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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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Nigeria Lost $750m To Oil Theft In 2019 – NNPC

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The Nigerian National Pe
troleum Corporation (NNPC) says the nation lost about 750 million dollars to oil theft in 2019.
The NNPC Group Managing Director, Malam Mele Kyari disclosed this in a statement signed by the Acting Spokesman for the corporation Mr Samson Makoji in Abuja on Tuesday.
Kyari said this when members of the Executive Intelligence Management Course 13 of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) visited the NNPC Towers.
He decried the growing activities of oil thieves and pirates which he described as a threat to the operations of the corporation.
The GMD who spoke on the topic: “Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea; Issues, Challenges for International Trade, National Security and Sustainable Development of Member States”, said that any threat to the corporation’s operations was a direct threat to the very survival of Nigeria as nation.
This, he said, was because of the strategic role of the corporation as an enabler of the economy.
He listed other security challenges facing the corporation to include vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure and kidnapping of personnel.
According to him, there is a deep connection between the various shades of insecurity challenges as they were all linked to what is happening in the Gulf of Guinea and the entire maritime environment.
He called for a concerted effort and synergy to secure oil and gas operations for the economic survival of the country.
The NNPC boss re-assured that in spite of the increase in demand for fossil oil  crude oil would still remain relevant.
“Even by 2050, fossil fuel would account for 80 per cent of the energy mix, and there would still be consumption of at least, 100 million barrels of oil per day.
“ We are determined to remain relevant in the long term,” he assured.
In his presentation, NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Mr Yemi Adetunji said in 2016, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for more than half of the global kidnappings for ransom, with 34 seafarers kidnapped out of 62 cases worldwide.
He said the corporation was working closely with security agencies to tackle the security challenges, and cited the “Operation Kurombe” that was recently conducted by the Nigerian Navy at the Atlas Cove as an example of such collaborative efforts.
Also, the Executive Director, National Institute of security Studies, Dr Ayodele Adeleke, called for synergy among the security agencies to tackle the security challenges not only in the Gulf of Guinea, but in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry generally.
The visiting team was drawn from 18 agencies within and outside Nigeria.

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DPR To Transfer Five Revoked Oil Blocks

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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has transferred Oil Mining Licence (OML) 98 to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), stating the federal government is considering transferring five others, which were recently revoked.
DPR had earlier revoked the previously operated by Pan Ocean Oil Corporation and five others belonging to Allied Energy Resources Nigeria (OML 120 and 121); Express Petroleum and Gas Company (OML 108); Cavendish Petroleum Nigeria (OML 110), and Summit Oil International (OPL 206).
The federal government had ordered the revocation, justifying the decision as a move to “recover legacy debts” owed by the companies operating the licences.
In an event to transfer the asset, Director of DPR, Sarki Auwalu, who stressed that move was in the economic interest of Nigerians, especially the shareholders, stated that there are about 42 million barrels oil deposit in the block.He added that there are 20 million barrels of condensate as well as 393 billion standard cubic feet of gas.
Auwalu warned NPDC to put the asset to best use, stressing that government would not fail jail individuals, who treat the oil assets with levity.”If there any failure we will not hesitate to jail whoever is responsible,” Auwalu said. He said government is interested in helping investors make returns on investment, stressing that organisation must take advantage of alternative dispute resolutions instead leaving investment in limbo.
“We are not for any legal battle. Everything can be settled with alternative dispute resolutions because we need our assets to work for the interest of stakeholders,” Auwalu stated, while urging investors to be proactive and always consider economic value.
While reassuring the regulators of Pan Ocean’s commitment to a smooth transition, Mr. Olajide Ishola, chief operating officer, Pan Ocean said, “since last year when the revocation of the asset came into effect, a lot of things were left in limbo. This meeting set the tone for the handover and future of the asset. In the months ahead, we will continue to work closely with regulators to ensure that there is no significant disruption in production as a result of change in ownership.”
Pan Ocean has engaged in economic activity on OML 98 since 1973. Within the period, the company created jobs, contributed to the development of critical national oil and gas assets, and improved infrastructure in host communities.

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RSG’s Intervention Averts Fuel Scarcity  In Rivers

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The timely intervention of the Rivers State Government, yesterday saved the state from fuel scarcity in the state.
The organised petroleum sector in the state comprising the Independent Petroleum Marketers  Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, the Licence Petroleum Station owners and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Energy Workers(NUPENG) had planned to begin a strike action, yesterday.
The petroleum service providers in the state had threatened to shut down their operations following alleged impoundment of their product laden trucks by the Army and incessant arrest of their members by task force operators.
The strike action which would have thrown the entire state into a round of fuel scarcity was however,  averted by the state government in the wee hours of yesterday.
Th state government represented by  the state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Medee quickly entered into a peace negotiation meeting with the leadership of NUPENG, IPMAN  and other stakeholders to broker peace.
The meeting which commenced on Sunday evening lasted till the early hours of yesterday.
Dr  Medee who led the Rivers State Government team said the government waded into the looming crisis to avert the consequences of the strike.
According to him, “the Rivers State Government engaged all the affected parties and stakeholders in series of consultations to arrest the situation and avert the impending industrial action”, adding that “the Rivers State Governor, Chief Barr Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is committed towards creating the enabling environment for business activities to strive in the state”.
Chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of IPMAN, Comrade Obele also confirmed the suspension of the strike, saying members of the association have been directed to resume full operations while the security agencies have agreed to release the impounded trucks.
Former Chairman of IPMAN, Port Harcourt branch, Comrade Emmanuel Inimgba, who commented on the matter decried a situation where petroleum marketers were targets of arrests and victims of insecurity and called for lasting solution to the challenges.
A directive of the national leadership of NUPENG has aso urged its members in the state to resume full operations.

 

Taneh Beemene

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