Otapo Bata Drummers Wins Goldberg Cultural Contest
L-R: Josiah Akinola, Assistant Brand Manager, Regional Mainstream Brands, NB Plc;
Funso Ayeni, Senior Brand Manager, Regional Mainstream Brands; Otapo Bata Drummers,
overall winners of the Traditional Drummers Competition and Lucky Oiwoh, Regional Trade
Marketing Manager, Nigerian Breweries Plc, during the prize presentation ceremony
at the Goldberg Excellency Tour in Abeokuta over the weekend.
Goldberg in its line to promote African culture has announced the winners in the just concluded drum  contest.

Otapo Bata Drummers from Abeokuta have emerged winners at the traditional drummers contest at the kick-off event of the Goldberg Excellency Tour in Abeokuta on Saturday, February 18, 2017. The group outperformed four other groups at the grand finale to cart home the coveted prize of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250, 000).

    Ayanwale Drummers clinched the second position and won One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N150, 000) while Omo Aribido Drummers claimed the third spot and settled for the One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) on offer for the slot. The other two finalists, Ayandare Drummers and Paramount Band got Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) each.

    At the commencement of the event on Friday, February 17, 2017, 12 groups auditioned at the cultural centre, venue of the event, with five groups emerging from the pool to reach the grand finale.

    The traditional drummers contest which was organised as part of the Goldberg Excellency Tour kicked off with a procession through the major streets of Abeokuta and attracted a huge turnout of residents who were delighted by performances from drummers, praise singers and dancers. The procession helped to pull a large turnout of residents who trooped to the venue of the contest to support their groups during the different performances.

     Speaking at the finale, the Senior Brand Manager, Regional Mainstream Brands, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Funso Ayeni, stated that Goldberg Excellency Tour is scheduled for five other cities: Ilorin, Ado Ekiti, Ikare Akoko, Ile Ife and Benin City.

    ‘The Excellency Tour will resonate the brand’s essence and strengthen its identification with the cultural values of the people of South West Nigeria,’ Ayeni affirmed. He added that in line with the brand’s ethos, the successful event in Abeokuta also helped to promote local talent, as the competition brought out the best skills from the performers who see the contest as an opportunity to showcase their talents and skills.

    While commenting on their victory, the leader of Otapo Bata Drummers, Mr. Afolabi  Mufutau, said it is a thing of joy to see his group clinch the first prize after putting in putting in many hours of hard work in preparation for the competition.

The Goldberg Excellency Tour is coming on the heels of the unveiling of Goldberg lager beer as “Your Excellency” in 2016 and it is in line with the brand’s unique credentials that position it in a class of its own, away from its peers in the market. 

BREAKING: CBN Announces New Foreign Exchange Policy Regime; See New Exchange Rate
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has released a new foreign exchange policy in the country with immediate effect.

The new policy is sequel to last Thursday’s directive by the National Economic Council, NEC, for immediate review to stem the widening gap between the inter-bank foreign exchange and parallel market rates.

The CBN said in order to ease the difficulties encountered by Nigerians in obtaining funds for foreign exchange transactions, it would henceforth be providing direct additional funding to banks to meet the needs of Nigerians for personal and business travel, medical needs, and school fees, effective immediately.

In this regard, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN has mandated banks to open Forex retail office at all major airports to ease transactions for intending travellers.

The apex bank said in its new policy action on the Foreign Exchange Market today in Abuja further said “In order to further ease the burden of travellers and ensure that transactions are settled at much more competitive exchange rates, the CBN hereby directs all banks to open FX retail outlets at major airports as soon as logistics permit.”

Prophet Emmanuel Chukwudi
Prophet Emmanuel Chukwudi
Prophet Emmanuel Chukwudi of King of Kings Deliverance Church has again prophesied ‘doom’ on President Muhammadu Buhari.

The prophet also made startling revelations concerning the future of governance in the United States.

Recall that Prophet Chukwudi, among his prophecies for 2017, had said President Buhari would die before 2019 ends.

But the fiery prophet reinstated his stand on the prophecy, saying if Buhari did not die in office, then he (Prophet Chukwudi) was not called by God.

He made the fresh revelation during Sunday’s service at his church in Mgbo Court, Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi state.

He said, “Long time ago, I asked all to pray for their master, that he needed urgent prayers to avert the calamity of death at Aso Rock, but they were lazy.

“No one has bothered to reach me, now see what is happening. They don’t want to come for prayers. Things will get worse.

“I said he will be president, today he has become president, I said he will die, see what is happening.

“Nobody wants to come and see the man of God, no one cares. You think it’s like something you can wish away. You cannot wish it away.

“You people around the president, you are sleeping. You won’t do anything to pray for him.

“Let me tell you, until you come before the man of God, and kneel down and pray for the president, you are also heaping curses upon yourself.

“You think the calamity will visit only him? It will visit those who also heard and refused to do anything to save the president.

“While it’s still early, seek the face of God for the sake of Nigeria for the sake of President Buhari, and save the situation.

“But the Lord has even said that you will suffer due to your obstinate mind.

“Unless one arises to save the president, he shall never rule beyond one term.

“He shall certainly die in office, says the Lord, unless I am not God, says the Lord,” the prophet added.

Speaking further, he said former president of the US, Barack Obama, will join forces with certain elements in a fierce battle to oust President Donald Trump ‘If urgent steps are not taken, I see his presidency shaking.’

“They have vowed to make his government uncomfortable. Obama and other enemies of Trump are the ones behind it, and they are planning to remove him”, he claimed.

ahmed makarfi
Nigeria Police has sealed off the International Conference Centre, ICC, Abuja, Venue of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Stakeholders meeting summoned by the sacked National Caretaker Chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.

Makarfi and the governors of the party were to meet at the venue to decide their next line of action following their defeat by Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff at the Court of Appeal.

The faction through the official Twitter handle of the PDP, @officialPDPNig, has, however, disclosed that the meeting will now hold at the Ekiti State Government Lodge, Abuja following the blockage.

The tweets:

Muhammadu Buhari and AishaThe much ado about the secrecy surrounding the true health condition of President Muhammadu Buhari in the United Kingdom day in and out become more worrisome as a Guardian Newspaper journalist narrates his experience in his bid to engage the said 'hale and hearty' President in an interview.

The Guardian Newspaper in a fresh publication, titled "The London Police Called To Arrest The Guardian Reporter Over Buhari" narrates the ordeals of the journalist in the hand of Security personnel guiding the President. He narrated the extreme secrecy hostility mete out on him at the Abuja House in London

below is the Guardian Newspaper's account of the story:

Security staff at the Abuja House in London yesterday called in policemen to arrest a correspondent of The Guardian who was on the premises to see President Muhammadu Buhari and possibly interview him.

When the correspondent told a member of staff at the Abuja House, the official residence of the Nigerian High commissioner to the United Kingdom, yesterday afternoon that he had come to see the president, he replied: “As far as I’m concerned, he’s not here.”

At 2:50 p.m., when a black Mercedes jeep arrived, the occupant sitting by the driver rolled down the glass and asked the The Guardian correspondent, “why are you here?” “When I told him that l was a reporter with The Guardian and l had come to see if the president was there and to interview him, he looked quite irritated and replied angrily: ‘he’s not here, you can’t see anybody here.’ “

In an extraordinary move, two police officers, Constables Marlett and Stock, were called in by the security staff at the Abuja House to arrest the reporter. When both arrived on their motorcycles, they took the reporter’s name and date of birth and subsequently made a check on the national database, before staying around for about 20 minutes and then left.
Prior to that, the security staff threatened the reporter with the police when he called at the Kensington residence to interview President Buhari about his continued stay in the UK.

A few minutes after The Guardian arrived at the Abuja House, just after 1:00 p.m., wanting to speak to the high commissioner, the reporter was directed to go to the Embassy- Nigerian House at Northumberland Avenue. “Somebody should be there,” he was told.

Around 1:20 p.m., when a man and a teenage-looking girl wearing glasses pressed the buzzer, a security officer appeared to open the gate for the duo. When asked:”Is that the daughter of the president?” – judging by her resemblance of the First Lady- the security officer replied: “I don’t know.” He then reiterated that the reporter should go to the office at Northumberland Avenue.

When The Guardian pressed the buzzer about five minutes later, the security man sounded angry and threatened to call the police even when the reporter disclosed his identity and said he had come to speak to the president or any member of staff of the residence. “You should realise this is a private place and I will call the police,” he said. When he was immediately corrected and told that the reporter was standing outside in a public place, he then said:” l won’t speak to you again.”

But around 1:40 p.m., when two guests arrived, the reporter shook hand with one of them and asked, “have you come to see Mr. President?” He replied cheerfully, saying “yes”, but he didn’t enter the compound. He left about 15 minutes later.

Another security officer came out shortly after and told the reporter to move away from the main gate. “Excuse me, you can’t just stand here,” he said.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was also at Abuja House, a strong indication that Buhari may actually be there. At 5:13p.m., Saraki emerged from the house in a black suit, accompanied by a male aide.

“Hello, Senate president, hello Senate president,” The Guardian said to him from outside the gate, before he entered an official car and was driven away. The Guardian's  Newspaper publication ends

Earlier, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun had confirmed he actually visited the President in UK, but said he was not in the best position to reveal the President Health condition. So had his media aides claimed too. 

What is actually wrong with our president is the question on the lips of all Nigerians.

Boko Haram and its Foreign Conspirators, By Bob-Manuel Molokwu
This is not one of the topics I like writing on. However, I am constrained to lend my voice because of the wanton destruction that has taken place in North-eastern Nigeria since 2009. As it stands, the Boko Haram insurgency has claimed over 100,000 lives and succeeded in displacing over two million people from their various homes. On a daily basis, the picture of gloom pervades the North-eastern states of Nigeria. 

In the midst of the confusion, one might want to ask how the Boko Haram group started, who were the leaders, sponsors, and followers. Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’watiwal jihad is the name, which translates to “people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad.” This was way back in 2002 where they operated from Borno and Yobe states. 

But not much was heard about the sect until in 2009 when a discrepancy erupted between them and the law enforcement agents which culminated in the death of its leader, Mohammad Yusuf. Mohammad Yusuf in his teachings had faulted the participation of most leaders of northern states in the affairs of the country. He saw it as an illegitimate, non-Islami and too secular for their “religious inclinations and preached a doctrine of withdrawal, and declared that western education is evil. (Boko Haram). 

And since then, there has been no let back on. The Boko Haram sect grew from strength to strength. And it changed tactics. At some point, it became so sophisticated that it engaged the Nigerian military weapon for weapon. It was even rumored that the Boko Haram sect boost of more advanced weaponry than the Nigerian Military with an unlimited amount of heavy weaponry, vehicles, bombs, and ammunition. 

But how does Boko Haram fund its activities? Where do they acquire such sophisticated military hardware? Who taught them how to operate this military equipment? Who services the equipment? How do they get supplies? These and much more are questions that point to the fact that there are indeed foreign sponsors of the sect against Nigeria for some reasons I will enumerate below. 

As a start, it is evident that there are some foreign conspirators with the Boko Haram sect. And I will start with Nigeria’s French-speaking neighbors Cameroun Niger Republic, Chad Republic, Benin Republic. There are no way supplies would reach Boko Haram fighters without some collaborators from these countries. For example, there are videos posted online that shows Boko Haram fighters maneuvering Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC), freely operating anti-aircraft machine guns, etc. After watching the videos, you might want to ask some pertinent questions. 

The second issue is paying for ransom by the French government in securing the release of its citizens kidnapped. It is estimated that since 2013, Boko Haram was paid N500 million ($3.15 million) to free seven French hostages kidnapped in February 2013. $12 million was also paid to Boko Haram before releasing a French Roman Catholic priest Georges Vandenbeusch captured in November 2013. The Cameroonian authorities also paid Boko Haram insurgents at least $400,000 in ransom to secure the release of Francoise Agnes Mouskouri, wife of Vice Prime Minister Amadou Ali. 
Put together; we are talking about $16 million dollars the Boko Haram sect has received from French authorities in the form of payment for ransom. Is this curious? That is not all; there were also instances where weapons are also delivered to the sect in exchange for hostages. And this has been going on in active collaboration with some elements from neighboring countries. 

In my opinion, the United Nations has to come in by carrying a full-scale investigation into the activities of Boko Haram sect in Nigeria, and especially the involvement of the former French colonies in the whole episode. For some reasons, I suspect foul play in every move of Idriss Deby, the president of Chad in the entire episode. A red flag was raised for me when President Idriss Deby came out to say that the Boko Haram sect now had a new leader sometime in 2015. He specifically said Abubakar Shekau, had been replaced by Mahamat Daoud, and that Mahmat Daoud is open to dialogue. 

From the preceding, it is evident that there are indeed foreign sponsors of the activities of the Boko Haram sect. If I should use the oil deposit in the Lake Chad basis as an example, it might explain the interest of France in ensuring that the Boko Haram crisis continues unabated. For a start, Between 2011 and 2013 the Nigerian government provided $240 million to facilitate oil and gas exploration activities in the Lake Chad Basin and other northern hydrocarbon basins, including the Benue Trough, Bida Basin and the Sokoto-Rima Basin in the north of Nigeria, but terrorism continues to push forward the mission of Nigeria to start drilling for commercial quantities. 

On the other hand, the Boko Haram insurgency has conveniently provided Chad, access to oil under Nigeria’s soils through 3D oil drilling from within its territorial borders. Chad exports to a permanent FPSO –Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel, which can store over 2 million barrels of oil and processed oil shipped through tankers to the international refineries at the Port of Le Havre in France. Does it now make sense why the Boko Haram crisis won’t end anytime soon? 

However, this must stop. The international community, especially the United Nations and the International Criminal Court has to come in because the level of destruction in the Northeast Nigeria is unimaginable. Indeed, our oil has become a curse to us, rather than a blessing. And our neighbors should be good friends if peace must continue to reign in Africa.

Molokwu is a security expert and wrote this piece from Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
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