One week later, the shock of the sudden departure of Dr Mike Okolo is wearing out. But not so the pain and bewilderment. And not the pathos.
Dr Mike Okolo, Dean of the School of Media & Communication, Pan Atlantic University, passed to the beyond on 6 June 2020 suddenly and without any visible or known ailment.
It stunned his immediate and extended family, including the university he had served for so long.
Okolo was a corporate communication consultant with vast experience in all aspects of corporate/public affairs. He had a track record in Internal Communication, Issues and Crisis Management, Event Management and Communication Audits.
He also taught Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.
Okolo had a PhD in Sciences from the University of Benin (1982), an MSc in Strategic Communication at the University of Central Lancashire (2014), and a 2020 PhD in Communication from the University of Navarra, Spain.
He was the pioneer Corporate Affairs Manager of the Lagos Business School and also served as Alumni Relations Director. He was a classroom maestro: fair, firm, and considerate.
Visiting is painful because of seeing how this loss affected his partner, friend and wife, Mrs Rosemary Okolo, erstwhile Registrar of the Pan Atlantic University and faculty in the School of Management. They were the ideal couple, even sharing lunch time together.
Visit you must, though, bearing in mind the message of Solomon.
Eccl. 7:2-4: “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to his heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”
Dr Mike Okolo was the Dean of the School of Media & Communication. It was a richly deserved appointment in 2020 after the NUC forced on him a circuitous journey to a second PhD that paid no heed to his contributions to setting up the school. He stepped down the first time following NUC refusal on the grounds of lacking a PhD in communication and then set out to get it.
That journey epitomized Dr Okolo. He was focused, dedicated and committed. When and if he sets out on a course, he stays on it until accomplishment.
He was dapper in the best traditions of the corporate world.
The Fundamental Fs of Life mattered to the late academic. The Fundamental Fs are faith, family and friends. There are two other Fs of fame and fortune, but the Fundamental Fs speak to the essence of life.
The Three Fs that mattered to Dr Okolo play out boldly in his passing. Even in their sorrow, the Okolo family not only affirm their faith but also evangelises. As you sign the condolence register, they offer you an Opus Dei prayer card. Okolo belonged to Opus Dei, a prelature of the Catholic Church that urges Christians to find God in their daily lives and sanctify their work. “Wherever your yearnings, your work, your affections are, that is the place for your daily encounter with Christ. It is there in the midst of the most material things of the earth, that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all people”, in the words of Saint Josemaria Escriva, founder.
I had the privilege of teaching two Okolo children as undergraduates. They reflected good breeding or what I now term WBU children. Well Brought Ups (WBU) are a walking statement of the values of their families. These children were ideal students: they were studious, dedicated and focused. They comported themselves so decorously no one could tell that their parents were part of senior management, unlike many children in such positions. No surprise that they graduated with the highest honours.
Dr Okolo had a stern appearance until he offers his beatific smile. His smile is warm, friendly and reassuring. Oh, I should say was. It is still difficult to speak of him in the past tense.
Okolo led a team of postgraduate students to Birmingham City University as part of course requirements. Years of teaching professionals guided his conduct. He provided guidelines and then allowed everyone to express themselves.
Okolo was scrupulous and meticulous in every endeavour. He cared about nutrition and fitness. On that trip, he enjoyed the long walks on the campus of the University of Oxford. Walking was a regular pastime. It was thus strange to hear of a sudden cough and heart attack as the immediate cause of his death. This life is soChukwuma.
Take heart, dear Okolo family that Dr Mike left behind. You have a solid foundation of nurture and extensive goodwill that business managers now recognise as a tangible asset with strong valuation. Take heart, SMC family, academic and professional colleagues. The memory of Dr Mike Okolo will remain positive and pleasant.
The mortal remains of Dr Mike Okolo will be committed to mother earth on 24 June 2022 after masses in Lagos and Asaba.
[NB: This article was first published on Mr. Nwakanma’s FB page]
Building collapse in Nigeria: The Ikoyi tragedy
Overzealous clients and their over interference on building contracts can lead to building collapse, writes CHUKWUEMEKA OLUKA
The incidences of building collapse in Nigeria have become a great concern to authorities and stakeholders in the building industry. Many lives and properties have been lost in the collapse of buildings – mostly residential buildings. Many lives, including those of property owners, have been sent to their early graves because of a few actions and inactions of some individuals.
Despite the advancement in technology, cases of building collapse do occur in advanced countries and developing countries alike. But its occurrence is more in developing countries. Records show that building collapse in developed countries is less attributed to man-made causes.
They are mostly due to natural disasters like earth tremors, flooding, wildfire, earthquakes and so on. In developing countries like Nigeria, man-made causes are usually the leading factors.
There is the challenge to provide adequate shelter for numerous rural-urban migrants and this makes the cases of building collapse more in developing cities as a result of the influx of people trooping into these cities.
Usually, a combination of factors comes into play when unravelling the cause of building collapse. But from many incidences, structural failure has become a major factor accounting for building collapses in Nigeria.
By structural failure, it means the loss of the load-carrying capacity of a component or member within the building. Structural failure does occur when a design does not capture the actual loading conditions on a building. Such a design becomes defective and can lead to the collapse of the building.
Using inferior construction materials can also cause structural failure which in turn can make a building collapse. Since loads on a building are meant to be calculated bearing in mind materials of specific characteristics, the use of the wrong or substandard materials becomes a huge compromise.
For instance, when a 16mm steel rod is used in place of a 20mm rod, or when bamboo is used as an alternative for steel reinforcement especially for permanent structures, it becomes a matter of time for the cookie to crumble. Even if the design is satisfactory, a building may still fail when the materials used are not the appropriate ones or when unskilled labour is employed for construction works.
Overzealous clients and their over interference on building contracts can lead to building collapse.
These clients change contract documents and the scope of work of building projects at will. They usurp the role of the contractor and the contractor is left with no choice but to follow the client’s instruction hook, line and sinker just to keep his job to the detriment of safety.
Corruption, bribery and greed have also been a recurring decimal whenever the root causes of building collapse in Nigeria are investigated. Some building contractors, government officials and professionals in the building industry have been indicted in this regard. On most tragic occasions, they don’t come out smelling of roses. The contractor wants to minimize cost to the barest minimum, and so he buys substandard materials to divert some monies to his pocket. Sometimes, this is done in connivance with the shady structural Engineers and Architects.
It is even saddening to see this happen when contractors are not owed any contract fee. Also, unscrupulous government officials sent to building sites to inspect materials will collect bribes from developers and end up compromising inspection results. The situation is indeed a grave one.
An Igbo adage is translated to mean, ‘when someone else’s corpse is being carried, it looks like a firewood.’ If you haven’t lost a close relative or friend through a building collapse, then, that adage may not make any meaning to you. Oftentimes, when the mainstream media report these incidences, they show no respect for the dead. They do not tell the true story. Sometimes, casualties are under-reported to save some heads from rolling.
On Monday, 1st November 2021, the month was heralded with the heart-wrenching news of the collapse of a 21-storey building located on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos trapping scores of people while others were injured.
Many were feared dead. The Ikoyi building collapse has been trending for over a week now and it has been plagued with a lot of controversies. One week after the collapse, there have been no fewer than 44 casualties from the debris and 15 survivors though there is still no official figure of how many people were in the building when it caved in.
This is a building that was meant to be an apartment with two other towers not as high as the 21-storey.
The structure was said to be 80 per cent completed. It comprised four-bedroom maisonettes flats, duplex and penthouses, and was 65 per cent sold out according to Highbrow living Magazine.
‘The 20-floor strictly residential facility is the brain works of Fourscore Homes, evolving from a desire to build an original masterpiece. The concept is to have service flats in the three towers for residents to experience a stress-free lifestyle, complete with a hotel flair with a 360-degree view of Lagos state,’ the magazine reads.
The proprietor of the collapsed multi-storey building and the Managing Director of Fourscore Heights Limited, Femi Osibona, whom himself died in the tragedy had exhibited expertise in property development in the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa.
Also, Nation newspapers reported that his real estate development firm is a member of the National Home Builders Regulation Council (NHBRC) in South Africa and Zurich Building Guarantee in Europe. Yet, there have been allegations that he used sub-standard materials and cheap labour to execute the gigantic project.
There’s been a lot of controversies all week regarding the ownership of the tragic property. SaharaReporters’ publication of November 4, 2021 reads, ‘Different sources on Tuesday told SaharaReporters that the landed property was bought by Osinbajo from Chief Michael Ade-Ojo, founder of Elizade Motors (Elizade Nigeria Limited) shortly after he became the Vice President. However, in a swift reaction, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo had vehemently denied any insinuations linking him to the ownership of the collapsed multi-storey building. Premiumtimes reported that he had also threatened legal actions against sources that made the allegation.
In an opinion article on Thisdaylive titled, ‘The unsolvable Jigsaw of the Ikoyi Tragedy,’ Dele Momodu, a journalist and writer says the late Femi Osibona, owner of Fourscore Homes and developer of the 21-storey building that collapsed was a cousin of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. One then begins to wonder if anyone can conveniently connect the dots because nobody seems to own anything in Ikoyi when accountability is needed. Does the N13billion found in an Ikoyi flat ring a bell? Ownership of properties in Ikoyi does appear to be shrouded in secrecy.
Meanwhile, a staff member of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) in the same November 4, 2021 publication told SaharaReporters thus, ‘I know the building is owned by a top government official, the man in question, Osibona was only fronting for the government official. We received an order from above to stop going to the site during monitoring.
I heard the Vice President intervened when the project was sealed off early in the year but I can’t say maybe he is the owner. Don’t forget they are both from Ikenne in Ogun State.’ The report further disclosed that Gbolahan Oki, the General Manager of the agency was suspended.
Also, there have been controversies as regards how the building became 21-storeys. Conflicting stories have been heard between the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat and of course the suspended LASBCA boss, Gbolahan Oki. SaharaReporters again gathered that while Obafemi Hamzat claimed the owner of the collapsed building got approval for 21 floors, Gbolahan Oki maintained that the building got approval for a 15-storey and that the limit was exceeded. Mr Oki further alleged that the materials used were so inferior and terrible. However, the Deputy Governor would later disclose that the ill-fated building was sealed around June because of some abnormalities. ‘They were taking corrective actions when this (collapse) happened’ he said.
In a related development, Vanguard revealed that Femi Osibona, the deceased developer of the Ikoyi building which collapsed, ignored directives by the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority, LAPPA, to insure the structure. He failed to insure the liabilities associated with the construction of the building. Findings show that ‘a developer of any building above two floors shall insure his/her liability in respect of construction risks and submit a Certified True Copy, CTC, of such insurance policy certification with his/her development permit to LASBCA.’ Would this be a lesson for developers to take insurance frameworks seriously?
Well, amidst the tragedy and confusion, one good thing is that an investigative panel has been inaugurated by the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. While some Nigerians have lamented the barring of journalists from the panel, others have alleged that the panel is sworn under an oath of secrecy.
So, they fear that the panel’s findings may never be made public. Some however commended the governor for the executive bill he signed to give legal backing to the panel during their period of sitting.
While it may not be appropriate to pre-empt the outcome of the inquest and the investigations of the panel, Nigerians expect the panel to leave no stone unturned. They expect a post-mortem to be carried on the bodies before they are released to their families.
It is expected also that survivors of the building mishap should be made to stop talking to the media. They can potentially become witnesses and so, their identities and locations should be protected because it is gathered that Witness protection does not exist in Nigeria.
Nigerians want the six-member panel to be pretty professional and factual in their findings. This is the only way the circumstances surrounding the collapsed Ikoyi building can be demystified to bring all culprits to justice. This will prevent a recurrence of such tragedy.
Then, if the Lagos State government is truly sincere, those who own interests in the Ikoyi collapsed building must be known and investigated. No sacred cows. There should be accountability for the dead and families who lost their loved ones must be compensated. May the souls of those who died in the Ikoyi building tragedy rest in peace, amen. May God grant grieving families the strength to bear the loss and may He also grant speedy recovery to the injured.
About The Writer
Chukwuemeka Oluka writes in from Enugu, Nigeria. He is a passionate writer and a research enthusiast. He is also a graduate of Electronic and Computer Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He tweets @mekus_oluka and can be reached via “[email protected]”
Spraying The Naira: Is the CBN Or The Police Toothless Bulldog?
Written By: Chukwuemeka Oluka
Just when I thought I had seen it all with the Naira notes flying and making breath-taking and jaw-dropping stunts at a funeral in Oba, then came popular cross-dresser Bobrisky, who decided to make another shade of ‘doings’ recently in Lagos on the occasion to mark her… I mean, his 30th birthday anniversary.
Once again, the Naira flew at different coordinates from the spraying hands of guests and well-wishers at the venue, finding their ways to the ground while everyone danced on them. One begins to wonder; can the event at Bobrisky’s birthday party ever come close to the outlandish socialite funeral we all witnessed in Oba?
Anyways, the crux of the matter isn’t about social events competition, but it is about how the Naira – Nigeria’s legal tender, is being abused, evidenced by its spraying during social functions. To this end, this article examines the nuances associated with this practice, taking greater consideration on the place of stakeholders like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Police in fighting the illicit practice. Are these stakeholders toothless bulldogs in this fight?
In the meantime, a toothless bulldog will bark, look tough, fierce and intimidating. It will charge at you but will take no further action. It isn’t going to bite because it has no teeth. Such could be the case with the apex bank and the Police since the CBN Act of 2007 was introduced to fight the spraying of the Naira during social functions.
A statement by a former CBN spokesperson, Isaac Okoroafor once read; “If a celebrant is dancing and you spray him/her, you may go to jail from the party venue, because the law enforcement agents will be there, waiting to arrest you. The law enforcement agencies must catch offenders and take them to court. Our (CBN) collaboration with the Police will intensify as we move to implement the mobile court for offenders.”
Interestingly, the recent funeral of the mother of Obinna Iyiegbu, a Nigerian business magnate and philanthropist, popularly called Obi Cubana in Afor Uzo, Oba, in Idemili South of Anambra state was teeming with police officers including the now embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police and leader of the Inspector-General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team, Abba Kyari.
For Kyari, he claimed he attended the burial to honour a brother and good friend. However, while you’d think other police officers too numerous to mention were there to apprehend guests who flouted the CBN’s jail warnings by spraying the naira, the policemen were seen guarding and guiding moneybags while they sprayed and hurled wads of Naira note in the air in a lavish and ostentatious show of wealth.
This glamorous funeral typifies what we see every day on television and social media. Wedding receptions, naming ceremonies, birthday and house warming parties of the high and the mighty are characterized by scenes where naira notes are being sprayed. A visit to these social functions would also reveal the hawking of mint notes. This is so, because, newly printed money looks more appealing to be sprayed.
What you should know
Improper handling of the Naira does not only involve spraying them. Other unwholesome practices against the Naira comprise writing on it, squeezing, stapling, tearing, soiling and/or mutilating the Naira.
These abuses constitute an offence, punishable by law. Section 21(1) of the CBN Act 2007 states, that any person who tampers with any legal tender, coin, or note issued by the CBN is guilty of an offence. The offence also includes selling, buying, and squeezing of the Naira.
These offences are punishable with six-month imprisonment or N50, 000 (fifty thousand naira) fine or both upon conviction. Sub-section 3 of the Act (as amended) reveals that “spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank (CBN) during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse.”
The same Act in Section 5(i) goes further to capture ‘Matching’ to include spreading, scattering, or littering of any surface with any Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent. In section 5(ii) ‘Spraying’ includes adorning, decorating, or spraying anything or any person or any part of any person or the person of another with Naira notes or coins or sprinkling or sticking of Naira notes or coins similarly regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent.
The improper handling of the Naira reduces the longevity of the banknotes. It also involves a lot of money to replace defaced or mutilated ones by the apex bank. When the Naira is being sprayed during occasions, people step on them leading to its mutilation. This practice doesn’t speak well of us as a nation.
It should be recalled that the Naira is an integral element of our national identity. Others include the national anthem and the national flag. A careful examination of the ways these elements are held reflects how Nigerians see the concept of National Identity and pride. Do we, therefore, hold the Naira as a totemic symbol that inspires some level of pride?
I guess the answer is not in the affirmative. Rather, we would treat foreign currencies like the Dollar and Pound Sterling carefully.
We like to keep them in a decent place in our wallets and bags – treating them as though they are newlywed brides. But for the Naira, we treat with disdain and indignity.
How then did we get here?
While many think this practice has to do with the nose-diving confidence in the exchange value of the Naira against other currencies, this article opines that the practice results from a culture of indiscipline, impunity and disrespect for our laws. If we have a situation where laws are obeyed and enforced, people will listen and sit up.
A visit to our traffic junctions, petrol stations, and airports reveal all manner of bedlam; but crossing over the borders of Nigeria into other developed nations, you see the same people who flout laws in Nigeria doing things right like joining queues.
Why? Because in those climes, once you break the law, irrespective of your social status, you will be penalized. The major challenge we thus have in Nigeria is not a dearth of appropriate laws; the bane lies in implementation.
Sadly, most of those guilty of this infraction are politicians, the rich, and those at society’s upper echelon. This is why implementing relevant sections of the CBN Act to curtail the spraying of the Naira remains a herculean task.
The CBN as a financial regulator or the Police has therefore made itself into a toothless bulldog that is never going to bite at offenders and get them prosecuted.
Since 2007 that the law against the spraying of the Naira has been in place, reported cases of arrests have mostly been about those hawking the Naira, not those spraying it. One wonders when enforcement would commence if, after more than a decade, the CBN and the Police are yet to hit the ground running with prosecutions.
Conclusion and way forward
What the country needs now is deliberate enforcement of Section 21(1) of the CBN Act. But enforcement of the law is not for the CBN alone. Law enforcement agents should rise to the occasion and perform their statutory roles to save the Naira from lingering abuse.
Relevant sections of the CBN Act should be strengthened to deal with officials of regulatory bodies, banking and finance sector operators, and law enforcement agencies who organize social functions where the Naira is being sprayed and abused. This will punish them due to the bad example they set.
In the meantime, because of the poor financial literacy level in the country, awareness campaigns on the need to treat the Naira with utmost dignity should be encouraged in different indigenous languages.
The CBN can compel various commercial banks to sponsor radio and television jingles in this regard. Organizing essay competitions to proffer pragmatic ways to curb this practice won’t be a bad awareness idea at all by the apex bank.
Also, if raiding occasions where guests and celebrants spray and dance on the Naira would lead to a possible shut down of the event, men of the police force can begin to collaborate with men of the Press while they cover social events.
Video footage of these events can then be used to trace offenders and get them arrested. Meanwhile, when arrests are made, they must be publicized to serve as a deterrent for others.
Notwithstanding, the CBN shouldn’t shy away from identifying and truncating the network of cartels that have hijacked mint notes meant to be withdrawn over bank counters and from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Commercial bank managers who aid and abet such cartels should be made to resign and blacklisted. In a related development, hawkers of mint naira notes at social events must be rounded up and prosecuted. It is only when these hawkers are apprehended that spraying of the Naira at these social gatherings can be reduced.
In all, unless the CBN and the Police show strong commitment and will to implement relevant sections of the law meant to fight the spraying of the Naira, not minding who the culprits are, they may just remain a toothless bulldog that will continue to bark but will take no further action because, it cannot bite.
About The Writer
Chukwuemeka Oluka writes in from Enugu, Nigeria. He is a passionate writer and a research enthusiast. He is also a graduate of Electronic and Computer Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He tweets @mekus_oluka and can be reached via “[email protected]”
The recipe for a happy married life
Having been married all these years, one of the few lessons learnt is to gauge every situation and know when to save energy for the next fight, writes Dr. Osmund Agbo
Yesterday wifey asked that I join her in a quick trip to the store since we were running low on home supplies. Not exactly sure why I had to be dragged in amidst other competing demands of my time but hey!!
Having been married all these years, one of the few lessons learnt is to gauge every situation and know when to save energy for the next fight. Besides, I was told it was a way of spending time together, a white lie we both came to adopt for the sake of peace.
Anyway, the plan was to leave around 9 and be back latest noon since we needed to drop off our son to his friend’s birthday party. By nine-thirty we were still home and doing God-knows-what and so this discussion ensured.
What seems to be the problem I asked, turning around to look at her.
“Well… it’s not always as easy as you think. You men gotta understand women are beautifully made but do carry on just a little differently”, she said with a smirk on her face.
Apparently so, I shot back in a tone to convey my frustration on the issue.
But why though? I asked
It wasn’t like we were going for a wedding or even having a simple date. By the last count, she had changed over three items of dressing with no sign we were nearing the end . I was getting a little exasperated on why it was so much of a hassle to pick out what to wear for such an inconsequential trip to the grocery store.
Then I continued…
Okay, but why did you change the top with the flowery pattern? It went so well with the brown baggy pants and I think it flattered all your features so beautifully. Sometimes it’s tough to know exactly what women want.
She quickly arched forward ,looking a little excited.
Oh, so you were paying attention? Well thanks! But seriously how in the world could I have known that though? For all it seemed,I could have as well been changing in front of the blind and mute since you never said a word. But am glad you did. Better late than never, right?”, she asked, turning towards me and flashing what I interpreted to be a winning smile.
This was not the first time we had those little fights. I have always demanded that my time be respected though I never believed anyone cared. This last one was a little different. The whole time she took the high road and made me look like a jerk. Something I swore to pay her back in one way or another.
After the encounter, I tried unsuccessfully to shrug off the important message my wife tried to convey subtly. Oh so now am the guy who don’t even pay compliments? I tried to rationalize that married men are too busy to care about certain things. But truth has a way of stubbornly staring you in the face. It defies braggadocio. I was pretty sure that was not the first time I fell short in my husband duty, even though wifey was kind enough not to rub it on my face. That worried me and deep down my ego was a little bruised. The only way to make peace with myself and save face at the same time was to ask for some help. Later that night,I had an earful as I attentively listened and obediently yielded to her wise counsel. It was shameful that even fifteen solid years after one still felt like a rookie.
Women are truly a special breed. Their outlook, perception and expectation of life is a little different from us. She might get all the compliments in the world but non makes more sense than that from her man. Maybe it has to do with the comfort of knowing fully well that yours is always going to be the most genuine.
“How could I have known that you liked it since you never said anything?”
Those few words were enough to pull my senses back for a serious reality check. So I have been so busy or too careless to neglect an important part of marital responsibility. The lack of spousal appreciation. In marriage, it’s a cardinal sin and may be a reason why big problems sometimes grow out of little things. Unfortunately men, most especially African men including yours truly are very guilty of this.
There is something to be said about African men especially Nigerian men. They are excellent providers and can do anything to take care of the family. If you have to compete for a lady’s love with a Nigerian man, you better have strong edge in many other things. No matter how hard you try you might still find yourself lagging behind our legendary propensity to spend. The problem is that we tend to neglect so many other areas that are vital to a good relationship. Sometimes we come to believe that to the extent that we can meet a lady’s material needs, that all is well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Did the Bible not warm us that man shall not live by bread alone?
Anyway, needless to say we went to the store and for once yours truly was even happy to part with lots of Benjamin. Maybe it was over correction for past transgressions but it felt good anyway. We even followed it up with a little date in her favorite Olive Garden. To top it off, I had a big pot of Onugbu soup steaming right in front of me within minutes of getting back home. No questions asked.
I have since learnt my lessons. Life truly is a journey and we keep drifting off and pulling back. We just have to be humble enough to admit our mistakes and open enough to confess it.
A happy wife is a happy life.