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Equities Market Outlook: Tilting Towards Value

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Growth vs Value Stocks

By Steve Brice

We maintain a bullish outlook for global equities in general for 2021. However, we are switching our bias from a preference for the so-called quality and growth stocks to an increasingly optimistic outlook for value equities.

At a high level, growth stocks are companies with a high expected earnings growth rate. Value stocks are companies that are cheap relatively to the rest of the market.

While valuations for all areas of the market look expensive relative to their own history, growth equities appear to have discounted a lot more good news and, therefore, there is scope for their value counterparts to play catch up.

It might sound strange, but growth stocks did extraordinarily well in 2020, despite the unprecedented recession. There are two main reasons for this. First, the sector composition of the growth universe of equities could hardly have been better suited for the pandemic year, with almost three-quarters of the index coming from 4 sectors – Technology, Consumer Discretionary, Healthcare and Communication Services – which were the main beneficiaries of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Second, the collapse in interest rates and bond yields reduced the discount rate feeding into equity valuation models. This had a much larger impact when it came to valuing growth companies where the future earnings are expected to rise sharply and sustainably. Therefore, much lower yields meant sharply higher valuations could be justified.

On the other side of the equation, the value style was hurt by its sector composition – with the two largest sectors being Financials and Industrials, while the weight of the Energy sector is 16 times that of its weight in the rival Growth index.

These sectors were amongst the worst hit by the sharpest recession on record (remember there was a bizarre day in 2020 when owners of crude oil were paying people to take it off their hands).

So, why do we think that value may outperform in 2021? We believe there are three key factors to watch when it comes to a potential pivot towards value – economic growth, inflation expectations and bond yields.

Stronger economic growth (above 3 per cent in the US and globally) and rising inflation expectations and bond yields would be seen as supportive to Value equities and detrimental to the growth style.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but in an environment of stronger global economic activity, the so-called growth equities lose their “growth” advantage.

We believe economic growth will rebound strongly in 2021 as coronavirus cases peak and vaccine distribution allows for significant economic reopening. The exact timeline for this is clearly uncertain, as shown by early disappointment in vaccination deployment and further spikes in COVID cases in Europe and the US, and to some extent in Asia.

However, we believe a tipping point will be reached over the coming months, resulting in much stronger growth. Potential further upside surprises on the economic growth front could come from fiscal policy in Europe and the US.

We are a bit more sceptical about sharp rises in either inflation expectations (given large excess capacity in the global economy) and bond yields (as central banks appear keen to intervene in bond markets to cap any increase in funding costs).

Subdued inflation and bond yields should not preclude the potential outperformance of value stocks in 2021 for three main reasons.

First, the sharp underperformance of value equities in 2020 means that even if they were just to return to the trend seen since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/8, this would lead to a sharp outperformance in the coming months.

Second, while value stocks look expensive on traditional metrics relative to their own history, this could easily change if the fortunes of companies were to improve from the depressed earnings outlook that most analysts and investors hold. Meanwhile, relative to their Growth counterparts, they are extremely cheap.

Finally, value stocks, after underperforming Growth for the past two decades, are unloved and under-owned. Therefore, there are likely more potential buyers out there than sellers, should the situation improve. This situation reminds me of George Soros’ adage that the worse a situation becomes, the less it takes to turn it around and the bigger the upside.

Of course, it is possible that we could be wrong and that value continues to underperform, especially if COVID is not eradicated, economic growth disappoints and bond yields go to fresh lows. This could continue to lead investors to favour Growth stocks. Therefore, it would be prudent to maintain some exposure to growth style, even as we tilt towards value.

Since the March 2020 lows, value stocks have underperformed, but they still rose 50 per cent to close the year largely unchanged.

Therefore, adding more exposure to this still-unloved area of the market and diversifying away slightly from the area that has risen over 80 per cent in the same period (and over 30 per cent in 2020) probably makes a lot of sense.

Steve Brice is Standard Chartered Bank’s Chief Investment Officer for Wealth Management

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African Leaders Must Prioritise Climate Risks—Verkooijen

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Professor Patrick Verkooijen Climate Risks

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

In this insightful and wide-ranging interview, Professor Patrick Verkooijen, Chief Executive Officer of Global Center on Adaptation discusses the organization’s establishment, its main objectives, challenges and plans for the future.

The Global Center on Adaptation in Africa (GCA Africa), based at the African Development Bank (AfDB), has launched the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program to mobilize $25 billion to scale up transformative actions on climate adaptation. It hopes to mobilize funds and bridge the financing gap for climate adaptation across Africa. Here are the interview excerpts:

What does the setting up of the Global Center on Adaptation mean for Africa?

Africa is on the frontline of our climate emergency. Five out of the 10 world’s most climate-vulnerable countries are in Africa. Contributing a meagre 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa is more victim than a contributor to climate change, with the bulk of its emissions deriving from deforestation and poor land-use practices. Climate change is already negatively affecting the continent’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Its impacts are showing up in extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves affecting most of the continent with severe economic consequences. Hurricanes Idai and Kenneth in 2018 that hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi affected over 3 million people, led to the death of over a thousand people and damaged infrastructure worth about $2 billion.

Compounding the already enormous climate challenges, COVID-19 has ushered in an era of multiple, intersecting systemic shocks, and one of its casualties has been our capacity to adapt and respond to escalating climate risks.

Investment in climate adaptation fell in 2020, even as more than 50 million people were affected. There is no doubt the adaptation challenge for Africa is extraordinary. For us, although the adaptation challenge is a global agenda, our priority is Africa.

We must make up for lost ground and lost time by accelerating action on climate adaption and resilience. Climate change did not stop because of COVID-19, and neither should the urgent task of preparing humanity to live with the multiple effects of a warming planet. If the virus is a shared global challenge so too should be the need to build resilience against future shocks.

In September last year, in the midst of the pandemic, we virtually launched our Africa office hosted by the African Development Bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Many African Heads of State and Government participated – they understand how vital accelerated adaptation action is because they are living with the impacts of climate change every day. Our rationale is that it doesn’t make sense to have an Africa office in isolation. We also have offices in Beijing and Dhaka because we think solutions that work well in South Asia, for example, could potentially also be translated to Africa and vice versa.

Do you target regions and different segments of the population in Africa? How do you determine and direct the activities of the GCA-Africa?

If we fail to include fairness and equity in how we adapt to a warming planet, we risk pushing millions of more people into poverty. We know how that story ends – with more conflict, migration and instability. With that in mind, we work closely with our partners including the African Adaptation Initiative and the African Development Bank to ensure our activities are directed towards where the need is greatest. Partnering with existing networks, platforms and organizations ensure that we don’t duplicate existing resources but can play a role in effectively filling the gaps that exist.

Right now, global, regional, national, subnational and local entities are working simultaneously, and in parallel to support adaptation actions and many important initiatives exist. However, the speed and scale of adaptation action is grossly insufficient to meet the demand and many stakeholders are not connected to the resources, knowledge, expertise or support others can offer them.

GCA is key to bridging this gap while ensuring at the same time that best practices can be replicated and scaled up in order to catalyse progress towards resilience in the most effective and efficient way.

Africa’s development – be it in infrastructure, agricultural production, urban development, and youth empowerment – can have a different path from other regions. Africa can have a development that is based on a deep understanding of climate risks for planning, resilient approaches with nature and people at the centre, and continuous innovations in technology, financing, and governance for a climate-smart-adapted future.

What are the long-term priority objectives here? But in the short-term, what projects would you tackle in Africa?

The short-term objective, in terms of the programs, is to make sure that when COVID-19 support packages are developed — and they are being developed in real-time by the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and other partners — they have resilience or adaptation action embedded in them.

Current estimates of the cost of climate change to Africa are between $7 – $15 billion per year. African countries are projected to experience clear detrimental macroeconomic consequences from climate change over the coming decades. The IMF estimates that this cost could rise to $50 billion by 2040, about 3% of the continent’s GDP. It is estimated that climate change could result in lower GDP per capita growth ranging, on average, from 10 to 13 per cent, with the poorest countries in Africa displaying the highest adaptation deficit. So, it’s important we act, and we act now.

Let me give an example. As part of the recovery package in Africa and other continents, there is a lot of investment in infrastructure. We want to make sure that these investments have climate risk embedded in their design and hence in their implementation and maintenance. We don’t want to build infrastructure anymore which will be destroyed when the next floods come.

For us, there is a very simple business case, over and above a moral argument, that investing in adaptation is good economics. We think that it is absolutely vital that, in the development of these new infrastructure projects or agriculture projects, that the climate lens is being applied consistently, and that is what we are planning to do in Africa long-term.

We are developing tools, guidelines, methodologies, and innovation programs for governments and development partners to do precisely that. You cannot develop properly without taking climate into consideration. There is this integrated approach that is not always applied, not only in Africa but also across the globe. That is what we are working on.

Since the start of this initiative, what would you consider as your main achievements on the continent? How did you overcome the initial challenges in order to get these positive results?

The urgency of the compounded COVID-19 and climate crises is compelling a new and expanded effort to accelerate momentum on Africa’s adaptation efforts.

At the GCA, we are joining forces with the African Development Bank to use their complementary expertise, resources and networks to develop and implement a new bold Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) to galvanize climate-resilient actions through a triple win approach to address COVID-19, climate change, and the economy.

The AAAP will contribute to closing Africa’s adaptation gap, support African countries to make a transformational shift in their development pathways by putting climate adaptation and resilience at the centre of their critical growth-oriented and inclusive policies, programs, and institutions.

As part of this program, just a couple of weeks ago, at the inaugural Climate Adaptation Summit, hosted by the Netherlands, we announced a new program to deploy billions of dollars to help young people in Africa build a new digitally-driven model of agriculture that can feed the continent’s people and boost prosperity even as the planet heats up.

The African Development Bank has already committed to putting half its climate finance towards the initiative – $12.5 billion between now and 2025.

The challenge now is to raise an equal amount from donor governments, the private sector and international climate funds. In the COVID-context this is challenging – our latest report “State and Trends in Adaptation” showed that investment in climate adaptation fell in 2020 even as more than 50 million people were affected by a record number of floods, droughts, wildfires and storms.

The pandemic is eroding recent progress in building climate resilience, leaving countries and communities more vulnerable to future shocks. I think awareness is really starting to increase that we can either delay climate action and pay for that choice or plan now and prosper. The returns in investing in building climate adaptation and resilience are much greater than the investment – investing $1.8 trillion globally in the next decade could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits.

We are also working to strengthen ecosystems that support youth-led climate adaptation entrepreneurship, and youth participation in adaptation policies; scale up climate adaptation innovations by strengthening business development services to 10,000 youth-owned enterprises and 10,000 youth with business ideas on jobs and adaptation; develop tailored skills and provide starting tool packs for one million youth to prepare them for climate-resilient jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities in adaptation and unlock $3 billion in credit for adaptation action by innovative youth-owned enterprises through innovative financial instruments.

With all these on the agenda, what role do African leaders have to play in terms of the global adaptation agenda?

With climate-related disasters expected to slow GDP per capita growth, African Governments are likely to experience increasing pressure on budgets and fiscal balances. Climate extremes are already leading to increased government expenditure, a reduction in the volume of collected taxes, ultimately resulting in an increase in government debt and impairment of investments. Adaptation and investment in climate resilience remain high development and investment priorities for Africa if the continent is to attain the SDGs.

In their Nationally Determined Contributions, African countries have already identified key areas where investments in adaptation and resilience building could yield high dividends. These include agriculture and forestry, water resources, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity and ecosystems, and human settlement. Many African countries are also in the process of preparing and finalizing their National Adaptation Plans.

Having said that, climate change is an all of social problem, no one can solve it alone. The role of African leaders is crucial to mobilise governments to boost climate action on both mitigation and adaptation. They need to improve their ability to incorporate climate risks into planning and financing major infrastructure, agriculture and other resilience-related investments.

With the youngest population in the world, Africa needs to find ways to unlock the power of its youth for adaptation – something we are very focused on at the GCA. Having said all of that, there are already a lot of good adaptation initiatives happening on the continent and many other countries in different regions are going to be able to learn from what Africa is doing.

Besides this, what specifically are the expectations from the leaders, looking at the fact that policies and approaches are different in African countries?

Earlier this year, we published a GCA policy brief, with the African Adaptation Initiative which recommended focusing stimulus investment in Africa on resilient infrastructure and food security to overcome the COVID-climate crisis. This was endorsed by 54 Heads of State and Government on the continent so when it comes to the need to accelerate adaptation action, it’s clear African countries are very much aligned. We are working hard on the ground to facilitate knowledge management and capacity building both within countries and between countries as well as promoting partnerships and co-operation at sub-regional and regional levels for increased synergy and scale. This cannot happen without the support of African leaders.

For example in Ghana, we are working to develop its first national-level assessment of the resilience of its infrastructure systems to climate change. By exploring and showcasing the potential co-benefits of nature-based solutions as part of a country-level package of investment in grey and green infrastructure, Ghana will function as a demonstration country of how to reduce costs and enhance ecosystems and we plan to roll out the initiative to other countries across the continent.

What platforms are there for discussing the GCA initiatives and programs for the African elite and the public? Do foreign organizations offer any support for these?

In January 2021, we hosted our first annual Ministerial Dialogue with over 50 ministers and leaders from international organizations including the newly appointed climate envoy John Kerry and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva. The aim of this event is to help scale-up global leadership cooperation to accelerate climate adaptation.

Going forward, it will also serve as an annual high-level forum on climate change adaptation, acting as a lever for global leadership to drive a decade of transformation for a climate-resilient world by 2030. African leaders were very active in the dialogue and we look forward to hearing from them in our future sessions.

There are also other partnerships such as the Climate Commissions of the African Union and the African Climate Policy Center. The African Risk Capacity, a specialized agency of the African Union is making important progress enabling countries to manage climate risks and access rapid financing to respond to climate disasters. The African Union is leading the pan-African Great Green Wall initiative which involves many international organizations and foreign governments.

But climate adaptation will not be successful if it just comes from the top-down. The design of adaptation actions must include and be led by local communities who are best placed to understand needs. Solutions need to be context relevant and accompanied by soft support designed to enhance uptakes such as formal education initiatives, agricultural extension or behavioural change campaigns.

Do you suggest governments have to act now to accelerate issues that you have on the agenda for the next few years? What kind of support do you envisage from African governments?

Over half of Africa’s total population experiences food insecurity. The growing number of extreme climate events, from droughts and new crop diseases to floods and unpredictable growing seasons, continue to threaten Africa’s ability to feed itself.

There are increasing rainfall and malaria risks in East Africa, increasing water stress and decreasing agricultural growing periods North Africa, severe flood risks in coastal settlements in West Africa and increased food insecurity, malaria risks and water stress in Southern Africa. The effect of aggregated climate impacts could decrease the continent’s GDP by 30 per cent by 2050.

Suffice to say Africa really doesn’t a moment to lose and we need to accelerate climate adaptation now. In looking towards recovery from the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to ensure that we all build forward better. It is our responsibility to ensure that the opportunity isn’t wasted and countries around the world must support Africa in this.

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Why Leadership is the Problem

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Leadership

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

During an address by Harvard Political Professor, Samuel Huntington, on August 1995, at Taipei, he was among other things asked of his impression about Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s effort to develop Singapore, and he scantly summed it up this way; the honesty and efficiency Senior Minister Lee has brought to Singapore are likely to follow him to his grave.

However, like faith, which is a belief in things not seen, coupled with the fact that ordinary calculation can be upturned by extra-ordinary personalities, not only did Lee’s efficiency survived him, but history has since assisted in providing answers to the correctness or otherwise of Professor Huntington declaration.

Accordingly, it’s now in public domain those two years after the observation, Singapore- a country with a GDP of $3 billion in 1965 grew to $46 billion in 1997, making it the 8th highest per capita GNP in the world, according to the World Bank ranking.

Clearly, a bracing account and unprecedented result! What is, however, left for those who are living is to learn the lessons from such history and gain wisdom, or ignore it, and wonder in dilemma.

Essentially, the crux of this piece is to use Prime Minister Lee Quen Yew account to analyse and understand the essential ingredients of foresight in leadership and draw a lesson on how the leadership decision-making process involves judgment about uncertain elements and differs from the pure mathematical probability process.

From accounts, aside from the fact that the story of Singapore’s progress is a reflection of the advances of the industrial countries-their inventions, technology, enterprise, and drive, a united and a determined group of leaders, backed by practical and hard-working people who trust them made it possible, It is part of the story of a leader’s search for new fields to increase the wealth and well-being of his people.

From this new awareness, flows the major difference.

When one juxtaposes the above account with the current situation in Nigeria, it, without minding what others may say, points in one direction; Nigeria’s current posturing is more man-made than natural, more of leadership gaps than the lack of resources.

The challenge is further compounded by a misguided view of amalgamation by some segments of Nigerians as more of a historicized occurrence without any barefaced or hidden advantage to the nation; a mindset that further promoted deliberate demonstration of impunity, as well as superiority by one group or region against the other.

But in dramatizing this superiority, the point the people did forget is that never should one ‘be so foolish to believe that you are stirring admiration by flaunting the qualities that raised you above others.

By making them aware of their inferior positions, you are only stirring unhappy admiration or envy that will gnaw at them until they undermine you in ways that you may not foresee’. It is only the fools that dare the god of envy by flaunting his victory’.

The sad news, however, is that this avoidable situation was allowed to complete its gestation and finally gave birth to what is now known and addressed in our political domain as a ‘call for restructuring’ or agitation for resources control.

But at a more significant level, it is the leadership performance deficit which has plundered the socio-economic affairs of the nation to a sorry state; an occurrence that stems from an unknown leadership style described by analysts as neither ‘system nor method based’; without anything exemplary or impressive.

While this appalling situation daily unfolds in our political space, the global leadership stage is littered with telling evidence about leaders that have demonstrated leadership sagacity and professional ingenuity that our leaders have refused to replicate their resourcefulness on our shores.

For instance, in 1932, Franklin D Roosevelt, the Democratic Party candidate, United State of America was elected president in the midst of the great depression. At the time of inauguration in 1933, one-quarter of the labour force was out of a job, with many thrown into poverty. Industrial production had fallen and investments had collapsed.

But within two years of his administration, he revived the economy and moved to the next stage of his agenda. He signed the social security act which introduced the modern welfare state into the United States pension at retirement, unemployment benefits, and some public health care and disability benefits. When asked how? he responded thus; “extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary remedies” This to my mind is leadership accomplishment worthy of emulation.

Regrettably, here in the country, the leadership challenge is given a boost by the ground propensity and penchant for corrupt, nepotistic practices of our ‘leaders’ since independence, a development that is gradually becoming a norm; a state of affairs vast majority of Nigerians claims was responsible for the inability of the nation’s successive leaders to alleviate the real condition of the poor, the deprived, the lonely, the oppressed or get into their lives and participate in their struggle.

Looking at commentaries, one can discern that the above fact is largely responsible for the youth’s restiveness and tribal aggressions as the masses continue to fight in order to register their grievance against state-sponsored socioeconomic deprivations.

It is also of considerable significance to this discourse to note that this leadership challenge has visited Nigerians with not just poverty but what analysts described as ‘island poverty’ or poverty in the midst of plenty; which has, in turn, promoted both hopelessness and powerlessness among innocent Nigerians.

But in all, one thing seems to stand out, our leadership challenge or bad governance was implanted by the leaders, encouraged by our unquestioning obedience to the authorities and can only be reduced or erased by Nigerians.

Having discovered the challenge threatening the continued existence of our country, it becomes imperative that whatever measure the nation may want to use in tackling this challenge can only succeed if it probably puts in place steps that will guarantee leadership restructuring.

Catalysing the process of building the Nigeria of our dreams that is laced with good leadership will among other demands require a sincere and selfless leadership, a politically and economically restructured polity brought by the national consciousness that can unleash the social, economic and political transformation of the country while rejecting the present socio-economic system that has bred corruption, inefficiency, the primitive capital accumulation that socially excluded the vast majority of our people.

Above all, to completely put things right, the federal government must recognize, and position Nigeria to be a society of equal citizens where opportunities are equal and personal contribution is recognised and rewarded on merit regardless of language, culture, religion, or political affiliations.

If we are able to achieve this, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme as no nation enjoys durable peace without justice and stability, without fairness and equity!

Part of that effort will entail recognizing that the solution to our leadership challenge may afterward not be based on argument or debate but by the quality of the people in charge.

This will be followed by frantic effort to create a ‘civil society that will help sort out the irresponsible from the response in leadership. Another inoculation that will cure this leadership challenge will demand the development of a mindset for details and history necessary for today’s leadership.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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Historical Perspective to Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Challenge (2)

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Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Challenge

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

To understand more fully where this second part is headed, I will encourage readers to search and read a report titled; Scientific and Technological Innovations In Biafra (1967-1970), as it also gave a big helping hands to the first part and chiefly provided the step by step accounts of how the nation’s education sector originally/fundamentally went into ‘trouble.

With this point highlighted, let’s focus on other accounts as history further points at how successive administrations in Nigeria (military and civilian alike) defined learning too narrowly in a manner devoid of process and outcome fairness.

Beginning with the military era, there are so many accounts of how past military administrations visibly contributed to the present education sector crisis in the country. Out of many, one captures it perfectly.

The account by Former Secretary of Afenifere and NADECO, Mr Ayo Opadokun, at the University of Lagos Political Science’s Department symposium with the theme X-Raying 50 Years of Military Intervention in Nigerian Politics, held at the University of Lagos Main Auditorium on Wednesday 2, 2016.

He stated in parts; What the Nigerian State offers today as education is a deception and a fraud for which the Military must be held accountable. …..The Military has oppressed, humiliated and exhibited its contempt for education in many ways. Remember, the Ali Must Go, ABU killings, the OAU Massacre at Ife, the Ejection of University Lecturers from their Official accommodation, incessant strikes etc. The Military constituted itself into a superior class by setting up its own social services-salaries, school institutions, retirement benefits; particularly for the senior ones….They cornered Nigeria in perpetuity, he concluded.

While his position is filled with valid points, the departure of the military from the nation’s political space over two decades ago and the advent of democracy have, however, not changed the education sector fortune.

In fact, many are of the view that if the present is juxtaposed with the past, the experience of the past becomes a child’s play as the sector at the very moment is fundamentally confronted with issues that centre on the phrase ‘uneven resource distribution’, misguided priority and insensitivity of government to education need of Nigerians.

This awareness again brings to mind two separate but related commentaries as most conspicuous examples.

The first comment came a few years ago from Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of education, when she according to media reports, disclosed that Nigerian legislators and the government spent about N1 trillion since 2005.

To the critical minds, Oby’s position may to some extent not be viewed as newsy considering the fact that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, also a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had earlier in a report almost said the same thing when he disclosed that 25 per cent of the nation’s budget was being sent on the federal legislators, apparently at the expense of basic social infrastructure like education.

Now, in the opinion of this piece, If 25 per cent of the nation’s budget is invested in the education sector, think about what that could do for our kids if we invest that in our schools?

‘Think of how many new schools we could build, how many great teachers we could recruit, what kind of computers and technology we could put in our classrooms. Think about how much we could invest in math and science so our kids could be prepared for the 21st-century economy. Think about how many kids we could send to college who’ve worked hard, studied hard, but just can’t afford the tuition.

Simply put, Nigeria’s education sector, which is supposed to be the major and fastest agent of change and civilization, is as a result of these failures, presently burdened and overwhelmed.

To further demonstrate this fact, with the nation’s current population of over 195.9 million, 45 per cent of which are below 15 years, there is a huge demand for learning opportunities translating into increased enrolment. This has created challenges in ensuring quality education since resources are spread more thinly, resulting in more than 100 pupils for one teacher as against the UNESCO benchmark of 35 students per teacher and culminating in students learning under trees for lack of classrooms.

Going a step further to prove how out of order the sector has turned out to be in the past few years, strong evidence abounds that in the 2017 Appropriation Act, N448.01 billion representing 6.0 per cent of the N7.30 trillion budgets was allocated to education.

Similarly, the budgetary allocation for education in 2020 is N671.07 billion constituting 6.7 per cent. Of the N671.07 billion allocated to the Federal Ministry of Education, the sum includes the statutory transfer allocated to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which is N111.79 billion.

UBEC intervention funds as we know are focused on collaboration with other state actors towards improving access to basic education and reducing Nigeria’s out-of-school children.

When compared with 2019, there is, however, a 44.37% increase in capital expenditure, yet, a shortfall in the UNESCO’s benchmark.

Moving away from lamentation to finding a solution to the deteriorating education sector, it is important to underline the fact that if the federal government wants progress and development for the nation, there is no reason why everything that will lead to success must not be done.

To catalyse the process, this is the time to recognise that any successful nation/leadership owe its success to certain causative factors. If it loses sight of these, the success of such a nation/leadership or survival may soon be in jeopardy.

Foresighted leader and nation don’t forget for one moment that education sector holds the keys to the success and development of any nation both socioeconomically and scientifically and I hold the opinion that it will definitely be tough to make progress as a nation with the way education sector is presently handled here in the country.

To avert the above forecast, the government at all levels must urgently commit to mind that globally; ‘the relationship between employers/employees is always strained, always headed toward conflict. It is a natural conflict built into the system. Unions do not strike on a whim or use the strike to show off their strength. They look at strikes as costly and disturbing, especially for workers and their families. Strikes are called as last resort. And any government that fails to manage this delicate relationship profitably or fails to develop a cordial relationship with the workers becomes an enemy of not just the workers but that of the open society and, such society will sooner than later find itself degenerate into chaos.

Another important point that the present administration must ponder on to help understand the need for a truce with NAU/SSANU is that university workers (academic and non-academic staff alike) not ‘only teach errant students, but they also parent them, pamper them wherever that is called for, discipline and guide them, take the worst attitude in them and turn it into something more engaging and productive, yet, they are barely acknowledged by society, let alone giving them their just rewards. Many suffer from depression, psychological trauma, and even suicidal tendency out of a sense of inadequacy at various intervals. They work so hard for so little.

Lastly, for the sector to again produce excellent graduates in different fields of human endeavours, it needs to be adequately funded; its policies reworked to meet the 21st-century demands.

Above all, as argued elsewhere, the government must find ways of returning schools created, funded and run by the regions which they forcefully took over as such venture has turned out to be negative.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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Who Should Measure PR?

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Who should measure PR

By Queen Nwabueze

In public relations, just as you and I can’t deny that PR starts and ends with research, we have agreed that Ad value equivalencies, impression counts, and clicks ALONE don’t measure awareness and other outcomes.

Therefore, unless you plan and measure in a way that matters, campaign success may not be in the cards. At least, not in the way to pass the test of a true expert.

Let’s make this straight. Are you into the hallowed communications profession in whatever form? Never underestimate the benefits of measuring your Public Relations campaigns. DON’T measure using empty or vanity metrics.

Most importantly, engage an independent PR measurement and evaluation service to do the job. Employ this trio to get insights that won’t only help you with sound strategy, but would also make future campaigns planning a walkover for you.

When we hear research, evaluation or measurement in Public Relations, it is important to carry them out the proper way. Yes, really.

It is abominable to burden the most junior member of your team or even yourself to just contact a few consumers and find out what they think about a thing.

In the agency, in the client side, we do this shoddy research, time without number. It’s just so important that we stop already. PR measurement is serious business. Anyone who must undertake any communication research whether basic or in-depth has to be trained and certified for the job.

Are you managing a client? Do you know that merely taking a simple walk to tell your client, what value Public Relations brings to him shouldn’t be your thing? You know why? You’d be biased. You don’t even know how to go about it. Pity, but you will succeed not helping yourself either. Your answers to questions would be so incomplete and jaundiced that they will lead to ill-founded programmes in all your efforts, going forward.

Wait a sec! Do we still need to beam the searchlight any further? Do we still need an answer to “Who should measure PR?” Oh no, we don’t! It’s clear: It is the job of a brand media intelligence and measurement service to do so. They are armed. You’re not. Kindly use them in e.v.e.r.y. research.

In reality, some high-end investment is needed to become competent in communications measurement and evaluation. PR measurement experts have already put in everything it takes to undertake valid research. You have not. Because of time and other resources, you may not be able to go through the drudgery, anyway.

Take for example, a strong PR measurement consultant such as P+ Measurement Services. What P+ did is exemplary. From the outset, the agency tasked itself to become a bonafide member of the International Association of Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC).

Recall that AMEC is the measurement body of our glorious profession, globally. Not every PR insights and analytics consultant in Nigeria is a member, remember?

You might be wondering: “What does this do for me?” A lot! The adoption of the measurement principles endorsed by the global measurement body is what shall help you prove your value indeed.

Objectivity in the quality of the measurement and evaluation is guaranteed. In everything in life, it is always advisable to use professionals for salutary results. Need we say more?

The Takeaway:

Sincerely, the measurement leg of the communications profession has remained knotty for a long time. Trained and certified external researchers like P+ Measurement Services should be your ally, every step of the way.

In all honesty, hyping the benefits of using independent measurement outfits can’t be too much. P+ knows the business. Just give them the specifics of your research problem and go to sleep.

Need to talk to someone immediately, kindly contact these hotlines: +234-818-1928-989. Quickly, send a mail to info@pplusmeasurement.com.ng and get a response in a minute.

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Christianity, Epigenetics, Hunter-Gatherers, Fittest Survival and Evil

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forest tribes

By Nneka Okumazie

There’s a good chance that in the next century, or just beyond, most of the knowledge agreed, about whom hunter-gatherers were, or were about would have changed.

Not because scientists chose to be deliberately wrong, but because it is difficult to be certain of any measurement in retrospect.

Fossil records or whatever else may seem like incontrovertible evidence, but the measure of their dating and characteristics aren’t.

This is what we know based on what we used to check.

What we know, or think we know and agree to – changes with new measures and evidence.

So, why should what has changed – in the last few centuries, albeit in a similar direction, not be subject to change in another direction in the coming centuries?

There are other questions about hunter-gatherers, but one possible error is to think that going to some isolated village, or some Amazonian tribe is reflective – or similar to hunter-gatherers.

Most likely not, though the basic existence of people in those places is fascinating to those who watch or study them – they are not like the hunter-gatherers that “evolved” to current peoples.

With the said dominance of hunter-gatherers, it is unlikely that preference for expansion would have jumped – in what became major areas, and later development.

The life was basic enough – and satisfactory [without option] that to build something new may have been support-stricken, sabotaged, abandoned and strenuous beyond their imagination.

Their default option [or say epigenetics], though breakable, would have likely crept back – letting them stick to personal survival and not survival of development.

But say nothing is impossible, and they emerged to create advancement, today’s isolated tribes, supposed to be a reflection of them, continue to protest the encroachment of civilization – in different forms, showing that in the presence of an established option, they want their stay.

For hunter-gathers, there have been studies on their religion, culture and more.

There has also been chatter about how morality came without Christianity.

How about evil?

When did evil begin?

What were the causative factors?

Asking about evil is easier than the more complex question of languages – that even in some remote places, they have their own language – established beyond what could have been possible to string together as an invention, in those times.

When did evil start and why did evil survive?

The question of evil for hunter-gatherers – is vital, because they’d have been a perfect society if they didn’t.

Or maybe evil came as they emerged to develop.

If so, was it a good tradeoff for them?

The evil [or not] of hunter-gathers society is the question in their evolution.

For now, the ubiquity if evil – everywhere, says that the only reason evil has not taken over the world is not morality, or good always triumphs locution, but because of the Possessor of All.

There are often small and major stories of bitterness, hate, evil, wickedness, greed, lust, crime, envy, deception, etc. with some victories, but since many hearts think these, and often hurt about some disadvantage, it should have been a world – by far of evil, wiping out good.

But the Creator has not allowed – even though evil is substantially present.

So, why this world, why this suffering, why not just nothing, or care, or selfish pampering as wished?

Questioning the Creator – because no one alive has the full picture of everything – is like accepting that the laws of physics can’t just be broken, but seeking to break the laws of an immeasurable realm.

God is a spirit.

There are things in this world that just work – to conquer evil, some kind of triumph that would have made it impossible if it passed that time.

There is the Almighty – Jehovah, the force that keeps the good.

[Psalm 106:2, Who can utter the Mighty acts of the Lord? who can shew forth all His praise?]

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Russia’s Lavrov and Togo’s Dussey Share Views on Bilateral Economic Cooperation

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Mr Robert Dussey (Togo) and Mr Sergey Lavrov (Russia)

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

In order to strengthen political dialogue and promote economic relations, Professor Robert Dussey, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad, held diplomatic talks on February 16, 2021, with his Russian counterpart Minister Sergey Lavrov in St. Petersburg.

According to reports, Professor Dussey’s visit was on the invitation by Moscow, and came on exactly one year after their last meeting on February 15, 2020, in Munich, the third-largest city in Germany.

After their closed-door discussion, Lavrov told the joint news conference that there is a mutual interest in intensifying and deepening the entire scope of bilateral ties, including trade, the economy and investment, and have agreed to look for specific opportunities for joint projects in areas such as energy, natural resources, infrastructure, transport, and agriculture.

Regarding issues on the African continent, Lavrov re-emphasized that African problems (of which there are many) require African solutions.

“We strongly support the African Union, the G5 Sahel, and the sub-regional organizations in Africa, in their efforts to resolve numerous local conflicts and crises. We specifically focus on supporting the fight against terrorism, which poses a real threat, including for our friends in Togo and other coastal countries in the region of the Gulf of Guinea,” he said.

In fact and as always, Lavrov reiterated Russia’s commitment to continue to act actively in pursuing peace and, to this end, called for the peaceful settlement of all kinds of differences, and reaffirmed support for sustainable development there in Africa.

Regarding issues from the last summit held in Sochi, Lavrov stressed: “We are interested in developing the resolutions of the Russia-Africa summit. We spoke in detail about the implementation of these agreements. The coronavirus pandemic has required adjustments. Nevertheless, the results of implementing the Sochi agreements are obvious. This year we will actively continue these efforts.”

The Association for Economic Cooperation with the African States was created in Russia following the 2019 Sochi summit. It includes representatives from the related departments and major Russian companies. The Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, which is a political association, was created, its secretariat is located at the Russian Foreign Ministry. The primary tasks of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum include the preparation and organization of the next Russia-Africa summit scheduled for 2022. The venue to be chosen by African leaders.

“We are still slightly behind other states, but trade between Russia and the African countries has been growing quite rapidly lately. I think we will soon make up for the time we lost in the years when, at the dawn of the new Russian statehood, we were too busy to maintain proper ties with Africa. A very strong foundation was laid in Soviet times, though,” Lavrov said further at the news conference about the current situation with relations between Russia and Africa.

It has always been the wish of both Russia and Africa to have an excellent quality of cooperation and partnership relations between the two regions and to diversify and deepen them as best as possible in order to provide an appreciable geopolitical influence and strategic power balance in Africa.

Russia and Togo, as with many other African countries, have had long time-tested relations over the years. The most recent high-level meetings were between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe during a sidelined bilateral meeting in October 2019, when Gnassingbe participated in the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, and on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July 2018.

With an estimated population of about 7.9 million, Togo is among the smallest countries in Africa. Its economy depends highly on agriculture. Togo pursues an active foreign policy and participates in many international organizations. Relations between Togo and neighbouring states are generally good. It is particularly active in West African regional affairs and in the African Union.

Kester Kenn Klomegah is a versatile researcher and a passionate contributor, most of his well-resourced articles are reprinted elsewhere in a number of reputable foreign media

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