With a tongue roughly twice the length of its body, and a brocade of dubious colours for skin, the chameleon is the ultimate invisible animal predator.
Without premonition, small creatures like worms and insects searching for daily bread disappear suddenly into the Bermuda Triangle in the belly of the dodgy chameleon via a sticky, snappy tongue.
Like worms and insects, in June 2021 alone, 1,032 Nigerians met sudden death in the hands of gunmen and kidnappers across the country, according to a fresh security report.
Approximately, the 1,032 casualty figure translates to 34.4 wasted lives per day, excluding deaths by sicknesses, auto accidents, extrajudicial killings, ritual killings, etc in a peaceful country in pieces.
Home or abroad, the fate of the average Nigerian is mournful.
Home-based Nigerians are plagued by physical and psychological deaths just like Nigerians abroad are not spared psychological torture and humiliation in Nigerian embassies.
The overwhelming corruption yet pervading most Nigerian embassies despite numberless media reports in the last six years attests to the failure of the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari led-regime in curbing dishonest dealings that have cemented the green passport in the hall of infamy.
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Lamenting the nasty treatment she went through in the hands of officials at the Nigeria High Commission in the UK, a registered nurse, Kemi Samuel, who has lived in England for over three decades, said she suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder whenever she visited the commission.
A registered nurse with more than 30 years under her belt, Samuel recalled that every Nigerian in England, notwithstanding their locations, was required to physically come to obtain visas, renew passports or get new ones.
Samuel explained that it was ridiculous that she renewed her 10-year British passport within two hours at Her Royal Majesty Passport Office, Globe House, London, while she laboured to renew her five-year Nigerian passport after visiting the high commission on seven different occasions.
She said, “If you want your British passport to be done as an emergency, you need to visit the passport office, but if you want to follow the normal process, it will arrive in your mail within four to five days.
“The reverse is the case in the Nigeria High Commission, where officials allow applicants to shunt the queue after bribing them. The officials were nasty to young and old, and they’ve no regard for children, women and the physically challenged. I was breastfeeding my baby and I had to leave my work each time I visited, meaning that I was losing money.
“In 1997, an immigration officer wanted to steal my passport at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. He hid my passport among the documents he was clutching and he said I didn’t give him my passport, and he was trying to walk away. I raised my voice and told him to bring out my passport from among the papers in his hands.
“In 2010 when I wanted to renew my passport, they said there were no booklets from Abuja, so I had to use my British passport.
“Between February and August of 2016, my daughter and I visited the high commission over 20 times to renew our passports! Nigerians came from other European countries to renew their passports, too.
“There was the pitiable case of a female Nigerian student who needed her passport to renew her studentship. She said that was the 11th time she had come to the commission.
“When we got to Nigeria, the carousel didn’t work as there was no light at the airport, prompting passengers to use the light of the phones. All that was strange to my daughter who suddenly felt pressed to use the toilet. She ran out of the toilet when she saw heaps of maggots.”
A Nigerian resident in Houston, Texas, who doesn’t want his name in print, lamented that he was asked to pay an unreceipted $20 as car park fee at the Nigerian embassy in Atlanta, Georgia.
The 50-year-old applicant, who is from southern Nigeria, said, “The embassy won’t process applications for more than one year, and after the expiration of one year, the applicant will be required to pay a fresh $195 as passport fee. Since it was the embassy that failed to produce passports as and when due, applicants should not be made to pay twice for passports.”
Nicknamed BB, the sad Nigerian also alleged that his online application was changed and ‘sold’ by embassy officials to another applicant who had bribed them.
“I picked up my American passport that can enable me to enter about 200 countries visa-free in my mailbox. I don’t know why my Nigerian passport, which nobody wants to see, is so problematic,” he said.
Complaining about the terrible treatment meted out to visa and passport applicants at the Nigeria High Commission in London, a Nigerian, Sunday John, said applicants were never given appointment when they apply online.
He said, “They won’t give you an appointment when you apply online because they make money by giving appointments to those who have bribed them.
“Passport fee is 75 pounds but they will charge you between 300 and 700 pounds through the backdoor. I refused to pay, and I’ve since not been able to take my wife and three children to see my mum in Nigeria.
“I wanted to open a business account but because I’m not British yet, my nationality was required. The non-issuance of a passport to me has put the business I’m planning to do on hold. I’ve vowed not to bribe them because if I do so, I’ll be encouraging corruption. Sadly, other African nationals in England get their passports in a matter of days.”
Sharing his ordeal, another Nigerian, Mr Frederick Oluwole, who has lived in New York for over 30 years, said passport production at the Nigerian embassy in Manhattan was delayed because of lack of ‘nylon’ covering for passport pages.
Oluwole said, “They took my unsigned money order from me. They didn’t allow me to write my name on it. What they would later do is to write their own name on it and collect the money on the order, and pocket it.
“They talk down on you as if they’re doing you a favour. An official had to fly to Nigeria to bring common ‘nylon’ which could have been sent through courier.”
It’s the same hopeless song in Ottawa where the Nigerian embassy in Canada is located.
Narrating his nightmare, a Nigerian, Valentine Abiodun, disclosed that calls to the embassy were never picked.
“When someone eventually picked my call after weeks of calling, I told him I had been calling the embassy repeatedly, the officer said he travelled. I was shocked, and I told him the embassy wasn’t a private business that should be held up by an official.
“I told him I had sent in my passport for renewal. He told me they’ve not received it. Because I was tracking the passport, I told him who received it at the embassy.
“Then, he said I should call back. When I called back, he said he had seen it, adding that he would stamp and send it to me through mail. I said he shouldn’t. By 2am that night, I got a car and travelled down to Ottawa, getting to the embassy in the morning to pick my passport.”
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A young Nigerian living in Mississauga, Ontario, Emmanuel Ogunlade, said he just received his renewed passport, which he had been processing since January 2020, two weeks ago.
Ogunlade said, “It was a terrible experience. I travelled to the Nigerian embassy, Ottawa, a journey of 427km, thrice after uncountable calls that were not answered before my passport was renewed even as I paid $23 twice for prepaid envelopes. They sent an email saying that they’ve sent my passport to me, but it was false. They later admitted they’ve not sent it.”
An anonymous female resident of Dubai said Nigerians now go to Abu Dhabi from Dubai to obtain their passports because of the hardship encountered at the Nigerian embassy in Dubai.
Uhhmm, Nigeria, under Buhari, is rich in corruption, home and abroad.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist, columnist with the Punch newspapers, and a guest writer with Info Daily.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
OPINION: Awolowo And The Bondsman In The Villa
There was a warlord, who acquired prominence by assembling a ragtag army, made up of slaves captured in various communities. The man was so powerful that even royals paid tributes (isakole) to him for the peace of their domains. His operations were very simple. Whenever he wanted to attack any community, he would send a slave from that particular community to lead the expedition. In many of such outings, the slaves visited uncommon destructions on their own homelands to prove their loyalty to their master.
But no matter how loyal a slave is, his head goes to the Ogun shrine whenever the god of iron requires the head of a human being. Slaves are such foolish people. They don’t realise that their masters will never sacrifice any of his own children at the shrine of Ogun. Loyalty in slavery is nothing but pure stupidity! So, one after the other, the slaves in the warlord’s household helped in annihilating their own people and towns, thus sealing, permanently, the hope of their liberation.
However, in the same army was the boldest of the slaves, called “Alayabioke” (He whose chest is as huge as a mountain). He was bold, fearless, courageous and faithful. Again, “faithfulness” in slavery? Alayabioke was the darling of his master. He was captured in one of the biggest towns that his master waged war against and won. Alayabioke’s town, after that initial defeat, went back and fortified the town and for so many years, resisted further incursion to their domain and refused to pay isakole to anybody. A day came when the warlord decided to teach the town a lesson the inhabitants would never forget. As usual, Alayabioke, being the boldest of the slaves as well as a native of the town penciled down for destruction, was asked to lead the assault. That is what the Yoruba would call “the king sends you on an errand, the Oba River is overflowing. You dare not refuse to deliver the king’s message; you dare not venture into Oba River at its peak”. Both options depict instant death.
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Alayabioke was in a dilemma. He mobilised the best of the soldiers, armed them and got the clan’s medicine man to fortify them. His master was impressed by his level of preparedness and he made the most fatal error: he chose not to go to the all-important battle, leaving everything to his most trusted slave. Meanwhile, as the day of battle drew near, Alayabioke secretly sent one of his trusted allies to his hometown to tell the people to vacate the town and camp round the valley on the outskirts of the town. On the day of the battle, the warlord’s army set out and surprisingly, they did not meet any resistance on the way. They got to Alayabioke’s town and met an empty community. Believing that the gods had fought their battle, the army simply looted the town and set the houses ablaze. Done, they put their swords in the sheaths and carried their loot on their heads for the onward journey home, singing the songs of victory.
Calamity however struck when they got back to the valley. Alayabioke’s kinsmen, who were waiting in the two wings, descended on them. Hampered by the loads on their heads and their swords tucked away in their sheaths, the waiting warriors made a massive kill of them. Expectedly, Alayabioke joined in the fray. He liberated his town and made an onward match to his master’s abode, where, together with his kinsmen, he set the community ablaze and ended the reign of terror of the warlord. Till date, Alayabioke remains that wise slave, who was sent on a bondsman’s message, but delivered it like a freeborn. Some slaves can be wise after all.
This story is unusually long. I concur. But in case the drift is lost, permit me to string it to the issue at hand. The warlord in our allegory is no other person than General Muhammadu Buhari. Yes, the same President and Commander-in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. His ragtag army are members of his inner cabinet and his “principal aides”. The communities that General Buhari has “conquered” in his presidency are the regions and nationalities that are different from his Fulani stock. The continuous wars he wages against the other nationalities are his unjust dispositions to the non-Fulani citizens of this country, whose legitimate rights to existence and equality as bonafide citizens of the land, Buhari, deliberately, fails to acknowledge. And of course, the “Alayabioke” of the presidency is our own Femi Adesina, who, whenever Buhari wants to wage any war against the Yoruba race, is handy, delivering the message albeit, without the wisdom of the allegorical Alayabioke.
The latest of such a message, delivered with a bondsman’s candour by Adesina, was his latest comparison of the inimitable Obafemi Awolowo with his master, Buhari. I will not bother about the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who, in a UK speech, described Buhari as “possibly the most popular Nigerian politician that we ever had in generations. He is possibly the only person, who can go into a place or somewhere without bossing people to gather and they will come and listen to him speak”. That is not my concern here. And the simple reason is that, Osinbajo, a professor, a lawyer and a pastor, applied the wisdom of Alayabioke by not pointing the left hand at his father’s house. He deliberately did not mention anybody’s name in his speech.
Adesina, as one of the most senior spokesmen to General Buhari, chose to amplify what Osinbajo said in faraway UK. In doing that, he went after the very best of humanity and made a comparison of them with his cataleptic master. “I am old enough to have seen our colorful and even swashbuckling politicians in action. I have seen the great Obafemi Awolowo; the charismatic Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik of Africa); Shehu Shagari, Amino Kano, M.K.O Abiola, Bashir Tofa and many others in action, but I have not seen anyone with the kind of attraction, magnetic pull that Muhammadu Buhari has. And that is round the country, north and south. People swarm around him as bees do to honey”, he said. In essence, what the senior journalist is saying here is “Nigerians are more attracted to Buhari than Awolowo, Azikiwe, Aminu Kano, and others in their ilk”! That godawful statement makes you feel like puking? I felt the same urge when I stumbled on it!
Where do we even start from? Awolowo and Buhari? How? Where? What parameters did Adesina employ? What is Adesina saying? Yes! True! I agree! Buhari has almajiri following, the ones he referred to in his “baboon and monkey” pre-2015 general election threat. But that is a pressure cooker popularity that is bound to return to its silent mode after this session of governmental banditry, when a more forward-looking president occupies Aso Rock. Or, is it the same crowd of poverty-stricken children of the North, manacled in violence, filth and penury by the northern elites, that Adesina is comparing to the intimidating crowd, which welcomed Awolowo in the North in the late 50s, such that the ruling Northern People’s Congress, (NPC), had to send herds of cow to disrupt the campaign? Oh my goodness! Our own Awo that people lined up the streets for hours just to catch a glimpse of? O ma se o, iku bola je (pity, death destroys that which is precious)! Comparing the late sage with Buhari is akin, quite sadly, to comparing the depths of Hades to the bright lights of the gate of Heaven! What a brass neck!
You may wish to ask: why did Adesina not compare Ahmadu Bello with Buhari? I will explain. Adesina carefully avoided mentioning Ahmadu Bello because the bondsman lacks the heart to attack the godfather of his god, Buhari.
How Femi Adesina got the nerve to benchmark inimitable Awolowo’s popularity with that of Buhari is a case in bewilderment, another “wonderfulment” (apology to the Benin politician, who first used the word in an interview, years ago). So Awolowo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, trained by the best brains in Britain; statesman; cerebral politician; the man with a cutting edge oratory, a philosopher of no mean repute; writer; essayist and lots more, is now in the same class with Buhari, a man, who, they said, could contest the presidency even with a NEPA bill because nobody could locate his school certificate? In a twist of contemporary history, those rave electors have since recanted; they have replaced that blind confidence in their lack-lustre idol with finger-biting elegy for their lost opportunity to use their legitimate franchise to put a righteous man in office.
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The Great Zik of Africa, master of the English Language, graduate of both Lincoln and Pennsylvanian universities; a lecturer; an anthropologist; Herbert Macaulay-trained political guru, is the one Adesina is saying Buhari, who Nasir El-Rufai, the current governor of Kaduna State, told us years back, was the only Nigerian senior military officer that failed all his senior military examinations in the history of Nigerian military, is better appreciated than! A man, who rose to become a General in the Nigerian Army without the suffixes “FSS, Psc, MNi” is now in the same rank with Awolowo, Azikiwe and Aminu Kano, who attended the Institute of Education, University of London? All because a man must please his master by all means?
Buhari is more popular than Awolowo, Zik and Aminu Kano combined; yet, in all his campaign rallies in the South-West, his handlers must evoke the name, Awo, for the crowd to respond, not just in 2015, but also in 2019, when you would have expected that his first four years would have been the key to open the doors for him. Adesina is telling us that in August 2017, when Buhari returned from one of his medical tourism trips to the UK, a huge crowd welcomed him back home such that they spent three hours from the airport to Aso Rock Villa. But in 2021, the same Buhari’s support and popularity had to be boosted by the hiring of non-Nigerians at the venue of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, USA?. A “Mai Gaskiya” (honest man), who sees nothing wrong in sharing N10, 000 as “trader money”, some weeks to his election?
We have a consolation that should not make us bother too much about Adesina and his bad sight at differentiating between Buhari’s almajiri crowd and the quality crowd of Awolowo, Azikiwe and Aminu Kano of yesteryear. We can only do him this favour of reminding the Ipetumodu-born publicist that “Ohun to ntan ni odun eegun ti omo Alagbaa (egugun priest) yi o fi owo ra akara”- the masquerade festival has a terminal date and this son of the chief priest of the Vila will come out once again to beg for akara. The local seat (apoti) surely waits patiently at home for his buttocks to come and sit down. The day beckons when his animal in the wild will require home-made fire to transform to dry meat. That day, we shall test his own “popularity contest”!
Suyi Ayodele is a senior journalist, South-South/South-East Editor, Nigerian Tribune and a columnist in the same paper.
OPINION: Rumble In The Jungle
Clothed in the gold and black stripes of a tiger, the honeybee is a commando in flight. Were it human, its life would’ve been the personification of tragedy. Being an insect, however, the bee life is the ‘insectification’ of a sweet-bitter existence because the bee is the soldier that falls on its own sword after stabbing its victim.
As for the snake, awe is the word. The snake is the snake; a killer needs no introduction, but eternal vigilance to protect against the fangs that freeze the blood to cease the breath.
There’s a similarity between the life of the bee and that of the everyday Nigerian. The bee, like the you-and-I Nigerian, is a workaholic, daily striving to add value to life through the production and protection of honey, which symbolises crude oil.
To repel the enemy, the bee strikes with its sting. And dies immediately because as the bee’s stinger pierces the flesh of the intruder, it gets hooked, and the stinger’s internal extension ruptures the abdomen when the bee tries to pull out the stinger from the victim’s flesh.
Like many Nigerian women who die daily while procreating, and protecting the caste, the female bee is the worker and soldier that dies after stinging the intruder. The male bee doesn’t meet such an awful fate.
The life of the snake is partially insured by its fangs. But the fangs of the snake don’t get hooked like the bee’s. The fangs are the hypodermic incisors that inject venom into the bloodstream, sending the victim on a journey of no return.
The snake is a metaphor for Nigeria’s powerful men of authority. It’s also the garb of guile worn by men of gourd parading as apostles and imams.
The snake means different things to different people. In India, some people have put the snake on their payroll and hired the deadly reptile to kill. An Indian, Sooraj Kumar, was on Wednesday handed a double life sentence for killing his wealthy wife with a cobra, so that he could inherit her fortune.
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A lower court in the Indian State of Kerala found Kumar guilty of starving a cobra and putting it in the room of his unnamed wife.
Premeditated murder through snakebite is becoming a trend in India just like Nigeria’s men of politics and religion employ assassins to get rid of their rivals.
A few days ago, the viral video emanating from an Islamic school in Ilorin, Kwara State, upset the sensibilities of right-thinking Nigerians, who were aghast over the gleeful and merciless beating of some adolescent male and female students.
One of the victims of the martyrdom, Nasirudeen Muhideen, said only one of them took alcohol at a schoolmate’s birthday party.
The prompt response of the Kwara State Government to the disturbing video is commendable. But the intervention shouldn’t stop at condemnation and setting up an investigative panel alone – culpable teachers must be brought to book and sent to rehab.
I do not totally condemn physical punishment on schoolchildren, but punishment should be administered in love – to correct, and not to annihilate – as was the case of the Ilorin madrasah incident – in which more than an eye, a tooth, and an eardrum could be lost.
Talking about the rod of discipline, the Good News Translation of the Holy Bible says in Proverbs 22:15 that, “Children just naturally do silly, careless things, but a good spanking will teach them how to behave.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics in an article, “Discipline vs. Punishment: What works best for children,” says “19 states (in the US) still allow public schools to use paddles or other physical punishment on kids,” adding that, “This adds up to about 163,000 students who are physically punished in school each year, according to recent data.”
The article, published on November 5, 2018, however, says “Corporal (physical) punishment also does not work,” stressing that, “The AAP is against physical punishment in and outside of school.”
The AAP urges parents to employ the following healthy discipline methods for children and teens: praise good behaviour, be a role model for good behaviour, set limits and expectations, and ignore bad behaviour or redirect children away from bad behaviour.
For his erudition and poise, I admire Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. I also have profound respect for Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media to Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). But I think lawyer Osinbajo and adviser Adesina’s belief that Soja Buhari ‘is possibly the most popular Nigerian politician that we ever had in generations,’ was profane.
It’s true that Osinbajo didn’t particularly mention Chief Obafemi Awolowo or Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe or Mallam Aminu Kano in the speech he delivered in London. It was Adesina, the mouthpiece, who cast his net of disrespect into the sea of falsehood, and announced Awo, Zik, and Kano as the fries his net caught – when compared to Buhari.
Listen, ogbeni Adesina, what endears citizens to leadership is the fulfilment of their dreams and aspirations, a pedestal upon which Buhari slipped and crashed face down from the Rock called Aso since 2015.
Not even in the zoo or in the wild can inhabitants love their leader for senseless bloodshed, insecurity, hunger and hopelessness: I solemnly reckon that such love and existence belong in hell.
My head dropped in shame when I read, “(Buhari is) possibly Nigeria’s most popular politician that we have had in generations.” No doubt, Osinbajo is a smart lawyer who has a way with words. But his assertion is the same illogic that fed the lie to Buhari’s consistent denial that the late dictator and rogue general, Sani Abacha, wasn’t corrupt.
Instead of calling a thief a thief, Buhari, according to an article in The Vanguard, on May 9, 2016, said, “Nigeria is awaiting receipt from Swiss Govt. of $320 million, identified as illegally taken from Nigeria under Abacha.” The 2016 vague reference to Abacha’s kleptomania came after many years of Buhari standing by his criminal Kanuri benefactor.
If Buhari says Abacha is not corrupt, it is clear why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission have been busy building sandcastles and playing Ludo with the anti-corruption war.
The immediate past acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, was swept out of office in a wave of fraudulent allegations just as no former member of the Peoples Democratic Party who defected to the All Progressives Congress has been convicted despite multi billion dollar financial fraud charges levelled against them.
Abacha’s kinsman, who is wanted in the US by the FBI over an internet scam, Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari, has yet to be released by the corruption-fighting Nigerian state headed by Buhari 80 days after the FBI request.
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As I lift my head from my sad chest, I’m in severe pain, like ex-Ekiti governor, Ayo Fayose, to think that it is Buhari, whose secondary school certificate hasn’t returned from AWOL, whom Awo is being compared with.
As a former editor, Adesina surely knows that Awo’s name was used by the leadership of the APC in the South-West to sway votes in favour of Buhari in 2015 and 2019.
Why do you need to beg for votes in my name if you’re more popular than me?
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Awo was a British-trained lawyer, philosopher, writer, publisher and the greatest political leader ever to come out of Nigeria.
Zik schooled at Lincoln University, where he earned a BA degree in Political Science, and a Master’s degree in Religion just as he earned another Master’s degree in Anthropology from Pennsylvania University, and taught at Lincoln University. Like Awolowo had a political philosophy called Awoism, Zik also had Zikism.
A true lover of the talakawa, Mallam Kano attended the Institute of Education, University of London. He was a great leader in the true sense of it. He wasn’t like that wicked leader in whose mouth fried meat was missing.
The labour of our heroes shall never be in vain.
Tunde Odesola is a seasoned journalist columnist with the Punch newspaper and a guest writer with Info Daily.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Edo Speaker: One Year of Purposeful Leadership [OPINION]
History was made on Monday, October 12th, 2020, when Hon. Marcus Iziegbeaya Onobun emerged Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly.
The lawmaker, who got to the house by virtue of the votes of his constituents in Esan West, by this occurrence became one of the youngest politicians to become a Speaker in the history of Nigeria.
Rt. Hon. (Ambassador) Onobun hails from Idumoza Quarters, Iruekpen, Ekpoma, in Esan West Local Government Area of Edo State.
He studied at the Ambrose Ali University(AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, where he bagged a B.Sc. (Hons) in Geography and Regional Planning. Upon his graduation he joined the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN).
He was the Pioneer Coordinator, Action Youths for Oshiomhole; General Secretary, Edo in Safe Hands and President, Esan Peace Initiative. From 2008 – 2012 he was Special Assistant to former Governor Adams Oshiomhole. Thereafter, the governor elevated him to the position of Senior Special Assistant on Youth Matters.
From that position he was elevated to Executive Director, Youth Affairs, Edo State.
Rt. Hon. Onobun is a Change Ambassador, Common Wealth Society of Nigeria; Youth Ambassador of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) and Ambassador of Peace, Global Forum for Peace, Justice and Human Rights.
Before his emergence as Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, he was Deputy Leader of the House and Chairman, House Committee on Infrastructure, Physical Planning and Urban Development. He later became the Chief Whip of the legislature.
History will recall his achievement in ensuring that the relationship between the legislative and executive arms of government in the state is cordial in contrast to what was obtainable in yester years.
The dutiful legislator has sponsored scores of bills and moved lots of motions in the course of his carrying out his constitutional assignment.
He is happily married with children. By his posturing he has further made a case for the proponents of the Not Too Young to Run Campaign.
Ray .E. Idaho writes from Benin City
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