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Coker – Odusote: 100 Days at the Helm of NIMC

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Coker – Odusote: 100 Days at the Helm of NIMC

By Walter Duru, Ph.D

It was Albert Einstein that once said that “setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” That sentiment expressed by Einstein is the primary essence behind the theory of transformational leadership, which requires passion, charisma, and the ability to motivate others. Transformational leaders are usually very authentic, emotionally intelligent, great listeners, results-focused, visionary, and self-aware.

In just 100 days at the helm of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote has ushered in a new era of transformational leadership, leaving an indelible mark on the organization. Her eventual confirmation as substantive Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Commission did not come to many as a surprise.

She did not waste time to hit the ground running and showed commitment to advancing the NIMC’s mission and mandate.

Coker-Odusote has taken steps to streamline National Identity Number (NIN) registration processes, while addressing the long-standing challenges associated with identity registration in Nigeria. This, she is handling through strategic restructuring and the integration of advanced technologies with a view to significantly reduce waiting time and enhance the overall efficiency of the system.

Today, date of birth and other kinds of modifications at NIMC happen within 48 hours. The several years backlog of date of birth modifications she inherited are almost cleared, as she had given a one-month deadline for the same to relevant staff of the Commission.

Again, responses to issues and complaints, such as those whose National Identity Numbers did not hit the NIN Verification Portal are now resolved within 24 hours.

Recognizing the paramount importance of data security in the digital age, the NIMC CEO has taken steps to enhance data security by introducing robust measures to fortify the protection of citizens’ sensitive information. This includes, but not limited to the adoption of cutting-edge encryption technologies and the establishment of a dedicated cybersecurity team.

Her interest in improving service delivery at NIMC cannot be overemphasized. She has concluded plans to ensure regular training and retraining for staff of the Commission, emphasizing customer-centric approaches, to ensure a more positive experience for citizens seeking identity services.

On partnerships, Coker-Odusote, leveraging her extensive network and expertise, has forged strategic partnerships with governmental agencies, private organizations, and international bodies. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management.

Understanding the pivotal role of technology in modernizing identity management, Engr. Coker-Odusote has spearheaded the integration of biometric advancements and artificial intelligence into the registration and verification processes.

This not only improves accuracy, user experience and ease of enrolment, but also positions NIMC at the forefront of technological innovation in identity management. A typical example is the NIMC Contactless Biometric Solution, which delivers a best-in-class fingerprint and facial capture image output quality, powered by Artificial Intelligence. The new solution was unveiled by the commission at the 2023 Identity Day, held in Abuja on September 16, 2023.

In addition, Engr. Coker-Odusote tackled the existing backlog of unprocessed identity requests head-on. Through a combination of strategic staff deployment and redeployment, process optimization, and digitization initiatives, she has made significant strides in clearing the backlog, demonstrating her commitment to prompt and efficient service delivery.

Recognizing the crucial role played by the NIMC staff in achieving organizational goals, the CEO has developed for implementation, a robust welfare programme aimed at boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment. This includes, but not limited to training opportunities, health benefits, and performance recognition initiatives.

Furthermore, in consultation with in-house experts, elaborate public awareness campaigns are being planned, to ensure that citizens are well-informed about the importance and benefits of identity registration. These campaigns are expected to not only educate the public, but also serve to demystify the registration process, encouraging greater participation.

The NIMC DG has concluded plans to take the ecosystem enrolment forward by taking steps to deepen collaboration with ecosystem implementing partners, supporting to ensure the success and optimal performance of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project, a Nigerian Project jointly funded by The World Bank, The European Investment Bank, and the French Development Agency.

Engr. Coker-Odusote’s strategic vision, commitment to efficiency, and emphasis on technological innovation positions NIMC for a future where identity management is not only secure but also seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of citizens.

On anti-corruption, the NIMC DG has left no one in doubt on her determination to sanitize the system, entrench a culture of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption. Apart from putting systems and structures in place to discourage graft, she is directly involved in ensuring that the cankerworm has no place in the commission.

Just recently, in what one may describe as a sting operation, she paid an unscheduled visit to the Federal Capital Territory office of the commission, where she is reported to have arrested some staff for allegedly extorting money from Nigerians, even as she has maintained that enrolment was free.

Her devotion to supporting the policy direction of the present administration by strengthening the issuance of the NIN for access to service is not in doubt.

Speaking on Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office as NIMC CEO, Project Coordinator, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Musa Odole Solomon described her as a vibrant, results-focused leader, determined to make a difference in the Commission.

“She has taken steps to build bridges of collaboration between NIMC and partners within the country’s identity ecosystem. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for the betterment of identity management in Nigeria.”

“The collaboration is also focused on enhancing handshake with institutions involved in the country’s identity ecosystem, with a view to deepening integration with the country’s Identity Management System.”

“In 100 days, she has taken the lead in working with the Nigeria Digital ID4D Project to speed up project implementation process, especially, processes geared towards the extension of NIN enrolment to hard-to-reach areas, women, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups, thereby fostering inclusion and access to social services.”

“She has introduced some innovations that I consider very progressive, and things are moving very well. The Nigeria Digital ID4D Project is happy to work with her, as she has shown that she has all it takes to assist us succeed.”

Responding to a question on his impression about the NIMC DG’s leadership style and the future of the relationship between NIMC and his organisation, Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Hon. Nasir Isa Kwarra stressed that the relationship between NIMC and NPC has become more robust under Coker-Odusote’s leadership as NIMC CEO.

“I want to say that the National Population Commission has a long and robust collaborative partnership with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in our efforts to harmonize and integrate biometric databases for planning and development of our country.”

“However, this partnership has become more dynamic and robust with the assumption into office of Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote as the Director General of NIMC. She has shown an unparalleled commitment and passion in working with the Commission, not only in registration of births and deaths, but also the upcoming population census. She comes across as a thoroughbred professional and innovator who will give Africa’s greatest nation a deserved identity profile for national unity, security, and development. I am more confident in the future of the Identity Management Commission under her.”

Responding to a question on the new grounds covered at the NIMC ICT, Director, IT/Identity Database of the Commission, Chuks Onyepunuka has this to say:

“Our DG is pragmatic, proactive, result-oriented and visionist. Her achievements in ICT in NIMC in the last 100 days include, but not limited to: “launching of self-modification and enrolments services to ease and simplify the processes for enrolment services; driving the clearing of about 3 million backlog of enrolment records awaiting manual adjudication within 3 weeks; decentralization of operations with objectives of ensuring that we are closer to the enrolees and adequate coverage in the nooks and crannies of the country.”

“Others are improvement in the process of engaging and revalidating our Frontend Enrolment Partners (FEPs); improvement in our ICT policies, processes and procedures; resolution of 95% challenges/issues affecting our window enrolment software (Res-Web) and commenced the integration and harmonization with National Population Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).”

Adding her voice, NIMC’s Director, Business Development and Commercial Services, Mrs. Carolyn Folami described the DG as a thoroughbred professional, committed to resetting the Commission for the good of the nation.

“It has been only 100 days, but it seems she has been here far longer, as within this period, we have achieved a couple of goals towards resetting the NIMC agenda and resettling the NIMC staff for productivity.”

“Starting with the planning and commencement of training of all staff, to the commitment to all Front-End Partners (FEP) to revalidate the business model for fair play and payment. She is very keen on stakeholder engagement and has secured the buy- in of our harmonisation partners for effectiveness. She is professional, thorough, dedicated, and above all, kind to all.

Adding his voice, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Project Implementation Unit, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Dr. Emmanuel Akogun argued that Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days in office were characterised by “dynamic, focused and results – oriented leadership,” adding that there is steady progress in NIN enrolment, with “103,500,000 Nigerians and other legal residents captured in the NIMC Database.”

There is therefore no gainsaying the fact that Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s first 100 days as CEO of the NIMC have been marked by a series of commendable achievements.

At this point, one can confidently say that with Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote as Chief Executive Officer, NIMC is in safe hands.

Her recent confirmation as substantive Director General/CEO of the Commission is clearly an act of patriotism by the Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

However, as she commences a full tenure of office, following her recent confirmation, one expects that the standard is not lowered.

As she marks 100 days in office this week, the most challenging part of Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s journey as Chief Executive Officer of the NIMC is the need to sustain the successes recorded, remain focused, deepen stakeholder engagement and public enlightenment, check corruption, strengthen systems and structures, be fair to all, while supporting the policy direction of the present administration.

Deliberate steps must be taken to ensure the sustenance of the war against extortion at NIMC.

Again, a deliberate plan should be in place to ensure a more robust stakeholder collaboration, particularly with those involved in the country’s identity ecosystem.

Elaborate, sustained communication and public enlightenment activities are required, taking advantage of the conventional and unconventional channels of communication to inform, educate and mobilize the citizens on the need for all to register for the NIN. This requires a deliberate strategy and strategic implementation.

Finally, a deliberate inclusion strategy must be in place and vigorously implemented to ensure that no one is left behind.

As the DG continues to lead with passion and purpose, NIMC is poised for even greater accomplishments under her guidance.

Indeed, NIMC is in safe hands!

Dr. Walter Duru (Assistant Professor of Communication and Multimedia Design) is a Communication/Public Relations Strategist, Researcher and Consultant. He could be reached on walterchike@gmail.com

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NIMC, Online Publishers Roundtable: Implications and Future Directions

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NIMC, Online Publishers Roundtable: Implications and Future Directions

By Walter Duru, Ph.D

The digital age has reshaped how we consume and disseminate information, with online media playing a crucial role in shaping public perception and opinion.

Recognizing this, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), with support from the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project, recently organized a two-day roundtable with online newspaper publishers in Nigeria.

The Roundtable, held in two batches, at Lagos and Abuja, respectively, provided participants the opportunity to understand and appreciate the activities, strategy, approach, achievements, and challenges of NIMC. It was the first of its kind, since the establishment of the commission.

This collaborative initiative underscores the importance of dialogue between regulatory bodies and media stakeholders in shaping the future of identity management in the country. It marks a significant step toward enhancing communication, collaboration, and mutual understanding between NIMC and digital media stakeholders.

The roundtable, themed “Building Trust and Collaboration in the Digital Age: Enhancing Communication Between NIMC and Online Publishers,” aimed to bridge the gap between NIMC and the digital media.

It provided an opportunity for NIMC to articulate its mandate, vision, activities, and achievements directly to the publishers while addressing some misconceptions surrounding its operations. The roundtable laid the foundation for future interactions and collaborative efforts.

The event was also designed to foster a partnership that leverages the strengths of online media to support NIMC’s mission and to ensure accurate dissemination of information.

In her opening remarks at the event, NIMC Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote emphasized the importance of building strong relationships with the media to combat misinformation and to enhance the visibility of NIMC’s efforts.

“As we gather here today, we are united by a common goal: to build formidable bridges between the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the influential voices of the online media landscape.”

“In the digital age, the influence of online media cannot be overstated. The internet has become a primary source of information for many, particularly the youth. However, it is also a breeding ground for misinformation and rumours, which can severely impact the reputation and trust in organizations.”

“Our focus today is to address the dual role of online publishers – as key partners in disseminating accurate information and as potential sources of misconceptions. We recognize that while you have the power to amplify our successes, there is also the potential for misunderstandings that can spread rapidly.”

“This Roundtable aims to forge a partnership that leverages your strengths to support our mission while ensuring that any misconceptions are promptly and accurately addressed.”

“Pursuant to our commitment to transparency and accountability, we have instituted robust mechanisms for participation, grievance redress, and regular monitoring to enhance operational performance and mitigate social risks.”

“Let me also use this medium to remind you all that enrolment for the National Identification Number (NIN) is free of charge in Nigeria.”

“Taking advantage of this meeting, we hope to provide you with comprehensive insights into NIMC’s activities, objectives, strategies, achievements, and challenges. This knowledge is vital for you to disseminate accurate information to the public.”

“It is also expected that we discuss your roles in the forthcoming NIMC Ecosystem Enrolment exercise, ensuring you understand how you can contribute to this national effort.”

“Let me use this medium to, once again, reassure Nigerians, at home, and in the diaspora that robust measures are in place to safeguard the nation’s database from cyber threats. Under my leadership, NIMC has an unwavering commitment to upholding ethical standards in data protection. Cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies are in place to protect the database.”

Earlier in her remarks, Coordinator, Project Implementation Unit, Nigeria Digital ID4D Project, Tito Ejenavi, highlighted the project’s development objective – to increase the number of persons with a National Identity Number (NIN) through a robust and inclusive foundational identity system.

“By strengthening our national identity infrastructure, we aim to bolster Nigeria’s digital economy, enhance data protection, and close the inclusion gaps that hinder access to identification and related key services,” she explained.

Also, in his remarks, Deputy President, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) and Publisher of NewsdiaryOnline, Danlami Nmodu, pledged the continued support and collaboration of online publishers to the commission.

The roundtable featured a series of presentations, interactive sessions, and case studies, aimed at educating participants about NIMC’s operations, strategy, achievements, and plans.

Notable presentations included “NIMC: Mandate, Approach, Operations and Strategy” by Festus Esangbedo and “Understanding Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote’s 5-Point Agenda for NIMC” by Dr. Alvan Ikoku.

Others are: “Front End Partners in NIN Enrolment: Essence, Approach, Benefits and Challenges”, by Carolyne Folami; “Nigeria Digital ID4D Project and the Ecosystem Enrolment”, by Chinenye Chizea’; “Improvements to NIMC Infrastructure: Implications to Data Integrity, Privacy and Security”, by Chinenye Chizea, and “Online Publishers and Realization of the NIMC Mandate”, By Dr. Walter Duru.

These sessions provided comprehensive insights into the commission’s efforts to maintain a secure, robust and inclusive national identity system.

For online publishers, the roundtable underscored the importance of their role in the national identity management ecosystem. As digital gatekeepers, they have the power to shape narratives and influence public perceptions. The collaboration with NIMC presents an opportunity to enhance their reporting with accurate and comprehensive information directly from the source.

The NIMC’s engagement with online publishers is a strategic move to enhance transparency and build public trust in the National Identity Number (NIN) system. By involving the media, NIMC can ensure accurate and timely dissemination of information, addressing public concerns and misinformation about the digital identity process.

The roundtable provided an opportunity for NIMC to clarify its objectives, challenges, and progress. Online publishers, armed with this knowledge, can produce more informed and insightful content, fostering a more supportive and educated public opinion. This improved understanding can lead to more nuanced reporting, highlighting the benefits and addressing the drawbacks of the NIN system.

As the media amplify the discussions from the roundtable, the general populace stands to benefit from increased awareness about the importance of digital identity. This awareness is crucial for driving the widespread adoption of the NIN, which is essential for the success of various government initiatives aimed at improving service delivery and socio-economic development.

Feedback from online publishers provided NIMC with valuable insights into public sentiment and practical challenges faced by citizens. This collaborative feedback loop can inform policy adjustments and operational improvements, ensuring that the NIN system evolves to meet the needs and expectations of Nigerians effectively.

The outcomes of the roundtable were promising, with enhanced understanding of NIMC’s mandate and activities, strengthened relationships, and the establishment of effective communication bridges between NIMC and online publishers.

To sustain this momentum, several next steps were identified, such as establishing regular communication channels between NIMC and online publishers to ensure continuous engagement and prompt resolution of issues, periodic meetings, among others.

The time has therefore come for NIMC to create a structured framework for ongoing collaboration with online media. This can lead to sustained media support and effective dissemination of information about NIMC’s initiatives.

A comprehensive public education campaign, supported by the media, is essential for demystifying the NIN process and highlighting its benefits.

NIMC, in collaboration with online publishers, can develop and disseminate educational content that addresses common misconceptions and encourages participation in the digital identity system.

Organizing training sessions for online publishers and other media stakeholders on NIMC’s systems and processes will enhance their understanding and reporting accuracy.

By working together, NIMC and online publishers can enhance the visibility, trust, and goodwill of the commission, ensuring that accurate and effective information reaches the public.

No doubt, NIMC’s roundtable with online publishers represents a forward-thinking approach to governance and stakeholder engagement. It highlights the importance of collaboration between national institutions and digital media in fostering a well-informed and inclusive society.

This initiative is not only timely but also critical, given the increasing reliance on digital platforms for information dissemination. It sets the stage for improved public awareness and education on the importance of digital identity.

This partnership is not just beneficial to NIMC but also aligns with the social responsibility obligation of online publishers to inform and educate the public accurately.

As we move forward, sustained engagement, technological innovation, and comprehensive public education will be key to unlocking the full potentials of the NIN and ensuring that it serves as a cornerstone for Nigeria’s digital future.

With the foundation laid for a productive relationship, the future looks promising for NIMC and the online media community.

All hands must be on deck!

Dr. Chike Walter Duru, an Associate Professor of Mass Communication, is a communication expert and Public Relations strategist. He could be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com.

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Exploring the prospects for sustainable youth engagement in Kano State, by Eng. Ali Goni

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Exploring the prospects for sustainable youth engagement in Kano State, by Eng. Ali Goni

One of the biggest problems confronting several major cities in the country today is the severity of youth redundancy and the resulting impact on the social setup. The situation is far more serious in cities where hitherto functioning factories which were engaging many capable youths into remunerative employment have largely now become comatose. Even if these factories are now restored to full production, they cannot entirely engage the teeming youths in the cities.

Government employment opportunities may indeed have reached pliable limits. Meanwhile, schools have continued to produce more graduates with no capacity to engage in self-employment.

A close study of Kano town which absorbs a large population not only from rural areas of the state but from many neighbouring states requires more than mundane management of the situation. Some form of Marshall Plan is needed. This situation is reflected in the huge crowd that turned out in almost all events in Kano.

The state is blessed with over 12 largely underutilized and reasonably large water dams. The dams include Tiga developed in 1984 with 1.5 billion cubic meters, Challawa developed in 1978 with a capacity of 1.2 billion cubic meters and Goronyo developed in 1991 with a capacity of 1.5 billion cubic meters. These are massive water reservoirs with huge content for all-season use! They are potential economic bubbles that must be fully exploited. The other earth dams include Watari, Bagauda, Jakara, Warwade, Tudunwada, Danladi and Dangora.

The efforts of the past planners and visionary leaders of the state in the development of these dams should not go in vain. The structures are on the ground and proper investments can lead to a major economic boost for the state. Kadawa irrigation scheme in Kano, for example, is alive and provides excellent livelihood to the citizens of the villages in the vicinity. This should be replicated in all areas since the dams are located in almost all parts of the state. Development of similar irrigation channels made in Kadawa can provide for year-round cultivation of lands thus increasing yields to farmers and providing all year engagement. Kadawa is currently a major hub of tomatoes and several other vegetables.

The dams can support economic growth in 4 sectors: fish farming, crop production, vegetables and fruits farming. Fish species that can be farmed in these dams include tilapia, catfish, and carp. Food crops that thrive include rice, maize, sorghum, and vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and peppers are all viable farm products. Fruits can be farmed in orchards near the dams. The ‘Yan lemo’ market in Naibawa Kano, for example, receiving fruits from other states can indeed become the new outlet for selling the same fruits to the rest of the country! One of the significant advantages of fish farming in the dams is employment generation. Fish farming creates job opportunities for locals, especially young people who are unemployed.  One of the key advantages of fish farming in the dams is the high yield. The unique ecosystem of the dams provides the ideal conditions for fish farming, resulting in high yields. The dams are rich in nutrients, and the water temperature and pH levels are conducive to the growth of fish. The process of fish farming requires a lot of labour, from preparing the ponds to harvesting the fish.

Local communities can benefit from employment opportunities in various stages of the fish farming process. The country relies heavily on fish imports to meet the high demand for fish, and the cost of importation is high. The growth of fish farming will increase local production and reduce the country’s dependence on imports. This will have a positive impact on the economy; the state can within a short period hurl huge quantities of dried smoked fish to the rest of the country bringing tremendous wealth to its citizens.

The dams can provide support for the growth of food crops such as rice, millet and maize. These crops thrive in the dam’s unique ecosystem and can be grown all year round. The availability of water for irrigation is a significant advantage that the dams offer, and the government is encouraging investment in this area to boost local production. The availability of water for irrigation all year round in the dams provides an opportunity for farmers to increase their production and meet local and indeed national demands. The dams provide a reliable source of water for irrigation, which is essential for the growth of food crops.

The government has provided support in the form of training and incentives to encourage investment in food crop production thus creating job opportunities for locals, which can help to reduce poverty and unemployment in the state. The local community can benefit from employment opportunities in various stages of the food crop production process, from preparing the land to harvesting the crops. The growth of food crops is a profitable business, and investors stand to make significant returns.

Dawanau Grains Market in the city can be replicated in the vicinity of the new settlements thus further boosting markets in the state and indeed allowing for ease of delivery of food items to the market. Banks will rush to these locations by establishing their branches thus making cash transactions, if required, with ease and safety.

Fruits can be farmed in orchards in the vicinity of the dams. The state has a huge land mass and great production of fruits such as mangoes, guava, and lemon will thrive providing good income to the citizens. Fruit packaging plants can be established allowing exports of canned food leading to a good return on investment for investors. The West African countries traditionally known to trade with Kano will remain some of the major targets of businesses.

Comprehensive plans can be put in place where financial institutions will be invited by the new government to provide support funds through cooperative societies. The framework for this can be put in place. For example, Real Estate developers can be engaged to provide low-cost houses near the dam locations leading to new mini settlements complete with support services– markets, schools, hospitals, etc. Construction boom will result in the engagement of many tradesmen – carpenters, masons, electricians, labourers, etc. These provide an added boost to income to the citizens providing long-term engagements.

Youths therefore can settle in these areas with their families owning their homes and creating wealth. Loans taken can easily be repaid with huge incomes from the various activities around the dams. Land issues can be settled by the state government through adequate compensation to owners for the development of the expected cluster settlements. A huge population of youths in the city will dwindle with many opting to resettle in areas with guaranteed wealth creation. The government will benefit from increased IGR thus providing better social amenities and infrastructure. Imagine, for instance, the development of some 10,000 cluster houses in each of the vicinity of the 12 dams throughout say, 3 years in collaboration with real estate developers thus providing some 600,000 houses – to be occupied by youths with their families in comfortable conditions. New cities with great economic goals will evolve in the state. This will greatly mop up the large population of the State Capital.

It is viewed that modest factories for processing farm products can emerge thus providing a further boost in income. Investors in Kano have developed many shops, event centres, hotel accommodations, etc, in the township and future investment funds should be channelled to small-scale cottage industries. The Kano Chamber of Commerce can provide leadership in this regard, reaching out to many small-scale factory producers around the world. Kano must restore its status as a major industrial hub of Nigeria. The opportunities are huge and the need for urgent action is required. It is further viewed that support from the Hadejia Jama’are River Basin Authority, with Headquarters in Kano, will lead to successful development of the dams.

Kano Foundation, a hitherto major think-tank of Kano State can be revived and competent and experienced citizens are appointed to serve. A good framework to tackle this matter in a profound, practicable and sustainable approach can be determined urgently too. The state is blessed with many excellent and well-educated citizens and their knowledge and experience will help in this endeavour.

The state now is said to have a total of 17 universities going by the recent approvals of the Federal Government, providing perhaps one of the highest numbers in the country. It is therefore desirable that courses that will provide for self-employment are pursued so that graduates have more guaranteed engagement on completion of studies. The lack of relevant training in our institutions has been the albatross of the nation making many youths now largely redundant. The pursuit of engagement objectives will have far-reaching economic goals.

Engineer Ali Goni, FNSE, is a Civil Engineering Consultant based in Abuja and can be reached at alibahgoni@gmail.com

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Fidelity Bank: Here’s the perfect opportunity to grab your slice

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By Iheanyi Nwachukwu

Fidelity Bank: Here’s the perfect opportunity to grab your slice

On Thursday June 20, Nigeria’s 6th largest bank, Fidelity Bank Plc will open its public offer and Rights Issue.

According to an article on the Businessday website and authored by Iheanyi Nwachukwu, the bank is raising a total of up to N127.100billion by way of a Rights Issue to existing shareholders and a Public Offer (the Combined Offer).

Under the Rights Issue, 3.2 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each will be offered in the ratio of 1 new ordinary share for every 10 ordinary shares held as of January 5, 2024, at N9.25 per share.

For the Public Offer, 10 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each will be offered to the general investing public at N9.75 per share.

The acceptance and application lists for the Rights Issue and Public Offer which will open on Thursday, June 20 will close on Monday July 29, 2024.

The Combined Offer is a part of the bank’s strategy to increase its share capital base in compliance with the revised minimum capital requirements for Nigerian commercial banks introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on March 28, 2024.

Stanbic IBTC Capital is the Lead Issuing House to the Combined Offer, while the Joint Issuing Houses include Iron Global Markets Limited, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Afrinvest Capital Limited, FSL Securities Limited, Futureview Financial Services Limited, Iroko Capital Market Advisory Limited, Kairos Capital Limited and Planet Capital Limited.

As part of the capital raising process, Fidelity Bank will this same Thursday June 20 at the

Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) hold a Facts Behind the Offer presentation.

Overall, the bank expects that the capital raised would support its efforts to drive sustained growth and diversification of its earnings base.

The bank’s shareholders had approved the Rights Issue and Public Offer at the Extra-Ordinary General Meeting held on Friday August 11, 2023.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc said at the Combined Offer signing ceremony that the proceeds will be applied towards investment in IT infrastructure, business and regional expansion, and investment in product distribution channels.

Oladele Sotubo, Chief Executive Office, Stanbic IBTC Capital who commended Fidelity Bank’s management team for their commitment towards executing the Combined Offer also lauded their efforts for being at the forefront of achieving the CBN’s revised minimum capital requirements for Nigerian commercial banks.

Sotubo expressed confidence that the deal would encourage other corporates to tap into the equity capital markets to raise funding to meet their strategic business needs.

Fidelity Banks share price, which closed May 31, 2019 at N1.68 per share, rose successively to N10.20 per share by the end of May 2024.

The ASI had, during the period, rose from its opening index of 31,069.37 points to close weekend at 99,300.38 points. The NGX Banking Index rose from 361.57 points to 797.37 points.

The NGX 30 Index, which opened the period at 1,286.68 points, closed the period at 3,676.44 points. The NGX Main Board Index appreciated from 1,267.54 points to close weekend at 4,634.31 points.

David Adonri, Managing Director, HighCap Securities Limited said the price of any stock in the market is a correct reflection of the market value for the stock.

Aruna Kebira, Managing Director, Globalview Capital Limited said that the market price of a stock represents the disposition of the investing public to the stock at a given period, noting that there should be consideration for both the market value and the book value or fundamentals of a stock.

“It could be summarised that the market price of a stock is premised on the psychology of the market, the markets mood as well as market sentiments,” Kebira said.

Sola Oni, Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications said the stock market shows both the current and future prospects of shares.

“Share price reflects the current value of a company but also reveals the future prospects”, Oni said, noting that investment analysts traditionally combine market price and book values to determine the possible outlook of a stock.

For many independent investment research reports, Fidelity Bank was assigned BUY ticker, a recommendation to investors to consider the potential attractive returns of the bank.

The research reports were based on the historical and current operational performances of the bank as well as the clear-sighted implementation of the bank’s growth plan. The reports also considered the quality of board and management and the general human capital and resources of the bank.

For instance, the investment advisory reports included those of Afrinvest Group, FSDH Capital and CardinalStone among others.

Analysts were unanimous that Fidelity Banks share price could double in the period ahead given professional assessment of top traditional performance parameters including the company’s operational reports, investors preference and projections.

Ranked as one of the best banks in Nigeria, Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged customer commercial bank with over 8.3 million customers serviced across its 251 business offices in Nigeria and the United Kingdom as well as on digital banking channels.

Just recently, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) disbursed $40-million Intra-African Investment Facility to Fidelity Bank Nigeria Plc to support the bank’s acquisition and recapitalisation of Union Bank UK as part of its international expansion programme. Provided in two tranches of $20 million each, the first tranche of the facility enabled Fidelity to part-refinance the acquisition of 100 percent equity stake in Union Bank UK, while the second tranche was used to support its recapitalisation via the injection of additional equity into the acquired bank, as approved by the United Kingdom’s regulator.

With this acquisition, Fidelity Bank is able to birth a new pan-African financial institution capable of providing correspondent banking and offshore banking services to banks in Africa and servicing the banking needs of Africans in the diaspora.

The average annual return of 101.43 per cent underlines that Fidelity Bank provides substantial return for investors, even where such investors had borrowed money at the ruling interest rate and the invested fund was adjusted for impact of inflation rate.

Investors in Fidelity Bank Plc have earned more than 507 percent in capital gains over the past five years, ranking above all other major return benchmarks at the Nigerian stock market and the entire banking sector.

Trading reports at the Nigerian stock market for the five-year period between May 31, 2019 and May 31, 2024 showed that Fidelity Bank outperformed all key indices at the stock market. Fidelity Banks share price rose by 507.14 percent over the period, representing average annual capital gain of 101.43 percent.

These returns underscore Fidelity Banks immense value as a stock for all times, helping investors to hedge against inflation while preserving significant long-term value.

With 507 percent capital gain in five years and average annual gain of more than 100 percent, the return analysis implies that investment in Fidelity Bank is more attractive than other class of assets, including fixed-income securities such as government and corporate bonds; real estate investment and mutual funds among others.

The high divisible nature of shares investment and high free float of Fidelity Bank, which makes the bank’s shares easily available, underline it as a most attractive investment option for all cadres of investors- small, medium and high networth; retail and institutional investors.

Comparative analysis showed that Fidelity Bank outperformed all other major market indices with the banks average annual return for the period twice the average return by the overall market and almost four times of average return in the banking sector.

Nigeria’s inflation rate peaked at a high of 33.69 per cent in April 2024 while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) recently increased the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), otherwise known as benchmark interest rate, to 26.25 per cent.

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