By Walter Duru
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belongs to Christ Jesus.” The above are the exact wordings of the Holy Bible in 1st Thessalonians 5:18, advising all children of God to show gratitude at all times for every good gesture done to them.
In furtherance and fulfillment of the above Biblical injunction, Imo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona, recently led a mixed delegation of his kinsmen, traditional chiefs, opinion moulders, leaders of thought, politicians, clergy, priests, titled men and elders from his native Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West Federal Constituency, numbering over one hundred, on an unprecedented trip to Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, the ancestral home of his principal, His Excellency, Governor Emeka Ihedioha.
The visit had only one objective in mind – to deliver an unambiguous message of thanks and solidarity to Governor Ihedioha for showing implicit faith in their son, The Rt. Hon. Irona, whom he chose, after careful scrutiny, as his running mate and in effect, the Deputy Governor of Imo State.
The nature and composition of the “August delegation” which had in attendance, the leading lights and glitterati of the oil-rich region left no one in doubt that the mission at hand was one of utmost importance, requiring the highest level of respect and attention to detail.
Some of the persons that accompanied the Deputy Governor on the ‘thank-you’ visit include: Chief P.C. Mgbemelu, former Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, Engr. John Otti, Professor Ike Azogu, House of Assembly members – elect from the area, PDP House of Representatives candidate from the area, Barr. Obed Achilonu, Chief Collins Ezenwa Ilo, Barr. Golden Nwosu, Barr. F.U. Unyimadu, Dr. Walter Duru and Hon. Mayor Eze.
Others are: wife of Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Mrs. Joan Nzeribe, wife of the Deputy Governor, Ogbuefi Vivian Irona, Mr. Sylvester Irona, leadership of Ihedioha/Irona campaign platform, Mr. Tony Nwadialo, Dame Edith Anyiwo, Mr. Emma Nwadialo, Barr. Nwando Ethel Anyasinti, Princess Callista Anene, Local Government Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party-PDP, Chairmen of chairmen in the area, State officers of the Peoples Democratic Party from the area, women leaders, among others.
Speaking during the visit, Deputy Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona expressed gratitude to the Governor for choosing him as Deputy Governor, promising never to disappoint him.
“We are here to simply say thank you. By the grace of God and by your benevolence, I was nominated to be your running mate. It was very surprising news in the morning you called to tell me that you have chosen me as your running mate. I do not know why you appointed me, but, those things that made you to appoint me, I am here before my people to tell you that I will never disappoint you.”
Adding his voice, a political leader from the area, Chief P.C. Mgbemelu also thanked the Governor for his choice of Irona, pledging that he will not disappoint him.
“We are here to thank you for choosing our son. This is the first time our Federal Constituency is having the privilege of producing a Deputy Governor in the history of Imo State. We are proud of our son, Gerald Irona. We are his guarantors and he will not disappoint you.”
Also speaking, former Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro said “Ihedioha has made history by making it possible for our Federal Constituency to produce a Deputy Governor.”
“Our people are very grateful. We pray that the friendship between the two of you continues.”
Former Chairman, Presidential Taskforce on Power, Engr. John Otti, Professor Ike Azogu and wife of political maestro, Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe said Governor Ihedioha chose “One of our finest, who learnt well from our political leader, Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe.”
In his response, Governor Emeka Ihedioha reiterated his confidence in the Deputy Governor, describing him as a man in whom “I have implicit confidence in.”
He described him as a diligent and thorough person, who has always risen to the challenge of leadership.
“I am excited at this visit. Since I came into contact with Hon. Gerald Irona in his days at the House of Representatives, I found him to be a steadfast and thorough person. Irona remains one of the best that Imo State has sent to the House of Representatives. I found him a good student of power.”
“In making my decision, the choice was very easy. I did not have issues, because the circumstances made it easy. The only thing that was against Irona was that he was my friend. During the election, Irona did a very good job. We won the senatorial seat in Orlu, but you did not protect your votes. In all the cases I told Irona to take charge, he performed excellently well.”
“The Governor and Deputy are one and the same. Irona is a man in whom I have implicit confidence in. We will work together. Every other Officer of the state will be accountable to him. We shall have collective responsibility and ownership of government.”
Continuing, the Governor used the occasion to call on the leaders of the Federal constituency to check the menace of criminality and restiveness in the area, warning that his administration will “criminalize bad behavior.”
He however promised to take steps to ensure meaningful youth engagement, even as he urged the people to develop a programme for engaging militants and other youths of the area.
The implications of the visit are far-reaching. Apart from its symbolic stance, the visit was an opportunity for stakeholders, elders and kinsmen of the Deputy Governor to reassure the Governor that he took the right decision by choosing their son as the Deputy Governor, assuring him of his unalloyed loyalty and the continued support of the Federal Constituency.
With the level of trust existing between the Governor and Deputy, it will be difficult for political jobbers and mischief makers to sow seeds of discord between the duo and Imo people will be the greatest beneficiaries.
Ultimately, a new dawn is here in Imo. There has never been a time in the history of the State that the Governor and Deputy enjoyed this level of friendship and unity of purpose. What we had in the past was a case of Master-Servant relationship between the Governor and the Deputy, which rarely ended well, as there is always a limit to pretence.
With the Ihedioha/Irona bond, mischief makers may have been given Red Card. They therefore need to look for another job, as Ihedioha and Irona are inseparable friends, allies and partners in development.
Most importantly, this bond is expected to produce one major result. The result has a name and the name is GOOD GOVERNANCE. Anything short of that will not be acceptable to Imo people. Let the journey continue. Let development be taken to the door steps of Imo people. Let transparency be part of governance culture. Expectations are very high and Imo people are hopeful!
Congratulations, ndi Imo!!!
Dr Walter Duru is a Communication/Public Relations Expert, Teacher and Consultant. He can be reached on: email@example.com
Islamic Estate Planning: Protect Your Family and Leave a Legacy
Islamic estate planning involves the distribution of your assets that serve to preserve, manage, and distribute them after death according to the principles of the Shari’ah.
According to the Islamic ordinance, those principles are significant in planning for dependents and represent an investment in the afterlife.
Islamic inheritance laws organise your wealth ownership and assets to ensure fairness and justice after your passing. Instead of leaving the tough decisions to grieving family members, you can arrange the gifting of your assets in advance. This creates a streamlined process for the distribution of the inheritance to all family members.
Islamic estate planning is essential in the life of Muslim faithful. Indeed, if you pass away as a Muslim without a proper plan for your assets, you may be breaching the bequest guidance stated in the Holy Book, which serves as an instruction manual for a Muslim’s life.
However, many are not concerned with making an inheritance plan, even though a failure to make one could trigger intense family debate and hinder the transfer of some assets to specific beneficiaries.
According to the guiding principles of Islamic estate planning, after covering the funeral expenses and debts owed by the deceased, a person may designate up to one-third of their wealth.
This discretionary giving is known as the Wasiyyah. However, there are limitations to this discretionary giving.
For example, Wasiyyah cannot be given to someone already receiving a share under the Islamic inheritance laws. The Wasiyyah is most commonly given to charity or to care for distant relatives who cannot provide for themselves.
The residual two-thirds is the Mirath and is reserved for the Islamic heirs as ordained in the Holy Book. Primary beneficiaries are those who will inherit some of your wealth, provided that they are alive and Muslim. These are your spouse, children, and parents, and they receive a fixed share of the wealth.
Secondary beneficiaries are those whose share of the inheritance is contingent on whether other primary beneficiaries are still alive. These may include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and other relatives. It is vital to appreciate the rights and obligations relating to an estate.
In preparing to bequeath an inheritance, it is crucial to organise your wealth in a manner that will make assets acceptable for consideration in an Islamic estate plan.
In this regard, investments should be screened for compliance with Islamic estate ethics, and investments in interest-bearing assets are disqualified.
Instead, it would help if you endeavoured to invest in increasingly popular Sukuk bonds. You should consider Mudarabah Investment accounts as substitutes to fixed deposit accounts and subscribe to a family takaful policy instead of a life insurance policy in your saving plans.
As for pension assets, you should opt for a multi-fund structure with an option to invest in Shari’ah-compliant instruments.
Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is a compulsory giving required from every financially stable Muslim. Those who have acquired wealth are obligated to respond to people in need and give back to the community. This response could include sponsoring widows or the education students and organising in a charitable Trust as part of an Islamic estate plan.
Therefore, you must consult a professional estate planner to assist with setting up a Trust arrangement where 2.5% of your assets/wealth is set aside annually for Zakat.
Several other tools can be used to organise the transfer of assets to a specific beneficiary. They include Hiba (making gifts), Waqf (setting up an endowment or trust), Wasiyya (transfers by donation), and it is appointing a Wasi or guardian for living dependents. Getting it right requires a thorough understanding of the principles of Islamic estate planning and the various assets available to achieve compliance.
Governor Okowa’s 2023 Presidency; an Objective Analysis
By Jerome-Mario Utomi
This piece stemmed from three recent developments in the country. First is the latest argument by development minded Nigerians that the nation’s perennial leadership haemorrhage/crisis is aggregated by a successive deficiency in leadership vision and in some cases made worse by public officials’ understanding and interpretation of problems with clarity but lacking in political will to see through or implement solutions. A development that has made the nation in dire need of a system that works, a government that caters for its citizens, especially the youths, secures lives and property while bolstering the economy.
The second and very germane is the Southern Governors Forum insistence that the presidency must shift to the southern part of the country come 2023, coupled with the recent decision by the main opposition party in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to zone the position of the national chairman of the party to the north.
As we know, it is a political principle embraced by major political parties in Nigeria that each time the national chairman of a political party emerges from the north, the presidential candidate of the same party, usually, emerges from the south where the likes of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State hails from.
Thirdly and most essential has to do with the fresh call by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, on Mr Okowa to contest for the presidency of the country in 2023.
The Minority Leader, who spoke at the installation of Rotary Club’s 2nd President for 2021/2022 Rotary Club Year (Club of Asaba Downtown District 9141), pointed out that Governor Okowa should serve as the President of the nation so that he can replicate his achievements in massive infrastructural and human capital development in Delta State at the national level.
He stressed that Governor Okowa was endowed with the capacity and proficiency to rescue the nation from the misrule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and reposition her to the path of peace, unity and economic prosperity.
“I must commend Governor Okowa for his selfless service and sacrifices that have led to unprecedented massive infrastructural development in our dear state as well as a better living standard for our people.
“Governor Okowa is a rare gift not only to Delta State but also to our nation Nigeria, at large. I firmly hold that he is endowed with the capacity and proficiency to serve our nation at the topmost level so that he can replicate the successes recorded in our state at the national level.
“I sincerely call on him to make him available to serve the nation again. He deserves to be the president of this country, come 2023,” Elumelu stated.
However, despite the popularity of this opinion, it will be antithetical to support a movement based on sentiment or allow sentiment to determine our actions. Therefore, in line with the Christian Holy Book, the Bible, admonished in 1 John 4; 1 that we do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
It will, for reasons, be of considerable significance to place this call under objective analysis to fundamentally help electorates make informed decisions ‘as the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all’.
To perform this function well, it will necessitate the following posers; Is Governor Okowa capped with vital leadership capacity needed to tame the nation’s perennial ‘leadership haemorrhage/crisis aggregated by a successive deficiency in leadership vision and made worse by public official’s understanding and interpretation of problems with clarity but lacking in political will to see through or implement solutions? Has Governor Okowa truly achieved massive infrastructural and human capital development in Delta State? Has he indeed and in truth demonstrated selfless service and sacrifices as claimed by Mr Elumelu?
Again, going by Elumelu’s claim, another question would be at the federal level, are there signs of misrules on the part of the APC led federal government that calls for Okowa’s attention to reposition the nation to the path of peace, unity and economic prosperity?
Again, on May 29, 2015, amidst cheers and jubilation from the marmot crowd that attended his swearing-in ceremony at the Cenotaph in Asaba, Okowa, going by media reports, told his audience that, “As a government, we are committed to the building and consolidation of a state in which there shall be more employment opportunities, a flourishing agriculture and agribusiness sector, effective health and educational systems, renewed urban infrastructure and enhanced security and peace to bolster economic growth and development.”
Now, looking at the past six years of his administration, it will elicit the question as to how well has the Governor brought these promises to fruition? Also, at the national level, how relevant is Governor Okowa when it comes to issues of national urgent importance? As the current Governor of Delta State, what particulars can Okowa led government point at to convince Nigerians that he can effectively administer the federation?
In providing answers to these nagging questions beginning with the last question, it must be fundamentally underlined that separate from the fact that Delta State, to use the words of Governor Okowa, is a microcosm of Nigeria because she is populated by different ethnic nationalities and has had inter-ethnic conflicts/clashes, fatal boundary disputes, especially over oil-bearing land, and political tensions, a case that in my views qualifies a governor of such state to effectively lead the federation, Governor Okowa, as subsequent paragraph will show, since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, demonstrated that for the leader to distinguish himself, he has to be a shining light and as such, he should be in a position to break the retrogressive tendencies that subsist in doing what one does not wish to do.
To capture this claim well, this piece will further x-ray/classify the achievements of Governor Okowa’s administration into two.
First, achievements at the state levels which has to do with policy objectives/programmes implementation aimed at creating jobs and wealth (wealth creation and employment generation), economic diversification, the democratization of the education sector, infrastructural development, re-jigging/provision of the state’s security architecture in the state, engagement of the youths in productive enterprise, nurture of entrepreneurs and leaders, promotion of communal peace and development of a database of employment and unemployed youths for planning purposes. The second focuses on his unrelenting nation-building efforts at the federal level.
Evidence abounds that the Governor in pursuance of these objectives compressed his programmes into a five-point agenda which is encapsulated in the acronym SMART.
The SMART agenda means Strategic wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans; Meaningful peacebuilding platforms aimed at political and social harmony; Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization; Relevant health and educational policies and; Transformed environment through urban renewal.
Take the wealth creation and employment generation, as an illustration, the Governor himself recently but succulently captured his achievements in this way; “we have a deliberate policy to tackle youth unemployment through skills training and entrepreneurship development programmes. I believe that the way out of the unemployment quagmire is to equip the youth with the technical know-how, vocational skills, values and resources to become self-employed, as distinct from one-off empowerment. This is what my administration has done by instituting various skills training and entrepreneurship development programmes, which include: Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP); Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP); Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP); Rural Youth Skills Acquisition Programme (RYSA); Girls Entrepreneurship Skills Training (GEST); and Women Entrepreneurship Skills Acquisition Programme (WESAP).”
These programmes he said are trainee-centred and service-oriented. The sectors and activities covered include agriculture, agricultural value chain services, vocational skills-based microenterprises and cottage enterprises.
Furthermore, the training and mentoring processes aim beyond raising entrepreneurs to produce leaders and managers that have high levels of personal responsibility and effectiveness. I am pleased to let you know that after six years of faithful implementation of these programmes, we have trained and given business support packages to several thousands of youths.
Following the success of these interventions and other efforts in promoting technical education, Delta State was ranked the Best State in Human Capital Development in the 2017 States Peer Review by the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria.
Also in 2020, Delta was adjudged to be the Second Least Poor State, coming only after Lagos, Nigeria’s business hub, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
From the above observations, it is obvious that he (Okowa) in my view is a Presidential material the nation needs to exit the unemployment crisis and economic retardation. However, in order not to be accused of indulging in hasty conclusions, this piece will go beyond the Governor’s wealth creation and employment generation prowess, to x-ray his efforts in other sectors.
To Be Continued.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374.
The Effects of Home Loans on the Cost of Living Post-COVID
COVID-19 has been a disaster for many people globally, one reason being the effect of the pandemic on the cost of living.
As the cost of living is rising while wages remain stagnant, it’s becoming apparent that many people are struggling to pay off their existing commitments. As a result of such obligations, more and more people seek refinancing options to lower their mortgage rates and reduce monthly expenses.
This post will cover how COVID-19 has affected home loan rates and the part it plays in the rising cost of living.
How Has COVID-19 Stressed Out The World Economies?
While it’s inevitable that no country can escape the effects of a global pandemic, some countries have weathered the storm better than others. For example, as you can see in the image above by Compare The Market Refinance Quotes, the US, Australia, and Denmark seem to be the least financially stressed of world economies, with manageable home loan rates being a significant factor. This has allowed these countries to cope with the negative effects that COVID-19 has had on the cost of living.
Other countries may be able to copy the decisions made by these governments to help restore their economies. Nevertheless, many individuals of these countries and others still find it challenging to pay their bank loans and mortgages.
How Are Home Loans Affecting The Cost Of Living Post-COVID-19?
In March 2020, many countries worldwide implemented a debt moratorium to alleviate household debt burdens due to the coronavirus pandemic. These moratoriums have already expired in many places, which raises some tough questions regarding what additional policies should be adopted to address the pandemic’s lingering effects.
With people facing the challenge of prioritizing their payments, especially when considering the rapid increase in inflation that many countries are experiencing, many have turned to various financial tools such as refinancing to get them through these difficult times.
What Is Loan Refinancing?
Loan refinancing is when you take out a new loan to replace the old one. There are many reasons why you might want to refinance your loans; you may not be happy with how much money you are spending each month on your monthly payments, or maybe you have another loan with a higher interest rate that will save you money in the long run. In these uncertain times, refinancing is becoming more popular.
However, it’s important to note that refinancing only works if you have good credit and still owe some of the original balance of your original loan. Not all types of loans can be refinanced, but here are five loan types can:
- Student loans
- Credit card balances
- Auto loans
- Various bank loans
In conclusion, the effects of home loans on the cost of living are pretty significant for many people, not just in the US but also worldwide. This has caused many to use refinancing as the cost of inflation rises.
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