Tuesday, January 26, 2010


2009 was an eventful year for Nigeria’s dynamic entertainment scene. From music, movies to comedy shows, it was a new level of acceptance and recognition for many a Nigerian artiste, actor and comedian. M.I, D Banj, TuFace and P Sqaure proudly flew the Nigerian flag once again at the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) held in Kenya where they all carted home awards. Nneka Egbuna won the coveted Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) awards in the UK and then, Femi Kuti got another Grammy nomination (maybe he would finally win the coveted Award too).

For Obi Asika, CEO of Storm Records, one of Nigeria’s foremost recording labels, music would still define the country’s entertainment scene in 2010. “In 2010, I believe you would see quality music coming from a number of places. Some of us are working hard to unlock the opportunities for Nigerian talents this year” he noted. “I’m very excited that Femi Kuti got nominated (for the Grammy Awards) and I pray that he wins it because it would give a big boost to Nigerian music.” Not only that, he believes music still holds the key to the other channels of entertainment; TV, movies, events, fashion and merchandise. “In 2010, I believe you would see quality music coming from a number of places,” he said.

Despite that fact that Nigerian music has become a dominant force on the African continent, Asika believes that most artistes still have to improve their acts if they want to be significant in 2010. ‘There were a lot of music albums in 2009, but to be frank, there was a distinct lack of originality, where artistes were chasing hit records instead of hit music,” says Asika. For most music buffs, the usual suspects, the likes of Dbanj, Asa, Wande Coal, P-Square, to mention a few, may still be musical forces to reckon with, but the new year would also witness the coming of age of budding talents and an unleashing of more musical creativity, including the likes of General Pype, GT the Guitarman. Renowned names such as Naeto C, Sasha, Asa, and Tosin Martins are also putting finishing touches to their albums.

The New Year might also present a drawing board for some already established acts to get their acts back together, or a springboard for them to consolidate on their successes so far. But, like Asika asserts, “What we are looking for is higher ground, the content of the music and the production and the rhythm,” he said.

Apart from the issue of originality and quality of music, the industry might just need restructuring if it has to consolidate on whatever gains it had in 2009. “It needs proper structures in terms of marketing and distribution,” says veteran entertainment journalist, Kunle Ayeni. “The quality control at radio stations and all the record labels must improve and the artistes should be much more Pan-Nigeria in their lyrics and all that,” he noted. The music industry, he said, would be much stronger if the government sorted out the issues of copyright matters so that more people in the industry could be rewarded for their efforts.

On the other hand, the 2010 edition of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) pageant, organized by Silverbird Communications, would be another major entertainment highlight of the year. The MBGN beauty pageant in Nigeria produced the first African Miss World (Agbani Darego) in 2001. Some entertainment buffs also hold the opinion that TV reality shows, cinema culture and comedy might reach a new level in 2010. But the major question on the lips of many is if Nollywood could make a significant bounce back, after a lull in the last couple of years. Ayeni thinks so. “If you look at what happened last year, with movies such as Through the Glass and The Figurine, you would see that Nollywood is (gradually) moving from the direction of quantity to that of quality. It looks like producers have taken contents, cinematography, and scripting more seriously. If they can also put the crises of the AGN (Actors Guild of Nigeria) behind them and sort out their distribution, I think Nollywood would eventually breakaway from the shackles of yesteryears,” he said.

2010 is also significant because it is the year that marks Nigeria’s 50th Independence anniversary. For Asika, entertainment is going to play a major role in the celebrations. “Without entertainment, there would be no Nigeria at 50, because what are we going to talk about?” he asked, while adding that his company, Storm 360, is currently working on a 13-episode TV drama series called ‘Nigeria, the first 100 years’ (1860 – 1960). “We have not told our story, so why do we complain when they tell our stories for us? So in the 50th year, we’re going to tell our own story,” he said. Entertainment might be one significant channel to do just that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Argentine football genius, Lionel Messi succeeds Cristiano Ronaldo as FIFA World Player of the Year and European Footballer of the Year 2009. But, notably absent from the coveted list of best footballers in Europe are Nigerian players.

Nigerian footballers were once again absent in the list for the prestigious European Footballer of the Year award, otherwise known as the ‘Ballon d’Or’ and the FIFA World Player of the Year. The 2009 editions were won by Argentine and Barcelona whiz kid Lionel Messi, once an unknown player who mesmerized the FIFA Under-20 world cup stage in 2005 and then the football world with his artistry on the ball.

However, there was also one John Mikel Obi in the Nigerian Under-20 side that lost gallantly to Messi’s Argentina. Following his heroics with the Flying Eagles at the tournament, both Chelsea and Manchester United had a protracted battle to sign him on, until Chelsea won him over. Both Mikel and Messi were touted by most football fans to go on to perform excellently in the senior level. However, while both have developed into world-class players, it is the little Argentine football maestro that has stolen the global headlines.

So, what seems to go wrong with Nigerian footballers, who despite their potentials, natural flair and skill, have in recent times, been absent from the prestigious list of being among the very best in Europe and the world?

For ex-Super Eagles player and now football administrator Mutiu Adepoju, the reasons are not far-fetched. “None of our players are playing in top European clubs (except Mikel and Martins), our national team have not really done much in the past few years, coupled with the fact that European clubsides with some Nigerian players don’t get to feature in the major (stages of) championships like the European Champions League,” he said.

In 1989, the great Pele, mesmerized by the quality and depth of talent in the Golden Eaglets team to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, had famously tipped most of them to go on to win the FIFA senior World Cup for Nigeria. Unfortunately, that never happened, since most of these players never featured for major European club sides or graduated to play consistently for the Super Eagles.

Despite the fact that thousands of Nigerian players are scattered across Europe and South America, only a handful are currently notable names on the world football scene; Mikel Obi (Chelsea), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg, Germany), Joseph Yobo and Yakubu Aiyegbeni (both of Everton FC, England). At the height of the Super Eagles dominance of African football in the middle nineties, when they won the African Nations’ Cup and got to the second round of the FIFA World Cup in 1994, players such as Rashid Yekini, Daniel Amokachie, Finidi George, Tijani Babangida, Victor Ikpeba, Kanu Nwankwo, Jay Jay Okocha were plying their trade with notable European club sides.

But, it wasn’t until 1994, that Nigeria football became a constant on the world map when the Super Eagles won the African Nations’ Cup and got to the second round of the FIFA senior World Cup; with the likes of players such as Rashid Yekini, Daniel Amokachie, Finidi George, Tijani Babangida, Victor Ikpeba, Kanu Nwankwo, Jay Jay Okocha, who were then plying their trade with notable European club sides.

While Nigeria football fortunes took a down turn after some of the players were part of the Dream team that won Nigeria the 1996 Olympic gold medal, the rest of Africa saw a vacuum to fill. In 1995, George Opong Weah of Liberia became the only African to won the World, European and African Footballer of the Year. Samuel Eto’O of Cameroon thrice won the CAF African footballer of the year consecutively, while the likes of Didier Drogba of Cote’D’voire, Michael Essein of Ghana, Mahamadou Diarra of Mali, Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo, and lately Seydou Keita of Mali and Yaya Toure of Cote’D’Ivoire announced themselves on the world stage. They have also received worthy mention either in the list of World or European Footballer of the Year category. Great footballers always take out time to develop themselves individually. Maybe some of the players are not doing enough to enhance their skills development and winning mentality?

Nigerian players to have made either the World Player of the Year or European Player of the Year shortlist between 1995 and 2005 include Finidi George, Jay Jay Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo. In 2004, Okocha was also listed in football legend Pelé's FIFA 100 (a list of the greatest 125 living players of all time). In 2007 he was voted number 12 on the greatest African footballers of the past 50 years list, on a poll conducted by CAF to coincide with their 50th anniversary. Kanu was the last Nigerian to win the CAF African Footballer of the Year Award in 2000.

For Nigerian players, that is as good as it gets. Barring a good performance for both club and country in 2010, a world cup year, maybe some other Nigerian footballer would follow in the footsteps of Kanu and Okocha. “I hope so,” Adepoju said.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This is the stuff of Hollywood. Or Nollywood. Wonder what title would best suit the political drama over President Umaru Musa Yar Adua’s absence with or without leave (depends on how you see it) saga?

Okay, let’s do some searching. Sex, Lies and Videotapes. True Lies. Inglorious Bastards. Dirty Dozen. Rotten Scoundrels. The Spin Doctors. All the President’s Men. I Know what You Did Last Summer. Total Recall. Phantom President… Next.

That’s for Hollywood.

For Nollywood, it might be something like: Umaru, Are you still alive? Umaru, Are you dead? Umaru: Dead or Alive? Constitutional Madness. Fifty Days in a Saudi Hospital (hmmn, that title would really sell ‘market’, don’t you think?) Fifty Days in Mecca. The BaBalawo, C and the Witchdoctor. The Witchdoctor of the Living Dead. Battle of Musanga. Paulinus and Polycarp. Fuji House of Commotion. Super Story. Jenifa part 1 & 2.

A recent cartoon strip in one of the national dailies showed Nigeria’s Attorney General, Michael Aondaaka holding and reading the 1999 Constitution upside down. With horn-rimmed glasses down his nose, Aondaaka goes intelligent by saying that he does not understand why Nigerians don’t understand the constitution!

Investigations and matters arising.

For two scores and six days, Nigeria’ president was nowhere to be found, until the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) found him somewhere. I remember the AG saying that Yar Adua could rule from ‘anywhere’.

And while others were still searching for clues and missing links, the highly respected Next newspapers broke an exclusive scoop with the cover headline, “Yar Adua brain damaged.” Two days later, the BBC broadcast Yar Adua’s telephone interview with them. “At the moment, I am undergoing treatment. And I’m getting better from the treatment that I’m getting…very soon, there will be tremendous progress which will allow me to get back home… I thank all Nigerians for their prayers, for my good health…as soon as my doctors discharge me, I will return to Nigeria to resume my duties. I will also like to use this opportunity to wish our team, the Super Eagles, success in the Nations Cup … in Angola,” said Yar Adua to BBC.

Imagine Gordon Brown giving an exclusive interview to Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) or Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) before speaking to the British media.

Maybe Next Newspapers should ask the BBC for two things in trying to settle the matter of whether it was truly Yar Adua that spoke to them via telephone or it was actually the voice of another ‘phantom president’ (or maybe one other Katsina man).

One is to ask the BBC to hire proven sound technicians and voice experts to analyze the Yar Adua’s voice to authenticate whether it was really Yar Adua they interviewed. Two is to investigate if Yar Adua’s voice was a live one or pre-recorded. Nowadays, with technology, anything is possible with human voices. But, you don’t believe Yar Adua’s spin doctors would callously go that far, do you?

And then, how come in his first exclusive interview after fifty days of coma/absentia/incommunicado, Yar Adua suddenly wakes up and the first major issue he remembers is to wish the Super Eagles success at the ongoing African Cup of Nations, when failed Nigerian bomb plotter, Abdulmutallab, and Nigeria’s unfair classification among terrorist countries by the US is the biggest issue yet?

“…as soon as my doctors discharge me, I will return to Nigeria to resume my duties...” Yar Adua had said in that ‘miraculous’ interview.

Prayers, anyone? Maybe, Nigerians should heed the advice of Dimeji Bankole, the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

BODY SCAN ME (Proudly Naija)

Body Scan Me.

Frisk me down to My Panties.
You still Can't Take Me.
Cos I'm God's Property.
Made Proudly Nigerian.

...Proudly Naija...

For a Divine Reason.
And No Apologies.
For Who I Am.

Okay. Okay...

Body Scan Me.
Cos The World Needs Me.
Now, Can You See?


Sunday, January 3, 2010



Good news. We made it into 2010. What a glorious year it would be. Yeah! I’m sure you might still be getting all those lovely “Happy New Year” text messages from friends and loved ones, not to mention the New Year gifts and hampers too.

Well, you didn’t expect this New Year gift from the Americans, did you? Exactly. But the US government has decided to give a surprise New Year gift to Nigerians all over the world.

It doesn’t end there. The new US ‘bumper security package’ was also extended to six other countries; Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan and, oh, Yemen; Umar Farouk Abdullmutallab’s ‘surrogate’ country’.

Reports have it that the US has tightened security procedures for airline passengers travelling into the country, with particular attention to those arriving from seven other nations. These ‘nations’ in quote are Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, and wait for this; Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria - these four countries are on US lists as "state sponsors of terrorism"

The TSA said the new rules, which have been issued to all airlines with flights into the US, included "long-term, sustainable security measures".
It has issued an order that: "... every individual flying into the US from anywhere in the world travelling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening.
"The directive also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandates threat-based and random screening for passengers on US bound international flights."
In the UK, airports operator BAA has announced plans to introduce the controversial full-body scanners at Heathrow "as soon as is practical".

The new measures are being brought in after a (suspected) Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab allegedly tried to blow up a plane while he was on board a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.

One man’s action does make a difference. Don’t you think?

The new security measures also mean that all air passengers bound for the United States of America from foreign countries will still face increased random screening under the new rules, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confirmed. But anyone travelling from Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria will be subjected to extra checks. They will all be patted down and have their hand luggage searched as part of the new procedures.

Preferential treatment, you might say. So much for the rebranding slogan “Nigeria: Good People, Great Nation”. As a result of Abdulmutallab’s failed bomb attempt in Detroit, maybe the US could now interpret it as, “Nigeria: Good People, one terrorist, but still a Great Nation...hmmn.

So much about Abdulmutallab. Nigeria still remains a country full of Good People. Okay, okay. It now is the 'supposed country' of one terror suspect (thought they said his mother has Yemeni origins?!), But we still have tons of good people, and yes, Nigeria is a great nation. Case closed.

But, one man’s action does make a difference.

It means that, Nigerians everywhere can rise above the Abdulmutallab issue and show to the world that, despite all the negative issues - 419, corruption, fuel crises - and now the Abdullmutallab’s case, Nigeria is still full of good people, with a zillion good deeds for every one ‘Abdullmutallab’ action. Nigeria is also blessed with great talents and potentials, and, yes, is still a great nation; one of the greatest nations on earth. No kidding. Even the full body scanners would detect that.

God bless Nigeria.