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Laolu Akande: The supplanter comes full throttle, Adedayo fires back at Osinbajo’s spokesman

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I ordinarily do not rejoind rejoinders to my pieces. My philosophy is that, the same freedom I enjoy to air my views is same the person penning the rejoinder has. However, I have had to break this principle, in reply to the doggerel written by Mr. Laolu Akande, the Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media. Of a truth, after reading his, with the benefit of hindsight, I felt I shouldn’t have written it, thus saving Nigerians the horror of encountering Mr. Akande in his rawest fit.

 

I have known the presidential media assistant for more than two decades now and I, as well as those who know him, know that his short fuse is akin to an epileptic fit. That he would translate this drawback into the management of his office was not a surprise. What is surprising is that mature minds in the presidency couldn’t rein in this personal limitation from becoming an official imprimatur that paints the hallowed office of the Vice President in the visor of a common motor park tout whenever this fit is in full blossom. Like in the rejoinder under reference.

 

Not only do I know Mr. Akande very well, on my part, I thought he was my friend and that he is aware that friendship shouldn’t stand in the way of making comments on issues that affect the country. Specifically, I knew Mr. Akande in 1995, about 24 years ago, at the Tribune House, Imalefalafia, Ibadan, Oyo State. Surprisingly, while Akande pretends never to have worked there, I still carry the glory of this frontline newspaper which made me what I am today.

 

Those who are in the know would tell you what Akande used the Saturday Tribune newspaper he edited then for, which he knows that I know. With what we all know, Akande is the least person to impute motives to what journalists write. It is on record that almost all the lead stories in the newspaper under his editor-ship were against the government of the day. Would it be right to say he collected money from the opposition then?

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I hope Mr. Akande remembers that I was not just an insider in the Tribune then, we were sufficiently close for me to know what he did. The language he used for me in the said rejoinder did not in the least shock me, his friend – I assume! – of almost 24 years, given the fact of what I know about how Mr. Akande regards relationships. My friend, Akande, was a member of a 5-man circle of very closely-knit friends in the Tribune at that time. Can he explain why the other four were sacked in 1997 and he did not only survive the sack, he, like a supplanter, took over the post of one of his sacked friends? Or has he forgotten how he became the editor of the Saturday Tribune, a position he took from his sacked friend? Till today, Mr. Akande’s friends still lament the knife with which his Cassius stabbed their Julius Caesar. The quadruple facilitated his employment at the Tribune. This is basically why I am not bothered about his intemperate language. All of us, his friends, do not expect anything noble from Mr. Akande.

 

On March 17, 2018, celebrated and respected journalist, one of our immediate forefathers in the pen profession, Mr. Dele Momodu, wrote a very emotional piece about Mr. Akande. He entitled it An Open Letter to Laolu Akande. In that piece, Mr. Momodu traced the genealogy of his association with Akande. He began by wondering “what people eat or drink inside the Aso Rock Villa that makes some of those of (our) ilk, who we once admired, misbehave the way you (Akande) did last night.” Like me, Mr. Momodu had known him for more than two decades. He wrote about how, on meeting Akande in America where he was sojourning, he “expressed the difficulties and vagaries of life (he) faced in America,” how he made him North American Bureau Chief for Ovation International and how, at some point, the editor “complained about the way you handled transactions and so on” and how he “simply abandoned a company that provided some modest income for (him) in America.”

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He had been publishing a ragtag online medium called Empowered Newswire which visiting Nigerian politicians to the US claimed he was using to extort money from them. Mr. Akande’s reply to a similar piece I did critiquing the VP authored by Momodu was, “For good measure, Bob Dee, maybe we should just remind our readers that not only are you an active member of opposition, you also retain with top notchers of the PDP significant business relationships.” It was a euphemism for alleging that the respected journalist was compromised.

 

I noticed that in the said rejoinder, Mr. Akande repeatedly referred to me as “Mr.” Being someone with visceral hatred for titles, I do not bother about whatever prefix anyone attaches to me but, in this instance, I noticed that this was done for spite purpose, even when Mr. Akande is aware that I hold a PhD – not honoris causa – from the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, same school I am aware that Mr. Akande struggled unsuccessfully for close to two decades until he abandoned his doctoral pursuit. For his information, while he is stagnant intellectually, I have gone a step forward to acquire an LLB from that same University of Ibadan .

 

Now back to his claim of my manufacture of the information in the piece. While I owe him no apology whatsoever, explanation or any detail, I leave Nigerians to place us side by side and judge who is believable between us. Here was a presidential aide who, about a week ago, took about 200 million Nigerians for a ride, telling them that there was no sack of his principals’ aides by the President. A few hours after, a colleague aide of his at the presidency told the world that there were indeed sacks of the same people. Mum has been the word from the supplanter since then. In saner climes, it was enough reason to resign his portfolio. Shamelessly, he still appends his signature to releases. No remorse, no shame. Till today,

 

Mr. Akande is apparently one of those “government people” whose warped and narrow minds cannot conceive the possibility of anyone critiquing government personalities without having been compromised. He has failed to tell the world who could have compromised me to write an old information that was common knowledge on the Nigerian information highway. I am sure that those who were privy to the information must be laughing themselves hoarse at Mr. Akande’s unexampled attempt to make a corpse walk.

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As a parting shot, the person I pity most is the VP who is trapped in the cocoon of this irascible element who has transposed his short fuse into the management of the press of the vice president. I recommend the examples of his colleagues – Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu – to him. When you critique their boss, not only do they take it in their strides, they do not smear the critic in swine lingo as Akande does. Today, Mr. Akande has scant regards among Nigerian media chiefs due to this limitation of his and how he cannot maintain friendships. No wonder the office has almost nil media rating. Many of the barbs the professor VP receives are ostensibly ones meant for his media chief who will descend into the gutters and splash sewers on whoever tells the world that his principal isn’t exactly a nephew of Angel Gabriel. No one is.

 

 

Dr Festus Adedayo, a seasoned journalist, columnist and media consultant; writes from Ibadan, Oyo state

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Opinion

Who is an infidel? | By Adebayo Ojo

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This is a coinage of our two (2) Holy books- The Holy Quran and the Bible. There are many other Holy Books, but those 2 books are the prominent ones in our country.

In Islam, the infidels or Kuffr are those who do not subscribe to the tenets of Islamic faith. Christians are not regarded by the Holy Quran and Islam as infidels even though they don’t subscribe to the tenets of Islam. They are referred to as ” polytheists” because of their belief in Trinity.

Kuffr are the infidels because they do not believe in the existence of Allah and his prophets. Also, they do not believe in the day of judgement. They are what we know in common parlance as Pagans.

We also have the “Munafeqeen” who are even worse than the infidels. They are pretenders and or impostors who profess to believe in Allah and the Prophets whereas their conducts and behaviours are exactly opposite of what they profess.

Speaking for myself , pagans and atheists are not the same .

Nigerian Muslims and Christians are fond of referring to non-practitioners of their faiths as pagans and those they majorly referred to as pagans and infidels in Nigeria are our traditional worshippers.  Our various traditional religions as far as I am concerned are not neither pagans nor infidels, but they are adherents of whatever they believe in.

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We Africans have serious problems and they are complex problems . How can we allow foreign religions to subjugate and subvert our own religions to the extent that they have been blacklisted and labelled as idol worshippers and infidels. We worshipped and served God ( Eledumare) before the introduction  of Islam and Christianity into Nigeria. The only difference is that our modes of worshipping God is different from theirs.

We as Africans always feel inferior because same way that we were tricked and or indoctrinated to throw our traditional religions was the same manner we are doing away with our identities,languages,  food, clothing and many other  things that we are noted for or associated with. So sad and unfortunate.

I will use the story of Prophet Ibraheem ( PBOH) or Abraham to drive home my point.

Prophet Ibraheem or Abraham is described by both Islam and Christianity as the Father of faith because he redeemed his pledge to Allah or God that if God should give him a Son , he would offer the Son as a sacrifice to God or Allah. He kept that vow he made with Allah or God. He tried to slaughter his Son in obedience to Allah or God but it was said that Allah or God was pleased with his absolute faith and loyalty that He produced a live ram in replacement of his Son. The Son was thus saved and the ram was slaughtered in replacement.

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Let’s converse that story of Prophet Ibraheem or Abraham with that of the Ile-Ife heroine, Moremi who bravely undertook to rescue her people from the Ugbo marauders who were regularly invading Ile -Ife then and were always looting the town and also took them as slaves.

Before Moremi surrendered herself as captive of the Ugbo marauders, she went to River Esinmirin and vowed or pledged with the god or goddess of Esinmirin that if she should make her mission successful, she would give Esinmirin whatever it may ask of her.

Esinmirin told her that her mission would be successful, but that she must offer as sacrifice to it anything that first came out from her home to wellcome her on the way.

When she returned from Ugboland after a very successful mission, her only Son who had been bedridden since she left for Ugboland suddenly and mysteriously became well and rushed out to wellcome her mother on hearing of her heroic return.

Moremi felt very sad ,but in keeping faith with her vow or pledge to Esinmirin, she took her only child, the Son to Esinmirin river and threw her into the river in fulfilment of her pledge or vow.

I want very sound Muslims and Christians to please enlighten and educate me on the difference between the stories of Prophet Ibraheem or Abraham and that of Moremi.

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Why will history applauded Prophet Ibraheem or Abraham as a Believer and another history will adjudge Moremi as a pagan or infidel?

The second question that I need enlightenment on is – What was or is the religion of Prophet Ibraheem or Abraham that His God will demand for slaughtering of human being as offering?

 

Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo Esq, writes from Ibadan, Oyo state

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Opinion

Ondo: Heroines live here! | By Festus Adedayo

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As interesting as the political soap opera that is playing out in Ondo State now is, we must take out time to acknowledge the pleasantly absurd scene that jutted out of the soap last week. In the thick of the melee to get the Deputy Governor of the state, Agboola Ajayi, impeached and the usual shamelessness advertised by politicians in the state, we must not forget that the state swam out of this usual Nigerian water.

This was exhibited by the Chief Judge of the state, Oluwatoyin Akeredolu, who to my mind is the heroine of that soap opera. The Chief Judge, not kowtowing to political office holders, no matter their power and position, literally told the actors behind the impeachment that they were riding a roller-coaster of infamy.

To a request by the apparently financially instigated Ondo State House of Assembly, which was drunk on the bid to illegally impeach the deputy governor, Akeredolu, like a fearless judge that she apparently is, faulted the process of impeachment earlier spurned by the state legislators. In a letter dated July 9, 2020, Akeredolu had told the unruly and ostensibly shameless legislators driven by everything but the love of Ondo State, that their request to her to constitute a 7-man probe panel ran foul of constitutional requirements.

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For me, no matter whether or not the legislators succeeded or eventually lived down their apparently influenced bid to impeach the deputy governor, that valiant pronouncement by Akeredolu could only have come from a heroine. This is at a time when men and women of honour, who can look political authorities in their bloodless faces and underscore justice, are becoming very rare in Nigeria.

It also strengthens the hope that we will survive the mercantilists and buccaneers in political offices who are gallivanting about like Lords of the Manor of Nigeria. It probably also confirmed the thesis which Ondo State people flaunt that men and women of honour still inhabit that land.

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Opinion

Magu, maggots and Maga dogs | By Festus Adedayo

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Again, the system felled Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last week. It had always done that. Olusegun Obasanjo, the maiden president at inception of Nigeria’s fourth republic, first erected the crucifixion upon which a crime-fighting czar was hung. While employing the old Yoruba verbal denunciation of thieves by way of pouting lips, clapping both hands repeatedly, literally poking hands into the face of the accused and shouting Ole! Ole! E ki’gbe ole, ole!, Obasanjo did all that against former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun in January, 2005.

He did more: Obasanjo asked Balogun to immediately tender his letter of resignation, on account of huge theft of public money traced to him. The dossier lay threateningly on the table before Obasanjo that morning inside the Aso Rock Villa. As narrated by Nuhu Ribadu, first EFCC’s Chairman’s biographer, Prof Wale Adebanwi in his A Paradise for Maggots, Balogun went on all fours as a tribal symbolic solicitation to Obasanjo to, in my words, kill me at home and not kill me abroad, whose Yoruba translation was, pa mi si’le, ma pa mi si’ta. A total sum of N2.7 billion in five different banks and jaw-dropping number of choice properties had been traced to the police chief whose mantra for combating crime was Operation Fire for Fire.

Three people were at that meeting: Obasanjo, his Chief of Staff, Abdullahi Mohammed and Balogun himself. Mohammed had earlier summoned Balogun, on behalf of the President. The three of them, being and having affinity with the Yoruba nation (Mohammed hailed from Ilorin, Kwara State), could connect with Balogun’s symbol-baiting prostration. Here was the bodily hefty, giant-in-position Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police in total surrender to his accuser. Tafa Balogun was not only prostrate, in that prostrating position, he was pliant, literally castrated of his manhood and was in subdued acceptance of his guilt.

Balogun was to be dragged by the EFCC to court a few weeks later. He had been handcuffed and even dragged on the floor by young police officers who probably had not stopped sucking their mothers’ teats when he joined the police force. Then Chief Superintendent of Police, Ibrahim Magu, one of the EFCC operatives under Ribadu, led that operation that saw a huge crime czar like Balogun falling with a deafening thud like a common felon.

Thoroughly defoliated of his manhood in the public by Magu and his boys, Balogun had reportedly pleaded with them that, “I can change your lives, please. Let me settle you and let’s settle this. I can make you rich for life.”
Within the period he held the brunt of power, Ribadu oscillated in the air like a pestilence to a commune of Nigerian fraudsters and corrupt Politically-Exposed Persons (PEPs) who were mutating in the air like a ravaging virus.

Aside allegations against him that he was Obasanjo’s poo-poo bowl carrier, Ribadu succeeded in instilling fears into the hearts of Nigerian malefactors clothed in the euphemism of political office holders. His rout of criminals was so celebrated that late literary giant, Chinua Achebe, in lauding the clinical way he fought crime and criminals, compared him to Eliot Ness.

Ness was an American crime-bursting legend of the 1930s renowned for bringing down the Al Capone gang in Chicago, Illinois. His law enforcement team, a 1,000-strong group called Bureau of Prohibition, was nicknamed The Untouchables. When the system was to chop Ribadu off, it made mincemeat of him and flushed the Adamawa-born crime-buster down the cistern like a common felon.

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In quick successions, Farida Waziri and Ibrahim Lamorde came, appointed into office by Presidents Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. They also made noise and got some criminals to scamper off their felonies. However, not long after, they became the proverbial Maga dogs, biting the systemic hands that recruited and fed them, thereby getting drenched in the sewage waters that seemed to have been reserved for Nigerian crime-busting chiefs. So, why did the four EFCC czars come into office with so much hope, so much adulations, expectations, vapory glories, but ended up being drenched in a haze of ignominy?

Is there a latent systemic error that will always ensure that the after-office graveyards of these crime lords must be garlanded with stench and shame?
As against what its minders are making us to believe, it is a huge minus to the Muhammadu Buhari government that Magu is being tried now. It is either the government has no mind of its own and was amenable to being swept right, left and center by the currents of some individuals’ whims and caprices, or that it is seriously implicated in the politics of crime-fighting, the ocean of which is alleged to have drowned Magu. This is because, in the cache of allegations said to have been leveled against the ex-EFCC boss, there is a rehash of same allegations which the DSS, about five years ago, saw as reasons why Magu’s nomination should not be upheld by the Nigerian senate.

Throughout the years spent by Magu as EFCC chair, those who understood the workings of the mind of the Buhari government claimed that he was an insider-outsider therein. This meant that though Magu was of the government, he was not for them. If he was for them, his confirmation as EFCC chair shouldn’t have lingered as embarrassingly as it did, like the cry of a wife who clandestinely murdered her hubby. There is the claim that he was of the Bola Tinubu/Yemi Osinbajo rump of the current power calculus. This then must explain why it was easy for those who cooked the slur on the Vice President’s name, using alleged proceedings of Magu’s interrogation, to reinforce the believability of their claim.

The truth is, there are far weightier allegations against Buhari government functionaries hanging in the public domain than those leveled against Magu. For instance, owning property in Dubai, UAE is alleged to be one of Magu’s errs. However, it is common knowledge that the UAE remains a haven where corruptly acquired wealth is laundered for the Nigerian political elite and owning eye-popping property in this Arab country is the rule, rather than the exception. No wonder cyber-heist kingpins like Hushpuppi and Woodberry found a comforting nest there. A minister in Buhari’s government was recently accused of owning humongous mansions in Abuja. His riposte was that he acquired them as a teacher.

The Attorney General of the Federation, the one who must be popping champagne for having seen the back of Magu, also has a mountain load of his own allegations trailing him like recalcitrant flies envelope oozing stench. There is no doubt that illicit financial outflows from Nigeria daily trickle out of PEPs’ conduits and pipes.

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The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai was, not long ago, enmeshed in an asset declaration scandal pronged on allegation of ownership of property in Dubai. In his reply, he claimed that the property belonged to his unstated family and that the family made these investments in this Middle East city in 2013, long before his appointment. No further questions were asked. No further investigations needed to be carried out. As far as Nigeria and government were concerned, Buratai’s answers were QED.

Matthew Page, in a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace page, had made a damning condemnation of this capricious craving of Nigeria’s political elite. “For Nigeria’s corrupt political elites, Dubai is the perfect place to stash their ill-gotten gains and enjoy luxury real estate worth millions. But unless authorities stop turning a blind eye, the long-term costs to Nigeria’s economy and Dubai’s reputation could be high,” he had written.
If the truth be told, Magu was an accident waiting to happen on the Nigerian crime-fighting system. So also were his predecessors.

This is because, an office which is that consequential is subjected to inconsequential indices of operations which cannot but render its occupants dead on arrival. What procedure, process or rules guide the appointment of EFCC czars? In other words, how do they emerge? Are they chosen on account of moral gallantry, their ethnicity, man-knows-man procedure or mere seniority? How many times did past occupiers of that office, before and after coming on board, demonstrate ability to look at enticing lures in the face and tell them to go jump inside the River Niger? Elliot Ness, who Achebe compared Ribadu to, in 1931, had a member of the Al Capone gang bait with two $1,000 notes (about $17,000) if he turned a blind eye to the group’s illegal merchandizing. He refused and even though he died penurious at age 54, Ness’ heroic reputation is legendary in America.

Is there a crime-fighting institution or architecture in Nigeria? The answer is no. Our measurement of their suitability is the candidate’s ethnic affiliation, the person who introduces them and their loyalty to the occupier of authority seat. To expect a thorough-bred czar to come out of such a nebulous system is hypocrisy of the highest order.

The story is told of how Obasanjo picked Dora Akunyili without any bother about her ethnicity but a buzz that she had demonstrated an unusual moral courage alien to this clime while working with the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) as pharmacist. When she eventually came on board at NAFDAC, she merely rehashed what was her internal constitution. In serious climes, anyone who is to be appointed into an office as critical as the EFCC, who would naturally confront billions of Naira in kickbacks and illicit perks of office must have been psychologically grilled before society can arrive at their suitability. In Nigeria, politicians, who know the criminal functionality of having their Man Fridays occupy such positions, fight tooth and nail to have them in office.

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Again, are we being fair to appoint a policeman with no pedigree of snubbing ill-gotten wealth, whose salary is a paltry few thousands of Naira, to superintend over a potential illicit wealth empire like the EFCC? The Carnegie Endowment said PEPs – “individuals who are or have been entrusted with a prominent public function” like Magu and the likes, “are at higher risk of involvement in unlawful activity due to their positions of influence and access to assets.” In fact, it states that, as at 2016, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (now known as C4ADS) “acquired the data of a private database of Dubai real estate information (dubbed the  ‘Sandcastles’ data) and that, at a conservative estimate, “at least 800 properties were found to have links to Nigerian PEPs or their family members, associates, and suspected proxies.”

So why are we crying wolf now when we exposed a police officer whose take-home is less than a million naira to assets in multiple of billion naira worth?

In a Nigeria that is brimming with street mindsets of fraudulently acquired wealth, of filthy wealthy men and women who crawl in a cesspit like maggots, are we sincere to think we would always have men/women who will kick against what has become normal among us? Are we seriously looking for a clean EFCC chairman in this dirty clime? Those are the honest questions we must ask ourselves. If we now seek a person who is unlike the filth associated with us, should we just pick them peremptorily like they pick a fallen mango off the tree?

This is why, if we think that, with Muhammed Umar as replacement for Magu, or even any substantive name brought up eventually, the maladies in the EFCC would stop, we are fooling ourselves and are on a Pyrrhic victory binge. This is because, no institution of consequence is so forged in saner clime.

By the way, I read that Magu is bitterly complaining that his tormentors-in-chief had treated him with rank ignominy, like a common criminal, inside the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence (FCIID) dungeon where he is said to be currently held. Oh, right? How did he, as CSP who led the assault operation against Tafa Balogun, treat the then Inspector General of Police? Wickedness is like the story in the Myth of Sisyphus, a 1942 essay by the Algerian-French philosopher, Albert Camus. While Sisyphus pushes the boulder down the mountain, he goes back again and does the same thing, till the end of time. Good is the only thing that can break the jinx.

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