The Unspiritual Side Of Aso Villa By Femi Adesina

Let me begin with two clarifications. Aso Villa is not my home; I am just passing through. Even this world is nobody’s home; we are just birds of passage. So, let nobody turn up his nose in derision, and say; “he’s writing to the landlord of Aso Villa, defending a place where’s he’s just a tenant.”

Yes, nobody is a landlord in the Villa, not even rational presidents. They can only live there for a maximum of eight years, if Nigerians so decide. And for me, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels only need to beckon me from Heaven’s open door, and I wouldn’t feel at home in this world anymore.

The second clarification. Let nobody, particularly on social media, begin to insinuate that Femi Adesina is at war with Reuben Abati, his immediate predecessor as presidential spokesman. This piece you are beginning to read is not about Abati as a person; it is about his spiritual ideas and convictions, which I think need some appraisal, as they are rather unspiritual. Abati and myself have been professional colleagues for almost 30 years, we have a lot of mutual friends, and know how to reach each other when necessary. So, this is not a case of Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman being at war with Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman. What for?

In his piece in The Guardian of October 14, 2016, Abati wrote under the headline, ‘The spiritual side of Aso Villa.’ What were his conclusions? For the benefit of those who did not read the highly entertaining piece (in fact, there were moments I had my two legs in the air, laughing, as I read), let me do a brief summary. Call it ‘gospel’ according to Abati, and you would be right: There is some form of witchcraft, which causes occupants of Aso Villa to take weird decisions. Working in the Villa makes you susceptible to some sort of evil influences because there is something supernatural about power and closeness to it. Some of those who lived or worked in the Villa had something dying under their waists (for the men), while some of the women became merchants of dildo because they had suffered a special kind of deaths in their homes. “The ones who did not have such misfortune had one ailment or the other that they had to nurse. From cancer to brain and prostate surgery and whatever, the Villa was a hospital full of agonizing patients,” Abati posited.

Reading the piece through, you would think Aso Villa was nothing but what Godfrey Chaucer called “a thoroughfare of woes.” In fact, Abati submitted that the Villa “should be converted into a spiritual museum, , and abandoned.” Holy Moses! Jumping Jehoshaphat!

If Aso Villa was such a haunted house, why then do most occupants like to stay put, right from the first tenant, Ibrahim Babangida, who was virtually forced to step aside in August 1993? And why did Goodluck Jonathan, Abati’s principal, spend money in trillions (in different currencies of the world), just to perpetuate himself in a house that consumes its occupants? Being a literary scholar, Abati would remember the doctor in Macbeth, that work of William Shakespeare, who was detailed to cure Lady Macbeth of the neurosis that afflicted her, after she had been party to the deaths of King Duncan and Banq so that her husband would be the king of Scotland. A spiritually troubled Lady Macbeth sleepwalked every night, trying to wash her hands of the innocent blood that had been shed. The doctor was so fed up with the terrifying atmosphere that he said to himself: “Were I from Dunsinane away and clear, profit should hardly again draw me here.” Did Abati ever say the same of the Villa, a place where men became women “after something died below their waists?” We do not have it on record that Abati showed a clean pair of heels, or that he would not have stayed if Dr. Jonathan had won reelection, and had asked him to continue in his position as the adviser on media. Or was it the case of eternal fascination for the thing that repelled and terrified you? Mysterium tremendum et fascinas, as it is called in Latin.

For me, what Abati did in the October 14 piece was simply a glorification and deification of superstition, something that attempted to elevate works of darkness above the powers of God. The writer merely fed the cravings and propensity of people for the supernatural, in a way that stoked and kindled the kiln of fear, rather than that of faith.
Let’s take the issues one after the other, and look at them against true spiritual principles. Christianity is the one I am most familiar with, and that would be my benchmark.

In Aso Villa, houses were haunted, people were oppressed into taking curious decisions, they fell ill, died, or suffered the losses of loved ones, so Abati claimed. Are such peculiar only to the presidential villa? Should all those who live or work there automatically enjoy immunity from the vicissitudes of life, simply because they walked the corridors of power?

Wasn’t President Umaru Yar’Adua right inside the presidential villa, when he told us on national television: “I am a human being. I can fall sick. I can recover. And I can die.” That was a practical man for you. Abati unwittingly wants his readers to believe that once you operated in or around Aso Villa, you became a Superman. No. You are as mortal as can be. The Holy Bible does not even give us such leeway. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…”(1 Cor 10:13). There are certain things common to man, and they can happen to you wherever you are. At the White House. At 10, Downing Street.

Buckingham Palace, Aso Villa. Wherever. “But such as is common to man…” Let no man feed us with the bogey that such things happen because of where you live or operate from. There are some things that are just common to man, and which may happen to you as long as you are on this side of eternity.

I lost my sister in a road crash last year. She was a professor of Dramatic Arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife. Abati knew her well, as they both did post-graduate studies at the University of Ibadan in the 1980s. Abati was among those who called to condole with me. My sister never visited the Villa in her lifetime. Even if she did, that could never have had anything to do with her death on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. To believe and teach otherwise is to carry superstition to a ridiculous level, and venerate the Devil, granting him omnipotence, an attribute that belongs to God only. For the Devil, doing evil is a full-time business, and whether you had anything to do with Aso Villa or not, he continued with his pernicious acts. Does that then suggest that mankind is helpless before evil? No. God still has ultimate powers. He can spare you “as a father spares the son that serves him.”

(Malachi 3:17). If you are under the pavilion of God, sleep, wake and operate daily in Aso Villa, you are covered, no matter the evil that lurks around, if any. There is a better covenant established on greater promises, and that is the canopy under which you should function. God can spare you from all evils, and if He permits any other thing, it is “such as is common to man,” and not because of Aso Villa.

If houses catch fire in the Villa, how many conflagrations occur in other parts of the city? If some men in the Villa suffered erectile dysfunction in Abati’s time, doesn’t the Journal of Sexual Medicine tell us that about 20 million American men have something that has died under their waists? It is one thing that became prevalent in the last two to three decades, due to modern lifestyle. Causes range from age, to stress, depression, anxiety, alcohol, medication, and several others. Even, a study showed that watching too much television kills something under the waist. So why does Abati make it seem as if it is a copyright of Aso Villa?

Now, another clarification. Don’t I believe in demonic infestation and manifestation? I sure do. I won’t be a student of the Holy Bible if I don’t. Jesus talked about the man who got delivered from demonic possession, and because that man did not yield himself to a better influence, the evil spirit that inhabited him came back with seven more powerful spirits, and the end of the man was worse than his beginning. Abati wrote of persons in the Villa, “walking upside down, head to the ground.” Let me share this story I heard over 20 years ago. There was this young Christian who gave scant regards to demons and what they could do. In fact, he almost didn’t believe demons existed. One day, as he walked along the ever busy Broad Street in Lagos, God opened his spiritual eyes.

Some people were walking on their heads! And not only that, as they passed by other people, they slapped them with the soles of their feet. If you got so slapped, you developed an affliction, which you would nurse for the rest of your life. Yet, you never knew where it came from.

As the young man saw that vision and got its spiritual explanation, he began to s-c-r-e-a-m. Was that in Aso Villa? “Such as is common to man…” Evil exists everywhere. Trying to source and locate it in Aso Villa is disingenuous. You need God everywhere. In Europe, Asia, America, Oceania, Aso Villa. There is evil everywhere, and we need not make fetish of any place as being more evil infested than other places. Since Satan got thrown out of Heaven due to his inordinate ambition, evil had resided in the world. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12). The Devil lives in the world, but God is never helpless before evil. He will never be. Let the Devil commit suicide if he is not happy about that fact. God rules!

If every principal officer including the President and his wife suffered series of tragedies as Abati claimed, and he himself had breathing problems and walked with the aid of crutches for months, it was ” such as is common to man” and not necessarily because they were in Aso Villa. But of course, if such people put their hands in evil, possibly to gain some things in power or perpetuate themselves beyond the time heaven granted, then “he who rolls a stone, a stone shall be rolled back to him. He that digs a pit, shall fall into it.” That is what the Good Book says. You can then hardly blame Aso Villa for such payback time, can you?

To avoid getting sucked into what Abati calls “the cloud of evil” that hangs around power, what to do is to hold ephemeral things loosely. Know that they are temporal, and will truly end. Power is one of such things. Will anybody be a permanent landlord at Aso Villa? It would be foolhardy to have such mindset. A couple of times I’d had some private discussions with President Buhari, and he had lamented the state of the nation, he invariably ended with the statement, “while we are here, we will do our best.” It shows a man who knows that he’s not a permanent landlord at Aso Villa, and can never be. He would use the opportunity he has to do his best for Nigeria, and then move on.

That is a good mindset and a safety valve from getting sucked into “the cloud of evil.” Daily, I tell myself that I am just passing through Aso Villa. And while there, just like my principal, I will do my best. It could be long, it could be short, depending on God and the man who appointed me, but one day, it would be over, and some other people would come in to do their bit. It is inexorable. The real treasures are laid somewhere beyond the blue.
Abati says we should pray before people pack their things into Aso Villa. I say not just Aso Villa, but everywhere. Pray before you pack into any place, because there are some things “such as is common to man.” It is only God that keeps from such. And He is sovereign in terms of what He prevents, and in what He allows. Ours is to pray, and believe. Prayer works.

“Aso Villa is in urgent need of redemption. I never slept in the apartment they gave me in that Villa for an hour,” wrote Abati. Well, different strokes for different folks. Hear what the Good Book says: “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” Here am I. For over one year, I have lived in the house allocated to me at the Villa. I sleep so soundly, I even snore. In fact, I snore so loud that at times, I wake myself up with the sound.

-Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari

The Evil Spirits In The Presidential Villa That Followed Dr Abati To His House, By Bem Hulugh

I am more comfortable writing on issues than personalities but it is almost impossible to talk about the evil spirits in the presidential villa that is behind all our problems without saying anything about the person who told us about them.
Just a month after a tailor in Lagos blamed the devil for making him rape a 3 year old girl, Dr Reuben Abati is also blaming the devil for all the wrong decisions they made in the villa. I don’t know why Dr Abati will be reasoning like that roadside tailor but his excuse for failure is the most ridiculous I have heard recently.
At moments like this it is normal to curse and ridicule him but it is also an opportunity for us to reflect on how a man can transform into the same thing he has been preaching against all his life. Perhaps he didn’t believe in what he always preached and needed power to reveal his true self or he meant every word but at a point lost hope and joined the thieving gang. His utterances recently make me believe the former and the ridiculous excuse of blaming evil spirits for his shameful performance as President’s spokesman only reveal how desperate he is to fraudulently find a way back into the the hearts of his long lost audience.
No President in our history went to the Holy Land(Jerusalem) or bowed on alters of the Almighty more that President Jonathan but his spokesman remains the first to blame evil spirits for their failure. Is it that the Almighty refused to listen or he was not praying at all? If the juju was making everybody sick or killing people or attempting to kill like Mr Abati want us to believe then why did he do everything including putting his conscience to sleep and locking his brilliant brain in God-knows-where to remain there? Or na de juju been de worry am? I know Aso Villa is the peak of power and money in Nigeria and people will go there with all kind of fetish things but blaming how Nigerians reacted to their government, all deaths, accidents, malfunctions and the insults he showered on his friends and former colleagues on evil spirits is ridiculous and to an extent fraudulent.
What happened to Abati in Aso villa is what happens to our quiet, humble and morally upright friend who gets a good paying job and transforms to a pompous extrovert and womanizer or what happens to a course mate who becomes the Student Union leader and thinks it is an abomination for him to be the first to greet any time you come across each other. It is not about demons. It is what has been revealed throughout the ages by great leaders that power does not change people but only reveal who they truly are.
For Dr Abati, power has revealed his true identity. He was not possessed by any evil spirit in Aso villa or controlled in the supernatural by people bathing with blood. He was just like the thieving gang he preached against all his life and needed power to expose what was buried in his heart. In the end it is safe to agree that he was possessed by a desire lying deep down in his heart, the desire to be like the very thieving gang he claimed to dislike.
The story of Abati and his ridiculous excuse should remind us all that it is not enough to know what is right. We have to know what is right and believe in it or sooner than later we may find ourselves doing the wrong thing. For most of us it is our upbringing, religion and experiences that form our beliefs and values. these will be tested over and again in our lifetime. Sometimes we may falter because we are human but it is when you accept that you have fallen short and vow to stand more firm that people will know what you truly stand for. Ridiculous excuses will only expose you as a fraud and that is exactly the way I see Dr Reuben Abati. His strange excuse either confirms that he was possessed before he went to the villa or the evil spirits in the presidential villa followed him home.
Bemdoo Hulugh is an active citizen and he writes from Makurdi
You can interact with him on twitter @bumy04.

Ondo Politics: The Good, The Bad , And The Ugly? By Niyi Akinnaso

Ondo is not called the sunshine state for nothing. Just as the sun rises to set the pace for the day, so does Ondo State set the pace for the nation in many respects. Take, for example, Ondo’s role in setting the pace for the nation’s attempt to meet the Millennium Development Goals 4 (to reduce child mortality) and 5 (to improve maternal health) by 2015. Not only did Ondo State meet those goals ahead of target and ahead of the nation, it also used the medical care complex developed to meet those goals to establish a University of Medical Sciences.

Ondo’s cocoa and timber are also pace setters in agriculture and the housing industry, respectively. Scarcely is a cocoa derivative (Chocolate, Ovaltine, Bournvita, or Milo) consumed without some contribution from cocoa produced in Ondo State. This is especially true of the array of cocoa products (Cocoa Powder, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Liquor, and Cocoa Cake) produced locally by Cocoa Products (Ile-Oluji) Limited, Ondo State. Similarly, the Idanre Forest Reserve in Ondo State continues to supply the nation with timber for the housing and furniture industries.

The combined impact of cocoa and timber as well as other agricultural products on the state’s economy is quite significant as proceeds from both products provide many a parent in the state the funds for their children’s education. Generations of Ondo students, including my own, owe their early education to the proceeds from our parents’ cocoa plantations or timber sawmills.

It is, however, in Nigerian politics, that Ondo seems to have made the most impact in setting the pace for the nation, partly owing to widespread education of its citizens (many families in the state have produced five or more university graduates), which promoted high political consciousness and partly owing to the citizens’ electoral experiences. It is widely recognised that the sun of Nigerian politics sometimes rose and set in Ondo State. Remember, for example, 1983? That was the year when the people rose against those who rigged the governorship election in which they voted overwhelmingly for the late Chief Adekunle Ajasin of the Unity Party of Nigeria but were surprised and angry that the late Chief Akin Omoboriowo of the National Party of Nigeria was declared the winner. The mob rose against the suspected riggers, mainly local leaders and supporters of the NPN, and killed as many as 40 of them (The New York Times, August 20, 1983). The court eventually ruled in favour of Ajasin, the true winner of the election. The Ondo electoral crisis (also duplicated in Oyo State) exposed the massive rigging of the presidential election of that year in favour of Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the NPN, and would set in motion the political upheaval that culminated in a military coup on December 31, 1983.

A similar crisis followed the 2007 governorship election in the state. Unlike 1983, when the election was rigged for the opposition candidate, the incumbent governor, the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu, was the beneficiary of the rigged election. As in 1983, the court ruled in favour of the true winner, this time the opposition candidate, Mimiko of the Labour Party, after two-year protracted litigation.

Now, fast forward to 2016, when the political landscape remains anything but certain. At no time in the history of the state has there been as much confusion on the political landscape as there has been since the primary season started in August. First, two factions emerged in the Peoples Democratic Party, each of which held a primary and elected a governorship candidate – Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) for the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP and Jimoh Ibrahim for the Ali Modu Sherif faction. For a while, it appeared that the matter was settled in favour of Jegede, who is the establishment candidate of the ruling PDP in the state. However, the court recently ruled in favour of Ibrahim, thus tossing the candidacy up in the air again, given the subsisting submission of Jegede’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

As for the All Progressives Congress, the internal feud over candidacy reached a head in the alleged rigged primary, which led to a sharp division within the National Working Committee of the party. The beneficiary of the alleged rigged primary, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), is now the party’s governorship candidate. However, the aggrieved co-contestants have gone their separate ways, with one of them, Olusola Oke, being the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy. Right now, members of the APC are split between Akeredolu and Oke, whose grassroots support has been much stronger than Akeredolu’s since they both ran for governorship in 2012.

When the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, Dr. Olu Agunloye, is factored in, there is a four-way contest ahead in November. The uncertainty surrounding the governorship candidate of the PDP can only complicate the job of opinion pollsters as the governorship election draws near.

The events in Ondo have three political implications. First, they indicate that our politics is governed by self-interest. True, as Prof. Ayo Olukotun reminded us recently on his column, politics is about who gets what and how; the problem with us is the very selfish interpretation of politics. The politics of self-interest is behind the confusion in Ondo politics today. Whether we are talking about aspirants, candidates, or their party bosses, including godfathers, the driving principle is self-interest.

Second, the meddling of political godfathers in their parties’ primaries was the trigger of the crisis within both the PDP and the APC. One justification often used for the participation of party leaders in the selection of candidates is the tradition of purchasing votes, otherwise known as “See and Buy”, especially during primary elections. The fear that such a tradition could throw up the “wrong” candidate often leads party leaders to intervene. There are two questions: (1) At what point should such intervention take place? (2) Is such intervention needed at all?

This year’s presidential primary in the United States provides good answers to these questions. The Democratic Party establishment intervened early with the endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Congressional leaders and super delegates. The Republican Party’s attempt to intervene in the middle of the game met with resistance from Donald Trump’s supporters, leading eventually to his victory in the primaries.

Finally, the Ondo events reveal a happy development in the politics of the state – the absence so far of violence, despite sharp intra-party disagreements. Although inter-party conflicts may still arise during the open campaigns, the reigning peace in the state should be maintained. It is already bad the way it is. It should not be allowed to turn ugly.

My Response To Wole Olanipekun By Sola Adeyeye

I am very disappointed that Wole Olanipekun equated apples with oranges. Whatever Bush did amiss was a matter of government policy that went wrong. Governments come and go with their policies and the consequences thereof.

Like Obama, Buhari has said very little about policy differences with his predecessor in office. Rather, Buhari has justifiably said a lot about the brazen looting that took place under the watch of his predecessor. Bad or good, the American public knew about the policy of George Bush. By contrast, how many people, even within high echelon of the PDP, knew that such reckless looting of the national treasury was going on by the custodians of public trust?

Olanipekun should tell us how many people in the corridor of power under George Bush carted away billions of public funds in the profligate manner that took place under GEJ.

Despite the humongous four trillion dollar budget of the United States Federal Government, the truth is that up to 80% of that budget are on “cruise control”. That is they are relatively fixed and beyond the internecine bickering of partisan politics. In effect, Presidential elections in the USA are about what to do with about 20% of the Federal budget. Furthermore, the organized private sector is so huge in ultra-capitalist USA that society does not routinely convulse because of Government misdeeds. By contrast, the Federal Government in Nigeria is intrusively omnipresent and ineffectually omnipotent if that oxymoron can be pardoned. When any Federal Government coughs in Nigeria, the citizens suffer stroke and heart attack.

Process matters. In a democracy, the end does not justify the means. Indeed, when the means is corrupted, the end becomes utterly soiled as well. Unfortunately, far too often and for too long, wayward legal acrobatics have ensnared justice in Nigeria. Jesus spoke about how difficult it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Of course, Jesus was not a Nigerian. In our country, a pregnant camel carrying a hippopotamus, routinely and very easily passes though the needle’s eye. The aftermath is a republic at a crossroad that requires drastic measures. In respecting process, we must not elevate it to an end in itself.

Certainly, Olanipekun is a most brilliant lawyer. I want him on my side any day. He has been most helpful in numerous battles against a regime whose survivalist instincts denigrated governance into do-or-die kleptocracy. Even so, now that the reprobate masquerades are being defrocked, Olanipekun ought not to be seen among those attempting to use law to prevent alleged criminals from being arrested.

Aregbesola, Fayose And Southwest Politics, By Alabi Williams

Early October, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, governor of the State of Osun, was invited by his colleague in Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose to grace the event slated to mark the 20th anniversary of the creation of the state. It was a colourful gathering, where Ogbeni delivered the lecture titled “The imperative of unity.” In the process, he spoke of the need for regional integration and cooperation, after lamenting that in the whole of Southwest, only Lagos could manage to pick its bills. He then harped on the need to promote agriculture, which used to be the driver of the economy of the region. He also used the opportunity to shower encomiums on Fayose, and described him as omoluabi, hardworking and reliable. He said: “Fayose is a reliable person” and that “sooner than later, there will be realignment of forces.”

Those were pregnant political statements that could be subject to various interpretations, except that Ogbeni is a bold and frank politician; one who is not given to talking innuendos. The fact that he crossed the borders from Osun must mean that he truly believes in the mission. And perhaps, that is what has riled the Ekiti chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC); that one of their foremost party leaders and governor had just visited their political enemy, Fayose. Not just that, he had even addressed him as omoluabi. Among the Yoruba, to say someone is omoluabi means he is dependable and reliable. Wikipedia actually defines omoluabi as a Yoruba philosophical and cultural concept to describe a person of good character. It signifies courage, hard work, humility and respect.

For the Ekiti APC, it was inconceivable that Ogeni Rauf could attend an event organised by Fayose, especially after the overthrow of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the 2015 general elections at Abuja. Fayose himself had remained immovable and has constituted a one-man opposition against the APC and President Buhari. His attacks against the president and their party have been virulent and ceaseless, even in the face of threats by the Department of State Security and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). A lot was done by EFCC to make Fayose shit in his trouser and demystify him in the eyes of the people of the state. The revelations about his acquisitions and allegations of monies he and cronies have stashed in bank accounts, and those brought to the state to prosecute the 2014 governorship election from Abuja were enough to cause earthquake in some softer grounds. Not even the rallies staged to engineer revolt against him have tempered his fury against Abuja. There were even video recordings of how the military conspired with politicians to steal the votes for the PDP, for which some heads in the military have been decapitated. But Fayose has not been unhorsed.

To the opposition in Ekiti, it did not make sense for Aregbesola to come and eulogise the man, when preparations for the next governorship election are in top gear. Fayose, to Ekiti APC is not a man to dine with, talk less showering him with the noblest epithet in Yoruba land. And for that reason, they have taken umbrage at the Osun Governor.

They said the visit amounted to contempt for the party leadership in Ekiti. That after all Fayose had done to them, they cannot believe Aregbesola would come visiting and singing praises.

The state publicity secretary of APC, Taiwo Olatunbosun reportedly said: “Aregbesola’s visit to Fayose, praising him as ‘omoluabi’ and for the achievements by APC-led government is not alone embarrassing, but also awful in the face of sustained attacks on APC members, some of whom are still languishing in jail for about two years over trumped-up charges by Fayose.

“It is shocking that Aregbesola, as a governor and one of the leading lights in the APC in the South West, and indeed the nation would be visiting Ekiti State without putting the leaders into confidence, more so on a visit to a man, who once wished the President dead and had done unbelievable things both in Nigeria and abroad to bring Buhari’s government down.

“Worse still, Aregbesola was praising the man, who will stop at nothing to bring APC-led Federal Government down, after several years of failed attempts by the progressives to win the presidency of Nigeria.”

About nine months ago, Fayose had equally visited Aregbesola in Osun and the reports were that he had gone to ask Ogbeni to beg Buhari on his behalf, so as not to unleash a legion of DSS, Police, EFCC, ICPC and others against him.
But Fayose denied all that. On that occasion, he had said: “This is my first official visit to any APC state in Nigeria. I am not in Osogbo to ask Aregbesola to help me beg, as being speculated in some quarters. We are all Yoruba, politics is like water, it can flow anywhere. I believe in the Yoruba race, the race comes first before the office of the governor. The race is eternal, while that of governor is momentary. We must watch today to be guided by tomorrow. I am here for the unity of Yoruba, as it affects the Oodua, the progenitor.”

And that should be the new attitude. While he is perceived to be errant and lacking tact plus finesse, Fayose takes time to pick his political ‘enemies’. In all his tirade of abuses against the APC and Abuja, he has refrained from throwing stones at some sensitive quarters in Lagos and other places in the Southwest. At the end of the day, all politics, they say, is local. And that trend is also noticeable in Aregbesola’s remarks. The Southwest has been working on the idea of regional reintegration for years now. The Western region of old survived mainly on agriculture and was able to set the stage for education and industrialisation of the zone. But today, the states are struggling to survive. The cocoa trees are aged and other cash crops are not doing well, because every governor goes to Abuja to pick bailout, while opportunities for growth are not tapped in states.

If this is what Aregbesola has in mind, in addition to the fact that the region needs a calm political environment to creatively plot its way out of the trap called Nigeria, Ekiti APC should show understanding and pardon the man. On a good day, he is a hardliner, but if he has now matured enough to appreciate the role of bipartisanship in addressing political differences in the zone and in the country, he should be appreciated.

That is not to say that Ekiti APC was not correct to have announced its fears. There is no reason why they should be taken by surprise in the manner the Osun governor visited. Nothing stopped Ogbeni from comparing notes with the state chapter before he arrived town. To even add zest and meaning to the visit, he could have asked the state chairman to accompany him. A healing process could have been instigated for far-reaching effects. As it is now, the visit may have rubbed salt into an old wound, which is not good for the reintegration drive.

What Nigeria needs urgently now is an end to politics of bitterness and the enthronement of politics of creativity and development. All the gimmicks and slogans of the past have failed and the country faces a very unsure future. It is now up to states and regions to creatively retrace their steps in order to provide citizens with good governance. It had been experimented and it worked well in the days of regional government. The capacity is there in every region and to do more, except that some have become so lazy, having been misled for decades with ‘stolen’ oil monies from the South-south. Now that the oils are drying up, let politics of bitterness also dry up. Let Southwest politicians be creative.

It requires working together, irrespective of party identities. It was political strife in the Southwest that largely influenced the first military coup. The political distrust in the zone was also responsible largely, for the failure of the second republic. That today’s politicians in the zone see the need to close ranks is a welcome development. Aregbesola should be commended, and Fayose should reciprocate. He should tone down his affronts.

APC Imbroglio: Is Bola Tinubu Guilty? By Abiodun Komolafe

Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s call on John Odigie-Oyegun to resign as National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly derailing from the path of progressives continues to generate diverse opinions in the polity. The call, rather than being misconstrued by Tinubu’s antagonists should be seen for its altruistic value and content. It is about saving the soul of a ruling party that is still in its embryo.

But, while waiting to see how circumstances eventuate, some questions keep bothering me and if they are answered dispassionately, they may help put the understanding of the issue in proper perspective. Before all else, was Tinubu wrong in endorsing a candidate? Better put, did he, as the National Leader of a foremost party, do something he ought not to have done by allegedly asking all the aspirants to work for his preferred choice (Punch, September 3, 2016)? Also, and, in fairness to the facts, is Tinubu gradually losing out in Nigeria’s political space and what is the way out? As a matter of fact, what has become of the ruling party in so short a space of time and where lies the place of its founding fathers in all of this?

Well, while I may be insufficient at supplying answers to these troubling questions, until proven otherwise, I hold the notion that Odigie-Oyegun was either misunderstood, misrepresented or used by some principalities higher than him. Again, until there is evidence to the contrary, I am also of the firm belief that President Muhammadu Buhari is too decent a leader to be involved in this messy and rather childish tricks that take nobody anywhere.

Having said that, Nigerians will agree with me that, on a good day, the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State is a rare privilege for APC to present itself as a party of choice to the electorate. It is also an opportunity to test the waters a la Nigerians’ acceptance of its policies and programmes, preparatory to 2019. With the situation of things however, one can only pray it would not mess it up on the altar of some unbelievably self-inflicted wounds. From all indications, Mimiko as the Contestant-in-Chief looks well-prepared for the battle ahead and this ought to have spurred the opposition into going into the race with a formidable team for the overall purpose of enriching our democratic process. With Eyitayo Jegede, from a Senatorial District which, among other considerations, is noted for having the largest chunk of voters, as People’s Democratic Party, PDP’s governorship candidate; and John Ola Mafo, from an axis notorious for political characterizations similar to Alimosho in Lagos State, Oke Ogun in Oyo State and Florida in the United States of America, tentatively as Jegede’s deputy, the battle line is already drawn! While the import of these should not be lost on objective observers, we also need to bear in mind that Goodluck Jonathan, as fate would have it, is no longer in power. Impliedly, November 26, 2016 will most certainly follow a path different from the experience in Ekiti and Osun States in 2014. Little wonder the outgoing governor has been running ‘upandan’ to bung any inadequacy that is within his powers.

Kazi Shams was right when he described “half a truth” as “a whole lie.” From a state of denial to an overflowing scourge of anger, the troubling truth is that we deceive ourselves a lot in this country and this adds more confusion to the course of questions! Much as we would pretend not to know, life itself is full of lessons. It is also full of surprises. But, if care is not taken, one may concentrate more on the ‘surprise’ aspect of life to the detriment of its lessons. Anyway, since memories are real, those who wish to be unnecessarily emotions- and sentiments-driven should pause a bit and ponder the roles of Pharaoh in the life of Joseph (Genesis 45:46); King Xerxes in Mordecai’s (Esther 10:3); Melchizedek in Abraham’s (Hebrews 7); the Widow of Zarephat in Prophet Elijah’s (1 Kings 17: 7-16); and ask Nigeria’s exceptionally good liars and professional pretenders what they would do better should they find themselves in Tinubu’s shoes before casting the first stone.

Again, if history is an oracle we must consult in order to determine the future, then, we need not forget in a hurry that, once upon a recent experience in Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida, in crude and rude connivance with some military top brass, not only endorsed Olusegun Obasanjo, they also ensured that he succeeded Abdusalami Abubakar as Nigeria’s president. Adams Oshiomhole stood by Godwin Obaseki at the just-concluded governorship election in Edo State. Even, Rotimi Akeredolu, the man in the eye of the storm, reportedly had his campaign “bankrolled by Atiku Abubakar and some APC bigwigs” (Vanguard, September 28, 2016). But for the luxury of time and space, one can go on and on! So, who’s fooling who?

To some schools of thought, Tinubu ought to have read the tea leaves correctly, especially, given that the contestants paid to obtain Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms. Well, since the rules of natural justice are so fundamental that they don’t have to be legislated, Odigie-Oyegun’s interview in Punch, August 21, 2016, has, in my considered opinion, settled that!

Yes! Nigeria is in challenging times and conventional prescriptions for her ailments ought to be of interest to us as Nigerians. But, in the midst of the monstrosity of the corruption that has tragically become Nigeria’s defining characteristic, Tinubu comes about as one leader who has given deep meanings to democracy. Like him or hate him: he is a politician who has attained an unprecedented level of political sophistication that can radically influence the perception of governance in this once-so-beautiful-but-now-badly-damaged microcosm. His gift of being able to make the right choices is superb as one could see in his preference for Babatunde Fashola and Rauf Aregbesola as Lagos and Osun State Governors respectively. With the benefit of hindsight, Fashola not only performed, he eventually became the APC poster boy in the last election. And while Aregbesola, on his part, has succeeded in unselfishly redefining governance in my home state, he is also patriotically preparing the ‘Land of Virtue’ for the future and, when its fruits blossom forth, they will be to the gapes of Nigerians.

Another worthy example of Tinubu’s ability to identify talents is his choice of Akinwunmi Ambode as Fashola’s successor. Surely, Ambode’s ongoing silent revolution in modernizing Lagos, especially, with the expansion of road networks and redesigning of bus stops to ease traffic congestion, is a step in the right direction. Kudos must also be given to this forward-looking Nigerian for making Buhari’s aspiration possible after three futile attempts. And, do we need to discuss the success of his business ventures? Without being immodest, facts on ground have already spoken! For the patriotism he has expressed as well as his enormous contributions to the development of democracy in Nigeria, methinks this sagacious and perspicacious politician deserves encouragement, not disparagement; and solidarity, not brickbats.

From my perspective, politics as a game of interest and numbers goes beyond vote casting and party affiliation. Maybe that’s why some people see politics, especially in Africa, as ‘the shortest road to financial freedom.’ The point I am trying to make here is that though, the system in vogue in Nigeria may at the moment be defective and frustrating, all through history, those who who came out of it smoking were those who were able to master its ‘by-the-minute’ difficulties, frustrations, and, not unexpectedly, its success stories while those who could not have always had themselves to blame. And that’s the real deal!

Finally, let’s pray that life, times, even travails of Bola Ige would treat our leaders to some salient lessons in season.

May powers and personalities, assigned to derail Nigeria’s beautiful destiny, wither!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])

The Spiritual Side Of Aso Villa, By Reuben Abati

People tend to be alarmed when the Nigerian Presidency takes certain decisions. They don’t think the decision makes sense. Sometimes, they wonder if something has not gone wrong with the thinking process at that highest level of the country. I have heard people insist that there is some form of witchcraft at work in the country’s seat of government. I am ordinarily not a superstitious person, but working in the Villa, I eventually became convinced that there must be something supernatural about power and closeness to it. I’ll start with a personal testimony. I was given an apartment to live in inside the Villa. It was furnished and equipped. But when my son, Michael arrived, one of my brothers came with a pastor who was supposed to stay in the apartment. But the man refused claiming that the Villa was full of evil spirits and that there would soon be a fire accident in the apartment. He complained about too much human sacrifice around the Villa and advised that my family must never sleep overnight inside the Villa.

I thought the man was talking nonsense and he wanted the luxury of a hotel accommodation. But he turned out to be right. The day I hosted family friends in that apartment and they slept overnight, there was indeed a fire accident. The guests escaped and they were so thankful. Not long after, the President’s physician living two compounds away had a fire accident in his home. He and his children could have died. He escaped with bruises.  Around the Villa while I was there, someone always died or their relations died. I can confirm that every principal officer suffered one tragedy or the other; it was as if you needed to sacrifice something to remain on duty inside that environment. Even some of the women became merchants of dildo because they had suffered a special kind of death in their homes (I am sorry to reveal this) and many of the men complained about something that had died below their waists too. The ones who did not have such misfortune had one ailment or the other that they had to nurse. From cancer to brain and prostate surgery and whatever, the Villa was a hospital full of agonizing patients.

I recall the example of one particular man, an asset to the Jonathan Presidency who practically ran away from the Villa. He said he needed to save his life. He was quite certain that if he continued to hang around, he would die.  I can’t talk about colleagues who lost daughters and sons, brothers and uncles, mothers and fathers, and the many obituaries that we issued. Even the President was multiply bereaved. His wife, Mama Peace was in and out of hospital at a point , undergoing many surgeries. You may have forgotten but after her husband lost the election and he conceded victory, all her ailments vanished, all scheduled surgeries were found to be no longer necessary and since then she has been hale and hearty.  By the same token, all those our colleagues who used to come to work to complain about a certain death beneath their waists and who relied on videos and other instruments to entertain wives (take it easy boys, I don’t mean nay harm, I am writing!), have all experienced a re-awakening.

Every one who went under the blade has received miraculous healing, and we are happy to be out of that place. But others were not so lucky. They died. There were days when convoys ran into ditches and lives were lost. In Norway, our helicopter almost crashed into a mountain. That was the first time I saw the President panicking, The weather was all so hazy and he just kept saying it would not be nice for the President of a country to die in a helicopter crash due to pilot miscalculations. The President went into a prayer mode. We survived. In Kenya once, we had a bird strike. The plane had to be recalled and we were already airborne with the plane acting like it would crash. During the 2015 election campaigns, our aircraft refused to start on more than one occasion. The aircraft just went dead. On some other occasions, we were stoned and directly targeted for evil. I really don’t envy the people who work in Aso Villa, the seat of Nigeria’s Presidency. For about six months, I couldn’t even breathe properly. For another two months, I was on crutches. But I considered myself far luckier than the others who were either nursing a terminal disease or who could not get it up.

When Presidents make mistakes, they are probably victims of a force higher than what we can imagine. Every student of Aso Villa politics would readily admit that when people get in there, they actually become something else.  They act like they are under a spell. When you issue a well- crafted statement, the public accepts it wrongly. When the President makes a speech and he truly means well, the speech is interpreted wrongly by the public. When a policy is introduced, somehow, something just goes wrong. In our days, a lot of people used to complain that the APC people were fighting us spiritually and that there was a witchcraft dimension to the governance process in Nigeria. But the APC folks now in power are dealing with the same demons. Since Buhari government assumed office, it has been one mistake after another. Those mistakes don’t look normal, the same way they didn’t look normal under President Jonathan. I am therefore convinced that there is an evil spell enveloping this country.  We need to rescue Nigeria from the forces of darkness. Aso Villa should be converted into a spiritual museum, and abandoned.

Should I become President of Nigeria tomorrow, I will build a new Presidential Villa: a Villa that will be dedicated to the all-conquering Almighty, and where powers and principalities cannot hold sway.  But it is not about buildings and space, not so?. It is about the people who go to the highest levels in Nigeria.  I really don’t quite believe in superstitions, but I am tempted to suggest that this is indeed a country in need of prayers, We should pray before people pack their things into Aso Villa. We should ask God to guide us before we appoint Ministers.  We should, to put it in technocratic language, advise that the people should be very vigilant. We have all failed so far, that crucial test of vigilance. We should have a Presidential Villa where a President can afford to be human and free. In the White House, in the United States, Presidents live like normal human beings. In Aso Villa, that is impossible. They’d have to surround themselves with cooks from their villages, bodyguards from their mother’s clans and friends they can trust. It should be possible to be President of Nigeria without having to look behind one’s shoulders. But we are not yet there. So, how do we run a Presidency where the man in the saddle can only drink water served by his kinsman?  No. How can we possibly run a Presidency where every President proclaims faith in Nigeria but they are better off in the company of relatives and kinsmen. No. We need as Presidents men and women who are wiling to be Nigerians. No Nigerian President should be in spiritual bondage because he belongs to all of us and to nobody.

Now let me go back to the spiritual dimension. A colleague once told me that I was the most naïve person around the place. I thought I was a bright, smart, professional doing my bit and enjoying the President’s confidence.  I spelled it out. But what I got in response was that I was coming to the villa using Lux soap, but that most people around the place always bathed in the morning with blood. Goat blood. Ram blood. Whatever animal blood. I argued. He said there were persons in the Villa walking upside down, head to the ground. I screamed. Everybody looked normal to me. But I soon began to suspect that I was in a strange environment indeed. Every position change was an opportunity for warfare. Civil servants are very nice people; they obey orders, but they are not very nice when they fight over personal interests.

The President is most affected by the atmosphere around him. He can make wrong decisions based on the cloud of evil around him. Even when he means well and he has taken time to address all possible outcomes, he could get on the wrong side of the public. A colleague called me one day and told me a story about how a decision had been taken in the spiritual realm about the Nigerian government. He talked about the spirit of error, and how every step taken by the administration would appear to the public like an error. He didn’t resign on that basis but his words proved prophetic. I see the same story being re-enacted. Aso Villa is in urgent need of redemption. I never slept in the apartment they gave me in that Villa for an hour.

Thank God, Buhari Is Listening, By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me openly express my secret fears all this while about this our beloved Change Government which so many people supported and used all their might to midwife. Most of them did not belong to the All Peoples Congress (APC) but they were armed with a common faith in the incorruptibility of one man, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), and his ability to arrest Nigeria’s supersonic slide into eternal perdition. The election was thus fiercely contested and keenly monitored. After 16 incredible years in power, with little to show for it, most Nigerians were palpably bored with the petulant, profligate and pernicious rulers in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and badly wanted a change.

But this change was not going to come on a platter of gold. Nigerians, and indeed the world, were scared stiff of the dangerous possibility of the ruling government refusing to hand over power even in the face of glaring defeat. We must salute the intervention of a few people and their various peace initiatives. Many probably forgot that two of Africa’s all-time greatest diplomats, Dr Kofi Annan (former Secretary-General of the United Nations) and Chief Emeka Anyaoku (former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth) with Senator Ben Obi (former Vice Presidential Candidate to former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar) joined forces to activate the original peace initiative that gave birth to the Abuja Accord signed by both President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari.

We must never forget the influential roles played by foreign powers led by the Americans, the British and others. President Barack Obama took more than cursory interest. He dispatched the Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Nigeria to meet and plead with the highly volatile dramatis personae to embrace peace. The peace accord designed and brokered by the troika of Kofi Annan, Emeka Anyaoku and Ben Obi and signed by Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari helped in no small measure to ensure that an incumbent African President voluntarily accepted defeat and after having conceded and called the winner, Western-style!

I have gone through this preamble to remind us of our contemporary history which some people apparently forgot as soon as power changed hands. A country that sat precariously on tenterhooks needed to be careful and magnanimous in victory. Even if there were terrible elements to be tackled, corrected and punished, the new government should have taken its time to study, plan and ultimately launch its offensive. Nigerians should have been allowed to enjoy their rare moment of giddy adulation. The last time we experienced such was after the Presidential election of June 12, 1993, won by the generalissimo, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, but was recklessly annulled by the military government for reasons never disclosed and for which full apologies are yet to be offered.

Unfortunately, the new ruling party mismanaged its hour of glory. The APC came to power seemingly only prepared for war against everyone including itself. They forgot to learn useful lessons from the uncommon example of the Madiba, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who immediately embraced his enemies after spending 27 years mostly in solitary confinement. Mandela must have discovered the wisdom that no nation can ever thrive in a perpetual state of chaos and mayhem. The hawks of Nigeria are used to feeding on corpses and would never forgive any sin of commission or omission.

The hawks were more interested in resurrecting and sustaining Brand Buhari of old – a military dictator and not that of the born-again Democrat we sold to the people during the political campaigns. They studiously ignored the fact that Buhari no longer had dictatorial powers of life and death and would now have to bow to Constitutional authorities in the National Assembly and the Judiciary. The acolytes gave him no time to even think of how to make the economy a priority or upgrade the Obasanjo methodology of fighting corruption. They were convinced all the masses wanted to hear was the sing-song of CRUCIFY HIM. They were definitely averse to the traditional Yoruba philosophy that explained the fickleness of the human thought process: Enu ti won fi pe Adegun naa ni won a fi pe Adeogun (the same mouth that hailed the crown would later abuse the crown).

Those who suggested caution were labelled as supporting corruption or worse still as corrupt elements fighting back! They were called wailing wailers and such nonsense. But we knew from the knowledge of Nigerian history that whatever war would be fought must be carefully considered, orchestrated and balanced with stabilising the country financially and economically. Starting the war precipitately was bound to destabilise our financial equilibrium. “Before you promise to donate dresses to someone else won’t it be nice to see what you’re adorning yourself”, according to a Yoruba adage. We sought to kill corruption and told the citizens to endure while the politicians continued to swim in opulence.

In the midst of all the confusion, somewhere in the country’s South-South region, the Niger-Delta Avengers began an unprecedented assault on Nigeria’s oil installations, decimating whatever was left of Nigeria’s oil wealth in the wake of a global oil crisis. An already ailing economy came crashing down to its knees. Observers of the scenario have described the fresh crisis in the Niger Delta region as a revenge mission targeted at what was largely perceived as a ruthless offensive by the Buhari administration against the PDP and key figures who served under the Jonathan administration which largely benefitted Niger-Delta politicians. I had warned nothing should be done to humiliate Jonathan who spent five out of the 16 years of PDP in power. The surrounding circumstances remain unclear, but one thing is clear; the cookies have finally crumbled.

The leader who listens to genuine advice will certainly succeed. It was obvious that the initial Buhari approach would not fly. We must retrace our steps and it is not too late to check how and where we got lost in the wilderness. I will summarise my previous suggestions.

Let us reconcile with every Nigerian regardless of ethnic, political and religious backgrounds. Let us do a comprehensive audit of what has been stolen from Nigeria and do a forensic search of the loot. The exercise should not be discriminatory or excessively punitive since it is retroactive. Those who have engaged in primitive accumulation of wealth without explanation or substantiation of sources should be asked for heavy returns, compensation and contributions to the State coffers. Those who are recalcitrant or unapologetic should be jailed!

A meeting of senior politicians should be arranged speedily. The agenda should be to get every public office holder to agree to a budget reduction of at least 50 percent on cost of governance. Those who want more can return to whatever business they were doing before offering to serve Nigeria. The Presidency is still outlandishly ostentatious. Same with the National Assembly and State Governments. Nigeria will never prosper under the current arrangement. If we do not commit to a major surgical obliteration of unnecessary government expenses, Nigeria will suffocate and collapse under the weight of greedy profligacy and probably bleed to death.

I’m happy to note there are signs that President Buhari is listening and responding to our humble admonitions. He should please continue. The token gesture of selling a few aircrafts pencilled down for sale by the previous administration is a good beginning. More should go very soon. There is no reason why we cannot charter Arik for long haul flights and keep the airline growing. It is never a sign of weakness to change bad decisions and wasteful flamboyance. Buhari’s greatest qualification for this job was his frugality and simplicity. Those dressing him up in borrowed robes are setting him up for monumental failure. Most of them and their associates did the same jobs for those who failed in the past. We lack the resources and the infrastructure of Great Britain yet we are more ceremonial than Her Majesty and Her Government. It is time to let the world see that we are serious for once by stopping our practice of capitalism without capital. If we are broke we should not be ashamed to admit it and adjust accordingly.

President Buhari should discard the toga of nepotism and chauvinism by reflecting Federal Character in all appointments. Nigeria has suffered too much under the yoke of ethnic cleansing. No leader can be in power forever. It is always more rewarding to do what is right and just knowing God will protect the leader. Promoting mediocrity in the name of tribal and parochial preference is already outdated. There is so much to achieve in an atmosphere of peace and cooperation and there is no better time than now when we are all groaning under the weight of recession. Our President has been awarded the greatest privilege of leading Nigeria again after being forced out of power over 30 years. He cannot afford to fail.

May God bless Nigeria through him.


To say I’m a great fan of Dr Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Isola Adenuga is an understatement. Since fate brought me in touch with him 25 years ago, I have never stopped to marvel at his incredible capacity for hard work and innovation. I have never seen him indulge in frivolities. His sense of patriotism is astounding. He sleeps and dream Nigeria.

His foray into telecommunications changed the way we communicate in Nigeria, and a few African countries, forever. He has touched the lives of millions of our youths and adults all over our dear beloved country. It is rare to find a Nigerian whose business has empowered the ordinary man on our streets like Adenuga. The Glo sim cards are available in cities, towns and villages and usually sold by young people including women. He has elevated the lives of our talented musicians, actors and comedians. His support for the Nigerian media is remarkable through generous advert placements. And all these he does quietly without seeking undue publicity. But we must try once in a while to salute the indomitable spirit of this silent powerhouse to encourage him.

Globacom, one of the most ambitious telecom operators in Africa, has just done it again. After single-handedly laying a submarine cable from Europe to Nigeria, Glo has upgraded its data services to the most blistering 4G LTE technology. Even before this epoch event, Glo was already the biggest player in the data field. Now it has taken the game to a much higher level that would be difficult to surpass. Glo makes all these investments to demonstrate its faith in Nigeria and Africa and so as not to short change our people in technological advancement across the world.

It is not every day that you hear the voice of the Guru himself, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr. But today he is proud to tell the world about the great news in a star-studded Glo commercial: “Once in a generation, a technology emerges that transforms a nation. Glo’s new 4G network is exactly that. It is by far, the fastest mobile Internet in Nigeria and the first with nationwide coverage. Government institutions and big businesses will have the tools they need to build the powerhouse of Africa. Small businesses will be enabled to make the big leap. Education will be more accessible. Medical procedures will be more advanced, and your home will become truly smart. With our most extensive national optic fibre network linked seamlessly to Glo 1 Submarine Cable, it is data speed and capacity beyond imagination. 4G will accelerate Nigeria’s progress into the super league and everyone will see their lives changed beyond recognition. The wait is over. Welcome to 4G LTE for Glo. Welcome to the new speed of life!”

This is it. The Spirit of Africa has set new standards from his bottomless reservoir of creativity and audacity. He deserves a standing ovation.

Tinubu’s ‘Right Of First Refusal’

It was French neoclassical architect, Jean Laurent Legeay who said “In politics, as in business, you must always ask for thirty pieces of silver even though you have more than enough”. Now whether this statement more aptly defines ‘greed’ than it does politics, is an entirely different matter. Anti-Tinubus have always asked, -often self-righteously- ‘What does Tinubu want?’

Or often they have used the more indictive, pidginised version of it: ‘Wetin Tinubu want sef?’ If you think that anti-Tinubus are merely using an irritably rhetorical piece of ‘question’ to make a wickedly unsolicited piece of ‘revelation’, you are right. Because what they are alleging by that question is that Tinubu is asking for ‘thirty pieces silver’ even though Tinubu has more than enough already.

But again ‘Wetin Tinubu want sef?’ may also insinuate the claim that the Jagaban is demanding for more than his ‘fair share’ of the ‘legitimate spoils of politics’. As if our non-provident brand of ‘politics’ panders only to the definitional essence of ‘who gets what, when and how’ among stakeholders, and not about ‘what gets to be done, where and when?’ among needy folks and their neglected communities.

But maybe these anti-Tinubus are right after all; we should ask especially the Jagaban to tell us ‘how much silver he wants again after the much silver he has already taken? Because even I do not know what Tinubu has already taken? Notwithstanding that the claim everywhere is that Tinubu has been recompensed in due measure. It is the reason that many are saying he should quit playing Oliver Twist and ‘let us hear word!’

Tinubu’s recommendation

But if, contrary to popular opinion even the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was not Tinubu’s nominee; if , in spite of earlier claims to the contrary, Fashola and Fayemi got into Buhari’s Cabinet on their own self recognition and not by Tinubu’s recommendation; if it is also true, as it had been touted before that none of the Ministers from the South West were nominated by Tinubu, the question then to ask is not ‘Wetin Tinubu want sef?’ but rather ‘Wetin dem give Tinubu sef?’

Because if in our political calculus, it is a ‘given’ that any who renders a ‘measure’ of ‘service’ in aid of his Party’s victory, has a right to draw an equal ‘measure’ of ‘reward’, then to claim that Tinubu has already gotten his due desert is to suggest that what has been rendered to Tinubu equals the ‘measure’ of service Tinubu has rendered to the Party. It also to suggest that all beneficiaries of the APC victory from the President himself to the Senate President, Speaker, Governors, ministers and all other elected or appointed party members, are where they are today strictly in recompense of their individual contributions to the victory of the Party.

By the way, many non-political actors too there are –ranging from statesmen, leaders of thought, traditional rulers and such other spiritual or temporal influence peddlers- who, without any contribution to the Party’s victory, or maybe even in spite of their rejection of the Party, have also recommended high ranking nominees for appointment. And which goes to prove that although it may be theoretically true that politics is about ‘who gets what?’ from the common purse, it is not necessarily about ‘who has given what’ to the common political struggle.

Lest we forget, Tinubu is not just ‘one of’ the ‘benefactors’ of the APC. In fact, in the measure of contribution to the Party, he alone stands in a class all by himself. Many -including some of the high ranking beneficiaries of the APC victory- were neither there during the delicate pre-natal challenges of the formation of the APC; nor were they there at the trying ante-natal stages of uncertain expectation; nor were they around to share in the excruciating pangs of the very labour that occasioned the eventual birth of APC. Most of the beneficiaries of the APC victory had come as desperate suitors only after the beautiful lassie had been nourished to what the Hausas would say ‘son kowa, qin wanda ya rasa’-anyone’s fair game.

But Tinubu was not just the father of it all; nor was he merely the revolution’s first rag-tag foot soldier; Tinubu was in fact the lone political actor –long even before the declaration of action- who had laid both the geo-political and the ideological infrastructure for the effective expression of the very ‘idea’ that had given birth to the revolution. Whereas his 8-years as Governor of Lagos State provided the ideological basis for a renaissance of progressive-governance, his one-man-army’s legal battle against the reactionary forces of electoral gerrymandering which re-claimed the South West, provided the geo-political launch-pad required for a pan-Nigerian initiative to liberate the country.

If the measure of what members had contributed to the Party’s victory is the measure of what they may take from the Party, most of those occupying elective or appointive offices today will not merit election as counselors or appointment as S.A.s to a Local Government Chairman. By the same token if the measure of what members had contributed to the Party’s victory is the measure of what they may take from the Party, Tinubu alone qualifies for a ‘blank cheque’ to draw to his heart’s content. A blank cheque is the closest I can get to conjuring metaphoric value to Tinubu’s invaluable contribution not just to APC’s victory but to saving Nigeria’s democracy.

Those who ask ‘what does Tinubu want?’ cannot claim not to know that the Jagaban has always wanted this: namely to bring the progressives into power, who in turn should bring about ‘good governance’. We have always sat back lamely and often praised notorious political godfathers imposing on us their surrogate political godsons for their own personal aggrandizement , but whenever politicians with altruistic motive attempt in any way to re-order our affairs, in a chorus we all yell and scream ‘John Wayne rides again!’

If Tinubu wanted to influence the election of NASS leadership so he could control the legislature –as they had alleged, the question will then arise ‘to what end would he have desired to do that’? Was it to subvert the government that he has dedicated the greater part of his political life to bring about? Or was it to do so in aid of it? Well then although Tinubu did not succeed in controlling the legislature, nonetheless the legislature has still fallen into the grip of two upstarts who have still managed to find their way to pull the trigger on us all. if we do not deal with a meddlesome Tinubu, we’ll have to deal with the duo of Saraki and Dogara.

And what did Lagos State lose or what did democracy in that State suffer, merely because out-going Governor Tinubu had influenced the election of his successor Fashola? Or that he played an active part in the election of Ambode, Fashola’s successor? If Tinubu has the democratic ‘Midas touch’ and can be trusted to put square and round pegs into their respective holes, what in the hell is wrong with that? Consensus, as they say, is not the enemy of democracy.

Tinubu has earned a democratic ‘right of first refusal’ and can be consulted not only on all key appointments of government but on all crucial matters of governance. Tinubu has earned and should be accorded the respect that his status deserves –at least if not in deference to his epic role as the pathfinder to the revolution, then maybe in recognition of his Leadership of the Party.

Am I suggesting that Tinubu is without sin? No! But so is no Nigerian politician, including Buhari, not without sin. But should we give up on leadership because there are no angels in our midst to lead our affairs? No! If it took men laden with the yoke of sin to bring us to this rot, it can also take men who had fallen from the yoke of sin and have risen up again, to partake in the rescue mission.

Political revolution

Tinubu has fathered a peaceful political revolution in Nigeria which has not only moved our democracy beyond a notch by its shattering of the myth of the invincibility of incumbency, but it has saved the nation from the malignance of a ruinous era of political impunity which was bent on balkanizing our country.

Political things in APC are fast getting out of hand; President Buhari needs to look to the Party even as he worries about the health of the economy. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!The Hausas say ‘Ba ‘a neman kare ranar farauta’ –‘You do not wait until the day of hunt, to search for your dog of hunt’

Postscript: The following is an excerpt from a previous piece ‘Tinubu and parable of the First Supper ‘.

“…..Asiwaju’ ‘The Leader’ is now simply Tinubu ‘The meddlesome interloper’! He is as they now claim ‘unnecessarily interfering with our democratic processes’ and must thus be cut to size. But did they not invest Tinubu with all the sobriquets and appellations of a ‘Leader’? Did they not say that he was the courageous ‘Jagaban’; the one who led from the front? And did Tinubu not lead them from the front? Selflessly giving his time, his energy and his resources? Did he not put his life on the line of a hysterically dangerous incumbency (Jonathan’s) desperately angling to keep power by hook or crook?

Did we not see –during the struggle to form the APC- the singular efforts of one man (Tinubu) who had corralled several ideological eggs into one political embryo, so as to give life to a new all-embracing political Party around which both progressives and even repentant fascists could congregate to make practicable what was thought well-nigh impossible, namely the enacting of the parting of the political Red Sea to say to a behemoth PDP ‘let my people go!’

We thought that we saw Tinubu walk the miles from the North West to the North East; from North Central to the South East and from the South West to the South-South to build strong bridges of geo-ethnic and geo-political consensus; planning and strategizing to form alliances, to create leagues of political amity and to search out for men and women of weight and of mettle; political and non-political actors with diverse gifts and varying competences, to man the many points of the opposition’s political rudder.

Successful merger

These efforts were rewarded with successes in the creation of the first ever successful merger, the formation of the first ever peoples Party, the conduct of one of the most transparent Party Primaries, the emergence of the most popular presidential candidate, the running of the most competitive Presidential electioneering campaigns, and the first ever defeat of incumbency by an opposition party in one of the most transparent Presidential elections.

But now that the political dinner table is set, surrounded, unfortunately, by opportunistic political vultures and hyenas, they are telling us that although Tinubu is an excellent political cook, he is not as good in the culinary art of dishing. That (he) must stay away from the Party’s First Political Supper! In fact, like Caesar they accused the Asiwaju of ambition. The same Tinubu who had publicly announced he declined a Buhari offer for Vice President.

Tinubu does not deserve this kind of treatment. The Asiwaju as the Party Leader and the Party are the veritable taproots of Mr. President. If they who care about Mr. President’s success are left at the mercy of the Party’s vultures and hyenas, sooner or later the shrub of the Presidency and its blooming foliage will feel the wilt. It is both morally and politically expedient that Buhari steps in to restore rank discipline and to assure the Asiwaju and the Party hierarchy he has their back’; just like they, through thick and thin, have always had Mr. President’s back.

Yakubu Dogara: When The Patriot Steps Up For Recognition, By Turaki A. Hassan

‘Leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.’ —Jim Rohn

By Turaki A. Hassan

Since he assumed office as the speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara has left no one in doubt that he was poised to leave an indelible mark in the sand of times.

Within the short period that he has presided over the affairs of the House, Dogara has brought dignity and prestige, not only to the office of the Speaker, but to the House of Representatives as an institution, but this is not surprising to close observers of the Dogara speakership. Having won a keenly contested election, he made a solemn promise to his colleagues, and indeed Nigerians, that under his leadership,  they “shall wage an unrelenting legislative war on Nigeria’s problems”. And this war, he has continued to wage legislatively to confront Nigeria’s myriad of problems.

Speaker Dogara’s stellar performance so far is as a result of a combination of his upbringing and his leadership skill, honed over time from experiences gathered in various positions he held both as a member of the House of Representatives and as a lawyer.

Born  in 1967 in Tafawa Balewa Province of Bauchi State, Dogara rose from a very humble background to the apex of legislative leadership, largely through a stint of hard work and favour from God. He was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2007 from one of the most diverse constituencies  in the country where Christians, Muslims, and many ethnic groups co-exist in peace. It is this potpourri of ethnic and religious mix that made it easy for him to easily win the confidence is his colleagues across religious and political divides.

Under his leadership, the House of Representatives has improved in leaps and bounds. Apart from setting up a committee to review obsolete and outdated laws, the House, under the guidance of Dogara, set a record by passing for first reading, 130 bills in one day.

It is imperative to point out that  in the 7th Assembly, which was rated high in terms of bills passage, 700 bills were presented in four years, while in just one session, about 600 bills were presented in the Green Chamber for consideration under the present leadership and almost 100 of them scaled third reading as at June 9, 2016.

It is not only in the area of lawmaking that the Speaker has excelled. As far as Dogara is concerned, to lead is to serve. And service he has been doing to not only his colleagues in the House of Representatives, but to his constituents, his state and indeed, the nation. He has used his vantage position as the speaker to draw attention to the deprivation and want of the people in the north east who have bore the brunt of terrorist activities.

In this regard, the Speaker  for the first time in the history of the House stepped down from his exalted chair and presented a motion on the urgent need for the rehabilitation, recovery, resettlement and reconstruction of the north east. Again, he is sponsoring a bill seeking to establish the North East Development Commission (NEDC) which will soon be passed into law.

Not only that, Dogara has also been advocating for the convocation of an international donor conference for the rebuilding of the violence ravaged north east. This, is in addition to his humanitarian visits to Internally Displaced Persons camps across the country where he takes the message of hope to the people apart from providing succour to them.

To him, public office is not meant for personal gains but for public good.  It is Dogara’s philosophy that leaders should at all times live exemplary lives of service, sacrifice and selflessness.

The Speaker always says that justice is needed in building a civil society, and that for societies to grow, leaders must understand the workings of justice which is necessary in any democracy for equality to thrive. In fact, he strongly believes that establishing both principles is necessary for Nigeria to make any meaningful progress.

Dogara’s argument is that for any society to grow and develop, the process of development must start from the base to the top because where you start from the top, you are digging a grave. He noted that in Nigeria, we have not only dug a grave for democracy but are possibly in the process of burying it, obviously  referring to the poor running of  local governments in the country.

It is also his belief that democracy, which is the best system of government ever to be invented by man, promises nothing to its citizens other than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That it is these tools of democracy that free citizens can leverage on and harness their potentials to build a greater, peaceful and prosperous society.

His practice of politics is that which is without bitterness. He believes in  consensus building and compromise. It is his political philosophy that  leadership is not a zero sum game and that at all levels and at all times, inclusiveness must be the guiding principles of leadership so that greater good can be delivered for the greater number of the people.

That ability to reach out, to concede; to compromise for peace, to expand his tentacles, to build consensus and remain calm and steady even in the face of unwarranted provocation from agent provocateur is what distinguishes Dogara as a leader. In a show of his political sagacity and dexterity, Dogara conceded the House Leadership position to his opponent in the Speakership election; an act which helped in no small way in stabilising the House  in the last one year.

The recent show of solidarity to the Speaker by his colleagues when the House reconvened from its annual recess in September is worth a mention here because it once again proved the doubting Thomases wrong and is an attestation to Dogara’s political prowess and wide acceptability amongst his colleagues in spite of deliberate, intentional, calculated and desperate attempts  by his traducers to discredit him and tarnish his hard-earned reputation by feeding the rather gullible Nigerian public with total falsehood, lies and  by distortion of facts. Thank God that Nigerians have since realised the antics of these disgruntled elements and unscrupulous individuals who are pursuing personal vendetta against him. 

Undoubtedly, these ignoble individuals thought that by telling and propagating the same lies again and again against Dogara, Nigerians will take it and believe them hook line and sinker. Unfortunately for them, they have forgotten that even Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s infamous war propagandist, had cautioned against such when asserted that, “there will come a day when all the lies will collapse under their own weight, and the truth will triumph again.” This is the moment of truth.

For all the years he spent in the National Assembly before becoming Speaker last year, Dogara had built for himself a well known reputation as an incorruptible lawmaker. Indeed, it is a well-known fact that in the 6th Assembly when he chaired the House Committee on Customs and Excise, Hon. Dogara rejected $5 million bribe and went ahead to conduct one of the most credible and thorough investigations that resulted in the reform of the Customs Service. What more can one say about him?

As Leadership Newspaper confers this honour on one of Nigeria’s leading legislative icons, this will no doubt spur him to strive harder to impact on the people of Nigeria whose interest is his major concern. It is well deserved.

Indeed, it was in recognition of Dogara’s political prowess and sterling leadership qualities that in June this year, he was conferred with the prestigious Zik Leadership award for Public Service for year 2015.

Interestingly, the Leadership Newspaper Group have also said they chose him for this prestigious award in recognition of his gallant display of political astuteness, quality of social capital and his cosmopolitan disposition.

Hassan (@turakies) is the Special Adviser, Media & Public Affairs to Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Prisms Of Empowerment And Hope, By Akintunde E. Akinade

In September 2016 ,young Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook described by Okey Ndibe as “one of the central deities in the global revolution called social media” held the Nigerian nation spellbound for about three days.
He not only jogged on Fashola’s bridge connecting Victoria Island and Ikoyi, he also walked freely on the streets of Yaba and enjoyed what looked like a sumptuous meal of pounded yam and fresh fish.

At the end of his short adventure to Nigeria he concluded that the technological and entrepreneurship spirit of young Nigerians are simply stupendous.
This observation captures a non-negotiable fact about the Nigerian terrain. It is a nation blessed with abundant natural and human resources.

The perplexing paradox however is that in spite of these resources, Nigeria is still groping in the dark about creative ways to harness these God-given resources. My simple thesis in this article is that education holds the perennial lynchpin for unlocking human potentials and aspirations. I am not making this assertion in vacuum; rather, it is connection with the recent official commissioning of Osogbo Government High School by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 1, 2016. I will use this development as a credible and empirical litmus test for making my case for a new appropriation of education in Nigeria.
This article seeks to contextualize and problematize the issue at stake within the Nigerian polity. It also proffers some insights on how to move the country forward. This article underscores the paradox of the Nigerian state. It is a nation that is confronted with many challenges on several fronts, but yet, it is a nation with so much promise. I submit that quality education is an essential key to sustainable long-term socio-economic transformation. It seems to be that Governor Rauf Aregbesola understands the importance of education in the overall development of the Nigerian nation, hence his unalloyed commitment to his initiatives in education.

Recently in his contribution to the Private Sector Summit at the United Nations Global Assembly, with the theme: ‘Securing the Way Forward,’ Wale Tinubu, the Chief Executive of Oando Plc., asserted that education, innovation, and good governance remain key facets to socio-economic growth. I affirm without any equivocation that education is the most powerful empowerment tool within any society. It simply provides people with choices. Education provides an auspicious opportunity to embark on a new narrative in the State of Osun and in the entire nation. It is the best ingredient for reinventing the “Nigerian project.” Education is more than textbooks and knowledge by rote; rather, it provides a worldview and a new orientation.

I recently visited Edgewood College, in Lekki, Lagos. The founder and Executive Director of the school, Mrs. Kehinde Phillips beamed when she talked about the achievements of the graduates from the school. Students at the school come from different socio-economic backgrounds, but they graduate with a new sense of empowerment. They know that they can change the world through the power of education.
The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

Right from an early stage, Yoruba people memorize a nursery rhyme that simply states that: Bata re a dun ko ko ka to ba ka iwe e, meaning you will walk with commanding and resounding steps if you take your academic work seriously. This is an effective way of affirming that through education, people can achieve upward socio-economic mobility. This is a powerful process of “conscientization” to borrow a word from the Brazilian educator Paulo Fierre or building what Niyi Akinnaso has described as “literacy and individual consciousness.”

The motto of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife is “Learning and Culture.” Education is not about abstract knowledge but it should contribute to the development of the virtues of an omoluabi. The lessons garnered throughout such an educational odyssey become part of what the ancient Latin scholars dubbed vade mecum (carry me wherever you go) for life. In light of this perspective, education becomes imole aye, the light of the world to borrow a phrase from the singer Oladotun Aremu. This is a worldview that shines in the midst of darkness.
All over the globe, Nigerian students are raising the educational bar. Recently, a 21-year old Nigerian emerged as University of Kent’s most outstanding graduating student. In 2012, the US Bureau of Statistics affirmed that Nigerians are the most educated immigrant community in the United States. Nigerians have overtaken Indians and Pakistanis who had previously basked in the glory of the most educated immigrant community in the United States. As I was writing this article, Hillary Clinton sent a message on twitter: “I want to give a big THANK YOU to my Doctor who travels everywhere with me, Dr. Oladotun Okunola. I wouldn’t be here without him. Literally.” One can conveniently write a compelling monograph on the educational and professional achievements of Nigerians all over the globe.

In a season of dire recession, there are many daunting challenges. Governor Rauf Aregbesola must take these challenges very seriously. As someone who has taught in educational institutions in Nigeria, the United States, and Qatar, I know that these are formidable challenges. However, in spite of various fissiparous forces, it seems to me that State of Osun has made a bold step in re-positioning and re-affirming the legacy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo by pulling resources together to construct several magnificent educational institutions all over the state. A journey of one thousand miles begins with one step. After all, an African proverb states that “by crawling, a child learns to stand.” A step in the educational path is the right one. The building of human capital remains a sine qua non for any society.

Many African leaders from Mandela to Nyerere understood the remarkable power of education in transforming individuals, communities, and the world. In the midst of meager resources, both Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Governor Rauf Aregbesola have embarked on impressive educational projects.

The former started Osun State University with campuses in different parts of the State while the later has demonstrated his commitment to educational advancement by providing a new road map for schools in the State. The new building projects are empirical testimonies to his dream and vision. He has also supported an initiative under the Obafemi Awolowo Educational Foundation for the recruitment of indigenes of the State of Osun to Education City in Doha, Qatar. Three students from the state are currently studying in three universities in Doha. These are Georgetown University, Northwestern University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

It is my sincere hope that this laudable program will continue to attract young, enterprising, and academically gifted Nigerians. I have witnessed the tremendous positive growth and development of all the recruited students. Abdulqudus Sanni, the student at Georgetown University is already working on breaking the school’s academic record.

In the right educational context, Nigerians would flourish and excel. I solemnly remain a prisoner of hope concerning the power of education for empowerment in the State of Osun. The official commissioning of the massive Osogbo Government High School speaks loudly to the audacity of hope in the midst of rampant pessimism, cynicism, and grotesque fabrications.
We ignore or dismiss the transformative potential of education at our peril. As Isiaka Adeleke, the former Governor of the State of Osun rightly said in his piece on Osun at 25, the beat continues!

• Akinade, an ordained minister in the Anglican Church of Nigeria, is a Professor of Theology at Georgetown University’s Edmund E. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is the author of Christian Responses to Islam in Nigeria: A Contextual Study of Ambivalent Encounters (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan Press, 2014). Within the American Academy of Religion, he serves on the Editorial Board on its flagship journal, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion (JAAR) and also on the International Connections Committee.