My personal experience with former Rep., Nwoko.

By Owenna  Owenna

In the year 2001, the then Chairman of Aniocha North Local government area, addressed a press conference where he said that Aniocha North students in tertiary institutions received bursary from the local government.

It was on the news and many parents heard the news as reported but it was not true. Check out what five thousand naira would have done in the life of a student in 2001, most parents did not send money to their children after hearing that news, they felt that Government had given them temporary relief.

Interestingly, I was a student of Delta state university, Asaba campus and I fell into the category of those whose parents were relieved by the news of that bursary. We waited to see if the Chairman could communicate to us or at worst debunk the report but to no avail.We engaged the chairman peacefully via series of dialogue yet we could not get anything positive from him neither did he debunk the report.

Trust students! On that good day, we mobilized ourselves under the aegis of Aniocha North students in Asaba campus of DELSU and stormed Issele-Uku, the Headquarters of Aniocha North LGA and straight to the chairman’s office in protest to demand an explanation from the chairman and to prove a point to our parents that no such money was paid to us.

Every effort we made to see and speak with the chairman was resisted but we also refused to succumb to threats from him, even when the DPO led a team of policemen to chase us away, we stood our ground. The entire secretariat was tensed but like the biblical pharaoh, the Chairman’s heart became hardened the more, he insisted that he was not coming to address us, we also refused to go without seeing him face to face to express our grievances, though we did not take laws into our hands.

Suddenly we sighted a very sizeable convoy of cars and we suspected that a high government functionary was coming around, we intensified our protest as the convoy approaches. Behold, a man alighted from the black SUV, dressed on white native attire with our traditional red cap and walked down to where we were.

He was the member representing Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Ned Nwoko.

When he approached us and tried to make us listen to him, we refused because we had made up our mind that all of them were the same.

Little did we know that an Angel could be found among evil politicians in Nigeria and Delta state in particular. He joined us in our aluta songs and made few dance steps to demonstrate to us that he shares our feelings with us.

Thereafter, he asked that we should explain to him what the matter was, we stated our case to him. He asked, ” what did the chairman say”? He refused to see us! We chorused. Hon Nwoko said and I quote, ” I am going to make sure that the Chairman comes out to address you guys now”.

He did not stop there, he asked how many we were that embarked on the protest? we counted and found out that we were forty(40) students. Instantly, he pledged to assist all of us to pay our school fees for that session. One Mr Nwandu was ordered to put down our names and the communities we hail from.

Nwoko walked into the chairman’s office and immediately came out with the chairman to address us. Hon Ned Nwoko did not just make the pledge, he fulfilled it. I got my own cheque, it was the defunct Hallmark Bank, they had no branch in Asaba, we cashed the money at the Onitsha Branch.

I decided to bring up this event that happened in 2001 because of the attitude of today’s politicians. If the guys we have in various elective offices today render any kind of help, some of them go as far as photocopying cheques, some take snap shots, others video such help for records and put them in handbills purposely to seek cheap popularity for next campaign. I doubt if Hon Ned Nwoko could still remember if he met forty students that came to protest in 2001.

That is how you know a man that does things not for you to pay him back. I was opportuned to be in his campaign train in 2003 and 2011, there was no place where he made reference to this particular help he rendered to us neither have I seen it in any of the publications about him.

That tells me that there are countless good deeds of this great Anioma son that people are not aware of till date. He does good not because he need something from you but because it is in his nature to do good.

Historical facts behind Idumuje Ugboko palace coup

BY Hezy  Odoh

Historically, Idumuje people who are part of Idumuje clan in Aniocha North L/G.A. Delta State trace their roots to ancient Bini kingdom, just like most of Ezechima and Odiani people that left Benin in the 18th century.

Idumuje Unor and Idumuje Ugboko are one people that settled in different locations. They share boundaries with towns like Igbodo in Ika North East LGA, Onicha Ugbo and Ugbodu,in Aniocha North LGA and Ewohinmi in Edo State.

They belong to the Igboid linguistic group, but their political power structure, institutions and practices; draw largely from the ancient Bini kingdom.

Agriculture was their major preoccupation, but over time, commerce and other crafts as well as blue collar jobs, professional training, etc, have become part of the transformation that came with access to education and exposure to other civilisations.

Idumuje Ugboko is the epicenter of this analysis and it must be said that to understand a people one must look at their history, mores, social and interpersonal relationship, religion, culture and other values that inform their world views.

Hence they say that those who ignore the lessons of history would repeat its tragedy.
A lot of half truths and misleading facts are been fed to the public through a media team whose mandate is to propagate false hood.

To understand the unfolding events, it is important to follow the historical trajectory of the hidden discontent and structures in the Royal family and the Idumuje Ugboko before the death of the king.

The Royal family in Idumuje Ugboko is among the ten largest in the world. Idumuje-Ugboko which is some four kilometers away from her sister community Idumuje-Uno was founded by a large number of people who migrated Idumuje-Uno as a result of a quarrel on the Odogwu traditional chieftaincy title as it where then at Idumuje. This exodus was led by Nwoko a candidate for the Odogwu chieftaincy title who later became the first Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko.

What is happening in Idumuje Ugboko kingdom today has all the trappings of a palace coup d’état and the two surviving widows of the late monarch are not hiding their views about the bizarre event.
They have written a petition to the Inspect General of Police, demanding for an autopsy of the late monarch whom they claimed was strangled to death. and the IGP has directed that an autopsy should be carried out on the late king.

At the time of this report, a petition was written to the Assistant Inspector General of Police zone 5 in Benin city to enforce a warrant of arrest which has been issued against Prince Nonso Nwoko is battling over five criminal cases.

Bench Warrants of Arrest has been ordered against Prince Justin Chukwunonso Nwoko in the stated charge no: CMA/420C/2016 and CHARGE NO: MUO/5C/2016 since March, 2017 and renewed on 29th June, 2017.

It is a fact that when the case came up for continuation of hearing on 29th June, 2017, the Police Prosecution Counsel who at the sitting of the court on 31st May, 2017 had applied for an order of the court which was granted by the court in (charge no: CMA/420C/2016) to enable the police verify the medical certificate from the Hospital Management Board, Owa-Oyibo tendered by Prince Barr.

Mbanefo Nwoko (Counsel to the Accused) as reason for the first accused absence in court, tendered before the court a disclaimer of the medical report from Hospital Management Board, Owa-Oyibo which was tendered on behalf of Prince Nwoko who was absent in court on 31st May, 2017 by the counsel.

The Chief Magistrate in his ruling on 29th June, 2017, ordered the police to investigate the said medical report from Hospital Management Board, Owa-Oyibo with a view to unraveling those behind it.

The medical report is alleged to have been forged. So far, Nwoko has used the excuse that he is mourning the death of his father to avoid responding to the police invitations. A conviction on any of them could disqualify him from the kingship aspiration.

The move to drag the star university project into the kingship tussle is only a ploy to exploit the emotive content associated with land matters to garner support for his schemes and divert attention from real problems that are rooted in history, culture and destiny of the people.

As stated above, there are historical and socio-cultural issues associated with who becomes the next monarch in Idumuje Ugboko after the demise of the last monarch. Before his exit, there were deep crisis in the Royal family as reflected in a position paper presented by Prince Dan. O. Nwoko, to the inaugural meeting of the Umu Obi Omorhusi Executive Council in the Royal Palace on April 6, 2016, in Idumuje Ugboko.

Some of the issues raised centered on lack of respect for senior members of the Royal family, exhibition of acts of indiscipline and unbridled ambition, disregard for traditional and protocols, usurpation of the functions of the monarch and the concept of primogeniture in Idumuje Ugboko kingdom.

Prince Dan O. Nwoko raised issues concerning primogeniture, qualifications and eligibility of the presumed Crown Prince eventually qualifying to exercise his birthday right. In other words, “the term Crown is a floating term as it hovers over whosoever is tagged the ‘Crown Prince’, until it crystallizes and rests on his head that is when he is put on the throne.”

Therefore, it can be frustrated under unwritten customs and laws. Such frustration can take place under the following circumstances: If the Crown Prince is pre-deceased the reigning monarch; If the Crown Prince is of unsound mind and is incapable of knowing or understanding what he is doing. No one will have an idiot as a king; and if he is arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction of criminal offence, found guilty, sentenced and or fined. Certainly, no one will like to crown a criminal or ex-convict as a king.

This has three dimensional phases taboo stage, tragic stage and tragedy stage. The three stages must be completed, before action can be taken for the ambulatory (floating) crown to continue its movement and search for the right person.

The tradition of Idumuje Ugboko allowed the period of regency from 1955 to 1981 when departed HRM Obi Albert Nwoko, III, Ph.D, MON, JP was crowned the Obi of Idumuje-Ugboko.
Even though it is an established tradition that to be crowned king, both parents of the Crown Prince must be bonafide indigenes of Idumuje-Ugboko, in this case, mother of Prince Nonso Justin Nwoko hails from Ubulu-Uku in Aniocha South Local government. His own wife and mother of his children hail from Anambra state.

There are two contenders to the throne, who Prince Justin Chukwunonso Nwoko, whose mother is from Ubulu-Uku, been one, and Prince Uche Stephen Nwoko, a son of a woman who hail from Idumuje-Ugboko.

Royal watchers assert that right from the first monarch, HRM Obi Nwoko I, his first son, Prince Omoje never ascended the throne because his mother was from neighbouring and sister town Idumuje – Unor. The crown went to Prince Omorhusi Nwoko, Prince Omoje s first son whose mother hailed from Ogbe-Ofu village.

When Obi Omorhusi died, his first son Prince Justin Nkeze Nwoko whose mother was from Atuma village in Idumuje-Ugboko became king and known as Obi Nwoko II. When Obi Nkeze died in 1955; the issue of succession came up because the actual first son died before him.

Prince Rowland S. O. Nwoko, who showed interest, was denied because his own mother was from Idumuje-Unor. The choice fell on Prince Demas Nwoko, but declined because his wife is from Umunze in Anambra state and that disqualifies his children from succeeding him as kings.

The mother of Prince Albert Nwoko was from Ugbodu and his wife was from Ubulu Uku, these precipitated a regency period from 1955 to 1981 (26yrs). The situation became unbearable for the people. The elders and the chiefs then met and contrived a plan to make Prince Albert Nwoko the king but with a proviso that he must marry a woman from his native land whose first son would succeed him for the throne.

Even before his contrived death on February 6, 2017, the late Monarch had been held prisoner in the Palace by Prince Nonso, Prince Richard Obiajulu and Prince Ejimofor amongst others. He was made unreachable and rendered incommunicado by some cabals in the Palace. Not even his wives nor the chiefs could reach him yet he was not in poor health.

The crown prince took over the administration of the kingdom, issuing proclamation which led to the Chiefs instituting a civil case in suit No. HCI/1/16 before the State High Court Issele-Uku in March, 2016 and obtained an Injuction retraining Prince Chukwunonso and others from usurping the duties of the Chiefs. This court order he has flouted severally.

Prince Dan O Nwoko warn him in his Position paper of April 2, 2016, cited earlier in this article. According to the tradition of Idumuje Ugboko, a Crown Prince does not participate in the administration of the kingdom while the father is alive. In one of such Court matters, Prince Edwin Nwoko deposed to an affidavit discontinuing with the matter claiming that they were acting without authority of the king or the family at large.

The Iyase of Idumuje Ugboko, Chief Chris Ogwu, the Odogwu Chief Sunday Edemodu, the Chairman of the Land Allocation Committee, Chief Kennedy Illoh, members of the Onotu amongst others participated in the Izu-Ani where the application for the allocation of the land for the Star University project have all become victims of acts of vandalism, arson and threat to their lives.

These issues have not been resolved and could not be resolved by evoking emotions on issues that are already in court of law. Some of these excesses have been afoot in the past four years when the Crown Prince relocated from Lagos to Asaba, as he claimed, to monitor the events in the kingdom..

The issue of acquisition of land and payment of compensation to the farmers has been in Court in the past two years. The process of ascending the throne in towns within Aniocha North is duly recognised by the Council of Traditional Rulers and the Delta State Government, it would be a bad precedence to allow a palace coup and usurpation of the kingship throne in Idumuje Ugboko to succeed no matter how persuasive the propaganda may seem, the rule of law must prevail above the rule of the jungle and brute force.

Assertion from the publication is that of the author, Ugbaja, who wrote from Lagos

Exclusive: Market outlook indicates Nigerian economy emerging from recession

By Jide Ajia

Despite slow pace of economy in mend, emerging signals from across finance and investments clime have indicated that the nation’s industries have been recovering from two years recession,  20 years ago.

Although, paths leading to the recovering destinations have been clouded with many factors, but the recent approval of the long-delayed 2017 budget should provide greater policy certainty in the months ahead.

Against odds, the federal government in recent times appeared to be up in alms while looking for growth to eventually return any moment from the current half of 2017, including good earnings expected to be delivered by companies very soon.

In addition, oil production has increased so far 2017 as threat from Niger Delta militants recedes; however, despite Nigeria initially being excluded from further Organization of Petroleum exporting Countries (OPEC) output cuts, talks have been centered on whether to include the country in the deal in a bid to curb supply of oil  across international market and boost prices.

Encouragingly, the foreign exchange window introduced in April, which allows buyers and sellers to agree on an exchange rate, is succeeding in attracting dollars from abroad, with over $3 billion been traded since the launch, as well as stock market boom recorded in recent months.

To this end, the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, intensified efforts by forwarding over N135 billion as virement for critical and prioritized projects from the bill, to House of Representative for approval.

Through a letter forward to the floor by the office of the acting president recently, the presidency provided, with breakdown, ministries and offices considered critical to be funded.

However, the letter which The Guild sighted after it was delivered at the floor of the lawmakers, listed ministry of transport, that of power, works and housing, and office of secretary to the government of the federation, as well as office of national security adviser as beneficiaries of the virement.

Others on the list were, ministry of society and technology, trade and investment, agriculture and rural development, interior, defense and education.

The prioritized ministries and office also includes federal capital territory administration, ministry of health, office of secretary to the government of the federation, ministry of labor and employment, information and culture, as well as communication technology.

Of course, the letter before the house of representatives had ministry of water resources, that of mine and steel development, as well as ministry of environment, as government offices the presidency put under critical need for funding.

In same development, Osinbajo also assured citizens of economic recovery  during his speech that commemorated June 12 election , adding that, from bleakness of recession to dawn of abundance was becoming a reality as indices indicated.

Osinbajo disclosed that the nation’s path to progress and abundance was clear, given that tools were in place and resilient, resourceful and hardworking Nigerian people were also set to go.

“I have no doubt that by the grace of God, the bleakness of recession is about to witness the uplifting dawn of abundance”, he said.

With Osinbajo’s statements of hope, assurance was becoming a reality following indices released on Tuesday that Inflation has fallen for fifth successive month, between February and June 2017, just as the Naira gains stability against dollar, and margin between interbank and parallel market rates been  narrowed considerably.

However, surveys by investment analysts indicated that Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index (NSE) recorde encouraging result in recent months, about 20 per cent higher than beginning of 2017 value, and surge was largely attributable to new Investors and Exporters Window (NAFEX) introduced by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in April.

In specific terms, transactions on NSE during current week closed with market capitalisation crossing to N12 trillion threshold for first time in over two years when it grew by N142 billion or 1.19 per cent to close at N12.085 trillion as against N11.943 trillion achieved on Monday.

Also, the All-Share Index moved to 35,000 mark, appreciating by 412.95 points or 1.19 per cent to close at 35,065.47 compared with 34,652.52 posted on Monday.

The Chief Operating Officer, InvestData, Ambrose Omordion, linked the growth to half year impresive report and interim dividends declared by some quoted companies.

Omordion added that investors’ anticipation of more improved half year earnings contributed to the current price rally witnessed on the floor of Exchange.

In the same vein, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in same week retained Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent due to uncertainties across global market.

However, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, explained that the MPC decided to retain MPR at 14 per cent, retained CRR at 22.5 per cent, the liquidity ratio at 30 per cent, assymetric corridor at 200 and of minus 500 bases point around the monetary policy rate.

Emefiele, disclosing outcome of 257th meeting of  MPC on Tuesday in Abuja, added that the MPR was not eased because it could signal the committees’ sensitivity to growth and employment concern by encouraging flow of credit to real economy.

According to him, the MPC noted the liquidity suffering in the banking system and continuous weakness in financial intermediation, even as the MPC also agreed on the need to support growth without jeopardizing price stability or offsetting other recovering macroeconomic indicators, particularly the relative stability in the Foreign Exchange market.

As a result, the Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves proved stable in recent months, even against a backdrop of continuing CBN intervention in the FX market.

Already, the new investors and Exporters Window (NAFEX) has picked up momentum and powered a turnaround in investor sentiments related to the FX market, with the window has traded around $3.8 billion since it launched on April 24, roughly a third of such volume has been supplied by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Nonetheless, the nation’s crude oil production has improved appreciably, coming in at 2.05 million barrels per day in June 2017, according to the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC’s) May 2017 operations report, average daily gas supply to Nigeria’s power plants has risen by 64 per cent, compared to a year ago, May 2016.

On account of rising exports and falling imports, Q1 2017 was the second consecutive quarter of positive trade balance when exports was greater than imports, after four quarters of negative balance.

Facts obtained from the CBN data from June 2017, showed a rise in Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a measure of the health of the manufacturing economy, for the third consecutive month.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in Q1 2017 exports of agricultural goods grew in value by 82 per cent compared to Q4 2016 and manufactured goods exports in Q1 2017 were 45 per cent more than the value in Q4 2016, while Q1 2017 saw the fourth consecutive rise in exports since Q1 2016; amounting to a 109 per cent increase year on year.

17 years barren couple’s bad, ugly journey before sextuplets blessing

Children are the joy of marriage, especially when they come earlier. It gladdens the heart and makes couples enjoy the fruit of marriage.

But when a delay in getting kids continues more than expected, the reverse seems to be the case.

That is the situation Adeboye Adeoluwakishi Taiwo and his wife Ajibola went through. They spent 17 years in agony, pains, sorrow and psychological trauma while expecting their own children. Alas! It came, in a miraculous way as God beautifully embarrassed them with sextuplets.

In this interview with The Guild’s editorial team (Bimbo Ogunaike, Emeka Ibemere and Ada Dike), Taiwo, a police officer, tells a tale of their miraculous delivery of sextuplets.

As an African, you must have gone through pressures from your family and in-laws, who might have suggested that you get a child from another woman. How were you able to weather the storm and waited till the arrival of your sextuplets?

We have been married for that long; our families for long have been expecting us to have a child. Of course, one thing I believe is that God alone gives children, no man can.

Some people were asking me to teach them how to ‘fire’, and I told them that if I knew how to fire, I would have scored long time ago. As an African man, there have been a lot of pressures but, I thank God for one thing I didn’t succumb to pressures.

I want to tell people to think very well before they get married and when they are married to a lady, there are a lot of things that are attached to it.

In Africa, a man goes to women first, propose to her, then she becomes his wife. Thereafter, she wants a child and he would not be able to have one. He should be concerned. He might think she has a problem; none of them might have any.

I did not give my family chance to mount pressure on me because they know the level of love I have for my wife, so to tell me to do something else is not easy for them. They were not bold to tell me and I made them to know that my wife is my wife while my siblings and my mother have different positions in my life. Everyone of them would be loved according to their relationship with me.

From my in-laws’ side, they couldn’t mount pressures on me and because they knew that we are flowing well, there was no much pressure as to tell her to leave me. But, from outside, some people would look at me and wonder if I am a man. Some might have calculated that we have been working for so many years and they had not been able to attend naming ceremony in my home.

Ladies were mounting pressure on me, but I used to let my wife know because of the nature of my work. I used to see my wife as my younger sister which I never have. So anytime internal pressure arises within me, I would ask myself: supposing my brother in-law comes to me and say, my younger sister who happens to be his wife is unable to have a child, I should advise him, would I say, go ahead and put her away? Of course, I will be reluctant to tell him to go ahead. So if I would be reluctant, then I won’t break my wife’s heart. That has kept me going.

Taiwo’s sextuplets

During the 17 years of waiting for the fruit of the womb, was there any time you thought of considering some options like adopting a baby or getting a child from another woman?

Anytime I feel like impregnating a lady, I wasn’t bold, probably because I was a church boy. This is because I thought of what people would say if they hear it. I tired, but I wasn’t bold to do that, even though there were a lot of opportunities for me to do so since my wife lived far away in another state. Nothing would have stopped me from marrying a second wife, probably, God wanted to glorify Himself through me that was why He didn’t allow me to do that.

When the issue of childlessness comes up, people seek for alternatives like traditional prescription such as herbal medicines because of their African background. Did you or your wife resolve to any of the options, maybe out of pressure?

We did not take any traditional prescription because we were scared that we might have children that would make us to be sacrificing to some people or some things.

We lost count of drugs or injections we received while we were waiting on God for the blessing of the fruit of the womb.

As an African and in this part of the world, it is believed that when there is an issue of childbearing delay, people relate such to spiritual attack.  Did that apply to you and your wife during the waiting period?

As an African man, I did not consider that because I am a Christian. I believe there is God. Most of the time, my thoughts used to tell me that I will have a child, but another thought would remind me that I am getting old. I didn’t completely rule out the fact that some people might be somewhere behind the delay. I also believed that, at the right time, somebody that created all of us would overpower them and grant us breakthrough which eventually happened.

 For someone who has been married for 17 years, how did you feel when you found out that your wife was pregnant?

The pregnancy test that we did confirmed that my wife was pregnant. We were like, “Let us see. Are we sure? Is it pregnancy?”

 The arrival of your sextuplets of three boys and three girls is symbolic, going by your name, Taiwo. How did your family and friends including that of your wife receive the news? 

After their arrival, I remembered my father’s case. He had the first child (male) and waited for 30 years before having the second child. He had six children –three males and three females.

My maternal grandfather also had six children –three males and three females, so I don’t know whether having three males and three females in my family is mere coincidence or from our gene.

I was born into the family of late Chief Samson Adeleke Taiwo at Ishaga Quarters in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

I went to schools -primary, secondary and university. I am married with 17 years in marriage and my only wife is Ajibola Taiwo. We wedded 17 years ago and we have been living happily together, though, at times, the career may take me, a little far from home, but being a good woman, she has been faithful and that has kept us going as husband and wife.

It took a journey of close to nine months before your wife was able to be delivered of sextuplets. At what point in time did you know that your wife was carrying six children in her womb and the identity of the sexes? 

We were looking at it. I think pregnancy of such number was not allowed to get to nine months, anyway. We had a scan around January and the ultrasound revealed four. I was happy.  What I was thinking was that if ultrasound revealed four, at least one would be alive. While I was happy that I was expecting at least a child, my wife with medical experience was unhappy knowing the implication of the number of gestation. It was a mixed feeling to her.

Her pregnancy was the only proof that I am potent, that is why I was happy. My wife can cover me up if I am impotent but every other person can know that I am potent through her.

We were going till January when a medical doctor, Aimakhu of University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, told me that this is a multiple gestations, adding there was a possibility it is more than four. He called me as a man and asked me whether I love my wife and I answered in affirmative.  He said, “If you love her and want her to be alive, do everything you can to let her get proper medical attention for this number. Wherever you think she can get proper medical attention, take her there.”

But, when I met my friend, Dr. Wale Adejumo, he advised that we go to the United States of America because of my wife’s age, which is 47, her stature and the number of foetus.

We started thinking of what to do. I sold my car –Toyota Corolla Sport I used to cruise with and some other things. Friends came to my rescue too. I was able to gather enough money to make the trip. She was taken to the US in order to save her life. She was there till she was delivered of babies on May 11, 2017. God gave us six babies – three boys and three girls!

Doctors were able to tell us the foetuses sexes. They got the sexes of five –three girls and two boys. They were not sure of one of them but told us it’s a boy towards the end of delivery. I never really cared anyway.

At that level, child is child, and to me, probably that is the mentality of men, I prefer girls. If the six of them were girls, I would be very happy. If you dress small girls, they would look beautiful.

Secondly, girls take care of their parents. Boys take care of their parents in cash while girls do it in cash and kind. I thank God He regulated it that way.

Throughout the period of her pregnancy, I believed in God because it got to a level I told the doctors that I love her and suggested they delivered her instead of me to lose her because she was between life and death. The babies covered all her body and displaced her intestine and stomach.

Anytime I looked at her I suggested we do something. But thank God she is a very strong woman. The last time I asked her whether we could do something about it, she rejected it and said she had gone far. She suggested we allowed them to mature before they were delivered.

I started praying because that is all I could do. On the day of delivery, God proved to us that He is the owner of the ‘gun and ammunition’. 40-person team at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, Richmond was involved at the delivery of my sextuplets.

When my wife heard the cry of the children, she said to me in Yoruba, “they were all crying,” and I answered: “They must cry”.

Also, when they were delivered, because of the number I was expecting something tiny.  I thought I could cover each of their heads with my palms, but when they came, I discovered that my two palms could not cover the head of each of them. I asked, “In this womb?”  For me, if anybody wants to convince me that there is no God I won’t listen.

If anybody is waiting for the fruit of the womb, no matter his or her religion, if he or she believes that God will do it, He will do it. If a couple is looking for the fruit of the womb, there should not blame each other. 

Usually, when news such as that of the arrival of your sextuplets breaks, on social media, it makes rounds such that forms different position and opportunity to extort. Did you direct people or groups to solicit for funds on your behalf, because there was information alleging such?

There is one thing I want people to know. If God can give a man like me six children, it is like He is giving me an assignment. I believe He would be able to take care of the children whichever way he wants.

People reacted differently. I learnt that some people have been going about trying to use the happening to raise and collect money from people which I am not party to.

I read on the social media that somebody was saying that we have money that was why we went to the US to go and deliver the babies. Not that we have money, if we had a house that can cover such a trip, we would have disposed it.

When they told me the likelihood of what it was going to be and I converted it to naira, I knew I won’t be able to pay it but, I believe that God is in control. Where would I get 500 million naira from?

Some men normally run away when they hear that their wives were delivered of multiple babies. Did you run away?

I want to stand by my responsibility that is why I won’t run.

Has government, organisations or individuals come to your aid? Have you appealed to any of the listed for assistance, because catering for such numbers of babies might require support from outside?

No? Up till now, no government has come to our rescue, but we hope God will use whoever He wants to help us.

I won’t refuse if anybody, organisations or the government want to help us. If it is possible to have a foundation for these children, I would be glad. I will not refuse if help comes from anywhere.

Being a police officer, has the police authority reached out to you in terms of financial support and permission for you to visit your family abroad?

The first thing I want to beg police authority for, is to please assist me by giving me the chance and period that is needed for me to join my wife in the US and help take care of the babies. For instance, it is not easy to take care of a baby not to talk of six children.

My wife alone is with the six of them now in the US. I would say that, if I am not giving enough time to stay with them, psychologically, I wouldn’t be that effective. I need time to be there and assist my wife throughout the period of nurturing the babies to the stage that we will be able to bring them home.

Of course, if we are bringing them home, I have made a research, we need six adults, to hold them while the plane is taking off or landing.

I implore the Nigeria police to give me leave that will go for months. If I am allowed to go for that, I will go and concentrate. By the time I return, I will be refreshed and be more committed to my duties.

I have applied for leave and I hereby thank my boss, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Owoseni. I met him with the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Admin) and he was so happy. He asked me to go and apply, that he would do everything possible to ensure that I am being given the opportunity to go and see the children. To be sincere, it is not two or three months we are talking about here.

The Nigeria Police is my constituency.  I have spent 26 years in the Nigeria Police service. I joined the force when I was 22 years of age. I was 48 years old last April. I have put in my youthful strength to the service of the Nigeria Police and service to humanity. So I would be glad if the police authority and the Nigerian Government assist me financially.

Are you the first couple to have sextuplets in that hospital?

Yes, we are the first to have sextuplets there. The last they had was quintuplets 16 years ago. The hospital published the story shortly after my children’s birth. We are the first to have sextuplets in Virginia.

I want to appreciate Dr. Suzanne. When we got into the US, I thought it was like Nigeria where one would just walk into a hospital. They were asking us for insurance, but when Suzanne heard of multiple gestation, the compassion for another lady came upon her. She decided to first save my wife’s life and the babies. We walked into that hospital free, and up till now, we have been treated without asking to pay money. I appreciate it.

Indeed, your story is an interesting one. As a Christian, what section of the Bible can you link your story with?

The only character that I can relate my story with is Abraham in the book of Genesis. I was getting old, so I was careful to tell people my thought that I would have a child.

Abraham tried getting children from somewhere but God still blessed him through Sarah. Sincerely, I was trying to get a child but God did not make me comfortable to do that. I was scared. I remembered God told Abraham that he would not be able to count the number of the children he was going to give him.

Even if I can count my own children, God has embarrassed me and I believe it is like that of Abraham.

 

 

 

Eno Benjamin Akpan Ikpe-(1940 – 2017) -The Plant that Flowered Late

By Amb.Unyime Ubong King

Elder Eno Benjamin Ikpe, who frequently referred to himself as, ‘Ufot Udo Nkasang,’ a nickname which pointed to his birth order as the 4th of 5 brothers, would fondly refer to his children as ‘ndito Ufot Udo Nkasang’ (the children of Ufot Udo Nkasang) and would teasingly call his wife ‘akanawan baby’ (old woman, baby). Himself, he described as ‘the plant that flowered late.’ He ascribed this late flowering to the ‘inhibitions of time and circumstances.’ Indeed, he may have flowered late, but in the short span of time that God allowed him to serve humanity, he affected a lot of people in ways that would impact upon their lives for a very long time.

WHEN I WAS A CHILD…

Eno Benjamin Ikpe was born on the 17th of January 1940 to late Madam Aggie Isaac Eshiett (nee Akpadiagha Uko) of Nnung Otuoyo (later Nnung Udoinyang) family of Etinan, and late Elder Benjamin Akpan Ikpe of the great Ekpuk Nnung Ukpong family of Ikot Ebiyak, Etinan Urban. His father, Elder Benjamin Akpan Ikpe, was an avid diarist and writer who kept impeccable family records. In his childhood days, when other homes boasted of the gramophone, Aladdin or Tilley lamps which were elitist items in those days, theirs boasted of newspapers and magazines like Daily/Sunday Times, the Eastern Outlook, and the Eastern Express. His father Elder Benjamin Akpan Ikpe had served the Qua Iboe Mission and church in various capacities as teacher and preacher in many stations of the church field including Etinan itself, from about 1920 to 1966 when he voluntarily retired from active service owing to failing health, his last station having been Ikot Ubok Udom in Nsit Atai area of Akwa Ibom State.His maternal grandfather, Akpadiagha Uko, later christened Isaac Eshiet by the missionaries, is reported to have been among the company of paddlers that conveyed the personal effects of Etubom John Kirk, first Qua Iboe Missionary in Etinan, from Ibeno in 1897. His mother, Aggie Eshiett was the grand-daughter of Chief Udo Ema, whose name cannot be left out of any account of the Qua Iboe Mission in the Etinan area.

…NOW, I AM A MAN

Eno Ikpe (as he was called for short) began his educational pursuits at the John Kirk Memorial School, Etinan from1947-1955, after which he proceeded to Etinan Institute for a brief stint from 1957-1958, before he completed his secondary education at the Enitonna High School in Port Harcourt from1960-1962. He obtained his West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1962 with a Division II grade. He worked briefly in the Department of Customs and Excise in Lagos; then as Air Traffic Control Assistant in Lagos and Kano, before leaving to commence a series of courses in secretarial studies at the Federal Training Centre, Lagos, between 1964 and 1969. He worked as an official reporter at the Parliament buildings in Lagos from 1963-1964. He also worked at the Federal Ministry of Transport as a stenographer in 1968 and was adept at writing in shorthand. He transferred to the South Eastern State (Cross River State) Civil Service in 1972, and between 1979 and 1983, served as Hansard editor in the Cross River State House of Assembly. He spent the summer of 1980 at the Legislative Improvement Centre, Denver, Colorado, USA, on a six-week study tour to the US Congress and selected Capitols in the USA.  He also served at the Political Department of the Cabinet Office in Akwa Ibom State.After Eno Ikpe transferred to the South Eastern State Civil Service in 1972, he achieved a number of feats. He established the Official Reports Unit in the Office of the Military Governor, and at the Cabinet Office, Calabar. He was part of the Justice Nasir Boundary Adjustment Commission in 1976, Customs and Usages Commission of Inquiry, 1976, and conducted a crash training for would-be legislative staff of the first Cross River State Legislature, where he served as its first Deputy Editor in 1970. He headed the Committee on Verification of Alleged Omitted Clans and Villages in Cross River State, and was involved in the processing of the recommendations of traditional rulers from traditional councils for government recognition.On creation of states, Eno Ikpe returned to Akwa Ibom State Civil Service, where he served as a staff of the State House of Assembly, Akwa Ibom State as its first editor-in-chief in 1990. He continued his work verifying alleged omitted clans and villages in Akwa Ibom State under the political department, and processing of the recommendations of traditional rulers from traditional councils for government recognition from the verification exercise. He was an editorial staff attaché to the Constituent Assembly, Abuja, headed by the retired Justice Balonwu. In 1989, he was involved with the delineation of wards in Akwa Ibom State, and in 1992, he was the officer-in-charge when the Legislative Affairs Department resumed verification of omitted clans and villages in Akwa Ibom State after the military take-over.

OUTSTANDING ASSIGNMENTS

As part of his work experiences, he was selected for outstanding assignments owing to his brilliance on the job and part of those assignments included the coverage of Military and Civilian Tribunals, local and international conferences, commissions, boards, and committees of inquiry, notably. He also covered the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Summit in 1969, OAU Summit, Lagos, 1970, meeting of the Federal Government with the International Committee of the Red Cross Societies (ICRC- Top Secret) in 1968, the University of Ibadan Disturbances Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Boonyamin Kazeem in 1971, and the Industrial Arbitration Tribunal from 1971-1972, among several ad hoc assignments. His ad hoc assignments while in service included the writing of notable speeches such as the address of Akwa Ibom Traditional Rulers on a ‘thank you’ visit to the then President Ibrahim Babangida in 1988. He also contributed to the inaugural address of Governor Idongesit Nkanga to the people of Akwa Ibom State in 1990, and he was an Instructor at the Civil Service Training Centre, Calabar in 1977.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Eno Ikpe believed in constant self-improvement and participated in a number of professional trainings in the course of his life. He attended the Aviation Training School, Ikeja in 1963, the Federal Training Centre, Lagos from 1964-1965; 1967-1969, and from 1968-1969, and did a correspondence course in Journalism from the Writing School of London. His professional affiliations include:  Ordinary and Advanced Certificates in Secretarial Studies (1965), Certificate in Official Reporting and Legislative Practises (1969), Certificate in Legislative Studies (Denver, Colorado, USA, 1980), Certificate in Legislative Management and Procedure (May 1989), and an ASCON Certificate in Legislative Management for Clerks and Editors-in-Chief of the National and State Assemblies (1989).Eno Ikpe had charted a brilliant career path in the civil service and in 1998, he closed the door on his public service career by retiring after 35 years of unblemished service to the government.However, there is no hiding place for the gold fish, because after he had retired, he was appointed Special Adviser to the then Speaker- the Right Hon. Peter Linus Umoh on Legislative Matters from May 2003- May 2004, and was co-opted as a member of the Publicity Sub-Committee on Governor Victor Attah’s re-election in 2003, under the leadership of Mr. Parchi Umoh, who was Commissioner of the Akwa Ibom State Ethical and Attitudinal Re-orientation Commission (EARCOM). He did a lot of commissioned writings of notable syndicated advertorials and pull-outs, as well as information brochures on local government by local governments on the achievement of the Attah administration from1999-2003.

RETIREMENT IS NOT THE END OF LIFE

Eno Ikpe’s flair for writing developed quite early and he wrote a number of newspaper articles, a lot of which he published under pseudonyms. He stood tall in the pen profession and was a walking encyclopedia; his mind was a rich repository of the past, and his articles were a treasure trove of delights. He was a mentor to many young writers and his impact on the writing community in Akwa Ibom State, is immeasurable. On retirement from the civil service, he gave full expression to his creative juices, and they flowed unhindered. He began to write several feature articles for the Pioneer Newspaper and had a syndicated Column called ‘Prisms’  in several newspapers in Akwa Ibom State like- Insight, Facts, Sensors Newspapers, and Community Shield. He was guest columnist for Rainbow Magazine, Echo Magazine, Facts Weekly, Weekly Update- all published in Akwa Ibom State.  His outstanding publications comprise of:- Qua Iboe Church, the First Hundred Years, The Next Jubilee (1987)- A Country Boy at King’s College- A Biography of Obong Charles Akpan Ekere OFR, First African Permanent Secretary of Erstwhile Eastern Region of Nigeria (in print)- A Farewell to Calabar and other Essays: A Critique on Ethnic Relations In Erstwhile Cross River State (in print)- Highways to Panya: Reminiscences of Village Childhood (in Manuscript).- Qua Iboe Church: Century-Old Church in Name-Change Debacle: An Appraisal of the Issues Involved (restricted circulation).

IT IS NOT GOOD THAT A MAN BE ALONE…

A little over 43 years ago, the young Eno Ikpe, then 33 years old, met the then Miss. Ekaette Etim Uko, a nubile 23-year-old Annang woman from a respected family in Abak Itenghe,  Abak Local Government Area of Akwa State. He was introduced to her in Calabar by his younger sister who was her friend – late Mrs. Imoh Umoh – and his interest was piqued, especially as her father happened to be an elder of the Qua Iboe Church and her mum, a deaconess and the first female President of Qua Iboe Church, Nigeria.  His romantic interest in her culminated in the solemnisation of their union at the Qua Iboe Church, Calabar on the 15th of December, 1973 in a ceremony which began at10:15am and was officiated by Rev. I.F. Umoren. The union was blessed with 5 children, one of whom died in 1992.Eno Ikpe was a man who exemplified the virtues of a stable family life. He was very fond of his children and grandchildren, and he continuously thanked God for the privilege of watching them grow. He had been quite sickly as a young man, so he never took it for granted that he lived long enough to see his children and grandchildren grow. In a world where a lot of marriages barely survived the first year, he kept his commitment to his wife of 43 years and once eulogised her in a church service at Odoro Ikot, for standing by him through sickness and all the upheavals in his life.

IN THE MASTER’S SERVICE

The late Elder Eno Ikpe did not only become a Christian by virtue of being born into a home where his parents dedicated their lives to the Lord’s service. He made his faith a personal walk of trust in God, and always at every achievement- small or big, significant or insignificant – attributed all to the hand of God upon his life. He never described himself as a ‘self-made’ man; he saw himself as a ‘God-made’ man, who would have been nothing without God’s help- a fact he continuously drummed into the ears of his family.In fulfilment of one of the doctrines of the Christian faith, the young Eno Ikpe was baptised, as an outward expression of his faith, on the 18th of December, 1956 at the Qua Iboe Church in Ikot Ekpene Udo and that marked the beginning of a walk with God that was unwavering until his presence was required of his Master. His faith and beliefs played out and found expression in his dealings with other people. Regardless of who he was relating with, he did so with fairness, compassion and kindness. He never hesitated, as far as it was in his power to do so, to extend a helping hand to anyone in need. He was humane and he made himself God’s hand extended to his immediate community.He was ordained a deacon and later on, an elder of the Qua Iboe Church, where he was a member of Nka Ufon at some point, and later on, played a frontline role in the move for name change of the church from Qua Iboe Mission Church, to the United Evangelical Church. Until his death, he remained an active and vocal participant in the activities and programs of the local parish of the United Evangelical Church at Odoro Ikot, where he gave of his time, talents and substance to ensure that he stood in defence and support of the Lord’s work.  It would be a near impossibility to capture in words or mere paper, the essence of his service and involvement with church, which was like an anchor to his soul.He served in several capacities and was in the choir at some point; he loved to sing and would often be heard humming hymns under his breath as he went about his daily activities. It can be said, with all confidence, that he kept the faith.

OF FRIENDSHIPS AND CAMARADERIE, SOCIAL AND CIVIC RESPONSIBILITIES

Late Elder Eno Ikpe was a passionate lover of home and country, and would often tell his children to ensure that their own children spoke and understood their indigenous language. He was a rich repertoire of culture and history and kept accurate records of historical occurrences in his archives. Part of his civic responsibilities included:- Clerk of Ikot Ebiyak Village- Member, Etinan Elders Forum- Member, Ibibio National Union- One time President, Etinan Federated CouncilIt is said that true friends constitute one of life’s treasures and the man who has true friends is blessed. The late Eno Ikpe understood that one does not need a large number of friends, but just a number of friends one could be certain of. He valued his friendships and was aggressively committed to them. While still working at Calabar, he was one of 10 friends from Etinan, who came together under the name E-10 (Etinan 10) to discuss and share matters of common interest. They held regular meetings, which they rotated around each other’s homes and had annual Christmas get-togethers with their families. The other E-10 members were: the late Inyang Ema, late Samuel Akanekpo, late Okon Ekwere, Obot Akpabio, Ifiok Etuknwa, Ime Ema,  Joe Ema, Otto Essien, and Dr. Koko Udoh. It was a close-knit circle of friendship which spilled over to the wives and children, who more or less saw each other as family.  This is in no way representative of the rich friendships and camaraderie that he enjoyed with many other friends, in-laws, and relatives, to whom he was fiercely loyal. Eno Ikpe taught his family friendship and loyalty in their truest meanings. He had a dry sense of humour and was an expert at word play. He would tell a joke and keep a straight face and it behooved his listeners to look for the humour in the contradiction between words, the delivery and the context to find the joke funny. Often, he would have his listeners in stitches as a result of a witty thing he had said, but would keep a straight face himself- a trait which endeared him to his family and friends, and made discussions with him engaging and fun.  After the death of his other siblings and older brothers, which left just him, a nonagenarian sister and a younger brother, he assumed the role of a big brother to his only surviving brother- a role he carried gracefully without complaints; he catered for his older sister, to whom he was both brother and son, dedicatedly, and was responsible for her upkeep until death called. Because of the old woman, he made the difficult choice to stay more in the village at Etinan, and shuttle between Etinan and his family home in Uyo- a huge sacrifice that would not go unrewarded. He watched out for the children of his late siblings and friends, and being a peaceful, simple and unassuming man, he was a rallying point for peace among his family and friends. He was not one to bear grudges, and after he had honestly expressed his grievances, would call the concerned party back and make peace. Indeed his departure leaves a huge gap in the family and with friends.

 THE CURTAIN FALLS- BETTER THE END OF A MATTER…

When Eno Ikpe complained of shortness of breath just a little over a week before his death, little did anyone know that the homeward journey had begun and he was about to heed his Master’s call. He was in hospital for a little over a week, and just as his family were about to heave a sigh of relief that he seemed to be getting better and would come home, he gave in to the heavenly call, and breathed his last at about 4:45amon the 8th of May, 2017, at the Teaching Hospital in Uyo, a few hours after he told his youngest son, who had called him on his mobile at about 10pm on Sunday night, ‘Ekom, I am  fine. I am at the reception.’ He was a peaceful man in life and he went home to glory as peacefully as he had lived. In those final days, when his family did not realise that the curtain was about to be drawn on his time here on earth, he had said, ‘I am 77 years after all- if anything happens to me, I am a fulfilled man.’9 The word ‘fulfilment’ was a recurring mantra on his lips and without a doubt, his was a fulfilled life and his character is certainly bigger than his death.Indeed, death is certain for all flesh- it is only life that offers no guarantees. Elder Eno Ikpe has passed on, but it can be said that he emptied himself of his gifts and talents in the service of humanity and the results of his impact would be felt for a long time. He may be gone, but his memories live on in the hearts of the people he loved and held dear, and in that way, he will never die. In the words of William Shakespeare,“Death makes no conquest of this conqueror,  For now he lives in fame though not in life.”

Qatar supposedly committed crime and GCC crisis in recent years

By Disu Kamor

It’s time the Muslim world firmly and sincerely tells Saudi Arabia to end it’s tacit supports for Israel and the occupation of expropriated Palestinian lands. If Qatar is guilty of supporting terrorism by supporting Hamas (Hamas came to existence solely as a result of the Israeli occupation), then Saudi Arabia is guilty of much worse crimes in its support of various violent groups in the region; of sponsoring Iraq’s Saddam in the 80s during his war against Iran with a resultant of one million causalities on both sides (within 8 years); it’s supports and funding of a UN sanction programme in Iraq in which between 400,000 to 500,000 children of under 5 died (a programme that clearly meets the definition of genocide.

Denis Halliday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq during the same period was so enraged by the consequences of the sanctions he had to resign from UN, after a 34-year career, in order to gain the freedom to criticise UN. Not Saudi Arabia which was ready to starve a whole population to death to depose a man it helped impose on Iraq. A man Saudi Arabia used to try and destroy Iran).

The same type of travesty is going on in Yemen as we speak, where heaps of dead and starving bodies are resulting from a carnage being inflicted on poor Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition. Saudi Arabia evidently has no remorse about it’s sordid track records and roles in helping to decimate these populations nor for it’s supports for tyrants at different times, starting from Idi Amin to modern day despots.

Through its immoral meddling in Bahrain and Yemen, it’s fueling of the raging conflagration in Syria, its pumping out to the Muslim world violent and divisive ideologies (although Sunni Muslims make up between 80% and 90% of the global Muslim population, a staggering 94% of all acts of terrorism attributable to Muslims are committed by Sunni Muslims due largely to the type of extreme ideologies and funds flowing out if the Gulf States, Qatar included), and with the Faustian Pact it’s signed with those whose only intent is to suppressed and ruin the Muslim world are all part of its blemishes.

Evidently, the Saudi Arabian regime is a tragedy that has afflicted the Muslim world from the onset and a major dis-stabilisation force in the entire region.

In a move that looks like an attempt to heed Mr Trump’s impassioned appeal in Riyadh to “drive out” terrorists, Saudi Arabia coordinated its decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, with the decision of Qatar to welcome Hamas, which Washington brands a terrorist group, as one of its primary demands.

But if Saudi Arabia is mad with Hamas because of Hamas’ use of violent methods in the past, including some widely considered to be reprehensible and unIslamic (e.g. suicide bombing), Saudi Arabia must first turn its war on anti-terrorism gun against itself to make any meaningful sense of the Saudi-bloc’s schoolyard sermons on terror. 15 of the 19 alleged 9-11 hijackers were Saudi citizens, and so was Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist group.

In fact almost all the groups that Saudi Arabia funds and sponsors in all its proxy wars use such methods and not surprisingly, they all continue to get their bills written off by Riyadh. The UK government has blatantly refused, despite repeated calls by opposition leaders in the UK Parliament, to release the Home Office report of an investigation into the source of funding for acts of terrorism perpetrated in the UK, a report that indicts Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Theresa May, even in the light of the horrific attacks in Manchester and London has flatly refused to release the report of the investigation, calling the report ‘sensitive’. Obviously, Saudi Arabia does not only use its petrodollars to buy weapons from the British government, it has also bought the British Government’s silence.

Egyptian despotic ruler, President Al Sissi, during the rule of the last monarch, got a huge cheque for overthrowing President Morsi, a democratically elected government. The late king awarded the handsome bounty to Sissi for getting rid of a democratically elected government. In fact Hamas’ only crime is that it has refused to become subservient to the Saudi monarchy and towed it’s unconscionable line.

Saudi Arabia needs to stop behaving like a petty bully that it is and stop employing crude methods and (outsource) violence to suppress it’s neighbours, wanting to force them into submission and a feeble alliance in its unpopular wars and to amplify it’s schizophrenic outbursts against Iran.

In a nursery school rhyme, Saudi government lectured the rest of the Muslim world during President Trump’s visit on the need to end the propagation of extreme ideology that fuels violence. But conveniently, it forgot to add it would commit to switch off its own extreme and sectarian ideology that has seeped into the blood circulation of almost all Sunni extremist and sectarian preachers and violent groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban.

Last month, Russian hackers (according to FBI and an independent Qatari investigation) published false remarks attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on QNA platforms. The fake report said Sheikh Tamim, in a speech at a military graduation ceremony, was critical of renewed tensions with Iran, expressed the need for contextualising Hezbollah and Hamas as resistance movements, and suggested US President Donald Trump might not last long in power.

The hackers targeted the Qatari News Agency and all its social media platforms to release the fake report and the only news channels which, without any sort of verification, breathlessly broadcast these fake reports to the world were those of Saudi Arabia and UAE. It is not difficult to see that there was a ploy to discredit the Qatari leaders and enrage the Muslim world on one hand, and President Trump on the other, against it.

Descending below the ridiculous, the Saudi-bloc has designated as terrorists dozens of people with alleged links to Qatar and closed their airspaces to Qatar, and Qatari citizens. One of those designated as terrorist is Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi- an erudite theologian who is claimed to have an affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood. Shaykh Qaradawi, as early as 1997 had stated categorically that he was not a member of the Brotherhood. Earlier in his life Qaradawi was jailed three times for his relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and subsequently stripped of his Egyptian citizenship in the 1970s–driving him to seek exile in Qatar.

Similarly in November 2014, UAE government designated major organisations that actually represent the Muslims in Norway, the UK and US as terrorist organisations (including Muslim Council of Britain, Islamic Relief, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society). In fact the Norway’s foreign ministry found the designation so shocking and bizarre it publicly requested an explanation as to why one of the country’s largest Islamic groups could be so designated.

The only beneficiary from the crisis that Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies have created seems to be Israel. Israeli leaders have been exploiting Saudi Arabia actions and words to further demonise Iran, its archenemy, and hope the focus on the crisis will eclipse concerns about the Palestinian cause.

Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly helping Israel perpetuate its grip on expropriated Palestinian lands and throwing the main resistant group in Gaza, Hamas, under the bus. Of course, the Saudi monarchy may continue to play the Russian roulette with Donald Trump (since Donald Trump and the Russians.

it seems, have a thing together) and Nethanyahu, it should at least have the decency to not pretend it’s actions and belly dancing have any legitimacy and supports in the Muslim world. It is not getting clearer that what is great about Saudi Arabia are in Makkah and Madina, surely not in Riyadh.

 Kamor is Executive Chairman of Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) Nigeria.

Attending religious services boosts health, prolongs life-Study

By Newdesk with agency report

A new study has revealed that attending religious services like those at mosques, churches or synagogues may help people live longer in life.

The study showed reduced mortality risk by 55 per cent for those middle-aged adults who go to churches, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship.

The study on “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” was published in the Plos One journal in May.

“We found in our study that actually attending church is actually good for your health, particularly for those who are between the ages of 40 and 65,” said Associate Director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Research on Men’s Health,Marino Bruce, in a video posted on Vanderbilt University’s website on Friday.

“For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.

For the study a total of 5,449 participants of both sexes and races were recorded. The researchers used publicly available data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

“I’m ordained clergy so I’m always about what do we mean by our spiritual health. Does spiritual health matter with respect to biological outcomes?” Bruce added.

The study focused on the participants’ survey results, analyzing their worship attendance, mortality and allostatic load, which is a physiological measurement, and social support.

“While churches are places where people can get social support, we actually found that and began to think about whether compassion is particularly important — feeling that you’re doing good or having empathy for others,” Bruce further emphasized.

Nike Okundaye journeying through Batik

By Ada Dike

There are few African women that have made tremendous impact towards development and promotion of creative arts. One of them is Nike Davies Okundaye, an artist, batik originator, singer and dancer.

Spurred by a strong desire to set up a gallery where Nigerians, Africans and tourists would learn and appreciate Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, she built a state-of–the-art gallery in Lekki, Lagos State. The gallery houses artworks, cloths and bags. The bags and cloths are made with locally made fabrics.

Born on May 23, 1951, she lost her mother at the age of six and went to live with her grandmother who died the following year. So she went to stay with her great grandmother who was the then head of fabric weaving.

“Because I lost my mother early in life, one of my mother’s sisters had to bring me to Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. Osogbo has rich art and cultural heritage and was one of the centres for Yoruba artistic heritage. It was while I was in Osogbo as a young girl that I heard about the late Susanne Wenger and her husband Ulli Beier.  Up till today, I consider them the major catalyst of Nigerian art movement,” Okundaye said

She explained that extra-moral classes that Beier conducted in those days was what helped art in Nigeria to blossom.

“They identified those talents and built them in arts. Today, as you know many of them have become international artists.”

For her, Susanne was the one she derived inspiration from specifically, likewise other artists. Okundaye said  it was then that she decided to go and grow up with her because of the way Beier embraced everybody including Yoruba religion and culture.

“Honestly, she truly inspired me during my stay with her. That was how I started with arts. But let me equally say that from the very beginning, my family is into craft art especially, where I come from in Ogidi Ijumu, Kogi State. My first effort was in weaving, then from weaving I moved into Adire (indigenous textile designing), but later, I discovered the Batik, which I called the loss wax method,” she said.

Okundaye explained that Batik is also called campalla.

She noted that due to her avowed love for weaving indigenous textile designing, she was dubbed   Mama Adire, adding that Adire making has taken her across the globe .

“The Adire has carried me to so many countries of the world,”  says Okundaye.

She stressed that though she loves Adire, she also does oil and acrylic paintings which she all exhibited at her gallery.

“We have held so many exhibitions in my gallery since we opened. Some featured my works and other Nigerian and foreign artists,” Okundaye said.

Her Lagos art gallery is one of the highly patronised tourists’ centres in Nigeria. At present, she has more than 7000 artworks in her gallery in Lagos, though not all of them are for sale.

“A lot of them are displayed for Nigerians and tourists to see the creativity in Nigeria just like in museums abroad. People pay money to enter museums abroad but we do not collect money in my gallery because it is a foundation and it is a dream that came to fruition,” she revealed.

Artists are happy to see their works displayed in my gallery. Each artist works with a spirit that drives him. We don’t see what they are seeing till they are through with their works,” she said.

On how she makes fortune from her gallery, she  said:  “I actually make money within and outside Nigeria. I do workshop in many countries such as Austria, France, Spain and so on. That is how I succeed with my work, but I derive joy and satisfaction of doing it in Nigeria. My gallery enables Nigerians to learn and develop their cultural heritage. I want to leave the gallery as a legacy after my death.”

What is the major challenge facing her gallery? she was asked. “Funding has been my major challenge so I hereby appeal to individuals, private and public organisations to come to my aid. I know that government cannot do everything for us but I want them to assist us in any way they can,” Okundaye said.

When she was asked to predict how art as a profession in Nigeria would look like in the next 10 years, she said with the help of the Ministry for Art and Culture, Nigeria would be known as African art depot in the next 10 years.

“We have over 30,000 registered artists in Nigeria which is quite intimidating compared with other countries. I am sure that the unregistered artists are more in number than the registered ones,” she said.

According to her, “Artwork is a therapy, If you see a work in which a mother is carrying her baby, it means love and warmness. If you look at an artwork, you would forget your problem.”

The cool and calm woman who is on a mission to reposition Nigeria and indeed Africa’s rich culture in people’s minds advises young artists in Nigeria to be honest in anything they do.

“Whatever you are doing, do it well. Let your work advertise your name. Market yourself in a good way. When you make money, save for the rainy day. Divide it into three parts-for your needs, family, then save the third part for your future. Above all, pass the knowledge to your children. Spanish painter and sculptor, Pablo Picasso was not a millionaire before he died but his works are now in many countries,” Okundaye added.

Though she did not have formal education, she has two doctorate degrees from schools in the United States of America. The second is on performing art.

“I am also a singer and dancer too,” she said with a smile.

The proprietress of the nationally spread cultural centres said her vision for opening art centres in Osogbo, with branches in Lagos, Abuja and Ogidi Ijumu is to promote artists, empower rural women and provide training opportunities for those interested in learning the practical aspect of art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moving train: Kano, Lagos and other colonial states @50

By Abdulwaheed Usamah

Memory of the recent #KanoAt50 Durbar that I attended, where I met a young looking cute and well kitted member of a royal family from Ringim community in Jigawa State after his horse display and other cultural entertainment, still lingers on in my mind.This is because I barely pay much attention to culture or cultural display due to influence of western civilisation that has swept entire nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

When I approached  the young polish-skin-man to inform him of my desire to take a shot of him, before completing the request, he had posed nicely, turning what was supposed to be a freestyle shoot, to a former setting, even though that was not intended.

I had to respect his gesture and to erase any reservations he might have for wandering strangers like me, amid indigenes, others from neighbouring states and country’s visitors who had showed up to grace the grand occasion.

Until the moment of the #Kano Durbar, it never occurred to me that aside Lagos State marking laudable golden jubilee, there were others states too, celebrating their 50 years of existence.

At Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II ‘s palace,  where the Durbar festival took place, there was an inscription on a signpost, erected conspicuously at a strategic corner of an open brownish sandy field in the premises. This tipped my memory right that Kano State was indeed created in 1967, and that 2017 marks 50 years since it was converted into province.

In Kano, it is #KanoAt50 winding, Lagos too, #LagosAt50, and historical Kaduna State also, which is my state of birth, is not left out of the spirit of celebration among other states in the nation created 50 years after the colonial rule and even years after Nigeria received her independent on 1st of October,1960.

Thanks to the Kano State Governor, His Excellency, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, and the Emir who have preserved and showcased the Kano royal family’s cultural festival and taken the values to another level, where people of different ethnic group including me, who is from the southwest region, is a living witness to and could tell about the richness of the tradition.

Other past governors and prominent indigenes of the state who had served as engine room to the preservation of the royal festival and other cultural events in making #KanoAt50 success story;  and even efforts and contributions put together by these people, to keep the state historical, must be recognise and commended too.

Historically, the fact that Kano and other colonial converted states clock 50 years of existence shows that Nigeria has travelled far in terms of governance, but the country is yet to get the both governing system and managing the citizens’  values right.

It is understandable that Rome was not built in a day but then, Nigeria needs to move grounds beyond governmental policy and programmes, to showcasing our culture and traditions that truly define Nigerians and Nigeria.

The country is abundantly blessed with natural riches, culture and traditions that we must continuously start to rely on, even though I am not advocating for those that are not humane.

Let us give it to Kano for the yearly showcasing of her royal family’s event to Nigerians and the entire world, and preserving the routine cultural entertainment over decades.

Conclusively, it is high time for government at all levels to move to the forefront of promoting the nation’s culture and traditions which would undoubtedly serve as measures towards economic diversification and an opportunity to engage youth and create enormous jobs.

In the real sense, development must not erase the Nigerian ethnic values and this is a call for all.

I stand for youth empowerment and my next stop is Kaduna which is my place of birth.

Usamah is an entrepreneur, publisher and Co-Founder of Guild Press Ltd (theguildng.com), an online daily news publishing firm.

tomjori@gmail.com

Are we really #NotYoungToRun

By Titilope T. Anifowoshe

In November 2015, my class constituted a committee of close to 10 persons to organize a befitting schedule and project for our graduating set. We were made to contribute #8000 each and up till this moment all we got was a substandard customized T.Shirt, a statue dedicated to faculty of #Law , Unilorin and an excursion to ile-ife, Osun State (whose expenses was largely donated by members of the class outside the 8K) .

Even after graduation we are yet to get our Final year book or an account of our money…. The report of the panel setup to probe the found is that the “money for the final year-book was a scam” and that 3 of the committee members embezzled the cash!

Are we really #NotTooYoungToRun ?

Here in #NLSLagos the #500,000 disbursed by the plateau state government for bursary of Law student was misappropriated by few persons.

Are we really #NotTooYoungToScam ?

In #NLSAbuja students of IMO state were made to pay #500 each to facilitate the disbursement of their bursary and till this moment they have not heard anything about their bursary or their #500

Students of #Kwara State have for 4 years been deprived of their bursary simply because of the harebrained student leaders who survive solely from the suborner they get from the Kwara state government .

Are we really #NotTooYoungToRun ?

Indeed the glitz and glamour of political offices is huge enough to make a person spend his lifetime planning and orchestrating his way to the government house or senate.

I remember how in 2015, one anorexic senator of National Association of Kwara State students with very a muddled command of vocabulary vaunted about his plans to be the governor of Kwara state in the future. Today he doubles as the SRC chairperson of Kwara State University and the Chairman of NANS/JCC Kwara and the only thing his administration has been able to do is “commend , extol and appreciate” dignitaries through open letters and votes of confidence without any viable and visible long or short term developmental projects for Kwara Students.

Have you ever met a young man who aspires to hold any political position ? Have you ever met a young entrepreneur? Can you spot the differences between their ideology and reasoning ?

An entrepreneur believes so much in his handwork and hard-work while a student politician believes so much in his influence and ambition. An entrepreneur reveres innovations and topnotch business ideas while.
A student politician reveres his political Godfathers and their success.

An entrepreneur prays for a stable and flourishing economy while a student politician prays for wealth for the purpose of getting the love of his constituency.

An entrepreneur rarely spend above his earnings because every kobo is business to him but a student politician cares less of how much he spends so far he gets the required adoration of his constituency.

An entrepreneur is always opened to learning new things that will aid his venture but a student politician only aims to get the commendation of his revered RoleModel.

How many student politician doubles as an entrepreneur character?

If the #NotTooYoungToRun bill becomes law a person of 30 years of age will be able to contest for the exalted office of president, senator or governor of a state ; and a 25 year old person can freely become a honorable member of the House or Representative or State House of Assembly . The #NotTooYoungToRun bill also seek for independent candidacy in our electioneering process.
Indeed such Constitutional amendment is going to provide a benchmark of an inclusive, competitive , modern, radical and rugged political system.
The green light is very crystal for this bill but are we really ready to #Rule and #Run ?

Anifowoshe, #LegalEagle, is an aspirant at Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
titilopeanny@gmail.com