[Archives] – Nigeria’s Click Chicks (2007)

by Tolu Ogunlesi

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Glide_Click Chicks_Page 1 by Tolu Ogunlesi

Glide_Click Chicks_Page 2 by Tolu Ogunlesi

Some of them are not designers in any sense of the word, but all have a deep passion for following and cataloguing fashion designs, events and trends. A few years ago, before the blogging revolution big-banged, these people would have remained silent, for want of medium to express their – often highly opinionated, and unapologetic – views and opinions about fashion styles, shows and designers.

That was the time when the fashion editors of newspapers held a monopoly on the flow and slant of fashion gospel; when you had to wait for the Vanguard or Guardian’s fashion pages to publish pictures of a fashion show you didn’t attend. Today, the turnaround time for runway photos to appear in the public domain is minutes, seconds even, with the advent of high resolution camera-phones with high-speed GPRS connections.

Some of the most popular Nigerian “fashion-bloggers” (in truth, as one of them, Linda Ikeji, points out – “there are no exclusive fashion blogs; most blogs deal on different issues.”) are names like Bella Naija (anonymous), Linda Ikeji, Ronke Adeyemi (Ondo Lady), Toni Payne, Michele Obi, Uduak Oduok (Ladybrille) and Naija Gal (anonymous). A female clan, it seems.

These bloggers, scattered across the world, often working at full-time jobs, are taking Nigerian fashion to a new pedestal, using the amazing powers of technology. And in return their lives and experiences are being shaped by the presence of their “voices” on the internet. They are gradually building up reputations as not-to-be-ignored connoisseurs; and play a key role in drawing attention to exciting new African/Nigerian design talent and trends.

Ronke Adeyemi (blogging as “Ondo Lady”) is based in Kent, England. She has been blogging for well over a year, and uses her blog as “a reflection of my writing style; [as well as to] make contacts with other fashionistas and journalists.” She is not a designer, “just a lover of fashion who is fascinated by the psychology of fashion.”

I ask if blogging about her fashion interests has changed her life in any way – fame, money, authority, writing commissions, controversy? “Well it has given [me] access to events such as London Fashion Week and the chance to interview personalities in the fashion industry such as Jajay Sherman and Rachel Jacoby from The Fashionista Diaries.”
Ronke lists her top Nigerian fashion blogger as Michele Obi, who owns myfashionlife.com. Her Top Nigerian fashion designers are “Wale Adeyemi [and] Emmy Collins.”

Linda Ikeji, blogging as herself, lives and works in Lagos. A twenty-something ex-model, and now a modeling agent (CEO, Black Dove Agency) cum magazine publisher, her top Nigerian bloggers (fashion content) are “Bella Naija, Naija Gal and [the popular TV show hostess] Funmi Iyanda.”

Linda has been blogging “seriously” since March 2007. “My blog isn’t a fashion blog, I deal on different issues, not just fashion” she clarifies. “What I aim to achieve with my blog is entertain, inform, educate and change people’s perspectives on a lot of issues…”

Like Ronke Adeyemi, Linda is simply a lover of fashion; she doesn’t design or make clothes. And she says that blogging has given her

“a few controversies, a little fame because more people know me now, but no money or writing commissions.”

She lists her top 5 shows as the Nigeria Fashion Show, the New York Fashion Week, the St. Moritz Style Selection, the Thisday fashion show, and the South Africa Fashion Week, and her favorite Nigerian fashion magazines as True Love, Genevieve, Sleek, Ovation and City People Fashion and Style.

Toni Payne, CEO of Toni Payne Cosmetics and Apparel, is a Nigerian-American living in Los Angeles. Unlike all the other profiled bloggers she is more than just a “lover” of fashion, she is a “maker” as well, and both her blog and her designing feed off each other. “My blog is more of a free-spirit blog where I keep people up to date on my clothing line,” she explains.

Has blogging changed her life in any significant way – fame, money, controversy? “No, it has given me a channel to relax and talk about what I love to do.” She lists her top 5 Nigerian fashion bloggers as herself, Ladybrille, Linda Ikeji, Bella Naija and Naija Gal; and her top 5 Nigerian designers as herself, Deola Sagoe, Yemi Kosibah, Duro Olowu and Chris Aire.

Ayoola Somolu, a Lagos-based blogger (whose blog is now sadly defunct) says of herself: “I’m an avid fashion observer but I am not a fashion blogger – I [have only written] one blog post on the subject actually.” Bella Naija’s blog is her favourite Nigerian fashion blog, and it is the only Nigerian fashion blog that she can think of. “I like visiting http://www.style.com and the New York Times website style page…” she tells me, and then quickly cautions that “neither is Africa-centric…”

Her favourite designers are home-based – and female. 

“Deola Sagoe’s work seems pretty interesting and original as does Mya – by Maria Odunsi. Tiffany Amber too, I suppose; at least her work is mostly very well made. Dunni Igbinedion has produced some really nice things as well…”

Perhaps it is because of the colonization of cyberfashion by non-Afrocentric fashion blogs that Africans at home and in the Diaspora are eagerly staking out plots of webspace to give vent to their voices and sensibilities. In a feverishly globalising age – where the multitude of voices clamouring for attention in every facet of artistic endeavour and in every conceivable language have access to tools that level the playing field – no culture has an excuse anymore to remain unheard in the global marketplace.

(written October 2007, published December 2008 in Glide, the inflight magazine of the now defunct Virgin Nigeria airline)

Tolu Ogunlesi (c) 2014 

Who wants Muhammadu Buhari dead?

Originally posted on Tolu Ogunlesi:

Who is Muhammadu Buhari?

He ruled Nigeria as a military Head of State between January 1984 and August 1985.

He’s one of the most popular politicians in Nigeria at the moment, with a cult following across Northern Nigeria, especially in the twelve states generally referred to as the “core” North. 

He contested for the Presidency in 2003, 2007 and 2011, emerging runner-up on all three occasions. In the 2011 elections he amassed 12 million votes (mostly from the North) even in the face of what was generally adjudged a chaotic and poorly run campaign; further evidence of his political clout. He is therefore seen as the person most likely to pose the biggest threat to President Jonathan’s re-election chances in 2015. 

The Assassination Attempt

On Wednesday July 22, Buhari’s convoy was attacked in Kaduna State. According to news reports and eyewitness accounts and photographs from the scene, the attackers both…

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Who wants Muhammadu Buhari dead?

Who is Muhammadu Buhari?

He ruled Nigeria as a military Head of State between January 1984 and August 1985.

He’s one of the most popular politicians in Nigeria at the moment, with a cult following across Northern Nigeria, especially in the twelve states generally referred to as the “core” North. 

He contested for the Presidency in 2003, 2007 and 2011, emerging runner-up on all three occasions. In the 2011 elections he amassed 12 million votes (mostly from the North) even in the face of what was generally adjudged a chaotic and poorly run campaign; further evidence of his political clout. He is therefore seen as the person most likely to pose the biggest threat to President Jonathan’s re-election chances in 2015. 

The Assassination Attempt

On Wednesday July 22, Buhari’s convoy was attacked in Kaduna State. According to news reports and eyewitness accounts and photographs from the scene, the attackers both detonated bombs and fired bullets at Buhari’s convoy. (There’s a video from the immediate aftermath here).

So, who might be after Buhari’s life?

There are four competing theories, as follows:

The Theories:

 

1. Boko Haram

In an April 2013 interview, journalist Ahmed Salkida, said, regarding reports that Boko Haram was seeking to negotiate a ceasefire with the Nigerian government:

I am sorry to say this, if the sect knows where to find General Buhari (someone I respect a lot) they will make an attempt on his life. To them, any retired and servicing soldier, police, politician or civil servant is an infidel that deserves to be killed. So how can the same sect with such an ideology listen to General Buhari, the Governor of Borno state or any other politician or the Sultan? The average member of this sect see all these people whether they are muslims or not as ‘living corpses’. For God sake have we not been listening to this people in the last couple of years?. Am I the only one listening to them? It seems the sect have been more consistent with their message than the Federal and state governments involve in this conflict.” 

Sahara Reporters quoted Buhari in a March 2014 interview as saying he is “not bothered” by the possibility of Boko Haram targeting him for elimination. He also reportedly credited the government with providing him “adequate protection” – an assertion that finds confirmation in Akin Osuntokun’s revelation in today’s This Day that Dangiwa Umar convinced President Jonathan to beef up security around General Buhari “a while ago.” If that is true, we may have that beefed-up security (armoured cars, etc) to thank for Buhari’s survival.

Buhari has in recent times been strident in his condemnation of Boko Haram. After the sect attacked several Borno villages last February, killing more than a hundred people, Buhari issued a statement that described the sect’s ideology as “a devilish ideology that has no place in a civilized society.” 

 

2. The President and/or his party (PDP)

We’ll have to turn to the letter former President Obasanjo wrote to President Jonathan last December to explain this theory:

[The] allegation of keeping over 1,000 people on political watch  list  rather than  criminal  or  security  watch  list  and  training  snipers  and  other  armed personnel  secretly  and  clandestinely  acquiring  weapons  to  match  for political purposes like Abacha, and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, cannot augur well for the initiator, the government and  the  people  of  Nigeria. Here  again,  there  is  the  lesson  of  history  to learn  from  for  anybody  who  cares  to  learn  from  history. Mr. President would  always  remember  that  he  was  elected  to  maintain  security  for  all Nigerians and protect them. And  no  one  should  prepare  to  kill  or  maim Nigerians  for  personal  or  political  ambition  or  interest  of  anyone. The Yoruba adage says, “The man with whose head the coconut is broken may not live to savour the taste of the succulent fruit.” Those who advise you to go hard  on  those  who  oppose  you  are  your  worst  enemies. Democratic politics admits and is  permissive of supporters and opponents. When the consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there to help carry the can. Egypt must teach some lesson.”

The President, in his reply to that letter, denied this allegation that he is keeping a hit list: 

“Perhaps the most invidious accusation in your letter is the allegation that I have placed over one thousand Nigerians on a political watch list, and that I am training snipers and other militia to assassinate people. Baba, I don’t know where you got that from but you do me grave injustice in not only lending credence to such baseless rumours, but also publicizing it. You mentioned God seventeen times in your letter. Can you as a Christian hold the Bible and say that you truly believe this allegation? The allegation of training snipers to assassinate political opponents is particularly incomprehensible to me. Since I started my political career as a Deputy Governor, I have never been associated with any form of political violence. I have been a President for over three years now, with a lot of challenges and opposition mainly from the high and mighty. There have certainly been cases of political assassination since the advent of our Fourth Republic, but as you well know, none of them occurred under my leadership. Regarding the over one thousand people you say are on a political watch list, I urge you to kindly tell Nigerians who they are and what agencies of government are “watching” them.”

With the revelation that he provided increased security for Buhari, it’s hard to see why he would do that if he really wanted Buhari dead.

 

3. The APC or other opponents of President Jonathan

This is This Day columnist, Akin Osuntokun, on the attempted assassination:

“The way some APC partisans have latched on to the Buhari attack to rope in the president would have been comical were it not so tragic. If anybody should talk of conspiracy theories, the finger pointing may actually be more plausibly directed near home. The instant scapegoating of Jonathan – pointedly precluding Boko Haram as likely suspect – is in itself cause for suspicion. General Buhari had better watch his back against those who would rapidly concoct diversionary excuses for his potential assassination.

Even if Jonathan were to be incredibly naïve politically, he would at least know that Buhari is more useful to him alive than dead. Nothing solidifies support for Jonathan’s candidature better than the personality and potential candidacy of a divisive and polarising Buhari. So why eliminate such a rough and ready mobilisation tool?  My thinking is that Buhari is a problem not for Jonathan but for the APC.

Contrariwise and for the same reason of his utility for his political opponent, Buhari has become like a fishbone caught in the throat of the APC. He is the central dilemma figure of the party.”

Osuntokun clearly has PDP sympathies, and his column can generally be summed up as a series of eloquent attacks of APC and eloquent denunciations of the PDP.

Here is a tweet that echoes Osuntokun’s suggestion. Another here.

There is also the view that other opponents of President Jonathan – an allegedly power-hungry “Northern Elite”? (who may or may not necessarily be APC sympathisers – may have plotted this knowing that the death of Buhari would likely bring down the Jonathan government

 

 4. Buhari himself

This argument emerged on the Internet immediately after the news of the attack broke. Pushed by rabidly anti-Buhari people, the idea is that he arranged the assassination attempt to clear himself of allegations that he and his party are sympathetic to Boko Haram.

Of course ‘APC-is-a-party-of-extremist-Muslims’  allegations have gained ground in recent months, pushed by a wide range of sources: the PDP, a former APC member with a penchant for rabble-rousing, an ex-Kremlin adviser, and a UK Conservative think-tank.

While it may sound ridiculous – especially when one considers the extent of the attack – the Internet tells us there are people who actually believe it.

*

So who tried to kill General Buhari? I personally think it’s Boko Haram. Unfortunately we live in a country where the chances of the truth ever coming out are slimmer than the chance of Nigeria putting a man on the sun, or even even of winning the 2014 World Cup.

Major arrests and killings of Boko Haram leaders by Nigeria’s military

I’m compiling a list of Boko Haram leaders reportedly arrested or killed by Nigeria’s military. I will continue to update the list with new data and weblinks.

ARRESTED

  1. Alleged Senior Commander Mohammed Zakiri (“Chief Butcher”, arrested July 2014)
  1. Alleged Female recruiters Hafsat Usman Bako, Zainab Idris and Aisha Abubakar (Arrested July 2014)
  1. Alleged Commander, and key player in Chibok abduction, Babuji Ya’ari (Arrested July 2014)
  1. Alleged Mastermind of Nyanya Bombings, Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche (Declared wanted May 2014, Arrested in Sudan by Interpol May 2014, Extradited to Nigeria July 2014)
  1. Alleged Commander Shuaibu Mohammed Bama (Arrested October 2012)
  1. Alleged Commander Suleiman Mohammed (Arrested July 2012)
  1. Alleged Spokesman Abu Qaqa (believed to have been captured or killed in 2012)
  1. Alleged Commander, and mastermind of December 2011 bombing of Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State, Kabiru Sokoto, arrested January 2012, convicted December 2013, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

KILLED

  1. Alleged Commanders Momodu Bama aka Abu Saad, and  Zakariyya Yau killed August 2013, alongside Bama’s father, Abatcha Flatari, alleged to be a Boko Haram spiritual figure
  1. Alleged Commander Mallam Husaini (Killed June 2014)

 

The Chibok Abductions: An ongoing Timeline

April 14: More than 200 girls are abducted from a school in Chibok Village, Borno State, Northeastern Nigeria.

April 30: The #BringBackOurGirls Movement commences a daily “sit-out” to push for the rescue of the abducted girls

May 2: The President sets up a fact-finding committee, “in view of the inconsistent and contradictory information available to government on the Chibok abduction.”

May 4: The President addresses the nation in a “presidential media chat.” It is the first time he is speaking directly to Nigerians regarding the abduction. Clearly he has been compelled to, because by then local efforts (including by the #BringBackOurGirls Nigeria Movement) have attracted international attention, which has seriously embarrassed the president and his government.

May: Throughout May the President calls for international help, and gets a flood of offers of military and intelligence assistance from around the world. He also attends a high-profile security summits on Boko Haram in Paris (May 17).

Also throughout May the world takes up the #BringBackOurGirls campaign: world leaders, celebrities, ordinary people everywhere pose with banners that read: #BringBackOurGirls

June 20: The presidential fact-finding committee submits its report, confirms that the abductions did indeed happen and that 219 girls are still missing.

June 26: News breaks that the President’s aides have hired an international PR agency to rescue his battered reputation, arising from his government’s poor handling of the crisis.

July 12: Campaigner for girl-child education Malala Yousafzai visits Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and meets, first with five of the girls who escaped (July 13), and then with the President (July 14). She convinces the President to meet with the girls and their parents (No, he hasn’t, even though it’s been three months. His wife on the other hand has caused some of the families to be harassed by the police for embarrassing her husband). The campaigner somehow managed to convince the President to meet with the parents and girls.

July 14: Malala Yousafzai delivers a speech in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, in which she reportedly mentions that President Jonathan has agreed to meet with the parents. Recall that this is 91 days since the abduction took place.

July 15: The meeting with the president, scheduled for this day, fails to hold. The Presidency issues a letter to the Chibok Community saying that they were informed that “the parents needed more time to be organized” and rescheduling the event to Tuesday July 22, 2014

July 16: Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President, apparently unaware of the communication between the Chibok community and the President’s office” rushes to town (using the American PR firm, Levick) to accuse the Bring Back Our Girls Movement of “play[ing] politics with the situation and the grief of the parents and the girls and of manipulate[ing] the victims of terrorism for their own benefit, [and] engaging in […] psychological terrorism.”

He also appears on Channels TV to attack Oby Ezekwesili, one of the leaders of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, accusing her of being the one who ordered the Chibok community to not see the President.

(Okupe has already previously demonstrated an obsession with discrediting the movement, and attacking Mrs. Ezekwesili)

July 16: The Chibok Parents issue a statement absolving the #BringBackOurGirls movement of blame and saying that:

1. There was initially no formal invitation to them from the Presidency. They first heard of the planned meeting with the President from a speech Malala delivered to mark her 17th birthday
2. They needed to better prepare for the meeting, and give a chance to other parents (back home in Chibok, hundreds of miles away from Abuja) to attend.
3. They reached out to Malala’s team to communicate to the President their wishes to meet on a new date.

Statement by the Abuja Chibok Community on the planned meeting with President Jonathan

STATEMENT BY KIBAKU (CHIBOK) AREA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION (KADA)

PRESS RELEASE DATED 16TH JULY, 2014

We the members of the Kibaku (Chibok) Community and representatives of the 12 fathers and 5 escaped girls who were hosted by Malala during her visit to Nigeria hereby speak on their behalf to offer to Nigerians the facts as they are and to put the records straight and correct the erroneous impression making rounds in the media on the botched meeting with the President:

1. The logistics and meeting between the twelve (12) fathers and five (5) girls and Malala was facilitated by the Abuja Chibok Community and the Citizens platform of BringBackOurGirls with our consent and on TRUST considering their sustained and focused advocacy to Bring Back our daughters.

2. These parents and escaped girls did not come to Abuja at the instance of government or its representatives for a meeting with Mr. President but on the full understanding that they were coming to meet with Malala; an advocate of girl child education and most importantly one who has suffered a similar fate as their daughters’.

3. That in the course of the interactions with Malala, NEITHER the parents nor the escaped girls asked for a meeting with the President or any government functionary, rather the narrative back home was to persistently ask why the President has not visited them in Chibok since the abduction.

4. It is obvious that their numbers of 12 fathers and 5 girls is about 2% of the parents of the 219 abducted girls still with their abductors and the 57 girls that escaped. Therefore, these parents DECIDED on their own accord to review the announced visit, which they FIRST heard of like every other person during Malala speech in Hilton.

5. That consequent to their decision to revert to other family members in order to incorporate every stakeholder on the matter as well as avoid discord and suspicion on a change of plans from the original mission to Abuja, they reached out to the Malala team and through them to the Presidency; to request for a new date for an expanded and more representative meeting that has a legitimate mandate to meet with the President.

6. That their request is also in recognition of the huge opportunity of a meeting with the President for the first time and after over 90 days of the tragic abduction of their daughters, and therefore required better consultations, structure and formality as against an instant advocacy request.

7. That it is totally misleading, unjust and without foundation to hold the Citizens’ platform BringBackOurGirls responsible for the decision made by the 12 parents and our community. We therefore take full responsibility for our decision and welcome the formal invitation by the Presidency as a follow up to Malala’s visit which we received this morning.

Thank You.