Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nubia’s lyrical ballads


Beautiful Nubia’s most recent album Kilokilo is an eclectic mix of love ballads and didactic playground stories that are carried along with simple drum strokes and gong beats. In Wa bu’ra, he sings about finding love on the dance floor in a manner that makes one really wish to have such an experience. At once he takes the listener back memory lane into the dance rhythms of the 1960s and 70s lulling the listener along with his Afrobeat style. The story of beautiful Amoke, a love interest, comes alive with every twang and ascension of the beat. It is also at once romantic as well as it is didactic; “Haa Amoke arewa omoge/ jowo nje mole ba o jo/ lo ba nowo pe oya/ l’aba bo s’agbo ijo/ Agba wa bu’ra/ b’ewe o se e ri”.

In Mama Bendel, Nubia’s reminiscing takes the listener back to the University of Ibadan of the 80s with his tribute to the all caring food vendor, Mama Bendel. He immortalizes the legend of Mama Bendel with his typical racy beat tucked into palm wine music. “She was always there, she put the shine in my dull days”, he sings. His tribute takes the listener down his own memory lane remembering the days of yore at the hands of caring mama puts.

In Down the street, Nubia offers a beautiful sing along with a sad song about a little girl who has lost her family; “Where is papa gone, where is mama gone…everybody’s gone, the little baby cried and cried”. In Kilokilo, the title track, Nubia cannot run away from the poet’s role as the society’s voice of conscience. He sends a warning to politicians to desist from their evil ways. My mother’s fatter than yours tells of the average person’s willful ability to make others feel smaller than them. It is a funny depiction of a playground exchange between children at loggerheads. “My child is better than yours/ my brother’s stronger than yours/ my sister’s prettier than yours/ and I’m richer than your family; my house is bigger than yours/ my father’s taller than yours/ my mother’s fatter than yours/ and we’re richer than your family”. At the end he compels the listener to live life above wanting to be like the Jones’.

The twelve track CD album might not exactly be like his previous massive album Jangbalajugbu but Segun Akinlolu has surely scored another hit with Kilokilo. His music slowly grows on the listener and one cannot but fall in line with the rhythm with more listening.

Ghana goes to the polls

After eight years of John Kufuor’s rule, Ghanaians go to the polls to either create a “moving forward” or cause “change” in next week’s general elections. Analysts say it is a close race which could go into a runoff.


Everywhere one goes to in Ghana these days there are political billboards with candidates’ faces smiling back at one. The most popular of these messages are either carrying the mantra “We are moving forward” or the less pungent message of “For a better Ghana”, the opposition’s signifier for change. And all across the country, opinions are polarized among citizens as many have taken sides with one of the two major parties contesting this December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections, the ruling National Patriotic Party, NPP and the opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC. Things don’t get any easier because of the immense rivalry between both parties.

In 2000, incumbent President John Kufuor defeated then Vice President John Atta-Mills of the NDC and has led the country for the last eight years after another victory in 2004. It is Atta-Mills third time carrying the flag of the NDC which was created by former president Jerry Rawlings out of his revolutionary Provisional National Defence Council, PNDC. The tricky thing about this year’s election is that Atta-Mills will be going head to head against Nana Akufo-Addo, the candidate of the ruling NPP, a man who has been chasing the presidency since 2000. Whoever wins this time will make history in Ghanaian politics. If the ruling party wins, it will be the first time in Ghana that a ruling party will succeed itself. And if the NDC wins, it will be the first time that a ruling party goes into opposition and then comes back into government. The desperation of the NDC may cause a rift in the party’s ranks if it fails to win this time around, says Alex Frempong, a governance expert and senior lecturer in the department of political science at the University of Ghana, Legon.

The NDC feels it is very close to winning back power at this point in time when many Ghanaians have had eight years of the same policies of the right-of-centre NPP. It is asking the people to vote for change for the better while the NPP is campaigning for moving the country forward. Ghana has made tremendous success in the last decade coming from the background of a very highly indebted poor country to being a destination for investments and tourism. “Our achievement is one of the bedrocks of our campaign. We want to build on it. We want to work on the teething problems and make it smoother”, says Konadu Apraku, campaign director of the Nana Akufo-Addo Organisation. Konadu says they hope to ensure free secondary education for all Ghanaian students after having introduced tuition free primary education all over the country. They also want to ensure that the national health insurance that has been introduced which presently covers about 57 percent of the entire population is extended all over the country. He feels it is a deal which the electorate cannot afford to let pass them by. But the icing on their campaign manifesto is the fact that under its watch, Ghana finally struck oil in commercial quantity last year where it hopes to earn $15 billion in the next five years. Konadu says that with the increasing investments coming into the country and the proposed oil money they hope to be able to fund all these programmes.

The opposition has a different idea though. Asiedu Nketsiah, secretary general of the NDC spoke to TELL in an interview that the people are ready for a change and all they need is to be watchful on how the election goes. “If you walk around and interview people, you’ll realize that the urge for a change and the mood for a change is in the air so much that what we need to be careful about is that nobody tampers with the peoples’ verdict when December comes”, Nketsiah says. The NDC’s hope is premised on the laughable fact that the American Democratic party has just defeated the Conservative party. The Rawlings government was closely aligned to that of Bill Clinton while the Kufuor government has been aligned to that of George W. Bush. Hence, the feeling that as the Democrats take over in America so also will the NDC win in Ghana.

Such is the growing confidence of the opposition that it is only counting on the Electoral Commission to do its job properly in order to ensure that the votes are fairly and properly counted. Its confidence might be attributed to the performance of the party in the last two elections. The party has consistently scored about 44 percent of total votes cast and maintained its hold on four (Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Volta) of the 10 regions of the country. It hopes that this time around would be better and that it would perform a little better in the strong hold of the NPP which is the five Akan-speaking regions (Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Eastern, Central and Western) of the country and as well as the Greater Accra region.

Interestingly, Atta-Mills has lost twice, plus a runoff in 2000, in his home in the Central region. But if he will lose again this year is what analysts cannot predict. Frempong believes that the Central region holds the key to the presidential elections this year. The Central region has always voted for the winner in any election since 1969. It is more noteworthy that in Ghana there are 92 ethnic groups which can be broadly broken down into Akans and non-Akans. Anytime that any of the five Akan regions have failed to vote for the tradition which the NPP represents which dates back to the JB Danquah and Kofi Busia days, the party has lost power. Hence, the NDC might get a foot in the door if they can find a way of swinging the votes of the Central region their way this time around if Atta-Mills could somehow find a way of shedding the tag of being a puppet for Rawlings.

One other permutation of this year’s election is the possibility of it going into a runoff like it did in 2000 when the NPP came into power. The winner needs 50 percent of the votes plus one to triumph. In 2000, the third parties, that is, the smaller opposition parties got seven percent of the votes which helped to push it into a runoff. This time around, anything between five and 10 percent for the third parties will definitely push the elections into a runoff. This is very possible considering the fact that the Convention Peoples’ Party is enjoying great resurgence at the moment. The party which was founded by Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana has as its flag bearer Kwesi Nduom, a former cabinet minister under President Kufuor. A runoff might not be in the interest of the ruling party says Frempong. “It is not always good for the ruling party to allow itself get into a runoff as the opposition parties might gang up against it”, he says. But the idea of a runoff could also be disquieting for many Ghanaians. “They may vote en mass for one party to avoid going into a runoff which can be very aggressive thereby trying to keep the peace, one must not rule that out”, Frempong says.

The Electoral Commission, EC, has assured of a free and fair election. Headed by Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the EC is one of the most respected in Africa for the way it has handled the previous elections. It is not without some fault of its own though as it was steeped in some controversy for the manner in which it handled the updating of the voters’ register recently. The register was over bloated by the fact that many under age people were allowed to register as well as people who had been previously registered. The EC laid the blame at the doorstep of the political parties who tried to cheat their way through encouraging their supporters to manipulate the register. The EC has cleaned up its house though as it has now expunged about 349, 000 names from its books. In an earlier interview with TELL, Afari-Gyan stated that the EC has in its books about 13 million registered voters for this year’s elections.

Apart from the presidential election, candidates are also vying to fill the 230 seats on offer in the Ghanaian parliament. Current figures from the last elections indicate that the ruling NPP has 128 seats, the NDC 94 seats, the CPP 3, the People’s National Convention, PNC, 4 and a single independent candidate.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ghana will not be another Kenya” says Kwadwo Afari-Gyan

“Ghana will not be another Kenya” says Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission as the country goes into elections in two days.
By OLOLADE ADEWUYI (interview conducted in October 2008)

How prepared is the EC for the December 7, 2008 elections?Election preparation is a steady process. You do one work after the other, they come in stages. The first stage is about to come to an end which is the registration and very soon we will carry out an exhibition of the voters’ register, a public display at all our polling stations for people to g and see whether their names are there. And if there are any persons whose names are on it, people can object to it. Afterwards we will be in a position to prepare the final register, take the nominations and from then onwards. We’re going in stages.

There has been some controversy trailing the registration of voters’ exercise that you have a bloated register in terms of under aged registration and double registration to vote, how are you looking to resolve this issue?
It is not a controversy really. We ourselves as a commission believe from what we saw in queues of people lined up for registration and various people who observed the process indicated to us that there were people who could not be 18 years old. And from the pictures that we’ve seen on the registration forms, we’re led to believe that this is the case and it is rather widespread. So we’re concerned about how to remove those people, the under aged, during the exhibition process. We also believe that there are some people who are not Ghanaians who managed to get their names on the voters’ register. This will also be a target group during the exhibition process. Another group is people who have already been on the register but want to register again because they have lost their ID cards or damaged them or have moved from away from where they registered. Even though we have a process for replacing damaged and lost cards, and transferring voter location, they didn’t wait for the process. Those are also part of the target group and we have to get them. So it’s not really a controversy. It’s a question of the belief that there are some people who are in the register but do not belong in the register. And we should try to get rid of them during the exhibition process.

What’s the number of voters you are looking to present for the general elections?
This registration was a limited one because we already had the database and we were only adding to the database people who had come of age since the last registration exercise. And our target was no more than a million but it turned out, because of what I have just indicated, the minors, non Ghanaians and the multiple registrants, we ended up with over 1.8 million people. If you add that to the people on the existing register, we’re saying that we’re going into the 2008 elections with a voter population of close to 13 million.

How much is Ghana spending on the elections?Well, it is very difficult until you finish the elections to know exactly how much money you need. But the election budget was over $40 million.

How is the Electoral Commission funded?It is the state. What we do is that we make a budget before the election. Parliament approves the budget after that the finance ministry releases the money to us. We don’t require the money at one time. There are phased releases of the money. As I told you the preparation is in phases. And for each phase we need so much money and when we’re about to begin a phase we apply for the amount we need for it. Up till now we have received all the money we need in connection to the elections.

Do you want to put a figure on it?Oh no, I wish the deputy in charge of finance will be here to tell you.

Does the EC get funding from international organizations?We don’t do our budget with international organizations in mind. The election budget is the bill of the government. If the government for one reason or another cannot find the money, it can appeal to the foreign donors to assist. That is the responsibility of the government not us. We do not go to donors and ask for money.

Recently, the EC increased the cost of nomination forms for candidates and the parties are claiming that you didn’t carry them along.It’s not the nomination forms. According to our laws you have to pay a fee to get nominated as a candidate. It’s a nomination fee and not a form. This is a deposit real, you put the money there to indicate your seriousness as a candidate. And after the elections you get a certain percentage of the votes, and then you get your money back. This is not money that the commission is collecting for its use. The money does not belong to the commission, it belongs to government. Of course if you fail to get up to a stipulated percentage, then you forfeit that money to the state. They are saying that the fee is high but we don’t think so. It’s about $500 for a parliamentary candidate and $5000 for a presidential candidate. We do not think it’s too much.

Are foreign organizations allowed to donate funds to candidates?By our law, no. it’s only Ghanaians that can contribute.

What if an organization is registered in Ghana?Well, Ghanaians organizations, yes, but you have to do it through a certain medium. The contributions directly to candidates are supposed to be on an individual basis. If you want to contribute as a company, you can contribute for the collective use of the political parties.but foreigners are not allowed to contribute.

What about foreign companies registered in Ghana?Yes, if you’re a company registered in Ghana, you’re a Ghanaian entity you can do that.

Are there any challenges you’re facing that you hope to surmount before the elections?
Yes, an election is always a challenge no matter how often you’ve done it. Of course the number of illegitimate registrations that we’re trying to get rid of presents a challenge. We hope that the Ghanaian people will assist by scrutinizing the register closely during the exhibition and object to names that shouldn’t be there. There’s also the challenge to get the right caliber of people to administer the elections come election day. It’s such a big undertaking that you have to hire a lot of temporary workers to conduct the elections. They have, ideally, to be people of integrity and it’s difficult because you’re hiring a lot of them. No less than 100,000 people will be hired. It’s a challenge to get people of the right caliber, honesty who will treat the poll fairly and so on. Training them is also tough because you have a short period of time to do that. So lections always present their challenges.

Looking at the coming elections, the stakes are higher than the last one because Ghana has now struck oil in commercial quantity, how independent will you say the EC is from the government in power?About that one, I don’t think anybody doubts our independence. The law not only guarantees our independence, it does actually insulate us from the control of the government. So unless you’re a wicked person you don’t have to do anything to please the government. We’re very well insulated from control by the government. I don’t think there are people in this country that doubt the independence of the EC.

Looking at Kenya which has had a lot of smooth transitions over the years and then suddenly imploding after their most recent elections…Well, like what we said, it’s not only the EC that is responsible for free and fair elections, it’s a collective responsibility. We have a part to play, the politicians have a part to play, the government has a part to play by providing the money. The police has a part to play by making sure that they don’t tolerate nonsense from any politician particularly with regard to election related violence and infractions of the electoral law. So we will play our role but let everybody else play their role. If everybody else does, there’s no question of Ghana becoming another Kenya.

Are there going to be foreign observers?
Yes, plenty of them. The Carter Centre is already here and they’ve been observing the registration process. The European Union has given an indication that they are coming. The Commonwealth are coming. The ECOWAS are going to be here very soon. And I’m quite sure that African Union is coming too. So there will be quite a large number of observers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wyclef rescues Accra show

The best performer in the world, Wyclef Jean proved his mettle once again at the Zain 026 Experience show in Accra on Saturday 22 November as he saved the blush of the organisers with his performance and not allowing the poorly organised show go into the annals of history as the biggest flop in Ghana.

Billed as the biggest show in West Africa this quarter, it featured other international performers Eve, Mario, 2face and Ghanaian stars Kwaw Kese, Obrafuor, and Tinny. The show at the ultra modern Ohene Gyan Stadium was expected to bring in the biggest crowd ever but the crowds didn't turn up. A scanty crowd made up mostly of young people waited eagerly for the show which was scheduled to start at 5 pm GMT. It didn't start until well past 9 pm. The stadium authorities made things worse as they didn't allow the crowd onto the grass. The beautiful stage was constructed at one end of the pitch while the crowd sat like orphans in the stands, almost 300 metres away.

Another ingredient that marred the show's success was the poor sound quality from the sound systems. The mics refused to work. Artiste after artiste had to improvise in the use of the mics. There was sound on the stage but no feed to the audience. Hence, the early singers performed on stage, singing and dancing by themselves without the audience feeling it.

The day would have been the worst night in history until Wyclef Jean came on and turned the stadium on its head. First, he entered onto the grass wearing a local Northern Ghana smock and crown while waving the Ghanaian flag. The audiene jumped o its feet and sang along to his Rasta songs. He soon requested for the gates to be thrown open saying "I didn't fly 10 hours to have my people watch from behind the fence". The crowd was pleased with this and started chanting and clapping "Open the gates".

The authorities wouldn't budge so Clef decided to go into the crowds himself by jumping over the fibre glass fence sending the crowd into a frenzy as everyone wanted to touch him. He was so agressive that he didnt need bodyguards to assist him as he shoved aside over-eager fans who were holding him down. This further agitated the crowds as it made them feel like he was one of them.

His performance that night was genius. He took the crowd on a roll of his best tracks like 911, Redemption Song (a cover of Bob Marley's), and a few of his other songs. He did a number with Eve, the song L.O.V.E Y.O.U and a free style session with Reggie Rockstone. His boundless energy is typical of him as I saw him at the Black Gold Concert in Lagos in 2004. He is such an awesome performer playing the guitar and konga drums with other Rastas when there was a power outage on stage. He promised the audience he was going to wait until power was restored even if he had to wait till 7 am.

He really saved the night as the crowd was pretty angry at the poor preparations towards the show. In a press conference the day before he had promised to give Accra a night to remember and he did just that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congrats Obama!

I stayed up all night watching CNN's Situation Room as the results started to flow in. I dozed off around 4am and was woken by my nephew around 6am to see Obama delivering his victory speech. I had missed the early part, nontheless, I was overwhelmed with joy to realise he had won at last.

I quickly dialed up my Dad, who interestingly was not yet aware of the victory, to share the moment with him.

In the office later we shared some good time and had some drinks as well as posing for fotos with the dailies, to really etch the day in history.

America, you have done well!

Monday, October 20, 2008

New wealth, fresh challenges

Beneath the promised wealth from Ghana’s oil find are challenges of equitable distribution of resources, infrastructural development and environmental degradation.

(Piece written for TELL Magazine, Lagos)

Abuesi, a small fishing town on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Ghana’s Western Region, is one community that is set to feel the influence of oil. Its 7000 inhabitants have lived off fishing since it was founded many years ago. The agile men of Abuesi and its sister community Aboadze, like many in Ghana and along the Atlantic coast of West Africa, are used to leaving their homes early every morning for the cold embrace of the sea. There they cast nets out of their wooden canoes in search of ever decreasing fish catches. But the lifestyle of Abuesi may soon change.

Last year, the government of Ghana working alongside Tullow Oil, Kosmos Energy, Anadarko Oil and E.O Group, all petroleum exploration companies, struck oil in commercial quantity about 140 kilometres off the shore of Takoradi at a place called the Western Cape Three Points in the Tano Basin. The government has been assured that there is between 500million and 1 billion barrels of oil under those waters.

The announcement of the oil strike in June 2007 was met with great joy and celebration by the whole country. President John Kufuor told the world that the oil find will transform Ghana into an “African tiger”. “Even without oil, we are doing great. With oil as a shot in the arm we’re going to fly”, he said. Many in Ghana hope that the finding of oil will bring great improvement to their lives, even as the country aims to become a middle income country by 2015.

Already there is excitement in the air about Takoradi, capital of the Western Region, as locals tell of the influx of foreigners into their town, land speculators and all who want to make a quick buck by investing in real estate, property and hotels. Doris Annan, a lady who runs the Silver Pot, a European style restaurant on Liberation Road in the strategic heart of the town. has observed a steady flow of strangers coming to inquire about business opportunities in Takoradi. But she does not know how to go about making use of the opportunities offered by the oil find herself. Many, like her, are unaware of the tremendous opportunities that lie in their backyard. For most respondents at the Market Circle, the heart of slow-paced Takoradi, their laxity towards the opportunities that the oil find is placing on their door steps is due to ignorance, because they feel, since they lack technical or engineering skills, they will not be able to function in the new scheme of things.

This is the major challenge before Kwesi Biney, mayor of Ahanta West, the district which governs Cape Three Points where the oil find was made. A former journalist, Biney says that Ahanta West is “potentially one of the richest provinces of Ghana considering the number of investments coming into the community”. These investments have been coming because Takoradi is mainly saturated with development hence Ahanta is the next destination of investors. There are already huge investments in the purchase of large plots of land by speculators who are hoping to resell to serious investors on the long run. In Ghana, lands are under the purview of the traditional leaders who keep it in trust for the community. Hence, he has asked them to report any such offers of purchase to him to ensure there’s a background check on interested buyers to see if they are ready to develop lands bought. Biney is also working at helping to develop the capacity of his constituents educationally to enable them take up jobs with the oil companies when the time is ripe. The Western Region is the most resource-rich region in the country producing 60 per cent of Ghana’s gold; 60 per cent cocoa; 25 per cent timber; 100 per cent bauxite and manganese; 15 per cent oil palm and 100 per cent of rubber. Biney observes that the region still suffers deprivation in terms of good road networks and social amenities. “It’ll be in the interest of the nation that this region is taken good care of if we should avoid situations in other parts of the world where the oil regions suffer deprivation”, Biney says.

That is necessary to create an enabling environment for incoming business concerns. The organized business community is already gearing up for the imminent oil boom. Yawo Agbesi, branch manager of the United Bank for Africa, UBA, Takoradi expresses the feelings of the banking sector. “Oil and gas is what is going to push business forward in the coming years”, he says as he targets the share of the unbanked 80 per cent of the city’s population. The subject of oil has also enticed the sensibilities of foreign insurance companies notably from Nigeria who have suddenly found Ghana as the next destination in their West African expansion strategies. In the last six months, about four major insurers from Nigeria have set up offices in Ghana to take advantage of the oil find. “We have the experience of oil in Nigeria so we want to find a way of participating in it”, says Ishola Akintunde, general manager of Equity Assurance, Accra, a recent entrant from Nigeria.

But with the joy and influx of investments comes some apprehension among many Ghanaians of the myriad number of problems oil has caused in other African countries notably Nigeria and Angola. Charles Tetteh, a well traveled music record seller at the Market Circle in Takoradi sums up the thoughts of many. “When I look at the condition of the Niger Delta (Nigeria), it’s a far cry from the benefits which it (oil) offers” he says. Like many other people, he hopes the government will enact laws that will make sure Ghanaians enjoy great benefit from the oil considering the fact that the exploratory companies are foreign-owned.

Apart from that, there is an undercurrent of agitation for an equitable sharing of the oil revenue. Ghana is a unitary state where all wealth gotten from every resource belongs to the central government which is then shared among the 10 regional governments and 138 local governments or districts as they are called. The central government holds onto the bulk of all revenue giving about 13 per cent to the district assemblies depending on the level of economic activity and level of deprivation. Nii Moi Thompson, economist and director of the Development Policy Institute, Accra, says it is very small because ultimately development occurs on the local level and not on the national level which is characterized by waste, vanity and theft. Thompson hopes that when oil starts flowing, 25 per cent of the national revenue will be given to the local districts to enable them build their capacity to ensure that more meaningful development takes place closer to the people.

Those are not the only challenges the government is facing as it seeks to protect its interests in the emerging oil industry. It also has to deal with in-fighting among the citizens as some communities have already begun a tussle over the ownership of the oil fields. One community is claiming that its name is not included in the appellation given to the oil basin. Thomas Manu, director in charge of Exploration and Production at the Ghana National Petroleum Company, GNPC, Tema, says no community can lay claims to the oil fields because they are offshore on the continental shelf, a place which is outside the purview of any village. Biney prefers to say that it is only a misunderstanding between the two communities and that it will be settled like the “brothers that they are”.

Among the many fishermen along the shores, there is a great clamour for the protection of their fishing grounds by the government. Since the coming of the oil exploratory companies on the shores of Cape Three Points, fishermen have found that the light from the oil platform attracts the fish away from their usual fishing grounds. The men have therefore found a veritable fishing spot by the rig side. The government has tried to alert the fishermen about the danger of fishing close to the rig. It has warned them that anybody caught fishing close to the rig will be prosecuted. A worried Nana Kojo Konduah, traditional ruler of Abuesi and chairman of the region’s association of canoe fishermen is one man who is aware of the great change that oil will bring to their lives. He has called on the other chiefs in his area to pressure the government into creating better opportunities for his people as their lifestyle goes through drastic change in the next two years when crude oil will begin to flow from the rigs. Though expressing happiness at the oil find as he hopes it will free Ghana from the clutch of fluctuating and ever rising world oil prices which has thrown the country’s budget into a spin, Konduah believes that fishermen along the shore need to be reassured via environmental impact assessment that their means of livelihood will not be totally disrupted. Not only that, he says there must be corresponding compensation from the government for the loss of their fishing grounds. “If they deprive us of our fishing grounds they have to give us something which our children can benefit from”, Konduah tells this writer at his traditional palace in Abuesi while flanked by two of his chiefs.

Closely related to that is the challenge of security on the open ocean. Ghana will need to protect its oil against illegal bunkering amidst unconfirmed claims by fishermen who say they have sighted ships on the seas carrying contents which they suppose to be crude oil. The Ghanaian Navy, George Asiedu, a Takoradi-based broadcast journalist, claimed, has in its fleet very old patrol ships. He should know, as he sailed on one of them, the GNS Yogaga, on his visit to the Jubilee oil platform run by Kosmos Energy and Tullow Oil. He says it took the naval ship 18 hours to arrive at the rig from the Sekondi Naval Base a distance which should not have taken more than three hours in a good boat. When the waters cannot be protected, Asiedu says, it will lead to the loss of the country’s resources.

Ultimately, Ghana faces a challenge to bequeath a lasting legacy to its people with oil wealth in this time of spiking world oil prices. It has heated up the December 2008 presidential elections with candidates already talking about how they will utilize the enormous wealth. Nana Akufo-Addo, candidate of the ruling New Patriotic Party, NPP, who estimates that the country will earn about $15 billion in the first five years plans to use it for developing agricultural potentials in the largely underdeveloped northern part of the country as well as to promote the manufacturing sector. John Atta-Mills, candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC, has stated that he will make sure there’s a transparent management of oil revenues to enhance faster growth of the economy.

However, there are indications that, unlike other African countries, Ghana might be able to stem the potentials problems before the blow into the open. The government has tried to quell the anxiety of the populace by involving the whole country in the decision making process. It has tried to carry the people along during every inch of the process of engaging laws that will make the country not commit mistakes made by other countries. “The first thing we did was to call a forum where we called those with know-how to share with us their experiences the outcome of which was documented and taken round the whole country to enable people add their ideas”, says Felix Owusu-Agyapong, Ghana’s energy minister. This painstaking arrangement has made the government decide to toe the path of countries with best practices in the oil industry like Norway which has invested the bulk of its oil revenue in a $350 billion fund for future generations while avoiding the Dutch disease, the sole dependence on oil as a means of earning foreign exchange.

A lot of African countries have suffered the curse of oil, Ghanaians hope that theirs will be a different story even as their country has been hailed by the West as a symbol of good governance. The coming of oil will definitely test the strength of its 16 year-old democracy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yar Adua: Est-il mort?

Why is there a deafening silence from Aso Rock about Yar Adua's health?

Can we please know the true state of health of the president?

Who is gaining from the absence of the president?

Who will gain from the rudderless state of the nation's sailing ship?

Questions but no answers.

Somebody out there who knows please enlighten me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama is hip hop’s first president

Barack Obama embodies the dream of a lot of people. On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, he accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party as presidential candidate in November’s elections. For many, the fact that Obama, an African American is able to aspire to the highest office in America is a fulfillment of King’s “dream”.

Like many young people, candidate Obama loves rap music and on his top 10 list are songs like the Fugees’ Ready or not and Kanye West’s Touch the sky, big rap hits. It is not farfetched why he has a strong connection with young people.

But for the hip hop generation, Obama’s coming might be the fulfillment of the visions of the prophets of Hip Hop. Rap legend Tupac Shakur asked the question in his song Changes: “And although it seems heaven sent; We ain't ready, to see a black President; It ain't a secret don't conceal the fact; the penitentiary's packed, and it's filled with blacks”.

In Shakur’s vision of the condition of the black man in America, it was easy to dismiss that a black man could ever become president considering the fact that the bulk of them were in jail. But the clock has turned full circle with Obama becoming the first black man with the best realistic shot at the White House. Obama's optimistic message of "change" finally answers Shakur's pessimistic "I see no changes; all i see is racist faces".

Obama's might be the hip hop dream come true.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nigeria Represented at Obama Rally in Berlin!

Photo taken by Charles Ommanney for Newsweek.

I was browsing through a back copy of Newsweek (August 4 edition) a couple of moments ago and saw the picture of Barack Obama's speech in Berlin Germany, last month.

When I looked closer, to my amazement, I saw the Nigerian flag and a Nigerian lady standing behind it. The green-white held a pride of place as Obama trotted the aisle towards the dais where he delivered his world unity speech to 200, 000 Berliners.

And ensconced in that huge crowd was a proud Nigerian flying our flag thousands of kilometres across the world. She was clapping alongside Europeans who were savouring the beauty of the moment.

Does anybody know this lady who is very proud of her 9janess even while looking forward to a better world, that which Obama represents?

I couldn't but share the picture with you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hotel room blues

I stayed in a hotel called Asempa Hotel in Takoradi, Ghana during my recent sojourn there. On their house rules list were some expressions I felt l couldn’t but share with you guys.

House rule No 6: customers are advised not to entertain too many visitors in their rooms as this may DISTURD fellow lodgers.
House rule No 8: kindly refrain from TEMPERING with electrical installations. All problems must be reported to the front desk.

Never mind the typos, it's a great place to stay if you ever find yourself in Takoradi. It's relatively new and affordable. Single room goes for $35. With free breakfast.

And it is in the centre of town along the city's Liberation Road close to the Market Circle where you can find the cheapest fish in the world as the city is bordered by the Atlantic.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Out for a while

Dear readers,

I'm out of town for a couple of days and would not be blogging as I'm undertaking some research. Hope you don't miss me too much.

See you soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ribaduism and Ribadu blues

The nation is suffering from Ribaduism at the moment. What is Ribaduism? It is the feeling you get when you've stepped on a lot of toes on your way up and those toes come to crush you when you are at your most vulnerable point. Yesterday the papers reported that Nuhu Ribadu, erstwhile EFCC chairman has been demoted from the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, to that of a Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP.

As if that was not grave enough, today reports have it that Ribadu has been sent packing from the executive refresher course he was attending at NIPSS, Jos because his new rank cannot allow him to continue with the pprogramme. I guess you cannot make omelette without breaking eggs, huh?

My heart goes out to Ribadu even though I think he might have deserved some of the flak he is receiving at the moment. He did step on some toes while trying to please his political godfather OBJ in his anti-corruption fight. For most of the campaign against corruption in Nigeria, many people believed that Ribadu was just hounding the enemies of OBJ and not really stamping out corruption. But it cannot be said that he didn't make any meaningful impact. So it begs the question; who will ever stand up to fight against corruption in this country knowing that he will suffer the consequences when he is no longer in office?

Is it possible that Dora Akunyili who, like Ribadu, has fought against importers of fake killer drugs through NAFDAC will suffer the same fate? It seems we have a short memory span in this country. Hosannah! today, crucify him! tomorrow.

There are obviously more questions than there are answers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Paris-ian response to McCain

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

What more could one have expected from Paris Hilton but such coy words and an attack against McCain; "that wrinkly, white-haired guy". Hahahaha

More power to Paris. I think she's not just a dumb blonde, she's also smart in her own way. ANd she makes use of it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Northern Friends of the South South

(Left:Dr Shabba Umar and Alhaji Suleiman AB Yerima, president of the group)

Attended a press briefing today by the Northern Friends of the South South, a pressure group that wants the government to pay more attention to the issues affecting the Niger Delta.

They want among other things:

-that the federal government reverse the derivation formula to 50% for the producing region to what it was back before the Civil War in 1967.
-that the fed govt pay all the funds accruing to the Delta region
-that the fed govt not relinquish the Bakassi region to Cameroun.
-that the fed govt refuse the help of the British and Americans in sending their military to the Niger Delta region knowing that force would only aggravate the situation like it has been in Iraq and Afghanistan.
-that the militants in the Niger Delta sheath their swords and embrace dialogue.
-that the Friends of the South South will continue to pursue the idea of one Nigeria and peace and unity for all.

It is interesting to note that a northern group would stand up for the people of the Niger Delta considering the fact that the North has always enjoyed the money from the Delta without feeling the pinch of environmental degradation that has almost destroyed the people there.

May we have many more groups like this that will be selfless enough to stand for other parts and ethnicities of the country other than theirs. I feel there's still hope for this country after all.

Supporting our boys

The Olympic Games commence on Friday and Nigeria will be participating in about 9 disciplines. The country's favourite sport is football and our lads and ladies will both be playing tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday. The Falcons will play the ladies from Korea tomorrow while the Dream Team will square up against the Netherlands on Thursday.

This is wishing the Samson Siasia lads a successful outing in Beijing. Hope they bring us the gold again like the premier Dream Team did in 1996.

Go Nigeria. Go for gold!!!

See my complete analysis of the Games in this week's edition of TELL Magazine.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Do we have a government?

I went to my brother's wedding last Saturday at Sango Otta. I made my journey through Ifako Ijaiye and encountered a sight that made me question if we really have a government in place in Lagos. There's this crater lake in the middle of the road and people and cars got stuck in it. It was like a scene from CNN except that I was one of the live witnesses. Buses and cars failed as they tried to drive through with several ebgines becoming flooded and loosing power. See photos here. It is sad if our government cannot do anything to help its citizens while it makes to collect taxes, even increasing, it all the time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Re: Still on Obama

I got a well worded response from a certain Turbo Abolade (with no forwarding address) criticizing my post on Sen. Barack Obama. He/she made some really scathing remarks about my person that I would like to address in the open through another post even as s/he claimed I might not be bold enough to publish their response. I have allowed the comment and have also made to place it alongside my post so that everyone who cares to can read it. So I will go ahead to address all the issues that s/he has raised one after the other like a serious person, which I have tried not to be if they had decided to read the text under my profile photo on the right hand of this page. So let's set off:

1. I have never given off the idea about my religion and so for me to be refered to as one is out of the question.

2. I never refered to Mrs Clinton anywhere in my posts for it to be insinuated that I am a player hater who would have prefered Mrs Clinton as the DNC candidate. Maybe s/he was refering to the fact that Mrs Clinton is a known person because I refered to Obama as an unknown quantity, perhaps.

3. I never said Obama is a dirty politician. He respects other people and that's how come he's gotten this far.

4. I never refered to him as not campaigning on the message of hope because if there's anything the people need, it's more hope.

5. I never refered to Obama's status as an orphan as his reason for being the anti-Christ. If I had done so it'd have amounted to calling my own father an anti-Christ for he was an orphan at an early age.

6. I never refered to Theology and was only talking about pop/folk culture. And I'm sure I never resorted to personal insults.

7. And I am bold enough to publish your comment, are you disappointed?

If I wrote anything you don't like about Sen. Obama, I'm sure you know it's a free world where I am allowed to express or misexpress myself. I think you should have just overlooked the issue because there was really nothing meant. It was just the thoughts of an unserious writer like you must have read on the right hand side of this page, if you had cared to.

Have a nice day and vote for our man Obama.

Yes we can!!!

I'm not sure if you are a Christian or not but making such a conclusion about Obama without any proof is blackmailing which in fact is a sin.

You might have your suspicions but I guess you are one of those who badly wanted the messiah, Mrs Cliton and are too disappointed to believe an obscure rival emerged as the presumptive nominee. Shame on you!

The fact remains that this guy has not played any major dirty games usually associated with politicians when campaigning. He respects his oppositions and does not resort to name calling.

All he has done so far is to campaign on hope, which many people believe in and he certainly has done a good job so far.

If your point is right then all orphans are anti-Christ(???). Go and check out history and you will find out that in fact most of the successful achievers/inventors where orphans or at least one of their parents was deceased.

You might need to get your head checked out as your point has no substance. Perhaps, you need to review your theology and be sure you are not being misled when in fact you think you are intelligent, but I can confirm to you you aint intellient at all.

Nt sure you'll be bold enough to publish this...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Of football fans, fanaticism and idolatry

I have decided to remove the logo of Arsenal FC that I displayed on my phone's screen. Why? I have realised that so many people carry logos of their favourite football teams and bandy it about like something which is fast amounting to idolatry. Hence, no more for me the fanaticism that's the trend these days. Even though I will always support my team, I no longer want to carry their logo on my phone.

What could be more dangerous than the collective admiration and worship of symbols that are fleeting? How many of us carry God on our phones? But it is easier to display the logo of Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea or Liverpool on our phones? We just might be drifting into the worship of football teams, footballers and all without knowing.

God help us.

Weekend blues

Have you ever had the feeling that going into the weekend would be great for you only to return to the office on Monday morning realising that you didn't achieve what you had set out to?

I'm back in the office this morning and I feel as if the weekend just went without any major achievement. There was no highlight for me and all the work I took home last Friday hoping to thrash out are yet to be done.

Is it me or does it happen to everybody? I wish I could reverse the time, mais non!

Have a great week.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Still on Obama

Yes still on the Obama conspiracy theory, I believe that Obama could be the anti-Christ because:

Think about it, where are his parents? They are both dead. Conspiracy theory 1 says get rid of the birth parents before the subject comes into limelight so that no immediate relative can identify if their child has been switched, according to Robert Ludlum The Matarese Circle

If you don't believe me, keep a date with me soon as I make to unearth more earth-shattering revelations about our man Obama.

Don't forget:

Vote for Obama.

Yes we can.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is Obama the Anti-Christ?

In the office today we talked about Barack Obama's speech in Germany that attracted over 200,000 admirers in Berlin and we wondered which politician in the world can attract such a massive gathering of people in one place (that is except some despots that hire crowds). It made me voice out someting that's been in the back of my mind for a long time now since this Obama-mania began.

Is Obama the anti-Christ?

With a sweet persona and mesmerising voice, Barack Obama has been able to cross boundaries like nobody else and he makes people fall in love with him so easily. He was in Jerusalem and Palestine and you could see all the leaders he's met gush with joy at meeting him. All this while coming out of seeming obscurity. And him speaking of "a new world order", he just might be the greatest man to fool the whole world.

He's just too good to be true.

One of my colleagues then retorted that he couldn't be the anti-Christ as the one prophesied will come out of the Middle East so I responded that with a name like Barack Hussein Obama, "how much Middle Easterly can one get?"

God help us.

Vote for Obama

Yes we can!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Romance in the office

I am doing a research on office romance or romance in the Nigerian work place. I am trying to gather information about whether organisations have official policies regulating how their employees conduct themselves in relationships, mainly romantic.

- Do organisations have rules governing marriage between members of staff?

- If staff are in a romantic relationship, are they required to inform their employers?

- Can married staff members work together in the same office in an organisation?

- Is a relationship between a senior official and a junior one allowed?

- Is a senior official, a woman, allowed to marry or date a younger or lower ranked male employee?

-Which are the major companies that have these all encompassing policies in place?

These and many other questions are the crux of the research I am doing for the magazine which I write for. Please if you have any information on any organisation that has official policies on relationship and/or people that have been affected by such rules, positively and otherwise, do help me with details.

You can reply to this message or send me an email: jololade002@ or oadewuyi@tellng. com

Thank you

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cradle of prize fighters

Bukom, a neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana is the home of boxing in Africa with its concentration of boxers who fight to escape the poverty of the ghetto.


Fight night at Prisons Canteen, Accra

It is a cool evening at the Prisons Canteen, Danquah Circle, Accra where Thomas Azurie, a lanky Tema-born welterweight fighter is preparing to enter into the boxing ring. His coach George Neequaye helps to strap on his red gloves while giving him some last minute instructions. Azurie is heading into his third amateur fight after losing the two previous ones by points and a technical knockout courtesy of a bleeding nose respectively. He had approached the Billy Kotey Memorial Boxing Gym, Bukom three years ago to master the art of boxing which had so enthralled him as a kid. The 20 year-old has since come to feel at home under the tutelage of Neequaye. He was scheduled to fight Emmanuel Obeng, a stocky muscle-bound pugilist from the Attoh Quarshie Boxing Club. The crowd which consists of beer guzzling prisons officials and other enthusiasts have gathered round the square ring of the Prisons Canteen courtyard in anticipation of a great fight night. The rusty ring sits under the moonlight as the many boxers prepared themselves for their bloody sport. The ring looked like the ancient Roman Coliseum, a place which has seen the building of many professional careers and the end of many even before they had begun. Two 10 year-olds go at each other in the first bout of the night. The crowd screams in applause whenever a good punch is landed by any of them, even though it is a non-scoring fight. Neequaye gives his ward last minute advice before entering the ring. “He’s going to come at you with force but relax and take him out with your left hook”, he says.

Thomas Azurie gets last minute instructions from coach George Neequaye.

The boxers commence and there is a flurry of punches as they size each other up. The first round ends with Azurie breaking his nose again, the scars of the past coming to haunt him. The doctor again stops him in the second round even though he wants to go on. The lad is flushed with anger. His coach tells him to calm down. “A loss at amateur level should not discourage a fighter because it is a learning curve”, he says. Azurie is painfully led away from the gym by Neequaye who tells him to resume training in two weeks after his nose heals up. Amon Neequaye, an Olympian at the 1984 games in Los Angeles sums up the spirit of the Bukom boxer; “They are courageous and persistent”.

Front of the Billy Kotey Memorial Boxing Gym, Bukom, Accra.

Hail a taxi cab anywhere in Accra; destination- Bukom and the cabbie will most probably ask which boxing gym you want to visit. Boxing is the major pastime of the young men of Jamestown and Bukom in downtown Accra while every foreigner is perceived as a would-be student. The gyms of Bukom attract the attention of boxing practitioners from Europe with many making regular pilgrimages to test their strength against the will of Bukom’s fighters. They sometimes donate fight equipment to the gyms to help keep them going. A United Kingdom, UK, sports company GAP organises yearly teaching exchange trips to Bukom for UK based athletes. The sport is what has put their small rusty town on the world map. Bukom is regarded by many as the boxing capital of Africa. From its small population has emerged some of the greatest boxing talents in the world. It is said that kids in Bukom learn to fight as soon as they can run because the law of the jungle holds sway here; eat or be eaten. There is a form of bullying which goes on in Bukom which many refer to as a toughening process for young boys in this town where poverty is as real as the stinking overflowing drains that ooze out of its shanty homes. But for many kids here, boxing is a ticket to the good life. Its almost 30 rundown boxing gyms have achieved the feat of producing toughened boxers on a regular basis and these have brought glory to the slum. From out of the shacks of Bukom have come such names like Azumah ‘Zoom Zoom’ Nelson, a three time World Boxing Council, WBC, featherweight title holder who is regarded by many as Africa’s greatest boxer; DK Poison, WBC featherweight champion; Clement Quartey, Ike Quartey, World Boxing Association, WBA welterweight champion; Alfred Kotey, WBO bantamweight champion; Raymond Narh, Commonwealth gold medallist and reigning International Boxing Federation, IBF, bantamweight champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko.

For many families in Bukom, boxing is a trade they take closely to heart. Boxing coach George Neequaye tells of how his family has been into the trade for a long time. The gym where he trains new fighters now was started by his father. His brothers and nephews have fought out of it their whole life. “I met it in the family”, says the portly 42 year-old Neequaye who presently has 10 students training under him. The Billy Kotey Memorial Boxing Club is, like many other clubs in Bukom, an open courtyard in the back of a colonial style building. It shares space with the women’s laundry line. Its punching bag, now removed, hangs from a weather-beaten wall. Some worn out boxers’ shoes lie around the concrete floor, the years clearly telling on them. The gym could as well have been an old clothes dump. But it’s a place that has produced great fighters, including a certain Raymond Narh, 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medallist now fighting professionally in the United States. “Raymond is my nephew, he trained here”, quickly points out Neequaye, who doubles as an officer of the Ghana Fire Service. For many in Bukom, boxing is a path to the promise of much wealth and escape from the ghetto where the worth of life is very cheap. With its high hopes comes the ugly underbelly. Neequaye tells sorrowfully of how another of his nephews, a young promising boxer was stabbed to death right around the corner after one of his fights. It is an incident that Neequaye remembers with pain and anguish written all over his face. He shows me a large framed photo of the deceased lad even as he avoids taking a look at it himself. “I can never look at that picture again”, he says. “It brings back bad memories”. Dauda Lartey, a young carpenter’s apprentice who used to be a boxer confirms the fears of many in his neighbourhood. “If you stay in this area and you’re not strong, you have no chance”, he says in a voiced laced in fatality. It is the proverbial no man’s land where fists are used to resolve differences between people, young and old. And when a fight arises, “nobody will separate them until one party runs away”.

The tough street training is one of the ingredients that helped shape Joseph Agbeko to become what he is today. The reigning 28 year-old IBF champion won his title after stopping Nicaraguan Luis Alberto Perez in the seventh round of a title fight in Las Vegas in November 2007. His story reads like typical rags to riches, his fist being his meal ticket out of the slum. “Bukom is the home of Ghana’s boxers because it’s where poor people come from and become rich”, he says.

IBF Bantamweight champion Joseph 'King Kong' Agbeko, notice the tattoo on his arm

Agbeko began boxing at an early age like most other Bukom kids and enrolled for his first formal boxing classes with Attoh Quarshie Boxing Club at about ten years of age in 1990. “In Bukom, when children are fighting nobody separates them until one of them gets tired”, says Agbeko. His childhood instincts have made him into the best fighter in his weight category in the world. The lack of adequate training materials does not deter the Bukom lad from aiming for the world championship title. It is the largeness of their hearts Aand their great guts that have placed many on the ladder of success. “The people over there are very independent, they want to get to where they want to get to, and they don’t think too much about facilities, they aim high”, says Agbeko fondly called King Kong. Even though some boxing critics say that Ghanaian boxing is on the decline due to the impatience of boxers and coaches alike to want to make quick money, the fighters of Bukom have made a name for themselves out of the misery of daily life by letting their punches do the talking.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rest in peace Sonny Okosuns

This goes out to a very great Nigerian musician Sonny Okosuns who died in the US at the weekend. He was aged 61 years. He died from colon cancer. Okosuns music blessed me as a young chap growing up in the 80s and he was a great voice that rose up against Apartheid in South Africa. He performed during Nelson Mandela's inauguration as President of South Africa in 1996, it was a result of the recognition of his immense work for that nation. He was popularly called Ozzidi King

Rest in peace compatriot. We shall never forget you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

South Africa: Why?

O why Africa do you kill your own?
I cry when I see people whose freedom was fought for by the whole of Africa now turning against people who fought for them.
O foolish Bantus, when will you learn not to bite the fingers that fed you when you were in need?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thieving South Africans

The manner in which poor South Africans are taking their anger is escalating as a BBC report yesterday says that President Thabo Mbeki's house has been burgled by yet to be identified assailants. Last week the Nigerian Parliament called for an investigation into how it is that an incresing number of Nigerians are being robbed on arriving at South Africa's airports. See story here

I'm sure the Rainbow nation must be very embarrassed by these incidents coming at a time when it is working towrds hosting a successful World Cup in 2010.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wenger after Martins

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is after Naija striker Obafemi Martins but will it come to pass? There have always been rumours aout MArtins moving to The Emirates. I HOPE IT FINALLY COMES TO THE LIGHT OF DAY THIS TIME. See a link to the original story here

Young Journalist of the Year Award

Photo: Myself(left) and Segun Adeoye, Young Journalist 2007 in the office at TELL, May 1, 2008.

Thursday 27th March 2008, Segun Adeoye of Tell Magazine emerged as the young Journalist for the year 2007. This was made known at the award presentation ceremony of the 2nd Young Journalist Awards held at the Conference hall, LTV ground, Agindingbi, Ikeja, Lagos .
Segun Adeoye, who topped the scoring sheet from the results received from the panel of judges, carted home the star prize of a brand new Laptop computer and an award plaque. The stories that won him the award are attached.
Speaking at the award presentation, Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin, Sunday Editor of the Nation Newspaper who was Chair of the Award presentation ceremony said “the Young Journalist Awards is to encourage young journalists to take their job more seriously.”
Mr. Deji Elumoye, NUJ Lagos council Vice Chairman stood in for the council Chairman as Guest of honour. Other special guests at the ceremony included Ms. Joke Kujenya, Mr. Chido Onumah, Mr. Lanre Arogundade amongst a host of other journalists. According to Mr. Kingsley Obom-Egbulem, a member of the panel of judges, “the reports by the entrants were really very challenging and of very high standard”.
Other prizes awarded at the ceremony included a multi-purpose Ericsson phone, presented to Toyosi Ogunseye of News star Newspaper; 1st runner up and a digital camera to Rafiu Ajakaye of Daily Independent Newspaper; 2nd runner up as well as consolation prizes to other nominees.
The Young Journalist Awards is an initiative of Media Career Services (MCS), a media training and research organization devoted to promoting excellence in media practice in Nigeria .
The 2nd Young Journalist Awards was supported by Posterity Media Nigeria, Journalist Against AIDS, JAAIDS, Nigeria , International Press Centre, IPC, and an anonymous donor.
Media Career Services, which has over the years organized several trainings for the development of journalists in the country, is the publisher of STOP PRESS; the career moulding newsletter for journalists in Nigeria , amongst other journalism career enhancing publications.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ja Rule at Ghana Music Awards

It was the 9th Ghana Music Awards on Friday 25 April and rapper Ja Rule was in Accra to perform where he also recieved an award for his contributions to the world of entertainment. He wowed the audience with his delivery of his hit songs. Watch video below.Nigeria's P Square were also honoured on the night with the Best African Act. They beat Kenya's Nameless and fellow Nigerian 2Face to the award.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

BRT so fast

I entered a BRT bus on Monday from the National Stadium to Ojota and on our way we encountered traffic building up on the service lane. But not BRT, we couldn't be affected as we zoomed off on the BRT Only lane to our destination. You can tell of the comfort in the bus with the guy beside me who just dozed off. Who says Lagos is not working. Eko o ni baje o.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Obamamania consumes Lagos

Once in a while something comes into fashion making everybody go gaga. Right about now it is the craze for Barack Obama, the African American Democratic hopeful for the American presidency. Recently, the Lagos House of Assembly lawmakers joined in the trend by signing up as his supporters. Click here
It is funny how our lawmakers have suddenly found a way to couch their admiration by saying they are his admirers. What irony

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama: Of Colour and Prejudice

I have not met Barack Obama but I must say I respect his humanity. Not because he is a black man like me, but because of his sense of duty and the role which he is presently playing in our unfolding history. He comes across to me like that inner man which I saw myself becoming as a kid.

I look to him not for hope but for inspiration for nowhere else in the world can his story be possible. It's for us as humans to look into our hearts to get the strength that keeps him going everyday.

I respect you man. I look forward to reading your books very soon as I've already ordered them from a supplier.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Testing for HIV

Do sane people ever walk themselves to a clinic to test for HIV? That was the question that crossed my mind yesterday as I sat opposite a female counselor at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja to conduct a Voluntary HIV Counseling and Test (VCT). I had walked in confidently thinking I owed it to the world to know my HIV status. It wasn't long into the conversation with the counselor that I began to think I might have made a mistake after all.

She had begun by asking what I knew about HIV. It sounded like a joke and I had proceeded to try and impress her.

"Oh well", I coughed. "HIV is Human Immunodeficiency Virus", I said smiling. She nodded her head. I felt she was impressed about my awareness. But who wouldn't know what HIV means in this time and age when the media is awash with the message? Then she further.

"Can you tell me how it is contacted?” I felt this was an easy one and smiled. Then I tried to show off again.

"You see, I've known about HIV since secondary school in the early 90s", I said.

"Please tell me how it is passed on", she responded unimpressed.

"Through unprotected sex and sharing of sharp objects that could have been tainted with blood", I replied, now more conscious of the fact that she was really serious.

She looks at me, eyeball to eyeball; "When you say through sex, do you know that you can have unprotected sex and not contact HIV?

"If you stick to an uninfected partner and have unprotected sex with her you won't have HIV", she told.

I was caught. My ignorance was exposed. "Oh yes, that's true", I tried to make up. "It only just escaped me", I responded.

Then she went on about how the sharing of sharp objects could actually make one vulnerable. She talked of hair clippers, combs, razor blades, etc. But my mind suddenly went blank. I was no longer listening to her lecture. My mind then began to wander back into the past.

Suddenly I went down the lanes of my sex life. Every tiny detail flashed across my mind's eye. Every time I had done the act without protection. The names, the time, the deed. There it was mocking me. And it was then I realized I had made a grave mistake coming to test for HIV. For nobody had forced my legs. I wasn't referred by a doctor. It was just me that out of curiosity carried my bottom go there.

And then she asked; "What will you do if you turn out positive?"


I looked bewildered. For I had not thought about it before. For me, it had been an innocent act. It suddenly dawned on me that the test could go any way. Not because I have been very careless with my life but because I just realized how helpless my situation was. One could be infected by so many things not just by sex.

So she asked me again.

"I don't know what I'll do I", I replied.

"Will you make it known to other people?” she asked.

"Can we just not talk about it again", I begged.

"I understand how you feel", she replied. "So many people come in here every day and don't know what to expect." Then she proceeded to lecture me on the several ways in which one can manage the disease these days without it affecting one's regular lifestyle and job. She spoke of several bank managers and upwardly mobile people who are living with HIV though anonymously. She told me that the drugs were even now given to people free of charge!

So I signed the form empowering the hospital to test me for HIV even though my hands were shaking. Then I went for the test.

A male nurse used a needle to prick my right thumb. Bright red blood flowed. I couldn't imagine the thought of HIV flowing in me. The nurse took a tiny sample and placed some wool against my thumb to stop the flow. He asked me to sit awhile that the result will some be out. I pick a seat alongside other anxious patients. Opposite us sat a group of patients who had come to receive their anti-retroviral drugs from the hospital. One man was narrating to the others how a local herbalist had tried to cheat him of some money with promise of a cure. He told them he has been feeling better since he started taking the drugs administered by the hospital.

The air conditioner blew cold air into the room. I waited. The batch before mine was called to get their results. One guy comes out clutching a piece of paper and crosses himself.
Moments later my batch is called in. We enter one after the other. I'm the first to enter and a new lady is in the counseling room.

"Are you Ololade Adewuyi?” she asks. I nod my head. I can't speak; my tongue is, well, I’m tongue-tied.

"What happens if I'm positive", I inquire mustering braveness into my voice.

"Wait till you get your result", she replies.

She shuffles some papers on her desk, pulls out a rectangular paper the colour of pink. She looks at it and looks at me. My heartbeat races, I bow down my head.

"You're negative", she says.

I grab my result and walk out smiling. I cross myself. Then I do a little waltz. Then I notice it is sunny and bright outside the hospital.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Changing jobs

Every time in a man's life, one needs to take stock of the activities around one and see if one is walking in the direction of one's destiny and life goals. I did that recently and decided that it was high time I changed jobs to move me closer to where I want to be in life.

Therefore, I am no longer working with OVATION International, I have taken up an appointment with one of Nigeria's best trusted news magazines, TELL, in what I feel is a move towards my life's calling. Henceforth, I'll be working for TELL in the capacity of Country Correspondent (Ghana). It is a challenge I hope will take me closer to my destination.

I enjoyed my time at OVATION and really cherish the moments that I shared with colleagues, friends and my boss. It was a great experience. I look forward to greater days ahead.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kakum National Park: Walking on a tight rope

It was literally walking on a tight rope yesterday as my friend Ayo Olojola and I visited the Kakum National Park in the Central Region of Ghana. There they have an untouched lush green tropical forest with canopy walkways high up in the trees up to 40 metres high.

Truly not for the faint hearted, we trudged on along the seven shaky canopies about ten of us in the troop led by our faithful guide Samuel Owusu. It was fun looking down from the trees but sometimes awe inspiring.

We spent about an hour and half doing the round. First was a climb up his hill to about 250 metres. It made the strongest of us short of breath. And then the walk into the trees began with Samuel elling a story or two about the medicinal uses of some of the tree barks. He reminded me of some of the quality time I spent with my Granny Abigail in the village when I was much younger.

It wasn't all about physical activity though as we made friends with some fellow trekkers like Lena and Laurie from Virginia who were on an educational trip to Ghana.

I then got me a t-shirt with my foto emblazoned on the front. It was a wow trip atleast it got my mind off the miserable performance of the Super Eagles during the Nations Cup in Ghana.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Remembering Iluyemi Obadasa: 8 Years After

It was just fifteen days after the euphoric celebrations that greeted the beginning of the new millennium when my friend Iluyemi Obadasa was brutally killed by a fellow student in Ado Ekiti. ‘Yemi had been studying for a degree in Law at the University of Ado Ekiti. He was in his second year when he died, a death most horrible that it threw the whole of the university into chaos. His passing shattered the peace of Ado that the university had to be shut for upwards of three months.

Yemi’s killers, for they were many, were led by the duo of Olumide Ogunleye and Tolu Kolawole (son of a famous furniture businessman) alongside their girlfriends, a bunch of drunk lads that were returning from a drinking splurge and had run him over with their car near a rubbish heap along the Adebayo Road close to the State Hospital that fateful night. He was seeing off a friend that had come to pay a visit that night at his Similoluwa Hall accommodation. It was while returning to his abode that the killers struck, hitting and knocking out the life in him and then making away like practiced hit-and-run drivers.

The sight of his mangled corpse on a rubbish heap in the morning aroused the anger in the student populace as they felt he had been killed by ritualists. For Iluyemi was an albino, a very popular one. He was known by a lot of people in the university community and it was not uncommon to hear people, students, lecturers and traders refer to him as “Barrister White”, an appellation to which he always responded in the affirmative in his baritone voice. In his characteristic jovial nature, he would tell them that he was organising a committee of Nigerian albinos to overthrow the government. It was a well practiced joke from when we were in secondary school and it never ceased to make us laugh.

The sudden death of Barrister White shocked the student body on that morning of January 16, 2000 and the town would not know peace again for that week. In situations like that, when tempers rise, a lot of havoc is wreaked on the property of perceived perpetrators of such acts. Many individuals and businesses therefore suffered what they knew nothing about. A very unfortunate thing but the university body all rose up to condemn the act. The state government then set up a committee to investigate the incident only to realize that the act was committed not by ritualists but by students who were too drunk to realize that they could offer help to someone who they had knocked down with their vehicle.

It was such an anti-climax. Many people cursed the society that had raised such sons of evil who wouldn’t stop to give a helping hand to someone in pain. Where was the Samaritan spirit that the good Lord had preached to us all? It was such a sad end to the life of a very promising young man. After a time of incarceration, the perpetrators of that evil act have been walking the streets of our country since as free men. But what kind of men they are with such an act on their conscience, I don’t know. I leave that to them and their creator.

But today I look back and remember the young Iluyemi that I knew. For he will always remain young in my memory. If he were alive today he will be thirty one years old. He would be a practicing lawyer for there was nothing he wanted more than to minister in the courts of justice fighting for the rights of the under privileged. It was our dream when we were at Aquinas College, Akure. We were in the notorious Arts Class which we nicknamed “House of Parliament”. Also in that class was Femi Onipede (Erebe Father, now a practicing lawyer), Kayode Eso, Seyi Ologungbara, Oludayo Bello, etc. Yemi led our class till graduation in ’96 when he scored an A in mathematics, a course we all dreaded. He was a great all round scholar. At Aquinas College he was called “Mercury” because he always carried along an umbrella to preserve his light sensitive skin. The name mercury came about as we used to say he would melt like mercury, the only metal that is liquid in a cold state, if he walked under the hot sun without his umbrella. He always laughed it off.

Back then we wanted to be like the Gani Fawehinmis of this world. Yemi and I had both been admitted into Ado Ekiti first to study Political Science and Philosophy respectively. But we wanted something better. We would write another JAMB examination and he would be admitted to study Law while I left to study English at Ile Ife.

During my one year sojourn at Ado, I shared so much with him. I stayed with him at Similoluwa Hall as I didn’t get a place of my own. We shared everything we had and we were closer than brothers. My leaving for Ile Ife did not affect our friendship as we met during the holidays in Akure, still as close as ever. The last time I saw him was on the 2nd of January, 2000 when I went to his house to inform him of my impending departure for Ife the next day. We had enjoyed a swell time during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

We had organized a party of friends at my house the evening of December 31, 1999 as my mother had traveled to Lagos. At our jolly friends’ meet, Iluyemi had introduced a young lady to our group as the woman to whom he was getting engaged. Such was his tenacity of purpose at doing things his own way. When he made up his mind it was hard to make him change it. If not for his death, I’m sure he would have had children by now. He had his life well planned.

Such are the blissful memories that I remember of my friend eight years later. Even though I had found it strange to learn of his passing, I look back now and remember the great times we shared. He was a wonderful man who would have made a lot of difference in his generation if his candle had not melted too early. I miss his wisdom and wit, his large heart and his laughter. He had his moods as well. He was not perfect but he was a good man. Sometimes I wish we could turn back the time and make him not embark on that trip that fateful night. But all that has happened has made us wiser.

Yemi left behind a great family. His dad worked in the police. He was the second of six sons. He left behind a lot of friends who remember him today. Rest in peace my friend.