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Wizkid, RMD, Other Nollywood Stars Storm New Orleans for Essence Music Festival By Olatunji Oke [PHOTOS]



  • As Mayor La Toya Cantrell Unlocks New Orleans’ Vast Economic Potentials with Festival

Some of Nigeria’s leading entertainers like Wizkid, Kizz Daniel, Richard Mofe Damijo, and Stella Damasus are currently in New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival of Culture regarded as America’s largest celebration of Black culture and achievement. The three-day festivity, which began Thursday, June 29, and runs till Monday, July 3, combines high-octane music performances with inspirational speakers and provocative conversations about gender, race, culture, and art.

The presence and performance of the Nigerian stars are predicated largely on the growth of the homegrown movie industry popularly called Nollywood and the rise, renown, and mainstreaming of Afro Beats on the global music scene.

While Wizkid and Kizz Daniel join a long list of American music heavyweights like Lauryn Hill, Jermaine Dupri, Wyclef Jean, Ludacris, and Megan Thee Stallion among others to perform some of their chart-bursting hits to the ecstatic and eclectic crowd, RMD and Damasus led other Nollywood stars to a welcome party organised by the Mayor of New Orleans, La Toya Cantrell. The reception party was tagged ‘Hip Hop Sip & Shop’ to also celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop.

At the colourful ceremony, Mayor Cantrell, the first black female Mayor of New Orleans, said, “I am excited to welcome the ESSENCE Festival of Culture back to the City of New Orleans! The ESSENCE Festival of Culture is considered the largest festival in the nation in terms of single-day attendance, with an average of 176,000 in-person attendees PER day. Last year’s ESSENCE Festival brought in over 500,000 visitors and brought in more than $300 million to our local economy! New Orleans is home to the ESSENCE Festival and we will continue to be proud partners with Essence to bring this festival back to the city for years to come.”

To lend credence to her assertions, a study commissioned by Essence and generated by Dillard University declared that the 2022 festival had a $327 million impact on the City of New Orleans’ economy. Before Essence, the city struggled in the summer because of the sometimes tumultuous and always hot weather. Now, the festival is a major rainmaker for the city’s summer tourism season.

Further, Mayor Cantrell urged her Nigerian guests to take advantage of Louisiana’s successful film tax credit, a state-run program that is open to all motion picture production companies headquartered and domiciled in Louisiana to produce nationally or internationally distributed motion pictures.

The Mayor announced that the program, which has significantly boosted the hospitality and tourism sector in New Orleans, has now been extended to 2031. Indeed, New Orleans has evolved into the fourth largest film production hub in the United States due largely to Mayor Cantrell’s many interventions, studio infrastructure, diverse architecture, and scenic and historic neighbourhoods.

Like New Orleans, which is regarded as the most pro-African city, Lagos, the most populated black city, is the hub of filmmaking in Nigeria. Also, Mayor Cantrell reportedly views New Orleans and Lagos as two peas in a pod. Her city being one of the recipient ports of enslaved Africans to the United States from Lagos where 70% of Africans who were victims of the slave trade were exported. Added to that is the robust cultural heritages of the two cities.

Abiodun Ogunjobi, leader of ‘The Brotherhood,’ a delegation of Nigerian-born American business professionals based in Ohio commended Mayor Cantrell for her initiatives on creative economies while promising their unflinching support for what they described as a prospective multi-million dollar partnership.

Held over Fourth of July weekend at the Caesars Superdome and throughout downtown New Orleans, the Essence Music Festival berthed nearly 30 years ago when the creators of Essence Magazine came to New Orleans to celebrate the publication’s 25th anniversary with a salute to Black women highlighting culture, empowerment conversations with the nation’s thought leaders and, of course, music.



2024 BUDGET: N3Trn For Security Sector, Health Gets N1Trn [SEE BREAKDOWN]



The federal government says it will prioritise the health, defence, and education sectors in its spending in the 2024 fiscal year.

A summary of the 2024 budget was released on Thursday by Atiku Bagudu, the minister of national planning and budget.

The national parliament heard President Bola Tinubu’s N27.5 trillion budget plan for the fiscal year 2024 on Wednesday.

Tinubu said the budget would cement macroeconomic stability, reduce the deficit, and increase capital spending and allocation to reflect the eight priority areas of this administration.

Providing a breakdown of the budget, Bagudu said the allocations include provisions for various ministries and agencies within each sector.

He said the projected national revenue in 2024 is estimated at N18.32 trillion, marking a substantial 66 percent increase compared to the previous year’s budget.

The minister also said oil-related sources are expected to contribute N7.94 trillion (43.3 percent), while non-oil revenue is projected to contribute N10.39 trillion.

“The government aims to address fiscal challenges and the revenue inflows are influenced by various factors such as the exchange rate, higher oil

production projections, and the removal of subsidies,” Bagudu said.

“Recognising the global and domestic challenges faced by Nigeria, as well as increased fiscal risks resulting from weaker-than-expected economic performance and structural issues, the draft 2024 budget aims to address these challenges.

“The government intends to improve revenue generation by reviewing tax and fiscal policies, to increase the revenue-to-GDP ratio.

“Key strategies include enhancing tax administration and collection efficiency, implementing significant public finance management reforms, and stimulating the economy through regulatory and policy measures to boost domestic value-addition and attract external investment.

“The government also emphasizes prioritizing safety nets to protect vulnerable segments of the population.”

Bagudu said the early passage of the budget for implementation from January 1, 2024, is paramount and expected to contribute significantly to achieving macro-fiscal and sectoral objectives.

  • Health, Education, Defence Sectors Get Bigger Share

With a crude oil benchmark price of $77.96 per barrel and an output of 1.8 million barrels per day, Bagudu said the budget focuses on critical sectors such as defense, healthcare, education, and infrastructure.

Speaking on sectoral allocations, the minister said N3.25 trillion has been allocated to the defence and security sector, representing 11.8 percent of the national budget.

Out of the N27.5 trillion, N1.32 trillion was earmarked for infrastructure projects, accounting for 4.83 percent of the budget.

Bagudu said the health sector got N1.33 trillion, equivalent to 4.8 percent of the federal government’s budget, while N2.18 trillion (7.9 percent) was given to the education sector.

A further breakdown of the budget for education showed that N1.27 trillion was allocated to the federal ministry of education, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) received N251.47 billion, while the Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETFUND) got N700 billion.

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Governor Sanwo-Olu Hails Morayo Afolabi-Brown’s Appointment As MD Of TVCe



Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has congratulated popular television presenter, Dr. Morayo Afolabi-Brown, on her appointment as the Managing Director of TVCe, the Entertainment Channel of TVC Communications.

He said the new role given to Afolabi-Brown, the host of the TVC’s breakfast programme, ‘Your View’ is well deserved.

Governor Sanwo-Olu in a statement issued on Thursday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, said Afolabi-Brown’s appointment as Managing Director of TVCe is inspirational to young media practitioners that they can get to the top position of their career with hardwork, commitment and discipline.

He said: “The appointment of Dr. Morayo Afolabi-Brown as the Managing Director of TVCe, the Entertainment Channel of TVC Communications, is deserving having distinguished herself at TVC Communications and the media industry for almost two decades.

“Morayo Afolabi-Brown is one of the most influential women presenters not only in Nigeria but Africa. She has been recognised as one of the top 25 most influential women in Journalism Africa (WIJA) 2020 where she ranked 18th on the list.

“I believe strongly that Morayo Afolabi-Brown’s new appointment is an inspiration to young media practitioners, particularly members of staff of TVC Communications, that they can get to the top of their career in the company if they put in a little more than is expected from them by their employers.

“Morayo Afolabi-Brown’s new role attests to her exceptional track record of achievements in TVC Communications as a former Deputy Director of Programmes TVC News, where she created content on three independent channels for broadcast. She has also made a lot of impact as a host in addressing basic issues in society through the TVC’s breakfast show ‘Your View,’ programme.





30 NOVEMBER 2023

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NDLEA Chairman Marwa Warns New Cadets Against Fraternising With Drug Traffickers



The chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, has asked new cadets not to “fraternise” with illicit drug offenders.

Marwa spoke on Thursday during the passing out ceremony of 2,500 cadets of senior officers basic course 16 at NDLEA academy, Jos, Plateau state.

The NDLEA boss said the agency will not tolerate “internal sabotage” in the war against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the country.

Marwa, who was represented by Victoria Egbase, director, planning, research and statistics of NDLEA, said the agency cannot “decelerate” its efforts on the war against illicit drugs.

“We are currently on the verge of expanding our presence to all 774 local government areas in the country,” Marwa was quoted as saying in a statement by Femi Babafemi, NDLEA spokesperson.

“What that should tell our new officers is that there is work to do, and you cannot afford to be complacent or compromise the high standards we have set.

“On that note, let me also inform you that you must not fraternise with offenders of drug trafficking laws.

“Doing so is dangerous to your safety; it is catastrophic to your career; it sabotages organisational goals; and it is inimical to society’s wellbeing.

“Remembering this nugget of advice and abiding by it will ensure you a colourful and gratifying career.

“I must prepare your minds for the task ahead of you. The duties are such that there is no room for compromising the ethics of your profession or subverting the goals of the organisation.

“In our renewed campaign against illicit drugs, we are at a stage of ramped-up interdiction against cannabis, opioids, and other psychoactive substances.

“We cannot afford to decelerate our effort and we will not tolerate sabotage from within.”

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