OPF Congratulates FG, APC On Board Appointments

… advises better party/government synergy

Osun Positive Force, a socio political organisation in the state of Osun congratulates all members of the All Progressives Congress(APC) on the recent appointment of party faithfuls as Board Members and Board Chairmen into Federal Government Agencies and Parastatals.

The Founder and Leader of the Osun Positive Force, Dr. Ajibola Basiru said he is happy that members have been recognized for their dedication and hard work for the success of the party at the 2015 elections and he hopes that the FG will continue to include more members that are qualified from the APC into the Government they all laboured for.

Furthermore, on the discovery that few recently appointed members are already dead and that some have switched allegiance from our great and progressive party after the 2015 elections and compilation of the initial list, OPF advised that the party should not be seen as a strange bedfellow to the government so that these lapses could be avoided in the future with synergy between the central and state party structure on the one hand and the federal Government on the other.

Osun Positive Force wishes everyone a Happy New year 2018 in advance.

Outrage Over Arrest and Release Of Innoson CEO Among Other Newspaper Headlines Today

There is a growing outrage over the arrest and eventual release on bail of Innocent Chukwuma, the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Group by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.

Vanguard reports – Innoson Boss Flown To Lagos In Shorts on a day waves of condemnation trailed his arrest, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, flew Chairman of Innoson Group of Companies, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, to Lagos in shorts, according to one of his aides.

Daily Sun captions it Innoson’s Arrest: Anger In Senate with the initial dust raised by the arrest of the Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Motors, Innocent Chukwuma, by the EFCC snowballed into an outrage as the nation’s upper legislative chamber and the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) flayed the involvement of the anti-graft commission in civil matter.

The Guardian leads with the story Crisis Looms as Camerounian Migrants Invade Cross River saying that an humanitarian crisis may soon hit some communities in Boki Local Council of Cross River State with the illegal migration of over 8,000 Camerounians from the English-speaking (Anglo-phone) part of the country.

Moves to increase the scope of work of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway catches the attention of Punch as its lead story reads FG Considers Increasing Scope of Work To N300bn as members of the Federal Executive Council, on Wednesday, embarked on a marathon meeting that saw them approving contracts totaling about N960bn.

The unending crisis currently engulfing the Peoples Democratic Party PDP expressly captioned in the Nigerian Tribune as New PDP Faction Emerges, Opens Secretariat in Abuja. It says A group, which goes by the name “Fresh PDP”, on Wednesday, claimed that it had become the new leadership of the party, backing it up by opening a secretariat in Abuja.

Race for 2019 makes it way as the lead story of The Nation newspaper with the headline; El-Rufai to Atiku: Prove You Funded Buhari’s Campaign as Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai threw the challenge and stated why the former Vice President quit the All Progressives Congress  APC  –  there was no room for him to run for the President after Governors endorsed Buhari for a second term.

Nigerian Police Contributes N10 Billion To National Housing Fund

The Inspector – General of the Nigeria Police Force on Tuesday, Mr Ibrahim Idris, said it had contributed over N10 billion in remittances to the National Housing Fund since the inception of the scheme.

Idris made the disclosure at the inauguration of the Nigeria Police Mortgage Bank Cash Centre and ATM gallery in Abuja.

Idris said that the establishment of the bank became imperative to provide police officers with unhindered access to the National Housing Fund.

He also said that the bank had also provided officers with loans at lower interest rates than obtained in other commercial banks.

He promised to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of all police investments to enhance welfare of personnel.

“It is my earnest belief that the Nigeria Police Mortgage Bank is strategically positioned to drive our ambitious welfare agenda,”the police boss said.

He said that the force would continue to support and encourage synergy toward achieving the welfare objectives of the bank.

He said that the police management would consider ways of encouraging and engaging other police investments and Institutions in mobilising fund to support the bank.

The Chairman, Board of Directors of the bank, retired DIG Uba Ringim, said that the bank had successfully disbursed mortgage loans to over 500 police personnel.

Ringim said the bank had also processed over 400 National housing fund loans approval from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria for personnel.

He further said that over 200 police officers were beneficiaries of other loan products with the lowest interest rates.

He said that the cash centre would avail the bank customers with the opportunity to walk in and access wide range of products and mortgage services.

The chairman said that the bank had obtained CBN approval for the deployment of three additional ATMs in Garki, Wuse and Dei-Dei, all in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN ) reports that the Nigeria Police Mortgage Bank commenced business in 2015 to provide personnel with affordable and quality housing.

 

Four Killed As Boko Haram Attacks UN Convey

Suspected Boko Haram members this weekend attacked and killed four United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) aides that were conveying food items to residents of Ngala, Borno state. The sect members carted away the food items that were being transported.

In a statement released this morning, the spokeswoman of the agency, Jane Howard, said

“WFP can confirm that a convoy escorted by the Nigerian military including WFP-hired trucks was the subject of an attack by armed groups 35 km southwest of Ngala in Borno State on Saturday. Four people, including the driver of a WFP-hired truck and a driver’s assistant, were killed in the incident. WFP is working with the authorities to determine the whereabouts of the trucks”

The Nigerian military is yet to react to this attack. This would not be the first time members of the UN would be attacked. Recall that an attack which left two of its members injured lead to the UN suspending aid deliveries in Borno.

 

Lagos Deputy Governor Raises A Voice For Rural Women

Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, on Saturday, appealed to Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR), a women support group, to extend its capacity building programmes to the rural areas.

Speaking to the theme, ‘Developing Women to Build a Better Nation,” she said it was time women stood for themselves because men won’t yield space for them at the tenth anniversary of WISCAR. She noted that taking up the challenge would not only be an added advantage for WISCAR, but would also add value to the lives of women who are less privileged.

“I made the request because for us in this hall we are educated and listen to all sort of encouragement, but others can’t be part of this capacity building because they don’t have the chance to know what’s going on,” she said.

Reacting to the deputy governor’s request, founder of WISCAR, Amina Oyagbola, said though it was a big challenge, the board of her organisation would think about it.

UAE Deports Shafiq Egyptian Presidential Hopeful

Ahmed Shafiq, former vice-president of Egypt and a presidential hopeful in next year’s election has been deported by UAE, back to Egypt.

Shafiq had been living in the Gulf country, along with his family, since 2012. He served under Hosni Mubarak.

His deportation came after he announced his candidacy in upcoming elections and that he was being prevented from leaving the country.

His Emirati hosts were said to have been angered by the remark, according to the AFP

Shafiq landed in Cairo airport on Saturday evening and quickly left to an unknown destination, an airport official said.

The UAE state news agency WAM had reported that Shafiq left the country for Egypt, while his family stayed behind, but did not mention that he had been deported.

Shafiq, a former army general appointed as prime minister by Hosni Mubarak, had narrowly lost an election to Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2012, a year after Mubarak’s overthrow.

He was placed on trial after the polls on corruption charges and acquitted, and one of Shafiq’s lawyers said last year that he was free to return to Egypt.

One aide said she witnessed officials arriving at his Abu Dhabi house and was told that Shafiq, seen as a main challenger to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, would be deported to Egypt on a private plane.

“They took him from the house and put him on a private plane. They said he would go back to Cairo, because they can deport him only to his home country,” she said.

Another aide confirmed to AFP that he would be deported to Cairo, and his lawyer Dina Adly wrote on Facebook that Shafiq had been “arrested” to be sent home.

An aide had previously said Shafiq would leave the UAE over the weekend for France and other European countries before returning to Egypt.

After he announced his candidacy on Wednesday, pro-government media and some officials assailed Shafiq, who is seen as the only challenger to Sisi with even a remote chance of winning a large number of votes.

Another tentative candidate, leftist Khaled Ali, is facing legal troubles that may prevent him from registering, while a hitherto unknown army colonel has also announced his candidacy.

Sisi, a former army chief who toppled Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist, won an election in 2014.

He is certain to run in next year’s election, although he has not formally announced his candidacy yet.

The authorities under Sisi had launched a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group that extended to secular and non-Islamist dissidents as well.

Sisi has undertaken tough economic reforms that saw the Egyptian pound lose more than half its value while inflation sky rocketed, supported by an IMF $12 billion loan.

Yet he remains popular with many Egyptians who, wearied by years of tumult that decimated tourism and foreign investment, say the country needs a firm leader.

Egypt is also battling a deadly Islamic State group insurgency that the army has struggled to put out.

Last month, suspected Islamic State group gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers in a Sinai peninsula mosque, provoking outrage in Egypt but also questions on why the Sufi-associated mosque had been unguarded after receiving threats from the IS extremists.

GEJ Accuses Borno Governor Of Frustrating War Against B’Haram

Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, former Minister of Youth and Sports recently launched a book the Ex President Goodluck Jonathan refers to as a mere gossip that is full of lies.

The book, which is titled, “On a Platter of Gold — How Jonathan won and lost Nigeria,” was launched in Abuja on Thursday.

At the launch, Borno State Governor, Mr. Kashim Shettima, described the former President as a bad leader who made poor choices while in power.

But, Jonathan, in a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, in Abuja on Friday, described the governor’s claims as parochial and jaundiced.

The former President debunked the allegations of poor governance and highlighted what he described as his key achievements, which he said were yet to be matched by any other leader.

He further challenged the governor to come clean about the roles he allegedly played in the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, stressing that it went beyond the dismissive claim that “Jonathan thought I kidnapped Chibok girls.”

Jonathan also accused the governor of frustrating the war against Boko Haram.

The statement read in part, “He [Shettima] should be able to tell us if it was Jonathan’s poor choices that led the governor to expose the students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Chibok to an avoidable danger, in total disregard of a Federal Government’s directive to the governors in the three states most affected by Boko Haram to relocate their students writing the West African Senior School Certificate Examination to safe zones.

“The governor is now denying that he had no hand in the kidnap of the Chibok girls even before anybody accused him of culpability. However, we share the view of those who insist that the governor had other things up his sleeve when he promised the West African Examinations Council that he would secure the girls and ended up doing the very opposite, by deliberately abandoning them to their fate, without any security presence in their school.”

The former President said that it was instructive that while other governors in the zone heeded the security advice, Shettima was the only one who “flagrantly” flouted it.

“Should we also fail to point out that his decision to reward the principal of Chibok Secondary School, who was uncharacteristically absent on the night the terrorists stormed the school, with the post of a commissioner, did throw up more questions than answers?” he asked.

He challenged the governor to explain to the people of Borno State and Nigerians what he did with the over N60bn Local Governments Fund, which he said were left by his predecessor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.

The former President further described Abdullahi’s book as sour grapes — full of lies and gossip.

He said it was unfortunate that Shettima claimed at the presentation of the book that he [Jonathan] wasted the goodwill he commanded because of bad governance and poor choices in office.

The statement said, “As a man who had never seen anything good in the administration of Jonathan on account of party and other differences, it has remained our consistent view that in a democracy, Governor Kashim Shettima and others like him are entitled to their opinion, no matter how jaundiced.

“However, it is a sad commentary on the character of some of our politicians that they go to any length to make spurious statements in pursuit of the sad narrative to remain politically correct.

“We cannot be deceived by his crocodile tears and patronising claim that ‘Jonathan is essentially a decent man,’ which is a ploy he deployed to justify his false allegation of a lost glory.

“The man who today speaks of squandered goodwill should be able to tell Nigerians what percentage of the votes Jonathan got in 2011 from Borno State at the height of that his envisaged glory, according to Shettima, and what it became in subsequent elections.

“What was obvious yesterday and has remained today is that Governor Shettima and those who think like him never liked Jonathan based on some parochial and paternalistic sentiments.”

The statement further said that the Jonathan government assembled a “yet-to-be-matched crop of dynamic cabinet and economic management team made up of tested technocrats like Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (former Minister of Finance), Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman (former Minister of National Planning), Mr. Olusegun Aganga (former Minister of Trade and Investments) and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (President of the African Development Bank and former Minister of Agriculture).

Obanikoro Dumps PDP

Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defense officially joined the ruling party-APC on Saturday, 24th of November, 2017.

It was reported that Obanikoro’s defection at his Lagos Island constituency ended months of speculations about the status of his political allegiance.

There were earlier reports that he had settled his differences with the national leader of APC, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu , as a step to joining the ruling party.

Though Obanikoro acknowledged reconciliation with Tinubu, he had neither denied nor confirmed plans to join his political mentor in APC.

He, however, finally gave the hint of his defection during a television interview on Thursday.

Obanikoro defected to the APC along with other PDP bigwigs in the state, including a former aide of former president Good luck Jonathan, Mrs Modupe Sasore.

Others are a national officer of the PDP, Mr Jide Damazio, and another PDP chieftain, Chief Kola Balogun.

They were received by chieftains of APC, including the state chairman, Chief Henry Ajomale; Alhaji Kashim Imam, Chief James Odunbaku as well as the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr Adeniji Kazeem who represented Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode.

Past and serving members of the National Assembly including Sen. Ganiyu Solomon, Sen. Gbenga Ashafa and Rep. Jide Jimoh were among APC bigwigs present.

He described Obanikoro as politically experienced and sagacious, and said his joining the party would no doubt add to the electoral fortune of the party in the state.

“We are happy to receive Obanikoro back in our fold. He was with us when we started the Alliance for Democracy (AD) but he decided to go the other way.

“Thank God he has realised his mistake and he is back. We are indeed happy to get back this big fish, along with others.

“Obanikoro is an asset and he will no doubt add value to our party,’’ he said.

Obanikoro, in his speech, said he was happy to return to the fold of his age-long political associates after his long sojourn in the PDP.

He said he defected because he couldn’t find fulfillment in the PDP and he joined the ruling party because he had a mission to render service on its platform.

The ex-minister said his former party could not offer him the platform for the kind of service he wanted to render.

“Today, I and others are not just joining the APC for joining sake, we are joining because we are on a mission.

“I had joined the PDP a few years ago with the hope that certain things would be done right to enable me make the desired impact. That did not happen.

“And now, Asiwaju Tinubu has taken leadership to another level, not only in the state, but at the national level.

“So, my joining the APC is not by accident. It is to return to my people and seek a platform on which I can render service to my people, because leadership is about service and co-ordination of talents to achieve results.

“We have looked everywhere, and the only party that offers that platform for service delivery is the APC.

“For me, this is not really a defection; it is a home-coming, because in a way, this is my root. I am happy to return to my people; no place like home,” he said.

Obanikoro praised the leadership style of Tinubu, which he said had ensured the development of the state.

He thanked Tinubu for being magnanimous to accept him back in the fold after years of altercations between them.

“I thank Tinubu for his magnanimity. I am here because he is generous and has a forgiving heart. If it were other leaders, they will say ‘God forbid’.

“He has accepted me back despite all the issues between us, I am grateful to him,” Obanikoro said.

The former minister said he we would do his best to add value to his new party.

The National Vice-Chairman of the APC (South West), Chief Puis Akinyelure, who represented Tinubu, said the party was glad with the home-coming of Obanikoro and others. He said the defection meant the PDP was dead as Obanikoro was one of its pillars in the state.

It was a carnival-like ceremony as party faithful danced and sang to receive Obanikoro and the others as popular Fuji musician, Wasiu Ayinde, was on hand to thrill those present.

Self Professed Pastor Turns Followers to Sex and Domestic Slaves

The arrest of Self professed Pastor Abraham Roland, an Edo indigene who runs a cult-like fellowship that started as a tutorial centre for admission seekers and students, has turned up some startling revelations.

The revelations were made by his right hand man, David Ogbonnaya, who worked closely with him for over 10 years.

Unmarried Roland ran his circle of followers made up of only young men and women, allegedly brainwashing them and cutting them off from their families and friends and turning them into both sex and domestic slaves.

Ogbonnaya, his right hand person, who once got an admission to the University of Lagos, dropped out after being told by Roland that with Holy Spirit, he did not need to go to school.

He said he served his boss faithfully to the point where he said he would have committed murder without thinking twice while he was under Roland’s control.

Ogbonnaya said, “I gained admission along with three other members – Tosin and Busayo (now in rehab), and one Ifemosun Tosin – at the University of Lagos the same year. He started by asking us to bring our school fees to him. He later asked us to drop out.

“He always preached against western education. I think he knows that books would make us wise. He told us that once we had the Holy Spirit, we did not need education.

“He started a programme with a slogan ‘Child of God, what are you doing in human academic institution.’ The aim was to discourage as many people as possible from being educated.

“He told us to stay away from reading books and never to listen to any other pastor. He said Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar, Bishop David Oyedepo and Pastor Enoch Adeboye were his ‘children’ because God had given him the task of taking over the world.”

it was learnt that he established his tutorial centre called ‘Sound Mind for admission seekers’ in 2003 and later started ‘Sound Mind Students’ Fellowship, which drew membership among university undergraduates in the neighbourhood.

According to Ogbonnaya, Roland decided to end the tutorial section to focus on just the fellowship.

He said, “I was this young man who just wanted help to get education and ended up dropping out and becoming the leader of his fellowship.

“One of the other leaders of the fellowship is a lady called Abi. She is now in rehabilitation after being liberated. She is recovering very fast.

“The man (Roland) slept with all the ladies at the centre. There was a time he took me along when a girl asked him the reason why he was sleeping with all the other girls in the camp.

“He took me along because he trusted me so much. He knew I would never believe what the girl was saying. The idea was to meet the girl and silence her before she exposed the matter.”

Ogbonnaya said while the lady in question challenged Roland for sleeping with the other female members of the group, his loyalty clouded his sense of reasoning.

He said that he was not concerned about knowing the truth about his boss.

Ogbonnaya said, “After the incident, he called me and said he needed to explain some things about what I witnessed.

“He told me that the girl was challenging him out of jealousy. He said he was sleeping with her and that it was the lady who requested for it.

“He claimed that she once told him that she was horny and that because he did not want her to go out and sin, he decided to help her by ‘relieving’ her with sex.”

Ogbonnaya said he later went to meet the young woman to challenge her about her action towards his boss.

He said the revelation the girl made shocked him.

Ogbonnaya revealed that Roland had been having anal sex with the young ladies in the camp.

He said, “The lady told me that her female counterparts in the group were complaining that the anal sex he practised was affecting their anuses. They were having sores all the time.

“She caught them discussing about the pain in their anuses. That was why she decided to confront him. He forced some of the girls to kiss him and perform oral sex on him. But it got to a point that many of the ladies did it willingly. Only few had to be forced to do it.”

He explained that despite the consistent anal sex, the young ladies could not run away because he allegedly enslaved them mentally.

According to Ogbonnaya, despite the revelation from Abi, he was still loyal to Roland to the point that if he had instructed him to kill the young lady in order to silence her, he would have done it without question.

“There were times he asked me to beat people up or slap them. He once asked me to slap some ladies very hard because they were depressed over the way he was having sex with them all the time.

“He was trying to bring them out of their depression and said the slap was the best way. That is why he took me along to anywhere he went to.”

Ogbonnaya said every member of the group was taught to interprete everything they see spiritually even when the truth was staring them in the face.

“He told us not to ever try to process things in our head but to view everything spiritually. He also told each person to watch the other to prevent us from ganging up against him.

Ogbonnaya explained that Roland had mastered the art of brainwashing people.

According to him, on a daily basis, they prayed for at least six hours, speaking in tongues alone.

“He told us that we should only pray in tongues and think of what we want in our minds.

“By the time the prayer was over, we would be so convinced of whatever he told us. We called ourselves ‘rebels’.

“If he had handed us weapons to go and kill, we would have done so without question. He said whatever we did in the name of Jesus was right.

Ogbonnaya explained that he would deliver a long mind-bending sermon that would twist their thinking.

He said, “He could talk about how Ruth followed Naomi despite the fact that the latter had nothing for about six hours. Then, he would give us a break of one hour to meditate on what he said. After that, he would say, ‘You people can leave me alone. I am not forcing you to follow me. That reinforced our loyalty to him the more.

“He brainwashed us by first telling us things that we could easily believe, he then moved to the stage of telling us that we needed to go deeper in our faith. He said going deep in faith comes with responsibilities and to join him in ruling the world like God had promised him, we must be willing to make sacrifices.

“He said he was the one who would present the world to God and that anybody who did not believe in him would perish.”

Roland’s followers became so loyal to him to the point of not just servicing his sexual appetite but also begging for alms on the street to feed him, it was learnt.

His followers, both male and female would dress up ‘corporately’ and beg for money at the Adedoyin Street, Kosofe, Lagos, where he was based before relocating due to inability to pay rent.

Ogbonnaya said, “On Adedoyin Street in Kosofe, we are very popular as Roland’s followers who would wear suit and beg people around there for money.

“If you go to the Redeemed Camp at Mowe and ask at Shiloh Apartment, they would tell you how we lodged there and ran away with their money. If you go to Tantalizers at the Redeemed camp too, they would tell you how we went there to beg for food. We once ate there and had to submit our phones as collateral when we could not pay.

“He collected all the money we had. He would say he was giving us an opportunity to use our faith. He said if we had money, we would not be able to use our faith.”

According to Ogbonnaya, Roland frequently billed his followers various sums of money like N2,000, N3,000.

According to him, he might tell them to go get him pepper soup and yoghurt by any means and they would be forced to go into the street to beg for money.

He said, “Sometimes, he could say there was need to rent a hall and he would order us to go and find the money anyway we could. He turned us to slaves and beggars.

“Sometimes, he would send a message to all of us. It would read: ‘6am, 25c, N3,000’. That was an instruction for each of us to get N3,000 each to him by 6am the following day. He was living at Block 25c at the Redeemed Camp along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway at the time because he could not afford a proper apartment.

“We would all start looking for N3,000 each. We would call our parents, families and friends and lie to them just to be able to get the money.

“Sometimes when we got the amount demanded, we would have nothing left for transport. We would have to board public transport and beg the conductor to give us free rides or passengers to pay for us.

“At other times, we trekked long distances just to get the money to him. If you did not get the money, he would make you feel so bad that you would feel like committing suicide.

“He told us whatever we did in the name of Jesus was right and he always had copious quotes from the scripture to back himself up.”

Ogbonnaya also revealed that Roland told each of his members to stop counting their ages.

He added that he had so brainwashed his female followers that they all believed they were going to marry him.

He also told our correspondent that each of the man’s followers took various forms of oaths.

He recounted a strange incident when Roland demanded the “lights” of each male member.

Ogbonnaya said, “We did this by making a gesture of taking something from our heart and putting it in a cup. Each of us who were men repeated the action. He then drank from the cup.”

Finally, late in 2016, Ogbonnaya broke free from a decade of subservience to Roland.

According to him, he started having doubts when he realised that he was suffering deeply.

According to him, he hardly got food to eat while he could do anything to give money to his boss.

He said he just ran away from where Roland housed them in a remote part of Mowe.

But he said few weeks after he left, he went back to Roland crying and begging for the pastor to take him back.

“I was still under his influence. It was after that that I realised I was in serious bondage and I had to find a way to report to the security agencies what we were going through,” Ogbonnaya said.

Some of the young women liberated from Roland’s camp are still in rehabilitation.

The Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Command, Mr. Tajudeen Balogun whose men raided the camp, said Roland had been handed over to the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related offences.

Zonal Commander of NAPTIP, Mr. Joseph Famakin, said investigation was still ongoing on the extent of Roland’s crime.

Gowon Gives Candid Advice To Nnamdi Kanu

Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), A former Head of State, has advised the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to seek dialogue with the Federal Government rather than agitate to address issues affecting the South-East. He advised the IPOB leader not to seek disintegration as it could lead to loss of lives.

Gowon stated this on Friday while presenting his paper titled, “Unity in diversity: Responding to the current challenges of nation-building in Nigeria,” at the 2017 Distinguished Annual Lecture of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Jos, Plateau State.

He said, “My young friend, Nnamdi Kanu, was not born during the civil war, which was declared ‘no victor, no vanquished.’ It is sad to recall what happened at that time; the best way to seek redress is through dialogue.

“Kanu should pursue a healthy conversation on issues he is not comfortable with as it affects his people; this is the only way we can collaborate effectively and have things resolved amicably.”

Speaking further at the event, Gowon said that the activities of Fulani herdsmen had posed a threat to nation-building. The elder statesman asked the Federal Government to address the issue, which he said had become a nightmare for the country.

He said, “Today, the activities of nomadic herdsmen and cattle rustlers pose a serious challenge to the process of state-building.

“The activities of these groups have also polarised communities along ethnic and religious fault lines, which have had a serious impact on state-building.” Gowon said one of the solutions to dealing with the problem of herdsmen attacks was to find those supplying them arms as the Fulani in the past were not known for carrying arms.

Insisting that the creation of Nigeria was for a purpose, Gowon said, “There is nowhere else other than Nigeria that God assembled the highest concentration of black people around the world in one country.

A Man Without Bitterness: Tribute To Alex Ekwueme By Dan Agbese

The bells tolled for Dr Alex Ekwueme on November 19. And the former vice-president answered the call that no mortal has the power to reject. In his going, we have lost the most level-headed politician our country has ever produced. If you describe Nigerian politicians as gentlemen, you waste the word. If you describe Ekwueme as a gentleman, you nail the word. It is the word that best describes him as a politician and as a statesman.

I first met the then vice-president sometime in 1983. I was editor of the New Nigerian at the time. I sought an appointment to see him because I was increasingly worried about the allegations of corruption against the Shagari administration that had become disturbingly rife. He graciously received me in his well-appointed office. I did not go through a phalanx of protocol and security men to see him. He was alone in his office when he welcomed me with a moderated smile. He had not yet cultivated the grey mane of his later years. I saw a handsome man who, I thought, did not quite cut the picture of the expansive Nigerian politician. What he exuded was the air of political power but the cool, calm air infused with intellectualism. He was so disarming that I felt momentarily disarmed. He asked after my family. I found that both unusual and interesting. He said my newspaper was doing a good job with its editorial stand on national issues. I felt my head expanding with pride.

I then brought up what took me to his office. I asked him if they were aware of the allegations of corruption against the government. And if so, what were they doing about it?

He admitted they were aware of the allegations but that they found it difficult to do anything about them because no one was prepared to back up his allegations with verifiable facts. As I recall, he said, “Once you ask people to bring the facts, they either clam up or disappear altogether. No government can deal with corruption without facts. The opposition parties believe they have a duty to give this administration a bad name by making such wild allegations. It is all primitive politics. I think what they fail to realise is that they are not just smearing this administration; they are also reducing the prestige and the integrity of our country in the international community.”

He spoke calmly and from the heart. As he spoke, I could feel his pain, the sort of pain honest people feel when they helplessly watch their names being dragged through the mud.

I cannot recall the details of how our conversation drifted to India. Ekwueme seemed genuinely fascinated by the tremendous progress that country had made. “You see,” he said, “India has become a net exporter of food. Given its large population, it is a miracle that it cannot only feed its people but also feed people in other countries too. I believe there are important lessons we must learn from India to give muscle to our Green Revolution Programme.”

I could not agree more. He said he intended to visit India in 1984. And he gave me a standing invitation to accompany him on his planned trip. The trip never was. Early in 1984, the generals chose to abandon their barracks for the state houses across the land once more. Ekwueme as well as President Shehu Shagari and other leading politicians in the second republic were herded into detention for many months. And I am left dreaming of visiting the Taj Mahal. Khaki men kill dreams, you see?

In 2002, Ekwueme published a semi-autobiographical book, From state house to Kirikiri, in which he detailed his experiences during his detention in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos. I was most pleasantly surprised that he had such a high sense of humour and could make fun of his political misfortune in such a self-deprecating manner. He related the fascinating story of how he and his fellow VIP detainees engaged in a competitive shocking sport of ‘bombing.’ I won’t tell you what ‘bombing’ is. The one who released the loudest ‘bomb’ was declared the winner. One would not expect those very important people to engage in such a competition that engaged us as children in my village, Ikpeba.

In the book, he disclosed that he went into public richer in 1979 but was thrown out of it in 1984 much poorer than he went in. Ekwueme was an architect and a lawyer and had a very lucrative architectural practice before the lure of political office made him sacrifice his wealth for national service.

Ekwueme was cheated by the system but showed no bitterness in his account in his book. He spoke ill of no one. Men without bitterness are men with large hearts. They are rare.

The next time I saw Ekwueme was in Geneva in 2003. Both of us attended a conference organised by the Forum of Federations, a body that brings together all the 51 federated countries in the world. The conference usually discusses the various issues that individual countries contend with in politics. I first attended the conference in the company of Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, governor of Nasarawa State, in Canada a year or two earlier. President Bill Clinton delivered the key note address at that conference. The Forum meets regularly to exchange ideas on best practices in federalism.

Ekwueme and I served on the same syndicate at the Geneva conference. I found him rather reticent. I expected him to talk about our peculiar national problems with the nature of our federalism. He simply chose to listen to other countries’ problems. I then noticed that he was quietly amused when an Indian member of our syndicate recounted a recent experience in his country in the conduct of their general elections earlier in the year. The Indian said they had eight million polling stations to which they posted four million policemen during the election. I cannot pretend to know why this amused the former vice-president.

Ekwueme was accompanied to the conference by his lovely wife. He introduced her to me later in the evening when we went on a boat cruise. I asked him why he chose to say nothing about own national problems with our federal system. I thought we had enough problems with the system worth airing at the forum. Ekwueme told me he believed that the talk shop would not offer us any solutions to our problems. He said, “I prefer to talk about our problems at home, not outside the shores of our country.”

He was there, he said, to learn whatever lessons worth taking away from other countries and see how he would modify them and apply them to our situation. “In any case,” he said, “these countries know enough about our situation.”
I think he was loath to washing the mess we had made of our federalism in full view of the rest of the world. He was right even if I felt disappointed that he did not appear to accept to lead the Nigerians at the conference. It was the last time I saw him at close quarters.

Throughout his political career, Ekwueme refrained from controversies. He consistently offered sober views on issues that agitated the polity. He chose to be a statesman rather than a tribal champion. I think that was wise. Championing tribal interests would have diminished him as a statesman. Ekwueme was humble and self-effacing. At the Geneva conference he always introduced himself simply as Alex Ekwueme. Humility was wired into his DNA.