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Sunday, 13 December 2015

OPINION: Time To Give and Inspire, By Dele Momodu

OPINION:
Nigerians, let me start by emphasising that there is no task bigger than empowering our youths and liberating them from abject poverty. I sincerely do not envy President Muhammadu Buhari in this regard. Most of our youths nowadays believe government can do it all but in reality this is impossible. There are different ways we can ameliorate the suffering of the unemployed. Government can only handle a tiny fraction of the humongous challenges while the rest of us must come up with creative ways of doing things.
The first key that can unlock the door of prosperity is education. Education is one of the greatest levellers in the world. The son of a certified pauper can become a celebrated man of means in little time if properly educated. The second key is inspiration. The world has reached where it is today because of the incredible vision of certain entrepreneurs who decided to make the world better than they met it. Whosoever can create job opportunities and provide employment for his people must be commended and encouraged. We must learn from the stories of their lives. That is why I’m in love with biographies. Life is not always a bed of roses as many imagine. Until you listen to what successful people went through in life, you never know how far they’ve come through thick and thin.
The key that is missing in Nigeria is Hope. That is why a lot of our youths snap at the slightest opportunity and see every successful man as the cause of their misery and frustration. This fact was amplified by one gentleman I call Professor Socrates, Mr Leke Alder. I had approached him in 2007 and told him of my vision to start something in form of a Christmas festival and he told me to give him a few days. I was stunned when we met later in his office and he made a presentation to our team on what the show should be called and what our goal should be. Pronto, he told us HOPE should be our watch word. And it came to pass.
Not many would remember that the Nigerian entertainment industry had not grown so big in 2007. D’banj and Don Jazzy were just warming up. Wande Coal and Dr Sid were apprentices working hard to become the megastars they are today. Tiwa Savage was not yet a household name. Banky W had just returned from his sojourn in the United States. Olu Maintain had not released his bazooka Yahooze. We didn’t know of MI. Ice Prince Zamani was still incubating. Wiz Kid was still a kid truly. Yemi Alade was virtually rehearsing. Waje was growing slowly and steadily. Davido was still David without O. Ovation Red Carol came from the blues and provided that platform of HOPE already erected by Globacom. They changed the lives and lifestyles of our entertainers. Before the extraordinary intervention of Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr. (GCON) most of our artists had fame without money. They lived perilously in penury. Globacom changed that forever by splashing millions of dollars yearly on our talented stars in music, movies and comedy. Sports was later added big time.
We drew our inspiration from that singular act of Dr Adenuga, the tireless bull, who chose to bring the Hollywood treat closer home. We moved out on the field to start the journey. Ideas are useless without support but we’ve always been blessed by God with the power of making and keeping good company.
One man stood stoutly with the dream at the time and rolled out with the train of empowering our youths. He is no other than Mr Tony O. Elumelu, (CON) the Chairman of Heirs Holdings and the global Bank, United Bank for Africa. The Ovation Red Carol brand grew so big that we expanded it to Ghana and we were fortunate to secure the backing of Africa’s telecommunications giant GLOBACOM as our lead sponsors in 2013 and 2014. We have been able to bring African artists together under one roof. Artists from South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Togo, and other countries performed at our shows. We kept growing and ready to fly across the wolrld.
We glow with pride whenever we look back at the unlimited exposure we’ve given to our young talents. Every year, we get numerous requests from up and coming artists wishing to use our platform to launch their careers as they always blow bigger soon thereafter. It is our humble and modest contribution to the development of African entertainment. We are eternally grateful to everyone who ever lifted a helping hand to support this vision. As Chief Moshood Abiola was fond of saying, “the hand of the giver is always on top,” they will never lack.
If we thought we had good shows in the past, Globacom has decided to take us to a different level. I do not want to go into too much detail yet but Globacom has issued a release about its plans to host a mother of all carols this year. There can be no doubt about what Globacom is bringing on the table. No company in Africa has repeatedly committed so much energy and resources to sports and entertainment, an area that had always been ignored by government. In terms of class and panache, Globacom is never timid. This is what the company released to the media and we were deeply touched by the accolades showered on us:
“The 2015 edition of the annual Ovation Carol scheduled to hold on Sunday, 20th December, 2015 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos has received comprehensive support from Next Generation Network, Globacom.
To headline this year’s Ovation Carol is one of America’s living music legends, Evelyn Champagne King and one of the most illustrious and philosophical musicians Africa has ever produced, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi.
They will be joined by Glo brand ambassadors, Ayo Balogun popularly known as Wizkid, Omawumi Megbele and other top rated African musicians who have promised to give Nigerians and other international guests attending the event a memorable yuletide.
“In line with our tradition of adding value to worthwhile ventures, we are sponsoring the Ovation Carol to celebrate African music, fashion and culture. We have particularly chosen to support the Ovation Carol because we share the noble objective of the organizers of the Carol to use the platform not only to give sublime entertainment at this time of the year but more importantly to raise funds for various charity initiatives. It aligns with our avowed commitment to ensuring mirth for others in this season of goodwill to mankind”, Globacom said in a statement.
The company expressed its delight with Ovation magazine for carving a niche for itself in celebrity journalism by pushing the frontiers of magazine productions in aesthetics, pagination and contents:
“Carols are moments during which Christians appreciate, through melodious songs, the great sacrifice which the birth of Jesus signifies. They retell the story of love, redemption and regeneration which Christ stands for. In like manner, we would like to enjoin humanity to embrace peace, Godliness, empathy for others and sacrifice for the good of others in order for us to live more fulfilling lives as creatures of God who should not be divided by the banalities of this world”, Globacom noted.
“The Ovation Carol which started in 2007 has become one of the biggest and most sought after ceremonies during the Yuletide. The high octane event which brings together a galaxy of music stars from across the world under the atmosphere of praise, worship and entertainment, will be beamed live in Nigeria, across Africa and worldwide,” Globacom revealed.
What more can we add? The charity aspect of the event would be announced during the show. Our priority had always been in the area of education though we had supported hospices and the building of health centres in the past. Let the show begin.
LET’S GIVE BUHARI A CHANCE
Despite the hullabaloo surrounding the six-month old government of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, I wish to remain one of the die-hards who would not write him off yet.
I had the chance of sitting with one of the Ministers the other day and he was able to take us through some of the challenges being faced by President Buhari. For example, he described the state of hopelessness inherited by him in May 2015 and said only God knows what would have happened if PDP had returned to power. He said the past administration had spent and stolen the country dead and Buhari and his economic team are now under pressure to find ways out of the cul-de-sac they’ve found themselves.
There were other revelations he made especially on the mind-boggling issue of corruption. I told him I agreed with some of his submissions but there are few things to be done by the government. First they need to reach out more powerfully to the people and explain the true situation of things. There seems to be a lot of confusion in the land. The anti-corruption war has become a drama whereby government and the embattled parties are busy exchanging brickbats daily. Cases should be prosecuted as soon as possible in the law courts instead of trying to get judgment from the courts of the people. No matter what happens, there is no way of convicting anyone on the pages of newspaper.
Two, government must make up its mind about the oil subsidy regime. Difficult decisions would have to be made as it is practically impossible to hide behind one finger. The scarcity of petroleum products in a land overflowing with oil has become too embarrassing and unbearable. Something drastic has to be done. The fear of taking risks should be removed as there is no alternative on ground.
President Buhari is very lucky to have what is lacking in most leaders; integrity. I don’t know much about the coterie of aides around him but the President will obviously not do deals. This makes it easy for Nigerians to trust him with their lives. As one of Nigeria’s biggest tycoons described him to us “the atmosphere will never be conducive to discuss deals with Buhari…” This is his biggest asset and the reason I would plead once more that those criticising him should exercise some patience. Nigeria degenerated so much in the past many years and it won’t be fixed in under one year.
May God bless our leaders with uncommon sagacity.

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