Saturday, 29 November 2014

Open Data Party Abuja

For the first time in my life I decided to use a power point presentation to share my experience as a journalist. In 2011, when I was selected among the caravan journalists to speak on our experience of traveling by road through six African countries, I used a short video. Also I did same thing in 2012 when I won an award for my contribution to environment journalism.

So I was invited to make a presentation at a party, not just any party but an #OpenDataParty! In September, I won an award for my data story on the documentation of ocean surge in OKUN Alfa community in Lagos. As a result was invited by a non-governmental organisation known as CODE i.e Connected Development to share my story telling skills using data. I had to force myself to use a power point presentation, which I set out to produce on the morning of my presentation. One powerful tool I have used as a journalist to authenticate and give life to my stories are pictures. This same tool has become my strength and I learnt through the #OpenDataParty that "Evidence is Power". 

                                      With The Google Ambassadors

The commendation I got after my presentation from different participants encouraged me the more to bring out the stories behind people and communities affected by socio-economic disparity. I will seek out more communities and amplify their voices to demand and engage stakeholders in the quest for human/societal development.

                                 With Bamidele Sidney and Olufemi Joshua

                                               With Femi the Investigative Journalist

I met lots of interesting people who are passionate about technology,data,human and societal development from different field. No party like the #OpenDataParty!!!!!! I will bring you the full gist of the party soonest.

My best is yet to come and I press on for greater height. Viva!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Jos: The weather, the food and the discord.

My first visit to Jos was in 2012 when I went to pay a solidarity visit to my brother to relocate due to the incessant killings and insecurity in a once peaceful town. I was so conscious of my every move that I barely spent 24hours before leaving in a hurry. My brother wanted us to hang out but my fear-ridden mind can't stand been in a crowded place in that city.

Two years later, I was back in Jos to attend the wedding of a friend that enabled me to travel from Edo state to this same city I once dreaded. But as we drove from Edo-Kogi-Nasarawa-Kaduna-Plateau, I began to fall in love with Jos. Coming through Bukuru into Jos and seeing so much food and fresh vegetables made me realize Lagos was far from attaining the millennium development goal MDG one, which is eradicating hunger and poverty.

The Food

Due to violent attacks that has left thousands dead in Plateau state, there are lots of check points mounted by deadly looking Joint Task force security operatives. In one of the check points were directives for motorists which included don't give or take money from members of the task force. This was a funny instruction as corrupt practices such as that are common in road blocks and check points across the country. As we drove into the city of Jos from Bukuru  we were besieged by hawkers who approached our vehicles with their wares, ranging from fruits to vegetables and food stuff. These items were fresh and cheap, in short too cheap for a Lagosian like me. Imagine a bucket of tatashe for #200!!!!! When I buy three pieces of tatashe for #50 with a thank you. A nylon filled with carbage for #150, a bucket of orange for #100!!!!!!!! This would have been a bad dream and nightmare for me to comprehend if I was in Lagos. And they were all looking FRESH!!!!!

The Weather

Immediately we approached Plateau state, the weather changed. The weather is between hot sun in the afternoon to cool, then chilling and cold. As a student in my undergraduate days, I had these sisters in my school that lived in Jos. They were fond of eating hot food and we do wonder why. They will tell us that in Jos, you don't keep a hot food for a while before eating because the food could get blocked like ice block. That began to make sense when I checked into my hotel room and was trying to do some laundry. As I washing, the water from the tap began to freeze my hand. I had to stop. When I got talking with my brother later on, he told me that in Jos food don't go sour if you forget to heat them up. The weather has a natural way of preserving food. All through my two days in Jos, the weather was continuously as though I was inside an air conditioned room. According to my brother, this was a normal temperature for Jos before the main harmattan starts in December and when the rain falls it comes with some ice block. Household appliances like fan or air condition are hardly purchased in Jos because the weather is favourable almost all year round.

The city is so beautiful, cool, serene and neat. A far cry from my Lagos. Where noise, hustle and bustle was the order of the day. I am sure if I was relocate to Jos, I might need a rehab to get me to adjust to the style of living in this city. But in all of these, there was now a common trend I discovered in Jos that broke my heart and gave me serious concern. The seed of discord and religious intolerance in this beautiful city.

Discord: My Zone versus Your Zone

In Jos town most residents lived within zones consciously divided between Christians and Muslims. This they believe helps to guarantee safety during conflict, but this was not how the once tourist state used to be. According to residents, you feel safe walking at night in your zone but if you are not in your zone at night, you are on your own (OYO).

I went a step further to enquire from some of the residents if they have friends outside their religious beliefs and the response was heartbreaking. Having a friend outside their faith put them at risk during crisis period. I wept inside at how religion has become a major pun used to divide us against ourselves. As a child my mum had Muslim friends and during all the major festive seasons, we visited them to partake in feasting with them but that is an illusion in Jos. 

                                      Bukuru Road 

I noticed some constructions ongoing in the city of Jos, but I will personally appeal to Governor Jang to try and finish the construction of the Bukuru road that leads into the main city, before the end of this present administration in 2015. Jos is beautiful by nature but not by development. I look forward to visiting again but not by road because I might end up traveling for 24hours! 

Rotary Club of Lagos Donates Wheel chairs



Members of the public who have their mobility impaired as a result of accidents, congenital defects,polio afflictions amongst other causes, were beneficials of one hundred and ten wheelchairs presented by the Rotary club of Lagos in partnership with the wheelchair foundation of the United Kingdom.

The President of Rotary Club of Lagos Rotarian Ayo Banjo said the presentation of the wheelchair represents the culmination of vigorous efforts by Rotary club to successfully impact the needy in the society.

"It has been a period of daunting challenges, but the conviction that the society needs us as a service-oriented body has kept us going. The presence of the beneficiaries is also a source of strong encouragement to continue with this".

Rotarian Banjo pointed out that the wheelchair presentation was in line with Rotary International goal to observe the Rotary Foundation which focuses to change lives around the world. He added that they are tapping into a global network of Rotarians who invest time,money and expertise into areas of priorities.

The wheelchair was presented to individuals, institutions, hospitals, churches and higher institutions. Some of the beneficiaries included Muritala Mohammed International Airports, Diocese of Lagos West Anglican Communion, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomosho.

The Representative from the National Orthopedic Hospital Igbobi Dr. Muna Chira said the donation of wheelchairs to the hospital will go a long way in alleviating the challenges faced by patients when they need to move around. "As a trauma center that have patients suffering from spinal cord injury this is welcome initiative", he added.

One of the beneficiary of the wheelchair, thirty-one year old Kazeem Waheed said the wheel chair apart from aiding his mobility will once again give him the opportunity to fulfill his dream of participating in sport. "I love playing soccer and table tennis but have not been able to join the team at the National Stadium in Surulere. But now I can belong to one of the teams involved in my desire sports. This wheelchair given to me, makes me believe that some people are concerned about the plight of people living with disability. Government should create job opportunities as this will give hope to people living with disability. Disability is not the end of the world", he concluded.

Also Mrs Morenikeji Ayodele who received a wheelchair express delight at the gesture of the Rotary Club of Lagos but called for more support from other well meaning Nigerians. "The Lagos state government is now constructing pedestrians bridges that can allow people using wheelchair access the bridges. But private constructions are not following the pattern of the government. I want the government to ensure that both private and public buildings are accessible by people living with disability. Also roads been constructed should have where we can ride our wheelchairs".

Rotarian Adeoye Tugbogbo of the Rotary Club of Lagos said the wheelchair given to the churches is to aid movement of people living with disability, the sick who might be discouraged from coming to church. He said the church should not only be concerned about the spiritual wellbeing of its members but also about their physical needs and welfare. This he said is like evangelism.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014



The tabling of national climate action commitments by the world's two major polluters, the US and China, adds welcome momentum to what will amount to our first steps in unison down a low carbon development pathway that brings us closer to a phase out fossil fuel pollution in favour of 100% renewable energy.  

Other countries should see these "game-changing" announcements by the US and China as a strong signal of commitment to the collective international effort to act on climate change as they prepare their own national plans. 

The US and China's announcement comes hot on the heels of the EU's 2030 climate target which means that countries representing more than half the world's GDP have outlined their first offers which will form the foundation of a comprehensive, global agreement to limit climate change due in Paris in December 2015. 

Of course, to take advantage of all the benefits that climate action can deliver, such as better public health, more jobs and stronger economies, China and the US can both do more. To more quickly speed up the on-going transition to renewable energy,  China can, for example, work to peak its coal consumption by 2020, while the US can put money on the table at the Green Climate Fund pledging conference next week, allowing developing countries to boost their own action. Such steps will further build confidence in national capitals as they build their own climate action plans. 

In addition, with the international community still working out the parameters of the Paris agreement, the US and China - along with all countries -  need to factor in the need to review the collective pledges once they are in order that they can be assessed for fairness and scaled up to meet the agreed threshold beyond which the climate will spin out of control. 

Punch First Female Editor wins Prestigious Journalism Award

  • Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye

Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, a winner of the 2014 ICFJ Knight International Journalism Award, is a veteran investigative reporter whose environmental and health stories have made a widespread impact on Nigerian communities.

Ogunseye is the youngest and first female editor in the 40-year history of Sunday Punch, a widely read Lagos newspaper. In a three-part series, she proved that residents in a well-to-do community in Lagos had high levels of toxins in their blood caused by pollutants from a nearby steel plant. The coverage prompted the government to shut down the plant, and to allow it to reopen only under strict new regulations.

Her investigation into the death of a student who fell into a pit latrine resulted in a government initiative to replace the dangerous facilities. Another of her stories revealed how a nuclear power plant was about to be built in a poor neighborhood. After her piece ran, citizens mobilized, sued the government and stopped construction.

Her story on how newborns were dying at a top Nigerian hospital due to lack of adequate facilities forced the hospital to buy more incubators for high-risk infants.

Ogunseye started her career as a reporter at the Sun newspaper in Lagos, Nigeria, where she covered metro, crime and business news. A biochemistry graduate of the University of Lagos, Ogunseye earned a post-graduate diploma in print journalism from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism and a master of science in media and communications from the Pan African University. She is currently completing a PhD in politics and international relations from the University of Leicester in England.

UN launches campaign to End Statelessness



UNHCR has  launched a global “I Belong” campaign aimed at ending within 10 years the problem of statelessness – a devastating legal limbo for the millions of people worldwide who lack any nationality and the human rights protections that go with it. The goal of eradicating statelessness is looking increasingly possible thanks to dramatic recent progress in the number of States acceding to two key UN human rights treaties.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie  and more than 20 celebrities and world opinion-leaders published an Open Letter, saying that 60 years after the United Nations first agreed to protect stateless people, “now it’s time to end statelessness itself.”

At least ten million people worldwide are currently stateless and a baby is born stateless every ten minutes. Not allowed a nationality, they are often denied the rights and services that countries normally offer their citizens.

“Statelessness can mean a life without education, without medical care or legal employment… a life without the ability to move freely, without prospects or hope,” the Open Letter said. “Statelessness is inhuman. We believe it is time to end this injustice.”

UNHCR’s Special Envoy Angelina Jolie was among the first to sign the Open Letter. “Being stateless means you and your children having no legal identity, no passport, no vote, and few or no opportunities to get an education. Ending statelessness would right these terrible wrongs.  But it would also strengthen society in countries where stateless people are found, by making it possible to draw on their energy and talents. It is both an obligation and an opportunity for governments everywhere to put an end to this exclusion.”

Most situations of statelessness are a direct consequence of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion or gender. Moreover, 27 countries at present deny women the right to pass their nationality on to their children on an equal basis with men, a situation that can create chains of statelessness that span generations. There is also a very real link between statelessness, displacement and regional stability.

UNHCR’s campaign is being launched amid signs of a shift in international attitudes surrounding statelessness. Just three years ago, there were barely 100 States parties to the two statelessness treaties - the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Today the number of accessions stands at 144, bringing critical mass within reach.

Nonetheless, despite such progress, new risks of statelessness have emerged with the growing number of major conflicts. The wars in Central African Republic and Syria for example have forced millions of people into internal displacement or into becoming refugees.


Tens of thousands of refugee children have been born in exile and UNHCR is working closely with the governments and partners in the countries receiving refugees on prioritizing birth registration for these children. The fact that many lack documents or the fact that in some situations fathers have gone missing because of the conflict means that many of these children may face difficulties in proving that they are citizens. 

UNHCR has partnered with the United Colors of Benetton to create the ‘I Belong’ campaign, which aims to draw global attention to the devastating life-long consequences of statelessness. Benetton, in its spirit of supporting social campaigns has developed the creative content of the campaign and the campaign website to host it. Following the campai gn launch, the Open Letter will become an online petition on this new microsite, aiming to collect ten million signatures in support of ending statelessness within ten years.

UNHCR also released a Special Report on Statelessness which highlights the human impact of the phenomenon, and a ten-point Global Action Plan to End Statelessness which aims both to resolve major existing crises and to ensure no child is born stateless in the future. 

“Statelessness makes people feel like their very existence is a crime,” said Guterres. “We have a historic opportunity to end the scourge of statelessness within 10 years, and give back hope to millions of people. We cannot afford to fail this challenge.”

While issues of statelessness remain politically contentious in some countries, in others ending it can be as simple as changing a few words in a country’s citizenship law. Over the past decade, legislative and policy changes have allowed more than four million stateless people to acquire a nationality or have their nationality confirmed. For example, a 2008 High Court ruling in Bangladesh allowed 300,000 stateless Urdu-speakers to become citizens, ending generations of despair. In Côte d’Ivoire, where statelessness was a root cause of a decade of armed conflict, legal reforms in 2013 allow long-term residents in the country to finally acquire a nationality. In Kyrgyzstan, more than 65,000 former USSR citizens have acquired or confirmed their Kyrgyz citizenship since 2009.

2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, which, alongside the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, provides the international legal basis for ending statelessness. With enough political will, UNHCR believes statelessness can be resolved. And unlike so many other problems facing governments today, statelessness can be solved in our lifetime.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Typhoon Haiyan: One Year but the memories are still fresh



It's been almost a year since Typhoon Haiyan left a path of destruction and tragedy in the Philippines. It’s hard for many of us to comprehend the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan but for the 15,000 people still living in tent cities, the impact of these storms are all too real.

Even in the face of such devastation, they had a collective spirit of the survivors as they responded with courage, resilience and heroism. They have shown the courage to continue, the resilience to rise up despite terrible loss, and the heroism to fight for justice.

As the people of the Philippines struggle to rebuild their lives it’s easy to understand why many people think the world has forgotten them.

As the people of the Philippines try to rebuild their lives, you can send a message of support to let them know that the world hasn’t forgotten about them.

Your messages will be displayed at The People’s Surge rally in The Philippines where over 20,000 people will gather. Writing a message won’t take long and it will show the survivors that they are not alone in their fight for justice. This is a global movement and you stand together with them.

Typhoon Haiyan reminds us that climate change is about far more than the environment. It’s about justice. The world’s most vulnerable people -- the ones that did the least to cause climate change -- are the ones that will feel its impacts first and worst.

Let the survivors of Haiyan know that you stand with them and will not give up the fight against the fossil fuel industry that is causing these storms.

Super storms like Typhoon Haiyan are the true face of the fossil fuel industry and unless we can rein in this rogue industry we will see even more record breaking storms.

To take on the fossil fuel industry we need to be twice as strong as Typhoon Haiyan. We need global movement to stand together and say that they will not let storms like Haiyan become a way of life; we will stand together for climate action.

International Action to Stop Illegal Killing of Birds Stepped Up at UN Wildlife Conference


Intensive unsustainable hunting and illegal killing of migratory birds are taking place in many parts of the world driving species to the brink of extinction. Some of the affected migratory birds are globally threatened such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Yellow-breasted Bunting, which are protected under the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). At the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention (CMS COP11), currently taking place in Quito, Ecuador, countries are due to take steps to combat illegal killing, trapping and trade in birds.

CMS Executive Secretary Bradnee Chambers said: “The CMS resolution on illegal killing of birds is a much needed measure within a wider initiative to prevent global wildlife crime. By supporting international efforts to stop massive killing of birds, Parties to CMS can help ensure the survival of many endangered bird species.”

The resolution on the prevention of illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds being proposed for adoption at CMS COP11, calls on Parties to the Convention to work together to address this threat. It underlines that countries need to ensure that adequate national legislation is in place and enforced in compliance with existing bird protection laws.

A key measure proposed by the resolution is the creation of an intergovernmental task force to address illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds to tackle the problem.  This Task Force will support governments and other stakeholders to stop the illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds, including through exchange of best practice, promoting monitoring of trends in these illegal activities and encouraging the development of specific action plans at regional and international level.

CMS and its African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) have already assisted Egypt and Libya to develop an action plan to put an end to the practice by local hunters of trapping migrant songbirds. While this has been a longstanding tradition, it has increased in intensity to the extent that there is now a 700-km line of nylon nets set up along the Mediterranean coastline of North Africa which is probably contributing to the population decline of some species.


BirdLife International is currently leading a quantitative assessment of the scale of illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean. Preliminary results from under half of the 27 countries assessed already suggest that tens of millions of individual birds may be illegally killed each year.  Huge numbers of birds are killed during their spring migration in Malta every year, including raptors, waterbirds, landbirds and many other species that are protected by international law.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Restoring Beach Economy Through Beach Clean-Up.

Lagos is known to be a coastal state surrounded with water bodies that serve as streams, rivers, beaches and pockets of small communities that are islands. But some of these natural created beaches along the Lagos shoreline are losing their beauty and worth due to sea level rise that is eroding some of the beaches.

                                     Alpha Beach 

Alpha Beach use to be among the top destination spot for revelers during weekends and festive season, but that is now an old tale. The beach has experienced continuous ocean surges which has led to neglect and total abandonment by all. Alpha Beach in Okun Alfa community is situated along the Lekki/Ajah expressway. 

                                       Pelu Awofeso

But one man's desire to bring life to Alpha Beach resulted in a beach clean up, that was led by 100 volunteers made up of young people. Pelu Awofeso, a culture and tourism advocate who is the Publisher of Waka About Media said, the clean and blue beaches he has seen in other countries visited, makes him want to restore the "Beach Economy" of beaches in Lagos.

"When a beach is clean, it's attract tourists and this in turn brings about buying and selling around such areas. The host communities benefit from the visit and patronage of people who come to enjoy nature. This makes them want to showcase what they have, their businesses, culture through food,clothing and accessories. That is what is know as "Beach Economy". It creates an economy within the community where a beach is situated and been patronised. 

With several other beaches in Lagos, Mr. Awofeso explained why he chose Alpha Beach for the clean up exercise. "I chose to clean up Alpha Beach because it is a community beach and not private beach. The community has a link to this place but so unfortunate how this place has turned out. The Lagos state government can revive beach tourism in this once popular beach and I believe that through initiative like this we can restore beach economy of beaches in Lagos and other parts of the country".

                                      Beach Samaritan

"This clean up exercise is not going to be a one off, we will be going around the state looking for beaches that need to be cleaned up. That is what I call "Beach Samaritan". It is my desire to sea our beaches clean and patronised, so that the socio-economic activities of host communities can increase".

                                  LAWMA Truck

"When we were planning this clean up, we called for volunteers through social media platforms and were amazed at the zeal and passion expressed by respondents. We also needed sponsors and were able to get a few of them with the Lagos State Waste Management Authority LAWMA been our chief sponsor. LAWMA supplied all the cleaning materials we needed for our volunteers to work with and also they gave us a bus to use. We got other sponsors here and there but not enough to cater for all we need, but I can say it is a success".

The General Manager of Radio 103.5 fm who was the special guest of Honour at the clean up exercise Mrs Funke Treasure-Durodola said a beach is a place that people come to relax and enjoy nature. "But the state I saw this beach was not encouraging or attractive to make me visit. If we all can stand up to support initiatives like this, the environment will be better for all. Initiatives like this need the buy-in of the State government and other corporate organizations".

                                   Pyramid Dance Group

Also in attendance were a group of young and energetic dancers called the pyramid dance group. They dance for the environment. They danced to different music as a DJ was on ground to dish out music.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Time Out With Foodies and Spice

Watching a Programme on Television and later becoming a guest on such a Programme were things I did as a child. For example being a participant on "Speak Out", Junior Challenge and the then end of the month party, which were all organised by NTA in the 80's and 90's.

But just last week Friday I came across this Programme on TVC called "Foodies and Spice".The style of presentation by the Host Geena was so entertaining that you will be salivating before she finished cooking. She had guest on the Programme who she called "foodalholic" and as a food person, don't be bother by my body size I was thrilled. According to her to be a guest "foodalholic" on the Programme, just go on twitter and follow @foodiesandspice after which, you send in pictures of food you cooked. This on her website are called "foodie", you know like "selfie".

I had so many pictures of food I had cooked in the past and I set out  to follow her on twitter and started tweeting my food pics.

Then on Wednesday, I received a private message on twitter from @foodiesandspice that I should come to their kitchen. Immediately I received the message I imagined what she would cook and the gifts I was going to receive because the "foodalholic" she had on the episode I watched were given lots of gifts.

                          Geena Moore Host of Foodies and Spice

I got to the address at the right time and met the host of @foodiesandspice who is @geenamoore and also the General Manager of Wale Adenuga Production Television WAPTV. She is such a beautiful,young, charming lady. We got talking and she explained what I should expect when the shooting of the Programme starts.

                                            Foodies and Spice Kitchen/Studio

She took me to the kitchen, which was built inside a studio. The Air condition was chilling. The intresting thing about her style of presentation was the fact that she spoke in "Pidgin-English" infused with some drama. I mean she danced a bit in an entertaining way, if all cooking was done like that cooking will be so much fun!!!!

Before I appeared on set to eat the meal for the day, I had a makeover. In the past I had one makeover during the shooting of a video and I removed it immediately. But after this one was done, I believed I looked great.

                        Before my make over
           My after pic. What do you think? 

The meal for the day was bitter leaf and scent leaf blended together, cooked with assorted meats,fish and other "press able" as she calls them. This was served with Golden Penny Semovita, Golden Penny is one of the sponsors of the Programme.

I enjoyed the meal and went home with a carton filled with different giftssssss!!!!! The best of my gifts was the CHI frozen chicken but also they have the smoked chicken that tasted like bush meat. 

                                    Planting a kiss on Geena of the Belle-Full Ministry 
     My goody bag filled with lots of giftsssss

Foodies and Spice has been nominated for the Nigerian Broadcasting Merit Award for best use of branded products. Kindly vote on the website for this amazing Programme that shows on Television Continental TVC on Friday by 5Pm. Also if you want to be of the Programme, follow on twitter and send your food pictures:foodie. In the words of the host @geenamoore "we cook, we chop and we belle full". It is called the Belle-Full Ministry!