In search of new Mandelas

Nigerian leads body of political consultants in Africa
By Tope Templer Olaiya

A statue of Nelson Mandela

A statue of Nelson Mandela

The Association of Political Consultants in Africa (APCA), established in the mold of the American Association of Political Consultants has been launched in Cape Town, South Africa, with the Special Adviser to the Lagos State governor on Communication and Communities, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, emerging as the chairman of the body.
The body, which provides a platform for exchange of ideas between political consultants, seeks to woo across the continent, members of the public who are actively involved in counseling candidates and political parties, running campaigns or providing specialized services such as polling, fundraising, message development and communications.

The main objectives, according to drivers of the APCA is to foster democracy and democratic processes across Africa, while also fostering the growing and diverse profession of political consulting, as well as the practical aspects of democratic elections.

Kehinde Bamigbetan

Kehinde Bamigbetan

According to Bamigbetan, they intend to achieve this by bringing together members at strategic annual meetings to exchange views and information about political developments and campaign techniques.

“We want to draw membership from specialists in government relations, lobbyists, political party employees and members of the academia. Our immediate task is to set up the inaugural conference of the association. The announcement of the group is generating so much enthusiasm from stakeholders. To this effect, we would be holding an inaugural session in the first week of February at Oriental Hotels, Lekki to brainstorm and chart the modus operandi the association would take,” he said.

Speaking on his motivation to drive the continent-wide initiative, Bamigbetan said he had been drawn to the activities of the American Association of Political Consultants for a very long time. “Reading the works of political consultants and following the online magazine, Politico, caused me to interrogate the absence of such a discipline in the Nigerian political process despite the obvious fact that professionals from the humanities had played such roles in the past.

“I believed the democratic system in the country had matured enough to nurture political consultants. But I was yet to meet a political consultant one on one. So I attended the annual convention of the association in New Orleans, United States last year. The convention cured my ignorance. I met political consultants, pollsters, data collection companies, media managers, fundraisers, and stuck great camaraderie with many, particularly Matt McMillan, who had been to Nigeria in the past to work on a few accounts.

“That was how the idea of APCA was given birth to. After the conference, we kept in touch. He went ahead with plans to provide a platform called the Africa Political Summit in South Africa for the takeoff of the idea and appointed me a member of the Steering Committee.

“January 9 was destined to go down in history as the day that history would be made. Political consultants, party officials and activists participating in the summit gathered at a corner in the Cape Town Westin Hotel to create such a platform, fostered by Matt himself. At the summit, Matt emphasized the need to hand over the summit to the political consultants based in Africa. The need to create a platform for such a body became imperative,” he said.

Joining hands with Bamigbetan to spearhead the APCA include Semiu Okanlawon, the workaholic media manager of the Osun State’s information machinery, Tunji Awonusi, a key political strategist of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Zibu Mthiyane, a consultant from South Africa, who will serve as the secretary of the steering committee, Kipgeno Kirui, strategist from Kenya, among other consultants from Gabon, Benin Republic and Ghana.

Burying the ghosts of January 27 bomb blast 14 years after

Chi Limited constructs road project in Ajao Estate
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
Today marks the 14th year since the January 27, 2002 bomb blast occurred that rocked the Ikeja Military Cantonment in Lagos. The history was horrendous in the chequered history of Lagos and the entire nation.
As the bombs exploded, the city was thrown into confusion. Every part of the metropolis felt the pangs of the explosion. The farther away one was from the site, the more it appeared the blast was happening next door.
It was like an apocalyptic scene on that Black Sunday 14 years ago. At about 5:15pm, triggered by a fire outbreak in the nearby Mammy Market, high caliber bombs stored in the armoury of the cantonment began to detonate. There were loud explosions in quick successions. Thousands became homeless after fleeing from their homes; many others lost their means of livelihood. The restless city of Lagos suddenly went to sleep.
However, the most horrific consequence was the human casualties that resulted from the disaster. Till date, no one knows the exact number of persons that lost their lives, though no fewer than 1,000 people drowned and perished in the Oke-Afa canal concealed by water hyacinth, while attempting to escape the uncertain calamity.

Cenotaph for victims of January 27 bomb blast

Cenotaph for victims of January 27 bomb blast

At long last after several years of waiting, victims of the bomb blast have not died in vain. First they got a befitting well-managed cenotaph built at the mass burial site, then the street adjoining the canal was renamed January 27, a Primary Healthcare Centre in Ejigbo was named January 27 and in honour of the victims, a link bridge connecting Ejigbo to Ajao Estate was built and also named January 27 as a fitting acknowledgment of the sacrifices of those who died, to keep their memories in perpetuity.

The ghosts of the tragedy were finally buried and Ajao Estate never remained the same. The once quiet estate lost its serenity to the flowing traffic from Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Isolo up to Iba, Ojo and other parts of Lagos, shortening travel time to Airport Road and Oshodi. The estate was not ready for the influx of motorists plying through the area. No sooner was the link bridge constructed before major access roads began to pave way to constant pressure.

Chi Limited, a fast-moving consumer goods company that provides products in the diary, beverages and snacks sectors, came to the rescue of its host community by constructing one of the hitherto most dilapidated roads within the estate which had been a nightmare to motorists and had reduced the positive impact the bridges were meant to engender.

The newly constructed road in Ajao Estate

The newly constructed road in Ajao Estate

The construction of Ati Okoye Street, which gulped several millions of Naira from design to completion, is a laudable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative that has brought huge relief to thousands of road users. The project, built to modern standard approved by the Lagos State government under strict supervision by its Engineers, is equipped with solid drainage, pedestrian walkway and streetlights.

Apart from this new construction, Chi Limited has gone further to rehabilitate the main access road inwards the bridges coming from Asa Afariogun Street through Eleganza junction down to Chivita Avenue as well as part of Ajibade Babatola so there is a ring of good, motorable road in that part of the estate.

Commenting on the company’s efforts and plans, the Executive Director, Mr. Jerome Shogbon said the company decided to take up the project in response to the needs of the community. “As a responsible company, we embarked on this quality construction work in furtherance of our CSR gestures within our host community and in keeping with our public avowment to partner with the state government by constructing the road to complement the Ajao Estate-Ejigbo link bridges which were commissioned by former Governor Fashola exactly two years ago.

“The road will definitely shorten travel time by more than 50 per cent. As can be seen on site at present, contractors are still busy erecting electricity poles as the plan is to have the whole area well lit with streetlights to be powered from our power plant which runs on gas 24 hours.”


Narrating the ordeals faced before executing the project, the company’s Head of Administration, Mr. Oyekanmi Onagbola, said accessing the Right of Way (RoW) posed some problems. “To do community work is difficult, people don’t understand you. The community is the biggest beneficiary of this project, yet they posed the biggest obstacle while work was on.

“For example, they installed two gates at different ends of the street, which had to be demolished for the road work to get done. But they resisted stiffly before the contractors could demolish and do their work to government’s specification. Same problem we had with them at the final stage of the construction when final coat of asphalt was to be applied and there was need to close the road for 48 hours.”

The road was constructed by a Lebanese firm, Al-Mansur Construction Company.


Burying the ghosts of January 27 bomb blast

10 best films of 2015

Phew. That was tough. It has been coming for a long time so I’m extremely excited to share my list with you, feel free to offer your comments 🙂 There’s always something special, a sort of child-like excitement that comes along with reviewing the whole year in film, and giving special praise to the ones that stood out and the ones that left its presence on me. 2015 was extraordinary. Films ranged from art-house to Indie to Blockbusters to personal projects, spanning all kinds of genres from oddly introspective animation to psychological thrillers to coming-of-age stories. There were spies, and teenagers, and a guy being mauled by a bear, another guy latched on a 2-hour mad drive, transgenders, homosexuals, child soldiers and people who fought to expose the church; This is probably the best year in film. Ever. I honestly believed any of the 10 films here could easily replace most of previous year’s Best Picture. That’s how much 2015 films rock!

Alright then, without further ado, these are the best of the very best.

  1. Room
  2. Tangerine
  3. Ex Machina
  4. Beasts Of No Nation
  5. Dope
  6. Inside Out
  7. Anomalisa
  8. Sicario
  9. The Revenant
  10. Spotlight