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Pendulum: Tribute to Pius Adesanmi

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By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, it is very difficult to write this tribute to a man one knew as a friend, colleague and brother, Professor Pius Adesanmi. Let me start from the end. Last Sunday started for me like every other Sunday, a day for relaxation. My son had driven to Oxford to pick me and take me home in London. The drive from Oxford on the Motorway was smooth, with little traffic here and there particularly when we got to London because as is typical of most roads in the capital, they are perpetually undergoing some repair or another at the weekends.
On getting home, I opted for a quick Nigerian lunch, something which is a rarity in Oxford and which I had therefore missed during my weekly stint in Oxford. Thereafter, I opened my phone to navigate through my social media platforms as is my habit. Suddenly, a satanic news item jumped at me. An Ethiopian airlines plane was reported to have crashed shortly after take-off. I was stunned. I have never liked such news, being a frequent flyer myself. I said the usual selfish prayer: “may we not have any of our family members or friends on it.” But truth was, that route, from Addis Ababa to Nairobi is quite popular for Nigerians. The headquarters of the African Union is in Addis Ababa and international agencies dot the landscape of Kenya which is also renowned for its amazing tourist attractions.  The allure for fun-loving and adventurous Nigerians is best imagined. My mind continued to process the news and I twitted a prayer for the casualties and offered my condolences to their bereaved families.
I was still wondering what might have caused this unfortunate crash when my eyes roamed to a pending direct message on Twitter from a lawyer, writer and brother, Tade Ipadeola: “Egbon, something ghastly has happened. We have to believe Pius Adesanmi was on the crashed Ethiopian airliner. Travelling with his Canadian passport.” I screamed, “no way!” I immediate called Mr Ipadeola in Nigeria and he reiterated his earlier message.
I started working the phones and soon stumbled on another bad news regarding another distinguished Nigerian on the ill-fated flight, written anonymously by God knows who: “Just got this: I’ve just been informed now that we lost one of our own. A high-profile Nigerian, Amb. Abiodun Bashua in that crash. Those serving in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will know him. He was the former UN and AU Deputy Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Sudan. A complete gentleman. May God rest his soul.” What a terrible day this is turning out to be, I soliloquised. Ambassador Bashua is a brother -in-law to Bose and Gboyega Adegbenro, and I could therefore share in their pain and sorrow because of my friend and brother, Prince Damola Aderemi, whose mother, Funlayo Adegbenro, is the matriarch of the Adegbenro family.
As for Pius, who I used to call Kofeso, as a Yoruba corruption of the word ‘Professor’, I eventually confirmed that he had indeed perished along with Ambassador Bashua and 155 other innocent souls on that doomed Flight ET302. I knew his death would reverberate to far-flung places across the oceans because of his towering accomplishments in academia and the literary world. Kofeso, in his inimitable, simple but flowing literary style had written himself into the hearts of too many fans globally. At under 50 years of age (Pius had only recently celebrated his 47th birthday on 27 February), he seems to have achieved what most people wouldn’t have achieved at the age of 80 and beyond. I had become acquainted with him through his compelling essays and articles before we met physically. And ours was love at first sight, based on mutual respect and admiration.
My colleague and brother, Segun Adeniyi had called me in Accra, Ghana, one afternoon from Abuja, Nigeria. After our exchange of usual pleasantries and banter, Segun informed me that his close friend, Pius Adesanmi, would like to have my numbers. I gave him my consent immediately. Who wouldn’t? I was a big fan of his writing prowess, as well as his political interventions, even if we disagreed from time to time on various issues. I soon received a call from Kofeso and he told me he was coming to spend some time teaching at the University of Ghana in Legon. I told him to alert me once he arrived and settled down, and he did. I personally drove to pick him from Legon to my home where we had so much fun devouring our bowls of pounded yam and egusi soup. We ate as voraciously as we chatted moving back and forth from mundane to serious issues. We got on so well, it was as if we had known each other forever. I told him that for as long as he was in Ghana, he had unfettered access to my chefs, whether I was home or not. He was such a friendly man and he would sometimes ask if he could invite his friends along and of course this was fine by me.  His friends straddled society and was a reflection of the kind of persona that Kofeso had. Needless to say, we all bonded as one blood.
Months later, Kofeso returned to his base in Canada but we kept in touch. I followed him on social media, and I admired his passion and love for our motherland Nigeria, a passion we shared, albeit with different approaches.
Let me fast forward a bit. Kofeso was involved in a ghastly fatal motor accident on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway last year. He was lucky to escape with his life from what I later learnt. Somehow, I missed the news but stumbled on it on September 7, 2018, and I quickly sent him a WhatsApp message: “My dear Brother, this is Dele Momodu. I don’t know how the story of your accident escaped me. Just discussing now with Segun. May God heal you totally. I will keep trying till I get you.”
Kofeso responded about six hours later. I didn’t realise the accident was worse than I had imagined. “Great to hear from you my dear Brother Bob Dee. It was serious o. 2 months later I’m still in physio and recovering from injuries. 2 people died. I am the only survivor.” I was shocked to my bones. “Lord have mercy… May their souls rest in peace.” I wrote. How could I have envisaged that that fiendish accident was only a dress rehearsal?
Surprisingly, barely 24 hours later, Kofeso and I exchanged yet another WhatsApp conversation, after he read my Pendulum column titled “Are Nigerian Youths Truly Ready to Run or Just Ranting?” I was particularly delighted by his beautiful comment: “Bob Dee, this tour de force has arrived in time for inclusion in my syllabus on youth and politics in Africa.” I thanked him profusely.
Our interactions continued unabated, and on January 24, 2019, I contacted him to be one of the three referees I needed for my application to Oxford University, the others being my former teacher at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Professor Chidi Amuta, and my former boss at Weekend Concord, Mr Mike Awoyinfa. As always, as soon as he read my message, he responded: “Apologies Bob Dee, I’ve just seen this. I’m in a seminar. Can I call you in an hour?” I said ok. He requested for my current cv and asked if there was anything in particular I wanted him to write. I simply replied: “Pls write from the heart. You know I’m a great fan of your style.”
 I pestered him a bit about the deadline for the submission of the referee’s letter. At a stage, he phoned and said “Bob Dee, you should know I can never let you down” and I was deeply touched by his love. It was such a great honour to have him write a reference on my behalf as an impartial and independent assessor of the quality of my essays and work. He finally completed the reference and sent it off. True to his word, I subsequently got confirmation from Oxford that all my referees met the strict deadline, and I was very grateful to them all including Kofeso, who had obviously been very busy and distracted at that time.
My last WhatsApp interaction with Kofeso was on February 5, 2019, after what seemed an altercation between us on Twitter. Some young guys had suggested that Pius Adesanmi had attacked me in a comment, which I didn’t consider as a big deal, but Kofeso was visibly worried to the extent that he privately fired some quick clarification to me: “Bob Dee, I can’t believe this. I just got on Twitter now and noticed that a comment I made pointing out that CNN would always badmouth China from an American perspective was misread by so many. I hope you got my drift o. What is wrong with all these Twitter kids and reading comprehension?”
S
ince I didn’t feel his tweet was anything negative, in the first instance, I just told him: “Nothing at all KOFESO. We live in the age of ignorance and intolerance.” But Kofeso was not yet done, and he raged on: “I am so angry. How could anybody think it was u I was attacking? E GBA mi o. These kids can’t read!!” Kofeso appeared like a man who had a deadline to meet, and he didn’t want our relationship destroyed by any mischief-maker. I told him not to worry because, sincerely speaking, I didn’t take it to heart, in any way, and I had not even considered that I might be the one he was addressing in his tweet, which as he explained was not the case in any event. “My own KOFESO, these young guys don’t know our relationship. Check my response pls.” That was my final response to him on WhatsApp. It never occurred to me that it would be the last.
But I’m glad we managed to speak before his unfortunate departure on the tragic flight. Kofeso had called me weeks back to ask if I would be in Nairobi, Kenya, this week. He knew I travelled a bit within the East African region and was hoping we could meet in Nairobi where he was attending a conference. I said I would be in England most of this week before travelling to Lagos for a youth empowerment program. It was our last verbal discussion. It still plays on in my head like a broken record because this was a most unassuming intellectual and literary giant as his writings demonstrate.
Death took away one of Africa’s best and brightest. Like too many people have openly attested to, it would be difficult, if not impossible to replace Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi. He came, he saw, he conquered, within a short space of time. Kofeso flew away on the wings of time into eternity and the sure hands and embrace of the Lord, when he finished his assignment on earth, even as we, the lovers and admirers of his writing and and some of his ideals, still feel that we needed him more. Such is the unchallengeable way of almighty God that we must give thanks for his short but monumental life. A life in which he gave of his knowledge and wit to enrich our space and thoughts. Kofeso, we thank and honour you today and always. You are a pious STAR!
My sincere condolences to his entire family particularly his mum, wife and children. May his beautiful soul rest in perfect peace.
Adieu, Kofeso. Sun re o!
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COLUMNISTS

Leah Sharibu: The Prisoner of Conscience

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Anikulapo Macmillan

 

Her story has been like the story of Daniel in the den of terror. In the face of captivity her captors kept her just because she refused to call another faith. She is the mercurial of her own conscience. One of the first in the history that never denies her religion and She is Leah; but powerful than her co-mate in the scripture.

Leah Sharibu is our daughter. One of the girls that have brought our country to her kneels. Not just a martyr of faith but a girl whose spirit has driven us all to her struggle since she was abducted in Dapchi. And that abduction was historic.

It is seemingly a thought of a cohesive expression to the government. I see her than the way Nigerians see her. She is the girl that has made us to understand that religion is fate and faith is faith— in time of obstacle. Someone who doesn’t compromise her principle rather beseech in the spirit of prayer. That voice of Leah begins to come to us than it echoes to her captors. Meanwhile, she is supposed to be in school.

While some of her colleagues are intensely studying for the school certificate exam but she is here dying to be rescued. And Prof. Wole Soyinka has compared her to the late apartheid fighter, Nelson Mandela. In Soyinka’s poem titled: ‘’ Mandela’s Earth’’ the poem has a conjectural meaning that Mandela reverted to those who jailed him. ‘’ NO! He said’’

These particular words came out to Leah Sharibu as well. When she said— No! And perhaps in Wole Soyinka’s poem: ‘’ I am the rock, this Island. I toiled’’ this is what our own Leah stands for. However, the poem says: ‘’ in and out of time wrap, I am that rock/ in the black hole of the sky’’ truly, Sharibu has become the rock of human.

She has made us to understand that her release is important to us. That her struggle is to end bigotry and fanaticism in our country and perhaps to let everybody has the right to believe in faith. To have been in captivity for this time is terribly bad for a sixteen years old girl in her own country.

Recently, she celebrated her sixteen years birthday. In the den of terror, just because she is not ready to deny her own faith— meanwhile, if Jesus were to be alive he would have seen that Leah Sharibu loves him than her own life. And this means a lot for sacrifice. To a girl who has hope for her beloved country.

Probably, had it been her mother knew that such would happen, she would have been like the character in Toni Morrison’s novel: ‘’ Beloved’’ where the mother kills her own daughter because she doesn’t want her to face racism. Is this not a religion manhunt? — For Leah’s mother to cry helplessly for her beloved daughter to be released.

And I believed that the day she was abducted in her school with her other abductors, she would have recited the national anthem and pledge. That she was serving Nigeria with all her strength and now; is Nigeria serving her back? Or has the government forgotten that Leah is a citizen?

This means her life matters to every single Nigeria. And it is the duty of President Buhari to let her come back to her parent. Still, her life is not enmeshed, with wrong faith rather she has been the quintessential girl that knows how to identify her own right. Her life means a lot to all of us. Not that she is just a mere girl child, she is our daughter.

Therefore, it is the ability of the government to provide for her needs in captivity. To rescue her is even the major concern of all Nigerians. What is the point to the military if she can’t be rescued? Is it that our military are scared to fight the insurgency? All I know is that if Leah Sharibu is not being rescued that means her parent will lose hope in Buhari’s Administration.

However, she is the prisoner of conscience. She is the prisoner that has not failed to know her God.  She has indeed believed in her faith like one of the character in James Joyce’s short story, Dubliners. And, still her colleagues were released but she was held back because she refused to deny her faith. This is a simple meaning of a cultured girl. And she strongly believes in the article of faith.

Leah is an affable girl that knows that her right is to be freed from the thraldom of dooms. In a society of ours, because what she has done do not deserve this kind of maltreatment she is receiving. If truly, we have a government that understands the people— the Leah Sharibu of our time won’t spend these hours and days in captivity.

To make the system function, let us all know that, what happens to Leah Sharibu, could affect anybody. And prior to her abduction, we knew the Chibok girls’ story. Yet, the government has not found measure to liaise with the insurgent. And what I expect the government should have done is to take the military serious than ever. And the military needs to deploy tactics and strategy because this is like a fratricide.

For every life, it matters to us that, we should never forget to know that Leah Sharibu is still a piquant subject that can never be forgotten. Thus, her abduction is cumbersome. Perhaps, I expect the government to know that Nigerians want Leah Sharibu alive.

Her parent has cried for too long; to the extent that, they talked like the English poet, Andrew Marvel, in his poem: To His Coy Mistress, which says: ‘’Had we but world enough and time/ this coyness, lady, were no crime.’’ With truism, she has no crime. But, if Buhari forgets to do the needful, Leah Sharibu’s spirit won’t make Nigeria rest just because she is innocent.

Let us know that a sixteen years old girl has decided to hold on to her faith; and this makes her to be the prisoner of conscience. Even with a conscience heart, we pray for release.

@Babatunde_Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COLUMNISTS

EXPERTS UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

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Information Technology (IT) has been identified as a vital element to achieve maximum productivity, efficient and effective service delivery, with faster communication in Public Financial Management (PFM).

The Head, Management Information Unit, of the Office of Accountant General/State Treasury in Ogun State, Mr. Abdulfattah Odusanya stated this while presenting a paper at a 2-day Training on Public Financial Management held at Itori in Ewekoro Local Government Area of the State.

The programme was organized by the Ogun State Government (OGSG) through its Project Support Unit, Ministry of Budget and Planning, in collaboration with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President (OSSAP) on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), for Financial Managers in selected Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as those in Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Odusanya, while speaking on a paper titled “Information Technology: An Enhancement to Public Financial Management” said IT is a network of networks that has brought unprecedented change and redefined methods of communication, work, study, education, interaction, health, entertainment and commerce across the globe.

“Investment in IT system and infrastructure has become a key element in productivity and effective Public Financial Management.  Increased investment in IT-Capital has accelerated growth and development”, he said.

Speaking further on PFM enhancement through IT in Ogun State, Odusanya suggested integration of the State payroll with, Pension system for seamless transfer of retiring employee information, Biometric Time and Attendance Management software, seamless Online payment solution for salaries, pensions and vendors payments, all electronic revenue collection platforms for on-line real time monitoring and comprehensive reporting in the Treasury departments among others.

In her closing remark, the Director of Planning in the Ministry and the State Focal Person, Mrs. Yetunde Olatubosun urged participants to ensure that the knowledge gained from the training reflected in their professional conducts.

In their separate responses, the Head of Account Unit, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Mr. Adewale Adesanya and the Treasurer, Ifo LGA, Mrs. Hassan Enitan, described the training as impactful, assuring that knowledge acquired would enhance their performances as financial managers in the State and also enable them operate in line with best global practices.

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COLUMNISTS

Nigerian Pastors and Private Jets: The Future of the Gospel

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By Adebayo Raphael
As is often the case in Nigeria, each week has its own peculiar national issue around which the public discourse for the week is formed. And, this week has not been any different, specifically because, once again – like many times in the past – the issue of Internet Fraud in Nigeria reappears on the desk of public discourse. The argument had always been about whether Internet Fraud is right or wrong. But this time, it was in reaction to a public statement by a budding musician who said Internet Fraud in Nigeria is what’s keeping Nigeria’s economy afloat.
While I am unopposed to the fact that there is no justification for whatsoever crime a person commits, and one deemed blameworthy of any type of crime must be punished in accordance with the law, I am ideologically and practically inclined to believe, vehemently, that Internet Fraud is not the main problem in our society, but a symptom of a bigger problem which is the erasure of our value system.
Beyond this, I am dissatisfied by how the frenzied reactions to the ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ discourse has somewhat rendered inconspicuous, another issue of note concerning the General Overseer of the Omega Fire Ministries, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, who is said to have purchased a new private jet, joining a disconcerting list of other high-taste pastors like Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Bible Church; Prophet T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations; Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (former president of Christian Association of Nigeria); Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and others in their vainglorious gusto for luxury.
Before I proceed, however, I must establish that the urge to write this piece was specifically inflamed by the manner in which those who are called ‘Servants of God,’ ‘Messengers of God,’ ‘Men of God’ and others who ceremoniously answer such names, have recently developed a repugnant penchant for luxury and wealth, at the expense of their religious congregations. This costly penchant for opulence among Pastors, or leaders of different churches – which strikes one as though the purpose for which Christianity has become a widely-accepted religion is being turned upside down and sacrificed on the altar of fanfaronade and presumptuousness – indicates a very disturbing trend that must be nipped in the bud before it transmogrifies into a noxious epidemic, lest the entire Christian world and our dear nation be consumed by it.
I must also establish, that this piece has been written in a comparative manner, specifically drawing comparisons between Pastors and Elected Public Officials. This is so, because, there are some basic similarities between Pastors and Elected Officials – with some peculiar traits in the Nigerian context of the similarities – which makes them almost identical. For, on the one hand, the Pastors and Elected Officials benefit from the right of citizens to make choices. And, on the other hand, the success or failure of their respective endeavours, will be largely determined by the level of acceptability of their actions, by the people whose choices made them.
While, of course, the Elected Officials are easily grilled and excoriated by their constituents and the citizens at large; the Pastors enjoy a glorified system of deification, which makes them almost totally immune from questioning. In addition, just as elected officials are immune from prosecution during their time in public office; the pastors, too, enjoy different types of immunity from both the government and their ardent followers. However, an equally shared trait between the Pastors and Elected Officials, is their unabashed tendency to be unaccountable to the people whose mandate enabled them to be leaders.
To be clear, I admit that the traits ascribed to pastors above are equally shared by leaders of other religious groups. Nonetheless, I have chosen to leave out their names because the matter at hand is primarily about the Pastors. And, in all fairness, we can conveniently exclude leaders of other religious groups from matters of luxurious cravings because there is hardly any evidence of these leaders engaging in such wanton promiscuity. To avoid all doubts, I must warn that it would be a foolish thing to do; to compare these Pastors and their voracious tastes for luxury, with individuals who hold no elective positions or religious leadership positions.
Having established the aforementioned, I will proceed with a few points:
Firstly, it is no longer news that Nigeria; the country with the highest Christian population in Africa, is the Extreme Poverty Capital of the world – where more than 80Million of her citizens live in abject penury and below one dollar per day. Among the 80Million living in abject penury, at least, half of them (about 40Million) are Christians. Of this half, at least 50% of them are compelled by the damning messages of their Pastors and ‘Spiritual Leaders’ in their respective churches; to pay tithes, offerings, and other such monies weekly. And, despite the fact that the majority of their congregations live in penury, these pastors still exact tithes and other monetary commitments from them. These tithes and offerings, and other monetary commitments from Church members are monies for the Church – not monies for Pastors. However, these monies are susceptible to abuse because there is no established system of accountability to the congregation. To be clear, just as Elected Officials are accountable to the people, Pastors (and religious leaders in general) ought to be accountable to their congregations. The absence of a system of accountability makes abuse the norm and a luxurious life for Pastors its inevitable concomitant.
Secondly, I must mention that for as long as Pastors remain ‘messengers’ of the Gospel – as they would have us believe, they have absolutely no need to acquire private jets – not at this time – not in today’s Nigeria. Also, Biblically and morally, it is incontestably wrong, for Pastors to own properties as expensive as Private Jets or its equivalence, and quirkily defend such impropriety as a necessity in the propagation of the Gospel. For it is too much luxury, for Pastors to own luxurious cars, mansions and so on, in proportions only similar to a swarm of bees, while their congregations suffer in penury.
During his days, the Bible did not record Jesus as one with wanton desires for the acquisition of luxury and wealth. In fact, Biblical records show that he traversed many places mostly on foot – covering about 3000 miles during his missionary adventures. Even specific parts of the Bible like Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:33; Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35 and so on, enjoins Christians on how to manage personal and collective properties. It is, therefore, inexcusable, that in this day and age of widely affordable mediums of transportation and communication, those who traverse the face of the earth supposedly continuing the work of Jesus, are given to needless flamboyance and showiness, with a special knack for joining the propertied class, while their congregations are mostly urged to live modestly and cast their thoughts away from the things of the world.
Even morally, it is unthinkable, that leaders who lead many congregations and benefit from their hard-earned weekly donations, would consider the acquisition of Private Jets and other luxurious properties to be more important than the elevation of those congregations from abject penury. And, to be precise, what I mean by ‘elevation’ is the existence of deliberate and effective programs designed to uplift their congregations from penury – not tokenism in the form of occasional reach-out where people are given devotional materials and a handful of food to last barely a week.
In comparison with the Elected Officials, many of these Pastors are no different. In fact, one can easily conclude that they share the same modus operandi as far as the management of resources is concerned. For most elected officials in Nigeria are also given to vainglory and the acquisition of luxurious properties, depriving their constituents and citizens the comfort and good life they deserve.
Apparently, the aspirations of Nigeria’s Elected Officials are now similar to the aspirations of Nigerian Pastors: They all aspire to travel in luxurious comfort, live in luxurious mansions, drive luxurious cars, acquire luxurious properties and probably even die a luxurious death. They would rather be surrounded by bootlickers than be surrounded by frank and honest advisers. They consider their privileged positions as empires that must be protected by all means necessary and handed over to their offsprings. They are basically self-driven, not service-driven.
Thirdly, we must carefully observe how anomalies percolate through the length and breadth of different societies before becoming the norm: wherein it begins among a clique, it subsequently spreads to a larger group, and eventually becomes the sole aspiration of the whole society. Presently, we have only a handful of pastors purchasing private jets; but in no distant time, if we fail to nip this monstrous trend in the bud, it will become the aspiration of other religious leaders and eventually become the norm. When such a time comes, there will likely be more impoverished people to cater for (according to the projection of experts), and a remedy may be farther from reach than now.
Regardless of how this issue is viewed, we must, as a nation, urgently consider reforms for our religious organisations. We must question this untamed knack of pastors for ostentation and flamboyance. We must question how leaders of religious organisations (non-profit organisations) – are able to acquire properties worth millions of dollars without any explanation as to how these properties were acquired. We must ascertain the sources of these luxurious acquisitions, to avoid a situation where pastors unscrupulously use the funds of their churches for themselves, or, even worse; use their churches to siphon stolen public wealth through their unholy alliances with politicians. Perhaps, when the latitude for abuse is considerably minimal in religious organisations, the ostentatious desires and lifestyles of their leaders will also reduce.
Before it is too late, Christians must begin to demand transparency and accountability from their Pastors and General Overseers; the same way we all demand transparency and accountability from elected officials. The Nigerian government, also, must review its sacred-cow treatment of religious organisations; for it makes no sense, that while these churches are enjoying exemption from paying taxes, their religious heads are busy accumulating wealth and luxurious properties. Our nation suffers deficits in numerous areas, and we can’t have people accruing wealth and living boisterously under false pretences while citizens continue to suffer.
Adebayo Raphael is a Human Rights Activist and Development Consultant. He writes from Abuja and can be reached on Twitter via @Asorosobioro.
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