September was birthday month for some Ibadan Big Boys, but they decided not to celebrate. They include Demola Ojo, Olamiju Akala, Hon. Demola Ojo(former ALGON Chairman), Yinka Omikunle, the popular socialite who had a small shinding. By the way, good-looking Yinka is one of the best party hosts in Ibadan. He travelled to UK a day after his birthday. Otunba Lekan Abass and Yinka Omikunle are both birthday mates.Femi Laniyan was born in September as well as Abimbola Davies, who now spends a lot of time in Dubai. He is the representative of the Middle-East Royal Family and their 103 companies in Africa. But what do these Big Boys have in common? First, they are happening ultra-stylish Ibadan Big Boys. Abimbola Davies’ Vertu costs £7,000 in London. He ‘dashed’ out Porshe Blackberry to friends as souvenirs.
•OBA Of BENIN’s Daughter, AIBI EREDIAUWA
Princess Aibi Erediauwa, the 2nd daughter of Oba of Benin Kingdom, Omonoba Erediuwa, is one hard working lady who sits atop a multimillion naira fashion house, Pages in the heart of Benin City . The Lawyer turned fashion designer started her fashion business about 3 years ago and she has been able to build it into a big brand such that fashionistas and fashion designers from Lagos and other states usually patronize her. She owns an international standard factory where she manufactures her stuffs. All her stuffs are made in Benin and one would mistake them for foreign products. She makes shoes, cloths , and everything that has to do with making people turn out very good and beautiful. Timilehin Ajagunna visited her state of the art office, at 10, Ihama Road, Benin City, during which she spoke on how she built her fashion house into a big brand.
Can your tell us how your journey into fashion began?
I’ve always been a lover of fashion. I love cloths a lot, and I spent a lot buying cloths. So it occurred to me one day that instead of buying peoples cloths I can actually manufacture mine and that was what inspired my fashion outfit.
So when did you fashion line come into existence?
I would say 2008. I came back from U.K that same year and I kicked off immediately. And starting the business, I faced a lot to make people accept my vision because at that time many people would prefer to buy stuffs from foreign country.
Tell us how you were able to make people accept it?
It was very rough, because my stuffs are made in Nigeria. They know you and they know who made it, so they tend to look down on it. It is the same experience every manufactures in this country go through. So it was difficult for people to accept my designs , but I started doing slippers for my dad and my siblings, so the encouragement I got from my own people made it possible for me to actually go ahead. So, I decided to make my designs good as the Georgio Armani, the Versace and the rest and that has actually helped me to grow my brand.
Four years in the business, looking back how has the journey been?
It’s not been easy. The journey has been rough and I have sacrificed a lot for it. People have messed up loans, so getting loans has been very difficult. And if you don’t have money you can’t grow your business. And again, people are not patronizing you because they don’t believe in what you are doing. But with the support of my family and the passion I have for the business has made me succeed in it.
Before you delved into this business what were you into?
Before I came back to start the fashion business, I was studying law in U.K. But I never practiced Law. I have always love to be a fashion designer but my dad wanted me to study law. You know there is this thing about social status. I have a royal background and my dad never wanted me to go into fashion, but it took me to wake up one day to say this is what I want to do.
Since your dad never wanted you to go into fashion, how did you convince him about your desire to do it?
The kind of person my dad is, he won’t stop you from actualizing your dream, but he would really love me to be a Lawyer. So when I came back to the country, I told him, dad I don’t want to practice Law, this is what I want and he said you want to be a shoemaker, (laughs). So, remembering the encounter my brother had when he was about floating “Hexagon Club”, my dad said to him, so you are trying to be a Bar man? But now, Hexagon is into so many things. So I took a queue from him and I did 2 pairs of slippers for my dad and he liked it. So, whenever I am making new designs , I always make for him. So, he asked me one day, what is my Business Plan and I told him that it is not going to be a small outfit, it is something that is going go out of Benin, I gave him my strategies and all that. So each time I am going through some challenges, he will ask me if I want to shutdown, and I will let him know that I am probably not getting it right this way, maybe I will do it the other way. And now he is fully in support of what I do, he calls me “Lawyer Shoemaker”.
When did you launch Pages officially?
I started fully in 2009, but it was officially launched in December 2011. Between 2009 and then, I was doing research and setting up a quality factory where I can make stuffs that are of international standard.
Being the daughter of one of the most respected Monarchs in Nigeria, how has that affected you?
My status as Oba of Benin’s daughter has affected my business negatively and positively. Negatively in the sense that, whenever I go out to market my brand people don’t take me serious, they will be like your father is rich, why do you have to sell cloths, they feel I don’t have to stress myself doing this because he is my dad. Again, it is really hard for me to get loan, because they believe that my dad can give me the money I need to grow my business. But life is not like that. I am not the only child he has, so I have to work. The positive side, having him as my father has really helped my publicity, I get to know more prominent people who have been patronizing me. Aside that, I enjoy what I do, he didn’t bring me up as a spoilt child, so I have to work hard. I have tried as much as possible not to let the royal background cloud my dream.
How was growing up like?
Growing up was fun. I have a dad who is very caring. I had my primary school education as UNIBEN Staff School and my secondary education at Federal Government College Benin. I did Diploma at UNIBEN before I left for U.K. in 1999. I studied Law at Thames Valley University and I also did some courses at London Metropolitan University.
How did you arrive at the name of you fashion house, Pages? Of course Pages of the Bible. You did a fashion concert last year in Benin, what inspired it?
We started it last year. Its called Chronicles of pages. We are still going have more editions.. It may be a seasonal, it may be yearly. The event is about us, it 10 to seasonal what we do Pages is made in Nigeria by Nigerians. So the event is also to showcase these young guys who are picked from the street that I behind what we produce.
The story of Mile One Part fly-over in Port Harcourt, popularly known as the Lion’s Den because it houses Street Urchins was rewritten by Media Workz Entertainment, powered by Mr. Isaac Utere, as he took the spot by storm with “Day Time Thriller,” a gathering of entertainers to celebrate Nigeria’s 52nd Independent Anniversary. The event which was huge success, was fun galore all through the 6 hours it lasted as all the popular street boys and girls gathered to enjoy the best of Port Harcourt based musicians and comedians. The mammoth crowd which gathered couldn’t help but call for more. Among the artists who performed were 4tune, Soty, Vitamicee, Neebuen, Joke-Apart, Moyen and lots more. Mr. Isaac who is Port Harcourt’s Number 1 stage builder, promise to bring Garden City Entertainers into national spotlight with frequent master piece show event.
Port Harcourt big boy, Uchenna Benelh last week opened a multimillion naira Italian Restaurant in the heart of the Garden City, Port Harcourt. Located at 29 Ada George Road, Mile 4, the state-of-the-art restaurant serves varieties of Italian dishes at low cost. Labelled Iddu’s, the Italian Restaurant is the second franchise outlet in the world. Uchenna Beneth is a Uniport graduate. He got the franchise to float Iddu’s in Nigeria when he travelled to Italy for his Masters degree. He is however, planning to open more outlets in other parts of the country.
•Hotel Presidential’s Former GM, PER STEFSEN
Per Stefsen, a Danish throughbred hotel manager is a popular man in Port Harcourt owing to the fact that he ran the prestigious Hotel Presidential for 5 years before he left. He is well loved by the people of Port Harcourt and he has contributed in no small measure to the entertainment industry by giving artistes access to make use of the hotel hall for concerts. He developed the hotel before he parted ways with the management few months ago. For his contribution to the hospitality business in Port Harcourt. Mr Per was honoured with a chieftaincy title few weeks back, he opened up to City People on why he left Hotel Presidential. “I left Hotel Presidential because my contract expired. I have managed the hotel for several years and it is not all the time that you feel everything you do is correct. Maybe they were expecting more from me, but all I know is that my contract expired and I was hoping they would extend it but they didn’t. Was there any reason whatsoever why his contract was not extended? “I know they were quite happy with what I did. When I came to the place, there was basically nothing and I ensured that I improved on the facilities. I managed the hotel for 5 years and until I left the hotel was growing 100 per cent and when I meet people they all tell me that I did a great job,” he said.
While he was the manager, Mr. Per encouraged a lot of entertainment activities in the hotel. He on several occasions gave out the hotel hall for free. When asked on what he was trying to achieve with the concept, he said “the idea was to promote the name by hosting different entertainment activities, hotel is not just for guests who are lodging. I see it as a tourist centre and that was what I was trying to achieve by encouraging people to come do show by supporting them with what we can” Chief Per has since moved on to manage a new hotel, Royal Vantage, located on Rotimi Amaechi drive, GRA. “Royal Vantage is a small hotel, it has 217 rooms. It is a good hotel and I am still working, I have not done it up to my satisfaction because I want it up to standard. It came into existence barely 8 weeks ago. Per Stefson hails from Denmark. He has been in hotel management about 45 years ago. He left his country in 1992, moving from one country to another, setting up and managing hotels. “I left my country in 1992 and I haven’t been back since. I have been to Czech Republic, Russia, Malta, etc and I have managed over 15 hotels,” he said. Why did he choose to come to Nigeria? “ I came to Nigeria in 2007. I was contacted to come and manage Hotel Presidential and that was what actually brought me here. I love everything about Nigerians. When my contract expired, I should have gone back but I decided to stay here” And again, there are few hotels that are up to standard in Nigeria, so this is what I want to try and achieve before I leave. I want to set up my own company here so that I can help people in setting up a good hotel. I have another hotel that I will be managing soon, it is about 86 rooms. On why he delved into hotel business, the bubbly man said, “I love people, I love hospitality. I am a very sociable person, and I think this is what I am born to do. There was a time I tried working in a bank, I had to pull out again to do my hotel business.”
The story making the rounds in Rivers State at the moment is that Governor Amaechi and his predecessor, Sir Celestine Omehia have reconciled their age-long face-off and forged ahead in peace and harmony. As the story goes, a revered cleric, Most Reverend Katty and Archbishop of the Niger Delta Most Diocese of the Anglican Communion brokered peace between Omehia and Amaechi in his church during a thanksgiving service in honour of Commissioner for Justsice and Attorney-General of the state who has just been elected the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Following this, the media was awash with news that they have reconciled.
However, Omehia had denied ever reconciling with the incumbent governor. He however issued a press statement maintaining that it is fight to finish. His spokesperson, Mr. Barth Emuekpere Omohie reacted to the story saying that the re conciliation at the church was a comic arrangement.
According to him, the reconciliation move was an ambush. He said his boss was at the church to honour his friend, Okey Wali (SAN) and was not at the church for peace to be brokered between him and Amaechi. While the service was on, the Archbishop requested that both Chibuike Amaechi and Celestine Omehia present themselves before the altar of God and have a handshake of forgiveness and reconciliation. Amaechi, according to him was the first to jump out and Omehia reluctantly came out. He initially refused to step out but he was persuaded to obey the Archbishop by the celebrant. He however, came out and on his own part mindful of the implication of taking a vow before the presence of God’s Consciousness and not keeping it only replied “My Lord, we’ll Get Back To You.”
After they went back to their seats, Amaechi was given an opportunity to address the congregation and he began to abuse opposition party, saying that the only credible party is PDP. This however, got Celestine more infuriated.
Mr. Barth Emuekpere described the purported reconciliation between Sir Celestine Omehia and Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi as laughable. According to him. “They are not children who probably disagreed over a bar of chocolate and so can’t be called out of a congregation, possibly given a bar each and told to shake hands on the name of reconciliation. They are politicians with ideological and political differences and to assume that such differences have been reconciled by merely being called out and made to shake hands is to put nicely, deceptive. The man of God simply called them out, admonished and prayed for them to reconcile as brothers in the interest of the state.” He went further to state that “even the Bishop is not ignorant of the fact that lasting and sustainable reconciliation can not be achieved by calling aggrieved parties out of a congregation for settlements. Settlements are done behind closed doors and not in public. However, we are mindful of the fact that sponsors of such fallacy are doing so in the interest of scoring cheap political points, but will be shocked that supporters of Sir Celestine Omehia are committed supporters who can not be dissuaded with such cheap strategy. It is advisable that they return to the drawing board for more refined strategies.”
- Timi Ajagunna
•Senator MUSILIU OBANIKORO’s Son, BABAJIDE
After one year of legal tussle, the Local Government Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja, Lagos last week declared Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro, son of popular politician, and immediate past Nigeria High Commissioner to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro the duly elected Chairman of Ikoyi/Obalende Local Council Development Area. The 5-man tribunal headed by Justice Dolapo Akinsanya (rtd) ruled that Obanikoro was the lawful winner of the election held on 0ctober 22, 2011. The tribunal ruled that Obanikoro who was the candidate of the PDP in the election won with 3,780 votes as against 3,248 votes scored by Adewale Adeniji of the ACN. When the judgement was delivered last Thursday, Babajide Obanikoro was away in London. He however spoke with TOPE AILERU in this interview from his base in London on the development. He spoke about his experience during the one year legal tussle and the role his dad played in seeing him actualizing his political ambition. He also talked about the next moves he will be making following the landmark judgement he got from the tribunal, his relationship with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and other Lagos ACN bigwigs among other issues. Excerpts.
How did you receive the news that the Election Petition tribunal has declared you the winner of the Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA in Lagos and how did you feel after you got the news?
I was not in Lagos as at the time the tribunal was giving the judgment, but I have my ears on the ground. So my absence at the court was actually not obvious. The struggle is not just about me, but rather a collective effort of my party, my supporters and my campaign team. We had a strong team on ground at the court. When I got the news of the judgment through the phone, I received it with so much joy. I was highly impressed that the tribunal could upturn LASIEC’s decision to declare my opponent in the election winner, when it was so obvious that I was the actual winner. I feel so glad about the development and I give all the glory to Almighty Allah.
All the while you were fighting the legal battle, did you have the conviction that the tribunal will rule in your favour or you had your doubts?
It was actually a mixture of many things. From the outset, I have been very confident that the decision of the tribunal was going to be in my favour. My confidence was boosted when the respondent was unable to present any evidence against our claims. However, as the proceedings progressed, I started having some fear. In my case, I was also fighting for 3 other PDP councilors to have their mandate restored. Things however took a new twist when the tribunal dismissed the case of 2 of them. At that time, I became really scared. I even became more scared when the case of the PDP candidate in Badagry Local Government whom I thought also had a good case was dismissed. But despite all the doubts, I was still confident that we will have victory.
So, what is your next line of action going to be?
We will be studying the developments that will follow the tribunal’s judgement. I think the law should be obeyed without further delay. However, if our opponents feel they still have further legal means they want to explore, we will be preparing for them. In the absence of this however, we are ready to commence all the processes that will usher us into office, including the swearing-in, so that we can begin to put our programmes in place to better the lots of our people.
What is your impression about the PDP in Lagos state? A lot of people believe the party does not have a strong structure in Lagos?
I am going to leave that to the leaders of the party in the state to judge.
But do you see a brighter political future for yourself in the party in Lagos?
Of course, every politician must surely work for his future. Though it is good to belong to a strong political party, what is more important is the work the politician is able to do for himself. The people of Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA have reposed much confidence in my team and that made them gave me the mandate at the polls. The onus is now on me to deliver unto them all that I have promised them and that will also go a long way in determining what the future will be like.
Tell us about the trying moments you went through in the course of this ambition?
It has been a long, taxing journey. It has been an onerous task since the time I contested for the House of Assembly in 2011. Before the election, it was obviously a tall mountain to climb for anyone from another party to challenge the ACN in Lagos. So during the local government election, LASIEC played many pranks to frustrate us. One of the things they did was to disenfranchise many of our supporters on the day of the election. On that day, they did not deliver election materials to areas where we have strong presence. But despite all their pranks, we stood against all odds to get victory. The task became harder when the final results of the election were rigged and the candidate of the ACN was declared winner. During the battle at the tribunal, the ACN and LASIEC also did everything possible to frustrate our case. Their respondents tried so many times to always have the case adjourned. In fact, before we could do our final submissions, we had like 4 adjournments. However, I must appreciate the effort of my vice, Jubril Miringa, my campaign manager and team, the IBO Crew, our party members and the media who played a very big role in the actualization of our mandate.
Tell us about the role your dad, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro played in the whole issue. A lot of people believe he is the major force behind you?
He played all the roles of a father that everyone would have expected of him. He gave me all the support I needed for me to actualize my ambition. He supported us financially, physically and in every way. On the day of the election, he stood against all the odds from the ACN to make sure all the votes were counted, which was not easy. You were aware of the reports then that he even escaped death by the whiskers as he was shot at by ACN thugs. He has been there from the beginning.
There is this gist going round that you may have entered into a pact with the ACN and that was why the tribunal ruled in your favour.
The gist goes on to say that when you eventually get to the office, you may likely dump the PDP for ACN. What will you say about this?
Apart from the personal platonic relationship I have with most of the top shots in the ACN in Lagos State, I don’t have any other dealings with them. I have relationships with many of the ACN bigwigs in the State, including Asiwaju Tinubu, but I can tell you categorically that I do not have any pact with the party and neither do I have any plan to defect to the party anytime in the future.
Will you agree with the fact that the success you are recording in politics today is built on your dad’s name and influence in Lagos politics. Of course I can’t deny that fact. But I must also say that it is one thing to have the opportunity and it is another thing to make a good use of it. It is obvious that my dad has built a big name in Lagos politics, which I am building on today. But on the other hand, it places a big responsibility on my shoulders. I have a big task of living up to the name and also do even better. I however thank God for blessing me with good parents, brothers and sisters who have always been there for me.