By Jerome-Mario Utomi
A peripheral look at the list of actions so far taken by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to quail the raging youth unemployment challenge in the country will flash a feel that all is well with the Nigerian youths in the areas of employment and economic wellbeing.
But contrary to this belief, the mind eyes of Nigerians upon objective assessment need not pause before disagreeing with the above assertion.
This particular contradiction becomes more evident when one looks at available reports/data from Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which reveals that Nigeria’s second-quarter unemployment rate among young people (15-34 years old) was 34.9%, up from 29.7%, while the rate of underemployment for the same age group rose to 28.2% from 25.7% in Q3, 2018.
These rates, the report added, were the highest when compared to other age groupings. Nigeria’s youth population eligible to work is about 40 million out of which only 14.7 million are fully employed and another 11.2 million are unemployed.
To shed more light to the piece, recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had during a nationwide broadcast recently noted that this administration deeds and words have shown how committed they have been to the wellbeing and welfare of citizens, even with the steady dwindling revenues and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that the government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 MSMEs, paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and guaranteeing market for the products of traders. These are in addition to many other initiatives such as Farmermoni, Tradermoni, Marketmoni, N-Power, N-Tech and N-Agro.
This is apparently a well-prearranged effort. However, if this is the promised commitment to massive job creation for the army of young unemployed graduates in the country during the 2015 electioneering and the promised wellbeing, welfare of citizens, and broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years, then it simply means that the present government is not willing to profit from the experience of its predecessor.
Hence, unlike evolution in nature, which prevents the present from repeating the mistakes made by the former, the nation is ‘condemned’ to hyper unemployment situation, youth-related and unemployment induced crisis. And most importantly, be ready to retain the world poverty capital title for a very long time. The reason for this assertion is not far-fetched.
Aside from the fact that youth unemployment remains the most pernicious of all challenges confronting the country as a large army of unemployed youths often always becomes a security threat to the few that are employed, what is of greater concern to this piece is the warning by development practitioners that solution/programmes mentioned by Mr President were but a mere repetition of mistakes made by the previous administration under a different operational nomenclature.
They were particularly of the view that it is not right for state and federal governments of Nigeria to create agencies that dole money to Nigerian youths with the aim of eradicating poverty as such huge resources do not have economic value. Instead, such amount they argued should be channelled towards building industries and factories of production.
Such a claim is not without examples.
In 2013, YouWin, which stands for Youths Enterprise with innovation in Nigeria, was initiated by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led federal government to generate jobs by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria financially to develop and execute business ideas that would lead to job creation. It was according to reports designed to generate between 80,000 and 110,000 new jobs for unemployed Nigerian Youths.
In the end, the scheme produced only 1,200 winners who were selected from a pool of over 24,000 participants. But today, most of the winners/beneficiaries are on the streets of major cities in Nigeria searching for Job. These are verifiable facts.
If such unpleasant incident occasioned by government’s failure to create enabling environment for small and medium scale industries to thrive could befall these youths that received between N2 million and N10 million in the programme, at a time when inflation was at single digit, when electricity bill has not skyrocketed and fuel pump price was still at N97 per litre, then we can imagine what might happen now.
This piece, therefore, wonders what sort of good N10,000 Market Moni or Trader Moni, by the present administration, will do to a small business centre operator along Demurin Road, Alapere Ketu, Lagos, when petrol pump price is presently at N162 per litre, when he pays as high as N28,000 monthly Electricity Tariff, buys N20,000 worth of petrol to fuel his generating set and pays N10,000 as rent all in one month?
In the same vein, Nigerians are still waiting with a mouthful of air to see how payment for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the CAC will translate to, or help new business owners survive under the prevailing electricity and pump price hikes and in a nation lacking in economic strategies and appropriate support policy to the real sector?
Also rings apprehension is the reality that the policies mentioned above by Mr President lacks a clear definition of the present problem and because they are laced with virtually no sustainable consideration for connecting the youths with secured and enduring future, such interventions in the estimation of this piece become mere palliatives that cure effects while leaving the root cause to thrive.
From the above realities, it is obvious that President Muhammadu Buhari urgently needs to give up the excuses and justifications and come to terms with the results his administration is currently producing.
He must in the words of Jack Canfield underline that the only things that will change the result is to change behaviour. This administration needs to prospect more, but must be willing to look at the results of his administration producing. The only starting point that works is reality.
Specifically, Mr President needs to start looking around at people. Are they happy? Is there a balance? Do the systems work? Are they getting what they want? Is your reputation as president increasing? What about your grades? Are they satisfactory? Are you getting better in all areas of your leadership? If not, then something needs to happen, and only you can make it happen. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Take your own inventory.
Finally, it is not impossible that the present administration may have a sincere desire to move the nation forward but the truth remains that considering the slow-growing economy but scary unemployment levels in the country, the current administration will continue to find it faced with difficulty accelerating the economic life cycle of the nation until they contemplate industrialisation or productive collaboration with private organisations that have surplus capital to create employment.
Whichever way, this piece holds the opinion that it is still very possible to operate profitable businesses that will create millions of employment opportunities for our youths by the federal government using the Indian/Lebanese system of business model. Finding what this means and possibly domesticate the same should be the urgent responsibility of this government.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos.
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 email@example.com/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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