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Wednesday 29th March, 2023


COVID -19: Nigerian Companies Have Records Of Innovation To Turn Pandemic Challenge To Gold



By Ademola EKUN

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a serious challenge to the global economy, Nigeria inclusive. However, I seriously think that within this challenge, there are opportunities for Nigeria to scale as a nation.

The opportunities abound. Such growth will only happen if Nigerian companies and innovators are encouraged to make use of the window of opportunity presented by the crises orchestrated by the pandemic.

Nigeria indeed has the population and human capital capabilities. Beyond population, Nigeria needs a critical ingredient to make use of the chance to succeed presented by this pandemic. Nations like the US, China and India give us a gleam of what such an ingredient should be.

These nations are not just known for their huge populations, but for their innovative ideas. Therein lies the answer to Nigeria’s quest to defeating the pandemic and turning it to a thing of blessing in disguise: innovation that is readily supported by the Federal Government.

Instead of looking inward to explore the natural and human resources available to fight the pandemic, the Federal Government seems to be more interested in promoting other countries’ ideas and innovations.

Let us take the issue of face masks, for example. Nigerians were shocked when the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Nigeria was exploring the option to import one million face masks from China. I find such plan as preposterous in this era when the government should be creating workable strategies to rescue the Nigerian economy from being asphyxiated.

It is sad that this is happening at a time when Nigeria is seriously seeking an alternative to crude oil to live on. Worse still, it is happening at a time when millions of Nigerians are set to lose their jobs and other means of livelihood as a result of the harsh economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. By relying on imported face masks from China, Nigeria is inadvertently creating a huge number of jobs in the Chinese economy at the detriment of poor Nigerians.

Simply put, Nigerian policymakers can use face masks as a serious tool to turn around the Nigeria economy for the better. What does it take to produce a face mask? Nothing serious. Believe me when I tell you nothing serious. Nigeria has both the human and natural resources to produce face masks fit enough for local consumption and the export market.

In Ibadan where I live with my children and grandchildren, I can count at least 300 tailors. One sad thing about these tailors is that there is no business for them because COVID-19 has killed the business of tailoring. Nigerians are more concerned about feeding right now than about wearing clothes.

But the government can turn things around for these tailors in particular and the economy in general.  How? The government can organize these tailors into groups, and make them operate in school halls where they will be supplied with constant electricity to enable them to produce these face masks. I am very sure with such a conducive environment, each tailor can make nothing less than N3, 000 on a daily basis from producing face masks.

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This arrangement will not benefit these tailors alone. A lot of other Nigerians are going to gain from this simple innovation. Textile and logistics companies to be engaged in supplying the textiles and transporting the finished products will benefit from this innovation, just as the average Nigerian on the street will gain from this, in the form of affordable, locally produced face masks.

If need be, the government can also derive taxes from these locally made products. This simple innovation, in the long run, may help to grow the nation’s GDP and reduce unemployment rates. If Nigeria replicates such a set up in every state, the benefits will be too great to imagine.

I know some people may be concerned about the efficiency of such face masks at preventing COVID-19. This concern is not out of place. After all, NAFDAC said a few days ago that face masks made from cloths are not capable of preventing the virus. This is my problem with every Nigerian agency: they know how to criticize without proffering solution.

What is wrong with NAFDAC collaborating with other relevant agencies to train a number of tailors on how to produce an internationally certified face mask against COVID-19? I do not think anything is stopping the agency, except lack of creativity.

Every country is searching for a cure for COVID-19. But look at how many Nigerian professors and research agencies are wasting away. If I can recall very well, Nigeria has agencies and institutes capable of producing globally acceptable herbs or drugs for COVID-19. 

Certainly, the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRID), Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Nigerian Council of Physicians of Natural Medicine (NCPNM) and various pharmacognosy departments in our universities exist for a reason, such as the one presented by COVID-19.

One would have expected the Federal Government to borrow a leaf from the European Commission (EC) and collaborate with the Private Sector Coalition Against Coronavirus (CACOVID) to fund these research agencies and institutes to formulate curative or preventive drugs or herbs for COVID-19.

Madagascar, which has looked inward in proffering solutions to her COVID-19 challenge, has shown that it will be easier to get a quicker solution to the pandemic in Africa than elsewhere. Nigeria, like many African countries, is blessed with herbs and human resources capable of solving the COVID-19 pandemic.

How shocked I was to see the Chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, a decent and very professional man reportedly saying that the Nigerian government was making plans to import the Madagascar herbs to fight the pandemic in Nigeria!

It calls for serious concerns because Madagascar has never hidden the name of the plants used in preparing the herbs from the world. Nigeria surely has such plants in abundance. What is preventing the government to organize researchers of herbal medicines into groups to develop a cure from the herb?

It is obvious that lack of creativity and patriotism is the only cog on the wheel of Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19. As a commentator once said, Nigerians are interested in promoting other nation’s innovations because of kickbacks and returns. It is abhorring seeing how we have allowed our quest for self-gratification to overrule that of our national interest.  

If you look beyond the public sector, you will see that Nigeria is also blessed with innovative brains doing well in the private sector. There was a time Nigeria used to import bottled water until someone deemed it feet to produce bottled water locally. Today, I have lost count of how many locally produced bottled water companies we have in Nigeria.  You will be marvelled by the number of jobs bottled water companies have generated in Nigeria.

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At the early stages of Nigeria’s telephony history, Nigerians were fraudulently billed per minute in the telecommunication industry, until Mike Adenuga came in to change the phenomenon in early 2000.  He introduced per-second billing method to save Nigerians from such unnecessary billings orchestrated by foreign-owned firms in Nigeria.

Like Adenuga, Aliko Dangote has gone ahead to show Nigerians how creativity can propel Nigeria to be self-sufficient with basic things of life: salt and sugar, just to name a few.

There are many more of such innovative Nigerians doing great things whom the Federal Government can partner with. If I may use a typical homegrown Nigerian group in this technology age as an example of the power of sustained innovation, it will further elucidate my points.

I have been following the innovative ideas of Mr Leo Stan Ekeh, Nigeria’s biggest digital serial entrepreneur and innovator of our time. I have been following his moves because of the interest of my wife, children and grandchildren in anything that has to do with technology.  

I must mention here that my second and brilliant son worked for Zinox for few years before he moved with his family to the UK. Also, my stepdaughter worked for his e-commerce company, Konga before she left for New York last year to further her studies.

Ekeh led Zinox Group to create and domesticate first African indigenous computer brand.  It seems easy now. But I can recall that when Ekeh started the African indigenous computer project decades ago, many Africans had only seen computers on the television. The Obasanjo administration was smart enough to recognize the Zinox project and encouraged it to scale.

We know the benefit of that smart move by both Ekeh and the Obasanjo administration today. Many Nigerian homes now have access to computers and other auxiliary technologies.

Being the first ICT company from Nigeria to be internationally recognized as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Zinox has been at the forefront of supplying to the Nigerian market affordable technological solutions, including high-end personal computers (PCs), laptops, power solutions, workstations and now it has even diversified into lifestyle products such as television sets, Home & Kitchen appliances and other similar products.

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Within the Zinox Group, I am told, is a number of tech-driven companies such as TD Africa which has redefined the face of tech distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa, TDiLife which is presently doing the same in the FMCG segment and many others. The Zinox Group is a product of serious innovative thinking which has the capacity to represent Nigeria equitably well anywhere in the world, I must tell you.

As a real successful African father, Ekeh has gone ahead to transfer his innovative acumen to his son, Prince Nnamdi Ekeh – the Co-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Konga and his colleagues now driving their new-age vision. I am pleased to see that Prince Ekeh and his colleagues have not taken for granted the opportunity given to them by Mr. Ekeh. They have simply become the leader of the Nigerian e-commerce space today. 

Konga, after its acquisition by Zinox, has in less than three years, emerged as the company to beat in the Nigerian e-commerce business. It is heartwarming to see this indigenous brand is winning the war of owning the Nigerian e-commerce market against multinationals.

Like Mr. Ekeh would always say – “No nation can claim to be truly independent until it has technology independence.’’ This resonates more now that our educational system is shut down because of lack of technology while other smaller countries are using e-learning to educate their children.

Since it was founded, Konga has never relaxed on its oars. Last week, I was thrilled when my grandson, Tobi, told me that Konga was hosting the first virtual live auction in Africa. It looked simple. However, one thing is to have an idea and another is to make it happen. Konga has shown itself to be a company that thinks and actualizes its thinking.

When others in the private sector were making donations whose outcome were difficult to account for, we saw how Zinox and Konga came up with the innovative idea to directly feed over 7,000 vulnerable Nigerian families every day for two weeks during the heat of the lockdown experienced in Lagos, Ogun and FCT. 

This is the theme behind this article.

For Nigeria to overcome the COVID challenge and turn it to a blessing, the Federal Government needs to support innovative companies and individuals ready to give it all to fight the war against the pandemic.

In conclusion, Nigeria is blessed with both human and natural resources. The Federal Government needs to tap into these resources to ensure that Nigeria is not only able to fight the pandemic but also it is able to turn the pandemic into a blessing in disguise for Nigerians with the new normal. It is only then, post-CONVID-19, that Nigeria can remain relevant in the committee of nations again.

* Ekun, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Benue on the occasion of his 72nd Birthday


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NDPB At One: The Evolution Of Data Privacy Under Dr. Vincent Olatunji

“People who end up being first don’t actually set out to be first, they set out to do something they love,” thus, creating a lasting legacy for themselves.

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Dr. Vincent Olatunji, National Commissioner/CEO, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau

By Yusuf YUSUF

The pioneer National Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), is one man who has risen through the ranks, showing expertise both in administrative roles as well as the information technology field, as a formidable force whose trajectory of achievements keeps many on their toes.

All these, he has managed to achieve without giving room for the notion of imitation but rather, by setting an exemplary step in advancing policies to ensure the development of the status quo.

A Certified Public Private Partnership Specialist (IP3 Specialist) and a PECB Certified Data Protection Officer, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, (FIIM, IAPP, and NCS) is a promising figure the technology world needs to watch out for in coming years.

He joined NITDA in 2002 and has worked in various departments thereby rising to the position of director in 2014 and Acting DG in 2016 amongst other roles serving in various departments before his recent appointment as National Commissioner.

In just over a year, Dr. Vincent Olatunji is creating a new legacy as the pioneer National Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau while setting the pace for the institutionalization of data protection laws in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) is an intrinsic segment of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy born on the 4th of February 2022, out of the need to uphold the National Digital Economy Policy for Digital Nigeria (NDEPS) by further strengthening as well as entrenching the protection of personally identifiable information and sensitive personal data.

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Such data includes emails, names, telephone numbers, house addresses, religious beliefs, political lineage, medical records, labour union affiliations, and information being uploaded online in line with standard global practices in a digital economy.

The objective of the bureau as stipulated by the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 (NDPR) include

  1. Safeguard the rights of natural persons to data privacy
  2. Foster safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of personal data
  3. Prevent manipulation of personal data and
  4. Ensure that Nigerian businesses remain competitive in international trade through the safeguards afforded by a just and equitable legal regulatory framework on data protection.

While keying into the global digital revolution is inevitable, it is only pertinent that this rising need is met with accurate preparedness. It is on this note, a major milestone was recorded under the able leadership of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, with the launch of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS).

The NDEPS was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) in 2019. This subsequently led to the re-designation of the  Ministry of Communications to include the digital economy, thereby giving it a new phase.

With this development, the journey of the much-desired and envisioned Digital Nigeria began. This was, however, followed by several restructurings to accommodate the new set mandate of the Ministry. And such restructuring included the NDPR.

Unarguably, Dr. Olatunji has continued laying exemplary standards for any successor to measure up to in time memorial as he has managed to adapt existing resources and manpower to carter for the immediate needs of his bureau to ensure swift and immediate operations against all odds to kick start immediate operations.

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Stepping into the herculean task of laying a solid bedrock for data protection policies and strategies without giving room for doubts or sloppiness while distinguishing himself as a formidable force to reckon with, as a pioneer, may pose a major challenge to many.

This is because the way of the pioneer is always filled with different hurdles stemming from proper administration to implementation of policies. However, Dr. Olatunji draws strength from his love for his profession, leaving no stone untouched in his quest to achieve excellence as he emulates the popular saying that “People who end up being first don’t actually set out to be first, they set out to do something they love.”

The Bureau, within the last year of its establishment, has recorded significant growth under various parametres including but not limited to the following: –

  • Rate of increment of the public sector integration into data privacy and protection framework – 100%,
  • Rate of increment in the enrolment of DPOs from data controllers and processors across Nigeria – 600%,
  • Rate of increment in the licensing of Data Protection Compliance Organizations (DPCOs) – 50%

Similarly, revenue generation through the implementation of the NDPR has increased by over 60%.

The foregoing milestones are taking place at a time when the Digital Economy under Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is breaking records in its contribution to Nigeria’s GDP. The ICT sector for instance contributed 18.44% to the total real GDP in Quarter 2 of 2022 – outperforming virtually all other sectors.

The establishment of the Bureau, under the visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has strengthened the bulwark of fundamental rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens in the data economy ecosystem and has, to all intents and purposes, earned Nigeria a pride of place in the arena of international data governance and human capital development.

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With the recent approval of the Nigeria Data Protection Bill by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for further ratification and endorsement by the National Assembly, we wish Dr. Vincent Olatunji, twice as much of successes recorded by him just in one year as he sets out to achieve greater developments in the strategic implementation of data protection laws in Nigeria.

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How To Survive The Last Week Of January On A Budget



January is renowned for being a month of extremely slow days, mounting bills and a long, grinding wait for payday. This is often the case for folks in paid employment. 

However, the difficulties that traditionally accompany the month of January impact entrepreneurs or those in business as well.

Usually, discretionary or disposable income is often limited and tightly guarded, with many potential customers trying to wade through to the end of the month after the customary lavish spending that trailed the previous year-end festivities.

With the current fuel scarcity plaguing most parts of Nigeria burning deeper holes in the pockets of the average Nigerian, there is a common consensus among many to see the back of January.

Beating the sapa occasioned with the January season often requires a certain level of skill and wits. It is better to stroll into February (the month of love) with a meagre balance or even broke than to enter it on your knees with a crushing bundle of debts on your back.

Here are a few ways you can see out the last week of the month in flying colours on a tight budget, courtesy of Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-commerce company.

1. Make Garri Your Friend

Just kidding, but then you might want to invest a little of your scarce resources on food or foodstuffs that are not so expensive but last for a long time. Food items like Garri, Bread, Beans, and the like, as they allow for varieties, would definitely come in handy if you are the type that cooks their own meals.

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2. Substitute

We know our help comes from God, but at times like this, you might like to forego your normal routine and go with more budget-friendly options. Instead of ordering an Uber or a ride to work as you’ll typically do, you may have to wake up earlier and commute via public transport. You can also substitute your expensive beverage for a 3-in-1 coffee or tea; instead of buying that pricey loaf of bread, you could opt for a biscuit instead.

3. Spend more time with friends and family members

The famous saying “The more, the merrier” has never been more beneficial. When things are tight, the best exit route is to be with people who could help lighten the load. With friends, you could share your resources and make the best out of the situation.

4. Be Content

This last week of January, beating sapa entails being content with yourself. In fact, phrases like YOLO or “If I perish, I perish” would do you more harm than good. Avoid frivolities, get only the necessities, understand that all fingers are not equal, and be content with what you have. Mr. James’ brokenness could be your average level, so no matter where you find yourself, cut your coat according to your cloth.

5. Look out for Cheaper deals

Most importantly, a major element to seeing yourself through January smiling is to be alert to juicy offers or the best deals. There is always an advantage to it, that satisfaction that comes from walking away with a sweet deal on a purchase. This is one of the reasons you must embrace Konga when it comes to shopping for all your items during this period.

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In fact, the ongoing Konga Jara promotion remains your best bet. It is an open secret today that most items are cheaper at Konga and you also enjoy the benefit of guaranteed quality and swift delivery.

In summary, if you’re able to stick to the points mentioned above, you’re well on your way to surviving these last 77 days of January, while leaving many of your peers wondering how you managed to pull through in such a brilliant fashion.


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7 Mistakes Organisations Make That Cause Good Workers To Quit

The decision to leave an organization doesn’t just happen overnight

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Workers in an Organisation....... Photo Credit: Business Insider Africa


Talk to any leader of an organization and they will tell you one of the things that bother them the most is losing good people. There is a saying that has become very common: “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses.” While many people do leave because of their relationship with the people they directly report to, the reasons are more varied in many cases.

Unhappiness is the main reason employees leave organizations. Yet, what exactly causes people to be unhappy? There are a number of factors that come into the equation that can cause people to conclude they could be better off working somewhere else.

The decision to leave an organization doesn’t just happen overnight. Usually, the conditions have been around for a long time, slowly draining the employee’s enthusiasm and desire to bring their best selves to work every day.  As Phil Johnson, founder and CEO of The Master of Business Leadership, says, “The drama, chaos, and conflict experienced in these toxic work environments lead to low levels of employee engagement.”

Here are seven issues that slowly drain a person’s desire to work for an organization:


People spend a great deal of time at work, and if they get the feeling that they’re not being appreciated, it will slowly drain their energy and desire to give their best. The lack of appreciation can show up in various forms. Lack of recognition for their accomplishments is a key example. When we are working hard, doing good work, and nobody seems to notice, it kills our desire to continue to do more.

Another area is a lack of caring or taking an interest in our special interests, talents, and life outside of work. When we spend so much time at work, we expect others to take an interest in us as unique individuals, with special talents, needs, struggles, and home situations. And we want the people we report to support us when we are going through difficult times.

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“When employees feel a genuine connection with their leader, their role, and the organization, they are stronger collaborators and communicators, and are more engaged,” explains Debbie Muno, managing director of Genos North America.


While there are different levels of talent and responsibilities within organizations, we expect the standards for promotions and rules of conduct to be applied equally to employees in the organization. Few things are as upsetting as when organizational rules they’re expected to follow are not adhered to by the higher-ups.

Another sore point that really drains performance is when people perceive that promotions are given based on favoritism rather than meritocracy.  The resentment and anger resulting from these actions, or just the perception of them, create a toxic culture that causes good people to leave.


In order to feel fulfilled in our work, we need to have some say in what our work looks like. Whether we have a choice on what we work on, have a say in company goals, or have a say in work-related decisions, we need to have choices to feel fulfilled in our career.

The best work happens when leaders trust us to know what to do and can count on us to do it well. Managers who act as guides and coaches—and are approachable when employees have problems—will see their staff perform much better than those who micromanage and allow their people little discretion over how their work is done.


Organizations that expect employees to do their jobs without considering what they are passionate about not only miss out on harnessing those passions, but also alienate their people. It takes work, effort, and getting to know people to find out what their passions are. Unfortunately, many workplaces don’t have the desire to find out. As a result, those who believe employees are hired simply to fill a position and should leave their passions at home will find significant turnover among their teams. After some time, these team members will be looking at other companies known for an employee-first culture.

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On the other hand, those organizations that do make the effort to find the connections between their people’s work and their passions will see an increase in productivity, higher rates of job satisfaction, and a happier workplace overall. To that end, author Debbie Peterson recommends utilizing psychometric questionnaires. “[These] can ensure employees are in roles where their skills and personalities can shine, and ensure the longevity of the employee and their employment as well as the performance of the organization,” explains Peterson.


Many organizations have an Employee Appreciation Day once a year when everyone is acknowledged and treated the same. The problem is that not everyone has the same skills, contributes equally, or regularly brings the same effort. Receiving the same recognition as someone who does the least work possible upsets those who go above and beyond, bring extra enthusiasm to their work, and give their best every day.

Not only should people be recognized for their achievements, but they also should be able to communicate how they wish to be recognized. In my book, The Other Kind of Smart, I talk about how important it is to get to know people in order to appreciate them in a way that powerfully connects with them.


One thing millennials have become known for is wanting their work to have meaning and to feel that they are making a difference. Previous generations have wanted this as well but settled for less as they believed the workplace was not the place where this was possible. Now, millennials are a major part of our workplace and are rising to leadership positions. Finally, organizations have started to pay attention.

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Organizations must create a vision and share it with their people in a way that ensures everyone understands how their contribution makes a difference. Everyone wants to feel pride in their work and in the organization they work for. This will become increasingly important as younger generations, crucial to an organization’s success, demand this.


In previous decades, the idea that we should have fun at work would have left leaders aghast. Work was work, and people were expected to have fun outside of the workplace. We have since come to understand that having fun at work is a great way to invigorate people, give them something to look forward to, and even alleviate stress and boredom. “For instance, [some] high-tech firms now encourage employees to take table tennis breaks,” says Peterson, “with the added benefit that it promotes physical and neurological fitness.”

When people are not only allowed, but encouraged, to have fun in their workplace, they are more relaxed, are able to build camaraderie with their colleagues, and are motivated to perform better.

****Culled from

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