By Rafiq Omogbai
A few years ago the Edo State Government wanted to sell the Edo House on 1225, Ahmadu Bello Way and 1225 Bishop Oluwole Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. The Edo State Government, precisely, in 2013, announced plans to sell the house and use the proceeds to develop Edo State. The government promised it will utilise its economic value for the overall good of the people of Edo State.
But the proposed sale came under frontal attack by stakeholders who were opposed to the idea because it would amount to selling one of the many legacies, Edo State inherited after the breakup of Bendel State into Edo and Delta.
At that time, the Edo House was valued at N3.5 billion and was the most priced asset of the state. With a large army of qualified Estate Valuers of Edo State origin who were not given the opportunity to partake in the process, many suspected foul play. Others felt that the botched sale of Edo House was designed to meet the interest of a top government official who was acquiring the property for his personal use.
Stakeholders suspected foul play when an advertorial placed in national dailies for the sale of the property stated that “the client has no obligation to accept the highest or any bid”. Yet the government said its reason was to get more money, but rejected the highest bid!
Just now, the news is all over that the Edo State Government, under the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki, who has failed to unveil an Executive team one year after he was elected, has sold the Edo Library Complex and the age-long State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to a multinational firm.
Edo Library Complex is located along Sapele Road and opposite Imaguero College, Benin City, while the State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in existence since the excision of Midwest State from Western region is on Central Road, in the state capital.
The Library was relocated from its former premises at New Lagos Road, Benin City to a more Central location to allow for easier access by the government of Chief Lucky Igbinedion. He ensured that, on commissioning, it had the best library facilities in the country to the extent that people come from far and near for research work.
Edo Library was the envy of other states as it had a branch in every local government headquarters across the three senatorial zones. The library system so flourished that it was explored by legal luminaries, the poor and the wealthy persons.
With a board of its own, it was to be merged with the Ministry of Education under the supervision of the Commissioner for Education and its deterioration began. Students and others were made to pay before they could use public libraries in the state.
Poor funding became its lot and qualified hands left. And the Library complex, became dysfunctional without electricity, water but with old staff and old obsolete books. Most of the books in the branches are worse hit with very outdated, and out of stock books. Government stopped supplying books, claiming workers were stealing them.
This is the sad tale of Edo Library which complex Mr Obaseki wants to sell along with the MANR. He has not told anyone why he is selling the places. He did not even announce plans to sell the place and use the proceeds to develop Edo State. He has not said he plans to utilise its economic value for the overall good of the people of Edo State.
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The market value of the two complexes has not been published online or offline as there are reports that it is one of the most underpriced asset of the state. Estate Valuers of Edo State origin were not given the opportunity to partake in the covert process, leading to their purported sale. There are very strong undeniable insinuations that sale was for a top government official who is acquiring the property for his personal use.
There was no advertorial placed in national dailies for the sale of the properties for interested bids. This is horrendous and must be stopped. Selling Edo Library without any due process is bad on its own not to mention selling it to a foreign firm like ShopRite that has packed and left many Nigerian cities in recent times.
What is the investment sense or economic wisdom in selling Edo library complex built with tax payers money to this private company? How can ShopRite be Obaseki’s problem right now? If he is so keen on having the trading firm in Benin City, common sense would say ummake use of the land beside Dumez Road which the previous adminstration was planning for the same purpose. Edo people are waiting and watching for Governor Obaseki to come out publicly to speak to this issue. He cannot hide under the toga of bringing investment to the state to fritter away our assets. Anything else is illegal. Enough is enough.
… Omogbai is a prince of the Uzairue Kingdom
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