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Is Lagos State Government Determined to Kill Thriving Businesses?

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babajide sanwo olubabajide sanwo olu

By Adedapo Adesanya

The recent moves by the Lagos State Government are already making some Nigerians, especially those doing business, to raise eyebrows.

There have been conspiracy theories in some quarters that there is a secret power play to suffocate innovation and leave citizens at the mercy of their government.

It is not a hidden truth that technology has not only brought about ease of doing business but has also caused disruptions that have threatened old players, who either have to keep up or risk being kicked out of the scene.

Also, technology has made some Nigerians think out of the box to make things happen for themselves where the government has failed.

However, it has been a reoccurring pattern that whenever such ventures are beginning to yield good fruits, the government swoops in under the aegis of regulations to bring up back-breaking policies unfavourable to the operators.

This is all but becoming a common trend in the Centre of Excellence as seen recently with plans to regulate e-hailing operators such as Uber, Bolt, among others.

The latest information is that the state government, headed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is planning to earn about 10 per cent of every fare charged by drivers from passengers.

This is coming after the same government frustrated commercial motorcycle operators out of the business almost after getting funds to expand their businesses.

In February 2020, the government of Mr Sanwo-Olu, after identifying with some key bike-hailing firms, restricted the operations of motorcycles and this singular policy sent most operators packing. Since then, the likes of Gokada, Max, and Safeboda have had to move out of the state to others, where they have a better policy.

Some have even claimed that if the environment was favourable to the late CEO of Gokada, Mr Fahim Saleh, he may have still been alive and may not have had any reason to be in the United States, where he was killed last month.

But it is important to note that Business Post does not subscribe to this.

Beginning from next Thursday, ride companies in the city with less than 1,000 drivers are expected to pay a N10 million licence fee, while those with more than 1,000 drivers are to pay N25 million.

Subsequent renewals were also put at N10 million for those with more than 1,000 drivers and N5 million for those with less.

As for operators with 50 cabs or less, they are expected to pay a N5 million licence fee with an annual renewal of N1.5 million, while those with more than 50 cabs are to pay N10 million with a renewal subscription of N3 million.

An interpretation of this is that while the already established players like Uber and Bolt can afford this because of capturing the market earlier, it may be very difficult for relatively new players as certain conditions made by the state look like they are aimed at killing innovation and fair competition.

Better still, is the Lagos State government trying to play in the same league where it is the referee?

In March, the Lagos State Yellow Taxi/Cab Drivers Association launched a digital mobile app to enhance their operational efficiency and also keep up with the times.

The Ekocab application was designed to enable the Ministry of Transportation to monitor commuter patterns to aid the state government in proffering innovation regulations and solutions for overall improvements in the Lagos transportation sector.

The new regulations extend this to other platforms, directing them to give the Ministry access to their database. This might be interpreted as a means of knowing the hotspot where these services operate and seek to penetrate there.

Already, it is being speculated in some quarters that this recent move by the state government was triggered by the Yellow Taxi group, who observers say see the Ubers and others as a major threat to their existence.

Also, the aggressiveness by which the state is seeking to raise revenue is also being touted to have a political undertone.

Conspiracy theories continue to fly around that the supposed landlord of Lagos State allegedly needs funds to pursue his dream of becoming the most powerful person in Nigeria by 2023 and his foot soldiers are working to make this a reality.

If we must attract investors into the country, policies like this must be taken away. Only recently, the federal government tried to frustrate the logistics business when it noticed that the sector was already becoming a money-spinner.

Also recently, there were reports that local councils in Lagos State were asking for a weekly fee of N600 from agency banking sector of the economy.

The administration of Mr Sanwo-Olu must make efforts not to be seen as killing innovation and businesses all in the name of generating revenue. At least, if the government cannot efficiently cater for its citizens, it should not use policies to frustrate those trying to make their lives better through a legitimate means.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Nigerians! Wake up

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map of nigeria

By Christie Oby Ndukwe

The day we begin to focus more on our ancestry as children of one father, the day we will put away the negatives that have kept us divided and hating over every little provocation!

The failure of adherents of both religions to study their scriptures is the platform upon which selfish and sometimes ignorant religious leaders ride on to confuse and control our minds.

It’s about time we stopped them!

Education, formal or informal, is the major tool for recreating the minds of people. Poverty is second to ignorance on the scale of factors responsible for the tense relationship between people of the same bloodline.

We can actually live in peace, do business together, and transform Nigeria.

If the founder of UAE, an originally desert land could turn a wilderness into wonder, and yet make it home, for non-Muslims to live and do business, there is no reason why we should keep a Greenland with all the resources beneath and untapped comatose on the altar of religious differences and ethnicity.

The ‘Abraham Accords’ has done the impossible. It has “brought about normalisation and a quick warning of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.” The group has extended this accord between Israel and Sudan and Israel and Morocco.

We are still here looking for the difference between an Igbo and Ikwerre, a Fulani and Hausa, an Ibibio and Anang or Efik, and worse still, between a Southerner and a Northerner. No wonder the race to the 2023 General election has been predicated on ethnicity and religion.

If not, why wouldn’t a Tinubu run with a Sheriff or an Amaechi with a Fashola?

Oh yes, the drums of ethnicity and religion would be rolled out! Oh! I wished I could close my eyes and wake up with a new beginning for the once giant nation of the black race!

Unashamedly, Nigeria is broken, but her leaders are super wealthy.

Realising that the value of one dirham or AED in UAE to the Nigerian Naira is 166, I weep for my country!

The Zambia we oftentimes overlook as their currency so close to the UAE money with just 2 or 3 differences.

We are a nation so rich, so poor. We intimidate other African nations, yet we are not getting better than them.

Before you come to my timeline to place the blame on anyone, know that you have also in some way contributed to the fall of the giant.

It is time for us to think home and join the @ThinkHome campaign!!!

Christie Oby Ndukwe is a publisher, writer, social critic, and founder of ThinkHome Campaign, an arm of Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative

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Okowa’s Financial Aid to Mission Schools

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Ifeanyi Okowa Delta State

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 jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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Tips for Building a Low-code Strategy

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Low-code Development

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

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