Updates

Ned Nwoko’s Audacious Move to Eradicate Malaria in Africa

By Nosike Ogbuenyi

On Wednesday, December 18th, 2019, Prince [Dr] Ned Nwoko through his foundation formally began an audacious journey towards a malaria-free Nigeria and Africa. In the project, he vowed to work with national and multilateral organizations to achieve results. He equally pledged to collaborate with governments, private organizations and civil society towards achieving his core objective of extending malaria intervention programmes beyond the threshold of control and palliatives. Malaria being basically an African challenge today, Prince Ned Nwoko said he has his eyes fixed on permanent solution to the age-long scourge.

The Ned Nwoko Foundation is committed to rendering support and services to the needy, the society and humanity at large. In the course of its various interventions it discovered that malaria scourge constitutes one of the greatest impediments to the general wellbeing and development of Africans and their societies. According to the Delta State, Nigeria-born philanthropist, most health challenges suffered by Africans including death, organ damage and other physical and mental impairments are directly or indirectly traceable to malaria. Some of the health complications and deaths are as a result of anti-malaria drug reactions.

Also he believes, malaria parasitic disease causes huge economic loss by draining considerable funds that could have been used to support growth and general societal development.

He said malaria does not only cause loss of life but also interferes with athleticism, socio-economical activities and general way of life of the people over sustained period.

The Ned Nwoko Foundation is of the firm conviction that Africa must permanently overcome the recurring yearly tragedy of hundreds of thousands of avoidable health complications and deaths as a result of malaria attacks.

The Ned Nwoko Foundation is a non-governmental organization which is the vehicle for driving this anti-malaria project with the expected support of stakeholders. The core areas of intervention by the foundation are Health, Environment, Education, Tourism, Sports and Culture.

The foundation has been an organ for bridging gaps in delivery of essential services through support for the needy including the sick, the handicapped, the elderly, the poor, widows, students and the vulnerable segments of society generally. The foundation is also involved in talents discovery and development across many areas such as sports, music, drama and some other aspects of entertainment.

It is Ned Nwoko’s inclination to empathize, assist and care that made him and his wife, Regina Daniels Nwoko to embark on the mosquito elimination and malaria eradication programme in Africa.

Malaria is a very deadly infectious disease that has been afflicting mankind for thousands of years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 200 million cases of malaria infection worldwide annually. Nearly 600,000 deaths result from the cases yearly with 90 percent of the deaths occurring in Africa.

There are reasons behind the concentration of malaria infections in Africa. First, the majority of infections in Africa are caused by plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the four human malaria parasites. Secondly, the most effective malaria vector, the mosquito anopheles gambiae, is the most prevalent in Africa. The anopheles is equally the most difficult to control. The other reason for the high level of malaria in Africa is the fact that the scourge has not been combated with the kind of seriousness it deserves considering Africa’s peculiar geography and climate.

Available statistics shows that the six highest burden countries in the WHO African region (in order of estimated number of malaria cases) are Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Cote d’Ivoire. These six African countries account for nearly 50% of malaria cases worldwide according to recent World malaria reports by WHO. The reports show that children are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. For centuries, apart from malaria, mosquitoes have been the cause of several other ailments ravaging Africa such as Yellow fever, Dengue fever, Filariasis and Zika.

Prince Ned Nwoko said that each time he meditates over the debilitating effects of the scourge of malaria in Nigeria and Africa, certain questions come to his mind including the following: Must Africa continue to reel under the burden of malaria scourge in perpetuity? Beyond the current treatment and control measures, can’t more efforts be put on researching for reliable vaccines against the disease? Since mosquito is the vector that transmits malaria infection, what can we do to eliminate or drastically depopulate the vector on the African continent? The search for answers to these posers inspired him to embark on the malaria eradication project. And he is very confident that he can succeed in the challenging task given the people’s collective resolve and commitment. To him since malaria is basically an African problem, no people are better positioned than Africans themselves to take the front seat in seeking a permanent solution to Africa’s most formidable health challenge – malaria.

The Idumuje Ugboko, Aniocha North Prince has set short and long term objectives for the Ned Nwoko Foundation in this project.

The short-term delivery plan shall be National mobilization for the fumigation of Nigeria and other African countries. Prince Ned Nwoko plans to push for legislation at the National Assembly, Abuja for there to be a National Fumigation Day in Nigeria. He will encourage the same measure Africa in other African countries. To achieve sustainable success, community members will be made stakeholders of their environments in the mosquito elimination campaign. Community town hall meetings shall be held to appoint Sanitation Ambassadors and Officers.

The Ned Nwoko Foundation’s long-term plan in delivering this project is investing in development of anti-malaria vaccine. The Foundation plans to establish Academic Research Grants for Malaria Vaccine in universities spread across the African continent. The grants shall be available to be accessed by scientific scholars in Africa. There shall be a proper selection process and body of judges for the most qualified students and researchers to access the grants.

He rightly believes that eliminating mosquitoes and eradicating malaria in Africa require a fundamentally different approach when compared to controlling malaria. Therefore, to eradicate malaria and other diseases spread by mosquitoes, it is necessary to take deliberate steps to drastically depopulate the vector in Nigeria and the entire Africa. We intend to take the mosquito elimination and malaria eradication programme should be taken to the point where the disease won’t constitute a threat to public health.

The Ned Nwoko foundation appreciates the concerted efforts of the civil society and governments in combating Malaria in Africa. The foundation lauds the various interventions already in place such as the Roll Back Malaria programme and provision of treated mosquito nets which have indeed helped a great deal to curb the scourge. However, the foundation is committed to working together with relevant stakeholders to deal a fatal blow on the malaria pandemic to pave way for a healthier and more prosperous Africa.

In the wake of 2020, precisely on January 5, Prince Ned Nwoko and his amiable wife, Regina Daniels Nwoko will kick-start this campaign with a symbolic expedition to mosquito-free Antarctica located at the South Pole. They will be making the 8-day trip to the Antarctica with some scientists. As they flag off the project they will urge the United Nations [UN] to set a date aside to promote the campaign for elimination of mosquitoes and eradication of malaria in the world.

Upon their return to Nigeria, they will collaborate with stakeholders to pursue the following measures and objectives in furtherance of the anti-malaria campaign.

  • To persuade African Leaders to establish National Day of Fumigation across Africa.
  • Establish endowment grants in five universities spread across Africa at $150,000 each for scientific research by selected scholars and students on the invention of effective anti-malaria vaccine.
  • Partner with relevant government organizations and agencies, local and international community to achieve the goals of the foundation and bring this to the attention of the world.
  • Improve on health education and environmental sanitation in our communities in order to deny mosquitoes breeding places.
  • Undertake regular fumigation of mapped water logged areas, bushes and other areas which provide natural breeding or hiding sites for mosquitoes.
  • Carry out public enlightenment campaigns in collaboration with relevant civil society groups, governments, grassroots organizations and individuals on environmental health promotion with particular emphasis on elimination of mosquitoes and eradication of malaria.
  • To encourage communities and individuals to take ownership of the programme and its activities in their spheres.
  • To create an enabling sub-regional approach that will allow all the countries in the continent to achieve their mosquito elimination goals, thus accelerating progress towards a malaria-free Africa.
  • To launch collaborative platform for malaria eradication in Africa

From the realm of mass mobilization, Prince Ned Nwoko’s guiding principle in this project is for everybody to own up to his land, facility or premises and wipe the vectors out from there. Thus the cardinal goal of the project is to accelerate action towards the attainment of malaria free Nigeria and adopt the same model in other African countries.

In order to achieve malaria elimination in Africa, the Ned Nwoko Foundation shall be engaging the key regional and global partners working in the area of malaria prevention, health and development. In this line, we are hoping to partner with governments, the United Nations bodies – UNESCO, WHO and UNICEF, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Ecological Funds [Nigeria], Federal Ministries of Education and Health of African countries, the National Orientation Agency [NOA] Nigeria and similar agencies in other African countries, the Legislature and others.

Ned Nwoko is optimistic that within a time frame of five years, breakthrough would have been achieved in the anti-malaria vaccine and the mosquito elimination quests to the extent that Nigeria would join countries like Morocco and Kuwait in the league of malaria free nations.

  • NOSIKE OGBUENYI is in charge of strategic communication in the Ned Nwoko Foundation’s Malaria eradication team

NED NWOKO FOUNDATION’S GOLF TOURNEY GOES GLOBAL

In his determination to use the instruments of sports to boost tourism in Delta State, vis-a-vis Nigeria, the Chairman/CEO Ned Nwoko Foundation and President, Project Tourism Nigeria, Hon Prince (Dr) Ned Munir Nwoko, has disclosed that the ultimate goal of the Foundation’s golf tournaments is to host World class event at Idumuje Ugboko, Delta State.

Hon Prince Ned Nwoko made the disclosure during the prize presentation ceremony to the winners of the 3rd Ned Nwoko Foundation’s Invitational Golf Classic, which was held on 23rd November, at Royal Golf Course, Mount Ned Nwoko Tourist Resort, Idumuje Ugboko.

Speaking on the occasion, the Star Prince of Anioma land as Hon Prince Ned Nwoko is fondly called by his numerous fans, said, ‘Golf Tournament is one of the ways we want to use to attract tourists to our country and my commitment is to host world class events here. We will role out the program as soon as the new 200 holes golf course we are constructing at the green zone of the proposed STARS University is ready, we will start with hosting the West Africa series and then move to host world class events. We want to see world best golfers play here, such tournament will boost tourism in the state.’ He emphasized.

Meanwhile, following popular demands by participants who wish to come back again, to test their skills once more on the golf course because of it’s unique nature, Hon. Prince (Dr) Ned Nwoko has announced a star prize of N5million for a Hole-In-One, in another Championship scheduled to hold during this year’s yuletide season. The N5m prize for hole-in-one, will also be followed with other championship prizes.

In the meantime, some foreign golfers who participated in the championship have given positive reactions of their experience.

John Parker, a golfer from from Dallas Texas, USA, said,’ I enjoy the game, the natural environment and the comradeship spirit among the players is great, I want to advice the government to promote golf among the youth. Golf is a precision game that demand a lot of focus. It requires lot of concentrations.
I also enjoyed the weather because it is quite similar to Texas weather. The only thing is that this time around, it is frozen cold in Texas.’ Mr John concluded.

For Sergio Souza, another participants from Brazil, Royal Golf Course is unique and good for masters. ‘I played as a handicap, the Course is unique, you most be a master golfer to play well here because of the obstacles in the Course. I have not played in a bamboo Course before and I like to play here again’ Mr Souza said.

Khalil Abraham from Sapele, said he enjoy the game and the serene environment. He described Mount Ned Nwoko Resort as a wonderful blend of ancient and modern, and commended Prince Ned Nwoko for his commitment towards the transformation of his community through education, sports and tourism.

Among the players who participated in the one day championship were Dr Ifeanyi Michael Osusa, aka Agenda, the State PDP publicity secretary, Mr Gab Okpunor, former board member, Delta State Sports commission and host of others.

The prize presentation ceremony was chaired by Chief Uche Okpunor, CEO, of the giant construction company, ULO and President of Golfers Union of Nigeria, while His Royal Majesty, Sunday Olisechukwu, the Obi of Ogodo Kingdom also graced the occasion.

Story by Iroroh Frank

Ned Nwoko’s AFRIMMA Laurel Extends His Rain of Awards

As the saying goes, the golden fish has no hiding place. Since he heroically pulled Nigeria from the precipice of economic depression by securing the life-saving multi-billion dollar Paris Club refunds, torrents of top rated awards and honours have continued to rain with higher intensity on Prince [Dr] Ned Nwoko, the Delta State-born philanthropist, international attorney and entrepreneur.

Even as the amiable spouse of star actress, Regina Daniels is currently traversing the globe with her young wife on holiday and top profile business engagements, series of awards have continued to trail him the same way swam of bees are attracted to sweet honey.

Among the latest awards to the Star Prince is the AFRIMMA award which came his way from across the Pacific in the United States. Indeed, it was a night of beauty, culture, rich colours and celebration of African music and talents as AFRIMMA awards held in Dallas, Texas amidst pomp.

At the glittering event, Prince Nwoko was presented with the prestigious AFRIMMA Community Impact Award while the Governor of Mombasa, Kenya, Mr. Joho Hassan received the Transformational Leadership Award.

The award ceremony which was hosted by Basketmouth and Dj Poizon Ivy, saw Burna Boy carting away the Artiste of the Year diadem.

The AFRIMMA Awards founder, Anderson Obiagwu during his closing remarks emphasized that it’s important to encourage and recognize leaders and philanthropists in Africa who are making a difference in their various communities, districts and nations. He also charged the honorees not to relent in their efforts in creating an enabling environment for the people to succeed.

Among top African stars on parade at the huge music and entertainment ensemble were Fally Ipupa, Ommy Dimpoz, Lisa Yaro, Daphne and more. Nigerian star Burna Boy was the biggest winner of the night bagging four awards namely Artist of The Year, Best Male West Africa, Song of The Year with Zlatan and best collaboration with Zlatan.

Rema took home the AFRIMMA Video of The Year Award while Zlatan won Best Newcomer as well as Best Collaboration and Song of The Year alongside Burna Boy. Other winners include Aya Nakamura – Best Female West Africa and Ommy Dimpoz – Best Male East Africa.

Akothee from Kenya, Nandy from Tanzania, Toofan from Togo alongside the Nigerian duo of Rema, Zlatan as well as Congolese superstar Fally Ipupa provided unforgettable performances on a spectacular night.

Literally, the AFRIMMA 2019 Awards and Music Festival shut down the city of Dallas as an avalanche of African stars stormed the US city.

It is noteworthy that recently, Dr. Ned Nwoko bagged the prestigious International Polo Stallion Star Award in Dubai, United Arab Emirates [UAE]. The award was conferred on the Delta State-born education, sports, culture and tourism patron in recognition of his sterling roles in promoting sports and educational development in Nigeria and globally.

Dr Ned Nwoko’s laudable initiative in founding a reputable tertiary institution in Nigeria, the Stars University, Idumuje-Ugboko, Delta State, that goes into the history books as sub-Saharan Africa’s premier Sports University has won him numerous recognition and accolades in Nigeria and abroad. The pace-setting tertiary institution which is planned with on-campus primary and secondary schools, is billed for completion and take off in September 2020.

The organizers of the AFRIMMA awards just like those of the International Polo Stallion Star Awards in Dubai were fascinated by Prince Ned Nwoko’s towering stature as an amazing philanthropist and a veritable international figure whose influence straddles continents of the world.

Prince Ned Nwoko’s AFRIMMA award equally came on the heels of other honours and recognition for the founder of Stars University who was recently conferred with honorary membership of the Alumni Association of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s premier university. In September this year, he was conferred with the Man of the Year.

Prince Ned Nwoko, 6 others Bag Award In Dubai

Nigerian national and sports advocator Prince Ned Nwoko has been honoured at the just concluded Polo Stallion Star Awards in Dubai. The former lawmaker was awarded the Polo Stallion Star Ambassador Award alongside 6 others.

The Polo Stallion Star Awards is said to be an internationally recognized mark of excellence celebrating polo players, enthusiasts and corporate organisations in the game of Polo

The Polo Stallion Star Awards is also given to the Patrons of Polo who are top executives of corporations and captains of industries who support education. The event began with a gala dinner, cocktail, as well as a display of the rich Middle East culture packaged in its Miss Polo International beauty pageant.

Other awardees include ; Mohammed Kahlaf Al Habtoor, Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Herbert Wigwe, Adetokunbo Laoye (President Lagos Polo Club), Prince Ned Nwoko and Prof Steve Azaiki.

TOWARDS EFFICIENT MANAGEMENT OF NIGERIA’S FOREIGN LOANS

A LECTURE DELIVERED BY HON PRINCE (DR) NED MUNIR NWOKO AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 2019 NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE LECTURE ON FRIDAY 30TH AUGUST, 2019 AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN.

Protocols

INTRODUCTION

I feel honoured to be at this great institution, the University of Ibadan today. This iconic university excites me for many reasons especially as a great lover of education. On this momentous occasion, I bask in the euphoria of history, standing on the podium of Nigeria’s first university. It is indeed fulfilling to walk on the citadel of pioneering scholarship in Africa’s most populous nation. The lofty dream of this pacesetting university in many respects aligns profoundly with that of Stars University, the first sports-oriented university in sub Saharan Africa which I envisioned and am currently building in my Idumuje – Ugboko hometown, Delta State. My special thanks therefore go to the University of Ibadan for showing the light towards my dream.

Coming to the University of Ibadan on this occasion is life-long honour. For me, this is an epochal pilgrimage of knowledge, rejuvenation and glory. Let me state that the intensity of my emotion as I behold this premier university, surpasses the immediate fascination of the legendary British colonial explorer, Mungo Park when he ‘discovered’ the famous River Niger in all her grandeur and majesty for the colonialists. I am enthused not just as your august visitor but guest speaker. I thank the organizers, the University of Ibadan Alumni Association for this worthy invitation and the opportunity to share my perspective of the topic of the day.

While I accept your call wholeheartedly, let me first and foremost confess that I am not an economist, financial expert or a banking guru. I am simply and squarely a lawyer and entrepreneur. Therefore, this discussion will not venture into the deep micro and macro economic matters. I stand as a passionate stakeholder drawn to patriotism and service to my country, given my modest but central role in the London/ Paris club loan refunds. I will hence endeavour to offer some pieces of advice and tips here and there as they relate to the topic of the day.

DEFINITION

Without prejudice to the general title, I would prefer to adjust this lecture topic slightly to ‘managing foreign debt or external debt’ as opposed to ‘managing foreign loans’. Oftentimes, foreign loans or debt are used interchangeably but for this lecture I will stick with usage of foreign debt because the word ‘debt’ is like a judgment on the debtor be it government, corporation or citizen of a country.

In simple terms, foreign debt means the aggregate of credit facilities owed foreign creditors. They comprise loans sourced by an entity in a country from foreign individuals, agencies, banks, international financial institutions like IMF and World Bank or other governments.

It is expected that entities facing scarcity of funds will borrow externally to supplement domestic savings. Foreign loans are also necessary to achieve a balanced debt portfolio and take advantage of low international interest rates available on concessional loans.

In Nigeria before 1978, when the first jumbo loan of $1billion was taken, the country’s external debt portfolio was very sustainable because it borrowed mainly from concessional sources such as the International Development Association [IDA] for developmental purposes.

However, that scenario changed from the early 1980s when there was much funds from the Western Countries to lend to developing nations. This led to massive acquisition of all kinds of International Capital Market [ICM] loans with high interest rates and unfavourable terms by Nigeria and the subsequent restructurings. The fallout was unsustainable debt regimes between 1980 and 2006.

It is fair to note that foreign loans contribute positively to the economic growth of a country but can also stall the growth of any economy depending on some variables. The conditionality plus the way and manner a foreign loan is sourced, negotiated and or managed determines whether it would contribute positively or negatively to the economy of a country.

After series of restructuring in 1986, 1989, 1991, 2000, Nigeria was able to negotiate the Paris Club exit Agreement in 2005. That was followed by the London Club exit Agreement of 2006.

Currently, Nigeria’s External Debt Portfolio consists of loans from the multilaterals such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development [IBRD], IDA, the African Development Bank [ADB], etc, bilateral creditors such as China as well as commercial creditors like the Eurobonds, Diaspora bonds, etc .(See tables 1 & 2 showing Nigeria’s external debt stock as at March 31, 2019 [in USD].

Having dealt with the definition of foreign loans and the historical background of foreign debt management in Nigeria, permit me to touch some preliminary aspects before proceeding to address the bare topic of the day which is management of foreign loans or debt.

FOREIGN LOANS AS NECESSARY PILLS

I wish to make it clear that foreign loans in some provable cases are necessary pills for achieving top notch infrastructure provision or upgrade. Nobody denies the fact that most developing countries such as Nigeria are faced with the hurdle of scarcity of funds to finance major infrastructure projects in their countries thereby making resort to foreign loans inevitable.

Foreign loans can be valuable in augmenting internally generated revenues including earnings from local resources, taxes and other means for Nigeria. In comparison with the advanced nations, developing countries like Nigeria usually have low revenue base thereby making it imperative for them to seek foreign sources of revenue to make up the shortfall.

Provision of critical infrastructures such as modern road and rail networks, tertiary or referral hospitals, housing, international airports, standard security architectures and other related needs often proves daunting tasks that can hardly be surmounted efficiently by using wholly local funding. For example, a $500 million was sourced in 2009 via the Chinese EXIM Bank for the execution of Abuja light rail transport project. Such projects are vital for achievement of critical infrastructure developments that are relevant to the wellbeing of the people. The desire to achieve or fast-track infrastructure development is therefore a leading factor behind the accumulation of foreign debts by developing countries.

STEPS PRECEDENT

In Nigeria, there are steps or measures we need to take to ensure that our debts are effectively managed to avoid falling into bigger economic problems. I have sub-divided these steps as follows:

First we must ensure that the loans are properly negotiated and secured on favourable terms and condition.

Second, all necessary agreements need to be signed, properly documented, catalogued and preserved for future references.

Third, the terms and conditions for the loans must be properly understood. If the terms and conditions are shrouded in secrecy or are nebulous and unnecessarily complex for the beneficiary to comprehend, then the risk of walking into booby trap becomes higher.

Fourth, the process or procedure of securing the foreign loans and their application should not only be transparent but also overseen by officials or consultants with requisite technical and professional know how as they concern such transactions. That is the safer route and method prior to accessing foreign loans.

Fifth, it is advised that foreign debts should be contracted only when they become absolutely necessary. It is not enough to join the fray simply because other countries are taking loans. The maxim that even the superpowers are big debtors and that accelerated growth can only be possible through resort to foreign loans is not a wholesale truth. That may be plausible to some extent when some conditions are complied with.

Sixth, it is safer for a country like Nigeria to fall back on her accumulated external foreign reserves and other savings rather than rush into incurring avoidable foreign debts. If this procedure is followed, it will enable the country to record increase in real economic growth and reduce capital flights through servicing or repayment of foreign loans. This is just to underscore the need for caution, not an advice to reject or to incur foreign debt.

Seventh, utmost care should be taken by the borrower country and her regulatory agencies to ensure that foreign loans are channeled into productive or profit generating ventures to ease their repayment. The essence of foreign loans is to engender the economic growth and development of the debtor country and boost the welfare and standard of living of her citizens. We should provide safety guards in the country to ensure that foreign loans are not channeled into white elephant projects, election financing or recurrent expenditure that make repayment very difficult.

Eighth, the Debt Management Office [DMO] as Nigeria’s frontline regulatory agency should remain pivotal in policing the way and manner foreign loans are sourced, negotiated and incurred. The DMO should further ensure that foreign loans are taken only when genuinely needed and that they are ploughed into essential or relevant capital areas. The office should follow up by strictly monitoring the processes of utilizing the loans. The last aspect of this task may seem somewhat cumbersome and unrealizable for the DMO but it is worth attempting.

Ninth, there is need to have a good strategy for managing the external debts of the country. This is because the external debts of a country expose her to global influence and attention. External loans for private and public sector projects that can generate enough returns to repay the principal and pay interest should be sourced from the ICM while loans for social infrastructure should be sourced from the concessional windows.

That takes me to the number ten suggestion – Nigeria should limit or avoid going for bailouts from multinational organizations, like the World Bank or IMF which insist on harsh conditionality and policy reforms that give scanty consideration to local economic conditions, cultures, and environments in the countries they are requiring policy reforms. The assistance or economic recipes given under such conditions do not always take into consideration the difference between the theoretical appraisal and the practical realities on ground in terms of how such policies and programmes being recommended would affect the citizens especially the common people.

Such generalist approaches which relegate local dynamics and peculiarities were evidently behind the austerity measures and budgetary belt tightening recipes recommended or imposed on Nigeria’s government in the late 1980s and the early 19990s which proved too harsh for the majority of the people especially the poor and ended up inflicting damage on the country’s economy.

Against that backdrop, the managers of our national economy should be very circumspect when dealing with or considering some recipes recommended by foreign debt management agents and international organizations.

But I must quickly add that some multinational agencies such as the World Bank or IMF saddled with managing global financial stability amongst others also perform important roles like helping to ensure debt sustainability of countries by carrying out regular Debt Sustainability Analysis [DSA] using its own template. This is in addition to the Fund’s policy of regularly designing national or corporate debt strategies to enhance cost/risk evaluation of the debt portfolio.

Let’s now move to the number eleven step which presupposes that Nigeria and other African countries should be wary of syndicated loans and bilateral debts which are mostly tied to medium or big construction projects. A curious observation will show that most of the foreign companies that execute such projects apart from being owned by the ‘benefactor countries’ also bring their citizens as engineers and even artisans to execute such projects. That way a large chunk of the funds is repatriated back to such countries while the debtor countries are made to bear the weight of loan repayment. It is like giving with the right hand and taking back with the left. China is particularly guilty of this practice. Chinese loans look juicy on the surface but beneath the veneer are coated bitter pills that may choke in future.

Nigeria should be more careful in accessing this kind of loans to avoid mortgaging her economy or creating a situation where public debts would increase to more than 50% of her GDP as is the case in many other countries in sub-Saharan AfricaHere, we can consider the case of Zambia as an example. As recently as 2012, Zambia could borrow more cheaply than some European countries.

In 2005, Zambia along with 29 other African countries had many of its debts written off under the IMF’s “heavily indebted poor countries” (HIPC) scheme. The measure attracted instant criticism from some economists such as William Easterly who cautioned that debt relief would simply encourage more reckless borrowings by corrupt governments unless it was accompanied by reforms to speed up economic growth, improve governance, internal security and human rights observation.

Today, where is Zambia? The country is turning to China for lifeline but it is like a case of jumping from frying pan to fire. In less than a decade and half after the 2005 windfall, Zambia’s economy has continued to nosedive with potential investors fearing that it would default in loan deals. Zambia’s fall from grace to grass offers enough food for thought for Nigeria and other countries.

CONCLUSION

I cannot end this discussion without stressing the need for proper synergy between departments and officials who source, negotiate and secure foreign loans for governments be it at national or state level. Those in charge of superintending Nigeria’s external loans must develop capacity and define coherent realistic strategies for negotiating the terms of Nigeria’s external debts.

Nigeria and indeed developing nations must exercise caution when negotiating or rescheduling loans with multilateral organizations like the IMF that are under perennial remote control of few capitalist superpowers whose interests and goals are often at variance with those of developing countries like Nigeria.

Improper utilization of foreign loans remains a major factor that makes repayment of the debt a herculean task. Once that happens, it becomes extremely difficult if not impossible to keep pace with repayment schedule and the accruing interest begins to rise and rise with repayment becoming a major problem. The interest may increase to a level where it may equal or even surpass the initial amount borrowed.

I also submit that in avoiding or being cautious over loans with harsh conditionality from powerful Western cartels, Nigeria should equally be wary of the neo-colonialist push of the emerging Eastern superpower, China. China’s so-called concessional loans sometimes end up as damning as the coated bitter pills from the Western powers and their groups.

As pointed out earlier, most China loan deals are tied to projects and in executing the selected projects the recipient countries are often compelled to use materials, consultants and workers recommended or provided by the creditor country. That way a very large chunk of the ‘concessional funds’ released are ploughed back to the creditor country.

My suggestion is that citizens should be more patriotic by defending the interest of their country, her institutions, economy and even fellow countrymen and women. Situations where our own people collude with foreigners and their institutions to defraud Nigeria and Nigerians cannot augur well for the development of the country. Those managing our foreign debts should be on permanent alert to protect the interest the country and prevent corrupt foreigners and their Nigerian collaborators from defrauding the country.

There should be continuity and seamless transitions with regard to management of our foreign debts so even when there is transfer of government from one individual or group to another the policies would continue.

There is the need for governance continuity anchored on transparent and seamless transitions especially with regard to management of our foreign debts and other related financial or contract transactions. The ideal system should be such that even when there is transfer of power from one individual, government or ruling political party to another all relevant policies, programmes, decisions and agreements should be appropriately captured and understood. At all times, the implications, terms, risks and processes should be taken into account on both short and long term bases.

Perhaps, if such process had been followed or adhered to, the kind of circumstance that led to the recent award of over $9billion against Nigeria with regard to the aborted gas deal between the Federal Government and the Process and Industrial Development [P&ID] Limited would not have arisen in the first place. And now that the country has found itself in this position, it has to act fast and correctly on the way forward – whether to assemble a team of experts to negotiate or explore any other option it may consider appropriate.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, remember that I urged you at the beginning of this interaction that I am a lawyer by training and orientation never an economist. You heard me speaking under the theme – TOWARDS EFFICIENT MANAGEMENT OF NIGERIA’S FOREIGN LOANS: The perspective of a passionate stakeholder. As we used to say in our secondary school debates yesteryears, I hope I have been able to convince you with my few points!

Thank you for your attention.

HON. PRINCE (DR) NED MUNIR NWOKO.

FOUNDER , PROPOSED STARS UNIVERSITY,

IDUMUJE-UGBOKO, DELTA STATE.

Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation’s Focus on Sports Development

One of Nigeria’s foremost philanthropist, the doyen of the Parish Club Refund, Hon. Prince (Dr) Ned Nwoko, has described Nigeria, particularly Delta State as a home of sports and pledged to continue to promote sports and assist budding sport talents in the State to showcase their skills and rise to stardom in their chosen Sport. Prince Ned Nwoko stated this while addressing the press after performing the kickoff ceremony of a football scouting trial on Thursday 29th August, held at Stephen Keshi stadium, Asaba.
The 3-day trial organised by 60 Goals Global and sponsored by Ned Nwoko Foundation, is to identify potential football talents and assist them to get contracts in football clubs in Europe. It will run through to Saturday 31st August and involved participants from all the amateur football club sides in Delta State.

In a Press briefing after performing the kickoff ceremony, Prince (Dr) Ned Nwoko said, ‘Nigeria, particularly Delta State is a home of sports and we will continue to promote sports and assist budding sport talents to rise to stardom. What we are doing here is trial to identity budding footballers, sponsor their training and assist them to get contracts in football football clubs in Europe, where they could fully showcase their football skills and rise to stardom.
My Foundation recognised the fact there are a lot of JJ Okochas, the Kanu Nwakwos out there who needed to be assisted to come to limelight. Our motivation is to identify and assist such youth to exposed their talents and be useful to themselves, their parents and the state’.

Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko who is the current President of Project Tourism in Nigeria also stated that sport is one of the cardinal pillars of the organization because, as he put it, ‘the Project Tourism in Nigeria recognises the potential of sports to attract great numbers of tourists to the country, for this reason, we are partnering relevant sports authorities. and organizations in Nigeria to develop the sector to help boost the tourism subsector of the Nigerian economy.’

Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko further added that the proposed Stars University, he is building at Idumuje Ugboko, Delta State, when operational, will own a football club aside offering diverse courses for sportsmen and women, to enable them be functional in society after their active Sport life. He stated that the football club will train young football stars across the country and give them opportunity to fulfill their dreams in football.
Prince (Dr) Ned Nwoko, also disclosed that he is in contact with Fulham Football Club England, to work out modality on how the Club and his Foundation could collaborate to establish a football academy in Delta State, where potential football stars will be properly groomed to excel in the game.’

Earlier while addressing the footballers, Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko, encouraged them to put in their best to get selected.
His words, I want to encourage you to put in your best to be among the lucky ones to be picked for a professional football career in Europe. For those who will be selected, be a good ambassador of Nigeria in wherever country you find yourself, try to be useful to yourself. your parents and your country. And for those who may not make it this time, continue to develop your self, face your study and shun drugs and evil vices’.

Further, he said, ‘as you can see, we have coaches and FIFA licensed football scouts who are here to assist you. We want to help you to develop and rise to stardom in football.’ he concluded.

Also speaking, one of Nigeria’s greatest football exports, Amb. John Fashanu, said, ‘football today, is rise to wealth, it is the quickest way to riches, youth playing in clubs in Europe are making millions weekly, Nigeria, has a lot of young skilful footballers, collaboration is required to exposed these youth to the opportunities abound in football.
We need collaborations between clubs, organisations and wealth Nigerians to harness the football potentials in this country for the glory of all Nigerians.’
He commended Ned Nwoko Foundation for taking the bull by the horn, by sponsoring the nationwide scouting exercise in Delta State and disclosed that the scouts are FIFA licensed agents of major football clubs in Europe, including but not limited to the Spanish football giant, Real Madrid FC.

Also speaking to the press, the Team Manager of 60 Goals Global, the organiser of the scouting trial (60 Goals Soccer Star Project), Coach Alex Nwankwo, stated that the purposes of the nationwide trial is to provide a platform for young talented footballers in Nigeria to be discovered and assisted to get contracts in the lucrative European football leagues.
He added that they have conducted similar exercise in Lagos State, that Delta State is the second among the six states they plan to run the program.
He thanked Prince (Dr) Ned Nwoko for sponsoring the program in Delta State and added that the exercise will be conducted regularly.

Story written by Iroroh Frank

NED NWOKO: PATRIOT, WARRIOR, LEGEND

Yesterday Tuesday 16th July, a sad day in the history of delta north, the date the Supreme Court gave it’s verdict on the long drawn delta north senatorial battle between my political father and benefactor Prince Ned Nwoko and Peter Nwaoboshi, finally it was settled in favor of Peter but only just!

The decision of the court drawn majorly from the simple technical fact of filling out of time, yes the victory of the star prince at the end of the primary election was never disputed , the court has given it’s verdict but the reactions that followed has made it clear that this wasn’t the will of the Supreme Almighty, and neither was it what the people of delta north had hoped for!

Like the patriot he is, Ned Nwoko wasn’t swayed by emotions, calmly he accepted the court judgement and asked his followers to move on, to him the development of his people means more, he may have lost the battle to represent them at the Senate, but he certainly hasn’t lost his will to bring development to the region.

Unlike other politicians, Ned Nwoko is a brand, a brand so big it encompasses and affects so many facets of the every day life of our people, truthfully Ned doesn’t need the Senate to grow his brand, the Senate needed Ned more, Ned only needed the Senate as an opportunity to serve his people , honestly speaking Ned didn’t lose the case, Delta North did!

The battle may have dragged on for months, still the Star Prince remains unshaken , with the forces he had to contend with from the very beginning of the senatorial race, it’s crystal clear that indeed Ned is a Warrior, for only a man filled with supernatural strength and abilities could have fought the way he fought, his opponent though victorious at the court, he is battle weary already, with the scars he took likely to stick for a lifetime!

With all Prince Ned Nwoko has done for delta northerners, with how well he proved eager to be of service to his people , there is no doubt his place in the history of delta north as a legend is sealed forever , from one generation to the next, tales of the legend of Prince Ned Munir Nwoko, the man who stood to be counted when others ran will be passed from fathers to sons and from mothers to daughters!

The senatorial race may have ended but delta northerners and Nigerians in general holds the Prince in the highest regards , to many he remains their Senator, and in him they believe the pathway to the future will be ushered!

Idi Presley Ifeanyichukwu, a writer, political strategist, analyst and motivational speaker writes from Ushie, Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State.