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Royal incursion on political turf

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Traditional rulers are gradually but increasingly getting involved in political activities under various guises, even as they are expected to be neutral.

In the run-up to 2011 general elections, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers put up an action that many interpreted as an audacious incursion into the political terrain. The royal fathers had, in an unprecedented move, openly thrown their support behind the then governor, Ikedi Ohakim, one of the contestants.

Jonathan,-Ilomuanya-and-OkorochaThe traditional rulers, had, at one of their meetings at Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri, resolved to support Ohakim’s second term bid.

In a communique signed by the then chairman of the council, Eze (Dr.) Cletus Ilomuanya; and the Secretary, Chieftaincy, Imo State, Jude Okorie, the members claimed that Ohakim had recorded unprecedented achievements in piloting the affairs of the state that he needed to be encouraged to continue in office for a second term.

The communique added that the traditional rulers in Imo were highly satisfied with the “extra-ordinary and superlative” achievements of the governor. They therefore resolved that all the traditional rulers in the state would stand by him in the 2011 governorship election.

Ohakim incidentally lost the election to the current governor, Rochas Okorocha, who ran on the ticket of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Okorocha has since ditched APGA for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The unusual step by the traditional rulers’ body is yet to be retraced from Imo politics. If anything, the government has built on it, and, in the process, systematically tying the royal fathers to its apron strings, albeit in veiled forms.

For instance, early in the life of the administration, the governor unfolded strategies to stamp out kidnapping and other violent crimes in the state with the traditional rulers placed as Chief Security Officers of his Community Government Council (CGC) initiative.

Apparently to underscore the importance of the initiative, Okorocha vowed to interrogate and withhold the salary of any monarch from whose domain a kidnapper was detected and apprehended.

Even with foot-soldiers of the governor swearing that the move was intended to rid the state of criminals and bring governance to the people, his political opponents, however, saw the arrangement as a veiled attempt at erecting a platform with which to co-opt and coerce traditional rulers into the politics of the state.

They argue in particular that proven loyalty of a traditional ruler to the governor is a major consideration in his participation in the scheme.

Sam Onwuemeodo, the governor’s media assistant, has however denied the charge, insisting that the exercise is merely intended at taking governance to the grassroots

“That is the erroneous interpretation of the waning opposition. The idea (CGC) is to (quicken) development at the grassroots and enhance healthy competition among the communities for development,” he said.

Ideas, he stressed, are bullets, arguing that the opposition in the state has been overtaken by events.

Elsewhere, there have also been actions that have been seen as amounting to involving monarchs in politics. Recently, for example, President Goodluck Jonathan came under attack from the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Odulana Odugbade, over his visit to the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, without seeing him.

The Olubadan, who is the current chairman of the Oyo State Council of Obas, felt slighted that the President visited his state without first calling on him. Jonathan had, within the period, paid courtesy visits on the Oba of Lagos, the Alaafin of Oyo, the Ooni of Ife and the Emir of Kano in an unprecedented one-day traditional rulers visiting programme.

Incensed that he was ignored during the visit, Oba Odugbade described the trip as selective, and capable of jeopardising the peace and bringing the Ibadan chieftaincy institution to disrepute.

Olubadan and other members of the Oyo State Council of Obas were said to be waiting for Jonathan, hoping he would visit his palace. However, on arriving Ibadan, the President, accompanied by Governor Abiola Ajimobi, drove straight to see the Alaafin.

The action, according to the Secretary of the Oyo State Council of Obas, showed that Ajimobi still recognised the Alaafin as the permanent chairman of the Oyo Council of Obas and Chiefs, stressing that it was contrary to the state’s Chieftaincy Law as amended in 2011, which prescribes that the chairmanship should be rotated among the Alaafin, the Olubadan and Soun of Ogbomosho every two years.

Jonathan has, however, cleared the air on the visit, stressing that he holds the Olubadan in high esteem and had no intention of ignoring him.The explanation appeared to have rested the issue.

Critics, however, fault the gradual but steady co-option of traditional rulers by high officials of federal and state governments into politics under different guises. Some particularly frown at the President’s selective visits to influential traditional rulers, interpreting the exercise as veiled attempt at initiating his 2015 campaigns from the back door. Those who reason along this line insist that the action and the royal fathers’ acquiescence run counter to the role expected of them in stabilising the polity.

Curiously, 1999 Constitution appears silent on traditional rulers’ participation in politics. Lawyers are, therefore, divided on whether the royal fathers should participate in the game in any way.

Monday Ubani, chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja, Lagos, for instance, argued that it is only in monarchical arrangement that traditional rulers have defined role in politics, but not in a presidential democracy as being practised in Nigeria. In the latter system, he said, the role of the royal fathers is essentially advisory.

Similarly, his colleague, Abdulazeez Ibrahim, who spoke from Kaduna, emphasised that the Constitution does not have provision for traditional rulers’ participation in politics, adding that allowing them to join in the fray would widen the scope of ethnic politics in the land.

Two other lawyers, who asked not to be mentioned, told our reporter that the prescription of traditional rulers’ non-involvement in politics is basically a moral issue that has no constitutional backing. They argued that given that the traditional rulers are held as fathers in their respective communities, they are not expected to be overtly affiliated to any political organisation.

Incidentally, participation of the royal fathers in politics, though under various guises, is not a recent phenomenon. During the colonial era, precisely under the Indirect Rule system, emirs were directly involved in administration of Native Authorities and Emirates, especially in collection of taxes in the North. Warrant chiefs performed similar roles in the East, and Obas in the West. The arrangement, to some extent, obtained even after the country’s Independence. Even without professing alliance to any political affiliation, the royal fathers were known to have allied with the ruling parties in their states. Some perceived to be recalcitrant or of doubtful loyalty were visited with different kinds of punishment ranging from suspension to, in extreme cases, dethronement.

Analysts, thus, see the current romance by traditional rulers with government at state and federal levels as mere survivalist strategy to keep their job.

By: Emeka Alex Duru

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CAC Places First Bank Records On Caveat Over Litigation

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The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking…

The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking the board of the bank as a result of multiple court cases filed by aggrieved directors.

The crisis rocking the bank stemmed from protests by shareholders who were kicking against the bank’s internal governance and shareholding structure, as a result of which some of them have taken their grievances to the court.

One of such is the case of Olusegun Samuel Onagoruwa v. FBN Holdings Plc in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/1271/2022), which is challenging the capacity of the Board of Directors of FBN to appoint new persons to fill vacant slots.

Onagoruwa in his suit is seeking “an order setting aside, nullifying, annulling and/or quashing the appointments and approvals of Mr. Olusola Adeeyo, Mr. Viswanathan Shankar, Mrs. Remilekun Adetola, Mr. Anil Dua and Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim as Non-Executive Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited made on the 20th day of March, 2024, by FBN Holdings PLC during the pendency of this action and in defiance of the subsisting order of this Honourable Court made on the 15th day of July, 2022.”

The motion also seeks an order restraining the above-named non-executive directors from acting or taking any steps as non-executive directors of the bank.

The current court case follows similar four other cases pending at the Federal High Court in Lagos and Abuja challenging the internal governance of FBN Limited, in addition to existing court injunctions restraining the bank from holding the last two Annual General Meetings which the bank went ahead to hold.

In a new twist to the crisis, the Corporate Affairs Commission in a letter entitled.

“Re: notification of pendency of suit no. fhc/l/cp/1575/23 against FBN holdings plc, and subsisting interim orders of the Federal High Court made on the 9th day of August 2023 restraining FBN holdings plc from holding or proceeding with its annual general meeting purportedly held on the 13th day of August 2023”, weighed in on litigations threatening to tear the old generation bank apart.

Signed on behalf of the Registrar General of CAC by Chidimma Maureen Nwite, the Commission in a letter to lawyers to some of the parties in court against FBN Holdings said: “This is to inform you that the record of FBN Holdings PLC RC: 916455 has been placed on caveat pending the determination of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1575/2023.”

A shareholder, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, said “it is imperative for the authorities to find a solution to this lingering crisis as Nigeria cannot afford another major bank’s collapse at this critical time

He called for urgent resolution of all court cases in the overall interest of depositors, shareholders and other stakeholders of the bank before further damage is done to the oldest Nigerian bank.

 

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Shalina Recognizes Major Distributors as the Main Force behind its Business Growth – Arun Raj, Chief Commercial Officer

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A leading Afro-focus multinational company, Shalina Healthcare, has said it recognizes its major distributors as one of the driving forces behind its success stories in the last one year in the face of the economic realities. This was in Lagos on Thursday at the meeting of the company with its business partners and major distributors across the country to mark the end of the financial year of the company with the main theme: “Driving Growth through Strong Business Partnerships.”

 

In his welcome speech as well as his corporate presentation, Arun Raj, the Chief Commercial Officer, Shalina Healthcare West Africa said through the efforts of the business partners ” Shalina is one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in Africa. Though the last one year had shown to be one of the most difficult for business in recent times, but were able to weather the storm through the support and resilience of our major distributors. The last one year had shown to be a very difficult time, especially for the industry, with a leading brand of about sixty years in Nigeria leaving the country, but we are assuring everyone that, despite all economic issues, Shalina continues to believe in Nigeria. We are committed to providing available and affordable quality health products. It will interest many people that in the last financial year, the company had a 19% volume growth. Though it may be below our expectations, considering the economic realities of the last one year, it is a good development.”

In the same vein, the Managing Director, Shalina Healthcare, Nigeria, Mrs. Opeyemi Akinyele, said “the purpose of the event is to refresh, appraise and evaluate the last financial year for us to forge ahead and make more impacts. The last one year has been the survival of the fittest in the business world , but here we are today with successful stories.”

 

In his own remarks, the Corporate Marketing Head of the company, Folorunso Alaran while

 

Appreciating the business partners who are the major distributors across the country said “the success stories of the company can’t be completed without the distributors.”

 

Meanwhile, in their various responses and feedback, some of the business partners commended the company for the job well-done in the outgone financial year and also made recommendations and suggestions for the company to grow bigger and higher in the upcoming new financial year. In their responses, Alhaji Rasheed Adetoro of The Will of God Multipurpose Ventures, Shaki, Oyo State and Tochukwu Agu of Atidam Pharmaceutical Limited, Lagos among other business partners were unanimous in congratulating the company for a successful financial year saying ” the reward for a good job is more good jobs.”

 

One of the high points of the event was the presentation of the “Distributor Excellence Award” to its outstanding business partners.

 

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UBA Introduces First of its Kind Scan To Resolve Complaint Portal

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Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has unveiled a Quick Response solution code, qrdispute.ubagroup.com:8088 called the ‘Scan to Resolve Complaint’ Portal with code  aimed at enhancing satisfaction and swiftly addressing customers’ disputes.

The first of its kind innovative platform marks another significant step by the bank to revolutionise customer service and streamline complaint resolution processes.

The ‘Scan to Resolve complaint’ portal is a QR-code-based qrdispute.ubagroup.com:8088,-portal conceptualised by the bank to proffer timely solution to customers’-challenges, without them having to visit the bank or branch.

With the portal, a variety of concerns including challenges around failed transactions will be quickly resolved from the comfort of their homes and business places.

UBA’s Head, Digital Banking, Olukayode Olubiyi, who spoke on the workings and benefits of the ‘Scan and Resolve Complaint’ portal explained that with the platform, difficulties with transactions on web, Point of sale machines (PoS) and Automated Teller Machines will immediately get responses and be treated within 72 hours.

“Our customers are at the heart of our business, that’s why we keep going the extra mile to constantly innovate in a bid to satisfy them. As the name implies, Scan and Resolve Complaint, is a solution driven portal which attends to complaints and issues of customers fast and promptly,” he explained.

He also disclosed that the portal is loaded with many benefits including ease of transactions, adding that “henceforth, customers are only required to scan and log in complaints while each complaint would be integrated into the portal register to make resolution seamless which also reduces customer hassles.”

According to Olubiyi, when these complaints are made, there will be an Instant verification process and notifications will be sent to customers while resolution will commence immediately with the overall aim to satisfy customer.

UBA’s Group Head, Customer Experience, Michelle Nwoga said the bank is always on the look-out to provide exceptional services to customers, and has over time developed various strategies to ensure that its service delivery is continuously upgraded to remain the bank of choice.

“UBA aims to provide the best value possible for its customers through a more interactive, user-friendly interface that will make countless opportunities available for the customers from the comfort of their homes,” she stated.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally.  Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology

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