Some workers of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, picketed the Abuja office oF Nigeria’s apex standardisation body, over allegations of corruption, irregular promotion of newly recruited staff, and poor welfare of staff.
Why the picketing? It was gathered that the placard-bearing protesters, who came together under the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), grounded business activities at the organisation.
Scam Allegations: The Chairman of AUPCTRE in the Federal Capital Territory, Comrade Aliyu Maradun, told newsmen that the Director General of SON, Osita Aboloma, had been involved in contract scams, including the award of multiple contracts and contract splitting.
According to Comrade Maradun;
“We are aware of people who were employed here and under six months they were promoted more than five times, and there are people here who have spent 20 years; stagnated. Some people are on secondment and have refused to go at the detriment of the people here who are supposed to occupy their positions.”
Need for EFCC’s Intervention: Maradun demanded that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) should investigate the operations of the SON. He also called for the improvement of workers’ welfare and the implementation of the directive of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on voluntarism.
The protest was frowned at: Responding to allegations of the protesters, the President of the SON branch of the Senior Staff Association of the Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC), Ayodele Folayan described the protest as uncalled for.
Folayan said there was an ongoing process to resolve issues relating to the welfare of workers and therefore urged the protesters to return to the negotiating table.
The spokesman of the SON, Mr. Bola Fashina, said the protesters disrespected the directive of the labour ministry on voluntarism and not SON.
For instance, on the issue of promotion arrears, Mr. Fashina said budgetary allocation had been made and added that the amount provided had already been approved in the 2019 budget by the National Assembly.
How FG can implement blockchain technology for efficient service delivery
Blockchain technology is an efficient and cheaper platform for governance as it curbs middlemen and bureaucratic channels, makes processes more effective and adequately reduces fraud.
A report on the Nigerian budget by BugIT last week revealed that Nigeria’s 2021 budget had 316 duplicated capital projects totalling N39.5 billion, a 14% increase to the security sector allocation with no audit done in 5 years and many others.
Other discrepancies discovered in the report include ZERO audit records of the N10.02 trillion received by the security sector between 2015 and 2021, a total of 117 federal agencies received allocations for “Security Votes” worth N24.3 billion despite many of these agencies already having allocations for “Security Charges” to cover each agency’s security needs, etc. These figures show that the government is permitting multiple leakages in its budget despite falling crude oil revenues and rising debt to revenue ratio.
The damning report was a catalyst for Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to petition President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted into the 2021 budget.
The Election problem
Nigeria also lacks transparency in her electoral process resulting in voter apathy, rigging and other forms of electoral fraud, post-election violence, and post-election litigations. The ugly situation is not lost on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which has called for better use of technology in the conduct of elections, stating that the introduction of technology would enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria. The electoral umpire has also alluded to working with the National Assembly to introduce reforms to Nigeria’s Electoral Act.
“There is a need to introduce further technology to enhance the credibility of the elections that we are going to conduct in 2023. That explains why INEC intends to introduce new technology in the revalidation of register, that we have been putting in place since 2010-2011. The way forward is to introduce technology and ensure the register is credible and 2023 elections reflect this credibility and that election are better,” INEC said.
Can Blockchain offer this technology for transparent service delivery?
According to euromoney.com, a blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain. Each block in the chain contains a number of transactions, and every time a new transaction occurs on the blockchain, a record of that transaction is added to every participant’s ledger.
The decentralised database managed by multiple participants makes blockchain technology a system that is difficult to change, hack, falsify or defraud.
In 2018, Sierra Leone became the first country in West Africa to conduct an election with the aid of the Blockchain, recording votes at 70% of the polling to the blockchain, a first of its kind to prevent electoral fraud.
“Sierra Leone wishes to create an environment of trust with the voters in a contentious election, especially looking at how the election will be publicly viewed post-election. By using blockchain as a means to immutably record ballots and results, the country hopes to create legitimacy around the election and reduce fall-out from opposition parties,” the developer, Agora said in a statement.
“Blockchain is the only technology that has been created which can provide an end-to-end verifiable and fully-transparent voting solution for the future” they added.
Perhaps, Blockchain is proof that it may indeed be possible to “ innovate to prosperity” using technology, especially in low trust societies like Nigeria bedevilled with poor public accounting and electoral processes.
This position is supported in a report by Northwestern University, citing that Blockchain’s smart contracts can improve efficiency in emerging markets like Nigeria.
“Blockchain technology has the potential to eliminate one of the most significant barriers to economic growth through private business transactions in developing countries—lack of trust,” the report said.
“Developing countries often lack effective or transparent institutions and are frequently plagued with corruption that weakens substantially their level of security in economic transactions.
First, because blockchain uses an open architecture, all transactions are publicly accessible, immutable, and verifiable by anyone. This helps to eliminate corruption and fraud from the transaction. Second, because all smart contract transactions are recorded along a blockchain and cannot be modified ex-post, a permanent and publicly accessible ledger is available to shed any doubt about payments or other transactions throughout the process. And third, because blockchain systems are automated, security in the enforcement mechanism is all but guaranteed. For instance, failure to deliver goods by a set time will automatically trigger a default clause that transmits payment of liquidated damages to the injured party without the intervention of a judge or arbitrator,” the report added.
Basically, the report suggests that if the Nigerian government pursues a policy on total efficiency in service delivery, blockchain could be the best alternative for the nation as it reduces corruption and fraud in multiple government sectors.
Olumide Adesina, a financial market analyst and Yahoo Finance Contributor says implementing a blockchain-driven service delivery model would make governance cheaper and reduce corruption.
“A blockchain is simply a digital ledger that records information on the network in such a way that it is almost impossible to forge, hack and manipulate despite being open source,” he said.
“This is an efficient and cheaper platform for governance as it curbs middlemen and bureaucratic channels, makes processes more effective and adequately reduces fraud,” he added.
Would the CBN’s crypto ban affect blockchain’s use in governance?
“The CBN ban has little or no effect on the blockchain, as its statutory powers only excluded Nigerian financial institutions from relating to Crypto Exchanges and platforms,” Adesina said.
The report of over N39 billion in duplicate expenses shows that even in a period of revenue decline, the government is struggling with curbing corruption in various sectors. The implementation of technology-backed solutions will not only save the nation from resource pilfering and wastage, but it will also be vital in electing credible government officials to oversee proper, efficient service delivery and governance.
Asharami Energy’s graduate program targets future Upstream experts
Application for the program kicks off on Friday, 7th May 2021 and closes on Monday, 17th May 2021.
Asharami Energy, a Sahara Group Upstream company, has commenced its 2021 Graduate Trainee Program that is geared towards enhancing the sustainability and future of the sector through training of exceptional young talent.
Henry Menkiti, Chief Operating Officer, Asharami Energy, said the widely sought-after program has been instrumental to the transformation of young engineers and others professionals into top talent across the value chain at Sahara Group. “At the heart of our operations lies unrivaled engineering expertise that is driven by innovation, responsible engineering, and an unwavering commitment to improvements aligned with global environmental, social and Corporate governance standards. The Graduate Trainee Program is for enthusiastic and future thinking individuals desirous of becoming future leaders in the oil and gas sector,” he said.
Ivie Imasogie-Adigun, Group Head, HR at Sahara Group said the program resonates with Sahara’s human capital transformation strategy aimed at building a leading, nimble and agile organisation for optimal performance.
Imasogie-Adigun said the program gives graduate trainees exposure to top-level responsibility early in their careers, with ample opportunity to hone their potential across the Upstream value chain. “Sahara’s Graduate Trainee Programs are deliberately innovative and disruptive as we are always ahead on the curve of making a difference. The program has over the years produced outstanding business leaders at Sahara and I enjoin graduates to apply for an opportunity to commence their journey towards excellence in the Upstream sector. ”
Application for the program kicks off on Friday, 7th May 2021 and closes on Monday, 17th May 2021. It is open to candidates with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Applied & Social Sciences with a minimum of Second-Class Honors (Upper Division) and NYSC discharge certificate. Applicants can follow Sahara Group on twitter and Instagram @iamsaharagroup for more information on the Graduate Trainee Programs.
Asharami Energy is one Africa’s leading independent Exploration and Production (E&P) Companies with a diverse portfolio of 8 (eight) oil and gas assets in prolific basins across Africa. Asharami Energy Limited and Sahara Energy Fields Holdings UK Limited are the entities at the forefront of Sahara’s upstream operations.
These assets are at various stages of development ranging from exploratory fields to mature producing fields with huge potential for positive returns.
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