By Emmanuel Elebeke & Samuel Ujah
The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) says it has remitted over N5 billion to the National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) in the past 10 years of its operation for execution of people oriented projects.
The Director General of the Commission, Mr. Adolphus Ekpe, disclosed this yesterday, during the 2015 Lottery Achievers Award, to mark the 10th year anniversary of lottery regulation in Nigeria held in Abuja.
Ekpe told the audience that the figure was made possible despite the daunting challenges and misconception the Commission had gone through beginning from 2005, when lottery regulation and lottery industry were not known and appreciated by the Nigerian public.
‘‘So far, over N5 billion has been remitted to the NLTF for the execution of good causes projects. This was possible, though with stark reality of educating the people about what lottery truly represents.
‘‘The general public was hardly aware of the existence of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission or its sister agency, the National Lottery Trust Fund in 2005. Even after five years, public perception of lottery was negative and viewed as a venture not for decent members of the society, as it was equated more with gambling,’’ said Ekpe.
Confronted with this stark reality, the DG disclosed that the Commission embarked on aggressive nationwide enlightenment, sensitization and rebranding campaigns to change the negative perception of lottery across the country, which is considered as a viable revenue source to the economy.
‘‘We are happy to note that all the enlightenment efforts have helped in changing the perception of the general public today towards lottery business as a tool for national development,’’ he explained.
In addition to this, the NLRC henchman also stated that the Commission been able to record other milestones in the area of job creation by increasing its work force from 11 in 20015 to 1500 in 2015 in line with government’s employment agenda.
He also stated that the Commission had expanded into 14 states across the country and further granted 20 licenses to different indigenous firms with a mandate to run the business of national lottery in Nigeria.
To achieve effective and efficient monitoring and regulation of all lottery activities, the NLRC boss said the Commission had singed memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Police, Economic and Financial Crime Commission and the Nigeria Communications Commission to combat illegal lottery operators.
For the NLRC to realize its full potential as a viable source of revenue generation that can impact the GDP significantly, he said the Commission had concluded plans to commence the automation of the monitoring and regulation of lottery in Nigeria, become the highest revenue generating agency in the country, secure enhanced salary package for its staff and move into its own office complex.
This he said is part of four four-point agenda of the Commission aimed at taking national lottery to enviable level.
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the 10th Anniversary committee, Barr. Henry Uwadiae said the Commission was not unmindful of the potentials of lottery as a great revenue earner for the government and a potent means of infrastructural development and wealth distribution.
‘‘We have been able to educate, conscientize and disabuse public misconceptions that lottery is an honest business regulated in over 130 countries of the world to boost national economic development.
‘‘From a humble beginning in 2005, the National Lottery Commission has been able to bring lottery from the seeming obscurity to national limelight, contributing modestly to national good causes.’’
However, Uwadiae said much can be achieved if the enabling environment is created and lottery is done the right way in Nigeria.
According to him, the event was meant to review, appraise progress and appreciate the contributions of individuals, corporate organizations and stakeholders to the growth and development of lottery business in Nigeria.
He urged the award recipients to see their recognition as a clarion call for higher synergy and collaboration with the NLC in its quest to make lottery business attractive to be able to generate handsome revenue to contribute significantly to national development.
While making case for adoption of lottery as a major revenue source to the economy, Uwadiae appealed to all Nigerians to support the various initiatives by government through NLC to sanitize the lottery industry and clear the coast of illegal operators.
‘‘We must all unite together against scammers who are unrelenting in giving lottery a bad name. It is only when lottery is done with integrity that the much expected participation and by extension, revenue would be guaranteed.
‘‘We are also not unaware of the deep-rooted and huge misconceptions and negative social cultural and religious perceptions inhibiting the optimal realization of the potentials of lottery in Nigeria.
The various activities of the anniversary from the awareness road walk to the stakeholders conference and lottery exhibition, focused on how to reposition the lottery industry, turn the human capital of the nation into an economic asset, with an annual revenue yield amounting to billions of naira,’’ he added.
The theme of the 10th year anniversary is: Repositioning the Lottery Regulation in Nigeria for National Development.
Highlight of the event was presentation of awards to different recipients.
The award was classified in six categories of staff; media; meritorious service; post humous; promotes and licensees awards.