The Holder And Its Legal Variants

Introduction

Negotiable instruments are documents used in commercial and financial transactions to secure the payment of money. They entitle the holder to payment of the sum stated in the face of the document. A negotiable instrument is a proof of a right that is not tangible. It entitles the transferee to have a title superior to that of the transferor, provided he takes the instrument complete and regular on the face of it, before it is overdue, in good faith and for value. Types of negotiable instruments includes: Bills of exchange, cheques and promissory notes. The primary parties to a negotiable instrument include the drawer, drawee and the payee. The first transfer of an instrument from the drawer or maker to the first holder is not a negotiation but an issue.[1] This essay focuses and points to the different legal directions surrounding a holder. 

Who is a Holder?

A holder has been generally defined as ‘the payee or endorsee of a bill or note, which is in possession of it, or the bearer thereof.’[2]From this definition, it does not mean that a holder of bill payable to bearer cannot be called a holder. A bill payable to bearer is negotiated by mere delivery.

It is a necessary requirement that a holder must be in possession of an instrument. However, not everyone who is in possession of an instrument can constitute a holder. For example, a person who takes an order bill bearing a false endorsement cannot be a holder. This is because an act of forgery cannot confer good title.[3]

In Bank of the North ltd v. Alhaji Balayau[4]. it was held that whether or not a bank is a holder is not a matter of assumption. The fact must be averred and proved.  Where a thief negotiates an instrument which was originally genuinely made payable to bearer, he will confer a good title on a holder for value who took bonafide. To acquire the power to sue in his own name, the possessor of an instrument must be a holder.

Holder For Value

A holder for value is one who gives valuable consideration for a bill (which may be an antecedent debt), or who has lien thereon, or who claims through a holder for value. Section 27(2) of the Bills Exchange Act provides that ‘where value has at any time been given for a bill, the holder is deemed to be a holder for value as regards the acceptor and all parties to the Bill who are parties prior to such time’. This contradicts the principle that consideration must flow from the promisee.

In Diamond v. Graham[5], the court of appeal decided in favour of a party who held an instrument supported by value given by someone else. It was held that he could enforce payment against the drawer. A person who becomes a holder for value by virtue of a lien becomes a pledgee, who as a general rule may not sell or negotiate the instrument, the property in which still resides in the pledgor.

A pledge may be contrasted with a discounter. While a pledgee becomes a holder for value only to the extent of the debt, a discounter is a holder for value, to the extent of the full value of the bill.

Holder In Due Course

A holder in due course is someone who accepts a negotiable instrument in a value for value exchange without reason to doubt its legitimacy. A holder in due course acquires the right to make a claim for the instrument’s value against its originator and intermediate holders. Even if one of these parties passed the instrument in bad faith or fraudulent transaction, a holder in due course may retain the right to enforce it.[6]

According to Section 29(1) of the Bills of Exchange Acta holder in due course is a holder who has taken a bill, complete and regular on the face of it, under the following conditions;

  • That he becomes the holder of it before it was overdue, and without notice that it has been previously dishonoured.
  • That he took the bill in good faith and for value, and that as at the time that the bill was negotiated to him, he had no notice of any defect in the title of the person who negotiated it.[7]

Fora holder to be called a holder in due course, there are some requirements that must be fulfilled. The first of which is the instrument in question must be a bill, which must be complete and regular on the face of it.

Negotiation of such bill must take place and such negotiation will be effective if it was done before it becomes overdue. The holder must take it in good faith, without any notice of dishonour. The holder in due course must have himself given a consideration and not be aware or have notice of defect in title to the bill in question.[8]

A holder, whether for value or not, who derives his title to a bill through a holder in due course, and who is not himself a party to any fraud or illegality affecting it, has all the rights of that holder in due course, as regards the acceptor, and all parties to the bill, prior to the holder. A holder, who derives his title from a holder in due course, is precluded from enforcing an instrument affected by fraud or illegality, only if he was himself a party to it.[9]

However, a person need not necessarily fulfil all the requirement of section 29(1) to get a good title to an instrument. Where there has not been a prior irregularity, defect in title or equity, the holder of an instrument will invariably be the true owner of it. It is only where lack of title, defect in title or equities have existed that section 29 becomes important. Only by complying with it, will a holder be free from defects in title of prior parties and be, in fact the true owner.[10]

Having considered this, it is worthy of note to consider the rights and duties of a holder.

Rights and Duties of Holder

Basically, a holder whether for value or in due course, has some entitlements or benefits even though this may be limited in some cases.  The source of these empowerments could be linked to Section 38 of the Bills of Exchange Act.[11] These rights entitled to a holder are activated upon the fulfilment of some obligations stipulated in the Act. These rights (with their interpretations) as stated in Section 38 of the Act are enthused as follows:  

(a)   He may sue on the bill in his own name (whether as for value or in due course).

Possession of the bill is of the essence here. This subsection is not concerned to give a holder any right of action on the bill but merely entitling him to sue in his own name. In Stock Motor Ploughs Limited v. Forsyth[12], Harvey J. quipped thus: ‘whether the holder can sue or not in the sense of can he recover or not, depends on his title to the note and the facts known to him when he became the holder and this sub-section is not addressed to any question as that’.

(b)   Where he is a holder in due course, he holds the bill free from any defect of title of prior parties, as well as from mere personal defences available to prior parties among themselves, and may enforce payment against all parties liable on the bill.

This subsection accords a prima facie ‘undefeated title’ and a ‘true owner look’ to a holder in due course. From the basis of this, he has a perfect rejoinder to all persons liable on the bill. The holder of the bill has a cause of action against the drawer and not the drawee, unless in cases where the law expressly rules out the drawer of any liability.

(c)   Where his title is defective- (i) If he negotiates the bill to a holder in due course, that holder obtains a good and complete title to the bill, and (ii)  if he obtains payment of the bill the person who pays him in due course gets a valid discharge for the bill.

The first aspect of this subsection comes as a result of negotiability. In relation to a holder in due course it means that the bill has been transferred to him free from equities as a purchaser for value and without notice of any defect in title of which a holder in due course already has. The second aspect is crystal clear as it simply points out to a kind of ‘give me-give you’ principle. That is, something in exchange for another.

Having stated the rights provided, the duties by these rights are activated are provided for in the Bills of Exchange Act. The holder is to present the bill for acceptance or to negotiate it within a reasonable time (determined based on the nature of the bill, the usage of trade, and the facts of the particular case), in the absence of which the drawer and all endorsers are thereby discharged.[13]

The holder of a bill or anyone authorised to receive payment, has the duty to present it for payment, the absence of which the drawer and the endorsers are thereby discharged. To complement, the holder will be left hanging as he cannot make claim against anyone.[14]

In the case of a dishonoured bill whether by non-acceptance or by non-payment, the holder must give notice of the dishonour to the drawer and each endorser. Any drawer or endorser to whom such notice is not given is discharged[15].

The holder has the responsibility of noting it, if it is an inland bill or protesting if it is a foreign bill where it has been dishonoured for any reason[16].  

For a holder of a bill to relinquish or abandon his right under the bill, it must be done in writing. An oral agreement is not sufficient, let alone a waiver by conduct. The evidence must manifest that of the holder[17].

Conclusion 

This paper has discussed the idea hovering holder and its legal variants. The major light shown in this area is undoubtedly settled in the Bills of Exchange Act[18]. This paper tackles the nook and cranny by which a person can be a holder, most especially for value and in due course. The paper crowns it all by discussing the rights and duties entitled to a holder and points out where each rights and duties is applicable.

Basically, as given credence to in the said act[19], a holder is ‘the payee or endorsee of a bill or note, which is in possession of it, or the bearer thereof.’[20] This definition clearly indicates that a holder must be in possession of the instrument. However, not everyone who is in possession of an instrument can constitute a holder. A holder is essentially of two types. One can be a holder for value or a holder in due course.

A holder for value is one who gives valuable consideration for a bill (which may be an antecedent debt), or who has lien thereon, or who claims through a holder for value[21]. This explanation is clearly evident when linked to Section 27(2) of the Bills Exchange Act provides that ‘where value has at any time been given for a bill, the holder is deemed to be a holder for value as regards the acceptor and all parties to the Bill who are become parties prior to such time.’This obviously goes against the principle that ‘consideration must flow from the promisee.

A holder in due course is someone who accepts a negotiable instrument in a value for value exchange without reason to doubt its legitimacy. A holder in due course acquires the right to make a claim for the instrument’s value against its originator and intermediate holders. The Bills of Exchange Act provides conditions in which a person can be a holder in due course.[22] They are: (a) that he becomes the holder of it before it was overdue, and without notice that it has been previously dishonoured.(b) that he took the bill in good faith and for value and that as at the time that the bill was negotiated to him; he had no notice of any defect in the title of the person who negotiated it”.

However, being a holder in due course does not stop at that lane as the Act stipulated some requirement to be fulfilled which this paper stipulates.

The Bills of Exchange Act also provides for some rights (although may be limited) of a holder which is linked to Section 38 of the Act. However, these rights provided for are activated upon the fulfilment of some duties which is expected of a holder. (a) He may sue on the bill in his own name (whether as for value or in due course).(b) Where he is a holder in due course, he holds the bill free from any defect of title of prior parties, as well as from mere personal defences available to prior parties among themselves, and may enforce payment against all parties liable on the bill.(c) Where his title is defective- (i) If he negotiates the bill to a holder in due course, that holder obtains a good and complete title to the bill, and (ii)       if he obtains payment of the bill the person who pays him in due course gets a valid discharge for the bill.The duties expected from the holder pertain to presentment of bill for acceptance[23]; Notice of the dishonour to the drawer[24]; Responsibility of noting it, if it is an inland bill or protesting if it is a foreign bill where it has been dishonoured for any reason[25]

 

 

 

REFERENCES


[1]Section 2 Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004; Jones Ltd v. Waring & Gillow Ltd(1926) A.C 670.

[2]Section 2 Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[3]Section 24 Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 provides that

“subject to the provisions of this Act, where a signature on a bill is forged or placed thereon without the authority of the person whose signature it purports to be, the forged or unauthorised signature is wholly inoperative, and no right to retain the bill or to give a discharge therefore or to enforce payment thereof against any party thereto can be acquired through or under that signature, unless the party against whom it is sought to retain or enforce payment of the bill is precluded from setting up the forgery or want of authority:

Provided that nothing in this section shall affect the ratification of an authorised signature not amounting to a forgery.”

[4](2001) 6 SCM 10.

[5](1968) 1 WLR 1061

[6]<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holder_in_due_course> (Last Accessed 8:09PM, 13/02/20).

[7]Section29(1) of Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[8]Section 92 of Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[9]Section 27(1) (a) (b) of Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[10]Oliver v. Davis (1949)2 K.B 727; Section 29(2) of Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[11] Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[12] (1932) 32 S.R.

[13] Section 40 of the Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[14] Section 45 of the Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[15] Section 48 of the Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[16] Section 51 of the Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

[17] Auto Import Export v. J.A.A. Adebayo &Ors (2005) 12 SCM 110.

[18] Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004

[19]Section 2 Bill of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[20]Section 2 Bill of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[22]Section 29(1) of the Bills of Exchange Ac tChapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[23] Section 40 of the Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[24] Section 48 of the Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[25] Section 51 of the Bills of Exchange Act Chapter B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

 

 

 

What Is Negotiability And Assignability?

 

Negotiability refers to a document`s (checks, drafts or bill of exchange) characteristics or attribute that allows the property in it to be freely transferrable to a third party, who acquires such document void of equities; if the document was taken in good faith, without knowledge of any defect in title and for value. It allows for the passing of ownership from the transferor to the transferee by endorsement or delivery.

Negotiability as a concept developed as a result of the growing need for a substitute for money that was suitable for trade transactions. Negotiability demands that the transferee accepting an instrument for payment is assured of its payment and is protected from the defects of the transferor. Hence, the mere fact that an instrument is negotiable shields the accepting party from the original promisor`s attempt to assert any legal defense against the transferee.[1]

This endowment or capacity of an instrument to effect a transfer free of any legal defense, provided the transferee takes bonafide, for value and without any notice of such defect, is the very essence of negotiability. Little wonder Kennedy, J. quipped, in Webb, Hale & Co. V Alexandra Wate & Co. Ltd.that if a document is to be treated in its fullest sense as negotiable,the holder is entitled to say; [2]

I have my right to this document. Although someone in the chain of deliveries before the document reached my hands, there was some larceny or other fraud affecting the obtaining … (it)…I, being an honest bonafide holder, am entitled to treat this as in the fullest sense a negotiable instrument, and therefore one which gives me a perfect right as if those through whom I derived title had also held a perfect and unassailable right in the transaction which enabled me to get (it).

Assignability, on the other hand, is a quality that allows the owner or transferee to pass on his right in the property to a third party, but the latter takes it subject to any defects such rights owned at the time of the assignment. In other words, it is a circumstance by which property rights emanating from a contract in choses in action (intangible property rights evidenced in a document, cognizable under law) may be transferred to a third party.[3]

It is pertinent to note that an assignee cannot sue the original promisor in his own name but must impel the assignor to ‘lend’ his name to the action. This is in direct contrast to a transferee in a negotiation who acquires the right to sue in his own name. An assignee may also need to give notice of assignment to the person liable to ensure his priority over a subsequent assignment.

FORMS OF NEGOTIABILITY

According to Section 31(2) of the Bill of Exchange Act [4], a negotiable instrument (particularly bill of exchange) may be payable to bearer, thus, transferred by mere delivery. Section 31(3) of the Act further states that it may also be payable to order, thus, transferred by endorsement coupled with delivery.  The foregoing means of transfer can be said to constitute forms of negotiability in Banking Law and shall be explained as thus:

ENDORSEMENT

 As already mentioned, an instrument may be payable to bearer or payable to order. An order instrument must be endorsed and then completed by delivery for a valid transfer to the transferee. Endorsement consists of a signature on the back of the instrument and it may include: Endorsement in blank, Special endorsement, Restrictive endorsement, Conditional endorsement, and qualified endorsement.

In accordance with section 55(2), the endorser becomes liable to pay a subsequent holder in due course on the instrument if it is dishonored by the maker, drawer, or drawee who presented for payment. The endorser then has the right to turn to the drawer for compensation since he would have been compelled to pay. This is because as stated in Metalimpex v. A.G. Leventis [5], the endorser by endorsing the instrument undertakes that on due presentment, it will be paid.

In addition, for an endorsement to be valid, some requirements provided by section 32 of the Bill of Exchange Act must be fulfilled. First, it must be written on the bill with the signature of the endorser. Second, it must be of the entire bill and not a partial one. Third, for two or more endorsees who are not partners, all must endorse, unless the one endorsing has authority to endorse for the others. Fourth, if the payee or endorsee is wrongly designated, he may endorse the bill adding his proper signature. Fifth, where there are two or more endorsements on a bill, each endorsement is deemed to have been made in the order in which it appears on the bill until the contrary is proved.

DELIVERY

 Section 2 of the act defines delivery as the transfer of possession, actual or constructive from one person to another. A physical transfer is an actual delivery; and for constructive delivery, it is done through a prior action indicating the intention of the transfer. The importance of delivery cannot be overstated as even if the instrument has been drawn up, it does not qualify as a negotiable instrument until it has been physically transferred to the payee. Thus, in accordance with section 21(1), every contract on a bill is incomplete without delivery. Delivery is a requirement for both the bearer instrument and order instrument. The first transfer to the payee is called the issue of the instrument, and all subsequent transfers are called deliveries. If delivery has been induced by fraud or if the instrument was stolen before it was issued, the debtor is not obligated to honor it. However, if the instrument gets into the hands of an innocent third party who qualifies as a holder in due course, such delivery will be conclusively presumed.

It is also material to note that in furtherance to the case of Smith v. Mundy [6] partial delivery is ineffectual and can cause a transaction to be incomplete and revocable. Further, in order for delivery to be effectual in the case of immediate parties and with regards to a remote party other than a holder in due course, it must be made either by or under the authority of the party drawing, accepting or endorsing. Conclusively, it must be stated that a valid delivery of the negotiable instrument by the holder in due course, is presumed.

OVERVIEW OF ASSIGNABILITY

The most important feature of the negotiable instrument is that it can be freely transferred; either by negotiation and assignment. Negotiation implies the transfer of a negotiable instrument, which takes place in order to make the transferee, the holder of the instrument. On the other hand, assignment alludes to the transfer of ownership of the negotiable instrument, in which the assignee gets the right to receive the amount due on the instrument from the prior parties. In assignability, the one who assigns is the assignor, while the one to whom the assignment is made is called the assignee.

First, while the notice is important in an ordinary assignment, notice is not important in negotiation and does not affect the transfer of the negotiable instrument. As well, while an assignor may be unable to sue a promisor; the promisor may be sued by a subsequent holder of the negotiable instrument who has given consideration for the instrument to the promisor. This is can be done even if the promisor himself could not have enforced the instrument.

Some of the key features of an assignment, in contrast to negotiability, include the fact that where negotiability refers to the transfer of the negotiable instrument, by a person to another to make that person the holder of it, assignability implies the transfer of rights, by a person to another, for the purpose of receiving the debt payment.

Negotiation is effected by mere delivery in case of bearer instrument and, endorsement and delivery in case of order instrument while the assignment is effected by a written document duly signed by the transferor. In negotiation, consideration is presumed; however, it must be proven in the case of an assignment.

Unlike in negotiation where the transferee gets the right of the holder in due course, the assignee’s title is subject to the title of Assignor. A transfer notice is not required in a negotiation, but in the case of an assignment, it must be served by the assignee on his debtor.

In an assignment, the right to sue is not conferred upon the assignee as he has no right to sue the third party in his/her own name. This is not the case in a negotiation where the transferee has the right to sue the third party, in his/her own name. At this point, it is important to emphasize that in negotiation, the transfer of a negotiable instrument entitles the transferor, the right of a holder in due course. On the other extreme, in the assignment, the title of the assignee is a bit defective one, as it is subject to the title of the assignor of the right.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, it is important to reiterate that a negotiable instrument is capable of being transferred. It can be transferred by negotiation, or it could be assigned. Negotiability is the characteristics or attribute that allows the property or instrument to be freely transferrable to a third party. A bill of exchange could be negotiated by delivery when payable to bearer or by endorsement completed by delivery when payable to order.[7]

However, assignability is the quality that allows the owner or transferee to pass on his right in the property to a third party. In an assignment, the third party takes the instrument subject to any defects such rights owned at the time of the assignment.


[1] Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

[2] (1905) 93 L.T. 339

[3] Kerridge, E. (1988). Trade and banking in early modern England. Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press.

[4] The Bill of Exchange Act, Cap. B8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

[5] [1976] 1 All N.L.R 84

[6] 588 F.2d 832 (7th Cir. 1978)

[7] S, S. (2017, June 20). Difference Between Negotiation and Assignment (with Comparison Chart). Retrieved October 27, 2019, from https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-negotiation-and-assignment.html

Attitude wins every race

One singular force of life that eternally echoes possibility or impossibility to our dreams is our attitude. I started with a stream of wrong attitude in the university. The weakness of my academic background became so obvious. The university assumed my foundation (I came from a rural area) to be as strong as others from King’s College and was merely poised to build on it.

When a preliminary Chemistry course wanted to expose my weakness, I thought I would be defeated by it. It was not only the course that proved difficult but some other courses like Calculus in Mathematics which I had never done prior to the time.

There is something that the University of Ibadan community refers to as tsunami – not a natural disaster but a situation when the university advises students to withdraw from their academic pursuit due to low academic performance. “The fear of tsunami is thebeginning of wisdom” was our favourite quote on campus. I became a ferocious reader. Even with this, I felt so inadequate and incapable of passing those courses. Discouragement set in for me. I began to embrace a negative attitude. My background was so weak to build on. I was not excited about the whole thing again. The more I fed my negative attitude, the more incompetent I felt, and the more I lost hope of winning the race.

One day I involved a friend in the matter (he was in 200 level). I told him all I was passing through. He looked at me intently, not uttering a word. He pretended to be serious. When I finished all my complaints I was surprised at what my friend did next: he laughed! “Is that all you are sweating about? Fear of tsunami?” He had to correct the attitude. “Guy, this Chemistry you are obsessively panicking about was defeated by you both at SSCE and UTME levels. You had an A in Chemistry, B in Physics, and B in Mathematics…. What then is your problem? Your attitude towards a perceived risk is very important. If you think you will fail, no one can avert that. But my brother, you are not a tsunami candidate,” he said frankly.

Wow! This really got into me. “I am not a tsunami candidate?” I had never seen it that way- no wonder I began losing hope. That single statement reinvigorated me. I gained my confidence back by changing my attitude to a perceived threat. I repeated that statement to myself every day on my way to lecture rooms – I am not a tsunami candidate. This really bolstered my innate power to work. I was boiling within me to see Chemistry defeated. I told myself I could do it. Then I saw improvement in the way I approached lectures and everything. For that session, my result was an A! Attitude, not power, won the race.

Perhaps if I had employed the “I-would-be –tsunamized attitude” it would have spelt failure on the result. But thank God my attitude was corrected earlier before things got awry. No one can be better off than his/her attitude. Attitude informs how we live our lives and until we change our attitude, we cannot change our lives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adekunle (B. Pharm., MSc, MPSN) wrote this article and he is also the author of“Pushing the Limits: From Riding Okada to Graduating with a Distinction in Pharmacy”

He can be reached via: www.yemiadekunle.com.ng; or joeladeokola10@gmail.com

Life After School

Hi, I am Tijani Omolara and I am going to be talking, well more like writing about Life After School – The after University life challenges and the how-to tackle these challenges.

A big misconception has been sold from ages past that one needs to first finish University before facing the next stage of one’s life…the stage of  ” life after University”. This stage of “life after school” begins right there in the University, while still schooling. It does not begin after your final year (nope). It does not begin after your defense (nope), and certainly not after your convocation ceremony. It begins before all of these steps in your life.

You know just as life as a human, does not begin from when the child is born but begins immediately fertilization has occurred, so also is tackling the life challenges following your being done with your first degree.

What does anyone really want from life?

To sum it up in one word. It’s SECURITY!  Security can further be divided into job security, marital security, and social security.

1.         JOB SECURITY

One of the challenges faced by most students after school is securing a well-paid job (financial security).  How do I beat this?

Say at 18, you gained admission into a four (4) years program in the University. With the Nigerian education system of strikes and everything, at 23, you are now in your 400 level first semester.

Your 1st, 2nd and 3rd year in the University are enough for you to build your CGPA to landing between 3.50 and 5.00. Those 3 years are where you build your CGPA to getting that CGPA working for you. And with these GPAs, you can access a lot of scholarship money. Money, you can save up for use, later.

These grades 3.50 to 5.00 are power grades. They are like laying the right academic foundation on which you can erect any structure! So working hard to attaining a grade within this range is advantageous.

In your 400 level, while studying to crown all your effort from the other 3 years, that is when you begin to think about life after school in the aspect of job security.

Say this program is accounting. At 400 level 1st semester, you should know about the different professional exams needed for you as an accountant to excel in your career path. I’m talking about ICAN and the rest.

With the scholarship money and bursary from the last 6 sessions, you should have enough to sit for one of those exams.

Some of these exams come in stages. By the time you will be through with NYSC, you would have successfully completed all levels.  Audit firms and other financial institutions would be looking to employ you.

My point here is that skills are an added advantage, needed to beat this financial/job security challenge. Be it that you are at 400 level or you are preparing to go for service or you are even back for your Masters, skills are very necessary.

Skills you acquire from sitting for professional exams required in your field of profession, skills in learning a machine language and mastering it, skills in learning software for data analysis, skills in proposal writing and Grant sourcing, skills in Business management, Project Management, Relationship Management, skills in Hotel Management, Customer Relations, skills in Human Resources, etc.

You need to pick up a skill, learn it and master it. Master it enough that you will be known for it. Pick up a skill or two, useful, needed in your field. Pick up a skill to enhance that passion of yours to make the world know you are here.

For those who are in a program that requires them to specify because of the diversification in their study program, or  are looking to work in the academia or work in a research institute, then, going for Masters is necessary and then, of course, Doctorate. But even at this, a skill for research proposal drafting is needed.

At 400 level, you should have mapped out who you want to be in life and what you want to be known for. At that age, you are anywhere between 21 to 26 (on average).

Once you have this mapped out, read, browse, research about the field you are in or thinking of going into. Read about the necessary steps to take. That laptop in your hand is not just for watching movies or collecting textbooks. You can browse those who have excelled and still excelling in that field. What skills do they have that you do not have? How can you get access to these skills?

YouTube is an amazing place. There are people who drop daily lessons, free. Make use of it. Learn and master a skill relevant to who you want to be before leaving the University, master it way into your service year.

Such that when you start sending your CVs to organizations, Universities e.t.c., you will rank very high.

Another challenge students face after school is “where to live. Don’t wait till you get to that point you begin to ask yourself “where do I pack and go now” before you start making plans.  Some people are blessed that should they leave their current residence today, they are able to get another the same day. Some are blessed more in other areas of life.

If you are among the latter set, then do not wait till you get to that junction. You may not know where you will be posted for NYSC for those still in school. But you know where you want to set base, except God says otherwise. You know you want to return to Lagos, and live in Lagos. You know you do not go back to your parents’. Or you want to leave your current location for Lagos, whichever, wherever…

Begin to speak with your friends now.  You will surely meet one or two persons who want to live where you want to live. Talk to them about apartment sharing.  I mean it will be for a while, just until you are able to stand on your own. Make inquiries on the cost per annum for rent for the type of apartment you want. Browse Google. Get the numbers and divide.

If however, you know that your savings cannot cover the expenses of living alone (even when shared with friends), go back to your parent’s house. Stay there a while, until you can stand on your feet.

  • SOCIETAL PRESSURE (MARITAL AND SOCIAL SECURITY)

We all know this pressure. Pressure from friends, family, society, your faith, etc. I have spoken so much about this pressure that I am beginning to sound like a record on a replay button is broken.

Do not let any of those aforementioned groups pressure get to you. I have seen people make wrong decisions and choices because of these pressures.

Interestingly, it is different for both genders. That your friend/brother/sister got his job immediately after NYSC doesn’t mean you wouldn’t. That your friend/brother/sister has gotten his/her own apartment now and is now paying his rent regularly doesn’t mean you would not. That your friend is now married and you are going 29 (female) and 32 (male) doesn’t mean you would not. That your friend/brother/sister is now the one taking care of the family and paying the bills doesn’t mean you would not.

Do not let anyone talk down to you not even you yourself. Do not give room even for yourself to talk you down.  Your goal and dream are key here. You know who you are, you know what you want from life. You have your dream and goals. You are your own special person different from every and any other person. You are in control of your future; don’t feel bound by expectations of people around you. Trust God and input the necessary hard work.

Stay safe and remember…You’ll overcome!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tijani Omolara is a Physiologist (specializing in Developmental Endocrinology and Genetics Engineering). She has volunteered on medical outreaches in different communities.

She is also a freelancer, editing CVs and other academic related content. She loves Korean drama and loves the KPOP boy group, BTS.

Integrity in Leadership: A Panacea for a New and Prosperous Nigeria

INTRODUCTION

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles[1]. The word has its roots from the Latin word integritas, from where the word integer[2] was coined. This meant ‘intact’, ‘entire’ or ‘wholeness’. A man of integrity is a man who is truthful, accountable in actions and not dishonest. A good antonym for integrity is hypocrisy. A hypocrite is not able to stand on a definite platform and defend the truth; he instead dillydallies between two opposing views and can subvert the truth. A man of integrity is the quintessential citizen, an honest business man or a committed teacher. He is predictable because he will always stand on the truth. In the light of our Nigerian experience, this paper will adopt the word ‘corruption’ as the antonym for Integrity. A corrupt person is a person who lacks integrity.

Gerald[3] in discussing integrity from the framework of ethics opined that an individual is a person of integrity when his decisions are predicated on a framework of principles he believes in. The person of integrity has a value-core that makes his actions predictable and in consonance with those values. Thus, a person of integrity has a world view, a bed line train of thoughts that decides his behaviour, his actions and his reactions to issues.

Politically, integrity is a very important quality for leaders. A politician decides policy for the rest members of society; it should be possible to trace his pattern of behaviour, his convictions and where his deepest values lie. A politician devoid of integrity is a deleterious time bomb who wants to have his cake and eat it. Other virtues which are important for politicians are faithfulness and humility.

It goes without much argument that the main problem with Nigeria is a problem of leadership. Achebe identifies this problem succinctly in his book ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’,

There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership’

Leadership of responsibility or leadership by example is a leadership by a person of integrity. It is the lack of theses leaders of integrity that has served to keep Nigeria at this sorry state of affairs.

A HISTORICAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE PROBLEM OF INTEGRITY IN NIGERIAN POLITICS VIA ELECTIONS

                        ‘The Labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain’

An investigation into our development as a nation will reveal that the labours of our heroes past were at sundry times marred by a lack of altruism. The leaders who laid the building blocks for this nation were at some time unable to stick to ideals of which integrity was one of them.A brief examination from Post-independence Nigeria will prove this. There is no better moment that a political leader would have to show he is a person of integrity than when he has to superintend over how the person that will take over from him is selected.

PRE-INDEPENDENCE ERA

The Nigerian democratic experience started during the colonial era. On June 24 1923, the first Nigerian political party was formed: The Nigerian National Democratic Party. This party was followed up quickly with the formation of the Nigerian Youth Movement. The main problem with the elections at this time was that participation was severely limited to only male adults who earned up to £100 per annum[4]. However, during the period, political parties did not allow for internal democracy[5]. There were personality clashes especially in the Nigerian Youth movement between Ernest Okoli and Samuel Akinsanya which ultimately led to the fractionalization of the party.

The implication of the law that made it possible for only male adults who earned up to £100 per annum to vote in elections was that every other citizen who was old enough to vote but was maybe female or not rich enough was disenfranchised. This was the first signs of the hypocrisy of the colonial masters. In 1951, Lord John Macpherson brought his constitution into effect in the colony of Nigeria as it then was. This constitution did little to solve the main problem of disenfranchisement[6].

Elections at this time were opposed by the nationalists who wanted an election that will give all adults the right to vote, but the nationalists soon developed problems of their own. During this period, tribalism and nepotism and gender discrimination began to rear its head in the affairs of the country. Political development was not uniform throughout the country. For the North, until the coming into effect of the 1963 Republican Constitution, suffrage was mainly for adult males[7]. This problem of disenfranchisement of the North stalled the integration of Northern women into the Nation’s political process on time. The main instances of institutional corruption would first stem from the actions of the colonial masters in making sure that suffrage was not granted to the entire adult population of Nigeria, and the action of the leaders at the time whosoon descended into ethnic politics.

THE LACK OF INTEGRITY IN THE FIRST REPUBLIC

As the colonial masters left the leadership of the country, there came a need to conduct elections into the newly created seats in the Federal House of Representatives. As one author would put it, ‘the 1960 elections were meant to favour the North’[8]. This allegation was made based on the fact that the North had more than half of the total seats in parliament. The North alone had 148 seats while the East had 89 seats and the West 75, represented by their regional parties which were the Northern People’s Congress(NPC), National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the Action Group(AG) respectively.

The manner of the distribution of the Nigerian political positions made the other regions to feel severely marginalised and this played a big part in the demise of the first republic. ‘The first republic collapsed because there was no respect for the core principles of liberal democracy- free and fair competition for power through elections’.[9]

It can be seen clearly that the foundations of electoral malpractices laid from the formative years of this nation was to further rear up its head in subsequent elections. Within this period, there was election violence in the western region in 1965. During the elections in the western region, politicians at the time were involved in snatching of ballot boxes, burning of ballot papers, thuggery and fighting.

 It is important to note that these events were happening between the first six years of coming into birth of the Nigerian nation.

THE SECOND REPUBLIC

In 1966, there was military intervention in the governance of the country. This intervention lasted from that period to the year 1979. General OlusegunObasanjo concluded the program of return to civil rule of General Murtala Muhammad. There were elections into the office of the President, the representatives and the Governors. The elections results were disputed in courts. The political climate at this time was still inundated with politicians who showed little desire to do the right thing and put their country first.

1983 ELECTIONS AND MILITARY INTERVENTION

This was to be the first elections conducted by a civilian government in Nigeria. It laid bare the sheer ineptitude of the civilian government to conduct any elections in the country that would be free and fair.  The elections were marred with widespread irregularities which were sufficient to question the conduct of the entire elections[10]. It was a mark of irresponsible leadership that showed when the first civilian conducted elections in Nigeria were even worse than the elections conducted by the military regime.

THIRD REPUBLIC

An election which analysts have voted would have passed as the freest and fairest elections in Nigeria was the 1983 elections. The Ibrahim Babangidamilitary administration conducted an election that did not see the light of day. 

FOURTH REPUBLIC

1999-DATE

Nigeria began its fourth republic journey with the advent of OlusegunObasanjo as the President of the country. However the various elections held during this republic has been marred by unusual electoral malpractices.

This fourth republic has seen unprecedented rise in the manner of electoral malpractice in Nigeria. It’s like each fraudulent election births a worse monster. The 1999 elections were between two major candidates:OluFalae and OlusegunObasanjo.Obasanjo won the presidential elections butOluFalae did not accept the results of the elections and contested it in Court; the Courts returned Obasanjo as elected.

So far, Nigeria’s journey to statehood had been marred by one form of electoral malpractise or another[11]. Integrity has generally been lacking in the nation’s polity. There has been the recurrent issue of political killings and assassinations.  Between 2003 and 2007, there have been so many political deaths[12] that an investigation is important. There have been allegations of bribery in the House of Representatives[13]

Elections in Nigeria have improved from the dark days of politically motivated assassinations. Nowadays there is a renewed trust that the people have in the electoral system of the nation.

CAN A DUTY OF INTEGRITY BE INFERRED FROM POLITICAL POSITION?

Political positions are positions of authority where a person who occupies the position can take serious decisions from. A duty to be a person of integrity is immediately behoving on a person who is an occupant of a political position. Nigerian politicians must understand this. It is pathetic that the general perception of Nigerians is that their elected officials are all thieves and evil men. A cartoonist once satirically referred to people in the lower Nigerian legislative house as Representathieves and the legislators as legislooters. This description by the cartoonist is a common perception among Nigerians of their elected representatives. This is because over time, the machinery to keep politicians accountable have been hijacked by the politicians themselves. The courts are the machinery of justice but what obtains now is that politicians to a large extent use the weight of their political power to coerce the courts to subjugate justice.

But there is a duty on the politician to be a person of integrity. Integrity in politics is a fundamental requirement that should even ground the electorate’s choice on who their leader should be. Knowing a person’s standards on matter that have to do with corruption and subversion of the public good, will arm the electorate with enough information to decide whether such a leader is who they trust to lead them.

STATESMANSHIP VERSUS INTEGRITY

A man of integrity is a leader with the interest of the people at heart. Brett and Kate[14] mention four qualities that are essential for the statesman. These are: a bedrock of principles, a moral compass, a vision, and an ability to build a consensus to achieve a vision. Functionally, the first two points can be explained as integrity. In explaining the heading ‘A Bedrock of Principles’ they have this to say

The statesman builds his platform on a foundation of firm, unchanging, fundamental truths. These are the things he believes at his very core, his overarching philosophy. Just as in the foundation of a house, storms may buffet the structure, opposition and challenges may arise, times will change, but the foundation remains.

In explaining ‘Moral Compass’ they both have this to say

The statesman makes his decision by following his own moral compass. He is not a relativist; he believes in absolute truths, and his moral compass is rooted in a sense of absolute right and wrong.

Some dictionaries define a statesman as ‘an important and experienced politician’[15]. This definition is banal as it does not address the real meaning of the term as used by social scientists. Brett and Kate are more consistent. By the definition of a statesman and the characteristics ascribed to him by Brett and Kate, it is safe to conclude that the statesman is mainly a politician with integrity. This means that the leader with integrity cannot be distinguished from the statesman. Both characteristics describe the same person.

 A question that must be answered is whether the Nigerian political space has produced a statesman. It remains to be seen that Nigerian leader that will lift himself or herself above the vestiges of tribalism and corruption in order to make sacrifices for the greater good of the entire nation[16].

NIGERIA’S PANACEA

‘And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skilful hands he ledthem[17]

David was the leader of Israel at the time Israel was threatened by the lands around them. The Bible records David using his skill and righteous heart to lead Israel. This wouldnot have been possible had David behaved like the Kings around Israel. Nations that bordered Israel at the time were nations where the king ran the people like despots and could not be cautioned.

The Davidic model of leadership is the leadership that is skilled and has integrity. It is not enough that a politician is experienced in handling people or that he has served as a leader for a long time. Qualities of skilfulness and charisma must coincide with integrity to make the politician useful to the people.

The topic that this topic is addressing is an apt one, more so when the country is on the throes of another election. The people must decide their leader and his longstanding convictions and values should be known so as to help the people make correct choices.

The division of Israel as a united entity during the regime of David’sgrandson happened because the grandson departed from the pattern of behaviour of his father and grandfather before him. We may not be able to have a united Nigeria soon if the leaders do not jettison corruption and nepotism in favour of a Nigeria where the common man is treated well and value is given to human lives.

Another opportunity to make a difference stares us in the face in a few months. 2019 General elections is another period to remove lacklustre leadership and make Nigeria better. It will not be wise if we let this opportunity pass us by. It is important that we profile the people involved and select for ourselves a leader that truly has integrity and will keep his word.


[1]Google dictionary.

[2]In Mathematics, Integerrefers to whole numbers.

[3] Gerald MacCalum, Legislative Intent and Other Essays on Law, Politics and Morality (1993) University of Wisconsin Press p152

[4] At the time, the Constitution in force was the Sir Clifford’s Constitution of 1922. It was true that this Constitution introduced the elective principle for the first time into any British African territory, but it was not an elective principle that gave every adult equal rights to vote and be voted for.

[5]Dr G Ikechukwu, Parties Parallel Primaries and its Implications to Political Development in Nigeria, (Vol 10 2015) Journal of Developing Country Studies p.109

[6] In its favour, it can be argued that the Macpherson Constitution was the first constitution that was produced after consultations with different levels of leadership in the then Colonial Nigeria. However, due to the fact that the Constitution did  not provide the institutional framework for the achievement of its lofty ideals. This led to conflicts in the regions. Within three years, the Constitution was replaced with the Lyttleton Constitution.

[7] Howard French, NnamdiAzikiwe, the First President of Nigeria, Dies at 91 available on www.nytimes.com accessed on 16th April 2018

[8]Frederick Forsyth ‘The Biafra story’ 1969.

[9]Jibrin Ibrahim, Election Lessons from 1st Republic: It’s the Republic that matters, Daily Trust Monday 16th April 2018.

[10] Stephen Wright, Nigeria: The 1983 Elections (2008) Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs p. 289

[11]The biggest beneficiary of the 2017 election, President Umaru MusaYar’adua had this to say about the elections that brought him to power  “our focus on the electoral reform is predicated on the belief that elections are the very heart of democracy hence they must not only be fair but they must be seen to be so by our people and the rest of the world … it is our abiding belief that failure in instituting an acceptable process by which the representative of the people are chosen will definitely resort in failure in the long run – this administration has considered it a sacred mandate to institute deep and elaborate reforms that will lead to the restoration of the integrity of the electoral system in this country”- 30th May 2007

[12] Examples of political deaths include the deaths of A S Dikibo, Harry Marshall, Funsho Williams to name a few.

[13] The Governor of Ekiti State has alleged that the former president bribed  the House of Assembly during his tenure. See Vanguard Newspapers of 16 March 2017.

[14] Brett Mackay and Kate Mackay, The Four Qualities of a Statesman available on www.artofmanliness.com accessed 16th July 2018

[15]www.collinsdictionary.com accessed on 16th April 2018

[16] So many Nigerians have made sacrifices to maintain the safety of the nation. A good example that comes to mind is DrMrsAdadevoh, that paid the ultimate prize to keep Nigeria safe from ebola. But she was not a politician.

[17] Psalm 78 verse 72