Professional athlete, Mike Olayemi Edwards, emerged as one of the favourites of fans and viewers in the course of the recently-concluded fourth season of Big Brother Naija reality TV show.
Apart from emerging first runner-up of the Big Brother ‘Pepper Dem’ edition, Mike, a product of a Nigerian mother and a Jamaican father, won many over by not becoming entangled with any woman in the house. He spoke to ADEDAYO ODULAJA in this interview
What is your view on the fact that Nigerians can’t stop talking about how you stayed faithful to your wife during the course of BBNaija 4?
I am a strong individual, a strong man and I didn’t show my weakness, so, to me that was just amazing. I expect nothing less from my girl. To remain in the house for 99 days I never had any personal doubts for me. It’s just normal. I made a commitment before I even said I do, I made it clear to myself to be faithful till death.
But was there any time you were tempted by any of the ladies or anything you saw?
No, there was no time like that. It was all about my resolve from the beginning.
Your wife has hinted of your plan to relocate to Nigeria from your UK base. Do you plan to see that through?
Yes, I plan to move to Nigeria immediately. My wife and I are making plans together. Right now, we are still discussing and making arrangements. For now, we are taking it day by day.
Being an athlete already means you are in the limelight of sorts, why did you decide go for Big Brother?
It was simply because I consider it one of the greatest platforms in the world and I wanted to challenge myself by going for it. To be honest, it was something I saw in the challenge and it was the fear of the unknown. It was more attractive to me because I knew that it was what I wanted to do, challenge myself beyond. You know, if you do the same thing expecting different results, it’s insanity. So, I knew, let’s try something like this and see how far we can go and it ended up being a great opportunity. I will never regret it.
You apparently fared well in terms of rating but do you think anything worked against you winning the show?
I can’t really say because I knew I was real. I can’t be anybody else but myself. I am confident enough to know that it pays to be myself. Truth be told, I feel like I can go through a lot of ups and downs and somehow find the way to persevere and you know, I’m an athlete. I can’t stop being me at this stage, I don’t know anything else that could be used as a strategy aside from me being myself. I know consistency is always key for me. So, that’s the only way I could describe it. I trust the process of being consistent every day, and I wanted to walk out a winner and it didn’t fail me, I walked out a winner.
So would you say you were disappointed with the final outcome?
No, absolutely not. I knew that stepping into the house was a win for me, anything else was a bonus. So, I always felt I am in the best time in my life, I just kept reminding myself that that’s why it was easy for me to have so much cruise because ultimately I knew we were all winners in our all unique ways.
What were some of the sacrifices you would say you made in the BBNaija house towards winning?
Of course, the sacrifices I made were disconnecting from my wife for 99 days. If I didn’t have the consent of my wife I wouldn’t have taken part in the show. I am a married man, I don’t have to discuss things that don’t need to be explained, and I think that’s the relationship I have with my wife.
Did you at any point think it was getting more difficult than you envisaged
Those were the times when I thought Biggie was at least going to surprise me with a visit by my family members or someone I know but it never happened and I had to hang in there.
You have a Cigar brand that seems to be the focus of your attention now. What’s it about?
Aireyys Cigar brand is an extension of myself. I have always seen myself as a brand. It is a distinguished taste, if you love it, you like it. My wife and my team, ran the business while I was away.
What is the status of your professional career as an athlete?
I represented Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and the African Senior Athletics Championship in Asaba in 2018. So, right now my focus is to set up my future with my family, so, that’s my priority right now.
How would you rate your familiarity with Nigerian culture?
I am every bit a Nigerian. My mother is Nigerian and my dad is Jamaican.
What are your thoughts about the Big Brother platform now having been a part of it especially as you regard it as a huge, global platform of opportunities.
It remains a truly global and exciting platform for me but I walked out of it with the lesson of never taking things too seriously. Also that one has to be brave enough to have an open heart. You never know when you’re going home, literally.
Over N13bn Industrial Development Centres in ruins
The 23 Industrial Development Centres meant to service small and medium scale enterprises (SMES) are derelict and have been taken over by all manner of people despite Federal Government’s repeated promises to boost SMES in the country. YEKEEN AKINWALE, who visited the centres, reports
…hoodlums, herders now in charge
The Nigeria’s Industrial Development Centres (IDCs) in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Kano have been taken over by racketeers, farmers and herders. The supervisory agency, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) appears not to be unaware of this ugly development. This was despite repeated promises by the Federal Government to rehabilitate the moribund IDCs across the states after admitting in 2016 that they had been abandoned and dilapidated. Inside their wide expanse of land were cattle grazing on dried grasses while structures with blown roof watched over the deserted field.
The offices were dusty with broken ceiling, doors and windows. There are machines in most of the centres but they are not functioning. Many of them have become obsolete and outdated. That’s not the only thing that is wrong with the centres. Perhaps, their locations are also part of the reasons for their abandonment. Many of them are located on the outskirts of the cities, which is not only counter-productive but a waste of resources. The centres are isolated in the villages, hundreds of kilometres away from the heart of cities where industrial activities are daily at peak.
For this reporter, it was a herculean task and almost fruitless search for the centres. The IDCs beam with all the features of forsaken places. They were shadows of their old selves. Their signposts that welcomed visitors have long faded. Only eagle-eyed visitors could see them from afar as the inscriptions on them had faded.
Farmers were the ones tending the abandoned centres while the Federal Government keeps mouthing their rehabilitations without taking action. Those interested in crop production were however not allowing their fertile soils to waste away.
The centres have also been overtaken by weeds and parts of them already converted to farms by some people, who probably are the custodians. As this reporter entered the centres pummelled by heavy rainfall, it became obvious that most of them have not worked or have been used for other purposes. It was reliably gathered that equipment, mostly fabricating machines, installed at the centres were never used up till when some of them were vandalised, stolen, or became obsolete. The roofs were partly blown off by storm while old vehicles littered the premises.
The large workshops are littered also with remnants of obsolete wood and metal works equipment. Every other place is overgrown including those that looked like newly constructed buildings. Tired of idleness, staff at the centres, Saturday Telegraph leant, stopped coming to work. They only came when there were trainees to be trained but such trainees it was learnt, are now usually taken elsewhere due to lack of appropriate machines for practical work.
In January 2016, a former Director- General of SMEDAN, Bature Masari, said the agency was working towards the upgrade and conversion of its IDCs to enterprise Centres and the Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) cluster parks in an effort to facilitate the speedy development of the MSMEs to enhance economic empowerment and employment generation. He gave the names of the IDCs slated for conversion to include those in Ogun, Ondo, Bauchi, Edo, Kano, Borno, Niger, Cross Rivers, Osun, Rivers, Sokoto, Adamawa State, and Kaduna states.
Bature also disclosed that IDCs in Enugu, Abuja, Lagos, Kwara, Plateau, Katsina, Imo, Akwa Ibom, and Taraba states would be converted into Enterprise zones because of their size to offer common facilities and workspaces to MSMEs in those states. He said SMEDAN was into partnership with Osun and Kano State governments for the redevelopment and upgrade of IDCs in Oshogbo and Tiga respectively where huge funds were being committed by the two state governments on the upgrade and conversion of the facilities.
When this reporter visited Kano IDC, there was no sign of any redevelopment. Like other centres, it was old and dilapidated. Bature, however, pointed out that while the Tiga IDC was in the process of being converted to a world class leather cluster park, more than N200 million had so far been expended on the improvement of facilities and rehabilitation of the Oshogbo IDC by the Osun State Government under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SMEDAN. Since then, nothing has happened to the centres; but the empty promises by government did not stop.
This was despite Nigeria’s growing unemployment rate, which stood at 23.1 per cent of the workforce in the third quarter of 2018, up from 18.1 per cent a year earlier, according to Yemi Kale, the Statistician-General of the Federation. “As of Q3 2018, the calculated unemployment rate was 23.1 per cent, the underemployment rate was 20.1 per cent, and the combined unemployment and underemployment rate was 43.3 percent,” the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a published report. In his message at the opening ceremony of the Lagos Leather Fair, the new DG of SMEDAN, Dikko Radda, like his predecessor, said the agency was collaborating with Kano State Government to redevelop a N12 billion IDC in Tiga Town of the state into a world class leather cluster park and training centre. This, according to him, will be in conjunction with Public Private Partnership (PPP) with stakeholders of the leather industry, including potential investors to embrace the project. He spoke through the agency’s Director of Engineering, Technology
Innovation and Infrastructure, David Abu Ozigi. Ironically, Kano IDC in Tiga Town is currently a grazing field.. There are no signs of any new investment at the centre when it was visited by this reporter. A year after, precisely in June 2018, Radda, again, announced that the Federal Government had put in motion the process of rehabilitating all the IDCs across the country. Radda, whose office supervises all the 23 IDCs in Nigeria, said that government had plans to transform the centres into world class enterprise clusters for rapid economic development geared towards job and wealth creation. He disclosed that SMEDAN in collaboration with Africa Development Bank (AfDB) carried out a study of the viability of the centres.
The bank, he said, sponsored the study at a cost of more than $600,000 for the six months period; the report of which he disclosed had been submitted to the government. While nothing has been done since then, Radda in November of the same year re-echoed that the Federal Government had put in motion the process of rehabilitating all the IDCs.
He was leading members of the Senate Committee on Industries on an oversight function to the Owerri Centre, and said the agency had commissioned a study in collaboration with the AfDB on how to rehabilitate the centres. “I believe that by the end of June, the project with the bank will come to conclusion. What we are waiting for is the submission of the full business scale for six out of the 23 centres,’’ he had said.
The Kano Centre in Tiga Town off Kano, Zaria Road, collapsed in 1999, according to Ahmad Yaro, an Administrative employee at the centre. Yaro is one of the remaining six workers at the IDC as it is called by people of Tiga. The centre was established in 1982 but suffered a setback when the Federal Government ordered a downsizing of the civil service. Inside its wide expanse of land were cattle grazing on dried grasses while structures with blown roof watch over the deserted field. Offices were overtaken by dust with broken ceiling, doors and windows.
There were no signs of life at those offices. “At the initial stage of my appointment, here was booming but all of a sudden, everything crumbled during 1999 rightsizing and downsizing activities of the Federal Government. No activity has taken place here since 1999,” Yaro said. Asked about the machines at the centre, Yaro said: “There are machines but are not functioning.
They are obsolete and outdated.” According to him, six employees are working at the centre, including its Coordinator whose office is in Zaria, Kaduna State. Due to the peculiarities of Kano for leather production, the IDC was intended to be a hub for leather work, but Yaro admitted that the centre, which also ought to carry out business appraisal, has not witnessed any productive activities for years.
This is in spite of claims by SMEDAN that the Tiga IDC was in the process of being converted to a world class leather cluster park. That’s not the only thing that is wrong with the centre. Perhaps, its location is also part of the reasons for its abandonment. Locating the Kano Industrial Centre on the outskirts of the Nigerian Northern commercial city is not only counter-productive but a waste of resources. The centre is in an isolated village—hundreds of kilometres away from the heart of Kano where industrial activities are daily at peak.
For this reporter, it was after more than two hours of fruitless search for the centre in the city that an official of the Kano State Chambers of Commerce and Industry gave a hint about its location. He said the IDC is located in Tiga Town, but without giving a specific address or landmark.
Before then, officials of Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in the city could not even make sense out of the name Industrial Development Centre. None among those asked had heard about it before, likewise artisans along Hadeija Road in the city. Sitting on Kilometre 1, along Tiga Hydro Electric Power Project, Kano IDC beams with all the features of a forsaken place. It is a shadow of its old self. The signpost that welcomes visitors has long faded. Only eagleeyed visitors could see it from afar as the inscriptions on it have long disappeared.
Just like in Kano, farmers are the ones tending the abandoned Rivers State IDC located in Port Harcourt. While the Federal Government keeps mouthing its rehabilitation without taking action, those interested in crop production are not allowing its fertile soil to waste away. The centre has been long abandoned. It has been overtaken by weeds and parts of it already converted to farms by some people, who probably are the custodians.
As this reporter entered the centre pummelled by heavy rainfall, he came face-to-face with farmers taking respite in an old and abandoned workshop— four of them—one holding a cutlass stood near the entrance of the building because of the downpour, the other three were in the workshop. Apparently, the centre has not worked or been used for any industrial purpose in a long while. This reporter was reliably informed that equipment, mostly fabricating machines, installed at the Centre were never used up till when some of them were vandalised, stolen, or became obsolete.
The roof of what looked like a 4-in- 1 workshop was partly blown off by storm while an old Volkswagen car was parked at the middle of the hall. The large workshop was littered with remnants of obsolete wood and metal works equipment. Every other place was overgrown including what seemed like a newly constructed building. But no one among them could explain its purpose.
Tired of idleness, staff at the centre, it was learnt, stopped coming to work. Any time there were trainees to be trained Saturday Telegraph was told that such trainees were usually taken elsewhere due to lack of appropriate machines for practical work.
“We have not received any information from Abuja about allocation of space to anybody. Here we cannot do anything, we don’t have that power to do anything and nobody has been given any allocation here as you can see,” he said. The centre has suffered years of abandonment that nobody seemed to know its location in Port Harcourt, even those who live around or operate businesses along NTA Road, Ozuoba, where it is located could not say the type of activities that take place within the large fenced expanse of land.
“The place is called ‘Industrial Gate’,” said a middle-aged woman, who roasts ripe plantain adjacent to the centre. Only a few locals knew it as ‘Industrial Gate’. Its large, almost faded signpost, which rests somewhere on the fence near the pedestrian gate, covered by shades provided by trees, made it hardly noticeable for onlookers or a visitor. Sam Egwu, a former Chairman, Senate Committee, once likened the Centre to a mechanic workshop when he led members of the committee on an oversight function visit.
He said observations from the visit showed that the IDC only existed in name. Lagos Lagos IDC is not better than that of Port Harcourt. There are only three entrepreneurs operating there; one producing custard powder, another, produces food seasoning while the third one cuts and supplies polythene bags.
Though the facility has the capacity to accommodate more than 20 operators, no fresh allocations have been made to SMEs owners, who had written down their names seeking for space to start their businesses. An elderly man, who identified himself simply as Ogbeh, secures the centre and kept a ragtag record of intending allotees. He operates from a ramshackle office with broken table and chair, with dust covering the broken furniture. Besides keeping eyes on the centre, Ogbeh also cultivates a vegetable garden on the unused part of the centre. His old notebook contained some names and phone contacts. There were two other female workers at the time of our reporter’s visit. The coordinator, who heads the Centre, was evidently absent on duty. There were no signs that the centre was working. While the two women informed this reporter that application for allocation of space had closed, they warned against giving money for allocation of space to anyone, who parades him or herself as agent of the centre. One of them, who later identified herself as the “Accountant” of the centre, lamented that some unscrupulous elements had been attempting to swindle unsuspecting members of the public. She said: “Don’t give anybody money for allocation because it is done from Abuja. We have closed accepting application for space. We are waiting for Abuja.”
According to her, about 40 people applied for space allocation after former occupants were asked to vacate the centre some years ago. With no signpost and definite address, locating Lagos IDC by our reporter was a near impossible task. Like its peers in Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja, only a handful of residents know about it.
However, the multi-colour faded paint on the fence, overlooking vegetation of trees like mangoes and cashew, gave an impression of a centre where activities were at its peak. Tucked somewhere in Raoni Estate, Ibese Road, Ikorodu, commercial motorcycle riders, who are reputed to be familiar with addresses could not locate the Centre. On Google map, the centre only appeared as situated along Ibese Road and no landmark to identify it. A resident, who seemed to know about the centre said the structures within were old and dilapidated.
“I was posted there in 2016 by the Lagos State government under its youth empowerment scheme for internship. But I didn’t stay there because what I wanted was a job and not internship,” the man said. According to him, the centre has a number of old and abandoned buildings when he last visited the place. Right inside, except for chirping and tweeting from birds, the centre was as quiet as a graveyard. To the left hand side of the centre stands a recently painted story building designated 4-in-1 workshop.
There are no tools or machines in its large hall, but a signpost at its entrance read: “Rehabilitation of 4-in-1 Workshop.” Further findings revealed that the two companies belong to the same persons. Officials at SMEDAN headquarters declined to supply the contract sum and the procurement documents for the two contracts. Other chalets were under lock and key albeit dilapidated. The facility is currently underutilised, overgrown by weeds though painted but not used structures, and a new transformer supplied by SMEDAN.
Management of SEMDAN insisted that occupants of Abuja Industrial Development Centre were using the facility for free. This is in spite of allegations of space racketeering involving officials of the agency. For instance, an entrepreneur, who gave her name only as Jane, narrated her futile attempts to get a space for her grain business. She had applied for space at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja but was told that there was no space. Since 2018 that she has been making efforts to secure a space allocation, bureaucratic bottleneck and racketeers have frustrated her dreams.
“I first visited the SMEDAN head office in Garki, in June 2018, to enquire about the centre. I met officials of the Engineering Department, who confided in me that there was space at the centre but only the DG could give approval, after which they would be directed to allocate.”
She alleged that officials of SMEDAN, who are the custodians of the IDC, took money from entrepreneurs to allocate them spaces. “Those who could not afford to pay were told there were no spaces,” she said. Head, Corporate Affairs Department at SMEDAN, Ibrahim Kaula Mohammed, however, rose in defence of the agency. He argued that the agency was not in the know of the underhand dealings allegedly going on at the centre.
“We are not aware of any of such things at Abuja IDC,” he said. The IDCs were established by past administrations to serve as support centres for Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in the country but are currently not functioning. The centres, according to information this paper gathered, may soon be demolished to give way to proposed industrial clusters.
The first IDC was established in Owerri in 1965 by the former Eastern Nigeria government, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and was taken over in 1970 by the Federal Government including the one in Zaria, Northern Nigeria, which was established in 1969. The emergence of the centres followed Nigerian government’s yearning to strengthen SMEs in the country.
They were established and located where the country has comparative advantage of natural resources. Experts who carried out the feasibility studies recommended that the government concentrated on five areas namely: wood work, metal work, automobile repair, textiles, and leather work.
At the time, the Federal Government spent huge funds providing workshops, machines, offices, and other amenities like motor vehicles. The IDCs, which were hitherto under the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, were later handed over to SMEDAN in 2011.
However the IDCs are currently wasting away due to years of neglect by the Federal Government. More than five decades of existence and poor management, the facilities—structures and equipment— have become obsolete. The current administration launched a MSMEs clinic across the states to fasttrack development of SMEs but did not articulate any action plan for the revival of the supporting centres. Visits to the centres in 2017 by the Senate Committee on Industry did not yield any results despite lamentations by members of the committee on its moribund state.
It was also leant that the IDCs were established to provide extension services to the SMEs in such areas as project appraisal for loan application, training of entrepreneurs, managerial assistance, product development, production planning and control, as well as other extension services. In 2017 and 2018 budgets, SMEDAN allocated N600 million to rehabilitate 12 of the centres. The amount was spent to construct fences around some of the IDCs and other renovation works. According to Mohammed, the agency inherited the centres “dilapidated” from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. “You may find all of them dilapidated. We inherited these IDCs in that state; dilapidated, roofs blown off everything was like that.
“We didn’t receive any kobo at this agency for IDC in terms of budgetary allocation until 2017. Any improvement you see on any IDC is only from 2017 and 2018. In 2017, we did fencing of IDC Benin, Katsina, Ikorodu, Owerri and Abuja; in Zaria we did general renovation of 3-in-1 workshop. In IDC Idu, roof was renovated,” Mohammed said. He said in 2018, the agency bought complete automotive component of waste to wealth equipment in Idu, Zaria and fenced Kano, Makurdi, Jos and Abeokuta centres. But that the IDCs would be demolished any time soon.
A viability study of them, he said, showed that despite the rehabilitation, they would be replaced with what would be known as industrial clusters. SMEDAN and AfDB carried out a viability study of all the IDCs. The study, which comes in two stages, has Outline Business Case (OBC), and Full Business Case (FBC). Saturday Telegraph gathered that the OBC has been completed and submitted to the AfDB, which has the final say to go ahead with the second stage, FBC. He said: “What we have concluded is OBC. That is to see how viable these centres will be if we turn them into clusters. We are supposed to engage auditors to audit the whole work. That is what is remaining and we have done procurement in that respect. An auditor has been selected. It is now for AFDB to agree with what we have done.
Once AfDB is satisfied with all the processes we would now sign a contract with the auditor.” The second part of the AfDB case, the FBC is going to demolish all those workshops (even those rehabilitated). But officials said that demolition of the workshop was what the consultant who carried out the study proposed. “And based on that proposal, at a minimum, there must be demolition. It might not be all, where we don’t have land, they might demolish it. We may now have vertical cluster where we can accommodate more SMES,” he said.
OTUNBA WANLE AKINBOBOYE: Nigeria can get 100m tourists in a year if we use our advantage
The story of Otunba Wanle Akinboboye who is the founder of La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Ikegun Village, Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos is like that of a mustard seed cast in 1984 in that dreaded forest, alone in a small tent. But almost 40 years on, La Campagne has assumed a larger-than-life status and on the global tourism map as the best African themed resort ever. In a conversation with ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA, Akinboboye reminisce on his life’s trajectory and keeping the flame of the resort aglow
What in your view has kept the flame of the resort aglow almost 40 years after you first set foot on this jungle now turned into an enchanting destination by you?
I think what we fail to realise as a people is that there are some persons that are called for a particular cause and for a particular reason. When you are called for a particular cause there will be passion associated with that calling. It is that passion that sustains the business. Without that passion you will have issues. If you weave it around automatic success then you will fail. Because associated with any journey there will be several failures but what makes you get up and proceed is the passion that you have for it.
Talking about being called, how did the call for this lifetime project happen for you?
You know a calling is usually not by the person that is called. A calling is divine. But when you are called, you usually don’t know why. Through inspiration things are happening. The first place that I camped in 1984 is Akodo Ise. Till today the road has not reached the place. This road (Pointing to the direction of the main raid leading to the resort) that you are looking at has not reached it. I left Akodo Ise to Lepia, it is next to Ikegun. We had actually started and till today our foundation is still there but they had issues, family problems and what not. Then I told the baale, ‘sorry, tourism can’t thrive in a hostile environment’ and I left for this present location in Ikegun. Every time the baale crosses over here from zero development in Lepia, and he is going to Ikegun, he will stop and be looking at what would have happen. Today, Ikegun is on the world map as it is known all over the world. So many of the women scouring the beach front and floors have built their houses here. Some of them their entire ancestry has never built a house but they have their own houses, concrete houses built in the village. When I first came here I think they had a maximum of seven concrete houses and the rest where thatched roofs and bamboo houses but today they have over 2,000 concrete houses. A Leonard Da Vinci can never know what inspired him to draw a Monalisa. Some people are called for those purposes. So, in short, you usually don’t know why or how you are called.
But how did it all begin for you?
I started in a tent; I camped in a tent all alone. It might sound unbelievable but I am an African and I came in with a passion of company building. Then I said this is what I need to do to have a practical company building movement. Put something on the ground. N o t theory b ecause there are so many theories and conferences. The best of the best have spoken the best of English. But for me, it is practical application in Tourism, Security, and Entertainment. We need to create our own stories, do things of this nature. I find it a bit funny when people are surprised that I camped in the forest all alone. But when I camped here people lived in Akodo Ise, Lepia, Ikegun and the other villages for years before I came.
How will you describe the journey from that little tent in 1984 to the massive development that the resort has become today?
I have a saying that ‘if it was easy everybody would have done it.’ Here you fight the elements of the environment, the weather, the salty air that destroys things. And when you are dealing with a community and you are sandwiched between two villages, I think about 75 percent of them will have a reason for this not happen. Even in the village that’s benefiting from it there is the issue of human jealousy. Then there’s the other village that might not even want such development for their next door neighbour because that will make their next door neighbour more powerful. The resort has hosted and it is still hosting ambassadors. It is hosting governors, hosting top level business people and they see Europeans go in and out. It is understandable and then you fight the aspect of even your staff. The most difficult aspect that you find difficult to believe is even the fact that the local people are more interested in being westernised rather than embracing their own culture. They have this inferiority complex that if they don’t speak English they are not intelligent, classy and are not accepted.
But why is this complex coming to play even in a local environment such as this?
I tell all my friends that is where African development is buried because among these 774 local government areas that house over 92 percent of Nigeria, that is where the Leonardo Da Vinci, and Ralph Lauren are, the inventors are, the Bill Gates are. But the only shortcoming that they have is because they can’t speak the language that is not theirs and so they die with their creativity. 1.4 billion Chinese people living on 9.6 million kilometres square area, you can come from the remotest part of China and have an idea and nobody will look at you in a condescending manner because you don’t speak English. And it is not about speaking English or not speaking English, it is really more of the condemnation or the condescending manner that we approach the concept that this man does not speak English and speak it well with a bit of American or British twist. So, the 923, 766 square kilometres area of Nigeria is basically being developed by less than 5 percent of the population and the less than 5 percent of the population may probably not be the brightest. The fact that you went to the United States of America does not make you brilliant but what it does is that it expands your horizon, gives you exposure. It doesn’t give you creativity or was I the only one that went to America? How many people that have been to the US have come back to do what we have done here?
How then did you get beyond this challenge to unearth the latent potential of the people and communities as you seem to have done with this project?]
What is not in you cannot come out of you. This is just a small portion of the 804 kilometres of beach front that we have in Nigeria. Just take the ocean economy, the ocean knowledge, and the ocean experience that is buried in these communities; from Lagos to Bayelsa, to Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Ondo. How are we going to deal with this as a people? When are we going to take advantage of our advantage in order for us to have an advantage? The truth is the only time that you have an advantage is when you take advantage of your advantage. The whole of England is 136 square kilometres areas, but Nigeria has 923, 766 square kilometres and they have two months to fully operate under good weather and we are rushing there every day, struggling to go in there. Japan can only access over 60,000 square kilometres areas out of it 337, 000 squares kilometres areas but they took advantage of their advantage, using their brains. They had 5 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017/2018 while the whole continent of Africa had 3.3 trillion GDP, with 30 million square kilometres areas, and 1.2billion population and another 1.3billion outside of the continent. The total population of Japan is 182 million and out of all known natural resources in the world they have zero. We have it all. You see the resort, when I started planting grass people said I was mad. Grass on sand! I’m sure you didn’t notice it (looking around) but now you are looking around! Oh, that is true. Most people don’t think about it. You see the water will come and cover the grass and it will go and the grass is still alive. So, you have sand, you have a bit of concrete and you have grass.
What has been the most challenging thing that you have had to conquer to get this far?
That is a very deep question because you know when you have done something for so long, two, three and four decades, with triple taxation and so many strange things and lack of acknowledgement by the right people who should have showed support. I think it is extremely difficult. I have to think about it. If it is just three, four, five years you can remember but when you are talking about four decades, it is a bit difficult to point to one thing because it has always been one challenge after the other till today.
What are some of the lessons for you?
The biggest lesson is that before you give up on anything you must think about the years that you will lose when you give up. Because if I have given up even five years ago and I say I’m tired, I would not have got from the government of Ethiopia 150 hectares of land to develop a hot spring, the first African natural hot spring resort in the world, to develop a river and mountain resort, all adjacent to the hot spring and connecting both attractions and transforming those two major attractions within a 150 hectare of land into a destination. I have seen all kinds of strange things but in the last two weeks (prior to the interview day) I saw the strangest of them all. I need you to imagine that our president, Muhammadu Buhari, wakes up today and just said to himself, ‘this Aso Rock is meant for the people, therefore, I am going to transform it into a tourist attraction. I’m going to build a legacy in Aso Rock; I’m going to build a museum, a zoo and the history of Nigeria from colonial times till date. And I’m going to take just 10 percent of Aso Rock and I will live there. I will dismantle the security barriers on the road, open it to the public.’ That is what the prime minister of Ethiopia has done. (I see you are surprised). When I entered the place, the history of Haile Selassie, the first car that Haile Selassie used, the dungeon where they used to jail and kill people and you have a video where you watch the people that have gone through torture and they are talking about their experiences. And I understand that once in a while the prime minister will come in to meet and greet people although I didn’t see him during my visit. This happened just two months ago at the presidential palace and he invited world leaders to the opening ceremony.
A lesson for Africa continent
It is a lesson that the entire continent of Africa should learn from and he said to the leaders that ‘my focus is tourism and it must begin with me. I don’t need all of these (the presidential palace), it belongs to the people. Let the people come in and learn their history. Let them come and see what was done yesterday, let them come and experience what we went through so that we can learn from our history and so that we can have a better future.’ Soldiers are still there but they will screen you and check your bag, top level security. I spent two and half hours there and walked through everything and they will tell you areas that you can’t go. And in one week, they gave me, a Nigerian, an African, the number one natural resource that they have, hot spring that is only in about three or four locations in the world. Signed, sealed and delivered. I had a member of the parliament follow me to the land to confirm, with ministers. That for me is the strangest that I have seen.
On the state of Nigerian tourism
What you don’t understand is that oil is a bye product of tourism. If one million or two million people come to Nigeria today and we are moving them around, you know how much fuel we will need? We might not even need to export our petrol if we take advantage of our advantage with the over 1.3billion people; we are the only region in the world, the Africa continent, that has 1.3 billion of its people scattered across the world. If we take that lemon and with the lemon of slavery, we squeeze it and we add sugar and water and transform it to lemonade, turn it to an advantage and take advantage of that. If Dubai can get 20million or 25million tourists a year we should be getting 100million. If we do 100 million or even 50 million and they are moving from here to Ife to see the Ooni of Ife, to Benin to see the Oba of Benin, to the east to see the bunker of Ojukwu and we weave the right story behind it and they go to Mount Patti in Kogi State where Nigeria name was pronounced Niger -Area, we will be moving in right direction. We have so much history and even if you replicate the life of Mary Slessor, you know how many Irish people that will come and see that? So, if you take advantage of all of these and you bring just 10 million people we won’t need to export our oil. And that is what Ghana is doing with the year of return project. They have just started; I hope you are following the trend. Just last month or so they gave 200 people from the Diaspora citizenship. A lot more are coming and they have taken advantage of their advantage. No one can take advantage of slavery but Africans. No one can have the advantage of slavery like Africans, not the Europeans. We have gone across the world, we have learnt their ways and we have produced the best footballers, the best singers, the best boxers and the best dancers, the best astronauts and the best technologists. But it will take a concerted effort like it took a concerted effort for them to take us on our part to bring them back.
Do you ever entertain fears over the future of the resort?
Well, I don’t know the meaning of that word, the only thing I fear is the day I start entertaining fear. That is the only thing that I fear, the day I start entertaining fear that is the day that I will panic. The growth of the resort is basically from the passion associated with it and based on that you have to remember the idea behind it in the first place. In retrospect, what that 29 year-old boy was thinking then was that he wanted to create an authentic African theme resort that he could sell all over the world the way Marriott Hotels is, with over 3,000 hotels, the biggest chain in the world. Think about La Campagne in just 1,000 locations, what will happen to the talking drum man that we buy talking drums from to hang on every door? Maybe there will be over a million doors then and so you sell maybe five million talking drums. And then you have the mat weavers, the African food market etc. It is massive.
Olamide, Phyno, Humblesmith, others for Ojoto 2020 Festival
Popular Nigerian music stars including Olamide, Humblesmith, Waje and Phyno have been announced as the headlining acts for the second edition of the Ojoto Carnival. Billed to for January 2, 2020, other stars in the performance line-up at the grand fiesta include Fireboy, Illbliss, Joeboy, Peruzzi, among others.
Speaking with newsmen on activities lined up to mark the annual event, Dr. Kennedy Okonkwo, who is the initiator of the carnival and chairman, Nedcomokas, disclosed that the initiative was borne out of the joy of the season and giving back to his community.
Okonkwo, who hails from Ojoto, a town in Idemilli South of Anambra State, said his town used to be a sleepy one but since the first edition of the carnival, it has created a platform for social interaction and also given room for homegrown artistes to develop their budding talents by sharing the stage with big music and comic acts. While reeling out the plan for the second edition, he said: “We have a beehive of activities for the Ojoto Festival in 2020 comprising a long line of musical artistes, so it’s sequel to the first edition of the festival, we are making this second edition bigger.”
Okonkwo, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Victoria Crest Homes Limited, also revealed that Alist comedians like Funnybone, Kenny Blaq, Ushbebe, among others will perform at this year’s event as well. He further stated that the essence of the carnival was to discover new talents and also give them the opportunity to share the same stage with other great artists.
Humblesmith, a popular Nigerian musical act, while also speaking at the press briefing, stressed that the expectations for the second edition is high and as such no stone will be left unturned in the edition to give it the recognition it deserves.
BBNaija’sIfu Ennada weeps, givesup
Ifu Ennada has announced that she will no longer be in the business of making skin care products.
One video that got a lot of people emotional sometime in the week was definitely that of BBNaija’s Ifu Ennada sobbing as she quit her skincare business. The reality TV star and actress took to her Instagram page on Wednesday where she shared a video of herself weeping as she quits her business.
“Hey, guys, Ifu Ennada here, I’m making this video to tell you guys that I have decided that I will no longer be selling my bold Ifuennda products because…” she said.
She went on to reveal that maybe this is what God wants her to do and that she has left the business in his hands.
“I can’t do this anymore…I’ve tried. I don’t know what God wants from me, I don’t know why this happened now… @beautifuennada is now in God’s hand. I’m done for now,” she wrote.
Ifu Ennada joined the growing list of former Big Brother Naija housemates who have ended their businesses for various reasons. Recall that a few weeks ago, Ella announced that she was ending her music career over lack of funds.
Donjazzy to reward Beatz awards winner with N1million
Mavin Record boss, Don Jazzy, over the weekend was honoured with a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by the organizers of ’The Beatz Awards’.
The music producer, singer and record label owner was honoured for his contribution to the music industry and had an award category named after him.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, Beatz Awards, Elijah John, ‘The New Discovery Producer category’ will now be called the ‘DON Don Jazzy New Discovery’ . While receiving the award at the Shell Hall, Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos, Don Jazzy added a twist to the newly formed category by pledging N1 million cash prize to the winner from next year’s edition.
He also thanked the organizers for the award and commended their consistency over the years.
“One of the great things about the fifth edition is that a category is created in the name of Donjazzy, and the winner will be going home with N1 million come next year, the way this is going to work is that, the new producers coming up with hit songs will be shortlisted for this category, and the best five will go into a battle whereby voting will commence for the best in the year of review.
We want to thank Donjazzy for the gestures of supporting this with a cash reward and we also want to thank the sponsors for believing in what we do,” the organisers said.
On including cash interest on the other categories, the organisers also added; “This is a start of such laudable gesture and we are considering other options to see how cash rewards can be included in some of the categories, meanwhile sponsors are already showing interest to support some other categories in terms of cash. So, by next year we will be unveiling a lot of things.”
The fifth edition of the awards was hosted by popular musician, Dr. Sid and the crowd was thrilled by amazing performances from Johnny Drille, Idyll, Reil C and top comedians like EmmaOhMygod, Dee One, Omo Baba, Phronesis among others.
I’m a porn star, not a prostitute –Actress Uglygalz Mareme
Uglygalz is fast becoming a leading porn actress in Nollywood, but she says many people will rather choose to see her as a prostitute.
The Nigerian adult entertainer, who has massive tattoos inked on several parts of her body, says getting people to understand that her personality is different from her chosen career has become a herculean task.
In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Uglygalz, revealed: “I am a porn actress, I do adult entertainment movies or what is called porn films. I have been called a sex worker several times. People mistake me for those who have sex for money.
I am an actress first and foremost and I get paid for acting aside enjoying what I do. Again, I have an opinion on who I choose to act with, there are protocols and several people are on the set but many people don’t see it this way, they still feel, it’s money for sex.
Often, I get calls from unknown men demanding sex from me. I recently got a call from a man, who said he got my number from my website and wanted to have sex with me for two rounds and I got so irritated that I just ended the call and blocked the number.”
As of 2014, young and single Uglygalz, whose real name is Mareme, has slept with over 100 men and has been confirmed as one of the verified porn actresses and producers on a popular X-rated content website.
She recalled, “As of 2014, I have had sex with over 100 men. Please, let’s not talk about it (laughs) but it’s not up to 1000 but getting close to 1000.”
Fear of flying stopped me from going to countries translating Things Fall Apart
Chief Pete Edochie is a Nollywood legend. In this interview with UCHENNA INYA in ABAKALIKI, he spoke about his refusal to join politics because of his aversion to lies, his role in the career of his actor son among other issues. Excerpts…
How can you describe the Nollywood industry?
Nollywood is doing very well but we require input of the government to expand the dimension of our operations. Overseas, governments help the people to project them through films but here we are victimized by religious conflicts. If it is the same God that created all of us, we should be able to do a production that should harmonize our differences and get us together and it is only when the government shows commitment in financial terms that you can do something like this.
If you go to a place like Dubai though I have not been there, the United Arab Emirates, is predominantly a Muslim Emirate but Dubai has become an economic hub of the world because they exposed themselves.
The West moved in and invested but in our own case, we seem to be closing the country up and it doesn’t make for development.
At the risk of sounding immodest, well, I am very easily the most celebrated name in the movie industry nationally and internationally because by the time I did ‘Things Fall Apart’ there was nothing like Nollywood and the book written by Chinua Achebe has been translated into 53 languages.
So, the film we shot is undergoing translation even without our own endorsement. Now, I have been invited to some of those foreign countries a couple of times but I am afraid of flying and I never went to those countries. I should be in the position today to advise the country on the nature of the film we shouldn’t shoot. I did a film with Genevieve Nnaji called Obiagu, it was taken out of the country.
Genevieve invested a lot of money in that production; all the cameramen and other people who made up the crew were from Europe. If you look at the people who starred in the production, nobody is a child. I am Obiagu, I am the main man then you have KOK, Zebrudaya, Nkem Owoh.
There is no beginner there, there is no small boy and you could see it in the film. The interpretation was fantastic; who was my wife?
Onyeka Onwenu, so it worked. If the government showed commitment, we can expand the movie industry to accommodate every segment of the society. It is the kind of obligation we owe to the society that has made us but like I said the government should be part of it. If the government is not part of it, it will remain a commercial venture by individuals who are short sighted because all the want is to make the money. I have gone beyond the stage in my life where all I have to think of is to make money, no! I am known everywhere.
I can’t do anything bad today, I will be easily identified. Your son has joined you in the movie industry and he is not doing badly. Did you actually prepare him for the industry? Oh! This is a very good question. I am not quite sure I played a major role in his own brand of professionalism.
Let’s put it this way, perhaps I inspired him to do a course in Theater Arts at UNIPORT, I didn’t force him; he chose it. He majored in directing and I told him listen: “If you will listen to me as your father, I’m old in this business and being a director will not explore or exploit your aesthetic potential to the full. You have a very good voice, you are a brilliant young man; you are good looking why not be in front of the camera instead of being behind it?” He did, he still thanks me till tomorrow.
But as a rule, I don’t make choices for my children; whatever you think you want to be, go ahead and achieve it. I told my children whenever you want to get married bring the girl to the house and tell me ‘Daddy I love this girl,’ then I will support you. We will go and see the parents of the girl. So, that is the kind of role I played in my son’s life.
So, if you think it’s major, well that is it.
People know you as an actor, could you describe yourself?
I was a broadcaster for 31 years. I trained professionally as a broadcaster in the BBC.
If I say I had a distinguished professional career as a broadcaster, I probably will be sounding very immodest but that is the truth. I retired as a Director and in the history of the e s – tablishment I was the youngest man to get to that level. By the time I retired I was under 60 but I had been a Director for 11 years and there is nothing else above that except you are waiting for a political appointment.
Most of our young men and women who are in the movie industry today, the moment you do a write up on them and praise them for a particular performance, it gets into their head and that is it, they don’t want to learn anymore.
By March next year, I will be 73 but I am still learning. The moment you stop learning, you are stymied and you don’t go beyond that and you will discover that you are a stranger wherever you go to but if you keep learning every new day something new comes into your head. I have a very big library, an incredibly large library both of books and music. I am involved with classical music; I have more classical music than every other individual in this country. It is very expensive but that is my field of interest. So, anybody who is going to overseas and approaches me and asks ‘Pete, what am I going to get for you?’ I usually say get me classical music. I have built a very large library of classical music.
If I am reading, I will be listening to classical music and I don’t go out very much anymore.
When I was younger, the spirit of adventure was pushing me around but today no. You don’t seem to be interested in political appointments unlike most of your colleagues. Have you accepted any? I don’t like politics, I want to tell you the truth, number one, given the kind of temperament that I have I can’t succeed as a politician, why?
I can’t lie to you. When we were in elementary school, we were told that if 10 birds perch on electric wire, if you shoot one, the other nine will fly away. In politics, if you think that if you shoot one the other nine will remain it is impossible. I mean, I can’t just be a politician.
It will be difficult to lie to anyone and my father told me never to lie no matter the situation and I have so many sons and I have to raise them the way my father raised me. Politics tend to divide us here in South East but I want to use culture to get all our people together. Only we the South Easterners pray and bless kola nut. We also celebrate yam festivals and no other tribe does this. So, if we get the Igbo states together and choose one date for new yam festival simultaneously across all the areas Igbo are, it will be a fantastic thing because most of the brothers in America have been told that they were sold by our forefathers. When they come back, we shall tell them the true story.
Remember it is the white men that came to our land to take our people, we did not go there and we didn’t sit down to conspire and sell off our people, no!
You visited Ebonyi State recently; how do you see developments there? What the Governor is doing in Ebonyi State defiles description. I asked a question and said “have other governors come to visit Ebonyi State?” There is a reason why I asked that question. For a man to be executing projects of this nature and then still be able to honour his commitments to civil servants at the end of each month, is an incredible achievement.
I started coming to Ebonyi State during the time of Sam Egwu, then from Egwu to Elechi and I have not seen Dave Umahi face-face. But each time we sit down to discuss in Enugu where I stay and you mention Ebonyi, the impression you get is the spontaneity of the compliment that actually engages your attention. By the time Governor Umahi finishes his tenure, whoever that takes over from him will just relax because the person will have little work to do.
When I was serious about evangelism I was driving past Abakaliki towards Ogoja and the rest and Ebonyi State was not like way it is today. Ebonyi under Umahi has recorded massive developments; the Governor can use resources remarkably well.
HEPATITIS: A KILLER DISEASE WITHOUT CURE
Treated as opportunistic infection; attention not given as a public health concern –Doctors
Viral Hepatitis is an international public health challenge, comparable to other major communicable diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Despite the significant burden it places on communities across all global regions, the disease is said to have been largely ignored as a health and development priority until recently. Isioma Madike, in this report, examines the virus, which over 20 million Nigerians are said to be living with
Ndukwe’s body temperature suddenly became high and the mother, who wished to be identified only as Adaobi, panicked and rushed him to a nearby hospital. At the hospital, the doctor examined the boy and recommended a test to determine what the problem was. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was wrong, and a different ailment other than what it was, was discovered. The result wrongly indicated a malaria fever and treatment commenced immediately. Two days after, the doctor noticed the boy’s eyes had turned yellow, and this prompted him to ask for another test in a different laboratory.
When the second test was out, it turned out to be Hepatitis B infection. And a confirmation of that was done at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos. A drip laced with relevant drugs was given to flush his body system. But, it wasn’t just working.
Quite a number were given afterwards and the condition did not improve. So, the mother became worried. Adaobi said: “We became anxious because the nurses were just pumping water into his body system without any improvement. At some point, we became agitated; we knew something was wrong.
How could he be taking drips upon drips yet there was no improvement? “After five days in that condition, he stopped urinating and he couldn’t also defecate. The doctors had to force a pipe through his genital to force out urine but he didn’t seem to feel anything and we suspected he’d gone by then. By this time, his eyes had become completely yellow like one with jaundice. Unfortunately, we lost him on the sixth day at the hospital. At that time we didn’t understand what Hepatitis is and how deadly it was.”
Ibukun had a similar ailment about two years ago also. She was 14 years old then. She had gone out for a Ghanaian food to celebrate her friend’s birthday. Although she wasn’t particularly crazy about Ghanaian foods, she didn’t want to miss the party. So, in August, 2017, Ibukun and a dozen girls from her secondary school sat down to plates of Kenke, and dried fish at a restaurant somewhere in Ikorodu. Within a few weeks, one of Ibukun’s friends developed fever, stom achaches, muscle pain, weakness, nausea and vomiting.
Then her urine turned dark brown, her skin became yellow, and she couldn’t breathe without feeling like she was being stabbed in her abdomen, just below her rib cage. Frantic, the girl’s parents took her to the doctor where a blood test revealed the diagnosis: Hepatitis A virus.
Unfortunately, the girl died. Apart from Ndukwe and Ibukun, there are many more Nigerians, who may have been infected with the deadly virus without knowing it. Just recently, on October 2, to be precise, World Hepatitis Eradication Nigeria Commission raised the alarm over the looming health danger posed by the uncontrolled spread of Hepatitis in the country. The organisation noted that between 20 and 30 million Nigerians are already infected by the virus. President of the commission, Dr. Mike Omotosho, who made the revelation, said out of the 20 million Nigerians estimated to be chronically infected with the deadly Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), children were most infected. According to him, Hepatitis BV was 50-100 times more infectious than HIV with several modes of transmission.
Omotosho made this known while briefing newsmen in Abuja a few weeks ago. He lamented that though Hepatitis B, which presently has no cure, could be prevented with the use of a vaccine. Incidentally, it was not getting the needed attention as a public health concern, especially among the citizenry,” he further said.
He added: “Studies have shown that Hepatitis B is common among children in Nigeria while A and C are common among young people. Not many civil society organisations and government agencies make conscious effort to create awareness about Hepatitis as a standalone ailment. The awareness creation activities conducted during the celebration of World Hepatitis Day is not enough to bring about the desired result.” According to Omotosho, Hepatitis C, a blood borne virus, which was 10 times more infectious than HIV with no preventable vaccine or cure, and Hepatitis A, were more common in young adults.
He said: “Globally, it is estimated that two billion people have been infected with HBV of which approximately 240 million are chronically infected with HBV. Among those with chronic HBV, up to 30 per cent go on to develop liver disease. “The average prevalence rate for HBV in Nigeria ranges between 11 and 13.7 per cent with an estimated 20 million Nigerians chronically infected. There is no known virologic cure for HBV infection, however, antiviral treatment has
been shown to reduce the transmission risk, decrease the likelihood of developing liver complications resulting in death and improve prognosis. “Nigeria is estimated to have one of the highest cases of Hepatitis B in the world at 12.2 per cent, which translates to about 20 -30 million persons affected by the Hepatitis virus. The country is also bedeviled by the other forms of Hepatitis virus such as Hepatitis A and C and more recently Hepatitis E, especially in the Northeastern region as reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2017.”
Omotosho said that in Nigeria, Hepatitis was treated as an opportunistic infection common among HIV/AIDS patients and as such, it was not given the needed attention as a public health concern. He called for deliberate efforts by relevant stakeholders to eradicate Hepatitis and stressed on the need for an effective advocacy, awareness, provision of counselling, viral screening, vaccination, referrals and treatment in an equitable manner, in order to ensure zero transmission of Hepatitis cases in the country by 2030. The most common modes of transmission, he said, were through HCV- infected blood, unsafe medical procedures, and sharing of needles and sharps.
Less common modes of transmission, according to Omotosho, are sexual and perinatal transmission. He further said that the Hepatitis Zero Commission would focus on advocacy for its prevention and treatment to achieve zero cases in Nigeria as a contribution to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and the WHO June 2016 global health sector strategy, owing to the public health burden that hepatitis represent. The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Dr. Doyin Odubanjo, refers to Hepatitis as an inflammatory condition of the liver. He said that the disease was commonly caused by a viral infection, but that there were other possible causes of Hepati tis.
These, according to Odubanjo, include autoimmune Hepatitis and Hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. Autoimmune Hepatitis, he further said, occurred when human body made antibodies against their liver tissue. The liver, he also said, is located in the right upper area of the abdomen and performs many critical functions that affect metabolism throughout the body, including: bile production, which is essential to digestion, filtering of toxins from the body, excretion of bilirubin (a product of broken-down red blood cells), cholesterol, hormones, and drugs.
It also breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and activation of enzymes, which are specialised proteins essential to body functions and acts as storage of glycogen (a form of sugar), minerals, and vitamins (A, D, E, and K), synthesis of blood proteins, such as albumin as well as synthesis of clotting factors. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment options vary depending on the type of Hepatitis. One can prevent some forms of Hepatitis through immunisations and lifestyle precautions.
However, viral infections of the liv er that are classified as Hepatitis include Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of virally transmitted Hepatitis. Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term disease, while Hepatitis B, C, and D are most likely to become ongoing and chronic. While Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women. Hepatitis A is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by faeces from a person infected.
The virus is said to be one of the most common causes of infectious Hepatitis in the world. It enters the body through the mouth and spreads quickly from the intestine to the liver, where it destroys liver cells. The virus then enters the gall bladder, travels back to the intestine, and is excreted in large quantities in the stool. Some people, such as young children, never develop any symptoms when they are infected. Not so for others, such as adults older than 40, who become seriously ill. In Africa where there is inadequate separation of sewage from drinking water, almost everyone is infected.
Around the world, millions are also said to be infected and thousands die every year. Hepatitis B, on the other hand, is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen, containing the HBV. Injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person increase the risk of getting Hepatitis B. Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact.
HCV is among the most common blood borne viral infections. And Hepatitis D, according to medical experts, is contracted through direct contact with infected blood. Although it is a rare form of Hepatitis that only occurs in conjunction with Hepatitis B infection, the virus can’t multiply without the presence of Hepatitis B. And Hepatitis E, a waterborne disease, is mainly found in areas with sanitation and typically results from ingesting faecal matter that contaminates the water supply. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage and inflammation.
This is sometimes referred to as alcoholic Hepatitis. The alcohol directly injures the cells of the liver. Over time, it can cause permanent damage and leads to liver failure and cirrhosis, a thickening and scarring of the liver. Other toxic causes of Hepatitis include overuse or overdose of medications and exposure to poisons. In some cases, the immune system mistakes the liver as a harmful object and begins to attack it. It causes ongoing inflammation that can range from mild to severe, often hindering liver function. It’s three times more common in women than in men. If one has infectious forms of Hepatitis that are chronic, like Hepatitis B and C, it may not have symptoms in the beginning. Symptoms may not occur until the damage affects liver function.
However, signs and symptoms of acute Hepatitis appear quickly. They include: fatigue, flu-like symptoms, dark urine, pale stool, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, and yellow skin and eyes, which may be signs of jaundice. Odubanjo said that chronic Hepatitis developed slowly that signs and symptoms might be too subtle to notice. To diagnose Hepatitis, he said, first the doctor would take the patients history to determine any risk factors that he or she may have for livinfectious or noninfectious Hepatitis.
He added: “During a physical examination, your doctor may press down gently on your abdomen to see if there’s pain or tenderness. He may also feel to see if your liver is enlarged. If your skin or eyes are yellow, your doctor will note this during the exam. “Liver function tests use blood samples to determine how efficiently your liver works.
Abnormal results of these tests may be the first indication that there is a problem, especially if you don’t show any signs on a physical exam of liver disease. High liver enzyme levels may indicate that your liver is stressed, damaged, or not functioning properly. “If your liver function tests are abnormal, your doctor will likely order other blood tests to detect the source of the problem. These tests can check for the viruses that cause hepatitis. They can also be used to check for antibodies that are common in conditions like autoimmune Hepatitis. There could also be an abdominal ultrasound waves to create an image of the organs within your abdomen. “This test allows your doctor to take a close look at your liver and nearby organs.
It can reveal: fluid in your abdomen, liver damage or enlargement, liver tumors and abnormalities of your gallbladder. Sometimes the pancreas shows up on ultrasound images as well. This can be a useful test in determining the cause of your abnormal liver function.
“There is equally a liver biopsy is an invasive procedure that involves your doctor taking a sample of tissue from your liver. It can be done through your skin with a needle and doesn’t require surgery. Typically, an ultrasound is used to guide your doctor when taking the biopsy sample. This test allows your doctor to determine how infection or inflammation has affected your liver. It can also be used to sample any areas in your liver that appear abnormal.” Treatment options are determined by which type of Hepatitis one has and whether the infection is acute or chronic. Hepatitis A, for instance, usually doesn’t require treatment because it’s a short-term illness. Bed rest may be recommended if symptoms cause a great deal of discomfort. “If you experience vomiting or diarrhea, follow your doctor’s orders for hydration and nutrition,” Dr. Nnamdi Okafor of the Glorious Hospital, Ketu, said. The Hepatitis A vaccine, according to him, is available to prevent the infection. Most children, he added, began vaccination between ages 12 and 18 months.
“It’s a series of two vaccines. Vaccination for Hepatitis A is also available for adults.” But acute Hepatitis B doesn’t require specific treatment. Chronic Hepatitis B is treated with antiviral medications. This form of treatment can be costly because it must be continued for several months or years. Treatment for chronic Hepatitis B also requires regular medical evaluations and monitoring to determine if the virus is responding to treatment. However, it can be prevented with vaccination. Vaccinations are recommended for all newborns. The series of three vaccines is typically completed over the first six months of childhood. And it is also recommended for all healthcare and medical personnel. Also, antiviral medications are used to treat both acute and chronic forms of Hepatitis C. People who develop chronic Hepatitis C are typically treated with a combination of antiviral drug therapies. But those who develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver disease as a result of chronic Hepatitis C may be candidates for a liver transplant.
Being an MC is lucrative, pays my bills –MC Kris
Iji Christian Agbike popularly known as MC Kris, is a young and versatile entertainer. In this interview with DEBORAH OCHENI, the graduate of Benue State University spoke about his fashion philosophy and sundry issues.
While shopping, which fashion item catches your fancy?
While shopping the fashion item that catches my fancy the most is sneakers. Which fashion accessory do you live for? Bracelets and wrist watches.
Do you conform to trends?
Which fashion trends do you love most? No, I’m not a trend kind of guy.
How comfortable do you feel in jeans and T-shirt?
Jeans and T-shirt are comfortable wears for everyone; so for me I feel very comfortable because they make me feel light.
What makes a man well dressed?
To me, what makes a man well-dressed is simply whatever he wears and he is comfortable with himself first.
Whose celebrity style do you like most? Celebrity style I love the most are Bankole Willington, popularly known as Banky W and Richard Mofedamijo popularly known as RMD.
Fashion wise, do you have a role model?
Fashion wise, people like Bankole Willington( Banky W), Richard Mofedamijo (RMD) will always be my top pick or choice.
Is there anything you are unlikely to be caught wearing?
Yes ooo.. all those coloured trousers and wearing shorts with long socks, chaiii god forbid bad thing.
What is your ready to go outfit?
I will go for T-shirt or Polo and Jeans because they are mostly outfits that wouldn’t make me look too serious.
They are simple, smart and not much stress to get them ready.
When it comes to fashion, would you say your physique works to your advantage?
Yes, my physique really works to my advantage and I hope to model someday. Which outfits take up most space in your wardrobe? Native wears take most the space. My love for native wears makes me do much of them. And also I get designers who cloth me for free to promote them at events too. What is your costliest fashion possession? How much did you get it? My costliest fashion possession is one of my Native Agbadas, and it is just 65,000 naira How do you love your shoes? I love them very simple and not dramatic.
What determines what you wear? What I wear is basically determined by the kind of place or event I’m dressing for. If am home, am likely to be on my shorts and polo shirt, if I’m going out to anchor a corporate event am likely to be on suit, if am going out to Mc a traditional marriage I go on native dress, and so forth.
What do you think of modern designers?
Their creativity has gone into another level entirely. Daily they are out with new style. Kudos to them
Who is your best designer?
DANIEL’S STITCHES, A young and upcoming fashion designer
Do you have a signature perfume?
Antonio Bandaras Seduction for men Do you have any fashion obsession? Yes ooooo, I can use my last money to get Sneakers and sew native wears.
There are people looking up to attaining the height that you are now, what is your advice for such people?
My advice to them is to believe in themselves because the world can’t believe in you when you don’t believe in yourselves and also to thrive in the industry you have to be consistent and creative in what you do.
I travelled from Abuja to Lagos, paid for my transportation and accommodation fee to anchor a wedding for free, so don’t be money conscious initially.
How do you handle female fans’ excesses? Handling female fans excesses is not such a big deal with me at all, I try as much as possible to reciprocate their gestures but in a casual way.
I try to be friendly and let them know that I appreciate their support. Aside anchoring events, which other businesses are you into? I work with Itel mobile as Itel Sales Rep, I’m a Nollywood actor and I am currently working on becoming an event management businessman.
I am an On Air Personality and I’m presently working on establishing other businesses with friends.
Entertainment industry seems saturated; how do you intend to keep afloat?
Saturated is an understatement but despite that, I intend to leave a mark and stay at the top for as long as possible and I intend doing that by been unique and employing creative means to distinguish myself from others in the industry.
As an MC, how do you cope paying bills?
Would you say the career is lucrative enough? Being an MC is a lucrative career and it’s enough to pay my bills but I still have other engagements that compliment my earnings.
Paying bills as an MC at the initial stage could be difficult but with consistency, u get to a point where people get to see the value of what you do and are willing to pay for it then u see jobs coming from every angle making things a lot easier. Does your background influence who you are now? My background sure have a hand in who I am now. I grew up in Lagos and the street of Lagos as we know is entertainment on its own. It was in that spirit that I ventured into MC career then adding acting, OAP and event management to it later on. Are you satisfied with your choice of career? I’m very satisfied.
As the saying goes ” make your hobby your work and you will never work for the rest of your life. I’m doing what I love doing so it’s so easy and smooth for me.
What inspires your various creations?
My creativity is mostly inspired by things happening around me, I pick events and occurrences within my vicinity and the world at large and interpret it in a way that will be entertaining to my audience. Sometimes I go off trends to do something unique that will be known as my trade mark too. What is the major challenge young artistes face in Nigeria?
The major challenge is platform, if you don’t have a platform, your talent is useless. Secondly these young talents are not encouraged, sometimes we beg organizers and even pay to be given the opportunity to perform. Would you say government has done enough for creative people in Nigeria?
I won’t completely discredit government’s role in supporting creative people but I can say they haven’t done enough. I remember a time that I was shooting a short movie and I approached a customary court to use their court room for one of the scenes, they declined because I didn’t have money to dole out, and things like that can be discouraging.
There are some infrastructures and policies they can put in place to make our work easier. I believe they can do better.
As an MC, what is the gap you hope to bridge in the industry?
MC’s most of the time are not given the credit they deserve like those in other areas of the entertainment industry. Organizers will pay music artistes to come perform, pay camera men to cover the event, pay comedians but when it comes to paying MCs they start pricing like they are in the market square.
They be like, is it not just to talk for few hours? But they don’t hesitate to give the music artist who will only perform for few minutes good pay.
As an Mc, I Intend to change this narrative by been principled in my negotiations and letting event planners and organisers know that we are professionals that deserve respect and good pay too.
Do you have any specific research process when anchoring a new event?
Before every single event I go to anchor, I run a research on the kind of event that it’s going to be.
These include knowing the religious beliefs of those having the events, knowing the kind of people that will be present, determining if it’s a corporate or casual event.
These will help me to know the direction from which I’m to approach the anchoring of the event. Other times I go as far as writing a script for the event.
Was there anyone in your family who made you develop interest in what you do presently? None, it is just my passion and love for what I do, even though I have some of my uncles that are into it as well but I got to know them lately.
Who inspires you the most in entertainment industry?
I am inspired by so many, take for instance in Movie industry, Ramsey Nouah inspires me the most, In comedy the likes of Eneche .O. Eneche, Des-talker AY and Bovi etc.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself sitting at the top in the industry and becoming a household name and at that point, I see myself organizing events and creating platforms for upcoming entertainers particularly MCs to showcase their talent and bring them to limelight.
Are you a fan of ankara prints?
Yes, I am a fan of ankara prints, having a fashion designer as wife, what do you expect?
What is your take on African traditional wears?
They will always be my favourites, because they bring beauty on anybody that put them on and speak volume of our heritage, culture, language etc, they distinguish us from the rest of the world.
Do you consider any fashion item indispensable?
How easily do you get your fashion items in Nigeria?
Through the help of a fashion designer.
IKOSI/KETU FRUIT MARKET: A MARKET IN RUINS
The famed Ketu-Ikosi Fruit Market in the Ketu area of Lagos State was demolished on Friday, November 8, by mobile policemen allegedly on the orders of the chairman of Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area (LCDA. ISIOMA MADIKE, who visited the market on Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday, brought back touching stories of those who lost their all in the ruins
It is traumatising to see the elderly shed tears. The wrinkled face of an agonising old woman or man is one that many will not like to see. But, at the once beautiful but now destroyed famed Ikosi-Ketu Fruit Market, where many, including the elderly had earned a decent living, such looks now abound in abundance.
Alhaja Silifat from Osun State is one of such elderly women in pains at the market. She is 78 years of age. Silifat’s tears will melt the hardest of hearts. She did not only lose her means of livelihood but her dignity as a human being. Her small kiosk where she sold a variety of fruits now lies in ruins. Since Friday, November 8, when two bulldozers, escorted by policemen, allegedly from task force, demolished the market to shreds, Silifat has not been the same.
Speaking through an interpreter, she said: “They have succeeded in making me a beggar at an old age. What have I done to deserve this cruelty? This is the handiwork of AbdulFatai Ayodele Oyesanya, the chairman of Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area (LCDA). Please tell him to leave our market for us. We are too old to be used and dumped.
“When they were campaigning, they begged and promised us every good things so we can vote for them. Now that they are in power, they want to turn us to their slaves. I have been in this market since 1976, and I can’t now imagine myself been turned into a beggar because of their selfish desires.
“He said he wanted to rebuild the market to make it more modern without telling us how it could benefit us. We know their plans; he only wants to take away our only means of livelihood. He would rather kill all of us here before he can actualise his wicked cravings.”
Another old woman, who identified herself simply as Mama Janet, also claimed to have been in the market for 35 years. She is from Ekiti State. She trained her children and feeds from the proceeds of the fruits she sold in the market. But, not anymore!
“This market is my life. Do they want me to learn how to steal at this age? We did not vote for hardship; we voted that life could be better. Oyesanya should pity us as we have no other place to go to. He said he wanted to rebuild the market; can someone like me be able to buy any shop after their re-modelling? God knows we are not obstinate; we are only pleading to them not to sell this market to their cronies,” she said.
Other traders, especially women, were seen wearing long faces when the Saturday Telegraph team visited the market on Tuesday. They looked confused about their fate after the demolition of the market. Some of them were however, seen doing their normal business, while others were salvaging their goods from the debris. Lorries carrying plantain and fruits, such as watermelon, oranges and pineapples could not offload, due to the untidy manner of the environment. And buyers who had come from different parts of the state were looking dejected as they appear stranded.
A man, who was identified himself only as Baba Ologede, said that different versions of the intentions of the LCDA concerning the market had been flying around since the demolition of the market. It’s hard to believe anything as it is now, he said.
“The point is that many people make their daily living from this market. Not only that, some micro-finance banks have given money to many traders to expand their businesses. I know someone, who has just collected N150,000 and has not paid back a dime.
“We have been here for the past 40 years and this is farmers’ market, not just any market. Farmers bring in their goods straight from the farms and we sell and return the money to them to do more farming. So, to just wake up one day and start demolishing such a place will not work. However, some of us still believe the reason for the demolition will be sorted out very soon,’’ he added.
Another, who pleaded anonymity, told one of our reporters that the demolition is for a particular section and would not extend to other parts of the market. According to him, the plan by the LCDA was to rehabilitate and expand the meat section of the market. He said that the roof of the meat section had been removed, while sand, cement and planks to be used for the expansion had also been procured.
He recalled that attempts were made in 2017 to move the market away from its present location, but that the LCD’s efforts were frustrated by the traders and market officials, who believed that the relocation of the market would not benefit the citizens. This, according to him, eventually led to the ongoing development of a new Mile 12 Market at Imota, after Ikorodu.
When contacted, the Babaloja (Leader) of the market, Lambe Dauda, said that the issues surrounding the market were simple but logical. He admitted that Oyesanya invited the former market executives to a meeting where he intimated them with the LCDA’s plan to rebuild the market, and invited them to meetings, but that in many of such meetings they never arrived on a compromise.
“Instead of finding a way to sell his ideas to us amicably, he initiated another meeting where he merely told us that the contract to rebuild the market had been awarded and all papers perfected. He told us that the contractor would soon start his work. We were surprised because we never agreed on the modalities; we didn’t agree with him on how he planned to go about it. Before we knew what was happening, he started bringing thugs to molest and intimidate us. He just wanted to cow us to submission but we resisted that.
“After that we saw one Chris, whom the LCDA chairman said he awarded the contract to. The first time he came to inspect the market he came with thugs and two armed riot policemen as if we were in a war situation. We never disagreed with the re-modelling of the market; we only insisted on transparency of the contract. To us, everything was muddled up. Besides, his tenure in the council is coming to an end. There is no way we can trust that he could finish the job before he leaves office.
“We suggested that more contractors should be invited and that the bidding should be transparent so that everyone will be on the same page. We just wanted to make sure that we are not cheated out at the end of the day. Government has the right to re-model any market in the state but we should be carried along. I don’t think that is too much for us to ask for. We told him that since we are mere traders, we would like our lawyers, theirs and that of the contractors to sit down, look at the issues and resolve the gray areas.
“The Kabiyesi, Olukosi of Ikosi, was even involved at some point. He summoned us for a meeting in his palace to discuss the issue. On getting there, we met this same developer in the palace. Kabiyesi told us in that meeting that he had prepared a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of us, the marketers. He said that he wanted the developers to rebuild the market in such a way that it won’t disturb anyone of us in our daily activities. At his palace, we also pleaded with him to allow our lawyers to see what was being prepared. At that point, he postponed the meeting to a later date.
“We were waiting for that meeting when we got information that the council had perfected plans to demolish the market. What we heard was that they were coming on that fateful Friday and that was exactly what happened. They stormed the market by 10 am and hell was let loose with the traders running for their lives as the riot policemen were shooting sporadically and teargasing us without provocation. You are here now and have seen the ruins of the once beautiful fruit market reputed to be the largest in Nigeria. We have made our intentions known to the Iyaloja-General of Lagos. We have no confidence in Oyesanya and his developer,” Dauda said.
His deputy, Salami Jimoh, also said that the late Babaloja, Taofeek Akande, whom the council chairman had meetings with, last year told them that what the council proposed would not be in the interest of the traders.
He said: “It was on that basis that he rejected their proposals and we sat down to take a decision we felt would be in our interest. We communicated that to Oyesanya but because he was bent on destroying the market, he never listened to us. One of the cardinal things our late Babaloja told us was that we must make sure we involved our lawyers in the discussions and that is what we still stand on.
“We are not saying no to their plans but let there be equity, justice and fairness. The man died in August and the market was destroyed in November. We sincerely did not bargain for this; this is inhuman to say the least. The council chairman is so petty to the extent that when our late Babaloja died, he couldn’t even send a condolence message to us because the man disagreed with his plans. That is the kind of person that is managing our local council.”
However, attempts to get Oyesanya to state the council’s position looked frustrating until Wednesday when one of our reporters ran into the LCDA’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Odufowokan Oluwaseyi, who handed a press release signed by the media team to Saturday Telegraph.
According to the release, the market has been in deplorable conditions for several years and efforts of the local council to convince the market leaders and their members of the need to transform the market into a modern, international edifice, was initially resisted.
“Perishable foods, which take the lion’s share of the market’s goods are always kept in unhygienic places, posing health hazards; there are flashpoints as den of miscreants, street urchins and armed robbers, who molest traders and buyers with dangerous weapons, thereby constituting public nuisance; drainages blocked with wastes and the inner roads: swampy, nauseating and in terrible state, especially during rainy season. The whole market is an eyesore and has degenerated into a slum and jungle.
“To stem the tide, the local government held series of meetings with stakeholders: the two Paramount rulers; Babaloja, Iyaloja, entire leadership, including the youth wing. Barely a few months ago, a mutually beneficial agreement was reached with all stakeholders, who in turn, promised to disseminate the information to the appropriate quarters. It is on record that these gory sights were some of the chief reasons the immediate past administration of the former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, closed down the markets thrice.
“Surprisingly, the determination of the local government to ensure a hitch-free implementation of the agreement was thwarted on Friday, November 8, by the spontaneous mob attack on the contractors on site, by hoodlums, who, according to reliable reports, threatened to maintain the status quo ante.
“In an interview aired on a national television on that Friday, one of the trader fingered the market leaders for not sensitising their members on the agreed date the contractors would move to site. He also alleged that the market leaders recently collected N5,000 cash from each trader, purportedly to construct drainages in the market but there is nothing to show for it.
“The government of Ikosi-Isheri LCDA has fashioned out a plan of action in conjunction with an investor in a Private Public Partnership (PPP) agreement, to construct a modern market, to meet the international standards. Trading will continue during the operations and traders will be provided with temporary shelters to secure their goods.
“Based on enumeration of traders in the market, all the affected traders will be given priorities in allocation of new shops. The new market will be in storey building, with lock-up shops and modern facilities like toilets. The shops will be sold at affordable prices. Outright payment and/or installments are acceptable.
“The Engr. AbdulFatai Ayodele Oyesanya’s administration of Ikosi-Isheri LCDA is poised to upgrade the LCDA to the mega city status of Lagos State. No stone will be left unturned to put smiles on the faces of the good people of the LCDA. Construction of new modern markets, new administrative office complex and other infrastructure are some of the signposts of a developed economy.
“However, we are soliciting the support and cooperation of all concerned to ease the tasks ahead for the betterment of Ikosi-Isheri LCDA of today and future generations,” the statement stated.
Meanwhile, hundreds of traders on Tuesday stormed the Lagos State House of Assembly protesting the demolition of their market even as they continue to count their losses. They lamented colossal loss of their goods worth millions of naira during the sudden invasion. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which covered the protest, reported that the protesters, mostly women, arrived at the assembly en masse, chanting different songs and carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Among the inscriptions on their placards were: “Re-modelling is a politically coined language to sell our market, we say no to it’; ‘Nigerians of conscience should come to our help’. ‘Governor Sanwo-Olu please help us.”
Others were: ‘Our market is not to be sold in any form’. ‘We will explore all legal options to stop the satanic demolition of our market’. ‘OYESCO should be called to order; Ketu/Ikosi Market belongs to all, it must not be sold. ‘Our market is our DNA, is not for sale; It’s our lifeline’, ‘we will protect it with our lives’, Ketu/Ikosi market belongs to Yorubas, Hausas, and Igbos. It must not be sold.”
The leader of the protest, Mrs Adebukola Adejuwonbi, according to NAN report, said the market was being destroyed without proper notification from the appropriate body. Adejuwonbi indicted Oyesanya as the prime mover of the demolition of the market.
She said: “We came from Ikosi/Ketu fruit Market. I am one of the sellers at the market. On Friday morning, caterpillars came to demolish our market without any notice. They said that if we wait, they will kill all of us. We were told they have sold out the market to a contractor to build an estate where we are selling our produce.
“We cannot challenge them. They even fired guns at us. Some people died, while some people sustained serious injuries. Amidst all this, the Chairman of Ikosi/Isheri Local Council Development Area chairman, Fatai Oyesanya, was standing upstairs telling the caterpillars to move on.”
Adejuwonbi said that they had to run for dear lives since they did not have any weapon on them. “This is why we decided to come here to plead with the Lagos Assembly and the governor to come to our aid and deliver us,” he added.
Another trader, Mrs Yemisi Balogun, urged the government to come to their aid by helping them to get their market back. Balogun said that their livelihoods depended largely on the market to cater for the needs of their children and households.
She said: “Since they say the government is for the people, so, we are here to cry to them that they should come to our aid and deliver us from the destruction of our market. It is from the market we get money to send our children to school. By doing this to us, we are going to suffer. That is why we are here to plead for intervention on this issue.”
While responding to the demands of the traders, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, who was represented by the member representing Shomolu Constituency 1, Hon. Olowo Rotimi, said that the Chairman of the local government had been cautioned.
He, however, added that moving Lagos forward should be done wisely without causing pains on the people. “My colleague and I have called on the Local government chairman to stop his action for now and I know that Mr. Speaker and other colleagues will be interested in this case and they will call the chairman. We have told Mr. Fatai Oyesanya to stop forthwith and I am sure we are going to resolve it. I believe you will get justice,” Rotimi reportedly assured the protesters.
The popular fruit market in Ketu area of Lagos State recently succumbed to the cruel blades of bulldozers as the authorities of the local council in charge of the area allegedly ordered for its demolition to pave the way for a modern market. The development, however, witnessed cries by several market women, who thronged the site begging the policemen, who were stationed there to allow them to go in and salvage their wares.
They claimed their produce destroyed runs into millions of naira as most of them had just stocked their shops with various items. Many of the market women, who claimed to be widows, were, according to them, refused entry into the market by the police, who were shooting canisters of teargas as the demolition exercise continued.
The Ikosi-Isheri LCDA, according to sources, has awarded the contract for the reconstruction of the dilapidated market to Total Value Integrated Service Limited, which is committing about N2.8 billion for its modernisation. Around 10am last Friday, November 8, two bulldozers, escorted by policemen, allegedly from task force stormed the market to ensure that there was no resistance during the demolition.
According to reports, there was initial resistance from touts in the market, who hauled bottles at the police. The police responded by shooting sporadically in the air to scare away the touts and also shot several canisters of teargas to disperse traders unwilling to leave the market. Some of them, who were in the market earlier, were able to salvage some of their wares, but others were not as lucky as they were prevented from gaining access into the market by the policemen.
Some of the traders, reports said, lamented that they were informed sometimes ago about the demolition, but said they were not informed a day prior to the pulling down of their shops. One of the local Coordinators of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), in the area, Adebowale Adetona, was quoted to have said they were informed some weeks ago that they were coming to demolish the market, but that they did not notify them of the latest development.
But Chris Onyekachi, Managing Director, Total Value Integrated Service Limited, reportedly told newsmen that the traders’ were giving adequate notice to vacate the market for redevelopment. He added that series of meetings were held with the traders union, traditional rulers and council members on the proposed reconstruction of the market. He said that the two traditional rulers in the area, the Alaketu of Ketu and the Onikosi of Ikosi, were aware of the market development plans.
“We gave them three weeks’ notice, which expired and we gave them another seven days’ notice to move their wares to other areas of the market. We held meetings with the Iyalojas, Babalojas and we agreed on the mode of demolition. Some people kicked against it and because we want peace to reign, we met with the obas and they saw reasons why the market should be reconstructed.
“Some miscreants don’t want the redevelopment. We are not interested in chasing people away from the market. Those who own shops earlier will be considered first in re-allocation at a discounted rate. We want to upgrade the market to meet the Lagos mega city standard and we are doing it in phases. We will not shut the whole market.
“The development will be in four phases and the market occupies 25 acres. We have 18 month duration to rebuild the market and we will invest about N2.8 billion in the reconstruction. The reconstruction of the first phase will begin in January,” he said.
Additional report by Okikiola Craig
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