By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
This is not just primitive rural superstition; [juju] is practised by all kinds of people, from illiterate herd boys to multi-degreed university professors. If you don’t understand the power of this belief, you will never truly grasp the rich albeit often incomprehensible spirituality of Africa. Lawrence Anthony, The Elephant Whisperer.
Nobody respects the law of Nigeria. Judges don’t. Police don’t. Lawyers don’t. Politicians don’t. Citizens don’t. Why? Because there are no consequences. Those who fear the laws are the downtrodden who have no godfathers. That is why stealing a goat is more dangerous than stealing billions. Nigeria is a country of absurdities. J. S. Okutepa. (SAN)
No be juju be this…
So, wetin be or what is juju?
juju; plural noun: jujus.
A charm or fetish, especially of a type used by some West African peoples. Supernatural power attributed to a charm or fetish. “Juju and witchcraft”.
Juju, an object that has been deliberately infused with magical power or the magical power itself; it also can refer to the belief system involving the use of juju. Juju is practised in West African countries such as Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Ghana, although its assumptions are shared by most African people.
Juju comes from the traditional African religion popularly known as voodoo. Juju refers specifically to objects used in conjunction with spells or curses, and like any practice or belief, it can be manipulated to create power over people.
Witches and juju things are absolutely fascinating—they can fly on broomsticks, do magic spells with their wands and stir up incredible potions in their cauldrons. They can ask for and do the unimaginable. In Nigeria, it is just about the unthinkable things they can and cannot do or are held liable for doing or not allowing to happen.
The Harry Potter books for example have made witches (and wizards) really cool recently – who wouldn’t want to be as smart as Hermione Granger, as brave as Ginny Weasley or play Quidditch as well as Cho Chang? However, in Nigeria, it is about child rights abuse and killings.
This admonition is not about juju or witchcraft but it is about juju and the witchcraft ‘worrying’ Nigeria. Kindly follow me for the next few paragraphs and then we can share thoughts.
Almost eight years and the government could not get one refinery working at full capacity, providing employment and serving Nigerians in a land blessed with the resources. A nation of all typologies of expertise in the oil sector and still cannot simply have an agreement on whether there is subsidy or not and what to do with it—no be juju be that!
Police follow PHCN abi DisCo officials to disconnect electricity from another police station. Meanwhile, DisCo is indebted to the Water Board and the Water Board is indebted to local contractors that supply purifying chemicals and the contractors cannot pay local tax because they are indebted to the local electrician who repairs household electronics destroyed as a result of terrible electricity current supplied to homes. We have changed names, balkanized the utility company, privatized it, funded it yet the energy problem persists, it is one hellish vicious cycle—No be juju be that!
How many times have you seen policemen wear protective gloves, or collect forensic evidence? Do we have a data bank? A country of different data capture for NIN, another for driver’s licence, another for BVN, even another set of data for ‘unavailable’ Nigerian passports (printed in another country). Yet, there’s ‘no-go-to’ data bank, wait…have you seen a desktop in a local police station, not-to-talk of a laptop, apart from the ‘big boys’—No be juju be that!
We close factories to build places of worship and then pray for jobs, every national celebration has an interdenominational service and Juma’at prayers as accompaniment, yet we are a religiously wicked people. Every Christian with his personal juju-man, and every Muslim her own ‘boka-man’. We do interfaith prayers at official events, meetings and steal afterwards, and then do thanksgiving; saying ‘na God ooo’—No be juju be that!
A government official builds a hospital and calls it world-class, and yet he goes to another country for healthcare. They commission schools they describe as world-class and yet they are kids, are schooling in puppet colleges in other climes. They live in villages and build castles in the US, and beg these dudes for aid and loans—no be juju be that!
We are venting on power relations across balance of the geographical spread called Nigeria. In other words, we want power to go the South, the North has had its share, we are talking Muslim-Muslim ticket, and can’t say Christian-Christian ticket. No one is talking about the Ogboni-Krishna ticket.
Sadly, we are stuck with if the President is from here the Vice must be from there in the only nation with the aberrations such as South-South, North East, North West, South East and too many juju-like political expediency laced necessities such as federal character, catchment area, indigene and non-indigene, educationally disadvantaged; still no way, In fact, historically, we have no history so we cannot agree on who is at fault or what the solution is—No be juju be that!
Who remembers in 2015, the Witches and Wizards Association of Nigeria (WITZAN) announced that it had endorsed Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate for the 2015 presidential election.
“We just held a meeting of witches in Kogi State where it was revealed to me that Jonathan would win the presidential election. He has the support of all witches to continue in office,” said a certain Dr Iboi, the President of the association.
Well, we can see that WITZAN’s pick ended up not winning the race. The following year, WITZAN made a cry for help, as the association released a statement for Nigerians to stop persecuting them, we are waiting for them towards 2023—no be juju be that!
Last week in the news, brother and mother colluded to murder a sibling. Another son attempted to kill his mother. Young lads ate their ‘poo’ in public and in the same week, three lads, the oldest being 20, beheaded the girlfriend of one of them, all for money ritual. A trend that has seen a scary rise in the last two years, and being the pretentious people that we are, acting like it’s new, only a few years back it was ‘panties stealing’ and till date, nobody has been arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and jailed—no be juju be that!
Our Federal Road Safety Corps Officers only work during the day and close by 5:00 pm and the roads can be left unsafe at night. Nigerians cannot be ‘de-jujulized’ by praying, by big grammar, by protests, the juju has to be engaged, the gatekeepers of power and resources in Nigeria are not up to 5000 but their juju is strong and is holding the nation down.
It is a sad reality that 2023 really does not offer much if we refuse to address the witchcraft that has beset the motherland if we refuse to see that all is not well and keep behaving like a bewitched people, a big storm is not far away, and if we don’t act, the disaster that looms—Only time will tell.
Financial Industry Players Must Collaborate to Satisfy Customers Needs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director of Interswitch Purepay, Mr Akeem Lawal, has called on critical players in the Nigerian financial service industry to put heads together to provide innovative solutions and unique offerings to customers.
According to him, customers deserve the best from financial industry players like banks, telecommunications companies and financial technology (fintech) firms in order to meet the 95 per cent financial inclusion target by 2024.
Mr Lawal, who delivered a presentation at the recently-concluded Nigerian Fintech Forum at the Civic Centre, Lagos, stated that the partnership will accelerate growth and deepen financial inclusion in the country.
He said despite the growth of the financial sector, customers are yearning for more innovative and seamless payment solutions, which must be designed to meet their needs strengthen the financial industry.
The tech expert said at the event themed Building Partnership for Growth, Exploring the Intersection of Banks, Telcos and Fintech Companies that the Nigeria financial industry has evolved tremendously over the years with customers transitioning from banking halls transactions to adopting digital payment services.
“As headline platinum sponsor, we are delighted to be sponsoring the Nigeria Fintech Forum because we believe that a platform like this will provide the opportunity for critical stakeholders in the financial industry to engage and proffer solutions that will consequently drive the growth of the financial Industry.
“At Interswitch, we will continue to design tailor-made solutions that speak to the need of every customer. Therefore, it is important for players in the financial industry, including the banks, telcos and fintechs to leverage collaboration to provide innovative and seamless solutions to customers. This is the only way we can meet the 95% financial inclusion target by 2024,” Mr Lawal stated.
Speaking during the panel session tagged Regulating Nigeria’s Fintech Industry, Building Investors Confidence Without Stifling Growth, another speaker, Mr Tyoyila Aga, who is Group Head, Financial Services Business at Interswitch, said it was important that players in the industry collaborate with regulators, keep abreast of new regulations and help strengthen compliance levels to grow the financial industry.
“At Interswitch, our approach to regulators is to work in harmonious ways with them and that is what we have been doing for two decades. This has helped us to understand regulations better and we urge other players to do same to grow the industry,” Mr Aga said.
Airtel Africa Gets $125m Credit Facility from Citibank
By Adedapo Adesanya
Top telecommunications company, Airtel Africa Plc, has announced the signing of a $125 million revolving credit facility with Citibank’s subsidiaries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This was contained in a disclosure sent to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited.
It was stated that the credit facility will provide Airtel Africa with the opportunity to save interest rates in exchange for achieving social impact milestones in such areas as digital inclusion and gender diversity.
The social impact projects will focus mainly on rural areas and women and are aligned with Airtel Africa’s recently launched sustainability strategy.
Airtel Africa’s newly secured $125 million credit facility is part of the telco’s corporate strategy to raise debt in its local operating companies. To this effect, the facility will come in both local currencies and US dollars. It will also have a 1-year tenor.
“This facility is in line with our strategy to raise debt in our local operating companies and will include both local currency and US dollar-denominated debt. The facility has a tenor up to September 2024 and will be used to support Airtel Africa’s operations and investments in four of its subsidiaries,” the statement said.
This is a big boost to the telco which operates in 14 African markets and has ongoing projects across several of these markets, including the recent acquisition of an additional 60 MHz spectrum for $40 million in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Airtel Africa’s business offerings range from telecommunications to mobile money services. It has a combined user base of about 131.6 million.
DisCos Reduce Number of Estimated Billing Customers by 16.3%
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that the number of Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) customers in Nigeria increased by 1.4 per cent from 10.37 million in 2020 to 10.51 million in 2021.
The report, Nigeria Electricity Report 2021, focuses on energy billed, revenue generated, and customers by DISCOS under the reviewed period.
The report said the number of metered customers rose by 36.2 per cent from 3.51 million in 2020 to 4.77 million in 2021, causing the number of estimated billing customers to decrease by 16.3 per cent from 6.86 million in 2020 to 5.74 million in 2021.
It was disclosed that in total, the value of electricity billed in 2021 grew by 5.9 per cent from 22,042.28 Gigawatts (Gwh) in 2020 to 23,360.59 (Gwh) in 2021, while the total revenue collected by the discos stood at N761.17 billion, 44.5 per cent higher than the N526.77 billion achieved in 2020.
A breakdown showed that the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recorded the highest number of metered customers in 2021 at 701,781, while Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) recorded the least with 65,098.
In terms of electricity supplied, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) recorded the highest in 2021 with 4,088.62 Gwh, while YEDC recorded the lowest at 422.00 Gwh.
Similarly, the highest revenue collected was by IKEDC with 155,012.01 million while the least collection was recorded in YEDC with 9,804.00m million.
More than 83 million Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity. This represents 43 per cent of the country’s population and makes Nigeria the country with the largest energy access deficit in the world.
The lack of reliable power is a significant constraint for citizens and businesses, resulting on annual economic losses estimated at N10.1 trillion, which is equivalent to about 2 per cent of GDP.
According to the now-discontinued World Bank Doing Business report for 2020, Nigeria ranked 171 out of 190 countries in getting electricity and electricity access is seen as one of the major constraints for the private sector.
To assist in mitigating this, the World Bank approved $500 million to support the government of Nigeria in improving its electricity distribution sector last year.
According to the global lender, the project will help boost electricity access by improving the performance of the DisCos through a large-scale metering programme.
In addition, the World Bank said financial support would be provided to private distribution companies only on achievement of results in terms of access connections, improved financial management and network expansion.
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