An age-long adage acknowledges the fact that some men are born great, many achieved greatness while some had greatness trusted on them. Interestingly, any keen reader of his enviable story in the last five decades or more, would of course readily admit that Chief Afe Babalola is a unique profile in dramatic trajectory from grass to grace. In other words, ‘Aare’ is an ebullient and iconic personality who did not have the childhood luxury of being born with a silver spoon. He does not even fall in the category of those young men who had fortune smiling on them on a platter of gold. But, today, he is a highly respected professional giant, an award winning technocrat, a renowned legal luminary, a successful business mogul, a superb elederstatesman, a revered community leader, a compassionate and unrelenting philanthropist and, above all, a life coach and mentor to many accomplished gentlemen and ladies of repute.
Born 90 years ago in a humble agrarian family in the ancient city of Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State of Nigeria, Aare Emmanuel Afe Babalola has carved a niche for himself in the lexicon of success and social transformation, even though he did not pass through a formal secondary school education. For a man who only managed to acquire a basic formal education to have risen to the prestigious status of an excellent university administrator and a highly celebrated entrepreneur in the nation’s education sector, it is instructive that the compelling lessons and principles of his greatness should not only be celebrated but must also be emulated, especially by all well-meaning youngsters of this generation.
Afe Babalola had a unique life experience at his tender age which must have shaped his life commitment to industry and generosity. He lost his two parents when he was extremely young. Due to the economic hardship he had to contend with, he braced up for life conquest rather than accepting the tragic twist of fate. The young Afe Babalola made up his mind early enough to face the realities of life with a view to ruling his world as a consummate warrior. His determination to conquer his environment and earn himself an enviable placement among his peers prompted him to pursue his academic studies most diligently and relentlessly to enable him build an excellent, cutting-edge professional career in life, to create wealth in a legitimate manner, to help the needy and to contribute meaningfully to the upliftment of Nigeria and the world at large, such that his name and his lofty legacies might be written in gold on the sand of time.
Aare Afe Babalola attended Emmanuel Primary School, Ado-Ekiti, where he obtained his Standard Six Certificate. He is always proud to say that the very qualitative primary education he had was what served as a strong springboard for his subsequent educational attainments. After working for years as a pupil teacher, Chief Babalola enrolled for the Senior Cambridge School Certificate examination by private study from Wolsey Hall, Oxford. He later obtained the A’level Certificate of London University before he proceeded to London School of Economics and then the University of London where he obtained a second Bachelor’s degree in Law. Chief Afe Babalola was called to the England Bar in 1963. Same year, he became a Member of the Lincoln’s Inn, London.
Armed with the requisite certification to pursue a sprawling and volatile legal career with an informed bias in Constitutional Advocacy and Criminal Justice, Baba Afe started off as a Litigation Officer in the law firm of Olu Ayoola and Co. situated in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, Western Nigeria. However, given his penchant for freedom and the passion to conquer and dominate his professional world without let or hindrance, he established his own legal firm, Afe Babalola and Co. (Emmanuel Chambers) in 1965, while he was barely two years at the Bar. Over the years, by dint of hard work, professional focus and consistency as well as a very unique style of service delivery, Chief Babalola rose to national prominence and became a household phenomenon in the nation’s justice sector, having, at various times, served as an indefatigable and most brilliant Legal Consultant to the federal and state governments, political juggernauts, corporate bodies and several royal families across the nation for the settlement of sundry legal and constitutional disputes of national and international pedigree. To this extent, in 1987, the Legal Privileges and Awards Committee of the Inner Bar deemed it fit to elevate him to the highest rank in the legal profession in Nigeria, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The most intriguing character of Babalola’s personality is that in spite of his career accomplishments as a prominent legal practitioner, he felt that what could make him a fulfilled man was to have an ample opportunity to contribute morally, financially and educationally to humanity; both through his private philanthropic initiatives and also through government institutions. This was the insatiable passion that former President Olusegun Obasanjo saw in him when he appointed him in 2001 as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos. Having performed meritoriously in this enviable public duty for four years, he was reappointed for another term of four years. So, he held the position till 2008 during which he emerged and was decorated as the Best Pro-Chancellor of Nigerian Universities consecutively in 2005 and 2006. He was also a former Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.
Today, by the special grace of God, Chief Afe Babalola, the Aare Bamofin of Yoruba land, holds degrees from several universities, including Ekiti State University for the award of Doctor of Letters (LL.D) in 2002; LL.D of the University of London; LL.D of the University of Lagos; LL.D of the University of Jos; LL.D of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA); LL.D of the Kogi State University. In fact, he was the first African to be conferred with Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) of the University of London in 2015. Given his monumental philanthropic gestures and remarkable contribution to nation building in Nigeria, he was conferred with the prestigious National Award as Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and subsequently as Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Over the years, having been a consistent benefactor to the nation’s education sector, making contributions to the standardization of quality and the provision of enduring, world-class infrastructural facilities such as lecture theaters, auditoriums, faculty buildings, libraries and laboratories; and having garnered extensive skills and copious experience in university administration, Chief Afe Babalola envisioned the need to establish a First Class and up-to-date university to serve as a benchmark in academic standards and facilities for other universities in Nigeria. For this reason, an expansive World-class private institution, the Afe Babalola University, was established in 2009 and is domiciled on a very large expanse of land, precisely 130 hectares, in Chief Afe’s home town, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. The university offers academic programmes in six Colleges of Natural Sciences, Law, Engineering, Social and Management Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences as well as Postgraduate Studies. The institution’s College of Engineering is built on about three and half acres of land and is well equipped with sophisticated state-of-the-art facilities from Europe and the Americas and is reputed to be one of the largest in Africa. In the same vein, ABUAD’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences and its Multisystem Teaching Hospital is second to none in Nigeria, given the various medical facilities and the professional expertise with which patients are handled with utmost care.
Shortly after my Senatorial primaries late last year, I visited Chief Afe Babalola in his office within the university premises in company of my wife and some of my political associates to say a big THANK YOU to him for his invaluable fatherly support and for keeping faith with us always and in all ways. After the usual pleasantries, Chief Afe instructed one of his senior staff to take us for an inspection round the Multisystem Hospital and, believe you me, we saw a masterpiece of architecture design, an avalanche of medical infrastructure, some of which can only be found in first class hospitals abroad. A tour of the facilities around the university deeply revealed the in-depth passion, insight and vision of a foremost educationist, a well experienced university administrator and a dynamic and foresighted entrepreneur. To this extent, I wholeheartedly recommend ABUAD Teaching Hospital to the Federal and State Governments, families and individuals in Nigeria. Rather than travelling abroad on medical tourism and encouraging needless capital flights to other climes, let us be proud to patronize our own public and private institutions.
At a prime age of 90, Aare Afe Babalola remains a great pride and an illustrious ambassador of the people of Ekiti State, the Yoruba people of the South-West and Nigeria as whole. Here is an outstanding personality who has not only traversed and conquered different spheres of life but has also proved, in many respects, to be a great asset to his generation and to humanity in general. As we join the world to celebrate his 90th birthday anniversary as well as 10 years of monumental and unprecedented achievements of the prestigious Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) today, I profoundly felicitate with this icon and profusely thank him for making us proud in Ekiti State. I am proud to identify with his remarkable success anywhere in the world as well as the legacy of leadership and foresight his name and the institution called ABUAD have come to represent. It is in recognition of this that other accomplished and well renowned men in history, including our own enigmatic Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will stand beside Aare Afe today to be conferred with yet another honorary Doctorate degree of ABUAD. May this legacy live on and may the good Lord keep Aare Afe for us to continue to tap from his wealth of knowledge and wisdom as he continues to age with abundant grace.
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Back to my roots…
ast Friday I went back to my roots – Owo in Ondo State. Mission was to give Madam Felicia Aboyinbogun – Iye Bimbo (Bimbo’s mother) – a befitting burial. Just like Madam Aboyinbogun was my mother’s very close friend, Bimbo and I have been childhood friends. As they say, I walked into Owo on my head and not with my legs; meaning, I was born and bred there by Owo parents.
I left Owo for the first time in mid-1976, two years after passing out of Owo High School (OHS) in 1974 with Division Two. My first port of call was Ede, then in Oyo State but now Osun, to live with my elder sister whose husband, Mr. Olusola Omiyale from Igbajo, was a teacher at Baptist High School, Ede. My in-law registered me at the Labour Office on Fagbewesa Street, Osogbo and the first job they got for me was that of a Laboratory Attendant at Osogbo Grammar School. I rejected the offer. I never was a Science person. Next, I got the job of an Auxiliary teacher in the same school, which I accepted, and I taught English and Literature in Forms 1 and 2.
At OsoGrams, I was known as “Mr. Jeans” because of my penchant for jeans and high-heeled shoes called “Platform” in those days. I left Osogbo for Ilesa Grammar School (where friends called me “Odaju” – the Audacious One) for my “A” Level in February 1978 and passed the first-ever JAMB, getting admitted into the then University of Ife same year. While in the university, I spent my holiday regularly at Owo; usually together with Bimbo, who also attended Ife, and on occasions with another classmate, Olanrewaju Adepoju (Laresco) at Ipele.
At OHS, Laresco and I (Black Avenger) together with Victor Akinlose (Vicky Moro), Akintayo Akintewe and Monday Adodo formed the dreaded “Danger Five”. My father died in 1996 and my mother followed 10 years later. Since then, my visits to Owo have petered out. But thanks to technology: I have managed to keep in touch with Owo through the social club to which I belong – the Krown Klub, Owo. We have a platform and occasional visits to Owo, such as that of last Friday, have ensured that I am not totally cut off from my roots.
Last Friday, I found that Owo has changed in, interestingly, two opposite directions. I had to fall back on residual knowledge to pick out places and locate where I was going. On the negative side, most, if not all, of the magnificent buildings of yore have become a shadow of their old selves. Other more magnificent buildings have taken the shine off them. This is a lesson! There is no opulence you display today that others coming behind will not surpass. Whatever you build today, better buildings are coming to overshadow it.
Everywhere also displayed signs of the harsh economic downturn that wallops the country. For sure, our fathers were wealthier in real terms than those of us their children. They lived a better life and prospered earlier. They made achievements, built houses and established businesses at relatively younger ages than ours. Keeping aloft their legacies or maintaining their achievements has been difficult for coming generations.
Rural-urban drift also leaves telling repercussions on Owo. Many like me have relocated to the cities and our places and positions left vacant are being sorely felt. If you have read Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”, then, you will understand how the relocation of able-bodied young people from one location impoverishes that location while empowering and helping to develop their new-found homes.
Another reason advanced for the parlous state of our localities is the weakening of family ties brought about by new-found individualism. Rather than converge on the ancestral home as was the case in the past, the new elite prefer their own buildings, fenced round with barbed wires and made inaccessible to unwanted family members. The ancestral home, which once belonged to everyone, is left forlorn and abandoned to the weakest links in the family who do not possess the economic power to do the needful.
But Owo has also witnessed some development! New houses, more hotels, a university, a dual carriage-way that runs through the town and many more were evidence Owo has not been left behind in the scheme of things. Laresco took me round some of the on-going road projects. His summary is that Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (aka Aketi) is performing. And I remember that Yemi Olowolabi, the then Ondo State Commissioner for Information, had told me a few years back that no government in Ondo State since the return to civil rule in 1999 accomplished a fraction of what Aketi did in just one year in office.
Partisanship apart, Yemi should know. He was Chief Press Secretary to Governor Olusegun Agagu, now late. But Akeredolu suffers two vices: One is that he is a good governor but not so good politician, to borrow the words of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu while describing the erstwhile Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State. Ondo politicians are grumbling that Aketi is not putting money in their pockets. Truth be told, Aketi must find a way to do that without compromising good governance. It is a tight rope politicians must learn to walk without falling.
The story is told of a governor in one of the South-West states who went head-hunting to get competent hands for his government. Among those invited was an Americana who came and started building roads, hospitals, bridges and providing water in his local government, intent on turning it to New York overnight! When the time came for second term, his constituents rejected him! They complained that he did not put money in their pockets. He hurried back to the U.S. flabbergasted! Again, like Ambode, good performer but not so good politician.
Aketi’s second virus is that he shies away from publicity. He works but does not advertise his work. People around him say they have tried in vain to let him see reason. They say he insists his good works will speak for him! Amen! Until Anita Ward of the “Ring My Bell” fame took hold of the bell and rang it herself, no one rang her bell!
Last Friday also, my seniors at OHS, the third set that, in 1969, passed out of the school described by one of them, Pastor Jube Olawale, as Nigeria’s own Eton (for that was the founder’s goal and ideal for OHS), celebrated their golden jubilee on the school premises. They had refurbished a whole block of classrooms. The president, Dr. Bode Ogunleye aka Adinqua, also reeled out scholarship and prize-giving initiatives the set as a group and as individuals have initiated. The digital centre donated by another old student, Foluso Falaye, sits majestically within the premises.
Giving back is the name of the game. The river that forgets its source will dry out. I never met them in school (I was admitted in 1970) but I remember hearing some of their names and aliases from our seniors, such as Titi-kaka; Bobo-Bobo. I met them life-and-direct last Friday. Some of the old students (and their spouses) at the event were Tunde Fadayomi, Ajayi “Samuel Crowther” Ijadimibola, Bobola Owoputi (Bobo-Bobo), Pastor and Mrs. Kunle Saliu, Engr. Gani Lagundoye (Titi-Kaka) and his wife, Alhaji Nafiu Kayode Muhammed Apaokagi (and his wife), Comfort Femi Aiyetigbo (nee Lasekan) who was described as “Mother of the set”, Revd. Adebayo Gabriel Adesina (represented by the wife), Olori Olasinbo Famakinwa (one of the set’s moving spirits), Pastor Olorunjube Olawale and his wife, Alhaji (Chief) Owolabi Olufemi, Phillip Ojo, Kola Adekagun, and others who later joined the ceremony.
The school was adequately represented by students and teachers ably led by the principal, Mr. Bola Obameso. Interestingly, Bola is the kid brother of my bosom friend, Olajura Obameso (Barbarossa), who retired from the Army. The cultural display, especially the Owo songs, rendered by the students made my head to swell. May our culture not go into extinction the way we are going!
The 1969 set eulogised our founder and principal, Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin (now late), who later became governor of old Ondo State. We sang his favourite hymn – SOP Hymn Number 515: “He who will valiant be…” and held two minutes’ silence in his memory and honour, as well as for those of his wife, Babafunke, and members of the 1969 set who are deceased, some of whose names were mentioned. The set was to later pay a courtesy call on the new Olowo, who is also an old student, and on the traditional prime minister of Owo, High Chief Ojumu.
My own set of 1974 had better started preparations for our own golden jubilee!
What a stressful but memorable weekend! The bad state of the inter-state roads nearly ruined it all. And to think these were the same roads the Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, swore were “Not that bad”! Not only were they that bad, they were, indeed, death-traps!
Daura’s 80th: The burden of nationalism
The Psalmist said in the Holy Scripture that our span is seventy or eighty for those who are strong. The Psalmist was deliberate in identifying those who get to 80, and beyond, as strong. Mallam Mamman Daura turned 80 a few days ago. He is a strong man. A Roman General once said that when a man reaches the peak, he looks back at the road he has passed. In looking back, he wants to be sure that he made positive impact. Positive impact is the trail we leave as we work ourselves up the ladder of actualization. Mamman Daura has many of such trails.
Mamman Daura is different things to different people. To his children his is a great father who cares. To his grandchildren he is a wonderful and playful grandfather. To his wife, he is a most loving husband. To his associates, he is a great nationalist who seeks the utmost good of all. To those who do not know him, he means something different. But as it is said, dogs bark at those they do not know. To me, he is a great Nigerian who has given his all in the service of his fatherland. He represents a generation of nationalists who know neither tribe nor religion. He represents what every Nigerian should aspire to be. It is therefore not surprising that even at 80, he is still strongly working for the good of the country, and people, he so much loves.
Some Nigerians do not know Mamman Daura. I agree that it is not possible for every Nigerian to have a personal experience of him like I have done in over two decades. Those who have been closely associated with him know deeply, that he is one patriot who goes to bed every night thinking of what next sacrifice to make for the good of Nigeria. He believes that Nigeria was deliberately created by God to be the black man’s reference in positive values. For this reason, Mallam Daura will not spare any moment to ensure that only the good is delivered for the good of Nigeria.
At 80, one may expect him to slow down and rest more. The Daura I know will not do so. He believes that there is still work to be done and has been working almost at same capacity, like he has done since his youthful days when he started off writing, as a journalist, for a better Nigeria. So, from merely writing and articulating views on how best to put Nigeria in shape for her future, Daura found himself within power corridors, with the opportunity to translate those great ideas he shared, into workable deliverables for our country.
The result has been torrential with an upsurge in rice production and growing national capacity for self-sufficiency in agricultural production, Daura has helped, albeit behind the curtain, to guide the incumbent administration towards policies that have made the Nigerian economy to be counted among one of the growing economies in the world. He has helped tailor government’s policy directive towards diversification which has seen a gradual focus shift from petroleum to other sources of revenue. Though some Nigerians feel otherwise about the effect on these policies on their personal economies, there is no denying the fact, however, that sanity has returned to the economic front with the country now making more money through taxation.
Nigerians are also feeling the positive impact on the improvement in power generation and distribution much the same way like they experience growth on infrastructure development. These are not happenstance. They are the direct outcome of a mind that is deeply focused on progress rather than privileges. Those who have the rare privilege of knowing the force behind the incumbent government would appreciate my assertion.
Daura is 80, but that is a number. His age has not taken a toll on him mentally. His experience has become very crucial at this time when Nigeria is going through a transformative rebirth. Like it is said, a new broom sweep fine, but an old one knows all the corners. Daura as a patriotic nationalist has a very deep understanding of the ethnic diversity of Nigeria and has worked very hard to ensure that government taps into this diversity for nation building. That is where his experience comes to play as the unifying link in government.
Beside his patriotism and nationalistic approach, Daura is such a loving heart with an infectious warmth. He loves humanity and does not hide it. He won’t go to dinner table alone. That way, he ensures that those around him go to bed with a stronger hope for tomorrow. Those who have come across him can testify to this. He is kind and affable. What more can humanity asks for than to have someone whose empathy knows neither tribe nor religion.
I would say that Nigeria is very blessed to have Mamman Daura within its leadership circles at this time when it is undergoing a rebirth because his wisdom and counsel have proved vital in strengthening the country’s unity. Having attained 80, what more can one ask for him than to pray that God will bless him with good health, of mind and body, to enable him help place this country on the pedestal of progress. God can’t be wrong.
However, he lives with a burden. The burden of nationalistic patriotism is such that those who drive it are often misunderstood. They are misunderstood not because they communicated wrongly, but because people grow and live with certain fixations about others. Those who live with negative fixations need work more to liberate themselves from such traps. As a good communicator, Daura is also a very good listener. He listens to every complaint about life and living in Nigeria. He reads every report published and pays very close attention to details. That way, he is able to identify the demon that is always hidden in there. Very few persona at his age, have the strength and capacity to sit long hours doing this. Those who still do, do so out of love for whatever they are involved in.
Like I said earlier, he bears the burden of being misunderstood. However, those who work with such burden always laugh last. History is replete with the story of great men, like Mamman Daura, who were misunderstood while they worked hard to liberate mankind from the clutches that had been placed on them by bad governance. For instance, when Jesus Christ entered the temple to chase away those who had turned it into a market place, as recorded in the scripture, not many saw his action as a necessary cleansing exercise to return the temple to its natural role in the development of the relationship between mankind and the divine. The people were to later understand what he represented and what his actions meant. But it was already too late as he had gone to be with his heavenly father, who ab initio, sent him.
As things are, Daura deserves all the accolades befitting a nationalistic patriot with very strong and progressive visions for the future of our children. Nigerians also need to celebrate him for sacrificing his retirement to help stir the country to loftier heights.
Happy Birthday, Mamman Daura.
The place of the President and Vice President under the Nigerian and American Constitutions (3)
It was John Tyler that said “this Constitution was not made for a day, nor is it composed of such flexible materials as to be warped to the purposes of a casually ascendant influence.” The above situation can be likened to the on-going “private visit” by President Buhari to the UK, a foreign land, with a differing territorial jurisdiction, but where he is busy signing laws that govern Nigerians. This has more than ever before brought to the fore the unique place of the Vice President in a presidential system of government that we are operating. This is because the Constitution has specifically assigned definite functions to the office of the President and that of the Vice President (VP), with the VP standing in for Mr President in his absence. Today, we shall continue to unravel the place of the Vice President in Nigeria’s constitutional organogram.
THE VICE PRESIDENT IN NIGERIA
It is clear from the provisions of section 143 of the Constitution that the process leading to the removal of the President or Vice President is entirely that of the National Assembly. While section 143 (10) ousts the court from entertaining or questioning the proceedings taken under the section, section 143 (11) defines what would constitute “gross misconduct” for which either the President or Vice President could be removed under the section.
On the other hand, Section 144 provides for instances in which the President or Vice President would cease to hold office; while section 145 sets out instances when the Vice President could act as President. Section 146 (1) on the other hand, provides that the Vice President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason.
On other hand, section 146 (3) provides for what should happen in respect of the Vice President’s office becoming vacant. The subsection provides as follows: 146(3) where the office of the Vice President becomes vacant (a) by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal in-accordance with section 143 or 144 of this Constitution; (b) by his assumption of the office of President in accordance with subsection (1) of this section; or (c) for any other reason, the President shall nominate and, with the approval of each house of the National Assembly, appoint a new Vice President.’
As I have already stated above, the office of the Vice President is created by the Constitution. His appointment and removal from office are also provided for in the Constitution. Although the President had to nominate him as at the time he wanted to contest for the office of the President, and the Constitution also requires that the person nominated should be from the same political party as the President, I believe that the Constitution assumes that the President and the Vice President should maintain the same relationship throughout their term in office.
SPECIFIC DUTIES OF THE VICE PRESIDENT IN NIGERIA
Though, it can be contended that the role of the Vice-President is not sufficiently defined in the Constitution because it vests the totality of the executive powers of the Federation on the President, there are still some specific responsibilities assigned to the Vice-President under the Constitution. Some specific responsibilities assigned to the Vice-President qua Vice-President in the 1999 Constitution includes being the agent of the President in his exercise of the executive powers conferred on him by the Constitution; responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government previously assigned to him by the President; presiding over the meeting of the National Economic Council; to be the Deputy Chairman of the following Federal Councils established by section 153 of the 1999 Constitution, namely; the Council of State, the National Defence Council and the National Security Council.
The most significant responsibility of the Vice-President stipulated in the Constitution is without doubt that of succeeding the President if the office of the President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 or 144 of the 1999 Constitution. This provision of section 146(1) ensures that there is no vacuum in the leadership of the country should any of the circumstances enumerated under the subsection occur. He can assume the Presidency only when the elected President is incapable of continuing in office as a result of any of the reasons therein enumerated.
A review of the Constitutions of some other countries such as United States of America and India shows that they contain provisions relating to the Vice-President acting as President during the temporary absence of the President. Actually, section 145 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is nearly in pari materia with Article 3 of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
This is not surprising as it is an acknowledged fact that our democracy (including our Constitution) is modelled after the American version. The main differences between the provisions of Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution and Article 3 of the 25th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America are that there is no reference to the President’s vacation in the provision in the Constitution of the United States of America unlike the 1999 Constitution and the fact that the officer of the Senate to whom the President’s letter is addressed is the President pro tempore of the Senate unlike in the 1999 Constitution where the letter is addressed to the President simpliciter of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. There is a similar provision in the Constitution of India.
Accordingly, section 65(2) of the Constitution of India clearly states as follows:
“When the President is unable to discharge his functions owing to absence, illness or any other cause, the Vice-President shall discharge his functions until the date on which the President resumes his duties.” Section 146(1) of the CFRN is silent on the tenure of the presidency of the Vice-President. It may be reasonable to assume that the tenure of the Vice-President’s presidency under section 146(1) should be for the unexpired period of the tenure of the President who vacated the office. This conclusion can be justified. In the first place, the President and Vice-President are elected on a joint ticket.
Secondly, provisions of Part I of Chapter VI of the 1999 Constitution relating to qualification for election, tenure of office, disqualification, declaration of assets and liabilities and oaths of President applies to the Vice- President as if references to the President in those provisions were references to the Vice-President.
Thirdly, and more technically, the use of the expression “shall hold the office of President” in the subsection is definitive. In other words, it connotes a reference to the unexpired tenure of the President being succeeded. Indubitably, the 1999 Constitution is predicated on the principle of single executive.
This is evident from the vesting of all the executive powers of the Federation on the President by section 5(1)(a). The Vice- President, therefore, has no executive role except as may be assigned to him by the President, and as assigned by the Constitution. Nevertheless, it is indefensible to assert that the Vice-President is an outsider in the government. The 1999 Constitution, unlike the American Constitution, has numerous provisions as we have seen above, which ensure that the Vice-President is carried along in the administration.
THE VICE PRESIDENT IS NEITHER A SERVANT NOR SLAVE OF THE PRESIDENT
The Courts in Nigeria, especially the Court of Appeal have also done a great job in elevating the office of the Vice President beyond that of a mere servant or loyalist of the President who can be removed at the pleasure of the President. (To be continued). THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.” (George Washington).
I thank Nigerians for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s treatise.
• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN
2021 AFCON qualifiers: Kalu aims for spotlight as Eagles target vic tory in Maseru
Bordeaux winger Samuel Kalu stole the show when he scored the winner in Super Eagles’ 2-1 win over Benin Republic in their opening match of the 2021 African Cup of Nation qualifying match on Wednesday, and Manager Gernot Rohr will count on the forward to produce another sublime showing when they face Lesotho on Match Day 2 in Maseru on Sunday (tomorrow).
The Eagles fell behind to Stephane Sessegnon’s third minute goal but reacted well as Victor Osimhen scored a penalty before Kalu produced the biggest moment by dribbling past Squirrels’ defenders to score the winner late on in the game and shot Nigeria to the summit of Group L. The goal was Kalu’s second since he broke into the national team, and he will fancy his chances of scoring with more consistency now. Rohr seems to prefer captain Ahmed Musa or Moses Simon ahead of him in the left side of the attack but the coach never regretted his decision to hand the speed-star a starting role against Benin Republic ahead of the duo. Kalu had shown flashes of what should be expected of him when he mesmerized the defence of Ukraine in their 2-2 draw in an international friendly last September.
He formed a devastating trinity with Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze and they replicated that showing against Benin. There is no doubting the winger ’s ability; he has established himself as one of the best dribblers in Africa.
The 22-year-old, last September, was even adjudged the best dribbler in Europe top five leagues, ahead of PSG’s Angel Di Maria, Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe and Real Betis’ Nabil Fekir. The 22-year-old winger, who is in his second season with Bordeaux, has the highest dribble percentage in Europe. As at September, according to OptaJean, the Nigeria international had successfully executed 22 dribbles out of 47 attempted, putting him ahead of some of the world’s most talked-about players known for that.
He is quite versatile so much so that Rohr even deployed him as a right wing-back in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa held in Johannesburg last year but the youngster said he thrives more as a winger and a support striker.
”I can play both sides of the flank, I also play as a supporting striker,” he said. Lesotho are a very plucky side; they are quite difficult to play at home after they lost only once in their last five home matches but with Kalu’s speed and skills, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Eagles to break their defence and maintain their perfect start to the campaign. He couldn’t do much as the Eagles won bronze at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt after he suffered concussion a few days to the start of the competition, although he still played a part in the campaign. He will be keen to make this series his own time to shine.
‘I prefer woman living with HIV as wife’
With scientific breakthroughs, stigmatization associated with the people living with Human Immuno Virus (HIV) will sooner be a thing of the past. Quite a number of “undetected” carriers of the virus are having fun and enjoying their relationships. The fear that is associated with HIV has toned down considerably. People are now coming out boldly to declare their status to their would-be partners at the onset of their relationship. So far, there’s no cause for alarm.
A courageous, healthy looking man called me last weekend and asked to be hooked up with a life partner. He prefers a woman living with HIV or non-carrier who is ready to be with him as wife. What amazes me about this Abuja-based gentleman is his candour. He unashamedly introduced himself as a man living with the virus. In the course of our discussion, he revealed the details of his condition as an “undetected carrier,” meaning he could date or marry without infecting his woman with the virus. Consequently, his child or children won’t be infected either, despite his own status. He has this to say:
I contracted the HIV through my late wife. We were childhood friends before we developed our relationship to dating and eventually to marriage. I didn’t know she was a carrier until when she wanted to be delivered of our first and the only child. The blood donation I did revealed my status as an HIV carrier. Apparently it was too late to reverse the situation, hence I decided to live with it. Unfortunately, she passed on later as a result of complications arising from the virus which had unknowingly developed into a full-blown AIDS.
Thereafter, I decided to seek medical attention from Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja, where I still attend clinic appointments. Eight years after the death of my wife, I remarried. I disclosed my status to my new wife from the onset and she agreed to go ahead with me. When we wanted to wed, the church insisted we have to do a test which revealed my status but she told the church authority that she would still marry me despite the outcome of the result.
Initially, I was trying to use protective method for her during sex but she protested, saying she can’t get pregnant with that method. That was when I started having “direct entry” – unprotected sex with her and we had a baby girl in the process. Barely two years later, she decided to quit the marriage, and we eventually went our separate ways. My daughter was negative up till when her mom left. As at now, I don’t know their current status as we speak.
I have since remained single and lonely. I decided to take my health condition seriously. As we speak, sir, I’m very healthy and active as a man. I can date and remarry now. That’s why I contacted you for help through your Hook Up service. I learnt about it through some people and I trust that you will be kind enough to get a good woman for me. There are many women around but only a few are really interested in marriage.
Sir, it may interest you to know that some women living with HIV are on the prowl in town, catching fun recklessly. They behave that way because most of them have very low viral loads – which is “undetected.” Because I use my anti-retroviral drugs consistently, my viral load is below 20. The minimum load is five. Therefore, viral loads between 5 and 20 are much safe with partners with negative HIV status. Our partners can’t be infected, same with our children.
I would have proposed to one of the women in our circle (we do interact and socially meet because we attend the same hospital for treatments; and to be honest with you, we have constituted ourselves into a social group) but some of our ladies are not keen on family life. They are more wayward than non-carriers outside. I believe there are carriers elsewhere who might need companions or life partners like me. In order to avoid embarrassment, rejection or stigmatization, that’s why I prefer a woman living with HIV. Both of us already have shared knowledge and understanding of our health condition.
My health status is well known to my family members. And I don’t hide it from anybody I come in contact with. Many years ago, malaria was a killer disease, same with cholera but today, both can be treated by just going to a nearby pharmacy with less than N2,000. I strongly believe that sooner than later, HIV will be totally demystified just like malaria and cholera. Until then, we need the grace of God and the support of caring people around us to bear the cross of stigmatization, rejection and fear from the members of the public.
Sir, she can come from any part of the country provided she’s sincere and she has the fear of God in her heart. Let me know the details of what is involved to be hooked up and I will be willing to do them. I do sincerely appreciate you, sir, for your rapt attention to hear me out and show empathy for my condition. Thank you and God bless.
Findings have confirmed his position that he can actually date or marry without infecting his partner or children. According to i-base.info/qa/65, it states that when carriers are told that they’re “lower than detectable,” this is referring to their viral load. Put simply, it means that their HIV is under control. There’s more info about being “lower than detectable” and why it’s important. Another finding posits that “the standard blood tests used in clinics can measure viral load down to 20 or 50 copies per millilitre of blood. When aperson has an “undetectable viral load,” their chances of passing on HIV to a sexual partner is zero. As the campaign slogan puts it, ‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ or ‘U = U’. Going by the 2018 report, no fewer than 1. 9 million people were living with HIV in Nigeria.
In view of his healthy, active and safe condition, it is no longer much of a risk for any interested woman – regardless of her status, to go into a relationship and possibly marriage with him. God will be in charge, I will facilitate the connection and all will be well. Amen.
2023: Memo to the South-South
“The Igbo are in the South-East, they are part of this country from the First Republic. No one can put them aside; so when the time comes for the Igbo to be the President of Nigeria, nobody will dispute to it or stop them.” – E K Clark
The last two editions of Political Musing, a current affairs weekly analysis of issues in our polity on this space were centred on the Presidential power rotation along geo-political lines ahead of 2023.
The discourse was prompted by the needless agitation soon after the Supreme Court ruling of October 30 on the election petition by Atiku Abubakar and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which brought to an end the contentious February 23, 2019, Presidential election. The incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were declared victorious by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and they got the nod of the judiciary as well.
Despite the public perception on the election however the decision of the Supreme Court terminates the agitation. This is really not the subject of this memo anyway.
A peep into the two previous memos first to the South-West region and second to the North will to large extent help readers to decipher the message here. I will therefore advise those who had not read the previous memos to try and avail themselves of it either in my Facebook page or on New Telegraph website or their Facebook page so that we all can be on the same page as we proceed.
How far has the South-South region faired since the return to full time democracy in our polity in 1999?
This region is easily the richest and the strongest economy of all the geo-political zones in the country. The reason is obvious it’s the wealth base of the nation. But can it be said that these their huge resources have been adequately deployed to help alleviate the myriads of problems in the place? How has their politics faired since 1999, have they been shrewd enough to gain from their recompenses?
Political watchers believe that resource wise and even votes no President has emerged in Nigeria without votes from this region playing significant roles. They are also on record to have been very active in the national politics in the two main political parties.
But the essence of this memo is to decrypt the stand of this zone on the rotation of President ahead of 2023. Are they for power remaining in the North, or coming down South? If South where are they putting their coins, in themselves, the South-West or the South-East?
Ordinarily, it would be easy to say where the South-South people will favour for President in 2023 given political events of the last decade in the country, but in politics one plus one is not always two. By providence the region produced President for six years following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2009. Will they see this period as covering their turn for now and considerately supporting the zone that has not tasted it or will they jump into the fray the way some South-Westerners who have tasted it for eight years are also trying to do?
Political watchers believe that if reason and rationality have places in politics, the South-South should be stoutly steering for the South-East region that stood solidly behind them when their son was in charge and facing all the challenges of being seen as an interloper to the Presidency.
Today not a few believe that the South-East is facing some hard times politically in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling APC, because of the perception that the South-South candidate was theirs as well. It requires more educating to let average northerner agree that an Ijaw man like Goodluck Jonathan is not an Igbo after his mother gave him some Igbo names, Ebele and Azikiwe. The same way an average Igbo in the South-East village sees every northerner as ‘onye Hausa’.
This memo is actually not tailored towards examining the benefits of the six years sojourn of a South-South person at the commanding position, whether they were enough to quench their thirst at least in the near future, but it still need to be noted that critical infrastructures like East West road, Second Niger Bridge or Enugu-Port Harcourt road continued in its depilated conditions even after the reign of the son of the soil.
Notwithstanding the intentions and scheming of politicians and their parties from this region, key stakeholders under the umbrella of PANDEF led by the irrepressible elder statesman Chief Edwin Clark have been mobilizing and aligning forces with their like minds in Ohanaeze in the South-East, Afenifere in the South-West, and the Middle Belt Forum pushing for the restructuring of this country as a way of increasing efficiency and reducing injustice and imbalance in the land.
Whether what these leaders are doing and saying agree with the desires and aspirations of their politicians is to be seen in years to come.
Even while still gunning for restructuring as the first option, Chief Clark stands out unambiguously that the Presidency of this country in 2023 should be left for the South-East if really this country cherishes peace and is sincere about accommodating all. To him 2023 is the rightful turn of the Igbo.
According to the Ijaw leader, giving the people of the South-East region a condition that their presidency in 2023 could only be guaranteed and achieved if they vote for President Buhari in 2019 was unnecessary and must be condemned in all its ramifications.
The elder statesman was reacting to a statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, that only the South-East endorsement of Buhari’s re-election will secure their presidency in 2023.
But Clark said: “That is a very unusual statement. Is it a threat or an appeal? Nigerians will always vote for the candidates they believe in, candidates that will rule Nigeria without any trouble, without religious fanaticism, someone who doesn’t believe in ethnicity, somebody competent enough, healthy enough to rule Nigeria.”
It could therefore be safe to say that the position of Clark above reflects the wishes and aspirations of most South-South person especially those desiring fairness and equity in our system but to what extent are they on the same page with their ambitious politicians?
This memo therefore is intended to warn the region against playing into the hands of some greedy and ambitious politicians from the North and South-West by not standing with the view of their leader Clark that 2023 Presidency should go to the South-East for stability and good conscience. It’s only when the South-South lend their voice to the South-East will the 2023 project be realizable. If there is no unity among these two vital brotherly regions politically, all their advantages will remain untapped and could open the zone for political vandals to cannibalize. A lot of the resources of this region have been deployed in the making of Presidents from the other regions; can they say they have gotten a reciprocal treatment for all their political charity?
The journey to a better Nigeria if it must be in our time must be anchored on justice, equity and fairness. Anything to the contrary even if it seems to be working will be like a good design placed on a poor foundation.
Barring any political development in the country, this four serial memo which started a fortnight with South-West will be concluded next week with a memo to the South-East. God bless Nigeria.
Nigeria’s houses of horror
ouses of horror were recently unearthed in various parts of the country, starting in the North before berthing, last week, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and largest city in West Africa. Oyo State police boss, Shina Olukolu, was quoted as describing the Ibadan house of horror as “man’s inhumanity to man”. All manner of occultist and satanic practices take place in those houses of horror. Only God knows how many destinies have been truncated, careers ruined, lives lost and homes wrecked by the evil operators of such houses and their patrons.
To be sure, they have powerful backers. The highly-placed patronise them for their diabolical wares and such conscienceless but powerfully-connected people are always at hand to ensure that the law is thwarted and the cloak of immunity woven around the vile elements that, otherwise, should have been made to face the full wrath of the law. Ibadan, once again, may not be a different kettle of fish.
We are no strangers to horror houses. We all were living witnesses to the Okija shrine debacle. The principal actors remain till today firmly ensconced in the corridors of power. A politician caught naked bathing with what was suspected to be human blood is today the speaker of a State House of Assembly. Apart from the official oath of office taken publicly by public officers, Nigerians know that there is another more powerful, more efficacious, and more dreaded secret oath that is administered before anyone can be allowed into the inner caucus of power. This is where satanic mediums and their patrons derive their power, relevance, toga of the untouchable and invincibility.
Their other source of power and influence is the gullibility and illiteracy of our people who even take their wards to the horror houses for “training”, “healing” or what-have-you! It was to such circumstances that we lost Super Eagles superstar, Rashidi Yekini. Remember? Relations said Rashidi was mad. The guy said he was not. He might have been a recluse but he troubled no one. One day, his relatives swooped on him, tied his hands and legs and hauled him into a house of horror called “healing” home. Rashidi had died before even his “healers” knew the pedigree of who was in their hands. How many Rashidi Yekinis have we lost to horror houses nationwide?
Governor Seyi Makinde’s response to the unearthing of the Ibadan house of horror was prompt and apt. He visited the scene – embarrassingly, it is purportedly a mosque, a so-called place of worship called Olore Central Mosque. That name is euphemism personified. Olore (Oloore) in Yoruba means the harbinger of goodness and dispenser of favour. To be sure, it is not only mosques that advertise God or Allah today but worship Satan. How else can we describe the case of five “pastors” using the same contortionist to demonstrate their miracle-performing “prowess”? Are the so-called pastors in chains already or do they still walk free, holding court?
That is the problem with Nigeria! Nothing shocks us anymore! We have all developed a thick skin. We do not do diligent follow-up. We do not punish offenders. And where offenders go unpunished, impunity reigns. Very soon, it becomes, “if you can’t beat them, join them!” I must confess that an avid reader prodded me from my “siddon look” to do this story.
His story: In 1984 I was returning home from (secondary) school and had to pass in front of the Olore Central Mosque. Suddenly, some men came from nowhere, hit me with something and dragged me inside the building. I was hauled before their boss. He asked me for my name. I gave him a fake name. He gazed straight ahead of him; looked at the ground and then ordered them to throw me out. Outside, I stood unconscious.
“Then I sauntered into Agbala Daniel next door and demanded to see the pastor. They said ‘Mama is sleeping’ I waited, my head howling and my body shaking. When they saw my comportment – a child – and I wouldn’t go and come back as they had counselled, they went and woke Mama up. I told her ‘Please, pray for me’. She did and then poured water on me. I regained my consciousness. That was 34/35 years ago. I couldn’t have been their first victim. Imagine how many must have fallen prey in that spate of time.
“Sometime in 2008 when the atrocities of the same people came into the open and government wanted to do something; it was reported that a prominent Islamic leader of Ibadan origin, now late, intervened. Now, that the same people have again been exposed, religious leaders are reportedly also coming together to sweep the case under the carpet. For how long will this continue?”
It will not continue! Governor Makinde has ordered the demolition of the house of horror parading as a mosque, as it was rightly described by the governor. Conscionable Muslims must understand this and distance themselves from Olore’s atrocities. More than that, true Muslims must be really angry that their name, religion and faith have been wilfully abused and unabashedly desecrated and must see the need to come out clean. They must, therefore, be in the forefront of those who will ask – and ensure – that vile elements are brought to book. Otherwise, they suffer double jeopardy. They will be treated not just as accessory after the fact of all the hideous crimes allegedly committed at Olore; they will also be treated as the proverbial abetter of crimes, who deserve a heftier punishment than the criminal himself. Religion or religious affairs must be separated from crime and criminality, again, as Makinde aptly stated.
A total of 259 inmates were rescued at Olore. Makinde has taken them into safe homes and ordered their treatment and rehabilitation. That is the first step; next is the prosecution of the offenders. And what is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Justice delayed – to both sides – is justice denied. CP Olukolu has given his word that justice would be served; Gov. Makinde similarly. If this proves not to be so in the end, citizens’ trust and confidence in government will be shaken while getting the support and cooperation of the same people shall become an uphill task. I will, however, want Makinde to understand that it is not the case that people have not spoken out about Olore and such other houses of horror in Ibadan; the unfortunate thing is that the appropriate authorities have failed to act again and again.
In The PUNCH of February 23, 2008, Akin Oyedele, the then Oyo State correspondent of the newspaper, wrote a story on Olore and other Ibadan houses of horror titled: POLICE UNCOVER ANOTHER IBADAN HOUSE OF HORROR WHERE INMATES EAT DEAD COLLEAGUES. Excerpts:
The Oyo State Police command on Friday (February 22, 2008) uncovered another illegal detention camp in Ojoo area of Ibadan where at least 60 inmates were said to have been tortured to death and buried secretly in the last two years.
Against their wish, the victims claimed that they were turned to cannibals as they were forced to prepare and eat the remains of their dead colleagues with their captors. The police said 92 inmates were rescued from the centre after spending between three days and seven years while 11 suspects working with the prime suspect, Alfa Mohammed Olore, were arrested…
Exhibits recovered from the suspects were three cars, N32,000, three spades, concoctions, a jar of black soap, plastic container with reddish water allegedly drained from the corpses of the dead inmates…
Parading the inmates and suspects at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad on Saturday, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of the command, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom, said the latest discovery was shocking. This is coming on the heels of the arrest, last Friday (February 15, 2008), of an Islamic teacher, AbdulGaniyu Imoniyi, who operated an illegal detention camp at Eleta, Ile-tuntun area of Sanyo where 23 victims were rescued. Another Muslim cleric, Alfa Ali Ademola, was arrested at Orogun area of Ibadan, last week for allegedly torturing a trainee to death.
On Saturday, an Islamic leader, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao, was one of the early callers at the SARS… The Muslim leader declined press interview during the brief period he stayed at the SARS while he assured the agitated victims, “Don’t worry; they will give you food,” before departing the venue.
The AIG admitted that pressure was mounted on him by some clerics… He said, “I don’t know what Ibadan is turning to… When I was in Abeokuta, two of my friends, an engineer and a doctor, came to Ibadan and disappeared. Who knows whether they ended up in one of these centres?”
There you are, Governor Makinde! It is not that people have not spoken out. It is not that the authorities have not been aware all along. It is just that the needful has not been done. Now, the ball is in your court! Will you dare to be different?
Edo political conundrum (2)
Coincidentally, today marks the 3rd year anniversary of Governor Godwin Obaseki in office, but I am not going to dissect his adventure thus far. That will be an assignment for a later date. Let me continue from where I stopped last week, the Iyamho debacle. The Iyamho show of shame has been given different interpretations and connotations with accusations and counter-accusations followed by sky-rocketing rebuttals, depending on what cylinder one is firing from. The governor who spoke about pursuing peace, refused to pick the phone calls of his boss, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who declared that his calls to Governor Obaseki, rang out. The Iyamho show of shame has a tinge of embarrassment to it, with a cincture of mutual suspicion. First, is the Oshiomhole angle. Second, is the Obaseki/Shuaibu angle.
The common denominator is the love lost, which led to some unhealthy conducts more on the part of the state government and partly Oshiomhole’s side. It is this love lost that breached the protocol in the entire scenario. Information has it that Governor Obaseki attended the Friday 1st November, 2019 Convocation Lecture without extending courtesies to his National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole at the latter’s home. It snowballed into the macabre theatre that played out the following day which has now been outsourced to professional hirelings, government bootlickers, naysayers, coupon clippers and renters, to further the ugly narrative. Even at that, a discerning mind would easily see the loose end. If there was the usual camaraderie, on arrival, both the governor and his deputy would have proceeded to the residence of their National Chairman to pay the usual courtesies and from there, all the dignitaries including their host, would ride in a bus to the venue for the day’s business.
So, the love lost became the catalyst for the show of shame. Even at that, I am yet to reconcile the rationale for the deputy governor’s decision to subject our collective psyche to such dangerous ride. As a number 2 citizen of the state, his total package should worry all of us. He belongs to us as our number 2, the same way the governor belongs to us as our number 1 in the state. Riding on top of motorcyle on that busy Okpella-Benin highway exposed all of us to undue hypertension. What if peradventure, God forbids, any of those trucks’ drivers plying that road failed to apply his brakes, and decided to ram into those motorcyclists, including that of the number 2? What would have been the explanation? There have been many instances of brake failure and mindless carnage on that ever-busy road by heavy duty long trucks by no ordinary design of their own. What moral lesson was the Deputy Governor trying to communicate to the average graduand of the university? What was the motivation for mobilising such huge and unruly crowd to the extent that the soldiers and police would shoot teargas canisters to disperse them? Was that supposed to be a role model display or a condemnable act bearing in mind the theme and environment of the event? Was it proper for the Deputy Governor to climb a make-shift podium to give directive to the crowd like a movie director?
A usually serene, small, university community like Iyamho would expectedly become boisterous seeing such a huge, campaign-rally type of crowd on a day that should ordinarily be for merriment by parents and their graduating children. Containing such already charged atmosphere would also be a tall order, not when teargas canisters had been fired to create additional panic. Now, in the midst of such charged atmosphere, the event ended and the governor decided to accompany other invitees to the residence of his boss, the National Chairman, bearing in mind he never extended such courtesy a day earlier. It is expected that those imported “okada” riders and thugs would naturally accompany their leaders to Oshiomhole’s residence chanting 4+4, in full obeisance to the salutary lure for second term. Expectedly, there is already a “home-grown” crowd at the entrance to the residence of Comrade Oshiomhole. Only naivety would think otherwise. You are bound to have contestation or “balance of terror” between the imported and the home-grown crowds. Any security conscious person on advance duty ought to have properly communicated this situation to the governor and his entourage, knowing full well that both actors have not been in the best of terms for sometime now.
The personal security details of the governor failed in their responsibility of proactive trouble-shooting. The simple doctrine in VIP movement is to think ahead of your principal and see if any intending atmosphere is suitable enough to accommodate a hitch-free entry for your principal. The governor’s security details ostensibly became part of the crowd and part of the problem, thus making the entire situation uncontrollable. It is one thing for you to mobilise crowd to an event, managing them to behave in a most civilised manner, often times, becomes herculean. Did the Deputy Governor depart the scene on “okada” the same way he came with them? The answer is no. He was reportedly inside the bus that conveyed other dignitaries to the residence of Comrade Oshiomhole. He left the imported crowd in the hands of the “home-grown” crowd and zoomed off with his principal. The end product was the battering and smashing of windscreens that later became relics of the encounter. Lowering the standard of public office as exhibited by the Deputy Governor is morally reprehensible, given the assignment of that day. If what the Deputy Governor wanted was a show of political strength and bravado in Oshiomhole’s domain as a mark of political independence, he got his fingers burnt and thoroughly embarrassed his boss, the governor, the state and other invited dignitaries. By the time the security agencies profile and analyse those amateur videos, they would be able to place their hands on the jar.
I am enthralled by Comrade Oshiomhole’s reported phone calls to the governor and other dignitaries few minutes after the ugly incident was brought to his attention. The only sore thumb was Oshiomhole’s declaration that he didn’t actually invite the governor. That was off the mark. Not responding to Comrade Oshiomhole’s calls was another off the mark on the part of the governor. In the african tradition, the visitor or guest is the head of the house because of the respect we accord those who visit us. I am sure that was the motivation for Oshiomhole’s calls to the governor to extend his apologies. He didn’t stop there, he also personally apologised to the governor and other dignitaries including the revered Oba of Lagos, through press interview, over the untoward behaviour of the errant youths. That apology, to me, was the hallmark of humility against the background of the love lost between the two major actors. Going further to join issues with his political son was another off the mark chronicle. He should simply have called for the State Commissioner of Police and the Department of State Services to investigate the matter and come up with a report, after all, both agencies have their men on duty on that fateful day.
Talking seriously, as a student of power, ingratitude has its own consequences. The addictive properties of power often make its distribution suffer certain deprivations and end up creating frictions between godfathers and godsons. In the Edo scenario, I have read a couple of very misleading, ill-informed commentaries as the rationale for the seed of discord that has germinated between Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole. They called it “refusal to share money”, a cheap blackmail, loaded in baloney, a banality that is neither here nor there. The Edo debacle is purely a function of ego, pure and simple. As a muslim who believes in the efficacy of my five times prayers, it is becoming a motto on the lips of people to offer this prayer line: may your case never be like that of Oshiomhole and Obaseki. Often times, you hear a deafening sound of A-M-E-E-E-E-N. Why is the prayer that instructive and disturbingly so? It is because of the robust relationship that hitherto existed between the two of them for eight solid years when Godwin Obaseki served as Economic Advisor to Oshiomhole and the level of decay it has suffered just within three years.
No one would have contemplated that Governor Obaseki would derive the balls to confront an Oshiomhole whom he often offered the honorific salutation of “yes sir”, “yes sir” in those years. Coupled with this, is the current role of the Deputy Governor, Phillip Shuaibu, a once political son of Oshiomhole, who has now chosen power in place of long held relationship. They say you do not know the true depth of a man’s character until power and money are thrust upon him. Power! Power!! Power!!!. What a crazy aphrodisiac that makes men blind to their real intentions and derobe their sense of humanity when faced with the lure of high office. I am yet to reconcile in retrospect why Comrade Oshiomhole would have to withdraw Phillip Shuaibu from the House of Representatives and made him Obaseki’s running mate, when there were better, intellectually mobile and cerebral minds from Edo North who could have filled the opportunity. Power, they say, works in an uncommon fashion.
If the opportunity presents itself, would Oshiomhole be willing to do same? That is the lesson of history and experience. I now hear the unprintable names Oshiomhole is being called by those beneficiaries of his compelling lobby and argument. Some say it is the law of karma at play, others say it serves him right, yet some say, it is a lesson for those who tend to serve power ala carte. Obaseki got his hands on power ala carte, right from the oven of Oshiomhole’s kitchen. Having been fed with the menu of some ideological precepts, he has now built his own army of praise-singers and colony of clapping youths who deafen our ears with suffocating chants of 4+4. In the inner recesses of power, especially in Nigeria, sustaining the drive becomes a distraction and money guzzling adventure, but from Obaseki’s body language, he seems ready to break the till to prove a point that he indeed is the real King on the throne. Power and its allure presents intoxicants for those who wield it and gives ingratitude a new meaning….
To be continued….
Atiku: They gave him a false sense of hope
fter the Supreme Court threw out the legal challenge by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the February 23, 2019 presidential poll last week, two things flashed across my mind. One was a song, the other, a quote from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I’d read over 40 years ago.
First, the song:
The strife is o’er, the battle done,
The victory of life is won,
The song of triumph has begun,
And then Shakespeare, as Macbeth was confronted by Macduff at the battlefront, and the former realized he had been fooled by the witches who had predicted that no man born of woman could ever kill him, and that he could not be defeated in any battle “till Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.”
Macduff told Macbeth that he had been “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb, and was not biologically delivered as babies are. The advancing soldiers also bore before them trees they had cut from Birnam Wood, which meant the forest had virtually relocated to Dunsinane. Macbeth, confronted with defeat, had declared:
“And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense,
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope.”
Macbeth had been fooled, just as it happened to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who had been hoodwinked into believing that he was President already, before the February 2019 election.
Who were those that paltered with Atiku in a double sense? Who were the people that lured him into a losing battle? Who were those who told him he was on a giant horse, not knowing that he was riding on a cockroach? Let’s do a checklist.
Olusegun Obasanjo, and his foreign cohorts. The former president was the one that ruined Atiku Abubakar most, when they fought a bitter battle as they served together in government. Obasanjo wrote books, granted interviews, where he poured vitriol on his former deputy. He described him in words that won’t make you buy Atiku for 10 kobo. In fact, he said God should punish him if he ever supported Atiku for president. And that lasted for about 10 years.
Suddenly, with just months to the 2019 election, Obasanjo came singing another tune. He said he had forgiven Atiku, and started calling him “my President in waiting.” Were Nigerians fools? Can you approbate and reprobate at the same time? Can you strip a man naked in the marketplace, and cover him up in the bedroom? The damage would already be done. And so it was with Atiku.
Yes, Obasanjo has some clout, particularly internationally. He swung into action, trying to mobilize the international community behind his candidate. Some people followed him, and Atiku thought the deed was done. But they didn’t reckon with the hurricane called Muhammadu Buhari. The cyclone force was too strong, and it simply cleared everything in its path. It was a bitter lesson that the challenger learnt too late.
Obasanjo had always decided who should, and shouldn’t be President, right from the first time he left power as a military ruler in 1979. He was instrumental in some ways to the emergence of Shehu Shagari, Umaru Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan, as presidents. He also contributed to pulling them down later with his mouth. By this year, Nigerians were simply tired of the overbearing attitude of the Otta chicken farmer. They thus refused to buy the candidate he had earlier rendered toxic, and was selling to them in borrowed robes.
Who fooled Atiku again? The Atikulators. And who are they? People who flocked after the candidate for many reasons, none of them altruistic. They were those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption. They wanted business as usual, and it should be anybody but Buhari. So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat, if they had been told that the animal could get Buhari out of power. They put their money on the wrong horse, gambled, and lost.
Before the election, you saw and heard the Atikulators everywhere, boasting of how they were going to wrest power in the country. They were all over the place. In offices, market places, churches, mosques, schools, television, radio, newspapers, almost in all traffic lanes of life. And they fooled their principal. He backed them up with piles and tons of cash, in major currencies of the world. To quote President Buhari, “they spent so much dollars, that the currency became devalued.” For Atiku, anything that money cannot do is not doable. Money answereth all things. He threw in more and more. But for the Buharists, it is not about money, not even a bottle of soft drink or water. It is about conviction. It is about integrity and accountability. It is about building a new country, devoid of greed and rapacity. So we followed the Mai Gaskiya (honest man) all the way. Nothing could be articulated against him. Not possible.
Again, the marabouts, prophets, some pastors and preachers. Yes, let me group them together, including the witches and wizards. They formed a confederacy, and said Atiku would win. Who is it that says anything when the Lord has not spoken? The marabouts collected money handsomely, and pronounced Atiku king. They did not tell him he would be king on an empty throne. The preachers, across the major religions, because of personal hatred, and possibly inducement, gave evil and false messages. They began to proclaim that Atiku was the messiah, when God had not said so. And the PDP candidate believed them. He felt there was no way he could ever lose the election. But he didn’t know that lying tongues were in action. The preachers had become inhabited by lying spirits, modern day Zedekiahs, who prophesied falsehood (1 Kings 22:11). They led Atiku to political perdition.
The social media. Populated by people with exaggerated sense of worth, they think they can do and undo. I call them the vocal minority. If you followed only the social media before the elections, you would think the All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the centre was gone. They filled the landscape with so much wailing, till they became wailing wailers. We will do this, we will do that. Mere shooting of breeze. Superfluity of nothingness. Arrogant impertinence. The Buhari people simply kept their peace, while online warriors, most of who had no permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) continued to fire blanks.
A very credible and scientific study had showed before the polls that social media would account for only between nine and 11 per cent of the ballots. And not all of the votes would go to PDP. The two major parties would share it. But from the noise online, you thought Atiku had coasted home. He, too, must have believed the lie. He paid dearly for it with a broken heart.
The coalition that thought they owned the country. They also fooled Atiku. They include politicians, businessmen, high net-worth people. They had never failed in anything before. If they showed you a red card, you were out of the game. God’s judgement, no appeal. Such people massed behind Atiku. Those who had corruption cases before the courts, those who had lost power and were forlorn and disconsolate, those who had always profiteered from the system and who felt that Buhari had closed the sluice gate, they all came together. Buoyed by Atiku’s promise that he would empower his friends when he got power, they were already licking their lips. Soon, our snouts would be in the honeypot again, they told themselves. But those who felt they were Nigeria’s landlords had long been given quit notices by Buhari, and ejected. Atiku thought they were still somebody, and learned the hard way. What a pity!
Wrong permutations. That was also Atiku’s downfall. It is an inexorable truth that it is only the person/party that builds the bigger coalition wins the Presidency in Nigeria (and almost everywhere else). But before the election, Atikulators had come with this jejune permutation. They would sweep the Southe-East, the South-South, the North-Central, share North-East and North-West, as well as South-West. And Atiku would coast home. True? Well, dreams don’t cost anything. The dream eventually became nightmare.
Wrong strategy. It is on good authority that the winning strategy of the PDP had been based on data hack. That was why they fought tooth and nail for electronic voting, because they were allegedly in league with international forces that was adept at manipulation of election results. The plan was to intercept results as they were transmitted electronically, and record them for PDP. But it is said that if the abiku has learnt to die in dry season, the mother too would learn to bury in rainy season. The rest is history.
Many other forces fooled Atiku that space would not permit one to mention. People who promised access to the electoral commission’s server, when none existed in the true sense of the word. Some elements in the judiciary, who had made false promises. And the lawyers. Yes, we can’t but talk briefly about them.
Lawyers are professionals. They must ply their art, and make profit from it. They are learned people, while the rest of us are only educated. However, morality is everything. Why egg on your client, when you know he has the most useless case in the world? Nigerians knew Atiku lost the election. Lawyers too knew it. But man must chop. They encouraged the PDP candidate to go to court, despite knowing that the prayers were weak and improbable. Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo, said the suit was the worst he had ever seen in Nigeria’s history of election petitions. But the lawyers convinced Atiku otherwise. He lost at the Court of Appeal level, but there was probably more money to be made. So they encouraged a trip to the Supreme Court. Another ill-fated journey.
Sadly, after the Supreme Court threw out the case, Atiku was not gracious enough to throw up his hands in surrender. He called the judiciary all sorts of names. An opportunity missed to prove that he is not a sore loser and power monger. Where would he go next, World Court? Or as somebody has jocularly said, he may just decide to go to the lawn tennis court.
- Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.
Those with glass jaws shouldn’t throw punches
t is pulsating trying to ascribe any intelligent reason to why the chief spokesman to Muhammadu Buhari had penned a misleading account of the last presidential election in the country. But it wasn’t all together a bad idea. If anything, Femi Adesina gave a literary expression to how jolt to the hilt people at the Aso Rock Villa were about the inevitability of a win at the polls by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atiku Abubakar during the February 23 presidential election. This much, Adesina himself, confessed to when he said, “before the election, you saw and heard Atikulators everywhere… They were all over the place. In the offices, marketplaces, churches, mosques, schools, on television, radio, newspaper; almost in all traffic lanes of life.” That was both a candid and surreal expression of fear that the Atikulators were indeed poised for victory in the 2019 presidential election.
However, if we are to interrogate Adesina’s confession a little bit further, we would remove the mask and expose the chicanery that summed up the claim of victory by the APC and their Buharideens alike.
First off, before the election, the APC band was busy chorusing around town that there was no Nigerian alive who was up to challenge and defeat Buhari in an election. They soon coined the phrase of ‘No Alternative’ to ingrain the argument that Buhari was super human and to scare the opposition from challenging a second term ticket with him.
The APC and the likes of Adesina who are disconnect from the reality of the angst of Nigerians against the incompetence and cluelessness of Buhari-led administration told a lie to the president that he was loved and adored by all. Thus, Buhari and the APC entered the 2019 presidential race with a foolish and corrupted sense of entitlement about a towering expectation from the people that was nowhere to be found. The Buhari team, unlike the Atikulators, lured their candidate into an election without an honest evaluation of the strength of their opponent. At the end, they entered a panic mode and, using the instrumentality of power of incumbency, took certain actions to guarantee victory at all cost which ultimately compromised the integrity of the election.
The second irrational assumption is the claim that the Atikulators is an assembly of people who hate Buhari. According to Adesina’s words, Atikulators are ‘those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption… So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat…’
It is often said that people who live in the corridors of power actually live inside a bubble. If there are people in this country who think that there is anything close to aversion for corruption by this current administration, they must be folks like Femi who are too busy chopping and smiling, having a blurry vision of the cesspool of iniquities and the lack of rectitude in the system. Irrespective of what Adesina and his colleagues at the corridors of power might say, Nigerians already have their opinion about the vastness of space index for corruption in the Buhari government. And by the way, Femi and his co-travellers need to be reminded that those with glass jaws should not throw punches.
So, coming back to the question: who are the Atikulators? Perhaps Femi is a bit right when he says that they are people who didn’t like the policies of this president. Where he got it all wrong is that they didn’t have to dislike Buhari’s personality or identity in order to like Atiku because both men share same religion, ethnicity and even language. If these qualities are the reason why some people hate Buhari, it must go without begging that there must be some other reason(s) why the same people will prefer Atiku as a leader.
There is a popular American saying that ‘fool me once, shame on you!’ In 2015, many of the people that supported and voted for Buhari feel that they have been fooled. They didn’t imagine that the man they would be voting as president would divide the country in the approximation of 70-30 per cent. They didn’t believe that the man they voted would be clannish in his top appointments. They didn’t expect that a president who boasted that there would not be one corrupt person in his government will end up filling more than half of his cabinet positions with same ‘corrupt PDP people.’ They didn’t believe that the man who promised to crash the prices of petroleum products, but ended up doubling it should be trusted again. They felt betrayed by a man who promised them change but ended up changing his ways and his words!
One epic episode in the 2019 election cycle is the live NTA interview anchored by Kadaira Ahmed. The interview afforded Nigerians a life time opportunity to hear the man called Buhari unscripted. Were Femi Adesina’s pen not beguiled by the lucre of power, he would certainly not find any excuse for himself to still be a Buharideen after watching the man unscripted at the interview. Had Adesina been a mere mortal like the rest of us, he would have longed to see the Atiku episode of that interview and given the brilliance that the former Vice President showed at that interview, Adesina himself would have been an Atikulator. But he didn’t. Not because Adesina hated the ideas espoused by Atiku during the campaign trail, but for him and his cohorts at the corridor of power the refrain is: Buhari will NEVER relinquish power to Atiku.
The Atikulators are patriotic Nigerians. They wouldn’t have voted for a goat. I mean, they just wouldn’t have doubled down on the same mistake!
Again, there was a reference to what Adesina called hurricane Buhari sweeping everywhere across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Yes, he is right about that allegorical meaning of hurricane in Nigeria blowing through the bellies and wallets of Nigerians. But if by any stretch of assumption the hurricane was describing Buhari’s electoral popularity, it is safe to conclude therefore that our friend, Femi, is a fit for stand-up comedy. Or how could he have forgotten so soon what transpired in room 710 of Eko Hotel during his presidency of the NGE in the presence of my then colleague at Atiku Media Office, and now his colleague in the Aso rocked villa. But to avert a needless distraction, I am inclined to ensure that what transpired in that room is buried in the bowels of time.
Where in the world would Buhari of all people feel invincible in an election contest when the man could not trust where his own wife would vote on the election day.
Atiku went through the judicial process to express his discontentment with the election. He never called on his supporters to launch a violent attack, neither did he make a savage remark about baboons being soaked in blood. If Adesina feels what Atiku did is morally deficient, then it only shows the company he has been keeping of late is already telling on his vanishing ethos.
And talking about jokes, there is a piece going around the social media that smart people who serve in Buhari’s government have a way of losing it. For Femi, that is more than a joke. And when next you have the opportunity to read Femi be sure to have a bowl of pepper and salt by your side. It will be wise to leave our friend with a popular Yoruba saying that the sheep that flocks with dogs will end up eating faeces.
- Mazi Ibe is Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007
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