A member of the House of Representatives representing Ekiti North Federal Constituency from 2011 to 2015, Mr Daramola Abimbola Oluwafemi, is the Managing Director of The Bridge Concepts Nigeria Limited. The company has come up with a scheme entitled Nigerian Students and Youth Corpers’ Discount Card, which enables student-holders of the card to purchase a wide-range of items from designated business concerns at a discounted rate. In this interview, Oluwafemi explains the concept and how it works
What’s the idea behind the Nigerian Students and Youth Corps Members Discount Card project?
The idea behind it is to respond to the prevailing economic realities in this country. Everybody knows that our country is going through a very tough time right now. There are basic economic realities that nobody can run away from. There are job losses, pay cuts, unemployment and shrinking income. Where income is not shrinking, the purchasing power is shrinking. These are the features of our economic reality. We realize that the most vulnerable demography out of the estimated 170 million Nigerians are the youths, the ones in higher institutions and those on the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme. As a result of the economic downturn, parents can no longer provide the kind of funds needed to sustain their kids at school, in spite of the fact that the expenses the students are exposed to have not reduced. How do you help the students to ensure they keep afloat in spite of the dwindling resources from their parents or sponsors? To answer this question, we’ve come up with an integrated platform that can allow them to access virtually any kind of expenditure they make. Our partnerswill provide discount on goods and services that are patronized by these students. The items affected are all-embracing, from food and transportation, entertainment to health. At the base of all the agitations by university students are economic realities. Our platform will mitigate their economic problems, and we are encouraging students to take advantage of our platform to benefit from the special discounts our partners will provide for students who patronize them.
What is the procedure of coming on this platform?
First and foremost, beneficiaries must be students or NYSC members. Only tertiary institutions or NYSC can validate one as a student or corps members. Therefore, we work hand-in-hand with the Students Affairs Departments of higher institutions to validate the personal details of student-beneficiaries. After this, students will be issued the card which they can present at our partners’ business centres when they make purchases in order to enjoy the discount. If anyone on the platform wants to make purchases, he sends a code via his mobile phone with a query on where he or she could use his student discount card to make such purchases. There will be an instant response, detailing the address of the outfit where the items could be purchased at ‘students discount’ in that locality. The student will enjoy the discount upon presentation of the card. The card is not biometric but it has security features, the photograph of the holder, where the holder was registered, etc.
How are we sure that your so-called partners are ready to sell items to students at a discount?
First of all, we have a partnership commitment certificate that they have signed willingly. For now, they are giving discounts that they can afford. Ordinarily, if you walk into a shop, you can negotiate the price of whatever item you intend to purchase. Now, with this platform, our partners give discounts for two reasons. First, it is part of their corporate social responsibility. Secondly, it directs traffic to them.
This project will be of benefit to students who live in big cities. What happens to those in rural tertiary institutions?
This may not be a serious problem because people now shop online. That takes off the complaint of the location of the shop and where the student is making his purchases. One can stay in Ado Ekiti and buy sunglasses from Jumia or Konga. In addition to this, around the universities or higher institutions, we have corporate partners. For instance, in Ado Ekiti, there is ToluPatal who provides 5 per cent discount off pharmaceutical drugs. There is also the Mother & Child Hospital where, on presentation of this card students can be treated of malaria, common cold and other common illnesses at a discount. If you travel by Kwara Express from Akure to Offa and you hold this card, the transport company will reduce your fare by N500. Offa is not Lagos.
Where in the world has a similar project succeeded?
It is working in Ghana. It is working in the United Kingdom, United States and several other countries.
What government agencies are you collaborating with?
We are collaborating with NYSC. We’ve met the Director-General and he’s inclined to it. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors have also endorsed this project.