Home Blog

IRONA AS A CHILD OF DESTINY

0
“But be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”, wrote the famous English playwright, William Shakespeare, in his Play, Twelfth Night, written around 1602.
The above popular quote is one of the evergreen Shakespearean statements. It is contained in his Play, Twelfth Night. The story is about two twins who are caught in a storm that caused their ship to wreck. As a result of the shipwreck the twins were separated. One of the characters in the play, Malvolio, uttered the time tested statement: “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”. This saying is applicable to the political journey of Rt. Hon Gerald Irona, the Deputy Governor-Elect of Imo State, and the leadership he has brought to his people over the years.
Never in the history of Imo State had two lawmakers, colleagues of the House of Representatives, emerged as the Governor and Deputy Governor respectively of Imo State. But that is what we now have in the state. Though we made the choice in the March 9 governorship election, it was providence that thrust them on us. Many people think that in the making of the stars of Governor-Elect Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha and Deputy Governor-Elect Rt Hon Gerald Irona, the Maker of their stars, God Almighty, knew that their paths would cross and he pre-matched them for the task that lay before them, the task of rebuilding a shattered Imo State. Those who know the political trajectory of the duo would have no difficulty agreeing that both the Governor-Elect and his Deputy have several things in common. Though the similarity in their character traits is not the subject of this piece, it is common knowledge that both leaders share legislative experiences that have spanned over the years. This has not only helped to sharpen and widen their worldview, it has exposed them to the workings of government, especially a democratic one. Both also have executive experience. For the Deputy Governor-Elect, he is also bringing his executive experiences to bear in the running of the government, having served as Executive Chairman of Oguta LGA, and the Governor-Elect also who had served in the office of the Vice President.
Born on August 1, 1966, Irona cut his political teeth under the shadows of the revered Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe when he was elected a councilor for Oguta Ward A in 1996 and 1997. When General Abdulsami Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Head of State, announced that he would return Nigeria to democratic rule, Irona also played prominent roles in the politics of Imo State when in 1998 he became the pioneer State Secretary of the All Peoples Party (APP), which later became All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Interestingly, he was also the National Deputy Financial Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Having done well as a Councilor and having played party politics at the rank of state secretary, Irona’s stars led him upward. In 1999 he contested election for the Imo State House of Assembly to represent Oguta State Constituency. He won his election. While in the House he became the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum, Environment and Energy. This position enabled him to birth the Memorandum of Understanding between oil companies exploring oil in the state. It was the first of its kind since the creation of the state. The Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) operating at Oguta/Etekwuru communities; Chevron Oil Company, operating at Izombe/Rumuekuneke communities; Addax Petroleum, also operating at Izombe/Ezi-Orsu communities, were the oil companies operating in the state at the time. Today, when people talk about a memorandum of understanding with the oil companies in the state, especially in the rural oil producing communities, most people do not reckon with the fact that the idea was first conceptualized and birthed by no less a person than our incoming Deputy Governor.
A grassroots politician, Irona’s representation of Oguta State Constituency from 1999 to 2003 remains one of the golden eons of the representation in Oguta LGA. As a go-getter, he gave his people robust representation evidenced in the robust contributions he made in the House. As a reward he was a member of the Presidential Committee on Verification of Oil Wells in the Niger Delta. His contributions to the identification, demarcation and return of hitherto ceded oil wells to other states from Imo State back to Egbema and Oguta oil fields in Imo State remains astronomical. As a lawmaker and good representative of his people who suffer from their Godgiven wealth instead of benefitting from it, Irona, our Deputy Governor-Elect, contributed immensely to the establishment of the 13% Oil Derivation. This later metamorphosed into the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC). He also led the struggle for the inclusion of Imo State as a member state of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
An Engineer by training, Hon Irona finished his successful one term in the Imo State House of Assembly in June 2003, and in the same year he was the Chairman Transition Committee of Oguta LGA. His performance in the State Assembly and TC Chairman of Oguta paved the way for his emergence as the first Executive Chairman of Oguta Local Government to be elected un-opposed, between 2004 and 2007. As the Executive Chairman of Oguta LGA, he systematically changed the administrative architecture of the LGA from a bureaucratic redtapism to a vivacious commercial oriented administration. This courageous and innovative approach to public service empowered and developed the entire landscape in Oguta LGA and set the records for his successors.
If you had for minute thought that Irona was done with his political career having achieved these laudable feet, you are wrong! In 2011 Irona moved up and ran for a seat in the House of Representatives to represent Oguta/Ohaji Egbema/Oru West Federal Constituency. He won his election and became a member of the 7th National Assembly on June 6, 2011. Combining charisma, experience, humility, exposure, courage and contact, he warmed himself into the heart of the leadership of the House and he became the sole representative of the entire Southeast in the crucial Selection Committee. This committee was saddled with the responsibility of dividing the entire House membership into different committees to oversight the different ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs) and activities of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As an intelligent and charismatic leader, Irona was also made the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Gas Resources. He was a member of several strategic committees, spanning from Power, NDDC, Petroleum Upstream, Local Content, Sport, Privatization and Commercialization and Housing and Habitat. He was also a member of the House Committee that investigated the controversial fuel subsidy regime in the country. He served in this committee and came out with his integrity intact, unlike some that soiled their integrity and shamed their constituents.
A devout Catholic, humble, vibrant and prudent manager of resources with vast experience in governance and inter-governmental engagements, Hon Irona was not a seat warmer in the House. His tenure is remarkable for moving the motion for urgent national importance on the need for federal government’s intervention on the devastation of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta and Oru West communities by the flood disaster of 2012. He also moved the motion for the Minimum Wage. This was aimed at ensuring that the various state governments do not renege on the pament of the Minimum Wage agreed between Labour and the federal government. Hon Irona also intervened in the arbitrary selling of assets of the federal government when he moved a motion on the need to halt incessant selling of Federal Government assets by multinational oil companies. On the incessant killings and wanton destruction of properties by rival cults in Obiakpu Egbema in Ohaji/Egbema-Oguta Oru West Federal Constituency, he moved a motion on the floor of the House to stop it.
Hon Irona was not detached from his constituents. He was close to them. He felt their pains and he took actions to ameliorate them. He was not only in the House moving motions and supporting motions. He was also supporting lives and putting smiles on the faces of the people. It is to his credit that he secured jobs for graduates in his constituency. During his tenure, he facilitated the employment of more than 20 graduates into federal government agencies, such: NAFDAC., the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), National Lottery Commission, Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Prisons Service, Nigeria Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), etc.
Beyond this, Irona brought as constituency projects the construction and reticulation of water schemes, notably at: Mgbidi in Oru West LGA, Egwe and Abiaziem in Oguta LGA. He provided solar water projects at Umuoso in Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Amorie Ubuiu in Oru West LGA, Assaa in Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Obile in Ohaji/Egbema, Ndionyemobi in Oguta LGA. He also provided hand pumps at Nwari in Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Obudi, Enuigbo and K/Beach in Oguta LGA. In rural electrification, Irona provided solar street light for his constituents in Orsu-Obodo/Nnebukwu, F.A Nzeribe Road and Awucha Crescent, Egwe in Oguta LGA. He installed 500KVA transformer each at Awucha Crescent, Egwe New Layout, Ezi-Orsu, Ndiuloukwu & Egwe – all in Oguta LGA; Mgbidi and Nempi/Eleh in Oru West LGA. He was not found wanting in road construction. It is to his credit that Omoka-Egbema-Oguta Motel-Izombe Road was constructed. He also constructed the 4Km Road at Umuagwo-Umuoso in Ohaji/Egbema; the construction of road/erosion control at Awucha Rd Egwe in Oguta, the Eneka/Enugu/Philp Udoma Road in Oguta.
Hon. Irona is not an accidental political leader. He was prepared for the tasks ahead of him well enough. He was educated and well mentored by the revered maverick politician, Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe. Irona attended Priscilla Memorial Secondary School, Oguta, between 1980 and 1985. He was the Senior Prefect of his school. He has Higher National Diploma and Ordinary National Diploma in Chemical Engineering obtained from the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, and College of Technology – now Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, respectively. He obtained his Postgraduate Diploma in Management from Imo State University (IMSU). He also holds an Oxford University Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership; Raleigh University, North Carolina, United States Postgraduate Certificate in Budgeting and Budget Control, et cetera.
Apart from the leadership Irona has provided to his people, he is known for his loyalty. Loyalty, many say, is one the character traits that has sustained Irona both as a leader and politician. He is loyal to the people and to his leaders. He is not known for biting the fingers that fed him. Unlike some politicians that cut off the rope when they think they have achieved a fraction of what Irona has achieved, Irona remains loyal. He always has the burning desire to serve the people. From his time as councilor for Oguta Ward A, he has always sought for opportunities to serve his people. Whenever he got the opportunity, he had always remained the servant. No wonder he cannot be associated with any of the crises that have ravaged the oil producing LGAs of Oguta and Ohaji/Egbema. As a leader, he does not keep malice. He forgives his offenders freely from his heart, even without them rendering an apology. Sometimes he reaches out to his offenders for a closure. He does not keep count of offences.
Irona understands power play a lot. Having attended the Nzeribe School of Politics and having served in various capacities, he has well equipped himself with what power and authority are and how to show respect to power and authority. He believes in due process and never does it occur to him to usurp the powers of the other person. He is a fantastic follower. He is not betrayer. Irona believes in consultations as veritable means of building consensus and forging unity among the people. As a member of the House of Representatives, he would always consul with his constituents on what was best for them.
Coming with enviable character, education, exposure and cognate experience, Deputy Governor-Elect Rt. Hon. Gerald Irona will no doubt complement the qualities of our Governor-Elect Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. The outcome is that Imo State will enjoy a rancor free government propelled only by the desire and commitment to rebuild a battered Imo State.
…Collins Ughalaa could be reached via email: ughalaacollins@gmail.com, or via telephone: 07066222944.

OHAKIM’S RECORD BREAKING N26.27BN HANDOVER

0

It is amazing, outrightly curious, that eight years after His Excellency Dr. Ikedi Ohakim handed over the reins of power to his successor, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha, some people have suddenly found the courage to question his record breaking performances as Governor, especially the N26.27bn he handed over to him. In our quest for probity in the governance of the state, we must give honour to whom it is due. We must recognize the stellar performances of our leaders and shun sycophancy always. The successes of our leaders should not turn our bellies but give us joy and pride instead.

Ohakim became the Governor of Imo State on May 29, 2007. He took over from his predecessor, Chief Achike Udenwa. At that time the economy of the state was on its knees. Nothing was working. With a comatose civil service on strike, and N4.5bn owed them and their pensioners counterpart, the toll on the state economy was not a fairy tale. Added to the N6.8bn owed the councilors and local government chairmen that worked under the Udenwa administration and an empty treasury amidst massive allegations of corruption, it became obvious that only a competent hand could steer the ship of state to anchor safety. It is on this premise that we understand that the report that Governor Ikedi Ohakim saved and handed over N26.27bn to his successor has been troublesome to some people who have sworn not to accept the facts.
While Hon Mayor Eze, Chief Udenwa’s spokesperson, does not understand, and therefore cannot accept the fact that Ohakim handed over N26.27bn to Governor Rochas Okorocha, he claims that the said money was just bond and not cash anywhere. On the other hand, FCC Jones Onwuasoanya, the Director of Publicity for the Ugwumba Uche Nwosu Campaign Organization and an apologist of the Okorocha led APC government in the state is showing his confusion on what the true position is as regards to the money Ohakim handed over to his paymaster, Governror Okorocha. Characteristically, Onwuasoanya is relying on false figures from those who chose to spread falsehood on what Ohakim was doing and therefore were aiming at deceiving the people. Obviously, Onwuasoanya chose to ignore the facts. We cannot therefore rely on misleading figures from melancholic critics of the Ohakim era to arrive at the truth.
For instance, the article published on Reuters in 2009 which was quoted by Onwuasoanya that the Ikedi Ohakim had “raised a 40billions Naira bond from the capital market” is a lie from the pit of hell. It was part of the propaganda tools used against the Ikedi Ohakim administration with the purpose of misinforming the people and creating bad blood for the Ikedi Ohakim government. Relying on such unfounded and dishonest reports smacks of mischief and intellectual laziness, because a simple check with the Stock Market would show what the true position of the transaction the Ikedi Ohakim New Face Government had with it. Nothing could show the dishonesty in the quoted article than the claim that the Ohakim administration had no “meaningful project the state [was] embarking on”.
We proudly assert that the Ikedi Ohakim administration has not been rivaled in terms of vision, character, prudence, speed, innovation, accountability, due process and the rule of law and happiness of the people since 1999. As we speak, it has become obvious to most people in the state that the best performances of the Achike Udenwa and Okorocha administration fall into infinitesimal when put side by side the Ohakim era. This is why most people believe that Ohakim was stopped by the combined forces of opposition he faced primarily for the fear by certain persons that he has already outperformed them and that if allowed another four years in office, most people would forget their names in the shortest period of time. Sadly, today, the entire Southeast is still lamenting the lack of a seaport in the area.
As stated above and in my previous article titled: “UDENWA VS OHAKIM: THE CRUX OF THE MATTER AND THE DISTRACTIONS”, published on the back page of Daily Nigeria Horn newspaper of Thursday, May 8, 2019, and elsewhere, Ohakim became governor of Imo State without inheriting a kobo from his predecessor. As if that was not enough, he inherited a civil service that was on strike over months of nonpayment of salaries. He inherited a civil service that was demoralized with no training and promotions. Ohakim inherited a civil service that was aging with humongous corrupt practices. For example, it was discovered that a total of 673 workers on the payroll of the state were ghost workers with a monthly payment of N14,553,418. About 60,301 were over aged and 47 civil servants had stayed beyond the required 35 years in service.
It was not possible to leave the government grounded in the face of the empty treasury Ohakim inherited. Thus, believing that government should be the catalyst for economic development, the Ohakm government took on the gauntlet and came up with the magic wand. Part of Ohakim’s magic wand was to seek for development partners, local and foreign. The response from the development partners was encouraging, and this led to the idea of establishing long term revenue centered projects such as the Oguta Wonder Lake Resort and Conference Center, the refinery projects, the Imo Interconnectivity Freeway, the Enterprise Centers, the deep seaport at Osemoto-Oseokwa area, etc. The interesting thing about the Oguta Wonder Lake project was that it was initially recommended to Achike Udenwa by the transition committee he has set up, but he did not look at it for one minute. But Ohakim, knowing that such revenue centered projects were prerequisite for the turnaround of the economy of the state, he chose to tackle such projects, instead of embarking on brick and mortar projects that add no meaningful value to the economy and overall wellbeing of the people.
Since the Ikedi Ohakim government started without a kobo, how could the government meet its counterpart funding obligations with its development partners, especially in the face of the global economic meltdown with its attendant dwindling federal allocations and Internally Generated Revenue of the time? The commercial banks did not provide attractive option. In the midst of this economic quagmire, Ohakim headed straight to the Stock Market where he secured N18.3bn, not N100bn or N40bn as variously claimed by Ohakim’s critics. Despite the initial obstacle faced by this deft move as a result of the fact that Ohakim’s predecessor did not produce audited accounts of the state for eight years and the state government was required by the Stock Market to present audited account of the state for 10 years, Ohakim broke the records and became the first state Governor in the entire federation to raise funds from the Stock Market. Having obtained the N18.3bn, Ohakim ploughed it into the Oguta Wonder Lake project and others for which the funds were sourced in the first place.
Though Ohakim did not have enough time to see some of these projects through to their completion as they did not start on time due to some of the challenges enunciated above, the Oguta Wonder Lake project, the Imo Interconnectivity Freeway with two tollgates linking 19 local governments, the refinery projects, etc, had begun and gone on well by the time he left office. Of significant mention is the Enterprise Centers that begun and were completed at Naze in Owerri North Local Government and Orlu LGA.
Did Ohakim squander the money he raised from the Stock Market? No. Of the N18.3bn, he left N13.3bn in a UBA account and handed same over to Governor Okorocha. Pleasantly, the Okorocha government acknowledged that it got the money. Speaking on the N13.3bn fund in the UBA account, the former Commissioner for Finance, Hon Chike Okafor, told the Daily Sun in an interview on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, more than two years after Okorocha took over, that they got the said money but “channeled the fund into building 305 classroom blocks, building of ultramodern general hospitals in the 27 LGAs and some critical roads”. This admittance put paid to any false claim or supposition that the money Ohakim said he handed over were not cash in any bank. They were cash. On the other hand, that Ohakim did not squander the money but saved them and handed same over to his successor is highly commendable. We have had cases of governors borrowing money and squandering same. A case in point is the bailout fund that has been a subject of litigation in Imo State for years following reports that the money was siphoned and stolen eventually.
Apart from the remnant N13.3bn Stock Market fund left in a UBA account, the Ikedi Ohakim administration saved and handed over the sum of N26.27bn to Governor Okorocha in 2011. This was the money Okorocha saw and shouted that Imo State was rich. In his covenant affidavit of May 10, 2018, Ohakim said: “That in total, I saved and handed over to Governor Rochas Okorocha the sum of Twenty-Six Billion Two Hundred and Seventy Million (N26.27M), excluding various investments”. These monies included those in the Excess Crude Account, ISOPADEC account, IMSUBEB, Monthly Allocation, IGR, etc.
The truth is that Ohakim was the first Governor in the entire South East region to have left money behind for his successor. It is understandable that the loud noise in the state then, especially the loud and false propaganda that the state government under Okorocha had continued to run against the Ikedi Ohakim era, might have drowned the truth for the time being, it was not capable of burying the truth no matter what they did. The N26.27bn Ohakim handed over to Governor Okorocha is also contained in the handover note he handed over to him. Very soon we will be revealing much of the contents of the documents, which the Okorocha government has tried to bury. The Okorocha government felt that it had a reason to continue with the anti Ohakim propaganda because it was a product of false propaganda. The fear was that if Ohakim was not demonized with the instrument of government they now had, it was a matter of time the people got to know the truth and turned against them. But did the people eventually get to know the truth? Yes. Did they eventually disown the Okorocha led government? Yes.
Imo people should note also that for eight years the apologists of the state government had not refuted the sacred fact that Ohakim handed over N26.27bn to Okorocha in 2011. Up to now they are still asking questions and trying to create confusion where there is none. And for Onwuasoanya who has served the state government in the capacity of an apologist, he should have known from government records that Ohakim neither got N40bn nor N100bn from the Stock Market but rather saved and handed over N26.27bn to Governor Okorocha. It is abhorable that he pretended not to have known. It is more abhorable that he is still driving the negative and false narrative against the Ikedi Ohakim government as if Ohakim left the government yesterday.
We reassert that Ohakim remains the best of the three governors that have governed Imo State since 1999, putting all the parameters of governance together. We reiterate that Ohakim served Imo State with amazing integrity and Imo people are happy with him. He remains the only Governor in the state that did not acquire wealth or properties for himself, family or cronies. It is worthy of note that despite the claims that Ohakim owned half of the buildings on Wetheral Road, his 2019 governorship campaign office in Owerri was a rented apartment. Also, despite being Governor of the state, Ohakim lives in his three bedroom bungalow at Prefab which he built in 1992 when he was Commissioner. He still lives happily in this bungalow. This is the only house he has in the whole of Owerri.
In spite of attempts to obliterate Ohakim’s legacies, Imo people still remember the Imo Roads Maintenance Agency (IROMA) with assets worth N12.5bn. Imo people cannot forget the 10,000 jobs with N440M monthly salaries and over N5bn annual salaries. They cannot forget how Ohakim made money circulate in a time of world economic meltdown. Imo people cannot forget the Clean and Green Initiative that earned the state the cleanest city in the whole federation for three consecutive years – 2008, 2009 and 2010. This policy earned Ohakim a Fellowship Award from the Society of Landscape Architects of Nigeria in Abuja on Saturday, April 27, 2019.
Imo people will not forget that Ohakim was Mr. Quality Project and Mr. Due Process. They will not forget the Ahiajoku Convention Center, the new government house project at New Owerri, the new Governor’s Office (also known as The Pentagon), the Imo State Investment Promotion Agency (ISIPA) etc. They will not forget the Operation Festival that provided tight security to everyone. They will not forget that Ohakim brought the flyover projects. Imo people will not forget the Imo Interconnectivity Freeway, the boulevards, the refinery project, the Oguta Wonder Lake Resort and Conference Center, the Coourt of Appeal, the revitalization of the judiciary and the local government system and the health programmes.
They will not forget Ohakim’s Imo State Water Development Agency (IWADA) and his 1,952 water schemes. Imo people will continue to remember that Ohakim constructed more than 700km of roads and conducted local government election. They will remember that Ohakim banned the use of okada as means of commercial transportation. Imo people will remember that Ohakim brought keke, revitalized Imo Transport Company (ITC) Ltd, brought the traffic lights and established the Imo Municipal Transport Service (IMTS). They will remember that Ohakim founded the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo, with 18 course all accredited, and that he made the Alvan Ikoku College of Education a federal institution by handing it over to the federal government under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and since then it has been Alvan Ikeoku Federal College of Education.

…Collins Ughalaa could be reached via email: ughalaacollins@gmail.com, or via telephone: 07066222944.

In Chibueze Ughalaa, Ugha alala, There are No More Lies

0

With the continuous rise of social media use in the public domain, it is now easy for people masquerading as social media influencers to wake up on their pads and chunk out proper gibberish in the name of information and management. The worst is when these same people think that the real smartness is when one is able to conjure up words together in successful units, without consideration on the thought-process or even what the job profile really entails. Now, while it is easy for these guys to continue masquerading as experts, it is equally easy for the public to sieve the real grains from the chaffs.

In observing Imo election, one could easily notice the expertise and credibility displayed by Chief Ikedi Ohakim’s Chief Press Secretary, Chibueze Ughalaa. Amongst all those who held similar positions for the different candidates, he stands out. From the moment he was appointed to handle that office, he remained consistent in thoughts and manners. He understands that the nature of his job is beyond merely the dissemination of information (which anyone can do, of course, even the masquerades) but also to be the link between his boss (Chief Ohakim) and the general public. His common courtesy and promptness in responding to issues should be adopted by the other folks.

In the issuance of his Press Releases, Ughalaa is convinced on why a particular piece of information is important. If it’s not, he doesn’t go ahead to give it out. When we say that Sam Onwuemedo did a terrible job for Okorocha for instance, it is on the basis of his failure to first ask himself why his release is significant and not just because he is moved to conjure up words for his master. A Jones Onwusonye is better than Sam Onwuemeodu in this regard, even though the both are guilty of trying to impress with responses even when they have no answer. It is not out of place to go public when there is crises, but if you must do that, you must do that with what you know.

There are more lessons which people who occupy similar offices can learn from Ughalaa. Don’t say something because you want to say something, but because you have something to say.

“Peace, You’re the Matriarch of Nollywood,” Nigerian Filmmaker, Jeta Amata, Celebrates AMAA Founder, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe.

0

Popular Nigerian Filmmaker, Jeta Amata, has through a recent Facebook post, celebrated the giant strides of Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, Founder of the Africa Film Academy, curators of the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) on her contributions towards the growth of Filmmaking in Africa.

In the piece, which was neither a birthday message nor any celebratory felicitation, Jeta Amata describes Peace Anyiam-Osigwe as the ‘Matriarch of Nollywood’ who deserves to be celebrated everyday, adding that the industry will ‘forever owe her.’ He wrote:

“Peace Anyiam-Osigwe and I were having lunch in Berlin in 2004 while at the Berlinale, it was one of Nollywood’s first major showcase at the international stage. At one point while she talked, all I could think about was her wit. I told her I was going to make a film on 35mm that year even if I didn’t know how to finance it at that time, and her words of encouragement empowered me to see that dream come to reality. At that same lunch was when she told me she was finalizing plans for the setting up of the Africa Academy Movie Awards. Peace is not just special, she’s insightful and Nollywood will forever owe her. I had written her a personal message, but I feel it pertinent to celebrate her publicly. Peace, you’re the Matriarch of Nollywood.

“I know it’s not your birthday, but you do deserve to celebrate everyday for what you’ve achieved.”

Peace’s role in taking Nollywood to the global stage cannot be overemphasized. Under her Africa Film Academy, over 20,000 African youths from Nigeria, Malawi, Rwanda, Ghana, Zimbabwe and more have been trained in filmmaking.

She founded the globally acclaimed film ceremony, the Africa Movie Academy Awards in 2005. It has been consistently and uninterruptedly held for the past fifteen years in different African countries and has succeeded in putting the African film industry in the global map for films.

The last event was held in the Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda on 20th October, 2018. The night gathered stars under one galaxy, as there were celebrities from different part of Africa, including men and women in politics, business and education.

The 2019 AMAA events are now lined up, beginning with a workshop for the training of young filmmakers and AMAA Road shows in South Eastern, Nigeria.

Eze Owerri Protests Against Bad Government, Sits On Mud and Cries Out

0

A Student Traditional Eze Owerri, of Imo State University, Eze Augustine Blaise Chiagorom, has protested against the bad government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha, by sitting on the mud and wishing a good morning to all Imolites, including passerbys on the street.

Eze Chiagorom who is popularly known for his outspokenness, posted rare pictures of himself in that manner on his Facebook Page and wrote:

#INUKWA…

Ndị Imo unabolachi

Happy birthday to my beloved governor Owelle Anayo Rochas Ethelbert Okorocha…

I am wishing from #UMUOVUM ULAKWO in owerri North LGA, a community that has a house member respresenting them in Imo house of Assembly, a community that has a Representative in the green Chambers, a community that has a Senator in the Red Chambers, and a community that has a governor who earlier this year commissioned this roads on the media…

Biko my people are just asking for the dividends of democracy dazzol…

#Ala ajoola njọ
#Kposhi kposhi

Cobhams Asuquo Releases New Music Video, Directed by Blessing Uzzi

0

Popular Nigerian artiste, Cobhams Asoquo has just released his new music video, entitled, Starlight. And it was directed by our very own Blessing Uzzi.

This latest offering, just like One Hit, confirms Cobham’s place as a music lion.

Enjoy!

 

 

Shocking: Robber Jumps Into Lagoon with gang’s loot

0
Operatives of the Rapid Response Squad have arrested three one-chance robbers in Lagos while one of them reportedly jumped into the lagoon with the gang’s loot. According to a post on their page, the suspects were arrested on the Third Mainland Bridge on Monday, September 3, after a chase by the Rapid Response Squad patrol team monitoring Iyana-Oworo. The suspects confessed that they have been engaging in the crime for more than three months.
The robbers were identified as John Akinyemi, 27; Paul Oliseh, 37 and Amos Williams, 12. The policemen after being informed that the one-chance robbers were operating around the area, chased the bus, a Volkwagen Transporter with the registration number, AKD 562 XP to the bridge.

Onyeka Nwelue’s A Country of Extraordinary Ghosts: A Platonic Ideal of How Not To Kill The World by Odega Shawa

0
A Country of Extraordinary Ghosts by Onyeka Nwelue

Review By Odega Shawa

The first thing anybody should do when they pick up Onyeka Nwelue’s novel, A Country of Extraordinary Ghosts, is think of Amos Tutuola’s classic The Palm-Wine Drinkard and his Dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads’ Town.

Without this elevation of socio-cultural, and in Nwelue’s case urban, consciousness, the entire folksy nature of the fiery metaphors that start tearing at the reader right from the first lines of the story falls short of the arcane initiation the entire novel was strategically positioned to be.

The magic of the novel’s plot movement lures one to not see men like trees, as the blind man with the half miracle cure told Jesus Christ. A disembodied spirit floats through the central narrative, taking on his two bodies, his two lives, as these cut open the very fabrics of experience for us to see what lies under the thing that lies under what we think is reality. In one amorphous perspective of this central character: ‘Sodom is Lagos and Lagos is Sodom.’

There you have it.

The story takes place in Sodom and Lagos, two worlds apart that share yet a common bond in the dissolution of both moral and vision. Not just for individuals or the numerous characters, naa. Even for entire nations, this disintegration of the core significant qualities that constitute progressive existence means that blindness will become common in all spheres of life, with its attendant catastrophes.

In one of his more insightful moments the hero, there is doubt he will accept such a tag without argument, peels off from the main narrative what precisely the crises has become in the real Sodom-Lagos, just like a few moments ago a beautiful ashawo (prostitute) peeled off his pants inside her shack on the streets of Lagos:

‘The people… never did think about the future. They were drinking, whoring or fighting. No one was thinking about anything. No one was thinking about phones, or machines or birds that could carry people.’

This is blindness at work of course.

In Sodom a similar blindness ensured the death of the city because it caused the inhabitants to demand the rape of God’s angels. The warning is that in Lagos it could cause the death of an urban stronghold that meticulously plans megacities for the well to do, but no word on the survival of the masses who sleep in shacks as tiny and as imaginably uncomfortable as ‘chicken houses’. The gutter leaks sewage and urine. The roof does not keep away rain on stormy nights.

Yet just across town other people have five million naira to waste on one-night parties. The flashy lights all go to the top, ignoring the swarming termites below that can possibly gnaw the mighty tree down.

In the cosmology of A Country of Extraordinary Ghosts Sodom is a progression of the same destructive arc that Lagos must avoid. Maybe your city, too. Maybe your country and your continent.

The novel is not just a social commentary of course. It is a spiritual guide on how not to let a society die.

The prevalent erotic tone of the narrative is a ruse. The characters use it to escape from their own existential deformities, something they are powerless to deal with on their own.

The way a typical Lagos ruffian deals with inner sensitive awareness of the rot around him is beer, marijuana and prostitutes. Looking at this external nature one can hiss and look away in disdain. The hostile ruggedness of the typical Lagos ‘area boy’ of course is the same as the hostile ruggedness of the men of Sodom who surrounded Lot’s house, demanding the angels of God for sexual assault. At least in their case the Lagos area boys and girls, who the central character falls among in his teleportation from Sodom, use their hostility as a survival tool. They have little choice.

They are not monsters, these Lagos area people. They welcome the stranger among them and seeks to protect him, to plant him in their world. They are redeemable. As the saying goes in Lagos: na condition make crayfish bend. It was nurture, not nature, that created their world and its outward bad reputation.

Because of this bad reputation, the police needed little provocation to round up our hero and his friends after an all-night party. A Roman Catholic priest appears to bail him, then, as fast, proceeds to adopt him. They take a trip to the Vatican.

This is the last encounter of redemption, or is supposed to be, since religion itself is a metaphor for spirituality. If all else fails, then we still have our spiritual ideals, right. However, the question remains: how do you redeem yourself in an environment where you cannot remain righteous, by default?

‘…there was a knock on the door, I opened it, and it was Father Ajayi. He walked into the room, laid his head on my bed, opened his short and brought out his penis, and then, he looked me in the eye and said, “Atone for your sins.”’

Instead of a strong and rational punishment, a counter atonement if you like, the Father, when he is discovered, one among many other wolves in sheep’s clothing, is merely transferred to another parish by the custodians of his venerable office.

In this way, with the spiritual outlet of redemption also blocked by the wolves tending the sheep, A Country of Extraordinary Ghosts stabs you awake with its final siren: we all carry our last trumpets with us, and disembodied, in transit or living, we can blast it whenever we want, for all it is worth. Heaven may not have any voice stronger than the voice in your head that says evil is evil, no matter who is doing evil. If we all listen to this voice, eventually, it may be possible to squeeze the Sodom from Lagos, to squeeze a better outcome from a bad example.

Odega Shawa is a writer, poet, and the author of ‘The Biafra Manifesto.’

 

Oshiomhole accuses Fayose of retrieving PVCs from residents

0
  •  Ahead of the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti state, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has accused the state Governor, Ayo Fayose of ordering the retrieval of Permanent Voter Cards PVCs from people while also asking heads of the state-owned tertiary institutions in the state to award 20 marks to students who vote for the PDP in the elections. Oshiomhole spoke Friday at the national secretariat of the party shortly after a meeting of the National Working Committee NWC of the party. “There is no better evidence than the fact that PDP is panicking. You must have heard the report that, in clear violation of the Electoral Act, the outgoing Governor of Ekiti State, Gov. Fayose has instructed the civil servants, principals of schools, headmasters of schools to retrieve PVCs from civil servants because he is afraid and I believe that the civil servants and the teachers in Ekiti state will not vote for him and their families will not vote for him and they will of course, as enlightened people, they are helping to educate other members of Ekiti community why Fayose is a disaster. “You haven’t paid people for one year, in spite of the fact that the Federal Government had given Fayose bailout repeatedly and he chose to divert the money to other purposes. “Like every ….(expletives), Fayose is afraid that the instruments he used in getting to power would be used against him. Why is he collecting PVCs from registered voters? Why is he querying people that refused to surrender their PVCs? Why is he harassing heads of tertiary institutions in the state asking them to give 20 marks to anyone who votes for the PDP?”, he queried.

Ekweremadu congratulates Ugwuanyi, Saraki on Supreme Court victories

0

Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu has congratulated Governor Ifeanyi Uwuanyi of Enugu state, on his victory in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, 2015 governorship primary legal tussle between him and Senator Ayogu Eze. •Senator Ekewremadu The Supreme court on Friday decided the challenge by Ayogu Eze and discussed the appeal for lack of merit. Ekweremadu also congratulated Senate President, Bukola Saraki on the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision dismissing the assets declaration charges against him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Ekweremadu said Saraki’s victory was a Triumph for the legislature and democracy. Ekweremadu described Governor Ugwuanyi as a “God-sent agent of peace and development in Enugu State,” noting that the Supreme Court had affirmed not only the verdict of Enugu State PDP faithful in the 2015 gubernatorial primary, but also the overwhelming acceptance of the Governor among the people of the State. The Deputy Senate President in statement through his Special Adviser on Media Mr. Uche Anichukwu said: “This is victory, not just for Governor Ugwuanyi, but also more importantly a victory for peace, equitable development, and unusual transformation in Enugu State. “I believe it is a motivation for the Governor to do more and surely a veritable launch pad into the 2019 general elections for the PDP in the State. It is instructive that the three Senatorial Districts of Enugu State have already endorsed him unanimously for a second term in office because he has justified our decision in electing him in 2015”. On Senator Saraki’s victory, Ekweremadu said: “I salute the courage of the Supreme Court jurists.

RECENT POSTS