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How Tinubu, Akande, Osoba Missed Opportunity To Rewrite 1999 Constitution – Adebanjo

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Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said President Bola Tinubu and his South-West counterpart governors missed the opportunity to rewrite the nation’s constitution when Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999.

Adebanjo stated this in an interview on Channels Television on Friday.

According to him, the former governors failed Nigerians because they were too frightened to insist on a people’s constitution when they had the opportunity.

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Recall that Tinubu served as the Lagos State governor from May 1999 to May 2007.

Adebanjo noted that Tinubu was among the six governors of the South-West who “chickened out” from demanding a Sovereign National Conference after the then military Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, decided to return the country to democracy after the death of ex-military dictator Sani Abacha.

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Adebanjo, however, said Tinubu now has the opportunity to rewrite the 1999 Constitution now that he is in office as Nigeria’s President.

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The elder statesman said Tinubu now has an opportunity to rewrite the mistakes of the past by ensuring that Nigerians decide on a constitution they agree to govern their co-existence.

He said Nigerians deserve a better constitution, as against what he described as the “military-imposed constitution” still operational in the country since 24 years ago.

Adebanjo noted that a brand-new people’s constitution will end the menace of insecurity, adding that a people’s constitution will make room for state police.

He said, “There was a clamour for a Sovereign National Conference at that time (in the buildup to the 1999 election). The military said they were going back to the barracks and we said, ‘Well, go back to the barracks with your constitution; it’s your baggage and return us to where you met us.

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“If you are not going to do that, schedule another conference and we will agree on how to live together’.”

He said the Yoruba socio-political group Afenifere refused to take part in any deliberations with the Abdulsalami Abubakar regime but later agreed to take part in the 1999 election after getting assurances that there will be a Sovereign National Conference thereafter.

Adebanjo said, “So, we contested that election on protest. This is why I disagreed with Ex-Governors (Bisi) Akande and (Segun) Osoba. When we were campaigning for them to be governors, it was on the heels of federalism, and Sovereign National Conference.

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“We insisted that the constitution must be changed. So, when we (Alliance for Democracy) came in, we got the mandate of the people; we won the election in the whole of the Western Region;

“…We told all our governors including Bola Tinubu not to go to Abuja until the Federal Government changed the constitution but they chickened out; they were involved in the paraphernalia of office… that is the beginning of the struggle of Nigeria.”

Adebanjo said all the six state assemblies in the South-West at that time passed a resolution for a Sovereign National Conference but “all our governors disappointed us.”

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He said, “If the Western Region didn’t take part in any of the activities in Abuja, the Eastern Region will follow us and we will all be forced to come back to the table again.

“They (South-West governors) chickened out, they sold the Nigerian people, they disappointed us. And that is why I said the wrong at that time, Bola Tinubu is in a position to rewrite it now by changing the constitution now to what we wanted it to be.

“And it is not a long thing to do; take the 2014 National Conference Report, take the (ex-Governor Nasir) El-Rufai Constitution Recommendation of the APC, set up a committee to reconcile the recommendations and we will move on.”

“We are now talking of insecurity, kidnapping, how can insecurity be solved when those fighting it are in Abuja? It is not possible. All the governors have been clamouring for state police, for the policing system to be localised…When security is localised, they will take care of their people.

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“We copied our federalism from Britain and the United States but have you heard of the Inspector General of Police in America? All you have is the Cosmopolitan Police.”

On claim that the governors would abuse state police, Adebanjo said, “The constitution says that governors are chief security officers of their states but you deprive them of the role.”

Adebanjo said Nigerians are tired of empty promises and reassurances, adding that “We are tired, we want double action. Until we go back to agree on conditions for us to live together, we will never get peace.”
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[JUST IN] Alleged N33.8b Fraud: Court Grants Bail To Ex-power Minister

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to a former minister of power, Saleh Mamman at the sum of N10 billion.

In a ruling on Friday, July 12, Justice James Omotosho ordered Mamman to produce two sureties in like sum.

Justice Omotosho said each of the sureties must own a landed property worth N750 million within the jurisdiction of the court.

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The judge said he needed not to produce sureties if he could provide a bank guarantee or bond to cover the N10b.

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According to the judge, the sureties are to provide evidence of tax payment for three years, while the defendant is to deposit his travel passport with the court.

The judge ordered that Mamman is to be further remanded in Kuje prison pe ding when he meets the bail conditions.

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Mamman was arraigned on Thursday on a 12-count charge, in which he was among others, accused of laundering about N33.8billion.

In the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/273/2024 filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the ex-Minister is also alleged to have acquired property, through proxies, with looted funds.

The prosecution is scheduled to commence trial on September 25.

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OPINION: How I Quit Smoking (1)

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Tunde Odesola

Now that my father and mother are dead and have gone to where the elderly go to rest their bones in death, I can confess my cigarette addiction. Not that either could put their hands on a Bible and vow that their firstborn was a nicotine-free teetotaler, but both card-carrying Christians thought my cigarette and alcohol use was a fleeting adolescence misstep when Satan took me up to the mountain and showed me the world, and said, “Is it not written that the earth is of the Lord and the fullness thereof; eat, smoke, drink and enjoy, son.”

My father and mother were certain their ceaseless fire-for-fire prayers and biri-biri fasting round the clock were responsible for my repentance before ‘iji aye’, the world’s whirlwind, could sweep me off in my early teenage years.

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We had a cassava plantation in our Lagos backyard back in the day when I was in secondary school. One sunny afternoon, the Devil knocked on my door and I opened it. He grabbed me by my left hand and led me to the green pasture downstairs. If you ever had a cassava plantation, you would know the canopy of tranquil neatness the tall-growing slender stalks provide underneath to nourish nature.

The evil that men do to the Devil lives in their hearts. Uhm! In his irresolvable confusion, Man contemplated the whip of chastisement eternally held by the Conscience and called it the devil. Yes, the devil. Remove the definite article ‘the’ from ‘the devil’, what do you have? Devil, yes. Put a dash between ‘D’ and evil. You’ll get D-evil aka The-evil.

A global Nigerian musical star bears DBanj. The Seruabwon of Osun politics, the late Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke, was popularly called D Gov.

So, what man calls the devil is d-evil that he does. The image of a black and ugly fire-spitting creature with a long tail and a spear is a figment of the imagination.

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I’m not saying there are no powers in heaven and on earth. I’m not saying there’s no God. There’s God, the Maker of heaven and the earth, and I believe in Him. I’m only saying the devil, as concocted by man, is an explanation of the force that wrestles with the truth inside the conscience. But isn’t it written that ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set ye free?

As I was saying, the fall guy we all call the devil grabbed my hand and led me to the cassava pasture backyard. He brought out a stick of Consulate cigarette, lit and gave it to me, just like it gave Eve the apple. I took a military drag. In the cigarette smoking parlance of my time, military drag was the one-time l-o-n-g drag that burns a quarter of the cancer stick called cigarette, filling your lungs fully with smoke.

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As I was enjoying the cigarette the devil gave to me and was feeling giddy, I saw my mother right from where I was seated under the canopy of cassava. She couldn’t see me unless she bent to look beneath the green mat of cassava leaves. But she had perceived the smell of burning tobacco and was gearing to know where it was coming from.

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I crawled further back into the plantation and sat, my unblinking gaze watching her advancing towards the cassava farm. I quickly buried the cigarette and the lighter. I couldn’t see her face which was screened off by the cassava leaves above. I could only see her lower limbs. As she got to the edge of the farm, she bent to see below the foliage and she saw her begotten son seated like Oba Efon – the Lord of the Flies.

Mo ku, mo gbe, mo dara is the lamentation of the condemned. “Kilo n se ni be yen?” she ‘innocently’ asked to know what I was doing in the underworld. “Mo n gba ategun ni; I’m resting,” I answered in a tired voice, trying to yawn.

Then I committed a forced error. I sidestepped her and went upstairs. By the time she got upstairs, the acrid smell of cigarette had overwhelmed the household on the sunny day. “Tunde!” she called out. I was in the bathroom, washing mouth and body. “Did you bring your cigarette upstairs to rest?” she inquired, adding the death sentence, “When your father comes back from work, you will explain when you started smoking to him.”

Like Joshua, I prayed for the sun to stand still because I knew if my father came back in the evening, he would beat me like the inedible snake called ejo aije. My prayer wasn’t answered. The sun didn’t stand still, it went back home to rest while my father arrived, ate and rested before giving my brain a factory reset.

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My mother made me fast for seven consecutive days, choosing more than a dozen psalms for me to read each hour of the day. I fasted and prayed but I didn’t stop smoking whenever cigarettes were available. I didn’t stop smoking because I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I wasn’t an everyday, impulsive smoker. I just smoked when my hands were idle and the devil was at his workshop.

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When I got admitted into the University of Lagos in the 80s to read Chemistry, I discovered on campus that cigarettes were part of most students’ menus. I also began to smoke after each meal. Then I graduated to smoking before each meal, before sleeping, when I woke up, when going to the toilet, when stressed, when drinking, when happy; every time.

Because I never loved the esoteric nature of Chemistry, I changed my course and university the following year. I love writing and I wanted to be a journalist. To free myself from parental control, I chose the Imo State University, now Abia State University. This was where I earned the title, Eruku Jeje, which means Billowing Smoke. It was impossible to see me without a cigarette, day or night. When fellow smoking students were looking for matches or cigarettes, they knew the room to come in Hostel B.

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Under my mattress, there must be matches and cigarettes. There was honour among smokers, nobody dared steal my cigarette but you’re free to use the matches of lighters anytime.

After I finished Youth Service in the Umuopu and Aji communities of Igbo-Eze North, Enugu State, I headed back home to Lagos, and continued smoking regularly; my bird had learnt how to fly without perching, escaping my parents’ stones.

I started life as a classroom teacher. Down the line, I changed jobs and became a journalist in Lagos with PUNCH newspapers. I always had perfumes, roll-ons, and air fresheners in my laptop bag, car, apartment, everywhere. Some of my friends knew I visited in their absence when they arrived at home and perceived my signature perfumes. If you smell my fingers, you won’t perceive cigarette smoke on them because I invented the use of straw as a cigarette holder. I would tie a straw to the butt of my cigarette and I’m good to smoke without leaving a telltale sign on my fingers.

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If by a very rare oversight or error, there were no perfumes at hand in my car or bag, I would open my car bonnet, get to the carburettor, loosen one hose and get some fuel to wash my hands and rub some in my hair to smell like the car broke down and I was at the mechanic’s fixing it.

However, at a time in my bachelor life, I literally looked in the mirror and spoke to myself. “Tunde, you can’t continue this way. Is this the kind of life you want your children to inherit from you?” I asked myself. And I said to myself, “I never saw my father smoke. Why would I be the one to lead my children to smoking?”

I didn’t decide to quit smoking for health reasons. I didn’t care at the time about its health implications. I quit because I didn’t want to be the one my unborn children would see and take to smoking. Smoking is a dirty habit, I tell you.

Quitting smoking was the singular most arduous achievement in my life. It wasn’t going to the university or building a house or buying a car. It was smoking. Quitting was war. I would light a cigarette, puff on it and tears would well up in my eyes. I would throw it away only to repeat the same process hours or a day later.

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Then I lifted my eyes unto the hill. I didn’t go before any pastor or imam. Each day, I spoke to myself and to the hearing of anyone who cared to listen, “I’ll stop smoking.” Many of my friends laughed, saying, “You? Devil dey go retirement?”

To be continued.

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

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Esan-born Lady Seeks Okpebholo’s Support To Replace Amputated Limb

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An unemployed Esan-born auxiliary nurse and mother of one, Happy Okojie, has cried out to the governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Monday Okpebholo to come to her aid in procuring a prosthetic limb to enable her live a normal life.

Okojie, who hails from Udomi clan in Esan Central Local Government Area of Edo State, rely on the benevolence of kind-hearted individuals for sustenance.

In an interview, she said she was lucky to be alive after surviving a car accident which led to her leg to be amputated in 2010.

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According to her, she decided to cry out to the APC governorship candidate, whom she calls ‘big brother’, for assistance to seek proper medical attention.

She added that having heard about his philanthropic gestures and support for the needy, she appealed to him to extend his philanthropic gesture to her.

She disclosed that, in 2012 she attended a prosthetic clinic in the United Kingdom, (UK) where she was assessed and provided with a prosthetic leg.

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She, however, lamented that the prosthetic leg had long expired prompting her to seek for support of her kinsman and other public spirited individuals for support.

She recalled that in 2017 and 2021 Governor Godwin Obaseki supported her financially but it wasn’t enough for her to make the trip to seek for medical assistance from her doctors in the UK.

She said, “Since I had the accident that left me incapacitated, life has been difficult for me and that is why I am using this opportunity to reach out to my ‘big brother’ distinguished Senator Monday Okpebholo, (aka Akpakomiza) to enable me get proper treatment by renewing my long expired prosthetic.

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“I have made several attempts to reach out to him all to no avail.”

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