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Exclusives

Budget Financing: Will selling government assets do the trick?

Experts argue on the pros and cons of FG’s decision to sell off some public assets to fund the 2021 budget.

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The intention of the Federal Government to sell the nation’s assets to fund the 2021 budget has been received differently by several stakeholders and analysts.

Some have queried the rationale behind selling off assets today to cater to immediate needs, saying ‘it is like mortgaging the future to cater for now’. While other analysts say selling off dead capital is what the government needs to raise the funding Nigeria desperately needs.

The former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, who is antithetical to the idea of selling government assets, expressed his dissatisfaction at the move, which he described as ‘suicidal’ while addressing development and other national issues in an interview on Monday. He further emphasized that government should focus on reducing other government costs rather than selling public assets.

READ: FG posts 27% revenue shortfall in 2020 as budget deficit hit N6.1 trillion

In an entirely opposite view, PwC Partner and Chief Economist, Andrew Nevin took to Twitter to share his opinion on FG’s move. Highlighting that an asset is not an asset if it does not produce a return, which they do not under the current ownership of the government.

While the President, Nigerian Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Emma Wike, agrees with FG on its asset’s sale move, he called for transparency in the process in order to avoid a situation where the assets are sold without the problem being addressed.

READ: Nigeria’s total public debt rises to N32.2 trillion ($84.57 billion) as at September 2020.

He said, “Let us have transparency and openness if the government is to go ahead. They should have included it right from the preparation stage of the budget, to determine how much would be realised.

“There would have been proper valuation according to the Procurement Act so that people could know how much revenue is expected from the sale before the President assented to the budget bill. Anything done after the appropriation bill could become illegal.

“We had the concession of assets during Obasanjo’s regime. If the government has properties that are lying low without being used, the government should be able to sell and use the money realised to fund the budget, it means that it was not in the budget bill and so it is not proper.”

READ: Lagos to spend 60% of N1.16 trillion budget on capital projects

Chairman, Lagos branch, National Institute of Estate Surveyors, NIESV, Dotun Bamigbola explained that if there is no value for the assets, it is important that estate surveyors and valuers are commissioned to carry out the valuation.

However, former Chairman, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), William Oruka Odudu said:

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“They have borrowed enough money in the past, which is unnecessary and now they want to sell to political cronies and so it is not wise.

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“Buyers could make so much money at the expense of the government. If the National Arts Theatre is sold at a well-valued price, the government could make a lot of money from it. However, it may not be valued before the government sells, and to replace a monument like that will run into trillions of naira.”

READ: Cryptos likely to gain at least 1000% very soon

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What you should know

  • The crash in crude oil prices in 2020 and subsequent OPEC cuts have drastically reduced government’s ability to generate revenue. This has left fiscal policy stakeholders no other option but to find more innovative ways to fund the budget and raise capital.
  • The Federal Government had stated plans to sell off certain non-oil assets, notably, Integrated Power Plants in Geregu, Omotosho, and Calabar at N434 billion.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently estimated that Nigeria holds at least $300 billion or as much as $900 billion worth of dead capital in residential real estate and agricultural land alone.
  • Finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, had in a recent televised interview argued that the sale of public assets would benefit Nigerians and boost the economy.
  • She described certain assets as dead and said that they could be sold to the private sector to be reactivated and put to use for the benefit of Nigerians. She stated: “So, we are looking at different – and I am a member of the National Council on Privatisation – we are looking at different categories of assets that government has not been able to manage, that is lying down and, in some cases, even completely rundown, to cede them off to the private sector.”

Adeyemi holds a PhD in Accounting Sciences. He has worked in the Educational Sector and as an Independent Consultant.

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Exclusives

Unemployment, underemployment needs to be addressed with urgency in Nigeria – Jobberman

Femi Balogun of Jobberman Nigeria has highlighted some of the challenges employers and job seekers are currently facing in Nigeria.

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Unemployment has been a bane of many countries, especially in Nigeria, as there are projections that the nation’s unemployment rate will reach an all-time high of 31.4% in 2021.

In this interview with Nairametrics, the Head, Research, Evaluation and learning efforts at Jobberman Nigeria, an online career portal, Femi Balogun, explained that not enough jobs are being created. In 2018, he said Nigeria only created about 450,000 new jobs while over 5 million people joined the labour force.

To him, limited interaction between employers and job seekers as well as policy and cultural constraints are at the core of the employment challenges the nation currently is facing. Excerpts: 

How would you assess unemployment in Nigeria, especially with the second wave of Covid-19?

Unemployment has been a critical issue for the country and this has deepened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), between Q3 2018 and Q2 2020, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose from 23.1% to 27.1%, while the underemployment rate rose from 20.1% to 28.6%. Recent projections also suggest that, in 2021, Nigeria’s unemployment rate will reach an all-time high of 31.4%.

A number of factors contribute to this. Firstly, is that not enough jobs are being created – in 2018 for instance, Nigeria only created about 450,000 new jobs while over 5 million people joined the labour force. Furthermore, gaps within our education system also contribute to this challenge as World Bank data suggests that 18 – 20% of tertiary graduates will require training interventions for about 1 – 4 years to become employable. At the same time, limited interaction between employers and job seekers as well as policy and cultural constraints are that core of the employment challenge we are currently faced with.

The issues that mitigate such high levels of unemployment and underemployment needs to be addressed with urgency.

If Nigeria is home to about half of West Africa’s young people, what size of the population are jobless?

With a population of 200 million, young people make up half of the country’s population. According to PWC unemployment is highest amongst youth between 15-34 years (41% amongst 15-24-year-olds and 31% amongst 25 – 34-year-olds), and this group constitutes 35% of the country’s population – one of the largest in the world.

Data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics has also shown that the number of unemployed 24-year-olds [40% of the youth labour force] in the country has almost tripled to 14 million since 2014.

How would you assess skill gaps in Nigeria and what sectors are most affected?

Our evaluation of the jobs market shows high competency in digital skills at entry-level positions but as the skills required advance, there is a dramatic fall in qualified candidates and applications made.  For instance, there is an overwhelming skills gap in three subsectors – Software Development, Digital Analysis and Network & Cybersecurity.

Within the Software Development cluster, our findings indicate that 73% of job seekers rate their proficiency at a beginners level across skills such as computer programming, cloud infrastructure, UI/UX, web design, mobile development and design thinking. Likewise for Digital Analysis and Network & Cybersecurity clusters.

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This creates a demand gap for positions such as Security Engineering, Data Science, Cyber Security and Security Architecture with a demand scale ranging between 10% and 45%.

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Within the Digital Marketing sub-sector, data suggests growing competencies in social media management and content development with proficiency ratings above 40% at advanced levels. Identifying a skills gap in Sales, Marketing Campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation with proficiency levels as low as 8.13% and no higher than 16.92%.

Based on your experience and available data, what are the factors responsible for this gap?

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Although young people are described as digital natives, there is a digital literacy gap which excludes young people from harnessing the opportunities that the digital economy presents. This can be attributed to challenges such as insufficient access to the internet, dated curriculum and lack of career development courses.

This challenge can, in part, be linked to gaps within the education system that prevents young people from developing skills (technical and soft skills) and gain the required confidence to be employable.

This gap in human capital optimisation is at the core of the inefficiency in Nigeria’s labour market as Nigeria captures only 49% of its full human capital potential, compared to a continental average of 55%, ranging from 67% in Mauritius to 44% in Chad

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What role do you think the government can play in addressing these issues?

The improved performance of the digital sector is, in part, derived from improvements in reforms and governance. In order to take advantage of emerging opportunities within the digital sector, the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy launched the National Digital Economic Policy and Strategy (NDEPS). This has helped to forge partnerships towards advancing an inclusive digital economy.

To achieve the goal of lowering the access barrier to digital tools for the citizens, the government has set a benchmark of 95% digital literacy rates to be achieved in the next ten years (2030) through States and LGAs support.

It is expected that through the policy, young people will be equipped with the necessary skills to acquire decent jobs while transforming Nigeria into a leading digital economy.

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What precisely do you suggest government should do?

There are a number of things the government can do: One is to invest in Human Capital Development. The government can do well by strengthening education institutions and supporting reforms in education to develop industry-relevant curriculum for improved skills, while also galvanising support for digital skills and soft skills training especially for women and marginalised communities.

Another is to Create an Enabling Environment. A friendly regulatory environment is imperative for the digital economy to grow. Similarly, investing in infrastructure that enables ICT adoption (such as broadband internet and electricity) are crucial.

Support the Innovation Ecosystem: Courting public-private partnerships to stimulate and sustain the demand for the use of digital platforms as well as advancing policies that improve business climate will be useful in boosting investment opportunities.

What are the most sought after roles businesses are looking out for in the employment market based on the data from the Jobberman site?

We have seen an increase in roles in the technology sector since April 2020, when we ran our “Unity in Adversity” campaign. Technology had most of the new jobs with 18.79%, followed by banking, finance and insurance with 9.27% and education and training with 6.78%.

What can we do differently in our educational system to better prepare our graduates for the jobs out there?

A transparent jobs market which gathers live data about the various sectors, job demands and skills required will help to strengthen educational institutions and support reforms in education, as well as develop industry-relevant curriculum.  Jobberman is striving for a 100% transparent market which will only be achieved when all jobs are posted online.

We are on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, children in primary school need to be developing IT skills so they can make the transition from school to work.

What are the challenges you go through gathering data?

I think it’s mostly the availability of accurate information. Data capture and storage is becoming increasingly important on the continent but we are just starting to build. We had to go through extra effort to make sure that all the information we provided in the report was true and up to date.

COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to collect data both quantitative and qualitative. Now we have to conduct interviews and focus group discussions online. The pandemic has also helped us to realise that online data collection is a growing culture with a wide gap to cover.

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Exclusives

Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami: The emergence of a marketing and brand communications guru

Oyefeso-Odusanmi has certainly marked her presence in the corporate world of marketing and brand communications.

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Though not everyone can be the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation at the same time, there are women equally etching their names in various industries across the globe. Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC has one of such women.

As Head, Marketing and Communications, Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami is showing that her 22 years of experience in brand strategy, sponsorships, digital marketing and communications have equipped her in ways a Doctoral degree might not have, especially since Integrated Marketing Communications is hardly offered as an independent course in institutions.

Bridget Oyefeso-Odusami bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from Lagos State University, and a Post Graduate degree from the University of Leicester, UK, before foraying into marketing communications.

Career journey

She was Marketing Manager of Aero Airlines for 6 months, and was with British Airways for 9 years, serving in several various marketing and sponsorship positions.

Her professional recognition started back from her time managing the British Airways corporate image in Nigeria and other African countries, where she received the highest ratings for creativity, innovation and dedication for functional responsibilities at British Airways Plc, the best of British Airways community volunteering award.

She served as Executive Director at Change-A-Life between September 2009 and June 2010, and was also Head, Sponsorship and Event at First Bank Nigeria Limited for over 6 years.

Oyefeso-Odusami served as Corporate Investment Banking Marketing Manager at Stanbic IBTC for over a year, before assuming the position of Head, Marketing and Communications department in acting capacity. The appointment was confirmed in January 2019.

It was in this position that she emerged winner of the Outstanding Corporate Communications Personality of the Year 2019 at the MARKETING EDGE Marketing and Advertising Awards of Excellence. According to the presiding board, her versatility and inspiring growth in the Corporate Communications sector and performance in the marketing, advertising and brand management environment, had distinguished her among other nominees.
In August 2020, Oyefeso was appointed Non-Executive Director of the Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited Part-time.

Professional qualifications

She is a certified member of professional bodies such as Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), UK, National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria, NIMN and an associate member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). She is also a member of Women in Business and Management (WIMBIZ), and has taken part in different global business and economic summits.

Other interests

Outside the business of marketing and brand communications, Oyefeso-Odusami mentors women and joins missionaries to reach out to widows in Northern Nigeria. She is also actively involved in a couple of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

She attributes much of her successes to constant self-development, worklife balance, and properly apportioning time to work, family and self.

In an interview, she said, “Stay true to your commitments and give no room for excuses. Having the right support system also makes the balancing act easier. I believe they go hand in hand and flow into one another, with one fuelling the other and giving it room to flourish.”

She also noted that she had been fortunate to work in organisations that allowed her to grow and rise as far as her talent and desire could take her, irrespective of gender, and had the privilege of good career mentors.

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The story of women shattering the invisible ceiling always seem so rosy and inspiring to others, that the years of sweating it out are almost forgotten. Regardless of this, talent and hardwork will continue to separate the best from the rest.

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