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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Portugal's Euro 2016 Hero: From Club Rejection, Father’s Incarceration, Failed Suicide Attempt To Glory

Eder with compatriot Ronaldo after the final match of EURO 2016

The fairy-tale run of Eder Lopes, Portugal football hero at the final of Euro 2016 tournament, is one that readily reduces one to a state of tears.

Rejection by his English club, Swansea City for failing to score in 15 appearances; biological father serving life sentence for allegedly killing his step mother were few of those trying moments that compelled the star striker to contemplate suicide before fortune eventually smiled on him.

In a recent interview conducted by Daily Mail, Éderzão António Macedo Lopes also known as Eder disclosed that he was born in the Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau in December 1987, before moving to Portugal when he was three.

Moving forward, Eder further threw more highlights on his father’s past, relives his upbringing in an orphanage and explains why, just two years ago, he came very close to ending his own life.

Eder's father, Antonio Lopes with Domingas Olivais in 2002

His father, Filomeno Antonio Lopes, has been in an English prison since 2003, serving a life sentence for the murder of Eder’s stepmother, Domingas Olivais.

At age 8, when it was obvious that the family couldn’t make ends meet, Eder was taken into an orphanage.

“I can’t lie, it was very hard,” he says, explaining how he played soccer with bare feet on a playground littered with broken glass.

“Yeah — very difficult. I was in an orphanage without my parents. Things can go badly in those places. I look at where some of my friends are now and... yeah, they’re not very well. I had two or three mentors but it was not the same as your mum and dad. I had little contact with my parents. I was resentful.

'As I grew older, my mum and I increased contact, but it was an irregular one. We don’t have a normal relationship because we lost those big moments together when I was growing up. Now, my mum and I are reunited and back in contact. She moved to England and my sister lives in Wolverhampton. And then there’s my father...’

It would be recalled that in 2003, a jury at Norwich Crown Court heard that Eder’s father had murdered his partner.  According to witnesses report, he picked her up from work, struck her with a steering wheel lock, strangled her and dumped her body into the River Bure by Great Yarmouth.

Antonio Lopes is still serving jail term in England

However the man’s alibi was that he went to McDonald’s after dropping Ms Olivais back at a hotel. Unfortunately, the CCTV footage did not vouch for him.

Furthermore, local reports add that his father had sought asylum in England by claiming that he was fleeing civil war in his homeland but there are also claims that he was the subject of an extradition order by Portuguese authorities in connection with three armed robberies.

“I was just 12 and in an orphanage,” Eder says, puffing his cheeks out. ‘My stepmother died, they accused my father and he is in prison.

'I wasn’t there and obviously I can’t say for certain what happened. But my dad says he is innocent. Then, it becomes a question that requires a lot of soul-searching. He is my dad and I believe him. I am not stating that the court did anything wrong but he is my father. He is still in jail in England. I had visited him. I started to visit him when I was 22 and when I have time, I see him.’

After he had developed a passion for football at the orphanage, young Eder would escape to a nearby cafe to watch Premier League matches.

However, he moved out at the age of 18 and teamed up with Portuguese second-tier club Tourizense on a monthly wage of £330. He moved on to Academica and Braga, where he played Champions League football and got his international call-up in 2012.

Eder

After the 2014 World Cup, where Portugal failed to progress from the group stage, he was ridiculed by the press. On social media, he was compared to a traffic cone. Self-doubts emerged.

In the darkest moments, this charming young man contemplated ending his own life. ‘Yeah...’ he said, steadying himself.

‘My mind went to some very bad places. I went through a very low phase. I had suffered some bad injuries and went to the World Cup and things didn’t go well. It was hard. I struggled to believe in things and dream again. It was a really horrible period for me and you wonder whether you can escape it.

‘My turning point came after one game in Braga. I went to kick a ball about with a little girl who was wearing our colours. Her mum, Susana Torres, asked if she could have a picture. We began to exchange emails. Before the World Cup, she sent me a Facebook message saying her daughter wanted to go. I missed it and I didn’t respond.

‘After a year, I saw the message and apologised. I gave a jersey with her daughter’s name. Then she said that if my friends needed a psychological coach, then I should let them know about her. I worked hard on my mentality and began to dream again. Susana was the catalyst. She helped a lot.

‘I think footballers are still a bit funny about this kind of thing. Some think that they can seem weaker. But it’s changing,’ he said.

Eder now believes he is over his psychological problems but he continues to work closely with Susana. Indeed, they are planning to write a book.

In Portugal, all has been forgiven and a website has been launched called DisculpaEder.com (Sorry Eder), where fans have sent messages apologising for all that has gone on before.

He is a bright man, a fluent speaker of four languages — English, French, Spanish and Portuguese — and with a sharp interest in world issues.

On why he failed at Swansea City in England, this is how he puts it:

‘It was hard at Swansea. I started just two Premier League games and if you look at the statistics, you will see that I mostly had 10 or 20 minutes. I came to Lille because I wanted to make the Euros. There was something poetic about the goal. It was the tournament of the underdog.

Eder being applauded as he lifts the EURO 2016 Cup

'Unexpected teams did very well and then I scored my goal. Wales did it. Iceland did it. I did it. People have to dream and believe. Sport can never lose that.

Garry Monk, who signed me, sent me the loveliest text after the final saying it was an incredible goal and that he was thrilled.

At 28, this, remarkably, was Eder’s first competitive goal for Portugal.

‘I received it on the half-turn,’ he grins, shifting his salt away from Laurent Koscielny’s pepper.

‘I jinked away from Koscielny and found some space to shoot. Then I just let fly. And how it flew! I hit it so hard and when the ball smashed into the net I was so happy. It was huge for me, huge for us, huge for the country.’

The day Eder visited the orphanage after his great goal, he broke down and cried during the visiting.

God has rewarded him for all his pain!!!!

Amazing story, isn’t it?




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Friday, 2 September 2016

The Thriving Business of Commercial Tricycle (Keke NAPEP)

Photo Credit: Vanguard

Regardless of the economic recession Nigeria is presently facing, commercial tricycle popularly called Keke Marwa or Keke NAPEP is fast becoming a big business in Nigeria. 

It is not unusual to see it in places like Abuja, Kano and other metropolitan cities in Nigeria apart from Lagos which blazed the trail during the regime of Military Administrator, Col. Buba Marwa (1996 – 1999). In fact, the commercial tricycle which was launched as part of the Poverty Alleviation Programme was named after him. 

However unlike in the past where anything goes, Keke NAPEP has been confined to local routes to cater for the teeming population in such areas.

To make a kill of this business...

You will require a minimum of N400,000 to procure one ‘Cha-Cha’ directly from the company or around N460,000 from a distributor; budget another 40,000 to cover registration and insurance; another N5,000 to cover registration with your Local Government and Tricycle Union in the area you hope to operate.

In all, you would have spent N450,000. Interestingly, each of the tricycle operators is expected to deliver between N2,500 to as high as N5,000 a day, depending on location. For instance, those located in Lagos Mainland, Alagomeji, Lagos Island, Ajah and Victoria Island often deliver up to N5,000 a day, 5 days a week. Do the maths yourself and see what it is bound to fetch you in a year or less.

However if you have huge capital base, you can procure about six and create a route anywhere (even on the outskirts of town) for your fleet. It is a win-win situation so far you don’t violate the law or flout union rule.



For more Great Business Ideas, get a copy of “Profitable Businesses To Start With N300,000 & Above”

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

What Young Entrepreneurs Should Consider Before Floating A business

 


Friends, life is not a race! Don’t spend your time struggling with people you have no business with. You are part of the generation of change, and you must be the catalysts.

First, let me ask ‘What is Business?’

A Business can be described as a company or other organization that buys and sells goods, makes products, or provides services.

A Business can also be a commercial activity that involves the act of buying and selling of goods, services and, by extension, ideas.

Listen to me, starting any business or entrepreneurial activity demands an unusual passion from you. It must be something you love doing every time and which you are sure would not bore you easily. Besides, you need not quit your job altogether. Try starting small and steady until you are fully convinced that you can do it full time.

Pride often gives one a false sense of security even when you have nothing to show for your effort. Therefore, you need to bury that pride and stop looking down at opportunities as menial jobs. You need to equally stop parading yourself as being too big for some jobs and perennially reminding people around you that you are a graduate, otherwise there is tendency you shall continue to help other people build their dreams to your own detriment. 

Personally, I think the problem lies in our orientation. We are always craving to live like Mr A or Mr B. Sometimes, it is not always about money, it's about what you have upstairs and how enterprising you can be.

Consider the following scenarios...

     SCENE 1:

I remember an old classmate of mine. Ojeleke Ojeniyi was a mechanic way back in Primary School. After we finished Primary 6, he couldn’t further his education with the rest of us because of two factors – examinations failure & inability of parents to pay for his tuition. By the time, we were through with our SS 3, Ojeleke already has his workshop and two personal cars to his credit. 

Lesson Learnt: 

It doesn’t matter where you are coming from or family background. God in His infinite Mercy has not render anybody useless. You can get to whatever position you wish in life if you make up your mind to. It is never too late. The DNA of any serious entrepreneur cannot be far from passion and resilience…



SCENE 2:

-   Have you been to the arrival and departure lounges of the Murtala Muhhamed International Airport before? What is your assessment of the scenery? Of course, as you may have rightly observed, there are equal measure of people arriving (even more) and departing the country. In summary, just when you think Nigeria is no longer your idea of a country with potential, investors from neighbouring African countries and the world at large are trooping in to invest. It depends on which angle you are looking at things from - whether the cup is half full or half empty.


Lesson Learnt:

Borrowing the words of - Swami Vivekananda: "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

Don’t invest heavily in smart phones, Expensive cars, home theatre, LCD set and other flashy things while still squatting or living in one room.


     
     SCENE 3:
    
     Late Fatai Rolling Dollar has been releasing music records for close to three decades but was never recognised until he hit stardom with the hit-track "Won Kere Si Number Wa" at age 70. Age has nothing to do with it.



 Lesson Learnt:

-     Protect your future by investing your time wisely. Don’t be seen frequenting pepper soup joints with your hard earned money. I know some certain people who can spend N10,000 – N25,000 at one-go in beer parlours


Friends and contemporary could be riding flashy cars now, don’t get carried away. Just follow your dream.

-         What happens now and tomorrow, in truth, depends on YOU!

At this point, I like to say…



THANK YOU FOR LISTENING



Excerpt of my speech during the youth empowerment programme organised by the Celestial Church of Christ, Lagos Mainland Branch

Monday, 29 August 2016

What Does It Take To Run A Pharmacy Business In Nigeria?

Photo Credit: Forum Biodiversity

Pharmacy or drug store business, whether we like or not, has become an integral part of the Nigerian economy today. In a nutshell, drugstores are described as retail establishments that market drugs, be it prescription-based, proprietary, or non-prescription medicine otherwise known as Over The Counter (OTC)

It is imperative to note that all drugs are called poison, because, depending on how it is handled, it can either heal or harm a patient.

However there are good news and bad ones opened to those who are interested in running a pharmacy or patent medicine store in Nigeria.


The GOOD NEWS...

A pharmacy is very essential to the health sector so much that a certain pharmacology professor once quipped that of what use are diagnoses and prescription when drugs are unavailable? To further underscore its relevance, it is generally believed that it is number three on the list of human needs after food and shelter. Albeit some often debate that clothing should occupy that spot, of what use is clothing when you are at the mercy of certain illness or disease? Absolutely baseless!

 You will concur with me that virtually on every major road you visit in big cities, one can spot at least one drug store. People will always need multivitamins, painkillers, blood tonic, antibiotics, paracetamol and suspension for teething babies. There is a growing awareness globally for people to take care of their health and directly or indirectly, pharmacies or patent medicine stores are the ones making the money. First aid treatments can also be gotten from the nearest drug store. The location/site of your store is equally of utmost importance to its survival.


The BAD NEWS...

When looking for a place to set up your drug store, it is advisable for you to pay attention to the zoning requirements of the area as stipulated by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN). It is also stipulated that your medicine shop must have a licensed pharmacist present at all times. 

If you are not a pharmacist, let alone licensed, you need to hire the services of one. On the average, a fresh pharmacy graduate that meets such requirement can be employed for a take-home pay of approximately N50 to N120K per month (based on negotiation). Secondly, pharmacy stores are expected to give a minimum gap of 200 metres from the nearest competitor.

It has however been discovered that most drug owners in Nigeria often enter into a contractual agreement with young pharmacists to use their positions to get them the licence at an agreed fee. This is one act both the PCN and the umbrella body of pharmacists (PSN) seriously frown upon. A number of pharmacists’ licenses have been withdrawn over the years as a result of this.

On the other hand, there are considerations for patent medicine dealers whom the pharmacists council strongly believe are complementing the efforts of the profession in rural areas and other areas not covered by pharmacists. The only clause here is that you must have practised the act of drugs dispensing long enough under a qualified chemist or local patent medicine dealers. Much as most Nigerian Pharmacists don’t like the idea, they have learned to tolerate them over the decades.

To further shore up the profit margin and cushion overheads and logistic, most pharmacies in Nigeria are noted to stock other household items such as toiletries, batteries, beverages, candy, contact lens, cosmetics, diet aids, disposable diapers, films and audio CDs, fragrances, greeting cards, hair care/skin care products, magazines/books, novelty items, oral hygiene products, pet food, small art and crafts items, snack foods, vitamins and many more.


QUESTIONS:

What are the major requirements needed to register you?

What manner of products do you need to stock that would not make you run foul of the law?

Where do you get your wholesale sale supply to sustain the retail mart you have in mind?

Above all, how much should be the minimum capital base to kick-start a drug store mart?


For answers to these questions and many more, get a copy of the eBook – Profitable Businesses To Run With N300,000 & Above”.


Call 07039091674 for enquiries

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

How Oil Magnate Femi Otedola Rose From Ashes of Failure Back to Fame


Oil mogul, Femi Otedola, needs no introduction in today’s global business. Aside being the son of late former Lagos State governor, Chief Michael Otedola, he was also the second Nigerian to make the FORBES billionaires list in 2009.

Despite the aura of invincibility wielded around him, Ote-dollar, as he is fondly christened, confessed that such perception was not his own making.

When asked for his reaction in an interview conducted by Shaka Momodu of THISDAY after his business plummeted some year ago, this was his explanation:

“To me, it is funny when people say I was down. It is not different from when a child is trying to walk. The child must fall down, but that doesn’t mean the child will never walk again. So if God has great plans for you, he has to teach you how to crawl before you learn how to walk.

“There is no successful businessman today who has not gone through ups and downs. That is what prepares you for a future of success. It helps you learn a lot of lessons about the business environment you are operating in. Well, I lost money but I was not really bothered because as far as I was concerned, I am a capitalist. You make money and you also lose money. When I make money, I am happy and I don’t allow losing money to disturb my happiness. But I must admit that there were some trying moments though.”


Not done yet, the interviewer prodded further on how he felt at such trying moment knowing that he just lost about N200 billion. Hear him again:


“Of course, after I had lost N200 billion, I had two options to either commit suicide or solve the problem. A week after the idea ran through my mind, I heard news that the richest man in Germany Adolf Merckle committed suicide having lost his wealth. Let me tell you in case you don’t know. At one time I was subsidising the entire country because I was the largest importer of diesel and added to that had to deal with a huge amount of losses incurred by the devaluation of the currency and the slump in oil prices.

“You see, at any point in time then, I had diesel worth over $400 million on the high seas. So then crude oil prices slumped from $147 to $36, then I didn’t have the structure to hedge against these losses. But whatever the case, I was determined to solve the problem. What I also found funny was that when some banks were wooing me with their money, before my losses they sent beautiful looking women to run after me for the accounts. But after I lost money and the same banks wanted to collect their money back, they sent stern-looking men (laughter). Some hungry looking people will come and knock on my door early in the morning demanding repayment. They didn’t care how much I lost or how I lost the money, all they wanted was that I pay back their money.”


On what such experience has taught him, Otedola shrugged off the question saying:


“It is to give on to Caesar what is Caesar’s. When you have a business model you must adhere strictly according to what you want to achieve. Also that being a good entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily make you a good manager of a business. I was offered a decision to restructure which I refused. Instead I decided that whatever assets I had to give up to pay my debts I will offer. I didn’t want a restructuring because the debt will still be hanging. I didn’t want that. So I learnt my lessons, dealt with my debts and moved on. And I tell you, my wife has been a pillar of support all the way.”


Now, that is a lesson for any strong-willed person to take home.

Need I say more?



Culled from “What To Do When You Lose Your Job” written by Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

What Are Similarities And Difference Between Tabloid And National Dailies?


It has been my life-long dream to invest in newspaper publishing. However I will like you to enlighten me a bit on the similarities and differences between tabloid (weekly or monthly) and the national dailies.


Newspaper publishing is one of the oldest means of communication in the world. It does not matter what kind of publication you are aiming to print – be it tabloid or standard news print, a publisher is a publisher.

However it is imperative to shed more lights on their similarities and differences (just as you suggested) in order not to confuse one for the other.

A TABLOID is a newspaper with compact page size smaller than broadsheet, although there is no standard for the precise dimensions of the tabloid newspaper format.

Tabloid journalism, along with the use of large pictures, tends to emphasize topics such as sensational crime stories, astrology and celebrity gossip. This style of journalism compact stories into short, easy to read and often exaggerated forms.

The term ‘Tabloid’ got its name from the 'tabloid pills' marketed in the 1880s, which were the first highly compacted and easy to swallow pharmaceutical pills commonly available.

Although some respected newspapers in Nigeria such as The Sun and Authority are in tabloid format, the size is used by nearly all local newspapers.

The tabloid newspaper format is particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where its page dimensions are roughly 430 mm × 280 mm (16.9 in × 11.0 in).

BROAD or STANDARD SHEETS, on the other hand, are larger newspapers, traditionally associated with higher-quality journalism.

Basically, whichever way we look at it, the terms tabloid and broadsheet are, in non-technical usage, today more descriptive of a newspaper's market position than its physical size.

It is also worthy to note that 'tabloid' are sometimes printed on daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Many of them are essentially straightforward reports, well-published in simple format because commuters, traders, motorists and shop owners prefer to have a smaller-size publication due to lack of space. These newspapers are distinguished from major daily newspapers, in that they purport to offer an "alternative" viewpoint, either in the sense that the paper's editors are more locally oriented, or that the paper is editorially independent from major media conglomerates.

Other factors that separate tabloids from standard newspapers are their frequency, and that they are usually either free or sold to readers for a small fee, since the publishers rely more on revenue from adverts. Additionally, weekly tabloids tend to concentrate on local level issues, and on local entertainment in happening in event centres, bars, arts galleries, clubs and local theatres.

As I mentioned earlier, it does not matter what kind of publication you are aiming to print – be it tabloid or standard news print, a publisher is a publisher.

Interestingly, both publications have a huge followership in Nigeria.


Culled from "How To Publish NEWSPAPER/ MAGAZINE / TABLOID On A Small Budget" by Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis 




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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Can You Marry A Single Mum? (SEE SHOCKING REACTION OF NIGERIANS)


If there is anything 90 per cent of ladies dread most, it is the thought of living out life as a single mother. It is even more difficult in this part of Africa where people frown at such condition. The majority of the stigmatisation campaign comes from a religious perspective that describes a child born out of wedlock as an illegitimate child.

In truth, however, most single mums are directly or indirectly victims of circumstances. Virtually, every lady has a story to tell about how she found herself in such situation – from rape (whether on a first date or by crooked characters), messy divorce to being glib-tongued to bed with a phoney marriage proposal.

To some, the idea of becoming a single mum is a personal decision.

CityPulse Nigeria recently conducted an online survey on the possibility of Nigerian men settling down with a single mum. The result will shock you...


Hilary Anderson
God bless Nigeria! At least we are growing up. My point of contribution is that it depends on the circumstance that made her single again. Our ladies’ character nowadays is becoming unbearable. The only I can condone is if her partner died prematurely. But if she became a single mum as a result of immorality, I am sorry I cannot date her let alone marry her. Please let her carry her cross.

Francis Mankind
To be honest, being a single mother or single father is not a barrier or disease. It can happen to anybody. And if it does happen, what can you do as a single father or single mother?
I admit it is hard for single mothers and fathers today because many are still out there searching for another man or woman to accept them the way they are.

Don Abiodun Odedeyi
Yeah! His/her experience is second to none. His/her first 'mistake' will serve as a solid foundation to be a better man/woman.

Abdullahi Haruna
Yes I can! In fact, my attitude towards her will be like a husband and also act like a father to the child. Besides, it will help prepare me as a future father-to-be. However, this depends on her character too.

Sanni Olufemi
It depends though. That is because her age and number of children she has would come into play here. If the kids are more than one, I can't marry her. It is that simple!

Obe Tolulope Olufemi
Well, no harm in doing so. For me, if she wasn't a love rat but as a result of mistake or condition that she became one.

Novia Becky Betty
I am a single mother and wish to say guys that are saying yes are not too sure of what they are talking about. It is not that easy. I am a mother of one lovely son, so I am talking from experience. It is all lies! All they want is an opportunity to use her.

Pat Okwy Ucheagwu
Yes and No, depending on the circumstances surrounding the reason for being a single parent. Believe me some single mothers can be funny sometimes.

Clement Ogar
Well, as for me, I can't. From the outset, I don't like 'Tokunbo Product.' So the thought of her knowing she is already being explored whether it is by mistake or not, I can't bear it. If I need an experienced woman, let her come and get the experience from my home. And if I need to adopt a child, I will get it from the motherless home. Shikena!

Omolola Adeniyi Daniyan
Despite d fact that some ladies are the architect of their misfortune for being a single mother, there is what we call destiny/fate. What can you say about a young wife that lost her young and agile husband while still pregnant? What about another situation where the father died after the baby was born or the father travelled out of country and abandoned the mother and the baby to mention but few instances. You keep talking about single ladies, what about single fathers? Why is it a crime to be a single mother and an honour to be a single father?

Jeremiah Ademolu
As for me I CAN marry a single mother if she possesses the quality I desire in a woman.

Prince Adegbenga Adeboyejo
Why not! I can, especially if she is responsible, caring and submissive. These are good attributes that the child in question should portray.

Ogidi Laja
Yes, I can date a single mother. But it is important that I connect with her on many levels and with the kid(s) if she/he/they is/are old enough to interact with me.





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How Nigeria’s First Gold Medalist Was Executed During Biafran War (BLAST FROM THE PAST)


20-year-old Ifeajuna posed with the Commonwealth Gold Statue


The first time Emmanuel Ifeajuna appeared before a crowd of thousands, he did something no black African had ever done. He won a gold medal at an international sporting event. “Nigeria Creates World Sensation,” ran the headline in the West African Pilot after Ifeajuna’s record-breaking victory in the high jump at the 1954 Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. He was the pride not just of Nigeria but of a whole continent. An editorial asked: “Who among our people did not weep for sheer joy when Nigeria came uppermost, beating all whites and blacks together?”

In the words of a former schoolmate, Ifeajuna had leaped “to the very pinnacle of Nigerian sporting achievement”. His nine track and field team-mates won another six silver and bronze medals, prompting a special correspondent to write “Rejoice with me, oh ye sports lovers of Nigeria, for the remarkable achievements of our boys”.

Olympic image of Ifeajuna on exercise books in public schools was a common feature

Ifeajuna, feted wherever he went, would soon see his picture on the front of school exercise books. He was a great national hero who would remain Nigeria’s only gold medallist, in Commonwealth or Olympic sport, until 1966.


INVOLVEMENT IN NIGERIA’S FIRST COUP

The next time Ifeajuna appeared before a crowd of thousands he was bare-chested and tied to a stake, facing execution before a seething mob. He had co-led a military coup in January 1966 in which, according to an official but disputed police report, he shot and killed Nigeria’s first prime minister. The coup failed but Ifeajuna escaped to safety in Ghana, dressed as a woman and was driven to freedom by a famous poet. Twenty months later, he was back, fighting for the persecuted Igbo people of eastern Nigeria in a brutal civil war that broke out as a consequence of the coup.

THE END: Close shot of a convict facing a firing squad


INCONCLUSIVE TRIAL & DEATH

Ifeajuna and three fellow officers were accused by their own leader, General Emeka Ojukwu, of plotting against him and the breakaway Republic of Biafra. They denied charges of treason: they were trying to save lives and their country, they said, by negotiating an early ceasefire with the federal government and reuniting Nigeria. They failed, they died and, in the next two and a half years, so did more than a million Igbos.

The day of the execution was 25 September, 1967, and the time 1.30pm. There was a very short gap between trial and execution, not least because federal troops were closing in on Enugu, the Biafran capital, giving rise to fears that the “guilty four” might be rescued.

As the execution approached, the four men – Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Victor Banjo, Phillip Alale (two former soldiers from federal troops who allied with Biafra) and Sam Agbam – were tied to stakes. Ifeajuna, with his head on his chest as though he was already dead, kept mumbling that his death would not stop what he had feared most, that federal troops would enter Enugu, and the only way to stop this was for those about to kill him to ask for a ceasefire.

A body of soldiers drew up with their automatic rifles at the ready. On the order of their officer, they levelled their guns at the bared chests of the four men. As a hysterical mass behind the firing squad shouted, “Shoot them! Shoot them!” a grim-looking officer gave the command: “Fire!” The deafening volley was followed by lolling heads. Ifeajuna slumped. Nigeria’s great sporting hero died a villain’s death. But he had been right. By 4.00pm two and a half hours after the executions, the gunners of the federal troops had started to hit their targets in Enugu with great accuracy. The Biafrans began to flee and the city fell a few days later.


NO MONUMENTS, NO HISTORY

Of all the many hundreds of gold medallists at the Empire and Commonwealth Games since 1930 none left such a mark on history, led such a remarkable life or suffered such a shocking death as Ifeajuna.

His co-plotter in the 1966 coup, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, was buried with full military honours and had a statue erected in his memory in his home town. But for Ifeajuna, the hateful verdict of that seething mob carried weight down the years. His name was reviled, his sporting glory all but written out of Nigeria’s history. His name is absent from the website of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, appearing neither in the history of the Federation nor in any other section. There is no easy road to redemption for the gold medallist who inadvertently started a war and was shot for trying to stop it.

Ifeajuna posing with officials at the Commonwealth shortly after he was announced winner

Nigeria’s first foray into overseas sport was in 1948, when they sent athletes to London to compete in the Amateur Athletic Association Championships, and to watch the Olympic Games before a planned first entry in the next Olympiad. In 1950 there was cause to celebrate when the high jumper, Josiah Majekodunmi, won a silver medal at the Auckland Commonwealth Games. He also fared best of Nigeria’s Olympic pathfinders, the nine-man team who competed at Helsinki in 1952. Majekodunmi was ninth, with two of his team-mates also in the top 20. Nigerians clearly excelled at the high jump.

With three men having competed in that 1952 Olympic final, the Nigeria selectors had plenty of names to consider for the Commonwealth Games high jump in Vancouver two years later. Ifeajuna, aged 20, was not a contender until he surprised everybody at the national championships in late April, less than two months before the team were due to depart. His jump of 6ft 5.5in, the best of the season, took him straight in alongside Nafiu Osagie, one of the 1952 Olympians, and he was selected.

The high jump was on day one of competition in Vancouver and Ifeajuna wore only one shoe, on his left foot. One correspondent wrote: “The Nigerian made his cat-like approach from the left-hand side. In his take-off stride his leading leg was flexed to an angle quite beyond anything ever seen but he retrieved position with a fantastic spring and soared upwards as if plucked by some external agency.”

Ifeajuna brushed the bar at 6ft 7in but it stayed on; he then cleared 6ft 8in to set a Games and British Empire record, and to become the first man ever to jump 13.5in more than his own height. This first gold for black Africa was a world-class performance. His 6ft 8in – just over 2.03m – would have been good enough for a silver medal at the Helsinki Olympics two years earlier.

The team arrived back home on 8 September. That afternoon they were driven on an open-backed lorry through the streets of Lagos, with the police band on board, to a civic reception at the racecourse. The flags and bunting were out in abundance, as were the crowds in the middle and, for those who could afford tickets, the grandstand. There was a celebration dance at 9.00pm. Ifeajuna told reporters he had been so tired, having spent nearly four hours in competition, that: “At the time I attempted the record jump I did not think I had enough strength to achieve the success which was mine. I was very happy when I went over the bar on my second attempt.”

After a couple of weeks at home Ifeajuna was off to university on the other side of the country at Ibadan. His sporting career was already over, apart from rare appearances in inter-varsity matches. He met his future wife, Rose, in 1955. They married in 1959 and had two sons. After graduating in zoology, he taught for a while before joining the army in 1960 and was trained in England, at Aldershot. Ifeajuna had first shown an interest in the military in 1956 when, during a summer holiday in Abeokuta, he had visited the local barracks with a friend who later became one of the most important figures in the Commonwealth.

Former Commonwealth General secretary, Chief Emeka Anyaoku

RELATIONSHIP WITH ANYAOKU

Chief Emeka Anyaoku joined the Commonwealth Secretariat in 1966, the year of Ifeajuna’s coup attempt. While his good friend escaped, returned, fought in the war and died in front of the firing squad, Anyaoku moved to London, where he rose to the highest office in the Commonwealth, secretary-general, in 1990. For four years at university he lived in a room next door to Ifeajuna, who became a close friend.

Why did the record-breaking champion stop competing? “From October, 1954, when he enrolled at Ibadan, he never trained,” said Anyaoku, nearly 60 years later. “He never had a coach – only his games master at grammar school – and there were no facilities at the university. He simply stopped. He seemed content with celebrating his gold medal. I don’t think the Olympics ever tempted him. I used to tease him that he was the most natural hero in sport. He did no special training. He was so gifted, he just did it all himself. Jumping barefoot, or with one shoe, was not unusual where we came from.”


OBASANJO'S ASSESSMENT OF HIM

Another hugely influential voice from Nigerian history pointed out that Ifeajuna, in his days as a student, had “a fairly good record of rebellion”. Olusegun Obasanjo served as head of a military regime and as an elected president. He recalled Ifeajuna’s role in a protest that led to the closure of his grammar school in Onitsha for a term in 1951, when he was 16. Three years after winning gold, while at university, Ifeajuna made a rousing speech before leading several hundred students in protest against poor food and conditions.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo as a military head of states

The former president also held a manuscript written by Ifeajuna in the aftermath of the coup but never published. It stated: “It was unity we wanted, not rebellion. We had watched our leaders rape our country. The country was so diseased that bold reforms were badly needed to settle social, moral, economic and political questions. We fully realised that to be caught planning, let alone acting, on our lines, was high treason. And the penalty for high treason is death.”

In 1964, the Lagos boxer Omo Oloja won a light-middleweight bronze in Tokyo, thereby becoming Nigeria’s first Olympic medallist. It was a rare moment of celebration in a grim year that featured a general strike and a rigged election. Another election the following year was, said the BBC and Reuters correspondent Frederick Forsyth, seriously rigged – “electoral officers disappeared, ballot papers vanished from police custody, candidates were detained, polling agents were murdered”. Two opposing sides both claimed victory, leading to a complete breakdown of law and order. “Rioting, murder, looting, arson and mayhem were rife,” said Forsyth. The prime minister, Tafawa Balewa, refused to declare a state of emergency. There was corruption in the army, too, with favouritism for northern recruits. A group of officers began to talk about a coup after they were told by their brigadier that they would be required to pledge allegiance to the prime minister, from the north, rather than the country’s first president, an Igbo. Ifeajuna’s group feared a jihad against the mainly Christian south, led by the north’s Muslim figurehead, the Sardauna of Sokoto.

First prime minister of Nigeria, Sir Tafawa Balewa

DID TAFAWA BALEWA DIE OF ASTHMA OR SHOT BY IFEAJUNA?

The coup, codenamed Leopard, was planned in secret meetings. Major Ifeajuna led a small group in Lagos, whose main targets were the prime minister, the army’s commander-in-chief, and a brigadier, who was Ifeajuna’s first victim. According to the official police report, part of which has never been made public, Ifeajuna and a few of his men broke into the prime minister’s home, kicked down his bedroom door and led out Balewa in his white robe. They allowed him to say his prayers and drove him away in Ifeajuna’s car. On the road to Abeokuta they stopped, Ifeajuna ordered the prime minister out of the car, shot him, and left his body in the bush. Others say the Prime Minister was not shot, nor was the intention ever to kill him: Balewa died of an asthma attack or a heart attack brought on by fear. There has never been conclusive evidence either way.

Ifeajuna drove on to Enugu, where it became apparent that the coup had failed, mainly because one of the key officers in Ifeajuna’s Lagos operation had “turned traitor” and had failed to arrive as planned with armoured cars. Major-General Ironsi, the main military target, was still at large and he soon took control of the military government. Ifeajuna was now a wanted man. He hid in a chemist’s shop, disguised himself as a woman, and was driven over the border by his friend Christopher Okigbo, a poet of great renown. Then he travelled on to Ghana, where he was welcomed.

Ifeajuna eventually agreed to return to Lagos, where he was held pending trial. Ojukwu, by now a senior officer, ensured his safety by having him transferred, in April, to a jail in the east. The Igbo people who lived in the north of Nigeria were attacked. In weeks of violent bloodshed, tens of thousands died. As the death toll increased, the outcome was a Civil War. In May 1967, Ojukwu, military governor of the south-east of Nigeria, declared that the region had now become the Republic of Biafra. By the time the fighting ended in early 1970, the number of deaths would be in the millions.

Arguably, if either of Ifeajuna’s plots had been a success, those lives would not have been lost. The verdicts on his role in Nigerian history are many and varied: his detractors have held sway. Chief among them was Bernard Odogwu, Biafra’s head of intelligence, who branded Ifeajuna a traitor and blamed him for “failure and atrocities” in the 1966 coup. Adewale Ademoyega, one of the 1966 plotters, held a different view of Ifeajuna. “He was a rather complicated character ... intensely political and revolutionary ... very influential among those close to him ... generous and willing to sacrifice anything for the revolution.”

The last time Anyaoku saw Ifeajuna was in 1963, in Lagos, before Anyaoku’s departure for a diplomatic role in New York. He later moved to London and was there in 1967. “I was devastated when I heard the news of the execution,” he said. As for Ifeajuna being all but written out of Nigeria’s sporting history, he noted that: “The history of the civil war still evokes a two-sided argument. He is a hero to many people, though they would more readily talk about his gold medal than his involvement in the war. There are people who think he was unjustifiably executed and others who believe the opposite.”

One commentator suggested recently that the new national stadium in Abuja, Nigerian capital, should have been named after Ifeajuna. But it will surely never happen.



Brian Oliver is a former sports editor of the Observer. This is an edited extract from his book, The Commonwealth Games: Extraordinary Stories Behind The Medals, published by Bloomsbury and priced £12.99

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