By Sodiq Lawal
Omo N’oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin recently travelled to Ile Ife where he visited the Ooni of Ife on Saturday, April 28. Before this historical visit, the last time an Oba from Benin visited the Ooni was 36 years ago.
According to a popular saying in Benin kingdom: “Oba no dey go transfer,” which simply means that Oba of Benin rarely leaves his palace where he sees to the day-to-day running of his kingdom. That is why Benin monarchs hardly go around.
However, our correspondent on a recent visit to Ile Ife, went to the Oranmiyan groove and learnt that there is more to the Oba of Benin’s visit to the ancient city.
It was gathered that the Oba of Benin actually went to collect a particular sword which all kings of Oranmiyan descent come to Ile Ife to collect. It is called the sword of victory and every king who is a descendant of Oranmiyan must come to the groove to collect the sword.
It was also learnt that while being given the sword, the king visiting will be prayed for that any war he wages he will conquer unless he decide to wage war against Ile Ife then he will lose the war. This is because no son is expected to wage war against his father.
It was also gathered that while coming to the groove to collect the sacred sword, any king coming must change from the regalia he is adorned with to a specially prepared outfit before he can step his feet into the Oranmiyan groove for prayers and collection of the sword.
This particular ritual was alleged to be one of the reasons the Oba of Benin went to Ile Ife and also seized the opportunity to visit the Ooni of Ife who was present during his coronation in Benin.
During the historical visit, Ooni, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II, and the Oba of Benin confirmed the common inheritance the two ancient cities have in Oranmiyan, the last son of Oduduwa who was said to have migrated from Ile Ife to become the first Oba of Benin. Oduduwa was also said to be the first Ooni of Ife.
On leaving Benin back to Ile Ife, Oranmiyan was said to have installed his son as the king of Benin thus the title Omo N’oba which when translated means the son of the king.
The Ooni was quoted to have said during the historic visit that: “Those of you that know the history know that the then Oliha came to Ife to ask that Oranmiyan be brought to Benin. There are details in history books. I am cutting out the details. It’s all in the history books and you can research that. He (the then Oliha) was the one that successfully won the right to escort Oranmiyan to Benin to become the first Oba of Benin.”
Let me say upfront that just because I asked for his sack, Dr. Azeez Adeduntan will, sadly, remain as Commissioner of Health until Governor Ajimobi’s administration ends. Very few Governors have the intestinal fortitude to do what is right if the point is made to them by others, especially public affairs commentators. But the longer he stays, the more negative publicity he would attract to a government that is working hard to finish on a better note.
Yesterday, May 21st, I parked my vehicle at my cousin’s house about a kilometer to the State Hospital, Adeoyo, which is located off Ring Road in Ibadan, and rode the Okada to the hospital. Before leaving the house, I dressed down a bit; removed my glasses, ring and wristwatch. I changed into bathroom slippers and left my car keys at the house. But I wore a hidden camera. I wore a hidden camera because the last time I wrote about some of the healthcare delivery system of Oyo State (http://saharareporters.com/2018/04/11/neither-azeez-adeduntan-nor-bayo-shittu-should-govern-oyo-state%E2%80%A6ever), Adeduntan, got overly defensive and threatened to sue me for defamation and libel, even though all I did was point out the speciousness in the answers he gave callers on an April 7th Splash FM radio talk show, and his general uncouthness while addressing citizens of the State who had legitimate concerns about his Ministry.
After paying off the Okada, I clutched the left side of my chest and contorted my face in false pain as I made my way to the Reception. No, I wasn’t having a heart attack. I wasn’t having any chest pain. In fact, I wasn’t sick at all. (Pere ni Olongo nji!) I was as strong as a horse! But I was feigning a heart attack. I wanted to feign a potentially serious illness in order see how the State hospital would receive me. A heart attack is about as serious an illness as you can get. And I wanted to appear there as an ordinary person.
It was 8 o’clock in the morning. The first thing I noticed was the unpaved parking area and the general untidy grounds within the perimeter of the hospital. If it rained, you would no doubt track mud into the buildings. Then there was the uncut and un-manicured weeds that were high enough to hide a goat. I was sure critters like rodents and snakes lived there. And the rancid stench of urine and feces that permeated the air as I walked closer to the building was strong enough to choke a person.
I made my way to the Reception desk and told the attendant that I needed to see a doctor, still clutching my chest and almost bent double. Nobody showed any sign that they cared about my “condition”. It was as if I was dealing with inanimate objects. I was asked if I had a Registration Card for the hospital. I didn’t. So, I had to pay N150 for the card. I was also charged N50 for an exercise book. I wasn’t issued the Registration Card. It was in the exercise book that the doctor would later write his notes. Of Course, I registered with a fictitious name.
There were about 50 people already in the Reception area waiting to see an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist – whatever you call the eye doctor. (I later found out that everybody in Oyo State who wanted to see an eye doctor and wanted to do so at the Oyo State-owned Adeoyo hospital would have to do so only on Mondays and Wednesdays. In other words, if you came to Adeoyo from Kishi, Lanlate, Ogbomosho or Igbeti on Thursday because you were about to go blind, tough luck to you! You would have to wait till Monday. And tough luck to you again if Monday was a public holiday.
Those, like me, who came in for other ailments trickled in in twos and threes. But there was no doctor around. There was no doctor around for those with eye ailments and there was no doctor around for those with chest pains. If my “condition” got worse, there was no physician around. And there was no ambulance in the entire premises to rush me to another hospital. This was my fourth visit to that hospital during which I did not see any ambulance even, though Commissioner Adeduntan told Splash FM, Ibadan listeners that the hospital had a 24/7 ambulance service.
I sat there in the Reception area, along with four total strangers who had also complained of chest pains, and watched how the attendants attended to the sick who had come there to seek their help. The depth of condescension was sickening. Once they sized you up as a poor person, aged or infirm, they treated you almost like phlegm. You could tell that these people had never heard of the Hippocratic Oath.
Through the window, I saw an old woman stooping to urinate right next to the perimeter fence. It reminded me of a time in 2012 when I took my mother to the same hospital. I had dropped her off with her aide and gone into town for about an hour only to see my mother as I drove back in doing exactly the same thing this old woman was doing. When she (my mother) was done, I asked why she didn’t ask to use the toilet in the building. She told me the attendants had told her to go outside and ease herself. Angry, I stormed in and asked to use the toilet. They promptly gave me the key. I was dressed like an important person that day. But dressed like I was yesterday, I decided to ask to use the toilet. The attendants told me to go outside. When I asked why I couldn’t use the toilet in the building, they told me the person who had the key was not around. So I asked what they would do if they had to use the toilet. They just looked at me and continued on with chatting about Ramadan.
At 11 o’clock, two doctors finally showed up – a male and a female. I was seen by the male doctor. He asked me what was wrong. I explained that I had suddenly developed severe clenched-fist type of chest pains. He scribbled in my exercise book as I spoke. I also complained of fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, discomfort on my neck, and occasional dizziness – all signs and symptoms of a heart attack. This doctor was not moved! I had googled the “signs and symptoms of heart attack” before going there. He did not touch any part of my body. He did not check my pulse and neither did he check my temperature. He did not ask me to open my mouth and neither did he look in my ears – all standard procedures when you are seeing a doctor. Nobody checked my weight. Within five minutes, he was done with me. He gave me a slip to go for X-Ray at a private facility on Ring Road.
As I was leaving to go for the X-Ray at about 1 pm, two eye doctors arrived – also male and female. I rode the Okada to the X-Ray lab where I met another queue of people referred there from the same Adeoyo. I paid for the X-Ray and rode another Okada back to the hospital at about 3.30 pm, only to be told that the doctors had closed for the day at 2 pm. All four doctors had closed for the day at 2 pm! Of course, the doctors were not able to see even half the patients who had waited all morning, some of whom were referred by the same hospital to come yesterday after not having been seen on their previous visit. For those with eye problems, they wouldn’t be seeing any eye doctors until Wednesday. And that’s if they are lucky!
These are some of the common “negligible” issues you find in most government hospitals in Nigeria but which contribute to the needless deaths that we have all over the country. Suppose I truly had a severe chest pain, shouldn’t a doctor know that I was a high risk for heart disease, probably about to have a heart attack or in the middle of a heart attack or just suffered one? And then to try to highlight some of these issues and have a returnee medical practitioner from the US threaten a lawsuit because his ego was bruised or his chances of becoming governor dimmed is just depressing.
I have been writing about Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system long before this base sycophant returned to live in Nigeria and well before he became Commissioner of Health. I have written a lot about infant mortality, death of women at childbirth, non-functional emergency response system, waste and corruption in the medical system etc.; and for him to think he can bully someone like me into self-censorship is the height ignorance. Below are just three examples of other pieces I have written on various aspects our healthcare system:
April 2008 – Our Misdiagnosed Healthcare System: https://www.inigerian.com/our-misdiagnosed-healthcare-system/
October 2017 – Aso Rock Clinic: A Microcosm of Nigeria’s Healthcare System: http://saharareporters.com/2017/10/12/aso-rock-clinic-microcosm-nigeria%E2%80%99s-healthcare-system-abiodun-ladepo
January 2018 – Medical Emergency (Non) Response in Nigeria: http://saharareporters.com/2018/01/18/medical-emergency-nonresponse-nigeria-abiodun-ladepo.
In these pieces, I criticized the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Minister of Health, Governors and even medical practitioners in general. No one has threatened me with a lawsuit.
National Security is another of my favorite topics and an area in which I have expertise. And in that area, I have criticized, in some of the most virulent language, three of four Presidents while they were in office (Goodluck Jonathan bore the most brunt), senior military officers from the rank of General all the way down and Governors. On corruption, I have criticized all kinds of rulers in some of the most unsparing and punishing manners. I think Ayodele Fayose and Bukola Saraki bore the most brunt there. And none of these obviously powerful individuals threatened me with a lawsuit, in part because they were smart enough to know that they were public officers. They knew that though they might be powerful, they held those positions at the pleasure of the people. Nothing, other than participating in politics (or the military, as the case may be) made them better than any of us who were not in their positions.
So, who is this bumbling Adeduntan that thinks because he is a Commissioner, he can go on the air talking down to people…taxpayers who pay his salary and who elected his boss; a mere Commissioner who, I am told, Governor Ajimobi threw the bone of the Ministry of Health so that he could use the time and experience to hone his political skills and build a base for bigger positions? In his eagerness to earn Ajimobi’s boutonniere for his gubernatorial candidacy (God forbid this type of person ever governs Oyo State), this entity took toadyism to a shameful low when he olieaginously praised Ajimobi’s contributions to improving the health sector and berated ordinary citizens who thought differently. In the US, any doctor (be it from a private or a public hospital) who insults or talks down to patients in public like Adeduntan did on Splash FM will get back to his office and find he has been sacked, and his license suspended. How do you call yourself a US-based medical doctor and you turn yourself into a groveling lickspittle…one which the governor doesn’t even need or want!
I have criticized Ajimobi himself probably more than any other Governor and he has never threatened to sue me. I am sure he knows I have applauded his achievements in my writing more than once. He is mature enough to know that no one is infallible; not the least a politician who cannot please everybody. I am sure he also knows it is never personal. It is always about the issues. Oyo State belongs to all of us and we have the right to protect our stakes in it.
But this Commissioner is just one of the mistakes of Governor Ajimobi. Just because someone lives abroad doesn’t mean they are better than home-grown experts. Stop going after the “shinny” objects living overseas. Some of them have been so out-of-touch that they will bring opprobrium to your administration. I have lived in the US now for 30 years, so I know. And just because someone scored distinction in school doesn’t make him a great administrator. Reuben Abati was a great writer but he was a horrible Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. It is this same two-bit doctor from a small Georgia town of less than 100,000 people that wants to come to a State of six million and start acting like he is some kind of a god?
I have heard about corruption in the Oyo State Ministry of Health. I have received documents from and spoken to those who are supposed to know exactly what is going on there. I am not going to write and allege what I can’t prove. So, I have encouraged those who brought documents to me to go to the police or write petitions to the EFCC. But once a formal charge is levelled against a public officer in that Ministry, you can bet your last naira that I will be the first to expose the unctuousness that has characterized its leadership. The battle to rid Oyo State’s healthcare system of callous “deplorables” who have no understanding of the Hippocratic Oath has just begun.
By Abiodun Ladepo
Ibadan, Oyo State
By Sodiq Lawal
The Ooni of Ife is seen as the most supreme or paramount sovereign in Ile Ife, which is regarded as the source of the Yoruba race.
Generally, he is recognised by his subjects as their spiritual leader and Chief Custodian of traditions. From ancient times, men have always occupied the revered stool except on few occasions where a woman did occupy the throne. Such was the case of Luwoo who was the 21st Ooni of Ife.
In the days of old in Ile Ife, a female had been crown as the Ooni of Ife. She was known by the name Luwoo.
Luwoo was the first and only female to be crowned a king in Ife. She was said to be the 21st Ooni of Ife. She took over the thrown after the demise of Ooni Giesi and was succeeded by Ooni Lumobi.
Her reign was said to be filled with terror and fear especially by the men. The female folks in Ife lost the opportunity of being crowned a king again just because of the wickedness perpetrated by Luwoo while seated on the revered throne.
She is said to be so finicky that she did not walk on bare floor. According to palace sources, Luwoo walks on tiles, clay tiles.
The residue of the tiles she walked on while she reigned is still available in Ife and other parts of Yoruba land she visited while on the throne because the tiles are unique.
The hand-made clay tiles Ooni of Ife Queen Luwoo walked on
How did she get these tiles produced? It was gathered that anyone who commit one offence or the other is ordered to make the clay tiles. They are ordered to bake the clay, and afterwards use their bare hands to break it into pieces and then lay it on the floor for the queen to walk on.
It is reported that the female Ooni was a beautiful and sophisticated queen who took pride in her physical appearance and that of her surroundings. She was also known to be the one to commission unique Yoruba custom of construction of decorative pavements; open-air courtyards paved the pottery shreds.
Queen Luwoo was said not to spare the menfolk when they offend her or her constituted authority. She was noted to ride erring men as horses for violating her laws. She was a terror to lazy people.
For her highhandedness, the council of obas in Ife convened and vowed after her demise not to make a female the Ooni of Ife again as they saw Queen Luwoo as being uncontrollable by them.
By Sodiq Lawal
Another controversy is currently rearing its ugly head in the ancient city of Ile-Ife as there are indications that the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi may be under intense pressure to get a new wife as tradition forbids Yoruba monarchs not to have a queen.
This comes against the backdrop of the controversial separation between the Ooni and ex queen, Olori Wuraola Ogunwusi last year which has left the foremost traditional monarch without a spouse for almost a year which is mounting a lot of pressure on the frontline traditional ruler.
According to palace sources, the current bachelor status of the royal father is becoming a source of concern to Ife traditional palace chiefs who feel that something needs to be done urgently to address the situation before complaints from the people get out of hand.
The situation, according to the source becomes graver when one considers the highly unusual and controversial circumstances surrounding the separation of the couple with exchange of allegations such as infidelity, barrenness, wife battery and impotence among others between the erstwhile royal couple.
The source added that top efforts are already in gear to scout around for suitable and befitting queen but so far all the candidates screened are presumed to be unqualified as they all have one character flaw or the other.
The palace source added that the palace chiefs are also being careful with their choice this time around to avoid a repeat case of the former queen, Olori Wuraola whose wedding, many believed to be done in haste without proper courtship, hence the shortness of the marriage.
Another source who corroborated the story said among the options being explored is getting a bride from the neighbouring Modakeke community, a move which while some believe will douse the cold animosity between the two communities, others are against in view of the age long war between the two towns .
Another option of one Bimbo who is based in Canada was said not to have gone well with most of the traditional chiefs who felt, being foreign based, she may not be well versed in the traditions and culture of the land.
Since the break up between Oba Ogunwusi and his erstwhile wife, Olori Wuraola there had been- rumours and stories of his involvement with a couple of ladies with the media suggesting that each of them was likely to become the replacement.
One of them, Emmanuella Ropo was disqualified on account of her past. It was learnt that Emmanuella Ropo was twice married with children and she has been in circulation for a while.
Her first marriage to one Joshua Adewale, an oil dealer, produced two children girls, then she hooked one Femi and had her third child a boy.
She was also allegedly been spotted with a popular Abeokuta-based Fuji musician, Alhaji Sefiu Alao Adekunle aka Omo Oko, who lost his wife in December, 2016 as well as a senior customs officer whose daughter got married recently at Oniru, in Lagos, and one Engr. Toye, who is allegedly a friend of the Ooni.
It has been revealed that Emmanuella, who hails from Abeokuta in Ogun State, has just ended her well documented steamy love affair with Femi, who had moved into her house at Anthony Enahoro Estate in Ogba, Ikeja.
Pictures taken when love was blind were sent to some media.
Emmanuella also stepped out with the Ooni to attend a high-society wedding in Lagos.
It was also learnt that one of Ooni’s sisters, Adesola, aka Yeye Two, was not comfortable with the unfolding scenario.
According to a source, Emmanuella and Oba Ogunwusi had been seeing each other before the crash of Ooni’s marriage.
Another source said that the romance was gingered after the marriage crashed in August, and scouts went all out looking for another Queen for the King.
One of the scouts, close to Oonis family, is an Apapa-Lagos-based socialite and business tycoon.
She hails from Ilesha, and a toast of musicians in Lagos and Emmanuella is one of the ladies she has groomed in her circle.
She allegedly introduced Emmanuella to Oba Ogunwusi, and they took to each other like duck to water. But some of those in the know started shouting: Let the Buyer Beware! which eventually resulted in their parting ways.
Another name that cropped up early this year is the popular Nigerian singer, Araola Apake, popularly known as Ara, who was alleged to be involved in a relationship with the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi but the musician denied the allegation.
Whichever way one looks at it, the vacuum left by Olori Zainab Wuraola is begging to be filled and it is very obvious that indeed a lot of people are disgruntled with the current single status of Ooni Ogunwusi.
By Sodiq Lawal
The ancient city of Yoruba Land was agog on Saturday as Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare Ogidigan II arrived at the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi , for a visit .
The Oba arrived at the palace in Ile – Ife at 1 : 15 pm with his chiefs and some dignitaries from the ancient city of Benin.
Prominent traditional rulers and notable indigenes of Ife, who joined the Ooni to receive the Benin monarch are the Orangun of Ila , Oba Wahab Oyedotun , traditional rulers from Ile Ife and Dr. John Odeyemi .
Oba Ewuare first went to the residence of the Ooni
Security was beefed up around the Ooni’s Palace at Enuwa in Ile – Ife as an armoured personnel carrier, armed policemen and other security agents are stationed at the entrance to ensure that there is no security breach .
Cultural troupes from Benin, entertainers and drummer from Ile Ife started drumming, singing and dancing as early as 10 : am insie the hall where Oba Ewuare was received.
The two paramount traditional rulers decried the security challenges currently facing the country which according to them, have eventuated in herdsmen killings, kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency in some parts of the country, particularly in the North East and the Middle Belt.
The Benin monarch lamented that the three major crisis currently bedevilling the nation included herdsmen’s killings, criminal violence such as kidnapping and illegal human trafficking.
He said that the devastating trend which he attributed to the porosity of the country’s borders was unacceptable and must be brought to a halt as soon as possible.
While commending the president for his efforts so far in addressing the challenges, he, however, urged him to intensifying more efforts in proffering a lasting solution to the crises “in the interest of peace and unity of the country.”
The monarch said his courtesy visit was intended to solidify his kingdom’s traditional and cultural affinity with Ife Kingdom and to stress the message of peace and unity between both kingdoms as well as the entire Nigeria.
According to him, the relationship between Ife and Benin kindoms was historical and must continue. He enthused that his father maintained the affinity when he paid a courtesy visit to the late Ooni Oba Okunade Sijuade about 10 years ago.
He promised to keep up the affinity in order to promote the cultural heritage of both kingdoms, hence his courtesy visit to the current Ooni.
Oba Ewurare called on the Ooni to reciprocate the visit in continuation of the passion for the affinity of both kingdoms.
Oba Adeyeye who also stressed the need to tackle the insecurity palaver, called on the traditional rulers across the country to join hands together and assist government in finding solution to the problems.
He called for introduction of community policing whom he said are very strategic to crime fighting ,especially in the rural communities where herdsmen’s killings are taking toll on the innocent citizens at a reckless abandon.
The Ooni also advocated support for the Nigerian youths who he described as leaders of tomorrow.
He called on government, non-governmental organisations and concerned individuals to support them through entrepreneurial and empowerment programmes just like his foundation which has been in the vanguard of the initiative to better the lots of the youth.
He assured of his kingdom’s readiness to collaborate with the Benin Kingdom to promote and preserve the cultural heritage and affinity between both kingdom in the interest of peace, unity and progress of the country.
“We should see ourselves as one big family. We can’t grow as a nation if we don’t uphold our traditional heritage. That is the essence of our coming together and the reality of this courtesy visit by His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewurare Ogidigan II,” the Ooni said.
Scores of royal fathers from both Ife and Benin Kingdoms prayed in their different ethnic languages for the peace, unity, progress and prosperity of their kingdoms and the entire Nigeria.
A herd of cattle strayed onto the runway of Akure Airport this morning, preventing an Air Peace flight from Lagos from landing.
The Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Mr Chris Iwarah, confirmed the incident, saying “Flight P4 7002 from Lagos had to delay landing into Akure Airport on Saturday when the pilot-in-command sighted cows on the runway at about 12.15pm.
“On being alerted by control tower, aviation security personnel of the FAAN (FAAN AVSEC) quickly intervened and cleared the runway.
“The flight was eventually cleared to land after about seven minutes. Our guests on board were all calm while the delay lasted.”
In a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs , Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has apologised to Air Peace Airlines and its passengers for the incident.
She said :”However, normalcy was restored quickly, as officers of the aviation security department quickly dispersed the cows from the runway and the aircraft was cleared for landing.
“The authority will like to assure travellers and the general public that efforts are already ongoing to close the gap that aided this incident.
Dr Linga Ajayi, wife of the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi who ascended the throne barely three months ago is dead. She died after a protracted illness.
A statement from the Akarigbo’s palace signed by the chief of staff, Abbe Aina on Saturday, had it that Olori Linga Ajayi died on Sunday 4th February, 2018, after a protracted illness.
The statement which did not give much details read, “The Palace of His Royal Majesty Oba Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, the Akarigbo of Remoland , regrets to announce the untimely death of our beloved Olori, Dr Linga Ajayi (FMCS, FWAS, FRCS (Ed)).
“The sad event took place, after a long and protracted illness, on Sunday 4th February 2018.
” Dr Linga Ajayi was a Consultant Surgeon at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Scotland, United Kingdom.
“She trained at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. She was a fellow of National Postgraduate Medical College Nigeria; a fellow of West African Postgraduate Medical College and a fellow of Royal College of Surgeon, Edinburgh.
“Burial arrangements would be announced later.”
Kenyan born, French athlete, Abraham Kiprotich has won the 2018 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon 42km race in an unconfirmed record time of 2:15:04.
Herpha Guta of Ethiopia also won the women’s edition of the race. She did it in 2hrs38mins. Both won $50,000 dollars each for their efforts.
Having also won last November the 39th Istanbul Marathon, which covered 46 kms, Kiprotich has now won two marathons back to back.
About 100,000 people participated in the IAAF Bronze Label Race which offers over 200,000 dollars for grabs.
Participants defied an early morning rain to run in the race which started at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
History is ever conveniently trampled here and no one cares. An example is how 40 years has become identified with television broadcasting in Nigeria. Evidence of this miscarriage of history is everywhere, especially online among younger generation of Nigerians. They say they’re unaware of any TV station that’s older than the Nigerian Television Authority that’s celebrating 40 years of its existence. I congratulate the NTA on its anniversary. But I have my reservations, because as a result of the 40 years that the NTA celebrates the true age of TV broadcasting in Nigeria has been thrown under the carpet. History is forgotten.
We know that television broadcasting in Nigeria (the first in Africa) is 59 years old, not 40. How the Federal Government had in the past gobbled up what should belong to the constituent units created the confusion. No thanks to the military in politics, an aberration that I’ve never clapped for. Meanwhile, for me, by celebrating 40 years of existence of the NTA raises issues regarding our federal arrangement as well as the preservation of our history. The following shall serve as a backdrop. The other day, a panel set up by the All Progressives Congress to consider the restructuring debate submitted its report. With his view on how the skewed federation was being run already known even before he became the governor of Kaduna State, what Mallam Nasir el-Rufai said when his committee submitted its report to the APC leadership didn’t surprise.
The fifth item in the recommendations submitted by the el-Rufai committee was the movement to the Concurrent Legislative List issues of mines and minerals, oilfields and mining, geological surveys and natural gas. El-Rufai said, it was “the feedback we got from Nigerians because offshore oil is federation asset, everything in the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone which is also policed by the Nigerian Navy belongs to the federation but minerals, oil, everything in the land belongs to those that own the land which is the state governments; but we think the time has come that we take this bold step and move away from over-centralisation.”
His panel also recommended that the police should be moved to the Concurrent List. It made a similar recommendation for the Prison Service. The committee noted that before 1966 most prisons were under the control of local governments or native authorities. As such, a return to the same arrangement would reduce the burden on the Federal Government and reduce prison congestion because states would be able to build additional prisons.
The panel equally recommends that the registration of business names should be moved to the Concurrent List “so that business names which seek to operate nationwide can be registered at the federal level while those who seek to operate only in the states should be registered at the state level.” According to el-Rufai, and this is most relevant to this piece, “if these amendments are passed by the National Assembly, they will significantly re-balance our federation, devolve more powers to the states, reduce the burden of the Federal Government and make our country work better.” This last part equally calls attention to how the FG agencies go about ‘donating’ to the 36 states what should be theirs by law.
Few days ago, the FRSC boss, Boboye Oyeyemi, visited Rivers State. At a meeting with the state governor, Oyeyemi announced that he would establish a vehicle plate number-making plant in Port Harcourt. Here, the FRSC wants to “dash” Rivers State what it has the right to establish by itself. We know that under a federal arrangement, states have the right to do all that agencies such as the FRSC are doing, because they too own roads. This is clear from what the Lagos State Government has demonstrated since 1999 by establishing its own plate number-making plant, with officials that monitor traffic on its roads. Why should it be a federal agency that offers to do the same in Rivers State? The entire episode brings to mind how, for whatever reasons, most states don’t utilise the power that they legally have, or is implied. These states currently demand restructuring or the devolution of power from the Federal Government, but the power that they do have they don’t use.
I think making full use of the powers that states have already is where to start, rather than concentrate energy, shouting themselves hoarse, to get what they don’t have. State governments should look in the direction of how to utilise their legally-given powers to automatically put most FG agencies, tailored for a unitary system, where they belong. Instead, the states have continued to provide relevance for these agencies that were established during the military era and which, in a civilian dispensation, should have been stylishly discouraged from getting involved in states’ affairs as most of them do at the moment.
It’s against this backdrop I state here that every public institution of any historical importance hijacked by the Federal Government from the components units during the military era be returned to them. Regionally-based TV stations that the NTA gobbled up in 1977, through Decree 24, belonged in this category. The Western Nigeria Television, established in 1959, and the first in Africa is one of them. By a decree, the then existing 12 regionally-based TV stations were swallowed up by the NTA which became the only body empowered to engage in TV broadcasting in Nigeria. Military mentality. Of all the former regional stations, the WNTV no doubt embodies the foundation of the history of TV broadcasting in Africa. This is why it’s crucial that the WNTV now known as NTA Ibadan be removed from the NTA family and made to stand alone as a living history, a continuous testament to one of Nigeria’s unforgettable firsts. Except this is done, the authentic history of TV broadcasting in Nigeria will fade away. This nation needn’t let it happen.
I make this call also because states in the South-West have shown seriousness regarding their integration. They had shown serious commitment towards maximising the combined energy and resources of the region, establishing as they did in 2013 a Development Agenda for Western Nigeria and the DAWN Commission, the technocratic institution for the sustainable development of the area. This commission is “fully empowered by the Governments to ensure the delivery of the composite development aspirations of the Region”.
In view of the above, I’m convinced that states in this region have the responsibility to protect the history of TV broadcasting which began with them. They mustn’t allow the 1959 landmark die an unnatural death. It’s to their pride that the WNTV lives. But it’s also to the pride of Nigerians as one that the first TV station on the continent is still in existence, autonomous, modernised, and answering its own name, rather than where it’s currently hidden under the NTA. In any case, if the first TV station that the West has is allowed to die, a vital part of Western Nigeria’s proud and rich history dies. I want the Governments of the South-West to (if only legally and symbolically) take the WNTV back from the NTA, give it its old name and have its history appropriately traced back to 1959, (mentioning only in passing on the WNTV’s history pages the period of interregnum that it has experienced under NTA).
Moreover, the DAWN Commission can adopt the WNTV as its broadcast arm, the network TV station for the region, and use it to project to the rest of the world the region’s pursuit of an integrated agenda. This is an endeavour worth pursuing by the states, more so as the NTA now has over 100 other stations apart from NTA Ibadan. The South-West states should, at least, take back from the NTA that very 1959 TV edifice in Ibadan (and give another building to the NTA if it so desires it). They should treat the WNTV Ibadan structure as their legitimate property which the Federal Government forcefully took from them in 1977. The Ibadan Station should then be given a face-lift, repositioned both in image and broadcast quality. I wish the structures of the other regional TV stations would be returned to their original owners too. It’s an excellent way of preserving our history. More importantly, it’s one of the ways by which we can, as the el-Rufai committee recommends, return what should reside with component units to them, as well as remove the many covers of unitary governance that have been placed on our federal structure