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The Story About Chinese Company, Inner Galaxy Steel Company And The Danger Of Social Media

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In the past few days, various social media platforms have been awash with stories about the Inner Galaxy Steel Company Group with their associated companies located in Obehie, Ukwa West LGA, Abia State.

The stories which originated from a social media account called 99% OPPRESSED (Wikileaks) and @Truthfully83, which were obviously opened for the purpose, quickly went viral and have led to massive public outcry. To that extent, the purpose has been achieved within a couple of days.

Despite that there has been no formal complaint or petition against the company to any authority in Nigeria, the weight of the allegations making the rounds was such that governments in the land could not just ignore them.

For instance, the Abia State Government felt compelled by the public outcry and agitation, to send a fact-finding team to the company premises on Thursday, August 13, 2020. The same day, the Federal Government also sent another inter-agency investigation team led by the FCCPC to the Company premises to find out what is going on there. Everyone is looking forward to their reports.

When I first read the allegations, I had to rub my eyes several times because this is a Company I know very well and have visited many times for a number of diverse reasons. This company is arguably the biggest in the entire South East and their premises is in fact a mini-City of its own.
I went back there on Thursday, August 13, to make inquiries having read these fantastic stories on the internet and I happen to have been on the premises when the Federal and State investigation teams arrived separately.

One thing that has become evident by these events is that some human beings love to believe the very worst of every other person, individual or corporate, especially if they already believe that the entity in question is a villain. Another one is the power of social media for good and for evil.

And that is why we must take a deep breath and actually examine some of those allegations. Only then would the truthfulness or otherwise of some of the claims dawn on us.

Now to some of the notable ones among the allegations:

That Inner Galaxy held Nigerian workers in slavery on their premises, AGAINST THEIR WILL, and in inhuman conditions. Could this be true? Well, what I gathered from my investigation is that when Covid-19 started early this year, and factories in some other parts of the world were shut down because they became “super-spreaders” of the virus, Inner Galaxy took proactive steps to curtail the spread of the virus in its premises. The first issue was that of the closure of interstate borders. This company is located on the border between Rivers and Abia States and many of the workers come to work from Rivers State, mainly living in Obigbo. Those workers, numbering in hundreds were at risk of not being able to come to work because the Rivers State borders were about to be closed. Also, the company imposed very rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols within the premises of the company, issuing one mask every day to each worker and ensuring they are worn properly, providing over 55 hand-washing/sanitizer stations in the premises, etc, but the challenge was that when staff leave and go home where those protocols are not in place, they could contract the virus, bring it to the complex and spread it.

Of course, in one factory in Ogun State, 104 staff tested positive to Covid-19 in one day. So, the concern was not baseless.

Again, the company was at this time working at less than half-capacity as the closure of inter-state borders meant that many suppliers and other customers vital to the operations of the company could not have access. The company called a meeting of the staff and asked for those willing to stay in the company premises until the Covid-19 crises is over or reduced. Those who opted to do so would be housed in temporary accommodation to be hastily set up while a much better accommodation would be built for future purposes. Two buildings for temporary accommodations are being constructed; one has reached 90% completion while the second is at 65% completion.

Those workers who said they could not stay away from their families for an indeterminate period were furloughed in accordance with best practices to be reabsorbed as soon as the COVID-19 crisis is over and operations return to normal BUT ALL OF THEM are being paid N15K (fifteen thousand naira) a month each while at home and not working. Those who opted to remain in the premises are being paid substantial bonuses in addition to their full salaries and many have already left the temporary, hastily arranged accommodation back to their homes, as things have started normalizing but with strict instructions to strictly abide by Covid-19 safety protocols so as not to bring the virus to the complex from home.

Another allegation that caught my attention was that Nigerians are being held on the company premises against their will. I also found out that not just untrue but impossible, as a visit to the Inner Galaxy City would show to anyone. This company was established in Abia over five years ago. The complex is massive and a mini-City. While there are over 2000 workers in the employment of the company, the Chinese there are just about 20. The Nigerians there are mainly young men and women. One begins to wonder how can these few Chinese people hold hundreds of Nigerian workers against their will? Which number of security men can intimidate these numbers of workers to the extent alleged? Yes, may say that economic circumstances may make a man to bend his neck, but when it gets to breaking point, men would be men.

The Complex does not even have a gate. It is free to access and people can go in and out at will. It is only the office blocks that have gates.

And now to the allegation of physical abuse of Nigerians by Nigerian security men attached to the company. Of course, as Nigerians, we do have our opinions of our security men ( policemen and soldiers) but there are many people of conscience in the security outfits. Without saying much, my inquiries indicate that there is no such collusion between the Chinese firm and the Nigerian security arms to maltreat and brutalize fellow citizens.

Furthermore, at any given time, over 150 trailers are parked on the premises to transport the steel, iron and other products produced there or to supply raw materials. The transportation sector alone has scores of independent drivers, conductors, mechanics, vulcanizers, etc,. from all over the country.

There are hundreds of suppliers, customers, and other independent or semi-independent businesses on the premises such as restaurants, shops, etc to cater to people who come from all over the country for one thing or the other. There are Igbos, Hausas, Yoruba,
and all other ethnicities there. Is it possible that these hundreds of other Nigerians who are not staff of the company and are independent will also compromise and keep quiet over the last five years and not say a word when they see their compatriots being turned into slaves?

As indicated earlier, the way this story has gone has shown the power of social media for good and otherwise. As someone who has an opportunity to verify some of the allegations making the rounds in this matter, what has done for me is to be more circumspect when I read posts on the social media, especially from newly registered accounts or pseudo names. Now, the strong suspicion is that ex-staff who were sacked or “mere tools” are behind this. This suspicion is stronger when one realizes that the clamor by those behind it is not for investigation, but that company should be shut down.

But the comforting angle is that the staff there don’t seem perturbed by the high decibel sounds of the social media. Nor the host community where the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives seem to have impressed the people.

In any case, we expect that the nine-man committee set up by Abia State Government and the federal agencies doing the investigation will come out with the truth later. Time and truth will heal all wounds.

 

Austin Ndidi Iroegbu
Public Commentator

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Hymnodia Season 2: Ediomo Akpan Emerges Winner As Show Came To A Hymntacular End

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Hymnodia Season 2, the triple E, entertainment, education and edification, reality TV show built around hymns and worship has come to a spectacular (hymntacular) end with Ediomo Akpan emerging the winner (Hymnodian) of the grand prize of an Asaph (a specially designed award named after David’s chief musician), a brand-new car and N5 million.

The grand finale, known as Hymncert, was held in grandeur on Sunday, 13th September 2020, in Lagos. Due to prevailing circumstances of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Hymncert was not open to the general hymn-loving public like before, but what it lost in the crowd, was more than gained in glamour and entertainment (hymntainment).

Minstrel Sarah Thompson set the tone for the evening with her soulful rendition of worship songs which got the few guests lifted in spirit and soul, after which came to the battlenodia (battle) for the prize. Five contestants (Hymntestants) made it to the Hymncert but only four contended for the prize.

The two Hymntestants with the lowest votes, Johnson “Json” Ikpeama and Yinka Odunayo, engaged in a contest for the judges to decide who would join the trio of Frank Okoye, Duke Asuquo and Ediomo Akpan in the grand finale, a situation that saw Odunayo outwitting her counterpart in a fierce battlenodia of hymns.

Other highlights of the show were the performances made by The [email protected] DemiladeAdepega and the legendary Kunle Batik, who thrilled the audience to melodious tunes with their saxophones.

The Hymncert proper started with Duke’s rendition of “Conqueror through the Blood” and followed by Ediomo’s performance of “Christ Our Mighty Captain”. Part one of the hymncert was Victory hymns all the way then followed by the Pidgination of hymns segment.

Returning Hymntestant, Stephen Nwosu, in his melodious voice also featured, singing and dancing with his performance of “Gukongozigi”, — Count Your Blessings in Igbo.

After the performances, came the moment of truth, as Gbenga Badejo & Company, the collation agency handed the results to the host, the Dean of the Hymnstitute (show’s house), Ben Ogbeiwi, who kept the guests longing to know the Season 2 Hymnodian.

Frank Okoye was declared the 3rd runner-up, Yinka Odunayo the 2nd runner-up, while the moment of truth for the real winner was held in a little suspense, which kept the audience eager to know what would follow.

Duke and Ediomo were invited by the Dean to join him on the diamond platform and there were palpable tension and anxiety in the hall. The two men standing were visibly gripped by tension and the Dean allowed it to build by inviting the dignitaries who would present the prizes onto the stage before announcing the winner.

Pastor Kenny Folarin of Day Star Christain Centre was to present the Asaph, The Very Reverend Olushola Makinde to present the car key while the Producer and Executive Producer, Kufre and Mrs Ezinne Kufre-Ekanem were to present the N5million cheque.

With all the dignitaries on stage, the Dean of he Hymnstitute and Host for the Show, Dean Ben Ogbeiwi, bellowed ‘the winner and true Hymnodian of Season 2 is Ediomo’.
The hall erupted with applause.

Ediomo was momentarily shocked but when he realised what had happened, overcome with emotion and sunk to his knees as other Hymntestants swarmed him.

A graduate of the ABRSM Advanced Chorale Singing programme, Ediomo has sung in several choirs over the past nine years and was never on probation for the whole period of the Season 2 show, with the favourite hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God
He is a pseudo-polyglot, speaks English, Spanish and his native language Annang. He is an Akwa Ibom-born, Lagos-bred soloist with proficiency on the classical flute. He is a chorister, a tenor, at the House on the Rock Church, Lekki, Lagos.

In his remarks, Kufre Ekanem, expressed gratitude to God for his awesomeness in making Hymnodia Season 2, a success, and wished to see Season 3, which will take place in 2021.

The reality TV show on hymns and worship was a one-hour programme on Lagos Television (Channel 256 on DSTV, Channel 90 on GoTV and Channel 113 on Startimes) with a magazine show on the same channel on Wednesday evening. It was also streamed live online via the LTV App available on the app store and on the dedicated YouTube channel, Hymnodiahq.

The show was also viewed on GITV, Kaduna; Anambra Broadcasting Service, Onitsha; Ondo State Radio/TV, Akure; ITV, Abuja and Cross River TV, Calabar. Others are Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC); Kwara TV, Ilorin and Plateau Radio TV, Jos. All the stations aired Hymnodia on the same days (Sunday and Wednesday) but at different times.

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Nigerian Pornstar, King Tblak Arrested For Shooting Porn Video Using Ifa Worshippers’ Items At Osun Osogbo Shrine

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Popular Nigerian porn star, King Tblak has been apprehended in Osogbo for using Ifa worshippers items in his porn video which was shot at the Osun Osogbo shrine.

It was gathered that the adult movie star whose real name is Tobi Jolaosho used White Beads and Opele in one of his videos and this however prompted a herbalist, Amoo Awosunwon, to order for his arrest.

Awosunwon reported the case to the police after seeing a sex video on social media of Tblak allegedly dressed in Osun Osogbo attire with a naked lady at the Osogbo shrine.

Police spokeswoman Yemisi Opalola confirmed the arrest on Sunday.

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Mouka Reaffirms Commitment to Consumers’ Well-being, Quality Product

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Mouka, Nigeria’s foremost manufacturer of mattresses and beddings has restated its commitment to consumers’ Wellbeing by delivering quality products that enhance sleep and ultimately sound health.
This was the submission of the Chief Executive Officer, Mouka, Raymond Murphy, at a virtual stakeholders’ engagement where he unveiled some of the plans of its fiscal year, on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, in Lagos.
Murphy said the frontline company would continue to engage its stakeholders which comprises consumers, employees, business partners, agencies, and the media, to ensure Mouka delivers on its promise to add comfort to life.
According to him, Mouka in its giant stride would keep on innovating and renovating its product portfolio to keep it exciting and appealing to consumers. In addition, the company will continue to give its teeming consumers more value for money by deploying value-added promotions and producing durable products.
This, he affirmed, would be through intensive research and development (R&D). The Mouka boss declared that the company has invested a great deal in equipping its state-of-the-art laboratories to ensure the production of quality mattresses and other bedding products.
“This is why Mouka brand is unique, and the leader in its industry,” Murphy stated.
On other initiatives, Mouka’s Chief Executive Officer pointed out that the company will remain dynamic and responsive to consumers’ needs and preferences.
Giving back to society through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives was also highlighted as one of its cardinal focuses in this fiscal period. Recently, the company donated over 1,000 mattresses to Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo State Governments for the enhancement of their isolation centers for the treatment of infected persons.
The frontline company introduced campaigns such as #StayhomewithMouka to educate, engage, and support its consumers during the lockdown. Also, Mouka partnered with the Nigerian society of physiotherapy on the #SleepBetterStayHealthy campaign to raise awareness for the importance of quality sleep in building a healthy immune system, especially during a pandemic.
On its stables are quality brands such as Wellbeing orthopedic mattresses, Klinic waterproof hospital mattress, Dreamtime water-resistant mattress, and Mondeo Spring mattress as well as a wide range of pillows for a comfortable sleep.
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