PHYSICAL DISTANCING: DG Lottery Commission Charges Operators on Innovation

DG Lottery Commission Charges Operators on Innovation(pic: DG-NLRC in video Conference meeting with Operators)

By: Magnus Ekechukwu

In compliance with the physical distancing protocol of the COVID-19 response, the Director-General National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Lanre Gbajabiamila has charged Nigerian lottery operators to brace up to challenges of the Covid-19 era and get more innovative in their operations.

Mr. Gbajabiamila gave this advice in his Abuja office while conducting his maiden virtual meeting with lottery operators across the nation. He said the meeting became necessary in order to have a better understanding of the challenges being faced by operators, with a view to identifying ways through which these challenges could be tackled. “Commission is aware of the impact of Covid-19 on businesses across the world. We thought it was important to identify other creative ways of getting together while adhering to the Social/Physical Distancing protocols of this pandemic era. We want to hear first-hand, some of the challenges you are facing, so as to have a better understanding of how best to chart new directions” he said.

He assured the operators that their challenges, as well as requests, would be properly attended to and presented to the Federal Government for necessary action. He further expressed the Commission’s willingness to collaborate with other government agencies, such as the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, etc to ensure the Lottery industry does not suffer any undue setback during and after this pandemic period.

In their respective responses, the issue of business downturn featured prominently in the speech of every operator. Everyone who spoke also highlighted the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown on their businesses. They said due to the physical distancing guidelines as well as the movement restrictions arising from the lockdown, access to their Point of Sales (POS) terminals was restricted; a situation which has left most of their operations grounded

The operators unanimously expressed their resolve to migrate fully to online operations as a means of tackling the effects of physical distancing on their POS terminals as it affects their overall business. “Online operation, using the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes is the major innovation all of us are considering right now because POS terminals are no longer realistic, as far as physical distancing is to be maintained” one of the operators stated.

The operators asked for special concessions by Government such as remittance waivers, subscription waivers as well as a generous financial bail-out; in order to revive the industry and make it viable again.

They strongly urged the NLRC Management to find a lasting solution to the challenges of constant rivalry between states and federal regulators

The operators who were visibly excited about the meeting applauded the NLRC DG and Management for pioneering the virtual meeting, adding that the gain of such initiative could not be overemphasized. They called for more frequent similar meetings since according to them it would help resolve issues early in a more cost-effective manner.