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Buhari’s Death Rumour: 15 Ways to detect Fake News Online

With the explosion of internet sites and social media that has made it easy for anyone to publish something and call it “news”, the rumoured death of President Buhari will not be the only one we are going to be coming across this year. Stories like one that claimed President Buhari dead while holidaying in London went viral on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp are just one of the many to expect in the year 2017.

Facebook has come under criticism for not doing enough to weed out Fake News; though it decline to provide a listing of the banned sites, Google has banned more than 200 publishers since it passed a new policy against fake news but the fight against the fake news must be wholistic and all individuals with access to the internet should be vaccinated against fake news.

A few days back when a person drops a post in one of the Whatsapp groups saying President Buhari is dead. I was quick to respond that this it was a lie that can only be promoted by faceless clowns and haters.

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From an unanticipated quarter, someone asked are you sure and how do you know that the post is fake? Because and many other that usually ask that same question, here is how to tell the difference between a fake news or rumour and genuine ones.

The Source Is Known to Be Shady

Certain sources are known to be unreliable. The number of people that visit the site does not count for example The Daily Mail, in particular, is regarded as one of Britain’s less reputable publications. However, it is also the world’s most visited newspaper site

Other Stories From This Source Are doubtful

The list of fake websites was by no means exhaustive, and new ones open up every week. So how can you tell if a site is reliable if it’s not on any list of fake websites? One way is to do a quick scan of some of the headlines and first few paragraphs of other stories on the site.

Let’s say you’re interested in a story with the headline, “President Buhari Dies in London.” That certainly sounds plausible. But if some of the other headlines on that site read ” Tinubu, Atiku, Sheriff and Markafi plotting mega-party alliance” “Herbalist Accidentally Discovers Cure for Aids” and “Governors force Oshibajo to resign,” you should be wary.

Reputable News Sites Aren’t Carrying It

One of the easiest ways to figure out if a news story is legitimate or not is to check it against the stories posted on other reputable sites. Let’s stick with the example of “President Buhari Dies in London. You become alarmed, but realise you’re finding out about this upsetting news on a website that you don’t recognise. Let’s call it SolidNews.com. Simply conduct an online search for “President Buhari” and see what comes up. If sites like NAN, Punch, Vanguard, PremiumTimes and Rezponder are running the same story, it’s likely to be true. A single article from a suspicious source or facebook post and tweets making a grand claim should be viewed with heavy scepticism. If no reliable news outlets are also reporting the story, then it’s likely fake.

However, make sure to delve a bit deeper. If The Rezponder and others all cite SolidNews.com as the source for the president’s death story that puts you right back where you started from. You need to find a reputable source that has done its own reporting on the story to ensure its truth and accuracy.

It Predicts a Future Disaster

A fair number of fake news stories hook readers in because they predict a future disaster. Yes, some of them are pretty incredible and seem obviously fake — the planned date for President Buhari resignation, for example, or Trump endorses Jonathan for 2019. But some seem rather believable.

Consider any disaster story carefully, especially if it’s paired with a specific date. Such a story may be true, for example, stories about the AIDS epidemic and the Ebola crisis. But more often than not, it’s hyperbole or just plain false.

It Reveals a Cure for a Major Illness

Humans are not only fascinated by potential disasters but by illnesses, diseases and human-caused conditions (like global warming or pollution). That’s why another type of fake news story is so prevalent —the curing of a major illness or disease, or the solution to an important human race issue, such as the lack of clean drinking water

The Website Carries a Disclaimer

Above-board satirical websites like The Onion tell you they’re peddling satire. Less-honest sites sometimes issue confusing disclaimers. NewsBuzzDaily, for example, writes on every page that it contains both “real shocking news” and “satire news,” then adds, “Please note that articles written on this site are for entertainment and satirical purposes only.” So is it all satire or only partial satire? And if partial, which stories are true?

Some of them defend themselves by saying its site carries a disclaimer, and they do. “This is Satire!” is printed at the bottom of every page. But those words lie hidden within a black

The Story Is a Little Too Funny or Interesting

The goal of posting fake news stories is to attract readers/traffic to their site. One way to do this is to run really funny and Bizarre compelling stories. The more eyebrow-raising a story is, the more people seem to want to read and share it, and other news outlets to reprint it. Those are the kinds of stories fake sites thrive upon. So your antenna should go up if you read such a piece.

The Website Has an Odd Domain Name

One of the easier ways to spot suspect stories is if they’re located on a news site with a strange domain name.  So-called fake news publishers will sometimes take advantage of “.co” domains by appearing similar to legitimate news sites that would normally end in “.com.”Sometimes if a story originates on a site ending in “.ru” or “.co”, that’s a red flag. “.Ru” is used by the Russian federation, while “.co” is used by Colombia; these two extensions are considered suspect.

Other untrustworthy sites will try to imitate a reputable, well-known website by incorporating it into its own URL; for example, using Punch as part of its URL: http://www.punch-real-news.com. Another trick? Using nearly the same URL as a popular site, like using responder.com instead ofrezponder.com, omitting a letter or two, or misspelling the name. Very long, complex domain names are another sign something might be amiss.

The Story Makes You Angry

Ever read a story that really made you mad? Or that seemed to tap into your innermost insecurity or fear? Maybe it was about the President Buhari is dead due to economic recession. Don’t automatically believe what you just read and pass it on. Many false news stories purposely play on our fears and anxieties, knowing that doing so will make people follow their emotions and not their brains.

Use the five W’s and one H Approach (5W-1H)

As guards against falling into the fake news trap and is expected to come in the torrent in the year 2017 ask the following questions.

WHO wrote the article?

Is there a byline or author? Looking at who wrote the article can reveal a lot of information about the news source. Searching through the author’s previous articles can show whether they are legitimate writers or have a history of hoaxing

WHAT is the publication? Is it a credible or trusted news source?

WHERE do the sources inside come from? Are they named? Are they legit? Are they absent?

WHEN was it published? Check the date and time of publication A missing date could raise a flag.

WHY did the writer create it? What was the motivation? Would you share it with someone?

HOW did it make you feel?

Angry? Excited? Any other strong emotions? That could be another flag. Is it suspicious? To what degree can you fix it?

Read past the headline

One way that fake news gets amplified is that busy readers don’t look past the headline or opening paragraph before they decide to share an article. Fake news publishers sometimes exploit this tendency, writing the beginning of a story in a straightforward way before filling in the rest with obviously false information.

Look out for questionable quotes and photos.

It’s incredibly easy for fake news writers to invent false quotes, even attributing them to major public figures like Robert Mugabe. Be sceptical of shocking or suspicious quotes, and search to see if they have been reported elsewhere.

Likewise, it’s easy to take a photo from one event and say it’s from another just as Governor did in a China Airport. Images can also be altered for a certain story. Reverse image searches, either through Google or tools like TinEye, can help you find where an image originated.

Always Add a  healthy Dose of Scepticism

Don’t automatically believe what you read, especially if it’s a story that seems designed to be inflammatory or to spark some kind of strong emotion in you. Look for evidence in the story itself that backs up the claims being made. Often, you’ll notice that there simply isn’t any.

Keep an eye out for outrageous or obviously contrived quotes, anonymous sources only or a complete lack of quotes in a story. These are all red flags.

Beware confirmation bias

People are often drawn to stories that reinforce the way they see the world and how they feel about certain issues. Fake news is no exception, and many of the articles that fall under its umbrella are designed to stir up emotion in readers and prey on their biases.

It’s important to check that news stories are based on fact, rather than sharing them because they support one side of an argument or bolster pre-existing political beliefs. Fake news peddlers are taking the problem to new levels and will stop at nothing to confuse, befuddle and downright bamboozle you into sharing them.

Slay It , Don’t Spray It

In other words, share responsibly. An effective way of combatting fake news is simply to prevent it from spreading on social media. Don’t share articles you haven’t properly read, just because they make an overall point that you happen to agree with. Make sure you’re part of the solution, not part of the problem. Share responsibly.

Ola Balogun, Originally written for The Rezponder

Latest News, Politics

Buhari, Trump; the Seductive Illusion of Presidential Power

It is common practice that, the will of the people ought to be clear after an election; but, as President Trump assumes office as the 45th President of the United States, there are deeply troubling signs that the country’s democracy, after 227 years of seeking a perfect union, might be said to have left the rails.

Same way as Buhari, Trump made a number of claims about what he’ll do…but which ones can he really carry out? Can he really deport millions of undocumented immigrants? Can he really build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and have Mexicans pay for the wall? Can he really repeal and replace Obamacare? Can he really cancel the Paris climate agreement? Can he really ban Muslims from entering the U.S.? Can he really defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups? Can he really “lock up” Hillary Clinton? Will he move the U.S. Embassy in Isreal to Jerusalem?

Can he? Will he? these questions are fueled by more than idle curiosity. Nevertheless, we can only watch the man who has defiled any previous analysis about him.

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It is a glaring reality that politicians make all kinds of passionate and wild campaign promises during elections; which they swiftly jettison or deny after they resume office. Just as President Buhari’s campaign promises that were denied or jettisoned, so would President Trump jettison some of the popular lines he used to woo millions of US voters.

Isn’t it sad, that in spite of Barack Obama’s vehement vows during the 2008 election, where he repeatedly promised to shut down the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, the prison is still open 8 years later, even after delivering his farewell speech in Chicago? Equally, he is unable to fulfil his promises to end the war in Iraq and‘finish the job in Afghanistan’ just as George W. Bush before him never established the‘Healthy Communities Innovation Fund’.

In the same vein, Italy Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, never fulfilled his promise to sell his assets in Fininvest (later Mediaset), after 12 years, having served three terms. Similarly, Fianna Fáil’s of Ireland never “permanently end all hospital waiting lists” by 2004 nor did he “create a world-class health service” through any reforms or expanded healthcare coverage with “200,000 extra medical cards”, as he had promised during his campaigns. Also, Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke was unable to fulfil his “by 1990 no Australian child will be living in poverty” campaign promise!

Just as Buhari may never be able to stabilize the Naira at 1USD to 1NGN nor create 720,000 jobs in the 36 states in the Federation yearly (20,000 per State), pay 5,000 monthly to the 25 million Poorest Nigerians and create at least 5 million new homeowners in the present four-year tenure of his administration; President Donald Trump may also find it rather difficult to fulfil his promises: “to build a great, great wall on our southern border” and “have Mexico pay for that wall”.

Presently, Buhari has begun to find his ‘war against corruption’, a herculean task, perhaps, more than he probably had presumed. Thus, one do not doubt the fact that Trump would face strong opposition over the delivery on his campaign promise of “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.

Just as some of the ex-Buharists in Nigeria are expressing some level of disenchantment,  people in the myriad “alt-right” communities that have flourished online in recent years are already expressing their dissatisfaction that Trump appears to have abandoned, even before his inauguration, the most extreme of his policies- at least for now, such as building a wall and prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

Congressional opposition

As the Nigeria Senate is frustrating the controversial $30billion (about N9 trillion) external borrowing requested by President Muhammadu Buhari, initially rejected not only his Ambassadors’ list and his nominated anticorruption commission boss as well as candidacy of American-based Nigerian professor, Akintunde Akinwande, as the head of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, So will Trump have to deal with the US Congress on his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and have Mexico pay for that wall and ban Muslims from entering the U.S. among other wild promises.

He will surely try as he has already promised to withdraw from TTP. Trump would eventually have to acknowledge the fact that being a president is not the same as being the CEO of the country and that Congress would have a significant role in his administration.

The President represents one of the three branches of government and Democracy was designed to work in that way. The architects of democracy feared an efficient government. They did not believe in the goodness of man but in his corruption. They understood the need for government but wanted its authority to be limited. Good as Buhari was known to be, according to history, his power is limited. Similarly, bad as Trump might have given people impression to be, his power would also be limited.

The APC government has convinced Nigerians beyond reasonable doubt that, a careful reading of a presidential candidate’s policy papers is one of the most pointless exercises, imaginable. Even if a candidate had read these documents, believes in them and will not deny it went in power, he is still not in control of what his own policies appear like, because, the Senate is important as well. This is a lesson many Nigerians are realising now, so will the supporters of President Trump.

Nevertheless, in the words of Jeff Fishel, many presidents just like President Buhari invariably attempt to carry out their promises. However, the main reason some pledges are not or will never be redeemed is congressional opposition, not presidential flip-flopping.

President Donald Trump will also wake up to that sobering reality and one can only hope he wouldn’t want to abscond like President Buhari after this January 20 inauguration.

Illusion of Presidential Power

Just as any Presidents, Buhari and Trump wish to convey an image of strength and effectiveness to the public, but in reality, the president’s power is often constrained by a number of factors.

In 1981, presidential scholar, Hugh Heclo labelled the perception that the president is in charge of the government the “illusion of presidential government.” Portraying strength and confidence can be a successful strategy, but it can also backfire because a president who appears to successful may get blamed later for anything that goes wrong.

Needless to say, our Constitution divides the powers, between the legislative and the judicial and the executive branches. So, no President of Nigeria or that of United States has the overwhelming power that dictators have been known to possess and wield, for example.

However, a President has the bully pulpit. He can talk and be heard, and people listen. A lot of this will be seen in the regime of President Trump, however, in a free political system, you lead not by command but by persuasion.

Can He Build His Wall, Will It Work? Will Mexico really pay for it?

Is Trump going to keep his promise and build some sort of barrier on a border that spans roughly the full 2,000 miles? Will the wall be real in brick or any other form of fencing? And will Mexico really pay for it?

If Trump doesn’t keep the promise to build the wall, or builds something that appears to be more “fence” than “wall,” or cannot get Mexico to pay either directly or indirectly for whatever he builds, then the new president will have failed at what seems to be the major component of his immigration agenda.

There are indications that President Trump wants to pay for the border wall upfront through the appropriations process and then later seek reimbursement from Mexico. Thus, U.S. taxpayers including 73 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein will have to pay for it up front, then Trump will have to come up with a plan to get Mexico to pay for it. Paying for what the voted against, that would be a tough pill to swallow, and so we can expect pushback from the states and even a lawsuit or two.

Can Donald Trump Ban Muslims As President? 

But can President Trump really ban all Muslims? And what does that mean for American citizens who are Muslim? The short answer is: it’s complicated.

When Trump first proposed “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in December 2015, numerous legal experts at several major news networks denounced the idea as blatantly unconstitutional.

The Constitution’s of US guarantees of religious freedom, due process, and equal treatment under the law should preclude any American immigration official from demanding that an immigrant (or tourist, or businessperson, or student) announce their religion upon arrival.

In fact, a 2012 policy memo from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services tells officials to “avoid questions about a person’s religious beliefs or practices unless they are relevant to determine the individual’s eligibility for a benefit. Do not make any comments that might be taken as a negative reflection upon any other person, race, religion, or country.”

Though the statement calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States has been removed from Donald Trump’s campaign website. According to online caches, the page still displayed the message on the 8th November, but the redirect to the donation page was added later that night before it was announced that he had won.

He and his allies have consistently defended the ban during the election campaign, but the removal of the statement from his website may lead some to question whether he will actually enforce it.

In November 2016 the then President-elect Trump was strolling the Capitol with congressional leaders, he walked away from reporters who asked whether the plan to ban Muslims remained on his agenda.

As President Trump takes oath of allegiance and become the 45th President of United States with the immense power that comes with the office and the heavy responsibility attached to being one of the few men with nuclear codes at their figure tips , one can only hope that the man wake up to the reality of keeping the world united.

U.S Embassy in Jerusalem?

As much as the heart of many Jews long for an Israel with Jerusalem as its capital, moving the U.S. Embassy to that city would be an empty gesture from a president with demonstrated overt and covert prejudices. Such a move would not be about a support for Israel or Jews; rather it would be about an underlying prejudice against Muslims.

No doubt, this move, would inflame people’s tension needlessly; thereby, placing such an embassy in greater danger. Also, it would put in jeopardy, the fragile peace with the Palestinians and could light the fuse of another deadly and costly war in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, it could be a blessing in disguise as those people who seem rather divided in the Arab world, would now have a rallying point, which would draw them together, not only against Israel but against the United States as well.

Ones fear is that Friedman’s appointment may encourage the right-wing Israeli government to take drastic and unprecedented action against Palestine, such as: attempting an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. But the question is “Would the international community fold its arms and allow this to happen without challenging President Trump or America?

Ola Balogun, a policy Analyst and social commentator is a columnist with The Rezponder

Politics, Religion

Pastor Adeboye, FRC Boss Sack, and the clash of RCCG Pastors in Buhari’s Govt

Many who had followed closely the Nigeria political landscape in the recent time would have known that controversy will trail the news of the “stepping aside” of Pastor Enoch Adeboye; one of the most powerful and highly connected Pastor of Nigeria Pentecostal Megachurch, Redeemed Christian Church of God RCCG that Andrew Rice, writing in The New York Times, calls “one of [Africa’s] most vigorously expansionary religious movements. However, what many did not know is that the fight is purely between RCCG Pastors.

Pastor Enoch Adeboye is the General Overseer or what is his current status now, FRCN Boss Jim Obazee was a former Zonal Pastor of the RCCG according to a competent source within the church inner circle that revealed that to naij.com was not unanticipated was suspended some years back and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Pastor Okechukwu Enelamah of same RCCG. The minister was the only candidate nominated by Vice President Osinbajo also a senior pastor of RCCG.

Many sentiments were raised by Nigerians. Audaciously, some highly placed citizens and officeholders insisted that President Muhammad Buhari led APC Government is deliberately “dabbling” into Church leadership. They ignore the fact that in the current issue at hand, the only one was is not a Pastor is probably President Buhari. Some when ahead to argue that If Adeboye has to retire as GO because of FRCN shouldn’t the Sultan also go as President of Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs?

Some posited that why implement a Governance Code that has been suspended and that thus no need to comply. Trust Nigerians, when it comes to religious matter sentiments are in top gear. So one will be less surprised some section of the public speculated that the law is targeted at weakening the church and make it vulnerable to attack from the imaginary enemies of the Church in the presidency.

The FRCN Code

In 3rd Day of June 2011, the Senate passed the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Bill which created the Financial Reporting Council. The FRC replaced the defunct Nigeria Accounting Standard Board (NASB) then under Jim Obazee who subsequently became FRCN Executive Secretary.

In an act to repeal the Nigerian Accounting Standards Board Act, No.22 of 2003 and enact the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, The FRC was charged with the responsibility for, among other things, developing and publishing accounting and financial reporting standards to be observed in the preparation of financial statement of public entities in Nigeria and for related matters.

The council was expected to – ensure good corporate governance practices in the public and private sectors of the economy.

It must be stated at this junction that the Code is applicable to all Not-for-Profit Organisations NFPOs in Nigeria whatever the description or nomenclature adopted and not to cut Pastor Adeboye or RCCG to size as some people have erroneous posited recently.

Though, the extreme diversity of the sector renders impossible comprehensive listing, but some illustrative examples of such organisations include Charitable, Educational, Professional and Scientific, Religious, Literary/Artistic, Political /Administrative Grouping, Social and recreational clubs and Associations, Trade Unions and Others.

Now, let’s go to the corporate governance codes (for Non-Profit) itself. The code tries to do is to first enforce the minimum requirements of Part C of the CAC under which religious organisation are registered.

For instance, religious bodies are supposed to make Annual Returns of its Financial Statements to CAC after the audit. Not for Profits also needs to organise yearly Annual General Meetings where they present their annual financial statement to its members. It reinforces the legal fact that any entity that collects money must “render accounts”. Whether a bank, a business owner or a religious body.

There appears to be no dispute about this requirement even among religious organisations. However, there is the small issue of Tax. Should religious organisations be taxed when they engage in “For Profit” activities even if that activity is for the benefit of the organisations?

Obazee and his team maintained that they must be taxed if they engaged in activities designed to extract financial benefit.

 “If they pursue non-charitable activities running schools, hospitals, they are to account for them separately as profit-making entities” Jim Obazee insisted.

This is one of d areas of conflict as many Churches have subsidiaries under them that have blurred the lines between charity and profitability. The second and the obviously most contentious issue have to do with Tenure of the Founder. Now this is exactly what the code says.

Should the FRC code be suspended?

It must be understood that for an NGO, there are 3 governance organs: The Board of Trustees, The Governing Board and The Management Committee.  Now typically, and in most cases, the founder usually occupies the position of the head of these 3 organs at the same time. So the code prescribes that

  1. The founder can only Head one of these organs
  2. If he already heads all of them, he needs to relinquish two of the organs.
  3. If he has served as head of any of those organs for than 20 years and is then 70, he must resign expect for Board of Trustees.

Even with these provisions, the code recognises the unique position of founders as the “Spiritual Leader” of their organisations. Meaning the code does not in any way invalidate the spiritual authority which these organs subscribe to and to which they derive their relevance.

The notion that these codes should not be applicable to churches as their matters are celestial and not terrestrial is utterly ridiculous.

If they are celestial as said by a SAN, then why seek registration under Part C of the CAC Laws? Why not just go to heaven to get registered? And if they make money in Nigeria, they have to pay their tax and not in heaven.

These organisations are legal entities known to law. They can sue and be sued. They can exist or cease to exist. They are very terrestrial. They are charitable organisations that survive on gifts and donations. They need to be transparent and accountable. This must be emphasised.

Why suspend a law that it will help the country and the religious bodies to separate the wheat from the shaft and bring transparency to the church and the Mosques so that we will all be accountable before Man and later before God.

The Church, the FRC and Jim Obazee

Ab initio many stakeholders had issues with some provisions within the code but they were given the opportunity to make submissions.  The FRC was thereafter sued by some Pastors representing the Pentecostal churches in July 2015. They sought six reliefs among which were: a declaration that the Not-for-Profit Codes 2015 were illegal and unconstitutional.

The Pastors argued that it amounts to duplication of the functions of the Corporate Affairs Commission CAC that the Term of reference in section 1, as well as sections 8,9,10 and 37, are illegal and unconstitutional being inconsistent with section 7 and 8 of FRC Act

Needless to say, the plaintiffs who claimed to be representing Pentecostals lost the case in court as the court ruled in favour of FRC.  In light of the court order in its favour, the FRC went ahead to Release the Governance Codes effective from 17 Oct 2016.

It came with a mandatory compliance for Private Sector and ”Comply or Justify non-compliance” for Not-For-Profit organisations.

The Clash between the Minister and the Sacked FRC Boss

Few hours after the news of ‘stepping aside’ Pastor Adeboye broke, strong indications emerged that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu  Enelamah, and the Executive Secretary  of the Financial Regulatory Council of Nigeria, Mr. Jim Obazee, were engaged in a face-off over an FRCN regulation, which stipulates   20  years tenure  for heads of   religious groups   and civil society groups in the country.

The Minister was reported to have written FRC boss now former, directing him to suspend the implementation of the regulation. But it was learnt that Obazee defied the instruction of the minister, insisting that the implementation of the regulation would go ahead.

Findings showed that Obazee said the implementation of the regulation could not be suspended because there was no gazette that indicated that it had been amended or suspended.

It was gathered that though the minister’s letter to the FRC boss was written on October 17, 2016, the council had insisted on the resignation of heads of other affected groups.

In the three-paged query to the FRC seen by BusinessDay and signed by Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, the supervisory ministry to the Financial Reporting Council, it was asked to provide among others the regulatory approach that undergirds the Code; the clear conflict between provisions of the Code and the Legislation –Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act, 2011.

As a strategic document, FRC was also asked to provide evidence of the adoption of the Code by the Board of the Council and the Minutes of the meeting at which the Code was adopted by the Board.

Among other questioned raised, Financial Reporting Council is to tell the Federal Government whether the committee on Corporate Governance, in Section 51 of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act, 2011, empowered to issue the Code of Corporate Governance, in a position to act in the absence of the Board of the Council in the light of provisions of Sections 2 (1) and 10 (d) of the Act.

The Federal Government recognises that an enabling environment for business is critical to the rejuvenation and sustainable growth of Africa’s biggest economy. The environment will demand careful, deliberate, strategic and informed actions at addressing the impediments to doing business in Nigeria.

An informed source told BusinessDay that Financial Reporting Council was meant to understand that any regulation to be introduced must align with the philosophy underpinning the ease of doing business undertaking; noting that it is therefore entirely possible that the imperatives of the Code can and must be reconciled with the demands of ease of doing business.

Base on the foregoing, Federal Government directed that the implementation of the National Code of Corporate Governance be suspended forthwith to allow for the effective and proper resolutions of substantive and procedural concerns arising from the reported issuance of the Code, our source further disclosed.

Also, the Federal Government queried whether the Code can supersede the Legislation from where it originates. Financial Reporting Council was also asked to provide relevant answers relating to the conflict between provisions of the Code –which is a subsidiary legislation, and a principal enactment – the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).

The now ex-Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council had last month issued the Code it referred to as the “National Code of Corporate Governance for the Private Sector in Nigeria 2016” claiming it became effective from October 17, 2016.

The issue that most concern me now is whether or not a minister has the power to suspend the activities of an agency known to Law. My take is that there are legal grounds to challenge the powers the FRC seems to be flexing. And we must pursue this to its logical end.

Recall that this was the same agency used to illegally suspend a sitting CBN Governor. So the FRC as constituted is not without freckles. My final take is that these governance codes are in the interest of the church and we should embrace it rather than fight it.

Thanks for following. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions.

The Minister and his RCCG link

Among the 37 nominees put forward by the various interests groups within the presidency, Pastor Okechukwu Enelamah was the only candidate nominated by Vice President Osinbajo a senior pastor of RCCG. So just like the Vice President Osinbajo, the Minister; Okey Enelamah is a Pastor and active in his local church, serving his congregation in a pastoral capacity.

According to Jumi Rhodes list of ordained pastors in RCCG who are in Buhari’s government aside from the Vice President are Mr. Babatunde Fowler – Ag. Chairman, Federal Internal Revenue Service(FIRS), Pastor Ben Akabueze – Special Adviser on Planning to the President, Pastor Laolu Akande – Spokesman to Nigeria’s Vice President
and the Minister in question, Pastor Okechukwu Enelamah; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.

People have tried to link the fact the Minister is also a Pastor in RCCG to speculate on his true intentions, but to be fair to him there was nothing in his letter that suggested he was pushing a disguised church or RCCG agenda. But it will not be out of place to speculate that his religious link can also play part in his insistence.

His letter was in line with concerns of the private sector than it was about concerns of leadership and succession for the church or other religion organisation. The FRC refused to honour the suspension request on the basis that it was not gazette.

With this foregoing alone, one can safely conclude that it is not correct to say “PMB administration is “Dabbling in Church Leadership to weaken it”. It’s clearly not true.

If anything, the evidence available to us points to the fact that President Buhari may be trying to ensure that the code in its present form is not implemented.

It appears that the President Buhari might be under intense pressure to sack Jim Obazee because of some “EFCC troubles” of his own. But like some people put it, many Ministers and appointees of the President have at one point or other embarrassed the regime and they were not sacked immediately.

Nevertheless, one may need to sympathies with President Buhari for his long persecution by religious bigots despite being surrounded by Pastors. However, the dogged protagonist of rule of law ought not to be made a sacrificial lamp by a government that pride itself on the anti-corruption and transparency tenet. Again, it is insubordination for the Executive Secretary not to have obeyed his Coordinating Minister but a sledgehammer on that premise appears too harsh.

By Ibrahim Ola Balogun

Policy Analyst and Social Commentator

Originally Published of The Rezponder

 

Health, Latest News

Trapped in Serbia, migrants seek refuge in derelict warehouse

More than 1,000 migrants, trapped in Serbia after fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Central Asia, have occupied a derelict warehouse in the capital Belgrade, where they are preparing to tough out a bitter Balkan winter.

More than 100,000 migrants have passed through Serbia this year, from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, to seek sanctuary in the wealthy countries of northern Europe. But border closures have left many stranded.

“We want to go to Italy, Germany, France, but the border is closed at Hungary and Croatia,” said Najib, who said he was from Afghanistan.

Around him, men warmed their hands on camp fires, as smoke drifted up into the high rafters, and others perched on car tyres as they washed at a makeshift sink in a vain attempt to keep away the filth of the tumbledown building.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of refugees swept through the Balkans, prompting countries to throw up near-impenetrable barriers to block them. More than 6,400 refugees are trapped in Serbia, 1,200 of them in this warehouse, aid workers say.

Some who had made it further north said they were beaten by police at the Hungarian border and sent back to Belgrade. Many had Serbian documents telling them they had no grounds to remain – but few have the means to return home.

“Here, look at this place, it’s very dirty. I become sick,” said Imrar Khan, 17, who left Pakistan three months ago. Dozens of migrants bed down in rows between piles of garbage in the warehouse, near the city’s central station.

Authorities blame people traffickers for much of the influx. Since the beginning of the year, they have prevented 5,000 illegal border crossings and charged 356 people with the smuggling of around 2,000 people.

Latest News, Report

Iraqis are world’s most generous to strangers – global survey

More than half of people in 140 countries surveyed had helped strangers – with the most generous in countries hit by disaster and war

Although torn by civil war, Iraq is the world’s most generous country towards strangers in need, according to a new global index of charitable giving.

Eighty one percent of Iraqis reported helping someone they didn’t know in the previous month, in a global poll commissioned by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

For the first time since CAF began the poll in 2010, more than half of people in 140 countries surveyed said they had helped strangers – with many of the most generous found in countries hit hard by disaster and war.

Despite suffering instability and violence, Iraq has twice been ranked top in terms of helping strangers. Libya, with its own internal conflict, was second on the list this year and Somalia, embroiled in civil war for 25 years, fourth.

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“I think that the lesson here is societies are incredibly resilient and that large scale disasters tend to activate a collective humanitarian response,” said Adam Pickering, international policy manager at CAF, which promotes charitable giving.

In terms of donations to charity, Myanmar held the top position, with nine out of ten surveyed saying had they given during the previous month.

The Southeast Asian country also retained its position for the third year at the top of the World Giving Index – a combined measure of respondents reporting help to strangers, donations of money and time spent volunteering.

The report said the generous giving reflected the practice of “Sangha Dana”, where the country’s Theravada Buddhist majority donate to support those living a monastic lifestyle.

The United States ranked second on the combined measure of generosity.

The World Giving Index is based on data form a global poll by market research firm Gallup of 140 countries.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Business, Entrepreneurship, Latest News

Economic Recession: How businesses can create value in difficult times

We are experiencing tough economic times in Nigeria, and many sectors of business have been brutally affected by the recession, which has naturally resulted in rising costs of goods, and consumers spending less. Now is the time when consumers want to get real value for their money and spend it on what they regard as necessary and lasting. At the end of the short stick are the small business owners who have to adjust to rising inflation, a high cost of running a business and consumers’ regressing spending habits.

The journey of an entrepreneur is an unpredictable one – satisfying and sometimes joyless. In these times, the big issues that create obstacles and impede growth such as inadequate power, security and high cost of doing business have escalated. The recession has somewhat created competition for the little resources.

However, small business owners have an opportunity to keep their businesses going. This may not result in the profits that they have gained prior to these times, but it would gain them the one thing that they need to stay afloat – consistent business. How best to accomplish consistent business than providing what consumers want – value.

What is value? In this case, it is focusing and improving on the little things that they can control; the things that they can influence, the things that do not require government intervention; improving people and their internal operations to keep them operative. It is not a guarantee for success; however, it can make a big difference.

It must be stated that the one aspect the small business owner requires no government intervention is satisfying the customer. Without customers, there is no business. Therefore, the customer is the means to create and offer value to keep businesses afloat. The benefit is the opportunity to establish lifetime value customers, who will serve as a lifeline, and whose patronage can ensure growth and stability. These are just one part of the strategy to make head way in a bad economy.

Whether or not small business owners can afford to hire staff, the following are points for reflection on how to create value that can affect customers and business sustainability.

Five-Star customer service: We associate a five-star rating as an endorsement of the level of quality service rendered by a business. The hospitality businesses, the movie businesses, among others, are one for the few sectors, known to require such rating. The financial services rating resemble grading scores +A, B etc. The point is offering value requires offering five-star customer services. If customers are going to be selective because they have a choice where they purchase goods and service, the question is: are small businesses poised to be the one that the customers stick with? Customer service is an experiential process; it’s about relationships. Small business owners should invest more in their relationships as part of offering value. Naturally, people make repeated purchases owing to familiarity, comfort and convenience. A customer would rather do business with someone they feel they can relate with, than an entity where they can just purchase things. Therefore, small business owners should double down on building quality relationships.

Invest in training: Technical know-how and knowledge always need an upgrade. When an economy takes a turn for the worse, it is usual that small businesses cut back, and this may result in the loss of jobs. Regardless, a bad economy also presents opportunities. This is a time to be innovative: to seek ways to improve operations, to run leaner, and to invest in upgrading skills or acquiring new ones, or creating a new service. As the economy improves, those who have invested in these could come out on top.

This is a situation whereby the cup is either viewed as half-full or half-empty. There is a good story about how to see “opportunity”. It’s about two men from two different shoe companies who visited a town in the hinterland to find opportunities to set up a factory. When they got there, they both saw people walking around barefoot. One sales man reported back that it was arid land because the people wore no shoes; the second sales man reported that because people wore no shoes, it was a great opportunity to establish a factory to make and sell shoes. Investing in training and knowledge can make us the second shoe salesman.

Get rid of bottlenecks: Technology has enabled small businesses to work faster and more efficiently. This is a chance to offer convenience and comfort. When a small business creates layers and layers of processes for customers to get products or answers, they raise barriers between them and the customers, which is the opposite of offering value.

Creatively solving problems: When customers encounter problems with products or services, they expect to get solutions from the business that they patronise. The take-back policy, or warranty after purchase, is not applied by many Nigerian businesses because the cost of a replacement may affect their bottom line. However, there must be alternative creative solutions to help customers, otherwise, they may likely move on to another business they perceive can solve their problems, even if at a higher premium, and give them value.

This is not an exhaustive list. But the point is, by offering high value to customers, constraints can spring opportunity. Small businesses can create opportunities to manage downtime and improve on it. Value is about the small details, not an elaborate showcase of goods and services. It’s about making investments in the business and the people, with an end goal in mind – attracting lifetime value customers in a downtime and beyond.

Business, energy, Latest News

Dangote acquires gas processing company in Netherlands

Dangote Industries Limited (DIL) has completed the acquisition of Twister B.V., a gas processing company headquartered in the Netherlands.
Twister B.V. used to be owned by Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1, before its recent acquisition by DIL along with its partner – First E&P.

A statement yesterday from DIL said the acquired company would help design and build the gas plants which would be critical in processing gas from oil fields for transportation via Dangote’s planned sub-sea pipeline (EWOGGS) for ultimate consumption by various industries and power plants.
Aliko Dangote, President & CEO of Dangote Industries Limited said, “This was an important acquisition for us. Twister’s cutting edge gas processing technology is fundamental to delivering our strategy to unlock about 3bcfd of gas in order to meet Nigeria’s gas needs.”

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Twister’s CEO, John Young said, “We are delighted in the confidence DIL and First E&P have shown in Twister to be their core provider of gas separation solutions. After a very thorough due diligence, our technology has been recognised as a key enabler to reduce gas project costs which is crucial in this current environment. We are excited to be part of the Dangote family of companies.”

It would be recalled that the refinery and fertilizer projects of Dangote Industries Limited are reported to have the capacity of creating a minimum of 235,000 new jobs – both direct and indirect jobs – as it becomes operational in the first quarter of 2019.
Aliko Dangote, who revealed this recently, also stated that the projects would cost a minimum of $17 billion.

Dangote said the $12 billion refinery would have a capacity of 650,000 barrels a day.
He assured that there would be the market for the refined products because even in Africa, only three countries had effective functioning refinery with others importing from abroad.
He said: “Our refinery will be ready in the first quarter of 2019. Mechanical completion will be end of 2018 but we will start producing in 2019.”

When the projects fully take off in 2019, Dangote said it would help the country save $5 billion spent on the importation of oil into the country.