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Thursday, 22 September 2016



1. I am delighted to be present here today at the 2nd edition of the United States–Africa Business Forum. I wish to thank the United States Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies for organizing this event and for giving me this opportunity to address this august gathering of Political and Business Leaders from the United States of America (USA), Africa and other regions of the World. I believe all of us will take advantage of this Forum to establish and strengthen business relationships; share valuable experience; and collaborate for mutual benefits.
2. The United States has historically been one of Nigeria’s top trading partners; for decades, the US was the biggest importer of Nigeria’s crude oil. In the last two years, however, the sharp decline in US imports of our crude, on account of rising domestic production of Shale, has altered the trade balance between our two countries. But it has also thrown up opportunities for Nigeria to increase its non-oil exports – especially in agricultural products – to the U.S.
3. Today, Nigeria enjoys a mutually beneficial trade and investment relations with USA. This relationship has culminated in massive inflow of Foreign Direct Investment into Nigeria. There are several US Companies doing business in Nigeria, including Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Company, British-American Tobacco Company, UPS Courier Company, BCG, Johnson Wax Nigeria Ltd, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, to name a few.
4. These are no doubt challenging times for the Nigerian economy. But let me use this opportunity to boldly affirm our conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity. In our case, we see Nigeria’s ongoing economic challenges – occasioned mainly by the fall in oil prices – as an opportunity to set the economy firmly on the path of true diversification, sustainable economic growth, and shared prosperity.
5. Since the inception of my Administration in 2015, all efforts have been aimed at ensuring that all Nigerians enjoy rising standards of living. We campaigned for and came into office on the back of three fundamental issues: One, Securing Nigeria from terrorism and banditry, Two, Fighting corruption and ensuring that public funds work for the public good, and Three, Revamping an economy that was dangerously dependent on crude oil, and afflicted by rising inequality and jobless growth. We are pleased to note that our efforts are yielding fruit.
6. (On Security) – Hundreds of communities and thousands of people have been liberated from the clutches of the terrorists, under our watch, and are now getting a chance to, with support from the government and the international community, rebuild their homes and their lives.
7. (On corruption) – Our quest is to ensure, through a combination of institution-building and judicial efforts, that public funds work for the public good, and that persons responsible for overseeing the use of these funds come to this task with the utmost sense of transparency and accountability. Earlier this year we signed up to the Open Government Partnership, a clear demonstration of our commitment to a radical departure from a past characterized by large-scale state-enabled corruption. Let me also assure that we will continue to strengthen Government institutions established to address investors’ concerns.
8. (On the economy) – We are weaning ourselves from a historical dependence on crude oil, diversifying our economy, and putting it on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth. To this end, we have embarked on policies aimed at establishing an open, rules-based and market-oriented economy. We will continue to actively engage with the private sector at the highest levels to listen to your concerns and to assure you of our commitment to creating enabling policies in which your businesses can thrive. Indeed, we have constituted a Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which is working on a wide range of business environment reforms, ranging from making our planned visa-on-arrival regime a reality, to ports reform, to improving the speed and efficiency of land titling and business registration. We aspire to make Nigeria one of the most attractive places to do business.
9. Let me now focus on the priority investment sectors for our administration: Infrastructure, Industry, Agriculture, Mining and the Digital Economy.
10. Infrastructure: For far too long Nigeria has under-invested in the critical infrastructure necessary for a modern economy. Now, that is set to change. We are working hard to bridge an electricity deficit of several thousands of megawatts, which will require substantial private sector investment, especially in Transmission. Our railway system is being opened up after decades of a government monopoly that has hindered the needed private sector investment. We are well on course with a concessioning deal that will see General Electric take over hundreds of kilometers of existing rail assets, and invest billions of dollars to upgrade assets and services.
11. On Industry, there is the Nigerian Industrial Plan that is being implemented. The implementation is directed at interventions to improve productivity and output in five industry groups, namely: agri-business and agro-allied; solid minerals and metals; oil and gas; construction, and light manufacturing. Currently, investments and partnerships are being directed to leather and leather products; sugar; palm oil processing; food processing, specifically tomato and fruit processing. Automobile assembly and manufacturing are important to the diversification of the Nigerian economy. Industrial zones and parks are being established. This is work in progress.
12. In Agriculture, through our Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP), we are prioritizing the improvement in domestic production of rice, wheat, maize, fish, dairy milk, soya beans, poultry, fruits and vegetables, and sugar, as well as the export of cowpeas, cocoa, cashew, cassava (starch, chips and ethanol), ginger, sesame, oil palm, fruits and vegetables, beef and cotton. To achieve these goals, we are ready to partner with and support willing private investors, by creating an environment that is stable, safe, and competitive. I am pleased to note that Coca Cola has recently invested substantially in one of Nigeria’s best-known dairy and fruit juice companies, and is looking to increase its stake over the next few years.
13. In Mining, Nigeria is determined to build a world class minerals and mining ecosystem designed to serve a targeted domestic and export market. To accomplish this, we are prioritizing exploration, local processing and beneficiation of our mineral assets with provision of generous incentives including favorable tax regimes and royalties to investors interested in our market. We have as part of this identified mineral resources, which exist in commercially viable quantities, and designated them as strategic priorities for Nigeria’s domestic Industrialisation and Infrastructure requirements.
14. In the Digital Economy, which, like Infrastructure, has a multiplier effect that touches every part of the economy, opportunities abound. We have welcomed and continue to welcome investors willing to take a stake in one of the world’s largest and fastest growing telecoms markets – a market which has attracted more than $35 billion in FDI over the last decade and half. The Nigerian Communications Commission will shortly commence a licensing process for the deployment of broadband infrastructure across metropolitan areas in the country.
15. Young Nigerians are increasingly demonstrating that they have the talent and the passion to leverage the digital economy for solving our most pressing challenges. We are seeing a lot of activity in that space, and not just in Lagos, but even in cities further afield, from Uyo to Abuja. There are currently 150 million active mobile phone lines in the country – sixty percent of which are connected to the Internet. I can confidently say that Nigeria is in the early stages of a domestic technology revolution, and the government is paying serious attention and offering its full support.
16. Three weeks ago I hosted Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder and CEO of Facebook, which is now used regularly by 17 million Nigerians, more people than in any other country in Africa. A few months ago Mr. Zuckerberg invested $24 million in Andela, a technology company that has Iyin Aboyeji, a 25-year-old Nigerian as one of its co-founders, and maintains its main campus in the city of Lagos. On the same day that Mr. Zuckerberg visited I also welcomed and interacted with 30 of the most exciting technology startups in the country; among whom lie tomorrow’s billion-dollar corporations.
17. In terms of Trade, Nigeria is keen to more effectively leverage the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) opportunities to boost exports to the US Market. In collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) we have developed an AGOA Response Strategy to boost exports under AGOA. We are willing to collaborate with willing development partners to address some of the constraints to accessing the US Market under AGOA, such as our inability to comply with US requirements. With our U.S. counterparts, we are also working on a post-AGOA framework. Nigeria will continue to work closely with the U.S. to ensure that trade works for development.
18. I urge the American businesses present here to take advantage of the investment opportunity that Nigeria represents. Nigeria remains the number one investment destination in Africa, with total FDI inflow of about US$3.64 billion in 2015. Apart from our domestic market of 170 million, the largest in Africa, we are also the main gateway to a combined West African consumer market that is about as large as ours. With a median age of 19, and with 70 percent of the population below the age of 35, Nigeria’s greatest potential lies in the talent and energy of her youth.  
19. Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, we recognize that the economic benefits of our trade and investment relations with the United States and other partners are unambiguous. In order to encourage private capital inflow, we have packaged some fiscal investment incentives which include the following: up to 5 years of tax holiday for activities classified as ‘pioneer’; Tax-free operations; no restrictions on expatriate quotas in Free Trade Zones; Capital Allowances (Agriculture, Manufacturing and Engineering); a low VAT regime of 5 percent; among others.
20. Let me use this occasion to announce the commencement of the latest in a series of bilateral engagements between the United States and Nigeria: the U.S. Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue. This Dialogue, which will focus on Infrastructure, Agriculture, the Digital Economy, Investment and Regulatory Reform, will be jointly led by the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, and the US Commerce Secretary, and will include business executives from both countries. By strengthening existing trade and investment ties between our two countries, as well as opening up new vistas, it will complement the work currently being done by the US-Nigeria Binational Commission, the US-Nigeria Trade and Investment Framework, and similar initiatives. We very much look forward to the mutual benefits that will accrue from this Dialogue.
21. On this note, I enjoin investors here today to take advantage of this Forum to build synergies that would translate to increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and United States of America. Nigeria welcomes you.
22. I wish you a fruitful deliberation. Thank You for listening.

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday assured the international community that his administration was already implementing several people-oriented programmes to meet the humanitarian needs of the over two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria.
The President, who disclosed this at the High-Level Summit on “Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” on the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA71) in New York, United States, said such intervention programmes include: the Presidential Intervention Committee on Rehabilitation of the North-East; the Victims Support Fund; the Safe Schools Initiative and the proposed North-East Development Commission currently undergoing legislative process.
President Buhari added that, “we are making concerted efforts to meet our citizens’ immediate humanitarian needs by reducing their risk and vulnerability and increasing their resilience through vocational training and skills acquisition programmes, particularly for IDPs in camps.”
The President said any discourse on refugees and migrants in the case of Nigeria, “will be incomplete without reference to our internally displaced persons, victims of Boko Haram’s terrible atrocities,” which also rendered 600,000 persons homeless in Nigeria’s neighbouring countries.
He noted that in order to find a lasting solution to this regional challenge, Nigeria in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, recently hosted a regional conference on displacement of persons within the framework of Regional Protection Dialogue on the Lake Chad Basin.
At the global level, President Buhari said Nigeria has equally shown appreciable concern on issues of global human mobility using such control instruments as the National Migration Policy; Labour Migration Policy; Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Laws, and Nigeria Immigration and National Drug Law Enforcement Acts.
The Nigerian leader condemned all new forms of racism, xenophobia and hate ideology targeted at “undermining the considerable benefits that migration can deliver to global efficiency.” He said such divisive tendencies only lead to violence and avoidable loss of lives in a world that requires cooperation, adding that “globalization should mean free movement of goods, services and people.”
Nigeria, he said, “believes that without deliberate and collective commitment and action, the issue of large movement of refugees and migrants may impede our aspirations toward achieving the Programme of Action of the Cairo Agenda +20 and global determination to leave no one behind in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
September 19, 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

Buhari to sanction aides over President’s plagiarism of Obama’s speech

FILE PHOTO: Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, and U.S. President, Barack Obama in Washington.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign suffered a setback Friday following a newspaper report that the president allegedly plagiarised President Barack Obama in the speech he delivered while launching the project.

The Presidency has issued the statement below admitting that the speech read by President Muhammadu Buhari contained insertions plagiarised from a 2008 speech by U.S. President, Barack Obama.
A statement by a presidency spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said an investigation had been launched into the matter and that officials so far identified to have committed the blunder would be punished.

Read PREMIUM TIMES initial story on the plagiarism saga here
Read full presidency statement below.
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered that prompt and appropriate disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for a wrongful insertion in his speech delivered on September 8, 2016 at the launch of the “Change Begins with Me’’ campaign.

The government says the campaign will help curb “widespread act of immorality” by Nigerians.
The report, which detailed how Mr. Buhari allegedly lifted quotes from a 2008 speech by Mr. Obama, came on the heels of another damaging allegation that the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign contained elements belonging to another anti-corruption effort, ‘Not in My Country’.
Mr. Buhari on September 8 launched the ‘reorientation’ campaign in Abuja as part of his government’s strategy to make Nigerians eschew “dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity” and embrace daily introspection over their “immoral” conducts.
He also used the occasion to sue for national consensus amongst Nigerians on issues ranging from spirit of service to patriotism.
“We must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country for so long. Let us summon a new spirit of responsibility, spirit of service, of patriotism and sacrifice, Let us all resolve to pitch in and work hard and look after, not only ourselves but one another.
“What the current problem has taught us is that we cannot have a thriving army of rent seekers and vested interests, while the majority suffers,” Mr. Buhari said.
But facts have emerged indicating Mr. Buhari did not author those quotes.
Adeola Akinremi, a columnist with Lagos-based THISDAY Newspaper, was the first to spot possible instances of plagiarism between Mr. Buhari’s speech and a speech delivered by Mr. Obama when he was first elected in 2008.
In a speech delivered after his victory on November 4, 2008, Mr. Obama said to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters:
“Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
“So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. “Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.”
After highlighting the seeming plagiarism, Mr. Akinremi said the act was “unethical” and lampooned Mr. Buhari for allegedly indulging in it.
“It is immoral to plagiarize other people’s work, but even worse to use dishonesty to launch a campaign about honesty.
“When you use another person’s work without acknowledgement, you have plagiarized. You simply pretend as if it is your own. It is unethical. It makes a mess of the campaign from the start. That is what Buhari has done, nobody will believe in the ‘change begins with me’ campaign, because it was built on lies,” Mr. Akinremi said.
When contacted Friday morning, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said he was just becoming aware of the allegation and that the presidency would investigate.
Mr. Akinremi’s column was published a week after associates of Akin Fadeyi, creator of ‘Not In My Country’ accused the Buhari administration of stealing his concept to launch ‘Change Begins with Me.’
The associates said Mr. Fadeyi, a creative artist and former head of communications at Airtel Nigeria, met with the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in December 2015 to intimate him of ‘Not In My Country,’ an episodic narrative that deploys humour to underscore societal ills and appeal to Nigerians to shun sharp practices.
They said Mr. Mohammed declined interest in the concept, only to turn around to adapt it for ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign.
But Mr. Mohammed denied the allegations, saying he started ‘Change Begins with Me’ before he was appointed minister.
“We started working on ‘Change Begins with Me’ before the honourable minister was nominated and we’ve been working with the agency that produced the campaign,” Mr. Mohammed’s associate said.
The ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign had earned Mr. Buhari widespread criticism, with many Nigerians accusing him of shifting blames to them and wondering why they gave him their mandate if he would ultimately saddle them with the duty of effecting the change he promised.
But the government said the campaign became necessary to rally all Nigerians in the effort to cleanse the country of corruption and other malaise plaguing it.

Published by Premium Times

UK says Ibori's conviction stays despite bribery evidence

Jailed former Nigerian state governor James Ibori’s convictions remain valid despite evidence a British police officer took bribes during the investigation of his case, Britain’s state prosecution agency said on Thursday.
Ibori, who as governor of oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007 was one of Nigeria’s most powerful men, is serving a 13-year sentence in a British prison after pleading guilty in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.
He is the most senior Nigerian politician to have been held to account for the corruption that has blighted Africa’s most populous nation for decades, and his jailing was hailed as a high point in the international fight against graft.

But the case has become an embarrassment for Britain since one of Ibori’s associates, convicted money-launderer Bhadresh Gohil, alleged that the judicial process was tainted because prosecutors had covered up evidence of police corruption.
Authorities initially denied everything and charged Gohil with perverting the course of justice, but that prosecution was abruptly dropped in January.

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In May, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had found “material to support the assertion that a police officer received payment in return for information”.
After an internal review of the case lasting months, the CPS said on Thursday that while the material “should have been disclosed to the defence”, that did not call into question the validity of the convictions of Ibori, Gohil and others.
Ibori’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Gohil’s lawyer said he could not comment for legal reasons.
Court proceedings on the confiscation of Ibori’s assets are still dragging through the courts, and lawyers for Ibori and Gohil could use the next court hearing to challenge the findings of the CPS review.
Ibori first came to the attention of British police in 1991, when he was working as a cashier at Wickes, a home improvements chainstore in London, and was caught stealing from the till.
After returning to Nigeria, he became involved in politics. As governor of Delta, he amassed a huge fortune and became a power-broker in the PDP party then ruling the country.
The charges to which Ibori pleaded guilty ramounted to the theft of about $80 million. Prosecutors said that was only part of his total booty, which was kept hidden via a complex web of shell companies, offshore accounts and front men.

During his sentencing in 2012, the court heard that he had enjoyed a lavish lifestyle involving foreign properties and a fleet of luxury cars. At the time of his arrest, he had been trying to buy a $20 million.

Friday, 10 June 2016

IBORI: Why Crown Prosecution Stops Confiscation Proceedings Against Ibori?

As British Prosecution dares Judge...Says proceeding must stop in the interest of justice to Ibori !

The Southwark Crown Court in London has on Wednesday, 8th of June, said the confiscation proceedings againt the convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori should be put on hold pending the conclusion of the investigation of corruption against the British police officer whose report alongside the statements of the former lead prosecution counsel might have misled the court in jailing the former governor.
James Ibori's lead counsel, Mr Ivan Krolic, QC has asked the court to halt the confiscation proceedings following series of revelations that the the British police officer that investigated Mr Ibori for corruption and money laundering was himself involved in corrupt practices in the course of his investigations.

It was further revealed that the crown prosecution knowing the officer's sharp practices in obtaining unreliable evidences against Mr Ibori refused to disclose such evidences, relied upon it and misled the court in securing Mr. Ibori's conviction.

The judge, His Honour Judge Tomlinson, who had initially shown some resistance to Mr Ibori's application for stay of proceeding pending the conclusion of the Police Review said ''what do I tell the listing officer for not continuing with this proceeding, I need to get a grip of this'. He continued 'Mr Ibori has been convicted nearly 3 years''. Krolic QC cuts in ''4 years''. Judge Tomlinson continued ''Mr Ibori has been convicted nearly 4 years, when does the confiscation hearing start'? Responding to the Judge's query, Mr Krolic said ''This proceeding will start when the Crown completes its review into police corruption. I ask rhetorically, could the court continue with this confiscation hearing when there is an application on abuse of court process'? 
Mr Ibori's lead counsel, Mr Krolic, observing Judge Tomlinson's unwillingness to grant the application for a stay of proceeding then said ''We say the Crown Prosecution has manipulated this confiscation proceedings, we say the former lead Crown Prosecution Counsel made misleading statements and submissions. This hearing will not be fair unless the Review is completed and we know to what extent there has been an intent to mislead the court and the extent of corruption leading to non-disclosure of materials against Mr Ibori''.

With tension rising between the Judge and Ibori's lead counsel, and the entire court being caught in the cross fire of arguments between Judge Tomlinson and Ibori's lead Counsel, Mr Krolic QC, the judge, trying to manage the tension pointed out that ''I know that your (Ibori's defence team) position has always been that this case be litigated sooner than later, you have always opposed the crown on stay of proceeding, only for you to bring an application on Monday for a stay of proceeding, but what I need to know is how does this case going to be affected by the review? I still don't know where we are going''.
Responding to Judge Tomlinson's question, Mr Krolic said ''The review into the police corruption not only concerns the safety of the conviction but also of the non-disclosure of materials used against Mr Ibori''.

Giving the background to the case, Mr Krolic said the Crown had initially relied on Assumption 72AA of the Criminal Justice Act in only some of the charges only to turn around after three weeks of proceedings when the case had been closed and submission made by all parties to inform the court that the defence team had confused them (The Crown Prosecution) and that they would now be seeking to apply Assumption 72AA across board. "At the closing, the Crown claimed that they were confused and the the Judge, Anthony Pitts, said he was also confused and ordered the confiscation proceedings to start afresh permitting the Crown to apply Section 72AA across board". Krolic trying to convince the judge maintained: "We say, they (Crown Prosecution) said to the Judge that they were confused and if the court's ruling was based on the intention by the Crown Prosecution to mislead the court, we say that was an Abuse of Court Process".

Meanwhile, the lead Crown Prosecution Counsel, Mr Kinnear QC, who had sat through all the hot arguments between the Judge and Ibori's Counsel and was watching with surprise how the Judge had made frantic efforts to resist Mr Ibori's application for a stay of proceedings pending the conclusion of investigation into police corruption in the case, interrupted the argument. Mr Kinear QC noting His Honour Judge Tomlinson's hardline position on the application said, ''I, on behalf of the Crown, have always said that in the interest of justice that the case be adjourned until the conclusion of the disclosure review. Mr Ibori has also changed his position since Monday agreeing that this case be adjourned. Your Honour, in our submission in respect of this matter, we ask, is it in the interest of justice that this matter be adjourned? Our response will be a resounding Yes'".

Further making a case on the side of Mr Ibori for the proceeding to be put on hold to determine the allegation of British police corruption and the safety of Mr Ibori's conviction, Mr Kinnear, the Crown's lead prosecution counsel emphasised that ''in the Crown's submission, we can't trample on the defendant's right in the interest of justice''. 

However, not convinced yet that the Judge has seen the danger in proceeding with the hearing Crown Prosecution lead Counsel, Mr Kinnear went on to say "Your Honour, the application to adjourn is an application this court must accede to in the interest of justice".

Seeing this was a dangerous situation where the Crown Prosecution comes to the side of the defence team, pleading fairness and justice before his court in the interest of the defendant, the judge, His Honour Judge Tomlinson proclaimed, "I am influenced by the submission of the Crown, I do therefore agree that this confiscation proceeding should therefore be adjourned".

There was a high sense of relief on both side of the bench as well as the audience in the court following the ruling for adjournment of the proceeding pending the conclusion of the Review into Police corruption and disclosure. 

On the allegation of abuse of court process and the court being misled, Judge Tomlinson said, "issues raised on behalf of Mr Ibori is that Mr Kinnear's predecessor manipulated proceedings, that does appear to me that it is a discreet matter that I can't allow to go away, that previous counsel either misled or manipulated the court to abort the proceeding".

Mr Ibori now stands a good chance of having his conviction revisited and probably quashed if the Review into Disclosure and Police Corruption establishes that indeed there has been failings leading to corruption on the part of the British police that investigated Mr Ibori for corruption and money laundering and that the prosecution has deliberately withheld the materials used against Mr Ibori to manipulate the court in securing Mr Ibori's conviction. 

The conclusion of the Review will pave the way for Ibori's defence team to appeal against his conviction and seek to quash it. This will be the most embarrassing case and situation for the British government which looks to be taking a stand against corruption. Nigeria government also stands to be humiliated and embarrassed if Mr Ibori successfully quashes his conviction based on the outcome of the Review, police corruption, abuse of court process and manipulation of the court by the former Crown Prosecution Counsel.

This case is likely to resume in October after the outcome of the Review must have been known and Ibori's defence team decides on how to proceed with the outcome. It does seem there is no end in sight yet on Ibori's conviction in London for money laundery following these new developments and revelations that may end up embarrassing both the Nigerian and Brtish governments. 

By Tunde Gabriel Alabi, London

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Thursday, 15 September 2016

How CBN erring policies worsen Nigerian economy

There are many innovative solutions available to the Central Bank of Nigeria, but is it taking advantage of them, or just going with the old way of doing things?
Here is  Special Report by Nnamdi Oranye.

Earlier in August, in a sudden move, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) changed its International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) policy. The change was so drastic that the licences of all money transfer services, save three, have been revoked. The three remaining are old players in the scene relatively speaking – Western Union, Moneygram, and Ria.
The decision was made in the interests of curbing the growing unlicensed money transmitters operating in the country, and also – in the words of a press release – to ensure that no ‘attempt aimed at undermining the country’s foreign exchange regime’ is condoned.

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Nigeria's Central Bank Grants Licenses To 11 Currency Transfer Operators in
Nigeria’s Central Bank Grants Licenses To 11 Currency Transfer Operators in addition to 3 initially granted
Much has been written on the reasons, however, I’m interested in this from an innovation point of view, and from the point of view of the many people who were using newer, more innovative money transfer solutions.

Central Bank of Nigeria.
Central Bank of Nigeria.

Several startups have been finding more technological, and cheaper ways, to allow users to transfer money. The issue is a rather simple one. The African diaspora is huge, and many Nigerians need easy and cheap solutions that will help them get money to loved ones in their home country. It’s got to be an easy transaction without a lot of friction. There’s a good reason why Nigerians are sending money home – they didn’t’t just wake up in the morning and decide it’s a good day to send money. There are obligations, needs, and reasons. After all, most of them are somewhere else in the world because they found they could get a decent job that could help with their responsibilities at home.
Several startups like WorldRemit, MFS Africa, Transferwise, or Azimo found solutions for these people where money transfers can be almost seamless. Many of the solutions make use of Digital Payment Services (DPS) where money can be sent using mobile phone apps and SMS services, in partnership with retailers and service providers.
The CBN announcement has its pros and its cons. The pros are obvious – better control, more safety. There obviously needs to be adequate and effective regulation. It’s good that CBN consolidate the numerous avenues to send money into the country – with only three partners to work with, managing fraud and laundering is much, much easier and effective. That’s a plus.
Initiative capabilities of 're-investment into Nigeria economy by KBJOJO International.
Initiative capabilities of ‘re-investment into Nigeria economy by KBJOJO International.
The cons, however, are much more complicated. There is a question about these three providers that needs to be answered. All three have been around for a long time, but with that also comes antiquated systems and unnecessary costs in today’s technological landscape. Do these partners have the capability, or the plans, to provide seamless transactions for users at a low cost? In order to get at the big fish involved in laundering and fraud, the common person is being cut off from valuable services that are really changing lives.
Does the diaspora have to now go to a Western Union agent in person, fill out the necessary forms, bring in all the necessary paperwork such as proof of address etc., conduct the transaction and then send the necessary Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN) to the person they’re sending it to, and then pay the fees? At the time of writing, it costs 9.99 USD to send 5 USD to Nigeria if you’re sending cash! Sure you can do it online, or make use of the Western Union app, but then you can only make use of a VISA or Mastercard credit card to do it – something that many Africans do not have. Many do not even have bank accounts.nigeria-2
The beauty of DPS in recent years has been the ability to circumvent these options and pay someone directly to their cellphone, with digital money they can actually use. Or if they want the cash, they can draw it from hundreds of agents around the country. DPS also allows you to pay for goods and services, and then send a coupon or code via SMS to someone else, who then simply pick up those goods and services from the relevant retailer or service provider. While the three players above provide similar services by allowing users to pay bills for others, it’s still not exactly the same thing.

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In my opinion, remittance itself has to disappear from the customer’s experience. Amazon has showed us the value of the ‘one-click payment’ service. Amazon are also a good example of how borders are closing – I can order almost anything from Amazon from almost anywhere, and have it delivered to just about anywhere. The costs will change, but the borders don’t mean much. This is the sort of thing that needs to start happening in the money transfers space. For example, instead of sending money home to Nigeria, why can’t I be allowed to pay for groceries and medical supplies from select partners, and then those goods are delivered to my loved one’s door? That kind of thinking is what needs to enter the money transfer space, and in the case of many startups, it has.
I think it’s a great that CBN has chosen three solid partners in solving their problem, but often in Africa we focus so much on regulatory framework without the bigger African picture in mind. Perhaps these three players don’t have everything in place now to meet the true needs of many, many Africans – but do they have the plans and strategies to do so? Or are they still thinking in one, limited context? It’s not about remittance but rather about the end result.
In theory, the partner selection by the CBN is crucial. If they just picked the biggest remittance providers because of who they are, based on historical and e ven political relationships, that’s not helping us all in the long run. In my opinion, innovation is key here, and we have the technology in DPS.
I love the example of Tanzania. In 2008, less than one percent of Tanzanian adults had access to mobile financial services, but by 2013 this shot up to 90 percent. As I explore in detail in my bookDisrupting Africa: The Rise and Rise of African Innovation, these services are effectively offering a huge amount of people the security and benefits of bank accounts (these days, even interest is being paid out) – it’s making it easy for people to invest into the financial system. It’s just that the financial system is looking very different!
The Bank of Tanzania (BOT) has taken a “test and learn” approach, inviting the private sector to partner with them in opening up solutions and freeing up financial services to the common person. “We have learned that new technologies that augur well with the Central Bank’s objective need to be nurtured and monitored closely to ensure they do not cause any financial instability or reputational risk that may affect the country’s payment systems. This approach has made digital payment services in Tanzania a success story,” says Prof Benno Ndulu, governor of BOT. Colaboration has been key.

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Africa can leapfrog traditional infrastructure and find new solutions to its challenges. In the case of money transfer solutions, there is a lot on the table. My hope is CBN and its partners have a plan – for the sake of the long term.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Boko Haram and Eid Celebration - Tackling Boko Haram Recruitment Strategy by Temitope Olodo

Opinion: Boko Haram and Eid Celebration - Tackling Boko Haram Recruitment Strategy by Temitope Olodo

As Nigeria military continue to reassure the world that Boko Haram is now in the history books and governors of the most affected north-east states by Boko Haram insurgency visit IDP Camps to celebrated Eid; Boko Haram members were out in full force to prove they are still relevant.

Boko Haram under Shekau released video showing thousands of its members praying in 3 Eid grounds in Borno and the Lake Chad. Shekau conspicuously missing in the video but the 12 minutes plus was a narrative to prove that they still have huge followership and sympathisers to their quest to create an Islamic caliphate...
If indeed, Boko Haram still commands a huge followership and thousands of sympathisers across Northern Nigeria that are 'disappearing into the normal crowd' then the recent National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) needs to be proactive as we gradualky approach the final phrase of this whole saga to concentrate more on the soft approach of counter extremism management.
The National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) needs to address the issue of radicalisation and robust referral system adopting best practice from the UK Prevent Strategy and Morroco Intelligence based aporoach.
Until Nigeria security leadership concentrate on disrupting Boko Haram recruitment pool; they will continue to fight an unwinnable war. Nigeria military will kill one BH member that would be replaced by three new members brsinwashed to believe there have 70 virgins waiting for them in paradise and they are fighting a holy war.
How does Boko Haram recruit their members?
Is it possible to stop the recruitment process completely?
How do we identify vulnerable individuals receptive to that radical Islamic ideology?
It is possible to answer these questions and develop simple methodology to deliver this project....
Unfortunately, Nigeria Military is fully pre-occupied with the physical implementation  of the hard approach of the COIN and the other sister agencys like DSS, Police, Immigration and Customs do not have sufficient and co-ordinated capacity to add value to the ongoing war on terrorism when benchmark against world standard.
As we speak, Nigeria Prison establishment  does not have a comprehensive strategy to tackle radicalisation in Nigeria prison neither does Nigeria Immigration Service have a practical implementation plan to tackle birder security associated with terrorism.
There is no workable plan on transportation terrorism and Nigeria Rail Police are not fit for purpose.
So far, the steps taken under the dybamic leaders of Rtd Major General Mohammed Babagana Moguno, National Security Adviser, are impressive both the Rtd General needs more innovative and dynamic minds around him to draw up an effective security mapping in his quest to make Nigeria a safer nation.

Temitope Olodo is a Preventive Terrorism Expert, author and chairperson of Nigeria Diaspora Security Forum (NDSF) based in the United Kingdom

Temitope Olodo Esq.,
London, United Kingdom

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