Archive for nigeriang

New research park for Africa next year

New research park for Africa next year

Research Park for Africa, a facility to help countries tackle
pests and diseases, established by the International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture will open for operations in June next year, the institute’s
Director-General has said.

Peter Hartmann said this at the fifth reunion with former IITA
staff in Bali, Indonesia. Mr. Hartmann noted that Innovation Africa TM
(Research Park for Africa) was created last year to help capture more
scientific synergy.

“The physical facilities should be ready by June 2012,” Mr.
Hartmann said. “We are building a coalition of three centres to serve Africa’s
crop needs.”

The research park is one of the few things the Ibadan-based IITA
is doing to diversify its support base.

“We are working on a Pan-African wide instrument to help nations
tackle biological threats (pests and diseases), he added.

“We are producing more commercial products. We have just
released AflaSafe against Aflatoxins. The Gates Foundation is helping us seek
firms to produce it commercially. We are clustering IITA scientists in fewer
locations (hubs), so we can support them better. In short, we are investing in
IITA’s future,” he explained.

Very stable institute

According to the latest Impact by the Science Council of
Assessment of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
(CGIAR), about 70 per cent of the impact by the (CGIAR) in Africa is said to
come from research outputs by the IITA.

The 2007 assessment, which is still the latest, notes that the
value of the impact/benefit was greater than the total CGIAR investment in
African since 1971.

“That is something to be really proud of,” Mr. Hartmann said.

He added that 60 per cent of the maize grown in West and Central
Africa today comes from IITA varieties. The director general also noted that
IITA had remained a very stable institute.

“It goes for nothing sexy and does not play the latest fashion
game. It does the basic, steadily and consistently. That is its force. This
works,” he said.

Mr Hartmann added that the success being recorded by the
institute was a result of the commitment and foundation laid by its former
staff. He said the present management never reinvented the wheel.

“We did not have to undo anything. We just had to build on what
you all had built. So it was enjoyable,” he said.

Members of the alumni group expressed gratitude to Mr Hartmann’s
presence and efforts in keeping the flag flying at IITA.

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Bauchi governor promises end to communal clashes

Bauchi governor promises end to communal clashes

Bauchi State
Governor, Isa Yuguda, has vowed that his administration would ensure
that peace returned to the state, saying anyone causing disunity would
not be spared no matter how highly placed they may be.

Mr Yuguda made the
promise while speaking at the Government House during the submission of
a draft white paper and report of the committee on the review of the
reports of Babalakin, Shehu Awak and Bala Umar commissions and
committees on the Tafawa Balewa civil disturbances.

“Government will
immediately study the report and implement all the recommendations
therein with little or no amendments whatsoever,” he said.

“However, where we
need to adjust we will not hesitate to do so, but with your inputs. All
we are after is that peace must return to that area. We have had enough
bloodletting and wanton destruction of lives and properties.” He added
that government would ensure that a peace dialogue was held in the area
to heal all wounds and foster the spirit of forgiveness and oneness.

He described the
last post-election violence, which claimed many innocent lives,
including those of ten youth corps members who were in the state on
national assignment, as regrettable. He said his administration would
not allow any breach of peace in the state again.

“We will focus on
effective security and protection of lives and properties of the people
of the state so as to be able to provide more democratic dividends for
them,” he said.

The chairperson of
the committee, Ibrahim Sabo, disclosed that his committee was able to
engage all the feuding communities in a three-day interactive session,
which he said helped tremendously in closing up the numerous grounds of
disagreement between them.

He said the session
was facilitated by Muhammad Nurayn Ashafa and James Movel Wuye of the
of the Interfaith Mediation Centre in Kaduna, after which a Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) on cementing a wide range of peace commitments
between the various peoples of the area was signed by 60 individuals
invited to the sessions.

He also advised the
governor to retain the services of Messrs Ashafa and Wuye, and to also
bring the various peoples of the troubled Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro
local councils together to a public peace declaration on the basis of
the MOU.

He also encouraged
the governor to remain resolute even in the face of sabotage and the
willful actions of detractors to challenge his will to restore peace to
the areas.

“The laudable
initiative of the government that led to the formation of the committee
to review past reports on the lingering crises is highly commendable,”
he said.

The governor, last February, constituted the committee to recommend
to government the best way to solve the problem afflicting the

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Oyo ACN warns Alao-Akala government against looting

Oyo ACN warns Alao-Akala government against looting

Yet again, the Oyo State governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala, and his
aides have been warned against embarking on last-minute looting of the state’s

The Oyo State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN),
whose candidate won the last governorship election in the state, issued the
latest caution in a statement signed by its secretary, Wasiu Olatunbosun.

The party’s statement followed an earlier one raised by Yanju
Adegbite, spokesperson for Abiola Ajimobi, the Oyo State governor-elect.

Though the government had on several occasions assured the
incoming administration of the safety of the treasury, circumstances
surrounding the allegation of threat to life raised by Babalola Owolabi, the
state commissioner for health, gives seeming credence to the suspicion.

After surviving an attack two weeks ago, Mr Owolabi accused some
unnamed colleagues in the state cabinet of plotting to kill him. Among reasons
adduced for the alleged attempt on his life were his alleged uncomplimentary
comments on the governor’s role in the unimpressive performance of the party at
the last election, as well as his refusal to allow some of his fellow
commissioners to use his ministry to embark on last-minute treasury looting.

“It is to the knowledge of the public that the outgoing
administration of Governor Alao-Akala will go down in the history of Oyo State
as the most corrupt ever, but events in the last few days have indicated that
there is a grand plan to completely ground the state and ensure that the
incoming administration does not succeed,” the ACN said.

“Our party has been inundated with various reports of illegal
withdrawals from state bank accounts, diversion of fertiliser stock, conversion
of public properties to private assets, increased sponsorship of foreign trips
for political office holders and ‘cooperating’ career officers, among other
illegal activities capable of milking the state dry at all costs.”

Wild goose chase

The party warned top civil servants in the state as well as
senior managers of banks in charge of the state’s accounts to “steer clear of
any questionable order and/or arrangement aimed at stealing public funds
further as culprits and their accomplices shall be made to face the full wrath
of the law sooner than expected.”

But Dotun Oyelade, Governor Alao-Akala’s spokesperson, described
the allegation as frivolous and baseless. “Why is the party fretting over
‘illegal’ withdrawal of funds while it conveniently keeps quiet over various
monies being paid into government accounts each day? This government will run
and perform its duties till May 28,” he said.

“On the issue of fertilisers, the ACN again dwelled on half
information. Government attention was drawn to a fertiliser purchase that was
unpaid. The swift intervention of the government now ensured that a balance of
N8 million will be paid into government coffers by Wednesday and 248 bags
returned to government warehouse. No government property has been personalised
and the incoming administration needs not get too excited until it gets to
power two weeks from now, after which it will be at liberty to go on a wild
goose chase.”

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Rights group chides police over missing ‘informant’

Rights group chides police over missing ‘informant’

A leading human rights group has raised alarm over the
whereabouts of Aliyu Tasheku, suspected to have been an informant to the State
Security Service and whom the Nigeria Police have detained since October last

In a worldwide alert, Amnesty International, an international
human rights organisation, said Mr. Tasheku, who was transferred on May 4, 2011
from the police Force Criminal Investigations Department in Area 10, Garki,
Abuja to Maiduguri, Borno State, is being held in “incommunicado detention”, a
sign that “he may be at risk of extrajudicial execution”.

“On 12 May human rights defenders enquiring about Aliyu Tasheku
were told by police at GRA police station [in Maiduguri] that he was no longer
there,” read a petition from the organisation.

“The police refused to disclose his whereabouts, saying only
that he had been “taken to an unknown place.

“Aliyu Tasheku is being denied access to anyone outside his
place of detention, including his lawyers, doctor, family or friends.”

The organisation is also asking the Inspector General of Police,
Hafiz Ringim, to respect the ruling of a Chief Magistrate Court given in Abuja
on March 28, 2011, which ordered Mr. Tasheku’s release.

Police might

It is now eight months since Mr. Tasheku has being locked up.
This is despite Binta Mohammed, presiding over Chief Magistrate Court one in
Abuja, summoning Mr. Ringim to appear before the court to explain why he should
not be committed to prison for disobeying the court’s order.

The Police boss, along with two other junior police officers,
Ezekiel Rimans and Bala Inusa of the Police legal department, ignored several
prior notices and neither released Mr. Tasheku on bail nor did they remand him
in Prison custody as the court ordered.

But a look at Police contempt for the judiciary shows that Mr.
Ringim is only towing the line of others who have gone before him.

In the past 12 years since the return to civil rule in 1999, the
Nigeria Police has had six Inspectors General of Police who have, on several
occasions, disobeyed court orders and detained Nigerians for endless months.

Reports of numerous cases of contempt of court have trailed
Nigeria’s number one law enforcement agency. From Musiliu Smith (1999-2002),
Mustafa Balogun (2002-2005), Sunday Ehindero (2005-2007), Mike Okiro
(2007-2009), Ogbonna Onovo (2009-2010), to the current Inspector General of
Police, Hafiz Ringim, Nigeria is yet to produce an exemplary officer after the
heart of the judiciary.

The worst of the lot

Undoubtedly, the police head with the worst record to is Ogbonna
Onovo, Nigeria’s 14th indigenous police boss and the one with the shortest stay
in office.

Mr. Onovo, at different times within his 14 months in office,
had multiple petitions written against him over his disregard for the

Arguably the most celebrated case is that of Olukayode Adeniyi,
an Abuja High Court judge, who on August 30, 2010 ordered the immediate arrest
and committal to prison of Mr. Onovo for severally disobeying the court’s order
to release Onyebuchi Eze, a police corporal who, with two other suspects,
Austin Duru and Kenneth Chikure, had been in police detention for several
months on allegations of kidnapping and armed robbery in Anambra State.

Mr. Onovo’s travails culminated in his appointment being
terminated by President Goodluck Jonathan a week later, on September 8, 2010.

But Mr. Onovo just lived up to the pattern of abuse of his
predecessor. In at least two separate instances, Mr. Okiro had disobeyed orders
given by Suleiman Belgore, an Abuja High Court judge; and David Ochimana of a
Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja.

On April 17, 2008, Mr Belgore had ordered Mr. Okiro to release
N50m and other property seized from Kogi businessman, Isah Manfred. The order
was ignored even after the Attorney General of the Federation, Michael
Aondoakaa, in a letter dated April 28, asked Mr. Okiro to obey the court. Four months
later in August, Mr. Belgore summoned the erring IG to answer why he should not
be committed to prison for his flagrant disobedience.

Similarly, at the Magistrate Court on October 9, 2008, Mike
Ozekhome, counsel to Kenny Martins and Ibrahim Dumuje, both of the Police
Equipment Foundation, had asked Mr. Ochimana to commit Mr. Okiro to prison for
repeatedly disobeying the court’s order mandating the police to allow his
clients access to the organisation’s vehicles parked at the National Stadium in

Mr. Okiro however got away with his antics under late President
Umar Yar’Adua who appointed him and kept him till he attained the compulsory
retiring age of 60 years.

Before Mr. Okiro, there was Sunday Ehindero, who though a lawyer
by training, also paved the way for the judiciary to be looked down upon.

Mr. Ehindero had refused to obey an August 10, 2005 order of a
Federal High Court judge, Abimbola Ogie, asking the Police to enforce the
receivership of Pacers Multi Dynamics Ltd, a subsidiary of Sanderson Venture
located in Ikeja, Lagos, in favour of Universal Trust Bank which was owed over
N1 Billion.

Two months later, on October 20, Mr. Ehindero is reported to
have stated the police would no longer obey court orders to enforce
receivership of companies.

Also on May 30, 2006, Mr. Ehindero was summoned before Stephen
Adah of the Federal High Court in Abuja to defend himself on why he should not
be committed to prison for disobeying the court order given a month earlier to
allow Al-Mustapha Jokolo, the deposed Emir of Gwandu in Kebbi State who was
banished to Nassarawa State, receive medical attention at the national hospital
as well as to produce him before the court.

Mr. Ehindero’s end as IG was however better than that of his
predecessor, Mustafa Balogun, the ex-convict IG who was found guilty of
embezzling billions of Naira in Police funds.

On March 21, 2002 a London based construction company, Aspen
Bridges Limited, had prayed a Federal High Court in Abuja to commit Mr. Balogun
and the Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi, to prison for refusing
to obey a Lagos State High Court judgment ordering the IG, the AGF and the
Police Service Commission to pay the company about N576.7 million arising from
the construction of over 300 police housing units across the country.

Smith led the way

But leading the fold of contemptuous Inspectors General since
the inception of democracy is Musiliu Smith. He set the pace for others after
him to flout court orders.

In late July 2001, legal icon Rotimi Williams on behalf of 26
Toll operators asked Justice Abubakar Jega of a Federal High Court in Lagos to
commit Mr. Smith, and Minister of Works and Housing, Tony Anenih, to prison for
refusing to obey the court’s January 22, 2001 order restricting them from
seizing 15 toll plazas across the country belonging to private operators who
had won contracts to manage them.

Mr. Jega, who chided the continued contempt of the court by the
agents of government, had said then: “a government which came through the rule
of law, under a democracy should not be seen as the one to undermine it.

“It is also the duty of the court to intervene where it appeared
might is used to defeat right.”

Sadly though, 12 years on, the head of the country’s
constitutionally empowered law enforcement agency has still not got it right,
as the present Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ringim is showing Nigerians.

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Vote of no confidence in Ohakim

Vote of no confidence in Ohakim

A pressure group in
Imo state, the League of Okigwe Professionals (LOP), have advised
President Goodluck Jonathan not to appoint the outgoing governor of Imo
State, Ikedi Ohakim as a minister in his cabinet.

In Owerri at the
weekend, the group said after Mr Ohakim’s defeat in the recent
governorship election as a result of perceived non-performance and
greed, the governor should leave public office for a while.

Leaders of the
group include three religious leaders, Jerome Nwokere from Okigwe Local
Government Area (LGA), George Anyanwu from Ihitte-Uboma LGA and Jones
Umunna from Onuimo LGA. Others are Ohams Jonas, Odika Iwu and Charles

“It is curious that
Ohakim is scheming to be a minister after he had wasted the opportunity
given to him by Imo people to write his name in gold,” the group said.

They also said that
having failed to perform as a governor, there was no basis for Ohakim
to aspire to higher service at the federal level.

“It was unfortunate
that the governor, who allegedly pushed for the sack of the Interior
Minister, Emmanuel Iheanacho for losing his senatorial zone, now wants
to be rewarded by Jonathan and the PDP for losing the entire Imo

The group also said
it was also “an irony of fate” that Mr Ohakim was now seeking for a
position from Mr Jonathan, whom they said he wanted to supplant as
vice-president during the administration of the late President Umaru
Musa Yar’Adua.

“When everybody in
Nigeria was clamouring for the then Vice President Jonathan to be made
acting president to move the country forward, Ohakim hired touts and
urchins to demonstrate in support of then ailing President Yar A’dua,”
they said.

They also recalled
that in spite of pleas from the president’s wife, Patience Jonathan,
for the governor to allow legislators including Chris Anyanwu to
return, he denied them Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tickets.

The group also
blamed the defeat of the PDP in the Imo governorship election on acts
of arrogance, non-performance and betrayal of trust allegedly
perpetrated by Mr Ohakim.

“Rather than
continue to put Okigwe zone to shame, Ohakim should take a sabbatical
so that his many sins would be forgotten by Imo people with the passage
of time,” the group said.

They warned that
Okigwe and indeed Imo people will be forced to go on a protest “if Mr
President appoints Ohakim as a federal board member not to talk of a

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Diva dearest

Diva dearest

My Diva Dearest,

As I drive home, my mind is constantly
hoping you are asleep. I cannot withstand another moonlight argument. I
would rather not quicken my heart tonight; I just want to go to sleep
and wake up for work in the morning unnoticed – if possible.

Don’t bother about dinner; I already bought
myself some food. How can I forget to? I’ve been doing it for months
now. I remember the night you told me to get my own dinner. “I already
did my nails. How do you expect me to hold a knife?” you said. I really
didn’t care that you weren’t an excellent cook; it’s that you didn’t
even want to try. That is what bothered me. You sent the cook away, and
you still haven’t found the time to employ a new one. Contrary to what
you think, not everyone can survive on lime and water as you do. A
filling meal every now and then, whether you cooked or ordered it,
would be nice. But not to worry – tonight, I bought myself some food
like you said.

I hope you remembered to feed our son, that
poor boy. Last week, the nanny didn’t arrive on time. You said you
couldn’t wash his bum. “I can’t touch shit. It’s baby wipes or
nothing.” Those were your exact words. How long did it take to find the
wipes? Oh yeah! 30 minutes. After all, that’s not so long, is it? I
wonder what would have happened if there were no more wipes.

I better not forget my allergy medication
tonight. I cannot afford another congested chest. I will put it on my
to-do list: buy a new vacuum cleaner. That is the only way you know how
to clean, right? “Be grateful,” you say. At least you sweep. What are
machines for, anyway? But since the vacuum cleaner broke last week, you
haven’t swept. The dust is driving me crazy, and you know I’m allergic.
I have given you money to replace it but you still haven’t found the
time between gossiping and drinking. I will be in serious trouble if i
don’t find my pills, because I know you cannot walk to the drug store.

“My shoes aren’t made for walking” you
said. Those same shoes you broke my bank account to buy. You were ready
to let hell loose that day if I didn’t allow you get the shoes. “All
the divas have at least one pair of these red-soled heels,” you said.
You know I could never say no to you, though you conveniently didn’t
tell me then that the shoes weren’t made for walking. Of what use is a
pair of shoes you cannot walk in?

Never mind, I can have the steward get the
drugs on his way over tomorrow. That reminds me, I have decided that
this is the last time I will address this issue. When my friends come
over, the way you act has to change. I appreciate that you can be one
of the boys and hold your own with tequila shots but I disapprove of
the way you flirt with them. It embarrasses me. Honey, in case you
don’t know, they talk about it all the time, and they aren’t enticed,
they are appalled and the same goes for me.

My darling diva, your drinking ability is
no longer interesting; it has become old. Now all you do is drink and
pretend to be cleaning. Don’t worry about the chores. What do we have a
help for? I would prefer you got a job instead. I really am getting
tired of spending on those fancy jewels. You say you are into fashion –
is there no job opening for you somewhere fashionable? Or when you say
you’re into fashion, you mean all you do is buy fashion items. I enjoy
sharing my resources with you, but you never attempt to contribute. All
you do is acquire and amass. And with my hard-earned money.

It makes perfect sense now. When I married
you, I was attracted to your taste in fashion. Your poise was like no
one’s I had ever come across. You could do no wrong in my eyes. I
especially loved that you had eyes for the better things in life. What
I did not know was that you had no aspirations. All you wanted to do
was stay home and drink. You blame our son for your drinking. “He
ruined my body,” you say. “Alcohol is the only way I can fight the
depression.” At this rate, I’m sure we won’t have any other kids. Our
boy is a blessing and if you could just stop resenting him, maybe you
would see it too. That there are more important things in life than
your red-soled shoes and your diamond rings. There is love and if you
don’t have that, then you have nothing.

When you come home one day and see your
belongings neatly packed on the front porch and discover that your keys
can no longer open the locks, know that this means it is no longer all
about you.

With Love,

Your Husband

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ARTICLE OF FAITH:The gospel of the kingdom of God

ARTICLE OF FAITH:The gospel of the kingdom of God

The gospel preached
in the churches today is false. It is different from the one Jesus
preached. Today’s gospel is about Jesus dying on the cross for our
sins. But since Jesus and his disciples preached the gospel before his
death, that cannot be the true gospel.

The gospel
preached today is Paul’s gospel, “the gospel of the grace of God.”
(Acts 20:24) That gospel says: “Rejoice: Jesus died for our sins.” (1
Cor 15:1-4) But Jesus and his disciples did not say anybody would die
for our sins. They preached a gospel which said: “Repent: the kingdom
of God is at hand.” (Mk 1:15)

Paul never heard
Jesus preach. Therefore, he displays unpardonable ignorance about
Jesus’ doctrine. Bereft of references to Jesus’ teachings, Paul’s
epistles focus exclusively on his crucifixion. (1 Cor 2:2) But the good
news of the true gospel is not about Jesus’ death and resurrection. It
is about the great reward God has prepared in heaven for the righteous
as consolation for the vicissitudes of life. (Mt 5:11-12)

Life or death

Paul says: “If
Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty.” (1 Cor 15:14)
However, Jesus does not make his resurrection central to the gospel. In
one of his stories, which Paul apparently knew nothing about, Abraham
says: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be
convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Lk 16:31) Even before
Calvary, Zacchaeus received the gospel and Jesus acknowledged his
salvation. (Lk 19:8-10)

The gospel is a
call to emulate the exemplary life of Jesus. Jesus came that we may
have abundant life. (Jn 10:10) Therefore, those who followed him
originally did so because of his life. But thanks to Paul, many who
follow Jesus now do so because of bogus claims about his death.

Jesus says: “Not
everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of
heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 7:21)
Only those who do the will of God will inherit his kingdom, and not
those who believe Jesus died for their sins. (1 Cor 15:3)

Two different gospels

Christians must
reject Paul’s gospel and embrace only the gospel Jesus preached. John
warns: “Whoever does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have
God. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not
receive him.” (2 Jn 1:9-10)

The gospel of the
kingdom says eternal life is costly and not God’s gift. (Lk 14:25-33;
Rm 6:23) It is about calling sinners to repentance (Mt 9:13); and not
about the “grace of God that brings salvation.” (Tit 2:11) It is about
believers thirsting for righteousness (Mt 5:6); and not about God
justifying the ungodly. (Rm 4:5)

It is about hating
our life in this world (Jn 12:25); and not about becoming rich through
Jesus’ impoverishment. (2 Cor 8:9) It is about becoming God’s children
by doing God’s works (Mt 5:44-45); and not about faith without works.
(Eph 2:8-9)

In Jesus’ gospel,
atonement for sins is our responsibility; we choose to be saved. (Mt
16:24-25) But in Paul’s gospel, atonement is God’s responsibility; we
are predestined to salvation. (Rm 8:29-30) With Jesus, we carry our
crosses. (Mk 8:34) With Paul, Jesus carries it for everybody (Gal 6:14)

With Jesus,
forgiveness comes through repentance and the readiness to forgive
others. (Mt 6:14-15) With Paul, it comes through the redemptive blood
of Jesus by which all sinners have been forgiven all trespasses. (Col
1:14; 2:13)

With Jesus,
freedom from sin comes as we abide in his word of truth. (Jn 8:31-32)
But with Paul, Christians are automatically free from sin because we
died with Christ. (Rm 6:6-7)

Everlasting gospel

Some maintain
Paul’s gospel is a post-resurrection dispensational replacement for
Jesus’ gospel. However, Jesus said the gospel of the kingdom will be
preached as a witness to all nations until the very end. (Mt 24:14)
Jesus did not introduce Paul’s doctrine of blood-atonement on his
resurrection. His directive remained that “repentance and forgiveness
of sins” should be preached in his name.” (Lk 24:47)

In Acts, Peter
never preaches sacrifice, propitiation or blood-atonement. He never
associates Jesus’ death with the remission of sins. (Acts 2:37-38) He
said the righteousness of God comes by works. (Acts 10:34-35) However,
Paul insists God imputes righteousness discretionally apart from works.
(Rm 4:5-6)

In effect, Paul’s
gospel is false. It merely tests those who would embrace Jesus’ true
gospel. The true gospel empties the churches while the false gospel
fills them. The one offers a narrow gate and a difficult way that leads
to life; while the other offers a wide gate and a broad way that leads
to destruction. (Mt 7:13-14)

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Thrilling night of rhythms

Thrilling night of rhythms

The National Troupe
of Nigeria delivered a thrilling experience during a musical show
titled ‘Rhythms and Reminiscences’ at the National Theatre, Iganmu,
Lagos, on April 29.

Directed by music
specialists, Dapo Omideyi and Femi Ogunrombi, both graduates of the
Obafemi Awolowo University, the concert featured renditions of popular
tunes and folk songs in Efik, Ijaw and Itsekiri languages. There were
also songs from other parts of Nigeria and Ghana.

The opening
performances included traditional dances from different parts of the
country such as Igbo male dancers in leopard skin loincloths and
drummers that churned out energetic beats.

The Yoruba routine
was gay and energetic, after which the musical duo Zule Zoo, consisting
of Ibrahim and Michael, performed. However, the duo merely lip-synched
to the actual songs they performed and it was a bit of a drawback as it
paled in comparison to the vibrancy of live performance.

However, they made
up for it with a retinue of dancers, members of the National Troupe who
provided lively dances and captivating body movements in accompaniment
to the songs.

Zule Zoo performed
their popular hit “Kerewa”, complete with racy choreography. It is a
suggestive number about a woman who engages in a sexual romp with her
lover while her husband is away. The incident is narrated by the
woman’s son to her husband when he returns.

Songs of unity

After a comedy
interlude by SLK, director Omideyi and the troupe came on. ‘Aramotu’
producer and assistant director Ogunrombi played the keyboard as the
troupe rendered various numbers, including patriotic songs calling for
Nigerian unity.

well-synchronized troupe aided by a brilliant band churned out popular
tunes including popular Yoruba highlife/juju song, “Ara mi Ese Pele
Pele”; “Ene Dope, Ene Dope”, an Itsekiri number; and the late Rex
Lawson’s “Love Adure”, which sent the audience into raptures.

Curly-haired actor
and singer Bongo Lipso joined the electrifying performance of “Love
Adure” and drew shouts of delight from the audience for his act as he
moonwalked off the stage.

The well thoughtout
and rehearsed songs were brilliantly delivered by the 59-person band
comprising 48 singers, eight instrumentalists, one pianist and two
saxophonists. The beautiful lighting effects and overall stage lighting
aided the effect of the performance, which was an impressive ensemble.
The performance of the troupe was remarkable and evident of meticulous

Omideyi said in a
chat with NEXT that preparation for the concert was an eye-opener for
him and also for the troupe as they were exposed to potentials they
didn’t know they possessed.

He said, on the
choice of popular highlife tunes and folk songs for the concert, “We
wanted to go back to the olden days and perform numbers that people
could identify with and we had to do folk songs that cut across the

According to the management of the troupe, the concert which was
also staged the following day, was in fulfillment of the “promise of
the newly confirmed artistic director of the troupe, Martins Adaji, to
reinvigorate the music department.”

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Talking Nollywood at film corporation lecture

Talking Nollywood at film corporation lecture

The fourth annual
film lecture of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), titled ‘Nollywood:
Reconstructing the Historical and Socio-cultural Contexts of the
Nigerian Video Film Industry’, was delivered by the scholar and author
of ‘Modernity and African Cinema’, Femi Shaka, at the Silverbird
Galleria in Victoria Island, Lagos, on May 5.

The lecture
afforded filmmakers and others interested in the country’s movie
industry the opportunity to discuss issues pertinent to its development.

The managing
director of the NFC, Afolabi Adesanya, reiterated the importance of the
event in his welcome address, saying, “Today’s lecture provides another
opportunity to rub minds and project a formidable vision that will
enable the film industry to be second to none.” Adesanya added that
Nollywood has grown so powerful over the years, that it is now used to
reach out to people. He noted that political parties had to “woo
Nollywood” during the recently concluded 2011 general elections to
highlight how Nollywood has been used as political and social tools.

Creative dialogue

The former managing
director of the Daily Times and chair of the occasion, Onukaba
Adinoyi-Ojo, reiterated the importance of this lecture and previous
ones. He explained that each was a platform for enlightened discussions
about Nigeria’s film industry and its contributions to society.

Adinoyi-Ojo also
noted the popularity of Nollywood across the world and its power,
adding that the industry has to portray Nigeria positively. “Power
comes with responsibilities,” he said, adding that there should be “a
more rounded and balanced portrayal of Nigeria,” rather than the
distorted image given to viewers to feed on. The writer further advised
that Nollywood should “engage other cultures in creative dialogue” and
be “a true representation of our cultural heritage.”

Avenue of escape

The high point of
the day was Shaka’s lecture, which focused on the conditions that led
to the emergence of Nollywood. “There is need to reconstruct this
social history so that we don’t fall into the trap of misjudging
harshly the popular film culture,” he said.

He, however, noted
that Nollywood arose from the need to provide relief to people from the
mass poverty associated with the political instability of the 1990s.
“The people also needed some form of escape entertainment that will
make them forget, even if momentarily, the mass poverty and sufferings
in the land.”

He noted that
movies produced then reflected prevalent social ills including
prostitution, ritual killings, violence and armed robbery. “Movies that
sold during the early years of Nollywood were tales exploiting the
themes of transgressive sex and violence.”

He added, “The
genres which helped to project Nigerian culture globally include the
ritual film, the epic genre, the Christian evangelical film and the
comic genre.”

The pioneers

Shaka, who is a
professor of film at the University of Port Harcourt, also recalled
that Nollywood took off commercially in 1992 when actors like Richard
Mofe-Damijo, Pete Edochie, Clarion Chukwura and Enebeli Enebuwa from
popular television dramas like ‘Ripples’, ‘Behind The Clouds’ and
‘Fortune’ began to play roles in movies. “It’s a transfer of television
actors to movie that helped to kick-start the movie industry,” he
reiterated. Shaka added that these set of actors were instrumental to
laying a solid foundation for Nollywood and that “stars are very
important in the film industry.”

He didn’t fail to
highlight institutions instrumental to Nollywood’s growth. “This
lecture will be incomplete without mentioning MultiChoice,” he said,
while highlighting the role of the African Movie Academy Awards.

The theatre arts
graduate of the University of Benin also acknowledged the role played
by Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, in the emergence of filmmaking in
Nigeria. He noted that the drama club Soyinka established at the
University of Ibadan in 1960 has been a major contribution to theatre
arts and filmmaking in Nigeria.

The lecturer also
offered an insight into one of the major problems facing Nollywood.
“Part of the problems obstructing the growth of Nollywood is
distribution,” he said.

Imitation of life

Three panelists, Ezindu Idimah, Vivien Torbunde, and filmmaker Victor Okhai, later discussed issues raised by Shaka.

There was also an
interactive session during which Adinoyi-Ojo suggested that Nollywood
should pay attention to animation. “Our children grow up on ‘Snow
White’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Mickey Mouse’, ‘Hannah Montanna’ and ‘High
School Musical’.”

Fielding questions
from the audience, Shaka iterated that Nollywood is “a commercial
industry,” where movies are sold based on the featured stars.

On the dominant
portrayal of black magic, superstition and ritual killings that give
Nigeria a bad image, Shaka contended that filmmakers reflect what
happens in the society, hence such themes cannot be completely erased.

“It is not good
but people should not make the mistake that art is a replacement of
reality but [rather an] imitation of life,” he insisted. “It is a dream
factory. We manufacture dream, not what you are but what you want to

Shaka also allayed
fears expressed by some people in the audience that there seems to be a
clash of interests in Nollywood following the emergence of Kannywood,
the burgeoning movie industry in Kano. “Kannywood is a sub-culture of
Nollywood. As a matter of fact, all other film cultures are subdued
under Nollywood,” he said citing Ghana and, more recently, Kenya, as

“Kannywood isn’t a distraction, it is highlighting Hausa culture. which is hybrid and borrows from everywhere.”

Award winners

It wasn’t all talk
at the event, however, as two veterans of the movie industry, Ita
Isuaudono Okon and Aliyu Garba Kankara, were presented with lifetime
achievement awards.

The awards,
Adesanya noted, “Affirms that line in our national anthem that the
labours of heroes past shall never be in vain.” He added of all the
prize winners, “All these awards are in recognition of tremendous
contributions of veterans, essayists and corporate entities to the
movie industry.”

Anuli Agina, Vivien Torbunde and Jonathan Eze, the winners of the
2010/2011 NFC film essay competition, also received cash prizes and
certificates. Silverbird Distribution was given an award as Best
Nigerian Distribution Company while the Highest Box Office award was
presented to Chineze Anyaene for her movie, ‘Ije’.

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Denja Abdullahi: Poet of the city

Denja Abdullahi: Poet of the city

The notion that
writers are prophets appears true for Denja Abdullahi. Some 10 years
after he published his ‘Mairogo: A Buffoon’s Poetic Journey around
Northern Nigeria’, it is as if no change has occurred in that part of
the country.

“I don’t think
anything has changed. The north has always remained constant so most of
what I said is current. Some are predictive of what I thought will
happen in the north in future,” says the poet.

crises and oppression of the minority by the elite are some of the
issues Abdullahi uses the Yankamanci (roving poet) tradition to
highlight in the collection. The problems, he notes, have always been
present in the north and will continue unless efforts are made to
address them.

Shilashila dance

Apart from vividly
depicting northern Nigeria and predicting its future, Abdullahi also
touches on the ethnography of the region. He highlights the dances,
food, marriage practices and the history of Arewa land. One of the
seldom talked-about dances of the north he mentions is the shilashila,
an erotic dance.The artist from Kogi State discloses that, “I witnessed
the dance during the coronation of the deposed Mustapha Jokolo as Emir
of Gwandu. There was a night event on the eve of the coronation where
all the emirs from northern Nigeria gathered. It is the night during
which the emirs are entertained and many things come into the
entertainment that ordinarily would not be tolerated in the daytime or
in formal situations.

“Some people came
from Borno with the dance and it was purely an erotic dance which
ordinarily the emirs, as religious leaders, should not sit to watch.
There are sub-cultures in the north, those related to the court, and
shilashila is done at the court or on very special occasions.”

He is however
saddened by the fact that some “people are trying to suppress some of
those sub-cultures.” And that it is “why the north is culturally
deficient because Islam has suppressed many of the pre-Islamic liberal
cultures of the north. This book is in a way an attempt to rescue some
of the cultures and bring them to the fore.”

Yankama tradition

To remove the sting
from his criticisms of northern Nigeria, Abdullahi, a deputy director
of performing arts with the National Council for Arts and Culture,
Abuja, hid under an ancient northern tradition. “The Yankama tradition,
that is a wandering jester,” he begins in explanation. “You find
itinerant jesters at the market performing and saying all sorts of
things to make people laugh. People abhor unnecessary amusement in the
north; it is frowned upon because of religious inclination so the
yankama speaks truths that people laugh at. That is the tradition I
used as a trope for the work. I am able to talk about the north in a
way that is not offensive and at the same time pass some truthful

But Abdullahi’s
major motivation for writing the book is to bring the north closer to
other Nigerians. “There are things which need to be talked about
because people from other parts of the country lack information about
what is happening in the north. I feel that we must explain the north
to people in the north and those outside it.”

Though ‘Mairogo’
was published in 2001, Abdullahi started writing it in 1996 shortly
after writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by
the Sani Abacha junta. He reveals he started writing it in a bus after
an interview with Shell in Port Harcourt. “I wrote it up to the point
that I alighted from the vehicle. What made me to complete it was that
it was serialised in a magazine where I was the consulting editor.
After the serialisation got to the point where I had left it, I had to
continue and that helped me to complete it. It took me up to four years
to complete it.”

Vatsa’s influence

Abdullahi’s second
poetry collection, ‘Abuja Nunyi’ (This is Abuja), published in 2008,
arose from the British Council’s Crossing Borders project of 2006. He
chose to write on the city and his mentor Meg Peacocke didn’t object.
“Every city has its evocative nature. That’s why Lagos has been able to
generate a lot of poetry and I thought Abuja too can be written about.
Before I wrote, Abuja had generated a lot of poems. Mamman Vatsa was
here and being a poet, he was encouraged by the scenery but it’s no
longer the time of Vatsa.There are new developments: the modern Abuja,
the people, the history and towns in order to glorify the city.

“Poets have done
things about other cities. Simbo Olorunfemi did ‘Eko Ree’ on Lagos. A
soldier-poet in the tradition of Vatsa, retired colonel J.I.P. Ubah,
also wrote ‘Songs of Lokoja’. He and Vatsa were at the back of my mind
when I was doing the poems that comprise ‘Abuja Nunyi.'”

Though the poet
admits to Vatsa’s influence, he says it is “an influence in terms of
subject but not in terms of form. I responded to the Abuja of today the
way Vatsa responded to the Abuja of yesterday.”

On why he adopted
similar styles for ‘Mairogo’ and ‘Abuja Nunyi’, Abdullahi says, “I want
my poetry to be accessible. I subscribe to the tradition of Niyi
Osundare that poetry should be taken out of the classroom to the market
place. What I took away from ‘Mairogo’ to [Abuja Nunyi] is accessibilty
and showcasing different angles of the same thing. I also like to play
with humour; I believe that we should laugh at ourselves in writing.
Some of the poems in ‘Abuja Nunyi’ are on the problems of Abuja in a
way that will elicit laughter. I started it in ‘Mairogo’ and I have
also included it in ‘Abuja Nunyi’ but the forms are different.”

Unfulfilled dream

With three
collections in his kitty, Abdullahi’s joy won’t be complete until he
publishes his first manuscript, yet to see the light of the day. “It
would have been my first collection of poetry,” he discloses. “It had
been completed since 1995 but it has been suffering a lot of delays. It
has to come out because if it doesn’t, people will not know where I
started from as a poet. After it is published, I think I would have
paid my debt to poetry. I want to focus on drama as well as short

ANA politics

A past general
secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Abdullahi, who
is aspiring to become the body’s next vice president, says that he is
being persuaded to run by a group that feels ANA still needs him. He
then quickly adds that he and some others are not making a career out
of ANA as is being speculated.

“There are writers not willing to do the work some people are doing
for ANA. Nobody has prevented anybody from aspiring into an ANA
position. When you say people are making a career out of ANA, it is
that way because people are not coming forward for positions. I know a
number of Nigerian writers who want others to work for them while they
stay on the sidelines. People should stop saying some are making a
career out of ANA, they should leave their careers and come serve the

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