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Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System on Wednesday said cashless transactions in Nigeria increased to N611.06trn in 2023.

It said the payments grew to N611.06trn from N395.38trn as of the end of 2022 indicating a 54.55 per cent year-on-year growth.

The NIBSS Instant Payments is an account-number-based, online real-time Inter-Bank payment solution developed in the year 2011 by NIBSS. It is the Nigerian financial industry’s preferred funds transfer platform that guarantees instant value to the beneficiary.

According to NIBSS, over the years, Nigerian banks have exposed NIP through their various channels, that is, internet banking, bank branches, Kiosks, mobile apps, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, POS, ATM, etc. to their customers.

Analysis of the data showed that electronic payment channels were used 11.05 billion times in 2023, a 75.96 per cent increase from the 6.28 billion times they were used in 2022 while the total value of instant payment in 2023 was N600.36trn and Point of Sales transactions was N10.7trn and relied upon for 1.38 billion times.

It said said the figure hitting an all-time high indicates more acceptance by Nigerians to embrace cashless payments.

While the e-payment data shows a steady increase throughout the 12 months of the year, the highest value was recorded in December. Being a festive period with lots of spending activities, Nigerians spent a total of N71.9 trillion over electronic channels in December 2023.

The NIBSS data showed that e-payment volume hit an all-time high of 1.1 billion in March 2023, the time Nigerians experienced cash scarcity and were forced to transact through electronic channels. However, the value for the month was not as high as what was recorded in December of the same year.

Meanwhile, the volume of transactions processed by NIBSS for the year also jumped from 5.1 billion in 2022 to 9.7 billion in 2023. This represents a 90% increase year on year.

A look at the value of electronic transactions month by month shows that Nigerians spent N38.9 trillion on electronic platforms in January 2023, while in February, e-payment value was N36.8 trillion.

Similarly, In March 2023, the value of electronic transactions jumped to N48.3 trillion, driven by the scarcity of cash at that time.

By April, a total of N41.3 trillion was spent on the electronic channels, while in May transaction volume was N45.9 trillion.

NIP transactions value in June 2023 was N45.3 trillion, a slight decline from the value recorded in May. July saw e-payment transactions jump to N47.4 trillion.

In August, the value of NIP transactions climbed further to N50.9 trillion, while it rose to N51 trillion in September.

October and November transactions value were N59 trillion and N63.6 trillion respectively, while the highest transaction value of N71.9 trillion was recorded in December.

Cashless transactions in the country were partly boosted by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira redesign policy and withdrawal limits from December 2022.

After announcing a limit on transactions, the apex bank said, “Customers should be encouraged to use alternative channels (Internet banking, mobile banking apps, USSD, cards/POS, eNaira, etc.) to conduct their banking transactions.”

 

Punch

Niger State Police Command has arrested a 30-year-old woman, Aisha Jibrin, who led women and young people in a mass protest on Monday over the high cost of living in Minna.

Aisha was arrested alongside two other women: 57-year-old Fatima Aliyu and 43-year-old Fatima Isyaku; and 22 others.

Spokesman for the Niger State Police Command, Abiodun Wasiu, who disclosed the arrest in a statement on Wednesday, said an investigation was ongoing after which the protesters would be taken to court and arraigned.

According to Wasiu, the protesters acted violently and illegally.

On Tuesday, the ruling All  Progressives Congress alleged that the protesters were sponsored by the opposition parties, a claim the Peoples Democratic Party refuted, saying the protests were triggered by the hardship occasioned by the economic policies of President Bola Tinubu.

On Wednesday, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, described the arrest of the protesters as undemocratic.

Angry youths and women had on Monday taken to the streets of Minna, the Niger State capital, protesting hardship in the land, occasioned by the hike in the cost of living.

The protest started when a group of women blocked Minna-Bida Road at the popular Kpakungu Roundabout to lament what they termed the suffering under the Tinubu government. They were later joined by men and youths stopping vehicles from moving.

The protest occurred in the Morning morning when some of the youths began speaking in Hausa language, lamenting how the country’s economy was getting worse under Tinubu’s leadership.

A deployment of police operatives to the scene could not stop the youths from the protest as some of them could be heard saying that the police were the agents of the government and they could not do anything.

The Niger police spokesman, Wasiu, said Aisha, who led the protest, was arrested alongside 24 others.

Wasiu said after being alerted to the protest, the police “the command immediately drafted police patrol teams led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Shehu Didango, to the scene, and after much persuasion by the police, the protesters deliberately refused to clear the road for public use, while the Deputy Governor of Niger State, Yakubu Garba, equally availed himself at the scene and addressed the group, yet they turned deaf ears and chose to be violent.”

“However, the police adopted minimum force to disperse the protesters who turned violent by attacking the police with weapons, such as stones, bottles, sticks, cutlasses and damaged police patrol vehicles and parts of the Kpakungu Division roof.

“In the course of this, the police arrested the initiator of the protest one Aisha Jibrin, 30 years, Fatima Aliyu, 57years, Fatima Isyaku, 43years, all of Soje ‘A’ of Kpakungu area of Minna, and 22 other miscreants.”

According to the police spokesman, the police recovered from the protesters “three knives, one scissors, one cutlass, one saw blade, one iron pipe, four other sticks, two wraps of Indian hemp, and charms.”

He said, “During interrogation, the said Aisha claimed that she was not aware that her action was illegal by mobilising over 100 women and miscreants to block the highway for a violent protest. She claimed further that she informed one youth leader, Hassan, in the area, who promised to inform the police of their plan to protest, but did not do so.”

However, the PDP condemned the arrest of the protesters.

The opposition party’s spokesman, Ologunagba, in an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday, said Nigerians should not be further punished in addition to the economic hardship they were grappling with.

He said, “We condemn this arrest; this is not democracy. They have the constitutional right and duty to protest. This President was the leader of the protest in 2012. President Buhari was the leader of the protests in 2012. So many other prominent Nigerians who have now gone into hibernation were part of that protest. So why arrest protesters?

“If they can protest against the PDP then, because it was their democratic right to do so, why can’t Nigerians now protest against the more excruciating pain that they have inflicted on Nigerians?”

Ologunagba said the protests were just a reflection of the hardship in the country.

He said, “There is frustration in the land and that frustration can be seen on the street already in different parts of the country. There is a need for the President to listen to people, listen to the protesters, don’t listen to people around you in the corridors of power because people are hurting.

“Your policies are draconian. Your policies are inhumane, your policies are insensitive. Your policies are such that they don’t show any level of competence on the part of the people in government. Nigerians are beginning to hurt and they are beginning to be frustrated. And they have begun to vent that frustration. And what did the government do? They arrested the leaders of protesters in Niger State.

“We call on all Nigerians to speak up, demand immediate and unconditional release of those arrested in Minna, Niger State.”

However, reacting on behalf of the ruling party, APC National Publicity Director, Bala Ibrahim, said, “The ruling APC is a democratic party. And as a party in power, its ambition is to promote democracy. This demonstration (Minna) is encouraged by the constitution and democracy. There is no way the ruling party will go against the provision of the Constitution

“It is the wish of the party that whatever grievance anyone has should be expressed in such a way that is encouraged by the Constitution. To do that is to go about the provisions laid down by the Constitution and, by extension, the law.

“If the police announced that they made arrests, I am sure it will be in line with the law. There is no way the party can stop people from expressing their opinions, provided it is in order. Even the President has made an address to the nation where he said that he feels the anger of Nigerians all over the cities, towns and villages.”

 

Punch

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has received the official report of the 16 January explosion that occurred at Adeyi Avenue in Bodija, Ibadan, in which five persons died.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Fatai Owoseni, made this known on Wednesday while briefing journalists shortly after the presentation of the report to the governor.

Owoseni said that three persons of interest have been identified in connection with the cause of the unfortunate incident.

He added that the identified persons will face prosecution based on the investigation carried out.

Owoseni also revealed that the character of the explosive is known as ‘Water Gel Type Based Explosive’ and that the explosion was triggered by an electric spark.

He explained that a Closed Circuit Television in one of the affected houses gave footage of how the incident happened.

Owoseni, a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, assured that the state government would bring the perpetrators to book.

He added that the government would also check the immigration status of all the people of interest since a majority of the suspects quizzed were from Mali.

“We have been able to report that the swiftness with which security was deployed to the epicentre had so far successfully made the state to fully secure the environment.

“And with the security that was provided, the state has also been able to prevent untoward happenings, especially opportunistic crimes that hoodlums always take advantage of such situations to carry out.

“We would recall that an emergency situation centre was put in place by the governor and was located at the premises of Oyo State Housing Corporation, Ibadan.

“The EOC has so far collated information, data of things that happened there and some of the data collated include census of the respective houses and the fatalities that were affected including the extent of losses suffered.

“As of 6 p.m., February 3, which was the 18th day of the incident, a total of 335 affected persons registered at the emergency situation centre.

“These include 16 companies or business operators, churches, mosques, three schools and the UCH also approached the centre to report on their losses.

“The losses reported also include fatality, injuries of various degrees, damages ranging from total collapse and submerging of houses, houses that suffered collateral damage and the ones that suffered minimal damages,” Owoseni stated.

Chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Structural Engineers, Mbim Okutinyang, who is also the lead coordinator of the team that carried out structural integrity on the affected houses, also told journalists that 282 houses were affected.

He, however, said that only four of the houses would have to be demolished due to the degrees of the damage.

Okutinyang added that the seismic report was still being awaited.

On his part, the Head of the Emergency Operation Centre, Temitope Alonge, said 80 victims in total were managed across various hospitals following the incident, but only five patients were on admission as of the time of the press briefing.

Alonge explained that four of the patients are being treated at the University College Hospital (UCH) and were at various levels of recovery, while one patient is at the Redeemers Hospital being managed for a spinal cord injury.

He said that most of the cases at UCH will likely be discharged within the next week.

The head of the EOC added that some of the affected victims who experienced medical disorders such as respiratory illness had been treated.

He also explained that those with symptoms suggestive of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder were being attended to by clinical psychologists from UCH.

Giving an update on the tests for radioactivity, Alonge said the site of the incident had been cleared in terms of radioactivity, as the EOC invited the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NNRA) to conduct another screening.

 

NAN

Thursday, 08 February 2024 04:44

Nigeria beat South Africa to secure AFCON final

Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast.

Nigeria defeated Bafana Bafana of South Africa on penalties in the semi-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake on Wednesday. 

Both teams played out a one-all draw through the regular period and extra time before the Eagles triumphed 4-2 in the penalty shootout.

The match was a record 15th semi-final AFCON semi-final appearance for the Super Eagles, and it was a nervy encounter that pushed them to the breaking point.

Victor Osimhen was only announced fit on the eve of the match after suffering abdominal discomfort. However, another injury forced Jose Peseiro, Super Eagles head coach, to make a change to his regular starting line-up. Bright Osayi-Samuel came in for injured Zaidu Sanusi at the back.

Nigeria started with a 3-4-3 formation, which was mirrored by Hugo Broos, the Bafana Bafana head coach, and the Eagles struggled in the early stage of the game.

The backline of William Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi and Calvin Bassey initially struggled to curtail the speed and positional awareness of Percy Tau and Evidence Makgopa.

Stanley Nwabali was forced to make a sterling save after Makgopa spun on the edge of the box and aimed a curler into the top corner.

But Nigeria scored the first goal of the game. Mothobi Mvala brought down Osimhen in the South African goal area in the 65th minute. Troost-Ekong made no mistake from the resultant penalty.

A brief moment of madness swung the game Bafana Bafana’s way deep in the second half. Osimhen was wheeling away in celebration of a goal he thought he had scored when a VAR review zoomed on a foul by Alhassan Yusuf on Percy Tau in the Nigerian box during the leadup to the goal. Nigerians were brought to despair from the brink of delight as a penalty was awarded to South Africa.

Teboho Mokoena sent Nwabali the wrong way from the spot-kick. The game crawled into extra time and a penalty shootout eventually.

Mokoena missed his kick, while Nwabali saved Makgopa’s before Kelechi Iheanacho sent Nigeria to the AFCON final.

PLAYER RATINGS

Stanley Nwabali, GK (5/5): He was as calm as ever with impeccable positioning. He made routine saves effortlessly and clawed a certain goal away. He could not save the penalty in regular time but saved twice in the shootout to send Nigeria into the final.

Bright Osayi-Samuel, DW (3/5): An average display in a match he deputised for the injured Sanusi.

Olaoluwa Aina, DW (4/5): He had a solid display again, and his defensive qualities shone through in this match. He was, however, unlucky in the shootout.

Calvin Bassey, DC (3/5): A nervy showing against a more determined opposition but still good in defence.

William Troost Ekong (C), DC (4/5): He mopped up at the back with his usual confidence despite the ageing legs and a determined South Africa attack. He scored the breakthrough penalty goal.

Semi Ajayi, DC (3/5): A well-measured last-ditch challenge saved Nigeria. He continued his impressive performance in both defence and attack.

Frank Onyeka, DM (3/5): He ran himself ragged and made timely tackles to stall the momentum of South Africa’s attacks.

Alex Iwobi, MC (3/5): It was a poor display from Iwobi in this match. He chose perfection over routine passes and failed more often than not.

Moses Simon, WF (3/5): The dribbling winger failed to get the better of two defenders always on him—a below-average day.

Ademola Lookman, WF (3/5): A silent evening for Lookman, but he kept trying and provided an assist for the goal chalked off by VAR. He was subbed off late on.

Victor Osimhen, ST (4/5): Battling as ever despite looking unfit following his injury scare. He had two chances from headers off target but single-handedly won the penalty that led to Ekong’s goal.

Substitutes

Alhassan Yusuf, MC (1/5): His action of note was to give the foul that led to South Africa’s equaliser.

Simon Chukwueze, WF (1/5): Selfish on the ball, poor decision-making and lacks end product.

Joe Aribo, MC (2/5): Stabilised the midfield with simple passes to recycle possession.

Kelechi Iheanacho, MC (4/5): A free kick on target, and he scored the winning kick during the shootout in his first AFCON match.

Terrem Moffi, ST (4/5): Pace set him up, but a last-ditch challenge denied him glory. He scored in the shootout.

 

The Cable

Blinken says a Hamas-Israel deal is still possible even though the sides remain far apart

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that a cease-fire and hostage-release agreement between Israel and Hamas was still possible, despite the two sides being far apart on the central terms for a deal.

Blinken was in the region trying to broker an arrangement that could bring some respite in Israel’s war against Hamas, which is entering its fifth month after killing more than 27,000 Palestinians, displacing much of the territory’s population and sparking a humanitarian catastrophe.

Those diplomatic efforts were rattled earlier in the day when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a detailed, three-phase plan by Hamas that would unfold over 4 1/2 months. The plan stipulated that all hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, including senior militants, and an end to the war.

Netanyahu, who called Hamas’ plan “delusional,” dismissed any proposal that leaves the militant group in full or partial control of Gaza. Netanyahu said military pressure was the best way to free the roughly 100 hostages held in the Gaza Strip, where they were taken after Hamas’ cross-border rampage into southern Israel on Oct. 7, which sparked the war.

Israel has made destroying Hamas’ governing and military abilities one of its wartime objectives, and Hamas’ proposal would effectively leave it in power in Gaza and allow it to rebuild its military capabilities.

But Blinken downplayed the posturing, saying it was part of the arduous negotiating process. “It’s not flipping a light switch. It’s not yes or no,” he said.

“While there are some clear non-starters in Hamas’ response, we do think it creates space for agreement to be reached, and we will work at that relentlessly until we get there,” he said.

Blinken is trying to advance the cease-fire talks while pushing for a larger postwar settlement in which Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel in return for a “clear, credible, time-bound path to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

But the increasingly unpopular Netanyahu is opposed to Palestinian statehood, and his hawkish governing coalition could collapse if he is seen as making too many concessions.

HAMAS SPELLS OUT DEMANDS FOR HOSTAGE DEAL

Hamas’ statements came in response to a proposal drawn up by the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. The militants’ reply was published in Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is close to the powerful Hezbollah militant group.

A Hamas official and two Egyptian officials confirmed its authenticity. A fourth official familiar with the talks later clarified the sequencing of the releases. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media on the negotiations.

In the first 45-day phase, Hamas would release all remaining women and children, as well as older and sick men, in exchange for an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Israel would also withdraw from populated areas, cease aerial operations, allow far more aid to enter and permit Palestinians to return to their homes, including in devastated northern Gaza.

The second phase, to be negotiated during the first, would include the release of all remaining hostages, mostly soldiers, in exchange for all Palestinian detainees over the age of 50, including senior militants.

Israel would release an additional 1,500 prisoners, 500 of whom would be specified by Hamas, and complete its withdrawal from Gaza.

In the third phase, the sides would exchange the remains of hostages and prisoners.

VICTORY IN ‘A MATTER OF MONTHS’

At the news conference earlier, Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ demands, saying they would lead to a disaster for Israel.

“Surrendering to Hamas’ delusional demands that we heard now not only won’t lead to freeing the captives, it will just invite another massacre,” Netanyahu said in a nationally televised evening news conference.

Netanyahu said the Israeli military had achieved many of the goals it set out and that victory was “a matter of months” away.

He said forces had dismantled 18 of Hamas’ 24 battalions, destroyed tunnels and killed militants, and that military pressure on Hamas was the best way to bring about the release of the hostages. He said preparations were underway for the military to move into the southern Gaza border town of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians have crammed to flee the fighting.

“We are on the way to an absolute victory,” Netanyahu said. “There is no other solution.”

That stands in contrast to some Israeli officials, who say Israel’s two goals of destroying Hamas’s capabilities and freeing the hostages are incompatible and that only a deal can lead to their release.

Meanwhile, Hamas has continued to put up stiff resistance across the territory, and its police force has returned to the streets in places where Israeli troops have pulled back.

Netanyahu ruled out any arrangement that leaves Hamas in control of any part of Gaza. He also said that Israel is the “only power” capable of guaranteeing security in the long term.

At a news conference held immediately after his appearance, hostages freed in a late November deal said they were worried Netanyahu was taking too hard a line and that the remaining hostages and their families would pay the price.

“If you continue in this approach of seeking the collapse of Hamas, there won’t be any hostages to free,” said a tearful Adina Moshe, who was freed nearly 50 days into her captivity. Hamas is still holding over 130 hostages, but around 30 of them are believed to be dead, with the vast majority killed on Oct. 7.

MISERY DEEPENS IN DEVASTATED GAZA

There is little talk of grand diplomatic bargains in Gaza, where Palestinians yearn for an end to fighting that has upended every aspect of their lives.

“We pray to God that it stops,” said Ghazi Abu Issa, who fled his home and sought shelter in the central town of Deir al-Balah. “There is no water, electricity, food or bathrooms.”

Those living in tents have been drenched by winter rains and flooding. “We have been humiliated,” he said.

New mothers struggle to get baby formula and diapers, which can only be bought at vastly inflated prices if they can be found at all. Some have resorted to feeding solid food to babies younger than 6 months old despite the health risks it poses.

While Blinken said Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attack was “fully justified,” and he ruled out any role for Hamas in postwar Gaza, he also criticized some of Israel’s responses.

Blinken said the daily toll of Israel’s military operations on innocent civilians “remains too high.”

“Israelis were dehumanized in the most horrific way on October 7. And the hostages have been dehumanized every day since. But that cannot be a license to dehumanize others,” he added.

The Palestinian death toll from four months of war has reached 27,707, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory. That includes 123 bodies brought to hospitals in just the last 24 hours, it said Wednesday. At least 11,000 wounded people need to be urgently evacuated from Gaza, it said.

The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its figures but says most of the dead have been women and children.

The violence in Gaza has drawn the attention of the United Nations’ top court, which last month ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza. But the panel stopped short of ordering an end to the offensive.

 

AP

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Russian forces foil two rotations of Ukrainian troops in southern Donetsk area

Units of Russia’s Battlegroup East broke up two rotations of Ukrainian troops in the southern Donetsk area during the past day, the battlegroup’s spokesman Alexander Gordeyev told TASS.

"Units of the Battlegroup East continue to fulfil combat tasks of the special military operation in the southern Donetsk area. Artillery systems and heavy flamethrowers hit strongholds and areas of the deployment of manpower of the 23rd brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard, the 72nd mechanized brigade and the 128th territorial defense brigade of the Ukrainian army near the settlements of Urozhaynoye, Ugledar, Dobrovolye, Voduyanoye, and Staromayorskoye. During the day two attempted rotations of enemy troops on the frontline positions were foiled," he said.

Artyomovsk area

Russian forces have neutralized more than ten Ukrainian troops in the Artyomovsk area and hit a Javelin anti-tank system with the use of a drone, the Russian defense ministry said.

"During a raid to the line of combat engagement in the Artyomovsk area, reconnaissance operatives of the Battlegroup South spotted in a forest a masked position of a Javelin anti-tank system ready for firing. Several hours later, a group of Ukrainian troops headed toward the Javelin system covered by a camouflage netting. When they were approaching the position, reconnaissance operatives opened fire at the enemy. As a result, more than ten nationalists were neutralized by fire from the Fagot system and snipers," it said, adding that later a drone dropped explosives and destroyed the Javelin system.

Krasny Liman area

Mortar men of Russia’s Central Military District have foiled a rotation of Ukrainian troops in the Krasny Liman area in the course of the special military operation, the Russian defense ministry told TASS.

"The crew of a 2B9M Vasilek tugged automatic mortar neutralized a group of Ukrainian troops spotted by reconnaissance operatives in the Kiev-controlled Serebryansky forestry. The mortar crew hit the manpower of Ukrainian nationalists who were rotating at a stronghold. The success of this operation became possible thanks to close cooperation with reconnaissance operatives and reconnaissance drone operators," it said.

According to the ministry, the artillery of the Battlegroup Center note the high efficiency of the Vesilek mortar, which can both deliver pinpoint strikes and hit large area targets.

 

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Germany not big enough to fill gap if US stops Ukraine weapons supply

Germany is not big enough to make up the difference should the United States fail to deliver weapons to Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Washington.

"That is, I believe, the real danger we currently face," he said.

 

Tass/Reuters

When Satya Nadella was appointed as Microsoft CEO in 2014, he wasn't one to boast about IQ points or intellectual achievements. He understood that being a leader wasn't just about knowing all the answers; it was about understanding people and building meaningful connections.

To be effective and separate oneself from the pack, Nadella pared it down to two words: emotional intelligence. 

'EQ trumps IQ'

In a highly publicized event nearly a decade ago, Nadella addressed thousands of students on the subject of their future and possibilities. During his talk, he spoke about the importance of developing emotional intelligence (EQ):

In the long run, EQ trumps IQ. Without being a source of energy for others very little can be accomplished.

Studies show companies that prioritize emotional intelligence in their workers experience higher productivity and employee engagement than those that neglect it.

Where technological advancements often take the spotlight, the significance of emotional intelligence can sometimes be overlooked. However, leaders like Satya Nadella have shown that emotional intelligence is not just a nice-to-have trait but a crucial element for achieving lasting success in the corporate landscape.

There are several ways that leaders and high achievers can utilize emotional intelligence as a strength to improve their own performance and the workplace. 

1. Give people a voice

Two decades ago, I reported to an executive with EQ and learned a valuable lesson I've carried with me to this day. I was leading a team through a challenging project. The pressure was on and tensions were high.

We had a quiet team member struggling to find his voice amidst the chaos. Instead of bulldozing ahead with his own ideas, the executive (our boss) took a step back, approached the team member and asked, "What do you think?"

The effect was astounding. The team member's face lit up and he began to share his insights. It turned out he had a brilliant solution that hadn't been considered before. The project went on to be a resounding success and we all learned a crucial lesson: Leadership was about empowering others and valuing their perspectives.

2. Lead with authenticity

Emotional intelligence isn't about being overly sentimental or soft-hearted. It's about understanding the emotions, motivations and aspirations of the people you work with. It's about creating an environment where everyone feels valued and heard.

The key is to actively listen, empathize and lead with authenticity. It's recognizing and managing one's own emotions because a higher performer or leader who can't or won't navigate their own feelings often struggles to guide a team effectively.

3. Acknowledge you don't know everything

It's rather uncomfortable admitting you don't know something when people expect you to have answers. Garry Ridge, Chairman Emeritus of WD-40 Company, had a counterintuitive perspective when he was CEO.

Ridge said "I don't know" are the three most powerful words he's ever learned in his life. When he got comfortable with not knowing, he began to learn and grow.

"As soon as you make out you know everything, you shut down all the opportunity to learn more and get different points of view," said Ridge. "So not only do I get comfortable with 'I don't know,' but even more today, I keep asking myself, 'Why do I believe that?' Because the world's changing so quickly."

As you investigate your own leadership style, keep this in mind: True leadership isn't about having all the answers but about creating a space for collective brilliance to flourish.

As for Satya Nadella, he continues to lead Microsoft through emotional intelligence, proving that it isn't just a buzzword but a powerful force that can shape the future of leadership in the tech world and beyond.

 

Inc

Like every other sector, the building and construction industry may be witnessing one of its worst moments, as exchange rate, building materials, and labour prices have triggered an increase in construction costs by 200 per cent in the last two years.

Nigeria’s inflation rate as of December 2023 climbed to 28.9 per cent. The recent upsurge in inflation is primarily linked to the effects of petrol subsidy removal and the devaluation of the official exchange rate, both exerting substantial impacts on consumer prices.

The exchange rate crisis has worsened the woes of the building sector. The direct effect of exchange rate is being felt more on imported materials like windows, doors, ceramics, tiles, plumbing appliances and sanitary wares, which represent 23 per cent of materials in the building market. The prices of the local materials, which account for 37 per cent of materials in the market, have also been affected by increase in the cost of production and transportation to the end-users.

The depreciation in the value of the naira directly affects the prices of building materials in the construction industry. Material components of a building account for about 60 per cent of the building cost. With the present economic situation, the downward trend of the value of the naira, cost of materials continues to escalate at a higher rate.

Prices of essential building materials such as cement, blocks, doors, reinforcement rods, sand, timber, paints, roofing sheets, glass and tiles have risen by over 75 per cent in the last 12 months and this has become a source of concern to the built environment professionals because of the direct impact on supply, affordability and accessibility to housing, especially for low and middle-income earners. According to architects, materials and labour prices have risen between 100- 200 per cent in the last two years.

For instance, The Guardian Building Materials survey last week shows that a 50-kilogramme bag of cement that was sold for N4,700 in January last year now sells between N6,200 and N6,500. The cost of raw materials such as limestone, clay, and gypsum, is attributed to price increase from haulage and fluctuations in exchange rate, according to producers.

For cement-based blocks, a nine-inch block previously sold at N450 is now N550, while the six-inch block is now N500 from N370. There has also been an increase in the price per tonne of iron rods. The 8mm previously at N255,000 per tonne is now N518,000, 10mm that used to cost N442, 000 goes for N520, 000, while 12mm and 16mm rods that sold for N446 is now N515, 000, while 20mm and 25mm earlier sold for N442, 000 now command N530, 000 price, depending on location.

Accordingly, labour prices have gone up, with artisans that earlier charged between N3, 000 to 4,000 per day last year, charging between N6, 000 and N8, 000, depending on the location. A key factor to these charges is the cost of fare to the site. Some of the built environment professionals have also raised their scale of fees indirectly to reflect the inflationary trend.

Generally, price of paints in 20 litres containers also increased from N8,000 with price hovering between N10,900 and N35,000 depending on the brand, location, while retailers and distributors sell between N12, 500 and N45, 000. Price of sanitary fittings and other items have also hit the rooftop.
The development has made it difficult for property developers and contractors to deliver affordable housing for over 75 per cent of Nigerians, who lack access to desired accommodation. There has also been a spiral effect in prices of houses, especially newly constructed buildings, as well as delayed delivery of projects.

Rental prices are also increasing in low-income settlements with a room self-contained of N150,000, being rented for N250,000; a two-bedroom flat has increased from N400,000 to N600,000, while a three-bedroom apartment rose from N500,000 to N800,000 and could be higher depending on location. For the same type of units in highbrow areas, a two-bedroom is as high as N1.2 million, while three bedrooms go for N1.8 million and above.

Experts say cost of construction will continue to rise, except the Federal Government intervenes in the sector through deliberate policies to lower costs of construction. 

President, Commonwealth Association of Surveyors and Land Economy (CASLE), Segun Ajanlekoko, said without economic re-engineering, the cost of construction will continue to rise, as the country is import-dependent for major components of construction materials.

Ajanlekoko, a past president, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), who said the rise in construction cost is between 35 per cent, traced it to the sharp decline in the value of the naira in the foreign exchange market and internal operating cost arising from increases in consumables like diesel for generators, transportation costs for labourers and other logistics.

While noting that infrastructure projects affected heavy engineering projects such as roads and bridges, he called for greater and effective cost management. According to him, the government must allow a special discretionary exchange rate for imported materials, grant tax relief for construction companies and encourage use of local materials.

The CASLE president further advocated establishment of a financial intermediation that will reduce the overall cost expenditures and reduce interest to a single digit, as well as invigorate economic activities and help upscale Gross domestic Product (GDP) growth and reduce unemployment.

President, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NITP), Nathaniel Atebije, traced the problem to high inflation rate.

“The naira has nose-dived beyond any record in history. And most of the building materials are imported, which are usually imported with foreign currency. Secondly, the cost of transporting  materials has skyrocketed because of the increase in the pump price of petroleum products under the claim of removal of petroleum subsidy. The prices of these products go up almost every week. These and other factors such as the cost of labour have generated high multiplier effects on the cost of construction,” he said.

Atebije estimates the percentage increase in the past one year to be in the region of 400 per cent. He cited an instance, “We are working on a building whose burglary proofing materials were estimated at N3 million by May 2023 but by December 2023, a revised quote took it above N11 million. It was unbelievable though real. I am sure the price must have gone higher by now.”

He urged the government to drastically reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks between project conception and construction, strengthen relevant institutions to research and encourage the use of locally produced building materials, as well as minimise engagement of foreign professionals and contractors in the construction industry and massively engage indigenous professionals and contractors of proven competence and integrity.

NITP president also wants tariffs on highly essential building materials reduced to allow for the importation of high-tech building materials, as well as access to land and tax waivers to encourage manufacturers of building materials to set up industries and produce in Nigeria.

Atebije, who noticed the rise in all aspects of construction, expressed concern on the increase in housing, which is the most basic need of man. “It is most noticeable in housing because the deficit continues to stare at us and the nation looks helpless in attending to the increasing homelessness, the need to replace the ageing residential properties, failure of which is responsible for the collapse of buildings, killing many Nigerians.

“The cost of building materials is the reason for the growing shanties and illegal developments in the form of slums and its attendant problems. Urgent attention needs to be given to the need to reduce cost of building materials to promote sane development and management of our human settlements,” he added.

Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) President, Omobolaji Adeniyi, said the devaluation of currency has led to increase in production cost for most construction materials and high cost of transportation due to removal of fuel subsidy of the products (AGO and PMS prices). She also blamed it on the high interest rates, limited access to affordable funds, shortage of skilled manpower and heavy reliance on imported construction materials.

Adeniyi said the effect of the cost increase is noticed across all construction projects because the same materials are used, adding that it is very noticeable in housing, with developers raising house prices by 40 to 50 per cent in the last year due to high materials cost and related expenses.

“The average cost of building materials rose by 35.75 per cent in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. It has been consistently rising since then and we can put a range of 100 – 200 per cent increase across board in the last two years. This varies from one material to the other, and from one place to the other, affected by local forces like nearness to the sources of the materials,” she said.

She urged the government to pursue deliberate policies to lower the costs of construction and focus on stabilising the naira by creating a more accommodating regulatory environment for investors. Other measures she recommended include lowering of duties for imported components, support for local production of some of these materials, funding of research and development in alternative materials and methodologies, and the formulation of more effective regulations.

Adeniyi stated that housing and infrastructure are the most important indices in the measurement of development and biggest drivers of employment in almost all economies. “The stimulation of the construction sector has a big impact in any economy. Making construction more affordable would be an important game-changer for our economy. The rising costs of building materials also impact on disposable incomes and purchasing power among Nigerians, exacerbating employment challenges and potentially slowing down crucial construction activities for economic growth,” he added.

 

The Guardian

Wednesday, 07 February 2024 04:48

No food shortage in Nigeria, FG insists

Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, met behind closed doors with the National Security Adviser, NSA, Nuhu Ribadu, and some ministers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, over food security and protests in some states.

The meeting, which began at about 05:30 pm, also had in attendance governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Yemi Cardoso; Ministers of Education, Tahir Mamman; Finance, Wale Edun; Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu; Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari; and State for Agriculture, Sabi Abdullahi.

Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting that lasted for about three hours, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, expressed President Bola Tinubu’s worry over the development.

He said that the President has directed that the situation should be arrested by the Presidential Committee in order to reduce hardship on the populace.

The Minister, who said that there is enough food in the country, added that some elements are trying to take advantage of the high food prices and the depreciation of naira to cause havoc.

He said, “We just rounded off a meeting. It is a special presidential committee to address the issue of food shortage or lack of enough food on the table of most Nigerians.

“This is just the beginning of that meeting. It is going to continue tomorrow and day after tomorrow. The government is very concerned about what Nigerians are going through, especially what has happened in Minna yesterday, and therefore government is taking some action to ensure that Nigerians have some relief in terms of the availability of food on the table.

“Of course, this meeting is not by itself exhaustive. It’s just like I said, the beginning. It is going to continue tomorrow and the day after.

“Now, some of these will involve unlocking the foods that are available in most of the storage facilities (National Food Reserve) around the country. You know that the Federal Minister of Agriculture has some food reserves. That is going to be made available to Nigerians.”

The meeting was held on the heels of the protests by women in Minna, Niger State, and that of angry youths in Kano over the rising cost of living in the country.

A group of women in Minna, Niger State, had on Monday, blocked the ever-busy Minna-Bida Road at the popular Kpakungu Roundabout and called on the administration of President Bola Tinubu to address the problem of ‘hunger in the land.’

Youths in Kano also protested over the hardship in the country and the state governor, Abba Yusuf, assured them that he would take their complaints to the President.

 

Vanguard

All Progressives Congress (APC) says it is unfair to assess the administration of President Bola Tinubu based on the current economic realities.

Speaking in an interview on Channels Television, Felix Morka, APC spokesperson, said things are tough in many parts of the world. Cost of living.

On Monday, some residents of Minna, Niger state capital, blocked major roads in the city to protest the rising cost of living in the country.

There was also a protest in Kano state over the economic hardship being experienced by Nigerians.

Speaking on the development, Morka said the criticism of the Tinubu’s administration on the economic situation of the country is “unfair”, adding that the government is yet to spend one year in office.

“Our people are dealing with circumstances that are difficult and challenging. Nobody is in denial,” he said.

“Things are tough, they are tough in Nigeria and everywhere else. Farmers in Europe are barely going to farm, they are protesting vehemently, challenging the European government, who by all indices are doing better than we are but things are still tough.

“This government has a mandate of four years. Why are we sitting here talking as though we are in the eighth month of the eight years of this administration?

“This government is not one year in office yet, just a few months. It is unfair to this president.

“Look at the bold steps this administration has taken to tackle these fundamental problems.”

 

The Cable


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