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Columnists

Security and safety: Should one be sacrificed for the other?

Security and Safety are two words that appear to mean the same thing, but in truth are different.

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It’s a normal Saturday morning in the Olusesan household in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Bisola the Mother of the house is busy alternating between cleaning and getting breakfast ready for her 3 kids and her husband.

She had spent a considerable time mopping different parts of the expansive 3-bedroom flat in a compound of 3 other flats. She had a housekeeper that lives with them to assist with some of the chores and she beckoned on her to make eggs for the kids while she went to bathe them.

Lara, the housekeeper was humming as she entered the kitchen and was oblivious of the smell of gas and picked up the matchbox and struck a match. The explosion threw her away and shattered the kitchen windows and cabinets.

Bode the husband heard the explosion in the room where he was working on his laptop and his first thought was to head to where the kids were. He found them with his wife shaken and scared, but they all seemed okay. His wife shouted, “Lara is in the kitchen” and he immediately raced to the kitchen and found her on the ground with severe burns on her body. By this time, the neighbours had gathered and she was rushed to the nearest hospital, a victim of a gas leak.

An investigation into the incident showed that one of the gas burner knobs had been left open and gas was slowly sipping out throughout the night and all that was required was for a match to be struck to ignite the inferno.

Unknown to all concerned was that the culprit was neither Lara or Bisola (the two people most involved in cooking and use of the gas cooker), but it was Titilayo the 4-year-old daughter of the Olusesans. She had seen her mom and Lara turn the knob and start a fire to cook and she wanted to try it out. She was apparently interrupted as she opened the gas knob and left it in that state until Lara came in the next morning and the explosion happened. Thankfully, the diagnosis is that she will be fine and did not require any skin graft as she suffered only minor burns.

Tunde drops off Ibrahim, his co-worker at Oshodi Oke bus-stop and as he joins the slow-moving traffic on the bridge, he sees a guy approach him from the driver’s side and before he could react, another guy had jumped into his car and sat beside him. The new occupant shows him a gun and orders him to handover his phone, wallet and other valuables.

After collecting all these, he directs him to park the car in a secluded part of the expressway and he jumps out into the night. Tunde was left in shock and wondered how the guy got into his car so easily. The problem is Tunde’s car though it has auto-lock function when the gear is engaged, does not lock itself once a passenger alights. Tunde did not initiate the manual lock and so the passenger side door was open when his colleague got down from the car.

The above scenarios are fictional but are events that can occur in homes and on the roads in any busy part of Nigeria if adequate precautions are not taken. We expend most of our energy on the security of the household and relegate our safety to the background. We spend thousands of Naira on armored doors, guards and all the other things that give us greater security, but are unwilling to invest in smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, good tyres and other common-sense approaches that will enhance our overall safety.

Security and Safety are two words that appear to mean the same thing, but in truth are different. Our tendency to highlight one over the other has led us to become focused on one and nonchalant in relation to the other.

According to the website, Ask.com, “Safety means keeping yourself and others free from harm or danger. It means taking care not to fall or bump or run into things. It also means to avoid accidents by being careful with what you are doing.”

Security on the other hand is freedom from or resilience against potential harm (or other unwanted coercive change) caused by others.

Let us think of safety as the everyday steps and decisions we take to enable us navigate our activities in the course of each day. Some of these steps and decisions might include using the pedestrian bridge on a 10-lane expressway, facing oncoming traffic as you walk on a two-lane road, making sure pins and small objects that can be swallowed are kept away in the house, ensuring kids have no access to where drugs are kept, etc.

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The list is endless, but the key thing is to always have a critical view of each situation and to implement a common-sense approach. Security on the other hand can be all the practical/tangible means of ensuring creating a barrier between us and anyone that could potentially do us harm.

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A traffic light is just as important as equipping the Police where the welfare of the people is concerned. The carnage the absence of traffic lights can cause is exemplified by the Lekki axis after the damage done to the traffic lights in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests in Lagos. Apart from the traffic pile-up on most days, there were incidences of fatal crashes involving vehicles unshackled from the direction and control of the traffic lights.

Back to the first scenario I shared about the gas explosion, this is something that has a greater chance of occurrence. This has made some people avoid the use of gas altogether while in truth the issue is not the gas, but people not being careful with its use. I for one, I’m an advocate of placing the cylinder beside the gas cooker. This has the advantage of allowing the user to turn on and off from the cylinder itself.

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Also, at a glance, it is easy to know when the knob on the cylinder is off or on. My issue with the cylinder placed outside is that it is perpetually in the on position as going outside to turn it off and on is a bit cumbersome. The danger here is that like in the first scenario, it’s so easy for the knob on the cooker itself to be open and an individual that is not discerning or doesn’t know the smell of gas will unknowingly strike a match and engulf the area in flames.

In the second scenario, an unlocked car door is completely avoidable that most people are liable to be victims of especially in a city such as Lagos. Most modern cars have an auto-lock feature that becomes active when the gear is engaged immediately after the engine is switched on. This, however, does not come into effect when the door is opened after the engine has been switched on. It is the responsibility of the driver to re-engage the lock feature as Tunde should have done.

There are instances where safety and security clash in our society and we easily resolve the dispute in favour of security. When we build our homes in Nigeria, we install burglar-proof metals in all the windows and entrances as the name suggests to prevent burglars from getting access into our homes. This appears as a practical solution to a real problem and to most people there is no conflict.

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This is not the case in the Western World, where the Fire Marshals would frown at the installation of any impediment to access to the building in the event of a fire. Even though there have been instances in Nigeria where lives could have been saved during a fire outbreak, but the installation of burglar-proof impeded access to the victims; we have weighed the risk of fires and come to the conclusion that there is a higher risk of burglars gaining access to a building than a fire occurring.

As individuals and a group, we have to conduct both a risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis of every situation to determine which approach to take. Downplaying either of security or safety can invariably lead to loss of both lives and properties. In the long run, there should be no need to trade one for the other if we want to build an enduring culture that encourages being proactive.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Prince Bright Eweka

    February 13, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    Amazing article that paralells common-sense with personal security and safety practices.

    Well done, Emmanuel.

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Columnists

One year after Nigeria’s index case, what has her energy sector learned?

A critical question is, has the Nigerian energy sector learned anything from the oil shock?

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On February 27, Nigeria confirmed its first case of COVID-19 which at the time had infected just about 80, 000 people with a little below 3, 000 dead as a result. Exactly one year later today, with over 113, 000, 000 people infected and over 2, 500, 000 dead globally, the pandemic has radically transformed the way of life of the world. There has been learning across various sectors and a re-imagination of how things are done. A critical question is, has the Nigerian energy sector learned anything?

In early March, only about a week after Nigeria’s index case, the world was greeted by oil shocks resulting from the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, further aggravated by falling demands resulting from lockdowns, flight restrictions and the general apprehension about movement and the pandemic. Countries dependent on oil exports, like Nigeria, were concerned about the toll it would take on their economy.

Oil went to an all-time low, the lowest it has ever been in 18 years and many economies went into panic mode. It was not long before the Nigerian government removed petroleum subsidies at the tail end of Q1 as it was costing the country up to $2 billion a year. The end to subsidies -or what we assumed was the end, led to market-led pricing for petroleum.

READ: Shell Foundation and DFC mobilize $145 million for renewable energy in Africa, Asia

Around the same time, the marginal field bid rounds were launched, with the various fees to be paid by prospective investors rising exponentially from what they were under the last bid rounds, and required to be paid up front. The country also witnessed increased divestment in oil and gas assets by major oil and gas companies. At the start of Q4, the government introduced what it called service-reflective tariffs which were about twice the initial costs previously paid by customers.

There was equally a significant peak in renewable energy projects as many were turning to it for succor due to increased petroleum prices and utility power tariffs. The Federal government also launched its solar power strategy to electrify 5 million homes with solar power. We saw a heightened commitment to gas utilization, with the Central Bank introducing the N250bn intervention facility to stimulate investment in the local gas value chain.

The Minister of Petroleum for State, Chief Timipre Sylva had also promised that gas-powered cars would begin operating in October 2020. In his words “The alternative we are now introducing is gas, which is definitely going to be cheaper than the subsidised rate of PMS”.

READ: Could lack of power supply be hindering Nigeria’s COVID-19 recovery?

He went on to say that Nigerians were urged to convert their cars to dual fuel. Four months later, we are yet to see any auto gas cars ply our roads. There were also very swift moves to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) last year, and indeed many stakeholders waited expectantly for it, but the legislature failed to deliver.

Soon, the Federal Government launched the Nigerian Gas Expansion Program at the tail end of Q4, a month after the news of the country officially entering recession broke. The aim of the Program was to increase gas development from three streams- Liquefied Natural gas (LNG,) Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

With initial reports of a vaccine rollout, the oil price that had crashed to lower than $30 per barrel last year began a steady and somewhat magical rise and currently has gone as high as $67, with predictions that it could rise to as much as $100, particularly with the release of more vaccines and easing of lockdown.

READ: Dangote Group kicks off $150 million solar project

With things looking good for the country again, we see a return of the petroleum subsidy in the locked pricing of petrol. A return of fuel subsidy means heavily increased subsidy payments for the country and similarly an increased propensity for corruption and misuse of funds which has characterized Nigeria’s subsidy regime for long. We cannot claim to have learned much as a country if we think all is well, and we are out of the woods.

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It would be counterintuitive to wait on another oil shock to begin to quickly diversify our portfolio and heavily invest in gas and renewables. Like the Biblical story of Joseph and Pharaoh, we should save during our “seven fat years” for the “seven lean years”.

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This is not the time for Nigeria to sit back and gloat in its rising oil fortunes, but a time to invest in improving energy access for its citizens by funding renewable energy research, aggressively supporting a solar drive, entering into public-private partnerships for gas development and providing incentives for businesses working in the energy transition space. Perhaps climate change and the decisions made around it will be the next price cruncher for oil. Whichever way, we cannot afford not to be battle-ready.

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5 successful ways to increase profits in your business

Constantly working on these areas of your business, you are more likely to have raised profits.

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Development Bank of Nigeria , Companies Allied Matters Act (CAMA)

Most business owners are required to make certain changes to their business operations to achieve more profits. It is a fact that it is not possible to raise the profits directly, therefore, you need to increase them indirectly. It is not going to be possible without having a specific strategy in place. The only thing that is possible is improving the variables of your business and this can lead to an increase in profits and a higher bottom line.

Lead generation and conversion

A process that is used for attracting interested prospects to the business is lead generation. Suppose five people out of the ten coming to your business place end up purchasing the product or services from your business, you can try to raise the number of people coming to the business to fifteen. This allows you to make more money by increasing the profits by 50%. Lead conversion is a process used for converting the leads into paying customers. It is a measure of the effectiveness of your sales efforts. If it is possible to raise the conversion rate from 1 out of 10 to 2 out of 10 it is likely to double the sales figures and get you raised profits. There is no replacement for continuous sales training sessions. It applies to the owner and everyone that speaks to the clients.

READ: How scammers use SIM cards to rob your bank accounts

 Transactions

The number of independent sales you make to the customers you have acquired can be increased by raising the frequency of the purchases by say ten percent. You will thereby increase the number of sales and also rise profits by the same amount. Think about the things you could do for getting your existing customers to purchase more from your business and also make these purchases frequently. The size of the transaction and the profit you make from every one of them matters as well. You need to be on the lookout for ways of up-selling all the customers so that this person will buy more every time.

Profit margins

Profit margins could be the gross profits you make from all the sales of products or services. By finding out the ways of raising the price or lowering the cost of making the product and services without reducing the quality you will be able to raise the profits per every sale. All the money you save while holding the costing constant flows straight to the business bottom line as profit. Every time you decrease the expenses and at the same time, if you can hold the sales and revenues constant, money is going straight to your pocket as net profit.

Reach a global audience

In the modern scheme of things, all cities are turning into global economies. Therefore language translation services can be used for increasing the profits of any business big or small. It might be a good idea to translate the content on your website to reach a global audience. The global language services industry is rising quickly and can touch a figure of $50 billion by the end of the year. Most of these services these days are used by both private and government sectors alike. With rising globalization, the demand for translation is also increasing.

Customer acquisition costs

Consider the amount of money you have to spend to acquire every paying customer. You need to continuously be on the lookout for creative ways of improving your promotion and advertising so that there is a reduction in the money you have to spend to get a new customer. This will have a positive effect on the profits of your business. You can also try to increase the number of customers that come to you as a result of referrals from your existing satisfied customers. Developing single or multiple referral systems can impact the business positively and in turn, can help in making more money for your business.

Conclusion

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When you are constantly working on these areas of your business seeking improvement in all of them, you are more likely to have raised profits. You will make more money and it will contribute to the success of your future financial endeavours.

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