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Monday, April 27, 2015

Extreme Makeover Boutique Conference (EMBC) 2015

Extreme Makeover Boutique Conference (EMBC), is an outreach designed to bring peace, perspective and purpose to today's busy woman. Essentially a day of fun, food and fellowship; the EMBC desires that women everywhere enjoy authentic fellowship, tackle real life issues in a relaxed atmosphere and are able to let their hair down. It is an opportunity for women to be pampered physically and spiritually.

EMBC hopes to inspire women to celebrate what could be the most exciting stage of their lives and is open to women from all walks of life from the ages of 21 years and above. Past EMBCs have had participants with age range from 20 to 68 years young!

Previous editions of EMBC have held at Lagoon Waters, Four Points By Sheraton and Intercontinental Lagos respectively, all in Victoria Island, Lagos attended by over 2,000 women, with themes as varied as True Beauty - By the Book; Re-Inventing Your Life from the Inside Out; Celebrating You, Celebrating Life; and Arise and Shine.

Extreme Makeover 5 with the theme “A New You!” will hold on Friday, 1st May 2015 at The Ibru Gardens, Louis Solomon Close, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. This May Day Event will be hosted by celebrated actress, presenter, producer and writer Iretiola Doyle. The event, which runs from 9am till 5pm, will be divided into different segments and participants are encouraged to participate in sessions most relevant to them as well as the general sessions.

Celebrated comedian Seyi Law, international jazz singer Yinka Davies, Radio Personality Dan Forster, FADAN President Funmi Ajila-Ladipo, Celebrity DJ/Banker DJ Biso and Comedian Mandy will be on hand as judges and to host different sessions of the event.

Attendees enjoy learning new things, networking and participating in various workshops on finance, career, nutrition, and spiritual growth. Attendees also participate in activities including spa treatments, make-up sessions, Karaoke competition, photo shoots, fashion exhibitions etc. The Women's Fair is also a big highlight of the day as many attendees are afforded the opportunity of shopping for women related products and services. The conference is free to all partcipants and is organised by the Scarlet 2 Snow Ministries (, an NGO committed to transforming the lives of women through various fora and outreaches.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Myles Munroe: A Kingdom Driven Life By Ayodeji Jeremiah

Myles Munroe is a man of many talents. He sings, plays piano and guitar, sculpts, paints, writes books and is a gifted speaker. He does acrylic work, watercolour and oil painting and also loves to read. With these abilities and with three degrees from the Oral Roberts University in Fine Arts, Education, and Theology, he could have gone in a lot of different directions after graduation.

Growing up in the Bahamas, however, gave Munroe a different idea of how he should spend his life. “I came to ORU with ministry on my mind,” Munroe said. “I didn’t come to ORU to look for a wife or to get an education [in order] to get a job,” Munroe said. “I came to ORU because I already had a passion in my heart to make a difference in my country.” His success earned him the 2004 Alumnus of the Year award from Oral Roberts for distinguished service to God. Munroe has also received the highest award possible from the Bahamian government: the Silver Jubilee Award for providing outstanding service to the Bahamas in the category of Religion. In 1998, he became the youngest citizen of the Bahamas ever to receive the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), an award bestowed by the Queen of England. Munroe started public speaking at the age of fourteen and by seventeen could gather 5,000 people in one location and had his country’s Prime Minister as one of his guests.  

What motivated Munroe was the feeling that “most of the people in developing countries, like the one I’m from, about four billion people worldwide, were victims of oppression, and that oppressive impact has developed a mentality that is not conducive to the fulfilment and the maximization of their potential. Most people of colour come out of that environment with their . . . self-esteem . . . damaged. So, my passion still is to restore [what was lost] from the impact that oppression has had on billions of people.” To do that, Munroe felt that people needed to hear a good Word. “I was set free personally when I began to discover the original message of the Bible: what God had created man to do and to be,” he said. “That really motivated me to teach that to as many people as possible, to . . . help people discover their real purpose.”  

After completing a master’s degree in administration at the University of Tulsa in 1980, Munroe returned home and started Bahamas Faith Ministries International, a Christian growth and resource centre that now includes leadership training institutes, a mission’s agency, a publishing company, a television network, radio and Web communications, and a church community. It’s a global work that has touched more than 80 countries, as Munroe conducts seminars and fulfils hundreds of speaking engagements each year.  

“My vision,” Munroe continued, “is wrapped up in one statement: I exist to transform followers into leaders. My philosophy is, trapped in every follower is a leader. My belief is, if that person is placed in the right environment, the leader will manifest himself or herself. As I teach a seminar, I teach the information that creates the stimuli, spiritually and academically for them to tap into their ‘hidden leader.’’’ The “unbelievable” response worldwide has given Munroe a vision for a “leadership incubator” where, he said, “after you finish your academic studies, you come to me, I put you in this environment, and then you come out the other side as a leader.” Munroe says his ultimate goal is to establish a world-class leadership institute that will attract members of Congress and Parliament, legislators, doctors, lawyers, “people who make decisions,” he said. “And the school would be built on biblical principles.” After all, he said, “all true leadership training steals all of its information from the Bible.”

Dr. Munroe’s number one love and preoccupation is his family (his wife and two children). They have been married for 27 years and have enjoyed their life together. “We have had a wonderful marriage and we expect to live and die together. We are a great example to our kids as it relates to loving your spouse. I love my wife with all my heart. We are best friends and she makes me happy. My son, Myles Junior, is 21 years old and my daughter, Charisa, is 22 years old. They are currently pursuing their master's degrees at ORU and they both have a clear vision for their lives, and they have the full support of my wife and I. Given what he gained at ORU, Munroe couldn’t think of a better place for them. “I would never exchange ORU and the experience I had there for anything in the world,” said the former missions director. “What I’m doing now, I can say that ORU had a significant role in preparing me [for it]. “ORU inculcated in us that you could be a strong believer in a very difficult environment and make a very positive impact.” My wife is my partner in my work. She is also a public speaker and also undertakes teaching and training in our conferences. We do everything together. Ruth Ann and I got married when we were 25 years old. What attracted me to her was that she was so busy fulfilling her purpose that she didn't need me. I think if a woman needs a good husband she should not look for him but she should instead be preoccupied pursuing her dreams and vision.

To those who have rejected Christianity as a tool of cultural oppression, Dr. Munroe says, “I believe that religion can be, and in many ways, is a source of oppression because in many cases religion is built on traditions and belief systems that do not allow the adherent to that religion to think for himself or to question those standards or traditions. In many ways religion is also used to minimise thinking. From the Leninist perspective religion seems to have a paralytic effect on people in that it doesn't allow them to be progressive in their thinking or expansive in their views or to be developmental in their perspective of life. I can see why. This has led me in my own journey to conclude that there is a distinct difference between religion and the Kingdom of God. Jesus' message and His work was a practical, need-meeting, life transforming philosophy. We, therefore, need to revisit and rediscover the Jesus of the four Gospels and the message He taught, and compare that to the religion we have developed called Christianity.

His message to Christian leaders is that they should, in this time of social crisis, economic stress, political uncertainty and domestic unravelling of homes, become proactive. It is no longer acceptable for them to sit back and prepare people to leave earth. We need leaders who will prepare people to live on earth ­a faith that integrates itself with society and confronts and engages the society. We need leaders today who are not afraid to confront the issues and the people who are damaging the society, whether they are political leaders, gang leaders or even fellow ministers who are not living up to the standards that they should. We need leaders today who are willing to pay the price to be different.

His primary influences in life he says are his parents and Revd. Oral Roberts. “My mother and father were very strong believers and their impact on their children (there were 11 of us) was very positive. They taught us to dream big, to believe and to have faith in ourselves. They always made us believe that it was possible to achieve our dreams. The other person who impacted my life was Oral Roberts. I began to read his material at a very young age. He was born with tuberculosis and almost died but by a miracle he lived to establish a worldwide work through his ministry. Among the other persons who impacted my life was Dr. Turnel Nelson from Trinidad and Tobago; Dr. Fuchsia Pickett (deceased founder of the Fountain Gates Ministries, Texas); and Andre Crouch, contemporary gospel musician, has influenced me musically. These are just a few of the many people who have influenced my life.

On the basics that one needs for success, Dr. Munroe believes that every human being was born with a natural gift. He also believes that every human being was born with a purpose - to fulfil something specific on earth. “Education is important but you don't need education as a primary prerequisite to success as many of the people who are successful in the world are not necessarily well educated. If you want to be successful in life, you should never seek success. Instead of seeking success, seek to become a person of value. Successful people are those who have made themselves so valuable that people are willing to pay them to be who they are.

Dr. Munroe advises the black man on how he can transform himself into a leader in the society especially in countries like the United States, Jamaica and South Africa where they can’t even find jobs. He believes that in order for the black man to transform himself into a leader, he must first change the way he thinks. For example, the "black man" tends to look for a job rather than look for opportunities for business. “What we need to do is to stop looking for people to engage our gifts or to employ us but rather to become creative and let our own gifts create opportunities for us. I want to challenge every black man to start thinking about creative opportunities rather than employment. I am convinced that everyone was born with a seed of greatness and that they have the potential to turn that seed into a fruitful tree and to let that gift bring them success. So, I challenge our people of colour to begin thinking of themselves as producers rather than consumers, to become productive rather than dependent and to become deployed rather than employed.

His main objectives for the next five years include becoming a New York Times best-selling author. He plans to establish the facilities for a leadership institute to train leaders around the world and he intends to see that his children are married to good people who can be an asset to them in the world. “My son and daughter are a major part of my goals because if you don't leave a successor in the world then you are a failure. Whenever challenges come I meet them with a determination that I will overcome. You never succeed in life without tests and trials. Failure to me is always temporary.”

The biggest message Dr. Myles Munroe has been preaching on over the past few years has been on The Kingdom of Heaven. The astute Man of God has been teaching and studying and meditating on the Kingdom message for the past 20 years and has churned out multiple books loaded with fresh insight and understanding. Dr. Myles elaborated on the role, purpose and power of The Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of Heaven. He identifies the Holy Spirit as the Governor of The Kingdom. “The message of the Bible is not about a religion, the message of the Bible is about a King and His Kingdom and His Royal Kids. The Bible is about a Kingdom, that means it is about the dominion of a King over His territory.”

Dr. Myles gives us a definition for kingdom. “A kingdom is the governing influence of a king over his territory impacting that territory with His will.”

The first saying of Jesus Christ is found in Matthew Chapter 4:17, “And from that time forward, Jesus began to declare, proclaim or to preach, Repent because the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived.” The teacher wanted hearers to understand that Christ came to introduce a government with a territory, and not a religion. “All kingdoms have territories; the territory that is immediately under the King’s rule is called his domain. But all kingdoms historically also have territories that are owned by the king, but they are not under his direct physical rule. That territory takes on a different name, it is called a colony. Where the king lives physically is called his domain, where the king rules, but not in the physical, is called his colony.” “Earth is not in Heaven. Heaven has a King. Heaven therefore is the direct domain of that King, so when you refer to Heaven, you refer to it as the Kingdom of God. Heaven is the original country, the home country, the domain of God.”

Dr. Myles explained that God created the universe as an extension of His Kingdom. “Earth is a colony of Heaven. (A foreign place) The purpose of a colony is to extend the kingdom of that king to that foreign place. Kings and kingdoms administer their will in their colony through governors.” “The way a king administrates a colony is through a governor. It is the way a king extends his influence to a colony; he doesn’t do it directly, he sends a person to live in that colony representing him and that person is called a governor.” We must return to this very important message as it is the original message of Jesus, Whom we claim to represent.” Truthfully speaking, how many Believers are walking around preaching this message today? We find in Matthew 10:7 that Jesus specifically instructed the disciples to preach this one message: “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” “Jesus tied His return and the end of the age to specifically this message of the Kingdom (Matt 24:14)…and said that when we (the church) get this message “of the Kingdom” and preach it; ‘not our doctrines or denominations or our own theological beliefs or tenants’ to the world, then the end will come. “I have taught this Kingdom message in over 50 nations and it continues. We have received and continue to receive thousands of emails, letters and phone calls attesting to the life-changing impact the Kingdom Message is having on the hearers, and we are glad. Many have said it was the missing link in their search for spiritual fulfilment and answers many of their lingering questions beyond Christianity. Hundreds of pastors and Bible schools have now adopted the Kingdom Book for their ministries.”  

“I have been teaching the Kingdom Message for over 20 years now, but it is just beginning to be received and understood. My books entitled “Understanding The Kingdom”, “Rediscovering The Kingdom” and “Applying The Kingdom” all provide detailed instructions about the Kingdom message and they all continue to be big sellers. Dr. Myles rightfully reminds that it is “the only message we have been given as the Body of Christ. “Saints, our eyes have been opened to the truth that we are God’s colonies.  Jesus is Our King and the Holy Spirit which He sent, is our Governor. We have been made aware that Jesus asked us to preach a certain message, The Gospel of Jesus Christ with the assurance that signs and wonders would follow; that message is simply this, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

I went to college and have a degree in theology, but there was not one class on the Kingdom. I read the four Gospels and it was the only thing that Jesus preached. That was a very strange contradiction to me. The Spirit of God has been speaking about the Kingdom for years, but we are finally listening and that’s exciting to me. We will see the true impact of the Kingdom if we keep preaching it. What we call signs and wonders and miracles are simply the evidence of the presence of another government – the Kingdom. A kingdom is not a religion. It’s the influence of a government over a domain or a territory. It’s the impact of a king over a territory. That’s why it’s called a “king-dom” – a king’s domain. So miracles, signs and wonders are not for entertainment. Miracles are not supposed to be used as a point of attracting believers to big meetings. Miracles, signs and wonders are supposed to show that another government, another authority, another power, another Kingdom is present. The more we preach the Kingdom, I guarantee you the more we will see miracles taking place; I mean on a daily basis. Just like any government impacts the land over which it rules, so will the Kingdom of God impact the world when we begin to appropriate its authority and power. That’s what Jesus did.

Dr. Munroe believes there’s a great need for spiritual fathers that being one of the greatest lacks in the Body of Christ. “That is why there is so much immorality, unethical behaviour and corruption. Families are disintegrating, divorce is skyrocketing, rebellion is in the Church, and congregations are splitting. I am certain this is the result of a lack of fathering. We have many great preachers, fantastic singers, awesome teachers but very few fathers. Fathers are difficult to find because fathering has more to do with care than with charisma. It has more to do with responsibility than with performance. It has more to do with leadership, accountability and love than with fame, exposure and glory. Fathering requires a commitment to nurturing and developing others rather than using and benefiting from others. In the Body of Christ lately there seems to be a tremendous pursuit of titles. It’s amazing that everyone wants a title but no one wants the title of father. They are pursuing the titles of bishops and apostles and prophets and evangelists, but how come no one desires to be a father? We are in dire need of spiritual fathers. We have very few people who are willing to lay their lives down for the sake of the development of other people. Many leaders today have not been properly fathered. My hope is that there will be fathers who will be strong enough in character to rebuke and correct and to restore some sanity to the people who are in leadership positions who have not been fathered.

On why he prefers to teach rather than preach, an approach that seems largely acceptable by a lot of people, he says that is because that is what Jesus did. In his view, the difference between preaching and teaching is very important. To preach means to declare, to pronounce or to announce. To teach means to train and instruct for change. Preaching doesn’t change people. Preaching may attract, give information, alert people, even convict people, but teaching brings understanding and you cannot change until you understand. You cannot grow until you have information. That’s why Jesus taught. Jesus never preached to the disciples. He preached to the multitudes, but He taught His disciples. He announced the Kingdom to the multitudes but He taught the Kingdom to His disciples.

As to the biggest challenges to spreading the Gospel in developing nations; Dr. Munroe believes that the only ones that can reach these people are the people themselves. “I believe that the greatest way to win the Third World is to win the Third World people first and let them go back into their own culture and into their own environment and share the Gospel. One of the greatest obstacles is the misconception of who Jesus is. Many Third World people I work with have a concept of Christ that comes from what religion calls Christianity. In many ways Christianity has misrepresented Christ in a very terrible way. I’m talking about hundreds of years of history that has really damaged the image of Jesus. Many of these people don’t want to hear about Christianity. Secondly, in many of these countries there are very strong cultic religions, and those religions have also twisted the concept that people have of Christ. We need to correct that. Thirdly, in many of those countries there is a misconception of God and the reason why Christ came to earth. We have misrepresented and almost made Jesus Christ synonymous with democracy. That’s dangerous because Christ is a King, not a president. Finally, poverty and corruption are major issues in many of these countries because of poor leadership that was a product of oppression. People have been dispossessed. They have been raped of their dignity, their self-concept, self-worth and self-respect. Christianity is not enough as a religion. These people need restoration of self-concept and in many cases the religion of Christianity does not provide these answers. Many times it can provide the religion but it doesn’t provide restoration of the quality of life that people need to have to believe in themselves. So these are some of the issues that we need to look at in the 21st century and I hope the Church will take another look at what makes effective missions.

“I am convinced that the last world on earth is the Third World; that God has now turned His face toward them. I am convinced that the greatest spiritual movement on earth is about to emerge and it will not emerge from the First World or the Second World. It will emerge from the Third World. It has already begun. I am a part of it. I represent them. The largest churches that exist today and the massive growing emerging ministries are in developing countries. I believe that God is going to transfer the responsibilities for winning the world in this century to the Third World people. Also keep in mind that the largest segment of the world’s population is in Third World countries. So it is very natural for the Lord by His wisdom to move among those people to win their own people. If the second and first worlds are wise, they will begin to learn from the third world and find out what’s going on and not to try to impose their brand of Christianity on the third world because it will not and cannot work. God is raising up people without anyone’s permission. He is calling them. He is anointing them without anyone’s sanction and the greatest leaders in the world to come will be third world leaders used of God. They are going to be products of their culture and God is going to use them to impact the world. And my prayer is that the Second, First and Third World believers will cooperate and not compete with each other and see the world won for Jesus.

On the benefits of networking with other ministries, Dr. Munroe says no one man can win the whole world but all men together under Christ can win the world. God will never place His program in the hands of any one person or one ministry. He’s too smart for that. But He will make it necessary for all of us to have a piece of everything and that’s why we need one another. One of the weaknesses of the Church in history is the spirit of exclusivity and isolation. That’s why denominations were developed. One move of God thought that it was the move of God and so they began to believe that previous or future moves could not be moves of God. This is very sad. The world seems to be wiser than us because it realizes it has strength and it has weakness and that’s why you have what they call merging companies. Some of the most successful companies in history are those that merged with other strong companies. The Church needs to learn that lesson and begin to network. Networking is first understanding your strengths and weaknesses, appreciating the strengths of another and then joining your weakness to that person’s strength so that you can be stronger. We will not make it in this 21st century without networking. Networking requires, first of all maturity, secondly, the ability to submit to another man’s strength. Without those two added elements we remain prideful and weak.

On how we can break down the barriers between races and cultures in the Body of Christ: Dr. Munroe asks everyone to reduce ‘ourselves from every race to one race and that is the human race.’ “As long as we consider race beyond human race there will be racism. We need to get a revelation of what it means to be human. Racism and bigotry is not only related to pigmentation of skin. It can also be related to differences of opinions or differences of methods. We can be a racist between denominations and belief systems. The source of racism is low self-esteem, low self-worth and a poor self-concept. Once you realize how valuable you are as a human and recognize that everybody else is also made in the same image as you are, then equality is an automatic result. The greatest command in the law is the secret to destroying racism and that is to love God with all your heart, your soul, and your strength. Then love yourself and love your neighbour to the same degree that you love yourself. Until you love yourself, racism will always be present. Racism is a sign of self-hatred. I don’t care if you speak in tongues. I don’t care how many miracles you work. If you have problems with people who are different from you, then you are still suffering from self-hatred. If you discover and really understand God and love what God is and who God is, then you’ll naturally love yourself because you are made in His image. It’s impossible for you to love God and hate your brother.

One of Dr. Munroe’s key messages is “everyone is born for a God-given purpose and potential to fill that purpose.” How does he see the apostolic and prophetic ascension gifts helping believers recognize and walk out their purpose? “The Apostle Paul said Christ gave to the Church some gifts, some functions. They are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to train the saints for the work of their ministry. That word “ministry” means to exercise their gifts. So the goal of all leadership is to help people under their care to first discover their purpose (the word “purpose” means original intent) and then help them develop the character and skill to execute that assignment. Then the Body will never suffer weakness because each one will bring to the table their gift, their strength. Purpose is the discovery of your reason for existing. Without purpose life is an experiment.

On what he sees as the biggest challenges facing the Body of Christ today and what we can do to address these issues; “The Church is becoming impressed with itself. We seem to be preoccupied with promoting ourselves to ourselves. There seems to be such a clutch for self-promotion, self-labelling, self-advertisement, and self-possession. That is very dangerous because the commission God gave the Church is not to promote itself but to reach the world. Also, the world is being given a very distorted picture of the true message of the Kingdom. Right now religion is the number one problem in the world and we know that all the terrorism that we are experiencing and the fear is mostly motivated by religion. Jesus Christ did not bring a religion into the world. He bought a Kingdom. The world doesn’t need another religion. It doesn’t need traditions and rituals. The world needs a practical application of principles and precepts that will impact their daily lives. Jesus said blessed are those who are poor spiritually for to them belong, not a religion, but the Kingdom of heaven. Only the Kingdom satisfies spiritual hunger not religion.

Originally published in The Christian News in March 2008

Monday, November 3, 2014

Countdown to the The 2014 Lagos Art and Book Festival

Each passing day brings down the curtain on 2014. How far have you come from 2013? The Lagos Arts and Book Festival travelled a thematic journey from Lagos Story in 2013 to Freedom & the Word — the theme for this year’s festival. It is a natural progression, because to tell a story is to gift another with insight, and only in freedom can one truly give or receive.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; the 20th anniversary of South African democracy; and the 15th anniversary of Nigeria’s 4th Republic. These milestones remind us of paths humanity must never again tread. They also suggest that we appreciate the writers who used their art to protest a system of suppression or provided comic relief in a climate of oppression. The importance of reading their books should never be lost on us, as James Kelman — Booker winner 1994 — said, ‘one of the few remaining freedom we have is the blank page. No one can prescribe how we should fill it.’

The 2014 Lagos Art and Book Festival is dedicated in honour of Prof. Wole Soyinka @ 80. The pre-festival events kick off on the 10th and end on the 13th of November. The events to look forward to are: a Book Trek, creative writing workshop, and a publisher’s forum. The Book Trek will take place at British Council in Ikoyi, Lagos and it is designed to ignite a passion for reading amongst children, young adults and anyone with a suspicion for books. It will be followed by a one day creative writing workshop organised by British Council for aspiring writers. The final pre-festival event is the publisher’s forum. The discussions will be focused on cutting operational costs and making profits by taking advantage of the marketing opportunities e-media presents. CORA (Committee for Relevant Arts) and Goethe Institut will facilitate the forum. The forum ushers us into the main festival events which will run from 14th to 16th of November at Freedom Park (Old Colonial Prison), by Broads Street, Lagos

DAY ONE – Friday, November 14
We celebrate the works of Nobel Laureate—Prof. Wole Soyinka. Prof. Biodun Jeyifo—Harvard don and foremost critic of Soyinka’s work—will deliver the keynote address on Soyinka’s contribution to the quest for Freedom and Justice for all people. The speech will set-off discussions on Soyinka’s non-fiction and its impact on freedom and nation building. The second session is tagged Soyinka: the public intellectual. Prof. Chidi A. Odinkalu—chairman of the Nigeria Human Rights Commission—will set the tone for discussions with an address on Soyinka the great defender of freedom of speech. And then there will be readings and performance of Soyinka's plays and poems: Dance of the Forest, Madmen & Specialists, King Baabu, Beatification of an Area boy, and The Road. Also poets cum rap artistes will entertain the audience with poetry and spoken word recitation in tribute to Prof Wole Soyinka. A befitting finale to first day proceedings is the staging of Alapata Apata by Crown Troupe of Africa.

DAY TWO -- Saturday, November 15
Join Chuma Nwokolo, Adewole Ajao, Toni Kan, Kola Tubosun and co as they discuss books on the theme ‘In Search for Freedom’. Books to be discussed: 1. David Welsh— The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. 2. Nelson Mandela— Long Walk to Freedom. 3. Peter Schneider— The Wall Jumper. 4. Ala Al Aswany— Chicago. 5. Wale Adebami— Trials and Triumphs: The Story of TheNews. A panel of four coordinated by BusinessDay will anchor discussions on the theme ‘Keys to Knowledge Economy’. Books to be discussed: 1. Thomas Picketty — Capital in the Twenty First Century. 2. Dambisa Moyo — Winner Takes All: China’s Race for Resources and What it Means for the World. Also the following books will be discussed on the theme The Aftermath: What Happens after Freedom: 1. Ike Okonta— When Citizens Revolt. 2. Antjie Krog— A  Change of Tongue. 3. Naomi Klein— Shock Doctrine. 4. Wladimir Kaminer— Russian Disco. British Council will anchor discussions on themes for young adults for example: do we entice them to read by writing fantasy or is reality equally bizarre and interesting? Then Cassava Republic and a panel of authors will discuss of a new digital romance imprint—Ankara Romance. Finally, Rotimi Babatunde—Caine’s Prize winner 2012—and a panel of four discuss contemporary Nigerian writing.

DAY THREE – Sunday November 16
Join Sage Hasson to explore the theme ‘The Book and Youth Empowerment’. Focus is on books published by authors under 35, like: 1. Okechukwu Ofili— How Stupidity Saved My Life. 2. Chude Jideonwo— Are We the Turning Point Generation. 3. Ayo Sogunro— The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and other Sorry Tales. Benson Idonije — veteran journalist and music critic— will present his book on Fela Ankulapo Kuti titled Dis Fela Sef.

We saved the screen for you on the last day! Come and watch The Supreme Price, a documentary film by Joanna Lipper that will make you appreciate 15 years of democracy in Nigeria, that will make you cry and make you laugh too. The movie segues in to the CORA Art Stampede—a free for all discussion on the importance of documentation to the quest of freedom. For the last hurrah we present poetry slam by a 100,000 Poets and Musicians whose aim is to induct you as champion for change. The Lagos Art and Book Festival promises to be a picnic of books, and one book a day will keep senility at bay.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Have a Pure Heart, Be Fair to All and Fear God

By Ituah Ighodalo

One of the challenges of Nigeria is that there is too much evil. Too many wicked people. We are always thinking of who to deal with and how to get back our own. People are not bothered if other people’s lives are damaged as long as they succeed. A lot of us have terrible hearts, deceitful hearts, untruthful, extremely unforgiving. We wish evil on other people. We never forget what others have done to us.

The heart is desperately wicked; the Bible tells us that. You cannot tell what is going on in a person's heart. Some people will eat and sleep with you, then behind you will backstab you. Jesus himself said, ‘my friend, my very friend, the one whom I eat with and I trust has lifted up his finger against me.’ There was a man in Burkina Faso called Thomas Sankara. A brilliant dashing young officer who did a coup and he had a good friend called Blaise Compaoré. He was head of state and Compaoré was his vice. When Compaoré started plotting against Sanakar and they Sankara that "Campari is looking for you, Campari is going to kill you"; Sankara said it was not possible. He said “if Compaoré is lifting up his hands against me, then I am dead" and within one month, he was dead. Today, Compaoré is still the president of Burkina Faso and Sankara is dead.

A lot of people cannot be great not because they are not intelligent, not because they are not strong and powerful, not because they are not wealthy, not because they are not outstanding or blessed but simply because they do not have a clean heart. Their hearts are not clean.

One of the challenges of Nigeria today is that a lot of our leaders don't fear God. The Bible says that because judgement is not quick to come does not mean that God is asleep. A lot of our leaders don't fear God and therefore they think that they can do anything they like and get away with it. God gives you a long rope to do whatever you want and at the end of it, He will just cut that rope and that will be the end of that. If people fear God, they would respect man. If you don't fear God, if you are not afraid of this God, if the fear of God does not constrain your behaviour and your attitude, you cannot think right.

What makes a man? A man is made up of what he thinks because what he thinks determines what he does or what he says and what he says determines how he behaves, and how he behaves determines who he is.

Also, you must be fair to all. Think more of the common good and be ready to admit your wrong. A lot of us find it difficult to admit when we are wrong. We find it difficult to admit when we've done something bad. We find it difficult to admit when we are at fault or when we have stumbled. We want to wish it away and play as though it's not our fault. When something happens, we quickly rise to our defence saying “it’s not my fault." You are very quick to blame other people for things you know you didn't quite do right.

Another major challenge of Nigeria is that we are selfish and self-centred. You must have a feeling of fairness and a desire for the common good. Most of us, as long as our interest is protected, it's alright but when it's in the interest of the common good, we don't care. We are not interested because what we want to do is in our own interest. That's why you are driving down the road, the taxi driver will park in the middle of the road, be taking and offloading passengers. That's why you are moving down the street, somebody else will stop and disrupt the traffic. That's why somebody will say something this way and do something the opposite way because it's all about self-interest, nobody is ready to sacrifice for the common good. Nobody is ready to take the pain so that everybody will gain. Nobody is ready to lose a little so that others can benefit, all we want is what we want for ourselves.

If we can all have pure, clean hearts, be fair to others, think more of the common good and be less self-centred, God will begin to work wonders in our lives and Nigeria will be the better for it.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

CSR-in-Action hosts "3rd Sustainability in the Extractive Industries" Conference

Bekeme Masade is the Executive Director of CSR-in-Action

Plans are in top gear for a successful hosting of the third Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) conference at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos with endorsements and confirmation of attendance by keynote speakers, industry captains and heads of relevant government agencies, ministries and parastatals.

Top on the list of endorsements and confirmed attendants is the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Ernest Nwapa, whose agency - which regulates local content participation and polices in Nigeria - has offered its full support and endorsement for the conference.

Others include Raymond Wilcox, General Manager, Nigerian Content Development; Lara Banjoko, Chief Executive Officer, Zone 4 Energy; Niyi Yusuf, Managing Director, Accenture Nigeria; Christine K, Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation Nigeria; Jeffrey Corey, COO, Seven Energy; Fidel Pepple, Immediate Past General Manager, NAPIMS; Taofiq Tijani, Hon. Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Lagos State; Owanari Duke, Country Director, Empretech Foundation; Innocent Lagi, Attorney General, Nasarawa State, among other dignitaries from relevant government parastatals, community advocators and companies in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

The theme for the SITEI conference, which is the third in the series, is "Local Content Participation, Accountability and Transparency." The highly anticipated event will address the challenges of local entrepreneurs, job seekers, policies and critical issues surrounding the implementation of quality local content participation in the Extractive Industries and proffer practical solutions towards improving entrance, accountability and transparency in the sector. The conference holds on Friday, October 24, 2014.

The theme of this year's event is a natural sequel to the successful 2nd SITEI conference, which had as keynote speaker, the former World Bank Vice President for Africa Region, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili. The second edition discussed the need for more transparency in the sector and produced a convergence of important opinions and contributions on the topic from different stakeholders cutting across private sectors, government representatives and community leaders.

The SITEI event this year is, therefore, expected to address nagging issues that have threatened to stagnate the local content drive like quality of local content players - vendors, contractors and business men - to play more active and dominant roles in the extractive industries. The conference will feature workshop sessions with stimulating topics for discussion, with a potpourri of sustainable solutions expected to be provided to enforce the message and spirit of the conference, which is geared toward greater local content participation in the extractive industries.

To drive youth participation in entrepreneurship, skills development and in the activities within the Extractive Industries, CSR-in-Action brings a new twist to this year's SITEI Conference with the introduction of an Essay and Logo Design competition. This competition with the theme "Quality Local Content Participation in the Extractive Industries: Opportunities, Challenges and Solutions" is an opportunity for interested members of the public who have a burning desire to see increased local content in the extractive industries to provide a precise overview of the sector and proffer lasting panacea for all stakeholders. To participate and for more details visit

To address any health fears with regard to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) currently ravaging some West Africa countries, Executive Director, Bekeme Masade assures conference participants that appropriate measures have been taken to ensure simple and necessary health practices are adhered to at the event to guarantee a hitch-free conference following a partnership with PathCare Nigeria.

The "3rd Sustainability in the Extractive Industries" Conference is expected to provide a strategic approach to resolve some of the key issues in the industries through stimulating debates, and garnering of opinions of a wide spectrum of stakeholders.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mai Atafo designs bespoke winners blazer for Johnnie Walker Blue Label Challenge

Celebrated Nigerian designer and “fashion artist”, Mai Atafo, has created a bespoke blue blazer as the official trophy that will be presented to the winner of the inaugural Johnnie Walker Blue Label Golf Challenge, which will culminate at Lagos’s prestigious Lakowe Golf Estate, Saturday, 6th September 2014.
In earning status as West Africa’s foremost amateur golfer, the winner will also don this coveted garment at Perthshire’s esteemed Gleneagles Golf Course as a personal guest of Johnnie Walker at Scotland’s historic biannual Ryder Cup – a prestigious European and PGA tour competition between America’s and Europe’s golfing elite – admitting Nigeria to an exclusive club of leading international golfing countries.
“The blue blazer designed by Mai Atafo is the perfect fit for a competition of this calibre. An inspired, bespoke sports jacket, it reflects the accomplishment of the winner and the prestige of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Challenge as well as the excellence in sartorial craftsmanship associated with the MAI brand,” says Joe Nazzal, Head of Reserve Nigeria.
Having shown in numerous international fashion shows including the J Spring Fashion Show (Paris), Arise Magazine Fashion Week (Lagos), Glitz African Fashion Week (Ghana), and Lagos Fashion Week, Mai Atafo Inspired (MAI) is a lifestyle label with various specializations but primarily known for its well-crafted, Savile Row-inspired, bespoke tailored suits.
“It is an honour for me, both as a designer and as a Nigerian, to have been commissioned to design the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Challenge winner’s blazer and I look forward to seeing it worn on the world’s greatest golfing stage,” says Mai Atafo.
The fourth and final leg of the iconic Johnnie Walker Blue Label Golf Challenge Lagos will tee off on Lakowe Golf Estate’s emerald fairways on September 6, just prior to the start of the Ryder Cup.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Politics in Nigeria – Between good governance, populism and instant gratification

By Ayodeji Jeremiah

In the aftermath of the Ekiti state governorship elections and the ouster of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the jury has gone to town to determine why he lost and what exactly happened. Prior to the elections, polls had shown a close run but it was largely expected that the incumbent governor would win. When the results came out, which were largely determined to have been free and fair by most election observers, questions arose.

Ekiti state was a stronghold of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and it was a foregone conclusion that an incumbent such as Kayode Fayemi with his reforms and performance would be rewarded by the voters come Election Day. It was a big win for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party that rules Nigeria at the federal level, which hitherto controlled none of Nigeria’s six south-western states and has been struggling with internal divisions; several PDP governors have defected to the opposition. By gaining a gubernatorial foothold in Ekiti the PDP’s chance of victory in next year’s presidential election looks brighter.

In the aftermath, several new terminologies have been invented to explain the win by Ayo Fayose, a former governor of the state who was once impeached following charges, albeit unproven, of embezzling public money. The Lagos state Governor, another reform minded governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola in an article on the elections called it “stomachstructure”; others have referred to it as “grassroots politics”. Another commentator called it “Danfo Driver politics” (with reference to the unruly behaviour of Lagos public bus drivers and their need for instant gratification). The Economist magazine of London called it “politics of the belly”.

The Economist of London in its editorial said, “In dismissing a forward-thinker, the voters sent out a loud message. After coming to power in 2010, Mr Fayemi laid new roads, improved the university system, presented a plan to get more young people into jobs, created a social-security scheme for the elderly, and cut corrupt wage payments to government workers. But such reforms upset people with a vested interest in the old political system. Indeed, the election was a clash between appeals to good governance on the one hand and the lure of old-school clientelism and populism on the other. Despite Ekiti having a relatively well-educated electorate, the old ways prevailed. This does not bode well for political reform across the country.”

The statement that Ekiti state having a well educated electorate was expected to have re-elected Dr. Fayemi has been re-echoed in several quarters. The Ekiti governorship poll results highlight public resistance to political reform. The people are clearly saying they prefer the old “egunje politics”, which keeps them comfortably on the state payroll and hands out cash in return for their votes. It highlights just how much enlightenment the electorate needs.

The results of the Ekiti polls also highlight the lack of a political culture and the need to build one. In his article in the Daily Independent of Nigeria, ‘Madness of politics: Is political culture possible in Nigeria?’, Dr. Chuks Osuji commented that “in all Western democracies, political culture has been developed, and this moves the wheel of democracy. However, when it comes to Africa, particularly in Nigeria, one of the problems today is lack of political culture. Many scholars opine that our own political culture must evolve after all the seeming trials and errors, wobbling and fumbling period of political experiments. Others disagree, saying that given the complexities of our heterogeneous population with different social outlooks, tribal diversities and sometimes numerous ethnic incompatibilities may make it difficult, if not impossible, for the emergence of a political culture in this country to which all and sundry could subscribe. The root of the disconnect in our political system is the type of constitution imposed on the country by the military. The constitutional provisions are seriously flawed in many respects; hence it has remained difficult even for the Parliament to do something positive and meaningful, because they are seeing everything from the perspectives of quantum of selfishness and myopic tendencies.” This has trickled down from the leadership to the followership and the electorate.

While Nigerians have always appreciated the importance of good governance, long years of military rule slowed development of democratic values and a culture of transparency and accountability in governance. Consequently, corruption pervaded all spheres of public and private life with serious implications for service delivery. Among those who track corruption, Nigeria is a poster child for the “resource curse.” According to the World Bank, some 80 percent of oil monies are accrued by 1 percent of the population. Under international and domestic pressure, the federal government has made efforts to combat corruption: In 2006, the federal government began publishing the monthly amounts it distributed to states and local government areas, and it has also established several anticorruption government agencies. But the ruling party conducts most of its anticorruption work behind closed doors. The most egregious graft happens at the state level. Governors “run their states like personal fiefs,” writes the Economist. These “big men” are not accountable to the general population because they receive most of their money from the central government, and when they run for office, they rely on “godfathers,” or ethnic and political elites who sponsor candidates with the understanding that they will reap the financial benefits once the candidate takes office. Pervasive corruption at every level of government has fostered similar sentiments in the populace. For the Nigerian people, “democracy has become a kind of blackmail. They will take anything they can get.”

Surveys conducted by IFES (International Foundation for Electoral System) reveals that a majority of Nigerians think it is wrong for an ordinary person to sell a vote in return for goods or money. However, more than a third of the sampled population thinks it is understandable to do so. Furthermore, “most think it is wrong for political parties to offer money to people in return for their vote, but a third think it is understandable for them to do so. A quarter of Nigerian adults admit someone tried to offer them a reward or gift to vote for certain candidates in the election.” Today in Nigeria, money politics, vote buying, godfatherism and “share the money” are regular household phrases and slogans portraying moral decadence of politicians. These usages adequately describe rent-seeking behaviour of politicians, political parties and voters.

In Nigeria, among political gladiators, spectators and bystanders, politics is an entrepreneurial venture from which one can become rich overnight. That is why people have not stopped registering political parties when few others are merging; people struggling to become governors no matter what happens; all manner of people gearing up for political activities in 2015 which they see as the best opportunity to liberate themselves from the seeming enclave of impoverishment, hardship as well as social and economic deprivation.

Adding to these is the absence of any ideological train of thought amongst the various political parties present in the polity. A look at the various parties shows an array of dysfunctional actors coming together and riding on public sentiments of disapproval of the current leadership. Cross carpeting (defection as it is called) from one party to the next is the order of the day all based on what each person can gain from the party.

A blogger Mark Amaza in his post, ‘We Are Not Ready For Intellectual Politics’ opined that political debates are virtually absent in our politics. “Our politicians and political parties prefer to, at worst, engage in banal, empty statements that either criticize each other without providing alternatives or in vituperation. At best, they make promises without providing an action plan for achieving the promises. Less than nine months to the general elections, I am yet to hear any person intending to unseat the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan offer his or her alternative ideas to solving our current issues, such as the insurgency waged by the Boko Haram terrorist sect, or how to create jobs for our millions of unemployed young people. It is the same thing at the state levels and for the legislative races. One would have expected that robust debates would be ongoing on these issues so that Nigerians can compare and contrast and choose to back the candidate they feel offers the ideas.”

Giving reasons as to why this is so, illiteracy and poverty top the list. 70% of Nigerians still live on less than $4 per day i.e. N650 on the average. Illiteracy rate still stands at a very high 30%. Of the literate 70%, more than half are educated only to primary and secondary school levels and only 51.1% of those eligible to vote can read and write. Intellectual debates and badly needed public sector reforms do not really count in winning votes. It does not really matter whether you propose the best ideas to solving problems because the impact of this factor in your winning elections is quite small. This will come especially as a rude shock to young Nigerians, particularly the ones that populate social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and analyze politicians and candidates based on their smarts – they are a very small percentage of the entire voting population. Outside of cities like Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja, Nigeria is still a country largely driven by government jobs and civil service contracts. The economy of most states is influenced by the amount of money spent by the state government and most state governments are the largest employers of labour in their various states. Most governments therefore rather than take on the gargantuan task of putting money into much needed infrastructure development and civil service reforms (that will free up recurrent expenditure needed for capital expenditure) and transform the civil service bureaucracy needed to get things moving will rather stick with the status quo, which in the process enables them to pilfer as much as possible while portraying them as ‘givers’ and being ‘sensitive’. It was widely said that Dr. Fayemi (and his Lagos state counterpart Mr. Fashola who has transformed Lagos) are ‘intellectuals, selfish, elitists who don’t know how to spend money and speak too much English’. Spending money in this sense means distributing the so called largesse of the national cake and government funds into the hands of the average Nigerian through trickles of gifts and cash donations. After all, ‘it’s not their money; it’s our money’ so the sayings go.       

Less than a month after the Ekiti state elections, the Edo state governor Adams Oshiomole (An ACN governor) recalled teachers who had been laid off for not having the necessary qualifications and who had been unable to pass the competency tests given them. We join the Punch editorial team in believing that this action was a direct response to the results of the polls in Ekiti. Unqualified teachers who have been told to take tests as part of Mr Fayemi’s education reforms probably voted against him. So did civil servants upset by his more meritocratic hiring practices. Such ‘educated’ teachers and civil servants therefore become very willing tools in the hands of so called populist politicians (who promise the status quo) in spreading such messages as in the above paragraph.     

Olutosin Ogunmola in his treatise, ‘The Challenges Of Democracy In Nigeria’ notes that the failure of democracy and economic development in Africa is due in large part to the scramble for wealth by predator elites who have dominated politics since independence and see the state as a source of personal wealth accumulation. “We have continued to have a ruling class that is grossly disinclined to ideas and the life of serious reflection. Military intervention in governance has further added more woes to the plight of democratic governance in Nigeria. Not only did it adversely affect the legislative component of government, it also brought the people, the electorate, down to a revoltingly unacceptable level of acquiescence to the undemocratic actions of their rulers. That’s why even now, some of the electorates would carry placards and demonstrate in favour of rulers who, apparently, are doing nothing for their good. Also, the lack of sophistication and independence by the press is not helping matters. There can be no meaningful representation to elevate the fundamental principles of checks and balances when we have a passive civil society and a weak press. This democracy has no plan other than one to serve the interest of the select few who want to continue to have their way at the expense of the collective will and interest of the people; with so much power concentrated in the executive, there are no strong institutions to curtail excesses.”

In our May 2014 cover feature, we stated that developing the middle class and lifting those at the bottom of the economic pyramid into lower middle class remains one of the solutions to sustaining and building democratic ideals and structures. The middle class in most African countries do not have the means (including votes and clout) to empower progressive groups into governance; most economic policies continue to favour the establishment and foreign interests except radical changes occur. A report says a third of Africans are now middle class. Their interests coincide with the interests of the poor and should help to bring about change. Think about the middle classes who voted with the poor for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president in Brazil, or the vibrant civil society of India that brings together the poor and middle-class activists (or possibly even the middle classes who are the protesters in the Middle East).

The Civil Society and Press in Nigeria clearly have their work cut out for them. While we wait and hope for the economic emancipation of the average Nigerian, enlightenment is also needed as to what constitutes good governance. The fight against corruption must be stepped up as Nigerians generally believe now that if our elected profiteers can gain away with anything, the only option is to try and take as much as they are being offered from them.

Our political system needs to be one of several coherent systems infused with a central value to it. This central value, i.e. shared orientations towards action, would define the type of role relationships, which can arise and allow the individual to develop stable expectations about the behaviour of others.