FIVE THINGS YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT IMO

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Imo is one of the states in the South East of Nigeria, located in the heart of Igboland. Its capital city is Owerri, the state’s largest city, and the state’s main economic stay is agriculture and commerce. It’s a bustling state with a lot to offer in culture, history and even business and investment opportunities. We share 5 things about Owerri you probably didn’t know.

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  1. It has a Zoological Garden

Owerri, the capital Imo State, is the home of the Nekede Botanical Garden, a well-tended area for displaying varieties of plants labelled with their botanical names. It’s a spectacular garden on a large landscape with ever-changing beauty. It’s one of the major tourist attractions of Imo state. Some hotels to lodge in while visiting include Rockview Hotels, Santiago Suite etc.

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2. It’s the Location of the Amadioha Shrine

Well, this is not exactly a place the majority might want to visit, but some might find it interesting to know Imo state is the location of the shrine of the famous deity, Amadioha. Amadioha is the Igbo traditional god of lightning and thunder. The Amadioha shrine is particularly situated in Ngo Okpala Local Government area of Imo State.

3. It has Its Very Own Signature Hill (Peculiar to the State Alone)

The rolling hills of Okigwe is located in the north-eastern part of Imo State. It possesses very attractive and appealing qualities that lists it as one of the major tourist attractions in Imo State and in Nigeria. The hill consists of a series of expanding hills with varying heights and ruggedness. It’s indeed a fascinating attraction and one of nature’s finest works. The hills provide a suitable site for camping and picnicking with friends and family, and it’s a great site to enjoy the endowments of nature.

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4. The State Was Named After the Imo River

Imo State came into existence in 1976, after the Nigerian Civil War. It was originally part of the now defunct East Central State created in 1967 by General Yakubu Gowon. The state was created at Ngwoma named after the Imo River. After the state creation, part of it was later split off in 1991 as Abia State and another part became Ebonyi State.

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5. It has One of the Biggest and Most Viable Oil Palm Plantations in West Africa

The Ada Palm Plantation Complex situated in Imo State, is believed to be the biggest and most viable oil palm plantations in West Africa. The palm plantation was established in 1974, occupies about 4,310 hectares of land, with a housing estate and was one of the nation’s major sources of foreign exchange before the discovery of Petroleum.

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Nigeria remembers Fallen Heroes Today

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Today is the Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRDC). It is celebrated on January 15 every year in commemoration of Nigeria’s fallen heroes.

It was formerly celebrated on November 11 to coincide with the Remembrance Day for World War II veterans in the British Commonwealth.

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However, in Nigeria it was changed to January 15 to mark the end of the Nigeria Civil War, following the surrender of Biafran troops to Federal troops in 1970.

Hence, January 15 every year is dedicated to the remembrance of officers and men, especially, those who died in service to the nation and their surviving colleagues who retired from active service.

This year’s ceremonies will be even more poignant following the increasing gallantry of Nigerian troops fighting Boko Haram and the killings of promising military officers and men in the line of duty.

Some of these deaths have struck nerves among Nigerians, none more than that of the fearless Lt. Col Mohammed Abu Ali on November 4, 2016 along with six other soldiers.

January 15: When Nigeria remembers her fallen heroes

Lt.Col Abu Ali, commander of the army’s 272 Tank Battalion, has been prominent in the war against Boko Haram insurgents and received accelerated promotion from the rank of Major to Lt-Col just two months before his death.

Since the start of the insurgency in 2011, no one death has shaken and moved a country as that of Lt-Col. Abu Ali, who, alongside his six colleagues, was given a state funeral at the Military Cemetery in Abuja on November 6.

The resonance of his death has seen Nigerians rekindled their appreciation for the sacrifices its gallant men have been making to secure their lives and property and since then there has been an increased wave of patriotism and an outpouring of condolence and messages of support every time news of deaths arrives from the front-line.

Only last week, the country was mourning the discovery of the corpses of 16 soldiers who went missing six weeks ago when Boko Haram attacked their base in Gashigar, Yobe State.

The 16 soldiers, including Lt. Col. K Yusuf, commander of the Army 223 Tank Battalion were buried with full military honours in Maiduguri.

This was coming on the heels of the death of five soldiers in Buni Yadi, Yobe State after a Boko Haram attack just days earlier.

News of deaths from the battle front has been trickling in and social media has helped in humanizing this fallen heroes.

Photos and post about the fallen and their families have been trending and since the death of Abu Ali in November, a Facebook group, Lt. Colonel Abu Ali Fallen Heroes Foundation, has sprang up with over 70, 000 members, where posts about soldiers killed at the front are made on a daily basis.

But the Armed Forces Remembrance Day extends to cover the gallantry of soldiers who fought and died in the line of duty for their country, long before the advent of social media.

Many of these soldiers remain unknown, except perhaps to their families and circle of friends. And for all these soldiers, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier symbolizes their gallantry and the sacrifice they made for the country.

And every January 15, Nigeria rolls out the red carpet and the wreaths to commemorate these soldiers.

As usual, activities lined up to mark the 2017 AFRDC started one month early with a press conference by the Minister of Defence.

These events include the Nigeria Legion Humanitarian Day, emblem launch, interdenominational church service, Juma’at prayers. The events will climax with the wreath laying ceremony.

These events are held simultaneously at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The highlight of activities and grand finale of the Armed Force Remembrance Day Celebration will take place this Sunday, 15 January 2017.

The President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, will lead other top government functionaries, to lay wreaths at the National Arcade, Opposite Eagle Square, Abuja.

A 21-gun salute would precede the wreath-laying ceremony.

Thereafter, President Buhari would sign the national register and lead dignitaries to release white pigeons at the Arcade, signifying peace in the country.

 

Today, as we remember our fallen heroes, who in their loyalty and determination to ensure peace in this great nation, Nigeria, sacrificed their lives; we pray that they continue to rest in peace.

Nigeria’s Nollywood Reaches Mainstream

Half of a yellow sun

Nigeria’s bustling film industry is about to take a giant leap forward with the upcoming U.S. release of “Half of a Yellow Sun.”

Starring Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), who was born in London to Nigerian parents, and acclaimed actress Thandie Newton, the film is Nigeria’s most expensive movie to date with a budget of $10 million.

“Eighty percent of the money came from Nigeria,” Biyi Bandele, the Nigerian-born director of “Yellow Sun, told reporters. “That was a first. That never happened before. It’s the biggest movie ever made in Nigeria.”

The film marks a milestone for Nigeria’s film industry, which exploded in the ’90s with the growth of home video and is now the second-largest employer in the country. Today, Nigeria churns out some 50 movies per week, most of them straight-to-video releases, making it the second-largest producer of films in the world, after India. Hence the nickname, Nollywood.

“The future of Nigerian film is very rosy,” Bandele said. “In the next decade, the world is going to be hearing a lot from Nigerian filmmakers, young filmmakers who grew up within the Nollywood tradition and then went to film schools. I’m really excited about the prospect of Nigerian cinema in the next decade, thanks to Nollywood.”

“Yellow Sun” is a love story set against the backdrop of Nigeria’s civil war, the Biafran war that divided the country between 1967 and 1970. It’s based on Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel of the same name. Bandele, a UK-based playwright making his directorial debut, shot “Yellow Sun” in the southeastern part of the country, where a lot of events in the film actually took place.

After making its premiere last fall at Toronto’s International Film Festival, the film was released in the UK last month and was among the Top 10 over Easter weekend. The film will premiere in New York City tonight at the New York African Film Festival at Film Society of Lincoln Center, ahead of its limited U.S. release May 16.

But despite a premiere date of April 25 in Nigeria, it has yet to screen in a single theater in the country.

“We have effectively been banned by the censorship board,” Bandele said, adding that the head of the board saw the film in Toronto and loved it. “I think it’s political, but I’m not sure what politics are at play. …I hope we get to the heart of it eventually.”

The film’s release comes at a time when Africa’s most populous nation is threatened by an Islamic uprising in the northeast, jeopardizing unity between the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

It also comes amid an international outcry over the kidnapping of 276 girls, who were taken from their school by extremist militants from the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, which translates to “western education is sinful.” The group has since threatened to sell the girls into slavery.

Since news broke of the kidnappings, the film’s star, Newton, who was born to a Zimbabwean mother and a British father, has posted numerous images along with the popular hashtag “#BringBackOurGirls” on Twitter.

“Yellow Sun” author Adichie called the censor’s actions a “knee-jerk political response” to recent events out of concern that it “might incite” more violence in the country, but said a ban is not the answer.

Nigeria Dominates MTV Africa Music Awards Nominations

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Africa’s number one music authority, MTV Base has announced the nominees for this year’s MTV Africa Music Awards.

The announcement, which was made on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 at an impressive nominations party at The Sands in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This year’s nominations prove that Nigerian music has fast taken over Africa. Out of fifteen different categories, Nigeria has been nominated in eleven categories and includes some of the biggest names in the Nigerian entertainment industry including Omotola Jalade, Chimamanda Adichie, 2Face, PSquare, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Olamide, Flavour among many others.

The different categories, which include Best Male, Best Female, Song of the Year and Artist of the Year has also broadened the scope of the MAMA awards franchise as achievements in non-music fields will also be recognized. They include “Personality of the Year” and “Transform Today by Absolut”, an award designed to recognize and support young, emerging and original African creative talents who use their imagination to fuel social transformation and bring positive attention to the continent.

Davido Bags Highest Number of Nominations

Davido has the most nominations this year with four nods for Song of the Year, Best male, Artist of the Year and Best Collaboration. Following closely behind with 3 nominations is dynamic duo, P Square with Best Group, Artist of the Year and Song of the Year while Wizkid receives two nods for Best Male and Best Collaboration.

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Other Nigerian nominees include 2Face, Burna Boy, Chidinma, Don Jazzy, Dr Sid, Flavour, Ice Prince, KCEE, May D, Olamide, Phyno and Tiwa Savage.

Commented Alex Okosi, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks Africa, “We congratulate all the nominees for the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards. This year, the MAMA offers a stunning platform for African artists, it also celebrates the young personalities, leaders and creatives who are making a positive impact on the continent.”

Full list below:

MUSIC CATEGORIES

Best Male:

Anselmo Ralph (Angola)

Davido (Nigeria)

Diamond (Tanzania)

Donald (South Africa)

Wizkid (Nigeria)

Best Female:

Arielle T (Gabon)

Chidinma (Nigeria)

DJ C’ndo (South Africa)

Efya (Ghana)

Tiwa Savage (Nigeria)

Best Group:

Big Nuz (South Africa)

Mafikizolo (South Africa)

Mi Casa (South Africa)

P Square (Nigeria)

Sauti Sol (Kenya)

Best New Act:

Burna Boy (Nigeria)

Heavy K (South Africa)

Phyno (Nigeria)

Stanley Enow (Cameroon)

Uhuru (South Africa)

Best Live Act:

2face (Nigeria)

Fally Ipupa (DRC)

Flavour (Nigeria)

Dr Malinga (South Africa)

Zakes Bantwini (South Africa)

Best Collaboration:

Amani ft. Radio and Weasel – ‘Kiboko Changu’ (Kenya/Uganda)

Diamond feat Davido – ‘Number One’ (Remix) (Tanzania/Nigeria)

Mafikizolo feat May D – ‘Happiness’ (South Africa/Nigeria)

R2bees feat Wizkid – ‘Slow Down’ (Ghana/Nigeria)

Uhuru feat DJ Buckz, Oskido, Professor, Yuri Da Cunha – ‘Y-tjukutja’ (South Africa/Angola)

Artist of the Year:

Davido (Nigeria)

Mafikizolo (South Africa)

Mi Casa (South Africa)

P Square (Nigeria)

Uhuru (South Africa)

Song of the Year:

Davido- ‘Skelewu’ (Nigeria)

DJ Clock feat Beatenberg – ‘Pluto’ (Remember Me) (South Africa)

DJ Ganyani feat FB – ‘Xigubu’ (South Africa)

DJ Kent feat The Arrows –‘Spin My World Around’ (South Africa)

Dr Sid feat Don Jazzy – ‘Surulere’ (Nigeria)

KCee – ‘Limpopo’ (Nigeria)

Mafikizolo feat Uhuru ‘Khona’ (South Africa)

Mi Casa- ‘Jika’ (South Africa)

P Square – ‘Personally’ (Nigeria)

Yuri Da Cunha -‘Atchu Tchu Tcha’ (Angola)

Best Hip Hop:

AKA (South Africa)

Ice Prince (Nigeria)

Khuli Chana (South Africa)

Olamide (Nigeria)

Sarkodie (Ghana)

Best Pop:

Danny K (South Africa)

Fuse ODG (Ghana)

Goldfish (South Africa)

LCNVL (South Africa)

Mathew Mole (South Africa)

Best Alternative:

Gangs of Ballet (South Africa)

Michael Loman (South Africa)

Nakhane Toure (South Africa)

Parlotones (South Africa)

Shortstraw (South Africa)

Best Francophone:

Arielle T (Gabon)

Espoir 2000 (Ivory Coast)

Ferre Gola (DRC)

Toofan (Togo)

Youssoupha (Congo)

Best Lusophone:

Anselmo Ralph (Angola)

JD (Angola)

Lizha James (Mozambique)

Nelson Freitas (Cape Verde)

Yuri Da Cunha (Angola)

NON MUSIC CATEGORIES

Personality of the Year:

Chimamanda Adiche (Nigeria)

Omotola Jalade Ekeinde (Nigeria)

Trevor Noah (South Africa)

Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya)

Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire)

Transform Today by Absolut

Anisa Mpungwe (Tanzania)

Clarence Peters (Nigeria)

Leti Arts (Ghana)

Rasty (South Africa)

Fashola: Making Lagos Home For All By: C. Don Adinuba

Fashola EKO O NI BAJE
It is difficult to stick out your neck for an African leader because if he takes one or two commendable steps, especially at the beginning, the odds are that he will do a series of things shortly to embarrass you. But Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola has since established he is an exception. He is the kind of army general you could follow to the battle blindfolded. A couple of weeks ago, I published an article demonstrating how the Lagos governor is ahead of the Nigerian political class in courage and development vision, citing the example of how he attended the Chinua Achebe colloquium in the United States when political activists in the Southwest were playing to the gallery by publicly excoriating There Was A Country, Achebe’s memoirs on the Nigerian civil war of 1967-70.

Fashola always shows he is a 21st century leader, not hidebound, an atavist or historical throwback. For instance, on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, he commissioned a 76-housing unit estate in Ikeja GRA named for Emeka Anyaoku, erstwhile secretary-general of the Commonwealth. In an era when even universities fall over themselves to bestow honour only on men and women of money and political power, as Pius Okigbo memorably reminded the nation in his scintillating 1992 convocation lecture to the University of Lagos, it is reassuring to see a Nigerian government immortalize a truly renaissance man, a man of refined values and culture. Perhaps more significant in the Nigerian political context, the immortalisaton shows Fashola’s commitment to Nigeria’s success. Anyaoku is from neither Lagos nor the Southwest. He is rather from Anambra State in the Southeast. In a social milieu marked by all manner of primordial cleavages, the honour to Anyaoku is truly significant. It represents the famous handshake across the Niger, if there has been any.

The Anyaoku honour is no isolated incident in respect of Fashola’s belief in multicultural Lagos. Last December, his government donated N4.5m out of the N6m which Nollywood actress Ngozi Nwosu needed for liver and kidney treatment in the United Kingdom. Like Anyaoku, Ms Nwosu is from the Southeast. What Anyaoku and Nwosu have in common with the governor is that they live in Lagos. And not to be forgotten is that more than any state government, apart from the southeastern, the Lagos State government went out of its way to honour the inimitable Biafran leader, Emeka Ojukwu, during his long funeral rites last year. Do we need state here that the influential Lagos State commissioner for budget, Ben Akabueze, is from the Southeast? Or that the chief executive of the state infrastructure regulatory agency, Joe Igbokwe, is from the geopolitical zone?

Fashola’s cosmopolitanism places him be in the footsteps of such leaders as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president who, as the Eastern Nigerian regional premier, appointed a Lagosian his principal secretary and head of Government House in Enugu. The Great Zik built Nigeria’s first autonomous university and chose for it the universal name of the University of Nigeria, naming the schools and halls of residence after great Nigerians, including his political opponents like Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, and Samuel Akintola. As premier of the Eastern Region, Zik ensured that a Northern Muslim, Malam Umaru Altine, was elected the mayor of Enugu, defeating his Eastern-born rivals.

In the Second Republic, Kano State governor Abubakar Rimi appointed individuals from Cross River, Bauchi and Edo states into his government, individuals like Sully Abu, Ibok Essien and Bala Mohammed. Borno State governor Mohammed Goni appointed a Yoruba the state chief judge and another the commissioner for justice and attorney-general. Plateau State governor Solomon Lar chose an Anambra State indigene, Obi-Okoye, as the state chief judge while his counterpart in neighbouring Benue State, Aper Aku, made an Anambra indigene, Lawrence Anoliefo, the state director of public prosecutions and later a state high court judge. Lar and his Anambra State counterpart, Jim Nwobodo, fought to have Janet Akinrinade from Oyo State in their cabinets following the collapse of the working accord between the National Party of Nigeria and the Nigeria Peoples Party.

It is unfortunate that liberalism, tolerance and peaceful co-existence are today in retreat in Nigeria so much so that an indigene of Imo State born and raised in Aba, for instance, cannot be employed even as a messenger in the Abia State public service. Governor Theodore Orji has since adopted a scorched earth policy against non-indigenes in Abia State, treating them as “undesirable foreigners”. Yet, anytime this Quixotic and queer governor speaks in public about “the imperative of Igbo unity” some people clap for him!

Nigeria is really in a social and moral cesspool. Time was when Kenneth Dike could be the vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Eni Njoku the University of Lagos, Adamu Baike the University of Benin, Umaru Shehu the University of Nigeria, Cyril Onwumechili the University of Ife, etc. Appointments like these ones are no longer feasible. First and second generation federal universities have become tribal and religious cocoons of the most primitive and vicious type, not centres of civilized behaviour. The Ahmadu Bello University vice chancellor was a few years ago forced out of office for not being a Hausa-Fulani Muslim. A person of Ishan stock in Edo State can hardly dream of becoming the UNIBEN VC as the office is now in the grip of Benin people. The battle cry the other day when the post of the UNN VC became vacant was that only a candidate from Nsukka senatorial zone was acceptable!

It is not different on the ecclesiastical front. A few years ago, the nation was treated to the spectacle of some Anglican priests insisting that only a person of Benin extraction could be allowed to become the bishop of the Benin Diocese. Shortly after, the same drama was recreated in the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin. Worse, when the Vatican announced toward the end of last year that a priest from Awka in Anambra State had been chosen as the bishop-elect of the Ahiara Diocese in Imo State, we were treated to the unprecedented spectacle of Catholic priests marching in the streets against the “imposition of a foreigner”!

Developments like the above make you wonder if the Nigerian people themselves, not just the government, want to join the rest of the world in the 21st century. But you then remember there are still enlightened and far-sighted leaders like Fashola. It is nice to praise Fashola for his liberalism, for his live-and-let-live policy which has deep implications for Nigeria’s integration. But the governor is essentially a first-class strategist, obsessed with Lagos State development . He is keenly aware that open societies develop fast but closed societies atrophy. The unrivaled openness of Lagos has enabled it to become one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. This is why tradition-loving Anyaoku, after decades of living and working outside Africa, could settle here, and not Enugu or Awka or his hometown of Obosi. He is making solid contributions to Lagos development. Some three years ago, Governor Fashola honoured Anyaoku at a special ceremony for always paying his tax honestly and promptly.

Like most economies the world over, Lagos is being developed by non-indigenes. Fashola understands this simple but critical fact. By integrating non-indigenes more and more into Lagos society, he is at once taking a strategic step to enhance the state’s economy and making a powerful statement about his belief in one Nigeria. Fashola is one public officer who always keeps hope alive.fas