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• Barons Pay Columbian $35,000 Weekly
• How Operations Generate Toxic Wastes
• Locations No Longer Fit For Human Habitation, Says NDLEA
ACTIVITIES of drug barons now generate toxic wastes in parts of Lagos and Anambra States, forcing the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to seal off five houses and locations in the affected areas.
The locations, according to the drug agency, have become contaminated and unfit for human habitation.
To run the illegal drug laboratories, Nigerian drug barons hired three Bolivians and a Columbian to whom they make weekly payment of $35,000 just to retain their services.
A source in the agency said the “scary issue” is reminiscent of the case of an Italian businessman, Gianfranco Rafaelli, who shipped over 8,000 drums of toxic wastes into the country 25 years ago.
In a tour of what NDLEA described as “illegal drug factories of waste merchants, The Guardian identified materials, toxic and volatile chemicals that could cause explosion. Many of these materials were loosely stored in toilets and bedrooms.
Director-General of the agency, Otunba Femi Ajayi, said the proliferation of hard drugs might have accelerated the wave of crime in Nigeria.
Wastes of mercury, lead and hydrogen were carelessly discharged in the surroundings and public drain. One of the production centres in Lagos is sighted very close to borehole supplying water to the neighbourhood.
A withered tree, suspected to have been “attacked” by toxic chemical used in formulating methamphetamine, a hard drug on the restriction list of the United Nations member states, was noticed in one of the compounds in Anambra State.
According to experts, Nigerians with cases of asthma, tuberculosis and related health conditions could have their situations compounded if they continue living close to the location.
“Even those without health conditions are very vulnerable to toxic effect of the drug formulation,” the Agency said.
In fact, there is a particular scary case in Anambra, where the drug baron cited his production facility in the basement of his house, just beside his mother’s bedroom and those of other family members.
The sites, according to experts, may not be habitable for years and may end up being demolished.
Anti-narcotics agents, two weeks ago, expressed the fear that illicit drug money entering Nigeria could be used to fester insurgencies, similar to the case in Mexico, Colombia and Afghanistan.
Already, NDLEA has been having discussions with environmental and drug experts at the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), United States and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) on how to decontaminate the houses and sites used for hard drugs production.
Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade
Sapeyi of Garki, Abuja, LAWMA Chief Executive express delight over Akingbade’s UN Climate Change Medal
Sapeyi of Garki, Abuja, LAWMA Chief Executive express delight over Akingbade’s UN Climate Change Medal
His Royal Highness, Alhaji(Dr) Usman Nga Kupi, the Sapeyi of Garki, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory and Mr. Ola Oresanya, the Managing Director of Lagos State Waste Management Authority have expressed delight over the United Nations/ Prince Albert II of Monaco Prize Medal won by The Guardian’s Tunde Akingbade’.
Alhaji Usman Nga Kupi, the King of Garki, Abuja and Mr. Oresanya expressed happiness over the award in Abuja and Lagos respectively noting that its a good sign that climate change coverage in Nigeria has been appreciated by the international body.
Akingbade, His Royal Highness (Dr) Alhaji Usman Nga Kupi and Nollywood actor, Emmanuel France in his palace in Garki, Abuja
Alhaji Kupi said in his palace in Abuja that there is need for all sectors in the Nigerian economy to join hands in the raising awareness to tackle the problem of climate change as well as environmental protection.
The Sapeyi of Garki called on the government to involve traditional institutions who are close to the people in the protection of the environment.
Speaking in the same vein in his office in Lagos, Mr. Oresanya said the award is a recognition of the reporter’s consistency and doggedness over the years in reporting the environment.
One of the stories which earned the reporter the award was done on Electronic Waste shipped to West Africa and the relationship to global warming.
Mr. Oresanya, MD, LAWMA,Akingbade and Mr. Wale Liadi, MD of Raask International Ltd
Akingbade with other journalists around the world won various prizes in different categories which included; climate change coverage, written media and broadcast journalism.
Akingbade received the Prince Albert II of Monaco award for his investigative stories on electronic waste and climate change with the role of the UN to curb the emissions of Carbon dioxide implicated in global warming as well as his investigations on Eko Atlantic City project in Lagos and the flooding of Okun Alfa in Lekki. The stories were published in The Guardian on Sunday between 2011 and 2012.
At the 2012 award ceremony, Mr. Ban Ki moon, Secretary General of the UN applauded the role of the media in uncovering truths, unmasking hypocrisy and unleashing change.
“Your stories have rightly sparked outrage and prompted action that has a meaningful impact on our world”, said Mr. Ki – moon.
He added that the fundamental right to freedom of the press is hard-won and constantly imperiled noting that all too often; entrenched interests have resorted to censorship, attacks and even murder to silence those who shine a light on the facts.
The Secretary – General said that the United Nations stands shoulder – to – shoulder with all journalists who are threatened for the so-called “crime” of exercising their human rights adding that “we are committed to defending freedom of the press and freedom of expression wherever these rights are in infringed.”
He told the media that “we will continue to do our best to help you tell the story of our work across the world.”
The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) which was the brain behind the global awards and organizers of the prestigious ceremony was founded in 1948 at Lake Success on Long Island where the UN was located pending completion of its East River Headquarters in Manhattan. In a statement made by UNCA, it noted that no one has yet been able to explain why UNCA archives have membership records dating 1942 before the UN was founded.
It was in 1992 that the executives of UNCA established the global media award for the best UN coverage, to help raise the prestige of the UN.
However first award was given to Mr. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received the UNCA Global Advocate of the Year Award for his leadership in protecting the comment and promoting clean energy while was energy, continued save to the environment as a private citizen.
Forest Whitaker, a distinguished humanist, artist and Visiting Professor at Ringling College of Art and Design also received UNCA Global Advocate of the Year Award.
Mr. Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President and J. Tuyet Nguyen, Awards Event Chairman said that the annual UNCA awards was to honour journalists who have excelled in their coverage of UN activities, and outstanding personalities who have contributed to humanitarian work around the world.
It was gathered that the first offer was one prize of 1,000 and by 2007 the prizes are almost $40,000.
In an acceptance statement to the UN, Akingbade said that he imbibed the spirit of development from his father, Adefemi Akingbade who worked for the UNICEF many years ago.
According to Akingbade, the former Editor of The Guardian on Sunday,. Jahman Anikulapo, Managing Director, The Guardian, Mr. Emeka Izeze, Editors of The Guardian and the production team gave him the platform to excel.
He thanked Prince Albert II of Monaco and UNCA for instituting a prize for Climate Change Coverage.
Other recipients of the various UN award are; Pamela Falk, CBS News TV & Radio, Raul Penaranda, Pagina Siete, Bolivia, Flavia Krause-Jackson, Bloomberg News, Mwaura Samora, Daily Nation, Kenya, Talal Al-Haj, Al Arabia News Channel, Mark Doyle and Piers Scholfield of BBC News and Natalia Montagna, Channel 10 Linea De Tiempo, Argentina. Others are; IPS, Collection of work (Thalif Deen, on behalf of IPS, Ameto Akpe, Business Day, Nigeria, Claudia Mayer and Kim Rigauer, ProSiebenSat.1, Hamburg, Zilluh Rahman, ATN Bangla Ltd, Bangladesh and Kristen Salloney, Al Jazeera English.
Names behind the UN Awards
Prince Albert of Monaco II
Prince Albert of Monaco and this foundation promotes sustainable and equitable management of natural sustainable and equitable management of natural resources and places the individual at the centre of projects. According to UNCA bulletin for the awards, the foundation “encourages the implementation of innovative and ethical solutions in three man areas, climate change biodiversity and water”.
Prince Albert II is the Head of State of Monaco. He schooled at Monaco’s Lycee Albert I, and Amherst College in Massachusetts, USA, where he studied political science, economics, psychology, philosophy and English literature.
An accomplished athlete who also took part in Olympics, the Prince has carried out humanitarian job all over the world.
Elizabeth Neuffer Award
The United Elizabeth Neuffer Nations awards included the Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial prize for written media. This award was sponsored by the Alexander Bodini Foundation who was Elizabeth Neuffer?
Neuffer was the Boston Globe Bureau Chief at the United Nations who died while on assignment in Baghdad in 2003. The UN describes her as “a model journalist who proved throughout her career that objectivity does not have to mean neutrality”.
“She was passionate, courageous and compassionate, drawing attention to the forgotten places over looked victims of war. She explored the forces that can ignite fratricidal and her work helped inspired the movement that led to the creation of the international criminal court.
Ricardo Ortega Award
UNCA describes Ortega as “one of the leading Spanish journalists of his generation”.
“His determination to bear witness first hand to what was happening around the world took him to dozens of countries. His war reporting from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Yugoslavia and Georgia was especially notable and he had a reputation for honesty, independence determination and courage shown, for example by his skeptical coverage of the evidence for Iragi WMD’s presented to UN”, says UNCA. Sadly, Ortega was killed in March, 2004 by gunfire while covering Haiti.
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PROFESSOR Chinua Achebe, the late literary icon and author of Things Fall Apart, A Man of the people, No Longer at Ease, The Trouble with Nigeria, Anthills of the Savannah, There was a Country… etc lived in a particular house when he was a lecturer at University of Nigeria, Nsukka. It was in the house that he wrote many of his works. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of Purple Hibiscus, Half a Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Neck and newly released AMERiCAH lived in the same house. Professor Adichie, Chimamanda’s father told me in an interview last time that he brought up his children including the renowned writer, Chimamanda up in the house where Professor Achebe lived.
When the Adichies lived in the house, they were unaware that Achebe had lived there. Last week, I found myself in Nsukka and the house where the two writers once lived through divine providence.
I then set out to find out the structure, nature and present occupants of the house that bred the Achebe’s and Adichies to determine if the house was haunted by creativity. Or perhaps a creative genie had been let out of the bottle inside the house many years ago!
Professor Michael Masukwe is the new occupant of the famous house of creative writing. Madukwe, a one-time Head of Agricultural Extension Services, Chairman, Drug Revolving Scheme of the University’s Medical Centre, also holds the post of National Coordinator, African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) Nigeria Chapter. We met by chance the previous night. It was at the residence of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bartholomew Okolo, when the visiting scientists from United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) France, United Kingdom, Japan and South Africa were being hosted after the establishment of the first African Centre of Biotechnology at the University. I whispered into the ears of Mr. Chido Nwakanma, my guide that I wanted to see the new occupant of Achebe’s old house.
Dr. Bennett Nwanguma, General Manager of UNN Bookshop, who was described by Nwakanma as the ‘Toyin Akinoso of Eastern Nigeria’ because of his love for books and criticism, walked into our company “this is the man who will know the present occupant,” said Nwakanma.
Nwanguma, an avid reader and orator with a vast knowledge in several fields, smiled and pointed in the opposite direction in the dark night. As if it were predetermined by forces beyond human reasoning, Prof. Madukwe walked towards our table.
“This is the man you are looking for,” said Nwanguma.
I seized the opportunity and immediately sought an interview. While the diner was going on, I was busy recording and storing the responses of Prof. Madukwe the new occupant of Achebe’s house. Prof. Madukwe affirmed this, but added that when he discovered this reality about the previous occupants, he realised that the Achebes and Adichies have set a high standard for him and his family and said amidst laughter, “I have read the two novels of Chimamanda. These achievers have kind of put pressure on me and my children”.
The new occupant, Prof. Madukwe is married to a food scientist. They have five children. All of them are doing science degree programmes. It seems that they are not inclined towards the arts, cultural issues and Cleast of all creative writing. However, Prof. Madukwe found it strange when one of his daughters came home one day with some strange modeling dresses. He asked his daughter what those dresses were meant for.
Alas, he was told the daughter had found a passion in modeling. The professor was alarmed. However, other colleagues prevailed on him not to discourage his daughter since she had all the characteristics and features of a model. The Professor then calmed down.
When asked if this house in Nsukka is not haunted by creativity, the Madukwe answered, “You are right. I believe it’s haunted”.
How did the Madukwes get themselves into this house of creativity? When Professor Adichie, Chimamanda’s father, wanted to retire from the university, he looked for a house outside the campus. Coincidentally, during the period, Professor Madukwe had told Professor Adichie that he would like to move into the campus. He discussed with Professor Adichie on the possibility of moving into the house. Things later worked out. It was months after Professor Madukwe had moved into the house that he heard the story that Professor Achebe earlier lived in the same house.
Professor Madukwe also has his hands on many intellectual pies. Recently, he has been working with international organisations on tackling the problem of climate change. He was able to get funding which would make the University of Nigeria, Nsukka work on the development of capacity of undergraduates and graduates on climate change issues. He is also involved in the curriculum development of the programme as well as other areas of popularization of science.
The old house of the Achebes and Adichies is a duplex, a simple, old architecture meant for one family. The sitting room, which this reporter observed from outside, is large and the surroundings are clean with dotting plants. However, not far away are lawns and trees that beautify the landscape. The neighbourhood is serene with many houses screened and sandwiched among the trees. The roads are tarred and one could take a walk anywhere and anytime of the day or simply sit anywhere to commune with the forces of nature and the God of creativity!
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THE new book by M.M Fahm entitled The Steel Bankeress (Grace Springs Africa Publishers, Lagos; 2013) is a great insight into what goes on in Nigerian banking sector. There is no ambiguity right from the beginning of the book. Even though the book is a work of fiction, in the prologue the reader is led to realise that the author is out to expose the undercurrents, the mess and recklessness which characterised the Nigerian banking sector in those years before Dr. Charles Soludo became Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.
As a teaser into her world of fiction, the author in the prologue vividly recalls how a particular bank had its four branches on just one side of a street within one kilometre on the Island. Very incredible method of recruitment was carried out by this bank where educational qualification did not matter but “extreme boldness and cut-throat business ethics” where the “female gender had the anxious edge over their contemporaries.
“Their glamorous and scandalous flamboyance could compare favorably with that of the Nigerian Nollywood filmmaking industry”, records Fahnn in the prologue. The book’s prologue gives a summary of the state of Nigerian banks at the turn of the 21st century. The real deal in this book of 600 pages is however in the power of narration and characterisation; the author strides through the banking sector highlighting the aggression, ambition, desperation, sophistication and diabolic attitudes which members of the public and most importantly, their customers could see.
The Steel Bankeress is a book about a woman of steel, a ruthless banker who has no feelings for her colleagues. It’s a well-written book about the pains and travails of bankers and the politics that are rooted in the banking hall.
The story centres around five main characters-the ruthless Pamela who is the Branch Manager of a bank; Rachael, her deputy; Enitan, another colleague; the pretty Adeola, who is a junior officer and Dr. Mayowa who runs a clinic in the city.
Pamela is desperate to become the Business Development Manager, which is a post higher than the Branch Manager. She is determined to uproot any colleague on her way to climb to the post. She threatens and harangues colleagues and subordinates in order to fulfill her ambition. She sees faults in everything Rachael her deputy does and bullies her. Enitan, their other colleague is not spared. The Steel Bankeress exposes all kinds of petty jealousy, rivalry and marginalization being carried out in the banking sector and how some female bankers can be mean.
Dr. Mayowa comes into focus when she brings her bogus medical business proposal and tries to open an account in the bank. The role she plays in the unfolding drama brings chaos and disaster into the lives of the other characters.
The story is full of dramatic irony and suspense, which will grip the reader from the beginning to the end. The author writes in simple and understandable language and her descriptive power is good. The activities and the roles of the men in the life of the female bankers are not left out. These men slug it out in rivalry and the consequence is disastrous.
Being a former banker herself, the author, Fahm has brought her deep knowledge and insight into play in highlighting a sector where she operated for years before moving on into another sector. This is a book that shows the reader that behind the glamour of the banking sector, there is cut-throat politics, rivalry, vindictiveness and unscrupulous drive to get to the top at all cost.
However, the title is a bit awkward; banker is a banker whether man or woman and so genderless. Fahm should just have titled her novel The Steel Banker and left the readers to find out for themselves the banker’s gender, although the illustration of feminine figures on the cover gives this away.
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Author of this article: By Tunde Akingbade