Super User

Super User

Content marketing. Are you doing it? If you are, does that content actually serve your growth and the goals of your business? 

Promotion has never been optional for entrepreneurs and the digital age continues to enhance the potency of content marketing in drawing eyeballs and closing sales. So if you said yes to either of those two questions, this article is for you.

One of the most common pieces of advice that people get when it comes to content revolves around "just going out and posting." 

While the old Gretsky adage is certainly true about missing all the shots you don't take, there has to be more specific and tailored advice for professionals and entrepreneurs looking to market themselves online.

Effective content has to have some sort of prima facie value that is wholly contained in the specific post itself. The key is serving people first - without them feeling like they're getting warmed up to a pitch or being sent down a funnel. 

With social media marketing, it's a long game, one that centers around building a reputation for adding value while asking little in return. So what does content that adds value to both you and your target audience look like?

Give Before You Ask

I spoke with Neel Dhingra on how professionals can be creating content that is a win-win for creators and audiences alike. Dhingra, a long-time loan officer in the mortgage and real estate industry, and now the founder and CEO of Forward Academy, helping professionals with their personal brands.

"Give before you ask," Dhingra advises. "Give valuable information that helps people." Usually, people put the customer on the left and a closed sale on the right. From first contact, so many entrepreneurs are asking people to start moving along that spectrum immediately.

But so many consumers, especially those from the younger generation, aren't keen on moving forward quickly. They have grown accustomed to a middle step in which they are able to gather informant information. 

They follow you, learn through your digital assets, and then gain the confidence to start asking more specific questions that lead to the results you want.

Instead of trying to focus on the bottom of the funnel, where people are rushing into transacting right now, this strategy allows you to reach people who may be six to twelve months away from buying your product or service.

It takes longer, yes. But this slow, methodical approach allows you to appeal to a wider audience, yielding higher results when they eventually warm to you.

Building Relationships Through Story

One of the difficult elements for people to navigate is coming up with creative ideas for captivating content. 

From a technical perspective alone, it seems like the framework for the most popular media is constantly changing. Optimizing and innovating on how specifically you are connecting through content is important. 

But while these details change as quickly as the latest Instagram update or the overnight rise of a new social media giant like TikTok, the essence of good content continues to surround relationship building. "To get all the benefits of social media," Dhingra says, "you have to create that connection with people."

What's a great way to foster this? By sharing your story. Opening up about the mission or why behind what you do is powerful stuff. 

People are attracted to somebody with a plight, especially when that mission ties into a problem that they can personally resonate with. "The personal aspect is what starts most of the conversations on social media," Dhingra says. 

Sharing the behind the scenes at work in addition to showing people a little into your personal life can have a big impact. It allows people to relate to you, which makes them feel comfortable to ask questions, enter conversations, and do business with you.

The goal is to connect your purpose and story with the needs and wants of the target audience. That, for someone who's ready to put out content of inherent value, is a formula for success.

Where To Post Content?

On the topic of where to post, Instagram's reels are still amongst the hottest mediums in town. Instagram is still lagging TikTok," he says. "Until they catch the user attention their competitor has, they're giving short-form content creators free reach."

Instagram is also particularly powerful for its integration of a direct message feature, essential for driving that relationship-building element mentioned earlier. Beyond this, long-form certainly is not dead. 

For those whose industry or subject matter warrant lengthier explanations, YouTube is still the place to be. Many of the entrepreneurs I speak to aren't using content marketing to its full potential. 

We live in a digital landscape that developed quickly and is now beginning to solidify its presence as a global mover of all things business. It's easy to look at that and leap to the conclusion that the ship has sailed to be effective content marketers of our personal and professional brand. 

But, with the right insight and good intentions for what you want your deliverables to give people, the sky's the limit for how you can network and grow through content marketing. 

 

Inc

The Federal Government borrowed N20.1 trillion from domestic investors in the first year of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, representing a year-on-year YoY increase of 117 per cent from former President Muhammadu Buhari’s last year in office, prompting concerns over the impact on the economy including likely additional pressure on inflation, increased debt service cost and higher borrowing cost from businesses.

Analysts noted that the sharp increase in Federal Government’s borrowing has the potential to compound the historic high inflationary trend in the country which may lead to further interest rate hikes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and by extension increased cost of borrowing for businesses and individuals.

The Federal Government borrows from domestic investors through issuance of FGN Bonds, FGN Savings Bonds, and Sukuk Bonds by the Debt Management Office, DMO. In addition to these are the Nigeria Treasury Bills, NTBs, issued by the CBN on behalf of the FG.

Analysis of data from the DMO and CBN showed that in the 12 months ending May 31st (June 2023 to May 2024), also the first year of Tinubu as president, the FG borrowed N20.09 trillion through these instruments, representing YoY increase of 117 per cent from the N9.275 trillion borrowed in the previous 12 months, namely June 2022 to May 2023.

Most of the increase in borrowing was through the NTBs auctions conducted by the CBN, which also constituted 66 per cent of FG’s domestic borrowing during the period.

Borrowing details

According to data from CBN, FG’s borrowing through NTBs rose YoY by 188 per cent to N13.235 trillion in the 12 months ending May 2024 from N4.592 trillion in the 12 months ending May 2023.

FG’s borrowing through the monthly FGN Bond auctions, which constituted 32.8 per cent of total domestic borrowing during the period, rose, YoY by 42 per cent to N6.476 trillion in the 12 months ending May 2024 from N4.537 trillion in 12 months ending May 2023.

FG’s borrowing through Sukuk Bonds, which accounted for 1.7 per cent of total domestic borrowing during the period, rose, YoY by 169 per cent to N350 billion in the 12 months ending May 2024 from N130 billion in the 12 months ending May 2023.

FG’s domestic borrowing through FGN Savings Bonds accounted for 1.5 per cent of total borrowing during the period, also spiked, rising YoY by 116 per cent to N29.17 billion in the 12 months ending May 2024 from N16.07 billion in the preceding 12 months ending May 2023.

Interest rate hike

Among other things, the 117 per cent YoY increase in FG’s domestic borrowing in the 12 months ending May 2024 was driven by investors’ response to the high interest rate regime during the period following hike in the Monetary Policy Rate, MPR by the CBN.

Analysis showed that the average MPR rose to 20.32 per cent in the 12 months ending May 2024, representing 4.11 percentage points increase from 16.21 per cent in the preceding 12 months ending May 2023.

As a result, the average interest rate on NTBs rose to 9.1 per cent in 12 months ending May 2024, representing 5.1 percentage points from 4.0 per cent in the preceding 12 months ending May 2023.

In the same vein, the average interest rate on FGN Savings Bond rose to 17.91 per cent at the May 2024 auction from 10.89 per cent at the May 2023 auction.

Analysts’ comments

Notwithstanding the influence of the high interest rate regime, analysts expressed concern that the sharp rise in FG’s borrowing from domestic investors is harmful to the private sector as it makes it costlier for businesses to borrow.

The analysts were however divided on the impact of the borrowings on inflation.

Commenting, Co-Founding Partner, Comercio Partners, a Lagos based investment bank, Nnamdi Nwizu, said: “The increase in borrowing by the government means that there will be more spending by the government, which will have a huge impact on inflation as it will drive demand for goods. Governments are always the largest spender in the world, so the more money they spend, the higher the attendant inflationary pressure. Note also that since they are borrowing at record levels, it means that when they are servicing the debt, they will put a lot more funds in the hands of the public.

“Lending to the Private Sector has been impacted with corporates issuing bonds and Commercial Papers at record levels.

“Whilst we continue to see a lot of issuances by the private sector (above 25% yields), we also see that the smaller corporates are struggling as the government is crowding them out. If an investor can invest in one year risk-free NTBs at 25% yields, they would naturally ask for a premium when lending to the private sector. How many companies can afford to borrow at these steep levels and still be profitable? Also, the higher lending rates will lead to inflationary pressures as the corporates have to increase prices to cover for the higher borrowing rates.

“With respect to fiscal policy, we are yet to see the borrowing by the government have an impact on fiscal policy. Yes, we have the Coastal roads being built, but we would like to see more with regards to policies to help increase production output in the economy. Also, we expect to see a significant increase in debt servicing costs, factoring in the higher rates and increase in domestic borrowing.

“With respect to monetary policy, whilst the Central Bank continues on its hawkish trend, we expect pressure from the government on the Central Bank as its debt service costs rise. The government cannot afford to borrow at these levels for an extended period of time. Government spending can also lead to more pressure on the currency as it means more Naira available to chase the greenback.”

Similarly, Head of Equity Research, FBN Securities Limited, Tunde Abidoye, said: “Government borrowing could potentially fuel inflationary pressures. In addition there’s an indirect effect on exchange rates. Also, there’s the crowding out effect for private sector lending. As it is, not many businesses can afford to borrow at the elevated interest rate. Finally, the monetary policy response to all this may be to continue to raise interest rates in a bid to tame the spiraling inflation.”

However, Chinazom Izuorah, Senior Associate, Investment Brokerage, differed on the impact of the FG’s domestic borrowing on inflation, though she also noted it will make it costly for businesses to borrow.

She said: “The Federal Government’s domestic borrowing program has not changed in the last year. The government’s calendar for offering FGN bonds, savings bonds and Treasury bills remains consistent and in line with historical practice.

“The reason for the increase in value is due to the increase in MPR and the knock-on effect on interest rates for the FGN securities.

“At interest rates of 17% and above, the government’s instruments are more attractive than in the previous year and consequently there is increased interest and participation. This is also consistent with the CBN’s objective of reducing inflation by mopping up liquidity. In simple terms, higher interest rates create an incentive to save.”

She stated the impact of this in terms of inflationary pressure is that with the greater incentive to save, there will be less money in circulation which is crucial to limiting inflation.

“In terms of lending to the private sector: Higher interest rates on government securities, which are considered the safest instruments, is a disincentive to lending to the private sector, which is considered riskier.

“Money tends to fly to safety. Banks, other financial institutions and fund managers have little incentive to take-on riskier assets when they can get attractive returns lending the funds to the government.

“On the fiscal policy front the government uses the funds raised through the issuance of securities to fund the national budget. The present administration has earmarked a significant portion of the budget to capital expenditures, portions will also be used to fund recurring expenditures and debt service.

“The higher interest rates mean that the government is paying a higher rate to investors.

“However domestic borrowing is more sustainable than external borrowing as the monies are borrowed in the local currency. Governments look to external borrowing due to lack of capacity to meet funding needs from the domestic market.

“There is a lot of benefit to having a financially literate citizenry and high domestic savings rates. The most critical issue for Nigeria and Nigerians is that monies are judiciously employed for the purposes they are raised and projects executed efficiently.

“The increase in domestic borrowing values is indicative of the success of the administration’s monetary policy positioning.

“It can be assumed that the sustained rise in the MPR has been favorably received by the market and has stimulated increased participation in the domestic bond market.”

 

Vanguard

Poverty and staggering debt remain the albatross on the shoulders of the federal government, 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the 774 Local Government Areas, despite sharing a whopping N17.9 trillion as the cumulative Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) revenue under President Bola Tinubu.

The figure, which is the highest by the Nigerian government in history, represents a 42.6 per cent surge when compared to N12.56 trillion it was a year earlier.

The increase sprang from the removal of petrol subsidy which freed more funds for monthly FAAC payouts.

The revelation came from a recent FAAC report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Widening poverty 

Regardless of the higher monthly subvention, a report from the World Bank indicates that Nigeria’s poverty rate rose from 40 percent in 2018 to 46 percent in December 2023. It means that the number of poor people increased from 79 million to 104 million.

According to the report, more people have fallen below the poverty line due to sluggish economic growth and rising inflation.

“Sluggish growth and rising inflation have increased the poverty rate from 40 percent in 2018 to 46 percent in 2023, pushing an additional 24 million people below the national poverty line,” the World Bank said.

The report added that the number of poor people in urban areas (more exposed to inflation) increased from 13 million to 20 million, while the number of poor people in rural areas rose to 84 million from 67 million within the same period.

The worst five states in poverty headcount rate for 2019, according to Statista are; Sokoto, 87.73%, Taraba, 87.72%, Jigawa, 97.02, Ebonyi, 79.76% and Adamawa, 75.41%

The lowest five states are; Lagos, 4.5%, Delta, 6%, Osun 8.5%, Ogun 9.3% and Oyo, 9.8%

Analysts say the figures have not improved because the factors responsible for the worsening poverty, like terrorism, climate change crisis, lack of farm input, inflation and others, are yet to abate.

The World Bank, however, predicted a silver lining, explaining that the increase in poverty rate will be undone by the recent reforms of President Bola Tinubu from 2024 onward, reversing the rise to 44 percent in 2026.

High sovereign debt 

Figures from the Debt Management Office (DMO) show that Nigeria’s total public debt stock as of December 31, 2023, was N97. 34 trillion or $108.229 billion.

Sub-national domestic debt stood at N5.863 trillion, while external debt stock was $4.61 billion.

Topping the debtor list is Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial hub, had an external debt of $1.24 billion in 2023. However, this figure is slightly less than the $1.25 billion in 2022. The slight decline is likely due to a dependance on more domestic debt, which is about N1.05 trillion. Following closely is Kaduna State, which has an external debt of $587.07 million in 2023, climbing from $573.74 million in the previous year. Also exposed to offshore lenders is Edo State with external debt jumping to $314.45 million in 2023 from $261.15 million in 2022.

Highest and lowest FAAC receivers 

An analysis by the whistler shows that Delta, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Lagos and Kano states got the highest FAAC allocation under Tinubu.

On the flip side, Gombe, Ekiti, Ogun and Cross-River States for the lowest.

Despite the fatter monthly FAAC income, there are genuine concerns as 15 Nigerian states have yet to implement the N30,000 minimum wage for their workers since it was signed into law in 2019.

Considering the humongous funds available to states, the organized labour is insisting on a monthly minimum wage of about N600,000 as millions of Nigerians battle multi-dimensional poverty.

According to BudgiT, even though 15 states are yet to implement the minimum wage of N30,000, the 36 states of the federation grew their cumulative personnel cost by 13.44 per cent to N1.75 trillion in 2022 from N1.54 trillion in 2021.

Also, these states grew their overhead bills by 23.42 per cent to N1.24 trillion in 2022.

Under the current administration Delta, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Lagos and Kano states got the highest FAAC revenue during the period.

However, at the end of the 10 months of February 2023 under former President Muhammadu Buhari, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Lagos and Kano states received the highest revenue.

Further breakdown showed that Delta state despite being the state with the most allocation in both periods, saw a decline of 3.77 per cent to N326.64 billion as against N339.44 billion it got under Buhari.

Rivers, which is the second state with the highest allocation under Tinubu, dropped by 0.88 per cent to N261.48 billion against the N263.79 billion which it got under Buhari.

Experts preach frugality 

Experts have pushed for more frugal management of resources across the three tiers of government so that the gains of good governance can cascade down to all nooks and crannies of the society.

The Director General, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) Muda Yusuf, said it was disheartening that development at the sub-national level has remained appalling, calling on governors to look beyond the state capital to develop the rural areas where the bulk of the citizens reside.

He said: “It’s not nice that poverty has continued to ravage the citizens despite higher FAAC disbursements.

“The additional revenue should be spent on projects that positively impact the lives of the people.

“It’s not about governors building flyovers at state capitals and neglecting many parts of their states.

“Look at what your citizens are predominantly engaged in. Are they farmers, fishermen, traders and so on? You invest in what they do so you make the state more inclusive, not just building airports, flyovers etc.

“Corruption is a major issue actually. The more money available, the more the corruption component of it.

“People should be made accountable. A system carrying too many parasites cannot grow.

The citizens should demand accountability and not just lament and go to bed after voting”, he said.

 

Sun

The Organised Labour said it has mobilised for full implementation of its indefinite nationwide strike over electricity tariff increase and new minimum wage for workers. 

NLC spokesperson, Benson Upah, told Daily Sun that a strike strategy meeting was held over the weekend to ensure that all affiliates and states were fully involved in the industrial action.

“Mobilisation is very high,” he said. On whether key sectors would be affected, the spokesperson replied: “Fully.”

The Medical & Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN),  Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and others have already issued strike notices to their branches and members. 

After several unsuccessful negotiations with the Tripartite Committee on the National New Minimum Wage, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Friday declared a nationwide strike over the refusal of the government to reverse its recent hike on electricity tariff and failure to reach an agreement on the new minimum wage.

NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said despite issuing ultimatums and staging protests, the government has failed to address the pressing issues at hand, including the hike in electricity tariffs and the fair determination of a minimum wage that is reflective of the current economic conditions.

A National Executive Council (NEC) member of ASUU said the various branches would join the state council of NLC at the start of the indefinite strike.

“ASUU as an affiliate of NLC will participate in the indefinite strike. Our members have been informed. No lecturer will  go to class as from tomorrow until when the NLC called off the strike”, he stated.

One of the branch chairmen of SSANU told Daily Sun that the national body has directed its members to join the national strike.

ASUP President, Shammah Kpanja said that his members have been mobilised for the indefinite strike and would not attend to students until the industrial action is suspended.

The Federal Government, however, described the planned nationwide strike as ineffectual, premature and illegal.

In a letter addressed to the presidents of the NLC and TUC, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi said the unions’ decision to embark on a strike came when the Federal Government and other stakeholders involved in the Tripartite Committee on the determination of a new national minimum wage had not declared an end to negotiations.

“You are aware that the Federal and State Governments are not the only employers to be bound by a new national minimum wage.

“Hence, it is vital to balance the interest and capacity of all employers of labour in the country, including the organised private sector, in order to determine a minimum wage for the generality of the working population.”

Fagbemi added that the organised labour unions failed to issue a mandatory 15-day strike notice in compliance with the Trade Disputes Act 2004 and the Trade Unions Act.

He said the planned strike was at odds with the order from the national industrial court in 2023, which restrained the unions from embarking on industrial actions.

“I would like to draw your attention to Sections 41(1) and 42(1) of the Trade Disputes Act 2004 tax amended, which requires both the NLC and the TUC to issue mandatory strike notices of a minimum of 15 days.

“It is pertinent to observe that at no time did either the NLC or the TUC declare a trade dispute with their employers or issue any strike notice as required by law for such strike action to be legitimate and lawful. It is not in doubt that the fundamental importance of the 15-day notice is underscored by the fact that sections 41 & 42 (1)(b) criminalise non-compliance with this requirement for a valid declaration of strike action.

“Consequent upon the foregoing, the call to industrial action is premature, ineffectual and illegal. The proposed strike action is also at variance with the order of the National Industrial Court and ongoing mediatory settlement efforts over issues connected with the subject matter of the order.”

NASS moves to avert strike

At press time, the National Assembly was in a meeting with the organised labour in a last move to avert the strike.

The meeting held at the Senate wing had in attendance the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, other principal officers, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume;  Minister of Finance, Wale Edun; Minister of State for Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and leaders of organised labour, amongst others in attendance.

Speaking before the meeting went into an executive session, Akpabio said the meeting was intended to find a resolution to issues surrounding a new minimum wage for the country.

He said there was a need to tread cautiously on the minimum wage to avoid creating new problems for workers, especially those in the private sector.

“I do know that Mr. President has set up a very serious committee to negotiate with labour. Secretary to Government, I am sure you have been deeply involved in the negotiation. The Head of Service, you have always been deeply informed.

“We are not taking over the work of the executive. We are not taking over the work of the TUC nor are we taking over the work of the NLC. We just said we should hear from you. It is very difficult to negotiate for peace in an atmosphere of crisis.

“If you are on strike it means you are no longer negotiating and Nigerian people are desirous of having a  closure to the issue of minimum wage. The government is very eager to meet the yearning of the people at least to a reasonable extent based on the economic reality, hence there is need for us to call all parties to the table and to hear from you as the people’s parliament. We are also on the side of the people. We are on your side the NLC and the TUC. And we are also on your side, the government and the executive. So we are on the side of all Nigerians. And above all, we are also workers. We are also labourers. What affects you affects us will affect you.

“We must also be mindful of collateral damage. I don’t want us, in the course of trying to arrive at minimum wage, we end up with serious issue of unemployment because as soon as we arrive at a minimum wage, we expect the private sector to also adhere and if we  are unable to do so, the next thing will  be retrenchment of workers. So, we will look at the issue. As we walk on the tight rope, we must do the balancing act.”

Similarly, the Speaker, Abbas, stated that the parliament was affected by the plight of the people.

He noted that one way of tackling corruption in the country was to pay workers a living wage. Regardless, the speaker stated that stakeholders should also be mindful that the damage of several decades cannot be addressed overnight.

“We have to start somewhere and then agree to a plan of what we can do to reach that level when every Nigerian worker can beat his chest and say I am earning enough to put food on the table. Enough to take care of my basics.

“My own is to say thank you to organised labour for even accepting to come to the National Assembly to give Nigerians and the government the hope that all is not lost; that we can continue interacting; that we can continue to dialogue on this very important subject matter, “ he stated.

On his part, Ajaero said the demand of organised labour for a new minimum wage was for the benefit of all Nigerians.

“What we are demanding is for all Nigerians. Your brothers. Your sisters. For everybody. Your constituents. That is why we must all reason together to find a solution to it. It is not for any of the leadership here, it has to do with all Nigerians and the way forward for this. We are quite committed to finding a way forward, finding a living wage, finding a survival wage and not starvation wage for Nigerians.”

Osifo added that the last one year has been difficult for workers. He explained that what organised labour was asking for is a wage that would enable workers, to at least, afford the basic necessities of life.

“A labourer deserves the rightful wage. And that’s the conversation that we have been having for some time. We all will agree that as a country, it is very difficult and excruciating for Nigerian workers.

“We all know very well that the value of the naira has been eroded to a very large extent. Things have been difficult. In the last one year, that difficulty has exacerbated that is why the minimum wage conversation is a big talk. And it’s a bit difficult because when you are negotiating under a difficult environment, it is always very difficult.

“For us, the last four months have been tough and Nigerians are waiting for us to give them a wage that at least could assist them  in paying transportation to work, could feed them, could house. These are basic necessities of life, not even a wage to buy a car or wage to build a house, but to meet the basic necessities of life.”

 

Sun

The Government of Germany has launched what it terms as ‘Opportunity Card‘ for skilled individuals outside the European Union (EU) to search for work opportunities in Germany. 

The portal where applicants were asked to apply showed Nigeria as one of the countries of residence of intending applicants. 

This was announced on Germany’s Federal Foreign Office Consular Services Portal on June 1, 2024. 

The Opportunity Card is a residence permit that allows workers from third countries to enter Germany to seek employment. 

Third countries are nations that are not part of the European Union. 

About Opportunity Card 

The Opportunity Card is issued for a period of up to one year but if one finds qualified employment during one’s stay, such a person can obtain a subsequent residence permit for the purpose of further searching (follow-up Opportunity Card) or taking up gainful employment from the local foreigners’ authority in Germany. 

The Government stated that when applying, one will need proof that his or her professional qualification is recognised by the state either in Germany or in the country in which it was obtained.  

“Proof that you will be able to support yourself for the duration of your stay in Germany can be provided in the form of a blocked account or a declaration of commitment, for example. At least 1,027 euros per month (as of 2024) are generally required. 

“During your stay for the purpose of finding a job, you have the opportunity to work up to 20 hours a week in a part-time job. In addition, you can take up trial jobs for up to two weeks at a time to familiarise yourself with potential jobs,” it added. 

Eligibility 

The following basic requirements must be fulfilled for the Opportunity Card on a points basis among others,  

“Completion of a degree or at least two years of training that is recognised by the state in which it was obtained, 

“German language skills at least at level A1 or English language skills at least at level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), 

 “Sufficient financial means to cover your living expenses for the duration of your stay in Germany.” 

A Guide for Nigerians 

For Nigerian applicants, the German government advised they follow up on Germany’s diplomatic mission in Nigeria for a visa. 

“You can only apply for your visa at the German mission responsible for you. The responsibility depends on the district in which you reside. If the online application is not available at your competent German mission, please apply for your visa on-site. You will find further information on the website of your German mission,” it stated. 

The call by Germany is the latest among foreign countries’ search for expertise around the world. 

Reports indicate a substantial increase in the number of Nigerian healthcare workers migrating to countries like the UK, Canada, and the US. 

 

Nairametrics

President Cyril Ramaphosa called on South Africa's political parties to work together for the good of the country as final results from last week's election confirmed his African National Congress had lost its majority for the first time.

The result, announced on Sunday, is the worst election showing for the ANC - Africa's oldest liberation movement, once led by Nelson Mandela - since it came to power 30 years ago, ending white minority rule.

Voters, angry at joblessness, inequality and rolling blackouts, slashed support for the ANC to 40.2%, down from 57.5% in the previous 2019 parliamentary vote.

Official results showed the ANC winning 159 seats in the 400-seat National Assembly, down from 230 previously.

The result means that the ANC must now share power, likely with a major political rival, in order to keep it - an unprecedented prospect in South Africa's post-apartheid history.

"South Africans expect the parties for which they have voted to find common ground, overcome their differences and act together for the good of everyone. That's what South Africans have said," Ramaphosa said after the electoral commission announced the final results.

He called the election a "victory for our democracy."

Political parties now have two weeks to work out a deal before the new parliament sits to choose a president, who would likely still hail from the ANC, since it remains the biggest force.

"This is the time for all of us to put South Africa first," Ramaphosa said.

ANC officials earlier on Sunday said the party was humbled by the result and had "nothing to celebrate" but stood by Ramaphosa, once Mandela's lead negotiator to end apartheid, and said they would not bend to pressure for him to step down.

The poor showing has fuelled speculation that Ramaphosa's days might be numbered, either due to the demands of a prospective coalition partner or as a result of an internal leadership challenge.

"That is a no-go area," Fikile Mbalula, the ANC's secretary general, told a press briefing, the party's first since the polls.

"Did we commit mistakes? Yes, we did. In governance and everywhere else," he said, adding that the ANC was now committed to forming a government "that is stable and that is able to govern effectively".

The ANC's leadership will meet on Tuesday to plot the path forward.

COSATU - South Africa's largest trade union group and a major ANC ally - also rallied behind Ramaphosa.

"What's key is that a coalition be led by the ANC and President Ramaphosa," COSATU spokesman Matthew Parks said.

'DOOMSDAY COALITION'

Before Wednesday's vote, the ANC had won every national election by a landslide since 1994, but over the last decade its support has waned.

The main opposition party, the white-led, pro-business Democratic Alliance(DA), received 21.8% of votes.

uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) - "spear of the nation" in the Zulu language - a new party led by former President Jacob Zuma named after the ANC's former armed wing, managed to take 14.6%, doing most of the damage to the ANC.

Despite doing better than expected, MK said it was considering challenging the results in court.

The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, got 9.5%.

The prospect of an ANC tie-up with either the EFF or MK has rattled South Africa's business community and international investors, who would prefer a coalition that brings in the DA.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said on the party's YouTube channel that it had named a team to begin talks with other parties with the aim of preventing such an alliance, which he called a "doomsday coalition".

"For the Democratic Alliance, burying our heads in the sand while South Africa faces its greatest threat since the dawn of democracy is not an option," he said.

The small Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a conservative Zulu party with a power base in KwaZulu-Natal province that won nearly 4% of the vote, was to meet separately on Sunday to discuss its next steps.

Local media reported that the DA could be open to entering a cooperation pact with the ANC, supporting it in key decisions in exchange for top jobs in parliament. The IFP would also be part of such a deal.

"I would almost certainly think (the ANC) wouldn't just go with the DA. They would most probably go with somebody like the IFP as well just because of the perception that the DA is a very white party," said Melanie Verwoerd, a political analyst.

 

Reuters

Biden's Gaza plan 'not a good deal' but Israel accepts it, Netanyahu aide says

An aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Sunday that Israel had accepted a framework deal for winding down the Gaza war now being advanced by U.S. President Joe Biden, though he described it as flawed and in need of much more work.

In an interview with Britain's Sunday Times, Ophir Falk, chief foreign policy advisor to Netanyahu, said Biden's proposal was "a deal we agreed to — it's not a good deal but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them".

"There are a lot of details to be worked out," he said, adding that Israeli conditions, including "the release of the hostages and the destruction of Hamas as a genocidal terrorist organisation" have not changed.

Later on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken held separate phone calls about the proposal with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Benny Gantz, a centrist minister who joined Netanyahu in an emergency coalition.

In the call with Gantz, Blinken "emphasized that Hamas should take the deal without delay," the department said in a statement.

In a separate statement, the State Department said that in the call with Gallant, Blinken "commended Israel’s readiness to conclude a deal" and "underscored that the proposal would advance Israel’s long-term security interests, including by enabling the possibility of further integration in the region." Biden, whose initial lockstep support for Israel's offensive has given way to open censure of the operation's high civilian death toll, on Friday aired what he described as a three-phase plan submitted by the Netanyahu government to end the war.

The first phase entails a truce and the return of some hostages held by Hamas, after which the sides would negotiate on an open-ended cessation of hostilities for a second phase in which remaining live captives would go free, Biden said.

That sequencing appears to imply that Hamas would continue to play a role in incremental arrangements mediated by Egypt and Qatar - a potential clash with Israel's determination to resume the campaign to eliminate the Iranian-backed Islamist group.

Biden has hailed several ceasefire proposals over the past several months, each with similar frameworks to the one he outlined on Friday, all of which collapsed. In February he said Israel had agreed to halt fighting by Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that began on March 10. No such truce materialised.

The primary sticking point has been Israel's insistence that it would discuss only temporary pauses to fighting until Hamas is destroyed. Hamas, which shows no sign of stepping aside, says it will free hostages only under a path to a permanent end to the war.

In his speech, Biden said his latest proposal "creates a better 'day after' in Gaza without Hamas in power". He did not elaborate on how this would be achieved and acknowledged that "there are a number of details to negotiate to move from phase one to phase two".

Falk reiterated Netanyahu's position that "there will not be a permanent ceasefire until all our objectives are met".

Netanyahu is under pressure to keep his coalition government intact. Two far-right partners have threatened to bolt in protest at any deal they deem to spare Hamas.

Hamas has provisionally welcomed the Biden initiative, though a senior official from the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, said on Sunday that "Hamas is too big to be bypassed or sidelined by Netanyahu or Biden."

A day earlier another Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera: "Biden's speech included positive ideas, but we want this to materialise within the framework of a comprehensive agreement that meets our demands."

Hamas wants a guaranteed end to the Gaza offensive, withdrawal of all invading forces, free movement for Palestinians and reconstruction aid.

Israeli officials have rejected that as an effective return to the situation in place before Oct. 7, when Hamas, committed to Israel's destruction, ruled Gaza. Its fighters precipitated the war by storming across the border fence into Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

In the ensuing Israeli assault that has laid waste to much of the impoverished and besieged coastal enclave, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed, Gaza medical officials say. Israel says 290 of its troops have died in the fighting.

 

Reuters

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

Scholz to Putin: we will defend 'every square inch' of NATO territory

NATO's recent move to strengthen its eastern border is aimed at deterring Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday, adding that it should be clear to Moscow that the alliance will be ready to defend itself if necessary.

Speaking at the Eastern German Economic Forum also attended by Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, Scholz said Germany has played a leading role in NATO's presence in the Baltics on Russia's border, stretching back nearly a decade.

"And because the threat from Russia will continue, we and other allies decided last year to deploy additional units to the Baltic states and to station an entire brigade there permanently in future," Scholz said, according to a speech manuscript.

"But this turnaround in security policy is necessary to show Russia: We are prepared to defend every square inch of NATO territory against attacks."

He said diplomacy would only be successful from a position of strength, adding that it was absolutely vital that Baltic states could fully rely on NATO allies jumping to their defence in the event of a Russian attack.

"And that is a message for us. But it is also a message to Russia. Because the credibility of this promise is of course also part of Russia's calculation."

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week warned NATO members against allowing Ukraine to fire their weapons into Russia, after several Western allies lifted restrictions imposed on the use of weapons donated to Kyiv.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Friday dismissed the warnings, saying the alliance had heard them many times before and self-defence was not escalation.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Hundreds protest Ukraine aid in Berlin

Hundreds of protesters marched in the German capital, Berlin, on Saturday, demanding a halt to military aid for Kiev and the “dangerous” anti-Russia rhetoric. This comes on the heels of explosive statements from the German government earlier this week regarding Ukraine’s use of Western-supplied weapons for strikes deep inside Russia.

Footage from the demonstration shows protesters marching from Berlin’s Alexanderplatz with flags and banners reading: “Stop war and hate speech against Russia,” “Stop Russophobia in Politics and Media,” and “NATO is the aggressor not Russia.” Activists accused the German government of making political decisions “on orders from Washington,” and warned of the consequences of a direct conflict with Moscow.

“The German government is not sovereign... When you see how the German government destroyed its economy with agreeing with Washington… then you see Germany is not in control of the situation,” an activist who identified himself as George told Ruptly video agency. He added that the government’s decision to give Kiev “weapons that can reach Russia” makes Germany “a partner in this war,” creating a situation which is “very dangerous for Germany, for Germans, and the rest of the world.”

Another activist called on Berlin to “do everything it can to ensure that no war economy is necessary and that no land war comes.”

NATO and its Western allies have provided weapons and equipment to Ukraine, but maintained restrictions on their use. However, Kiev has recently intensified calls to relax the restrictions, especially those limiting its ability to strike targets in Russia. Several NATO states have spoken in favor of the move, including Germany.

Earlier this week, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Berlin believes Kiev’s “defensive action is not limited to its own territory, but [can] also be expanded to the territory of the aggressor.” On Friday, he went on to signal that Kiev can use the weapons supplied by the West to attack Russian border regions from which the Ukrainian army’s positions in Kharkov Region are attacked.

Moscow has warned that Western arms supplies to Kiev will only prolong the conflict. Commenting on talk within NATO regarding Ukraine’s use of Western-supplied weapons to strike deep inside Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the bloc of provoking a new “round of tensions.”

“They are doing this deliberately, we hear a lot of hawkish statements… They are in every possible way provoking Ukraine to continue this senseless war. They themselves intend to continue the war with us, the war in both the literal and figurative sense,” he told reporters on Thursday.

 

Reuters/RT

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, he also believes to be true” – Demosthenes, 384-322 BC, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p 224

If you honestly believe that the Lagos-Calabar Road will be completed in seven years, then you probably have rocks where brains should be; and you represent one of the cardinal reasons Africa might never develop for centuries to come. Nothing is more distressing than watching highly educated, erudite, well-informed and apparently patriotic media commentators destroy their reputations once they become officials of the ruling party.

The transformation first struck me when President Yar’Adua was elected; and several highly-respected editors and columnists were appointed to high office. The less said about that episode, the better. But, the matter did not end there. Jonathan succeeded Yar’Adua and individuals who were previously contemptuous of GEJ were again appointed to high office. Suddenly, they became ferocious defenders of the man they once condemned. Apparently, with regard to some Nigerian media personalities, “every man has his price”. Nobody should believe us until we are appointed to high office. Then media men reveal our true colours.

That is only a preamble to the matters arising concerning the biggest project in Nigerian history. My senior in the media, Dan Agbese, writing in the DAILY TRUST, two Sundays ago, had lamented the nation’s atrocious record with regard to abandoned projects. He briefly mentioned the Lagos-Calabar coastal road while expressing fears that the road might also join the league of such projects. I sent Dan a short message stating without fear that the road might never be completed; that it will stop any time Tinubu ceases to be President of Nigeria. Even Vice President Shettima if he succeeds Tinubu will not continue it because the decision to embark on it was hastily made.

SEVERAL QUESTIONS NEEDING ANSWERS

Before Tinubu’s Halleluyah chorus group – editors, Chairmen of the Editorial Board, columnists and guest writers – get all worked up, I am only asking them to be professional, honourable and to put on their thinking caps and answer a few questions. They might just be able to convince other Nigerians that this is not a bogus venture which will cost Fellow Nigerians trillions of naira later – without yielding the returns on investment promised.

The place to start this discussion is to establish some facts (facts are sacred as they claim, but don’t always practice) which are incontestable about this project.

One, it is the largest project in Nigerian history; covering nine coastal states each with different topology and all of which are now well-settled. Two, the road to be carved out will be 700 kilometres long; may be an African record, but, by far short of the Guinness Book of Records – which is the coastal road from Canada to South America – 30,000 kilometres long which took nearly 80 years to complete. Three, although, the Federal Government has embarked on it, through a ‘SWEET HEART’ deal with a contractor, nobody actually knows how much it would cost the nation. But, over N1 trillion has been paid in advance to the preferred contractor. Four, it is doubtful if any of the state Governors, except Lagos, knows exactly where the road will pass through their states and what they will be asked to surrender to the FG for demolition. It is quite possible that no state has been formally requested to donate land for this purpose. Five, it is uncertain that the National Assembly, NASS, was informed and its consent sought to embark on the journey. Six, whose brainchild was the idea? When and how was the original proposal presented to the Federal Executive Council for deliberations? Bearing in mind that Ministers were not appointed until August 2023, when did David Umahi know that this gigantic project was going to fall on his laps? How many pages of document were originally sent to his office to convince the engineer that this is a project that can be executed in seven years?

Seven, the President, while launching the project in Lagos State, on May 29, 2024, proclaimed that the “Coastal highway will boost 30 million businesses” – according to various media reports. If you believe that drivel, then you will believe anything.

Permit me to start from number seven; to ask the questions which Tinubu’s true believers would not ask – for a simple reason. I still strongly believe, like I. F Stone, 1907-1989, that “every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed,” – until they are fact-checked and found to be true. When the statement credited to a government official, irrespective of position, points to future expectations, then, the first thing to do is to determine the credibility of the speaker. The second thing is to subject the statement to critical analysis in order to assess whether available information supports it. If there is one thing politicians do routinely, and without remorse, it is to make empty promises – which their fanatical party members and media mercenaries spread as gospel truth. It is expected that some erudite media practitioners are already writing and talking as if 30 million businesses have been boosted. But, wait a minute.

How many businesses are there in Nigeria now? All the attempts to obtain a more current set of data were frustrated by Nigeria’s lack of a timely data base. The closest available was from moniepoint.com, which revealed that “39,654,385 macro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) operated in Nigeria in 2020; as against 41,543,028 in 2017.” DAILY TRUST chipped in the information that 3.1 million registered companies existed in 2019. Given the fact that Nigeria’s manufacturing sector had been shedding members, it is doubtful if the numbers of MSMEs and registered companies would have increased significantly since 2020 from approximately 42 million businesses. Tinubu, and his disciples, would want us to believe that 70 per cent of the nation’s businesses will be boosted by the coastal highway.

The first question is: How stupid do these people think we are? The second is: Can anybody publish within 48 hours the perspective study undertaken to arrive at the self-deceptive figure? Third, since this is not the first coastal highway ever built, can anybody in that government point to another precedent to assure Nigerians that this “road to nowhere” will boost 30 million businesses nationwide? I have a hunch. This brainwave originated from the same source(s) where the announcement of MAERSK Shipping Lines agreeing to invest $600 million in Nigerian ports. That hoax was actually supported with fake audio-visual presentation which was a tissue of lies. Why believe them now?

Now, we return to the first statement of fact. A federal road, 700 kilometres long, passing through nine states is contemplated in a country where the FG does not have a square inch of road to call its own, on account of the Land Use Decree of 1978, the obvious questions are: When were the Governors told of the peoples’ land they would be asked to forfeit? Can somebody show Nigerians a copy of the letter making the request? Obviously, all the Governors have an obligation to their people.

Granted, most of them behave like emperors once elected. But, there must be a limit to impunity. Is it possible that all the Governors – majority belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, conspired with their APC colleagues to deny the people of every state the right to know that their ancestral lands were being offered to the FG; and that millions of them would be rendered homeless, jobless and destitute? Which Governor, worthy of the office, can come out and admit to such betrayal of his people? And why?

I strongly believe the Governors were ambushed and bullied to submit to the FG.

The seeds of future conflict might have been sown by this conspiracy of silence.

The road might not go beyond the boundary of Ogun State.

To be continued….

 

Vanguard

When values conflict, leaders must adopt a relational approach to resolution.

Employees who experience value conflicts with your organization do not intend to be difficult when they speak up. The misalignment of their values with those of the organization profoundly affects them and that misalignment feels unsustainable.

When the rules or culture of the organization go against the core beliefs or identities of individuals, it leads to a conflict of values.

These value conflicts compel people to speak up. If it is not safe for them to speak up, they will likely choose to disengage from the workplace culture. 

These conflicts are not typically personality-driven, nor are they about status or a specific project. Value conflicts go to the very core of an individual's sense of belonging.

Because of the weightiness of value conflicts, they can be difficult to resolve and adversely affect the individual, team and entire workplace environment.

Why are value conflicts so difficult to navigate?

Your values are your judgments of what is important in life. These personal judgments are based on an individual's ethical, political, and religious beliefs.

Organizations also have a shared set of values. Organizational values may be explicit or implicit, but they exist regardless of whether they are clearly identified and acknowledged.

Today, many companies have established an onboarding process that introduces employees to the company's values and policies.

Ongoing training on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), self-care, mental health and professional development fosters a sense of belonging and creates a positive workplace culture.

Regular discussions about company values give everyone in the company an opportunity to raise value conflicts and allow leaders to reexamine the company's values. 

Even the most engaging and people-centered organizations face value conflicts. For example:

  • Business partners disagree about whether a long-term client crossed an ethical line and, if a line was crossed, how to address it.
  • A staff member reports discrimination by a manager who they believe treats them differently than the rest of the team.
  • An employee experiences extreme anxiety, stress, and overwhelm due to recent firings that tripled their workload.

When an employee's values are not aligned with the values of the organization, the individual may feel like they are being taken advantage of or disrespected. They often don't feel like a valued member of the organization.  

You might think their reaction is more severe than necessary, but when someone's core values are violated, they feel threatened – as if their very safety is at risk.

If conversations around value conflicts are not navigated thoughtfully, both parties will experience increased stress and resentment and your employee will likely disengage from work.  

Your role as a leader is to understand more about the value conflicts in your organization and the impact of those conflicts on your team.

When a team member raises concerns about a value conflict, understand that they are taking a risk and are likely afraid that you won't understand their concerns or that you might see them as disagreeable or problematic.

It's also important to note that value conflicts may not be raised directly but might present as a heated exchange or an uncompromising negotiation. 

By addressing the situation constructively, you will not only learn about the conflict and how it impacts your team and the organization but also whether you can resolve the conflict.  

Seven steps to resolve value conflicts

When values come into the mix, you must adopt a relational approach. In other words, you must try to put yourself in the other person's shoes to learn about their experience.

And since this could be a sensitive topic to discuss, be thoughtful and sincere. Consider planning for the conversation by reviewing these seven steps:

  1. Know your deal breakers. Every organization should have standards of conduct that indicate what is acceptable. Some standards are hard-and-fast rules; others may evolve over time. Understand which is which before engaging in a value conflict discussion.
  2. Reach out and connect directly with your employee. Begin by letting them know you want to talk with them to better understand what is taking place and how it affects them.
  3. Tell your employee they matter. Let your team member know they are important to you and the organization. Don't assume they know how you feel.
  4. Be curious. Ask questions from a place of curiosity to better understand your employee's perspective. Ask them about the facts of what is going on and the impact of the value conflict on them, their family and the organization. Give them time to answer your questions and listen without interrupting them.
  5. Remind yourself not to get defensive or upset. Stay focused on understanding your employee's values, even if they do not align with yours or those of the organization. Remain calm and respectful.
  6. Express your appreciation. Let your team member know that you appreciate them for taking the time to engage in this important conversion. Offer compassion for their situation and gratitude for helping you understand the situation and its impact.
  7. Don't immediately decide how to proceed. Think through the value conflict, consult with others in the company and seek legal advice if necessary.

Not every value conflict can be resolved

When I was growing up, my father was a successful salesman in the lighting industry. Arnold Roberts took pride in his work and valued his relationships with his long-time customers and fellow salespeople. He believed relationships should be built on trust. 

He worked for the same company for years, steadily building his career. When a large corporation acquired that company, he was promoted to national sales manager. 

Initially, he was excited to be promoted to a leadership position. But it didn't last. 

My father was told to "crack the whip" with his sales team and informed that "no one's job is safe". The new leadership told him to stop being friends with his customers and sales team.

The new management was focused entirely on the bottom line, with no regard for the relationships and trust my father had fostered over the years. Instead, they directed him to make sure no customer left the showroom floor until they signed a new deal. 

My father refused. 

His sales team was performing well, and their numbers consistently increased. He knew it was better to encourage and support his team than to pressure them and create a hostile work environment that would diminish performance.

He also knew it was better to partner with his customers to solve their problems and not see them as nothing more than walking wallets.  

He was fired less than one year after his promotion. 

My father valued relationships; the company valued sales quotas. My father believed that relationships should be built on trust; the company believed in taking whatever action was necessary to make the deal.

My father's approach was relational; the company's approach was transactional. There was no room for compromise.

My father took great pride in his work and was devastated by the loss of his job. But he never regretted his decision to speak up against the company's decision to prioritize profit over people. And he never regretted his decision not to compromise his values. 

Regardless of your role in the company, it's essential to address all conflicts respectfully. When it comes to value conflicts, you must be sensitive to the situation and open to listening without judgment.

Only then can you determine whether there's room for compromise or if separation is the only sustainable path forward.

 

Inc

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