There is now a confirmation that President Muhammadu Buhari will not extend his corruption probe beyond the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Presidency, through Mr Femi Adesina, special adviser on Media and Public Affairs to the President, said that it would only make sense to look into the activities of the immediate past government rather than delving into all other administration.
He told Channels Television that “It would be a distraction for the President to begin digging into all former administrations but for a proper take-off of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, there is the need to look into the immediate past government.”
He, however, made it clear that it is not a witch hunt as only persons who looted the country’s funds would be made to return such loots.
He explained further that President Buhari will not waste time in probing the administrations of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida.
Mr Adesina described the outcome of the President’s official visit to the U.S as “a roaring success on every side”.
Nigeria in Focus: LCCI, Inflation & Naira
According to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Nigeria has lost roughly N700 billion Naira to the #EndSARS protests over the two weeks.
This unfavourable development will most likely compound to Nigeria’s woes as the country tussles with rising inflationary pressures, dollar restrictions and depressed oil prices. Inflation is projected to accelerate in the coming months due to removal of fuel subsidies, lower interest rates and recent VAT hike. Such a scenario may enforce downside pressures on the Naira while hitting consumers due to a drop in purchasing power.
In a perfect world, the government could pursue deflationary fiscal policy in the form of higher taxes and lower spending to tame inflation. However, such a move could end up worsening matters for Africa’s largest economy which needs both fiscal and monetary support to battle the coronavirus menace.
Despite the gloomy outlook and likelihood of Nigeria entering a technical recession during the third quarter of 2020, Nigeria’s All Share Index is up almost 7% year-to-date. Given how rising inflationary pressures have hit fixed income securities with Nigeria boasting continual low-yields in the debt market, investors may closely eye local equity markets.
Outside of Nigeria, global markets remain influenced by the same old themes. Uncertainty remains the name of the game as the presidential elections approach a deafening crescendo while the stimulus saga in Washington has placed most on an emotional rollercoaster ride! In the latest twist and turns to this overextended series, Nancy Pelosi has set an end-Tuesday deadline to reach an agreement on the US coronavirus stimulus plan.
How to Deal with Fatigue in Remote Teams
By Andrew Bourne, Region Manager, Africa, Zoho Corporation
While the pandemic paved the way for even the most staunch opponents of remote work to change their perspective, fatigue is starting to set in for some of the teams, especially for those who have been isolated for the best part of the year now. However, as restrictions relax, some companies are choosing to reopen their office with a limited workforce.
While remote work undoubtedly has certain advantages, some teams may be experiencing a morale drop after months of being stuck at home without a chance to socialize. There are also concerns about adverse mental health impact. In order to boost your team’s morale, here are a few suggestions you can try:
1. Organise virtual team building
You can organise virtual meet-ups and brainstorming sessions. An additional option is to coordinate virtual one-on-ones between staff members, giving them topics to talk about. An in-depth dive into a subject with another person can do wonders for sparking ideas and creativity.
You can also add value by bringing in subject matter experts to present specific topics. Even if it’s not directly related to what you do, the sessions can help employees gain a fresh perspective, inspire different ways of thinking and rekindle interest in ongoing projects.
2. Give them a time out
Without the usual corporate trips or weekend outings, every day probably feels like a weekday for your employees. Consider giving your teams a few days off to bring back the leisurely weekend feel. Not only does this allow them some time to put their feet up and relax, the gesture also gives your workers the confidence that you care about their well-being and that their jobs aren’t in financial jeopardy.
3. Introduce a mental health wellness programme
If you haven’t already, bringing a mental health professional onboard can be extremely helpful for employees who find it especially hard to deal with social isolation and loneliness. Hire an in-house counsellor or offer subsidised clinical screening to those who need help. You can also host seminars to increase awareness and initiate internal discussions to normalise conversations on mental health.
4. Get people moving
Exercise can be a great way to reignite people’s mental freshness. After months at home, they may have slipped into moving less than they did previously. You could organise a virtual group class that everyone can get involved in or make a personal trainer available to advise them on exercises and workouts.
You can also inspire them to eat healthy meals by having a chef give healthy food and snack advice, perhaps even including a virtual cook-along class.
5. Use the right tools
It might sound overly simple, but if you’re using the wrong tools, then remote and online collaboration can be an exercise in extreme frustration. Make sure you’re giving your teams the support they need by using a technology provider that offers all the tools they need, built using the same technology stack, so they interoperate seamlessly. For example, an office suite should enable productivity as well as unified communication and collaboration between teams in your office. It should also centralise your team’s workspace, simplify file storage, and streamline team communication.
With the right tools at hand, it also matters how the leadership leverages them. If you have a social intranet platform, use them extensively to connect with your employees. At Zoho, for example, the CEO makes monthly posts about business outlook to talk about how we are faring as a company and what to expect in the coming months. He also hosts open house sessions, where people are free to bring in their concerns and ask questions. Regularly communicating with your employees, and being open about the situation will allow everyone to feel invested and secure.
Decisions to stay fully remote or to go back to the on-site office are not exclusive of each other anymore. Instead, you may find yourself opting for a hybrid solution where people spend some time in the office and the rest at home. Either way, the online collaboration will play an increasingly important role in the workplace. Applied correctly, the lessons learned now will, therefore, serve you well in the long-term.
Activists Turn to Bitcoin for #EndSARS Protests as Banks Shut Them Out
As protests surge through Nigeria in response to police brutality, one enclave of protestors has turned to bitcoin as a financial lifeline during turbulent times, according to CoinDesk.
The Feminist Coalition’s bank account was shuttered this month after its involvement in the End SARS protests came to light, according to a person familiar but unaffiliated with the group who asked to be identified as Emma (a pseudonym).
End SARS is a movement in Nigeria to abolish the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a subdivision of the police force with a track record of abusing and harassing citizens.
Cast out of the traditional system, the Feminist Coalition is now raising donations in bitcoin.
The #EndSARS protests
The Feminist Coalition was founded in July with a mission to “champion equality for women in Nigerian society with core focuses of education, financial freedom, and representation in public office.”
With the outbreak of protests against police brutality this month, the group has concentrated on providing medical care, legal aid and even funeral funding for those participating in the peaceful demonstrations.
Since the protests surfaced in the beginning of October, 10 Nigerians have died at the hands of police, according to CNN.
As of Oct. 16, the Feminist Coalition has collected a total of 69,891,637.15 naira (a couple bucks shy of $185,000), 15,443,280.00 of which ($40,000) has been deployed to aid 128 protests across the country, according to the coalition’s website.
Bitcoin and censorship-resistant fundraising
All of this fundraising attracted the attention of authorities, though, and they were shut out of Flutterwave, the payments platform and something of a virtual bank they used to process donations.
At press time, Flutterwave had not returned CoinDesk’s request for comment.
That’s when they turned to alternatives.
“Quite a few members of the group work in tech,” so they made the decision to use bitcoin as another payment option, said Emma.
They started by using Sendcash, a platform which converts bitcoin payments into naira and then deposits these funds into a recipient’s Nigerian bank account.
The service is intuitive and highly useful, but it carries the risk that banks will almost certainly sniff out the source of the Feminist Coalition’s funds and shut down its accounts again.
The coalition no longer uses Sendcash because of this likely outcome.
But they still accept bitcoin: Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Organization, set them up with a BTCPay Server.
Emma called the self-hosted payment process “a safer wallet” compared to other options.
Because it operates obliquely to the banking system, the censorship-resistant payment portal is an essential tool for the Feminist Coalition’s fundraising, Gladstein told CoinDesk.
“I would say BTCPay is important because it protects the privacy of donors and prevents the government from easily figuring out what service the protestors are using to cash out their bitcoin into naira,” he said.
Since adding the BTCPay bitcoin donation option on Oct. 14, the coalition has amassed roughly 3.14 BTC (~$36,000).
Bigger than Bitcoin
As CoinDesk has reported previously, Nigerians are no strangers to how the Bitcoin system lets them move money in the shadows of the legacy financial system.
Some Nigerian expats, for instance, use the Paxful exchange to send remittance funds back home, while others use bitcoin to trade directly with China.
More germane to the recent protests against police brutality, others have even used Bitcoin as an unconfiscatible bank account to avoid police shakedowns for cash. As though they see the writing on the wall, the Nigerian government is also spinning up a digital version of the naira.
Still, Emma said that bitcoin is “not popular among the masses yet at all. There are large barriers mostly in terms of education. However, a lot of young Nigerians are now starting to adopt cryptocurrency and it’s growing across the population.”
Further, the Feminist Coalition’s successful fundraising using bitcoin sheds “some positive light on cryptocurrency,” she says, and promotional efforts by Binance in Nigeria are also softening Bitcoin stigma in the country.
Of course, Bitcoin is only one tool in Nigeria’s fight for civil rights – it is not a cure – all for its citizens. What’s really needed is concrete reform.
Nigerians have been protesting as far back as 2016, Emma said, for SARS’ abolition and for police reform. It wasn’t until the most recent bout of unrest beginning in October that the government acquiesced to the protestors’ demands and formally disbanded SARS.
To many Nigerians, though, this is merely political theatre, and they expect SARS abuses to migrate to one of the new task forces that the government is forming to take its place.
That’s why the protests haven’t stopped, Emma said, “because [Nigerians] want to see actual change in terms of police reform.”
With SARS now abolished, though, the protesters’ something-of-a-victory has left Emma hopeful. Not necessarily that things will immediately change, but that the Nigerian people, collectively, are beginning to “wake up” to the government’s abuses.
There’s more activity now than ever pressing for change, she said, and that’s something to be thankful for.
“We’re very tired of the lies and deceit, and there’s a widespread consciousness and awakening among young Nigerians right now that many are saying they’ve never seen before. I know I’ve never seen it before and I’m so relieved that it’s finally here.”
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