December 19, 2008

MTV News' Man Of The Year: Lil Wayne No one was as successful, controversial, hilarious and, well, bizarre as Weezy was in 2008.

Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. is no longer just your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. In fact, considering the way he's been carrying around a guitar lately, you could be forgiven for wondering if he event wants to be a rapper anymore. But the fact remains that for 12 long months, no one dominated hip-hop like Wayne did. No one sold more records, generated more headlines or appeared on as many tracks. No one flooded the market with as much product, and — in a genre loaded with compelling characters — no one was as mercurial, controversial, hilarious and, well, bizarre as Weezy was.

Not to mention, when you move 1 million copies of an album in one week, it's pretty safe to say you've crossed over to the mainstream. Wayne most definitely was hip-hop in 2008, but he was pop culture too.

So considering all that — and after sifting through a year's worth of headlines, videos and reader comments — we've decided to crown Lil Wayne as MTV News' Man of the Year. From his epic Arizona drug bust in January to selling a million copies of Tha Carter III in June and, finally, nabbing eight Grammy nods in December, '08 has been anything but dull for Wayne ... and that's just skimming the surface. Below, for your perusal, we've compiled his entire 2008 résumé — a list of accomplishments truly befitting our Man of the Year.

But before we dive deeper into Weezy's achievements, a quick word about someone else who had a pretty impressive 2008: President-elect Barack Obama. Sure, you could probably make a fairly convincing argument for him being our Man of the Year — after all, GQ and Time already proclaimed him as such — and you'd probably be right. But for an explanation of why Obama didn't make the cut on our list, head to the Newsroom blog.

1. Lil Wayne

2008 Highlights: Rolled into '08 with the "Hottest MC in the Game" championship belt over his shoulder ... Promised his long-awaited Carter III album would be coming this year and touted the long list of cameos he recorded by dubbing himself "Featuring Lil Wayne" ... Arrested in Arizona when his tour bus is pulled over by border patrol agents who perform the aforementioned bust ... Facing felony drug and weapons charges, he pleads not guilty. The case is still pending ... Attempted to reunite the Hot Boyz at a concert during the NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, but the event was canceled at the last minute due to shootings outside the venue ... Visited his old secondary school, promising Tha Carter would drop "in April" and being asked to the prom by a girl named Julie ... Showed up three hours late for a concert in New Jersey, did not apologize, ended show by donning a bathrobe, shouting "sexual f---ing chocolate has left the building, bi---" ... Discussed his drank of choice, syrup ... "Lollipop," the first single from Carter III, tops the Billboard Hot 100 ... Premiered the now-iconic Carter III cover, featuring a photo of him as a baby, complete with a pinkie ring and digitally added tattoos ... Refused to freak out when the album leaked two weeks early ... "Elated" when Carter III defies industry expectations and sells 1 million copies in a single week, the first album to do so since 50 Cent's The Massacre in 2005 ... Congratulated by 50, Kanye West and a host of others after accomplishing the feat ... Played a "modern-day Robin Hood" in the "Got Money" video ... Performed "A Milli" on the premiere of "FNMTV," smelled like "a mixture of stubbed-out Phillies Blunts and a gallon of cough syrup," proved that he possessed extrasensory perception like "the 'hood Yoda" ... Lost his pants during his performance at the Video Music Awards ... Hopped a plane immediately following the VMAs to make a court date in New York City ... Prepped Dedication 3 mixtape and Tha Carter IV ... Appeared on Fall Out Boy's Folie à Deux ... Appeared on Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak ... Named MVP at the BET Hip-Hop Awards ... Announced plans to reissue Carter III, only with completely different songs ... Shared the stage with Jay-Z but did not actually perform with him ... Described the birth of his son as "nasty, but wonderful" ... Strapped on a guitar to back up Kid Rock at the CMA Awards, only vaguely playing said guitar ... Plotted I Am Music Tour with T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes and Keyshia Cole ... Nominated for eight Grammy Awards, more than any other artist ... "A Milli" is named "Best Song of 2008" in MTV's Bigger Than the Sound column ... "A Milli" is named "Hip-Hop Single of the Year" by our Mixtape Monday family ...Tha Carter III is named one of the "Best Albums of 2008" ... Seriously, he did all of that in 366 days — any doubts he's our Man of the Year?

Anelka eager to help Drogba

Nicolas Anelka has told Chelsea manager Felipe Scolari he is ready to play a supporting role for Didier Drogba in attack.

Anelka bagged the 100th Premier League goal of his career and his 16th of the season in Sunday‘s 1-1 draw with West Ham, but with Drogba fit again the France striker now wants Scolari to give the pair a chance to form a potent partnership.

Scolari, reflecting on his first six months at Chelsea, has revealed he will be using the next fortnight to tinker with his style and that could mean finding a place for both strikers in his 4-3-3 system.

Chelsea has already dropped 14 points at Stamford Bridge this season and its poor home form is threatening to undermine its title ambitions.

Anelka, 29, has enjoyed successful partnerships with Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal and Michael Owen at Liverpool and now wants the opportunity to see if he can make it work with Drogba.

“It was good to play with Bergkamp,” said Anelka. “He is the kind of player that played for you. He can score, but also gave a good ball for you to score, and he liked to do it.

“With Michael Owen it was good, because I played the other way, I used to play in front, then I turned supplier. I was pleased with our partnership and it worked.”

Top 100 people, places, events and things that shaped 2008

Funny how time flies. Isn‘t it just a few months ago that we screamed happy new year? Now, it‘s all of 12 months gone by. Whether we have used them well, or squandered them (like a child does a tip), is a matter our conscience will decide. But, as a special year-end treat, e-Punch reminds you of some of the moments, people, ideas, and elements that made the year what it is. Enjoy!

1. DBANJ: 28 year-old Dapo Oyebanjo finally released his second full length album in 2008. And he not only got blessings from the Oba of Lagos, he had Lagos Governor, Raji Fashola and his predecessor, Bola Tinubu on stage at the launch of Entertainer on July 25. With his characteristic sex themes and libido braggadocio, the charming singer re-enacted his pact with female fans this year. And, to show he‘s still on the right path, he was named best African act at the MTV Africa Music Awards, earning him a stage collabo with former Destiny’s Child singer, Kelly Rowland.

2. 2FACE IDIBIA: Mr. Idibia was the butt of comedians’ jokes this year - no thanks to a string of pregnancies and endless baby mama dramas. But not one to be fazed by what people say, the 33 year-old pop star kept his mind on his business: dropping a chain of singles, performing from Australia to Russia, and playing daddy to his different kids (five, as at the last count). Oh, he performed with Akon, recorded with Sway, R.Kelly, Chaka Demus &Pliers; and got honoured by World music awards in Monaco too… (He released his third solo album, Unstoppable on Wednesday December 17).

3. THE KEYBOARD: whether it’s the piano, organ or the computer input buttons, the keyboard has continued to be one of the most relevant tools in entertainment for countless years. And now, in the age of computer-generated graphics, digital productions and live band performances, the keyboard is coming in handy, as an indispensable tool, as far as home entertainment is concerned.

4. PROTOOLS: Step aside analogue studios. This is the ear of digital productions. Gone are the days when musicians stormed studios with 30-man bands, to produce a record. These days, all you need is a song book, a producer, a console, and a PC loaded with all the production softwares money can buy. Be it reason, protools, fruity loops or any other song making, editing or graphics software, they‘re the reason most of the top directors and producers are still in business. Only God knows what they‘ll do with softwares next year…

5. MUSON: The Musical Society of Nigeria clocked 25 this year. And the series of events to mark the milestone were a testimony to the success of the society‘s goals, as well as the pride of place the MUSON centre occupies, amongst the few event venues around the Lagos metropolis.

6. HHWA: The award for hip hop culture and urbane music entered its third year with pomp. With major sponsorship from MTN, an ambitious motive (change must change, they kept screaming), and a community of artistes hoping the awards would be a stamp of excellence on their works, HHWA reaffirmed its position as Nigeria‘s number one music awards; even scoring another first by giving out a brand new Hyundai Sonata to winner of the Next Rated category.

7. MTV: Three years after coming to Africa, MTV base has inscribed its signature indelibly on the industry’s landscape. In 2008 especially, it took the game several notches higher - inspiring scores of Grade A videos that‘ll make even Hype Williams jealous. The cable channel collaborated with Shell to help budding African talents shoot videos, and gave hitherto hopeless acts an opportunity to be heard via Advance warning. Unfortunately, the MTV Africa Music Awards, which would have capped a year of achievements, performed far below expectations and earned the channel severe knocks from the media and industry insiders.

8. 9ICE: This year, he cat-walked gently into the class of A list acts. Then he sashayed into the millionaires‘ club, and walked down the aisle with the love of his life, Toni Payne. He was named best new act by hip hop world awards, best African act by MOBO awards, and best hip hop act at the MAMAs. He moved from the ‘hood in Bariga, to a Lagos Duplex and bought choice properties around the city. In just 12 months, the singer has moved from an obscure, struggling artiste, to become one of the most wanted entertainers of the year.

9. COBHAMS: The visually-impaired song-writer, producer and singer continued to show us that he is not handicapped. Fresh from producing Asa‘s debut album, Cobhams Asuquo opened his studio in Ikeja, Lagos — opening his doors to hundreds of talents (including Omolara, Darey, Rooftop Mcs) and clinching the Skye Bank and Zain ad deals. Now, he’s set up a full production company, Cobhams Asuquo Music Production, CAMP, and we can‘t even start to imagine what he‘ll dabble into in 2009.

10. OLU MAINTAIN: His former band-mate, Tolu has gotten married and settled for life out of public glare. But Olumide Edward Adegbulu, the Ondo-born singer carrying on the Maintain flag is not about to slow down. Armed with only one major hit (yahoozeey), Mr. Olu has changed his fortune and that of his family. He has recruited fans from Lagos to London and Los Angeles, and even gotten Nigeria’s President Umar Musa Yar’Adua and former US Secretary of State, Collin Powel to rock his sound.

11. ASA: For years, a strong question mark hung over the future of her career, following a bitter dispute with her Nigerian label, Questionmark Records. But in 2007, the songbird flew away and pitched her tent with an independent French label called Naïve records. The result is the eponymously titled album that topped the charts for months, moved amazing units, and established her as one of Africa‘s most promising talents in 2008. A gallery of awards, sold-out concerts all over Nigeria and Europe, and an income that continues to skyrocket, the young musician has so much to show for her hardwork, and now, she may just have commenced work on a new set of materials.

12. NMVA: Nigeria‘s premiere honours event for music videos rolled out the green carpet for its second edition on November 30. And, although a majority of the young pop and hip hop stars were nowhere to be found, top veterans (including Victor Uwaifo, Bisi Olatilo, Patrick Doyle and Bongos Ikwe) added colour to the do…

13. NAETO C: Naeto C’s parents wanted him to study Medicine & Surgery. He ended up studying Biology which he soon dumped for -of all things - music. But, it‘s just a few years down the line and his audacity is already paying off. U know my p, his debut album not only spawned off a string of hits, it endeared him to a new crop of hip hop followers, and showed everyone around him that music can also put good food on the table after all. If you hear young people around you chanting Kini big deal, yes boss! Or using words like P and swagger, now you know who to hold responsible.

14. MI: Just like Naeto Chikwe, Jude Abaga locked down the underground for several months in 2008. With a refreshing style and incredible word bank, the Chocolate city rapper eventually found his way to the mainstream, dropping one of the most anticipated albums of 2008.

15. MODE 9: The year started on a slow note for the master lyricist. And after he parted ways with his label, Questionmark, many thought not much would come forth from his quarters. But Modey rearranged and shocked us all. First, he floated his own imprint Red Eye Records, teamed up with Banky W for a covert diss track, and eventually dropped his new album, Paradigm shift. Now, following the vocal punches at rival Ruggedman, we‘re all talking about Mode 9 again! Gimmick? Well, only time will tell.

16. PASUMA: Last year, he took part in Celebrity Takes 2, and almost won the top prize. This year, Pasuma Wonder appeared on countless collaborations and continued in his quest to take Fuji music to a hitherto reluctant, pop-loving audience. The 40 year-old act has won more converts to the genre than any other in his class, and despite cultivating a new league of fans; he retains a firm hold on the streets.

17. SAHEED OSUPA: One of Fuji’s most remarkable talents got into the headlines for the wrong reasons this year, following lingering superiority battles with Sule Malaika and Pasuma.

18. RHYTHM UNPLUGGED: Flytime promotions’ Cecil Hammond continues to use daring hypes to draw our attention to his annual multi-city concert series. And we‘re not about to start complaining. This year, Unplugged went to Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos. And, the ratings are still soaring, making it look it if you‘re an artiste and you‘re not on the gig, you may as well fire your managers…

19. ANNIE MACAULAY: Very dramatic year it was for Miss Annie Uwanna Macaulay. She kicked started her movie career, finally started recording for her TV show (Unwinding with Annie), got pregnant for longtime on-and-off lover, 2face Idibia, lost the pregnancy, and got pregnant again! Now, on December 10, she delivered a baby girl - finally joining the association of 2face Idibia baby mamas.

20. PERO ADENIYI: She grabbed headlines in April, after it was reported she had delivered a set of twins for 2face Idibia in Barbados. The news was later confirmed to be false, and Ms Adeniyi later delivered a boy, her second child for the singer. But she spent the better part of the year feuding with Idibia and his mom, Rose. Only later in the year did reconciliation occur, with the new baby officially named in 2face’s ‘hood, FESTAC Town, Lagos.

21. TONI PAYNE: Blogger, stylist and businesswoman, Toni finally said ‘‘I do‘‘ to her heartthrob this year. The US-based lady exchanged vows with singer, 9ice on Thursday July 17 at a quiet ceremony attended by close friends and colleagues. She immediately stepped up her involvement in his international management, and brokered a summer US tour for her spouse. And on December 4, she delivered the couple‘s first baby at Presbyterian Hospital, Southern California.

22. BELLA NAIJA: if a contest were ever to hold, there‘s no doubt Nigerians all over the world would vote bellanaija their favourite blog. A regular online destination for those keen on keeping up with happenings in fashion, music and movie circles, the blog eventually metamorphosed into a full-blown e-magazine this year. The brain behind it all, 24 year-old Uche Eze also finally revealed her identity, through an interesting interview with Chude Jideonwo.

23. NAYO: Daughter of late “pillar” of sports, Dokun Abidoye, Nayo got fans hooked on her music from Europe to America. And this year, she took the necessary trip back home to reconnect and establish her career. Did Nigerians love her soul sound? Yes. But soon, she was off again, flying from London to the US, as she put pen to paper for a major deal with Starbucks coffee.

24. PROJECT FAME: Endemol partnered Ultima Studios and MTN Xtracool to deliver the first ever Project Fame West Africa. On a continent where raw talent abounds, without the necessary structures to nurture them, the talent hunt was an opportunity for thousands of wannabes within the sub-region to attempt to get their voices heard. And for the TV viewer, it was a whole three months of home entertainment…though still a far cry from its rested continental version, the effort.

25. BBA: For all of 90 days, we followed the third season of Big Brother Africa show; taking sides, monitoring our favourite housemates and voting non-stop. And, thankfully, there was no Richard/Ofunneka scandal to mar this year‘s edition. 21 year-old Angolan, Ricco was announced winner on November 23, winning $100,000. Nigeria‘s Uti Nwachukwu was voted out mid-way into the show (exactly day 42).

26. DAN FOSTER: The American broadcaster washed off his Casanova image when he finally settled down this year. Then he shocked us all when he threw in the towel at Cool FM. He has since been with Inspiration FM, where he continues his morning show, and regular Sunday gospel shows.

27. KENNIS: Nigeria‘s foremost record label showed it still has the magic when it launched a hitherto unknown Kelly Hansome into the mainstream within months. A fresh romance with 2face Idibia is also glaring. And, with Kennis TV shaping up, it‘s looking like there‘s no stopping the 10 year-old company

28. RUGGEDMAN: With the likes of Naeto C, MI and Ikechukwu chasing so closely behind, Ruggedman is not slowing down at all. The rapper has his feet on the pedals, moving on at full speed and knocking obstructions out of his way: e.g. Mode 9, whom he dissed on Banging. And, he still holds the title of ‘best rapper‘, according to hip hop world awards 2008.

29. COOL FM: Things got heated up at the Cool station this year. Key members of staff departed in quick succession, including Olisa Adibua, Dan Foster, Ibrahim Abubakar and Chris Ubosi. Then an attempt to rework the Dan Foster formula, using Keith Lane failed woefully, causing the station‘s management to look inwards and settle for DJ Manny as lead anchor for the Good morning Nigeria show.

30. SWE BAR: Located inside the City Mall, Onikan, Lagos, Swe has transformed from a lunch spot for business executives to a major hang-out for some of showbiz industry‘s finest. So, it‘s not surprising that some of the year‘s major events held at Swe. And, also, where do you go to if you want to enjoy rich, live music from bands such as Godbless‘? It‘s Swe!

31. UNRULIES: When a couple of young, upwardly-mobile people come together to form a loose coalition, it‘s not likely it‘ll take long before we notice. And, true, it didn‘t take long before we realised the Unrulies were in our midst. Made up of BBN alumnus-Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, singer-writer Tosyn Bucknor, Newscaster Lamide Akintobi, On-air personality Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi, Marketing communication executive Noble Igwe, Designer Muiyiwa Oshindero, Journalist Chris Ihidero and few others, the young men and women are building a cause from what started as fun, and they‘re inspiring many in their generation to ‘rewrite the rules‘. Now, they‘re even up for team of the year, at the Future Awards next year.

32. KEKE AND D-ONE: The Primetime partners are stuck like Siamese. And they‘ve become globally known, hosting their famous show and covering events all over the world. But, really, what they‘re most respected for within and outside the entertainment industry is their portrayal of showbiz as a bankable industry, and the remarkable successes they‘ve recorded - for themselves and for talents- in an industry hitherto ignored by government and the corporate sector.

33. DJ T: He was named best director at Hip Hop World Awards and best editor at Nigerian Music Video Awards this year. What more proof do you need that Tokunbo Odubawo is on top of his game? The cinematographer is leading the pack of directors who are providing the redefinition of standards, when the subject is music videos. And does he get paid in full!

34. CLARENCE PETERS: 2008 was Mr. Peters’ year. He shot some of the best videos for the year, got named as best director at NMVA, and signed rappers, Kel and Suspect on his record label.

35. KEL: Step aside Sasha, Bouqui and Weird MC, Kel is the new kid on the block. We received the Lagos-based rapper with open arms when she dropped her debut single Waa wa alright. Now, she‘s worked with Sound Sultan, Ill Bliss and others, convincing us she‘s ready for her own full album

36. DON JAZZY: The president of Mo’ Hits Records is one of Nigeria‘s most gifted producers. Driving his business to the top-three league in less than three years, the young entrepreneur is lighting the way for millions of youths strolling closely behind…

37. TY MIX: Many didn‘t know him until he appeared as judge on Project Fame West Africa. But the Abuja-based producer laced the beats for some of the greatest songs this year. E.g. Kini big deal. He‘s worked with everyone that counts already; and together with Dr Frabs, ID Cabasa and Terry G, the beat-maker is plotting a take-over in 2009

38. THISDAY MUSIC FESTIVAL: The annual music extravaganza organised by Nduka Obaigbena‘s Leaders and Company, stormed four cities this year: Abuja, Lagos, London and Washington. Driven by the mission to canvass for investments for Africa, instead of aids, the tour commanded global attention, and was supported by top international models, artistes and leaders.

39. JOICE IZE IYAMU: The CEO of Rogue Entertainment has since parted ways with 2face Idibia. But she remained relevant all through the year, partnering with international labels — Tantrum Records, and Grafton Entertainment. And, she got plenty thumbs up when she teamed up with Hamzat Subair&Co for ‘Understanding Show business‘, a one-day seminar that held in Lagos.

40. HIP TV: The syndicated TV show, produced by Smooth Promotions, brought a lot of life to TV, when it appeared all hope was lost. 2008 is the year the show got on a dozen more stations, entered the UK, and staged an all-white exclusive gig in London to commemorate its first anniversary.

41. NIGEZIE: From day one, they‘ve told us what they are: Extremely Nigerian. Kwame and his team stayed true to the dream all through the year, providing home-made entertainment for viewers on terrestrial and cable TV.

42. SOUNDCITY: Nigeria‘s number one all-music channel has a firm grip on the pulse of urbane youth culture. And, with a new set of ambassadors, a monthly glossy magazine, and the annual Soundcity Blast Concert, they more than kept us all on our toes all through the year

43. ETCETERA: Just Like Asa, Modele, TY Bello and Nayo, the cool rocker made us heave a sigh of relief when he released his self-titled album. Brilliant to the last beat, the X3M music act made talent fashionable again - and now, he‘s reaping the benefits!

44. ID CABASA: The Coded Tunes head-honcho has mastered the language of the beats. But instead of selfishly keeping it to himself alone, he‘s blessing almost every artiste with it, cooking up beats that produce hits. From Ruggedman to 9ice and Banky W, they‘re all giving him kudos.

45. GODFATHER: If you shot a video in South Africa this year, you most likely would have crossed paths with Godfather. Everyone, from P-square to Faze, Weird MC and the Mo Hits crew, have worked with him at one point or the other. With top of the range film equipments, the South Africa-based director is the other factor luring musicians to Jo‘burg - apart from the beautiful scenery, that is!

46. YINKA AIYEFELE: The Ibadan-based musician had an elongated tour of the US this year; and he was away for so long that his protracted absence fuelled rumours that he had been arrested in America. Of course, it was all lies. He hit back at rumour mongers, returned home to honour engagements and set out again…

47. KWEEN: Ms Onokala had it all coming on so fast. But soon, she was running off to the UK without any explanations. It was only later in August that word leaked out she had taken in, and was hibernating in London, to avoid the prying eyes of the press. Those close to her predicted she would get married to her lover, Dotun before year-end, and return to face her career. But, while we still wait for that, the singer‘s new single, Jowobiko is entering the charts already.

48. AY: The fast-rising comedian eventually tied the knots with his long-time lover, Mabel at a celebrity wedding in Lagos. The entire industry trooped to Kris Okotie’s Household of God Church on November 29, as the couple exchanged vows. Done entirely in an interesting style, the ceremony marked the final ‘arrival’ of AY, who, until recently, was a personal assistant to top comedian, Ali Baba.

49. FACEBOOK: Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and his guys, the way we now live has changed so rapidly that we can’t remember the way we used to live. All through the year, artistes used the portal to spread new songs, promote upcoming shows, correspond with fans, and circulate videos. And when we say artistes, we mean every artiste still breathing oxygen - including KWAM 1, Pasuma and Tunde Kuboye. If the blackberry is the most revolutionary mobile business tool, then Facebook would be the most revolutionary social networking site.

50. P-SQUARE: Truth be told, the year did not start on a good note for the hardworking twins. After a trailer load of nominations, they went home empty-handed from the Hip Hop World Awards. And their reaction (The brother/manager Jude told a journalist the awards should be called Yoruba hip hop world awards) generated a bitter controversy that split the industry into two. But the months that followed were fruitful for the Anambra-born entertainers. They headlined countless gigs across the continent, earning more fans than any other act in their category; they escaped a couple of car crashes and Peter even survived a domestic accident. Then they were named best group at Channel O Music Video Awards and the MAMAs. Oh, did we also tell you that Peter got a gift from his lover, Lola Omotayo? What? A cute baby boy

Judge throws out Fayose’s application

A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Thursday, threw out the application of the former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, asking the court to stay further proceedings on a money-laundering suit preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Dismissing the ex-governor‘s application, Justice Tijani Abubakar held that the accused was merely filing applications to waste the time of the court, adding that the application lacked merit.

Fayose is being prosecuted by the EFCC on an alleged N1.4bn money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds.

In the instant application, Fayose had urged the court to stay further proceedings in the suit pending the determination of his appeal at the Court of Appeal in Lagos.

Fayose‘s lawyer, Mr. Owoseni Ajayi, had argued that the appeal raised arguable and substantial issues of law.

But the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Wahab Shittu, opposed the application, adding that the court had earlier struck out an application of similar nature.

In his ruling, Justice Tijani Abubakar held that on the basis of section 40 of the EFCC, which said that proceedings could not be stayed, pending judgment, the accused application must fail.

He said, “The application is devoid of merit and it is hereby refused.”

The judge latter adjourned the matter till February 18, 2009 for trial.

NUJ rejects Akunyili as Information minister

The Nigeria Union of Journalists on Thursday rejected the appointment of Prof. Dora Akunyili as the Minister of Information and Communication.

It said that such an appointment smacked of ill-advice and disdain for the mass media.

In a press statement signed by the National Secretary of the union, Mr. Shu’aibu Usman Leman, in Abuja, the NUJ said that Akunyili’s appointment to the information portfolio was not right.

It said that with Akunyili’s zeal, honesty and commitment to work, she would have been more suitable for the Ministry of Health.

“The NUJ national secretariat, frowns at the recent appointment of Prof. Dora Akunyili as Minister for Information and Communication by President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“The appointment is ill-advised and smacks of the usual disdain with which politicians perceive the media.

“It is noteworthy, the zeal, honesty and commitment “Akunyili brought to bear in the discharge of her assignment as the Director-General of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, and we thus assumed that a personality like her would be assigned the portfolio of Minister of Health.

“That would have been putting a round peg in a round hole rather than the present situation which is a misnomer.”

The NUJ said that all over the world, governments constituted their cabinets “with a clear vision of what they intend to achieve and assigned portfolios to their appointees based on their fields of specialisation.”

The union added that it was apparent that the Yar’Adua administration did not know how it intended to achieve its goal through the appointments.

Meanwhile, Akunyili has declared that her new assignment was a new beginning in her public service.

At a brief handover ceremony at the ministry‘s Radio House Headquarters, Akunyili said telling lies to the public damaged the reputation of any government.

She promised not to lie in the course of her assignment.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Lame, said elsewhere internal security remained a crucial agenda for the administration.

Akunyili‘s predecessor, who has been redeployed to the Ministry of Environment, Mr. John Odey, also said though he was not a slave driver, he got some good results.

Akunyili said, “I have enjoyed serving Nigerians through the NAFDAC where I worked with my wonderful and indefatigable team to safeguard the health of the ordinary Nigerian.

“Today is, therefore, a special day for us. It is indeed a new beginning in my public service life. Today, I find myself stirring the ship of this very important ministry as the chief image maker of Nigeria.

“This ministry represents the image and the soul of the nation. Piloting the affairs of this ministry which will be jointly done by the Minister of State and I cannot be successfully carried out without your support.

“My vision is to work assiduously to shore up the good image of Nigeria through responsible communication which entails proper information management. Responsible information management does not mean telling lies. In fact, one thing we must avoid is telling lies to the public.

“When we lie to the public about any situation, they will surely find out and lose confidence in us as the information mouthpiece of the nation and if this happens, no matter how well-intentioned we eventually become, the public would have lost confidence in us, that they will reject whatever programme or policy we introduce, no matter how credible.”

The new Minister of Police Affairs promised to revitalise the force to be more focused in addressing the nation‘s internal security.

He said, “In actual fact, this government sees security as the basis upon which all the other items will have to be built on and without security, there is no way that we can have an environment to operate.”

Also, the new Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), has said that his ministry is strategic to the realisation of the seven-point agenda of President Umaru Yar’Adua as well as Vision 2020.

Dupri Still Janet's Boyfriend, But Not Her Baby Daddy

The nonfather has spoken.

Jermaine Dupri has taken to his punctuation-eschewing blog to deny rumors that he and longtime love Janet Jackson have broken up and that the pop diva is pregnant, as she was so labeled by a recent magazine cover.

"As you all know Janet is a very private person the only reason you see her as much as you do on my YouTube vlog is because of me LOL," Dupri wrote (in all caps, incidentally).

"But I hear yall and your questions. So hear [sic] you have it… No she is not pregnant and yes we're still together."

Rumors arose that Miss Jackson was expecting after she was forced to miss nearly a dozen dates on her Rock Witchu tour due to, according to her camp, migraine-induced vertigo. Then the lack of Dupri sightings while Jackson was recuperating further hinted at the possibility of a breakup.

A chain reaction that Dupri is apparently familiar with.

"It baffles me how yall let these blog and magazines control your lives [sic]," he continued.

"That's why I created so when ever hear s--t about me you can come right here and get the truth."

Igbinedion convicted, fined

A former Edo State Governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, was on Thursday convicted on a one-count charge of corruption by the Federal High Court, Enugu.

Igbinedion will, however, not go to jail as he was merely fined N3.6m.

The light sentence was the result of a plea-bargain arrangement the former governor entered into with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

But the commission, which arraigned him alongside four companies in which he had interests in, rejected the judgment, saying it would go on appeal.

The EFCC, which had filed a 191-count charge of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement against Igbinedion and the companies made a volte face on Wednesday by dropping the charges. It filed an amended 24-count but arraigned him on just a count.

Igbenedion, who had earlier pleaded not guilty to the 191-count charge, admitted being liable to the one-count charge.

The single charge reads, “That you, Lucky Igbinedion (former governor of Edo State) on or about January 21, 2008, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court neglected to make a declaration of your interest in the account No. 41240113983110 with GTBank in the declaration of Assets Form of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 27(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004.”

The second accused, Kiva Corporation, was convicted on two of the 23 count- charge levelled against it and ordered to pay N500m fine and to forfeit its landed properties.

The properties include a parcel of land at Asokoro, Abuja, a detached building on two plots comprising four- bedroom and two outer houses in GRA, Benin, and a storey building also in Benin, to the Federal Government.

Igbinedion, who came with a few of his aides, paid the fine within minutes after the verdict and was driven away in a white Peugeot 307 marked Nasarawa AG 16 NSW.

During the proceedings, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, informed the court that the EFCC had withdrawn the charges against the accused and filed amended charges against them.

The former governor thereafter, entered the dock where he pleaded guilty.

Jacobs had told the court that the former governor failed to disclose in his assets declaration form that he had N3, 579, 524.16 in his GTBank account.

He tendered five exhibits, including the certified true copy of the assets declaration form, the statement of account of Kiva Corporation which showed how monies were paid into the GTBank account; and payment vouchers from the Edo State Government House showing how monies were withdrawn and lodged into the account of the company.

The index of payment received from government house showing withdrawals and payments of money to the company was also tendered.

The prosecution urged the court to consider the ingredients under count two and three where payments totaling N30m was made to Kiva Corporation on January 10, 2007 and another sum of N70m paid to the same company on May 17, 2007 by one Pat Eboigbodin, an Edo State Government official.

“These showed that the company retained the proceed of crime and Your Lordship is empowered under section 16 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004 to convict the accused for the offence,” Jacob said.

It urged the court to take the facts as stated and to convict accordingly.

Igbinedion’s lawyer, Mr. Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN), did not object.

The former governor was then directed to confirm the ingredients of the facts which he did.

Shortly before Justice Abdullahi Kafarati adjourned to prepare the judgment, Oyeyipo made an allocutus (plea for mitigation of sentence).

He prayed the court to consider the fact that his client voluntarily returned to the country from a foreign trip when he learnt that the EFCC had filed charges against him.

Oyeyipo said, “Your Lordship would observe that on occasions when he was granted leave to travel, he had always returned to face trial.

“Even when he acquired the e-passport, without any prompting, he submitted the passport to the court. The accused was charged with neglecting to make a declaration of assets, but he didn’t willfully refuse or knowingly refuse to disclose his interest in an account.

“The amount in the account as stated by the prosecution is N3, 579, 524.16; this is not an amount he would ordinarily want to hide. My Lord, the account is that of a first offender and this offence is a strict liability offence.

“Taking the circumstances into consideration, the status of the accused before he became Edo State Governor and also as a former governor, we respectfully urge your Lordship to impose the mildest punishment sir, particularly, having regards to section 382 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act which is applicable in this count.”

In his judgment, Justice Kafarati convicted Igbinedion and Kiva Corporation as charged by virtue of the facts and exhibits presented before him.

Kafarati took cognisance of what he called the demeanor of the accused and the severity of his offence before pronouncing the verdict.

He said, “Having considered the charge against the first accused and since the amount is negligible, he is therefore sentenced to a fine of N3, 579, 524.16, being the amount in the GTBank account he failed to declare.

“He should be remanded in EFCC custody until he pays the fine,” the judge ordered.

Oyeyipo thanked the judge for the ‘wise exercise’ of his power.

But the EFCC later issued a statement in which it said that it was disappointed by the judgment of the court.

It claimed in the statement by its Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, that it “would rather go the long way of prosecution than to settle for a plea-bargain verdict that has no bite or will not serve any deterrence purpose.”

The statement reads, “The former governor had sought for a plea-bargain in the course of his prosecution by the EFCC. The outcome of the exercise at the court in Enugu however fell short of our expectation.

“It is believed that the essence of a plea-bargain is not only for suspects to forfeit the proceeds of crime but that such should go with a sentence which will serve as deterrent.

“In view of this development, the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, has instructed the commission‘s counsel to file an appeal against the verdict immediately.”

Oyeyipo later told journalists that the summary of the charges against his client “either in their original or amended form, bordered on the use of security votes or utilisation of duty tour allowance.”

The Senior Advocate added that the experience of his client in the past 11 months had been humbling and traumatic.

Jacobs, in an interview with our correspondent, said he was neither happy nor sad over the judgment.

He said, “The judge exercised his discretion in sentencing the accused, so there was nothing we could do. I may appeal if directed to do so, but the fact that the accused is convicted is enough.”