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CSR-in-Action Takes on Gender-Based-Violence, Premieres Documentary on Women’s Plight

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Africa’s foremost sustainability consulting and advocacy outfit, CSR-in-Action, is set to premiere its expository docudrama, ‘Earth Women’, as part of its drive to tell the stories of women affected by the activities of the extractive industries in Nigeria and empower them.

Funded by Ford Foundation, the 30-minute documentary explores the brutal impact of extractive activities such as oil exploration and mining, on women in communities where those activities are taking place. It also addresses issues such as Gender-Based Violence (GBV), discrimination, oppression, health and safety, rape, prostitution, economic disadvantage, and other challenges faced by women in artisanal mining and exploration.

“Women are often the worst victims of the adverse effects of mining and oil and gas exploration, but their stories have remained largely untold because their voices are often silenced in male-dominated societies,” said Bekeme Masade-Olowola, Chief Executive, CSR-in-Action and the documentary’s Executive Director, “Earth Women is aimed at educating and driving the Nigerian leadership and populace into taking systemic action on social issues such as gender discrimination and gender-based violence in extractive communities.”

According to Masade-Olowola, who visualised the concept for the documentary, it is the result of almost two years of hard work; researching, navigating dangerous terrains, and having very difficult conversations. “As an African woman and reformer, I embrace my calling to use storytelling to bring focus to issues that matter to us most in Africa. No one but us must tell those stories in our own voice”.

“Earth Women is a thrilling exposé on challenges and discrimination faced by women within the extractive communities,” said Dolapo Adeleke, award-winning filmmaker and the documentary’s creative director.  

Adeleke, whose 60 minutes Valentine’s Day Digital film, PLAN B, won Best East African Film at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards 2019, added that, “There are disturbing revelations and eerie tales told by the women who live in these communities and have faced generational marginalisation and discrimination. This docudrama unearths their struggles and aims to highlight very important issues that have continued to plague women and children even in these supposed modern times.” 

Earth Women, also executive-produced by veteran thespian, Ego Boyo and communication expert, Meka Olowola, is part of the ‘SITEI-Woman’ project, a series of initiatives targeted at empowering women, especially those impacted by the extractive industries in Nigeria, while SITEI-Woman itself, is an offshoot of 10-year-old Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) Initiative, of CSR-in-Action which is aimed at fostering fiscal and social justice for communities with oil and gas and mining resources.

CSR-in-Action will alongside the docudrama premiere host the third Community and Human Rights (CAHR) Awards, which honours individuals and organisations contributing selflessly to social justice and community development and inclusion in Africa. The awards were postponed from 2021 due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The awards are in seven categories, each dedicated to a historically prominent personality. Categories include the Ken Saro-Wiwa Environmental Management Award, MKO Abiola Community Engagement Award, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba Community Impact Award, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti Human Rights Award, Aminu Kano Leadership Award, Josephine Nkemdilim Equal Rights Award, and Apostle Hayford Alile Humanitarian Award. Past award winners include Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote; Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; human rights activist, Aisha Yesufu; and Agip Oil Company Ltd.

The CAHR Awards 2021 jurors include popular rapper and community activist, Michael Ugochukwu Stephens known as Ruggedman; community organiser and women rights activist, Emem Okon; radio personality and musicologist of Classic FM, Sola Mogaji; renowned communications expert, Tokunbo George-Taylor; Chairman/Council member, Mining Solid Minerals Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Otunba Engr. Babatunde Alatise; and Community Development Specialist, Dr. Mina Ogbanga.

Inclusion, Teamwork, Take Centrestage at Maiden Pro-Am Series one Golf Tournament

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Inclusion and teamwork are some of the themes highlighted by the maiden Series One Pro-Am Golf tournament held at Ikoyi Club 1938, Lagos on Sunday, 20 March 2022. The event was hosted by the Pro-Am Golf Group and sponsored by Giba Golf Nigeria and Zenera Consulting, amongst several other sponsors.

Aimed at supporting professional golfers while enabling amateur golfers to improve their game, the Series 1 Pro-Am tournament involved both amateurs and professionals from various clubs playing together in teams. Each team comprised of three amateurs and one professional playing a stableford scoring format.

According to Fred Akalamudo of Giba Golf Nigeria, one of the major sponsors of the event, the tournament has been a success.

 “I think it has been a highly successful competition,” said Akalamudo, who also played in the tournament, “The event was well attended by both spectators and players. Altogether, we had over 108 golfers who gave their best in a friendly but highly competitive atmosphere. Our aim is to support the pros and a big thank you to Ikoyi Club 1938 for providing this spectacular opportunity to achieve this.”

After an exciting game with stableford scoring format, the team comprising of Peggy Onwu, Meka Olowola, Akeem Lawal and Monday Eze emerged the overall winners of the tournament with 126 stableford points ahead of O.J. Ebong, Peter Okeke, Tony Onwu and Akinwande Oladipo who came second with 124points, whilst the quartet of Paul Brisibe, Ogemdi Akalamudo, Fred Akalamudo and Friday Akpodiete came a close third with 123 points.

Speaking at the prize presentation ceremony, Meka Olowola, Managing Partner of Zenera Consulting, “We came out there today primarily to have fun and grateful to be able to participate in such an exciting tournament comprising of perhaps the best pros and amateurs. It is, therefore, gratifying to have been a part of the team that won the overall best team despite the quality of players on the course.” said Olowola, a member of the first-place winning team.

The tournament offered amateur golfers, an opportunity to play competitive golf at an advanced level, thereby sharpening their skills while also promoting the professional golfers playing with them.

“More than often, amateur golf players see the professionals from afar,” said Ademola Osindero, Team Lead for the Pro-Am Golf Group.

“Here at Ikoyi Club 1938, we have been working with professionals for about a year during our weekly kitties and because of that experience, we play a lot better now. Therefore, we wanted more players to experience the quality of play and improvements in their games,” Osindero added.

JAMB ePINs 2022: Candidates Begin Purchase on Remita

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Remita, a leading electronic payment brand, has commenced the sale of the 2022 Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and Direct Entry (DE) ePINs to prospective candidates seeking admission into higher institutions across Nigeria. In response and as a proof of trust in the platform, candidates have begun to purchase their ePINs from the platform.

Similarly, agents and schools across Nigeria who have begun to re-sell JAMB ePINs on Remita are also being duly rewarded with one of the most handsome commission available per transaction.

As recently announced by the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB), the sale of ePINs for 2022 UTME and DE registrations commenced on Saturday, February 19, 2022 and ends on Saturday, March 26, 2022.

Intending candidates are to register with their National Identification Number (NIN) by typing the word ‘NIN’, then space, adding their 11-digit NIN and sending as an SMS to 55019 or 66019, e.g (NIN 00123456789). They would receive an SMS with a 10-digit profile code via the telephone number that should be used to purchase their ePINs.

They are then to proceed to the Remita website and click ‘Buy JAMB form’, select ‘UTME’ or ‘Direct Entry’ and input their confirmation code, registered phone number, and other necessary details.

Prospective candidate can make payments using any channel convenient for them including debit or credit card, USSD, mobile wallet, bank account and internet banking. They can also walk into any bank and request to purchase their ePINs with Remita. Prospective candidates can also pay through Remita on JAMB’s website.

Once payment is completed, the PIN will be delivered to the candidate’s registered phone number and also displayed on their Remita receipt.

Chinedu Alisa, Retail Manager at SystemSpecs, the providers of Remita, said prospective candidates of the 2022 UTME will enjoy seamless and reliable registration when they buy their ePINs on the Remita platform.

“Candidates, agents and schools that purchase their ePIN on Remita are guaranteed a seamless experience when they make this purchase at any time and from anywhere through any of the multiple payment options available on Remita.

“We have made the bulk resale process easier for agents, schools and other outlets that buy JAMB ePINs on Remita, with an increase in the commission on each PIN bought via our platform. Agents can also file for refund of unsold PINs. This is to ensure that they get value for their money and are duly compensated for each sale they make,” he added.

Alpa Mead Boss Charges IFMA to Tailor Activities Towards National Development

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The Group Managing Director of Alpha Mead, Engr. Femi Akintunde, has charged the executives of the International Facility Management Association, (IFMA) Nigeria, to tailor their activities towards nation-building and standards regularization. This call was made during a courtesy call to the head office of Alpha Mead by IFMA executives recently.

Akintunde stated that the association has metamorphosed over the years and now needs to focus its attention on actions that will be of great impact to the country at large while ensuring the national facilities management (FM) standards are not compromised as a result of new players in the industry. “The IFMA should join the ranks of professional bodies that have added some measure of innovation to their activities. One such body is the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and its National Infrastructure Scorecard it develops on an annual basis to assess the state of infrastructure as it pertains to usability, with the report presented to the presidency. I know that IFMA has the right personnel and technical competence to embark on a strategic task on this level and I urge you to take it into consideration” he said.

President of the association, Segun Adebayo, acknowledged that leadership position that Alpha Mead occupies in the sector and the association and reaffirmed some of the strategic initiatives that the body has embarked on to strengthen FM practice nationally. “I want to commend the resilience and impact of the organization on the FM industry. Also, I must state that my administration is driven by passion, and development in Facility Management is a marathon, not a sprint. It is for this reason that we are seeking to collaborate with Alpha Mead on our forthcoming silver jubilee celebration. We are also aware of the need to inject fresh blood into the association that will uphold the FM standards, so we launched a mentorship program last year that has been largely successful. The thinking here is by virtue of understudying experts in the space, there will be easier cross-generational transmission of global best practices,” Adebayo said.

On his part, the Managing Director of Alpha Mead Facilities, Wole Olufore maintained that collaboration between FM players being utmost at this time. He also charged that practitioners adopt green practices in business in line with the global trend.  “There is a pressing need for a more collaborative approach amongst stakeholders in the Facility Management sector. Shared knowledge and values will go a long way to improving the sector. We know what players are capable of individually and with collaboration clients and the industry as a whole will be better for it. But while this is being done, the need to align practices with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is pressing. The need to stem the effects on global warming on the planet is key and facilities managers have a big role to play as it pertains to how these built assets are made and how people interact with them daily”.

CSR-in-Action Partners IBWU Foundation, Launches Cleaner Communities Initiative

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s foremost sustainability consulting, advocacy and training enterprise, CSR-in-Action, has entered a partnership with It-Begins-With-U (IBWU) Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation based out of Canada, led by a volunteer team passionate about bringing about positive attitudinal change in Nigerian communities. The team are working on a collective passion to give back to the community through sustainable environmental project leading to the birth of a core initiative of the partnership, inclusive of Junior Chamber International (JCI), a not-for-profit international non-governmental organization of young people between 18 and 40 years old, the Cleaner Communities Initiative (CCI).

The Cleaner Communities Initiative is aimed at driving cleaner neighbourhoods through encouraging individual acts of humanity. The initiative will run for 12 months during which participants embark upon and complete community cleaning exercises of their choice, and upload before and after videos of two minutes or less, in order to stand a chance of winning N100,000 per month. The Cleaner Communities Initiative aligns with Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is centered on sanitation, a green environment and healthy living for longevity of life. Goal 6 has particularly been adopted by Nigeria for national development.

Speaking on the partnership, Bekeme Masade-Olowola, Chief Executive, CSR-in-Action, stated that “We chose to partner with IBWU because we share the common vision that leadership is driven by citizens and CSR-in-Action is constantly pursuing innovative ways of positively influencing the values of the wider grassroots community in Nigeria.” As a sustainability consulting and advocacy company, we are keen on enhancing sustainable values and habits that contribute to the development of the country. 

Mr. Michael Emeka Dibua, the Board Chair of IBWU, explained that the Cleaner Community Initiative is aimedat “ridding our communities, throughout Nigeria, of filth, by pushing for the return of simple, cleaner habits, and the removal and disposal of waste, especially as we are aware of the effects dirt and pollution has on our lives, climate, health, wellbeing and so much more.” 

IBWU is a not-for-profit organization whose mission and values are inspired by simple acts of charity and by working in partnerships with communities as participants and encouraging social and community responsibility, beginning with each individual.  IBWU ascribes to a simple universal concept to love and respect human dignity and to be able to improve human dignity through simple but impactful poverty alleviation programs.

The CSR-in-Action Group is a conglomerate of three sustainability-driven businesses: Consulting, Training and Advocacy. Its mission is to redefine the sustainability terrain in Africa, through collaborative strategies with stakeholders aimed at attaining higher levels of corporate governance, workplace and sustainable philanthropy. The organisation has a clear vision to propel collective transformation in Africa by promoting responsibility amongst all levels in their day-to-day individual or business activities.

Nigerian Nutritionist Unveils Health-Focussed Children’s Cereal, Nutraboom

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Health food production company, Nutraboom, has unveiled a new set of product packaging for its range of children’s health-focussed nutritious products as part of the company’s ongoing rebranding project.

Founded in 2019 by Oluwakemi Laniyan, Nutraboom aims to be the leading provider of child nutrition in Africa with wholesome. According to Laniyan, the firm started as a result of the exclusive breastfeeding of her daughter, Annabelle for six months, which prompted her to research a sustainable way of feeding.

“As a Nutritionist, I came up with a natural instant cereal using local ingredients, introducing the cereal to my baby and she grew solely on the meals. Later, I began to sell to young mothers like me who needed the same help with their children,” Laniyan said.

“Nutraboom contains all the essential nutrient needed for child development between six months and five years of age as recommended by the WHO,” she added.

The rebranding is part of a brand support services project provided by foremost Nigerian brand strategy firm, Zenera Consulting as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.

The Nutritionist was a winner in a special entrepreneurship competition at the ‘Made for More’ women’s conference organised by The Jewels, an organisation founded by Bolarinwa Akinlabi with the vision of empowering women. This qualified her for a wholesome pro-bono rebranding service by Zenera Consulting. The partnership between Zenera and Nutraboom involves the delivery of new product package, website, and extensive brand awareness amongst other initiatives for the food company.

“Our commitment to promoting inclusive enterprise has become a vital component of our business philosophy, and this has stimulated our partnership with Nutraboom, a female-led brand,” said Meka Olowola, Zenera’s Managing Partner.

According to Olowola, the encouragement and empowerment of female entrepreneurship in Nigeria have significant positive impact on the country’s economy as women make up around half of the country’s population. Furthermore, women have been proven to be better leaders and managers in certain situations. For instance, some of the countries led by women fared better in handling the covid-19 pandemic. These include New Zealand under Jacinda Adern, Finland under Sanna Marin, and Taiwan under Tsaing Wein.

“We believe having worked to help develop her brand, Kemi Laniyan is in a better position to monetize her full potentials and we hope this will encourage other women to become amazons in their respective fields,” he added.

The Nutraboom brand focuses on improving consumers’ health through nutrition. The company uses natural food materials to develop nutritious products for the nourishment of both children and adults. Nutraboom’s current product series is in four separate flavours made from different combination of popular nutritious fruits, grains and vegetables. The Nutraboom flavours include the Foodies Cereal made of sweet potatoes and carrots, Yummy Tummy made of bananas, Tummy Wize made of vegetables and nut cereal, and Baby Brainy made of oats and carrot meal.

I am sorry, I was unable to call you back as I went on a long call immediately after and figured you would still be in your meeting by the time I came back.

Considering the status of the brand and the significance of the event under consideration, I suggest you limit initiatives to internal celebrations, a media launch of the anniversary logo, and introduction of the new subsidiary MDs.

International Day of Education 2022: Issues, Policies and Achievements

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Lois Isemede, Program Manager, Education for Pistis Foundation

24th January is celebrated across the world as the International Day for Education. It is a day that aims to celebrate the role education plays in peace and development. This date was adopted in 2018 at the United Nations General Assembly.

International days are celebrated to ‘educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity’ (UN, 2022).

Issues of concern

Education is at the heart of individual, national and global development. Quality education, one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is also the pathway towards achieving all the other goals (poverty eradication, gender equality, innovation and infrastructure and many more).

The right to education is a universal right of every child, however, ‘today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.’ (UNESCO, 2022).

In Nigeria, only 61% of primary school aged children attend schools and the percentage is lower in the north. It is worse for the female child in the North of the country where only about 40% are registered in school. Education is technically compulsory in the country but close to half of the primary school aged children in Nigeria are not being educated. The number of unschooled children increase at Secondary and Tertiary levels (UNICEF, 2022)

The first area of concern relates to the number of out of school children but it does not end there. The quality of education available is another issue and it spans across a number of areas including but not limited to:

  • The infrastructure and learning environment,
  • The relevance and adaptability of the curriculum
  • The quality of educators and the teacher training process

Mobilize Political Will

Many of the issues raised need to be worked on from a political strategy level. Government has a major role to play in the allocation of resources that are earmarked for the Ministry of Education. There is also the need for government to address issues surrounding the current curriculum being used in schools at all levels. How relevant are they? Do they allow for the average Nigerian graduate to compete internationally? Can they adequately prepare and equip these students for solving the problems of the future? These are pertinent questions that need to be addressed.

The quality of our teacher training colleges and the entry requirements of student teachers need to be carefully evaluated. The cut-off point to study education in the University ought to be reviewed as well.

Are education courses a dumping ground for students who could not study their preferred course, or is it a course that attracts the brightest and the best?

While infrastructure is important, if the issues above are not first addressed, a wonderfully set up computer lab or library will be redundant and will not be used to its fullest capacity.

Finally, the standardization of the educational industry is of concern. Schools can be set up overnight in people’s backyards, unlicensed teachers are often employed to teach and each school may determine which curriculum they prefer to implement. While this allows for the bar to be set high in some instances, in others, it also allows for the bar to be set very low. The role of implementation of policies and standardization of procedures need to be implemented across board.

Looking towards the 2023 elections, it stands to reason that these discussions need to hold between key stakeholders and players in the education space. Political aspirants also need to be interrogated on their roadmap/plans to uplift education in Nigeria and eventually held accountable. If education is not a key driving force in any campaign, it is already evident that other aspects of nation building will be short-lived.

Celebration of achievements

There are however a number of individuals and organizations that are involved in making a difference in the education space in Nigeria. They recognize that Government cannot do it alone and are investing in the best possible way to address some of the aforementioned issues.

For example, there are a number of schools that provide 21st century infrastructure that is at par with international standards and institutions. Some schools also adapt their curriculum to ensure sustained relevance, which can prepare their students for future career paths. It is however safe to say that despite the issues of concerns, quality education can be achieved in Nigeria, howbeit at a cost.

There are schools that also offer quotas for scholarship students, high achieving students whose parents may be unable to afford the fees at these private institutions. By offering scholarships and discounts, these institutions are playing a small part in reducing the number of unschooled children and also mitigating the issue of poor quality in education.

Individuals are not left out in their contributions to improving education in the country. It is a known fact that the impact of the individual may not be as noticeable but it should be celebrated. Many families adopt children of relatives, domestic staff or partner with organizations to cover the fees of one or two children. Each little drop adds up to build the ocean we so desire.

Finally, there are organizations like Pistis Foundation (PF), that aim to serve as a hub to allow all these parties come together to do their part whilst also contributing their quota. Many NGOs provide scholarship programs, paying fees and placing students in schools. At PF, we do this in partnership with schools who also want to make an impact in the lives of these children. We are particular about the choice of schools where students are placed, to ensure they are places where they will achieve quality education. We currently have 50 beneficiaries across 14 private schools, (7 of which are key partner schools), where we have ensured that the facilities, curriculum and teaching standards give the students a good platform to soar.

Pistis Foundation also runs a program called Teachers Excelling Network (TEN) which aims to provide quality teacher training and support the teachers in this network. 103 teachers were in attendance at the first training and about 155 teachers were supported with airtime in 2021. We recognize the needs of the average teacher and efforts are being made to strategically address them holistically.

We also understand that formal and informal education are both valid options for children depending on their abilities and interests. Skills acquisition classes are being provided to train young students/ children who will learn some musical instruments, chess, creative writing, robotics, et al. This year, plans are underway to extend skill acquisition opportunities to mothers with at least two children who genuinely need economic empowerment. All programs provided by Pistis Foundation are to support the economically challenged and to provide empowerment opportunities for them.

Call to action

In celebration of International Day of Education, we can all play a part towards improving the state of education in our country. Here are a few ways this can be done.

Educators can create a few slots in their schools that are reserved for out of school children. Many of these children are around us if we look more carefully. If there is one slot per class in a school, the parents in that class can be encouraged to partner with the school by contributing to cover the books and uniforms for the child while the school covers the tuition. This partnership can help everyone pay it forward.

Individuals can look in their circles. Your domestic staff have kids who aren’t’ able to attend standard/ good schools. Can you help? What we often forget is that these uneducated children around us pose as potential threats to our children in the future if we do nothing. By saving them, we are also saving our children.

Everyone can partner with organizations like Pistis Foundation to support the work being done, donating or volunteering to help the work go further. The plan is to double the number of students being educated this year. Please contact education@pistisfoundation.org or partnerships@pistisfoundation.org for more information.

Isemede writes from Lagos.

Victoria Crest Homes: Leadership Through Innovation in Real Estate (Opinion)

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Kennedy Okonkwo, Founder, Victoria Crest Homes (VCH)

In this article, Peter Sunday explores new global trends in residential housing development and how Victoria Crest Homes, a Nigerian real estate brand is rising to these changes with innovations.

The concept of housing is completely changing almost at the speed of light. The real estate industry has recently been impacted in ways never seen before by the demands of increasingly decerning buyers. Responsive developers are adapting to these changes and turning them to opportunities through innovation around energy efficiency, renewable energy, technologically enhanced features, and community-oriented initiatives.

One of such real estate firms in Nigeria blazing the trail is Victoria Crest Homes (VCH), a respected property brand with a vision to make luxury living affordable. VCH is one of the major brands in the Nedcomoaks group which has diverse successful businesses leading in various sectors including property development, facilities management, and technology. 2021 has been a tremendous year for this property development pacesetter, culminating in a series of innovative and altruistic initiatives that indicate its focus on positioning itself as a sustainable corporate brand. It was no surprise therefore, that the Guardian newspaper listed Dr Kennedy Okonkwo as one of ‘the most Impactful and Award-winning CEOs that contributed to Nigeria’s GDP growth in 2021’.

Known already for its Victoria series of residential estates amongst many others in the Lekki area, VCH recently extended its signature quality housing solutions to the Sangotedo – Eleko axis of Lagos with the development of eco-friendly and renewable energy-powered mega estates such as Citadel Views behind Lagos Business School at Sangotedo and Capital Gardens at Idera, two minutes away from Lakowe Golf Course.

Known as the ‘Lagos Sustainable City’, the masterplan of Capital Gardens Estate includes a technology hub and an artificial lake in addition to the deployment of solar energy amidst other cutting-edge features. Citadel Views Estate on the other hand, is a technology-driven state of the arts sustainable housing project, with features such as solar energy solutions, gas-powered generators, biogas sewage treatment system, stealth security and waste recycling systems. Through these novel offerings, VCH is blazing the trail in promoting the idea that homes should enhance their residents’ capacity to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity.

Founded by Dr Kennedy Okonkwo in 1991, VCH was born under a humble beginning, but with a great dream to make aspirational living affordable to many. Two decades after, the firm has delivered thousands of homes to help in reducing the huge housing deficit in Lagos, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Through the hardships of his early years, Okonkwo understood the role of access to appropriate shelter in stimulating prosperity and the importance of community support mechanisms in coping with social problems.

“We have always wanted our communities to be more than just a place to live but a place to experience and explore, a place to connect, share and make memories,” said Okonkwo.

Today, he is fulfilling his vision of building a better, more comfortable world through his Nedcomoaks conglomerate, driven by the belief that everyone deserves a befitting space to call home. Through innovative housing solutions, Nedcomoaks and its subsidiaries including VCH, are constantly pushing the boundaries in building modern and exquisitely comfortable homes that are sustainable and affordable for majority of Nigerians.

According to the property tycoon, right from the outset, he and his team worked hard to provide high quality but affordable housing solutions to various demographics, promoting sustainable living environments that deliver overall improved quality of life for residents and host communities. This vision propelled the firm from single housing unit developers in 1991 to its status today as one of Africa’s leading housing solutions providers, with wholesome housing estates offering a combination of affordable constant energy, tranquillity and sophisticated health promoting facilities.

L-R: Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Housing Mrs Toke Benson Awoyinka; the Elegushi of Ikate land, Oba Saheed Elegushi; CEO of Victoria Crest Homes, Mrs Ichechi-Okonkwo; and Founder, Dr-Kennedy-Okonkwo at the Launch of the Capital Gardens Estate in October 2021

Furthermore, in its quest to foster unity and promote fitness amongst its numerous estate residents, VCH started an initiative quite unique amongst real estate firms in Nigeria; it organises a massive annual sports tournament that can be likened to the Olympics for residents of all its estates. Dubbed ‘The Victoria Crest Olympiad’, the tournament consisted of various competitive games including table tennis, board games, athletics, and football amongst many others. Through the games, neighbours break down social boundaries to connect freely in the spirit of camaraderie. The firm also extends the game to its host communities through the Victoria Crest Community Cup with cash prizes awarded to winners.

According to Okonkwo, the Olympiad underscores the brand’s emphasis on not just building homes for people, but also building communities; environments where people can feel a sense of belonging.

While building communities, VCH is also working towards fostering inclusion in the African real estate market. This prompted the firm to launch the Women in Real Estate and Development (WIRED) Africa Network, an organisation aimed at galvanizing women to collectively make their voices heard and contribute towards a more successful and sustainable real estate industry.

Furthermore, the firm has begun to invest heavily in developing human capacity for Africa’s growing real estate industry. This has led to the creation of the Millennial African Property Developers (MAPD) Network Hub, an initiative dedicated to providing mentoring support for the development of future leaders in the African real estate industry.  

Initiatives like the Victoria Crest Olympiad, WIRED and MAPD indicate the increasing importance of sustainability in real estate development in the post-Covid-19 era. According to the PwC report on emerging real estate trends in 2022, 82% of respondents in its recent survey say they consider Environmental, Social and Governance elements in making operational and investment decisions.

Through its sustainability-oriented initiatives and innovative housing solutions, Victoria Crest Homes has provided us a glimpse of how a real estate company can become positively immersed in the lives of its clients, converting them to not just advocates, but co-owners of the brand.

Peter writes from Lagos

Book Review: Running Against Time; A Time to Re-think

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Dr Yusuf’s Running Against Time; A Time to Re-think, is an exploratory and incisive narrative, which provides fecund framework for interrogating the verisimilitude of long held beliefs, conventions, and practices, with the aim of expanding the frontiers of knowledge.

The book delves deep into the core of society’s popular convictions, with the aim of challenging a wrenching re-orientation which will establish a higher intellectual order devoid of parochial theories.

The book launches with the admonition on the importance of “learning to think”. This might come across as a no brainer, especially when you consider the proposition made by the Greek philosopher Descartes, where he describes man as a “thinking being”. This presupposes that man is already pre-programmed to think, and hence may not need any module to teach him on the basis for thinking. Thinking is therefore seen as a natural phenomenon of human existence.

However, some scholars believe that thinking is the most difficult human activity- indeed the singular most important activity! Building on this block, Dr Yusuf tries to establish a course for a critical level of thinking that will help society in navigating and sifting through junks from the enormous mass of information across social media, electronic media, and even words-of-mouth.

While the book frowns at the idea of “education for degree sake” without substantial knowledge to probe traditions, it insists on proper education, as a recipe for being able to access the right information, and discern between right and false information. 

The book also implores its readers to constantly rethink! Rethinking for Dr Yusuf has to do with “aligning our values and imperatives with our realities”. This presupposes moving away from traditional ways of practice which imposes limitation for the course of development and progress. The book cites examples of countries in Europe and Middle East, whom through critical re-thinking of their societal and developmental journey, has built a resilient society, restrictive of retrogressivBe precepts and belief, and receptive to fertile ideas, capable of leap frogging the next phase of growth and development for their society. Dr Yusuf is vexed by the fact that Africa, and indeed the entire world consumes information crafted by the West, with the hope that such information holds the desired development and freedom. But in reality, such information only holds enigmatic symbolism, which only fascinates mass attention, and does nothing more than advance the interest of the producers of such information.    

ITF Ikorodu Area Office Celebrates First Anniversary, Appreciates Corporate Organizations’ Commitment

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Promoting Human Capital Development L-R: Head of Administration, Ikorodu Area Office of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Mrs. Roinot Adeleke; Head of Training, Mr. Kola Yusuf; Area Manager, Mrs. Bolanle Ajibade; and staff member, Mrs. Esther Reuben, at the area office's first year anniversary and first stakeholder’s interactive forum, held recently in Ikorodu, Lagos

The Director-General/Chief Executive of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Sir Joseph N. Ari, KSM, KSS has commended the Ikorodu Area Office of the agency, for exceeding its one-year target even as it marks its first Interactive forum and first anniversary. The agency also expressed appreciation for corporate organizations in the area that had contributed to its successes over the past one year.

The ITF is the apex manpower training and development organization in Nigeria. It is saddled with the responsibility to provide, promote and encourage the acquisition of skills so as to build a pool of indigenous trained manpower sufficient to meet the need of the public and private sectors of the nation’s economy. The ITF provides direct training, vocational and apprentice training, research and consultancy services, and also administers the Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES).

Speaking during the Area Office’s first interactive forum with stakeholders, held recently at its office in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Sir Ari, who was represented by the Director of Field Services, Mrs. Adesola Taiwo, applauded the great strides of the Ikorodu team under the leadership of the Area Manager, Mrs Bolanle Ajibade.

“Based on the successes recorded so far by the team ably led by the Area Manager, Mrs. Bolanle Ajibade, I can authoritatively say that the creation of Ikorodu area office was never regretted.”

The ITF boss remarked that the year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Industrial Training Fund as the apex manpower development agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 “Ladies and gentlemen, the implication of this is that for the past 50 years, the ITF, with the support of her numerous clients and stakeholders, has been making significant contributions to the nation’s economic development, resulting as you are aware, in many remarkable and ground-breaking accomplishments from which several organisations have benefited.”

Promoting Human Capital Development
L-R: Area Manager, Industrial Training Fun
d (ITF), Victoria Island, Mallam Aminu Labo; Guest Speaker, Mrs. Mary Katugwa; Area Manager, ITF Ikeja, Mr. Victor Awoniyi; Area Manager, ITF Ikorodu, Mrs. Bolanle Ajibade; and Training Manager, Industrial Skills Training Centre (ISTC), Mr. James Fanope at the Ikorodu Area Office’s first year anniversary and first stakeholder’s interactive forum, held recently in Ikorodu, Lago

He also appealed to organisations who do not pay their training contributions, or who delay in making their payments promptly as required, or those who doctor their records so as to short pay the Fund, to ‘turn a new leaf’.

 “I want to encourage corporate organisations to take advantage of the numerous training programmes and consultancy services offered by the Fund to transform and reposition their businesses for peak performance,” he added.

Tagged, ‘ITF Mandate Actualization: The Role of the Organized Private Sector (OPS)’, and presented by Mrs. Mary Oluranti Katugwa, the Interactive Forum is an annual platform that offers ITF stakeholders and partners the opportunity to come together and deliberate on emerging issues and trends in the learning and development industry.

“I am particularly grateful to the Director General/Chief Executive Sir Joseph N. Ari, KSM KSS, for believing in my team and I to pioneer Ikorodu Area Office,” the Area Manager, Mrs Bolanle Ajibade, said.

She also expressed her appreciation to the corporate organisations within the area, which have encouraged the agency by paying their Training Contributions promptly and inviting the agency to implement training programs.

“Thank you for contributing to the Nation’s Human Resource Development.,” she added.

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