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Otedola: IBB asked Jonathan to sit on Yar’Adua’s chair and take charge

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Femi Otedola, billionaire businessman, has narrated how Ibrahim Babangida, former head of state, encouraged ex-President Goodluck Jonathan to sit in the vacant chair of his predecessor, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, during a federal executive council (FEC) meeting.

 

In 2009, when the late Yar’Adua travelled abroad for medical treatment, he failed to hand over power to Jonathan, his vice-president at the time.

 

His long absence had sparked a constitutional crisis and created a power vacuum which resulted in a campaign for Jonathan to take charge of the country.

 

Amid the agitation which shook the country between late 2009 and early 2010, Otedola said Babangida — who marks his 80th birthday on August 17, 2021 — sent a message through him to Jonathan.

 

The businessman made the disclosure in his forthcoming book on business lessons which will be released before the end of 2021.

 

“Worried by the tension and uncertainty, I decided to do something on my own,” Otedola wrote.

 

“In the first week of February 2010, I went to Minna, Niger state, along with Hajia Bola Shagaya, to commiserate with General Ibrahim Babangida over the death of his wife, Maryam.

 

“At his Hilltop residence, we spoke on a wide range of issues, but I told him I needed to discuss an urgent and vital issue. He took me to his study, where two of us were alone. I told him that the state of the nation had been agitating my mind.”

 

Otedola said during the conversation, he put a question to Babangida on the political crisis in the country: “Your Excellency, how can we get out of this logjam? The political heat is too much.”

 

He quoted the former head of state as saying: “Femi, advise your friend that when he gets to the Council Chambers next week for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, he should go and sit on Yar’Adua’s chair.”

 

Otedola added: “I found that fascinating and assured him I would pass the message across. I travelled back to Abuja by road in the evening and went straight to have dinner with Dr Jonathan. I did not waste time in delivering General Babangida’s message to him.

 

“He nodded and asked me, ‘What do you think?’

 

“I laughed and said, ‘Be a man, Your Excellency. Go and sit on that chair!’

 

“He looked at me for some time and responded that he would think about it.

 

“A week later, on Tuesday, February 9, the National Assembly adopted the famous ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ to make Dr Jonathan the Acting President pending the return of President Yar’Adua from his medical leave. Behind-the-scene moves by prominent Nigerians preceded this decision. The legislative resolution was unprecedented, but the nation had been tensed up, and the fault-lines so stoked that an unusual solution was needed to address the unique situation.

 

“With Jonathan now legally empowered to act as President, there remained the critical optics: would he stand-in for the President confidently and authoritatively? Or would he try to maintain a subdued outlook? The following day was the FEC meeting. As Dr Jonathan entered the Council Chamber, he made to sit on the chair of the Vice President—his usual seat.

 

“As the protocol officer pulled out the VP’s chair, Dr Jonathan marched towards the seat reserved for the President. And he sat on it! That was the moment Dr Goodluck Jonathan took control of power. By that act, he sent a strong signal to all Nigerians that he was now in charge. The same day, Jonathan even reshuffled the cabinet.”

 

Yar’Adua died on May 5, 2010, after his protracted sickness, and Jonathan was sworn in as his successor. Jonathan contested the 2011 presidential election and won, but he lost his reelection bid in 2015 after President Muhammadu Buhari defeated him.

 

Commenting on the role of entrepreneurs in nation-building, Otedola said they must collaborate with the political establishment to ensure that there is peace in the country.

 

He wrote: “While many may see political engagement for entrepreneurs as one-sided—in the sense that only the entrepreneur benefits—the reality is that it could work both ways. I tapped into my political connections to contribute my little quota to resolving a power crisis that almost set the country on fire.

 

“This example is one of the several instances in which I used my access to the seat of power and political heavyweights to contribute to nation-building and national development.”

 

Otedola added that entrepreneurs need to understand that their businesses can only thrive when there is stability and peace in the country.

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NDLEA nabs Brazilian returnee with cocaine hidden in private parts

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A Brazilian returnee, Igwedum Uche Benson has been arrested in Lagos with pellets of cocaine concealed in his private part.

He was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja by the operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

The agency said Igwedum came in via Ethiopian Airlines from Sao Paulo, Brazil, enroute from Addis Ababa.

A statement signed by spokesman for the agency, Femi Babafemi, said, “Preliminary investigations revealed the suspect had swallowed 50 wraps of cocaine before departing Brazil and excreted 48 pellets in Addis Ababa where he handed them over to another person.

“He however claimed he was unable to excrete the remaining two wraps at the hotel room in Addis Ababa before boarding his flight but later excreted them in the aircraft restroom during the flight from Ethiopia to Lagos.

“In the same vein, after three weeks of painstaking investigation and tracking, operatives of the MMIA command of NDLEA on Saturday night, 25th June arrested a drug kingpin, Onyekachi Chukwuma Macdonald behind attempts to export 40 parcels of Methamphetamine popularly called Mkpuru Mmiri locally to London, United Kingdom, through the NAHCO export shed of the Lagos airport.

“Onyekachi was arrested at Manacola estate, Alakuko area of Lagos at the weekend, three weeks after his Mkpuru Mmiri consignment weighing 2.05 kilogrammes was intercepted at the airport and his freight agent, Peter Christopher Anikan arrested on 7th June.

“During his interview, the suspect said he’s from Ahiazu, Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo state and had lived in Dubai, UAE, for 10 years before returning to Nigeria in 2019.

“He stated that after his return to Nigeria, he opened a phone accessories shop in Sango Otta, Ogun State, but the business collapsed.

“He then started sending cigarettes to London and decided to conceal the illicit drug in the consignment after advice by a friend”.

Closely related is the seizure of another consignment of 2kg Mkpuru Mmiri at a courier house in Owerri, Imo State.

The cargo seized on Wednesday 22nd June had ankara and lace fabrics in which two cylindrical cellophanes containing the drug heading to Hong Kong were concealed.

Also at the Lagos airport, NDLEA operatives on Friday June 24, intercepted 500,000 tablets of Tramadol 225mg packed in 10 cartons and labelled Tramaking imported from Karachi, Pakistan on Emirates Airline.

The consignment weighing 407.60kg was seized during a joint examination with Customs and NAFDAC officials.

Same day, a Dubai, UAE-bound passenger, Alegbeleye Taiwo was arrested at the departure hall of the MMIA with 40 ampoules of pentazocine injection.

The 21-year-old suspect claims he’s from Osun state.

Meanwhile, two kingpins behind the importation of two recent drug consignments from Canada concealed in vehicle containers through the Tincan seaport in Apapa, Lagos have been arrested by NDLEA operatives.

One of them, Gboyega Ayoola Elegbeji, was arrested at his house, 14 Bakare Street, Idi Araba, Lagos on Wednesday 22nd June, for importing a 40ft container TRHU7874497 containing 33 parcels of cannabis indica (Colorado) weighing16.5kg.

The second suspect, Sunday Joe Oyebola, (aka Otunba) was arrested on Thursday 23rd June.

He’s linked to the importation of a 40ft container MEDU4389887 containing four vehicles used to conceal 290 parcels weighing 145kg cannabis indica (Colorado) from Montreal, Canada.

He had been on the run since March and had in the course of the investigation attempted to bribe officers with N10million to influence the case.

Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) commended the officers and men of the MMIA, Tincan, and Imo state Commands of the Agency for the drug seizures and arrests especially of those who thought they could evade the long arm of the law.

He encouraged them and their compatriots across other formations to intensify their efforts towards achieving set goals.

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Lady offers to donate kidney to Ekweremmadu’s daughter

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A lady identified as Martha Uche has offered to donate her kidney to Sonia, daughter of Ike Ekweremmadu, former deputy senate president.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, were arrested and charged to court for allegedly bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting.

The couple were subsequently remanded in custody in the UK while investigations are ongoing.

In a video making the rounds online, Martha said she had a dream where she was instructed to save Sonia’s life.

She said, “I want to do that because I need to help the girl, she is dying. They have already showed me in my dream that I should help the girl.

“I’ve already seen her a long time ago. Even this morning I still had the same dream so I need to do it fast.”

When asked what her demands were for offering to donate her kidney, Martha said, “I do not have any demands for now. I just need to save the girl’s life; that is the most important thing for now.”

The former deputy senate president had written to the UK high commission to support a visa application of a “donor” listed as Ukpo Nwamini David.

In the letter, Ekweremadu said Ukpo was undergoing “medical investigations for a kidney donation to Ms Sonia Ekweremadu”.

Although the police had said the donor was 15, data from his international passport indicate that he is 21 years old.

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Obasanjo: I regret making Atiku my running mate in 1999

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday said one of his mistakes in life was picking former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as his running mate during the 1999 presidential election.

He stated this Abeokuta, Ogun State, duringan event held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.

Obasanjo was responding to questions posed by students from selected secondary schools that participated in the final of the National Exhibition and Awards organised by Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE).

Obasanjo and his former number two man, Atiku had a running battle during the build up to the 2003 elections.

He said he had made many “genuine” mistakes in his life, but God made him to overcome.

The former President said, “One of the mistakes I made was picking my Number Two (referring to Atiku) when I wanted to become the President. But because it was a genuine mistake, God saved me.

“The second one (mistake) was when Abacha wanted to arrest me. When Abacha wanted to arrest me, I was told by the American ambassador that they would arrest me and that America had asked that I should be given an asylum. I said no. It could have been a mistake because I could have lost my life.

“I will say there are many things that could have been mistakes but God saved me from them all.”

Obasanjo lamented the current trend of recycling of old politicians in elective positions, stressing that young Nigerians would not have chance to exhibit themselves if the trends continued.

He also spoke on opportunities for the youths to take over the mantle of leadership in the country.

Obasanjo bemoaned the trend of money politics in the country, which he noted would make it difficult for young Nigerians to participate in politics.

He however urged the youths to remain hopeful even in the face of money politics.

He said, “Another thing inhibiting youth from running is the amount of money involved in going into politics. I hope that things should not continue like this.

“I was 39 years old when I became the military Head of State. Twenty years later, I came back as civilian president, but those there now do not want to allow the youths. If things continue like this, I do not know how you can come in.”

 

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