Alabo Boma Iyaye: Advocate For Youthful Growth
In the sprawling Niger Delta landscape of the Niger Delta, an inspiring figure of steadfast commitment and indefatigable spirit emerges: Alabo (Hon.) Boma Iyaye. The current Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has a lifelong mission to uplift, guide, and provide a nurturing platform and environment for the region’s youth. Deeply embedded in his essence, this mission has painted a remarkable canvas of his journey through public service and the private sector.
He was born to the esteemed lineage of Alabo A. C. T Iyaye, Fifikachiri III, and Alabota F. A. Iyaye on September 24, over five decades ago, Young Boma’s formative years hinted at the excellence to come. His academic prowess shone brightly, first at State School 2 in Port Harcourt and later at Baptist High School, where he combined stellar academic achievements with a growing passion for sports.
Transitioning into higher education, Boma’s diligence led him to the then University of Science and Technology, Nkpolu-Oruworokwo, in Port Harcourt, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Education and an MBA in Banking and Finance. Not one to rest on his laurels, he later embraced the legal profession. He obtained his LL.B degree from the University of Abuja and was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar.
Beyond his commendable academic strides, however, he bore within the burning desire to make tangible societal impacts. Following a successful tenure in the accounting arena with prestigious multinationals, Hon. Iyaye joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). His foray into politics culminated in representing Ogu/Bolo Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, further highlighting and cementing his commitment to the region’s development.
A testament to his undeniable talent and unwavering devotion to sports, Boma’s tenure as the Commissioner of Sports for Rivers State saw him championing pivotal milestones for the state. Notably, he was crucial in successfully hosting the 17th National Sports Festival, the “Garden City Games.” His leadership acumen caught the eye of the then Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, leading to multiple stints as Commissioner, first for Sports and later for Local Government Affairs.
Hon. Boma Iyaye’s impeccable reputation and passion soon captured the attention of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Recognizing his dual expertise in accounting and dedication to youth development, President Tinubu appointed him to the eminent position of Executive Director for Finance and Administration at the NDDC.
Today, as he navigates the intricate responsibilities of this new role, his core values remain unchanged: to elevate the Niger Delta’s youth and forge a path of hope and prosperity. An avid sports enthusiast and devoted family man, Boma’s life is a harmonious blend of personal joys with his beloved wife, Joy, their children, and a professional journey dedicated to the betterment of the Niger Delta community.
Victor Etim Antai: A Visionary Administrator, Servant Leader Transforming Communities
Sir Victor Etim Antai, the Executive Director of Projects, is a distinguished Methodist who has been honoured with the prestigious title of KJW. He symbolises administrative mastery and dynamic leadership, inspiring those around him. He was born on May 19, 1965, at Methodist Hospital in Ituk Mbang, Akwa Ibom State. Sir Antai’s inspiring journey is defined by his unwavering dedication to service and his profound commitment to creating transformative change within communities.
A devoted family man, Sir Antai finds fulfillment as a loving husband to Mrs. Edu Victor Antai and a proud father to their children. His passion for serving his community is matched only by his devotion to his family.
With a remarkable educational background, Sir Antai’s thirst for knowledge led him to pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Geography from the esteemed University of Port-Harcourt. His visionary mindset and desire for further growth propelled him to obtain a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Logistics and Transportation Management. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the same field at the University of Port Harcourt.
Sir Antai’s professional path radiates with innovative leadership, beginning as the Chief Operating Officer at Maintenance Culture Limited. His entrepreneurial spirit and visionary mindset led him to found Men at Work LTD, where he served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
His exceptional leadership qualities were evident during his tenure as the Chairman of the Mbo Council Area from 2008 to 2011 in Akwa Ibom State, where he redefined governance and achieved an unprecedented re-election for a second term from 2012 to 2015.
In 2015, Sir Antai’s journey took on a greater purpose when he accepted the role of Commissioner in the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. He demonstrated his transformative touch and transitioned to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, where he spearheaded initiatives that revitalised the state’s cultural heritage and tourism sector. Under his visionary leadership, Akwa Ibom experienced remarkable transformations and gained national prominence through groundbreaking events showcasing the state’s rich cultural tapestry.
Sir Antai’s commitment to community development matches his pleasant nature and dedication to student welfare. His Active involvement in sports and his former leadership role as Director of Welfare/Transport in the Student Union Government of the University of Port Harcourt underscore his holistic approach to leadership and his genuine care for the well-being of others.
Honored with the Knight of John Wesley (KJW) by the Methodist Church Nigeria and recognized as the head of the most improved ministry by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2017, Sir Antai’s exceptional contributions have received well-deserved accolades. His legacy of excellence is further cemented by the Ibom Pride Award of Excellence and his recognition as the Best Performing Local Government Chairman by the House of Representatives Committee on Local Government.
Beyond his administrative prowess, Sir Victor Etim Antai is a true humanitarian, dedicating his time and efforts to community development. His unwavering commitment to societal growth has earned him several chieftaincy titles, testifying to his transformative impact on the lives of the people he serves.
Sir Victor Etim Antai is not merely an administrator but a visionary leader guided by a deep sense of purpose. His exceptional achievements, dedication to service, and holistic approach to community development have solidified his reputation as a figure of influence and inspiration in Akwa Ibom State. Through his remarkable journey and outstanding leadership, Sir Antai exemplifies excellence in transforming communities and leaving an indelible mark on society, all while cherishing the loving support of his wife and children.
Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde: An Architect of Change In Politics And Professionalism
The journey of the Executive Director of Corporate Services, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde, has been a rich tapestry of engineering prowess, architectural brilliance, and dedicated public service.
Born on May 5, 1955, he started from a civil engineering background. He enlarged his scope with architectural studies before moving into the esteemed chambers of the House of Representatives. His variegated forays endowed him with a plethora of skills and experiences. His strong affinity for architecture, coupled with the art of crafting environments, has allowed him to weave imaginative planning seamlessly with realistic implementations.
His educational foundation was laid at St. David’s Primary School, Akure, which he followed up with a secondary education at Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure. Furthering his passion for design and structure, he acquired a B.Sc in Architecture from Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.A. He obtained his Master’s in Architecture from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
His professional journey began as an Assistant Civil Engineer at Akintobi-Oyenekan & Associates, where he played an instrumental role in developing roads in Ondo State. His career then spanned across international borders to the USA, where he showcased his technical prowess as a Systems Engineer for both the State of Maryland and the United States Patent and Trade Organization.
In politics, his commitment to the public good has been evident. As a Member of the House of Representatives, he chaired committees on Inter-Governmental Affairs and the National Emergency Management Agency. His dedication to governance and statecraft further propelled him to serve as the Secretary to the Ondo State Government (SSG) from 2017-2020, where he played pivotal roles in industrialization, poverty eradication, and governance programmes.
Hon. Ifedayo possesses various certifications, including those from Microsoft, Cisco, and the American Society of Professional Estimators. His attributes resonate with organizational restructuring, team collaboration, excellent communication, relentless pursuit of objectives, and fostering strong interpersonal relationships.
Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde is not just a seasoned professional or political figure; he’s a harmonious blend of both. He is dedicated to exploring new territories, improving built environments, and positively impacting his local government, state, and the nation.
Checking The Continued Exit Of Companies From Nigeria
ISAAC ASABOR examines the perilous trend and effects of corporations leaving Nigeria for obvious reasons. This is exacerbated by the lack of government initiatives to stem the tide.
A look at the history of Nigeria’s manufacturing industry reveals that many companies are departing the country, owing to the difficulty of doing business. It will be remembered that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) declared in 2009 that 820 manufacturing companies had closed down since 2000, surprisingly under democratic rule, displacing thousands of people, even though the federal government admitted at the time that a solution would take time.
In retrospect, while addressing top government functionaries, policymakers, and industrialists from across the country at the 37th annual general meeting of MAN in Lagos, Alhaji Bashir Borodo disclosed that between 2000 and 2008, approximately 820 manufacturing companies closed down or temporarily suspended production, and urged the Federal Government to take pragmatic steps to save the sector from total collapse.
Borodo attributed the growing closure pattern of companies in Nigeria’s industrial landscape at the time to a difficult operating environment, unstable electricity, high interest and exchange rates, smuggling, high cost of AGO and LPFO to power their generators or boilers, as well as multiple taxations and levies imposed on the manufacturers by the various levels of government, among other factors.
“The lesson of the last few years has shown that if local manufacturers are to survive in a globalised world, the provision of energy cannot be compromised,” he says, “especially in our peculiar situation where the upgrading of energy production had suffered nearly 30 years of neglect.” All things considered, the level of expenditure required to reverse the degradation caused by long-term neglect would be substantial.
He noted that, aside from energy issues, additional obstacles encountered by manufacturers were worsened in 24 months by unfavourable loan terms to the sector, and that firms continued to groan as a result of excessive borrowing rates and a lack of long-term credit.
Similarly, he stated that in the last six months, at the time he spoke on the issue, macroeconomic indices were disrupted when the exchange rate of the Naira fell abruptly by nearly 20% after a relatively long period of stability and that the combined effect of high-interest rates and currency devaluation was responsible for increased inflation.
Responding to questions about the relocation of industries to neighbouring countries such as Ghana, Borodo stated that it was a very concerning development that should be stopped given Nigeria’s unrivalled leadership role as the hub of industrial production in West Africa. He remarked that no national industrialist would want to overlook Nigeria’s market with its strengths and potential, and he added that the development was the result of a breakdown in infrastructure.
In his closing remarks, he emphasised that the theme of the event was a wake-up call for Nigeria to remove infrastructure roadblocks and provide incentives for manufacturing companies to thrive, and he added that the reality was that, despite the relocations that had already occurred and those that might occur in the future, the obvious and primary market target of the industries remained Nigeria.
He asked the Presidency to make pragmatic decisions and demonstrate the political will to implement the 7-point Agenda and Vision 20: 2020, as these will serve as true platforms for harnessing the best of Nigeria and transforming it in the shortest feasible period.
At this point, it is pertinent to recall that the then-Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Achike Udenwa, acknowledged that power was the major issue confronting manufacturers in the country, despite the fact that the Federal Government was determined to meet the 6000 MW targets by the end of that year.
He added that the government aimed to achieve the same feat by rigorously implementing all projects under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP), adding that the effort would bring some measure of relief to Nigerians and manufacturers, as well as advancement. “Be assured that the government is behind you,” he continued. We feel your anguish. My ministry will cease to exist if there are no manufacturing industries. The solution may not be immediate, but the administration is working on it.”
In a similar vein, the leadership of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA) stated in 2012 that more than half of the country’s remaining enterprises were “ailing.”
The shocking revelation was given in Asaba by Herbert Ajayi, then President of NACCIMA, in a report he presented at a zonal workshop on economic diversification organised by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
He stated that between 2009 and 2011, at least 800 companies closed shop in Nigeria due to the harsh operating business environment, and emphasised that the companies that survived the onslaught of the unfriendly business environment were facing serious challenges, with more than half of them classified as “ailing.”
Unfortunately, despite the robust lobbying displayed over the years by leaderships of the NMA, NACCIMA, Manufacturers, and other advocacy groups and individuals, Nigeria’s ease of doing business rating remains poor.
According to Statista, a global data and business intelligence website with a large collection of statistics, reports, and insights, “As of 2020, Nigeria’s ease of doing business ranks 131st globally, with a general score of 56.9. Starting a business, dealing with construction permits, and obtaining credits received the best grades. Nigeria, on the other hand, performed poorly in other areas, such as property registration, cross-border trade, and insolvency resolution.”
Without sounding exaggerated, the situation has become so worrying that many companies are leaving Nigeria that it has become extremely worrying, especially since the trend is increasing the country’s long-standing unemployment problem. For example, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria recently announced its exit from the country after 51 years of operations.
Dele Oye, National President of NACCIMA, lamented the company’s recent exit from Nigeria, specifically in August 2023, at an event, saying: “GlaxoSmithKline’s exit from Nigeria has dealt a major blow to the country’s manufacturing sector, which is already experiencing significant collapse amongst its local businesses.”
While the current administration has commendably put Nigeria on a long-term road of economic improvement, he remarked that some of President Bola Tinubu’s immediate beneficial economic initiatives have had a negative impact on certain sectors of the country.
“In particular, the sudden rise in the price of petrol and abolition of the official naira rate has caused a significant backlash, eroding the already earned income and trading capital of several multinational companies that had established their previous earnings based on the official naira rate at the time,” he went on to say.
Other companies that have left the country include Michelin, Surest Foam Limited, Mufex, Framan Industries, MZM Continental, Nipol Industries, Moak Industries, Stone Industries, and Procter & Gamble.
Unilever, which began operations in the 1920s, said in March 2023 that it would cease production of its iconic OMO, Sunlight, and Lux home and skincare brands in order to decrease costs and focus on higher growth prospects.
Given the preceding facts, it is necessary to admit that this essay was motivated by a recent news report claiming that Nigerians will no longer be able to place food orders on the Bolt Food app as the firm plans to discontinue its food delivery service in the country on December 7, 2023. The corporation announced its decision as part of an effort to streamline its resources and increase overall efficiency.
Bolt, which currently provides meal delivery services in 16 countries and 33 cities worldwide, was started in Nigeria in October 2021 in response to the growing demand for food delivery services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bolt Food claims to have worked with over 10,000 restaurants, delivered over 1 million meals and onboarded 23,000 agents and 12,000 merchants since its launch in the country.
Many manufacturing professionals and observers have asked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his team to revitalise the manufacturing sector in light of a disturbing data fact originating from the NMA leadership that manufacturers were slashing jobs and production to respond to economic constraints.
The preceding advice could not have come at a better time, as MAN recently announced that 2,818 jobs would be cut in the first half of 2022. “Based on MAN’s survey since 2013, cumulative new manufacturing employment was estimated at 1,686,725 at the end of 2022,” according to the report. However, manufacturing employment fell to 6,741 in the second half of 2022, down from 8,508 in the first half of 2021 and 9,559 in the first half of 2022.”
- Source: Saturday INDEPENDENT
Atiku @ 77: Eze Paints The Canvass Of Nigeria’s Face Of Democracy, Outstanding Philanthropist
By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze
“….During the 1999 general elections, I was instrumental to his election as Governor of Adamawa State, as I mobilised both the Igbo and South-South people under the platforms of Igbo Crusaders Political Platform and South East/South-South Amalgamated Movement (SESSAM ) both of which were the products of my endeavors.
During one of his campaign meetings in Yola, I donated sports equipment and a cheque to assist him in the election…..” Chief Eze
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar erstwhile Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, oone-timeTuraki Adamawa is currently the Waziri Adamawa – (Warrior of Adamawa Emirate Council) and second in command to the Lamido Adamawa, the Traditional Ruler of the great Adamawa Emirate covering some parts of Nigeria and Cameron.
The Adamawa Emirate is a traditional state located in Fombina, an area which now roughly corresponds to areas of Adamawa State and Taraba State in Nigeria, and previously also in the three northern regions of Cameroon (Far North, North, and Adamawa), including minor Parts of Chad and the Central African Republic.
When Atiku was turbanned as the 7th Waziri of Adamawa Emirate making him the next to the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo, in the hierarchy of the emirate.
According to the Lamido of Adamawa, Mr. Abubakar was honoured with the title of Waziri because of his immense contributions to the development of Nigeria, particularly Adamawa State, where his impact was felt in various sectors.
“Atiku has also contributed greatly to unifying the people of Adamawa and providing useful advice to the emirate.
“The position of Waziri, which is the highest in the council puts him in charge of the administration of the emirate and is given to people who are educated, honest and God fearing.
“It’s not hereditary and can go to anyone who deserves it.”
PROF GIDADO AND THE UNBLEMISHED RECORDS OF ATIKU ABUBAKAR
I have chronicled all that needs to be known about Atiku in my book yet to be published titled, “The Man Atiku Abubakar: From Obscurity To Limelight” but to espouse him better, I will refer to Prof Maxwell Gidado, one of Nigerian’s most successful and influential Constitutional Lawyer during a historical event organized by the GANYE CHIEFDOM in his honour recently, he postulated and I quote, ” ATIKU at 77, it can no longer be argued whether a man or woman is a success or a failure. For Atiku Abubakar, his life as a success is vitally clear! His success in public service, entrepreneurship, politics and philanthropy has come from sheer hard work and determination. Springing from very humble circumstances in Jada, Jada LGA, Adamawa State on November 25th, 1946, Atiku was bent from a young age to take his destiny into his own hands; a spirit of resilience which has seen him cap his academic accomplishments with a Master of Arts in International Relations recently from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Prof Gidado who can be described as one of the most loyal disciples of Atiku went further to state, “Long and rigorous journey in search for the golden fleece which began in rural Jada Primary School a long time ago through, Adamawa Provincial Secondary School, Kano School of Hygiene, where he studied for the Royal Society of Health Diploma, and at the same time, read for “A” levels at the British Council, to the famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he earned a Diploma in Law in 1969.
It was here his interest in leadership and public service began as he took part in Student Union Politics, and was elected Assistant Secretary General and later Deputy
Speaker of the Students’ Union Government of the Ahmadu Bello University. This experience enriched his young political mind.
ATIKU’S FEATS AS A NATIONAL LEADER
Atiku joined the Nigeria Customs Service in 1969, went through the crucible of Customs and public service career; attended leadership and management courses in Finland, U.S.A, and Egypt, and rose to the position of Deputy Director within 20 years before his voluntary retirement in 1986.
Upon retirement, Atiku went into private business and later launched an active political career with its ups and downs, risks to personal life and those of family members till he was elected as Governor of Adamawa State and later Vice President of Nigeria in 1999. He had before then, been elected member of the National Constitutional Conference (1994 – 1995). He was a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party that governed Nigeria for sixteen years and before that, a founding member of the People’s Front (PF), and Social Democratic Party (SDP) at different times.
As Vice President, Atiku was the Chairman of the National Economic Council and oversaw the National Council on Privatization, and many other presidential committees, including the task force that admirably
organized Nigeria’s hosting of the 2004 Commonwealth Summit. Atiku is widely recognized as a committed democrat and a courageous fighter against executive impunity and the militarization of national politics.
HIS PHILANTHROPY AND FEATS
A committed philanthropist, Atiku has helped communities build schools, mosques, and churches across the nation, including the prestigious American University of Nigeria, Yola. He has awarded scholarships to several Nigerians and Africans to enable them to obtain good quality education and funded critical medical treatment for several of his fellow citizens. Atiku has also made major financial commitments in support of people living with disabilities as well as for the eradication of such debilitating and fatal diseases as polio and HIV / AIDS. But it is in the field of education that his philanthropy comes to the fore. He has helped almost any educational institution that approached him for assistance. His grassroots passion and humanitarian instincts have endeared Atiku to people from all nooks and crannies of Nigeria. So confident and acceptable is he to every national grouping that a columnist recently tagged him – “Mr. Nigeria”. Little wonder that Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 2013 at a book launch of the “Atiku Abubakar Cases” described him as the “Most Prepared Presidential Candidate for this Country”.
Atiku Abubakar is the veritable phoenix of our democratic future. Out of the ashes of despair, brutality, cynicism and strife of yesteryears has emerged this pillar of freedom, democracy, justice, and hope. The greatness of birth is not in being blue-blooded; it is in being able to survive despite all the odds. Success is not judged only by what has been achieved but also by the obstacles surmounted to achieve it. That is Atiku Abubakar in true perspective.
A fellow of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University, and General School for Diplomacy and International Relations, Switzerland – LL.D., etc. Atiku holds honorary doctorate degrees from several Nigerian Universities – amongst them are; Ahmadu Bello University, University of Maiduguri Modibbo Adama University of Technology Yola, University of Calabar, Bayero University Kano, etc. He was bestowed with Nigeria’s second highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON). He was also awarded the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award by the National Peace Corps Association of the United States of America.
HIS TRADITIONAL TITLES
Atiku holds the traditional title of Waziri Adamawa and twelve other traditional titles across Nigeria to mention just a few- namely; Zege Mule u Tiv, Zanna Santalma of Borno, Zanna Kawashima of Yobe, Shetima of Biu, Mayobero of Lagos, Nwanne Di na Mba of Ngor-Okpala, Imo State and Enyioha Ndigbo to mention but a few.
With all that Prof. Gidado has said, it is very clear to any open-minded reader that the man Atiku is truly a great gift to the nation.
EXPOSING THE TRUE NATURE OF ATIKU
Accordingly, Atiku is always one to engender innovations, a bridge builder, a tireless activist, a successful businessman, a philanthropist, a committed patriot, an authentic progressive democrat, an inspiration to his compatriots, a delight to his elders and associates, founder American University of Nigeria, a role model for today’s generation, a devoted husband and father, harbinger of consensus politics, the Waziri Adamawa, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar and the most prepared President the Federal Republic of Nigeria yet to have.
MY EXPLOITS IN THE DEFUNCT GONGOLA STATE AND GRADUATION FROM ATIKU’S POLITICAL SCHOOL
In 1989, after I graduated from the University of Calabar as a sort of punishment in the hands of the then Students Affairs Officer, Mr. P. Olowajabi, for daring to challenge him regarding the welfare of students, I was posted to the then Gongola State.
After due consultation with God and my family, I boarded a bus from Onitsha to Yola five days before the formal opening of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp for Orientation for the 1989/90 NYSC Service Year. At the end of the Orientation, I was declared the Best Corps Member and subsequently appointed as the Corps Liaison Officer, CLO, for Yola Local Government and the Coordinating Chairman of all CLOs of the defunct Gongola State comprising the present-day Adamawa and Taraba States.
With my position as the number one corps member in the state, I formed the Gongola State Corps Members Association through which I appointed Atiku Abubakar then Head of the Customs including the then Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Murtala Nyako, Hajiya Fatima Balla Abubakar, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta (then Inspector-General of Police, IGP), and other great sons of Adamawa State as patrons and matrons.
I used this office to construct and donate the first Bus Stop in Yola town and I also donated a police traffic stand to the Gongola Police headquarters, thus becoming the first and only Corps member in Nigeria to have served the nation without collecting a dime by way of allowance, for personal use. I ploughed back all the allowances to my community through the donation of books, mats, and other items, to schools and the Muslim community in Yola.
At the end of my Youth Service and on the advice of the late Lamido of Adamawa, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Aliyu Mustapha, to the then Chiroma Adamawa who is the present Lamido, I was engaged temporarily by the Gongola State Sports Council where I resigned after few months to set up Eze Continental Sports outfit which later was upgraded to Eze Continental Investment Ltd. With this business outfit, I was able to sponsor various sports competitions within both Adamawa and Taraba States. The records show that I was one of the most outstanding philanthropists within that region during my stay in that golden state which spawned a cumulative period of over 20 years.
It was during this period that I met Atiku Abubakar formally and that was immediately after he retired from the Customs, during the Inter House Sports Competition of the Federal Government College, Yola, in which he was invited as the Special Guest of Honour in 1988.
During the 1999 general elections, I was instrumental to his election as Governor of Adamawa State, as I mobilised both the Igbo and South-South people under the platforms of Igbo Crusaders Political Platform and South East/South-South Amalgamated Movement (SESSAM ) both of which were the products of my endeavors.
During one of his campaign meetings in Yola, I donated sports equipment and a cheque to assist him in the election.
With the elevation of Atiku Abubakar from a duly elected Governor of Adamawa State to the office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the need for the formation of some national pressure groups became imperative. I was thus duly appointed as the Spokesperson for the most organised and dreaded Turaki Vanguard, a post I used to strengthen the politics of the then Turakin Adamawa and with the efforts of some other patriotic Nigerians, we were able to scuttle the third term bid of the former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo.
One account that interested me much during my tenure as the National Director in charge of Publicity and Public Administration of Turaki Vanguard was when General Olusegun Obasanjo threatened to sack Atiku as his Vice President. I stated while in Lagos to exchange ideas with the Lagos Press alongside Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Former present Minister of Information) who was in charge of Publicity of the then Action Congress (AC), threatening to mobilise 500,000 Nigerian youths to Abuja to occupy Aso Rock. Based on that, General Obasanjo summoned an emergency Security Council Meeting. Obasanjo’s action was based on his informed knowledge of the strength of Turaki Vanguard.
When I arrived in Abuja, after the successful media outing in Lagos, I visited the residence of Atiku, where met grave silence on the spot; an unusual scenario. I was later told by Atiku’s Chief Security Officer, Mallam Mahmud, that President Obasanjo had convened an emergency Security Council Meeting which they feared might lead to Atiku’s removal from office. I laughed it off and told him the reason the Security Council meeting was being held. It was the offshoot of the statement I issued threatening to mobilise Nigerian youths to occupy Aso Rock. Immediately, CSO Mahmud left to tell Oga(Atiku) that the emergency Security Council meeting was being held because of the ‘madness’ of Chief Eze. It was then Atiku came out from his office and left for a meeting outside the Villa.
While I was being hounded and searched for by security agencies at my Yola residence, I was at the Villa and little did they know that I was in their midst. They did not know in person who this Chief Eze was.
I became the darling of most of the Nigerian newspapers.
ATIKU AND MY MOVEMENT TO RIVERS STATE
My Movement to Garden City stemmed immediately after the Action Congress Presidential Campaign Committee was disbanded. The then National Secretary of Turaki Vanguard, Hon. Lanre Fayemi, visited Port Harcourt to monitor how the governorship Campaign Team of Prince Tonye Princewill, the party’s guber candidate in Rivers state then, was being managed. A few days later, Fayemi intimated to the Prince that his Campaign team was not doing enough. There, he suggested a re-jigging that would introduce some seasoned chieftains with a mastery of the political terrain who would deploy their wealth of experience towards the practical application of sound strategies to achieve goals.
The party scribe told the Prince that Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze was the only Nigerian who would step into Port Harcourt and turn the heat on the PDP.
The next day, Prince Tonye Princewill flew into Abuja to meet with Atiku Abubakar then Vice President of Nigeria and the Presidential Candidate of the Action Congress on the issue of releasing “one Chief Eze” to him. Atiku laughed and asked him if he had handled fire before because according to him, the man he was requesting was a raging inferno. Princewill assured and reassured him that he would do his best. After this, Atiku sent me to his Aso Rock residence and asked me to move to Port Harcourt. That was in 2007.
As much as I owe a lot to Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who accepted me as a brother including Prince Tonye PRINCEWIL, the Prince of Niger Delta including many other political leaders from Rivers State, the fact remains that without Atiku Abubakar I would have not been introduced to national politics particularly the politics of Rivers State.
So please join me to celebrate this great visionary and political bulldozer who through his maverick style of leadership exposed to the world some hidden facts about most of our political leaders.
Happy birthday Dear Waziri!
Happy birthday the Face of Democracy!!
Happy Birthday the most Prepared President that Nigeria is yet to have!!!
I salute you and pray that God bless your new age, and grant you greater and better years ahead.
- Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt & can be reached either through 08022049770 or email@example.com
Ife Goup Exhibition Moves Beyond ‘Onaism’
A group exhibition that deconstructs forms associated with the admixture of Western European and African culture with colonial artistic tendencies, and elevates the contemporary recreation and reinvention of forms and philosophies of the traditional Yoruba Art has been scheduled to be held from December 3-9, 2023 at Fobally Artworld Africa, 1A Amaechi Onuoha Crescent Ikate Lekki Phase 1, Lekki Lagos. It is being organised by the alumni of the University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile-Ife, State of Osun.
The exhibition which is in its 30th edition is tagged ” Best of Ife @30,” with a theme “Beyond Onaism.” It is contextualised on what Ona is, and the exploits of artists in different parts of the world, who graduated from the 50-year-old fFineand Applied Art Department of the university.
In a press briefing in Lagos Professor Moyo Okediji who spoke virtually from his United States base described his participation in the exhibition as a big honour.
He expressed excitement about being part of what was going on with the Best of Ife group exhibition. “I must congratulate the organisers for putting the show together because now is the time for us to take control of our art instead of waiting for the outsiders to help us find ways of promoting ourselves,” he said.
Okediji who is one of the progenitors and major pioneers of the Ona movement noted. “There used to be a time when only foreigners did this kind of thing and it’s gratifying that we are calling the shots.” Nonetheless, the condition of Ife school to creativity in Nigeria has not been fully evaluated. From the early 90s until now, the products of Ife Art School have tremendously changed the styles of creativity in Nigeria.
“Ife at the time it came followed Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) as University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukka, and when that came, it didn’t seem to have any coherent philosophy but as time went on, we were able to come up with a credible idea concerning the concept of Ona and since then, it has become a very important philosophical Idea that is pushing not just Ife art actually, but also the art space in Nigeria today,” he added.
Professor of Visual Arts And Aesthetics, African-American University, Port Novo Kunle Filani gave the historical background on the Department of Fine and Applied Arts former University of Ife noting that the department started with some students who were in the faculty of education.
He said that by 1972 Moyo Ogundipe started art and was the only one who graduated in 1972. “We had others who graduated in 1974. In 1975, the department was consolidated and became a full-fledged department offering a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Fine And Applied Arts. And from 1972 to date, we are talking about 50 years ago which means that we have traversed about five decades of having graduates who read Art at the university. So we feel it is a significant period to celebrate.”
Filani who is one of the five progenitors of the concept of Onaism’ disclosed that the philosophy behind the school was entrenched within the motto of the university which says “For learning And Culture,” adding that it was not for fun that the alumni of the university were generally hailed as “Great Ife.”
He explained. “It was essentially because of the thorough academic orientation that they derived when they were in the school, and one would agree with me that it has been top because the training has to do with learning and culture expanded beyond the acquisition of skills as an artist”
The teaching and orientation eventually led a group of 5 graduates: Moyo Okediji and myself, Tola Wewe, Bolaji Campbell, and Tunde Nasiru who started the idea of Ona which in English language is translated as designs, patterns, and colours. it is a kind of embracing word far from art and creativity which means that we have eyes for aesthetics. Ona is an umbrella for creativity.
“It was beyond the practice of art. The concept behind it was properly enunciated. And because it is a philosophy, quite soon after we commenced, it became a movement beyond the graduates of Ife and was accepted as part of what we could be proud of in contemporary Nigeria art and beyond,” he intoned
He recalled that Best of Ife as a group exhibition started in 1993 whereas Onaism’ has started around the middle and late 80s.
“The Idea behind it is a reflection of the title of this 30th edition of the exhibition “Beyond Onaism.'” We realized the fact that as a school, we cannot be pigeonholed in a particular concept. Students should be free to imbibe, and when they graduate should be able to express themselves. So we felt that while promoting Onaism’ as the concept of art, we should also encourage those who bring innovative ideas, new development, and whatever it is, where they excel. And we should also promote them so that we can have diversity. Luckily we have achieved that now.
“What this did was to popularize the concept of Onaism’ and when we talk of Ona in itself, each person has his approach to looking at the work imbibing what he could do, and innovating what he could present.
Victor Ekpu was doing Insibidi within the concept of Onaism’ while Araism by Mufu Onifade is also a take-off from the concept of Ona. They developed along the line and many people also followed them. The significance of this is that we have diversity in the Best of Ife group exhibition because it is open to all graduates of the University of Ife. And it ran for 14-15 years consecutively.”
Filani is glad that many Ife graduates took the movement as a challenge. “When we started it, other people like Koyade Fadipe, Tunde Ogunlaiye, Mufu Onifade e.t.c who exhibited more than 4-5 times took charge of the exhibition. Donatus Akatakpo and I had the first one and even people that were in Diaspora, we exhibited all of them. Now that we are 30 years old, I think we should take stock of the various creative trends that graduates of the school have explored.
South Africa-based Nigerian Professor of Fine Arts Department Rhodes University Steve Folaranmi noted that the Best of Ife group exhibition offered an avenue for members of the alumni to speak with one voice on any issue within the country using the art.
He said that the foremost thing about the exhibition was that for many years, the exhibition did not hold because of the legions of issues with the country, adding “But the mere fact that we’re coming back again shows that we have realized that we are missing in action and needed to do something about it.”
Folaranmi who spoke virtually said that the return of the Best of Ife group exhibition called for celebration. “We are happy with the return of the exhibition. I am happy seeing Professor Filani who is a pivotal individual, a colossus figure among us at the centre of it all. It is based on that and irrespective of what happens, I’ll participate in this edition of the exhibition. And I hope on that day, my work will be selected for the show.”
He equally encouraged those who intend to participate to submit at least one artwork for the exhibition on time. “I believe it is going to be a wonderful show we can talk about for many years to come and also the beginning of a new journey beyond Onaism,’ he enthused.
The moderator of the conference and Director of the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture Ayoola Mudashiru revealed that Fobally Artworld Africa will be home to over 50 pieces of artwork displayed by over 35 registered participating artists of diverse styles, approaches, and philosophies.
He said that an exhibiting artist was expected to showcase one work if it was larger adding that within that range over 50 works would be on parade for visitors. He said. “Most of the generations of the best of Ife are represented in this exhibition. This includes those who graduated recently and their masters. All the 5 decades of the Ife art school are going to entertain with their works. We are going to be having works of Profs. Kunle Filani, and Moyo Okediji. Tola Wewe and others from 1972-2023 generations of the Ife Art school.”
Mudashiru who finished the former University of Ife in 1992 stressed that beyond Onaism’ the theme of the exhibition
Ona has been able to give birth to other types of styles. He said. “Though It is not what is being taught in Ife most people the Ona style.
On gender balance of the exhibition, Mudashiru said. “The exhibition is an open call for all gender both male and female artists of Ife Art School. I am aware that the issue of gender balance tilts more in favour of the male artist population from the fine art department of the university. Nonetheless, we still have a handful of strong female artists that are coming on board to exhibit their works.”
But Why is Fobally Artworld Africa as choice of gallery for the exhibition? “We saw a growing trend in the gallery. We discovered that the founder and creative director has a strong connection with the industry even though she came on board the art scene not too long ago. If you look at her past projects, one of them was an art competition with tertiary institutions, the Judges empanelled to score participating artists were seasoned professionals and it tells one that she knows what she is doing. So anybody who does not know the industry cannot galvanize such kind of industry operators as Judges.
Founder and Creative Director Fobally Artworld Africa Folasade Abiola expressed joy in hosting works of the masters and new graduates of Ife Art School in her gallery. She said. “We are super excited to host the Best of Ife @ 30. For us, the young graduates and the older ones of the university are known for their great works in the art industry and they have made landmark statements within the industry.
So, we at Fobally Artworld Africa are extremely proud to be associated with this epochal event marking the 30th edition of the Best of Ife group exhibition.
“Looking at Onaism’ and what they have been doing for the past 30 years, we found it very remarkable. And globally, the Best of Ife has earned for themselves local and international recognitions. The theme is a representation of African art. This is a special invitation to visitors to come see artworks of international standards in terms of form, design, and style.
“We started as an online gallery until last year when we had our bricks and mortar store. So, the Best of Ife group exhibition is a fulfillment of our mandate, vision, and mission to promote African art for global visibility. From the 3rd -to the 9th of December, 2023, we are going to be doing publications for a global view and participation in the event through our different online platforms.