Sunday, June 28, 2015

PHOTOS: Natasha Akpoti kicks of Enterprise Hunt in Okene

Natasha displays a rare work made from shredded cloth pieces
By Ismail M. Kabir

Founder of Builders Hub Impact Investment project, Barr. Natasha Akpoti has kicked off her much publicized Enterprise Hunt, an initiative that targets 1000 enterprises across 1000 communities in Nigeria.

Craftsmen, Artisans, petty traders among hundreds of youths thronged the Azad palace of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, His Royal Majesty Dr. Ado Ibrahim to partake in the orientation phase of the Enterprise Hunt. The sprawling palace of the paramaount ruler of Ebiraland was filled with curious members of the community who have longed waited for the day.

Even as the selection process was yet to commence, various crafts from metal works to wood works were displayed by craftsmen/women desirous of wining the attention of the organizers.

Awed by the massive turnout of the anxious local entrpreneurs, Barr. Natasha Akpoti, said the people have have confirmed her confidence in the craftsmanship and hardwork the community was renowned for.
Having taken the artisans through a long orientation, Natasha assured them that no effort was a waste saying that the essence of art is to celebrate imperfection.

His Royal Majesty, the Ohinoyi of Ebira land while praising the organizers for taking off the program in Okene also commended the dexterity of Barr. Natasha for her ardent desire to transforming the local industry. He, however, assured the organizers of his continuous support as the project moves from Okene to other Nigerian communities.

Senator Dino Melaye was a special guest of honour at the event. Sen. Dino who is currently representing Kogi Western Senatorial district at the 8th National Assembly, Abuja equally praised the courage of the organizers. He assured of his total support to the project, promising to ensure a bigger turnout as the Hunt hits his constituency in Okunland, Kogi Western Senatorial district of Kogi State.

Another federal legislator, Hon. Kabir Ajanah who represents Adavi/Okehi federal constituency at the House of Representatives was among other notable guests at the event.

Having conducted the orientation, Natasha informed the craftsmen to prepare for the selection stage of the hunt when a panel of judges will be invited to assess some of the best crafts on building and construction to home improvement.

At the selection phase billed to take place in August 2015, craftsmen whose works make it through the review process will be paired with investors as beneficiaries of  the impact investment.

See Photos:

Natasha flanked by Ajayi Toyeeb who made A Ram head with worn out tyres

Ohinoyi of Ebiraland HRM Ado Ibrahim flanked by Sen. Dino Melaye

Hon. Kabir Ajanah delivering his address

Natasha with her children

Natasha kids paying homage to the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland

Palace gate flooded with motorbikes of attendants

Sen. Dino Melaye delivering an address

Barr. Natasha speaking with newsmen

Enterprise hunt team

Friday, June 26, 2015

Builders Hub goes hunting for enterprises across Nigeria

…targets 1000 enterprises in 1000 communities in Nigeria.

By Ismail M. Kabir

It is a dawn of opportunities for Nigerian craftsmen and artisans as Builders Hub begins hunting for enterprises across Nigeria. The ‘Enterprise Hunt’ is expected to capture one thousand enterprises from one thousand under served communities across the country. 

Builders Hub is the parent arm of the project which shall operate as an e-commerce platform for all things building, constriction and home improvement. They will list on the web store all products from existing merchants and manufacturers in the industry from Nocaco wires, Tower aluminum products to Dulux paints among similar products.
The project will rally investors to key into local enterprises through an impact investment drive that encourages craftsmen to leverage on the abundant raw materials in Nigeria to produce unique and certified Nigerian made products to be exhibited through the Builders Hub online store.

Barr. Natasha Akpoti
In a recent chat with EbiraView, the host of the forthcoming event, Barr. Natasha Akpoti berated the high rate of dependency on imported building materials including hinges and nails in a nation that parades some of the world’s best craftsmen amidst enormous raw materials.

“Our local communities have some of the best craftsmen in the world. Ebira people, for instance, use to be known to be amazing blacksmiths as far back as a hundred years ago. It is enough to say that why the local industries are not developed is because of electricity. This is wrong because though electricity can complement development but it does not drive it otherwise our blacksmith would not have been as productive as they were 50 to 100 years ago”.

“We are going to all the underserved communities to find the best craftsmen who can do amazing things with woods and any type of metal. We are going to hunt for goods that are worthy to trade on the Builders Hub and flood the market with the products”, Natasha said.

The pilot program is the orientation phase that will kick off tomorrow, Saturday 27th June 2015 at the Azad palace of the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, G.R.A Okene Kogi State.

The orientation, according to Natasha will be used to motivate the craftsmen and showing them the best practices for improved productivity.

“We are going to gather the people, speak to them and show them what is possible and give them a timeline when we will be coming with the panel of judges for the selection process when they will show us what they have done”.

Natasha said her decision to have the inaugural event on Ebira soil for was for a number of reasons one of which is due to her origin from the area and because the Ebira people are known to be great blacksmiths, cloth weavers, carpenters builders and more.

After the kickoff, the Enterprise Hunt team will scout the nook and cranny of Nigeria communities for the finest craftsmen and have them empowered enough to manufacture, within their little capacities, and sell their products to the world.

Barr. Natasha noted that it was baffling to see that we have blacksmith capable of making guns, yet we import hinges, hammers, shovels and others from China at the expense of the local industry.

She added that the impact investment programme is a grass root resource support for craftsman / craftswomen who would be encouraged to have their products listed on the Builders Hub e-Store for the global market.

“We would start with a few selected, ensure their products are duly certified by the relevant standardization bodies and then paired with investors.  As our project grows, so also would out empowering capacity.

“We shall have dedicated contact centers for easy reach out to our team because those who are financially capable to produce / manufacture don't have to wait for the selection process. They can submit samples straight for certification and listing on the website”.

Builders’ Hub is currently rallying support from potential investor for collaborations as the team appeal to communities to embrace the initiative as they arrive their respective locations in the course of the enterprise hunt.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Former AGF’s Uncle Paraded for Kidnapping in Kog

A 72-year-old Ahmed Adoke, an uncle to the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, was among the 45 kidnappers  and armed robbery suspects paraded by the police monday in Lokoja , the Kogi State capital.

Also paraded  was the All Progressive Congress, (APC) candidate  for the Okehi constituency in the state  House of Assembly  in the last election, Idris Ozi Shuabu; and a cripple who were paraded for being an accessory to  the criminal gang terrorising the people of the state.

Addressing journalists in Lokoja, the Force Public Relations  Officer, Commissioner of Police  Emmanuel Ojukwu, said the harvest of arrests was consequent on the Special Anti- Crime Task Force led by Chris Ezike, a Commissioner of Police of the Federal Special Anti- Robbery Squad assigned by the Inspector General (IG) to combat the menace of  kidnapping and armed robbery rocking the state.

“Following the upsurge in the activities of high profile kidnapping and  armed banditry along the Auchi-Okene-Lokoja, Ajaokuta-Lokoja, Kabba-Obajana highways, the  IG, Solomon Arase, directed the Special Anti-crime Task Force to relocate to Kogi State and quickly address the situation.

“The team, which  arrived Lokoja on May 27, 2015 and was supported by a strong force of 350 specialists police officers  drawn from across Nigeria swung into action in earnest with the arrests of over 45 criminals from mostly the central senatorial district of the state.

“In the past three weeks, the squad quickly design a template to contain the situation, identify all criminal syndicates, identify kidnappers hideout and carry out sporadic raids of their houses. Today, 45 persons have been arrested in connection to the criminal activities in the state during the operation,” Ojukwu disclosed.

The force PRO alleged  that  the high rates of criminality in the state was due to the engagement of youths in thuggery and political violence, sponsored by highly placed politicians who have over the years recycled the hoodlums.

He stressed that it was their  assistance in  procuring  illicit firearms that was responsible for criminality in the state

Ojukwu gave other  reasons behind the criminality as  Kogi State being the gateway to over nine  states which criss cross the state to Abuja, the nation capital; the intra and inter clan conflicts which resulted in avoidable violence and free use of firearms; the rising influence of hard drugs and other intoxicating substances; cultism; and the activities of awaiting trial and convicted criminals, who escaped from Koton/karfe prison during the two infamous jail breaks in 2013 and 2014.”

Ojukwu who said during the three weeks operation, one police officer, Benjamin Agada, from Enugu State was killed, urged the people of the state to embrace the N5 Million promised by the state governor, Capt. Idris Wada, as compensation for  anyone who gives useful information towards the smashing of  kidnappers gang.

Items recovered during the three weeks operation are two AK47; nine single and double barrel guns; gun manufacturing equipment; cutlassess and other weapons.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

EPA's speech at Ebira National Dialogue 2015



The huge assault of honour and privilege bestowed on me to speak to you today is an issue that I will have to reconcile myself with in a long time. The protocol list of the personalities gathering here sounds the names of who is who in Ebiraland which underscores the importance of this conference. This dialogue like those before it which are all attempts at addressing our multi-faceted issues,  could not have been more auspicious in timing.

Ebiraland, your Land, my Land and our Land is currently facing some challenges of its nationhood and existence. It has become a land where anything and everything goes. Our physical boundaries are being daily challenged on all fronts by our more resolute and united neighbours; Our identity is gradually being attenuated through a well-designed and heavily-funded programmes of the ever domineering, manipulative and insatiable greed of our partners in the state enterprise; Internal friction and attrition occasioned by clannishness; declining value and views; serious security breeches in the form of kidnapping, assassinations and robberies. We have become a land where our best men rarely exert influence beyond the Local Government and State borders, a Land where everyone is a King but holds no responsibility to any Constituency, a Land where everyone is a champion even where there are no contests albeit at peace time but jets into exile at the slightest threat and trials that demand Leadership. It is a Land where the Learned ones are fast becoming ignorant, the supposed wise men becoming charlatans or outright demagogues, a Land where humility has become secondary ideal to arrogance. So many Devils now straddle our land in Saintly robes. These vices which are manifest signs of unrestrained individual ego and ambition are also bitter consequences of absence of Community and Societal Leadership.

While not absolving the collective failure of our Leadership for this failure, the biggest culpability for these colossal breakdown of our society should be laid squarely at the doorstep of the successive regimes of Kogi state since its creation. They have employed marginalisation in various forms  to deny us a right to humane existence. Today the state of our Infrastructure is at the best deplorable, Education is in shambles, Civil service strength declining at an alarming rate and there is a complete subjugation of our traditional and political institutions to the whims and caprices of our foreign traducers.  This oppression and suppression must have to come to an end hence. Ebira people have two cards to play from today viz: remain in slavish obeisance to our external tormentors and volunteer our historic liberty or jettison all the cleavages that has presented us as weaklings to the world, and close our fingers into a fist to confront our enemies who now see us as less humans and as pliable objects that could be manipulated to suit their pleasure. The opportunity of the forthcoming governorship election presents a veritable space to ventilate our anger by uniting with one voice, one choice and one vote to rescue the drowning image of our forebears. It is a war that calls for brains and unity and not brawns. We must all rise to denounce any financial inducements. You will be offered money in exchange for your conscience.  Accept it but remain resolute. This is because such monies are nothing but proceeds from the ceaseless plundering of our state coffers. You may be promised an offer of political appointment if they ever win. Please find the right strength of character to decline such offers. Of what use will such appointment be when you will eventually be reduced to a  slave boy employed to put his people in bondage. Arising from this meeting, I expect this message to be taken to the Hamlets, cottages, Villages and towns in this Senatorial District. The Present and future generation will hold our leaders including my humble self, responsible for our failure to deliver victory to our people.

The numerical statistics of voting strength is on our side, providence and timing are on our side and the ALMIGHTY GOD in His ever abiding mercy and exalted throne is with us. We must be united behind any candidate that will ensure power shift and rescue us from internal colonisation. We are not unaware that we cannot win this war alone. We have since offered strong arms of fellowship to our brothers in Kogi West, our partners in bondage. I am happy to inform this gathering that we have jointly resolved to consign and bury our prejudices and past mistakes and move on as one strong, united People. The People of the West are no less determined and by God grace this marriage will be consummated with victory and freedom for our respective people.   It is a war whose time has come and it is a war that must be won. This conference is yet another effort at protecting us from destroying ourselves, rescuing us from the claws and jaws of Foreign Vampires and the mediocrity and mischief of their internal collaborators and in the end, ensuring the dignity of our people.

  Finally, I pay tribute to all those who have organised similar conferences to ensure the redemption of our people in the past; I thank the Ebira Youth Congress who, in collaboration Ebira people Association have organised this dialogue in clear demonstration of Unity as strength in pursuance of common objectives; I thank all Civil Society Organisations both at home and Diaspora for their commitment to the success of this programme, I thank the members of the Planning Committee that worked Days and Nights to ensure things worked as planned and I thank Everyone that has come here today for your resolve to challenge the status quo. I wish us happy deliberation.

Thank you.

BVN Registration : Last minute rush overwhelms banks in Okene

By Ismail M. Kabir

In a bid to beat the registration deadline of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) recommended by the Central Bank of Nigeria, banks in Okene are besieged daily by desperate customers struggling to get the BVN, a development that now affect motorists in the area.

With barely one week to the close of the registration, customers are seen queued in hundreds around various bank branches in the town from as early as 6.30am in wait for banks' official resumption time of 8.00am.

The queues which are more noticeable at the United bank for Africa (UBA), Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB)and First Bank of Nigeria stretch into the main roads, obstructing free traffic flow around the banking location while also disrupting normal transactions in the banking hall.

Speaking with EbiraView this morning,  a customer named Idris said that some of them have been coming since last week and are yet to be registered.

"I have been coming here since last week and yet to do my registration. Today is supposed to be my turn as they attend to us according to our numbers". Idris noted that in order to cope with the crowd,  the bank gives number to customers some of who have to return 5 to 6 six working days later for their turn.

When EbiraView contacted the Okene branch of Guarantee Trust Bank,  a staff who preferred anonymity blamed the queue on the careless attitude of the customers.

He said that the queue would have been avoided should the customers responded timely to the notice for the compulsory BVN registration.

The source,  however,  assured that with the addition of another staff to the Biometric data capturing desk, all the customers will be captured before the June 30th deadline.

"The challenge we have now is the usual Nigerian factor. They all waited till it was almost too late before turning up for the data capture.

"We have added an extra staff to the BVN desk to fast track the registration process and we are hopeful that within the remaining days to the deadline all the customers will be registered ".

On their part,  the customers lamented the slow registration process which they said takes about 20 minutes to capture one customer in the midst of hundreds.

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