I was at the Ibadan Yoruba Summit to deliberate on the call for the restructuring of Nigeria. Though this call has been going on now for many years, it has become more urgent since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015. If the truth must be told, in the campaign for restructuring, the members of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s disbanded court have found a new rallying cry far away from the dismal record of their principal. However, it would be wrong to say that the gathering in Ibadan was only another attempt by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to make the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, uncomfortable.
In his final years in power, President Jonathan had organised a Constitutional Conference which made far-reaching recommendations that would have affected the wellbeing of the federation if implemented. However, Jonathan successor vowed never to read it nor implement it. I suspect that the only way to make President Buhari to read the report is if Jonathan declares for the APC.
The truth is that the call for restructuring is an old campaign which the PDP did everything possible to suppress and discourage during its years in power. Jonathan later day conversion was apparently because he was looking for another term of office. It is therefore a great irony that the APC whole leading members have always been counted as part of the brigade asking for the re-ordering of the Nigerian federation, is now on the offensive against the demand.
There seems to be a direct relationship between the refusals of the Buhari government to acknowledge the report of the Jonathan Constitutional Conference and the new agitation for Biafra. Indeed all was quiet on the Biafran front during the Jonathan years. The response of the Buhari government was not to call for dialogue, but to display its sword. The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB was not represented at the Ibadan Summit. Ohaneze, the mainstream Igbo leadership movement, was there and that was considered appropriate. Very few leaders would like to share the same platform with the young man who regards his country as a zoo.
For the Yoruba people, the Ibadan Conference was another opportunity to voice their displeasure about what they perceived as the imbalance in the Nigerian federation. At the heart of the matter was the original foundation of the country created by the British at the dawn of the 20th Century. Lord Frederick Lugard, a veteran of the Indian campaign, was brought in by the businessmen and imperialist forces that cobbled together the various states that became Nigeria. In India, the British forces, after the occupation of the Sub-Continent, still faced hostilities of the Hindus. The Muslims, however, were more accommodating. The British employed the good will of the Rajas to establish Indirect Rule. At the end of colonial rule in 1947, the British paid the Muslims back for their support by giving them their own country, known then as East and West Pakistan, which they excised from the old India. It is now two different countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Therefore when the Indian veterans like Lugard landed on our land with many established kingdoms including the Sokoto Caliphate ruled by an Islamic aristocracy, they seized the opportunity to established British rule. Even areas where the caliphate had been hotly resisted, the British helped to pacify them and handed them over to the emirate system. The new Indirect Rule system simplified governance and served the interest of the British. Thus the Yoruba town of Ilorin, which played a significant role in the Yoruba Civil Wars of the 19th Century, was ceded to become part of the Northern Region. Many historically important Yoruba towns like Offa, Erinle, Kabba, Omu-Aran, Isanlu, Oke-Onigbin, Oro, Egbe, Aiyetoro-Gbede, Yagba and Otun were ceded to become parts of the old Northern Region. It was only in 1945 that Otun was returned to the West and is now one of major towns in Ekiti State.
The British also conceded many important Yoruba towns across the border to the French in the Republic of Benin. Among the towns are Ketu, Pobe, Oke-Agbede and Ajase (Porto-Novo). Indeed one of the most contentious issues at the London Constitutional Conference of 1958 concerned the Yoruba of the North. Chief Josiah Olawoyin from Offa, who later became the Leader of Opposition in the Northern House of Assembly, was a member of the Action Group delegation. He was the leader of the Yoruba of the North and it was a bitter defeat when both the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC and the National Union of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC, agreed that the issue of ethnic minorities should be deferred till after independence despite the protest of the AG.
Nigeria has been struggling to address that issue till date with qualified success. In 1966 after he came to power following the bloody countercoup that toppled General J.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi, then Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon set up the Leaders of Thought Conference to deliberate on the new Constitutional arrangement for Nigeria. At that time, the Eastern Region, traumatized by the killing of Ironsi and scores of Igbo military leaders and the thousands killed in the North in the pogrom, wanted a loose federation. The West, North and the Mid-West, wanted the federation to continue but with reduced powers at the center. The conference collapsed when the military governor of the East, Lt. Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, withdrew his delegates from the conference. At the eve of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, Gowon split the four regions into 12 states, six in the North and six in the South. He put the Yoruba of the North in the new West-Central State and appointed Colonel David Bamigboye as the first military governor. The state was later renamed Kwara.
Today, the situation appears worse. Instead of bringing the Yoruba of the North to the West, another state, Kogi, was created to further divide them. In Kogi, the Yoruba towns and communities were merged to create a new state and serve a particular interest. At the Ibadan Conference last weeks, leaders of the Yoruba in Kwara and Kogi states spoke about the need to remember the past and not forget that God made the Yoruba one people. “We want to return home,” they said.
That is a tall order. Many leaders believe that the only way to address the problem of ethnic aspirations is to hold a Constitutional Conference. It is noteworthy that none of the major political parties has made constitutional reform a major plank of seeking elections. Neither the PDP nor the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, has tabled before Nigerians their roadmap to the reform of the Nigerian federation. Those who have been asking for this consistently have been the Yoruba elite and ethnic minorities of the South-South. The writer and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, believed that every ethnic group should be granted the right to run its own internal affairs within the Nigerian federation. Despite the occasional threats from some extremists, most Nigerians believed it is in our collective interest to keep Nigeria alive and prosperous.
After General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the victory of Chief Moshood Abiola at the June 12, 1993 elections, many Nigerians concluded that the annulment was made possible because of the imbalance nature of the Nigerian Federation. After General Sani Abacha seized power in 1993, it was seen as an historic opportunity to organise a proper Constitutional Conference. A member of the Yoruba Leadership met with General Abacha negotiates the nature of the expected Constitutional Conference. In the end, it was agreed that the new junta would organize a Conference with “full constituent powers” and all the members would be elected by direct suffrage. Abiola was ready to concede his historic mandate if that would give Nigerians a new Peoples Constitution. Chief Olu Falae, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, was one of those leaders appointed by the Leadership to seek election and participate in the expected Constitutional Conference. In the end, Abacha eat his words. He would not allow a free Constitutional Conference. Instead, he padded the place with government appointees. When the Leadership sent a delegation to Abacha’s powerful deputy, General Oladipo Diya, trying to persuade the junta to keep its words, they met a brick wall. Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, then the leader of Afenifere, the mainstream Yoruba cultural and political movement, gave the directive that the Abacha Conference must be boycotted.
Since 1999, attempts had been made to effect constitutional changes without success. Indeed, when Chief Bola Ige, the deputy leader of Afenifere, joined the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, it was with the hope that he would be able to influence the government to pursue constitutional reforms. Though Ige succeeded in getting the reforms of the Laws of the Federation, he could not make headway with constitutional reforms. His old comrade in the Afenifere Leadership, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, was asked to head a committee to work on Constitutional Reforms, but they never really succeeded. Part of the problem was that the President and his party never campaigned with the agenda of Constitutional reform.
Those who believe in Constitutional reforms must be ready to come up with the formula to achieve it. It is wrong to say only the government must find the solution. It is also not helpful to say that only the Federal Government can carry out this assignment when the Federal Government is the main beneficiary of the current system. Unless we want a revolution, we have to find a way to reform the current Constitution using the provisions of the Constitution. The Ibadan Conference failed to provide us with a road map, but that is what is needed now if the campaign for restructuring is not to loose strength like a tired storm.
The internet and social media: Benefits and chalenges, By Rotimi Onadipe
The internet and social media are great tools that are very useful to our daily lives. We can use them to enrich our lives in several ways and this is one of the most important reasons why the 21st century is regarded as the best century.
In today’s technology age, the internet and social media have exposed the entire world and changed the way we do many things.
In as much as the internet and social media have brought a lot of conveniences to the human life, these great tools have also exposed the whole world to many dangers.
However, we must be mindful of both the benefits and challenges of internet and social media.
Benefits of Internet and Social Media:
- Fast and easy communication.
Fast business transaction.
Easy learning of languages.
Easy dissemination of breaking news.
Research can easily be conducted.
Quick investigation of crime.
Easy learning of different skills.
Challenges of Internet and Social Media:
- Moral decadence.
Increase of crime rate in the society.
Negative impacts on children.
Viruses can easily destroy devices.
Negative impacts on the health of users.
Negative impacts on the academic performance of students.
*Rotimi Onadipe is the CEO of Onadipe Technologies, National Coordinator- Internet Abuse Awareness & Prevention Project, Nigeria. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Politics of Kwara State’s Chief of Staff
In the last one week, the kwara political space has witnessed various news of appointments of chief of staff with no confirmation or denial from the government, names such as Prince Mahee Abdulkadir, Prince Sunday Fagbemi, Yinka Aluko have been announced.
Prince mahee Abdulkadir who is in his early 70s like the late COS , is an ally of mallam Isiaka Abdulrazaq, the immediate younger brother of the governor. Mallam Isiaka Abdulrazaq who also produced the current deputy governor in person of Mr Kayode Alabi is said to have also recommended many other political appointees currently in government.
Alhaji Maher Abdulkadir was retired from the kwara state civil service by the Bukola Saraki’s administration, as a PS following many alleged wrong doings , such as trying to receive salaries from two departments of Governments, one as a PS and as a Clark of the HA.
Pros in his favor is that He is the son of late Emir Abdulkadir, it is believe that the rush to announce him was to try to force the hand of the governor. He is also said to have the support of the president COS.
Also announced on social media is Prince Sunday fagbemi from Ekiti, a very close political ally of the governor and a lawyer by profession, Prince fagbemi was the head of a faction that challenged chief Iyiola Oyedepo in the PDP days before Ootoge revolution brought every faction together to send the dynasty packing. He was a lot the governor’s deputy in CPC during the 2011 election.
Two weeks ago, Yinka Aluko popularly called homeboy was equally touted as the candidate for the position of chief of staff as he is said to have the ears of the governor on many state issues and a very close confidant of the governor. He holds two masters degrees and about concluding his PhD in Security and strategic development.
Another name is that of Arc. Kale Belgore who like Yinka Aluko is in his mid 50s and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. He however doesn’t enjoy the support of many of the people around the governor because of some of his actions very early in government that they believed painted the government in very bad light.
For exigency and right political calculation the race is clearly between Yinka Aluko and Fagbemi says many political pundits.
That is if the post of COS is not eventually scraped by the governor as political observers are now asking what the relevance of the position is considering the existing position of PPS and who seems to have a very good working relationship with the governor.
The coming days will definitely be an interesting one in the kwara state politics of COS.
How the mighty have fallen, By Fani-Kayode
Insults mean nothing to me. They only fuel my resolve and strengthen my determination. They are like water off a duck’s back and neither can they deter me from speaking my mind on any pressing or burning issue no matter how unpopular my position may be.
Those that do not have the prescence of mind or the discipline to read beyond three lines or that are so filled with hate and blighted by ignorance that it has beclouded their better judgement should not bother attempting to read this contribution.
For those that are interested in knowing the truth and in actually learning something about a man that was as maligned, misrepresented and misunderstood as I have been over the years should please go ahead and do me the honor of reading it. Whichever way it takes absolutely nothing from me.
Yesterday I paid tribute to my friend and brother Mallam Abba Kyari, the former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, who passed on after being diagnosed with Covid 19 on Friday 17th April 2020.
The tweet reads as follows: “I lost a friend of 40 years. We were at Cambridge together. We worked in my fathers law firm together. We remained close throughout right up until the end even though we disagreed politically. ABBA was a good man. A man of honor and a loyal friend. May his soul rest in peace”.
Sadly it appears that some have a problem with my tribute and have lost all sense of decency and humanity.
Someone DIED and you are now suggesting that it is wrong for those of us that knew him better than you to say a good word about him? This is an accomplished man who was a lawyer, a banker, a journalist, a businessman and a loyal friend to many many years before he even joined Government in 2015. This is a man with children, a wife, an extended family and many dependants that he left behind.
This is a man that has been a blessing to his community and that has been housing, feeding and paying for the education of thousands of students at Maiduguri University and offering scholarships to so many young people since 2001.
All this yet you say that those of us that knew him must not mourn him. Some even went as far as to ask how dare I say he was a “good man” forgetting that if he had been anything less I would have been the first to expose and attack him.
I forgive those that have attacked me for their ignorance and I stand by my words. If they do not like those words they can simply go and jump in the lagoon. They like me when I attack Government but they hate me when I say one good thing about a Government official who I have known for over forty years? What a joke!
Yet the truth is that I do not care one way or the other and neither do I seek anyone’s approval or validation. I will attack anoyone that I believe has done wrong, whether in the ranks of the Government or the opposition, and I will commend those that I believe have done their best in either of the two.
The truth is that when it comes to the gathering of information and acquisition of knowledge and what is really going on behind closed doors in this country I know far more than virtually all of my traducers because I have access to people and places that most of them can only dream about.
Yet even if I didn’t, common decency alone should constrain them to at least let those of us that have a certain degree of decency and humanity left in our persona to express our condolences in peace and not choose our words for us or be subjected to vulgar abuse, intolerable rantings and long and uncontrollable diatribes from a clearly diseased mind.
To you I say the following. If you don’t like my views about Kyari you can simply go to hell. I do not give a fig. I would however advise you to fear God and know that even He does not take pleasure in the death of those He created and only He can judge each and every one of us.
Yet for the record let us look at a few of the facts.
A former Head of State would have been put under house arrest in 2018, a former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Defence would have been arrested in 2018, a former National Security Advisor and a well known online publisher would have still been in detention today and many MORE people would have been detained and killed had it not been for the efforts and moderating influence of this man whose untimely death some irresponsible people are celebrating today.
I know all this and about each case because I was involved. Once that man gave his word on any issue he always honored it to the point that even the reactionaries and hardliners in the Government he served wanted to discredit him, implicate him, get rid of him and even kill him.
Let me give you two examples. He promised the Governors of the East that he would get adequate funding for Enugu Airport and he did.
He also promised to ensure that good progress would be made on the second Niger bridge and it was. I can tell you that had it not been for his efforts and the efforts of particularly Governor Umahi of Ebonyi and the Governor Ugwanyi of Enugu it would have been next to impossible to get adequate funding for the two.
I can also tell you that when the police, with elements of the military, attacked and killed IPOB youths and literally burnt down half of Orifite in Anambra state, the hometown of my friend and IPOB lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Abba, in collaboration with Umahi and Ugwanyi, was instrumental in putting a stop to it.
I know because I was involved and I asked them all to intervene. On that occassion they saved lives and I can bear witness to that. So can Ejiofor.
There is so much more that I could add but I will go no further for now because it was not Abba’s desire or intention to be praised or publicly acknowledged for his good deeds. He neither craved public validation or acclaim.
People forget that the buck for the things the Federal Government does not stop at the desk of the President’s Chief of Staff but at the desk of the President. He takes full credit for the good things and he must also take the full blame for the bad .
Abba was merely an official albeit a very senior and influential one: he was not the leader of the cabal or the de facto President that many claimed that he was.
Despite that he was quite happy to be labelled as this Government’s “Dark Angel” and “fall guy”, even though both tags were totally inaccurate and inappropriate 0 He was also quite prepared to take the blame for every evil under the sun simply because he was deeply loyal to the President.
Nevermind that much of the time he was fighting off those in the Government who hated his guts and who saw him as a stumbling block to gaining unmerited favour with the President or to their thieving ways.
I know every single one of them and at the appropriate time I will expose them for what they are. Abba was far better than them: far more wholesome and far more decent. He was a gentleman who though, in my view, was on the wrong side of the political divide, remained a gentleman nevertheless.
I found it inexplicable and difficult to accept that a man that was as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, enlightened and intelligent as ABBA was could work for a Government and be Chief of Staff in a Presidency that was the most sectional and religiously biased in the history of Nigeria and I often told him this. We had many heated discussions and lively debates on this and other issues.
His defence was that he believed in Buhari and that he chose to be loyal to him and I respected that. He often reminded me of the days in which I was at the Villa when I stood by President Olusegun Obasanjo no matter what.
He said that even though he was with Buhari throughout that time and was opposed to Obasano we still remained friends and that we ought to remain friends now that the tables had turned and that he and his principal were in power.
This was sound logic and it made sense. Only a fool does not appreciate the fact that true friendship transcends politics and that you take your friends warts and all even when, in your view, they may have made the wrong political choices.
He felt I that I made the wrong choice and chose the wrong path just as I felt that he did but we never for one moment felt that our friendship should or would end because of that. After all we were not just friends but we were brothers.
I have been in the frontline of the opposition and resistance since 2015 and no-one has fought or risked as much against this Government as I have done. I have been detained, maligned, insulted, subjected to psychological torture, misrepresented, falsely and wrongly accused, financially crippled and worse of all I have lost some members of my family and friends because of them.
They have taken literally everything from me and have destroyed the country that I have always loved and seen as my own. All of this I have suffered without ever complaining or lamenting leaving my fate and that of my family and loved ones to God.
I have nothing to gain and no reason to sugar-coat anyone in the Buhari administration but let me tell you loudly and clearly that now that the man you all loved to hate and malign has gone you will see the true meaning of tyranny and a totalitarian government because we will no longer have a moderate to run to when innocent men and women are being incarcerated, killed or tormented.
We will no longer have anyone to complain to about the excesses and sheer brutality of some of the security and intelligence officials. We will no longer have someone to run to when terrible things are being done that even the President is not aware of.
Continue to celebrate his death because you are ignorant and uninformed. When the real monster arrives and rises up that is when your eyes will clear and you will wish that the one you hate was still alive and in power.
Permit me to conclude this contribution with the following. Canelo Gypsy King, one of my numerous young friends on Facebook wrote the following to me after watching my interview on AIT about ABBA.
He was obviously very upset by my generous and charitable words about a man who he perceived as being pure evil and who he believed ought to have been categorised as an enemy of humanity and the tormentor-in chief of the Nigerian people. He wrote, “When Boko Haram members were killing men and children in thousands, raping women in large proportions. Killing and shooting Biafra citizens, Shiites members and those who oppose his Government, did Abba Kyari speak up?
Did he call for the service chiefs to resign? Did he visit those who died? When Buhari deliberately and intentionally borrowed predatory loans from the Foreign nations to further plunge Nigerian into insurmountable debts? Did Abba speak up? How about the billions of Naira that were allocated to upgrade Aso rock Clinic that went Missing, did he speak up?
When Buhari failed to address the Nation every month for years, Did Abba speak up? Did he ever speak up when the nation was financially pillaged by these evil Government officials?
Do you know how many thousands of Nigerians are dying every month due to the wicked and heartless intentions of these beasts and Frankenstein monsters? Even, if he did not speak up, did he resign? Truth to be told whatever a man sows he shall reap”.
My response to him was as follows.
“If only you knew how many lives he saved. If only you knew how he at least attempted to build bridges between Christians and Muslims and between northerners and southerners behind closed doors.
If only you knew how hard he fought to ensure that the war against terror was properly waged. If only you knew the forces that opposed his moderate stand from within.
If only you knew how much he was hated by some very key members of the Buhari administration who envied him and who felt that had it not been for him they could have pillaged the treasury far more than they were already doing and created even more enemies for the President than he already had.
If only you knew that most of the rubbish being written in the media about him was being sponsored and spread to a gullible public by key members of the Buhari administrstion who were trying to discredit him and get the Presideht to fire him.
Simply put had it not been for him many more lives would have been lost in the war against terror and many more people would have been killed by Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen.
Some say he was the leader of the cabal. This is a cabal in which seasoned and skillful old war horses and elderly and ancient northern political veterans and warriors like Mamman Daura, Zangon Daura, Mahmoud Tukur, Ismaila Isa Funtua, Lawal Daura, Baba Gana Kingibe and many others that were far older and more experienced than him are members of?
A cabal that has been in existence and in power since the 1980’s when he was still at University? This does not make sense. He was a powerful Chief of Staff but he was far from being head of the cabal or being de facto President. That much I can assure you.
If it had been any different many of those that were still in office at the time of his death would not have been there anymore because he would have fired them long ago.
God alone sees the heart and knows who is who. Let Him be the judge and let Him call each and every one of us to account for our deeds and misdeeds.
It is not for me or anyone else to judge Kyari and it is not for anyone else to judge me or to judge you. The only thing that is certain is the following: for our good deeds we shall be rewarded in the afterlife and for our bad ones we shall suffer. That applies to us all and as the Bible says, ‘let he that is free of sin throw the first stone’ “.
For my friend and adversary Abba I only have this to say, “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice…..How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished!” (2 Samuel 1 20:24).
You served your nation and your principal to the best of your ability and I am proud of the dignity and nobility you displayed throughout your life.
Rest in peace my brother and pray for Nigeria and those of us you left behind.
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