I entered Akinola Maja Street, Jericho, Ibadan and approached the Superintendent of Police who was the most senior officer on the scene and after checking his name tag, I greeted him and identified myself, in my characteristic manner; “my name is Wole Adejumo, I work with The Street Journal”. I told him I noticed unusual movements and I came to check what was going on. “It is nothing serious, just a routine exercise”, he replied. So I stood by, blended with the already gathering crowd and looked on.
As the officers marched the suspects out of the premises of a petroleum haulage outfit, I brought out my camera and clicked away. I had barely taken the second picture when a hand tried to snatch the camera from behind me. I turned round to face the person and ensure that I didn’t lose the camera. Behold, it was a police sergeant and within a minute, another policeman had joined him.
I kept struggling until it crossed my mind that struggling for a camera with two men carrying Kalashnikov rifles might not be a very sensible thing to do, especially with the many cases of ‘accidental discharge’ that I had heard of. Help was not coming from any of the bystanders. I left the camera and almost immediately, the Sergeant bellowed at me, “sit down there”. Of course seeing that the rifles were no longer on their shoulders but in their hands, my compliance was not delayed.
Right there, I was dispossessed of my phones and voice recorder. Minutes seemed like hours and the two policemen were already accusing me of being a “spy”. They put a call through to their superior officer while I sat there on the asphalt. Fortunately, the phone was on speaker, so I heard the conversation audibly. When the Sergeant reported that they had caught me, the response from the other end was “is it the guy wearing a green shirt and blue trousers? Leave him, he is a journalist”. That was how I got to know that it was the Superintendent at the other end. The Sergeant however gave reasons for which they should hold me. “He is a spy, we caught him taking pictures, sir”, he said. This time, the Superintendent said “don’t mind him, he is a foolish man. Wait for me”.
On his arrival, I was ordered to stand up and move towards the patrol van he rode in. He asked what they took from me. When I told him the items, he looked at the Sergeant and said “return his phones”.
By the time I retrieved the camera from the office of the Police Public Relations Officer later, the pictures had been wiped. My voice recorder was never found! Of course, being an expert in damage control, the PPRO apologized and said they were doing their job just as I was doing mine. He gave reasons we should be friends, especially since we had the same godfather. That was around June, 2010.
It didn’t come as a surprise that the then Superintendent’s name appeared conspicuously on the list of officers rumoured to have been penciled down for reprimand by the Force as a fallout of the Anti-SARS protests. Though the Force debunked the list, it might be an indication that the senior officer in question has always had potentials for controversy.
While I cannot claim to have had an encounter with the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), I have friends who cannot say the same.
Way back in 2003, Tunde Aluko was caught in their web twice. The first was when policemen came and claimed that he and two other neighbours were apprehended at the scene of a robbery and they were in SARS custody. The second was when he stopped by at one of the ‘joints’ on Ring Road to buy cigarettes. Gun wielding policemen came and arrested him.
My friend left Nigeria some months after. Why? One of the SARS officers issued him what seemed like a personal threat. “You know this is the second time they would bring you here. You wear designer clothes, expensive watches and jewelries, yet you claim to be a student. If you are brought here a third time, I will shoot you”, the officer told him. Since his mum, who was the source of the designer clothes and watches was not ready to lose him to an embittered policeman’s bullet; she took the all-important steps of taking him out of the country.
As we already know, SARS is not self-existent; it is a unit in the Police Force. As such, officers in the disbanded unit will be transferred to other units, thus retaining them as members of the Force. They will undoubtedly operate with the same character.
The truth is that the whole Police Force needs to be overhauled. For instance, the officer that shot and killed Jimoh Isiaka during the #EndSARS Protest in Ogbomoso was not from SARS. Gone are the days when the Force enlisted passionate young people. Not a few of the present crop of policemen are doing the job for want of a better choice. That explains why many officers are unhappy when they see someone that appears to be doing well.
The squalor in the Police College has become an open secret and one wonders how officers trained under such squalid conditions are expected to be happy to secure other citizens.
Quite unfortunately, it is not just a police problem. Earlier in the week, a truck parked on what was supposed to be the fast lane at the popular Mobil Junction leading to Oluyole Estate. Not only did the truck obstinately obstruct traffic, some youths were beside it dancing right there on the road. It was just around 6:50 when people were returning from work. They were marketing a certain “bitters” which was relatively new in the market. They rebuffed my efforts to make them realize that they were wrong to have blocked the road. “Motor wey big pass your own don pass here, oga dey go”, some of them told me as they started banging on my car.
It may not be wrong to infer that from politicians to policemen, community and religious leaders; it is with relentless vigour that people use their positions as tools of oppression and enrichment.
That explains why internet fraudsters suddenly became the prime target of SARS officers. Policemen want money and since Yahoo Boys are cashing out illegitimately, police officers have taken it upon themselves to get a piece of the cake.
Who would blame the policemen? The dilapidation in the average police barrack is more than enough to becloud the vision and competence of even the most upright man in the force. Hardly can any officer living in such an environment give peak performance at work. And sadly, years ago, the Police, SARS inclusive became a tool often deployed by big men to harass people and settle scores.
So when SARS started arresting fraudsters, no one bothered to ask whether powers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were being usurped or whether the Police Anti-Fraud Unit had become extraordinarily useless to the point of not being able to handle internet fraud.
Given the same opportunity under the same conditions, many of the #EndSARS protesters and by extension, average Nigerians would fare worse than the people they are protesting against. So, it is not just the Police Force that needs reforms, the government of Nigeria at all levels, and every Nigerian needs to be reformed and re-orientated in one way or the other.
While we look towards ending police brutality once and for all, we also need to look into other forms of abuse that have impeded Nigeria’s progress thus far. For instance, the Manager who will not employ a female applicant unless she warms his bed, the female student who is willing to give sex in exchange for good grades, the lecturer who is willing to aid such student, the civil servant who will not move a file unless he gets a tip and the electorate who sell their votes to the highest bidder are all as bad as the police officers we are all criticizing.
Sir Winston Churchill once said “if you are going through hell, keep going”. The youth have channeled a course and with the assurance that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, the journey into a better Nigeria seems to have only just begun.
Trouble Fighting Corruption In Nigeria | By Abba Dukawa
The corrupt man is everywhere, the man on the street, the man next door, the man in the church or mosque, the man in the market or the departmental store, the policeman on beat patrol and the soldier at the check point (Okadigbo, 1987)
The present administration came to power through the change mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari with his top three cardinal promises of “economic development, fighting insecurity and corruption”. But the country is still languishing in extreme poverty as result of corruption and the fight against corruption has become a mere political statement.
Nigerians are alienated, angry and fed up with the way the fighting corruption is being handled with the slow pace of the fight against corruption since the administration came to power.
Regrettably, it is under the watch of this present administration that Nigeria’s corruption perception index published by Transparency International has nosedived. With the current ranking, Nigeria is now the second most corrupt country in West Africa with Guinea-Bissau being the only country more corrupt than Nigeria in the sub-region. The country scored 26 out of 100 points, a drop from the 27 points that it has maintained since 2017. In the 2018 index, Nigeria rose by four places on the index from 148 to 144 and also dropped two places in 2019, ranking 146 out of the 180 countries.
Since 2015, Transparency International reports indicated that the administration’s war against corruption could not be said to be effective in the light of the poor performance of the EFCC in several high-profile corruption cases like defencegate,PDP Campagn funds and the most publicised case of a former petroleum minister.
But the trouble with the anti-corruption agency in Nigeria is clearly lack of political will from leaders of the agencies assigned with the responsibility of fighting corruption in the country as corruption cases have been on the increase. The anti-corruption agencies have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are not able to translate their anti–corruption “crusade” into action.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act (2004) empowered the commission to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes and it is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes.
But 17 years after the establishment of the agency, strangely, all former chairmen of the commission were allegedly removed for undisclosed abuse of office.
There is no doubt that the new chairman of the EFCC will be facing an herculean task and may not like to go the way of his predecessors. He has the urgent challenge of regaining the confidence of Nigerians by turning around the commission to achieve its objectives.
Many Nigerians are expecting much from the new chairman as he takes over the mantle of leadership because corruption cases have been on the increase despite the anti–corruption campaigns. The new chairman is expected to be an agent of change in fighting the common enemy that has frustrated the realization of country’s economic development despite the enormous natural and Human Resources.
Perhaps, the new chairman should strengthen the collective effort in citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption as this will increase the chances of engaging non-state actors, especially the media and civil society organizations, in providing information to the public in line with the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
Some other expectations of Nigerians include reform of the commission and ensuring a fair and balanced fight against corruption in the country as an officer who passed through the ranks of the commission. He should ensure that there is synergy between the EFCC and other sister anti-graft agencies like the ICPC and other law enforcement agencies in order to produce the needed results in the fight against corruption.
It will be recalled that the slow pace of court cases and financial settlements made by wealthy individuals and entities outside of the courtroom have impeded successful prosecution of cases. The convictions of two former governors, Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye, have failed to convince the public of the sincerity and effectiveness of the war against corruption.
Need for the establishment of a special anti-corruption tribunal by the National Assembly to facilitate speedy determination of hundreds of corruption cases before the nation’s courts will aid the war against corruption.
DUKAWA, writes from Kano state
Arogidigba as the trouble with Southern Nigeria | By Festus Adedayo
An old photograph currently sits regally in the living room of a top Nigerian politician. Shot sometime in 1954, some 67 years ago, ostensibly in the old Osun Division of the Western Region, it was taken after a meeting of monarchs of the Division with Premier of the region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The meeting had in attendance almost all first class Obas of Yorubaland. They wore their beaded crowns of Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours hue. After the meeting, the photo session took place.
In the photograph, on the front row was the Premier, sitting in the middle. He wore a resplendent white agbada. Of particular significance was that, Awolowo had his cap removed and held in his hands, apparently in reverence to the Obas. To the left of Awo was Oba Samuel Adenle, the Ataoja of Osogbo. On same front row was Oba Adetoye Laoye, Timi of Ede, donning his animal skin crown. On same row were: Oba Lawani Adeyemi, Akirun of Ikirun; Oba Mosees Oyinlola, Olokuku of Okuku and four other natural rulers. Standing behind Awolowo, without his cap on too, was Chief S. L. Akintola, who by then was the Deputy Leader of the Action Group party. SLA was flanked by other apparently lesser Obas and other people who, from their dressing, must have been chiefs and aides of the Obas of the Osun Division.
Last week, some 67 years after, in the same Yorubaland, a similar meeting held and consequently, another photograph emerged. That photograph spoke eloquently and unambiguously about the tidal wave that has swept off importance, dignity of Yoruba traditional rulers and replaced them with arrogance of the governmental elite. The venue was a security meeting held in the Oyo State governor’s office in Ibadan. Present there were governors, security chiefs and Obas of the Southwest geopolitical zone.
They included Governors Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and host governor, Seyi Makinde. Like the earlier one held 67 years ago, after the meeting, it was time for a photo session and this was the sitting arrangement: The governors, like some matadors, sat on the front row and behind them, standing like cowed captives, were first class natural rulers in Yorubaland, ranging from the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, to the Ooni of Ife and others.
After the Ibadan meeting, I asked a foremost traditional ruler in Oyo State what the place of the Yoruba was in the current precarious equation. He sent me this text: “Take a look at the picture (taken) at the governor’s office yesterday. The Obas stood behind the governors. It cannot happen in the North. We are just being treated like table water on the table during official functions.” It is the same trouble with virtually all parts of Southern Nigeria. After quaffing champagne and whiskey of immense proportion, governors piss on the faces of their monarchs. The other day, Nyesom Wike of Rivers State tongue-lashed the traditional ruler of Omuma, King Onyekachi Amaonwu, whom he accused of shaking his head while he, the Emperor with gruffy voice, spoke.
“Stop shaking your head! You!You! You are one of those who are causing problem. They gave you chieftaincy, you’re a young boy, you don’t know what to do with it and then when I am speaking, you’re shaking your head like this… He will just go and wear something bigger than him. You will think he is an elderly man. I remember when I was in school, he was running around.” Wike lampooned the monarch.
Pens are reputed to be mightier than swords. So are photographs. They are mightier than a thousand words. Photographs evoke metaphors, imageries and diverse interpretations. Krista Neher, an influencer, was quoted to have said that the human brain has a cheetah-speed power to process images 60,000 times faster than words. In a November 15, 2020 piece I wrote entitled The Starved Lion of Kaduna, I cited the award-winning photograph of Kevin Carter, which appeared in The New York Times of March 26, 1993.
It was the picture of Kong Nyong, a famine-struck Sudanese boy, initially thought to be a girl. Nyong had collapsed of intense hunger and lay on his face in the hot dessert sun of Sudan, with an empty food bowl hidden beside his face. In the photograph, Nyong also had a beaded necklace of his Sudanese nationality jutting out of his feeble neck. He was said to be on his way to Ayod, the United Nations ration centre in Sudan, a journey of about a half kilometer. All of a sudden, his strength failed him and he collapsed. That picture, which went mega viral, led to Kevin Carter winning the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1994. It also provoked events leading to him committing suicide.
Two issues, one interfacing the other, engaged my thoughts as the week that just ended rolled to a close. The first was the photographs above which spoke harmlessly but evocatively about the power of pictures and their constructive and destructive ability. Like Carter’s, it spoke so glibly about the current situation of the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria. This provoked my delving into the second issue personified in a character called Arogidigba in the book Ireke Onibudo, one of the works of D. O. Fagunwa, Yoruba’s pre-colonial master of fantasy literature. Fagunwa deployed phantasm as a tool of literary imagination. Piecing the two issues together and placing them side by side the two photographs above, you can get an explanation into why Yoruba are easy preys in the hands of their present-day Arogidigba.
Aside the photographs, let me delve into the second issue. In pursuit of his phantasm as a literary tool, Fagunwa created queer characters to reinforce his obsession with the fantabulous. In all of his creative and imaginative endeavours, he forged a retinue of unforgettable gothic characters whose names made hairs on the skin stand up. One of such is the ebullient, mythic character he labeled Arogidigba. Sounding almost like some kind of onomatopoeia, Fagunwa’s characters were all carved to create evergreen effects in the mind. The characters were ebullient in their roles and names, garnished in descriptive imageries that drop the jaws in wonder of his literary prowess. The Fagunwa descriptive power was so high that his mastery of labels of animals earned him the sobriquet of a writer-taxonomist.
In Aditu Olodumare, for instance, there was an illustration of Baba Onirugbon Yeuke, the man with a weirdly bushy beard, who cradled his tobacco pipe mysteriously and sat on a hilltop, beside the cusp of a rock. Appended to his illustration in the book was the description: Baba onirugbon yeuke eni ti n gbe ’bi gegele okuta. The characters are also Ajantala, Ogongo Baba Eye (Ostrich, the King of Birds), Ibembe Olokunrun, Aramanda Okunrin, Anjonnu Iberu, Esu Kekereode, Olohun Iyo, Ojola Ibinu and ad infinitum. Each spoke to the character of the characters, thus making this mysterious writer to enrich the mind with fables. Oh, Fagunwa was in a class of his own!
Sorry, I digressed. Another Yoruba great master of cinematography, Tunde Kelani, refreshed our memory of Fagunwa during the week. (By the way, TK clocked 73 last week; Happy birthday, sir). In one of his cinematographic works codifying for posterity imperishable Yoruba literary works, Kelani got Fagunwa’s Ireke Onibudo, written in 1949 read, from Pages 63 to 76. It was the story of the protagonist, Ireke Onibudo, whose boat capsized while on a voyage on the sea. He then found himself right inside the bottom of the sea, arrested by mythic fish world police and taken to the court of the King of the Sea called Arogidigba. Arogidigba was a gothic character who bore an admixture of features of a human being and the physiology of an aquatic being. She also had a long tail affixed to her voluptuous body.
Fagunwa’s descriptive power is awesomely and powerfully deployed here as he brings his characters to you in scarily unambiguous manner. Soon, Ireke Onibudo was shepherded to the front of Arogidigba, whose imperial and beautiful palace, festooned with ornaments, had the inscription, Palace of Arogidigba, King of Fishes. It was there Ireke Onibudo realized that, to celebrate her anniversary on the stool, Arogidigba specifically asked for fleshes of human beings as propitiation to her marine deities. This was reason for the deliberate capsize of Ireke Onibudo’s boat.
As fish palace guards moved to drag their captive to the presence of Arogidigba, the regal fish god shouted an epigrammatic description of humanity which you cannot but find apposite: “Hold it! Human beings must never get close to me! Who is a human being? He is a scorpion that inflicts immense pain on his fellow being, a rattlesnake under the grass; an object poised on a destruction of humanity. Human being possesses a blunt sword and walks aimlessly on the surface of the earth. Who has your God-given majesty, man? Human beings couch daily devious plans against fishes! Small and big fishes are preys in your hands. You kill them aimlessly….” She promised to make Ireke Onibudo’s entrails fill her pot of soup that night.
Now, I return to the two photographs earlier described. Separated in time by 67 years, at a structural level, they speak eloquently and unambiguously about the regression in estimation and importance of the relationship between Yoruba political and natural leaders. 1950s and 1960s Nigeria was when natural rulers and traditional title holders played significant roles in the leadership and governance of their people. All those monumental achievements in Awo’s name could never have been achieved if the traditional institution was playing the united but separated seeds-of-a-walnut role to government. While Sir Adesoji Aderemi was Governor of the Western Region, Odemo of Isara, Samuel Akinsanya, was Minister without Portfolio, between 1952 and 1955. So also was the Aholu Jiwa II of Jegba, Oba Claudius Dosa Akran, who intermixed politics with traditional rulership. He had earlier been nominated as head of Jegba, Badagry quarters in 1948 and appointed traditional leader in 1950. He represented Badagry in the 1951 parliament and was a major member of the Action Group of the Akintola rump who later became regional Minister of Finance between 1962 and 1966.
At the superficial level, the photo issue may sound very inconsequential on the list of the problems that assail Yorubaland. It is however symbolic of the total malaise; of William Butler Yeats’ things that have fallen apart and the falcon that cannot hear the falconer. There is a master/servant relationship today between Southern governmental leaders and their natural rulers. Castrated by the constitution and relegated to playing second fiddle in their jurisdictional enclaves, security-wise, Nigerian governors are powerless. On the insecurity that currently afflicts the south, these governors cannot be said to be strategizing enough, in concert with their natural rulers. These rulers have the ears of their domains. The synergy needed to smoke out blood-sucking Fulani herdsmen who kill and maim their people is absent within them, whereas together, they and the traditional rulers can eliminate the Fulani menace without firing a single shot.
I must however add that the quality of natural rulers has dwindled shamefully. This is the Satanic outcome of appointments of less-than stellar persons into traditional stools. On revered stools today are acknowledged fraudsters, drug addicts and vacant-minded ones. Many of them mount the stool so as to be able to superintend over sales of wide expanse of lands. No one in their right senses can take such characters seriously. One of them recently said, like one under the influence of cannabis, that he would take in smoked out murderous Fulani herdsmen into his domain. Can you blame the governor of his state if he does not strategize with such a fellow?
Right now, Nigeria is literally quaking and gasping for breath. Untrained Almajiri children, the born-trowey – apologies to Patience Jonathan – who, Awolowo warned decades ago, would be our national albatross, have now grown full throttle. They periodically reify their angers against the iniquitous Hausa/Fulani feudal system which literally threw them away, shortly after their births and almost the moment they were weaned. This is manifest in their abduction of schoolchildren, and how they seek ransom from offspring of their leaders who made their lives miserable from infancy. They unleash bloody recompense against the Hausa-Fulani elites and by consequence, the rest of Nigeria.
While growing up as almajiri, they were at the mercy of the northern elite who heap left-over foods at them to eat. Today however, the table has turned. Having now grown into adulthood, that selfsame elite is at their mercy as they kidnap their children and make life unlivable for them. They are the willing recruits of Boko Haram in the Northeast and are the notorious bandits of the Northwest. As at last week, security tracker said that 222 people were killed, 103 kidnapped in seven days in Nigeria and a preponderance of this figure came from the North. The previous week, one of the fat maggots of that feudal system, who today cannot go to his homestead because Boko Haram insurgents have made his ancestral abode inaccessible, blamed southwest leaders for not providing leadership. You would think he was writing a script of dramatic irony.
But in all these, what is the response of southern Nigeria to the impending doom being ferried down South from the North? Reports had it that, towards the tail end of last week, foodstuffs from the North were being stopped in Jebba and diverted to neighbouring African countries. To me, this is great news. It looks like this is the point where the true federalism we canvass and howl about would come into practical manifestation. This should be a wakeup call on the south. Let the South double down on food production.
Do southern Nigerian governors know that they should have a strategic response to the ruinous violence from the northern flank? Because these governors are castrated by the constitution, their traditional rulers are the most appropriate organ that can activate the Southern agenda under the backcloth. Today, Sheikh Gumi, a visceral hater of anyone whose descent isn’t from Fouta Djallon, is traversing northern forests and is not arrested for being an accessory after the fact of the spate of killings in the north.
That same system that chose to be blind to Gumi as accessory after the fact of kidnapping and killing, is alive to its responsibility and attempting to arrest Sunday Igboho. Igboho is merely seeking to rescue his people from the hands of people who, in the name of Fulnai nationality, want to wipe them off inside their own domain. Gumi is spewing out very foul outbursts against offspring of those who cultured, from birth, their own children away from a life sans education. In demanding a nebulous amnesty for gun-wielding forest-dwelling bloodhounds, Gumi wants the north to eat its cake and have it. His method is to get the Nigerian state to dedicate chunks of its national proceeds from the oil dredged in the Niger Delta to placate bandits. These are the same people who the Northern feudal system born trowey and have become its open sore. What nonsense!
Neither Muhammadu Buhari, who is the Arogidigba of this destructive system and under whom the Nigerian state has become finally castrated and comatose, nor Yemi Osinbajo, who can conveniently be said to have been captured by Arogidigba and her comity of flesh-eating beings within, can help southern Nigeria formulate the answer needed to the current nuisance of the Nigerian state. You heard the chronology of thoughts of northern governors, senators and top office holders in the last couple of weeks, in defence of killers of their people. Their voices are in support of the same bandits whose lives they fractured right from birth. You think it was a happenstance? No! It is a strategy.
The North, like the Arogidigba, seems to have arrested the South and deactivated its reasoning process. After holding the South captive, it began to spew century-old phlegm on its face like that mythic fish god did on Ireke Onibudo. Similar to what Chinua Achebe said in his The Trouble with Nigeria, the problem of strategic thinking is the trouble with southern Nigeria. The earlier a forward-looking strategy is developed, the better for that region. Not doing this will make Arogidigba harvest Southern Nigerian entrails inside its bloodthirsty pot of soup.
S/West PDP Zonal Congress: Makinde unveils Ex- Oyo deputy gov, Arapaja, as state’s nominee for chairmanship
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-West Zone held a zonal caucus meeting in Ibadan on Tuesday, where they stressed the need for a united front ahead of the zonal congress of the party slated for March 6.
The leaders, who spoke severally, including Governor ‘Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State, Senator Olu Alabi, Senator Abiodun Olujinmi, Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin, and former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, harped on the need for conciliation and unity of purpose ahead of the party’s zonal congress.
At the meeting, which had in attendance serving and former governors, serving and former members of the National and State Assemblies, members of the Board of Trustees and National Executive Committee, members of the national and state working committees of the PDP in the zone, as well as former appointees to the president from the zone, some modalities for the March 6 congress were also discussed.
In his speech, Governor Makinde stressed that the party must be united and reconciled and that the Prince Oyinlola reconciliation committee had been going about its responsibilities though overtures from it were being rebuffed by some individuals.
He stated that the zonal caucus meeting, which was held at the premises of the Presidential Lodge of the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, was history in the making, saying that the redemption of the country politically could not take place without the contributions of the South-West zone.
He stated that the meeting heralded a zonal congress that would help put in place a new PDP zonal executive in the South-West region, which, according to him, will help to install a new government at the federal, National Assembly and state levels in 2023.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank the reconciliation committee we set up, ably led by former Governor Oyinlola. He made sure that the necessary things were done to bring everyone together. At the end of the day, I believe we will have a reconciled and united party in Southwest PDP.
“We are on the verge of history. A lot of people may not know but I can give you the assurance that our coming together to put in our executives that will lead our party in the South-West zone is history in the making. This is because there cannot be redemption for our country without the participation of the South-West. And our party will provide right leadership for the country in 2023.
“The journey to install PDP in 2023 is starting now with this zonal congress. So, I can only pity those who are staying outside and throwing stones inside. I want to also state that history will record their position accurately. I will encourage us to urge them to come in. We have the reconciliation committee already. This committee has been trying to reach out to them and they have said they are not ready to participate.
“We will continue to reach out to them because if we are all united, we have the chance to redeem Nigeria,” the governor said.
He added the zone had during the last meeting, zoned out executive positions to the six states.
The governor equally used the occasion of the meeting to unveil a former Deputy Governor of Oyo State and Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Lebanon, Chief Arapaja, as Oyo State’s sole nominee for the chairmanship post in the zone, which he said had earlier been zoned to the state.
He noted that the name of Arapaja was arrived at after thorough consultations across the state, adding that he was also chosen as the state’s nominee because whoever would be zonal chairman should have depth and experience.
Makinde also called for inclusiveness in all the six states of the zone, urging leaders to go back home and arrive at amicable arrangement to fill posts zoned to their respective states. He said that his expectation and message to all leaders were that they should peacefully select the candidates for posts zoned to each state as well as the ex-officio members, as, according to him, the election of ex-officios would also take place during the congress.
The governor also urged leaders to pay attention to the party’s directive that 30 per cent of all posts should be conceded to women.
He said: “I want to also urge that, for each of our state, let us ensure there is inclusiveness. All the tendencies in our different states, let us all come together and agree on whoever we want to put in each of those positions so that by the time we get here by March 6th, the exercise will be funfair. That will be my expectation and message to everybody.
“I asked some of our members to go around to consult our leaders and they came back with a feedback message. They said in South-West, we need depth; we need experienced and honest person and the name they gave me was Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja to lead the charge. And I told them we will unveil him at this meeting.
“I also said he will go to all the states to meet with you and tell you his vision and some of the things he wants to do to ensure that South West plays a major and critical role in redeeming this country. I believe the way we have done in Oyo State is what we want replicated in other states of the zone.”
Speaking earlier, the caretaker zonal chairman, Hon. Dayo Ogungbenro, stressed that the zonal caucus was taking place in line with the stipulation of the party’s constitution, adding that the zone had earlier on November 12, 2020, zoned posts to each of the six states.
While also speaking on behalf of the PDP BOT members in the zone, Senator Olu Alabi stressed that the PDP is governed by a constitution and a tradition, stating that one of the traditions is that governors in the zone are the leaders of the party and that since Governor Makinde is the only PDP governor in the zone, he is the leader of the party.
Alabi, however, urged the governor and other leaders to stomach insults and reach out to all sides in order to forge a formidable and united PDP, adding that the governor should institute and strengthen the Elders’ Committee in each state.
Similarly, Senator Olujinmi, who spoke for National Assembly members, said the NASS members recognised that the PDP is one under the leadership of Governor Makinde, urging the reconciliation committee to continue its works.
In his speech, Oyinlola, the former Osun State governor, who spoke on behalf of former Governors, said only a united front could bring positive results to the party, stating that there would always be disagreements but that all sides must bury the hatchet and move forward in the interest of the party.
Other speakers, including the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ogundoyin; Hon. Dayo Ogunniyi from Ondo and Col. Roland Omowa (rtd), stressed the need for the South-West PDP to reconcile and speak with one voice.
In his submission, Ogundoyin equally urged that the party must bring more youths on board so that they could be trained and prepared for the future.
The meeting later went into a closed session.
While speaking shortly after the closed session, the caretaker zonal chairman, Ogungbenro, maintained that the meeting discussed modalities for the coming congress.
He added that each state was asked to discuss its challenges on the posts earlier zoned to it and that all states agreed to submit the names of their nominees for onward transmission to the party.
The meeting had in attendance Governor Makinde, former Governors and Deputy Governors, Board of Trustees members, National Executive Committee members, serving and former National Assembly members, former appointees in the Presidency and party chairmen from the zone.
Some of those in attendance were: former Governors Oyinlola and Segun Oni; former Deputy Governors of Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor Akerele, Erelu Olusola Obada, Amb. Arapaja, Dr. Sikiru Tae Lawal, Prof. Olusola Eleka and Ambassador Omolade Oluwateru; BOT members, including Senator Alabi, Dr. Saka Balogun, Chief Segun Adegoke, were present.
Others are serving and former National Assembly members including Senators Olujinmi, Kola Balogun, Duro Faseyi, Kamorudeen Adedibu, Hosea Agboola, Hon. Stanley Olajide, Hon. Tajudeen Obasa, Hon. Yemi Taiwo, Hon. Abass Adigun, Hon. Tunji Shoyinka, Hon. Rita Orji.
Also in attendance were three physically challenged persons in line with the stipulation of the PDP Constitution, 2017 as amended.
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