Saturday, October 31, 2020

Nigeria: Banji's Story by Adeleke Adeyemi

By Adeleke Adeyemi, winner of the Nigeria Prize  for Literature in 2011.

It is an African success story that the whole world can share! Banji's Story "...dramatizes the importance of growing food and returning to the earth, the sustainer of human life. A gifted storyteller, Adeleke Adeyemi explores the consciousness, emotions and actions of a child in a fascinating narrative distinguished by the simplicity of its themes, ideas, language and style. Indeed, this is a loveable and credible novel that endorses family cohesion and responsible parenting that would guide children to become imaginative, well-motivated and balanced individuals.” (Excerpt from Report of the Panel of Judges, The Nigeria Prize for Literature)




Friday, October 30, 2020

#EndSARS : Nigerian-Americans Lobby Congress for Sanctions Against the Nigerian Government

 



Nigerian-Americans Start Project to Lobby Congress and To Push for Sanctions Against the Nigerian Government in Response to the Killings of Peaceful Protesters


Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C. 
Oct 26, 2020, 18:34 WAT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Leaders from the newly formed October 20th, 2020 Project (The Project) have engaged Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C., a Washington, DC-based policy and advocacy advisory group, to gain U.S. Congressional and executive branch support for the End SARS and anti-corruption movement currently happening in Nigeria. The Project has also instructed Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C. to advocate for an investigation into the killings of peaceful End SARS and anti-corruption protestors and to push for Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against members of the Nigerian government responsible for the extrajudicial killings committed by the Nigerian Armed Forces before and after the October 20, 2020 massacre.


(PRNewsfoto/Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C.)
"For years, the Nigerian government has murdered its people without any repercussions from the international community," said Nnamdi Nwachukwu, The Project's Media and Public Relations Lead. "The killings that occurred at Lekki Toll Gate showed the lengths the Nigerian government would go to silence the voices of innocent protestors. The Nigerian-American community is coming together to advocate on behalf of the End SARS and anti-corruption movement. We are grateful to work with an experienced partner like Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C., to help lead this effort."

"The United States has always been a beacon for freedom-loving people around the world. We stand with the End SARS and anti-corruption protestors in Nigeria as they fight for justice and democratic principles," said Karl Von Batten, Advisor at Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C.

Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C. specializes in bringing together subject matter experts, policy scientists, senior public relations experts, and former senior government advisors to solve its client's policy and business decision problems. With years of experience working with members of the United States Congress and the executive branch of the United States government, Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C. has the insights to provide clients with frank and straightforward advice and solutions. Find more information about Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C., at www.montagueyork.com.

The October 20, 2020 Project was started by Nigerian-Americans to push for congressional and executive branch support to send a clear message to the Nigerian government that the United States Government stands with millions of Nigerians seeking justice and an end to rampant corruption and extrajudicial killings. Find more information about The October 20, 2020 Project at www.october202020.com.

Contact: Dr. Karl Von Batten
Email: karl.vonbatten@montagueyork.com

SOURCE Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C.  

SOURCE Von Batten-Montague-York, L.C.


Related Links
https://www.montagueyork.com/

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Fincho: The Making of the First Nigerian Film in Colour By Sam Zebba

 

Sam Zebba directing "Fincho" in Nigeria. 


Many people have read about Sam Zebba's "Fincho", the first film shot in colour in Nigeria in 1955 and post production was done in the United States of America and it was released in 1957. But majority of Nigerians and others have little or no knowledge about the great filmmaker, Sam Zebba who passed away in Israel on February 27, 2016.


I have decided to publish this comprehensive documentary report on him, comprising his own memoir on how he made "Fincho"; an article on him before he passed on and a memorial tribute written by David (Dudi) Sebba published by www.esra-magazine.com.


What Sam Zebba documented on the circumstances of the events that occurred during the making of "Fincho" can be a fanstatic movie. And publishing it on a Nigerian website is important in recognition of the Nigerian cast and crew. They have made history and we must remember them in the history of Nigerian cinema. 


Fincho- Adventure in Nigeria 1955:

Adventure in the interior of Nigeria


One night in 1954, at the home of my London relatives, Boria and Rena Behrman, Boria showed some 8mm color footage he had taken at their timber concession in Nigeria. The Behrman family had been in the timber business for several generations, still in the ‘old country’ (Latvia), and the Nigeria concession was a new extension of their UK firm, Finch & Company. What I saw there was formidable. Giant trees were being felled in the jungle and hundreds of bare-handed African workers were pulling the heavy trunks through the mud.

I realized that this could be a starting point for an extraordinary documentary and perhaps even more than that. For some time I had felt a strong desire to move from the short film, my medium hitherto, to full-length form. If I could find a human story to fit into the tree felling process, perhaps the chance of realizing this was here.

Boria generously said I could stay in one of the bungalows built for the white staff at the concession, and film whatever I wanted. Admittedly, it would be foolhardy to go script-less into the unknown, but therein lay the challenge. And so, toward the end of the Central African rainy season in 1955, equipped with a 16mm Arriflex camera, a portable sound recording device, and a reasonable amount of Kodachrome color film, I set out on a flight to Lagos, the capital of Nigeria at the time, and from there, mostly over unpaved and ill-maintained dirt roads, passing through two enormous clusters of mud huts, Ibadan and Benin City, to the Finch timber concession in the faraway Kingdom of the Olowo (Ruler) of Owo.


The bungalow I was given was spacious, though the heat was unbearable. In the outdoor kitchen, an attendant called “house-boy” or “boy” for short, no matter what his age, was on duty 24 hours a day. Plagued at night by mosquitoes infiltrating my net, I could hear the house-boy in the kitchen slapping his back and shoulders incessantly, hunting the malaria-carrying little devils. He did not have the luxury of a mosquito net, nor did he have a bed.


With time I got used to the heat and humidity, and the mosquitoes at night. I almost managed to enjoy an imaginary air-conditioner before falling asleep - someone had kindheartedly handed me a copy of Sir Edmund Hillary’s and Tenzing Norgay’s "The Conquest of Everest", which kept me cool throughout my stay on the concession.


In Owo I met the Olowo, a big man amply robed in a manner quite inconsistent with the climate. His palace was a large two-storey mud structure painted white, and it seemed densely populated. “Who are all these people?” I enquired. “These are the King’s wives and children,” I was told.

Although I examined everything I saw as a potential focal point for the film’s story, I soon realized that neither the harsh colonial exploitation of the natives nor the social hierarchy of traditional African rulers would be my anchor. It was the tree-felling enterprise itself, and the impact this had on those caught in its advance.


My guide and mentor on the concession was an Englishman named Tony Lewis, the second-in-command at Finch and an old hand in the African timber trade. To the Africans he spoke a broken English, which I thought at first to be his own invention, but soon discovered this was genuine 'Pidgin,' a simplified English language in use there, delightful and humorous, and the only way the three main ethnic groups in Nigeria - Yoruba, Ibo, and Hausa - could communicate with each other. I promptly decided that wherever possible this would be the film’s language.

“I de go” was present tense. “I done go” was past. “I go go” was future. “Make you go bringam” was a command. Just a minute was “wait small.” Dialogue, such as “na whei he dei?” (now, where is he?) “he dei for house,” referred to either male, female, or neuter. Father was “Small Fahda,” while “Big Fahda” meant Grandfather. “Plenty palavah” was big trouble. Great satisfaction: “He de tickle me propa.” Disbelief: “na lie! You think you go deceive me like small boy?” Two Africans talking to a White Man: “Sah. Dis man, he be my brudda.” “Oh, really? Same mudda same fahda?” “No, Sah. My brudda.”


A most impressive man was the concession’s CEO. A WW2 ex-military man with a hyphenated name, Gordon Parry-Holroyd seemed the quintessence of a gentleman and servant  of the Empire. He had a family and a cottage in the Midlands of England, but after the war, preferred the wilds of Africa to life in civilization. He was a mix of tenacity and gentleness, reminiscent of Conrad’s Lord Jim, with a tinge of a "Heart of Darkness".


Slowly the story I was looking for began to materialize in my mind. The protagonist would be a young African torn between the preservation of age-old traditions and the acceptance of encroaching modernization. His final choice would ultimately be his embracing the modern world.

To tell the story, other characters would have to be created. Representing the conservative view would be the village’s spiritual leader, the feared and angry Jujuman. Pitted against him would be the young schoolmaster who champions progress and enlightenment. Into the village enters a white timber extractor, “Mistah” Finch, who persuades the village chief to allow the felling of trees, but is refused permission to hire local labor. Our protagonist, eager to marry his girl but perpetually short of the needed dowry to buy her from her father, starts working for the White Man in spite of the proscription. Called now “Fincho” because he is “dancing around with the White Man”, he becomes something of a leader, many young men joining him. But when new earth- moving equipment is brought in to replace the local labor, violence is about to erupt against the White Man. It is Fincho who succeeds in calming the uprising, renewing the work, and thus bringing about momentous change in his community. He even triggers an understanding between the Jujuman and the schoolmaster.


The film would alternate between scenes of direct dialogue and voice-over narration, and the narrator would be Fincho himself. Many of the scenes would show local color, like at the market or at the Chief’s court, and the awesome tree-felling process would be followed in detail. Some scenes, like Fincho’s engagement in negotiations between the two families, or the naming ceremony of his first-born, were actually written out in detail by the cast and crew on rainy days when shooting was impossible.


It is my conviction that any work of fiction contains, or should contain, a message, a moral if you like, implied or explicit, that makes the story relevant. Writing this account more than 50 years after the event, I would be hard put today to vehemently defend the story’s point of view. Unfortunately, the price of deforestation and the resulting ills to society and to the planet have proven to be much higher than at first conceived, yet sadly the process goes on as before.


Clearly, a lot of thought and time is required to turn a skeleton of a story into a detailed plan, a full screenplay with dialogue written out. Simultaneously a production crew had to be trained, the actors cast, scene locations determined, costumes and props chosen, a story board devised, and a shooting schedule worked out before shooting could actually begin.


The production crew, kept to a minimum, consisted of four young local men who, obviously, had no previous connection to film-making. Samson Orhokpocha, a natural organizer, became a sort of Production Manager. Michael Nwaitabo, whose job was to carry the camera and tripod, became Assistant Cameraman. Sound recordist was Sunday Obende. He recorded the dialogue scenes, albeit as cue tracks only, for later dubbing in the studio. He also recorded the felling of trees, which sounded like heavy cloth being torn slowly, followed after the fall by a symphony of terrified animals and birds. Although sound effects were later added in the studio, Sunday’s work was extraordinary in itself. The fourth member of the crew was Rufus Atangbayila, who carried lightweight tin-foil reflectors to lighten the shadows, particularly in close-up shots. The whole picture would be shot in daylight, so no electric lighting equipment was needed.


Casting was not always easy or smooth, at times illuminating the tribal atmosphere of life deep in the jungle. Early in the production, looking for a suitable Fincho, I found a healthy-looking young man on the concession, named Aladdi. We shot some tests with him, which were sent to a London film lab for development. It took weeks before a print came back, during which Aladdi fell mysteriously ill, and soon died. Rumor had it that someone had wished him dead, presumably over an issue with a woman, and that he had died of a juju. Having been a popular figure in the community, Aladdi’s death was much talked about. One fellow on a trip to Benin City said he had seen him there alive, and another had met and spoken with him in faraway Ibadan. Both reported that Aladdi looked healthy and was well dressed, and would soon come back to close the account with his murderer.


At the compound there stood a large board built of wooden planks painted white, which served as a movie screen, and some distance away was a hut with an old 16mm projector in it. From time to time rented feature films were shown to the workers as a bonus. When the test including Aladdi arrived, I decided to run it for the crew after dark. Word leaked fast, and quickly several hundred Africans assembled there. It was a still, moonless night, and when Aladdi’s image appeared on the board in full color, a terrified hush fell over the audience. Someone screamed, women hid their babies, others fled. “He finally came back,” my crew explained to me as we dismantled the test, “and tonight he will find the man who killed him.”

My remonstration that it was only his image we saw convinced no one. In truth, it was I who felt uncomfortable that evening.

When Aladdi had fallen ill, and I suggested that he see a doctor, he said only a black man could cure him. When his condition deteriorated, and I offered to take him to the

mission hospital, half a day’s drive away, he said, “If I go to a white doctor, I shall die.” I persisted, perhaps too strongly, and when we arrived at the small hospital the only doctor there, a youngish German with a heavy accent, said I should leave Aladdi there for a few days.

After some 10 days without a sign of Aladdi, I drove to the hospital again. “Good zat you come,” the doctor welcomed me, “your man is just now dying.” Indeed, in the ward Aladdi lay dying. “What of?” I demanded. “We gave him every test,” the doctor

explained, “All negative. There is a lot we don’t know about African diseases and Juju. And we cannot perform autopsies because we have no refrigeration. Do you want to take the body back with you or should we bury him in the mission graveyard?” I stayed till after the burial, and when I got back to the outpost, there was no need to say anything. Mysteriously, everyone already knew the sad news.

Whether by power of the Juju or by plain coincidence, during the night of the screening a thunderstorm broke out over the outpost, and next morning half the compound’s thatched roofs were gone. The crew informed me that Aladdi had been there and had found his killer. After that, Aladdi no longer returned to the living.


The role of Fincho finally went to Patrick Akponu, a conductor on the Lagos-Owo bus line, which was actually an open truck. He was a proud young tribesman from Onitsha, on the Niger River. Would he like to work on a film? Yes, he would. Could he read English? Yes, he had gone to school until his father had died, though his education had never been completed. A week later he came to the concession. He wore no shoes and ate with his fingers and he was natural and friendly. While learning his lines, he suddenly exclaimed, “I did this before, in the village school.” “You did what?” I asked. “Shakespeare,” he said. And while I marveled at the sound of this word coming from his lips, he stood up, looked about as if confronting an audience, and said boldly, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears,” and broke into a hearty laugh. At that moment I knew I was lucky, and indeed it became a pleasure to work with him.

For the role of Fincho’s Girl I found a charming, expressive young girl named Amukpe. Only when I handed her the dialogue lines, it turned out she was illiterate. Her role went to a young vocalist from a band in Lagos, who could read English, memorize her lines, and act them out without effort. Her name was Comfort Ajilo.

Casting the White Man was a bit of a problem, the supply of candidates being so narrow. The only man who looked the part was the concession’s CEO, who, I feared, would decline considering his status and responsibilities. When in desperation I turned to Gordon Parry-Holroyd, he accepted with great pleasure, and filled his part conscientiously and convincingly.

To play the Jujuman I approached the real fellow, who spoke no English. His part, however, did not require it, Yoruba being sufficient, and it would add authenticity to his character. The problem arose when, after several rehearsals of a shot, as soon as the camera started rolling he would freeze completely and just stand still. One of the onlookers, a lean middle-aged man, jumped in to show him what to do. His name was Adebayo Fuwa, and in the end he got the part.

Two cast members actually played themselves - the schoolmaster, Bashiru Abibu, a bright and obliging fellow who invested in his part the same commitment he had for his profession; and Chief Adedigba, the village chief. There were also Mistah Finch’s driver, Gabriel Adebisi, forever busy polishing the boss’s LandRover, Fincho’s Father Pa, George Agho, the girl’s father, Augustine Ihonde, and a white woman on the compound who played Finch’s wife joining him in the jungle, a non-speaking and therefore a non-credited part. 


Those were days before zoom lenses, and if one wanted a moving shot, one could only pan sideways or tilt up and down. To heighten intimacy by moving in slowly, imperceptibly, on a close-up or a two-shot, one needed a dolly. We built one, using two bicycles with a platform between them.

Shooting the felling of trees was particularly dramatic. The fellers always knew which way the giant trees would fall, and directed us where to place the camera for safety. Once, however, their calculation fell short. I was filming the beginning of a fall, concentrating on the trunk at the tree’s base and expecting it to fall away from us, when suddenly, amid frenzied shouting, camera and tripod were grabbed away from me as the huge mass above was crashing down toward me. There was barely time to escape when, like in a nightmare, I discovered my foot was stuck in the undergrowth. It was only a split second between the crew pulling me free from my shoe and the mammoth trunk hitting the ground. A Kingdom for a Horse? A Shoe for a Life.


All in all I spent six months in “the interior”. Except for the test with Aladdi, I saw no rushes in Africa, relying rather on the lab reports from London than having the material shipped out. I left many friends in the Kingdom of Owo, black and white. In particular Fincho remained dear to my heart. I sent him several packages and books, and hoped he would advance to a better life than he had had before. This did not come to pass. Within a month or two, one of my letters to him was returned with an official stamp “Deceased.”

The next stage was the editing and finishing of the film. This took place in Los Angeles, where I had an assistantship teaching film at UCLA, my Alma Mater. Editing was made easy as I had kept the entire film on story board, which I had updated daily during shooting. All I had to do now was to arrange the shots in sequence, and fine cut. I rounded up several Nigerian students at the university for the dubbing of voices, and was elated, amid raucous laughter, to practice Pidgin again. The dialogue and the narration of Fincho’s voice I dubbed myself. Even the short Fincho song, words written by well-known lyricist Sid Robin, I sang and recorded with a small Mexican band. As befits an almost budget-less home production, I cut the negative myself.

Film, I believe, can be made more suggestive by the use of images and sounds not necessarily connected to the scene at hand, much like metaphors in language.

When, for example, Fincho and his girl, alone in an empty riverbed, discuss their future, a close shot of a tropical bird overhearing their conversation appears momentarily.

This is not a planned shot in the screenplay, but an editing idea, and

the short clip of the bird is purchased from a ‘stock library’ in the film capital. When Fincho, riding with the timber down the river, reaches the ocean freighter, which he sees for the first time, we hear the big ship sounding its horn. This would not

happen in reality, but the sound effect adds a dimension to the scene.


A kindly Hollywood composer, Alexander Laszlo, offered to compose and record an original score for the film. I was not convinced that a symphonic score was the most appropriate addition to the film, thinking a small combo or a single African instrument would be better. Eventually I was persuaded that a big orchestration would add stature to the film, an assumption I still question in my mind to this day. In any event, I had brought with me recordings of what was known as Lagos Highlife, and Laszlo adapted the syncopated rhythms with his own melody as the leitmotiv of the film, including that of the Fincho song. For the title background sheets, art student Shelley Schoenberg drew actual key scenes from the film in ink and color, to familiarize the viewer subliminally with coming events.


The final cut ran 75 minutes, a bit short perhaps for a feature, but better, I thought, than dragging it out another five or six minutes and slowing down the pace. My shooting ratio (the ratio between exposed stock to that actually used in the finished film) was 3:1, an efficient rate, made possible by the use of a detailed story board, and also by the necessity to be prudent. The net running time of finished film achieved during the shooting period was about one minute per shooting day, not a bad yield at all.


Deeply moved at the time by the enormously popular singer and black activist, Harry Belafonte, I boldly wrote him to ask if he would consider adding an introduction to the film. To my surprise he responded. He would gladly see the film, and suggested that I come to Las Vegas, where he was appearing nightly in one of the leading hotels, and show him the film. Packing a Movieola (a somewhat bulky editing machine with a small screen) and the “work-print” of the not quite finished film into my car, I drove to Nevada. Belafonte saw the film in his hotel room and agreed on the spot to cooperate. We made a date to meet at a small New York studio a few weeks later, and filmed Belafonte delivering a short address I had prepared. He did this entirely on a voluntary basis.


My Nigerian gamble thus worked out beyond my wildest dreams. After the film was completed, a most touching accolade came in the form of an unsolicited letter written by three leading Hollywood figures to the Production Head of 20th Century Fox, calling his attention to my work. The three renowned signatories were screenwriter, Norman Corwin, director Fred Zinnemann and composer Bernard Herrmann. I shall forever remain grateful for their munificence. Lastly, I also deepened a lifelong friendship with the Behrmans, who made it all possible.


Source

Esra Magazine. 


Friday, October 23, 2020

Video: Survivor of Lekki Toll Gate EndSARS Massacre Speaks

 


DJ Switch, who was one of the speakers for the #EndSARS protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos finally speaks out for the first time since she luckily survived the Lekki Toll Gate Massacre of the Nigerian youths on Tuesday night of October 20, 2020. The young human rights activists were having a peaceful protest against the rampant cases of horrifying police brutality and extra judicial killings of crime suspects and innocent people in Nigeria.

The End SARS is a decentralised social movement against police brutality in Nigeria. The slogan calls for an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a controversial unit of the Nigerian Police Force with a long record of human-rights abuses.
The protests started in 2017 as a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #ENDSARS to demand the Nigerian government disband and reform the police unit.


Class and Glamour as Panda is Opened

 

- By Ingram Osigwe 

A classy event attracts a galaxy of classy dignitaries. And so it was on October 17th, 2020 when an upscale Event facility, Panda Event Complex Ltd formally threw its doors open to the public. Situated at the Sabo, the commercial nerve Centre of Yaba, Lagos, Panda Event Complex Ltd is the brain child of Willy Obi (Agbarusia Ngele Akokwa).
 

Chief (Hon) Jude Dimogu, the only Igbo person in the Lagos House of Assembly was billed to chair the event but was caught up in a massive gridlock occasioned by the EndSARS protest in Lagos. However, Ichie Dikenuokam Nkem Okiche was on hand to fill the vacuum and he masterly and superbly gave account of himself. Ichie Okiche bore testament to the success of the event as Chairman of the day, proving his mettle and dexterity in the management of time and human resources as he skillfully piloted the affairs of the event from the beginning to the end. With another illustration son of Akokwa and Chairman of Orange Group, Chief (Dr) Sir Tony Ezenna, OFR as Chief Guest of honour, the stage was set for breathing of life into Panda.
As he cut the tape to signal the formal opening of the magnificent edifice, hands clapped in joy and heads shook in acceptance. Awed by Chief Obi's uncanny ingenuity in establishing the first class facility, Ezenna who holds the traditional title of Ijele Akokwa, effusively prayed for the success of the company and also for the safety of all guests. On his part, for citing the complex in his domain with the added advantage of boosting commerce and creating employment in the area, the Chairman of Yaba local government area, Hon. Kayode Omiyale, promised to give Panda two years of Tax holiday and other incentives. Apart from the names above, other high flyers who graced the official opening of Panda Complex Ltd also include Chief Ben Amuta (Onowu Umudioka) Sir Ken Okafor, (0welle Ichida) Chief Demo Amaefuna (Akubudike,)Chief Vincent Mgbemena(Ugonna Akokwa) Chief J O Uzuh ( Omeiheukwu Unubi) Chief Akaekpuchionwa Nawfia ,Chief Okiche ( Dike Unaku of Unubi) ,Chief Azubike Umunna (Nwachinemelu) Chief Ochendo Aguluzigbo,Chief Israel Orjiekwe(Akuzurumba), Chief Cletus Chukwu (Kent),Chief Ralph Obi( Akuilili Awka-Etiti) Mr. Amaechi Okpara, Hon Oderaa Onwudiwe( Ugodinobi), Chief Odinnanwa( Ocean Wave), Chief Uchenna Nkana( Nkana Cash) Chief Stephenson Mbajekwe, Barr( Pharm) Steve Okonkwo,(Ugwumba), Chief Luke Okeke(Nwachinemelu), Chief Easy Emesofor (Akajiugo), Chief Dona Akachukwu (Akajiugo Nnewi) Chief Uche Offor( Ugochinyereze) Chief and High Chief Don Abuachi( JP),Sir Engineer Nebeolisa, Prince Chibuike Aluchuru( Oke Ikpo, Chief Obinna Ashara( ObiPaki) Engineer Chimezie, Chief Ik Azugo ( Okenwa Nnobi) Chief Akujiobi, Chief Signal Izuagba, Ichie Boniface Uzuh( Ezeudemba Unubi),Chief Ugochukwu Emebo(Ugotec) Chief Ernest Ugochukwu,(Nwatakwochaa) Chief Collins Ejeckam, Chief Akajiugo Ntueke, Chief Kene Anolue(Igiligi Alor) Chief Charles Udochukwu(Ikukuoma) Lady Hope, Elojones, Prince Dondee, Chief Egonku Ndubuisi, Chief Collins Ekwebelem(Nwachinamaraoji) Chief Omenife Oraukwu,Chief Emeka Ikeabuotu(Akukwesili Nnobi), Emeka Arondizuogu) Chief Peter Obi (Ezeobinwa) Chief Ezeamanyanneya Oraukwu, Chief Ubani, Mrs Mulikat Kolawale, Chief Obinna(Ezeokwelume), Chief Ifeanyi Okafor(Ifemelumma),Chief Ohamadike Nnewi, Chief Okpuruisi Izuogu, Nwa Jesus na Akokwa,Mr Musa Mbitahson, Hallmark Movie Chairman, Igbudu Alor, Chief Sunday Ebelebe(Omenyiri Akokwa) Dr Mike Izuogu(Ugwudinanwa) Dr Charles Iweanya, Chief Emeka Ufo (Nkwachukwukwere Nnokwa) and Chief Emeka Emechebe(Amaraeriaku of Akokwa,Mr. Ugochukwu Obi, Mr. Uche Azifuaku, Chief Nonso Abatete, Allman Communication, Ogechukwu Obi and Ebuka Nwosu(Ikoro). Diamond Club members and Bank executives also graced the event.
 
Guests were treated to sumptuous delicacies and drinks as there were enough to drink and dine for all. Many of the guests were elated with the berthing of Panda as a one stop event complex that provides all facilities for wedding, cocktail, End of year parties and other sundry celebrations. Panda Event complex is the first ever event centre in Nigeria where Churches and reception halls, hotel accommodations as well as bars are located in one zone. Apart from event halls, the complex also houses an expansive, well ordered parking lot, shopping centres among others. Notedly, there is a large parking space to accommodate vehicles of different sizes, stores to accommodate various businesses, two halls for 1000 guests and 400 guests sitting. There is also a hotel consisting of 42 rooms (studio, standard, deluxe rooms, suite & executive suite) as well as outdoor and indoor restaurant, Executive bar and outdoor bar. Banks and ATM points in the plethora of banks adjacent the complex allow for quick banking transactions. This is complemented by the plethora of banks in Commercial Avenue, Sabo
The idea of an Event complex as opposed to an Event centre, according to Panda Management, is to eliminate stress and anxiety event organisers and guests often encounter, especially in Lagos due to logistics and traffic related factors. Users of the complex are assured of adequate security and health safety with deployment of automatic hand sanitizers in strategic points. Well trained security personnel are also stationed in various locations in the complex in addition to digital security apparatus, including CCTV cameras. This is in addition to sharing neighborhood with Army and police formation with the vicinity. A round- the clock power supply to the Complex ensures uninterrupted comfort. Located at plot 112 commercial Avenue, Oyadiran estate, Sabo yaba, Panda Event Complex Ltd is ringed by Adekunle, Alagomeji, Yaba, third mainland bridge, Jibowu, Oyingbo, Herbert Macaulay, commercial avenue and Sabo police station. Guests at the events praised Chief Obi for his foresight in establishing a world class leisure and business facility such as Panda, saying he has revolutionized leisure, business and event hosting in Nigeria.