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Ibeto: An Enthralling Story of an Achiever

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By Ingram Osigwe

If you are 13 years old and in your mind’s eye, you were already seeing yourself among vivacious crowd of age mates resplendent in their forget-me-not secondary school uniforms, chattering away heartily in a classroom, and just when that dream was about to berth on the shores of reality, your own biological father rudely abort it, what will you do? Crestfallen and disappointed, will you turn your back on life and bemoan your fate for ever?
Some people with fickle spirit will. But the likes of Dr.Cletus Madubugwu who are made with sterner stuff and blessed with a can do spirit that does not yield to despair will soldier on with life, turn the disappointment into a blessing in disguise and later in life have an inspiring story to tell.
And that was the exactness of what the then young Ibeto did when his dream for secondary education crashed on January 22, 1966.
On that day, the young lad was in high mood. He looked forward to a new and exhilarating life as a fresh student of Crusader Secondary School, Isingwu Amachala, Umuahia.
Gaily dressed in his school uniform and armed with his school box, Ibeto was set to depart for Umuahia to begin a life as secondary school student and then suddenly his father made a shattering proclamation that would leave hot tears cascading the young man’s cheeks, crestfallen, disappointed and embittered: He was to make a detour to trading rather than education.
There and then, Ibeto was parceled, willy nilly, to Onitsha to begin apprenticeship in auto spare part szas a trader under the tutelage of one Akamelu.
And so began his journey through life’s pumpy road which would dramatically signpost his subsequent rise to the top.It will be safe to say that Ibeato’s eventual road to prominence was watered by grit- determination to succeed and excell after a devastating and unsettling dream crash.
Fifty- four years down the lane, Ibeto has not only shrugged off that initial life hiccup but he has also left bold imprints on the sands of time.
His zero to hero story typifies the rise of the proverbial Phoenix.From grand zero, Ibeto has built a multi- billion dollars business conglomerate, the Ibeto Group, spanning real estate, Petro-chemical, cement, Auto parts, hospitality, oil, commodity trading among others.
Naturally blessed with business acumen and fecundity of ideas, Ibeto’s apprenticeship on auto- spare part was abbreviated by the civil war. He was himself a combatant in the war having joined the Biafran Army at the outbreak of hostilities.
Surviving the war by the whiskers, he launched himself back into the world of trading at the end of hostilities. Thus, at the end of the civil war in 1970 Ibeto was already an enterprising young businessman. Ingenious and enterprising, Cletus Ibeto had started his business career in 1970 stepping into what has now become a massive business dream with the establishment of Ibeto Brothers Trading Company as its sole proprietor.
However, his major business break came during the administration of president Shehu Shagari, profiting massively from a policy change during that era. There was a policy that goods could be imported without import licence but as Nigerian’s external reserves began to dry up, the Shagari government had to introduce import licence.
The uncertainty forced many importers to suspend importation in order to monitor the new policy.
But braving the uncertain situation, Ibeto moved quickly to secure the N3 million import licence at a time a dollar sold for 68 kobo. With the licence, he imported 65 containers of vital motor parts. By the time other importers could wake up to get the license, the government had tightened the screws and made it almost impossible for anyone to obtain the license. Almost at the same time, the Shagari’s government was toppled which made matters worse as it resulted in borders being closed.
The Nnewi born business mogul then virtually became a monopolist for motor spare parts. He confessed that the moment was a turning point for his life and business. He was selling at almost 500% mark up and people were buying!
His words: “That was the turning point for me.Come and see the line-up of people who wanted the spare parts. I was packing money with cartons. There was no armed robbery then, no kidnapping. It was a seller’s market. And the mark up was almost 500% but people were buying! In fact, within two days of the arrival of the containers, I made four million pounds”
Diversification was flowery and seamless for Ibeto, swiftly moving from an importer of auto spare parts to automotive lead-acid batteries and plastic accessories merchant. Then in 1988, he delved into manufacturing when he completed his factory in Nnewi and stopped direct importation of lead-acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories. By 1995, the company had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfit in Nigeria.

A year later, Ibeto would further expand his business operations by diversifying into other sectors thus establishing Ibeto Petrochemicals Industries Limited. His petrochemicals industry owns one of the largest liquid facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria.
Subsidiaries under the Ibeto group are legion and they include Union Autoparts manufacturing Co. Ltd which was incorporated on 2nd June 1987.The company is a major player in automotive lead-acid battery manufacturing in Nigeria. The interesting thing is that the company produces locally, from its lead and aluminum smelting plant, all the lead and aluminum required for its operations.
It has the capacity to produce, annually; 300,000units of lead/acid batteries, 120,000 units of sealed maintenance-free batteries, 5,500tonnes of lead, 500 tonnes of accessories and 1,500 tonnes of friction parts.
There is also the Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd. It was established in October 1996 with a blending plant in Nnewi, Anambra State. The company blends oil lubricants and produces various types of petroleum products for local and international markets. The Petro-Chemical company also owns one of the largest liquid storage facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria with a capacity of over 60,000 metric tones located at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex, Lagos.
Ibeto Cement Company Ltd produces bagged cements at its bagging terminal at Bundu Ama, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Ibeto Cement commenced operation in 1997 with the importation of bagged cement from Portland before establishing Ibeto Cement in 2001.
In 2018, Ibeto Cement Company Limited announced a reverse merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a United States (U.S.) publicly-traded petroleum exploration and production company. This was aimed at taking the global markets by storm and bypass the complex process of listing. The company was to acquire a 70% controlling stake of Century Petroleum and thus Cletus Ibeto was subsequently made the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Ibeto’s foray into cement business saw him establishing Eastern Bulkcem Company Ltd
The company is also engaged in the importation of bulk cement and bagging of same in its factory premises in Rumuolumeni waterfront, Rivers State.
Eastern Bulkcem equally owns 60% of Nigeria Cement Company Plc (NIGERCEM), Nkalagu, Ebonyi State.
NIGERCEM was very important for Ibeto; if he was to remain an importer of cement, he needed to own a cement manufacturing plant as it was the requirement. Owning NIGERCEM did not come easy as the then Ebonyi state governor, Martin Elechi was against the acquisition. Ibeto fought him head-on like a wounded lion until he had NIGERCEM secured. NIGERCEM gave him the initial stability he needed to continue in the cement business.
King’s Palace Hotels Ltd was established in March 1985 and has become synonymous with hospitality. Kings’ Palace is located at the heart of Nnewi and has played a significant role in the economic and tourism development in Anambra State.
Ibeto Energy Development Ltd is Ibeto’s response to the energy need of the country. The company was established in April 2008 in line with federal government’s aspiration to exploit the available natural gas in the Niger Delta Region for economic development.
Palmex Agencies Limited was incorporated in September 1998 and engaged in general merchandising. The company imports and distributes commodity items like rice, sugar and fertilizer.
Ibeto Industries Ltd is the flagship. It was incorporated in 1984 to serve the Nigerian public in their quest for colour print and photographic processing. Ibeto industries have modern printing machines that meet the need of customers and they have branches across Nigeria.
Odoh Holdings Ltd made a debut in March 1985.It is the real estate arm of the Ibeto. The company owns properties in prime areas of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Onitsha and Nnewi.
Ibeto Hotel Abuja is a 100-room four-star property which was commissioned early in 2013 and the company has interest in replicating Ibeto Hotel Abuja in other major cities in Nigeria.
Ibeto believes in ethics in business even if its application or observances will cause him money and business opportunities.A veteran journalist, Mike Awoyinfa tells an enchanting story of how Ibeto elected to lose millions of dollars during the gulf war than compromise on business ethics: “Ibeto said that during the Gulf War II, his company received a lot of pressure from Saddam Hussien’s officials who badly wanted Union Recycling Plant to export the lead products refined by his company at very lucrative terms, but the company turned down the tempting offer because Ibeto believed that such leads would go into production of dangerous weapons of war by Saddam. This was far more ethical than a business decision, but Ibeto argued to his astonished management that even though the group desperately needed the fund to inject into the the construction of the cement terminals at Bundu Ama Creek.
Born on November 6, 1952 in his home town, Obiofia Umuenem, Otolo Nnewi in Anambra State, Ibeto is humble, unassuming and focused.Through his philanthropic gestures Ibeto has lifted thousands of people out of poverty. He has also helped other top business persons from Nnewi.
A large hearted and ever kindly disposed community developer and human capacity builder, Cletus Ibeto has to his credit the following notable philanthropic milestones, amongst several others:
The award of over 200 secondary and university scholarships to deserving, indigent Nigerian youths.
Instituted and maintains in perpetuity a prize award foundation for the best graduating student in pediatrics at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, College Of Medicine, Nnewi, Anambra State.
Instituted and maintains in perpetuity a prize award foundation for the best graduating student in the department of Electrical/Electronics Engineering, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State.
Extensive Community Support Services in: Rural Electrification projects with donation and installation of transformers, borehole water projects to communities and institutions of learning.
Constructed and maintains a 20km road and a multipurpose hall for Nnewi community.
Constructed the biggest but yet-to-be commissioned N650 Million-worth Medical Diagnostic Center at the University of Nigeria (UNN), Enugu Campus (renowned to be the largest in the West African sub region).
Constructed and donated Departmental buildings to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi.
On the construction of the most modern and contemporary Catholic Youth Village located in Amansea (near Awka) in Anambra State, Dr Ibeto was acknowledged as the single largest donor and developed 250 number self-contained rooms of hostel accommodations within the Village designed to mitigate the accommodation challenges of students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
Constructed and donated a world class church building, chancery and Conference Centre to St. Cletus Catholic Church, Otolo Nnewi, Anambra State.
Sponsors annual comprehensive medical/surgical outreaches to communities that have restored health to thousands of sick and helpless Nigerians and prevented death for many.
Extensive development programme for host communities to his numerous businesses.

Though denied access to formal by his father at 13, that burning desire to see the four walls of a classroom remained aflame. Ibeto for he would later sat for his WASSCE at the age of 48 and got a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy from University of Nigeria, Nsukka at the age o f 54. He was subsequently honoured with a Doctor of Business Administration degree from the same University.
Over the years, he has had numerous trainings at seminars and conferences within the country, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Japan.
Ibeto had earlier attended St. James Primary school, Owerrinta in the present day Imo state.
Come March 2020, another enchanting feather will be added to Dr.Cletus Madubugwu Ibeto’s crowded crown and another honour done him yet as the Ebonyi state University confers on him Honorary Doctorate Degree on Business Administration.
Before the EBSU honour, Ibeto’s gallery of Honours brimmed with assortment of awards and recognitions, including:
Gold Service Award from the Rotary Club of Enugu, Rotary International District 9140.
Three-Ruby Paul Harris Fellow from the Rotary Foundation International.
Certificate of Merit from the Government of Anambra State of Nigeria.
Award of Excellence by the Pilgrims Africa Health Foundation.
National Honour, Officer of Order of the Niger, OON.
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Honoris Causa, University of Nigeria.
National Honour, Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON.
And friends and business associates who have followed Ibeto’s life trajectory testify that the Honorary award is a fitting, proper, deserving and eloquent recognition and testimony of of his years of entrepreneurship, hard work, tenacity of purpose and service to humanity.

Ingram Osigwe is the MD/CEO of Full page international communications Ltd writes from Lagos.

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NDDC Acting MD, Daniel Pondei lists contracts allegedly paid for

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Daniel Pondei

Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, has listed some contracts the commission allegedly paid for under duress before its 2019 annual budget was approved.

 

Pondei who alleged that some lawmakers, especially members of adhoc Committees have held the Commission hostage over the years with the annual budget approval, also disclosed that they were arm-twisted to pay for some contracts that “were never done or sometimes, never completed.”

 

In a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, the contracts and benefiting firms were listed as follows;

 

Kith Global Ventures Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Roads Lot 3, at the cost of N493,684,169.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020, 301 Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Nja Road to Akoku Uno Lot 1, at the cost of N350,027,919.80 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Ajaolubeti Road Environs Lot 2 at the cost of N394,010,952.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 7, at the cost of N 431,053.035.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 3, at the cost of N361,357,276.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020 and Grapik Ltd; Emergency at Umudee Internal Road, at the cost of N207,673,107.70 and paid the 17/03/2020.

 

Others were, Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru Chukwu Umuorlu Road, at the cost of N518,409,089.30 and paid on paid on the17/03/2020. Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru, at the cost of N519,949,949.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020.

 

Grandfox Global Services Ltd; Emergency at Ope Road Okigwe LGA, at the cost of N580,438,578.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Town Road Lot 6, at the cost of N348,853,184.60 and paid on the 7/03/2020 and Crism Constr. Building Ltd; Emergency at Eziama Osuama International Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N561,592,377.80 and paid on the17/03/2020.

 

Also paid were, Argento Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 4, at the cost of N382,805,411.60 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Two Rocks Cont. Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Road Lot 4, N500,875,848.00 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Elkan Zibson Ltd; Emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections of Ezumoha Internal Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N531,150,414.29 and paid on the 19/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial works on Failed and Unmotorable sections of Benin Township Road Lot 8, at the cost of N417,806,787.01 and paid on the 19/03/2020. PDH Global Logistics Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Umuezuo Umuagbavu Road Remedy Failed and unmotorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N543,247,587.35 and paid on the 20/03/2020. Aritel Oil and Gas; Remedy Failed and Motorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N550,100,132.34 and paid on the 24/03/202.

 

Dis Concept and Solutions Ltd; Urgently Remedy Failed and Un motorable sections of Jessy and Jenny Road off peter Odily Road PHC, at the cost of N476,794,367.22 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Ogugo Concept and Solutions Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Environs Yenagoa LGA, at the cost of N300,029,695.14 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Instruction of emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections Benin Township Road Lot 2 Oredo LGA, at the cost of N357,242,054.35 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of Failed and unmotorable sections of Akuku Illah Road Oshimili North LGA, at the cost of N 463,489,890.13 and paid on the 26/03/2020 and Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of failed and Unmotorable sections of New Ogorode Road Lot2 Sapele LGA, at the cost of N 466,416,380.71 and paid on the 26/03/2020.

 

 

 

The statement added;

 

 

 

“This blackmail scheme explains why the 2019 Budget of the NDDC was passed by the NASS Committee in March, 2020”, adding that, “we are talking about a budget that was billed to expire in May, 2020. This implication is that the management of the NDDC had only five weeks, to implement the budget of one fiscal year, and present a performance report on the same budget.

 

“This scheme has continued to play out, because as at this Month of August 2020, the budget of the NDDC for the 2020 fiscal year has not been passed by the Joint National Assembly Committee on NDDC. Sadly, nobody seems to care to ask questions because people are falling for the well-scripted smokescreen playing out in the two Chambers of the National Assembly.

 

“This document, is among the many others tendered before the NASS Committee, which never saw the light of the day, and which the NDDC Committee were never allowed to speak on, when they eventually appeared before the Committee, during the public hearing. It was based on this evidential claim that the IMC of NDDC staged a walk-out, on the first day they were to testify before the Committee.

 

“The details of this list can be verified from the Central Bank of Nigeria, through a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request.

 

“Indeed, the same allegation informed the reason all well-meaning Nigerians urged the Committee Chairman, Hon. Tunji-Ojo to recuse himself from the Chairmanship of that hearing. This is in keeping with the Nemo judex in causa sua, which is a Latin phrase that upholds the principle of natural justice that no one can judge a case in which they have an interest”.

 

“It is very unfortunate that against all objective appeals and moral persuasions, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, alongside some other accused members of the House Committee on NDDC, proceeded to hold a public hearing, which was initially slated for two days, being the 15th and 16th of July 2020, but which effectively ran till 20th of the month, only for him to decide, at his own pace and time, to recuse himself from the hearing, on the last day, an action which cast a dark shade on the entire public.

 

“This is because, the same reason for which he recused himself on the last day was enough for him to steer clear from the matter, ab initio. The foregoing points to a clear fact that the Committee set out to do a bidding, that was never in the interest of the public. They obviously needed a public hearing to tell the public what they wanted the public to hear, rather than the facts of the matter.

 

“The Spokesperson the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, on a National Television Programme, recently, admitted publicly, that Contractors often approached Chairmen of the House Committees and the members, to use their office to compel MDAs to pay them. This definitely should be the new height of the abuse of the oath of office they swore, not to allow their personal interest interfere with the discharge of their official duties.

 

“Recall that since these allegations were first made by the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on National Television, Hon. Olubumni Tunji-Ojo has not deemed it fit to discountenance the allegations by way of a law suit”.

 

DRC gets $7.5m additional US aid to combat Ebola

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $7.5 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help end the 11th outbreak of Ebola in Équateur Province in Northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  The funding also will support Ebola survivors and maintain a rapid-response capacity in Eastern DRC, where the DRC’s 10th outbreak, also the second-largest outbreak of the disease in history was declared over in June 2020.  The U.S. Government remains the DRC’s principal partner in countering Ebola:  USAID has provided nearly $350 million since August 2018, including for preparedness and response activities in the DRC and neighboring countries.  The funding announced today is in addition to contributions from other U.S. Departments and Agencies and the U.S. private sector.

 

Through USAID’s NGO and UN partners on the ground, the United States is scaling up to providing life-saving assistance in Northwestern DRC’s Équateur Province, where a new outbreak of Ebola was declared on June 1.  This assistance includes support for the deployment of rapid-response teams to remote areas, surveillance for cases of the disease, and treatment facilities.  Additionally, this assistance will help survivors facing stigmatization, as well as fund continued engagement with communities on prevention and post-outbreak training on safe and dignified burials.

 

The U.S. Government is the largest-single bilateral donor to the response to Ebola in the DRC.  U.S. support and expertise played a major role in helping the Government of the DRC and its partners bring an end to Ebola outbreaks across the country, including the recent epidemic in South Kivu and Ituri Provinces.  USAID’s Disaster-Assistance Response Team, made up of disaster and health experts, continues to work with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, humanitarian partners, and the Government of the DRC to help contain the latest outbreak and bring it under control.

 

Stopping the spread of Ebola requires a concerted, unified effort from the international community – all in close partnership with the Government of the DRC and affected local populations.  USAID strongly encourages other donors to provide additional financial and technical support to help end the outbreak in Équateur Province.

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Nigerian politician as a symbol of vanity….Dr. Muiz Banire

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In the last couple of months, much prior to the invasion of our earthly space by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerian politicians had resumed their usual political gymnastics against the next series of elections in the year 2023. The struggle is today getting fiercer already with its toll on the ruling party, particularly. This is no news, as the belief in Nigeria is that the power of incumbency at the centre is crucial to success at both the central and all other levels of election. Hence, the pressure is usually on the ruling party by the various aspirants to public offices.
As apparent to all, public offices in Nigeria are big attractions in terms of the glamour and perquisites they dangle, more so in a battered economy where such public offices now remains the major industry left for the citizens to survive on. This explains why the strife for public offices is often inordinate. Politicians in Nigeria believe they own time and space in fee simple absolute and are able to determine their tenure in this world.
They seem to have secured certificate of long or eternal life from God. This often confirms the lunacy in most of them as reflected in their primordial sense of accumulation of property and the ambition to control public resources for selfish benefits. With apology to atheists, I believe that most people of faith, Christians, Muslims and even traditionalists, believe that we do not own more than the moment we are alive. The very next moment belongs to God. This certainly is not true with this species of human beings called Nigerian politicians as this “theory” doesn’t resonate with them. They have planned and deludedly actualised their plans for the next 30, 40 and 50 years. They are, however, not far from the trend in the country where we have multiple number of religious people but a very negligible number of godly people.
The interesting thing is that not even the reality of COVID-19 can checkmate their blind aversion to the transience of human existence and the absoluteness of death. Regardless of the high-profile deaths among them, they are not scared nor cautioned as they are never alive to the truism that iku t’o n pa ojugba eni, owe lo n pa fun ni (the demise of a relative is a signal of one’s mortality).
This is why, in the midst of the pandemic, they are still very much alive, boisterous and dynamic in their trade. They still gallivant around with reckless rodomontade and unrestrained sense of invincibility. Recent statistics around the world on a daily basis prove the worthlessness of human aspirations that do not serve the benefits of humanity. Should their struggle for power be for public good, one would not have been bothered about their strife. Experience has shown that their struggle for public office is essentially for personal aggrandizement and selfishness. It is no news in Nigeria today that no citizen or voter believes the electoral promise of any candidate, and Nigerian politicians have never disappointed the people in this respect. The interesting thing for the politicians in the struggle for power is that they know no limit. They can go to any length in the bid to secure power both physically and spiritually. They contest the divine pronouncement both in the Bible and the Quran that all powers belong to God, and that all good things are exclusively in the hands of God.
While they may quote generously from the scriptures to mask their avarice and fetishness, their aversion for the scriptural truth is of zenithal monstrosity. As far as they are concerned, their dexterity and sagacity, and, at times, their wealth (ill-gotten, most times) and monopoly of force, can secure them those positions they lust after. This explains why they rig with reckless abandon knowing that the state of the law has prettily made it impossible to prove rigging in law courts, especially when it comes to proof of violence and fraud. In the event that such gruesome politicians, as I would like to describe them, succeed in occupying public office, they become monsters.
Let me, for whatever it is worth, remind the politicians that the various public offices they hold are subject of trust. This necessitates public accountability of the resources vested in them. However, what we experience most times is betrayal of this sacred trust. There is no shred of transparency in governance in Nigeria. With the pandemic, one would have thought that Nigerian politicians would have learnt one or two lessons, but this appears not so. This is the crux of our discussion today. An average politician today, as said earlier, struggles for public office in order to amass wealth and power. They often forget that the acquisitions are worth nothing but amount to building vanity upon vanity.
The Bible says, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” In the same tone, the Quran admonished us that the search for power and wealth is a mirage. Till a man’s death, nobody can attain his wants. The net effect of the divine injunctions is that we shall certainly in the hereafter account for the acquisitions, which, unfortunately, we cannot even transit with into the other world; the hereafter. The truth is that all that we acquire in this earth belongs to us temporarily, while the true and permanent ownership remains with God. Why the unbridled acquisitions then? My take is that, with the ravages and grim harvests of COVID-19, the urge and zeal for power and material things ought to reduce. Hundreds of public figures have succumbed to the toll of the pandemic while thousands of less privileged persons have taken sudden exits from this world, which should remind us of our mortality and the fact that it can happen to anyone and at any time.
Today, we can’t ride our best cars to most places again as there is hardly any more social function where the glamour of impressive cars used to steal the latest of shows. Our best clothes acquired for events are on vacation in our various wardrobes, accumulating dust that we all shall ultimately become. Our Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton shoes that we used to knock the earth in angry display of arrogance took a long leave of absence that ought to tell us they could really do without us.
Money itself is beginning to be meaningless as the enjoyment of it is restricted by the pandemic. In fact, societies where their medical capacities in the past put life expectancies on enviable pedestals have been humbled by coronavirus with multiples of death on hourly basis. Yet, here, where we have no capacity to rescue from ordinary malaria, our politicians still wax strong in licentious gusto for wealth and intoxicating power grab. In the face of all these, I reckon that sane people should be having a rethink about uncontrolled acquisition of material things or the strife to acquire power, which will ultimately leave us if we do not leave it. Not so for most politicians, however; the crazy struggle continues, not even with the demise of some of their contemporaries and loved ones. Is this not idiotic or stupid?
It reminds me of a story of a politician of over 70 years of age who recently built a two-floor duplex to move into. Bad enough that he failed to realise that he was at the departure lounge already. Here is a man with severe arthritis. How he intends to be moving up and down in the newly acquired mound of concrete remains a mystery! While it is a truism that death is not a function of age nor ailment, by natural order of things, however, most of these politicians are really in the departure lounge already just waiting to be boarded onto the lonely flight and fright of the grave. Why the acquisition beats my imagination!
The only explainable reason might be to secure the future for their children, which, regrettably, is not in their hands. As characteristic of politicians, they always believe they can fix all things with their skills. The sad commentary is that even where they succeed in leaving behind this vast wealth, it ends up being a burden to their children. It is usually a catalyst for chaos and anarchy in their families.
Nobody can secure the future of his children by wealth inordinately accumulated to the detriment of the masses. A house moulded with spittle will crumble to the gentle touch of the morning due. The children of the poor they initially deprived may be the ones to come back and purchase the properties from the children of the once-upon-a-mad politician. What a shame! How are the legacies of the lunatic frittered to unintended beneficiaries! When are our politicians going to learn? It is in the hereafter definitely. These are the ones Yoruba call ad’orun mo ooto, that is, those who only discover the truth in the grave.
What is required of man to live a life of moderate comfort is far below the acquisition of an average Nigerian politician. He does not only struggle to acquire power for himself but aspires to plant his beloved surrogate with whom he is most pleased in power, believing that the latter would preserve his accumulation and cover the secrets of his vanity while in office. But nemesis has been judging them while alive as most godsons and godfathers never enjoy a cordial relationship beyond the celebratory mood of victory after the elections.
Rather than allow society to govern itself, the Nigerian politician wants to rule in perpetuity, forgetting that history has never recorded such a feat in favour of any mortal. I hope that the Nigerian politicians will turn a new leaf towards life and public office.
It is VANITY UPON VANITY!
Culled from The Sun Newspaper
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Life after Covid-19; Lessons and Prospects-Aregbe Idris

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According to an old adage, ‘in every challenge there is an opportunity’. In crises situations the human mind is usually open to new thinking and new ways of doing things once thought impossible or too bold to imagine. The world has witnessed a spate of innovations on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also brings another well-worn saying to mind, that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

The COVID-19 crisis has not only been disruptive, but has created a “big reset” as the rapid changes taking place will last for years to come.

In just a few months, the world has changed, with the advent of the pandemic, rendering humans, economies, social life weak and fragile in a ravaging wave of viral global attack.

However, the crises has also offered some vital lessons in human existence going forward; lessons which are a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly.

For the good, the pandemic brought out the humanity in a whole lot of people, who hitherto may not have known they possess the milk of kindness, helping one another in a time of dire need. It also extended to nations, laying differences aside to come to the aid of others needing help. The pandemic showed that humanity can indeed stay in peace, with even warring nations, or warring factions within nations all sheathing their swords to face a common enemy with one resolve. Humanity seemed far more connected than ever before the crisis. Every single story has been that of courage, collaboration, and action.

The importance of savings was brought to the fore, especially for the rainy day, which COVID-19 happened to be. Nigerians lack a savings culture and more people were financially caught off-guard by the pandemic. Given the fact that in this part of the world, savings is observed more in the breach, it only made a bad situation worse.

With the lockdown of economic activities occasioned by the crises, though now gradually being relaxed globally, working online has become quite comely and profitable for a number of firms. Going digital has become imperative with several companies urgently doing a digital transformation; involving tools, norms, culture, and behaviors.

Remote work has become a ‘new normal’ with a number of companies adopting the novel way to work. It has also opened up the prospect of having physically challenged people, many of whom are wizards in their vocation, but who up until now were mostly found unfit for regular work employment by a host of firms, now a very viable option for employment, with the prospect of increased quality and work output.

Online learning is also becoming a convenient alternative for a number of schools, that are providing tutorials for pupils and students all over the world; a defining experience in education going forward. People have learnt how to use their phones for multiple functions, they most likely would not have cared to before the pandemic; with many already profiting therefrom.

COVID-19 exposed some chinks in our armor as a nation, with particular reference to the great despondency birthed by a lack of health infrastructure and capacity to deal with seen and unforeseen health crises. There is a global consensus that human, health, and safety issues are paramount. This has manifested in subtle ways during this pandemic, with the shaking of hands going extinct, social distancing in every circle of human endeavor, wearing of face masks, etc.,

Preventing diseases is better than having to try and cure them. The pandemic has forced us to think about our mortality more than at any other time. It reminds us how important certain health safety nets are, especially in dire circumstances.

People are forcibly faced with the fear of death, making the place of health one important lesson to be taken from all of these.

 

To have a well-designed and functioning health system demands a deliberate policy and effort. It requires a large amount of investment and long-term planning. In 2001, African leaders pledged to invest around 15% of their budgets in health. Sadly by 2020, only five countries have fulfilled this promise, excluding Nigeria.

Seeing how we reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak shows just how little prepared we were for this pandemic. This is why it is crucial to take seriously the need to begin working at a comprehensive health system in the country. This is not for the benefit of the poor masses but for the benefit of all, as lessons from COVID-19 have offered. The situation could have been different with some high-profile deaths in the country of the disease.

Africa’s poor pharmaceutical capacity has been a source of ridicule, especially by foreigners, and no better time to address this anomaly than now. Bangladesh, a poorer country than many African countries, produces 97% of the national demand for medicines, in contrast to Africa which is almost 100% dependent on imports.

Things just have to change. The health sector in Africa and Nigeria particularly, should be strengthened by COVID-19. This is a decision that can no longer be postponed.

Crisis response is another big lesson from the pandemic. Crises response is something that our country will have to urgently embrace going forward. The COVID-19 pandemic is a Black Swan for African nations, as it speaks to health and the economy.

Even when there was a willingness by some states and the Federal Government to provide palliatives to cushion the effects of the disease, the lack of a comprehensive data base, was inimical to the exercise.

A continent feared for the worst in the pandemic, Africa was still deprived access to COVID-19 essentials, given the excessive global demand, which relegated it to the back of the queue. This is an early warning and lesson for Africa. Nigeria as with a host of African nations, needs to have in place social protection systems to mitigate the suffering of the continent’s most disadvantaged, especially in times of crises .

Coming on the back of the pandemic was a crash in global oil prices, which made nonsense of the country’s budget, passed less than two months earlier, once again pointing to the important lesson of  agriculture as the mainstay of the country’s economy.

According to The African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa will lose between $35 and $100 billion due to the fall in raw material prices caused by the pandemic, while the World Economic Forum (WEF) puts the continent’s global losses at $275 billion, which all show that Africa’s inequality gap will worsen in the coming years.

There will be layoffs, restructuring, and many difficult financial and human decisions ahead. Indeed, there will be many difficult decisions to make. But there must be plans in place for “things going wrong” as part of our everyday life going forward.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the world’s social, economic and political resilience is surely going to be tested. Leaders will have to rethink many prior assumptions and find new balances for individual and collective behaviour.

As terrible as COVID-19 has been, we have to recognize that this may be the new normal. It may not be out of place to say that “Black Swan” events are here to stay, considering also the continuous looming impact of global warming and sea water rise, for example.

As a nation, we must be deliberately be geared in readiness for  responses to other future threats that have equal or greater potential for disruption. The present pandemic provides us the opportunity to once again take a peek into the causes of our underdevelopment and come up with strategic and in-depth approaches to human development, digitalization, industrialization and economic diversification.

Needless to say that opportunities will also emerge, with innovative minds enervated to the challenges that we collectively face, if the will to move forward is mustered and sustained, with lessons learnt from COVID-19.

 

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