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OPINION

How To Learn Lessons Of Hard Work From Funke Akindele’s Success In ‘A Tribe Called Judah’

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Funke Akindele

By Isaac Asabor

There is no denying the fact that life is a continuous learning experience as it is crystal clear that throughout our lives we keep rising and falling, picking up important lessons along the way.  While some of such lessons come from personal experience, others more often than not come from watching or reading about what other people are going through in life.  

Against the foregoing backdrop, the question on everyone’s lips, particularly among the circle of friends of this writer is “Why aren’t Netizens celebrating Funke Akindele’s N1B Breakthrough with the same verve variously used in condemning her in trying times, whenever she is in the news for the wrong reason?

Without resorting to being her advocate in this context, it is expedient to opine that she has unarguably passed through ups and downs of life so much that in May 2023, Funke, in a tweet, shared an emotional take on the reality of depression and the value of being kind to others. Expectedly, Nigerians on social media empathized with her as not a few of them expressed concerns over her depression message. The Jenifa actress tweeted: “Depression is real. Please be kind to others. Yes, don’t trade your happiness with anything, but still, be humane in all you do. We are all on a journey in this world. Be conscious. Be aware. Share. Make peace. Take risks and be grateful for success and victory. Yet be aware, love, forgive, and stay happy.”

While others retweeted to encourage her, like @abayomiibitunde, who tweeted to her thus: “Hope you are doing fine, Funke? Please be fine. Be free to discuss with trustworthy folks if you need to unburden. Be fine”, others tweeted to taunt her. For instance, @now14128311 tweeted, “How much have you lost for the election that makes you depressed, madam? Better days ahead, and keep your head up.”

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During her trying periods such as during the time her failed marriage was made public, and when she was arrested by the Police on a particular Sunday evening for holding a house party amidst a coronavirus lockdown, Netizens were agog with Pull-Her-Down (PHD) kind of stories that revolved around her travails whilst newspapers; both traditional and online, were by each passing moment lavishing their readers with stories about her that call for worry. Some indeed published feature articles that surrounded her plight without seeing any need to plead on her behalf, or at least make a case for her. 

But among her fans and those who are unarguably her dyed-in-the-wool followers, the swirling media attack on her found little traction, and not a few of her supporters, rubbished those attacks, especially those from the Netizens on an array of social media posts. 

At this juncture, permit this writer to say that there are some elements of virtues to learn from Funke Akindele’s charm and conduct in the ever-acrimonious and boisterous virtual space as she has uncompromisingly carried herself that she is not cantankerous and overbearing like some few female actors and producers in the Nollywood sub-sector of the economy who are notorious for being so.  Rather, she has all along exemplified herself by working hard and letting her success make the noise as she has just done with the success of her film, “A Tribe Called Judah” which has made history by becoming the highest-grossing Nollywood film ever with a reported N1 billion earnings at the box office. 

Personally assessing her success in Nigeria’s film industry, the quote that readily comes to mind is unarguably the one credited to Frank Ocean which says, “Work hard in silence, let your success make the noise”.

Without resorting to being big-headed in this context, permit this writer at this juncture to share a story on how he ignored discouraging counsel from colleagues, friends, and relatives with whom he in the early 80s shared his ambition with that he wants to become a Journalist; even whilst he was then a Security Guard under the employ of a company in Victoria Island Lagos. However, in defiance of their discouraging counsels, he got admitted to the University of Lagos as a part-time student, and graduated in Mass Communication, which invariably paved the way for him into the journalism profession more than a decade ago. 

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In a similar vein, and for motivational purposes, it is expedient to refer to a post made available on the website of the United Church of God (UCG) dated July 30, 2012, and titled “Life Lessons: The Rewards of Hard Work”.

The short but inspiring story authored by Gary Petty goes thus: “One Friday a young man named Herb, who was attending Stanford University, applied for employment at a company and was told that the only job available was that of a secretary. The young man enthusiastically accepted the position but informed the employer that he couldn’t start until Wednesday.

“When he showed up Wednesday morning the employer asked Herb why he waited until Wednesday to start. Herbert Hoover, a future president of the United States replied, “I had to find a typewriter and learn how to use it.” (Yes, this happened before the age of computers.)

“Herbert Hoover once said, “No difficult or simple job ever gets done until someone decides right now to do what it takes to get the job done. Unfortunately, too many people stand by ready to carry the stool when there is a piano to be moved.”

“The book of Proverbs is filled with instructions that tell us that working hard and doing a job well will lead to rewards while laziness reaps sorrow and poverty. Translators used two words: “sloth” and “sluggard” in creating the English Bible. Both words mean slow-moving and lazy”.

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Given the foregoing, it is salutary to point out in this context that hard work produces wealth while laziness leads to poverty. After all, in Christendom, Proverbs 10:4-5 says “He who deals with a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes one rich.  He who gathers in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”

In the same book of Proverbs, chapter12 verse 27 says,  “The slothful man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession”, while Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of a sluggard desire, and has nothing, But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”

Still from the same book of Proverbs, chapter 24 from verses 30 to 34 says, “I went by the field of the slothful And by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.  When I saw it I considered it well, I looked at it and received instruction:  A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So your poverty will come like a prowler, And your want like an armed man.”

At this juncture, permit me to opine that no one should allow traducers, slanderers, and gossipers to distract them in the course of pursuing their dreams. The reason for the foregoing advice cannot be farfetched as it is one thing to have goals, and it is yet another thing to pursue them, and refuse to be distracted. Of more pertinent in this context is that success has eluded many people in life not because they lacked laudable goals, but because they could not stay focused on their goals and ignore whatever traducers and slanderers are saying about their capabilities and characters, and based on that avoid such distractions. Their thoughts and attention were drawn away from their goals, as they continued to listen to traducers and mockers, and thereby went off course from their dreams. 

If you’re going to achieve anything significant in life, you will expectedly face distractors, traducers, and gossipers. Nevertheless, you must not succumb to them. Everybody faces distractions, but not everybody responds to them. 

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OPINION

The Scourge Of Rising Inflation

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By Dakuku Peterside*
An increasing number of Nigerians are being driven into poverty, not by choice, but by the current political and economic climate, shaped by stringent macroeconomic policies. These policies, such as subsidy removal, devaluation of Naira, and increase in electricity tariff, have had unintended consequences. For instance, removing subsidies has led to a significant increase in the cost of living, while the devaluation of Naira has made imported goods more expensive. These factors, combined with the high level of insecurity, have affected food security in Nigeria and created a perfect storm of economic hardship. The signs of this unavoidable reality are readily apparent. The interventions to prevent this descent into poverty are either ineffectual or remedy the condition too slowly.
An unprecedented rise in inflation has destroyed households’ disposable incomes and pushed many families into poverty. Spiralling inflation is having a devastating impact on all, but especially on households in the lower rungs of the working class, who in their millions are joining the already over 133 million multidimensionally poor Nigerians struggling to earn a living because high inflation has eroded the value of their income. As shown by the NBS Consumer Price Index of April 2024, published in May 2024, the headline inflation rate rose to 33.69% in April 2024 compared to March. The headline inflation rate was 11.47% higher in April 2024 compared to the previous year. During the same period, inflation in urban areas was higher than in rural areas. Even worse, the food inflation rate in April 2024 was 40.53%, increasing by 15.92% compared to April 2023. What does this mean for the ordinary citizen? More money can purchase fewer goods and services.
We cannot dismiss the direct correlation between rising inflation and rising poverty in Nigeria. A household with a monthly income of N300,000 in April 2023 would have lost 33.69% of its real purchasing power if it earned the same amount in April 2024. This means that the same amount of money can now buy significantly fewer goods and services, putting a strain on the household’s budget. Imagine this household struggled in 2023 to make ends meet; how will it cope with less than 33% of its value in goods and services this year? It is little wonder many Nigerians are in despair and are calling on the government to tweak its policies and salvage the situation before it is too late. Families in the earning bracket mentioned above are even better than many whose total income is less than N100,000 if both parents in the household earn minimum wages per month.
The government intervention so far, with the best of intentions, has yielded little result as inflation continues unabated. The monetary policies of increasing base interest rates to above 22%, improving the cash reserve ratio by banks to above 40%, and constantly engaging in the money market to mop up excess liquidity have yielded less than the expected result in curbing inflation. More is needed, and my little knowledge of street economics shows me that the Nigerian economy often defies some fundamental economic concepts that work in developed countries because of our economy’s informal and unregulated nature. The Nigerian government must creatively use other bespoke and practical fiscal and monetary measures to tame our raging inflation.
Paradoxically, there is compelling evidence that inflation continues to rise because of critical government policies. Instead of providing more concerted anti-inflationary measures, the government has added more inflationary steps to the economy. The government cannot confront inflation while imposing limitless taxes, tariffs, and charges on the things that people spend money on daily. The impact of excess tax is on everybody, but the burden is more on people experiencing poverty whose purchasing power has been eroded by inflation. The government cannot tax itself out of our economic predicament. Increasing personal income tax is one way the government reduces disposable income to curb demand-pull inflation, but the inflation in Nigeria is not because of an increase in household income, but caused by cost-induced factors. So tax on people whose income has not increased in the past year is a recipe for hardship.
Other factors also imperil government efforts to curb inflation. Imported inflation has been the bane of Nigeria, given the number of raw materials and goods imported into Nigeria from countries with high inflation rates. This is not helped by the new exchange rate regime that has seen the Naira fall to its lowest value in a generation. The government has been trying to control the erosion of the value of Naira to no avail. The increasing cost of energy has pushed some businesses to pack up. These factors have exacerbated the rise of inflation, and unless the government starts tackling them, it cannot effectively win its fight against runaway inflation.
The consequences of inaction are severe and far-reaching. The system requires a set of anti-inflationary measures to relieve the people and companies so that livelihoods can improve, and real incomes recover from shock to encourage people to live and save. Savings and prosperity will fire up investment, production, supply, and consequent demand. If inflation worsens, the economy will, at best, go into stasis, further regression, and possibly depression. More manufacturers will quit, and unemployment will worsen with even more crime and insecurity. The picture I painted above is not far from us.
Recent statistics about the hunger level in Nigeria occasioned by food inflation are alarming. There is a deteriorating food security and nutrition crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states this lean season between May and September 2024. According to the Government-led Cadre Harmonise analysis released in March this year, in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states, some 4.8 million people are estimated to be facing severe food insecurity, the highest level in seven years. Children, pregnant and lactating women, older persons, and people living with disabilities are among those who are most vulnerable. About 2.8 million of these people need urgent interventions.
The prices of staple foods like beans and maize have increased by 300 to 400 per cent over the past year because of a cocktail of reasons. Inflation is outpacing the ability of families to cope, making essential food items unaffordable. Furthermore, the report stated that “malnutrition rates are of great concern. Approximately 700,000 children under five are projected to be acutely malnourished over the next six months, including 230,000 who are expected to be severely acutely malnourished and at risk of death if they do not receive timely treatment and nutrition support.”  The Acting Representative of UNICEF Nigeria argues that “this year alone, we have seen around 120,000 admissions for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition with complications, far exceeding our estimated target of 90,000”.  These statistics are for only 3 states in Northeast Nigeria. Imagine what it will be like for the whole 36 States in Nigeria. There is real fire on the mountain!
This rising hunger is not peculiar to the Northeast. From my knowledge of street economics, hunger and poverty is pervasive across all six geopolitics zones. Increasing poverty is directly linked with more severe economic outcomes. Increasing poverty can result in a more divided society, Issues with housing, homelessness, limited access to healthcare, nutrition poverty and poor living conditions that have a detrimental effect on one’s health. Children living in poverty have less access to education, which will reduce their chances in the future. More families facing poverty will experience conflicts, stress, and domestic violence. Poverty can set off a vicious cycle in which the effects of it act as catalysts for additional episodes of poverty. Increasing inflation and poverty are bad omens that blow us no good. They are bad for our economy. They are bad for our people. The government must pay attention to these factors and be more sensitive in our economic policy choices.
Only some anti-inflationary measures that comprehensively capture the macroeconomic dimensions and provide solutions may work. Poverty alleviation measures are barely temporary and, at best, work in the short run to cushion the effect of heightened inflation and food insecurity. The government should provide solid medium- to long-term solutions to tackle these problems. They should re-evaluate some of their policies to see whether they are inflationary and jettison them to allow good policies to thrive. We can only imagine the unintended consequences of allowing poverty and inflation to fester. The increasing inflation and poverty are creating desperation among a portion of society, which is increasingly becoming despondent and seeing itself at the fringes of society. The implications of this are plausible. Many ordinary citizens are burdened by poverty, hunger, and severe inflation, which have made their lives miserable. The government must take action to alleviate this scourge and help Nigerians lead meaningful lives.

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OPINION

New Approach To Combatting Terrorism In Nigeria: Truth Alliance And The Path Forward

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Terrorists

By Ahmed Mustapha*

Three weeks ago, a high-level UN counter-terrorism summit in Abuja concluded that a new approach to fighting terrorism was needed across Africa.

As the head of one of Nigeria’s largest NGOs dealing with this problem, I strongly agree and hope that the conclusions of this meeting will herald new and exciting approaches to reducing the risk of more violence and its terrifying consequences for the people of this country and the Continent of Africa.

The summit gathered one month after the brutal kidnapping of over 100 students from Kuriga, Kaduna State.  Even more recent kidnappings show how the terrifying reality of violent extremism remains in Nigeria. Both provide a stark reminder of the ruthless tactics of terrorist or violent extremist groups who target innocent civilians, using suicide bombers in markets, places of worship, and crowded venues, further exacerbating the region’s humanitarian crisis – all to further their cause.

As the summit discussed, the terror unleashed by Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), and their likes has led to widespread displacement, with millions forced into refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps under dire conditions. The social fabric of entire communities has been torn apart, with trust eroded and countless families mourning the loss of loved ones.

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But there is hope.  Our pioneering work to reduce the risk of violence and rehabilitate those who leave these groups and the tireless works of other groups like us give points to a new way forward.

Our work in affected communities is heralding great results and pointing to a new wave of defections and surrenders from Boko Haram for those fed up with the hypocrisy of its leadership, the brutality of its actions and the cruel manipulation of those whose job it is to recruit people into their ranks.

That is why a group of stakeholders, CSOs and concerned citizens formed the ‘The Truth Alliance’ – a network committed to unmasking the truth behind violent and extremist groups and empowering communities to resist tyranny and violence. Through education, outreach, and collaboration, the Truth Alliance strives to build a safer, more resilient society for all.

In a campaign tagged ‘Time to Tell the Truth’, the Truth Alliance has come together to expose the truth behind how violent extremist groups draw young people into their ranks. Their message is simple: these groups manipulate, they deceive, they control, they kill, and they destroy the hopes and dreams of people, their families and the communities in which they live.

In a new report, the Alliance has highlighted what we call “the significant revelations about the internal conflicts and growing disenchantment within Boko Haram.” We believe the group’s cohesion and operational effectiveness are weakening, illuminating the underlying vulnerabilities within its ranks.

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The personal testimonies from young insurgents who defected in April provide a disturbing glimpse into the group’s operations and the brutal reality that reveals the truth behind their recruitment practices, which contradict the group’s recruitment propaganda.  This manipulative recruitment strategy targets the most vulnerable, often deceiving them with twisted interpretations of religious texts.

The report also describes how Boko Haram, infamous for its brutal campaign of violence, has long engaged in atrocities, including mass kidnappings, indiscriminate killings, and the exploitation of children as soldiers. However, the growing number of surrenders and defections from Boko Haram indicates a loss of control and diminishing morale among its members.

If we act fast, these internal fractures are critical vulnerabilities that could provide opportunities for regional security forces to capitalise on. This could potentially accelerate the group’s decline and herald exactly what the summit asked for—a new scale of effort to tackle this enduring and terrifying problem facing the people of Nigeria.

*Mustapha is the spokesperson for The Truth Alliance and can be reached via info@truthalliance.org.ng

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OPINION

Manchester City Beat West Ham  To Become First Team To Win English League Title Four Seasons In A Row

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With Manchester City needing a win to be sure of holding off Arsenal, who started the final day two points behind but with a better goal difference, Phil Foden put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead after just two minutes.

The England star added another before the break and although Mohammed Kudus pulled one back, midfielder Rodri restored the home side’s two-goal cushion with a shot from the edge of the area after 59 minutes.

City survived a late scare when West Ham had a second goal ruled out by VAR for handball.

However, their victory was never seriously in doubt

The win completed a staggering run of 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa on 6 December.

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City have now won six out of the past seven Premier League titles. Last term, they joined Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, twice, in winning the top flight three years in a row.

Now Guardiola’s team have achieved something no other side has managed since the English league was formed in 1888, 136 years ago.

On 25 May they will aim to become the first side to complete the domestic Double in successive seasons when they face Manchesterter United in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Foden has already collected the Football Writers’ Association and Premier League Player of the Year awards. Few would argue against a clean sweep when the Professional Footballers’ Association eventually confirms theirs.

At 23, Foden now has six titles to his name. He is still a long way behind Ryan Giggs, who holds the record with 13.

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However, it is worth noting Giggs did not achieve his sixth until he was 26 and while the Welshman was 39 when he got his last, given City’s current dominance, Foden is likely to keep chipping away at that total in the short term.

Guardiola feels there is further improvement in the England international, but he has already developed his all-round game, makes better runs with and without the ball, and his close control is sublime.

James Ward-Prowse must have felt he was chasing shadows as he closed in to make a tackle when Bernardo Silva provided Foden with a square pass. But with one touch, Foden ghosted away from the West Ham man before delivering the perfect finish.

There was no real evidence of nerves in the crowd before kick-off. City had not lost at home all season and they had a 100% winning record against West Ham on home soil since Guardiola arrived in 2016 .

The visitors had nothing to play for, manager David Moyes is leaving and top-scorer Jarrod Bowen was ruled out with tonsillitis.

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But any home anxiety that did exist was rapidly swept away.

Foden’s second – his 26th goal of the season – wasn’t long in arriving as Jeremy Doku delivered a slide-rule, square pass through a crowd of bodies to the edge of the six-yard area. Foden was calmness personified in a frantic situation and found the net with a first-time finish.

Only a bit of bad luck and West Ham keeper Alphonse Areola prevented West Ham being completely swept away in the first half hour.

The France keeper turned away De Bruyne’s vicious free-kick, repelled Doku twice and also denied Manuel Akanji. Rodri, Erling Haaland, acrobatically, and Josko Gvardiol all missed the target from reasonably close range.

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