Neglecting Lagos

By Eric Teniola
NIGERIA is not the first country to move its capital, but Nigeria must be one of the few countries that has abandoned its old capital.

L9Parana was the former capital of Argentina before it was moved to Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro was former capital of Brazil before it was moved to Brasilia,Salvador da Bahia was former capital before it was moved to Rio de Janeiro, Jauja was former capital of Peru before it was moved to Lima, Coro was former capital of Venezuela before it was moved to Caracas, Caparra was former capital of Puerto Rico before it was moved San Juan, Old Road Town was former capital of Saints Kitts before it was moved to Basseterre, Granada was former capital of Nicaragua before it was moved to Managua, Cartago was former of Costa Rica before it was to move to San Jose, James Town was former capital of Barbados before it was moved to Bridge Town, Russell was former capital of New Zealand before it was moved to Auckland, Levuka was former capital of Fiji before it was moved to Suva, Krakow was former capital of Poland before it was moved to Warsaw. Kragujevac was former capital of Serbia before it was moved to Belgrade, Kharkiv was former capital of Ukraine before it was moved to Kiev, Dares Salaam was former capital of Tanzania before it was moved to Dodoma in 1996, Nanking was former capital of the Republic of China before it was moved to Beijing, Kandy was former capital of Sri Lanka before it was moved to Colombo, Karachi was former capital of Pakistan before it was moved to Islamabad, Mandalay was former capital of Myanmar (Burma) before it was moved Rangoon, Calcutta was former capital of India before it was moved to New Delhi, Diriyah was former capital of Saudi Arabia before it was moved to Riyadh, Gondar was capital of Ethiopia before it moved to Addis Abba, Zomba was capital of Malawi before it was moved to Lilongwe, Aneho was former capital of Togo before it was moved to Lome,Bolama was former capital of Guinea-Bissau before it moved to Bissau and Al-Askarwas former capital of Egypt in centuries ago before it was moved to Cairo.

WelcomeThere are numerous examples of old capitals but none was abandoned by the central government, except of course, Nigeria.
On August 7, 1975, the then Head of State, General Murtala Ramat Mohammed (1938-1976) inaugurated a five man panel on the creation of more states in the country. The committee was headed by Justice Ayo Gabriel Irikefe (1922-1996). It was the panel that increased the number of states in Nigeria from twelve (12) to nineteen (19). Justice Irikefe later became the ninth Chief Justice of the Federation between (1985-1987).

Two days later on August 9, 1975, General MurtalaMohammed inaugurated another committee on the new Federal Capital for the country. The committee was headed by the former Chief Justice of Botswana, late Justice Timothy Akinola Aguda (1923-2001).

Dr.Aguda,who later became the Director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, was from Akure in Ondo state. Other members of the committee were Dr. Tai Solarin,Col, Monsignor Pedro Martins, AlhajiMohammed Musa Isma,Chief Owen Feibai, Dr.AjutoGandonu and Professor O.K. Ogan.

After the submission of the committee’s report, the Federal Government then enacted Decree 6 of 1976 which gave birth to Abuja as the new Federal Capital. In the 72-page report of Aguda’scommittee, it was recommended that Lagos has become “over congested” and as a result the Federal Capital should be moved out of the city for Administrative purposes. The committee recommended further that the movement to Abuja should be gradual and should be in seven phases. Drawing a lesson from the Tanzanian experience it was the contention of the Aguda committee that Abuja should be functional by the year 2025. It should be noted that the committee’s report was accepted by the Federal Government.

FLOOD 1.jpgOk.It was not until 1979 that Mr. John Jatau Kadiya was appointed the first Minister for Abuja. At that time the appointment was made just to facilitate the creation of Abuja out of Nassarawa, Niger and Kogi states. Former President Usman Aliyu Shagari replaced Kadiya with Irro AbubakarDan Musa in 1982 and later named Aliru Dantorro as Minister in 1983. The post became not too important at that time because Abuja was not considered a priority. Following the complete movement of the Federal capital to Abuja in December 12, 1991 by General Ibrahim Babangida (72), Lagos has been abandoned since then. Not a single block has been erected by any Head of State in Lagos. The city right now is like a car park.

The last biggest project so far executed by the Federal Government in Lagos, was the Third Mainland Bridge of 11.8kilometre built by General Babangida which is the longest bridge connecting the Lagos Island to the Mainland. The Eko Bridge which is the shortest of the three bridges, the other two being the Third Mainland and Carter bridges. It spans a distance of 430 metres and its landward extension of 1350 metres was constructed in phases between 1965 and 1975 during the tenure General Yakubu Gowon. The first Carter Bridge named after Governor Gilbert Thomas Carter (1848 -1927)was constructed by the British Government in 1901. After Independence, the Bridge was dismantled and redesigned and rebuilt in the late 1970s. The Alaka-Ijora flyover of the Carter Bridge was completed in 1973.

Governor Babatunde Fashola

Governor Babatunde Fashola

Since December 12, 1991, when General Babangida finally moved the capital to Abuja, we have had six presidential tenures.None has thought it fit to develop Lagos. The Interim Government of Chief Earnest Shonekan (26 August 1993 to 17 November 1993), General Sanni Abacha from 17 November 1993 to 8 June 1998, General AbdusalamAbubakar (9 June 1998 to 29 May 1999), President Olusegun Obasanjo (29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007), President Musa Yar’adua (29May 2007 – 5 May 2010) and President Goodluck Jonathan from 6 May 2010 till date.

It is to be hoped that Lagos with 5.8 million voters will receive the concern of the coming President of Nigeria. For Lagos is beyond the capability of any state government however prudent it could be.

 

Ascendancy of social media in build up to elections

• Remembering Orevba, the hero of 2011
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Few weeks before the general elections, the virtual social media space has been saturated by canvassers and cyber-warlords who have taken over the unregulated mass communication platform to run a vigorous, no-holds barred campaign either for change, as represented by General Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) or continuity as proclaimed by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Long before these blood-dripping and nail-biting crusades from both divides interrupted sanity and polluted the social media space, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, had in 2012 dismissed the pool of online critics as collective children of anger.

War 4In defense of his principal in a piece titled ‘The Jonathan they don’t know,’ Abati, feeling rattled from unending social media jibes hurled at Jonathan had branded the new media adherents as “the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, and the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria, who seem to be in competition among themselves to pull down President Goodluck Jonathan.”

But can these ‘children of anger’ be blamed for exploiting the channel the president himself elevated to state art when in 2010, he made a public ceremony of his signing up on Facebook and went ahead to publish a 360-page book titled ‘Goodluck Jonathan: My friends and I,’ which documented his conversations with Nigerians via the social media platform.

Explaining why he decided to open a Facebook account, considering the fact that a president should be too preoccupied with state matters to have less time for inanities like chatting, he responded that he was motivated by President Barack Obama of the United States of America and his novel use of social media network during his presidential campaign to stimulate new thinking on participatory governance across the world.

War 1Facebook is one tool of social media that allows for interaction between government and the governed. Opinions on issues, policy and governance can be expressed in an unedited, uncensored way by the citizens. While you used to wonder if your letter would ever get to the president, such doubts are eliminated through Facebook. The multiplicity of opinion, variety of thoughts and the engaging, argumentative nature of the posts are very essential to breeding understanding and building consensus in the democratic process. I love Facebook also because it allows me to get some information that may normally not get to me, having been ‘edited’ along the line,” he had said.

From the thousands of feedback and raw comments the president got from Nigerians, the one which stood out for particular mention after the president got elected in 2011 was the post from one Babajide Orevba, whose father, Emmanuel Bamidele Orevba, slumped and died jubilating Jonathan’s poll victory. It took the entire country by surprise, when for the first time in the history of inaugural speeches, the president on May 29, 2011, at the Eagles Square, Abuja, acknowledged the death of a 65-year-old Orevba, who collapsed out of enthusiasm and joy immediately he was declared winner, and died three days after.

Jonathan, in his address to the nation, had said: “Only a couple of days ago, I received an entry on my Facebook page. It was sent by Mr. Babajide Izegaegbe Orevba. He wrote to inform me that I had lost a great fan. That fan was his father, Mr. Emmanuel Bamidele Orevba. The deceased, the son told me, was no politician, but had campaigned enthusiastically for my ticket. Tragically, overwhelmed by the joy of our victory, he collapsed, and passed on three days later. I pray God Almighty to grant his soul eternal rest.”

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Late Orevba

Orevba’s commitment and love to President Jonathan started shortly after he became the acting president. A native of Sabongida Ora, Owan Local Government of Edo State, Orevba fell in love with Jonathan’s style of government and his determination to put an end to the epileptic power situation. He was said to be particularly impressed by the patience and maturity demonstrated by Jonathan when the controversies started over whether as Vice President, he should be allowed to act in the absence of his former boss, late Shehu Yar’Adua, who was hospitalized for over 90 days in Saudi Arabia.

Today, Babajide, a graduate of Psychology from the University of Ado Ekiti, who now lives and works in Abuja, has taken up the gauntlet from where his father left it to unabashedly campaign for the president’s reelection, using the same medium that brought him access to the president in 2011- Facebook.

Narrating how his father died, Babajide had in 2011 told The Guardian that, “three days to the presidential election in 2011, my father reminded us to ensure we all voted for Jonathan. We all assured him that we won’t do otherwise. On the day of election, before I went to cast my vote in my ward, which was a few distance away from his, I assisted him to check his name. On Sunday, he sat glued to the television monitoring as the results trickled in from the states.

War 5

Babajide Orevba

“By Monday evening, when it was obvious that the president was in a clear lead, my father’s spirit became high. At that point, if you demand anything from him, he would gladly do it. He always told us he never supported Jonathan because of getting an appointment in return. ‘Of course, I do not know him neither does he know me, but I believe in him.’”

“On Monday night, the situation changed. The family members were all in the living room when chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, declared Jonathan as the winner of the election. Out of enthusiasm, my father shouted but he collapsed. I quickly grabbed him but he could not hold himself so we rushed him to the General Hospital, Ikeja. At that time it was already Tuesday. He remained on admission till Saturday and was not able to talk before he finally gave up.”

Explaining how he posted the death of his father on Facebook, Jide said, “I have been a fan of the president on Facebook six months before the election and anytime I have any issue to comment on, I sent it to him through Facebook. So, when my father died, I published it on the president’s Facebook page just as I used to do without attaching any importance to it, but to my surprise, when he mentioned my father’s name in his inaugural speech, friends and neighbours started calling me to say the president just mentioned your name.”

“Until his death, his belief was that Jonathan’s presidency will fix the power problem in the country. I hope my father’s sacrifice would not go in vain. If it is only the power problem Jonathan can fix in the next four years, then he would have succeeded in making Orevba happy inside his grave.”

War 2For failing to make Pa Orevba happy in the grave, and many other promises not yet fully met, the president in the run-up to his reelection has courted the wrath of many ‘all-knowing crowd of Facebook and Twitter addicts.’ Surprisingly, the bandwagon effect of the social media population is queuing behind Buhari, who has now been renamed FeBuhari, as a riposte of the February 14 presidential election day, which across the world is lovers’ day and St. Valentine’s Day.

It must, however, be noted that the FeBuhari brigade are not having a field day on the turf. As the epic day draws near and Nigerians count down in trepidation, it is a harsh tag battle between the #IHaveDecided, #ThingsMustChange Buhari camp and the #OurGEJ, #ForwardNigeria, #NoGoingBack group rooting for President Jonathan.

With his more than 1,700,000 Facebook followers, Jonathan is the first Nigerian President to use social media to communicate with the citizens. Apart from using the online platform to tell Nigerians some of his achievements while in office, the President has been using the medium to seek the electorate’s support.

Every Facebook post of the president attracts thousands of likes and comments from his supporters and the opposition.

His party, the PDP, has just a little above 60,000 followers on Facebook and about 28,000 Twitter followers.

War 6Likewise, a few days after Buhari was elected to run against Jonathan in next month’s presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, he too took the campaign for voters’ support to the social media. In just few days after signing up on Twitter, the former head of state has gained over 70,000 followers and also commands about 100,000 followers on Facebook.

His party, the APC, with over 75,000 Twitter followers, has tweeted more than 8,000 times – seeking for the electorate’s votes, while some of them are also geared towards “attacking” the PDP. The APC seems to be using the service more frequently than the PDP, which has less than 2,000 tweets.

Meanwhile, Buhari has said he would create time to read through the comments and observations of his fans via his Facebook page as he contests against President Jonathan. “I take note of every comment, suggestion and feedback you give me. Please keep them coming. Thank you for your support,” he wrote on Facebook.

With the hue and cry over difficulty getting the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), it remains to be seen how this online battle will translate to victory for both feuding sides on Saturday, February 14. Whoever carries the day will be hugely indebted to the passion of the teeming mass of both virtual and physical combatants who sacrificed sweat and blood to make it happen. Who will be the next hero after Orevba?

 

Onalo: Unmasking Nigeria’s Mr. Credit

• How He Founded Credit Management In Nigeria
By Tope Templer Olaiya
Dr. Chris Onalo is not your usual Nigerian, who relishes in hugging the limelight, but he is definitely a man adept at multi-tasking. He is one of those very few individuals around who are known to possess more than one business call cards, as he is at present the Registrar/CEO of the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), President/CEO of the Postgraduate School of Credit and Financial Management which is Nigeria’s frontline credit management higher educational Institution for credit professionals, Managing Director/CEO of Credit Business Services (CBS), Director of Nigerian London Business Forum (NILOBF), and General Overseer of the House of God Fellowship Church (HGF).
While Onalo will go down in history books as the man who saw tomorrow and brought credit management to Nigeria just the same way Mr. Akintola Williams introduced accountancy to the country, the heights attained today began with small steps.
“Life is a journey from the known to the unknown. The unknown; is what makes it riddled with so many uncertainties,” he said while recounting how his voyage to become the doyen of credit management started. “You never can tell what is planned ahead. It is only God that knows that.”
However, the conviction to trudge along in the unknown path was triggered by a dream he had many years ago. “Whether you like it or not, human existence embodies body, spirit and soul. I recall vividly one of those dreams I had, I was on a journey and suddenly I came across two directional roads – the proverbial broad and narrow way.
“I came to that fix and paused for a while, then I heard a tiny, slim voice saying ‘keep going and take your right,’ which is the narrow way. Immediately I heeded the voice, I entered a ditch of thorns, and the more I was going, the narrower the pathway became. At a point I encountered a door opening to a seaside, I was a bit afraid of what lay in store beyond the door. I became fearful, but I had an uncommon courage to go on despite being alone except for the voice that kept nudging me to keep going.”
“I kept going. When I woke up, I knew I was in a tough terrain in Nigeria and that what I was doing to bring the culture of credit management was going to be a tough one. I had this dream during the period of then President Shehu Shagari’s austerity measure and the government propaganda then was this: ‘Andrew, don’t check out, stay in your country and let’s salvage it together.’”

Ona 2 Obviously, like the fabled Andrew at the time, Onalo was tempted to return to the United States of America, where he got his training in credit management. To enforce his conviction, he subsequently had other dreams, which instructed him to stay and help transform Nigeria from cash to credit system.
“I knew I had to tighten my belt to face up to the task. I didn’t know where it came from, but I suddenly had the power of creativity, resilience, patience and adaptability and all these kept me going when it was tough. Several people were discouraging me and advising that I should change course since our economy will always be cash driven and it will never change in the next 50 years.
“Besides, credit management is not in the educational curriculum nor in the knowledge skills of Nigerian professionals then, you will never read it in any university. It was tough for me. I received rejections from CEOs, executive directors and people who were not thinking beyond their present circumstance. I battled this frustration between 1983 to the early 90s.”
All these sacrifices came at a huge personal cost to ‘Mr. Credit’; one of which was that for most part of his adult life till date, Onalo has found it extremely difficult to keep any savings. “I couldn’t have any savings because I was running a graduate school of credit administration, which name was later changed to Postgraduate School of Credit and Financial Management. I also introduced the first magazine on credit management in Nigeria because it was strange to the media at the time; yet I needed a mass media platform.
“It has taken a lot from me. The struggle is no longer to put food on the table, but rather to institutionalize the virtues of giving, taking, managing and facilitating credit management in our private, public and national life. As a result of these, I have lived most of my adult life without savings. It was a tug of war to build my house and presently, I have no house in my village. If my mother of about 125 years drops dead today, I have no personal house in my village to keep my guests (he laughs).
“Secondly, the ICA, which I singlehandedly founded took me 12 years to scale through the legal processes because some indigenous professional institutes thought the only way to remain relevant was to ensure other professional institutes are not registered.

Ona 4“This was a major stumbling block, particularly coupled with the fact that you need to be cleared by the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation before an organization whose name begin with the word “Institute” can be registered in the country,” he added.
Today, the Institute of Credit Administration has become a formidable, highly regarded national body for all matters relating to credit management in Nigeria, imparting strongly on business credit stakeholders namely, credit givers, credit takers, credit facilitators and managers of credits, including public institutions which in one way or the other inspired the growth and development of credit economic system in the country.
Now close to his 60s, the only thing Onalo has known and committed his energy to is credit management. He sleeps, wakes, dreams and breathes credit management. With benefit of hindsight, he has seen how dangerous it is to live on a cash and carry system as a nation and from examples of other countries; he could spend hours elucidating on the benefits of a fully developed and robust credit system.
“Credit is basically taking something of commercial sense now and paying for it at a later date. The question to ask is what can I take now and make quick use of that can produce enough income to pay for it with the little interest added. That way, several job opportunities and wealth would be created. The option for any economy to grow is to put in place policies that stimulate people to bring out the best in them.
“Sadly, the huge number of banks and other financial institutions we have in the country have not translated to a robust credit availability due to some unfavourable government policies. In an ideal economy, bank loans would be easily accessible to SMEs to enable them grow the economy; since it is not the duty of government to be a major player in the generation of employment.
“It is the private sector and professional citizens that generate sustainable employment. It is against this backdrop that I am continually pressing the Nigerian federal government to take a bold step now to establish a well capitalized National Credit Guarantee Corporation to serve as collateral/security backbone to the nation’s SMEs for accessing loanable funds.”

Ona 3 Onalo has safely predicted that the future of credit management in Nigeria is extremely bright because no economy can survive without credit system. “Government policies may be very slow or not encouraging but there is a continual economy that factor in the truism that people must eat and engage in credit system to survive.
“A cash and carry economy cannot take Nigeria anywhere in terms of human and capital development index. The future is massive and the starting point is to build that foundation of credit line availability and access. It is not enough to have a cashless economy but it must be supported by a credit system,” he said.
After more than three decades of living his dream as a career credit economist, he was last month duly acknowledged as the Father of Credit Management in Nigeria and earned his nickname as Mr. Credit, when the London Postgraduate Credit Management College (LPCMC) in collaboration with its affiliate universities across the world appointed Onalo as professor of Credit Management.
In a statement, a copy of which was made available to The Guardian by the college’s International Programmes Director, Danette Gayle, LPCMC considers this a justified designation as Dr. Onalo has had great influence and profound impact on credit management profession in Nigeria and beyond.
“He has been quite instrumental to the establishment of a number of credit management development infrastructures such as his involvement in the setup of Nigerian Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), the Postgraduate School of Credit & Financial Management (PSCFM), Nigeria and African Director of London Postgraduate Credit management College UK (LPCMC). He has contributed immensely to the development of credit management faculties, which are largely used today by universities and other learning institutions around the globe.
“These strides cannot go unnoticed. LPCMC is honoured to have Dr. Onalo on board to share his level of expertise and vast experience in the credit management field and as an affluent role model for our students to emulate. Though his footsteps will be hard to follow, it will be an exciting experience for our students as they aspire to his level,” the statement added.

Ona 1Onalo is from Elele, Ibaji in Kogi State, but has gradually grown to become a very respectable world citizen, who has made so much contributions and commitments to the present world’s credit management industry.
A highly principled man with strong Christian orientation, Onalo will be remembered for his articulation in credit management, by solely spearheading contributions to the formation of critical infrastructures needed for the growth, development and professionalization of credit management nationally and internationally.
Such institutions include the ICA, which is Nigeria’s national body for the regulation and setting standards for people in credit management; and the Postgraduate School of Credit and Financial Management (PSCFM), the only specialist institution in Africa offering higher professional learning programmes in the field of credit management.
Chris, a much-sought after teacher of credit management and renowned expert in the credit guarantee scheme project with countless industry, individual and institutional friends around the world, holds a Bachelor of Science, Masters of Arts and Doctorate degrees in Credit Management.
He is currently designated African director of the prestigious London Postgraduate Credit Management College (LPCMC) UK, the first African to be appointed “professor of credit management” by the LPCMC.
He is the first to establish in Nigeria a company that provides credit and business information on company (Credit Business Services Global Ltd –CBS Credit); the first to publish monthly magazine on credit management (The CreditManager, Creditnews and CreditMarket); and the first to run ‘This Week Credit Business’ live programme on Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
All of these endeavours has strengthened and maintained Onalo’s strong advocacy voice in Nigeria’s credit economy, industry and market for best practices and policy reforms aimed at creating awareness, enhancing and promoting credit management profession not only in Nigeria but the world over.
Success, as defined by Booker Washington, is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, but by the obstacles, which he has to overcome. It is the obstacles, rather than the successes that define the journey of one of Nigeria’s unsung heroes today.

A dazzling, glittering welcome to 2015

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THE countdown has ended as we entered the New Year, and, in a few days time, it would be lights out for the dazzling Christmas lights that shone like diamonds in the sky on the streets of Lagos.

Christmas celebration in Lagos State before the coming of Governor Fashola’s administration was an okay one, albeit a bit dreary, save for firecrackers (knockouts) and a few Christmas decorations on a few houses. Though usually festive, it was largely an exclusive one for individuals and families.

L3L4However, in 2007, Christmas celebration changed forever in Lagos. For the very first time, the streets were given a glittery makeover by Ibidun Ighodalo of Elizabeth R, a leading Events Planning and Management company. It is a full service events planning, design and production company, creating extraordinary events and experiences for private and corporate clients.

Ibidun Ighodalo is renowned for her ability to transform mundane settings into exquisite spaces that serve as feasts for the senses. She is from the famous and affluent Ighodalo family who are an extremely powerful and successful bunch.

L11L8Her dream and vision of transforming Lagos into a fantasyland during Christmas season was ground breaking and laudable. It ushered in an era of goodness and goodwill for the state.  Christmas lights and displays adorned heritage structures, sites and parks, to brighten up the capital. Lagos twinkled with an array of Christmas decorations in all shapes, sizes and colours, giving our streets a festive sparkle.

Magical lights, ornaments, whimsical decor and displays, and garlands created a breathtaking spectacle. Lagos became a wonderland with a very distinct seasonal spirit, and the news spread far and wide. People came from all over to take in the enchanting sights, from displays of peacock inspired sets, to ships, dazzling lights and other exquisite ones. Christmas was no longer exclusive; it became an inclusive moment for all, and brought a sense of joy and amazement.

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Elizabeth R pulled out all the stops and Lagos wore on a modern and sophisticated look. This is the seventh year of putting up Christmas lights and it is bigger and better than ever. Under Ibidun’s direction, Lagos streets and sites are a masterpiece, and a beauty to behold.

We cannot imagine Christmas in Lagos without the Midas touch of Elizabeth R, it is now a collective tradition and one we look forward to celebrating.