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‘I once ate Fela Kuti’s cake baked with marijuana and it landed me in a hospital’ – Senator Babafemi Ojudu

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Senator Babafemi Ojudu, the special adviser on Political Matters at the Presidency has revealed how following Fela Anikulapo Kuti on a trip and unknowingly eating his sponge cake, baked with marijuana, landed him in the hospital in Mushin, Lagos, in the 1990s.

Read his article below in celebration of 2019 Felabration..

This is Fela’s week. We must continue to thank Femi, Yeni and their siblings as well as the devotees of The Shrine for keeping the memory of our icon alive. What they are doing billions of Naira left by the rich could not do for the departed owner. Which is to say do what is worthy, and not stash up wealth and materials things. All of that will never keep your memory in the minds of the living.

This piece is on a lighter mood, an anecdote to further give us an idea of the free spirit of the man who had death in his pouch and will never die, our own Anikulapo – Kuti. I remember when Fela changed his name from Ransome – Kuti to Anikulapo- Kuti and his elder Brother was asked why he didn’t go with him in the change of name business, his retort was that Fela never discussed it with him. He went further to say “ I am a medical doctor who is trained to stave off death how then can I say I have death in my pouch.” Prof Olikoye had a wry sense of humour and he was a delight to be with particularly when in company of his maverick siblings. 

This is not the koko (focus) of this piece.

It is a different matter altogether. Read it and laugh. We all need laughter to ease the tension of these times.

Now you have seen the title of this piece. Don’t start judging me. I can see some of my enemies, old boy many

they are, saying ah amugbo ti e ni. No wonder ki gbo, ki gba ( he a hemp smoker; no wonder he is stubborn). No, I never smoked and will not do although I love the swag of the revolutionary Che Guevara holding the tobacco.

Do try and read this as you follow me on a journey with Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapo – Kuti. 

This is not astral travel. It is real. It was a journey I made with him in 1990(? ).

Beko Ransome Kuti and his comrades in trouble, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana,  Baba Omojola and I think that young man then, Mayegun, the one with dada (dreadlocks) hair on his head made a lot of noise in Lagos questioning the authority of Ibrahim Babangida, our then military President. 

I learnt the man with the gap-tooth had sleepless nights. Our activist brothers even threatened to organize a sovereign national conference. The conference was not the problem but the word ‘sovereign’ just as now that protest is not the problem but the phrase ‘revolution now’. Let me not put my feet on a treason ground, a dangerous path to tread. 

As I was saying our brothers, (no woman among them), the Beijing Conference had not held then, were arrested and taken to Abuja. Before we could locate them they have been charged with treasonable felony and remanded in Kuje Prison.

Hearing in their case was to come up in a Kuje Magistrate Court some days after to determine if they qualified to be bailed or not. 

To cut a long story short and not delay this trip, we the activists, from veterans to rookies mobilized to give support to our comrades in Abuja on the chosen day.

Fela too was not left out. The abami eda hardly left his house except when on foreign tours or had a show in some parts of Nigeria. He offered to be part of the Lagos crowd storming Abuja. It was exciting that he chose to go. There will be drama with his presence and that we reasoned will provide a good copy for the media both local and international.

It was my lot to travel with him and some of his aides as well as three of his numerous wives. Apart from we humans he had with him, there were three pillows and a big piece of home-baked cake. The pillows were meant to support his bum. He suffered then from a chronic case of haemorrhoid. The cake was to be our snack to and fro.

As we set out he regaled us with stories. You cannot but laugh at Fela stories. He said looking back he considers himself stupid for singing “ my darling valentine” at a point in his musical career. He made jest of Beko and his human rights campaigner crowd and said a lot of self-deprecating things.

I didn’t only enjoy stories but guffaw as I helped myself with his my share of his cake. I have never had any cake that delicious. I learnt from him it was called sponge cake. Sponge cake? Iyen tun yato (that is different). The onijekuje (glutton) that I was then, had a fill going to Abuja and returning!

Fela got to Abuja, spread his mat on the floor in front of the court and laid face down while people trooped to see abami himself. It was a rare life opportunity, particularly for northerners who had heard of him but had never seen him live.

Case called. The accused persons to our utter surprise were granted bail. Of course, there had been an outcry in the media and internationally. Bail was a face-saving measure for the then Babangida regime. There was jubilation and back-slapping. Lagos here we come. Abuja was like a no-no for many of us at that time. It was a bourgeois enclave where we reasoned the national wealth was stolen.

We set out. Fella puffed on his Obiaruku jumbo wrap. We became passive smokers. 

It was not only that day I have passive smoked Igbo around Fela. If you were a journalist at this period or human rights activist, you have a sit at a special location at the Shrine. Dele Omotunde, that great journalist, now a Redeem Church pastor, Lanre Arogundade, Femi Falana, Chuzi Udenwa, also now a pastor in the US among several others, were devotees of the Shrine and we had our special place then. I once returned home one day at about 4.00 am and had my headlight and my gaze and steps not stable. It took three days of sleeping before I recovered.

On our way back from Abuja to Lagos, I continued sponging on  Fela’s cake. We arrived Akure and decided to refuel and empty our bowels. Chief Fawehinmi visited the bathroom. We almost lost him that night. If you know how spiritedly he walked you will imagine what I am talking about. Not seeing the drainage on his path he slipped into it one leg first and fell hard. We rushed to pull him up. It was scary. We thanked God then he didn’t hit his head on the concrete floor.

We proceeded on our journey to Lagos eating Fela’s sponge as if it was going out of fashion. We arrived Lagos and I left for my home. The following morning I found myself in the heart of Mushin where Beko had his clinic being attended to by Dr Balogun. No one could explain what the matter was with me. I couldn’t decode it neither the doctor could. It was assumed it was exhaustion. And I was placed on intravenous drip.

Later in the evening, Beko came to see me on my sickbed as he resumed his daily consultation at the poor folks’ enclave. 

“What is the matter with you”, he asked.

Feeling dizzy, couldn’t stand on my feet and my head spinning, I told him. What did you eat in the morning? Nothing, I said. What of yesterday, he asked? I only had cake, I told him. “You bought it”, he asked. I took from the cake Fela brought along to Abuja, I said. 

“Ha ha ha”, he smiled wryly. “O lo je cake Fela ?” ( you ate Fela’s cake)? Igbo lo je yen ( you ate Indian hemp. It was then I discovered that Fela baked his cake with hemp soaked water.

Happy Felabration!

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Rivers, Imo Teachers Shine As Promasidor Marks World Teachers Day With Special Cowbellpedia Teacher’s Mathematics TV Quiz Show

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It was a reversal of roles for teachers last weekend as Promasidor Nigeria Limited, makers of “Cowbell, Our Milk”, marked the 2019 World Teachers Day with special (Teacher’s edition) of Cowbellpedia Mathematics Quiz Show to celebrate the teachers.

The twelve teachers, who produced the finalists in the Junior and Senior categories of the 2018 edition of the competition, contested for honours and prizes.

In the Junior category, Mr Paul Fase of Graceland International School, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, outclassed others with 105 points, to win the star prize. Fase was the teacher of Favour Okarike who emerged as second runner-up in 2018 finals.

On the heels of Fase was Kayode Adebayo, a teacher from The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State who garnered 95 points to emerge as first runner-up, while Godwin Udom, his counterpart from the same school, scored 75 point to become the second runner-up.

Adebayo’s student, Master Akinleye Akinfoluhan was the junior category champion in the 2018 edition while Udom’s pupil, Loluwa Abiodun was a finalist.

Other teachers who also participated in the contest but fell by the way side include Beckley Daniel of Welkin International School, Ota, Ogun State; Hamzat Dankanawa a teacher from  Nigerian Tulip International College (Boys) Abuja and David Akuru from Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Fase with a five years’ experience in the teaching profession, expressed gratitude to God for winning, maintaining that he now appreciates what the students are going through. “It is very easy to blame the students for lack of speed and for errors, but I now know it is not that easy,” he admitted.

In the Senior category, Ebock Inah-Ngulu, a teacher from Federal Government College, Owerri, Imo State, got the crown with 75 points. His student, Jessica Austine, was a finalist last year.

Christopher Olasupo of Graceland International College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and Anfani Egbeyemi of The Ambassador College, Ota, Ogun State came second and third respectively. Olasupo’s student, Chinedu Mgbemena was the 2018 senior category champion, while Egbeyemi taught Enoch Adenekan, a 2018 finalist.

The trio successfully shrugged off the challenge from Oladipo Olatunde of The Ambassador College; Olalekan Olowe from Reality High School, Ilesha, Osun State and Samson Otunubi, a teacher from Federal Government Academy, Suleja, Niger State.

All the teachers commended Promasidor for the initiative which they described as a big morale booster for teachers across the country, adding that teaching requires passion, but teaching Mathematics demands a ‘special anointing’ because of the nature of the subject and the misconception by students and parents.

The students will come back to ‘battle’ this weekend as the semi-finals of the Cowbellpedia Quiz Show continues with 36 students jostling for 12 final slots. The airing also continues on DSTV Africa Magic Family Channel, AIT Network and other six television stations across the country.

Aside the N2 million grand prize, Managing Director of Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Mr. Anders Einarsson disclosed that the winner in each category, (Junior and Senior) will enjoy an all-expense paid educational excursion outside the country at the end of the initiative.

In addition, the first and second runners-up in each category will receive N1.5 million and N1 million respectively, while the teachers of the top prize winners will be awarded N500, 000. Those of the first and second runners-up will receive N400, 000 and N300, 000 respectively.

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Sultan of Sokoto reveals how to end security challenges in Nigeria

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President-General of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has called for the development and adoption of homegrown solutions to the security challenges facing the country.

Abubakar made the call in Sokoto on Monday, during a Town Hall Meeting on Security Matters organised by the Sultanate Council in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Sokoto State council, NAN reports.

Abubakar decried the rising security threats in the northern region.

He emphasized the need for a strong partnership between political leaders and traditional rulers towards finding lasting solutions to the challenges.

The Sultan expressed disappointment over the alleged involvement of some traditional rulers in the activities of armed bandits in parts of Zamfara.

He advocated prosecution of any traditional ruler involved in the supporting banditry and other criminal activities.

Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto called for the strengthening of all law enforcement agencies and other institutions that promote peace in the country.

Tambuwal lamented the shortage of manpower in some of the security agencies, stressing the need for a total review of the nation’s security architecture.

He also called for more funding and proper intelligence gathering as well as collaboration with the traditional institution for better results.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three key speakers; Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd), Emir of Zamfara, Alhaji Muhammad Attahiru-Ahmad and Prof. Tukur Baba of Federal University Birnin Kebbi presented papers at the meeting.

The lecturers dwelled on the need for drastic approaches to security matters, overhauling of security structures, community involvement in tracking security breaches, increased professional training and viable economic empowerment at all strata of the society.

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Buhari govt insists on VAT increment, gives reason

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Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.

She said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.

Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.

Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.

“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance”, NAN quoted her as saying.

“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.

“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”

According to her, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.

Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.

The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.

Estimates for non-oil revenue consisted of N799.52 billion from CIT, N229.34 billion from VAT and Customs Duties of N302.55 billion.

The 2019 budget was predicated on oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day at 60 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.

On the issue of border closure, she said only the main borders that were manned by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other security operatives were closed.

She added that the nation had seen the benefits of the closure and that though there were some challenges, the NCS and the committee working on the borders closure was looking at how to ease some of the difficulties.

“It has to be Nigeria first and we have to protect our own industries because some of our neighbours have been flagrantly abusing commitments that we jointly signed to and the President has said this is no longer acceptable.

“The border closure is not forever, there will be an end date, the Federal Government is currently in discussion with governments of our neighbouring countries Niger and Benin Republic.

“We are negotiating to make sure that the challenges that led to the closure of the borders are addressed on both sides but, especially that our neighbors meet the commitments that we signed unto several years ago.

“Once those discussions are concluded, the borders will be opened again,” she said.

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