Dec 25, 2007

Merry Christmas + Naija Bloggers Party

This is to wish all my subscribers and readers Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Christmas comes but once a year, so enjoy yourself as much as you can. Be careful though, and remember "If you drink, don't drive and if you drive, don't drink!

The Naija Bloggers Party will come up on Saturday, Jan 5. The venue has not yet been fixed. I'll notify you as soon as it is fixed.

I'll leave you with this video from NSync. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!


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Dec 10, 2007

Christmas Traffic

Christmas time is here again, and so is Christmas Traffic. How such an unpleasant thing came to be associated with such a pleasant thing baffles me, however if you live in Lagos, you'll agree that Christmas is synonymous with traffic. Nigerians in the diaspora return home from all over the world with a majority of them coming to Lagos, and holiday makers and shoppers flood to the markets and malls in search of the perfect Christmas gift. It all leads to increased movement and a corresponding increase in traffic.

A notorious road for traffic jams is Ikorodu road, one of the busiest roads in Lagos Mainland. The government has not helped matters in any way. First a full lane was cordoned off the 3 lane road for the BRT project leaving motorists to jostle for the insufficient two lanes. Now after over a year, the BRT project is far from complete. To make matters worse, the service lane is presently being demolished due to an ongoing pipe laying project reducing the capacity to 1 lane instead of 2. Thus the present capacity of Ikorodu road has been reduced from 5 lanes to 3 lanes, which has effectively multiplied the time spent on this road by 3, 4, 5 up to 10. How else will you explain a 10 minute journey from Ikeja to Ilupeju taking 120 minutes? Amidst the hold up, you'll see an occasional heated argument between 2 vehicle owners that have run into each other with their vehicles constituting another bottle neck. If one of the vehicles is commercial, it'll only make matters worse. You'll also spot the occasional car (Usually a Mercedes Benz) on the side of the road steaming from over heat with the driver frantically trying to fan, add water and stay calm all at the same time. You'll also see the street hawkers trying their best to sell all kinds of wares as they maneuver their ways deftly between the car. Finally you'll unmistakably notice the angry faces of the drivers who have no idea how long they'll be stuck in the traffic and who also know they're powerless to do anything about it.

I personally see no reason why two traffic-affecting projects should be executed side by side, what with the Government's seeming habit of starting and not finishing. Why would the pipe laying project start when the BRT project is far from finished and for the most part seemingly abandoned? Who does such thinking for the Government? Someone is definitely not worth his salt. Now that Christmas shopping has not even started for most people, and most of the travelers are yet to arrive, I wonder what will happen 3 days before Christmas. I'm already contemplating on leaving my car at home and resorting to more subtle means of transportation, eg Okada or I might just get myself a bicycle.

Anyway, that's enough ranting, let me move on to some good stuff. I passed under the Maryland Bridge yesterday night and I was really impressed. Street lights were full and very bright. Flowers lined the middle of the streets and everything was beautiful. I almost felt like stopping and making a picnic camp right under the street lights. Driving through Ilupeju last week, I also noticed that the roads leading to and from Coker roundabout have been tarred as well as several roads in Yaba. VI - Lekki road is also presently undergoing a major expansion which should alleviate the traffic situation in that area. Hey, good stuff is happening too! It's not just happening as fast as we would like it to be. But patience is after all a virtue, we have no choice but to remain patient. Have a traffic-free Christmas.

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Dec 1, 2007

Tagged - Weird things + 30 days of Thankfulness

I've never been tagged on blogsville, and I've never even expected to be tagged. However, within the last 2 weeks, I received 3 tags in quick succession from Bobby Taylor, Pamela Stitch and Aloted, welldone to you guys, putting me on the line like that. Anyway, after days of deliberating, I've decided to reply your tags.

Weird things about me

I was tagged by Bobby Taylor and Pamela Stitch. Thanks for tagging me. You set me thinking up all this stuff about myself.

1. I'm not much of a football fan. I don't run after premiership matches and I don't participate in arguments about why ManU is better than Arsenal or why Chelsea won Man City. I used to be a ManU fan but was not too much of an active fan. I watch World Cup, African Nations Cup, Olympics, but when Nigeria is out, I lose interest.

2. I'm from Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. However, I can't find my way to my hometown. I don't even know where my family house is. My Dad grew up in the North and in Lagos and he didn't have much contact with home either. In my whole life, I might have been there once or twice.

3. I hate traffic. I prefer driving for two hours on a free road to getting stuck for an hour in traffic. Some time ago, I went to drop a friend in Surulere and was to go back to Maryland. When I saw the traffic on the other side between Surulere and Jibowu, I turned right at the stadium and drove all the way to Marina, then proceeded to the 3rd Mainland Bridge, came down at Ojota and found my way to Maryland. Long journey I know, but I didn't mind since I avoided the traffic.

4. I rarely get sick. The last time I had malaria was over a year ago. The last time before then was probably 5 years ago or thereabouts. Also, I can endure the highest number of mosquito bites without any disfigure or discomfort to my skin. While others are nursing sore skin and itches due to mosquite bites, I just need to get under a cold shower and everything's back to normal.

5. I can concentrate in very noisy and rowdy places. I've once revised for an exam at a busy airport terminal where I was waiting to pick up my cousin. The exam was later in the morning and his arrival was delayed, I brought out my revision book and trust me, the jacking entered well well, and I passed well well.

6. I know too much technological stuff for my health. I can do things with my phone that people never believed can be done. Things like having an auto SMS sent to everyone who calls me (an sms answering machine), using my phone as a remote control for the TV through infrared, logging on to my laptop through my phone, etc.

7. A friend once nicknamed me Jason Bourne. This is because I can be different things to different people. It's not about me having multiple personalities. It's just about what part of me you're able to relate to.

Ok, I guess that's enough weirdness for one day!

I hereby tag Laspapi, Akin Aworan, Ore, Jaycee, Mimi, OmoAlagbede and Aloted. You guys blog too much about serious stuff (especially you Ore), you need to loosen up (like I just did) ... lol. Omodudu, you lucky say them don tag you already o, otherwise you would have been the first on this list!

Here are the rules
1) Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog
2) Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs
4) Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

30 Days of Thankfulness

I got tagged by Aloted. Thanks for tagging me. I'm first thankful for that.

I'm thankful for:

1. My Life - I'm thankful for my life because without it, I would be nothing. It's a chance to be on the earth to create a change and leave a legacy. I pray I'll achieve things that will make me remembered long after I'm gone.
2. My Family - I'm thankful for my family, for bringing me into this world and for being the first friends I ever had. The were the first examples I ever observed. The first people who taught me, brought me up and gave me a sense of belonging. They played the most major role in making me who I am today.
3. My Friends - True friends are gifts. No one deserves them. I'm thankful for all the friends I've ever made. My close friends and not-so-close ones, and even those who don't like me. You all add to the spice of life and you've all made me who I am.
4. My Country - I'm grateful for this country and would never exchange it for any other. Though the present situation leaves much to be desired, I'm confident that things are changing, and I must be a part of that change.
5. My Job - Even though at times I don't feel like leaving my home to go to work, I'm still thankful because my job is something I enjoy (unlike many people I know), and the organization I work for can be considered the best in it's field. It's a rare privilege to work for my company.
6. The Internet - Where would we be without the Internet? I can't even imagine. Kids being born today will never know there was a time in which owning a computer was considered a luxury. I'm thankful for having been a part of both worlds.
7. Blogger - I'm thankful for and the world of blogging, for creating a perfect avenue where I can express my thoughts and opinions about issues, and have people read and tell me what they think. I'm not thankful for the addiction though.

For this, I tag Bobby Taylor (getting back at you, girl!), Ababoy, Overwhelmed, and Nneka.

I don't know the rules for this one. I think it's supposed to run for 30 days, but then again, there's always something to give thanks for, so I'm not posting any rules. You guys are free to be thankful in anyway you wish. Just make sure you are thankful.

I wish all my readers a great week ahead.

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Nov 15, 2007

We're ready to probe Obasanjo - EFCC

I was surprised and somewhat shocked when I saw this headline in the punch newspapers of today. Obasanjo to be probed by the EFCC? Now that's a kind of story I've not heard of in a long long time. Ex-presidents in Nigeria have always been untouchable, basking away in some remote place with enough wealth to last them for several lifetimes. Well, within the next few weeks I'll like to see the answers to the following questions.

1. Will he actually be probed?
2. If yes, will the EFCC follow due process in the probe?
3. If yes, will the EFCC "find" any evidence to prosecute him?
4. If yes, will he actually be prosecuted?

I suspect that the answer to the first question will be "Yes", and answers to the next three will be "No". Anyway, let's see how it goes. EFCC, over to you.
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Nov 11, 2007

Motherland Updates

President Yar'Adua presents Budget
President Yar'Adua has presented a budget of N2.4tn to the National Assembly during a joint session which he attended a few days ago. Highlights of the proposed budgets are
Security and Niger Delta - N444.6bn
Education - N210bn
Energy sector - N139.78bn
Health - N138.17bn
Agriculture and Water Resources - N121.1
Transportation - N94.4bn
Poverty reduction initiatives & programmes - N110bn
Debt service - N372.3bn
Pensions -N99.7bn

It looks like President Yar'Adua's priorities are in the interest of Nigeria's development and a heart for the common man. Our security system and the Niger Delta surely need a revamp. The education sector is of great importance if we're to reduce brain drain and Nigerians in the diaspora. The energy sector needs no comment, we all know how it is. Health is another vital sector. Our Agriculture needs to get back to where it was before the Oil Boom. We used to export cocoa, rubber, oil palm, groundnuts, etc. I wonder where all that went. Transportation needs no expatiation. We know how much valuable and resourceful time is wasted on the roads. I'll say this budget was well put together. We await the approval and most importantly, the implementation.

Hon. Bankole presents his NYSC discharge certificate
The new speaker of the house of representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole is a young man. At only 38, he has become the No. 4 man in the nation. However, after barely a week in office, anonymous opponents accused him of dodging the NYSC compulsory service. In a quick counter move, he silenced them by producing his certificate. You can imagine what would have happened if he had actually not undergone the NYSC service. The press would have had a field day, and the House of Reps which has endured one scandal too many would become seriously unstable.
So all you Nigerians in diaspora, make sure you go for your NYSC, in case it comes back to haunt you.
BTW, how come this reminds me of blogsville? Those anonymous opponents probably started off by leaving anonymous comments on blogs. Hmmm ... some things never change ... lol.

New Blogger on the block
My friend "Comrade" has finally bowed to internal and external pressure and opened a blog. He writes about Nigeria and events generally. He presents his articles with a hilarious tint but his points hit home. His blog can be accessed here.

Omoalagbede, Ore
I was at the Lagos Book and Arts festival yesterday and met with Laspapi (playwright, poet, lawyer, dreamer, etc) for the first time. Omoalagbede was also there as well as Ore. Below is a picture of Laspapi, OmoAlagbede and Myself. It was dark though, but I kinda like the effect. Omoalagbede's face is not too clear, so I'm not breaking his anonymity.


I guess that's enough for an update. Wish you all a fulfilling week ahead.

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Oct 29, 2007

From Nigeria to Ghana by Bus

Time: 0900hrs
Location: National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos
Mode of transportation: Bus
ETA: 2000hrs

I was excited and thrilled. Having never stepped out of Nigeria in my entire life, I had every reason to be. I had already met a few friends and we had discussed how we were going to enjoy the scenery, have fun at the borders and marvel about being in 4 different countries all within a day. Unfortunately for us, we were about to go through some shocking experiences which made me conclude that most of the problems we have in Nigeria are caused by Nigerians themselves. I’ll start the story from the departure point.

We boarded the bus at Surulere under the bridge opposite the National Stadium. When we were ready to move, the first of the problems came up. Area Boys, (a popular menace in Lagos, Nigeria) held us hostage and refused to let the bus move. Why? The bus had just loaded in their territory and being the territorial terrorists guardians, they were entitled to territorial fees! Talk about Robin Hood and the Sherwood Forest, except this time it was not for a common good! Fortunately though, we were bailed out by some mobile policemen not too far from the area. A minor setback, I thought ... little did I know.

The next experience was at the Seme Border. Some curious okada-like tricycles were riding past and a friend of mine (Gbolade) brought out his camera and took a picture. Suddenly, Customs officials appeared in the bus as if from nowhere and started shouting furiously, "Who is that?", "Bring that camera here", "Move outside" and other such phrases associated with the military. His camera was confiscated and he was taken away for some brief "questioning", during which his memory card was explored and the images deleted. I thought to myself, "OK, even if there's a law against taking pictures at borders, and yes someone broke that law, why should you talk to him like a kid, snatch his camera and march him outside like some criminal without exhibiting one iota of professionalism?" I realised that that was just the typical Naija definition of Law enforcement which we're supposed to be used to.

The next experience was when a friend and I stepped out of the bus in search of a toilet or secluded area where we could do the No 1. Finding no convenient place, I left my friend and turned back, when suddenly, some rough looking fellow approached me and said, "Officer dey call you". I looked at the "Officer", and behold, I've never seen a more shabbily dressed officer. This "officer" guy was in ragged jeans and a dirty T-shirt. Thinking to myself, "This guy think say them born me yesterday", I said to him "Which officer? Wey im uniform? ... Tell am make he come meet me for inside my bus". Nonsense and Concorbility. However, a fellow traveller was not so lucky. He obeyed the "officers" and they told him to declare the currency in his possesion. He did and after their "inspection", N500 had disappeared. Now what do you call that? Theft, extortion, or what?

We spent the next 4 hours at the border waiting for our passports to be stamped for exit from Nigeria. 4 hours in the hot sun in a bus with the engine and AC switched off is no joke in any way. During this time, the frequent travellers amongst us (apparently identified through the VISAs on their passports) were invited for a special session of silly questioning like "What did you go to do in France?" , "Who did you stay with in London" etc. all this while, I noticed Okadas crossing the borders freely with passengers without any such thing as a security check. All they needed to do was drop an undisclosed amount of money with the guards at the gates. Eventually, we were stamped out of Nigeria and surprisingly we were stamped into Benin Republic in under 30 minutes. We crossed the border and drove into Cotonou, and lo and behold ... it was like heaven ... compared to where we were coming from.

Cotonou is a beautiful city. During our drive through, we did not step into a single pot hole in the roads, neither did we pass through any undulating patch. The street lights were all complete and shone brightly. There were no traffic jam and we soon got to the Benin/Togo border. In about 20 minutess we were in Togo. I then thought to myself, "Have we just crossed a border?". It took us just 20 minutes and I couldn't believe it. We crossed a border in a strange land in a fraction of the time it took to cross our own border. Did those people trust us more than our Nigerian brothers did? We got to the Ghana/Togo border and it was the same thing. Within 45 minutes we had gone through. The Ghanian officials were very polite. A soldier came into the bus to look through the bus. He was very well mannered, friendly and looked quite decent and neat. He soon became a subject of discussion on the bus. On comparison with our recollections of Nigerian soldiers, he stood miles apart.

At the Ghanaian border we were treated like invited guests and tourists. At the Nigerian Border, we were treated like spies and criminals ... without any reason. At the Ghanaian border, we were people to be reckoned with. At the Nigerian border, we were just another number of people, opportunities for the Nigerian officials to make money. I used to think that the whole of Africa was like Nigeria, but like the popular yoruba adage, I had to visit another farm to know that my father's farm wasn't the biggest. Nigerians really do cause problems for Nigerians.

The trip opened my eyes to 3 problems that are prevalent, and need to be addressed ASAP.
  1. Autocracy. The "Do as I say, because I say so" syndrome exhibited by everyone with any measure of authority.
  2. Corruption. In many places, the officials are not just corrupt, corruption has become official.
  3. Crime. Starting with such little things as swindling innocent people of little sums of money, it soon blows out if not arrested.
I know I promised not to write any bad thing about Nigeria, but I had to put this up, so we'll know exactly what we're up against. We are the cause of our own problems, and by the Grace of God, we shall be the solution. God Bless Nigeria.

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Oct 21, 2007

Back from AWOL!

Yes o! I'm back finally from AWOL. I've been away for the past seven days to London Ghana to see the queen! OK, seriously though, I was selected as one of 101 young African leaders to attend the 5th African Business Leaders Forum in Ghana. Internet access and free time were almost a luxury and I rarely checked my blog talk less of updating. For me, it was more than a life time experience. I met and interacted with more "Big Men" than I have ever seen in my whole life. CEOs, Company Executives, Directors, Politicians, the Governor of Ogun State, several commisioners in Ogun State, Dr Fayemi (to-be Governor of Ekiti State) and many more. What more could one ask for?

I also networked with fellow delegates and I realized that young Africans have so much potential locked within them. There were times I felt I did not deserve being selected among the 101. These young people are consultants, facilitators, entrepreneurs, writers, motivational speakers, national award winners, etc with lots of achievements trailing them. Now, I'm all the more convinced that Africa has a great future and that this future is in the hands of young people like you and I. It's time we took a stand, it's time we spoke up, it's time we fought back in whatever way we can. Our leaders have stolen our past, our present and some are now trying to steal our future. We need to reclaim that future and then create a better future for our kids. I shall be updating soon with events and lessons I took away from the conference and the journey. I know for sure that something great is about to happen ... you and I shall be a part of it.

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Oct 12, 2007

Female Artists on the Rise

Within the last few months, female artists have been on the rise in the Naija music industry, an industry pre-dominated by males. Performers such as Weird MC, Sasha, Bouqui, Ashionye have kept their own against their male counterparts and new artists are gathering the courage to enter the limelight. My favourite female artists right now are Asa and TY Bello.

Bukola Elemide A.K.A Asa is a multi-talented female musician and artist. Her name is the yoruba translation of "Hawk". Seeing her for the first time, one might be tempted to write her off as a quiet nerdy type and underestimate her abilites, but just like the Hawk, no one sees her coming. She recently did a song "Fire on the mountain", which is currently gaining lots of airplay in Nigeria, France and all over the world. With great vocal abilities which remind you of India Arie and Lauryn Hill, she passes across a message of awakening. The song is available below.

TY Bello is not someone whom many people can forget in a hurry. She was a member of the group "Kush" which comprised such talents as Dapo Torimiro, Lara Bajomo (now Lara George), Emem and herself. After nearly 2 years in the studio, she's now out with her first solo album titled "Green Land". With a strong Alto voice, she wove her lyrics and notes expertly. The title song "The land is green" immediately leapt out of the album and started getting massive airplay. She also recorded a video which caught on with viewers nationally and internationally. View it below.

If you're feeling these songs as much as I am, I'll implore you to go get those albums. Buy the original CDs so you can encourage these ladies. Both albums can be got from Nu Metro Media stores at Silverbird Galleria, V.I. or The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki.

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Sep 16, 2007

Math ... And The Lagos Survivor

A survivor in Lagos must understand simple, complex and "Naija" mathematics, and he must learn how to use them all to his advantage. If you disagree, how else would you explain these scenarios?

Rent for a standard shop in Lagos would cost anything from N10000 - N50000 per month and a would-be shopkeeper is required to pay 12-24 months in advance depending on the location. On the other hand, a used Volkswagen Beetle costs N25000 - N40000, is portable, and can carry your market to where the audience is ... and that's how I came across this mobile and portable Audio CD shop on wheels complete with an amplifier, a speaker, showglass and sales girls! Unfortunately, I couldn't take too many pictures before the "sales manager" became suspicious. Now that's a survivor ... to say the least, and he knows his Naija math and how to manipulate it to his advantage!

This picture was sent in by a friend ... a fellow freelance (cellphone) photographer. It brought back memories of those arithmetic questions in primary school. Questions like "If it costs N40 to carry 1 tire from point A to point B, how much will it cost to carry 4 tires from point A to point B?" Alas in Okada Arithmetic (a subset of Naija Math), the answer is neither N160 or N40. This young man in the picture below will pay something like N60 / N80 to convey those 4 tires. The price will also depend on his haggling power. Now look what he's gained. He gets his merchandise to his location faster and will have saved N100 - N120, money which will make a lot of sense in Iya Basira's buka where he'll have his lunch. Another survivor, another mathematician.

Typical rainy afternoon in Lagos. Mr Someone was very angry. Whenever it rains, the traffic in Lagos increases exponentially. He would use up a lot of time and fuel for his truck in transporting his cassava from his farm in Mowe to his house in Iyana Ipaja. He usually did two trips on an average day, but the rains and the unavoidable subsequent traffic jams would not allow for two trips. So what does he do? He decided to do some math. He would transport two truck loads of cassava in exactly the same time and using the same amount of resources it would take to transport one load. Well, I happened to be driving behind him in the rain, and I'm sure his truck did not share his thoughts. The bumpers were almost touching the road ... but again, Mr Someone was true to his words ... and took 2 loads of cassava to Lagos in one trip. After all, it's not his fault that there's traffic, is it?

If cars could talk ... I wonder what this one would say.

On this note, I'd like to announce my return to Blogsville. I'm sorry for the long absence, it was due to circumstances beyond my control (seriously). Thank you for staying tuned, and waiting for me. I return a survivor and I know my math. Have a nice week.

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Aug 16, 2007

A Tale of Two Zeros ... and Charles Soludo

A few days ago Prof. Charles Soludo, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave a speech titled "The strategic agenda for the Naira" which emphasized the re-denomination of the Naira currency. Quoting from his speech,
The restructuring, called currency re-denomination in financial parlance, will see the current N1,000 notes become N10; N500 becomes N5 and N100 becomes N1.

With the policy, all naira assets and contracts will be re-denominated from August 1, 2008.

Any product that currently sells for N1,000 will expectedly be sold for N10 while a contractor who is owed N1 million by the Federal Government will be paid N10,000.

This speech has immediately raised a lot of issues and topics for discussion by Nigerians both at home and in diaspora. Many people want to know what the implications will be for them. As usual, many nigerians have different misconceptions of the whole exercise. Some want to know how it will affect foreign exchange and what will happen to those who store money in USD and GBP.

What's actually happening is that the Naira will lose 2 Zeros. A dollar will be exchanged for N1.25 as against N125. Consequently all prices would be adjusted appropriately. N100 will become equal to N1. An employee with an annual salary of N2,000,000 will have his salary readjusted to N20,000 ... and Millionaires will become thousand-naires. Now before you get worried, it helps to know that the prices of goods and services will also be adjusted appropriately. This means that a book that presently costs N2000 will be adjusted to N20. A bottle of coke which goes for N40 will be adjusted to 40k. Thus if I had N400 to buy bottles of coke before the re denomination, it'll fetch me 10 bottles. After the re denomination, my N400 will become N4 but a bottle of coke will also become cost 40k, thus I'll still be able to buy 10 bottles. All that's happening in essence is just the elimination of 2 zeros. In simpler terms, bus fare from Maryland to Ojuelegba will become 50k, lunch at Mr Biggs will become N5, toll gate fee at airport road will become N1, a stick of Suya from Mallam Aminu will become N1 and a movie at Silverbird Cinemas will beome N10. Interesting, isn't it?

One thing the CBN declined to mention - will the present Naira notes be changed? I don't see how this project will be feasible if they are not. I can hoard N20 notes and bring them out after the valuation knowing that they'll be worth 100 times more than what they're worth now. Also some major challenges I foresee in project are -
  • Achievement of a smooth transition within a day.
  • Synchronization of pending transactions carried over from before the re-denomination.
  • Withdrawal of old notes in circulation and distribution of new notes.
  • Public Misconception leading to excessive activity in the Money markets invariably leading to Heavy Purchase or Liquidation of shares, Foreign Exchange, etc.
  • Enlightenment of the semi-literate category of people - the market woman, the shoe maker, the mechanic, etc.
Also, some sellers will not adjust their prices accordingly but will approximate and round up to favor themselves. Buyers won't know, because nobody will be cramming the prices before the re-denomination.

Now let's ask ourselves a vital question. Will this re denomination be worth it? Nigeria will once again expend a lot of funds and resources on logistics and planning of this project. The only advantage I can see is just a beautification of the currency. The Naira will look better on the international scene, but the value will remain the same. Also the factors which were responsible for the initial decline of the Naira are still much available and living in our midst. Why not use all these resources to arrest the decline and work on making the Naira appreciate in value? Is the re-denomination really the best option for the Federal Government and the CBN?

I have great respect for Charles Soludo and I trust he knows what he's doing. It is worth noting that the re denomination exercise has been carried out with success in several countries including Ghana, Brazil, etc. I'll be watching carefully so I can position myself favorably. Like a friend of mine said yesterday, "When the re-denomination is carried out, I'd rather be a seller than a buyer". I agree with him to a large extent ... but only time will tell.

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Aug 12, 2007

Unavailable? Please Try Again Later!

The number you are calling is currently unavailable ... Please try again later.
Famous words from Telecomms operators worldwide! I wonder how you feel when you hear those words while trying to make an important call. Frustrating, aren't they? OK, I know lots of people have been feeling the same way for the past few weeks when they visit my blog ... it's almost like "The blog you're visiting is currently unavailable, Please try again later". I'm sorry about this. I've been real busy. Sometimes, I wish God could add some more hours into each day (I borrowed that quote from my friend Aaadee). Well, unfortunately, since that can't happen, plans are on ground to stretch the hours in each day, and make them longer. I shall soon be back ... fully Reloaded!

I'd also like to use this opportunity to tell everyone that whatever you need is always available. There is no such thing as unavailable. If you make that call, and you get the unavailable message, don't give up. Continue trying and one day your call will go through. Don't give up until you have tried 1001 times, and then start again. All great revolutionists never gave up in their quest. Nobody remembers "The Wrong Brothers" who almost invented the plane but gave up due to some hindrances (which we don't know about). However, we all know "The Wright Brothers", who despite all odds, didn't give up. The "Wrong Brothers" gave up, and thus gave the Wright Brothers the opportunity to invent the plane. If the Wright brothers had also given up, someone else would have done it. If you give up, someone else will do it. Why waste that opportunity?

I dedicate this post to Omohemi, Saint T, Vera, Dolly and every other blogger who harassed me to update, abeg, make una no vex! I shall be updating soon, and immediately I do, I shall be doing my blog rounds, and leaving comments. It's a wonder the amount of blogs I have on my feeds now, I wonder how I'm able to go through them all ... I guess I'll write a post about that some day. Now I'm off, to get some interesting news and return my blog back to it's glory, and lastly, never accept the Unavailable Message, make sure you "Please Try Again Later". Remember that!

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Jul 28, 2007

Umbrella Remix - Ebutte Meta

Time was COB on a Friday Evening. I was in my car driving to the island for a meet. Listening to my radio and tuned in to 96.9 Cool FM, Olisa was trying his best to keep me in the TGIF mood. After some nice Jams, he slipped in Rihanna's Umbrella. Now I must say I was already getting tired of that song, I had heard it so many times and I easily get tired of songs. Anyway, I decided to listen. When it was about to end and the soundtrack was fading out, Olisa started playing it again. I was like "What wrong with this guy?" and was about changing the station when I heard the rap ... "Nah, that's no Jay Z's rap! Maybe it's a remix", I thought, I listened further when suddenly, I started hearing familiar places ... "Abuja, Calabar, Anambra ... Niger, and finally Ebute Meta, meta, meta, eh, eh, eh" all sang by a male singer. Man, was I amused? Even though I had got to my destination, I waited in my car and listened until it ended. After that, I was all thoughts. That song sounded more interesting than the original version - maybe because I'm from Naija myself.

I did some investigation and I discovered Banky. Banky is a young Nigerian male vocalist who recently won the Grand Prize, R&B category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest with his song "My Regret" (here). He and a group of guys were just having fun in the studios and decided to record a Naija version of Rihanna's Umbrella. Not a commercial thing, but it was good. I searched all over for that song and finally found it on youtube. I've posted it here. Listen and let me know your thoughts.

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Jul 16, 2007

Open Lecture to Leaders - The National Pledge

I pledge to Nigeria my country

Pledge [verb] - promise solemnly or agree to do or refrain from doing something
Thou shall keep this promise which thou makest, no matter the opposition, no matter how much money thou art offered, or how much power thou seeks to acquire.

To be faithful, loyal and honest
Faithful [adjective] - steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant:
Loyal [adjective] - faithful to one's sovereign, government, or state:
Thou shall not backstab, thou shal not witchhunt Atiku or Pedro, thou shall not betray Obasanjo or Tinubu, thou must all work together for thy nations good.
Honest [adjective] - honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair:
Thou shall be honest in all thy dealings, thou shall allocate contracts honestly, thou shall disburse funds in an honest manner

To serve Nigeria with all my strength
Serve [verb] - to act as a servant
Thou shall first be a servant before thou shall be considered a leader. Thou shall lead by example.
Strength [noun] - physical energy or intensity
Thou shall use all within thy power to make thy country a better place for the rich, poor and the middle class (even though middle class is almost non-existent)

To defend her unity
Defend [verb] - to ward off attack from; guard against assault or injury
Thou should understand that the greatest attack comes from the within, the treasury looters, "chop and go" politicians, ... thou shalt defend thy country from them all

And uphold her honor and glory
Uphold [verb] - to support or defend, as against opposition or criticism:
Thou shall make this thy greatest task, for thy Country Nigeria has very little honor and glory. Thou shall use all avenues to increase her honor and glory, and thou shall uphold them.

So help me God
Thou shalt include thy God in thy decisions. Thou shall fear God for it was he who put thee in thy position.

Thou shall always remember these laws and put them into practice. Nigeria has a great future.

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Jul 3, 2007

Should I Invest In HYIPs?

This article is part of a Finance series (here) I started a while ago. Although it's not sequential with the rest, it has become necessary that I share some things about this subject. Within the past few months I've received dozens of phone calls, some from friends I haven't heard from in a long while and one from someone I have never even met asking for my advice and opinion. Lots of people seem to think I'm an authority in this regard. I'll not confirm that notion, but I'll not deny it either. Hope you gain some things as you read, and you'll invest wiser and safer.
Today, the average Nigerian has become investment savvy. He is no longer satisfied with keeping his money in the banks, and he has realized the futility of sticking to a monthly salary. A number have gone ahead to train themselves in operating such investment vehicles as Stocks, Mutual Funds, Real Estate and Foreign Exchange. Everybody wants to learn how to invest, and everybody wants to invest. So some professional money managers took advantage of the situation, and created several investment programs, collecting money from investors and paying them returns on their investment. Very soon, lots of these investment programs sprung up, both genuine and non-genuine, and as always, it is difficult to distinguish the genuine ones from the non-genuine. Some of these programs have been around for years, some are months old and some are still in the initiation process. They are commonly known as HYIPs (High Yield Investment Programs), and their history goes a long way.

Today, a typical HYIP will promise you high returns on your investments with them - much higher than you'll get if you save in a bank. They all claim to invest your money in a number of things ranging from Oil and Gas, Foreign Exchange, Gold, Precious Metals and Stocks. They have no publicly available "Balance Sheet" or "Earnings Report" and so no one knows exactly how true their claim is. The important thing to most people is that they deliver the returns promised, at least to a large extent, and so everyone is happy.

The HYIPs on ground presently can be categorised into three. Those who promise monthly returns on investment eg. Nospetco, WealthZone, UpHenry, etc; those who promise a one time payment after several operational weeks Eg, Treasure Line, Wealth Solution, etc; and those who promise increasing returns every operational week for a particular number of operational weeks. Eg Pennywise, Cash Seed, etc. Operational weeks vary from 10 working days to 20 and some might even last longer, and pay-off varies by percentage. I won't go into the nitty-gritty of the operations of these HYIPs. A few bloggers have already written extensive posts and you can easily get any information you need. If however you need more information, you can contact me directly and I'll point you in some right directions.

I was prompted to write this article by an event which happened some time ago. The EFCC had sent out a notice to all banks which are used by HYIPs to put a stop order on their accounts, while they carried out investigations into the operations of these HYIPs. Many people all over the country were nervous and hearts were in mouths for a few days. A friend of mine could not eat well because he had borrowed most of the money he invested into these HYIPs. My phone rang dozens of times with people asking, "How Far?, has EFCC cleared .... (and they would mention the name of one of the HYIPs)?". Fortunately, the accounts were reverted back to status quo within a few days and many people could breathe freely again. But the damage had been done. People began to doubt. A lot of my friends who were affected swore never again to invest in these HYIPs to save themselves the agony and anguish they had to go through. I have therefore put together "The Rules of HYIP Investment". If you must invest in HYIPs, follow these rules and your risk will be reduced to a minimum.
  1. Never invest more than you can afford to lose.
    Whatever you choose to invest, consider what will happen if you lose it. If losing it will make you catch hypertension or something similar, then reduce it to something you won't miss if you lose out. This is the most important rule.
  2. Get in (and out) early.
    For the HYIPs which promise the highest of returns, the longer the HYIP has been around, the greater the probability that they'll soon go down. Don't waste time making your decisions and waiting to see if people are actually receiving returns. If you're going in, go in early, collect your proceeds and get out quickly.
  3. Diversify.
    Spread your investments over various HYIPs. That way, if one goes down and one performs, the returns easily cover your losses. Don't put all your money into one HYIP no matter how attractive it seems. Think of what might happen if the HYIP suddenly goes down.
  4. Secure your returns.
    Don't reinvest your returns into the same HYIP. Transfer your returns immediately into more stable investments like Stocks, Mutual Funds and Real Estate. That way you're covered if something happens collectively to all the HYIPs.
Also note: The higher the returns, the higher the risk. The shorter the investment term, the higher the risk. So, if you're diversifying, balance your investment across both risky and less risky HYIPs. Don't diversify by spreading all your money across the very risky HYIPs.

I do not guarantee that you won't lose. Investing in HYIPs will always be risky. There is no way to fully eliminate the risk. No matter how stable a HYIP seems, there is still an element of risk. If you are averse to taking risks, then these HYIPs are not for you. Invest in safer and more secure investments which will allow you to sleep at night, and whatever happens don't let sentiments determine your investments. Better to be safe than sorry. However, if you're the risk taking type, with some money that you won't miss if you lose, then by all means you can go ahead and invest. You might be lucky, many have been.

Wishing you luck in your continued quest for Financial Freedom.

[ Click here to read more ... ]

Jun 23, 2007

A Night With Timi - The Event

The date was Friday June 15, 2007. The location was the 1st floor, Planet 44, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event was "A night with Timi", organized by members of the Timi's Fans Club. E-mails had been sent, phone calls made and awareness had spread from one Fan to the other. The TGIF mood was in the air as it was a Friday evening and so, all roads led to Planet 44. Guests started trickling in as early as 6pm while the organizers were preparing the venue. Two large banners were put up, chairs were arranged, the sound system was tested while a collection of Timi-style songs was being played. There were lots of surprise moments as people who had only been communicating via e-mail for weeks finally saw themselves face to face. There were such exclamations as "So you are Aziza!", "Where is Fred?", "Is that Nkechi?", "Who is Shaddyplus?", etc and other remarks as is expected in such a union. Guests were soon seated and food and drinks were ordered while the kick-off of the program was awaited.

The event started some minutes after 7pm with an introduction from the two MCs (Ibrahim and Omua). First up was an opening prayer which was taken and promptly Amened to by all. It was easy to see that the audience was getting apprehensive. Where was Timi? Everyone seemed to ask. Unfortunately, Timi was stuck in Traffic, as is customary in Lagos on Friday evenings. The MCs tried their best to alleviate the anxiety and it seemed worsened until suddenly the good news came "Timi is Around". At this point, the lights were switched off and the guests were implored to keep silent and wait for a cue before making any sound. Timi was not aware of the size of the fans that were seated and so a surprise was planned for him.

Eventually, after some minutes Timi ascended the stairs led by 2 members of the organizing committee. The lights came on, there was a pause for a second and suddenly ... wild frenzy. Fans went crazy with delight at seeing Timi within a few inches of themselves. Order was thrown to the winds for a few minutes as people hugged, shook hands and took pictures with Timi while some members actually shed tears. Timi himself was totally awed. He hadn't expected anything of such a magnitude. He tried to regain his composure as he posed for picture after picture, hugged fan after fan and shook hand after hand. Finally, thanks to the MCs and some committee members, order was restored and the program resumed.

The next item on the agenda was a talk about the Fans club promptly taken by Ier Jonathan. With great oratory skills, Ier talked about the origin of the fans club and recounted experiences from early members about many a phone line which ran out of credit used to vote for Timi, and many a boss who discovered that their phone had been "stolen" by their subordinate to voting purposes. Everyone could laugh it off because it had paid off and Timi was the Idol. Ier also spoke about the vision and the aims of the club.

Next on stage was Jedi, a popular stand up comedian. The place reverberated with humor as Jedi did what he best knew how to. He captivated the audience with jokes which were centered around the Idols competition. The highlight was when he lamented that he had no fan club despite his years in comedy whereas Timi already had a dedicated fan club within just 3 months in the limelight. Time ran out, and soon Jedi had to leave.

Up next was a poetry recital for Timi read by Bode (A member of the fans club). Titled "Timi You Rock", it was written by Toni Kan, an award winning poet, essayist and short story writer. Not surprisingly, it was well composed and left people overwhelmed and Timi speechless.

The next event was a talk show tagged "10 questions with Timi". Staged in an Oprah Winfrey/Funmi Iyanda style setting, the presenter was ... you guessed it, Me! A list of questions had been pre-compiled which included both personal and general questions. Questions such as "Do you wear boxers or briefs?" and "Are you a virgin" drew interest from the audience. Timi answered all his questions well, cleverly evading the embarrassing bits and even introducing some humor into some answers.

Gifts were presented to Timi and an award plaque was presented by Aziza Uko on behalf of The Fans Club. Timi then gave a vote of thanks and said a few words of prayer for his fans, after which there was no holding back the crowd as they jostled for pictures with Timi. Timi himself took pictures with everyone he could and didn't turn back anyone. His gentleness and humility were quite apparent throughout the program, and the fans were very happy that their votes did not go to waste. Not long after, Timi left for his hotel leaving a crowd of accomplished and happy fans. And so ended a night with the first ever West African Idol, Timi Dakolo.

The Event in Pictures

Waiting for Timi.

The Entry


More Frenzy!

Timi Dakolo, The First West African Idol.

Ier Jonathan - Talk about the fans club.

Jeddi - Stand-up Comedy

Bode - Poetry Recitial

Timi & I - 10 Questions With Timi

Timi and Aziza Uko - Presentation of The Award Plaque

Timi with Plaque - Vote of thanks

Timi and Fans (L-R) KD, TMan, Fred, Timi, Andrew and Femi.

Timi and more fans

Timi and I

Timi departs.

Aziza Uko - Founder of the Fans Club

The organizing committee - (L-R) Tayo, Nkechi, Ken, Ier, Aziza, Fred, Edikan and Andrew (squating)

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Jun 20, 2007

Omar VS Umar. Who Shall Win?

President Umar Musa Yar'adua needs no introduction. He's the president of Nigeria. Mr Abdulwaheed Omar is the President of the National Labor Congress (NLC), having recently taken over from Adams Oshiomole who occupied the position for 2 terms. These two men are currently in a battle, albeit indirectly. Events leading to the battle were put in place by Outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo when he increased fuel price from N65/ltr to N75/ltr, increased VAT from 5% to 10% and sold off the Port Harcourt Refinery to "people of unknown track record in refining" (As put by NUPENG and PENGASANG) all as part of his "farewell package". These moves proved very unpopular to Nigerians and the NLC not being one to sit back in such times has declared a nationwide strike. The strike became effective today and is to last indefinitely.

President Umar has barely spent a month in office and NLC President Omar is also new in his position. Both have a point to prove and both have tried proving it. Upon being informed about the pending strike, President Umar suspended the 10% VAT and reduced fuel price to N70/ltr. This was not acceptable to the NLC. It was either N65 or an indefinite strike. If President Yar'adua agrees to this, it will show a sign of weakness and might determine a lot of what will happen during his tenure as President. On the other hand, the NLC President also needs to make his mark and show himself strong. Hence the elephants fight, and the grass feels.

At this time, I personally think it would be wise for the NLC to suspend the strike while giving the Federal Government an ultimatum to take the price back to N65. The FG has made an effort and shown a sign of goodwill by reducing the price halfway. The NLC should also back off. Some would however argue that N70 was the intended price by the FG who knowing fully well that the NLC would protest decided to set the price above the desired price so they could "arrive" at N70 after negotiation. This makes sense and might or might not be true. The important thing now is that the NLC has already scored a goal. It's time to sheath their swords and allow Nigerians get back to work.

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Jun 12, 2007

A Lady of Many Colors - Chimamanda Adichie

It's probably stale news that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won The Orange Prize for her book "Half of A Yellow Sun". The Orange Broadband Prize for fiction is one of the United Kingdom's most prestigious literary prizes, awarded annually for the best original full-length novel by a female author of any nationality, written in English and published in the UK in the preceding year. This was not her first time on the shortlist. In 2004, she was nominated for the same price for her first book "Purple Hibiscus" but she lost to British Writer Andrea Levy, writer of "Small Island".

Chimamanda has come a long way. At just 30, she has achieved excellence in her career and great fame. Set to follow (and exceed) the footsteps of great novelists like Chinua Achebe, her two books have already sold tons of copies.

Her first book "Purple Hibiscus" is a story recounted by a 14-year-old girl, which captures the conflict of a family whose patriarch is staunchly Catholic. Against the backdrop of a corrupt, crumbling society, the implacable force of religious fundamentalism plays out not against secular humanism, but against the animist practices of tribal elders.
Her second book "Half Of A Yellow Sun" is set during the Nigerian Civil war in a dusty university town. It's a book about moral responsibility, the end of colonialism, ethnic allegiances, class and race—and the ways in which love can complicate them all.

I call her a Lady of Many Colors because she has evolved from Purple to Yellow and now finally to Orange! Who else should have won the Orange prize if not she? I wonder what the next color she has up her sleeve would be, but I know I won't be disappointed. Congratulations, Chimamda, you deserve that prize. The sky is the beginning and there is no limit.

Coverage of the event (and pictures) can be found on Molara Wood's blog here.

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Jun 10, 2007

BlogVille Idols

Everyday I get more surprised at the level of potential hidden within Nigerians, which is quite evident in many of my fellow Nigerian Bloggers. The smartness and innovative spirit of the average Nigerian cannot be put to question, many have demonstrated great abilities. Some time ago, Solomon Sydelle began a chain blog post called The Nigerian Proclamation, a voice of protest to Nigerian leaders which hit the BBC website on the handover day. Presently, another idea has manifested. The smoke has barely cleared from the stage of the Idols West Africa and the American Idols competitions when in a bid to spice up blogville, 2 young Nigerian female bloggers (Pink Satin and Naija Opeke) came up with a brilliant idea to replicate the singing competition on the blog platform.

They name it Blogville Idols, and the idea kicked off with this post and this post. Receiving a large comment base, it soon evolved into a dedicated blog. It's centered around a plugin from snapvine, which allows people to leave voice messages via a phone call on any site that uses the plugin. How the idea became apparent to Pink Satin and Naija Opeke, I have not the slightest idea. Presently, there are 15 contestants in persons of Sparkle, Chicala, TaureanMinx, Bobby Taylor, Idemmili, Lurlar, Nigerican, Diary of a G, Everybody loves a Naija girl, I'm a babe, Naija Dude, Mimi, AbujaBabe, 2ndCorin5:17 and d Last King of Scotland. The producers are Pink Satin and Naija Opeke and work under the label Pink Peke Productions. Consultant to the show is Ugo. The host is Cheetarah and the judges are Naija Vixen, Bimby Lads, London Buki and Myself. There shall be a grand prize for the winner which has not yet been announced.

The competition will kick off tomorrow Monday, June 11, 2007. Contestants will phone in to record their songs and after the entries are closed the judges will give their comments. After this, bloggers can vote for their favorite singers. Anyway, enough said, you can follow the event here, and don't forget to cast your votes. I believe this will make the news once again. Nigerians, we're leaders in whatever we do, and we're headed towards greatness. Good luck to all contestants.

Official Judge
BlogVille Idols.

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Jun 7, 2007

FRSC. Practice What You Preach!

FRSC is an acronym for Federal Road Safety Commission, a commission whose primary objective is to maintain safety on Nigerian Roads. This they do by ensuring that road users abide by road rules and regulations. Some of these include checking to see if drivers have their seat belts on, watching out for road offenders, dangerous overtaking, making sure cars have appropriate "C Caution", and making sure each car has a fire extinguisher. Allow yourself to be caught violating any of these rules, and you should be ready to sacrifice some precious time, as well as part with some valuable cash.

That said, I'd like to bring your attention to the pictures below. They came out on Page 16, The Guardian Newspapers of June 1, 2007. Some passerby had taken them and sent them to The Guardian. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, see for yourself.

In the picture is an FRSC official car with the engine apparently on fire. People are running around looking for ways to quench the fire. Some are trying to gather sand to throw on the fire while an FRSC lady officer is running with a bucket of water. As illustrated in the Guardian, a question comes to mind, where is the Fire Extinguisher? We all know that the Fire Extinguisher is the best when it comes to quenching fires... and ironically, many Nigerians have been harrassed by the FRSC because they had no Fire Extinguishers. So now where is FRSC's fire extinguisher? Someone should please tell them to practice what they preach.

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Jun 4, 2007

Yar'Adua. Hope For Tomorrow?

Six days ago Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, handed over the reins of office to his successor President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, the man who was announced as the winner of the elections 36 days earlier. Those 36 days have been packed with events. There's been lots of drama in the news and beyond. There's been issues and societal tension. There's also been humor in the form of e-mails which include the "Lords Prayer" and the "Yar'Adua's Presidential speech". Governors have been reported to be on standby for flight be it by Jet, Plane, Car, ABC transport, Molue, Okada, Horseback all in a bid to escape Mallam Nuhu ... and the EFCC. Atiku decided to stay in the U.S. and watch proceedings on TV. OBJ rounded up his regime by giving us some farewell gifts including but not limited to Sale of the PH refinery to persons with no track record in refining (which has caused discontent for NUPENG and PENGASANG), increment of fuel pump price by 15% - N65-N75 (a move that'll ultimately increase inflation) and an increment of Value Added Tax (VAT) by 100% (5%-10%). What better gifts can Santa provide? But I digress, that's a story for another day.

I want to focus on the man Yar'Adua and the great task ahead of him. Now that he has been sworn in, there are three schools of thought among Nigerians.
1. He'll be an extension of Obasanjo's government, be controlled exclusively by Obasanjo and consequentially the Nigerian situation will remain the same.
2. He'll break away from Obasanjo's hold, and rule Nigeria his own way which will be worse than Obasanjo's regime.
3. He'll call Obasanjo's bluff, and lead Nigeria in a positive way without fear or favor of anyone, develop the economy and make Nigeria a much better place.
I am a product of the 3rd school of thought, and I advise everyone to do the same. It's time to forget our predictions and our magnifications of Y'aradua's supposed weaknesses. Let's look on the bright side. Let's magnify the good things that come with him. He is educated (something that has been lacking in our presidents past), his origins are well respected (the Yar'Adua family is known and respected), the fact that he declared his assets during his governorship (suggests honesty and transparency).

President Yar'Adua himself know what Nigerians think of the electoral process that put him at his current position. He knows what Nigerians think of his predecessor. He also knows the state of the country's economy and most importantly, he knows what needs to be done to move the nation forward. He knows that Nigerians think he will be no better than OBJ, but this will be a good time to prove them all wrong. I really hope and believe that this will be the break Nigeria has been waiting for. It is known that any man will work better where there's less "Negative Criticism". Therefore, let's hold down the Critics in us and allow Yar'Adua to do his job. Let's refrain from grading the script before the start of the exam. Yar'Adua has committed himself to honesty, accountability, transparency and an absolute fear of God. Let's give him a chance to bring action to his words. Nigeria shall be great.

[ Click here to read more ... ]

May 31, 2007

The Nigerian Proclamation

For those who have been consistent on my blog, you'll notice that one major thing I stand for is the hope for a Nigeria with better living conditions, a better economy and very importantly a better international image. A few days before the presidential handover, Solomon Sydelle, a Nigerian blogger resident in Maryland USA thought of a great idea. What if Nigerian bloggers all over the world would make an effort to change the status quo by blogging what he called "The Nigerian Proclamation"? I didn't get to hear about this before the handover date (thanks to these bloggers who refused to inform me - Ugo, Babs, Omodudu, CalabarGal, Mimi, etc - I get beef with all of una!) and actually saw it on the BBC website. I was pleasantly surprised, and I pray and believe there really will be a change. Without further ado, I say that "I support The Nigerian Proclamation!". Read it below.





You can read more on Solomon's blog (here), and please brace yourself ... because a change is coming. A change for the better, and it shall come sooner than you expect.
God bless Nigeria.

[ Click here to read more ... ]

May 27, 2007

The Grand Finale. How Timi Won!

It was the day many West Africans had been waiting for. The Grand Finale of Idols West Africa was taking place. Maryland, Lagos was a beehive of activities as fans and supporters trooped into Planet One as early as 3:30 pm. Guests were let in at about 5:30 pm and took their seats (and their stands). While the presenters were doing the final sound checks just before the show, all the previous performances of Timi and Omawumi were played back. It began with the playback of Timi's "Stuck on you" performance drawing instant applause from the audience. Omawumi's "Ekwe" and "I will survive" also drew cheers from the crowd. Both good and bad performances were played and the mood was set. The show finally began with an official asking everyone to switch off their phones and turn off the flashlights from their cameras as it would interfere with the recording equipment (That's why the pictures were not clear o! I couldn't use flash, please forgive).

The show was kicked off by Basket Mouth - a popular Nigerian Stand up comedian. He made the place burst into life with his jokes and picky "Yabs". Next to get on stage was the host of the show Mike Majic. For all those who don't like Mike's presentation style, I'll tell you he really is doing a good job. Everything he says is read from a screen displayed to him. He has to read everything and still make it sound natural, and I must say he did a good job. He intimated us on what awaited us during the performances of the night and got us all expectant.

The first event of the night was a group song by six of the top 10. Omodele, Joan, Uche, Mercy, Jerrilyn and Temitayo gave a wonderful group performance with each taking individual solos in the song. It was a great performance. Never before had viewers seen a group song in the Idols West Africa competition, and they were not disappointed.

Mike then announced that each of the Top 2 would be doing 3 songs each. There was a recap of each contestant's journey through Idols. We all laughed when we saw their first pictures at the audition. They looked so innocent compared the their present states - especially Omawumi. Timi was first on stage with a remake of his "How am I supposed to live without you" performance. As usual he delivered excellently, capturing hearts with his stage presence and the applause was great. Omawumi was next with a remake of her "I will survive" performance. Exhibiting her unique strength and vigor, she made her fans wild. Up next again was Timi with his "Stuck on you" performance and like before, he blew the minds of the audience. Omawumi then came up with a rendition of her "Ekwe" performance to end the first segment of the show.

Up next was a very spectacular segment. Each of the two would be doing self-composed songs. Timi was first with a song he wrote titled "I love you". He delivered it with the great style that only Timi knew how. The lyrics and structure of the song were great. It was a very melodious mid tempo song and the audience easily learnt the words well enough to join in the chorus. Soon, everyone was singing together. Omawumi was next. Dressed in a see through black attire and thigh length black stockings to match, she immediately drove her (male) fans crazy. She sang her self-composed song "You got me", an old school style with an old school beat that reminded one of the early 90s.

Up next was another surprise. Singing Rod Stewart's "You are everything" were Uche and Jodie in a duet. In Jodie's words, this was a dream come true because Uche was her choice amongst the top 10 to perform a duet with. The hall was alive with cheers for Jodie and Uche. Jodie's fans especially went crazy with excitement at this chance to see her perform one more time on the Idols West Africa stage. Their performance was a good highlight of the night's events, partly because everyone had been expecting this duet when they were both absent from the group song, and also because Uche is the favorite evicted male contestant while Jodie is the favorite evicted female contestant. The cheers were great and people screamed, talk about "Medicine after death", it was too late.

Finally, the great moment had come. The results were about to be announced. Timi and Omawumi came on stage for the final time. First, they got some words of advice from the judges after which the results were brought to the stage. Dede quoted Guest Judge Reggie Rockstone as saying, "I wish Omawumi will win, but if she doesn't win, I will adopt her". At this time, there was pin drop silence. Mike Majic didn't help matters as he created what he knew best how to. Tension! I could swear that if someone had a gun in that hall, they would have gladly threatened Mike with it so he could speed up the announcement. Finally, the golden words, "The winner of the Idols West Africa Title is ... [pause] ... [pause] ... Timi! There was a great uproar in the hall. People screamed, jumped up and down, embraced each other in emotional bursts, shed tears and there was insanity in the hall for a few minutes. Linda (my blogger friend whom I met at the show) jumped up and down like a mad woman (her own words) and Foluso Aloko (my friend who help me get the entry ticket) lost her voice totally from screaming so much. Timi himself was overwhelmed. He jumped, laughed, danced, cried, knelt, screamed while the soundtrack to his self-composed song "I love you" was played. It was a wonderful period as all the other contestants in the top 10 came on stage to cheer him, and there were cheers, and laughing, and crying, and hugging ... and the show ended on that note.

After the show, the judges and the guest judge Reggie Rockstone were bombarded with autograph requests. I never knew Nigerians were that crazy about autographs. People were quarreling and almost snatching autographs from one another. The judges' table was so tightly surrounded that Dan, Nana and Dede were barely visible and security operatives had to barge in and restore some order, after which I managed to get some good pictures of the judges.

Timi has really come a long way, and he really deserved to win. Anyone who was at the finale will realise that though Omawumi was very good and quite versatile, she was really no match for Timi in terms of stage presence and connection with people's minds ... and these are the major qualities which make a platinum record sale. I'm happy my votes did not go to waste (you don't want to know how many votes I cast for this guy) and I know Timi will not dissapoint Nigeria and we will be proud of him. And so he went home with the grand prize of a recording contract from Sony/BMG Africa International, a Kia Picanto from Nigeria’s Dana Group, $10000 cash from Ecobank, and an ultimate viewing experience of a 26-inch LCD TV and an I-Pod from the show’s headline sponsor Celtel. And so ended a journey which has been ongoing for about 4 months. A journey which saw great and little singers drop by the way side. People say this has really changed the music industry and no "yeye" artist will dare to release "any kind yeye" song again. Personally, I await Timi's CD and I know I won't be disappointed.

More Pictures

Mike Majic

The Judges

Guest Judge Reggie Rockstone (far left) and VIPs

The Duet - Uche and Jodie

The group performance: L-R, Omodele, Eric, Jerrilyn, Temitayo, Joan and Mercy.

The Duet - Uche and Jodie

Omawumi - Ekwe

Omawumi - You got me

Timi - How am I supposed to live without you

Timi and Omawumi exchange final words before the results

Under Tension !!!

The top 10 cheer Timi

After the Show

Me and Mike Majic

Me and Friends (From Right: Foluso Aloko, Tayo, Kenny, Yomi and Me)

Me and Linda Ikeji

Dan Foster

Nana Abrewa

Dede Mabiaku

The Production Crew

The Planet One Stage - Where it all started and ended!

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