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Fashola dresses Buhari in borrowed robes

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Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, October 5, 2020)

After spending over 46,824 hours in office as the 15th Nigerian Head of State without tangible achievements to show for it, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has besmeared the image of Nigerian President, Major General Muhamadu Buhari (retd.), with the mishmash colours of green, white, grime and deceit.

I’ll confess. Fashola never set out to disfigure the President. He actually set out to drape the threadbare Buhari government in brilliant paints, but somewhere along the line, Fashola stepped on gloss and tripped, inadvertently dipping the canvas bearing Buhari’s image in a smorgasbord of riotous colours.

Thus a bespattered Buhari image emerged with red lips, purple head, green torso and blue limbs – in the eyes of millions of Nigerians who are daily whacked by hunger and stricken by diseases, withering and falling off to death like brown leaves falling off iroko tree.

Verily, verily, I say, Nigerians living below the poverty line won’t look at Fashola with kind eyes, aka ‘oju ire’, for the interview he granted last week to celebrate Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary.

Eni ba ma je ogun k’ogun, o gbodo pa itan k’itan is a Yoruba proverb that warns against the antics of the undeserving, laying false claims to unmerited inheritance. Fashola really put up a keen effort to paint the Buhari regime in bright colours but his bucket of white paint fell flat on hot tar.

Exactly one year ago, an unpalatable index on the World Poverty Clock gave credence to the wracking poverty in the land, saying 94 million Nigerians spend less than $1 each per day and live below the poverty line. With the stagnating unitary system of government tenaciously run by the country and the ruinous coronavirus pandemic, the number of Nigerians living below the poverty line must have shot beyond the sky by now.

Nigerians who fall into this starving category can confirm that when hunger sits in the pit of the stomach, nothing else can enter, except food. Anger is the monster in a hungry man.

In the story published in The PUNCH on October 1, 2020, Fashola said Nigerians are disappointed in the Buhari regime because they lack a proper understanding of the functions of government at different levels. Insult upon injury!

The PUNCH report quoted Fashola as saying, “The government that can transform and give us what we want quickly are the governments closest to us – state and local governments.

“Looking for the Federal Government or a magic President is why we seem to have been disappointed. We’re looking for the results in the wrong place.”

Expatiating, Fashola said that basic infrastructure like primary healthcare, primary education, among others being agitated for by many Nigerians, are the responsibilities of state and local governments.

Fashola, a silk, is dead right and I agree with him.

But the over 94 million Nigerians daily threatened by starvation are grumbling and insisting that their tears of poverty haven’t blinded them from seeing the truth and asking, “Are state governments responsible for the billions-of-naira-gulping white elephant called Aso Rock Clinic? Are state governments responsible for federal universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and secondary schools, where maggots swim in toilets, bedbugs snuggle under duvets and electricity lies in the belly of darkness.

Ensconced within the high walls of his palatial residence in Abuja, the murmuration of Nigeria’s 94 million suffering heads can’t reach up to Fashola on his high horse, but I’ll help them amplify it, though I’m fully in support of Fashola in his intolerance of the masses’ stupidity.

With refreshed nowness, I can hear the 94 million rejects of the scorched Nigerian earth recalling that this isn’t the first time left-handed Fashola would viciously pull the ears of the Nigerian masses and ram down his knuckles on their fungi-ravaged head.

To properly situate Fashola’s indignation of the Nigerian masses, the 94 million poverty population looked back in time and paused at the December of 2018 when Fashola, defending the underachievement of Buhari in the power sector, said, “There are problems, without a doubt, and we must deal with them. But let me remind you, all of the assets that the Ministry of Power used to control were sold by the last administration before I came. And so if you don’t have power, it’s not the government’s problem. Let’s be honest.”

Fashola didn’t shut up. He spoke further, “The people who are operating the power sector, generation and distribution are now privately owned companies. I’m here because I’m concerned. If your telephone is not working, it’s not the minister of telecommunication that you go to. Let’s be clear.”

Nigeria’s 94 million suffer-heads won’t let Fashola the philosopher king be. They mutter and accuse him of also opening his mouth in November 2019 to say Nigerian roads weren’t as bad as they were being portrayed by Nigerians.

The latest lecture on the functions of government is the third consecutive year when the masses will be lacerated by the sharp tongue of Fashola, who as two-term Lagos governor, inscribed signs along horrible federal roads, saying, “This is a Federal Government road, please, bear with us,” to mock the Peoples Democratic Party-led FG when his All Progressives Congress administration rehabilitated some federal roads in Lagos.

Aside from the referenced story of Fashola in The PUNCH of October 1, 2020, the elated minister also granted an exclusive video interview to News Central TV to celebrate Nigeria’s pyrrhic independence.

In the interview, Fashola spoke about the need for Nigeria to continue to exist TOGETHER as one indivisible entity, the aspirations and duties of the Nigerian youth, the ‘enviable’ level of Nigeria’s infrastructure and his Sugar Candy Mountain dream about Nigeria’s future.

Despite ruling for more than five years in office, Fashola, in the video interview, couldn’t mention ONE tangible achievement of Buhari, but tried to teach Nigerians what they can do for their country, and not what the country can do for them.

If the interview was to project Fashola as a brilliant technocrat and position him ahead of 2023, it failed disastrously as his responses not only contained grammatical blunders, it also was an untrue assessment of the socio-political temperature of the country.

Blandly stating the obvious, Fashola said in the video interview, “I think the thing that is true is that our economy and our population has (sic) grown faster than the rate of deployment of the infrastructure,” while he enjoined the youths in these words, “You don’t need a title to serve, there are so many little little things everybody can do, in his community, in his home, his family that adds (sic) up…Life itself and progress is (sic) a very dynamic and continuing effort.”

Dubiously, all the mouthed projects of the Buhari government listed by Fashola as ongoing infrastructural works are in the pipeline, not one has been completed. These include five competitive 21st Century type airport terminal buildings, road network, rail network; Lagos-Kano rail, Ilorin-Abuja rail, Lagos-Ibadan rail and an increased broadband connectivity that will ‘link the last man’ and all Nigerian villages. Let someone shout, “H-a-l-l-e-l-u-y-a-h!”

Despite all these undelivered heaven-on-earth promises, an all-knowing Fashola still has the audacity to lecture Nigerians on how to use his word-of-mouth infrastructure, tasking Nigerians to use his unseen infrastructure with a sense of duty.

By telling Nigerians to place their expectations for electoral deliverables on state and local governments, Fashola underscores the deafening call for restructuring. But need I whisper to him that, ‘President Buhari mustn’t hear such a heresy!’

In the ecstasy of Nigeria’s diamond jubilee, Fashola says, “I see that future already in my mind’s eye.” I see no future but farce. If Buhari had put his hands to the plough since May 29, 2015, Nigeria should be singing Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ today, but Eedris Abdulkareem’s ‘Nigeria Jagajaga’ is what I hear.
There’s a natural mystic blowing through the air.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

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Opinion

Buhari rests in London, Nigeria boils by Tunde Odesola

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, April 12, 2021)

As a herdsman, ‘yowwa’ is the likeliest gratifying word to escape from the tight-lipped Nigerian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) if his cows nuzzle their muzzles against him as they eat hay from his outstretched hands during a random visit to his herd.

And as a devout Muslim, ‘Auzubillahi!’ is the likeliest word the President would utter if a dog mistakenly snuggles up against his ankle; Islam forbids human-dog embrace.

Aside from the religious injunction, however, the 78-year-old northern leader is unlikely to prefer the dog to the cow. Quite unlike the slow, witless and clumsy cow, the dog is a very intelligent, friendly, sensitive and witty creature. Universally, the dog is seen as man’s best friend, not the cow. Notwithstanding all these attributes, President Buhari’s preference will still be for the cow, not the dog, any day, anytime – for ancestral reasons.

The age-long ‘yes-sir!’ military mentality that upholds loyalty to superiors over patriotism to Nigeria, predisposes Buhari, a veteran soldier, to choosing the pliant cow over the witty dog.

Surely, the flunkey ‘yes-sir’ mentality is the reason why the Nigerian military, police, DSS and other security agencies put Buhari far above the country and the Constitution, and would shoot at innocent youths at Lekki tollgate even when such an order is in clear breach of the rules of engagement and the Constitution.

Indeed, the distinction between sycophancy and patriotism was what saved the US when subversive forces rose against its democracy on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol as the judiciary, the legislature, the military and all other institutions of government stood in defence of the American Constitution over the shenanigans of former President Donald Trump and his cohorts.

The understanding of the distinction between racism and patriotism is what is currently playing out in the trial of the white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the neck of African-American George Floyd on May 25, 2020, sending him to an early grave in Minneapolis city of Minnesota, USA.

Chauvin’s ongoing public trial, which commenced on March 29, 2021, displays the unquestionable ability of the American nation to reinvent itself when faced with challenges.

For the average Nigerian like me, it beggars belief to think that serving and retired Nigerian police officers would enter the witness box and vehemently condemn one of their own as it’s being done in the trial of Chauvin, who faces up to 40 years in prison if the second degree murder charge, which presupposes that he didn’t intentionally kill Floyd, is upheld.

Since public hearings on police killings and brutality opened in various states of the Nigerian federation, following the #Endsars nationwide protests last year, no ex-security officer or serving security officer has come out to condemn army-police extrajudicial killings.

Public officials’ arrogant misuse of state power against the citizenry is one of the reasons for the overwhelming call for the restructuring of the country.

The monumental failure of the Buhari-led regime in tackling insecurity, corruption, nepotism, poverty, ethnicity and government insensitivity is the fuel to the agitation for the break-up of the federation.

Arrogant, insensitive and utterly reckless, the All Progressives Congress-led Presidency, in 2019, released the picture of Buhari picking his teeth, probably after drinking some (nunu) milk from his cows – while the citizenry groaned under the weight of unemployment, lack and dejection. Only our I-don’t-care President would pick his teeth after drinking milk.

Commenting on the tooth-picking picture, presidential aide on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, displayed the characteristic arrogance and insensitivity of the Buhari regime when he said in a tweet, “It’s hard to understand why some people are genuinely angry because of this innocent pic. When I innocently snapped it on Feb 27 and posted (it) on my Snapchat, it didn’t occur to me that it’s going to give wailers that strong hit…”

As Nigerians have been gnashing their teeth since the beginning in 2015, so shall it be till the end in 2023. Nothing will stop the plunge. Buhari is on an eight-year vacation.

Displaying his nonchalance to public outcry for the umpteenth time, Buhari, on march 30, 2021, embarked upon a two-week medical check-up in London, despite the nationwide strike by medical doctors in public hospitals back home.

Without a word on the plight of millions of sick Nigerians condemned to attend public hospitals nationwide, the President hopped on a plane and zoomed off to England, probably with two toothpicks in his mouth after a meal of tuwo and isi ewu.

Defending Buhari’s shameless medical trips, the most meritless of Buhari’s media aides, Lauretta Onochie, tweeted on April 7, 2021, “NEXT YEAR. PRES. @MBuhari WILL GO FOR A ROUTINE CHECKUP.

  1. We have been here since 2016. Its been the same wailing. So the response will also be the same. At least, once a year, People across the world see their personal Doctors especially one they have seen for about 40 years.’

It’s not hard to distinguish the noise of an empty barrel. So, Buhari, Onochie and the wastrels that make up the Presidency see nothing wrong in wasting Nigeria’s hard currency abroad in the last 40 years?

That Buhari cannot give Nigeria just one hospital he can attend, despite ruling Nigeria for eight years now, summarises his failure as a leader. It’s scandalous that Buhari didn’t feel ashamed about going to England still – for treatment – when he’s in an opportune position, in the last six year, to turn around Nigeria’s health sector.

The latest trip makes it Buhari’s 12th time to run off to London for medical treatment, despite his country having 72,000 registered medical doctors with over 50,000 of them, shamefully, out of the shores of the country due to lack of facilities and adequate welfare packages.

Buhari’s insensitivity doesn’t stop at the medical sector alone, where nurses, physiotherapists, health technologists etc are leaving the country in droves, the lethargy of his regime permeates every fabric of our national life, and holds the country down to slow death.

Even his wife, Aisha, left her matrimonial home, and took off to Dubai for six long months. It’s unheard of anywhere in the world that the wife of the president of a country, which isn’t at war, would go on vacation abroad for six months! Or, could it be that oga madam went on antenatal vacation ni?

Henceforth, I’ll be on the lookout for a bulge in the mid region of the beautiful Aisha. If Aisha gets pregnant penren? Eeeehhh!! Nigerians will put Buhari to the sword online. I bet you, trolls against the Buhari family will burn down the internet!

But seriously speaking, President Buhari won’t touch the dog. I’m sure he won’t touch the pig, either, because he’s a very pious Muslim. However, Buhari is the chichidodo, a bird that passionately hates feces but loves to eat the maggots in feces.

Buhari hates corruption, but corruption has been the signpost of his administration with millions of dollars yearly disappearing into non-working refineries and his former EFCC chair, Ibrahim Magu, enmeshed in financial scandals.

Buhari promised to stop medical tourism when campaigning to be President, but he and his family have made England, France, Germany, Canada, Dubai and the US their second homes.

Buhari promised to revamp the education sector, but his children never graduated from a Nigerian university.

Buhari, in 1983, promised to build infrastructure when he seized power in a military coup, but he cancelled the lofty Lagos metro line project initiated by the late Lateef Jakande administration, throwing the traffic of the lagoon city into eternal chaos. He came back in March 2019 to inaugurate a bus-stop in Lagos, though. Chai!

The alarming picture just keeps flashing in my head: Nigerian President on the bed of a random London hospital in an age when microchips can be implanted to monitor and control patients. Unmh!

Buhari rests peacefully in London while peace has fled his own country, Nigeria. Terrible.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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Video: Nigerian leaders won’t be part of a decision that will take them out of power – Fr. GEORGE EHUSANI

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Demise of Yinka Odumakin, a dependable ally of the masses

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By Lai Olurode

The passing away of Chief Yinka Odumakin was a great loss to this country.

He was committed to a great but restructured Nigeria.

He was a dogged and committed fighter for causes that he believed in. And really, he was committed to fighting whatever would rob off negatively on the masses, no matter their ethno-religious identity.

To my mind, not many living Nigerians are as committed to a restructured Nigeria as he is.

Odumakin was courageous, bold, painstaking in the pursuit of facts and figures.

He had a robust and versatile mind. He speaks fluently and unrelenting and consistent in the pursuit of truth.

He had no permanent friend except in what is just, fair and right

The last time he was in touch with me was a couple of weeks back and in respect of the death of yet a greater Nigerian, Alh. Lateef kayode Jakande. He wanted some clarifications about LKJ’s unbelievably spartan life, which I obliged him.

May the soul of Odumakin rest in peace and may God be with his wife,  Dr. Mrs. Joe-Odumakin and the children he left behind. His death is certainly a devastating loss to the progressive camp and to all lovers of a great and peaceful Nigerian.

 

*Olurode is a former National Commissioner at the INEC and professor of Sociology at the University of Lagos.

April 3 2021

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