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Pantami Should Resign Now – Tony Ademiluyi

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Terrorism is as old as man. All through the ages man has always had the unbridled quest for domination and control through any available means no matter how obnoxious and repugnant.

The invincibility of the United States who became a global power in 1945 after the Second World War was broken through the September 11, 2001 attack on her World Trade Centre in New York which led to the loss of thousands of lives. The reign of terror spread to London in 2004 when the famous Underground train station was bombed. Our own erudite Professor Pat Utomi narrowly escaped the cold hands of death in the blast.

The advent of Boko Haram in 2002 and its militant approach in 2009 has brought terrorism closer to the doorsteps of Nigerians. Every day the press regales us with suicide bombings making mincemeat of a former assertion that we were once the happiest people on earth.

To be associated with terrorism is worse than a mortal sin even if it is a mere joke. Ask Prince Harry who faced public opprobrium when he once wore a Swastika on Halloween day.

The Daily Independent Newspapers owned by James Ibori first blew a story on April 11 that the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami was a terrorist sympathizer. The report dubbed ‘Disquiet as America places Nigerian minister on watch list’ alleged that “America’s Intelligence Service” has placed Pantami on its watch list for his anti-American pro-jihadist beliefs and close alliance with Boko Haram founder, Muhammad Yusuf.

The paper credited “Western Intelligence” with linking Pantami with Al-Qaeda leaders and paying glowing tributes to them in YouTube videos. It also cited “Middle Eastern Intelligence” sources that photos of Pantami and his jihadist allies are trending. The paper was to later retract the story and tender an apology but the Pandora’s Box had been open. NewsWire NGR dug out some old videos of Pantami having banter with Mohammed Yusuf only for them to retract it also and issue an unreserved apology.

Sahara Reporters and Peoples Gazette dug up old videos of him which showed some amount of sympathy to international terrorist groups. With headlines such as “We are all happy whenever unbelievers are being killed: Minister Pantami”, “I support terrorist groups like Taliban, Al-Qaeda, not Boko Haram: Minister Pantami”, as well as “Boko Haram terrorists are our Muslim brothers, shouldn’t be killed like pigs: Minister Pantami” Peoples Gazette presented Mr Pantami as a religious bigot and an active supporter of international terrorism.

Sahara Reporters followed the same track with the headline “I Support Terrorist Groups Like Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Not Boko Haram – Minister Pantami” and published an opinion article titled “Unmasking A Jihadi Masquerade: The Many Faces of Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.” Both the report and the opinion piece harped on the Islamic doctrines and preachings of Mr Pantami which they posited to be in tune with global terrorism.

Some Twitter influencers took to the micro blogging site to create a hashtag #ResignIsaPantami. Pantami bowing to public pressure said that he once had extremist views in his youth but had ‘repented’ of them. Some of his supporters opined that the reason for his persecution is because he stepped on some powerful toes in the current NIN sim registration as sim cards were not sold for some months leading to the massive loss of revenue by the telecommunications companies. A counter thread was created on Twitter opposing the call for him to resign.

Terrorism is a grave issue and there should be zero tolerance for its sympathizers since it is a grave offence. We recall that the United States under Barack Obama liquidated Osama Bin Laden using the Naval seals and didn’t give him room for any form of trial despite its being the world’s bastion for the Rule of Law.

The critical question to ask is how come Pantami made it to the Buhari cabinet when the Department for Security Services (DSS) is saddled with the onerous responsibility of screening potential ministers and other political appointees through rigorous security checks? How did this infraction slip them by?

Terrorism has cost the loss of millions of lives and millions more have been greatly set back by becoming refugees, internally displaced persons with live worse than the Thomas Hobbesian definition of the state of nature. His admission of guilt at uttering those reprehensible statements should make President Muhammadu Buhari show him the door if he has been obdurate in his refusal to throw in the towel.

In sane countries, he would have resigned after his guilt admission for the DSS to conduct unbiased investigations but alas we are unfortunate to be domiciled in a failed state where the Theatre of the Absurd reigns supreme!

It is tyrannical of Buhari not to listen to the voice of Nigerians who want Pantami to be like the Shakespearean Caeser’s wife who should be above board in his dealings.

Buhari has proven not to live up to his novel nomenclature in being a reformed democrat which he made known during his 2015 campaign after cynics reminded the emotionally battered electorate of his jailing of the fearless Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson then of the Guardian Newspapers under the infamous Decree 4. He has refused to hearken to the hoarse cry of bewildered Nigerians especially on social media to drop Pantami like a hot potato.

Nigerians who fought with their blood and for some people paid the Supreme price for this joke of a democracy shouldn’t give up in their cry for Pantami to be forced to resign. The DSS will be biased in investigating him while he is still a minister. If Kemi Adeosun could resign after being found culpable by Premium Times in forging her NYSC credentials, then Pantami should not be spared either. What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander!

Public office holders should be mindful of their statements in public and private and terrorism sympathy should not be condoned in any form. The international community should come in. Sanctions should be meted out to Nigeria in a similar way that it occurred in November 1995 when the then General Sani Abacha led government hanged Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni eight without a fair trial. Countries should slam a travel ban on Pantami and it should be extended to the Buhari government. We recall that during the Obama led Presidency, Leahy’s law was invoked to block the sale of arms to Nigeria to fight the Boko Haram insurgency. In a twist of Dejavu, Joe Biden was the then Vice-President. Let us see whether the US would be hypocritical in its fight against global terrorism in not making a scape goat out of Pantami.

The Twitter warriors should not give up as Uhuru is near; the era of public officials showing contempt for Nigerians will soon be history.

I join my countrymen in the loud cry that #Pantamimustresign!

Tony Ademiluyi is a co founder of The Vent Republic Media – www.theventrepublic.com and writes from Lagos

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COLUMN

Aburi Ghosts, Asaba Secessionists And Waffles In High Places

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By Festus Adedayo


When you listen to Nigeria’s Senate President, Ahmed Lawan’s skewed submission on Southern governors’ meeting in Asaba, Delta State last week, you will realise that people in high places too are not immune from marketplace waffles. Miniature logic can proceed from the minds of huge, prarchute-like babanriga wearers after all. More importantly, from the tragic Lawan ill-logics, the much talked about January, 1967 Aburi Accord will present to you as the quintessential Julius Caesar’s ghost promising to meet its nemesis at Philippi. Finally, you will find out that Nigeria is trapped inside this pit being because it lacks critically thinking leaders.

After the assassination of Caesar, Shakespeare depicts him appearing like an apparition to his friend, Brutus and telling him “thou shall see me at Philippi.” Literati say, killed before the maturation of his dreams, Caesar’s ghost was predicting further evils. Buffeted on all fronts by a Federal Government that has become pallbearer of her citizens and a Nigeria under Buhari that has transmuted into a funeral parlour, the fifteen Nigerian governors had gathered to halt the Nigerian burial party. For two days – January 4 – 5, 1967 – fifteen high-ranking Nigerians had similarly gathered in Aburi to deliberate on a Nigeria that was about to kiss the canvass. Why they chose this town in the Akuapim South Municipal District of the Eastern Region, South of Ghana that was famous for its Botanical Gardens and the Idwira Festival is yet unknown.

The 15 Aburi conferees were: Chairman of the Ghana National Liberation Council, Lt.-General Joseph Arthur Ankrah, who was the then Chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and chairman of the occasion; Lt. Colonel Gowon; Ojukwu himself; Major Mobolaji Johnson; Lt.-Col. Hassan Katsina; Lt.-Col. David Ejoor; Commodore Joseph Edet Akinwale Wey; Colonel Robert Adebayo; Alhaji Kam Salem and Mr. T. Omo-Bare. They were supported by bureaucrats like N. Akpan, Secretary to the Military Governor of the Eastern Region; Alhaji Ali Akilu, Secretary to the Northern Military Governor; D. Lawani, Under Secretary, Military Governor’s Office, Mid-West; P. Odumosu, Secretary to the Western Military Governor and S. Akenzua, Permanent Under-Secretary, who later became the Oba of Benin.

By then, it had become obvious that the legs of the dead body the British haphazardly buried in a 1914 makeshift grave had begun to jut out embarrassingly. The Hausa-Fulani oligarchy had come full throttle in its arrogant belief that Nigeria was its to subjugate. Its military wing, which rode on the crest of a July, 1966 revenge coup, was effectively coordinating this conquest mindset with clinical precision. Before then, Northern Premier, Ahmadu Bello, concluding that progenies of Uthman Dan Fodio could not effectively compete with the south in western education-propelled leadership, had arrived at the need to strengthen Northern hold on the military. Secession from Nigeria in July, 1966 through Operation Araba then became the immediate response of the north.

Togo had given Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Danjuma and the putschists of July, 1966 the blueprint and the path to tread. This it did with its first coup d’etat in any French and British African colony since the wave of independence hit Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. Thus came the killing and ouster of Sylvanus Olympio as a model fitting for example. Aguiyi-Ironsi, beneficiary of an earlier revolutionary coup of January 15, 1966 led by Kaduna Nzeogwu, had bungled the opportunity to strengthen Nigeria on the path of her diversity and plurality. He sunk Nigeria further into an amorphous unitary rule. Olympio, Prime Minister of this tiny French neighbor of Nigeria’s, had shortly after midnight on January 13, 1963, been woken from sleep by soldiers who broke into his presidential home. By dawn, Olympio’s gruesomely mutilated body was discovered by Leon Poullada, America’s U.S. Ambassador, who saw it lying about three doors from the embassy building.

By June, 1966, Ojukwu and the East had confirmed the hostile and imbalanced administration of Nigeria under scions of the oligarchy in khaki. He saw how Eastern Nigerian resources constituted a huge chunk of the federal purse and its skewed deployment to the North. Igbo living in the North were subjected to a vile massacre typical of the bloodletting by 16th century Ethiopian Zimba cannibals. Joa dos Santos, a Portuguese priest living in Southeast Africa, had told the horrific story of how a warlike Zambesi tribe he called the Muzimba kaffirs, “had not only (eaten) the men they kill in war, but sell the surplus in market.”

The massacre of Igbo, labelled the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom, was in that Muzimba kaffirs mould. It was a series of butchering committed against Ndigbo living in Northern Nigeria from May of that year which got to its peak on September 29. A total of between 8,000 and 30,000 people of Igbo descent were estimated to have been butchered like Sallah rams. This prompted about a million of their kindred fleeing back to the east. It was apparently a reprisal against the killing of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and Northern Premier, Ahmadu Bello a few months before. Pictures of the remains of Bello suddenly sprung up on the streets of the North, with Nzeogwu heaving his military jackboots on his head. This was after Bello’s flight to the bosom of his harem, a move that couldn’t rescue him from the bullets of a man who went by the Kaduna middle name.

With Ojukwu sharpening the machete of war in a bid to fight to redeem his people from the hands of the feudal North, the July, 1967 Aburi meeting was thus a last opportunity to reverse the slide into war. As has been written copiously by scholars, the Aburi Accord was a template for national redemption which, if faithfully implemented, would have saved Nigeria in 1967 and probably avoid the calamity of today. Since the governance structure was skewed in favour of the North, the agreements reached were basically to return Nigeria to true federalism, with devolution of powers being its overarching motive.

Among others, the Accord agreed that the Army be reorganized to restore discipline and confidence in the military and that military governors should have power over military formations in their regions. Also, commissioners of police were to be responsible for maintenance of peace in their domains and Area Commands under Area Commanders corresponding to existing regions should be created. After Gowon had agreed to all these in Ghana, it was reported that Akenzua had gone back to tell him that the Accord meant confederation and by implementing it, Jack was on the verge of signing off Nigeria. Scholars have also said that Akenzua was just a puppet and the real forces pulling his strings were from the UK High Commission and other western powers who stood to lose their patrimony were Nigeria to break up.

All those however became history with Nigeria plunging into a fratricidal 30-month war estimated to have cost three million people. The obstinate failure of Gowon to implement the agreement is held to be one of the major reasons why Nigeria has known no peace thereafter and why, 54 years after, the system could throw up a Buhari as president, a man whose obstinacy and arrogance of power is decidedly worse than Yakubu Gowon’s.

Asaba, it will appear, is a miniature Aburi aimed at preventing Nigeria from going into war. Virtually all actors in the macabre drama called Nigeria are today agreed that vultures and hyenas of war are howling, thirsty for blood and cadavers of the living. Even the Buhari beatification choral group has come to accept that Nigeria is at the precipice. We may not agree on the way forward but that Nigeria is about to go the way of falsely-soldered-together strange bedfellows, is not in doubt.

Swap the dates from July, 1967 to May, 2021 and you will see that the firmament retains same red colour. Calls for secession are ten a dime on Nigerian streets. The Nigerian Army has been so thoroughly emasculated that a ragtag insurgent army is killing its troops like chickens. In the first quarter of 2021, 400 people were reported to have been killed by Boko Haram. Ask parents of abducted Greenfield University, Kaduna whose wards kidnappers are as asking for multiple of millions of Naira whether Nigeria is at war or in peace time. Your guess would be as good as mine. Erstwhile peace of eastern Nigeria has been violently busted by “Unknown Gunmen” who are apparently stronger than an effeminate Nigerian state in the hands of Buhari. The cheapest commodities in Nigeria today appear to be death and blood. Hunger is wracking the bellies of the people so rudely as the economy groans in throes. Everywhere you go, it is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

TEXEM

The Asaba conferees, like those gathered in Aburi, could see further descent into bloodshed. They asked for restructuring, tenets of which look like the Aburi demands. Cynics knew however that with a government of the deaf that administers Nigeria now, the Asaba conference will never produce any meaningful fruits. Never however could the governors have expected Lawan to so narrowly view the horror that is today’s Nigeria. While fielding questions from State House correspondents last Thursday, like Gowon who put on the lens of myopia and thus saw only secession in the Aburi Accord, for Lawan too, restructuring approximated a dismemberment of Nigeria.

“I believe that as leaders, those of us who were elected must not be at the forefront of calling for this kind of thing because even if you are a governor, you are supposed to be working hard in your state to ensure that this restructuring you are calling for at the federal level you have done it in your state as well,” he waffled.

Since taking over power in the revenge coup of 1966, the North has so cleverly tampered with the structure of Nigeria, through demographics and allied institutional maneuvering, so badly that no other region can take any consequential decision about restructuring Nigeria, except with its imprimatur. This was apparently what emboldened the Fulani, serially fingered in the dastardly murders across the country, to audaciously talk down on the rest of Nigeria. On Friday last week, the murderously militant wing of the Fulani, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, through its National Secretary, Alhassan Saleh, threatened that Fulani would be the first to leave Nigeria, while insulting the rest of us. And nothing will happen, because Buhari, his fellow Fulani, is in power.

“Herders are insignificant when it comes to problem of this country, are they the ones looting the treasury? What damages (sic) are they causing to this country? Compare to the criminal activities of ‘Yahoo’ boys, kidnappers, political looters, bandits in power, vagabonds in power like Governor (Samuel) Ortom, do you think if there is no oil money, all these things will be happening? Today we are ready, let them divide the country; let them not wait till tomorrow. We are better prepared than any ethnic nationality. So we are ready, let them divide the country, let us die, we that don’t have the oil,” he had thundered.

Lawan’s waffle was to be followed by a similarly colourless doggerel, this time from the jokester in Lugard House, Lokoja, Yahaya Bello. Speaking last week on a Channels Television’s programme, Politics Today, Bello said that by seeking a restructuring of Nigeria to douse the tension in the land and calling on Buhari to address the people, his governor counterparts from the South were heating up the polity. Ostensibly, by asking Buhari to at least come out to address Nigerians by himself and not via proxy, the governors reasoned that he would be assuring all that he could still speak coherently, widespread belief of his cognitive hamstring notwithstanding.

“When we are talking of security, unity and national cohesion of Nigeria, as leaders and politicians, we should be careful about the words we use…When it is titled or when it appears as if you are fighting President Muhammadu Buhari, our father and our President, we are all getting it wrong because we got to where we are today as a result of maladministration of successive administrations,” the groveller-for-presidential-office governor said. This is a Bello under whom Kogi is a replica of Haiti’s Papa, Baby Doc tyrannical enclave and where the bridge that collapsed in his state recently euphemistically symptomizes governance that had fallen.

They said a people is deserving of its rulers. How did we deserve the trio of Buhari, Lawan and Bello, acting in cahoots with many other short-sighted rulers, whose reasoning is diametrically different from the rest of Nigerians’? Does Nigeria deserve frozen reasoning, like ones glazed in the Antarctica, which oozes out of her leaders? Why is it that the rest of Nigeria sees ominous signs of collapse, a Nigeria twirling on the precipice, while what the leaders see is north, Federal Hausa-Fulani Government, positions at the top and how they can rule till the morning of Armageddon?

Forty Years After Bob: Was He Greater Than Peter Tosh?

Last Tuesday, the world marked the 40th anniversary in the grave of foremost Jamaican music legend, Robert Nesta Marley, popularly known as Bob Marley. He had died of melanoma cancer on May 11, 1981 at the University of Miami Hospital And Clinics, UHealth Tower, Miami, Florida, United States. Born to a British World War soldier, Novan and mother, Cedella Booker, on February 6, 1945 at his maternal grandfather’s farm in Nine Mile, Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, his death at the age of 36, placed side by side his global fame while alive and even much more in death, has buoyed that cliché that life is not how long but how well.

Tomes of works have been done on his magnificent stardom and impact on the transformation of the raw Jamaican Ska chant into a global musical brand that it would be a rehash doing that here. A major intellectual engagement however has been the argument: who is the greatest between him and his friend, brother and later sworn enemy, Peter MclnTosh, popularly known as Peter Tosh?

In terms of global acceptance, exposure and spread, there is no doubt that Marley is and was the toast of the world. While Tosh was still peaking in his native Jamaica, Marley had received a head start, principally from the early exposure given him by Christ Blackwell, the British owner of the international record label, Island Records. Blackwell’s choice of Marley among the trio of Bob, Peter and a recently deceased colleague of theirs, Neville O’Rilley, popularly known as Bunny Livingstone, has been put to racism and marketing strategy. While the trio, in 1962, decided to form a band which they named The Wailers, Peter was said to have taught the duo how to play the guitar. In their a little more than a decade of being together, The Wailers became a huge commercial success. The New York Times referred to them as “the most popular and admired of all reggae groups” and the band sold more than 250 million albums worldwide.

They however all went their ways in 1974, partly due to Blackwell’s preference for a mulatto Bob who would appeal to the western market, ahead of the two other weed-smoking, outlaw-looking musical urchins. Peter and Bunny had been shocked when, at their maiden UK tour organized by Blackwell, they had been confronted by the advertisement of their band as Bob Marley and The Wailers, as against their erstwhile The Wailers. Peter was to later lament that he “taught him how to play guitar and now they say he’s king of reggae.”

Peter was everything that Bob was and even more. For years, many people did not identify the raw talent and artistic bravura combined in the works of the 6.4 feet dreadlocked singer. This was due to his perceived arrogance and diffidence. For instance, immediately Bob died, Tosh had shocked the world in an interview where he claimed that Bob had peaked while he was decorating the stage. The truth is, Tosh was too assertive, too hot to handle and never hid his disdain for what he called Babylonian lifestyle of hedonism. Tosh believed in marrying words with action. Towards the latter part of his life, he cut a queer image of a revolutionary ready to carry arms. With his imposing height as he adorned a black beret, with a guitar that had the shape of an M16 assault rifle, Tosh didn’t mince words in projecting the narrative that he was a musical militant. He told those who underrated him that he was “like you are steppin’ razor” and asked, “don’t you watch my size” as “I am dangerous!” In comparison to others, Tosh said “I’m the Toughest,” an apparent reference to the trained karate belt holder that he was. He was once asked by an interviewer why he never smiled and he said that since he sang revolutionary song which was not love song, nor a tea party, he saw no reason to smile.

While they were both very spiritual, Peter was more. He was a strict Rastafarian, obeying its injunctions of not mixing with menstruating women, observing its strict dietary prescriptions and believed in doing good to his fellow man.. Apart from pursuing a path of goodness to his fellow man, his lyrics are laced with biblical quotations. Of the three original Wailers, though he didn’t have much education, he was the most cerebral. He could chant endlessly, quoting biblical verses with baffling mastery. The Mystic Man was perhaps the avenue Tosh used to showcase his spirituality the most. He had proclaimed his mysticism in that he doesn’t “drink no champagne…I don’t sniff them cocaine (as it) choke(s) brain… I don’t take morphine (dangerous)…I don’t take no heroin… I man don’t eat up your fried chicken…I man don’t eat up them frankfurters…I man don’t eat down the hamburger…I man don’t drink pink, blue, yellow, green soda” and the reason, he said, was because he was “a man of the past, living in the present and walking in the future.”

In terms of the depth of their songs, Tosh was deeper. He was what could be regarded as a linguistic gymnast and a poet. In his songs, you would encounter raw poetry, with alliterations and virtually all the figures of speech. The word “oppressor” Tosh called “downpressor,” imputing that those who committed such a heinous crime of oppression against blacks should not be dignified with any lifting up. The manager, to him, was the ‘damager’, the judge, a ‘grudge’, the system was ‘shit-stem’ and the Prime Minister, the ‘Crime Minister’ who ‘shits’ (sits) in the ‘House of Represent-a-t’iefs’.” Christopher Columbus was Christopher ‘Combulus’ and Alexander the Great was, “Alexander So Called The Great.” In one of his vinyl he entitled Here comes the judge, just like in Downpressor man, Tosh demonstrated how, on the last day, in the presence of “The Most High Jah,” oppressors of blacks on earth would face the wrath of providence, running to the rocks “but the rocks will be melting.” A great word user that he was, Tosh had told a 40-000-strong audience that he was not a man of peace as “peace” was “the diploma you get in the cemetery” because on the tombstone, it is written, “Rest in Peace!”

While both ex-friends sang Get up, stand up, a song which the trio of erstwhile Wailers sang individually, they made mockery of Christian and Islamic religion, in both religions’ transference of succor for man to an unseen creator. The song asked man to seek redemption here on earth and proclaim that man was tired of the ism and schism of dying and going to heaven in Jesus name because “the mighty God is a living man,” a reference to Haile Selassie whom Rastafarians worship as God. Tosh’s own version of the song, which though wasn’t as high-tempoed and popular as Bob’s, is however unique for the introduction of a slow tempo into it. Same theme was also in Coming in Hot where Tosh demonstrated the fieriness of his song. Like the gun guitar image of a tough militant that he created, the lyrics of this song compared the ferociousness of the Tosh brand to a gunshot or explosives.

While Tosh was assassinated on September 11, 1987 after he had just returned to Jamaica from a US business trip and was relaxing by watching a TV satellite show at home with his common law live-in-lover, Marlene Brown, Marley had succumbed to cancer. Gunmen, led by Dennis “Leppo” Lobban, one of Tosh’s ‘boys’ whom he sustained as part of the communal Rastafarian injunction of brotherly co-existence. They had stormed his house at Barbican Road residence, St Andrew, Jamaica at about 7.30pm on this day. Within a twinkle of an eye, the gunmen had put a full stop to his 42-years of existence. At first, talks were rife that Marley’s wife, Rita who controlled his estate, had a hand in Tosh’s murder as the original Wailing Wailers friends of Marley made a legal claim to his multi-million dollar Tuff Gong studio on Hope Street in Kingston. This was exacerbated by interviews granted by the lone survivor of the triumvirate, Bunny who accused Rita of being a Jezebel and that Peter was actually sleeping with her while married to Bob.

While Bob Marley’s adaptation of Emperor Haille Selassie’s speech at the OAU in 1978 into a song he entitled War, attempted to rouse blacks from their mental slavery and dependency on the west, Tosh’s own Arise black man conjured the Socratic credo of “Man, know thyself.” It was one of the strongest messages from any musician wherein Tosh spelt the need for the black race to unite and fight for equal rights. Deploying violent imageries, Tosh also predicted that the end of mental slavery was near and attacked those who didn’t see this, stating that “heaven becomes your grave.”

At personal comparative level, this writer has severally claimed that Tosh was a greater talent than Marley. Though many of their endowments verged in each other, the former was far more endowed than the latter. No one can however dispel the fact that the duo contributed immensely to what is today reggae music, as well as their yeoman roles in the deployment of music as a liberation struggle weapon.

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COLUMN

My 61st Birthday Gift to the 17 Southern Governors

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By Dele Momodu

“ As you rightly put it, Buhari has helped to expose the fault lines we have ignored and may unwittingly help the process of the nations that make up this hapless country to emerge.

Britain is one of the most federal countries in the world, but they have modelled a system that allows them to put 4 separate nations forward in the World Cup (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) but they then go to the United Nations as one country, a superpower. It is a good thing for the main 9 to 12 component nations to dissolve into a Commonwealth of Independent States. We will then function as a borderless union of nations but with all the rights of independent states. That way, Arewa Emirates may use their national budget to construct rail to Maradi or even merge with Niger. We can prevent stark illiterates from swamping us in the south as Okada riders or beggars…”
– Femi Babalola, a Pendulum reader

Our dear Governors,

Please, permit me to write you this open letter. You will understand, and probably appreciate my epistle if you’re patient enough to read and digest its content, which I wrote not because of any mischief but out of real patriotism. I needed to state this clearly, and unequivocally, from the outset, because our country has become so divided, and degraded, to the extent that we can no longer engage in simple, decent and straightforward conversations, without someone reading satanic meanings into the motives behind your intervention.

By the grace of almighty God, I will be 61 years old on planet earth tomorrow, Sunday, 16 May 1960. I was born just a few months before Nigeria attained independence. Even if I was unaware of my environment at that stage, I grew up with great expectations, and the hope that Nigeria has the potential of becoming one of the greatest countries in the world. This hope was based on certain critical assessments. Nigerians are greatly blessed and naturally endowed with some of the most brilliant humans and definitely the most fertile lands and diverse mineral resources.

I was born in the ancient city of Ile-Ife and my proximity to the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Africa’s most beautiful campus, afforded me the opportunity of learning literature, linguistics, philosophy, history, sociology, religious studies and so on. I grew up as an idealist having been brought up and indoctrinated in the seminal works of Walter Rodney, Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Nawal El Saadawi, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Paulo Freire and others. Most of the earliest authors I read painted a picture of Africa that was savaged, and ravaged, by the white colonialists who underdeveloped our continent. Little did we envisage that the neo-colonialists, the new Black slave masters would actually act far worse and commit greater atrocities than those who came from far flung places with their ships to ferry us into slavery in their countries. We did not in our wildest imagination envisage that our own leaders will become so bad that our youths and elderly would be forced to voluntarily borrow money, procure visas, buy air tickets, join sea pirates to run into slavery and servitude, uninvited.

You will agree with me, Sirs, that this is the sad but true picture of our situation today. Let me now return closer home. My childhood occurred under the Regional governments in Nigeria. Each Region developed or retrogressed at its own pace. I still wonder what got into the brains of our leaders that they decided to opt for the outlandishly expensive and grandiloquent American system of Democracy which has now forced us to practice capitalism without capital. But I’m not here to bemoan our past but to focus on our future, which is currently threatened from all fronts.

As Femi Babalola noted above, if we were able to manage our differences delicately in the past, President Muhammadu Buhari has finally shattered the facade. And his acolytes have not made matters better. They have been talking big, arrogantly and recklessly, as if Nigerians have no right to criticize, oppose and admonish the President despite his abject cluelessness in matters of managing a multi-ethnic and multi religious country such as ours. Is it not strange and ironic that the ruling party, APC, used that very word, cluelessness, to describe and deride President Goodluck Jonathan, but they’re unwilling to tolerate same today? I had read as a young student that the only thing evil requires to thrive is for good men and women to keep silent. That has been the bane of our political arrangements and experiments. This is why many of us appreciate and applaud your recent meeting in Delta State and what has been tagged “The Asaba Declaration!” Even if it amounts to little or nothing, it is a sign in the right direction. You’ve gained influential admirers in two legal luminaries, Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), both of whom I interviewed on my Leadership series in the last two days.

At a time Nigeria has almost arrived at the periphery of Golgotha, both men still hold on tenaciously to the view that it is not too late to rescue the country. Although, my first special guest this week, Professor Banji Akintoye, vehemently disagrees with them, and is already a leading champion of the agitation for a Yoruba nation, they remain optimistic that we can still move away from the brink. But they left no one in doubt that if members of the political class fail to do the needful urgently and the gaping injustices continue unabated, things might fall apart beyond repair. They are worried at the total confusion and anarchy that will ensue amidst which the political office holders may lose their current positions in a state of emergency.

While commending your intervention, Dr Agbakoba advised that you need not waste time and resources sponsoring any fresh national conference. You can engage your legal advisers to look at the 1999 Constitution and mark out the grey areas and forward to the National Assembly. Mr Falana believes that the conference that was organized under President Jonathan and its outcome has never been touched, so why waste more time and resources. Please, consider the observations of these great Nigerians. Dr Falana was very emphatic that you have the right to control every inch of land space in your states and that the Federal Government cannot challenge you. He said you’re also legally covered, by the principle of self-defence, to defend your people, and no one can challenge you on that also. It is your duty right now and immediate responsibility to safeguard the lives and properties of your people.

What I would like to add is that you should stop waiting for the Federal Government to do the right things. Whether they do or not, you need to think outside the box on how to transform your States and develop the well-being of your people. The biggest problems causing the mayhem in all parts of Nigeria are mass poverty and abject ignorance. You must continue to invest heavily in primary and secondary education and vocational training thereafter. The formative years are very important. It is sad and saddening that most parts of the North have virtually abandoned the Almajiri projects initiated by President Jonathan. Perhaps, the spate of terrorism and banditry would not have become exacerbated.

Each State has what it has pleased God to endow it with, but many have been wasted, underutilised or untapped. All the legal encumbrances should be cleared urgently because there is no basis for the impoverishment of Nigerians with all that we possess, free of charge. Besides, the future of our country is in our talented youths who care very little about the restructuring everyone is hollering about. All they want is the infrastructure and enabling environment put in place to enhance and build on their talents. In this way the States will thrive even more. Therefore, please, worry less about politics and power. Only God can give power, and only He can take it back. No matter how long you stay in power, you must quit one day. No one has taken his political office back home. Therefore, it is not how long you govern but how well.

I’ve been very worried about the almost master-servant relationship that exists between the States and the Federal Government. I believe this is the reason for our slow growth. The Federal Government will continue to disrespect you and behave like a village headmaster if you do not liberate yourselves. While it is good to respect the office of the President and other principal officers of government, you should not be subservient in the process. If Nigeria must survive, it would be on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocity. I salute the courage of a few Governors who have stood up stoutly in the Defence of the fundamental rights of their people.

Finally, you need to reach out urgently and seek the cooperation of your National and State legislators. They have major roles to play in the next few months. If you make the mistakes of worrying more about elections, as Dr Agbakoba noted, there may be no country in respect of which you will conduct the elections. I hope and pray you will give kind considerations to my humble recommendations.

Thank you and warmest regards.

Special Thanks to The Olubadan Of Ibadanland

I recently got a pleasant surprise when I received a letter dated, April 9, 2021, from one of Africa’s most important monarchs. It reads: “My dear Chief, PROVISIONAL OFFER OF HONORARY CHIEFTAINCY TITLE, Royal greetings from His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1, the Olubadan of Ibadanland.

“I am directed to inform you of His Majesty’s approval of the Honorary Chieftaincy title of Onigege Ara of Ibadanland on you. Section 22(2) Cap 28 Laws of Oyo State 2000 empowers His Majesty, the Olubadan to confer both traditional and honorary Chieftaincy titles in Ibadanland on deserving individuals.

“The title Onigege Ara of Ibadanland is going to be conferred on you in appreciation of your creative and journalistic contribution to the development of our society… Please accept the congratulations of His Majesty on your consideration.” The letter was signed by Chief Adeola Oloko, for His Majesty. For those who are wondering, “Onigege Ara” means “the Man with the magic Pen”! It would be difficult to fully express how grateful I am to Baba mi, The Olubadan, and the good people of Ibadanland.

My relationship with Ibadan dates back to 1968 when I spent my holiday with my oldest sibling, Brother Toba Abiodun, who migrated to the US in 1969, and is till there till this day. Ibadan to me was like traveling to London. My brother and his adorable wife lived in Oke-Bola, very close to the Cocoa House, probably the tallest building in West Africa at the time. I will never forget my first visits to Kingsway and Leventis Stores and my encounter with Father Christmas during this holiday.

As I grew up, I became very fond of Ibadan city, arguably the biggest and most populous city In Africa. I read the Poem, Ibadan, by John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo (1935-2020). I read Blackman’s Dilemma by Chief Adeoye Oyebola (1935-2020), who incidentally was the last holder of the honorary Chieftaincy title of Onigege Ara of Ibadanland. I read Ibadan: The Penkelemess Years by Wole Soyinka. I bought so many books from Odusote Bookshops and later at Spectrum Books in Ibadan and was lucky to have known and interacted with many Ibadan icons including Dr Omololu Olunloyo, Alhaji Arisekola Alao, Professor Akinwunmi Isola, The Parakoyi, Chief Bode Akindele, The Agbaoye, Chief Harry Akande, Chief Rasheed Ladoja, Chief Richard Akinjide, Chief Kola Daisi and other notables. My biggest mentor and role model, Chief MKO Abiola, was the Bashorun of Ibadanland and my great benefactor, Dr Mike Adenuga Jr, aka The Spirit of Africa, partly grew up in Ibadan and built a beautiful mansion in Iyaganku. In the past three years, I have also been building my library resort and retirement home in Ibadan, not knowing this big honour was coming my way. I truly appreciate this gesture from The Olubadan.

The first Chieftaincy title to come my way incidentally was conferred on me and my wife. I was made the Onigege Ara of Jogaland and my wife was given the title, Yeye Onigege Ara by The Abepa of Jogaland, Ogun State, Oba Adeyemi Adekeye, nearly two decades ago. By a quirk of fate, the Olubadan is conferring the same title on me. I then bagged The Ogwanusi of Imeri Kingdom in Ondo State from The Onimeri, Oba Babatunde Adeniran. The occasion was so grand, and made even more so, at the instance of Dr Bode Olajumoke. It was graced by the presence of The Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II. This was followed by the conferment of an Igbo title, the Onu na Ekwuru Oha 1 of Etiti in Abia State, by Dr Ngozi Ibekwe. The next Chieftaincy title came from Oba Adedokun Abolarin Aroyinkeye I, The Orangun of Oke-Ila Orangun, Osun State, who honoured my wife and I with the titles of Yeye Basorun and Basorun respectively. I was also “gowned” in faraway Liberia, where I became The Kiazolu of the Grand Cape Mount County, by the Traditional Council of Liberia.

For the sake of completeness, I must mention that I have also been conferred with academic honours. I have so far received two doctorate degrees, honoris causa, one from Houdegbe North American University, in Cotonou, Bénin Republic, and the other from University of Professional Studies Accra, Ghana.

I am truly blessed.

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As Nigeria Unravels, Who Leads The Yoruba?

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By Bolanle Bolawole

Nigeria appears to have turned the corner and her fate no longer rests with those protecting their oil wells or those nostalgic about their Civil War scars or even those hallucinating about 2023. Truth be told, these same people – those bent on protecting their advantage as well as those sentimental about the so-called non-negotiability of Nigeria’s ‘unity’ – are the very people that have brought this country to its present sorry pass. As the bitter truth stares everyone in the face, the time to face reality has come. Whichever choice that is made eventually will depend on the kind of leaders that will be called upon to decide the future of Nigeria and their bargaining power. Being from the South-west, my consideration at the moment is the kind of leaders that will emerge to represent the region. The region must get it right at this very critical juncture or else, the mistakes of the past will be repeated with catastrophic consequences.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo remains one stand out leader that the Yoruba have had. His achievements as premier of the region (1 October, 1954 – 1 October, 1960) commanded the attention and appreciation of the people, thereby cementing Awo’s place in the pantheon of Yoruba gods and goddesses. To date, none has equalled Awo, not to talk of surpassing him. Yet, the Yoruba have had a surfeit of ‘leaders’ since the demise of Awo on May 9, 1987 at 78 years. The Yoruba have produced giants in military uniforms and there have been leaders in business as well. The Yoruba have also produced academic giants that can rub shoulders with the best from any part of the world. Still, the groundswell of opinion is that when it comes to the quality of political leadership that can uplift the Yoruba, the South-west has been most unfortunate with the succeeding generations of leaders after Awo. The farther we moved away from the Awo years, the more, it seems, we have regressed in the quality of leadership available to the region.

The tell-tale signs of degeneration in political leadership were already apparent during the Second Republic, in the days of the UPN when Awo himself was still alive. The long period of military rule from 1966 to 1979 had ruined many of Awo’s legacies, which the UPN governors were unable to reclaim and restore. The time they had was short, though (1979 to 1983) before another military putsch brought another set of wanton troopers to consolidate on the destruction of Awo’s legacies while systematically and deliberately turning the tide against the South as a whole and giving the advantage to the North.

Yakubu Gowon was the chief beneficiary of the counter-coup of July 1966 that killed the then military Head of State, Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, and the Western Region governor, Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, going ahead to subvert the seniority structure in the military and setting the North on its vice-like grip on the military. Every government headed by a Northerner since then has given the advantage to the North and has short-changed the South. In the creation of states; in the number of local governments; in the population figures; in moving the capital from Lagos to Abuja; in the revenue sharing formula; in appointments into sensitive positions; in the siting of critical national infrastructure, more so military installations and institutions, etc, they have one step after another marginalized the South and given the North ascendancy.

Olusegun Obasanjo as military head of state did nothing to redress the imbalance. Instead, he reinforced and accentuated it. Returning as an elected civilian president, Obasanjo performed even more woefully. Just as he handed over his military government to Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (a Fulani), so also did he do as civilian President, abdicating authority to Atiku Abubakar (another Fulani) in his first term in office. Have you come across the post on social media asking: “Who handed over Nigeria to the Fulani”? Goodluck Jonathan can best be described as someone who sleep-walked through his presidency. What advantage did his close to six years in office give his own kinsmen? He could not deliver on the East-West road or the second Niger Bridge; just like Obasanjo neither delivered on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway nor on the road to his Abeokuta hometown!

The South in general has been unfortunate with its leaders! They have been myopic and have demonstrated a warped understanding of the politics of Nigeria. They have supported and promoted the Fulani agenda, enunciated by the Fulani as far back as the early 19th century; despite that the same agenda has gradually reduced them and their people (the South and Middle Belt) to second class citizens in their own country. When TY Danjuma cries Fulanization today, ask him who handed over Nigeria to the Fulani! His roles beginning with July 1966 are in the public domain. When Gowon prays all over the country today, ask him who handed over the country to the Fulani!

But have the South learnt their lessons? Are they now sufficiently apprised of the Fulani agenda that has set this country on fire? Will they unite and stop the Fulani in their tracks? Many have reasoned that the Yoruba must accept the blame for the plague called Muhammadu Buhari. I dare to say, for good reasons! Buhari tried thrice but his fabled 12 million Northern votes could not land him the presidency – until on his fourth attempt when the South-west gave him their votes. So, the South-west, and not the North or Fulani, handed over the country to Buhari – and inadvertently to the Fulani! If we can excuse 2015 as a “mistake”, how about 2019 when Buhari’s hideous agenda was already clearly in the open? So now that the same South-west reels under the weight of Fulani banditry and murderous Fulani herdsmen’s bestiality, we can safely say that we are the architects of our own destruction. Who cobbled together the APC alliance? Whoever takes credit for that must equally accept responsibility for the tragedy of today!

Yet has the Yoruba political leadership not learnt their lessons! Yet have they not retraced their footsteps! Rather, for whatever reasons, they appear stuck with Buhari; like the fleas that follow the corpse to the grave, they seem oblivious of the peril that lies in wait! Are these, then, the same leaders who will represent the Yoruba to renegotiate Nigeria? Leaders whose tongues are tied and who cannot speak up for their people in their hours of need are not those who will speak forthrightly, courageously, and boldly on their behalf on the negotiation table. They lack the guts! They lack sincerity! They lack the confidence! They lack honesty! They lack the Omoluabi ethos of the Yoruba! They lack the commitment! They lack the understanding! They are selfish! They are self-centred! They are corrupt! They represent only their own stomach! They cannot be trusted! They have not sufficiently defended Yoruba interests – and cannot be expected to do so! They are mostly traders, dealers and free wheelers and not leaders cast in Awo’s mode! Like biblical Esau, they will sell not just their own birthright but that of the entire Yoruba nation for a mess of pottage! It is time to begin to ponder seriously on who leads the Yoruba in these dire times!

The Yoruba need leaders who will galvanize them to act and speak as ONE. Unity of purpose and of action is the critical requirement of the moment. Unfortunately, the Yoruba landscape is littered with one-man riot squads who will rather lead in Hell than be a distinguished follower in Heaven. Yet, the time has come for the various Yoruba groups to “come together as one”, if we must quote the musicians of the “We are the world…” fame. For the Yoruba to realise their own “lebensraum” (dream nation/living space), they must begin to act as a nation. Can the Afenifere walk it alone? It cannot! Yes, the Afenifere has history behind it and its leaders have the pedigree but the time has come for it to borrow a leaf from Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika. Afenifere stands in a pole position but must rally the other self-determination groups to speak with one voice. Jethro admonished his son-in-law, Moses: “Thou canst do it alone” Let the Afenifere take heed and act!

In 2019 when various Yoruba self-determination groups converged on Ibadan and chose Prof. Banji Akintoye as “Yoruba Leader” under the auspices of the Yoruba World Congress (YWC), the decision reverberated at home and abroad. The YWC grew in leaps and bounds within a short time. Unfortunately, like Ayi Kwei Armah’s man-child in “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born”, the YWC floundered ever before it gained maturity! Did anyone curse them, as some have suggested? Akintoye moved on to another platform, Ilana Omo Oodua, which is not doing badly, home and abroad, but, I dare to say, Akintoye and Ilana cannot do it alone. Believe you me! There are no ideological differences between Afenifere and Ilana that cannot be sorted out in the interest of the Yoruba nation.

In closing, I commit two Marxist slogans to the Yoruba self-determination groups: The first is “Workers of all countries, unite!” and the second is “Organize!” Let the Yoruba of all countries unite! God emphasized the importance of unity in the biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1-9). It is unity that has served the Fulani well in Nigeria, despite that they are a minority group. Yoruba wisdom says “osusu owo” (bunch of broomsticks) is hard to break.

Then, the Yoruba must organize effectively in the areas of their strength, the first being the Diaspora. Akintoye’s Ilana has done some work in this area but, collectively, we can do far better. Note that it was the Israeli Diaspora, and not the Israelis at home in Palestine, that made the formation of an Israeli state possible. Secondly, when push becomes shoving you need military fire-power. Some deride the Yoruba as cowards but contemporary Nigerian history teaches that the gallant soldiers that gave Nigeria victory in the Civil War of 1967 – 1970 had a full complement of Yoruba officers and men. Are they all sitting down in retirement and folding their arms? They must organise! Our Yoruba fatherland beckons! It is a call to duty!

And, of course, money answereth all things, says the scripture. Money is needed to prosecute any enterprise, the self-determination struggle inclusive! Money says no one should broach any idea when he (money) is not at home! Whatever anyone may say, it was the economic wizardry of Awo that made the prosecution of the civil war possible without the country borrowing a dime! But witness how, under Fulani managers, the country has drowned in indebtedness! The economic wizardry and financial fire-power of the Yoruba must be galvanized for the task ahead.

Finally, organise the army of Yoruba youths doing “twale” and “alright sir” all over the place to become indispensable in the self-determination struggle. They, too, have a critical role to play. It is because of the mad man that may invade from outside that you station your own mad man within. And have we not been invaded by mad men already? Yoruba, UNITE! Yoruba, ORGANISE!!

[email protected] 0705 263 1058

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