The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Bunmason Investments Limited, Chief Olubunmi Alabi, stood tall among other awardees in Ibadan at the recent maiden edition of TARMAC Festival 2014 as he received the Tourism Integrity Award.
Speaking during the event, which was sponsored by International Breweries Limited, the chairman of the event, Oloye Lekan Alabi, recalled the earliest days of the Cultural Centre, saying the place had always occupied a prime place in the history of recreation and entertainment in Ibadan.
Oloye Alabi commended the initiative of the association for putting the tourism event together.
The TARMAC Festival, organised by Cultural Centre Traders’ Association of the Cultural Centre, Mokola, Ibadan, in collaboration with MacSteve Event Tourism, is a tourism promotion event.
Reading the citation of Chief Alabi during the ceremony, the media consultant to the event, Mr. Toye Fawole, described the awardee as a passionate promoter of tourism and supporter of worthy causes.
He said although Chief Alabi had turned down several awards, he accepted the Tourism Integrity Award because the promotion of tourism was so close to his heart.
Mr. Fawole said both “Bunmason,” the business name of Chief Alabi, is one that rang bells within tourism circles all over Nigeria, especially in the South West and North West geo-political zones of Nigeria, adding that as a big time investor in the road construction and printing businesses, among others, tourism business is almost incomplete without the awardee.
Speaking earlier, the managing director and CEO of MacSteve Tourism Events, Mr. Jide Olatubosun, said the TARMAC Festival was organised to share values of arts and culture in an atmosphere of social peace, adding that tourism was vital to social peace.
He commended the efforts of the Oyo State Tourism Board and the National Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in widening the scope of tourism values as ameans of generating income as well as bringing about healthy living among the people.
On the relevance of the tarmac of the Cultural Centre of the Oyo State Council of Arts and Culture, Olatubosun, popularly called MacSteve, said, “the spot has offered itself as the largest recreation and relaxation centre in Nigeria, second only to the popular Abe Igi of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.”
Accepting the award, Chief Olubunmi ‘Bunmason’ Alabi said Tourism Integrity Award would serve as a tonic for him to do more in the course of promoting tourism in the country.
He advised the Federal Government to do more to promote tourism, adding that it was the best way to spread wealth round the masses.
Other awardees at the ceremony were:
• Hon. Abiodun Awoleye Dada, member of the House of Representatives;
• Akogun Sarafadeen Alli, former SSG in Oyo State and immediate past chairman of Odua Investment Limited, who is the running mate to former Oyo State Governor and the governorship candidate of Labour Party in Oyo State for the 2015 general elections, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala;
• The chairman of the Oyo State Command of Nigerian Legions, Pastor S.A. Olagunju;
• Son of the Alaafin of Oyo and chairman of Atiba Local Government of Oyo State, Hon. (Prince) Hakeem Adeyemi,
• Mr. Muyiwa Salami;
• Chief Bukola Oguntola; and
• The Divisional Police Officer for Mokola Police Station, Mr. Akin Oridoye.
The new ultra-modern Apex Event Centre located at American Quarters, Yidi, Agodi Gate, Ibadan, provided the right atmosphere for couples to celebrate each other and renew their marital vows recently when the Family Concept (TFC), a faith-based non-governmental organisation, called out the marrieds in a keep-all-children-at-home outing.
Elder Ayorinde with the hosts of the event, Toye and Tina Fawole
With support from FUNTUNA Eggs, a subsidiary of Animalcare Konsult Services Limited, and United Healthcare International Limited (UHI), a health management organisation, the Family Concept rolled out the drums and provided a romantic platform for married people to express themselves.
Elder Dr. Taiye Ayorinde (left) with the representatives of FUNTUNA Eggs, Mr and Mrs. Odueso
It was indeed a full day, with the event featuring seminar, couples’ roundtable, health talks, family empowerment, hot seat, drama, free medical test and treatment, as well as dance, family games and love feast. In addition, there were lots of side attractions without any dull moment.
One of the interesting features of the day was that there were no children running around either in the event hall or within the premises. This, according to the organisers, was to prevent children from distracting their parents and other participants, as well as to prevent the children from hearing adult discussions which get discussed at such meetings.
For instance, the presentation of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), the 25-year old NGO which promotes family health, at the event would have been too much for the young ones. Giving a health talk on family planning, ARFH’s programme officer, Mrs. Morounfola Okunfulure, and her team, with the aid of sex toys, demonstrated the use of male and female condoms, which even the adults found to be quite explicit.
The Baale of Ekotedo, Elder (Dr.) Taiye Ayorinde, who was the royal father of the day, counseled men to create time for their families. “In the name of being busy at work, we men – I was also guilty of it – have no time at all for our families and this is the cause of many problems in the home,” he said.
Elder Ayorinde added: “It is so bad that even pastors who are supposed to be more enlightened in this regard are also guilty. This is why they go from one Christian programme to the other, preaching day and night in various church meetings anf going from one prayer mountain to the other without putting their homes in order.”
He stunned the audience when he concluded with finality: “If you are a man of God who thinks he is pleasing God at the expense of your family, you are only wasting your time.”
Speaking at the event, the Oyo State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Community Development and Social Welfare, Mrs. Atinuke Osunkoya, said the state government placed a high premium on the welfare of its citizens, especially women, adding that women who were jobless should come to register at her ministry in order to benefit from its welfare programme.
The representative of the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Ilori Oladele (second left), with her colleague, Mrs. Adelakun (right) and the hosts, Toye and Tina Fawole
The commissioner, who was represented by Mrs. Ilori Oladele, commended the organisers of the couples’ programme for the initiative and encouraged them to keep up the good work.
Speaking on the theme of the event, “Rekindling the Sparks of Love,” the president of One Heart Ministries, Pastor Olubunmi Smith, who was the joint guest lecturer with his wife, threw the participants into the programme by teasing them. In a walk-through manner, he picked participants at random and asked them probing questions.
To one woman, he asked: “When was the last time your husband took you out, apart from going to church and attending church programmes?” “Never,” the woman, who has been married for about five years, said. He asked another female participant if her husband tells her regularly that he loves her, to which she simply shook her, looking at her husband in the face.
Pastor Smith likened marital love to a garden plant, adding that it must be tendered carefully on daily basis. He said love must be expressed on daily basis if it is genuine love.
“If you love God truly, you must express the love on daily basis as many times as possible by worshipping Him,” he said. “In the same vein, you must not take your spouse for granted by saying he or she knows I love him or her. Love must be expressed and its fire must not be allowed to dwindle.”
The marriage counsellor advised married people to become close friends and create the time for romance, doing the things they used to do before they got married, asking them to be a little more creative in expressing love to one another.
From left are Pastor Olubunmi Smith, Mrs. Tina Fawole, Mr. Toye Fawole and Mrs. Atinuke Smith
His wife and co-speaker, Pastor (Mrs) Atinuke Smith, advised couples to be freer with one another, adding that the wall of formality creating a wedge between husbands and wives should be pulled down so that they can enjoy their marriage the more.
“Many married people are so formal that they cannot even walk holding hands,” she said. “Many people are generally unhappy because they have unhappy love and sex lives with their spouses. Open up discussions in this regard with your spouse today and correct this and you will be surprised at the result.”
Speaking earlier, the programme director of the Family Concept and co-host of the event, Mrs. Tina Fawole, said it was not by accident that the first institution created by God was the family. “Anything done to keep the family unit united (big), strong and reliable – like Union Bank – with the fear of God is in the overall interest of the entire society and the human race.”
She added: “We all know that the area boy, the political thug, the armed robber, the prostitute and the insurgent, by whatever name he is known, is the product of a family unit and, ipso facto, a reflection of the family he or she comes from. Where the husband and wife are truly one and indivisible with the fear of the Lord, they are not likely to emit pollutants into the societal atmosphere. Which explains why our motto is: “Build the Family, Build the Society.”
According to her, “the idea behind Couples’ Fiesta is a variety day where couples will come and be loaded, not just with the word of God, but will also be emotionally relieved and refreshed, maritally encouraged, economically empowered and materially blessed. In issues of family health, they will have something to take home.”
Her husband and co-host of the event, Mr. Toye Fawole, asked female participants to rate their husbands on a scale of love. Dishing out 25 questions, he asked the women to assess their husbands on the characteristics of loving men. At the end of the exercise, five women rated their husbands as scoring 100 per cent.
The five couples later slugged it out by dancing to the tunes rendered by Segun Mighty. The audience was the judge through an aye-nay voice vote. Eventually, Mr. Abayomi Olanrewaju and his wife, Aanuoluwa, emerged the Couple of the Event. For their prize, they will enjoy an all expenses paid weekend at Handlers Hotel and Suites at the low-density Oluyole Estate in Ibadan.
With its new egg giftables, FUNTUNA Eggs added good colour to the event, which was also supported by GSM providers, MTN, FAN Milk, Dansa Foods.
Rick Ross had two seizures in a single day, sending him to the hospital three years ago.
Health didn’t concern the 300-pound rapper then, but he’s shed nearly 100 pounds in the last seven months by eating healthier foods and embracing a high-intensity workout plan.
Ross, 37, says he continues to work long hours creating music, including his seventh album, “Hood Billionaire,” released Monday. It’s the second album Ross has put out this year after the March release of “Mastermind,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
But in the middle of making music and running his Maybach Music Group record label, Ross has made his health a main priority.
And now, he believes if he can drop pounds, you can, too. In an interview with The Associated Press, the Grammy-nominated rap star offered tips on how to lose weight.
NO SODA ON THE SIDE
Ross has given up a few things since changing his lifestyle.
First, the rapper stopped drinking soda, unless it’s diet. He also said it’s better to eat heavier meals earlier in the day. As a result, he said he’s able to burn calories faster.
“I used to eat big meals at 2 a.m. and base it on my schedule,” he said. “But I don’t do that no more.”
Ross said you should drink water throughout the day. He also said to treat yourself when you work hard.
“I just went to Prime 112 (in Miami) the other night, and I had some fried Oreos and fried velvet cake,” he said. “I treated myself. You wake up in the morning, you might regret it. But you got to get back to work.”
An Ibadan-based non-governmental organisation, the Family Concept (TFC), will host 250 couples in Ibadan on November 29.
According to the co-host of the one-day seminar, Mrs. Tina Fawole, the event will, which will come up at the Civic Centre, Idi Ape, will feature Guest Lecture, Couples’ Roundtable, Hot Seat, Health Talk, Drama, Business Talk/Empowerment, Testimonies, as well as Free Medical Test, Love Feast and Dance, among others.
Mrs. Fawole said the event, with the theme, “Re-Igniting the Sparks (of Love),” will attract 250 couples (500 participants), consisting of good quality people in the ancient city of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The Couples Fiesta will feature prominent family and marriage counsellors, as well as health insurance and medical professionals.
This year’s edition of the Couples’ Fiesta is the fourth edition of the love festival.
The Family Concept is a non-governmental organisation which aims at promoting family values, raising ethical/moral standards in relationships and financially empowering families as a short cut towards building the greater Nigerian society.
In essence, the principal objective of the organisation is to create better Nigerian families using such media as seminars/workshops, radio/TV, films and literature.
The programme has been designed to help transform married people into being each other’s best friends, true confidants and true lovers. It is also designed to expose them to the abundant areas of financial empowerment which they had not noticed, as way of making them more financially stable and exposing them to issues of health as they affect the well-being of the family.
The second edition of the Mega Trade Fair will kick off in Ibadan on October 3.
Announcing the date in Ibadan, the president of the Mega Trade Fair, Mr. Delight Owoyemi, said after due consultation with stakeholders, the Central Working Committee decided to shift the event forward by six weeks.
According to Mr. Owoyemi, weather was the major consideration in the decision to shift the marketing event, which was originally scheduled to take off August 15.
He said some of the stakeholders had expressed fears about the possibility of rain disturbing the flow of visitors into the Trade Fair Complex (EXPOYO) venue of the marketing event at Samonda.
Still smarting in the euphoria of the huge success of the first edition of the Mega Trade Fair which came up in Ibadan last December, Owoyemi said with the forthcoming edition of the event being in collaboration with the Oyo State Government and the Oyo State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OYCCIMA), the party will be better and more rewarding.
“This year,” said Owoyemi, “the Mega Trade Fair will be bigger, brighter and better in view of the Oyo State Government and OYCCIMA, as well as all the local government areas in the state, participating. There is no doubt that the party will be better and more rewarding.”
He announced that the Central Working Committee had authorized the rolling out of its full arsenal to ensure adequate publicity for this year’s Mega trade Fair, adding that another major attraction this year is the project, the Making of 10,000 CEOs which, according to him had, strategically, been embedded into the trade fair.
He said, “the Making of 10,000 CEOs project is a bold initiative to eradicate poverty, create jobs, promote rural development and jump-start industrial and national development. It aims at bringing together under one roof, thousands of positively ambitious youths, agencies of government and non-governmental organisations responsible for poverty alleviation and creation of employment opportunities, as well as arrowheads of the banking industry.”
He added: “The forum has a rich faculty of Guest Speakers which include captains of industry, CEOs of blue chip companies and professionals drawn from telecommunications, banking and finance and automobile, as well as the chambers of commerce, industry, mines and agriculture.”
He also said that there would be adequate security to ensure that “no single pin gets missing” during the event.
“God told me and I heard Him clearly: ‘Quit sin, otherwise you will just be creating scenes and you will not be seen.’”
Those were the words of 3Kg Ministofinfo (pronounced Minister of Info), gospel artiste and Hamper-from-Above crooner, as he explained why he got into hip hop music.
Starting out as a hip hop-loving party freak and compulsive night clubber, 3Kg said he suddenly got born-again and then began a crisis of identity.
“I loved hip hop music as a genre but people started counselling me to stop and do away with this genre of music on the grounds that it contained dirty lyrics. I knew I could not readily give it up.
“The challenge of acceptability came because of the type of church that I was attending. Each time I looked at this, I was discouraged and I asked God why I was experiencing this but He assured me that He was with me.
“I was at this crossroad for weeks, which ran into months before the spirit of God ministered to me, saying, ‘Why don’t you start doing this genre for me by singing hip hop using the word of God.”
According to 3Kg, whose current album, Hamper from Above, is making good waves in the market, before the impasse was broken, although he had become born again, he was not living right. This, he claimed, was the reason why things were not going right with him.
He took a step of faith and decided to see a man of God for counselling and prayers.
He told COSMO NEWS: “As I was approaching the man’s house, after covering several kilometres, I heard a voice which asked me, ‘Kenny, do you want to be great?’ and I answered in the affirmative.”
Then He told me to quit sin and live a holy and righteous life. The Holy Spirit told me that was the answer to the question that was bothering me.
3Kg said that was God’s way of re-assuring him that He would support him in the gospel music ministry, adding that he is fully convinced of the goodness of God in the area of creativity.
“Sometimes,” he said, “I would pick a rhyme and God would tell me to stop and He would give me better rhyme. God speaks in rhymes. He is the beginning of creativity. He has given me several rhymes.”
He said although some people claim that hip hop is from the devil, he is no longer moved by whatever people say, adding that God created everything that is good and that Satan can only pervert.
Speaking on the message in “Hamper from Above,” the title track of his current album, 3Kg Ministofinfo explained that God gave him the song at a time that he (3Kg) was in need of help and looked up to a friend who promised. This friend, according to him, would have loved to help but he himself was hampered.
“Then God spoke to me that until He releases my help from above, no one could help me. That was when He actually spoke to me and gave me this song. He gave me the Bible passage, James 1:17 (‘every good gift and everty perfect gift is from above…’). He is tyeaching me to believe His word and place all my trust in Him.”
The eight-track album includes such hits as “Song of Life” and “Christmas Carol Rap,” among others.
3Kg Ministofinfo, whose real name is Kehinde Olabode, is a graduate of sociology from the University of Ibadan. He said God gave him “Christmas Carol Rap” in his final year in the university while he was writing his degree project. “I was not able to do anything on the project until I completed the song,” he said. “Probably God wanted me to do His work first.”
He said “Song of Life” was composed in the studio. “God gave me this song right in the studio. Then when I heard the drumbeat, I was encouraged and I went ahead to compose it.
“It says in part, ‘the issue of paradise is not like what you do like playing dice.’”
The publisher of COMMUNITY EXPRESS, Mr. Yomi Babatunde, is an aspiring member of the Federal House of Representatives under the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is seeking the ticket of APC for the Akoko South East/South West Federal Constituency seat in the Lower Chamber. He spoke to TOYE FAWOLE, Editor-in-Chief of COSMO NEWS, on governance and the politics of Ondo and Ekiti States.
COSMO NEWS: HOW WOULD YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF?
MR. YOMI BABATUNDE: I am, by the grace of God, your professional colleague as a journalist and publisher. I have been in the profession for over two decades and have worked with many media houses. At the moment, I am publishing a newspaper called COMMUNITY EXPRESS.
I was born 48 years ago at Isua Akoko to Mr. and Mrs. A. Babatunde. My father was a community leader who served the community with the last drop of blood in his vein. He is still being revered in the community, in the town and even in the local government. He was an elder statesman and I will want to take a cue from him and surpass what he did in the service of his people.
I had my early education at home, that is at Isua Akoko and Ado Odo in Ondo State but I completed my secondary education in Lagos. I trained as a journalist at the Times Journalism Institute in Lagos before going to the University of Ilorin for a degree programme in religious studies. Thereafter, I did a master’s degree in public administration at the same school.
Now you are in politics. What lured you into politics?
My first reason is that most of our leaders have let the people down. The gap and distance between the leader and the led is far too wide such that as soon as a leader emerges, the led are cut off. The so-called palliatives that leaders or people in government are giving do not in any way have any impact on the people.
How on earth can you give Okada (commercial motorcycle) to graduates to operate in the name of poverty alleviation? It is annoying. It is degrading and insulting. These are graduates who have been educated and are of high intellect. All you need do if there are no jobs to give them is to give them entrepreneurial skills which can better the lot of the people. They don’t need Okada which is an unskilled type of employment.
The greatest challenge of today which lured or forced me into politics is the urge to better the lot of the citizenry, especially the youths of today. For the youths of today to actually be the leaders of tomorrow, they have to be properly groomed administratively and economically empowered so that they can fit in and not end up becoming misfits when they are supposed to become leaders. The escapist and short-sighted approach of turning graduates into okada operators cannot solve any problem.
By changing the destiny of our youths and their focus from higher things to lower things, the nation is destroying its own future. These are the things that led me into politics. These are things that have to be changed and this I cannot do by being outside. Over time, we have been criticizing from the sidelines.
A football spectator or even an ardent fan cannot remain at the stands and score a goal or prevent a goal from being scored. It is only the footballer on the field that can do that. So this is why I decided to get involved in order to halt this lopsided way of reasoning by people in governance and do what is right.
The deal is to empower youths intellectually, economically and impart skills in them to move our economy forward.
Where have you pitched your political tent?
I joined PDP in the past. But I moved to APC for many reasons. Today I am a registered member of APC in my ward unit in Akoko South Local Government Area of Ondo State.
From its package APC is determined to bring the much needed change for our people at this time. You know APC has undergone learning phases. It was AD. From AD it became ACN, which merged with other progressives to garner more force, strength and stamina to wrench power from the ruling party- PDP. To a large extent, PDP, is a disaster to Nigeria in many areas, which are too numerous to mention. With the merger of the progressives into APC, the new ideas have been fused together and through this, APC will be able to win PDP and save Nigeria, out of the economic doldrum which the ruling party has led us into.
Labour party is the ruling party in Ondo State and the party defeated challengers during the last governorship election. What gives you the confidence that you can dislodge the party¬ from a state that seems to be its comfort zone?
First and foremost, I was deeply encouraged and impressed by the success recorded during the recent mobilization and registration of new members by the APC. During that 10-15 day exercise, the number of people that trooped out was overwhelming, and unprecedented.
Let me put it clear that many Labour Party members came to register for APC. Why? They are already fed up with the Labour Party system of governance. If the party members are dissatisfied, you may need to look for the right word to describe the feelings of other members of the society.
With all due respect, when Governor Olusegun Mimiko first got there, he was focused but eventually and definitely now, he has made a complete U-Turn from the goal post.
Today people are completely disillusioned and are showing an open apathy to Labour Party in Ondo State. Labour Party in Ondo State today is a dead party. PDP is a dying party. The only living party in Ondo State today as far as the reality on ground is concerned is APC because it is a new bride and that is why it is being embraced by everybody. This is because its leaders are filled with vigour, with ideas and solutions to the myriad of problems facing the citizenry.
You have been talking as a politician. We want you to assess the Mimiko Administration as a journalist who is expected to be objective.
In all honesty, I have been very frank in assessing him. However, in some areas, he has been able to prove his mettle. In the area of transportation and education, he has not done too badly if we must be factual. He has been able to put his foot on ground in those areas, although there is so much room for improvement and it is only a party that has well orchestrated plans like APC that can come in and make a whole world of difference.
You know all these things have levels. Mimiko and his Labour Party cannot go above their own level. By the time APC comes in in all the elective positions, people of Ondo State will appreciate what good governance means.
In the area of roads, while some towns like Owo, Ondo and Akure have benefitted, those of us in the Ondo North Senatorial District are completely left in the cold. I am from Akoko. In that area, there is palpable insecurity. It is so bad that you have to go to Akure or Owo to do financial transaction in the banks.
Only recently, Ikare was under siege. Security wise, it is zero. You could see a few pockets of road blocks but the personnel there are ill-equipped to really face challenges. The Akoko division of the state has enjoyed nothing so far.
Let us cross into Ekiti, your neighbouring state. PDP’s flagbearer in the forth coming governorship election is former Governor Ayodele Fayose. What do you foresee of the impending electoral collision between incumbent Governor Fayemi and Fayose?
Fayose is a rascal. He is ruthless. But even at that, the Ekitis are wiser today. You cannot change or dislodge a winning team. Since assuming that office, Fayemi has been able to give a good account of himself. He has done so much for his people.
Already there is discord in PDP. See how their gubernatorial primary election went. Thirteen or fourteen aspirants indicated the intention to contest, paying such heavy amount to get nominated. But see how many of them pulled out in protest. It is a party in discord.
You know the way PDP do their things. For anyone to be very qualified to carry their flag, that person must have a record of thuggery and brigandage. He must be ready to do anything, even if it would warrant the shedding of blood. Some of their aspirants could not do this, so the national leadership of the party had to fish for a Fayose. You will see what I am saying as time unfolds but the people of Ekiti cannot be fooled again. They are a lot wiser now. Once beaten, twice shy.
I don’t see Fayose smelling the Ekiti Government House again, not to talk of occupying it a second time. If I may remind you, the same Fayose contested for the Senatorial ticket of Ekiti Central Senatorial District in 2011 with Senator Femi Ojodu who was a complete newcomer and he (Fayose) was defeated flat.
What makes PDP think that it is the governorship that he can win? We all know the qualities they saw in him. But those are not the qualities which the people are looking for in their governor.
Are you seeking any elective post?
Yes, I am in the political race in Ondo State for Akoko South East/South West Federal Constituency into the House of Representatives in Abuja. Since I joined the race it has been so exciting, and adventurous. So challenging, yet encouraging.
It was when I came fully into politics that I discovered that there is so much poverty, hunger and deprivation in the land. We need to talk of developmental politics not the consumption type, not the one that says let us go there and share money.
The bottom-line is I am in the race to represent my people, to serve them and better their lot. With all due respect, someone is occupying that position today but no one knows because the people are not feeling his impact.
What is your message to the people?
In the civilized world, people offer themselves for elective positions because they want to serve the people. If they get elected, they see it as an honour and call to duty. The other candidate or candidates who are not elected congratulate the winner and life goes on. It is the people’s will that triumphs. Losers don’t go to organize violence. It is not a do-or-die matter.
We should imbibe the same culture here. If you say you want to serve the people and the people, through their votes, say “no don’t serve us,” the loser should respect the people and not insult them by saying you must serve them by force. Those who do this are not genuine servant-leaders.
To the electorates, I want to remind them that anyone whose conscience and vote can be bought is selling the future of his children at the rate of the amount he is collecting.
By TOYE FAWOLE
In Nigeria up till the mid-80s, it was not a thing of pride to buy or own (fairly) used imported cars. During those years, these cars had not been christened “Tokunbo.” They were simply called “home delivery,” whatever that meant. Whoever bought or rode those cars did so with his tail between his hind legs, proverbially. It was that bad.
In those years, shopping for clothes at the second-hand boutique was near taboo – an in-law of mine pronounces that word taboom. Nigerians named those places bend-down select because those wares were disrespectfully displayed on the ground by the roadside or in the open market place. And you really needed to bend down to search for your choice. Many patrons of those markets sneaked in to buy. It was indeed a funny satire on these that Ajegunle songster, Baba Fryo, used to spring into popularity in the early 90s with the hit track, Dengo Pose.
I am trying to rewind our memories a little, to remind us of that good era when the Nigerian currency had good value and commanded much respect. The Nigerian naira inherited a good heritage of pride from its predecessor, the Nigerian pound. Our currency was equal in value to the pound sterling and, of course, it stood head and shoulders above the US dollar. In terms of everything.
Then, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was the favourite supermarket of the world, the position which Dubai proudly holds today. It was so until 1982 when Israel came to smoke out the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and dislodge her enemies from the country that could aptly be described as her (Israel’s) backyard. Israel pounded the supermaket city with so much artillery and air-borne missiles that everyone ran for cover, thus drawing the curtains on shopping. But while the music lasted, the Nigerian currency was one of the favourite foreign currencies accepted as media of exchange in business transactions in that city.
Please permit me to cry over this spilt milk. In the beautiful early years of the oil boom, before it became oil doom, Nigeria’s longest reigning military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon – Go On With One Nigeria – was quoted as saying that money was not his country’s problem but how to spend it. Indeed there was a glut of jobs chasing the few graduates as employers of labour besieged the few tertiary institutions to recruit final year students while car dealers also invaded the ivory tower to market prospective youth corps members. Some of these car dealers offerred two spare tyres and one year free after-sales service as incentives. This was a period when fresh graduates got car loans and bought brand new cars within six months of employment. Yes, Nigeria was that good.
My set, or better stll, my contemporaries in the university may not have been fortunate to partake in all of that but we met the higher institutions in good state of health. The only academic session – 1979/80 – which I spent at the Ibadan Polytechnic where I wrote the Cambridge and WAEC ‘A’ Levels before crossing to the University of Lagos in October 1980 for a three-year degree programme, was tuition-free.
The receipt issued to me on 6th November, 1979 ,with serial number 30279, confirms that I paid a Students’ Union fee of six naira (N6.00) and a refundable deposit (caution fee) of fifty naira (N50.00). Of course, it was refunded to me when I was able to prove that I did not damage any school property during my stay in the school.
I remember as if it was only yesterday that the day I collected the cash, I went straight to Dugbe Market, in the central business district of Ibadan, bought a pair of jean trousers and jacket, as well as a pair of canvass before painting the town red washing it for my friends. All of this in N50.00! What I paid and obtained receipt for during my first session at UNILAG was N29.10. I think it was broken down as Students’ Union fee and sports development, and I had no business again with the Bursary Department until my final year when I went to pay N60 for accommodation at the brand new Makaman Bida Hall.
Throughout my one year at the Polytechnic, Ibadan, and three years at the University of Lagos, meal was fifty kobo (50 kobo). Yes, 50 kobo, half of one naira (N1.00). On this ticket, we sometimes whispered “adult size” to the stewards dishing the rations and they would gladly top it up. Every Sunday afternoon at the University of Lagos, lunch was jolof rice which came complete with this big chicken part which sat arrogantly with shoulder raised in the plate and, of course, ice cream.
The quality of the food was so good that it would compete favourably with what today’s modern, top-of-the-mill eateries offer. Yet that was a fifty kobo meal.
Then came vandals! Mismanagement of the economy became the order of the day and the naira lost its value. It was actually the self-confessed evil genius, General Ibrahim Babangida, who introduced the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and what he described as the appropriate valuation of the naira. On a single day, in broad daylight and not even overnight, the value of the naira nose-dived and it became almost worthless when compared with the American dollar and other notable currencies.
As a result of devaluation, prices sky-rocketted such that we could hardly afford to buy anything again. With the prices of cars going up almost 15 times, new cars became a no-go area, almost untouchable. Trust Nigerians, we quickly buried our shame and the importation of fairly used cars became the order of the day, very fashionable. And what we did was to quickly distinguish between cars used in Nigeria and those imported by naming those used abroad as “Tokunbo.” As long as what you were buying was a “Tokunbo.” It was fashionable, and it still remains so.
But then, it was not only new automobiles that went out of reach. Every item on the import list became unaffordable as long as it was new. Clothes, electronics, mobile phones and such accessories as batteries, toys, furniture, automobile engines and other motor parts, computers and accessories, underwears, shoes and socks, belts, children school bags, cooking utensils and all that – the list indeed is endless.
Before long, a dangerous dimension was added to it. This was the notion that in order to beat fake products, it was better to buy Tokunbo. Many Nigerians don’t even want to hear the word, “new,” again. Tokunbo has taken over our psyche. You need a car spare part that you can trust, a phone battery, or just anything, you are advised to buy Tokunbo. The bad news is that in many cases, these so-called Tokunbo items are more expensive than news ones. It is that bad.
The porosity of the system and the borders has given room to all sorts of things that Nigeria has since become the very dustbin of the entire world. It is so very shameful that standards have either fallen flat or are just not there any more. Standards have since taken a flight from Nigeria. At the ports, some vehicles look so ricketty that we often wonder how they manage to escape the authorities.
When these Tokunbo cars are being sent, what they do at that end is to stuff every available space in those cars with things. Sometimes you get the impression that those guys out there just swept their apartments and empty the refuse in these cars before shipping them out to Nigeria. So when those consignments are opened, you find all sorts of things – used toothbrushes, used toothpicks, dirty underwears, used slippers, used toilet brushes, phone batteries, rags and all such – in them. In the market these ones are now being called follow come. By the way, are we so sure Tokunbo toothbrushes, toothpicks and drugs are not being sold in the open market?
In the area of romance, some smart Nigerians are beginning to reason that it is better and cheaper to date fairly used women. It is now common place to see a young man looking for an older woman for a relationship. Since love is no longer blind, guys are becoming more calculating as they look for pocket-friendly relationships. Or how else can one explain a situation where young folks request on romance pages of national newspapers for older partners. Most of the time, the quality they require from these women is a “caring heart.” By this, what they mean, simply put, is deep, caring pockets.
Recently, a randy young man in the business of desk top publishing was being counselled against illicit relationships, especially dating women almost his mother’s age. His defence was that older women are more understanding. He said he realised that dating young lovers was biting too much into his pocket but that dating “these old women” only sapped his energy as they were not after his money but “only wanted their engines warmed,” a service he was kind enough to render as long as what it fetched him, the take-home, could really take him home.
And talking about rendering services, this is what some people do for a living. When one sees the craze among people to travel abroad, one sometimes wonders what services some of these guys want to go and render out there. “To warm lonely old women up during winter,” replied one dirty-looking youth recently. I opened my mouth in wonderment and couldn’t close it for some time. Although he is not a born-again Christian, he went ahead to quote the Bible for me: “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men” (Proverbs 18:16).
I was not too surprised therefore when I saw a promo which a Nigerian website placed on social media recently promising to link guys who wanted older lovers and vice versa. Some of these things actually end up in marriage. And to imagine that Nigerians may have started importing “Tokunbo” women to marry. Pssssssh!
The wife of the governor of Oyo State, Chief (Mrs) Florence Ajimobi, has been commended for her courage and exemplary leadership.
In a letter to Mrs. Ajimobi in Ibadan, a non-governmental organisation, the Network for Democratic Nigeria (NetDeN), said the Oyo State First Lady demonstrated “good traits of courage and exemplary leadership” on the issue of the 234 school girls kidnapped from their hostel by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Chibok, Borno State.
The Network for Democratic Nigeria’s letter, jointly signed by its president, Mrs. Tina Fawole, and programme director, Ms. Ibironke Obateru, commends Mrs. Ajimobi for leaving her comfort zone and going to the stadium to lead women in prayer and rally on Thursday before leading the almost two-kilometre trek to the Office the Governor at the state secretariat, Agodi, in defiance of the scorching sun.
“Your Excellency, we saw the sincerity of purpose in you in initiating the idea for the rally and observed that you conducted the public event without wearing any make-up,” the NGO said. “What we saw in you were not crocodile tears but genuine concern for humanity and we make bold to state that this is the stuff that true mothers are made of.”
While adding its voice to calls for the release of the school girls, NetDeN however cautioned against turning the nation to a training ground for foreign troops.
According to the NGO, the nation’s military is capable of securing the release of the school girls if the armed forces are empowered and given the proper political green light to rescue the girls, adding that so far, what is being given the military is “a tongue-in-cheek nod to handle the Boko Haram terrorists.”
The NGO also commended the Oyo State First Lady for her Train-a-Child welfare programme for rural children.
“It is a programme like this that will ensure that Almajiris are not bred in Oyo State, thus preventing a future Boko Haram in the state,” the Network for Democratic Nigeria said in its letter.
“Joke was astonishingly beautiful, neat and caring,” Mr. Folorunso Ricketts, the proprietor of RAAS Hotel, Ibadan, recalled as he told the story of his one-year romance with a ghost. The ever-lively man, who is fondly called Oko Oku, meaning husband of a ghost, by many around the old toll gate area at the Ibadan end of the Ibadan – Ife Expressway, where his hotel is located, retired as an assistant director from the Ministry of Trade, Cooperatives and Investment, last year.
He shared his experience with COSMO NEWS Managing Editor, TINA FAWOLE:
COSMO NEWS: Many people around here call you “Oko Oku.” If I am not mistaking, that means the husband of a ghost. Is that for real?
Mr. Ricketts: I really thank God that I am alive to tell the story. It happened for real that I dated a ghost and we co-habited non-stop for one year.
You are supposed to be a married man. How did you co-habit with another woman?
Yes, I am a married man and I was already married when it happened. I must also add that I loved my wife so much. But Joke the Ghost co-habited with me in a relationship that men call away game. It was an away match. Let m explain how it happened.
I was working with the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Cooperatives. Then I was transferred from Ibadan to Iseyin in the part of Oyo State that is called Oke Ogun. So I used to travel to my station early Monday morning and return to Ibadan Friday to re-join my family for the weekend.
Each time as I drove out, I picked passengers with my car for short distances along the way. For instance, I would pick them from Yemetu, Total Garden to Bodija or Sango through UI (the University of Ibadan) area before heading out of town on my journey. Most of the time, the people I picked were female traders who were going early either to go and buy their wares or that sort of thing.
On this particular morning, I picked up all these women, mostly of the Edo, Delta and the South East axis who sold groceries, such as vegetables and things like that. It was during the rainy season; in fact it was in July, way back in 1988.
It was drizzling. And there was this lady, a very beautiful lady at that. I observed that she somewhat forced herself into the car and I presumed it was because of the impending rain. Her name was Joke.
I expeced her to drop along with the other passengers either at Sango or UI or somewhere. But when I noticed that the others alighted and she was still so relaxed, I asked her where she was going. Rather than answer me, she asked me where I was going in particular. When I informed her that I was going to Iseyin, she said that was where she, too, was going. So we both proceeded on this jolly ride, chatting excitedly as we went along.
As we discussed, I proposed a love relationship and she had no objection about that. And that was how she became my live-in lover at Iseyin.
My family was in Ibadan while I went to Iseyin every Monday morning, as I said earlier. I returned to Ibadan on Fridays to join my family for the weekend. Joke stayed back in Iseyin while I returned alone to join my family.
How long did this relationship last?
Well over one year. It was a little over one year that we lived together.
What good qualities did you find in her that kept you glued to her for that long?
She had three distinct and unique qualities., First, as I said earlier, she was astonishingly beautiful. She was a very beautiful girl. Apart from this, she was very neat. Joke was quite neat, both inwardly and outwardly. Everything about her was very tidy. I have not seen a lady that neat in my life.
Lastly, she was very caring. She took very good care of me. In terms of housekeeping, she was excellent and she never allowed my meals to come late in any way throughout the period.
As a matter of fact, she pampered me and, if you asked me, which man would not keep such a woman jealously? I was living as bachelor, eating whatever came my way in Iseyin before she came on board but she changed all of that.
Joke must have loved you so dearly, too. What were those qualities of yours that she found so endearing?
She said she loved my free-mindedness. She commended me for never harbouring any grudge against anybody, that if anything bothered me, I complained about it and that it ended there. Joke loved this nature of mine.
During that period, I was the auditor for consumer cooperative in Iseyin and I was a heavy drinker. I drank everyday, whether I was in Ibadan or Iseyin or where ever I was. After soaking myself in beer, I had little or no room in me to nurse grudges. But apart from that, it is my nature to take life easy without hurting anyone.
Was the love so blind that you did not notice any strange behaviour in Joke all through the period?
As you know, the average man does not go about sniffing for clues and signs if there is no need for them. However, I noticed that consistently, Joke had the practice or habit of entering the room with her back. She perfected the practice of manipulating her gait in such a way to enter with her back and not frontally.
I noticed this but I really did not count it. Eventually she declared this to me, saying she had her reasons but then I wasn’t bothered about her reasons.
Secondly, after eating dinner each night and going to bed, we always woke up the following morning to discover that all our used cooking utensils – pots, frying pan, etc – and even plates would have been turned upside down during the night by God-knows-who. I noticed this as well but for whatever reasons, I did count it nor was I bothered at all.
Did it affect your used and washed plates as well?
No, it affected only the used plates and pots.
Were these the only signs that you noticed?
The third strange occurrence was that each time we slept in the night, I used to observe or have the strange feeling that we three instead of two on the bed.
Since I was the only one living in the place without my family, I did not furnish the apartment for much comfort. As a matter of fact, it was the type of the mattress which secondary school pupils used in the boarding house that I was using. I just placed it on the floor. So most of the nights, without actually seeing a third person, I had the feeling that there was a third person on the bed with Joke and I. It was as if she was being doubled.
Then symptom four: anytime I was broke and I mentioned it to her before leaving home for the office in the morning, she would just jokingly pat either my purse or my pocket with her hand and on such days, people would just start dashing me money, so much that I would return home heavily loaded with money. She was a spirit but I didn’t know.
What lasting influence did she have on you?
Until I met her I wasn’t used to wearing under pants. After my bath I would just wear my trousers and hit the town. She advised me to start using pants before wearing trousers and I imbibed it.
As you said earlier, you were a married bachelor in Iseyin but with Joke you were a married man in Ibadan and a married bachelor in Iseyin…
You know one thing, it never crossed my mind to take a second wife. I was happily married and I had two children then. I loved my family and the idea of a second wife never crossed my mind. Apart from my family and work, the only thing I did was to drink, not to womanise.
How did she spend her weekends each time you returned to Ibadan to join your family?
She stayed back in Iseyin to enjoy a quiet and lonely weekend in my absence, looking forward to my return on Monday.
And what happened on your return?
I am sure you know what it must have been – the usual I missed you kind of thing
Did you bother to make any enquiries about her family and relations?
I didn’t really bother myself about those details. We were just co-habiting. As far as I was concerned, she was a good time girl and that was it. But I was so good to her as well. She loved me and my plain kind of life. She was so happy with me for not smoking. It wasn’t as if she enjoyed me drinking but there was nothing she could do about it.
Then how did the bubble burst? How and when did you discover that Joke was a ghost?
It was just a little over one year into it. I was already neck-deep into that relationship, so much that Joke was already part of my life. At Iseyin people knew her with me. People knew however that I was a married man and that my family was in Ibadan, which was my base while Iseyin was an out-station.
Then one day she told me that her family was bereaved, that her uncle, her father’s elder brother died. Her family house was in Ibadan, somewhere around Iyana Church area. She described the place for me and requested that I should visit the family on my return to Ibadan during the following weekend to commiserate with the family.
In Yorubaland, that is the culture, the tradition, so I agreed to go. I was already so fond of Joke so I did not have any inhibition about going to commiserate with her family as an in-law. The idea was that, according to Yoruba custom and tradition, I was ready to pay whatever contribution or levy they were paying as a family.
So when I came to Ibadan for the weekend, I took time out to visit the family. I went there early on Sunday morning. I went with my Vespa motorcycle. Apart from my car, I had a Vespa which I took out on casual outings.
Joke came from Idi Odan village, somewhere around Iyana Church. When I got there, they received me and I commiserated with them. But since they didn’t know me, I used Joke to introduce myself. They said they had three people bearing Joke in the village, that the three of them were indeed married and living with their husbands outside Ibadan. They said they knew all their in-laws and that I was not one of them.
They brought the photographs of the three ladies bearing Joke but I told them none of them was my own Joke. When I described my own Joke who was living with me as my wife in Iseyin, they said the only other Joke in the village, in fact the one that marched my description, was dead. They said she died in a motor accident while travelling to Oyo town for her freedom (apprenticeship graduation) and of her Nikkah (Islamic wedding).
When I insisted that my own Joke was alive and was in Iseyin as I was talking to them, they went to fetch her photograph and I confirmed she was the person I was talking about. Then they took me to the grave, where she was buried. Yet I insisted Joke was my wife, that she was alive and kicking at Iseyin. By this time, it had become a drama and there were over 20 people who gathered around me.
To cut the story short, they delegated three people to follow me to Iseyin to find out the veracity of my claim that Joke was alive. When we got to Iseyin, people started hailing me within the neighbourhood. Some of them called me “Baba Ibadan,” while others called me “Baba Alajeseku,” (Mr. Co-operative). I was living on the ground floor of a one- storey building. Getting there, I led my team of curious investigators into my apartment only to find no trace of Joke.
In surprise, I called my landlady, an elderly woman whom we called Alhaja and asked her for Joke’s whereabout. She responded by telling me that she (Joke) just entered into my apartment minutes before I called her. I actually met the door ajar.
To my surprise, there was no trace of Joke anywhere in that house. There was not a single item belonging to her that I could lay hands on or point to in order to prove that Joke was actually with me. Joke had disappeared without leaving any trace of ever living with me, having disappeared with everything belonging to her. I was so overwhelmed with fear that I relocated to a friend’s apartment without removing a single pin from the house, not even my TV set that kept me informed of events.
Did your wife ever hear of this story about dating a ghost? Or did the two women ever meet?
Yes they met and I will quickly explain how they met. There was a time that I bought many crates of empty soft drink bottles for my wife to trade with in soft drinks. So when I was transferred to Iseyin I had to move my family to my father’s house at Yemetu within the Ibadan municipality.
At a point, Joke wanted to start dealing in soft drinks so I took her to my wife to borrow some empty crates. That was how they met. I must confess that they later quarreled when Joke failed to return her empty crates. It was a terrible quarrel. And that might have been the time Joke decided to leave me. Later my wife got to know that Joke was actually my live-in-lover much after she had disappeared. She used to ask me, where is Joke?
How did you introduce Joke to your wife when she came to borrow those crates from her?
I used to be a palmist and star reader which exposed me to a lot of people. I had all sorts male and female clients so my wife was used to me having them. I introduced Joke as a client in my palmistry and star reading business.
Did Joke’s disappearance mean complete severance from her or do you still have any means of contact?
By my nature, right from childhood, I can never be provoked. I am so emotionally stable that I don’t get easily upset. That person that will get me angry must probably be the devil himself. Once in a while when I get disturbed or worried, I still see her but we have not been in a position to talk since then. One incident like that, I was at my father’s place and something got me upset. As soon as I left the place to come home, I was driving when I saw Joke by the road side. But since I was driving, I couldn’t talk. In some cases, I see her in a moving vehicle.
As I said earlier, she appears to me in situations when I am upset and she comes to tell me like, “calm down.” She loved me more than anything else and this is what she still finds a way of saying. Sometimes when I get to bed worried, between 4.00am and 5.00am, I see her. She appears to me.