillion (ex AMCON, Sub nationals and other debt issuances guaranteed by the FG) The Bonds Market The Bond market still remains largely a professional investor market, with the marked absence of individual investors; Banks, Pensions, and portfolio investors are the biggest investors. Investors traded very cautiously in the Bond market, as Bonds are relatively more risky to hold (due to interest rate risk).The Q1 calendar of the Debt Management Office (DMO) was only to issue about N90billion, all in 10 year securities. The Q1 calendar also showed that only 10 years will be issued. The DMO is concerned about its concentration of Maturities in 2012 and 2013 (about N500billion) and will therefore try to spread out its obligation. About N125billion worth of Bonds matured in January, as against the N90billion issued. Yields have dropped significantly from January. Reluctance to hold Bonds, in view of possible inflationary pressure is most possibly re-
Treasury Bills Market The T-Bills market opened the year on a very buoyant note, witnessing continued patronage not just from banks and professional investors, but by the general public. This is as a result of the superlative yields in the T-Bills market, greater than obtainable Bank Deposit Rates. As a result of the extensive government borrowings, the market is currently witnessing the crowding-out effect, with the most unlikely victims: Banks. The increase in interest rates (from increased Government borrowing, high interest rates, and continuous liquidity mop-up) is stubbornly cannibalizing Banks balance sheet, with investor preference for T-Bills, as against Bank deposits. Total amount of T-Bills in issue is now at N3.5 trillion, while there are N3.3trillion
sponsible. The DMO is considering replacing short term Bonds with longer term instruments and buying back of rump, non-trading Bonds from the market. Liquidity has improved in the market, with about 7 securities actively trading in the market, an improvement from about 4 that traded actively during the last quarter of last year. The Foreign Exchange Market The naira has witnessed a sustained appreciation against the US dollars (USD). Some of the reasons include: • A sustained buoyant level of FX receivables from crude export, with oil prices remaining bullish and production remaining healthy at an average of 2.3mm barrels per day. • High positive real interest rate, encouraging the inflow of FX by portfolio investors
• • •
Eurobond The Nigerian Eurobond (6.75% Jan 2021) has also witnessed increased demand in the international markets, obviously as a result of the very sound economic prospects of the country and the need of European investors to diversify away from their home countries The Bond currently trades around 108% of par value, a significant uptick from October when it traded around 98% of par value. The Equity Market The stock market witnessed a month-on-month upbeat momentum as the benchmark All-Share Index (ASI) rose by 0.70% up in January 2012. Meanwhile, the growth of the benchmark index was not general market based as much of the gains was from the Building materials sector alone, influenced by a 7.4% rise in the value of Dangote Cement shares, which accounts for about 91% and 28% of the total capitalization of the Building materials sector and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), respectively. To a large extent, rise in bargain-hunting by institutional investors at the end of the year 2011 was curtailed due to the political unrest and civil protests after the removal of subsidy on petrol by the federal government. This made investors to re-evaluate investment themes despite expectations of impressive earnings announcements and corporate benefits.
The MPR is at its highest level ever (12%) and investors enjoy real positive returns, as interest rates are persistently ahead of inflation rates.The 90 day NIBOR is a good proxy for average interest rates.
Intervention by the CBN. Huge sales by the oil majors ( about $2.5 billion ) Relative economic, fiscal and political instability in America, Europe and the Middle East has given Nigeria a comparative advantage in FDIs, portfolio inflows and export revenues, all denominated in USD. The market favors the continuation of the fortunes of the naira in the short term.
Sources: CBN, DMO, BLOOMBERG, FDHL, FDMA www.myfinancialintelligence.com
FAAN & Maevis Nig. Ltd Draw Their Swords
he Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the body established to cater for the airports in the country and whose website clearly says thus: “FAAN is a service organization statutorily charged to manage all Commercial Airports in Nigeria and provide service to both passenger and airlines. We generate revenue from both Aeronautical and Non-Aeronautical sources in the ratio 82:18. We have embarked on projects to increase the revenue from Non-Aeronautical sources.” is in a major battle with one of its concessionaires. Judging by the statement on FAAN’s website it is safe to deduce that FAAN is well aware that to “manage” a “commercial airport” it must keep the proceeds flowing. So it is very baffling that FAAN would hand over the collection of its ‘survival’ income in the manner that it did. Without any embarrassment the FAAN allegedly declared to the world that the officials it entrusted with the management of the country’s airports entered a contract without first reading the terms and conditions and comprehending the results and consequences of signing that contract. FAAN alleges that it entered a contract with Maevis Nigeria Limited to collect airport fees on its behalf without realising that the contract had been twisted to unfairly favour Maevis Nigeria Limited. Today, reports say that the FAAN has announced that it can barely pay its staff as a result of the contract it unwittingly signed and it expects Maevis Nigeria Limited to take the
Tunde Fagbemi- Managing Director of Maevis Nigeria Limited
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
blame. FAAN is a very significant body and its actions have a direct effect on the nation’s economy. The airports are key to the country’s development and key to the private sector as well. Only seasoned negotiators should be negotiating on its behalf. As the story goes, FAAN decided that it required an automated system to collect its fees and it considered its options; three of which were: • Get an automated system for itself for the collection of fees. • Hire somebody’s automated system. • Hand over the collection of the fees (and only income) to someone else. The third option was the lazy way out and that was what FAAN officials opted for and FAAN says it went on to sign a one-sided contract with Maevis Nigeria Limited ‘unintentionally’. For two years now, FAAN has been dragging Maevis Nigeria Limited from one government establishment to the other and has dragged it to court as well; all in a bid to get out of the contract. The airlines that use the airports continued to pay their fees to Maevis Nigeria Limited and nothing changed. FAAN is now playing hardball. It wrote to the flyers ‘ordering’ them to stop paying their fees to Maevis Nigeria Limited and to pay into FAAN account. The question is; why didn’t they think of that in the first place before selling their birth right? As expected Maevis Nigeria Limited also wrote the flyers telling them that it remained the authorised body to collect their fees (which is the truth). Now, reports say that a contempt of court notice had been served on FAAN. Time is passing and these flyers do not know where to pay their fees to. Some of the foreign flyers got fed up and wrote to both Maevis Nigeria Limited and FAAN giving them a 2-week ultimatum to settle their differences and mutually agree as to where the fees should be paid to. Nigerians on the other hand are beginning to wonder why the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the aviation minister, Mrs. Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi have not called the FAAN officials to explain how they signed such a contract in the first place. In fact it seems they have taken sides with these FAAN officials. Recent reports say Mrs. Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi has announced a review of the existing avaition
pacts with all its concessionaires without a word about the competence of those FAAN officials who negotiated. Many sceptics believe these officials should be probed to establish whether they were moles planted by Maevis Nigeria Limited, or whether their ‘oversight’ was procured. FAAN is also accusing the revenue concessionaire of breaching the agreement. But
Managing Director, FAAN, Richard Aisuebeogun
Maevis Nigeria Limited is denying this allegation; claiming that it has kept to its side to the bargain. Reports put the fees in question at N25bn annually. There are 25 foreign airlines with daily flights into the country. The various fees include the Passenger Service Charge, rents, landing and parking charges. Maevis Nigeria Limited has a 4 year contract with FAAN who has been fighting to get out of the hang noose it crawled into. Maevis Nigeria
Limited on the other hand alleges an investment of about N9bn for the installation of the automated Airport Operations Management System at the nation’s airports with which it collects the fees. This statement calls for a little arithmetic: If the automated system costs N9bn to install and the annual fee from the airports is N25bn every year, FAAN could have acquired its own automated system. But it didn’t.
Aviation minister, Mrs. Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi
Pensions: Scam after scam BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
Abdulrasheed Maina, head of verification & reformation team of the Civil Service Pension Office
his February the Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina, publicly announced that some corrupt pension officials in the pensions department within the Office of the Head of Service were embezzling over N3.3bn monthly. On Sunday, February 19, 2012, media reports said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had discovered another N14bn fraud in the pension office of the Nigeria Police Force. Early in February Maina said a certain N28bn worth of police pension fund was found dormant in a certain account at the police pension office. The word on the street is that this N14bn fraud is the hand work of certain senior officials therein. The grapevine says that between January 5, 2009 and May 6, 2011, these officials used the name of the Director of Pensions to draw up a total of 13, 874 cheques! Hundreds of cheques are raised on a daily basis 14
and is endorsed by the cashier of one of the old generation banks so it can be cashed over the counter. These withdrawals violated the Federal Government e-payment circular which had come into effect since January 1, 2009. So these officials share ‘free money’ every single day. The EFCC arrested 7 officials in connection with the N14bn fraud and 5 of these officials are signatories to the account but their names have not been made public as at press time. Amongst them are 3 directors, and 1 of them is a serving permanent secretary from a federal ministry. The rest are said to be top officials in the accounts department and they were arrested at various locations. They have been given administrative bail. Several others who have been implicated or mentioned in line with the fraud are still roaming free. The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed the arrests and the sum (N14bn) and told the media that the suspects would be charged to court and the
details of the case would be made public. While Maina was reporting to the Acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Ekpo Nta, he said that large sums were stolen every month. He said over 100,000 ghost pensioners have been programmed into the central database and that it was when the task force used proprietary software that this was discovered. It was reported that the data for 258,000 pensioners was submitted to the Budget Office by the ‘cartel’ in the pension office for which they received N5bn every month. But the task force discovered only 70,657 genuine pensioners on that list who are entitled to only N1.7bn and 44,320 genuine pensioners who have never been paid since 1968 and 1975, some of whom have been ‘reinstated’ would now be receiving their pension. So far 71,133 ghost pensioners have been discovered so far. These ghosts have been collecting money for years. We expect to get more reports www.myfinancialintelligence.com
regarding the remaining 71890 names. As for the pensionmatter of the defunct Nigeria Airways pension matter, reports say the retired workers have petitioned the EFCC, alleging that their pensions and benefits are about to be fraudulently diverted. The petition is dated February 1, 2012, and titled: ‘Re: Unlawful removal of our clients’ names from the list of Nigeria Airways and fraudulent diversion of their pension and other benefits to payment of ghost retirees.’ These retirees of the year 2002 say their own names were removed and replaced with the name of ghost retirees. They allege that they have documents to prove this. They admit that they received their gratuities in 2002 and were duly confirmed as genuine retirees of the Nigeria Airways. But that a new list had surfaced and they were left out of it. They are calling for the EFFCC to uncover the original list of pensioners from 2002. They want the EFCC to step in so that the full and final settlement of all their pensions by the government would not be disbursed using the new (fake) list which has already been sent to the Accountant General’s office for payment. They are pointing fingers at Messrs Samuel Nzene and Uche Okoro, whom they referred to as the ‘self-acclaimed representatives of the defunct Nigeria Airways retirees’. In the petition presented on their behalf by their lawyer, Adegbite Adeniyi and Associates, they did not mince words; it is a direct accusation of Messrs Samuel Nzene and Uche Okoro, of switching their names with those of ghost retirees with the intent to steal their money. In late January the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in collaboration with a Pension Verification Team in the Office of the Head of Service, uncovered over N5billion fraud in the Pensions Unit of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. N500million and $2million of which were allegedly found in the account of a Deputy Director (Finance and Accounts), Mrs. Phiana U. Chidi and N12million in the account of a 29-year old clerk, Grace Francis. Six suspects, including a former director of the unit, were detained at the commission’s Abuja headquarters. They were: • M.A. Abdallah, a former Director 15
(Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, • Mrs. Chidi; • Grace Francis; • Haruna Maigida (a.k.a Danjuma Bakowasa) • Luke Eloanyi, a Confidential Secretary to the former Director (Pension Administration), and • Aliyu Bello, who allegedly recruited people into whose accounts fraud proceeds were paid. An interim report indicates the recovery Ibrahim Lamorde EFCC chairmann from some of the suspects as follows: cially in the current economic climate but • Mrs. Chidi (N500m and $2m); it is the magnitude of the fraud that makes • Maigida (N21.452m) domiciled in an the situation here unique. Many argue that account in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State if individuals in the public sector were aland N8m in an Abuja account); lowed to choose and manage their own • Eloanyi (N13m); and personal pension plans, they would be bet• Grace Francis (N12m). ter protected from pension thieves. But is The “Interim Report of the Case of Pen- that really feasible? sion Fraud”, stated that more than N5bilIn the US and the UK, and other more lion may have been stolen from pension ‘developed’ governments, the issue is not funds in the last one year; 2011-2012 by the vulnerability of the pensioners to fraud these particular suspects and others yet to and it is not the delays in the disbursement be caught. Nonetheless, these individuals of the pensions. For them, it is the over had been and must cough out N5bn. burdening of the tax payers from whom Ghost pensioners were also discovered: the pensions are milked. Analysts predict There were 141,970 pensioners’ data on that the pensioners in these western counthe payroll of the Federal Government, less than 90,000 were verified and over tries could also be deprived as they are liable to face pension cuts when the gov34,000 were ghosts. Reports say that in one particular in- ernment runs out of money; when the tax stance a total of 554 ghost pensioners were payers can no longer carry the burden. But there are clearly two distinct ailtagged to one single bank account! Over 11,000 of these ghost pensioners on the ments here. With these western countries, payroll had no data and no identities, yet the machinery itself is fine. It is the dwinthey had been receiving pensions. dling reserve of raw materials that would Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, the Head of the warrant a review of the machinery. Civil Service of the Federation recently As a result, Nigeria does not have any admitted that the verification of pensionexample to analyse or compare with. We ers had reduced the pension bill from have a very unique situation that is rooted N2.3billion to N1.2billion; almost 50% in our inherited addiction to shabby data and still counting. Managing public sector pensions is collation and storage, which continues to challenging anywhere in the world, espe- leave pensioners vulnerable to fraud. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
n 2011, the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) gave Nigeria the final approval to start the Regional Maritime Development Bank (RMDB) in the country. The Federal Ministry of transport confirmed this to the media saying the bank had been given the go ahead to take off. Media reports in June 2011 say both General Assembly of MOWCA and the Bureau of Transport Ministers approved the bank and all the proposals of the Federal Ministry of Transport on the matter. The Minister of Transport, Sen Idris Umar told the media: “All the 25-member countries constituting MOWCA are looking up to Nigeria to takeoff with the project,’’ According to reports and the Federal Ministry of Transportation, MOWCA had given the Nigerian Minister of Transport the nod to start the bank as well as approve the appointment of financial and legal consultants for the bank. This is not out of the ordinary as an estimated 76% of shipping business activities in West Africa takes place in Nigeria alone. Also the fact that Nigeria imports most of
have expressed fears of that the headquarters would be withdrawn from Nigeria. As at February 2012 calls are still being made to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Federal government to provide ‘financial commitment’, appoint financial and legal consultants and ‘open’ the bank’s secretariat. About three quarters have gone by since the final approval was given and whispers say that several other countries in the subregion have begun to lobby to have the bank’s headquarters in their own countries if this happens Nigeria would lose the benefits of having the headquarters in her domain. The Ministry of Transportation did not
Bank. MOWCA was established in May 1975 as the Ministerial Conference of West and Central African States on Maritime Transport (MINCONMAR) and the name was changed to MOWCA as part of reforms adopted by the General Assembly of Ministers of Transport, at an extraordinary session the organisation held in Abidjan from 4 to 6, August 1999. Nigeria’s ‘inaction’ could easily be translated as lack of commitment to MOWCA. By now Nigeria should have a financial consultant to draw up a business plan and the plan for raising capital and a legal consultant to prepare the legal framework for the smooth take-off of the bank, as well as see to other legal matters. In addition, Nigeria was expected should have hired a project co-ordinator to set up the secretariat. The country is also expected to bear the running cost of the bank until it opens for business. It was agreed that the cost of making these arrangements would be noted as Nigeria’s contribution to the setting up of the bank. Other members of the MOWCA are al-
Nigeria Oil Market: Alternative Fuel To The Rescue
Regional Maritime Development Bank: Nigeria lags behind BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
her consumables makes the ports of utmost importance to the country and her economy. The bank was intended to aid the development of the West African shipping business. He said, “The approvals for Nigeria to host the banks’ headquarters came through the 13th General Assembly of MOWCA in Dakar, Senegal in July 2008; it also had the Late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s approval in February 2009; and the latest resolution of the 14th General Assembly of MOWCA on August 2011 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The reasons for starting the bank are as follows: • To generate funds for the services of Cabotage Act and the Local Content Act at very good rates and conditions. • Increase the purchase of vessels by indigenous ship owners who would be able to lift crude and refined petroleum products. • To serve as a “purely business bank” for the development of the maritime industry. • To provide money to purchase vessels, construct ship building yards, fishing trawlers, inland container depots, green- field development, deep seaports amongst other things. • To create wealth and jobs. In spite of the approval of the Regional Development Bank, it still lies fallow and a few 16
purchase any property for the bank; instead it opted for a rental arrangement of a couple of buildings in Abuja. The rents for these would soon be due and the buildings have not even been used yet; 2 years after the lease. These buildings were to serve as secretariat and transit guest houses. Reports say “no effort” has been made to ensure the opening of the bank for business and nothing at all was being done with the buildings. Reports say the bank’s status is that of a ‘sub-regional initiative supported by multilateral agencies like World Bank, African Development Bank (ADB) and European banks’. MOWCA itself had made the initial contacts with these agencies, who have accepted to work with MOWCA to move things along. But when the baton was finally handed over to Nigeria everything grounded to a standstill and the world has been waiting for over a year for the Federal government to provide the pre-incorporation funds and then open the bank for business. The idea to establish the regional bank came to the fore at the Bureau of Transport Ministers’ meeting in Angola in 2005 and Nigeria agreed to host the headquarters. The vision was for a bank that was like other development banks; like inter-American Development Bank and Asian Development
legedly eyeing the ‘mandate’ and reports say that if Nigeria does not make a significant move she might lose the secretariat and its benefits as many other states are salivating for it. Media reports are blaming the sluggishness of the government to the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar himself. The claim is that Senator Umar has chosen not to act on several memos written to him about the take off of the bank since the beginning of 2011. The word on the street is that Sen. Umar is displeased about the resumption of a new Secretary General for MOWCA; Mr. Allan Mitchel Luvambano from Angola. Mr. Luvambano took over the saddle of Secretary General, MOWCA, from Ghanaian, Mr. Magnus Peye Addico. The General Assembly of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) held its 63rd session between Feruary 22 and March 2, 2012 in London and some maritime stakeholders believe that Nigeria should have taken advantage of the event to reach out to other member nations, especially the ones that belong to MOWCA as well in order to ensure that the Regional Maritime Development Bank commences business. As it is many of these other countries have established their own specialised maritime banks and the benefits are streaming in. Nigeria is not only lagging behind, she is holding everyone else back. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
BY IFEDAYO ADEBAYO
n Nigeria today, petrol is sold for N97 in the west, between N120 and N150 in the Eastand in the North it is sold for as much as N180. To make things even worse, the people there have to endure long queues to buy a few litres of fuel. The state of the electricity supply in the country has made power generators a necessity. So that even if you did not have a car you still ended up on the queue at the fuel station for hours on end. 17
Tolu Ogunlesi a N i g e rian creative writer, stated in one of his write-ups that, “We are Africa’s biggest producer of crude oil, and one of the top 10 in the world, and at the same time we are one of the world’s biggest importers of refined petroleum” the major reason is that our refineries are not working. Fuel is so vital to the economic development of any country that it could be simply described as the blood in the veins of its economic existence as well as country’s assurance of a progressing economic status. Nigeria has a policy on bio-fuels entitled Nigerian Bio-fuel Policy and Incentives (2007) through a Policy Document that was approved by the Federal Execu-
tive Council on June 20th, 2007, but the country still relies on petroleum for energy generation and is thus vulnerable whenever there is a crises. For many years now, Nigeria has been facing extreme electricity shortages . This deficiency is multi-faceted, with causes that are financial, structural, and sociopolitical, none of which are mutually exclusive. Peter Kayode Oniemola, McArthur Foundation, a researcher into the use of Alternative fuel in Nigeria said: “The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was in 2007 given the mandate to create an environment for the take-off of a domestic ethanol fuel industry. The aim is to gradually reduce the nation’s dependence on imported gasoline, reduce environmental pollution and create a commercially viable industry that can precipitate sustainable domestic jobs.” www.myfinancialintelligence.com
cause greater supply diversity. INCREASE FOOD PRICES The food prices increase with the fuel price for these major reasons: • Transportation prices: These rise with the fuel prices and farm produce and food stuff (fresh or processed) require transportation. • Power generation: Power is required for preservation (heat drying of freezing) of food, for food processing, and packaging. With alternatives like biofuels, the food prices would stay low. Biofuels on the other hand can be derived from biomass, including organic matter like plants or their metabolic byproducts like cow manure and thus offer environmental benefits over conventional fossils fuels, the production and use of biofuels derived from palm oil, soy, corn, rapeseed, and sugar cane would drive up
In its search for an alternative, the Olusegun Obasanjo led administration had approved the use of biofuels which are fuel produced from organic components. Bioethanol and biodiesel are two of the most common forms of biofuels. Others include biomethanol, biodimethylether and biogas. Bioethanol is produced from crops such as sugarcane, maize, beet, wheat and sorghum. A new generation of ‘lignocellulosic’ bioethanol also includes a range of forestry products such as short rotation coppices and energy grasses. Biodiesel is made from seeds such as rapeseed, sunflower, soy, palm, coconut or Jatropha. It is considered as a renewable energy source. Although renewable energy is used mostly to generate electricity, it is often assumed that some form of renewable it could be used to create alternative fuels. Media reports quoted the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke thus: “The nation’s actual crude oil (+condensate) production rose to an average of 2.39 million barrels per day, consistently maintained above the budgeted production level of 2.30 million bar18
rels per day.” She also said: “Gas sales rose by more than 70% to an average 4 billion standard cubic feet per day in 2011 and for the first time, industry supplied more domestic gas than was consumed by the power and industrial sector. The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas company (NLNG) had one of its most successful years, with production peaking at 21.2 Million metric tons in 2011 alone.” It all sounds good but the electricity supply is still epileptic and the fuel price is still ‘volatile’. The only conclusion is that petroleum supply at its ‘’peak’’ is still not enough. Nigeria’s power generating capacity is stated as below 5000KV, which extremely low. Daniel Eze a human right activist and leader of Ijaw youths of the Niger Delta agrees, he said: “Whatever the disadvantages of this alternative fuel, any country that relies so much on a single means like Nigeria is bound to be subjected to unnecessary pressure whenever there is an external crises. That is why the price of crude oil has also remained the drive of our economy; all these should not be.” Environmental Impacts
Apart from the challenges of the reliance on crude oil, the environmental damage (including air, soil and water pollution and deforestation) also boost the argument for the use of alternative fuels which is sourced mostly from farm produce and refuse. The government pledged to end gas flares on December 31, 2008, but that did not happen. Reports say it is simply cheaper for the oil companies to flare the gas than to ‘collect’ it for use. Other countries have made successful attempts at producing alternative fuel; corn-derived ethanol in the United States, sugar-derived ethanol in Brazil, synthetic crude from oil sands in Canada, coal-toliquids production in South Africa, natural gas-to-liquids production in Qatar and Malaysia, and small amounts of biodiesel production in the United States and Europe. The advantages of expanding the production of alternative fuels go beyond economic and national security benefits. It would also reduce the demand for crude oil, and thus lower world oil prices and www.myfinancialintelligence.com
the demand and supply of local farm produce, increase employment as well as bring down the cost of fuel and food (especially as more youths go back to the farms). NIGER DELTA The amnesty arrangement for the Niger Delta militants has improved the situation in the Niger Delta but the temptation obviously remains. Reports say that about 150, 000 barrels of oil, valued at N2.6 billion, is stolen daily in Nigeria, according to oil giant, Shell, which accounts for half of national oil output. Ian Craig, Shell’s Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, was recently speaking at the Nigeria Oil and Gas Forum in Abuja, and he attributed this development to the failure of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to meet its funding commitments. “The greatest challenge, however, is the massive organized oil theft business and the criminality and corruption which it
fosters. This drives away talent, increases costs, reduces revenues both for investors and the government and results in major environmental impacts.” He said. However to salvage the energy crisis, there will be need for additional, physical infrastructure despite political and social resistance. In the energy policy of 2003, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PCHN) outlines a plan to diversify its energy sector and pursue renewable energy: In particular, PHCN also endorses an increase in the utilization of oil, natural gas, tar sands, coal, nuclear, hydropower, solar, biomass, hydrogen, wind and other renewable fuels. Today, Nigeria as a nation is more conscious of the advantages of having alternatives to crude oil especially with the success other countries have recorded with similar projects as well as the devastating weather changes in the country. It is time we stopped talking and started walking.
Partner, Stransact Partners
Tax Governance as an index for your investment decisions
ometime ago, I was daunted by the headlines of some newspapers that a bank has commenced winding up proceedings against a large oil marketing company in Nigeria over unpaid loans relating to certain transactions. This was not the disturbing bit of the news. Tucked in somewhere towards the end of that article was the information that the owner of the company (who is merely the majority shareholder; the owners being the investing public as this company is publicly traded) lives like a sheik, and owns several elite properties in highbrow Ikoyi, a collection of posh cars, private jets, and expensive ponies and appears not to be feeling the pains of the company. That a company is haemorrhaging while its owners or management live like lords should ordinarily not be disconcerting (I should not begrudge hardworking men and women their success), but it is, for me, because this scenario pervades the Nigerian corporate world. Sometime ago, some of us were shocked to our bone marrows when the chief executive of a bank that was bailed out by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) willingly forfeited over 150 billion naira in assets and cash. The question we ask our corporate “legislators” is: How do you manage to earn so much from your company? ‘We work very hard,’ is what they are likely to tell you. I agree that the role of a CEO is especially tasking but I am still unable to tie the published financial statements to the known wealth of these executhieves. There are basically only two ways to take out money from a company (even where you own it 100%). These are: as your share of the profits in the form of dividends and as fees, and salaries paid to you in exchange for services rendered to the company. Appropriating a company’s cash outside any of the above would be akin to theft. It baffles me when several dierectors kill their own companies by not adhering to these basic principles. They simply appropriate the company’s cash and assets! 21
There are basically only two ways to take out money from a company (even where you own it 100%). These are: as your share of the profits in the form of dividends and as fees, and salaries paid to you in exchange for services rendered to the company. Appropriating a company’s cash outside any of the above would be akin to theft. Today, the concept of corporate governance is pervasive and a code of corporate governance has been prescribed by most regulators to the players in the market. Yet it is not corporate governance adherence alone that the wise investor should pay attention to in assessing a potential investment. The concept of ‘tax governance’ is an emerging concept that is gaining ascendancy because of the progress made by the big firms on the subject. KPMG in particular has a lot to say on the subject. If we synergise the various definitions that exist for tax governance, then the term will come to mean the totality of the board of directors’ responses and attitude in relation to their company’s tax affairs. The question is: How does the board respond to its tax responsibilities and opportunities for the benefit of their shareholders? The rating you give a company as it relates to tax governance can very well be an unmatched barometer in determining the safety and sanctity of your investment in the medium term. A company that is alive to its tax responsibilities would consider the tax consequences
of its significant actions especially as it relates to executive compensation. Also, the tax question will come to the fore in crafting a dividend policy. Just as a prudent investor would seek to know the auditors of the companies in his or her portfolio, the diligent investor should similarly seek to know who the tax advisers to these companies are. As the auditor renowned for compliance and thoroughness elicits trust in every account he signs so does the scrupulous tax advisor engender trust in the tax affairs of the companies he is associated with. This is why investors should pay attention to tax governance. The lessons of tax governance are not only relevant to small investors, large group of companies that are closely held by a few individuals need to entrench tax governance as an integral part of their corporate governance policies. The story of Yukos and Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Russia is particularly apt here. In 2004, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was the wealthiest man in Russia and one of the top 20 wealthiest men in the world. Yukos was one of the biggest and one of the most successful Russian companies in 2000-2003. Yukos was one of the world’s largest nonstate oil companies, producing 20% of Russian oil which equates to about 2% of world production in 2004. From 2003 to 2004, following a series of tax reassessments, (these actions were condemned by the US House of Representative and the Council of Europe as being politically motivated), the Russian government presented Yukos with a series of tax claims that amounted to about $27 billion. The Russian Government subsequently broke up Yukos and sold it to recover its taxes thus eliminating the wealth of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Do not think this can only happen in Russia. In this era of politicking, a vindictive government can deal with its perceived enemies in several ways. The tax route is one of the simplest ways to do this and it can have devastating consequences. Little wonder the EFCC is beginning to intimidate companies by asking for tax records dating back several years, even though the law vests these powers on the Revenue Authority (according to Nigerian Employers Consultative Association- NECA). Please pay attention to the tax governance of companies you are targeting. It is the only way to secure your investment in the medium and long term. Eben Akinyemi, an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria is a partner at the transactions advisory firm Stransact Partners www.myfinancialintelligence.com
Real Estate Options On The Islands Of Lagos
Living on the islands of Lagos is in itself a status symbol, but other than prestige many would rather live near their offices than endure the long traffic-prone commute back and forth as they seek their daily bread.
Real Estate Options On The Islands Of Lagos
BY RANTI ADEDEJI
eal estate on the islands of Lagos is relatively more expensive that it is on the mainland but if you spend most of your day on the island then you should factor in the extra fuel you burn, the extra wear on your vehicles, the hassles and stress, the cost of doctor’s fee and medication. If you have been seeking to buy a property you should have done it in the heat of the global meltdown. The real estate market crashed along with the Nigerian Capital Market and choice properties were going for peanuts. There are a lot of good locations on the island to choose from. It is a general consensus among estate surveyors that Lekki corridor remains very appealing since there is hardly any investor coming into real estate that will 22
not want to kick-start his venture in Lekki. Ironically, not many of these potential investors are conversant with the Lekki axis. Some still see Lekki as being synonymous with Lekki Phase 1, which is only a government estate on the axis. Lekki corridor prides itself with more than 200 housing estates and still counting. The attraction to this location is the avalanche of world-class developments such as the free trade zone, proposed refinery, airport, seaport, holiday resorts and similar multinational developments, which enhances the value of the real estate on the axis. Besides, the on-going road improvement exercise will continue to make Lekki axis to remain the fastest growing real estate location in Africa. These developments will afford a large number of residents the luxury of working within the proximity to their homes
as well as enjoying their leisure times in the tranquillity of the sea-view environment. As the development progresses, the influx would increase and so would the prices, so you would have to speed up on your decision making if you intend to live on the island. In Lekki Phase1the average price range for a plot of land measuring between 1000 and 1100 square metres costs between N80 million and N120 million while the cost of a 5-bedroom detached house with a boy’s quarter and swimming pool on a 1000-square metres plot of land in Nicon Town is between N165 million and N180 million. The cost of a similar building in Victoria Garden City (VGC) could be as high as N200 million. However, low-end property locations like Sango-tedo, Lakowe, Ahoyaya, Ajah-Badore, Akodo, Oniyanrin, Epetu, Abijo, will cost you less. For instance, a plot of land measwww.myfinancialintelligence.com
uring 700 square metres in Sangotedo costs only N3.5 million while another plot of land of the same size in Badore costs N5 million. If you are putting your money into a high-end location like Ikoyi, then you have to study the guidelines and building regulations first. Out investigations revealed that once your plots are registered with the Lagos Registry you would not need to pay the regularisation fees of N20, 000 per square metre, when acquiring your building permit. Also some parts of the estate are favoured by town planning regulations. For instance a 4,405 square metre plot on Alexander Road on which the owner can build up to 15 floors attracts an asking price of N1.1billion (N250, 000 per square metre) while a 3,800 square metre plot on McDonald Road with which you would only get an approval to build 6 floors on it, is offered at N800m (N210, 000 per square metre). A 3,210 square metre plot on Glover Road Ikoyi which already has an approved design for a 15 storey building is on the market for N850m (N265, 000 per square metre). However, return on investment in Ikoyi properties is quite good both in rental value and capital appreciation, more so, most property owners demand rent in dollars, so you can let out the other flats and recoup the cost of the building within the next few years. If you purchased a 2-apartment building then you can let out the second apartment. 23
If it is a five-bedroom semi-detached house with a 3-bedroom boy’s quarter in Ikoyi, you could get about N7.5 million annually, but if you bought a block of flats and let out the other three-bedroom or two-bedroom flats and earn N1- N2million less than that. Other than the island you might considers other strategic locations on the mainland. Yaba for instance has a central location and the availability of a lot of infrastructure. Yaba will also enjoy an unprecedented increase in demand this year which will push rent prices up. With its characteristic old structures, Yaba is strategically located and has a direct access to the Lagos Central Business Distrct, and if you purchase a building there you can recoup the cost price when you let out the ‘extras’ over the next few years as the rents rise. According to Bola Olaiya, the principal partner of Bola Olaiya & Co, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, the concerted efforts of the state government to improve infrastructure is a driving force for properties in Yaba, He told FinIntell that the development has led some property developers to embark on massive residential developments in the area, among which are Tajudeen Olanrewaju estate, Grace Estate, Haliconia estate, New Court estate, Lava Oakwood estate, and Royal estate. The old structures in Yaba are also being purchased by individuals. These old struc-
tures are either renovated to suit the buyers taste or simply pulled down and replaced with new structures. “For a very long time Yaba will be a centre of attraction for the property market. More old structures are being put-up for sale on daily basis and the demand keeps increasing. Rent is also on the increase because there is more demand for accommodation, especially by those that work on the Island. Also people want to live and do business where they will not be disturbed by incessant flooding and inadequate facilities,” Olaiya said. Depending on the size of the land, the structure on it and its location, the cost of property in Yaba is in the range of N45 million and N125 million. Rent per annum is between N900,000 and N1.2 million for a tastefully finished three-bedroom flat and could be as high as N2 million for four-bedroom terrace house. As the saying goes; ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’ A lot of people would like to have a home in Ikoyi, but the average size of a plot of land is above 1000 square metres and the price can be as high as N250, 000 per square metres, so it is really for the big boys. On the other hand if you can get a loan for it then you can break it into smaller pieces, take out what you need and sell off the rest for a profit. The fact that smaller plots are scarce means that your bits of land would be hot cakes. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
Another location on the mainland that will experience a boost in its property market this year is Magodo GRA, Phase 1 and 2, which appears to have suddenly woken-up from a downward note since the end of 2010. The estate now records a flurry of construction activities following a revocation of the order slammed on some undeveloped plots in Magodo Phase 2 sometime in 2009. Those who got their land back immediately mobilised to site. Now, blocks of flats appear to be the vogue within the estate. A property developer who craves anonymity attributed the development to the increase in the commercial value of properties in the estate and the high return on rentals. He maintained that the estate which was renowned for duplexes and semi-detached houses is reverting to blocks of flats as a result of high demand. â€œMore people who want to live within the estate cannot afford to pay for duplexes, so you discover that you have lots of empty buildings for a very long period of time. So, there is the need to start building smaller apart-
ments like two-bedroom and three-bedroom flats that are in high demand,â€? he said. Property owners are capitalising on demand to increase rent within the estates. The annual rent for a 3-bedroom flat with exotic interior and all en-suite rooms ranges between N1.2 million and N1.5 million and the rent for a 4-bedroom duplex is between N1.4 million N2.5 million. The average price for a Semi-detached house in Magodo is between N45 million and N75 million while a plot of land is sold between N18 million and N30 million. Mowe/Ofada axis is expected to continue to thrive for low-end property market ahead of other places like Badagry and Ikorodu. Investors can take advantage of vast physical development on the axis and the proposed expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to commit their money now and see it grow in the years ahead. As more estates spring up in Mowe, Ibafo and Ofada, all small towns in Ogun State, on the border of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, property value has appreciated on the axis by over 200 per cent in the last couple of years. Quite a number of estates are springing-up on daily basis and selling a plot of land between N300, 000 and N850, 000. Some of them give buyers instalment payment options spread over 12 or 24 months and could be as low as N30, 000 per month. In Mowe for example, a 3 bedroom flat goes for be-
tween N200, 000 and N300,000 per annum. While it is as high as N400,000 for the same type of apartment in Arepo, another suburb along the Lagos Ibadan expressway, but much closer to Lagos. The property market in other locations like Gbagada, Banana Island, Oniru Estate and 1004 flats are expected to become more attractive this year. By the projections of Demola Adetola, one time publicity secretary of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyor and Valuers, NIRSV, the real estate market looks promising this year, irrespective of the location. He added that investors will be properly guided as the economic factors play out before the end first quarter of the year.
Mergers and acquisitions: Bad for customers’ morale?
BY OLUWASEYI BANGUDU
hen a bank changes its name, it takes a while for the customers to get used to it. Those banking with Intercontinental Bank got the information about the change of status on the banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that ‘their’ bank, Intercontinental Bank, is glad to be a subsidiary of Access Bank plc. They have absolutely no say in the matter, regardless of how much was in their account or how long they have been customers of the bank. The shareholders may have been informed of the terms and conditions of some of the agreements, but most of their customers were not. Mergers and acquisitions, also known as M&A have been the fate of about three of the eight rescued banks that failed the industry’s audit in 2009. Three others were nationalised and but are now managed by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria. Merger and Acquisition refers to the aspect of corporate strategy, finance and management that focuses on the buying, selling, dividing and/or combining of different companies and similar entities with the aim of 27
to enable rapid growth without necessarily creating a subsidiary or using a joint venture. A major challenge over the years however, is that the distinction between a merger and an acquisition has become increasingly unclear in various aspects of the process. Acquisition usually refers to a purchase of a smaller or ailing firm by a larger or healthier one. In acquisitions, the buyer could buy the shares and therefore, the control of the target company and could buy off its assets. When one company takes over another and clearly establishes itself as the new owner, which is what has happened with about two of the rescued banks in Nigeria, the purchase is an acquisition. From a legal point of view, the target company ceases to exist, as the buyer; as it were, ‘gulps down’ the business and the buyer’s stock continues to be traded. A merger, in the real sense of it, happens when two firms agree to go forward as a single new company rather than remain separately owned and operated. Sometimes referred to as ‘mergers of equals’ in some cases where the firms are about the same size. What typically happens is that the both firms cease to exist and a new firm emerges, their stocks and shares are laid down and a new stock for the emerged company is issued
in its place. The main concern with acquisition is that being bought over often carries negative undertone, therefore, deal managers and portfolio holders try to make the takeover mild and acceptable to all their stakeholders (customers, shareholders, staff etc) by describing the deal as a ‘merger’. Omotola Oluwashola, a consultant with banking experience, says Mergers and Acquisitions have to be treated differently for better analysis. “Often times, organisations patronise the merger option to solve a particular problem and financial institutions are not left out” Mr. Oluwashola said. According to him, the impact mergers and acquisitions would have on people across board depends on the manner it is executed. He said the problems could vary from technical, improvement in technology, breaking into new market, lack of expertise in a particular field and so on. “If one company lacks any of these and have strength in another, such a company might look for a company in the industry that is good in the area its having difficulties or challenges and then negotiate to merge for mutual benefit to move the organisation forward” he said. “In this case, the staff and customers will www.myfinancialintelligence.com
be aware of the situation on ground and most times, it is a welcome development. In the long run when both companies have solved the problem, customers will be happy about the move, though it might mean that staff would be laid off depending on the nature of the problem solved” he added. On the other hand, Mr. Oluwashola said acquisition is the total taking over of a company. This usually gives the staff and customers mixed feelings about being ‘bought’. The truth is that in most cases, the members of staff of the ‘buying’ company tend to feel superior to the staff of ‘bought’ company. “When some of the staff would be laid off, it is usually the staff of the acquired company and those left behind would lose the sense of belonging. Most of the time, they start looking for another job,” he said. Job security and the loyalty question.
Mr. Oluwashola said the problem is heightened in a situation where the initial employment standard of the acquired bank is lower than that of the acquiring bank. “For instance, before acquisition, the acquired bank may have employed HND holders as professional staff while the acquiring bank only employs university graduates as professional staff. Obviously, there are differences in standard of employment, which might be a yardstick for the lay off ”. So a line 28
is drawn and “staff that fall within the lower employment standard of the acquired bank may be sacked or asked to resign as the case may be. In the case of sacking of staff, there are no entitlement attached, but a resignation will attract entitlement,” he said. Differences in organisational culture which includes the dress code, how members of staff address one another at the work place and so on may also affect the morale of the staff as well as the customers of the acquired bank. Mr. Oluwashola said one major area customers might be having issues with is loyalty. “Customers’ loyalty to a particular brand is vital. The customers of the acquiring bank might have no problems with the development but the morale of the customers of the acquired bank may be affected, especially if they do not like the new owners. Some might
even change their bank”. Putting the brand issue aside for a moment, Mr. Oluwashola also added that “loyalty in the banking industry has a bottom line,” he said customers would ponder on major questions like ‘Is my money safe?’ or ‘How safe is my money?’ “If the answers to these questions are positive, an average customer might not really have any morale issue at all” he said. A banker at Fin Bank, who chose to be
unnamed due to the ongoing negotiations in his bank, says the bank has started to experience the seconding of staff from FCMB and vice versa. “It is referred to as seconding of staff and is usually experienced during integration. During this period, the acquiring bank sends some of their staff to some major departments of the acquired bank such as the legal, treasury, operations departments among others. An arm of the integration team would also harmonise salaries. ” “They monitor and act as approving authorities. They report to their own bosses and are still on their payroll. There is a timeframe for the whole acquisition process. As time goes on, customers would be brought into the picture and enlightened on the progress of the bank”. These ‘supervisors’ intrude into the existing camaraderie of the staff of the acquired
bank and give briefings. “Having them around feels alien, and they feel the same way too” he said, adding that they would be around until the integration process is over. The whole acquisition process usually takes about a year”. In addition he said: “Some members of staff have left already and more people are leaving.” As for how it has affected the customers he said: “Customers actually have nothing to worry about. There have been panic withdrawals. It www.myfinancialintelligence.com
is the people that do not really know what is going on that could panic. Some s hareholders have sold their shares at reduced prices to the acquiring bank” he said. Sunday Salako, the President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), said the assurance that the affected staff get their entitlement is ongoing. “It is our duty to facilitate the process and make sure that those who leave are paid,” he said. Many factors drive the pursuit for mergers and acquisitions, the dominant being the belief that the merging or the acquired firm would stand a better chance and have an improved financial performance at the end of the day. Others reasons include geographical or other diversification, cross selling, economy of scope and scale, resource transfer, vertical integration (when an upstream and downstream of a firm merge or one acquires the other), hiring (some companies use acquisitions as an alternative to the normal hiring process) among others. Reports say the Central Bank has asked merging banks to exercise caution when they lay off workers. Noting that some problems usually trail mergers and acquisitions, the 29
regulatory body last week, said it could only appeal to the banks to adopt moral suasion when it comes to workers retrenchment. The Central Bank was reacting to the sack of 3000 workers by some of the acquired banks already. A bank like every organisation is made of people, and the customers interact and bond with the bank through these people. Where a customer has bonded with a certain member of staff and that person is unceremoniously sacked, that bond is broken. According to media reports the deputy director, banking supervision, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Ibedu Onyebuchi Kevin said the Central Bank cannot tell the banks not to sack their workers. He was quoted thus: “The apex bank can only tell the banks to tread the path of caution to minimise the impact on the financial system. We can only advise the banks by a way of moral suasion so that the system would not be badly affected.” He said layoffs were unavoidable, arguing that the issue of merger and acquisitions across the world has its own pains and gains. He said the Central Bank gave the entities involved in the merger and acquisition activities the opportunity to succeed, through its reforms package. He recalled that the banks
went through Transaction Implementation Agreement (TIA) through which they consummated their relationship. Banks in Nigeria have had it tough since 2009, when the Central Bank conducted a special industry audit on the banks, which left some banks with new CEOs and the search for new investors. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Central Bank governor, reportedly said the special audit and removal of the CEOs was due to high level of non-performing loans in some of the banks, which was a result of poor corporate governance practices, lax credit administration processes and the absence or non-adherence to the banks credit risk management practices. The banking crisis came on the heels of the economic meltdown that led to the global financial crisis about four years ago. This compounded the problems that were already affecting both individuals and corporate organisations. Despite the industry’s challenges and difficulties, and the sweet and sour stories, in the last three years, it is commendable to note that depositors have not lost their funds and the reforms have left the industry in a better shape. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
STOLEN LOOT: James Ibori Bites The Dust & Then what?
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
n February 27, 2012 the media was agog with the news that the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori had pleaded guilty to a ten count charge of fraud, stealing and money laundering charges before a Southwark Crown Court in London and would be sentenced on April 16, 2012. Immediately, Ibori’s entire life and journey from 1958 to 2012 was splashed worldwide: From his menial job at a hardware store in the London suburb of Neasden in 1991 where he stole with the help of his wife and was convicted up until his conviction for credit card theft, his fudged passport, he venturing into politics and all the way to his eight-year tenure as the Governor of Delta State and then the ‘promise’ of the post of Vice President to President Yar’Adua was splashed around the globe. The claim is that the ex-governor could have been the ‘thieving’ President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s promise to have him as President Yar’Adua’s running mate was fulfilled. Ibori is alleged to have served as an ally of former President Obasanjo is alleged to have sought a south south representative for the post of Vice President. Another issue under the radar is the immunity and vast powers Nigerian governors enjoy. Ibori is not the first. He has had predecessors like former governor of Bayelsa State Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha. Prior to his current charges, Ibori was charged in Nigeria and the charges were dropped. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission tried to arrest him under the present administration but the EFCC officials were allegedly ambushed on their way there. It is alleged on international media that Ibori “and President Goodluck Jonathan are enemies”. But that has not been proved. The crimes that Ibori owned up to this February had been alleged for years right before the eyes of the federal government so that he could have been tried and jailed right here in Nigeria, so what is wrong with our own judicial system? Nonetheless, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said that the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, will be re-arrested and tried in Nigeria after serving his time in the London prison. The Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren of the commission released a statement on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. The statement said that 30
Ibori’s current charges only covered “a minute aspect of the bouquet of offences committed by the former governor during his eight year rule of Delta State. The bulk of the criminal charges against the former governor are still before courts in Nigeria and there are no plans to vacate those charges.” Uwujaren continued saying “Moreover, the former governor didn’t steal alone.” Ibori’s accounts have been frozen alongside those of his women; his wife, mistress and sister. His other accomplices are allegedly being hunted. Like the ‘Abacha loot’ the stolen money would be returned to Nigeria. But in Ibori’s case the money would be returned to “the people of Delta State” whom he reportedly stole from. A plea bargain arrangement had Ibori pleading guilty to stealing $250 million. The Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, IHRHL, reportedly told the media on February 28, 2012 that the present government in Delta State has ‘actively’ supported Ibori all through his ordeal until date. He allegedly warned that money returned to the current Delta State government would return to Ibori’s pockets. As for the Abacha loot several people have spoken out about the lack of accountability with regards to the use that these funds were put to. The international media has thrown up what seems to be an innuendo about the Nigerian Federal Government system. Clearly, Nigerian governors have unchecked access to the treasury and complete immunity to commit crimes as long as they remain in office. Then the next option is to flee the country as fast as they can. Several former state governors like the former Governor of Ogun State Gbenga Daniel who allegedly fled without officially handing over and later returned to face charges. At that time the EFCC was going after a whopping 9 governors. Many have called the Nigerian Federal system expensive and it may end up being tagged as ‘engineered for looting’ regardless of how unfair that stigma might be.
Edo State Commissioner Gets Death Threat Within Months In Office
do State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion, who resigned from his position as the Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief of National LIFE newspapers in July 2011 to take the position as a commissioner in the Adams Oshiomhole led Edo State raised alarm on February 28, 2012 that a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and former Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih has openly
threatened his life. Odion allegedly released a statement to the media saying the threat was made at a wedding reception at the palace ground in Benin City on Saturday, February 18, 2012 in the presence of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State. Odion, in his statement alleged that there was no provocation and that he was in a conversation with the Delta State Governor when Chief Anenih walked over to them and shouted out his threat saying: “You’ ll soon see what will
happen to you.” Odion claims in his statement that Chief Anenih’s reputation as the ‘Mr. Fix It of the PDP’ has worried his friends and associates and they had advised that he made the threat public.
The Polarised World Computer Market
claiming that, “the factors of production are against any local manufacturer of PCs. Take irregular power supply and the cost of maintaining power-generating sets, the manpower and cost of locally transporting the goods. By the time you add the cost of producing one unit of PC locally to what it would take to buy and ship in the same PC from Taiwan or Dubai, the unit price of one locally produced PC would buy about two imported PCs.” The computer market in Nigeria also stands between the importation of brand new system and the fairly used type from Europe. According to Kazeem Olagbile, the CEO of Suntan Computers at Computer Village, “only recently that we now have economically made laptops that middle income eaners can afford. Back then the prizes were so high and the only alternative was the patronage of the fairly used market.” He claims that even the agencies of government even patronize the ‘tokunbo’ market, “sometimes the tokunbos are even better than the so called new ones,” he said, advising, “Some of the tokunbo spare parts are more reliable than the so called new ones. They are shabbily made and do not last. So, don’t let anyone deceive you in the name of saying it is new. Check it well.” Almost all computer makers in the world have offices in Nigeria and could be contacted for bulk purchase or even customized built, depending on the need. Most corporate organizations do not patronize places like computer village and and computer shops. They would rather go to computer makers’ country offices and shops directly. The only difference in the two markets is however the originality and prize. The prizes with the makers shops are always higher, although the products come with a reliable warranty and maintenance agreement. Between 2000 till date, the demand for Desktop built computers have however shifted to Laptops due to its portable sizes and the prizes presently range from N40, 000 and above depending on the features and manufacturers. Also, the increasing use of mobile phones, as many now do some work on their phones, especially the internet related activities has reduced the demand for computers. Presently, the corporate personnel and students are biggest patrons of PC market, while the replications of big sales platforms like the Lagos Computer Village is also required to widen the acceptability and demand by many Nigerians.
The new technology in data processing is declining the market order placement for computers
BY IFEDAYO ADEBAYO
he world computer market has in rough estimate sold 49,786,899 units of PC between January and February 2012, while the worldwide PC shipments are expected at a total of 440.6 million units in 2012, a 13.6% increase from 2011. This is down from Gartner’s previous outlook of 14.8 percent growth for 2012. Worldwide PC shipments are forecast to reach 387.8 million units in 2011, a 10.5 percent increase from 2010, according to Gartner’s preliminary forecast. This is down from Gartner’s previous projection of 15.9 percent growth that year. The primary source for Worldometers statistics on PC sales is provided by Gartner and According to Gartner Dataquest’s statistics, in April 2002 the billionth personal computer was shipped. The second billion mark was supposedly reached in 2007, and this is a time that Nigeria as a country started experiencing a major influx of computer systems. The market has however since then been very unstable, since then as it is a bit difficult to forecast what the situation in the market is per time. Pricing, quality of products and unhealthy competition are some of the reasons of Nigeria’s computer market instability, despite a steady demand for computer products across the globe, says a major computer dealer at the Lagos popular Computer village. Mac Eze, the Vice President of Computer Dealers and Allied Products Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), claimed that “there is nothing encouraging about computer market this year in Nigeria. The economy is not friendly, other than that there are extraneous factors that must be put at bay”. He said despite the challenges, the Lagos Computer Village, was arguably the largest 32
computer product market in Africa. However, the dealers berate the high import duties charged on computer products by the government. Also considering the fact that the entire computer product market in Nigeria exists via importation, the First Vice President of Computer Society of Nigeria, David Adewunmi, once stated in an interview that Nigerians will continue paying more for computer products if government doesn’t finance IT education in schools properly and encourage local system builders of such products. Despite several research results and sales predictions, the PC market in Nigeria is still shaky and is steadily being overtaken by the use of cellphones and other hardware products. The emerging market of the cellphones in Africa and its rapid growth in Nigeria has however called for a question on how many computers are actually in use out of those produced and acquired at the market? According to a report by Forrester Research, there were over one billion PCs in use worldwide by the end of 2008. Forrester also predicts that with the PC adoption in emerging markets growing fast,
it is estimated that there will be more than two billion PCs in use by 2015. Though, it took 27 years to reach the one billion mark of PC’s acquisition, it predicts that it will take only 7 to grow from 1 billion to 2 billion and the rave is also very evident in Nigeria, even as government and private platforms are transforming into a full digital age of service provision. Corroborating Eze’s comment on the staggering status of local computer market in Nigeria, the CEO of Geniac Computers, Mr. Gboyega Ojuri blamed the trend on the increasing importation of Computers into Nigeria, without a proper check by the government, while according to him, “PCs shipped from Dubai continue to sell more than even what is on offer from the government-assisted PC mass acquisition programme, tagged ‘Computers For All Nigerians Initiative.” Nigeria and other West African ICT markets has been massively in patronage of computers imported directly from Dubai and thereby continue to dominate locally assembled PCs. This has however been blamed for negative impact on the boost of the Nigeria’s fledgling computer hardware manufacturing industry market, and threatening its survival. “In terms of pricing, it would be difficult to match what these other Arab companies are bringing into the market,” said Ojuri, www.myfinancialintelligence.com
In his own view that the call for better E-operations and E-Services should be employed to encourage the market, a staff of one of the telecommunication companies in Abuja said that it is absurd to note that a large percentage of the Nigerian Police do not know how to use computers, “so which market do you want them to patronize? When they stand at the check point and see you with a computer, they don’t know what to check to validate ownership. So, I think it is time to equip all Police Stations and offices, then private businesses will have no choice than to take queue.” Developed Market Swift However in August, 2011, China for the first time beat the U.S. to become the world’s biggest personal-computer market, highlighting the growing importance of a country where big U.S. PC makers have struggled to compete against China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. The Consumer demand for PCs has soared in emerging markets, while it has faltered in developed markets. Meanwhile, the rise of smartphones and tablet computers, most notably Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, has raised concerns that purchases of such products could eat into demand for traditional desktop and laptop PCs. Reflecting those challenges, Hewlett Packard Co., which is the world’s biggest PC maker but has lost popularity with Chinese consumers, in 2011 said it is considering a sale or spinoff of its personal-computer business. “The center of gravity of the PC industry has shifted away from the developed world,” said David Wolf, chief executive of Wolf Group Asia, a Beijing-based marketing-
strategy firm. PC shipments to China came to 18.5 million units in the second quarter, exceeding the 17.7 million shipped to the U.S. The market-research firm still expects the U.S. to receive slightly more PC shipments than China for the year as a whole as sales in the U.S. usually surge during the year-end holiday season. But IDC expects China’s PC shipments to reach 85.1 million units for all of next year, compared with 76.6 million for the U.S. Growth in China’s computer market is likely to lead foreign PC makers to continue increasing their investments in the country and this development has been a blessing to the African computer market, as the Chinese influx are now cheaper than the previous imports. Gartner analysts said that while PCs remain important to consumers and businesses, purchases can be easily delayed, especially when there are complementary devices that are seen to be more attractive. “Media tablets have dramatically changed the dynamix of the PC market and HP’s decision to rethink its PC strategy simply highlights the pressure that PC vendors are under to adapt to the new dynamix or abandon the market,” said George Shiffler, research director at Gartner in a statement issued by the group. “Vendors’ tried and true business models are failing as traditional PC functionality is extended to other devices and users continue to lengthen PC lifetimes. Vendors only seem to be flailing as they look for quick fixes to their problems. Unfortunately, the resulting chaos is just creating more confusion across the entire PC supply chain, impacting sell-in.”
Seeking a break from work
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
Olumo rock Abeokuta
f you are planning a getaway there are over 100 known tourist destinations in the country, however obstacles like the lack of infrastructure and hotel lodging could easily take the pleasure out of the experience. But there are numerous holiday resorts with suitable facilities to ensure that you,your colleagues and your family have a refreshing and perhaps even an exhilirating experience. We drew up a list of some of the places you would easily fall in love with:
around the Gaji River: Baboons, Waterbucks, Elephants, Crocodiles, Bushbucks, Duikers, Warthogs, Hippopotamus are among the animals commonly seen at the park. The Wikki Warm Springs is a famous attraction in the Yankari National Park. It is particularly prized for its warm water. It is available both night and day for tourists who cherish swimming. The National Park is located in the South-Eastern area of Bauchi, the capital town of Bauchi State in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria.
for picnics as the green vegetation surrounding the falls are delightful. Silicon Hill If breath taking sceneries tickle your fancy this is another place for you. It is located near the Nkpologu campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). The hill is more than 300 metres above sea level and almost half a kilometre. The hill is set in the midst of beautiful hills, valleys and plains and it all makes for an aweinspiring blend.
Azumini Blue River Rose Azurnini Blue River is located in Abia State in the environs of its boundary with Akwa Ibom State. The tranquillity of this place has drawn tourists far and wide to the river. The crystal-clear blue water; canoe rides; sandy beaches, and the relaxation facilities and furniture. At the beach also, BBQ grill are delicacies provided for picnickers.
Obudu Cattle Ranch Obudu Cattle Ranch is located in Cross River State in the environs of the NigeriaCameroon border in the South-East. The Ranch is over 1,524m, has a lot of green vegetation and grazing of cattle round the year thanks to our temperate climate. The Ranch features a natural swimming pool, horse riding, beautiful waterfall to behold, gorilla camp, bird watching, sporting facilities and accommodation.
Oguta Lake Holiday Complex The holiday complex is located in Oguta local government Area of Imo State about 40km away from Owerri, Imo State. Oguta is a fresh water lake and it is the second largest natural lake in the country next to lake Chad. The attractions include: • Golf Course with 18 standard international holes. • Relic of war (mini bunker) constructed by the defunct Biafran Navy during Civic war. • Natural confluence of Oguta Lake and Urashi River. • Cruise boat services. • Golf Club Bar House/Oguta Lake Motel for refreshment, lodging and feeding.
Yankari National Park Yankari National Park is arguably the most developed Wildlife Park in Nigeria. It has a lot of attractions and is really famous for its variety of animals on show all through the year, but the tourist-rush is usually during the dry season when the animals converge 35
Agbokim Waterfalls This is an extremely captivating sight. It is located in Cross River State lies less than 30km from Ikom a short distance away from the Nigeria-Cameroon border. It is perfect
• Mini-children recreation park Abraka River Resort, Abraka This motel is situated in the peaceful University Town of Abraka, and is perfect for people who seek to escape the noise, hustle, and stress of city life. Hence guests can swim, enjoy boat rides, water sports. They can also fish or simply bask in the warm sun, and on the exquisite sand as they watch the crystal clear Ethiope River flow by. They can also play lawn tennis, squash, and badminton on the respective courts. There is also a children’s playground. Okonni Wildlife Sanctuary The Okonni Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Benin City, Edo State and it was protected by law for conservation in August 1985, making it the first in the country to be so protected. It is jointly managed by the Edo State Government and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, (NCF). The sanctuary contains rare species like the white-throated monkey. You would also find the mona monkeys, the putty nosed quenon, the red-cangaby, chimpanzees, elephants, bush-baby, the potto buffalo, red river hog, duikers, horn bills, porcupines, etc. The Okonni Forest Reserve is the second largest in the country after the Oban Forests in Cross River State. Ososo Tourist Centre Ososo town, on the boundary between Edo and Kogi States, is hilly and rocky. This beautiful scenery of rocks and hills lies about 40 kilometres from Igarra and 200 kilometres from Benin city in Edo State. There is a non-catering Rest House on top of a hill at Ososo, from which you would enjoy a wide view of parts of Kogi State all the way to Niger as well as a crater lake with colourful fishes. An amusement park is also being developed. Ezeagu Tourist Complex The Ezeagu Tourist Complex is half-hour drive from the capital of Enugu State. The 22 hectares complex is the home of some of the wonders of nature: a lake, a cave and a waterfall (spring water) and the almost 5 kilometres long and multi-compartment Obinofia cave. Some of these tunnels within are interconnected, often opening into large chambers which are two to three metres high and up to ten metres wide. The environs is a marriage of various land forms with unique weather condition and exotic vegetation. Confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue: 36
Yankari National Park
Until John and Richard Landers passed through the Confluence of the Rivers Niger and Benue on October 25th 1830,the River Niger remained a great marvel to the Europeans. The duos trip completed the journey that Mungo Park had started. Rivers Niger and Benue are the two largest rivers in West Africa. The two rivers meet at Lokoja forming a Y that drains southwards into the Atlantic Ocean. River Niger is brownish in Colour, but River Benue is light green. There is extensive fishing in these rivers. There are ferry runs and boat services on the rivers provided by the Inland Water Ways Divisions of the Federal Ministry of Transport. Owu Waterfalls The Owu Waterfall is a delight and it is at Owa Kajola, lfelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State. It is about 120m above water level. The water is ice cold and the area is supremely green and beautiful. Pategi Beach Pategi Kwara State is located along River Niger and enjoys a bounteous stretch of sandy beach where the local fishermen fish. There is the Regatta pavilion on the beach as well as the regatta complex, making the Pategi beach a great holiday resort. Maiyegun Beach The beach is situated within the Maiyegun Tourism Zone of Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State. The Beach is a popular relaxation spot. The beach hosts musical concerts. The project to develop the 9000 square hectares of land around the beach is being completed and we would have a modern resort of international standard on our hands. Zuma Rock This beautiful, giant rock is located along
Kaduna Abuja highway, Niger State. The rock was used for defensive purposes by the Gwari natives against invading neighbouring tribes during the inter tribal wars. The myth is that the rock possesses certain powers which rendered enemies powerless as well as provided the natives with a good hiding place. As one approaches the rock, a human like face becomes visible on the side of the rock that faces Abuja road, with engravings representing the sockets, the nose and the mouth. Zuma rock is about 107 km from Minna and represents a beautiful and unique natural work of rock formation. The surrounding landscape is fantastic for pinics and lounging. Gurara Waterfalls The Gurara falls is a wonder and has been described as Nigeria’s Premier falls. It is located at kilometre 76 along Minna Suleja roads. From Suleja to the junction is about 45 kms while from the junction to the falls is about 2 kms. Olumo Rock (Tourist Centre) Abeokuta Olumo Rock is the source of the name of the capital of Ogun State; Abeokuta. ‘Abeokuta’ is Yoruba language for ‘under the rock’. Abeokuta is in the South West of the Republic of Nigeria and is 100 kilometres from Lagos. To the North some 70 kilometres away is the city of Ibadan the capital of Oyo State. The climate is hot and humid with an annual rainfall of 47 inches. The Rock is sacred to the Egbas of Abeokuta because it was the place where they found refuge from their attackers in the days of internecine wars. By l830, the main body of the Egbas had already settled at the site of the Olumo and the refuge provided by the rock marked the end of their wonderings and struggles for existence. From that time onwards they have regarded Olumo Rock as their protection shrine and they also made annual sacrifice to its deity. Olumo Rock is a massive outcrop of granite rocks of primitive formation. The importance of Olumo Rock to the Egba people is conveyed in the declaration that Abeokuta exists in that location because of the Olumo rock, just like Egypt exists because of the River Nile. To the Egbas, Olumo Rock stands not only as a monument of faith and unity but also a source of strength and unfailing protection and sustenance from the supreme being who led their ancestors through the perplexities of life safely to Abeokuta. Hence the interpretation of Olumo meaning “Oluwa fi mo” “God has put and end to our wanderings.” Olumo Rock is located off www.myfinancialintelligence.com
Alatise between Ikija and Ikereku neighbourhoods of the town. The highest point of Olumo is about 137 metres above sea levels. Looking from the top one would appreciate how it was such a perfect bulwark against external invasion. The Olumo iss rock is naturally surrounded by caves. One of which is about twenty feet long and twenty five feet wide. There are slabs like stones which appear to serve as seats used by the ancient dwellers. It was probably used as a hall of conference room. Another cave, some twenty metres long and seventy metres wide appears to be actual dwelling place. It has five built in rooms with a long corridor used as sitting room, kitchen and store. At the east end of it is another bug cave with mud walls in outer and inner chambers. This is used as a shrine by the devotees of Orise Igun (God of Longevity). The rock receives a throng of tourists and the area has been developed and made more accessible for their delight. In addition there are private owned lodgings situated in the area for holiday makers. Ikogosi Warm & Cold Spring Ikogosi warm spring is about fifty-five kilometres away from Akure, the state capital of Ondo State but it is actually located in Ekiti West Local Government Area. The warm spring rolls down over a hilly landscape while the cold spring rises from another hill. Both springs meet at a confluence and together they form a continuous stream. The whole landscape is green with fascinating vegetation. The immediate surroundings of the springs is framed by tall evergreen trees, and these form a lovely canopy under which visitors lounge. The vegetation also ensures that there is no erosion. The spring is said to have some therapeutic effect on certain diseases like rheumatism and guinea worm. The undulating topography is the jewel of the people of Ikogosi. For the warm spring, the most plausible scientific explanation is that the deeper a 37
body of water goes underground, the hotter it becomes and if by chance it is forced back to the surface through some earth force, the temperature becomes relatively high. There are well furnished chalets as well as facilities for conference, seminars and catering services. There is also a Zoological Garden being completed as well as an enlarged swimming pool, tennis courts, table tennis and a golf course on the way. The rehabilitation of all the access roads would make the town even more attractive to tourists and fun seekers. Jos Wildlife Park Jos Wild Life Park is said to be the most developed man made Wildlife park in Nigeria. It covers 8 square kilometers of land enclosing; hills, streams and varied vegetation with picnic sites. Its fauna collection includes lions, buffalos, pigmy hippos, horses, birds. It also boasts of crocodiles, pytons and other reptiles. There is a restaurant, a play ground, a picnic pine forest, a wildlife museum and a video viewing centre. The park is located on Miango Road, 4 kilometres off Yakubu Gowon way, Jos Plateau State. Assop Falls It is located 61 kilometres from Jos Akwanga road in Barkin Ladi Local Government Areaof Plateau State . It attracts a lot of visitors especially during the weekends, most of whom seek it as a picnic resort because of the beautiful rocks and trees there. There is an overlooking viewpoint of the falls which is also a frequent location for television soap
operas, films and various commercial productions like T.V adverts, photographs sessions for calendars, post cards, posters etc. Visitors go swimming rock climbing and picnicking. There also thatched huts for lounging and a bar. Wase Rock This is Located in the outskirts of Wase town about 216 kilometres South-East of Jos. It is recorded as one of the only 5 dome shaped rocky inselberg in the world. It is also recorded as one of the very few breeding places for white pelican birds in Africa. It is beautiful and massive; it rises abruptly to 350 metres above the plain of Wase town and is a major attraction for curious geographers, geologists, mountaineers, bird watchers and of course holiday makers. Port Harcourt Tourist Beach This is located on an artificial sand beach along Kolabi Creek, and is one of the waterfront tourist resorts in Port Harcourt the Capital City of Rivers State. There are lodgings, visitor chalets, restaurants, a conference hall, recreational equipment, and sun bathing sites. The beach is also known for its ensemble of cultural entertainers to the delight of holiday makers. Gashaka/Gumpti Game Reserve: This is reported to be the largest and richest reserve in the South of the Sahara. It contains various Flora and Fauna and it flaunts a variety of bird viewing possibilities. Gashaka/Gumpti Game Reserve is in Taraba State.
Wase rock www.myfinancialintelligence.com
The Extraordinary career of
DR. LUCY SURHYEL NEWMAN
r. (Mrs) Lucy Newman is the current MD/CEO of Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC). She is also an International Director of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). She has worked in OmegaBank, FSB, PriceWaterHouseCoopers and has covered the gamut of Investment portfolio management, Marketing, Turn around and performance improvement consulting of public and private sectors, Treasury marketing, Product development and management, Business development and Relationship management, Organisation design and development in private and public sectors, Strategy conceptualisation, Deployment and monitoring, Pre/post mergers and acquisition integration amongst other things. She has a doctorate degree in Business Administration (leadership and performance) from the University of Phoenix, Arizona, an MBA (International Business) and a B.Sc. in Business Administration (Financial Management) from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. She is also a graduate of the Centre of Leadership Colorado Springs, an associate of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPMN), a member of the 40
Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), a member of the Society For Human Resources Management (SHRM) USA, a member of the Product Development & Management Association (PDMA), USA, a member and a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) USA, a certified Practitioner of the Thomas International Psychometric Assessment System, The Persona Global System, a member of the Development Executive Group of Washington DC, USA, a wife to Mr Ikechi Okechukwu Newman and a mother of children aged between 23 and 9 years. She has also served on a profuse number of committees with numerous ad hoc responsibilities. She has published several articles and books on Human Resources including: ‘Emerging HR Landmine: Critical Concerns for CEOs’, ‘The CEOs’ Dual Dilemma: Governance & Sustainability In An Increasingly Dynamic Global Business Environment,’ ‘Effects of Employee Performance Management Systems on Employee Learning and Development,’ ‘The CEO’s Triple Dilemma of Compensation, Employee and Corporate Performance amongst others. The exquisite lady welcomed FinIntell into
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
her exotic office and granted us this interview on her extraordinary career. FinIntell: Who were your mentors and how did they influence your education and career? Dr. (Mrs) Lucy Surhyel Newman: My father. He taught us that we could be whatever we wanted to be. I was named Surhyel after my grandmother. She was a regent and my father taught me that as his princess, there were things I could not do. Once you were four years old you were entitled to two presents; a piggy bank and a pet. A piggy bank: this was actually a small wooden box. It was sealed and it had a slit at the top of it. This is where you saved any money you got. If you did something good and someone gave you some change, you would put it in there. If you had some extra pocket money, you would put it in there. So that whenever you requested for something from him, Dad would ask you to bring out your piggy bank and see how much you have saved; whether or not you can afford the item. If you have saved enough, you would go out and get it and Dad would give you some of the money back. But usually when www.myfinancialintelligence.com
we bring out the piggy bank, it would dawn on us how much sacrifice we had made to save all that money and the real cost of the item we want to buy would come to light. Most of the time, we didn’t think the object of our fancy was worth all our savings so we usually let it go and kept our money. Dad can then spring a surprise and buy the item!! How we then cherished that, knowing its cost and what we would have spent to get it. A pet: My mum didn’t like cats so it was usually a dog or a bird. Once you get your pet, you and only you were responsible for it, come rain or shine. You must keep it cleaned, fed and catered for. One time, my dog, Bingo died and so the guard and I took the remains of the dog to the refuse dump. When we got back my Dad said: ‘You mean you left Bingo at the dump? You would go back there and give him a proper burial!’ So we went to fetch Bingo, dug up a pit, said a prayer for him and buried him. I experienced my first burial ceremony at age 7 for my loved dog Bingo. My father knew that if you learnt to save, you would understand the true value of money. He knew that if you learnt how to take care of somebody other than yourself, then you would have learnt responsibility. He knew that if we imbibed these two things we would be grounded for life. Another thing was hard work. There was nothing like a ‘boy’s job’ or a ‘girl’s job’. We had a roster for the dish washing. My brothers can cook and I could change the car tires before my teens. He taught us that the world was ours to be whatever we wanted to be. My French teacher. Mrs. Mbwuko When I started French classes in form I at Federal Government College, Kaduna, I taught it was unfair to be asked to study a strange language. When the results came out French was the only red ink mark on my otherwise blued inked report card. I had aced everything else and got an F in French. I was very distraught about it. Mrs. Mbwuko called me over and she broke it down for me. She laid down the principles of the language for me. She said “Once you get the principles and vowels, pronouns and tenses right that is it”. And that was it. I was the highest scoring student from then onwards. In fact I considered studying French at the university and she was very excited about that. The touching thing was that she took particular interest in me and reached out to me. From her I learnt that once I understood the principles and applied myself to get it right there was nothing in life that I could not achieve. 41
Dr. (Mrs) Joan Nwasike. She was my supervisor for both my undergraduate and post graduate projects. She reached out and connected with me. She was Caribbean and was married to a Nigerian. Through her I learnt what it was like to be a wife and a mother in a land far away from home and still make a mark. She broadened my horizon and built on what my father had taught me; that the whole world was at my feet. She took out time to see that I did fine in my undergraduate and post graduate thesis at ABU. When her husband Professor Nwasike passed away, she went back to her country. I spoke about her in a questionnaire for a publication some time ago and someone saw a copy of that publication and called her attention to it. She got my details and made contact. We communicate now, it is so wonderful. She made such a major impression on me. She said she is proud of me. Her kids are all grown up and she is working as a leader with a multinational organisation now. Mrs. Tolu Peters. She was the Head of Human Resources (HR) at FSB International Bank Plc now Fidelity Bank Plc, after FSB she became the HR Account Manager to the World Bank Group. She is now with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I was the Manager, Marketing and Business Development/ Head Product Development & Special Projects at FSB International Bank Plc and a new staff assessment showed that my profile was HR, Strategy and Corporate Affairs. As a result, I was going to be moved to that department of the bank and the thought of leaving my colleagues and the classy treasury office for a cramped office space was hurting, so I took a casual leave for a few days. The list of ‘sudden’ casual leave seekers is usually sent to her so she got my name and when I resumed she sent for me. She took me to lunch at the staff canteen (to my chagrin; because everyone was watching). When we got back to her office she made
eventually got to study Business Administration with the aim to switch over to Accounting in my second year but I chose to stay with Business Administration. I have not looked back since then. Man proposes but God disposes. I am very grateful to God for everything He has achieved through me on this journey and I am thankful for the journey itself. That is just that. FinIntell: That suggests that you are artistic. Do you draw and paint as well? Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman: Yes I do, especially landscapes. I hardly have the time to indulge myself these days. But my children inherited it. In fact one of them wants to start a comic book. I am glad they inherited that from me. When work began on our new office building, I was very involved with the design and concept. Our builders said we were the best client they ever had because I worked with them all through the entire creative process. I also enjoyed the process
me open up to her and then she made me write a resumé of my past career achievements. When I brought my resumé to her the following day and we went through it, it turned out that my achievements were ‘HR and training’ achievements even though I was in the Treasury Marketing and Business Development, and Product Development & Special Projects. She opened my eyes to see what HR Development was really about. She showed me that I was actually cut out for it. Shortly after that, there was an opening for Head, HR Development. I did not apply at first but she called me and made me do it. After the review of candidates, she called me to her office again to say that I ranked the highest amongst the contenders. However she made it clear that another candidate was right at my heels. This time she took me out to Doublefour restuarant on Awolowo Way, Ikoyi, Lagos and shared her vision for HR with me. She gave me a book gift. It was a book which explained the HR vision that she had. The book was titled: ‘Straight from the gut’ by Jack Welch. She put the vision in me and it became my vision; to live by and to defend. She is a marvellous lady. She also put me on my toes; she made it clear that if I messed up she would not hesitate to replace me. She challenged me. But most impor42
tantly, she believed in me. I know that she was busy, yet she remembered every conversation and treated each one of us at FSB individually. With my new position I moved into a beautiful office on Milverton Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos. The property reflected her vision for the Bank as “Croton Ville”; just as it was expressed in the book it was beautiful and it had a garden. I fought to keep that property in the bank’s possession after the merger, and succeeded. Then I moved on for another appointment. Many entrepreneurs and team leaders fail to communicate their vision to their team members. She gave us a clear cut vision and she gave us autonomy. After Mrs. Tolu Peters left I became the defender of that vision. It was not just hers; it was mine as well as that of FSB, now Fidelity. FinIntell: Looking back at ‘the road not taken’ you intended to study architecture, do you fantasise about it? Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman: Remember I actually wanted to study French at first, but I was also very good in Technical Drawing, so I opted for architecture at Ahmadu Bello University. So my first choice was architecture and my second choice was accounting and my matriculation scores were quite high but somehow, I was not granted admission for either. I
FinIntell: What has happened since your resumption as the MD/CEO of FITC? Also, could you also tell us about the 30th anniversary and the next level? Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman: When I took over from Dr. Oladimeji Alo and the various leaders of FITC from inception for the Board, I inherited a very stable organisation. FITC started at the same time with several other organisations. Many of them are gone now. I give credit to Dr. Alo for setting FITC up for a great future. At the time of my resumption as Managing Director, I learnt that a search for the right person had been on for years. This is very humbling for me and it made me resolute in my quest to take FITC further. We have done just that and we have several awards to show for it. The crown however, is the Gold Category we won recently. It is the Gold Category for service quality. It is based on outcome of nominations by clients and due diligence. The 38th Annual International Arch of Europe Convention will take place on the 29th of April, 2012 in Germany at the Intercontinental Frankfurt Convection Hall. Seventy -two countries would be represented there for the Arch of Europe Award. They use the criteria of the QC100 quality model which is implemented in over 100 countries and this one is sponsored by ImarPress with 26 publications. Nominations are confidential so we cannot say for sure who nominated us. FinIntell: What is FITC’s focus as it rises to the next level in the business support sector? Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman: Here at FITC our mission is to be the best; the highest quality. Our mission statement is: www.myfinancialintelligence.com
“To provide best in class service quality and value to our stakeholders.” Our vision is: “To be the preferred provider of training, consulting and research services to the Financial Services Sector in West Africa by 2016”. Our core values (A-S-T-E-P): Accountability, Service, Teamwork, Ethics, and Professionalism. I inherited fantastic staff; they all run with the vision. Many leaders have to deal with staff who seek instant gratification, but the staff here are wonderful. They are dedicated and are definitely not self seeking or covetous in any way. Over time, we see the records coming in and it gratifies. My predecessor made it easy. I know there are leaders who assume office and find that they have inherited a ravaged organisation, but I was very fortunate. FITC was doing well when I came in and it is doing even better now. God willing, it will be much better when I leave. Our staff turnover has reduced even further. Only a couple of people have left in the past few years, and it was due to circumstances completely out their control. I have a family to work with and that makes it so much easier to meet our goals. The culture we now have is so tangible. FinIntell: Could you tell us about your new role as the International Director of the International Society of Performance improvement (ISPI)? Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman: I learnt about the organisation in the course of my research and I joined them in 2004. I learnt useful work processes and imbibed them. The mission of the society is to identify and develop the proficiency of its members and advocate the use of Hu43
man Performance Technology. The society provides excellent learning and growth opportunities and the research tools they equipped me with made a difference in my work at FSB, Fidelity, PricewaterhouseCoopers [PWC] and here at FITC. I kept my work and reports in line with the ISPI standard from then on. So much so, that when they requested for a few case studies for my certification I had more than enough. I became a certified member in 2008 and recertified in 2011. Once upon a time I sent them a plan for ISPI in West Africa. The response I got was that they thought it was a beautiful plan, but West Africa was not on their mind at that time. That did not go down very well with me and I sent them a response; expressing my position on the matter. I felt that if they
claimed that they were ‘international’ they should act ‘international’. Time passed and I remained a member, but held my peace. So for the 2012 election results to reveal that I, the African had been elected as the International Director of the Global ISPI Board you can begin to comprehend the turn around that had taken place. I am not just the first African (Black or White African), I am the first (male or female) on the board who is not European, Canadian or from the USA. In fact, Africans make up a very small fraction of the members of ISPI and that means that it was the votes from representatives of continents other than Africa that brought me in as the international director, and that really humbles me. Of course ISPI has a stronger presence in Africa now!
FITC Headquarters www.myfinancialintelligence.com
FinIntell: How do you maintain a worklife balance? Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman: It is a continuous process of knowing and doing what is important for the time. This is how I handle it. In my subconscious I have buckets assigned to the various aspects of my life and I take from each bucket every day ensuring that I go round all the buckets. I wrap my work around my entire life. I leave the office around 6pm daily. I pack up my unfinished work and take it home with me. I make sure that I never get home after my kids have gone to bed. I ensure that I am a part of their lives. I help with their homework and they tell me how their day went. I spend time with them. When I finish with the kids, my husband and the other house matters, I settle down at my desk at home and finish my work. Having a family is not an excuse to let yourself fallow. Self improvement should never end even, if you have a family to care for, because if you sit at home and do nothing but have babies and cater to your husband alone while he goes to take courses and improve himself, one day that husband would look at you and say: You are not my friend anymore. I cannot talk to you anymore. Simply because, both of you are no longer on the same level. He has changed as he progressed and you have changed as you regressed. Keeping up with the pace would ensure that both of you can continue to have those 4 hour conversations you had while courting. My husband and I are supportive of each other and we criticise each other strictly because each of us wants the other to be the very best he/she can be. Yes there are times when I have to travel and we try to ensure that both of us are not away at the same time. If we can’t help but be away at the same time, then we get someone really reliable to stay with the kids. We ensure that we spend time together as a couple, you cannot focus on the work and the kids and forget your spouse; whether you are male or female. It is important to dedicate time for each other. For instance if we are both going away on business trips and our destinations are within the same proximity, then we would arrange 44
to meet and use it as a getaway. Another important thing is to spend time on yourself. Too many women sacrifice all their time and money on everyone else except themselves. I attend these conferences and even there the women learn about maintaining a balance and it starts from within. You must have a ‘bucket’ for every aspect of your life including she-time and she-money. “She-time” is time you spend alone doing something you fancy even if it is just lounging or taking a walk. “She-money” is money that you spend on yourself; whether at the spa, beauty salon or shopping. You must take it very seriously to maintain an inner vibrancy that many women loose after they start having babies. At one of the conferences, a lady told us she actually saves money for a solo holiday every year. She would travel, lodge in a hotel and spend her time enjoying the scene and lounging. She put “she-money” aside every year for the flights, hotels, and everything. Once you have all your “buckets” in front of you and you know which you have and have not taken from yet, you would always maintain a balance. Keep the “buckets” balanced – don’t let anyone fall over and your life would be balanced. FinIntell: What challenges have you overcome so far; being a female professional in a male dominated environment? Dr. Lucy Surhyel Newman: You are a woman in the eyes of men in four ways: As a wife, an elder sister, a senior colleague and a junior colleague. Our African inclinations make it easier for the malefemale disparity so you need to help these men to help you. That means you need to help them ‘forget’ that you are a woman. You must keep your feminine wiles away from them and meet them with your mind. You relate with them from your ‘head’ alone. I would recommend a book titled ‘Climbing the Ladder’. At the time I got the book, the image on the cover showed the title being written with lipstick. The book is about women making progress in the corporate world. When you are relating with a male
teammate, you must do it from your head – be professional always. When you are relating with your male boss look at the best performing male colleagues you have and relate with your boss on that level; step up your game and don’t expect favours because you are female. Desist from feminine blackmail. I would say this about unwanted sexual advances in the offices: Bear in mind that men by their nature are moved by what they see, so don’t give them things to look at; don’t get their imaginations working. It doesn’t stop you from being yourself. I have experienced it only once in my career and this is what I say: come out clean about the situation. Many women pretend they do not notice what is going on. The man would simply interpret your playing dumb as playing hard to get. He would only increase the pressure. I would say; call him out. Yes, call him aside and speak to him with the concern you would have when speaking to your ten year old son. You would say: ‘I sense that this is what you are communicating to me and this is what you are doing. Please am I getting the right message?’ Like a mother would; gently explain why it is wrong. He would appreciate your forthrightness. Once the issue is closed with him, simply let it go and do not tell a soul. You would earn his respect and that man would turn around to be your defender in the office. He would be the one saying: Leave my sister alone! If you dare snitch about it behind his back, he would get on the attack and you would be the one to lose out. There are times when you would use your female skills to cool tempers down; when the men are getting at each other’s throats. You are a woman after all, and if a man reaches out to steady you from falling, accept. But that is as far as it goes. A woman on a team should carry her own weight in line with the role nature has given her at home and at work or in society; our bodies might be weaker but our brains are equal. At home, submit. At work, step up and lead effectively irrespective of your gender. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
Buying The Right CAR
ou should not purchase a car on a whim. Have ever gone to the phone shop, purchased a mobile phone that appealed to you, only to get home and find that it did not meet your needs? Now imagine it was a major purchase like a car. Mr. Ufuoma Umukoro, Divisional General Manager, Coscharis Motors Ltd, had this to say about the considerations you should have at the back of your mind when you walk into a car dealer’s show room. “Identify what you like and what you dislike about your current car. With that you would know the things you want to see in your new car and the things you don’t want to see.” He said: “Another factor is the purpose of the car. What do you need this car for? It could be practical, it could be luxury, it could be leisure and fun, or it could be utility. Knowing this would also help you determine the kind of car to go for in the market. For instance if it is a practical car you need and you live in a flood-prone location, you would be very dissatisfied if you got a saloon car because when the rains and mud come around you would ask yourself; What did I do? You need to evaluate what you want to use the car for, where you want to use the car and what function the car would be serving. With that you can define the philosophy of what you want to do.” The truth is that people find it hard being rational about their choice of cars but we all 46
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
have? What do you dislike about your current car (s)? What do you like in cars generally? Do you like speed? Do you like space?
have to face the reality of our specific needs. Mr. Duke Epkeyong, Group General Manager Sales, Coscharis Motors Ltd agrees saying that the purpose you require the car for is a major consideration “But there are certain things that override some of this. The emotional factor is critical so is the environment; the terrain. A lot of people have decided to go for the SUV, not because they love it but because of our roads, because of floods, or the sand. These are factors that actually drive you. Someone came here the other day and said that he was in love with the Jaguar SG. You know; highly beautiful car: functional, luxurious, but he says he can’t buy it. I asked why and he says he stays in Park View and that the flood in that place is unthinkable and he can’t think of putting a Jaguar there. So even though he had fallen in love with that car and really thought that it was something he loves; he really had to step back because of those considerations.” How much ‘emotional flow’ can we permit to ensure that we buy the right car? Umukoro says: “A purchase is always 65% emotions and 45% rationality. Emotions must and will come to play, because at the end of the day you must like your car. The reason for buying a car is for land transportation and any car would do that for you but you also want your car to reflect your personality and style and people tend to connect with different luxury brands. It is 65:45 that is the way it has always been and that is the
way it is always going to be. So several factors influence every purchase and what we strive for is to ensure that what you buy fits the idea you have at the back of your mind so that there is no post-purchase dissonance. The romance with your car could outlast your relationship with your girl friend or boyfriend. So other than your marriage, it is your longest relationship and you want to look out of the window every morning to see a car that pleases you. Especially considering the amount of money you have spent on it. If it is the wrong car you are going to be stuck with it for a very long time. It is like being married to the wrong person. In addition to that, Epkeyong had this to say: “Take for instance a young man has been saving for his first car and desires a particular brand which he learnt would cost N1m but after saving up the money he finds that the car actually costs N1.4m. he has two options: To go back and continue saving or to find another brand that falls within his budget. If he is going for the second option, he still has to find a car that he can love even though it was not his dream car because he would be using that car for a long time.” According to Epkeyong, these are the question you should ask yourself before you buy your next car. They are the questions he would be ask customers. “What do want to do with the car? What other cars do you have? Why do you not want to buy an upgraded version of what you currently www.myfinancialintelligence.com
These are some of the initial questions you would ask the customer to help guide the customer,” he said. So is there such a thing as an ‘all round’ car? Every car has an element of every function in it. But each car leans towards certain functions more than certain other functions. There is no car that can be tagged as ‘allround’ and there is no car that can be tagged as strictly for one use alone. So if you seek an all-round car for every purpose, you would find that every car is an all-round car depending on what your needs are. Umukoro said: “The truth of the matter is that even the luxury cars can be practical even though they are high maintenance. People also drive sports cars for pleasure. What you set out to do defines what you would buy. So if you stay in a sandy area and you might need a functional but luxurious car. You should get a 4X4, if you went out to get a saloon car, you will be disappointed. Every buying decision carries all the other factors at various degrees. There is no purchase that is strictly for one use. It is always about how much one factor would influence you and how heavily you would want the properties of the car lean on certain attributes.” However, if you are buying the car as a gift , it is another matter. “Those cases are easier. We have cases of men buying cars for spouses and girlfriends and the lady has little or no input in the purchase. A lot of times it is about; ‘this is an expensive car and I want to impress”, he said. “Buying a car for a political associate would require looking at the person’s fleet of cars to discover what the person leans to-
wards so you can get an upgraded version or you can find out what he doesn’t have yet so you can get that for him. Perhaps you would be looking at the top echelon of vehicles to get for him. You also want to look at the trend; what are people of the same class are riding. Also since you are trying to make an impression you would also be looking at how you want him to regard you via the calibre of your gift.” As for buying vehicles for staff he said: “Even when companies buy vehicles for staff, they need to bear in mind that there are different categories of staff. So the considerations for the managers are different from the considerations for the sales executives. If it is for the sales executives, then you would be looking at durability, ruggedness, strength, and low maintenance costs. For the top level managers you would be looking at the company’s image; making the right impression. When people see the kind of vehicles your top level staff ride in, it makes a statement.” Nigerians have been labelled as people who love to show off and they would buy a car just for that. Umukoro disagrees saying; “I doubt that. I think it is about style. People express their style with the cars they buy. Just like the clothes they wear.” There is huge thirst for used cars and this is what Umukoro had to say. “People do things and you wonder why. We really need to ask ourselves as a people: ‘What are our values?’ is it: used, used, used? ‘Used’ to me is a walk in the dark. You have no service history. You don’t know how or where the car was used. You don’t know if it is a bio-hazard car that was sold out because it was beginning to get toxic; the interior plastics were is integrating. You don’t know whether you are assimilating cancer, you don’t know what you are doing. If it is working for you and you are still alive then you can continue but is a negative mentality.
There is nothing like buying a new product, no matter how you look at it. ‘Used’ in its best state is only second best. Why settle for second when the first is available? You want silver instead of gold? Why? It beats me.” As for importing your car yourself, he said: “I suppose it makes them happy to do that. But why would you go through all that trouble to buy a car that was built for another country; not the country you intend to use it in? If you buy a car that is made for the US for instance you would have problems with the fuel because the US uses unleaded fuel, but we use leaded fuel; In the US,they use fuel grade of RON 95 and above, here we use RON 88. There are so many differences that you start to experience immediate discomfort. It is inferiority complex that makes people think a car brought in from the US (yourself) is better than the one bought here; both cars were made by the same company in the same place. It is one of things that people do that makes you wonder. You try to change people’s perception and help them see but if they insist on importing the cars themselves they would do just that. But how would you import a car from the US and ask for a warranty in Nigeria? The belief is that it is cheaper, because they don’t pay duties like a company would. However when you take away all the benefits, it is really; penny wise, pound foolish.” The duo of Epkeyong and Umukoro have seen just about every snazzy automobile in this hemisphere so what is their favourite ‘wheels on steel’? Epkeyong: Laughs “My personal favourite is actually the Discovery 4 Landrover” Umukoro: “Discovery 4. It’s my dream car.” Is there any particular reason? Epkeyong and Umukoro: “100% emotional”.
Oil Marketers vs House Of Reps: Another Charade?
hen the presidential pronounced that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), acting on a directive by Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was going after the NNPC and the PPPRA as well as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and had taken away many volumes official documents relating to the controversial N1.34trillion fuel subsidy payments as well as other transactions undertaken by the agencies, most Nigerians took it with a pinch of salt. Mrs. Alison-Madueke who is said to be instrumental to the abrupt removal of the fuel subsidy on local consumption on January 1, 2012 and was still under fire from the public as several people were still calling for her resignation at the time. On top of that the outrage caused by the release of a gallery of photographs exposing the ‘extravagant’ lifestyle her son was still at its peak and the young man’s seemingly scripted press statement in response to the ‘exposé’ did not do much good. Mrs. Alison-Madueke constituted two committees in her office headed by an independent auditor to review the KPMG and other audit reports on the NNPC and other parastatals in the ministry. The committee was also charged with reviewing the management and controls within those parastatals. The timing of it all gave it a suspicious air and more than a few Nigerians considered it a mere show. Executive Director of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), David Ugolor, spoke to the press at the time and he said: “I find this absurd and cannot understand what is happening in this country anymore,” “It is an irony that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, whose ministry is accused of corruption is the same person 49
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
setting up the probe into her ministry. What will come out of such a probe?” He said: “The Minister is trying to be a judge in her own case. Nigerians cannot be fooled by this charade. It is in her interest for her to step aside for an independent body to look into the books she supervised. Our view is against the backdrop of allegations by the National Assembly that the Petroleum Ministry paid out more billions of Naira on PMS subsidy than was approved for it in the 2011 budget.” So instead of curbing the bad press she was getting Mrs. Allison-Madueke’s ‘efforts’ appeared orchestrated and worsen the situation for her. Also bear in mind that the ‘reason’ the fuel subsidy was removed in the first place was that the country was getting too ‘’broke’ to afford it. Shortly after the fuel subsidy strike was ‘suspended’ Nigerians were slapped in the face with reports that their country’s ambassadors got N4.8 billion for the school fees
Diezani Alison-Madueke, Petroleum Resources Minister
of their wards in 2011: A sum that was far above what was approved for that year. For 2012 slightly less than N5.2 million has been marked for the school fees of these wards, but there is no guarantee that the ministry of foreign affairs would overspend again. The latest escapades of the oil marketers and importers are yet another stab in the heart. The reports say they offered jaw dropping partnership deal to influence the members of the House of Representatives panel probing the oil subsidy matter; dangling “multi-billion naira deals” before the eyes of these members of the House of Representatives. There are 140 oil business firms in the country and a number of them are being probed by the Ad Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives on the Subsidy Regime. The grapevine says that the marketers and importers under the committee’s radar were afraid of entering the ‘x-ray room’ and offered members of the committee eye-popping deals in exchange for protection –they simply did not want to appear before the panel. The panel was inaugurated by the House of Representatives when the grapevine exploded with unpleasant stories of corruption with regards to the management of the fuel subsidy on local consumption right after it was removed by President Goodluck Jonathan on January 1 this year. The removal led a nationwide protest. The committee is headed Mr. Farouk Lawan and according to the media, it is the flavour of the moment as far as these marketers and importers are concerned. Media publications are confidently stating that these marketers and importers are using members of the National Assembly who are mutual friends between themselves and the committee members as middlemen to broker www.myfinancialintelligence.com
the deals. Mr. Lawan is claimed to have admitted that members of his committee were under “pressure” to compromise their investigation and corroborated the media’s testimony that former members of the House were the agents negotiating the deals “packaged in form of partnership with oil marketers”. He is quoted thus: “They come through some of our colleagues to appeal that they should not be put under the spotlight.” As for the “pressure and overtures” Lawan explained that he was aware that there were people who were using “indirect ways” to get the panel to be lenient with them. He told the press that these marketers and importers already knew their efforts were futile from the start “They knew our stance that members of the committee were not approachable; they did not have the courage to come to us directly,” However Lawan would not agree that the offers were a bribe. He said: “I have never used the word bribe, but I can say that there were overtures,” He said no committee member received any bribe and that the ‘difficult questions’ most of these importers are marketers were asked by the panel testified to that. Nigerians had woken up on Wednesday February 15 to read news reports of how a member of the panel (unnamed) had squealed. The lawmaker is quoted in the media thus: “I can tell you that a number of them (marketers) tried to reach us; they made business proposals, including offers to become partners in their operations.” “But, it was a useless gamble because this investigation is one exercise that the committee members resolved never to toy with.” “The entire House and Nigerians expect so much from our findings.” The lawmaker also refused to tag these offers as ‘bribery’ and insisted that no ‘bribe’ was offered during the period of the fourweek public hearing. Eucheria Azodo, another member of the committee for her own part was quoted thus: “There was no offer of bribery to the best of my knowledge”. But the admission by Lawan of the existence of “pressures and overtures” has already summed it up for Nigerians and naturally the speculations have hit the roof. But what really kindled the rage of Nigerians once again was the revelation that the committee had resolved not to investigate the one million worth of excess barrels of crude oil allegedly supplied to Liberia by the 50
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in 2009. As for the barrels of crude, the audit report before the panel which was prepared by the Office of the Auditor-General of Liberia indicates that Liberia sort a transaction of 10, 000 barrels of crude but were given 1,000, 000 barrels by the NNPC. On Thursday, February 9 2012 the matter was brought to the table by Mr. Abiodun Faleke, a member of the panel. The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Austin Oniwon completely denied any knowledge of the transaction and said he would go back and investigate it. In the end the panel simply let it slide saying it was not part of their mandate. They believe that their mandate is to ‘investigate the fuel subsidy regime and how the funds voted for the subsidy had been managed’ and that mandate did not include how the fuel that was being subsidised was managed. Another (unnamed) member of the committee spoke to the press saying: “The truth is that there are many rotten areas in our oil and gas industry.” “Each of these areas will require a separate investigation to thoroughly examine it and punish the culprits.” “The issue of crude oil sales, like the one involving Liberia, is one of them; the level of corruption is intimidating.” “At best, the committee will recommend to the House to set up a separate inquiry on
Farouk Lawan, Head, Committee of House of Representatives
the issue.” “If we have to look into everything that came before the committee, we may never conclude the assignment in the next one year.” “Again, people will pick up the terms of reference of the committee and challenge you on why you decided to go into an area not covered by the terms.” “The industry, from what we have discovered, is complex; a single investigation can never address all the issues.” Lawan told the press that the best the committee could do was to mention it in its reports. They seem to be implying that a long list of committees would be required to tackle the issues emanating from the oil and gas sector alone. It has not been revealed how much is accrued to the members of the committee for their services but judging by the allowances already accrued to the members of the House of Representatives (according to reports they get 12 allowances ranging up to 200% of their salaries), vis a vis their annual pay checks (they receive approximately N2m a month) and the duty fees, loans and tour allowances reported to be running to over N5billion, plus the office running costs of each member of the House, it is doubtful that the country can afford what they imply here. Besides, there are 86 committees of the House of Representatives already. But really, isn’t a panel supposed to start a ripple effect. If it uncovers a sticky issue that is outside its ‘mandate’ shouldn’t it refer the matter to the appropriate body or make recommendations with regards to who should handle the matter before closing the file from its own end? Many believe (and with good reason) that the reason these panels hardly solve problems is because they do not dig deep enough and when they stumble on something they let it slide. The ‘problems’ in the oil and gas sector are interwoven and there is no solving one without tackling the other. The integrity of oil importers and marketers was under scrutiny during the four-week public hearing, but so was the integrity of the members of the committee, the House of Representatives from which they were chosen and the former members of the House who have become negotiators for these importers and marketers. Nigerians, many of whom live on less than $10 a week are asking: ‘So what happens next?’ www.myfinancialintelligence.com
FOREIGN SCENE BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
Senegal’s First Electoral ‘Crises’
President Abdoulaye Wade casting his vote
enegal is a West African nation that is credited as being one of the most politically stable countries on the African continent. It is said to have one of the most stable democracies. It has neither experienced a coup nor a civil war. In February, news videos showed youths having serious run-ins with the police and the anger is still rising. These election-related riots are new to Senegal. The protesters are daring, resolute and livid. Protesters have been taking to the streets and clashing with law enforcements agents. The media has reported casualties; three people were confirmed dead over the weekend of the elections and the opposition claims that two other people died before that. The tension really began to build last year when incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade tried to change the constitution in a way that it would guarantee his re-election at the polls. President Wade has been in power since 2000 after multiple unsuccessful runs and has served two terms. He was trying to guarantee a third term. Nonetheless, the country’s highest court, Constitutional Council on January 27 2012 cleared him to seek a third term and the opposition is infuriated. They say the court was compromised as the constitution is clear on the matter; a president could serve only two terms. President Wade’s argument is that he is exempted from the restriction because he took office before the term limit was put in place; a claim that back fired because he was the one who allowed the term limit back then and has no explanation for why he has suddenly changed his mind. President Wade is 85 years old and it is alleged that he has begun to groom his son to take over from him. As expected, protests ripped through the country and he was forced to back down from changing the constitution. When President Wade took office back in 2000, he was reportedly hailed as a visionary, and “built schools, roads and hospitals,” but his popularity took a nose dive as the years passed and the poverty level rose. As foor the casualties of the clashes, the leader of the June 23 Movement (M23), Amath Dansokho, reportedly put the blame at the doorsteps of police claiming that the police was responsible for some of the deaths during demonstrations in Dakar and Rufisque this February. The Grammy Award winning Senegalese musician; Youssou N’Dour is allegedly one of the forces behind the demonstrations. N’Dour stepped out to run for president but was barred by the constitutional court from running last month and that sparked massive outrage on the streets as well. The Chief observer of the European Union monitoring mission is reported to have reportedly asserted that the turnout was below 50% of the country’s eligible voters. President Wade is one of the continent’s oldest leaders, he is a French-trained lawyer and he also has a degree in economics. He is 52
running against 13 other candidates including Ousmane Tanor Dieng, Moustapha Niasse and Macky Sall, who once considered Wade a mentor, and two women. President Wade had promised to win the elections and called the other candidates “bad politicians and bad losers”. Early on Monday, February 27, 2012, media reports revealed that the polls were a close call between President Wade and Macky Sall, his former Prime Minister and protegé. President Wade later admitted that he that he had failed to get a majority vote and will have to face a runoff either on the 18th or 25th of March. He could only clinch 32% of the votes while Macky Sall got 25% of the votes. The other candidates are expected to rally around Sall for the run-off elections. President Wade seems to have let go of his previous bravado as he was more cautious to his contenders after the announcement of the results. Media reports quote him as saying: “I would like to pay homage to you, my dear compatriots, for the maturity, spirit of tolerance, and the civility that you have shown,”
Syria: The bloodshed continues
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad casting vote for the referendum
cross Syria, it is reported that 33 people were killed Monday February 27, 2012, including three defected soldiers, three women and three children. Amongst them, 22 died in the opposition stronghold city of Homs, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists. Homs is the town that veteran reporter Maria Colvin was killed by sniper fire; speculations still abound as to whether or not her death was intended by the attackers. Colvin had reported a day earlier to cable news stations that the attacks were against harmless, and vulnerable civilians. She had revealed graphic and horrific deaths of civilians including children. The government insists that the attacks were against terrorists. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group, Homs was shelled again by the government on Monday February 27, 2012; the city’s Baba Amr neighbourhood was shelled. The group said that twenty people were wounded when a large shell struck an anti-government gathering in Homs. Opposition also say that on Sunday, about half of the 55 casualties across Syria were in Homs. While the bloodshed was going on, a referendum for a draft constitution took place. The Interior Minister Mohammed alShaar announced some 89.4% of voters approved the draft conwww.myfinancialintelligence.com
FOREIGN SCENE BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
stitution, and 57.4% of eligible voters cast ballots. President Bashar al-Assad continues to insist that the referendum would usher in reform. The Syrian Red Crescent and the International Committee of the Red Cross are struggling to provide aid in the midst of the violence. The spokeswoman of the Council of the European Union, Susanne Kiefer said the council had agreed Monday, 27 February, 2012 to impose new sanctions on Syria after foreign ministers met in Brussels, Belgium. She said seven ministers of the alAssad regime will have their EU assets frozen and will also be denied entry into the EU. The assets of the Syrian Central Bank in the EU will be frozen. Legitimate trade will be allowed to continue, she said, but must be authorized first. The cargo flights operated by Syrian carriers will have no access to EU airports, although mixed flights with passengers would still be allowed to land there.
Russia Officials: Plot to kill Russian PM foiled
ussian officials claim that two suspects have been detained in the Ukrainian port of Odessa,for attempting to kill Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Russia’s state-owned Channel One TV showed both men admitting their involvement in the plot. There had been an explosion at a flat in January 2012 in which one suspect died. The Russian prime minister’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov reportedly confirmed this to the press. Reports said that the attack was supposed to hap- Russian Prime Minister pen after the presidential vote Vladimir Putin slated for March 4, 2012. Putin is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when president Boris Yeltsin resigned in a surprising move. Putin won the 2000 presidential election and in 2004 he was re-elected for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008. Because of constitutionally mandated two-term limit, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term. After the victory of his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in the 2008 presidential elections, Putin was nominated by Medvedev to be Russia’s Prime Minister; Putin took office on 8 May 2008. In September 2011, Putin officially announced that he would seek a third, non-consecutive term in the 2012 presidential election. During Putin’s presidency, the Russian economy is said to have grown for nine straight years, seeing GDP increase by 72% in purchasing power parity (PPP) - six fold in nominal poverty decrease by more than 50%,and an average monthly salaries increase from $80 to $640. Speculations are bound as to what his current surgeon into the presidency would bring and some observers believe this tenure might be a little different. Putin would be going in again as president of Russia and could
end up staying there until 2024. In the video that was aired on Channel One TV, both men admitted plotting to attack Putin. One of them was identified as Ilya Pyanzin, and he said he had been hired by Ruslan Madayev, and Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov to carry out the murder as well as the suspect who died in the Odessa explosion. The other suspect who was named by Channel One as Adam Osmayev, was said to have been on an international wanted list since 2007. The Russian officials say these plotters were planning to plant mines on Kutuzovsky Avenue in Moscow, knowing that Putin used that road daily. Russian media reports say that Pyanzin told police when he was arrested that he and Madayev had flown to Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey, with specific instructions from representatives of Doku Umarov. According to the reports, the details of the plot were found on laptops in the flat, as well as a video showing Mr Putin’s motorcade. Mr Osmayev was reported to have lived in London for a while and he was in Odessa to serve as the local fixer for the plotters.
Venezuela: Chavez’s Illness & The Election
n Monday February 20, 2012 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez underwent an operation to take a tumor out of his stomach. Last June Chavez was reported to have cancer although the particular type of cancer was not revealed. Elections are due in October and many are already speculating about a Venezuela without Chavez. As for the opposition, the Democratic Unity Alliance candidate is the centrist Henrique Capriles, governor of the state of Miranda, an important state in the country and he is rearing to go. The primaries for the coming election in Venezuela featured 3 million voters, which was higher than expected. Capriles obtained almost two-thirds of the votes which gives him a solid mandate and the backbone to give Chavez a tough battle. Capriles is 39, almost 20 years younger than Chavez. Chavez illness would underscore that age difference. In addition, Capriles message is ‘change’ and judging by the results of the primaries, many Venezuelans want to hear something different after 13 years of ‘revolution’ under the former army officer. Chavez’s health leaves his supporters who are known as chavistas with a problem. They have good funding as the Venezuelan oil money keeps pouring in and in the past Chavez’s victory would probably have been
Hugo Chavez - Venezuela
taken for granted. Now that the man is ailing, the various factions of the chavistas are already bickering and several key chavistas might crossover to the opposition if the situation deteriorates. If Chavez is not re-elected, whatever the reasons, a new president and a new party would halt Chavez’s installation of a “communal” state and could result in restoration of the political institutions and economic freedom guaranteed under the 1999 Venezuelan constitution as promised by Capriles. Also, if the new enthusiasm of the markets is anything to by, (Venezuelan bonds reportedly gained a couple of percentage points after Chavez announced his operation, and did well throughout last week) then Venezuala might have a business-boosting ‘revolution-ary’ takeover in January 2013.
Additional information from Wikipedia, CNN, BBC www.myfinancialintelligence.com
r u e n re p e tr n E m u c e e y lo p m The E LUCAS BY NAOMI MOREMI
utonomy is only a piece of the pie. Many of us crave the entire banquet. Some dream of running a firm of their own, others dream of having retail outlets, and some others want to explore their craving for art and craft. Sometimes we want to ditch the employee tag and sometimes we only want a side hustle. Either way, or whatever the field, there are some basic things that we must never take for granted. These little bits of knowledge make the difference between success and failure in your entrepreneurial adventure no matter how fantastic you are as an employee. The first question usually is: ‘Should I dare 55
to do this in the first place?’ If you did not have a job many people would encourage you to give it a try, but the song changes when you are employed. A business venture could easily be seen as a waste of money; when there are school fees to pay. So what is the wise thing to do especially in this economic climate? Koku Konu is an architect who builds high rise buildings across West Africa: banks, and skyscrapers. Then his father passed on leaving his accounting firm behind. Konu opted to take that up as well. This meant restructuring and building Island Nominees Ltd and for an architect that meant quite a bit of learning; from the scratch. This made him the perfect person to ask:
Should you really bother? Konu’s response is: “If anybody has a desire to pursue self-employment; invariably that desire doesn’t go away until you test it. So if anybody feels like going into self –employment, irrespective of what is going on with the economy, go ahead. But of course that is just the beginning; you will also access your risks, calculate your exposure and your chances of success, but it’s your entrepreneurial spirit; the spirit that is in these people that makes the difference and they are the ones that would battle against the odds. They are the ones that people look up to; the ones who come up with something.” Looking at the number of failed businesses www.myfinancialintelligence.com
around us can be very discouraging for someone thinking of taking the plunge. Konu says: “Statistics are a bizarre thing, I don’t know where these ones come from but if you tell me that some people fail, I’d say yes and yes failure does discourage people. But again the lure of success is always there. Failure cannot be discounted, it does put people off. But the true entrepreneurs do have a knack to overcome seemingly impossible huddles. That is the hallmark of an entrepreneur.” Then he adds: “We all know entrepreneurs fail but it’s the ones that succeed that we tend to look towards. So if you have the entrepreneurial drive and want to go into self employment, irrespective of the economy you find yourself in, you should go ahead and take your risks.” Now we all know that being an employee requires you to apply yourself to your own duties, but being an entrepreneur is a different kettle of fish. The issues of leadership and management come to the fore. Leadership basically means climbing up the tallest Iroko tree with your binoculars and guiding the troop: having the bird’s eye view and ensuring you are all in the right jungle facing the right horizon. Leadership is more about the vision and the overall goals. Management on the other hand brings it down to the day to day planning and activities. Konu, speaking from his own experience says: “In my role as the first son of my father, I ‘administer’ the company. It’s a small title but a wide role because it starts from the minute eye of the processes and systems you put in place (management) to the bigger picture and how you develop the company (leadership), and how you get to the target audience, and so forth. So you start from small things like: ‘Do we have enough pens?’ to the bigger picture like: ‘Where are we in the scheme of things?’ that’s what I do essentially. I don’t have any part in the technical dispensation or any engagements, nothing like that, but I do programme, I do plan, I do implement, I strategise, and I am in touch with the top level of our clients on administrative basis.” If you have listened to a few management experts then you must have heard at least one of them talk about the mindset of a businessman vis a vis the mindset of a ‘professional’/ employee. Konu says this “It is down to stereotypes. When you are an employee, your focus is executing your duties and the economic performance of the company is at best a secondary concern. But when you start your business; you are a businessman, and the economic performance of the company is your primary concern.”
That is not the way to structure your company. You need to have your structure in place first. Do you need a finance director, or do you need a bookkeeper? These are two different skills. So have your structure in place. Know exactly what it is you need? Have an idea of your job description, and then seek people to fill that position. Try not to do it the other way round like everybody does because; usually the person has skill ‘A’ which you are picking up on but doesn’t have the commensurate skills. That is what I would say for staff selection.” Believe it or not ‘number’ is a weighty factor. It can make the difference between success and failure. Konu agrees with this: “Also I would say no matter how you start, start small. You don’t want to build a company with over a million employees overnight. If you check all the thriving companies out , you would find that they all started small. Every company starts with an idea, and people getting together. When it grows to over 10million employees, it didn’t start that way. These are the most important things. Define your job descriptions and start small.” If every well populated metropolis the poeple get to spend hours in traffic. We work long hours and we get home late. Time management is already a major issue with us, so how can we oversee a budding business ‘on
‘‘When you are an employee, your focus is executing your duties ... But when you start your business ...the economic performance of the company is your primary concern.” Now, Konu was making it all sound too easy; sitting at the conference table of his open office with an easy smile. We had to ask about his personal hurdles. “Well, I wasn’t particularly equipped to deal with the challenges of leadership and management. I didn’t have any formal training for it. I didn’t do an MBA, I hadn’t studied business formally, I had never taken any business courses, but I had always had an acute interest on how things work. I suppose that has to do with my architectural background. As an architect you are taught to design things. The way you design something determines how it is going to work. The principles of design apply not only to products, buildings, hairstyles, and fashion, they apply to processes; how to achieve a process. You have to design a process to make sure that you get the end result. My challenge was; not being formally prepared because of my background, but I was helped along.” Going by that is it safe to deduce that the way a banker would run a boutique would be different from the way an auto mechanic would run it? We would let you draw your own conclusions on that but in facing the challenge of restructuring and building Island Nominees Ltd, Konu did say: “Because of my background in design, I saw it as a ‘design’
issue and not really a ‘management or leadership’ issue. Out of every five entrepreneurs you meet, three would announce to you that their biggest challenge is the country’s infrastructure or lack of it. Clara Okoro, CEO of Brandworld and Publisher of Ice magazine did not bat an eyelid when she announced that her biggest challenge was “NEPA”. Bringing this up with Konu, he obviously took it all in his stride. But it was the way these infrastructural ‘failings’ affected staff welfare and productivity that was more prominent on his mind. “The main infrastructure problem that affects businesses is sparse electricity and then the roads and traffic. It affects the social wellbeing of your employees; if they get harassed every day coming in. If they can’t get to work easily because there are challenges every day it could be difficult for them.” Speaking of employees, how do you build the perfect team? Donald Trump says he usually hires people he already knows; like people on the other side of a bargain/deal that he found impressive. In a recent interview Femi Aderibigbe (aka Kwame) CEO of Nigezie and a judge in the ‘Project Fame’ reality and talent hunt TV show, pointed out that the “mindset” of the people you have to work with is the biggest challenge for him as an entrepreneur. Konu for his own part had this to say: “Getting the right staff is an ongoing thing. I cope with the challenge all the time. You see you may have the right people in 2010 but your needs, developments, and programme may change by 2012 so you will need to adjust your team. The way I cope with it; the way I would advice anybody to cope with it is to craft the job description first and then find the people that fit into the job description and not the other way round. Some people create a position because they know this person has some skill: ‘Oh! Let’s use him for that.’ www.myfinancialintelligence.com
the side’? Well here are Konu’s suggestions: “Time management challenges? Of course I face it. I face it all the time. Now for people who have a job and are starting up a business on the side and are facing time management issues, I would tell you how I deal with my time management issues. I use Outlook (MS Word Outlook). I come in and I schedule all the jobs I have to do when I am desk bound in the office. Then I get on with it. Outlook helps me order my day. It is the modern day filer-fax. I also have a very sophisticated method of recording my time usage. I log in the number of hours I spend on every task and I ascribe costs to them. At the end of the month I see how much time I have spent and how much it has cost me. And if the client is not worth it and I have spent too much time, then I have a red alert: I am spending too much time on this, and it is not paying. That applies to everybody in the firm. We collate that annually and produce a report which shows the wasted time and the monetary effect of that wasted time. Also there is idle time. Coming to the office and doing nothing is idle time. The fact that you are here does not mean that you are productive. I have a sophisticated system which I developed over time. But I don’t expect a beginner to start off like that but I do expect you to order your day.
I always instruct my employees that the first thing you do in the morning after you have communicated with your maker, if that is your wish, is to draw up your to-do list. You can’t beat it. You can do it manually; scribble it down or you can do it electronically. If you are an employee and looking to start something on the side, you do have the benefit of social media, and internet and mobile phones. Twelve years ago you had to go everywhere and rely on land lines.” As for the world’s ‘oldest problem’: The issue of money management. Biodun Caston Dada is the CEO of Maverick and publisher of Acada magazine; a publication credited as being one of the longest running and widest distributed soft-sells in West Africa – reaching the most targeted age group: 14yrs-30yrs. He has had quite a bit of money management experience and he has announced that his watch word is “Cut your coat according to your cloth, not your size.” Konu says: “What we advise people who are starting their own business is: Don’t spend a penny until you know how much you are going to spend at the end of the day. It wouldn’t cost you a kobo if you took a day to think about it. It is very important. Entrepreneurs naturally do not follow that instruction because the spirit of entrepreneurship itself takes you to the point where you
will not listen to advice. Refusing to listen to advice has led peole to achieve feats that they were once told were impossible. They defied the odds. Now you have to have that doggedness in you as an entrepreneur. But the key is to know which advice not to listen to. Deciding which advice to take and which advice to discard could be very complex but it could lead to your success. But there are some basic things everybody would tell you. One of which is that financial management is key: You must simply record what you spend and what you earn. That is the simplest way. You don’t have to have any fancy accounting system. You set up on your laptop everyday what you spend and what you earn; log in your income and expenses. It would give you an idea of how practical your venture is. If you spent N400, 000 and only received N50, 000, which means you have a shortfall of N350, 000 and you know it. Your mind is already keyed into that fact. You don’t have to do anything fancy like cash flows or budget forecast or profit & loss. It is a simple record of what I spend and what I get in. At the end of the month, I look at my books and say: I don’t have enough money. That instils financial discipline from the start.” Truth be told; that is easier said than done. This is Lagos: we are always buying fuel. Our ‘miscellaneous expenses’ are higher than the fixed expenses. In fact the ‘fixed’ expenses stopped being fixed a long time ago. Besides, starting a business is like setting sail in the open sea. Konu agrees having been there himself and admits this: “Entrepreneurs by their very nature are adventurous and so it is a good idea to get someone more pedantic to handle your accounts. In large organisations they are called the account department; accountants but for a small business you would have to find somebody to do it for you. You should have someone to ginger you up, and demand for all 58
“Why would you buy a car without testing it? The more information you have about the market and its players, the better your decision making would be. You must take cognisance of the competition. I always tell people one thing; ‘respect but not fear’. Respect the people that were there before you, but do not fear them.” your receipts; perhaps a friend, an associate or an assistant. You would have to instil financial management from the very beginning. Record what you spend and what you earn.” Continuous learning is giving great emphasis when we are on the job. Should that same emphasis come to play when we are on the PP(private practice) beat? Konu says yes: “When you are starting up, the first thing is the initial testing and research of the idea. Know your subject before you get into it. But you must continue. You cannot say you know it all and even if you did know it all in 2010, by 2012 things have changed. It is the same reason doctors get re-certified. It is without doubt very important.” So the fact that you did a three-month course in catering while you awaited your JAMB result 25 years ago does not mean you are ready to start a PP on small chops. Another three week brush-up course this month would not hurt and it would not absolve you of the need to do yet another three-day course towards the end of the year, just before the Christmas rush for caterers and confectionery.
Another question arises when we take a look at the competition; mostly people who are already doing the things we are thinking of doing. Is it being overly shrewd to snoop out the competition? We say ‘no’. You cannot know too much about the other players. You learn from their accolades as well as their mistakes. You learn about their strengths and challenges and their plans for the near and distant future. The more you know, the better equipped you are to make informed decisions. However, we do not recommend that you send a spy to steal their private documents; if you try that, you are on your own. Konu for his own part has this to say: “Why would you buy a car without testing it? The more information you have about the market and its players, the better your decision making would be. You must take cognisance of the competition. I always tell people one thing; ‘respect but not fear’. Respect the people that were there before you, but do not fear them.” In conclusion let’s get a little ‘dreamy’. We asked Konu that if wishes were horses what is the one thing (other than ‘NEPA’) that if the government made available would help budding entrepreneurs and he said: “Statistics.” You would probably have your own answer to that question, but Konu explains further saying: “If statistics were available, it would help in the decision making. Every time, a person has a business proposal he or she would have to conduct his or her own survey. I think the generation of statistics would help entrepreneurs a lot. The search for statistics is often defeatist. People often do not have the resources to conduct their own statistics. It is the government that would conduct surveys on how much power or fuel the country consumes in a day. That informs my decision on whether I want to open a petrol station or a supermarket. Statistics is what I have found to be a major challenge from my personal experience.” www.myfinancialintelligence.com
6-3-3-4 and Investment In Electronic Testing By Ademola Adeosun & Naomi Lucas
ver the past couple of years the 6-3-3-4 educational system has been under the radar. Several analysts have recommended that the primary and junior secondary phase of the system be merged; the ‘6’ and the ‘3’. Looking at the educational system especially in the rural areas, most parents (low income earners) end the education of their children and wards once the first certificate is acquired. The argument is that prolonging the ‘first certificate’ until after junior secondary would delay the sense of completion as well as the financial implications of changing schools and push the education of these ‘poorer’ children further, especially the girls who tend to suffer prejudice. However, the big question was the implementation of the ‘merger’. So many schools and structures have been built in line with the 6-3-3-4 system. If the system changes, how would the change be implimemented? • Would the uniforms change? • Would the administrative levies change? • Would the name of each level of education change? For instance would JSS3 become Standard 9? This change would cost the schools, the educational committees, and the examination board a lot of money. On Tuesday October 18, 2011 the Federal Government Tuesday inaugurated a high level committee to propose the modalities for the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Task Team on Education. One of the recommendations in the report is that the 6-3-3-4 system of education should remain. The only adjustment would be the inclusion of a one-year Early Childhood Education (ECE) for five-year-olds, making it 1-6-3-3-4. The nursery schools have always been in existence and children take classes from Nursery 1 to Nursery 3. These classes are not compulsory so a child can skip these classes and begin right from Primary School. Now one year of pre-Primary School would be compulsory. Media reports state that parents have over 3 years before this new structure would be implemented. Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, inaugurating the committee, and is reported to have stated that President Goodluck Jonathan “approved the recommendations of the report in line with further input made from the ministry after it was submitted.” The focus now is to make the best of the 6-3-3-4 system and improving the technical aspects of the system would make a big dif62
ference. The 6-3-3-4 system is laden with examinations all the way. Most typically, a learner must make a successful attempt at an examination to measure progress at a terminal stage in order to transmit to the next. 17 million pupils are expected to write the terminal exam after the first six years of primary education. These pupils are spread over the 36 states. They are thus spread over a very wide geographical area with a land mass that is well over 36million square feet and difficult terrains to navigate such as the Niger delta region and the Sahel zone. We have to remember the bad roads, dubious education supervisors, lack of classrooms, increasing travel costs for examination officials, interception of examination questions and materials while in transit; the list is endless. Over 34,000 secondary schools conduct entrance examination into various classes, this is not considering the national common entrance which over the years has become the benchmark for measuring psycho motor abilities of the 10 plus. In addition to that, well over a million young adults sit for the University tertiary matriculation examinations. It is obviously a constant nightmare to put together a uniform and fair examination for this multitude. The future might lie in electronic testing. At first it might sound absurd to begin to think about electronic testing in a country where internet connectivity is still under 17% and only one in 1360 households own a personal computer (PC). But current internet ‘consciousness’ is driving up that figure. The massive use of mobile phones to browse the internet holds the key to whole new cyber-examination experience. The CBN cashless policy could very well be another driver as mobile communication operators and banks are stepping forward to provide corresponding services and spreading their reach to cover more communities.
Once upon a time the examination board had to arrange for and ensure that every student who intends to sit for a university matriculation examination received his or her personal number code by post. This cost a lot of money and was riddled with errors. In addition to that they had to deal with the sometime irate crowd of youths waiting to collect their result slips. Tens of thousands of youths would queue outside these offices for weeks, under the sun and rain. Today, all a candidate has to do is buy a scratch card and go online. Obviously the proceeds of the card is handy income for the examination council. These scratch cards, like the mobile phones were once considered ‘impossible options’ for Nigeria. So who is to say a candidate cannot take his or her tests on his or her mobile phone. The online page could be ‘opened’ and ‘closed’ at a specific time when the candidates are to take the exams. Every exam centre could receive a centre code each at the very same time the page is opened and the candidates would type in this code along with their personal code to open the examination page at that specific time. This would ensure that only those within the premises can take the examinations and no two people can use the same code. The possibilities are endless. This is also a great investment opportunity. Electronic testing is the future for examinations in Nigeria and factors are lining up to ensure this happens. The environment now beckons on the brave investor to make the right move at the right time. A few organisations are getting involved in the post Jamb test by offering electronic testing platforms for some Universities and they are making profit. On the other hand, the fraudsters within the system have been cashing in on the current situation that they might resist the change. Also, school owners and managers who fear that the initial cost of a new order would set them back would fight against electronic testing. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
Salami: Perjury or a Set Up
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
Justice Isa Ayo Salami
n February 7, 2011 and March 31 2011, Justice Isa Ayo Salami who at the time was the President of the Court of Appeal, presented an affidavit he had sworn to. The affidavit of February 7 stated that then Chief Justice of the Federation, Hon. Justice Aloysius Iyorger Katsina-Alu had orchestrated plans to compulsorily promote himself to the Supreme Court and the affidavit of March 31 stated a series of events and exchanges all of which alleged that the Justice Katsina-Alu had made an attempt to influence the decision of the Sokoto Gubernatorial Election Petition Appeal Panel which he had constituted himself. These accusations were ruled as false and Justice Salami woes began. Justice Salami was suspended. Paragraph 4 (v) of the March 31 sworn affidavit Stated thus: “the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria actually instructed me to direct the panel of justices hearing the Sokoto State gubernatorial appeal panel to dismiss the appeal which I told him I could not do”. The person who admitted being in the office on the day in question Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher, who is now the Chief Justice of the Federation, was invited by the Abdullahi Panel of the NJC before whom the drama was unfolding and Justice Musdapher denied the assertions. He said no such thing ever happened in his presence (at the office of Justice KatsinaAlu ) and that the former Chief Justice of the Federation never asked Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami to compromise the Sokoto Gubernatorial Appeal Panel. After the hearing the NJC released its report which stated that President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Salami had lied. The report stated that Justice KatsinaAlu had not at attempted to influence the judgment of the Court of Appeal. It further stated that Justice Katsina Alu “did not give 65
Former Ekiti State Gov Segun Oni
instructions to the PCA to direct the panel to dismiss the appeal… the panel finds that the allegation that the CJN had taken over the running of the Court of Appeal in an unprecedented manner as unfounded”. “At the end of deliberations, the council decided as follows: that the allegation made by the Hon. President, Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami, that the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, instructed him to direct the Sokoto Gubernatorial Appeal Panel to dismiss the appeal by the Democratic Peoples Party of Nigeria was not true.” On Tuesday, the February 14, 2012 Justice Salami received a unique Valentine’ Day gift; an Abuja High Court granted leave to former Governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni, to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, to commence criminal prosecution against Justice Salami for allegedly giving false evidence on oath. Chief Oni pointed out that the outcome of the hearing of the Justice Umaru Abdullailed NJC panel, was the conclusion that Justice Salami deposed to a five-paragraph affidavit on March 31, 2011 and the information in it was false and that the matter “bordered on an issue of national interest, public concern, social justice and equality before the law.” Justice Peter Affen, sitting at the Bwari Division of the Abuja High Court, granted the order. He cited the case of Fawehinmi vs Akilu, and that of Abraham Adesanya vs President, Federal Republic of Nigeria as precedence and said that although leave for mandamus was not “granted merely for the asking”, he was exercising his discretion in this instance because of its “nature” and because it was an issue of “public interest”. So Chief Oni received the Valentine’s Day gift he sought: Justice Affen ordered the AGF to be served within 14 days and adjourned
the matter till, Thursday March 8, this year. Justice Salami on the other hand received the Valentine’s Day gift he dreaded. Chief Oni’s request was actually 2 ½ weeks old. He filed the ex-parte application on Thursday, January 26 seeking that the court grant him leave to apply for mandamus directing the AGF to institute criminal proceedings against Justice Salami “for giving false evidence contrary to Sections 156, 157 and 158 of the Penal Code Act, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory”. Chief Oni gave 26 grounds upon which the order of mandamus was being sought, he supported the application with a three-paragraph long statement of facts and personally disposed to a three-paragraph verifying affidavit. He attached 4 exhibits including Justice Salami’s affidavit, the NJC panel report and a copy of the letter he (Oni) had written to the Attorney General of the Federation on January 19, 2012, titled; “Request for the Prosecution of Hon Justice Isa Salami for Perjury”. The former governor in his own affidavit narrated a state of affairs where the then President of the Court of Appeal provided evidence under oath that was only shown to be false but also shown to have been made knowing that the facts within were false and made with the intent to mislead the conclusion in judicial proceedings in contravention of Sections 156, 157 and 158 of the Penal Code Laws of the Federal Capital Territory. Amongst the 26 reasons he gave to support his move, Oni said Justice Isa Ayo Salami had “sued the then Chief Justice of the Federation, Hon. Justice Aloysius Iyorger Katsina-Alu vide an originating summons on the grounds” of facts that were later shown to be false. The story is still unfolding but the issue is on the table. We would leave you to draw your conclusions but here are the questions going round: www.myfinancialintelligence.com
• Why would a President of the Court of appeal of any country present an affidavit of false facts which a witness could easily testify against and disprove? • Was Justice Katsina-Alu who was subjected to all that embarrassment ever compensated? • If the testimony of Justice Musdapher was the only evidence NJC panel relied on to disprove Justice Salami’s claims, then how is the panel sure Justice Musdapher himself was not also lying? • Justice Salami has been punished; he was suspended. Would a criminal prosecution amount to punishing him twice for the same offence, or is it simply a deterrent to others? • Why did the panel stop at merely suspending Justice Salami when the said perjury has soiled the judiciary so badly? Isn’t that why Chief Oni is seeking harsher punishment? • What exactly happened in the then Chief Justice Katsina Alu’s office that day? The Chief Justice of The Federation set up a panel that recommended that Justice Salami be reinstated; having been wrongly
removed. Doesn’t that count for anything? Whatever your answers to these questions, you have to admit that if you are going to sue the Chief Justice of the Federation, you had better know exactly what you are doing. You also have to admit that we cannot have our Justices lying under oath. The status quo is that Justice Salami’s affidavit has been ruled as a bunch of lies and Chief Segun Oni took it from there. Many watchers fear that if Justice Salami is prosecuted, he might not get a fair trial considering Justice Musdapher’s current position. Ideally, there should be nothing to fear. Ideally, there should be no interference with the case. Ideally, Justice Salami could
present further evidence if he insists that his words are true: Ideally ... only ideally. Whichever side the ball falls, a Justice has lied on oath in court; either with or without an affidavit and believe it or not this scenario has somewhat watered down the sacredness of affidavits and whatever reverence is left for the witness box. If a Justice could go that far, what do we expect from juveniles?
Networking DOs & DONTs
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
There is such a thing as networking etiquette. Here are a few DOs &DONTs •
DO • Carefully craft out the impression you want to make in line with the image you have chosen for yourself. Your language and dress sense should reflect this. • Carefully choose your meetings and gathering. Get tickets to the ‘right’ concerts, start playing tennis or golf, do some research to find out what the key players do and where they hang out. • Draw up a list of the folks whose world you want to be a part of and read up on them to find out what interests you have in common. • Every meeting is unique learn about the purpose of the gathering. Learn about the people that would be present. So you would know who to target and who to steer clear off. But there are no hard and fast rules so be flexible. • Smile: Keep an easy smile on your face all the time. • Dress successful, dress rich and most importantly dress comfortable.
Focus more on other people and listen more to what others do and like. • Offer to help. When someone happens to mention a need, offer to help even if you don’t think the person is worth the ‘investment’. You might be underestimating a good prospect. • Be genuine. Be sincerely interested or curious about the things you ask about. No faking. • Develop a rapport with people and make friends first. Understand that people may not remember what you do but they would remember that you like their perfume, that you both support the same football team, or favour the same brand for watches. • Relax and never be in a rush, you can always follow up. • Make proper and comfortable arrangements for your transportation to the venue and back. • Be willing to sit with strangers and chat.
Simply be open; don’t force it. • Walk up to strangers to say hello and pay a complement. Introduce yourself and talk about them; not yourself. • Keep it short and move on, but be flexible if the other person wants a little chat. • If you are shy get there early. It is easier than walking into a full room. • Be willing to travel for the sake of networking. • Hold your drink like an accessory. Do not sip much. Heaven forbid you get tipsy in front of these people. Especially with punch – how would you know what they mixed? • When you say hello: A firm handshake, a smile and a quick (friendly) eye contact. • Be very polite; even to the ushers and waiters. Good breeding scores points. DON’T • Forget to take a large supply of business cards along. • Interrupt other people’s conversations. • Delve into negative personal matters. • Compete for attention. • Announce your contact data. Use your business card. • Distribute your business cards to everyone; that cheapens it. • Promote your business; run a commercial Continued on page 70
kechukwu (lastname witheld) was working with a machine at one of the expatriate owned hair extentions and wigs factory when some hot liquid fell on his arm. He described the pain that ripped through him as immense. He was wounded for weeks and scarred for life. On December 9, 2011 “at about 3pm”, Bolaji Sekoni was working with a body cream mixing machine at the Patterson Zochonis Industries (PZ), Ikorodu Branch. Sekoni resumed for his duties that morning and ended up at the mortuary of the Ikeja General Hospital. As the story goes; the machine exploded and severely injured Sekoni and a colleague of his. The 39 year old died from those injuries. His colleague suffered a great deal and is gradually recuperating. Sekoni’s death was reported to the police by PZ and is being treated as an ‘industrial accident’. The tragedy was confirmed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Lagos State, Samuel Jinadu. But the Corporate Affairs Director of PZ, Yomi Ifaturoti, came forward to deny that the accident was due to an explosion. She is quoted thus: “We have set machinery in motion to find out what was the cause of the accident,” “PZ is a very responsible organisation; we have well structured insurance and life compensation benefits. His family had been here, we have started discussions and they know what the management is doing.” But that is for PZ. How about the cluster of factories, mostly set up by foreigners who exploit their ‘Oyinbo privileges,’ exploit their Nigerian employees, pay these workers peanuts, expose them to hideous hazards, ignore 69
Foreigners Abuse Us In Our Homeland BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
their health needs and sometimes go all out to physically and sexually abuse them? Mr. Maaji Meriga, was declared impotent and on the watch list for castration in 2011 after he was kicked in the scrotum by one of his expatriate bosses while working to construct railway tracks in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, for the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). His attacker was named as the company’s transport manager, Marcho Chin, who kicked him on his testicles and punched him on the ear to establish his superiority. Meriga had received two conflicting instructions; one from Chin and another from Chin’s fellow Chinese rival in the company. The assault was Chin’s way of telling Meriga whose orders were superior. This practice is very common in ‘expatriate companies’ as they know their employees are neither protected by the government, nor the unions. On January 23, 2012, just as the country was resuming work after the ‘fuel subsidy strike’ Happiness Okon was killed by a plastic moulding machine at IMPCO Company Limited. The 21 year old was a new girl in the factory; it was only her 5th day at work. Could she have been sufficiently trained to use a plastic moulding machine in that time especially with the notorious maintenance habits, and neglect of protective gear these factories are known for? The company was sealed by the state government on Tuesday February 7, 2012, but how far would the state go amidst all the cries for justice? Perhaps you recall the death of over twenty Nigerian workers at a factory in Ikorodu: The Chinese business owner had locked the employees inside the factory to work overnight.
When tragedy struck there was nowhere to run. Even the lamentations of Femi Martins the spokesman for the workers at Nigeria Bottling Company is still fresh. The workers took to the streets to protest against their working conditions and ‘poor wages’; they were paid four hundred naira (N400.) a day. The superiority complex many of these expatriates possess is fuelled by greed and the country’s skyrocketing unemployment rate; these foreigners have tens of thousands of youths begging them for employment. This situation is leading to really ugly incidents; faulty and dangerous factory equipment, no protective gear, prolonged exposure to toxins, and harm, no first aid etc. These factory workers have to battle with breakdowns, recurrent illness, defective senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste), defective organs, lifelong and terminal conditions and many times instant death. The average factory worker is extremely overworked and extremely underpaid. Too many of them work for up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week and get no overtime payment or any privilege or allowance whatsoever. With hundreds of thousands of people on the unemployment line, they simply cling to their jobs; slaving away and risking their limbs and lives. These same companies boldly engage in tax evasion, pollution and ill management of toxic waste. A visit to some of these factories to see the conditions that Nigerians are subjected to in their own countries would bring tears to your eyes. Some of these ‘sweat shops’ hire hundreds of underage workers who are easier to exwww.myfinancialintelligence.com
ploit. These vulnerable children are abused by these foreign business owners, their (expatriate) executives and the older (bitter) Nigerian factory workers, many of whom have been working there for years with no escape in sight. Needless to say that the top ranks are reserved for Caucasians alone; no matter how long and how hard a Nigerian has toiled for them. This is not to say that the Nigerian-owned factories are havens; far from it. In Ijeshatedo, Surulere, Lagos a few years ago a handful of young bread factory workers were having an argument with another teen from the factory. When it came to blows the other youth took to his heels and the gang chased him all the way to his nearby home and pushed him into a well. The boy drowned. This was the brutality they had been ‘nurtured’ with at the factory. Many of our local factories are nasty, but it is their expatriate counterparts that rule the slavery trade ‘mafia’ of today. In all fairness to the labour unions, the President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr.Peter Esele, and his counterpart at the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar have been talking about the situation, but so far it is all talk as foreigners continue maltreat our people in these post-colonial times. For instance KHS Machines Limited a member of the Nigerian-German Business Association situated at 50 Oduduwa Street,
GRA, Ikeja, Lagos has been reported severally as one of the most notorious companies in country. The Mobilising Officer of the NLC, Mr. Yacub Denja once told the media that they were well aware of the company’s long history of abusing, overworking, and exploiting workers whilst withholding their wages and entitlements. They are made to work as long as 16 hours a day, 7 days a week with the threat of a mass sack perpetually hanging over their heads. To make it even worse, these factory workers are exposed to the serious hazards with little or no training at all. Some workers of KHS Machines Limited took the bold step to litigate some time ago. As expected the company got lawyers to delay the proceedings perpetually; knowing very well that these workers couldn’t keep up
NETWORKING DOs & DON’Ts Continued from page 64 with every acquaintance. • Ask for people’s business card immediately. Build the rapport first. • Stay shy. Shake it off. This is an adventure. • Meddle in other people’s business. Keep conversations light and polite. • Gossip. Don’t let anyone draw you into it. • Get stuck in a pointless conversation with a bunch of layabouts in suits. • Stay in your comfort zone: Sitting with your old friends. The purpose is to make new friends. • Monopolise a person all night. It backfires. Remember that per70
with their legal fees for too long. The frequency and magnitude of these allegations, the evidence as well as the large number of witnesses is more than enough to warrant a probe by the state government. Add that to list of reports in the media about the company. Research also revealed that Nigerians may not the only ones complaining about the company. A certain Mihir Shah had made complaints about a certain KHS Machinery PVT Ltd which he had worked with while in Ahmedabad from June 2006 to Jan 2010. He complained about being forced into departments outside his training, a sack threat, withholding of his allowances and privileges, refusal to accept his resignation and when he simply cleared out of the company in frustration, he began to face litigation and lsegal notices. Nobody has a right come into this country called Nigeria to set up a business and completely take our laws for granted. The Secretary General of Workers United Nigeria, Mr. Princewill Onaregho reportedly told the media that he believed the situation would improve if the government used the KHS Machines Limited as an example to others: Just so that they understood the magnitude of its wrath. Today, even deportees would testify that Nigerian factory workers got better treatment in foreign lands as none of these expatriates would dare the governments of their own homeland the way they dare ours.
g n i s o o h C o T s Guide e s r u o C g n i n i a r AT
n business, the demands are ever changing. This is inevitable. The world is dynamic and so are your objectives – even if your company vision stays the same. In addition to that, methods of doing things would continue to change and more would be expected of you and your team. Getting appropriate and periodic training is the best way to keep up with the times and the demands. It need not be a long term course as long as it meets your needs and the needs of your employees to help you achieve both your personal and professional goals. Before you choose a course you must first understand how the course is constructed and the units of competency included in it. It is also a good idea to do some research on the training organisation offering these courses. They have to be registered and their practices must be agreeable and helpful. Get the brochure and as you read up on the modules, read up on the tutors. If you should need help along the way you would have a better idea of which tutor to approach for help. Understand why you are taking the course in the first place and what you aim to get out of it, for you and your employees. A training course is basically a structured sequence of vocational education and training (VET) with the aim of imparting identified competencies to the participants. If the training course is accredited by a training authority or a government body, then completing it would provide the participants with a qualification which is signified by a certificate. Many times it is this qualification and certificate that the participants focus on because it opens doors of employment and promotions for them. However the certificate is meant to certify or confirm that the bearer has acquired the particular competences that the training course was designed to impart. So it is the competences that really count to the entrepreneur or sole proprietor. Training courses are made up of several sub-divisions which are called units or modules. They form the building blocks of the certificate. The requirement for every certificate is the achievement of a certain level of competence
MI LUCAS BY NAOMI MORE
(grade) in a list of modules. Any change in this ‘formula’ would qualify you for something else and not that certificate. If you want a certain certificate, you have to acquire a certain formula of competences. There is always a minimum level of competence for each module to make up the formula. The importance of checking out the modules cannot be over emphasized. Many have registered (and paid) for courses which looked okay but as they began the journey, they found themselves stuck in classes for modules they neither needed nor liked. What’s worse? They had to pass these loathed courses to qualify for the certificate. Today training organisations organise customised courses for various firms and individuals to help meet their needs better. You need to check out these alternatives especially if a particular competence you seek is missing from the curriculum. You can have additional tutors included in the training team and these competences built into the training course. With customised training packages you must ensure that the competency formula required for participants to ‘qualify’ for your particular certificate is clearly defined. A Training Package is different from a course. A training package provides you with a framework for designing courses and it describes the outcomes required for the training, but it is the training organisation that decides how the training will be structured and delivered. It is also a good idea to have a heart to heart with your employees to identify the skills and competences they require to achieve the company’s goals. The timing and frequency of the classes and the ‘weight of homework’ must be carefully crafted out especially where you and your employees would not be taking a break from work. Even where you do take a break, matters like commuting and family, follow-ups and call ins would have to be factored in, unless you are planning an ‘executive getaway’. Remember, these training courses cost you money so ensure you get your money’s worth. You want to see a marked difference afterwards; especially with the company income.
son is also there to network. • Ignore social graces: perfect hygiene, impeccable manners, low volume laughter, fresh breath, eye contact with every conversation, generosity with your handshakes, never invade other people’s personal space, etc. • Bitch about a guest/host to others. • Be shy about taking notes. • Forget to follow up or keep promises to call or visit within 3 days maximum. • Forget to thank the host before you leave. • Forget to call the host the next day to show appreciation and pay an honest compliment. www.myfinancialintelligence.com
Corporate Social Responsibility
BY KOFOWOROLA ANIDUGBE
orporate Social Responsibility is a concept whereby companies voluntarily integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders. It is the commitment of a company to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their quality of life. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is all about operating a business in a way that accounts for the social and environmental impact created by the business. It is a commitment to developing strategies that incorporate responsible practices like funding education (updating our libraries and equipping our laboratories), funding infrastructural development (road constructions, rural developments and health care) and Entertainment (sponsoring sporting activities) into daily business operations. According to a corporate responsibility website csr-weltweit, “Nigeria has a wellestablished ‘culture of charity’; wealthy individuals and institutions contribute to charitable causes and use these contributions to garner positive publicity”. Many organisations have a CSR Policy, which defines areas of concern and initiatives to improve relations with the people and environments affected by business operations. CSR policies often dictate a system
for monitoring responsible performance. Successful CSR initiatives take organisations beyond compliance with legislation and leads them to honour ethical values and respect people, communities and the natural environment. CSR is sustainable involving activities that your organisation can maintain without adversely affecting your business goals. CSR must be sustainable - remaining a fundamental part of business regardless of changing fortunes. Consumers increasingly do not accept unethical business practices or organisations who act irresponsibly. Advances in social media (giving everyone a voice) mean that negative or destructive practices quickly fuel conversations and spread like wild fire. Organisations are accountable for their actions like never before. The Business Benefits of CSR CSR should not be viewed as a drain on resources, because carefully implemented CSR policies can help the oragnisation in the following areas: ◆ Win new business ◆ Increase customer retention ◆ Develop and enhance relationships with customers, suppliers and neworks ◆ Attract, retain and maintain a happy workforce and be an Employer of Choice ◆ Risk Management. Good relationships with local authorities make doing business easier
◆ Differentiation from competitors ◆ Generate innovation and learning and enhance influence ◆ Improve business reputation and standing ◆ Provide access to investment and funding opportunities ◆ Generate positive publicity and media opportunities due to media interest in ethical business activities Creating a CSR Policy Good CSR policies drive corporate change. With well defined objectives and measurable targets, your CSR policy will provide the foundation for steps towards running a more sustainable and ethical business. In this edition, we have highlighted some of the organisations that have overtime carved a niche for themselves in the area of CSR. The list is by no means exhaustive as it is just a representation of how far CSR has gone in Nigeria today. In the coming months, we shall focus on these organisations and many more and how they have distinguished themselves as socially responsible corporate entities in giving back to the same society that has supported their brands over the years. This list is in no particular order.
Food importation: good or bad business?
BY OPEYEMI QUADRI
espite the abudance of fertile lands and favourable weather considered very good for agriculture in Nigeria, the country still ranks amongst the top three net importers of food items in the world, a situation some analyst have described as worrisome. According to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the Federal Government spent over N99 trillion on the importation of food between 2007 and 2010. In his words, “Nigeria is now one of the largest food importers in the world. The food import bill of Nigeria in 2007 - 2010 was N98 Trillion or $628 billion. In 2010 alone, Nigeria spent N635 Billion on the import of wheat, N356 Billion on importation of Rice (that means we spent over N1 Billion per day on rice alone), N217 Billion on Sugar imports and with all the marine resources, rivers, lakes and creeks we are blessed with, Nigeria spent N97 Billion importing fish.” Alarming as the minister’s assertion might be some analyst have argued that the situation is not as bad as portrayed even though they reckon that Nigeria has to do more to be self sufficient on her food 74
needs. An economist, Ayo Agbaje in his submission noted that as much as Nigeria is spending millions of dollars importing some food items, the country is also making as much in its export. “I don’t like the situation where people will want to base their analysis on just half trust. In the area of cereals, wheat, rice and the likes Nigeria has not gotten it right so we do more of importing but when it comes to items like corn we rank in the first 10 exporters in the world.” Sharing the same line of thought, an Agric Economist, Bamidele Kazeem notes that it is not enough to give the land mass and the favourable weather which many feel it is enough to drive local production as he reckons that farming has gone digital and that Nigeria still lags far behind. “This days farming is driven by technology and having the right breeds of product, in that sense Nigeria is moving at a slow speed. To reduce or out rightly phase out food importation, we have to get it right in this aspect.” For Mr Bamidele it will be wrong to label food importation as a good or bad business. “The food importers see a vacuum and they are helping in filling the
vacuum, if there was no shortage in supply locally, importation won’t have come up at all.” According to him, it will be unfair to say food importers might be sabotaging government efforts at improving local production of food. “It is not the same with the power sector that you can be talking of monopoly; it’s just a normal business venture, people seeing a vacuum and cashing in on it. For Mr Agbaje the onus is still on government to do the right thing by putting in place relevant policies that will motivate local food production. “Recently the government said it was giving waivers for importers to bring rice into the country. This process will take up to four to five months before it eventually comes into the country. Why do that when it would take the same number of months if it is grown in the country,” he said. However, the minister of Agric stated that “As minister of Agriculture working closely with the minister of state, we will never let the farmers of Nigeria down, we will revamp the agricultural sector, we will accelerate food production in clear and visible ways that will impact the lives of our people, and we will begin the hard www.myfinancialintelligence.com
work of restoring the lost glory of agriculture in Nigeria.” While reacting to the budgetary allocation given to agriculture recently, Mohammed Tahir Monguno All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP, Borno) said the Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan was not serious about transforming the agricultural sector because of the meager budgetary allocation in the 2012 budget proposal. Manguno who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture, maintained that agriculture accounts for a large percent of
employment in Nigeria but lamented that the government seems to be paying lip service to the revival of the sector. “Nigeria imports food worth N1.3 trillion annually whereas we have vast agricultural land that is lying fallow. For the transformation agenda to succeed we need adequate food security. If agriculture is improved it will generate employment, provide food security. The deployment of about N1 trillion (to importation of food) is curative in nature. It will only cure the (symptoms) but it won’t eradicate (the illness). Tackling the problem through
preventive measures such as agricultural transformation will in turn generate employment and help combat the present state of insecurity, because we have a large army of youths that are unemployed all over the country,” the lawmaker argued. “The recent survey released by the National Bureau of Statistics should be taken seriously by every government because it is telling us that if we do not provide employment for the over 100 million people living in abject poverty, there will be a great danger ahead.” The lawmaker who represents Marte, Monguno and Nganzai Federal Constituency, lamented that in 2011 agriculture was allocated three percent of the federal budget while this year under the current estimates, the sectoral allocation was reduced to 1.6 percent of the N4.7 trillion budget. “Agriculture was given just N79 billion for both capital and recurrent expenditure. Nigeria is a signatory to the Maputo declaration which demands that all African countries should devote 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture and countries like Ethiopia have even exceeded it by allocating 12 percent. Chad which is our neighbour here has the highest agriculture budget of 14 percent. Therefore, all we are saying is that if we can’t have the 10 percent as recommended we should be allocated a minimum of 5 percent which will be around N300 billion,” he said. If the importation of goods must be stopped, the federal government needs to focus more attention on the agricultural sector. More support should be given to farmers who are producing locally as this would also help in making others gainfully employed.
Cutting Down On Travel Costs E ven with Skype and Facebook today’s business person still has a lot of travelling to do. Be that as it may, we have to keep our expenses down and business trips are major money guzzlers. Here are a few ways to keep these costs down. Social network sites: Most (perhaps all) airlines and road transport companies have a presence on Facebook or twitter, or even both. They use these platforms to market their services and promote their bonanzas; last minute discounts to fill up seats, new routes, and so on. Following them on twitter or liking their Facebook fan pages means that you would get information about their bargains on your mobile phone. That makes a big difference. Dates: Sometimes airlines have ‘cheap days’ just like the movie cinemas. They do this to boost traffic on their usual ‘low traffic days. Scheduling your trip around these dates would cumulate to huge savings. Go to the websites of the airlines you want to patronise, scan through the rates for the month and work your trip around the cheaper dates. Calculate: Sometimes breaking the journey is not cheaper, so make sure that it is before you go for it. Be sure you are well aware of the fares for the connecting bus trips. Remember, bus and cab fares are affected by traffic jams; air fares are not. Sometimes a direct local flight would save you both time and money. In the same vein, it could be cheaper to take nonstop flights than opt to connect flights so take the time to calculate before you pay. Stopovers: One major reason travellers have stopovers is to connect flights or even buses. With flights you are vulnerable to the hazards of schedule changes, due to flight delays. A delay could mean that you have to seek a hotel for the night – extra cost. A delay could mean you have to wait around for 3 hours, so you go window shopping and you end up shopping. Most frequently, a flight delay means lunch, drinks, a magazine or even a book. You should bear in mind that the cost of these items at the airports is usually multiples of their actual cost in town. If you must use connecting flights visit the websites of all the airlines and see how you can connect on the cheaper flights. Keep an eye open: Airlines slash prices too, so even if you had bought your tickets
before the prices were slashed you can get a refund for the difference. Many international flyers offer a refund. Sometimes road transport operators offer free tickets for regular passengers who have bought a certain number of tickets and if you kept your tickets you can claim your prize. So pay attention to the posters and promotions. Flyer Miles: Many international flyers reward their customers for their patronage. Accumulating these flyer miles would mean free flights and discounts. You also get flyer miles from co-branded credit and debit cards. Bus travel: Making a full trip by bus is generally cheaper and the bus fares of the bigger companies are generally stable. This option might require you to begin the journey earlier. The down side of this could be that you might arrive so early that you have to check into a hotel for the night. The hotel (and feeding) bill could be so high that it surpasses the difference between the flight cost and the bus fare. Thus the purpose is defeated. Get online help: For international travellers there are websites that would help you cut costs. Some websites help you find cheaper flights and some help you find cheaper hotel deals. An hour online could yield precious fruits for you. Rent a crib: If you are going to be in town for a week or more, forget the hotel and rent a small apartment or rent a villa especially if you are with your team or friends. Hotels in most European cities cost approximately $200 a night for basic hotel rooms, while renting an apartment or villa could cost you as low as $1,100 weekly or less, depending on which part of town it is in. There are several rental websites with really nice offers. Simply ‘google them out’ and make enquiries. Just a bed: where you do not want to have to cater for yourself you can stay with a resident of the area. The resident who serves as your host gets paid only a tiny fraction of what
Nigerian Designer Labels: Braving The Odds
A BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
a hotel would cost you and you can eliminate the risks associated with living alone in unfamiliar territory. Your host would provide you precious information on how to get around town and give you advice for car hire services and chauffeurs. There are websites that would connect you with these hosts or locals for a percentage of the booking fee; this is usually from 6% to 12%. The arrangement usually ensures your privacy whilst giving you easy access to the facilities, like the kitchen, the garden and so on. Code sharing: This means that you can book a flight to Paris from the United States with Delta airlines and end up with Air France because they are code partners. The destinations might be the same but the prices oftentimes differ. Sometimes the differences are quite substantial. As an illustration, have a look at these flight prices from January 2010. These differences are negligible: • Newark Airport to Stockholm: SAS - $609, United - $627 • New York to Lima: American flight - $817, LAN - $693 These differences would however get your attention: • New York to Singapore: Cathay Pacific - $1,319, American - $1,817. • New York to Marrakesh: Royal Air Maroc - $1,098, Delta - $3,257 on. • New York to Cairo: Egypt Air - $908, United - $4,650. Information is key when it comes to cutting travel costs. So always keep your ears to the ground and your eyes on the internet. Remember that little expenditures add up especially if you are travelling with your team. Have a great trip.
ll over the various cities in the country, bright and colourful boutiques punctuate every major road. They parade tempting attires form the biggest labels in the US, UK, Italy and France. Even the African celebrities show off with these labels and promote them more than ours. Nonetheless, the country has witnessed a growth in its fashion industry, houte couture wise. These fashion houses have taken the situation head on, and in spite of all the predictions of gloom and doom they have kept their heads up; ensuring that the houte couture industry remains a force to be reckoned with fashion-wise. We have fantastic fashion shows; showcasing breathtaking clothes but how lucrative is the houte couture business especially in West Africa? Chris Asekomeh, the man behind the Chris and Steeze label believes the infrastructure issues in the country is a strain on all its industries including fashion. He said: “Fashion business is quite lucrative but we encounter a lot of challenges; we have poor power supply, so you have to get fuel to power your generator, then there is the issue of getting your fabrics and all that.” He also believes the boutiques have it
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
Nonetheless, the progress continues and Asekomeh believes there is an ever growing acceptance for our traditional fabric and styles. “Sincerely speaking our clothes, fabrics and style has become a force to reckon with and is accepted and loved by African Americans and even Europeans. We have been able to showcase our work on international stage. The turnout in the last Ankara show in the UK was massive; so many people came to see how rich and beautiful our fabrics and style are.”
Tricks To Make Your Home More Spacious
irrors: Mirrors create an illusion of space by ‘doubling’ the room in your eyes. Fit large vertical mirrors on 3 of the walls. You can have them as wide as possible and they are beautiful and ‘fresh’ as well. Another space ‘opening’ factor of mirrors is the fact that they multiply the light in the room by reflecting it onto strategic angles of the room. The ‘crystal’ appeal of mirrors make your room look and feel more ‘expensive’. Light: The brighter the room the fewer the shadows and the bigger it gets because your eyes can see and capture more. Both natural light from large windows as well as artificial light from light bulbs and candles do this for you. To maximise the light, expand the windows in the house and use light coloured window curtains. Use thin and light weight fabric for them. Use light (preferably white and pale yellow) lamp shades and light bulb shades to ‘expand’ the electricity-light, the same goes for candle light. Cut down: Sadly people cramp their homes up with extra sofas and couches just because they can afford the extra furniture. If you walk into a showroom and the settee set you happen to fancy has 7 pieces, if you only need 3 pieces, ask to buy only 3 of the pieces. If the shop owners say no then find another set. The fact that you can afford it does not mean you should buy it. Settees are usually bulky and occupy space. Opt for a few and 77
easier. “The boutiques make the bulk of the profit in the fashion industry because customers simply buy off the rack. With couture you are making clothes to particular specifications and your client has to be satisfied with the outfit before your job is done. So with boutiques, customers only buy what they see. It is easier.” The question is: After a fashion show, what would happen to the clothes that were not purchased? Asekomeh said: “After every fashion show we keep some of them for photo shoots, give out some of them our in-house models, and store the rest of them for our end of the year sale. We have very good and classy customers who buy.” Apart from the fact that the Ankara is now being ‘copied’ by foreign fabric manufacturers, the African fabrics still stand out. Especially those produced with the native methods. This uniqueness drew attention to the fashion shows organised by West Africans, especially Nigerians in places like London, Paris, Johannesburg and several other fashion hotspots around the world. Many watchers fear that this buzz would die down too soon because of the rate at which our local fabrics and traditional styles are being copied.
have pretty puffs on the floor for people to sit on whenever you have crowd. Centre pieces: People have a tradition of placing a round table in the middle of the arch of settees. It is something we inherited from our parents. Then we have little stool beside each sofa to put our drinks on. The little stools make it difficult to walk in between the sofas and the large center table (usually glass) gives you no alternative. One of them has to go and since the little stools are more useful, the center table should go. It is difficult to let go of tradition but once you let this one go you would be relieved. You would have more space and it would be a lot easier to move around. The glass shelf: This is usually a huge show glass case in which we keep nothing but bric a brac and maybe the TV set. If your
BY NAOMI MOREMI LUCAS
living room is not ‘mansion size’ then forget it. Today flat screen TVs are fitted to the wall alternatively, you can have a carpenter build a sturdy shelf onto the wall for your TV. When you need storage space instead of going out to buy a cupboard or glass show case, have someone build one into the spaces and walls. The home should not fit the furniture; it is the furniture should fit into the home. Corners: Use up all the corners. Build shelves and drawers to fit into the corners of the walls. This frees a lot of space for you. Off the ground: Build most of your storage spaces above the ground. You can have your carpenter build shelves from hip height all the way up to a few inches above your head. This includes everything from cabinets to clothes hangers. Open shelving: This ‘releases’ more space than closed shelving because the empty spaces in the shelves are visible and add to the ‘feel’ of space. Paint and wall paper: Use light and pale colours. This maximises the light in the room and boost the illusion of space. Light colours for the ceiling gives an illusion of height while light colours for the floors gives the illusion of width. Think Multipurpose: When you have to purchase appliances or fittings find an appliance that does the job of two or three, or even four to save you some space. www.myfinancialintelligence.com