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The Media can make or break economy, says Bunmi Oke. President AAAN

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Bunmi Oke is the President of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) and the representative of the industry at the national conference going on in Abuja. Aside all that, she is the Chief Operation Officer/Executive Director of 141 Worldwide, an advertising service company. She recently clocked 50 having put in 28 years in the industry.
In this interview with GODDIE OFOSE and REGINA WHENU in her office in Lagos, Oke speaks on the role of the media in building business and nation, and on how Nigeria will remain one of the most attractive markets for foreign direct investment.

 

With all sense of responsibility and humility, there is a subject called crisis management. And if it wasn’t a difficult situation, it wouldn’t have to be a subject of research on its own. One unfortunate thing about any crisis is that nobody knows how they are going to act because you cannot rehearse or prepare for a crisis.
Some people are experts in crisis management because they’ve managed so many. The reaction and the time must be looked at because it’s a new problem which nobody has encountered before in the history of Nigeria.
I don’t think anybody prepares for crisis in this part of the world. Advanced nations have learnt that they need to prepare for crisis management but we are yet to learn.
There is need for a new level of communication management. Appropriate method of reaction to crisis situations and the communication strategy to handle these periods must be implemented. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) must step up its game by educating Nigerians on how to prepare for crisis management.
An average individual cannot just handle communication crisis. You need a team of professionals to do this. We do not realise how important communication management is during any challenge in the country. Foreign intervention so far, even in terms of measurement of achievement, is not much. But the difference is that they are communicating what they are doing daily.
Look at the Malaysian Airline crash. Nothing has happened since that day, they still have not found even a bicycle spoke, but they’ve managed the emotions of the people, families of victims and everyone around the world because of adequate communication strategy. Now, people are prepared for the worst. Everybody dreads the unforeseen, but it is well managed. That has been communication management.
We are at a level in Nigeria where we’ve got to start doing things professionally. It looks like everybody can do that, but no, you need to have professionals.

How best can the government address insurgency, especially in respect of security information?
We need to be frank and match ourselves with countries that have fast-tracked development, like Dubai, which took a conscious effort. They are now marketing those countries in such a way that would make them attractive. It is driven both by the government and private sector. We must remember that there is collective effort in security in the sense that everybody must be their neighbour’s keeper.
We must not turn a blind eye when things happen. There should be a national re-orientation for citizens and the government at all levels where everybody takes up the responsibility to be informal ambassadors. If people meet, what impression would I create in their minds? You must be an informal ambassador of your country, of yourself, of your local government and of course of your state.
And until we all take up that mantle to say I must play my part, the government cannot do everything. By doing the right thing, the government can also be forced to take responsibility at their own level by the time we take up our own.
You don’t see most foreigners talk negatively about their country, yet their countries are not perfect. You see foreigners coming here on a daily basis. They were all here at the World Economic Forum, which got negative publicity because of insecurity in the country.
The government will do its best, people will come because risk is part of life, but my point is, if it was so bad there must be something good. In every situation, something good will come out of it.
That is why I say the media is powerful. The media has the power to make or break any business or country. The media should embark on a conscious campaign to rebuild Nigeria. Besides, media marketing communications also have a huge role to play. We can write the copy line, media can do the press releases; we can work with government to expose these materials. This conscious effort would produce good result for us instead of waiting for the government all the time.

How close are we to that Nigerian dream?
I have no prophetic capability, so I cannot answer that question categorically. Many things defy the odds. When people say this is how things are done globally, you find out that it defies the odds here.
For instance, it is only in Nigeria that a 36-year-old is still referred to as youth. You will see a man who is 75 years old, who will say he is just starting life when he should be in the departure lounge.
In all sense of responsibility, I think united we stand, divided we fall. When the house is not united, you cannot do anything. I think we should wait and let time tell, because who would have believed that Chibok was going to be a global issue. It has brought out our humanness; it has brought out the importance of the media, the importance of digital technology, and borderless communication, and so many things.
As time goes on, many Nigerians will understand the power of social media, and by the time we get to conclusions, and it is an open discussion, Nigerians will take up the topic they agree with or don’t agree with. Those days when you put things under the table are gone, that is why proceedings are done in the open. Everybody finds out that you are speaking not just for yourself.

Why are there no mergers and acquisitions in advertising when banking, oil and gas, manufacturing and other sectors thrive on them?
We shouldn’t take any industry in isolation of its growth chart. Just like in marketing. Look at the life cycle of advertising in Nigeria, let’s face it, a lot of the pioneer advertising have been individuals. They are entrepreneurs who have paid their dues. Therefore if you build something, it’s unlikely that you want to let it go just like that. It’s the sentiment.
In other countries the life cycles of the companies are different. They’ve come to a point when they realise that united we stand, divided we fall. They’ve realised that a one man-business normally dies with that person. That’s why you find out that a lot of the multinationals have passed from two or three generations to what they are today. They are not in the first generation of the owners, so to speak. The life cycle of different countries reflect on that type of thinking.
As we all get to the middle age and start moving up, the thinking is going to change. In digital technology, we are going to see a new crop of thinking that might be totally different. Things are going to change. There are still going to be multinational and local industries that require the services of marketing communications consultants.

How has marketing communication faired in the past three decades?
I started my career in Grant advertising at 22, and if I’m going to be 50, that means one way or another I’ve been in the industry for 28 years. I only took a break, a biological break when I had my children. I have always been in media and marketing communications.
One thing I have learnt is that our industry is very much dynamic. You have to always change with the time to remain competitive. The education you have today is only going to be valid for two years, not to talk of now with digital technology. The point I’m bringing out is that I learnt two things. Always try and anticipate the need to develop yourself at any point so that you can be relevant. You must be consistent with what goes on. The body will age, but the brain does not have to age. So to keep the brain youthful, you have to keep in touch with reality. Dynamism is what determines this industry.
The second thing I discover is that if you want to play, I always like the idea of playing at the international level but with local knowledge. And that has been a personal dream. I want to be able to go to anywhere in the world and fit in. This means that I have to keep myself abreast of communication language.
The other part I also discovered is that you need very much to be a good team player to be able to evolve. I have had the opportunity to work with different people and discovered that everybody has individual skills that are harnessed when the strength is brought together. If somebody is a good copywriter and doesn’t have a product to sell, he will languish in the dark.

Is the advertising industry immune to falling standards?
We have to be careful, because standard can be misconstrued. In marketing communication, we must evolve communication plans that help to project the businesses, services and products that have a brand issue or a communication issue at hand. Don’t forget that businesses are also evolving. When you say falling, it could be relative and that is why I find it very difficult to answer your question.
For instance, more people attend school now in Nigeria; but in terms of quality, written and spoken English, three decades ago, if somebody finished Standard Six in Nigeria, they would write very good English. Now you have people who are leaving university who cannot construct good sentences in English. And they would say more people are now getting tertiary education.
I have my personal standards, but that does not mean it is something that must come across the board. For example, I do not like to use fingers to eat food like eba and amala, and it’s not a matter of being posh. I just don’t want the thing to get stuck in my fingers because I keep long nails.
Professionalism is what I like to measure against world class standard. That is in terms of delivery, turn-around time and ability to solve problems. It doesn’t mean that the materials that come from the UK are necessarily the material that would fly here. But we can meet some certain basic standards.

What is the industry’s position at the confab?
For now, what we are trying to do is let the government understand the need to use marketing communication services to market Nigeria for greater development, and that starts by using the mixture of both professionals and those who work in communication mix to come together and reposition Nigeria. Without it, there is nothing we would do.
Whatever the government comes out with, I still believe it is critical to have an organ of government that has established marketing communication. For instance, every embassy should be a marketing outlet for Nigeria, and we must also have a unified structure there. Even our orientation campaign should be internally generated.
So there is a lot of work to be done, but professionally. Let’s borrow a leaf from what the multinationals do when they are launching a new product, they see it as a business which must bring in returns. Why can’t we see Nigeria as a business, and do everything to re-position it so that it can bring in the much-needed returns?

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Transcorp Group Announces N142 Billion Revenue, N58.8 billion PBT, and Celebrates 10 year’s unbroken Dividend payment, at 18th Annual General Meeting

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Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp Group or the Group), Nigeria’s leading listed conglomerate, announced 57% revenue growth, from N90.3 billion in 2022 to N142.1 billion in 2023, at its 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Monday, May 27, 2024, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

The Company’s outstanding financial results were driven by successful execution across all business lines and demonstrated Transcorp Group’s ability to deliver to all its stakeholders, including shareholders. At the AGM, Transcorp Group confirmed excellent year-on-year growth: the Group’s total assets grew by 20% increase, up from N422.7 billion in 2022 to N529.9 billion in 2023, PBT grew from N30.3 billion in 2022 to N58.8 billion in 2023, and PAT for the Group increased from N16.8 billion to N32.5 billion. This performance was due to the strong results across its subsidiaries: Transcorp Hotels Plc, Transcorp Power Plc, Transafam Power Ltd, and Transcorp Energy Ltd.

The Group’s power subsidiaries, which together with its strategic investment in OPL281, form the basis of its integrated energy strategy, also achieved significant growth, achieving a profit increase of 63%, from N17.7 billion in the previous year to N28.9 billion in 2023. Transcorp’s power businesses, Transcorp Power Plc and Transafam Power, provide over 20% of Nigeria’s installed power capacity and the Group recently entered the distribution sector, through its investment in Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc.

The Group’s hospitality business achieved record average occupancy of 81%, with profit increasing by 105% from N4.6 billion in the previous year to N9.5 billion in 2023; while revenue grew by 36% from N30.4 billion in 2022 to N41.5 billion.

President/Group CEO, Dr. Owen D. Omogiafo, OON, highlighted the Group’s strategic growth plans, including the multipurpose, world-class 5,000-capacity event centre at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, opening this year, as well as the ambition to increase available power generation capacity. She said: “The reward for success is more work, and across our Group, we are not relenting. We are focused on maximising our strengths and opportunities for vertical growth, to deliver more value and achieve sustainable growth. We are confident that the coming year will bring even more value to our shareholders.”

Tony O. Elumelu, CFR, Group Chairman, explained: “Transcorp Group has not only recorded unprecedented growth, the Group has demonstrated its potential to deliver much more value to stakeholders and to our country. The sustained success of all our businesses reflects our resolute stance on corporate governance, our commitment to improving lives and transforming communities, and the priority we place on our people. Despite the current macro-economic challenges, the future remains an exciting one”.

“Government has a critical role to play. We remain committed to creating more value and appreciate the policies already implemented. However, we call on the Federal Government to prioritise the crippling issues in the power sector. The challenges in the power sector should be uppermost in our nation’s transformation agenda. The private sector cannot thrive without improved access to electricity. Fundamentally reforming the power sector is essential to our national economic transformation.”

Shareholders at the AGM approved a dividend of 10 kobo, a 100% increase over the previous year. The financial year 2023 is the 10th consecutive year of consistent dividend payment by Transcorp Group.

Shareholders also lauded Transcorp Group’s commitment to growing shareholder value and strong corporate governance, as well as its consistency in paying dividends year-on-year. The Group’s commitment to community and social responsibility, inclusive of its sustainability and CSR projects, was also commended at the AGM.

About Transnational Corporation

Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp Group) is one of Africa’s leading, listed conglomerates, with strategic investments in the power, hospitality, and energy sectors, driven by its mission to improve lives and transform Africa.

Transcorp’s power businesses, Transcorp Power Plc and Transafam Power, provide over 20% of Nigeria’s installed power capacity. Transcorp is committed to developing Nigeria’s domestic energy value chain, through its investments in OPL287. The Group’s hospitality business, Transcorp Hotels Plc owns the iconic Transcorp Hilton Abuja, Nigeria’s flagship hospitality destination, and has launched the digital platform Aura by Transcorp Hotels.

www.transcorpgroup.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anxiety as CBN sacks 200 employees

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No fewer than 200 officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria were on Friday relieved of their duties, adding to the long list of ongoing disengagements in the apex bank, Saturday PUNCH reports.

This adds to the list of 117 staff sacked by the bank between March 15th and April 11, 2024.

The termination of appointments affects directors, deputy directors, assistant directors, principal managers, senior managers and lower-ranking staff.

Impeccable sources who are staff of the bank confirmed the sacking to our correspondent on Friday, adding that the sacked persons were more than 200 but not less than 200.

They revealed that the new move included older directors who were not affected by the last round of retrenchment.

One of the sources in a 20-second call with our correspondent simply stated, “It is true and confirmed.”

The staff who could not disclose further details for fear of being tapped added that the move had caused palpable apprehension amongst staff of every cadre as the management had not specified any standard criteria for the decisions.

Another undeniable authority confirmed the information, indicating that additional dismissals are expected in the months ahead, spread out across staggered phases.

The official said, “It is real and is even more than 200 officials but the actual number is unconfirmed yet. The sacking is coming in staggered phases and that is why we can’t confirm the number yet.

“But it is not less than 200. The sacked persons include directors and other cadres but the ones that are easily known are the directors. Some of the old directors that were not affected during the last round of sacks are now affected.”

The sack letter obtained by our correspondent and issued by the Human Resources Department on May 24, 2024, indicated that the policy was to reorganise the organisation for effective operations.

The letter, lacking a signature, read, “The new strategic direction of the bank has been widely publicised. In line with our new mission and vision, the bank is currently undergoing a significant organisational and human capital restructuring process.

“As a result of this review, I have been directed to notify you that your services will not be required with effect from Friday, 24th May 2024. Your final entitlements will be calculated and paid to you in due course. Thank you”

In February, at least 1,500 members of staff of the apex bank of Nigeria were redeployed from the headquarters located at Central Area to its Lagos office.

At the time, the CBN said the action was necessitated by several factors, including the need to align the bank’s structure with its functions and objectives and redistribute skills to ensure a more even geographical spread of talent.

It added that it was also in compliance with building regulations, as indicated by repeated warnings from the facility manager, and the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Decongestion of the CBN Head Office.

Efforts to get the reaction of the Director of Corporate Communication, Hakama Sidi Ali, was not successful as she did not respond to several calls sent across to her or reply the text messages to her line.

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Paris-bound bizman arrested with 111 cocaine wraps

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested a 48-year-old businessman, Emmanuel Orjinze, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine.

The suspect, who claimed to be a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on May 21 during the outward clearance of an Air France flight to Paris, France.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on the agency’s website on Sunday.

The statement read, “Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested a 48-year-old Paris, France-bound businessman, Emmanuel Okechuku Orjinze, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine, which he excreted after days of observation in the agency’s custody following his arrest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“Okechukwu, who also claims he is a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on Tuesday, May 21, during the outward clearance of Air France flight AF 878 from Abuja to Paris, France.

“After a body scan confirmed he ingested illicit drugs, he was taken into custody where he excreted a total of 111 pellets of cocaine that weighed 1.603 kilograms over three days. The suspect claimed he did business in the maritime sector while still scouting for any European football club to engage him. ”

In the same vein, the NDLEA officers operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos hinted that they had dismantled another drug trafficking syndicate at the airport.

This, they said in a statement, followed the arrest of four members of the network and the seizure of a total of 8kg of methamphetamine and 7.60kg of Loud, a synthetic strain of cannabis imported from South Africa.

The statement added that a drug trafficking syndicate was busted at the airport when an official was caught with illicit substances in their backpack and bag.

On May 21, 2024, the NDLEA officers, supported by aviation security, intercepted the official at Terminal 1 and discovered the drugs during a search, blowing the lid off the syndicate.

“A swift follow-up operation at the Ajao Estate area of Lagos led to the arrest of two other members of the syndicate: Chris Nwadozie and Chinedu Nwaosu. Further investigation led to the arrest of another member of the cartel working within the airport system on Saturday, May 25,” the statement added.

In a related development, the agency also arrested a freight agent, Sonubi Abiodun, for attempting to export eight parcels of cocaine concealed in paint buckets to the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the NDLEA operatives arrested suspects producing and distributing skuchies, a mixture of black currant and illicit drugs, in Lagos, and recovered 2,480 litres of the psychoactive substance.

In Cross River State, a suspect, Ogar Emmanuel, was arrested with 2.5kg of cannabis, while 290kg of cannabis was recovered from the warehouse of Usani Ikpi, who is still at large. Additionally, three suspects – Sa’adu Sule, Mukhtar Nura, and Hamza Nura – were arrested in Katsina State with 70kg of cannabis, which originated from Ogun State.

The statement added, “No fewer than five suspects including Ezekiel Munda, 30; and Sule Mustapha, 21, were arrested by the NDLEA operatives on Thursday, May 23, during raids at the Karu Abattoir, Jikwoyi and Tora Bora hill area of the FCT, Abuja, where 95.01kg of cannabis and different quantities of opioids were recovered from them.

“In Edo State, operatives arrested a physically challenged notorious drug dealer, Zekere Sufianu, 45, at Auchi town on Wednesday, May 22. At the time of his arrest, he was found with 751 grams of Loud, 178 grams of tramadol, and pills of swinol,” the statement concluded.

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