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Fashola’s eureka moment at Lekki tollgate

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By Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, November 9, 2020)
Donkey’s years ago, before greed overtook leadership and snatched the reins of governance, Lagos was a free society without a tollgate.
Doubtlessly, the tollgate was a taboo in Lagos ages ago. This was in the days when history took culture under its wings together with language and tradition, forming a formidable foursome.
This was before government calamitously embarked on the journey to remove history from school curricula, deify foreign cultures, denigrate Nigerian languages and scorn tradition.
Nowadays, the four-pronged society preservers – history, culture, language and tradition – have been rendered as gaping as the four missing incisors in a mouth sentenced to pronouncing, “Surely, every thief stealing seashells by the Lagos seashore shall die by the sword at Tinubu Square.”
This pronunciation task is an impossibility for anyone without the incisors because the  incisors, what the Yoruba call ‘eyin faari’, are needed to pronounce dental sounds.
If you know Lagos very well, you will know its history, culture,  language and tradition. You will know the Eyo. If you know the Eyo, you should know the opambata, the aro and the agbada.
The opambata is the long, fearsome stalk of the palm tree wielded by the Eyo masquerader. The agbada is the white, overflowing regalia and the aro are the panegyrics of the Eyo.
Born at the Lagos Island Maternity Hospital and raised in Mushin, I memorised the ‘omo alagbada tolonga, tolonga’ Eyo panegyrics, a must-know chant among fellow youngsters back in the day.
That was a season when Lagos was sane, bold and unconquered. It was a time when Lagosians boastfully chanted the Eyo praisesong, recalling how their forebears’, in these tuneful lines, vowed never to pay toll at the boundary: “Eyo baba n’tawa, to nfi goolu se’re, awa o ni sanwo onibode, o di’le.”
But Lagosians now pay toll, to and fro, at the Lekki profit gate everyday. Even the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a true Lagosian, can’t mobilise fellow Lagosians not to pay at the Lekki bondage, sorry, boundary gate. Iyen ma lewu. Odikwa risky. Baba-Baba mustn’t hear that.
I understand the encumbrances of serving and past Lagos governors. I know how gingerly former Lagos governor and incumbent Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, carries the burden of loyalty. But millions of Nigerians don’t. I’ll jog their memory.
When asked at a senate ministerial screening in 2015 about his view on loyalty, Fashola responded, “The concept of loyalty is a strange one. The real answer is that may our loyalties never be tested. I always pray that may my loyalty never be tested.”
He went ahead to narrate the story of two daughters who were unwilling to donate a kidney to their sick mom after the Lagos State government promised to send their mom abroad for transplant, stressing that he never wished his loyalty to be tested because no one knows the cost.
Fashola, at the intense screening, insisted that he had never been disloyal to any cause he has ever ‘signed on to’, stressing that, ‘no one can accuse me fairly of giving my word and going back on it’.
Fashola is fervently loyal, I know. He’s an unfrivolous Lagos poster boy who minds his business, plays his table tennis and smokes his cigarettes.
Fashola was loyal to his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, first – as chief of staff and later as first term governor. During his second term as governor, his loyalty was seriously tested, and Fashola doesn’t like his loyalty to be tested.
Several days after Nigerian soldiers murdered many youth protesters at the Lekki tollgate plaza last month, Fashola visited the scene after it had been washed clean of innocent blood.
As he stepped out of his vehicle and made a solitary and determinable peregrination at the scene of the public execution, Fashola’s loyalty was on trial. But remember, he had warned that he doesn’t like his loyalty to be tested.
Fashola wore brown plain clothes underscoring the prevailing sombre mood. The plain clothes were also a foretaste of the breakthrough about to happen. He folded his hands behind his back like a wise man while his roving eyes scanned the drainage, road and tollgate pillars.
Like a prophet who takes the cue when his hour has come, Fashola looked up at the tollgate beacon and continued on his solitary mission…then his eureka moment unraveled in broad daylight when he suddenly discovered the crime-scene camcorder!
As he fetched a handy piece of cloth from inside his plain clothes, headlines for the next day’s newspapers probably flirted around his mind, “#ENDSARS: Fashola unearths secret camera,” “Fashola discovers breakthrough lead at Lekki,” “Detective Fashola!”
Brilliant people are gifted with anticipatory thinking. It’s possible that Fashola envisioned himself being swarmed by reporters after his earthquaking finding, falling over themselves in the bid to ask questions while he basked in smiles of triumphal accomplishment.
But killjoy Nigerians felt Fashola was acting a comedy. They weren’t grateful that Fashola didn’t act like the Greek polymath and inventor, Archimedes, who reportedly ran home naked from a public bath, shouting eureka! upon discovering an insight into volumetric displacement.
Shame on fault-finding Nigerians! They descended on Fashola and smeared his reputation on social media. If Nigerians accuse Fashola of owing his allegiance to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), rather than to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I’m sure they won’t be mistaken as to where the allegiance of the members of the Lagos State House of Assembly lies.
Perpetually in the news for wrong reasons such as staggering corruption allegations, the Lagos legislature is tethered to Tinubu, to whom members of the House publicly pledge their allegiance, always.
By now, former Nollywood actor-turned-lawmaker in Lagos, Desmond Elliot, must’ve seen how his foreign surname has been turned into a rhyme scheme of unprintable adjectives signifying stupidity.
Employing dishonest reasoning, Elliot drew the ire of Nigerians when he called the Lekki protesters ‘children’, warning the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, about the need for an urgent clampdown on Nigerians using social media users to demand better governance.
Elliot wasn’t outraged about the merciless killings of innocent youths by Nigerian soldiers at the Lekki tollgate, but was scandalised that protesters, in reaction to the killings, could storm the palace of the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, and seize the fleeing king’s staff of office.
Because Elliot must please the gods, he boomed, “When I went through the comments I could not believe it (sic); the curses, the abuses from children, and I asked myself, ‘Is this Nigeria? What is going on?’ Culture is gone!.., Mr Speaker, in the next five years, there will be no Nigeria if we don’t start now!
Start what kwanu? Start a fresh orgy of killings? Elliot’s statement was one of the most horrendous vituperations against the memory of those who lost their lives in the Lekki peaceful protest. The way he feigned annoyance and laboured to string passable sentences in the weirdest accent was dishonorable.
Without living in the Tabon-Tabon area of Agege, the phonetics-speaking Elliot even fired a couple of Chief Zebrudaya bullets, among others. Hear him, “The youth is (sic) not only those who do the peaceful protest!”
Reacting to the fallout of the state-induced riots that greeted the Lekki killings, a colleague of Elliot in the legislature, Mojisola Alli-Macaulay, said most Nigerian youths are on drugs, most of the time. What!?
Alli-Macaulay is a member of the current ninth Assembly that pardoned former Lagos Deputy governor, Femi Pedro, and restored all his outrageous privileges to him while Pedro’s predecessor, Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor, who committed no offence as Pedro never got her privileges restored.
Shamefully, Alli-Macaulay is a member of a House whose Speaker has a yoke of corruption allegation hanging at his neck.
Which one is it better to be, a drug addict or a chained Assembly?
Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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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