The Lawyer’s Call of Duty, Challenge of Leadership in Nigeria

The Lawyer’s Call of Duty, Challenge of Leadership in Nigeria

Whenever you are going into a deal or negotiating a deal and the person on the other side asks you not to involve a lawyer or consult an expert claiming that if you involve lawyers or experts it will make things more complex, your basic instinct should tell you that you are about to be ripped off and cheated on. That is a red flag and you should abort the deal immediately or go against the advice and involve a lawyer or carry out a wide consultation.

By common sense, if a counter-negotiator gives you this advice you should know that there are facts that the person is trying to hide from you  and only wants to take advantage of your desperation or ignorance.

I have a client who is a popular Nigerian singer. He reached out to me some time ago, briefing me that a renowned United States-based Music label had expressed interest in acquiring his music catalog.

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For those who might not know what a music catalog is: A music catalog is a collection of musical compositions and their copyrights; it is the collection of songs coming from the same owner and whoever owns the right to the music catalog holds the master and publishing rights of the songs. Unlike other asset classes, a music catalog is classified under intellectual property and not as real property and the owner or the maker of the music catalog owns it in perpetuity unless he sells or assigns it out to another person.

Back to the story, the United State based music label that expressed interest to purchase my client’s music catalog no doubt priced the catalog way too low than it is valued in the international market, and because they know he does not really know what it legally means to sell or assign his catalog out they advised him not to involve a lawyer that lawyers will only make the negotiations more complex.

No matter how much the person is offering you that may make you think that it is a great deal; in my years as a lawyer I have come to find out that if the other person wants to rip you off or take advantage of your ignorance he will advise you not to involve a lawyer or experts in that field. Do not proceed with such deals, place them on hold and do all the necessary due diligence consultation, the knowledge you gathered from the consultation will give you more negotiating power at the negotiation table.

Just like my client, once I got involved as his lawyer in the deal, we were able to up the price the music label initially offered for the catalog by over x50, and we were also able to negotiate down their right of ownership in the catalog from 100% to 50% right while my client will own the 50% rights in the catalog. We were also able to place a maximum number of years they are to own the catalog from perpetuity which they initially proposed to 10 years of ownership.

Generally, my client was able to get a deal that is 1000x better than the deal he would have signed if he had not involved a lawyer.

Moral lesson of the story; Learn to involve lawyers and consult experts in the field that the deal you are negotiating bothers on so you do not get yourself cheated or make a deal you will forever regret.

The Governors are the problems in Nigeria

Some days ago Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers state in his usual manner took a swipe at some governors, exposing them that the governors of the Nigeria oil-producing states have been paid the 13 percent derivation funds by the federal government. 

Wike is quoted to have said in excitement; “Let me say it for the first time. So many people asked me: ‘where is he getting this money’? Let me say it. I want, through the Attorney-General of the Federation, to thank Mr President. Monies that were not paid to the Niger Delta states since 1999, the 13 percent deductions monies that were not paid, Mr President approved and paid all of us from the Niger Delta states.And for me, it would be unfair not to tell the public. It is not from FAAC money. It is the money that is supposed to be for Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, and Bayelsa states”. (Quote Credit; Daily Trust). 

The 13 percent derivation fund comes from the federation revenue to oil-producing communities through the state governments as enshrined in section 162(2 ) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999. 

It is more like other governors that received this payout swore an oath of gang secrecy with the intent to hush it and not let the public know about the fact that they have been paid so they won’t be held accountable for it and can squander it as they please but Governor Wike while thanking the president revealed to the public that the money that has been owed the oil producing state since 1999 has been paid by President Buhari, exposing his colleagues. We can only say God bless Wike for this act of patriotism.  

Some of the state governments that received these funds did not delay in releasing a public letter, denying the amount they got, while some from their body language and silence, it can be seen that they planned to deny having received the money in totality. 

Edo state government denied the amount they received from the government. The state government through Mr. Joseph Eboigbe, the Commissioner for budget and planning in a press conference stated categorically that the Edo State Government only received N2.1 billion in three tranches of N700 million out of N28 billion due the state.

But President Muhammad Buhari saves the day by clarifying and making it public through his Twitter page how much each Niger Delta state had been paid from the outstanding 13 percent derivation funds. The presidency stated that Edo state was paid N2.2 billion, unlike the state government’s claim that they have only received N2.1 billion. 

The discrepancies in the amount paid or received beg the question; who is lying and who is saying the truth between the Edo state and the presidency? Knowing how irredeemably corrupt some states are, my first guess will be that it is the state that is lying about the amount they received with the intention to “corner side” a whopping sum of N100 million. 

It was quite funny that most of the governors that received these funds never planned on making it public until Wike opened the can of worms. This is to show that Nigerian politicians will try everything possible to pilfer and avoid being held accountable by the public.

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