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ICANN NextGen Policy Forum @ J’burg seeks applicants

ITRealms : The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has opened call for application for its Next Generation par...

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ICANN NextGen Policy Forum @ J’burg seeks applicants

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has opened call for application for its Next Generation participants at the forthcoming Policy Forum, slated for Johannesburg, South Africa, reports ITRealms.
According to information reaching ITRealms, showed that Public Forum meeting has been slated for Johannesburg, South Africa between June 26 through 29, 2017.
This call, ICANN said, is for those between 18 and 30 years old and interested in the domain name system, Internet governance issues, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) public policy work.
In addition, ITRealms gathered that the NextGen application time frame which commenced on Monday, January 16 is expected to close by February 24, 2017.

The outcome of the selection process, ITRealms gathered will be announced by March 27, 2017.
Chuks Egbune/GEe
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Promoting entrepreneurship among youths

Providing adequate funding for entrepreneurs remains a priority for Heritage Bank Plc. The lender has not only partnered the Bank of Industry (BoI) to promote wealth creation and curb unemployment among the youth, it has also secured $150 million support from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to boost the financing of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) expected to quicken economic recovery, writes COLLINS NWEZE.

Every lender with eyes on the future and commitment to getting the economy out of the woods thinks entrepreneurship and wealth creation.

The need to stimulate the economy has become more pronounced now than ever, after the price of the country’s mono product, crude oil, crashed in the international market, throwing the economy into its first recession in over 25 years.

But banks have critical roles to play in reversing the trend, and putting the economy on a sustainable path of growth, via entrepreneurship development and funding.

For Heritage Bank Plc, entrepreneurship development and funding, are at the hallmarks of its market growth plan. The lender has, therefore, sought critical partnerships and collaborations to realise its vision for the economy and commitment to entrepreneurship, seen as the engine block of all thriving economies.

For instance, Heritage Bank and the Bank of Industry (BoI) have sealed an entrepreneurship deals that would promote wealth creation and curb unemployment among the youth. The bank also secured $150 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) funding support from African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank), a frontline African financial institution.

Afreximbank says it believes in the uniqueness of the business strategy of Heritage Bank, especially the Small Growing Business focus of the lender which aligns with its founding mission.

Speaking at the opening of Live Well Bia Foods Outlet in Surulere, Lagos, the Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo, said both institution’s support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)-supported programmes would take the country out of ongoing recession.

Represented by the bank’s consultant on SMEs, Mrs. Raliat Oyetunde, Sekibo explained: “It is in time of recession that new millionaires emerge. This is an opportunity for the young ones between the ages of 18 and 35 to key into the various financing channels provided by Heritage Bank and BoI.”

According to him, the documentation and financing of this project were concluded with due diligence within six weeks. “We need more young entrepreneurs, such as the Managing Director, Bia Live Well Outlet, Fadesola Adedayo, to take Nigeria to the next level because the outlet will be opened in 47 other locations across the country,” he said.  He added that passion, mentorship and finance were critical to budding entrepreneurs.

BoI’s Acting Managing Director, Waheed Olagunju, affirmed that the support of BoI and Heritage Bank to further empower young entrepreneurs would lead to the recovery of the economy.

He said improved investment would activate a quick recovery of the economy that has been in a state of decline. According to him, supporting young entrepreneurs through funding is necessary to improve the quality of life of many Nigerian youths with desire to be self-reliant.

“BoI will continue to support youth with innovative projects like this venture because he has not just created a job for himself but for many others in the value chain. The visionary and talented youths with viable business plans would be supported by banks to drive the industrialisation of the country.

In a statement announcing the Afreximbank deal, Heritage Bank’s Divisional Head, Corporate Communications, Olusola Longe-Okenimkpe, said: “HBCL Investment Services Limited (HISL), a major shareholder of Heritage Bank Limited, has executed the term sheet for the issuance of guarantee for its $150 million Convertible Bond with the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) to support Heritage Bank PLC in its next phase of growth.’’

Support for budding entrepreneurs
A budding entrepreneur with unique business idea of turning trashes into beautiful furniture, Mrs. Marvis Marshal-Idio has won the Heritage Bank’s sponsored entrepreneurial competition show, Next Titan Season 3. The star prize was N5 million from Heritage Bank, which is the official sponsor of the competition and a brand new car from Coscharis Motors.

The Next Titan is Nigeria’s entrepreneurial reality TV show, a brain child of Mide Kunle-Akinlaja, where ambitious young entrepreneurs compete for a grand prize of N5 million and a brand new car to start his dream business.

At the grand finale in Lagos, four finalists: Ronald Ajiboye, a first class graduate of a Russian University; Marvis Marshal-Idio, who came with a unique business idea of turning trashes into beautiful furniture; Victoria Mamza, founder of Wangarau Foods andSunday Ewolabi, founder of Naija Peanuts, competed for the star prize N5 million and a brand new Ford Eco Sport.

The panel of judges made up of Chris Parkes, Chairman/CEO, CPMS Africa, an integrated marketing communications firm; Tonye Cole, CEO of Sahara Group and Lilian Olubi, CEO of Primera Africa Securities Limited evicted Ajiboye and unanimously upheld Marshal-Idio as the star prize winner.

The four finalists emerged from the top 16 contestants with the brightest ideas that were shortlisted from 50 aspiring entrepreneurs that were selected from auditions held in Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Lagos.

The 16 contestants lived together and competed among themselves by carrying out weekly business tasks and challenges around Lagos for nine weeks on television and with weekly evictions in the boardroom by the judges.

Divisional Head, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) of the bank, Mrs. Ori Ogba, said Heritage Bank sponsored the project because of its unrelenting desire to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in Nigerians, adding that the bank which is just three years old, started out by recognising talents in youths.

She said besides the Next Titan, the bank was also working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Youth Service Corp (NYSC) on the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Programme (YIEDP).

The YIEDP is aimed at empowering youths between 18 and 35 with particular focus on serving National Youth Corps members (NYSC) and post-NYSC members (not more than five years post service) towards harnessing the latent entrepreneurial drive among the youth.

Mrs. Ogba said about 310 applicants have  been approved by CBN as beneficiaries of the programme in this first phase of the scheme.

Lender takes empowerment of Rivers
River State government praised Heritage Bank for its role in enhancing youth entrepreneurship development and engendering self-employment through its various initiatives and products.

The government lauded the bank’s effort at administering and management of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N3 billion Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP) and its partnership with the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), which recently graduated 100 young entrepreneurs in the CVL Young Entrepreneurship Training Programme (YETP).

Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Ipalibo Banigo stated this at the one-day Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Development (LEAD) Summit, hosted by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) in partnership with the Second Opportunity Africa Foundation and Heritage Bank Plc.

Speaking on the summit, titled: “Youths leading entrepreneurs in non-oil economy,” Banigo said Heritage Bank has shown good faith to the youths which goes on to portray the welcoming  nature of the Rivers man personified in their son, Ifie Sekibo.

The wife of the Governor, Justice Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, affirmed that the LEAD Summit was the first in the state. She commended the bank for its support to youths.

Sekibo, represented by the General Manager, South Bank, Davidson Regha, said the drive to continue in the support of youths was to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations.

He explained that the entrepreneur schemes of the bank in the support for business had always focused on dependable job-creating sectors, such as agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry, snail farming), cottage industry, mining and solid minerals, creative industry (tourism, arts and craft), and Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Moody’s, Augusto okays Heritage Bank’s capitalisation
Moody’s and Augusto & Co. have affirmed that Heritage Bank’s capitalisation remains sound in relation to its low asset risk model and can generate income from its core business and settle its obligation as at when due.

According to Moody, under the new methodology, the bank’s credit metrics’ ratings remain consistent with an a3 BCA when measured against Australia’s macro profile.

In a statement, the bank said this was meant to furnish investors with objective analyses and independent assessments of its securities, bonds and credit assets. It was also meant to engage the services of Moody and Augusto & Co. to provide superior information on credit risk and other investment instruments.

“The international and local ratings investment metrics is a welcome development to the bank and, in light of this sterling achievement, we swiftly need to improve on our performances in order to boost our subsequent ratings,” it said.

Also, Agusto & Co, Nigeria’s first Credit Rating Agency and a Pan African leader in credit ratings and credit reports, affirmed same rating with Moodys on all rated assets and instruments.


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OPC hails DSS over arrest of Boko Haram suspects in Lagos, warns saboteurs

The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) has commended the Department of State Services (DSS) for the arrest of Boko Haram suspects in the commercial nerve centre of the nation, Lagos State, reports ITRealms.

The commendation was contained in a statement on Sunday by the National Coordinator of the OPC, Otunba Gani Adams.

The DSS had on Tuesday said it arrested four Boko Haram members in Lagos.

The secret service said the Boko Haram members, who fled from Borno State, were arrested in Oko Oba area of Lagos State.

Commenting on the development, Adams praised the DSS and sent out further warnings to criminal elements in the South West and other States with OPC presence that they would not be allowed to fester.

Adams said his group was on the alert to combat any untoward development or atrocity by Boko Haram members.

“This is also to warn those who are out to cause division within the rank of the Yoruba speaking people of the South West and North Central States that their antics would be resisted.

“We as a group are out to ensure the unity of the Yoruba race as this is the only way to maintain the cohesiveness that exists at present.

“As such, dissidents who feel they can use the opportunity of the dialogue platform being created among the Yoruba race, especially for and by our revered monarchs, to cause disunity will not only have their moves truncated but disgraced and exposed for who they are.

"Adams called for vigilance among Yoruba speaking people so as not to allow “the enemy infiltrate to wreck havoc.”


Ayo Omidele/GEE 
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Airtel excites trader, presents him N10m prize in Red Hot Promo

Surprised to have emerged winner of N10 million in the ongoing Red Hot Promo Season 4, Chinonso Ikezulumba, a customer of leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, immediately fell flat on the floor as he was presented his prize at the telco’s office in Awka, Anambra State, report ITRealms.

Chinonso, a petty fashion trader who resides in Awka, was invited to the Airtel office to pick up his cheque as one of the winners in the promo. According to him, he thought everything was just ‘story’ until the staff brought out the dummy cheque and the real cheque. When he realized that it was real he threw himself on the floor to prostrate and later got up to receive the cash prize.

He explained that his fashion business at Nnewi Market had since collapsed. And he had prayed during the Christmas to God to give him N10 million to restart his business. “God has answered my prayer through Airtel Red Hot Promo,” Chinonso said.

Chinonso further explained that he has several plans this year and the windfall will help him to achieve them. He was accompanied to the Airtel Office by his mother and two sisters.

Apart from Chinonso, many other Airtel customers across Nigeria have had their status turned around for good through the ongoing Red Hot Promo. Recently, a traffic officer in Lagos, Oluwasegun Adesanya, won N10million Naira, while 48-year old Lagos-based trader, Mrs. Kemi Siwoku, smiled home with N1million, and an interior decorator, Mr. Olawunmi Olaosebikan, won N1m which he plans to use to restart his iron fabrication business. Many other customers have won cash prizes and airtime. 

According to Airtel, over 360,000 customers will win different prizes in this year’s edition. Airtel will give away N200 million in cash prizes to customers in the promo. Eight lucky customers will win the weekly grand prize of N10,000,000 each while 60 customers will become instant millionaires, winning N1, 000,000 daily.

600 telecoms consumers will smile to the bank as N100,000 daily prize winners. Over the 60 day period, 6,000 participants will also emerge as N500 airtime winners, bringing the total number of winners in this year’s Red Hot promo to over 360,000.

To participate and win in the promo, Airtel customers simply need to recharge their lines, buy any voice or data bundle or take  the deal of the day by dialling *340# to enter into the daily draw. The promo is point based and customers earn points based on the value of recharge or bundle they buy.

According to Airtel, multiple recharges earn customers more points, which in turn increase their chances of being selected in the daily draws. Customers who take the deal of the day by dialling *340# also earn additional points, which increase their chances of winning. Points represent the number of entries a subscriber has in the promo and the more points a customer has accumulated, the higher the chances of winning.


Participants accumulate and keep points they earn all through the duration of the promo. Customers’ numbers will, however, be in the draw only on the days they recharge, buy a bundle or take the deal of the day. Customers can check the number of points they have accumulated in the promo by sending ‘POINTS’ as SMS to the short code, 340. This SMS is zero-rated, completely without charge. The promo will run till February 3rd 2016.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

More funds for MSMEs as DevBank takes-off

The Federal Ministry of Finance has confirmed the completion of the recruitment exercise for the Executive Management team of the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), and has formally applied for the issuance of its operational license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which is expected imminently, reports ITRealms.

The DBN, Director, Information at Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta, told ITRealms, was conceived in 2014 however, its take-off had been fraught with delays. The President Muhammadu Buhari led administration inherited the project with a determination to resolve all outstanding issues and set a target of 2017 for its take-off.

The DBN will have access to US$1.3bn (N396.5 billion) which has been jointly provided by the World Bank (WB), KfW (German Development Bank), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Agence Française de Development (French Development Agency).  The Bank is also finalising agreements with the European Investment Bank (EIB).

To provide clarification, the operations of the DBN will not in any way, result in the elimination of the Bank of Industry (BOI), Bank of Agriculture (BOA) or any other existing development bank. The operations of the DBN is clearly distinct from other development banks as it is focused on supporting small businesses defined by size and not by sectors. 

The DBN, will provide loans to all sectors of the economy including, manufacturing, services and other industries not currently served by existing development banks thereby filling an important gap in the provision of finance to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

As a wholesale bank, the DBN will lend wholesale to Microfinance Banks which will on-lend medium to long-term loans to MSMEs. The MSMEs contribute about 48.47 percent to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of Nigeria but have access to only about 5 percent of lending from Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).

The influx of additional capital from the DBN will lower borrowing rates and the longer tenure of the loans, will provide the required flexibility in the management of cash flows, giving businesses the opportunity to make capital improvements, and acquire equipment or supplies.

As the economy diversifies, the growth of the MSME sector will have a positive impact on the economy through employment generation, wealth creation and economic growth.

 Chuks Egbune/GEE

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Invest in ICT, create more Nigerian youth billionaires – Ekeh urges

To create more Nigerian billionaires, the Chairman, Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, has said must entail government investment in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), reports ITRealms.

Ekeh while chatting in a recent interview with Cable News Network (CNN) noted that with the right kind of investment in technological platforms and the overwhelming support of the government in providing the requisite enabling environment, Nigeria could effortlessly produce global billionaires.

Serial digital entrepreneur, Ekeh who has built arguably Africa’s most integrated ICT conglomerate – the Zinox Group – is confident that with significant investment in ICT, the challenge of youth unemployment, inadequate opportunities and growing restiveness among the youth can be arrested. For this to happen, he posited that the government has to actively engage the youths by investing massively in ICT which, in his opinion, has become the fancy of young people.

Ekeh is a firm believer in the numerous opportunities which abound in the rapidly evolving ICT-driven future – a knowledge economy in which wealth is no longer the exclusive preserve of a privileged few.

“The miracle of ICT is that it is the only profession in the world today that can make the child of a poor man the richest man in the world. The challenge, however, is that majority of our youths are in a closed community in which the standards are still poor so they cannot exhibit their innate intellectual strength. As a result, they are seen as defeated and a lot of them are unemployed.

“We are doing our bit to correct this situation but government support will go a long way in helping the country achieve more. Presently, Zinox is building digital training centres and tech hubs across the country and empowering many of our youths. We have also committed some significant investment in a number of tech start-ups. Recently, we invested in an Ibadan-based software company – Xputer. Interestingly, some of the apps being created by the young chaps Xputer are driving the business processes of the major e-commerce outfits in the country. All they needed was a bit of exposure and support to help them scale up.

“The same situation applies to many of our youth. Today, if you give these youths the right platforms, which I must say is not expensive, Nigeria can produce a minimum of 10 billionaires from the ICT sector in the next few years.”

"Ninety percent of youths today want to go into trending professions; lifestyle professions and that is what ICT really is. If government invests in this sector as it should, Nigeria is capable of producing several billionaires straight out of the technology space", he said.

Ekeh is the founder and Chairman of the Zinox Group, a technology company based in Nigeria that manufactures and distributes computers at home and abroad. Zinox employs 1,800 Nigerians and Ekeh thinks the company can play a role in improving the tech economy, while tapping into Nigeria's young population.

Among his many tech ventures, Ekeh pioneered Zinox Computers, Nigeria's first internationally certified and most popular indigenous computer brand which has powered several international conferences including the African Union conference in Gambia and the 18th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which held in Abuja in 2003, in addition to being severally deployed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the registration and successful conduct of elections in Nigeria.

“We came with a computer with an in-built surge protector in line with the peculiar power challenges in Nigeria. At Zinox, we are closest to the people with 14 offices nationwide. Zinox has sold in every local government and town in the country today and the call centre is 24 hours. It’s a brand for Nigeria – global standard but specific to Nigeria,” he noted.


Ekeh ranks as one of Africa's most passionate digital entrepreneurs and he has staked this reputation by pioneering several successful technology start-ups and taking them to the zenith of marketplace competition. A first rate Indian-trained economist and Risk Manager, he was honoured as an ICON of Hope by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on October 1st 2002 for his sustained pioneering effort in the area of Information technology and also as a pride to modern Nigeria.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How Nigerians can maximize visibility on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one most popular social network for professionals and top social networks in the world today. With over 380 million members, LinkedIn has growing influence as a professional networking tool and could be extremely powerful when the user is aware of the platform's hidden features.

Unfortunately, a lot of Nigerians are not fully aware of the opportunities presented to them by the LinkedIn platform. The few who are users, do not know how to maximize the platform or optimize their presence. Certainly, there is a need for business owners and professionals in Nigeria to tap into these opportunities towards building relationships with potential customers, clients, partners and peers.

Enhance your profile for search
Everyone who is conversant with social media trends, understands the necessity for an outstanding profile. The way your profile is structured and the information made available on it are key to increasing online visibility and engaging others, and so there is need to enhance your LinkedIn profile for search. Very similar to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), all you need to do to achieve this is research the keywords that relate to your industry or service and integrate them into your profile as naturally as possible.

Encourage your contacts to leave recommendations and make endorsements
Recommendations have always been essential to the reputation and credibility of any professional and so, the LinkedIn platform offers a unique feature that functions as form of recommendation for users. This feature enables members to endorse each other’s work within specific job roles and organizations, sharing evidence that adds credibility to the user’s profile and reinforcing both current and future applications. It is therefore important that users ask contacts, from colleagues to clients and even friends to endorse their profile. 

A higher number of endorsements will rank more favorable in LinkedIn search results.
Use video testimonials effectively.

Another way to up your game on LinkedIn is to use video testimonials to reinforce the quality of your work. Most users, especially sole proprietors or small business owners believe they already have a strong, existing customer base, underuse and undermine the video upload feature on LinkedIn’s profile pages. The use of video, however, can help distinguish your brand or service from the vast majority of profile pages that may even be competitors. Do some research, interview, record and upload genuine customer or client testimonials which reflect a positive light on your service. You would be capitalizing on an already existing client base.

Stay active on LinkedIn groups:
A lot of LinkedIn users are not very keen on participating actively in any of the plethora of LinkedIn groups as it usually seems time-consuming. However, its benefits and rewards are long-term. 

Basically, the user has to search for relevant professional groups that are within his industry, make selections based on the group’s popularity, relevance in terms of keywords and existing membership base, then subscribe to daily updates, delivered directly by e-mail. The user can also now participate in group discussions on the go via mobile. It is a great way to remain visible and valuable in target markets. 

The key is being careful not to over commit to too many LinkedIn groups. Simply take five or 10 minutes off your daily schedule to respond and interact with other members, as you share your insight and build strong professional bonds. These interactions usually increase your value on the platform.


*Contributed by Nkem Ndem, a PR Associate @Jumia Travel
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Monday, January 09, 2017

PMB names former Accenture boss, Sulaiman, chairman Financial Reporting Council

President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) has named, the former Country Managing Director of Accenture, Mr Adedotun Sulaiman, as the new Chairman of the board of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRN), while Mr. Daniel Asapokhai takes over from Mr. Jim Obazee, as the Executive Secretary, reports ITRealms.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, confirmed this to ITRealms, saying that President Buhari has approved the immediate removal and the replacement of the Executive Secretary, Mr. Jim Obazee and the reconstitution of the board of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRN). He has appointed a Chairman and a new Executive Secretary for the council.

This is coming as industry observers alleged the removal of Obazee was linked to the last weekend controversial retirement of Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), which has left the church divided since then.

Also, ITRealms gathered that the new Council as approved by the President has Mr Adedotun Sulaiman, as Chairman. Mr. Sulaiman was a former Managing Partner/Director of Arthur Anderson and later, Accenture. He is a Chartered Accountant and a product of the University of Lagos and Harvard Business School.

Equally, the President has approved the appointment of Mr. Daniel Asapokhai as the Executive Secretary of the Council. Asopokhai, ITRealms gathered is a partner and a Financial Reporting Specialist at the PricewaterHouseCoopers (PWC), Nigeria, and a graduate of the University of Lagos and the University of Pretoria.

President Muhammadu Buhari, he said, has also instructed the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment to invite the nineteen ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government and private sector organizations specified in the FRC Act to nominate members of the board of the council.

Until his appointment, Mr. Sulaiman has been the Group Chairman of the Board of Cornerstone Insurance Plc. He is management consultant, specializing in organizational development, enterprise transformation and business process reengineering.

In addition, Mr. Sulaiman, as reported by Reuters, is chairman of the Board of several companies, traversing several sectors of the economy with an emphasis on the emerging electronic payments industry and companies in the entrepreneurial stage.

“He began his professional as Diplomat, including a stint at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington District of Columbia (DC) as Consular Officer from late 1976 to early 1978. In late 1978, he joined the Management Information Consulting Division of Arthur Andersen & Co. which later became the Andersen Consulting, and now Accenture.

"He rose rapidly through the ranks to become Local Partner in 1984 and Partner in the Worldwide Firm in 1989; taking over from the founding Managing Partner, Dick Kramer, in 1993 and remained Country Managing Partner for both Arthur Andersen, the Audit and Tax firm as well as Andersen consulting until 1999 when with the complete separation of the consulting business from the Arthur Andersen Worldwide Organization, he became the Country Managing Director of Accenture, the new name of the independent management and technology consulting arm.

“By March 2005, he retired from his executive leadership of Accenture in Nigeria and took on the supporting role of Non-Executive Chairman and an 18-month contractual role. “


A qualified Chartered Accountant since 1981, Sulaiman attended the Program for Management Development (PMD) at the Harvard Business School in 1990, he obtained  42 years ago, a First Class Honors Degree in Business Administration from the University of Lagos.

Chuks Egbune/GEE
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Nigeria, a Ponzi scheme?

Feature@ITRealms:
Nowadays, fraudulent activities on unassuming citizens seem to have continued unabated. In this report, REMMY NWEKE asks, if Nigeria as a country is not a Ponzi scheme?
Foreword:
By now you must have heard of Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox, popularly known as (MMM) across the world including Nigeria, with one’s relative, friend, neighbor or colleague, falling victim of the MMM scheme. MMM, DigitalSENSE Business News gathered launched its official website in Nigeria on November 2015, with a claim of a "30 per cent per month" return on investment (ROI) in addition to accruable bonuses. Although the scheme have been largely described by the founders as a "mutual aid fund where ordinary people help each other."

By end of January 2016, MMM had fully landed in Nigeria, the most populace black nation and 10 months later, and precisely by end of October 2016, an estimated 2.4 million Nigerians had signed up to this scheme; which primary aim was the teeming unemployed Nigerians, among other disenchanted populace who are saddened by the hardening economic realities of recession in the country.

The unprecedented growth of the MMM scheme definitely attracted the attention of the members of the nation’s National Assembly both at the Senate and House of Representatives, prompting their resolution to quickly call on the security agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to thoroughly investigate the so-called MMM.

Historical brief on MMM:
Nowadays MMM is defined as a Ponzi scheme game based on a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organization, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned through legitimate sources.
Established 27 years ago, MMM was founded by the Russian trio of Sergei Mavrodi, his brother Vyacheslav Mavrodi, and Olga Melnikova, with the name of the company taken from the first letters of the three founders' surnames, according to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Until 1991 December, MMM was importing computers and office accessories and by January 1992, tax police accused MMM of tax evasion, leading to the collapse of MMM-bank, culminating in the inability of the company to fund operations. By mid-1994 MMM had created an acclaimed “successful” Ponzi scheme, attracting investment from private sectors with promised annual returns of up to 1,000 percent. Industry watchers said it is not certain whether a Ponzi scheme was Mavrodi's initial intention, although such overgenerous returns might have been possible during the Russian hyper-inflation, not to talk of the attendant criminal cases against the lead founder of MMM scheme.

МММ could pass for one of the world's largest Ponzi schemes of all time, in the 1990s estimated 5 to 40 million people losing up to $10 billion, just as in 2011, MMM re-opened as "MMM Global" with up to 110 subsidiaries per country, it became widely popular in various African countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

MMM Nigeria:
In Nigeria, the MMM operates with acclaimed deposit scheme that promises a 30 per cent interest on investment per month, involving the use of money from earlier investors to pay later investors, and the operators are aliens to Nigerian regulatory agencies, namely the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) as well as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), which makes it extremely difficult to legally identify the promoters, hence its widely criticized as a Ponzi scheme.

Rising on the heels of a motion of urgent national importance raised by Hon. Akinlade Fijabi from Oyo State, who described MMM as a ‘Rob Peter to Pay Paul Scheme’ said the MMM operators are exploiting the economic situation of Nigerians that had left them desperate for income through any means without considering much of the consequences.
For another lawmaker from Ondo State, Bode Ayorinde, lawmakers’ intervention is crucial because they will likely be inundated with petitions if the scheme goes burst. Just as his Enugu counterpart, Dennis Amadi, said the House should save Nigerians from themselves, because the collapse of MMM could make many commit suicide. Precipitating, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara ruled that the motion was adopted and urged the committee to expedite its investigation and report back to House within four weeks.

But before the duration of the investigation could go mid-way, CBN warned Nigerians insisting that MMM is a Ponzi scheme and invariably on suspicious of what could befall MMM, the promoters sent out words on November 13 that all members account in Nigeria have been frozen for one month, due to an alleged system overload and negative media reports, while it has since been proven that the authorities may have actually frozen the MMM account in Nigeria. Whereas Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) warned Lagosians to dial their emergency numbers if they spot anyone trying to commit suicide over the frozen of MMM account. LASEMA said it took a queue from what happened in Russia, occasioned by MMM.

Between MMM and missing Transcorp shares:
Reacting to the recent frozen of MMM account, a Nigerian, Mr. Fejiro Oliver warned Nigerians to consider his points before mocking anyone who may have invested in MMM in a Facebook post, entitled “Before you mock anybody for investing in MMM, think about this.”

According to him, he had invested all his savings from the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) in Savanah Bank; because the Bank packed up and left him with nothing, stressing that he once bought 10,000 shares in Transcorp when the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and "Madam Stock Exchange" initially sold what he alleged as the fraud to Nigerians, but up till today, “no shares were allocated to me and my money was not refunded.

Housing to Pension funds … dissolved with my money:
He also recollected that his former employer deducted money from his wages and paid into government-owned Housing Fund and also into the National Pension Fund; the 2 bodies were dissolved and his money dissolved with it. Lamenting that his father and millions of Nigerians equally paid into the same funds for over 30 years and nothing came out of it.

Some state governments, Oliver said, are owing their workers up to 1 year wages, even as the federal government and some parastatals are not different. Just as his father-in-law gave his life to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as a photojournalist travelling all over the country to cover events; “Many years after his death, his widow is still waiting for NTA to pay his entitlements.”

Where are the community banks?
Oliver also called to mind, how government came up with idea of community banks and encouraged Nigerians to patronise them; remember Allied Bank, Lobi Bank, Abacus Bank, City Express Bank, Assurance Bank of Nigeria, Hallmark Bank Plc, Ivory Merchant Bank, Lead Merchant Bank, Metropolitan Bank, All States Trust Bank, Coop and Commerce Bank, Commerce Bank, Credite Bank, Pinnacle Commercial Bank, Kapital Merchant Bank, Ivory Merchant Bank, Prime Merchant Bank, Republic Bank, Eagle Bank Plc, Liberty Bank, Progress Bank, North South Bank, Pan African Bank; remember pensioners who had their money in Societe Generale, dont forget the traders whose lives were destroyed by Gulf Bank, and many more, too numerous to mention. He wondered if Nigerians should “blame these people for keeping their hard earned money in Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) insured banks? Dont ask me about NDIC please.”

Vote for change, churches and mosques?
On a different scale, Mr. Oliver recalled how many hours Nigerians spent at the polling booth to vote for now President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB), pondering how large of Nigerians who campaigned vigorously to remove President Goodluck Jonathan and how many people they individually encouraged to vote for PMB, questioning “What has come out of it for us all?”

He went on to note that most Nigerians work hard for and contributed when their Churches or Mosques wanted to establish those private universities and now their children are excluded from the qualitative education they offer because their parents or guardians, cannot afford the tuition fees? What do you think about the money you pay to NEPA, PHCN or whatever it is called now every month regardless of whether they supply you electricity or not?

How are these different from MMM:
He agreed that some people are into MMM because of greed but insisted that most of those who invested in MMM did so because they have been duped by some government backed schemes in the past. Maintaining that there is poverty in the land and people are looking for ways to survive, so, they knew the risk they were getting into and were all willing to take the risk. “Afterall, living in Nigeria at all at this moment is a risk and working for the government is also a risk slightly lower than investing in MMM.”

Oliver emphasized that the truth is every Nigerian living in Nigeria is into one form of MMM or the other, hence, he do not see any sense in mocking anybody for taking a risk, as long as it is with their own money, declaring “Afterall, Nigeria itself is a Ponzi scheme. God bless Nigeria.”

That Mavrodi’s letter to PMB:
Whilst the frozen continues, the MMM Founder, Sergey Mavrodi detailed a letter to the Federal Government (FG) led by President Buhari for the recent frozen of all bank associated to the scheme, wondering why life is hard for Nigerians if the government of the day has a solution to the citizens’ plights.

The letter sighted by DigitalSENSE Business News and displayed on the page of all participants of the scheme, Mavrodi told FG in his submission wondered that if they (FG) knows what is good for Nigerians, “… Why is the life so bad in the country?”

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Sergey Mavrodi, noted that “Honourable Authorities, So far MMM has come under a constant attack from you. In this regard, I would like to ask you a few simple questions. Since you are concerned with the interests of millions of your fellow citizens, I hope that you would be so kind to answer them.

“What are you trying to get? Do you want the MMM System to collapse and millions of people to suffer? Who will support them then if now MMM is their only means of livelihood? Will you? You even don’t pay wages to people? Or might you not care about them? Might you be using a trendy topic to make a good name for yourselves? What will you say to a mother who will have no money to buy food for her child? Will you let her child die for the sake of the higher interests of the economy?

“You say that MMM is a scam. What is the scam here, if all members are warned in advance about all the risks, the possible and impossible ones? They know there are no investments at all. The warning is a red text on a yellow background placed on most prominent place of the website.

“You say that MMM is bad. Why? Yes, it produces nothing, but nothing gets out of the country either. The money is just redistributed among the citizens of Nigeria. It gets from those who are richer to poorer ones, in this way restoring social justice. What”s wrong with that?

“You have repeatedly stated that “it should be investigated! .. researched!..” It means you know nothing about this System yet; you even haven’t understood how it works .…
“And finally. If you know what is right for people, why is the life so bad in the country?
“Sincerely yours,Sergey Mavrodi

P.S. As for your statement that “everything will collapse soon”. The system has been working in Nigeria for a year, and according to your estimates, the total number of members now is about 3 million people. In Nigeria the population is approximately 195 million. Can you calculate? Will it be “soon”? :-)”

Submission:
With the content of his letter, Mr. Mavrodi has undoubtably accepted that actually MMM is a scan of which people or so-called investors warned with texts on a ‘red’ colour signifying danger after all.
For most Nigeria, MMM is another WonderBank likewise there are others in the market place like Ultimate Circle to name a few. Even though some Nigerian victims are already consoling themselves that if Ultimate Circle could bounce back, nothing stops MMM from doing same. They claimed that those writing against MMM are non-participants.

And like acclaimed Nigerian-Ukraine-based Transformation Strategist, Pastor Sunday Adelaja, Nigerians must be cautious of over 15m causalities of MMM globally, insisting that the terms Ponzi schemes and pyramids were new in the former Soviet Union until MMM entered. Ponzi schemes and pyramids are a long known fraudulent way from getting money from rather ignorant people. Whereby operators pay returns to the participants, from fresh money coming in from newly recruited members.

A legitimate business on the other hand, he said, must be involved in production of goods or services through which profit is made. A profit therefore is made legitimate by the exchange of goods or services produced. When it comes to Ponzi schemes and pyramids however, they do not produce goods or service so there is no process of production whatsoever, therefore there is no legitimate means of making a profit. Ponzi schemes and pyramids like MMM base their operations on the greed of men to make quick money without paying the price of hard work.

You may well decide what you really want because from investigations, every other thing on the site seems to working fine except withdrawing of funds. The truth is that over 3 million Nigerians are engulfed in this scheme and deserves government attention, unfortunately like Mr. Oliver stated, even the government itself has been involved in duping the citizens.

So decide you today, who to believe.


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