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It was full throttle ahead with all Twelve cylinders blazing as Bayelsa NLRC rolled out the red carpet at her maiden edition of stakeholders forum in the Garden City of Port Harcourt on the 8th of October 2014. 

The event which had "The Role of Lottery in Rapidly Changing Nigeria" as an apt theme was graced by Two Royal Majesties, King Diongoli Okpoitari ( Opu-okun IV Ibedaowei of Opokuma Kingdom as Chairman of the occasion and King  Nwadighi Macstephen Adienbo (Olalima of Emago Kugbo - Rivers - State ) as well as many other dignitaries from all walks of life within and outside the lottery industry  amongst whom are, Chief Chidiac Francios ( Managing Director R&S Lotto ), Chief Alex Ekiotenne ( Managing Director Leemex Group ), the Reprensetative of the  Commissioner of Police – Rivers state, Representatives of National Lottery Trust Fund(NLTF), NTA, FRCN, NURTW and a host of NLRC State Coordinators from across the country.

The Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr Adolphus Joe Ekpe led a team that comprised Director Enforcement & Compliance Sajo D. Mohammed, Director Regulation & Monitoring Prince E.O. Jeminiwa, Head Training Mr Yagba Tsav and PA-DG(Technical) Godswill Obioma II from the NLRC Headquarters Abuja.

The welcome address was presented by the Host, Peterson Avona Evi-Parker (Coordinator, NLRC Bayelsa State) in his inaugural address, he made reference to President J.F. Kennedy who called on Americans “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”. That is why we must today applaud the visionaries who nursed and established the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), not only did the founding Fathers apportion 20% of all lottery proceeds for Good causes, they also embedded in every lottery playing citizen a civil responsibility.

When you enter for a lottery or a promotional lottery ticket 20% of the ticket value goes to the National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) and is subsequently disbursed for Good causes in the country; thus, making the it a WIN-WIN, so even if you don’t win the prize as advertised, you are helping to create wealth in society and also working for Good causes meaning you still win. This lottery and promotional lottery system is transparent and comes with the approval of the NLRC, a body that is charged with the task of regulating the business of all forms lottery in Nigeria, thereby ensuring and promoting our core values.

The event kicked off with a presentation on “The Role of Lottery in a Rapidly Changing Nigeria” by the Director-General Mr Adolphus Ekpe who gave an in-depth description of what lottery is, the way it is being organised by other countries within and outside Africa.

He said, this is the first of its kind to be held in Port-Harcourt. It is in furtherance of the efforts of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission to sustain the ongoing campaign to educate the general public on the contribution of modern lottery as a tool in the development of the economy of the country and also, to elicit trust and confidence from potential players and stimulate unhindered participations by citizen for the establishment of a robust lottery industry in Nigeria. He commended the Bayelsa State office of the NLRC for organizing this event for sensitization and mobilization of the region and further expatiated on the benefits of lottery to the Nigerian economy if given the right attention and how lottery proceeds can be used for improved Corporate Social Responsibilities.

All over the world, government have turned to modern lottery to raise funds for development of critical infrastructure and other areas in the economy. It is with this intention that Federal Government established the (NLRC), pursuance to the NL Act of 2005.

The DG NLRC called on the government and Chairmen of Local Government Councils in the Niger Delta to fully cooperate with licensed operators to ensure unhindered business operations in their areas of jurisdiction. Also extended the call to traditional rulers and community leaders to see lottery as legitimate business approved and licensed by the Federal Government. Indeed, licensed lottery operators have the full protection of the law and right of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

He concluded by saying “Lottery if done the right way could go a long way in making our great country Nigeria provide a more befitting life for its citizens by providing adequate infrastructural facilities”.

The DG also encouraged all active participants in the discussion to make the event a memorable and fruitful one. He appended Bayelsa Zonal office for solely packaging this stakeholder forum via the financial assistance of R&S Lotto and other sponsors.

Summary On Paper Presentations

The first speaker; Sajo Mohammed, Esq, Director, Enforcement and Compliance (NLRC) presented a paper on “Evolution of Lottery and its defining moment”.

In Nigeria lottery dates back as far as 1954 when the then British administration, in the (statutes of General application) established pools and betting, duty law cap 20 of 1954.

The purpose of the law was to make provision for the taxation of bets and authorize totalisators and on contributions of subscriptions towards authorized lotteries or sweepstakes, this later became known as the western Region law No. 1 of 1954 and laws of Nigeria No. 131 of 1954 and laws of Nigeria No 120 of 1957.

The National Lottery Act 2005 and the Lagos state lotteries law (as amended) 2008 that created two regulatory bodies, which became a source of conflict between the FG and Lagos State Government. This conflict resulted in a court action until the Federal High court decided in 2012 that both Federal and the State can issue lottery licenses provided the State can issue license to lottery operators only within the state geographical boundary, while National Lottery Act covers all inter-state lottery which includes all states in the Nigeria.

Following this decision, the Lagos State Lottery Board and the National Lottery Regulatory Commission have been working together to develop a framework in regulating conventional lotteries and promotional lotteries that is mutually beneficial to the both operators, players, regulators and the lottery industry.

The evolutionary trend of lottery shows that there are common challenges which seen to cut across the experiences of different countries, while some countries, have been able to mitigate it or address such problems completely, countries with emerging lottery sector like ours are still faced with these challenges. These include:

(a)       Primordial misconceptions and religions sentiments

(b)       Best model of lottery administration to adopt in raising revenue.

(c)       Integrity of lottery operators as it pertains to adhering of regulations.

(d)       Problem of how to best deploy good causes project for the public.

(e)      Issue of appropriate legislation and political interference etc.

The Director in his conclusion reminded all present that the lottery industry is a gold mine, like our black gold, it could be a blessing or curse for us to sustain what we must always keep in mind is that “What we do is important, how we do it is more important, most important is why we do it”.

The second paper was from the Guest Speaker, National Lottery Trust Fund(NLTF), Adamu Rabiu who was represented by Offor Ogochukwu Onukwulu (NLTF,PRO); in her presentation, she gave a clear objective of NLTF, that NLTF objective is to provide Good causes with lottery funds by promoting social and economic welfare for Nigerians through intervention projects in education, health, sports, ecological and resettlement matters and general economic welfare of the people.

She concluded with an overview objective of NLTF and solicits the support of the audience during intervention projects, monitoring and evaluation of lottery business in the South-South geopolitical zone and Nigeria at large.

The third paper titled “The Role of Lottery in Transforming Nigeria Economic Environment”, was presented by Prince E.O. Jeminiwa, Director, Regulation and Monitoring (NLRC).

He said, lottery has been used worldwide not only to empower people but also to raise money in a socially responsible way to support government in providing infrastructure and good causes. Across the world; lottery proceeds are used by government to pursue and achieve national development in areas of infrastructure, medicare, scholarships, provision of public libraries, transportation, electrification, afforestation, etc. He further gave an indepth explanation of what Lottery is.

Lottery as defined by the National Lottery Act 2005 (Section 57) includes any game, scheme, arrangement, system, plan, promotional competition or device for the distribution of prizes by lot or chance, or as a result of the exercise of skill or chance or based on the outcome of sporting event.

Many people have argued that gambling and lottery are like identical twins whose separation is at best difficult. To them, gambling and lottery are two sides of the same coin. There is a difference between gambling and lottery.

Lotteries are typically run in order to raise additional revenue for government as intervention to fund good causes project while gambling is a game of uncertain outcome for the gain or loss of money or property by stackers or players where government losses its 100% derivable funds.

While gambling is a risk taken in the hope of gaining advantage, lottery seeks to create job opportunities and bring development to the countries that accept it as a legitimate business.

The Internet platform also offers countless opportunities for business growth. This laudable opportunity also has its own demerits as unauthorized and illegal persons (hackers) could create incredible access and defraud stackers of their hard earned money, it is important therefore to be conscious of this development and be guided so as not to fall into the hands of these fraudsters.

The challenges militating against the positive growth of lottery business globally are fairly identical but in Nigeria they stem mostly from the wrong perceptions of lottery practices and the negative general attitude towards the business.

Finally, Nigeria is one of the nations with an emerging economic structure and in its strategy for economic independence, has made several efforts to meet the aspirations of her citizens. This development includes the efforts to sanitize all forms of lottery activities through proper regulatory process leading to positive contribution to the nation’s economy.

The Director Regulation & Monitoring urged all participants at the forum to applaud lottery as “the right way for economic transformation” and dissociate from all illegal and unregularised lottery, promotional lottery and lottery related business in the state.

The presence of R & S lotto in Port Harcourt is a positive step to wealth creation, empowerment, skill acquisition as well as creating unprecedented job opportunities thereby reducing unemployment syndrome among the youth.

Chief Chidiac Francois CEO, R & S Lotto; presented the final paper titled “The Lottery Business Experience and Industry Characteristics”.

This was a practical speech in respect to the industry were he said that the industry is lucrative with benefits untapped, but the regulators should work on the moral challenges and wrong perceptions bordering on the practice as immoral activity as well as in-appropriate regulation to sanitize this sector of the economy.

In conclusion, Chief Chidiac, urged the Commission to resolve conflicting regulatory strategies with other regulatory bodies.  He also applauded the Commission on the steps so far taken to acquaint the law enforcement agencies on lottery. He further pledged his company's support to partner with the Commission on lottery education and awareness.

Live Draw

A live lotto draw was organized by R & S Lotto the major sponsor of the forum to showcase the transparency and accountability in Nigerian Lottery Games. Participants were asked to predict 5 numbers from 1-90. A special Lotto draw machine was used to select the 5 winning numbers ( 5, 8,11,70 & 90 ) in which 5 persons who matched 2 of the 5 numbers won N12,000.00 each ( Stephen Ofugbe, Anwuri Agi Ottio , Arukusi Ojanomare, Eke M.J, Fredrick and Mr Ike ), and later two Star prizes of N25,000.00 was also won by 2 participants ( Mr Paul Isa Moses & Mr. Andrew.)

Event Roundup

The participants were given the opportunity to contribute and ask questions. Each contribution was acknowledged and the various questions were adequately responded to by the speakers and other members of the discussion panel.

During the reading and adoption of the Communiqué, the Director-General, conferred honorary title of National Lottery Ambassador on HRM King Diongoli Okpoitari (Opu-Okun IV Ibedaowei Kingdom), Chairman of the occasion and HRM Nwadighi Macstephen Adienbo (Olalima of Emago Kugbo - River - state)