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Surviving Economic Realities In 2020s

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Heraclitus of Ephesus, a Greek philosopher of the late 6th Century, in his famous apothegm said, “The only constant is Change”. Literally, whether change is desired or not is inconsequential as it occurs independently; devoid of assents or prior notice. And the earlier people prepared their mind for it, the better as it is inevitable. This is thus, a clarion demand for reprogramming the minds to adapt as it occurs. Not even resistance deters it except to be left behind; an unhealthy option.
Typically, the major and fastest agent of change is civilization which everyone profoundly cherishes. Nobody in their right senses will kick against civilization due to the comfort, speed and productivity it offers. However, the bad side of it is, the same pace it opens new opportunities to the sensitive minds, is also how it pushes out the indolent and conservative minds out of jobs and businesses.
For example, the evolution of modern computers; Central Processing Units (CPUs) and laptops sent conservative typists and typewriter-merchants that were insensitive to upgrade out of jobs and businesses. Similarly, online shopping has become the most utilised medium across the world thereby affecting daily sales of shop owners. Arguably, technological advancement is moving fast.
Presently, foodstuffs including fresh tomatoes, potatoes, vegetables and even native cooked foods are ordered online and delivered with ease in Nigeria. Likewise, the usual taxi business which required people to board on the road is being overtaken by connected system which can access, negotiate variety of taxis in the comfort of the living rooms.
Churches are not left out as people in the comfort of their homes now actively participate in church services same way as onsite worshippers. In banking industry, higher volume of transactions are currently done virtual which reduces human activities in the banking halls alongside overhead costs. Of course, by design, banks are profit-oriented and not charity organizations, hence, will always switch over to most cost-effective system.
Conversely, the labour market is adversely affected as technology drops human activities thereby increasing unemployment ratios. Even those already in employment are likely to face more retrenchments as their services can be rendered cheaper and more efficiently through technological revolution.
For emphasis, on September 3, 2019, an energy firm, Oando Plc, sacked about 100 workers. Similarly, on November 21, 2019, First Bank of Nigeria recorded a mass sack of staff numbering over 1000 across the federation. The record goes on. The umbrella body of the workers; National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) threatened fire and brimstone to reverse the action.
Though the solidarity was commendable, unfortunately, NUBIFIE forgot the employers’ obligation to discharge employees is to be laid off accordingly. The union overlooked to do a feasibility study vis-à-vis the management’s unflinching action, without any panic against possible collapse of the bank by the volume of the retrenchment. This is a critical oversight.
For instance, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can now withdraw and also collect deposits into customers account in few seconds. The implication is that scores of contract staff that mount the tellers may be drastically reduced to virtually zero. Believably, all banks are working in that directions which implies that more retrenchments are looming particularly in the banking sector in the new decade.
Realistically, NUBIFIE and other unions may not do much to counter the trend. This is because they cannot provide the funds to subsidize overhead costs; to secure their members’ jobs. Convincingly, the bank discovered an alternative mode to handle operations without such a crowd of employees. To call a spade, a spade, the sacks were no accidental discharge but necessitated by profit maximization which is its major goal.
Laudably, a leading financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA), recently recorded a massive recruitment drive of about 4000 new staff alongside promotion of 5000 existing staff members with inspiring increments. However, the truth must be told. Industrialized economy is rapidly succumbing to digitalized economy.
The top-secret is technological innovation that economically, efficiently handles human tasks. In other words, repositioning is crucial. A stitch in time they say, saves nine. Sensibly, those not considering modern economy are vulnerable to be victims of the contemporary economic dynamics. Another bitter truth is that government alone cannot provide the much needed jobs for the high number of unemployed population.
However, governments must obligatorily provide the enabling environments for businesses to thrive. Economy must be stimulated and made attractive for investors. And essentially, insecurity must be unrelentingly wrestled not merely by empowering security agents but creating jobs for unemployed populations alongside empowerment with skills acquisitions. Government must meet these critical demands.
Interestingly, the most striking feature of the new economic direction is that it can empower distressed persons from zero level to financial independence without capital unlike the phasing-out industrialized economy. Above all, it creates secure incomes alongside conventional vocations. Instructively, most of the capitalists in the developed economies do not survive by commonplace hustling but connected economy.
Thus, whilst it is ideal to have exciting new year resolutions, big dreams and accept nice predictions, efforts must be put in top gear to think outside the box. People should expediently, ardently consider realignment. By the rapidity of technological advancement in the world, it is obvious a lot of employments may be in danger.
The way out is to embrace the modern economy to run with the changes against the challenges. Connected economy, distinctively, thrives by merely building relationships and fostering connections, rather than assets (money) and stuffs as exists in industrialized economy. However, extreme caution is required as scammers have infiltrated digitalized economy knowing it is the new face of the world economy.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst.

 

Carl Umegboro

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Oil & Energy

N’ Delta Struggle: Foremost Historian Lauds Ogonis’ Pioneering Role

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Foremost Historian and Niger Delta Scholar, Prof Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa, has lauded the Ogoni people over their pioneering role in advancing the course of the Niger Delta people in Environmental rights consciousness and the agitation for improved standards of living in the oil rich region.
Speaking at the maiden launching and unveiling of the Pan Ogoni Magazine at the Atrium Event Centre in Port Harcourt at the weekend, the Prof Emeritus of the University of Port Harcourt, the eminent scholar described the Ogonis as, “ trail blazers, innovators and unapologetic” in their quest for the restoration of the polluted Ogoni environment and by extension the Niger Delta by oil exploratory activities of prospecting Oil companies.
Going down memory lane, he said working Ogoni leaders like the late Ken Saro Wiwa revealed the identity of Ogoni as a unique people that are undeterred in the pursuit of any course.
He said through the efforts, other Ogoni issues of environmental  rights in Nigeria were brought to the fore of global reckoning thereby setting the pace for a renowned clamour for the fight against oil pollution and environmental justice in Nigeria.
The eminent scholar who commended the vision of the Pan Ogoni Magazine, called for unity of purpose among the Ogoni people to achieve the objectives of the Ogoni struggle.
He said the magazine should be used as a platform for constructive engagements and articulation of the ideals of the Ogoni struggle and and the Niger Delta in general.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the advisory board of the Pan Ogoni Magazine, Engr Olu Andah Wai-Ogosu had declared that the vision of the magazine was to put Ogoni in the right perspective by creating avenue for critical discourses and placing Ogoni in its right pedestals by correcting the distorted facts of history about the Ogoni people.
Wait-Ogosu called on all Ogoni stakeholders to partner with the vision to achieve the objectives promoting the ideals of discipline, hardwork, bravery resilience and other deeds of prowess that are the hallmarks of the Ogoni and the Niger Delta people.

 

Taneh Beemene

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Irregular Operational Licences: DPR Seals Four Filling Stations In Anambra

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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has sealed off four filling stations in Anambra State for conducting their businesses without up-to-date operating licensces.
The Operations Controller, Awka office of the DPR, Mr Okiemute Akpomudjere, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Awka on Friday.
Akpomudjere said that apart from being a requirement of the law to have a valid operating license, the marketers would also have the advantage of enjoying all privileges of business entities, including claims in the event of accident.
He said the Department had met with Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Lubricant and Engine Oil Association, LPG Retailers Association and the National Association of LPG Marketers, to inform them on the license drive going on in the state.
According to him, we have observed that most marketers do not have current licenses, which means that their operating licenses are not current, but they are required by DPR regulations to have a valid license to operate.
“So we have engagements with all the stakeholders, including petroleum marketers, gas dealers and lubricant dealers and informed them on the need to regularise their operations by renewing their license and avert being shut down.
“This week alone, we shut down five filling stations belonging to major marketers: we chose to begin with the big ones so that the smaller ones will have an idea of what will come to them, because we are embarking on an aggressive license drive.
“In the course of our interface, they told us that a major challenge they are facing is the issue of tax clearance from the Tax Office and that is essentially because their books are not up-to-date, so we have told them to keep a good accounting system and sort it out because that is not an excuse,” he said.
Akpomudjere said the DPR would be stringent in enforcing  use of the right metering to avoid taking undue advantage of their customers.
DPR is working to ensure that there is right dispensing of products, while marketers now have the right to fix prices, they don’t have the right to under-dispense or shortchange customers.
“We want to sound a note of warning to marketers to ensure that they dispense the right volumes and make sure that Nigerians have value for their money.
“Our teams are in the field to make sure that the meters are correct, we are determined to protect unsuspecting Nigerians,” he said.
Responding to the non-renewal of members’ operating licenses, Mr Chinedu Anyaso, Chairman, IPMAN, Enugu Depot, said the association had been encouraging members to update.

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Petroleum Subsidy Removal’ll Unlock Nigeria’s Economic Prospects – Economist

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An economist, Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, says the Federal Government’s removal of petroleum subsidy will unlock the country’s economic prospects.
Unegbu, a former President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), made the assertion in an interview with The Tide source in Lagos last Friday.
The economist noted that the removal of the petroleum subsidy would open up the sector for new investment.
He said the government was courageous in removing the subsidy because “it is unsustainable, especially in this era of declining revenue.
“Government just has to let the subsidy go and allow the forces of demand and supply to determine the price.
“ This is a principle of free market economy which drives economic growth.
He noted that regulators must be given more powers to enforce price compliance from petroleum dealers who flout the rules.
He also suggested that the various labour unions must not embark on strike over the subsidy removal because it would be inimical to the economy.
“The union should look at the positives of the new policy and not to focus on needless strikes.
“At the initial time, the cost of basic essentials will surge but will decline after more players venture into the sector,” he said.
Report say that the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol was increased to N151.56 per litre with effect from September 2.
This was disclosed in an internal memo and issued by the Petroleum and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) Ibadan Depot.

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