As countdown to the May 29th closure date for the Ibikunle Amosun administration in Ogun State continues, several analysts have started undertaking a media prognosis of the man and his achievements over his two- term tenure as governor of the Gateway State.One of such analyses was featured on the back page of The Punch newspaper edition of Tuesday, April 16th. Titled Ogun State’s mismanaged advantage, the piece, by Azukah Onwuka, sought to amplify the purported failure of the Amosun administration in harnessing the opportunities presented by the state’s unique location, especially her proximity to Lagos, to engender massive infrastructure and socio-economic development of her satellite towns.
While it is important to accept that the writer has the right to his opinion, allowing the obvious misrepresentations as chronicled in the said opinion piece to pass unchallenged is definitely not in the interest of our dear Ogun State. Expectedly, the Special Adviser to the governor on property and investments, who is also the Managing Director of the Ogun State Property Investment Corporation, Mr Babajide Odusolu, has written a rejoinder on the Punch online portal detailing some of the notable investments and interventions the administration has made in road infrastructure development of the satellite towns in the past eight years.
Nevertheless, as an unbiased citizen, who has been privileged to live and work in Ogun State for over twenty-five years, I am moved to contribute his views to make the conversation richer.
No doubt, the governor and members of his cabinet stand on the threshold of history. But that history should neither be manipulated nor written without a proper evaluation of the Amosun milieu vis-à-vis the profile of Ogun State in 2011 which is the administration’s take off point.
Of a truth, if the unassailable evidence of holistic socio-economic, infrastructure and industrial revolution that has been undertaken by the administration, albeit silently but doggedly, in the last eight years is anything to go by, the Amosun team should indeed be happy that they have set the state on the path of permanent positive transformation that could only produce an economic revolution that will not be forgotten by future generations.
Shortly after the inauguration of the Amosun administration for its first term, a peer review exercise conducted by the policy consultant to the then Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Mr Ilyasu Gashinbaki, came up with an illuminating but highly predictive preliminary report that appeared to have defined the trajectory of the Amosun administration’s development blueprint.
According to the report, Ogun State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was projected to exceed that of Oyo State by 2013; and might be ranked in the same category with major IGR driven states like Lagos, Kano and Rivers by 2020. It also hinted that the state should attain fiscal autonomy by 2015, if a pragmatic economic-cum fiscal policy to harness and sustain the State’s current economic realities were faithfully implemented.
Additionally, the Gashinbaki Report also reckoned that if the current policy thrust was to be sustained by successive administrations, especially regarding innovative seeds of development such as the deep sea port, Olokola regional free trade zones, Kajola special rail system, Gateway International Airport, tourism, trade and commerce, construction boom and trans ECOWAS trade, then Ogun would fast-track the process of becoming the most advanced sub-nation among countries in the West African sub region.
According to 2007 GDP estimates, the state was ranked ninth in the country with regards to GDP, with approximately $10.5billion GDP when the state’s population, based on the 2006 census, was about 3.75 million and 16th among the 36 states in Nigeria. But these have since changed in the last eight years as Ogun State of today occupies a place among the top five on all ranking tables for socio-economic development indices among states in the country. The state now provides a home for many as a large number of the workforce of Lagos today resides in Ogun due to the urbanisation and rural development schemes that have given room for several satellite estates to emerge in various locations in the state.
The huge investments spilling into the state today are said to be the fallout of the policies put in place by the administration since its inception in 2011. For instance, early in the life of the administration, a clear-cut focus was put in place for achieving the set goals, one of which was to improve on agriculture and also embark on urban development. This reasoning was premised on the belief that agriculture will lead to urban development, and at the same time create wealth for the state, considering its capacity to employ more people and the possibility of processing farm produce, which will ultimately lead to the harnessing and development of agriculture.
It is also important to place on record that from 2011 to date, hundreds of companies, each with a minimum investment of $100 million and above, have made Ogun State their abode. Between 2012 and 2014 alone, a total of 64 companies in this category set up in Ogun State. Between 2014 and now, the number has grown tremendously. Several thousands more cottage industries, especially in Agriculture and Agro-allied sectors have also sprung up and are doing well. This development has today made the State the industrial base of the country as it is doubtful if any other state in the country has witnessed same growth trajectory as Ogun in this regard.
Likewise, most of the direct foreign investments coming into the country have found an appropriate business atmosphere within Ogun’s several upcoming and rejuvenated industrial layouts, including new businesses which are coming into the state in droves. These and more, make Governor Amosun to declare at the 2nd edition of Ogun State Investors Forum in 2014 that “today, Ogun State is not only open for business, it is business.”
The multiplier effect of these efforts is that the government has achieved wealth creation, increased IGR and started an industrial revolution. This is evident in the average monthly IGR of N4 billion revenue now being generated by the state compared to N730 million when Amosun took over the administration in 2011.
Perhaps a plausible explanation for why the administration has pursued infrastructure development across the state with vigour is because Amosun understood perfectly that for the state’s economy to be more vibrant and less dependent on federal allocations, it must be private sector driven; a factor that the governor said has made his administration to continually provide an enabling environment for businesses and investments to flourish, to complement the policy of on-going massive construction in all parts of the state and towns while economically strategic village settlements are also being reengineered.
To further energise the measures to turn the state into an industrial hub, the Amosun administration has worked closely with the Bank of Industries (BoI) in the last eight years to aid credit facilities for investors. This is aside the ease of acquisition of land for investment purposes like farming and siting of factories and other industries. Today, Ogun State government gives as much as 70 per cent rebate on cost of acquiring land and ensures that documentation of such properties are concluded at the speed of light via the much acclaimed Home Owners Charter Project. However, development of such lands must commence within six months of its allocation. This is to discourage speculative investors and ensure that only serious minded investors who are prepared to add value come to the state.
A report by the International Finance Corporation in the pre-Amosun years had ranked Ogun State as the 36th on the ease of doing business index in the country, and one of the complaints was the timeline for land transactions.
Though it met a sordid land administration process on ground, the Amosun administration has, however, boldly undertaken a holistic reform of the entire land allocation procedure and this has resulted in the reassessment of operations and a more thriving system.
Transiting from an entirely manual data storage system, Ogun State today uses Electronic Data Management System to store vital land information on a central server that is accessible from connected computers. Thus, while the old practice was for files containing vital land information from the Western Region era to be strewn on shelves in the Bureau of Lands and Survey Office, Amosun’s administration has revolutionised the system by using special scanners and servers to capture records while all the files are now indexed appropriately. Additionally, Geographic Information System has been installed to provide up-to-date satellite imageries for the entire state to aid planning. While border communities are to have images of 50cm, others would have 80cm.
“Where we are going is for people to stay in their offices or homes and log on to our website and complete their land transactions. Computers are already installed in our search rooms and people can conduct their searches themselves after paying a token; we don’t want any exploitation”, Special Adviser to the Governor on Land Matters and Director-General, Bureau of Lands and Survey, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, once revealed.
In eight years, it is gratifying that a lot has been achieved by the Amosun administration in closing perceived gaps in the areas of large unregulated informal sector and integration of tax planning, urban planning and urban regeneration.
Among many other standouts, one ambitious but highly commendable move of the administration is the earmarking of 37,000 hectares of land stretching from Papalanto axis in Obafemi Owode Local Government all the way to Ifo in Ifo Local Government area to facilitate the establishment of a modern smart city that would be a model in physical planning and infrastructure as a way of kick-starting the mission to remodel Ogun into a 21st Century aspirational City.
The new town, which will be part of the Lagos Mega City, will take off from the left hand side of the Papalanto road where Nestle Nigeria Plc has its factory off the Abeokuta-Shagamu dual carriageway and will traverse Mowe, Ofada, Loburo and Ifo communities, among others.
While previous administrations that ran the state in the first 12 years of this 4th Republic had left a mountain of administrative rot that propelled infrastructure collapse and socio-economic stagnation, the Amosun administration has redrawn the picture. Expectedly, the administration has had to naturally pin the rebuilding, remodeling and rejuvenation of urban infrastructure agenda to a pragmatic, phase-by-phase approach that took cognizance of available resources, geographical-cum-ethnic balancing and effective resource allocation in a manner that did not suffer other government responsibilities.
Massive investment in and commitment to provision of adequate security has been at the root of the urban renewal drive witnessed in the last eight years. Today, the ‘omo onile’ problem that characterised property acquisition and development in most parts of the state, especially in the satellite or border towns, has been largely eradicated. Thus, a bright future for further infrastructure development of the state through an effective public-private sectors partnership interventions that rests on CDAs and CDCs (which have been greatly supported and incorporated into government’s security and infrastructure architectural plans at various levels) is a comforting possibility.
Today, Ogun has become a success story of note, thanks to the administrative and political will of the present government to reverse the rot of the past. As Amosun prepares to gloriously bow out of the Government House, the job is by no means finished. The next administration needs to sustain the political will, commitment and honest approach of the current administration to take the state further on the development journey. In this regards, further work needs to be done in some important areas. These include residence and tax jurisdiction challenges; property audit in urban areas; greater financial empowerment strategy by issuance of bankable titles (C of O for all houses); beautification by corporate bodies; indirect tax systems challenges; goods and services tax review, for example consumption tax for hotels; diversification of tax and non-tax IGR sources as well as deepening tourism, trans-ECOWAS-trade and industrial development agenda already kick started by the Amosun administration.
However, Amosun and his team deserve resounding applause from all well-meaning citizens.
- Ogundele is a Property Consultant and Public Affairs Analyst based in Abeokuta, Ogun State
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With President Muhammadu Buhari’s response completing the cycle of arguments and counter-arguments arising from the conduct and outcome of the 2019 presidential election, it may pretty well be said that the orchestra of the February 23 tragic-comedy is just beginning to set its own stage.
The highlights of the petition from the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar against the Independent National Electoral Commission and the All Progressives Congress very well paint the picture that the February 23 presidential election was rigged to favour incumbent President Buhari.
Both Atiku and the PDP had raised some salient questions such as the allegation that the result that was officially declared by INEC was different from the result that was electronically fed into the back-end server of the commission and that the electoral commission did not follow its own guidelines on the use of card readers. The third major red flag that the PDP raised was that President Buhari lacks the basic educational requirement by the 1999 constitution that should have qualified him to participate in the election.
The PDP/Atiku legal team went a step further by providing the actual data captured on the server of INEC which shows that the opposition party defeated the incumbent by a margin of about one million, six hundred thousand votes. And so, expectedly, the sound-bite of the stolen mandate had rented the air and it was assumed that the response of both INEC and the APC to the petition will put paid to that sound-bite.
Regrettably, that was not to be.
In separate replies to the petition brought before the Court of Appeal presidential election tribunal, both the INEC and APC came up with two ludicrous claims that, other than bemuse public sensibilities, is very infirm to float an argument that the February 23 election was indeed free and fair.
In the case of INEC in its reply, the commission makes a shameless volte-face on its own guidelines concerning the use of card readers; and rather than dismiss figures being bandied by the PDP and its candidate by presenting the actual data captured in its server, the electoral commission retorts that its servers are blank of any data.
In its own reply, the APC made a more prostrate submission, saying that Atiku is not qualified to be elected as Nigeria’s president because he is a foreigner from the Republic of Cameroon.
Many commentators have been interrogating the topic of Atiku’s nationality since last week Friday when APC made the laughable claim. But it is doubtful if the intention of the APC was to actually make an issue out of Atiku’s Nigerian identity, but rather establish a construct in parallel with the allegation that Buhari’s educational background does not merit his being presented for election as Nigeria’s president.
However, whether Atiku is not a Nigerian or Buhari is too illiterate to be elected Nigeria’s president is better left for the court to decide. In either case, if Atiku is indeed a Nigerian, he will not require 15 senior advocates to prove his case in court and if President Buhari too has the requisite education he should simply give the country a breather by proving his case beyond all reasonable doubts.
What is even more interesting, if not stupid, about the argument being advanced by the APC on Atiku’s nationality and eligibility is that by saying that anyone who was born before 1961 around that specific place in Adamawa cannot contest for Nigeria’s president also implies that the ballot cast by those people is also null and void on account of universality of franchise in the Nigerian law – a good enough ground to throw out the entire election.
It is so disingenuous how the APC in aiming at just one individual will ram an entire electoral demography under the bus. And, to think of it, between Atiku and Buhari the latter has raised his fingers in the air high enough for all to see that he probably has a soft spot for a neighbouring country of Niger Republic more than Atiku has shown any inclination towards Cameroon.
If, as vice-president, Atiku had championed the construction of a railway line from Maiduguri straight into the heart of the Cameroonian territory or political VIPs from Cameroon had graced Atiku’s campaign rallies, one only wonders how plausible the allegation by the APC would have been. There is absolutely nothing in public record to accentuate the argument that Atiku is in any way related to Cameroon, but President Buhari’s profile in the last four years of his presidency is a rich lode of evidence that the president has some sort of affiliation with Niger Republic that is too cold for comfort.
Again, it is an insult to the intelligence of Nigerians when INEC came up to announce that the card reader was only for the purpose of authentication of the ballot process (whatever that means) and that nothing was transmitted electronically to the backend server of the electoral body for the purpose of vote counting during the election.
The director of public communication of INEC, Festus Okoye was unequivocal about it when he said, few weeks before the presidential election and indeed after, that the non-use of card readers in the 2019 election may lead to the outright cancellation of the election.
It was a major news item on every of Nigeria’s newspapers and blogs on March 5, 2019 that the electoral commission denied a selective use of card readers and even stated clearly that the technology will be a major fulcrum upon which the credibility of the election would rest.
The question to ask then is why is it that INEC is changing its words over a commitment to technology it had made to all political parties and stakeholders in the election?
Why would the electoral commission commit a whooping sum N27 billion into constructing backend servers when it knew that it would not transmit any result thereto?
It is thus not difficult to read the handwriting on the wall that in-between the fallacious claim by APC that Atiku is not a Nigerian and the fraudulent decision by INEC to renounce its commitment to technology for credibility of the election is a deliberate attempt to hamstring the course of justice at the presidential election tribunal.
Balogun, a solicitor, writes from Lagos
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CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK
THANKS to the development of agricultural science for its discovery of miracle grains capable of increasing output four to six times the normal quantity, and to the extent and natural fertility of our national territory, Nigeria, unlike some other parts of the world, has nothing to fear from Malthus’s dire prediction which still haunts many policy scientists all over the world. In our peculiar circumstances, we can aim at a population target of well over 100
millions within the next twenty years, with a full assurance of catering comfortably and satisfactorily to their welfare. For, other things being equal, it is such a population that can assure us of a truly self-contained economy, and of voluntary inter-dependence in all things with other countries of the world.
Confident, therefore, of the realities of our present population and resources, and of our undoubted prospects for the immediate future, we can embark vigorously on a rapid agricultural and industrial development which is capable of being self-generating and self-sustaining.
We can, in the next two decades, aim at supplying most, if not all, of our basic material, and high-level manpower needs. Within the same time, our economy should be capable of sustaining modem urban areas, without the ills of city slums. We can develop a healthy and decent rural life, and provide modem health, housing, and educational facilities as well as other essential social services for all our people.
We should and can successfully aim at establishing heavy industries such as iron and steel, fertiliser, chemicals, petro-chemicals, and a wide range of capital goods. We should aim at constructing a vast and pervasive network of roads, railways, and waterways, sufficient to match the speed and mobility of a rapidly expanding and developing economy. In short, we can make the masses of our people contented and happy, and capable of realising their inherent power to appreciate knowledge and beauty, and to live in peace and harmony with themselves as well as with their neighbours.
We can do more than cater sufficiently for our people. By the sheer quantum and rich diversity of its natural and manpower resources, and granting a judicious and disciplined exploitation of these resources; Nigeria can make valuable contributions to the development of Africa, and to world economy at large for the benefit of mankind as a whole.
From 1975 onwards, it is forecast that our petroleum products will make a tremendous impact on our domestic as well as world economy. In that year, for instance, it is possible for our petroleum export to fulfil 25 per cent of total United Kingdom needs, thus assisting to maintain the strength of the Sterling as a reserve currency. It is also possible, by 1975, for our petroleum exports to different parts of the world to increase our foreign exchange earnings by nearly £300 million per annum to a total of between £500 and £600 million per annum.
With the opening of the Coal Mines at Okaba, the total known coal reserves of Nigeria are put at roughly 356 million tons. These can be exploited for the benefit of ourselves, of our immediate neighbours, and of the world at large. With the commissioning last weekend of the giant Kainji Hydro-electric Power Station, we are in a position not only to supply our total power needs, but also to help supply those of our immediate neighbours.
Though our agricultural economy is still far from being modernised, yet the improvement which has taken place in recent years, together with the change which has occurred in the structure of our trade coupled with the current rapid expansion in the spheres of our import substitution industries, we are fully poised to increase
the volume and variety of our exports of primary and semi-processed commodities, and to venture boldly into the exports of fully-manufactured goods.
In short, it is within our power, in a matter of twenty years, to raise the agricultural, industrial, and commercial competence of Nigeria to such a level as to enable it to contribute generously to world prosperity, and to the solution of the problems of international hunger and liquidity.
All these are by no means idle dreams. These broad national objectives and aspirations are goals which are well within our power to attain within the next two decades.
BUT IN ORDER TO SUCCEED IN ATTAINING THESE ENDS, WE NEED A POWERFUL NATIONAL MOTIVATION GENERATED BY ENLIGHTENED PATRIOTISM AND SUSTAINED BY AN INTENSE, ABSORBING, AND UNFLAGGING DESIRE TO ADVANCE OUR OWN ECONOMIC INTERESTS, BACKED BY CLEAR-HEADED FORWARD PLANNING, HARD WORK, AND THE CONSTANT APPLICATION OF ACUTE AND DISCIPLINED
MINDS DEDICATED TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF OUR ‘DECLARED OBJECTIVES.
CONTINUES NEXT WEEK
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How do you react to the statement credited to Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, about fears over 2023 general election in the country?
Nigeria is a secular state. By this, I mean that religion has little or no role to play in the politics of Nigeria, except that our political class is one without direction, ideology and focus, and, thus, has failed to organise Nigeria and give leadership direction to the people. This loss of focus has caused religion and religious leaders to begin to play significant roles in the governance of Nigeria. If the politicians have gotten their acts together and have done what they are supposed to do, we shall have no business with ecclesiastical or religious leaders as far as political governance is concerned, let alone dictating the tune. But because the politicians have failed, almost every sector of the society, including religion, has gotten crucial roles to play in the society.
Our laws are, not effective and so, not workable. Citizens do not respect the laws and political institutions are weak, corrupt and do not deliver on their mandates. Personally, I do not think that the Sultan has raised any new or serious issue that has not been raised before by the ethnic nationality leaders or elders of Nigeria, similar religious leaders, civil society activists, labour leaders, women groups or the youth and students, among others. He just re-echoed what had been on ground, namely the issues of insecurity, bad governance, peace and the likes.
So, I share in the call for all of these, but we must go beyond the call to focus on more fundamental and serious issues that gave birth to these crises so that we can be able to holistically deal with or address the germane matters for a better, just, equitable and prosperous Nigeria.
What are the critical issues that must be addressed?
Over 80 per cent of ethnic nationalities (owners of the Nigerian federation) have agreed that there are wrongs and these must be judiciously addressed and they have to do with fundamental restructuring so that Nigeria will be a free, just, responsible, truly federal and a prosperous society. This restructuring will unmask Nigeria’s deceit of running a monarchical, unitary system under the canopy of federalism or a federal arrangement and would return us to the prosperous era of thorough federalism as captured by the 1963 Republic Constitution.
Local government must go and each federating unit shall create as many local governments or provinces as they like. The federating units shall absolutely control their resources and pay taxes or royalties to the Federal Government, which will deal with few issues, namely armed forces, foreign affairs, Supreme Court, sports, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and currency, etc.
There shall be state and community policing and the federating units shall be allowed to develop at their individual capacity and pace.
This arrangement will kill the feudal conspiracies and arrogance that have kept Nigeria from geometric growth and development and reposition us in the county of global nations. This is the positive way forward and the road to go so that analogue ideas and ancient elements can no longer rule a modern 21st century state.
What do you think should be the way forward?
I was at the 2014 National Conference hosted by former President Goodluck Jonathan. At that conference, the majority of the 494 delegates drawn from the majority of the ethnic nations, professional associations, labour, civil society movements, students and youth associations, religious groups, military, police and paramilitary organisations, strategic institutions and women groups, among others, who sat for four and a half months, critically looked at the sick country called Nigeria and brilliantly recommended the solutions to the sickness.
Unfortunately, rather than pursue the pious implementation of the recommendations, both Jonathan and our political class began the wild goose chase. This is what has compounded the ugly situation and kept us where we are today. The only solution to Nigeria’s challenges is the thorough, fundamental and strategic restructuring of Nigeria. Any other recommendation is deceptive, shaky and fallible and so, cannot survive and stand the test of time. Presidency has no relevance as to the type of restructuring that we are talking about and after this restructuring, any one ethnic group or family can continue to produce the president of Nigeria.
Some of us may not be interested because the fundamental things that touch on the lives of the people and nations making up Nigeria have been duly sorted out.
There has been long agitation for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Is Igbo presidency feasible in 2023?
The unwritten understanding between the conservative class in the North and South in 1999 is that each divide would produce the president of Nigeria for two terms of eight years and get it rotated to the other region. There are three zones in each divide of North and South. The South-West has served out its eight-year term. The North-West is about serving for six year plus term, while the South- South has served for six years plus. The distortion in the execution of this understanding was caused by the death of Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua in 2009. He died mid way into his first tenure. Nobody can be blamed for this divine matters because it beyond all of us.
It is, therefore, expected that after the expiration of tenure of the North in 2023, it would be the turn of the South. Since the South-South and South-West had had their shots at the Presidency, justice and equity demand that it would go to the South-East in 2023.
However, some of us who have seen the gross inequity, injustice and repression in Nigeria caused by iniquitous lopsidedness in the distribution of offices, amenities and tapping of natural resources in the land and have been demanding for fundamental, thorough and strategic restructuring of Nigeria are no longer interested in producing the president of Nigeria. We demand that Nigeria be restructured in the fashion explained above in order to allow the peoples and nationalities of Nigeria equal rights, privileges and opportunities. What does the Igbo man who understands this dynamics of the fraudulent operation of Nigeria want Nigerian Presidency for? Of the six zones in Nigeria, the South-East has the least number of states; five. Of 774 local governments, Ndigbo have 95, while Kano alone has 44 and Jigawa has 27.
We have the least number of federal amenities in the zone and our people are hugely marginalized in the running of the country. Our natural resources are not tapped or exploited, so as to allow us access to the gains of these God-given resources. The infrastructural facilities in Igbo land are monumentally inadequate, with the existing ones decaying and our people are exposed to Paleolithic or stone-age life in the 21st century.
This is unacceptable. Ndigbo demand that Nigeria be thoroughly, fundamentally and strategically restructured, so that freedom, justice and fairness are accorded to all of us. We don’t want an Igbo Presidency that would be run from palaces in Sokoto and Kano and in the homes of retired Generals who never won a war.
As I said earlier, Ndigbo cannot be slaves of a federal society run like a monarchical and feudal state. Therefore, rather than demanding for an Igbo Presidency, I opt for, and urge Ndigbo and, indeed, all oppressed nationalities in Nigeria to unite and demand for the true restructuring of Nigeria before another corrupt and manipulated general election in Nigeria.
Following the just concluded general election in the country, what are your expectations from President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure?
As a human rights activist, I expect that President Buhari may have learnt his lessons in the past that he performed abysmally poor in almost all directions and learn to correct the ills or failures of the past. His appointment of ministers was delayed. He said he wanted to do a thorough check and give Nigeria the best. Few weeks to the end of his first four years in office, we are still expecting the coming of the Christ like the Jews.
Two, insecurity has matured from the operations of Boko Haram in the North-East to all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria with lives and property lavished and places of worship wickedly destroyed. Similarly, women are rabidly raped in their homes, farms and even on the roads. Cases of underage girls who are cruelly abducted, kept in emirs’ palaces as sex slaves and willfully married and converted to Islam against their and parents’ wishes are manifest in this first tenure. Instances of extra judicial killing by state actors and mass hunger, mass unemployment and mass poverty and, indeed, hopelessness have become the order of the day.
Lopsided appointments that totally abuse the constitution and the federal character law are clear and prevalent. Our currency has become completely hopeless in the global arena and Nigerians have become slaves in their own country and ignobly disrespected in foreign lands.
Above all, corruption in various ways has become the character of this regime, despite award of open pass mark to self and campaigns that tend to portray the government as an open and transparent system.
The rule of law and human rights are eroded and unity, peace and love have eluded Nigeria. We have become divided more than ever and the falcon no longer hears the falconer in Nigeria.
We can go on and on. Therefore, my expectations from President Buhari’s second term is for him to appoint credible, open, just and Godly entities who will work with him to right these wrongs and place Nigeria in her pride of place in the comity of global nations. Those denied justice, especially the South-East which is marginalised, the underage girls in monarchical custodies and the youth who are denied the goodies of life via joblessness and induced poverty should be justly treated. The rule of law and human rights must be respected and happiness, love and unity must return to the people.
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YAM porridge can also be referred to as yam soup. It is mainly yam cooked with ingredients and the resulting dish contain some soupy liquid . It is not cooked with vegetables but it is always nice to add a little to give some green colour to the meal.
Red palm oil
Smoked fish (Mackerel)
Fresh green vegetable (e.g pumpkin, parsley, scent leaf (or green amaranth)
How it is made
Peel, and cut the yam into medium sizes. Wash the yam and place in a pot. Wash and cut onions into tiny pieces. Grind, or blend the chili pepper. If you are using dry fish, soak it and then remove the bones. Set these aside.
Pour enough water to cover the yam pieces and start cooking at medium to high heat. If you are using dry fish, add it to the boiling yam. When the yam is boiling, add the onions, grinded crayfish, pepper, stock cubes, palm oil and the smoked fish.
Cook the yam until it’s done
Add salt and stir well.
Cook at high heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the green vegetable, stir and leave to stand for about 5 minutes then serve.
Yam porridge can also be served with fried plantain.
YAM has a high percentage of carbohydrate which makes it a good source of energy. The presence of fiber in yam aids in digestion and also prevents constipation. It also suppresses the side effect of weight gain and diabetes.
The vitamins in yam give it an edge over other foods that do not have it. Though some of the vitamins are of little quantity, they are beneficial to health. The presence of Vitamin C provides the body with the necessary things needed to fight against some disease. Vitamin C also helps to softten the skin and improves hair texture due to the collagen it contains.
Vitamin B complex, which is also in yam, provides the body with necessary nutrients for bodybuilding and also makes us healthy. Vitamin A is good for bright eyes and improves vision. It also helps to improve the function of the brain and reduce inflammation.
Yam will provides the body with iron, which aid blood formation, and prevents clotting, potassium, which maintain normal blood pressure and other various minerals that are good for the body.
Yam is essentially good for pregnant women as it contains many nutritional elements that are good for babies and the mother as well. It contains foliate which is necessary for brain and the central nervous system. It also contains iron)that relieves pregnant women from early morning sickness such as nausea and vomiting, as well as keeping the bones strong, which is important for fetus development. Frequent consumption of yam during pregnancy also helps to prevent birth defect, which is caused by lack of red blood cells. The calcium content is essentially good for pregnant women as it helps to develop the fetus.
Yam contains the highest amount of potassium nutrient alongside with folate among other foods, which helps to lower hypertension and modify the blood vessel for proper blood flows so therefore it is advice that daily consumption of yam is good to the body as it controls the heart rate.
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On September 26, 2017, Ibrahim Garba Wala (IG Wala), the irrepressible social media activist sentenced to 12 years imprisonment last week, visited my office in Abuja for the first time. Earlier on that very day, he had posted on his Facebook page that the chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Abdullahi Mukhtar corruptly enriched himself with N3billion during the conduct of 2017 Hajj.
Wrote he on his Facebook timeline: “Official documents made available to CATBAN reveal that the Chairman of NAHCON after the 2017 Hajj operations makes not less than N3 billion for himself.
“In the interim, CATBAN tends to question how NAHCON expended the the total sum of N97,906,500,000 (almost Hundred Billion) accrued from the payment of N1.5million by each individual that made up the 65,271 being the total number of Nigerian Muslim Pilgrims for 2017.
“Looking into the document, airlines and hotels agents were involved in making of figures which consist of kickbacks to officials.”
IG Wala did not stop there. He demanded – with regimental finality – on behalf of CATBAN (which court found out that it was not a registered organisation) for a detailed report on the 2017 hajj operation.
“These figures are too exorbitant,” IG Wala continued, “In line with the objectives of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration on the fight against corruption, CATBAN demands a report detailing how the 2017 Hajj Operation was conducted to be published immediately.”
IG Wala is an outspoken rabble-rouser whose troubles could be measured in a Richter scale. He has surfeit of energy to dissipate fighting all manner of causes – good, bad and ugly – and ample time to spend haggling on crass trivialities. He is as daring and tenacious as honey badger.
Wala’s dangerous incursions into enemy territories foretells the latest vicissitude that befalls him. At the peak of his fanaticism on Buhari administration, IG Wala once accosted Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and attempted to beat him up for issuing a statement dissociating the presidency from #iStandWithBuhari after alleged financial scandal that rocked the group. It took efforts of hangers-on to tame the energetic young man. Sometimes I wonder what he wants to achieve in many of his nebulous activism escapades.
I hate to speak on many issues regarding IG Wala’s travails and final conviction in public but there is need say a bit for readers to be put on the vantage point. As I said earlier, IG Wala was incidentally in my office the very day he made the first allegations one and half year ago. The NAHCON chairman was then in Saudi Arabia overseeing the 2017 hajj operation. I used the opportunity to call Mukhtar and make efforts to link up Wala with him to state his own side of the story.
Mukhtar was so angry with what Wala posted such that he blatantly refused to speak with him and threatened to go to court. Mukhtar initially stood his ground that he would seek legal redress but upon my earnest appeal, he agreed not to pursue the case on the condition that IG Wala would retract his comment and apologise.
But the trouble started after we ended the call and I returned to IG Wala. I requested Wala to retract the unsubstantiated post but he refused. At that night, IG Wala left my office fuming and threatening to make more revelations. I was helpless.
True to his promise, IG went berserk the following day, making even more damning allegations. I mustered courage to call IG Wala the following day to persuade him to leave the matter because as a journalist I know the perils of publishing unsubstantiated materials. True to his character, my friend IG Wala “warned” me not to call him again on that issue. I did not.
When I told Mukhtar that IG Wala would not retract, he said, “no problem, I have no option but to seek redress in court.”
Few months afterward, Mukhtar called to tell me that he was privileged to be selected among foreign dignitaries who will be allowed to enter Ka’aba and pray – a rare privilege exclusive to a few Muslim leaders.
“I was privileged to not only be allowed entry into Ka’aba but also allowed to pray in the choicest corner of Rukn al-Yaman. Top in my to-do prayer list that day was IG Wala. I supplicated and beseeched Almighty Allah for justice to be served in the case,” he said.
One month after Wala’s initial post, Abdullahi Mukhtar, himself a lawyer, filed a civil case against him on October 26, 2017, demanding N1billion damages. That was after Wala snubbed a letter formally written by Mukhtar’s lawyer, Professor Yusuf Dankofa, seeking retraction. To borrow an episode from Game of Thrones, Wala was “Unbowed, Unbent and Unbroken” as reeled out more “documents”.
But standing before Justice Valentine Achi in the civil suit, the judge made a momentous statement about the case. Justice Achi asked IG Wala whether he understood the veracity of the case, to which he (Wala) responded in the affirmative. The judge then told IG Wala in the open court that, “if I were you I will seek out of court settlement on this matter.”
Apparently IG Wala did not take Justice Achi’s dope, perhaps because he had prepared for the test. In his usual style, Wala snubbed all reconciliatory moves. All efforts to persuade Wala to “tone down” appeared like a spur to charge with roaring ferocity. Those who follow IG Wala knew how, at a point, he made it a daily routine, like a religious obligation, to spew invectives on the person of the NAHCON chairman in order to lower his estimation in the eyes of the public.
Since Wala was uncompromising even when the matter was in court, Mukhtar took another approach by filing a criminal complaint to the police. It took about a month for Wala to honour the police invitation. He was first detained for about three weeks before arraignment and later sent to prison for remand pending the determination of his bail conditions.
When it finally dawned on Wala that he had no case, he sought out of court settlement. In a surprise twist, most of the notable individuals who Wala sent to broker the peace accord encouraged Mukhtar to pursue the case after hearing his own side of the story.
Now let’s fast-forward the dramatic trial to the judgment day. About 30 minutes before the judgment on Monday April 15, Wala joined me in the elevator to the underground parking lot of the court building to see off a lawyer friend. “Jaafar, I know the efforts you did before,” Wala said in a tone actuated with emotion, “kindly help reach out to Abdullahi Mukhtar now. I will abide by all the conditions he set.”
I knew it was too late at that time as Mukhtar was not in the courtroom to witness the judgment. I wish I had enough time to try again. I wish I could save the family of this energetic breadwinner from the sorrow of his absence “Ok I will try,” I responded reluctantly in order to comfort him.
Wala’s act of making a Facebook live of himself in the courtroom, criticizing the judgment shortly after Justice Yusuf Halilu took a little break to decide on his lawyer’s plea of allocutus worsened the situation. The angry judge, who previously reprimanded IG Wala on two occasions for Facebooking in the dock and later denied him the privilege of sitting down, then served him the maximum sentence of 12 years.
I know as a fact that the judge on five occasions postponed the judgment in order to give Wala chance of out of court settlement, or providing witness or documents to back his claims.
As Wala practically walked himself into the gaol, throwing tantrum at the judge or any other party involved is not the answer. What Wala needs now are prayers and good lawyers to make case for quashing the judgment or commuting the sentence.
THERE is certainly a prevalent gnawing season of death in the country, with all the tragic effects staring all Nigerians in the face. In virtually all parts of the country, various armed gangs have seized the nation by the jugular, killing, maiming and setting homes ablaze, thus ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
None of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja is spared from the activities of the different armed groups that have, in the last few weeks, precipitated carnage and arson across the country. If it is not a case of insurgents killing and committing arson in the North-East in one moment, it is either incidents of bandits killing people and setting homes and other properties ablaze in Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue and Nasarawa, Ebonyi and Kogi states especially. The act of carnage and arson also appears unabated in Sokoto, where bandits have turned communities into graveyards. The entire scenario depicts that death has become cheap, as gangs lay siege to several quarters of the country. The killings do not preclude the rising cases of extra-judicial killings by state security operatives.
No fewer than 4,000 persons were killed in various violent attacks carried out by either bandits, insurgents and other armed criminals across the country. While no state has been spared the orgy of violence and death, the most hard hit, however, are states like Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Yobe and Rivers. Between March and the first week of April this year alone, these states have lost hundreds of lives to one form of violence or another in the gory season of deaths.
Despite being an erstwhile most peaceful area in the country, Zamfara State has now become one of the most reported states in the media for cattle rustling, killings, kidnapping and other forms of criminality across the 14 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
For some time now, major parts of the state have become hunting ground for the bandits, who massacre innocent citizens on a daily basis. It was gathered that no fewer than 3,000 innocent people were killed at different locations and properties destroyed. The governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, disclosed this much when he paid a visit to Kawaye, one of the affected communities.
Governor Yari at another event had given a breakdown of the carnage taking place in his state. According to him, while over 3,000 persons had been killed so far, no fewer than 500 villages were also affected and 8,219 persons injured. Over 13,000 hectares of farmlands, he declared, had been destroyed, and could no longer be utilised by farmers.
Indeed, Sunday Tribune findings revealed that most residents of communities and villages in Shinkafi, Anka, Tsafe, Gusau, Maradun and Maru LGAs have fled their ancestral homes and moved to urban areas for safety.
In early February, reports had it that the bandits sacked several villages in Tsafe LGA, where over 2,000 people, mainly women and their children, were forced to leave their homes and take refuge in two local government councils: Kankara and Faskari of the neighbouring Katsina State.
In another raid on the 4th of February, 13 people, including the elder sister of Senator Kabir Garba Marafa, the honourable representing Zamfara Central Senatorial District, Hajiya Ade Marafa, were killed by heavily armed bandits at Ruwan Bore village of Gusau LGA of the state.
A resident in the village, Mallam Sani Ahmed, in an interview, narrated how the bandits attacked the communities around 9:00 p.m., set houses ablaze, killed some of their victims just as they kidnapped others like the husband of the slain sister of Senator Marafa, Alhaji Ibrahim, who they believed could fetch them sizable ransom.
Again, on the February 28, 2019, a suspected gang invaded Kwaren Shinkafi village and killed 30 persons. But a resident of the area, identified as Alhaji Bala Abubakar Shinkafi, claimed in an interview that the casualty figure was higher than 30. According to him, the villagers discovered additional 33 bodies dumped by the bandits in the forest two days after the attack, therefore increasing the number of those killed in the community to 63.
Kawaye village in Anka LGA of the state was also not spared, as another gang of bandits invaded the place early April, killing 13 people and abducting the district head, his wife and 58 others.
During the assessment tour by the governor of the state, the Emir of Anka and chairman Zamfara State Council of Chiefs expressed his frustrations and the plight of people of his communities to reporters, while calling on the government to re-deploy more troops with adequate modern firearms that would fight the menace to conclusion.
Given that cult-related activities have become a common sight in Rivers, except in recent times when its kingpin, Don Wanney, and others like him, were eliminated, Lagos State has also followed suit in becoming notorious for the same vice, which has claimed several lives. While residents of some parts of Lagos State have lately become used to gory pictures of killings by cult members, hoodlums and armed robbers, several incidents have been reported across several LGAs in Rivers State with scores of victims losing their lives and socio-economic activities of affected communities extensively disrupted.
Ikorodu, Somolu, Lagos Island, Ajah, Okokomaiko, Ijora Badia and Mushin have become hotbeds for criminals in the state.
Just some days ago, two people, including a dispatch rider were killed as rival groups of hoodlums clashed in the Fadeyi area. A resident, Tobi Kuti, was also killed by the rampaging hoodlums, who also reportedly cut his head off. It was gathered that the latest violence at Fadeyi was a follow up to the series of attacks and counter attacks by factions of hoodlums in the area.
A resident of Siro area, Dixon, blamed the police and the politicians in the area for the unending clashes between the two groups. He said: “One group is on Somolu side, while the other group is on Mushin side. They have killed more than eight people in the last six months.
“They are cult members and they also work as errand boys to politicians in Somolu. Some of them are also transport union members. They take advantage of every slightest opportunity to attack each other. The group on the Mushin side has the protection of the police. A police patrol van was stationed in the area and whenever the patrol van was taken away, they would take the advantage to attack their rival on the other side of the road,” the resident explained.
In Okokomaiko and its neighbouring communities, some weeks back, three people were gruesomely murdered in a clash between Eiye and Aiye confraternities. But the police swiftly moved into action and a notorious cultist, who has been described as a serial killer, Ibrahim Abdullahi, and a member of his gang were arrested.
Not limited to Mushin or Fadeyi, Ikorodu is another hot spot where cult killings are rampant. Residents of Grammar School area of Ikorodu, for instance, will not forget in a hurry how suspected cult members killed Alowonle Asekun, a resident of the area who was reportedly tracked to the area from Somolu. Asekun was reportedly lured by his assailants who lied to him that they were interested in a puppet that he advertised for sale online. He was subsequently murdered.
Though there has been a lull in cult-related deaths in recent days, this, going by past events could just be an uneasy calm over a gathering storm.
Other states that are also gaining notoriety for cult-related killings and political -induced violence are Delta and Rivers. In Rivers State, for instance, from Obio/Akoor, Emohua, Eleme, Andoni to Ogoni LGAs, the state was painted in a darker shade of red. From Tuesday, April 2, which was described as a horrible day by many, after 12 people, including a paramount ruler of Beere community and the Grassroots Democratic Initiatives (GDI) coordinator in Khana LGA were killed in suspected cult attacks that spread across three different communities, the Rivers has continued to flow wildly causing tears to the families of those slain by the warring cult groups.
President of the Ogoni Peace Project, Barinua Maxwell Wikoli, said that the affected communities in Ogoniland have been deserted.
Mgbuodohia community, Rumuolumeni clan, and Obio/Akpor LGA of Rivers State have also not been spared the cudgels of the rampaging criminals. The suspected cultists reportedly invaded Obio\Akpor, killing about eight persons. Members of the cult group, it was said, were moving from house to house in search of rival cultists in the area during which they killed eight of their targets.
The effect has been colossal for business in the state. A resident who deals in building materials in the area told our correspondence under anonymity for fear of being attacked that the situation has forced many people to pack out from the community.
“Already people are packing from here,” he said, adding that, “if I have money now, I’ll move because it was this nonsense that made me to relocate to this place from Omoku. Now, I am finding life difficult because of low patronage.”
He added: “I can’t pay shop rent anymore because of low sales. As I am here, immediately it’s 6 p.m., I will close my shop and go home. So it is too bad,” he stated.
While these incidents have led to the declaration of dusk to dawn curfew in some parts of Rivers State, one common cause residents in Lagos and Rivers have claimed for clashes and counter clashes of cult groups is the support and fortifications these miscreants enjoy from politicians in the states involved.
Death from Communal clashes
Unlike in other states, which have been infested by criminals, the situation in Ebonyi is different. The people of the state have been embroiled in boundary dispute with their neighbours, leading to clashes. Whereas no specific number of death has been given, Sunday Tribune checks revealed that the matter has been reported to the National Boundary Commission (NBC).
Speaking on the development, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, Commissioner for Border, Peace and Internal Security, berated the National Boundary Commission (NBC) for its inability to permanently resolve the bound disputes, including others in several parts of the state.
“We sometimes doubt the sincerity of the Federal Government in settling such crisis and view the NBC as a toothless bulldog. It is not our duty to demarcate the boundaries and the state government has attended all meetings convened by the NBC, being always disposed to peace,” Ugbala stated.
However, in Nasarawa State, the age long communal clash over land boundaries between Egbura and Bassa communities in Toto LGA has taken a new turn. The recurring conflict has claimed thousands of lives with many houses and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.
The clashes between the two communities emanated over who controls the affairs of people in the area. The Egbura people reportedly populate the corridor of power and have a traditional ruler who oversees people’s affairs, while the Bassa allegedly always see themselves being marginalised and discriminated against.
Information available to Sunday Tribune showed that several peace and reconciliation meetings organised by government and spirited individuals and organisations have failed to bring lasting peace between the two warring communities, with the consequence that thousands of internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are currently living in unfavourable conditions.
Farmers haven’t had it good either with herdsmen. Across the states, these gun-wielding herders have left their bloody trails. From Abia, Katsina to Ekiti and Zamfara, the killer herdsmen have killed and maimed farmers and destroyed farmlands. Sometimes, as in the case of Benue, these herdsmen would burn down villages.
Even Sokoto State that has enjoyed a relative peace in the north has not been spared. The state has had to share in the orgy of violence for sharing border with Zamfara State, where the rampant activities of suspected cattle rustlers and armed bandits have been most virulent.
Rabbah LGA which the state shares with Zamfara has witnessed a majority of the attacks on some villages and towns in the state, leading to the death of some of the residents of the affected communities. Sometime last year, the bandits had invaded Gandi village, taking no fewer than 39 lives.
In another attack, suspected armed bandits also invaded two other villages in Rabbah LGA of the state, killing no fewer than 25 people. The attacks came just 48 hours after a report claimed that no fewer than 30 people were killed in a similar attack within Rabbah town. In spite of the efforts of the state governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, and security officials, the attacks, it is said, are still taking place.
Murdering people for ritual
Ritual killing involving people looking for quick, dubious wealth is another red blot that is gaining currency all over the country. One of such killings occurred in Ondo State, where the daughter of a former deputy governor of the State, Alhaji Lasisi Oluboyo, Miss Khadijat Oluboyo, was murdered by his boyfriend, Sehidu, who has since been sentenced to death by hanging by Justice Ademola Bola.
Similarly, Chukwudi Onwediwe was sentenced to death for killing his girlfriend for rituals. He was said to have lured his girlfriend, Oluwanifemi, an HND II students of Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, into a bush in Ogbese town, raping her before strangulating her to death.
Such reports of killing for ritual is not limited to Ondo. The stories of how Internet fraudsters also known as “Yahoo boys” go for used female panties to get money are still very rampant. Earlier in March, the entire school community of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) was in shock following the death of her 300 level student of Linguistics, Miss Pauline, whose body was dropped dead by an unknown car on the roadside leading to the Anambra state commissioners’ quarters, with her eyes and underwear missing.
Death from auto accidents, inferno, robberies
There is no day that the nation is not plagued by the report of one fatal auto crash or another. Added to this are fire incidents and deaths from collapsed buildings. In Anambra State, for instance, in Ibughubu market, Umuchu, in Aguata LGA, six persons were crush to death sometime in January, when a truck loaded with cement and a 911 lorry veered off the road and crashed into the community market.
Also in March in Onitsha, several persons were crushed to death while scores were severely injured in an accident involving a trailer laden with kerosene. Sunday Tribune gathered that the trailer was heading towards Upper Iweka from Awka axis when the driver lost control as a result of brake failure.
Delta State has had its fair share too, as deaths through fire disaster is common in the state. Given that most houses in Warri and major towns suburbs in the state are recklessly built with no strict regulations from relevant authorities in the state, when fire ensues, it spreads effortlessly to adjoining houses and shanties, making it difficult for fire fighters to put it out.
This was a recent case at popular MCiver Market in Warri on March 5, 2019, where four siblings, were burnt to death in a fire said to have been orchestrated by adulterated kerosene which the mother traded on. To guard against some thieving neighbours, their mother had put food on a stove, with a keg of kerosene not far from the stove, locked up her children in their improvised small shanty sand-witched in between two houses and was taking her evening shower outside when the cry of “fire” rent the air. She jumped out of the bathroom screaming. It was the following morning, while lying critically in the hospital bed, that she got to know that her children had died in the fire.
As a result of the growing poverty in the country, robberies, especially of banks, have also increased. The most recent was the tragic April Fools’ Day robbery in a bank in Ido-Ani, Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State. In that incident, seven persons were killed, including a police inspector, bank officials, a vice principal of a school and four others while several others were injured.
The armed robbers, after blowing off the security door leading to the bank with dynamites to gain entrance into the bank, operated unhindered for over an hour, shot at people and were said to have made away with unspecified amount of money. They also visited the palace of the monarch of the town but had to retreat because of the security put in place by the palace.
It took the intervention of the men of the 323 Artillery division of the Nigerian Army to curb the activities of the marauders, signalling how cheap life has become with near-zero protection of lives and properties of Nigerians in their country.
How would you describe life as God’s servant?
I have enjoyed an abundant grace of God. At present, I am writing my autobiography, which I have entitled: My Life; His Amazing Grace. It detailed the abundant grace of God upon my life, which I have enjoyed from birth till now and I also believe that it will continue, because we are what we are by the special grace of God. I am doing this because I am retiring soon. God has been kind to me and endowed me with good health. This is why it appears that I don’t look like someone close to 70, but indeed, by November 20, I shall be 70 and then retire from the ministry of the church.
You must have spent most part of your life in the vineyard, how has it been?
It has been wonderful. I came into the ministry in 1967. I started from the lowest leader as a church teacher and gently, God has brought me this far in the last 52 years. I started at Egbado now Yewa with the late Archdeacon Falase, who accepted me into the ministry. I later went for a catechist training in Akure now, the Archbishop Vining College of Theology and after a three-year training, I was posted back to Yewa Diocese. I also went to Emmanuel College of Theology and later served in Ibadan Diocese at the Cathedral of St James the Great, Oke-Bola, Ibadan. I was ordained a deacon in 1975; made a priest in 1976 and gained admission in the University of Ibadan for another three years’ course in BA Religious Studies. I later went for the National Youth Service in Kwara. After all that, I returned to Egba Diocese and served in several capacities and finally, I was posted to Cathedral of St Peters, Abeokuta for 11 year before I was elected and consecrated bishop of Osun Diocese. I was enthroned on Agusut 1, 2000. So, I have been in Osun in the last 19 years.
What will you miss most when you eventually retire?
I am anxious to retire. The ministry is tough. People see us only on Sundays, but it is a 24-hour task. You are there all the time and you could be contacted by your member any moment and you cannot give excuses. So, it is a very busy schedule. I know I will miss the fellowship of friends within the episcopates with whom we meet regularly to discuss the progress of the work of God. I will also miss my clergy; I have been there for them for almost 13 years. I will miss the fellowship of the laity too that have been very supportive. To run a diocese for 19 years without any crisis is a special grace of God and I have enjoyed the support of the clergy and the laity. I will surely miss them when I leave. Mind you, it is not as if I am tired from the work of God. There is a mandatory age for retirement and it is 70, so if you are close to it, you are anxious to be there. The work is time-consuming and one hardly has time for one’s family, so one is anxious to be free with one’s family and devote time to other things.
The mandatory age has caused leadership problem in different denominations. What is your take on this?
I can only speak for the Anglican Communion. For us in this ministry, it is mandatory we retire at 70. Of course, we can go for voluntary retirement at 65, but if you don’t go on voluntary retirement at 65, when you are 70 you are bound to go. It is stated in the constitution of the church. This enables one to have some time to be on your own. It also reminds one that one is not getting younger and one may not be as effective as one used to be. There is the need for people at 70 to step aside for the younger people to come in, as well as explore their fresh energy in the ministry. It is not good for the church if the old people stay-put. So, it is a good decision that the church has put the retirement age at 70 for new hands to take over.
As one of the authorities of the church, are you contended with the state of Christianity today?
I am sure that one should look at himself and be careful in judging one another. Maybe generally, one can say that it was better in those years and that it is not as it used to be now. By and large, I am sure that a lot of us who serve in the church are still maintaining our integrity. Some might have lost their own, but there are many that still maintain their integrity and still serve with the fear of the Lord and they know that they are accountable to God. But in any profession there are always bad eggs and the church is not an exception. Above all, we will all be accountable to God and everybody will be judge according to what he has done.
What is your take on the claims that some Christians that are holding political offices are not representing Christians well by their actions and inaction?
It is true, but then, we still need more genuine Christians in politics. In fact, we advocate that more should go into politics and with the warning that they must remain righteous and serve as the light, because that is what Christ calls his followers. For those that are not representing us well, we will always admonish them to represent the body of Christ well.
What should be the expectation of Nigerians at large now after the 2019 general election?
I believe that God is in control, because things are not what it should be. We have just gone through elections and it is unfortunate that the process was marred with violence. I think there is the need for the education of the electorate for more exposure. I also think the government needs to put more fund into education, because once you are educated you are librated. Now that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government has the grace of the second coming, they must lead effectively. They need to tackle the problem of security; the federal parliament should also do their work with the fear of God, recognising that it is a special grace they have had to have won election. The eighth assembly should be ready to perform better than their predecessors.
As the leader of a notable church in Osun State, how did you feel about the twists and turns in the governorship poll in the state?
I want to commend the politicians in the state for their maturity that they were able to go through the election and rerun without violence. It was a miracle. I also commend them for deciding to go to the election tribunal. Things would have been terrible, especially in the state if they had decided to end the whole thing in violence. Even as things are now, we pray that truth will eventually prevail. We are looking up to the judiciary for the verdict. I want to urge both parties to accept the outcome of the judiciary and come together to work for the progress of the state.
What are your plans to make this year’s synod affect lives positively?
We are currently planning for a remarkable event this year. This year’s synod will hold on April 25 to 28 and the theme the synod is Now, thank we all our God. It is will be a programme that will focus on intensive teaching on thanksgiving. Personally, I will also be thanking God that I am rounding off. This will be the last synod that I will be presiding over as the bishop of the diocese of Osun. We are expecting notable clerics to ministers at the event and we are confident that it will be impactful.
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INDICES that Nigeria is undergoing a trying moment are many. The preponderance of opinions by concerned elder statesmen attest to the current predicament of the most populous black nation. Even President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government officials have lamented the challenges facing the federation.
Precisely, on April 12, 2019, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, threw a challenge to all stakeholders in the Nigerian federation. He was apprehensive about the future of the country because of what the revered traditional ruler perceived as the incalculable damage politics and religion had inflicted on the unity of the country. He was concerned that Nigerians, especially during the buildup to the recent general election in the country brazenly mixed politics and religious to further create crevices on the body politics of the country. While not sparing any section of the society for the attendant frightening situation, the Sultan lampooned Muslim and Christian clerics of turning worship centres real political platforms to preach divisive sermons set the various nationalities apart. “We have much more challenges now that we cannot in any way deny it. You have heard and seen that the challenges are real. You can see the insecurity in the North West,” he asserted. Accordingly, he warned, “If Nigeria has these troubles in 2019, then, I have my fears over 2023. The signs are already on ground. So let’s begin to plan on how to ensure peace and peaceful coexistence before, during and after the general election. Let’s work towards peace and having a society where everybody is free to coexist in peace. Let start working on our challenges from now by trying to collectively decide to do what is right.”
Undoubtedly, peace is a sine quo non for stability. However, in the opinion of many other stakeholders in the Nigerian project, the precursor to peace comprises justice, equity and fairness. Their position is that an unjust remains the main source of friction and conflict, which have almost suffocated the Nigerian federation. The recipe for peace, according to a great number of Nigerians, especially in the advocacy for restructuring, is for the country’s leadership to facilitate the process of addressing the defects in the existing federal structure. While some leaders claim the unjust system predated Nigeria’s attainment of independence from Britain in 1960, others believe the quasi-unitary system was as result of egoistic leadership that fancied and nurtured self-adulation.
A major contending issue in the country’s federalism is on revenue generation and allocation. The centre sits over the resources of the country with the states, where the resources are deposited and harnessed as mere appendages and beggars. States are treated as inferior partners rather than equal partners in what should be a federal arrangement. This unholy relationship has constituted a major bone of contention and potent weapon for frightening discontent and upheavals.
Disequilibrium in the number of local government structure across the country is another outstanding issue. Though the centre and states should be the statutory federating units, the existence of local government areas as the third strand in the Nigerian federal structure is seen as an aberration by advocates of federalism. Local councils, which ought to owe their existence as administrative centres on the state, get monthly allocation from the Federation Account. Many legal authorities, especially on constitutional matters said the recognition of local government as the third tier is not ideal and that it was wrong that local governments were given powers and functions directly in the 1999 Constitution, unlike in the advanced federations like the US where local governments were only mentioned in State Constitutions. According to experts, local governments in a federation are creations of the State and therefore ought not to enjoy powers in the same measures that the constitution grants to the federating units. The distribution of revenue is based on the number of local government areas per state, with most of the existing 774 local council skewed in favour of the Northern axis of the country.
The unjust system that has consistently imperiled the peace of the country is gross abuse of some constitutional mechanism like the federal character principle, which are meant to promote a sense of belonging and integration. But, what was designed as a catalyst for a healthy completion and equal opportunity has been turned into a tool to marginalize and institutionalise mediocrity. For example, the application of the principle had consistently been in the breach in federal appointments, school enrolment in federal schools and postings in federal agencies and parastatals, with the frequent attendant acrimonies and bitterness from stakeholders believed to have been short-circuited. Federal character principle is designed to allay the fears of domination and marginalisation of some ethnic groups in Nigeria. But the principle “has been used to achieve unintended purposes of ethnic-cleansing sort-of.” Instead of promoting “fair and effective representation of the various components of the federation in the country’s position of power, status and influence” it engenders instability and national disintegration. Experts opined that appointments into key offices are not evenly distributed, as these are often dictated by the whims and caprices of the political elite. The overcentralisation of powers at the central has led to serious dysfunctional effects on the quest to establish as sense of belonging among the ethnic nationalities. So, the agitation to promote and protect the autonomy of the rights of the minorities has created flashpoints of threats to the attainment of national peace and national integration. The endemic crisis in the Niger Delta and parts of the North-Central lends credence to such threat to peace, as the people from those areas are insistent on resource control as part of the sustained clamour for devolution for powers from the centre to states in tandem with the principle of federalism.
It is apparent that the sectional domination of powers at the various levels of authorities ensures that certain ethnic nationalities maintain a fistic hold on critical federal ministries, departments and agencies, including the security apparatus. Therefore, other ethnic nationalities are like second class citizens in the federation. The influence of cabals guarantees the perpetuity of particular hegemony that peace remains elusive.
There is the need to allow the states to unleash their huge potentialities to engender healthy rivalry in terms of development and economic growth. But in his own diagnosis of the malaise of the country, a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode noted that the crisis is ingrained in the master-servant relationship created by the amalgamation of the Southern and the Northern Protectorates of Nigeria in 1914. “In 1914 Lord Frederick Lugard, the British Governor-General of Nigeria, described northern Nigeria as the “poor husband” and southern Nigeria as the “rich wife”. He went further by boldly proclaiming the marriage of the two regions by British fiat and declared, without consultation with either of the two “spouses”, that this was a marriage that had “no prospects of divorce” and that “would last forever.” Ever since then and for the better part of the last 104 years the “rich southern wife” has been enslaved, raped, sodomised, insulted, humiliated, devalued, demystified, rubbished, bound in chains, cheated and treated with the utmost contempt and disdain by a rapacious and insatiable “poor northern husband” who has no sense of restraint, decency, fairness and or compassion. The South, plagued with a notoriously timid, weak, pitiful, ignorant, confused, shortsighted, cowardly and irredeemably pliant set of leaders, have proved, over the last 58 years, to be wholly incapable of engendering any form of unity or collective purpose and of standing up to northern arrogance, bondage and captivity. They have all failed woefully and their inexplicably docile, indolent and stoic disposition remains the greatest obstacle to southern emancipation till today. As a matter of fact the leadership of the North continuously thanks God for their lack of understanding, weakness, cowardice and divided ranks. You do not have to behave like the pliant and subservient rich wife simply because a cruel, misguided and self-serving British mercenary and colonial officer described you as one 104 years ago. If the north had been the rich partner and had been blessed with oil and the south were its burden, its leaders would have had the courage to break out of forced marriage take their zone out of Nigeria long ago. Sadly southern leaders have always lacked the vision, courage and ability to make such a move. Instead all they do is silently whine and grumble behind closed doors about northern domination. I make bold to say that one of the greatest disservices to southern Nigeria and indeed the black man in the history of the world was the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates of Nigeria by the British in 1914. This was a forced marriage of ethnic, religious and cultural incompatibles and there has been little peace between the two ever since. From day one it was a mistake and a failure and it remains a mistake and a failure till today. Lord Lugard and his wife Flora Shaw, who gave Nigeria its name, must both be laughing in their graves. There you have it. I have spoken the minds of millions even though few are prepared to say it publicly.”
But a legal practitioner and immediate past Commissioner for Environment and Solid Mineral in Nasarawa State, Gabriel Akaka, disagreed with the Sultan on his remarks concerning the perceived uncomplimentary role of religious leaders during the buildup to the election. He said: “I have not seen that influence on the nation in terms of the way some of the clerics made certain comments during the election. They made their comments based on national issues and they were general comments made across board (both Muslims and Christian), particularly on the issue of security. Both Buhari and Atiku are Muslims, but there were Christians and Muslims who supported them across board. I don’t see anything wrong on that. The clerics made those comments because the system was not working; you talk about killings and armed robbery on a daily basis; people no longer feel safe.” Akaka added that what Federal Government needed to do now was to strengthen institutions by making them more effective; it should address the issues of insecurity, corruption, among others.
Labour Party senatorial candidate in the 2019 general election in the state, Innocent Lagi, however, backed the Sultan on his view on the state of the nation. The one-time Attorney-General of the state said the traditional ruler only acted in sync with the reality across the country, especially the rising threats to national security and unity among the ethnic nationalities making up the federation. “Why would anybody not admit the reality which the Sultan said? We were heading toward the wrong direction? “When we killed the leader of Boko Haram, shouldn’t we know that we acted arbitrary and see what we caused? When we shot the Shite people and locked up their leader, shouldn’t we know that the kind of protest we got in Abuja? So, when somebody tells Nigerian the truth, they think he has done something wrong. I think, the Sultan was courageous to say the truth. He is sending a warning that every Nigerian should began have a re-think. People work towards peace and you don’t just sit down and asked or pray for it to happen, people work for prosperity not by sitting down and praying to God alone for it to happen.
“Basically, that is what the Sultan is talking about; the country is more divided; there is general insecurity; there is much corruption. In fact, nothing seems to be working. Nobody, particularly clergymen appear to be helping the situation. We don’t expect politicians to say the truth, but we expect the clerics to be truthful. Do you expect the clergymen to tell you that there are warning signs for this country in 2023? So, the only way out is when the people begin to pay attention to themselves more than they do to their political leaders. We should try to unite the country. We shouldn’t follow Buhari or Atiku, or even follow APC or PDP. We should follow the road to progress, unity and prosperity for this country, it does not matter what political party that carry the day;, it shouldn’t matter which ethnic group carries the day at the poll.
“But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” – Amos 5:24.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension’… Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed… Justice too long delayed is justice denied… A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law. Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” – Martin Luther King Jr. in “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”
The piece you are about to read was first published in my “TREASURES” column in the New Telegraph newspaper of Wednesday, 17th April but now with some additional information. It reads: Ace comedian, Helen Paul, is not your mill-of-the-run personality; not only because she is acclaimed in her chosen profession or extra-ordinary in the application of the gifts and talents God gave unto her but also because she combines brains with brawn. She is brave; she is courageous, and, above all, she is public-spirited. Her “never-say-die” spirit, which saw her rise from the status of never-do-well to a star and role model should encourage and energise others in her shoes. Her story, told by herself, that she was the product of rape, someone called a “bastard” even by family members and derided as someone who can never make it in life, connects with how Nathaniel talked condescendingly of Jesus Christ when he asked: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Helen Paul opened up at the point of success – her attainment of a Doctorate degree. It would have still been okay had she told her story much earlier.
Her path and mine crossed once or twice – at a book launch, I think, of my brother and comrade, Opeyemi Bamidele, erstwhile Lagos State Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, somewhere at the Business District, Alausa, Ikeja and I had made efforts to invite her to my church for a programme meant to draw the attention of children and youth. Helen Paul said she made her disclosure as a tribute to her mother who suffered the opprobrium that usually accompanies rape. In saner climes, the rapist is the one who suffers shame and punishment; here, it is usually the other way round. As in Alex La Guma’s A Walk in the Night, the rapist vanishes into the night even in broad daylight; but where he is known, he still often goes away scot-free. As in the biblical case of the woman said to have been caught red-handed in adultery, nothing is said of the male accomplice. Male chauvinism is as old as civilization itself; more so in societies like ours that approximate to Thomas Hobbes’ state of nature “where life is brutish, nasty and short”. Helen Paul’s mother weathered the storm; she obviously was pro-life, otherwise she could have aborted her. She also possibly was a bold and courageous woman and Helen must have taken that streak from her. Like Jesus, she bore the shame even though she could not have known beyond blind faith the glory and honour that awaited her.
Helen Paul is, thus, a chip off the old bloke. Her boldness serves to encourage others in her shoes. There are so many Helen Pauls out there but only a few have come public with their story, choosing instead to live with the physical, emotional, and psychological damage that sears the soul and leaves permanent scars. Those who have been courageous enough, like Helen Paul and Oprah Winfrey, energise and encourage others. Poetic justice is that the loser in the Helen Paul rape story is not the woman who was raped or the baby that came out of that “association” but the rapist himself. Now, if we can “understand” (note the parenthesis, please) those who rape adults, what of those who rape children and toddlers? Suddenly, rape has become an everyday occurrence. Worse, are the nauseating cases of adults, even grand-fathers, raping children and toddlers; cases of incest are on the rise; with, in many instances, the victims getting murdered during or after the incident. Sexual offences have attained epidemic proportions. Paedophiles are on rampage. As they say, what goes round comes around. You do not get to know until it gets to you. So, it was a rude shock when I learnt early this year that a four-year old daughter of my niece had fallen victim of rape at Osogbo, Osun State. The adult who raped her was the driver of a school into which her mother had just registered her. It was her second day at school.
My niece’s case is that of what the Yoruba call “when a big problem strips you, every minute ones climbs on you” She finished school, no job. Her husband finished school, no job. They relocated to Ibadan, no dice. She then decided to return to Osogbo where, as a fashion designer, she had a customer base that put food on the table. She came across an old acquaintance (Mrs. Eniola Badmus Adeyemi) who told her she had just opened a private school at Osogbo (Charleston Group of Schools, Kelebe, Osogbo, whose proprietor is said to be Mr. Charles Adeyemi and Mrs. Adeyemi the proprietess); rs. Adeyemi pleaded that my niece register her four-year girl at Charleston. She did. On the very first day, the girl complained to her mother that she would not follow “Uncle” (Oyelakin Oluwatomisin) to school the next day in the “school bus”, which turned out to be the private car of the proprietress and the “School bus driver”, Oyelakin Oluwatomiosin, her personal driver. Mothers must have to watch it here. We should listen to our children and not shut them up! My niece failed to be inquisitive concerning why the little girl did not want to ride with “Uncle” to school and the girl came back raped that day. The case is in court and is “sub judice” I am, however, compelled to bring it to the attention of the public in this manner because it would appear this four-year-old and her family are not likely to get justice unless public-spirited persons step in quickly to prevent the case from being swept under the carpet. Justice must be done if the impunity of rapists, paedophiles and such other vile criminals are to be curtailed and rolled back in our society.
From Day One, the accused and those he worked for had proven to be well connected in the Osogbo power circles. Told about this, I put a call across to Dr. Charles Akinola, then SSA to the Governor but now elevated to Chief of Staff, to complain about some funny moves I was told were going on. I later sent him the following text message on Thursday, January 24th: Beloveth brother, good day. I’m Bola Bolawole, former editor, PUNCH newspapers and columnist with Sunday Tribune and New Telegraph. I was shocked to hear that the four-year-old girl raped in Osogbo last week is daughter to my niece. I am more so scandalised to learn that political pressure is being mounted to sweep the matter under the carpet. I heard His Excellency, the governor and even Vice President Osinbajo’s names are being dropped. I sincerely hope this is false. I have met His Excellency on a couple of times with ex-Gov. Aregbe on invitation to Osogbo. I vouch he cuts the picture of a perfect gentleman who will protect people’s rights. I trust he will get justice for a four-year-old defiled minor and her family. Never must his name be dropped by anyone trying to pervert the cause of justice, regardless whose ox is gored. I felt I should first bring this to the attention of my professional colleagues before other actions.
Dr. Charles Akinola was gracious enough to call me. He vowed the governor would never impede the cause or course of justice. He asked for the details of the case and took my niece’s number. He said he received my message while he was sitting right across the table with His Excellency Governor Oyetola. He promised “someone” would call me shortly. The person did. It was those “registered numbers” that speak volumes about the owner: 888888; 44444; 00000 etc. They actually did call my niece. They promised to investigate and feed me back. I am yet to hear from them. In the interval, it appears some powerful forces are working to have the case thrown out of court for lack of diligent prosecution. The case file has not returned from the DPP. The case has been heard in chambers away from the prying eyes of reporters. Vicious media and smear campaign has been waged against my hapless niece. All manner of intimidation, inducements, and threats have been directed at her and known members of her immediate family. Her lawyer has been beaten to a corner and cannot come to court again. To make matters worse, at the last outing, the accused was granted bail with threats by the judge to throw out the case at the next adjourned date of Monday, April 29th if the case file had not returned from the DPP.
Scary, very scary, what this country has become. I have mentioned this case to Comrade Femi Falana, SAN, and a number of human rights activists, NGOs, and columnists committed to the defence of human and people’s rights such as Sina Loremikan, Betty Abah of CEE-HOPE, among others. I have also posted it on many of the platforms that I belong. The response has been phenomenal and I must appreciate those who have taken up this case. I plead that as many news media, NGOs, lawyers, and public-spirited persons as possible will storm the Magistrates’ Court, Okefia, Osogbo on the next adjourned date of Monday, April 29th. Kindly note that the victim’s lawyer, who is even a family member, appears to have chickened out of this case; he has complained severally to the victim’s family that his life and livelihood might be at risk. He has thus been dodging and did not personally attend the last court sitting. Will the case file have resurfaced from the office of the DPP before the adjourned date? Would they have decided to do justice or what further abracadabra will the victim and her family be subjected to?
Let the Osun State government be on trial! Those familiar with my trajectory will attest to the fact that I am not going this whole hog simply because I am family with the victim; I have weighed in on the side of the oppressed and down-trodden all my career and adult life. It runs in my blood. Last Tuesday, The PUNCH newspaper on page five carried the story of a welder sentenced to life imprisonment by an Ondo State High Court for raping a 13-year-old. Why, then, should a man who raped a four-year-old walk free in Osun State? The Osun State government cannot play the ostrich on this issue. Gov. Oyetola’s duty includes getting justice for the helpless. I trust he will not shirk it but will seize the bull by the horns. Or is that too much to expect from the First Citizen of Osun State and its Chief Security Officer?
The Sultan of Sokoto has expressed fear over future elections in the country based on what transpired during the 2019 general elections. His fear is based on the role played by some religious leaders, who allegedly openly canvassed for their candidates of choice instead of being apolitical. Do you share his views that religious leaders keep a distance from political office seekers?
I may not totally share the views of the Sultan, basically because politics and religion are somehow intricately intertwined. It is very difficult to separate politics from religion. Though there is need to balance the scale so as not to overheat the polity. Saying that religious leaders should just stay away from politics is like telling them to be neutral in the face of obvious political oppression, injustice, corruption, political brutality and political subjugation by politicians. History is replete with stories of religious leaders being the instigators of real and genuine political change which has brought about enormous social-economic transformation in our world. So, you see its not totally wrong for religious leaders to openly pitch tent with their choice political candidate, as this may be borne out of the desire or crave to see real and genuine political paradigm shift, but they must be careful how they go about their support for candidates of their choice in order not to overheat the polity.
But do you agree with the Sultan that some clerics have turned their worship centres to campaign grounds? Is it right on their part?
It is absolutely wrong to turn worship centers to campaign grounds; religious leaders must be very mindful of their actions as the result of their actions can have consequential effects on the polity.
Would you say the Sultan himself has been neutral in expressing support for political gladiators so far as he has claimed?
I cannot say the Sultan has been totally neutral. I would rather say he has been evasive about his support for certain political gladiators, especially from the core North. The role of the Sultan in the just-concluded 2019 general elections and that of 2015 is still very fresh in our memory. He has not been totally honest with his neutrality stance, judging from some of his statements and actions in recent times with regard to killings ravaging the northern part of the country. That you are a religious leader does not mean you have to be neutral when your people are being maimed and killed on daily basis. Religious leaders ought to be the watchdog of the society, especially in time such as we find ourselves as a nation. Religious leaders owe it a point of duty to speak truth to power at all time not minding if those in power come from the same ethnic groups as them, that’s what we are yet to see from the Sultan.
So, to what extent should religious leaders speak truth to power without being labelled partisan?
At every point in time religious leaders owe it as a point of duty to speak truth to power at all times, especially in times like what we are experiencing in most northern part of the country… enough of the silence and deafness, Nigerians are being killed, ripped apart, and tormented by unknown bandits, terrorists and herdsmen, there is no better time to speak truth to power than this time we are now.
The Sultan said the country should begin to plan ahead of the 2023 elections to ensure we have leaders of our choice and not leaders forced on us. What’s your reaction to this statement?
Yes. There is nothing wrong to start preparing ahead of the elections in 2023, but why we try to look ahead, we should not lose sight of what is currently before us, else we are bound to make the same mistakes over and over again. We must, first of all, try as much as possible to heal the wounds of the just-concluded elections by putting our house in order. We have never been this divided as a people, hence there is a need to look at those areas where we didn’t get it right in the first place by reviewing our electoral laws and try to make sure our electoral processes are free from interference from the powerful individuals whose selfish interest always supersede their interest for the country. We must also ensure our electoral umpire is truly independent and free from the control of the executive so as to create room for unbiased and fair electioneering process come 2013.
What should leaders in the North, which is currently under the siege of gun-totters, do to arrest the situation?
What we are witnessing in the northern part of the country today is so unfortunate and it’s a thing that calls for serious concern by all well-meaning Nigerians. Northern Leaders must begin to take a serious review of their commitment to their people and they must come together in unison to confront this current debacle.
What can be done, in your view, to genuinely unite all ethnic groups in the country?
The unity of this country is very paramount to our survival as a people, therefore all ethnic groups must realize that Nigeria is for all and, therefore, we must put the interest of the country first before our individual interest; we must have a sense of patriotism for our fatherland because we don’t have another place to call our country, we must hold dear to our heart those values that tend to keep us together.
What should leaders, especially religious ones, do to engender peace and unity ahead of 2023 elections?
Religious leaders must begin to see themselves as role models and therefore the message of tolerance, love and selflessness should be at the forefront of their activities and actions.
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Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President, has expressed her plan to establish a private university to be known as “Muhammadu Buhari University”.
She disclosed this on Saturday during a town hall meeting in Yola organised by her in collaboration with concern indigenes of Adamawa.
Aisha, who did not, however, reveal when or where the university would be sited, explained that the university would be established in collaboration with partners from Sudan and Qatar.
Aisha who lamented the challenges facing education and various sectors in the state called for active support of the state indigenes in complementing government efforts.
“I cannot conclude without suggesting how we can complement the efforts of government in achieving some of its developmental goals.
“On this note, I would like to advocate for the establishment of Adamawa Development Trust Fund through which prioritised developmental projects can be financed and implemented,” she said.
Ambassador Fati Ballah also called for reconciliation and forgiveness among the people of the state and the setting up of a committee to come up with a blueprint for the development of the state.
Alhaji Sadiq Daware, who spoke on agriculture at the meeting, noted that 80 per cent of the state land was arable and suitable for farming.
Daware added that with River Benue which passes through the state, the state has the potential for massive irrigation and all year round farming programmes.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other speakers at the meeting include Prof. Shehu Iya of Modibbo Adama University, Yola, who spoke on education; Prof. Auwal Abubakar of Federal Medical Centre, Yola, who spoke on health; and Mrs Helen Mathias who spoke on women and youths.
Others are Mallam Umar Abubakar who spoke on security; Gen. Buba Marwa on drugs; Sen. Silas Zwingina on Good Governance, and Dr Umar Bindir who spoke on Poverty.
The meeting was also attended by politicians, particularly APC, PDP and ADC members in the state.
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Sokoto State Government has donated 4700 bags of rice and N4.7 million to needy persons across 86 districts in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the donation was made through the state Zakkat and Endowment Commission.
Its Chairman Malam Muhammad Maidoki said on Saturday in Sokoto that the gesture was part of the government efforts toward assisting the less privileged members of the society.
Maidoki said that the 4700 bags of rice will be distributed across the 86 district in the 23 local government areas of the state.
“Today we are inaugurating the distribution with 300 beneficiaries based on the various requests for assistance received by the commission from individuals.
“Each person will get one bag of rice and a transport fare of N 1,000. Later we will take the distribution to the 86 districts where each district will get 50 bags of rice and N50,000,” he said.
The chairman commended Gov. Aminu Tambuwal for sustaining the exercise and called on wealthy individuals to complement government effort in assisting the needy in the state.
He urged the beneficiaries to wisely utilise the donation and pray for the government and peace in the country.
Some of the beneficiaries were, Aliyu Usman, Malami Kware, Jummai Tanko, Salamatu Danda, Hajara Bako, Bello Sani among others.
In another development, the commission has donated a wheelchair to one Jamima Dauda, a female student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
Presenting the wheelchair to her family, a Director in the commission, Malam Muhammad Hamma-Ali, said the gesture was to ease her stay in the university.
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The wife of the President, Hajia Aisha Buhari, has decried the decline in school enrolment in Adamawa.
Buhari raised the concern in her remarks at the Adamawa State Indigenes Town Hall meeting held on Saturday in Yola.
She noted that the poor school enrolment was alarming, saying the trend spelt a gloomy future for the state.
”The declining rate in terms of school enrolment and performance, coupled with the growing number of unemployed youth spells a gloomy future for our dear state Adamawa,” Buhari said.
She recalled that 40 years ago, the defunct Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba states) was a beautiful and peaceful state with relatively good infrastructure, well established civil service as well as educational and health institutions.
She said the state needed a coalition of like-minded people to return to its glorious past by addressing the challenges of insecurity, inter-ethnic conflicts, the annual flood and influx of internally displaced persons.
The first lady advocated for the establishment of Adamawa Development Trust Fund through which prioritised development projects would be financed and implemented.
In his remarks, Gov. Muhammadu Bindow said the meeting came at the right time when Adamawa concerned citizens were looking forward to the sustainable socio-economic growth of the state.
Bindow, represented by his deputy, Mr Martins Babale, called on the incoming administration to continue with the meaningful developmental projects in the interest of the state.
He urged the incoming administration to also continue and develop the culture of tolerance among the majority of the people.
Dr Halliru Bindir, the secretary to the Adamawa State government, said that 75 per cent of people in the state were living below the poverty line.
Bindir stressed the need for gigantic empowerment approach and programmes to reduce the poverty level of the majority of the people of the state.
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The National Judicial Council has approved the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for the extension of appointment of Justice Tanko Muhammad as Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria for another three months.
The decision which is contained in a statement, issued by Mr Soji Oye, Director, Information of NJC, said the decision was taken on at the 88th Council Meeting.
“The NJC has since forwarded its approval to the President,” Oye said.
NAN reports that on January 25, Buhari suspended the then CJN, Walter Onnoghen, pending the completion of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The President announced the suspension at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
He said the action followed the order of the CCT directing him to suspend Onnoghen, pending the completion of his trial.
The President consequently swore in Justice Mohammed as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Mohammed who hails from Bauchi state is the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court.
NAN reports that the CCT convicted Onnoghen on Thursday, banning him from holding public office for a period of ten years.
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Confirming the incident, the image maker of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs Henrietta Yakubu said the fire occurred at the equipment room of the new terminal.ALSO READ: Alleged Forged Certificate: NLC urges Oyetola to stay action on indicted 769 workers Her words: “FAAN hereby notifies the general public of a minor incident that occurred at the equipment room of the new international terminal of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 3:00 pm today.
“The incident was however swiftly curtailed by the in-built fire detection and protection system at the new terminal that triggered automatically.
“The building was designed and built with this protection system. The system comes up when it senses high ambient temperatures and sprays fire extinguishing agent. The residue of powder sprayed by the system was seen in the cloud, there was no fire at all.
Yakubu on behalf of FAAN reassured passengers and the general public that there was no cause for panic, as the incident has been put under control and “our firemen are clearing the remnant of powder after which operations will resume.”
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, have reiterated their call for a restructuring of the country to include resource control.
IYC President, worldwide, Pereotubo Roland Oweilaemi, Esq and Chief Sunny Onuesoke in separate statements made available to journalists in Warri on Saturday insisted that with the news of illegal mining activities in the North rife, it was time to restructure the control for each state to harness and control its resources.
“With the rather surprising news of illegal mining activities in the Northern part of the Country where powerful individuals are allowed to tap the natural resources in their domains, IYC is calling on the Federal Government to commence the amendment of the Constitution by allowing States to harness and control the resources in their domains.
“This call is becoming imperative due to the fact that Niger Delta people want to control the resources in their lands since solid minerals in the North are now reduced to individual ownership in spite of the enabling laws in the country vesting ownership of natural resources in the Federal Government,” IYC President noted.
Onuesoke, while reacting to the information of Nigeria’s loss of over N353bn annually to illicit mining of gold and other solid minerals in Northern Nigeria, disclosed that it has finally revealed the belief that Niger Delta oil belongs to all, while solid minerals like gold and others belong to them alone.
According to him, but for the killings in Zamfara State, nobody would have told Nigerians that some powerful personalities have been secretly mining the nation’s gold and enjoying the proceeds alone without bringing a dime to the table of the nation
“It is amazing that within three years, according to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Bawa Bwari, 18 tonnes of gold frittered from the country are worth $1.16bn.
“At the official exchange rate of N305/$, this gives N353bn as the value of gold that illegal miners and smugglers shared without any impact on the country’s GDP,” he stated.
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Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Osun State chapter, Comrade Jacob Adekomi on Saturday appealed to Governor Gboyega Oyetola to stay action on 769 civil servants, who were alleged to have used forged certificates to secure employment.
A report submitted by a consultancy firm contracted to verify credentials of workers had indicted 769 workers in certificate scandal.
Reacting over the development during a telephone chat with Tribune Online, Adekomi said: “We are imploring Mr Governor to stay action on the report submitted by the consultancy firm.
“We at the labour level have not seen the report. We want to see the copy of the report so that we can engage the affected workers and hear from them.
“But for now we are imploring the governor not to take any action on the report. We want to study the report the moment it is made available to the labour,” Adekomi remarked.
It is recalled that the report submitted by the Captain Consultants, engaged five years ago by the state government to verify the credentials and other necessary documents of the workers had declared that 769 workers allegedly used fake certificates to secure employment.
According to a press release signed by the Supervisor for the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr Adelani Baderinwa, “the screening of the workers’ credentials came on the heel of controversies and reported forgery of results with which some of the workers allegedly secured jobs in the Osun civil service.”
It reads, “at the commencement of the screening exercise in 2015, all the civil servants in the state were asked to submit their credentials in their personal files, from which the Captain Consultants firm got access to their results and begun the verification exercise.
“Each and every result submitted by each of the workers were verified in their various secondary schools, post-secondary schools and tertiary institutions. Some of the workers who were suspected to have forged/fake results were summoned by the firm and asked to present original results or go to their various schools for either attestation or re-confirmation.
“The firm, on its own approached the schools for ‘confirmation of results’ of the affected workers for which they were obliged. The verification process uncovered serious certificate infraction on the part of some of the workers across Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government.
“In some cases, as discovered in the verification process, some of the affected workers used another person’s result, while some forged their secondary and post-secondary schools results to secure jobs in the civil service.
“In the case of some people employed as drivers in the service, it was discovered that they forged the O’Level results they submitted for their appointment.
“However, the firm in its report recommended that some of the civil servants caught in the certificate infraction be pardoned, while some should not be pardoned.
“Recommended for pardon are 102 drivers and 30 other workers who are to be pardoned on compassionate ground. A total of 586 workers are not pardoned, while the case of some 51 workers was still pending.
“While the exercise was on, some of the workers who were cleared and pardoned were receiving their salary while those that are yet to be pardoned have their salary suspended.
“A complete list of all the workers involved in the certificate infraction has been posted at the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Civil Service Commission and Local Government Service Commission. Affected workers should check their names in the aforementioned places”, the statement concluded.
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The village head of Bolon, Mr Filgona told Tribune Online that because of the recent attack in his community, that claimed the lives of over 11 persons, has now left hundreds of people in needs of basic necessities.
Filgona said over one hundred households in his community are now homeless because their houses have been burnt down by the unknown gunmen suspected to be Fulani fighters.
“My people need help, their food has been burnt and there is nothing to fall back to,” Filgona said.
He revealed that two aged husbands and wife, their two granddaughters, and 11 others have been brutally murdered in the recent attack in a ‘senseless’ late-night attack on Wednesday in Bolon, Bolki and Bujum town of Demsa and Numan local government areas of Adamawa State.
The armed killers who are suspected to be a Fulani killer group were said to have descended on the town at around 10 pm Wednesday night shooting sporadically and burning down over hundred houses and sending the residents on a frenzy scamper for their lives.
“Our food has also been burnt to ashes just like that, if you go round town, you will see several of our houses are still on fire.
“At about 10 pm, some Fulani militants descended on our community heavily armed and started shooting at everyone they see.
“We quickly mobilised to defend our lives and property but all we have are just our local bows and arrows, so they overpowered us, in fact, it is because of the resistance we mounted that you still see some few houses standing,” he said.
The member-elect, Demsa constituency, Kate Mamuno, who visited the community lamented the mayhem saying the security operatives in the state have to improve on their response time.
Mamuno said: “This is the third time this community have been attacked by this murderous group and yet they go away without being apprehended by the security.
“Almost three-quarter of the village has been burnt down.
“These people need shelter, clothing, food, among other basic necessities because everything they have has been destroyed.”
A survivor of the attack, Alex James, narrating his ordeal said, “I have been physically challenged after I had stroke attack, so I could not run, so this place where you met me is where I was seated when the attack started and ended.
“At about 10 am, I started hearing gunshots all over the town and it kept coming closer, there was nothing I could do.
“About four of them came some few meters closer to my house but as God would have it, I heard one some of the attackers calling them in Fulbe to leave, that was how they left and I survived.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, Othman Abubakar when contacted said, the police have been informed of the situation but they are yet to get details of the attack.
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