Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10 Ways To Prevent Breast Cancer

New figures show that breast cancer is now the most common form of the disease in Britain.

But statistics also show that nine out of ten of us are willing to make lifestyle changes to reduce our risk of the disease.

The truth is, much research is still needed to understand breast cancer - and its causes - fully. But there are certain steps every woman can take to help reduce their chances of developing the illness.

Here are our top ten tips to help prevent breast cancer.

Be 'breast aware':

More than 90 per cent of breast tumours are detected by women themselves, so keeping an eye on changes to your breasts should be an important part of every woman's health care. Advice on exactly when and how women should examine their breasts has changed in recent years.

Medics no longer advise women to examine their breasts every month in a regimented way as they believe that this may cause them to become over-anxious. Instead, women are now advised to become 'breast aware'. This means getting to know what your breasts look like in front of a mirror, and feel like - perhaps in the shower or lying down - at different times of the month so that if an abnormal change occurs you can spot them at once.

Breast-feed your babies:

Some studies have shown a link between breast-feeding and a lower risk of developing breast cancer, although there is still no clear consensus on this. Researchers who believe there is a link claim the
younger the mother and the longer she breast-feeds her baby the better. The claims are based on the theory that breast cancer is related to the hormone oestrogen. Many researchers believe the more our bodies are exposed to this hormone the greater the risk of the disease. Breast-feeding temporarily reduces a woman's oestrogen levels. It is also thought that breast-feeding causes the breast to go through certain physical changes that protect them against cancer-causing chemicals.

If you find a lump, go to see your doctor as soon as possible

Research shows that many, many women delay going to see a doctor if they find a lump in their breast because they are afraid they have cancer. This is the worst thing you can do. Firstly, nine out of ten breast lumps are not cancer, so visiting your doctor will usually help you put your mind at rest. Secondly, if your lump is cancerous, prompt treatment could save your life.

Find out if you have a family history of breast cancer:

Much research is still needed before scientists fully understand all the causes of breast cancer. But one thing is known for sure: genetic breast cancer accounts for at least ten per cent of all cases of the illness. It is thought that one in five hundred people carry a faulty gene which can make them susceptible to the disease.

Those most likely to have inherited breast cancer are those with many relatives diagnosed with the disease at a young age, women who have had a close relative with breast cancer in both breasts and women whose family has a history of both breast and ovarian cancer. If your mother had breast cancer, however, it does not necessarily mean that you will develop the disease.

If you are concerned that the disease may run in your family visit your GP. If he or she believes there is cause for concern you may be referred for a special test which can identify if you carry the faulty gene linked to the illness.

Watch your alcohol intake:

Alcohol has been linked to breast cancer in a number of studies. Researchers believe this may be due to the fact that alcohol increases oestrogen levels. But experts disagree about how much alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
Some say that even moderate amounts are unsafe, while others claim that drinking up to 14 units a week - more than two bottles of wine - might even improve your chances of avoiding the disease. Until more research is done, doctors generally claim that drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week (14 small glasses of wine) over a long period of time can damage your overall health.

Watch your weight:

Obesity appears to increase the risk of breast cancer. Researchers found that women who gained 44 to 55 pounds after the age of 18 had 40 per cent higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who fluctuated by only four or five pounds throughout their adult life. Animal studies have shown that reducing calorie intake by 30 per cent can lead to a 80 - 90 per cent reduction in the risk of breast tumours.

Exercise regularly:

Some studies suggest that exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer. This is because research indicates that the less you exercise, the higher the levels of oestrogen in the body. Half an hour of exercise three times a week is good for all round health, may decrease your risk of breast cancer and will also help you maintain your weight.

Eat less fat:

There is much debate about the link between breast cancer and diet. But there is evidence that certain western lifestyle factors - particularly our high fat diet - appear to increase the risk of the disease. For example, scientists found that although Japanese women have a much lower risk of developing breast cancer than women in the West, when they moved to the USA the women's risk was almost equal within two generations. Try to eat no more than 70g of fat a day.

If you are over 50 go for regular breast screening:

Although much more research is needed to determine the causes of breast cancer one of the well-established key risk factors is age. Eighty per cent of breast cancer cases occur in women over 50. All women in Britain are entitled to free breast screening - an X ray that can determine lumps in the breast - between the ages of 50 and 64. The scheme is set to be extended to women up to the age of 70 within the next two years.

The Government has published figures that showed the scheme is saving many hundreds of lives. In fact, by 2004 there will be 20 per cent fewer cancer-related deaths among older women because of the screening. Currently women of the target age will receive a letter inviting them to be screened every three years.

Learn to relax:

It's well documented that stress can cause all kinds of health problems. But a British survey in 1995 concluded that women who reported severe stress in the previous five years were 50 per cent more likely to have breast cancer. Although there is still some debate over these findings reducing your stress levels will undoubtedly be beneficial for your overall health.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Out of Africa: Kunle Afolayan bids to bring Nollywood cinema to the world

Hailed as the 'Martin Scorsese of Lagos', Afolayan is finding new ways to take his films beyond Nigerian borders – screening his latest, Phone Swap, at the Film Africa festival in London.

They're calling you "the Scorsese of Lagos" – no pressure then. That's what the New York Times recently headlined its piece, and Kunle Afolayan's ambitions to shake up the industry now known (more great expectations) as Nollywood. With three films under his belt since he started directing in 2005 – which, by frantic west-African standards, makes him more the Kubrick of Lagos – the 38-year-old has become a byword for elevated quality: shooting on 35mm, releasing in cinemas, trying to improve on horribly stilted Nollywood formulas that seem to place more emphasis on gaudy soft furnishings than on dialogue and camerawork.

Actually, Afolayan would prefer it if you called him the Mel Gibson of Lagos. "I always show Apocalypto to my crew, because of the language thing. I say to them: 'You don't necessarily have to shoot your film in English for it to be good. You can do Swahili, you can do any language, you can even do no language at all.'" Gibson's not an obvious renaissance-man idol – but crossing boundaries, having international aspirations, is the path forward for Afolayan and what is becoming known as the New Nollywood. The old Nollywood had no time for film festivals. When I speak to the director, he's just touched down in Amsterdam for the Africa in the Picture jamboree, where he is shopping his comedy drama Phone Swap. Next up is London, for the Film Africa festival.

"I'm not saying it's the perfect film. I'm not saying it's the best thing that's ever happened to Nollywood. But it's totally different to what everyone else has done," Afolayan says of Phone Swap. It goes without saying that it's shot on film – a must for any hope of international distribution. And it has what sounds like the sort of sparky commercial premise that will give it high-concept traction beyond Nigerian borders: a country girl and a Lagos businessman fall in love in absentia after they pick up each other's BlackBerrys at the airport. Afolayan says he tried to steer clear of the overripe visual humour and slapstick that has dogged traditional Nollywood comedy.

Phone Swap is a departure for Afolayan, as well as the industry. His first two movies, Irapada (Redemption) and Araromire (The Figurine), were self-originated stories rooted in juju, the supernatural folklore tales Naija audiences never tire of. But he had to pitch for Phone Swap at an advertising agency, who were taking proposals on behalf of Samsung, who saw a branded Nigerian feature as a piece of potentially hot marketing in the last half of the noughties, when Nollywood was really hitting the global consciousness. Samsung later dropped out, but Afolayan, who won the pitch, went ahead with other corporate sponsors, most importantly BlackBerry. His various "partners" provided about 40% of the $500,000 budget; the rest came from his bank loans and his own pocket.

Afolayan has few of the artistic hangups about taking corporate money that exist in the west – which isn't surprising when money is so difficult to raise and to recoup. New Nollywood budgets, driven by well-to-do production values, are beginning to creep beyond $500,000, but the lack of cinema screens in Nigeria (there are currently 10 mainstream cinemas) makes good returns far from certain. The Figurine only took about two-thirds of its budget back. Mahmood Ali-Balogun's recent marital drama Tango with Me, also earmarked as a possible international breakout, failed to break even too. In fact, it's rare for any local film to take more than $200,000, according a report compiled for Unesco by Nollywood expert Rob Aft.

There's an ingrained perception in Nigeria that anything other than the traditional Nollywood model – no-frills budgets between $15,000 and $75,000, and a smash-and-grab 14-day distribution window on VCD – is doomed to failure. That conservatism, most entrenched in the producing guilds who form Nollywood's power base, is what Afolayan is aiming to overcome. Ten more cinemas are on the way, and he thinks that will be enough to make New Nollywood-level budgets viable. "I'd say we are pretty close. Even if your budget is $1m, you should be able to recoup it in the country. Because we have a huge market, and they know what they want, and when they see it, they go for it."

He reckons The Figurine – which has some bursts of cinematic flair that suggest its director may indeed have been scrutinising Mel of the Jungle – made other producers take notice. Evidence suggests that Nollywood's turnover has dropped by at least 50% over the last couple of years – perhaps a sign that the days of profligate output are ending. Phone Swap, released in Nigeria in March, has made 80% of its costs back, with DVD and foreign releases still to come; another message to Nollywood that quality pays.

Afolayan's reforms are motivated by childhood memories of a golden age: he is the seventh of the 25 children of Adeyemi "Love" Afolayan, a postwar theatre and cinema impresario who had 10 wives and died in 1996. Afolayan Jr grew up accompanying his father on "carnivalesque" 1970s film shoots that often featured thousands of extras and lasted two or three months. "I grew up seeing how film was properly done," he says. "I had no idea what film-making was all about, but I saw the commitment from actors, I saw the commitment from crew." But the infant Nigerian film industry collapsed due to the lack of a feasible economic model, and didn't recover until the mid-1990s, when cheap video technology gave rise to Nollywood.

The director trained as a banker, but got into the film business in 2005, initially as an actor. Amid the Nollywood mania, resisting the urge to direct wasn't easy. "I wanted to stop complaining about what people did: let me see what I can make out of it. What you can do to start out is to capitalise on what people are not doing right. No matter how little it is, even it's just one step ahead."

Nollywood could be about to take a giant step ahead, thanks to that recollection of the glory days. Afolayan is aiming to shoot October 1st, a serial killer movie set in 1960 against the backdrop of Nigerian independence, in February, but he is trying to secure a foreign co-producer outside the country first, to better his international chances. "It is difficult to get a mainstream distribution deal, no matter how fantastic your film is, because it's a cartel, it's a clique," he says, "If you don't belong, it's tough."

His battle to set an economic precedent for Nollywood phase II could be as important as anything he puts up on the screen itself – and with his background in finance, he's well placed to achieve his goal. Werner Herzog once said that the ecstatic truth – the poet's kind – trumps the accountant's truth. But just try running an industry on ecstasy alone.

• Phone Swap is showing at Film Africa on 10 November.


NMA (Nigerians Misbehaving Abroad)

So China gets into the news, and it's for Amy Chua and Wendi Deng. Tiger Mom and Tiger Wife respectively. Chua is the Yale Law School professor whose January 2011 memoir, 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother', about "the rewards – and the costs – of raising her children the strict 'Chinese' way" earned her a Time Magazine cover story.

Wendi Deng needs no introduction. It used to be that behind every successful man, was a woman. Deng, Rupert Murdoch's wife cum bodyguard, has upturned that nonsense. Beside the successful mogul, lurks an up-jumping, pie-catching, slap-issuing woman.

The Chinese should be proud. So now, not only does the United States owe them tonnes of money, the Amy Chuas and Wendi Dengs are there to remind the world that no one messes with China.

Nigeria, on the other hand, has had two women in the international news – admittedly not on the same level as the Chinese women, thankfully – in recent weeks. First up is Bimbo Ayelabola, who went (on a visitor's visa) and had quintuplets in London, costing the Brits an estimated £200,000. (She reportedly overdosed on fertility drug Clomid, most likely acquired over-the-counter in Lagos, became pregnant, and then travelled to the UK, ostensibly to visit relatives). Understandably, the British are angry. In an age of cuts and squeezes, an immigrant comes in from Africa and gives birth to not one, not two, but five babies, without paying a cent.

Second Nigerian woman I shall be summoning is Pamela Izevbekhai, who was deported from Ireland last week, after fighting unsuccessfully for years to claim asylum. She claimed her two daughters would be forcefully circumcised in Nigeria, if they returned. Okay, let's face it, circumcision, or female genital mutilation, is a serious problem in many parts of Nigeria. But how much of a problem is it when you're comfortably middle-class (as the European Court of Human Rights discovered regarding the Izevbekhais)? This lady actually claimed that she'd lost her first daughter to female genital mutilation in Lagos, in 1994, only for the court to discover that all the documents she presented as evidence were fake/forged, and that her story would have been more at home in a bestselling novel. So, they have sent her home. But think of the irrevocable damage done to Nigeria's reputation, with all her lying.

Okay, maybe it's neither fair nor sensible for me to juxtapose Ayelabola and Izevbekhai with Chua and Deng. The Chinese must definitely have their own disgraceful versions, just as Nigeria has its high-achieving, no-nonsense women doing us proud abroad. But I am angry, and when I am angry I reserve the right to resort to a melodramatic juxtaposition of situations and events.

Now, the question: How much longer shall we continue to tolerate Nigerians Misbehaving Abroad (NMA)?

Now, you and I know that Nigerians like, no, love, to misbehave. Before you accuse me of generalising, I think I should say that human beings generally will tend to misbehave. It is in the human nature to test boundaries, and seek to discover the limits of acceptable or permissible behaviour. Laws exist, or are supposed to, to counter this tendency. You push yourself against them, they respond, firmly.

But we belong to a country where lawlessness is encouraged. It will get you ahead faster. It will not stand in the way of your progress. And after some time one gets used to it. We misbehave, therefore we are. We turn law-breaking into a national culture. We clone ghost workers with scientific aplomb; forge and alter birth and educational certificates as a rite of passage. It is who we are. The laws that should deter broke down long ago. We live in a jungle.

And we have grown accustomed to it. I'm tempted to say I have no problems with that, since it seems it's the path we have willfully chosen as a nation. What I however do not appreciate, and will not tolerate, is this: trying to export these bad habits. So used to our lawlessness are we that we forget that things are different in many other countries. The laws there may not stop you from misbehaving, but if – more like when – you are caught, you will, as the Yoruba saying goes, eat your pounded yam raw.

It is an ordeal to fly internationally with Nigerians, with our penchant for airport/airplane cabin unruliness – deliberately exceeding luggage limits, speaking rudely to cabin crew, ordering economy class wine with the entitlement mentality of first class passengers. Then Olwaseun Noibi comes along and ups the ante, jetting around the United States on expired boarding passes, none of which belong to him.

Let's not even mention 419 and Nigerian letters. We all know that what annoys the rest of the world the most is probably the fact that Nigeria as a country almost never takes any drastic steps to deter its citizens from criminality. Ask yourself this: compared to the number of culprits, how many people have ever been convicted and jailed for 419 in Nigeria?

To worsen matters, foreigners have realised that they can do in Nigeria stuff they won't dream of doing in their home countries. In April, just outside the Murtala Mohammed Domestic Airport, I watched a white man step out of the front passenger seat of the car behind me (it was about 9pm, and there was a bad traffic jam), stride over to the median, and begin to piss.

My advice is this: let us continue to celebrate the criminals amongst us. Let's shower them with chieftaincy titles, encourage them to pay their tithes, support their ascension to public office. We're Nigerians, after all. But in the name of God, the Almighty God in whose honour we block roads and dress gaily and cause noise pollution, let us refrain from taking our bad habits abroad.

There should be a constitutional amendment automatically withdrawing Nigerian citizenship from anyone caught misbehaving abroad. The Ayelabolas and Izevbekhais and Noibis of Nigeria should henceforth be encouraged to restrict their scheming ways to their motherland. Henceforth, wrongdoing by Nigerians should be tolerated only within the borders of Nigeria.

National Assembly, over to you!

This article was first published on on 27 July, 2011


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sad Story: How Nigerian Man used Witchcraft to Terrify & Traffick Teenagers into Sex Slavery in UK

Whenever we hear stories of young girls being forced into sex slavery and prostitution, it always leaves us feeling really sad. The story of a 42 year-old Nigerian man who used witchcraft rituals to force terrified teenagers to work as sex slaves in the UK is no different.

Osezua Osolase was on the surface, a recycling worker living in a terraced house in Gravesend, Kent. But he was in fact the British linchpin of a multi-million pound global child sex trafficking ring that used medieval 'juju' black magic to control its victims.

In 2007, he was deported back to Nigeria after police caught him trying to use stolen credit cards. But he simply married a mysterious German woman and returned to the country the following year with a five-year visa. He used his home as a secret staging post for vulnerable teenage orphans as they were smuggled from Africa to several European countries.

Detectives discovered evidence that at least 28 victims were smuggled in and out of Britain by Osolase over a 14-month period, earning him up to £1.5million.

In a chilling report by Daily Mail UK, the way the young victims aged 14, 16 and 17 were raped, sexually abused and subjected to voodoo-style rituals once in the clutches of the trafficking ring was highlighted.

One was raped and all three endured juju rituals, including one conducted by Osolase himself. One feared she was being taken to another country to be used as a human sacrifice. A jury was told Osolase slashed the chest of his youngest victim with a razor and rubbed black powder into her bleeding wounds. She was ordered to take an oath of loyalty to him and believed that if she broke it she would not have children, go mad and die.

Osolase groomed her after the death of her parents by visiting her village with presents and saying she would go to school in Europe. But he abducted her and said she should prepare for life as a prostitute in Italy where she would be raped by 'white men who smoked drugs'.

The other two girls were terrorised by a local witchdoctor in Nigeria shortly before being flown out of the country with promises of an education and modelling work.

The 16-year-old told police she was taken to a 'place of witchcraft' where she was told to bathe in a 'bloody gunk' and wrap blood-soaked cloth around her. As Osolase watched, a man wearing feathers on his head cut hair from her armpits, cut some of her finger and toenails and took blood from her hand with a syringe. She was told that the body parts taken in the ritual would be used to find and kill her if she tried to run away or failed to repay her captor.

The 17-year-old wept as she described how she was tricked into travelling to Britain with the promise that she would go to school. She was made to drink a potion laced with blood.

At the Canterbury Crown Court, Dr Hermoine Harris, an expert in Nigerian religions, told the jury the juju rituals carried huge weight in Nigerian society. "By taking someone's blood you hold and control somebody's very essence and their power." 

Osolase was convicted of five counts of human trafficking, rape and sexual activity with a child and would be sentenced on Monday.

It is such a huge relief that these girls have been released from the clutch of their captor. After their scary experience, we pray they find healing and restoration and we wish them the very best in life.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nigerian Stowaway Dies in Arik’s Undercarriage

The dead body of a young Nigerian man was discovered Friday in the wheel well, the undercarriage compartment of an Arik Air aircraft, after it returned from a flight to New York, United States.

One of the airline's officials who spoke to THISDAY said the deceased might have hidden himself in the wheel well for days and was crushed to death while the flight was airborne to the JF Kennedy Airport, New York, from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

The official who spoke to THISDAY said the dead body was found during a check on the aircraft panel as it was being prepared for another flight and that the undercarriage compartment of the Airbus A340-500 is big enough to accommodate a person, besides the space for the tyres.

"He probably might have hidden himself there some days and died while the aircraft was on its way to New York. We found him when we were doing checks on the panel; the aircraft probably came back with him dead," the official said.

The source said that it is out of ignorance that people hide in the wheel well and plan to stowaway because "the compartment is not pressurised like the cabin of an aircraft and it is not heated, so survival is rare even if the person is not crushed by the wheels."

Pilots and aeronautical engineers familiar with the wheel well compartment said it is roomy enough to contain a human being, but it is highly unlikely that any one who hid there would come out alive after a flight that took several hours due to lack of oxygen.

The official attributed the incident to porous security at the airport, noting that "if having access to the airside is stringently prohibited, anybody that is not an official of airlines, handling companies and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria would not gain access to the tarmac."

Another source said: "The security at the airport is very bad and that explains why somebody can gain access to the airside and inside the aircraft and no one will know.

Security around the cargo area is even worse and from there anybody can take anything into the tarmac. Now, it is a human being that is smuggled in; one day a dangerous object will be smuggled in."

THISDAY investigations revealed that stowaways connive with ground handling companies to access the airside and the wheel well.

"The handling company workers and the security operatives indulge in a lot of illicit activities at the airport and over the years there have been efforts to put a check on such excesses but every effort has so far failed," said another source.

In March 2010, a Nigerian, Okechukwu Okeke was found dead in the nose wheel compartment of the United States carrier, Delta Airline, Boeing B777 aircraft parked on the tarmac of the Lagos airport.

Friday, October 26, 2012

House rents, transport fares and the meaning of despairBy: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai

Just when you think President Goodluck Jonathan should have finished settling his political debts to enable him focus on easing the hardships that most Nigerians face simply to remain alive, the man decides that the welfare of Nigerians and job creation are not his priorities. How else can one explain his plan to spend a staggering N2.4 trillion to run government in 2013? Actually, the question should be: Which government?

Broadly speaking, the major functions of government include protecting the state from external aggression, provision of stable legal and social frameworks, delivery of public goods and services, redistributing incomes where needed and stabilizing the economy. Going by that definition, one can safely conclude that Nigeria has no government, despite planning to spend an outrageous N2.4 trillion – the equivalent of some $15bn on itself next year. This is against the backdrop that this year's budget has barely achieved 30% implementation. In essence, Nigeria is spending 70% of its income on about one million government officials that can only achieve 30% of annually-set budgetary targets.

The absence of social infrastructure is particularly glaring, since this is an aspect that can help create part of the three million new jobs that Nigeria needs annually just to clear the backlog of the rising unemployment. And nowhere is the absence of government more manifest than in the provision of public goods and services, especially in housing and transportation. Thus, even with the new minimum wage, house rents and transportation costs consume about 80 per cent or more of average household incomes in Nigeria.

Across Nigeria, the massive shortage of housing and transport infrastructure mean that in addition to rising food costs (which our government has denied), many Nigerian families spend most of their income on accommodation and transportation. What would be left for other essentials of life? What about healthcare, education, clothing and other basic essentials? It is no wonder that Nigeria remains in the list of top 15 places with the highest incidence of poverty, with over 112 million out of our 162 million people living below the absolute poverty threshold in 2011. It is sad that one of the top crude oil and gas exporters is now ranked the 25th poorest country in the world.

Incidentally, there is nothing new about these figures. What is painfully obvious is that government does not have the right statistics of housing deficits in Nigeria, nor a workable transport sector development strategy under implementation. For example, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, recently said the Federal Government would require more than N56 trillion to provide 16 million housing units to bridge the housing deficit in the country. However, assuming that each household has an average of 6 residents, it means that 96 million Nigerians are homeless. That does not sound intuitively accurate.

Another related agency, the Federal Housing Authority of Nigeria (FHA) which has the statutory responsibility of providing housing for Nigerians has only built about 40, 000 houses nationwide since its inception in 1973. This, according to the FHA, has resulted in a deficit of about 25 million houses in the national housing scheme, suggesting that about 150 million Nigerians out of about 162 million in 2011, are homeless – even more far-fetched!. Which figures do we work with, 16 or 25 million? The figures do not add up!

In order to facilitate the sales of federal government houses in Abuja, we initiated a pilot mortgage which enabled many public servants and other citizens to buy houses. Unfortunately, the plan to mainstream the system nationally was truncated by our successors-in-office. This is why today, the only hope honest Nigerians have of owning homes is through the traditional and tortuous method – self-purchase and direct labour from life savings which is herculean since only a few people can own houses through legitimate sources. Now that this year's flooding has destroyed thousands of homes across Nigeria, more Nigerians have been made homeless.

Apart from the massive housing deficits and the exorbitant rents Nigerians are forced to pay, rising costs of transportation occasioned by abysmal infrastructure in the sector is also consuming significant portion of household and personal incomes in the country.

Transportation is critical for economic growth in every country, but due to our poor transportation infrastructure, logistic costs for our goods and services are now typically more than 20 per cent of sales from the global average of 2 per cent. In Nigeria, transport costs alone can be as high as 15 per cent of the costs of goods or services.
Statistics indicate that for many growing economies, the value added by transportation to the economy accounts for 3 to 8 per cent of GDP while employment in transport sector ranges between 2.5 and 11.5 per cent of total paid employment. But in this year's budget, government earmarked only 6 per cent to the Works, Transport and Aviation ministries combined, without any clear policy to get the private sector incentivized to invest more in the sector. For a struggling economy like Nigeria, intensified investment in transport will not only increase disposable incomes for millions of Nigerians, but also create millions of jobs and stimulate critical sectors of the economy.

In addition, an effective transportation system can have direct and significant effect on the daily lives of our people. Properly targeted and managed investments in transport facilities will mean efficient travel that could save time, fuel and reduce pollution. Lives will be saved and there will be fewer delays and hassles for the average Nigerian.

Efficient highways, rail systems, airlines, airports, harbours, and waterways will not only provide the backbone to grow our economy by moving people and goods around seamlessly, cheaply and safely, it can also employ millions of workers to generate substantial share of economic output in the country. If well exploited, transportation can actually contribute in excess of 10 per cent of our total domestic product annually.

Most Nigerians travel by road because we do not have a functional railway system and air travel is beyond the reach of most (though the fear of our skies has also driven more people back to our death traps on the ground). This has further compounded an already appalling situation. The state of our roads is distressing because of the level of deterioration, volume of traffic and the countless number of fatalities every day. At the moment, only about 15% of our roads are paved and of this, only about 28% can be easily used by motorists.

The excessive number of federal roads which have overstretched available resources and project management capacity of the government are largely responsible for their long construction periods and poor maintenance of existing roads. Yet every Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council awards more roads contracts that cannot be completed, while the legislature introduces more and more federal roads as 'constituency projects'.

There is certainly the compelling need to rehabilitate our road networks and invest in road widening schemes to increase capacity through increased total lane length. Compared to the Republic of South Africa which has a population density of about 40 persons per square kilometre, with a total road network of about 754,000 kilometres that are well maintained, Nigeria with a population density of about 150 per square kilometre has only 108,000 kilometres of poorly maintained roads, most of which are unpaved. This year's flooding has washed away important roads, including major arteries, leaving tens of thousands of travellers stranded and communities disconnected.

Why is it that despite having about 8,600km of waterways, Nigeria has been unable to put them to meaningful use? It is worth stating that effective inland water transportation has the potential to make commerce more competitive and our economy more vibrant.

Well structured, the aviation sector can be a key growth engine for our economy. An efficient and modernized aviation sector, with regulations and incentives for the private sector to thrive can make air travel an essential form of transportation, create jobs and economic growth. Nigeria needs to leverage on transport infrastructure development urgently to eliminate the avoidable logistic costs that are up to 50 per cent higher than what is normal for operations in all spheres of our economy. Such a programme would create millions of jobs and open up the entire country to rapid economic and social development.

Government must live up to its responsibility of developing and implementing policies that would strengthen primary mortgage institutions while simultaneously embarking on social housing projects across the length and breadth of Nigeria. It must also invest heavily in public transportation systems like roads, railways, aviation and inland waterways systems. That way, apart from providing urgently needed social infrastructure, the processes involved would create millions of jobs in Nigeria, promote house ownership for families and facilitate the emergence of a middle class which would in turn form the basis of economic development, security and political stability.

Why is government yet to find creative solutions to develop this vital economic artery? Why can't we find ways to innovatively leverage the three trillion naira pension funds sitting quietly in banks, the sovereign wealth fund and whatever is left of the depleted excess crude account to address these critical infrastructure deficits?.

For now, it remains a tale of despair for majority of Nigerians who go to bed thinking of landlords, estate agents and house rents, with the voice of rickety bus conductors still ringing in their ears, "no change!" Paradoxically, what most Nigerians want and deserve is just that: Change.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stevie Wonder Headlines UN Day Concert

In celebration of the 67th founding of the United Nations, Stevie Wonder will perform and artistically direct this year's United Nations Day Concert. The icon is a member of the UN's Messenger of Peace program and has lent his star power to numerous humanitarian initiatives affecting the lives of individuals around the world.

With songs of love, hope and peace, Wonder will be joined by some of his powerhouse colleagues on stage, including Alicia Keys, Keyshia Cole, BeBe Winans, Marvin Winans, Valerie Simpson, Sting and Paul Simon. The concert's theme will be "a message of peace" and will call on others to think about their humanitarian work. 

Dangote, Elumelu nominated for Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2012  

Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, and 3 other Africans have been nominated for the 2012 Forbes Africa Person of the Year award. The other three nominees are: Joyce Banda, President of Malawi. Dr. James Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, Equity Bank Limited, Kenya, and Stephen Saad, Co-founder, Aspen Pharmacare.

Forbes Africa said the Person of the Year award would go to the person who has had the most influence on events in 2012.


Even though he's scored just one goal throughout his over 250 games for Chelsea, the club is looking to offer Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel a new five-year contract.

It is worthy of note that 25 year-old Mikel who's in the seventh season and final 12 months of his current contract has won trophies including the Premier League, four FA Cups, the League Cup and the Champions League.

While speaking to ESPN, his agent, John Shittu claims he's likely to pen a new contract "Mikel will soon sign a new five-year contract with an improved salary and we are just about finalising the details of it.
Mikel is one of Chelsea's most consistent performers and the club agrees with us he deserves a new and improved contract.
He has a year left and Chelsea have decided to add four more years to it."


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WE NEED MORE MONEY: Goodluck Jonathan says inadequate finance is impeding Nigeria’s economic growth

Lack of access to finance and inadequate electricity supply are among the major impediments to the country's economic growth, President Goodluck Jonathan has said.

Jonathan said this in a speech at the inauguration of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in Abuja on Tuesday.

Jonathan, who was represented at the event by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, said the Federal Government was not happy that the N30bn security fund for agriculture had not achieved its desired objective.

He said, "This year, government provided security of N30bn to fund farms. That was not achieved. Government will continue to support the Central Bank of Nigeria's decisions that promote sustainable economic development. The private sector will not be able to perform its role if it lacks access to affordable financial services, which is what led to the launch of financial inclusion strategy today.

"Today, Nigeria stands as the least producer per capita and this has to change. The private sector, particularly SMEs, is the engine of economic development. This is why government is focusing on the enabling environment for private enterprises to thrive."

The President said through the financial inclusion programme initiated by the CBN, the government would address the problem of lack of access to finance, while other steps were being taken to address the issue of inadequate power supply.

These include the constructing of 10 new power plants, 90 per cent of which are completed and will add 5,000 megawatts to the national grid.

Jonathan said the Federal Government was constructing about 4,000 kilometres of transmission lines consisting of 330 and 120 lines with associated substations, expanding existing substations and transmission lines, and constructing hundreds of substations in all cities across the country.

The President had similarly said small and medium enterprises remained the major vehicle to create employment in an increasingly industrial world.

Jonathan spoke while receiving the United Nations Special Envoy for Financial Inclusion, Princess Maxima of Netherlands, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said financial inclusion was necessary if all citizens would directly feel the impact of growth in the economy.

via Punch

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Does a Crashed Airline Win Airline of the Year?? Dana Air and Musings from my Country

Despite a plane crash that claimed the lives of 153 people some months ago and the fact that families of victims of the crash might find it offensive, 

Dana Airline has been named the best domestic carrier for 2011 by the 

Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria(FAAN).

Over the weekend, FAAN's Regional General Manager, Mr. Chris Bature, said the airline was awarded the prize for its good customer relations and prompt payment of dues. He also added that the airline was selected because of its outstanding performance.

Reacting to a question on the timing of the award which is coming four months after the June 3rd Dana Air crash, Mr Bature explained that the award would have taken place earlier in the year and that the reward came after the operator's license had been restored.

In all fairness, they did their best and we need to recognize that and encourage them to get back to their feet," he added.

My Take:

I can still remember how I cried with the report of Memunat and her entire family who were aboard the ill fated flight while holidaying in Nigeria from Houston where she was based. 

Asides from Memunat, the poor families on the streets that the plane crashed into and murdered... those that lost their homes, their certificates and many more are still countless.

IT IS TOO SOON!! The families and Nigerians still have it fresh in their memory that this airline recently crashed. More importantly, no conclusive investigative reports were submitted to clear more air on the causes of the crash with the aviation minister, Stella Oduah, giving flimsy exucuses like destruction of the information in the black box or something in a much more silly deduction.

The Airline is already planning to resume operations soon and has commenced demonstration flights as stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Although this award was presented based on the Airline's performance in 2011, I think this award is insensitive coming at a time when the pain and loss from the crash is still fresh.

Musings from my country Nigeria? I'm definitely not laughing... Maybe the world is at Nigeria's comic and irresponsible government... #sigh

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nigeria Customs and Airport Bribery

It is illegal to take or pay a bribe under the constitution of Nigeria however no thanks to the Nigerian Customs Service who search through our baggages when enroute our various travel destination, 90 percent of Nigerian travellers on International routes pay a bribe.

"Oga wetin dey dere, shey na dried fish?" the customs guy asks me on a recent trip abroad.. Nigerians love their local meals and they are quite pricey in the African shops in the Houston market or various city centres accross europe so we usually love to buy a reasonable amount and take along when travellig and this man was about to crank my style.

My first trip abroad as a British Council scholar, my dad shoved his hands in my face as the activist in me was about to throw a protest party when they requested "something for them" becauase of this same food issue.

This time, I was going to speak english.. and when I did i saw the way people were discouraged to fight the systen. "Oga, your food has to go through quarantine"... Nice play... I calculated my flight time.. Check in time at tge quarantine zone and saw every move had been perfected to frustrate anyone who tried to fight the system.

After all my grammer "it pained me" that I had to settle with 500 naira.. Albeit palsy sum that the Customs "Oga" had opressed me into paying.

Maybe my love for stock fish and peppered soup, condiments which i had packed in my bags had betrayed my fighting spirit.

Well, he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. C'est la vie! Musings from my country Nigeria.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Musings from my country

Madam First Lady of the Fedral Republic of Nigeria is back from Germany where she was said to be undergoing treatment for an unnamed ailment.

I am glad she came back smiling and amidst lots of cheering. The only displeasing resolve is that nothing worthy of report was said to inform the citizenry of what had prompted the First Lady's trip.

The media frenzy allowed for many online speculation and unfounded reports to be released; with many print and online media basically "dashing" our dear Dame about five or more diseases.

My worries are that the First Lady might have been spending public funds unnecessarily on maybe a cosmetic surgery for all I care while the nation was as usual, put in the dark. 

You cannot spend public funds on private treatment of the First Lady without informing the stakeholders (in this case, the good people of Nigeria) of the way their hard earned funds are spent to say the least.

Welcome back anyway, but truly Nigeria is full of musings.

Monday, October 15, 2012

In Happy News That Made The Weekend Rock, Nigeria Beat Liberia 6 -1 To Qualify for AFCON

The Nigeria Super Eagles on 13th October, 2012 at the Calabar stadium beat Liberia 6-1 to qualify for its 17th appearance at the African Nations cup that comes up in South Africa in January 2013.. Goals from Victor Moses (2), Musa Ahmed, Mikel Obi (penalty), Ikechuckwu Uche helped set the record for Nigeria..The Liberian skipper was also sent off towards the end of the match after a second red card..

The first leg in Liberia ended 2-2..It will be recalled that the Eagles led then by Samson Siasia failed to qualify for the last edition after failing to beat Guinea in Nigeria..

Reports according to  says, " The Chief Justice of the Federation broke the Lagos State Traffic Law today by driving on the BRT lane. She was seen 'driving' against the law at 12:40 pm today and the case was reported live on Lagos traffic FM 96.1."

The fine for taking a BRT lane is N25, 000. Well, guilty until proven innocent. If she is found wanting, I feel she should be reprimanded with higher penalty because she is meant to uphold the laws.

Whats your take?

Say Cheese!

According to research, smiles and laughter add  a few years to your life span. A new week it is.. Yesterday started with the not-so-good reports of the murder of 22 people in a village in the state of Kaduna, a northern Nigerian city where recently there has been an insurgency of attacks on the good citizens by Boko Haram and other groups. A reason to smile? No!

We also learn from the news of the Taliban's threat to a fourteen year old girl in Pakistan who survived a gun shot to the head on first attack for her involvement in promoting the girl-child education in her small town. Malala would be a refugee in the United Kingdom.. as the UAE has volunteered in sponsoring her medic trip there. Terrorist groups versus fourteen year olds? sad!

It seems like everyday we read the news or watch TV or listen in on the radio, its one violent report or the other. We are no longer in shock about politicians living in excess wanton wastage while citizenry languish in abject poverty and hunger... Our mindsets have been re-tuned to accept the normalcy of the situation.

We do say "cheese" though.. with a lot at the back of those worrying minds. Cheer up people! Its another week of more disheartening reads (not a curse)... And do smile -reports say its an anti-aging solution.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Take on Chinua Achebe's "There was a country"

Mr. Chinua Achebe is no doubt a respected laureate of literature but that does not mean every educated person should play to his tunes when it comes to opinions.

I am not a historian and I was born in the eighties... way after the Nigerian civil war and I do not know much about the causes and reasons many lives went with the war as it will with any other war.

Anyhow, we must ask how Mr. Achebe's recent publication and controversial account of the civil war will affect positively the progress of Nigeria.

It is a fact that Mr. Achebe has not lived in Nigeria for years and has been a critique of the nation from afar. How can someone who doesn't know the "raw state" of the "common Nigerian" and who hasn't endured the pains of Nigeria's suffering dare to create a tribal war with his literature/book in a country already suffering from inter-tribal conflicts?

Everyone knows that the Yoruba people see Awolowo as a hero.. How dare he try to create a villain out of him? Implying he was responsible for the death of two million Igbo people.. 

How does his "expose" positively tend to help in the development of a Nigeria that we desperately pray for? Or is he in for the quick buck and cheap popularity that his caption seems to develop?

There was a country... But there still is a country. A Nigeria I believe in! 

Still struggling ... But a Nigeria where everything will work someday..

My advice to Chinua.. You may be living in the past gory tales et all.. But I live in the present Nigeria where my friends cut accross cultures and tribes. Trying to re-enact a past gory tale of Nigeria for popularity or commercial purpose is a big thumbs down.. Whether true or untrue.. His accounts in this book are not the needful... At least not at this point in Nigeria's development stage.

Instead of criticizing from afar...try to at least contribute your quota to Nigeria's development.... And that's my take.

Davido Acquires Cheverolet Camaro 2013 Edition

Well according to our verified sources, Davido has done it again. The Omo Baba Olowo crooner has acquired the latest edition of Cheverolet Camaro.. The 2013 Edition!! According to pricing on Chevrolet's website the ride goes for about 55,000 us dollars.. In Naira, we are talking about 8.8million naira using current CBN exchange values.. Lol... 

Enough reasons for the haters to shut up already!! Fab one!!

Writers Block versus Diplomatic Issues...

No my blog has not been put on hold because I am not able to siphon information from my various sources... No i've not decided to theme it around my interesting life also... 

I have been writing a book on my struggles... My fathers' struggles with cancer and how we are winning the fight. How prayers have put us through the complexities of life and how friends who shower me with love have helped me in my victory dance.

Yeah cancer!! 2yrs plus and its no tale from a movie line. Its been crazy as I have become so knowledgeable in the area than most students in medical school... No thanks to!

Well enough sobbing and more writing.. and living life! Its short as I have come to enjoy it and do not worry.

In other news.. I need to vent about the non-challant attitude of our elected officials in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.. Especially those in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Dear Gbenga Ashiru, Mr. foreign affairs minister. You are not doing your job.. All you do is bark and wimp away like a lost hurt puppy. Some weeks ago, you complained about the Canadian Deputy High Commission in Nigeria and delays in obtaining visas from the Canadian Embassy in Nigeria. Yes you complained and the Diplomatic Office promised to do something about it but have you followed up? Some weeks back over 300 Nigerian pilgrims to mecca were deported for travelling without male escorts which according to the Saudi Authorities is their policy... But what has been done to prevent further recurrence even... Or poor treatment of Nigerians about to be deported? 

On and on roll the cases... The poor treatment of Nigerians by South Africa in obtaining a South African visa ... and more sad, gory tales by legit Nigerian travellers as a result of their being identified as Nigerian.

I am bitter because I applied for a visa in an embassy that won't be named... For a study permit and I have been delayed for crazy months.. I understand that many false information are put in by misguided Nigerians (oluwole bank statements and more doctored documentation) and every country has its policies and a duty to protect its citizenry and borders but at the expense of the hardworking and legit Nigerian travellers? No way!!

Yes.. Call it another rant by a single blogger that doesnt have a chance at being heard by the men on top and in charge..  Call it whatever you may but please Mr. Gbenga Ashiru, Nigeria's Minister for foreign Affairs... With all due respect, do something ..anything at least.. Create a forum for Nigerian Travellers and their complaints to be heard.

We need to be treated right!! We need to improve on our diplomatic relations RIGHT NOW.

We are Nigerians... and we.. I in particular am proud of my identity... Proof by self learning the hausa and yoruba languages (didnt have to chirp that in.. but I did). Thank you for reading ... God bless Nigeria (waves the green white green flag).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Bit - I am Nigerian

So we have seen the videos... Most people have.. The gruesome murder and killing of the Uniport Students who were allegedly accused of stealing mobile phones. It saddens me that no matter how hard some of us work to rebrand our country in the right light, some crazy few tend to pull us into a deeper hell-hole.

Its practically two steps forward, ten back! For how long Nigeria? Some years not too long ago NYSC corps members posted to Bauchi to serve their country were gruesomely murdered. No convicts till date of the murderers... Some years earlier, it was a ten year old kid burned to death in public dismay after allegedly kidnapping a baby from a shop. Countless murders from Boko Haram killings, from poorly managed aircrafts.. From avoidable road accidents.

We have become so used to these deaths that kids can see corpses on the highways and yell "daddy, see dead bodi"... 

Are you sick to the stomach? I honestly am.. Whatever country we go, we are now identified as the Country where lives are lost in murders as though natural. Laughing stocks? I Wouldn't say that because I see nothing funny in deaths, sorrows, hunger, injustice, illiteracy.

Will you just read my bit and move on? Or would you re-echo in anyway your own bits? All words and no action? Maybe...but I have said my bit and will continue to re-echo my yearns for a better Nigeria because I am Nigerian!

Cee Lo Green: Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey Feud Is Bogus

The Voice star thinks drama is a ploy to boost ratings on American Idol.

Cee Lo Green
Everyone's talking about Nicki Minaj vs. Mariah Carey at American Idol, but is the backstage drama for real or something that's been drummed up to boost ratings? That's the question that was posed to competing reality singing competition judge Cee Lo Green yesterday, and the "Forget You" singer is just a little bit skeptical.

"This is Hollywood, California. Hardly anything's legit," Cee Lo said of the ongoing fracas when caught by TMZ. Yesterday, Mariah Carey called Barbara Walters of The View and said she had hired extra security after Nicki allegedly threatened to shoot her.

While all the extra attention to Idol surely won't harm ratings, Cee Lo said that he's not worried that the high drama will distract from his own show on NBC, The Voice.

"I'm not intimidated," he said. " I think it's entertainment for everybody."

The beginning of the end? Kanye West too embarrassed to take Kim Kardashian to Paris Fashion Week – Report

by Isi Esene
It appears Kanye West is still not confident with Kim Kardashian’s sense of style as reports say he has certified her unfit to attend the Paris Fashion Week. At the wake of their love affair, West tried to replace almost her entire wardrobe expressing his dissatisfaction with her collection.
The superstar rapper who struggles to give the impression of a quintessential style icon had himself often scored a fashion fail in some of his outings prompting experts to wonder why he’s bent on doing a Kim makeover.
The New York Daily News reports “exclusively” that West has been RSVP’ing for this week’s runway shows without a plus-one… and not telling Kim about it. A source tells the Daily News, “He didn’t think it was good for his reputation… [but] he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”
The daily newspaper says “he’s uncomfortable bringing her” and “wants to be taken seriously” by the glitterati in Paris. So no Fashion Week for Kim it appears.
The two have been inseparable since the start, this might just spell the beginning of the end for the power couple… if it turns out to be true.

Firestorm: Yoruba leaders blast Achebe for “attacking” Awolowo

It was bound to happen. You don’t speak ill of one of the greatest Yorubas of all time and not expect a backlash. Not even if you are a legendary world icon like Prof. Chinua Achebe.
The literary giant recently released his civil war memoir titled There was a Country last week, in which he asserted that war-time Head of State General Yakubu Gowon and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo both formulated policies that promoted genocide against the Igbo nation.
Achebe wrote in the book that: “Almost 30 years before Rwanda, before Darfur, more than 2 million people- mothers, children, babies, civilians-lost their lives as a result of the blatantly callous and unnecessary policies enacted by the leaders of the federal government of Nigeria.”
He said: “Throughout the conflict, the Biafrans consistently charged that the Nigerians had a design to exterminate the Igbo people from the face of the earth. This calculation, the Biafrans insisted, was predicated on a holy jihad proclaimed by mainly Islamic extremists in the Nigerian Army and supported by the policies of economic blockade that prevented shipments of humanitarian aid, food and supplies to the needy in Biafra .”
Then the part of the book which has riled lots of Yorubas. Speaking about Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was the vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council and minister of Defence, Achebe said: “The wartime cabinet of General Gowon, the military ruler, it should also be remembered, was full of intellectuals, like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, among others, who came up with a boatload of infamous and regrettable policies. A statement credited to Awolowo and echoed by his cohorts is the most callous and unfortunate: all is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war. I don’t see why we should feed our enemies fat in order for them to fight harder’.
“It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose with the Nigeria-Biafra war, his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case, it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.”
As expected, some eminent Yorubas have been reacting to Achebe’s claims. According to reports on this and you can read excerpts of that report below:
Mr. Ayo Opadokun who was Assistant Director of Organisation of the late Chief Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and later Secretary of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), described the Achebe assertion as “typical”.
“It is a reharsh of the perverted intellectual laziness which he had exhibited in the past in matters related to Chief Obafemi Awolowo. When Achebe described Awo as a Yoruba irredentist, what he expected was that Awo should fold his arms to allow the Igbo race led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, to preside over the affairs of the Yoruba nation,” Opadokun said.
Opadokun pointed out that some of his colleagues who played prominent roles in liberating Nigeria from the clutches of military rule, such as Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd),  Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), Dr. Arthur Nwankwo, Alhaji Abulaziz Ude and others who he described as “men of honour and integrity”, are Igbo. But he found it difficult to believe that a scholar of Achebe’s stature could be so unforgiving.
He said, “Let our Igbo brothers be reminded that about three-quarters of their assets not in the eastern Region are in Lagos and we have been very liberal and accommodating. We have allowed them to live undisturbed.”
Senator Biyi Durojaiye shares Opadokun’s view. He said: “My view is that you don’t expect somebody on the receiving end of a war to say something pleasant about the winners.
“I don’t share Achebe’s view that Awolowo did all he did for personal political aggarandisement. It was all in the process of keeping Nigeria one. What he and General Gowon did was in the process of preserving the integrity of Nigeria .”
He urged the Igbo to be more charitable, seeing that both sides of the war are now benefiting from its outcome. He enjoined all to join hands in facing the challenges of the moment, insisting that the way to go is for all Nigerians to support a Sovereign National Conference and restructuring of the polity. Mr. Jacob Omosanya who participated actively in Action Group politics as a member of the Action Group Youth
Association AGYA), said Achebe and many of his kinsmen in public life are tribalistic and “that is what he has exhibited in this new book.”
“It is not new. He canvassed similar views in The Trouble with Nigeria. Dr. Azikiwe and his people should be grateful to the Yoruba who have always been liberal. When Zik was on his way back home from the United States, he ran into trouble in the Gold Coast. It was a team of lawyers led by the late H. O. Davies that saved him. This is a fact of history that should not be lost on the Igbo.”
Mr. Omosanya said he had expected that people intellectuals such as Achebe, would be bridge builders and avoid inflaming passions.

Protesters Force Labaran Maku To Abandon New York Independence Day Parade

Members of the New York-based Nigeria Liberty Democratic Forum (NLDF) earlier today staged a dramatic flash protest that forced Nigeria’s Minister of information, Labaran Maku, to abandon the annual New York City Independence Day parade. The parade is an annual event organized by the Nigerian government and some Nigerian organizations in the US.

The NLDF protesters were led by Bukola Oreofe, an official of the group. The protesters had joined the colorful parade from 51st Street and 2nd Avenue when word spread that Mr. Maku was the “Parade Marshal” and led a troupe of Nigerian diplomats who waved the Nigerian flag at different groups as they danced the Nigeria House on 44th Street.

The NDLF members staged their traditional protest march past the Nigerian government officials. Shortly after, the protesters penetrated the area where the Nigerian minister and other officials were and began a flash protest. The protesters sang protest songs against the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Facing the minister, they shouted, “Go Home!” They also accused Nigerian officials of corruption and insensitivity to the plight of the vast majority of Nigerians.

One of the protesters told a correspondent of SaharaReporters that Mr. Maku “should return to Nigeria and sympathize with millions of Nigerians who are currently besieged by a massive flood disaster that has affected 22 states.” So far, the floods have claimed the lives of 148 Nigerians.

Other protesters demanded that the minister help to fix Nigeria’s myriad problems to ensure that Nigerians can celebrate their Independence Day in public without fear of terrorist attacks.

As the protests became charged, the Nigerian officials called in police officers from the New York Police Department to drive the protesters away. However, the NYPD officials showed no inclination to force out the protesters. Instead, the officers stood guard around the protesters to forestall any breakdown of law and order.

Once it became clear to the Nigerian delegates that NYPD officers would not force the protesters to leave, Mr. Maku and the diplomats left the stage and hurriedly retired inside the Nigeria House. Their disappearance brought the parade to an abrupt end.

The jubilant protesters continued to sing protest songs and addressed onlookers about the deplorable condition of their country. They warned that more protests against Nigerian officials visiting the US would be planned and staged.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ashley Cole faces action from Chelsea and FA over rogue tweet

ashley cole
Ashley Cole faces disciplinary action for his tweet over the John Terry case despite apologising for it. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ashley Cole could face a double punishment for his splenetic reaction to the FA disciplinary panel's suggestion that he gave unreliable evidence in the John Terry racism case. Chelsea are launching an internal disciplinary procedure against the left-back. "We've got a social media policy at the club and there's going to be a disciplinary process – action – against the tweet," said the manager, Roberto Di Matteo, who added: "I'm not against social media but it has to be used with responsibility."
Chelsea refused to confirm the nature of any punishment but it could be a two-week fine, which would cost Cole in the region of £200,000. Di Matteo revealed he had discussed the matter with the 31-year-old, adding: "You would understand that's a private conservation."
The FA refused to comment on whether they would take action against Cole but their own guidelines are clear. A breach includes: "Comments which are improper, which bring the game into disrepute, which are threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting."

Nigerian police recover part of Sani Abacha's $4.3bn hoard from robbers

Jewellery worth 100 years' income for average Nigerian found after being stolen from one home of notorious dictator Abacha

General Sani Abacha
General Sani Abacha in 1998. 
After he died, his wife was caught trying to leave the country with 38 suitcases stuffed with cash.
Nigerian police have recovered a stash of gold and diamond jewellery worth thousands of pounds from robbers who targeted a home of the country's most notorious former dictator.
Officials in arid Kano, in northern Nigeria, said four men swiped $125,000 (£77,000) of jewellery last year – a staggering 20m naira in local currency, or 100 years' income for the average Nigerian – after raiding one of many sprawling, lavish homes of the former military ruler Sani Abacha.
"We are still investigating. Not all the stolen jewellery has even been recovered," said a Kano police inspector, Ibrahim Idris, as officials displayed a glittering pile that included two dozen gold necklaces and some 40 pairs of gold earrings.
The greed of Abacha, who ruled for five years after a 1993 coup, shocked even Nigerians used to plundering on a grand scale. He is believed to have stolen $4.3bn while in office. In one case, he was accused of gutting a $500m state-owned steel plant. The tradition has continued as Nigeria's oil wealth continues to be looted. In April, James Ibori, an influential governor, was jailed in the UK for looting $250m over eight years.
The Abacha family have largely lain low since the short, flamboyant general died of a heart attack while cavorting with Indian prostitutes. As his death sparked an outpouring of jubilation, his wife Maryam was caught trying to flee the country with 38 cash-stuffed suitcases. A $5m Peace Foundation set up by the family, intended to sell "Abacha-themed" televisions, sandals, rice and soap, later , went bust.
"That amount of money spent on jewellery is just confusing. What exactly was he doing to earn that kind of money? And how can anyone spend so much on jewellery?" asked Muhammadu Bello, a local trader whose annual income is about $1,200.
A push to recover $4bn squirrelled away into the family's private accounts in Switzerland forced the tax haven to relax banking secrecy regulations after landmark rulings. In 2006, the Swiss authorities returned $500m to Nigeria – the first time European banks had returned looted money to an African country.
Nigeria's anti-corruption agency estimates about $400bn has been siphoned off from the oil-rich country into private pockets since 1960. Globally, developing countries lose up to $40bn a year through corruption, according to the World Bank.

Barack Obama announces $181m in fundraising as fightback continues

Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia
Barack Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia. Photograph: Fang Zhe/Corbis

Barack Obama's hopes of re-election were boosted by $181m in September, as supporters contributed to the largest one-month fundraising total of the president's campaign to date.
Obama announced the figure in a tweet on Saturday morning, adding that more than 1.8 million people had donated, many for the first time in this or the last election cycle.
The news comes after a roller-coaster week for the president, who disappointed many with a lacklustre performance in the first presidential debate against Mitt Romney, before Friday brought encouraging news on the jobs front.
The figure for September donations to the Democrats and campaign groups loyal to Obama dwarfed that raised in August, by $67m. The Romney camp has yet to release its fund-raising total for the month.
In his tweet Obama said: "Some amazing news this morning: 1,825,813 people came together to raise $181 million for this campaign in September."
Of those who donated, more than 500,000 were new backers of the president, having not previously contributed to the 2008 or 2012 campaigns.
A breakdown of the figures also showed that 98% of supporters had contributed $250 of less – an indication that Democrats are relying less on one-off big money donations from the super rich than their Republican rivals.
The news comes as a boost to Obama as the election heads into its final month. It is also further indication of a creeping advantage in terms of advertising spend for the president over the coming weeks.
Figures from the Federal Election Commission revealed that in August, Obama pulled ahead in terms of monthly donations, with $114m compared to $111m for Romney. Greater spending earlier in the race has depleted the Republican candidate's war-chest, undermining claims that he had a cash advantage.
But those around Romney are expecting a spike in donations following what has been widely seen as a superior performance in the first presidential debate. Wednesday's head to head, which was broadcast to 67 million people, saw Romney's waning campaign seemingly brought back to life.
A CNN poll of registered voters showed 67% respondents agreeing that the Republican challenger had taken the debate, with just 25% giving it to Obama. The Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, described it as a "game-changing debate". Surveys since the debate suggest that it did result in a bump of support for Romney.
But the bounce may be short-lived. Republicans had only a day to celebrate before economic news allowed Obama to make the running again. Friday's monthly job figures showed that the US had added 114,000 new jobs in September, in line with expectation. But a dramatic upwards revision of the previous month's data, from 96,000 to 142,000 new jobs, saw the headline unemployment rate fall to 7.8%, from 8.1% – the first dip below 8% since Obama took office in January 2009.
Shrugging off the disappointment of the debate, on Friday the president issued a call for Americans to back his re-election bid. The job figures were "a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now", he told supporters while on the stump in Virginia.
Staying with the theme on Saturday, in his weekly radio address, Obama said the nation owed it to those still struggling to find work to back his plan for economic revival.
"We're made too much progress to return to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place," he said, in a swipe at the blueprint that has been laid out by Romney and his running-mate, Paul Ryan.
Romney is due to spend much of the weekend in Florida. On Friday evening, he tried to dismiss the positive job figures as he spoke to supporters in the state.
"By any rational measure, it is crystal clear we are in the middle of a jobs crisis," he said, adding: "And from day one of my presidency, I will lead us out of this crisis."

Chelsea joy and Norwich misery.. Watch Highlights Here

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Chelsea put their off-field troubles aside as they emphatically beat struggling Norwich to continue to set the Premier League pace.
John Terry and Ashley Cole started for the home side but they went behind when Grant Holt drove in a 15-yard shot.
Chelsea hit back with a Fernando Torres header and Frank Lampard drilled in an 18-yard shot to extend the Blues lead.
Terry and Cole focus pleases Di Matteo
Juan Mata set up Eden Hazard to slot in a third before Branislav Ivanovic powered in Chelsea's fourth.
The playmaking trio of Mata, Hazard and Oscar buzzed around with an incisiveness and invention that Norwich could not handle with the former particularly prominent.
Mata has four goals and five assists in the last five games and the stylish Spaniard was the main orchestrator as his side secured a sixth top-flight win in seven.
Norwich were left still searching for a first league victory of the season and manager Chris Hughton will be concerned at the leaking of 17 goals so far this campaign.
The victory for Chelsea will also be a relief for the Stamford Bridge side after the previous day's troubles.
The club had first learned of the Football Association's ruling that John Terry's evidence was "improbable, implausible and contrived" in the hearing over whether the defender racially abused QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
A tweet from Blues left-back Cole criticising the FA over comments about his role in the case caused more turmoil.

Norwich were playing on the counter-attack and had they had more of a cutting edge in the final third they might have caused Chelsea more concern.
Holt headed just wide from a Hoolahan cross in a promising chance for the visitors.
But Chelsea were in no mood to allow any sort of comeback and the manner with which they stroked the ball about with style and panache after their summer upheavals is a credit to the job Di Matteo is doing.
Ivanovic completed the victory with a drilled fourth, with Chelsea now holding a four-point lead at the Premier League summit.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo:
"We're pleased that we're going into this international break at the top of the Premier League.
"We have so many more games to play but we're in a good position and have a lot of confidence.
"As long as we don't have many injuries, we'll keep chipping away and try to win as many games and points as we can.
Defence not good enough - Hughton
"I still think Manchester City - if you look at their squad - and Manchester United will be up there."
Norwich boss Chris Hughton:
"I was probably more annoyed and disappointed at half-time than I was at the end of the game because, after taking the lead, we certainly needed to be in the game for longer.
"When you come here, particularly with the quality that they have got - the offensive quality they've got now - you know it's going to be a tough ask. But, when you score so early, you need to stay in the game longer.
"At the moment, as a team, we're not defending well enough."

Mikel Obi, John Utaka, Victor Moses short-listed for CAF African Footballer 2012

See the full list of African footballers nominated for CAF African Footballer of the Year 2012

1.Abdelaziz Barrada - Getafe (Spain) and Morocco
2.Adel Taarabt - Queens Park Rangers (England) and Morocco
3.Alain Sibiri Traore - Lorient (France) and Burkina Faso
4.Alexander Song - Barcelona (Spain) and Cameroon
5.Andre 'Dede' Ayew - Marseille (France) and Ghana
6.Arouna Kone - Wigan (England) and Ivory Coast
7.Aymen Abdennour - Toulouse (France) and Tunisia
8.Bakaye Traore - AC Milan (Italy) and Mali
9.Cheick Tiote - Newcastle United (England) and Ivory Coast
10.Christopher Katongo - Henan Construction (China) and Zambia
11.Demba Ba - Newcastle United (England) and Senegal
12.Didier Drogba - Shanghai Shenhua (China) and Ivory Coast
13.Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu - Udinese (Italy) and Ghana
14.Emmanuel Mayuka - Southampton (England) and Zambia
15.Foxi Kethevoama - FC Astana (Kazakhstan) and Central African Republic
16.Gervinho - Arsenal (England) and Ivory Coast
17.Hilaire Momi - Le Mans (France) and Central African Republic
18.John Obi Mikel - Chelsea (England) and Nigeria
19.John Utaka - Montpellier (France) and Nigeria
20.Kwadwo Asamoah - Juventus (Italy) and Ghana
21.Moussa Sow - Fenerbahce (Turkey) and Senegal
22.Nicolas N'koulou - Marseille (France) and Cameroon
23.Papiss Demba Cisse - Newcastle United (England) and Senegal
24.Pape Moussa Konate - FC Krasnodar (Russia) and Senegal
25.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - St Etienne (France) and Gabon
26.Rainford Kalaba - TP Mazembe (DR Congo) and Zambia
27.Seydou Doumbia - CSKA Moscow (Russia) and Ivory Coast
28.Seydou Keita - Dalian Aerbin (China) and Mali
29.Sofiane Feghouli - Valencia (Spain) and Algeria
30.Stoppila Sunzu - TP Mazembe (DR Congo) and Zambia
31.Victor Moses - Chelsea (England) and Nigeria
32.Yaya Toure - Manchester City (England) and Ivory Coast
33.Younes Belhanda - Montpellier (France) and Morocco
34.Youssef Msakni - Esperance (Tunisia) and Tunisia