Super User

Super User

Just the mention of budgeting can conjure up thoughts of scarcity and cutting out fun, enough to have even the most seasoned entrepreneurs shaking in their boots. But it's time to reframe how you think about budgeting for your business.

Your financial numbers represent the reality of your company's performance, regardless of whether you know them or monitor them. Can you confidently answer if you have sufficient funds to expand into a new office space, hire additional staff or launch a new product line? How can you make informed decisions if you don't know your numbers? Without a clear understanding, decision-making becomes guesswork.

And what if you have a lot more money going out than coming in? There's a real danger in not knowing. As you run the daily operations, it's easy to take your eye off the proverbial financial ball. As I experienced firsthand, things like a runaway train can quickly get out of control. Overspending, missed opportunities and potential financial distress can quickly derail even the most promising ventures.

One of the first things I do with my clients is review their finances. By reviewing their financial situation in detail, we can identify problem areas, set realistic goals, and create a budget that aligns with their business priorities.

Budgeting doesn't mean cutting everything out or sacrificing growth. Rather than focusing on limitations, consider it a roadmap to financial freedom, enabling you to align expenses with your business priorities. Yes, sometimes you may need to run lean, but it's not permanent; it's "just for now." View it as a temporary strategic phase that allows you to gain control over your finances and allocate resources intentionally for future opportunities and growth.

It is not just about controlling spending but also figuring out how to increase sales and revenue. How can you make more money? Start by identifying new market opportunities or untapped customer segments. Innovate your product or service offerings to meet market demands. Improve your sales strategies through targeted marketing campaigns and leveraging social media/digital platforms to reach a broader audience. Consider partnerships or collaborations that can open new revenue streams. By focusing on these aspects, you can create a proactive plan that manages expenses and drives growth and profitability.

A crucial aspect of effective budgeting is comparing your budget to your actual spending. Regularly reviewing this comparison helps ensure that your spending aligns with your budget and highlights areas you might need to adjust. For example, if certain expenses are consistently higher than anticipated, you may need to revise your budget or find ways to reduce those costs.

Additionally, income and expenses can fluctuate, so it's important to tweak and adjust your budget monthly. This flexibility allows you to respond to changes in your business environment and ensures that your budget remains a useful tool for financial planning.

I personally experienced how important it is to have a budget. Even with my background as a CPA, I didn't take my own advice, and as I rapidly expanded my restaurants, opening one a year, I became heavily involved in the openings and didn't pay close attention to the financial details. When I finally took a moment to slow down and look, it became apparent that we were spending more money than we were making, despite being busy and having high sales.

By implementing a detailed budget and reviewing it month to month, I was able to identify discrepancies and areas where we were overspending. This regular review allowed me to make necessary adjustments and turn around most of the locations, getting them in line and operating successfully. This experience brought forward the importance of diligent budgeting and financial monitoring.

Practical tips for effective budgeting

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define what you want to achieve with your budget. Whether it's saving for expansion, reducing debt, or increasing profits, having clear goals will guide your budgeting decisions.
  2. Track Expenses Diligently: Monitor every expense using accounting software or budgeting apps. If you prefer, use a spreadsheet. Whatever the choice, make sure you are tracking.
  3. Regularly Review Your Spending:Ensure it aligns with your budget.
  4. Adjust as Needed: Budgets are not set in stone. If you notice certain strategies aren't working, don't hesitate to make adjustments.
  5. Involve Your Team: Ensure that key team members understand the budget and their role in adhering to it.

 

Entrepreneur

Nigeria's inflation rate increased to 33.95% in May, driven primarily by surging prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report released on Saturday. This marks a slight rise from April's inflation rate of 33.69%.

"Comparing month-over-month data, the headline inflation rate in May 2024 increased by 0.26 percentage points from April 2024," stated the NBS. "Year-over-year, the headline inflation rate was 11.54 percentage points higher than the 22.41% recorded in May 2023."

The report further highlighted that on a month-to-month basis, May's headline inflation rate was 2.14%, a slight decrease from April's 2.29%. This indicates that while prices are still rising, the pace of increase slowed compared to the previous month.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages were the top contributors to headline inflation, accounting for 17.59%. Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels followed with 5.68%, while clothing and footwear (2.60%), transport (2.21%), and furnishings, household equipment, and maintenance (1.71%) rounded out the top five contributors.

The NBS reported that urban inflation rose to 36.34% in May, up 12.61 percentage points from 23.74% in May 2023. Month-to-month, urban inflation was 2.35% in May, down 0.32 percentage points from April’s 2.67%.

Rural inflation was reported at 31.82% year-over-year in May, an increase of 10.63 percentage points from the 21.19% recorded in May 2023.

Food inflation specifically soared to 40.66% in May, up from 24.82% in the same month last year—a rise of 15.84 percentage points. The NBS attributed this increase to higher prices of staple foods such as semovita, oatflake, yam flour, garri, beans, Irish potatoes, yam, water yam, palm oil, vegetable oil, stockfish, mudfish, crayfish, beef head, live chicken, pork head, and bush meat.

On a month-to-month basis, food inflation was 2.28% in May, down from 2.50% in April.

Three people travelling on boat have been abducted by gunmen in Lagos.

The trio were reportedly whisked away while travelling by boat around Falomo Bridge from Apapa in Lagos.

While names of the abducted victims have not been ascertained, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said that the marine unit of the command got a report of three persons being kidnapped on water.

“We also got the report and we have started looking into it. Our marine department got that report.

“It was reported to them that three people were kidnapped. Their boat was found somewhere in Ikorodu and we have started looking into that,” Hundeyin said when contacted by Channels Television.

According to him, the police got the report just like every other person but have already swung into action to ascertain what happened, where it happened and how.

 

CTV

 

In the latest thrilling episode of Nigeria’s burgeoning kidnapping drama, we have witnessed yet another remarkable innovation: abductions on water. Yes, indeed, three unsuspecting boat passengers found themselves unwilling participants in this aquatic adventure, whisked away by gunmen near Falomo Bridge, Lagos on Saturday, June 15. The Lagos State Police, always a beacon of swift action and effectiveness, have of course “started looking into it.” Bravo!

One can only admire the creativity of Nigeria's criminal masterminds. With thousands already abducted by land, it was high time our intrepid kidnappers took to the seas. President Bola Tinubu must be proud. After all, when he promised to tackle insecurity, who could have guessed he meant giving kidnappers the confidence to diversify their portfolios?

But why stop at the sea? With over 7,000 abductions in Tinubu’s first year, and the daring recent boat heist, it’s only a matter of time before the skies become the next frontier. Imagine the headlines: "Passengers Abducted Mid-Flight in Nigerian Airspace!" It’s the logical next step, isn't it? Given the current trend, passengers may soon need to choose their airlines based not just on comfort and price, but on the likelihood of being hijacked.

Let’s not forget President Tinubu’s stirring inaugural promises. “Security shall be the top priority of our administration,” he declared with conviction. And yet, the numbers tell a different story. With over 4,500 fatalities and 7,000 kidnappings in his first year alone, perhaps the President is redefining what “security” means. Maybe, just maybe, he’s aiming for a record-breaking performance, ensuring Nigeria tops global abduction statistics.

In all seriousness, the tragic reality behind this lighthearted lamentation is a nation gripped by fear, where safety is a luxury few can afford. The government's response has been tepid at best, with grand promises and little to show for them. The recent marine abduction is not just a bizarre twist; it's a damning indictment of an administration that has failed to protect its citizens, whether on land, sea, or potentially soon, in the air.

So here’s to the brave Nigerian travelers, who might soon need parachutes as part of their standard travel gear. Fly safe, if you dare!

Eight Israeli soldiers killed as fighting continues in Rafah

Eight Israeli soldiers were killed in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, the military said, as forces continued to push in and around the southern city of Rafah and strikes hit several areas of Gaza, killing at least 19 Palestinians.

The soldiers, all members of a combat engineering unit, were in an armoured carrier that was hit by an explosion that detonated engineering materials being carried on the vehicle, apparently in contravention of standard practice, the military said. It said the early morning incident, in the Tel al-Sultan area in the west of Rafah, was being investigated.

The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas said the vehicle had been trapped in a prepared minefield that set off the explosion.

Israeli tanks advanced in Tel al-Sultan and shells landed in the coastal area, where thousands of Palestinians, many of them displaced several times already, have sought refuge.

Despite growing international pressure for a ceasefire, an agreement to halt the fighting still appears distant, more than eight months since the start of the war in October, with the near-daily cross-border exchanges of fire with Hezbollah militia fighters in southern Lebanon intensifying.

In Israeli airstrikes on two houses in Gaza City suburbs, residents said at least 15 people were killed. Four others were killed in separate attacks in the south, medics said.

The Israeli military on Saturday said its forces in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, close to the border with Egypt, had captured large quantities of weapons, both above ground and concealed in the extensive tunnel network built by Hamas.

It said militants had on Friday fired five rockets from the humanitarian area in central Gaza, two of which fell in open areas in Israel and three fell short in Gaza.

"This is a further example of the cynical exploitation of humanitarian infrastructure and the civilian population as human shields by terror organizations in the Gaza Strip for their terrorist attacks," the military said.

PROTESTS

The deaths of the soldiers may complicate the political situation facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a week after centrist former general Benny Gantz quit the government, accusing Netanyahu of having no proper strategy for Gaza.

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday in the latest of the now weekly protests by families and supporters of hostages still held by Hamas, demanding an agreement to bring them home.

In a video statement issued late on Saturday, Netanyahu said there was no alternative but to stick to the goals of the war to defeat Hamas and bring the hostages back.

Although surveys show solid support among the Israeli public for continuing the war against Hamas, the protests underscore the divisions in Israeli society that have reopened following a period of unity at the start of the war.

The Islamic Jihad armed wing, Al-Quds Brigades, said on Saturday Israel could only regain its hostages in Gaza if it ended the war and pulled out forces from the enclave.

Islamic Jihad is a smaller ally of Hamas, which led a rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. More than 100 hostages are believed to remain captive in Gaza, although at least 40 have been declared dead in absentia by Israeli authorities.

Since a week-long truce in November, repeated attempts to arrange a ceasefire have failed, with Hamas insisting on a permanent end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Netanyahu refuses to end the war before Hamas is eradicated.

At least 37,296 Palestinians, at least 30 of them in the past 24 hours, have been killed in Israel's military campaign to eliminate Hamas, according to the Gaza health ministry.

 

Reuters

WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

US VP Harris announces $1.5 billion in Ukraine aid at Switzerland peace summit

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris pledged America's unwavering support for Ukraine and announced more than $1.5 billion in aid for the country's energy sector and its humanitarian situation as a result of Russia's 27-month invasion.

Harris made the announcement at the Ukraine peace summit in Lucerne, Switzerland, where she met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. She is expected to address the summit's plenary session at 5.30 pm CEST/11.30 am EST.

"This war remains an utter failure for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin," Harris said during a bilateral meeting with Zelenskiy. "It is in our interest to uphold international norms," she added, pledging U.S. support for the country.

The $1.5 billion includes $500 million in new funding for energy assistance and the redirecting of $324 million in previously announced funds toward emergency energy infrastructure repair and other needs in Ukraine, the vice president's office said.

"These efforts will help Ukraine respond to Russia's latest attacks on Ukraine energy infrastructure by supporting repair and recovery, improving Ukraine's resilience to energy supply disruptions, and laying the groundwork to repair and expand Ukraine’s energy system," Harris' office said.

She also announced more than $379 million in humanitarian assistance from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to help refugees and other people impacted by the war.

The money is to cover food assistance, health services, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene services for millions of Ukrainians.

Harris, who will spend less than 24 hours at the gathering will be standing in for President Joe Biden at the event. The president will be just ending his participation at the G7 summit in Italy and returning to the United States to attend a fundraiser for his reelection campaign in Los Angeles.

Biden met with Zelenskiy both at the G7 summit, where they signed a U.S.-Ukraine bilateral security agreement, and in France for events surrounding the 80th anniversary of the World War Two D-Day invasion.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan will represent the United States at the summit on Sunday and help establish working groups on returning Ukrainian children from Russia and on energy security.

 

RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE

Zelensky conference not about peace – Kremlin

Russia has ‘nothing to say’ to the participants of the ongoing Swiss-hosted Ukraine ‘peace conference’, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday.

The Kiev-sponsored event is taking place at the Burgenstock Resort in Switzerland, and is reported to involve over 160 delegations, including those from the G7, G20, and BRICS countries. Despite being a party to the conflict, Russia has not been invited to the event, prompting Peskov to state that Moscow has no message for the participants.

“We have nothing to tell them, we want to get together next time at a more substantive and promising event,” Peskov said, reiterating earlier statements that the talks cannot yield a peaceful solution to the conflict without Russia.

“The issue of peace in Ukraine is not being discussed in Switzerland. Humanitarian and quasi-humanitarian issues are being discussed...” he stated, noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most recent proposal for a truce has been openly shunned by the participants of the summit.

Speaking at a Foreign Ministry meeting on Friday, Putin signaled that Russia would order a ceasefire and start negotiations if Kiev fulfilled several conditions: ceding all five former Ukrainian regions that voted in referendums to join Russia, including Crimea; removing troops currently present in these regions; giving up its bid to join NATO; pledging not to seek to acquire nuclear weapons, as well as “demilitarization,” “denazification,” and respect for the rights of the Russian-speaking population.

To achieve a lasting peace, all of these points should be recognized at international level and be followed by the removal of Western sanctions on Russia, the president said.

Putin’s offer was immediately rejected by Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky, who called it an “ultimatum.” Western officials were also quick to criticize the proposal. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the conditions are a ploy to distract the public from the Swiss talks, while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin claimed that Putin is “not in any position to dictate” the terms of a peace deal.

Commenting on the Western reactions to Putin’s offer, Peskov dismissed them as “not constructive.”

Russia has stated that it would not take part in the Swiss conference even if invited. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in March that the event would likely only focus on Ukraine’s positions and promote Zelensky’s so-called ‘peace formula’, which goes against Russian interests.

The number of countries and organizations taking part in the summit has been steadily dropping in recent days, with many invitees opting out due to the absence of a Russian delegation. The final list of attendees includes representatives from 92 countries, nearly half of the originally expected number, and eight international bodies.

 

Reuters/RT

President Bola Tinubu’s Democracy Day broadcast of June 12, 2024 did Ibadan incalculable dishonour. The speech celebrated heroes of Nigeria’s 25 years of civil rule with very scant mention of Ibadan’s fight against the tyranny of military rule. Was it institutional slight on the city of Ogunmola, the great warrior? The angry spirits of Ibadan dead must be seeking vengeance. Why does Aso Rock suffer austerity of official remembrancers?

Nelson Mandela did not allow the comforting breeze of freedom to numb his sense of remembrance. Walking out of the Victor Verster Prison after 27 years in jail, his first post-prison address at the Cape Town City Hall on February 11, 1990 showed that Mandela never forgot Cape Town, the city where the battle against the tyranny of Apartheid was fought and won. “I send special greetings to the people of Cape Town, this city which has been my home for three decades. Your mass marches and other forms of struggle have served as a constant source of strength to all political prisoners,” he said. 

In that speech, Mandela recognized the contours of personal and city/town heroism. To him, when you add these to the pathos of elite heroism, it forms an ensemble of struggles of men and women who constitute the corpus of unforgettable people of yesterday. In recognizing that an average person possesses the innate power to act heroically, Mandela cleft his hand firm together, lifted it up as symbolism of anti-Apartheid struggle, and shouted “Amandla! Amandla! I-Africa Mayibuye!” translated to mean, “Power! Power! Africa, it is ours!” He then began an acknowledgment of “Friends, Comrades and fellow South Africans” who “I stand before… not as a prophet, but a humble servant of you, the people.” He then reeled into the names of “millions of my compatriots and those in every corner of the globe who campaigned tirelessly for my release.” While acknowledging the big fishes of the liberation struggle, Mandela remembered Joe Slovo, a South African Marxist-Leninist Luthanian emigree who died of cancer in 1995. Slovo passed on a few months after the expiration of the white rule he spent a significant portion of his adult life fighting. Mandela also memorialized ordinary men, “great communists like Moses Kotane, Yusuf Dadoo, Bram Fischer and Moses Mabhida” who he said “will be cherished for generations to come.” 

Were inputs of remembrancers sought and got in the drafting of that Tinubu’s 25th Democracy Celebration speech, the submission of two American social psychologists, Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo, could have struck the drafters. In their The Banality of Heroism, these two authors concluded that heroism isn’t strictly the preserve of the elite who perform extraordinary actions. They said that heroism can be found in everyday actions of ordinary individuals faced with challenging situations or moral dilemmas. So, when Tinubu reeled into the extraordinary actions of his elite colleagues in the trenches fighting military rule, he forgot a long list of towns and ordinary Nigerians who suffered and died so that he could be in Aso Rock.

Though Abacha was part of Ibadan city, having been GOC of the Second Mechanized Division, Ibadan rose against him. In his infernal autocratic anger, Abacha responded by mowing down Ibadan, leaving weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth in its trails.

The eyes of the world had riveted towards Ibadan immediately Abacha began to make subterranean plots to transmute into a civilian dictator. To underscore his anger at Ibadan turning itself into the political capital of dissent against the military, Abacha reportedly got his goons to kill Ibadan sons and daughters who were against him. One of them was a retired nurse, Suliat Adedeji. Adedeji’s cruel and inhuman mode of assassination reflected the anger of the mastermind of her killing. He established five political parties, superintended over by his politician lackeys, as springboard to achieving this aim, then attempted to get them adopt him as presidential candidate. The five parties received the flagellating tongue of Bola Ige right from his Ibadan home, where he penned his Uncle Bola’s Column in the Sunday Tribune. In a cryptic analogy, Ige likened Abacha’s five political parties to five fingers of a leprous hand, a description that riled the dictator.

Being the traditional capital of the Western region, it was obvious that any resistance elegy chanted in Ibadan approximated a dirge from the Yoruba people. While Lagos was a mirror of inchoate voices, resistance in Ibadan, where Obafemi Awolowo incubated those developmental projects, was a signifier of dissent of the sons and daughters of Oduduwa. With resistance to military rule effectively curtailed in Lagos, Abacha looked Oluyole-wards. He then planned a Two Million Man rally slated for a sprawling 130,000 sq km multipurpose centre, hitherto named Race Course, now the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba. On that day, I saw a young man lying in the pool of his blood. He was dead to all the cares of this world. Blood oozed out of him like a broken cistern. Nobody knew his identity. He was one of the about three persons who had just been martyred for democracy to rebirth in Nigeria. They were felled by the irreverent rifles of Abacha’s death squad of policemen and soldiers. The rally was one of those scheduled to etch Abacha’s name in the pantheon of life rulers in the hue of Hastings Kamuzu Banda. A success of the rally would have spelt Yoruba’s approval stamp on Abacha’s transmutation bid.

It must however be known that as resilient and valiant as Ibadan was, it had its own stones (kànda) in the rice in Lamidi Adedibu and AbdulAzeez Arisekola-Alao. While the latter was a major contractor for the military, the former was his anvil, the Man Friday. So, Abacha got the above leading sons of Ibadanland, renowned for being lickspittles of the infernal dictator, to handle the rally. They then got an Islamic musical group called Alasalatu to sing to pep up the event. Renowned Ibadan masquerade, Jalaruru was also recruited for a traditional icing on the cake of the infamy.

The Lekan Salami Stadium quaked on Tuesday April 14, 1998. The pro-democracy movement, coordinated by Ola Oni, elder brother of another military apologist, Niyi Oniororo, firmed out plans to scuttle Arisekola-Alao and Adedibu’s Abacha rally. A coalition of groups arrived at strategies to ward off an impending sacrilege of planting autocracy on Ibadan soil.

On D-Day, I was there to report for my medium, Omega Weekly. I had, a few months earlier, resigned from the Tribune to join forces with Segun Olatunji, Wale Adebanwi, Adeolu Akande and Bode Opeseitan who had also left the Tribune. Journalists like Dapo Ogunwusi, Tinu Ayanniyi, Lasisi Olagunju of the Tribune were also there. It was a day of war. We could not enter the stadium as it was filled to the brim. The pro-democracy group protesters soon took over the outward of the stadium. They were estimated to be above 5,000 people and were singing acidic songs which demanded that Abacha should relinquish power. They also sang demanding that Generals Oladipo Diya, Olanrewaju, Abdulkareem Adisa and three other south-western region soldiers who had been sentenced to death a month earlier for plotting a coup called phantom, should have their sentences commuted. What still astounds me is that, immediately after his release from prison upon Abacha’s death, and current editor of the Tribune, Debo Abdulai and I interviewed him in his Oja-Iya Road office in Ilorin, Adisa told us, “I don’t know what Boda Diya was saying o. We planned coup o. May the spirit of Gen Abasa (sic) forgive me.”

On the rostrum, Arisekola-Alao and Adedibu were elated that Abacha must be popping champagne on the impending success of their Satanic endeavour. However, outside the stadium, expletives were being shelled on the maximum ruler.  People trekked from all the four corners of the metropolis to identify with Ibadan’s anger against Abacha. Abacha’s Military Administrator, the very loquacious Colonel Ahmed Usman, was also in high spirit, literal or metaphoric. As he addressed the rally, sure his cringing voice would be amplified to Aso Rock, Usman decked his principal in superlatives. All of a sudden, stones and other dangerous objects began to fly into the stadium. This got the people within scampering in a death race out of the stadium. Then, the huge crowd stormed the mainbowl of the stadium in maximum anger. A stampede ensued. Jalaruru the masquerade, the Alasalatu crew and other hired crew fled. They all abandoned the instruments of their panegyric craft. Members of the Alasalatu group were so thoroughly beaten by the pro-democracy group militants that their songs changed immediately to that of ululation. They sang: “Sèb’Álásàlátù la bá dé bí, a d’óríi fíìdì ló bá d’Àbáchà, sèb’Álásàlátù la bá dé bí  – We came here as prayer group, only to become hirelings of Abacha.

As Adedibu fled out of the stadium, he ran into the furious anti-Abacha campaigners and was reportedly hidden inside the OB Van of a private television station at the event. The van got damaged in the process of saving Adedibu from being killed. The victory of the anti-Abacha elements was short-lived as 82 Div sent a detachment to the stadium. Thugs were also unleashed on the activists with soldiers firing into the crowd. Many died and some sustained injuries.

On May I, 1998, mayhem was again unleashed on Ibadan. Military and police killed protesters at random. The protesters had pounced on the property of Arisekola-Alao and set them alight. The Monitor Newspapers, which had Arisekola-Alao as publisher, was set on fire. Eleven exotic cars were burnt in the process, as well as premises of his newspaper. Adedibu’s three houses were also incinerated in the process. Arisekola’s multi-million flour mill however escaped being razed. The Abacha forces, in riposte, shelled the protesters with live bullets, leading to the death of at least ten protesters, with many others suffering varying degrees of injuries.

Words soon got to Arisekola-Alao that some of those who escaped from the burning of Monitor ran into the opposite building which housed a hospital called Lifecare. It was owned by then South-Africa-based elder brother of one of the pro-democracy activists, Niyi Owolade. Gunmen were immediately ordered to storm the hospital. They ransacked the hospital, shooting sporadically at the infirm who were killed in cold blood in their scores. In other areas in Ibadan, some journalists got shot. Current News Editor of the Tribune, Akin Durodola, escaped death by the whiskers on his way to the office. A gunshot grazed his skin and missed his spine by a hair's breadth.

Three days after, masterminds of the pro-democracy activism were rounded up. Forty people, which include leaders of the group like Ola Oni, Bola Ige, Moshood Erubami, Niyi Owolade, Lam Adesina, and others, were slammed into Agodi Prison. The list also included Femi Adeoti, Editor of the Sunday Tribune, who had to carry the can for Paul Ogundipe whose story on the riot irked Abacha. Ogundipe never recovered. He died a few years after. They were subsequently charged to court. Flippant Usman, who himself was a marked man by the Abacha regime, having been a protégé of General Olanrewaju, one of the arrested officers of the Abacha phantom coup, seeking to cry more than the bereaved, immediately sprung into action and declared the activists “Prisoners of War” who could be summarily tried and imprisoned. The trial of the POW however could not hold as Abacha died on June 8, 1998 and the country breathed an air of freedom.

On November 17, 1998, while anger against his role in the Abacha debacle still subsisted, Arisekola-Alao was spotted coming into the University of Ibadan gate by irate students. It was the university’s convocation. Nobody claimed responsibility for inviting him to the occasion. He was thoroughly man-handled, leaving him visibly shaken. He had attended the ceremony in a convoy of cars. Six of the cars in his entourage, including a Limousine, were burnt by the irate mob. He was spirited away by security operatives.  

While Tinubu did well in generically affixing heroism on the press, he did incalculable damage to the memories of the dead in the media by not singling them out for mention. He did Ibadan worse injustice. Those media heroes were the ordinary individuals in everyday situations who Franco and Zimbardo spoke glowingly of in their The Banality of Heroism. The Nigerian media paid dearly for being in bed with civil society activists. Men of Tell, The News and 

Tempo deserve to have their names carved out in the pantheon of unsung heroes. Till date, the body of The News’ Bagauda Kaltho is yet to be found. Journalists lost their means of livelihood as The Guardian, Punch and others were shut down peremptorily by the duo of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abacha. Alex Ibru, owner and publisher of The Guardian escaped assassination attempt perpetrated by the regime of Abacha on February 2, 1996. State assassins fired at his car, hitting Ibru in the eye, with one of his eyes dangling from its socket. He was partially blind by the time he transited. Former editor of Thisday, Yusuph Olaniyonu, once told me that a week after his wedding, he encountered Abacha’s executioner-in-chief, Colonel Frank Omenka at his Apapa office which traumatized him for years.

Ibadan, a formidable axis of the much-talked about Lagos-Ibadan press, received chunks of the military and Abacha’s scalding anger. As said earlier, Omega became Ibadan’s avenue to express unbridled anger against military autocracy. We were young men with luxuriating idealism. Funded by pro-democracy activists, in Abacha’s dying years, Omega shelled his government. From the first print to the last, Omega 

concentrated on deconstructing the Abacha regime. Indeed, the last cover of the newspaper had the banner headline “Anti-Abacha forces emerge in Aso Rock”. About two weeks later, Diya and others were rounded up in alleged military coup. None of us returned to our Olusanya, Ring Road office after that edition. We moved our computer equipment from one point to the other. One day, we moved them to the inner room of a cloth seller’s shop in Ibadan’s Gbagi market to produce the paper’s edition. At a point, the computers were moved at night to my house in Oke-Ayo area of Odo Ona, Ibadan. There, two great heroes of this press struggle against military autocracy – Mr. Ayo Isikaye and Mr. Tunde Solomon Adesina, (Adshine) our computer operators, unsung heroes – demonstrated their love for fatherland. Whenever I saw my Iwo, Osun state-born landlady, now late, Madam Folashade Ashake, I used to pity her. If only she knew that by harbouring journalist-dissidents in her house, among whom I was one, she was whiskers away from being whisked away as accessory to anti-government publication!

So you can imagine how anyone who went through that Abacha experience would feel at being under any other government that figuratively brings back Abacha’s memories. It will amount to figuratively running from sickness, only to encounter death. It will then mean that, in the bid to escape death, we ran to Okuku, only to be told, upon getting to Okuku, that the king of Okuku had just died; what Yoruba express as, “ a t’oríi ká má baà kú a sá lo s’Ókukù,  a d’Ókukù, wón l’Ólókukù sèsè kú.” 

Great that the Tinubus did the struggle a lot of good by counterpoising the struggle in exile, if we had all run away like them, Abacha would likely still be in the saddle today. Similarly, if the struggle were strictly a Lagos battle as Tinubu seemed to have approximated it in his Democracy Day speech, the war would have been lost and the military would still be here today. It was the moment Ibadan joined the struggle, as it did in 1840, that the war against military rule became won.

Tell the above epistle to those children of perdition who ignorantly accuse the Tribune and Ibadan axis of the Nigerian press of misguided antagonism against today’s presidency. We risked our all to give them what they proudly call their “bragging day” of today. For us, as Thomas Jefferson once said, eternal vigilance remains the price of freedom. We will not relent in fighting autocracy shawled in the cloak of democracy. Let them know that no one can remove the resilience, glory and liberation fervor of Ibadan. I leave them with this evergreen aphorism of musician Ayinla Omowura. He sang that, though strikes of thunder and lightning assail trees in the forest, they only strengthen the Baobab tree, called Igi Osè by the Yoruba. This unique tree does not suffer what ordinary trees suffer. When its bark is even peeled, it does not wither. Ose shocks and shames its attackers by blossoming into awesomeness. Adversity gives it greater energy to live for a thousand years. Singing in Yoruba, Omowura said, “Mélò mélò l’àrá tó ti sán lo… ìpa tí wón ńp’Osè l’óko, ńse l’ó fi ńsanra…” 

Are they listening?

 

I wish our Muslim sisters and brothers happy Sallah celebrations.

In the spirit of appreciating great media men, I also wish my brother and namesake, Ibadan-born Festus Akanbi a happy 60th birthday today. Akanbi began his journalism career with Onyema Ugochukwu, then editor of Daily Times. Since then, he has been with the Business Times, Punch and became the Sunday Business Editor, as well as Deputy Editor of Thisday in 2015. He worked as Special Adviser to Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and Assistant Director at the FIRS. He is today Deputy Editor of the Thisday.

Congratulations, brother. 

Erratum: Last week, I mistakenly referred to the June 8 anniversary of Abacha’s death as marking 28 years of his departure. The error is regretted. Abacha died 26 years ago.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live ~ Deuteronomy 30:19.

Introduction:

Excellence in life is all about trade secrets. The more you trade with them, the more excellent you become. All who hope, therefore, to enjoy secure access to a lifeline of breakthrough and fulfillment on earth must enthusiastically search out noble Biblical secrets, and especially engage them in their day-to-day living (Deuteronomy 29:29).

God’s kingdom principles constitute the major keys in the music of our lives, even when they appear minor or old and well-worn. A very crucial one among these is the principle of man’s personal choices.

Life is full of choices, and these choices make the man. Your destiny is still very colorful, but you steer it by the choices  you make. Choices are daily options, and options are daily phenomena. To be or not to be is by choice.

The power of choice is one of the divine distinctiveness, which God bequeathed on man at creation (1 Chronicles 21:11). God Himself makes choices, and He gave man the same honor so to do (Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 31:11).

Today, man occupies a peculiar position that sets him apart from all other entities on our planet earth. He enjoys a certain amount of freedom, controls his way of living, speaks his own language, perceives and learns great amount of knowledge, manages his emotions, and deals properly with problems he faces as he chooses.

In fact, within the infinite expanse of the universe, man's conscious conducts can change the course of events. Even then, all these are subject to our choices and the mindsets we allow (Philippians 2:5). Hence, man is often referred to as a free moral agent.

This fact above can simply make you or break you, depending on the choices you make. Right choices make right men, but wrong ones can mar even great destinies. Until you choose right, you cannot act right; unless you act right, you readily lose your rights, and therein lie both the bliss and the dilemma of choices!

A long time ago, I read the story of two brothers who were twins. One grew up to become an extremely successful businessman, but the other was a chronic alcoholic. When the alcoholic was asked why he became a drunk, he replied, ‘My father was a drunk.’ And, when his twin brother was asked why he became successful, surprisingly he also said, ‘My father was a drunk.’ Same background, same upbringing, but different choices.

The brothers chose different thoughts regarding their identical experiences, and those thoughts shaped their divergent outcomes. In the same way, whatever thoughts you choose to allow in your mind can, with time, be fully and precisely reflected through your actions.

Images control feelings, feelings cause actions, and actions create results. Hence, it is commonly said that “you are what you think!”

Opportunities, Choices and Consequences

Choices come when opportunities present themselves. But, your choices, either good or evil, have consequences and they determine your future (Joshua 1:8).

Adam was carefully, fearfully and painstakingly created by God. He was blessed with a dominating influence upon the earth, but he chose to obey his wife rather than God, and he immediately fell out of the grace of God and was driven out of the Garden of Eden. Heavy consequences! But thank God for His program of redemption through Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:13-16).

Even then, the redemption program in Christ is also rested on man’s choices. Hence, God’s Word never fails to remind us that it is our responsibilities to deliberately make judicial separation between the good and bad, and to stick to the right choices (Matthew 13:47-48).

The Incredible Power of Your Choices

Choice is the strongest principle of growth, and the biggest business of life. Life is actually made of our choices. Regardless of circumstances, each man lives in a world of his own making. Decisions, choices and perseverance are the noblest qualities of man.

In every success story, you find someone who made a courageous decision. We make decisions, and then our decisions turn around to make us. Choices define human destiny, and nothing ranks a man so quickly as his skill in selecting things that are really worthwhile (Job 34:4; Isaiah 56:4).

If you would achieve your goals and be a successful, dynamic person, then your very first step must be to make up your mind to firmly choose the right courses in life, or else ceaseless drifts of events may present you with unpalatable results.

You are the one who is responsible for the decisions you make. And, you are free to make wrong decisions if you are ready for the consequences. Whichever road you choose, be sure you know that you may be in it for a very long while.

Happily, making right decisions is simple after all. Get the facts. Deeply reflect on your ways, styles and attitudes that are due for review (Psalms 90:12). Crosscheck your past notes to detect those abandoned visions and vows. Rearrange the cabinets of your mind, and get rid of the trash.

Go to the Lord to receive a right focus. Seek God until you obtain His guidance. He is the Way-Maker! Be calm in His Presence, having a clear vision for His glory all the way through.

Moreover, you must choose your friends responsibly. Certainty, there is a nexus between the quality of life we live, and the type of friends we choose (Proverbs 9:6; 12:26). Don't fool yourself, bad friends will destroy you. And, don't let anyone deceive you about it: associating with bad people will ruin your godly decency, and wicked friends will lead you to evil ends (1Corinthians 15:33). The old idiom says, "birds of a feather flock together."

Set higher goals for a new level of divine relevance. Form judgement, act on it and worry no more. Then, going forward, create room for new things bothering on supernatural expansion.

Now is the best time for you to make needful adjustments, especially in your belief system. The good old song says, “Oh happy day, that fixed my choice, On Thee, my Saviour, and my God!” The most beautiful things in life happen to you when your choices tally with the choices of God. Choose wisely. Choose to win. Choose Jesus Christ above all else in the world. He loves you most of all.

No devil can hinder or oppress you if you are on the right track with God. Joshua said, ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15). Nullify every contradiction, and make Jesus Christ your everlasting choice today. Those who stand for Him fall for nothing else. You will never fail again, your glory will burst forth and many generations shall glorify God through you. Amen. Happy Sunday!

____________________

Bishop Taiwo Akinola,

Rhema Christian Church,

Otta, Ogun State, Nigeria.

Connect with Bishop Akinola via these channels:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bishopakinola

SMS/WhatsApp: +234 802 318 4987

It is God who determines all human actions. Everything about a man is predetermined.

The redeemed do not choose God, it was God who chose us. Jesus says:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16).

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. To a nation that did not call on My name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” (Isaiah 65:1).

Even repentance is a gift of God. (Acts 11:18). If it is not divinely granted, we cannot repent.

Paul also echoes all this:

“It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16).

As a result, the elect is God’s workmanship:

“Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).

Fatalistic Responses

When Samuel gave Eli the dire verdict of God that his house would be judged severely for the sins of his sons, Samuel resigned to his fate. He said:

“It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” (1 Samuel 3:18).

Job also accepted the providence of God. With the loss of his children, his wealth, and his health, he said:

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21).

Since God is the Judge behind everything, Jeremiah asks:

“Why should a living man complain?” (Lamentation 3:39).

David also reaches the same conclusion. He says to God:

“I was mute, I did not open my mouth, because it was You who did it.” (Psalm 39:9).

Therefore, Peter counsels us:

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” (1 Peter 5:6).

No Free Will

If man has free will, then God cannot be God. God does not control everything if a man can act independently of God,

However, God tells us in the Scriptures that He alone controls everything. He says:

“I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (Isaiah 49-10).

God does not just know the end from the beginning. He determines the end from the beginning. Everything has a cause, except God. God causes everything to happen.

Where does this leave the man? Man is simply an instrument of God.

Programmed Man

God does not give man the latitude to do what he wants. It is God who determines all human actions. Everything about a man is predetermined:

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11).

If man has free will, our prayers cannot even be answered. Have you ever asked God to give you a favour with someone? How can He answer this prayer if the man has free will? To answer, God must overrule whatever free will he has. But the truth is that he has none.

Have you ever done something good and thanked God for making you do it? Jesus says:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

How can one do that? How can we make sure our actions glorify God and not us? The answer is simple.

Whatever good we do; the glory belongs to God anyway. Doing good does not arise from man’s free will. We only do good because God causes us to do good. If God does not cause us to do good, we will never do it.

God Control

When Israel went astray, God was behind it. Isaiah asks God why He made that happen when He could have prevented it:

“O LORD, why have You made us stray from Your ways, and hardened our heart from Your fear?” (Isaiah 63:17).

According to the psalmist, who writes under God’s inspiration, when the Israelites sinned, it was because God’s judgment affected their will. He says to God:

“You make us turn back from the enemy, and those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.” (Psalm 44:10).

God withheld Abimelech from committing adultery with Sarah, Abraham’s wife.” (Genesis 20:6). But He did not prevent David from committing adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. It was God who moved David to sin by numbering Israel. (2 Samuel 24:1).

Only God can stop a man from sinning. Thus, Micah expresses to God the confidence that He will ultimately:

“Subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19).

Indeed, David makes it God’s responsibility to keep him from sinning. He prays:

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14).

We only do what God permits or allows. The Bible shows conclusively that:

“God frustrates the devices of the crafty so that their hands cannot carry out their plans.” (Job 5:12).

Solomon acknowledges that:

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1).

When the Israelites were in Egypt, God turned the Egyptians against them:

“He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants.” (Psalm 105:25).

But when He sent them into captivity, He made their captors treat them with compassion:

“He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive.” (Psalm 106:46).

While in captivity, He made a promise to Israel that now also applies to all humanity in the New Testament of Jesus Christ:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Human Disposition

Paul says:

“It is God who works in (us) both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13).

David concurs. He says it is God: “who performs all things for (us).” (Psalm 57:2).

God controls how we feel. He determines our inclinations. This is evident, for example, in God’s guarantee to Israel:

“(Nobody will) covet your land when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.” (Exodus 34:24).

God caused the Egyptians to give their articles of silver and gold to the Israelites on their departure from Egypt. (Exodus 11:3).

If we are sad, God is the cause. When the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul:

“A distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him.” (1 Samuel 16:14).

If we are happy, God is also behind it. David acknowledges this. He says to God:

“You have put gladness in my heart.” (Psalm 4:7).

When it serves His purposes, God makes us like some people, and He makes us dislike others:

“God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem, and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.” (Judges 9:23).

We only pray to God because God enables it. Accordingly, the psalmist makes a request to God for His enablement:

“Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.” (Psalm 80:18).

 CONTINUED

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; www.femiaribisala.com

We recently asked married people in the BuzzFeed Community to share secrets about marriage they'd never say out loud. Here's what they had to say:

1. "Taking intentional time apart. My husband makes himself scarce one night a week so I have time to myself to do whatever I want. He always goes away for a big ski trip with his friends. I think it's important to have time apart and miss each other but also get away from each other. We plan to spend the rest of our lives together, and to do that we can't always be together."

—Krystal, Oregon

2. "You don't have to change your last name."

daisyswierc
3. "Never quit dating each other. Very ill from cancer, he insisted on having dinner out for our 40th anniversary. It turned out to be the last time. Be thoughtful with little surprises. Be courteous, even in the tough times. It's you and him against the world; not against each other. Be vulnerable. Let your significant other see your tears and tender heart. Keep your confidential conversations between the two of you. Most of all, if true love leads the way, everything else falls into place."

bluejester57
4. "It's not the big things that drain you the most. It's figuring out dinner every damn night."

—BJ, California
5. "Love comes in waves and that's how it goes during the long haul. Sometimes you have to brace yourself and ride out the low points. It takes a real commitment, but the highs outweigh the lows if you keep working at it. Still in love after 43 years!"

silvercat673
6. "Marry your best friend!"

—Ray
7. "You're not going to like your partner from time to time. You might not even think you love them, and this can last months. The drudgery of life, children, work, and stress can destroy your emotions, cause arguments, and make you forget why you're even with this person in the first place. It happens, and it doesn't mean the marriage is over. Be honest with yourself and your spouse, give each other some grace, and go to couples counseling if you need to."

anewfan2018

8. "Marriage is like climbing a mountain. When one of you starts to slip, the other grabs their hand and pulls them back up! Always be there for each other."

—Anonymous, Omaha, Nebraska
9. "Remember that your partner is human and allowed to make (reasonable) mistakes. As their partner, they're looking to you for support and love. No matter how pissed off you are, show grace. Who knows, one day you may make a mistake and need their support."

—Anonymous, Arizona
10. "I'd say this out loud but it takes effort! You have to try every day to show that person you love them, speak their love language, communicate, be thoughtful and considerate, and be honest. If you go on auto-pilot, you're going to have problems."

—Leah, Colorado
11. "My husband doesn't know…I can't stand my in-laws. Why tell him? They are his parents and he loves and respects them deeply. I also want my children to have a close relationship with their grandparents. So, I treat them how I'd want my future son or daughter-in-law to treat me — welcoming, supportive, and loving. It's a good one for my husband to never, ever know."

—Anonymous, California
12. "Marriage is hard work. After being together for 30 years, with four kids and two grandkids, you need to relearn how to be yourself, no longer as a parent or grandparent. Learn new things keep yourself 'alive,' and learn how to thrive independently. You won't always be a couple so learn how to be solo. Who knows, it might make you attractive and alluring to your partner again."

—MomSedSo, Illinois
13. "Pick your battles. Don't sweat the small things. Compromise on everything but don't compromise your self-worth."

—Tim, British Columbia, Canada
14. "You can do all the work on yourself and heal yourself alone. You can feel the best you've ever felt and then meet that one person and be on top of the world. Always make sure it's someone willing to be there through the hard times. Someone willing to work on themselves, with you as a couple, and who also allows you to grow and change. The secret they don't tell you is that there are only some things you can heal in a relationship. You'll find this out when your chosen partner finds and pokes the most painful parts that still need to be healed. If you've chosen well, they will support and help you as you move through the final phase of your healing journey."

—Anonymous, Kentucky

15. "If there's a large age gap, make sure you can both relate to each others' friends. My husband is 17 years older than I am. I didn't realize how awkward it could be to mingle among folks his age or older, and him to mingle among my friends my age or younger. We might have a 25 to 30-year age gap between our friends and yes, we're adults, but generationally there are times that we don't all get each other. As a result, our friend circles have shrunk. And if you think making friends as an adult is hard, try finding a couple with a similar age gap."

—Rachel O., California
16. "When you are married long enough and maintain an open, honest dialogue with your partner, you can discover some things in the bedroom that you never thought you would enjoy. Over the years, my wife and I have gotten wilder and wilder with the things we would like to try in bed. It's the kind of stuff you would never tell a girlfriend or boyfriend of no significant time, the kind of things that you are afraid to be judged over. So, the sex does not always die in marriage. Stay honest and open with each other, and it can get incredible to a level you never expected."

—Antonio, Florida
17. "Respect is possibly more important than love. But, you can't learn or fake respect, so if you don't have it for each other, just don't get married. Fighting (defined as saying something to hurt the other person) is stupid. Disagree like mature adults and talk it out. If you think someone has to 'win' you aren't ready for marriage. You don't have to share everything just because you are married. It's OK to have separate blankets, toothpastes, etc."

—Luke, Texas
18. "Wait! Wait until you're at least 30. I say that because you'll be established. Not just financially, but also spiritually, mentally, and politically. You change so much in your 20s that you don't become who you are until 30. I love my husband. We've been together since high school. We got married when we were 23 and 24. Who we were then is not who we are now. It can be so, so hard and very conflicting at times. If I had this advice, I honestly would've waited."

—Mrs. T, Maryland
19. "There might be times you aren't 'in love' with your spouse, and that's OK. Remember why you chose to be together, keep making that choice, and it comes back better and stronger."

—Anonymous

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