Nigerians Lagging Behind In Financial Intelligence –Otuya | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigerians Lagging Behind In Financial Intelligence –Otuya

Posted: Aug 27, 2016 at 4:52 pm   /   by   /   comments (1)


Bishop Priscilla Otuya, the Chief Executive Officer of Koga Faith Foundation and Initiator of WORK FORCE Africa, in this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, speaks on how the initiative will help to empower and support the unemployed Nigerian youths and the women


What is the WORK FORCE Africa? What is it all about?

The WORK FORCE is an acronym for Works and Faith of Righteous Creating Employment. We combined it to create WORK FORCE. The vision is based on the scriptural provision in Isaiah 60: 1-3. Believers are suppose to be solution providers. People should run to us for solutions to problems in the society. But, this has not been so. Believers are supposed to be solution providers. That is what Work FORCE is all about being in the forefront of providing solutions.

In the United States of America and other advanced countries, the governments have the Office for Faith-Based Community Initiatives. They have rapport with faith-based communities to provide social amenities for the people. Such an office is a network platform to provide solutions to the people.

Is the WORK FORCE Africa a religious organisation?

Not exactly. It is not a religious organisation. Rather, it is a faith-based social enterprise. In US for instance, the government recongises their work and empower institutions to provide solutions to people’s problems.

Coming back home, according to the vision, what form would it take?

I am advocating that this type of institution should be support by the government, both at the federal and state levels. At the state level, it could be at the Ministry of Home Affairs. But at the federal level, it should be at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In U.S., former President George Bush set it up as the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. But President Barak Obama renamed it the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnership.

In Nigeria, a Department or Unit should be created in the Ministry of Home Affairs in case of the state governments and in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in case of the Federal Government. The government should then bring the private organisations of non-governmental organisations doing such empowerment works under the unit or department in the ministry. This will ensure that only credible organizations are involved in such activities. If credible people run non-governmental and faith-based organizations, banks and foreign interest groups will come in to support them. This is because the government will regulate their activities to ensure that they perform well.

What would you say the organisation has done so far?

So far, we have been sensitizing Nigerians on what WORK FORCE is about. We are hosting a programme a programme on August 23, 2016 at Oakwood Hotel in Lekki, Lagos to create more awareness on it. We have contacted the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Lagos State government. We are in discussion with the ministry to ensure the participation of the government in the programme. After the programme, we will have a stakeholders’ meeting for the immediate implementation of some of the projects we have.

What further roles has the organisation been playing to achieve its objectives of empowering the youths?

We have been doing programmes to enlighten the youths on creative abilities. In abroad, they have work culture and creativity. For instance, President Obama’s daughter had to do holiday work to earn money. In Nigeria and Africa, it cannot happen for a President’s daughter to do a holiday work. Here, children depend on their parents from Day One. Recently, we had a workshop on youth creativity with Apostle Eucharia Anunobi, a Nollywood star participating. Soon, we will go into proper training of the youths on re-orientation and re-evaluation of themselves. We want to bring them back to the right track and make them to imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship. We have a platform for them to develop their talents, especially those who have interest in the entertainment, like music and acting. We call it The Platform and it will take off in September.

What specific projects does the organisation have for Nigerians, especially at the community level?

We have the Community Dispensing and Laboratory Project, under our ROAD Programme. This is an acronym for Rural Outreach And Development Initiative. For this, we are targeting market paces in communities. We shall partner worth the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and companies that manufacture medical equipments. The aim is to teach people about healthcare. It will involve counseling and visiting nursing people as well as across the counter dispensing and laboratory diagnosis of people. This is to improve the health of the people. We are also partnering with the Commercial Section of the American Embassy for this project.

The other project we have is what we call the Mobile Food Cart. We also call it ‘Every Kobo Counts’. The programme is for women and young girls. Many of them spend a lot of money on weave-on and clothes. We want to train them on financial intelligence and self-discovery. This will help to stop wasteful spending among women. They will receive carts with which they can dispense foods and noodles. We are partnering with the Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs for this project.

Also, we want to establish African International Chamber of Social Enterprise. It will be an umbrella body for social entrepreneurs in Nigeria. What we have so far are commercial chambers. But, this will be an umbrella body for faith-based organizations which provide social services.

What plans does your organisation have for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country?

My personal concern about SMEs borders on their orientation. Nigerians have wrong ideas of doing business. When people get loans from banks, they put it in wrong use. Many do not know how to use the money wisely. So, we shall focus on training to change people’s orientation on how to manage their finances.

Do you think the federal and state governments are doing enough to solve the problem of unemployment in the society?

My view has always been that government cannot do everything for the people. Government today has a lot in its hands. We always have fire brigade approach of doing things. We are still suffering from what I call colonial cradle and we have been running with it. It has not been helping Nigerians. What we need is for government to partner with credible faith-based organizations like ours and work with them. We should be people who have ideas on how to solve problems. There are saboteurs acting as middle men between leaders, and the people. They exist everywhere, including the government. They sabotage efforts of leaders. With the efforts of faith-based organizations, employment opportunities will be created. With time we will solve the problem of unemployment in the country.

How do you see the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government?

As a member of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Crimes Commission (ICPC) partnership with National Anti-Corruption Coalition (NACC) otherwise known as ICPC/NACC, we identify an emerging trend of corruption. I am in the dredging industry for instance. Some people come in as brokers to defraud people. The EFCC should look into the new trends of corruption, identify where they are and keep tab on them. As far as fraud is involved, it is also financial. So, the EFCC should create an avenue of checking these emerging fraud trends. The government cannot do everything. In fighting corruption, there should be co-relation between government and the people. This will help to check all crimes, including corruption. The EFCC should create a desk through which people can call in or phone to report crimes, especially cases of fraud. This will make it easier for people to report crime. This will make it for people to report cases of fraud because the present method seems to be cumbersome.


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