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Opinion: An Open Letter To Laolu Akande- Dele Momodu

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By Dele Momodu

My dear Pastor Laolu, let me start by saying I wonder what people eat or drink inside the Aso Rock Villa that makes some of those of your ilk, who we once admired, misbehave the way you did last night. I’ve known you for over two decades as a young, brilliant, respectful and likeable character and a dutiful, urbane journalist. And my affection for you and your good friends, including Adeolu Akande, Wale Adebanwi, Bode Opeseitan, and others, has never waned. When you travelled to America, your spirited journalistic work continued as you churned out good reports, especially in The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria. Anytime I was in the New York area or, indeed, any part of the United States, I kept in touch with you and your dear wife, as regularly as possible. We became a family.

About nine years ago, I called you from Maryland, USA, and told you I was attending the Nigerian Reunion Meet, an annual and biggest gathering of Nigerian youths in the US at any single event, at that time. You said you would like to meet me, and I was quite elated, as I have always been. When you came, we sat down over breakfast and you expressed the difficulties and vagaries of life you faced in America, and I said I understood perfectly well. I had faced similar experience in the United Kingdom during my exile years. So, we were partners-in-suffering. I told you that was why Ovation International was for me a matter of life and death.

On that visit, you expressed interest in becoming the North American Bureau Chief for Ovation International and I was glad to accept your proposal. I told our Editor to liaise with you and I moved on to deal with other issues. You got some events for coverage which we published in the magazine. At some point the Editor complained about the way you handled transactions and so on, but you and I never saw each other again after the day we met, till you got your appointment and returned to Nigeria as the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo’s spokesman. You never handed over to us at Ovation till this day. You simply abandoned a company that provided some modest income for you in America. But we never complained and made excuses for you that this was probably occasioned by the exigencies and circumstances of your appointment. On your return home, there was never the courtesy of “E ku ile…” I’m back home to any of us. Nevertheless, we were happy when your good news reached us.

We met for the first time, after your appointment, at the funeral service for Mama, Chief Mrs Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, and I told you how unfortunate it was for you to be greeting me for the first time since your return to Nigeria. How would you have felt if someone treated you the way you treated us? No worries, I forgave your shortcomings, since none of us is perfect in life.

I have a policy of maintaining some distance from friends in power and accept whatever God has for me in other areas. I had volunteered and supported Major General Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, without being a member of APC. I campaigned to the best of my abilities without expecting anything in return but good governance. I am bemused whenever it is suggested that I have any ulterior motives in this regard. Let me tell you that if I set my heart on it, I would be offered government position of choice, but I prefer my independence and the opportunity to speak with candour even if what I say may be unpleasant to those I am addressing, at that moment.

Very early in the life of the government, I noticed and noted that many things were  going wrong and that we were working against the promises we made prior to the elections. I promptly wrote a memo to the President and was pleasantly surprised when I got an invitation to meet President Muhammadu Buhari. It remains a singular honour and privilege for me as I have a high personal regard and esteem for the President, even if I no longer agree with some of his politics and policies. I was alone with the President for enough time and the camaraderie between us was palpable. Many people, including Ministers, still wonder and ask how I got the President to relax and smile so much. I didn’t go to him for personal reasons but simply took the opportunity to tell him what the people of Nigeria expected of his government, the mistakes the Jonathan government made, and the need to learn from lessons of the past. The President seemed happy that someone was saying it as it should be. I never made any personal request since that was not my mission.

However, things went from bad to worse. Many started lamenting and complaining, including the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari. What made matters worse was the ill-health of the President, but the Vice President, Prof Osinbajo worked assiduously, smartly and loyally, to ensure the government began to give prominence to those matters which had won victory for APC and the Presidential team, for which the Vice President was commended by so many people, including me.

Thereafter, when the President returned and things appeared to slide back to the inglorious state that they were before he left, I wrote several letters to the President offering my 10 kobo advice and still continued to report his activities “formally.” Even long after I gave up on his government ever changing its fumbling and wobbly style, I continued to fulfil all righteousness. I must note that my criticism of the Buhari administration never elicited insults directly from Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, both of who are highly respected and admired professionals, except that some overzealous people who felt the job of journalists is to praise leaders and governments, endlessly did so on their behalf, but without their knowledge at times.

On February 3, 2019, I had sent you a message of congratulations on the miracle of the Vice President and his entire team surviving the helicopter crash and suggested all of you should please see Doctors and you thanked me. “May God continue to protect you and Oga and all as you travel around. That was really shocking…” I prayed. Nothing else was expected of reasonable human beings particularly as I consider the Vice President a dear brother that I will continue to respect.

I have gone through this long preamble to prepare the ground for the shock and shocker I got from you last night. The next time I heard from you was on March 13, 2019, when you said you needed a “right of reply” to the Pendulum column I wrote last week, which was an open letter to your boss, the Vice President, a gentleman that I will continue to hold in high esteem and admiration, no matter the provocation from people like you. I instantly agreed to release that page, as is not only my personal approach, but also the Thisday tradition. I even messaged you, “Pls let me know if you need the entire space…” and you responded “Bob Dee Baba, I told them you will never block a right of reply…even if you give out the whole page. Will revert.” I immediately alerted the Editor, Yemi Adebowale, that Laolu Akande has requested for my page this week, and we both agreed that it should be given to you to respond as you wished. It was obvious from your message that there were some hawks and hounds baying for my blood, but such is life.

Pastor Laolu, as a journalist, I knew you should know about deadlines and respect it. I told you to, please, let us have your rejoinder on Thursday, March 14, 2019, and you said yes, in writing, but you never did. So, I went ahead to write a tribute to our departed colleague, Professor Pius Adesanmi. But, suddenly, you resurfaced at 15:47pm on Friday, March 15, 2019, in one word, “sent,” no apologies, just like that. Still, I immediately checked my mail but did not find your rejoinder. I called and you then sent a WhatsApp version, which I read. I always send virtually everything I write and any rejoinders to my good friend and Lawyer, Prince Adedamola Aderemi, and the only sentence we both singled out, separately, and without any consultation, was where you said “For good measure, Bob Dee, maybe we should just remind our readers that not only are you an active member of opposition, you also retain with top notchers of the PDP significant business relationships.” For us, you were entitled to your opinion and views on all other matters, just as I had expressed my views in my column, but this allegation was patently false.

I couldn’t believe those words emanated from a man who knew me well and knows my disdain for money politics. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not a member of the PDP whether card-carrying or otherwise. I have never attended any of its meetings or those of its members, and I have never been paid by the Party for any kind of work. If, by opposition you mean generally, then of course, I will admit to being a member of the National Conscience Party (NCP). As much as anyone who is my friend, you should understand how opposition politics, including supporting APC, has robbed me of the fabulous “free monies” that often litter the landscape of Nigerian politics. If, that was attractive to me, there was no way I would have ignored PDP to support APC in 2015, and there is no way I would not have continued to support APC, now. I called you and explained to you that your accusation was false and that this sentence should be expunged, and you said yes, you will do so immediately and resend. Just to delete one sentence, Pastor Laolu, I waited from around 17:01 pm till about 20:18, nothing came from you. At 20:21, you fired a message and said “No, I want to make substantial additions sir…that is why it is taking time. Wanted to proof (sic) every claim I make.” And I told you to feel free.

I sent messages to you till 21:28 but got no response, whatsoever, to say whether you still wanted the space or not. The Editor gave me a 10:00 pm deadline and I quickly got the Pius Adesanmi tribute ready for its original space. Unknown to me, you and whoever was misleading you, and goading you on, were very busy cooking more vituperative and irresponsible attacks on my person. You eventually sauntered back at 23:18 pm, for God’s sake, and you expected everyone to wait for you. The Editor had taken the decision to run Adesanmi’s tribute and run your rejoinder fully next week. But you insisted yours would be late by then and you returned my call at 00:02 am and informed me that you had been in touch with the Editor who said it was up to me.

Thereafter, you told me, verbally, that whether we use your rejoinder today or not, you will release it to other media houses and platforms. I then pointed out to you, that your new rejoinder was even far worse than the one I had complained about earlier. Obviously, your fake adviser or informant had convinced you that I was Saraki’s agent and that was eating and heating you up. You screamed Saraki’s name so much that I wondered what had suddenly possessed you. You were dripping with venom and so convinced Saraki was my Lord and saviour. Your previous reasonable and personable mien and disposition had vanished like a mirage. It was like you were pliantly succumbing to some sort of exorcism conducted by a manipulative demon. I promised to respond to this new Rejoinder, and you raised your voice against me that you will continue to respond to me. You asked if I was threatening you and I responded that it was not a threat, but my right to tell you, unequivocally, that I supported Atiku, voluntarily, the same way I supported Buhari without ever being a member of APC. Your voice was so harsh and vociferous that I was alarmed and worried about your personal health and safety, all because of power. You were rude to your older Brother and former boss.

The saddest part of your uniformed, ill-thought and ill-judged piece was when you wrote, in your opening paragraph, that I had dumped Saraki for Atiku. I would have thought you were taught logic in school. If Saraki lost the primaries and I supported Atiku, how did I dump Saraki? If Saraki that you said I dumped was the Director General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign, how can you claim I dumped Saraki for Atiku. So that your paymaster knows, I have never worked in Saraki’s office or been mandated to act for him as a spokesperson or mouthpiece. I simply loved the passion he put into the Buhari campaign in 2015 and the way he prevented Nigeria from becoming a one-party state. My admiration for him has not diminished with time or circumstances since then. That is my view, to which I am entitled. I was the first to salute Saraki’s courage after he conceded defeat, like all democrats do. My advice to Atiku urging him to congratulate President Buhari, notwithstanding his perceived displeasure and disappointment about the conduct and outcome of the elections, was an act of statesmanship. How can you translate my innocent, peaceful advice to mean I dumped Atiku? After I said so, many eminent Nigerians have echoed my sentiments and advised Atiku in exactly the same way and words.

The truth, which you acknowledged in your rejoinder, is that I still complained about the conduct of the elections. It is up to you to support your treatise with any manner of facts and views. The public and I know the truth which may not be palatable for you to hear. My aim is not to demean the victory of APC, but to ensure that lessons are indeed learnt. The same lessons that should have been learnt from 1983!

I pray you get your mind back, like many before you, whenever you return from the gilded cage. By God’s grace, I will be here waiting to receive you with open arms.

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COLUMNISTS

Saraki and the Tragedy of Victory

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www.securenigeria365.com

By Jude Ndukwe

Since the National Assembly elections ended in Kwara on March 9, and the current Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, lost at the polls, those who have lived in mortal fear of one of Nigeria’s finest Senate Presidents ever in history, have not relented in their infantile attacks against a man, who against all odds, wrestled official tyranny to the ground and eventually became one through whom God has preserved what is now our fragile democracy from being turned into a full blown dictatorship.

They have unleashed all manner of media attacks against the one popularly called “Oloye” by his fans, using pliable men who are obviously satisfied with being slaves, even though they are and should be living as freeborn, as long as crumbs fall for them from their slave master’s table.

To prove that Saraki was nothing but only a victim of his own rightful ambition, those who are bitterly persecuting him today under one concocted anti-corruption guise or the other, are merely doing so because they could not stand the audacity of his ambition to be Senate President against the overbearing wishes of the “Bullion Van Hawker of Bourdillon” and his coconspirators in the seat of power.

O, they wailed, they wept, they convulsed in extreme anger and could not believe that Saraki, (who used to be) a member of their party, who also had the legitimate right to be SP, beat them to the game as a master and battle-hardened politician that he is.

From then on, they marked him for destruction but he conquered them all to their dismay. Every trap set against him was neutralised with his soft speaking nature and deft political moves. He navigated their mines expertly, handling the affairs of the National Assembly with so much class that no weapon fashioned against him in the last four years thereabout prospered.

Despite being distracted with spurious court cases, phantom corruption allegations, none of which could be proven in court till tomorrow, official harassment, intimidation and desecration extending to the national assembly as an institution just to weaken and humiliate him, Saraki still kept the senate together, and will be stepping down in great glory as the “Senate President no one could remove”.

No matter what anybody says, the fact remains that Saraki will be leaving the senate as Senate President on his own terms.

The ignominy which his traducers tried their best to rub him in did not work. He was one Senate President who walked through the valleys of the shadow of death and feared no evil, for, indeed, God was and is obviously still with him.

He was professional in his approach to duty that not even for once did he allow his persecution by the executive negatively affect his sense of patriotism in the discharge of his duties.

When passage of budgets has been delayed, it was because the executive either padded the budget with mind boggling figures or that the ministries and MDAs were nowhere to be found to defend their estimates. Because they have a leader who is either bereft of ideas of how the legislature works or he still sees himself as a military dictator who must not be subjected to another institution as president, they expect the national assembly to just pass the budget “as is”. Saraki frustrated their plans to turn the national assembly to just another appendage of the executive arm, or, into a mere rubber stamp.

The Senate under him have enacted laws and passed Bills that have far reaching positive effects on our polity.

Saraki might not have won his last election, he is a victor anyway. No man passes through what Saraki was subjected to by members of the executive, survives and still see himself as a loser!

Sadly, the real losers are those who won elections in Kwara at Saraki’s expense but lost their soul and beholden to tyranny in the process.

With the incessant killings, rise in terrorism, hardship, continued displacement of communities by criminal bands, extra judicial killings by security forces, perpetually rising inflation, job losses in millions, Nigeria becoming the poverty capital of the world etc, to the extent that even the wife of the president had to, in order to exonerate her husband from the mess our nation has become under Buhari, confess that it was no longer her husband that was in charge but about three others, these hack writers see nothing in any of the nation’s misfortunes to address but their headache is a Saraki they love to hate because he beat them to their own game and that of their masters to become the Senate President.

This is where victory is tragic, for those who celebrate the ephemeral triumph of gross incompetence, ineptitude and the embarrassment our nation has become since 2015, by chasing shadows and leaving substance behind just because, to them, the country may collapse as long as they keep getting peanuts for attacking Saraki, it is most unfortunate and the misfortunes of a degraded nation is their lot!

As for Saraki, he has fought the good fight of faith. Yes, faith, because faith demands that we must stand up to tyranny even if just to prick the conscience of the tyrant and constantly remind him and his foot soldiers that all faiths abhor the vindictive imprisonment of citizens for their political and or religious beliefs as we currently have today. He can go home with pride knowing full well that when our nation was at its lowest ebb, post civil war era, he stood up to be counted among the few who used their status and political office to engage tyranny and dictatorship in a head on collision and left the senate unscathed. He is, by all standards, a fulfilled man, a winner!

jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; @stjudendukwe

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COLUMNISTS

Spectrum: Tragedy of too many lives

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By Anikulapo Macmillan

Sometime, death comes like a puritanical to us when we hear the news of our beloved passage. It is painful to lose family in a bizarre. And it is a bad feeling when the shock of such an untimely death comes to us as misfortune. So, an English poet, Robert Frost, wrote vividly in his poetry: ‘’ and be one traveller/ long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could/ to where it bent in the undergrowth’’
It was an event of grief when the world mourned the ill-fated airplane victims in Ethiopia. I was perplexed about the lives of those victims. And it was later in the evening a friend dropped; what I called a parcel of sadden news on my Whatapp. When I saw what he wrote; I was devastated. It was like a joke not until I saw the news spreading like a fume on twitter. That one of our columnist cum essayist had gone too soon.
Indeed the tragic news was the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed six minute after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all aboard, who were 157 people and Prof. Pius Adesanmi was visited by death. It is saddened to the world that we don’t pay attention to death than to giving priorities to imperfectness because this particular Boeing 737 Max 8 has once crashed six month ago.
So, unfortunate, that we lost two Nigerians, we lost two Irokos; one as an academia and the other one as a diplomat. I met Prof Adesanmi at the AKE Art Book Festival in 2015. His intelligence was overwhelming. He spoke with too much tenacity. Since then I have been following his writing and wanting to read his collection of essays title: Naija no dey carry last.
Well, death has made March to become significant. It has made the month to become a symphony to T.S Eliot’s poem, the wasteland. That March is now the cruellest month, breeding death out of land like what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand when unknown gunman killed 50 Muslims in their mosques.
When I heard this particular news on Friday and I saw the footage, I thought, it was scripted like grand theft auto game. Hence, I didn’t believe at first; and later I began to see trending news on twitter. This shows that our world is molested by racial people. Those who believe that killing is the best way to live a good life are mistakenly wrong. They have forgotten that it is not humanity.
However, let me say, that any kind of incessant killings like this or the one that happens in Kaduna over the weekend needs to be addressed not only by the government but by the whole world.
It is pertinent; that by now, the perpetrators of the New Zealand massacre have not been arrested. Are we saying no CCTV cameras in those mosques? Are they not human beings or do they come with a mask? Thank God for the Nigerian Iman, Lateef Alabi who made us to believe that the news was indeed truth.
Therefore, it is probably a theory of ignorance, when the police by now can’t identify the culprits. Yet, the world is still not finding ways to stop all kind of carnage; that is also an albatross to security policies. Well, this is not the fight of New Zealand alone because those who were killed have families. And the trauma could cause fratricidal or matricidal.
Maybe what an Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci said: ‘’ to tell the truth is revolutionary’’ which means, the United Nation needs to watch out for killings like this. It is awful. That people life does not mean anything anymore.
Well, in this same part of the world, it is still disparagingly wrong, that after our general election, what we should have next is what I called: blood relative in my poetry. Kaduna has become a death trap in our society. It has become a place where we mourn of envy and religion catastrophe.
Death even came like tidal wave with a tremulous wailing from residents and onlookers when a building collapsed in, Ita Faji area of Lagos Island. School pupils are mostly victims of the collapsed building. While some die, and few that survived where at the state hospital. Hence, it is so painstaking that the Lagos government and the ministry of housing are ignorantly not performing their functions. This was horrific event as many dead bodies were recovered.
So, the federal government needs to understand that causalities like this are not expected to happen in a society like Lagos. However, those pupils now have trauma of such a malign that bestow them. And the Lagos state government responsibility is to start a policy on building because the lives of those who reside in those buildings are part of the electorate.
In this vein, such a death replenished the atmosphere in the eastern Zimbabwe, killing at least 24 people. When I saw this news, I began to wonder why these tragedies come in March. Is it that the affected nations do not control their societal values? Meanwhile, the case of cyclone, In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is that the two countries have not properly fund their weather science appropriately.
Perhaps, death that comes in March is a tragedy to humanity. It is also a worry to country like ours that we don’t know how to control our citizens and their heritage. Because I know, if our airlines are good enough, Prof. Adesanmi would have flown ours or if our country is good enough, Iman. Lateef Alabi would have stayed back than to face the gossamer of death in New Zealand.
We need to bring the country we want together and to make conversation because it is paramount to have a good system than to have death toil every month when citizens die like prey. Apparently, I think it is time we needed to provide security for our individualism— not to witness scourge.
A nation that refuses to understand the people’s welfare is already in precipice and it is a disgrace for Nigeria to fail even though her politicians are into the epiphany of misconception and all sort of imperial modulation. Still like theme of Jack London’s short story, ‘’to build a fire’’. We need not to build a fire but we need to build a monument for our country.

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COLUMNISTS

Spectrum: Tragedy of too many lives

Published

on

 

Anikulapo Macmillan

Sometime, death comes like a puritanical to us when we hear the news of our beloved passage. It is painful to lose family in a bizarre. And it is a bad feeling when the shock of such an untimely death comes to us as misfortune.  So, an English poet, Robert Frost, wrote vividly in his poetry: ‘’ and be one traveller/ long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could/ to where it bent in the undergrowth’’

It was an event of grief when the world mourned the ill-fated airplane victims in Ethiopia. I was perplexed about the lives of those victims. And it was later in the evening a friend dropped; what I called a parcel of sadden news on my Whatapp. When I saw what he wrote; I was devastated. It was like a joke not until I saw the news spreading like a fume on twitter. That one of our columnist cum essayist had gone too soon.

Indeed the tragic news was the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed six minute after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all aboard, who were 157 people and Prof. Pius Adesanmi was visited by death. It is saddened to the world that we don’t pay attention to death than to giving priorities to imperfectness because this particular Boeing 737 Max 8 has once crashed six month ago.

So, unfortunate, that we lost two Nigerians, we lost two Irokos; one as an academia and the other one as a diplomat. I met Prof Adesanmi at the AKE Art Book Festival in 2015. His intelligence was overwhelming. He spoke with too much tenacity. Since then I have been following his writing and wanting to read his collection of essays title: Naija no dey carry last.

Well, death has made March to become significant. It has made the month to become a symphony to T.S Eliot’s poem, the wasteland. That March is now the cruellest month, breeding death out of land like what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand when unknown gunman killed 50 Muslims in their mosques.

When I heard this particular news on Friday and I saw the footage, I thought, it was scripted like grand theft auto game. Hence, I didn’t believe at first; and later I began to see trending news on twitter. This shows that our world is molested by racial people. Those who believe that killing is the best way to live a good life are mistakenly wrong. They have forgotten that it is not humanity.

However, let me say, that any kind of incessant killings like this or the one that happens in Kaduna over the weekend needs to be addressed not only by the government but by the whole world.

It is pertinent; that by now, the perpetrators of the New Zealand massacre have not been arrested. Are we saying no CCTV cameras in those mosques?  Are they not human beings or do they come with a mask?  Thank God for the Nigerian Iman, Lateef Alabi who made us to believe that the news was indeed truth.

Therefore, it is probably a theory of ignorance, when the police by now can’t identify the culprits. Yet, the world is still not finding ways to stop all kind of carnage; that is also an albatross to security policies. Well, this is not the fight of New Zealand alone because those who were killed have families. And the trauma could cause fratricidal or matricidal.

Maybe what an Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci said: ‘’ to tell the truth is revolutionary’’ which means, the United Nation needs to watch out for killings like this. It is awful. That people life does not mean anything anymore.

Well, in this same part of the world, it is still disparagingly wrong, that after our general election, what we should have next is what I called: blood relative in my poetry. Kaduna has become a death trap in our society. It has become a place where we mourn of envy and religion catastrophe.

Death even came like tidal wave with a tremulous wailing from residents and onlookers when a building collapsed in, Ita Faji area of Lagos Island. School pupils are mostly victims of the collapsed building. While some die, and few that survived where at the state hospital. Hence, it is so painstaking that the Lagos government and the ministry of housing are ignorantly not performing their functions. This was horrific event as many dead bodies were recovered.

So, the federal government needs to understand that causalities like this are not expected to happen in a society like Lagos. However, those pupils now have trauma of such a malign that bestow them. And the Lagos state government responsibility is to start a policy on building because the lives of those who reside in those buildings are part of the electorate.

In this vein, such a death replenished the atmosphere in the eastern Zimbabwe, killing at least 24 people. When I saw this news, I began to wonder why these tragedies come in March. Is it that the affected nations do not control their societal values? Meanwhile, the case of cyclone, In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is that the two countries have not properly fund their weather science appropriately.

Perhaps, death that comes in March is a tragedy to humanity. It is also a worry to country like ours that we don’t know how to control our citizens and their heritage. Because I know, if our airlines are good enough, Prof. Adesanmi would have flown ours or if our country is good enough, Iman. Lateef Alabi would have stayed back than to face the gossamer of death in New Zealand.

We need to bring the country we want together and to make conversation because it is paramount to have a good system than to have death toil every month when citizens die like prey. Apparently, I think it is time we needed to provide security for our individualism— not to witness scourge.

A nation that refuses to understand the people’s welfare is already in precipice and it is a disgrace for Nigeria to fail even though her politicians are into the epiphany of misconception and all sort of imperial modulation. Still like theme of Jack London’s short story, ‘’to build a fire’’. We need not to build a fire but we need to build a monument for our country.

 

@Babatunde_Mac

+2348076926109 or +2348090917041

 

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