Lagos environmental sanitation: Judgment against movement’s restriction still valid –Adegboruwa

Judgement against movement’s restriction not vacated –Adegboruwa

Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu

In this interview with MUDIAGA AFFE, a lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, says plans by the Lagos State Government to reintroduce environmental sanitation will be challenged if it impedes free movement of people

What is your reaction to the latest move by the Lagos State Government to reintroduce the monthly environmental sanitation?

Well, I’m fully in support of any move by the state government to clean the environment and there is no gainsaying the fact that Lagos seems to have been littered with refuse here and there. We have been working on how to achieve cleaner Lagos for a long time. So, it is a welcome idea which one supports but the methodology and the strategy may be the issue. Before the emergence of this administration, led by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, sanitation had always been a priority for any regime and so we support the effort to clean. But when it comes to the illegal policy of restricting movement of citizens is another thing entirely. For us as citizens and Lagosians, we are happy to have this new regime and would support all its policies and programmes, especially on sanitation. However, whether he has the right to restrict peoples’ movement in law is a different kettle of fish altogether.

You had once dragged the state government before the court over the restriction of movement during sanitation. Do you still maintain this position?

We are still in court on the matter. In 2015, a Federal High Court in Lagos delivered a judgement against the Lagos State Government and the Inspector-General of Police; it issued an injunction restraining the government and the police from restricting movement and disturbing people in the name of environmental sanitation. That judgement is still valid and the state government appealed against the judgement. We have been on the appeal but they refused to file their brief. So, we still have a judgement of the Federal High Court that is subsisting and valid. Every government has a duty under Section 287 of the Constitution, which says that the executive arm of government has a duty to obey the decisions of the court. The Lagos State Government has no choice in this matter because there is a judgement in force that cancelled the restriction of movement, but it did not cancel the observance of the environmental sanitation. If you want to do sanitation for a whole Saturday in a month, nobody is opposing that. We welcome it and will participate in it. But it cannot lead to the restriction of movement of people because that is illegal and unconstitutional. The constitution in sections 35, 38 and 40, grants freedom of movement to all citizens. It is beyond any state government in Nigeria and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to restrict the movement of citizens and the court has made a pronouncement on that. We are a country of democracy that is governed by the rule of law. There is no basis at all for the government of Lagos State to be tinkering with the idea of restricting movement. But we are all enthusiastic about this new government and we would participate in the environmental sanitation any time that the government declares. It should not lead to the restriction of the movement of people. If they try that, it would amount to contempt of court and that is punishable by law. I do not think that the governor would want to start his administration with a confrontation with the judiciary. From the language I have seen about Governor Sanwo-Olu, he is a peaceful and law-abiding man who swore to an oath on May 29, 2019 to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is less than one month, he cannot start his regime by violating his oath of office. I do not think the government has any plan to restrict people from moving; it will be totally unconstitutional.

Although the government says it is consulting with the people over the matter, what, if it decides to resume the exercise, what options will you seek?

Well, I feel that we should not encourage the government to embark on deliberate act of impunity because when those in authority, holding power in trust for us, set out to deliberately violate a judgement of the court, the signal to the rest of society is very bad. I will honestly believe that part of the consultation of the governor is to talk to lawyers and I am sure he will be consulting with lawyers and civil society. When a government, on its own, decides to violate a court judgement, it is sending a signal of lawlessness and impunity and a society that is governed by total disregard for the law and this will be bad. If it does that, it is for us to go back to the court and set up a process for the court to interpret the decisions or policies of the government. The history of this whole struggle to free the people from the compulsory stay at home for three hours was on June 29, 2013, I got an invitation to appear on a national television station to discuss a national issue. On my way, I had the access card with me, but when I got to the Ojota/Ketu end of the Lagos/Ibadan expressway, I was stopped by LASTMA and policemen and they did not allow me to proceed. I was arrested and detained on the claims that I violated environmental sanitation law. But I told them that there was no such law in existence; they refused to listen. Thereafter, the following week, I approached the Federal High Court to determine whether the government of Lagos has the power to restrict movement of citizens in the name of environmental sanitation. The court examined the matter; the state government was in court and the court said there was no such law. That is where we are. Another citizen also approached the Court of Appeal on the same matter for which a decision was also taken. This is not about me.

Over the years as a resident of Lagos, did the compulsory restriction of movement help to achieve cleaner environment?

Those were the arguments before the court. I had said that there was no need to restrict movement because it was not achieving anything. I gave examples of Saturdays when children use the opportunity to play football on the roads. There are existing LAWMA and PSP operators that we pay monthly to carry out the task. If I am paying for it, why do you then restrict my movement? It is double jeopardy. Restricting movement of pregnant women and other sick people was too much and it was not achieving the purpose for which it was set to achieve.

Credit: The Punch

You can’t stop Tinubu’s presidential ambition, Ajomale blasts Miyetti Allah’s leader, others

You can’t stop Tinubu’s presidential ambition, Ajomale blasts Miyetti Allah’s leader, others

No group can stop Tinubu’s presidential ambition –Ajomale

Bola Tinubu

Former Chairman, Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Henry Ajomale has said that no group can stop the presidential ambition of the national leader of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Ajomale spoke on various issues.

How would you react to the declaration by the National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo that the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will not be President of Nigeria in 2023?

Who is Bodejo? Is Bodejo God that he should be making that kind of declaration? Only God knows tomorrow. Bodejo is going too far by trying to play God. What Bodejo should realize is that if God has destined it that Tinubu will be President of Nigeria in 2023, one million Bodejos of this world can’t stop it. Who even knows what will happen between now and 2023; it is only God. Bodejo’s statement is not only reckless but also very unfortunate.

The Miyetti Allah leader further claimed that Tinubu is an old man, and that he may be older than President Buhari. He further said that Tinubu is not a Yoruba leader.

Why is Bodejo so obsessed with Tinubu? Why is he talking about the man like that? I believe Bodejo perhaps has a hidden agenda against Tinubu, if not, he would not have become or speaking so bitterly about Tinubu.

But like I said earlier, Bodejo is not God, and he can’t act God. What Bodejo should realize is that it is Tinubu’s constitutional right to aspire for any political office in the country including the Presidency. It is now left for Bodejo to vote or not to vote for him. Bodejo has only one vote. It is Nigerians that will determine Tinubu’s fate if he has such an agenda.

But Tinubu has even declared recently that his pre-occupation for now is to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in its plan to take Nigeria to the Next Level. Tinubu said that 2023 is not on his agenda for now, so why is Bodejo so concerned about Tinubu? Bodejo is a busy-body, he is crying more than the bereaved.

Rather than worrying himself and having sleepless nights over Tinubu, Bodejo’s headache should be how to stop the senseless killings of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen. Bodejo should first put his own house in order before he starts dabbling into other people’s affairs. I expect Bodejo as the national president of Miyetti Allah to be sober and apologetic to Nigerians for the havoc being wreaked by the herdsmen instead of talking on politics, and attacking individuals. I implore Nigerians to ignore Bodejo and his rantings on Tinubu. Tinubu will not be distracted by his vituperations as Tinubu is focused and determined to continue giving his support to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

On the issue of his claim that Tinubu is not a Yoruba leader, what’s your take on that?

That’s his own view, but there is no controversy about it, and the fact still remains that today as we are speaking, Tinubu is our leader, not only that, he is also a Yoruba leader, and his leadership is recognised and acceptable to the Yoruba.

On whether he was able to get only 50 percent of Yoruba votes for Buhari during the last general elections, that’s not the issue, the fact remains that he delivered Southwest for President Muhammadu Buhari, and the APC.

In a recent interview, former Minister for Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe claimed that APC has been winning elections in Lagos State since 1999 through manipulations, rigging and that Asiwaju Tinubu has moles within PDP who are on his pay roll, what’s your reaction to that?

Ogunlewe is a failed politician, and he is very bitter that Tinubu has been flooring him and other PDP leaders like Bode George and Kofo Bucknor-Akerele.

I have been with Tinubu since 1999, and not only that, I have also been part of the system and took active part in every election in the state since that time. Tinubu is a democrat who detests rigging. He believes in selling the party’s manifesto to Lagosians starting from the days of Alliance for Democracy, AD through the period when the party metamorphosed into ACN and now APC.

Lagosians love Tinubu and the parties namely AD, ACN and APC and that’s why they have always been voting for the party.

Ogunlewe was once with us in AD, and it was during that time that he was elected as a senator on the party’s platform. But when he crossed over to PDP, his political career diminished and since that time, he had never won any election in Lagos State. Since Ogunlewe joined PDP, he has become politically irrelevant to the extent that he can’t even win his own polling unit, not to talk of his ward. Ogunlewe has even become a liability to PDP in Lagos State. He has no electoral value again. If it is true that Tinubu and APC are rigging elections in Lagos State, then why has Ogunlewe been unable to win any election since he joined PDP? Since he was one of us before, the assumption is that he would have mastered the art of rigging from Tinubu and AD. Ogunlewe should not be taken serious.

By attacking Tinubu, Ogunlewe is biting the hands that fed him. It was through the grace of Tinubu that he was elected a senator, and since he left AD, Ogunlewe has become a spent force in politics,

How can he compare himself with Tinubu? There is no basis for comparison, even in Ogunlewe’s ward, he can’t get 10 people to follow him whereas millions of Lagosians will troop out to follow Tinubu if the two of them are to engage in a test of popularity on Lagos road.

Ogunlewe should face reality; PDP is dead in Lagos State. Lagosians love APC and the party’s programmes. Lagosians like how APC has turned Lagos State into Centre of Excellence, and that’s why Lagosians have been voting for the party and Tinubu since 1999.

On his allegations that Tinubu’s private company, Alpha Beta is siphoning funds from Lagos State government through the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR that it collects for the state government, what’s your take on that?

Tinubu should be commended for boosting the IGR in Lagos State when he was the governor of the state between 1999 – 2007. Before then, the state’s IGR was very poor. But through his political brilliance, sagacity, and ingenuity, Tinubu boosted the IGR, and other governors that followed him sustained it, and that is why Lagos State has been able to have the money to embark on many monumental projects that have transformed the state. This is why many people have continued to refer to Tinubu as the builder of modern Lagos State. Tinubu laid a solid foundation which others have been building upon till today. But what can Ogunlewe point at as his achievements or contributions to the development of Lagos State? Nothing. I’m publicly challenging him to mention anything he achieved for Lagos. When Ogunlewe was Minister for Works when he was supposed to be attracting projects to Lagos State, he didn’t do so. Rather, he was blocking projects that were supposed to be allocated to Lagos State. Not only that, many would remember that it was during the period when he was Minister for Works that he brought hoodlums and thugs to be disrupting free flow of traffic on Lagos roads. He was actively involved in this show of shame. To me and many others, Ogunlewe was a disgrace to Lagos State when he was a minister because Lagos State didn’t benefit anything from his tenure as a minister.

Ogunlewe should stop linking Tinubu with woes in PDP in Lagos State. PDP in Lagos State has always been a house divided against itself. PDP in Lagos State has always been like a flock without a shepherd. Even on the eve of the recent general elections, the former Lagos State PDP chairman, Moshood Salvador with his exco members defected en masse to APC, and you refer to PDP in the state as a party. There is no PDP in Lagos State, but just a group of confused elements parading themselves as politicians.

What’s your assessment of the recent general elections?

The election was okay, and I believe we should commend INEC and even President Muhammadu Buhari.

Unlike what happened when PDP was in power when rigging and manipulations were the order of the day, the ruling party APC lost some states. If it were to be before, this would have been unthinkable. This is why I believe President Buhari should be commended. We all knew what happened when the apostles of do-or-die politics in PDP were in power.

The deployment of the military for the polls has been condemned by some people …….

The deployment of the military was to forestall breakdown of law and order. It was aimed at protecting lives and properties. We could see how hoodlums and thugs unleashed violence in some places. If not for the military, the situation could have degenerated.

Election is supposed to be a civil affair, but the way some people take it as a matter of life and death, they are so desperate to win at all costs and in order to actualise their ambition, they hire thugs and hoodlums not only to disrupt the voting exercise but also to attack their opponents, but government can’t allow anarchists to hold the nation to ransom, and this is why military is there to keep peace.

President Buhari was declared the winner of the presidential election, by the INEC but his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of PDP has gone to court to challenge his victory, what’s your reaction to that?

Atiku is fighting a lost battle. Although it is his constitutional right to go to court, but I see nothing coming out of the case. Atiku is wasting his time. President Buhari beat him hands down. The margin was so wide. Let Atiku continue with his case while President Buhari forges ahead with his plan to take Nigeria to the Next Level.

One thing again is this, the court case Atiku brought against Buhari and APC is now leading to some issues unheard of before like the issue of Atiku’s country of origin. Although Atiku is claiming to be a Nigerian but what I know is that those who made the allegations that he is a Cameroonian wouldn’t have done so without having their facts. The onus is on Atiku to provide incontrovertible evidence that he is truly a Nigerian. Atiku will not be the first politician to be so accused of. In the 2nd Republic, Alhaji Abdurahman Shugaba, a politician from Borno State was deported to Chad after allegations were made against him that he was a Chadian but he denied the allegations and he was later brought back to Nigeria when he eventually showed proofs of his Nigerian citizenship. Let Atiku also provide concrete evidence that he is not a Cameroonian otherwise, many will continue to doubt his claims of being a Nigerian.

I implore President Buhari not to be distracted by Atiku’s case, he should continue with the good work he has been doing to transform Nigeria. It is easier for people to forget easily. Many Nigerians have short memory; if only they could remember the rot and the mess PDP put Nigeria into before Buhari took over in 2015.

President Buhari is doing his best. He is not a magician. It is not easy to transform Nigeria overnight especially after 16 years of PDP bad leadership. I enjoin Nigerians to continue supporting Buhari’s administration to enable him achieve his goals of restoring Nigeria’s lost glory.

Credit: The Sun

Basing Teachers’ Promotion on Students’ Exam Results Promotes Malpractice –  SM Adekanye

Basing Teachers’ Promotion on Students’ Exam Results Promotes Malpractice – SM Adekanye

The Late S.M Adekanye

The death has been announced of a retired Director of Education and Principal in the Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mr S.M Adekanye. He breathed his last on Wednesday, March 20 2019.
A teacher, an author and examiner of English Language, Adekanye was respected for his forthrightness and commitment to duty.
It is indeed a great loss for the education community in Lagos State.
He once granted Demola Adefajo’s Blog (DAB) an exclusive interview where he bared his mind on many issues.
The interview is reproduced below for your pleasure.

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Mr S.M. AdebisiAdekanye is a retired Director of Education who took his bow out of the teaching service in 2013 spoke with our correspondent on a number of issues impinging on education- examination malpractice, sexual harassment, failure in English Language, discipline in school and a host of others.
Enjoy the interview
How did the journey start?
I am Mr SM AdebisiAdekanye.
I started as an ordinary teacher in 1980. I started as a teacher of English Language and English Literature at Anwar-ul-Islam College Agege in the HSC classes and Class five. That’s where I started. After some time I became the head of department of English Language and Literature. I left the school in 1990. I was posted to Lagos Baptist College, OkeOdo. I spent few months there before I was transferred to Yewa High School, Agege in the same year. I was in Yewa High School as he Vice Principal of the school from 1990 to 1999. I was posted to FESTAC College, AmuwoOdofin as the Deputy Principal in 1999. I spent just a month there. I was posted to St Joseph Secondary School, Agege, where I also served as the Deputy Principal from 1999 to 2001 when the schools were handed over to the original owners. From there I went to IjaiyeOjokoro as the Deputy Principal.
After that I came to Millennium Secondary School, Egbeda in 2002 as the Principal of the school. I was there till 2007 when I was moved to Alimoso Senor Grammar School, Alimoso as the Principal. Then in October 2010, I was transferred to Lagos Model College, Meiran as the Principal. I was there till June 26, 2013 when I retired from the service.

Factors responsible for bad results in English Language
The factors are many. Let me start with the students. The students are not properly groomed in the subject. The subject is very demanding. From the school level, the students should write essays, do comprehension passages, do summary. Then we have the objectives and Test of Orals and Lexis and Structure. All these should be done within a week. But the Essay area is the only area the child would be asked to write something for someone to interpret. So the student should be properly groomed. If he can write a good essay, there is no way he would not be able to handle the other aspects.
As for the teachers: the teachers’ knowledge and enthusiasm. Don’t let me use the word knowledge. The enthusiasm in teaching the subject is low. From the beginning they find the subject a burdensome subject, very engrossing and demanding. And then if it is the lazy type, he or she would not be able to do what is expected of him or her. There are two categories of students. Those from educationally enriched background, from literate homes and those from homes where the parents do not have deep knowledge of English Language. The students from the homes where the parents don’t have deep knowledge of the subject and government bad policies worsen the situation. Eventually, the students record low marks.
These are the basic issues.
Let me pick the example of a public secondary school. If you give them an essay topic, before you can come across a student who can score 22 over 50 in essay writing then such a student must be a brilliant student. Most of them score between 12 and 18 in essay. The paper 1 carries 100 marks. Essay: 50, Comprehension: 20, Summary: 30. If a candidate scores 12 or 15 over 50 in Essay, if he is not properly groomed, he would not be able to respond properly in Comprehension. So in all, maybe he manages to scores between 30 and 35 in paper 1. The Objective is 80 questions which may boil down to 20 marks eventually. Then you get to test of orals, 15 marks. So the Paper 1 is the Paper that can do and undo the candidate. It carries the greater proportion of the marks. But a child that does not have control over the subject would just mess up everything and it would bog down to F9.
The problems are many. The problems are with the students themselves, the teachers and even the government.
The role of the government
The government is to create an enabling environment for teaching and learning. Then the government has to go about the training and retraining the teachers. Training and retraining the teachers is not just bringing ideas not relevant to the environment. It is a question of teaching them basic things like how to write good essays, how they will go about their comprehension, how they will go about their summary passages. If a teacher has control on all these areas, there is no way the child would fail. Even if the child is from educationally disadvantaged background, it doesn’t matter. The grading is from A1 to C6. He can at least get C6.
But if the teacher is not properly equipped in these areas, the students would find it difficult to pass. That is why the government should train and retrain. They should not stop training teachers. If they want to train, they should look for relevant resource people. People who have gone through the educational system, who have been involved in marking of scripts and who actually know the demands of English Language syllabus. When all these are lacking, there is no way the student can pass English Language. Like I have said earlier, in a public school before you can come across a student who will score 40 over 100 is a difficult task.
Teachers not being examiners
As a teacher you should attend the coordination even if you are not going to mark. You should acquire the experience because the schemes vary from year to year. If a teacher is not conversant with all these things, he won’t know the right thing expected of him. For example, today in Paper 1 we have the essay, comprehension and summary. Most of the time they have been giving the students stories to react to in comprehension and summary. In essay, they ask the students to write personal letters. Most of the time they write stories that are not relevant fit into requirements. A teacher has to be conversant with all these things. When the teacher is not conversant, there is no way he can impart the needed knowledge.
Discipline of students
Discipline will break down in schools because in the home too it is not observed. The parents don’t insist on discipline. If a child is from a disciplined home, he would transfer it to the school. Maintaining discipline in schools is a very difficult area because of certain cases coming out of disciplining students. Government encroachment has been too much. Discipline in the school is necessary. It is the strength of every school. With disciplines school and disciplined administration you will have a very disciplined school. But discipline has failed in the society and at homes. It is very difficult to maintain it except you are the stubborn Principal who appreciates the necessity of discipline in the school setting. Even then, as a human being there are times you can make a mistake. If you don’t device a means of maintaining discipline it may be very difficult. Discipline is essential in the school but very difficult.
It is for the smooth running of the administration if students will comport themselves and be orderly.

When you misfire as an administrator you are in trouble. Disciplined and orderly school is essential for smooth administration and learning. When you get to a disciplined school you think you are in a graveyard. Everything is silent. Everybody is minding his or her business. It is quiet with no disturbance or students roaming about. Everybody will be seated and teaching and learning would be going on well. And the students will not come to school late.
When you want to maintain that as a Principal some of your teachers would be rebellious. They will consider it to be too harsh. The government is not helping matters. Parents are also not helping matters. Most of the young parents don’t beat their children at home. During our own time our parents beat us at home. So it was not strange if you were beaten at school. Even if you were bruised nobody would care. But these days the young parents would not want to beat their children and they would not want the teacher to beat their children.
If you say punishment, you can give the child imposition. But these days it takes time. And the government is not encouraging suspension of students. If a child has gone beyond bounds, you just give him a week or two to stay at home with the parents and return when he is sober. Government restrictions have made things very difficult for school Principals. The Principals have no authority. He is the school Principal, but if he is not diplomatic, he can incur the wrath of the society, the government.

Experience with discipline of students as a Principal
What I was doing was to call a meeting of the parents before curbing the excesses of the students. I would put a notice, inviting the parents to discuss at length. For instance on late coming, I would tell the parents “your children have been coming late and it has been disturbing teaching and learning in the first period. what do we do?” If they say we should curb the lateness, we would then deliberate on how to curb the lateness. I would take suggestions from the parents. Mine would be to implement the suggestions. The reason is this: there are some parents who have access to the ministry. They would just go and tell some cock and bull story. Eventually, they would start worrying you. They (Ministry Officials) would not let you concentrate in school.
It is better to start with the parents and give the children grace of, maybe, two weeks to adjust. You tell them “we have resumed today. If you come late to school two weeks from now, you would be sanctioned”. It is as simple as that.
You see, you cannot discipline the students without the parents’ consents because some of them may not agree with you.
So that was the way I was going by it. I would first of all invite the parents and we discuss and reach resolution. Then the students would be given time to prepare. By the time the grace period expires he would have checked himself and put some things in order. Eventually, you would have very few of them would fall into that trap. There must be consultation.
And you as the Principal must be an embodiment of discipline. If you tell the students not to come late, you too should come to school early. By 7 to 7.30 you are already in the school. If you do that, the children will learn one or two things from you. But you cannot sit somewhere, doing something different and expect the students to behave well. It won’t work. If you want to curb staff lateness, you come early to school. You should be one of the first arrivals in the school.

Examination malpractice
The problem is that the students are not properly equipped for the examination. So they panic when they want to go and write the examination. They don’t exude that confidence expected of them. That is why they go all out to look for easy way out. That easy way out is examination malpractice. They look for ‘live’ questions, solicit for assistance of some corrupt teachers to assist them in the examination hall.
The first solution to examination malpractice is to prepare the children very well. If the child is very well prepared, half of the problem is already solved.
Then with the staff, all of them cannot be corrupt. You have one or two teachers you can trust who would not compromise. These are the teachers you choose to lead the invigilators. There would be more than two who are honest who would not tolerate malpractice. They are the people you make the chief invigilators for each paper. Some of the teachers, the young teachers especially, collect money. They would even collect money for even tests,
Prepare the children well and you will need some disciplined and honest teachers who will invigilate.
So if you have the honest teachers leading the invigilation, the deviant ones cannot do anything. If they want to do anything unusual they would be curbed.
Involvement of school Principals in examination malpractice
The pressure for that is from the government. When the school result is bad they indict them. In their meetings they say all sorts of uncomplimentary things about such schools as if the school is not being properly manned, when such pressure is mounted on them, they will go to the extent of aiding and abetting. Promotion of the staff should not be based on the performance of the students. Once you do it like that, you are indirectly creating an atmosphere conducive for examination malpractice.

How have you been spending your retirement period?
I have been going round some schools, assisting them on the effective teaching of English Language. I want to establish a consultancy service where teachers would be trained in the teaching of certain subjects- English Language, Mathematics, Economics and some other subjects. The teachers would be trained by the best hands you can find in this country.

Sexual harassment in schools
I heard some cases like that. It is a very delicate matter. In the first instance, when something of that nature happens in the school the school would be divided. You would have some members of staff who would say no and others would say yes. Some would be supporting the accused teachers. That is why I say it is very delicate matter. If a teacher is using his position as teacher of students to be harassing those students sexually, the best thing to do as a Principal is to request for his transfer from that school. If he goes to another school and he does that, they also would agitate for his transfer. By the time he goes round about ten or twenty schools, he would eventually be sober

Teachers who write anonymous petitions
What you should do as a Principal is to have record of everything in the school. Some teachers want to operate in an atmosphere of confusion. They don’t like well-disciplined place where things are done in proper manner. I can give you one simple example: if at the end of every term, the Principal would call for the marks, the continuous assessment marks, have a copy with him and a copy with the teacher, and do that for all the test and take the pain to vet the CA marks and ensure they agree with what is in the marked scripts, teachers would find you very strict. Some would commend you. But those who live on collecting N500 from students and so forth would gang against the Principal and write their petitions
The Ministry of Education is operating a system I will call an absentee landlord. When the landlord is not living on the premises, anytime he comes and people tell him about some things going on he would consider all the tenants as being bad. And he would just be doing some things the tenants will not like. That is what they do in their investigation. They come for investigation. They don’t have their facts. If the person who wrote the petition has been able to make himself available, it would have been easy to investigate.
Some teachers basically are cowards. They can’t call a spade a spade. If you see that the Principal is doing something bad and come out with your facts, it would be very easy. It would solve a lot of problems. You see when the Ministry officials start their investigation, if you are not careful, innocent people would be brought to their investigation because they would mention their names somewhere. By the time you get to know they would start asking foolish questions. That is what I see in the whole idea of petition writing.
A Principal who would not be subjected to anonymous petition would be one who has given them the laxity to do whatever they like. Once the Principal is disciplined and say this is what I want for my school, a lot of the teachers would commend the Principal. But you would have three or four who would be very rebellious because they cannot operate in that atmosphere. So certainly they can write a petition against the Principal .
Life as a retiree
The entitlement was delayed. But it has eventually been paid. I am sorry to say one thing, Fashola’s government was basically an anti-pensioner’s government. His emphasis was on other development, neglecting the pensioners. Ambode has been very good to the pensioners. If he can continue to clear the backlog, once someone retires they can get their entitlements within three to four months. But once there is backlog there is no way you can pay someone who has just retired. It is very painful when you retire and you don’t have any means of livelihood. You were once collecting a salary and the salary was okay for you. But when you are retired you don’t have anything. Not even N5000. It is a big money to you. And you know you are growing. And this environment when you are growing all sorts of ailments would be emerging- diabetes, hypertension. All these things would start coming. That is the time you have to take good care of your health. And when you don’t have the financial wherewithal what do you do
My philosophy
I believe you should do your best and leave the rest to God

Religious Belief
It is a personal matter. I am not enthusiastic about religion. Not that I condemn religion but I have read a lot about what religion can cause in the society. Very bad people hide themselves under the cloak of religion and become hypocrites. So I am not so keen. Not that I don’t believe in God. But I am not so keen about religion.

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

My father banned TV, others in our home when I was growing up –Temidayo, first-class graduate of law school

My father banned TV, others in our home when I was growing up –Temidayo, first-class graduate of law school

Mr Daodu Oluwamayowa Temidayo, a graduate of Ekiti State University, graduated with first-class degree in the 2017/2018 set of the Nigerian Law School. He tells IHUOMA CHIEDOZIE how he was able to excel in the school

Looking back, are you happy that you chose to study law?

I am happy that I studied law. Right from childhood, being a lawyer has always been my dream and I am grateful to God for making that dream a reality today.

What made you decide to study law?

Putting a smile on someone’s face and helping others have been the driving force behind my decision to be a lawyer. I felt it would afford me the opportunity to reach out to them. The respect and honour given to those in the legal profession also motivated me to become a lawyer.

Which university did you attend?

I attended Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, formerly known as University of Ado-Ekiti.

Was it easy for you to graduate with a first-class degree in law school?

Graduating with a first-class degree in law school was not easy, I must admit. Anyone who graduated from the law school will confirm that. The law school programme is structured in such a way that your least grade determines your final results unlike what you have in the university where a poor grade in one course may not really reflect on the Grade Point Average.

How many of you graduated with a first-class in your set in the law school?

Two graduates of Ekiti State University graduated with a first-class from the law school, while a total of 161 students bagged first-class degrees in the 2017/2018 set of the Nigerian Law School.

Was there any strategy you deployed that worked for you?

Well, I believe it was God that made it possible. Speaking of strategy, I don’t think I did anything special. However, I believe in having mentors, and have always followed their advice. I made it a duty to read all the interviews and stories of those who graduated with first-class degrees that I could find. I took note of the things they did differently and how they succeeded. This helped me during my stay in the law school. I made sure I read ahead of each class and also did the tasks assigned for each class because of the fear that I could be called in class to say something. This helped me to understand the topics. I also took lectures very seriously and listened attentively in class because I knew law school examination questions would come from the lecturers. I used the materials of Kenneth Okwor, who was the overall best student in his set in addition to the recommended textbooks.

What was the longest number of hours you read at one go?

Honestly, I can’t read for long hours; after three hours of reading, I always took a break before reading any material again. I always envied those who stayed up all night to read. Right from time, I had known that I couldn’t read at night, that was why I did as much as I could during the day.

While in the university, did you have time for social events at all?

(Laughs) I didn’t engage in social activities during my undergraduate days. However, I was actively engaged in MFMCF (Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries Christian Fellowship) EKSU. I became an executive right from when I was in 300 level and the only time left for me after school and church programmes, was purely spent on reading and studying.

Did you make any conscious effort to seek out friends that could motivate you to study harder?

Yes, I have always surrounded myself with friends who are like-minded and would challenge me to study harder. I was lucky to have such friends in school, also in Kano campus. My friends at the law school contributed in no small way to my success at the bar final exams; we always had group discussions where we shared views and worked on past questions while timing ourselves. My friends, to a large extent, helped me to realise my dreams.

Did you have to sacrifice anything in order to excel?

I had to give up social life and unnecessary outings. I remember staying back after the end of first term and spending Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in school just to be able to read the topics we had done and discuss same with my friends who were also around during the break.

Was graduating with a first-class degree a challenge you set for yourself?

Having a first-class degree has always been my goal right from the outset. I started with the end in mind and was ready to pay the price, knowing that with God, nothing is impossible. And yes, I did challenge myself; although, I finished with a second-class upper degree from university, I told myself that if others could do it, then nothing should stop me from graduating with a first-class degree from law school even if I didn’t have it in the university.

Have you imagined how you would have felt if you had failed to achieve the feat?

After seeing the workload and the enormous demands of the law school, it crossed my mind a couple of times that I might not have it, but my consolation always came from Isaiah 41:10. This has always been my anchor scripture and my belief was that those who succeeded did not have two heads.

How would you have felt if you had not graduated with a first-class degree?

I would have accepted any grade I got even if it wasn’t first class, because I know that grades cannot limit one’s potential if the person has a passion for greatness. Many of the renowned and brilliant lawyers who have contributed immensely to the legal profession did not even graduate with first-class degrees.

What are your aspirations? Where would you like to work?

I would like to get a master’s degree in one of the renowned universities in the United Kingdom. I hope to get a scholarship to enable me to pursue my dream. I also desire to carve a niche for myself in the corporate world. I desire after my service year, to work in one of the top-tier law firms (in the country) and learn and develop, especially in the area of corporate law.

How did your parents and siblings feel after you graduated with a first-class degree?

When our results were finally released, I had to summon courage to check mine, after having sleepless nights for two days. I finally checked my results with my heart beating very fast. Fear was written all over me, lo and behold, it was first class. I checked the results more than three times to be sure they were mine because I felt I didn’t answer some questions well. My younger brother was even scared when I shouted upon seeing my results; my parents were elated and glad and they told me it was well deserved.

Were there times your parents rewarded you for your performance?

Yes, my parents, especially my dad, are strict disciplinarians who always encourage us to study hard. He believes every child has great potential which can only be revealed through hard work and discipline. Since I was in primary school, my dad imposed a ban on watching of television in our house. We never had DVD or even computer games. His belief was that the time spent watching television should be spent adding value to yourself and reading your books. My parents were very supportive and would always encourage you, even after failing. They will say you can still be the best you are meant to be.

What do you think students should be doing that they don’t do?

Students should rely more on God rather than depend on their own strengths and abilities. Humility and readiness to learn, even if it’s from one’s classmates, goes a long way in helping students to succeed.

I will also state that diligence, dedication and willingness to pay the price for success should also be part of the culture imbibed by students, as a man once said that greatness is achievable, but not without a price.

I think students should look inward and find out what actually works for them. Many people fail to achieve excellence because they tend to copy others.

Some people are of the view that it is harder to maintain a first-class grade level than to get there; how true is this?

I quite agree with that position. Expectations are somehow higher, especially for someone that is already at that level. It behoves the person to show that it isn’t by fluke and that the position is well deserved. There are times I almost gave up on my dream of graduating with a first-class degree, but I constantly reminded myself that the difference between those who succeeded and those who failed was that the latter gave up earlier, while those who succeeded held on a bit longer than others.

Were you one of the best in your class in secondary school?

No, I attended Oyemekun Grammar School, Akure, Ondo State and during my secondary school days, I was not even among the best students in my class; I was an average student. After I did Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination for the first time, I couldn’t get my favourite course of study in the University of Benin, Edo State; that was law. I did my second UTME and got 263 after which I got admission to study law at EKSU, formerly UNAD.

Why do you think students fail in school?

I think many people fail because of fear. When school resumed for third term after the externship period, the fear was so palpable. Fear can make you forget the simplest things like your name. The best thing is to put one’s fear under control and turn it into something that will motivate you to do great things and not act as a barrier. Inability to pay attention to small things such as instructions or even questions can bring failure. Many people fail not because they don’t know the subject, but because they either answered it wrongly or did not fully answer the question.

Are there any challenges you had while in school that could have stopped you from graduating with a first-class degree?

Law school is a jealous wife which requires your full and undivided attention. I always found it difficult to keep up with the workload and volume of books that we had to read for each course. Many times, after each day’s lecture, I would find it difficult to prepare for the next day, so I had to come up with a to-do list as a means of managing my time well. I tried to wake up early in the morning to do revision and attend to tasks and after class, I tried to revise and also read in preparation for the next day. I made it a culture to always finish all the activities listed on my list before going to bed each night. At some point, I was intimidated when I saw people taking notes, going to the library and reading till daybreak. I had to find out what actually worked for me, so I came up with a plan that suited me. I knew I had to read two or three times before I would understand a topic unlike others who would read once and understand. I started listening to audio lectures and my personal recordings, which help me to remember the principles and sections faster.

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

Yoruba won’t sacrifice Osinbajo for Obi —Arise

South-West Can’t Trade Osinbajo For Obi —Arise

By Tribune Online

Senator Ayo Arise, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and governorship aspirant in Ekiti State in 2018, speaks exclusively with Senior Deputy Editor, TAIWO AMODU, on the chances of his party in the South-West ahead of the general election. Excerpts:

There is the perception that the goodwill President [Muhammadu] Buhari latched on to earn the victory in the 2015 elections has been depleted in the last three years. What is your take?

I would say that it isn’t so much of a surprise, if the atmosphere appears that he doesn’t have 100 per cent of the people that were supporting him in 2015 at the present time.

So many reasons can be responsible for that. One of his major focuses is to fight corruption and there is nobody who can successfully fight corruption without making enemies for himself. Otherwise, you aren’t fighting corruption. His major focus has been the people at the grassroots. The elite, the rich people, those who have amassed wealth, have their own influence as well, because they have so much money that they can throw around to ensure that they whip up sentiments against the incumbent president. It isn’t totally strange. You would see that in every society, when you take on the corrupt people, you know that you are taking on very powerful people. The moment many of them start realising that the pipe of free money is drying up, a lot of noise begins.

FG approves disbursement of N161bn intervention fund to varsities, others

They say the president isn’t doing enough, yet, it is the responsibility of the ruling party to go out and showcase his achievements and ensure that the voices of those who are against the serious fight against corruption don’t override the voices of those who are in support.

The government has, so far, been judged based on the agenda it set for itself: fight against corruption and insurgency as well as diversification of the economy. Even the fight against corruption has been described as selective, given the kid-glove with which the Senator Musiliu Obanikoro issue was handled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), while the insurgency is still very much with us. What does this mean to you?

Well, I don’t think there is selective fight against corruption. Let us look at Obanikoro example you gave. In every nation of the world, when you wage war against drug lords or corrupt people, you find out that there might be times to be able to successfully prosecute and you would require the assistance of somebody who might have a case of being a conduit for the gang; he becomes a government witness. And as a government witness, it is a trade-off: the government would say ‘for you to witness for us, these are the things we would do for you.’

That isn’t strange anywhere, even in the most sophisticated democracies of the world. Once they make a person turn state witness, the whole scenario changes. If you were supposed to be sent to 10 years in jail, they could give you one year. They negotiate. I think that’s the kind of arrangement in the Obanikoro case. Everything isn’t 100 per cent perfect. But people have gone to jail; people have lost even at the Court of Appeal.

The opposition always argues that those convicted were those the EFCC arraigned under the last administration, that the APC-led administration, despite its claim of fighting corruption, has failed in securing judgments. Doesn’t this seem to be so?

Now, let me put it this way. When you talk about cases initiated by previous government, there were cases initiated by the Obasanjo-led government that others inherited. So, government is a continuum. The question is, if a person commits this crime, is there the will power by this government to fight the crime or corruption? The answer is yes for Buhari.

So, nobody is running to him! These guys have been sentenced. We have been in this country for so long. It was only when this same Buhari came in as military head of state that they jailed some people that they assumed were corrupt; though there were questions on the process, you can still give it to him that he has the will power to ensure that we move forward. If we aren’t rescued from corruption, it is certain that this nation will go under!

Look at the roads that this government is tarring, and the rail lines; some said they were started by Jonathan. Where is this coming from? We have had rail lines from the colonial days. In what state are they now? Did the past administration build upon it?

So, whatever Jonathan put there, the present government took it over and built upon it for the benefit of our people. Whatever the former administration left, this [one] has continued to improve on it and make tremendous progress.

So, for me, yes, things are hard because, one, the money that this government is now voting into the economy is actually reaching the have-nots, the hopeless, the poorest of the poor. We have Trader moni. We have feeding programmes; everything targeted towards improving the lot of those suffering in the society.

Now, we are all used to flying first-class and private jets everywhere. Those who can’t fly first class anymore and have been downgraded to business-class would blame it on Buhari. It isn’t that the economy is so bad, but the free economy is suddenly no longer free as it used to be. You must work for your own money. However, there are some challenges on the budget, because at a point our foreign reserve went up. But I think now, the price of crude oil has dropped. So, we expect a low benchmark for the 2019 budget. This can’t be blamed on government policies. This government is ready to actually put money in Sovereign Wealth.

You said the fluctuating price of crude can’t be blamed on government?

No.

Is there a concrete step to diversify the economy so that we can move from our mono-cultural status?

Yes, of course. If people can’t see that, it is because there isn’t enough publicity of so many of these programmes. The other day, I saw the minister of agriculture and I told him that I had some hectares of land in one of the satellite towns of Abuja. He told me the government had so many initiatives; that it was giving money to people who had land to for food crops and livestock for export. He said there was money given to people to grow cassava, rice, corn and millet, depending on the size of land you had and that government was giving money to rural people to begin farming. They are trying to help a lot of those who are into mechanised farming.

So, opportunities are there. Doors are open for people who want to work now. But let me tell you, it isn’t overnight that politics became the only thing in town. All of a sudden, people became local government chairmen and buy big houses, cars and everything within the rural setting. Even the Okada job some were doing was no longer attractive; everybody now wants to be in politics to be able to lay hands on public funds.

Reversing all these will take determination and time. It isn’t what the government or party can do in four years. These are the rot that we have inherited over a long period. We know a number of mismanagement of our resources occurred under the previous government, but why are we in a hurry? Under previous administrations, there was no addition to our generation capacity; no addition to the transmission capacity so that we can have electricity. These are things that we should have been building upon since we attained independence.

To reverse the trend, somebody must have the courage to do it so that we can begin to put this nation on the right path. The way I look at it, there is nobody that can come into government anywhere in the world without his shortcomings, but there is concrete evidence that this government is moving us in the right direction. This nation is going through a rebirth.

It appears the APC is going into this election, a divided house. The aggrieved governors haven’t been placated. What is the way forward?

Yes. But as I said, there is no party that is immune to dissatisfaction. I was reading in the dailies that many of the PDP governors from the East didn’t attend Atiku Abubakar’s turbaning, saying they weren’t informed about it. The way I look at it, many of them who could have wished that they were picked are fuelling this crisis.

So, it isn’t unique to APC. The problem is that some people feel that their candidates weren’t made the party’s candidates and they aren’t happy. But I keep on telling them that nobody can have everything in life that he wants. If the reverse were to be the case, then, it isn’t going to be one person that would be governor; we could have had many people as governors. We should sit down occasionally and thank God for what He has done for us.

When you look at it critically, some things would work for some people, while some wouldn’t. I believe the APC family will work together to ensure that APC wins the coming election.

President Buhari recently overruled the APC National Working Committee (NWC) which advised aggrieved members that filed suits against the party to withdraw them. Was it proper for Buhari to have done that? What is the place of party supremacy in all this?

Well, the head of the ruling party is actually the president. The president might have done that to protect the rights of members of the party, or the statement of the chairman of the party was misconstrued. The constitution of the party actually frowns on litigations and we believe that as a family, we should be able to resolve our differences and this allows the party to actually expel whoever goes against what the constitution of the party says.

But when you look at the position of the president, he is looking at the fact that there should be freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, if he is looking at it from that perspective, he is correct. If he is looking at it from the party perspective, the chairman of the party is correct. The two positions are correct, but you know the one that is superior in matters like this is the one canvassed by the head of the party; that’s the president of the country.

Normatively?

Yes, even in the United States! The head of the Republican Party is Trump. Can you even remember the name of the chairman of the Republican Party? When the Democrats were there, the head was actually the president. That’s the way the presidential system operates and we should always understand that.

When a president makes a statement, it doesn’t really mean that he is overruling the party, because he relies on his advisers and the information given to him. Maybe one of those people went to whisper to him and he knows that the Nigerian Constitution allows you to seek redress in court. If he hears that, that is what he would respond to.

Maybe the chairman of the party went to whisper to him, “If these crises continue, it can destroy what we are trying to do.”

The greatest threat to any party is those people who are inside working to undermine it. Some of us who are at the grassroots understand this.

There is a power tussle in the South-West ahead of 2019 general election. The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere has endorsed Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate, while Bola Tinubu is leading the pro-Buhari camp. What is the choice before the zone?

You see, the Afenifere is a socio-cultural group, not a political party. The people there are our fathers. We listen to them on issues that affect Yoruba as an entity. There is no way Afenifere can ask the Yoruba people to go and vote for anybody, outside Buhari when our son is the vice-president.

But they are already saying it. Aren’t you aware of their disaffection for Buhari?

We won’t listen to them! That’s the truth. Why would they be saying it; that we should go and vote for Atiku so that Peter Obi will now become vice-president of Nigeria? Then, what will now happen to the Yoruba?

The argument, according to them, is that Professor Osinbajo as vice-president is tokenism. What they see as more fundamental to the South-West is restructuring, devolution of power, which Atiku is willing to address. They are saying Buhari has been averse to true federalism and its proponents in the last three years. Are they wrong?

Now, we are both Yoruba. Do you really believe we can achieve restructuring without going through the amendment of the constitution? That’s the question we should think about, because I was in the National Assembly. At the end of the day, the best thing that we will get is to get the National Assembly to continue to address the issue of true federalism which has been pushed to the front burner in this country, because, right now, Nigeria is preparing for free and fair elections and there are things you cannot force on the polity; it must be gradual.

You hear more noise about community police now. They are avoiding the state police. Let us even have the local police. Later, we would get the state police. This is federalism and we aren’t practising it yet. Once we begin to put all those things in place, gradually, we would realise that we would achieve all those things we are planning on achieving.

Yoruba leaders supporting Buhari are betrayers – Okurounmu

Yoruba leaders supporting Buhari are betrayers – Okurounmu

“How would any rational person refer to Fasanmi and Tinubu as genuine Yoruba leaders? Ayo Fasanmi is an impostor.”

Tunde Thomas

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Police and other security agencies have been advised to ensure that they discharge their duties without fear or favour during the 2019 general elections. Making the appeal in an interview with SATURDAY SUN, leading Afenifere chieftain, Senator Femi Okurounmu said the success or failure of the 2019 polls would depend to a large extent on INEC. He condemned a situation where APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is still manipulating a factional leader of pro-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Fasanmi for alleged self-seeking political gains. He also spoke on other national issues.

Okurounmu, Adebanjo, other Afenifere leaders are noisemakers – Ajomale
What is your reaction to the polarization within the Afenifere group over the adoption of President Muhammadu Buhari, and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for 2019 presidential election with one group led by Chief Reuben Fasoranti backing Atiku and another one led by Senator Ayo Fasanmi backing President Buhari?
Let me set the record straight by making it very clear and loud that Afenifere is not polarized. Afenifere is still much intact. There is only one Afenifere, and that authentic Afenifere is the one being led by Chief Reuben Fasoranti to which Chief Adebanjo , my humble self and other progressive elements and eminent Yoruba belong to. This Afenifere group is the one that genuinely serve the interests of Yoruba people.

The group being led by Ayo Fasanmi is a renegade group. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State created this group and Fasanmi and other few rebellious elements that belong to this group are Tinubu’s puppets. Tinubu is their political master and leader, and they are always serving Tinubu’s interests and not Yoruba interests. You can only hear Ayo Fasanmi, a 94-year -old man speaking out only when Tinubu’s interest is involved. You will never see Ayo Fasanmi utter a single word when Yoruba interests are involved. How many Nigerians even know Ayo Fasanmi. Does his name even ring a bell like that of Fasoranti and Pa Ayo Adebanjo?

On several occasions in the past and even in recent time where Yoruba’s interests are threatened or where Yoruba are being persecuted, it is only the authentic Afenifere under Pa Reuben Fasoranti that has been speaking out defending Yoruba interests.

Few instances will suffice here. About two years ago when some Hausa and Fulani were killing Yoruba people in Ile-Ife, was it not Afenifere led by Fasoranti that spoke out and defended Yoruba interests?

Another instance of Tinubu and Ayo FAsanmi’s betrayal of Yoruba people was when herdsmen were on rampage in Yorubaland maiming and killing innocent farmers on their farms. Did anybody hear Tinubu and his puppet Ayo Fasanmi talking? No, they kept quiet because Fulani herdsmen involved in killing Yoruba farmers were kinsmen of Buhari, an ally of Tinubu.

Rather than speaking out against this evil for posterity sake, 94 year old Ayo Fasanmi kept quiet because he wanted to please Tinubu. Fasanmi at his age when he should speak out the truth kept quiet. He didn’t want to offend Tinubu the man who is sponsoring him and his group.

Even when Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped on his farm by these Fulani herdsmen, Tinubu and Pa Ayo Fasanmi didn’t utter a word of condemnation because President Buhari, his friend’s kinsmen were involved.

How then would any rational person refer to Fasanmi and Tinubu as genuine Yoruba leaders? Ayo Fasanmi is an impostor. Since 2003, he and some renegade members of Afenifere have pulled out of the organization at Tinubu’s prompting and since then Tinubu has been using Ayo Fasanmi as a willing political tool to serve his personal interests.

Afenifere as a group has come a long way starting from the days of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the 40s. The group under Awolowo first started as Egbe Omo Oduduwa before it became Afenifere later, still under the leadership of Chief Awolowo.

But after Awolowo’s death, other prominent and eminent Yoruba that have led the group include late Chief Adekunle Ajasin and late Pa Abraham Adesanya. It was after Adesanya’s death that Pa Reuben Fasoranti emerged as Afenifere leader, and he still remains the bona fide and authentic Afenifere leader. Nigerians should disregard Ayo Fasanmi. Fasanmi is Tinubu’s creation and puppet. Tinubu uses him for his personal and political interests.

With this development, some people are worried that Yoruba may be confused about who to vote for or support in 2019 between President Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, what’s your take on this?
There is no need for confusion. When the time is ripe, we the authentic Afenifere will speak out and tell Yoruba who to support among the two presidential candidates.

However, they should ignore Tinubu’s puppet, Fasanmi and members of his group. They are not Yoruba patriots but sell-outs. Fasanmi, Tinubu and others in their group are sell-outs. They are pursuing personal interests and not Yoruba agenda.

But initially it was reported that Afenifere led by Pa Fasoranti to which you, and Chief Ayo Adebanjo belong to had endorsed former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakr, and had asked Yoruba to vote for him in 2019, what exactly happened?
What happened was this; all along, what Afenifere has been canvassing for is restructuring of Nigeria. We have been calling for a return to true practice of federalism which is what restructuring is all about, and we made it crystal clear that Afenifere will only back any of the candidates that support and promise to restructure Nigeria.

There would have been no need for the clamour for restructuring of Nigeria these past years if the military had not bastardised Nigeria’s democracy. Nigeria was practicing true federalism between 1960 and 1965 before the Nigeria Army truncated democracy. With the military take over in 1966, federalism was buried as the soldiers introduced unitary system of government. It is this unitary system of government that is giving Nigeria problems now, and this is why there has been growing clamour for restructuring which will ensure a return to true practice of federalism.

However since the campaign for 2019 started, it is only Atiku through his pronouncements that has shown his commitment to restructuring of Nigeria. President Buhari has never hidden his disdain for restructuring. He has said it openly that he is not in support of restructuring of Nigeria, although his party, APC realizing that it is election year has been trying to say that the party and Buhari are committed to restructuring, but Nigerians should not listen to them. Buhari has already spoken, he has expressed his disdain for restructuring, and he is the leader of APC. So those who are saying that Afenifere has adopted Atiku are saying so because Atiku’s position on restructuring is in tandem with our own stand on the same issue.

So what you are saying is that for now Afenifere has not adopted either Atiku or Buhari …
(Cuts in) … Like I said earlier, Afenifere has not adopted Atiku, but Atiku’s position on restructuring is in agreement with what Afenifere has been canvassing on the issue. However in this January, Afenifere’s position on who Yoruba should vote for between Buhari and Atiku will be made known. Before the end of January , Afenifere will make a formal declaration on the issue. However, we will not make the declaration alone. We will do so alongside other groups like the Ohanaeze in the South East, Pan-Niger-Delta Forum in the South South, Middle Belt Forum, and some groups and elements from the core North who believe in restructuring.

We are all going to hold a joint rally this month, and it is at that rally that we will tell Nigerians who to support and vote for between Buhari and Atiku. So this month, Nigerians will hear from us.

What is your reaction to the recent statement by the Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo urging Yoruba to vote massively for President Buhari in 2019 so that the presidency will come to the South West in 2023?
It is the most unpatriotic remark. Does Osinbajo and his godfathers think Yoruba are idiots? Osinbajo is on his own. His remark doesn’t have the support of Yoruba. Osinbajo is either pursuing his own personal agenda or that of his godfather, Tinubu. But certainly Osinbajo is not speaking the mind of Yoruba. Yoruba believe in one Nigeria. Yoruba believe in the unity of Nigeria and Yoruba also believe that the presidency is not a monopoly of the Yoruba or the South West. It is also not a monopoly of the North West geo-political zone where Buhari hails from.

Between 1999 and now, the South West where former President Obasanjo and Osinbajo come from has been having a taste of presidency, same thing with the North West zone where late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua and President Buhari come from has also been having a taste of presidency. Are there no other geo-political zones in the country who should produce the president?
Osinbajo is greedy and his remark is very insensitive. Osinbajo is being deceitful. He wants to deceive Yoruba to vote for Buhari in 2019 but in trying to do so, he is making himself to look foolish because Yoruba people can’t be deceived. Osinbajo is the type we call His Masters Voice. I doubt whether he has an independent mind of his own on some of these issues he is talking about.

Osinbajo is being used as an errand boy by both Buhari and Tinubu. He will do anything for the two, but for now his 100 percent loyalty to Buhari is not in doubt, even though some of the action his principal, Buhari is taking is not in Yoruba interest. But Osinbajo, like Tinubu doesn’t care, they bother about their own personal interests and care less about the interests of Yoruba race.

Yoruba are not interested in 2023, but are only interested in restructuring of Nigeria. APC as a party is also dubious on this issue of 2023. The party has been promising both the South East, and the South West presidency in 2023. Nigerians should be wary of the antics of APC and Buhari as election is fast approaching.

There was a time, there was a strong rumour that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is interested in the presidency …
(Cuts in) … For me, Tinubu is not worth talking about. Tinubu cares only for himself and his personal interests. Tinubu is a cancer on Nigeria politics. Tinubu is ready to sell the entire Yoruba race into slavery in order to realize his personal ambition. Against Afenifere’s advice, he deceived Yoruba to vote for Buhari in 2015, but now our people are wiser. They’ve realized that it was a big mistake voting for Buhari.

But some Nigerians believe that several transformations have been taking place since President Buhari took over in 2015 …
(Cuts in) … Transformations indeed! Buhari has really transformed Nigeria into a land of hunger. For the first time under Buhari’s leadership, Nigeria has become poverty capital of the world. Hunger and poverty is ravaging the country. Also look at the issue of insecurity. Nigeria is no longer safe and secure under Buhari’s watch. Killer herdsmen who are Buhari’s kinsmen are on the rampage across the country killing and maiming innocent farmers. Look at how Boko Haram is wreaking havoc in the North East killing civilians and Nigerian soldiers.

How would you rate President Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the two appear to be the major gladiators in the 20919 presidential contest?
I don’t see Buhari winning the polls if the election is free and fair. But my fear on 2019 is that whether INEC would be able to conduct free and fair election under Buhari’s leadership. Look at how the federal government manipulated Osun gubernatorial elections using the Police and other security agencies.

Nigerians should be vigilant. I have a feeling that Buhari may be planning to sit tight but my advice to him is that if he loses the election, he should go quietly. He should go back to his village in Daura, or any place of his choice. We don’t pray for crisis or violence in 2019, but a lot will depend on Buhari, INEC, Police and other security agencies. If they do the right thing, Nigerians will applaud them, but if they try to manipulate the elections, their action may have dire consequences.

Any attempt to subvert the will of Nigerians may boomerang. Buhari and APC should remember that Nigeria is greater than any individual or political party. I also humbly appeal to other political parties to play the game according to the rules. They should not see 2019 as a do-or-die affair.

Credit: The Sun

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