Taye Paul Olubayo: Ode To The Brand Strategist Steadily Revolutionizing The Face Of Digital Media In Africa

There are two types of people who will tell you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.

  • Ray Goforth

 In a world prevalent with Fake News, half truths and complete lies, it is refreshing encountering, a vibrant, focused and dedicated young man, who, despite all odds, continues to rise above all the noise charting a path for himself.

My first encounter with Taye Paul Olubayo, the self-acclaimed UNILAG EFIWE, must have been sometime between 2014 and 2015. He just got out of a meeting with the Business Development Manager at that time, of Hellofood Nigeria (now Jumia Food).

As they were just finding their feet in the Nigerian space, Hellofood, being the first company to introduce food ordering services on a commercial scale in Nigeria, Taye had gone in to pitch the operation #InvadeYaba to the Hellofood team.

His tactics were simple – as the company’s office was set up in Yaba; Yaba being the tech nerve centre of Lagos and also home to three higher institutions of learning (University of Lagos, Yabatech and FCE Akoka), it was only wise to, in his words, “invade Yaba” letting students and staff of tech companies around the environs know that from the comfort of their offices and hostels, they could have delicious meals delivered to them within 15minutes.

He had rightly postulated getting a grip hold of Yaba, would have a ripple effect on other areas in the state. He further argued that the company focus on starting big and expanding as opposed to trying to take over the entire state in one swoop.

He did eventually get the contract to execute the project. But that’s not even the beauty of the story, as at that time all this was happening, Taye was only just a Youth Corper serving in some remote town in Ibadan!

I have since followed closely, and with keen interest, his activities since then. Loosing his dad in December 1999 and mum in January 2003 didn’t stop him from bagging his Degree in Philosophy from the University of Lagos.

As a lover of trailblazers, who follows with keen interest, their professional life, Taye has worked as an HR Analyst with a firm in Lekki, another e-commerce company in Yaba, Lagos and was a Consultant for a company that helped connect internet users to handymen and artisans anywhere in Nigeria.

He later then pitched his tent with 5ive Music Group and then Chocolate City Music where he handles all digital, strategic and social media communications.

Taye is someone passionate about governance in Africa and has done brand consultancy for Osun, Kwara, Niger, Gombe, Zamfara, Lagos, Ogun and Edo state governments.

Very recently also, he was:

  1. Member, Sanwoolu Independent Campaign Group’s Digital team
  2. Member, Strategic Communications team, Buhari Campaign Organization headed by Barr. Festus Keyanmo
  3. Head, Digital Content, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s Campaign Organization
  4. Head, Content and Strategy, Buhari New Media Centre, Lagos state.
  5. Digital Project Coordinator, Ajibola Basiru Campaign Organization (Osun Central Senatorial District)

On the flipside, and away from the murky waters of political strategizing, Taye has had in hands involved in corporate projects for Mara Mentor, Slot Limited, Autofactor Nigeria and Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Microsoft Nigeria and a few others.

Little wonder in years 2014, 2015 and 2016 when Forbes, Wall Street Journal and New York Times Magazine did a list of Top 100 Global Social Media Personalities to follow on Twitter, yearly, he made the list.

He is also the current Vice President, Digital Media Practitioners of Nigeria which is a further proof of how far he has grown since my encounter with him as Corper.

Going by our last conversation where we spoke extensively about his plans and projects for the future, it is safe to say Africa needs more bright minds like him; those passionate about improving our image and at the same time making their impacts.

Aisosa Okundaye is PR Expert and writes from Lagos Nigeria

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Africa And Western Imitation By Isa Mubarak

The adventures of Europe into Africa were masqueraded under the notion of European’s civilizing mission in Africa. Out of that Africans became colonial victims, slaves, subjects of apartheid, cultural orphans loyal to European products and ideals, and lost control over their resources. Centuries later, the subject has changed, but the agenda has not.
The assault on African agency is justified with the West constantly feeling the need to play parent and Tarzan. Deep down the underlying ideology is the belief that Africa’s destiny is to become more “European .”
The advent of Western civilisation in the form of music, beauty pageants and “indecent” dressing portrayed by fashion, apparently cast a dark shadow over the pride of African beauty.
Different societies have different ideas about beauty. There is no universal definition of beauty. The established western beauty ideal is tall, thin, blonde, bony and straight through the hip while in Africa we perceive beauty as someone with full, rounded, linear and symmetrical figure.
All we seem to have done, or seems to be doing, is to copy and imitate the west, especially the United States and Britain. Like parrots, we imitate without understanding why the west acts and or live their lives in certain ways. Hence our major challenges with homosexuality and feminism.
We bleach our skin, we imitate ideas, belief systems, social scripts, fashion, sexual lifestyle and arts and culture so much so we are steadily becoming a shell of our former selves.
A person’s inability to use the cutlery properly becomes an issue, you will certainly be seen as ‘local’. However, I believe African etiquettes and European etiquettes are different things, so is our moral values, formality, culture. But we cant distinguish between the both, because everyday we are becoming more ‘Europeanized’
Virtually, in all Nigerian movies — the Nollywood movies, for the most part, hear men and women who speak in convoluted voices: accents that are not Nigerian nor American, British, or of any decent society. Whose culture or accent are they trying to imitate?
Recently, Halloween is being celebrated in some parts of Nigeria. Who are we? What does it mean to be a Nigerian or African? No one seems to know anymore as our humanity and our essence and our way of life seems to be eroding at a rapid pace. I am all for change, but change must be meaningful, beneficial, and enriching.
Everything African is bad; but everything western — no matter how horrific — is both good and elegant. I wonder who sets all this standards for us to follow. Because it’s gradually becoming obvious and glaring to see that the more you act like the western worlds, the more intelligent, the more civilized and polished people take you to be. And doing otherwise, makes you local, backwards or not civilized.
This is why regardless of how much culture, ideology, and philosophy African throws back it is all considered “backward.” Africa’s position, which contrast those of Europe, are therefore at odds with logic and humanity—according to Western humanist. Polygamy is backward, FGC (not FGM) is brutal, Islam is oppressive, dowry is degrading to women, Christianity is a colonial remnant, and on and on.
As Africans, we’ve been basically programmed to believe that whatever our beliefs and cultures are, they are uncivilized and therefore should be abandoned. Hence, the need to be ‘civilized’ or ‘modern’ left us to have no standard of beauty, sexuality, morals, table manners, dress sense of our own with no other plausible option than to imitate the western world.
Which begs me to ask this question;
Are Africans only civilized once they have assimilated all of the habits and customs of the West?
In the name of being ‘civilized’, ‘polished’, and ‘modern’, we throw away our beliefs just so we seem cool to people that really could care less about us. When did it become fashionable to imitate frivolity or silliness?
We are defined not by our black skin but by our values. Africans are not people with dark color, we are people we specific cultures. To keep alive the traditions which best represent that which makes us unique and defines our African orientation and sensibility: These things are self-determined.
By: Isa Eneye Mubarak
isamubarak66@yahoo.com
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GTBank MD named CEO of the Year at 2016 Africa Investor Awards

Managing Director/CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank plc; Segun Agbaje has emerged the 2016 Ai Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) 30 CEO of the year at this year’s 9th annual Ai CEO Investment Summit which took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Launched in 2007, the Ai Institutional Investment and Capital Market Awards is the only pan-African Awards designed to recognize Africa’s best performing stock exchanges, listed companies, investment banks, research teams, regulators, socially responsible companies and sovereign wealth and pension fund investors.

The investment and business leadership awards aim to reward exceptional business practices, economic achievements and investments across Africa, whilst recognizing the institutions and individuals improving the continent’s investment climate.

According to Hubert Danso, CEO of Africa investor: We are proud to honour a prolific business leader whose contributions across the continent has raised Africa’s profile as a viable international investment destination. In winning this award, GTBank’s CEO, Segun Agbaje, has displayed astute foresight in positioning the GTBank brand at the forefront of the African banking industry by providing alternative approaches to inclusive banking and economic growth across the continent.

Commenting on the award, Segun Agbaje, Managing Director/CEO of GTBank said “I am humbled and happy to be recognized as the 2016 Ai Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) 30 CEO of the year. This award is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the amazing team of people at GTBank.

He further stated that, “As a Proudly African and Truly International Bank, we will continue to differentiate ourselves by leveraging Africa’s immense opportunities in a way that creates value for all stakeholders.

Under his leadership, Guaranty Trust Bank plc has also received numerous accolades and commendations for exceptional service delivery, innovation, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and management quality. Some of the accolades received by the Bank since his appointment as Chief Executive Officer include Best Bank in Nigeria by Euromoney; African Bank of the Year by African Banker Award;Best Bank in Nigeria by World Finance UK, Most innovative Bank by EMEA Finance; Best Banking Group by World Business Leader Magazine and Best Bank in Nigeria award by the Banker Awards.

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Yemi Alade, Wizkid, Rihanna, Others Nominated for 2016 Watsup TV Africa Music Video Award

By Prince Akpan

Yemi Alade, Wizkid, Cassper Nyovest, Diamond Platnumz have lead the nominations for the newly launched WatsUp TV Africa Music Video Awards which collated Music Video contents from over 20 Africa countries across 21 Categories.

The Awards which is an initiative of WatsUp TV, a leading Entertainment Content producer in the Pan African Bilingual communitylaunched and announced its first set of Nominees for the 2016 WatsUp TV Africa Music Video Awards (WAMVA), an annual award dedicated to the celebration and honouring of the best in African Music Video on Thursday 29th September at Plot7 in Accra, Ghana.

The platform which is set to bridge the gap between the Anglophone and Francophone music video contents show true ingenuity when over 140 videos from 136 artistes where considered for this prestigious award thereby expanding the scope of knowledge on what African musicians and directors have been churning out across the continent.

Yemi Alade who leads with 6 nominations had Wizkid, Cassper Nyovest and Diamond Platnumz following with 5 nominations respectively.

Some of the Most Nominated Videos include: Final (Wizkid), Want You (Yemi Alade), War Ready (Cassper Nyovest), Tsumani (Ahmed Chawki), Baby Chop Kiss (Shatta Wale), Nyedzilo (Edem), Pana (Tekno) etc

Nigeria leads with 39 Nominated artistes followed by Ghana (26), South Africa (12), Cameroon (7), Tanzania (8), Morocco (6) etc.

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Making Africa Rising A Reality in Nigeria, By Muhammadu Buhari

Until a few years ago, Africa Rising was a dominant theme in conversations about the global economy. That enthusiasm has since cooled, so that in newsrooms and think tanks and conference panels, “Africa Rising!” has given way to a more questioning “Africa Rising?”

While some of that pessimism may be justified, we do not have the luxury of distracting ourselves with lamentations about our current circumstances. Instead of hoping for commodity prices to rise, African countries should seize the opportunities that these times present — not least here at today’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum — to lay a foundation for the kind of economic growth that transforms the lives of our people.

One of our biggest challenges during the boom years was that we failed to convert the benefits of high commodity prices into more jobs and significant improvements in standards of living. Hence the great debate, during those years, about how to ensure that the growth became “inclusive.”

Now that we are face to face with the vulnerabilities somehow hidden during the years of plenty, we should turn away from the unhelpful habits of the past and chart a new course. Since I signed the 2016 budget into law in May, Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance has released more than 400 billion naira for infrastructure spending — more than the total amount spent in 2015.

In the face of dwindling oil revenues, we are turning to debt. We have begun raising a $1 billion Eurobond, our first in three years. We are also raising debt from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Chinese Ex-Im Bank and other development finance partners.

Unlike in the past, when borrowed funds were frittered away on unproductive ventures, we will ensure their investment in the revival of stalled road, rail, power and port projects, and in agricultural initiatives that will significantly boost domestic production of food. For far too long we have under-invested in infrastructure — the most critical element for creating sustainable economic growth. The net effect: an avoidably high cost of doing business in Nigeria.

But even more important than what the government is able to spend is the limitless investment potential of the private sector. This is why one of our main priorities is creating an environment in which private-sector capital can thrive. We are in particular using Public-Private Partnership models to support game-changing private-sector projects in power, refining, gas transportation and fertilizer production.

We are also putting in place measures to ensure that monies intended to revamp our infrastructure do not end up in the pockets of corrupt officials and their collaborators. Already we are investigating the theft of several billion dollars in public funds by the previous administration. We are not only bringing these corrupt officials to justice, we are also setting up systems to make it impossible for such a grievous abuse of public trust to happen again. And of course, we are as committed to playing by the rule of law as we are to accounting for every naira and recovering them for our treasury. These were funds meant to build roads and railway lines and hospitals and schools, and to equip our military — which has for the last seven years been fighting one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world.

In that regard, we are already seeing the positive results of our anti-corruption efforts. Long starved of both materiel and morale by the corruption in the military’s upper echelons, our reinvigorated troops have now put Boko Haram permanently on the back foot. Some of the more than 2 million persons displaced by Boko Haram have started returning to their homes. Just last week, the people of Nigeria’s northeast celebrated their first incident-free Eid in years.

Our troops have rescued thousands of men, women and children trapped in areas held by Boko Haram. To meet their urgent humanitarian needs, we are working with the United Nations and other partners to provide food, medical help and shelter. We will strive to ensure that no victim is left behind, including the 219 Chibok girls who have, since their abduction in April 2014, served as a global symbol of the war against Boko Haram and a reminder of the horrors that it has inflicted on innocent Nigerians.

Even though the times are still dire, our economic recovery plan is already showing positive results. Investment’s share in gross domestic product is at its highest since 2010. Inflation is slowing; manufacturing confidence is rising. People are seeing and seizing opportunities to make money catering to the needs of Africa’s most populous country. Finally, our Social Investment Program — the most ambitious in Nigeria’s history — will kick off this month. In its first year it will provide cash transfers to 1 million of our poorest people, hot meals to 5 million primary-school children, cheap loans to more than 1 million artisans and traders, and job opportunities in health care, agriculture and software and hardware development for half a million young people.

The journey ahead remains long and difficult. Our double-digit inflation, currency turmoil and downgraded ratings will not vanish overnight. We also know that the current recession is partly driven by the production outages in Nigeria’s Delta region, and we are confident that growth will accelerate as problems in that region are resolved.

But the real story here is not the challenges, which are all too visible, but the opportunities. We have learned the necessary lessons. We will ensure that Nigeria does not slip back into a lazy and dangerous dependence on the price of crude oil. We will continue to insist on transparency and accountability in the use of government funds. And we will build an economy that prioritizes the ease of doing business and investing, and that thrives on the entrepreneurial energy and ingenuity of our people.

To achieve these objectives, Nigeria needs robust and reliable partnerships such as we have with the United States. This is why I value the Commercial and Investment Policy Dialogue that we have just launched, and which we shall announce at today’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum.

The months ahead will show not only that Nigeria is on the rise, but that this “Rising” is real and lasting — one that touches not just the statistical databases, but the lives of the people who elected us to deliver positive change.

To contact the author of this story:
Muhammadu Buhari at digicomms@statehouse.gov.ng

Credit: Bloomberg

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Elumelu wins Africa Investor ‘Person of the Year’ Award in New York

Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu, Tuesday, while receiving the ‘Person of the Year’ award at the Africa Investor CEO Institutional Investment Summit hosted alongside the UN General Assembly in New York, extolled stakeholders in the public and private sectors committed to improving access to power in Africa.

He first acknowledged the staff and management of Transcorp Power, the biggest producer of thermal energy in Nigeria, providing about 18% of national output.

“In accepting this award, I want to dedicate it to Transcorp Power staff who remain committed to realizing our dream of improving access to electricity in Nigeria and making our vision of a well-lit, fully powered Nigeria come true.”

Transcorp Power has supported U.S. President Obama’s Power Africa initiative with a $2.5billion commitment. He thanked the broader coalition of investors in the African power sector, as he urged other institutional investors to consider long-term opportunities on the continent.

“I also dedicate this to all stakeholders working hard to improve access to power in Africa. I call on others to please join us in this journey to powering Africa out of poverty.”

As the economies of African regional powerhouses like Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Uganda, Nigeria and Angola struggle due to excessive exposure to commodities’ prices caused by limited diversification, Elumelu proffered a sustainable solution to reduce Africa’s historical external vulnerability.

“Africa has been faced with this same challenge, in my view, for far too long. I choose to look at the recent episodes of economic contraction across the continent as opportunities to diversify our economies and invest in building critical infrastructure, especially in power, to reduce our susceptibility to commodity shocks and break out of the perpetual boom-bust cycles.”

He emphasized that to ensure a different type of growth trajectory for Africa – one that does not rely exclusively on the export of primary commodities –  there must be reliable, accessible, affordable power to support industrialization.

“Industrialization must occur on a massive scale for our countries to be powered out of chronic dependency on commodities.

We must power Africa’s next phase of development, by targeting and prioritizing growth of our manufacturing, industries and services. And power is the fulcrum that will make this happen,” he said.

Elumelu revealed that while there is an abundance of private capital available to be deployed to develop the African power sector, government must play its part in attracting these investments. He explained, “While there is huge private capital – local and global – seeking investment destinations, as we know, global private capital goes to where it is most welcome.

Therefore, the challenge before African governments should be how to ensure they create the environment that will attract and retain these investments in our continent.”

To the foreign investors gathered at the forum, he advised, “Though there are challenges in investing in Africa, these challenges can be overcome by investing in Africa through partnerships with qualified local partners who possess the right knowledge, requisite capital and technical know-how.”

Speaking further, Elumelu urged private and public sector stakeholders to work together in what he describes as “Shared Purpose”.

“It is critical for the public and private sectors to work together in “SHARED PURPOSE”, which is a key tenet of Africapitalism – the economic philosophy I espouse which calls for the private sector to play a key role in Africa’s social and economic development by investing in strategic sectors for both economic profit and social prosperity.”

Elumelu, who is also co-chair of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), a community of African energy leaders including Presidents and leading corporates, concluded his remarks by examining the role of power in creating opportunities for Africa’s jobless youth.

“In the 21st century, the level of poverty we have in Africa and the dire youth unemployment, to a large extent, can be solved by improving access to power, and by extension other infrastructure deficiencies and deficits.

“Even though we are making progress, there is still a lot to be done. We need faster progress.”

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McKinsey Research Shows Big Opportunities Ahead In Africa

Although Africa’s growth has slowed, the long term fundamentals are strong, big business opportunities lie ahead and the overall outlook is positive. These facts are contained in the latest McKinseyGlobal Institute Report just released today titled, Lions On The Move II: Realizing The Potentials of Africa’s Economy. 

According to the MGI’S new report, four fundamentals are likely to underpin Africa’s economic growth.  Firstly, Africa has the fastest urbanization rate in the world. Over the next ten years, 187 million more Africans will live in cities—equivalent to half the US population today.Secondly, it has the biggest working-age population in the world of 1.1 billion in 2034—larger than in either China or India. Thirdly, it has the largest reserves in the world of many key natural resources (e.g., 60 percent of the world’s unutilized but potentially available cropland, and the largest global reserves of vanadium, manganese, and many others). Additionally, Africa has the chance to leapfrog old technologies using mobile and digital (e.g., penetration of smartphones expected to hit 50 percent in 2020 vs. 18 percent in 2015).

The new MGI report confirmed that spending by consumers and businesses in Africa today totals $4 Trillion. By 2025, the total could be $5.6 Trillion. Household consumption is expected to grow by 3.3% a year and reach $2.1 Trillion by 2025. The total could be $5.6 Trillion, reflecting an expanding African consuming class. Business spending is expected to grow from $2.6 Trillion in 2015 to $3.5 Trillion by 2025, and Africa has an opportunity to nearly double manufacturing output from $500 Billion today to $930 Billion in 2025. AFRICA’S economies are no longer a story about exporting commodities- but about tapping into vibrant domestic demand. Accelerated industrialization could lead to a steep change  in productivity and and the creation of 6-14 million stable jobs over the next 10 years.

AchaLeke, a McKinsey Senior Partner and Report Co-author, said:“Our new research shows how in coming years Africa will benefit from strong fundamentals including a young and growing population, the world’s fastest urbanization rate, and accelerating technological change. These will help drive rapid growth in consumer markets and business supply chains, and will offer opportunities to build large, profitable industrial and services companies. “Tapping Africa’s consumer markets will require companies to have a detailed understanding of income, demographic, and category trends. Thriving in business markets will require businesses to offer products and develop sales forces able to target the relatively fragmented private sector. But what our research also shows is how much work needs to be done both by companies themselves and by Africa’s governments to translate opportunity into tangible economic benefits.”To make the most of the opportunities, Africa needs more large companies. MGI’S new database of Corporate Africa, shows that the continent has 700 companies with revenues of more than $500 million, of which 400 companies have revenues of more than $1 Billion. AFRICA’S companies are growing faster and are generally more profitable than their global peers. “Africa’s top 100 companies have achieved success by developing strong positions at home, staying the course to build their businesses over decades, integrating what other companies would usually outsource, and investing in building and retaining talent. Further success is possible in six high-potential sectors with high growth, high profitability, and low consolidation. These are: wholesale and retail, food and agro-processing, health care, financial services, light manufacturing, and construction.”

Governments need to play a stronger role in unleashing renewed dynamism. Six priorities emerge from this research.  Firstly, mobilize more domestic resources, taking bold steps to mobilize more of its own funding to finance development. Secondly, aggressively diversify economies, encouraging growth in high-potential sectors in close cooperation with business, based on a clear understanding of their countries’ comparative advantages. Then accelerate infrastructure development and deepen regional integration.

Additionally, create tomorrow’s talent, ensuring that educational and training systems build work-relevant skills, and that students are aware of, and encouraged to enter, these vocations and that the private sector builds on best practice. Finally, ensure “healthy” urbanization, so that cities grow with the infrastructure required to make the biggest positive economic and social impact possible. Delivering on these six priorities will require the vision and determination to drive far-reaching reforms in many areas of public life—and capable public administration with the skill and commitment to implement such reforms.

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Ringier Africa Rolls Out Internship Programme with Africa Leadership University

As part of its mission to be a top African employer and constantly provide opportunities for entrepreneurial leadership talent, Ringier Africa (http://APO.af/EkqVN4) is launching a new internship programme, Ringier Africa Internships, first across its Nigeria & Ghana offices – through an inaugural partnership with the African Leadership University(ALU) (www.ALUEducation.com).

The ALU is a pioneering academic institute set up by educationalist Fred Swaniker in 2013 and forms part of the Africa Leadership Group(http://ALGroup.org), which is building the networks and infrastructure to empower and connect a new generation of African leaders.

Through the program, students from the ALU from across the continent, will be offered much sought-after internship programmes with one of Africa’s largest media and internet groups & investors, having gone through a rigorous selection process. The African Leadership University is a world-class tertiary institution that is developing the next generation of African leaders. As a partner, Ringier Africa is supporting the ALU with positions for three exceptional students to take part in an internship within the company. The first intake of students to be accepted onto the programme will start in November 2016.

Ringier Africa Internships has been structured to nurture talent, and support the very best students with real-life, on the job, practical experience. As one of the continent’s most expansive internet operations, Ringier Africa has delivered market leading e-commerce, online classifieds and digital publishing platforms across numerous markets and has established a pan-African digital agency. The company is now looking to continue to build its talent pool, and engage with and encourage the next generation of leaders.

Leonard Stiegeler, General Manager Ringier Africa: «We have long been admirers of the ALU’s vision of nurturing Africa’s leaders of the future and we are happy to be welcoming their cohorts into the Ringier Africa family as part of our internship program. As a company, we are committed to supporting young, dynamic talent in Africa and we’re excited to working with them across our portfolio companies.»

Fred Swaniker, Founder of ALU adds: «We are delighted to partner with Ringier to provide internships for ALU students. We partner with leading African companies to provide internships for our students as part of ALU’s requirement for students to undertake 4 month internships each year to enable them to master the skills they have learnt in class through the year. Ringier offers ALU students an exceptional opportunity to work at the cutting edge of digital marketing across Africa, allowing them to merge the boundaries between the work place and the classroom. I believe that our partnership with Ringier helps us realise our mission to produce highly skilled, market-ready graduates that are well prepared for the challenge of leadership in Africa in the 21st century.»

The exercises the interns will take on within Ringier Africa and its business models are diverse: At Ringier in Nigeria, the ALU intern will be part of a brand new project that will instigate a new project in Ringier’s digital agency RDM. In the Ghana office, an ALU intern will be immersed in the company’s Ringier Africa Digital Publishing (RADP) flagship news platform, Pulse, where their duties will include working on social interest stories and going out ‘in the field’ with experienced journalists. In both roles, Ringier Africa interns will gain significant exposure to working in a corporate but entrepreneurial environment, a sense of taking responsibility and learn the art of accountability in the workplace. Upon completing their internships they will enter the Alumni network of Ringier Africa with preferred access for future full-time positions.

ALU is founded on the philosophy that a new generation of ethical, committed leaders is the key to Africa’s development and students spend eight months on campus and four months in a structured internship in one of the top companies in Africa and around the world. Ringier Africa joins other leading global companies including McKinsey, Coca-Cola and IBM, by providing placements for ALU interns. The Africa Leadership Group is an ecosystem of institutions which share a common vision: transforming Africa by developing and connecting a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders.

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Slavery: We Are Not Yet Free As Long As Africa Remains The Biggest Beggar Region – Aregbesola

Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the state of Osun has stated that according to a report by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Africa led the global begging troupe with a total aid outflow to Africa in 2013 at $46 billion, only followed by Asia in a distant second with $25 billion.

The governor stated while delivering keynote at the 2016 emancipation celebration of the pan African historical, arts and culture festival (PANAFEST), which held at Cape Coast, Ghana, on Friday July 29, 2016.

The governor who took participants at the event on the historical role the west played in under-developing and subjugating Africa said Africans are not yet totally free as long as she remains the poorest and the biggest beggar region of the world.

On aide being delivered to the continent, Aregbesola stated that ehe figure for Asia topped $25 billon only because Afghanistan alone got a disproportionate amount of $11 billion that year. In Africa, one out of every two persons is poor.

“In a 2015 World Bank estimate of GDP per capita, the average for sub-Saharan Africa is $1,571.3 compared to Middle East and North Africa’s $7,342.3, or EU’s $31,843.2, North America’s monstrous $54,580 and even the world’s average of $9995.6. Even then, this average is this high because a few rich countries like Seychelles has per capita income in excess of $25,000 whereas there are poorer countries whose income is less than $400.”

The Ogbeni further stated that. “We are not free as long as the continent remains the hotbed of proxy wars between superpowers and now the theatre of religious and ethnic conflicts instigated by the elites and their foreign allies. Freedom and true emancipation must consist in the development of the continent’s human and material resources for the benefit of its 1.2 billion people.”

Read Ogbeni’s full speech below:

KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF OSUN, NIGERIA, OGBENI RAUF AREGBESOLA, AT THE 2016 EMANCIPATION CELEBRATION OF THE PAN AFRICAN HISTORICAL, ARTS AND CULTURE FESTIVAL (PANAFEST), HELD AT CAPE COAST, GHANA, ON FRIDAY JULY 29, 2016

 

Protocols,

EMANCIPATION; OUR HERITAGE, OUR STRENGTH: EMPOWERING THE AFRICAN YOUTH THROUGH PAN AFRICAN CULTURE

I am most pleased to be in Ghana, in the midst of our African people, for this year’s Pan African Historical, Arts and Culture Festival (PANAFEST). I will like to thank therefore the PANAFEST Foundation for the kind invitation to be the guest speaker at the Emancipation Day Celebration 2016.

PANAFEST began in this country in the mid-1980s, if my information is correct, as a cultural platform to bring continental and Diaspora Africans together to celebrate our history, reminisce on our past of enslavement and colonisation by especially European powers and work towards African development and unity.

Ghana has been an admirable ally in the African freedom project. She provides sanctuary for opposition figures engaged in freedom fighting all over Africa, especially Nigerians when the heat at home becomes unbearable. When Nigeria gets tough under any dictatorship, Ghana beckons. Ghana is also the country of the iconic Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the father of modern advocacy for African independence, development and unity.

This idea of Pan Africanism in itself predates this era. It began in the late 19th Century as a reaction to the trans-Atlantic slave trade in which people of Africa were hauled off to Europe and the Americas as commodities and converted to beasts of burden in plantations and for the development of their captors’ countries.

Slavery, the capture and exchange for commodity and transportation to Europe variety, that began in the late 16th Century left our continent severely haemorrhaged and asphyxiated, with more than 60 per cent of the population within this period caught in the cruel web of slavery.

Huge populations were removed in daring brutal raids that often left communities and farms burnt. The very act of hiding from slave raiders disrupted and paralysed economic and social activities, reduced the workforce (and consequently productivity), curtailed potential markets and brought the agonies of separation to families. It not only slowed development, it wiped off technological advancement Africans had accumulated for more than 500 years and eliminated the parity the continent had with Europe. Worse still, it put a stigma of slavery on all black people, especially the Diaspora, that will take a miracle to remove.

We cannot even begin to quantify the consequences of slavery when according to one account by Walter Rodney, 50 human beings were exchanged for a horse or when humans were exchanged for a piece of mirror or a bottle of gin. How do we quantify the extreme cruelty of shackling the enslaved people, padlocking their mouths and skinning alive those that tried to escape and then hang their bodies on a post to rot in order to serve as deterrent to others?

Slavery was traumatic for the whole continent in that the captured faced the worst inhuman treatment while the free live under the constant fear and threat of being captured. Ira Berlin summarised it so aptly by writing that ‘the massive deportation traumatized black people, both slave and free’.

Colonialism took over where slavery ends and deepened the African misery. While slavery was the expropriation of humans only, colonialism was mindless expropriation of all resources (human and material), direct rulership and specific policy of underdevelopment by stripping the country of its mineral and agriculture resources for peanuts. Colonialists established political, social, economic, religious and moral superiority over Africans. The result of this is that we could no longer proceed on our own development path and also could not master the Eurocentric order imposed on us. They claimed to be on a civilising mission and used this to disrupt African social order and established a Eurocentric order. They disarticulated the economies of Africa and imposed an economic order in which Africa became the supplier of agricultural and mineral raw materials for European economy.

It might interest us all to note that cocoa was native to Central and South America where it was brought to West Africa in order to feed the chocolate industry in Europe and America. At present, some African countries in East and Central Africa pride themselves in planting rose carnations and exporting them to Europe, at serious neglect of food crops (that should feed our people) and other agriculture products (that should drive our industrialisation).

Slavery and colonialism combine to underdevelop our continent and created a gap of not less than 200 years between us and the rest of the world.

This is what made the legendary Ghanaian leader, Nkrumah, to make the famous admonition to Africa that ‘Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you’. It was the quest to free Africa from the shackles of oppression that drove the pan-Africanist movement and nationalist agitation championed by the likes of Marcus Garvey, Haile Selassie, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Mulumba, Samora Machel, Modibo Keita, Nelson Mandela, Edward Blyden, Amilcar Cabral, Cheikh Anta Diop, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Muammar Gaddafi, Malcolm X, W. E. B. Du Bois and many others, that culminated in the independence of African states from the late 1950s to as recent as the dismantling of the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1989.

It is important to keep this trajectory always before us in order to heed the warning of George Santayana that those who failed to remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

This is because while physical slavery and colonialism have been abolished, we are not yet free in the real sense of it. In the past, they used to forcibly capture our people to be able to take them to Europe, now we willingly queue at their embassies, pass the night taking turns and sometimes get whipped by our brothers working as security guards in those places, as we look for visas to travel abroad where we believe the grass is greener.

Worse still is the depressing account of tens of thousands daring the hostilities of the Sahara Desert in the hope to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. From those lucky to cross the desert come heart rendering tales of men, women and children drowned in failed bids to cross the sea to Europe.

A survey conducted in the late 1980s reveals that there were about 5,000 Nigerian trained medical doctors in the United States. It should be more than that now. The human resources of Africa trained at great cost and meant for the development of the continent are being hijacked by others for their own development in what has been dubbed ‘brain drain’. There should be an international legal framework that awards reasonable compensation to a nation of origin that produces the human resources being engaged by another nation that has no hand in the making of that resource person.

On another hand, the slavery and oppression in the continent is being perpetrated by Africans, either in form of elite conspiracy or hegemony construction by an oligarchic few. Many of you are aware of developments in Nigeria where by conservative account, more than $40 billion oil proceeds could not be accounted for by the last administration and how this disrupted and almost collapsed the state system in the country. There are now very disturbing revelations of how functionaries of that government looted these funds.

We are not yet totally free as long as Africa remains the poorest and the biggest beggar region of the world. In a 2015 World Bank estimate of GDP per capita, the average for sub-Saharan Africa is $1,571.3 compared to Middle East and North Africa’s $7,342.3, or EU’s $31,843.2, North America’s monstrous $54,580 and even the world’s average of $9995.6. Even then, this average is this high because a few rich countries like Seychelles has per capita income in excess of $25,000 whereas there are poorer countries whose income is less than $400.

In another report by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Africa led the global begging troupe with a total aid outflow to Africa in 2013 at $46 billion, only followed by Asia in a distant second with $25 billion. The figure for Asia topped $25 billon only because Afghanistan alone got a disproportionate amount of $11 billion that year. In Africa, one out of every two persons is poor.

We are not free as long as the continent remains the hotbed of proxy wars between superpowers and now the theatre of religious and ethnic conflicts instigated by the elites and their foreign allies.

Freedom and true emancipation must consist in the development of the continent’s human and material resources for the benefit of its 1.2 billion people. There must be a transition from the mode of producer of primary goods to value adding. Adding values creates a value chain that increases the momentum of development. For instance, the value of one kilogramme of cocoa powder that we export is multiplied by 5,000 times by the time we import it as chocolate. If we can make the same quality of chocolate, we could have earned 5,000 times the value we derive from cocoa powder in a value chain that includes revenue generation, wealth creation, job creation and spiralling effect of developing ancillary industries around this product. We can also imagine the value added if we can enrich uranium to weapon’s grade, instead of exporting mere ore.

Emancipation must also include political power and popular sovereignty residing with the people. This means that no one should be in position of political leadership without the express consent of the people through free and fair election of ‘one man one vote’ in which every vote counts. It will also mean that the policies and pursuits of the government must derive from the needs and direct requests of the people. This is the essence of the democratic project in which government emerges not only from popular will, but its policy choices clearly reflect the interest of the people as well.

Ghana is fortunate to have crossed this threshold if we consider that she has gone through two election cycles in which the incumbent party lost elections. Nigeria also crossed this threshold last year when the opposition candidate, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, defeated the then incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, to emerge president. Not many African countries are this fortunate. Many leaders are still reluctant to leave office and democracy is increasingly being cynically turned into a system of power grab and rulership legitimation.

According to Freedom House survey for 2016, Africa has remained on the same level of freedom it was in 2002 and its present rating is an abysmal 12 per cent free.

One of the ways to enhance Africa’s freedom and bring development is to empower the youth through African culture. This is because the youths are the future of the continent. Any society that does not develop its youth is set inexorably on the path of extinction.

Culture has been described as the totality of the way of life of a people. In the words of E.B. Tylor, it is ‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society’. For Damen L, culture is learned and shared human patterns or models for living; day-to-day living patterns. These patterns and models pervade all aspects of human social interaction. Culture is mankind’s primary adaptive mechanism. For our purpose here, culture is the totality of how a people adapt to their environment.

While there are universal challenges of nature like food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transportation and communication, some others and aspects of this universality are specific to regions. For instance, while Africans battle with consequences of heat and humidity, some other regions’ challenge is cold. While entertainment is universal among humans, the forms of entertainment that derive from each region may be different.

The richness of African culture in music, fashion and arts therefore should be explored to empower the youths and bring development to the continent. But it will take decolonisation of the mind. Our educational institutions should be the centres for mental decolonisation and this must begin with teaching in indigenous African languages.

Good music, for instance, is universal and has its own language which attracts all people to it. There used to be African music that appeals to most Africans in the past. These include highlife, produced in Ghana, Nigeria, Congo and other places, which irrespective of the language in which it was produced, was enjoyed across the continent. But we witnessed a dangerous trend in which Africans tried to copy Western music whose product is neither Western nor African and which cemented the hegemony of Western music that glorifies violence, hedonism, sex, rebellion and social disorder; totally devoid of African values, on the continent. There should be a deliberate attempt by the governments of Africa States to promote indigenous African music, using African instruments, among our youths, which reflects our culture and values of fear of God, hard work, mutual respect and excellency of wisdom.

There should also be conscious promotion of African fashion, in a way that will return the dominance of our garment industries. The predominance of Western taste in fashion brought with it the displacement of our garment industry, leading to the closure of 60 per cent of textile industries in the continent and loss of over 250,000 jobs. I have for a long time stopped wearing Western dresses. If 50 per cent of Africans should join me, that will be 600 million people wearing only African garments. It will not only empower the youths who will be absorbed into the fashion industry. The sheer force of its presence worldwide would push its market and acceptance beyond the continent, in what will be an unstoppable cultural export and local empowerment.

There should also be empowerment through arts and craft. The scramble for Africa in the late 19th Century saw to the looting of African arts and treasures, which soon found their ways to Euro-American museums and private collections. Since then, Africa has been on the periphery of the art scene. There should be an African arts renaissance to bring back the minds and hands that crafted the Ori Olokun, Benin bronze and other iconic artefacts from Africa. This will also reimpress on the world the creativity of Africans and find empowerment for our youths.

But there are hindrances to this lofty goal. Africans have been too atomised and increasingly becoming insular and provincial. In the past, there was greater interaction among Africans when there were no boundaries. People travel more then for work and leisure when ironically the technology of transportation was not this developed. While legal restrictions are being lifted with common passport in West Africa for instance, the space is increasingly being closed on foreigners. The opportunities in the continent should be opened so that more Africans can live and work in African countries other than their own. This will bring greater interaction, cross-fertilisation and diffusion of ideas and productive engagements for youths in the continent.

Indeed, for most of Africa, legal restrictions on movement of people should be removed. It is disheartening that only 11 African countries offer liberal access to other Africans. These are Seychelles, Uganda, Togo, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Comoros, Rwanda, Djibouti, Madagascar and Somalia.  Others like Mozambique have between seven per cent restriction to Equatorial Guinea with 100 per cent restriction. This has created a situation where Africans prefer to travel to Europe and the Americas than to other African countries.

Another problem is that Africa is the least economically integrated region in the world. This is best illustrated in the pattern of trade within the continent. According to the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in a 2015 report, only 14 percent of Africa’s total trade is within the continent. This implies that the remaining 86 per cent is with other regions. In contrast, North America’s internal trading is 61 per cent; EU is 62 per cent while Central America is 45 per cent.

The reasons for this, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) are that Africa produces primary products and imports finished products which the continent does not produce. Inter-Africa trade volume is low because buying from each other is like getting the same of the same. Intra-Africa trading is low also because of high tariff and non-tariff restrictions. Besides high tariff, the problem of long delays arising from border check, official corruption and highway banditry greatly discourage trade and business. This has encouraged informal trading in prohibited items through smuggling.

African should also freely exchange their currencies directly. In the absence of a common continental currency, it is sheer madness to first convert the Nigerian naira to the American dollar in order to buy the Ghanaian cedi and vice versa. This practice, apart from the difficulty of finding dollars, technically devalues both currencies.

The governments in Africa should do more to remove these impediments. If Africans don’t buy from Africans, there is no way we can maximise our comparative advantages, even distribute our needs and empower our youths.

In essence, for Africa to be truly emancipated, invincible foreign domination and internal oppression must be removed. The resources of Africa must be effectively used to benefit the people of Africa. The dream of a united and developed Africa pursued by the legends can only be realised when we increase the interaction between the peoples of the continent.

Let me thank once again, the Ghanaian Ministry of Tourism, the PANAFEST Foundation, in Ghana and in Nigeria (this should include the incredible twins, Taiwo and Kehinde Oluwafemi), for facilitating my coming here and giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my thought on our continent. I will also like to thank the Nigerian High Commission in Accra for the warm reception they gave us yesterday. I am eternally indebted to all my Ghanaian friends and associates, particularly Divine Dzegbla, the Nigerian community in Ghana, including Abdulrasak Animasahun, the leadership (C.O. Micheletti) and members of All Progressives Congress (APC), our party, in Ghana, other Africans at home and in the Diaspora here present and all men of goodwill.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

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Special Report: The Impact of ‘Brexit’ On Africa With Focus On South Africa, Nigeria And Kenya

EXX Africa analyses the impact of an eventual ‘Brexit’ on three of the UK’s most important African markets: South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, June 28, 2016/ — Following the UK’s surprise vote to leave the EU, EXX AFRICA assesses the probable impact such a departure would have on African trade, investment, and security policy. In this free special report, EXX Africa analyses the impact of an eventual ‘Brexit’ on three of the UK’s most important African markets: South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

EXX AFRICA is a specialist intelligence company that delivers accurate, decision-ready, and commercially relevant forecasts on African political and economic risk to businesses. We embrace the continent’s fast changing dynamics and serve our wide-ranging client base to mitigate their risk exposure to Africa’s fast-changing political and economic developments.

We pride ourselves on providing timely, reliable, and well-informed intelligence that is sourced from our extensive on-the-ground network and then rigorously applied to our analytical processes. We prepare our clients to enter new markets in Africa, to recognize and engage senior stakeholders, to identify key threats and opportunities, to monitor indicators of risk, to assess their socio-economic impact, and to manage expectations and meet local requirements.

We believe that the value of intelligence is in its factor of surprise, so we endeavor to always tell our clients something new and striking. We are based in Johannesburg and London, with a network of trusted analysts and dedicated sources across the African continent and beyond.

Find the Report here: http://bit.ly/2920AvC?

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Nigeria Leads The Way Promoting Ridesharing In Africa

By Ebi Atawodi, General Manager, West Africa (Uber)

At the start of the last century, just one in seven people worldwide lived in cities. Today it’s half, and by 2050, the UN predicts another 2.5 billion people will be living in urban areas. This has brought huge benefits, with the growth of cities linked directly to economic growth, as well as improved health and education. Nowhere is this more apparent than across Africa, but it has also often come at the cost of creaking infrastructure, especially when it comes to transportation.

In response to this challenge we have seen governments across the world?—?from Mexico City to Sydney?—?embrace ridesharing. We are thrilled that Nigeria is now the first country in Africa to make a significant step forward towards building ridesharing into their transportation policies.

Honourable Obinna Chidoka, a member of the Federal House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Habitat, recently started an important conversation for Nigeria’s future in the Federal House of Representatives, looking ahead to how technology can enable safe and reliable rides and limit the negative effects of traffic congestion, a subject Chidoka is very passionate about. This culminated in a unanimous vote by the Nigerian House in favour of a resolution supporting ridesharing.

Chidoka says “This resolution is a pivotal step for Nigeria and the critical role technology will play in helping us achieve the ambitions set out in the 2015 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. This ridesharing resolution is an important development in reducing the number of cars on our roads, creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable businesses for our country.”

This matters, because Nigeria is at the very vanguard of urbanisation, expected to add over 200 million people to its cities in the next 40 years, more than tripling the size of its current urban population. Only China and India will add more.

This fast pace of change presents a serious challenge for the country’s transport system. As the African Development Bank notes, the average commuter in Lagos now spends over three hours in traffic every day.

Thankfully technology can help bring the answer. With just the smartphone in your pocket, ridesharing apps like Uber can now connect riders and drivers at the push of a button. This brings benefits for riders, drivers and cities. Riders find it easier, safer and more affordable to get around; drivers have access to new, flexible economic opportunities; and cities see their transit networks extended, emissions cut as we start to take cars off the road, and reductions in alcohol-related accidents.

This resolution is a great first step towards legislation that will allow the benefits of ridesharing to be felt across Nigeria, and ultimately we hope it encourages transport innovation for cities across Africa.

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Ovation International: 20 Years of Celebrating Africa By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Africans, please, join me in thanking God for this baby of circumstance that was born through some excruciating pain 20 years ago in the city of London. The genesis of Ovation International could only have been by divine conception. I won’t know any other way to describe it. The original idea was first ignited after my controversial exit from my high flying job as the Editor of Nigeria’s foremost celebrity journal, Classique magazine, owned by May Ellen Ezekiel Mofe-Damijo, now of blessed memory. That is a story for another day.

My first impulse was to birth my own magazine, like most journalists would. There is nothing more addictive than journalism, the reason most journalists find it inconceivable to try other trades. So, I decided it was time to challenge fate and come up with a journal that would mirror the lifestyle of the rich and famous. There were already several such publications in circulation, including Prime People, Vintage People, Fame, Today’s Choice, Climax, Quality, Classique, Poise, and so on. There was also a very popular romance magazine called Hints which was owned by Dr Ibe Kachikwu and Edited by Mr Kayode Ajala. But I felt, there was enough space for an authoritative magazine for newsmakers.

Fame had started from my apartment in Ikeja, Lagos, as the brainchild of Mayor Akinpelu, Femi Akintunde-Johnson and Kunle Bakare. Kunle Bakare was the Society Editor of Classique when I was Editor and he had moved in to stay with me. We were inseparable and it was only natural that I would be concerned about a business he and others were starting. I eventually became a Contributing Editor in Fame after I left Classique while working quietly on my own project.

Kunle Bakare had played a pivotal role in finding a title for my magazine by bringing out a Thesaurus and we searched at random for any catchy word depicting celebrity status. We came across so many but we stumbled on ovation and my reaction was spontaneous; I screamed “Ovation… loud… for a purpose…” I was excited if not delirious. That was it…

The next action was how to get the much needed funding… That is another story for a different day. I remembered my unlettered mum teaching me early in life that “money says we should never make plans in its absence”. It is the first lesson to learn in business. You can write the most brilliant plans and proposals but it would all evaporate without cash. The second lesson I learnt was the importance of pragmatism in business. You can hardly argue with a benefactor who’s willing to invest in your dream. I was too idealistic and rigid and lost out on what would have been a good and comfortable deal. My core investor had wanted me to alter a few things but I was stubborn and we could not conclude the deal. Ironically, years later, the same benefactor would become the biggest supporter of all times, and he is no other than Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr.

That was in 1992 and I had been out of job since September 1991. Mercifully, I was able to start a Public Relations outfit through the help of my friend, Mr Abdul-Lateef Kolawole Abiola, who signed me to handle the media launch of Summit Oil International. I got my next assignment from the Spirit of Africa, Dr Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Isola Adenuga, who was already controlling two banks, ETB and DEVCOM, and the first indigenous company, Consolidated Oil, to discover oil in commercial quantity. My next job was the invitation from Prince Nduka Obaigbena, the prodigiously gifted and extremely brave Publisher of the defunct Thisweek magazine, who invited me to be the pioneer Editor of Leaders & Company which metamorphosed into Thisday newspapers. I was saddled with the responsibilty of recruiting many of the core staff that started Thisday from scratch. This was in December 1992.

Everything was going smoothly until early 1993. I was in Nduka’s house one evening when word reached us that Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola had dived into the Presidential race and he was ready to run on the platform of the Social Democratic Party. As my mentor and adopted father, I plunged myself into his campaign. Nduka was tolerant of my decision despite being a member of the opposing political party, National Republican Congress Party. Chief Abiola went on a blistering campaign and eventually emerged the candidate for his party while Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa became the candidate of NRC. It was funny as Nduka and I working from the same office on Norman Williams Road in Ikoyi campaigned for different candidates.

The June 12 Presidential election was the turning point in our lives. I thought I was only on sabbatical and hoped to return to my desk after the elections but it was not meant to be. I was so involved in the Abiola saga that I soon became one of the earliest victims of the ensuing military repression and I was thrown into the gulag called Alagbon Detention centre between July and August 1993. That is a special story on its own. I was soon released after being charged before a Magistrate court in Igbosere and discharged to sin no more. But nothing could stop me from joining so many well-meaning Nigerians seeking the revalidation of the watershed election won by Abiola.

In 1994, Chief Abiola himself was arrested and kept in solitary confinement. By this time I had totally lost interest in my work at Leaders & Company and Nduka understood and appreciated my unflinching loyalty to Abiola. I was ready to throw everything into the ring. Life was hard and tough but God would always look after his own. In the midst of these conundrums, I was still able to find some odd jobs here and there.

I was fortunate to also meet the whiz kid, Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie, through his affable cousin, Mr Ademola Adekogbe (may his soul continue to rest in peace) and Keem gave me the complicated task of sorting out the spate of media attacks against him after acquiring majority shares in Africa’s global bank, UBA. I gladly undertook this great challenge and God helped me to accomplish what was thought to be an impossible mission. Unknown to me, I was being prepared on an epic journey. I had totally perished the idea of ever publishing my own magazine. But man proposes and God disposes.

Little did I envisage a development that would change my life, and that of my family, forever. I had travelled to Abeokuta to visit former Governor Olusegun Osoba, my professional godfather. I had always prayed to be as successful as Osoba in journalism. And we shared a similar passion in politics. I was in Abeokuta overnight as we discussed late into the night. I left Abeokuta in the early hours of July 22, 1995 and headed back to Lagos. On getting to Lagos I ran into my wife on the way home and she gave me the most shocking news that some good Samaritans had come to alert and tip her off about my impending arrest by the Abacha junta. She was sternly advised to tell me to vanish into thin air immediately. The obvious look of panic and agitation on her face said it all. I turned back from that point and never entered that house again.

It was a strange journey. I never planned to live outside my beloved country. I had to go quickly into a bunker. My wonderful friends, the Orolugbagbes, took me in and kept me away from trouble. I had to plot my exit. I contacted my comrade in the struggle, Mr Tokunbo Afikuyomi, one of the smartest human beings I would ever meet. He had earlier escaped the wrath of the military by running off to London. He gave me a list of all that would be needed to make the Odysseus journey. Again, money was needed. I was fortunate to have my God-sent Spirit who took the risk of sending some money to get me out of Siberia to freedom. My friends in London, led by Prince Adedamola Aderemi and Mr Gbenga Olunloyo were also busy raising funds in readiness for my kamikaze trip. On July 25, 1995, I took the leap of faith.
My first son, Oluwapekansayemi, was barely ten months old. As I bade my wife and this innocent kid goodbye, I had to keep that straight poker face of a supposedly strong man but within me I was totally squeamish. I didn’t know if I would be caught on the way by the goons that littered everywhere at the time. I was accompanied by three extremely kind-hearted people; Captain Rotimi Seriki (God bless his departed soul), Mr Bola Orolugbagbe and Mr Kunle Bakare. I camouflaged like a farmer while they provided not only the cover for me but also sufficient distraction from me to the security guys. We managed to meander through a smugglers’ route at Seme border and crossed into Benin Republic. And then, I wept bitterly. My mind was doing some acrobatics. I didn’t know what could suddenly happen to me and spin my life around again, like a rollercoaster.

We made our way to Cotonou but I was just too scared to stay long in the very next country to Nigeria and a stone throw from Lagos. My friends left me in Cotonou and went back to Lagos while I carried on to Lome in Togo. I never felt that lonely in my life. From Lome, I found my way to Accra, Ghana and checked in at the Noga Hill hotel in Dzorwulu. It was my first contact ever with Ghana and I was very impressed with the orderliness and sanity. I will return to that some other time.

I spent three nights in Ghana planning my major move to London. I was able to purchase my flight ticket. I had traced an old Ghanaian friend, Mr Fritz Baffour who had spent time in Nigeria and was very famous. A taxi driver had led me to a joint where he said I would definitely find him and it was a happy-bitter reunion for both of us because of my predicament. Fritz accompanied me to the airport on July 28, 1995, and it was very kind of him to bid me farewell. I landed at Gatwick Airport in the early hours of July 29, 1995. Unknown to me at that moment, I would be constrained to live in London for the next three years. My wife and baby subsequently managed to escape from Nigeria through the skin of their teeth. The next challenge would be how to survive in the unpredictability of England.

The early months were good as friends and family rallied round us. We were lucky to have senior refugees ahead of us. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Lt. General Alani Ipoola Akinrinade and Hon. Tokunbo Afikuyomi were very helpful. We enjoyed the cordiality of Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Chief John Oyegun, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief John Oyegun, Hon. Wale Oshun, Rev. Peter Obadan, and many others. But soon it was time to face the harsh reality of living in London. We needed to find something more permanent to do.

The divine intervention would come from my much younger cousin, Mr Segun Fatoye. We had gone to his house one Sunday afternoon and spent quality time with his family. I would never know what got into him but Segun called me to a corner and asked me a question I had not been able to confront candidly: “Sir, have you decided on what you would do for a living in London…? I answered “no” and he fired another salvo. “Bros, you have to do something urgently or end up washing plates and such menial jobs.” He was that brutal. Then, he provided the solution himself: “But you were such a great journalist back home, why don’t you start something here…”

That was it but where is the money to start anything? I was practically penniless. I approached a friend, Mr Doyin Iyiola, who was a senior staff at the London office of African Concord and the African Economic Digest, owned by Chief Moshood Abiola. He agreed to work on the business plan. He also told me he had registered a company called Stallion Communications and he was ready to bring me on board. My cousin called his dad, my uncle Chief Ezekiel Olasunmoye Fatoye, and surprisingly, he blessed us with the first £10,000. Our business plan showed we needed about £150,000 to start small but that was way beyond our reach. We had a few friends chip in their bits and pieces but we ran into our first major turbulence when Mr Doyin Iyiola decided to pull out on the eve of our take off. We were badly shaken by the experience. I couldn’t blame him; he was not a risk-taker like me. He found my ideas too fanciful and flamboyant. The only option left to us was to start our own company from scratch.
Between Prince Adedamola Aderemi, Segun Fatoye and I, we regrouped and went ahead with the plans to set up Ovation International. 20 years after, there is plenty to tell about the daredevil adventures that gave rise to what is unarguably one of Africa’s biggest brands…

(To be continued)

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