Darker Days Ahead For US, As Coronavirus Death Hits 7000

Darker days ahead for the United States as it hits 7,000 Coronavirus death, with the most powerful nation on earth grappling to curtail the massive pandemic onslaught.

There are at least 273,880 cases of coronavirus in the US and 7,077 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases in the country.
So far on Friday, 28,667 new cases and 1,094 deaths have been reported, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins.
The total includes cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as all repatriated cases.

Wyoming is the only state not reporting a death from coronavirus, the CNN reports.

With the rising number of death, President Donald Trump has announced the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommended that Americans use non-medical, cloth face coverings to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“From recent studies we know that the transmission from individuals without symptoms is playing a more significant role in the spread of the virus than previously understood,” Mr Trump said.
“With the masks, it’s going to really be a voluntary thing,” he emphasised. “It’s voluntary, you do not have to do it. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
He notes the CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade masks, as those should go to health care workers, BBC reports.

Gov. Bello Suspends Thuggish Commissioner Who Brutalised Lady

Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has ordered the suspension of Mr. Abdulmumuni Danga, Commissioner for Water Resources in the state.
According to SaharaReporters, Danga was suspended over a report that he assaulted and raped a lady over a Facebook post.
The lady, identified as Elizabeth, was reported to have been kidnapped after she told the commissioner on Facebook to assist his sister and family financially.
Elizabeth said, “I saw a post by a local comedian of the commissioner sharing food and his family are complaining that he doesn’t attend to them, that was why I made the post.

“On the 29th of March, I made a post about the commissioner.
“After making the post, they started attacking me on social media and he sent some guys to come and get me.
“On getting to me, they flogged me. He flogged me himself, stripped me naked and made a video of me threatening to post it when next I make any public comment about it.
“They also made me apologise that what I said about him was not true under duress. I had to do so because they were all over me.
“The commissioner also smashed my phone and destroyed it totally, saying that maybe I might have been recording what was happening or I have been recording before getting there.”

Elizabeth also alleged that the commissioner forcefully had sex with her.
“He did not release me and took me to a hotel nearby. Over the night, he made advances and raped me,” she said.
However, on Friday, Governor Yahaya Bello suspended Abdulmumuni Danga and ordered an accelerated investigation into the case

This is the first time Governor Bello acted with tact and sense of purpose.
This case must not be swept under the carpet. Act of rape is a criminal offence and must treated with firmly and with every seriousness it deserves.
I enjoin the victim to make a formal report to the police with the view of arresting and detaining the commissioner while the investigation goes on.
What a shame. What a situation. I take a stroll. Nonsense.

Olu Obafemi at 70, By Femi Osofisan

(Or, Gambolling on Friendship in a Season of Plague)

My friend, Olu Obafemi, turns 70 today. A joyous event, except that it has been shadowed by a cruel global pandemic called Covid-19, for which there is yet no cure. Most of the nation is now in a lockdown to fight the virus, and consequently therefore, all the jubilant events previously arranged to mark the birthday have had to be shelved.
It is a sad development, considering the still expanding list of casualties, but I will not use that as an excuse here. Even without the coming of this deadly coronavirus, I would still have been shy of words to celebrate my friend.

It will not be the first time I confess. On every similar occasion in the past, when I have had to talk about a friend, I have always found myself bereft. It may be a flaw, but unlike with some others, eloquence deserts me when the subject in question is a bosom mate.
It is the same today. How do I begin to speak of Olu Obafemi, my cherished brother, the small man famously known to be ‘larger than his frame’? I am tongue-tied. Because the important things we share, the intangible secrets that power the sinews of our relationship, are of such sensitive, even conspiratorial, intimacy, that they cannot be shed into the public ear.
Otherwise, the words come out merely lambent, too commonplace really to capture the profundity of my inner emotion. For me, the attachments bred of affection are too delicate to be easily amenable for translation into the vulgar vehicle of speech. (And I expect you to counter here that this was why poetry and music were born).  But in normal quotidian jargon, in the syntax of day-to-day discourse, friendship is always short-changed; rarely does one find the words to fit it. You can pile adjective upon adjective, fiddle with proverb and metaphor, but the real essence of your feeling would still be absent, unsaid.
That is my dilemma today in writing about my friend, whose anniversary has been ruined by this rabid pandemic. How far should I go, and how much disclose? When you have known a person so closely for so long, where should you stop?
I suspect that, to Obafemi himself, the occasion must look somewhat unreal. Like catharsis, a floating moment in one of his plays. A few years back—or, why not even say, up till midnight yesterday—the age of 70 must have seemed a long, long way away, somewhere very distant, the territory of those longevous, hoary fellows we used to refer to when we were young as ancestors and witches even. But now today, almost incredibly, he himself is suddenly there too, a cohort of Fagunwa’s Baba Onirugbon-yeuke, to be listed henceforth among the ‘elders’ of the land.

It was not totally unanticipated of course. We always know when age is piling upon us from subtle intimations—such as when the simple act of lifting a bucket of water, or climbing up a staircase, or moving the furniture, becomes a laborious chore that has to be mentally rehearsed in advance. Only, we rarely pay these signals any mind.
Unfortunately for us, one of the marks of our ‘modern’ circumstance, of our sophistication, is that initiatory rites no longer exist to usher us through the various passages of life. Our traditional societies, we recall, were not that careless. At various stages of transition—from infancy to adolescence to adulthood and so on, till death—every individual was made to undergo certain rituals and ceremonies, along with his or her age mates, in the course of which they would be taught the duties and responsibilities expected of them by the community. They would learn about the taboos that they must henceforth never infringe, the limits of their rights and deserts, as well of course as the penalties for deviance.
But no more nowadays. Now, sadly, the young arrive at adulthood, and are on their own. All they have to lean on is, at best, what they may have gleaned from the screens of the globalized internet, the artificial wisdom of stranded, self-obsessed robot men. But, Olu, you have travelled a different road. You have been fed and nourished with the rich ingredients of our culture, and it is this that brought us together to the same household of humane consciousness.
I know I will have to explain this, since it took me myself some time to understand it. Olu and I became friends, but to say here the exact details of when we began is beyond my memory.  It just seemed to me that we drifted together after the death of his supervisor in ABU, who was a colleague of mine. Then subsequently, when we were both, so to say, marooned here during those difficult military years, we had little choice but to find solace in each other’s company.
However, we accompanied him to his father’s village some years back to bury the old man, and it was then that I discovered to my amazement that our friendship had in fact, unknown to both of us, been more or less pre-planned.
On the occasion, I made a joke that if I had known that Olu came from such a rural, primitive hamlet, I would not have made friends with him. But the joke was really on me. For it was because he came from such a village in fact that we bonded as friends. His rustic beginnings were an astounding replicate of mine.
That day, as we drove into the forests through the loam and dust, heading for the village of Akutukpa, the landscape began to revive shards of forgotten memories from my own childhood and, for the first time, a fundamental truth about our relationship broke on me like an epiphanous revelation.
I came to realize suddenly that Olu and I had been born to the same beginnings—to the affinity of trees and forest spirits , the symphonic ambiance of insects and crickets and grasshoppers, the medley of streams flowing unseen in the underbrush to the chorus of snakes and creaking toads. I saw again as they floated past, the old familiar flotilla of birds and butterflies whose wings first awakened us as kids to the amazement of colours.
For a while as the cars squelched along, I closed my eyes, and it was easy to dream again, to recall the markets of yam and corn, pepper and salt and dried fish and other delicacies that used to dot those village roads not too long ago in my own Ijebuland. My mind wondered back to retrieve the pleasant nights when we assembled under the moon’s mysterious spell for moonlight tales, those tales populated by the feats of the tortoise and the farmer and frightful gnomes.
And then the scene changed abruptly, and I found myself plunged back to our harvest times of old, with their carnivals and processions, boisterous communal feasts, and different masquerades mounted by Ogun and other deities!..

I shook myself awake. So, this was where Olu came from, this haven of rustic delights! Tell me, how could we have shared such a memorable childhood, and not be friends? Wherever and whenever we found each other, inevitably, it would be a meeting of kindred spirits.
He has never visited my own ancestral village regrettably; none of my friends has. But that is mainly because the place no longer exists. At least no longer as I remember it. It has been swallowed, since my father went away, by so-called modernization; the former farmlands and their surroundings have been crushed into sorry urban slums by new dwellers, the rapacious speculators and latifundists from the city. But that day however, as we drove further and further into the forests for the old man’s final farewell, the resurgence of so many common gems from our childhood past gave the simplest and most vivid explanation for the depth of our friendship.
Thus it is no longer surprising that, though physically dissimilar, we are like spiritual twins, with near identical characters and similar thoughts and opinions on most subjects. To these, add our sentimental attachment to our mothers and to all women generally, and our sense of compassion, our spontaneous identification with the plight of the downtrodden everywhere. And furthermore, add that in spite of continual betrayal, we have refused so far to surrender to despair, or to the death of laughter in our land. It is also uncanny that we have both chosen the same weapon of literature and the arts to articulate our responses to history and politics.
On December 6 2018, not too long ago, my friend was conferred with the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) by the President. At the ceremony in Aso Rock, I was privileged to read his citation, and inter alia said as follows: “Olu Obafemi is a multi-talented and many-sided personality. Playwright, poet, novelist, scholar, teacher, translator, and much more besides, he is the public intellectual par excellence, one who has exhibited throughout his turbulent career, a moral commitment to interrogate the social injustices in our nation and elsewhere, while striving to build bridges of understanding across the contentious gulfs of class, culture and race.”
That was one of my proudest moments. So I don’t need to say more. Even if we have had to suspend our parties, no pandemic can ever erase such a dazzling tribute to a stellar life. Welcome, my brother and companion, to the mid-winter season and to the table of elders.
-Professor Femi Osofisan is an award winning Playwright and distinguished Professor of Drama at the University of Ibadan

Lean On Me Singer Bill Withers Dies At 81

Bill Withers, the acclaimed 1970s soul singer behind hits Ain’t No Sunshine and Lean On Me has died from heart complications aged 81, his family said.
The singer died on Monday in Los Angeles, the family told the Associated Press.
They described him in a statement as a “solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world”.
“He spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other,” the statement said.
Known for his smooth baritone vocals and sumptuous soul arrangements, he wrote some of the 70s best-remembered songs, including Just The Two Of Us, Lovely Day and Use Me.
On Lovely Day, he set the record for the longest sustained note on a US chart hit, holding a high E for 18 seconds.
Although he stopped recording in 1985, his songs remained a major influence on R&B and hip-hop.
His track Grandma’s Hands was sampled on Blackstreet’s No Diggity, and Eminem reinterpreted Just The Two Of Us on his hit 1997 Bonnie And Clyde.
Lean On Me has recently become associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, with many people posting their own versions to support health workers.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father,” said Withers’ family in a statement.

“With his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other.
“As private a life as he lived, close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”
US musician Chance the Rapper led tributes, describing the singer as “the greatest” and recalling some of his own personal memories.

Born in 1938, Withers was the youngest of six children. His father died when he was a child and he was raised by his mother and grandmother.

His entry to the music world came late – at the age of 29 – after a nine-year stint in the Navy
He taught himself to play guitar between shifts at his job making toilet seats for the Boeing aircraft company, and used his wages to pay for studio sessions in LA.
“I figured out that you didn’t need to be a virtuoso to accompany yourself,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in 2015 .
He recorded his first album, Just As I Am, with Booker T Jones in 1970. It included the mournful ballad Ain’t No Sunshine, which earned him his first Grammy award the subsequent year.

He scored another million-selling hit with Lean On Me in 1972.
Gospel-tinged and inspirational, the song was based his experiences growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town: When times were hard, neighbours would lend each other help and assistance, and the memory stuck with the singer.
It was later performed at the inaugurations of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
But Withers quit at the top, walking away from his career after scoring a pop hit with Just The Two Of Us, although he occasionally toured with Grover Washington Jr in the 1990s.
As a younger man, he suffered with a debilitating stutter, and in 2015, he and fellow stutterer Ed Sheeran put on a benefit concert for the Stuttering Association For The Young.
The same year, Withers was inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame, and when asked how it felt by US TV show CBS Good Morning , he joked, “It’s like a pre-obituary!”

Despite his influence on generations of musicians, he did not keep track of music after his career ended.
“These days,” he said in 2015, “I wouldn’t know a pop chart from a Pop-Tart.”
But he was aware that his compositions had become part of the fabric of music.
“What few songs I wrote during my brief career, there ain’t a genre that somebody didn’t record them in,” he told Rolling Stone in 2014. “I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with.”
“The hardest thing in songwriting is to be simple and yet profound,” agreed Sting in Still Bill, a documentary about Wither’s career, “and Bill seemed to understand, intrinsically and instinctively, how to do that,”
He is survived by his wife, Marcia, and children, Todd and Kori.

Otedola Celebrates Mum On 88th Birthday

Billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, has celebrated his mother, Lady Doja, on her 88th birthday.
The 57-year-old posted the message on Instagram on Friday.

He wrote, “Happy 88th birthday to my sweet mother. We love you Lady Doja…”

Otedola has never hidden his admiration for his mother.
In August 2019 he shared pictures of the two of them hanging out together.

Coronavirus: We Are Expecting A Medical Team From China, Says FG

The federal government says a medical team from China will arrive the country in a few days.

Osagie Enahire, minister of health, broke the news at the presidential task force on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja on Friday.

He also said a group of Chinese companies working in Nigeria have donated medical supplies to support the country’s fight against COVID-19.

He said the items include commodities such as personal protective equipment and ventilators.

“I have been notified of medical supplies from China, courtesy of a group of Chinese companies working here in Nigeria. A special cargo aircraft shall leave Nigeria in a few days to collect the items which include commodities, personal protective equipment and ventilators,” he said.

“An 18-man team of Chinese medical experts including doctors, nurses and other medical advisers shall come along with the flight to assist us. I must at this juncture commend our frontline workers who are doing a great job in case identification and management.

“As we prepare to contain COVID-19, we must not lose sight of other health challenges in our country. Routine health service must continue in our hospitals. Only a wing of tertiary health centres should be used for infected patients.”

The minister said nearly 3,000 samples have been tested for the disease, adding that Nigeria will witness an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases despite the lockdown.

Nigeria has recorded 190 confirmed cases out of which Lagos state, which is the epicentre of the disease, has 98 cases.

The federal capital territory (FCT) has 38; Osun, 20, and Oyo, eight cases. Akwa Ibom state has five cases; Ogun and Edo states have four each; Kaduna, four; Bauchi, three.

Enugu and Ekiti states have two cases each while Rivers and Benue states have recorded one each.

In Africa, over 7,000 cases have been recorded with 284 deaths spread across 50 countries.

Globally, the confirmed cases hit one million on Thursday, with at least 51, 300 people dead from complications of the disease.

The infection has spread to 204 countries and territories since the first case was recorded in Wuhan, China, late December.

On March 24, Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, Chinese e-commerce company, donated medical kits for Nigeria to fight coronavirus pandemic.

Source: TheCable

How Kogi Commissioner Raped, Beat Up A Critic

KOGI State Commissioner for Water Resources, Abdulmumuni Danga, accused of raping and battering a lady for calling him out on Facebook, has said that he wants the case to be left the way it is.

Danga who spoke to The ICIR on phone, was asked what happened between him and the victim identified as Elizabeth Oyeniyi and in response, he said: “I don’t want to talk too much please, let’s just leave the case the way it is”

When probed further concerning the allegations made against him, he ended the call abruptly.

Danga was appointed the commisioner by the current Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.

Oyeniyi had made a Facebook post asking the commissioner to help his sister and family financially the same way he has been helping others.

But Oyeniyi’s comment upset the commissioner.

According to her, the commissioner sent thugs to kidnap her and her three-year-old son from their home and they were whisked to an unknown location where she was striped naked and severely beaten.

The assault was recorded on video, and she was threatened to keep mute about it, else her nude photos would be released on the internet.

Thereafter, Oyeniyi said she was raped by Danga who made sure she stayed overnight just to have his way with her.

By morning, she had several beating marks on her body and was forced to do another video praising the commissioner.

“They flogged me. He flogged me himself, stripped me naked and made a video of me threatening to post it when next I make any public comment about it.

“They also made me apologise that what I said about him was not true under duress. I had to do so because they were all over me.

“He did not release me that day, rather he took me to a hotel nearby. Over the night, he made advances and raped me,” Oyeniyi recounted.

For safety, Oyeniyi said she had to run to Abuja from Kogi where the incident happened.

Leading the call for justice, Dorothy Njemanze of Dorothy Njemanze Foundation said the matter has been taken to the police and the victim has visited a hospital to get treated.

However, Njemanze and a coalition of human rights organisations have taken up the case and are set to seek justice for the young mother.

The group has called for the immediate suspension of the commissioner.

Meanwhile, Governor of Kogi State, Bello, has ordered an investigation into the allegations of battery and assault against Danga.

In a statement released on Thursday by Kogi State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Kingsley Fanwo, it was disclosed that the governor ordered immediate investigation into the matter.

It was also highlighted in the statement that the governor would not stand for oppression and violence against women.

“The Kogi State government reaffirms its unalloyed commitment to the protection of everyone from all forms of oppression, and will not tolerate violence against women or children under any form or guise,” the statement read in part.

As at the time of filing this report, no action has been taken against Danga, and the victim, Oyeniyi, said she continues to  live in fear.

Source: https://www.icirnigeria.org/lets-leave-the-case-the-way-it-is-kogi-commissioner-danga-accused-of-raping-battering-lady-plays-defense/

Boris Johnson Remains In Isolation As COVID-19 Symptoms Persist

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in self-isolation as he continues to suffer from COVID-19 symptoms.
In a short video posted on Twitter, Johnson said he is feeling better after seven days in self-isolation. However, he added he still has a temperature and so will remain in self-isolation until it has gone.

“In my own case, although I’m feeling better and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still have a temperature,” Johnson said. “And so in accordance with government advice I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes.”
The prime minister urged people to stick with the social distancing rules as the weather becomes milder.

“I reckon a lot of people will be starting to think that this is all going on for quite a long time and would rather be getting out there, particularly if you’ve got kids in the household, everybody may be getting a bit stir crazy, and there may be just a temptation to get out there, hang out and start to break the regulations. I just urge you not to do that. Please, please stick with the guidance now,” he said.
Both Johnson and the U.K.’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced last Friday they had tested positive for the virus. Hancock has recovered and is out of self-isolation. He attended the government’s daily press conference on Thursday afternoon.
The U.K.’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost is also now out of self-isolation after showing “mild symptoms” of COVID-19.

Italian Shoe Designer Sergio Rossi Dies of COVID-19

Sergio Rossi, one of the most famous Italian shoe designers, has died of the coronavirus disease, an Italian official said on Friday.
Several Italian media reported that Rossi, who was born in 1935, died on Thursday in a hospital in Cesena in the northern Emilia-Romagna region.
Luciana Garbuglia, the Mayor of San Mauro Pascoli, confirmed the death and its link to the novel COVID-19 to dpa.

San Mauro Pascoli is Rossi’s birthplace in Emilia-Romagna.
The Sergio Rossi Company was founded in 1951 and gained fame in the 1960s.

Its shoes featured in the Italian film classic “La Dolce Vita”, as worn by lead actress Anita Ekberg.
The company was sold to Gucci in 1999 and later became part of the French PPR-Kering luxury group, and returned under Italian hands in 2015 with the Invest-industrial private equity fund.
According to the Adnkronos news agency, the luxury shoemaker had recently donated 100,000 euros ($108,000) for a hospital in Milan, treating novel coronavirus patients.


Ebenezer Obey @ 78: The Man and A Young Witness

By Azuka Jeboze

At the right front of the first floor of Building 11 Kadiri Street, Suru Lere, Lagos, a two story building partitioned as face-me-I-face-you rental rooms, was Baba Femi’s Repair Shop. Baba Femi was an electrician, famous for his tales of rendezvous at Chief Ebenezer Obey’s Weekend “Owambe party”performances and midweek gigs inside his popular hang-out joint, Obey’s Miliki Spot, than his knowledge of repairing troubled televisions, Kenwood stereo systems, KDK mosquito killing fans and other electronic home appliances of that era’s living comfort.

Apart from being an annoying “loudmouth at his Shop, Baba Femi also doubled as a “Disc Jockey’. He had Turn-table equipment and latest selections of vinyls, from mostly juju, Fuji and Apala music genres, for his side kick deejay midweek music musings..

Baba Femi opened his store at 9a.m every day. The street knew when he was opened for business. He would disturb our mornings with nonestop selections of juju music, featuring Chief Ebenezer Obey’s latest music. That was between 1973 and 1974. Chief Obey’s single, “Edumare Soro Mi Dayo” was a monumental hit then. It preceded the wickedly mega hit, BOARD MEMBERS.

So, every mid morning, the neighborhood came alive and gyrated to the polyrhythmic sounds of miliki king blaring from Baba Femi’s Shop.

Commander Ebenezer Obey’s unique juju music featured wailing lead guitar, scattered electric guitar solos that interpreted stanzas of his lyrics, with mind blowing talking drums and sassy percussions, leading a scarcely but baited bass rhythm. You couldn’t resist the music when the tenor voice cuts through the lane:” Alaja lo se obokun fun alajala… emi meje o.. emi meje…” The street kids gathered and fretted, singing along to the call and response infectious juju philosophical progression of Chief Ebenezer Obey’s music. That was how Baba Femi steadily introduced me and a few area kids to the Miliki music by the greatest music composer, maker and singer of my generation.

I became an Ebenezer Obey addict: Incurable. Every miliki music sent me to “miliki rehab..” When the monster hit “KETEKETE’ was released within that decade, though young, I was “permanently miliki disturbed”. I have not recovered since. I refused several rehab offers because Miliki was a cure to a scattered life..

My paths with Commander Obey crossed when I became an Entertainment reporter at Punch newspapers. My Entertainment Editor/mentor, Ladi Ayodeji privileged me all access to Entertainment Reporting: My partner at the entertainment desk, Kafui Gale Zoyiku and I were privilege to everything entertainment news, thanks to Mr. Ayodeji’s trust in our judgments. We were also workaholics and “Reporterholics”. Ladi, as we fondly called him, allowed us to roam with celebrities and their ways of life. In one of my early assignments of covering the music beat, Ladi sent me to cover Chief Obey’s University concert at the University of Benin, Ugbowo campus.

That afternoon, I was assigned the front seat with the juju music icon in his Mercedes Benz vehicle, driven by Muhammed, his driver..A few years ago, I visited Commanders home at Ikeja and met Muhammed who still recognized me… That day to Benin Concert, we drove four hours from Lagos to Benin. During the drive, Commander and I struck a conversation and something improbable exploded between us. He referred to me thus: “My dear AzukA” throughout our conversations,the drive to Uniben and back next day. That moment was, as I remembered, how we developed a certain father/son relationship. Since that weekend drive to Benin, Chief Ebenezer Obey chose to call me “My Dear AzukA”. He recognizes my voice from any distance and crowd: he would break out his infectious smile to humble my presence.
In life, we may never know what or whom life privileged us: I don’t know why, but whenever I visited Commander Obey at his Ikeja residence, I was always welcome like a member of his family: he took me to several places and I have met great Nigerians by being in his company. Commander introduced me to the late MKO Abiola and I became fond of visiting. .

I encouraged him, those years, to be proactive with the media. I described him then as ”a gently aggressive”but humane. That night in his home, he listened, calmly and fatherly, nodded his head as I spoke with so much young energy and rascality. But he listened, patiently and attentively….He is a blessing to all situations.

September 1987, I returned from Music Against apartheid concert in the old Soithern Africa region, with serious illness. The tour took the Nigerian musicians that included Late Sonny Okosun, Late Christy Igbokwe and Onyeka Onwenu, took us to Zambia, Lusaka, Kitwe, Kabwe, and in Zimbabwe, Harare.

I had moved into the Punch Mulero compound with my colleagues Rotimi Durojaiye and Dozie Okebalama. On the same street as my flat was Commander Obey’s younger sister’s home. He suspected I liked his niece, Funke, but baba was always soft, tender and lovely. So one weekend, he paid a surprised visit to my house…I was very sick. He came and offered prayers for my swollen right arm and wellness…After prayers , Baba Maliki invited me to his church, located along the road to the estate: unbelievable to see such a cultural icon in my small living room with no electricity, offering songs of praise for my healing. It was spiritual and Magical.

I didn’t know why Commander had special likeness for me, a spectacular relationship that still exists to this day; I was young, restless, rascally and I never cared about life. I just wanted to exist as a free-spirit reporter. I was pure, natural and a hopeless Entertainment Editor, but Commander never gave up on me. He trusted me, respected and explored my young critiques of his works. He was never angry at my writings to criticize or gossip about his lifestyle. He never complained…

Eight years ago, I returned to Nigeria with a remarkable idea to promote Commander Obey alongside King Sunny Ade in a concert billed as ONE NIGHT STAND. I will tell the story another day. Through the years, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey continues to reform: from International Band to inter-reformers. He went deeper with his faith and religion, an unapologetic believer of Christ. He built a home of worship in the densely populated area of Mulero/Agege, on the outskirts of lagos, city dwellers axis for everyday people of the city, expanded his religious outreach programs and proclaiming Christ as King in all his musings, music, messages, characters and behaviors. This great national treasure is pleasantly Nigerian. His music is regional. But his humanity is universal. I am privileged to have been blessed by his presence in my life as a young lost teenager, hooked on his music, first heard from the blaring speakers of Baba Femi the electrician and as a careless free spirit young bohemian reporter. He allows me to still refer to him as COMMANDER EBENEZER OBEY, years after he became known to us as REVEREND EBENEZER OBEY. I am humbled by his candor and unconditional love for me: a kind man, a tribe less statesman: when life provided me a chance as a new bachelor, he purchased and delivered to my new Flat, my first VONO mattress to my scanty flat. I was 23 years old. I dared not confess the sins on the mattress.
My dearest friends and family, please salute this incredible music maker, a legend of Nigeria’s music culture on his 78th birthday.

*** Unedited Excerpts From my autobiography: MY SCATTERED LIFE.