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Vanguard, WEDNESDAY,

Vanguard, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 — 31 Good corporate governance-a hedge against corporate embarassment THE giant telecommunication company MTN has been in the news lately. Of course it is good for a corporate organisation to be in the news, but it must be for good reasons. A few days ago, MTN was on national news for illegal money transfer. The CBN accused MTN of transferring foreign exchange illegally out of the country and asked it to refund the sum of .1 billion it allegedly transferred. When I first heard this news of illegal transfer, I shuddered. How did this happen? Was it possible that they bought this huge sum of forex from the Mallam or the unlicensed bureau de change? Later I heard the CBN sanctioning some banks for aiding MTN to transfer the money illegally. Then my worry got worse. How come that banks which are licensed to deal in foreign exchange are being accused of aiding illegal transfer? Is this a case of illegal transfer of money or a case of the transfer of illegal money? I think that one of these or both of them sound like criminal offence. And if so,does CBN have the power to accuse, prosecute and exact punishment? One has always had this impression that foreign exchange transfers go through a process of authorisation. It looks like that. The banks penalised by CBN to pay fines of N5.87 billion- Standard Chartered, Stanbic- IBTC, Citibank, and Diamond- did not obtain appropriate authorisations from CBN before the transfers were made. Is it possible that these four otherwise respectable banks would deliberately act against the norm or against the law? And these alleged infractions occurred between 2007 and 2015. How come it took this long to find out, whereas banks make monthly returns to CBN? Troubling questions. While we were still trying to figure out answers to these bewildering posers, another bad news concerning MTN broke out last week. The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation charged MTN with failing to pay appropriate taxes, duties and levies. They were asked to pay tax arrears worth billion. Again I shuddered. MTN again? What is going on here? Tax evasion over 10 years? Where is the FIRS in all this? When did this tax dispute start? and how come it is blowing out in the public a few days after the illegal money transfer charge? Is this a mere coincidence or is it a fatal corporate governance failure in MTN or is there a plot to demonise and destroy MTN in Nigeria? Or, indeed, is it a combination of all of the above? I recollect that in 2015/2016, MTN almost went into liquidation when the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, imposed fines of .2 billion( N1.04trn)for failing to comply with the directive to deactivate telephone numbers Corporate social responsibility is good but it cannot replace good corporate governance nor can it sufficiently compensate for poor corporate governance sold to customers without registering the customers( unregistered or pre-registered SIM cards). The company’s income, stock prices, shareholders’ funds and corporate image took terrible hits then. And now similar or worse damages may happen. Why is MTN subjecting or allowing itself to be subjected to this kind of ordeal? I can never tell and I have a sneaky feeling that there is more to all these than what the headlines suggest. Is there a political or diplomatic angle to these? Your guess is as good as mine. But whatever may be the undertones or ulterior motives in these brawls, one thing is certain: MTN has some culpability. I have often worried about MTN and the way it carried on with its business since it came into this country with a bang. True MTN takes a big portion of the bragging rights for liberating Nigeria from the tyranny of NITEL and ushering Nigerians to the telecommunications age. Along with its competitors it has created jobs for several young Nigerians, including service suppliers and recharge card sellers. But MTN’s dealing with its trade partners or distributors has continued to baffle me. For long it looked like they never wanted any trade partner or distributor to succeed. They were often erratic in the way they changed trade policies and terms. It was as if they got irritated if they saw their distributors make profit! There was hardly any negotiations and their policies were often “ take or leave it”. In the process they have driven many distributors out of business, many with bitterness in their hearts. Less than five per cent of the distributors who started with them in 2001 are still trading with them today. Those who currently run the MTN business connect franchises are barely able to scratch out any margins as MTN gives them impossible targets and terms with little headroom. I presume that part of the problems of MTN is poor corporate governance. Any business that behaves as if it wants to maximize profit without keeping a damn on what is happening to other stakeholderssuppliers, distributors, employees, custormers, regulators, etc, is essentially courting trouble. Recently MTN and some of their competitors were picketed by labour leaders for their unfriendly labour policies. I feel extremely sad when MTN and companies like them, such as banks, make humongous profits, and yet are so wicked that they hire university graduates as ad-hoc staff or temporary staff( often through third parties), drive them so hard with neck-breaking schedules or targets and then pay them N 25,000 as monthly stipend. Therefore when such companies run into the kind of problems that MTN and some of the banks seem to repeatedly run into, you wonder if it is nemesis that is catching up. Maybe not, but the failure of corporate governance is evident. Nevertheless, I will end up by appealing to our regulatory agencies to take it easy with investors and such foreign owned companies like MTN, especially when the punishment for infractions look out of proportion to the infraction. Investors generally have herd mentality and when they feel persecuted as the MTN matter looks, they first become hesistant, and when the negative pressure is sustained, they flee. With our precarious economic growth status and the unrelenting unemployment, we must err on the side of caution. Such issues as tax dispute need not be held in the public glare. I will also advice MTN to improve its corporate governance practices. Corporate social responsibility is good but it cannot replace good corporate governance nor can it sufficiently compensate for poor corporate governance. Luckily there is a corporate governance conference organised by the Association of Corporate Governance Professionals of Nigeria, ACGPN, going on this week in Abuja. I fully recommend that MTN and other corporate organisations attend this conference and begin to internalize and practice good corporate governance principles as a hedge to these recurring corporate embarrassments. IN the immediate aftermath of the 31st December, 1983 coup that ousted the Shehu Shagari administration and brought then Major General Muhammadu Buhari into power, a dawn raid was conducted on the residence of one of the main opposition leaders of the Second Republic and key founders of modern Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. As the founder and presidential candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, Chief Awolowo had contested the 1983 presidential election against Alhaji Shagari who as leader of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, was seeking re-election into the office of president. The election was massively rigged and Shagari was returned into office just as the economy that had been subjected to reckless plunder in the previous four years of NPN control of power was reeling in confusion. It was in the wake of the violence, both actual and systemic, that had been visited on the country that the military took over power. The 1983 election had been contested, won and lost, for at least three months before the military incursion and Shagari who had stood as the NPN candidate was firmly back in the saddle even if uncomfortably. But there was no obvious reason why Chief Awolowo’s house should be the target of an obviously government-sponsored raid. There was neither sense nor method to the raid on his home by the secret police then led by Muhammadu Rafindadi. Supporters of Chief Awolowo as were other Yoruba leaders saw the raid on his home as an insult directed at both the person of the man generally considered an iconic leader of the Yoruba as well as an attack on the Yoruba. If Alhaji Shagari as president could be accused as having overseen the plunder of the economyif as the leader of the NPN Shagari was simply kept in house detention without his property being subjected to a raid, what justification A misguided raid could the government have for raiding the home of another leader who was quietly minding his business following his retirement from active politics? This among others was the question that agitated the minds of Nigerians. The whole episode was seen as a sign of the ethnic bias of and warning from the Buhari junta that it would take no prisoners. The situation was by no means helped when in the following weeks and latter months the junta continued to breathe fire as it went about clamping hundreds of Nigerians into jail. Buhari himself had in his first interview promised to ‘tamper’ with press freedom apparently in the name of safeguarding national security. Any report considered embarrassing to a government official could be read as a threat to national security- things were that open-ended! And those who dared then had sad tales to tell. Shots aimed at the air like search warrants randomly procured can be utilised anyhow. What safety checks are in place to guide against this? But this was the early 1980s when military rule was yet all the rage. Nigerians would want to believe that life has changed since then. But not very much it would now appear. For just a week ago, the executive-arm incarnation of those reprobate years of Gestapo policing, the Department of State Services or DSS as it is now known, conducted a similar raid as the SSS visited on Awolowo on the Abuja home of Chief Edwin Clark. This time the secret police has an alibi: it accused the 92-year old Clark of gun running. They ransacked the old man’s home, turned his house upside down including the inner recesses of his bedroom and harassed members of his household at gunpoint. As Nigerians cry out in horror at what many perceived as a reversion to the best forgotten years of military terror, accusing the government and police of underhand tactics, the ever-voluble Jimoh Moshood, the Police spokesperson, was at hand to defend the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris that he saw as the target of the outcry. Without waiting to find out more about the incident, Moshood warned off critics to allow the police to do its job without holding the IG responsible. The police would soon after release a cautious statement, deftly deflected attention from itself even as it promised to investigate the incident further. It was not long before it came back with its findings. The raid was unauthorised it said and the officers involved would be brought to account. This was something Moshood could have found out if he had not been too defensive. But what prompted this serious breach of a private citizen’s rights, a citizen who has in recent times been involved in pouring oil on the troubled waters of the Niger-Delta? A mere rumour, indeed a beer room gossip by a taxi driver, we are being told, could have led to the entire charade. A so-called informant, prompted by a taxi driver’s small talk, contacted the police to report a case of gun running! How many Nigerians have been sent away to rot and die in jail for nothing more than side talks like this? If it had been some other Nigeria of lesser stature would the police have tried to be civil, going on to offer an apology and summarily dismissing the officers involved? Body language matters and so do utterances, we are increasingly being made aware. Could President Buhari’s recent rhetoric that proffered a skewed and de-contextualised definition of national security, thus rating it over and above the ‘rule of law’ or the constitution- could his recent remarks like his 1984 promise to tamper with press freedom have prompted some busybodies within the security agencies to try to justify his utterances by all means? It was a decade after the act, long after Chief Awolowo had passed to be ale to demand an apology that Buhari would apprise Nigerians of ‘fifth columnists’ within his junta and proclaim his innocence in the 1984 raid on Chief Awolowo’s home. Before the President recently spoke, his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Malami, tried to casually place ‘national security’ above constitutional imperatives by offering a justification that must have cued President Buhari for the remark he made. The question needs to be asked now: is the police merely flying a kite or were there officers actually dismissed for this latest infraction of right-violation of a senior Nigerian? Has justice been served by this dismissal or have the officers involved merely taken the fall for more senior people? After all, they acted on an informant’s report and did so with a search warrant. Who issued the warrant, if we may ask and who checks when and how operatives procure search warrants? This situation looks like that of police personnel who randomly shoot into the air. Who checks to know how ammunition issued to them are dispensed? Shots aimed at the air like search warrants randomly procured can be utilised anyhow. What safety checks are in place to guide against this? C M Y K

32-- Vanguard, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 YOUR LUCK TODAY By Joshua Adeyemo Phone 08056180139 TAURUS: Better opportunity to make money may come your way but those who want your affection and vice versa, may not allow you to concentrate fully. Take advantage of the opportunity to establish friendship with influential people. GEMINI: Most of the exciting happenings are within your base of operation. And healthy relationships may start between you and other members of your work force. Take the initiative. CANCER: When it comes to passion/romance, you come first. And on a day like this when love is in the air, you can’t be left in the cold. Don’t be selfish please. LEO: Financial success may be what you want to celebrate with members of your opposite sex who unexpectedly arouse your passion. VIRGO: Many will desire you strongly today but you’ll equally attract the green-eyed monster called jealousy especially from your established relationship. Movement and communication will do the magic LIBRA: Romantic Venus and sexy Mars are bringing influences of money, friendship, real love and leadership to earth’s inhabitants. What do you want? SCORPIO: Venus, Mars and Pluto at work today will influence many of you to give more time to mattersof-the-heart, especially physical side of it. SAGITTARIUS: Love is in the air but if care is not taken, members of your opposite sex you see as your superiors (or boss) may become entangled. Watch it. CAPRICORN; Influence of the Moon today actually wants you to work hard but if you ignore love, you’ll not be able to concentrate on what you are doing. Friends will drive your fun-seeking vehicle along social circles. L E I S U R E TAKE HEART — ELLA RANDLE “ Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and don’t give up.” -Rachel Corrie- Reinventing oneself is about a new way of looking at things, for instance fate and free will. Both influential in our lives, and while fate might appear to have more influence over us, the balance keeps shifting, the more we learn about it. In other words, to believe in oneself and to work diligently for better change is continuous consciousness in the awareness of ourexpectations. -Ella Randle- TERROR MUDA in “Never say goodbye” SAYINGS OF OUR PEOPLE If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. ~ African proverb By Kola Fayemi AQUARIUS: Some of you will be falling in love for the first time. And those of you who are old in the act will have rare excitement and satisfaction. Money can come in. DUDU in “ROLLING HOT” By A.O. OLAIDE PISCES: You will find it relatively difficult to ignore love as attractive members of your opposite sex may go out of their way to gain your attention. ARIES: Powerful emotional feelings may overwhelm some of you and make you crave secret affair (with your subordinates?) It’s important you don’t allow scandal. ASTROLOGICAL COUNSELLING Send your date and place of birth to the Astr trological Counselling, P.M.B 100 007, Apapa, Lagos What is wrong with me? Dear Joshua, I have written you many letters without response, I hope I will be lucky this time around. What’s your e- mail address? Although, I am interested in my financial affair and will like to know what awaits me in the future as the ups and downs are giving me concern, what I want you to tell me is: Who is working spiritually against my marriage? I have married four times. Why? Kudiratu, Ibadan. Dear Kudiratu, If you have spiritual warfare, it is in your financial affairs. You were endowed with special ability to make money for both yourself and other people. However, three things can militate against your finances namely; inability to hold on to your gains for too long (miscalculation) jealousy and occultic manipulation by those who are green with envy. Yet, whatever happens, dire financial misfortune is not meant for you, especially if you heed advice from your star; your being spiritual will assist you. Fortunate placement of the Moon and Venus in Libra and Sagittarius endowed you with charming and magnetic personality which will make it easier for you to attract members of your opposite sex who will be willing to make you happy. But after sometime, your hidden aggressive personality and tendencies to worry will come out to the resentment of members of your opposite sex. Some other times, you promise more than you can deliver. Then yours is a jealous soul (yes everybody was born with jealous traits) but yours is extraordinary and if you have reason to doubt the other person, you may not be able to forgive. The summary here is that there’s not much spiritual aspect working against you here but your too strong or powerful personality is what you will need to work on: if at all you have problem with love. One sure bet is members of your opposite sex cannot do without your magnetic pose. VIRGINIA HOME & ABROAD dadadekola@yahoo.com By Lawrence Akapa

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