My dear Asiwaju, I pray my letter meets you and yours in fantastic spirit. It has almost become a tradition for me to write, or openly express my views, to you periodically on political issues, since about 2007. Before I go into the meat of my epistle, kindly permit me to establish some protocol, or preamble. I always choose to write to you in this manner, in moments of great concern and uncertainty such as this, because these words must be kept for posterity. It is not easy to advise someone much older than oneself in our clime. An elderly person can do no wrong, according to our tradition, particularly, if such an elder is respected and revered as you are. It is even much tougher to offer advice to someone as powerful as God has made you to be. You are a man of destiny, and miracles. Yours is a fairy-tale. A real grass to grace story that many applaud and seek to emulate. But at the end of the day, Sir, you are very human. You are a very kind and generous man. You are exceptionally brilliant and smart and everyone, including your foes, admit and acknowledge that fact.
I have known and seen you at your lowest ebb, when we were in exile in England. You rose stoutly to the occasion then like a true generalissimo. We didn’t see the type of crowd that currently mill around you now. You were focussed on dismantling the military junta under the command of General Sani Abacha. I remember with nostalgia how Tokunbo Afikuyomi and I used to stroll into your apartment around Cavendish near Regent’s Park, as if we were the owners of the beautiful flat that you still own till this day. I could go into your kitchen and cook whatever food I wanted and later do damage to your wine collection. I recollect the NADECO meetings at the Quadrangle, God bless Lt. General Alani Ipoola Akinrinade, for his inspirational leadership. Some of the faces I used to see are staring at me as I type this letter to you, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, Reverend Peter Obadan, Hon. Wale Oshun, Dr Amos Akingba, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Ralph Uweche, just to mention a few. I remember you as a good dancer at our occasional discos at Mill Hill. I also recognise two good names, Mr Ibukun Fakeye and Mr Bola Opaleye. We were under pressure, but you made things easier for most of us because of your natural gift of giving. Mama Calabar restaurant at Hendon Central was a good place to rendezvous then for good home food.
From your home, you coordinated many things, linking up with Papa Anthony Enahoro, Professor Wole Soyinka, the Afenifere Group at home, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the main man at Radio Freedom (later Radio Kudirat) and several other distinguished refugees. We had young but active journalists like Richie Dayo Johnson, George Noah, Greg Odo and Ike Okonta. I will readily attest to your uncommon courage and unassailable commitment to the struggle for democracy in our dear beloved country Nigeria. Nothing would ever scare or rattle me like the day you and I sat alone, in a coded location, with some German mercenary, who told us his organisation could rescue Chief M.K.O Abiola from detention. Many more personalities who are now sojourners in your various homes, who have made fame and fortune through you, were not part of the beginning no matter how much they now try to demonstrate that they were. Some of those who planned and plotted at that time joined you in your political forays, especially, a perfect gentleman like LT. General Alani Akinrinade who chose to observe from the back seat and make occasional contributions as the exigencies of our political situation dictated. I have gone through this tale to soften the ground a bit for what I’m about to tell you.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those London days. Please, Sir, cast your mind back to the day you boarded the British Airways flight back to Nigeria a free man, about 20 years ago to the minute, in October 1998. God has been extremely kind, in all ramifications. If anyone had predicted you would ever be this big, you would have dismissed the person pronto as insane. You never prepared to be the Governor of Lagos then. Perhaps, you thought of returning to the Senate. The name on everyone’s lips was Dr Wahab Dosunmu. But the ways of God are permanently mysterious. All in a jiffy, things turned around for you and you became first the Candidate and later the most powerful Governor in Nigeria. You know those who helped you achieve that status and assisted in ensuring that you ultimately became the most powerful man in Nigeria after the President of Nigeria, even after you finished your term of office. It wasn’t all rosy-rosy as you had a running battle with President Olusegun Obasanjo who, for whatever reason, chose to starve Lagos of its statutory funds. You assembled a fantastic team of technocrats and, with them, you set out on a beautiful voyage to create a new roadmap and gargantuan masterplan for modern Lagos. You survived every challenge or attack on your person, including plots to impeach you. After a turbulent first term, you coasted home to victory during your second term. By then your eminent position in the pantheon of Nigerian icons was assured.
You were not yet done. Out of the blues, you gave Lagos a superlative retirement gift in Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, a gentle colossus, who took Lagos to a new height of excellence. Many people never knew Fashola had such incredible talent. But towards the end of his first term, tragedy almost struck, when news broke out that you were not going to endorse him for a second term in office. I remember writing you a letter, in this same Pendulum column, asking you to perish the thought. I remember saying emphatically then that the marriage between you and Fashola was consummated in heaven and any attempt to seek a divorce by either of you would end up in monumental disaster for both of you and your great party, ACN. I have no idea how many important personalities appealed to you before you calmed down and embraced your godson, warts and all, but you did the needful, and despite rumoured friction between both of you today, Fashola remains a great pride of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.
Thereafter, I also had occasion to beg you not to get involved in certain battles at the beginning of the Buhari administration because I was aware some people were out to use and dump you, but your new acolytes frowned at my humble suggestion and went to town with blistering insults and abuses. Over three years after, I’m sure you’ve seen the futility of your great effort at helping your party get its bearing right. Even the reconciliation committee which you headed was never allowed to flourish for one day. It has been one crisis after the other. But let’s leave that and move forward to the crux of the matter today.
Let me say categorically that no one has sent me to you because what is fashionable these days is the web of conspiracy stories on social medial. You must have guessed what this is all about, already. My appeal to you, openly and frontally, is to plead with you to handle the Akinwunmi Ambode debacle with utmost care and tact. Until you brought him out from retirement, not many people ever knew him and his achievements as the Lagos State Accountant-General. He was obviously a young, shy but brilliant man who knew how to get results. Your unusual sagacity and prescience in unearthing gems like Fashola and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President birthed another genius of an administrator in Ambode. He has succeeded in following and emulating the glorious heights set by you and Fashola and Lagos State has again been better for the choice you made. I have read all sorts about how power changed him and how he has not been too grateful and appreciative to all those who gave him this uncommon favour and the seat of power that he currently occupies. I have also sat with people who swore never to forgive him even if you do. We all know though, that once you give direction, all the sabre-rattling by these political journey-men will cease and they will abide by your decision. Hmmm, Asiwaju, at the end of the day, no matter what happens, you would be held responsible for the plight of your party, APC and Lagos State, for good or for bad.
It is normal for every mortal to feel let down. It is even always tempting for humans to get angry and seek vengeance but after every war, the gladiators often come together on the table to start a new life as if they were not killing themselves in recent past. I can’t claim to know all the sins Governor Ambode committed to warrant his present predicament. But whatever it was, we are told he has begged and pleaded, his wife has apologised, many distinguished Nigerians have beseeched that you forgive and allow him to complete his good work. I have read the complaints of many of your foot-soldiers, Sir, the reasons and excuses for dumping Ambode are very similar, he has not looked after anybody, he has been standoffish, who does he think he is, and so on. These are at the very worst, personal issues that could naturally lead to bickering and animosity. I doubt if the issue was more about lack of performance in accordance with the mandate of improving Lagos which you gave to him. Not even uncharitable persons would accuse him of that. Politics is indeed a delicate and dangerous game. A few months back, no one would have envisaged this type of strife or brouhaha to visit a man everyone called the most hardworking Governor in Nigeria. If I want to sound superstitious and to put it the African way, this is the handiwork of witches and wizards.
I’m aware that my very dear Brother, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, incidentally, I’m 20 times closer to him than Ambode, has been dragged into the cauldron of intrigue and power struggle in Lagos State. I will love him to be Governor, because he is undoubtedly qualified, but not in the manner many of your supporters are going about it. If he is so destined, he may still be Governor, some day. This is my reason for saying that the apparent unnecessary and unwarranted humiliation of the current Governor is bizarre and definitely uncalled for. The giddiness of the moment must urgently give way to sobriety. If care is not taken ‘kata kata’ may burst! It seems that the Lagos electorate is being taken for granted and that it is assumed that they are merely dogs that can be controlled by the whistle of the dog handler. Asiwaju, you never know, the unpredictable may happen and it has happened before. I do not pray that history repeats itself within a short time, at a time when you hold sway as the undisputed power broker. If that happens, God forbid, most of those saying there is no one like you today, will swiftly disappear before you can blink an eye. I venture to say that most of them do not personally like you. They live in fear of you and not in awe of you. I hear and know what many of them say behind you. If one asks them, why haven’t they told you face-to-face, the usual answer is “you will be called an enemy once you tell Oga the truth…”
These are people very close to you, but do not have your interest at heart. They are only concerned with their selfish interests and self-preservation.
What would be worse is for this grave matter not to be settled and Babajide’s head is used to break coconut. This would be sad. Everything must be done to bring your team together again as one. Both of them can still work perfectly for the good of the State. There is nothing wrong in having two brilliant, diligent and industrious people on the same ticket to advance the prospects of the State, with the recognition that the deputy is already anointed to take over. I believe that this may be a veritable solution to the present imbroglio and that it can work to assuage the feelings and aspirations of all concerned.
The present situation is sad and unfortunate. I seriously pity those who think you and Ambode cannot be friends again. I know from your antecedents that you do not practice politics like that. You are much more astute. You are buoyed by the philosophy of ‘itesiwaju Eko’. That demands sacrifices for the Lagos State you envision. I believe this is one sacrifice that is necessary to make. It is difficult but not impossible. You must forgive and make up, before it is too late. All those who have intervened are waiting, and watching, to see if you would disregard, and disrespect, them all collectively. That would be truly unfortunate.
Finally, Asiwaju, you have shown your power and demonstrated the ability to squash and rout, but, please, don’t fire the bullet. Ambode deserves a second chance.
ABEOKUTA AND ITS PERENNIAL FLOODING: GOV. ABIODUN TO THE RESCUE
By Elijah Udofia
Saturday, July 4, 2020, is a day the people of Abeokuta, particularly those living very close to the city’s waterways, would not forget in a hurry. Like in the days of Noah, the floodgates were opened and the showers came down heavily, causing floods of havoc that ravaged portions of the city. For somebody who was in the capital city of the Gateway State for the first time, the sight of flooded roads, with water subterranean enough to swim, floating household possessions, evacuated trees, washed way bridges and people congregating on high rise buildings, waiting for the water to recede, is something he or she will live to remember for a long time.
On that day, the heavens opened and brought with it sorrows, but thankfully, without blood. The torrential rain which started at about three in the morning did not stop until six in the evening, thereby thrashing hard on the ancient city for 16 good hours, non-stop. It is instructive to note that July of every year, has always been a period when the city experiences great flooding, occasion by torrential rain. Apart from the destruction of critical public infrastructures, mostly roads and bridges, it is always a time when those living close to the canals, have their hearts in their mouths. Hardly a year passes without these areas experiencing flooding which lead to loss of properties and in some cases, life or lives as the case may be.
The recent one affected mostly areas are; Isale-Oja, Kuto, Ago-Ijesha, Ijeun-Titun, Ijeja-Igbore road, Gbangba, Elite-Lantoro road and Oba Adeleye’s recreational park. One is however happy that areas like Ijaye and Isale-Igbein, which used to experience serious flooding had been taken care of, by the construction of Lafenwa, Sapon, Idi-Aba, Ajebo road and Onikolobo, Omida and Sapon road. It should be noted here that the issue of flooding in Abeokuta is not new, as previous governments, including military administrations, had course to contend with this menace. The presence of the Vice President, who came to inspect the extent of damage caused by flooding two years ago, is an indication that the issue is not a child’s play. What is disturbing however is that the damages caused are becoming more devastating, which calls for concern by all and sundry?
Being the head of a government that came to power on the popular mandate, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, immediately the rain ceased on Sunday morning, ordered a team of government officials, led by the Environment Commissioner, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun took a tour of the areas affected by the flood and came up with a report to enable the government to respond accordingly.
As if that was not enough, the Governor, the following day, personally went round the affected areas to see things for himself. Prince Abiodun who was shocked due to the extent of damage caused not only to public assets, but to the property of the people, there and then, promised that his administration would assist them in mitigating the effect of their loss.
“I am here to look at the damage caused by the rain that fell on Saturday. Though I have sent my Commissioners and other government officials to inspect the damages, I decided to also come and see things for myself. I am happy that no life was lost, though you lost properties.
“I want to assure all of you who lost property to the flood that we will support you. In a few days’ time, government officials will come to see you to take down your names and properties affected, so that we can look at how to compensate you”.
On what the government intends to do to settle the matter once and for all, Prince Dapo Abiodun said the dredging of the canal that crisscrosses the State capital was on-going, while clearing of refuse in the gutters, was also carried out. He then informed the people that the government has assessed the damage caused to the roads and bridges with a view to carry out a comprehensive and proper channelization of the waterways.
“I want to assure you that we will repair the damaged roads, expand the gutters and bridges so that when rain falls, the gutters and the bridges would be able to accommodate the large volume of water. With this, the problem of erosion would be a thing of the past”, he promised
Governor Abiodun attributed flooding in the State capital to rapid development, besought the people to desist from dumping refuse or building structures on the waterways as these also contributed to the flooding. Collaborating the position of the Governor on the ways to find permanent solution to the menace of flooding in the State, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, noted that regular dredging of the waterways, converting some old culverts to bridges as well as delisting drainages to allow free flow of water will be done by the government.
The Commissioner disclosed that dredging is currently going on at Isale-Oja to Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library up to Orange Valley View Estate, adding that the government is not only looking at Abeokuta alone, as dredging is also ongoing in 16 places across the State. Though the government ultimate goal is to find a permanent solution to the problem, in the meantime, a temporary arrangement according to the Commissioner, was going on at the sites, as allowing the affected areas to remain unattended to, will adversely affect the socio-economic well-being of people and adds to their suffering. The Commissioner appealed to residents of the State to properly dispose of their refuse and desist from dumping them on waterways, to minimize the effects of flooding.
For Alhaji Bello Mohammed, Secretary, Isale-Oja, Kuto, Community Development Association, his community has been experiencing flooding on a yearly basis in the last 10 years. He opined that proper channelization of the canal with an adequate drainage system, would bring an end to the flooding. Also, Mrs. Abike Awosanya and Abideen Musibau, residents of Ago-Ijesha, in Abeokuta South Local Government, said that they want the government to urgently find lasting solution to the flood problem, as it has affected their means of livelihood and make life unbearable for them.
Also bearing his mind, Mr. Raphael Anthony, a motorcyclist, who plied Ijaye-Kuto route, appealed to the State government to regularly dredge the waterways and expand the drainages system as the existing ones can no longer accommodate large volumes of water, during heavy rain. More so, Mrs. Florence Adegbite, an apprentice hairstylist at Ijeun Titun, opined that, “from what I am seeing, I think the State government would need help, particularly from the Federal government to permanently address this problem, a huge amount of money will be involved.
Though Government has a big role to play in bringing an end to the flooding issue, l observed with pain that the actions and inactions of the people are not helping in this regard. A walk through the State capital, one will see the non-challant attitude of the people as they dump refuse even at places where they are not supposed to.
Some simple questions I would like to ask are, what is refuse doing on road medians? Why do people turn gutters, drainages which are supposed to carry water to the canal, to refuse dumpsites? Why do people find it difficult to clear gutters, even those in front of their houses? And most importantly, why do people build structures on waterways that were invented/constructed to serve as drains to the river. All these questions need urgent answers, if the problem of flooding in Abeokuta, is to be addressed.
Now that Governor Dapo Abiodun’s government is showing commitment by putting in place measures that will permanently solve the problem of perennial flooding in the capital city, it is imperative for citizens to also play their parts, because as the African saying goes, “one cannot clap with one hand”.
Udofia, Head of the Governor’s Press Crew, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
AREGBESOLA COMES TO JUDGMENT
BOTH RAPISTS AND POLITICAL RAPISTS ON RAMPAGE IN NIGERIA
By: Ademola Orunbon
There is no doubt that rapists are really on rampage in Nigeria. More worrisome is the frequent news of children and teenagers being raped almost in every nook and cranny of the country almost on a daily basis, with most of the cases going unreported. The situation is so bad that the notorious rapists are no longer strangers to their victims as they could even be members of the family or trusted neighbours and even domestic servants.
Despite the fact that human rights activists are quite unrelenting in their efforts at exposing the dangers our teenagers are being exposed to daily in the hands of these rampaging rapists and their collaborators, the situation has not really been brought under control. Enlightenment programmes on sexual education and the rights of the child against all forms of abuse should be stepped up and extended to even the schools, churches and mosques
The most worrisome of the current trend is child sexual abuse which is really on the ascendancy in the country. According to The Cece Yara Foundation, an international non-governmental organization, child sexual abuse has become more prevalent than most people even realize. The organization maintained that the menace is likely the most prevalent health problem children face with the most serious array of consequences.
According to the Foundation, one in every four girls experienced sexual violence in the country while one in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. The Foundation also disclosed that one in eight girls experienced unwanted sexual touching just as one in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Aside Lagos State which really has a law against child sexual abuse and molestation, only a few States are really doing much to tackle this ugly trend. Many reasons have been adduced for the rising cases of rape in the country, especially those involving children and teenagers. One of the reasons is the rising cases of unemployment and moral decadence in the society.
The increasing intake of hard drugs by our youngsters is another contributing to the rising cases of rape in the country. We really want to join other partners across the country, especially rights advocates and non-governmental organizations which have taken the matter up to the public space with condemnation and advocacy. While condemning the rising cases of rape in the country, we implore our government to take the fight against the ugly trend beyond the level of mere rhetorics to real action.
Enlightenment programmes on sexual education and the rights of the child against all forms of abuse should be stepped up and extended to even the schools, churches and mosques. The campaign should start from the individual family with our young girls properly tutored on the need to know everything about their rights and how to protect themselves from being abused. The Point is however happy that recent cases are generating an unprecedented global wake-up call to the increasing rate of child sexual abuse in the country and the world at large. We only hope that the tempo will be sustained for the message to sink in foe all concerned to know the right thing to do as we join millions of other advocates against child sexual abuse and rape in the country.
We also call for prompt trial and prosecution of all cases of violations and abuse of our young girls as deterrent to others. Also, we implore all other States in the country to borrow a leaf from Lagos State where a law is currently in place to take care of issues relating to child sexual abuse and rape.
Also, other rapists that wrecking the country is political rapists, the way politics has been reduced to a trade shorn of every modicum of morality and respectability by some Nigerian politicians leaves much to be desired. Without a stretch of decency, our politicians appear to be travelling on the road to infamy. If their penchant to display hubris and character flaws is anything to go by, and the knack to approbate and reprobate or speak from both sides of the mouth is of major worry, the APC politicians have succeeded in sweeping baloney in their political space with their brooms.
It is a pity that those who found themselves in the commanding heights of leadership in Nigeria automatically transform themselves to semi-gods the moment they get power and position. Nigeria political office holders are in the main arrogant, pompous, and irritatingly proud and disrespectful until death, the ultimate reaper, levels them. Let me hasten to say that there are few exceptions, the reason I qualify the declaration with the phrase ‘in the main’. And so, the average Nigerian politicians have raped and still continue to rape not only their pauperized followers but the entire citizenry on all fronts. To be precise, our contemporary experience under the APC-led federal government appears to be very worrisome.
No man born of woman is so important that the world cannot do without his mortal presence. When politics is reduced to the level of deification of an individual whose credo is: “But for me, the world would collapse”, it needs to be expressly made clear that, that is the biggest lie ever told. History is replete with carcasses of warriors, geniuses, inventors and charismatic statesmen and women after whose demise the world moved on to even greater achievements. It reminds me of the truism in the wise saying of an anonymous bard: “In life nobody is indispensable or irreplaceable, including you. And your replacement will always be better than you. For every Queen Vashti there is an Esther waiting to take your place. For every Saul there is a David ready to take your place. For every Eli there is a prophet Samuel ready to take your place. Many people due to their position, their talent or their beauty think they are irreplaceable – how wrong you are!.”
It is time for us to begin discourage men (and women) without a second address or known source of income in politics! There are those who pride themselves as professional politicians. There are those who have been in one appointive position or the other since time immemorial. There are those who have contested for one political office severally but failed and have amassed stupendous wealth from selling out to the opposition. Please let them go and rest! They have contested in every imaginably election; give us a break please, or go home and find something to do. Our tragedy in Nigeria today is that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) tarred longer than necessary in seeking public office. Had he retired earlier – or, better still, had he been allowed to retire earlier – we would not have seen today’s misfortunes!
On the flip side, it looks to me as if there is a cycle of rejuvenated evil residing in humanity in our present world. These days, we are faced with a serious challenge of how to manage our sanity in the midst of a flurry of bestialities that keep erupting from left, right and centre. The orgy of violence perpetrated across all ages manifests the baloney of insipid malfeasance that is capable of infecting the left-over values we hold onto with spider web. The incidence of rape has overshadowed political discourses. It has displaced politics, economy and international affairs from our chats and local gossips. This is a rare development in our country. In most cases, in Africa and around the world, these are the three dominant topics people find engaging because of their predominant impact on their lives. The two possible exceptions to this fact are South Africa and India where rape cases are cyclical routine.
What has been responsible for rape ascendancy in our national gossip are the tragic and incredible patterns of the reported incidents. When a 75 year-old man is invading the undeveloped vagina of a 10 year-old girl with gerontocratic vitality, obviously this becomes a national news highlight. When a son (no matter his age) is desecrating the collapsing pudenda of his mother’s senior or age mate by exploiting the woman’s debilitating physicality to have a taste of “his route to the world”, of course, it is of national interest. When a brother decides to forcefully expand the unripe vagina of his 5 year-old sister by pounding and jerking her to death, of course, this ghastly scenario is of national significance. When five Yahoo-Yahoo boys, possibly excited by the number of unfortunate idiots they have scammed in one day, organized a rape circus for a flirting teenager, of course. When Hussippupi, an internet fraudster having over two million followers on Instagram, even much more than what Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola had, in fact, this takes precedence in national debates.
When a girlfriend plotted to have some of her friends raped by a monstrous gang of six – just to profane their virgin territories, which also is a serious case of national importance. And the list is endless. The lesson of homily in all of these sadistic sexual extravaganzas is that if the world is not coming to an end, then the end is coming to the world. The degree of sexual debasement, sexual harassment, sexual defilement, sexual perversion has attained an alarming crescendo to make GOD to extend the timeline of Covid-19 or to even upgrade it to “Covid Finale” so that we can all sing “Home, Here We Come” chorus.
Orunbon, a journalist and political analyst, wrote in from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Can be reached via; email@example.com, or 08034493944 and 08029301122.
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