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Thursday, 31 March 2016

We live and breathe tourism in my family - Abuja-based hotelier Ini Akpabio

Abuja-based urbane hotelier, Ini Akpabio, was groomed from an early age to manage a family business. From choice schools in Nigeria to Europe, he returned home to take over the family business which today has interest in different sectors of the economy. But Akpabio is more known in the hospitality and tourism industry with his Nanet group of hotels. A stalwart of tourism bodies in the country, Akpabio advocates for an improved hospitality and tourism industry in the country. But just as he works hard, Akpabio also enjoys the good life along with his wife. Said he: “We do not just work and talk tourism, we also practise what we preach.” In this interview with PAUL UKPABIO, he shares his  lifestyle with us.

You seem to have grown up as a silver spoon kid?
I was brought up by parents who in those days could be termed middle class; all those who came up from that background in those years could be refered to as silver spoon. We were exposed to the best schools right from kindergarten and ended in schools abroad. Right from when I was very young, we started going for holidays outside Nigeria. And we were always living in the best part of town wherever we found ourselves.
Ini Akpabio

What fond memories do you have of childhood?
My set started the Federal Government College in Kaduna. So I have friends from all over Nigeria. One of my best friends is from Adamawa, a Muslim. We lived around the country, from Kaduna to Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Lagos and so on.
How did you meet your wife?
That is interesting, I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight because we sighted ourselves early in life. We even had pictures taken when we were in our teenage years. Our parents knew each other while they were in Kaduna. They had also been friends when my late father was working in England in the same hospital and in the same department.
Ini Akpabio
 I had known my wife for a long time. All through the time I was a small boy and my wife was a small girl, it did not cross my mind that she would be my wife. What happened was, after I finished my first degree in Nigeria, I went to England for the second degree. I ended up living there for quite a while,. and got to the age of marrying. I was about marrying a lady over there, who holds a British passport, my mother came over to London but the lady in question had never been to Nigeria and insisted that she was not going to come over to Nigeria with me. And I wasn’t ready to stay in England married to her and then choose to return after 30 years or so. It wasn’t going to work out.

So what did you do next?
I came back. However, because my mother had seen that I was nearly married and that marriage was what young men tried to dodge for as long as possible then, there was pressure on me. I am from Akwa Ibom State but at that time, I had three women that I would have got married to. First was my present wife who is a Yoruba; then an Ibo and an Hausa girl. And because I had not been living in my part of the country, I had hardly had  a girlfriend from Akwa Ibom.
Ini Akpabio (middle) with wife (right) and daughter in their gear for their top fun sport,-power biking 
My uncles put pressure on me to return to the village so they could look for a wife for me. But I did not heed the call. So for someone who was nearly married to a Briton, I didn’t see myself going to the village for a wife! My mother and two sisters began a plan to get me a wife. Sooner, they opened my eyes to my present wife. I then started seeing her in a different light, no more as a family friend, no more as a small girl, but as a young lady, and from there, we became attached and eventually got married. So it wasn’t love at first sight because at the time we met as children, we didn’t know what love meant.
Years after, how has your married life been?
It’s been fun; we are very compatible. We understand each other; she has been able to speak 80% of my native tongue Ibibio. She participates in things I do, like power biking, motor racing. I am very involved in all that, and she has been an asset to the business, just like my mom said she would be.
How about your style, are you a flamboyant person?
I am rather sophisticated. I have lived in different parts of the world, Spain, Germany, England and in Nigeria, I have lived in Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos. So, I enjoy simple dressing, but well co-ordinated; 90% of my shoes are of one colour, that is black, so that means I am not very flamboyant. About 70% of my clothes are also of dark colours, blue, navy blue, dark brown, black and so on. I am not one to combine yellow and green attires, or wear white shoes. I see some of my friends wear white socks and green and yellow socks (laughs); that is their style, I bear them no grudge. Also because of my type of business, we are usually in suit and tie or formal traditional clothing.
What appeals to you?
I love people who are not hypocritical. We do too much hypocrisy in Nigeria; our leaders sit in church, yet do the opposite of the preachings to their fellow human beings. We have leaders who are sycophants. Having lived long in Europe, I tend to favour the transparent lifestyle. For Nigeria, I like to see a country that lives up to expectation. A country can never evolve unless her best brains are brought up to run the affairs of the country. I pray that this administration does that.
What men’s accessories do you love most?
I love wrist watches; I do not wear neck chains. I wear glasses as a necessity, but they have come up to become fashion statements, sometimes I match them with what I’m wearing.

You have been in the food industry for a long time, one would expect that you would be big in size, how have you been able to keep being trim?
I had to be careful. I wouldn’t say that because I run hotels then I have to be a glutton and become big in size. It’s true that when one becomes wealthy, there is tendency to over-indulge in food and drinks, it is a problem for men and even women. I am active. I go to the gym, I take care of my health. I have a mother who is keen on healthy living, so I learn from her. I travel with my gym bag and I power bike a lot.
Seems you enjoy working with your wife and also playing with her…?
(Laughs) My wife and I have actually won trophies in car racing. She is my co-driver. In Abuja, we have done motor-rallies togther and we emerged first. We also play the games of Badmington, Lawn Tennis and so on. We also travel a lot within and outside Nigeria. We do not just work and talk tourism, we also practise what we preach.
You are known to be in the hospitality business…
I am the Group-Managing Director of a company now known as International Nanet Group. Under this, we have subsidiaries which include Nanet Hotels Limited, Nanet Investment and Properties Limited, Nanet Farms and others. International Nanet Group is the holding company. We have seven subsidiaries.
But you started out in the hospitality sector…
Yes, our core strength still revolves around tourism: hotels, restaurants and fast foods, everything that makes up the hospitality and tourism sector. And now we are doing a lot of consultancy for state governments. We consult with them and work with them in repositioning in terms of tourism and ensuring creation of employment and improving their IGR through proper placement of tourism, entertainment, and other leisure issues in their state.
Is your wife involved in running the business too?
She is involved. Interestingly, my mother started the business. My father was a civil servant, a medical person. Though five years down the line, he resigned and teamed up with my mother, to drive the business process. We grew up in a house that was business all the time. My parents were very much involved. Later on, I was co-opted into it. But when I came back from England where I went to do Masters in Hospitality and Tourism after my first degree in Business Administration, one of the things that I told my parents was that I did not want to continue that kind of family business. That was because I wasn’t very keen on working with my brothers and sisters who were already in other disciplines which were different from hospitality and tourism.
I believe that the mere fact that you are the son or daughter of someone that owns a particular business, does not mean you must stay in it if you are not trained in that line of business. My siblings were architects, sociologists and accountants. So I laid down the rule that if they wanted me to run the business, since I am qualified, I will not run it without my siblings. I also requested that when I marry, I did not what my wife to be part of the business. I didn’t want to be discussing business at home, in the office and every  place. That would be too tedious.
But I give thanks to my mother who was able to convince me that my wife is very hard working, that she will be an asset to the business. I was brought up to respect my parents and their views and the fact that there was merit in what she said, I finally accepted that my wife should work with me. Right now, she is the only immediate real family member that is working with me. However, just less than a year ago, my first daughter finished her NYSC programme after she got a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She decided to join us. So it is now back to family business. We live and breathe tourism in my family.
What is the strength of Nanet like now?
We are approaching 15 states now for consultancy, we are in 14 states in actually running hotels physically. Some of the hotels belong to the state governments, federal agencies, while some belong to private individuals. In the past, we had been in 20 states of the federation; we have done businesses in Taraba, Bauchi to Yenegoa, Abia, Cross River and so many other places.
What has the response from the state governments been?
The response has been good. Sometime last year, it was ruled at the court that aside the FCT, every state can enact laws for their state, guiding the processes of culture and tourism in their states, and this has opened up a lot of opportunities in the sense that it is not likely that all the states will have similar things when it comes to tourism. Some states may have different classes of classifications, while others may have different kinds of levies. I think that it is a reflection of the fact that we are a federation. So states should have a high level of autonomy as observed in USA which we are copying. We hope maybe in future, this will flow into other activities of the states. Also the very popular one is the state police which people have been calling for, to what extent should states have power over security in their jurisdiction.
You just mentioned states having divergent tourism plans, can you take one state for instance that you are interacting with and the kind of tourism plan that should be there?
We are interacting with Plateau State; we have made advances to some other states like Kano, Nasarawa and some states in the southern part of Nigeria. When we had meetings with some of these states, we found out that International Nanet Group will be able to create a tourism road map for the state to use as guideline and that will create a synergy approach to tourism. A roadmap that has been overtime too, could become obsolete. In such case, there could be a need to do a re-look at them, bring them up, before we ask the state government to implement.
Another thing we also look at is bringing up the components that we feel form the tourism framework. Some of the components can be derivatives of the roadmaps. We  also earmark some significant areas; for instance, we work on classifications of tourism components. We also look into levies, how to harmonise and streamline against double taxation. We sensitise the private sector and encourage private-public sector relationship.
Most of the tourism players belong to associations. So the associations have to be carried along. They have to be engaged and carried along on all new creations and policies. We guide states to do this to bring less friction, more co-operation and harmony between the states and the industry players.

Why did it take the states long to realise that tourism is important for their states?
It’s unfortunate that tourism is still backward at the local, state and federal levels. There is this small country noted for crude oil whose Prime Minister was in Nigeria recently for a conference. When asked, the Prime Minister said his country will be known for two things, which is agriculture and tourism. So a country can take it upon herself to robustly identify with tourism despite being one of the top producers of crude oil. It shows the importance of tourism, their understanding of the limitations of making oil the only major source of their income. Same goes to the United Arab Emirates which is one of the major players in the global oil industry, but also fully involved in tourism as a priority sector.
So our states have to realise the importance of tourism. Governors do not seem to understand the place of tourism. One of the few governors that ever understood the place of tourism is ex-Governor Donald Duke of Cross River State, who ruled the state based on an idea of tourism. So it is time to tell the states, even the Federal Government that tourism has a major role to play. Once it is in place, other things will follow. Once you have tourism as your priority, it means that you will repair your roads, you must have good houses, good electricity system; it means you must have water, security and create jobs for people. Tourism is what binds everything together. That is because there is no tourism if you do not have anything to sell.
A place like UAE that has made its country a trading point, tourists come to buy, so it makes sense for the government to industrialise the nation. That is why we say that tourism is a win-win situation. It breeds a proper natural synergy.
Why it has taken the states long is also that for instance, Lagos State had to take NTDC to court, that Lagos should have powers at the state level to look at its own issues on tourism and hospitality. It went on in court and later on, it was accepted that every state should be independent. That created opportunities for every state government, Commissioners of Culture and Tourism and the states themselves, to harness into the tourism bandwagon and gain all the benefits of tourism. 
What is the hotel and tourism situation in the North? Is tourism coming back to life there?
Tourism has been severely affected by Boko Haram insurgency in the northern part of the country and that includes Abuja. It has been a very disastrous period for our industry. But let me divert because even before the Boko Haram came into play, we have had lots of skirmishes in the northern part of the country which bordered on religious issues. Kaduna, for instance, has been boiling for a long time; Bauchi, Kano, even Plateau as well, under different religious and ethnic issues. So the North had started experiencing a lot of turmoil. It also became apparent that during the time of politicking, there was a new dimension in political tension leading to political riots. All these were affecting the economies of these states. Then came the blossoming which emerged in Boko Haram, which did not just become a Nigerian problem, but also an internationally engineered terrorism.
The President had to start by visiting the neighbouring countries because it is now more than what Nigeria can stomach. That was the climax of it. Up till today, the drop in tourism number and hospitality earnings fluctuated in the North and in some states like the three most ravaged states of Northern Nigeria, Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, reducing to 25%. People are surviving on that. There has been a significant negative impact from political, tribal and Boko Haram insurgency, especially on tourism. Some other sectors of the economy may not be feeling it that badly. You know, even in time of war, you still have to eat; so manufacturers of food items still manage to survive. People will still speak to each other; so the GSM technology would still be working and so on. But for us, nobody in his right mind will go for holiday purposes and meetings in cities where there are problems like insecurity and so on. So we have had a bad situation.
The new government has, however, assured us that things will soon turn out differently. Even when Boko Haram is crushed, it will still take us a few years to reposition those cities in the minds of people for tourism. Today, I had to convince some young persons who want to change their NYSC postings from Yobe and Borno to stay put there. They said they do not want to stay there. I had to tell them that I did my NYSC in Sokoto. I told them to be hopeful, that once the Federal Government crushes Boko Haram, these places will be in urgent need of services, and they would be the lucky ones, instead of looking for crowded places like Abuja, Lagos or Port Harcourt.
On the federal level, what can you say about tourism at this point in time?
The way I see it, there will always be problem in our tourism sector; there is no way that a wrong can turn out to be right. We have been shouting at the rooftop that the NTDC is the engine room of tourism in Nigeria, and the first thing to do to that engine room is to put the right person there to drive the process. Once you do not have a professionally qualified, professionally experienced person manning the NTDC, it will manifest into confusion, and that will degenerate into creation of other offices, wrong policies, disorganisation, inability to understand what needs to be done and a total waste of time to an agency that is directionless.
This has impacted negatively in the country in such a way that tourism in Nigeria now is directionless. That has been the bane of tourism in Nigeria. This has been replicated not only in NTDC but virtually in all the agencies of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism. It even starts with the minister’s background, can’t the position be reserved for people in the field of tourism like it is done with other professions, like we have in the Ministry of Health? When will Nigeria start to recognise the tourism sector as a specialised sector? So until those things are addressed, we shall continue to experience the hiccups in tourism as we are presently having it.
Still about getting it right, we have a new government in the country, as a staunch member of most of the tourism associations in the country, what can you say is the expectation of the industry from the new government?
I would even add the question that, what have we done, because, for the government to do what we ask for, we actually need to table some things before the government. The Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) the umbrella body for all the tourism associations in Nigeria, took many pages in the national newspaper, welcoming the new administration and clearly outlining that will be very good in our sector. And the change we want is to have professionals in the various offices of the ministry at federal, state and local level.
The era of medical doctors becoming ministers and commissioners in the ministry of culture and tourism should be a thing of the past, core professionals should reflect as Director Generals of agencies of the ministry, people who have the requisite knowledge of culture and tourism is about. We also appealed for a tourism bank, intervention funding, like the bank of industry which concentrates 99% on industrialisation.
There is also the Bank of Agriculture, so we should have a Bank for Tourism. Then we also mention some laws that should be enacted at all levels of government that would make tourism easy in the country. These were things that were well articulated to the new government.
Has your tourism body engaged the government on these issues?
There has been a waiting game for the new ministers, as you well know, it is not easy for everybody to reach the Vice President and the President  because of their hectic schedule but we are still trying so that we can take these issues to their door step.
You have also veered into farming…
Yes, Nanet has been doing farming for quite some time; we have done this vertical diversification. When you are in the hospitality sector, you are prune to wonder about producing your own chicken or growing your own cassava since they are the raw materials you need. So we had been involved in large-scale agricultural farming in Kaduna, Abuja and some other states in the North in the past. We have revived them again to produce crops and poultry farms to produce thousands of birds. In the past, we had thousands of cattle and sheep and goats. Overtime, we became less focused on that. But because of the thrust of the present government on food sufficiency, and agriculture as a priority sector, Nanet is planning a comeback but we will start with agro-processing.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Nigeria Media Nite Award 10th Anniversary hots up, as Paul Ukpabio's Blog becomes events official blog

Nigeria Media Nite Out Award, an all time podium for the reward of journalistic excellence among practitioners of the pen profession, will be coming up this year September with a big difference. That is because, according to Sola Olugbemiro the Initiator of the award, this year will be the tenth year, that the award will be held. "As such, we intend to really roll out the red carpet and also beat the drums, to create fun, entertainment and still reward excellence," said Sola exclusively to Paul Ukpabio's Blog.

Sola Olugbemiro
"Over the years, Nigeria Media Nite Award has been competitively won by reporters, editors and publishers of

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

I’ve seen much of the world working on water -NIWA MD Danladi Ibrahim

Some months ago, Barrister Danladi Ibrahim mounted the saddle as the Acting Managing Director of Lokoja-based National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). But rather than throw a lavish party like such appointees do, he immediately went to work, knowing that he is confronted with the enormous task of transforming the waterways and make them not just economically vibrant but also ease the problem of transportation and movement of goods across the country. He told PAUL UKPABIO that he is an old war horse who has got what it takes to overcome the challenge, having worked in the water for 17 years. The lawyer and former banker also shares his lifestyle. 

You have been in the maritime industry for quite a while. What has been the attraction?

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Of Lagos foot bridges and cleanliness

Definitely, the Lagos state government has over the years been sympathetic and empathetic to the plight of the general public in the city, by providing assistance here and there, to ease the living condition of escalating millions of people, living in the fast growing city, located in the West African coast. 

One of such provisions made by the Lagos State government to ease people's lives, is the

Monday, 21 March 2016

Gone so soon: Nigerian Singer Nomoreloss dies

Real details on how and why he died this morning is still shrouded in mystery, but confirmed news source is adamant that well loved Nigerian singer Nomoreloss is dead!

According to a source close to the singer, Olumuyiwa Osinuga popularly known as Nomoreloss, died this morning after a two week illness that saw him being hospitalised.

All poor communities need, are the basics you enjoy: A tale of two strange bedfellows in Lagos Island

By Paul Ukpabio, community pix by Biodun Adeyewa and internet pix of Banana Island  

The pictures indeed show a large contrast between these two communities in Lagos Island. While both are on the edge of the waters, the residents live separate lifestyles. Banana Island is for the exclusive rich. While the other is for the exclusively poor?
Banana Island at night
 The saying goes
that, ‘no condition is permanent’ but for the poor residents of some of the riverine communities in Eti-Osa local government area of Lagos State such as Otodogbame, these harsh conditions have come to stay!
Aerial view of Otodogbame community
 There is always one bad news after another for residents of these unfortunate communities, and for years, they have grown to accept such as their lot. Only in February, a strange disease set in and ravaged the people.

Palm Sunday celebrated as Pope Francis calls for unity

Christians all over the world trooped out yesterday, to celebrate Palm Sunday. Dramatic as it was in some places, the day featured the re-creation of the historic donkey ride by Jesus Christ into Jerusalem by some churches in Lagos.

Palm branches were freely on display in many churches around Lagos. And it was not out of place to see processions of worshippers as one drove around the city.

However, while

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The secrets of my success -Chief Mrs Zhikrah A. 'Folake Akanbi

Ex-banker cum businesswoman Chief Mrs. Zhikrah Aduke Afolake Akanbi is the CEO of Libragold Group. A company with diverse business activities in the travels, tourism and aviation industry, vis; Libragold Travels & Tours Ltd, Libragold International Relations Consulting, Al-Furqaan Hajj & Umrah services and LTG Image Makers. A group of companies she has successfully stared from inception 19 years ago.

A versatile business woman of impeccable character, she is an active member of Women In Management, Business and Public Office (WIMBIZ), a member Nigeria British Chamber of Commerce, Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce and member of the Tourism and Hospitality committee of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). This, and an alumnus of Lagos Business School (LBS),

Though a good social-mixer, Akanbi is the writer of Divine Wisdom for Happiness. She is also the initiator and President of Corporate Women in Islam (CWI). She recently shared with us the secrets of her success in this interview with Paul Ukpabio.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Nigeria's most eligible bachelors, the tale of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and Pastor Kris Okotie

Who can tell the art of a woman's mind? So blessed and divinely favoured in Christian ministry has Pastor Kris Okotie and Pastor Chris Oyakhilome been in that those who know the weight of their wealth keep such prized information under sealed lips.

But wealth and fame is only one part of the love a woman wants. A woman wants a man with fine features, that is just a part of it too. And in that regard, these two handsome pastor have fine features in abundance, with loads of swag.

When Olu Of Warri visited Oba Rilwan Akiolu

The Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, yesterday advised monarchs in the country to cooperate wit President Muhammadu Buhari administration for it to achieve success.

The monarch gave the advise when the newly crowned Olu of Warri, Prince Godfrey Ikenwol Emiko, yesterday paid him a courtesy visit at his palace.

Friday, 18 March 2016

I became a lawyer to fight injustice – US based Emmanuel Olawale

Emmanuel Olawale
 In 1997, Emmanuel Olawale left the shores of Nigeria, West Africa for the United States of America.After graduating with Honors from the City University of New York, College of Staten Island with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Communication, Media studies and Journalism, Olawale headed for Capital University Law School, Columbus, Ohio in 2002 where received his Juris Doctorate degree.Emmanuel Olawale, lawyer, writer, husband and father is a recipient of several professional, leadership and academic awards such as Super Lawyers’ Rising Star (2013, 2014); Who’s Who in Black Columbus (2013), Excellence in Appellate Advocacy Award (2004), Dean’s scholarship (2002-2005),and David White Scholarship. Emmanuel was also inducted into The Order of the Curia, a Law School honorary society. He was a candidate for judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Delaware County in the 2014 elections.The trial lawyer, who has successfully litigated several personal injury and other civil cases before juries and judges spoke with The Immigrant on his motivation to study law, challenges and rights of residents in the United States.

Canada plans admitting 305,000 new immigrants in 2016 * and all you need to know about it

Toronto, Canada

The Liberal government of Canada plans on welcoming up to 305,000 new permanent residents this year — the highest projected immigration level in decades, and around a seven percent increase on the 2015 plan, according to the Canada Immigration News monitored by The Immigrant.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Yes, I'm bringing out all the sex scandal in Nollywood soon -Top Nollywood Director, Chico Ejiro

Chico Ejiro with wife Joy 
Fifty two year old Chico Ejiro popularly known in Nollywood as Mr prolific says, "I deserve every good thing that I have made in Nollywood." Chico who is commonly said to have made the most movies in Nollywood, lives in highbrow part of Lekki reserved only for the super rich.

Meanwhile he studied Agriculture in school. And the only thing he has done to remind himself of what he studied in school, is the plantain shrubs he planted at the back of his office in Surulere, under which he relaxes on free, sunny afternoons.

Chico Ejiro opened up on his love life and knotty issues such as sex in Nollywood in this interview with Paul Ukpabio.

My advice is that widows should re-marry - Hajia Bola Muse (Top Socialite/businesswoman)

Hajia Bola Muse

The story of Hajia Bola Muse can be likened to that of Joseph in the bible in that, young Bola identified with her humble beginning. She left her home in Atiba Oyo in Oyo State, to sojourn in Kano where her grandmother welcomed her. In Kano, God blessed and multiplied her business enterprise (Bomarah Group) and she brought in all her family to stay with her in Kano, where she flourished and extended her tentacles to other parts of the country. Hajia Bola Muse, in this interview, tells PAUL UKPABIO, her story of hard work and passion for family and country. But despite the blessings, she still craves for things she wishes she has, for the good of others.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The pride of a woman highlighted at GIRL ARISE Forum in Uyo

Barr. Emem Daniel

Rule Nigeria Interactive for Girls (RUNING) held a one day forum tagged: ‘Girl Arise,’ with the theme ‘Accelerating Gender Parity’ last Friday at the Ibom eLibrary Conference Hall, along IBB Avenue, Uyo. The Forum was held as an expression of the International Women’s Day 2016 (IWD) and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

P-Square shoots video tomorrow despite face-off

If you believe the duo of P-Square are 'quarreling with each other' or 'fighting themselves' as it is being reported in the media, then you definitely can believe anything! That is because, since the news report hit the headlines, the personalities in this big musical act have still been seen performing together, attending media events together and even laughing together!

MYSTERY BABY: 33-yr-old woman delivered of first born from four-year-old pregnancy · *Doctors: 3 sets of fibroid in womb

The happy couple

 By Paul Ukpabio & BiodunAdeyewa  

IT was a mixture of shock and amazement in the sleepy town of Ikugbomire in ObafemiOwode Local Government Area, Ogun State, on Wednesday as a woman was delivered of a baby from a pregnancy she had carried for four years. The question on every lip was, 'could it be true that MrsOluwabunmiOgidan was delivered of a baby?' The obscure settlement instantly became a Mecca of sorts as people trooped to Alayo Vantage Hospital from far and near for a glimpse of the miracle baby.

Market women cry foul -TINUBU

Chief Folasade Tinubu-Ojo

The market women body of Nigeria led by the head of the market women popularly known as the Iyaloja General, Chief Folasade Tinubu-Ojo, daughter of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, led a group of women to the APC National Secretariat in Abuja on Thursday, to protest the short-changing of market women by the present APC government.

Friday, 11 March 2016

At Emem Akpanumun's carnival like wedding

Never in recent times has a singular private event captivated the attention of the people of Akwa Ibom state, like the carnival wedding of Emem Akpanumun which took place there some days back.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Bashorun J. k. Randle's speech exposes the state of the country plus River Niger set to dry up!

The beauty and style of Bashorun J.K.Randle’s writings compel the publishing of this piece on this blog. Of great importance, are the memories, the camaraderie inherent in the outflow of words: But more importantly are the national issues raised therein, and the fear of the worst that could happen to the River Niger being the drying up of the water, a reality that begs only for imagination..

With pleasure, I invite you to read on, the words of the beautiful man of letters:

Paul Ukpabio.

                                         KPMG AND SIR RONALD LEACH
                                             - By Bashorun J.K. Randle, OFR, FCA
Bashorun J.K Randle

The retired partners of KPMG who are still awaiting their gratuity and pension were in great spirits as the old year (2015) went into voluntary liquidation.  Accompanied by our spouses, we had gathered at the
Four Seasons Hotel,
Avenue de La Menara,

to roll in the New Year.
The choice of Marrakech was heavily influenced by the CNN vigorous advertising of the city and the exotic endorsement of Morocco as:
“The land of snake charmers
Acrobatic dancers
And money doublers.”
If we do manage to double our money, we shall certainly be back here next year.  Insha Allah!!
A quick roll call confirmed that gem of witticism from Arc (Chief) Femi Majekodunmi (product of St.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Why many Nigerians flock to Houston, USA – Ex NTA Glamour gal Comfort Okoronkwo

 Few weeks ago, Comfort Okoronkwo jetted out of the country to America; she was moving on with her life, after recently retiring from her employment at the Nigerian Television Authority. Regarded as one of the glamour ladies NTA has produced over the years, Comfort has landed at Houston-based African Broadcasting Network (ABS) in USA, where along with the Chairman of ABN, Paul Arowolo, they are promoting the voice of Africa in Houston, America. Comfort, who is presently in the country and shuttling between Lagos and Abuja, told Paul Ukpabio, in this interview, the transformation that took her out of NTA. She also shared her memorable moments and how fashion, glamour and television are inter-related.

Lagos declares zero tolerance for land grabbing
… *Strategizes for peaceful 'Easter' celebration

Gov Akinwunmi Ambode
The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said it would no longer tolerate the illegal activities of land grabbers otherwise known as Omo-Onile, just as it warned that anyone found using such to disturb public peace and illegally disposes people of their property would be prosecuted in accordance with relevant criminal laws.

In a press statement signed by Habib Aruna, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, declared that the state has decided to tow the above line, after the monthly Security Council Meeting.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

My husband and I are like twins -Socialite Toyin Kolade

Business woman and socialite, Princess Oluwatoyin Kolade, is one woman who has remained resilient in business and in the social scene over the years. The CEO of Fisolak Global Group, Fisolak Royal Furniture and Arikay Oil and Gas, has a unique way of blending her business with family life and at the same time, enjoying the social scene in company of her amiable husband.

Dr Toyin Kolade who is also fondly known in the social scene as the Iyalaje of Apapa, because of the way she has entrenched most of her businesses in the Apapa area of Lagos, is a jovial, simple but thorough person.
Though a success, she acknowledges the important role of a man in a woman’s life and tells us the many reasons that has made her consider her matrimonial home as the base of her real success in life. She spoke to Paul Ukpabio.

How do you cope seeing that at 10pm you are still at work, when do you find time to rest?
I thank God for everything. When you believe in God, somehow, He finds a way to give you rest. He gives you the strength to find rest. God finds time for me to rest. As clearing agents and shipping agents, we have so many products. Sometimes I leave office late in the night. As shipping agents, we are at work whenever the ship comes around because, we have to monitor our products. Out here, we have to be on our toes. Our customers are sensitive, we realise that . So we treat them well. And we are always there for them. So in such a situation, it is God who provides time for me to rest.

How do you balance being a working mother with the home front?
As a mother, I love children. Thank God that they are grown up in university and secondary school. I create time to be with my children. What I do is that, on weekends, I find time to be with them and we go out, hang around shopping malls, just having a day out together. Also, my husband finds time to be around me. He comes around my office too.

You are a popular face in social circles, how does that affect your lifestyle?
There is the good side of it, and then the bad side of it. The good side is that, I am likeable, friends come around me and a lot of people also want to do one business with me or another. Being popular is actually also good for business. But the bad side is that, one has to be wary of the people you meet or do business with. There are also people who feel bad about one’s popularity and really go out to try to hurt people. So when you are popular, you still have to be careful.

What business are you into?
I thank God that my business has grown a lot from the trading that I used to do. These days, I am into maritime business. We are involved in import and export businesses, clearing and forwarding, consultancy, interior furnishings and supply business. I have a group of companies; one part is involved in importation and another part is into sales of electronics.

I am also a contractor to some state and federal Government. I have franchise for Samsung products and we import too. We feed the market with our household appliances. That is apart from the clearing, forwarding and shipping work that we do. We have also ventured into the oil and gas industry. We started Arikay Oil & Gas Company ten years ago. So I can simply say that, as at today, what we have presently is a group of companies.

What attracted you to your husband?
He is my God-given husband. You know when God gives you a husband; you will never have a problem.

Does he support you in your business?
Yes he does. He is a hardworking man. So when such a man has a wife who is equally hard working, who is also a good wife, he will not have any excuse but to support such a wife. It is also important that a wife is trusted, because when a man has a wife that he trusts, he will wholeheartedly support her in all the things that she does. So my husband is always there for me. He knows that our lives are better because he gives me the opportunity to assist him.

Why does your husband trust you?
My husband trusts me because he has the fear of God and so do I. The trust that we have between us, has helped our marriage. The truth is that, if a husband and a wife do not trust each other, definitely, the marriage will collapse. I am glad that my husband and I love each other passionately. We are actually like twins.

So what will you say has been the secret of your marriage?
The secret has been that, we do not keep any secret from each other. We tell each other everything. We share everything.

Your advice to married couple

Couples should trust each other. A husband and wife must put God first in everything they are doing. It is important that they do not lie to each other. Wives especially should not keep boyfriends. They should not be involved in extra-marital affairs as that kills relationship fast. I am shocked that some wives today have boyfriends all over the place. I believe that women especially should not be sharing matters about their husband with people outside their home. That is because in sharing such matters, one will not know who among the persons she is sharing their marriage secrets with, will use it against them. Some of the women they are sharing their marital secrets with, may be interested in her husband. I advise that wives make their husbands their father, friend and everything.

Do you take holidays with your family?
We all went on holiday last year in Dubai. Hopefully, this year we will be in America or  Switzerland for holiday. But let me tell you the truth, I love going out on holidays like that with my family. But I really do not want to go far away like that. I want to holiday around here in Nigeria or even Africa with my family. I really urge that African governments and especially Nigerian leaders develop this country so that we can have facilities and infrastructures that will make life convenient and enjoyable.

I love Dubai. Last year and previous year when I was in Dubai, I couldn’t help but remembering the first time that I started going there some many years ago. I started comparing what it was then, and what it is now, and I couldn’t help but glorify God at the marvellous change that has taken place over there. I pray that Nigeria becomes like that too soon so that people will be coming from their countries around the world to do tourism here too. It would be lovely if we can have visitors from abroad come for summer here. I pray for this new government so that they can give us regular electricity, water and life! This is Africa! We are well endowed with natural resources.

Toyin Kolade with husband
You have talked so much about God. So can we say you are a religious person?
I am a good Christian. I love God, without Him, I will not be where I am today.

You have indeed been active in the business of clearing and forwarding, that is not usually a female terrain.
When I started, it wasn’t, but now, the women are there in full force. If you look around, you will notice that the women have taken their due position in the business and are also doing very well. We women are more reliable (laughs) and we are always out to ensure that we impress our clients.

Do you think that your background help shaped the person that you are today?
Of course, when you have a good background, with parents who spent time to teach you about life, then it is likely that you will be okay. I come from a Christian royal family, where we were taught the principles of living, how to relate with people, how to handle the issue of trust and how not to get involved with bad friends. I thank God for my background. My parents taught us well. But my father is late now. My mother is still around; before long, she will be 90. I want God to give her more life.

How did you start out in business?
I started quite early, that was when I was in school. I started with my parents who were also in one business or another. You just need to be hard-working, focused and be prayerful. From the beginning of my life, I worked very hard. I would say l inherited the business side of life from my mother. That is because; i used to follow her to work. She mentored me in business. It was from there that I made money early in life going as far north as a food distributor among other things.

How did you meet your husband?
The first time I saw him, I knew that would be my husband. It was indeed love at first sight. I loved his countenance immediately. I noticed he is a calm person and I fell in love with his patience. He is actually a nice man. He is also honest.

Your first car..?
(Laughs) My first car was an orange coloured Volkswagen Jetta car. But even then, as at the time I bought it, it was considered an expensive, luxury car. Then when you had a Volkswagen car among your friends, you were considered ‘a big girl.’ Owning a car then even meant you were on the upper social ladder.

What is your style these days?

I love lace, I wear that a lot. I love to look good, I like to dress well and be neat. I love it when there is a rhythm in the colours that I wear, and one colour matches another. You know that, Nigerian ladies dress fashionably well. I can say that Nigerian ladies are number one in fashion. Without Nigerian ladies, most shops in Korea, Austria, Switzerland and other such places will suffer a recession. People don’t wear those fashionable materials there.

You have been identified with philanthropy in recent times, are you considering going into politics?
Never! Everybody cannot go into politics. I will rather continue to spend and support people in politics. And I want to commend the democratic process that has led to the hope for change that has just taken place. It is commendable to know that, as a nation, we are finally developing principles. I am happy with the political change in the country. It has already reflected in the activities at the port. The officials of Nigerian Custom Services are very much newly improved and they are doing great presently in ports operations. Right now, containers can be cleared easily. You can even do some services same day. So right now, no demurrage, the Lagos port has been de-congested, while Apapa road has been cleared of traffic. So the change is here.

Are you happy with the role women are playing today in Nigeria?
Yes, I am. The truth is that, I see more and more women becoming great in life, impacting more people and doing well. Women are daily aspiring into greatness, they are in business, they are intelligent and they are daily achieving in all spheres of life. There are women accountants, judges, engineers; they have even become senators and ministers, sooner they will be governors and president in Nigeria. I see that happening soon.

What would you say helped you to succeed in life?
I would say I have remained focused in business, and I have always displayed intelligence even from my early life. Like I told you earlier, I was well mentored in business by my mom and at a point; she used to give me a free hand to take on decisions. That helped me a lot as I became more responsible for my actions. It also made me daring but at the same time cautious.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Omo London producer, Princess Onanuga says: “It was great working with Obesere”

United Kingdom based Nollywood actress Princess Elizabeth Onanuga is in Nigeria. The pretty actress came into town days back and within the short time, she has had quite a load of fun. We caught up with her at a high brow private club at Ikoyi where she told us a few things about her lifestyle and the movie industry here and in the UK.


The event has gone, but the memories linger on. Here are some of the beautiful faces that graced this year's AMVCA.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Kogi governor's wife delivers twins

Governors House in Kogi is in a happy mood! The governor, his family and the people of the state are presently celebrating the delivery of a set of twins

Late Molade Okoya Thomas' widow dies

Late Molade Okoya Thomas
Lady Olivet Abosede Okoya-Thomas is dead. She was the matriarch of Okoya's family and the wife of the late Chief Molade Okoya Thomas. Family sources said she died on Wednesday March 2 at the age of 77 years.
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