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Shall I tell this to the president?

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Shall I tell this to the president?

They already own everything; they own our politics, our economy and our money. Even the CBN is being privatised and controlled by this cartel. The same cartel now wants to control the water we drink and the air we breathe to complete their vicious cycle of enslaving and subjugating us all.

They don’t care about the future but only about the dark interest they represent. Unrestrained capitalism is evil and should be challenged. The media knows about this but will never write about it. Our elite knows about this but cannot speak out for fear of losing their freedom and influence in a polity quickly sliding into dictatorship. Unfortunately, the media writes what they want you to know not because they want to serve the truth in favour of the people but to serve the interest of powerful group that empowers government.

Throughout history, there have always been powerful people who work secretly behind the scenes to advance their own selfish objectives, often to the detriment of the people. They exist everywhere down to my local Enugwu Agidi community.

As a writer I have had views of powerful men confided to me privately. Many powerful men in politics are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organised, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak against it. These powerful elements have owned the government. It doesn’t matter whether it is a military or civilian government, they own it. The fear of them is the beginning of wisdom.

Andrew Jackson, America’s 7th president wrote, “I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.”

The situation is no different today in Nigeria. A few financial elements made rich by the people in power and societies who operate mostly behind the scenes, and keep their objectives secret from the public, largely own and control everything from our politics to the economy.

When the owners of Nigeria decided to remove former President Goodluck Jonathan, they conspired and arranged all manner of forces against him. It doesn’t matter that their substitute lacked the capacity to deliver on the change they promised.

The interest that converged to take power in 2015 using APC as an alternative vehicle had their objective well defined. They wanted political power so that they will control the oil and gas wealth of the nation and take over what remains of her culture, religion, education, security and other strategic interest. They mask their greed for power in the clothe of good intention. Every dictatorship by the way comes with good intention either to fight corruption or enforce law and order.

As soon as APC won the 2015 general elections, the first major policy floated by the transition committee was the sale of NNPC and other oil assets. The forces behind this move backed down due to public outcry but never gave up.

These financial elements and their political collaborators carefully guided Nigeria into recession with hope that hunger and harsh economic reality will subdue the peoples resistance exactly the same way they were able to force the removal of fuel subsidy rather than fight the corruption in the system without the people wimping.

Forget what the government and the media tells you about the current recession. Our recession is not just caused by the corruption of the last regime because corruption and nepotism is now super with APC, neither was it caused by the fall in oil price.

To guide Nigeria into recession those that owned Nigeria deliberately caused wrong substitutions in our political play.

Whereas they never ended the war against Book Haram which before now has overstretched the military and national treasury, they opened another war in the Niger Delta, a region that has been peaceful in the past seven years. As if the country is being ran by pyromaniacs another war was opened against Biafra agitators in the South-East. The government also launched an all-out war against corruption which of course is needed except that the approach and strategy is creating more problems than it is solving.

Government disobedience to court orders frightened investors and caused capital flight because no foreign investor will stomach executive interference in judicial processes. The lack of strategy in implementing the TSA policy successfully killed banks and eventually killed the Naira. It is the combination of these factors that caused our current recession and they were all self-induced.

Why will any sane government contemplate the sale of its 49 per cent equity in a thriving concern like the NLNG which has two wholly-owned subsidiaries: Bonny Gas Transport and NLNG Ship Management Limited. The company’s total revenue from 1999 to 2015 was $90.3 billion while the figure for the last five years was $48.54 billion.

The capital investment from 1999 to 2015 was $15.6 billion while the figure for the last five years was $1.3 billion. Dividend paid to NNPC (FGN) from 2004 to 2015 was $15.3 billion while the figure for the last five years was $8.74 billion.

Why sell such a concern? To who and for what? I am weeping for Nigeria because President Muhammadu Buhari, is now a hostage of lumpen capitalists. The PMB in Aso Rock is unfortunately not the same man we knew then at Dodan Barack. He is running the most insensitive government.

The men around him who are desperate to please him are giving him all the wrong advice. They want him to fight an endless war with the National Assembly. They want him to be at loggerheads with the men in silk so that at the end of the day they will say he is stubborn to good advice.

They are taking undue advantage of his glaring weak areas. They know the problems and solutions but will never tell the president. They will not tell him that the pressure on the naira is ditto the disparity in the white dollar and blue dollar.

Is the president aware that banks in Nigeria are not accepting what they called the white dollar? They claim that the EFCC told them not to accept the white dollar for reasons that can best be called crude, primitive and stupid. The president should please for the sake of God get rid of some elements around him.

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The 1967 military coup in Greece

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The 1967 military coup in Greece

The 1967 military coup d’état in Greece took the entire world by storm. The fact of the matter was that democracy first started amongst the Greek City States in ancient times before the entire world followed up in order to be like Greece. In spite of this achievements, it was surprising that the army seized power from the democratically elected government to upset its own democratic structures. With the military takeover, it symbolised that a military coup was competent to be staged in any other country. The coup certainly destroyed the fineness and beauty of the Greek democracy, when in fact the country was expected to be of good influence unto others.

During the particular era of the Greek City States, democracy gradually rose to its peak, at a time it became imperative that Greece has come of age in terms of democratic governance. The coup of April 21, 1967, may not be too sudden. Some of the causes were anchored on conspiracy theories of which the United States was alleged to have supported the coup of the four Colonels. The said military coup was led by Andreas Papandreou. It was also alleged that the coup was staged in order to fulfil the personal ambition of George Papadopoulos, who was vividly confirmed as head of the military junta. He ruled Greece from 1967-1974. He died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 80 years on June 27, 1999.

However, it is interesting to note that the causes of the 1967 Greek military coup of the April 21, was dominated by a combination of some foreign factors. For instance, the United States was in support of the coup in order to halt the spread of communism in Europe. There was also a close relationship between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Greek military junta (1967-1974). This close intimacy was also intended to ensure that communism was kept very far from Western Europe.

Favouritism in NATO Southeastern flank and the cold war were also factors which led to the Greek coup. The need to ensure that human rights and foreign policy were in tandem with the rule of law and an ideal foreign policy was adjudged to be a major cause in view of the fact that the civil regime in Greece violently abused the rights of the people and the obvious fact that her foreign policy was tilted towards communism as an ideology. In spite of the fact that human rights violation and a foreign policy coated with communist colouration, the said coup brought to power a repressive dictatorship in Greece. The junta’s regime proceeded to deprive Greeks of their human rights and civil liberties, outraged international public opinion and strained transatlantic relations during the cold war. This case culminated into the withdrawal of Greece from the council of Europe and a pronounced threat to expel her from NATO. The relevance of ‘Détente’ to the United States coupled with its foreign policy was also a major cause for the Colonels to stage the coup.

It is essential to place on record that Papadopoulos who was head of the military government and leader of the junta ruled the country with iron fist. He was simply a deft dictator, who was himself toppled by his co-conspirator, Dimitrios Loannidis. After some few coups plotting in Greece, the ambitious Greek army officers may have appreciated the futility of their undemocratic actions. So also were the coup plotters in third world countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Chad and many others within the global context. The master coup plotters in Latin America and the Caribbean cannot be left out amongst countries where soldiers would circumvent democracy in order to pilot themselves to power.

The implications of the Colonels’ coup of 1967 in Greece appears to be legion, it must be acknowledged that the dictatorship of the Greek colonels ended on July 24, 1974 under the pressure of the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus. The fall of the junta was followed by the metapolitefsi, and the establishments of Third Hellenic Republic. In addition, let me stress that the 1967 coup was the accumulation of 30 years of national division between the forces of the left and that of the right.

Return to democracy in Greece was however gradual and consistent. Greece was being reborn with great things. The 1967 coup was an attempt to ensure the political and cultural purity of the people of Greece, though the means by which the Colonels attempted to achieve such goals resulted in a period of intense fear, distrust and political instability. The events which precipitated the coup represented the fearful Colonels and provoked them to act upon the growing international concern over communism and the instability of Greece’s foreign relations with the Republic of Turkey.

The return to democracy commenced with the withdrawal of support for the junta by the monarchy. Politicians such as Karamanis also advocated that the military henchmen and government should be under the control of the monarch. An attempt by King Constantine to stage a palace coup against the Colonels regime was thwarted due to lack of co-ordination, inability to broadcast the royal coup, to place in Athens and Thessalonica, lack of discretion in planning as long as the military stronghold over Greece combined to frustrate the royal coup. Although the Colonels’ regime did not blame King Constantine for the attempted royal coup, it rather blamed disloyal army officers. Those who mounted extra pressures on the junta to quit the stage were the Greek intellectuals, celebrities and other notable figures who formed National Groups alongside civilians to exact an amount of maximum pressures on the military. Today, Democracy has fully returned to Greece and it is likely that the country may not return to coup plotting such as was experienced by the four Colonels who suffered from the poverty of inordinate class political ambition.

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Construction on our roads: Matters arising

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T

he term ‘construction’, which is as old as the world, is not unconnected with engineering technology. Its existence could be rightly traced back to mankind’s creation.

 

 

It’s only in the engineering parlance the term is well understood and fully interpreted. It is, therefore, purely a professional word that is more often used by a certain group of professionals.

 

We must comprehend that engineers anywhere in the world, are well groomed, that, they are meant to wholly acknowledge the language of thoroughness in their respective endeavours.

 

This is the sole reason a well-trained engineer, or an engineering personnel who had passed through a holistic training, is expected to pay no attention to frivolities while carrying out his or her duty. By so doing, they wouldn’t overlook the essence of priorities.

 

 

Construction generally, irrespective of the field, requires optimum attention by any expert that’s involved. It, therefore, does not permit divided attention from the concerned individuals. This is a fact that’s keenly reiterated by any engineering tutor.

 

 

In any part of the global community, several kinds of construction – ranging from bridge, highway, local pathway, flyover, to drainage system – are usually encountered on various roads, particularly the major ones.

 

 

Road constructions in any society remain capital projects being implemented by governments at all levels. This is the reason successive governments invariably budget a huge sum solely for various degrees of proposed constructions on the roads.

 

 

Construction on the roads ought to be regarded as inevitable project, because it is apparently the pathway to other anticipated socio-economic developments within the benefitting domain.

 

 

In the developed economies, road constructions can never be compromised for whatever purpose or plan, because the leadership in such quarters comprehends the real essence of suchlike governance. Hence, they pay great attention to the policies guiding such developmental stride and the consequent implementation.

 

 

Construction on the roads are done to last for at least 20 years or thereabout, before it could be repaired or maintained.

 

 

Additionally, there’s usually a certain time frame within which a given construction is meant to last. This is so, because, every part of the work to be carried out – commencing from the design phase down to completion – has already been well planned by the experts.

 

 

It’s however disheartening that in this part of the world, particularly Nigeria, numerous degrees of construction being done on our roads are nothing to write home about. This level of anomaly can easily be observed by even a dummy.

 

 

It’s either the required funds weren’t duly released to the contractors or adequate supervision wasn’t conducted by the relevant authorities. This kind of aberration has resulted in different forms of lapses on roads whose construction has been supposedly concluded.

 

 

The sequences, regarding road construction, to be followed by the so-called professionals are not anymore adhered to, owing to the aforementioned loophole among other prevailing ones.

 

 

Today, constructions on Nigerian roads – on the average – manage to last for only two to three years. In some quarters, the duration is often noted to be about a few months or thereabout.

 

 

This devastating trend, if not properly checked, would seemingly linger unabated, indicating it has abruptly become a norm. This is the reason only a fierce measure is required to be taken by the apt authorities if we as a people are prepared to rewrite the wrongs.

 

 

It’s noteworthy that design is the basis of every construction. It’s needless to assert that all road construction works are strictly dependent on architectural designs. It’s equally worthy of note that design, which is of different kinds, involves various modes or dimensions.

 

In construction of a highway, for instance, there are different fundamental modes of design that are unavoidably needed. These are: geometric design, pavement design as well as drainage design.

 

 

The geometric considers all the parameters or features to be found within the road to be constructed. The pavement takes into cognizance the various factors on the soil, whilst the drainage on its part, takes care of the required drainage system along the road under consideration.

 

 

Designing of proposed constructions on a certain road, sometimes, takes longer time than the actual duration meant for the construction, depending on the type of road or site in question.

 

 

Once a sound design is done, construction does not usually encounter unforeseen barriers in the long run. This is to say that the design phase is supposed to be taken very seriously by any contractor who knows his onus.

 

 

During the design stage, various tests – to include soil and what have you – are often conducted by the engineers. This would enable the contractor to realise the kind of materials to be deployed on the road as the construction work commences.

 

 

But it is sad that these processes are never considered important, let alone inevitable, by most of our so-called building professionals. Sometimes, the concerned authorities are meant to be blamed in this regard, because it’s perhaps what they demanded that’s being given to them.

 

 

It’s very appalling to acknowledge that most of these governments have learnt to be so frugal during project implementation, but would invariably indulge in excesses while handling their personal issues or needs. This is indeed the level of decadence we have regrettably found ourselves.

 

 

However, rather than continue to lament on this high level of decay, we are advised to focus on how to get it right henceforth. The ministries and agencies at various levels that are meant to handle construction works are required to be headed by only people with the needed expertise. Similarly, they must be individuals with proven integrity and unstained antecedents. Hence, politics must be holistically separated from governance in this regard.

 

Inter alia, the country’s Public Procurement Act, alongside that of the various states, must be strictly adhered to by the relevant authorities while seeking for contractors to handle any road construction, with a view to engaging only eligible ones among the teeming job seekers. Most importantly, favouritism or nepotism must be duly jettisoned while carrying out this statutory consignment.

 

 

Conclusively, all relevant stakeholders must begin to ask critical questions when necessary, and every concerned law enforcement agency must be ready to investigate aptly no matter whose ox is gored. We can’t continue to claim ignorance of happenings even when they are occurring right under our noses.

 

 

It is, therefore, high time we formed a resounding coalition towards creating the Nigeria we have collectively dreamt of, than endlessly apportioning blames. Think about it!

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Agenda-setting for Humanitarian Affairs Minister

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hen President Muhammadu Buhari announced Sadiya Umar Farouq as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, only a few people could truly decipher the gamut of huge responsibilities and critical roles of this super-powerful ministry.

 

 

 

The idea for the establishment of the ministry was proposed by the House of Representatives early this year, to take care of the huge humanitarian needs of those displaced by insurgency in the North-East.

 

 

Before her ministerial appointment, Ms. Farouq was Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) and had served as an official of the National Assembly Service Commission before leaving to join politics in 2010.

 

 

An astute politician from Zamfara State and former National Treasurer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sadiya attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she obtained a Bachelor of Science (Bsc.) degree in Business Administration (Actuarial Science) and Master’s degrees in International Affairs and Business Administration.

 

 

In his Independence Day speech on October 1, President Buhari hinted that the new minister would oversee the administration’s Special Intervention Programmes (SIPs).

 

 

Speaking on the SIPs, which was hitherto under the supervision of the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President stated that, “Our ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention Programmes continue to target vulnerable groups, through the home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power, Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing scheme.

 

“To institutionalise these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date. To the beneficiaries of these programmes, I want to reassure you that our commitment to social inclusion will only increase.”

 

 

From this background, therefore, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs has a huge task on her shoulders. During her tenure at the Refugees Commission, Sadiya played a prominent role in the passage of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2018 (SB 335), which annulled the extant Act and re-enacted certain provisions to protect the rights of refugees, migrants, and IDPs, in line with international best practices.

 

 

The law empowers the commission to act as the coordinating arm for the effective administration and management of issues pertaining to refugees, migrants and IDPs in Nigeria, while expanding the scope of the commission to include facilitating the management and utilisation of funds from government and donor agencies.

 

 

In one of her public engagements, she had then pointed out that the extant law would address the issues of migration arising from communal conflicts, insurgency, and insecurity, due to the absence of a legal framework to prevent evolving challenges in this regard.

With the establishment of the new ministry, it is expected that the minister will ensure better coordination of humanitarian services, the protection of relief providers and safety of emergency workers, whilst ensuring the judicious utilisation of resources.

It is undeniable that disaster management and poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria are currently undertaken without synergy, hence a proper institution-based coordination mechanism is necessary to tackle humanitarian and emergency needs, with the effectiveness required to bring enduring relief to those affected by these situations.

 

 

The social development aspect of the mandate of the ministry would need to consider soft approaches, entailing programmes that would address the roots of insurgency, kidnapping, armed banditry, poverty and disease which have been attributed to various factors, including the political, social and economic.

 

 

There is currently a document, the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST), which aims to forestall, secure, identify, prepare and implement key objectives and indicators, to effectively ensure the monitoring and evaluation of these soft approach programmes.

 

 

The strategy, developed by international partners, experienced academics and select non-state actors, actually recommends useful programmes for education, economic empowerment and gender issues in vulnerable communities. With its implementation anchored on the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the strategy was put together taking into account the root causes of terrorism and other violent crimes in order to apply appropriate solutions to them.

 

 

Using the template in its programmes, the ministry can involve the participation of the civil society, academics, the media, and traditional, religious and community leaders, as it utilises existing structures within and outside government to deliver targeted activities that further the overall objective of stemming the tide of radicalism and economic crimes.

 

 

The mandatory registration of local and international humanitarian agencies should also be undertaken, against the background of the alleged suspicious activities of some of them by the Nigerian military. In fact, considering the sensitive nature of Sadiya Umar Farouq’s office in relation to national security, the ministry should work with the security and intelligence services in disaster prevention and response operations, as well as coordinating the activities of home-based NGOs interested in humanitarian and social development endeavours.

 

 

For sure, some of agencies expected to report to the ministry would likely include the organisation she previously led, the National Commission for Refugees, alongside the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the North-East Development Commission (NEDC), the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA), Federal Fire Service and, possibly, the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

 

 

On the economic front, especially in terms of poverty alleviation programmes, the ministry should supervise or, in the alternative, work closely with the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), the Ecological Fund Office, National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), School Feeding Programme, TraderMoni and N-Power, which are part of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

 

 

The activities of the listed agencies should be streamlined for proper coordination and to avoid the duplication of responsibilities. Proper documentation is equally essential for the humanitarian service providers, interventionist agencies, and NGOs, including the putting together of an accurate database of the IDPs.

 

 

The ministry requires adequate and competent manpower, including financial and logistics resources for disaster management and poverty alleviation. This will ensure proper supervision and implementation of the various programmes by the existing agencies.

 

 

Shuaib, author of “An Encounter with the Spymaster”, writes via yashuaib@yahoo.com

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Nigeria’s opposition is missing

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Nigeria’s opposition is missing

Last week, the Nigeria’s senate majority leader reintroduced anti-sexual harassment legislation to parliament, following a serious exposé by the BBC of a sex for grades scandal at the University of Lagos.

The bill had been tabled before – in 2016 – but it was not passed: some members of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), working with the opposition, then stronger in numbers than today, blocked it.

This time around, there has been no such attempt by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to scupper the legislation. We cannot tell whether they remain opposed to it, for they have been too busy to let the 200 million citizens of Nigeria know. Instead, last week – whilst this matter was in the Senate, and the first Federal Budget following our February general election, was being tabled before the House – the opposition’s full attention was elsewhere: on the affairs of the President, who we were told by the Internet, was planning to marry in secret to one of his cabinet ministers.

The interminable nonsense of fake news is hardly unique to Nigeria. In the United States, Britain – indeed across much of the democratic world – we see waves of falsehoods and untruths peddled across digital and mainstream media. It has led to journalists and the press to become less trusted than almost any other profession or estate. Yet elsewhere, whether the fake facts emanate from governments or opposition, neither have sought to abdicate their unique responsibilities in the act of governance.

In Nigeria, the opposition is close to reneging completely on the compact it holds with the voters. Every modern democracy exists for its checks and balances. Voters may elect a government to govern but they also elect an opposition – to oppose, to scrutinise, and to hold the majority to account. In the absence of either weight or counterweight, the scales of democracy become imbalanced. This cannot continue for long without the full functioning of governance being affected.

Whether citizens voted for President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC, or for the opposition’s presidential candidate and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), no one voted for failure. They may have voted differently on policy and personality, but regardless of a voter’s choice of candidate and party, for their vote they expect responsibility. No voter expected, nor wanted, the opposition somehow to simply go missing. But that, effectively, is what they have done.

Immediately after the February election that saw President Buhari re-elected to a second four-year term, and his APC secure a workable majority both in the Senate and House, the PDP went to court to challenge the result.

The world over election losers tend towards “lawfare” once they have lost the campaign battle in the field. None can begrudge the PDP their day in court: yet it was never in doubt that they would fail to persuade the judiciary to overturn President Buhari’s four million votes and 14 per cent margin of victory over his opponent.

“Biased judges!” screamed the opposition. Perhaps. Judges do tend to be biased – towards the facts. Yet those, it would seem, matter no longer to the opposition at all – for last week they opened their next salvo in ‘lawfare’ by taking their exact same, fatally flawed case to Nigeria’s Supreme Court. We must sincerely hope the opposition have the wherewithal to appreciate they will fail once more, given the facts and the math remain the same.

The opposition’s over-excretions are leaving a mess for the elected government to clean up. These do not just extend to the fact that even the most serious, and well-intentioned anti-sexual harassment legislation needs scrutiny, or the fact that the opposition yelled “corruption, padding!” at the Federal Budget – even before it had been tabled. More importantly, it leaves a stain on the terms of acceptable debate.

The median age of our 200 million population is 18 years old. Over 100 million Nigerians have access to the Internet, and to cell phones. Many will, of course, see the opposition’s fake news and failure to hold the government to account fully and sanely for what it is: dereliction of duty. But there will be those who do not.

Nigeria is leading the fight in Africa against terrorists claiming to be adherents of Islam. This battle is being won – but not without cost. Our fight matters not just to our country, or West Africa – but to the whole world. We are defeating the terrorists both through military and through educative means. We hold up to the terrorists the inalienable truth that society is better when there is reasoned debate, the exchange of views, argument without harm – and that it is through this process of consent which leads to unity.

Without that process working as it should, not only is good governance threatened but it imperils the principle of our system of governance – based on scrutiny of the executive based on facts – and makes it out to be a sham. It imperils the principle of governance by consent which is the firewall against impressionable young people being swayed towards terrorists, whom it emboldens. Nigeria’s opposition is missing. We need them back.

λShehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity)

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Haunting PDP in Anambra Central

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Haunting PDP in Anambra Central

In today’s episode of On Politics we shall continue with our dispassionate analysis of Section 285 (13) of the 1999 Constitution and how its discomforting truth is haunting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and her candidate in Anambra Central.

Moving forward, it is not yet Uhuru for the PDP’s candidate, Senator Uche Ekwunife, as her ‘celebration’ may be cut short if the Appeal Court unlike the trial tribunal becomes bold in determining the true wordings and intendment of Section 285(13) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which was brushed aside by the trial tribunal in a judgement that insults not just common sense, but flagrantly violates the constitution, the rule of law and every past precedent. To argue to the contrary will be unnerving to the core.

The decision of the Appeal Court will be final on this matter, and as such one will expect it to be more dispassionate and be guided by the clear provisions of the law, so as to save the judiciary from further ridicule.

One big threat to democratic stability in Nigeria is the tendency of some politicians not to play by the rules and yet expect the courts to aid them in perfecting their illegality. They forget that laws are made to be obeyed, and that the law shall take its course where a party or its candidate like in the instant case fails, neglects or refuses to comply with the mandatory provisions of the law on the nomination and submission of the names of its candidate for an election. Such a political party shall be deemed or taken in law to have fielded no candidate in that particular election.

Section 285(13) empowers both the courts and the tribunal to determine whether a candidate complied substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act. In other words, whether such a candidate participated in all stages of the election.

The section provided thus: An election tribunal or court shall not declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all stages of the election.

By the use of the word ‘court’ or ‘tribunal’, the section in my view is directed to both the court and tribunal and can be applicable as both pre-election and post-election matter to the extent of substantial compliance and participation in all stages of the election. Viewed more critically the section actually makes it possible for either an aspirant of same party or a candidate of rival party in an election to question a pre-election and post-election matter if such a person is directly affected by the actions of the other person.

Section 285(13) was designed to curb the excesses of politicians bereft of ideological bent who switch and changes political platforms like babies changing diapers.

This provision as contained in the 4th Alteration has been recognized by both the courts and various election petitions tribunals to the extent that if either the tribunal or court found out that a candidate did not participate in any stage of the election process, the tribunal will be left with no option than to declare the next candidate with the highest number of votes as winner in the election or nullify the election while ordering for a fresh election.

In Modibo v Usman & Ors delivered on the 30th of July 2019, the Supreme Court delivered a binding judgement which enjoins that ‘a person to be declared and returned as winner of an election must have been a person who fully participated as a candidate, in all stages of the election starting from his nomination as a candidate to the actual voting’.

But in the haste to conjure and invent its own underlining issue outside the pleadings before it, the trial tribunal in Awka, Anambra State, brushed aside this well established judicial precedent. The crux of the matter was brushed aside by the tribunal while personal opinion of the judges took over the cases without convincing reasons. Documentary and oral evidences provided by the petitioner to prove his case beyond doubt in anticipation for sincere judgement and concern to the survival of the democracy were jettisoned leaving a mystery as to why the tribunal would rule almost unanimously against the clear and unambiguous provisions of the constitution.

The Appeal Court now has a duty to set the law straight and safeguard  the constitution as it answers the following questions:

Is section 285 (13) directed also at the tribunal? Can a candidate in an election approach the tribunal on the basis of substantial non-compliance in the electoral process by a rival party candidate? What is election? What are all the stages of an election? When can a candidate be said not to have participated in all stages of an election? Can a candidate who admitted under oath to not have participated in the party primaries be said to have participated in all stages of an election?

If this miscarriage of justice is allowed to stand, then the effort put in place by the National Assembly in the making of Section 285(13) would have become a wasted effort. All that a person need do is to wait in the wings till after party primaries are conducted, and then be anointed as a substitute candidate by the powers that be.

How did PDP and its candidate get to this sorry situation? The PDP candidate has a reputation of switching political platforms like the British weather changes. In 10 years, she has the honour of traversing all the major political parties, switching from PDP to PPA to APGA to PDP to AGAP to APC and to PDP. In fact, even she may have lost counts of the number of times she switched parties for no apparent reason than being opportunistic.

It was to curb this kind of mischief that prompted the National Assembly to enact the law prohibiting any person who won an election on the platform of a particular political party from switching parties as the seat occupied by the member belongs to the political party and not to the occupier.

In the instant case, the conduct of the candidate is even more vexatious given the manner it occurred. The best illustration is a Nollywood cast whereby a bride who had followed through a wedding plan up to the altar decides to take off, abandoning the wedding at the point of saying ‘I do’, thus leaving the groom, friends and families in dishonour, disgrace and embarrassment.

This was the lurch APC found herself, after a candidate she produced as winner in her primaries absconded without a quarrel with a rival party. That this experience left a bitter and sour taste in the mouth of APC is an issue for another day.

Make no mistake; I am not advocating that anyone should remain in an inconvenient marriage. But where there are rules governing disengagement, the rules must be obeyed. And in the event of breach, the courts must be bold to serve justice. Again, there is nothing wrong in being a substitute candidate but such a candidate must be eligible for substitution, meaning the candidate must have participated in the primary election which is a sine qua nom or condition precedent to either becoming a substitute or participation in the general election.

The Supreme Court upheld this position in the case of Abiodun Faleke v INEC, where it held inter alia that “a person seeking to contest an election into an office must be a member of a political party and must be sponsored by that party.” Furthermore, he must have participated in the party’s primary elections. However, in the circumstances of the case, the appellant Faleke could not metamorphose into the governorship candidate, particularly as he did not participate in the party’s primaries, which is a pre-condition for anyone seeking elective office.

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How religion promotes crime

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few weeks ago, police in Kaduna discovered a religious training camp, where students were dehumanized. Several such training camps abound in Nigeria, especially in the core North. Many of those who went to prisons in Nigeria with half-baked religious beliefs by the time they served their prison sentences, many a time became religious but their habit or moral seldom changes.

 

 

Many of them become more criminally minded and brutal. Agnostics, Atheists and Free-Thinkers are almost absent from the Nigeria’s penitentiaries. The religions often teach the concept of hell, where there is eternal suffering of an unimaginable dimension. That belief is taught to every young child. In order for children to imbibe that concept that the people they care about will burn in hell for all eternity, they must turn off their compassion for those people. Even in religions that teach that hell is only for people who have done really horrible things, it still forces people to turn off compassion for other human beings.

 

 

Once a person, especially a child, learns to turn off his/her compassion and shrug his/her shoulders at eternal suffering, then being able to do same thing for real world, short term suffering is much easier.

Religious individuals often feel as though God is guiding them in some way. This may be through prayer or just simple emotions, but, it allows individuals the ability that their emotions and desires are sanctioned by God, so when they gain the urge to do harm, they are more likely to convince themselves that they are justified, because they have such strong emotions that they feel are given to them, not by the neurons firing in their brain, but by God.

 

 

Religious often teach that it’s not easy for a person to have morality without the concept of heaven and hell to motivate them. This teaches people that they do not have the mental capacity to be good without an outside motivator.

 

 

If there is something morally wrong in society, or with an individual, the religious person has the ability to check up to God’s ‘Mysterious Ways’ this can diminish a person’s desire to make a difference, because they believe it’s all part of some great plan.

 

 

Religion often teaches belief in God and prayers as a moral issue, so, a criminal can believe that they atone for anything simply by worshipping God harder.

 

 

If people taught that heaven and hell are necessary for a moral society, then this implies that there is no inherent logic to being moral, and implies that there’s nothing to be gained on earth by being good and implies that there won’t be immediate emotional consequences for wrong doing.

 

 

Religions teach people to believe in a very specific set of spiritual concepts and believe that these concepts are absolute truth. However, they see other people all around them who do not share their beliefs, and often have other beliefs. The only way for many religious individuals is to maintain an absolute belief in their own concepts and to resist the potential joy found in other belief systems is to turn off their empathy for anyone who does not refuse to imagine things from other people’s perspectives.

 

 

People are often told that religion will draw them towards goodness, and some people take this to believe that it happens automatically, so they never come to realize that it takes willpower, and they don’t learn to work with their own emotions. They keep expecting it to happen simply by worshipping or reading a holy book. The concept of original sin re-enforces the idea that we are helpless to stop our criminal urges. Apostle Paul even confirmed that, in the Holy Bible. If a person already believes he/she is going to hell, and he/she thinks that there is already no way to redeem him, then, there is nothing left to stop him from committing whatever wrongdoing he wants and also commit suicide.

 

 

People learn from what they see and imitate others around them, especially, people who are built up as being greater than they are. This reaction can be entirely subconscious.

The concept of evil can often be used as an identifier for individual human beings. It’s easy and convenient to believe serial killers are possessed with an intense and unbreakable evil brought about from a higher power. When you accept the idea that a supernatural evil is at work on this planet, it is easy for you to believe, for example, that your wife who cheated on you and broke your heart is in fact evil. This can lay the foundation for a person’s justification for revenge.

 

 

 

Sometimes, when a person is feeling emotions that may lead them towards crime, they will talk about it with someone and even, attempt to receive professional help.

A religious person is more likely to seek out or be directed towards religious help and are more likely to wind up discussing their problems with individuals who do not have psychological training in crime prevention.

There are numerous logical arguments not to commit crime or other harmful actions. This is not to discredit the emotional and spiritual argument against crime and wrongdoing. If you look at the long term personal effect of committing a crime and analyse it, based on pure cold-hearted or selfish logic, you will still find that committing most crimes just doesn’t make sense.

It’s clear in our society or in the world generally, that violence and crime interests people.

 

 

It’s no wonder our movies are full of violence, and violent news gets significant more air time than peaceful news.

 

 

• Dr. O. Ajai, a public affairs commentator, writes from Lagos

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ASIWAJU TELLA  AND THE LONG WALK TO  HONOUR

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ASIWAJU TELLA  AND THE LONG WALK TO  HONOUR

To the bounteous glory of Almighty Allah, my brother and friend, Kayode Awobadejo, a distinguished  muslim alumnus of Concord Press,  clocked age 60, just six days ago. In a most gratuitous manner, Awobadejo, who himself chose to personally celebrate this with umrah, chose to further spice his celebrations with an offer of hajj  to a fellow media professional, AbduRasheed Abubakar, publisher of Muslim News. It would be AbdRasheed’s first Hajj.  Awobadejo’s saadaqah, perhaps unknown to many, is a re-enactment of Basorun MKO Abiola’s generosity to Awobadejo.  He emerged a beneficiary of MKO’s similar offer in 1993 after a rigorous Islamic Knowledge based interview chaired by Alhaji Liad Tella

 

 

The Concord publisher’s sponsorship of Hajj for the workers in that company was being coordinated by the man of this moment. Alhaji Liad Tella, Deputy Editor of Concord newspaper at that time also doubled as the Chairman of the Osun State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board and led the MKO-sponsored ones including Awobadejo during the hajj rites.  The story of the huge impact registered on Awobadejo between then and now would span volumes for those of us who knew the gangling, jean lover,  Mr. Kay, very well before the holy pilgrimage.  Mildly speaking, Mr. Kay was as much endowed as much as he chose to indulge himself. But Tella has since led Mr. Kay into spiritual freedom. Allah, the most beneficent, later made it possible for Alhaji Tella to be similarly nationally relevant.  He eventually emerged in 2007 as pioneer commissioner representing the entire southwestern Nigeria at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON.  Awobadejo’s liberation and probably those of several others he later served are what have culminated into today’s glory for the first Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwoland.

 

 

By the time the world converges on Iwo to honour Alhaji Tella, not a few would readily recall Alhaji Liad Tella’s life of service spanning decades, special glory to the almighty Allah for His limitless favours.  What may recur in most discussions is that the  man, most of his colleagues and admirers affectionately call Alhaji or El Haj, possesses a relentless commitment to the religion of Islam with the support of his dresser and darling beau’ and soulmate, Barrister Funke Tella. The story of Alhaji’s sartorial distinction among peers is reserved for another day.

 

 

Indeed, Alhaji Tella has mustered unmistakable efforts in contributing particularly to the visibility of Islam which has, in turn, earned the faith more reckoning,  embolding many young professionals from the southwest today to identify with it. Many stories will readily ooze forth about this, from otherwise muted voices, here implying Prof Ojebode’s inference, as enunciated in his recently delivered inaugural lecture as a professor of  communication studies at the University of Ibadan.

 

 

This writer’s voice was almost muted as a rookie reporter at a national newspaper in the 1980s.   Those were the days the newsroom relied on typists for the typing of reporters’ stories often submitted in longhand.  Fresh from the university, I stuck to my name as borne all my life, and registered on all my certificates for my byline.  The typist, a non Muslim, assigned to typing my stories and those of my colleagues, chose to consistently ‘murder’ my Muslim identity.  After repeated embarrassment resulting from the unpardonable misspelling, I resorted to two names, thus dropping my Muslim name.  Yet, late Shuaibu Adinoyi Ojo and some other reporters managed to keep their three names as byline elsewhere.  Alhaji Tella literally pulled up the drowning voice of mine and embellished it with grandeur.  He facilitated my entry to Concord Press in 1991.

 

 

In retrospect, Alhaji’s support for me to be a Concord staff was part of his focused design to strengthen the initiative of another dear brother, Publisher MKO Abiola, with the army of the best in his vicinity. Same way he took me in, he attracted one time most ethical journalist prize winner and now Communication’s Director of  Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Wahab Gbadamosi; as well as Abdul Fatah Oladeinde, now the Editor of Xpress Nigeria newspaper. Abdul Fatah, my fellow Unilorite, was the best graduating student in his department when he rounded off his first degree programme in English Studies. Yet another was Abdul Warees Solanke, arguably the most prolific broadcast journalist in Nigeria today. A Director at the Voice of Nigeria, VON, Solanke still ceaselessly publishes articles in leading newspapers practically every week till date. My darling kinsman and very dear friend, Bayo Adeyinka, yet another Tella boy, who now lives in the US  is known to have cultivated the core of  reporting  and programming model for business, finance and allied beats for which AIT is known today. He was actually the president of the Financial Correspondents Association of Nigeria, FICAN, in its early years.  If anyone reckoned with Concord Press as an oak in the publishing industry at that time, it was largely attributable to the unflinching, brotherly dedication of thorough professionals like Alhaji Liad Tella.

 

 

But Tella has always been modest with his enviable accomplishments even as he never wasted knowledge sharing opportunities with attentive younger ones. One afternoon, shortly after the proscription of Concord titles in 1994, we had both just left Thisday newspaper office at Yunusa Adeniji Street Ikeja, when we suddenly met late Dr Omotosho Ogunniyi, formerly of Daily Times. Alhaji instantly pulled up the car, rushed out and lay flat in prostration before Dr Ogunniyi who visibly relished the warmth and courtesy, the usual Yoruba way. He prayed for Alhaji Tella after reviewing a few events and issues with him. Alhaji later told me “that was the man who hired me at Daily Times, my first journalism job. He’s such a wonderful human being. It took a while before I knew he came from Ede.”

 

 

Even with his mother-hen, disarming, all-time warmth, Alhaji has never been one that would fold arms and resign to fate in the face of challenges. When it became clear that the Abacha junta meant to completely crush Concord and other similarly proscribed publishing organizations following the annulment of  the 1993 election won in 1993 by MKO, the Concord publisher, he incorporated a media consultancy firm. His clientele cut across both the public and private sectors.  Often, they celebrated his interventions on their matter each time he was called in.  The official interactions he had using his company availed him the opportunity to demonstrate  some of the tangential advisory he has had the opportunity to raise as a Concord columnist which had endeared him to the world, in the first place.

 

 

The energy and creativity from the private initiative came in handy when he became a commissioner at NAHCON. Alhaji Tella’s directorate was the central, daunting and most tasking one called Operations.  But Tella’s  extraordinary industry and cosmopolitan disposition exhibited in the media for more than four decades  had successfully registered him as a household brand in the media  and beyond, nationwide and even internationally. His antecedents in the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, MSSN, was no less supportive for his new assignment.  NAHCON, courtesy of Tella,  therefore consistently   enjoyed prime visibility which attracted grace and honour  from the authorities and the lowly, alike. For all the years Tella served at NAHCON, the organization was uniquely renowned for prudence and integrity yet never lacking in excellent delivery of its mandate. It consistently refunded surplus budgetary allocations thus earning official commendations during the Presidents Obasanjo and Yar’Adua years. NAHCON remains, till date, a beneficiary of the tenacity and creativity cultivated by team Tella.  He is always, of course, quick to impress it on colleagues and acquaintances that he would do anything to treasure and guard his integrity as a distinguished prince of a Yoruba ancestral home of Oyo, the original roots of his own Agboluaje extended family in Iwo.

 

 

Way back in 1992, the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board in Osun State was no less a beneficiary of Tella’s devotion to duty deriving from varied management and allied experience garnered from his chairmanship of Odu’a Printing Company as well as  committee membership constituted by state and federal governments implying international exposure. It is on record that Alhaji’s performance as the Chairman of the Muslim Pilgrims Board remains the one to be beaten decades after he left. Little therefore, did people who knew his trajectory, wonder that he was invited to serve the nation’s Muslim community at the highest level of NAHCON.

 

 

A consummate leader and passionate happy family man with children of biological, professional and other forms of descent, he ensured that his multidimensional knowledge, talent and connections got properly invested. His last duty post, Better By Far University of Ilorin, harvested all of these.  As Alhaji Tella therefore bags a distinguished, formal recognition from his Iwo root today, what may probably remain the most enduring legacy is the inspiration he has cultivated in multitudes across assorted sectors.  All hail Asiwaju Tella!

 

Dr Akanni is the Director of Digital Media Research Centre, DMRC, of the Lagos State University. Follow him on Twitter: @AkintundeAkanni

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Nigeria’s bourgeoning population fuels child malnutrition

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frica is the second most populous continent with over one billion people in the world. From records, the greatest number of births in the continent takes place in Nigeria. In fact, a forecast at a point did project that by 2015; one fifth of the continent’s entire births would take place in Nigeria alone, accounting for five percent of all global births which was relatively a reality. Presently, Nigeria’s population is put at over 180 million.

Most critical is the United Nations statistics which reports that 48 percent of Nigeria’s population is under the age of 15 – comparatively a country of the young. And notwithstanding the fact that the population of children under the age of five years currently stands at nearly 31 million, no less than seven million new-born babies are excitedly added yearly without considering the implications. Meanwhile, over two-thirds of the population lives below poverty line.

 

 

In human medicine, the human body essentially requires seven major types of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, fiber, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. Unfortunately, numerous families rarely have good square meals to meet up. On the other hand is high fraction that suffers malnutrition due to ignorance of dietary.

For instance, there are a whole lot of natural, affordable foods and edibles that can boost nutrition but either unknown or ignored.  Archetypes are grasshoppers which according to research have 20 grams of protein and just 6g of fat per 100g while crickets are good sources of iron, zinc and calcium. Amazingly, grasshoppers contain way more protein than beef with a whopping 72 percent protein content including all essential amino acids, and without saturated fat or cholesterol.

 

The most pathetic class is large poor families who due to ignorance have more children than necessary. Indisputably, unstructured pregnancies and births have continued to result to large families, regrettably, without commensurate livelihoods, thereby leading to often grabbing whatever is available for survival; with or without nutritional contents.

 

Instructively, nutrition or aliment, is the supply of materials; food required by organisms and cells to stay alive. Nutrition also focuses on how diseases can be prevented or reduced with a healthy diet and how certain diseases may be caused by dietary factors, such as poor diet, food allergy and intolerances.

 

Remarkably, the use of the ‘Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Food’ (RUTF); initiative of UNICEF has turned out to be a fêted relief as evidently shown in checkmating child malnutrition albeit costly. This was attested by health conditions of children that were hitherto malnourished but administered accordingly in the critical areas; Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in the northeast.

 

Nonetheless, the crux of the matter is that despite these interventions from UNICEF with support from the Department for International Development (DFID) in providing succours to the critical areas, about 258,950 children; boys and girls may suffer Severe-Acute-Malnutrition (SAM) in three states in 2020 according to Nutrition Sector annual projections. Reportedly, a budget of N5billion is hanging for the procurement of 258,950 cartons for the number.

 

According to UNICEF-Nigeria, funding has been secured for merely 29,314 cartons of RUTF with a funding gap of N4.4billion for these unfortunate victims. Sadly, nutrition experts avowed that children suffering from SAM are four to eleven times more likely to die compared to their health counterparts. Altogether, an estimated 2.5million boys and girls under the age of five suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition yearly in Nigeria.

 

 

Statistically, the Nutrition Survey reported that the prevalence of Global-Acute-Malnutrition (GAM) in children below five years is 11% in Borno, 13% in Yobe and 6% Adamawa, which indicates very high levels of malnutrition in Nigeria according to WHO (World Health Organisation) classification.

 

UNICEF on the other hand affirmed that one in every two child deaths under the age of five is attributed to malnutrition. And if not timely identified and treated, malnutrition has serious and permanent consequences in the growth and development of children. Above all, it causes irreversible brain damage and compromised intellectual capacity in adulthood leading to reduced productivity which accounts for estimated 16% loss in the Growth Domestic Product (GDP).

 

 

The peak is; according to 2019 World Population Review (WPR), Nigeria’s population will hit 206 million by 2020, and 264 million by 2030 – crossing the 300 million threshold around 2036. In absolute terms, Nigeria is projected to add from 2031 to 2050 an additional 224 million babies (21 percent of the births in Africa and 8 percent of all births in the world). Thus, Nigeria alone will possibly account for almost one tenth of all births in the world if not adeptly checked.

 

 

Understanding this demographic transition and conscientiously putting in place realistic interventionist policies will be helpful in securing a robust, thriving nation of our dreams. For instance, research had shown that in 16 African countries including Nigeria, less than 20 percent of women of reproductive age are acquainted with contraceptive methods, hence producing babies without restraints.

 

Sensibly, an indisputable practicable panacea is family-planning. By its ardent awareness, more women will practically have access to modern contraceptives, thereby reducing numbers of unintended pregnancy to the minimum.  In other words, promoting family-planning is a desideratum in addressing population upsurge. Similarly, sensitizations on diets and having small families to cater for will reduce child malnutrition to the bare minimum.

 

 

Umegboro, a public affairs analyst participated in UNICEF media-dialogue on Child-malnutrition September 25 – 28, 2019 in Maiduguri, Borno State. 08023184542 –sms only.

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Liad Tella: The man the cap fits

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Today, the 12th of October, 2019, all roads lead to Iwo, the Senatorial District Headquarters of Osun West in Osun State of Nigeria and birth place of Alhaji Liad Tella. This day, the retired Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, and former Federal Commissioner at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), will be turbaned as the Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwo.

 

The selection of Tella for the religious title by the League of Imams and Alfas in Iwo in conjunction with the Paramount Ruler of the ancient town and Deputy Chairman of the Osun State Council of Chiefs and Traditional Rulers, Oba Abdurasheed Adewale Akanbi, is unequivocally without contention. This is because, as an Arab poet once described Tella’s ilk, he is so eminently qualified for the position just as the position is profoundly befitting to him. That Tella is being honoured as Asiwaju Musulumi now is a belated recognition for someone who has been a vanguard of Islamic propagation and activism for the past five decades.

 

As one of the pioneers of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) as well as a veteran representative Islam as well as Muslim icons and scholars such as Chief MKO Abiola and Sheikh Adam Abdullah Al-Ilory (May Allah repose their souls) in Islamic functions both at home and abroad, I will say that his recognition as a symbol of Islam is long overdue though it is better late than never.

 

My path first crossed with that of Tella within the premises of the famous Markaz Arabic Training Centre, an Arabic citadel established by the renowned legend and internationally recognised Islamic scholar, Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory, whom I later served as Private Secretary in Agege, sometime in 1987. I had arrived Agege from Iwo in December 1986 to further my Arabic and Islamic education at the Tawjihiyyah/ Thanawiyyah level after my Idaadiyyah and secondary education at Markaz Shabaab-il- Islam (Islamic Youths Center) and St. Mary’s Grammar School, Iwo respectively. About three months after my arrival on a particular Friday, Tella came as usual to observe the Jumaat prayers at Markaz.

 

He used to be in company of Alhaji Femi Abbas, the well- acclaimed columnist with The Nation newspapers and Chairman, Media Committee, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). Alhaji Abbas is an alumnus of Markaz and former student of my father’s Arabic Centre, Markaz Shabaab-il-Islam, Iwo. Both Tella and Abbas were acquaintances to Sheikh Adam.

 

The duo had been regular visitors to Baba and everyone in Markaz Agege as teachers or stu   dents recognised their position as two gentlemen in whom Baba was well pleased. On this particular day, Tella was not in Markaz with Abbas but with one of his younger brothers, Alhaji Fatai Tella. Alhaji Fatai knew me very well in Iwo as one of his boys in the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, Iwo Central Branch, which he headed as President. Unlike Liad, who was Lagos-based, Fatai knows everyone in my father’s household more so as we prayed in the same Masjid at Aroworeki’s Compound, a stone throw to Belewo’s Compound where he lived then. It was Alh. Fatai who called me out when he saw me among my mates that hot afternoon after the prayers. Unknown to him, I had been nicknamed “Olooko” (the namesake) at Agege in deference to Baba Lagege who named me at birth after himself.

 

Calling someone Adam is like a taboo within Markaz premises and so everyone looked at Alh. Fatai with scorn and bewilderment! Alh. Fatai thereafter introduced me to Alh. Liad as the son of Baba ile Aroworeki, Sheikh Ahmad Adedimeji, the Otun Imam of Iwo and since then, I became one of Alh. Liad’s close protégés who usually visited him especially on weekends at his residence then at Alade Close, Jungle Bus stop in Iju Area of Lagos. Alh. Tella thus took me as son and I too adopted him as father and the relationship has been highly beneficial. At Concord where Alh. Tella was then Group News Editor and later Deputy Editor Daily, his office became a meeting point not only for Concord Muslim staff but also all Iwo/old Oyo State young men and women who recognised him as mentor and role model that he was. Besides, his home at Alade Close, Iju, too was a rallying point for those of us who saw him as a benefactor of immeasurable value. Alhaji Kunmi Olayiwola was Alh. Tella’s neighbour at Alade then as his flat was directly opposite that of the Tella’s. Olayiwola was to later become Concord newspaper’s Abuja Beareu Chief and now into media consultancy and insurance marketing.

 

 

Those of us who usually thronged his office and residence then include Abdulfatai Oladehinde, Abdulwarees Solanke, Tunde Akanni, Mojeed Jamiu, Semiu Okanlawon, Bayo Adeyinka, Engineer Mudasiru Abisoye, Yinka Tella, Abdullahi Adam Al-Ilory, Rasak Bamidele, Qasim Akinreti and Kayode Awobadejo among others too numerous to mention. I remember after my graduation from Markaz Agege and retention as both tutor and PRO for Markaz, I was fond of visiting him at home and office more regularly than before.

 

It was during one of the visits that he introduced me to the Concord Managing Director, Dr. (Mrs) Hamidat Doyin Abiola, who was then looking for an Arabic and Islamic teacher for her daughter, Doyin Junior. I started the lesson with Doyin but other Chief MKO Abiola’s children later joined, particularly children of Alhaja Bisi Abiola whose flat was then directly opposite Dr. Doyin’s. The children of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola (of blessed memory) also joined my class. If today I’m proud to say I was once a private tutor to many of MKO Abiola’s children, the credit should go to Alh. Liad Tella who facilitated my connection to that wonderful family. I also remember that on many occasions, Chief Abiola would walk pass the corridor in the building of his palatial house off Toyin Street, Ikeja, where we usually had the lessons and ask me if his children were coping well with their Arabic and Islamic lessons.

 

In fact, there was a day he walked in with Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, who was his running mate in the ill-fated 1993 General Elections and after both of them exchanged pleasantries with me and the children, Babagana Kingibe dipped his hands into his pocket and gave me a substantial amount of money in appreciation of my work and care to his principal’s children. It is also interesting that my part-time job as private tutor culminated in Dr. Doyin Abiola’s sponsorship of my first Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia) in 1993, the same year I got admitted into Bayero University, Kano   (BUK) to study Common and Islamic Law.

 

It was such a wonderful trip with Alh. Tella as Chairman, Osun State Pilgrims Welfare Board that year. Other pilgrims became envious of us close to him, the Chairman’s boys. One of the peculiarities of Alh. Liad Tella is that he is a pioneer and pathfinder of a rare breed in Iwo. He started something that is very uncommon among the Yoruba by adopting the name of his compound/ neighbourhood as his surname. Many people will not dispute the fact that the practice is uncommon among the Yoruba and Southerners generally unlike the Hausa who culturally adopt the names of their villages and towns as surnames.

 

Though examples are legion, names like Hassan Usman Katsina, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Abubakar Rimi, Maman Kotangora, Sani Kamba, Muhammadu Gambo Jimeta among Northerners are illustrative.

 

By adopting Tella, the name of his compound in Iwo, Alh. Liad succeeded in publicizing Tella compound and setting precedence in the annals of Iwo. Meanwhile, other prominent Iwo sons and daughters have since taken after him, such as Professor Lai Olurode from Olurode’s Compound. Olurode was the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos and former Federal Commissioner in charge of Training and Education, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Professor Attahiru Jega’s headship of INEC. Others who adopted the practice include Honourable Gafar Akintayo Amere from Amere’s Compound, immediate past member of the Federal House of Representatives who represented Iwo/ Ayedire/ Ola Oluwa Federal Constituency in the 8th Assembly as well as my present principal, who I was introduced to by no one other than Alh. Liad Tella, Distinguished Senator Adelere Oriolowo from Oriolowo’s Compound, the Senator representing Osun West Senatorial District in the 9th Senate.

 

Alh. Tella has lived a fulfilling life of service to Allah, to community and to humanity at large. He is a magnetic personality and devout Muslim whose lifestyle shall continue to inspire generations of Muslim professionals for many years to come. He has been a Muslim leader and now that he is formally proclaimed as such by the Iwo community under the Oluwo, I wish the man the cap perfectly fits many years of dedicated service to Islam, Iwo and humanity.

 

 

  • Adedimeji is the Senior Legislative Aide (SLA) to Senator Adelere Adeyemi Oriolowo

 

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Lagos, rains and road infrastructure

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Of late, in Lagos, the rains have been torrential with its attendant effects on the state of the roads and traffic gridlocks.

 

The roads under construction are worse hit, as they are heavily flooded. Understandably, the ever mobile Lagosians are not pleased with the mostly rain induced traffic situation. Plausibly, when flash flooding occurs, one of the negative effects is that it washes away the surface of the roads, thereby making them almost impassable. This often results into avoidable gridlocks that make commuting a dreadful experience.

 

Flash flooding; which is mostly a consequence of Lagos’ peculiar topography is, therefore, one of the factors responsible for frequent damages of Lagos roads. Fortunately, the ever listening Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo- Olu responded by directing that palliative measures should be carried out to alleviate the sufferings of the people. Consequently, over 150 failed portions of roads across the state have been worked upon. But then, the torrential rains won’t let the respite last.

 

In view of this, Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu has promised mass rehabilitation of roads immediately after the rainy season. He pleaded for time to ensure that the intervention would stand the test of time, as not much could be achieved while the rains still persist. Towards this end, two critical agencies of the state government, the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure as well as the Lagos State Public Works Corporation, have been working round the clock to make real the pronouncement of the governor. It will be recalled that in order to under score the recognition of the importance of free flow of traffic on the socio-economic development of the state, the Sanwo-Olu administration made traffic management and transportation the first pillar of its development agenda termed “THEMES”. Thus, one of the earliest tasks of Governor Sanwo-Olu was to issue the very first Executive Order on Indiscriminate Refuse Dumping, Traffic Management and Public Works.

 

This is quite germane to the issue at hand. Granted that the government has the responsibility to ensure that the roads are motorable round the year, the people also owe the responsibility towards taking ownership of public infrastructure in their domain. This will ensure that development is extended to all parts of the state, since less is spent on avoidable repairs.

 

Therefore, the appropriate question to ask is: After the government has achieved the rehabilitation of bad portions of the roads, what next? Are we going to take deliberate measures as a people and government to say never again shall we leave our roads to this level of deterioration? That, indeed, is the crux of the matter. By topography, Lagos State has a very high water level, as the Ogun River and her estuaries empty into the Lagos Lagoon to further increase the volume of water the smallest state in the country could cope with. The state’s largely swampy parcel of land makes road construction and rehabilitation a little more challenging and costly.

 

The ever increasing population of the State leads to increasing demand for property development for residential and commercial purposes. Many of such developments are on poorly reclaimed wetlands. Presently, new communities are springing up across the state, especially in Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry corridors where land is still available. The implication of this is that, instead of infrastructure development coming before properties are built, infrastructure come after communities have been founded mostly with little or no regards for Physical and Urban Development plans of the state.

 

Thus, as pressure mounts on government to provide infrastructure in the new communities, the existing ones in existing communities are subjected to abuse, resulting in quick deterioration of such facilities and the need to re-fix them.

 

This is the bane of the Lagos road infrastructure. We must, therefore, make concerted efforts to educate and enlighten our people on the dangers of turning the drainages into receptacles of refuse. For instance, the notion that the storm water will wash away refuse is wrong and misplaced. Irrespective of the velocity of the flood, it will not carry the refuse farther than the downstream. The moment the drainage channel is silted or clogged anywhere and inhibits the free flow of water, it stays on the roads for unnecessarily long time and affects the pavement of the road. In essence, our indiscriminate waste disposal is a major threat to road’s lifespan.

 

The quest for land has also led many to compromise drainage channels and canal bank ways; thus making drainage cleaning difficult. Also worthy of mention is alleged destruction of the roads by in- traffic- hawkers to slow down traffic to enable them ply their trade. It has been severally alleged that some hawkers dig the pavement of the roads at nights. Roads rehabilitated during the dry season have been found to develop craters overnight without any rainfall.

 

This act of sabotage is part of the heavy price we all are paying with dire consequences for time and health management. One only hopes that appropriate security agencies will be on the lookout to deal with such unlawful acts and bring the perpetrators to book. Evil triumph when evil doers are not brought to justice. Indiscriminate parking of vehicles on our roads is another threat to the lifespan of the roads because apart from inhibiting free flow of storm water into the drains, the portions of pavement that fall under the vehicles take time to dry, thereby weakening the asphalt.

 

Therefore, it has become obvious that we owe ourselves the responsibility of helping the government to make life easier for us to live by playing our parts in the management of public infrastructure and utilities. For now, one hopes that the rains subside early enough for comprehensive road repair works to commence. But then, we all need to work assiduously towards preserving public infrastructure across the state.

 

 

  • Ogundeji is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Works & Infrastructure, The Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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