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President Tinubu is not deaf

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Tunde Odesola

President Tinubu is not deaf

Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH, on Friday, February 9, 2024)

Daybreak Nigeria! All the make-up is gone now. On the forehead are lines of wrinkles. Short tears dry up midway down the sides of the nose, forming the ruthless eyeshadows of the tiger. The smile has turned into a sneer, the cheers are swallowed up by jeers, and laughter has ceased, seized by weeping and gnashing of teeth across the land. The calamity is total.

Now, the rich are also crying. Those not crying are shivering. Because nowhere is safe; palaces or huts. No one is smiling; kings or paupers. The American dollar is gripped by the spirit of Joseph’s dream, it’s now swallowing the naira. One dollar, just one dollar, is now swallowing one thousand five hundred naira. Èemò wòlú!

The land is bitter. Hunger is raining. Poverting is pollinating. Death is reigning. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man, who assured the citizenry, saying, “E lo f’okan bale,” appears lost. The Asiwaju called BAT also said, “Let the poor breathe,” but the air has ceased. The poor can’t inhale, the rich can’t exhale. Yoruba kings have become chickens inside a pitch-black cage, and the Fulani cobra coils up in a corner, snacking them up one by one – after its regular feast on the people. The bat of the night has lost its voice.

But, the purpose of this article isn’t to paint our country in sad colours. It’s to make you laugh and forget the woes besetting our beloved country – even if only momentarily. The expression, “Òrò burúkú tòhun tèrín,” signposts the junction called Bittersweet. Inside his regalia, the egungun must endure his fart, he dares not tear off his mask. Èewò òrìsà! The Abami Eda – Fela Anikulapo – called it Shuffering and Shmiling.

Imagine you bought a plate of rice, beans, veggies and chicken. Iya Ramota, the food seller, tells you to go home and wait for your order. Back at home, you waited all day, and Iya Ramo didn’t show up. At midnight, she shows up with a big plate and a toothpick in her hands. She picks a grain of rice with the toothpick and puts it in your mouth. She also remembers to put in a grain of beans before she leaves with the food. You jump up, shouting Up Iya Ramo!

Isn’t this what you do when you shout ‘Up NEPA!’ after being ripped off by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria – when you should be shouting, ‘wahala, wahala, wahala’ – in the voice of that irritant musician in Sango, Ogun State, whose wisecracks overflows from a portable suitcase? Isn’t that shuffering and shmiling?

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Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest word in the English dictionary. You can count how many letters it has, good luck. But don’t try to pronounce it, please. I don’t want to be held responsible for missing teeth, biko. Do not say I didn’t warn you o, ehn-ehn, because Nigeria is a now country where a packet of unadulterated antibiotic costs between N45,000 and N60,000 when the minimum wage of over 104 million citizens remains N30,000, according to the World Bank figures.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a fibrotic lung disease caused ​​when you breathe in chemical dust such as silica, coal dust or asbestos. Yes, asbestos! Asbestos is a potential killer outlawed for building in developed countries.

Silicosis is another name for pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Yet another synonym for it is ‘black lung’. It’s also called pneumoconiosis. When I consider the various names of the disease, I see the developed world running with the simplified versions, researching, while Nigeria, the h(r)ope of the black man, smokes on a keg of gunpowder.

Growing up, I listened to the sweet voice of King Sunny Ade, singing “Ile o labo sinmi oko…,” a song he did about his journey to London, extolling the importance of home over the farmstead. Kennery King, Orlando Owoh, also did a song, ‘Ero ki yeye mi,” in praise of home. Before KSA and Orlando’s songs, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey had done a song about the importance of home.

Home is a place of refuge. It’s a stockade to leave and return to after toilings afield. Many years ago, Nigerians in the Diaspora considered Nigeria as home, and their foreign abodes as farmsteads because home is where you feel secure and loved, wanted. The reverse is the case now. Nigeria has turned into oko (farmstead) while foreign abodes have become homes.

About 700 years ago, Africa was invaded for slaves by the West. About 500 years later, slavery was abolished and a new form of slavery called colonisation started. Though Nigeria gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960, the domineering influence of the British and America over the country is still strong, owing to corruption and misgovernance by Nigerian rulers.

Nigeria’s former slave masters have long departed, and the land has been despoiled. Nigerians themselves are the ones now begging to go and be slaves in foreign lands. They risk lives and limbs, stowing away on planes and ships because the country is no longer at ease. What would Nigerian children taken or born abroad be? Where would they call home? Nigeria or foreign lands?

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Last week, I shook my head when I heard that a friend of mine, in a bid to erase his family’s link with a particular Yoruba river, had changed his name to reflect his Christian religion. But Jesus Christ never told any of his disciples to change their family names which reflected their pagan histories.

Two days ago, Madison Academy in Alabama, USA, announced the return of Mustang Mud Run 5K, calling on interested participants to reserve their spots. The announcement says, “Prepare to have fun and put your skills to the test in North Alabama’s Mud Run. The obstacle course, situated on the campus of Madison Academy, will challenge participants with 18-22 obstacles along and through Indian Creek and the adjacent wooded areas. The family-friendly, fun mud run is open to anyone over the age of 12. Runners are expected to slip, slide, climb, jump, slog, and swing their way to a fun finish.”

Were this event native to Nigeria, many zealots, who have made pastors and imams their gods, would say the sport belonged to the devil, forgetting that they themselves are from mud! They would cast and bind and speak in tongues.

The zealots, their pastors and imams won’t pray hail and brimstones on the political leadership that has refused to hand over criminal cop, Abba Kyari, to the US, for trial over alleged involvement in wire fraud. Kyari, while on suspension over involvement in wire fraud, was caught on video negotiating the release of 25kg of cocaine for $61,000. He remains a member of the Nigeria Police Force to date, earning a salary.

It’s funny how we run this type of unjust country and still expect birds to chirp like birds, and rats squeak like rats. Ka ma ri ni Poolu wi. Apostle Paul says such an expectation is a mirage.

So, I hissed when Fuji singer, Wasiu Ayinde, called on President Tinubu in a viral video, telling him that Nigerians are shuffering. If the President doesn’t know by now that Nigerians are living in the worst of times, and it takes a bard to call his attention to it, it’s time to wind down the country and give it back to Britain or America for colonisation. But I would prefer the Chinese. I love their language.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @Tunde Odesola

X: @Tunde_Odesola

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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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