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Hon. Adenike Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin; An exemplary woman of virtue By Saleeman Muslim

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By Muslim Saleeman

The occasion of your birthday is indeed remarkable to reflect on your wonderful personality and retrospect on your specialities. As you display through your actions, I shall briefly justify your essentiality through Pen.

It has been a wonderful and impressive journey of grace and gratitude so far. You’ve really made us proud and happy with your excellent performance as the Honorable Commissioner of our great State. The leadership traits in you is inherent as you’ve truly differentiated between progress and stagnation.

Words are not enough to appreciate God for your life which is a beacon of hope for the hopeless and an inspiration to numerous. Your patriotism, selflessness and bridge-building capacity have manifested in unprecedented administrative and socio-political excellence, undisputable social investment on the development of our dear state.

The exploits of your predominant tenacity with resilience in every facet of humanity are testimonies to your exceptional leadership and uncommon vision for coming generations. Even if all seems to be a familiar appraisal, I will still emphatically say you’re always on adventures of commitment to ensuring ability where there’s disability and stability where there’s instability.

There have been so many practical experiences with you which make me a witness to justify the above accolades that you deserve. The platform you’ve been given to serve even acknowledges the intelligence and wisdom you’re blessed with to pilot the affairs of the Ministry. A versatile bold woman you are!

As a model to me, you are a great epitome of integrity and discipline; these among others I so much cherish as you’re so worthy of emulation in all ramifications. May Allah continue to be your strength.

Hearty felicitation on your new glorious age Ma. May you continue to be enriched with the necessary qualities that shall best make you greater than who you are as I wish you many graceful and prosperous returns with more accomplished fulfilments. Amin!

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Business Start-ups: Problems and solutions By Abraham John Onoja

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Business start-ups are constantly becoming the order of the day. Let’s face it, we live in the age where startups are exploding everywhere like never before. With the constant rise of highly industrious and motivated entrepreneurs, these individuals are leaving no stone unturned to prove their worth in this thriving culture of innovation and technology.
However, just as many of these startups make a significant presence and flourish, others unfortunately disappear into oblivion.

There’s an adage that says “Survival of the fittest”, truth be told, this adage apart from humans alone is also applicable to business start-ups. The road to having a successful business start-up isn’t a smooth one which is why it is important for entrepreneurs to not only get an idea and start up a business but also gain the necessary knowledge that could help in bringing the business into existence.

Having analyzed all of this, we are left with questions such as,how many startups can survive the tough waves of change? Why do business start-ups fail initially? Which we could say it is as a result of high risk situations attached with startups, whereby a failed strategy acts as a trigger. With challenges everywhere,generally business and particularly start-up businesses, it is important to take note of some of this challenges that is faced in that area. Going further, let’s take a quick points on some common problems of start-ups and their proferred solutions.

Lack Of Finances

One of the most essentials for startups to survive is finance. With income increasing and expenses also increasing, startups basically rely on investors who provide strong financial support, therefore when a situation of lack of finances arises, the start-ups are usually the first to suffer it and eventually submit to the situation. While trying tk put in funds into the business, entrepreneurs have to also make sure to pay other necessary bills.

Solution

A solution to this challenge is finding ways in which cost can be minimized. Its also not a bad idea to go the digitalized way. Entrepreneurs can make use of accounting softwares to keep track of their inflow and outflow.

Poor Business Planning

Another major key for business start-ups is proper business planning. Poor planning has led to many businesses failure in the first year. Why? Because they do not effectively put in challenges and pitfalls. As much as your business has innovative ideas and ambitions, lack in effective and proper planning will lead to a crash.

Solution

Before launching a business, it is important to carry out proper research by investigating necessary details such as competitors price, suppliers and the rest. This approach builds a solid foundation for a successful business. Also writing an effective business plan helps startups to define their business, target audience, operation conduct and the amount money that it will generate and spend.

Lack Of Proper Marketing Strategy

It is always a challenge for startups to figure out how best they can market their products or services and have it reach a wider audience. igure out best ways to market their products or services.

Solution

Technology today has practically made alot of things easier as it has opened a broad spectrum of avenues for marketing in form of electronic, print, online etc
Therefore, startups need to seek out ways in which they can create innovative marketing plans, advert placing, to let people know the worth of thier product or services. A good marketing strategy should have a vision, a mission and a business goal. It should be able to give a detailed explanation on the role of a business products or services in the market. A good proper marketing strategy will keep customers loyalty towards the products or services.

Competition

A fierce Competition happens to be the most inevitable challenge that startups face. Startups are usually faced with two obstacles which are, monopolistic businesses that have dominated the market, making it difficult for newcomers to emergea and secondly, countless startups that are launched regularly in the market having innovative ideas, so it is very much likely to get swallowed by the shadow of other startups.

Solution

The good thing about competition is that it creates and environment for businesses to come out with the best. There is, in fact, a whole lot of opportunities existing for entrepreneurs because switching costs for most customers are low and many are willing to try new, relatively untested products or services. To overcome the challenge of competition, startups need to research and analyze their niche industry; should be unique and different in approach; and also be able to create, implement, and track their business and marketing plan, which is very important.

Lack Of A Dedicated Team

A good and dedicated team is everything. Lack of a proper team, can cause a business to suffer immensely. Lack of commitment acn aggravate frustration in the organization which quickly escalates into an open conflict. If team members start making under commitments due to the fear of being responsible or blamed for failure, businesses will never achieve their set goals.

Solution

A well dedicated team with diverse skils is very important for the startups to grow and succeed. There ought to be a proper synergy, coordination, and good communication among the members of a team. A team is formed by individuals who have different range of capabilities with identical focus which allows for members to help each other, learn from each other, and put a concerted effort in order to achieve success.

Unrealistic Expectations

Success comes with expectations. Startups tend to face challenges when they set ‘unrealistic expectations’ following a booming success. Remember, success is usually short-lived and expectations never end. This is where startups need to understand what the real expectations are? Sustainability is key and sustainability requires consistent efforts.

Solution
In order for startups to succeed in a competitive business world,they need to have high but controlled expectations, keeping in mind the resources available, the extent of growth potential, and other market factors that need to be considered as well.

In conclusion,challenges and problems are inevitable as far as the success journey of a startup is concerned. Threfore, it is important for entrepreneurs to be resilient and focused towards keeping their values intact no matter what the circumstances are.

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Taking Action to Empower Women in West Africa By AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq   

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Across the globe, societies are seemingly convulsed by campaigns for greater equality on gender and identity grounds. We have an equivalent gender parity problem in West Africa. It is more straightforward in many ways, but no less pressing. We must act deliberately and decisively to improve outcomes for women in order for Africa to reach its developmental goals. 
 
This is why, today, Thursday October 1, Kwara State, the Nigerian State of which I am Governor, will be hosting its first annual regional West African conference on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Timed to coincide with Nigerian Independence Day, our goal is to mobilise African leaders to galvanise the will to be ‘intentional’ about gender parity in Nigeria and the wider West African region. We are hoping that the conference will herald a second ‘independence day’ for the 50% of our citizens whose interests have, historically, been deemed second priority.
 
It is my belief that improving outcomes for women requires action from all levels of government, especially the top. Achieving gender equality calls for deliberate and intentional steps by individuals in positions of political and institutional power. Governments should make it a policy to appoint women to senior roles, at national, state, and local government. Businesses and civic organisations should do the same.
 
Women leadership not only ensures that women’s interests are properly protected, it also sends a clear, motivational and empowering message to women to take decisions that affect their future. It is our variation of the ‘nothing about us without us’ ideal.
 
Happily, this is not just my belief. I will be joined at the conference by political leaders and gender advocates from Nigeria and several neighbouring West African states, and the leadership of international and regional institutions, including the United Nations, the World Bank (WB), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
 
Together, we will consider domestic, bilateral and multilateral strategies to increase women’s participation in our societies. Former President of Liberia and first female President in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will discuss how the Executive Branch can take the lead in ensuring increased women participation in government and the economy. We will hear from the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Sidie Mohamed Tunis, about regional approaches to closing the gender gap. 
 
We want to discuss how the international financial Institutional support to governments could be extended to encompass gender parity objectives. This would use grants and loans to incentivise governments to appoint target quotas of women to senior roles. Institutional innovations like these from the WB and IMF would receive strong support from political leaders like Madame Sirleaf and myself, and, to a greater extent, my other colleagues here, who have made gender parity an objective. 
 
For me personally, it is an open and shut case.  Under my leadership, the Kwara State Executive Council now has 56% female representation, with women also in the key portfolios of finance, education, water resources, and environment. The Head of our Civil Service is a woman, as are about 50% of the permanent secretaries. The quality of policy formulation and administration are better as a result. 
 
The truth is governments need to go beyond the tokenism and get to the core of this issue. Businesses need to do the same also. Pushing for women participation in the private sector is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. Statistics have shown that the presence of women in leadership is linked to better performance of private sector firms. 
 
Our hope is that the conference today will trigger a domino effect that leads to similar policy agendas being prioritised in all African countries. The active support and participation of women leaders and the major international institutions is crucial to the success of the initiative.
 
AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is Governor of Kwara State

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A Governor and his love for probity

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By Rafiu Ajakaye
 
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is an emerging phenomenon in the Nigerian political space, thanks to his style, his drive to make things easy for the poor within resources available to him, and the pace at which he is demystifying governance. He lives in his own house. He drives his own car. He carries his own files. He goes about town on official duties without the air that comes with governance in the country. And he recently made himself a subject of school quiz when he officially wrote to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the anti-graft body, to probe his own administration on claims that N300m of Local government funds was being diverted monthly. Who does that?
 
He went a step higher a few months ago when he became the country’s first chief executive to introduce social audits of public projects. While several Kwarans considered the step as the next phase of his efforts to sanitise governance in the state, particularly given his record of involving neutral parties in monitoring government programmes, a few others said he was only trying to kill the Freedom of Information Bill. They warned the civic group (ENETSUD) tapped to partner with the government that the social audit was a kiss of death for proponents of the FOI. But the Governor said he meant every word about the social audit and that it was not intended to kill the FOI. For him, the social audit is meant to strengthen transparency, ensure good governance, and strengthen public confidence in government for better service delivery. It is meant to break the ice. But his critics would have none of that. They said it was all talk! 
 
Today, social auditing has become a reality with at least six projects now being examined by the civic group to know whether works done by contractors are commensurate with public funds released for the projects. In the first phase, the College of Education Road (Ilorin); Government High School renovation Adeta Ilorin; Patigi Secondary School Patigi; Diamond Underpass Geri-Alimi; Ilesha Baruba-Gwanara Road; and Cargo Terminal Airport Road are to be audited.
 
The exercise is the first of its kind in Nigeria. What the Governor has done is to volunteer all relevant technical documents to the civic group to conduct independent critique of the projects to determine whether there is value for public funds sunk into them. It is fair to note that the social audit partly followed an outcry in some quarters about the quality of jobs done on some projects. 
 
This is beyond doubt a rare show of transparency, accountability, and oft-absent political will to make things work for the people. In doing this, the Governor is not expecting everything to be perfect. He instead intended the social audit to build confidence and open a new page in public accountability on the part of everybody involved in project conception, management, and execution. As he mentioned in the interface with ENETSUD and elsewhere, outcome of the social audit could lead to government directing contractors to return to site to correct observations made. And it may well lead to some contractors getting a pat on the back for job well done. Or a red card for erring ones. Similarly, it is a sign to government’s project monitors to always do the right thing as their own judgment may not always guarantee a pass mark for any contractors. Ultimately, no one would get away with poor job in Kwara. Not anymore. 
 
Some persons have suggested that any revelations of poor jobs would rub off badly on the Governor. That shows they do not know him. He seeks the best for his people. His focus is to gently and steadily move everyone to do their own bit as he is doing his. He appreciates the institutional gap that had long existed in project conception and execution and he wants to leave a legacy of being that leader who insisted that the public must get value for their money. Accepting to do social audit is an evidence that he is not one who gives contract and asks for some unlawful returns. All he desires is the best for the state. 
 
And there is no let up in this regard. For the first time in Kwara, the Governor has officially activated the Public Procurement Agency with the recent appointment of Mallam Raheem AbdulBaki as its pioneer General Manager. You know what? That law had long existed in Kwara but no one had the balls to implement it for reasons readers may guess. It is not every time a state is blessed with leaders who walk their talk. Kwara is currently having one in the Governor who tells anyone who cares to listen that he has nothing to hide. And every step he takes speaks just to that. 
 

Ajakaye is CPS to the Governor
 

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