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?
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.”
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.
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
OPINION: Makinde And The Return Of Political Pessimism In Oyo State | By Martins Sijuwade
In the International Court of Justice Report of 1992 at page 93, The Honourable Judge Bola Ajibola KBE of the International Court of Justice made the following remarks: “Again I ask myself what is justice in a case of this nature? Justice is to maintain international peace and security, to take effective measures to prevent and remove all threats to peace; to suppress all threats of aggression or any form of breaches of peace in any part of the world. To me, justice requires prompt action to prevent deterioration of peaceful co- existence… No man goes to sleep when the house is burning”. Without donning the garb of preposterousness, the security rooftop of Oyo state is burning seriously and uncontrollably.
All over the world the importance attached to security of lives and properties is nulli secondus. Larger attention is given to it for security is the bedrock of human existence. Dead men don’t negotiate business and they don’t contribute their quota to national and state development. It is now so unfortunate that a key man to the Governor of Oyo State and the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Surveys was attacked by unknown gunmen in his house killing his driver and his orderly heavily wounded. The cypher hereinafter posited is that if the life of a serving Commissioner and the henchman of the Governor is not safe, whose life and property is? Nothing can be further from the truth other than saying that security under the watch of Governor Seyi Makinde is at its lowest ebb. Seyi Makinde’s government is taking us back to the Hobbesian era when life was solitary, nasty, brutish and short.
Like W. B. Yeats said in his classic poem The Second Coming, “things have fallen apart and the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” For emphasis sake W. B. Yeats stated in his poem as follows”:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart the entre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
The world has not fallen apart. Oyo state is.
In disparaging the roles of bad governance it is quite instructive to remark that one of the factors holding back our democratic process is that some office holders are not prepared for the jobs they were voted to perform. The greatest threat to governance is to elect leaders who find themselves overwhelmed by the challenges of office because they were never prepared in the first place. Ever since the emergence of Governor Seyi Makinde as the governor of Oyo state, his became the tale of a man who was never prepared for governance. From a rubber stamp State House of Assembly headed by a young man who was not also prepared for the seat of Speakership, and down to charlatans who left various political parties to find retirement benefits for themselves within the corridors of Seyi Makinde’s government, the recent comatose state of Oyo is and can be largely attributed to unpreparedness of Seyi Makinde and his arrays of political office holders.
Or how best can one describe an attack on a serving Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Surveys of Oyo state right within the comfort of his house by unknown gunmen? The government of Seyi Makinde is condescending into failure; failure is staring at the face of the leaders who unfortunately met themselves unprepared for the major task of governance. Mockery of the system it is for a government that has no answer for the insecurity in the land. It is a colossal mockery for a government to pay lip service to the populace assuring them of a secure and safe state when on the contrary the high and mighty and the middle classed civil servants and citizens are scampering to safety with no hope in sight.
Governor Seyi Makinde in a bid to show off and over-impress the people embarked grossly on misplaced priorities and is always all out to disparage the antecedents of the immediate past APC led government. Makinde via his lacklustre attitude to governance has tremendously proven that Oyo is being taken like 10 years backward: the popular pre-Ajimobi era. Before the election of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, pre-Ajimobi Oyo state was always a war zone.
Ranging from the criminality perpetrated along the Molete axis, down to the notoriety of street urchins at Bere/Oja-Oba down to Oje, Iwo Road and the unrest always recorded at Foko and Oke-Ado, Ajimobi came to power minding the fact that governance without adequate security is a failure – colossal one for that matter. As the Chief Security Officer of the state, Ajimobi brought the Oyo State Security Trust Fund (OYSSTF) to limelight to provide for the wherewithal of fighting insecurity. He brought the Operation Burst and Joint Task Force which really worked like a magic wand in nipping criminality in the bud. Like a Cyclop, Ajimobi restored sanity, sanctity and order to Oyo state. The facts can be verified: no Commissioner or public officer was attacked under the nose of Senator Abiola Ajimobi when he was in government.
As it stands now, it is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that Governor Seyi Makinde does not have a clear-cut blueprint on how to handle the matter of security. It is therefore not surprising that instead of building institutional countercheck to insecurity, Governor Makinde is busy lavishing borrowed funds on misplaced projects and flying all over the world. What is the problem? The problem is the successive cohorts of opportunist politicians and their ever available collaborators who are continuously using public offices, politics and power for themselves for self enrichments with the mass of the people getting steadily poorer by the day.
The procurement of some patrol vehicles was made public on 20th November 2019 and in the evening of the same day, unknown gunmen attacked a serving Commissioner under the watch of the Governor at his home claiming his driver’s life. Seyi Makinde should know as a governor that outcome policies based on consensual, participatory, and transparent processes are more easily sustained than lone, solitary-minded, eccentrically dogmatic viewpoints. By implication, institutions of good governance that embody such processes are critical for development and should encompass partnerships among all elements of civil society representing different shades of opinion and ideology.
Before this can materialize, it is fundamental that a solid foundation of effective organizations and enabling institutions is a necessary precondition. Once a governor fails to take initiative and is always fond of putting his eggs in one basket, then it frequently results to underperformance. And the most paramount performance index rests solely on the issue of security.
The present ruling party in Oyo state and its drivers have no direction. It’s a tale of confused drivers looking for confused passengers. They have degenerated to political miscalculations that have fallen below the expectations of the people. In a scenario similar to Seyi Makinde’s government, the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of Russia Nikita Khrushchev in his book titled Krushchev Remembers, reported that “after the Nineteenth Party Congress, Stalin created among the new Presidium members some wide-ranging commissions to look into various matters. In practice, these commissions turned out to be completely ineffectual because everyone was left to his own devices. There was no guidance. There was nothing assigned for these commissions to look into, so they made up their own assignments. Everyone in the orchestra was playing on his own instrument anytime he felt like it, and there was no direction from the conductor”.
Those appointed by governor Seyi Makinde in various capacities cannot boast of having achieved anything spectacular other than media noises, television misdemeanors and radio cacophonies. This best summarises the infamous and inglorious roles currently being played by the charlatans under Seyi Makinde’s administration. His appointees practise what we can best refer to as political shenanigans. Their orchestra lacks a conductor: always embarking on aimless adventures. The founding fathers of Oyo may not be that happy in the heavens with Governor Seyi Makinde paying mere lip service to governance.
Clarion call is hereby made to the Commissioner for Lands of Oyo state who was attacked and who escaped death by thin air and indeed the entire cabinet members of Seyi Makinde’s government to immediately resign from Governor Seyi Makinde’s cabinet as the recent attack shows that cabinet members’ lives are not secure. A government that cannot adequately secure its cabinet members will definitely fail to secure the lives of the ordinary citizens.
Seyi Makinde should know that security is serious business no one can play politics with. He seems not to have a firm grasp of the issues surrounding the state’s security and terrain. This is a Governor who spends more time outside Oyo state than inside. He prides in coasting all over the world and abandoning his primary responsibility of governance and security stability. Seyi cannot be blamed: he lives most of his adult life in the South-Southern part of the country. He barely knows the Oyo terrain and landscape and those who are meant to be his eyes can’t really see farther beyond their nose. It’s a tale of the one-eyed man leading the blind. The Ibadan people with their witty sagacity had long posited that in the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is King. He leads his cabinet and they follow him sheepishly.
Governor Seyi Makinde should borrow leaf from the technocracy of the immediate past Governor of Oyo State Senator Abiola Ajimobi. He should not be too arrogant to approach the elder statesman at his Yemoja Street residence in Oluyole Estate, Ibadan. After all Seyi Makinde had confessed to the Oyo public that most of Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s policies are valuable and priceless. Government should be in continuum and pride and party politics should not step in place of good governance. If Governor Seyi Makinde is not prepared for the office, at least he can seek the way from those who have gone ahead of him in the journey.
Seyi Makinde has failed the people and he should face it. He should look at consulting the experienced to salvage Oyo’s dwindling glory.
Martins Olamiji Sijuwade, a legal practitioner and the President of Global Social Thinkers’ Institute, an organization concerned with good governance, accountability and public transparency writes
My 3 Years Journey Through Ordinary Primary One | By Olawale Sadare
“When you have your mouth and where you have your audience, don’t allow any friend or enemy to tell your personal story…” (Sadare 2019).
I don’t know why and how I still manage to remember almost every bit of certain things that happened to me at my early stage in life. Just like the cases of every conscious adults, many people played their parts (either positive or negative) in our individual lives and these culminated in the little story of success we have got to tell for now.
I stood no good chance of acquiring the best of Western education because my both parents were unlettered and they chose to live in the same rustic Owobaale where only the adherents of Adventist Christian faith knew about when and how to enrol their children in schools. But luckily for me, we moved into the city fully in 1978 and I began a new life away from a place where a woman had been made to lacerate my face few weeks after my womb escape.
We moved into our newly built 6 room face-to-face bungalow beside the then 13 year-old Bishop Phillip’s Academy. The popular Texaco/MRS filling station in the Area now was a Sawmill at that time and a plot of land cost N500 or thereabouts. Houses with residents were clustered and most parcels of land had weeds, different tree species and palm trees on them. This was a time I would feel like a Prince after taking ‘raisi kobo meji, ewa kobo kan’ on any special day.
I was good at running errands for all and sundry while one Iya Offa (of blessed memory) would tutor me about elementary commerce with accurate calculation in money exchange. That mama was the best in making a local bean cake delicacy (Alapa elegusi ati Ede) and she would never stop giving me a small wrap as an incentive (Eeni) each time I patronized her even if it was 10 times in a particular day. She really ‘sharpened’ me with her native intelligence and compassion.
Then came 1980… Iya Offa hinted my mom that I was ripe for schooling due to her own observation. “Iya Omoo mi, Wasiu ti to bere Ile-Iwe o… Ogbon ori re koja ti opolopo awon omo ti n lo Suuku ti mo nri lojoojumo.” (Young woman, Wasiu is fit to start schooling pls… His level of intelligence is far more than most of those kids who I see everyday on their way to school). The grands told my mom one day.
Consequently, Maami discussed it with my dad and an agreement was reached between them. The following Monday, I was enrolled in Primary One at St. James’ Anglican Primary School, Agodi Village off old Iwo Road Ibadan (the place is now part of the communities which fused to become Iyanna Church Area of Ibadan). This was located in a recluse and it was far from our home. And following about two or three reported cases of child kidnapping, I was withdrawn from the school permanently.
Therefore, I lost that first year but I felt no loss as an innocent child. Then came the beginning of another school year… An uncle who was a serving in the Nigerian Army took her daughter (a younger cousin of mine) and me to the then 3 year-old Christ Apostolic Church Primary Schools, Abaa Monatan in 1981 and I started at Primary One again. After the end of the season, I did well in the promotion exam and I was promoted to Primary Two but my cousin failed.
The only two things to be cherished in me at that time were the modicum of brilliance in me and the Khaki uniform which was well made by one ‘Boda Tailor’ (an indigene of Ilobu who died many years ago). He made a round neck with two buttons on the left shoulder (Pademilejika we used to call the style). The Knicker was with two blazers made of same uniform fabric to rule out any use of belts. The only ironing on that school uniform was done by Booda Tailor but the ‘gaitors’ he created never left their original locations until the textile material fully expired about six years after. I would not write much about how I used to clean up the blank side of my academic ‘Slate’ with my own saliva.
Going forward; on the first day of the following Session, my Uncle took me and his daughter to a new school in protest. We landed in Army Children School, Iwo Road, Ibadan in 1982 and my joy knew no bound. “Emi naa? Ni School awon Army?” (My self in a school owned by the Military?)… I did soliloquy the moment I stepped on the Mammy Market on our way to the Headteacher’s office. My Uncle was in his Army uniform with a white Chevron on each of his shoulders and he offered Salutes to every Soldier we came across until we got to our destination. This also impressed me!
“Good morning, Madam. I bring my two children here for school… Put them for primary two”. Uncle said to the headmistress and the woman replied thus; “Good morning sir. No problem sir. Did you come with the report cards they got from their former school where they did their primary one?” She then sent for two teachers (Mr. Babalola and Mrs. Olayinka). They both came around and checked the two report cards carefully. Mr. Babalola was asked to address my Uncle… “Sir, the boy is qualified to be in Primary Two while the girl will have to start from Primary One again because she failed her last promotion exam.” He said.
“No, no, noooo! Omo mi ni awon mejeeji, nnkan ti mo fe ni mo si ti so fun yin yen…”Uncle thundered. When the Headmistress realized that Oga Soja meant business, she invited a Sargent who was passing by to intervene. At the end of the day, my Uncle ordered that the two of us should be put in Primary One class because he did not want us to be far apart. We were handed over to our new teachers and I started another fresh life in the same class for the third year. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the quantum of time I have been made to lose as I was innocent, happy and uninformed at the same time.
Another end of the Session came… I emerged 2nd best while my cousin came 2nd from behind (32nd in a class of 33). In those days, virtually every literate person who came across primary/secondary pupils on the Vacation day would want to check your report card. People would stop you on the road and demand your Card. When they were done, they would offer handshake (or petty gifts) to the brilliant ones and sing (Olodo rabata, oju eja lo moo je) for the the academically poor ones. It was a day I was celebrated most for the first time in my life by relatively unknown people.
We were approaching home when we met an elder cousin who was then a Form Two student of Estate High School, Bashorun, Ibadan. It was a time teachers must give Prizes to brilliant students who came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in promotion exams. Adekunle Akanfe discovered I came 2nd and I was not given any gift… He forced me to return to the school where we were told two pupils got the First position grade and it was agreed that, in that circumstance, the pupil that came second who forfeit his own gift. The same teachers gave a gift to the pupil that came third behind me though. One of the teachers was fascinated by the rare show of boldness by my Egbon and she volunteered to gift me a ruler, a sharpener, an eraser and two exercise books in compensation.
On resumption for the next academic session, my soldier Uncle returned to make a demand for his daughter to either be promoted ‘On Trial’ or his other child (Wasiu) be made to repeat Primary One again. Commotion ensued when the headmistress kicked against the request and she immediately called the like of Mr Babalola, Mrs Jegede, Mrs Sadare (not a relation at all), Mrs Ajayi, Mrs Abolade, Miss Hassan and others to come around… My Uncle didn’t wait for their convergence before leaving the woman’s office on that day.
To be continued…
Wasiu Olawale Sadare, Journalist and Media Consultant writes from Ibadan, Oyo state
RE: Laolu Akande: The Supplanter Comes Full Throttle | By Adetayo Adekunle
Let me start by saying that I do not hold brief for Mr. Laolu Akande (SSAP Media, OVP) or anybody for that matter.
Accordingly, I urge readers to kindly consider this rejoinder as that of *”a meddlesome interloper”* who jumped into the fray after reading an article and a response.
With all sense of responsibility, Mr. Festus Adedayo’s response to Mr. Laolu Akande’s rejoinder is rather too shallow, puerile, jejune and below board.
In the article under review, Mr. Adedayo committed the same infractions he alleged Mr. Laolu Akande for.
The entire writeup is high on vitriolic but ephemerally low on substance.
Rather than go personal, methinks it’s better to respond to the questions posed to him by Laolu Akande in his rejoinder.
Or was Mr. Adedayo expecting “his supposed friend” to say thank you for spewing unsubstantiated gibberish against his principal?
Without any doubt whatsoever, Mr. Adedayo must have been consuming cheap substances to have alleged that the Vice President viciously prayed to be substantive President when his boss was sick. Like a scene from a Yoruba movie, Festus further asserted that a President Muhammadu Buhari ally came in and the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as well as his Pastors were shell shocked.
If this is not a lie from the pit of hell, what then is it?
Can Mr. Adedayo swear with whatever he believes in that this is the truth?
Since Mr. Adedayo has also decided to be afflicted by selective amnesia, I will assist him to put certain things in the right perspective.
To start with, Mr. Laolu Akande “NEVER SUPPLANTED”* anybody before he got his editorial job in the Tribune. Facts at my disposal indicates that prior to his (Akande’s) appointment, there was a competitive exam and interview where he led with barely 1%. A colleague, Akinjide Akintola came second in that examination.
Secondly, to all intents and purposes, Mr. Akande was your senior colleague at Tribune. You would recall that as early as 1992, Akande was already a household name in Guardian and Nigerian journalism as a whole. As a matter of fact, he was a senior editor before the then Mr. now Prof Wale Adebanwi brought you on board as a writer/reporter. You were at best a subordinate, co-worker and acquaintance but certainly not a friend.
Mr. Adedayo, can you say you have paid your benefactor Wale Adebanwi rightly and justly for all he did for you? What is your relationship with him today?
Furthermore, Akande is still friends with other members of the the 5- man circle you referred to -Prof. Wale Adebanwi of Oxford, Prof Adeolu Akande of Igbinedioun University, Dr. Segun Olatunji and Mr. Bode Opeseitan. All the aforementioned were his friends and they are still best of friends till today.
The same Laolu Akande you described as stagnant has had the rare privilege of interviewing a sitting President of the United States and is currently serving in the Presidency of Nigeria. His appointment and reapportionment were effected effortlessly.
Nigerians surely know the writer that vehemently criticized the process leading to Dr. Ahmed Lawan’s emergence as Senate President in daytime only for the so called public intellectual to attend an interview with the aim of working for that same government he pretends to loathe. If I may ask, where is the integrity?
Mr. Adedayo, it is good to flaunt one’s achievements but then as a Yoruba man you ought to know about the proverbial child who described his father’s farm as the largest in the land before visiting larger farms.
The likes of Rt. Hon. Mojeed Alabi (with six degrees in Law and Political Science), Dr. Akin Onigbinde (another fine gentleman with chain of degrees in Law and Political Science) and other greats whose academic achievements are mouthwatering do not gallivant around town with their degrees but they carry themselves with grace and humility.
While I wish you well in your delusion of grandeur, I can only pity youngsters who see a role model in you.
But please don’t forget to unveil the identities of “the Pastors” and “the Buhari ally” who strayed into “frantic prayers for Osinbajo”.
Until then, ire oooooooo.
Adetayo Adekunle, public affairs analyst writes from Ibadan, Oyo State
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