*To generate more resources for Nigeria
The major thrust of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Government is for Nigerians to have hope in a better, stronger and more prosperous Nigeria.
It is a structured agenda for every Nigerian to live a good life today with an assurance of a better living tomorrow. It is a mandate handed over to all the sectors of the economy, all ministries, extra ministerial departments, parastatals and agencies of government to rise up to the challenges of poverty, unemployment, want and hopelessness ravaging the most populous Black nation in the world.
Expectedly, all the ministries and their agencies are to come up with the best policies and programmes that would not only guarantee that Nigerians get the best today, but also certify that the best of today becomes far better by tomorrow.
All the leaders in the various sectors are looked upon to operate maximally and give the nation the best results.
And as a matter of fact, the nation has begun to reap the benefits of the Renewed Hope Agenda in some critical areas of governance.
The new Minister of Interior, Honorable Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has proved a valid point that a passport without pain or bribery is possible in Nigeria. In record time, the modern minister displaying rare competence, capacity and care, cleared all the pending backlog of passports in the 37 passport offices across the country. In what all his predecessors, including former Governor Rauf Aregbesola, failed to achieve, Tunji-Ojo has renewed the hope of Nigerians that today is good and tomorrow would be better in obtaining a Nigerian passport. The minister is also presently renewing another hope in the correctional services.
The new helmsman at the Nigeria Customs Service (NIS) has equally assured that the huge financial resources required to provide infrastructure and other necessities for the actualization of the Renewed Hope Agenda are available.
In less than three months in office, the Comptroller General of Customs, Mr. Wale Bashir Adeniyi, doubled the monthly Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) of Customs to almost N700 billion in two months alone ( July and August) by blocking all the loopholes and enhanced effectiveness and efficiency in all its operations. Not only that, Adeniyi’s new Customs has opened a new vista in our relations with our bordering countries with ease of Customs services, while at the same time eradicating the hitherto tensed relations between the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigerian border communities.
Pragmatically aligning the lottery industry with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the government, the Director General of the Nigeria Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, has taken the nation’s lottery business to higher levels, as he gathered the best of the industry all over the world to further the cause of progress of the industry that he has increasingly transformed since he assumed the leadership of NLRC in 2018. For two days, October 31 to November 1, Lanre Gbajabiamila led experts, operators, players, prospects and business tycoons to concrete the way for a more prosperous gaming industry for Nigerians.
In upgrading the gaming conference initiated in 2021 as a Nigerian affair to an international status, the NLRC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) explained that the decision was for the betterment of the industry and greater opportunities for Nigeria.
“In our bid to expand the nation’s business frontiers and create more wealth for Nigerians through the lottery industry, aligning with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Federal Government, the bi-annual gaming conference of the NLRC has been elevated to international standards. This would attract more foreign investments and inflow of resources to the country,” he said
Progressing from the huge success of the maiden edition of the conference that had only key Nigerian stakeholders and players of the industry participating, Gbajabiamila stated, this year’s edition would have some key potentates of the gaming industry in Africa and across the globe in attendance.
The commission, according to the Director General, “is deliberately creating chances and openings for the Nigerian gaming industry leaders and potential investors to interact and connect with the best gaming industry giants across the world, so as to upgrade their businesses, generate more resources and enhance winnings for Nigerians.
And true to his word, experts, operators and players from across the globe converged on the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites and impacted positively in the lottery world of Nigeria. From the United States of America, United Kingdom, Asia, Botswana, Ghana and others, experts and operators exhibited unusual commitment, as they all rigorously brainstormed on what turned out to be the best for Nigeria and Nigerians in lottery and revenue generation.
Opening the conference, the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Zephaniah Jisalo, said efforts were underway to support the NLRC to generate over N2 billion yearly as revenue from licenses, other businesses in the lottery and the entire gaming sector.
Jisalo explained that this would help the government raise more money to finance infrastructure development and boost economic growth.
Deepening on the prospects of the industry, Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, said the gaming industry was of vital concern to the government and key to its revenue enhancement prospects.
“The gaming sector holds the key to economic growth and is a potent tool for addressing the pressing issues of unemployment and low per capita income. Nigeria has so much untapped potentials; and its most precious resource is its population,” he said.
Gbajabiamila noted that the gaming industry had become more dynamic, with technology, a development he said created a digital era and fundamentally reshaped how people engaged and perceived the gaming industry.
Speaking on new initiatives to promote the sector, he said the Commission would partner with operators in the gaming industry to build a world-class online lottery university.
Gbajabiamila said the university would cater to operators and regulators by enabling them to stay in tune with evolving technology trends, development and best practices in the gaming industry.
He added that it would avail regulators the opportunity to combat sports betting harms through comprehensive education, active monitoring and data-driven research.
On blocking leakages and ensuring transparency in the gaming sector, he said: “The Central Monitoring System (CMS) will help us stop losing billions of money and know what each state is contributing to the main revenue.
“We hear of several billions of Naira flying up and down in the news about the money generated in the gaming industry; these are unverified news; only CMS can give us accurate data.
“The CMS will give us the real breakdown of all the transactions in its accurate figure, and will also help us to fight under-age gaming,” the DG said.
The Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Professor Rachel Volberg, who spoke on responsible gaming, harped on the need for credibility, so that people would not be affected negatively.
“I’m more interested in how lotteries and gaming can reduce and minimise over-involvement. It has to be done carefully, so that it doesn’t affect people negatively,” she said.
In conclusion, the stakeholders lauded the zeal and dexterity with which the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, under the leadership of Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila, has been transforming the lottery and gaming industry in the country. From the minister supervising the commission to all the key speakers, panelists and other stakeholders, they all agreed that with the direction being given by the Director General of the commission, the lottery industry would soon become a major revenue source for Nigeria and contribute significantly in reducing poverty and high unemployment in Nigeria.
Commenting specifically on the conference, the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Jisalo, was so impressed that he proclaimed that the Federal Government would, henceforth, make the international conference an annual event. The visiting Director General of National Lottery Authority of Ghana, Mr. Sam Awuku, admitted that the NLRC’s International Gaming Conference was the best gaming conference ever staged in Africa. Represented by the Deputy Director General of the authority, Anna Horma Mieza, the Ghanaian Lottery Authority DG declares: “What I saw here is far better than what we did in Ghana last year. Nigeria always does it better.”
•Olaosebikan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Midas Communications Limited, was a participant at the International Gaming Conference.