Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Cover, Edition 199, August 23 - 29, 2009

How old are you?

(Strictly for the young)
A friend sent me a text on my birthday last weekend. It read, “You know you are growing old when the candles are bigger than the cake”. I thought the bigger test was whether or not you were able to laugh at the joke. I half laughed, which means I am one leg in, and one leg out.

While only three people know my true age, it is fair to say I might be ticking the other side of 25. You know those boxes that give you options, which go from 21 – 25, to 36 – 40, to over 40... as if being 40 and over was some incurable disease.
Irreversible, maybe, but when did getting older become such a bore and fear?
I remember growing up and wishing I were older.
Back then, I would laugh at those who said, “A woman never reveals her age”, saying mine proudly! I thought it was silly to celebrate 21st six times... I mean! Your age didn’t matter that much did it?
Wrong! I was again.
Now I understand everything, even as I struggle with a reluctance to admit how old or young I am.
The truth is, our ages may not bother us personally, but it sure bothers society, and they are determined to put us in boxes according to our age. Not personality or ability. But age.
You can’t get into school before a certain age, you cannot work in a bank after a certain age. If you are a certain age, you should either be married, or at least, suitably upset that you are not, and when you are at a certain age, then you should face your studies, and no member of the opposite sex!

In some countries, permission to drink is granted based on age, and others determine criminal responsibility based on age. Here in Nigeria, as at when I was in Law School, anyone under the age of 7 could not be prosecuted for a crime because they were not seen by law as able to commit crimes!
For those in the entertainment, fashion and beauty industry, the rules are tighter!
‘Old’ is not when you need to line up for pension. Old is when you count in two digits from 25.
I remember a certain audition I did not go for because the person had to be under 21. I later found out half of the people who auditioned had lied about their ages, Who knows if the winner gave their real age. I realised I should have just lied jo! But I have not had cause to ... yet.
So, here I am. Grateful for the extra twelve months I marked. The new experiences learnt, the mistakes made, the pain and love shared. But worried that, I could be deemed irrelevant. Not because I no longer think or function like I used to, but because I now tick the wrong box! Poor those who attempted to find out my age. I either eyed them, or told them I was the same age as my tongue and a little older than my teeth. And the poor dude, who saw a picture of mine from last year and said I look older and less innocent now, his ear-drum must have healed by now... I hope.
In the end, I look to His word for the comfort.
Nay. The race is never to the swift, but time and chance.
So, I will cut my next birthday cake with grace and smiles. But no candles. There’s no need to go there jo!

Judge not
(Just Life)
I WAS singing her favourite song to her as we walked, or more precisely, as I carried her while I walked. She looked at me with a twinkle in her eye as she waited for her favourite part of the song where she has to join to say, ‘ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah,’ although she actually modified it somehow by just singing a long ‘aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh’ instead. When we got to the part, she opened her mouth as wide as she could and did her bit. I laughed out loudly and she responded by resting her head on my shoulder, trying to hide her face in my neck as though she was shy, we both knew she wasn’t.
A lady was walking towards us. I hummed the song as I stroked my baby’s back, she snuggled even closer. We walked on. Just as we got close to the lady I looked up and noticed that she was looking at us. I assumed, wrongly, that we were going to do the African thing and greet each other even though we didn’t know each other.
I was about to say ‘good morning’ when her words stopped me short.
She said, ‘Baby, don’t mind her, ‘you hear.’ Don’t mind your mother.’
‘What? What is it you imagine I did to my baby?’ I demanded to know.
‘Is it not your fault? She has plaster casts on her legs.
Are you not the one who let her get wounded like that?’
She responded, giving me the kind of daggers I hadn’t received for a long time.

‘Wait a minute, you think that some accident happened and ...’
‘Yes now, why did you let ...?’
‘Look, what she has is a congenital birth defect, which we are trying to correct. She has not been in any accident of any sort.’
‘Oh, I am sorry oh, I thought ...’
‘Yes, I can just imagine what you thought, but you really shouldn’t make assumptions about people and situations you know nothing about.’
‘I am sorry,’ she said again as she quickly got into her car and made to drive off.

We walked on, silently this time. How it is that someone would imagine that the average mother would harm her own child? Would anyone deliberately be careless with a baby?
Another thing that puzzled me, was how someone could be so judgmental to condemn another person without bothering to ask any questions about the situation?

Thinking of it, I realise we all do it, sometime or another. We see an elderly man in a car with a young girl (whether she is pretty or not, looks like him or not) and most will think ‘Hmm, useless man! That girl is probably his daughter’s age!’ and chances are she might just be his daughter. Most believe all politicians are rogues, youths from the riverine areas are militants and kidnapers, Igbo boys are ‘419ners’, and so on and so forth.

Mothers are usually condemned or praised by other women for whatever happens to their children. If a child is ill, it is the mother’s fault; if the child becomes president then the mother did some things right.

Anyone who has gone through the process of begetting a child, I believe will do all she can to care for and protect her child, and only a woman who believes herself to be the perfect mother would feel that she has the right to condemn or judge another. But is there anything as perfect mother? I really cannot say, I do know that whatever steps we take towards perfection are by the grace of God.

Shared offices
(GOOD manners)

SHARED offices are as much a part of modern corporate culture as are suits and shoes. They come in different hues and settings.

There are offices shared by two or three people. Others are open plain offices with many tables — the corporate equivalent of dormitories.
Some of the permutations have senior/junior teams while others are of equal colleagues. Some have all male or all female members while others are mixed.
In which ever one of these you find yourself, the basic rules of decent conduct remain the same.
After you have moved out of the office, how do your former colleagues remember you —noisy and inconsiderate or well-organised and decent?
Do they remember your body odour or pleasant perfume? What jokes and gossips are bandied about and behind you?
The major virus at the root of most poor conduct in inter-personal relations is selfishness. Even an offensive B.O is not so much a personal hygiene issue as it is a selfishness one.
The antidote to selfishness in inter-personal relations is sensitivity.
If you set out to be considerate to others, your internal alarm will alert you the moment you are about to get selfish. That is sensitivity.

ONE of the issues in shared offices is the respect for boundaries. Without an exclusive room, the table with its surroundings becomes one’s territory.
Don’t go about barging into another’s territory without ‘visa’. Say ‘excuse me’ before you ‘borrow’ a pen, stapler e.t.c. from another’s table and make efforts to return the item after use; even if it’s the office’s own.
Many facilities are shared in offices. These include, the air conditioner, fridge, intercom, water dispenser, photocopier and even electric sockets. It is selfish to be on the intercom for long as other calls to and from your colleagues are thereby cut off.
If you have some voluminous stuff to ‘download’ from another department, let it be sent online or go over physically instead of playing landlord of the intercom.
Again, loud conversations with visitors and callers are better done along the hallway not even in the waiting room or reception.
This is a way of saying they are not welcome in the office. In a room of four people, one person may be feeling cold from the a/c.
What to do — vote on the issue? No.
Balance the risk involved: the cold person can develop a medical condition from that but the three others are not likely to die from less cold.
Water dispensers are supposed to cater to instant thirst. It is a poor attitude and a selfish one at that to use a bottle to empty water from the dispenser for keeps.
The grab-grab mentality of our leaders has permeated so much of our consciousness. But you don’t need to make a gaudy stack of everything in advance when it will still be available as the need arises.
Even if the water will finish by the time of your thirst, it should not warrant a private storage arrangement in advance.
Use of private electronic gadgets at the office should be open to censure. Having both ears plugged with earphones while nodding away like some agama lizard can only be permitted for an executive with exclusive office and who doesn’t receive visitors. I have been to government offices where secretaries play DVDs on their office systems.
Seniors in shared offices are known from the size or position of their tables. They should be able to call the “class” to order like house captains in dormitories whenever there is some stepping out of line.

Applying secrets of the rich
(Biz tool Kids)
AT the end of these series, my desire is to create in you a hunger for financial education. I do not despise academic and professional education. All I have been trying to say is that individual’s financial literacy will determine if he or she will end up poor or rich.

The rich have the following abilities, which are practicable and can be duplicated:
Ability to make more money. The rich know how to make more money than most of us do. Our academic and professional training raise us to be specialists, thus restricting us to making money from only a source. The issue of money is not so because we all have different talents, abilities, personal skills, etc, which can be exchanged for money without necessarily disturbing our professional or academic training. Again, there are needs in the society begging for solutions, and the guy who can meet these needs is the same guy to whom your money and my money will go to. Therefore, the number of problems you can solve, needs you can meet, quality of products/service you can supply and the backend offerings of your business can help you increase your ability to make more money.
Ability to protect your money. When Mike Tyson was declared bankrupt some years ago, he alerted the press and whoever cared to listen how his close friends, even his manager were among many people who stole from his money. Well, that could be face-saving in itself, but a closer look shows that any rich fellow who fails to protect his wealth or riches will end up having his money and assets pilfered, burgled and in some cases taken away from him through the legal system. So, you need to understand that it is not enough to make money, you must also endeavour to protect money made.
Ability to rightly budget your money. Budgeting should not be the preserve of corporate institutions; individuals are supposed to also budget to manage their resources. Budgeting rightly is critical to your financial status. A budget is simply a plan for the coordination of resources and expenditures. Like Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad noted, “Most people use their budget as a plan to become poor or middle class rather than a plan to become rich.” Most people operate their lives on a budget deficit rather than a budget surplus. Instead of working to create a budget surplus, many people work to live below their means, which often means creating a budget deficit. A budget deficit is simply excess expenditure over income, while budget surplus is excess income over expenditure. If you want to change your financial story, you must aim for budget surplus, which means excess income over expenses without having to live below your means.
Ability to leverage your money. This is one aspect very important for us as business people or individuals seeking to increase our financial intelligence. The rich don’t necessarily have more intelligence than you and I do; they have better financial intelligence. They don’t buy all the assets they own using their own money. By leveraging their relationships, financial support from financial institutions, venture capitalists, better banking records, etc, they open the door for better financing for their ideas.
Ability to improve your financial information. I interviewed Mr. Sunny Ojeagbase, the Publisher of Complete Sports and Complete Football, few years ago for my TV programme. Having risen from grass to grace, he confidently told us (production crew) that he had no more money problems. However, he made a comment I will not forget in a hurry. He said, among many other things, “… Supposing I lose everything I have achieved so far, as far as I can sell pure water or (do some business) … I will bounce back.” Isn’t that funny? This is a guru in sports journalism, who has been blessed by God in his trade. I believe this great Nigerian and philanthropist made that statement based on the quality of financial information he has. Today, you are what you are financially because of the financial information you have. If you want to go to the next level, change the quality of financial information you have.
All these I’m sure have exposed you to the way the rich think and act. It’s your turn for a financial turnaround!
Olotu is the CEO/Lead Consultant, DEAIM Innovative Resources Ltd.

Upbeat swing for Otiono at home

Thursday, July 30, the Delta Literary Forum (DLF), a new literary association, which aims at opening literary space, enhancing the advancement of literacy and the literary culture and giving literature and the literati a visible place in the state, held its first guest on the International Writers Series. The award winning writer, Nduka Otiono, was the first to be hosted
Held at the Lander Brothers Anchorage, Asaba, the evening started with readings from members of DLF including Beatrice Ozowa and Delta State Director of Culture, Mr. Akpobesah. But things really started swinging when two Commissioners, Oma Djebah of Information and Richard Mofe-Damijo of Culture and Tourism, arrived together. In his commentary titled Literature and Tourism Development in Delta State: Writers as Cultural Ambassadors, Mofe-Damijo noted that writers and indeed members of the literary arts have always been recognised as important cultural ambassadors especially given their symbolic recognition and roles as the personifications and embodiments of their ethnic and cultural ethos. In his comments, the Permanent secretary, Cabinet office, Sir Emma Okafor, advocated for a paradigm shift from the elitist and seeming intellectual complexion of such literary events to also accommodate village square and market place sessions as a way of involving not only the very traditional songs and narrative forms but indeed accommodating the less literate and grassroots folks in the enjoyment of literature. DRESSED in traditional ox-blood ‘print up and down’ caftan, patterned with gold embroidery circles, Otiono took the microphone and in his now legendary baritone voice, regaled the audience with fond recollections of the exciting days he had shared with Djebah and Mofe-Damijo in several newsrooms including the now rested Classique Magazine all of which prompted him to read his first poem of the evening, I know a place; a piece from his first collection, Voices in the Rainbow dedicated to RMD after reading one of his articles of the same title in the then popular column Ad-Lib of the Classique Magazine. Otiono later inherited the Ad-Lib column from RMD, when the latter moved on to start Mister Magazine. Commenting on the literary evening, Otiono described it as the beginning of a more vibrant literary forum in Delta State. He said that though he had earlier been hosted in Abuja and Lagos, this event was more important to him because he was being hosted at home by his colleagues and his own folks of the literary community, thus laying to rest the maxim that a prophet is never at home. Otiono expressed delight that with the duo of Djebah and Mofe-Damijo in government, the metaphoric gap of “We and Them” had been bridged. The second session commenced with readings by Mofe-Damijo and David Diai from the collection Love in a time of Nightmares, before Nduka Otiono then returned for the concluding session of his reading with poems from the same collections. His final poem, Dirty was taken form Camoflage the Anthology of contemporary Nigerian writing.

Pulpy Munch

By Fabian Odum
Guava is gradually slipping off the season but make it a duty to get some anytime you come across it. Some may not like it as a fruit but the health benefit is compelling enough to snack on it and serve guests at mealtimes. It remains a pleasurable after-meal bite or part of a fruit snack in spite of the hard little seeds embedded in the fruit.
Fortunately, some improved variety though not common, is available. This affords those averse to the seeds the opportunity to have a mouthful of pulpy flesh to the bargain.

Nutritional benefits
A tropical fruit, guava has served to enrich the diet of people in several ways. Like the tomato, it is a good source of lycopene, a nutrient that has the reputation of being an anti-cancer compound. It has anti-oxidants that help the body war against free radicals that can interfere with normal cell growth and activity potentially leading to cancer, heart disease and premature ageing. For a moment, the money spent for anti-oxidants from the pharmacy could be directed to stocking guava (although its storing ability is poor).

Fibre, vitamins It is also a good source of soluble fibre and vitamin C, a proven aid to fighting cold and scurvy. Current research suggests that consumption of the fruit may reduce the ‘bad’ serum cholesterol. This is good news to health and heart watchers as bad cholesterol ultimately translates to negative heart condition.

Vitamin C
It may be in the mind of consumers that orange has a higher vitamin C content than guava but to the contrary, one medium size fresh guava has 165milligram vitamin C. Eating only a third of it offers the daily body requirement. For oranges you need to eat one whole to achieve what a third of guava gives.

Another benefit attributed to the fruit is its ability to fight against the microorganisms implicated in staphylococcus auerus infection. This disease has been reported to affect man in several ways -- bowel disorder, negative impact on fertility and related conditions.

Storage Ripe guava bruises easily and highly perishable and may not be suitable for consumption on the third day. Though refrigeration can be helpful in the storage, it can only last for 2-3 days when the firmness and the texture (as well as the flavour) begin to change.

Mr. Wazobia marks birthday with less privileged

Popular radio presenter with Wazobia FM, Steve Onu, otherwise known as Yaw, will today mark his birthday in Lagos. I know what’s running in your mind –– party? Well, the Anambra State born comic merchant is not in for any gig; he would be celebrating the day with children of Down Syndrome Association of Nigeria.
Billed to kick off at 2pm in the home located on Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, top Nigerian showbiz personalities such as ace comedian Alibaba; Koffi; Yori Yori singers, Bracket; J Martins; Yemi Sax; Owen Gee; and African China among others, are expected to join the Lagos State University Theatre Arts graduate to make the day a memorable one for children of the home and the celebrant. “This is my own way of giving back to the society, and I’m using this opportunity to call on my fans to come around and celebrate with me. Please, don’t come empty-handed; buy a gift for the children no matter how small. This is an opportunity to show them how special they are; we need to show them some love.” ON the choice of the less privileged home for his birthday bash, Yaw says, “I could have gathered friends in a choice club in Lagos, party and merry together. But there’s a point in ones life that you need to think the other way. I actually started this last year and I’ve taken it as my own style. We are privileged today in the society, but what about these children? For me, this is a way of reaching out to them, showing them some love; my friends and fans will join me to that there.” However, Yaw’s initial plan was to mark the day with the blind, but fate changed the gig to the current venue. “I actually wanted to do something for the blind, but I learnt the schools are on holiday. I’ve heard about this home (Down Syndrome), so, I decided to visit them. By next year, it would be another home, just like I did for the Little Saints Orphanage last year.” It would be recalled that artistes such as Julius Awgu, Chidi Muokeme, Kate Henshaw-Nutall, Tuface Idibia, D’Banj, I Do Gye and others are also involved in charity works these days. “I think they are beginning to understand the law of giving; blessed is the hand that gives than the one that takes. I think it’s good for the society and you don’t expect government to do that too,” Yaw says. IS there any possibility of adopting any of these kids? “Of course, why not,” he quizzes. “But that is if I will be around to give all my love and attention; Yaw is a very busy man.” So, any plans of settling down soon? “Well, I will get married when it’s time.” You grew up where? BORN in Lagos and grew up partly in Lawanson and Iyana Ipaja, both in Lagos; Yaw was greatly influence by his Mum. “My Mama beats a living daylight out of me –– really! Everytime I’m on radio talking about my mother, people keep asking me, ‘what about your Dad?’ For me with my Mum, it wasn’t easy. All through my growing up, I was a very stubborn person. I have this Dad that is like, “stop beating them, leave them alone, do you want to wound them? It’s not as if he never flogged us… he did, but he was not like my Mum. I keep telling everybody that, if not for my Mum, if not for all the flogging, only God knows where I for dey today. I believe that was what shaped me. My Dad is alive, he’s in Lagos and I go to see him every now and then. But My Mum… that woman beat daylight out of me and na wetin make me be beta human being today; that’s why I always talk about my Mum.” For those, who brand Yaw a stand up comedian, hear him out: “You know there are different types of comedy, but once you mention comedy here, everybody thinks of a stand-up comedian. There are TV comedians, commercial comedians, stage comedians… we’ve got different types of comedians. But for me, I will classify myself into a TV/radio comedian; I’m more into that than stand-up comedy.” ASIDE his job as a presenter, Yaw had featured in different TV productions. “I did Twilight Zone, I did Flat Mates–– those were the ones people see constantly. But I also featured in Fuji House of Commotion, Extended Family, Dear Mother… e be like say na de one wey I fit remember be dat. Now, I’m on radio.” Have you heard how Yaw got into Wazobia FM? Well, in case you haven’t, this is the real gist. “I actually came to the premises with Bunmi Davies, the Comedy Zone guy. He wanted to see Ibrahim (a staff of the company) and I just came with him. When we got here, Ibrahim was telling Bunmi that they were about to open a radio station and that it was going to be pidgin, that if he had a contact, they would want to do something with him. Then, I was doing Story Story Verses From The Market, a radio drama produced by BBC. So, when we were going, I pulled Bunmi to a corner and said, ‘Bunmi, I for like come do this work oh, but dat one na if dem go give me chance to still dey do some other things like my MC, going to studio and other things. And he said, ‘ok, try it out now, talk to Ibrahim. After adapting a friend’s CV, which he submitted to the broadcasting station, Yaw was invited for an audition/interview. “The day I came for the screening… I never come for interview befor oh! I was in a shirt with folded hands, jeans, and cap… I was looking yeah men. When I got to the reception, I saw others with shirt and tie, suit and I told myself, ‘men, I don fall my hand, dem no go giv me dis job. See, as they are all dressed.’ But finally, they chose me out of all the people in suit”. MANAGING his fame was never an easy task for the Theatre Arts practitioner, who recently staged his first production at MUSON Centre, Lagos. “My brother, I can’t hide. Even when I talk, people recognise my voice. I’m a very shy person, so, when they call me, I will just signal, so as, not to alert people. There was a day I wanted to buy fried yam and akara and someone insulted me saying, ‘na so hunger catch you reach.’ And I asked him, ‘you wey dey buy am, you no be human being?’ But I went home that day and I was asking myself, ‘which kin life be dis, which means I no fit be me.’ There are some people who appreciate you, but some of them will see you and say, ‘hey, Yaw, I be your fan, buy me drink, cos I dey listen to you.’ Can you imagine? I’m making you happy and you still expect me to buy you drinks? That’s the kind of thing you get from some people.”

The man of organ


The bungalow located on the quiet part of Surulere, Lagos, gives an insight into Lanre Delano’s taste: portable, but magnificent. From exterior to the interior, the whole apartment is just the way Delano wants it. And with his family abroad, you are sure of meeting the house in the same state years after. At the center of the sitting room reigns an old church organ, which looks more like an archival piece, while the LCD TV hung on the wall. Plaques and photos of award presentations he attended both home and abroad, dot different parts of the room. Meanwhile, his dining section is gradually turning into a mini-office; while his laptop and computer system are always active over there. Delano was at the verge of setting out to supervise the on-going installation of the biggest pipe organ in Nigeria at the Cathedral Church of Christ when I arrived. So, I decided to accompany him to see things for myself. We also had a brief stop at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Lagos to have a glance at the instrument that opened doors for Delano in organ business. A graduate of music from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Delano’s career in music started at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, before he got admission to Ife varsity to pursue same career. “Then, most of my colleagues and relations were in universities. So, after a year, I decided to pursue a degree as against diploma. Luckily, that was the beginning of the Music Department in Ife; we actually started it,” he said. “ There were two of us in the class from 1978 to 1982; we were privileged to be taught by the maestro,

‘I feel comfortable wearing long dresses… you can’t see me on bikini or shorts outside my home’

Funmi Oloyede is the chief executive officer of Peculiar Designs, an outfit that specialises in bridal and men’s wears. Oloyede, a graduate of Lagos City Computer College, is in charge of the Worship Ministry at the Daystar Christian Church. The lady, who is also into interior decorations, tells DAMILOLA ADEKOYA what fashion is to her.

Definition of fashion
To me, it is an expression of ones heart. What I see as fashion may be different from what another person sees.
Family background
I am the first in a family of six children. My mum is an evangelist and also a seamstress, while my dad retired as the head of communication at Shell Development Petroleum Company.
Style of dressing
Most times, I am always on trousers and I also feel more comfortable, wearing long dresses because of the nature of my job.
Favourite piece of clothing
Anytime, any day, it will always be my bracelets.
What would you not be caught wearing?
A bikini, shorts or spaghetti top, worn outside my abode!
Favourite colour
I really love royal blue because it has always been a colour that appeals to me. It fits anybody with any type of complexion.
Most expensive item
A particular lace I bought during my sister’s wedding. I gave it out because it had almost become a ‘god’ for me and I do not want anything to disturb my relationship with God.
Most cherished possession
My creative abilities; can’t trade it for anything If you were given a chance to change something in Nigeria, what would it be? I think I’ll change the black man’s mentality. The way we think is really terrible!
Turn on
When I’m in the midst of people that talk about God, it really gives me joy and happiness.
Turn off
I hate indiscipline; it makes me weird.
Happiest moment
It was when I had the vision to start the music (worship) ministry and people gave a whole lot of testimonies after the programmes we had.
Embarrassing moment
It was the day a tout walked up to me, to woo me. He kept on following me until it got to a time, when a passenger in the bus told me to answer him. I was really embarrassed that day.
I get inspired more, when I’m alone. By so doing, I can ponder on some things, which I think will be useful to me.
Favourite food
I love ewedu and eba
Describe yourself in three words
Quiet, friendly and an impact maker.
Role model(s)
Rev. Sam and Nike Adeyemi; they are of great inspiration. I also owe it up to Femi Olaiya, he is a like a brother to me, always wanting to know what is happening around me,
Philosophy of life
Life is too short for an experiment, so enjoy it to the fullest!

Stalking the real estate

AS an expert, what would you say is responsible for the frequent collapse of buildings in the country? The question was instantly met with warm stares, the kind that normally precedes excitement. Perhaps, on another day the questioner wouldn’t have met with the same exciting response. Probably not, but maybe yes.
Dr. Victor Onukwugha, the executive chairman of Bauhaus International Limited, a firm that is into real estate, project development and development finance, cast an exciting glare and he began to voice out his wishes for real estate in the country. A chat this afternoon seemed proper. The whole atmosphere is serene. He looks at his wristwatch, draws a deep breath and heaves, “you’re early… you can sit down and enjoy our journal, while I get myself prepared”. His phone rings. He reaches for it. “Yeah,” he retorts. After some minutes, he joins me. To him, the best thing that could happen to the industry is to roast quacks, drive fake importers out; and implement sound and safe policies for the common man to enjoy his ‘small’ money. An uncharacteristic thought, so to say. “The problems are numerous, but I will categorise them into two: one has to do with the professionals and next, breakdown of values. For the latter, Nigeria has become a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish from every part of the world; especially, for substandard goods and materials from China,” he says. “Nigerians go abroad to tell them what they want in order to make money, so, they come with substandard materials such as reinforcement rods and cements, all with poor quality. Also, it has to do with cutting corners. People engage quacks in place of professionals. We are not talking about real estate developers alone; some individuals will even go for draughtmen to draw their buildings for them and not using engineers to supervise the building projects. So, a lot of things come into place that is why we have a lot of buildings collapsing.” So, is the government doing anything to curb the menace? “Government has a great role to play. The Standard Organisation of Nigeria, for example, has responsibility of ensuring that standards are maintained: Materials and equipment brought into the country are inspected at the point of importation and that of entry. Also, that all government agencies ensure that the consumers get the best of quality. But beyond that, the professional regulatory bodies are mostly lame-duck in ensuring that they stop people using quacks to embark on construction,” he says. Is there any other investment risk associated with the real estate development sector? He looks up and casts a sympathetic response, “in this country, the problem has to do with capital because our banks are not doing banking, they are not financing the real estate sector, they are simply trading.” For real estate industry to thrive, the Bauhaus boss said, banks have to make available construction loans to developers, and this should be for a minimum of five years. He also says there should be mortgage loan to buyers that will last for between 20 and 30 years. “So, there should be a good mortgage and construction loan in place. That is how we can finance the real estate sector and you will find out people will be interested in the products in the market and the products will not remain, it will be bought,” he reflects. While answering the question on collapsed buildings, you made mention of professionals, so, how professionalised is your outfit? “We see real estate as a knowledge business; we are not here to just make a living; therefore, we have three core departments and all headed by professionals, we ensure that we get the right professionals from architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, planners, economists and others. Our site supervisors are usually from these professionals. I’m the Executive Chairman, and I am an architect, an engineer and a construction manager. I don’t know whether I am jack of all trade, I have a PhD. And all our heads of departments have a minimum of Master’s degree in their fields. I am not talking about academic qualification, though we try to look through your academic certificates, we also insist that you must also be proven to be good in your area or field professionally.” When did your company start business? “We started as a consulting firm in 1988, before we got involved in real estate development in 1992, and till date we have been doing just that. So, the company is about 21 years old. “We are essentially interested in both residential and commercial real estate development, in addition, we are involved in tourism development. Under the residential we have been partnering with Federal Housing Authority to develop upper scale housing estate such as Trans Amadi Garden in Port Harcourt, which we did and it was commissioned by the immediate past president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2004, which comprises 471 housing units of upper, medium and low income. We are partnership with Federal Housing Authority to develop Arugo Gardens in Owerri for the high and medium income earners. We have some other proposed projects for Abuja in the latter part of the year. Under commercial real estate development, we are developing first, a shopping mall in the south; in fact that should be about the first of its kind in the country. It has shopping and banking facilities, departmental stores and so many other things.” ONUKWUGHA reveals that his company has been trying to initiate the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) idea. He believes it will help this country when established, as it has capability to help mop-up funds for investment in the real estate sector. REIT started in the United States of America and has caught up in most developed economies such as Japan. In Africa, it is South Africa that is on it. “It is simple, when you are talking about investment as an investor, people think about stocks and of cause real estate as the best investment vehicles in this country or in the world, but the draw back is inequality, you cannot get cash as at when you want it because you cannot put your house in the market today and get the money tomorrow, whereas in the case of stock, if you are broke today, you can just make a phone call to your stockbroker, the next morning he comes up with money. “In order to make investment in real estate very attractive, a kind of civilization that will make it possible to trade on the asset class of the stock exchange will come-up and that is what REIT is all about. It means that rather than having a building that you can only sell the hard, you can sell it on the floor of the stock exchange. It has a lot of implications, which means you can invest in any part of the world in real estate by just booking any property that is under it and them try to buy a share and wherever you are broke, you can place your unit on the floor of the stock exchange and get money.” On the suitability of Nigerian legislation to attract foreign investment, he says the greatest way to bring foreign investments is through REIT. “But we are not sincere at all because there are so many legislations that we are talking about, which are vehicle for us to get foreign investment. Before it can take place, the land use act has to be reformed. Until it is reformed, it cannot work.” Explaining the 400,000 housing units promised by Real Estate Development Association of Nigeria (REDAN) before the end of 2009,he says it is very realistic. “If you divide 400,000 by 36, you are talking about 10,000 or 15,000 houses maximally per state and if the Federal Mortgage Bank is there and alive to its responsibilities and funds are made available, we will realise it, but again, what kind of houses are we talking about?” he says. “Federal Mortgage Bank said they are going to sponsor only projects not worth more than selling price of N5million and if you are talking about houses of N5 million and definitely, it is not going to be story buildings so that is the problem we have but it not a question of figures, it is a question of what is on ground. Are the banks ready to fund construction loan? Are the mortgage banks willing to do mortgage financing?”

Pan African Universities debate enters Season II

THE Pan-African Universities Debating Championship (PAUDC) will enter its second season from December 12 to 18. The edition holds in Gaborone, Botswana,.
The University of the Free State from South Africa won the inaugural tournament, in a final that also comprised Namibia and Lesotho.
According to the organisers, either Namibia or Nigeria, will be the next PAUDC host. This will be decided by the PAUDC board meeting in Gaborone.
The championship will be held at the University of Botswana’s main campus in Gaborone and will have a team cap of four teams per university with strict compliance with the N-1 rule:
Each African country can only enter up to seven universities at the cost of P650 per person for early registration (about USD 90), which is inclusive of accommodation for seven days, meals, events (Opening and Break night parties, Cultural Expo night, Championship dinner and a visit to the Mokolodi nature reserve to experience Africa’s Big 5)
Other highlights of the one week talk contest which will bring together universities from 15 African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa and Swaziland, include a speaker and coach training workshop for two days and adjudication tests, board meeting with representatives from all African debate institutions, to build a cooperative framework to promote debate and to vote for the next PAUDC host between Namibia and Nigeria.
There will also be in attendance 40 Botswana secondary schools and 10 invited schools across Africa, who will have their own parallel tournament
Early registration runs for two months from August 15 to October 15 at P650 per person. The registration form and due registration fees should have been sent before the deadline to qualify for early registration.
Late registration runs for one month from October 20 to November 20 and is set at P800 (around 110 USD). Further information, you can contact the championship’s website:

Dublin-based Nigerian don emerges tops in ‘Green Talents’ environmental research

DR. AKINTUNDE Babatunde of the University College, Dublin, Ireland, can now refer to himself as a “Green Talent” alongside other young scientists from across the world, having won the Environmental Technology Competition “Green Talents” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
The competition, which held for the first time this year set out to discover outstanding scientific talents in the field of environmental technology. The winning scientists were selected because their research is making a long-term contribution to resolving global challenges such as climate change, diminishing energy resources and large-scale environmental pollution. A jury of renowned German experts selected a total of 15 winners, who would be invited to a one-week science forum in Germany at the end of August.

BABATUNDE among other topics is investigating the use of wastewater for power generation. He was among the 156 young scientists from 43 different countries who applied for one of the 15 places.
“We are delighted to have received so many outstanding applications from around the world. This response reflects the great international interest in Germany as an environmental technology location. With the ‘Green Talents’ competition, we can help ensure that promising new environmental technologies are deployed more quickly. It is all about taking joint responsibility for our future,” said the Federal Research Minister, Annette Schavan, patron of the “Green Talents” competition.
Germany is one of the world‘s leading environmental technology locations. By early September, “Green Talents” would visit German universities, research institutes and companies to get exemplary projects from different fields of technology. The week would end with a symposium, in which “Green Talents” will meet young German scientists.

Adventures into Internal Minds

THREE artists — Ruth Bircham-Shoyemi, Tayo Shoyemi and Ayoola Odupitan —whose drawings have found a home in Kreative Minds, will be showing at Fairfield Halls Theatre, Park Lane, Croydon, United Kingdom from September 6 to 9.
Under the Theme, Exploitation of the Internal Minds-2, it is the second show by the group, which had its debut in February at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, when Bircham-Shoyemi visited Nigeria. In their first show, the artists, in their diverse thoughts, engaged the canvas to explain effects of social changes on the society. The UK show tries to bridge the gap between cultures and countries; most importantly, to show how this development has affected individuals. Affection between mother and child — during the nursing period — is captured by Tayo Shoyemi in his piece. While explaining the virtues of breast-feeding, the work reveals one of the feeding techniques by women in the work. Odupitan, who has remained consistent in her print-like monochrome, offers a balance in cultural study. Two contrasting images of hairdo: a dreadlock and an island-clean-shaven head, express her thoughts on cultural diversity. Bircham-Shoyemi keeps her viewer thrilled in her depictions of nature and its beautiful sceneries, which appear to be her strength. Her multi racial environment oozes in Rising Above, acrylic on canvas, with much emphasis on the thick lip. This, she explains, is deliberate “to show viewers that our culture is no less superior to that of any other race. My future plans are to continue to exhibit and take Exploitation of the Internal Mind to the international stage and back to Nigeria, where the idea originated. I want to educate people around the world about Nigerian history and culture.” FOR Odupitan, the formation of the group is based on the need to educate the youth. It is believed that many young ones are suffering in silence because they feel that the only way to be heard is by committing crime or taking part in anti-social behaviours. Solution, Bircham-Shoyemi stresses, is not by ignoring it, but confronting the situation head on, using the past as a stepping stone to move forward. “We want individuals to be aware of each other’s experience, and how each of them feels history has affected them living in today’s society”, she argues. Bircham-Shoyemi, who studied Access to Art and Design at Croydon College, said her experimentation of bringing the outside environment into art began thereafter. Renaissance, Impressionism, Abstract Realism and Corporeality are the schools of art that have influenced her works. In 2001, she got BA (Hon) in Fine Art Combined Media, which she said strengthened her. She also had a stint in printing, film editing, using various computer softwares, and business studies. Her work was shown at the Parfait Gallery at Croydon College in 2001 and 2002, and also was involved in a group show in 2005. Odupitan graduated with Bachelor of Art (Education) from University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State in 2006. Majoring in painting, She has a number of art shows including Art Expo Nigeria and Society of Nigerian Artists, (SNA) organised October Rain to her credit. Tayo, in addition to his Diploma in Textile Art and Design, has participated in several exhibitions, including Art Expo Nigeria. He is also a member of the new art group, Art Zero.

For Lara George, the beat strikes anew

The event was supposed to be a media parley on Lara George’s latest album, but it ended up as a mini show, with some top showbiz personalities in attendance. The list of notable faces at the Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue of the briefing include Branama singer, Keffe, Sasha, Baskethmouth, Patricia Uwaje-King of the Midnight Crew, Stephanie Okereke and others. Lara on her part, entertained the gathering with Kolebaje and Halleluyah, two of the songs in her latest self-titled album.
From the day Lara George was declared Best Female Vocalist of The Year, at the Nigeria Music Award (NMA), held in Owerri, Imo State, it was obvious that her music career would surely blossom. In fact, from her reaction after the announcement, you need not be told that the mother-of-one least expected to win in the category. However, Lara wouldn’t blow her trumpet. Her debut album, Forever In My Heart, was good enough to edge out other contenders such as Asa and TY Bello, her ex-Kush mate at the event. “I don’t want to talk about anybody now,” she says after the presentation in Owerri. “I think Asa is good on her own side and Lara George is different in her own way. I’m so excited and very encouraged winning this award,” she muses, clutching her plaque in her right hand. After almost 12 months of intense studio work, Lara is back with her latest album, which is a collaborative production effort between Wole Oni and Jeff Taylor. An inspirational work, the album features Run with You, collaboration with Lord of Ajasa, and Halleluyah, with Midnight Crew’s Patricia Uwaje-King. In the new album, Lara deploys her vocal skills to stamp a unique feel in all the songs, thereby adding a refreshing dimension to the work. The songs evoke joy, laughter, depth and a sense of purpose. Like her first solo effort, the album, without prejudice, is a truly timeless piece of art. For Lara, music is about reaching out to people with messages, regardless of race, tribe or belief. “I don’t believe that ‘gospel’ is a genre of music; it’s a way of life. No matter what form I employ in delivering my songs, the message remains the same; hope, encouragement, positivity and helping people to see life from a better, brighter perspective.” She continues: “My desire is to see people empowered in their own minds first, so that they can then go on to become positive agents of change in the larger society, and in their own spheres of life.” Lara’s foray into music dates back to her days at the Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos, where she had the opportunity of being part of the school choir. As a chorister, she was privileged to play lead parts in the school’s musical concerts. However, her professional career in music took off in 1997, at the University of Lagos, when she joined Rocksolid, a musical arm of the Rock Foundation Mission, where she met her colleagues in KUSH. “It was while we were working on our album, Your Dream Come True, that I met TY Bello, Emem and Dapo. We later teamed up to form KUSH.” As a suprano singer for KUSH, Lara lent depth to the more upbeat sound that the group had and provided a balance that, to a large extent, allowed their music to be loved by all who heard it, especially Let’s Live Together, which seemed another national anthem. But after an international record deal and many nominations and awards later, the group decided to take an emergency break. “I always say we grew apart; we were different individuals that had different goals in life and I guess we were not going to the same place in the same way. People wanted to go towards different directions,” she notes. “And when such things starts to happen, the only thing you can do is to say bye-bye and go your way.” That break actually gave birth to Lara’s solo music career in November 2007. Those who have listened to that work will surely agree that, though a gospel album, the songs are classics. “That album is honestly my heart,” she muses. And for sure, it is. As a singer and song writer, Lara touches almost all issues that life brings her way; she’s never afraid to be real, a quality that has endeared her music to many. Meanwhile, Lara’s decision to stick totally to her music career was not an easy decision to take. As a trained architect, Gbenga George’s wife and Adeoba’s mother, the choice “took a series of divinely-orchestrated events. To be honest with you, I didn’t make that decision until 2007. All those times I was with the KUSH and before then, I always do music as a second thing, because I had a job that time. Part of the reasons I did it that way was because of lack of regulation in the music industry. So, I wanted my means of income to come from somewhere, while I would still be able to follow my passion.” Today, Lara is playing music full time. “Oh, I’m playing music fully; the industry has grown over the years and; it’s becoming difficult to divide my time between two interests. For now, it’s music.” To ensure proper distribution, as well as guard against piracy, the work, which is expected to hit music shelves this week, has been licensed to SoForte Entertainment Distribution, Nigeria’s first automated entertainment distribution company, working in conjunction with TNT logistics and Maevva Solutions as its Business process automation provider. The new album, according to Soforte Entertainment, has security device called hologram to check piracy. But is this device going to work in a country like our, where piracy is gradually becoming a way of life? “ Well, you never know until you try. We Nigerians love to complain but no one wants to bail the cat. For me, music is what I want to do, so, I might as well make it work. Nobody else can get up to do this; it has to be somebody in the industry who feels the pain that will know what to do to put a solution to the pain of piracy.”

After MTN Project Fame, Dorcas eyes Addiction
Ghanaian-born music sensation, Dorcas Yeboah, who came to limelight in the first season of the MTN Project Fame West Africa in 2008, is gradually upping his game in the in the already crowded Nigerian music industry. On the other hand, Ghana music market is waiting for their diva to join in the effort to put the country’s name on the world map musically. With two singles, Wuru Wuru Love and Sika from her forthcoming album currently enjoying airplay and massive reviews in the media, work is tsill on for the full album titled Addiction. Nigerian producers Sheyman, K Solo, Dr Frabz, Tee Y Mix and Ghanaian Panji, are are working round the clock in the studio to ensure a quality production, which is expected to drop in the first quarter of next year. In a bid to add the Nigerian flavour to the work, Dorcas will be doing a remix of Wuru Wuru Love, with Koni Koni Love singer, with Klever J, while collabos with other Nigerian artistes are also expected to follow. The album, according to 411 Entertainment, is rich in folklore and will introduce the artistes’ afro-centric style of music. “The video of Wuru Wuru Love, will be realesed this October,” says Akpor Gbemre, the CEO of 411 Entertainment. Born into a humble family in Accra, where she grew up, Dorcas Yeboah started singing in the church at the tender age of 7. The 23- year-old fast rising singer loves hanging out in the beach and lending a helping hand to less privileged.



Opa Williams’ secret birthday
RECENTLY, movie producer and comedy merchant Opa Williams was caught (as if im thief) while in the middle of celebrating his birthday secretly. The first signs of something amiss was got when comedian Ali Baba walked into O’jez Restaurant, looked around and left. Minutes after, entertainment lawyer Efere Ozako looked in again and left. Trust T4T, he was curious, why was everyone looking in and leaving almost immediately? He followed, and sniffed (dis T4T na dog?) the smell of Ali and Efere, down to the Chinese arm of the hangout and behold, there was Opa Williams with a few ‘conspirators’ holding a ‘secret’ birthday. In fact, a detractor alleged they were not talking loud lest the sound attracted some mogbomoyas (gate crashers). Anyway, some journalists made Opa pay for his ‘sins’ by helping to down some very expensive drinks and plenty Chinese dinner. Opa all this while, according to the detractor, pretended to be happy to see the journalists who all came with some friends. Next time Ose (as Opa is called) will not try and play a fast one on his friends.
An injury to one... (fill in the blank spaces).

Paul Obazele is truly embattled now
RECALL the last time I told you how T4T asked Obazele Paul, president, Association of Movie Producers (AMP), if he was truly embattled as alleged by the media? Yes, you recall his answer too? Fine, in case you don’t, Paulo told T4T that night while consuming some expensive wine with Zeb Ejiro, if he actually looked embattled. I could not argue. For one who was eating that heavy food and wine, he really did not look embattled. But that scenario has changed. Paulo is in the middle of a storm as Teco Benson, another producer, battles to take his job. Infact, as you read this, his job may have been taken! It was a bloody election some two weeks ago, with heavyset thugs when chests as wide as billboard swooped on the election ground, when it seemed our dear Paulo was on the verge of losing his seat, according to an ‘eyewitness’. There was chaos, people began running helter skelter. Well, you read how last week, Dickson Iroegbu lost his dreadlocks in the aftermath of the beating he got that day. Well, I am waiting to see Paulo to ask him that same question again. I hope he still has that former air of confidence.
Verdict: Paulo is embattled.

Saw the new Dickson Iroegbu at last
THE fella that accosted me as I stepped into the popular hangout on National Stadium premises last Friday was smiling. T4T did not recognise the smiling guy until he greeted in a familiar manner. “Conscious One”! Gosh, only one person I know on this earth has that signature tune and that is the movie producer Dickson Iroegbu. Without his trademark dreadlocks, I could not recognize him. I bet his wife will find it hard to recognise him too. Dickson, a source said, received the beating of his life at the AMP elections recently. Just so that your memory is refreshed. Now, he looks like the man next door. That larger than life image is gone.
Poor Dickson, he will have to wait a few more years to grow his hair in locks again, before then, we will have no choice than to publish the photo of the ‘New Iroegbu’ for the public to take note.

Chris Nwaokobia has started again
YOU may be wandering what activist/entertainment lawyer Chris Nwaokobia has started again. Not to worry, you will soon hear about it. Chris was sitting at the terrace of the celebrity hangout when T4T walked in, and behold, he saw him with a stick of cigarette. Hmmm, this was the same Chris that swore to T4T that he would never go back to that habit. It did not take long after for T4T to sight the Delta State-born Chris smoking a Cuban cigar at the hangout. He again swore it was just a slip. Well, I am happy to announce to you that Chris has finally given up the idea of giving up cigarette smoking. He confessed that it has been hard for him to kick the habit out of his system. Anyway, friends and well wishers have planned a special prayer and fasting session to allow the Almighty intervene in this matter. We hope and pray.

Where was bambino going that night?
FRINGE Nollywood actor, Bambino, was sighted late in the night at the popular Kilo Bus Stop area of Surelere, Lagos. He was walking with somebody his detractors said looked like a woman. As T4T was driving that night, he won’t be able to tell whether the person was a woman or not. But Bambino’s company looked like a woman, from the stolen glance one had. The puzzle now is, where was Bambino going with somebody who looked like a woman, that night. I no talk o o.

Gandoki’s sacks his PA
COMEDIAN Gandoki has finally relieved his Personal Assistant of his duty. This news is confirmed. When the going was good, there was no where you saw Gandoki without seeing the PA, who is also a fringe actor. But for some time now, only the PA comes to the celebrity hangout. T4T was curious. He pulled a call across to Gandoki. The conversation went thus:
Gandoki: Who be dis?
T4T: Na me.... I just see your P A now now, I come ask am wia you dey.
Gandoki: My former PA? I don sack am na. No be (calls his name), I don sack am, no be my PA again.
Hmmm, see Gandoki sef dey get PA wey im dey sack. Big man dey sweet sha.

Julius Agwu turns Facebook into advert space
COMEDIAN Julius Agwu has turned the facebook site into an avenue where he advertises his numerous comedy shows. Every other 10 minutes, an ‘advert’ about Julius’ show drops. I am beginning to think, either Julius has employed somebody that is sending those messages or if it is the comedian himself, one wonders when he has the time to create new jokes. All the same, Naija man like free thing, at least it is cheaper than paying for advertisements in newspapers. Soon, dem go bcos of people like Julius block facebook.


Michelle... Adamawa girl on the shooting turf


MICHELLE Bello, the young filmmaker from Adamawa State, whose debut movie, Small Boy, won two awards at the 2009 African Movie Academy Award (AMAA 2009), will be part of the Federal Government delegation to the Israeli Film Festival. A graduate of Mass Communication, who specialises in Visual Media, she is the daughter of respected arts promoter, Mrs. Sylva Bello, of the Masoma Foundation. Moviedom caught up with the pretty Michelle at the just held Lagos International Film Festival, where she spoke about her career and life...

Small Boy and the AMAA Award
It was amazing. I was in shock throughout the awards ceremony. I never thought my first feature film would receive so much attention. I give thanks to God.


I was inspired by Will Smith’s film The Pursuit of Happyness. I thought the industry needed an inspiring film.

The Experience
The whole experience was fun, but challenging. I got to work with a great cast and crew. We had a few runs with Area Boys and production cost escalating! Outside that we didn’t experience any major disaster. As for Small Boy, all that I was thinking about was telling the story; hoping people would like it. I was excited to have shot my first film with a complete Nigerian cast and crew.

Funding the film
Funds came from my family and my savings. It was a big risk doing this film, but at the end of the day; it paid off. I am currently looking for distributors in Nigeria and abroad. The world premiere of Small Boy was in Los Angeles at the American Black Film Festival. It has been screened in Kenya and going to be shown in Israel at the end of the month. The movie had a good reaction at the festivals. They were excited to see a Nigerian story told in a different way.

Michelle Bello
Michelle Bello is a young filmmaker from Adamawa State. I attended Corona Primary School, Victoria Island, Lagos, before leaving for the UK at eight to attend boarding school. I left the UK for an American University in Washington DC, to study Mass Communication specializing in Visual Media.

The industry is going through some problems at the moment, but I have faith that it will get better. There are a lot of young and upcoming filmmakers wanting to make a difference in the industry. You will see quite a few changes over the next few years that will take the industry to the next level.

Thinking of a sequel to ‘Small Boy’?
No, I am not making any Part II or III. I am currently working on my second film. Also we are launching the film directory website in October 2009, which will feature the directory online, entertainment news, interviews, events, jobs and chat rooms among others. The website is all about creating a film community and coming together for a common goal of taking the industry to greater heights.

Your passion
My passion is in film and that’s why I went to study it. I’m a visual person and I love expressing myself through this medium. My role models are Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Copolla. I get my inspiration from God. In my free time I like going to the cinema, hanging out with friends and sleeping. My favourite meal is rice, chicken, stew and plantain. I listen to gospel, blues, jazz and a bit of pop. I like detective books. I love guessing the end of stories. I am not married.

Around and about Nollywood...

And they released the acting Chief Pete Edochie

Kidnapped actor Chief Pete Edochie, M.O.N was released — three days after he was abducted by unidentified hoodlums at Nkpor, near Onitsha. The broadcaster and star of the television adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s epic novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ united with his family at about 1.25pm on Tuesday. Though it was widely reported by a section of the media that his abductors had demanded for a N10m ransom for his release; the actor refuted the claims stressing that he was treated like a father. Asked if he was maltreated in any way, Edochie said the men treated him like an elderstatesman. According to him, they merely wanted an opportunity to tell the world why they were in the business.

Preparation for Abuja Film Fest hot up

Organisers of the yearly Abuja Film Festival say they are ready to stage the sixth edition of the programme. President of the festival, Fidelis Duker, disclosed during the week that the festival is still open for sponsorship and endorsements. He said that as part of the activities for the 6th edition of the event scheduled for September 22 – 25, 2009, at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, and the Cyprian Ekwensi Cultural Centre, both in Abuja, the late Muyideen Alade Aromire, one of the pioneers of Nollywood would be honoured for the production of Ekun, a Yoruba language film that was shot in 1987. The release of this film, according to Duker signaled the beginning of the era of films being made on video formats. Duker further noted that ‘available records show that several films were released before the highly celebrated Living In Bondage of 1992 by Chief Kenneth Nnebue, who had also shot several home videos such as Aje Ni Iya Mi. Aromire until his death was the founder and CEO of Yotomi Television, an indigenous Yoruba Cable, which was another pioneering effort.
Also to be honoured at the festival is the Film, “Iyawo Alhaji”, which was incidentally the first home video film to be classified by the National Film and Video Censors Board. A Nollywood Achievement Award has been created as a yearly package of the festival to honour stakeholders in the industry, who have contributed to the development of the sector. The comprehensive list of awardees will be unveiled at a world press conference that will herald the festival.

Befitting burial rites for Remi Abiola

The Prince Jide Kosoko led Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP) has hinted that the association is planning a befitting burial ceremony for the actress and wife of the deceased acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 election, Remi Abiola. The actress who is popular as ‘Auntie Remi’ reportedly died in a New York hospital about three Wednesdays ago, after a protracted illness. Believed to be in her late 40s, Auntie Remi reportedly gave up after attempts by medical experts to revive her from coma failed. She shot into public reckoning as a sub-lead actress in one of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) rested drama series Memorial Hospital. She lived delightfully, the role of the dutiful nurse until the programme was wrested after several quarters on air. Friendly and down to earth, Auntie Remi featured in a number of Yoruba language home movies, a reason — she — was nominated in 2008 by the now defunct New York-based publication,The Third Eye, for an award of excellence alongside other prominent Yoruba language actors and actresses. After the award, she stayed back in the US and sources said she was doing “well and had adjusted very well to life, in Yankee before her death. Mr. Kunle Alabi, her colleague on Memorial Hospital drama series described her death as ‘a major shock.” Chairman of the Lagos State Chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) Mufu Onifade described the news of her death as ‘a rude shock’. The President of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Practitioners (ANTP), Jide Kosoko disclosed that there would be a gathering of all members of ANTP in her honour on a date that would soon be announced. Kosoko also stated that the association is reaching out to members and well meaning Nigerians to be part of the burial activities.
Time to register for SHOOT 2010
Preparations have already begun for the 2010 edition of SHOOT! The focus will be on “Towards Digital Migration”. Interested Filmmakers, Film Students, Practitioners, Stakeholders and other enthusiasts can visit the website www.nigfilmcorp.com, or e-mail, md_nfc@hotmail.com for on line registration and enquiries. The edition takes place at the National Film Institute, Jos from July 19 – 23, 2010. This year’s edition with the theme “REEL LIFE, REAL SOUND” lasted five days, from Monday July 20 – 24, at the same venue.

WAKA PASS Producer- Amebo A. Amebo Director- Mr. Gossip Actors- Nollywood Celebrities
The Fear of Kidnapping ...
It took the abduction of Chief Pete Edochie, for some practitioners to realise that if those boys could pick up a whole chief — who is a chief in real life and a chief in movies — then other persons in Nollywood ‘are nobodies (sic)’. Indeed for the better part of this week, some popular actors, especially those who are fair skinned and hefty, have been moving around with their eyes wide opened. While some have engaged body builders as guards for the time being, others have vowed not to accept any job that will take them around the South-South and South East zones even if they are paid upfront. We won’t mention name o, but one waka pass who is a top celebrity told us that he wished he was the one that was abducted. Hear the yeye reason he gave: ‘I for use am test how popular I dey’. Msshhh. Not to only test how popular… na dat time you for know how easy peson dey die. Abi u wan take yorself compare Uncle Pete wey no dey die for movie?

Mildred Okwo saw it coming
The news of the abduction of Pete Edochie got to artiste manager, Mildred Okwo, in far away Jos, Plateau State. The producer was in Jos managing the actress, Rita Dominic, when the news reached her that those who consider themselves the unrecognized fans of the actor wanted him for temporary autograph signing ceremony. Anyway the news did not shake the director of the movie, 30 days at all, neither did it shake the sterling Rita. Okwo told someone who knows one waka pass that we know that she saw this coming a long time ago (about four years back) and she had taken necessary steps to guard against abduction in any form. In fact, we hear that only the late Head of State General Sanni Abacha — in the estimation of one waka pass — boasts of the kind of security network that Okwo puts around Rita. The waka pass insists that the security is so water tight that even some artiste managers abroad have been consulting Okwo, for some lessons on managing an artiste in a hostile environment. Sis, abeg we go charge landing charge wen dey come ooooo! To God be the Glory.

Ore yeeye Osun…The pulse of a communal Feast

LOOKING into the faces of many, who were at the palace this Friday morning, a visitor will not miss the feeling of expectation and excitement in the air.
For about a month, the city of Osogbo, capital of Osun State, engaged in diverse socio-cultural events marking this year’s Osun Osogbo Festival. The yearly festival, which dates back to 1370 AD, has moved from a commemorative gathering, where tributes are paid to the founding fathers of the community and veneration of Osun deity, to an international event, attracting huge following, making it one of the most important cultural events in the country’s tourism calendar. The endless wait this morning for the emergence of the Arugba (votary maiden) ended with the shout of ‘ore ye ye osun o!’ from the crowd that had kept vigil at the entrance leading to the room, where she prepared for the festival. Immediately, everybody around started muttering what sounded like incomprehensible chants, while circling their hands over their heads and snapping their fingers. The Arugba, usually a virgin chosen from the royal household, is the soul of Osun Festival. She bears a calabash covered with red cloth that would be used for the ritual later in the day at the grove. The successful execution of the spiritual signification of the festival lays on her hence the importance the people attached to her role, and even the votary maiden herself seems aware of this as she executes her role with high sense of responsibility. With the Arugba sandwiched by the Iya Osun and other devotes, the long procession to the grove began, with the milling crowd thickening. By the time the procession finally made it to the grove, which was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as World Heritage Site in 2005, different activities were already going on. At the official pavilion, where the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Oyewale Iyiola Mantanmi 111; the Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; the Speaker of House of Representatives; the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation; and a host of other guests was another kind of celebration. At intervals, the various traditional groups ranging from the chiefs to members of the royal household, paid homage to the Oba amidst dancing and jubilation followed by chanting (oroki) and eulogy of the royalty. Speeches from the Mornarch, minister and governor followed. Thereafter, a formal reception followed at the Ataoja’s palace. However, the end of the formal ceremony at the grove was for many just the beginning of the real celebration as individuals and families played host to different guests. A night-long musical concert ended activities for the 2009 festival. A Call For Tourism Development PRESIDENT Yar’ Adua who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of Culture, Senator Bello Jubril Gada and the governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, at the festival, canvassed for the development of tourism as a means for wealth creation and employment generation. Both of them highlighted efforts being made to make tourism central to the country’s economic development. While pledging to ensure that festivals in the ilk of Osun Osogbo cultural event are organised in each of the six geo–political regions as a means of economic engagement, the President called on the Osun State government and the private sector to see to the development of infrastructure that would ensure the continual growth of the cultural festival.
A glowing tribute was also paid to the late Suzanne Wenger (Aduni Orisa), who died last year, by both the president and the governor. Until her death, she was the moving spirit behind the resurgent Osun Grove.
While welcoming guests, the Ataoja of Osogbo expressed appreciation of the continued support and patronage enjoyed by the festival. He promised that the community would continue to do everything possible to elevate the festival to the desired level.

NTDC’s Support
THE Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation’s (NTDC) presence at the festival was overwhelming, with its staff providing support services. Of particular note was the donation of over 20 mechanically operated mobile toilets and dustbins to the state government before the event.
They were placed at different sections of the grove thus enhancing the environmentally friendly nature of the grove. The staff were also seen running after visitors in a concerted effort at information and data gathering regarding tourists attendance at the yearly event.

Low Turn Out Of Tourists
FROM indication, it thus appeared that this year’s event fell short of previous one in terms of attendance. Though there was a large presence of domestic visitors, reverse was the case for foreign visitors. he low turn-out may be due to the current global economic meltdown.
However, it is alos clear that the organisers of the event need to do more about promoting it. T
Poor Organisation, Militarisation Of The Festival

OVER the years, the festival’s grand finale has suffered from poor organisation and this year was not any different.
As a matter of fact, the whole arena this year was taken over by policemen and security agents, who accompanied the governor, the minister, Speaker and other personnel. The heavy presence of security agents made people to tag it a ‘military’ affair.
This is one development that the organisers should guard against as this would negatively impact on the festival if it is allowed to continue. There should be a way of keeping the security agents out of the arena.
The result of the militarisation was that many of the people, particularly the foreign tourists who should benefit from the cultural display were sidelined and for lack of nothing to do at the grove turned their