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Arresting or killing Sunday Igboho will threaten stability of Nigeria, by Femi Fani-Kayode

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I will say this just once. The biggest threat to the peace and stability of Nigeria today is the plan by some hardliners in the Federal Government to kill, arrest or detain my friend and brother Chief Sunday Adeyemo (aka Sunday Igboho).

Arresting, detaining or killing this man will be the biggest mistake that the Federal Government can make. I say this because firstly, as far as I am aware, he has not broken any law and secondly because he represents the thoughts and aspirations of over 70 million Yoruba people. To every single one of those people he is the greatest hero of the South West since Oduduwa.

Equally relevant is the fact that he has made a pledge to keep the peace and has honored that pledge and commitment by participating and playing a key role in the biggest post-war peace deal in Nigerian history in which he single-handedly guaranteed the safety of innocent Hausa Fulani’s in the South West and even offered to protect and receive them after the food embargo on the South was lifted and when the Northern food suppliers refused to come South.

Without Igboho’s guarantee of safety for the northerners the embargo would never have been lifted and a major conflict would have ensued. I know because, together with Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state and others, I was deeply involved in the negotiations.  There was also a plan to attack southerners in the North (which would have resulted in a massive retaliation in the South) by a very powerful and well organised Northern group but this was dropped after Igboho gave his guarantee and committed to peace with those that come in peace and live in peace in Yorubaland.

This man SAVED both northern and southern lives by this single action and has refused to join others in attacking innocent Hsusa Fulanis in the South West.  Instead he has focused on defending the Yoruba people and protecting them against the homicidal and violent Fulani terrorists that are launching daily attacks against them from the forests of the West.  For this he is loved and revered by our people and neither will any self-respecting Yoruba person offer an apology.

This is a matter of self-defence and Igboho has consistently carried out these heroic operations in conjunction and collaboration with the local law enforcement agencies. That is why millions love and admire him: he has done what the FG has failed to do and provided security for our people.  To kill or arrest such a man who has committed no crime and who millions all over the SW love and would gladly die for is a dangerous, reckless and self-destructive course to take.

And neither should his belief in the establishment of an Oduduwa Republic attract such aggression because he is simply reflecting the views and voicing the aspirations of millions of Yoruba people.  If the Federal Government has an issue with Sunday Igboho my counsel and advice is to dialogue with him and attempt to build bridges of peace and understanding rather than attempt to arrest or kill him or wage war against him.  He is not a murderer or a terrorist and neither has he breached any law or committed any offence.

All he has sought and fought for is peace and security and the protection of his people against foreign invaders and killers who have occupied our land and who the Federal Government have been unable or unwilling to uproot and eradicate.

Those identifiable individuals from the South West that are jealous of Igboho’s rising profile and that have urged the Federal Government to kill or arrest him are the real enemies of the Buhari administration. They are also the enemies of the people of the South West and Nigeria.

Arresting or killing Igboho will not help these people achieve their political objectives and aspirations. It will only make it impossible for them to do so and attract  unprecedented hostility, opprobrium and notoriety to them. Treachery and betrayal  come with a heavy price and if anyone doubts that they should find out how Judas ended.  Peaceful co-existence with those we may not like or agree with is the only option we have as a people if we do not want another civil war.  Building bridges of peace and fraternity even with those we may be opposed to is the best way forward if we wish to avoid an armed conflict.

The greatest threat to our peace is for anyone to believe that the arrest or elimination of Sunday Igboho will not have serious consequences.  This would be a grave miscalculation on the part of those who are contemplating it and would lead us down the  road of turmoil, conflict, chaos and mutually-assured destruction.  I pray that good sense prevails and that we avoid that road.

Opinion

Opinion: Nigerian embassies of shame by Tunde Odesola (2)

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 20, 2021)

With a tongue roughly twice the length of its body, and a brocade of dubious colours for skin, the chameleon is the ultimate invisible animal predator.

Without premonition, small creatures like worms and insects searching for daily bread disappear suddenly into the Bermuda Triangle in the belly of the dodgy chameleon via a sticky, snappy tongue.

Like worms and insects, in June 2021 alone, 1,032 Nigerians met sudden death in the hands of gunmen and kidnappers across the country, according to a fresh security report.

Approximately, the 1,032 casualty figure translates to 34.4 wasted lives per day, excluding deaths by sicknesses, auto accidents, extrajudicial killings, ritual killings, etc in a peaceful country in pieces.

Home or abroad, the fate of the average Nigerian is mournful.

Home-based Nigerians are plagued by physical and psychological deaths just like Nigerians abroad are not spared psychological torture and humiliation in Nigerian embassies.

The overwhelming corruption yet pervading most Nigerian embassies despite numberless media reports in the last six years attests to the failure of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari led-regime in curbing dishonest dealings that have cemented the green passport in the hall of infamy.

Lamenting the nasty treatment she went through in the hands of officials at the Nigeria High Commission in the UK, a registered nurse, Kemi Samuel, who has lived in England for over three decades, said she suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder whenever she visited the commission.

A registered nurse with more than 30 years under her belt, Samuel recalled that every Nigerian in England, notwithstanding their locations, was required to physically come to obtain visas, renew passports or get new ones.

Samuel explained that it was ridiculous that she renewed her 10-year British passport within two hours at Her Royal Majesty Passport Office, Globe House, London, while she laboured to renew her five-year Nigerian passport after visiting the high commission on seven different occasions.

She said, “If you want your British passport to be done as an emergency, you need to visit the passport office, but if you want to follow the normal process, it will arrive in your mail within four to five days.

“The reverse is the case in the Nigeria High Commission, where officials allow applicants to shunt the queue after bribing them. The officials were nasty to young and old, and they’ve no regard for children, women and the physically challenged. I was breastfeeding my baby and I had to leave my work each time I visited, meaning that I was losing money.

“In 1997, an immigration officer wanted to steal my passport at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. He hid my passport among the documents he was clutching and he said I didn’t give him my passport, and he was trying to walk away. I raised my voice and told him to bring out my passport from among the papers in his hands.

 

“In 2010 when I wanted to renew my passport, they said there were no booklets from Abuja, so I had to use my British passport.

 

“Between February and August of 2016, my daughter and I visited the high commission over 20 times to renew our passports! Nigerians came from other European countries to renew their passports, too.

 

“There was the pitiable case of a female Nigerian student who needed her passport to renew her studentship. She said that was the 11th time she had come to the commission.

 

“When we got to Nigeria, the carousel didn’t work as there was no light at the airport, prompting passengers to use the light of the phones. All that was strange to my daughter who suddenly felt pressed to use the toilet. She ran out of the toilet when she saw heaps of maggots.”

 

A Nigerian resident in Houston, Texas, who doesn’t want his name in print, lamented that he was asked to pay an unreceipted $20 as car park fee at the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

The 50-year-old applicant, who is from southern Nigeria, said, “The embassy won’t process applications for more than one year, and after the expiration of one year, the applicant will be required to pay a fresh $195 as passport fee. Since it was the embassy that failed to produce passports as and when due, applicants should not be made to pay twice for passports.”

 

Nicknamed BB, the sad Nigerian also alleged that his online application was changed and ‘sold’ by embassy officials to another applicant who had bribed them.

 

“I picked up my American passport that can enable me to enter about 200 countries visa-free in my mailbox. I don’t know why my Nigerian passport, which nobody wants to see, is so problematic,” he  said.

 

Complaining about the terrible treatment meted out to visa and passport applicants at the Nigeria High Commission in London, a Nigerian, Sunday John, said applicants were never given appointment when they apply online.

 

He said, “They won’t give you an appointment when you apply online because they make money by giving appointments to those who have bribed them.

 

“Passport fee is 75 pounds but they will charge you between 300 and 700 pounds through the backdoor. I refused to pay, and I’ve since not been able to take my wife and three children to see my mum in Nigeria.

 

“I wanted to open a business account but because I’m not British yet, my nationality was required. The non-issuance of a passport to me has put the business I’m planning to do on hold. I’ve vowed not to bribe them because if I do so, I’ll be encouraging corruption. Sadly, other African nationals in England get their passports in a matter of days.”

 

Sharing his ordeal, another Nigerian, Mr Frederick Oluwole, who has lived in New York for over 30 years, said passport production at the Nigerian embassy in Manhattan was delayed because of lack of ‘nylon’ covering for passport pages.

 

Oluwole said, “They took my unsigned money order from me. They didn’t allow me to write my name on it. What they would later do is to write their own name on it and collect the money on the order, and pocket it.

 

“They talk down on you as if they’re doing you a favour. An official had to fly to Nigeria to bring common ‘nylon’ which could have been sent through courier.”

 

It’s the same hopeless song in Ottawa where the Nigerian embassy in Canada is located.

Narrating his nightmare, a Nigerian, Valentine Abiodun, disclosed that calls to the embassy were never picked.

“When someone eventually picked my call after weeks of calling, I told him I had been calling the embassy repeatedly, the officer said he travelled. I was shocked, and I told him the embassy wasn’t a private business that should be held up by an official.

“I told him I had sent in my passport for renewal. He told me they’ve not received it. Because I was tracking the passport, I told him who received it at the embassy.

“Then, he said I should call back. When I called back, he said he had seen it, adding that he would stamp and send it to me through mail. I said he shouldn’t. By 2am that night, I got a car and travelled down to Ottawa, getting to the embassy in the morning to pick my passport.”

A young Nigerian living in Mississauga, Ontario, Emmanuel Ogunlade, said he just received his renewed passport, which he had been processing since January 2020, two weeks ago.

Ogunlade said, “It was a terrible experience. I travelled to the Nigerian embassy, Ottawa, a journey of 427km, thrice after uncountable calls that were not answered before my passport was renewed even as I paid $23 twice for prepaid envelopes. They sent an email saying that they’ve sent my passport to me, but it was false. They later admitted they’ve not sent it.”

An anonymous female resident of Dubai said Nigerians now go to Abu Dhabi from Dubai to obtain their passports because of the hardship encountered at the Nigerian embassy in Dubai.

Uhhmm, Nigeria, under Buhari, is rich in corruption, home and abroad.

Sai chameleon!

(Concluded)

 

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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Opinion

Opinion: Nigerian embassies of shame (1) by Tunde Odesola

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 13, 2021)
Lacking the speed of the cheetah, the strength of the bull and the ferocity of the tiger, the chameleon, with its camouflage of many colours, tip-toes daily in cautious slow-motion, living on the wisdom of adaptive wits.
Appearing unconcerned, unpurposed and uninterested, the chief of stealth and the lord of disguise, the chameleon, is the cunning thief embroidering the environment in stolen identity. The chameleon is the motion without movement, the heat without temperature, the echo without sound.
For some, the chameleon is unbeautiful. Big bulging eyes above an endless mouth on an oblong head attached to a sickle body upon four wobbly legs define the chameleon and its clumsy tail.
The chameleon is seen in its slow and deceptive colours by the members of the Nigerian public, who daily come under the crunch of government insensitivity and ineptitude.
To this long-suffering group, the chameleon connotes arrested development, reward for corruption and a sense of entitlement by people in opportunistic leadership.
For some other group, however, the chameleon is swift, breathtaking and ubiquitous. This chameleon-is-fast group comprises political profiteers who sit magisterially by the public cauldron, dishing out the broth to relatives, friends and flunkeys, and smashing the plates of opposition with the ladle of vendetta.
In today’s narrative, I wish to be an unbiased mouthpiece for the group that sees the chameleon as faster-than-the-cheetah and the group that sees the chameleon as a moving statue. I’ll place side-by-side narratives from the members of the two groups, and leave the reader to judge.
Again, I promise not to be meddlesome. I won’t condemn, I won’t judge for I don’t want to be judged. I’ll simply state the narratives by the two groups, and leave the reader to fix the narratives in the proper boxes they belong. The boxes are two: chameleon-is-slow box and chameleon-is-fast box – truth versus lie.
After a 2-1 away victory over Cape Verde last week, the Nigeria Football Federation announced that Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, has hit a centenary in national colours, contrary to a report by The PUNCH, saying Musa had only played 98 times for the Eagles.
Characteristic of its past embarrassment of the nation, which saw the country fielding overage players in FIFA competitions and filing out for a match in makeshift jerseys, the NFF had counted for Musa a 3-0 friendly win against Togo in Paris, wherein both Nigeria and Togo made more than the regular number of changes, thereby making the match uncountable.
Also, the NFF recorded for Musa the 1-1 draw match against Algeria, in which Nigeria fielded an ineligible player, prompting FIFA to award the 2018 World Cup qualifying match to Algeria even as Nigeria had qualified for the World Cup before the tie.
Instead of the NFF to apologise to Nigerians for the national embarrassment, its chairman, Amaju Pinnick, said: “We have our own data and that is what we are using, even if it is 50 caps for the national team in a country where you have an abundance of talents.”
It took a statement from FIFA confirming that Musa had only played 98 times for the Eagles, and not 100, for Pinnick to eat the humble pie. In which box would you put Pinnick? Chameleon-is-slow box or chameleon-is-fast box?
A few days ago, a former Governor of Benue, George Akume, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to thoroughly investigate the incumbent Governor of Benue, Samuel Ortom, after Ortom berated President Muhammadu Buhari for keeping silent while Fulani herdsmen turned Benue into a killing field.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja, a few days ago, Akume said, “We call on Governor Samuel Ortom to tender an unreserved apology to President Muhammadu Buhari for using foul language and for operating outside the set rules of engagement between the state and the federal governments.
“We call on the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATE the application of the total federal allocations to Benue State from May 29, 2015 to date.”
In which box does Akume belong? In which box does Ortom belong? The chameleon-is-slow group or the chameleon-is-fast group? Remember, one group is telling the truth, the other isn’t.
Let’s step outside the shores of the country and head to the US, touching down at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC, where a Nigerian-American, Azuka Aghenu, narrated his ordeal in the hands of embassy staff.
“Another name for the Nigerian embassy in Washington DC is hell. They operate the embassy as if they’re in a secret cult or a black market,” Aghenu, who is a senior bank executive, said.
“The officials operate a coordinated syndicate that extorts Nigerians who come to renew or get fresh passports. They charge you $30 for a United States Priority Mail envelope that costs about $13 – depending on the state. They go to the post office and pack the envelopes free of charge, and take them to the embassy to sell to members of the public.
“They collect cash for the free envelopes but for the visa fees, you pay with your debit or credit card, which suggests that the fees you pay with your cards go into the government coffers while the fees paid for in cash are open to manipulation,” Aghenu said.
Alleging that the embassy was hot, unlit, shabby and not child-friendly, Aghenu said officials attended to applicants on a man-know-man basis, leaving applicants who had ‘no connection’ unattended to and frustrated.
Aghenu also alleged that applicants’ data were pulled up from a large hand-written register instead of a computer, stressing that applicants needed to grease the palms of officials for them to be attended to.
“If you don’t bribe or get a referral from a big man known to them, you won’t be allowed inside the embassy. When you’re inside, they will take you into an oven – a big room, no air conditioner, no light, it was dark, we saw by natural light, two standing fans were misting out water.
“They told us to come along with the photocopies of our documents. The question is, why can’t they pull up on a computer the info applicants filled online when applying for passports? Why do they have to rely on the applicants’ photocopies when they already have the information in their database? It means someone can show up and collect someone else’s passport,” Aghenu said, adding that the embassy operations were intermittently disrupted whenever the server feeding the embassy portal from Abuja was down.
Aghenu, who has been living in the US for over 30 years, revealed that more than 10 officials of the embassy went to the mosque for Jumat prayer during official hours.
In which box would you put Aghenu? Chameleon-is-slow box or chameleon-is-fast box? Do you think he’s telling the truth or is he lying?
Narrating her ordeal at the Nigerian Embassy in Atlanta, Georgia, another Nigerian-American, who lives in Illinois, Maria Reyes, (not real name), said months after filling her application online and getting an acknowledgement, all the calls she made to the embassy to book a date to come to the embassy were not picked.
Reyes said, “People came from various states, leaving their jobs, families, and risking their lives. I travelled down from Illinois. The place was like a hajj camp. The officials talked down on you; the whole place was hot.
“Eventually, I had to use the connection of a big man in Nigeria for them to attend to me. When I mentioned the big man’s name, I was allowed to go in. I went in and I was told to pay $133 apart from the $195 passport renewal fee. They said the $133 was the fee for appearing without an appointment. I paid because I came from outside Georgia and I had no place to sleep. The $195 charge was payable only through debit or credit card, but I was told I could pay the $133 charge in cash. I smelled a rat, so I opted to pay with my card. I think the $195 fee goes to the Nigerian government, I don’t know where the $133 fee goes,” Reyes said.
Explaining that an official of the embassy sells bank drafts and money orders to applicants right inside the embassy collecting cash, Reyes said the bank drafts and money orders should have been paid for with debit or credit cards in order to generate receipts and ensure proper accountability to the Federal Government.
(To be continued)
Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
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Twitter: @tunde_odesola
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Opinion: Buhari is worst president, Ortom is right, by Tunde Odesola

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, September 6, 2021)

Hooray! The leaves are falling! It’s autumn, the evening of the four seasons. Harvested crops and fruits, in baskets, are heading to barns from farms.

Winter, spring, summer and autumn. Each period of the season walks on three legs. December, January and February are the three legs of Winter, Spring springs on March, April and May; Summer walks in the sun of June, July and August while Autumn descends the stairs of the season into September, October and November.

Autumn is the birthing of the farmer’s long-planted seeds of hope, which undergo fertilisation and growth in spring, and maturation in summer. It’s the period when farmers reap the fruits of their labour. When sweat is sweet.

Autumn, aka Fall, is the period before winter which is the coldest of the seasons. And winter connotes nightfall or death when to sleep is to wake and to die is to live.

But autumn is not the period when Samuel Ortom, governor of Nigeria’s food basket, Benue State, should dare Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), a 78-year-old herdsman, whom he described as the worst leader ever when it comes to security, corruption, economy, human rights, press freedom and keeping promises.

Not a herdsman, Ortom, a governor and a rancher, made some of his bulky allegations in August. And as the allegations rage into autumn, Ortom has yet to renounce his heresy against Buhari, the great Fulani president.

Call it a jinx, I don’t care; August is never Buhari’s lucky month, it’s December, the month of his birth, when like Macbeth, ambition overtook him and he stabbed to death the democratically elected government of the late President Shehu Shagari, a fellow Fulani, in the final hours of December 31, 1983. Macbeth wasn’t lucky with August, either – he was killed on August 15, 1057.

Call it the height of cold-bloodedness, if you care; the bloodiest of Nigeria’s generals, Ibrahim Babangida, likewise, chose his birth month, August, to drive the dagger into the back of Buhari, his former boss, in a palace coup on August 27, 1985. Is there an art to find the mind’s construction on the face? I doubt it. But I know karma is consistent.

According to the Ortom of Benue, nothing good can ever come out of the Buhari regime in all the periods of the season – winter, spring, summer and autumn.

In August, Ortom said on Channels TV, “Mr President has a set mind. Mr President believes that for peace to reign in Nigeria, there must be open grazing, there must be provision for cattle routes…It is very clear that he (Buhari) wants to ‘Fulanise’ Nigeria. But he’s not the first Fulani president, (Shehu) Shagari was Fulani president, (Umaru) Yar’Adua was Fulani president, they were the best presidents in history, but President Buhari is the worst.”

There seems to be nothing august in August for Buhari. Reacting to the abduction of a major and the killing of two soldiers at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, in August, retired Navy Commodore Kunle Olawunmi, who described himself as a Professor of Global Security Studies, in an interview monitored on Channels Television, said known sponsors of Boko Haram live in Aso Rock.

He said, “Recently, 400 people were gathered as sponsors of Boko Haram. Why is it that the Buhari government has refused to try them? Why can’t this government bring them to trial if not that they are partisan and part of the charade that is going on?

“You remember this Boko Haram issue started in 2012 and I was in the Military Intelligence at that time. We arrested those people. My organisation actually conducted interrogation and they (suspects) mentioned names.

“I can’t come on air and start mentioning names of people that are presently in government that I know that the boys that we arrested mentioned. Some of them are governors now, some of them are in the Senate, some of them are in Aso Rock.

“Some people have the mindset to Islamise the nation and they are in government. The DSS knows them, the NIA knows them, the DIA knows them because it is the DIA that conducted the operations that arrested the (400) suspects.”

To whom much is given, much is expected. If a commoner like me know that August isn’t Buhari’s favourite month, why didn’t Ortom, a seasoned politician, and Olawunmi, the courageous navy commodore know? This is why I will depart, at this juncture, from Ortom and Olawunmi, and return my unalloyed allegiance to President Buhari, who is bigger than Nigeria’s Constitution.

If you think the President isn’t bigger than the country plus her Constitution, why was the Central Bank Act prohibiting the abuse of the naira suspended whenever Buhari’s children are wedding?

Even Buhari is bigger than religious laws. Or, why was the merciless-on-the-poor, acquiescing-to-rich Kano Islamic police, Hisbah, not at the wedding of the President’s son, Yusuf, to Zahra, the daughter of the Emir of Bichi, Nasir Ado Bayero, to arrest guests who wore outlawed haircuts such as Afro and mohawk?

Some of the great Hisbah police prescriptions for godly living include banning of lewd music, banning commercial motorcyclists from carrying two females at a time; banning of alcohol consumption, and banning boutiques from displaying clothes on full mannequins – you must remove the heads of the mannequins because they promote idolatry.

Many poor people have received varying degrees of punishments, including public shaving of hair and public flogging for contravening these paradise-seeking laws.

But the ears of Hisbah police were deaf to the lewd Naira Marley song, “I’m Coming,” sung at Yusuf’s wedding and its eyes were blind to the cleavage-revealing clothes worn by some female guests.

Did you see the video of the prodigal bus ride of Yusuf’s silver-spoon friends that attended the wedding, and the security around the bus?

Did you see the hysterical sons of Nigeria’s leaders donating naira and dollars worth over N500,000  to their bus driver, who was merely doing his work, even as they made a lousy show of it?

A particular scene in the viral video shocked me. Yes, e shock me. It was the handsome young man referred to as Osinbajo by his boisterous friends. He donated $100 on behalf of ‘me and my brothers in the South-West’. I ask, are the millions of unemployed graduates and touts  in the South-West part of the young Osinbajo’s brothers? There’s God o.

Did you notice the dexterity with which Osinbajo peeled a $100 bill from inside his bag with his two hands, a move suggesting that a lot of more dollars were still in the rich black bag.

I watched another viral video. This time, from Afghanistan. It taught a great lesson in integrity. It was the video of Afghanistan former Minister of Communications, Sayed Sadaat, who now delivers food on a bicycle in Germany.

Talking about his new job, the 49-year-old British-Afghan dual citizen said both his job as minister in Afghanistan and delivery man in Germany involved serving people.

Sadaat, who holds degrees in IT and  Telecommunications, and hopes to take up a job in the telecoms industry as soon as he learns basic German, said he was not ashamed of his current job.

Sadaat served for two years as minister, and voluntarily quit his post in 2020 because he didn’t want to soil his hands.

Explaining that he was proud of his new job, Sadaat said he could have made millions of dollars as minister.

“I could have bought buildings in Germany and hotels in Dubai, I wouldn’t have needed to work. But I’m proud that my soul is happy and I have nothing to be guilty (about). So, I’m doing an ordinary job. I hope other politicians also follow the same way to work with the public,” he told journalists.

May God bless Nigeria with leaders like Sadaat, amen.

 

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

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