UBA Foundation Signals Beginning Of Yuletide Season, Lights Up Marina

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has kicked off the beginning of the yuletide season in a grand ceremony marked with fireworks and melodious Christmas carols.

The ceremony attended by staff, customers and members of the  general public was held at the well decorated UBA Foundation Garden in Marina, Lagos.

Through its corporate social responsibility arm UBA Foundation, the bank marked the start of a fun-filled festive season that will bring lots of cheer and touch the lives of its customers and the individuals around the communities where it operates.

The bank celebrated the UBA Foundation Garden Light Up Ceremony and Carol evening on Tuesday, where staff and customers alike joined in to spread hope and sing carols to usher in the Christmas and end of the year season.

At the ceremony, UBA’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Oliver Alawuba, was joined by other management staff to officially light up the Head office and the UBA Foundation Garden, which according to him, signifies how the bank has been bringing light to the lives of the people and communities around it.

He said, “We are here to officially light up the season and as you know, UBA has been the light in the financial sector on the continent and beyond. Going by our performance and we will continue to ensure that we spread light and joy wherever we go. This is very symbolic for us all, and we want to take time to appreciate the staff and customers who have made us achieve great things this year. At UBA, we are all about spreading love and giving hope.”

The Light-Up ceremony featured Christmas carols renditions by UBA’s Customer Fulfilment Centre Choir, a fun-filled guided tour around the beautiful UBA Foundation Garden and lots to eat and drink for every-one present. 

UBA’s Group Head Marketing and Corporate Communications, while talking on the essence of the annual event, said, “UBA is a bank that values its environment and as an organisation that is corporately responsible, we have taken it upon ourselves to beautify our environment and add colour, especially as the year comes to an end.”

Continuing, she said, “We want to let them know that all lives matter. I hope that as always, we will be able to make many smile and give a glimmer of hope during a special season like this.”

UBA Foundation, the CSR arm of the UBA Group, is committed to the socio-economic betterment of the communities in which the bank operates, focusing on development in the areas of Education, Environment, Economic Empowerment and Special Projects.

Access Bank Hosts Grand Launch of Justice Amina Augie’s Book

L-R: Oba Otudeko, Chairman, Honeywell Group; Tony Elumelu, Chairman/Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation; Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings PLC; Honourable Justice Amina Augie, JSC (Rtd); His Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, and Senator Daisy Danjuma, Executive Vice Chairman, Sapetro, at the public presentation and launch of the book, ‘Wisdom and Integrity: The Legacy of Honourable Justice Amina Adamu Augie JSC CON Through Her Judgement’, held in Lagos.

Access Bank PLC, in a momentous event on Tuesday, November 28, hosted the public presentation and launch of the two-volume book, ‘Wisdom and Integrity: The Legacy of Honourable Justice Amina Adamu Augie JSC CON Through Her Judgements’. The distinguished gathering took place at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

This landmark publication serves as a testament to the illustrious career of Honourable Justice Amina AugieCFR, JSC(Rtd) who has made profound contributions to the jurisprudence and evolution of law in Nigeria. Her Lordship’s unwavering commitment to justice and the rule of law has earned her the deep reverence and profound admiration of her peers and colleagues.

The book, meticulously compiled to commemorate the Jurist’s retirement from the Bench upon reaching the constitutional retirement age of 70 years, is a compilation of some of her Lordship’s landmark judgments. These judgments, spanning several decades, have significantly contributed to the development of judicial precedents in diverse areas of the law.

Speaking on Access Bank’s backing of the publication, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings PLC, Herbert Wigwe, said: 

“We are proud to support the launch of ‘Wisdom and Integrity: The Legacy of Honourable Justice Amina Adamu Augie JSC CON Through Her Judgements’, as her Lordship’s unwavering commitment to fairness and the rule of law aligns seamlessly with our values as an institution. This book not only commemorates an illustrious legal career but also contributes significantly to the preservation and advancement of our judicial heritage. Through our support, we reaffirm our dedication to initiatives that promote knowledge, integrity, and the enduring legacy of excellence in the legal profession.”

In her remarks, the author, Honourable Justice Augie CFR, JSC(Rtd), expressed delight at the support of the various stakeholders present and charged the legal practitioners present on being incorruptible in the face of considerable malignment.

“I am truly delighted and immensely grateful for the overwhelming support from the distinguished stakeholders present at today’s event. Indeed, this outpouring of love underscores the positive legacy I was able to establish through my years of practise. To my fellow legal practitioners, I extend a heartfelt charge to remain steadfast and incorruptible in the face of any adversity. In a world that sometimes challenges the very principles we uphold, let us stand unwavering in our commitment to justice, integrity, and the noble pursuit of upholding the rule of law. Together, we can ensure that the flame of justice continues to burn brightly for generations to come.”

L-R: Tony Elumelu Chairman/Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation; Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings PLC; Honourable Justice Amina Augie, JSC (Rtd); His Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, during the public presentation and launch of the book, ‘Wisdom and Integrity: The Legacy of Honourable Justice Amina Adamu Augie JSC CON Through Her Judgement’, held in Lagos.
The book reviewer, Professor Fabian Ajogwu OFR, SAN, provided insightful commentary, acknowledging the immense impact of her Lordship’ judgments on the legal landscape.

Chaired by His Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, CFR, MNI, Obi of Onitsha, the launch event had in attendance, distinguished guests from the legal and academic communities, as well as representatives from various public and private agencies.

The attendees included His Royal Majesty, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Group CEO, Access Holdings PLC, Herbert Wigwe; Chairman, Access Bank PLC, Paul Usoro SAN; Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi SAN; Chieftain of the Peoples’Democratic Party, Chief Olabode George; Principal Partner, Alegeh & Co, Augustine Alegeh SAN; Principal Partner, Kenna Partners, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu OFR, SAN; Executive Vice Chairman, Sapetro, Senator Daisy Danjuma; Attorney General of Kano, Haruna Isa Dederi; former Ambassador of Nigeria to Brazil, Amb. Chris Okeke; Chairman Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko; Chairman, Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), Ahonsi Unuigbe; Managing Director, Coronation Asset Management, Aigbovbioise Aig-Imoukhuede, and more.

Justice Amina Augie’s remarkable journey in the legal profession began in 1978, and her career has been marked by determination, perseverance, and integrity. From serving as a Legal Aid Counsel to her elevation as a Justice of the Supreme Court in 2016, her contributions have extended beyond the bench. She has been a passionate teacher, mentor, and advocate for human rights, focusing on women and children.

As a devoted public servant, Justice Amina Augie CFR JSC(Rtd) has chaired several tribunals, served on numerous boards and colloquia on human rights globally, and received prestigious awards and recognitions.

Akeem Lasisi Speaks On His Vision For African Citations Poetry Exhibition

Multitalented artist, Akeem Lasisi, has said that his vision for African Citations, an exhibition of poetic tributes he is holding on December 10, has the potential to expand horizon for the genre.

According to him, it will connect poetry with newer audiences.

African Citations, which will hold at the MUSON Centre, Lagos, will present poetic tributes to outstanding personalities – individuals and institutions – across Africa. These will come in the forms of poems on frames, musical and video presentations as well as live performances.

“As I have always tried to do, I want poetry to travel beyond the confines of poets and other intellectuals. I want more people to have access to it, enjoy its beauty, own it and contribute to its expansion,” Lasisi says in a chat with co-traveller in the arts, Ropo Ewenla.

He adds that he foresees a situation more people will embrace the performative potential of poetry, noting that African poetry is originally spontaneous, oral and people-oriented.

Lasisi says, “As the world particularly radically goes digital, we have no excuse not deploying all the elements that technology offers to the promotion of our craft. I have been doing this even before this era. Now that the industries are becoming more and more linked, it may just be a time to further navigate the links.

“Besides, I have had encounters with many people and organisations in the course of my about 30 decades of my performances, journalism and teaching adventures. I have performed poetry at many events. I have been commissioned to produce multimedia poetry while I have had cause to admire folks from a distance based on various factors. Some of these have been produced into musical poetry and videos. They have been on air, online etc. Now, the experimentation will berth in a gallery setting so that it becomes more total.”

LIRS Announces Deployment of Upgraded Revenue Collection Process for Hospitality Sector in Lagos State

The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has announced the immediate deployment of an upgraded process for the collection of Hotel Occupancy and Restaurants Consumption Tax (HORCT) in Lagos State.

The Executive Chairman of the LIRS; Ayodele Subair, in a public notice directed at members of the public, operators and owners of hotels, event centres, restaurants, bars, and other related facilities in Lagos State said the new collection process called the Eco Fiscal System (EFS) is an automated invoicing solution, designed to revolutionize the collection of consumption taxes in Lagos State.

He stated that the EFS evolution is in furtherance of LIRS’ commitment to building convenience into the payment of taxes and easing compliance with tax laws.

“This technological advancement marks a significant leap in our continuous efforts to enhance revenue collection, streamline processes, and improve efficiency in tax administration. It simplifies compliance and improves accuracy”.

Traditionally, HORCT collection has been a tedious task for operators in the past, the manual process often led to errors, penalties and increased costs. However, with LIRS’ cutting-edge software, businesses can now automate and digitize their invoicing and collection processes. Built with operators in this sector in mind, EFS offers real-time online consumption tax billing, collection monitoring, and instant issuance of receipts with a unique invoice number. It also reduces compliance costs, facilitates easy administration and reconciliation for HORCT collections, and fosters transparency.

Mr. Subair affirmed that by adopting the EFS, businesses can ensure accurate calculations, eliminating the risk of mistakes associated with manual data entry. The system automatically applies relevant tax rates, saving businesses valuable time and resources. He added that the software provides secure and efficient record-keeping, simplifying audits and minimizing compliance risks.

“Our goal is to empower businesses with innovative solutions that enhance their operational efficiency and minimize compliance challenges. Businesses can focus on their core operations, leaving the complex task of tax compliance to our reliable and automated system.”

He enjoined all operators in the hospitality sector to adopt the Eco Fiscal System (EFS), emphasizing that operations on the system become effective IMMEDIATELY and Failure to comply is a contravention of the provisions in Sections 7(1), 8 and 9 of the Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Fiscalization Regulation 2017 which attracts penalties as stipulated in Sections 11(2) of the HORC Law 2009.

Subair reiterated that EFS is compatible with various e-commerce platforms and can seamlessly integrate with existing accounting systems, ensuring a smooth implementation process. He promised that LIRS officials would be visiting establishments in the hospitality industry, to integrate the software with existing systems and provide necessary assistance for a seamless transition to the EFS platform.

“For further enquiries, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the LIRS website: www.lirs.gov.ng  or call the customer service hotline on 0700 2255 5477”.

BridgeAfric Launched In Lagos As Stakeholders Advocate Collaboration In Africa’s Creative Industry

With an unwavering commitment to providing investment opportunities to African artistes through tours, live music events, concerts and talent management, a new Pan-African platform, BridgeAfric, has been launched in Lagos, Nigeria.

The exciting grand event took place at the prestigious Alliance Francais in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, with the European launch scheduled for January 31, 2024, in the enchanting city of Paris, France.

The event, moderated by Ma et Mota (twins) from Senegal and OTB from Nigeria, brought together music professionals, top-tier corporate executives, African artistes, music and entertainment stakeholders, celebrities, corporate executives, and local and international media across the African continent to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the creative industry and to explore ways to support its growth.

The BridgeAfric President, Victoria Nkong, who is also one of AFRIMA’s associate producers, described BridgeAfric’s birth as a revolutionary initiative that would bring stakeholders together to share ideas and build networks that can drive the development of Africa’s creative industry.

She said BridgeAfric is here to support African talents and market, promote, and distribute African music in territories where a majority of music consumers have and previously haven’t interacted with African music resulting in African artists drawing in countless new fans every day.

Beyond the beat, she noted that BridgeAfric provides platform for artists to make money, showcase their music and reach a wider audience, while also offering a range of business opportunities, such as ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandising.

An elated Nkong noted, “Given the vastness of the African continent and challenges enumerated, our objective is to facilitate collaborations and partnerships among African artists and between African artistes and Western superstars and brands, continually exposing them to new audiences through touring, showcasing, ticketing sales and talent management.”

Speaking on the BridgeAfric’s logo, she said it showcases the African map with dots that indicate connecting the different African countries not only within Africa but within Africa and the world.

She however noted that the logo is still a work in progress as the complete work would be unveiled at the Paris launch early next year.

While unveiling the BridgeAfric’s logo, AFRIMA’s Executive President, Mike Dada, who is also the patron, described Nkong as a very selfless, loyal and committed individual who has always excelled in whatever she does.

The AFRIMA President advised music and creative industry stakeholders to come together in order to consolidate the successes so far. He emphasized the importance of collaboration among different players in the industry, including artists, producers, distributors, and policymakers.

Earlier, during an exciting panel session titled ‘Collaboration As A Tool for Developing Africa’s Creative Industry, featuring Ayo Animashaun, Wendy Harawa from Malawi, Dare Art Alade, Sam Oyemelukwe, St. John Freeman and TG Imorin, the panelists, sharing their concerns about the industry, highlighted the need for partnerships that would help to promote African creativity, improve access to markets, and create a conducive environment for innovation and growth.

In his own submission, Ayo Animashaun, media entrepreneur, CEO, Smooth Promotions and Executive Producer, The Headies, berated those he described as reaping off artistes as he submitted that any industry that’s not supported by the government will suffer great consequences.

To Dare Art Alade, a Nigerian multi-platinum Afro R&B singer, songwriter and record producer, popularly known as Darey, “We must collaborate with the corporate organisations.  Our artistes are vibrant, they are kind of open. But most artistes don’t understand how to make money back. They just want to enjoy themselves and perform on the biggest stages.”

Wendy, an artiste, promoter and talent manager from Malawi, described the BridgeAfric as a platform meant to bridge the gap among African artistes. She said, “I believe BridgeAfric is the bridge we have been waiting for. when you collaborate, you increase your network and fan base.”

In his own submission, former Lagos state commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde described the BridgeAfric initiative as a welcome development as he noted that while AFRIMA has always been coming out with very rich discourses at its annual Business Music Summit, the BridgeAfric would serve as another level of engagement.

With attendees buzzing with excitement about the possibilities that the new platform could bring to the African business landscape, it was clear that BridgeAfric had made a significant impact with its launch in Lagos, and the future looked bright for the platform.

Spicing up the evening with electric performances were talented French-Congolese, Hiro; Tanya (Burkina Faso) Eltee (Nigeria), Lulu (Malawi); and DJ Humility (Nigeria) among others. They brought energy and excitement to the stage with their dynamic performances.

Top dignitaries that graced the grand evening event included PMAN President, Pretty Okafor, Kenny Ogungbe, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Japaul Oil & Maritime Services Plc, Akinloye Oladapo, Emeka Onwumere, Adaora Alumina Mbelu, Karishma, Harrisong, Nigerian media personality, Olisa Adibua, among others.

Atiku: A Man For All Seasons

By Phrank Shaibu

Champions are made from something they have deep inside of them – a desire, a dream, a vision, says the great Mahatma Gandhi. This typifies clearly the life and times of Waziri Atiku Abubakar, who, despite the odds against him from early childhood, overcame all the hurdles and vicissitudes of life.

Born on November 25, 1946, to the family of Garba Abubakar – a Fulani trader and farmer – Atiku was the only child as his sister died at infancy. Before adolescence, his father died by drowning while crossing a river to Toungo, a neighbouring village in Jada. He was thus raised by his widowed mother, Aisha Kande, and his maternal relatives. As the man of the house, he did menial jobs while also schooling at the same time to provide for the family. He was a herder, a trader, and a farmer.

Of course, his life changed when he joined the Nigeria Customs Service in 1969 and quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the most senior officers within just 17 years of service. And through it all, Atiku never forgot his humble beginnings. This is one of the reasons he has continued to support several causes and foundations and has awarded dozens of scholarships to indigent students so that they can also have a chance of a bright future.

In the late 80s, he joined partisan politics even though he did not need to having fulfilled his immediate dream of lifting his family out of poverty. But out of this burning desire to lift millions more out of poverty so that they could achieve the Nigerian dream just like he had achieved his, he decided to join partisan politics. Despite winning the governorship election of Adamawa State back in 1991, his victory was questionably annulled by the powers that be.

He contested the presidential primary of the Social Democratic Party and lost. But he soldiered on. Even though he was not directly affected by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election since he was not on the ballot, he put everything he had on the line in order to fight for democracy and was almost killed by Abacha’s goons in the mid 90s. Despite getting his fingers burnt in politics, he decided to contest again in 1999 for governor of Adamawa State and won. But he was picked as running mate to General Olusegun Obasanjo and subsequently became Vice President.

As Vice President, he fought against attempts to amend the constitution and extend the tenure of executive office holders even though he could have been a beneficiary of such a move. By this move, he played a role in not just entrenching democracy but preventing Nigeria from becoming a failing state like some African countries that have removed term limits for their heads of state.

During his trying days as Vice President, his official privileges were revoked by the powers that be. But this did not stop the Waziri from paying salaries and allowances of his personal aides. He continued to look after them and tried as much as possible to shield them from persecution.

Many in government today are products of Atiku’s benevolence, including some in the country’s ruling party today who have gone on to become senators and governors. Simply put, he is a leader amongst leaders.

He also believes in the power of education as a liberating force for the individual and the country. He often says that education gave him all the advantages he had and that he will also stop at nothing to make sure that quality education becomes a priority in Nigeria. Atiku, also, is a deliberate educationist

As a family man, he is almost immaculate. His belief about family is that discipline should be the watchword. His children, of course, are well educated, and he enjoins them to be good ambassadors of the family who must not be associated with any immoral conduct that will tarnish the family name.

As a principal, I say without hesitation that Atiku Abubakar is a father figure. He is compassionate and humane. He is affectionate, too. It is almost impossible to be around him and not feel the energy of the goodness of his character.

He is also a deliberate politician. He sees political power as an instrument to create a progressive society. He is very deliberate about everything he does and takes time out to reach out to associates in their great moments and sad ones

Atiku has made several unsuccessful attempts at the presidency, which have cost him money and comforts but he continues to do so in the service of motherland.

He has made mistakes but has also been a victim of the fraudulent nature of Nigeria’s elections and the judicial malpractice associated with election cases. Despite his string of defeats, not a single life has been lost on his account. This is because he continues to have faith in Nigeria and its people and also believes that his ambition to serve the people of Nigeria cannot be done at the expense of human life.

This cannot be said of other politicians who have promoted violence because of electoral defeat. For some, Atiku’s many attempts at the number one seat in Nigeria smacks of desperation. They think he should remain a private businessman and retire from politics. He may not have succeeded at becoming president, but he has tried and has done so for the most altruistic of reasons.

Some had even argued that he should not have challenged the result of the presidential election in such a vociferous manner but congratulated the winner of the fraudulent election so that he could continue to enjoy government patronage. But he stood his ground and pursued the truth and made sure that Nigerians knew it. This is the height of bravery even though our courts decided to dwell on technicalities rather than substantial justice.

There are no regrets whatsoever. Because as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. If he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Without a doubt, the story of Atiku Abubakar is one of victory, success, and beating the odds. It’s about a man who was dealt a bad hand early in life but refused to be limited by his background and rose from the ashes like a phoenix. It is about a man who, despite his many defeats, has refused to lay flat on the canvas like a defeated boxer but continues to rise every time he falls. He is a man who has lifted others and has continued to trust in humanity despite the many betrayals he has faced.

His, indeed, is a life well spent. It is only fitting to conclude that Atiku Abubakar is a gift to the world. Waziri, your birthday deserves to be a national holiday,
because you are a special treasure
for all that you’ve done.
May the love you have shown to others
return to you in manifold measures.
I wish you the happiest of birthdays, Your Excellency

*Phrank Shaibu is Special Assistant on Public Communication to Atiku Abubakar

Dangote, BUA’s Destructive Trade War

By Festus Adedayo

Yes, it is a season of claims and counter-claims. Yet, cost of living is hitting the roof. Hunger is pelting the bellies of both the righteous and the infidel. Living life is almost becoming a rocket science. Charles Soludo, luxuriating in public acclamation of “one of the most cerebral Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governors,” is in his season of pontificating. Last week, he offered an escapist defence of the Nigerian establishment which citizens’ hunger could not penetrate. Soludo’s latest proffer for the people’s hunger is that the current government met a dead economy; a dead horse was his exact word. Permit me to extend that logic by borrowing British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s “just let people die,” and ask Soludo, “so let Nigerians die” because the economy inherited was a dead horse? Or, what is the final destination of that argument? There have since been attempts at economic necromancy. Every attempt must be made to make this economy’s corpse walk.

That is however not the drift of this piece. Two octopuses of Nigerian financial ocean are at daggers drawn at the moment and their destructive tiffs are rebounding negatively on the economy. Aliko Dangote of the famous Dangote Group and Abdul Samad Rabiu of BUA, two czars of the largest business entities in Nigeria, are fighting dirty. On the streets, in the courts and in the media, the two blue whales of the Nigerian economy are engaged in an acrimonious rivalry that is unexampled. A few weeks ago, that rivalry landed in the public space like a smelly puddle. The two of them openly washed their dirty linens, linens that had hitherto been wrapped in shawls of hushed whispers.

How does anyone describe this tiff, with its blood-baiting mutual exchange? A business rivalry, peer jealousy or business vulture tendency gone awry? It is a duel that has provoked such self-cancelling ruckus, the type found among co-wives in polygamy. An immediate correlation I can readily find to describe this is an autobiographical movie authored by Oyin Adejobi, late Yoruba cripple thespian. Adejobi was renowned for his famous African alternative dispute resolution drama sketches called Kootu Asipa of the 1980s. In it, he allegorized the story of how he became disabled. In Orogun Adedigba, (the wicked co-wife), Adejobi narrativized how his mother’s jealously wicked co-wife puffed up the fire of a destructive potion that immobilized him for life. That singular malediction became the burden Adejobi shouldered for his 74 years on earth. Though the Osogbo-born thespian’s stepmother’s potion succeeded in crippling him, it couldn’t stop the realization of his life’s attainment. Iconoclastic Yoruba Kennery brand music lord, Orlando Owomoyela (Owo’s) Itan Orogun Meji (the story of two co-wives) also explains the concept of a polygamous home’s squabbles which bear similar indicators to the Dangote and Rabiu self-neutralizing squabble.

Owomoyela, the nonconformist musician’s narrative goes thus: Two co-wives in a traditional African Yoruba home were engaged in spirited scuffles for the heart of their joint household. One day, the eldest wife conspired to kill the son of her co-wife, simply because he was more brilliant than hers. She cooked a portage delicacy served in two different plates. One, which was invitingly reddish and garnished with condiments, was sauced with a killer potion while the second plate, bereft of any poison, was whitish and uninviting. As the children of the two women arrived from school, they headed for the plates of food. While the son of the woman who hewn the death drama picked the reddish but poisoned plate, her stepson picked the one without. The malefactor’s son dies but the co-wife’s immediately went to the local football field and went a-playing football. Owo’s moral in the song is similar to that in Bob Marley’s Small Axe track. They both teach that anyone who contrives calamity for his fellow man can be compared to a man shouldering an army of ants-infested evil faggots which would soon bite them to death. Marley termed such evil-dispenser “whosoever diggeth a pit” who “shall fall in it.”

Attempts have been made to explain the Dangote/Rabiu rivalry and euphemize its deadly portent. In this regard, they say it is nothing outside the rivalries between Coke and Pepsi, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks in America. This drift is expatiated upon by invoking the ghost of Adam Smith in his famous The Wealth of Nations. In it, Smith extolled the importance of competition to the public good and submitted that relentless competition is not only healthy but is a core principle of the market economy.

But what healthy rivalry would make two brothers, from same Kano State, involved in same line of businesses, not work towards to expand the frontiers of their markets but would rather seek their individual mutual destruction? While Dangote Cement is the largest cement product in Nigeria, controlling an over 60% market share, BUA Cement comes second, boasting of a market share of around 20%. Since 2008, the two companies have squared up in a bull’s fight. In the sugar refinery sector, the tango they are engulfed in is a fight of death as well. While Dangote’s sugar refinery, the most humongous in Nigeria, holds a market share of over 70%, BUA’s follows distantly with a market share hovering around 20%. It is this kind of duel you encounter in William Shakespeare plays where two armoured men clank swords in a battle that would only cease when one of them has breathed its last. It was always a duel on issue of honour or betrayal.

It is a common feature in this Dangote/Rabiu Orogun Adedigba tussle to hear of the two businessmen’s serpentine attempts to destroy each other. In 2020 for example, BUA Cement accused Dangote Cement of blocking access to its Edo State limestone quarry. Dangote Sugar Refinery responded to the alleged shenanigan by accusing BUA Sugar Refinery of price-fixing. They are both currently narrating details of these allegations before MiLords. The next year, BUA authored the wolf cry of alleging that Dangote Sugar Refinery had masterminded an attack on its sugar factory in Port Harcourt, Rivers State by sending hired thugs there. It also alleged that these hired hounds destroyed its property and inflicted massive injuries on its workers. Police were called in to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations. Rolled into this are also allegations that one of the two business sharks deployed debilitating political connections and favoritism steeped in graft to be granted waiver on import duties for cement. The ultimate aim, it was alleged, was to aid the stifling of competition.

The most recent of this cache of allegations and counter allegations came out in a press release early this month from Dangote. It accused BUA of masterminding what it called false allegation that it was being probed by the Jim Obazee Special Investigator. It alleged that its rival claimed it was involved in illegal foreign exchange deals and money laundering which allegedly had Godwin Emefiele’s Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as lead actor. In the said press release, the Dangote group decimated these allegations as spurious and a “rehash of a similar report peddled out of malice” since 2016.

BUA’s reply didn’t thaw the ice. It documented what it alleged were a myriad of acts of sabotage authored by Dangote against its operations. It also claimed that Dangote’s allegations were “very cheap attempts at blackmail… following months of sponsored campaigns of calumny against us.” Dangote’s concatenation of treacheries against it, alleged BUA, began from 1991, which later became “a ruse that would lead to a court-sanctioned freeze of our assets,” leading to a situation in which, “for three agonising months, our accounts were garnished, warehouses shuttered, and our spirit tested. Yet, from the ashes of deceit, BUA survived.” It also listed interventions by Late President Umaru Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari whose timely reach prevented the octopodal hands of Dangote from sinking its company. BUA’s song looks very similar to the lyrics of Marley’s Small Axe song: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe/ready to cut you down/And we are gonna cut you down!”

From all the above, it should be clear that what the duo of Dangote and his Kano brother are about is beyond the Adam Smith’s health-inherent competition, nor does it resemble in any way the Coke and Pepsi, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Macdonald’s and Burger King competition. Those American competitions no doubt resembled Smith’s evergreen proffers in the Wealth of Nations. Not this. Many people reason that, buried inside this Dangote/Rabiu quarrel is an age-long particular issue-provoked enmity which the two are probably not ready to disclose to the public.

For Nigerian consumers of the duo’s products, this rivalry has potential benefits. A couple of months ago, BUA announced its intention to reduce the cost of cement to N3,500. Were the two friends, we would not have this people-centric riposte. The reduction in price received applauses all over Nigeria. For a shrewd businessman like Dangote for whom profit is king and not the customer, the BUA price reduction must be a scalpel to a wound. The enmity has continued regardless.

For the sectors where the two of them are major players, this inexplicable enmity has disastrous implications. Association with one must be equal to enmity with the other, an equation that is not healthy for business at all. I learnt that many top brass in the political and business spheres have attempted an armistice between Rabiu and Aliko, without any let. This affirms my earlier submission that the real reason for this rivalry may have been hidden from Nigerians.

No matter how the two business whales play out this squabble in the courts and the media, the street seems to have made up its mind on who to apportion blames. One of them is renowned with an Orogun Adedigba history of vulture-like business practices, seeking to and succeeding in swallowing the carcasses of its competitors. It is a whale that enjoys singular wallow inside the ocean and from the claws of its deadly grips, shrimps that attempted to grow have died premature deaths.

A Requiem For My Mother, By Festus Adedayo

Last Friday, November 24, around 1pm, I was getting pleased with myself for having scaled the hurdle of yet another chapter in a school dissertation I was writing when my phone rang. Before then, I sat cross-legged like someone who had just won tombola, thinking of further routes to take to arrive at the final destination of this academic obsession I wangled myself into. These days, when my younger brother called, I was always seized with trepidation. Thirteen years ago, September, 2010, to be precise, he had similarly called me. It was a dawn call. His wail on the phone ten years ago, I would soon know, would assume a sequential familiarity. He barely got the words through. Barely audible from his wail was the message: Our father, Joseph Adedayo, had just crossed to the other side of the divide. Now, as his call came through on Friday, my heart was in obvious turmoil. My mother, Victoria Ajoke, had been ailing for a while. So, I picked the call. The wailing on the other side was the uncommunicated communication I needed to affirm that I had finally received a pass into the orphanage; my gold had undergone everlasting rust. My brother was crying. I didn’t ask what the matter was. I got the message and ended the call. She was just a mere 77 years old girl.

Since Friday, I have not shed a tear. I have however worn a cloak of melancholy that I cannot explain. Like all mothers, Victoria Ajoke dotted on me, the child who opened her womb. These days, the suffusion of prayers she sprayed on me seemed to announce to me that she was preparing to shed the furs of mortality she wore. Like all mothers, she was excited seeing that little stubborn boy of hers, weaned on the apron of lack, become a man. A few weeks ago when I visited her in our family house at Oke-Ijebu in Akure, Ondo State, as frail and ailing as she was, she had a good laugh as we reminisced in what was going to be our last, on our journey thus far. I told her to get well quick so that I could take her to see a recent story of my life. I was afraid she might not. I remembered that my father too had, a few hours to the ailment that took him, wondered when my PhD defence would be, apparently for him to be the father of a ‘doctor’. Now, my hunch was right.

Some years ago, on a visit to Ilesa, Osun State, I branched at Ayeso barracks, with a friend. I stood in the front of a row of shanties that were the homes of policemen and pointed at one of them. That was where I grew, I announced to my friend. He bluntly told me I was lying. Nine of us, my parents inclusive, lived inside that dinghy cell-like apartment, I said.

While my mother and I reminisced, I reminded her of how far God had taken us. Indeed, like Bob Marley sang in his Talking blues, growing up, cold ground was our bed and rock, our pillow. Victoria Ajoke was a disciplinarian. When I tell my children, who hear Grandma now address me with so much respect, the story of how her lacerating cane wangled through my back, they found it hard to believe. Or, when she discovered I had stolen out of the proceeds of her plastic wares I hawked round Ikirun, Eko-Ende and Inisa those days to buy puff-puff. My cheeks suffered tremendously from her slaps.

She taught me the values I hold sacrosanct today. At dinner, all of us, her children, would circle round our bowl of eba or amala meal. Woe betides whoever picked meat before the end of the meal. She would hit the back of your palm with such ferocity that you wouldn’t feel like eating again and you must not decline to eat further. That was insolence, the penalty of which was another slap. She would announce that you were greedy and a potential thief. Till today, when I sat with a collective to eat from the same plate, I am cheated because Mama taught me that meat eating was the last plate assignment. At dinner, she told us folklores and we loved to listen to the songs she sang to wedge home the morals of the stories. The one I still remember vividly was delivered in our Akure dialect. It was in the early 70s when the military government began executing armed robbers. “In m’eyin re t’okun, omo ke sare moto ko binrin binrin dana (let him face the firing squad; the child who robbed in the bid to own a motor vehicle).

When she thanked me profusely for taking care of her as her days thinned out, I wondered if she had forgotten her toils on me. My mother was an expert in frying gari and preparing cassava meal called fufu. Her fufu could last for weeks without gathering moist. Her proficiency came to bear in 1994 when I had to go study for a Master’s at the University of Ibadan, at a time my father had just retired and hunger was our most notorious companion. I would take her fufu, cocoyam and gari to my hostel and was known for my indigent life. A few years ago when I slumped into a financial distress, immediately my mother heard of it, she called me. A huge sum had just been allotted her from the proceeds of the sale of a paternal family inheritance. She handed everything to me so that I could solve my existential challenge. Such was the mother I lost on Friday.

When I remember her sacrifices for me, I remember Plato’s The Phaedo. It is one of the most ubiquitously read dialogues that was written by that ancient Greek philosopher. In it, Plato gave what is considered to be one of the most essential philosophical validations of the sweats of motherhood. Motherhood, said Plato, is not only about love, but “a selfless self-emptying for another, not because the child has earned or deserved it, but simply by the very fact of being the mother’s child.”

That was Victoria Ajoke, my mother, who lies alone right now in the morgue.

I will miss my mother immensely. It is such a painful separation of mother and her son. I will take solace in her blessed womb that held me for nine months and the lacerating whips from her cane that nurtured me to what I am today.

Adieu, Maami Victoria Ajoke.

Rejoinder: Powerful Lagos, Powerless Osun

The article by one Lasisi Olagunju on the recent nomination of 21 justices for appointment to the Supreme Court should disturb any objective and well-meaning Nigerian. It is calculated at escalating our fault lines. It is targeted at dividing the Nigerian judiciary along State lines. It is calculated to incite Nigerians against Lagosians. It’s a hate piece. We appear not to be fed up with the damage wrecked to our nation by our perennial ethnic and religious divisions. As a corollary, we appear committed to a race to the bottom, when appointments to our apex court are reduced to the clout of the respective states of origin of the justices of the Court of Appeal without any consideration for merit and/or seniority at the bench.

Truth be told, this has nothing to do with the pedigree of the two erudite and respected Honourable justices of the Court of Appeal: Hon. Justice Habeeb Adewale Abiru and Justice Olubunmi Oyewole. Both of them are worthy and deserving of a seat at the Supreme Court. Just ask about them. Thus, it is bad enough that the judicial establishment appears to be heading towards one of them instead of both. We need and deserve both of them, in my opinion. On merit. It is even worse and unfair to both of them to reduce their hard work & careers to their states of origin with the despicable consequence of tainting the elevation of any of them by ascribing the same to their origin as against their hard work and brilliance. It is a disservice to the erudite justices. 

First, the author politically weaponized the appointments of nominees to the Supreme Court by referring to them as the “electors of our future presidents, governors and lawmakers.” Haba!! We all know how and where presidents, governors and lawmakers are elected. It is mischievous to interchange adjudication of electoral disputes to election. It is fraudulent.

Secondly, the writer totally disregarded seniority at the bar and bench, which is a fundamental consideration in the legal profession. Neither did he pay any attention or give consideration to when the two justices were appointed to the bench or the quality of their judgements.

A simple Google search would have assisted Mr. Lasisi Olagunju in writing a balanced article that states the criteria set out by law as well as state the facts that supports or goes against any of the justice’s nomination. The fact remains that Justice Abiru was Justice Oyewole’s senior at the then-University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). He was also his senior at the bar. Most importantly, Hon. Justice Abiru was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2012, whilst Hon. Justice Oyewole was appointed in 2014. Would it be fair for Justice Abiru to be skipped over because he is from Lagos State? Or for his junior in the heir-achy to become his senior? 

Yes, the extant law requires fulfilment of the federal character principle so appointments into national institutions are not lopsided towards a particular region. The balancing is based on the 6 geo-political zones(NW, NE, NC, SW, SE, SS) not based on states as suggested by Mr. Lasisi Olagunju.

The facts in the article are wrong. Based on my findings, there used to be pairs and it was Lagos and Ogun, Oyo and Osun and Ekiti and Ondo. But the pairings were jettisoned under Hon. Justice Aloma Mukhtar’s tenure as Chief Justice of Nigeria and it became zones. Things changed further when the Supreme Court was tasked to appoint its full complement of 21 Justices. South West got a fourth slot instead of 3, which was given to Ogunwumiju, JSC.

Assuming, without conceding, that we are even going by pairings referred to by Mr Olagunju, the Oyo and Osun slot is occupied by the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Ariwoola.

The fact is that the slot available was vacated by a Lagosian in the person of Hon. Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, who retired on 22nd March 2021 after he was appointed on 16th September 2010. He replaced another Lagosian, Justice George Adesola Oguntade, who retired on 10th May 2010. Now, Lagos is the commercial nerve Centre of Nigeria, where 90% Nigeria’s VAT is generated. It’s a mini Nigeria that accommodates everyone. Arguably, Hon. Justice Oyewole is a Lagosian, though not an indigene, as he was not only a resident of Lagos but was appointed as a judge of the Lagos High Court. Essentially, you have two Lagos jurists to a large extent. So, why this division where there is none?

Lasisi Olagunji should do right by these two fine jurists by not diminishing their ascendance to the Supreme Court by crediting the same power play against merit and the time-honoured tradition of the Nigerian judiciary of seniority.

Onaro Adaeze Chukwuzolem, 15, Triumphs as Winner of UBA Foundation NEC 2023

In a thrilling finale to the 2023 UBA Foundation National Essay Competition, 15-year-old Onaro Adaeze Chukwuzolem, a student of Fountain Heights Secondary School, Surulere Lagos, triumphed as the overall winner beating the 11 other finalists. 

Her exuberant declaration, “Yes!!! I won!! I did it!!!,” echoed through the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre in UBA House during the Grand Finale. Adaeze’s victory marked a historic moment as the first of three girls to claim the top prizes in a competition that attracted nearly 12,000 entries from Senior Secondary School students across Nigeria, out of which 12 finalists were initially selected.

Following the second essay written by the 12 selected finalists, Adaeze emerged winner, and secured a prestigious scholarship worth N5 million to pursue her studies in any African university of her choice, along with a modern laptop and other prizes. Her elation and gratitude were evident as she expressed, “This opportunity has changed my life, and I really appreciate the UBA and the UBA Foundation for this.”

The UBA Foundation’s commitment to fostering education and transforming lives was further underscored through constant mentoring that Adaeze will receive throughout her educational journey.

Abdulhameed Khadijah Husna of Sweet Haven High School, Kano State, clinched the second prize -a N3 million educational grant, a laptop, and additional prizes. Meanwhile, Chukwuma-Okoh Naomi from Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, secured the third prize, which included a N2.5 million grant and a brand-new laptop. The remaining nine finalists, which included two boys, were not left empty-handed, receiving brand new laptops and consolation prizes.

UBA’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Oliver Alawuba, emphasized the bank’s unwavering commitment to youth empowerment.

He stated, “UBA is proud to be associated with this event. Annually, we put aside a percentage of our profits to change lives, and we are committed to doing this annually.” 

The National Essay Competition has become a pivotal platform for promoting education, literacy, and critical thinking among Nigerian youth, making a positive impact on their lives and society at large,” Alawuba said.

The Managing Director/CEO of UBA Foundation, Bola Atta, who commended the winners for their exceptional brilliance and encouraged those who did not secure top positions to view it as a challenge for improvement. 

She highlighted the Foundation’s dedication to extending this impactful competition to other African countries, reinforcing its commitment to socio-economic betterment through initiatives in Education, Environment, Economic Empowerment, and Special Projects.

“It is important to note at this point that this same competition is being replicated in some other African countries where UBA operates such as Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal, Uganda, Cote D’Ivoire. Other countries like Zambia, Gabon, Chad and Benin Republic have plans to conduct the NEC in the first quarter of 2024,” Atta said.

UBA Foundation, the CSR arm of the UBA Group, is committed to the socio-economic betterment of the communities in which the bank operates, focusing on development in the areas of Education, Environment, Economic Empowerment and Special Projects.