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Blogging Is My Contribution To Nation Building — Ayobami Ladipo

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A media entrepreneur, Ayobami Ladipo, is the founder of Porsche Classy Media. He tells Kehinde Ajose of The Punch about his entrepreneurial journey.

How did your journey in the media space start?

My journey in the media started when I was a student of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. I used to be the entertainment editor of a magazine called Splash back then. Those were the days when we would leave Ago Iwoye to ‘cover’ music video shoots in Lagos. I recall that I took part in the video shoot for ‘Fe nu so’, by Lord of Ajasa featuring 9ice in 2008.

After I graduated from the university, I did a bit of acting. I featured in a couple of soap-operas, and acted in some movies as well. After some time, I had plans to travel to Europe. I also worked in a ‘branding’ company for about two years, before I eventually started Porsche Classy Media in 2012. At that time, the big names in blogging were Bella Naija, Linda Ikeji.

Though my educational background is in the sciences, I have always had passion for communication. I always wanted to be someone people would listen to. There was no social media in the nineties, so I used to tell my mother that I would end up on TV. I think I should have studied Mass Communication, instead of Geology. It was quite tough for me at that time, because (even as a student of Geology), I was always interested in anything that had to do with communication.

What niche does your media brand cater to?

Back in the university, I was always around members of the Student Union Government. I remembered when the ALUU 4 incident (mobbing of four students of University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on the allegation of being thieves) in 2012, I started the ‘ALUU 4 Say no to Jungle Justice’ campaign. At that time, I did not really know how to go about it. I was still trying to kick start the campaign when it was hijacked from me by some big names who had the cash and connections, to make it big and get credit for it.

It was at that point I decided to go into blogging, in order to create a platform through which I could be heard. The focus of the brand is on politics and general news; not gossip. I am a politically-savvy person, and I want to be a part of nation building. I want to contribute my quota to the success of Nigeria, till it becomes a great country.

What were the challenges you encountered in the early days of the business?

Back then, the challenges were much. Funding was a challenge; as well as getting work tools and Internet connectivity. Those were the days of struggling, when I had nothing. Back then, having N1,000 was a big deal for me. It was pretty difficult. I was ‘squatting’ with a cousin in Oshodi, Lagos. I recall that I used to sleep on the rug. It was a ‘face me, I face you’ (one-room apartment) house. In those days, I would go to the back of the house, put my second-hand laptop on a neighbours’ washing machine, and stand there for several hours. While there, I would source for stories, and keep writing. It was a quest for relevance, because I wanted my platform to be known. Thankfully, I was able to pull through, and I am still pushing till now.

What is your educational background?

I had my primary and secondary education in Ogun State. My tertiary education— Olabisi Onabanjo University— was also in the same town. I have also attended some media-related training, as well as in movie productions.

What strategies do you deploy to make your brand stand out?

I stay true to my niche, and I don’t try to join the bandwagon. My brand is for people who like ‘serious’ content. They know that our platform is for people reading about serious news in Nigeria and the rest of the world.

Timely updates of ‘serious’ content also helps us to stand out.

What were the challenges you faced as a young entrepreneur, and how did you surmount them?

Acceptance was a major issue, and it entailed getting the attention of people who ordinarily do not read the national dailies, and make them to trust one’s brand. I don’t do blackmail; neither do I malign or slander people. Our readers know that whatever we publish is true. We are not purveyors of fake news. Having to get along with veterans was also major challenge. One needs the input of those that had been there before one, especially when one is entering the industry as a greenhorn. A couple of veterans have been helpful and wonderful. They have helped to support the brand to get to where it is right now

As a public affairs commentator, what are your thoughts on the 2023 presidential elections?

The 2023 presidential elections have come and gone. But, there is no doubt that it was keenly contested; which is a good one for our democracy. It was not just about the two biggest parties (like it usually was). This time, there was a third force that disrupted the political space. That brought the much needed ‘rejig’ to the political space. It made our politicians realise that one cannot occupy public office, do nothing and think that one is untouchable.

In a democracy, the power is with the people, and they can always demand and cause a change. The last elections were a real eye opener, and they changed the narrative of politics in Nigeria. Right now, the voice of the people is more powerful than it used to be.

How do you think the spread of fake news can be curtailed?

To tackle the spread of fake news, there has to be more sensitisation. More importantly, media practitioners, including bloggers, journalists and broadcasters, need to be more responsible. We always need to verify whatever information we want to share.

Also, the onus lies on the average Nigerian to be responsibile. If we are more responsible and not in a hurry to spread falsehood, fake news will become a thing of the past.

How do you like to dress?

I love to appear classy. I believe I am a stylish person, and I like to look good. I like to walk into a space, and people would notice my appearance.

Meanwhile, I am proudly African. Ninety per cent of the time, I am dressed in native attire, such as kaftan or buba and sokoto, with a cap to match. I can hardly be seeing wearing native attire without a cap. One is addressed the way one is dressed. Fashion is a lifestyle for me.

BIG STORY

BUSINESS: Investing In Davido’s Coin Highly Risky, SEC Warns Nigerians

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The public has been cautioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) not to invest in the meme coin that is purportedly associated with popular Nigerian artist David Adedeji Adeleke, better known by his stage name Davido.

The commission made this known in a statement published on its website on Friday.

The SEC issued a warning, saying that users of the meme coin do so at their own risk.

“The general public is hereby advised that meme coins lack fundamental value and are purely speculative. The general public is further warned that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

“Capital market operators are by this notice warned not to associate with instruments that fall outside the SEC’s regulatory purview. Such instruments should not in any manner be distributed or monitored through any capital market mechanism.

“Please note that the commission does not recognise $Davido as an investment product or investable asset class under its regulatory purview, as such individuals who patronize it, do so at their peril,” the statement read.

The SEC said it will keep a close watch on market developments and is ready to step in with regulatory action as needed.

The commission further explained, “Generally, meme coins are cryptocurrencies inspired by memes and internet jokes. They are often envisaged as fun, light-hearted cryptocurrencies promoted through a social media community and sometimes through celebrity endorsements.

“Meme coins are also not intended to serve as a medium of exchange accepted by the public as payment for goods and services, or as a digital representation of capital market products such as shares, debentures, units of collective investment schemes, derivatives contracts, commodities or other kinds of financial instruments or investments.”

The music star unveiled a meme coin called $Davido on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

However, the meme coin has been widely criticised by Nigerians after its value nosedived just a day after its launch.

Social media was awash with disappointed investors and fans venting their frustration as the coin’s value plummeted, with many expressing their dismay and disillusionment.

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UPDATE: More Women Testify Against Perm Sec Accused Of Sexual Harassment, Union Levels Allegations Too

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The controversies and series of serious allegations surrounding the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa, have taken a different dimension.

The Ministry’s labour union, the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), is likewise incensed at the Permanent Secretary.

The union charged Lamuwa with financial irregularities, favouritism, bad management, and high-handedness, all of which had a negative impact on the rights and welfare of the employees.

In a June 11, 2024, petition to Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the staff union charged that the Permanent Secretary was pushing all matters pertaining to employee welfare, benefits, training, and other related matters to the side.

They specifically highlighted the denial of various benefits the workers were entitled to, which had been a source of their discontent for months.

In the petition obtained by PRNigeria, the union listed and explained in detail the series of benefits that the workers were entitled to that Ambassador Lamuwa has been denying them for months.

They accused him of unduly and illegally favouring a certain category of people and victimising those who do not dance to his tunes in the area of posting, training and other benefits like Hajj seats.

Some of his alleged crimes as listed in the petition include delay in payment of some benefits, delay in promotion and conversion of staff, lack of transparency in posting, delay in payment of clothing allowance, discrimination in paying First 28 Days Allowance, lack of fairness in the distribution of the 2024 Hajj seats, inadequate posting of Batch B officers to foreign missions, poor sanitation and hygiene due to insufficient water supply, lack of work tools, dilapidated office buildings, refusal to pay the 25th regular course allowance for nine months, among others.

In the petition, signed by the Chairman and Assistant General Secretary of the JNC, Comrade Ali Seidu and Comrade S. E. Akpana, the union urged Ambassador Tuggar to look into their grievances and address the series of injustice allegedly done by the Permanent Secretary to avoid a drastic action by the workers.

They workers said: “Consequent upon the maladministration, dwindling level of productivity occasioned by the administrative leadership apathy in the ministry, the JNC has been engaging with the management thinking its solidarity with the authorities of the Ministry will yield positive results and prompt action on pending issues.

“Unfortunately, there was no corresponding improvement instead, the management has become worse, unreceptive and very harsh to everyone who dares to speak and ask questions. Victimisation, intimidation, and harassment has become a tool the management uses to shut critics while the staff of the Ministry continue to suffer.

“The staff of the Ministry are outraged by the egregious neglect, surreptitious administrative skullduggery, manipulations and commercialisation of the Ministry’s activities by the Permanent Secretary and his allies under the guise of rejuvenation. They have introduced harmful practices that threaten the very fabric of our Institution. We demand an immediate end to all their destructive policies and a return to the principles of fairness, equity and transparency. We call on the Honourable Minister to direct the authorities to investigate these grievances and take swift action.

“We the staff hereby give a 21-days ultimatum to the Management to immediately address the grievances outlined in our communiqué, failure to do so will be met with strong resistance.”

In his response, the Minister called for calm and promised to look into their grievances.

It would be recalled that the Permanent Secretary had been in the eye of the storm for days over allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a staff of the Ministry, Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, who is said to be an aide to the Minister.

The lady wrote a petition to the Minister, through her lawyer, Femi Falana, which forced the latter to equally write to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, to probe the allegation of sexual harassment against Lamuwa.

The Head of Service also set up a panel to investigate the allegations and suspended the Permanent Secretary pending the probe’s outcome.

Meanwhile, further investigations by PRNigeria showed that at least three more women have approached the probe panel to lodge similar allegations of sexual harassment against Ambassador Lamuwa.

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Ghana Announces Three Weeks Of Power Cuts Over Reduced Gas From Nigeria

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Ghana’s state-owned electricity company has announced a three-week power outage due to reduced gas supply from Nigeria.

This has made the “dumsor” (a term that means “on and off”) electrical shortages that have been a problem for the country for years worse, according to BBC Africa.

Over the past 20 years, Ghana’s population and urbanisation have increased, and with them, so has the country’s need for power.

However, this growing demand has been hindered by the current gas supply reduction from Nigeria, which commenced on Wednesday and is attributed to maintenance works being conducted by a supplier.

This has resulted in a decline in power generation across the country, compelling the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to initiate load shedding to effectively manage electricity distribution, as stated in a release on Thursday.

“The reduction in gas supply is due to maintenance works being undertaken by a gas supplier in Nigeria and is projected to last three weeks,” it added.

On Wednesday, West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCo) revealed that it was experiencing a decline in the volume of gas available for transportation as a result of one of its producers in Nigeria shutting down its facility for maintenance.

This reduction in gas availability has had a knock-on effect on customers in Togo, Benin, and Ghana, who are experiencing decreased gas supplies transported by WAPCo.

“The current situation is entirely out of WAPCo’s control,” the regional power utility added.

“We expect normalcy to return after the maintenance activities.”

ECG has assured the public that it is working collaboratively with other key stakeholders in the power sector to make the most of available resources, thereby minimizing the impact on consumers during the gas shortage period.

It comes barely two months after President Nana Akufo-Addo curtailed the export of electricity to neighbouring Togo, Burkina Faso and Benin in response to local supply challenges.

In recent years, power shortages have worsened as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis in a decade.

Private electricity suppliers are owed $1.6bn (£1.3bn) by the state power company, according to Elikplim Kwabla Apetogbor, the head of the organisation representing them.

Ghana, a leading producer of gold and cocoa, has increasingly relied on gas for electricity generation in recent years.

Despite having hydro and thermal sources, which provide much of its electricity, the country’s infrastructure is often inadequately maintained.

Last July, threats were made by private electricity suppliers to halt operations due to unpaid arrears, highlighting the challenges facing Ghana’s energy sector.

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