Inside the toxic graveyard of Lagos

• Saving 21 million Lagosians from toxic waste
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
That Lagos, the commercial capital of the most populous black nation in the world, Nigeria, is the fifth largest economy in Africa is undisputed; what may not be known to many is that Lagos is also the world’s leading destination for toxic and electronic waste.

Only recently, the Koko community of Warri North Local Council of Delta State, hugged the limelight over a toxic waste dump, which is a repeat of the sad episode of the 1987/88 incident when two Italians – Giafranco Raffaeli and Renato Pent of the waste broker firms, Ecomor and Jelly Wax conspired with a Nigerian, Sunday Nana of Iruekpen Construction company to import from Italy, 18,000 drums of hazardous waste under the pretext of substances relating to the building trade, and as residual and allied chemicals.

The latest development is, allegedly, being perpetrated by a local company, Ebenco Global Links Ltd., an integrated waste management facility based in Koko. Already, the Executive Director of ERA/ FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, has called on both the Delta State government and the National Environmental Standard Regulation Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to immediately set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the recent dumping of toxic waste in Koko town.

But beyond Koko is the disaster waiting to explode in the beautiful city of Lagos. With a population well over 20 million, Lagos has a rich history of economic growth and transformation. Although it covers only 0.4th of Nigeria’s territorial landmass, making it the smallest state in the country, it accounts for over 60 per cent of industrial and commercial activities in the country.

Lagos has emerged as a major hub for the hundreds of national and multinational companies and the complex business and professional services that support them.

Koko toxic waste dump in Delta State

Inside this boisterous state, which is the seventh fastest growing city in the world, and the second largest city in Africa, is a thriving informal sector, fueled by a burgeoning secondhand culture. This has given rise to a web of intricate industries and mega-markets that are mostly import-dependent.

The disposal of computers and other electronic and electrical goods, known as e-waste, is a growing global problem, though junk electronics represent a quality raw material for waste processing industries, especially in the developing world.

It is, however, no news that many of these junk electronics find their way to some Lagos markets like Ladipo auto spare-parts market in Mushin, Computer Village in Ikeja and the International electronics Market in Alaba.

These products come largely in 40-feet containers.

“On average, a 40-feet container weighing 9.9 tonnes of used electronics can contain 195 pieces of TV, 94 pieces of computer (monitor), 230 pieces of DVD players, 322 pieces of video player, 249 pieces of pressing iron, 810 pieces of blenders, 113 pieces of microwave ovens, 106 pieces of HiFi, 616 pieces of radio, and 558 pieces of electric kettles,” a 2012 Nigerian country assessment report, which contains data for 2010, noted.

In 2016, the world threw away 91.5 million tonnes of electrical equipment. A tonne is the equivalent of a thousand kilogramme, which is about the weight of a small car. It is left to be imagined how many of these found their way to the Apapa and Tin Can seaports.

In 2005, it was estimated that 75 per cent of electrical and electronic goods imported into Lagos were junk, with e-waste accounting for 12.5 per cent of shipments in 2009. By 2011, 70 per cent of electronics imported into Lagos were second-hand and only 15 per cent of that was non-repairable.

This is a huge concern because dumped electronic consumer goods are, essentially, toxic waste. Old-style televisions and monitors contain lead and phosphorous pentachloride, printed circuit boards contain arsenic mercury and bromides, same as fridges.

Buried in landfill, broken up improperly or burnt, these toxins can be exposed to the air or leach out into the soil and water table, leading to a severe healthcare crisis.

In the European Union (EU), the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) regulations govern how e-waste should be treated and processed, and also restrict where it can be exported. For instance, equipment cannot be shipped to developing countries for recycling and recovery, only for reuse. They must be tested to show that they are fully functional and packed so that they are not damaged in transport, otherwise they are classed as waste.

Unserviceable TV sets at Alaba market, Lagos

In the second-hand markets of Lagos, little consideration is given to whether the item is tested or untested due to an abundance of local repairers. Equipment shipped untested is classified as e-waste, and so it is in the country illegally. They are usually shipped in containers hidden behind working goods, concealed inside a car, or falsely described as personal items.

With a very lax regulation at the port of entry, there is often poor treatment of toxic waste materials, leading to the release of hazardous chemicals that can harm both people and the environment.

Most consumers abroad making the journey to the local dump with their “e-waste” might expect their equipment to be disposed of properly and safely, even if they are unaware of the WEEE directive that requires the disposal or reuse of this waste without damage to the environment.

How has Alaba electronics market infamously become the final destination for thousands of tonnes of televisions, computers, DVD players and other electronic items that previously sat in homes and offices of European countries before being taken for disposal to a municipal waste site?

In 2010, following a tip-off from a local authority insider that unusable e-waste was being bought and sent for export, there was a joint investigation by The Independent, Sky News and Greenpeace all based in the United Kingdom.

A large television set, with the base cut away to render it beyond repair, was left at a Hampshire County Council civic amenity site by investigators.
Under the WEEE regulations, it should have been disposed of by a specialist recycler, but the set was bought along with other electronic items by BJ Electronics (UK) Ltd, one of about 200 companies and individuals who tour municipal waste sites in Britain buying equipment.

A satellite tracking device inside the television showed it was taken to BJ Electronics’ warehouse before being sold to another company, who loaded it onto a cargo container bound for export.

The economics of the illegal export trade are straightforward. A whole consignment can be bought for a pittance from a civic amenity site, most of which will be working and a proportion of which will not. The system is supposed to filter out the hazardous e-waste and allow a legitimate second hand export trade. But what is happening is that it is all being lumped together and sent abroad, where the working items are sold and the broken stuff just thrown away to cause pollution.

Within days, the container was loaded onto the MV Grande America cargo ship bound for Lagos, from where it was unloaded and delivered to one of the hundreds of secondhand dealers in Alaba market.

It was just one of up to 15 containers of used electronics arriving in Alaba from Europe and Asia everyday.

Prof. Osibanjo

Igwe Chinedu, leader of the Alaba Technicians Association, said of the 600 to 700 televisions in each container, about 250 do not work. “We find that for each container, about 35 to 40 per cent of its contents are useless. Of those, only 35 per cent can be fixed. The rest goes to the scavenger children at the dumpsite.”

Prof. Oladele Osibanjo, retired professor of analytical and environmental chemistry at the University of Ibadan (UI), former director at the Basel Convention Regional Co-ordinating Centre for Africa in UI and a board member of Sustainable Electronic Recycling International (SERI), United States, said: “We have about half a million used electronics coming into Lagos every month, and only 25 per cent are working. The volume is so large that the people who trade it burn it like ordinary refuse.

“We have done a lot of studies and we were able to show that all the cells where e-waste dismantling takes place are heavily polluted. You are not only dumping the hardware, but also hazardous substances.”

Osibanjo explained that the poisonous chemicals withstand high temperature and are eventually released into the soil and ground water. “Where you burn them, they are being released into the earth. When it is really raining, they will wash into rivers and so on. A Ph.D student of mine in Abuja went to dump sites where they also raise cattle. She was able to get milk from a cow and then we looked at chicken eggs and all eggs. We found them all contaminated.”

However, the respected analytical chemist, said electronic recycling, when properly done, could be a goldmine for Nigeria. In this regard, he advised the Federal Government to consider recycling old phones, computers and other electronics, saying it was a good source of wealth and employment.

According to him, there were about 250 kilogrammes of gold in one million phones, adding that with e-recycling the country would witness economic prosperity and massive job creation. He stated that the United Nations had acknowledged the wealth potential of recycling, noting that Nigeria would no longer have to bank on oil, as she would be getting gold and silver from e-recycling.

Osibanjo further stated that although plans were underway to attract investors into the country for the establishment of e-recycling centres, poor regulations suffocating business environment were impeding the efforts.

Underscoring the dangers of e-waste on the environment, a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 6, 2017, has revealed that one in four young children die each year as a result of unhealthy environments.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one—particularly for young children,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, in a press statement. “Their developing organs and immune systems and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

Beginning in the uterus, children are exposed to harmful environmental risks. According to the study, roughly 1.7 million children under the age of five die each year from factors that could have been prevented through addressing environmental risks, which WHO called “a shocking missed opportunity.

“Another category of threat to children’s health is emerging environmental hazards, including chemicals, electronic waste and climate change,” the report said. Electronic waste was “another growing concern”. When it is not disposed of properly, it can expose children to “a myriad of chemicals and toxicants, many of which are associated with reduced intelligence, attention deficits, lung damage and cancer”.

The import of e-waste from Europe into Nigeria is illegal by both European and Nigerian standards. Still, hundreds of thousand tonnes of illegal e-waste are imported annually into Nigeria. Despite local laws banning the import, inefficient enforcement still makes Nigeria one of the largest e-waste importing countries in the world.

The e-waste trade is illegal because Nigeria does not possess any organized e-waste recycling or dismantling facility. The mass deposits of e-waste are therefore left to be crudely recycled under hazardous conditions. This crude recycling of e-waste is toxic to humans and to the environment.

Intriguingly, it is not only the electronic secondhand markets that populate Lagos with toxic waste. Cosmetic manufacturing industries produce ignitable waste, flammable solvents, strong acids and bases. Printing industry dealing in heavy metal solutions, waste ink, solvents and spent electroplating wastes contribute its fair share to the toxic waste deposit.

Same with furniture and wood manufacturing and refinishing plants, which produce ignitable wastes and spent solvents; metal manufacturing firms producing waste containing heavy metals, strong acids and bases; as well as leather products manufacturing and processing firms producing benzene and toluene wastes.

Ladipo Market

Another notorious spot where heavy metal wastes, ignitable wastes and spent solvents are generated in quantum quantity is the Ladipo auto spare-parts market tucked between Oshodi industrial estate and Mushin city centre at Toyota bus-stop along Apapa-Oshodi expressway.

Like a cancer, the market, which has become a Grease Land, has grown in leaps and bounds, spiraling into every available space. As the motor spare parts merchants expand their empire, even the service lane of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway from Five Star to Charity bus-stop is not spared.

There are more than 30,000 parts in a car. There is none hard to find in Ladipo. In fact, there are several assembly points where vehicles are butchered into parts, and scraps brought into the country are remodeled into useable vehicles.

At the Grease Land, every section of the market is a beehive of metal merchants’ activities. Daily, vast stretches of the roads are converted to mechanic workshops, where cars take turns to be serviced. These artisans that have appropriated large parts of the road as adhoc mechanic workshops, carry out major assignments including replacing car engines and even spraying of vehicles right on the road.

Apart from thousands of importers of used electrical equipment making money off e-waste, the industry has also created a lot of jobs in the informal sector. Nearly 100,000 people are estimated to work as scavengers, people who pick the electronic waste from homes, dumpsites and other places.

Another 50,000 are estimated to work as refurbishers, repairing the ‘non-tested’, non-functional electronics. They make a living sweating to see that the imported waste can be repaired and have their life cycle extended.

Despite being illegal and hazardous, there is a craving for both e-waste and used electrical equipment among many Nigerians. The major reason for this, several retailers and traders said is economic. Most Nigerians cannot afford new products.

According to the United Nations Human Development Index, over half of Nigeria’s N170 million live in poverty. To enjoy the luxury of basic electrical and electronic equipment like fridges, TVs, and microwave ovens, most of them turn to the secondhand market. Besides cost, some Nigerians quite curiously feel the used products from Europe and America are of better quality than new ones imported from China.

“I’m even afraid of the quality of the new equipment coming into Nigeria, because you find out that most of these new equipment transforms faster into e-waste because of low quality,” said Segun Odeyingbo, an official of StEP Initiative, an organisation dedicated to combating shipment of e-waste to Nigeria.

“A DVD player can easily be designed to last you for six months, and then it has already turned into e-waste.”

In his reaction to the growing incidence of toxic waste being imported into the country, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Dr. Lawrence Anukam, blamed the rise in global electronic or e-waste scourge on technological advancement.

Anukam

Anukam, who spoke during a recent sensitisation workshop on the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for the electrical/electronics sector at the British High Commission residency in Ikoyi, Lagos, said the high technology consumption rate implies that sustainable production and consumption of electrical/electronics equipment would help control e-waste.

He explained that as a regulatory agency, NESREA is working with International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Lyon in France on issues of environmental crime such as e-waste, illegal wildlife business and trans-boundary pollution.

The programme provides alert system on any ship bringing in e-waste into the country and enable coordinate action with the customs and the Navy to arrest such ships. He said NESREA had developed 24 regulations which are sector specific, one of which is protect species of endangered wildlife from extinction through the prohibition of trade, importation, etc.

Other measures the country’s e-waste regulator has adopted to regulate importation of used electronics is by registering the importers. This is to ensure only functional used electronics are imported.However, a lot of the importers are still not registered, the Lagos State coordinator of NESREA, Nosa Aigbedion Dickson, said.“Some of them are trying to evade the process. We have a situation where someone just goes to, maybe, the UK, takes equipment from the road free, assembles them together, puts it in the container, and ships it down to sell the junks as untested. But we are trying to see how we can ensure that it is only registered dealers that are bringing used electronics.”

https://guardian.ng/features/inside-the-toxic-graveyard-of-lagos/

https://eniaroo.blogspot.com.ng/2017/03/inside-toxic-graveyard-of-lagos.html

FROM THE ARCHIVE: A Nation’s Identity Crisis

Reuben Abati’s Interesting Insights On Today’s Youth Culture…

This article dated June 22, 2009 is still very much relevant today

A Nation’s Identity Crisis
By Reuben Abati

You may not have noticed it: Nigeria is suffering from an identity crisis imposed on it in part by an emergent generation of irreverent and creative young Nigerians who are revising old norms and patterns. And for me nothing demonstrates this more frontally than the gradual change of the name of the country. When Flora Shaw, Lord Lugard’s consort came up with the name, Nigeria in 1914, she meant to define the new country by the strategic importance of the Niger River. And indeed, River Niger used to be as important to this country as the Nile was/is to Egypt. We grew up as school children imagining stories about how Lugard in one special romantic moment, asked his mistress to have the honour of naming a new country in Africa. Something like: “Hello, sweetheart, what name would you rather give the new country that I am creating?”

“Let me give it a thought? ….Awright, how about Ni-ge-ria darling?”

“That would do. That would do. How thoughtful, my fair lady? You are forever so dependable”

abatiAnd the name stuck and it has become our history and identity. But these days, the name Nigeria is gradually being replaced by so many variants, that I am afraid a new set of Nigerians may in the immediate future not even know the correct spelling of the name of their country. For these Nigerians whose lives revolve mostly around the internet and the blogosphere, the name Nigeria has been thrown out of the window. Our dear country is now “naija” or “nija”. What happened to the “-eria” that Ms Shaw must have thoughtfully included? The new referents for Nigeria are now creeping into writings, conversations, and internet discourse. I am beaten flat by the increasing re-writing of the country’s name not only as naija or nija, but consider this: “9ja”. Or this other name for Nigeria: “gidi”. There is even a television programme that is titled “Nigerzie”. In addiiton, Etisalat, a telecom company has since adopted a marketing platform that is titled: “0809ja.” Such mainstreaming of these new labels is alarming.

This obviously is the age of abbreviations. The emerging young generation lacks the discipline or the patience to write complete sentences or think through a subject to its logical end. It is a generation in a hurry, it feels the constraints of space so much, it has to reduce everything to manageable, cryptic forms. This is what the e-mail and text message culture has done to the popular consciousness. Older generations of Nigerians brought up on a culture of correctness and compeleteness may never get used to the re-writing of Nigeria as “9ja”. Language is mutatory, but referring to the motherland or the fatherland in slang terms may point to a certain meaninglessness or alienation. What’s in a name? In Africa, names are utilitarian constructs not merely labels. Even among the Ijaw where people bear such unique names as University, Conference, FEDECO, Manager, Heineken, Education, Polo, Boyloaf, Bread, College, Summit, Aeroplane, Bicycle, Internet – there is a much deeper sense to the names. But the name Nigeria means nothing to many young Nigerians. They have no reason to respect the sanctity of the name. They don’t know Flora Shaw or Lord Lugard, and even if they do, they are likely to say as Ogaga Ifowodo does in an unforgettable poem: “God Punish you, Lord Lugard.” Eedris Abdulakarim summarises the concern of young Nigerians in one of his songs when he declared: “Nigeria jagajaga, everything scata, scata”

The post-modernist, deconstructive temper of emergent youth culture is even more manifest in the cynical stripping to the bones character of today’s Nigerian hip-hop. It is marked by a Grunge character that shouts: non-meaning and alienation. On my way to Rutam House the other day, I listened at mid-day to a continuous stream of old musical numbers from 93.7 Radio FM. Soulful, meaningful tunes of Felix Lebarty, Chris Okotie (as he then was), Mandy Ojugbana, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Onyeka Onwenu, Sony Okosun, Alex O, Ras Kimono, Majek Fashek, Evi Edna-Ogoli, Bongos Ikwue, Veno Marioghae, Uche Ibeto, Dora Ifudu, Mike Okri, Dizzy K. Falola, and Tina Onwudiwe. Onyeka Onwenu sang; “One love, keep us together”. Veno Marioghae sang: “Nigeria Go Survive”. Even in the romantic offerings like Chris Okotie’s “I need someone, give me your love”, or Felix Lebarty’s “Ifeoma, Ifeoma, I want to marry you, give me your love” and Stella Monye’s “Oko mi ye, duro ti mi o”, or Tina Onwudiwe’s award-winning “Asiko lo laye”. there was so much meaning and polish.

This was in the 80s. That generation which sang music under its real names, not abbreviations or slangs, was continuing, after the fashion of T.S. Eliot’s description of “Tradition and the Individual Talent”, a pattern of meaning that dates back to traditional African musicians and all the musicians that succeeded them: S. B. Bakare, Victor Olaiya, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Dan Maraya of Jos, Osita Osadebey, Ayinla Omowura, Victor Uwaifo, Geraldo Pino, Rex Lawson, I. K. Dairo, Haruna Ishola, Yusuf Olatunji, Inyang Henshaw, Tunji Oyelana, Bobby Benson, Tunde Nightingale, and even the later ones: Shina Peters, Dele Abiodun, Y.K. Ajao, Ayinde Barrister, Kollington Ayinla, Batile Alake, Sir Warrior, Moroccco Nwa Maduko, Orlando Owoh, Salawa Abeni, KWAM I (Arabambi 1 and please include his disciples- Wasiu Alabi Pasuma et al), Oliver de Coque (Importer and Exporter…), Ayefele, Atorise …. But there has been a terrible crisis in the construction of music. The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of these ancestors have changed the face and identity of Nigerian music. As a rule, gospel musicians, given the nature of their form, sing meaningful lyrics, but the airwaves these days have been taken over by the children of “gidi”,”naija”, “nija”, “nigerzie” and “9ja”. I listen to them too, but everyday, I struggle to make meaning out of their lyrics.

Music is about sense, sound, shape and skills. But there is an on-going deficit in all other aspects except sound. So much sound is being produced in Nigeria, but there is very little sense, shape and skills. They call it hip-hop. They try to imitate Western hip pop stars. They even dress like them. The boys don’t wear trousers on their waists: the new thing is called “sagging”, somewhere below the waist it looks as if the trouser is about to fall off. The women are struggling to expose strategic flesh as Janet Jackson once did. The boys and the girls are cloaked in outlandish jewellery and their prime heroes are Ja-Rule, Lil’Wayne, Fat Joe, P. Diddy, 50 Cents, Ronz Brown, Chris Brown, Sean Kingston, Nas, Juelz Santana, Akon, Young Jeezy, Mike Jones, T-Pain, F.L.O-RIDA, Will.I.am, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, Keri Hilson, Jay-Z, Ace hood, Rick Ross, Birdman, Busta Rhymes, Cassidy, Chamillionaire, Soulja Boy, Young Joc, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Kevin Rudolph, T.I.P-king of the South, Ludacris, Plies-The real goon, The Game, Young Rox, Flow killa, Osmosis (2 sick), Flow-ssik, Raprince, Bionic, Fabulous, Jadakiss, Nas, Swiss Beatz, Dj Khaled, Maze, Yung Buck, Maino, MoBB Deep, Lloyd Banks, Olivia, Lady Gaga… Well, God Almighty, we are in your hands.

And so the most impactful musicians in Nigeria today, the ones who rule the party include the following: D’Banj, MI, Mode Nine, Sauce kid, Naeto C, Sasha, Ikechukwu, 9ice, Bouqui, Mo’cheddah, Teeto, P-square, Don-jazzy, Wande Coal, 2-face, Faze, Black Face, Dr. Sid, D’prince, K-Switch, Timaya, Dj-Zeez, Dj Neptune, Banky w., Big bamo, Art quake, Bigiano, Durella, Eldee, Kelly Hansome, Lord of Ajasa, M.P., Terry tha rapman, Weird MC, Y.Q., Da grin, kel, Roof-top Mcs, Pype, Niga Raw, Ghetto p., Kaka, Kaha, Terry G, Ill Bliss, Zulezoo, Pipe, Dj Jimmy jatt, X-project, Konga, Gino, Morachi… Well, the Lord is God. These are Nigerian children who were given proper names by their parents. Ikechukwu bears his real name. But who are these other ones who have since abandoned their proper names? For example, 9ice’s real name is Abolore Akande, (what a fine name!), Tu face (Innocent Idibia), Sauce Kid (Babalola Falemi), D’Banj (Dapo Oyebanjo), Banky w. (Bankole Willington), P-Square (Peter and Paul), MI (Jude Abaga), Timaya (Enetimi Alfred Odom), Sasha (Yetunde Alabi), Weird MC (Adesola Idowu). But why such strange names? They don’t sing. They rap. Most of them don’t play instruments, they use synthetic piano.

At public functions, they mime. They are not artists, they perform. They are not necessarily composers, they dance. The more terrible ones can’t even sing a correct musical note. They talk. And they are all businessmen and women. They are more interested in commerce and self-advertisement, name recognition, brand extension and memory recall! They want a name that sells, not some culturally conditioned name that is tied down to culture and geography. But the strange thing is that they are so successful. Nollywood has projected Nigeria, the next big revelations are in hip hop.

Despite the identity crisis and the moral turpitude that we find in Nigeria’s contemporary hip-hop, the truth is that it is a brand of music that sells. Nigeria’s hip hop is bringing the country so much international recognition. All those strange names are household names across the African continent, so real is this that the phrase “collabo” is now part of the vocabulary of the new art. It speaks to an extension of frontiers. In Nigeria, it is now possible to hold a party without playing a single foreign musical track, the great grand children of Nigerian music are belting out purely danceable sounds which excites the young at heart. But the output belongs majorly to the age of meaningless and prurience. The lyrics says it all.

Rooftop MC sings for example: “Ori mi wu o, e lagi mo”. This is a very popular song. But all it says is: “my head is swollen, please hit it with a log of wood.” X-Project sings: “Lori le o di gonbe (2x), e so fun sisi ologe ko ya faya gbe, ko ya faya gbe, file, gbabe, se be, bobo o ti e le, wo bo nse fe sa hale hale niwaju omoge, ha, lori le odi gonbe, …..sisi ologe ki lo di saya o, so fun mi ki lofe, o wa on fire o….” Now, what does this mean in real terms? But let’s go to Naeto C: “kini big deal, kini big deal, sebi sebi we’re on fire”, or D’Banj: ” my sweet potato, I wanna make you wife, I wanna make you my wife o, see I no understand o, cause I dey see well well, but dey say love is blind, see I never thought I will find someone like you that will capture my heart and there will be nothing I can do….”. Yes, we are in the age of sweet potato. And so Art quake sings: “E be like fire dey burn my body, e je ki n fera, oru lo n mu mi. Open your hand like say you wan fly away. Ju pa, ju se, ka jo ma sere, alanta, alanta.”

And here is Zulezoo, another popular Nigerian musical team: “Daddy o, daddy, daddy wen you go for journey, somebody enter for mummy’s house, person sit down for mummy bed, person push mummy, mummy push person, mummy fall for bed yakata, daddy, o daddy, the man jus dey do kerewa kerewa…kerewa ke” And Dj-Zeez: “ori e o 4 ka sibe, ori e o 4 ka sibe, 4 ka sibe, 4 ka sibe”. And MI: “Anoti, anoti, anoti ti, anoti titi.” And Konga: “Baby konga so konga, di konga, ileke konga, ju pa pa, ju pa, konga, ju pa pa, ju pa, sibe”.. And 9ice: “gongo a so, kutupu a wu, eni a de ee, aji se bi oyo laari; oyo o se bi baba enikan, kan, i be double now, aye n lo, a mi to o, gongo a so, oti so o, e wo le e wo enu oko…” Or Tony Tetuila: “U don hit my car, oyinbo repete, u don hit my car o”. Or Weird MC: “Sola lo ni jo, lyrics lori gangan, awa lo ni jo”. Sheer drivel. So much sound, little sense. Is this the future? Maybe not.

Most of the music being produced now will not be listenable in another five years and this perhaps is the certain fate of commercial art that is driven by branding, show and cash. But we should be grateful all the same for the music, coming out of Nigeria also at this time in the soul, gospel, hip, hop genre: the music that is of Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, Lagbaja, Asa (there is fire on the mountain/and no one seems to be on the run/ there is fire on the mountain now…”), Ara, Sam Okposo, Dare, Sunny Neji, Infinity (now a broken up team), African China, Alariwo of Afrika…. We suffer nonetheless in music as in the national nomenclature, an identity crisis. A country’s character is indexed into its arts and culture, eternal purveyors of tones and modes. Nigerian youths now sing of broken heads, raw sex, uselessness and raw, aspirational emotionalism. A sign of the times? Yes, I guess.

I find further justification in the national anthem, many versions of which now exist. I grew up in this same country knowing only one way of singing the national anthem: from “Nigeria we hail thee” to “Arise o Compatriots”. The singing of the national anthem is supposed to be a solemn moment. Arms clasped by the side, a straight posture, and the mind strictly focussed on the ideals of patriotism and nationalism. Stillness. Nobody moves. And the national song is rendered in an unchanging format. But not so any longer. There are so many versions of the Nigerian national anthem these days. Same lyrics but different musical rhythms. I have heard the national anthem sung in juju, in fuji, in hip hop, in Ishan’s igbagbolemini, in acapella mode, even reggae. I attended an ocassion once, the rendition of the national music was so enthralling, people started dancing. Even the photographers and cameramen danced with their cameras. For me that was the ultimate expression of the people’s cynicism. The prevalent mood is as expressed by Dj-Zeez: “ori e 4 ka sibe, 4 ka sibe”: an epigrammatic, onomatopoeic, market-driven diminution of language as vehicle and sign. What kind of people are we? A dancing nation? Dancing and writing away our frustrations and caring little about sense, in this country that is now known as “naija”, “nija”, “9ja”, “nigerzie,” “gidi”?

Strengthening Nigeria-UK trade relations

• Investors wait on Buhari’s policy thrust, cabinet
By Tope Templer Olaiya

It’s the end of the magical September that the nation waited for with baited breath for President Muhammadu Buhari to name his ministers and constitute his cabinet nearly four months after steering the ship of Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s biggest economy.

While the ship of state has sailed on undeterred amidst the wail song of political brickbat within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there have been strident calls for the present administration to kick-start its economic blueprint, first with the constitution of Buhari’s team of economic advisers.

Buh3This all-important subject was the kernel of discuss at the recently concluded United Kingdom (UK)-Nigeria Economic Forum organized by the Nigerian London Business Forum (NILOBF) in Kingsway Hall Hotel, London. With the theme ‘Partnership for Mutual Benefits, the Metrics that Matter,’ business managers, political leaders and representatives of strong business interests of the two countries met in a no-holds barred interactive session to espouse on the beneficial bilateral relationships between Nigeria and the U.K.

The key objective of NILOBF is to promote and attract trade and investments, support or oppose legislation or other policies and measures, capable of affecting trade, investment, and business between Nigeria and the U.K., as well as representing the opinion of Nigerian business community on those issues and the economy as a whole.

As the biggest economy in Africa, (and 26th in the world) in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and population of over 170 million, Nigeria offers a great investment climate and opportunities to investors from all spheres of life. Its re-emergent, though currently underperforming manufacturing sector, is the third largest on the continent, and produces a large proportion of goods and services for the West African region.

As a result, Nigeria wants to see the U.K. more engaged in trade and industry with it. The U.K. also wants to increase its trade and investment in the country. A target to increase trade between the two countries has been reset to £15 billion. The last, which is £8 billion, was easily achieved ahead of the 2015 deadline. The forecast for investors then is that the climate is set fair for partnerships for mutual benefits.

Pix 1While kick-starting the talk-shop, Maryanne Jemide, board member of NILOBF and publisher of Nigerian Watch, a U.K.-based newspaper, said there was the need for the two countries with a shared history to create partnerships that would achieve mutual benefits. “That is how business is done. This is the third year we have held this forum. It is one of its kind; Nigeria wants to do more business with the U.K. and we are the ones who can ensure that it happens,” she said

The snag, however, is that many British companies and investors, including the Forum, say their members are biding their time, and waiting to see what policy areas President Buhari will prioritize and who he will appoint to his cabinet to deliver those policies.

In spite of the delay in constituting a full cabinet, there have been some modest gains in the last 100 days of the administration. Since being elected, the president has acted in a way to give confidence to those seeking to undertake trade and investment in and with Nigeria. In pre- and post-election speeches, the president has assured investors that Nigeria’s core liberal economic policies will remain.

THE fight against corruption and leakages from the revenue account is underway. Plans have been announced to revamp agriculture and cotton output. The cost of government is being reduced, with the president and vice president leading the way by voluntarily halving their salaries and there has been improvement in electricity and power generation.
“Just imagine what Nigeria and Nigerians could do with constant supply of electricity. We would be the powerhouse of the global economy, a manufacturing powerhouse. Buhari’s government has suggested it is ready to privatise its transmission grid in line with international best practice. There is much potential for investment here to interest U.K. companies,” Jemide noted.

Continuing, she added that the need for diversification of the economy has never been more evident. “It is how Nigeria will tackle its chronic problems of unemployment and poverty, and these two issues, important in themselves, will help it tackle the big tumbling block to growth and investment: security. The situation is tragic, but our President has been rapidly building an international coalition force to fight the insurgency.

Pix 2While the problem manifests itself in the north of the country, the terror unleashed there is part of an international problem. Nigeria is too big, too strategically important to fail. We can be confident that this is a battle that will be won. We can be confident that Nigeria will flourish and the U.K. is Nigeria’s preferred partner.

Among those represented include the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Kano Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Abia Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Credit Business Services Global (CBS Credit), Nigeria High Commission, London, British High Commission, Lagos, UK Trade & Investment, Lagos, Exports Credits Guarantee Department U.K. and BEN TV.

In his presentation on the investment opportunities in Oyo State, governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, said in his second term in office, he was resolved to reposition the state to a fiscally functional, economically vibrant, socially harmonious and aesthetically delightful preferred destination for investors. He listed the priority focus of his administration as agriculture, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, real estate, building and construction, hotel and restaurants, and solid minerals among others.

In a passionate plea for more investments, the governor harped on his state’s potentials and opportunities, which he said are vast untapped farmlands and forest reserves, large pool of skilled and low-cost labour, proximity to Lagos seaports, key transport route between the Southwest and Northern Nigeria, key transport links to West African markets through its border with Benin Republic, high market demand for hotels and hospitality services and discounted land prices for establishment of businesses compared to Lagos.

From right: Dr. Chris Onalo, Director of the forum; Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, wife of Oyo State governor; Governor Abiola Ajimobi; Maryanne Jemide, Publisher, Nigerian Watch Newspaper, UK; and Alistair Sorodoye, CEO/Founder, BenTV, UK during the presentation of Honorary Member Award to Oyo State governor.

From right: Dr. Chris Onalo, Director of the forum; Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, wife of Oyo State governor; Governor Abiola Ajimobi; Maryanne Jemide, Publisher, Nigerian Watch Newspaper, UK; and Alistair Sorodoye, CEO/Founder, BenTV, UK during the presentation of Honorary Member Award to Oyo State governor.

The Nigeria High Commission in London also played a pivotal role in the success of the business forum. The combination of these two efforts goes to show how determined the two countries are to promote strong bilateral relations. Our aim is to provide the platform for excitement, enthusiasm, and satisfaction to the already established business, trade and investment relations, while charting the course for new possibilities and opportunities.”

Submission made by a cross-section of participants at the forum was that Nigeria’s economy has the potential to develop if President Buhari-led government takes the necessary measures.

Lead sponsor of the conference, Heritage Bank, admitted that though Nigeria’s relation with its trading partners is a mixed bag of risk and opportunities, Nigeria remains an investor’s delight despite the seeming unfavorable business climate such as insecurity, infrastructure deficit and slow pace of economic and political development.

Group Managing Director (GMD) of the bank, Ifie Sekibo, said Nigeria, though a middle income, mixed economy and emerging market, has the capacity for expansion in the areas of financial services, telecommunications, entertainment and other non-oil sectors with an ambition of becoming one of the top 20 largest economies by 2020.

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It is in this respect that I kindly introduce Heritage Bank as your bank of choice in determining where and how to make your investment decisions. Feeding off this, Heritage Bank has identified strategic partnerships in the offering of financial services, especially in financing projects to enhance infrastructural development. Amongst the key sectors currently focused include Telecommunication, entertainment, education, oil and gas, power and other priority sectors.

Within three years of operations, Heritage Bank has transformed from being a regional player to a top tier player through the recent strategic acquisition of a national commercial bank – Enterprise Bank Limited. Gladly, the market has responded positively to our value preposition albeit within a very short period of being recognised, as the most innovative bank, most customer focused bank, and a generational bank of first choice.

 

Strengthening Nigeria-UK trade relations

Nigeria ranked 5th in Global Terrorism Index 2014… It’s a very long road to Peace

By Tope Templer Olaiya

Rotary Peace Fellows Class 19 at the Rotary Peace Center, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Rotary Peace Fellows Class 19 at the Rotary Peace Center, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

It is Monday afternoon, June 8, after I had checked through custom and immigration before taking a peep up to inhale deeply Thai air and exhale loudly. It had been more than 24 hours when I last felt the sunshine, which was when I bid Nigeria bye at midday on Sunday, for the 20 hours flight to Bangkok, Thailand, with a three-hour stopover at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

From the airport to my exquisite accommodation at Room 2019, International House, Chulalongkorn University, it was a beautiful discovery of a new world of high rise buildings, alluring city landscape and fast-paced development, typical of the Asian world. I have my host counselor, retired banker and Past President of Rotary Club of Bang Rak, Sataporn Jinachitra, to thank not only for picking me up at the airport, but also introducing me to my first Thai meal, which was more than a memorable buffet.

Tope Templer

Tope Templer

Once I settled into my room, I had a whole day to relieve myself of the jet lag. The first 24 hours in Thai sped past like it was 24 minutes. Slept away more than half of it and spent the remainder connecting back to the world I left behind on social media, thanks to the free Wifi provided by the university.

On Wednesday morning, orientation classes for the Rotary Peace Fellowship began in earnest and I met for the first time 17 other Fellows selected from across the world, including two Kenyans, Moses Chavene and Mediatrix Shikoli. We were all lucky to be chosen as Class 19 of the three months Peace Program, which would be celebrating its 10th anniversary during our session.

We had two days of intense orientation about the program and living in Thailand. On Friday, it was fully devoted to the Individual Conflict Presentation (ICP) of all Fellows, which would be our project for the fellowship. Eight minutes of presentation and five minutes of discussion right on Day Three didn’t appear easy but turn after turn, each one had the chance to introduce the class to his or her home country and project.

Being welcomed into the fellowship by Past Rotary International President and former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Bhichai Rattakul, as PP Andrew MacPherson and Prof. Surichai Wun'gaeo look on

Being welcomed into the fellowship by Past Rotary International President and former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Bhichai Rattakul, as PP Andrew MacPherson and Prof. Surichai Wun’gaeo look on

For me, nothing else would matter than seeing an end to the mindless orgy of Boko Haram insurgency. Having shocked the world in a peaceful transition of government starting with a bloodless general election on March 28 and April 11 and the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, any thought of peace would be channeled towards taming the tide of the dreaded insurgents.

So, I discussed on the last six years of Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, with a special focus on the fate and future of hundreds of thousands of school-age children displaced by the terrorists in the three troubled Northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, particular the one incident that attracted the world’s attention and sparked global outrage, which is the abduction of Chibok girls. It was a subject I could relate to since by providence, I had in 2006, long before the bombings, did my National Youth Service in Borno and for 11 months lived in Baga – yes same Baga the Boko Haram rebels leveled last year and sacked soldiers from the Multinational Joint Taskforce – teaching students of Government Day Secondary School, Baga, English and Social Studies.

My Week One presentation

My Week One presentation

Looking for a fun way to start the presentation, I made reference to the theme song of the South Africa 2010 World Cup. Two songs were commissioned by two competing brands for the competition. Pepsi had Shakira do the ‘Waka Waka’ song, which means ‘This Time Africa’ but my favourite theme song was the one adopted by Cocacola and composed by Somali-Canadian artist, K’naan titled ‘Waving Flag’.

I re-echoed the song originally written for Somalia and the aspiration of its people for freedom:

When I get older

I will be stronger

Then call me freedom

Just like a waving flag

And then it goes back

   I now drove the presentation home by linking it to the bleak future of the thousands of children and older people littering various camps in northern Nigeria, whose hope of being free like a waving flag has been dashed and is almost irredeemable unless the wave of insurgency is arrested.

IMG_2114

The Global Terrorism Index 2014 findings are really scary, especially when you are outside looking in at the spate of violence caused by Boko Haram. Across the world, 7,958 people were killed in terrorist attacks last year, that is 61% more than the previous year and 82% of all deaths from terrorist attack occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. Luckily, we have among the countries Fellows from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine, and we all compare notes on the situation with terrorism in our home countries.

Last year, terrorism was dominated by four groups: Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS and Al Qe’ida. And what do these five countries have in common: Gross human rights violations, political instability, extrajudicial killings and rise of Sunni extremist ideology. It is really a long walk to world peace.

Peace Fellows listening with rapt attention

Peace Fellows listening with rapt attention

The situation is getting deadlier with the support the sect is getting from ISIS and the new dimension introduced by the sect where little children were used as human shield, suicide bombers and sex objects.

However, all hope is not lost and concerned citizens of the world interested in global peace and conflict resolution must collaborate to in waging a spirited war on the insurgents, so that in days and years ahead, we can have the transformative story of Pakistan’s Nobel Laureate Malala replicated in the lives of the troubled children of the northeast and together they can all blossom in fulfillment of freedom like a waving flag.IMG_2363

Receiving kind remarks from my host counselor, PP. Sataporn Jinachitra

IMG_2364

Short of words in retaliation

 

Peace Fellows in a group activity

Peace Fellows in a group activity

Thai 3

My first Thai meal courtesy of my host counselor, PP Sataporn

Buhari’s second coming and the audacity of Change

DawnBy Tope Templer Olaiya

THE dawn of change is here, after a long anticipated wait that lasted 59 days. Since the historic call made by former president Goodluck Jonathan to his successor on the afternoon of March 31 that simmered all post-election hostilities, all eyes had looked forward to today, May 29, with bated breath.
The transition was expected to be anything but smooth, considering that this is the first time in the nation’s history there would be a change of government from a political party to its bitterest rival. But it was a small hill to surmount for the people’s general, who had not only fought wars, but also swallowed the bitter pill of defeat, taking it in his stride after three straight routing in presidential elections.
The March 28 election was heralded with 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). In a never-seen-before manner, blood-dripping and nail-biting crusades from both divides interrupted sanity and polluted the traditional media and social media space.
It was therefore somewhat of an anti-climax for the curtain to have fallen on the general elections in such dramatic fashion, hours before the umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Buhari as President-elect in the early hours of April 1.

Saybaba The 72-year old president has returned to power 30 years after a military coup masterminded by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd), his then Chief of Army Staff, sacked him as Nigeria’s military head of state. He has also equaled national statesman, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s enviable record of leading Africa’s most populous country at twice.
Buhari has also made history as the first opposition candidate in the nation’s political history to dislodge an incumbent president from power. He had contested for the highest office in 2003, as candidate of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP); in 2007 as candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP); and in 2011 as candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Buhari is not a quitter, one virtue that would readily be required to salvage the country from the precipice of ruin. Defeated in the previous three attempts, he returned from self-imposed political retirement to contest for the highest office again, becoming victorious the fourth time, and bringing home the story of former United States president, Abraham Lincoln, who tasted several defeats at previous elections before getting to the Oval Office.
In 2003, Buhari lost to Olusegun Obasanjo in an election, which European Union (EU) observers reported was marked by widespread irregularities. He lost again to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007, which was widely condemned for rampant rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation.
After Yar’Adua’s death in 2010, Jonathan rose from being vice president to president and squared up with Buhari for the first time in 2011. Buhari had formed the CPC a year earlier, saying it was “a solution to the debilitating, ethical and ideological conflicts in my former party, the ANPP.”
BabAfter Jonathan’s victory in 2011, amid accusations of rigging, riots broke out in the North. Armed protesters took to the streets chanting Buhari’s name. More than 800 people were killed in the post-election violence. Buhari issued a statement describing reports of burning of places of worship a sad, unfortunate and totally unwarranted development.
Ahead of this year’s election, Jonathan and Buhari signed a non-violence pact, known as the Abuja Peace Accord in January. On March 26, they renewed their pledge and reiterated their commitment to “free, fair and credible elections.”
Very popular among the poor in the north known as the Talakawas, Buhari was able to dislodge the PDP, which had dominated the political scene since the end of military rule in 1999, with the aid of heavyweight defectors from the PDP but principally the triumph of people power, which like an opera orchestra, loudly chorused Change.
With his military background and spartan credentials, the ‘Change’ campaign was able to warm up to many Nigerians, who felt he possesses just what the country needs to get to grips with not only the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency in the north, but the financial recklessness that characterized the Jonathan years.
A Muslim from Daura in Katsina State, who has given his support to Sharia in the north, Buhari has previously had to deny allegations that he has a radical Islamist agenda. This posed a problem for him in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 polls, when he failed to secure much support among Christians in the south. But haven escaped an attack on his convoy in Kaduna in July 2014, which bore all the hallmarks of a Boko Haram assassination attempt, he has promised to end the insurgency within months.
Bab2In 1983, Major-General Buhari and Major-General Tunde Idiagbon were selected to lead the country by middle and high-ranking military officers after a successful military coup d’etat that overthrew civilian President Shehu Shagari on December 31.
In 1985, Buhari was himself overthrown in a coup led by Babangida on August 27th, and other members of the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC) were sacked ostensibly, because Buhari insisted on investigating allegations of fraudulent award of contracts in the Ministry of Defence.
His first sojourn in power was a period remembered for strict campaign against indiscipline and corruption. The verdict on the president’s first coming is mixed. About 500 politicians, officials and businessmen were jailed as part of a campaign against waste and corruption.
Some saw this as the heavy-handed repression of military rule. But others remember it as a praiseworthy attempt to fight the endemic graft that prevented Nigeria’s development. He retains a rare reputation for honesty among Nigeria’s politicians, both military and civilian, largely because of this campaign.
It is on this plank of untainted record that so much expectation has been dumped on the president by millions of Nigeria, including those who campaigned vigorously and voted against him. The burden of expectation is enormous at the least and outlandish at best. Something akin to turning stone into bread or water into petrol or as widely circulated on social media, making the dollar at par to the naira.
Buh3In summary, Nigerians expect Buhari, starting from today, to do all the things Jonathan didn’t do, and that expectations to be modest, is arduous.
In specifics, one Prince Ajibola Adebayo Odusanya expects the newly sworn-in president to do the following: restructure the power sector, sanitise the oil sector, create jobs for graduates, construct good roads, reduce salaries and allowances of senators, House of Representatives members and ministers, rebuild natural resources to make the country not depend solely on oil and revamp the educational system to standards attained in developed countries.
Buhari’s campaign was also fiercely anti-corruption. He ran to office under the slogan of “new broom,” the symbol of the APC as against the ruling party’s symbol of an umbrella.
The first litmus test for the Buhari presidency will be the colour of his cabinet, which will shape the direction of his administration. In this new age of political awareness where the voter is king, the president would not have for 2019 to know the people’s verdict. The change administration would be assessed right from its first 100 days in office.
The president’s 100 days covenant with Nigerians has been classified into several sub-heads, which include corruption and governance, insurgency and insecurity, Niger Delta, diversity, health, agriculture, management of the economy for prosperity, industrial relations, power, and youth and ICT development.
The first few sentences of the covenant on corruption and governance really excite Nigerians, where the president in a pre-election document had pledged to: “publicly declare my assets and liabilities; encourage all my appointees to publicly declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment. All political appointees will only earn the salaries and allowances determined by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC); work with the leadership of the National Assembly and the judiciary to cut down the cost of governance and present a National Anti-corruption Strategy.”
The promised change has arrived on a fresh clean sheet of unadulterated goodwill. How this open cheque handed to the president by millions of expectant Nigerians will be spent will be the defining moment of Buhari’s second coming and his place in posterity.

 

 

 

Towards strengthening Nigeria, UK trade relations in dire times

By Tope Templer Olaiya
GOING by facts and figures, Nigeria’s economy is in dire strait. The picture of a robust economy painted which rated the country as Africa’s largest economy with about $510 billion yearly Gross Domestic Product (GDP), appears to be cloudy, because reality checks and outlook have proved otherwise. There are cogent reasons to be worried. Reason: The exchange rate is today N228 to US$1; statutory allocation to federating units has plunged by about 50 percent, leading to delay in salary payments by state governments; and loss of over N4 trillion in foreign direct investment.
Nigerians were jolted to reality when last December, thousands of federal civil servants celebrated yuletide without payment of their salaries. This brought to the fore the burgeoning list of state governments owing salary arrears for several months and still counting.
The sliding fortunes of the economy was exacerbated by huge losses recorded recently in the capital market, where over N4.5 trillion portfolio investments evaporated in a couple of months. Indeed, economy watchers needed no rocket science to know that the rebasing testimonial of being the biggest economy in Africa was, perhaps a ruse.
Economic analysts have blamed this spiral downward trend on the devaluation of the Naira, which was government’s kneejerk approach to the crash in oil prices.
Managing Director/CEO of Juhel Nigeria and President, Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Dr. Ifeanyi Okoye, said the nucleus of the problem is the fact that Nigeria, despite its much-touted size, still operates a mono-economy, depending solely on oil.
“As the price of oil started coming down, our Naira started tumbling. This impacted the economy, as people have to re-strategise. As far as the pharmaceutical sector is concerned, more than 98 percent of raw materials used are imported. This has affected the prices of goods in the country. So, the prices of drugs will definitely go up a little bit. However, we believe it’s going to stabilise.
“Given the mono-economy nature of Nigeria, the government’s effort to decentralise the economy will definitely take care of the problem. By the time this goes full circle, the economy will become stronger. Nigeria, of course, has been trying to ensure that agriculture is not just about feeding ourselves but also exporting our products. The strategy of trying to make manufacturers stronger by making funds available at affordable cost is good; but we have to encourage the government to go ahead with that and make it permanent, not bringing it as an intervention.” he said.

Cameron and JonathanAmidst the hot air and tension that have characterized the run-up to the decisive general elections later in the month comes the window of opportunity for businessmen and investors to make a strong head start in 2015.
Despite drawbacks to business activities since the beginning of the year, which is not unconnected to the election fervor, the United Kingdom-Nigeria Economic Forum, billed for London in July 29, will set the tone for a fresh direction, weeks after a new administration would have been inaugurated in May 29.
The fourth in the series of the trade, investment and business conference held in London by the Nigerian London Business Forum, UK (NILOBF), is coming on the heels of a hugely successful Greater London Business Conference on Nigeria held in September last year.
NILOBF is the official business chamber and trade association, comprising Nigerian, British and non-British companies doing business with Nigeria and UK, including subsidiaries of Nigerian companies and institutions doing business in the UK. Investors, trading partners from around the world who are desirous of meeting Nigerian business leaders in London with a view to doing business in Nigeria forms a large chunk of the conference participants.
The NILOBF’s key objective is promoting and attracting bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries by bringing together business people from Nigeria and the UK, who seeks new investment opportunities, develop long-term business relationships and finalise existing business deals.
Running with the epithet ‘Meet in London, do business in Nigeria’, the event seeks to provide the platform for serious networking with potential Nigerian, British, and global business partners and investors.
According to the country director of the forum in Nigeria, who is also the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Prof. Chris Onalo, “organisations that oil the wheels of the economy in areas of commerce and industry, trade and investment, such as export credit guarantee agencies, major project funders and loan providers, high-profile agencies responsible for growing and connecting businesses to top commercial opportunities are among the prime business entities NILOBF is bringing together for the July 29 event.”

From right: Dr. Chris Onalo, Director of the forum; Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, wife of Oyo State governor; Governor Abiola Ajimobi; Maryanne Jemide, Publisher, Nigerian Watch Newspaper, UK; and Alistair Sorodoye, CEO/Founder, BenTV, UK during the presentation of Honorary Member Award to Oyo State governor.

From right: Dr. Chris Onalo, Director of the forum; Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, wife of Oyo State governor; Governor Abiola Ajimobi; Maryanne Jemide, Publisher, Nigerian Watch Newspaper, UK; and Alistair Sorodoye, CEO/Founder, BenTV, UK during the presentation of Honorary Member Award to Oyo State governor.

A cheery development, which would be explored at the conference, is the promise by the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to work together to attract more investments into Nigeria. This was made known recently during a send-forth luncheon organised by NBCC in honour of the outgoing Director of UK Trade and Investment  (UKTI), Mr. Mike Purves in Lagos.
President of NBCC, Adeyemi Adefulu, said the relationship between NBCC and UKTl had evolved, adding that the two bodies were committed to attracting more British companies into Nigeria. He noted that Nigeria has image problem and that Purves, through UKTI, had worked with the chamber in promoting business opportunities in Nigeria by encouraging UK companies to look beyond the challenges in the country.
Purves described Nigeria as one of the best destinations for business with its position as the biggest economy in Africa. He said Nigeria’s major resources are not oil and gas but its human resource and diversity.
Nigeria’s relation with its trading partners across the world is a mixed bag of risks and opportunity. Often touted as Africa’s biggest economy, though ranked 26th in the world in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) after rebasing, and with an over 167 million population, the country still remains an investor’s delight in spite of seemingly unfavourable business climate like insecurity and infrastructure deficit.
Nigeria is a middle-income, mixed economy and emerging market, with expanding financial, service, communications and entertainment sectors with eyes set on potentially becoming one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020.
Its re-emergent, though currently under-performing, manufacturing sector is the third-largest on the continent, and produces a large proportion of goods and services for the West African region. As a result, it is a busy hub for business activities.

Ona 2

Prof. Chris Onalo

One of its biggest trading partners is the United Kingdom. Presently, Nigeria is UK’s second largest trading partner in Africa after South Africa. The drive for improved trade and economic relations was the kernel of discourse at the Greater London Business Conference on Nigeria last year, the epic event that was put together by the prestigious Nigerian London Business Forum in UK.
With the theme ‘Nigeria in the MINT’, the conference had in attendance government agencies and Nigerian companies drawn from various local chambers of commerce. The term, MINT – Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey – was originally coined by Fidelity Investments, a Boston-based asset management firm and popularized by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, who predicted the MINT countries as the next most powerful economic bloc.
Onalo, the renowned professor of credit management in his presentation at the conference, urged the Nigerian government to work closely and pragmatically through its relevant agencies with the British government with a view to creating further improvement on efforts to remove needless obstacles perceived to be seriously hindering a robust business, trade and investment engagements of business people of the two countries.
There is need for the government of the two countries to make less stringent, special requirements to be met by business people for business visa applications so that the people in the two countries can easily and frequently meet and interact with each other in order to encourage appreciable economic, trade and investment expansions between the two countries.
For instance, conscious, stimulating and industrious effort was made by the Late Peter Carter, British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria in a meeting which was co-ordinated by the Nigerian London Business Forum (NILOBF) at the British Residence in Kaduna (Lord Lugard’s House) in 2014 to re-lunch bilateral relations between the British High Commission in Nigeria and the chambers of commerce of both Kaduna and Kano states.
The incidence of Visa Denial of members of the chambers of commerce of both states by the British High Commission and to avert a possible reoccurrence in the future was a critical part of the agenda of that meeting. He expressed regret at the experience of those members of the Chambers of Commerce (from both Kaduna and Kano States), who were denied visa to attend the last Nigerian London Business Forum (NILOBF) trade and investment conference in London, United Kingdom, and apologized on behalf of the British government.

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.