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My stand on Lagos State Film Fund Committee – Prince Jide Kosoko

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Veteran Nollywood actor and producer, Prince Jide Kosoko has reacted to the controversies surrounding the composition of the Lagos State Government’s committee for the funding of films in the state. The actor, whose name has been variously mentioned in the controversies, however, declared that he has no problem with the idea behind the committee but urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to make additions that can best represent Indigenous small-scale movie producers.

Describing the current composition of the committee as elitist in a statement he issued on Wednesday, Kosoko insisted that for the state government to achieve it’s set objectives, two other members must be added to represent those he described as the mainstay of the movie industry in the country.

The statement reads: “I have been inundated by several calls and have read several arguments for and against the composition of a committee set up by the Lagos State Government for funding of the movie industry in the state.

“For this, I cannot pretend to be unaware of the controversies that has trailed it, especially its composition.

“Let me however start by commending our able Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu for coming up with such an idea, an idea that was surely born in time and most assuredly needed. I dare say that whatever misgivings anyone may have, one thing is sure, you cannot fault the motive behind it.

“We have had several administrations in Lagos and other states of the federation, but not many have given as much thought to our industry to be able to come up with such an idea and putting it to work. So, I commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for that.

“Secondly, I must say here that I am aware of the observations of The Eko Foundation and other organizations on this issue and I appreciate their intervention not because my name is mentioned, but because their statement is not far from my view on the issue.

“Let me, however quickly say here that I don’t know who the members of these associations are. Though I was once the Cultural Secretary of Eko Foundation when the late Justice Muri Okunola was our President. But that was so many years ago.

“I have followed the arguments on social media, groups that I belong to and online publications and I must say I appreciate everyone that has made contributions, though I may not completely agree with some of the approaches employed.

“Here are my thoughts on the issue at stake:

“There is no doubting the fact that most of the people appointed into the committee are elitist filmmakers that have made us proud in one way or the other with their achievements.

“I constantly salute their courage, for whatever they have achieved have been with a dint of hard work and risk-taking over the years. We, however, must not lose sight of their obvious distance from the thousands of grassroots filmmakers, who have been and will continue to be the mainstay of film production in Nigeria.

“The real indigenous film practitioners that run into thousands, are the ones sustaining what we call Nollywood and they are from all tribes. The question, however, is, can the committee, as presently constituted represent these indigenous everyday filmmakers?

“If truth must be told, the members of the current committee have no connection with existing associations in the industry, not to talk of their members. It is therefore my fear that as things stand at the moment, the situation maybe that of winner takes it all!

“It is, therefore, my honest opinion that small-scale producers need representation on the committee. They have to be represented by people who understand the game as it is played at their level and who have a good grasp of their struggles, especially for funding.

“Secondly, I have heard some colleagues talking about bringing tribalism into the composition of the funding committee, and I must say that I am quite disappointed by such comments.

“It is surprising that anyone can call indigenes asking for at least one or two of their own to be in a committee of 9, tribalism. I still find it difficult to see any state in Nigeria that can tolerate this or has ever tolerated that before.

“That you are a Lagosian by virtue of your birth or length of stay, does not take away the right of the indigenes! Do you know the kind of struggles it took our forefathers that brought Lagos to be? Or do we have any other place called home that we go for holidays like Easter, Christmas and the likes? The truth is that no matter how accommodating Lagos is or has been, there are people who are indigenes, whose rights for inclusion must be respected without tagging it tribalism. Lagos and Lagosians, if fair must be fair, cannot be tagged with the toga of tribalism in good conscience.

“We all know what has happened in the past over the issue of tribalism in the industry, which I will not want to go into as a pioneer and frontline practitioner in the industry, who has always been working for its progress and development. However, it is necessary I mention here that as Lagos indigenes in the movie industry, we have never been known to exhibit any form of tribalistic tendencies.

“Lastly, I will implore Governor Sanwo-Olu to have a second look at the composition of the committee and inject at least two more members to represent small-scale film producers, one Lagos indigene filmmaker and another indigenous filmmaker from any tribe. It is only by doing so that the objectives of your administration for the industry can be best served.

“Once again, let me appreciate Governor Sanwo-Olu and his team for this kind gesture while also looking forward to having the expressed concerns of many that have made one comment or the other on this issue worked on speedily for the good of our industry.”

Opinion

Rethinking safe-haven assets and building resilient portfolios with Xend Finance

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As with most things in life, feeling overwhelmed as a newbie is simple, and this is especially true in such a volatile market as the world of cryptocurrencies. Regardless of the uncertainty and worries, the world of cryptocurrency has the potential to have a unique and substantial impact on anyone’s financial stability.

Government Bonds, treasury bills, and other forms of fixed income investments are undeniably considered as safe haven investments due to their low risk, but with inflation on the increase, the question arises how safe is money locked up for a specific period of time?

It is therefore important to build a resilient portfolio able to minimize risks and mitigate volatility, diversity into multiple unrelated investments, deliver steady returns and also able to recognize changing market conditions, new opportunities and respond accordingly.
Enter the world of Stablecoins. A less volatile cryptocurrency asset pegged to a cryptocurrency, fiat money, or to exchange-traded commodities (such as precious metals or industrial metals).

Compare to other forms of cryptocurrency assets like bitcoin, or altcoins the advantages of stablecoins are stabilized by assets that fluctuate outside of the cryptocurrency space that is prices are pinned to real-world assets.
Most stablecoins are pegged to the US Dollar as they are an easy way to get exposure to the crypto space without having to worry about volatility.

You can build a resilient portfolio with stable coins by having a good foundation on which you can build and protect your investment portfolio. This is necessary to provide a buffer when the markets are volatile or things go south.

These stablecoins also provide diversification as Investor Phillips Hodges mentioned in an interview emphasized the importance of balancing factors affecting the returns you can get across the different than the classes themselves. Stable coins also provide the extra diversification a portfolio needs to stay afloat in a stormy market, minimize losses due to their low volatility.

Be rest assured as an investor that your portfolio can only said to be strong when you have investments that can stand the test of time. Inflations and rickety market conditions.
If you’re a fund manager looking to get exposure to the crypto space through stable coins, send an email to [email protected] and someone would be in touch with you.

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Opinion

2021 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week: FirstBank Call for All to  Adopt Kindness as a Way of Life 

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Dr. Adesola Adeduntan - FirstBank CEO

 

 

The best definition of kindness is not one provided by any of the world’s best dictionaries but one demonstrated by how we treat others on a daily basis. Kindness is a universal language that does not require any special knowledge, exposure, skills, training or background to understand and appreciate it as a beneficiary or observer of a kind act. Neither is any special knowledge or training required to show and extend it to others. Just as anyone and everyone can be shown acts of kindness, all persons without exception can and ought to show and extend acts of kindness to others. Kindness flows from deep within us, from the better angels of our nature. Hence, the common idiom “the milk of human kindness”.

 

This is probably the backdrop to the theme “Kindness…a Way of Life”, which FirstBank has chosen for the commemoration of its 2021 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week (CR&S Week). This year’s CR&S Week, scheduled to hold from 26th – 30th July 2021, will feature Kind Comments Days, visits to orphanages/less privileged homes, webinars focused on the kindness theme, SPARK school engagement among other activities – lined up for each of the days. The yearly CR&S Week is a dedicated week designed to offer FirstBank staff, customers and the public opportunities to demonstrate the milk of human kindness that flows in them and give their time and resources to defined causes. It seeks to amplify FirstBank’s innate culture of giving and volunteering as embodied in its Employee Giving and Volunteering programme. 

 

The Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week was introduced in 2017 as part of the bank’s longstanding Employee Giving and Volunteering programme created to enable and encourage staff to give back to society through donations and volunteering. Specially designed to reignite acts of random kindness in the society with events that are tailored to reorient people towards the right values, it provides a veritable platform for encouraging the citizenry to intentionally create a positive impact in their immediate environment. One of the main highlights of the first CR&S Week was the SPARK Initiative. S.P.A.R.K stands for Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness. But originally the “S” stood for “Staff”. It was changed to “Start” to broaden the initiative beyond just staff and encourage everyone else to be part of the kindness brigade. Also, “P” originally stood for “Promoting” but was changed to “Performing” to convey the sense that participants are equally involved in actually doing kind acts and not only promoting kindness. 

 

Held between 25 – 29 September 2017 with “Promoting Kindness: Putting You First” as the theme, the maiden CR&S Week was the first of its kind in Nigeria’s financial services industry. It highlighted the role FirstBank’s corporate citizenship interventions was playing in driving positive impact across various communities – all within one compact week. It was aimed at encouraging people everywhere to step out of their comfort zones, shift attention from themselves and their personal needs to others in society who have not been as fortunate as they have and perform a random act of kindness towards them. The first edition of the CR&S Week provided an opportunity for FirstBank staff to give their time and resources to promote acts of random kindness within their communities and contribute to the welfare and well-being of others through giving and visits to orphanages/homes of the less fortunate and internally displaced people (IDPs). Within the same week, the bank held career counseling sessions with secondary school students across the six geo-political regions in Nigeria with FirstBank staff coordinating the impactful sessions that inculcated the values of financial literacy and inclusion in young students. Also, staff had the opportunity to nominate beneficiaries they believe are deserving of random acts of kindness. Through this activity, Baby Ijeoma was nominated as one of the beneficiaries that received corrective heart surgery in India which was in partnership with Vama Wave Foundation. The impact of the first edition went beyond Nigeria as FirstBank’s subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK also participated, benefitting people and at least 22 charities in six countries. 

 

The second edition of the CR&S Week held from 19 – 23 June 2018. Themed “Touching Lives: You First”, the 2018 Week was intended to demonstrate FirstBank brand promise to always put stakeholders first. It focused mainly on five key initiatives/activities. First was the launch of a partnership with VisionSpring to advance social impact by providing vision screening and affordable eyeglasses for 10,000 low-income earners. This aligned with the bank’s financial inclusion and financial literacy approach of promoting accessible and affordable financial products and services to disadvantaged groups with the goal of bringing these marginalized populations into the mainstream economy, improving their chances for resilient livelihoods and financial stability. Second were giving and visits to orphanages/less privileged homes. This was the biggest platform for employee engagement during the week. It followed a needs assessment of the orphanages to be visited to enable employees donate appropriate items, and employees responded generously, donating at a scale that had never been done before.  In all, eight countries witnessed this initiative while more than 26 charities participated. 

 

Celebration of the UN International Widows’ Day on 23rd June 2018, which coincided with the last day of the CR&S Week, was the third activity. Driven by the International Women’s Society (IWS) in Lagos with whom the bank partnered to organise an empowerment outreach for 500 widows in Lagos, it provided start-up capital and capacity building required to successfully run start-ups and small businesses, to the widows. Fourth was a Career Counselling Day for over 10,000 senior secondary school students, as part of the broader FutureFirst programme of the bank aimed at ensuring the youth are empowered to be financially independent through fulfilling careers and the right financial knowledge. Fifth and final was the SPARK (Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness) initiative, which included a SPARK Day set aside in the bank for people to act within their individual spheres of influence to promote kindness. The initiative also saw the bank receiving about 200 internal and external nominations of people deserving of kindness, out of which 24 beneficiaries were to emerge. The 2018 Week was marked across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones with two states from each zone, totaling 12 states in all. It was also commemorated in the six countries/markets outside Nigeria where FirstBank already had subsidiaries – UK, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea, Sierra Leone and Senegal.

 

In 2019, the CR&S Week held from 1 – 6 July 2019 with the theme “Ripples of Kindness: Putting You First”. The theme was informed by the bank’s belief that every act of kindness (regardless of how little or in whatever form) ignites a ripple effect that goes on without end. The year’s CR&S Week focused mainly on the SPARK initiative, which had gained so much traction since its humble beginnings in 2017. A Kindness Manifesto for both internal stakeholders and external stakeholders was introduced. There were other new activities or initiatives. A Nice Comments Day was introduced for the first time and scheduled to hold on the first day of the CR&S Week. The basis for it, according to the bank’s committee that oversaw the planning and implementation of the 2019 CRS Week, is the important place of words in the “kindness ecosystem”. The committee underlined this point when it noted as follows: “One of the truest reflections of how kind we are is our choice of words. That’s why we have created Nice Comments Day to help build a kinder world [through kind words].”

Another new initiative introduced in 2019 was the SPARK School Engagement, which involved launching the SPARK initiative in schools to promote the 3Cs projected as the pillars of kindness – Compassion, Civility and Charity. The schools – secondary schools across Nigeria – were to be visited to educate students on acts of kindness, encouraging them to make kindness a lifestyle. A crowd-funding initiative was also added in 2019 to enable both employees and external stakeholders to donate to defined humanitarian causes, such as supporting widows, sending children (from indigent homes) to school and providing health care for the physically challenged and the old. As at August 2019, nearly N7 million had been raised through the crowd-funding initiative. 

 

The regular initiatives/activities were also retained in 2019. There were visits to orphanages/less privileged homes. Widows’ empowerment was organized in collaboration with the International Women’s Society (IWS), Nigeria to empower a select number of widows across Nigeria. The implementation in Nigeria covered the six geopolitical zones with activities held in four states per zone, amounting to 24 states in all. Six subsidiaries of FirstBank also implemented the program in their markets/countries – UK, Ghana, DRC, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Senegal. In all, 25 schools benefitted with 6,000 students participating in terms of the School Engagement; 50 charities and NGOs, including Leap Africa and IWS, were partnered. Over 20,000 orphans/less privileged people including widows were reached and impacted.

 

No CR&S Week could take place in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions on public gatherings and visits. But FirstBank did not just fold its hand and sit idly. The bank did something absolutely amazing, demonstrating uncommon solidarity with a vulnerable segment of society – children. Realizing that the harsh effects of the COVID-19 crisis were borne disproportionally by children, whose education and thus future was being endangered due to the lockdown and prolonged closure of schools, FirstBank embarked on a mission to do something about it. Working with partners, such as IBM, UNESCO, Robert & John, Curious Learning and the Lagos State Government, it launched the bold and ambitious e-Learning Initiative designed to move one million children onto safe online learning platforms. The Initiative was to minimize the disruption to children’s education, ensuring that they remained fully engaged during the difficult period and are not left behind by their peers across the (developed) world. There are already over 150,000 students benefitting from the e-Learning initiative in the height of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the Bank deployed communication material to create more awareness of the SPARK Initiative and to sensitize staff, customers and the public during unprecedented times.

 

What greater demonstration of kindness could there have been in 2020 given the circumstances the whole world found itself, especially vulnerable children? So there may not have been a CR&S Week in 2020 but the same kindness narrative that has characterized all activities of the various CR&S Week since 2017 clearly shone through FirstBank’s COVID-19 response, especially its e-Learning Initiative. In the future, people would probably easily be forgiven if they assumed the e-Learning Initiative represented FirstBank’s CR&S Week in 2020. FirstBank has demonstrated uncommon consistency over the years to its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week and the ideals it seeks to project through the platform. This has earned the bank the right to make the bold call that is the theme of this year’s CR&S Week. 

 

The question is whether we will heed the clarion call to adopt kindness as a way of life. Will we go out there and extend kindness to others in ways that will make them realize that kindness is not just a word taken from the dictionary but an act that should always be expressed to others? Will we embrace kindness as our new way of life? Will we commit to making our every day a Kind Comments Day, thus giving others permission and the strength to do the same? Will we Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness towards all and make them feel obligated to start acting kindly towards other people as their new lifestyle?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culled from Nigerian Tribune

 

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Business

*894#: HOW CUSTOMERS’ INCREASED TRUST IN FIRSTBANK’S  USSD BANKING 

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Dr. Adesola Adeduntan - FirstBank CEO

 

 

The path to financial inclusion holds different marketplace barriers and opportunities in different countries, but the push continues because of proof that an increase in economic activities among the financially vulnerable can reawaken a comatose economy. For Nigeria, the last three years have seen significant growth of the financial inclusion rate from 56.8% in 2016 to 63.2% in 2018. FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking service is playing a key role in it. 

 

FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking initiative is already averaging about 99 million transactions monthly, with a naira worth of (N’m) 370,543 on these transactions. This figure includes the undergraduate doing a mobile airtime recharge; the trader receiving a mobile payment from a customer; the IT person hurriedly buying a data bundle to keep business afloat; the anxious father paying his daughter’s hospital bills for treatment to commence, and the busy worker in Lagos transferring money to his parents in the village since he cannot get to a banking hall.

 

This is just a rough sampling of the financial transactions that amounted to over N3.6 trillion in transaction value on the *894# USSD banking service in 2020. There is practically no financial emergency that the USSD service does not come in. 

 

The problems that the *894# USSD service from First Bank of Nigeria Limited is solving is the only justification for the rapid traction it has gained since it was introduced in 2015. It is easy to see Nigerians trust and confidence in the USSD system, with the Bank rapidly growing from 9.5 million customers on the USSD feature to 12.26 million customers within the last year. Over 1.02 million of the figure, are customers who registered in the first 6 months of 2021. 

 

The first and perhaps the most attractive feature of USSD banking has got to be that it can be done from any kind of phone and without any form of internet connectivity. Although smartphones are getting more common, there is still a high poverty rate and many financially vulnerable people who cannot access internet banking. The internet penetration in Nigeria is still below the ideal, so users have to deal with poor internet connections in some areas. 

 

That is why this kind of banking service that can be accessed without internet connectivity is ideal for the financial inclusion drive. The *894# USSD feature can be used across the four major GSM network operators in the country, meaning there is no added demand on the users. 

 

Getting started on the service is as easy as dialling *894*0#, and creating a pin. With that done, you can do airtime and data purchase for yourself and other parties, transfer funds to other accounts, make a BVN enquiry, check your account balance and get a mini statement. 

 

For non-customers, this feature allows you to open a bank account in a couple of minutes without having to visit the banking hall. You can open a bank account, receive your account number immediately and start transactions on it right away. The claims of “instant banking, anytime, anywhere” can’t get more real than this. 

 

There is even an added security step, requesting a second-factor authentication (2FA) for transfers above N20,000 as a way to secure customers from being ripped off their funds. There is a cumulative maximum daily transfer limit of N100,000 to both FirstBank and other banks accounts. 

 

How does FirstBank USSD improve the lives of Nigerians?

For one, the data being generated through this service is sufficient to help the bank understand its current and prospective customers and develop products that suit them. 

 

Traders and small businesses can also get a Merchant ID which customers can use to make payments for products and services. This of course is better than having to send one’s account details to countless customers, even without knowing whether or not they are ready to make their purchase. 

 

To ensure customers can meet emergency needs before month-end, the Bank’s FirstAdvance service is at their fingertips. FirstAdvance is a digital lending solution designed to offer convenient and easy access to cash for payroll customers awaiting payment of their salaries.

 

Offered through the Bank’s USSD Banking service and leading banking app product, FirstMobile, customers are exposed to a range of loan offerings which put them at an edge in meeting immediate financial needs. To initiate the service through the USSD banking service, the customer is to dial – USSD CODE-*894*11# or *894#. The service is open to customers with a salary account domiciled with the Bank and have received salaries for the last 6 months at the least. 

 

There are much more about FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking that puts customers at a distinct advantage in carrying out their daily personal, financial and business activities; meeting unforeseen emergencies, and carrying out a wide range of transactions – with so much fun and convenience – irrespective of where they are in the country.

 

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