Renminbi: Nigeria’s New International Trade Currency

It is no longer news that Nigeria has entered into a bilateral agreement to swap currencies with China for international trade purposes. In this piece, I intend to introduce you to the Chinese currency, the Renminbi.

Renminbi (RMB) is the official currency of the Chinese. Renminbi literally means, ‘people’s currency’. The Yuan, often used loosely as China’s currency is actually the primary unit of the renminbi. The relationship between renminbi and yuan is similar to the relationship between Britain’s Sterling and pound, the former being the official name of the currency and the latter being its primary unit. Other units of renminbi are the jiao and the fen mathematically represented below as:

1 yuan=10 jiao

1 jiao=10 fen

1 yuan=100 fen

The People’s Bank of China, China’s monetary authority issues and regulates the supply of renminbi. On October 1, 2016, the currency was included in the IMF’s special drawing rights basket making it a global reserve currency for the first time.

RMB is legal tender only in mainland China, but not in its Special Administrative Regions of Macau and Hong Kong. Even though both of these offshore China regions do not transact with the currency, it can be easily exchanged for the Hong Kong dollar and the Macanese Pataca. However, individuals and businesses can keep bank accounts denominated in RMB in both regions.

To be continued…

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The Measure of Intelligence, Redeeming Nigeria from Moral Precipice and the place of Public Policy

Intelligence is often measured by way of standardized IQ tests which in a sense, is parochial. I bring up this argument in my recently published book, The Code: A Simple Story about Raising Great Women. And while I broach the subject of how we measure intelligence from a broader perspective; as a means truly understanding the strengths of our girl-children in order to harness it, my underlying premise aligns with the popular quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein which says:

‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’

How true! In my book, I devote a chapter to the eight original intelligences as described by Harvard professor, Howard Gardener in his book, Frames of Mind, adapting them to parenting; how moms and dads share the responsibility of understanding which of the eight their children have high quotients in, as means of helping these kids develop until they reach some sort of genius.

The eight intelligences, more popularly referred to as the Theory of Multiple Intelligence include;
· Linguistic intelligence (word smartness)

· Logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reasoning smartness)

· Spatial intelligence (picture smartness)

· Bodily-Kinaesthetic intelligence (body smartness)

· Musical intelligence (music smartness)

· Interpersonal intelligence (people smartness)

· Intrapersonal intelligence (self-smartness)

· Naturalist intelligence (nature smartness)

If you look very closely at the quick definitions I put in parenthesis beside the eight intelligences, you may agree with me as to the veracity of my argument. Simply put, people are smart differently and standardizing the measure of intelligence in for of IQ tests is nothing short of an anomaly. We just aren’t smart the same way. Some people are word smart and others are music smart. Even music maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti alluded in part to this phenomenon when he said;

‘Book sense different from belle sense’

That said, I have been studying a rare form of intelligence, called Moral Intelligence; a smartness of right from wrong. And while this article makes no judgement as to political views or religious leanings, a recent piece of legislation regarding granting amnesty to economic saboteurs in Nigeria perturbed me into writing this piece and raises the question as to whether there are morally intelligent people in the country’s political leadership.

As with all intelligences, I hypothesize that moral intelligence is both inborn and can be honed. And that in creating a society that is morally intelligent, the government, by way of its education and national orientation policies can emphasize moral instruction as a means of improving the overall moral intelligence average of the country.
Without doubt, some people are morally smarter, without the input of any religious or moral instruction while others aren’t. We have all come across the truthful hedonist or the degenerate religious leader who fails to practice what he preaches. The multi-dimenionslism of human beings speak to one thing: People can in character lead double live based on their moral smartness. And so policy makers, in public and private sectors, have the onus of looking for ways of measuring and funneling  the moral intelligent  into leadership…by way of robust human capital development policy.

Stories of My Fatherland: A Thing or Two About Lagos Once Upon A Time

Victoria-Island-Lagos

Did you know that Lagos was at one time a colony of the Benin Kingdom ruled by Edo viceroys?  Conquered by Oba Orhogbua, son of Oba Esigie sometime in the sixteenth century, Lagos was originally called “Eko” by the Binis meaning, war camp. History has it that the Bini Invasion of Dahomey and modern-day Togo (in today’s Benin Republic) were largely planned and executed from Eko.

Oba Orhogbua understood the importance of controlling the coastline from Lagos all the way to Accra, having undergone training at a naval school in Portugal. Albeit, his primal motivations were continuing with his father’s (Oba Esigie) kingdom expansion plans while maintaining a grip on their very viable trade in slaves, oil palm and gun powder.

Oba Orhogbua commenced his campaign sometime around 1582; laying siege and taking Lagos. He however returned home almost immediately due to a falsely rumoured mutiny back in Benin, sending his grandson, Prince Esikpa, the first Eleko of Eko to administer the colony.

Beginning with Esikpa, bodies of the first few Elekos were returned to Benin for burial as were the Chiefs of Badagry.

Shortly after the amalgamation of Nigeria, an Eleko crisis erupted in Lagos with the indigenes demanding a restoration of their traditional monarchy prior to Bini annexation. In response, Oba Eweka II sent Iyase Obaseki and Obazuaye in 1915 to mediate between the Eleko and the indigenes, and to explain that there was a direct blood link between the royal families of Lagos and Benin.

Till date, both royal families of Lagos and Benin relate very closely. The performances of rites such as the coronation of new Obas in Lagos are not without the consultation the Benin establishment. And until about 200 years ago, the Binis actually determined who was installed as Oba in Lagos. History also has it that the heads of dead Obas of Lagos were taken to Benin for proper burial as far back as the 1750s.

Eko was later named Lagos being a derivative of the original Lago di Kuramo given by Portuguese explorers in the seventh century.

Places like Iga-Idugaran(which translates to mean , pepper farm in Bini Language) where the palace of the Oba of Lagos is situated; Idumota, Idumagbo and Eleko Beach in Badagry  all point to a time once, when Lagos was  vassal to Benin.

Albeit, once upon a time.

Interventionist Leadership And Followership

                                                      ae

Our leaders will always be a reflection of us and vice versa. Nigerian leadership isn’t Chinese. And the Nigerian president is not from Sao Tome and Principe. We-Nigerians- are our own albatross.

And until there is breakage of the cycle of  the quality of leadership and followership in Nigeria, our country will stay the same, year after year.

It always bothers me that music legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang about things like epileptic electric power supply; police corruption and brutality; and mindless religious followership as far back as the 70s. And today, our country still faces these problems with no solution in sight.

The need for interventionist leadership and followership is no longer an option; a leadership and followership that queries status quo and is willing to embrace new ways for which we can solve our perennial challenges. The ereason is simple: without a culture of questioning, countries stay the same as has been the case of Nigeria.

Insanity, in the words of the acclaimed genius, Albert Einstein is defined as…

….doing the same thing over and over and expecting  different results.

Our country will continue to face the same challenges if  we don’t do things differently which should leave you wondering how insane that can be.

For Working Class Mothers with Daughters Only!

Working Mom

 

If there was anyone at Ephraim Bank who was a self-starter, it was Kay, who had just returned to work from having her third child.  She was focused, worked smart, and would attain the recognition of management in no time. After all, that was her plan. Kay was an attractive, ambitious young woman, a mother of three girls, aiming to win at home and work.

Still, sometimes it felt as if the harder she tried to win at both, the further away victory crept. For such a devoted lady, it seemed like she was putting in so much effort with little progress.

Work at the bank was ever so engaging; it often seemed as though the clocks ticked faster than the actual time. Before she knew it, it was almost always Six o’clock—time to rush over to the daycare to pick Karen, Kathy and little Kristen. A N3000 fine piled every Fifteen minutes after the Seven o’clock pick-up deadline at the daycare. And on a day like today—a Friday, with only a working day left before the Credit Committee Meeting on Tuesday, Kay had a critical deadline to meet. A deadline she could give an arm and a leg for.

In the ebbing hours of that afternoon, when gears shift and people usually would start to look towards going clubbing or supping with loved ones, Kay decided it was time to call in a favour, so she placed a few calls on the intercom. Almost everybody on the fifth floor owed her something. But the conversations weren’t going well until the one with Angela.

“Angie, tell me you’ll do this for me…”Kay took a deep breath to keep the forlornness out of her voice. “I need you to help me finish a Credit Review Memo for Sierra Firma Gas and forward it to Credit Admin tonight so that it gets scheduled for deliberation at next week’s Credit Committee Meeting…I have to rush off to pick the girls at six.”

Angela replied. “It’s Friday, Kay, and Vince is taking me to a movie tonight…you of all know there aren’t so many good guys out there…so the last thing I want to do is let an eligible bachelor down, girl”

“I know dear, and I also know you’ll be done with the write-up in a flash. C’mon, girl, you know you owe me one! You know you do! Remember who saved you on the Lion Batteries account.”

Angela sighed. “Alright, you have me on this one. Send it to my mail box …”

Kay’s eyes lit up. “Wow! Thanks Angie…I will email the much I have written to you right away…check your mail box in a sec. I knew I could count on you.”

“You are welcome, Kay.”

Kay clicked off the speaker button on her table-top phone and heaved a huge sigh of relief. She was trying to kill two birds with one stone, and for the moment, she was succeeding—on one hand, she needed to get the Sierra Firma Gas $2million Export Finance facility request approved which would translate to surpassing her annual risk asset quota and of course, a fatter year-end bonus.

On the other hand, she had solved a nagging mothering issue which had now been brewing for weeks since the birth of Kristen. Her husband, Joseph had stepped up his “stay-at-home mom” proposition, urging Kay to “find a balance or quit her job.” It bothered Kay that she’d have to sacrifice one for the other at some point—home or work—but not today.

“Kay? Are you okay?” a voice asked, snatching her from her reverie. Kay looked up into the concerned face of her colleague, Rebecca Greene. Rebecca or Becky as she was fondly called was a well-meaning, somewhat nosy, overly kind person, which was exactly why Kay doubted she’d survive in a competitive environment like the Emerging Conglomerates department, where they both worked.

“Yeah” she said.

“So are you done with the Sierra Firma Gas memo? When are you shutting down for the day to go get your girls?”

Kay sighed. “Soon my dear”

“I just wonder how you “super-moms” do it sometimes…I mean, balance work with family?”

Kay pretended not to hear Becky’s last question, and clicked the “enter” button on her keyboard before looking up.

“Sorry Rebecca, I needed to send that email,” Kay said, with a funny looking smirk on her face. “What was the question again?”

“Oh never mind, Kay” retorted Becky, sounding offended.

To make matters worse, Kay’s odd smirk evolved into a confident grin, with her full attention on her monitor, apparently waiting for a read receipt. As Becky walked back to her desk, Kay mouthed. “Finally”

Moments later she leaped up and walked over to Rebecca’s desk. “Hey Becky”

She looked up.

“Sorry. I needed to send out the credit write-up and be sure it got to the recipient before I packed up for the day. Sometimes balancing work and home is as difficult as it gets—an arduous juggle. Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

Becky smiled. “Apology accepted”

“Speaking of balance, do you remember the family consultant Rowena mentioned at last month’s team building retreat?  Maybe, it is even time I consulted with her…She called her the counsellor or something?”

Becky smiled. “…Hypatia. The Chaperon”

Kay snapped her fingers. “That’s it! That’s the woman.”

“What’s her last name?”

Becky frowned. “I don’t think…” And then, she shrugged.

“No, I doubt I’ve ever heard it mentioned. Everyone calls her Chaperon or just Hypatia. Why? You really want to visit with her? I hear she’ll be speaking at the Civic Centre in a month or so.”

“Yeah…Perhaps”, Kay replied, but was dismissive about some lecture happening next month. She was interested in one thing—proving to Joseph that she could juggle banking with raising confident daughters who would turn out well in every sense.

“I was thinking this woman must be very expensive right? Charges a fortune in consulting fees, works for high profile clients? But there is no harm in finding out what her hourly rates are. Any idea how I can reach her office by phone?

Becky looked at Kay as if she were proposing to wrestle an elephant. “You are just going to call her over the phone?”

Kay shrugged. “Why not”

Becky shook her head. “I have no idea how to contact her. I think you should ask Rowena.”

As Kay headed back to her desk, she wondered how Rowena had managed to survive this long at Ephraim. Despite the corporate shenanigans, she never seemed to have any struggles. Yet Rowena had the enclosed corner office, while Kay, Rebecca and a score of others shared the open space on the fifth floor occupied by the Emerging Conglomerates department. Some said Rowena had risen so quickly because banking had been so good in those days. Others said she’d earned it, opening some of the largest accounts that had kept Ephraim above the fray of collapse that had rocked the banking industry in the mid-2000s.

According to office rumours, Rowena’s father had invested large sums in the bank when it started in the early nineties, and management kept her on purely out of loyalty. There were also whispers about Rowena having single-handedly put her son and daughter through school—at the Imperial College, London—after losing her husband in the EAS Airline plane crash of 2002.

Kay didn’t believe in the rumours. She was pretty sure that it wasn’t Rowena’s father’s money that had bought her a seemingly sterling career at Ephraim. But it was equally difficult to picture her as someone who laboured for her position. Rowena didn’t talk much with colleagues; she listened a whole lot and more often, dressed like a secondary school principal rather than the chic corporate Brahmin that she was. With her laissez-faire, sultry disposition, her long, digressive conversations with customers (conversations that seemed to touch on everything on the globe) and her irregular extended vacations, Rowena seemed like a member of a lost race of old generation bankers; the ones who were more conversant with the use of ledgers than today’s ‘complicated’ banking software. Kay too, thought it a curious case that Rowena was a Senior Vice President in Africa’s third largest bank—and yet, hardly ever perturbed.

Kay stopped at Rowena’s open door and knocked politely.

“Come in Kay,” she replied.

“So you want to call right now and try to get an appointment to see Hypatia herself?” Rowena leafed carefully through her large card holder, found the immaculate card she was searching for and then handed it to Kay. She watched as Kay took the card and punched in the numbers on her mobile phone immediately.

“…On a Friday at 5.30?” Kay smiled, “Yes ma’am, I am calling right away…better now than never.”

Rowena nodded. “One thing I have to say about you, Kay, you’ve got the do-it-now attitude and I admire that.”

Rowena got up to grab a drink from her little fridge as she talked. “If there’s anyone on this floor who’s more likely to thrive with the new changes in our professional terrain, it’s you.

Kay was touched. “Thanks, Rowena.” She headed back to her desk.

From behind her, Rowena called out, “Don’t thank me yet.”

After the first ring, Kay was greeted by an animated female voice that identified herself as Doris. Kay introduced herself, told her she needed to see the Chaperon, and then readied herself to stave off Doris’s secretarial stonewalling. Instead, she surprised her by saying, “Sure, she can meet with you. Can you come tomorrow morning?”

“…To—morrow?” Kay stuttered.

“…On a Saturday?”

“Yes, if that works with you. Is Nine o’clock too early?”

Kay was stunned. “Don’t …ah, don’t you need to confirm with her first?”

“Oh no” came her animated reply. “Tomorrow morning will be fine.”

There was a brief silence. Kay was almost certain she’d been mistaken for someone else. Someone this Hypatia character actually knew.

“…Ma’am?” She finally mustered out. “You, ah, you know this is my first meeting with her, right?”

“Yes I do,” she replied with a chuckle. “You’ve heard about her Cryptic Code of Mothering Daughters for Working Class Women, and you want to learn about it.”

“Well, exactly, more or less,” Kay replied, unsure whether she was about to bite more than she could chew. Cryptic Code of Mothering? The woman was willing to divulge her Cryptic Code? She could hardly believe her ears, and her good fortune.

“She’ll meet with you one time,” continued Doris.

“After that, if you agree to her terms, she’ll want to set up follow-up meetings to actually teach you the Code.”

“…Terms?” Kay became downcast. She was sure these “terms” would entail paying some money in consulting fees or making a pledge she couldn’t afford to Hypatia’s foundation. And even if she could, it might also mean committing time Kay certainly didn’t have. Was it even worth it to go further? Or should she find a tactful way to backtrack now?

“Of course,” she replied. “Oh, and what are her terms, again?

“You’ll have to hear that directly from the wise Old Lady herself.” She said with another chuckle.

Kay took down the address she gave her, voiced her thanks and clicked off her phone. In about fifteen hours or so, she was going to meet with—what had Doris called her?—the wise Old Lady.

And why had she chuckled when she said that. It was now twenty minutes past six when Kay dashed out of the office. She could at least etch out N3000 from her purse—and no more.