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2023 in the eye of COVID-19 BY Abiodun Komolafe

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COVID-19: Wife of Nigerian patient stranded abroad cry for help

Experts have predicted that COVID-19 may remain a crisis much longer than 2022, with “up to 70% of world’s population” becoming infected. Amid this mess, elections are billed to hold in Nigeria in 2023, in line with constitutional provisions. If, in the worst-case scenario, COVID-19 subsists beyond 2022, what then does the future hold for dear country? The more reason Nigeria’s politicians, as at today, should worry about how to ensure that we have a country still populated with human beings. Impliedly, it is better to find a solution to COVID-19, which has no specifics and has not been seen to be selective in killing people, in the interest of everybody. The politician can only be relevant in the scheme of things when there are people who will vote. If coronavirus has decimated the population, where are the people that are going to vote? If those who are contesting feel that they are secure, what about those who will vote for them?

About 4 or 5 months ago, nobody ever thought in Nigeria at least, that we would enter into a health-crisis situation of this magnitude; a pandemic that has so far defied all known medical appeasements and specific regime of medication. Thus, a situation could arise that the Constitution may have to be suspended. And heavens will not fall! After all, all the campaigns, programmes and related stuff in the United States of America, where elections are scheduled to hold in November, have had to be put on hold, courtesy of the dreaded COVID-19. Even, FIFA U-17 World Cup that was originally slated for 2020 has now been postponed to 2021. And heavens have not fallen! ‘Ta lo nje ode aperinn’iwaju ode apaniyan? (Who is a mere elephant hunter compared to human assassins?)

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People have stored money, even, ammunition to wage the impending electoral war of 2023. But people must first survive. The way we are going, if the pandemic should really balloon in a way that it will be difficult to contain it, then, nobody will be talking about elections at all, be they general or, presidential. It is as simple as that! Hence, all governors and the president must take up their responsibilities and work out a solution, for this is why they are elected. It is not enough to see them as trying. Nigerians are no longer interested in that old, worn-out refrain! No, not anymore! If we truly want Nigeria to develop, there is an urgent need for a new vision, and a new orientation. Otherwise, Nigeria will herald herself into perdition, and without remedy.

It is good to project into the future but it is difficult to project in the face of the humiliating torment that COVID-19 has presented. Of course, it is palpably humiliating if a country as hugely populated and as resource-rich as Nigeria is faced with a pandemic but her trained medical personnel appears prostrate before it. Aren’t we in trouble as a country if we must run to Madagascar to purchase herbs when, after reviewing the ‘COVID-organics’, the ingredients are right here with us? If we don’t invest in medical science education, why won’t China send doctors to Nigeria to help us take care of our self-induced problems? For God’s sake, where are our doctors – competent and qualified ones?

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Well, maybe this is the time to have a political holiday because of the survival of the country. After all, it is in the stability of the country that political activities can thrive. This, again, means that our politicians should go back to their constituencies, identify with their people and work out a solution. If, in the course of doing that, they become infected, well, they chose to be leaders! And that’s what leadership is all about! A situation whereby our political leaders flock to Abuja as if that’s the only place where their constituencies’ destinies could be recovered should no longer be tenable.

From what we have also seen, Nigeria’s economy may not pick until 2023, if we continue with the way we are going. And, if it doesn’t, it may become problematic, especially, for the ruling party, to secure the confidence of the electorate, irrespective of who, or which political party is responsible for the woes of the country. Yes, Nigeria has been named among 10 countries that will experience global famines of “biblical proportions”, courtesy of the economic pains arising from COVID-19! But this should compel our institutions to show singular tenacity and singular judgment in recalibrating extant policies and programmes in national interest. We should not get out of the health pandemic and dive straight into economic crises. Getting to that strait path without preparation and the wherewithal is a sure recipe for social chaos because, even things that were hitherto, seemingly, innocuous and not dangerous will become manifestly dangerous, more so, as people will now begin to read meanings to them.

Again, this is where the roles of religious bodies come into play! This is not the time to take things for granted but a time to seek God’s face for mercy. When Ebola came ravaging, not until it was pronounced gone, dead and buried that Nigerians could only heave a sigh of relief. As for COVID-19, it will not be out of place to say that certain forces which do not want it defeated are already at work, playing the game for which they are renowned. It is, therefore, time President MuhammaduBuhari and his lieutenants remembered the roles of posterity in the affairs of men. It’s time the president thought beyond his remaining years in office. Indeed, this is the time to think about the kind of legacy he will want to leave behind. Nobody prayed that coronavirus would come to our shores. But, now, that it has come, Buhari should rise up to the occasion and see to it that coronavirus is defeated. There have been talks among Nigerians, suggesting that some people under him are the ones directing the affairs of the country. This is an opportune time for him to prove to the world that he is firmly in control and that Nigerians did not make any mistake in making him their president. The fact that a cure or vaccine to the pandemic has not been found elsewhere does not mean that Nigeria cannot blaze the trail. It is all about leadership and determination!

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May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, heal our land!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State ([email protected])

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Now is the time to set yourself up for the future of best practices BY Dr. Ibrahim Abduba

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It has been said over and over by a multitude of business systems experts. One of the greatest barriers to digital transformation is not technological. It is human resistance to change. Within an enterprise, a wholesale culture shift is needed for digitalisation to take hold and be used to its full efficiency-boosting potential.

Of course, enterprises are now operating in a context of forced, unprecedented change beyond the scenarios covered in most business continuity plans. Who projected that we would one day be in a situation where essentially everything would close at the same time, crippling supply chains? Or that a company’s workforce would be mandated to stay home, with no access to on-premise systems? Businesses need new solutions to ensure business continuity in the current economic climate, recover quickly and ensure operational resilience in the “next normal” beyond COVID-19.

The time is ripe for change, but it demands a greater embrace of new perspectives. These newer attitudes have been slowly taking root in Africa. First, there was the move from manual to automated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) (https://bit.ly/3cohBuI) applications. This led to the realisation over the past decade that cloud-based systems drive greater operational agility than their on-premise equivalent, allowing enterprises to operate efficiently and securely, even across borders.

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As an example, Bank of Kigali Plc in Rwanda has leveraged cloud-based functionality such as end-to-end process automation to reduce costs, improve scalability and innovate customer offerings.

Despite such success stories, many companies continue to cling to the mindset of “I have my own customised ERP, and it works for me; I’m not giving it up.” That attitude is understandable, but current challenges prove traditional ERPs lack the flexibility to overcome them efficiently. Rigidity is simply not contemporary best practice.

Even before the current crisis, Steve Cox, Oracle’s Group Vice President for ERP EPM Product Marketing, referred to the future of best practices as being one of less work, more automation and better outcomes. The wider business context has, of course, shifted, but evolving technology remains key to unlocking business benefits, such as greater speed and cost savings.

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Best practice is also continually being disrupted and redefined by emerging technologies. We see artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) well entrenched in Oracle Cloud applications now, producing insights from big data, automatically maintaining systems and underpinning chatbots. Becoming similarly commonplace in enhancing everyday work processes are the likes of blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR), with the first two having special advantages for supply chain management (SCM).

Even with expensive IT upgrade cycles, old on-premise platforms may battle to integrate with such new solutions. By contrast, through cloud, enterprises can instantly leverage the latest best-in-class technologies, which connect seamlessly because of already considered integration capabilities. The cost of continual upgrades goes away, and it becomes easier to predict spend and calculate budgets.

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With continual cycles of disruption the new business “normal,” the ability to accurately predict and prepare has become the best practice for enterprises. Cloud ERP offers users the ability to effortlessly pull together data sets across a business for better insights that drive scenario planning and optimisation strategies. At the same time, an organisation’s human talent is liberated to focus on innovation instead of losing their workdays to mundane manual tasks like report generation and transaction processing.

Leveraging these capabilities, and more, does not require reinventing the wheel. To make an enterprise truly future-ready, and minimise unpredictable risk, starts with overcoming attitude barriers.

Dr. Ibrahim Abduba, ERPM Strategy and Business Development Leader – East & West Africa at Oracle

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Simi, the ‘Tiff’ that stole the show

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Popular Nigerian Musician, Simisola Ogunleye professionally known as “Simi” since breaking onto the Nigerian music scene in 2008 has had a smooth ride and an impressive and enviable career run.

The 32 years old songstress started her career as a gospel singer, releasing her debut studio album in 2008, titled “Ogaju”, produced entirely by Samklef.

Simi then had her breakthrough in 2014 with her amazing singles, “Tiff”.

Born in Ojuelegba, Lagos, She is the last born child of the Ogunleye family. Although her parents separated when she was 9, Simi graduated from Convenant University, where she studied Mass Communication.

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The amazing and talented star grew up dancing and singing as a member of her local church’s choir. She wrote her first song at age 10.

In 2014, Simi released an EP she titled Restless. The EP earned her a record deal with X3M Music, but she left the label in 2014 following the expiration of her contract.

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At present, Simi is arguably one of the best female musicians in Nigeria. Simi is also enjoying the smash success of her recent music release, “Duduke” which has virally taken over the social media space.

The single, Duduke was inspired by her pregnancy, as the lyrics of the song depicts the expectant mother singing for her unborn baby.

Surprisingly, Simi isn’t just a singer and songwriter, the expectant mother is also a sound engineer as she is credited for mixing and mastering her husband, Adekunle Gold’s debut album, “Godl”, released in 2016.

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Simisola has released three studio albums and has featured in one movie. She made her acting debut in “Mokalik”, a movie directed by Kunle Afolayan.

Simi has won over 10 awards including; Headies’ Best vocal performance (Female), Best Recording of the year, NEA’s Most Promising act to watch and many others.

She is indeed the “Tiff” that stole the show

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Dangiwa’s Letter: my two cents BY Femi Fani-Kayode

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“At this time and in the light of all that have happened since you took office, any conversation with you Mr. President cannot gloss over the chaos that has overtaken appointments into government offices in your administration. All those who wish you and the country well must mince no words in warning you that Nigeria has become dangerously polarized and risk sliding into crisis on account of your administration’s lopsided appointments which continues to give undue preference to some sections of the country over others. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the leadership cadre of our security services. Mr. President, I regret that there are no kind or gentle words to tell you that your skewed appointments into the offices of the federal government, favouring some and frustrating others, shall bring ruin and destruction to this nation”- Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd.)

Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar is a former military Governor of Kaduna state and a Fulani Prince from the ruling house of the Gwandu Emirate who has had the courage to speak out against Buhari’s “Fulanisation”, “Islamisation” and “northernisation” policy.

He is one of the heroes of the June 12th struggle and he lost his Commission in the Nigerian Army for insisting that President-elect MKO Abiola should be given his mandate and allowed to lead Nigeria after winning a free and fair election in 1993.

He is an old friend of mine who used to be my Polo captain at the Lagos Polo Club many years ago and who I have known and admired since 1983. He openly opposed Buhari’s military regime as a young Major at the Lagos Polo Club between 1983 and 1985 and he often spoke against him whilst Buhari was military Head of State.

This was a very dangerous thing to do at that time because Buhari’s military Government was the most vicious and repressive that Nigeria has ever known. I used to listen to him with fascination in those days and I marvelled at his courage and his willingness to give up his life for his beliefs.

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I read his polite, well-crafted and well-researched letter to the President which was released yesterday and I was touched and moved that he had the decency, patriotic zeal and presence of mind to say the things that some of us have been screaming for the last 5 years about Buhari’s dangerous policies and divisive politics.

I called our mutual friend and brother Bashorun Akin Osuntokun, who is presently doing a stint at Oxford University, to express my deep appreciation for the efforts of a man that we have both come to love and learnt to respect over the years.

Akin was equally impressed with his letter and we expressed satisfaction at the fact that he had once again lifted our spirits and gave us cause for hope.

May God bless this gallant soldier known as Dangiwa for being fearless and consistent over the years and may he continue to be the light and inspiration that he has always been to those in our generation.

We have not always agreed on everything but his timely interventions, courage and consistency is as remarkable as it is uplifting. I urge him not to relent in his noble efforts to make Nigeria a better place for all regardless of tribe, ethnic group or faith. We need more of him.
To those that are too young to know I will add the following. During the coup d’etat against Buhari’s vicious, murderous and bestial military regime in 1985, it was Dangiwa Umar who effected his arrest in Dodan Barracks and took him into custody.

He is one of those that brought an end to that hideous and cruel nightmare which plagued our beleaguered nation for two long years and which led to the destruction of many lives and the death of many people.

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Dangiwa is a very tough and decisive man indeed both on the polo field and off it and just as he stood up to tyranny, injustice, wickedness, racism, nepotism and ethnic and religious bigotry in both in 1985 and 1993, he is standing up to it again today. That is the measure of the man and I am not in the least but surprised.

Yesterday I tweeted the following:

“When Col. Abubakar ‘Dangiwa’ Umar speaks the Government would do well to listen. He is a man of deep wisdom, profound knowledge and extraordinary courage. Like yours truly, he fears no man and bows before no mortal. He speaks truth to power and he makes tyrants tremble”.

I stand by these words and I stand shoulder to shoulder with Dangiwa Umar and millions of other Nigerians who have had enough of Buhari’s evil, injustice and tyranny and who are deeply concerned about the destructive course that he has set our nation on.
May God deliver our nation from this evil man and those that are supporting him and egging him on. May God raise more Dangiwa Umar’s to help us in this noble quest to save our nation.

Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following.

In his letter to Buhari Dangiwa Umar quoted the words of Sheik Usman Danfodio, the father and founder of the Fulani Caliphate, when he wrote the following:

“One of the swiftest ways of destroying a Kingdom is to give preference of one particular tribe over another or show favour to one group of people rather than another. And to draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn near”.

If Buhari will not listen to anyone else let us hope that he will at least listen to and learn from the words of his esteemed forefather and let us hope that he taps into the wisdom and draws from the counsel of the greatest and most revered leader of his Fulani race.

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More importantly let us hope that it is not too late. I will end with the following counsel.

President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was betrayed by General Zia Ul Haq. General Yakubu Gowon was betrayed by Colonel Joe Garba.

President Mohamed Morsi was betrayed by General Abdel Fatah El Sisi. Captain Thomas Sankara was betrayed by Captain Blaise Compaore.
Chairman Josef Stalin was betrayed by Marshall Lavrentiy Beria. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was betrayed by Finance Minister Geoffrey Howe. Gaius Julius Caesar was betrayed by Marcus Junius Brutus.

President Robert Mugabe was betrayed by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

I could go on and on. History is replete with such examples.

A leader’s greatest and most dangerous enemies are not those who speak out against him and oppose him publicly but rather those that are close to him and thet are plotting against him secretly.

They are those that are in his inner circle, Government or family that refuses to tell him the bitter truth, that desists from setting him on the right path when he has derailed, that decline to advise him when he is wrong and that egg him on in his manifest and unrelenting cruelty and injustice and encourage him to continue to perpetuate wickedness and to do evil.

Worse still it is those same people that will eventually discredit him, betray him and facilitate his fall from grace and removal from power.

I advise President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of his ‘trusted’ friends and allies, to be careful of the cheerleaders around him, to change his ways, to watch his back, to do the right thing and to listen to selfless, honest and forthright men like Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar who truly have the nation’s interest at heart!

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