Fashola’s eureka moment at Lekki tollgate – Newstrends
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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

The Israel of Shaitan – Femi Fani-Kayode

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The Israel of Shaitan – Femi Fani-Kayode

Whilst much of the world and most of America watched the superbowl the other night, the State of Israel was busy bombing and slaughtering the Christian and Muslim women and children of Rafah and its sprawling refugee camp in far away Gaza.

100 innocent and defenceless people were killed, most of whom were women and children, in the space of a few hours of relentless bombing.

Israel has expressed her intention to continue to bomb and unleash horror on Rafah despite the stern  warnings and desperate pleas from the rest of the world not to do so including her two greatest allies and closest friends, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

The Jewish state has murdered no less and probably far more than 35,000 Palestinian civilians in the last four months, 17,000 of whom are children, and injured over 100,000.

I am compelled and constrained by my faith and love for humanity to oppose and resist such a monstrous entity that is given to commiting such inhumane and genocidal crimes against my fellow human beings for WHATEVER reason and neither can I be expected to confer on it some far-fetched and illusionary notion of “the right to exist”.

Surely no country, particularly one which was artificially-created and which was built on the blood, sweat, suffering, toil, tears and bones of the Palestinian people like the Zionist state, has the right to exist.

The oppressor has no right to exist if that “right” entails cheating, pillaging, plundering, enslaving, murdering at will and occupying the land of the oppressed.

The usurper, the conqueror, the pillager, the rapist, the mass- murderer, the thief, the land-grabber, the ethnic cleanser, the butcher of the elderly and the murderer of women and children may have the weapons, wealth, international support, power, wherewithal and homicidal disposition to commit and get away with his horrendous crimes against humanity but he has no “right to exist” other than the one that he forcefully and erroneously appropriated and conferred upon himself.

He exists and commits such unspeakable atrocities only because he has the power to do so and to get away with them and not because he has any right to exist.

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Great nations and powerful empires come and great nations and powerful empires go.

That is the way of the world, it is inevitable and it is well reflected in history.

The Babylonian, Persian, Mongol, Ottoman, Roman, British, Spanish, Russian, Han and Greek empires collectively and respectively once ruled the civilised world and their power was deemed to be never-ending and irresistible but where are they today?

They had their time, sometimes stretching into hundreds of years, but eventually they crumbled and were compelled by the force of circumstances which were beyond their control to relinquish power, to leave the scene, to crumble and to eventually vanish into the night.

And in that crumbling their so-called “right to exist”  solely for the purpose of destroying, enslaving, subjugating and tormenting others disappeared into the night with them.

So it shall be for the Zionist state if she does not repent, go back to God and change her wicked ways.

Like Juilus Caesar she came, she saw and she conquered.

From the time that she was re-established 75 long years ago she boastfully flaunted her awesome power, magnificent glory, unprecedented excellence and stupendous wealth over much of the world and particularly over the Palestinian people.

Like the Virgin Daughter of Babylon who was graphically displayed and meticulously described in Isaiah 47 of the Holy Bible she loudly and boastfully proclaimed to the world and all that cared to listen that “I AM and there is none besides me!”

Yet despite her hubristic pride and vainglorious proclamations of invincibility it is self-evident to the discerning that with her blind, vengeful and savage rage, her unconciable lack of restraint and self-discipline, her inexplicable descent into madness and the abominable atrocities that she is committing in Gaza on a daily basis her cup is full and the Most High God has set His heart and the people of the world against her just as He did 2000 years ago after they murdered our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

He shall surely break her yoke, bring her to her knees, revoke her “right to exist”, scatter her to the four corners of the earth, compel her to vanish into the night and ensure that her insidious and perfidious intention to establish a “Greater Israel” whose borders stretch from Egypt to Iran crumbles and is blown away with the wind.

The Zionist state’s sole purpose of existence is to crush, conquer, enslave and exterminate the Palestinian people in their nefarious and sinister expansionist quest and to deny them what is rightfully theirs including their identity, their history, their heritage, their land, their dignity and their lives.

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Worse still they seek to achieve this with the full backing and blind support of a Biden-led United States of America that is simply incapable of any rational thinking or being impartial when it comes to this matter and that has wilfully shunned world opinion, given a thumbs up to genocide, supplied aid, arms, money, and material support to the ethnic cleansers, abandoned the cause of the Palestinian people and given their oppressors the right, the weaponry and the means to wipe them off the face of the earth.

Yet consider this.

No matter how powerful she deems herself to be the Jewish state has an Achilles heel and a soft and vulnerable underbelly and she will NEVER achieve these objectives.

More importantly in the fullness of time and in the process of trying she may well be totally crushed and removed from the map of the world.

This is because God alone rules in the affairs of men and He is just and true.

The Bible says He is slow to anger but irresistible in battle. His power is awesome, His majesty is irresistible and His justice is swift.

He is a man of war and as the Bible asks, “who can stand against Him?”

He contends against those who contend against us, He fights for the rights of the less privileged and the underdog and He rises in defence of the enslaved and the oppressed.

He removes mighty Kings from their thrones in the blink of an eye and He causes paupers, the rejected, the hated and the deprived to rise up in power and excel.

He is the father of the orphan and the husband of the widow.

He is the champion of the poor, the needy, the elderly and the defenceless infant and He is the avenger of our blood.

His name is the I Am That I Am, the Ancient of Days, the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, the Lamb of God, the Ressurected Messiah, the Coming King and the Lord God of Hosts and at the appropriate time He will honor His word and rise up for the occupied, the cheated, the subjugated, the humiliated, the denied, the oppressed and the enslaved and strike down their strong tormentor.

Simply put there is no place or space in todays world for the worst, most brazen, most primitive and most insidious form of racism, colonialism and fascism that today’s  Zionist State of Israel embodies, manifests and represents.

And neither does a vicious, relentless, barbaric, cruel, heartless and blood-lusting apartheid Jewish state which is led by evil men who have lost their sense of reason, their minds and their humanity and who behave in a worse manner than the wildest of beasts have a right to exist.

They LOST that right when they embarked on violating all international norms, laws and protocols and chose to target and kill Palestinian women and children for their sport and pleasure.

And the sordid and reckless friends and company that they keep do not help matters.

For example, egged in their insanity and to the brink of catastrophy by delusional clowns like the newly-elected Argentinian President who went to Israel a few days ago, wept at the praying wall in Jerusalem and proclaimed that the Jewish state should proceed to build the second Jewish Temple on the Al Aqsa mosque as soon as possible ignoring the fact that this would undoubtedly and instantly provoke millions of Muslims all over the world to violence, likely result in WW111 and probably end with the total and complete obliteration and annihilation of Israel, the Jewish state continues to wallow in her pitiful delusion of invincibility and infalliblity.

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I guess one cannot expect any better  counsel from a man who leads a Latin American country in which every single black person was wiped out, exterminated and eliminated at the outset on the grounds of not wanting their “beautiful” white bloodlines and unsullied Spanish heritage to be infiltrated, soiled, sulllied and diminished by the blood of the black African and which acted as a secure and valued safe haven for Hitler’s Nazis after World War 11.

With friends like President Javier Milei of Argentina the Jews do not need any enemies!

Surely this is not the Israel of King David, the greatest of all the Jewish Kings and a man who was described in the Holy Bible as being “a man after God’s heart”.

This is not the Israel of Prime Minister Golda Meir, who described herself as being first and foremost “a Palestinian”.

This is not the Israel of Prime Minister Yizthak Rabin who fought for peace with the Arabs and who was murdered by one of his own for doing so.

This is the Israel of Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu, a bloodthirsty, deluded and demonic meglomaniac and tyrant who is not a Jew in the true sense of the word but rather a bloodlusting and fascitic Nazi and flaming Zionist.

His is not the Ancient Israel of the Holy Bible which prided itself on decency, righteousness, the love and fear of God and justice but rather the Israel of the Rothchild family, the Israel of the Zionists and the Israel of shaitan.

His is not the Israel that is the beloved of the Lord and the apple of God’s eye but an Israel that does not know or recognise God and one that has no sense of decency, goodness, mercy and compassion.

His is not the Israel that is guarded jealousy by the Archangel Michael but rather an Israel that is led, guided, motivated and propelled by Beelzbub, Asmodeus and the principalities and demons of hell which seek to lead her to enmity with God and utter destruction.

Yet as insane and extreme as Netanyahu appears to be his bellicose disposition is nothing compared to the utter psychotic  and sociopathic depravity of some of his cabinet Ministers such as the far-right National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who said that the Palestinian people should be driven into the Sinai desert or into the sea and who suggested that the 2.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip should be displaced and scattered into 100 different countries at 25,000 Gazans per country or the Minister of National Heritage, Amihai Ben Eliyahu, who said that a nuclear bomb should be dropped on Gaza and that everyone in it, including the women and children, should be sent to an early grave!

If you think these outrageous submissions and nauseating contributions are, to say the least, shameful and unacceptable, I challenge you to listen to those that were made by some of Netanyahu’s other right wing Cabinet members such as the Minister of Intelligence, Gila Gamliel and the Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich.

Their views are truly beyond the pale and would make even Dr. Faustus’ demon, Mephistopheles, tremble.

Yet it doesn’t stop there. Worse of them all is a modern-day Jezebel by the name of Tally Gotliv who is an Israeli MP and who, just a few days ago on the floor of the Israeli Knesset, said that the war must continue in Gaza, there must be no ceasefire, the occupation must be sustained, the siege must not be lifted and the people of Gaza should not be allowed one drop of water or one morsel of food and instead must be “starved to death!”

This modern day harpy should have not been named Tally at all but rather Medusa the Gorgon or Cruella De Ville!

Does anyone still believe that these bestial creatures are God’s chosen people or some kind of star-studded master race?

They may be a chosen people but judging by their rhetoric, speech and actions they were not chosen by God but rather by the devil.

To talk about wiping out a whole race of people with nuclear weapons is, to say the least, cold-blooded and barbaric and it is the kind of rhetoric that Hitler’s Nazis indulged in.

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It has no place whatsoever in todays world and whether it comes from the Jews or anyone else we must condemn it in the strongest terms.

The State of Israel that I know, that I love, that I pray for everyday and that is eulogised, celebrated and  enunciated in the Holy Bible is not one and the same as the vile, callous, murderous, beastly, accursed and blood-drunk Zionist entity that is presided over by the creature called Bibi Netanyahu, that falsely and erroneously describes itself as Israel and that feeds and drinks on the blood, flesh, tears, misery and suffering of the Palestinian people.

The Israel of old that I knew and loved was a shining beacon of light, love, joy, hope and goodness to the world and to humanity and was truly a blessing to all but Netanyahu’s Israel is a curse to the world and is shrouded in perfidy, deceit, evil and darkness.

To those that still claim to love the Zionist state and who believe that they are above the law and can get away with anything I say this: search your conscience, find your humanity and always remember that God is fair and just.

He will never support or encourage the barbaric things that Israel is doing in Gaza and neither can there be any blessing in supporting it.

Be guided, be wise and never forget that every form of evil and oppression has an expiry date.

For the Palestinian people and indeed all those from all over the world that stand by them and that are weeping for them, the night may be dark but joy comes in the morning!

Permit me to end this contribution by sharing a little more about the nature, history, character and experiences of these beautiful Palestinian people that Israel wishes to remove from the records of history.

Ever since the people of Gaza voted for Hamas in a free and fair election in 2006 Israel turned their entire territory into the worlds largest and most horrifying concentration camp and open prison.

Right from the outset everything and everyone, including food, water, medical provisions, electricity and other essentials of life that went in and out of Gaza was controlled by the State of Israel.

All her borders were closed and no-one could go into or come out of the Strip without the permission of the Jewish authorities.

In addition to that no nation, corporation or individual from the international community was allowed to provide them with succour, aid or provisions without the permission of the Israelis which was almost impossible to get.

They were treated like caged rats and they were subjected to what can best be described as a military siege and blockade from the land, the sea and the air right from the outset whilst their people, including women and children, were systematically targeted for humiliation, slaughtered, butchered, tortured, maimed, abducted, raped and murdered by members of the Israeli Defence Force whose greatest claim to fame for the last 20 years is the ability not to fight and win wars against other standing armies successfully but to rape, pillage and slaughter innocent and defenceless Palestinian civilians including women and children.

Permit me to add the following which in my view serves as the ultimate indignity and humiliation.

As a matter of policy the Israelis do not return the bodies of any Palestinian, whether man, woman or child, that dies in their prisons.

If you are a Palestinian and you go to jail or are put in detention in Israel, if you die there you are NEVER going home to be buried and your loved ones will never see you or your body again.

You will be denied the normal burial writes which are accorded to every himan being and your body will be dropped in some filthy hole in the corner of some rat and cockroach infested Israeli jail like that of a stray dog!

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Farooq Kperogi: Tinubu’s accurate 12-year-old prediction on subsidy removal effects

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Farooq Kperogi

Farooq Kperogi: Tinubu’s accurate 12-year-old prediction on subsidy removal effects

On January 11, 2012, Bola Ahmed Tinubu published a sober, thoughtful, deeply insightful, and penetratingly foresightful article titled “Removal of Oil Subsidy: President Jonathan Breaks Social Contract With the People” that uncannily prefigured the untoward consequences of petrol subsidy removal that Nigerians are currently grappling with.

The article has trended on social media in the last couple of weeks, but I had never taken the trouble to read it until multiple people who I regard highly sent it to me in what seemed like a coordinated torrent of forwards.

But after reading the 4,000-plus-word article and finding out that it predicted the current petrol-subsidy-removal mass excruciation Nigeria is suffering with almost mathematical exactitude, I became suspicious of its authenticity. It was too good to be true.

My incredulity compelled me to make inquiries, which led me to realize that the Nigerian Tribune had actually fact-checked the genuineness of the article on May 31, 2023. It not only found that it wasn’t fake but also scanned and uploaded a printed copy of the article published in The Nation, Tinubu’s paper.

I encourage everyone to read it. In the article, Tinubu derided the 2012 removal of petrol subsidies as the “Jonathan tax,” and the following paragraphs are particularly noteworthy for the mysterious precision of their prescience:

“Government claims the subsidy removal will create jobs…. The stronger truth is that it will destroy more jobs than it creates. For every job it creates in the capital intensive petroleum sector, it will terminate several jobs in the rest of the labor intensive economy.

“Subsidy removal will increase costs across the board. However, salaries will not increase. This means demand for goods will lessen as will sales volumes and overall economic activity. The removal will have a recessionary impact on the economy as a whole. While some will benefit from the removal, most will experience setback.

“What is doubtless is that the Jonathan tax will increase the price of petrol, transportation and most consumer items. With fuel prices increasing twofold or more, transportation costs will roughly double. Prices of food staples will increase between 25-50 percent….

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“Most people’s incomes are low and stagnant. They have no way to augment revenue and little room to lower expenses for they know no luxuries; they are already tapped out. The only alternative they have is to fend as best they can, knowing they must somehow again subtract something from their already bare existence.

“There will be less food, less medicine, and less school across the land. More children will cry in hunger and more parents will cry at their children’s despair…. Poor and middle class consumers will spend the same amount to buy much less. The volume of economic activity will drop like a stone tossed from a high building. This means real levels of demand will sink.

“The middle class to which our small businessmen belong will find their profit margins squeezed because they will face higher costs and reduced sales volumes. These small firms employ vast numbers of Nigerians. They will be hard pressed to maintain current employment levels given the higher costs and lower revenues they will face.

“Because the middle class businessman will be pinched, those who depend on the businessmen for employment will be heavily pressed. States that earn significant revenue from internally generated funds will find their positions damaged. Internally generated revenue will decline because of the pressure on general economic activity. The Jonathan tax will push Nigeria toward an inflation-recession combination punch worse than the one that has Europe reeling.

“This tax has doomed Nigeria to extra hardship for years to come while the promised benefits of deregulation will never be substantially realized. People will starve and families crumble while federal officials praise themselves for ‘saving money.’ The purported savings amount to nothing more than an accounting entry on the government ledger board. They bear no indication of the real state of the economy or of the great harm done the people by this miserly step.”

Like I have done for years, Tinubu also fulminated against “European conservatives” whose economic prescriptions are at variance “with the needs of the Nigerian populace.” He even said something that is eerily close to what I wrote in a previous column. “There has been no nation on the face of the planet that has developed or achieved long-term prosperity by devotion to conservative, ultra-free market economic ideas that dominate this government,” he wrote.

“If no nation has grown using these conservative ideas,” he asked, why are we stuck with them? I have an answer, and it’s three-fold: sadly familiar Nigerian elite self-love, xenophilic obeisance to meanspirited racist wretches at the IMF/World Bank, and a visceral disdain and blithe unconcern for ordinary Nigerians.

Like Tinubu pointed out in 2012, the removal of petrol subsidies in 2023 merely took money from the so-called oil subsidy cabal and put it directly into the pockets of politicians without hurting the bottom line of the subsidy cabal. The cabal simply pushed the extra cost of importing petrol to consumers.

In the aftermath of the removal of subsidies, allocations to the three tiers of government rose by 29.05% in just six months. By the end of 2023, governments shared N15.1 trillion, which represented an increase of N3.4 trillion from 2022.

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Note that, according to the Punch of September 22, 2023, N3 trillion was budgeted for petrol subsidies from June 2022 to June 2023 (although it was N1.57 trillion in 2021 and N1.27 trillion from January to May 2022, indicating obvious fraud). In other words, the money that would have been used to keep the pump price of petrol at less than N200 per liter was simply shared between the presidency, governors, ministers, and the rest.

State governors now receive several folds more money than their normal monthly allocations without a corresponding increase in their expenditures. Because they have way more naira than they have use for (of course, they don’t care about the masses), they convert the extra naira into dollars, which contributes to the relentless depreciation of the naira, according to the BusinessDay of February 13.

In other words, to put it even more crudely, the masses and the economy benefited more from the corruption of the subsidy cabal than from what has replaced it since May 2023. But, as I pointed out earlier, the subsidy cabal isn’t hurt in the least by this change. Apart from pushing the cost of importation to consumers, they are now receiving subsidies through the backdoor to keep the price of petrol from climbing to over N1,000 a liter, which the IMF is now instructing Tinubu to stop.

The only losers are ordinary Nigerians, small businesses, the informal economy, and the manufacturing sector. After Tinubu said subsidies were gone in May 2023, the GDP of the transportation sector contracted by 50.64% in the second quarter of 2023 and by 35% in the third quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The road transport sector is the most reliable barometer to measure the health of commerce and of the informal economy in Nigeria. Petrol subsidy removal is killing it. A November 28, 2023, BusinessDay headline succinctly captures this: “Subsidy removal pushes transport industry into recession.”

My job as an inveterate opponent of subsidy withdrawal is made easier by the knowledge that Tinubu knows the truth. He knows for a fact that petrol subsidies are not a waste, especially if the corruption in the administration of subsidies is addressed. He knows that it’s an investment in the people and in the economy.

Petrol doesn’t just power the transportation sector, it’s also the main source of electricity generation for industries, small businesses, and the vast majority of our people. Given that Nigeria has the worst electricity generation record in West Africa (and possibly in Africa), it’s easy to see why a drastic rise in the cost of petrol activates an across-the-board cost-push inflation and deepens the misery index in the country.

Tinubu knows this but has chosen to care more for the validation of the sadistic bastards at the IMF and the World Bank than the comfort and wellbeing of his people.

There’s no doubt that it’s the IMF and its evil twin, the World Bank, that are ruling Nigeria. Tinubu’s government is just a proxy. For example, just two days after the IMF told Tinubu he must remove electricity subsidies (I had no clue such a thing existed given the unreliable electricity in Nigeria) Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu announced that the government would withdraw electricity subsidies.

The same IMF has also instructed that the surreptitious subsidies the Tinubu administration is paying to stop petrol prices from getting to—or even rising above— N1,000 a liter must be stopped. Get ready for another bumpy ride, Nigerians. Until half the country drops dead from starvation, the IMF, which is the real government in Nigeria, won’t rest. I can guarantee you that.

Farooq Kperogi: Tinubu’s accurate 12-year-old prediction on subsidy removal effects

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Jimi Solanke, Wasiu Ayinde and the cartoon called Nigeria

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Tunde Odesola

Jimi Solanke, Wasiu Ayinde and the cartoon called Nigeria

Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, February 16, 2024)

Aníkúlápó is the man who bears death in a pouch, not Jimi Solanke. Solanke knew a braggadocious name couldn’t stop death. So, when death came calling, Solanke followed it without fear. But Solanke wasn’t afraid of death, he was afraid of life – this he told me many years ago at the backstage of the Oduduwa Hall, Obafemi Awolowo Univerity, Ile Ife, when I sneaked up on him.

It is true, time is a virus that corrupts memory. Despite its limitation, however, memory remains nature’s hard disk embedded in the skull of every mortal. And, when I bolted from the Oduduwa Hall congregation – in pursuit of Solanke – to the backstage, I never knew my inquisitiveness would someday memorialise his memory.

I can’t remember the particulars of the event that was held in the architectural wonder called Oduduwa Hall many, many years ago. But I remember Baba Agba, as Uncle Jimi Solanke was popularly called, being the moderator of the event. As his baritone soaked the hall in honey, my mind journeyed down memory lane, marvelling at the lanky enigma before the audience – the great Jimi Solanke – world-class storyteller, actor, folklorist, singer, playwright, poet, dancer, guitarist, drummer, cultural aficionado and compere extraordinaire!

“Tunde, you must interview this wizard,” I told myself. So, I bided my time, looking for a break. My lucky break came when the session went on a break, and Baba Agba sauntered backstage. I sneaked away from my reporter colleagues, melted into the shuffling crowd, and went after him.

“Good morning, sir!” “Good morning, my dear,” he replied, the glint in his eyes was welcoming. Wow!! I couldn’t believe I was talking live with Mr Voice himself. My heart raced like a rabbit in a park. “My name is Tunde Odesola; I’m from PUNCH newspapers,” I identified myself. “Oh, PUNCH, that’s my paper,” he said. “Thank you, sir,” I gushed. “It’s a dream come true talking to you, sir.” He eyed me with his big eyes.

I didn’t bring out my tape recorder yet because I didn’t want him to see me as a bother. I continued, “I thought you came out to smoke, sir” “Oh, no! I quit smoking,” he said in his rich voice. “You quit? Why? Health reasons?” I fired a threesome.

“I’ll tell you the short story. Someone died in my family and relatives converged in my house to discuss the burial. I stepped out to smoke. When I stepped back into the house, it was as if I carried faeces with me into the house. Everyone turned their noses up, looking at me as though I was a strange object. I felt embarrassed. That wasn’t the first time I would step into a gathering after smoking a cigarette, and people would feel uneasy. To make people not feel awkward by my smoking, I decided to stop. They say smokers are liable to die young, I’m no longer young, 70 is around the corner,” he said with a grin.

No matter the manner of death that kills the elderly, his cranium won’t vanish; kò sí ikú tí yíò pa àgbàlagbà, tí a ò ní bá poolo orí è. This proverb means no matter the situation, the elderly must speak the truth at all times, without fear. Solanke exemplified the letters and spirit of this proverb through his art.

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There, at the backstage of Oduduwa Hall, Solanke wasn’t afraid of telling me the truth about his struggles with smoking, he wasn’t afraid of facing the challenge too. Solanke is the citizen Nigeria desires but does not deserve.

The same thing cannot be said of Fuji music maestro, Alhaji Wasiu Ayinde, aka K1 De Ultimate. Wasiu is far beneath the league of Solanke and his kindred, Tunji Oyelana. Wasiu is the citizen Nigeria desirously deserves – tribalistic, selfish, ignorantly endowed and materialistic. The Nigerian citizen epitomised by Wasiu sees music as a means to a cash-and-carry end and not a selfless tool for social change.

In the heat of the economic hardship suffered by Nigerians during the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, Wasiu, in 2006, lifted his voice up to God, singing unto Him to eclipse Obasanjo, “Ba wa mu baba kuro..” But Wasiu’s tongue appeared super-glued to his palate and his ears stuffed with palm oil wool when the herdsman, General Muhammadu Buhari, misruled the country for 8 years as he didn’t give Buhari, who’s the worst Nigerian leader ever, the same treatment he gave Obasanjo.

Wasiu has kept a deafening silence since the economy further nosedived after his tin god, President Bola Tinubu, assumed power in 2023. In societies emancipated from mental slavery, Wasiu’s action would’ve been met with a backlash that would affect his musical image and fortunes, but Nigeria is Babel, where the Toad’s croaking is music to the ears.

Did Solanke love children? No. He worshipped them. He dedicated his life of storytelling to them. In his programme, Story Land, Solanke would dance like a five-year-old, giggle like a preteen on his first excursion, and yet pass across his teachings with the charm of sage. Oh, how I love him!

Solanke saw the wicked world through the innocent eyes of the child and armed himself with a paddle strong enough to steer his canoe, singing on his earthly journey his songs of wisdom that include Baba Agba, Onile Gogoro, Eje ka jo, Jenrokan, Na Today You Come, among others.

Since he travelled to America after graduating from the Theatre Arts Department of the University of Ibadan in 1969, before his eventual return to Nigeria in 1986, Solanke produced many albums such as In the Beginning, Ase, Orin Orisa, Storyteller, America Has Got Magic, Multiplicity of Praise, Hidden Gold, Once Upon a Time, among others. Gesamtkunstwerk is a German word that means total art. Solanke was a Total Man, who practised Total Art, giving his totality to his art.

That was why Solanke, the voice of the narrator in the Nollywood blockbuster, Jagunjagun, was ever happy, contented and respectable. That was why he was never a servant at Bourdillon. However, this is not to say Wasiu has no class at all. Wasiu has his own class and remains a savant of Fuji, with great hits under his belt. But when compared with Solanke, shoe get size.

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At this juncture, I want to wear the Solankean robe and see the world through the eyes of a friend’s 11-year-old child. ’Busola Durojaiye was a younger colleague in the pen-pushing profession. She distinguished herself at the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, Osogbo, in the early 2000. She has a good grasp of the sociopolitical and economic situation of Nigeria, making her my go-to person on Nigerian gists.

Last week, our talk centred on the exorbitant prices of foods, goods and services across the country. ’Busola has a wicked sense of humour. “Ara n kan everybody ni Nigeria o, everybody is touchy. Everybody is sick. Even ‘your’ daughter (name withheld) is sick,” she said. “Ha, kilo se, what’s she sick of,” I asked, worried.

“On Saturday, her boarding school housemistress called, saying Angel (not her real name) was sick with fever. The housemistress said she had been taken to the hospital for a Widal Test, whose result was being expected. I told the housemistress to give the phone to Angel,” ’Busola explained.

“When Angel came online, she said she had a high fever. Orí mi kó kó fò lo ná; I was alarmed. High fever ke? Angel said she wasn’t the only one having a high fever in the school. She said about 12 students were affected, including two of her close friends, Dab and OmoT (real names withheld). Then, in a conspiratorial tone, she said, ‘The doctor and nurse said I have no blood at all’.

“I asked her if the doctor and the nurse told the housemistress about her having no blood at all. She said no. She said the doctor and the nurse confided in her only. Angel then told me she knew the remedy to her acute blood shortage. She listed the remedy to include malt drink, ice cream and jollof rice from a particular restaurant. I told her it was blood that she needed, but she said ice cream, malt drink and jollof rice produce better blood. She said students, including her two friends, whose parents had sent money for the cure, were already getting well.

Mother sent N11,000 to daughter’s housemistress for the cure of blood shortage. When mom called the next day, Angel’s voice was clearer. “How are you feeling now, Angel?” mother asked. “Blood is returning to my body now,” she said. “How did you know blood is returning to your body,” mother queried. “I can feel it in my system,” daughter answered.

Solanke understood the ways of children. He must have loved cartoons, too. Nigeria is a huge cartoon; a cruel, unfunny joke, yoking the storyteller and his audience. At 63, Nigeria remains a child, its spine cracked by corruption, nepotism and evil leadership.

When will blood return to the veins and arteries of Nigeria? When, I ask?

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @Tunde Odesola

X: @Tunde_Odesola

Jimi Solanke, Wasiu Ayinde and the cartoon called Nigeria

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