Stanley Nsemo is young, energetic, urbane and purpose driven. He stands before the good people of Calabar Municipality, Cross River State, seeking to better express himself through their mandate, in the Cross River State House of Assembly on the platform of the All Peoples Congress, APC. www.calitown.com exclusively sat down and engaged him on his ambition away from his daunting schedule. Excerpts:
Tell us a little about yourself?
Of course my name hasn’t changed, I am Stanley Nsemo – Livingstone. I attended King’s College, Lagos and the University of Pittsburgh, where I earned a Bachelors’ degree in Economics, concentrating in International Business. At the University of Pittsburgh, I graduated with numerous academic awards. I was also the first African to top the institutional development telefund, contributing to the 1 billion endowment fund raised by the university during a 10 year period.
In the world of business, I am the Managing Partner and Co-founder of White Chapel & Partners (“WCP”). I head the White Chapel & Partners Business Strategy and Market Communications Department. The company has grown from a small office in Lagos to becoming a strategic partner for various multinationals like Sanofi Pharmaceutical , CHI Pharmaceutical, Google and many more.
Before WCP, I worked as a Business Development and Administration Manager with SeaWolf Oilfields Services and participated in the negotiation of the Seawolf and Shell JVC on Land and Swamp valued at 120 million dollars. I also participated in the 650 million dollars equity financing negotiation between First Bank Nigeria, Leadway Assurance, Pan African Development Fund and Seawolf Cayman Island, one of the largest equity and debit financing till date in Nigeria.
I have had fingers in pies on such notable transactions like the 500 million naira Calaro Oil Palm privatization negotiation between Intercontinental Bank and Cannon Ball Nigeria. Permit me to also mention that I worked with TNT/IAS as the Assistant General Manager/Group Corporate Affairs Manager and helped with the re-branding and re-positioning of the organisation in all 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I represent Cannon Ball Nigeria on the board of Ishie Mirco Finance Bank and I must modestly emphasize that I am also extremely passionate about SMEs and developmental entrepreneurship.
I am married to an incredible woman and we have kids.
What motivates your ambition to go to the Cross River State House of Assembly?
I will zero it down to two words … Effective Representation. We have to bear in mind that House of Assembly members have the responsibility to enact laws that positively impact on their constituencies and it is my deep seated passion to work with other colleagues when elected to champion the causes I believe will uplift the lives my constituents and of course the state at large. And what are some of these causes?
I am referring to the provision of employment to address the level of poverty our people are grappling with, addressing the perennial security issues confronting our state, attracting investment and creating wealth, building infrastructure on which businesses can run smoothly, provision of education to our young ones, just to mention a few.
Why are you convinced that you have the know how to function in this position?
Let me be modest in saying that I have built and participated in the building of successful businesses within the private sector. In the last eight years, I have brought that vast experience into answering the call to public service. My work at the Cross River State Signage Agency streamlined that important aspect of public esthetics. The indiscriminate posting of bills on walls and public buildings are forever behind us. Under my watch, for the first time, we had an election season that witnessed clear rules on posting of campaign materials which have been sustained to date. The use of billboards to communicate and to advertise products and services were creatively managed not just as a means to its immediate ends but also as a means of improving the esthetics of our public environment. Of course my tenure as the head of the Cross River State Electrification Agency speaks for itself.
But over and above these achievements, the capacity I have built over the years is the passion that drives me. It is this passion that fuels my commitment to the development of our dear state into the Cross River State of our dreams.
As a first timer, your level of influence, even at House committee levels, will be minimal. How do you plan to go around this hurdle and influence legislations for your people?
First of all, let me respectfully disagree with you. I don’t believe my ‘influence’ will be minimal. Like I said earlier, I have been diligently exposed to the workings of the machinery of government. Agreeably, I will not have my way all the time, but I am going to the House with a blue print, a vision, and that vision cannot be delivered without selling same to colleagues and building relationships that can birth that dream. What more, many of the political actors in our dear state are not strangers to me, and I deeply believe that in the end we will all stay committed to the development of this state. A good idea, a good project, an impactful piece of legislation, a resolution of the House for public good – none of these will be impossible to communicate to members, regardless of the number of years one has spent in the Assembly.
Many young people like you have long pursued the agitation that young people should be given political space to function in. Do you think this is a clamour that can bring the true dividends of democracy to the people?
I think the agitation for young people to occupy the political space in Nigeria is borne out of lack of performance by former political actors. My personal opinion is that leadership is not a matter of age. We have seen older people perform well and we have seen some young persons who have been called to leadership positions bring nothing to the table.
So let’s put this in proper perspective – what our people are clamouring for is effective leadership and representation of their interest(s) by political actors. Our people have been lied to, their expectations have many times not been met, our people are more and more falling below the poverty line, our infrastructure is not at par with other nations we share the same socio-economic and political history with. Our economy has taken a bad hit; you can go and on. That is the contention; and that is why the agitation is for a change of the political actors. Let the old hands give way to fresh ones, let’s try something different because we don’t have another country, or in this case another state. This state must work for us. And make no mistakes, youth has an impact on leadership. We live in a word that is in constant motion; younger people are more knowledgeable, better equipped with the tools to take advantage of the wind of positive change to impact on their decisions and so deliver on assignments. There is youthful energy, there is global networking, there are new and ever changing tools that might not be found in the tool box of older generations but which can be effectively deployed by young people to the benefit of our people.
You were recently arrested and paraded by the EFCC…tell us your story?
My campaign organisation has issued a press statement on this issue and I think it is out there in the public space. However to put it briefly, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, officials came to my family house where I was at home with aunties, uncles and cousins. They searched the house and turned everything upside down. In the end, they confiscated the the sum of N156,800 (One Hundred and Fifty-Six Thousand Eight Hundred Naira) in local currency and $495 (Four Hundred and Ninety Five) US dollars, which when converted is about N270,000 (Two Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira).
Was that action lawful? Is it an offence to keep money at home, and such meager amounts? What was in the hurry to take pictures and post same online insinuating that I was engaged in vote buying? Can such paltry amounts be used for the purpose insinuated? You don’t have to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria to know the answer to these questions. We are all citizens of this country and we know our rights.
I could begin to point fingers in some quarters but you see, from the moment I made up my mind to run for public office, I also made up my mind to run a campaign that will focus on the issues that speak and translate to what we can offer the electorate. I will not compromise that ideal even in the face of these type of challenges. We have the prayers and well wishes of our people pouring in since that unfortunate incident – we are even more energised and resolute in our mandate, we shall work hard to deliver and we shall bring effective representation to our people.
How well prepared for this enterprise are you?
It has challenged me both mentally, emotionally and financially. But then, what will the world be like without challenges we can surmount? Challenges ideally bring out the very best in us and yes, I am rising to the occasion because I am reminded that this is bigger than I, so I positively push forward.
You maintain in your campaign that the “rebirth starts here”. What do you mean by this statement?
I believe the APC has good and bad people and we need not fear the vehicle, what should be feared are the bad people. I strongly believe there is a rebirth taking place across Nigeria and we must join and aid that process. Those who want to feign ignorance at this process are living in self denial and we must wish them well. Those of us who believe that this is the beginning of the restoration of Nigeria process, are aligned and functionally working to see that the good times return for all and sundry… shouldn’t we believe?
As we ready ourselves for the polls, please talk to the electorate directly!
I am a simple man and I am here to give direction, working together with my people. I cannot lay claim to knowing it all but if we synergize, we can set a new standard and make positive changes to the Calabar Municipality story. What I am offering is not rocket science, what I am offering are practicable approaches that should help us embrace our Municipality, passionately own it up and decisively improve on what we presently have. I come with no delusion that this enterprise is a stroll in the park, but we will trample off the fears and achieve things beyond our imagination. I have offered myself for service, please let me have your vote so we can all go there please.
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