APC digging its own grave in Edo - Azu Ishiekwene – Newstrends
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APC digging its own grave in Edo – Azu Ishiekwene

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Azubuike Ishiekwene

APC digging its own grave in Edo – Azu Ishiekwene

Nigeria’s politicians have perfected the art of burying themselves with one foot sticking out. And it appears that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will, once again, stage this rite of self-destruction in the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State.

The party’s primaries on Saturday was such a shambles, it has now been forced to conduct it again, with no guarantee of a sensible outcome for an exercise involving perhaps less than 500,000 members (parties routinely inflate their roll). If Governor Godwin Obaseki’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had paid to put a spell on APC, the outcome would not have been more potentially devastating.

Yet, this is a governor whose bet to install a successor from his own party is not necessarily based on his own record, but on the gift of an opposition in disarray.

After the turbulent last four years at Osadebey House between Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, it looked all but certain that the divided house of PDP would collapse when elections hold again in September.

And this was not wishful thinking. Not only has the common political front that paved the way for Obaseki’s ascension to power in his first term eroded; in his second term, he has been fighting both internal and external political enemies, severely limiting his attention and performance.

If his first term was uneventful, it was precisely because that was when the seed of the state’s future political crisis was sown. Even though his benefactor, former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, had installed him in office in the hope of replicating the Tinubu-Fashola model in Lagos, Obaseki had other plans.

The new “tuke-tuke”

Once he was ensconced in office, he made a point of telling the remnant of the Oshiomhole crowd still hanging around the corridors of power, that power had changed hands. No longer, he reportedly said, were the days of “tuke-tuke” politics, a carryover from the era of Tony Anenih, which former Edo State Commissioner for Information and presidential aide, Louis Odion, once described in Louis-pedia as a political variant that empowered touts and prioritised rent for politicians for doing little or no work.

Obaseki, the blue-eyed Lagos Boy and financial consultant, advertised as the answer to Edo State’s private sector woes, should know. He was a core member of Oshiomhole’s cabinet, now determined to carve his own path.

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When after taking power, however, he began to cut off the supply line to the trough, starving the APC’s political structure in the state of nutrition, the battle line with Oshiomhole was drawn. The former governor who had also become the Chairman of the APC at the time, used his position to block Obaseki from getting the party’s ticket for a second term.

Obaseki of course milked public sympathy and later decamped to the PDP where he contested and won re-election. As a result of his defection, he governed with a hostile, hobbled parliament. Fourteen – and later 10 – out of the 24 members of the State House of Assembly were in the opposition and they operated mostly from a hideout provided in Abuja by Oshiomhole.

Significantly damaged in legitimacy, there was very little Obaseki could do. He has spent a greater part of the last four years watching his back for a deputy who, were he in the opposition, could not have plunged more daggers in the government’s back.

Residents have borne the brunt. Not only has Obaseki replaced the old cult of “tuke-tuke” with the new cult of “yes-men,” reports from the state also indicate that there are few paved roads and other social infrastructure such as water, hospitals, and schools, especially in areas outside the capital, Benin City.

The more you look…

Not unlike a good number of the states, the doubling of the state’s internally generated revenue from N1.8billion monthly in 2016 has barely been felt in rural areas where homes are still without water and school buildings are still largely without roofs and students without teachers.

Although Edo is currently ranked above its peers in the South-South poverty league with 1.4m (out of the state’s 3.9m population) living in multidimensional poverty, a government determined to make its mark could have done far more to lift the people.

Obaseki has done well in cultivating an elite in smart suits, while keeping up a façade of performance, especially with high-profile media events like Edo Best, Alaghodaro Summit, and the renovation of the Secretariat. But as surely as the ball of pounded yam never fails to press into the straying fish crumb in the soup, these projects have been criticised, particularly by the opposition, as the government’s conduit pipes.

Edo could not have been riper for the taking than in its present state, but Oshiomhole’s ambition may well be the wrecking ball. In my forecast entitled, “What you might expect in 2024,” published last December 28, I said, “The biggest danger to APC’s victory is Oshiomhole…except the APC finds an overwhelmingly appealing candidate, the party could be in for a surprise.”

The result of the party’s “inconclusive” primaries on Saturday, showed that the surprise came early. From reports, Oshiomhole, APC’s certified nemesis in Edo, managed to suborn forces in the Presidency to hand over the party’s flag to Dennis Idahosa – a candidate that Oshiomhole’s government had once described as “untrustworthy,” the most flattering of the government’s description at that time.

But suspects have their moments of redemption. Except that in this case reports on the conduct of the primaries on Saturday showed that even the redeemer seemed so far gone in his waywardness, he suborned not only Abuja, but also one of the most notorious political conductors to supervise the primaries.

A crime scene

The result, of course, was parallel primaries. One with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officers present – as it should be – that produced Monday Okpebholo; and the other, which invariably produced Idahosa, became a crime scene.

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The outcome was neither organised, even from the point of a common heist, which it was; nor was it politically strategic. Idahosa, the beneficiary of that crime scene, is from Edo South, where Obaseki, who is backing Asue Ighodalo, a candidate from Edo Central, could significantly undermine APC’s votes. A third candidate, Anamero Dekeri, even emerged from the woodwork, to claim victory!

It’s true that whether a political party holds its primaries in the motor park or at a brothel, it is not the business of non-party members. The point, unfortunately, is that we have seen that in the end, voters pay for the travesty, corruption and incompetence in the parties.

APC should have learnt that lesson in Zamfara four years ago when a court ruling invalidated the entire state election over shambolic party primaries, never mind a recent Supreme Court ruling that has further muddied the waters.

At elections, voters often have uninspiring choices – Tweedle-dee and Tweedledum – inflicted on them by party primaries that were anything but primaries. The crimes committed by politicians behind closed doors soon become public bastards, often leading to voter apathy, bitter wranglings or needless court disputes. It’s incredible that parties that can’t even manage their own affairs want a chance on the bigger stage.

PDP may laugh – and indeed it should, as it appears that the APC has already handed it the shovel to finish off the burial rites. But with Obaseki’s deputy, Shaibu, threatening to bring down the roof, it would be interesting to see how the PDP and the Labour Party, which is also having its own troubles, organise their own primaries.

If Nigeria’s elections – party, local council, state or federal – has taught anything, it is that as surely as a stumble precedes a fall, shambolic primaries lay the foundation for turbulent electoral outcomes and unstable governments.

Once again, Edo is proving that the story is not about to change.

… Azubuike Ishiekwene is the Senior Vice Chairman and Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP Newspaper Group. NNL.

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The real reason government went after Bobrisky – Reno Omokri

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Idris Okuneye, better known as Bobrisky

The real reason government went after Bobrisky – Reno Omokri

What happened with Bobrisky just shows you the savviness of Nigeria compared to other nations and the intellectual response to governing on display by the current administration.

The Nigerian government obviously wanted to clamp down on the trending cross-dressing culture in Nigeria. But the government was also aware of the fact that any direct move in that regard would earn it the whip of the Western powers.

And being that our economy is only just improving after eight years of General Buhari’s wasteful locust years, Nigeria could not place itself in the position that Ghana now is.

On Wednesday, February 28, 2024, Ghana’s parliament passed legislation cracking down on LGBTQ rights, of which a significant aspect of that law addresses the issue of cross-dressing.

Perhaps the most powerful bloc in liberal America and the UK is the LGBTQ community, and their pushback against Ghana was quick and with a stick. The alacrity of response was not treated with temerity in Ghana. Within days, it was announced that if the Ghanaian President signed that law, the World Bank would have to reconsider a $3.8 billion loan to Ghana.

That announcement made the Ghanaian President turn blind, as Nana Akufo-Addo was quoted as saying that he had not yet seen the law on his desk, therefore, he could not sign it.

Three months after its passage, President Nana Akufo-Addo still has not seen the law. Maybe JAMB sent a Nigerian snake to eat the law!

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In case you ever wondered why President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron moved against then-President Jonathan and, in an unprecedented manner, worked against his re-election in 2015, do note that it was because, on Monday, January 13, 2014, Dr. Jonathan signed a law criminalising same-sex relationships and its appurtenances.

General Buhari’s handlers were competent. They immediately hired the same guy advising both Obama and the LGBTQ movement in America-David Axelrod. They passed the word that if Buhari were supported to be President by the Western powers, he would frustrate the anti gay marriage las that their enemy, Jonathan, signed.

In my book, Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years, I provide proof of this.

So, the Tinubu administration was in a dilemma. How to deal with Bobrisky for being a cross-dresser but not to make it about his being a cross-dresser. And this is where you have to respect the subtlety of the Tinubu administration. They found a way, a creative genius way.

Bobrisky violated a law against the abuse of the Naira. That is why a first-time offender committed an offence that even government officials engaged in during Buhari’s son’s wedding, and, despite pleading guilty, was sentenced to six months in prison.

In fact, there is more video evidence of Naira abuse via spraying at the wedding of no less a person than Abdul Aziz Malami, the son of Abubakar Malami (SAN), Nigeria’s Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

And the scapegoating of Bobrisky has worked. Since his arrest, have you seen any of his ‘colleagues’ prancing about?

We used to see them almost daily on blogs and social media. The traditional media, too, could not have enough of them. They got the memo. They have run for cover since Chairwoman answered to the gender of male in court, when asked to state ‘her’ gender.

The Tinubu administration has just shown that there are more ways than one to skin a cat. And you can choose a way that will not bring you negative attention.

Now, cross-dressing will be on the wane, and Nigeria will not suffer any economic sanctions or diplomatic repercussions, as has happened to Uganda and Hungary.

The real reason government went after Bobrisky – Reno Omokri

Reno Omokri

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BBC, Betta Edu, and ministry of corruption – Farooq Kperogi

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Farooq Kperogi

BBC, Betta Edu, and ministry of corruption – Farooq Kperogi

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) aroused the rage of Nigerians this week when it revealed in its periodic newsletter called “EFCC Alert” (which it shared with news organizations on Monday) that it had recovered up to 30 billion naira of the money allegedly stolen by suspended Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation minister Betta Edu.

The rage wasn’t directed at the EFCC, of course. It was directed at Betta Edu for the deficiency of morality it must take for her to steal that much money in just six months of being a minister. The rage also comes from people’s extrapolation of how much unconscionable theft of our public wealth must be going on in this administration undetected.

What sort of moral climate conduces to such stratospheric pillaging of the public till without a tinge of compunction or fear of consequences?

Just when Nigerians were roiling in the storm of EFCC’s revelations, Edu’s lawyers denied them and threatened to sue the BBC for publishing them, even though scores of news outlets also published the same story.

Her lawyers allege that the story about the recovery of N30 billion from her and the investigation of 50 banks connected to her, which we read in several legacy and digital-native news outlets, was repurposed from the BBC.

Well, that’s not accurate. As I indicated earlier, EFCC’s bulletin, called the “EFCC Alert,” is the source of the story, and it was shared with multiple news organizations, including the BBC.

If the information about the extortionate amount of money allegedly recovered from Edu is false, the blame for this should go to the EFCC, not the BBC—or, for that matter, any news site.

In order to write this column, I searched for the EFCC Alert to see what exactly it contains. I would have reached the same conclusions about Betta Edu as the BBC and other news organizations did if I were still in the news business.

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Here’s the original, verbatim wording from the “EFCC Alert” that informed the BBC story:

“Update on Betta Edu investigation. We have laws and regulations guiding our investigations. Nigerians will also know that they are already on suspension, and this is based on the investigations we have done, and President Bola Tinubu has proved to Nigerians that he is ready to fight corruption.

“Moreover, concerning this particular case, we have recovered over N30 billion, which is already in the coffers of the Federal Government.

“It takes time to conclude investigations; we started this matter less than six weeks ago. Some cases take years to investigate. There are so many angles to it, and we need to follow through with some of the discoveries that we have seen. Nigerians should give us time on this matter; we have professionals on this case, and they need to do things right. There are so many leads here and there.

“As it is now, we are investigating over 50 bank accounts that we have traced money into. That is no child’s play. That’s a big deal. Then you ask about my staff strength.

“And again, we have thousands of other cases that we are working on. Nigerians have seen the impact of what we have done so far, by way of some people being placed on suspension and by way of the recoveries that we have made. You have seen that the programme itself has been suspended. We are exploring so many discoveries that we have stumbled upon in our investigation.

“If it is about seeing people in jail, well, let them wait. Everything has a process to follow. So Nigerians should wait and give us the benefit of the doubt.”

It’s entirely possible that the EFCC meant that in the past six weeks, it has recovered 30 billion naira from multiple corruption cases of which Betta Edu’s is one. There are many clues to that in the “alert.” Perhaps the EFCC chairman has challenges with articulate, elegant, and clear communication in the English language.

However, in the absence of any countervailing facts, it’s reasonable to assume that the EFCC Alert meant that 30 billion naira was recovered from Betta Edu and that more than 50 bank accounts belonging to her are being investigated.

After all, the title of the bulletin is “Update on Betta Edu.” It also talks of “suspension” (and Edu is the only public official we know of that is on suspension on account of corruption), although it uses the pronoun “they” to refer to the subject of suspension, implying that it could be more than one person.

Nonetheless, in referencing the recovery of 30 billion naira, the EFCC Alert talks about “this particular case”; it doesn’t say “these particular cases.” So, it’s wholly within the bounds of reason to conclude that “this particular case” refers to the title of the news bulletin: “Update on Betta Edu investigation.”

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I hope the EFCC will clarify this issue for us—and, of course, be more careful in its public communication in future.

But it doesn’t really matter if Betta stole 30 billion naira in six months and salted away money in 50 bank accounts. The truth is that the ministry she supervised is a cesspool of some of the most fetid and audacious corruption that Nigeria has ever seen since the restoration of civilian rule in 1999.

Right from its inception, it was conceived as the hotbed of graft, as the featherbed of in-your-face venality. Its origins are traceable to the Muhammadu Buhar regime’s National Social Investment Program (NSIP), which was conceived to putatively contain poverty and deprivation in Nigeria.

NSIP had within it such programs as the N-Power Program, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Program (NHGSFP), the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP), which is made up of the MarketMoni, FarmerMoni, and TraderMoni schemes.

Former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo headed NSIP. But the Buhari cabal later realized that NSIP was a prolific cash cow that lined several pockets and missed its supposed targets. I was one of the earliest people approached to expose what the cabal was convinced was humongous corruption in the NSIP that ran into tens of billions of naira—complete with what seems like fool-proof documentary evidence.

As I said at the time, I refused to be used to amplify the internal discord of the common oppressors of the Nigerian people. When Osinbajo was using TraderMoni to induce poor people to vote for Buhari, the cabal had no problem. They only discovered his “corruption” after the fact.

So, they reached out to other fringe sources and figures to give publicity to the corruption in NSIP, which caused Osinbajo to threaten to sue a whole bunch of people. They achieved their aim of calling attention to the rot in NSIP, which justified taking it away from the vice president’s office and constituting it as a separate ministry.

Thus, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was born. The Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration renamed it as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

Because it was conceived in corruption, born in more corruption, and nourished in even more corruption, it can’t be anything but corrupt. It has become the poster child for bizarre, eye-watering, consequence-free corruption.

Recall that on April 10, 2020, Maryam Uwais, then Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, (allegedly) told Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily program that she couldn’t account for the billions that she and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs putatively gave to weak, poor, and vulnerable Nigerians to ease the hurt of the coronavirus pandemic because, “Those who benefit from the conditional cash transfer of the Federal Government as palliative to cushion the effects of the lockdown caused by the deadly Coronavirus don’t want to be addressed as poor people. That is why we can’t publish their names.”

For her part, Sadiya Umar Farouq, Uwais’ superior, turned heads when she (allegedly) said she expended billions to feed schoolkids who weren’t in school because of COVI-19. Betta Edu was merely walking a well-trodden path in the ministry.

If Tinubu wants to be taken seriously, he should not only outright terminate Edu’s appointment as a minister, but he should also scrap the entire ministry she heads. That ministry has no reason to exist.

BBC, Betta Edu, and ministry of corruption – Farooq Kperogi

Farooq Kperogi is a renowned Nigerian newspaper columnist and United States – based Professor of Media Studies.

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Wasiu Ayinde, Bobrisky and the Nigerian Army (2)

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Wasiu Ayinde, Bobrisky and the Nigerian Army (2)

Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, April 12, 2024)

In this day and age of social media, journalism, one of the few fearless professions, treats soft news with almost the same attention it treats hard news. According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, hard news refers to stories that are usually timely, important and consequential, such as politics, international affairs and business news. Soft news, on the other hand, includes entertainment, celebrity, and lifestyle stories.

Depending on their house styles, which are the rules guiding their news presentation, most media organisations across the country combine hard and soft news in varying proportions to reflect their mission and market.

Daily, serious dailies conduct editorial conferences to analyse and determine the news content for publication. One day, in one of such conferences in my newspaper office, talks centred around homosexuality. The newspaper’s Executive Director posed a question to editors at the conference: “Which one can you deal with: lesbians or gays?”

The majority of the editors at the conference said they could deal with lesbians much more than they could deal with gays. The editors agreed that cuddling, necking and pecking were synonymous with feminine cravings for TLC – tender, loving, care – an agelong potion which most women, especially lesbians seek with their partners. Notably, the editors didn’t see sex by lesbians as an abhorrent intrusion of the female genitals in the same way they saw the intrusion of the anal orifice in gay sex.

It’s, therefore, not a misrepresentation to say that the conference frowned on lesbians but scowled at gays.

The executive director later asked why lesbian practice got a frown and gay practice got a scowl. Offering different perspectives, editors at the editorial conference seemed not to view lesbianism with as much the same revulsion as they view gay practice. “Why?” the executive director asked. With scowls burrowing deeper on their faces, many of the editors submitted that gay practice was an intolerable violation of human anatomy. ‘Ayanma!’ ‘Tufiakwa!’ ‘God forbid!’ were some of the words that revealed the disgust the male-dominated gathering had for gays. Why do heterosexual men see lesbianism as a tolerable sin and consider gay practice as an intolerable sin?

Idris Olanrewaju Okuneye is a 33-year-old Nigeria biological male, who identifies as a woman. Okuneye, aka Bobrisky, calls herself the ‘Mummy of Lagos’, and goes about town wearing lavish (wo)manicure, peIDIcure, female clothes, shoes and accessories. Modern thesaurus minted new names for Bobrisky and her fellow risky boys. The names include cross-dresser, transvestite, ladyboy, drag queen, trannie, female impersonator etc. Bobrisky only openly identifies as a crossdresser and not as a gay or lesbian, with both practices and all shades of LGBTQIA outlawed in the country.

About three years ago, Bobrisky went under the knife and emerged with enhanced breasts but her big shoulders, square jaws and masculine neckline suggest that Idris’ anatomy remains a work in progress; a clay in the hands of her moulders. The medical risks involved in the creation of Bobrisky by surgeons imply she cannot be made in one day like God made Adam and Eve – without silicone implants, without cutting, grafting, puffing and patching.

Wahala! Wahala! Wahala! Wahala! Troublemaking is the oxygen of Nigeria’s reigning Most Controversial Musician, Habeeb Okikiola, aka Portable. A few days ago, Portable, the Ika of Africa (Africa’s Most Wicked), carried his portmanteau of wickedness to the house of Bobrisky after she was declared the Best Dressed Female at the premiere of a movie, Ajakaju, the Beast of Two Worlds. Bobrisky didn’t see what was coming when she called out Portable for criticising the female award given to her.

The self-styled Ika of Africa ran to the studio and came out with a monster hit titled Brotherhood, a song that tore Bobrisky apart. A few days after the musical dismantling of Bobrisky, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission paraded the Mummy of Lagos for serial mutilation of Nigeria’s currencies at parties. Watching the sober Bobrisky at the EFCC Office, without makeup, was like watching the shed skin of a snake. Seeing Bobrisky’s EFCC mugshot displaying her four-inch fingernails must have been a sad display for Nigerians with queer sexuality. But it also offered a peep into how the Nigerian society views the encouragement by the United States of America for Nigeria to hop on the LGBTQIA train.

Decency forbids me from mentioning the unprintable names Portable employed in describing Bobrisky’s buttocks, but I advise Bobrisky to quickly ramp up her rump and put Portable to shame for comparing her expensive backside with akpu. In the musical eyes of Portable, the backside of Bobrisky doesn’t correspond with her voluminous upper body. To avoid being body-shamed by cynics like Portable, Bobrisky should, please, embark on a yansh shoot to wow Portable and her long list of clientele.

But I utterly disagree with the position of the Nigeria Police Force for saying its hands are tied on the sexuality of Bobrisky. In the wake of the reactions generated by the Ajakaju premiere and the Brotherhood song, the NPF said there was no Nigerian law forbidding cross-dressing. This position of the police is shallow and capable of causing the breakdown of law and order. The position protects only Bobrisky and his ilk, exposing the larger Nigerian populace to danger. The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, a gentleman and friend, revealed the position of the police on Bobrisky in an interview.

With about 2,400 fitness gyms, US-headquartered fitness group, Planet Fitness Inc., is one of the largest fitness club franchises in the world. On March 21, 2024, the stocks of Planet Fitness lost $400m in valuation after the company revoked an American woman’s membership for snapping photos of a transgender woman, who was biologically male, shaving in a women’s locker room of Planet Fitness in Alaska.

Reports by Daily Mail, Fox Business, New York Post, and Newsweek, among other news outlets, said Patricia Silva, a white Alaskan woman was shocked to see a transgender woman shaving in the locker room while a preteen girl, who had come to use the locker room, watched in horror.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Planet Fitness Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, McCall Gosselin, said Silva violated the company’s policy on gender identity. Gosselin said, “As the home of the Judgement Free Zone, Planet Fitness is committed to creating an inclusive environment. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use the gym facilities that best align with their sincere, self-reported gender identity. The member (Silva) who posted on social media violated our mobile device policy that prohibits taking photos of individuals in the locker room, which resulted in their membership being terminated.”

But Silva said, “There was “a little girl sitting in the corner. She could have been [12 years old] … in a towel kind of freaked out. ​​I was offended, I took a picture of him.”

If the Nigeria Police Force subjected the Bobrisky issue to deep thought, it should have invited her with a view to determining her real sexuality so that the vagueness conferred on her sexuality by cross-dressing would be cleared. How would male and female police officers feel if Bobrisky appeared in their toilets? How would parents feel to have a Bobrisky in the same bathroom with their children? If there’s no law that prohibits Bobrisky from being a crossdresser, the police should, at least, ensure the safety of Nigerians using public toilets by protecting them from men who pose as crossdressers but have ulterior motives to hurt children and women, especially. This is why the need to determine Bobrisky’s real sexuality is a cause for public concern.

To be continued.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola
X: @Tunde_Odesola

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