Nigerians and the National Assembly.

Nigerians and the National Assembly.

Surely, this is one piece of legislation that’ll be welcomed by the Nigerian youth. The house of representatives has proposed a change in the constitution to allow for the age limit for running for the presidential office be lowered to 35 years.

The current minimum age for qualification for the contesting is 40.

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Nigerian President Buhari has hyenas and jackals to contend with. Photo credit: CNN

Nigerian President Buhari has hyenas and jackals to contend with. Photo credit: CNN

You know how they say politics is ‘dog eat dog?’ well, in Nigeria, it is ‘hyena eat hyena,’ or ‘jackal eat jackal,’ depending on the political camp. Since her husband’s incapacitation following an illness since May, Aisha Buhari took to Facebook to say “The Hyenas and Jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom” in a cryptic reply to a senator’s post. For those of us watching from the sidelines, we decoded the message instantly and understood the bloody nature of the politics and the drama unfolding in Nigeria.

The hyenas and jackals are indeed circling and that’s because they can smell blood; Buhari’s blood. Out of the country since May 7th, after only returning from a 7-week stint earlier in the year, President Buhari’s only communication with his country has only been through written statements. Because of this, rumours abound in the land, some even claimed he was already dead. The president’s handlers have always been fighting a raging fire, trying to salvage his reputation since his absence, and I must say, their efforts has been SHAMBOLIC. It annoys me that President Buhari’s media handlers first tried to pull the wool over all our eyes by saying he just went to london for ‘a check up,’ it took 7 whole weeks for Nigerians to see a President they voted overwhelmingly for just a few years ago. The media machine certainly forgot we now live in the age of Facebook and Twitter. My annoyance doesn’t end there, now Mr President has returned to London for another ‘check up,’ information on his whereabouts, his treatment, etc has now completely dried up. What we now see are pictures of Mr President waving from a window, or sitting in front of a Telly.

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Difficult times for former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. Photo credit: Premium Times Nigeria

Difficult times for former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. Photo credit: Premium Times Nigeria

Former Nigerian Petroleum, Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke named in US bribery scandal.

Former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke once threatened to reveal everything that transpired in the controversial fraudulent transactions between her and co-conspirators, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore.

The minister made the comment in a recorded telephone conversation obtained by the prosecutors probing the corruption allegations against her.

Details of the conversations have now been filed as part of a civil complaint by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) seeking the forfeiture of over $144 million slush fund.

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Xenophobia. Killing a Nigerian is now a past time in South Africa.

Xenophobia. Killing a Nigerian is now a past time in South Africa.

Xenophobia Attacks In South Africa Is Simply Idiotic.

We have been let down by our South African brothers. . . badly.

Heard of the word Xenophobia? No? I wrote about it 2 years ago. Now I write about it again because again, it has reared its head.

According to our friends at Google, the official meaning of Xenophobia is ‘the fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.’ Quite literally, it is a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. Are you starting to wonder the difference between that and racism? Well, you are not alone. Personally, I think the lines between Xenophobia, Genocide and Racism are very, very blurred.

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Th inhumanity of African leaders created the Migrant Crisis.

Migrant Crisis: Made worse by the inhumanity of African leaders.

Migrant Crisis: Made worse by the inhumanity of African leaders.

I watched in horror yesterday how a Maltese charity boat attempted to rescue more than 150 migrants from a capsized dinghy. Some of the stranded were babies held aloft by their drowning mothers. There were lots of screaming, you could see fear live on TV. It was too graphic, too distressing to watch. You needed to have seen the tiny dinghy that crammed over 150 souls. The migrant crisis was laid bare on live TV.  Even when rescue came, out of fear or desperation, they jumped, pushed and shoved to get to safety, but that only exacerbated an already perilous situation. Many died!

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Business District in Lagos, Nigeria. Image Credit: (BuzzNigeria

Nigerians shouted and the electorate voted with their feet and ushered in a change in government. This change came in the guise of President Muhammadu Buhari, a former Military Head of State of the country. Amongst much fanfare, President Buhari promised change; which will directly alleviate the suffering of the common Nigerian, as well as improve their lives. The wind of change presently sweeping the nation comes with the hope that business opportunities can improve under this new government. While we await the manifestation of President Buhari’s plans for his country, here are 6 business areas that must be explored:

Oil & Gas: Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of GDP and 80% of Government earnings. This is the numero uno of investment opportunities, however, investing in this sector is no mean feat. As with economies all over the world, oil and gas is a market dominated by a small number of oligopolists. This means entry into it is minimal to near impossible, but if you have the capital investment to get in, your returns will be astronomical.

Renewable Energy: Even though Nigeria’s economy is now classed as the largest in Africa, unfortunately, electricity supply in the country is at best epileptic. Past governments have tried but failed to solve the problem with power generation fluctuating between 1500mw and 5500mw. If the new dispensation is to be believed, then investors and entrepreneurs must actively look at finding lasting solutions to the power generation problem in the country. Renewable energy is the wisest solution.

Renewable energy is generally known as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. This type of energy replaces conventional fuels in 4 areas and one of which is electricity generation. The abundant supply of sunlight, wind and rain in this west african country, can only mean that with the right innovation and investment, power generation can be very lucrative. Wind turbines and solar panels must surely be considered and business ideas associated with both must not be discounted. This market is open in Nigeria but requires a significant amount of investment to be considered credible.

A few challenges await entrepreneurs or investors looking to go into this kind of business. Obstacles include (1) the cynical nature of Nigerians; this is due to the fact that many Renewable Energy companies have promised but failed to deliver in the past, (2) lack of support by past governments to assist companies who invested in renewable energy. However, there is every reason to be hopeful with the new government. (3) the technology has  not been completely tested for the Nigerian environment. If all this is taken into account, there is no reason investors in renewable energy won’t make a killing and smile to their banks.

Security and public safety: This is a major problem in Nigeria. The bane of armed robbery and street violence in the recent past has now been compounded by the emergence of terrorism and kidnapping. Most foreign countries now advise their citizens “against all but essential travel to” more than 10 states in the country. But in the midst of all that chaos is a business opportunity. The current government is aware of the country’s security lapses and as such business ideas that can improve the general safety of Nigerians must be considered. To make a profit, ideas that are simple, straightforward and non complicated should be pushed forward. It is important to understand that entry into the security and safety industry in Nigeria ranges from low to high investment, and as such returns will mirror the level of investment. I believe very strongly that Nigerians can invest in their own safety by coming up with security and safety innovations and make some money out of it.

Anti graft/ Anti corruption: If you want to make some money by doing business in Nigeria, this is it. The major campaign slogan for President Buhari was “Change” and the promise to significantly reduce corruption in his country by tackling it head on. Some countries have termed Nigeria as ‘the most corrupt nation in the world’ Rightly or wrongly, things need to be done to promote transparency in the country. President Buhari promised a reduction in corruption and was overwhelmingly voted into power based on this promise. With that in mind, there is an astronomical level of expectation placed directly on him (and rightly so). Any entrepreneur or investor worth his salt should seriously consider anti corruption ideas and innovations. With the present level of expectation, this is a ball Mr President cannot afford to drop. Entrepreneurs working in partnership with the government (Federal or State) will no doubt be successful in any business venture related to anti corruption.

Training: From banking to agriculture; from customer service to road safety, training (at all levels) is beneficial to any growing society. Nigeria should not be different. Short, sharp bespoke training combined with appropriate training facilities are lacking in the country. Nigerian entrepreneurs together with foreign investors can look at this area and devise solutions that are profitable but at the same time helpful to Nigerians. Captains of industry, Heads of Departments and even Chief Executives can benefit directly from training packages bespoke to their industries to align with the ever changing face of global business. Training providers can make a significant impact in Nigeria thus making training a major investment opportunity.

Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is ESSENTIAL for the sound and sustained economic development of a country therefore entrepreneurship development is essential too since entrepreneurs contribute to the national income. Entrepreneurs create upward social mobility, change, development and NEW BUSINESSES. It is my opinion (and many others) therefore that these ‘national treasures’ must be protected, promoted, supported and encouraged. As stated earlier, Nigeria is considered the largest economy in Africa, until recently, this was not the case, but the Nigerian GDP now includes previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines and film production. Industries that were single handedly created, nurtured and sustained by entrepreneurs without government support.

Entrepreneurship must be encouraged in Nigeria and in return entrepreneurs must develop themselves. It in encouraging that entrepreneurship come naturally to the common Nigerian who need little or no motivation to start a business. But these guys (and girls) need honest but hefty financial backing in order to sustain and grow their entrepreneurial flair. I have come across business ideas that could quite simply change the way Nigerians live, but the lack of support and finances have stymied the realisation of these ideas. Quite unfortunate really.

If President Buhari keeps his promises to the Nigerian people, this can only mean business opportunities will abound and lead to an improvement in business and investment during his tenure. We are praying and hoping.

Kole Obasa

Opposition leaders debating election issues

Opposition leaders debating election issues

The leaders debate took place last night and not surprisingly there was a conspicuous absence.

Why David Cameron will not come out to play, to defend his legacy, his government will not fail to surprise me. His absence thus saw a never before experienced also-rans of British opposition parties break out their best attires to engage each other in a debate about issues close to all our hearts.

You could be excused if you thought you just tuned in to watch an unscripted All Star episode of Family Fortunes, with the way they lined up. This debate was all about who should anchor the affairs of this country in the next parliament. If you thought it’ll be girls versus boys, you’ll be wrong. It was for me one of the best spectacles of ridiculous democracy ever exhibited. Cameron’s absence rightly or wrongly set the stage for ‘the other’ politicians, giving them much needed publicity, but at the same time giving opportunities to tactical voting and tactical coalitions which in my opinion is a beast that need to be killed off before it becomes the norm. Voters vote because they want change, they should not have a coalition government unfairly shoved down their throats.

What we learnt –

Nigel Farage - Out there to scare everybody.... really.

Nigel Farage – Out there to scare everybody…. really.

  • Everybody hates Nigel Farage…. I mean Everybody. The truly remarkable thing about this man though is that he doesn’t really care what anybody thinks of him. Where he not a politician, I can bet my life’s worth on the fact that he would walk around with a huge middle finger sign to the world. His patriotism cannot be doubted, thats for sure. He believes in himself, in his party and his mission to pull this country out of Europe, segregate us from the whole world, adopt an Australian type points based system that will filter the amount of immigrants coming into the country. He doesn’t want the cuts in our military and wants us to go back to 2010 ‘manning levels’. Trouble is, though I agree with some of his points, his comments are ALARMIST. Christ! this is the man who cried wolf. The other panelists quickly turned on him, but Nigel didn’t do himself any favours by turning on the audience. The truth is A LOT of people out there agree with his brand, and his appeal is very tempting for many who are disillusioned with the strain on public services in this country. But someone needs to tell the man that people of colour are not the cause of everything that happens in Britain. It looks obvious he will not win any seats and would probably retire, but considering his wealth and influence, he will be kingmaker in the future aiming to breed the next Anti-Everything that is up and coming.
Natalie Bennette - Why can't we be friends?

Natalie Bennette – Why can’t we be friends?

  • Natalie Bennett…….. What can i say about her…. Of all of leaders, she was the one that was more laid back and was clearly only interested in PEACE PEACE PEACE. NO to Trident (the planned war submarine we are building) NO to keeping nuclear warheads. Actually, NO to anything war or fighting. But she was for pumping a lot more money to the NHS. As expected, she stood for combating climate change, protecting vital community services and challenging, well, anything establishment, basically Vote Green. As far as viewers know, she came across as a peacemaker and without playing her down (because clearly she’s an intelligent lady) her party, The Green Party will be a pawn, a tool for either Labour or Conservatives in the event of a hung parliament. Oh, and she wants to celebrate immigrants too.
Leanne Wood - ermmm

Leanne Wood – ermmm

  • Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru….. Ok, first of all, WHO????? She momentarily forgot Nick Farage’s name (who wouldn’t), she would like to form a coalition with Labour too (surprise surprise). She believes the answer to the ‘immigration issue’ is repealing the trade union  legislation brought by Margaret Thatcher (basically meaning strengthening Trade Unions)  as well as ending austerity. She also doesn’t like Trident (the nuclear submarine), she was basically pushing for a strong deal for Wales. All in all, this lady was no pushover, she stood her ground and I believe her debate tonight will do for her and her party what it did for a certain Nick Clegg many years ago…. give it much needed publicity.
Nicola Sturgeon - Ok, this woman kicks ass and won many over.

Nicola Sturgeon – Ok, this woman kicks ass and won many over.

  • Nicola Sturgeon……. Oh Nicola Sturgeon, why are you not labour?? I would give this woman my vote in a heart beat  if she were labour. She gave it to Ed Miliband good; kept him on his toes. She even said he was”so scared to be bold” My highlight of the night will always be her almost begging Ed to form a coalition with the SNP (Scottish National Party) She wants stronger controls on immigration, a pragmatic approach to tackling the big elephant in the room. Coming in with a lot of female votes, this lady is no slouch. Her nationalistic stance though is truly frightening. Basically, if the SNP were given a chance, in about 5 years time they would launch another referendum on Scotland, this time around they might be successful and this country will split, with Scotland going their own way. This is what is really putting the frighteners on Ed Miliband and the labour party. I mean, imagine if the Scottish MP’s in parliament increased from its current 12… They would constantly fight for Scottish independence right? Whatever the case, Nicola Sturgeon is one woman Ed Miliband dreamt about last night. She surely made him an offer that was very and truly bitter to refuse.
Red Hot Ed Miliband - I mean wow! The boy has turned a corner.

Red Hot Ed Miliband – I mean wow! The boy has turned a corner.

  • Ed Milliband . . . . One thing is for sure, this boy has turned a corner. As each day passes, he looks more and more like the cat who has come out to fight. The biggest problem with him and most people agree is that of charisma. He never looked like a leader. But right now, he is talking the talk and walking the walk and that is mainly what people would need to see. If he could only highlight timescales for what he has promised in the manifesto though. He claims every policy in the manifesto will be paid for without additional borrowing.. Really?? The trouble with that and his claim of cutting the deficit every year is the lack of a clear timescale for these targets.When will this deficit be cleared then? And where are the cuts? Surely there will be cuts right?? Apart from that though, Ed has turned a corner and this new change in tack instantly made the Labour party the Golden Goose. Everybody now wants to form a coalition with them, and Ed was in the unique position of saying NO to Nicola and the SNP. What a position right?

As a card carrying Labour member, I say this, let the people decide as Ed will say. I think Labour jumped the gun by completely ruling out a coalition with the SNP and I think after tonight, they could reconsider especially after Nicola Sturgeon hinted that we shouldn’t be too worried about another referendum on Scotland. She will be bringing at least 35 MP’s. A hung parliament could also see a coalition with the Green Party – I see this as more likely by the way.

Today’s debate has also seen Leanne Wood’s stock rise. Surely, it was a win/win for her and the Plaid Cymru party (I know) Overall, it was a good debate for all of them, except for Farage who succeeded in annoying the audience, but hey, that is his brand….. I think.

All in all, David Cameron has got a fight in his hands, I would be worried if I were him. His absence last night, though calculated may back fire tremendously. He really should have attended. One thing is for sure, this elections will come down to austerity and who will make life that bit easier for the working class.

Kole Obasa