My mother used to bribe me to attend school –Prof Lai Olurode

My mother used to bribe me to attend school –Prof Lai Olurode

Professor Lai Olurode

A professor of sociology, Lai Olurode, who is also a former National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, tells ADEMOLA OLONILUA about his childhood and his time in the commission

Was it your dream as a child to become an academic?

Not really, I did not start life with such a dream. I would say that I am an accidental lecturer. I never liked going to school; I found going to school to be disgusting because I liked playing around. As a Muslim, when it was time for any of the festivals, I would desert school. My mother would bribe me with new clothes and I would go to school for a while and then return home. If it was the festival that requires we kill a ram, I would totally forget about school. I would be going from one house to another. So I would not say that I was one of the best pupils in my primary school days because I hated schooling. I liked going to parties and some of my mates called me a professional Master of Ceremonies because my English was fluent and I made use of highfalutin words whenever I was introducing people that would open the floor. I liked doing announcements at parties and at a point in my life; I used to organise parties called Askia Party. My nickname when I was in secondary school was Askia The Great, and later, Askia of the Songhai Empire. I loved to read history and commit things to memory so my friends gave me the nickname. The party was usually held on December 31. In those days, there were no problems between Muslims and Christians; we went to parties together. When we were done with church programmes for the day, we would go to our party. For decades, people looked forward to the party. I do not know how I attained that fame. To organise the party sometimes, I would get some money from my mother and some of my friends would contribute money because they always enjoyed the party. I was so good that people I never knew would be looking for me so that I could anchor their events.

As I advanced in my secondary school education, I noticed that I loved writing. I would type my work out and paste it around the school. With the write-ups, I critiqued the society, especially men who were fond of taking young women around. I can recall that one of them called me and asked me what I knew about girls for me to criticise what they did. I did not know the implication of what I was writing about but I just saw the old men as our competitors because they were competing with us when it came to the best girls in town at the time.

Were girls swooning over you at that point in your life?

Each time I remember that period, I feel somehow awkward. Sometimes I say that I wish I was better disciplined because it could be distracting. Girls used to come around and some of my friends and I had what it took to attract girls to us. However, we never did it at the expense of our studies; we did not abandon school and we took our reading very seriously. I think we wasted quite some time because to have girls around you required time. We did not need so many resources because the taste of ladies back then is not as high as the taste of ladies nowadays. It was not really expensive to move with girls. Some of us strayed and never became focused to become what they ought to become, while some of us had a narrow escape. That made us to be more vigilant as we were raising our children because it could be distracting.

You are a university professor today, what then was the turning point in your life as you said you did not like school and were organising parties?

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I think the turning point for me came when I was finishing my secondary school education. Most us wanted to become doctors, engineers or lawyers and we were well-trained because we attended the best schools. I went to Baptist High School, Iwo, Osun State. It is a very popular school. After finishing school, it dawned on us that we were growing and that we had to forge ahead in our education. Our parents were more desirous of good education and more concerned about us as regards our education. They wanted us to go beyond secondary school level. To us, the university was a new thing and we did not have a lot of people in the university because the best education the generation before us acquired was Nigeria Certificate in Education programme or Teachers Grade 2. There were not many role models for us. Somehow, our parents saw that the world would belong to people who acquired higher education.

When I got to the university, I did not know what course to study. Most of us wanted to study law, engineering or medicine but the examinations we took did not support the course we wanted to do, so most of us had to change our courses.

What was it like to grow up in what is now known as Osun State?

I used to go to the farm with my father. However, I doubt you would come across anyone from my place that had no dealings with cows. We were predominantly butchers. During my secondary school days, I used to go to Ile-Ife for my holidays. I used to follow a butcher, who I called master, to the slaughter slab. Even though he would ask me to leave, since I had my own knives, I would cut part of the cow meat that was not meant for the public consumption. It always surprised me that my uncle always drove me away from the slaughterhouse. He never wanted me to be a butcher. I made good money during my holidays and I also had meat. I used to put meat on my head and follow my master as we went from one community to the other. Sometimes, he would ask me to go and sell the meat and I dared not return without selling everything.

My mother was also a butcher in Iwo and she used to ask me to sell cow dung in Iwo because that was what people used for the flooring of their newly constructed houses. I was also a thrift collector and people trusted me. I remember a friend of mine gave me a bicycle and I repaired it. I used to move around with a lot of money and nothing happened to me because the country was very good. Although I dealt with adults, they trusted me even though I was very young at the time. The first collection I took on the first day was always for me, so I would add that to my savings, even though I was privileged to have a mother who had enough to take care of me.

How about your father?

All my father wanted me to become was an Arabic scholar; he wanted me to go to any university in Saudi Arabia to study the Arabic language and speak it fluently. That was my father’s wish. At that time in Iwo, people were not sure about western education because they saw it as a potential source of conversion. Some people who went to school got converted to Christianity along the line and Iwo was predominantly a Muslim community. The worst thing that could happen to a parent was for their child to be converted to another religion, so they guarded our religious beliefs jealously. Although my father supported my western education, he was not too keen about it. He would have supported me more if I had gone to an Arabic school. Although after school we always went for Arabic classes, that was not sufficient enough for him. Later on, he appreciated my western education even more than my mother. My father is literate only in Arabic and he can read and write. When I was in England, he would write me letters and send them via the post office. My mother could not write so sometimes, she would ask my father to write letters for her. There were times she would not want him to know the contents of the letters, so she would call any literate person to help her. She always had a pen and a notepad with her. She is still alive and till date, she is always with her pen and notepad. She did this so that whenever she saw any educated person, she would approach the person and ask them to write a letter for her. She also has envelopes with her all the time.

Is it right to assume that you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth because you travelled to England to further your education at a time when only a few people went to school?

I would say that it was a case of providence and stroke of luck. I was admitted to the University of Lagos in 1976 to study political science. I must confess I had never been to any university before then. I did not believe anyone in my family would attend a university and I was the first. I am not sure my parents understood what university education entailed but they just wanted me to further my education. Luckily, it rubbed off positively on my siblings because almost everyone acquired university education except the girls. The reason the girls did not go to school was because of the discrimination against their gender. They felt they would become spoilt if they went to school. When I got to the university, they said that there was no accommodation. I met some of my mates whom I had secondary school education with and one of them volunteered to accommodate me since he had a room. I went to the toilet and saw everything was sparkling white, very clean. I went back to my friend’s room and told him that I had found a room. Then he asked where the room was, so I led him to the toilet. I never knew it was a toilet because the place had no smell or odour. I also saw a table there but I did not know that it was meant for ironing clothes. My friend told me that it was not a room but a toilet, but I told him that I could still manage to stay there. Before I gained admission to school, I doubted if I had ever seen a water closet before because we did ‘shotput’ (throwing faeces wrapped in papers or polythene bags into the bush). There were not many pit latrines then.

When I got back home, my mother asked me what course I was studying at the university and I told her it was political science. She did not understand what it meant, so I translated it to her in Yoruba and immediately she remembered ‘Operation Wet E,’ in the 1960s and the killings that happened in my community and other places in the old Western Region. People were burnt alive in those days. If you recall what happened during the 1983 elections, there was so much violence and people really died. My mother did not want me to offer the course and my father also insisted that I should change my course. My father questioned why I would offer political science when I knew that politicians killed people like cows. I tried explaining to them that it was strictly academic and that offering the course did not mean that I would become a politician. So they asked me ‘what was the use of studying a course I would not practise later in life’. My mother said those studying political science and politicians were birds of a feather. My father called me and said if my mother was not in support of the course I was reading, then I should not do it because I had to make her happy. I went back to the university and changed my course from political science to sociology. So I would say that I strayed into sociology. Later in life, I studied law.

So how did you find yourself in England?

After I completed my studies, I did not have it in mind to become a lecturer but as providence would have it, I turned out to be the best student in my set while I was studying sociology. I had my National Youth Service Corps programme in Kaduna and when I completed that, I returned to the village in Iwo and not UNILAG. Someone who was like a mentor to me then and had been a graduate assistant in the school, brought a letter to my house, saying the university had been looking for me. He said they wanted me to come back as a graduate assistant. I did not know what it meant so he explained it to me. That was how I joined the university system and since then I have never had any regrets. I started as a graduate assistant at UNILAG. I also had my master’s degree in UNILAG and as God would have it, I was the best graduating student during that programme also. When I was done with my master’s degree programme, the Commonwealth scholarship came out and I applied for it. I also applied for Oyo State scholarship. I got both scholarships but I opted for the Commonwealth scholarship.

How did you meet your wife?

A friend of mine, who is dead now, introduced me to my wife. They were from the same community. There was a modern school that my wife attended and we used to go and watch inter-house sports competitions in her school. She was not one of the girls we used to move around with in those days when we were young because she was quite reserved. Whenever we went to watch inter-house sports competitions in her school, I used to notice her in the crowd. Later, I discovered that she was my friend’s distant relation. She was a sprinter for her school and she was very good. That was how we met. When I was wooing her, she never believed that I was serious.

Before we started courting, there was a lady that I was dating and it was as if we had a perfect relationship. She had agreed to get married to me and people knew us together in the community but I think she was unlucky because when my mother saw her, my mother asked if she had come to visit us. My mother further told me that she was my relative and it was a no-go area as it was not possible for us to get married. I still believed that I could continue with the plans because I had not met my wife at the time, but my father also discouraged me and told me not to make my mother unhappy. That was how I began to search for a wife and fortunately, I met the woman who is my wife today. She was a sprinter and she always looked very smart.

You are a former National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, how would you describe the experience you had?

I do not know how President Goodluck Jonathan put the team together but I think he put together a very formidable team. His primary preoccupation was probably to ignore some of his very powerful party members, especially in regards to the appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega. Not many state actors in the Jonathan-led administration wanted Jega to be appointed because they saw him as someone who was very independent. My own appointment was also very controversial. When I was on the floor of the Senate, I spent some time being quizzed by senators, just like Jega. Also, the pedigrees of the commissioners appointed cut across various fields because we had a medical doctor in our team, Dr Abdulkadir Suleiman Oniyangi. We also had Hajia Amina Bala-Zakari, a pharmacist; we had an engineer, Nuhu Yakubu; we also had Dr Igbani. These were people from diverse disciplines and with different orientations. We had a large number of academics in our midst. Jega, for instance, was a professor of political science and I am a professor of sociology. We also had a technical team. I think one of the key success stories we had at the time was that whatever activity the Jega-led commission embarked upon, it had to be research-driven. We did a lot of research. We have room for science to dictate whatever we wanted to do. A related factor, which I think contributed, was how much we relied on the accumulated experiences of previous commissions and ours as well. In fact, we invited previous electoral commissioners to camp with us and we shared experiences with them. Jega was transparent and open about anything he wanted to do and he asked for other people’s opinions. I recall that after we had completed the compilation of the national register of voters, Jega invited a professor, who was once a commissioner so that he could critique our work. Everything we did was subjected to a critical review.

Our education was also very helpful. With all modesty, Jega had done a lot of work as regards election and he had played active roles in some public offices in this country. So we were looking for an opportunity to implement those ideas. We saw it as an opportunity that would never come again, so our enthusiasm was very high.

Would you say that President Jonathan conceded defeat in the 2015 election because he had faith in those that were at the helm of affairs in INEC?

I am not sure whether there was sustenance of the degree of believability that Jonathan imposed on the Jega-led commission, whether it was sustained through the end. Towards the end, as the elections were approaching, there were controversies as to whether the elections would hold, if there was a credible register, and how many people had collected their permanent voter cards. And Jega always said that we were ready. I think a measure of distrust began to creep in. I am not sure that the Jega-led commission was able to get that confidence back from the administration. I am sure that people would have been telling Jonathan that they had warned him against appointing Jega during that period. I do not think it could be said to be the reason that he conceded defeat. I am not sure that he felt the (presidential) election was free and fair if you read his book because he cast some aspersions on INEC and its leadership.

I think Jonathan conceded defeat because the election was adjudged to be free and fair. It was also said to be a credible election by the local community and the international community. Also, the consequences of not accepting the result would have dawned on the Jonathan-led administration. We can see the experience of President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire, who did not want to concede defeat. He ended up at the International Criminal Court. I think that the reason why he conceded defeat was not because of the trust he had in the commission but because the elections were seen to be free and fair. The use of card readers checked electoral fraud. We had a very clean register similar to the one that they used in the recently concluded elections.

The elections that were just concluded recorded many deaths. What do you think can be done to forestall such in the future?

Political parties should go into elections as disciplined political parties that are cohesive and not factionalised. Once a party is not cohesive and it goes into an election, the chances are high that there will be trouble because already, they are not speaking with one voice. We see that from the conduct of the primaries. It is time for the political parties to respect their own laws because if they do not do that, it becomes an invitation to anarchy. The parties have done well since 1999, considering the fact that we have two major parties that are formidable. This is a plus for the development of democracy in this country. We have to learn to build on it by reforming the political parties. One way of doing that is by allowing members of political parties to make some payments in terms of fees, however little the amount is.

Let them been seen to own the political parties. If you do not want political parties to be hijacked by moneybags and barons, the party members should be allowed to pay some money because they have to run their secretariats. Also, party members should do some volunteer work. As a university professor and a member of a political party, I would be willing to give one hour of my time a week for my party. I would go to the secretariat and ask what they want me to do for them. I think this sense of volunteerism has become weakened and it is contributing to the hijacking and complete takeover of the political parties. This would create a sense of ownership and give people the knowledge that the party does not belong to anybody. The internal machinery for recruiting leaders needs to be sanitised as well. No doubt, ‘godfatherism’ cannot be eradicated because some people were there before but these godfathers should see all the party members as their children and whoever wins an elective position should do so by merit. They should not appear to favour anyone because they are like a shepherd. They should let all their party members have a sense of belonging instead of giving them a feeling that they have been short-changed. Also to make our elections peaceful, we need to train our security agents. It is very important. The security agents tend to see themselves as agents of the government in power instead of seeing themselves as agents of the state, which they are. Their role is to uphold the electoral law. They are not there to satisfy any member of the administration; they are there to satisfy members of the public. The administration of elections needs to be decentralised. I think that too many activities are centralised in Abuja. You can let the Resident Electoral Commissioner play more physical roles in terms of the procurement of materials. We also need to have electoral offence tribunals because there is no way that INEC can cope with prosecution. Their hands are full already and they should not be saddled with that responsibility because it is very expensive and requires the attention of specialists, which INEC cannot do given the circumstances. Other stakeholders are not partnering with INEC sufficiently enough. INEC would take one direction and the political parties would head to the opposite direction, undermining INEC. They need to understand that this is a collective venture. If they want good elections, then the parties have to partner effectively with INEC beyond the partisan level.

Has your life ever been threatened in order to manipulate election results?

In 2015, we had to return to Imo State when Rochas Okorocha was coming in as governor. The election was inconclusive so we had to return to do a re-run. We were at a collation centre at the INEC headquarters when a phone call came in from someone in a very high position of authority, saying that a particular person must return because that was the person the people of Imo State desired to have as their governor. The person said we must not do anything other than the instructions given. The returning officer then had received several calls before then; he was a professor and I was with him. At a point, he gave me his mobile phone to answer a call but soon after, he told me that he did not want to continue with the exercise because his family members had received several threats that if the election went a certain way, then he should forget about his family. So he resigned and decided to discontinue the collation process midway. The commission under Jega’s leadership had to get someone else to conclude the process. We had to be rescued after the process because the commissioner of police had to bundle us into his vehicle and that was how we escaped after the announcement. I have been at other election arenas where we also had to run soon after announcements were made because we had been warned by security agents that hoodlums were hanging around. It can be really frightening and I feel for the people that are participating in these elections. Sometimes what leads to these issues is the undue use of power by the incumbent government, which nobody can do anything about except we censor ourselves. The desperation is unbelievable. We have to change the mindset that, ‘I must win at all cost’. Elections should be approached with some scepticism and a doubtful mind because it is about probability. We have an attitude of ‘winner takes all’ and we need to create rooms for the losers to be accommodated. Proportional representation should be an area that the next National Assembly should look at so that everybody would be a winner. Those who win elections should draw the losers close to them. For someone to have contested for an elective office, it means that he has some qualities to offer the country. This would help us change the notion whereby we see the opposition as an enemy that must be run down and killed.

Credit: The Punch

How Buhari, IBB forced me out of military – Capt. Bala Shagari, eldest son of late President Shagari

How Buhari, IBB forced me out of military – Capt. Bala Shagari, eldest son of late President Shagari

Captain Bala Shagari

Captain Muhammad Bala Shagari (Rtd), is the eldest son of the late Second Republic President, Alhaji Aliyu Shehu Shagari who passed on two weeks ago. He is also the District Head of Shagari, the hometown of his father and holds the traditional title of Sarkin Mafaran Shagari. In this exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, the retired Army officer opens up on the late Turakin Sokoto’s lifestyle and his travails in the military which began soon after his father was overthrown by the then Major General Muhammadu Buhari. It was conducted by TUNDE OMOLEHIN, in Sokoto.

What was growing up like as the first son of former President Shehu Shagari?
I think among my siblings, I have lived with my father longer than any other person. I have one older sister, of course, but she didn’t have the closeness I had with our father that could make her understand him very well. I started my closeness with him since he was a teacher, though I was a very young boy then.

What was your observation about his personality then?
Well, he was always exhibiting himself as a typical educationalist. He brought us up in a formal manner. I saw him at first as a teacher and later he became an administrator. He was a classroom teacher and later became Assistant Headmaster when I was yet to enter primary school. I went to primary school as far back as 1956. So, you can see how long the closeness started.

Was he soft on you and other siblings in all approaches or otherwise?
I can say he was quite tender on us. Not really the harsh type. I can recall that since I was born, it was only once my father lifted his hands to beat me. And that was the time I did something he disliked. I was still very young then, when somebody who was a known drunkard came and took me from the house and I followed him without my father’s permission. The fellow took me to a bar and ordered for a bottle of beer. He also ordered a soft drink for me, which was Cola. In those days, the Cola is like Coca Cola of today. That outing and the beating that followed was an evergreen lesson and a blessing in disguise. Out of curiosity, when the man excused himself to urinate, I used the bottle’s cap to taste its liquid content with my tongue, which tasted bitter to my dislike. And I hated anything bitter. That was the beginning of my dislike with anything alcohol. My father was not comfortable with that outing, believing if I continue following the man I may end up like him. He gave me the beatings for that. That was the only time I can remember he took a cane and followed me round the house to beat me. However, I always watched out and ensured that I follow his commands and deeds.

What do you really cherish most about him?

Well, what I really cherish most about him is honesty and his true sense of purpose. You know, a lot of people have this misconception about him that ‘the man is weak’. But those who had worked closely with him will tell you the contrary. He was a person with high sense of responsibility. If he believes in a course, he will definitely fight for it to the end. My father has also been a revolutionist from the beginning of time. In those days, he told me a story about when he was in the middle school after his primary education. The middle school was like junior secondary school and had expatriates as their teachers. One of the teachers gave his class a task to write an essay on any topic in English. Apparently, it happened to be my father’s first ever essay. My father’s essay was on the need for colonial masters to go back home. When the white man read the essay, he couldn’t believe it because as far as he was concerned, my father came from a remote village and couldn’t have learnt fast on the negative impacts of colonialism on his fellow citizens. He (White man) took the letter (essay) to the District Officer (D.O) and showed him what a mid-one student had written about them. The D.O. enquired about my father’s background and the teacher said he came from Yabo, a remote village then. He couldn’t believe that someone from such a village could write such essay. The essay was later passed over to the Resident Officer of the province who was like a Governor of today. The Resident Officer couldn’t believe it also, and decided to invite my father. He asked him where he got the idea of his topic from. One thing I discovered from the story was that, my father started reading very early in his life. Because, that was only where he could have gotten the idea of his essay, that is, if he had been reading newspapers or stories written on Nnamdi Azikiwe and other nationalists who were fighting against colonial rule. So, he had been a revolutionist from the beginning of his time. I can also remember that when he was a teacher, there was a newly built library in Sokoto by colonial masters. It was a standard of its kind and the colonial masters were very proud of it. My father used to visit the library for his reading. One day, a white man came to the library and was asking everyone their experience about the ‘high class library’. When he got to my father’s turn to respond, he told the white man that he had read all the books in the library. The white man was surprised and called the librarian to confirm what my father just told him. And the librarian said he wouldn’t know whether my father had read all the books but he was sure that my father had borrowed every book in the library. The white man couldn’t believe, he decided to test my father by picking the books randomly and asked him the content or story inside such books, which my father responded to perfectly. The white man was impressed and invited my father to his house to check at his personal library for more books. I really cherish his reading culture. Even, as a teacher, he was into journalism by writing articles for publication in the Citizen and its Hausa version newspapers namely Gaskya Tafi kwabo, an Hausa version and Citizen newspaper, an English version. There was a time when a white man came to Shagari town asking for him to give him compliments because he had been reading his articles in the newspapers and that got him interested.

Many know him as a politician rather than an educationist you talked about. Can you recall how he eventually joined politics?

Well, before coming to that. Let me start this way. When Zik and other nationalists were going round the country campaigning for revolution against colonial rule and seeking independence, my father was the only civil servant then, as a teacher to attend Zik’s rally and listening to his messages. Everybody was afraid that the white men might not be kind to them if they are caught attending such rally. As a teacher, he was so informed to the level of challenging colonial masters on some issues that affected his community. There was an incident when some people were quarantined in Shagari because of meningitis outbreak. And the outbreak had not affected Shagari town, but the white men decided to use its outskirt as quarantine camp. When a white man came to sensitize the villagers over the epidemic, my father asked him if it was right to camp people infected with meningitis in a town that the outbreak has not reached. The white man said no, and asked about my father’s name. He was popularly called Malam Shehu. The white man then ran to the Resident Officer to report him. He informed him that one troublesome man had challenged the rationale behind camping infected people near his village. That was how they quickly moved the quarantined people out of Shagari town. He was later invited by the Resident Officer who begged him not to write any article on the issue. That was how he spent his youthful life. He was always on the defence of his people, as an educated fellow.

Then, coming to how he joined politics. I will say my father was a reluctant president. He had no ambition of becoming a president. He just wanted to be a Senator. And if you had seen his autobiography, the book he wrote, he titled it ‘Beckoned to Serve’. What that means is that, he has never asked for a position before he gets it. Any position he might have occupied, he wasn’t the one that lobbied for it. He was always called to serve. He went to House of Representatives, he became a federal minister and many more. He never asked for them. When the issue of presidency came, he had no intention to run for the position. He made it clear in the media that he was only interested in going to the Senate. When the NPN was formed, they started it together with his contemporaries and the party zoned presidency to the north. At a zonal convention, the north was supposed to bring three aspirants to the Lagos General Convention for the national delegates to choose a candidate. My father was in his lodge in Kaduna, the venue of the zonal convention resting when some delegates from Plateau State came for him and declared their support for him. They asked him to join the presidential aspirants. The delegation was led by Alhaji Isyaka Ibrahim. He outrightly rejected their suggestion and pleas. They left after much persuasions without success and mobilized for more delegates from other states. I think they succeeded in including more states like, Niger, Sokoto. I can’t remember the other two states. They came again and pleaded for him to throw his hat into the race. He equally declined. They said okay, ‘We will go and call Alhaji Makama (whom he respected most).’ They left again. But before they came back, my father out of frustration decided to turn on his radio. Incidentally, an Islamic preacher was preaching a sermon about leadership. And he said ‘do not give leadership to anybody that asked to be given leadership because he may not be just. But on the other hand, Allah is angry with anybody that people come for to lead them but who decline.’ That sermon hit my father so hard to the extent that his body started shaking for a while. After sometimes, when he regained himself, the set of delegates came back with Alhaji Makama. And the man (Makama) started talking to him. They all pleaded with him and that was the turning point of his presidential bid. After the convention, he secured the highest votes and they picked six of them to Lagos for the final convention and he still emerged the winner. He once told me when giving insight on his Kaduna convention’s experience where he recalled that a delegate borrowed his pen to tick another candidate’s name on his ballot paper and returned back to him to show him that he didn’t vote for him, just to upset him in the process. But later when my father won the election and eventually became the president, he appointed the fellow chairman of a federal parastatal.

At the time he became president, where were you and how did you feel as son of the President?

When he became president, I was already in the Nigeria Army. I can recall that when he was President-elect, my promotion also came as Lieutenant, and traditionally you cannot wear your new rank until you go back to your unit. At that time, I was in Lagos for official engagement because I was also a sportsman in the Army. I was playing snooker game for my Division, 1 Division, Kaduna. So, I was in Lagos for the game when the Supreme Court decided the case between him and Chief Awolowo. It was about the same time that my promotion came as Lieutenant. I saw it in newspapers, but I couldn’t wear it until I went back to my unit when my C.O. decorated me. Jokingly, the C.O said my father was a President-elect and I was a Lieutenant-elect. We all laughed. So, I was in the Nigeria Army when he became the president. During his tenure as president, none of his children ever went out with bodyguard or fleet of cars. We moved around freely and mixed with people freely without fear or sense of insecurity to our lives. We all feared our father for his principled lifestyle. We were so conscious of what we do as his children and what people will be saying about us. When I saw children of president maybe during Babangida regime and so on going around in presidential jet, it made me remember an incident. I came to Lagos one day because I was serving in Zaria. So, I took a commercial flight from Kaduna airport to Lagos, and when I was going back to Zaria, my father’ Aide de camp (ADC) bought me a flight ticket to return back to Kaduna, it was about N21 or so. But when my father saw the ticket he was furious. He then queried the ADC on why he should buy me a ticket because I wasn’t a staff of State House. Why should he buy a ticket for me? So, you can see the difference between then and now. He wouldn’t even allow State House to buy you a ticket talk less of you taking a presidential plane around. I also remember when his two wives wanted to go for holiday. They wanted to go to London for a few days and later move to Saudi Arabia for prayers. My father denied them to be flown in the presidential plane. He insisted that they must fly in a commercial plane or they abort the trip. He said the presidential plane can take them within Nigeria and not outside the country. So, when I see the children of these days doing things the way they like because of their fathers’ influence or position, I laugh it off.

Where were you when he was overthrown and how did you feel?
I was still in the Nigeria Army when he was overthrown. Though, I was later retired compulsorily by the Buhari’s regime.

What was your sin(s)?
For being the son of President Shehu Shagari. That was all. That was my only sin, I think. I can recall that the retirement letter states that ‘by the power vested on me as Chief of Army Staff, you are hereby compulsorily retired and your service is no longer required.’

Who was the Chief of Army Staff?

The then military secretary signed the letter while General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida was the Chief of Army Staff. The letter was his directive. Immediately they served me the letter, that was where they also picked me up and detained for six weeks. Though, it was a house arrest in Sokoto, not in a prison yard. They took me to Kaduna, I passed a night in Kaduna and they later brought me back to Sokoto, to NSO office which we call SSS now. When they brought me, I slept a night in their office. The next day, they prepared one of their guest rooms and put me there for six weeks.

What were you doing when the news was broken to you that your father had been overthrown?

I remember on the day of the coup d’état, I was in Jos playing polo. And I came back in the morning trying my horses because I had another game in the evening. I was with two of my Lebanese friends who played polo too. They were also from Zaria. They called my name repeatedly asking me if I have not heard the news that my father had been overthrown in a coup d’état. I merely responded to them and continued rolling my ball. They were surprised the way I responded to them. My mates were also surprised to see me calm throughout the period.

When you were moved to Sokoto, did NSO officials later brief you the offence you committed?

Not at all. Well, maybe the new government felt I was a threat to them because I didn’t look worried at all when my father was overthrown.

Before you were retired, what was your mood like, at least for taking orders from those who overthrew your father?

I didn’t have any mixed feelings about the whole thing. I was a young officer and well nurtured in the military. I always see myself as serving the nation. In fact, there was another polo game I went for in Lagos, and I met with Babangida. I believed he must have been thinking of me by saying ‘see this boy again, only God knows what he is planning against us.’ When they discovered that my mood wasn’t changed, at one time, Colonel Aliyu Akilu, the then Head of Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) called me to confirm if I have any problem. And I said no sir. He then said if I am not comfortable again in the military, I can put in my resignation letter. I said no sir. I am okay. He called me again to know if I have made up my mind to tender my resignation letter from the Army. I repeated the same no sir, and assured him that I am alright. I said ‘when I joined the Army, my father was not a president. Now because he is no more a president doesn’t mean I should also quit the Army. So, I will not resign but if you people felt you cannot work with me, you can ask me to go.’ That is what I told him. Later I was served with compulsory retirement letter. That was all.

After successive governments, did the military hierarchy reach out to you to compensate you?
Not at all. Nothing was done since I was retired as a captain, and I had not stayed long to earn pension. In those days, you have to be in the service for at least fourteen years before you can be on pension benefits. I was less than ten years before I was retired. Even my gratuity, I didn’t take it.

Did your father encourage you to join the Army?

No, I picked interest in it without any external motivation. When I was in Barewa College, I was a member of cadet unit of the school. So, I joined the Army on my own.

Did you or your late father have any bad feelings against these actors you have identified in the course of your travails?

To be honest and as far as I am concerned, my father never had any bad feelings against them. If you are talking of General Babangida and President Buhari, my father never talked bad about them. We are trained to believe in destiny. After the whole thing, people around me always wondered how I could be so calm? But I just have to be calm.

After the demise of your father, there are lots of tributes by eminent Nigerians that confirmed him as incorruptible leader. But, there is this general belief that your father was surrounded by people with corruption tendency during his tenure as President. How do you react to this?

You see, you cannot rule out such misgivings. But to be honest, there are other people that have been misjudged by the public. For example, Umaru Dikko. The only thing about him was that Umaru Dikko is a workaholic fellow but people turned this against him. He is a very hard working man. Umaru Dikko can attend to people until 2am mid-night and he will still wake up by 7am to resume office. He was always working with my father overnight. My father like him because he was very hardworking. But because he was so close to my father, a lot of people became envious of him. And you know a lot of negative stories were said of him. There was a time he made a statement and that statement pitched him against Chief MKO Abiola. The statement was that ‘presidency is not for sale’, and because Abiola was very ambitious at that time, he thought Umaru Dikko was talking to him. So, he decided to stage media war against him because it was Abiola’s newspaper, The Concord that promoted the One billion pound he was accused of. When my father came out of the detention and read the story that Umaru Dikko had One billion pounds, he was so surprised about such narrative. He said the whole lifetime of Rice Task Force programme where the people thought Umaru Dikko got the one billion pounds, he was only given four hundred million Naira. So, how can four hundred million naira translate to one billion pounds. Another instance that proved that the whole stories were just propaganda against them was when I was in a car with one of the chief security officers of this country. The fellow forgot that I was in his car and was talking to his friend that Senator Uba Ahmed wrote to them from exile asking them what he did wrong because he wanted to come back to Nigeria but before then he wanted to know his offence. The man told his friend that even Umaru Dikko that they have been shouting his name, up till then, they did not have any evidence against him. So, it is better he stays there because when he returns back to Nigeria, they will be ashamed of themselves because they will have nothing to hold against him and people will know that they just lied against them.

Credit: The Sun

Examination malpractice: Edo suspends principals of 28 public schools

Examination malpractice: Edo suspends principals of 28 public schools

by Our Reporter

The Edo State Government has suspended 28 principals of public senior secondary schools over their involvement in examination malpractice in the 2018 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

Commissioner for Education, Hon. Emmanuel Agbale, in a memo to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Edo State, said the decision to suspend the affected principals followed the receipt of “report of investigations on the issue, carried out and decision reached by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) cancelling the results of affected candidates, and recognizing the schools for a period of two years, with effect from the WASSCE for school candidates, 2019.”

For private schools, Hon. Agbale ordered that a query be sent to 28 private secondary schools to explain in 72 hours, why they should not be deregistered/de-recognised for involvement in examination malpractice in the 2018 WASSCE.

He said this was after receipt of the report of the issue and a decision reached by WAEC to cancel results of the affected candidates in the 2018 WASSCE and derecognising the schools for a period of two years, with effect from the WASSCE for school candidates, 2019.

He directed that a strong warning and reprimand in writing be issued to proprietors of affected private secondary schools for complicity in examination malpractice in their respective schools/ institutions in the WASSCE for school candidates.

The commissioner said that seven other principals of public senior secondary schools in the state were warned and reprimanded for complicity in examination malpractice in their schools in the 2018 WASSCE for School Candidates. A total of 16 private and secondary schools got warning letters for complicity in examination malpractice.

On the suspended principals, he said they will “remain suspended as principals pending their arraignment before the Teachers Disciplinary Committee to determine their culpability.”

The public secondary schools whose principals were suspended include Ikpeshi Grammar School, Ikpeshi, Edo State (Centre: 4130101); Evboesi Mixed Secondary School, Evbeosi, Edo State (Centre: 4131303); Obanosa Secondary School, Evbuobanosa, Edo State (Centre: 4131306), Igbanke Grammar School, Igbanke, Edo State (Centre: 4131307); Iru Grammar School, Iru, Edo State (Centre: 4131323); Osasinmwin-Oba Secondary School, Osasinmwin-Oba, Edo State (Centre: 4131716); Government Science and Technical College, Benin, Edo State (Centre: 4132063) and Ojirami Mixed Secondary School, Ojirami, Edo State (Centre: 4130111).

Others are Dagbala Secondary School, Dagbala, Edo State (Centre: 4130134); Uma Secondary Commercial School, Imoga, Edo State (Centre: 4130105); Asoro Grammar School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4130210); Opoji Secondary Commercial School, Okhore-Opoji, Edo State (Centre: 4130301); and Afuda Secondary School, Afuda-Irrua, Edo State (Centre: 4139324).

More public schools, whose principals were affected include Anegbette Secondary School, Anegbette, Edo State (Centre: 4130704); Oguola College, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131107); Urhokuosa Mixed Secondary School, Urhokuosa, Edo State (Centre: 4131820); Egbede Community Grammar, Uvbe, Edo State (Centre: 4131816); Obadan Mixed Secondary School, Obadan, Edo State (Centre: 4131814); Ugiamwen Secondary School, Ugiamwen, Edo State (Centre: 4131813); Umagbae Grammar School, Adumagbae, Edo State (Centre: 4131803); Ikpiti Grammar School, Gelegele, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131748); Ugbine Secondary School, Ugbine, Edo State (Centre: 4131708) and Uzebba Grammar School, Uzebba, Edo State (Centre: 4131509).

Others are Ozalla Secondary Commercial School, Ozalla, Edo State (4131503); Holy Trinity Grammar School, Sabongida-Ora, Edo State (Centre: 4131502); Esigie Comprehensive College, Abudu, Edo State (Centre: 4131344); Oza Grammar School, Oza, Edo State (Centre: 4131310); and New Era College, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131213).

The public school principals who were issued strict warning include Ore-Nolomi Secondary School, Iguosodin, Nebudin, Edo State (Centre: 4131707); Mixed Secondary School, Ugboko Numagbae, Edo State (Centre: 4131305) and Osomhe Secondary School, Osomhegbe-Ekperi, Edo State (Centre: 4130713).

Others are Iruekpen Grammar School, Iruekpen, Edo State (Centre: 4130614); Ujoelen Grammar School, Ekpoma, Edo State (Centre: 4130606); Akugbe Secondary School, Emuhi-Ekpoma, Edo State (Centre: 4130603); and Uhiele Grammar School, Ekpoma, Edo State (Centre: 4130602).

Agbale said that private schools whose managements were queried are Federal Staff Business College, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4130272); Zenith Model Education Centre, Igbogiri, Edo State (Centre: 4131830); Hizbullah Secondary School, Auchi, Edo State (Centre: 4130961); Calvary Secondary School, Ekpon, Edo State (Centre: 4131016); Gracious Secondary School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131138); Eden City College, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131147) and Lilmak Secondary, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131268).

Others are Jobamoh Uni. Secondary School, Itsukwi, Edo State (Centre: 4130825); Jubilee Academy Secondary School, Isihor, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131733); Gabmay Secondary School, Benin, Edo State (Centre: 4130239); Ultimate College, Benin, Edo State (Centre: 4130236); Gentry National High School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4130270); Excel Secondary School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131124); Oman Christian Academy, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131193) and Ceta International Secondary School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131240).

The other private schools that received queries include God’s Favour Secondary School, Abudu, Edo State (Centre: 4131341); Oje Reliance Secondary School, Avbiosi, Edo State (Centre: 4131512); Highers Wisdom Academy, Igue-Iheya Qtrs, Isior, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131736); Leaders College, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131743); and Mcmidas Comprehensive School, Isiohor, Benin City Edo State (Centre: 4131753).

Others are Paulson Foundation Secondary School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131824); Rising Hope Academy, Ugbor, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4133025); Ralph Education Centre Secondary School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4132042); Powerline Academy, Uselu, Benin City, Edo State (4132025); Christ The Winners Schools, Benin-Auchi Road, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131827); Ogunbor Secondary School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4131112); God’s Grace Educational Centre, Evboriaria, Edo State (Centre: 4132932); and Winners Foundation Secondary School, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4133001).

The private secondary schools whose management were warned are Zanna Royal Academy, Ekpoma, Edo State (Centre: 4130617); Simbridge College, Benin, Edo State (Centre: 4130268); St. Mathias Group of School, Ewohimi, Edo State (Centre: 4130536); Napoly Secondary, Ihievbe-Ogben, Edo State (Centre: 4131417); Imperial College, Benin, Edo State (Centre: 4131244); Excellent Education Centre, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4132057); Enina Secondary School, Ogida Quarters, Benin, Edo State (Centre: 4132066); Royal City College, Benin, Edo State (Centre: 4131293); and Oxonian Grand Academy, Benin City, Edo State (Centre: 4132040).

Credit: The Nation

Afenifere leaders against Buhari are not progressives

Afenifere leaders against Buhari are not progressives – Fasae, factional leader

Factional leader of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba group, which has made known its support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid, Akin Fasae, has said that their support for the President is a matter of principle and a way to repay him for his admirable performance in office.

Yoruba prefer restructuring, not 2023 presidency – Afenifere
Fasae in this interview conducted by WOLE BALOGUN in Ado Ekiti denied allegation by the mainstream Afenifere group that they are puppets of APC national leader. He gave reasons why they chose to support APC as a party and Buhari as its presidential candidate and expressed optimism that Buhari will win the February 2019 polls.

How do you react to the allegation from the Senator Femi Okurounmu faction of Afenifere that your support for Buhari is a script prepared for you by Tinubu to act?

Everyone has an opinion, and that is the opinion of those who believe that they have the mandate of the Yoruba, but let me tell you; how do you have the mandate of the people in a democracy? It is through the elected officials. Ask the Okurounmu people from Lagos to Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo who are their elected people in all facets of the political divides. Do they have councilors, house of reps members or governor in the whole of southwest or Yoruba? My answer to that is No. So, they are representing themselves.

The Tinubu they are accusing is not only a national leader of APC but of all Yoruba. The Afenifere that we know has been a progressive movement from the days of Obafemi Awolowo, we know in history that Afenifere has always toed the path of the progressives, therefore the APC in the South West is a representation of the progressives, so in Afenifere, we don’t have any option than to support the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari, they only envy Tinubu. What they have against the APC leader is not a matter of principle, they only envy Tinubu because he is younger than them but he has emerged as a leader of the Yoruba.

The Okurounmu that we know won election under AD in 1999 and he defected to the PDP, but since then he hasn’t won any election. They belong to the group of lazy politicians in the Southwest.

They are at war with Omisore because he supported APC and now they are supporting Atiku, do you think Awolowo in his grave will be happy with them? Anyway, the likes of Okurounmu and Ayo Adebanjo have a right to their opinion and I wish them good luck.

They have also alleged that the only time your faction comes out to take a position on a national issue is when Tinubu motivates you and it has always been about politics as you allegedly prefer to keep mum on other issues such as the kidnap of Chief Olu Falae?

We have right to choose when we talk. However none of us is happy that anybody is being kidnapped, we are not also happy that anybody’s property or farm is destroyed by whatever group of people, whether Fulani herdsmen or terrorists. But we do not have to make an issue out of it. If Falae was kidnapped and we didn’t know how it happened or what has happened, we didn’t have to say that it was Buhari that caused it.

When you want to criticise, you must first gauge the mood of the people.

When it happened we condemned it and we didn’t only condemn it in the Southwest, we condemned it in every part of the country. They blamed the Falae kidnap on Buhari government and we didn’t like that.

Why do you support President Buhari?

Any reasonable person or group of persons in the Southwest will support and not only in the Southwest, we want every Nigerian to support President Buhari. We want everyone from the East, Northwest and PDP. This is because Buhari has done very well. We know the difference between 1999 and now, we know the difference. We also know the difference between 2015 and now. We don’t have to tell lies as the facts are there. This is the best time for all Yoruba even from the time of Tafawa Balewa, this has been the best time for the Yoruba.

Look at what has been happening on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, see what has been happening to our railway between Lagos and Ibadan. And it is like that all over the Southwest and other parts of the country. Look at what is happening on Npower in the country. In Ekiti alone we have not less than 700,000 beneficiaries. Our support for Buhari is not because Tinubu wants us to support him, it is based on what the President has done for the country and for the Southwest.

How would you reply those who have said that President Buhari’s government has brought more poverty and suffering?
Those who say that Buhari government has brought poverty are not knowledgeable. The people will vote and you will see that Buhari will win.

What is your advice to Nigerians on the forthcoming polls?
I want to advise Nigerians that we should ensure that we shun violence and bitterness in the coming elections. As from March this year, when Buhari is re-elected, Nigeria will march to greatness.

Credit: The Sun

News Headlines Jan 5, 2019. Headlines From Nigeria’s Major Newspapers

News Headlines Jan 5, 2019. Headlines From Nigeria’s Major Newspapers

Compiled by Demola Adefajo

The Punch
2019: Experts forecast weak, sluggish economy
Obasanjo will face prosecution if Buhari decides to probe power sector – Oshiomhole
Dino Melaye ‘slumps,’ taken to the hospital after arrest
2019 elections between the rich and the poor –Amaechi
The real change we want to see in 2019 –MAN, ASUP, CACOL, Ex-NMA President, others
Ekiti athletes lament N15,600 NSF allowance
When I die, I’ll meet God a fulfilled man –Prof. Salami, VC, The Technical University
Military helicopters kill gang leader, bandits in Zamfara
2019: ASUU agrees to release striking members for election duties
Buhari, IG in closed-door meeting, day after due retirement date
Miyetti Allah asks FG to keep Atiku under surveillance
APC’s injustice will not stand in Ogun, says Akinlade
Don’t mock Ogun workers, APC tells Isiaka
Obasanjo will face prosecution if Buhari decides to probe power sector – Oshiomhole
Dino Melaye ‘slumps,’ taken to the hospital after arrest
Minimum wage: FG, organised labour meeting inconclusive
2019 elections between the rich and the poor –Amaechi
Ronaldo chills with Joshua in Dubai
Dino Melaye slumps at SARS HQ
Tamara and I had more than 10 sex tapes, Pastor Omatsola claims
Funke Akindele shares first photo of twin sons
I was under my enemies’ spell –Cleric who raped girl, five
Sales agent in court over missing N10.6m kerosene
We used proceeds of bank robberies to buy explosives –Suspected Boko Haram commander
Two sentenced to death in Ondo for armed robbery
Fake DSS officer obtains N3.1m from job seekers
Family accuses wife of killing husband, demands justice
Four workers nabbed in Lagos for foreigner’s death
I killed my boyfriend’s son after losing my womb to abortions, 20-year-old lady tells court
2019 elections and ‘enemies’ of ICT in Nigeria’s search for credible polls
My ambition is about rescuing Nigeria – Gbor, APGA presidential candidate
Know number of registered voters before promising your candidates million votes —Shehu Sani
Atiku’s candidacy, PDP’s greatest blunder – APC Rep candidate
Allow INEC and Amina Zakari to do their jobs, Lagos IPAC tells PDP
Customs generate N1.2tn, record 5,235 seizures in 2018
Azman Air Lagos-PH bound aircraft engine malfunctions mid-air
‘Dangote BlocMaster, best for construction in swampy areas’
Forex: CBN makes first intervention in 2019, injects $210m
Pirates kidnap crew members off Cotonou …anchor ship in Lagos
FG extends window for 50% reduction in business registration
When I die, I’ll meet God a fulfilled man –Prof. Salami, VC, The Technical University
My aspiration is to assemble vehicles in Nigeria –Aguebor, female mechanic
Only idle pastors predict politicians that’ll win elections – Mogekwu, Anglican Bishop of Asaba Diocese
Ethnicity causing division among actors – Fidelis Duker
Ekiti athletes lament N15,600 NSF allowance
Pogba set to miss Reading FA Cup tie
I didn’t expect we would be down by three goals in Aiteo Cup final – Ogunbote
Huddersfield sign Palace’s Puncheon on loan
Djokovic crashes out of Qatar Open
I’m glad my skits appeal to elderly people too – Steve Chuks
Mimicking Davido the riskiest video we’ve shot –Ikorodu bois
There is a huge market for African songs in the UK –DJ Jibs
My voice once got me an instant job –Yemi Blaq
Nollywood actor, Gbenga Akintunde, dies at 47
I’ve never thought of bleaching, my complexion is a blessing –Bimpe Oyebade
Not forgiving Toyin Abraham, others was hampering my progress –Yomi Fabiyi
Scammed on the way to ‘canaan’: Victims of visa fraud share heartbreaking stories
Revealed: New tricks beggars use to milk Lagos residents
Amazing tale of four delta brothers that wedded six wives same day
Oil production cut, price drop threaten 2019 budget
Huawei demotes two employees for sending New Year tweet via iPhone
How to control what children see on smartphones
The ultimate cell phone buying guide (1)
Telecoms to drive financial inclusion, economy in 2019 — Experts
Elections: We need conversations, not sweet-nothings
Do wives need their husbands’ permission to spend their income?
Nine attitudes to imbibe to have successful year
The Nation
INEC to PDP, others: WE WON’T DROP ZAKARI as collation centre chair
Drama as Melaye surrenders to Police 1
Suspected Boko Haram commander opens up on BLOODY EXPLOITS
Minimum wage: FG, Labour meeting inconclusive
Campaign flag–off tragedy:Tears as eight PDP supporters are buried
Senate crisis: We ‘ve agreed on ceasefire – Ndume
Sack Amina Zakari from INEC, PDP tells NASS
Presidency: Zakari,not Buhari’s blood relation
‘Use your PVCs to end dismal PDP in Sokoto’
PDP not a threat to Buhari’s re-election — Keyamo
PDP is lying on restructuring , says Salvador
‘Election will be a referendum on Buhari’
Kings Cup: Musa excited to start 2019 with a bang for Al-Nassr
Ighalo attracts Southampton interest
Mikel announces departure from Tianjin Teda
LaLiga: Omeruo set for 10th start against Espanyol
Nwakali impressive in FC Porto B’s first win of the season
Efe Ambrose leaves Hibernian
BCN, Google partner for free Abuja Wi-Fi
Lufthansa Group appoints new GM Sales
NBS: Nigeria earns N808b from VAT
LCCI blames CBN’s interventions for pressure on external reserves
BSF W/Africa rewards female pharmacists
Hyundai Creta, Camry, others get awards
Mother, children survive gas incident in Warri
‘Overhaul criminal justice system’
New Year’s resolutions couples should make for a stronger relationship
My frustration as a celebrated model – Gabby Ibeabuchi
Maintain industrial peace, health professionals tell FG
HIV/AIDS: Group seeks removal of ARV fee in 2019
The undying practice of female genital mutilation
At home with Dino’s kinsmen on New Year’s Eve

ThisDay
Dino Melaye Surrenders to Police
Buhari, IGP Meet in State House
Izu Ojukwu’s ‘Power of Oneness’ Reawakens Nigerians
Endorsement Galore for Jimi Agbaje
Another Appeal to President Buhari and His Supporters
Borno State Security Situation Getting Worse
Kaduna First Lady, Hadiza El-Rufai’s Inspiring Word
Burna Boy Shines with 2018 Burna Live Concert
Intrigues over Ogun APC Governorship Succession
Lekki Gardens: Court Fixes Date for Estate Distortion Suit
For Linda Ikeji, the Beat Goes On
Chelsea London Dry Gin Lights Up Barracuda
Peugeot Revisits History in Pickup Segment
Electric Jaguar I-Pace Voted Norway’s Car of The Year
Volvo Cars’ Award-winning Line-up Proves 3 Design Heads are Better than One
Lexus Embarks On High-Tech Road-Safety Project
BMW Models Enjoy Awards-rich Year in 2018
A Tribute to Leah Sharibu
GANI ADAMS AND PRESERVATION OF CULTURE
Nigeria Needs Businessmen, Not Bureaucrats
WAITING GAME OF KWARA’S POLITICAL GLADIATORS
How Accord Party is Changing Lives in Kwara State
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Okurounmu, Adebanjo, other Afenifere leaders are defending their selfish interests – Ajomale

Okurounmu, Adebanjo, other Afenifere leaders are noisemakers – Ajomale

Henry Ajomale

Afenifere leaders have been described as impostors who should stop parading themselves as Yoruba leaders.

Giving the advice in this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, the immediate past chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC, Lagos State, and ex-chairman, Conference of APC States Chairmen, Chief Henry Ajomale urged Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, Senator Femi Okurounmu to stop describing themselves as Yoruba leaders and spokespersons. He spoke on various issues.

As an associate of the APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has been with him before and since the formation of the Alliance for Democracy in 1999 till now, what’s your reaction to claims by Senator Femi Okurounmu that Tinubu and the former Acting National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande including the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who were all known to be advocates of restructuring have recanted, and betrayed the cause?

It is very unfortunate that Okurounmu is peddling falsehood against Tinubu, Bisi Akande and the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Okurounmu’s claims in that interview with Sunday Sun newspaper penultimate week were all tissues of lies, and I’m shocked that Okurounmu, a septuagenarian like myself could be distorting political history because of his personal bias against Tinubu, President Muhammadu Buhari and APC.

Okurounmu and Pa Ayo Adebanjo and others in their camp who have been parading themselves as Yoruba leaders have not hidden their dislike for Buhari, and Tinubu, and that’s why instead of playing the roles of elders expected of them have been openly partisan. They have openly endorsed Atiku Abubakar as their choice while calling on Nigerians, especially the Yoruba not to vote for President Buhari in 2019.

But what Okurounmu, Ayo Adebanjo and these so-called Afenifere leaders should realize is that the same way they campaigned against Buhari and APC in 2015 and failed, they are going to fail again. Atiku and PDP that they are backing will lose to Buhari and APC again in 2019.

Okurounmu, Adebanjo and others in their camp, who parade themselves as Yoruba leaders are impostors. They are self-appointed leaders who just sat in the corner of their rooms to proclaim themselves as Yoruba leaders. They are just dressing themselves in borrowed robes.

Are you saying that Pa Adebanjo and Senator Okurounmu are not Yoruba leaders …

That’s exactly what I’m saying. They are just imposing themselves as Yoruba leaders. At which general congress of the Yoruba were they elected as Yoruba leaders? Who voted for them? Who convened that congress where they were elected as Yoruba leaders?

Yoruba people know who their true leaders are? If Okurounmu, Adebanjo and Fasoranti are truly Yoruba leaders who have electoral values, why did the Yoruba people not listen to them in 2015 when they openly campaigned against APC and President Muhammadu Buhari? The Yoruba and the entire South West ignored them and voted for APC and Buhari.

In 2015, these people who called themselves elders openly took side by declaring their support for PDP and former President Goodluck Jonathan.

But what eventually happened during the election? Yoruba people listened to their true and genuine leaders like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande by voting for APC and President Muhammadu Buhari, and today the South West and Yoruba are better for it.

I want to say categorically here again that in 2019, Okurounmu, Adebanjo and these people who parade themselves as Yoruba leaders are going to lose to Buhari and APC.

Yoruba are again going to listen to their genuine and true leaders by voting for Buhari and APC. No amount of gang-up by Afenifere leaders against Buhari and APC will succeed. Afenifere’s evil plot against APC and Buhari is doomed to fail. Okruounmu and Adebanjo are just noise makers who have no electoral value. Yoruba people won’t listen to them.

But you’ve not addressed the allegation of Tinubu, Akande and Osinbajo recanting on restructuring?

On that, I want to add that Tinubu, Akande and Osinbajo have never and will never abandon restructuring.

The point of disagreement between Tinubu and these Afenifere leaders on restructuring is that Tinubu has always been an advocate of the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference, and at every given opportunity Tinubu has always maintained that it is through the Sovereign National Conference that issues of restructuring and other national issues can be genuinely addressed. Up till this particular moment, Tinubu still believes that Sovereign National Conference is the panacea to addressing all these issues including restructuring.

But the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan organised National Conference and the template for carrying out restructuring has been laid out, and what many Nigerians are saying is that the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari and APC are not favourably inclined towards the implementation of the confab reports and recommendations?
Cuts in….

Jonathan’s confab is nothing but a mockery of what a confab should be. It was not only a charade but that confab was also a political jamboree. That confab was a waste of Nigeria’s resources. The confab was just what you call “job for the boys”.

Why do you say so?

There was no element of seriousness in that confab at all and Nigerians were eye witnesses to what transpired during that period. During that confab, most of the delegates were sleeping during deliberations. It was also at that confab that you have husbands and wives as delegates. They turned the whole thing into a family affair. Those people that went there just went to the conference to collect allowances. Not only that Jonathan organized that confab as a distraction, to distract attention of Nigerians from his corrupt and ineffective administration. He organised the confab to provide avenue to what some people call national cake, especially for those who were loyal to him.

Okurounmu was also part of that jamboree called national confab. He was the chairman of the committee that laid the ground for Jonathan’s confab takeoff. So, Nigerians should now understand why Okurounmu hate APC and Buhari and why he is always ready to defend former President Goodluck Jonathan and his political party, PDP.

Okurounmu is just using the Afenifere platform to protect his own interests, and not the larger interests of the Yoruba. Okurounmu is a sympathizer of PDP. The same thing goes for Pa Adebanjo and that was why they openly called on Yoruba not to vote for APC during the rerun election in Osun State. But as God will have it, APC won the election.

While you are expressing optimism that President Buhari will win the 2019 presidential election, some Nigerians have expressed their support for former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar who they describe as the right man for the job?

Atiku has nothing to offer. There is no basis at all for comparison between Buhari and Atiku. While Buhari is a man of integrity and principle, Atiku is opposite of that.

Atiku is just desperate for political power. Atiku is a political prostitute who has been jumping from one party to another. Was he not with us in APC before? But because of his desperation for power, he ran away to PDP. He later came back to APC, but now he has ran back to PDP. Do you call such a person a politician? Mark my word, after failing in 2019, Atiku will run back to APC. He doesn’t have any political ideology. It is only enemies of Nigeria that will wish that Atiku Abubakar should become president of Nigeria. It is only enemies of Nigeria that will wish that PDP should come back to power after the party’s 16 year of rule ruined Nigeria.

If not that Buhari and APC won 2015 general elections, Nigeria would have by now become a failed state. PDP was a big burden on Nigeria.

But some Nigerians are saying that APC has not fared better than PDP, what do you have to say to that?

It is only mischievous Nigerians, or those that have short memory or apologists of PDP that will make that ridiculous claim.

PDP ruined Nigeria, but APC under Buhari’s watch has been rebuilding and restoring Nigeria’s lost glory. Look at the transformations in the power sector, infrastructural facilities development in the areas of road and rail construction under APC and Buhari. What about the war against corruption and recovery of stolen loot?

Buhari is poised to do more. But his political enemies who are not happy by the achievements of his administration are behind some of these problems being witnessed in the area of insecurity, but Buhari is on top of the situation. His re-election in 2019 will set Nigeria on the path of higher greatness. For those who put their hope in Atiku, such hope is a misplaced one. Buhari will defeat Atiku hands down. As the saying goes that Friday night shows how Saturday morning will look like, just look at all the recent bye-elections across the country, see how APC has been defeating PDP. Come 2019, APC will inflict a crushing defeat on PDP.

Credit: The Sun

Afenifere suspends Omisore to prevent him becoming another Tinubu – Okurounmu

2019: Tinubu, Osinbajo, Akande deceiving Yoruba – Okurounmu

Senator Okurohunmu

An elder statesman and one of the leaders of Afenifere, the apex Yoruba socio-political organization, Chief Femi Okurounmu is not happy ahead of 2019. Why? He believes Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande are deceiving the Yoruba ethnic region. In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, he spoke on various issues and warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it will set the nation on fire if it fails to conduct free and fair election in 2019.

What’s your reaction to the recent suspension of Senator Iyiola Omisore for one year by the Afenifere over his alliance with the APC in the recent Osun State gubernatorial election?
First, let me set the record straight. It is only those that are not well informed about Afenifere or what the group stands for that will say that Afenifere should not be seen to be political in its views or take part in politics.

Afenifere from the foundation in the 50s during the days of the defunct Action Group has always been a social-political organization. Afenifere has always been taking a stand on any political issue or what some will call national questions.

Even in recent times during the evil days of Abacha’s infamous dictatorship era, it was Afenifere that led the others that fought Abacha to a standstill, until victory was won and the nation returned to democracy in 1999. It was then when the nation returned to civil rule that Afenifere formed the Alliance for Democracy, AD which is a political party.

Afenifere has always been taking definite positions on several national issues no matter whose ox is gored. Therefore, Afenifere is in order by suspending Omisore, and there is no going back on his one year suspension.

But what is the justification for Omisore’s suspension. Doesn’t he have the right to support or go into alliance with anybody or party of his own choice like he did in Osun State for which Afenifere now suspended him?

It is true that Omisore as an adult and a citizen of Nigeria has a right and freedom of association but where he erred was when he disobeyed Afenifere’s collective decision that no member of the group should work with APC in Osun State.

Omisore is a member of Afenifere, and he was at that meeting where the decision was taken that no Afenifere member should support APC either in Osun or in the next year general election because our position is that since APC and President Buhari are against Restructuring, then APC and Buhari should be voted out of power.

When this decision was taken, Omisore didn’t object but surprisingly and to Afenifere leaders’ shock, Omisore went into that alliance with APC in Osun State. To us that was a betrayal, and we can’t allow Omisore to go unpunished. That’s why we suspended him for a year. Omisore is a betrayer. Afenifere has no apology for suspending Omisore. His suspension will serve as a deterrent to others. That was the same way Bola Ahmed Tinubu betrayed Afenifere when he became Lagos State governor in 1999. Tinubu used Afenifere platform to get political power, but he later betrayed the group. We don’t want Omisore to turn into another Tinubu before we sanction him.

Afenifere asked Osun State people, and also our own members to support PDP candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke in that Osun governorship election because Afenifere will never support any party that is against Restructuring. Forget all those propaganda being peddled by Oshiomhole, VP Osinbajo and some APC chieftains that APC supports Restructuring. They are all lying.

They are peddling the falsehood because they want to deceive Nigerians to vote for APC in 2019. President Buhari has never hidden his opposition to restructuring. In fact, Buhari has buried restructuring, and this is why Afenifere wants Nigerians also to bury APC and Buhari’s second term bid in 2019. Buhari and APC have been a bad omen for Nigeria.

But Omisore claimed that Afenifere didn’t give him a fair hearing.
Omisore is a liar. He is lying and being dishonest with the truth.

Afenifere being an organization that believes in equity, fairness and justice gives Omisore an opportunity to defend himself. When he was asked why he chose to go against the position of Afenifere on Osun State election, what Omisore told us was that he acted in self-interest. He told us that he betrayed Afenifere to protect his own interests. He made this shocking confession to us during a caucus meeting of Afenifere on Monday, October 29. We were all shocked by his comments, and some of us reprimanded him for betraying a collective decision of the Afenifere in order to protect his own interests.

The following day, October 30 which was for general meeting of all Afenifere members where he would have been asked to repeat what he told us at the caucus meeting, and where a decision would have been taken on him, Omisore ran away. He didn’t show up at that meeting because he knew majority of the Afenifere members were angry with him. I publicly challenge Omisore to deny what I’m saying here. Omisore is lying that he wasn’t given an opportunity to defend himself.

Should Omisore apologise, will the one-year suspension on him be lifted?
No way. Omisore will serve out his one year suspension. To lift his suspension is to encourage more betrayers.

What Omisore or his apologists should remember is that as long as you belong to an organisation, you are honour-bound to abide with the rules and regulations of that organisation. Omisore willingly joined Afenifere, and therefore he is bound to abide with the rules and regulations of the group, and the moment he deviated, sanctions await him, and that’s why he has been suspended for one year.

You described Tinubu as a betrayer but some people see him as a good political strategist that has been able to achieve a lot for the South-West especially in the current political dispensation where a Yoruba man is the Vice-President?
Tinubu is a betrayer, and I still stand by that. He rode on the back of the Afenifere to become governor of Lagos State, and whatever political relevance he has today but he betrayed Afenifere. He rebelled against Afenifere.

What has Tinubu achieved for the South-West under Buhari? Nothing. Tinubu has led Yorubas into slavery in this political dispensation. Like I said earlier, Buhari is a failure, and it is under his watch that Nigeria has now become the poverty capital of the world. So what has Tinubu achieved? Talking about VP Osinbajo, that one is Buhari’s puppet. He is nothing but Buhari’s errand boy. What are the benefits the Yoruba people are getting from Tinubu/Buhari alliance? Nothing. Talking about some projects being commissioned by Buhari now, they are not his own projects. They are projects started by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. There is nothing to write home about Buhari’s government. His administration has been a big burden on Nigerians. I hope by next year, Nigeria will have a new government different from APC and Buhari. Buhari’s government has been a nightmare to Nigerians. For Nigeria to have a breakthrough, Buhari must go.

But some Nigerians, especially from the South-West are saying that Afenifere leaders ought to close ranks with Tinubu, Osinbajo and others that are working with Buhari in the overall interest of the geo-political zone, what’s your reaction to that?
Afenifere is not opposed to anything that will promote good governance, take care of the interests of the South-West and Nigerians generally, but some of these people are betrayers, and what they are doing today are not in the interests of Yoruba and Nigerians generally.

Look at the issue of restructuring, some Yoruba like Tinubu, Bisi Akande, Osinbajo and others have always been on the same page with us on the issue of restructuring but now that they are with Buhari, they are singing a new song. They have become turn-coats just to please Buhari their leader and master who is known to be publicly against restructuring.

Human beings are indeed very funny and unpredictable. Look at Bisi Akande, somebody that even wrote a book on the need for Restructuring in Nigeria. He has now recanted. He is now speaking with double-mouth on restructuring. What of Tinubu and Osinbajo – they have all betrayed restructuring because they are now in Buhari’s camp. Tinubu and some of these people have become serial betrayers.

If it were to be in the olden days, people like Akande, and Tinubu would have been banished from their towns. As I said earlier, Akande and Tinubu working for Buhari are leading the Yoruba into slavery. I appeal to the Yoruba, and Nigerians in general to vote out Buhari in 2019.

Is Afenifere’s open support for the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar as a result of this restructuring issue or just because Afenifere doesn’t like President Buhari?
For the Afenifere, Atiku Abubakar is more preferable. Although Atiku is not an ideal president but we prefer him because he promised restructuring. He has openly restated his commitment to restructuring. Atiku is unlike Buhari who has buried restructuring. Afenifere has no personal hatred for Buhari but we opposed him because some of his policies are anti-people and anti-Nigeria. Buhari is a parochial leader. He is not a true Nigerian leader but what I will describe as President of the North. Not only that, Buhari has never hidden the fact that he is pursuing a Hausa-Fulani agenda. Buhari doesn’t see the whole Nigeria as his constituency and that’s why his appointments have always been lopsided in favour of the North, especially his appointments of service chiefs and other security personnel.

It seems Afenifere is too concerned about restructuring; are there no other issues that should be the object of focus also as 2019 general elections draw nearer?
We are concerned about other issues like security also but restructuring is the key to resolve all these problems. If Nigeria restructures, it will be the beginning of a new dawn. Restructuring will launch Nigeria unto path of greatness. It will enhance faster socio-economic development. It will facilitate a return to true practice of federalism.

As the general elections draw nearer, Nigerians have only been talking about Buhari and Atiku as if there are no other presidential candidates …
Nigerians are talking about Buhari and Atiku because the two are the major gladiators. And for the parties, PDP and APC are the main contenders.

But we still have other presidential candidates like former governor Donald Duke, former Minister for Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, Omoyele Sowore and others.
Duke, Ezekwesili and others are just attention seekers. They should forget 2019. They are going nowhere. They should not waste their time.

My advice to Duke, Ezekwesili and others is that they should not waste votes. They should all come together and join Atiku to defeat Buhari. If Duke and Ezekwesili insist on contesting the presidential elections, they will be helping Buhari because the votes from their supporters which they should have asked them to give Atiku will be wasted.

Duke and Ezekwesili should join hands with PDP to defeat Buhari and APC. The idea of a coalition being mooted by some political parties is a good one. They should all come together to chase out Buhari from office. None of these smaller political parties including ADC can defeat Buhari and APC on their own.

How would you assess the chance of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar against President Buhari in 2019?
In a free and fair election, Atiku will defeat Buhari. Even in the North-West, which some people use to describe as Buhari’s stronghold, Atiku will defeat him there. Generally, Nigerians are tired of Buhari and APC’s bad government. Nigerians are hungry and angry. Under Buhari’s leadership, poverty has become a companion to millions of Nigerians. Lives are no longer secured. Fulani herdsmen are having a field day killing Nigerians, and Buhari is not doing anything about it. Nigeria is under Buhari’s bondage, we need to liberate ourselves.

I’m happy that millions of Nigerians have realized their mistake of voting for Buhari in 2015. Although some of us that knew that nothing good will come out of Buhari’s presidency warned Nigerians that time. We warned them not to vote for Buhari, and now we have been proved right. Now that millions of Nigerians have learnt their lessons, they are now waiting for 2019 to come so that they can vote out Buhari. But I’m not happy that Tinubu, Bisi Akande and Osinbajo are still deceiving the Yoruba that Buhari is the best for Nigeria.

But this time around, Tinubu’s deceit will not work. Yoruba will reject him and Buhari. Tinubu is very selfish. He is deceiving Yoruba to support Buhari because of his own personal interests. Other geo-political zones are rejecting Buhari, and South-West will also reject him in 2015.

What is your advice to INEC on 2019?
I don’t have confidence in INEC to conduct free and fair elections in 2019. Look at how INEC compromised in Osun State gubernatorial election. How INEC favoured APC.

Again, President Buhari’s niece, Mrs Zakari is a top member of INEC. All these will make Nigerians to doubt INEC’s neutrality. Even international observers, and members of the international community condemned INEC’s conduct in the Osun elections. But my warning to INEC is this, INEC should not play with fire. INEC should not set Nigeria on fire. Any attempt to rig the election will be resisted. A word they say is enough for the wise.

What Nigeria needs in 2019 is a leader who can unite all Nigerians. We don’t want a parochial or divisive president like Buhari. INEC should allow the will of Nigerians to prevail. The election should be free and fair.

We need a leader that can keep Nigeria secured. Under Buhari, Nigeria is bleeding. Human lives are no longer sacred as herdsmen are now on rampage killing and maiming innocent Nigerians at will, and unfortunately, these murderous herdsmen have become sacred cows, and are being protected and shielded by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Credit: The Sun