Rebranding Nigeria simply means to redefine our concept of Nationhood and engage wholly in the process of National renewal to attain a height where National Interest
must be exalted far and above personal, ethno-religious and regional interest. In other words, it connotes the renewing of our dreams, hopes and aspirations. It is total re-dedication and re-commitment to the dictates of our National anthem and our pledge and recognizing these hues we recites everyday as sacred oath of allegiance to our Country. Rebranding Nigeria is also to rekindle the fire of patriotism not as a conditional loyalty and love to a Nation, but as an unflinching and unconditional love and loyalty to same. This will become our own task where, the domestic and international image of the Nation matters to all and sundry.
Our Role as Nigerians in Diaspora: I always believe that it is the Nigerians in Diaspora that will rescue our nation. This group is what I call the external within. Because I believe that they have tasted both sides of aisle, and are well formed and informed to bring in their valuable experience and expertise to the Nigerians at home, the group I also called the Internal within. In essence, I strongly believe that our problem must be solved by us. we do not need any stranger to help us in clearing our mess. Secondly, I must note that the Nigerians in Diaspora should realize that we have a rendezvous with destiny and that, the task of reshaping our individual and collective destinies is our sole responsibihty and that, we owe the next generation a duty to craft a well projected, practical and workable blueprint for Nation building or we may be, in former US president Ronald Reagan ‘s word: at the edge of “sentencing our children’s children into a thousand years of darkness”. Now is the right time for us Nigerians in Diaspora to overhaul his value and
believe systems by discarding the imperialist ideology of Nationhood that was transferred by the colonial masters to our unsuspecting founding fathers. Who were psyched at Pre- independence, Independence and Post- independence into believing that once the British flag was brought down and replaced by the Nigerian flag and that once the people mumbled through the hurriedly composed and learnt anthem and that once the British army matched past the newly elected black man in caricature military uniform and offered a half-baked salute. Behold, a Nation was born. They never thought that Nation building was not a destination, but a journey. Our innocent founding fathers never suspected that, the polarization of our Country along regional path by the colonialist was deliberately targeted at dismanthng our pre-colonial inter-dependency on one another’s commerce, distinct culture and traditions, which dates back prior to the amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern protectorates by Fredrick John Dealtry, (later. Lord Lugard of Abinger) in 1914. They never reahzed that the colonial masters made sure that at Independence, they got only Togetherness and not Unity, Confidence and not strength.
At these defining moments in our National lives. We, Nigerians in Diaspora and our youths should be very conscious of the fact that despite our seemingly National challenges, what binds us together is far greater than what drives us apart and that it is about time we left our self-created comfort zones on a desperate search for a new and formidable National identity. We should note that, although our stories might differ from one person to the other and from one region to another, but our common National destiny is shared and that it is now in our respective hands. We need to start as a matter of urgency, replace the Imperialist administrative structure inherited by our founding fathers from the colonialist which has thus far been recreated and promoted by some us here in foreign land. Which is described as Dichotomy : Imo/Anambra dichotomy, Hausa/Yoruba dichotomy, Christian/Mushm dichotomy, Military/Civilian dichotomy, Majority/Minority, Rich/Poor dichotomy, Male/Female dichotomy, Young/Old dichotomy, to mention a few. And from which ever perspective you look at Nigeria, this is what stares you at the face. This dichotomy has become a menace that characterizes our biggest National challenge and deters National growth. And by this dichotomy, none of us have been able to capture a bigger picture of Nigeria as a sovereign Nation, rather than as a mere regional formation.
We should begin to uplift our political commitments above the ancestral political jingoism. That way, we will learn to still see and accept those who do not share our political ideologies and sentiments as enemies, but as friends with different political views. We can start this process here. For example, let us start today to talk more positive things about Nigeria and about ourselves. We can condemn our system of government and our leaders for their political failures but let us not dwell in painting ourselves blacker than we are. Let us be our brother’s keeper and desist from back-biting one another or talk ill of one another. This I believe will terminate the ancient political deadlock embedded along party, tribal and religious lines
It is about time that we Nigerians aligned with John F. Kennedy’s statement during his inaugural address on January 20th 1961: “Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country”. By so doing, we will fortify our once existing unity and with a common sense of purpose; rediscover the virtues of hard work, patriotism, personal responsibility, optimism and faith. Let us draw a clear margin between the Nigeria we have and the Nigeria we desperately need. Let us as true patriots see through the tiniest hole, an enlarged picture of a United States of Nigeria, the picture of a glorious nation where men and women alike are not judged by tribe, religion or geographical placement, but in Martin Luther King’s word: “. . .by the content of their characters”.
At this crucial moment of National re-birth. Let the Nigerians in Diaspora be ready to contribute to the nation building. Those who have expertise in different fields must be ready to go home and help rebuild our nation. We must begin to demand transparency, question our democracy. We must bring with us the refined democracy we enjoyed here in foreign land to our people at home. Now is the time, we must be bold enough to say that no matter what, Nigeria is my country and that, every government policies affects me directly and that, if my voice must be heard, then I need to invest my input into governance. Let us bear in mind that, in spite of the fact that we have been nourished by a generation of broken promises, we can still be able to cultivate a tradition based on the simple principle that, we have stake on one another, if National Interest is still seen as a tool for a meaningful National development. Then we must not rest in our oars to fight for what we believe in.
As Nigerians in Diaspora, It is time we should see ourselves as political architects that would rather build into our National future than political archeologist that will concentrate on digging from the relics of our past political failures. More importantly. We should also see Nation building as an opportunity of a lifetime given to us to discharge our obligations to a beloved Country. Mindful of our enormous challenges as a Nation, we still have the faith that we shall get to the Promised Land someday. Let us in the face of trouble share president Obama’ s conviction that, “I have no doubt that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their Country can change it”. Let us convince ourselves that, if at this trying time in our history, we will collectively starve our doubts of a new Nigeria to death and regroup with a renewed mind-set of rediscovering, recreating, redefining and rebranding Nigeria, then we can boldly explore a new National creed in obama’s slogan: ‘Yes we can’.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Provided by http://www.codewit.com
Rebranding Nigeria: Role of the Nigerians in Diaspora was presented by Mr. Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi at the occasion of Nigeria Independence Day organized by People Democratic Party Finland Chapter on the 4th October 2009
Source: Rebranding Nigeria
Nigeria contains more historic cultures and empires than any other other nation in Africa. They date back as far as the 5th century BC, when communities living around the southern slopes of the Jos plateau make wonderfully expressive terracotta figures – in a tradition known now as the Nok culture, from the Nigerian village where these sculptures are first unearthed. The Nok people are neolithic tribes who have recently acquired the iron technology spreading southwards through Africa.
The Jos plateau is in the centre of Nigeria, but the first extensive kingdoms of the region – more than a millennium after the Nok people – are in the north and northeast, deriving their wealth from trade north through the Sahara and east into the Sudan.
During the 9th century AD a trading empire grows up around Lake Chad. Its original centre is east of the lake, in the Kanem region, but it soon extends to Bornu on the western side. In the 11th century the ruler of Kanem-Bornu converts to Islam.
West of Bornu, along the northern frontier of Nigeria, is the land of the Hausa people. Well placed to control trade with the forest regions to the south, the Hausa develop a number of small but stable kingdoms, each ruled from a strong walled city. They are often threatened by larger neighbours (Mali and Gao to the west, Bornu to the east). But the Hausa traders benefit also from being on the route between these empires. By the 14th century they too are Muslim.
In the savanna grasslands and the forest regions west of the Niger, between the Hausa kingdoms and the coast, the Yoruba people are the dominant tribes. Here they establish two powerful states.
The first is Ife, on the border between forest and savanna. Famous now for its sculpture, Ife flourishes from the 11th to 15th century. In the 16th century a larger Yoruba empire develops, based slightly further from the forest at Oyo. Using the profits of trade to develop a forceful cavalry, Oyo grows in strength during the 16th century. By the end of the 18th century the rulers of Oyo are controlling a region from the Niger to the west of Dahomey.
Meanwhile, firmly within the forest, the best known of all the Nigerian kingdoms establishes itself in the 15th century (from small beginnings in the 13th). Benin becomes a name internationally known for its cast-metal sculpture, in a tradition inherited from the Ife (see Sculpture of Ife and Benin).
In terms of extent Benin is no match for Oyo, its contemporary to the north. In the 15th century the region brought under central control is a mere seventy-miles across (people and places being harder to subdue in the tropical forest than on the savanna), though a century later Benin stretches from the Niger delta in the east to Lagos in the west.
But Benin’s fame is based on factors other than power. This is the coastal kingdom which the Portuguese discover when they reach the mouth of the Niger in the 1470s, bringing back to Europe the first news of superb African artefacts and of the ceremonial splendour of Benin’s oba or king.
The kings of Benin are a story in themselves. In the 19th century they scandalize the west by their use of human sacrifice in court rituals. And they have stamina. At the end of the 20th century the original dynasty is still in place, though without political power. All in all, among Nigeria’s many historic kingdoms, Benin has earned its widespread renown.
The Fulani and Sokoto: AD 1804-1903
Living among the Hausa in the northern regions of Nigeria are a tribe, the Fulani, whose leaders in the early 19th century become passionate advocates of strict Islam. From 1804 sheikh Usman dan Fodio and his two sons lead the Fulani in an immensely successful holy war against the lax Muslim rulers of the Hausa kingdoms.
The result is the establishment in 1809 of a Fulani capital at Sokoto, from which the centre and north of Nigeria is effectively ruled for the rest of the 19th century. But during this same period there has been steady encroachment on the region by British interests.
British explorers: AD 1806-1830
From the death of Mungo Park near Bussa in 1806 to the end of the century, there is continuing interest in Nigeria on the part of British explorers, anti-slavery activists, missionaries and traders.
In 1821 the British government sponsors an expedition south through the Sahara to reach the kingdom of Bornu. Its members become the first Europeans to reach Lake Chad, in 1823. One of the group, Hugh Clapperton, explores further west through Kano and the Hausa territory to reach Sokoto. Clapperton is only back in England for a few months, in 1825, before he sets off again for the Nigerian coast at Lagos.
On this expedition, with his servant Richard Lander, he travels on trade routes north from the coast to Kano and then west again to Sokoto. Here Clapperton dies. But Lander makes his way back to London, where he is commissioned by the government to explore the lower reaches of the Niger.
Accompanied in 1830 by his brother John, Lander makes his way north from the coast near Lagos to reach the great river at Bussa – the furthest point of Mungo Park’s journey downstream. With considerable difficulty the brothers make a canoe trip downstream, among hostile Ibo tribesmen, to reach the sea at the Niger delta. This region has long been familiar to European traders, but its link to the interior is now charted. All seems set for serious trade.
After Lander’s second return to England a company is formed by a group of Liverpool merchants, including Macgregor Laird, to trade on the lower Niger. Laird is also a pioneer in the shipping industry. For the present purpose, an expedition to the Niger, he designs an iron paddle-steamer, the 55-ton Alburkah.
Laird himself leads the expedition, with Richard Lander as his expert guide.
The Alburkah steams south from Milford Haven in July 1832 with forty-eight on board. She reaches the mouth of the Niger three months later, entering history as the first ocean-going iron ship.
After making her way up one of the many streams of the Niger delta, the Alburkah progresses upstream on the main river as far as Lokoja, the junction with the Benue. The expedition demonstrates that the Niger offers a highway into the continent for ocean vessels. And the performance of the iron steamer is a triumph. But medicine is not yet as far advanced as technology. When the Alburkah returns to Liverpool, in 1834, only nine of the original crew of forty-eight are alive. They include a much weakened Macgregor Laird.
Trade and anti-slavery: AD 1841-1900
The next British expedition to the Niger is almost equally disastrous in terms of loss of life. Four ships under naval command are sent out in 1841, with instructions to steam up the Niger and make treaties with local kings to prevent the slave trade. The enterprise is abandoned when 48 of the 145 Europeans in the crews die of fever.
Malaria is the cause of the trouble, but major progress is made when a doctor, William Baikie, leads an expedition up the Niger in 1854. He administers quinine to his men and suffers no loss of life. Extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree, quinine has long been used in medicine. But its proven efficacy against malaria is a turning point in the European penetration of Africa.
The British anti-slavery policy in the region involves boosting the trade in palm oil (a valuable product which gives the name Oil Rivers to the Niger delta) to replace the dependence on income from the slave trade. It transpires later that this is somewhat counter-productive, causing the upriver chieftains to acquire more slaves to meet the increased demand for palm oil. But it is nevertheless the philanthropic principle behind much of the effort to set up trading stations.
At the same time the British navy patrols the coast to liberate captives from slave ships of other nations and to settle them at Freetown in Sierra Leone.
From 1849 the British government accepts a more direct involvement. A consul, based in Fernando Po, is appointed to take responsibility for the Bights of Biafra and Benin. He undertakes direct negotiations with the king of Lagos, the principal port from which slaves are shipped. When these break down, in 1851, Lagos is attacked and captured by a British force.
Another member of the Lagos royal family is placed on the throne, after guaranteeing to put an end to the slave trade and to human sacrifice (a feature of this region). When he and his successor fail to fulfil these terms, Lagos is annexed in 1861 as a British colony.
During the remainder of the century the consolidation of British trade and British political control goes hand in hand. In 1879 George Goldie persuades the British trading enterprises on the Niger to merge their interests in a single United African Company, later granted a charter as the Royal Niger Company.
In 1893 the delta region is organized as the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1897 the campaign against unacceptable local practices reaches a climax in Benin – notorious by this time both for slave trading and for human sacrifice. The members of a British delegation to the oba of Benin are massacred in this year. In the reprisals Benin City is partly burnt by British troops.
The difficulty of administering the vast and complex region of Nigeria persuades the government that the upriver territories, thus far entrusted to the Royal Niger Company, also need to be brought under central control.
In 1900 the company’s charter is revoked. Britain assumes direct responsibility for the region from the coast to Sokoto and Bornu in the north. Given the existing degree of British involvement, this entire area has been readily accepted at the Berlin conference in 1884 as falling to Britain in the scramble for Africa – though in the late 1890s there remains dangerous tension between Britain and France, the colonial power in neighbouring Dahomey, over drawing Nigeria’s western boundary.
British colonial rule: AD 1900-1960
The sixty years of Britain’s colonial rule in Nigeria are characterized by frequent reclassifying of different regions for administrative purposes. They are symptomatic of the problem of uniting the country as a single state.
In the early years the Niger Coast Protectorate is expanded to become Southern Nigeria, with its seat of government at Lagos. At this time the rulers in the north (the emir of Kano and the sultan of Sokoto) are very far from accepting British rule. To deal with the situation Frederick Lugard is appointed high commissioner and commander-in-chief of the protectorate of northern Nigeria.
Lugard has already been much involved in the colony, commanding troops from 1894 on behalf of the Royal Niger Company to oppose French claims on Borgu (a border region, divided in 1898 between Nigeria and Dahomey). Between 1903 and 1906 he subdues Kano and Sokoto and finally puts an end to their rulers’ slave-raiding expeditions.
Lugard pacifies northern Nigeria by ensuring that in each territory, however small, the throne is won and retained by a chief willing to cooperate. Lugard then allows these client rulers considerable power – in the technique, soon to be known as ‘indirect rule’, which in Africa is particularly associated with his name (though it has been a familiar aspect of British colonial policy in India).
In 1912 Lugard is appointed governor of both northern and southern Nigeria and is given the task of merging them. He does so by 1914, when the entire region becomes the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.
The First World War brings a combined British and French invasion of German Cameroon (a campaign not completed until early in 1916). In 1922 the League of Nations grants mandates to the two nations to administer the former German colony. The British mandate consists of two thin strips on the eastern border of Nigeria.
The rival claims of Nigeria’s various regions become most evident after World War II when Britain is attempting to find a structure to meet African demands for political power. By 1951 the country has been divided into Northern, Eastern and Western regions, each with its own house of assembly. In addition there is a separate house of chiefs for the Northern province, to reflect the strong tradition there of tribal authority. And there is an overall legislative council for the whole of Nigeria.
But even this is not enough to reflect the complexity of the situation. In 1954 a new constitution (the third in eight years) establishes the Federation of Nigeria and adds the Federal Territory of Lagos.
During the later 1950s an African political structure is gradually achieved. From 1957 there is a federal prime minister. In the same year the Western and Eastern regions are granted internal self-government, to be followed by the Northern region in 1959.
Full independence follows rapidly, in October 1960. The tensions between the country’s communities now become Nigeria’s own concern.
Regional hostilities are a feature of independent Nigeria from the start, partly due to an imbalance of population. More than half the nation’s people are in the Fulani and Hausa territories of the Northern region. Northerners therefore control not only their own regional assembly but also the federal government in Lagos.
From 1962 to 1964 there is almost continuous anti-northern unrest elsewhere in the nation, coming to a climax in a rebellion in 1966 by officers from the Eastern region, the homeland of the Ibo. They assassinate both the federal prime minister and the premiers of the Northern and Western regions.
In the ensuing chaos many Ibos living in the north are massacred. In July a northern officer, Yakubu Gowon, emerges as the country’s leader. His response to Nigeria’s warring tribal factions is to subdivide the four regions (the Mid-West has been added in 1963), rearranging them into twelve states.
This device further inflames Ibo hostility, for one of the new states cuts their territory off from the sea. The senior Ibo officer, Odumegwu Ojukwu, takes the drastic step in May 1967 of declaring the Eastern region an independent nation, calling it the republic of Biafra.
The result is bitter and intense civil war, with the federal army (increasing during the conflict from 10,000 to 200,000 men) meeting powerful resistance from the secessionist region. The issue splits the west, where it is the first post-independence African war to receive widespread coverage. The US and Britain supply arms to the federal government. France extends the same facilities to Biafra.
In any civil war ordinary people suffer most, and in small land-locked Biafra this is even more true than usual. By January 1970 they are starving. Biafra surrenders and ceases to exist. Ojukwu escapes across the border and is granted asylum in the Ivory Coast.
General Gowon achieves an impressive degree of reconciliation in the country after the traumas of 1967-70. Nigeria now becomes one of the wealthiest countries in Africa thanks to its large reserves of oil (petroleum now, rather than the palm oil of the previous century). In the mid-1970s the output is more than two million barrels a day, the value of which is boosted by the high prices achieved during the oil crisis of 1973-4.
But with this wealth goes corruption, which Gowon fails to control. When he is abroad, in 1975, his government is toppled in a military coup. Gowon retires to Britain.
In the second half of the 1970s oil prices plummet. Nigeria rapidly suffers economic crisis and political disorder. Within a period of five years the average income per head slumps by 75%, from over $1000 a year to a mere $250.
Neither brief cilivian governments nor frequent military intervention prove able to rescue the situation. A regular response is to subdivide regional Nigeria into ever smaller parcels. The number of states is increased to nineteen in 1979 and to twenty-nine in 1991. By the end of the century it stands at thirty-six. Meanwhile the nation’s foreign debt has been increasing in parallel, to reach $36 billion by 1994.
In 1993 the military ruler (Ibrahim Babangida, in power from 1985) yields to international pressure and holds a presidential election. When it appears to have been conclusively won by Moshood Abiola, a chief of the western Yoruba tribe, Babangida cancels the election by decree.
This blatant act prompts Nigeria’s first energetic movement for democracy, which comes to international attention when one of its leaders – the playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa – is among a group hanged in 1995 for the alleged murder of four rivals at a political rally in 1994. Saro-Wiwa has also been a campaigner for the rights of his Ogoni people, whose territory is ravaged – to no benefit to themselves – by the international companies extracting Nigeria’s oil.
The world-wide outcry at Saro-Wiwa’s death, without any pretence of a fair trial, prompts Nigeria’s generals to offer new elections in 1999. The presidential election is won by Olusegun Obasanjo, by now a civilian but for three years from 1976 the military ruler of the country – and therefore widely assumed to be the army’s preferred candidate. His People’s Democratic Party wins a majority of seats in both the house of representatives and the senate.
Early reports suggest that under Obasanjo’s government a ruthless disregard of civil liberties continues in Nigeria, with outbreaks of minority ethnic protest being brutally suppressed.
The election of Obasanjo, a Christian from the south, brings new tensions. As if in response, in November 1999, the predominantly Muslim northern state of Zamfara introduces strict Islamic law, the sharia. Other northern states discuss similar action. Local Christians take alarm. Violent street battles between the two communities are a feature of the early months of 2000.
The future of Nigeria is problematic but of considerable importance to Africa. The nation’s potential remains vast. With at least 115 million people (comprising some 200 tribes) it is the continent’s most populous country. And as the world’s fifth largest oil producer, it has the wherewithal to be one of the richest.
Background to the need for shared services
The never ending squeeze on resources following the longest global economic downturn in recent years, sovereign debt and corporate lay-offs has focused attention more than ever before, on the need for all establishments in all sectors of the economy to take a long hard look at not only the product or services they provide but also processes involved in their production and to think radically on the best way to cope with budget cuts without adverse impact on their operations.
In the public sector for instance, it is generally agreed, that although some services are desirable, they are not essential. Even for those services considered essential, such as those supplied to vulnerable groups, questions are being asked, fresh reviews undertaken and service provisions subjected to various tests of cost efficiency under gigantic microscopic lenses.
The IPF (2006) suggests shared services as one means of improving cost efficiency in public sector bodies. This article revisits the idea and suggests that in the face of current economic conditions, the idea could be extended beyond the public sector to particularly small private sector organisations. It seeks to re-examine the benefits and potential barriers towards its adoption and the steps involved in successfully designing and implementing a shared services arrangement.
The Concept of Shared Services
The concept of shared services/costs involves organisations working together in corporate and transactional areas such as procurement, human resources, Information Technology, Legal services, Auditing etc, in order to improve economies of scale in the delivery of those services thereby improving performance and increasing the size of the bottom-line. The idea first came to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s when Information Technology (IT) and Human Resources (HR) were among the first functions to be subjected to shared services (or outsourcing) regime. These were quickly followed by Legal Services, Facilities Management, Finance and Auditing functions.
The main drivers of the trend towards shared services in the UK were initially the central government targets for improving public sector efficiency and advances in technology that made it easier to share information. But more recently, the downward spiral in economic activities necessitating greater urge to survive in the market place by reducing costs and increasing profitability has been an added impetus.
Shared services look to consolidate corporate, administrative or transactional services but differ from outsourcing because it does not involve the transfer of control over the delivery of such services to another body. Shared services are often governed directly by participating organisations so that the benefits of outsourcing can be achieved without the problems associated with losing control of the provision of the service.
The paper argues that introducing shared services involves a lot of hard work in managing the change but if organisations adopt the right strategy and weigh up important decisions carefully it will be worth the effort. It justifies this by balancing the hard work involved against the following potential benefits which are not only financial but also non-financial.
Long term benefits of Shared Services
The benefits of shared services go beyond helping organisations to survive cuts in budgets but also include other long term benefits such as the opportunity to deliver considerable gains in efficiency and performance. But it is important to ensure that there is a strong business case before beginning any shared services initiative. Once a proper business case has been established, implementation needs to be planned and administered correctly. It is only then that the financial and non-financial benefits could be realised.
A major benefit of shared services is cost savings. This could be in the form of lower accommodation costs by moving to a single site, fewer management overheads or cheaper procurement through aggregated demand and greater purchasing power. The UK Government Treasury report Operational Efficiency Programme (OEP), published in April 2009 estimates that the public sector can achieve a reduction in back office annual costs of around 20–25% (or £4bn of the approximate £18bn spend) over a three year period and produce savings of 20% in IT costs (equating to £3.2bn of £16bn). Similar levels of savings could be achieved in other organisations outside the public sector, especially small to medium sized companies, if the idea of shared services is adopted. More importantly, in addition to the financial benefits, there are other non-financial benefits that could be realised.
A major benefit of shared services is the increased efficiency it brings. ‘Efficiency’ here should be interpreted in a wide sense. It is argued that shared services can deliver better corporate performance and improved service outputs by establishing better processes, producing quality management information and introducing greater professionalism into corporate and transactional functions.
A shared service initiative can act as catalyst for beneficial change in organisations, for example, better management information should improve decision-making and help identify where problems occur
within business processes. Senior management are freed up to focus on more value added activity such as developing strategy, improving front-line services, responding to the changing environment and delivering key objectives within their own departments and organisations.
Overcoming the Hurdles to Shared Service Development
A number of factors, including significant variation in standards and processes across organisations may constitute major obstacles to effective sharing of services.
Without a fundamental change in existing organisational constructs, capabilities and training, finance shared services and Business Process Outsource (BPO) implementation can disappoint. While costs are reduced, increasing strategic focus, transforming the finance function, and facilitating globalisation may be more elusive (ACCA 2011).
IPF (2006) identified the potential problems associated with implementing shared services and grouped them into four main categories – partner selection, staff buy-in, ICT issues and programme and contract management. It suggests that these hurdles can be overcome if the organisation has effective leadership, adopts good change management techniques, and chooses the appropriate model for implementation. For example, staff scepticism could be overcome by seconding staff to the shared service rather than deciding to outsource.
As a general rule, organisations should focus first on sharing those services that are least likely to prove problematic. This would include those that are process-based or staffed by competent individuals which are unlikely to cause controversy.
Shared services have the potential to deliver significant benefits in terms of reduced costs and improved corporate performance. Though originally conceived within a Public sector framework, it has the potential for wider application beyond public sector organisations. If well planned and properly implemented, it could generate long term benefits with significant impact on the long term sustainability of organisations.
Increasing numbers of finance executives are already changing their delivery models by setting up finance shared services operations as one of the tools for reducing base costs or improving bottom lines on the face of global sovereign and corporate debts.
Omusa Baba Ohyoma BA(Hons), MBA, FCCA, ACA is Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) UK District, Financial Secretary of the Nigerians in Diaspora Europe (NIDOE) UK South and founding member/former Vice Chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK).
IPF (2006). Shared services: The opportunities and issues for public sector organisations.
The credit crisis has raised several public sector accounting issues. Governments have extended credit to and guaranteed the liabilities of banks, purchased impaired debt instruments and in some instances have assumed control of banks.
The unique nature of the credit crisis and the unprecedented response by governments around the world has reinforced the importance of high-quality standards for financial reporting by governments1. However, the global diversity in the practice of public sector accounting continues to impede the reduction of bureaucracy and the creation of comparable standards in terms of accountability and transparency.
The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) continues to engage in the ongoing process of harmonizing public sector accounting with their International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs)2. IPSASB recognises the diversity of forms of government, social and cultural traditions, and service delivery mechanisms that exist in the many jurisdictions that may adopt IPSAS.
IPSAS are a set of accounting standards issued by the IPSASB for use by public sector entities around the world in the preparation of financial statements. These standards are based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). IASB is an independent organ of International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
IFAC is a worldwide association of accounting professionals and organizations whose mission is to serve the public interest by continuing to strengthen the worldwide accountancy profession. IPSAS is therefore, seen as the latest attempt to inject transparency and uniformity into financial reporting but how did it all start and is Nigeria ready to adopt the IPSAS?.
At the inauguration of the implementation committee on the application of IPSAS in September 2013, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced that effective from the 2014 fiscal year, its national budget would be based on the new National Chart of Accounts (COA) strategy 3. The Accountant General of the Federation who made the statement said the new strategy would assist in achieving uniformity, transparency and accountability in Public Financial Management in the three tiers of government in the country. The new strategy he said would help government in the implementation of the IPSAS Cash by 2014 and IPSAS Accrual Basis by 2016.
The Office of Accountant General of the Federation of Nigeria said in September 2013, that States Accountant-Generals and Directors of Finance and Accounts/Treasury at Local Government Councils are to commence the implementation of the provisions of IPSAS and keep their books of account in accordance with the new Chart of Accounts (COA) and the General Purpose Financial Principles (GPFS) formats. This article examines whether or not Nigeria is ready to adopt IPSAS Cash Basis of reporting in 2014.
The first meeting of the Steering Group of the International Task Force on Harmonization of Public Sector Accounting (TFHPSA) took place at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Headquarters in Paris on 3 October 2003. The meeting was attended by representatives of Australia, United Kingdom, European Central Bank, Eurostat, IMF, OECD and the International Federation of Accountants-Public Sector Committee (IFAC-PSC). Apologies were received from the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) 4.
The objective of the TFHPSA was to study the feasibility of harmonization between the different International government accounting and statistical standards. These include the 1993 System of National Accounts (SNA), the 1995 European System of Accounts (ESA), the Government Finance Statistics Manuel (GFSM2001), the International Accounting Standards (IAS) / International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
The aim was to improve the quality of general purpose financial reporting by public sector entities, leading ultimately to better informed assessments of the resources allocation decisions made by governments, increase transparency and accountability in the budgeting process in the country.
Table 1: The following pioneer intergovernmental organizations adopted IPSAS in the years shown:
|Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)||2000|
|European Communities (EC)||2005|
|Council of Europe (CoE)||2007|
|International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)||2007|
|Common Wealth Secretariat||2008|
|North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)||2008|
|United Nations (UN)||2010|
|European Space Agency (ESA)||2010|
The adoption of IPSAS in different jurisdiction of the world came with some unique challenges. The IPSAS concept was not fully embraced by stakeholders such as Legislators, Audit Offices, Treasury, Government Agencies, and Development Partners. Inconsistency with existing national laws delayed implementation as laws have to be amended to give legal framework for adoption of IPSAS. IPSAS came with the imperative for change in orientation and mind set.
Certain public officers resisted the change due to lack of will to make well the ills of the previous eras or the general preference for comfort zones. Cost considerations were also a major obstacle. Competency level of the project members and of the level of sophistication of the existing systems were additional factors. The public sector generally lacks the ability to attract and retain staff with the relevant skills and experiences.
In 2001, the acronym BRIC entered the popular vocabulary to recognise the burgeoning potential of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Nigeria has been identified as one of the four countries to follow Brazil, Russia, India and China onto the list of world economies.
The four countries coined the MINT countries are Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey. In May 2012, The Office of Accountant General of the Federation of Nigeria explained during the workshop that IPSASB standards would build confidence of donor agencies but how does Nigeria compare in this group of MINT in the adoption of IPSAS.
Nigeria appears to be playing catch-up in the adoption of IPSAS compared to the other 3 MINT nations. The plan to move from cash basis to Accrual basis in two years looks too optimistic. Nigeria has some serious internal issues to resolve like perceived embedded corruption, Boko Haram and the Niger Delta lingering questions.
The nation’s general elections due in 2015 may temporarily cause government activities to slow down to a snail speed in 2014 as politicians plot their re-election strategies.
Since 1997, IPSASB has developed and issued a suite of 32 accrual standards and a cash basis standard for countries moving toward full accrual accounting. Governments that report on a cash basis do not account for significant liabilities like pensions and infrastructure development. IPSASB encourages public sector entities to adopt the accrual basis of accounting.
Nigeria’s Readiness for Cash Basis IPSAS in 2014
IPSASB acknowledges that ‘in many developing countries, the capacity among the accounting staff is not sufficient to fully implement the IPSAS, the data collection procedures are not adequately identified to collect the necessary data or the software is not sophisticated enough to handle the various financial transactions’. IPSAS has compiled 6 stages to IPSAS adoption from preparation to Whole of Government Reporting. Nigeria has declared it will adopt the IPSAS Cash Basis reporting in 2014. How does the nation’s steps taken so far compare with IPSAS guide?
Nigeria appears to be on the road to adopting Cash Basis IPSAS. However, systems and training on their own are not enough to ensure sound economic management or sustained financial accountability and transparency in managing public finances. There must be a change in citizen’s mindset set that it is not cool to misuse or divert public resources to personal benefits with impunity. Citizens must see it as a duty to abide by the highest standards of probity in dealing with financial issues.
This can be facilitated by ensuring everyone is clear about the standards to which they are working and the controls that are in place to guarantee standards are met. Standards and controls must be reviewed regularly to ensure a fit for purpose.
The following financial measures are recommended as a start:
Link progress or actual results with budget release. The three tiers of Government should not present to the relevant parliament, budgets for approval unless it is accompanied by a retrospective review of measurable goals, results and outputs.
All budget requests from spending units (Ministries, Parastatals etc) should only be approved if it contains detailed retrospective and prospective quantitative reports and measurable goals.
In any year, expenditure by a spending unit outside its approved budget must not be approved without detailed report on the reasons for the out of budget expenditure.
Severe sanctions should be rained down on spending units or persons authorising non-budgeted expenditure.
Strengthen the expenditure-monitoring framework through robust written guidance and internal control procedure.
Some of these issues may require changes in legislation but above all, a change in the mindset of all in positions of authority, leadership or trust is precondition.
Omusa Baba Ohyoma BA(Hons), MBA, FCCA, ACA is Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) UK District, Financial Secretary of the Nigerians in Diaspora Europe (NIDOE) UK South and founding member/former Vice Chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK).
3 Premium times, 19 September edition
4 TFHPSA Steering Group minutes, 3rd October 2013.
5 Deloitte IFRS Watch issue 5
In January 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced a policy on cash-based transactions in Lagos (Cash-less Lagos) which levies ‘cash handling charge’ on daily cash withdrawals or cash deposits that exceed N0.5m for Individuals and N3m for Corporate bodies. Banks can no longer offer cash-in-transit lodgement and cash evacuation services to customers or merchants.
Third party cheques above N150K shall no longer be eligible for encashment over the counter. Such cheques shall only be received through lodgements into customer’s account. The charges kicked in on 30 March 2012 after a 3 month cooling off period. The policy was extended to Abuja, the Federal capital and five other states, namely Abia, Anambra, Kano, Ogun and Rivers on 1st July 2013 after the CBN declared the pilot in Lagos State a success.
Nigeria is primarily a cash economy. This article evaluates CBN’s cash-less policy, its implementation, relevance and effectiveness in the context of Nigerian society and psyche and the potential benefits and challenges of the cash-less policy on the cash-poor or largely ‘cashless’ Nigerians.
The Cash-less Policy
The policy on withdrawals & deposits in banks is aimed at reducing the amount of physical cash and encouraging more electronic-based transactions in payments for goods, services and funds transfers.
According to the CBN, the policy was introduced for a number of key reasons:
1. Development and modernise Nigeria payment system in line with the goal of being amongst the top 20 (world) economies by the year 2020. This it says would enable economic growth.
2. To reduce the cost of banking services (including cost of credit) and drive financial inclusion by providing more efficient transaction options and greater reach.
3. To improve the effectiveness of monetary policy in managing inflation and driving economic growth.
4. Curb some of the negative consequences associated with the high usage of physical cash in the economy, including volume cash handling, encouragement of robberies and financial loss in the case of fire and flooding incidents. Also reduces cash usage of money outside the formal economy which the CBN says limits the effectiveness of monetary policy in managing inflation and encouraging economic growth. Furthermore, that high cash usage aids corruption, leakages and money laundering.
Expected Benefits Of The New Cash Policy
In the eyes of the CBN, beneficiaries of e-payment can be grouped into 3 categories called stakeholders:
1. Consumers – Increased convenience, more service options, reduced risk of cash-related crimes, cheaper access to (out-of-branch) banking services and access to credit.
2. Corporations – faster access to capital, reduced revenue leakage, and reduced cash handling costs.
3. Government – Increased tax collections, greater financial inclusion and increased economic development.
The CBN believes the policy was a success in Lagos and so decided to extend the policy to few other parts of the Country. CBN said the volume of raw cash in circulation dropped by 10.7 per cent in January 2013 to N1.457 trillion, in contrast to an increase of 4.2 per cent at the end of December 2012. The development, according to the January Economic Report of the CBN, reflected the 11.2 per cent decline in amount of currency outside banks.
The extension to other parts of the country has generated mixed feelings. In Ogun state, the closest state to Lagos where the pilot scheme took off, while some residents of the state laud the policy of the Central Bank, others maintained that the state lacks the infrastructure and enlightenment it takes to implement such a policy.
A Cashless society is that in which purchases of goods or services are made by debit or credit card or electronic funds transfer rather than with cash or cheques. A cashless economy is one that allows for little or very low cash flow in a given society, thus every other purchases and transactions will be made by electronic channels, examples of which are direct debit, electronic funds transfer, mobile payments, multi-functional Automated Teller Machines, internet banking and a significant increase in point of sale (POS) penetration and usage.
According to Global Researchiv, it was announced at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa that MasterCard and the Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) under the government of Nigeria would form a partnership to distribute a new identity card to every Nigerian citizen.
The purpose of the card is to have all Nigerian citizens participate in the financial services sector under the control of MasterCard, a multinational financial services corporation headquartered in New York, USA. ‘MasterCard is to Power Nigerian Identity Card Program’.
As part of the program, in its first phase, Nigerians 16 years and older, and all residents in the country for more than two years, will get the new multipurpose identity card which has 13 applications including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology that will provide cardholders with the safety, convenience and reliability of electronic payments.
The program could move Nigeria into a cash-less society and enable economic growth and create a more financially inclusive economy but at what cost?. At its current level of development, would Nigeria be placing its destiny in the hands of a multinational headquartered in a foreign land? In advanced cash-less societies, the provision of facilities is not in the control of any single organisation. Why should Nigeria? Nigeria may be trying to walk before it can crawl or putting the cart before the horse on cashless society.
Implementation of CBN Cash-less policy
Globally, implementation has been bolstered, mainly by proper regulations, infrastructure upgrade and security networks, especially in advanced nations. The CBN stressed among other things, the need to provide financial inclusion for the over 80 million Nigerians who have never owned bank accounts before and to reduce huge cash handling by making e-payment channels available were the major thrust of the initiative. CBN contents full implemented should ultimately shift Nigeria to a cashless society in the 21st century knowledge economy (BTXperts).
The CBN ran a set of targeted stakeholder engagement sessions as a first stage of its planned communication campaign, targeting key groups that will be most impacted by the cash policy, with the objective of creating awareness and providing opportunity for them to raise issues and concerns (CBN). Stakeholders followed by Mass communication campaign.
Hiccups were reported, including tariff structure imposed by the Nigerian Customs Service on the imported POS terminals which CBN considered was on the high side. CBN deputy governor informed that in a bid to meet the objective of deploying 40,000 POS in preparation for the January take-off However, In June 2013, House of Representatives observed that CBN has not achieved the needed 40 percent expansion of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale, mobile banking and other medium even in the urban areas.
Relevance and effectiveness in the context of Nigeria
Developed economies like USA and Europe or emerging markets like Brazil have in-country developed and maintained structures supporting own cash-less economy but “when you a have a powerful financial institution issuing payments electronically (MasterCard) that is under the control of a foreign government (USA), the control of Nigerian government, citizens and economy by a foreign power becomes inevitable”. Point of Sale (POS) terminals and other equipments to implement the policy will be imported.
Cash-less economy has its downside. It is not by coincidence that African economies are enjoying double-digit growth at a time when most developed economies are having to cope with economic downturn. Cash-less economies could and do become overheated from too much reliance on credits.
The readiness of Nigeria as cash-less Society In June 2013, the House of Representatives, directed the CBN to implement its ongoing cashless policy in stages, moving from cash-based to cash-less and then cashlessv. According to the lawmakers, this has become imperative because the required technical and financial infrastructure needed to drive the policy is not yet in place in the country.
The member leading the debate (Hon Dogara), argued that the cashless policy as being practiced in Nigeria has possible implication of cost saving in the financial sector but does not necessarily imply real sector growth and does not have human development as a focus of an economic development. He expressed concern that the financial infrastructure in the country is grossly inadequate to carry the demands of a cashless society.
The members believe that the issue is further compounded by the fact that the CBN has not achieved the needed 40 percent expansion of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale, mobile banking and other medium even in the urban areas. Members were “worried about the absence of the required technological investment to prevent operational disruptions and the manpower development necessary for a cashless society” Some argued that large parts of their constituencies are not connected to the national grid and that Nigeria lacks the capacity to fight internet fraud, which has become so rampant and thousands of Nigerians have lost huge sums of money through ATM and internet related crimes.
The CBN itself is worried about the level of dud (bounced) cheques to the extent that it issued directives. In a circular FPR/DIR/CIR/GEN/03/005 dated 5 July 2013, CBN directed all Banks to advise all customers against issuing Dud Cheques to 3rd parties against unfunded account. CBN says the volume of dishonoured cheques in the financial system is on the increase and has shown no signs of declining.
This results in low confidence in the acceptance of cheques and adversely affects the cash-light policy aimed at reducing the volume of cash based transactions in Nigeria. Banks are to identify customers who have issued dud cheques on 3 instances with effect from 5th of July 2013 for forwarding to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) via CBN for further investigation. Issuing bounced cheque in Nigeria is a crime under the Dishonoured Cheques (Offences) Act.
The Realities of a Cash-less society in the context of Nigeria
There are inherent challenges facing implementation of the CBN policy (Odior 2012). They concluded that the policy is as beautiful as it faces great challenges. A few of these inherent challenges they say are:
1. Infrastructure deficit – the financial infrastructure in Nigeria is not adequate to carry the load of a cashless society. ATM’s, Point of Sales system, mobile banking and other mediums have to dramatically expand to at least 40% of the economy before meaningful effect can be achieved.
2. Power – power must be improved dramatically to accommodate for smooth operations of financial activities.
3. Prevalence of e-fraud/Consumer Protection – if the process is rushed and the economy losses confidence in the system due to high level of fraudulent activities, it will be devastating to the Nigeria economy.
4. Literacy Levels (“Numeracy” versus literacy) – literacy rate in Nigeria is still very low and people prefer to keep their money at home, especially where the nearest bank is more than a day’s journey.
5. Religious beliefs – Some Nigerians may not fully embrace the cash-less society due to psychological and religious belief.
6. Availability of real data – Proper and accurate identification of account holders must be maintained and shared when necessary by all financial institutions.
7. Investments – CBN must be ready to invest heavily to make these transitions possible.
8. Security – CBN must partner and work with the National Assembly and enforcement agencies to ensure proper legislation is formulated and implemented.
9. Communications – ability to guarantee network availability and quality at all times.
10. Lack of Trust and the Bounced-Cheque Syndrome – trust is lacking in Nigeria‘s business environment. As a result, business operatives believe in cash and shun use of Cheques.
There is no stopping the evolution to a cashless society. It will be a convergence of the internet, credit/ debit cards, PayPal, Smartphone and other emerging e-payment systems. The proponents of e-payments say these will eventually say good bye to cash and consign it to the dustbin of history.
The aim of the CBN cash-less policy is threefold, to reduce the use of cash, to achieve financial inclusion and help in achieving Vision 20:2020. The benefits of cashless banking policy are enormous but it must be anchored on well resourced and functioning infrastructural facilities for the country to achieve a sustained financial and socially desirable effects on the economy. Nigeria does not yet have adequate system to support the policy. Power is sporadic and non-existent in a majority of cases and we generally have bastardise mindset on financial impropriety.
Telephone subscription rate is 1 per 100 and the Internet host is 936 (2010 estimate) with country’s comparison position to the world is 172. Policy of rural banking embarked in the past was not successful even though the major cities are overbanked, rural areas are still under-banked (CIA YearBook 2013).
Implementation should not be rushed but introduced in phases. It will be catastrophic if the process is rushed and confidence in the system is lost due to high level of fraudulent activities. No economy in the world is cashless and Nigeria would be making a mistake to think it can achieve a cashless status economy overnight.
The gradual phase should be from cash economy to cash-less and then to cashless. The timing of the phases should not be driven by political dogma but based on realistic frequent evaluation and assessment of the country’s readiness in terms of adequate infrastructure etc. “There are still many challenges, ranging from Broadband Infrastructure, Human Skill Capacities, Call-centre Backbone, Consumers profile data, Data Protection as well as security that is needed to be put in place.”
It is recommended that the CBN reviews its deposit charging policy. Lateef Kazeemix argues that while customers’ withdrawal above certain limit should be charged in order to discourage withdrawal of cash, he contends that CBN should encourage the almost 70 per cent un-banked Nigerian population into the formal banking system and not penalising them with deposit charges. Discouraging cash deposit with penalties will have the opposite effects of reducing cash in the economy.
Omusa Baba Ohyoma BA(Hons), MBA, FCCA, ACA is Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) UK District, Financial Secretary of the Nigerians in Diaspora Europe (NIDOE) UK South and founding member/former Vice Chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK).
i CBN website, ‘Further Clarifications On Cash-Less Lagos Project’
ii The Leadership Newspaper, 7th July 2013.
iii BTXperts, Consulting, Automation, Cloud and web solutions
iv Article by Timothy Alexander Guzman published in Global Research, 16 May 2013
v THE WILL Newspaper, 27 June 2013.
vi CASHLESS BANKING IN NIGERIA: CHALLENGES, BENEFITS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS by Ernest Simeon Odior, PhD
and Fadiya Bamidele Banuso, both of the University of Lagos (European Scientific Journal, volume 8, No. 12 (2012)
viii BTXperts/Nigeria Guardian Newspaper.
ix Why deposits into bank accounts should not be charged, article published in Nigeria Punch 5 January 2012
he economic quagmire in Nigeria is for
government to stop depending solely on oil and focus on other economic ventures especially agriculture.
He noted that the oil and other mineral resources the country is endowed with, rather than be a blessing have turned the people to a bunch of lazy people who mostly depend on the oil revenue for development rather than exploiting other avenues.
Soludo, who was the guest lecturer at the Niger State inauguration lecture with the theme, “Towards the economic transformation and fiscal viability of Nigerian states” to usher in the second term of Governor Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu, said: “oil money, rather than being a blessing, has been a product for laziness where governors and the people of their respective states expect free money to execute their programmes.”
“We have depended on oil for fifty years, i.e since independence, and this has not taken us anywhere and it is not likely to take us anywhere as long as we rely solely on this and this is why we have to plan for the next fifty years outside oil if we want to survive as a nation”, the former CBN governor declared.
He called on all state governors to exploit the resources in their states by tapping them and utilizing them for rapid transformation rather than wait patiently for the federal allocation to carry out their projects.
Rev. Matthew Hassan Kuka, who was one of the discussants, noted that the country is in its precarious situation because most of our leaders cannot correct the wrong doings in the society because they are also involved in them.
Hamman Tukur, in his own contribution, noted that the ultimate of any government is on now to get money to impact on the lives of the electorate, pointing out that out of insufficiency, it may be difficult for such leader to save for the future as advised by Soludo.
The last discussant, Alhaji Suleyman Ndanusa, emphasised on values in the society which, he said, the present leaders should use in governing the country.