While we all gleefully support the fight against corruption, it appears that the overzealousness of the security agents would tarnish some hard-earned names and reputations if they do not follow proper procedure. We are happy that in this case, the new EFCC chairman had the presence of mind to correct the erratic behaviour of his agents.
At issue is the defacing of the Capital Hub mall. EFCC agents wrote their trademark “Keep off. Under EFCC Investigation!” This was done on the suspicion that one of the shopkeepers is under EFCC investigation.
But the question everyone is asking is that how could casting suspicion on one individual and one shop lead to the blanket defacing of the entire mall?
The owner had to rush to EFCC whose agents requested that he should show proof of ownership of the building. When he went back with the documents to Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC chairman, the enraged chairman apologized to the owner, called his agents and told them off, saying that wasn’t the instruction they were given.
His agents are at the mall now removing their red ink. But some of the family members feel aggrieved enough to consider court action.
Do you know that as of 2012, the business process outsourcing, BPO, sector employed 2.8 million people in India and contributed $11 billion about 1 percent of the nation’s GDP? This is a third of Nigeria’s 2016 budget. Did you also know that the BPO industry generates more new jobs in Philippines, contributes 2.4 percent to GDP and it is projected that this year, the sector would employ 1.2 million workers and generate $25 billion? Most importantly, how would you help Nigeria take advantage of this industry, the ITES-BPO subsector? (ITES stands for Information Technology Enabled Service.) For example, how do we attract a big chunk of the call center outsourcing market share to Nigeria? How did Philippines become the world’s BPO capital in 2010?
We’ll return to business in a bit. Permit me a minute to be less formal. It may interest you that you once mentored me when I was much younger. And I’m happy to report that between our last meeting and now, I’ve earned myself a PhD and guided hundreds of others toward the same qualification and other degrees. For a short spell, I was also the chief press secretary to the governor of my state. On my gratitude to you, I wrote the following (widely shared post) when we were not sure you will become a minister:
One minister I hope makes it
We have to wait until Tuesday for the senate president to unveil the list of ministers. But I’m interested in one of the names said to be on the list as speculated in the media.
That person, when I was barely out of my teenage years, told me this or something similar: “Ibraheem, you have a bright future, and I will do anything to help you.”
Barrister Adebayo Shittu (yes, that’s his name) wasn’t able to help me materially. But he didn’t need to, his words alone were enough help. They inspired me when I doubted myself.
And for that reason, I’ve never hesitated in saying the same thing to a younger person in whom I see potential.
Barrister Shittu might have forgotten those words he said to me. He might have also forgotten the Ibraheem to whom he mentioned the words, but I’ll never forget. One never forgets such unshakeable confidence in one’s ability, especially when it comes from outside of the family.
Maya Angelou was right: “People never forget how you made them feel.”
I hope Barrister Shittu becomes a minister. Not only because he helped me, but because he’s genuinely a good person and also because he qualifies.
In 1979, at 26, he was the youngest member of the Oyo State Assembly. In 1983, he became a commissioner. Recently, he was appointed a commissioner again, I think under Gov Ladoja.
In 2011, he was the gubernatorial candidate of the CPC in Oyo state when Buhari was the presidential candidate on the platform of the same party. No doubt, he would integrate in to President Buhari’s anti-corruption platform like a fish to water.
I’ve always wanted to be like him; educated in the Western sense and still know your religion enough to author books on it.
On this front, I’ve fallen short of my aims.
Now that I’ve restated my confidence in you, let’s get back to business.
What is BPO?
It is a subset of business outsourcing that involves contracting of some aspects of business processes to a third-party service provider. Offshore outsourcing is when a business contracts a service provider outside its country to handle some business processes on its behalf. While nearshore outsourcing is when businesses outsource to nearby or neighboring countries.
Back office outsourcing includes internal processes such as accounting and human resources. Front office outsourcing is typically customer-service related outsourcing such as the call centers. This is the area to which we want the minister to turn his attention.
We have a few call center service providers in Nigeria. The list includes CELLCORE Ltd (http://www.cellcore.com.ng/) and Customer Contact Solutions (http://www.ccsnl.com/). But what we should aim for is a destination trusted to handle customer contact such as phone calls for businesses in America, Europe, etc. India holds five to six percent market share of BPO and impressive 63 percent of the offshore BPO. Despite the growth of the industry in India, other countries such as South Africa, Philipines and countries in Eastern Europe are competing for their own share. According to the Philippines website, mb.com.ph, the BPO industry would bring in revenues of $25 billion and employ 1.2 million people. In South Africa, the industry employed 54,000 people by 2008 and contributed 0.92% to the GDP according to SouthAfrica.info. China has also begin its march into the sector.
Also, due to Eastern Europe’s 17.2 million people with tertiary education, compared to India’s 13.6 million, McKinsey & Company reported that 33,000 jobs were moved to Eastern Europe in 2010 and it is projected to keep growing. What is surprising is that Nigeria is not usually included among the participants in BPO despite the fact that we also have some of the things that make BPO destinations attractive; such as cheap labour and the use of English language. For example, why can’t companies in the West outsource their phone calls to Nigeria when we appear to have better English accent than Indians?
We need to expand the BPO industry in Nigeria especially the call center aspect.
What to do?
Three things. One, let’s pick a model to learn from. The Philippines could provide us a neater framework for us to adopt. For example in 2001 a United States based outsourcing concern moved to the Philippines – immediately generating 8,000 jobs. We also learned from Rappler’s “A History of BPO Industry in Numbers”, that in 2003, the Convergys Corporation unfolded two more call centers in the Philippines thereby creating more jobs, transferring knowledge and expanding the sector. We should find giants in the industry and attract them to Nigeria. Two, draw up a blueprint for BPO operations in Nigeria. One of my former professors, a Canadian based in Southeast Asia, has agreed to do this with other experts. He has published in the field and his passionate about Nigeria. Three, organize an international conference in collaboration with ContactCenterWorld.com and expose our compatriots to their reach, knowledge and networks and participate in their Global Contact Center Awards.
Therefore, for Nigeria to benefit from this industry, we don’t need to start from scratch. We can simply learn from those who are already benefiting. Indeed, some of the technologies, such as Genesys call center solution, are already here.
In October 2013, the governor of Niger State at that time, Governor Babangida Aliyu, approved the purchase of 19 vehicles for the Department of State Services (DSS) in Niger State; to be funded through the SURE-P programme. Two years later, checks within the DSS command in Niger State revealed that some of the vehicles are no longer with them in Minna, the state capital. Many speculate that the former director of the service in Niger State, Larry Obiagwu, absconded with some of the cars when he was posted out of Niger.
On 23 September 2013, in a letter to Governor Babangida Aliyu of the PDP, Mr. Larry Obiagwu requested for cars “for operational effectiveness.” Whereupon Governor Babangida Aliyu approved the request on the same day. While approving, the governor stated that the vehicles should “be provided within the week.”
Two weeks later, on 7 October 2015, the commissioner for works and chairman of SURE-P implementation in the state, Muazu Mohammed Bawa, in a letter, reminded the governor of his approval and itemized the vehicles to be purchased to include:
1 Toyota Prado Jeep LLX 2013 at N13.6 million naira.
5 Toyota Hilux Pickups at N7.1 million each
3 Toyota Camry saloon at N6.2 million naira each and
10 used Ford Focus at N1.35 million each.
The total cost of the vehicles was stated as N81, 200, 000 (eighty-one million, two hundred thousand naira).
Many in the state and even some officers of the Department of State Services have been shocked by the revelation. This, they said, reeks of the corruption under President Jonathan led PDP administration where everybody did what they wanted without thinking of the consequences. “If it is true that Larry took the cars, Niger State Government should collect them back from him,” a top DSS officer said in Minna.
First of all, DSS is a Federal Government agency for which the FG holds the responsibility of funding. Although it is customary in Nigeria for state governments to donate equipment to Federal Government agencies, donating up to 19 vehicles in one transaction is a tad excessive. Especially when children in schools for which the state government was responsible were sitting on the floor, their schools lacked equipment and their teachers were not properly remunerated.
Following the changes in the service when President Buhari came into office in May 2015, the new leadership of the DSS first posted Mr. Larry Obiagwu from Niger to Kaduna State before he was finally retired from service.
However, this leaves many questions outstanding: were all the approved 19 vehicles delivered to DSS by the state government? If so, how many are left with the service? Is it true that Larry Obiagwu left with eight of the vehicles? If yes, would the DSS collect back the vehicles from Mr. Larry Obiagwu after sighting the evidence in this report? If the cars were not delivered, should the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission be asked to recorver the vehicles for the Niger State Government?