Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ikemba Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Passes (1933-2011)

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi has died in a London hospital after a protracted illness following a stroke. He was 78. The ailing leader of the defunct Biafran Republic and  leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born on 4 November 1933 and died on the 25th of November, 2011.

At 13, his father sent him overseas to study in Britain, first at Epsom College, in Surrey and later earned a Masters degree in history at Lincoln College, Oxford University and returned to colonial Nigeria in 1956. In 1957 the Ikemba Nnewi joined the Nigerian Army as one of the first and few university graduates.  Ojukwu was among the 15 Nigerians officers out of the 250 officers the Nigerian Military Forces had then. After serving in the UN peacekeeping force in the then Congo under Maj.-Gen. Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojuwkwu was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1964 and was posted to Kano, where he was in charge of the 5 Battalion of the Nigerian Army.

On July 6, 1967, the then military Head of State, Col. Yakubu Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra in a bid to stop Ojukwu’s secessionist attempt. The war lasted 30 months and ended on Jan. 15, 1970. As the war was wearing out, Ojukwu went on exile and stayed away for 13 years. He was granted state pardon by President Shehu Shagari, a decision which was trailed by the deceased’s triumphant return in 1982.

Ojukwu's rise coincided with the fall of Nigeria's First Republic, formed after Nigeria, a nation split between a predominantly Muslim north and a largely Christian south, gained its independence from Britain in 1960. A 1966 coup led primarily by army officers from the Igbo ethnic group from Nigeria's southeast shot and killed Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a northerner, as well as the premier of northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello.

The coup failed, but the country still fell under military control. Northerners, angry about the death of its leaders, attacked Igbos living there. As many as 10,000 people died in resulting riots. Many Igbos fled back to Nigeria's southeast, their traditional home.

Ojukwu, then 33, served as the military governor for the southeast. The son of a knighted millionaire, Ojukwu studied history at Oxford and attended a military officer school in Britain. In 1967, he declared the region — including part of the oil-rich Niger Delta — as the Republic of Biafra. The new republic used the name of the Atlantic Ocean bay to its south, its flag a rising sun set against a black, green and red background.

But instead of sparking pan-African pride, the announcement sparked 31 months of fierce fighting between the breakaway republic and Nigeria. Under Gen. Yakubu "Jack" Gowon, Nigeria adopted the slogan "to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done" and moved to reclaim a region vital to the country's coffers. Despite several pushes by Biafran troops, Nigerian forces slowly strangled Biafra into submission. Caught in the middle were Igbo refugees increasingly pushed back as the front lines fell. The enduring images, seen on television and in photographs, show starving Biafran children with distended stomachs and stick-like arms.
Despite the efforts of humanitarian groups, many died as hunger became a weapon wielded by both sides.
"Was starvation a legitimate weapon of war?" wrote English journalist John de St. Jorre. "The hard-liners in Nigeria and Biafra thought that it was, the former regarding it as a valid means of reducing the enemy's capacity to resist, as method as old as war itself, and the latter seeing it as a way of internationalizing the conflict." The images fed into Ojukwu's warnings that to see Biafra fall would see the end of the Igbo people.

"The crime of genocide has not only been threatened but fulfilled. The only reason any of us are alive today is because we have our rifles," Ojukwu told journalists in 1968. "Otherwise the massacre would be complete. It would be suicidal for us to lay down our arms at this stage."
That final massacre never came. Ojukwu and trusted aides escaped Biafra by airplane on Jan. 11, 1970. Biafra collapsed shortly after. Gowon himself broke the cycle of revenge in a speech in which said there was "no victor, no vanquished." He also pardoned those who had participated in the rebellion.

He later wrote his memoirs and lived the quiet life of an elder statesman until he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo for the presidency in 2003. Obasanjo served as a colonel in the Biafran war and gave the final statement on rebel-controlled radio announcing the conflict's end. He leaves behind his Wife, Bianca Ojukwu (Onoh) and children.

Tribute by Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, Widow Of Late Dim Chukwuemka Odumegwu-Ojukwu

How do I sum up 23 years in one page? I don't know. How do I describe you? I cannot. Not in any depth. Not for anybody else - you were my husband, my brother, my friend, my child. I was your queen, and it was an honour to have served you.

You were the lion of my history books, the leader of my nation when we faced extinction, the larger-than-life history come to my life - living, breathing legend. But unlike the history books, you defied all preconceptions. You made me cry from laughter with your jokes, many irreverent. You awed me with your wisdom. You melted my heart with your kindness. Your impeccable manners made Prince Charming a living reality. Your fearlessness made you the man I dreamt of all my life and your total lack of seeking public approval before speaking your mind separated you from mere mortals.

Every year that I spent with you was an adventure - no two days were the same. With you, I was finally able to soar on wings wider than the ocean. With you I was blessed with the best children God in heaven had to give. With you, I learnt to face the world without fear and learnt daily the things that matter most. Your disdain for money was novel - sometimes funny, other times quite alarming.

It mattered not a whit to you. Your total dedication to your people - Ndi-Igbo - was so absolute that really, very little else mattered. You never craved anybody's praise as long as you believed that you were doing right and even in the face of utmost danger, you never relented from speaking truth to power - to you, what after all, was power? It was not that conferred by the gun, nor that stolen from the ballot box. No. You understood that power transcended all that. Power is the freedom to be true to yourself and to God, no matter the cost.

It is freedom from fear. It is freedom from bondage. It is freedom to seek the wellbeing of your people just because you love them. It is the ability to move a whole nation without a penny as inducement nor a gun to force them. When an entire nation can rise up for one person for no other reason than that they love him and know he is their leader - sans gun, money, official title or any strange paraphernalia - that is power.

To try to contain you in words is futile. You span the breadth of human experience - full of laughter, joy, kindness and sometimes, almost childlike in your ability to find something good in almost everyone and every situation. You could flare up at any injustice and in the next instant, sing military songs to the children. You could analyse a situation with incredible swiftness and accuracy. In any generation, there can only be one like you. You were that one star. You were a child of destiny, born for no other time than the one you found yourself in.

Destined to lead your people at the time total extinction was staring us in the face. There was no one else. You gained nothing from it. You used all the resources you had just to wage a war of survival. You fought to keep us alive when we were being slaughtered like rams for no reason. Today, we find ourselves in the same situation but you are not here. You fought that we might live. The truth is finally coming out and even those who fought you now acknowledge that you had no choice. For your faithfulness, God kept you and brought you home to your people.

You loved Nigeria. You spent so much of your waking moments devising ways through which Nigeria could progress to Tai-Two!!! You were the eternal optimist, always hoping that one day, God will touch His people and give us one Vision and the diligence to work towards the dream. It never came to pass in your lifetime. Instead, the disaster you predicted if we continued on the same path has come home to roost. You always saw so clearly. Your words are indelibly preserved for this generation to read and learn and perhaps heed and turn. You always said the dry bones will rise again. But you always hoped we would not become the dry bones by our actions. Above all, you feared for your own people, crying out against the relentless oppression that has not ceased since the end of the war and saddened by the acceptance of this position by your own people. In death, you have awakened the spirit that we thought had died. Your people are finally waking up.

At home, you were the father any child would dream of having. At no point did our children have to wonder where you were. You were ever at their disposal, playing with them, teaching them of a bygone era, teaching them of the world they live in and giving them the total security of knowing you were always present.

In mercy, God gave me a year to prepare for the inevitable. I could never have survived an instant departure. In mercy, God ensured that your final week on earth was spent only with me and that on your last day, you were back to your old self. I cannot but thank God for the joy of that final day - the jokes, the laughter, the songs. It was a lifetime packed into a few hours, filled with hope that many tomorrows would follow and that we would be home for Christmas. You deceived me. You were so emphatic that we would be going home. I did not know you meant a different home.

The swiftness of your departure remains shocking to me. You left on the day I least expected. But I cannot fight God. He owns your life and mine. I know that God called you home because every other time it seemed you were at death's door, you fought like the lion that God made you and always prevailed. In my eyes, even death was no match for you. But who can say 'no' to the Almighty God? You walked away with Him, going away with such peace that I can only bow to God's sovereignty. Your people have remembered. The warrior of our land has gone. The flags are lowered in your honour. Our hearts are laden with grief.

But I will trust that the living God who gave you to me will look after me and our children. Through my sadness, the memories will always shine bright and beautiful.

Adieu, my love,
My husband,
My lion,
Amuma na Egbe Igwe,
Odenigbo Ngwo.
Eze-Igbo Gburugburu,
Ibu dike.
Chukwu gozie gi,
Chukwu debe gi.
Anyi ga afu na omesia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alex Ibru dies at 66

Lagos - The Chairman and Publisher of The Guardian, Chief Alex Ibru, is dead. The deceased died on the day his wife, Maiden, was marking her birthday. According to a statement by the newspaper, Ibru gave up the ghost at about 2.30pm yesterday. Aged 66, the deceased had been sick for a while.
Born on March 1, 1945, Ibru, the youngest of the famous Ibru brothers who hailed from Agbhara-Otor, in today’s Delta State was noted for entrepreneurship.

He attended the Yaba Methodist Primary School (1951-1957), Ibadan Grammar  School (1958-1960), Igbobi College, Lagos (1960-1963) and the University of Trent (formerly Trent Polytechnic) (1967-1970) where he studied Business Economics. After working briefly in the family business under the tutelage of his older brother and patriarch, Michael Ibru, Alex Ibru launched solely and soon became one of the most successful young businessmen in the country.

He founded The Guardian in 1983 with a mission to make it one of the five best English language newspapers in the world. Ibru was the chairman of Trinity Foundation, the vehicle through which he did his massive philanthropy, giving support to the poor and the needy. He was also the founder of the Ibru Centre which promotes ecumenism and religious harmony.

The deceased was a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club International. He was minister of Internal Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and member of the highest Provisional Ruling Council (PRC), between 1993 and 1995. As minister, he introduced far-reaching reforms in the management of Nigeria’s prisons and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).

He left the late Gen. Sani Abacha-led government on principle, after which an attempt was made on his life, allegedly on the orders of the ruling junta. The case on that attempted murder had been moved to Supreme Court.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jonathan Tasked on Multi Million Entertainment Intervention Fund

Calabar - Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON); Chief Tony Okoroji has made a 0passionate plea to President Goodluck Jonathan to take urgent steps to save the Entertainment Industry Intervention Fund which the President announced last year with so much fanfare. Chief Okoroji who presented the Lead Paper at the Colloquium of the National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST) on Wednesday, October 26 at the Cultural Centre Complex in Calabar held the packed audience, made up of senators, commissioners, permanent secretaries and culture administrators from all the states of the federation, spell bound for close to 45 minutes.

Leading three other discussants from different Nigerian universities to x ray the theme of the colloquium, Nigerian Traditional Music: A Vehicle for Economic Transformation and Unity, Chief Okoroji, a former President of PMAN said,“Some of us participated in the discussions that led to the institution of the intervention fund, but suddenly, the falcon can no longer hear the falconer. I have been invited to a few meetings from which I have come out with the belief that those charged with administering the fund are not quite sure what they are supposed to do.

“I have very good reason to fear that eventually those who will access the fund are not those for which the fund was established and those who truly need the fund will never smell it. In the industry, there is growing disappointment and peculating conclusion that the intervention fund which created so much initial buzz is after all an election gimmick and money for the boys. No one else has the muscle to change that growing feeling than President Jonathan himself. He needs to personally and quickly intervene in the intervention fund before it becomes an albatross. He needs to give the marching orders to his team to take charge and ensure that the solemn promise he made to the entertainment community is kept”

In his paper, Chief Tony Okoroji, author of the book, Copyright & the New Millionaires and one of the nation’s foremost experts on intellectual property dwelt extensively on issues of intellectual property rights and collective management of rights in the digital age. He praised individual Nigerian musicians and producers for their hard work and enterprise which he says has now made Nigeria a significant force in world contemporary music.

He argued however that to sustain this position and harness it to provide jobs for the teaming masses of the unemployed in Nigeria and contribute to national development, the nation needs to urgently articulate the way forward and provide the necessary institutional support that will drive private sector projects.   
Chief Okoroji disagreed with those who have derisively described what is now termed Naija hip pop as a poor imitation of the American hip-pop culture.

 He traced the development of the burgeoning popular music culture in Nigeria citing examples to conclude that the present day Nigerian popular music forms do not originate from America but have their roots in traditional Nigerian music. According to him, it is indeed American hip-pop culture which is traceable through Soul music, Blues and Jazz music to the Negro Spirituals taken from West Africa to America by the slaves uprooted from our shores. He declared that no one should be surprised by any similarity in the forms as they share the same ancestry and genes.  

Observing that there is serious disconnect between the Federal Ministry of Culture and the private sector practitioners the ministry was set up to support, Chief Okoroji called on the Minister of Culture to reposition the ministry and make it more relevant to the needs of the nation. He decried the abject lack of resources to actualize important projects in the cultural sector saying that things may have been different if the National Endowment for the Arts was up and running.

In the words of Chief Okoroji: “I believe that everyone in the cultural sector in Nigeria ought to be thoroughly embarrassed that more than 20 years after the promulgation of the National Endowment Fund for the Arts Decree (Decree No. 52 of 1991: now the National Endowment Fund for the Arts Act) the fund remains a mirage and people in the cultural sector still grope around for funding when an important source of funds is there. The Honourable Minister of Culture needs to act now. To my mind, if his only achievement in office is to get the National Endowment Fund for the Arts up and running well, he would have left his footprints in the sands of time”

Among those present at the Colloquium were Senator Hassan Barata, Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Senator Ahmed Sani Stores, Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, His Royal Highness, Etubom Bob Duke representing the Obong of Calabar and Mr. Gabe Onah, Special Adviser on Tourism to the Governor of Cross River State. The Colloquium proceedings were chaired by Chief Segun Olusola.

 Source: COSON

U.S Feds Seize Millions worth of Assets from Son of Equatorial Guinea President

The U.S. government may soon own one of Michael Jackson's white gloves, $530,000 Ferrari and a $30 million Malibu estate if it succeeds in seizing them from the son of a corrupt African dictator. In a case kept hidden from public view until last week, the U.S. Department of Justice says it's pursuing more than $32 million in assets from Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, whose father Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled over oil-rich Equatorial Guinea for 32 years -- and has been accused by authorities around the world of illicitly siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars for himself and his family.

A 2010 U.S. Senate report detailed how Obiang the younger, known as Teodorin, had moved $110 million into the United States through shell companies and anonymous transactions, propping up a hard-partying lifestyle that included spending $30 million on one of Malibu's largest mansions and a $38.5 million Gulfstream V jet. Obiang was also known to collect supercars like they were Hot Wheels, with at least 32 cars and motorcycles at one point, including eight Ferraris, two Bugatti Veyrons and a $2 million Maserati.
 While the U.S. Department of Justice has said a probe into Obiang had been ongoing since 2004, the first signs of legal trouble for Obiang came from France, where authorities seized 11 of his cars last month, including the $2 million Maserati MC-12. While the Justice Department had sought seven cars from Obiang in California, its latest request mentions only one -- a 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO.

The documents unsealed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles offer the first glimpse of the case built by the Justice against Obiang, accusing him of spending more than $100 million garnered from extortion and embezzlement in Equatorial Guinea. The feds also revealed how Obiang bought $3.2 million worth of memorabilia from Michael Jackson's estate earlier this year, including the white crystal-studded glove Jackson wore on the "Bad" tour, the MTV Music Video Award for "We Are The World" and several of the life-size figurines Jackson used to keep at his Neverland Ranch.

So far, no representatives of Obiang’s have officially responded to the government's bid, and the Justice Department has not yet responded to a request for comment from Yahoo! Autos. Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group long critical of inaction against the Obiang family, has called on the United States and other countries to move against the clan despite their control over a key oil supply.

“The move to freeze Teodorín’s assets in the U.S. is overdue,” said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “But the real test will be if the U.S. government vigorously pursues the inquiry to its conclusion without letting diplomatic or business ties stand in the way.”

Source: Yahoo (Justin Hyde)

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Fall of Muammar Gaddafi: what next?

Col. Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s ousted dictator was killed on Thursday, October 20, 2011 following his capture by troops from the National Transitional Council in his hometown of Sirte.  Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril confirmed the report of his capture and eventual death at a news conference.
Gaddafi’s death ended 42 years and 49 days of his rule in Libya, where he supported radical groups, amassed chemical weapons and missiles, started wars, and orchestrated atrocities. He was one of the longest ruling non-royal leader in the world and the longest ruling Arab leader. He came to power in a bloodless coup at the age of 27 in 1969.
Born to a Bedouin Family in Sirte in 1942, Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi attended a Muslim elementary school far from his home. He was exposed to the events in the Arab world in the aftermath of World War II and these events influenced him profoundly, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser was his hero and he took part in anti-Israeli protests during the Suez War between Great Britain, Israel, and France against Egypt in 1956.
He joined the Libyan military academy in 1961. Graduated in 1966, and had risen to the rank of lieutenant before seizing power in 1969.

Inspired by Nasser and the new brand of Arab nationalism, Gaddafi led a small group of junior military officers in staging a successful bloodless coup d’état against King Idris while the king was in Turkey. The monarchy was abolished and the Kingdom of Libya became the Libyan Arab Republic.
He abolished the Libyan Constitution of 1951, invented his own system of government, and planned an economy based on socialist ideals with revenues from large reserves of natural resources.  His anti-western stand and socialist based policies made him popular and a welcome change in a country steeped in poverty.
He shut down western military bases in Libya, criminalized dissent and shared power only with his family and closest confidants. He expelled Italian settlers in 1970, replaced the calendar with an Islamic Calendar, renaming the month of August and July, Hannibal and Nasser.
He became increasingly eccentric, styling himself as ‘brother leader,’ ‘guide of the revolution,’ etc. He retained an all-female team of bodyguards. He erected a luxurious Bedouin tent in his palace grounds and the tent is erected anywhere Gaddafi is lodging even on trips abroad.
 In 1973, a law denying freedom of expression was enacted, which made dissenting illegal. Political opponents were publicly executed and members of the Islamist fundamentalist were executed in the 70s. Dissidents abroad were also targeted and many killed by Libyan agents.
An unsuccessful attempt was made in 1986 to replace English with Russian as the primary foreign language.
Gaddafi and his family controlled most of Libya’s industry and trade and amassed great wealth. Oil revenues and a small population combined with high education index made Libya the most successful African country in terms of GDP. However, a large number of the population lives in poverty especially in the eastern part of the country.
In the first 15 years of Gaddafi’s rule, the number of Libyan doctors per 1000 citizens increased sevenfold. Infant mortality rate went from 125 per 1000 births to 15.04 per 1000 births during his reign, making Libya the best country for a newborn in Africa.
He was obsessed with the notion of Arab nationalism and wanted to create a great Islamic state comprising of all the countries of North Africa, he tried to merge with Chad and Sudan.
He was instrumental in Muslims taking power in Sudan in 1971 and tried unsuccessfully to engage in battle with Israel and return the entire country to the Palestinians, which was his goal. In 1995, he expelled some 30,000 Palestinians living in Libya in response to the Palestinian Liberation Organizations peace negotiations with Israel.
He sponsored Idi Amin, gave him the idea of the expulsions of Indian-Ugandans, and maintained a close relationship with him, sending Libyan soldiers to fight for him against Tanzania. He gave him refuge in Libya in 1979 after his fall from power.
He financed Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military junta in Ethiopia that was responsible for one of the deadliest genocides in recent history. He established a school called the World Revolutionary Center, and notable graduates have seized power in other African countries such as Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso; Idriss Deby of Chad; Charles Taylor of Liberia;  and he had close ties with Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Yugoslavia.
He backed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia and developed a relationship with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chaves.
In 1998, Gaddafi shifted focus from Arab nationalism to Pan-Africanism and African Unity. He wanted to create a “United States of Africa.”  In a speech to followers in September 1998, Gaddafi said, "I had been crying slogans of Arab Unity and brandishing standard of Arab nationalism for 40 years, but it was not realised. That means that I was talking in the desert, I have no more time to lose talking with Arabs...I am returning back to realism...I now talk about Pan-Africanism and African Unity." He added,
"The Arab world is finished...Africa is a paradise...and it is full of natural resources like water, uranium, cobalt, iron, manganese…"
Middle Eastern programs were removed from the media schedule replaced with programs on black issues such as slavery. The map of the Arab league was replaced with a map of Africa on television background. He courted African warlords and dictators, providing aid and refuge when needed. He provided military support for President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic in 2001and signing a deal giving Libya a 99-year lease to exploit all of the country’s natural resources.  He rescued Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and acquired numerous luxurious properties from the deal.
His strong military and financial support of African despots gained him several allies across the continent and over 200 African traditional rulers and kings were present to celebrate him and proclaim his as “King of Kings of Africa” in 2008 since he had been in power longer than any African King or traditional ruler. In 2009, he was elected as the head of the African Union.
He supported the Iranian Revolution and several militant anti-western organizations around the world. He gave arms to the Irish Republican Army, supported the Red Brigades, and began financing the IRA in 1986. In April 1984, a British policewoman, Yvonne Fletcher, was killed by Libyan diplomats who shot at refugees protesting the execution of two dissidents in London. This incident led to end of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Libya.
In 1986, the United States bombed Libya leading to fractious relations between the two countries. Gaddafi public stated his support for anti US government organizations and financed the Nation of Islam and Al-Rukn. Suicide squads were trained to attack American and European interests.
In 1988, he orchestrated the bombing of a Pan Am flight from London Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland killing 259 people on board and 11 people from the town and destroying several houses.
However, Gaddafi changed his tune after the fall of the Soviet Union and began to repair Libya’s image in the west. He extradited the two Libyan intelligence agents indicted for planting the bomb on the ill-fated plane. The United Nations removed sanctions against Libya and Gaddafi agreed to pay the victim’s families.
He began to face growing opposition for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in the 1990s; he issued the first arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden in 1998. He gave counter-terrorism intelligence to western agencies and the links deepened during the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. He denounced the September 11 attacks on the US.
While he had offered to stop his active weapons of mass destruction program in 1999, he admitted to having kept the program in 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein but offered to end the program because of the influence of the Iraq war on him and he would prefer to focus on peace.
Gaddafi’s apparent commitment to the war on terror helped in restoring relations between Libya, the US, and the UK. The US went back to full diplomatic relations with Libya and took it off its list of state harboring terrorists. While a number of people questioned his motives, with some speculating that he was afraid of meeting the same fate as Saddam Hussein and others wondering if he was cozying up to the west to have oil sanctions against Libya removed. 
In 2008, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice became the first high ranking US official to meet with Gaddafi, she persuaded him to pay the balance of the victim’s compensation.
President Bush signed an executive Order restoring the Libyan government's immunity from terrorism-related lawsuits and dismissing all of the pending compensation cases.
Gaddafi took part in a 2009 G8 summit in Italy as chairman of the African Union, his handshake with President Barack Obama was the first greeting between Gaddafi and a sitting US president. He also met with Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman.
The only man convicted of the Pan Am flight bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released on compassionate ground in Scotland. His subsequent welcome by Gaddafi and Libyans who hailed him as a hero drew condemnation from western leaders.
On February 17, 2011, protesters against Gaddafi’s rule started marching in Tripoli and other towns following the examples of similar protests in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia. As the protests gained significance and momentum, Gaddafi’s response was to quash the protesters.
Military forces killed protesters in the street, beating and shooting them. His aggressive stance created dissent in the government with key allies resigning and fleeing the country.
He fled into hiding while forces loyal to him fought fierce battles against rebels fighting to depose him. Amid calls from the international community for him to resign, Gaddafi insisted that he was a beloved leader and he will conquer the rebel forces. Due to the killings the rebels took up arms and the protests turned violent.
The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution freezing Gaddafi’s assets and restricting his travels and that of his close associates and family. However, forces loyal to him rallied and fought on, gaining some ground and beating the rebels back. Due to airstrike launched against the rebels, the UN enforced a no-fly zone over Libya but this proof unsuccessful and on March 23, a NATO operation to aid the people of Libya and to prevent further bloodshed was launched.
In August, the rebels overwhelmed forces loyal to Gaddafi in Tripoli, capturing key properties and members of the inner circle including his spokesman and killing one his sons. A number of Gaddafi’s family, including his wife of 40 years and daughter fled to Niger but the whereabouts of Gaddafi remained unknown.
Sirte was one of the few remaining Gaddafi strongholds since the rebel forces won the battle for Tripoli on the August 21, while there had been indications that Gaddafi might be hiding in his hometown there had been no confirmation.
In the early hours of Thursday, a rebel fighter found him in a hole by the roadside, in the video released, he could be heard pleading for his life, and minutes later, he was dead.
As Libyans took to the street to celebrate what is being called a turning point in Libya’s history and a sure victory for the opposition. The question remains, what next?

 by Yetunde Adurota, contributing editor Trendy Africa Media

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Okoroji, Onwenu SAGA: fallout of Christy Essien’s Interment

If I was blessed with telepathic powers, I would probably be consoling late Christy Essien in her grave due to the rancor that has emanated from the funeral activities of her passing. What I have done here is to outline the published communications between Tony Okoroji, Chritie Essien and other industry watchers. My only surprise is that those involved have been respected senior professionals in an industry that shaped me and gives me so much pride daily. This is the reason why we have chartered accountants and Attorneys. If anyone has a grouse with expenses, hire an accountant to work out the income and expenses report as well as a balance sheet. Let the Attorneys Judge with the facts on ground.  Everyone has contacts with the press in Nigeria who will be glad to release reports that will surely make headlines.  Well, read the following and be your own Judge.

Tony Okoroji, NG (October 18, 2011) - Onyeka Onwenu was never elected Chairman of the Christy Essien-Igbokwe Burial Committee. She is not Chairman of the sub-committee on finance. Throughout the burial activities, she was chairman of nothing and made little positive creative contribution towards the organization of the events that I can remember. Onyeka was never appointed auditor to the committee. Indeed, she did not attend any meeting of the committee until the events had been designed and the activities had gathered momentum. Then, she surfaced and the great camaraderie we enjoyed in the committee disappeared. Onyeka found faults with everything.  At one point, she wanted to be the only speaker at the symposium. At another, she wanted to be both MC and performer at the tribute night and must sing last! She fought in vain to stop the musical stampedes that took place very successfully in Akwa Ibom and Anambra and tried to truncate the special rendition of the national anthem done by a younger colleague, Eva Ogoro at the tribute night. Of course, everyone saw her in Lagos wherever the cameras and bright lights were on but when in my opinion, it truly mattered, “Madam Probity” was nowhere to be found. Onyeka Onwenu who suddenly loves Christy more than anyone else in the world never attended Christy’s burial in Awka. 
I do not recall that Onyeka was at any time appointed spokesperson by the committee. Sadly, my dear sister who likes to talk about democracy and the will of the people nominated and elected herself to the position and set about to drag the widely celebrated burial of our colleague, Christy, into unnecessary controversy and to tarnish the image of the good people who labored so hard to make it succeed.
I have read Onyeka Onwenu’s tirade against me spread over the internet and published in Vanguard Newspaper of October 14, 2011. I have wondered why with her experience and a few months to her attaining the age of sixty, she would embark on this reckless and self destructive journey. Onyeka never spoke to me nor did she seek any clarification from me before spreading her venom. I am not quite sure but I have a few guesses as to what she is after and why without any provocation, she is so trigger happy and desperate to shoot my reputation down. I have had great patience with Ms. Onwenu. This time, she has crossed the line and I have asked my lawyers to take appropriate action and I will defend myself like I have done many times before.
Having briefed my lawyers, I would have chosen to keep quiet. I have decided to issue this detailed statement because of the nature of the spread of misinformation in the digital age and because of a serious concern for the feelings of the different persons who kindly gave us badly needed assistance, the thousands who happily participated in the events and those who prayed for our success. It is also important that I reassure the many young people in our industry who look up to me. I want them to know that despite the madness in Nigeria, some of us strive to live up to the values that we preach. I am also giving these details because there are those who know the truth and who owe it to me and to posterity to timely speak out and lay this matter to rest but have chosen not to. For obvious reasons, I am deeply pained to have to join issues with Ms Onwenu in public but if I do not do so now, many may say, “there is no smoke without fire” I did not start this and have no interest in seeking vain glory and would have had no need to discuss these details if the present circumstances were not foisted on me.
1 hereby state categorically that I do not have one naira belonging to the Christy Essien-Igbokwe Burial Committee. In all, the sum of thirteen million naira was passed through me to the committee: a ten million naira cheque from Akwa Ibom State Government and three million naira in cash from Cross River State. Both were handed over to the committee. I did not demand neither did I receive any commission, honorarium, token or compensation for obtaining the money. I was not paid a penny for the over two months of back breaking work that I did to make sure that we kept the promise I made on behalf of the committee that Christy Essien-Igbokwe would be buried like a queen. Indeed, I spent substantial amount of personal funds to ensure the success of a project which I believed in and which despite the attempt to stain it will remain a watershed moment in the history of events organization in Nigeria. I never was a signatory to the Committee’s account and was not even a member of the finance committee and there was no key decision I took without obtaining the authorization of the Chairman of the committee, Dr. Austin Izagbo. At the end of the burial, I submitted very comprehensive financial reports on behalf of the two sub committees that I headed
I was only drafted by the committee to help with fund raising when it became clear that the entire project was about to collapse because the Contact Committee of which Ms. Onwenu was a member, had failed to raise any money. At every meeting all I heard from Onyeka was how she was ‘in touch with the First Lady’ A good number of us including Austin Izagbo and Bisi Olatilo put in significant time and personal funds towards the success of the burial. I do not know of any money that Onyeka contributed towards the project. When Onyeka Onwenu sings I celebrate her because she is a very good singer but being a good singer is not a licence to act without self control and without any consideration for the consequences of your actions on others.    
I am a very busy person and did not seek to be part of the Christy Essien-Igbokwe Burial Committee. I was invited to the committee by Christy’s husband, Edwin. Despite the size of the committee and my protestations, I was requested by the members to head two key sub committees: the Ceremonial sub Committee and the Publicity sub Committee. The ceremonial committee was charged with designing and executing the events and the Publicity Committee with promoting the activities. I was warned by friends of the high risk of my name being tarnished.  I ultimately agreed to undertake the assignments because I believed in the cause but I warned everyone in the committee that I did not want to be part of any scandal.
The committees worked for weeks without one naira from anywhere. As Chairman of the Publicity Committee, I tapped on the substantial goodwill I enjoy with the media and I was answered positively and comprehensively. As a result of the work of my committee, over one hundred million naira in direct advertising was given to the burial activities by diverse media institutions in Nigeria free of charge, not to speak of the massive amount of editorial support, something that had never happened. I will never stop expressing my gratitude to the Nigerian media for their generosity. Among the several media friends I personally pleaded with on the phone were Mr. Tony Onyima, Editor-in Chief of the Sun; Mr. Sam Amuka Pemu, Publisher of Vanguard; Mr. Demola Osinubi, Managing Director of the Punch; Mr. Kunle Bakare, Publisher of Encomium Weekly; Mr Azuh Arinze, Publisher of Yes Magazine, Mr. Olisa Adibua of Beat, Classic and Naija FM; Mr. Lekan Ogubanwo, the Permanent Secretary in charge of LTV, Mr. Bola Agboola, the FRCN Director of Marketing, etc.  I personally went to plead with the leadership of TVC, met with Chief Steve Ojo, owner of Galaxy TV and spoke with my friends at NTA, AIT, Channels, etc.
At the editorial and reportorial levels, I continuously spoke with countless journalists. Those I could not speak with, I wrote letters to. I invited a number of crack journalists to join the Publicity Committee and was constantly on the ‘neck’ of friends like Nat Biefoh Osewele of the Sun, Nonye Ben Nwankwo of the Punch, Charles Okogene of Independent, Kabir Garba of the Guardian, Fred Onyeka Nwalue of Metro FM, Patience Okeafor of Galaxy, Alozie Uzoukwu of STV, Ifeoma Oti &Jasmine Egeonu of AIT, Hazeez Balogun of Compass, Azuh Amatus of Entertainment Express, Ayo Lawal of PM News, Tunde Laiwola of LTV, Emeka Nnamani of Ray Power FM, etc.
While I had a number of good journalists on the Publicity Committee who had been asked to write stories to promote the events, it was clear that many of them were busy especially as there was no honorarium for the work they were asked to do. Ultimately, I had to write most of the press releases that drove the events. At the end of the day, I had written about 71 press releases which were circulated and published daily across the length and breadth of the nation. I once mailed a press release on the events to Ogbonna Amadi who is credited with the vile article published in Vanguard seeking to destroy me. A few minutes after receiving my mail, Mr. Amadi replied, warning me not to send any such “trash” to his box.
Because of lack of funds, I had to personally write the advert copies for radio, print and TV and supervised their production and syndication.  I coordinated the organization of two major and very successful press conferences, one at Niteshift Coliseum and the other at Teslim Balogun Stadium. As a result, the Christy Essien Igbokwe burial became the talk of the nation and everyone wanted to be part of it. While a good number of people in our committee commended the pain staking work we were doing to celebrate our colleague, Ms. Onyeka Onwenu sent out text messages to all and sundry complaining that Tony Okoroji was engaged in self promotion!
As Chairman of the Ceremonial Committee, I worked with a fantastic group to design the seven different events of the burial. With the kind assistance of the Lagos State Commissioner for Sports, Barrister Waheed Enitan Oshodi, I got Governor Fashola to allow us the use of Teslim Balogun Stadium, free of charge. I pleaded on the phone with the General Manager of the National Theatre, Malam Kabir Yusuf and a hall was given for the Symposium free of charge and the VIP foyer given for the Lying in State also free of charge. I drafted in  Segun Arinze, Baba Dee, Fred Edore, Azuh Amatus and Yinka Davies and I spoke with each of them several times every day no matter where in Nigeria I was. That was how the entertainment industry and the media were mobilized and the four teams that played the celebrated Match of the Stars in honour of Christy and the cheer leading ensemble were formed. Through Felix Awogu and Fred Edore, both of whom I will remain ever grateful to, the teams were fully kitted like professionals free of charge by Zenith Sports. With the approval of the committee, I invited Lagos lawyer and former police officer, Mr. Victor Eiremokhae to join the committee and to head the security team and without any compensation, he did a first class job.  Without asking how the Match of the Stars was conceived or put together, Ms Onyeka Onwenu arrived at Teslim Balogun Stadium on match day, smiling from cheek to cheek; to do the kick off, jumping around the stadium and posing for photographs everywhere. 
I assembled the artistes that gave the wonderful performances at the Red Carpet Tribute Night. When rehearsals could not begin because there was no money, I provided personal funds to the band to start rehearsals at African Shrine graciously made available to us by Yeni Kuti who showed great commitment to the success of the event. I was convinced that Frank Edoho of Who Wants to be a Millionaire was the right compere for the Tribute Night. I spoke with Frank countless times. It became clear that while Frank wanted to do the show, he had already been paid to do another event that night. Between Frank and I, we agreed that the only way that he would make the Coliseum event was to give a refund to those who had previously paid him. Frank will bear witness that I made significant personal contribution towards this refund. Nowhere in the financial statement to the committee did I mention this or seek that I be repaid. Indeed, the only person I informed about this was Dr. Izagbo after the event.
I was aware of the well known dispute between the Igbokwe family and Governor Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State. There was clear agreement between me and the Chairman of the Burial Committee, Dr Izagbo that we owed a duty to Christy to attempt to resolve the dispute. Consequently, I called a contact in Uyo who helped set up a meeting with Governor Akpabio. I invited my very good friend Bisi Olatilo who was then in Abuja and he graciously cut his trip to join me in Uyo. Ms. Onwenu was asked to travel with me. The two day meeting in Uyo with the governor was a turning point as it helped to clear much of the clouds that hovered over the entire project. Governor Akpabio showed the kind of simplicity, maturity and forgiving spirit not usually associated with people who occupy such positions in this part of the world. He went out of his way to help douse whatever tension existed between the Igbokwe and Essien families. Let me say that without Godswill Akpabio, the Christy Essien burial would have ended differently.
I have heard that a rumour has been activated that Governor Akpabio gave me millions to do the documentary on Christy. I suspect that this is a key reason for the long brewing hyper ventilation of Ms. Onwenu to boil over. I state categorically that The Story of the Lady of Songs which has been broadcast by several TV stations in the country was funded entirely by me and has financially set me back significantly. Contrary to Ms. Onwenu’s assertion, nowhere in the financial report sent by me to the Christy Essien- Igbokwe Burial Committee was one naira requested as cost of the documentary. I did the research and wrote the script and within two weeks, in the midst of the mind boggling challenges of organizing probably the most elaborate burial in Nigerian history, I traversed the country with a film crew led by an incredible Nigerian known as Razak Izebe, and day and night we shot the visuals across several states, edited on the road and produced the first ever cradle to grave story on any Nigerian artiste. Austin Izagbo and Bisi Olatilo will bear witness that Ms Onwenu was repeatedly requested to participate in the documentary and she declined.
It may be sour grapes or bad belle but Ms. Onwenu has set out to rubbish The Story of the Lady of Songs describing it in her internet and newspaper tirade as ‘substandard’ I have however received commendations on the work from several professionals whom I have great respect for. The so called “substandard” documentary has been seen by millions of Nigerians on several TV stations like AIT, Channels, TVC, Biscon, Galaxy, NTA, etc. It is arguably the most broadcast documentary in Nigeria in recent times. Many people have told me that through the documentary, they have learnt so much about the life of Christy Essien Igbokwe that they did not know. The documentary is today a national resource and an everlasting legacy to the memory of Christy.  It does not matter to me if Ms Onwenu develops a headache each time The Story of the Lady of Songs is broadcast but someone should remind her that Nigeria is a free country and that she has every right to do her own documentary on Christy or anyone else and get it shown wherever she may choose.
In the tirade in which Ms. Onwenu could not find one good thing done by me towards the Christy burial, she also complained about the use of COSON staff in the burial arrangements.  I am Chairman of the Board of COSON which is a non-profit making organization. Until her death, Christy Essien-Igbokwe was a member of COSON. I owe no apologies to Ms Onwenu for requesting the hard working staff of COSON to participate in the burial arrangements of our member. Indeed I commend all the COSON staff who made valuable contribution to the success of the events:- Vincent Adawaisi, Elizabeth Ike, Isa Haruna, Benice Eriemeghe, Yemi Oyerinde, etc. To the staff of COSON, Ms. Onwenu’s complaint would be a joke especially coming from ‘Madam Probity’ who regularly demands that the staff of COSON come to her private office to do her private work. Ms Onwenu likes to complain about everyone’s leadership but I am not aware of any complex organization that she has handled or any serious group that she has successfully led.
A few days to the commencement of the burial events, it was reported at a committee meeting that the only drinks that had been mobilized by the welfare committee apart from the Ragolis water kindly donated by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, were a few crates of Seven Up! I was alarmed and requested that I be allowed to intervene. I then called my friends at Nigerian Breweries Plc: Tony Agemonmen, Edem Vindah, Sampson Oloche and Ngozi Nkwoji and Nigerian Breweries stepped in and donated much of the drinks we received for the events.   
What I truly do not understand is how I could have taken the many wrong decisions which Ms. Onwenu alleges and yet the organization of the events of the Christy Essien Igbokwe burial have been widely acknowledged to be masterful and Onyeka Onwenu has basked in the glory of the success of the events. It beats me how she cannot see the contradiction.
Despite the fact that, I live in Lagos, for several weeks, I did not go home because of the Christy Essien burial. Home and office were a room in a modest guest house in Ikeja which I shared sometimes with four other persons, several laptops and internet modems. While Lagos slept, we were deep at work. It was from this room that 24 hours a day, we mobilized Nigerians and did the important organizational and media work that drove the celebrated events of the Christy Essien burial which Nigerians witnessed. Some of us went for days snatching fifteen minutes sleep here and there. Austin Izagbo visited Room 302 at least 25 times. Ken Olumese was there and so were Yinka Davies, Eva Ogoro, Kaka Igbokwe, Chika Okpala, Lemmy Jackson, Pal Akalonu, Cornel Udofia, Victor Eiremokhae, Kunle Akintayo, Aladave, Aniekan Umanah - the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and many others whose presence inspired us to successfully wrestle with the many challenges and tie together the hundreds of different elements that made the grand idea a reality. Onyeka Onwenu never came.
After Ms. Onwenu joined the committee and the atmosphere became soured, I realized that a concerted attempt was being choreographed to smear me. I had seen this happen before and I did not want to be part of it. Unknown to most members of the committee, on August 14, I wrote to Chief Edwin Igbokwe informing him that I had decided to quietly withdraw from the committee. I immediately commenced arrangements to travel with my friends, Patrick Doyle and Mahmoud Ali Balogun on an important business trip to South Africa from where I would proceed to the United States to join my wife. My plan was to remain in the US until the burial activities were over. Upon receiving my mail, Chief Igbokwe who was in Anambra, sent a mail pleading that I rescind the withdrawal. He followed it up with phone calls. (My mail and Chief Igbokwe’s reply are hereby forwarded)
On the prompting of Chief Igbokwe, Dr. Izagbo rushed to Room 302 where he found me at a meeting with Patrick and Mahmoud planning our trip. For several hours, we argued back and forth on the effect my withdrawal would have on the burial arrangements. I told Dr. Izagbo that I could no longer operate under the atmosphere that had developed. Dr. Izagbo who shares a common ancestry with my wife pleaded with me and prevailed on me to reverse my decision in the interest of the committee, assuring me that he would take charge and ensure that my name was not dragged to the mud.
 Once again, I have to pay lawyers to clear my name for doing massive unpaid work in furtherance of the beliefs that I hold. I have travelled this road before.  I thank God that each time, He has given me victory.  By His grace, it will happen again.      

Onyeka Onwenu - A BATTLE line appears to have been drawn between ace musician, Onyeka Onwenu and Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, boss, Chief Tony Okoroji as the former has asked the latter to give account of the N3 million donation made by the Cross River State Government to facilitate the burial rites of the departed songster, Christy Essien-Igbokwe.
In a letter sent to Okoroji, and made available to Weekend Groove, Onyeka is compelling Okoroji to step forward and clear the air by simply accounting for the whereabouts of the said money.
The letter reads in parts; Dear Tony Okoroji: “I write this letter with a pained heart, one full of disappointment at the news that you pocketed the N3 million donation made by the Cross River State Government to the Christy Essien Burial Committee for use towards her burial programme.
‘I understand that you took this decision because you claimed you were owed certain amounts for “unauthorised” expenditures made by you during the burial week. Unauthorised, because you did whatever you wanted and undertook actions against the decisions of the committee as a whole.
Actions such as the making of a documentary and the commissioning of satellite musical stampedes in other States. You headed sub-committees assigned to you but handled everything to the exclusion of other members and then you took over other sub-committees and insisted on imposing yourself on everyone else.
“I know you like to say that others were not up to doing the work but that is a misinformation that suits your imagination. How could they when you wouldn’t let them. How many meetings did you have with members of your subcommittees?
How many remedial meetings were called by the committee to redress some of your mistakes did you respect? You took delight in presenting us with a fait accompli, in setting programmes for events that were even outside your purview and jurisdiction. You even dared to impose pre-printed programmes that went against the committees decision.”
“We tolerated all these just so we can protect the integrity of the burial programme and protect all our reputations. You believed your own hype and thought that you were smarter and more cunning than anyone else. Did you not inform us that you made that substandard documentary on Christy with your own money, therefore, we had no right to complain.
Yet you have now turned around to charge the committee for it.  Let me note here that you used COSON staff, paid by copyright owners, something you have done, consistently over the period of your chairmanship and which you know or should know is patently wrong.
“You also said that the MCs you brought in for the tribute night at the NiteShift, against the committee’s decision had offered their services free of charge.
But now you are charging for their services. During our last committee meeting and in response to my objection to your “one man, devil may care” decision taking, your inability to be a team player and total lack of regard for the people you are supposed to work with, you accused me of having the capability of sending hired assassins after you.
What a reckless thing to say and how irresponsible are you. I decided to ignore you but on a second thought, you had projected onto me something that you were considering doing yourself. I have taken note of it.
“I would have been very happy to see you prove me wrong by doing the right thing. But what did you do, you confirmed our worst fears by taking money which did not belong to you. My dear brother, Tony, I wish that you would have a rethink and return the money.
It is blood money and would do you no good. You make us wonder if the reason you were part of Christy’s Burial Committee was to help give a befitting burial rites or to rip it off. You have an opportunity to prove your innocence.
“I understand that the first thing you said at the first committee meeting was that there must be no financial impropriety and now, you have eaten what you vomited. If indeed you are being owed, why not let the committee decide. What are you afraid of. It is not too late, you can still do the right thing. God bless you as you do so.”

PATRICK DOYLE - Friday October 14 was not a very good day for me. I woke up and my attention was drawn to a very sordid article in a national newspaper as well as calls from colleagues all over the world directing me to various sites on the internet carrying the same sordid tale in which the well known singer, Onyeka Onwenu, had poured invectives on Chief Tony Okoroji, Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) under whom Onyeka has served in different capacities for several years. I felt very bad because I know the facts in the matter which had been so badly twisted in the newspaper and internet stories to damage the name of a good man.
Tony Okoroji is my friend. I have cherished his friendship for a long time because he is an uncommon Nigerian. In a nation filled with all kinds of charlatans, Tony Okoroji is a genuine article. Always willing to donate his prodigious intellect and unrivalled organizational skills to any cause in which he has faith. His commitment to his friends is legendary.
Last year when I turned 50, Okoroji mobilized the entire entertainment industry to honour me with the biggest celebration of my life. A few days to the event, Chief Okoroji had to travel out of the country on an urgent assignment. From where he was, he never stopped calling everyone connected to the event to ensure that every detail of the celebration was in place. He had to fly a rather crazy route to arrive Lagos 2 hours to the show, drove straight to the Household of God venue and took charge. The result was a most memorable event executed by a master with style. Coincidentally, one of the several ‘A’ list artistes assembled by Chief Okoroji to honour me was Onyeka Onwenu.
Six years ago, I was present when Tony Okoroji, during a visit to Onyeka’s GRA Ikeja office, reminded her that she had spent 25 years on stage and that the event ought to be celebrated. For several weeks after, Okoroji did little else but mobilize Nigeria’s high and mighty to a weeklong mega celebration of Onyeka Onwenu’s career. I produced the documentary on Onyeka for that event and those who came to Planet One for All for Onyeka cannot forget the exquisite multimedia theme show designed and produced by Tony Okoroji with my assistance. For two weeks before the show, Okoroji burnt the midnight oil in my Maryland studio as he worked every night to produce the montage and inserts that made the show unique. Dinner at the event cost millions of naira. Okoroji paid the bill and for much of the cost of the Onyeka Onwenu weeklong celebration. No tickets were charged. Tony Okoroji was simply happy to honour someone he considered a talent and a friend.
When Chief Okoroji told me that the late Christy Essien’s husband, Edwin Igbokwe had asked him to serve on her burial committee, I told him not to accept. I know Tony and I know that he is a perfectionist. He does not like half measures. If he said yes, he would abandon everything else, throw himself at the burial and spare nothing to ensure that it was a roaring success. In a nation with many lazy people who would do nothing except for money, the Okoroji incredible work ethic confounds a lot of people. Those who do not know him well cannot comprehend how a man can give so much for nothing. Therefore, they assume that he must be on the take and that if they shake him up properly, rotten fruits would start falling.
One Sunny Neme who used to report for a major national newspaper must have acted with that assumption when with no facts he caused the paper to publish some injurious stories against Tony. When Tony Okoroji took his paper to court and got an award of 40 million naira in damages, a Tsunami occurred at the newspaper washing away Sunny Neme and a host of others. Let me say here that I warned Sunny Neme but he would not listen. Femi Lasode made the same mistake and bailiffs from the High Court in Ikeja visited his VGC home one early morning, carted away his glittering white jeep and everything else of value in his home. Lasode could not pay the damages for libeling Okoroji and he has practically been a recluse ever since. Charly Boy is smatter. Despite his devil-may-care outward appearance, when he saw the hand writing on the wall, he called me and begged me over and over to help him plead with Okoroji not to turn him to a Lasode. Oputa and I went to Tony and Tony warned him and forgave. There are many more of such stories. Tony Okoroji has little interest in building estates or buying flashy cars but he does not joke with his family name which he says is a legacy from his father which he must leave for his children.
I am familiar with Okoroji’s home. Despite his many years of holding several important positions, he lives a very simple lifestyle. Tony Okoroji who has delivered important papers around the world, served on Federal Government boards, been the longest serving President of PMAN, been Chairman of PMRS and now Chairman of COSON which as he did with PMAN, has been turned into a household name in a few months, drives only one car, a fairly used Toyota. When his daughter got married last year, Okoroji who has organized some of the most celebrated events in the history of Nigeria invited less than ten friends to a marriage registry in a Lagos suburb and hosted them to launch in his living room.
Many must consider Onyeka an intelligent woman. Onyeka was twice Vice President to Okoroji while he was PMAN President. She was on Okoroji’s Board while he was Chairman of PMRS. She presently serves on the Board of COSON of which Tony is the Chairman. She knows the man. Tony Okoroji is not a lawyer but very few people in Nigeria know the Nigerian law of libel better than he does the same way he is probably Nigeria’s foremost authority on the Nigerian copyright law of which he is one of the authors. I have spoken to Tony who is pained by what he considers Onyeka’s betrayal. He has already briefed lawyers to clear his name. Knowing what I know, it is difficult to understand why Onyeka who is six years older than Okoroji could have decided to make herself a Lasode.  
Onyeka has tried Tony before. I recall that in 1991, Onyeka aligned herself with a number of others to take Okoroji to court. In the celebrated case in which Christy Essien Igbokwe was Onyeka’s ally, they sought to commit Okoroji to prison for contempt. At the time, the body of Tony’s mother was lying in an Owerri mortuary. That did not stop Onyeka & Co from going for his jugular. The story around town then was that there was a plan to make sure that Okoroji would be in prison while his mother was buried. Judgment day came and the court in Ikeja presided over by the present Lagos State Chief Judge, Inumidun Akande, was filled to capacity. Lo and behold, the tables were turned: Onyeka Onwenu & Co not only lost the case so badly but almost faced perjury charges. It took Sir Victor Uwaifo and the same Tony Okoroji to plead with the judge for the conspirators not to be prosecuted. Okoroji has been dragged to the Police, EFCC, ICPC, SSS and each time, he has prevailed and not once has he been held for anything. In every case, it was clear that malice and hatred were at play.
Anyone would expect Tony Okoroji to hold a big grudge against those who have persecuted him over these years. Not Okoroji. There is probably no Nigerian who has continued to fight for the rights and sacrifice for the good of every Nigerian artiste than Tony Okoroji. It was the same man that mobilized Nigerians to give Christy Essien the kind of burial never before given to any Nigerian. It was Tony Okoroji that conceived All for Onyeka, funded it, organized it and gave Onyeka Onwenu the greatest honour she has received as a Nigerian artiste.
Tony Okoroji elicits a lot of passion, much of it positive and some of it negative but it is the passion that drives his massive self belief and responsible for the army of young people that follow him. He is a master mobilizer and a creative machine who will take a small idea, breathe life into it and everyone is left in awe. His pace and endurance can leave you gasping for breath. He is very well known to work 24 hours a day for days on end. Words without action mean nothing to him. His incredible work ethic and brilliance sometimes make it difficult for him to understand those who cannot work as hard as he works or think as fast as he does. His work ethic and brilliance generate a lot of admiration but they also produce frustration, envy and even hatred, especially among those who consider themselves always left behind.
I recall very vividly, when smack in the middle of the preparations for the Christy burial, Tony told me that he had informed Edwin Igbokwe of his resignation  from the burial committee on account of some bad vibes he was getting from Onyeka Onwenu. This was at a hotel room somewhere in Ikeja which Tony had converted into the Christy Essien Igbokwe Burial command post.
I was naturally relieved at the news because Tony and I were to have gone to South Africa along with Mahmood Ali-Balogun for a business meeting. Suddenly, Mr. Austin Izagbo, Chairman of the Christy Essien–Igbokwe Burial Committee bagged into the room to plead passionately with Tony to rescind his decision to quit. He made it clear that without Chief Okoroji whom he said was “driving” the entire events, the huge plans for the burial would fall apart. Austin Izagbo even solicited my support to help prevail on Tony, something I was very reluctant to do. I however made a token gesture and left, only to hear later that Tony eventually gave in to Austin Izagbo’s pleas, after Izagbo had assured him that he would hold Onyeka in check. Izagbo happens to come from the same home town as Tony’s wife, Queen.
Suffice to say that the trip to South Africa was done without Tony. Upon my return from South Africa, Tony even succeeded in getting me to participate in the events of the burial. He convinced me to be an unpaid repertoire at the symposium organized in honour of Christy Essien Igbokwe at the National Theatre and to help with the Red Carpet Tribute Night at Niteshift Coliseum.
I know that after the burial, Austin Izagbo pleaded with Tony to go to Calabar to ensure that a 3 million naira pledge made to the burial committee by the Cross River State Government was redeemed. I know that Chief Okoroji who was the only one in the committee with some active contact in Calabar went only because Izagbo had told him of the need to pay those who were owed money by the committee.
I was shocked to read the Onyeka public diatribe against Chief Okoroji whom many consider to be her friend. I am still not sure what is driving her tirade which dabbled into too many unrelated issues. It certainly cannot be the sum of 3 million naira which I know for a fact was paid into the accounts of the burial committee. I am therefore left with some questions: Did Onyeka speak with Okoroji before circulating her inflammatory mail on the net? Did Onyeka get Izagbo’s authority to circulate the vile mail? Did she think about the effect of her action on the integrity of the entire burial committee? Is the internet the Nigerian Police or the EFCC which ought to handle issues of fraud?
I know how much Tony Okoroji sacrificed to celebrate Christy Essien-Igbokwe even in death. I know that he put his money and abandoned his family for weeks to make her burial a historic success. I am angry at how he is being paid back. Haba Onyeka!  Why….nooooow?

A Trendy Africa Media Production

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seasoned Artists set for Maranatha, Edinburgh UK

UK - Preparations are in top gear for the much anticipated Maranatha Christ Fest music festival scheduled to hold in Edinburgh, UK. The event promises to be an explosive gathering of powerful ministers of God delivering soulful hit songs.  This is an avenue for all Christians to gather and glorify the almighty father.
Song ministrations will be delivered by Ayodele Adeyinka, Dare Melody, Dusty Odihiri and El-Mafrex among others. Femi Aina will be on hand to work the keyboards at the concert!

Dare Melody

Moty Aduragbemi

Pastor Gabriel Eziashi



TIME: 5P - 11P 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Service of Songs for Ma Esther Adeyi 1932-2011

Grand Prairie - Family and friends of the Adeyi family gathered at the RCCG Christ Church in Grand Prairie Texas for an evening of prayers and service of songs for Late Esther Adebimpe Ayankemi Adeyi. Friends of Wole and Bambo Adeyi had spent weeks ensuring that proceedings of the evening went on as scheduled.

Tributes by the children and close family members formed part of the highlights just as Mrs. Bambo Adeyi rendered a special song for the departed. The well attended event featured hymn's including "abide with me" and "shall we gather at the river".


by Tosan Aduayi

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where were you on 9.11.01?

Where were you on the 11th of September 2001? I was at my Auto Workshop in Lagos going through customers unpaid invoices early in the morning and already very agitated. On my desk was a very inconspicuous 9 inch black and white T.V which served as an occasional distraction.

Suddenly, the news flash came on one of the local stations. It sounded like a scene from a movie even though no one had ever visualized such a script. The reality of the situation eventually dawned on me. That was the most unimaginable moment of my entire life till date. 

In days that followed, heart rendering photos of victims in uncompromising situations were published. Imaging viewing helpless people jumping from the burning buildings to their death; or those waving objects through smoked filled windows moments before the buildings collapsed…still cannot comprehend. I posed the question on my facebook page where several respondents have already expressed that moment in history in their own perspective.

 Feel free to state your experience on that day in the comment box below or visit my facebook page;

A Trendy Africa Media Production.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nigerian nabbed with fresh human parts in Ghana

Accra - Nigeria’s image has yet again suffered a horrible blow in Ghana following the arrest of one Alhaji Rasheed Bello and his wife by the police in Yamoransa, near Cape Coast. Bello’s activities in the last few days became suspicious to his neighbours and since he was known to be a herbalist, no one dared confront him, rather, they called the police and reported their suspicions.

Unknown to Bello and his wife, the police had placed them under surveillance. According to the District Police Officer, “after we got the tip off, we got into the house and surprisingly, we saw pieces of human parts including hands and legs in a Ghana Must Go bag still dripping with blood. They were cut in a way that that gives you an impression that they were actually meant to be cooked. We also saw two human heads, which makes us believe that the victims are two.”
In an attempt to cover his evil deeds, 42 year old Alhaji Bello attempted to bribe the policemen but going by the Ghanaian constitution, his effort at bribing the police would only worsen his case as he might also be charged for attempting to bribe officers in a bid to prevent the law from taking its course.

source: ghanaweb