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Opinion

The many silver linings of Tinubu’s 7 months in office

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By Bayo Onanuga

 

The removal of fuel subsidy and the move to merge foreign exchange rates, two headline reforms introduced by the Tinubu administration since late May, triggered problems such as high fuel prices and the depreciation of the Naira, two monstrosities which combined to cause a general spike in costs of services and goods.

Today, many Nigerians complain of a rise in the cost of living.

According to the latest NBS report, Nigeria’s inflation, which rose to 26.7 percent in September, again rose to 28.2% in November from 27.33% in October. Food Inflation remains untamed, rising from 31.52% in October to 32.84% in November 2023.

To compound the economic problems, few multinational companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble have announced their exit from our country, complaining about the difficult operating environment and the scarcity of dollar.

The truth is that the new policies alone are not solely responsible for the economic problems we are facing today. We were destined for the tough and rough patch, where we are today because of the prevailing conditions before Tinubu took over on 29 May.

As at June 2023, budget deficit was N10.8 trillion. Actual Debt service was 98.95 percent of revenue, far higher than the projected 59.37 percent. Inflow into the country’s foreign reserve came in trickles. And so bad was the state of affairs that Nigeria could not remit about $800 million fund of foreign airlines. JP Morgan exposed our near insolvency by claiming in a report that our net foreign reserve was just about $3.7 billion, not the $33 billion plus flaunted by Emefiele’s CBN.

President Tinubu, who promised during the campaign to take hard and difficult decisions, moved to tackle the economic problems from Day One, by first dispensing with the wasteful fuel subsidy that was billed to consume about N7trillion this year, five times more than what was provisioned for capital spending.

President Tinubu is quite aware of the side effects of his move to reset our economy. Though his administration has earned plaudits from the World Bank, the IMF and rating agencies such as Moody’s and Fitch, he is not carried away by the praises.

He is focussed on turning the economy round for growth, development and prosperity.

The moves are yielding some good effects. Amidst what some sections of the media perceive as general gloom, some silver linings are emerging, signposting that with a little more patience, our material conditions will improve and inflation will be tamed. For businesses, operating conditions will also improve.

In its third quarter report for the year, the NBS reported that GDP grew by 2.54percent. In a similar period in 2022, GDP recorded a growth of 2.25%. To demonstrate that the sun may be shining on us again, the 2.54% GDP growth recorded in Q3, was also higher than the 2.51% recorded in Q2.

The service sector, made up of information and communication, financial and insurance, was responsible for the growth witnessed in Q3. It had a 3.99% growth, contributing 52.7% of the aggregate GDP. The agriculture sector declined from 1.34% growth in Q2 to 1.3percent in Q3.

Growth was also recorded in construction and real estate, metal ores(69.76%), coal mining(58.03%), chemical and pharmaceutical products(6.77%), Cement(4.2%) and construction(3.89%). Oil reported a negative growth of 0.85%, a major improvement to the negative 22.67% recorded at the same period last year. It was -13.43 in Q2 of 2022. The improvement in the oil sector and its contribution to GDP has been attributed to the improvement in the security of oil infrastructure and operations, leading to increased production. Going forward in this Q4 and 2024, the NNPC Limited is confident that the sector will continue to climb the curve.

In the same Q3, according to NBS, the Industrial sector grew by 0.46%, an uptick compared with Q3 2022, when it had a negative 8% growth, even in the era of P&G and GSK exit.

An interesting revelation in the NBS Q3 report was the big jump in the volume of trade, from N12.16 trillion in Q2 to N18.8 trillion. Trade volume in the same period in 2022 was N12.28 trillion. We also recorded a trade surplus of N1.89trillion in Q3, an increase from the N708.8 billion in Q2 2023. In Q3 in 2022, we recorded trade deficit of N409.39 billion.

Value of exports in the third quarter was N10.35 trillion, far higher by 60.78 percent than the N6.44 trillion posted in Q2 2023. Crude oil dominated the export, accounting for 82.5 percent, a confirmation that our country is pumping out more oil for export unlike the previous years.

Just as our exports increased, imports also increased, rising from N5.73 trillion in Q2 2023 to N8.46 trillion in Q3, a rise of 60.8 percent. The imports recorded in the quarter was also higher in value compared to Q3 2022, which was N6.34 trillion.

As the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu noted in a recent report, economic prosperity in our country will be achieved with the reforms being implemented, supported by strong monetary and fiscal policies, food supply management and other intervention programmes.

President Tinubu who has never shied away from acknowledging the temporary pains triggered by the reforms, gave an assurance in a recent newspaper interview that his Administration will continue to take proactive measures to wrestle with the problems. Many of these measures are already being taken and in the New Year, we expect the silver linings, that are at present understated, to blossom into rays of sunshine to be experienced by all Nigerians.

Onanuga is the special adviser Information and strategy to President Bola Tinubu

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Opinion

Hajiya Rakiya: The Predicament of ICT Guru at CBN

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By Yushau A. Shuaib

Upon completing the routine security check, we ascended to the impressive Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) complex in Abuja. Led to a spacious yet modest hall where an event was unfolding, we found seats beside a woman modestly dressed in a Muslim Hijab. She greeted us warmly and invited us to sit beside her. Her humility and warmth immediately put us at ease.

We initially assumed she was a guest or another participant at the briefing. However, as we discussed the media industry, she listened intently, nodding in agreement. When she finally spoke, her insightful comments on disruptive technologies and their impact on the communication industry left us in awe. Her deep knowledge spanned online streaming services, virtual events, and redefining audience engagement through innovation, leaving us with a profound respect for her expertise.

She elaborated on how blockchain, 5G networks, and artificial intelligence facilitate secure, faster connectivity and interactive experiences with enhanced royalty management. Beyond aiding in content generation and personalisation, she noted media production is becoming increasingly democratised. Moreover, she ‘schooled’ us on the latest technological tools for fact-checking, cybersecurity, and digital journalism—all without a trace of arrogance or pomposity.

As the event concluded, we offered our printed business cards. In response, she shared her digital business card. Scanning the QR code revealed her identity: Hajia Rakiya Shuaibu Mohammed, the Director of Information Technology at the Central Bank of Nigeria. This position speaks volumes about her expertise and influence in the field.

Curiosity drove me to search for her profile upon leaving. What I uncovered was astounding. Despite not being a celebrity tech expert paraded on social media or television, she is an extraordinary IT specialist. Former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele described her as such, having promoted her from Head of Information Security Management after a rigorous selection process.

In his remarks at the eNaira Hackathon Grand Finale in Abuja in 2022, Emefiele, the then CBN Governor, credited the success of Africa’s first central bank digital currency partly to Hajiya Rakiya. He admitted to underestimating her suitability for the Director of Information Technology position, initially preferring a male candidate. He said, “I must single her out. When she was considered for the director role, I initially doubted. I was thinking.. I’m Sorry, ladies, please forgive me. I said a lady IT Director. I went back and began to read her CV. She is a First-Class computer science graduate, a brilliant erudite lady from Northern Nigeria, and a chartered accountant. I said you could not have a better person as head of IT for Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Her academic and professional accolades are extensive. Rakiya was the Head Girl of the Federal Government Girl College, Bakori, and the Best Graduating Student in 1982. She obtained a First-Class degree in Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in 1987, followed by a Master’s degree in Information Systems Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1994. She has also attended executive education programs at Harvard University and Oxford University.

Rakiya’s professional journey spans over 25 years across the financial, telecommunications, and technology sectors. Before her promotion to IT Director at the CBN, where she spearheaded and implemented the Industry Security Operation Centre (NFICERT) and Africa’s first Digital Currency, Rakiya had headed the System Services and Information Security Management (CISO) Division of the bank, where she modernised the IT infrastructure and introduced innovative solutions like video conferencing. She had developed and implemented robust information security strategies, maintaining ISO 27001 certification and ensuring zero major security incidents.
Previously, she was Head of Strategy and IT at Galaxy Backbone Plc (2009-2011), CIO at Premium Pension Limited (2005-2008), Deputy General Manager (IT) and CIO of NITEL (2003-2005), and Head of Branch Banking Systems in the Northern Region of Continental Merchant Bank (1988-1995).

She holds numerous certifications, including Lean Process Practitioner, Certified IT Business Manager, Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), Certified Enterprise and Solution Architect, Certified IT Governance Professional (COBIT, CGEIT), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Chartered Accountant (ICAN) and Honorary member of the Certified Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

On May 16, 2024, she made an outstanding presentation to the CBN board on maximising the utility of current IT facilities. However, a week later, despite her impressive background, certifications, and contributions to the bank, Rakiya has become one of the victims of an inexplicable spate of officers retrenched by the current CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso.

Here is a woman who has contributed immensely by ensuring increased revenue, reduced costs, and improved security in various organisations she had worked for and could just be retired due to political exigency.

It is perplexing to understand the rationale behind retrenching such highly qualified and integral personnel among several others in that bank, especially considering the ongoing appointments of external consultants. If retaining and promoting the best within the service is not prioritised, what justifies these replacements with outsiders?

Yushau A. Shuaib is the author of “Award Winning Crisis Communication Strategies.” yashuaib@yashuaib.com

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Opinion

Prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship: Why Nigerians must shift from white collar jobs

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Yusha’u Hamza Kafinchiri

 

As Nigeria continues to grapple with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and economic stagnation, it is imperative that citizens shift their focus towards a proven model of success – skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
China’s remarkable economic transformation serves as a shining example of what can be achieved through a concerted effort to develop vocational skills and encourage entrepreneurial spirit. With a population of over 200 million Nigeria is a thriving market to accommodate it’s talent’s productivity.

For too long, Nigeria has been plagued by a culture of white-collar job seekers, relying on government employment and certificates rather than skills and innovation. This mindset has perpetuated laziness, mediocrity and a lack of innovation. It is time for an active paradigm shift. Governments at all levels must work truthfully on this model leveraging on the power of education and training in producing producers of good and services.

By prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, Nigerians can:

-Develop practical skills in various trades, such as technology, manufacturing, and services to remain independent
-Create jobs and stimulate economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship
-Reduce reliance on government employment and break free from the shackles of white-collar mentality currently wrecking havoc on government efforts to hold to it’s services.
-Increase productivity and competitiveness, driving economic progress at all levels of learning.

Let Nigerians learn from China’s example and strive to build on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, as the drivers of their own destiny and the architects of a prosperous Nigeria.
Let the mindset of Nigerians change for good.

 

Kafinchiri,  is a Director monitoring and evaluation, Ministry of Education, Kano State. 

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Opinion

Emirs are not Kings!

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Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

Sunusi Umar Sadiq

 

The drama surrounding the restoration of a single Kano Emirate, which has hitherto been balkanised, and the reinstatement of Muhammadu Sanusi II as its emir is still unfolding. Yet, as always, there are many issues of interest that may need to be discussed even before the events fold up completely. One such issue is the question of chronology, that is whether the reinstated emir will now be referred to as the 14th, 16th or even 59th emir of Kano, the last mentioned counting from Bagauda, the first of the kings of the Kano Kingdom.

I have little or no problem with MSII being referred to as the 14th or even the 16th emir. It will just be an additional confusion upon the existing one. It is, nonetheless, a matter for historians to decide though the semantics is clear that reinstatement is a carry-over from the past, not a fresh beginning. In other words, when a person is reinstated to the position he once occupied but for whatever reason got removed therefrom, the interregnum is considered as an aberration. Moreover, it is the individual ruler that counted, not the period he occupied as it is the ruler that defines the era not vice-versa. This is perhaps encapsulated in the well-known Hausa saying of Sarki goma, zamani goma. And the extant sources we have, as far as I know, never assign a new chronology to a reinstated ruler obviously due to the contradiction that will cause when a headcount is taken.

There is a problem, however, to reckon the reinstated emir as the 59th King of Kano for the simple reason that the Kano Kingdom ceased to exist in 1807 when the last King of Kano, Muhammadu Alwali, was overthrown by the Fulani. A kingdom is independent and the king is sovereign. An emir, however, is subordinate to a higher authority to which he owes allegiance and must remain loyal for him to retain his post. He is no more than a Military Administrator under a military junta.

The Fulani turned Kano into an emirate, as they did to other Hausa States, thereby making it an appendage of Sokoto with the emir being in his post at the pleasure of the Supreme Ruler in Sokoto. Late Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman did well in bringing out these distinctions between emirates and kingdoms in his seminal doctoral research published as The Transformation of Katsina (1400 – 1883): The Emergence and Overthrow of the Sarauta System and the Establishment of Emirate.

Late Bala identified at least five distinct epochs in the case of Katsina, which is very much the same as the rest of the Hausa States. The epochs as identified are the period of the autonomous garuruwa and birane, with no overall head, only the occupational heads or guild chiefs with the Sarkin Noma as the primus inter pares. The second period saw the emergence of the Sarauta System. Then the third period, which he called the Jama’a Period, by which he meant the period immediately after the Fulani Uprising. The fourth period is the emirate period in which the authority is centred around the emir as a lieutenant of the Caliph in Sokoto. The fifth is the Native Authority System ushered in by the British Colonialists.

The impropriety of adding a Fulani emir to the list of the Hausa Kings becomes more manifest when we call to mind that the successor Hausa States of Gobir in Tsibiri, of Katsina in Maradi and of Zazzau in Zuba/Abuja (now Suleja) continue with their king-lists as it is not seat of a kingdom that defines that kingdom but the historicity and historical consciousness of the people involved. Duk inda Shehu ya ke nan ne Borno.

If we take Zazzau Suleja as an example, the current king is the 68th on the list, a list in which all the Fulani Emirs of Zazzau from Mallam Musa to Amb. Ahmad Bamalli cannot justifiably be placed. The Fulani are therefore free to make up their own “emirlist” so as to ensure historical coherence.

The problem with Kano is that unlike its sister states or kingdoms, the overthrown Hausa ma su sarauta did not establish a successor state anywhere. Why that happened is borne out by a number of factors which will be a topic for another day. Nonetheless, the sanctity of history has to safeguarded and respected. The Sarakunan Hausa were absolute monarchs. They did not have to curry the favour of some other ruler for them to remain on the throne or to secure the position for their offspring in the event of their passing. Moreover, the Hausa Kings were the fountain of the law and justice. They did not need a court order to maintain them on the throne or ward off their contenders.

Sadiq writes from Kano. He is the President of the Hausa Historical Society. He can be reached via hausahistoricalsociety@gmail.com

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