Friday, 17 June 2016

Why Saro-Wiwa Turned Down Abacha’s Ministerial Appointment (FLASH BACK)

History of political and historical figures in Nigeria is so warped that each passing springs up its own surprise. It may indeed amaze many to note that the late tyrant, Gen Sani Abacha and the Ogoni activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, whose execution he sanctioned along with eight others in 1995 had something in common.

According to Dare Babarinsa, a veteran journalist, their friendship dated back to the era of the Civil War (1967 – 1970) days when the latter was a commissioner in the old Rivers State government headed by the military governor, Alfred Diette-Spiff. On the strength of that friendship, Abacha had sent a presidential jet to fetch Saro-Wiwa from Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State.

Relieving his meeting with Saro-Wiwa when he paid them a visit at TELL Magazine office in Ogba shortly before his arrest, the poet confided in them that he was not surprised about the royal treatment for Abacha had been a generous friend.

Abacha made his offer to the President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). Would he like to be the Minister of Petroleum Resources? Saro-Wiwa declined. What he wanted, he told Abacha, was for the head of the ruling junta to help him implement the Ogoni Bill of Rights. The meeting ended as a fiasco. Abacha threw the Ogoni Bill of Rights into the waste bin. No more presidential jet for Saro-Wiwa. He was asked to find his way home. They were never to meet again. About 24 months later in 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight of his compatriots in the MOSOP leadership were executed in what was called “judicial murder.”

Trial of Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni eight

It was for the sake of the long run that Saro-Wiwa waged his war for justice with so much eloquence and audacity. He believed that Nigerians need to learn to discuss and negotiate peacefully the future of their great country. He was a tireless advocate because he had witnessed the futility of war.

Saro-Wiwa wanted the future of Ogoni to be negotiated. He believes in the potency of the written word and with this weapon, he pursued the oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell, the main oil company in Ogoni, to the end of the earth over the pollution of his homeland. He wanted a national conference that would debate the future of the Nigerian federation and grant some level of self-determination to his Ogoni. Unfortunately, Abacha did not have a listening ear and Saro-Wiwa ended up at the gallows.

Dare Babarinsa is now a columnist with Guardian Nigeria

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

FRANK EDWARD: Inspirational Story of Enugu Street Boy Who Rose To Become Nigeria’s Best Gospel Artiste

The cover of the duo's Extended Play Album

If there is any Nigerian gospel artiste whose songs I find soothing and reassuring after those of American Don Moen, it has to be Frank Edward. It was a sheer delight watching him performed during Emzor Pharmaceuticals’ annual thanksgiving held at the popular City Hall in Lagos Island in 2015. His mastery of the guitar and silky voice combine well to give room for both meditation and a sort of connection with the heavenlies. Aside having a collection of his inspirational songs, that was the very first time I saw him play live at any event.

Nicknamed “Rich Boy,” Frank Ugochukwu Edwards was born on July 22, 1990 into a family of seven in Enugu state. He learned to play the piano from his father and began singing at the age of ten. In what appeared to many as unusual, young Edward became a born-again Christian quite early in his teenage years.

A staunch member and keyboardist in Pastor Chris Oyakhilome-led Christ Embassy Church and LoveWorld Music Ministry, the contemporary gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist is presently the founder and owner of Rocktown Records, which is home to enterprising young recording artists such as Gil, Divine, King BAS, Nkay, and David among others.

But just how did Frank Edward manage to get to this stage?

Young Frank when he started out as pianist

The artiste personally relieved his rise from a street boy to stardom to participants at the inauguration of the Calvary Bible Church in Lekki recently. It was so inspiring!

Hear him!

“Ten years ago, I was hawking on the streets of Enugu for my mother. We were so poor that we could hardly afford to eat. But, my mother always took me to church. She always told me to serve GOD, and that is how I have lived my life. Even when it was difficult to eat, I have always lived a life of worship. That is me. That is my life!
When I started singing, and my songs were being played everywhere, I had all kinds of offers. At a point in my life, I was in South Africa for a programme, and some promoters came to me and said, ‘Frank, your songs are so good, and we would like to promote you, take you all over the world. However, you mention the name JESUS too much in your songs. But if you can try and replace JESUS with GOD, we can do business together’.

 Brethren, that offer was very tempting. You would think, ‘What is the big deal about replacing JESUS with GOD?’ So, I called my mother, and told her about the offer. She said, ‘Don’t mind them O! Don’t do it! Holy Ghost Fire will burn all of them.’ So, I told them NO!

Today, GOD has taken my music all over! It is a beautiful thing to see white people, Americans, singing my song, Igbo songs that they don’t even know the meaning! GOD did it.

Frank and his mum on a rare date

Sometime ago, we were concluding a programme, and I was looking for a camera man to snap my picture with a renowned praise and worship leader Don Moen. Eventually I got someone to take it. As I posed with Don, he looked at me and said, ‘Oh, Frank Edwards! It is you! I need to take this picture with you!’ And he took his phone and showed me, ‘See, I have all your songs on my phone’.

We took the snapshot. After then, he said, ‘Frank, I saw online that you have a studio in your home. I would like us to do collaboration together. I’m gonna come to your house for the first recording, and you will come over to mine in U.S. for the finishing.’
At that time, I thought to myself, ‘Me, the same street boy in Enugu, to do collaboration with a Gospel legend like Don Moen? Only GOD could have made it happen. Live for GOD. Praise Him and thank Him even when things are not as you would have loved them to be. Do this, and the change will come! Live a life of worship”

That was the testimony of Frank Edward at the Church that day. Awesome, isn’t it?

That is not all!  Needless to say the proposed one of a kind album duet between Moen and Edward has been wrapped up to produce a five-track extended play recently in the United States. One of such hit track is “Ka Anyi Bulie” (Let Us Lift Him).

It would be recalled that Edward’s debut album, a 14-track album, ‘The Definition was released in 2008. This was followed shortly by ‘Angels on the Runway’ his second album in 2010. ‘Unlimited’ album arrived a year after that and Tagjam was released in November 2011.

L-R: Frank Edward posing with Joe Egbu, hubby of fellow gospel artiste, Sinach and Sinach herself during Emzor's 2015 annual thanksgiving

The former Enugu Street boy has been described as Nigeria's hottest Gospel Rock artiste of the moment. His rising profile also came to the fore when he appeared on the live performance of Sinach's classic "I know who I am" video in 2013.

In May 2011, Rich Boy was nominated as the GOSPEL ARTISTE OF THE YEAR at the 6th Annual Nigeria Entertainment Awards (NEA). He won the award of the BEST GOSPEL ROCK ARTISTE in the first annual awards and also won West Africa Best Male Vocalist in 2012, Best Hit Single at the love world awards 2012 as well as three awards at the Nigeria Gospel Music Awards (Male Artiste of The Year, Song of The Year and Best Male Vocal).

His last album before the collaboration with Don Moen, “Frankincense,” caught everyone unaware when it topped Beyonce and Adele's albums within few hours of release on itunes album chart.


Wherever you find yourself, whatever the challenge, Don’t Ever Give Up on GOD! Just keep reminding yourself that he is quietly preparing you a place of comfort. He is not through with you yet. Keep the hope alive!

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First Reported Case of ‘419’ In Nigeria Committed By A Briton In 1920 (INTERESTING ARTICLE)

Nigerian scammers are generally regarded as pioneers in the sending of mass letters, messages and emails seeking to defraud any recipient foolish and greedy enough to fall for their tricks, although all the signs are that the practice has now spread worldwide. Nigerians call scams like these “Four One Nine,” so called by reference to Article 419 of the country’s criminal code, which concerns fraud.

Yet Nigeria’s 419 scammers have a far longer pedigree than most people realise. The first properly documented 419 letter dates from 1920 and was written by one P. Crentsil to a contact in the British colony of the Gold Coast, today’s Ghana. Crentsil launched into a long description of the magical powers that were in his possession and that could, on payment of a fee, be used to the benefit of his correspondent. Crentsil signed himself “P. Crentsil, Professor of Wonders.

According to the evidence at hand, “Professor” Crentsil has to be regarded as the first-known exponent of the modern 419 fraud. He seems to have written a number of similar letters, each time offering to provide magical services on payment of a fee.

In December 1921, he was charged by the police with three counts under various sections of the criminal code including section 419, the one to which Nigerians make reference when they speak of “Four One Nine.” But Crentsil was in luck: the magistrate presiding over his case discharged him with a caution on the first count and acquitted him on the two others for lack of corroborating evidence, as a result of which “he (Crentsil) is now boasting that he got off owing to his ‘juju’ powers,” reported the Chief of Police in Onitsha Province. The same officer stated that he had known Crentsil for some years, during which time the “Professor” “had slipped through the hands of the police so often that I shall soon, myself, begin to believe in his magic powers.”

There is no way of knowing how many similar cases may have occurred, but the colonial authorities became sufficiently concerned by the number of letters addressed to Nigerians from outside the country soliciting money for what the British regarded as fraudulent purposes that they started to intercept items of what was called “charlatanic correspondence.” The Director of Posts and Telegraphs made clear that this term embraced adverts concerning “medicines of potency, and unfailing healing power, lucky charms, love philtres, magic pens with which examinations can be passed, powders and potions to inspire personal magnetism, remove kinks from hair—or insert them—counteract sterility and ensure football prowess.” The Posts and Telegraphs department recorded 9,570 such items in 1947, by which time the amount of money returned to senders was some £1,205. In the mid-1940s there was a spate of financial scams perpetrated by people known as “Wayo tricksters,” some of whom were operating a trick that involved posing as agents of a “New York Currency Note Firm,” selling to a gullible victim boxes of blank paper with a promise that this could be turned into banknotes by application of a special chemical.

Behaviour of a sort that British officials probably would have classified as charlatanic was sometimes recorded on the part of the relatively few Nigerians who travelled overseas at that time. One of these was one Prince Modupe, who spent years in the United States under a variety of fantastical guises. In 1935 he was in Los Angeles presenting himself as a graduate of Jesus College, Oxford, although Oxford University had no record of him. In March 1947 he appeared on the bill at the San Francisco Opera House under the name His Royal Highness Prince Modupe of Dubrica. Seven months later he was still in San Francisco, now claiming to be the “Crown Prince of Nigeria” and representing himself as a successful businessman who had obtained a variety of commercial contracts. Modupe seems to have been in effect a professional confidence trickster. Nor was he the only Nigerian operating in this field in the United States. Another was Prince Peter Eket Inyang Udo, a businessman who lived in America and Britain for 17 years. Eket Inyang Udo attracted the attention of the colonial authorities not only on account of his dubious commercial practices but also because of his political ideas and connections.

Another controversial case, in which fraud and nationalist politics seem to have been mixed, concerned an Igbo man who became a minor celebrity in America under the name Prince Orizu. He was so well known that an Australian official working in New York for the U.N. wondered in his memoirs: “What happened to the Ibo adventurer who called himself Prince Orizu?” Noting that “there are no hereditary chiefs let alone princes in Ibo-land,” the Australian wrote that Orizu “seemed to have no difficulty in getting a write-up in the New Yorker or the New York Times every now and then.” The person he was describing also went under the name Dr Abyssinia Akweke Nwafor Orizu, and it was under this name that he was convicted by a magistrate in Nigeria in September 1953 on seven counts of fraud and theft of funds ostensibly intended to fund scholarships in the United States. Himself U.S.-educated, Orizu had collected over £32,000 in the three years prior to his conviction.

What makes the case all the more interesting is that Orizu was a stalwart of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), the leading political party founded in 1944, and was also a member of the Regional Government established under Nigeria’s 1951 constitution. He went on to have a distinguished political career, becoming president of the Senate after Nigeria’s Independence. Although it has been alleged that Orizu’s conviction for fraud was a miscarriage of justice, it seems fair to observe that modern politics, which emerged in Nigeria only in the 1940s, offered opportunities for a type of self-fashioning comparable in many respects to that practised by fabulists and fraudsters like Crentsil, Modupe and others.

Some of Nigeria’s new breed of chancers began at a young age. In 1949, the U.S. consul-general in Lagos reported the existence of one “Prince Bil Morrison,” who turned out to be a 14-year old boy who specialized in writing to correspondents in America to solicit funds. The police remarked that this case was just “one more in which generous, but possibly gullible, American citizens have allowed themselves to be taken in by African schoolboys.” The consul-general wrote: “These young Nigerians are stated by the police to be excellent psychologists,” noting that their practice of writing to people in the United States and Canada for money was “widespread.” Frauds by Nigerian students in the United States and Canada in the late 1940s were said to include the offer for sale of diamonds, ivory and other exotic luxuries.

SOURCE: Newsweek
This piece is an extract from the late Stephen Ellis’s book This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organized Crime. The book is published by Hurst in London and by Oxford University Press in New York.

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A Detailed Historical Account of How Epe Town Was Founded (Everything You Need To Know)

Gov Akinwunmi Ambode at 2015 Ojude Oba celebration at Epe Recreation Ground

When Uraka and Aramope both hunters left Ile-Ife on a hunting expedition and arrived Ijebu-Ode, little did Uraka know that he was on a threshold of history.

At Ijebu-Ode through Ifa divination, he was told to move southwards towards the sea and should settle anywhere between his crossing of the sixth and seventh river. After crossing the fifth river called “OTERIN” (Cold Water), he got to a place later identified as ‘Poka’ where he used his popoka stick to strike the ground.

Poka town derived his name from Uraka’s popoka stick. At Poka, the Ifa oracle was further consulted for direction which led Uraka to proceeded and after crossing the sixth river, he finally settled in a place called “ETITA”.

A scenic view from Lagos-Epe Bridge - (photo credit muyiwa71)

Upon settling at Etita, Uraka saw smoke emanating from a heavily thick forest towards the lagoon. To see things for himself, Uraka traced the source of the smoke where he met with Opute, Lugbasa, Alaro and Ogunmude - all fishermen.

Alaro and Ogunmude were married but childless. Both later became deities worshipped in Epe to date hence all Epe’s sons and daughters are referred as to “Omo Epe Alaro Ogunmude”

Meanwhile Uraka continued his hunting expeditions until he got to a place called Iboobo (monkey forest), the present site of the University of Lagos, School of Engineering and formerly a military barracks, from where he continued his search for games.

He later discovered a place called Oko-Eepe (Forest of black ants). As it turned out, whenever Uraka set his traps for games, he always returned home empty handed.

The 100-Year-Old Colonial Office In Epe (Photo credit - Festour)

This became a source of worry to him and his wife. Yet he was convinced that Oko-Eepe was home to the biggest games around. He complained to his wife named “PEETA” that the forest was infested with black ants and whenever he tapped his feet to ward off the black ants, animals around would took to their heels. More so, any animal caught by his traps were always eaten up by the ants before he got there.

Each time Uraka sets out for hunting, Peeta would ask if he was still going to Oko-Eepe. Eepe town derived its name from Oko-Eepe in the 15th century and some historians believed Peeta, Uraka’s wife must have played a vital role in the naming of Epe Town.

Epe started expanding and in no time, some people settled at Areke or Aleke while others settled at the other side known as “Apakeji”.

Along the line, an Ijebu prince, son of the fifth Awujale of Ijebu-Ode, Obaloja left Ijebu-Ode and settled in Epe. He took the name Oloja and by 1790, Shagbafara was installed Oloja.

As at 1810, Epe was fairly a large town. The town was relatively peaceful but had its own share of inter-tribal war. However 1848 witnessed the Makun-Omi-Epe war.

It was almost immediately after the end of Makun-Omi-Epe war that King Kosoko of Lagos sought refuge in Epe Land with over 1,500 followers. That was in December of 1851, during the reign of Oloja Olumade.

Kosoko was denied entry into Epe town but after a long plea, he was directed to Ijebu-Ode to obtain clearance and permission from Awujale Anikilaya.

Epe Animal Market (Photo credit -jgcazorla)

The Awujale consequently considered him as a mark of royalty and sent “Oja Ikale” as symbol of permission and caring to Oloja Olumade, asking him to grant Kosoko and his lieutenants’ asylum in Epe.

Kosoko stay in Epe was a subject of controversy.  Some claimed that in his 11 years in Epe, he never had a house of his own, while others think otherwise. But whatever the case might have been, Kosoko’s years in Epe changed the socio-cultural atmosphere of Epe town, because some of his followers to Epe town were mostly Muslims.

Balogun Ajeniya, Oshodi Tapa, Balogun Agbaje, Disu Kujeniya, Braimoh Iyanda Oloko and Posu were some of the brave warriors who were in Epe with Kosoko. Some of these chiefs converted to Islam. For example, Balogun Ajeniya, who later became a great promoter of Islam in Epe was one of them. These converts later formed a community under the leadership of Mallam Idris Saliu Gana, who happened to be an Imam in Lagos.

This was responsible for the spread of Islam in Epe town to date. The term “Epe Onikorani” was as a result of the spread of Islam in Epe. In appreciation for the treatment accorded him in Epe, Kosoko gave one of his daughters named Kusade to an Ijebu Chief, Adebawon of Idogun in marriage; Adewusi was the product of that marriage.

In 1862, Kosoko was pardoned and later returned to Lagos. The bulk of his followers left with him, including his daughter Kusade, and leaving behind his grandson Adewusi. Adewusi’s family is still multiplying in Epe to date. Those left behind by Kosoko formed bulk of what is now referred to as Epe Eko.

AD 1780: Oloja Shagbafara installed Oloja of Epe.

1810: Epe became a fairly large town.

1836: Awujale Figbajoye Anikilaya established Ejirin market.

1848: Makum Omi-Epe war

1851: King Kosoko sought refuge in Epe

1852: Islam was introduced by followers of Kosoko in Epe.

1854: Kosoko and his chiefs signed a treaty of peace with Mr. B. Campbell, British Counsel not to regain Lagos in return to have palma and Lekki as his port.

1862: British negotiated with Kosoko and obtained from him cessions of Palma and Lekki. Koso, Oshodi Tapa and others left Epe and returned to Lagos on 16th September, 1862.

1863: Governor Freeman twice attacked Epe with a force of West Indian Regiment, Hausas and British sailors, Chief Posu Submitted and signed a treaty of cession on 26th March.

1875: Posu, a leading figure among followers of Kosoko to prove his mantle and ceded Epe to the British died in Epe on 14th of December of 1875.

On 29th of December 1882: Awujale Fidipote left Ijebu-Ode in anger unexpectedly to settle at Epe where he remained till his death on the 14th June 1885.

On 15th August 1885: Asani Giwa of Okepopo was killed by the Eko Epes at Ikosi Market.

1886: Some Ijebus who came with Awujale Fidipote to Epe killed Agurin, the guard in charge of Ejirin market.

1888: Balogun Agoro of Epe drowned via Lekki

1892: British Expedition to Ijebu-Ode landed in Epe base of operation. Inspector A. cloud Willoughby was shot dead at Odo-Ragunsen.

May 18th 1892: Christianity was established in Epe

1894: St. Michael’s C.M.S School was established.

1898: Baale Buraimoh Edu, veteran politician sponsored and finance the course of Muslim Education in Epe.

1898: Government Muslim school was opened

1901: Chief Imam Uthman died on January 22nd and Epe Town Council was established

1903: Paul Ogunsanya and others brought Roman Catholic Mission to Ibonwon

1905: Misunderstanding between Ijebu-Epe and Eko Epe became much more acute as a result of Ijaw fishermen, fishing on the lagoon.

1912: War broke out between Ijebu Epe and Eko Epe

1917: July 9th, Baale Buraimoh Edu died

1923: S.A Mejindade Esq opened the Islamic school which became Ansa-ud-deen school in 1946

On March 1930: Daddy Solomon Ademuwagun introduced Cherubim and Seraphim in Epe.

1937: Commissioner of Colony (Captain Emberton) the District Officer (Mr. Childs) Assistant District Officer (Mr. Gilbons) had an important meeting with Baale Abidakun and Kaka, Balogun Abudu Kadiri Oluwo and Amunikaro Mr. T.O. Seriki and A.B. Egberongbe, all of Ijebu Epe and Eko-Epe on the way and means to engender harmony and mutual dealing towards the re-organization to native administration.

1937, September 14 -15: Commissioner of colony, district officers, bales and Baloguns of Ijebu and Eko Epe had important meetings with the baales of adjourning villages to convey to them the decision taken at the meetings of August 28th and to sought their opinions on the proposals set up for the formation of a native administration in District.

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Houseboy To Billionaire: Success Story of Dr. Poly Emenike

Dr. Poly Emenike

There are some levels of grass-to-grace stories that sometimes make one doubt its authenticity. One of such is the sudden turnaround in fortune for Dr. Poly Emenike, chairman of Victoria Island-based Neros Pharmaceuticals Limited.

In a typical African setting, it is expected that a child primary education starts from 4 to 6 years (away from the myth of putting your right hand across the head to touch your left ear) and possibly gained admission into secondary school by the time he attains the age of 11 or 12 years. This is not so in the case of Emenike.

At the age of 32, with a wife, children and a thriving enterprise, the hustling young man reportedly enrolled as a pupil at Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School in Surulere area of Lagos, oddly wearing school uniform like his far younger schoolmates.

The butt of jokes at the time, many thought the jeers he sometimes received and the strange looks onlookers gave him would make him throw in the towel. Nay! Emenike forged ahead with the quest for higher knowledge that he missed out during his formative years. And in 1988, the effort paid off as he completed his O’ Level.  His hunger for academic excellence further drove him to University of Lagos where he obtained his BSc and MSc in 1997 and 1999 respectively. Just when you think that the Neros boss has seen it all, he capped his academic laurels with a doctorate degree at the International School of Management, Paris, France in 2012. Also, in his kitty are certificates from Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School / Pan African University.

Emenike with comedian Holy Mallam during his 60th birthday

Before you start thinking What a rosy life he has,’ let us look at his humble beginning and why he had to delay his secondary education until the age of 32.

Born on November 28, 1955, at Nnanka in Orumba North Local Government area of present day Anambra State to a peasant farmer and a petty trading mother, the pharmaceutical icon is the sixth child in a family of eight. He was baptised and enrolled in schools managed by the churches even though his parents were not Christians. In the face of abject poverty that overwhelmed his family, Emenike struggled to attend primary school but his ambition was huge.

“In those days, as we went to Church, we passed through the house of the richest man in the town, Chief Aaron Obijiofor. He owned a Zephyr 4 luxury car, which everybody admired. On the wall of his house was an inscription ‘A. N. Obijiofor & Sons.’ I recalled then that anytime I played on the ground, I would scribble ‘P. I. Emenike & Sons in the sand.”

It was when Obijiofor built and commissioned the biggest house in Nanka town in 1964 that Emenike saw policemen for the first time and he was thrilled by their dexterity at controlling the traffic. This scenario, he admitted, inspired him greatly.

However on completion of his primary education in 1971, the teenager dream of gaining admission into secondary school was cut short despite passing his Common Entrance Examinations in flying colours.

Posted to Uturu Ihie which was considered far from his village, he sought for admission with his mates at a nearby school. To his astonishment, he was not allowed to go. Another attempt to go to Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha, was also frustrated.

When life was becoming unbearable in the village, he was sent to live with his maternal uncle, Philip Ezebilo Umeadi, a lawyer Onitsha. So in 1972, he arrived in Onitsha to start a new life.

Emenike with Mr. Emeka Onwuka, former chief executive officer of Diamond Bank

“A few days after I arrived in Onitsha, my uncle told me that my new job was to serve as an office boy which entailed going to court with him, where I got most of the law books. He also allocated to me the task of cooking food in his house. He assured me however that he would be saving my salary for me.”

Among other things, the young man was also in charge of collecting transport fares from clients for out of station services, car conductor for his uncle’s right-hand steering car and also in care of his law books. Despite performing his chores diligently, Emenike derived no satisfaction as he sorely missed the classroom he loved dearly. 

The matter was further worsened by his classmates from CKC, Onitsha who occasionally visited him on their way back from school on weekends. Rather than being comforted by their visits, he was emotionally traumatised by them. The return of his uncle’s wife, Nora and their daughter, Nneka in 1973 meant additional responsibility of school runs and hawking pastries for his aunty-in-law.

After spending what looked like eternity (three years precisely) in his uncle’s house without being allowed to go to school, Emenike started putting up an act of resistance. With the intervention of his elder brother, Emenike was sent off to Benin City, Edo State, to learn a trade. But the journey was short-lived as he resolved never to suffer the same fate that befell him during his short spell with his uncle. He returned to Onitsha in 1974 and started apprenticeship in the business of shoe making. A year after, with the meagre sum of N300 his uncle saved for him, Emenike started his own shoe business, trading on rubber slippers. A business he felt would not guarantee a future of wealth and comfort he desired –for he wanted to drive a Volvo car like Alhaji Kadiri and his brother, both of whom he bought wares from in Lagos. To better his lot, he decided to embark on international trade.

“It was difficult to make such painful decision to stop a vocation in which one has been involved for five years and plunge into a new one, which is relatively unknown,” Emenike recollected.

He was convinced he wasn’t going to fail but first he needed to sort out certain things, settle his senior assistant and what was left, he divided into two his savings and jetted out in 1980. That was –for him –the beginning of international trade on clothes.

This explained why he took daring steps when challenged. He kept faith with his plans, allowing nothing or anyone to distract him. His suicidal mission to Vietnam, with only $150, travelling on bikes, tricycles and being harassed by immigration for insufficient funds was a story in determination. It was a journey that brought him breakthroughs and immeasurable wealth.

In the course of his struggling to remain afloat, Emenike’s encounter with Dr. Napoleon Hill’s writings early in his business career completely transformed his outlook on life and business as well. The works of Hill, he disclosed, drove him to the pinnacle of his successes in life. Emenike first came in contact with the work of Hill in 1978, in mysterious circumstances, when he bought a copy of ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude’ co-authored with Clement Stone. With his little level of education then, he was greatly inspired by the teachings that he read it repeatedly for two years. Owing to its numerous references to ‘Think And Grow Rich’, he bought a copy of the book in 1980.

L-R: James L. Oleson and Chief Poly I. Emenike

Since the day of Emenike stumbled on Hill’s writings, he has remained his apostle as he owed about 95 per cent of his success stories to the application of the principles Hill advocated in his various teachings.

The pharma billionaire realised the role of education early in his business life. Despite his educational setback, he took correspondence courses both locally and internationally that could help in his businesses. Luck however ran out on him one day when he wanted to enrol as a member of Institute of Management, he was required to fill details of his O’ Level Certificate. That was the momentary setback that fired up his zeal to complete his secondary school education and reach the pinnacle of his success.

Despite opposition from close friends and relations, he enrolled to continue his secondary education from where he stopped at Ansar-Ud-Deen Grammar School, Surulere, Lagos. 

Today Emenike sits atop immense wealth. There is no gain saying the fact that Emenike has found the wealth and fame he earnestly desired. His ambition to compete with billionaires like the oil mogul like Femi Otedola, telecom guru like Mike Adenuga and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has been met. From being poor and hapless, the 60-year-old has advanced from trading in rubber slippers, to clothing and now into pharmaceutical business. Artesunate, the anti-malaria drug he discovered and imported from Vietnam, is today a household brand, amidst other successful pharmaceutical brands.

Far from his ambition of owning a Volvo car, Emenike has added a Rolls Royce Phantom to the collection of classic automobiles in his garage. Besides, Neros Pharmaceutical, the firm he founded, has been rated one of the leading brands in Nigeria. The company has grown into a multi-billion dollar ultra modern factory, located in Ota, Ogun State employing thousands of Nigerians and as well, produce world class drugs with branches in Ghana, Angola, and Democratic Republic of Congo among others.

Looking back to his years of struggle to date, the billionaire has this much to say:
“It is important for people to read my book because Nigeria is a country where people are looking for miracle. There is nothing like miracle. There is nothing like good luck or bad luck. There is nothing like being focused, knowing where you are going, having clear vision, working as hard as possible then follow your line of action, you will make it no matter the time. The caveat there is that enduring success takes time. If you read my book, you will see that I read the Napoleon Hill book in 1978. And since 1978 you will see ups and downs. Like I said, a man’s life is not a straight line graph. It is a moving average; you will be falling. In my case, I fell almost 15 times but I did not lose focus. That was why I was able to make it in life.”

What more can a man ask for?

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Monday, 16 May 2016

Untold Success Story of Betty Irabor’s Genevieve Magazine

There is a popular maxim that says there is hardly any successful individual, venture or organisation without a story to tell. That perhaps explains why Betty Irabor, award-winning CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Genevieve Magazine, turns emotional any time she is discussing the success story behind the glossy lifestyle publication.

In her view, “There were times when I was so discouraged as an entrepreneur that I wanted to quit but I thought of all those people I had promised that quitting was not an option, those who believed in me and started their various enterprises because I said it was possible.

“I have since learnt that there is a process to success and that process can break or build us depending on our beliefs and inner strength.  Our thoughts can make or mar us so be careful what you’re thinking about.”

In truth, those who know Betty’s story and how she forayed into the world of entrepreneurship would readily affirm that she has indeed weathered the storm and teething problems associated with the first-five years of every new publication.

Was there never a time that the publisher feared Genevieve Magazine would die off due to paucity of fund and lack of patronage?

A staunch believer in miracles, hear her story...

“For those who feel God has abandoned them, let me share this story with you! I hope it rekindles your faith in Him!

One day in the early years of Genevieve magazine (11 years ago), we had no funds to publish our next edition. I sat in my office bemoaning my fate and feeling like a downright failure when I got a call from the front desk that I had some visitors.

"Did I not say no visitors? Send them to the editor!" I yelled.

A few minutes later, my phone rang again. This time, it was from the advert guy!  MD, I think you should meet with these visitors" it was a plea. "Ok, let them come up" I said truly exasperated.

 Minutes later I sat face-to-face with this genial woman and her West Indian partner. "You may not remember me, but I am a great admirer of you and Soni (hubby). I see you together all the time at parties and you are always so friendly. I also love your magazine. I am a distributor for Revlon and here is my UK partner. We have adverts for you and want to sign a 2-year contract" she said.

To cut a long story short, by the time they left, we had a cheque of about three million Naira (N3 million) in our hands... and hope rekindled. 

Do you see why I said that miracles still happen?” she quipped.

Interesting testimony, isn’t it?

Today, Genevieve Magazine has since risen from the shell of that near-fatal trial to become Nigeria's leading lifestyle magazine circulating across Africa, America and Europe, inspiring wholesomeness in all women globally.

Just in case you are wondering how somebody like her suddenly dabbled into the world of journalism, let us take cursory look at the background of the ace publisher.
Born 59 years ago, the mother of two is married to ace broadcaster, Sonny Irabor. She had worked as a journalist at Concord Newspapers and held freelancing jobs at the Vanguard, The Guardian, Thisday and some lifestyle magazines abroad before venturing out with her own publication idea for a glossy lifestyle magazine for women home and abroad.

As planned, Betty entered into the world of publishing 13 years ago with a simple vision that has since grown.

Over the years, the magazine’s cover has been graced by leading women of style and inspiration; high achievers like Tara Fela-Durotoye, Tiwa Savage, Edewor twins, Agbani Darego, Abike Dabiri, Onyeka Onwenu and Genevieve Nnaji.

Starting her magazine at the age of 45, Betty braved all odds to transform her dream into the success story that we know today. However she has since attributed her success in entrepreneurship to an inner strength, strong will, and divine sense of purpose, maintaining that entrepreneurs must possess the quality of stubbornness in order to keep going WHEN the storms arrive

When interviewed in a recent publication, Betty confessed that the secret of Genevieve’s success bothers more on passion.

“Passion is top on my list, followed closely by tenacity of purpose. I love what I am doing especially as it is impacting people.  Genevieve changed my way of thinking from “What if I fail?” to “What if I succeed?”

“I grew on the job both emotionally and mentally and I am still learning and growing because in the words of author, Anthony Robbins “The road to success is always under construction. It is a progressive course, not an end to be reached,” she said.

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Meet Man Whom Adeniyi Jones Avenue Was Named After (PHOTOS)

I know this article might not appeal much to many Octogenarians and Nonagenarians in Lagos and Nigeria at large, probably because they have heard or were acquainted with the historical character in question.

Nay, this publication is instead tailored and directed at the younger generation and non-historians.

How often do we pass through the highbrow area of Adeniyi Jones Avenue in Lagos and wonder who or how great the man was? Until I made a research on his person, I used to have this fallacious impression that the mystery man must be one of those ancient monarchs who contributed to the development of the cosmopolitan city called “Lagos de Curamo.”

But how wrong can one get? For, In fact, his influence and impact far outweighed my earlier submission.

The legendary Crispin Curtis Adeniyi-Jones (1876-1957), in whose memory the street in Ikeja highbrow settlement (Adeniyi-Jones Avenue) was named, was a celebrated Nigerian medical doctor of Sierra Leonean heritage (a Saro). In pre-colonial era, Saro was the popular name given to liberated slaves and returnees from Sierra Leone and environs.

He was believed to have been born in Freetown and attended Sierra Leone Grammar School for his secondary education. On the other hand, he bagged his university degrees at the University of Durham and the University of Dublin and started work at Rotunda Hospital, Dublin.

Adeniyi-Jones was reported to have also apprenticed under Sir Robert Boyce, a notable doctor from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

In the book, "C.C. Adeniyi-Jones: A 'Forgotten' National Hero" both S.O. Arifalo and Olukoya Ogen asserted  that young Crispin left Britain for Nigeria in 1904 and served in the colonial government medical services in Lagos. Unfortunately a strategic policy to limit the advancement of African doctors within the medical services and the lack of funds in many departments curtailed some of his initial enthusiasm. Nevertheless, he was appointed the first director of the Yaba Asylum, one of the two asylums in Nigeria at the time.

By 1914, the brilliant physician left government services and started a successful private clinic in Lagos. Of course, he shone like a million star and became quite famous.

This is how Richard L. Sklar in his book, “Nigerian Political Parties: Power in an Emergent African Nation” puts:

As a co-founder of Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), he won one of the Lagos 3 legislative council seats in 1923 and represented Nigerians for 15 yrs.

A pioneer director of the Yaba asylum (Yaba Apa Osi), He became one of Nigeria's foremost nationalist as a member and later as NNDP president. He was also a staunch member of the legislative council of Nigeria and served in the council from 1923-1938.

Apart from his political activities at the home front, he also teamed up with Winifred Tete-Ansa of the National Congress of British West Africa to formulate economic policies to alleviate some of the emerging economic problems in colonial West Africa.

Until he died in 1957, he was among the foremost patriots and nationalists who strongly campaign for self governance. His contribution in Lagos politics was what later paved the way for what we know today as Adeniyi Jones Avenue in Ikeja to be named in his honour.

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