By Walter Duru
The wind of politics is blowing heavily across the country, with alignments and re-alignments as daily occurrences, depending on the interest of individual politicians, groups and associations. In Imo State, the wind is so heavy that the state is up for grabs, as no particular political party or structure can confidently claim that Imo is in its hands.
A look at the major political parties in the state shows that they are all crises-ridden, but for the Peoples’ Democratic Party-PDP, which gubernatorial primary is adjudged most transparent and peaceful, both in Imo State and at the National stage; particularly, the governorship (Imo) and Presidential primaries that produced Emeka Ihedioha and Atiku Abubakar, respectively.
One of the aspirants for the Imo PDP gubernatorial ticket, Senator SamDaddy Anyanwu is said to have approached the Court to challenge the outcome of the primaries, even after allegedly congratulating and pledging to support the flagbearer, Emeka Ihedioha; a move pundit describe as being done in bad fate. As at today, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha remains the authentic flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
The other two main political parties in the state: the All Progressives Congress- APC and the All Progressives Grand Alliance appear to be in an unending internal battle for control of the parties. While the APC presently has two of her aspirants- Chief Uche Nwosu and Senator Hope Uzodimma claiming to be candidates of the Party; the All Progressives Grand Alliance broke the hearts of millions of people, who were hoping that the party would elect an acceptable gubernatorial candidate through a peaceful and transparent process. Some of the party’s gubernatorial aspirants are already pitching their tents with other political parties. No doubt, the internal wrangling of the APC and APGA may still linger and will certainly not end well. The rest is history.
One other candidate that many expect would make a serious impact in the election is that of the Young Progressives Party-YPP, Mr. Linus Okorie. Okorie would have been a good candidate, but for his political party, which many see as not having the required structure and network to take over Imo in 2019. The YPP has so much to do to enhance its visibility, position itself as a strong and identifiable brand, while strengthening its structures for greater impact. Who knows? There is nothing God cannot do.
The Peoples Democratic Party appears to be the shinning star of the moment in Imo. It has gone beyond primaries and already positioning itself for the main election, hence, the thrust of this piece. Ihedioha’s chances of becoming Imo Governor have never been this bright. If he fails to win in 2019, he might as well forget governing Imo forever. Whatever decisions he takes at this stage will go a long way in determining if he will win; and if he does, whether he will enjoy a peaceful reign as governor. The crux of this piece is not to set an agenda for him yet. That is for another day. The idea behind this is to ensure he gets conscious of the banana peels around.
Any moment from now, a Deputy Governorship candidate will emerge. What should be the considerations for Emeka Ihedioha’s choice of a Deputy? If he fails to get it right at this point, then, his major problem has started.
The recent betrayal of the Lagos State Governor by some of his aides, especially, his Deputy is still very fresh in our minds. The first consideration in choosing a Deputy Governor must therefore be trust. Such a person must therefore be someone he has known and possibly worked with in the past.
Next in order of importance is capacity. Having one with no experience in governance and public service is a recipe to failure. The state of affairs in Imo as at today is so bad that putting a green horn in certain positions might spell doom for the next administration. The Deputy Governor must be one that has capacity to support and guide his principal. Such a person must also be one that will have the ability to guide and advise the Governor sincerely. This is very important because one of the major reasons behind the failure of leaders is that they are usually surrounded by sycophants who do not tell them the true state of things, thereby making them continue in error.
Again, such a person must not be tainted with corruption and will have the ability to suggest initiatives that will promote transparency in governance. One of the major problems of the present administration in Imo is the complete absence of transparency and accountability. Having one that has no baggage of corruption, with capacity to drive good governance initiatives will certainly make the business of governance easy for the incoming governor.
More so, political consideration is a very important issue that must be given serious consideration. The PDP Governorship candidate is from Owerri senatorial zone of the state, with nine local government areas. The disputed candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance – Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is from Okigwe zone, with only six Local Government Areas. The two individuals jostling to have the ticket of the APC- Chief Uche Nwosu and Senator Hope Uzodimma are both from Orlu zone. Orlu is the largest/biggest senatorial zone in Imo State, with twelve Local Government Areas.
Strategically, the only option the PDP candidate has is to pick a running mate from Orlu zone. Apart from being the largest senatorial zone, the two candidates of the APC have serious baggage working against them. The gist is for another day.
In Orlu zone, one must look inwards, to ensure that historic and landmark decisions are taken. There are four Federal constituencies in Orlu zone. The first is Ideato Federal constituency, made up of Ideato North and South. This constituency produced the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who is about completing his second tenure in office. It is therefore completely out of it.
Next is Orlu, Orsu and Oru East Federal constituency. This constituency produced two-time Governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa, who ruled the state for eight years. It also produced a former Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Douglas Acholonu. It is also instructive that one of the two main contenders for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress- Senator Hope Uzodimma is from this constituency.
The third is the Nwangele/Nkwerre/Isu and Njaba federal constituency. The Orlu zonal senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Jones Onyereri is from this constituency. Can the Senator and Deputy Governor come from the same place? More so, one of the two APC Gubernatorial hopefuls, Chief Uche Nwosu is from the same area.
The last, but most marginalized federal constituency in the area is the Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency. In spite of contributing over eighty (80) percent of Imo crude oil earnings, as well as being the food basket of the state, this federal constituency remains the most marginalized in the state. This is the only oil producing federal constituency in the state. It is the same area that Adapalm is situated. Sadly also, it is currently ravaged by flood, with the attendant oil pollution. The federal constituency has neither produced a governor nor a deputy, since the creation of the state.
Interestingly, Ihedioha is from Owerri zone of the state which has also been crying over marginalization. He therefore has an idea of how it feels to be marginalized. If Ndi Imo agree that it is the turn of Owerri zone, will he not agree that the marginalized people of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency be considered for at least, a Deputy Governorship slot?
Emeka Ihedioha will be writing his name in gold as an apostle of justice and fair play if he looks in the direction of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency in selecting his running mate for the 2019 general election. This decision will portray him as one that does not accept injustice in any form. Even stakeholders from other constituencies agree that it is the turn of the oil producing federal constituency to have a shot at the deputy governorship position. Doing this will simply mean implementing the wish of the people and this will endear him more to the masses.
In all of these, one candidate that appears to fit into all the earlier listed criteria and most importantly, has the electoral value and capacity to secure victory for Ihedioha in the zone is a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Gerald Irona. If you have him, then, you are sure. An Ihedioha/Irona ticket will give hope to the people. Irona is transparent, credible, experienced, reliable, competent, independent-minded and trustworthy.
Imo people appear determined to vote out the APC in the next general elections. APGA has also broken the people’s heart. It is not about partisanship at this stage, but about patriotism. The hope of the people of Imo state for 2019 is the PDP’s candidate. Don’t dash it. Hon. Ihedioha’s chances are very bright. Let’s collectively fight injustice, as injury to one is injury to all. It is the turn of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West federal constituency to produce a deputy governor. Be an instrument of honour and give the people justice.
Irona as deputy governor will nail it!
Dr Walter Duru is a communication expert and Public Relations Strategist. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okowa’s Financial Aid to Mission Schools
By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi
The recent decision by the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, to provide financial aid to 40 schools it returned to religious missions in 2011 again underscores the time-honoured belief that leaders must learn the art of management, an art of engineering and skill to absorb and mater success in their mission. As there is no hard and fast rule but involves a lot of practical wisdom and prudence in one’s functioning style and performance.
Speaking at the thanksgiving service to mark the end of the 16th Synod of Asaba Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), held at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Asaba, Okowa, who read the first lesson, congratulated the new Bishop of the diocese, the Rt. Rev. Kingsley Obuh, on his consecration and enthronement.
Acknowledging that the running of mission schools is difficult given the current economic condition of the nation, the governor commended the church for drawing his attention to the plight of the schools, especially his promise to ensure that grants were given to missions to assist them in giving a firm standing to the schools that had been returned to them. This, he explained, became necessary to assist the schools in running effectively, particularly in view of the prevailing harsh economic situation in the country.
Indeed, from the above comment by the Governor, it is evident that he is not taking success in leadership for granted or attributing the same to a function of luck and destiny but achievable through effective planning, genuine efforts and technique followed sincerely and scrupulously in their mission.
By his latest action, it is now evident that the Governor considers education as the bedrock of development. More than anything else, his promise to ensure that grants were given to missions to assist them in giving a firm standing to the schools demonstrates a leader with an understanding that with sound educational institutions, a country is as good as made -as the institutions will turn out all rounded manpower to continue with the development of the society driven by well thought out ideas, policies, programmes.
Secondly, it is a sign that he recognizes the challenges of perennial underfunding bedevilling the education sector not just in missionary schools in Delta State but across all the privately and government-owned schools across all the states of the federation.
This challenge has as a consequence brought upon the nation an astronomical increase in the rate of out of school children, especially in the northern part of Nigeria, to swell in number, even when it is obvious that the streets are known for breeding all forms of criminals and other social misfits who constitute the real threat in the forms of armed robbers; thugs, drunkards, prostitutes and all other social ills that give a bad name to the society. This underfunding challenge has also visited the sector with a state of affairs where a number of Nigerians are in school but are learning nothing; as schooling, according to UNICEF, does not always lead to learning.
“In Nigeria, there are more non-learners in school than out of school,” UNICEF concluded.
More specifically, aside from being in the best interest of the state government that those schools returned to the missions are supported to stand because they provide a space for study for some of our children across the state, Okowa’s current gesture reinforces the belief that we all have reasons not only to feel worried but collectively work hard to deliver the nation’s education sector in ways that will bring to an end the reign of thoughtless demand for fees of varying amounts/ proposed by the school authorities-a development that is financially squeezing the life out of the innocent students and their parents.
There exist more concrete reasons as to why Governor Okowa’s present move needs to be applauded.
At the most fundamental levels, it refreshes the minds of Nigerians of the passionate plea by the United Nations for government-private sector collaboration for sustainable development.
For instance, there was a veiled agreement among stakeholders at a recent gathering in Lagos that the government at all levels in Nigeria is shirking the traditional but universal responsibility of provision of educational, economic and infrastructural succour to the citizenry which the instrumentality of participatory democracy and election of leaders confers on them.
Essentially, participants at that event were unanimous that the 2030 sustainable agenda has partnership and collaboration at its centre. It was clearly stated that the scale and ambition of this agenda call for smart partnerships, collaborations, ecosystem thinking, co-creation and alignment of various intervention efforts by the public and private sectors and civil society.
The conference, which had as a theme Partnership for Sustainable Development and Innovation, was among other goals aimed at finding an ‘urgent need for creative and innovative thinking by all strata of the society-public and private sector and civil society-to promoting sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection’.
To further buttress the imperativeness of this needed commitment from all the parties in tackling the agenda, the conference stressed that the partnership is at the very centre of the sustainable development agenda as it is both a means to an end since it is a crucial enabler for the attainment of the other goals and an end to in itself since Goal 17 is a means of implementation and revitalised global partnership’.
Very instructive also, finding a solution to the societal problems, particularly providing access to adequate and quality education for the youths of this nation will in some ways help solve the youth unemployment challenge and develop a climate of sustainable future and innovation among our youths.
Talking about youth unemployment in Nigeria, a report recently put it this way: “We are in a dire state of strait because unemployment has diverse implications. Security wise, the large unemployed youth population is a threat to the security of the few that are employed. Any transformation agenda that does not have job creation at the centre of its programme will take us nowhere”
Youths’ challenge cuts across, regions, religions, and tribes, and has led to the proliferation of ethnic militia as well as youth restiveness across the country. This may, in turn, hamper the peace needed if handled with levity. But this threat has become more pronounced in the oil-rich region of the country with the chunk of the proponents spearheaded by the large army of professionally trained ex-militants currently without a job. Proper management of these teaming youth is the panacea for determining the success or otherwise of the 2030 sustainable agenda, it is only by engaging these teeming youths through employment creation that the incessant youth restiveness can be abated.
One fact we must acknowledge is that the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal was formulated to among other aims promote and carter for people, peace, the planet, and poverty but nurturing to bear the premeditated result will depend on not just the private sector but our government.
To, therefore, move this nation forward, we need to like Governor Okowa, recognize that a sound educational sector and sustained infrastructural development remain the spine. We must learn that nations such as the Jews progressed because they possessed a tradition of education combined with social and political action. They enthroned education and sacrificed to get it.
We must as a nation make quality but subsidized education a human right that will be accessible to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe/ethnicity, sex, religion or creed. And develop the political will to fund education in compliance with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) budgetary recommendation.
Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He can be reached via email@example.com/08032725374
Tips for Building a Low-code Strategy
By Hyther Nizam
Over the last few years, businesses have been racing to digitise their processes and offerings. Whether you’re working from home, banking online, or doing a quick grocery order, you’ve likely noticed a significant rate of transformation. Given that every aspect of a consumer’s daily life is connected to the digital world, the challenge of digital transformation may be daunting. Traditional ways of developing consumer and internal applications are time-consuming and usually require a large number of development resources.
Fortunately, low-code/no-code (LCNC) development platforms empower businesses to quickly create cross-platform applications without writing thousands of lines of code. Low-code/no-code not only simplifies development but also saves time and money. Low-code is not a new concept, but demand for it has increased as a result of the pandemic and the necessity for businesses to speed up their digital transformation initiatives.
The advantages of low-code/no-code
LCNC platforms provide a visual environment for building applications. As they provide snippets of pre-built code in a simple drag-and-drop user interface, people with little to no programming experience can also build custom web/mobile applications. However, it’s crucial to take the time to identify the most effective LCNC platform for your business before diving headfirst into app building.
The LCNC platforms help teams develop applications faster and with fewer errors than traditional coding. Because the platforms provide standard components such as forms, report templates, and ready-to-use code snippets, months of development time can be saved. By eliminating some of the more complex aspects of the application development process (such as creating frameworks and linking databases), these platforms empower people across the organisation to get involved in application development and bring their business ideas to fruition, without having to depend on IT assistance.
Zoho Creator, Zoho’s low-code platform, aims to facilitate efficient app development and effective collaboration. It uses pre-built integrations to connect with hundreds of systems and cloud services to make app development quicker and easier. Organisations can seamlessly integrate Creator with other Zoho applications and third-party platforms like QuickBooks, Zapier, and PayPal. To facilitate effective collaboration, Creator gives organisations the power to assign roles to users and grant them access to information relevant to their jobs. Role-based access controls help ensure the application development process is both streamlined and secure.
Now that digital transformation is an ongoing imperative for most businesses, agility and collaboration are critical. Our research shows that 40% of organisations are involving their business teams in their digital transformation processes. This indicates a growing understanding that digital transformation affects the whole business—not just IT teams.
Considerations for using LCNC strategies
First, and potentially most important, your business must know what to look for in LCNC platforms. Besides the visual modelling and drag-and-drop interfaces that make these platforms easier to use, your LCNC platform should be secure. It should have the required security framework certifications in place and espouse data confidentiality measures. It’s important to avoid using software that potentially opens the door to hackers.
Your LCNC platform should be equipped for multi-device deployment (meaning that you only have to create an app once for it to be accessible on any device), and scalability so you can add more users to your application as your organisation grows.
Once you’ve identified the right platform, it’s time to start cross-organisational planning for the digital experiences your organisation will provide, and the ways low-code can be leveraged to create those experiences. Remember, one of the major strengths of a good low-code platform is that it allows for collaboration. People across the organisation need to be exposed to the platform to understand what it can do for them.
The time is now
There has never been a better time for your business to embrace an LCNC strategy, as the world is undergoing an unprecedented rate of digital transformation. It is essential, however, to combine the correct platform with a strategy that enables your entire company to realise the benefits of low-code development. This is the most effective way to put your business ahead of the competition.
Hyther Nizam is the President of MEA at Zoho Corp
B2B e-Commerce: Fostering Sales, Distribution with Data Analytics
The informal sector is a major source of economic growth and productivity globally. According to both the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) statistics, more than 2 billion people representing 61% of the world’s employed population work in the informal sector.
Of the number, 93% are reportedly in emerging and developing countries. Around 86% of employment in Sub-Saharan Africa is in the informal sector, while 80% of household retail distribution is said to be delivered via informal retailers.
Nigeria is reputed to have a huge informal sector that makes up 50% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for over 90% of employment. The informal retail market value is estimated at US$100bn out of which the food and consumer goods retail segment is worth over $40bn.
B2B e-commerce firm Alerzo’s CEO, Adewale Opaleye, described the informal sector as a major source of economic growth, productivity and competitiveness.
Despite the importance of the sector, informal retailers face complex challenges that impede their business growth, financial and income stability and service quality. The challenges include limited inventory due to high demands, meaning the market is underserved; and limited access to funding which sometimes leads them to stock low-quality products.
The retail market is also clustered; products are often overpriced because prices are largely unregulated. Distance to market especially those in hard-to-reach locations; opportunity costs; dangers of travel; inadequate logistics such as transport to move purchased goods also impact informal retailers adversely. The unstructured nature of most retail businesses is another setback.
The challenges faced by consumers at the base of the pyramid also represent another key issue in the retail market. Often, lack of access to reliable product information, quality products and services, and low purchasing power deny consumers access to everyday essentials such as food, medicine, hygiene and household products.
The fallout of the challenges in the retail market segment is that manufacturers and distributors are often unable to track data on informal retail sales, regulate quality or access BoP customers for research, marketing or the delivery of social mission goals.
As a strategic pivot for national GDP growth, reforming Nigeria’s informal trade is a key to unlocking socio-economic prosperity for the citizens, and improving the lives of the retailers themselves including their families, and the communities in which they operate.
Hence, initiatives that remove barriers in the Factory-to-Retail distribution chain for consumer goods companies are most welcome. The role of e-Commerce, in particular tech-driven B2B e-Commerce platforms, is pivotal in this regard.
“Our mission is to empower these informal retailers through our ecosystem of digital products, so they are equipped to run profitable and sustainable businesses. We strongly believe that technology has the potential to transform the way informal retailers conduct their businesses, by using it to facilitate – with just a click of a button – fast and easy access to a wide assortment of consumer products at zero delivery cost to the retailers,” Alerzo CEO, Opaleye said.
B2B e-Commerce platforms are beneficial to manufacturers and tier one distributors as enablers of data gathering and market intelligence. By utilising an array of digital technologies to gather market intelligence and analyse data, they arm goods producers with vital information on consumer behaviour to further help them in research and product development. Distributors also use such information to scale up operational efficiency.
The use of customer data significantly fosters sales growth and enhances customer relationships. According to Statista, a 2018 survey in the United States showed that 84% of industry-wide leading firms revealed that data analytics helped to bring greater accuracy to their decision-making. That is, data utilisation and related analytics methods were reported to deliver the most value to firms by reducing expenses and creating new avenues for innovation and disruption.
Data analytics enable manufacturers and distributors to strengthen their business operations. For example, in supply chain management and customer relationship, data analytics can support the personalisation and customisation of sales and customer services to build stronger and more personal relationships with customers.
By deploying data technologies and tools, B2B e-Commerce platforms like Alerzo collect data and market intelligence to identify what customers actually expect from companies and to predict their future demands. In other words, data analytics help to create business knowledge, that is, information and understanding related to business processes and the business environment. It can additionally reveal hidden behavioural patterns.
Furthermore, B2B e-Commerce can provide manufacturers access to real-time data and instant information, creating real-time knowledge of markets, and when properly implemented, can increase sales. McKinsey’s research suggests that a healthy data culture, that is, an organisational culture that accelerates the application of data analytics, is becoming increasingly important for leading and lagging companies. Also, the deployment of data helps to provide accurate and timely information within an organisation.
B2B e-Commerce platforms by utilising their digital solutions can make the collection of data more feasible and cost-effective for manufacturers and distributors. Data analytics as one of the emerging areas in the domain of B2B marketing can even support businesses with access to big data thereby increasing access to quantitative and qualitative information beyond just transaction data such as purchase quantities.
In a nutshell, B2B e-Commerce in so many ways offers solutions that are helping to address the needs in the Factory-to-Retail distribution value chain holistically – at the supply side (manufacturers, top-tier distributors and last-mile retailers), and the consumers (demand) side.
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