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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
Ala.

“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
State.”

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
minister”.

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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
year.

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
judiciary.

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
Abuja.

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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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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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
treasury.

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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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
communities.

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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)

articleoffaith@234next.com

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Sound journeys of the lost and found

Sound journeys of the lost and found

The 16-track debut
by U’mau, a female musician of Nigerian origin, offers a reflective
collection of songs buoyed up by effervescent instrumental sounds that
borrow boldly from folk, jazz, calypso, Afrobeat, makossa, country and
highlife.

‘Sound Journeys of
the Lost and Found’ is a meticulously presented dose of refined talent
from this guitar-wielding, Goldsmith College University-trained
musician. Groovy percussion openings welcome one to sounds that,
according to the artist, “chronicle an internal journey most will
identify with.” And she is quite right, as with intuitive themes like
love, freedom, world peace, nature and spirituality, she provides music
that speaks directly to every idealist.

Soul fusion

Her message is
“There is a light!” Her music, according to her, is “an expression of
me,” made to encourage others in times of despair while also
celebrating “the good things in life and culture.” Songs like “This
Bird Has Flown”, “No Fear”, “Opportunity’s Call” and “Your Groove”
encourage a profound introspection only comparable to the soulful
lyrics of Asa.

But where Asa can
be labelled soul, U’mau is a bit of a conundrum, having created a
fusion of sounds from a melange of influences from Nigeria, Liberia,
Cameroun, Canada, Spain and Russia – places that she has called home at
different points in her life; as well as the heart of the Caribbean.
She however successfully betrays no particular identification with any
of these cultures, effectively promoting an identity of
“boundary-absent” universalist.

Her producer, Femi
Temowo, employs an array of contemporary, orchestral and native sounds
produced by a 15-member band to create vibes that bound along
energetically – contrasting interestingly with, while also keeping time
to and livening up her profound libretto.

More than the
vocal performances it carries, the instrumental sound engineering on
‘Sound Journeys’ is impeccable, an undeniable strength of this album.
And one is drawn in from the first vibrant calypso/highlife strains of
“Might as Well” until the last track, “My People”, on which U’mau
finally concedes a tribal influence, rendering some parts in Efik- a
doffing of her hat to the Efik highlife flavour of Inyang Henshaw,
which the singer says is an acquired taste from her father’s “broad
musical palette.”

Lowlights

Umau’s mellow
tones are a gentle accompaniment to the instrumental sounds, but as one
listens, one begins to hope for a stronger or more adventurous vocal
effort. The album instead draws to a close without this.

U’mau calls her
style ‘alternative fusion’. However, it could have benefitted from
collaborations with a few musicians or an employment of a greater
variety of vocal tones beyond only backup choruses. Also, while the
sound is engaging, the music seems, nonetheless, reigned-in and
tailored specifically to contemplative listenership. One or two
danceable tracks would have shaken things up and added much in terms of
style variety.

One hopes that
U’mau will employ more of the boldness she has exhibited with the
instrumental sounds of this debut in the style and vocal output of her
sophomore effort.

The album is available for purchase on iTunes

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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.

The
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
preparation.

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
country.”

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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Defining Nigerian popular music

Defining Nigerian popular music

In the run-up to
planned celebrations of the arts and culture sector of Nigeria, 50
years after her independence in 1960, there was public discourse
instigated by academia as to where the timeline should fall in
identifying any art form as Nigerian. Quasi-academic arguments proposed
that ‘Proto-Nigeria’ become the designated term for art forms and
genres that were developed before Nigeria was officially declared one
country by the colonial administrators in 1914.

By this
definition, it was argued, the Benin bronzes, Igbo Uku and Nok
terracotta, as well as the photography of Jonathan Adagogo Green in the
1890s, did not qualify as milestones in defining and celebrating art
forms and genres that can truly be categorised as Nigerian. All the
same, at the risk of incurring the academic wrath of the progenitors of
this school of thought, I will attempt a preliminary examination of the
roots and development of Nigerian contemporary popular music.

Nigerian folk
music, which evolved to create and shape Nigerian contemporary popular
music, is a much older genre of music than Nigeria itself. Folk, or
indigenous traditional vocal and instrumental, music predates the
British colonial efforts to create the geographical territory now known
as Nigeria. Interactions and manipulations within the colonial process
resulted in creating regional and national centres for administration
and commerce. The drift from rural areas to these new centres in turn
created a new urban culture and music that can best be described as a
melting pot of various indigenous rhythms and folk tunes. Out of this
mix came highlife, which is unquestionably Nigeria’s first genre of
contemporary popular music.

In his interview
(published in 2005) with the then 86-year-old Ambrose Campbell, the
producer of the very seminal ‘Highlife My Life’ project, Osaze Iyamu,
asked Campbell about the roots of Nigeria’s urban music. “There was
juju music with Tunde King,” Campbell explained, “and then by 1939
Ibos, Itsekiris, Liberians (crew sailors) and we the Yorubas, the Lagos
boys, brought our own kind of song and they their own kind of song; we
used to jam together.”

Not surprisingly,
right from the beginning, there were noticeable varieties of flavours
and inflections of highlife music, characterized by the indigenous
culture and folklore of the particular musicians. It was no wonder then
that the first generation of Nigerian highlife musicians sang in their
indigenous languages as well as incorporating their indigenous rhythms.

According to the
late great musicologist and creative activist, Steve Rhodes, it was
this recognisable variety that distinguished Nigerian highlife as an
original, diverse and very creative genre of contemporary popular
music. The pioneer giants of highlife as a recognisable independent
genre of popular music who best exhibited these traits, not in order of
chronology or creative competence, were Victor Olaiya, E.C. Arinze and
Rex Lawson.

Origin of Highlife

But then was
highlife, per se, a solely Nigerian musical phenomenon? Benson Idonije,
Nigeria’s foremost researcher and radio presenter of early contemporary
popular music, has a satisfying take on the origin and creative roots
of highlife.

“Highlife, the
first fusion of West African indigenous music with western forms,”
Idonije explains, “is the sub-region’s popular form of music. Some
claim that it originated from Ghana; others say it was introduced by
sailors and crew men from Sierra Leone (and Liberia). The most credible
view is that highlife has been in Nigeria long before E.T. Mensah of
the Tempos Band introduced the Ghanaian version to Nigeria in 1952.”

Idonije cites
“King, Denge and Ambrose Campbell, Sam Akpabot and others from the
post-World War II eras as the Nigerians who fashioned Nigerian highlife
before Mensah. However, Bobby Benson was the first to create the
Nigerian highlife alternative and parallel.”

Bobby Benson,
musician, show business-man and hotelier, can be regarded as the father
of Nigerian contemporary popular music. His full ‘big band’ orchestra,
which played a variety of music from chacha to rumba, a bit of
jitterbug/jazz and of course highlife, was the training ground for many
musicians, including trumpeter Zeal Onyia and saxophonist Babyface
Paul. Benson’s (and Nigeria’s) first highlife megahit ‘Taxi Driver’
(1954) was a reaction to scorned love: “…if you marry taxi driver/I
don’t care.” Bobby Benson himself became the butt of another popular
highlife song in Yoruba, “Bobby has bought a car/but he has not bought
a house/There is no never-do-well like Bobby!”

Variants

Victor Olaiya, the
trumpeter, epitomised Yoruba highlife, though he was brought up in
Onitsha and speaks good Igbo. He introduced the drone-guitar effect as
played by Akanni, and his early hits include ‘Kusimilaya’ (Die on my
chest/breast) E.C. Arinze, also a trumpeter, epitomised Ibo highlife
and became legendary for his hits, ‘Nike Nike’ and ‘It’s Time for
Highlife’. Rex Lawson, an Ijaw trumpeter, took highlife to its golden
age, achieving national and international fame although he sang mostly
in the minority Ijaw language. Lawson introduced the three-membrane
Ijaw masquerade drum into highlife and the use of two electric guitars,
trends which were later adopted by other highlife and Afrobeat
musicians like Fela. Lawson’s numerous hits include ‘Love Adure’,
‘Yellow Sisi’ and ‘Jolly Papa’.

Yoruba highlife
musicians, naturally, introduced the talking drums. Popular
‘second-generation’ highlife musicians include Eddy Okonta, Crossdale
Juba, Roy Chicago, Adeolu Akinsanya, Erasmus Jenewari, Sonny Brown,
Apollos Fiberesima and a host of individualists and innovators.

Bala Miller, from
Kaduna North, and the Sahara Dance Band, based in Jos, were some of the
prominent bands in that sector. Mention must be made of Ralph Amarabem,
guitarist and leader of the Aba-based Peacocks who produced the
all-time hit ‘Eddy Kwansa’.

It would appear
that the vogue then was to have highlife bands led by
trumpeters/singers. Trumpeters Zeal Onyia (in whose early band Osita
Osadebe cut his musical teeth as a singer), Vicky Yemu Afumu (Vicky
give me my half-penny), Eddy Okonta (Bisi), Roy Chicago, Apollos
Fiberesima, and Sonny Brown were some of such leaders. It also became
fashionable for highlife musicians to sing in their indigenous
languages as well as in English, particularly Pidgin English, in a bid
to reach wider audiences as highlife gained prominence and acceptance
across Nigeria. Inyang Henshaw was proficient singing in both Efik and
English and set the tone for Etubom Williams and other musicians from
the Cross River axis.

Innovators

Victor Uwaifo and
Celestine Ukwu are two highlife musicians whose innovative use of the
guitar and xylophone, respectively, revolutionarily changed the sound
of highlife. Historically, Sam Akpabot had used the xylophone earlier
but the instrument became Ukwu’s trademark signature. Uwaifo remains
Nigeria’s first and true master guitarist and he has incredibly
creative and fluid, lengthy guitar solos on ‘Joromi’ and ‘Guitar Boy’
to convince any doubters. Celestine Ukwu, the xylophonist and
philosopher, remains legendary for his ‘Ijenu’.

Eric Akaeze
(Ayolo), Orlando Owoh (Canary), Price David Bull and his Seagulls,
General Boliva, Saint Augustine (Asewo no be work/na management) all
deserve recognition for their contributions to developing and
sustaining highlife music.

For many of the
same reasons, Nigeria’s highlife music deserves a comprehensive and
well-edited book of lyrics, much like Sam Charters’ famous book,
‘Poetry of the Blues’, published in the 1960s. Socio-political
commentary, sarcasm, humour, veiled abuse, sweet nothings, plain good
advice, doses of ego-tripping and macho posturing, and the intricate
emotions of love and relationships have all been addressed in
indigenous and English languages in over 50 years of highlife music.
Highlife has also had its rude boys like Reggae’s Max Romeo.

The puzzle is: how come the high-class/highlife music to which
Nkrumah and Balewa danced at state functions for the independence of
Ghana and Nigeria respectively, tumbled socially and dramatically to
become the low-class music of dingy ghetto nightclubs and dives? Is
highlife dead and buried? Idonije, who postulates that “highlife
stopped evolving in all directions in the mid-60s,” also offers a
lifeline. “Highlife music,” he says, “has become Nigeria’s basic
popular music form from which creative musicians can tap into other
perspectives.”

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