In its determination and resolve to foster a new mindset among Nigerians, the Mindshift Advocacy for Development Initiative has unveiled a new blue print to get Nigerians to think differently, believe differently and to act differently, so as to generate a mindset geared towards development. The event which was attended by dignitaries and the media held Thursday, October 17, 2019, at the prestigious Benue Hall of the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
In his address Mr. Joko Okupe, the Founder and Board of Trustee member of the Mindshift Advocacy for Development Initiative said that “the bane of Nigeria and by extension Africa’s problems is the mindset of Africans as individuals, communities and nations, about themselves and the mindset of the rest of the world about Africa. The wrong mindset of Nigerians and Africans in general which influences the way we do things, has created problems such as lack of visionary and purposeful leadership, bad governance standards, erosion and loss of good value systems, corruption, poor understanding of global issues and how it impacts their lives; unprecedented never-ending poverty, heavy debt burdens, over dependence on international aids, endless conflicts, inadequate education etc.” According to him, the Initiative was incorporated on November 28, 2016 as a non-partisan, non-governmental organization aimed at re-directing citizens’ mindsets from negative mindsets in private lives, societies and nations to positive mindsets that foster meaningful holistic personal, social and national development. The initiative also seeks to activate a radical and positive change in the mindset of the Nigerian youth – and by extension, African youth.
According to Mr. Okupe, the Mindshift Advocacy is actually focused on shifting mindsets from negative to positive. The movement is focused on redirecting the mindset of Nigerians from negative, unproductive and unprogressive mindsets to positive, productive and progressive mindsets. A destructive person has a destructive mindset and a destructive thinking pattern. There is so much capacity in the power of the mind that the way and manner that the mind is directed, determines the outcome of a man’s action. When you look at the great nations of the world, you will discover that their people have mindsets of greatness. The average Nigerian’s mindset is anti-progress and anti-development. How can we have progress and development when majority of our citizens have the wrong mindset? We cannot achieve any meaningful transformation without a re-orientation of the citizens’ mindsets. Even when Government decides to run a campaign on changing attitudes, the success will depend on whether the mindsets of the citizens have changed or not. We cannot but pay attention to how people think. We must have that clear understanding. That essentially is the crux of the Mindshift Advocacy.
He stressed that every effort geared at re-orientating the citizens with a view to making them develop positive and progressive mindsets as individuals, society and at national levels, would put us on the road to meaningful and effective transformation of the continent for sustainable growth and development. This is why: “The changes we wish to make have more to do with how we think than what we actually do, because thinking patterns ultimately influence actions. We need to get our citizens to embrace positive mindsets that can impact thought and action for our progress and development. We must also lead by example by thinking and acting differently.”
He cited Mr. Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, who once said that Africa’s transformational change will first happen at the level of mindsets before it is translated into concrete actions. Okupe firmly believes that Africa’s journey of transformation starts with changing how people think. “It is vital for citizens of all ages and social classes to have the right mindset because they are the ones who would be actively involved in the day-to-day actions that bring about sustainable transformation.”
In order to achieve these, the initiative has in place well-articulated key focus areas toward its agenda. These areas are: family and society, government and politics, education, business and economy, media, arts and entertainment, innovation and technology, religion, culture, and health and wellness. Additionally, it will approach this systematically through social research, targeted issues campaigns, action-oriented initiatives, knowledge sharing, events, and public discourse platforms.
Fielding questions to reporters at the launch event on what methods Mindshift Advocacy will deploy to achieve its goal, Joko responded, “It is all a matter of approach and method. Our initiatives would be determined by research and insight. There is a reason or rationale behind every mindset. How much have we researched into why we behave the way we do? Why do we think the way we do? We will make efforts to dig into the foundation to understand the issues and gain necessary insights before we develop initiatives. A man whose mind is conditioned to darkness tends to acclimatise to the situation and live in it. People’s eyes can only be opened through enlightenment which will serve as an illumination to the thick, engulfing darkness and ignorance around us. Adequate exposure to realities will compel them to see and think differently. If we continue at the current pace, we are definitely on a suicide mission as a nation, though we may be fully aware of this”.
Earlier in her welcome address Mrs. Debo Onabowale, a core member of the Mindshift Advocacy for development Initiative said that “Mindshift Advocacy for Development Initiative is set to do a new thing in Nigeria by approaching the Nigerian problem from a different perspective. We believe that Nigerians, both leaders and followers, rich and poor, young and old need a different orientation to be able to chart a new direction and behaviour to propel peace and development.”
FIRSTBANK HOSTS FINTECH SUMMIT 3.0
Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited hosted the third edition of its annual Fintech summit themed “Banking + Tech = Solving Real Problems”. The event held on Wednesday, 16 October 2019 in Lagos with a conference and panel sessions comprising tech experts, start- ups, regulators and other stakeholders to deliberate pressing issues, trends and upgrades in the application of technology in the financial services industry. Victor Asemota, Founder, Swifta Systems & Services was the Keynote Speaker at the event.
With the evolution that has taken place in the financial services industry in recent times, especially through the advent of technological inclusion in business operations across all industries, this year’s event focused on how technology can aid the solving of large scale societal problems within the context of financial services in Nigeria. The event cuts across multiple panel sessions to deliberate issues and prospects in the business management across the financial technology ecosystem with a view to having participants exposed to the trajectory of current and future opportunities in the Fintech ecosystem.
According to Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “Our Fintech Summit 3.0 was convened to set the tone for discussions that promote disruptions in the digital space, especially in the financial industry, as we recognise the opportunities for inclusive growth and influence of FINTECH not just in banking but also business operations across all industries. The 2019 edition of our FINTECH summit would build-up from the successes achieved in the last two editions.”
He added, “FirstBank, in the last few years, has used technology to deliver solutions to promote financial inclusion. With over 33,000 Firstmonie Agents in 36 states doing over N2 trillion worth of transactions, we are reducing poverty with our Agency Banking footprint. Our Firstmobile application has become the foremost mobile banking application in the country with over 3 million users doing over 14 million transactions monthly. It is one of the major gateways for Financial Inclusion where everyone can download the app and open an account at their own convenience! This was not the case a few years ago. Our USSD channel, *894#, is also solving Financial Exclusion problems for those who do not have easy access to internet data. With over 8 million users today, transactions worth over N4 trillion have been consummated using this channel.’’
The panel sessions comprised experts with over two hundred combined years of experience in the Financial and Technological Industry space to deliberate on topical issues in today’s technologically driven business world. Topical issues to be discussed are: Solving Business Problems; Solving Regulatory, Security & Legal Problems and Solving Lifestyle Problems.
Amongst the FirstBank team of speakers and moderators are Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications; Olayinka Shittu, Chief Transformation Officer,
Oluwatoyin Aina, Group Head, Energy Downstream & Int. Oil Trading; and Taiwo Shonekan, Head, Customer Experience & Value Management.
Debo Odunlana, CEO, Doctoora Health; Damilola Emuze, COO/Co-Founder, Scholarx; Edward Popoola, CTO/Co-Founder, Cowrywise and Chinedu Azodoh, Chief Technology Officer, Max.Ng are the panelists in the Solving Lifestyle Problems session.
The Solving Business Problems panel session include Victor Asemota, Founder, Swifta Systems & Services; Lola Ekugo, Head, Digital Innovation Lab, FirstBank; Akindele Phillips, CFO/Co-Founder, Farmcrowdy; Deepankar Rustagi, CEO/Founder, Vconnect & Omnibiz and Dayo Ademola, Head of Innovation, EFInA.
The panelists in the Solving Regulatory, Security & Legal Problems are the Sam Okojere, Director, Payment System Management Dept, CBN; Tosin Faniro-Dada, Head, Startups (Lagos Innovates), LSETF; Odunoluwa Longe, Co-Founder, DIY-Law & The Longe Practice; Bunmi Akinyemiju, CEO, Venture Garden Group and Harrison Nnaji, Chief Information Security Officer, FirstBank.
FIRSTBANK PARTNERS NESG, HOST 25TH NIGERIAN ECONOMIC SUMMIT
As part of its continued commitment to create an enabling environment and opportunities for the promotion of sustainable growth and development of the Nigerian economy, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has partnered with The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) to host the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES#25), its annual flagship event. The Silver Jubilee edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit is themed “Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears” and scheduled to hold on 7 – 8 October 2019 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, would speak on “Gender Empowerment” at the plenary.
The Nigerian Economic Summit is the foremost credible platform for public-private dialogue which enables policy makers and influencers to deliberate on issues, proffer policy options with a view to a better understanding of our national economic policy direction and growth strategies. National leaders and policy influencers billed to attend the event include His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; His Excellency Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Hon. Minister for Finance, Budget & National Planning, Nigeria.
Other dignitaries are Senator Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan PhD, CON, President of the Senate; Right Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. The Chief Host of the event is Mr Asue Ighodalo, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.
Panelists at the event include Alhaji Aliko Dangote President/CEO Dangote Group; Mr Godwin Emefiele Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Bishop Matthew Kukah, Founder, The Kukah Centre; His Excellency Dr Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum; HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II, The Emir of Kano; Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Hon. Mrs Hannatu Mohammed, Board Member, ICPC; Mr. Chidi Ajaere, CEO, GIG Group; Mrs Juliet Anammah, CEO, Jumia Nigeria and Mr Mauricio Alarcon, MD/CEO, Nestle Nigeria Plc .
The event is billed to comprise plenary sessions, exhibitions, design workshops, dinner and the anniversary lecture as well as the presentation of awards and prizes to winners of the NES #25 essay competition and start-up pitching event.
On June 12 We Stand, by Reuben Abati
It is ironic that it had to take a member of the military establishment now turned democrat, that is General, now President Muhammadu Buhari for June 12 to be accorded its pride of place in the socio-political calendar of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Before now, the recognition/celebration of June 12 as a watershed in Nigerian history had been observed majorly by the states of the South West of Nigeria, thus making its symbolism and significance a restricted and ethnic referent. But that has changed, thanks to President Buhari. His decision to declare June 12 a national holiday, his award of a post-humous honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic to Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and the subsequent amendment of the Public Holidays Act to accommodate June 12 as a Federal holiday is a welcome development. President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) had pointedly ignored all entreaties for his administration to take the same step.
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007 – 2010) did not address the June 12 issue. President Goodluck Jonathan (2010 – 2015) had taken steps to immortalize MKO Abiola when he decided to name the University of Lagos after the late icon of democracy, but the staff, students and the alumni of the University rejected this, as they insisted that the name University of Lagos must not be changed. The Jonathan administration would later recognize Chief MKO Abiola as one of the major Nigerians of the 20thcentury. That administration also considered giving Chief MKO Abiola a post-humous national award, but the then President was advised against doing so on the grounds that national honours in Nigeria are never given post-humously. Obviously, the controversy over the re-naming of the University of Lagos was so overwhelming, President Jonathan chose to listen to the Justice Alfa Belgore-led committee on national honours.
Whereas all other Presidents before him failed to make a statement with June 12, President Muhammadu Buhari has now chosen to do so. Tomorrow, all Nigerians will observe June 12 as a national holiday. It will be the first time that this will happen. This should lay to rest all the conspiracies and the revisionism involved in the attempt to reduce June 12 to a narrow, ethnic event, which it is not. The recognition of June 12 as a special national event would be one of those developments for which President Buhari will be positively remembered. It is again ironic that 26 years after, it took another member of the military elite to correct the problem caused by the military. It has taken President Buhari to correct the error committed by General Ibrahim Babangida and his group on June 23, 1993 when they chose to annul the Presidential election held in Nigeria on June 12, 1993. That unwise decision became General Babangida’s Achillee’s heel, and the ugly thing around his neck.
General Babangida or IBB as he is fondly known, could have ended up as one of Nigeria’s greats, given the performance of his government, but what is now remembered as his legacy, despite the best efforts of his biographers and PR managers, is that singular negative act, his violation of the people’s sovereignty. President Buhari is now being lauded for the courageous manner in which he has taken Nigeria beyond the denial and conspiracy foisted on the people by both the military and a segment of the professional political class. We look forward to what President Muhammadu Buhari would say to Nigerians and the international community, tomorrow, June 12. His speech writers have a good opportunity to put words in his mouth that can reverberate like the claps of thunder. They must not waste that opportunity with their sleepy prose. President Buhari should have a word for those who have kept this country down by perpetually denying the truth and turning back the hands of the country’s clock. He should take credit appropriately for the wise decision that he has taken on the matter of June 12.
I remember June 12, 1993, as clearly as if it happened only yesterday. On that day, Nigerians trooped out en masse to make a choice between the Presidential candidates of two political parties, Bashorun MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party and Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention. General Ibrahim Babangida was military President, ruling the country with his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and finally getting to the final stage of a slow-moving democratic transition programme. By 1993, Nigerians were already tired of military rule and particularly of the Babangida government which seemed to have mastered the art of deception.
The people wanted the military out of the way, to allow a return to civilian rule, which had been truncated by the military at regular intervals since independence in 1960. On that day, Nigerians voted massively for the Social Democratic Party and its candidate, Bashorun MKO Abiola (8, 341, 309 million votes – 58.36%). The NRC candidate, Bashir Tofa came second (5, 952, 087 million votes – 41.64%). This was an election in which neither religion nor ethnicity – two major dividing factors in Nigeria was an issue. MKO Abiola, a Southerner got as much support in the North as he did in the South, even beating his rival, Bashir Tofa in his home state of Kano. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) was headed by political science Professor, Humphrey Nwosu. As the results were collated, it was clear that MKO Abiola (SDP) was leading in 19 states, with Bashir Tofa (NRC) winning in 11 states. On June 16 however, NEC announced that it would no longer announce the results “until further notice”. Civil society and pro-democracy protesters objected to this. It had been a free and fair election, the most peaceful that Nigeria had ever known. On June 23, 1993, the Babangida government annulled the election and suspended the Electoral Commission. The NEC Chairman, Humphrey Nwosu went underground and became incommunicado. Bashorun MKO Abiola claimed victory. The people demanded that their will as expressed on June 12, 1993 should be respected and that the results of the election should be declared.
The refusal of the military establishment brought it into direct collision with the people and the international community. June 12 became a catalyst for much that would happen to Nigeria. The crisis escalated so quickly, General Ibrahim Babangida known then as the “evil genius” had to “step aside” as President of Nigeria. He put in place as he left, an Interim National Government led by UAC chief, Ernest Shonekan with General Sani Abacha as Defence Chief. That ING survived for only 83 days. General Sani Abacha, a veteran of military coups in Nigeria, pushed aside the ING and its Head and proclaimed himself Head of State. To put it as it was, hell broke loose. Civil society became tempestuous.
Concerned Professionals, Concerned Democrats, Progressives, voices of reason in Nigeria across all divides, the church, market women, every one with a voice, took to the streets to say: “Never Again to military rule.” The general consensus was that the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election was after all a subterfuge by the military to remain in power and that IBB had played a “Maradona” game against Nigerians. “On June 12 we stand”, the people proclaimed and they took to the barricades. The diplomatic community even joined the protests, with the likes of US Ambassador Walter Carrington, leading the charge on the diplomatic front. The Abacha government was bound to fail. It died a-borning. It descended on Nigeria’s civil society and the progressive camp, and as Nigeria began to witness the worst form of dictatorship since 1960, the people fought back. And Abacha fought back. Not even newly born babies were spared. Journalists were special targets: those who were not hauled into prison, were made to flee abroad, or go underground. Those were the days of guerilla journalism in Nigeria. The people at home fought, those abroad set up a short wave radio, Radio Kudirat which reported Abacha to the world. In due course, Nigeria became a pariah nation.
Three major events made this happen: the first is the declaration by Chief MKO Abiola of his due right to the mandate that Nigerians gave him on June 12, 1993. On June 11, 1994, Chief MKO Abiola in the Epetedo area of Lagos declared himself the democratically elected President of Nigeria. That speech is now known as the Epetedo Declaration. It should be widely circulated tomorrow, June 12 and on every June 12 henceforth, for it has become one of the landmark speeches in the mapping of Nigerian history, and the trajectory of our country’s democratic evolution. I am tempted to quote from that eminently quotable speech but I recall that it was in that speech that the phrase “Enough is Enough” was first pronounced as a revolutionary call to action. Abiola said: “Today, I join you all in saying Enough is Enough! We have endured 24 years of military rule in our 34 years of independence.…Enough of military rule…” And he went on and on.…
The Epetedo Declaration became another catalyst for the Nigerian Spring! It was a call to action. The people responded. Abiola was arrested by the Abacha junta but the genie had left the bottle. The people of Nigeria heard Abiola: “Enough is Enough” and they too responded: “Never Again to military rule”. Second event: On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer and internationally renowned environmental rights activist was hanged by the Abacha administration. Third event: On June 9, 1996, Abiola’s wife, Kudirat was assassinated by Abacha’s killer squad. There were attempts on the lives of key pro-democracy activists as well including Chief Alfred Rewane who was murdered, and Chief Abraham Adesanya who survived. Journalists were murdered. It was as if at the Epetedo Declaration, Abiola had placed a curse on General Abacha. Nigeria suffered but the people wanted an end to it all. On June 8, 1998, General Sani Abacha died. There was dancing in the streets. But as it happened, Chief Abiola also died, in very suspicious circumstances, while still in detention, on July 7, 1998. By then, General Abdusalami Abubakar had succeeded General Abacha as military Head of State. Nigerians still didn’t give up. They wanted democracy. They wanted to be liberated from the shackles of military autocracy. On May 29, 1999, their will prevailed. General Olusegun Obasanjo who had also been framed and jailed by the Abacha government became Nigeria’s civilian president after all the turmoil.
It is sad that those who have benefitted most from the June 12 debacle have been the most desperate in denying the value and symbolism of that date and what happened therein. June 12 was a turning point for Nigeria as the foregoing narrative indicates, and it became, in its trajectory, the catalyst for Nigeria’s second liberation, that is liberation from internal colonialists, but as things stand 26 years later, we may still need to construct a strategy for a third liberation: liberation from the rent collectors who seem to have resolved that Nigeria’s progress is a threat to their own interests. By declaring June 12 a national public holiday, President Buhari has given us all an opportunity to reflect, to think and to remember. In a country where memory is short, people don’t like to think, and state institutions are constructed to erase memory, the teaching of history was even at a point “outlawed”, now it is taught as an optional subject, it is a good thing that President Buhari in making June 12 a national holiday has given us all an opportunity to do what we do not like to do in this country: to think, reflect and remember. June 12 is an idea that cannot be ignored. It is about national unity. On that day in 1993, we saw that it is possible for Nigerians, “though tongue and tribe may differ” to unite around an idea. June 12 is a philosophy, a way of thinking by a people who resolved at a critical moment in their lives to move forward. The evil agents in the military tried to block that and suppress the people’s sovereignty, but tomorrow, the point shall be made that the truth is indestructible! We hope that there will be celebration in every state of the Federation.
The story of June 12 has inspired a bibliography that should be promoted. Indeed, apart from the civil war, it is probably the most dramatic and telling incident in post-colonial Nigeria. I have been privileged to read many of the books, which I recommend to the reading public. They include, not necessarily in any order of importance, Abraham Oshoko,June12: The Struggle for Power in Nigeria, Abraham Oshoko, June 12: The Annulment; Frank Kokori,The Struggle for June 12,Omo Omoruyi,The Tale of June 12: The Betrayal of the Democratic Rights of Nigerians;Humphrey Nwosu, Laying the Foundations for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12, 1993 Presidential election and its annulment; Wale Oshun,Clapping With One Hand; Wale Oshun,Open Grave; and Wale Oshun, Kiss of Death; Kayode Fayemi,Out of the Shadows: Exile and the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Nigeria;Joe Igbokwe, Heroes of Democracy; and Wole Soyinka,The Open Sore of a Continent. These works represent in varying degrees, the literature of resistance against military rule in Nigeria.
The revisionists led by General Ibrahim Babangida have tried to rewrite and revise the same story (there would have been a coup if the result was allowed (!), a cabal within the military didn’t want Abiola, it was an unfortunate incident… story…); see: their narrative is not selling. On June 12 we stand! I have also heard some people express the view that the Buhari government should go a step further and formally announce the results of the June 12, 1993 election and thereafter declare Chief Abiola the rightful winner of that election. I disagree. The June 12, 1993 process having been inchoate and the beneficiary dead, such a declaration will have no probative value. For me, what has been done serves the purpose. It would all have been better though, if June 12 had been declared MKO Abiola’s Day. He was the symbol, the rallying point, the icon of Nigeria’s second liberation in whom is fully embodied the essence of the struggle from June 12,1993 to May 29, 1999. But have we learnt any lessons from June 12? Sadly, I don’t think so.
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