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Your Minajesty! Nicki Minaj caused a sensation in the music industry with the launch of her rap career, and since then she has taken the world by storm. Born Onika Tanya Maraj in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Minaj moved to Queens, New York at the age of 5 with her family. She later graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, where she developed a love for the performing arts. After rapping in a New York-based four-piece called The Hoodstars, Minaj decided to make a name for herself, and she did so with the release of her first mixtape, Playtime Is Over, in July 2007. She released two more tapes in April. . 2008 and April 2009, Sucka Free and Beam Me Up Scotty, the latter of which caught the eye of Lil Wayne. The “Lollipop” rapper promptly signed her to her record label, Young Money Entertainment, and the rest is history. As Young Money's latest recruit, Minaj was named a featured artist on songs like Ludacris' "My Chick Bad" and Kanye West's "Monster" before releasing her debut album, Pink Friday, in November 2010. Her career took off immediately. while on tour. With Britney Spears, she performed at the 2011 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and won countless awards. In April 2012, Minaj released her second album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which mixed rap and pop music and only made her an even bigger commercial star. To promote the record, she launched her first headlining tour, performed at the Grammy Awards (making her the first female solo rapper to do so), and rapped with Madonna during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. . In the midst of the Roman Reloaded era, Minaj also ventured into the worlds of film and television, playing a character in 2012's Ice Age: Continental Drift, becoming a judge on American Idol season 12, and starring in 2014's The Other Woman. The Grammy nominee released her third album, The Pinkprint, in December 2014 and starred in another film, Barbershop: The Next Cut, the following year. His fourth album, Queen, came out in August 2018. It wasn't until May 2020 that he scored his first number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, thanks to his remix of Doja Cat's "Say So." hits, "Trollz" featuring 6ix9ine, came just a month later. Over the years, Minaj has also made headlines for her personal life. She dated rappers Safaree Samuels, Meek Mill, and Nas before marrying her childhood friend Kenneth "Zoo" Petty in October 2019. The couple welcomed a son the following September. Scroll down to see the evolution of Minaj!
Mr Wendell De Landro, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria, has said that his southern American country is ready to expand trade with Nigeria.
De Landro made this known on Monday in Abuja during the commemoration of the 60th independence anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the year-long celebration has as its theme and hashtag #Together60. According to De Landro, Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria share similarities in rich culture, natural resources which can be properly harnessed and traded for mutual benefits.
He also lamented the diminishing trade relations between the two countries that enjoyed strong bilateral relations which dated back 60 years from when Trinidad and Tobago got independence from Britain.
“Culture is one.
Another thing is that we have our gas development.
“I know for a fact that there is gas flaring in Nigeria and that is a sacrilege to me.
“And that is why when I came in 2018, I spoke to the Nigerian Gas Association about it, to show Nigeria what we can do about it.
“Right now, Nigeria is flaring probably half to three-quarters of an LNG train … Nigeria has six trains and is working on the seventh.
We (Trinidad and Tobago) has four.
“We are using our gas, our LNG and we sell.
Nigeria is doing that but they can do much more by harnessing the flared gas.
“The trade has diminished over the years, we were exporting bitumen to Nigeria.
What we are doing now is to get agriculture produce.
“We have small yams, but in Nigeria you have yams as big as my legs.
I tell people that the sweetest pineapples I have eaten is in Nigeria.
“In Jos, you have tomatoes, we make ketchup in Trinidad, we can get tomatoes from Jos to export,” De Landro said.
Amb. Tunde Mustapha, Director Regions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, congratulated Trinidad and Tobago on the economic achievements it has recorded it the past 60 years.
Mustapha, who spoke on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that Nigeria was committed to strengthening its relations with Trinidad and Tobago.
“Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago share very warm and cordial relations dating back to the time of independence and our two countries have been able to solidify these cultural affinities over time.
“We wish to commend the government of Trinidad and Tobago for the giant strides it has achieved in bringing economic prosperity to its people.
“Trinidad and Tobago has been classified by the World Bank as a high-income country with the highest capital income in the region, after the U.
S and Canada.
“Nigeria is committed to strengthening the ties and bonds with Trinidad and Tobago and there are many areas for cooperation in the economic sphere that need to be explored as both countries are oil producing nations.
“The two countries also share common principles of peaceful, coexistence, non-aggression and non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations,” Mustapha said.
NAN reports that the occasion was graced by members of the diplomatic community and representatives of some ministries, department and agencies.
Mr Li Xuda, Cultural Counselor of the China Cultural Centre, Abuja says China will open its market to Nigeria for the West African country to export its art and crafts in the nearest future.
Li made the announcement while speaking to the diplomatic correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the 15th International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC) in Abuja on Sunday.
NAN reports that the 2022 INAC Expo, organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) has the theme “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World”.
Li said that China was willing to support Nigeria in showcasing its rich culture, arts and crafts to the world and to build stronger relationship between Nigeria and China.
“From today so many things impressed me.
I see the beautiful dance, the drums; the music; the arts and crafts.
‘I see that China in the future will open its market to Nigeria so that Nigerian arts and crafts will be exported to China and to invite your dancers to perform in China.
“You know, China and Nigeria have similar cultural activities as well as traditional cultural exchanges.
“We have also hosted cultural activities like cultural week, drawing competition to learn about our two countries, to showcase their talents and at the same time we will support Nigeria cultural events.
“We will build our friendship and let the people of both countries know each other so that our relationship will be better and stronger,” Li said.
The diplomatic community and some ambassadors at the event also commended the Director-General of the NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe, for organising the expo, which they described as a unifying factor.
The Ambassador of Venezuela to Nigeria, Mr David Caraballo, said that Venezuela and Nigeria had similar culture and food and that staging the expo would strengthen cultural ties between both countries.
“It is our fourth year, participating in this important international activity, organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture of Nigeria.
“Venezuela and Nigeria have strong roots of similar culture, food, history, music and dance and this opportunity every year is important, especially after the pandemic and after COVID-19 restrictions.
“In this expo, we present different products of Venezuela, the exportable products, like food products and services as well as products like chocolates and foods for daily use.
“We are preparing to attend the upcoming Abuja International Trade Fair in October,” Caraballo added.
Mr Wendel De Landro, Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria, pledged his support to Runsewe in promoting the annual event, which he said had been a means of unifying countries and cultures in Nigeria.
“One of my goals here is supporting schools in Nigeria.
So we are bringing back from the diaspora back to Africa, what we got from Africans coming across with the drums.
“Culture is universal, see what happened when they say come and dance, you see everybody dancing.
“Music, whether they do not understand what they are saying, you see everybody dancing and this is what Otunba is doing by not only bringing unity in Nigeria of different cultures but from other countries.
“We hope it is going to continue and definitely every year, I am going to support him,” De Landro said.
NAN reports that 25 countries and eight states in the federation participated in the expo.
Ogun, known as the ‘gateway state’ has emerged as the best exhibitors at the just-concluded International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC).
This was announced during the closing ceremony of the expo held in Abuja on Saturday, with the theme “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ogun has maintained the first position in two consecutive years, in 2021 and now 2022. The state was also rated the best in pavilion design, products design in textiles and fashion; metal and brass works and the most enterprising exhibitor.
Lagos state got the second position while Katsina, Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory got the third position.
Mr Olusegun Olaotan, Permanent Secretary, Ogun Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture expressed excitement over the victory.
Olaotan said that the state would be working harder to maintain the position in subsequent years.
” Today is the happiest day of my life, it is something that we dreamt of, our governor gave us a mandate to emerge clinch position like last year.
“We worked for it, we were expecting it and it has come, we are very happy as a people, government and citizens of Nigeria.
” This shows that the government of Ogun is making meaningful impact in arts and craft development, not only locally, but internationally,” he said.
Indian pavilion NAN reports that China, Burkina Faso and Katsina state got the best merchandising pavilion awards.
The best product design awards in textile and fashion went to India, Mali, Ogun and Lagos states, while Ogun, Anambra and Kogi got the best in metal works.
Venezuela, Akwa Ibom and Lagos states won the best product design in wood works and Bauchi state got the best in calabash design.
The best product design in pottery and ceramics awards went to Iran, Bulgaria and the Federal Capital Territory, while Bauchi and Akwa Ibom won the best in raffia works.
Malaysia, Cuba as well as Trinidad and Tobago got the best product design in gastronomy.
For the best product design in ornaments, beads and jewelry designs, Sudan, Republic of Benin and Lagos emerged winners.
Handmade Genius Limited won the best exhibiting non-governmental organisation.
For the best product design awards in new innovation, waste to wealth, Lebanon and South Korea emerged winners, while China, Federal Capital Territory and Lubcon Limited won most attractive packaging.
Tanzania, Spain and Syria won best exhibitors in e-marketing and for the best exhibitors in networking strategy, Philippines, Bangladesh and Lubcon limited won.
The 15th edition of the International Arts and Craft Expo (INAC) began on Thursday in Abuja with no fewer than 25 countries and eight states in attendance.
The expo which is to hold from Aug.18 to Aug. 20, has the theme: “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World”.
Some of the countries in attendance include: China, Cuba, Spain, Mali, Tanzania, Iran, Phillipines, Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, India, Syria, Venezuela, Burkina Faso, Bangledesh, Soth Korea, Lebanon, Benin Republic, Sudan and Libya among others.
Participants from Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun, Katsina, Akwa Ibom states and the FCT were also in attendance.
Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), convener of INAC, said that the essence of the expo was to ensure Nigerian crafts are better projected to various countries of the world.
Runsewe said that it was also meant to promote cultural exchange programmes, improve inter-country collaborations in music, arts, drama and all.
According to him, the expo will feature skill acquisition training for the youth, free medical examination and care, display of countries art documemtaries, exhibitions of countries’ arts, crafts and all.
“This is another opportunity we have to showcase Nigerian crafts to the world and to let the world know that Nigeria is a safe place to be.
“We want Nigerians to know that the creative industry is capable of tackling Nigerian insecurity problems by engaging the youth in our crafts for revenue generation,” he said.
Some of the exhibitors who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria commended the organisers of the expo and revealed their expectations.
Mrs Yadavi Ritu-Martin, an exhibitor from India, said the main aim of participating in the expo was to learn from Nigerian culture and other countries.
Ritu-Martin said that fabrics from the 31 states that make up India were exhibited as well as household handmade utensils made with copper, brass and silver.
Another exhibitor from India, Reena Saini, said she had come to showcase and create awareness on the efficacy of Indian traditional medicines known as “Ayurveda”.
Mr Adeeb Al-bodi, Cultural Officer, Syrian Embassy, said Syrian handcrafts ranging from home decoratives, kitchen utensils and body ornaments were on display.
Albodi commended organisers of the expo for a well organised environment.
He said some of the country’s crafts displayed were: Ibri Shayi- a cup specially made for tea consumption; Samawar- material for home decoration; Dhawulat Zahan – an imitation of chess games and many other items.
Mr Mishaal Khadr, Economic Attachė, Lebanon Embassy, said he had always been intrigued with countries and states’ participation in the expo.
Khadr noted that Lebanon was participating to showcase the country’s old history in arts and crafts.
He said the country was also out to market its organic olive oil soap which had lots of benefits to the skin, acting as antioxidant and more.
“We have our handmade aluminium plates, home decoratives, modern boxes, organic soap made with 100 per cent olive oil, we intend to make sales and create awareness for most of the products displayed.
“Lebanon and Nigeria have some similarities in culture, we have experienced lots of inter-marriages, we are looking forward to strengthening our relations.
“I love Nigeria and what I will be taking away from here is Nigerian good food and beautiful music,” he said.
The delegates and exhibitors were thrilled as local artistes performed to their delight.
The Convener, 2022 Olokun Festival, Mrs Omolara Fashola, says culture will increase Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product and the entire African continent, if properly harnessed.
Fashola made this known at a news conference on Saturday in Lagos, ahead of the festival slated for Aug. 26 in Lagos.
The Convener said: ‘’My belief is that, if culture is properly harnessed, it will increase the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria and of course, the entire African continent.
‘’There is need to enlighten our youths to take their destiny into their hands; they should take due advantage of the continents rich cultural diversity to develop themselves economically.
‘’ According to her, this requires concerted efforts, time and attention of every African.
Fashola said that the promotion of African culture should have an impact on the way people viewed life, which according to her, gives the continent an edge among other continents.
She said that on the contrary, the culture had been pushed aside for foreign cultures in terms of food, languages, entertainment and fashion.
‘’Promoting the Yoruba Culture through the Olokun Festival has come to mend the gap by showcasing our culture in the best way possible with our local cuisine, music, fashion, folklore among others.
‘’As a Cultural Ambassador of the African Union- ECOSOCC Nigeria, my job is to support the work of the regional body.
“This is to promote greater unity and solidarity between Africa countries and its people and also to defend Africa position on issues of the common interest.
‘’The better way to achieve these goals is by promoting and driving the relevance of our cultural heritage to our coming generations,‘’ Fashola said.
Also, Mr John Oba, a representative of the African Union- ECOSOCC Nigeria, said that Nigeria’s culture would solve most of the vices currently being experienced in the country.
‘’If we want a corrupt-free Nigeria, we need to task our leaders to go by our culture; once elected, they should swear by our culture.
If we can imbibe our culture, corruption will be something of the past.
‘’Also, we must bring our culture to the fore, so that our youths can understand its value; be properly molded to be the people they are supposed to be and we will not lose our identity,‘’ Oba said.
In her remarks, Ms Aderonke Fowosere, an Information and Communications Technology Expert, said that her company was looking toward ‘’tokenising’’ culture, which is, presenting culture in such a way that it lived forever.
Fowosere, who works at a technological company into software engineering, Mobi Automation, said her company was partnering with the Olokun foundation for the event.
‘’We are here to ensure that the essence of African culture is preserved and passed across.
‘’We are also looking for ways toward integrating technology to the monetisation of culture, so that the custodians of culture are able to harness the innate capacity of our traditions.
‘’Also, to be able to make money and in the long run, able to raise the standard of living in Nigeria and transform the economic structure of the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ambassadors and High Commissioners from Africa and other countries have been invited to be part of the event.
‘The theme of the event is “The Role of African Culture in the Promotion and Development of Young Africans”.
The countries include: Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Malaysia, France, China, America, Spain, Britain.
Also, part of the activities expected at the event include cultural display; Ewi recitation; dance performances; Inspired African shows; display of African artifacts; life band contemporary African Music.
Greece battled three wildfires across the country on Sunday that forced hundreds to evacuate, as higher temperatures raised concerns of more fires.
The country is suffering from a heat wave that began on Saturday and is expected to last 10 days. Temperatures were set to rise to 42 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.
Experts blame climate change for rising temperatures and warn the worst is yet to come.
The fires broke out in the north, east and south of Greece, including the island of Lesbos.
On Sunday, the fire broke out on Lesbos after it broke out a day earlier, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of tourists and residents of the coastal town of Vatera.
At least four houses were destroyed, state television ERT reported, and the fires damaged an unknown number of shops, hotels and beach bars in the town.
Dozens of firefighters cried out early Sunday to bring the blaze under control, with four water-dropping planes and two helicopters in operation.
In the northeastern region of Evros, a forest fire burned for the fourth day in Dadia National Park, known for its colony of black vultures.
The fire has already destroyed almost 500 hectares (1,220 acres) of forest.
More than 300 firefighters battled to control the fire in Evros and on Saturday night, thick smoke forced the evacuation of the town of Dadias.
It was not known how many people were evacuated.
"The most important thing for us is the safety of the villagers and all forces will be deployed there," Evros Governor Dimitris Petrovits told the Athens News Agency.
The fire had already passed the bird of prey observatory and was approaching the buildings of the protected area management unit.
Petrovits said collecting and treating injured animals was a high priority for authorities.
In the Peloponnese, a southern peninsula, a fire that broke out early Saturday forced the evacuation of the village of Chrysokelaria.
By noon Sunday, firefighters were able to contain the fire, which they said was in remission.
A wildfire in the mountains near Atenas on Wednesday also damaged homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate after gale-force winds earlier in the week.
Greece's worst wildfire killed 102 people in 2018 in the coastal suburb of Mati, east of Athens.
The latest fires come after a heat wave and forest fires last year destroyed 103,000 hectares and claimed three lives in Greece.
Fires in parts of France, Spain and Portugal have already burned more land so far this year than was destroyed by flames in all of 2021.
The area, some 517,881 hectares, is equivalent to the size of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has urged the Federal Government to address the necessary economic parameters to prevent Nigeria from slipping into recession.
Mr John Udeagbala, National President, NACCIMA, gave the charge on Friday in Lagos, via a report from the association’s third quarter economic briefing.
Udeagbala said the advice was imperative, following the possible false sense of security from the 3.11 per cent economic growth recorded in this year’s first quarter.
He said that the statistics might not have fully captured the supply and value chain disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“While other stakeholders might see this as the leveling out of economic growth from the COVID-19 pandemic, the private sector is concerned that external shocks brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have put immense pressure on the productive capacity of our economy.
“We therefore, urge once again, the implementation of government policy that places priority on improving domestic production, otherwise face a likely state of economic recession by the end of 2022,” he said.
On inflation, the NACCIMA president said that the decision of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to raise the Monetary Policy Rate from 13 to 14 per cent was welcomed.
He, however, stated that the move was majorly an inflation management measure, and did not address the root cause of the inflation such as rising food prices, devaluation of the Naira, and high cost of energy and transportation.
“Nevertheless, we look forward to the continued implementation of the Central Bank’s intervention in the agriculture, manufacturing, energy, healthcare and export sectors, which will ensure some improvement in food and energy supply,” he said.
Addressing the country’s power situation, Udeagbala called on the government to renew its focus on implementing policies to ensure Nigeria’s energy sufficiency to become a net exporter of petroleum products and eventually, electricity.
He also called for urgent action in fixing domestic refineries, or the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, which is currently hobbled by the petroleum subsidy regime.
“If we estimate that Nigeria has spent an average of N2trillion a year for the past 16 years on petroleum subsidy, it is time to ask ourselves, how many refineries could we have built in that time?
“As we acknowledge the economic impact of the sudden removal of petroleum subsidy, we advocate a gradual removal with attendant policy initiatives to cushion the effect on the economy.
“We can start by taking a look at other developing countries in this space, such as Trinidad and Tobago, who never had to carry out Turn Around Maintenance on their only refinery, or revisit crude oil to petroleum product swap arrangements,” he said.
Addressing unemployment, Udeagbala lauded the government’s innovative policies such as, approved tax reliefs and other incentives for startups to harness Nigeria’s digital innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
He urged the government to further consider the security implications of the high unemployment rate of 33 per cent, and do more to address the regular faceoff with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He emphasised the need for a foundation of quality education as a basis to ensure the employability of the Nigerian youth.
“The regular face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU, leading to incessant strikes, has gradually altered the educational systems in the country, limiting the number of productive graduates available.
“NACCIMA calls on the Federal Government to resolve such pending issues with a sense of urgency, even as we hope that the two-week ultimatum given to the Minister of Education by President Muhammadu Buhari will yield a lasting result,” he said.
On the country’s public debt, Udeagbala counselled all levels of government to consider other sources of funding, such as leveraging on public-private partnerships for tax credits spread over time.
He said the advice was very necessary because Nigeria’s current debt levels were unsustainable, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), projects that by 2026, all of Nigeria’s revenue would go to servicing debt.
“The economy cannot run based on increasing the number of taxes borne by the private sector, as we have witnessed by recent laws passed by the National Assembly.
“We advocate policies that systematically and consistently increase the tax base in terms of the volume of production or the number of taxpayers.
“We also counsel that the executive and legislature make concerted efforts to reduce the cost of governance as a way to reduce the pressure to run a government based on debt,” he said.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, the Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, has advised Trinidad and Tobago Members of Parliament to be careful when drafting campaign finance laws.
Addressing members of a joint select committee of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago that is examining the Representation of the People [Amendment] [No.2] Bill 2020, Mpuuga advised parliamentarians to draft a law establishing an independent entity to handle the financing of political parties.
"In establishing a mechanism for public financing of political parties, legal drafters should think very carefully about choosing the institution or authority given for administration. It should not be like our Election Commission, which is extremely partisan," Mpuuga said. .
His speech via zoom, a video conferencing service, to parliamentarians from the twin-island Caribbean nation on Monday, June 27, 2022, is part of the peer-to-peer exchange program supported by the International Republic Institute (IRI), an organization funded under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In addition to providing a legal framework for campaign finance, money laundering and corruption, the bill also seeks to expand the functions of the Trinidad and Tobago Boundary and Electoral Commission.
Such a body, Mpuuga said, must act without undue government influence.
“Reliance on an electoral commission appointed by a party to be the administrator of the public financing of political parties and organizations [in Uganda] failed the neutrality test," Mpuuga said, adding that, "At the core of the justification for public funding of political parties under a multi-party dispensation is the desire to deepen democracy in a country."
He criticized the 2008 amendments to the Uganda Political Parties and Organizations Act 2005, specifically sections 9 and 12 which he said were intended to limit the funding of opposition parties from private and foreign sources.
"It was presented as a lukewarm justification for the state to clamp down on foreign donations," he said.
While the law provides for government funding for all registered political parties or organizations with respect to elections and their normal day-to-day activities, he argued, it is being used to stifle political opposition.
"The NRM government introduced the amendment with a different ideological aim than the other opposition parties. It has never been on the ruling party's wish list to strengthen multi-party democracy in Uganda," Mpuuga said.
"As of today, no activity of opposition political parties can take place outside the walls of the party headquarters or within the precincts of the Parliament building," it added.
He also accused the government of using the funds as bait to lure the parties to the table in order to cover up their excesses, such as human rights abuses.