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Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, The Lioness of Lisabi

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THE geographical area called NIGERIA, arguably the most populous country in Africa has been well endowed with an array of great personalities, together with their philosophies.

Their evolution had its firm root in the pre-colonial NIGERIA. However, the global events point to one fact that the world longs for people who will stand for what they believe, even if they have to stand alone, leaders whose courage has such strong sense of purpose and security that they welcome the unknown.

FUNMILAYO Ransome Kuti was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria in 1900. Her maiden name was Abigael Olufunmilayo Thomas, having been born by Daniel Olumeyufa Thomas and Lucretta Omoyeni Adeosolu, was indeed, a woman with a rare courage.

She was an African feminist, Nigerian politician, a teacher and women’s right activist. Continuing, she attended Abeokuta Grammar School for her secondary education and later went to England for further studies.

The challenges which drew back our women folk usually like education, gender inequality, finance and cultural assumption which saw them as the best, only for the kitchen and the ‘other room’ are almost put behind by the activities of Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, the ‘Lioness of Lisabi’.

In the forties, after the British Colonial administration had taken measures on meeting the rights and tax policy that drastically affected the economic independence of the women in Nigeria, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti single -handedly organised tax strikes, demonstrations, and series of civilian widespred disobedience. The effect of her organized civil disturbance against arbitrary taxation rocked Egba Kingdom which was then under the firm control of the British government, to its very foundation.

This led to the temporary abdication of the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Ladapo Ademola I in 1949. Interstingly, that incident gained international attention as it was the first time a woman on the soil of colonialised Africa would organize a massive protest that almost brought the Egba Kingdom to its knee and was thereafer tagged historically as ‘Egba Women’s War/ Nigerian Women’s Struggle’. It is to her eternal credit that the first voice against the British Colonial administration on issues of tax policy which affected the economic independent of women in Nigeria sprang out.

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It is, however imperative to note that Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was one of the early modern nationalists of Nigeria who stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello amongst others to fight for Nigeria’s independence abinitio. She stood and fight relentlessly against the colonial administration’s policy of racism, sexism as well as ethnicism. As an activist of no mean order, she introduced the flame of nationalism into the women folks, to the admiration of men folks too for calls for Nigerian independence. It was Funmilayo Ransome Kuti that first organized nationally a ‘Women Organization’ code named ‘Nigerian Women’s Union’ and through it, equally organised a ‘Women’s Parliament’.

With her desire to right societal wrongs, while promoting freedom and social justice, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti later joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, NCNC, the political party led by DR. Nnamdi Azikiwe and instantly became the leader of the women wing of the party. She, also doubled as the treasurer of the party in Egba division. In fact, it was on record that she was the only one who dares ZIK where others could not on issues of party conflict and organised the women folks against what she called the high-handedness of ZIK in some party matters.

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Having realized the relevance of mass political education for Nigerian women if they were to make any significant impact in the political and social economic spheres of Nigeria. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was always in the vanguard for better education for women in the whole Federal Republic of Nigeria which was dubbed ‘The Social Welfare Club for Market Women’. The grace which gender sensitivity has achieved in all areas of governance and civil society groups sprang from her clamour for betterment for women folks in the polity. Her activities in the emancipation of womanhood as regards the political and socio-economic scenario of Nigeria cannot be quantified, even in monetary terms.

Thus, in 1947, the West African Pilot, a national newspaper dedicated to nationalism described Funmilayo Ransome Kuti as the ‘Lioness of Lisabi’ for her leadership of Egba women on a campaign against arbitrary taxation.

The rights enshrined in the Nigeria’s constitution under the clause of principles of fundamental human rights as well as specific mention of women’s rights had their union in the activities of Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. In a related development, her activism, which led to various reforms in the gender position of women folk both within Nigeria and international community was traced to the impact of her agitation against oppressive taxation for the women folks generated.

On the 20th of January, 1925, the ‘ Doyen of Female Rights’ and ‘the Mother of Africa’, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti as she was variously described, married Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome Kuti. She was also one of the founders of Nigerian Union of Teachers five years after, 1930s to be precise as well as the Nigerian Union of Students. These two organizations in which she featured prominently were the offshoot of human rights activist in Nigeria.

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Her children included Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti, the famous Afro beat king and philosopher, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti and a daughter, Dolupo. In 1965, she was conferred with National Honour of Membership of Order of the Niger (MON), while in the same year, the University of Ibadan, UI, honoured her with honourary degree of ‘Doctor of Law’.

According to Edgar Morin, a French philosopher and sociologist, “the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the hour of death is a source of grief throughout our life”. Unfortunately, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti died in 1978 through circumstances related to injuries sustained during a clash between her son’s troupe and some members of the Nigerian Army.

The memories of Funmilayo Ransome Kuti linger in our minds long after her death.

 

 

By Idowu Ayodele

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National Issues

How Sowore planned to overthrow Buhari, free El-Zakzaky – DSS

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has said its investigation so far revealed that ‘Revolution Now’ was smokescreen for the actual intention of Omoyele Sowore, the candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the last presidential election, to overthrow President Buhari.

The security agency also alleged that Sowore intended to free Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) having received millions of Dollars from foreign sponsors.

The DSS also said it engaged in a painstaking investigation of Sowore’s activities in view of the quantum of evidence so far gathered and may return to court to seek an extension of the 45 days granted it by the Federal High Court, Abuja to detain him.

The DSS made this known in a fresh document it filed at the Federal High Court on Monday in response to an application by Sowore, challenging the court’s order, granting the security agency 45 days to detain him pending investigation.

In the counter-affidavit deposed to by Godwin Agbadua, an official of the DSS, it was stated that Sowore was arrested on reasonable suspicion of having committed a capital offence, upon his alleged involvement in terrorists’ activities.

“The respondent/applicant (Sowore) planned to violently change the government through the hashtag RevolutionNow. The respondent/applicant hid under the cover of call for mass protest with the hashtag RevolutionNow to mislead unsuspecting and innocent members of the public into joining him to topple the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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“In his plot to topple the government the respondent/applicant held series of meetings with members at a prescribed terrorists‘organisation, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) with a view to mobilizing strong forces to realize his agenda at changing the government

“The respondent formed an alliance with a fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu, a self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed terrorists group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to launch series of attacks on Nigeria with a view to violently removing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

“After series of closed-door meetings between the duo in the United States of America, they addressed a press conference wherein they both stated their resolve to form alliance against the Nigerian government, the duo stated that they have a well-planned out strategy to realize their objective, which is toppling the government.

“The applicant/respondent is investigating the activities of the respondent /applicant as it relates to a terrorists organisation, IPOB. The facts show a conjecture between the respondent/applicant and IPOB activities.

“There is the need for the applicant/respondent to investigate such reasonable suspicion of the relationship between the respondent/applicant and IPOB.

“The respondent held series of meetings with some foreign collaborators outside Nigeria including Dubai where millions of dollars were given to him to sponsor a widespread attack on Nigeria with a view to violently removing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and freeing Ibrahim Yaqub Elzakzaky (Shaikh).

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“In furtherance to the plans to violently free Elzakzaky from lawful custody. The respondent held several meetings with a proscribed terrorist’s organisation. Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) where they strategized on how to carry out attacks to force the government to free Elzakzaky.

“The respondent stated in one of his videos that Shiite members, who are members of the proscribed terrorists group, IMN were going to join forces with him in bringing down the government. The statement and the meetings of the respondent/applicant raises issue of grave suspicion of supporting a proscribed terrorists’ organisation, IMN.

“The suspicions require diligent investigation by the applicant/respondent. The planned action constitutes a threat of violence to intimidate or cause panic in members of the public as a means of affecting political conduct

“The investigation is still ongoing. Upon the completion of investigation, the case file will be forwarded to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for advice and possible prosecution,” DSS said.

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London varsity bans beef to curb climate change

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Goldsmiths University, London, has banned all beef products from its campus “to help fight climate change”.

CNN is reporting that the university also announced an additional levy of 12 cents on bottled water and single-use plastics.

Frances Corner, the university’s warden, was quoted as saying the measures is part of steps introduced to help the fight against climate crisis.

Beef is said to be responsible for 41% of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock accounts for 14.5% of total global emissions in the world.

But the university — which seeks to become carbon neutral by 2025 — said the product will be scrapped from its campus menu when the new academic year begins.

“The changes come as part of a major drive to cut carbon use across Goldsmiths as the College joins other universities and institutions in declaring a climate emergency and announcing a determined aim to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2025,” Corner said.

“I truly believe we face a defining moment in global history and Goldsmiths now stands shoulder to shoulder with other organizations willing to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use.

“The growing global call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore.

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“Though I have only just arrived at Goldsmiths, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about the future of our environment and that they are determined to help deliver the step change we need to cut our carbon footprint drastically and as quickly as possible.”

 

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No secret graveyards in the Northeast theatre, Army reacts to WSJ publication

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The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has condemned in totality a publication by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) which alleged that the army has been burying scores of soldiers in secret unmarked graves, in a bid to cover up the casualty figures in the ongoing war against insurgency within the North East. 

The Defence Headquarters ( DHQ), while reacting to the WSJ publication, debunked the reports stating that there are no secret graveyards in the North East Theatre.

Contained, in a communique by the Director Defence Information, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, the military states that “this insinuation can only emanate from an uninformed position of the author of the said publication.”

The communique informed that “the Armed Forces of Nigeria has a rich and solemn tradition for the internment” of its fallen heroes.

Its further reads, “It must be unambiguously clarified that the Armed Forces of Nigeria does not indulge in secret burials, as it is sacrilegious and a profanity to extant ethos and traditions of the Nigerian military.”

Colonel Nwachukwu, also explained that in tandem with the traditions of the Armed Forces, fallen heroes are duly honoured and paid the last respect in befitting military funeral of international standard, featuring funeral parade, gravesite oration, solemn prayers for the repose of departed souls by Islamic and Christian clerics, as well as gun salutes, aside other military funeral rites.

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According to the DHQ spokesman, “The cemetery described in the publication, which is situated in Maimalari military cantonment is an officially designated military cemetery for the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the North East theatre, with a cenotaph erected in honour of our fallen heroes.

“The official cemetery has played host to several national and international dignitaries, where wreaths were laid in honour of the fallen heroes.

“It is, therefore, a far cry from the sacrilegious impression being painted by Wall Street Journal.”

The DHQ urged members of the Armed Forces and the general public to disregard “such a misinformed publication and see it as a figment of the imagination of the writer, whose knowledge of military valued ethos and traditions is grossly misplaced”.

 

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