Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the newly appointed Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In this interview session anchored by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during the 8th Lagos Economic Summit, otherwise known as Ehingbeti, in Lagos on Tuesday, Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, speaks on her new appointment at WTO, theme of the summit, women and youths empowerment and development of the African continent, among other issues.
Congratulations on your emergence as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). As the first female and African to hold that position, we are truly excited. What has the journey been like?
Thank you so much your Excellency. It is wonderful to be with you. I am also one of your citizens; I have a place in VGC (Victoria Garden City). So, I know very much parts of Lagos State. The word is fantastic but I want to start by humbly thanking His Excellency, Mr. President (President Muhammadu Buhari), thanking all Nigerians for your support and encouragement. And I mean it sincerely, throughout the whole process, which has been very difficult, taking almost nine months of competition, waiting and uncertainty. Nigerians have been absolutely incredible, sending me messages of support, going on the Internet. Some people have been making videos and releasing them. So, I feel incredibly blessed and I am happy that it came out well and therefore we can try to show what Nigerians and Africans can do in such an international position. It is going to be very challenging but I feel ready; as everyone says, in every challenge, there is an opportunity. So, it would be important to see what can be done with all the countries around the world.
We are certain that you are going to do a great job and talking about great jobs, Africa itself has not done a great job yet; we are a work in progress. My first question to you would be, you sitting back and looking forward, what will a successful Africa look like and where do you think Lagos can sit in that context, given the fact that Lagos is today the largest megacity in Africa and it is the economic hub of Nigeria? What does a successful Africa look like in your view and where does Lagos sit in that?
Thank you so much your Excellency; this is a great question. From my point of view, one of the most important things a successful Africa should look at is the demography of Africa. When you have 60 per cent or more of your population that is 30 years old younger, then you ought to worry about job creation. So, for me, a successful Africa is Africa that is able to create jobs for its citizens. And when I say jobs, I mean what I will call decent works. Like I said in my WTO acceptance speech yesterday (Monday), that is the biggest issue the continent has to face. And similarly, Lagos State, the issue of employment of young people who are gainfully employed is important because if they are not, that would lead to so many social dislocations and unrest.
So, first and foremost a successful Africa and a successful Lagos State is the one that will create jobs for its citizens and this means two or three things. I think we have to concentrate our minds on the continent, in our country, Nigeria and Lagos State about how we will create modern decent jobs for our young people and we have a great opportunity to do that. One of the things that are very difficult for the continent, Nigeria and Lagos State now is the fact that we are still mainly a raw materials-based kind of economy. I know Lagos is a manufacturing hub but if you look at the whole of Africa, we are still mainly exporting primary products; whether it is fossil fuel like we have in Nigeria’s oil and gas, Angola and Mozambique and so on, or it is minerals like diamonds, tin, copper and other things from other countries or agricultural products like cocoa, coffee and so on.
So, we have to get from a position where we exporting raw materials to one where we are adding more value and processing. I listened to you (Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu) talking about Lagos becoming an agro-processing centre, notwithstanding the fact that its land area is the smallest in the country. So for Lagos, Nigeria and the continent, we have to ask ourselves the big question, how do we industrialize Africa? The Agenda 2063 of the African Union looks very much at how we can get there. Let me just give you one or two examples where I think opportunities can be seized. Africa imports more than 90 per cent of the pharmaceutical products that we use on the continent. So, that is a big gap and there is an opportunity for us to manufacture those products. We have a market of 1.3 billion people, equivalent to China or India and with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that is now under implementation, actually is aiming at the common market, free borders when it actually works. What does it mean? It means Nigeria’s labours should look at how they can take advantage of such a big market, to make Nigeria not just a consumer centre where other people send goods but a big manufacturing centre that sends goods to other countries. So, that is a dream.
Apart from manufacturing, we have the creative art that you (Governor Sanwo-Olu) mentioned; services. Lagos is one of the most exciting cities, it is one of the most difficult but I love it because you never know what is around the corner. When I am in Lagos, I always discover a surprise in any part of the city; a lot to do with the art. So how can you make the creative arts, the movie industry? Part of it is centred there; create more jobs for our young people. You mentioned medical services; I want you to know that in Ghana, they are also planning to make the whole of Ghana a medical tourism hub. I was speaking to the Minister of Finance and hoping that they can link with Nigeria so they can focus on some specialties and we also focus on some. So, it is not Nigerians just going there to avail themselves of some services but Ghanaians and others also coming to Nigeria for those medical services. There are so many exciting opportunities of what Lagos State can do and what Africa can do and we have to put in mind who we are doing it for, which is our youths.
With the African Free Trades Agreement, we realised that we do less within ourselves. Statistics have shown that it is always from Europe, China and America but we do less internally and like you said it is only when we collaborate and do a lot with Africans internally that we can indeed create those jobs and opportunities for ourselves. Given the theme of the Lagos Economy Summit (Ehingbeti 2021) “For a Greater Lagos: Setting the tone for the next decade” and looking at Lagos for the next 10 years, where do you see us, what are those pitfalls that we need to avoid? What are those things that can make us a lot more competitive, more responsive and we can indeed build a Lagos that you are really proud of for the next decade? What kind of advice and input can you give us in helping Lagos to achieve that dream that we all dream about?
Thank you Your Excellency; you are asking a very good question. I listened to Mo Ibrahim (Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation) talking of the future, so I said jobs for the youths. The future is changing and it is very dynamic and so the future is artificial intelligence; it is digital economy. It is here to stay and we cannot do anything about that. So, either Nigeria, Lagos or Africa get on board or we get left behind. So, one of the things that I heard you talk about is a broadband, internet access to all households. If we can do that; this is what they have in a whole country like Korea, the whole place is wired, so everybody can be on the internet. So, when you talk about the jobs of the future, if we have broadband access that is fantastic; that is my main thing. I think the biggest challenge for Lagos State is infrastructure. If you don’t get the infrastructure right and I mean infrastructure of the future, not just roads and other things that cause bottleneck. Of course to have telecommunications infrastructure broadband, you also need electricity and energy. So, one of the things you have to make sure the state takes on board is how to have a steady and sustainable supply of electricity and in saying that, we should also be looking at how to move renewable and green, because the world is also turning green very rapidly.
I know that my brother, Aliko Dangote, is building the biggest refinery; we should have done that a long time ago, so we are glad we have it, petrochemicals in Lekki. But we also need to add to that, we should start looking green, how do we move to renewable? Those are three things, infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure for a Lagos of the future. The population is growing, if we don’t keep up with infrastructure, what we will end up with is bottlenecks. If you can really make it modern, forward looking infrastructure, that is what we need.
The world like I said is going digital; that is, e-commerce is here to stay; I mean the amount of transactions in e-commerce now that is ongoing. In the United States, it is over $500 billion with a net fix to the US of over 200 billion; that shows you the direction in which it is going. How can we tap into that digital economy? The reason I am excited about this and looking at negotiating the e-commerce agreement at WTO is because I feel that our countries and cities can benefit. We have small and medium enterprises, I would like to see many women doing this on the digital platform, and I will end by saying that we are lucky because our young people have started doing this. When you go out and you actually see what many of them are doing, you will be very proud; from e-payment system to all kinds of system on the digital platforms. All we really need to do is give them the basic infrastructure, encourage them, let us have some venture capital that invests in our own businesses. That is the problem we have. We don’t truly have the venture capital that can help encourage some of these businesses, so that they can grow. These are some of the things I think we have to watch out for.
You know that you are an icon in this country not only to the male but also to the female. You are a beacon of inspiration to everyone. What kind of advice do you have for us to have some seemingly gender balance? Talking about women and our youth, what broad advice do you have in terms of empowering them and opening up the space for our women and youths for the next decade?
I am very proud of Nigerian and African women because of the way they multitask and manage so many things; career, work, business along with their families, children and so on is amazing. But we really need to give women and youths a bigger platform. I have just written a book with a former Prime Minister of Australia. I didn’t know you will ask this question but on my table here, I have the book, it is a latest book, it came out in the United States two weeks ago. It is titled: “Women and leadership: Real life, real lessons.”
What a coincidence…
The book is a brand new book and we have been doing the book tour. The book talks about the lessons we need to learn from women leaders. We interviewed eight women leaders, from Theresa May to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Hillary Clinton; eight very important women and we add to them lessons from our own experiences to say, what is it that women need to do to break into leadership because no matter what we say they are not yet there. I have focused on women for a moment and I will give a few statistics why we felt we have to write this book. The United Nations has 193 members and out of those 193 countries, only 57 have ever had women leaders at one time or another. As we speak, there are about 14 to 15 women leaders. People will say it is progress; they were only four in 2000, now we are 14 but at the pace of growth, it will take us decades in order to get gender parity in terms of women leadership. Everywhere you go, Nobel Prize winners, since the Nobel Prize started being awarded in the early 20th century, we have had 900 Nobel Prize winners and out of those 900, only 53 have been women. Looking at the parliaments all over the world, one in four parliamentarians globally is a woman. If you look at cabinets, 21 per cent of cabinets globally are women. If you look at different fields, engineering, 15 per cent are women. I could go on and on.
For every dollar earned by a man globally, a woman earns 63 cents. We talked about all that in the book and we say here are the lessons; there are things that women can do. But why I am saying all these things is because we are also saying it cannot happen without men. So, Your Excellency, our men have to decide to empower women because they are the ones who are holding the power and the jugs. So, unless they also agree to empower women and give a chance, we are not going to get there. So it is not only women just talking to women about issues of women empowerment or youths empowerment, we got to have dialogue with the men.
So, Your Excellency, I will start with you and ask you, how many leadership jobs are you going to open up for women? I know Lagos State has done very well, you have had female deputy governors, you have many female commissioners, you have excellent captains of industries who are women like my sister, Ibukun Awosika, the WIMBIZ women and many other women. I am very proud of them but I want you to talk to the other governors on how you are going to open up leadership positions for women because we cannot be empowered unless the men agree to empower us. Similarly for our youths, we can’t make road unless we all together create the opportunities for them to lead. So, I am bringing back the questions to you, your Excellency and before I go, I want to hear from you what you are going to do to help open up spaces for women and persuade your fellow governors to do more for women.
Thank You Madam. I will just tell you that this is very critical for us in Lagos and I dare say that we are humbled that in our cabinet, we have 35 per cent women; we have about 65 per cent women among our permanent secretaries; our judges, we have about 60 to 65 per cent that are women. In all of the critical arms in Lagos State, there are more women but we still want to do more. Women head the three critical ministries or agencies in Lagos today. A woman is the head of Works and Infrastructure, a woman is the head of LAMATA and the head of the renewal and rebuild agency. We are doing great but we also want to do more. We know that there are a lot of other opportunities that we can bring forward for our youths and women. I want to assure you that Lagos will continue to take a lead on this and we are truly excited that you have actually written a book and I want to say to you that you got great fans here that are not only women but men as well. I want to use this opportunity to say to you that we wish you all the very best on this new global stage that you are. We are convinced that you will certainly put in your very best, and putting in your very best means that you will come out of it without blemish and you will do a good job that every Nigerian, African, Lagosian will be truly proud of. I want to wish you all the very best. I want to thank you for being part of our discussion today and we want to wish you all the very best.
Thank you your Excellency and a shout out to all Nigerians as my son would say. Thank you so much. And to the women, love you all, keep it up. And governor, congratulations on doing so much.
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How Bureaux De Change Finance Terrorism – CBN
The Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN) has moved to shut down the operations of Aboki FX, a website providing currency exchange information, which the bank described as an illegal and criminal platform.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele who disclosed this while fielding questions after the Monetary Policy Committee’s two-day meeting in Abuja on Friday, noted that the bank also plans to prosecute the owner of the platform, Olusegun Oniwinde.
He said: “I have given instructions to our experts to go after his website and let it be clear that we will go after him because we can’t allow this to continue.”
According to Emefiele, the CBN doesn’t recognize any forex market window besides the Investors and Exporters window.
Naira-dollar exchange rate has soared on the platform in the last couple of days. The platform currently recommends that bureau de change operators buy dollar at N560 and sell at N570.
On ban of forex sales to bureau de change operators, Emefiele said that the bank would not go back on its previous stance.
According to him, these BDC operators sell foreign exchange to criminals who import weapons to harm Nigerians and promote different forms of terrorism.
The CBN governor said: “It truly beats my imagination that Nigerians continued with this type of practice (selling dollars to BDC) that tended to promote illegal activities who are involved in graft and corrupt practices.
“We won’t support the corrupt tendencies of those who illegally buy dollars from our forex market, carry them in aircraft, buy arms and ammunition and bring them back into the country and conduct crimes. Whether it is Boko Haram, banditry and other nefarious activities.”
“Why will CBN give people our forex to go and buy arms? And that is what people want us to continue to do. We cannot do that. What we are saying is that if you have any legitimate need for forex, take it to the bank and they will sell you FOREX.”
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Short-term Vs Long-term Investing – The More Sure Path To Financial Freedom
There are two paths people take when seeking to achieve financial freedom. The first path is the short-term investing path and the second is the long-term investing path. If you were to choose a path based on the timeline alone, the short-term investing path will be the obvious choice. But that will be an unwise decision to make. The wiser decision is to ask yourself if there are more important criteria to consider than timeline – and there are. For example, you need to ask yourself – Why am I investing and what end goal am I trying to achieve? You also need to know which of these two investment paths will deliver your desired end results faster? And finally, you need to know the path that possesses the most guarantee of delivering your desired result. Answering these questions will give you a better perspective on which path to choose and follow.
For example, we know from experience that not all shortcuts eventually become shortcuts. Most shortcuts turn out to be longer cuts at the end of the day. So, you need to be sure that a shortcut will end up being a shortcut for you. It is also important to note that the timeline of a thing is not as important as whether you achieve the goal you set out to achieve in the end. Thus, hinging your investment decision based on timeline alone is a short-sighted approach to investing.
For over 12 decades research shows that 80% of working professionals have been matching into retirement with a lower quality life. All of them are investors that have engaged in one form of short-term investing or another . Some have even spent their entire career life investing. Yet, all of them fail to achieve financial freedom before retirement. If short-term investing were really working short-term, it would have been possible to achieve financial freedom within a 30-year work life. But for many this is not so. Thus if you spend your active career life investing in ways that deliver everything else but the ultimate goal of investing, then you have simply wasted your time and pain awaits you in retirement.
The truth is financial freedom cannot be achieved through short-term investing efforts. Especially when these efforts come with little or no guarantees. But you also do not need 30 years of active investing to achieve financial freedom. You can achieve financial freedom in half the time if you invest in ways that hit financial freedom straight on the head. The more guarantee you can have on an investment path the more likely it is that you will achieve your desired end goal. Investing is thus not a guarantee to financial freedom. You can invest all you want and still not achieve financial freedom. The only way to achieve financial freedom is to enter the financial freedom path.
So, what is the financial freedom path?
The financial freedom path is the path that leads to financial freedom. To succeed on this path, you need four things. The first is time. The second is money. The third is a plan. And the fourth is investment neutrality.
Time is a critical factor in investing as it gives everyone a level playing ground. With time a person with little resources can achieve comparable investment results like the person that has large resources but no time. Without the introduction of time people with little resources cannot afford investing or achieve comparable results like their richer counterparts. Thus, if you still have time but little resources, you should leverage time as time is your greatest asset. The only way to achieve financial freedom with little resources but ample time is to focus on investing for financial freedom and not rush after quick and unstable returns.
Money is also another big advantage if you lack time. With the right size of money, you can achieve financial freedom within a shorter time. But this will only be possible if you have the right plan and follow the right guidance. The right plan is a financial freedom investing plan. And the right guidance is an advisor who themselves have achieved financial freedom. No amount of money is immune to a loss. And despite the amount of money that you have you can lose all of it or tie it down in the wrong investments with the wrong plan and advice. Thus, if you have money, the only other thing that can hold you back is the wrong plan and advice.
Take a look at your own life for a moment and assess where you are and the goals that you have accomplished. All of them were made possible by the plan and advice you have followed before now. While they have brought you this far, they may not be able to take you further. If you have not yet achieved financial freedom, chances are high that they have taken their full course. To move to the next level, you need a new plan and advisor.
BLastly you need to develop investment neutrality and approach investing from a result-based perspective. Many people fall in love with their investments such that they cannot move away from a bad investment decision or detach from a low performing investment. They fall in love so badly that they are blinded by emotions. Here is some advice, if this is you. You can invest your love in your spouse, your children and your neighbor. If you still have some love left, send some my way wrapped as a gift- I will take it if it keeps you from throwing all that love on your investments. Your goal as an investor seeking to achieve financial freedom is not to love the investment. But to choose only investments that can deliver financial freedom. You must detach your emotion from investing if you will ever achieve success. If you can invest 10, 20 or 30 years of your life going to a job that you do not necessarily love just to pay the bills, you can invest objectively in investments that deliver the right results and forget about your feelings or ego.
You have a 30 year career life, a crawling salary, time that is tied to one source of income and a disturbing retirement gate. You cannot invest like everybody else. To achieve financial freedom, you must decide to think like the wealthy class. The wealthy class never pursue quick wins or get rich quick schemes. They are methodical, strategic and are the wealthiest people on the planet. If we are to compare results, their results show that their way is working. If you will ever achieve financial freedom, you must learn their ways. The ultimate goal of investing is to achieve financial freedom. Any investment effort that falls short of this goal will keep you in perpetual financial bondage.
If you need help getting on the financial freedom path, we can help you. Send an email to email@example.com
Grace O. Agada is the most sought-after financial planning expert in Nigeria. She is a renowned author, financial expert and keynote speaker. Agada is popularly known as the Upper-Class Mentor and her goal is to help working professionals escape middle-class poverty and transition to the upper class. Agada is the author of three books and possibly the most widely read financial articles. Her articles are spread across seven national newspapers and four of the most popular Nigerian blogs. Agada is also the Founder of the University of Wealth, the Rich Retirement Bootcamp, and the Wealthy Business MBA Programme. Agada has been featured on BBC Africa. Business Day TV. Inspiration FM. and inside Naijatv. And she consults for numerous top organizations, company directors, CEOs, senior executives, and high-income Professionals.
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Buhari Asks Senate To Approve $4b, €710m External Loans
President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to approve $4 billion and €710 million external loans.
The request was contained in a letter addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary on Tuesday.
According to the president, the proposed loan would be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, EXIM Bank and IFAD.
Buhari noted that the loan, if approved, would enable the Federal Government to fund critical infrastructural projects in different sectors across the country.
The letter reads: “I write on the above subject and submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2020 external rolling borrowing plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the Senate for the same to become effective.
“The distinguished Senate President may recall that we submitted a request on 2018-2020 borrowing plan for the approval of the Senate in May 2021.
“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by FEC as of June 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan.
“The projects listed in the external borrowing plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, EXIM Bank and IFAD in the total sum of $4,054,476,863 and €710 million and grant components of $125 million.”
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