Wednesday, October 31, 2007

News Desk Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nigeria navy in deadly oil clash

At least two people have been killed in a clash between the Nigerian navy and suspected militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, security sources say. MORE>>>

UPDATE 1-Shell says oil theft in Nigeria growing again

CAPE TOWN, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile , Research) said on Wednesday that crude oil theft at sites in Nigeria was rising, posing a problem for development and a safety risk for those engaging in the practice. MORE>>>

Road Safety Corps and Seat Belt Exploitation

Ever since the "Federal Road Safety Corps" was founded during Nigeria's military regime under General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in the late 1980s to date, the body which was meant to regulate the activities of road users has been left swinging in limbo and at the mercy of lack of clear-cut directions and responsibilities as far as control of driving vehicles is concerned. MORE>>>

Microsoft Contributes 47 Percent to Nigeria's IT and Economic Growth

THE International Data Corporation, (IDC) last week released details of a global research study showcasing the information technology (IT) industry's impact on "job creation, company formation, local IT spending and tax revenues" in 82 countries and regions worldwide. MORE>>>

Citizen Diplomacy And the Citizen

Since Chief Ojo Maduekwe intimated the public about the new focus and strategy of Nigeria's foreign policy under his watch, many commentators have set to town to either demolish or support this vision. MORE>>>

Nigeria: The Challenges Women Face in Politics

Women in Nigeria have suffered a lot of degradation, traditionally, politically and economically. In some areas, they are considered as second class citizens with no rights of their own other than what their husbands decide for them. In this write-up, Richard Alkali tries to synthesize the agonies encountered by women in their venture into politics. MORE>>>

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Images Of The Carnage Along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway


The above picture was captured by Emma Osodi for The News magazine. Ill-equipped fire fighters are on the scene where this oil tanker fell and jettisoned its contents on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on Sunday night, October 29, 2007.



About 7 vehicles burned beyond recognition of the carnage along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway burning more than 30 people to death.



Passersby and motorists who survived the carnage watch a dead body that had been burned beyond recognition on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.



Another gross scene of a burned body and razed vehicles captured by Emma Osodi of The News.

Ehirim Files Classic

WIC's Nashville Picnic: A Gathering Of Igbo Efulefu

by Ambrose Ehirim
Don't let the abbreviation fool you. It has nothing to do with Women, Infants, and Children, i.e., WIC - as in America's welfare program for indigent women and their infants. It has nothing to do with worthy Igbo causes either. It is like any other abbreviation with just a different meaning. It is worthless, WIC in this case is a crooked collective pretending to be doing something commendable and laudable for the Igbo nation. This piece is about this year’s fraudulent picnic of organized Igbo efulefu, the worthless and confused Diaspora bunch that calls itself “World Igbo Congress - WIC.”

As it happened, for months, pundits at Igbo fora, especially the notorious yahoo e-mail list, have been "eloquently" telling us about effecting change in the Igbo Nation with the dramatized so-called WIC Convention to be held in Nashville, Tennessee, over the Labor Day weekend. But I really do have a problem with the do-nothing yahoo.com “Igbo Forum,” which is being run as I write without memory, and with no one, absolutely no one, thinking about the fact that the yahoo.com list is irrelevant for the simple fact that there is no record of the hundreds of posts made daily by persons who would cite that forum for records of what they stand for. Seriously, Igbo_forum at yahoo.com has depleted most of its archive and those who write there now lack the ability to confidently point anyone to what they wrote in the past.

The memory in Igbo Forum is gone. It has been said over and over again by many, myself included, that there is no more memory to make references in the event, say, one wants to retrieve a commentary or so from the archives to buttress a point. Take for instance, the extensive and exhaustive debate during the 2000 WIC Convention in Dallas, Texas, noted for its once and for all solution-oriented and problem solving, ala, ka akpachaa ya akpacha, in what I can still recall, a symposium, and in what I had called "Nony and the WIC Formula." In that fierce and aggressive debate, Nony, Okenwa Nwosu, Ken Okorie, Ndiribe Ndiribe, Ugorji Ugorji, Egbebelu Ugobelu, Ejike Okpa, and many others wrote on what bothered them regarding WIC's ineptitude. Nonetheless, WIC pros Ugorji, Okorie, Nony, and Ndiribe tried to persuade the rest of us that WIC was the backbone, the umbrella organization of Nd'Igbo, with us not knowing they were all running a show of their own interest. Where is that reference today? It's absolutely gone. Everything written in yahoo.com Igbo_forum between 1999 and June 2001 has been deleted for lack of space. How can one prove the debates took place?

And, yet, every year, the political heavyweights in Igbo Forum have not lost the momentum to tell Nd'Igbo WIC is the umbrella Diaspora organization to solve problems grand and small within the Igbo nation. Really? The fraudulent and shameless Ugorji, at a time during Governor Achike Udenwa's visit to the shores of America told me, whether I liked it or not, that WIC protects my interest in the United States. Most of us know it well WIC "ain't doing a damn thing" for Nd'Igbo, and that's very obvious from its years of impotency. So, what has WIC done to protect my interest other than its annual picnic of showcasing ego-tripping robed chiefs-with-no-Indians in America? How has WIC addressed the plight of Nd'Igbo over the years? Since WIC has not lived up to its creed, what's the need for the annual bash wasting time and money?

The disgusting 2000 WIC Convention in Dallas where Abubakar Rimi popped up from nowhere should have warned Nd’Igbo that WIC "was up to no good" and it was all about showing off Islamic Jihad-like flowing gowns, outfits, and hauls of chieftaincy titles. A sad reality, indeed. But the irony is that this whole lot of brouhaha and convention of opportunists who have lost their sense of purpose can be traced to Olusegun Obasanjo's strategy of using the buffoons and Igbo sellouts as rubber stamps in situations that call for Nd’Igbo to make their own decisions. Today, the leadership of WIC is a bunch of gullible twits and cowards who have betrayed the Igbo Nation and succumbed to Obasanjo and Iwuanyanwu’s antics, just as the money bags in Ohanaeze have done.

Yes, money bags. Rimi splashed $10,000 in the face of Nd'Igbo and could insult and use any swear word against them, saying it loud and clear "in your face." Of course, it happened in Ken Okorie’s home base of Dallas when they were all attracted to Rimi's money. Pitiful!

For sure, Obasanjo and his coattails have figured out how to handle Nd'Igbo with the right nuts and bolts screwed into their brains. WIC officers see the decrepit state of roads in Igboland. Yet, they make statements that Obasanjo is doing a good job. They witness Obasanjo’s hate and bigotry and are aware that Obasanjo is a bloodthirsty criminal. Yet, they sneak through the backdoor to endorse Obasanjo. It all came to a head when Anambra State indigenes, including those in Diaspora, could not carry out a mass rally and revolt, or denounce Chris Uba and his colleagues' act of treasonable felony, or the criminal behavior of Chris Ngige in agreeing to surrender Anambra to Chris Uba.

Amazingly, Anambra people, including the attorney general of this Orwellian and Shakespearean state, failed to rise to the occasion and prosecute Uba's criminal gang to the limits of the law. Yet WIC has the guts to hold a convention in Nashville, and Uba, as rumor has it, is now in America acquiring properties, living in the most posh of places, Parlos Verdes, California, on looted money. So what's WIC's convention for? To discuss what? Igbo plight? That Uba who "now resides in California" is justified for his acts and protected by those who help him launder money for sharing the loots and spoils of power? So, too, in whose interest is it for Uba's new home in California, running away scot-free without charge in AlaIgbo and the nations “neo-democratic fabric?” In whose interest is the rule of law being reversed while anarchy is put in place in Anambra State?

When the Ngige Vs. Uba drama, which is still playing, exploded and made headlines in the media, both Ngige supporters and Uba's followers got into it, playing the blame game as if it was normal procedure and appropriate for what had unfolded. Ironically, the pundits in Anambra State caught up in a well orchestrated gimmick that brought turmoil during Chinwoke Mbadinuju administration of chaos and instability when Emeka Offor was the Don, the fat cats who instituted anarchy in that troubled state ate their own words when shady business deals and bad faith erupted in Ngige’s and Uba's criminal activities.

These pundits had sworn "never again" would what happened in Mbadinuju's era of anarchy be allowed to repeat itself in what they had foreseen would be a genuine elected governor by the people's mandate. They were wrong and they misled the poor masses who had no idea money and favors were changing hands. However, all said and done, Ngige was elected upon the most massive rigging exercise in the state's history.

All this and within four months, WIC went to Nashville on Labor Day weekend, according to the actors and attendees. In all their commentaries and accolades, the subject-matter of Chris Uba and Chris Ngige was hardly mentioned, except in a contrived and belated communiqué. The fate of the Igbo Nation and state of the empire and anarchy instituted by the likes of Offor, Uba, and Ngige. Former Secretary-General of WIC, Luke Azubuike, who had campaigned against the reelection of Kalu Diogu, and who spins when least expected, raised his version of the truth about his assessment of WIC when he wrote:

"The campaign is over, the election is over, but what is not yet over is the deplorable state of affairs in Igboland. It is my prayer that the tough election Dr. Diogu faced would inspire him to re-evalute his leadership style and to see if he can do things differently at this time to change the political dynamics in Igboland."

Well, for once, he has been sincere. Igboland is in a "deplorable state." But, his baseless point of view did not offer any solutions to that deplorable state of affairs. The worst scenario came with WIC's tyrannical order, the so-called WIC Nashville 2003 communiqué, which is really criminal:

"That WIC demands that every Igbo organization in the United States should reserve the Labor Day weekend exclusively for World Igbo Congress Convention to ensure maximum participation of Nd'Igbo in the discussion of Igbo affairs. Further disregard would be cause for sanctions including ostracism."

With this outrageous line of communiqué, it is evident that the organizers do not have their acts together and have no idea what it is they are doing. Funny how these people are when they fail to come to terms with reality. No mention of Chris Uba whom nobody could prosecute. No mention of Chris Ngige who signed away Anambra State to the mob.

And one WIC 2003 attendee at yahoo.com igbo_forum had this to say about attendance at the dysfunctional Nashville, picnic: “Fifty-five delegates signed the attendance and they spoke eloquently." Whoever said they would not speak "eloquently?"

Also, funny was the praises and hi-fives for Alex Ekwueme, who is now seeking to position himself as a neo-Igboist. Ekwueme, ever so clever spoke eloquently of the need for a profound and centralized Igbo political party. Now that elections are over, Ekwueme pretended to lean toward APGA. These guys will not cease to amaze me. Honestly!

Then, there came the write-up of that self-acclaimed Igbo technocrat, Odindu Odunze, whose beef with General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu I had problems trying to figure out. Odunze in his infantile angst and frustration-induced hallucinations for his own failures challenged Ojukwu thus:

"If after a considerable length of time I do not hear from Chief Dim Ojukwu concerning his consent to my challenge for a debate, I will publish in its entirety, the content of what would have been the premises of my debate on why I believe that Ojukwu has outlived his political utility and ought to bow out with grace."

Now I am not an expert on leadership, references, archives, or storage. But without agreeing that these pronouncements can seem foolish, as most, if not all would think they do including Okenwa Nwosu himself who wrote without bias for the first time:

"If the tone of the published communiqué is indicative of what the newly elected WIC executive shall be up to for next 2 years, then we shall all have legitimate cause to worry and lament for the fate of our people. Could this be a manifestation of arrogance of power in party here?"

How soon we forget what transpired in the past. No reflections and no profound insight in WIC's Communiqué, I must freely confess. It is typical of a conquered and finished people.

Going back to the archives which no longer exists in Igbo Forum, in the convention sponsored by Igbo Cultural Association of Nigeria Dallas-Forth Worth (ICAN-DFW), held in Dallas in the Summer of 2000, Ojukwu was clear in calling on Diaspora Igbos to take over the mantle of leadership from his generation. The Ikemba detailed the necessity of Diaspora leadership. On that score, it is either Odunze is pretending not to know of Ojukwu's call for change of guards or Odunze was intentionally bent on mischief when he lamented that Ikemba Nnewi "has outlived his political utility."

Apparently, the Igbo Diaspora, scared to their scrotum, Odunze himself included, could not take up the mantle of leadership in effecting change. So, what's Odunze talking about? Odunze was not even able to address the Ngige-Uba fraud, which fell on his lap at the WIC picnic, which DIM Ojukwu did not attend. Ojukwu’s absence at WIC 2003 was perfect opportunity for Odunze and his ilk to show what they could do in the absence of Ojukwu. Odunze did not care to call on Igbos to apply their laws firmly and swiftly to all those who break them. Rather, Odunze was obsessed with Ojukwu.

It's time to quit the picnic and face serious issues. The bottom line is, the moment pundits of the post-civil war era begin to realize that Igbo problems lie within ego-tripping elitists who have destroyed the unity of the Igbo nation in its entirety, and find a way out of the situation, the present state of confusion and lack of organizational effectiveness will continue to eternity and Nd’Igbo would continue to be and act like a conquered and finished people.

This article was published exclusively at BNW Magazine on September 06, 2003

News Desk Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why I stand surety for Uwazuruike —EZENDIGBO

The Ezendigbo of Lagos State, Eze Christian Nwachukwu has said that his standing surety for bail of MASSOB leader Chief Ralph Uwazuruike was borne out of his concern for the plight of the Igbo activist. MORE>>>

I’m ready to die for Biafra – Uwazuruike
•Returns to tumultuous welcome in Enugu


Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, who was granted temporary bail last week, received a heroic welcome at Enugu on Monday, where he said he was ready to die for Biafra. MORE>>>

Journalists Harassed By Governor of Northern State for Criticising Lavish Spending

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the way governor Ali Modu Sheriff of the northern state of Borno has hounded journalists since mid-October 2007. After criticising his lavish spending, James Garuba of the "Tribune", Michael Olabode of "This day", another privately-owned daily, and several other reporters were arrested twice in a week by the State Security Service (SSS), the main domestic intelligence agency, and then placed under its daily control. MORE>>>

Tribunal Bans Witnesses From Testifying

The presidential election petitions tribunal in Abuja yesterday held that henceforth all parties in the petitions brought by General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will no more rely on witnesses in order to enable it conclude the petitions before three months as earlier scheduled. MORE>>>

Etteh Steps Aside In Disgrace

But the drama that followed her stepping down from her seat, may well be a pointer to the fact that the woman may have lost her seat as speaker. Members overwhelmingly endorsed the nomination of a representative from Benue State, Mr. Tenrgu Tsegba, the favourite of the combative opposition, as the temporary speaker to preside over the discussions on the Idoko report. Etteh’s candidate, West Idahosa had few members in his support. MORE>>>

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ralph Uwazuruike's Release and Injustice in Nigeria.

On Friday, October 26, 2007, Justice Binta Nyako at a Federal High Court in Abuja, granted Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) leader Ralph Uwazuruike a conditional release to enable him take care of his mother's burial which to me had long being overdue since Uwazuruike was never a security risk and posed no threat.

According to the report filed by Danladi Ndayebo of All Africa Global Media, "the judge held that MASSOB boss should return for his trial on January 28, 2008. She directed that the accused person provides two serving senators a nd two traditional rulers of Igbo extraction. In addition, he must be reporting to the Imo State police command twice in a week during and after his mother's burial."

What kind of injustice is this? What kind of country is this? When Frederick Fasheun was released on health grounds, was he asked to be reporting to his local police command until he gets well probably? When militant Gani Adams was released unconditionally, was he also asked to be reporting to his local police station to make sure he is going by the rules and not annihilating people anymore? If Uwazuruike, Adams, Fasheun were charged with treasonably felonies, why would Uwazuruike be remanded in custody while Adams and Fasheun were granted unconditional release?

But I like Uwazuruike's courage. Upon his release, he told curious journalist that the struggle for the actualization of Biafra will continue irrespective of what a bias court decides. Props must also be given to his sureties who were handy to make sure the MASSOB leader was released as prescibed by the judge. Senators Uche Chukwumereije, Ikechukwu Obiora and traditional rulers Eze Nd'Igbo of Abuja, Nwosu Ibe and Eze Nd'Igbo of Lagos, Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu were the sureties.

The struggle continues and time will tell!

Images of Southern California Fires


The above picture was captured by Associated Press photographer, Marcio Jose Sanchez of a Southern California Edison employee Francisco Flores on the job trying to restore power to a fire-ravaged community in Running Springs.


The one above here was captured by Spencer Platt of Getty Images as smoke clouds billow into the sky from Poomacha fire which destroyed most homes in the area. The good news as the raging fire enters its second week is that two more fires in the San Diego area is said to be fully contained.


This one here captured by Allen J. Schabin of Los Angeles Times showing a desperate deer in search of food on a smoky Modjeska Canyon Road.

However, I did receive many calls from well-wishers who called to find out if I was affected by the Southern California blazes that destroyed properties worth millions of dollars. And good to know, I am safe, folks. It's time to rebuild.

News Desk Sunday, October 28, 2007

AS OMEHIA BOWS OUT AS RIVERS GOVERNOR..What we want from Amaechi— By Dokubo Asari, Ateke Tom, others

Ijaw leader, Alabo Graham Douglas, has advocated the probe of former Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State and his successor, Sir Celestine Omehia, by Governor Rotimi Amaechi. Speaking yesterday, against the backdrop of the deposition of Omehia by the Supreme Court and the assumption of office of Amaechi, Douglas said in an interview with Sunday Vanguard: “The issue of enquiry is what we must carry out in this state, we must. I mean, a state structure, a state finances, owner and personality and environmental cleanliness had all been fractured in eight years. We had appropriated over one trillion Naira and nothing to show for it, where did all the money go” MORE>>>

Family-of-eight escapes death in Police gun attack

OWERRI—A family of eight narrowly escaped death when a team of gun totting policemen stormed their private home and opened fire on them in their living room. Narrating their sordid ordeal to Vanguard, Mrs. Ann Ukaegbu, said that “the policemen led by an Inspector opened a seemingly endless fire on the iron door and destroyed it in the process”. MORE>>>

Presidency set to sack Iwu

THERE are strong indications that the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, is on his way out of the commission, with a former top security chief from the South West zone tipped to succeed him. MORE>>>

Anxiety in Sokoto as Election Tribunal delivers judgment tomorrow - Police tighten security

The serenity of the ancient city of Sokoto has given way to anxiety as the Election Petition Tribunal delivers judgment on the state’s gubernatorial election tomorrow. The declaration of Alhaji Magatakanda Wammakko of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been challenged by Alhaji Muhammadu Maigari and his party, the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). MORE>>>

Friday, October 26, 2007

JAZZ: Weather Report's "This Is This"

If you are a jazz fan and have followed the rock-jazz-fusion beats when many jazzists crossed over from the classic tunes and big band sessions, you should know the likes of the late Austrian keyboardist Joe Zawinul and legendary saxaphonist Wayne Shorter who has been scheduled to perform at the tribute to Herbie Hancock on Sunday, October 28, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Somehow, for that reason I have been playing the last recorded album of Weather Report when Zawinul and Shorter mutually agreed to discontinue with Report's projects. Following up traditional jazz of the 50's and 60's before the crossovers, I wasn't familiar with Shorter and Zawinul. I got a grip of it while getting deep into jazz-fusion when the mind-blowing ethnic tunes became the norm in the 70's through the 80's until recently that traditional jazz began to stage a comeback as the all-star cast would prove it at the Kodak Theatre on Sunday.

In this last album of jazz-fusion's talented musicians, Shorter and Zawinul "sincerely" thanked all that gave their "enthusiasm and talent" during the course of the band's fifteen years existence. Among them: Alphonse Mouzon, Peter Erskine, drummer Omar Hakim, bassist Alphonso Johnson, Alex Acuna, Airto Moreira, Chester Thompson, Alirio Lima, Ndugu Chancelor, Don Um Romao, Mino Cinelu, Victor Bailey, Greg Enrico, Eric Gravatt, Miroslav Vitous, Marva Barnes, Colleen Coil, Darryl Brown, Seidah Garrett, Darryl Phinnessee and several others that came along the bands path.

The CD beginning with the titled track "This Is This" has everything in it, from the roots of African drum beats and rhythms to the lyrical expressions of a masquerade dance with a flavor of old-school wind instrumens on display. The album is just amazing with Zawinul showcasing his talent, the magnificent performer that he would be until his death last month. I kept replaying the track "Jungle Stuff" as the vibes and voiceovers reminds me of the legendary Chief Priest Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

The album is just great and probably the best that Shorter and Zawinul put together.

Fire In The Mountain, Run, Run, Run



The above picture was captured by Los Angeles Times Irfan Khan showing the air tanker dropping fire retardant in the San Bernardino Mountains as threat to homes drops and giving the San Diego area residents a sigh of relief in the fifth day of "Witch Fire" in the Southland. Meanwhile, authorities in Orange County are asking for help and leads that may lead to the arrest of the alleged arsonist who "ignited the 25,000-acre Santiago fire" in Orange County with an offer of $150,000 reward.

News Desk Friday, October 26, 2007

Amaechi takes over as Rivers gov: Supreme Court sacks Omehia - Amaechi returns from London today - Yar’Adua orders his immediate swearing-in - Yobe gov knows fate Nov 20

THE Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Rivers State governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, to quit office with immediate effect. A seven-man panel of the apex court unanimously ordered the immediate swearing-in of the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Honourable Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, as the new governor. MORE>>>

FG gets tough with airlines - Over drug trafficking by staff

The Federal Government said in Abuja on Thursday that it would close down any airline whose staff members or aircraft is used to carry hard drugs in and out of Nigeria. This came after several drug traffickers that were caught recently turned out to be airline staff members or were aided by them. MORE>>>

Soludo - FG Owes States $1.7bn

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, yesterday stated that the Federal Government was owing states almost $1.7 billion from excess crude oil account. Soludo disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents after a marathon meeting of the National Economic Council, where almost all the states were represented. MORE>>>

Six kidnapped from Italian oil facility off Nigeria

LAGOS (Reuters) - Gunmen kidnapped six workers from an Italian oil production facility off the coast of Nigeria on Friday, forcing Italy's ENI to halt production of 50,000 barrels per day, authorities said. It was the second kidnapping from an offshore oilfield in Nigeria in one week, undermining a five-month ceasefire by armed groups which had raised hopes for peace talks with the government. MORE>>>

Le Roy Tips Eagles, Lions for Glory

Black Stars coach Claude Le Roy has picked Nigeria as one of the favourites to lift the Nations Cup, which holds in Ghana early next year. MORE>>>

Petitions to Lift the Ban on Filipino OFWs Bound for Nigeria

Late last year, the Philippine government declared a total ban of workers going to Nigeria on the account of the successive kidnapping incidents in Nigeria’s oil areas which involve OFWs. The action may have been justifiable at that point. The ban affected not only New Hires but vacationing OFWs as well, even those OFWs who are working in Lagos and non-oil areas. MORE>>>

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Southern California Fires



The above picture was captured by Los Angeles Times Wally Skalij in what has been a nightmare to San Diego area residents, forcing more than half a million residents out of their homes with damage in the billion dollar range.

News Desk Thursday, October 25, 2007

Etteh bows, to Step Aside Tuesday

ABUJA — embattled Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, appears set to step aside when the House resumes Tuesday for the consideration of the Idoko Panel report as her supporters hinted yesterday in Abuja that she had agreed in principle to vacate her seat to pave theway for the election of a Speaker pro tempore. MORE>>>

Ige: Court frees suspects

FOUR suspects who have been standing trial at an Ibadan Magistrate Court in connection with the murder of the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, were yesterday discharged and acquitted. The suspects — Moshood Enifeni, Oluwatoyin Onafeko, Suraju Fatuga and Saidi Akande — had been charged with the December 23, 2001 murder of Chief Ige. MORE>>>

Naira sells for 5-year high N118 to dollar

The Naira appreciated to N118.50 to the dollar on the interbank market on Wednesday, its strongest level in five years and compared with N119.45 per dollar on Tuesday, traders said. The last time the Nigerian currency traded this strongly was in July, 2002 when the dollar exchanged for N117.00, dealers said. MORE>>>

US, European police arrest 20 Nigerians - For smuggling underage girls for prostitution

Police across Europe and in New York, United States, arrested 20 people suspected of smuggling young girls out of Nigeria and forcing them to work as prostitutes after intimidating them in voodoo rituals, Dutch prosecutors said on Wednesday. Thirteen of the suspects were arrested in a series of coordinated raids in cities across the Netherlands, the country’s prosecutor's office said in a statement. MORE>>>

Nyame looted Taraba money from Abuja -EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has told an Abuja High Court that it has taken steps to make the ex-governor of Taraba State, Revered Jolly Nyame, to cough out the public funds he allegedly stole from the coffers of the state while in office. MORE>>>

Nigeria Wants Bigger Slice
Of Revenue From Its Oil


Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, is looking to renegotiate several contracts with foreign oil companies, a senior Nigerian official said, in a move to increase the government's share of oil revenue. MORE>>>

Vogts' Tax - NFA Refutes Receiving Letter From German Govt

The Nigeria Football Association yesterday denied receiving any letter from any government agency in the Federal Republic of Germany concerning the contract of Super Eagles' chief coach, Berti Vogts. MORE>>>

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BOOKSHELF: The Bond

Last week at Esowon Books in the heart of Leimert Park's "Black Township," Drs. George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt and Sampson Davis signed copies of their new book The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive and Reconnect with Their Fathers which is a follow-up to the bestselling book The Pact sharing their relationship from growing up without a father figure in their respective lives.

In this brilliant book, The Three Doctors as they are now known tells the story of how life could have been different had they been nurtured by a father while growing up. When interviewed by Amy Cox Williams of The African-American Connection, Dr George Jenkins had this to say:

"one thing I'd add to what both guys said is that our friendship was essential to our overcoming the conditions and disadvantages. We taught each other lots of things that allowed us to grow and fill the voids left by our fathers. We made each other better students and better men through our frienship."

On the other hand, Dr Sampson Davis who spoke eloquently at the book signing ceremony on the parking lot across the street from Esowon Books and in his interview with Cox Williams said:

"Fatherlessness is the nucleus for many social ills in our society. When looking at the studies and statistics, a case has been made that crime, high school drop out rates, drug use, and involvement in gangs can be often directly attributed to a young person growing up fatherless. Very often, mothers do a great job raising today's youth, but based on our own experiences, we know how important a father's contribution is for children."

Dr. Rameck Hunt who was more emotional for not having that bond with his father while growing up noted the following in that interview with Cox Williams:

"The interesting thing about all this is just that--none of us are fathers. Before any of us decide to make that decision we want to make sure we are ready. We refuse to repeat that cycle of fatherlessness... A big part of the message in The Bond is to break that cycle."

To sum it all up, The Bond is just one powerful book and straightforward.

News Desk Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Etteh: Reps on 1-wk forced adjournment

THE crisis rocking the House of Representatives over the consideration of the Idoko Panel report took another dangerous turn yesterday as the Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, extended the adjournment of the House till next Tuesday even as the opposition protested and threatened to sit and consider the report.
A peace meeting brockered by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) on the matter ended in a deadlock yesterday even as the party at the meeting insisted that a judge could not preside over his own case. MORE>>>

6 more ex-govs for trial - Ribadu

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has concluded plans to arraign no fewer than six former governors in court for allegedly corruptly enriching themselves while in office. MORE>>>

Court gives Asuni tough bail condition

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the United States of America embassy in Nigeria not to give suspected American woman spy, Judith Asuni, traveling documents, just as it admitted her to bail with stringent conditions. MORE>>>

Grand knights
• The Sun man, 80 others initiated into the Order of Knights of St. Mulumba


The Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Catholic Archdiocesan Secretariat, Onitsha, Anambra State was on September 29 filled with divine powers and goodness of God as the Deputy Group Business Editor of The Sun newspapers, Sir Christian Ochiama (KSM) and 80 others were initiated into the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba (KSM). MORE>>>

Alamieyeseigha, Dariye Loot: Britain to Return £16m

The British Government is to return to Nigeria £16,598,000 remaining part of the looted funds of the former governors of Bayelesa and Plateau states, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Joshua Dariye, when the funds are freed by the Britsh court. MORE>>>

Nigeria kidnappers target children

Two children aged five and six have become the latest kidnap victims of oil company ransom gangs in Nigeria. French oil giant Total said on Tuesday that the children of one of its Nigerian employees were abducted on Monday on their way to school in Port Harcourt. MORE>>>

Nigeria line up Australia friendly

The Super Eagles will play the Socceroos on 17 November at Craven Cottage, home of Premier League side Fulham. Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley said the game would be Australia's final warm-up before its World Cup qualifiers begin in February. MORE>>>

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

News Desk Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I won’t intervene in House of Reps crisis – Yar’Adua
•NBA asks Etteh to quit



The President’s position on the internal bickering in the lower legislative chamber, the aftermath of a N628 million contract scam, is coming at a time the opposition in the House is demanding the Speaker, Mrs Patricia Olubunmi Etteh’s outright resignation. Its leader, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP’s) Mohammed Ali Ndume, says the issue has gone beyond Etteh’s stepping aside to allow objective and unfettered deliberation on the report of the David Idoko panel which probed the allegations against her and a coterie of House officers implicated in the contract scam. MORE>>>

Socceroos to play Nigeria in London friendly

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley says the November 17 match at Craven Cottage, home of premiership side Fulham, will be Australia's final warm-up before its World Cup qualifiers begin in February. MORE>>>

NBA Challenges Govt on Corruption

President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has challenged President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to make very bold statement in the fight against corruption, saying there is nothing on ground to show that the fight will succeed. Agbakoba also challenged Yar’Adua to publicly declare if he received money for his presidential election campaign from some of the governors that are currently being prosecuted or investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He said Nigerians can see that the President has the capacity to fight corruption, but he is being hampered by blackmail. MORE>>>

Mozambique's ex-President, Chissano, wins African leadership prize

FOR boosting the economy of his country bringing peace to a war-ravaged nation, serving his people truthfully and turning down the chance for a third term in office, even when it was legal for him to seek it, among others, former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, has emerged the first winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. He also won an individual award prize seen as the largest in the world. MORE>>>

3 Nigerians listed in Nobel prize-winning work

Three Nigerian professors have been identified as contributors to the work of the United Nations Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize alongside former US Vice President Al Gore, Empowered Newswire has reported. MORE>>>

Court joins NEIMETH in FG’s suit against Pfizer

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday joined Neimeth Pharmaceutical Company as one of the parties that have cases to answer in the $700 billion suit instituted against Pfizer International Incorporation over the 1996 controversial Trovan test in Kano. MORE>>>

NLC Storms House Tomorrow

Leaders of the central labour unions Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC] and the Trades Union Congress [TUC] are expected to march to the House of Representatives in Abuja tomorrow to demand the resignation of the Speaker Mrs Patricia Olubunmi Etteh over the N628 million contract scandal that has been rocking the house, Daily Trust learnt in Abuja yesterday. MORE>>>

Okonjo-Iweala laments undue interference with EFCC

MANAGING Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has decried what she calls undue interference with and disruption of the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by government at different levels, and therefore wants it to be left alone to perform its duties of ridding the country of corruption. MORE>>>

Iberia Airlines dragged to U.S court over death of Nigerian on-board

LAGOS—Spanish Carrier, Iberia Airlines has been dragged before the U.S District Court in Michigan , for its role in the cold murder of the 23 year-old Nigerian, Mr. Osamuyia Aikpitanhi who died aboard its aircraft on June 9, 2007. In a statement signed by the family’s attorneys, Mr. Femi Falana and U.S based international human rights lawyer, Mr. Kayode Oladele, they said: “we have filed a torture and wrongful death complaint against the Iberia Airlines of Spain on behalf of the parents of Mr. Osamuyia Aikpitanhi who was murdered aboard the Iberia Airlines Plane on June 9, 2007. MORE>>>

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Police Intensify Search For Lucky Dube's Killers

Nigerian Tribune

Police Intensify Search For Lucky Dube’s Killers

20.10.2007

South African police said on Friday it was intensifying the search for gunmen that killed South African reggae star, Lucky Dube, on Thursday.


Dube, 43, was killed in Johannesburg’s Rossettenville suburb in front of his son and daughter.


Police spokesman, Eugene Opperman, who described the murder as “one of the high-profile murders in the country,” said they tried to take his vehicle.


“They allegedly tried to take his vehicle, but then shots were fired and he was fatally wounded,” Opperman said.


The murder of South Africa’s biggest selling reggae singer cast a pall over the national mood a day before the country’s rugby union team faces England in the World Cup final.


Police earlier said Dube was dropping his son off when the attack took place.


Some callers to radio stations said the South African team should play wearing black armbands as a sign of mourning for Dube.


South Africa has one of the world’s worst murder rates and the number of rapes, carjackings, assaults and violent crime is on the rise while violent crimes rose sharply last year despite the effort of the police.


Dube recorded more than 20 albums in his career and won over 20 awards locally and internationally. He had just completed a month-long tour of the United States.


His first album, released in 1984 with the title, Rastas Never Die, was banned by the country’s apartheid government.


During his career, he performed across the world and shared the stage with music stars such as Sinead O’Connor, Peter Gabriel and Sting among others.


Paul Boateng, Britain’s Ambassador to South Africa, said he was shocked by Dube’s death.


Boateng said, “My wife and I are big fans. It is a great loss to music internationally.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

Report Of Alleged Fraud By Mark Rocks Senate

The Guardian, Saturday, October 20, 2007


From Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja


TEMPERS rose yesterday on the floor of the Senate as members of the Upper House openly expressed dismay over a report alleging that its President, David Mark, was involved in a N3 billion budget fraud.

Shortly after the start of the session, senators frowned over a report credited to an aide of George Akume, to the effect that Mark smuggled the sum of N2.5 billion into the 2007 Supplementary Act for the purpose of furnishing the new Senate building.

The lawmakers were equally unhappy with another report of an allegation that the Senate leadership had paid out N500 million to some television stations that carried out live broadcast of the screening of the last set of ministerial nominees.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Iyiola Omisore had cited Order 15 of Senate Standing Rule and argued that his privilege had been violated by the publication.

According to Omisore, it was wrong for a senator to have insinuated that N2.5 billion was smuggled into the supplementary budget when in actual fact, his committee had been thorough in the processing of the budget before being passed by the entire Senate.

He added: "Mr. Senate President, I read in the Daily Trust of Wednesday, October 17, 2007, a story credited to Adoka Adaji who presented himself as a Special Assistant to Senator George Akume, that the Senate President smuggled N2.5 billion into the supplementary budget recently passed by the Senate."

He continued: "By this story, the entire constitutional appropriation process meticulously carried out by the Senate is being discredited, and my privilege as Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation and Senator Iyiola Omisore has been breached. I have been portrayed as incompetent and untrustworthy.

"It may well be that Akume knows something that this Senate does not know. I therefore move that in terms of Order 15, this matter be referred to our Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions", Omisore added.

Seconding the motion, the Deputy Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) declared that his privilege had also been trampled upon by the publication.

He said: "My own privileges have also been breached. I was the one detailed to provide the cost of live broadcast for ministerial screening...But that publication alleged that over N500 million was spent on the broadcast. For any Senator to go out and disclose what was discussed in a closed session is irresponsible. He should have confirmed from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and others whether any money has been paid. Nothing has been paid so far."

Speaking on the matter, Abubakar Danso Sodangi said: "This is no longer an attempt to destroy the image of our Senate President. But the integrity of the entire Senate is at stake here. All our privileges have been breached here."

The Deputy Minority leader, Olorunnimbe Mamora, added another dimension to the debate when he argued that all the publications were aimed at smearing the image of the Senate.

He said: "There is also the allegation that Mark has started furnishing the new wing of the Senate Complex when there has been no budgetary provision for it. I believe this is a smear campaign. We can't continue like this."

Smart Adeyemi in his own argument said: "The content and the authority of the source of the story is not in doubt. Every minute counts for the Senate. We must ensure that this will be the last story published to tarnish the image of the Senate. It is unbecoming for Akume and his group to engage in this. This story is unfair, unbiblical, unislamic and unconstitutional."

But when Dahiru Kuta rose to blame journalists for going to press with the story without confirming from the Senate, Adeyemi interrupted him and queried on top of his voice: "Why are you blaming journalists? Talk about your friend."

And Joy Emodi was more aggressive in her reactions to the reports.

"This is a rumour against all of us and I don't think we should allow this to continue because the National Assembly is the symbol of democracy in this country."

Following a motion sponsored by Omisore, the Upper House ordered fresh investigation into the newspaper report.

After many senators had condemned the report, the Upper House adopted the only prayer of the motion directing its Committee on Ethics, Code of Conduct and Public Petitions to investigate the report and submit its findings as well as its recommendations to it on Tuesday next week for further action.

Also, last Tuesday, the same Ethics Committee was asked to investigate and identify the source of another media report in which Mark was alleged to have spent some N400 million to renovate his official residence.

The Omar Hambagda-led Ethics Committee however complained of insufficient time to do the investigation and submit its report on Tuesday, but the Senate directed it to proceed first and ask for more time if it had not concluded its work then.

Lucky Dube Remembered Forever


LUCKY DUBE’S RECORD LABEL, GALLO, MOURNS HIS TRAGIC LOSS
The staff of Gallo Record Company are devastated by the news of the tragic passing of reggae legend Lucky Dube. Lucky was slain in an attempted hijacking in Rosettenville in Johannesburg last night, at approximately 8pm, whilst dropping off his children at a family members house.

Although Lucky attempted to escape the scene, he had been fatally wounded from the hijacker’s attempt to steal his motor vehicle, and he died almost instantly.
Senseless and random, the death of Lucky Dube leaves a great void in the music industry, as 25 years of music suddenly ends in tragedy.

South African born but globally revered, Lucky Dube was one of the country’s most toured and beloved artists ever. His music touched millions around the world, primarily through his 22 recorded albums - in Zulu, English and even Afrikaans - many of which have been record breakers with phenomenal sales from around the globe.

As a frontline artist in the reggae genre, Lucky's creativity and inventiveness kept growing.
Compelling in his musicianship and intriguing in his lyrical content, Lucky's sonic daring to take his genre to new heights never failed to amaze even the most ardent fans, whilst reigning in new devotees to his magic every day.


His energetic band toured with him from continent to continent as South African musical ambassadors, and his live performances have earned him fans and accolades the world over.

Lucky joined Teal Records (later to become Gallo) as a fresh-faced young Mbaqanga singer in 1982. Five albums later he found a genre that spoke to his soul and changed the way he viewed the world. This genre was Reggae.

With his long-time sound engineer and best friend Dave Segal, he created some of the most legendary pieces of reggae music ever recorded, including the tracks Prisoner, Taxman, Slave, Victims, Together As One and Respect – all social anthems that garnered him the adoration of the people of his country - and across the globe.
Lucky was an artist that continued to break international barriers and recently just signed a deal with Warner Music International, securing him album releases across Europe of his latest album Respect.

Ivor J. Haarburger, CEO of Gallo Music Group is deeply saddened by the loss. “Lucky was not just an extraordinary artist, he was a personal friend. We go back over twenty years and had both a business and personal relationship. It’s so sad to lose such a great friend and so tragically, why?”

There are very few words that capture the magnitude of this devastating loss. As a musician, father and colleague, Lucky was one of the most charming, respected, selfless and dedicated people to have lived. He will be sorely missed.

Lucky Dube was survived by his new wife Zanele and his 7 children Bongi, Nonkululeko, Thokozani, Laura, Siyanda, Philani and his brand new three-month old baby Melokuhle.

Tribute to Herbie Hancock @ Kodak Theatre


On Sunday, October 28, 2007, the Kodak Theatre located at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue will be packed to capacity when an all-star cast will be paying tribute to Herbie Hancock and Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition.

Witout a doubt, the tribute will be one of Hollywood's treasured musical events this year when the 67-year-old keyboardist gets props from one of his early colleagues, Quincy Jones, who will be appearing as a special guest.

I was not even a jazz "freak" when I first dabbled into what would be my favorite of Hancock's recordings. The year was 1981 when a two record set was being played on a turntable, back in the day. The album was V.S.O.P: The Quntet, released in 1977 was recorded from two live performances; one at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and the other at U.C. Berkeley. It was a landmark performance with Hancock on keyboards, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Tony Williams on drums and the magnificent Wayne Shorter of Weather Report on tenor and soprano saxaphones.

The track listing of this great album, my best of Hancock recordings and I still have the vinyl LP is a masterpiece whatever moment its being played:

1. "One of a Kind"

2. "Jessica"

3. "Lawra"

4. "Dolores"

5. "Third Plane"

6. "Byrdlike"

7. "Darts"

8. "Little Waltz"

The tribute sponsored by Cadillac and GMAC Financial Services will be featuring Joni Mitchell, Chris Botti, Sting, Jamie Foxx, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Nancy Wilson, Wayne Shorter, Terrence Blanchard, George Duke and many, many others. It's going to be a hell of a show and I will be there live.

Also, the event will be benefitting Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles.

News Desk Friday, October 19, 2007

APGA Raises Alarm Over Plot To Invade Anambra

Awka—All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Anambra State chapter, yesterday, raised the alarm over what it called “plots by undesirable elements in our midst to cause another mayhem” in Anambra State. The aim of the alleged plot, APGA claimed, was to call for a state of emergency in the state and sack Governor Peter Obi from office. MORE>>

Monday, October 15, 2007

On the Sidewalk with Harold Hisam: Colloquialism Is Best When Done With Style


I have received series of e-mails indicating my writing style has changed, and that I am becoming more blunt the way I use my words. I often wonder why it seems to be a big deal when what one says reads a different meaning to people who think they must monitor how one uses his pen to make his point when there are varieties of ways to do that especially of style, related to technology and the internet.

Why are my readers curious about my writing style? For instance, I use to be a political junkie and would do anything to set things right in keeping my political focus appropriate in terms of political correctness. But what folks do not know is that a change in my writing style was necessary to put into perspective what the internet is, which is being the conduit of getting the message across, just like running into Harold Hisam, owner of Hisam's African And Urban Wear in the heart of the "Black Township" who said to me that "these mutchafuckers think I'm running a museum or gallery where they can take a tour without knowing I've got bills to pay."

"You see what I mean? That's saying it like it is, and ain't nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, I took this entrepreneur to school and had a lively chat with him in the language both of us were totally connected. We were both on the same score and patently without him thinking I was just square, and not a brother who should not be hanging around the hood. He was blunt and here we go:

You are the owner of this boutique, and tell me something, how's business going?

Man, you know what? Business is ok, but this people around here think my shop is a museum, a Disneyland or something where they can take a look without spending a dime. Ain't that something, man?!

Are you saying shoppers and tourists shouldn't take a look or take a tour of your store since this place has become a tourist attraction?

Hey man, these mutchafuckers need to know this place ain't Disneyland. You see what I'm saying? I mean, they walk in here dig into my stuff and walk away just like that. Now you tell me how can I open up this mutchafucker everyday and nobody wants to buy something? You see what I'm saying? How am I gonna pay the damn bill, man?

Your inventory show you've got over $100,000 in stock. You must be doing
good.


Bullshit! How can I be doing good when these mutchafuckers ain't buying shit? You see what I'm saying? I think ammo go back to the basics, man! Ammo start growing organic stuff in my backyard and leave this shit alone. You see what I'm saying?

Grow like what?

Tomatoes, fruits and things like that, man!

Where you gonna sell em?

Sheeeet! Farmers market, man. Dem folks at the markets are making some big money, man! People got to eat and that's the real deal man! You see what I'm saying?

I wish you luck!

Thanks, man! Ammo try!

Stop The Jargon, I'm Sick And Tired Of It


When the entrapment called Nigeria is being described as oil-rich nation while scandals of widespread bribery and corruption rages on with the nasty treatment of the weakest and most vulnerable in its society continues apace, it really bothers me.

It's all over Nigeria-related media on the acclaimed visit of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's visit to Naija on bilateral issues while seventy percent of Nigerians resident in India are said to be jobless. Big deal! Does the visiting prime minister know that most Nigerians in his country are without jobs? And the ebullient bicyclist Ojo Maduekwe had thought he was carrying out a good show on behalf of a retarded and most corrupt regime on Planet Earth making a fool out of himself and not realizing he is still an efulefu, worthless and confused as his other comrades who would go any length to feed from the crumbs of their sultanate masters.

I would not belittle the vulnerable and gullible Nigerian media, never minding the fact that they have taken journalism to a level that is now shameful. None has written critically about the mess created by the so-called Minister of Justice and Attorney General Michael Aondonkaa (I hope I spelled his name right, and I don't really care) whose Justice Department all of a sudden has turned everything upside down and the press is not saying much about it. The Tiv man is telling Nigerians that it's a jungle out there, and that they should get it.

Who cares what the crap Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is coming up with regarding the bogus April elections we've put behind us to move on. Why now? Jide Ajani, Political Editor of the Vanguard Newspapers writes that OBJ's term extension almost destroyed President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's chances of the presidency. According to the report by INEC slated for release on Tuesday, October 16, 2007, it is said the report "provides a blow-by-blow account, giving an insight into how the elections were actually conducted."

The question here now is: Would the report indicate that no election was held at all in the politically troubled state of Anambra? Would the report indicate that, the case of Kogi State Guber election was misplaced and that INEC and Obasanjo's Gestapo-like regime had no jurisdiction to interfere with matters related to the rule of law as empowered by the courts? Would the report indicate that what had happened in Igbo-related states during the course of the rigged election was the doings of Naira passing through the hands of a selected sell-outs including Maurice Iwu as mediator? Without a doubt, the report is more likely to be a shadow stuff and will fizzle out within a few days of its release with the much celebrated sponsored press doing nothing about it. If the press continues to keep its tight-lip mode, be rest assured that the country is doomed, if not now, sooner or later.

Enter Speaker of the House of Representatives Mrs. Patricia Etteh whose motive was delibrately to steal money with impunity on the grounds nothing absolutely would happen. Of course, nothing will happen knowing Naija and cover-ups. After all, Orji Kalu is free bragging to deal with the polluted system. James Ibori who sponsored Yar'Adua's ticket to Aso Rock and emptied his state's treasury is untouchable having a field day because Yar'Adua and his entire cabinet knows exactly what's going on. Many others are like that who are scot-free including a sad reality case of former Enugu State Governor, Dr. Chimaraoke Nnamani who had taken the people of Enugu for a long ride.

While we are at it, the local government bureau chiefs are doing their own thing, too. They are stealing without conscience and the roads and other infrastructures are totally gone and the local press wherever they are can't do "jack" about it.

Nothing lasts forever, and apparently, these folks don't know that. Time will tell!

Jam Session at Sunny's Spot

Saturday, October 13 was one of dem kind of days I stroll on Degnan Blvd. in Leimert Park's "Black Township" where the locals do their own thing from shopping on artifacts and clothings related to African cultural heritage to pub-crawling and eating out. The traffic around this neigborhood is getting busier and busier, sometimes with curious tourist poking around and getting a feel of the drum beats that vibrates from the park.

I had poked around and walked into Sunny's Spot and the settings was the beginning of a jam session featuring locals and aspiring artists who play from gig to gig. The line-up on this day included New York born rock/alternative performer, Angela Leo who had breezed in to share the Saturday gig with Jacnicque, Rizi Timane, Ali Baba, Jackie Rae, Raaki Solomon and the Season of Us.

Leimert Park and its envorons is now selling the idea of tourism as a way to attract more visitors to a neigborhood once known as a haven for hoodlums on Crenshaw Boulevard thoroughfare. Safe and cool, business is thriving in this neigborhood, and one can always tell by the mood of the area's merchants.

At Sunny's Spot, it was business as usual when Angela Leo and her colleagues began to entertain the audience. I had always been asked if I played any instrument. I wish I did, but being a music analyst, I think that's enough to go by and enjoy good vibes from locals, as I really did watching Leo do her thing and showcasing her talent "acoustically."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

News Desk Sunday, October 14, 2007

Journalist Survives Assassination...

Mr. Kola Eke is the Edo State correspondent of The First weekly magazine. He escaped death by the whiskers, penultimate Saturday, after gunmen suspected to be hired assassins tricked him out of the premises of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat to the Ugbowo area of Benin City under the guise that they wanted to place an advertorial in his magazine and shot him at close range. MORE>>

How Nigeria Was Spared Another Civil War - Prof. Alaba Ogunsanwo

NIGERIA would have been plunged into another civil war had the constitutional amendment to ensure a third term for former President Olusegun Obasanjo not been scuttled by the Senate led by Ken Nnamani, president of the Senate, 2005 - 2007. This was the submission of erudite scholar, diplomat and political scientist, Professor Alaba Ogunsanwo, at the Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos Lecture delivered by Senator Nnamani titled: “Transformative Leadership: Lessons from the Fifth Senate,” recently. MORE>>

Soludo, Obi Team Up Against Andy Uba - Ahead Of 2011

Emerging signals have started indicating that Anambra State will continue to remain a political war zone till 2011 as the former governor, Dr. Andy Uba is now pitched in an intense power struggle with the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Charles Soludo for control of the state. MORE>>

British Police Arrive Nigeria This Week Over Ibori

The Metropolitan Police have concluded plans to dispatch a crack team of detectives to carry out further investigations in Nigeria on the former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, over money laundering. MORE>>

Top Govt Officials Behind Asuni's Travails, Says Family

The family of the detained peace activist, Chief (Dr) Mrs. Judith Asuni, has blamed the woes of their matriarch on those they called powerful top government officials “who are beneficiaries of the crisis in the Niger Delta.” The family did not however mention names of the suspected officials. MORE>>

Thursday, October 11, 2007

News Desk Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kogi Guber Election Results Cancelled

LOKOJA — THE Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lokoja, yesterday, voided the April 14 election that returned Alhaji Ibrahim Idris as governor, and ordered fresh polls. MORE>>

AU Approves $100,000 For Slain Soldiers Families

ABUJA — FOLLOWING the killing of seven Nigerian soldiers in Darfur by rebel militia a fortnight ago, the African Union has approved the payment of $100,000 (about N12.5 million) to the family of each of the seven Nigerian soldiers killed recently by rebels in Darfur. MORE>>

Nigeria Still Highly Corrupt - World Bank

THE World Bank has told Nigeria not to claim victory over corruption yet as it is still a highly corrupt nation. The bank also said there was crisis in the country’s power sector due to poor investment in the sector. MORE>>

Court Stops Investigation Of Ibori

Twenty-four hours after President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua announced that he had authorised a visit to Nigeria by the London Metropolitan Police conducting a criminal investigation of Chief James Ibori, the Delta State government has secured a court injunction to halt the process. MORE>>

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

EHIRIM FILES CLASSIC: Amazano's Vegas

AMAZANO'S VEGAS

by

Ambrose Ehirim


Dandy Apakama (L) and I do justice to the home-made dishes prepared by Amazano women as we recall our boyhood days in Las Vegas. Ehirim Files Images, April 2003


Onye rara oga ndowara n'obu, kwambe! Ochichara rara oga ndowara n'obu, kwambe! Ochichara ghoo oghu, okuko erie ya. Okuko ghoo oghu, egbe eburu ya. Egbe ghoo oghu, egbe gbagbue ya. Egbe ghoo oghu, akpo isi ya oku. Oku ghoo oghu mmiri awunya ya. Mmirii gthoo oghu, ala amita ya. Ala ghoo oghu, ahihia erishie ya. Ahihia ghoo oghu, nd'yom asuchaa ya. Nd'yom ghoo oghu, atuwa hu ime. Ime ghoo oghu, amuta ya n'nwa. N'nwa nwa ghoo oghu, ele ihe aga ashi ya? ---AMAZANO FOLKLORE

AMAZING HOW TIME FLIES!

It is said "facts do not fade in memory, but feelings do." I believe my memory has not failed me since I can still recall most, if not all, of every detail in the heydays when I was growing up in Amazano.

The track roads we walked by and played along as we went down the stream to take a wash and fetch water for cooking. The woods and the "wilderness," its track roads with reptiles, amphibians, birds, and several other species of mammals peering out as we walked through.

The moonlight plays; hide and seek, and bedtime stories. The folklores and story telling. The civil war stories told by the elders and kinsmen. The petty gardening we did growing vegetables and fruits in our backyards.

The way we walked back and forth; from school to the marketplace, and from the marketplace to the football fields where we hanged out and "tapped leather" barefooted.

The town-crier who sounded his horn and announced meeting schedules or special engagements at dawn when the villagers had gone to sleep. The carnivals and Owu Festival which brought every indigene home to celebrate and jubilate on a unique custom and tradition amid flamboyant and colorful display. The dancers and the singers. The audience and the players. And, of course, the players of instrument. In the end, oso ike n'ado appears amid fanfare to mark a month-long festival finale.

Going to church was fun, too. The long walk to St. Mary's Catholic Church and one of very few occasions we had on shoes. The ink and paper, new book smell of Lamb Tales from Shakespeare, Eze Goes to School, The Only Son, Pride and Prejudice, Things Fall Apart, Animal Farm and Akin the Drummer Boy, read with kerosene burned lantern until saturated. The political discourse as some of us were attracted to the ideals of socialism, Karl Marx's social contract and egalitarian society,

Akanu Ibiam, Kwame Nkrumah, the enigmatic Patrice Lumumba and Alvan Ikoku which irritated our mothers on the ground we were suppose to be reading our books. The long walk to Orie Amigwe in the company of my brother Philip and cousin Anthony, my longest walk ever, coming back from Accra. The nutritional change when cassava (fermented, grounded, cooked and pounded), oil bean, garri, akpukoro, sliced cassava, aki beke (coconut), ihe aforoafoo (poridged meal) and iwo, dried or smoked fish became the staple food. The macho me beating up everybody and had no one else to beat up in my age group until my seniors taught me a lesson, beating the hell out of me.
The bell for cross-country and meal time in high school.

The school recess when we came back home to the village and had student meetings to stage ballroom dances, football matches and match-making as part of student day celebrations. The group walk at night to the sensational Ugbele Students Day ballroom dance on Christmas eve. The neo-pop culture--hippies, funk, soul, rhythm and blues, and all that music that turned us on. The afro hair cuts, slim-fitting stone wash jeans with wide bottoms, slim-fitting v-neck polo shirts and six inches three layers high heeled shoes. The fight over the girls and the games that followed. The letters we wrote to friends and well-wishers. The love letters and how the girls drove us crazy. The in-house parties just to get the girls belong. The "we miss you" letter from Accra and how the folks at Ruga Park mentioned my name at all times. The exchanged correspondences with my childhood buddies Teddy and Eugene Onyeji, and how they got me into adoring "The Mark of Zorro," "The Lone Ranger," "Flip Wilson Show" and "Bonanza" episodes on TV.

The homecoming of my cousin Edward from Accra. The agrarian and state of happy society where one common interest prevailed--where kindness and brotherly love were manifested in all of the everyday affairs of life.

The makeshift fireplace in our family's ime ibari , where we gathered to stay warm from the chilling harmattan season. The ifo, stories, roasted corn and ube.

The sharing of meat done by seniority as prescribed by omenala, custom. The spooky and ghost stories told by our elders. The warning that certain things were beyond reasoning, and that agwuisi and amadioha, the gods of our fathers are the alpha and omega. The family's gateway to Ezi Ukwu where the rite of passage was observed and upheld from boyhood to adolescence. The noted "facts" and myth we were descendants of Njaba, and that Eke Njaba must not be killed under any circumstances, or else, its burial would be done the same way we humans bury our dead. The music that turned me on and how I got into Fela Ransome Kuti's afro beat. The record changer and Fela's "Shenshema." The boogie nights.

The casual jobs at palm oil extraction plants and how we spent the money on what we wanted. The tedious, exhaustive farming work, raining season and the mood that came with it. The ploughing, hoeing and sowing.

The "boys will be boys" arguments and fights, and how scores were settled. The hangouts where we played double Dutch, trash talked with high dosage of gossip that was the order of the era.

The football match between Rangers International Football Club of Enugu and Mehala Football Club of Egypt. The talents of Chairman Christian Chukwu, Kenneth Ilodigwe, Stanley Okoronkwo, Ifeanyi Onyedika, Aloysius Atuegbu, John Egbonu, Dominic Ezeani, Emmanuel Okala, Adokie Amesiemeka, et etcetera.

The duel between Rangers International of Enugu and IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan which nearly erupted to a civil war between the Yoruba nation and the Igbo nation. The talents of Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Felix Owolabi, Kunle Awesu, Best Ogedengbe, etceteras.

The magnificent broadcaster, Ernest Okonkwo. The TV drama "Masquerade," "Village Headmaster," "Adio Family," "Bassey & Company," "Mirror in the Sun" and "Cockcrow at Dawn." The super-hits of Wrinkars Experience, Ofo The Rock Company, Ozo, Funkees, Strangers, Black Children, Wings, Apostles, Heads Funk, Action 13, One World, Doves, Sweet Breeze, Tony Okoroji, BLO, Bongos Ikwue, Ofege "Boys" and Founders 15. The celebrated DJs Alan B, Teddy Oscar Uju, Eric Uzoma, Benson Idonije, Pat Oke, Tony Ibegbuna, Jones Usen, Bode Seriki, Fred Oshodi and Jacob Akinyemi Johnson. The long vacations and the trip to Lagos, Apapa Amusement Park, Race Course, Bar Beach, National Theater, National Stadium, and Lagos International Trade Fare. I can call up nearly everything. So as it happened, Amazano was in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend, and I had no problem in recognizing all my old-school buddies.

I had planned to be in Las Vegas and had booked my reservation at MGM Grand almost a month ahead of time which indicated how determined and dedicated I was to see many of my extended relatives once again. As it happened, I had been a little bit exhausted from my preparations in Los Angeles to three and half hours of riding with my cousin John on the 110, 10 and 15 Freeways pulling up at the parking lot of MGM Grand Hotel. The driving was fun as I called many of the Vegas bound buddies to find out what they were up to regarding their preparations in a record-setting event--old-school reunion, Dike's wedding and the convention that would follow, thereafter.

When we finally pulled up at MGM Grand parking lot and checked-in at my hotel suite, I called Dike from my cell phone whose Vegas wedding would be taking place the next day.

Dike: "Hellooooooo!"

Me: "Dike, I'm on The Strip at MGM Grand Hotel. Where is the party tonight?"

Dike: "Ambu, the party is not too far from MGM Grand, just stick around and I will call you back in a few when I get the information."

Me: "Ngwanu!"

We took a tour of MGM and later settled on the ground floor where it was all happening. The Strip, Las Vegas Boulevard, has the same resemblance of the good-old-days when Suya Spot was real hot in Suru Lere. The kalukalu days when one thought gambling was a fine sport. Not anymore. But they got me, again. The habit I left long time ago--gambling and pub-crawling at Suya Spot--resurfaced on Friday evening, May 23, 2003.

John and I then strolled down the hallway, window-shopped, watched the tourists and gamblers and their telltales, took the stairs to the card playing and slot machine rooms. The place crowded around the clock with gamblers looking forward to a kill, the world of fantasy that may never arise, and a dream which may never be fulfilled got me into a different mood.

I located a spot, the spot that may change my whole world and pulled out twenty-dollar bills I had gotten from the change counter and began betting against the house. Sooner or later I will be a millionaire. We'll see. Winning is one thing and losing is another thing. In this case, I was winning and losing, never knew when to quit especially when the booze was free as served by the attendants who watched with keen interest your mood and pattern of play.

By the time I was served a third shot of free cognac, I was on the losing side and had began sweating in an air conditioned room, realizing it was about time to leave gambling alone or else the bill collectors will be stalking me and knocking on my door for months in Los Angeles. Vegas is fun, but gambling is not, notably when you are not winning. As it also happened, John, who never gambled his entire life, and whose Vegas trip coincided with his birthday was given a birthday presence in form of cash, in anticipation he would join the million dollar boys club. It turned ugly. He got more than he bargained for.

The trouble of the evening began when the attendants issued us what they called MGM Mirage Players Club member card for staying at MGM Grand Hotel. As explained, playing by inserting the card in the slot machine gives one more points and better chances of becoming a millionaire. That gesture encouraged me to give the series of machines another shot. The ebullient John joined me in the quest for new millionaires around the block. He was so excited with the card thing and stood up, played with more enthusiasm than noted professional gambler Bill Baxter. When it was all over and after losing some hundreds of dollars, a sweating and frustrated me emerged knowing gambling was not real.

We left MGM Grand for a ride on The Strip. The incredible night life, the amazing scenes of people drinking alcohol openly in public with no hassle, and the whores who were solicited without threat from the authorities makes Vegas the number one sin city in the world. As we drove by every block on The Strip, my phone rang like a hotline. Old-school buddies are in town and I need to get back to my hotel room, take a quick shower and get dressed for The Foothills bedroom community party.

We took a bite and headed to The Foothills. We reached the place about half an hour before midnight, and the approach to it was highly exciting and picturesque. The intensive Vegas heat at near hundred and something degrees at night, and the 24/7 city was bursting and jamming with people from all walks of life.

When we arrived at The Foothills, the music was loud, the crowd so excited and becoming of an anticipated reunion. Beautiful people and glamorous women were all over the place and voices of the whole multitude can be heard upon arrival. I had expected I may not be recognized. I was recognized by all. The admiration of the crowd, hugging and handshakes was demonstrated by almost constant cheers and greetings of "Hey man, I haven't seen you for a while!" "How have you been, man!" "You haven't changed, man!" You are still the same guy, man!" "I miss you, man!" "How's life been treating you, man!" "This is 'Explosive, man!" and the like. This gesture lasted well into the night with old-school vibrating in the background.

I was so well pleased with the appearances of my buddies I have not seen in ages, and the prospect of jubilation and happiness among them, that I want another reunion as soon as possible. We left the gala with the last song "I want you to be mine" and tailed Nnamdi who drove his entourage to Polo Sport, a stone throw from where I was staying at MGM Grand Hotel. Apparently we were all exhausted from long hours of driving and long hours of partying.

The time was 5 o'clock in the morning, very unholy of hours to stay up, not in Vegas though. We went back to MGM, to the ground floor where the world of fantasy was still bursting loose. I surfed the web, read my emails and went to sleep. I slept all morning to be awoken by a phone call from Nnamdi wondering why 'am "missing in action"--the wedding, more faces and reflections on the days we were growing up in Amazano.

Up and ready to roll, John and I dressed up, had something to eat and drove to Henderson Convention Center where Dike's wedding reception was to take place.

At Henderson Convention Center, the parking lot was nearly full with sharp-dressed young "fellas" who hung on the hallway, on the corners of the ballroom and who obviously came with their parents. Some of the kids, I have met in Los Angeles, while some I have not seen until this day. A new generation has sprang up.

I walked down the hallway to the lounge where mama Nnamdi was sitting waiting for her son to be back from some errands. We hugged and spoke at length. I lifted mama up and we walked to the ballroom, found a table where all of us--mama nnamdi, my brother, John, Nnamdi, Uchendu and Dandy--sat. As guests entered the ballroom, music from the DJ's box greeted them. The reception began with introduction of the bride and bridegroom with entourage of the maids and groomsmen. Dike was eulogized by his brother Benji while the bride Juliet's eulogy was delivered by cousin Ifeanyi.

On this beautiful Saturday afternoon, professionals from all aspects of life, friends of the bride and bridegroom, distant relatives and cousins gathered for cocktails--assorted drinks--food and conversations in the reception area. The ballroom was full to capacity according to Henderson Fire Department Safety Codes and Regulations.

Enter the party and celebration. There was no punk rock, hard rock, blues or funk. It was all old-school, egwu agba ochie, the kind of music that had made body and soul one while growing up in Amazano. We danced, stomped, sang to the tune of the music reflecting the emotions and feelings that we do live in a small world. That cousins, who once lived a walking distance away would be scattered all around the universe.

Then, the classic, Prince Nico Mbarga's "Sweet Mother" which turned everyone who grew up in that era loose. I could not resist it. Nnamdi and I lifted mama to the crowded dance floor and sprayed money on mama's face kind of stuff. We danced, and danced and danced!

I left Henderson Convention Center back to my hotel room to figure out what's next for the evening. Meanwhile, John, his friend, a twinkle little star he met that night and I, decided to check out the incredible night life at Mandalay Bay. A very huge place with many activities. Not only was this part of Vegas resorts and casinos more exciting, but I felt more relaxed among the patrons who were being their natural selves and not causing any havocs. Another perfect place which took me aback to the days we spent all night partying and pub-crawling at Yaba and Suru Lere.

We found a spot where a local musical ensemble was entertaining guests with Van Halen's smash hit "Jump." John ordered some drinks as we watched the musical ensemble display their talents.

I took a walk amidst gambling machines, series of pubs, curious gold diggers and call girls, then found another perfect place called Boogie Nights, a crowded night club that spinned 70's and 80's hit--"I'm a Pushover," "One Nation Under a Groove," "Le Freak C'est Shit," "All Around the World," "Get Down Get Funky, Get Loose," "It Makes You Feel Like Dancing," "Super Freak," "It's a Private Party," "Boogie Nights" and things like that.

We left Mandalay Bay around the most of unholy hours back to my hotel room looking forward to day three of Amazano's Vegas. Day three of Amazano's Vegas was actually one of my oft-longed for retreat when tired of the noise and contention of the day-to-day hassles and bumper-to-bumper traffic while I could enjoy the present, forget the past and be free from all anxiety. It was not to be so. But the phone kept ringing and more events popped up. After all, I'm in Las Vegas where the city never goes to sleep, remember? My retreat to be in a world of my own never came.

Seriously speaking, forget the retreat. I'm in Las Vegas anyway!

The city of lights and its incredible nightlife, Vegas rocks twenty-four hours around the clock. It was, also, a family reunion, time to mingle with loved ones and folks not seen in many, many years. I left my hotel room and drove on Las Vegas Boulevard heading east toward Main Street to downtown Las Vegas. Here, I saw the worst of the much celebrated city. I saw a very filthy town-crack-heads, homeless people, prostitutes and their likes throwing swear words I'd never heard before, not even "mad-dogging," the gang jargon from L.A.'s South Central Blood and Crip street gangs.

However, Vegas is not just the nightlife, casinos, clubs, whores and destitutes which appears to be the only cliché about the sin city that equals Los Angeles-Hollywood glitz. There are professionals who do their own thing besides the nightlife, gambling and stuff like that. Before my Vegas trip, I had thought, oh, if you live in Las Vegas, you must then be a gambler. Not really so. Of all nd'be anyi, my people that I encountered in the sin city, none had gambled, and none had attempted in taking the chance of becoming a new millionaire around the block. "Illusional," they would say.

Many professionals from all aspects of society who live in Las Vegas have no clue of what the nightlife is all about. They work hard for their money and retire to their respective bedroom communities. They believe gambling is just a world of fantasy, not even worth giving it a shot, of a tiny fraction, from their hard-earned dollars. It's not only "Vegas." Vegas's also a place where you work on your identity. There are medical doctors. real estate brokers, currency and future traders, pharmacists, bouncers, clerical engineers, structural engineers, software writers, sports recruiting agents, lawyers and so on and so forth who have never considered gambling as a profession and would never give it a thought.

So, when I met my beloved Amazano cousins who trooped from around the globe to Vegas not "Vegas," I learned Amazano's Vegas was not about gambling and things like that. It was all about reflections--family reunion, wedding, conventions and building community--that we live in a small world; and no matter what, and according to Diana Ross, "Someday We'll be Together."

This article originally was first published in The Igbo Network in May 2003.

News Desk Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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