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May Your Road Be Rough| By Tai Solarin

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I am not cursing you; I am wishing you what I wish myself every year. I therefore repeat, may you have a hard time this year, may there be plenty of troubles for you this year! If you are not so sure what you should say back, why not just say, ‘Same to you’? I ask for no more.

Our successes are conditioned by the amount of risk we are ready to take. Earlier on today I visited a local farmer about three miles from where I live. He could not have been more than fifty-five, but he said he was already too old to farm vigorously. He still suffered, he said, from the physical energy he displayed as a farmer in his younger days. Around his hut were two pepper bushes. There were kokoyams growing round him. There were snail shells which had given him meat. There must have been more around the banana trees I saw. He hardly ever went to town to buy things. He was self-sufficient.

The car or the bus, the television or the telephone, the newspaper, Vietnam or Red China were nothing to him. He had no ambitions whatsoever, he told me. I am not sure if you are already envious of him, but were we all to revert to such a life, we would be practically driven back to cave dwelling. On the other hand, try to put yourself into the position of the Russian or the America astronaut. Any moment now the count, 3, 2, 1, is going to go, and you are going to be shot into the atmosphere and soon you will be whirling round our earth at the speed of six miles per second. If you get so fired into the atmosphere and you forget what to do to ensure return to earth, one of the things that might happen to you is that you could become forever satellite, going round the earth until you die of starvation and even then your body would continue the gyration!

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When, therefore, you are being dressed up and padded to be shot into the sky, you know only too well that you are going on the roughest road man had ever trodden. The Americans and Russians who have gone were armed with the great belief that they would come back. But I cannot believe that they did not have some slight foreboding on the contingency of their non-return. It is their courage for going in spite of these apprehensions that makes the world hail them so loudly today.
The big fish is never caught in shallow waters. You have to go into the open sea for it. The biggest businessmen make decisions with lighting speed and carry them out with equal celerity. They do not dare delay or dally.

Time would pass them by if they did. The biggest successes are preceded by the greatest of heart-burnings. You should read the stories of the bomber pilots of World War II. The Russian pilot, the German pilot, the American or the British pilot suffered exactly the same physical and mental tension the night before a raid on enemy territory. There were no alternative routes for those who most genuinely believed in victory for their side.
You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs, throughout the world, there is no paean without pain. Jawaharlal Nehru has put it so well. I am paraphrasing him. He wants to meet his troubles in a frontal attack. He wants to see himself tossed into the aperture between the two horns of the bull. Being there, he determines he is going to win and, therefore, such a fight requires all his faculties.

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When my sisters and I were young and we slept on our small mats round our mother, she always woke up at 6a.m. for morning prayers. She always said prayers on our behalf but always ended with something like this: ‘May we not enter into any dangers or get into any difficulties this day.’ It took me almost thirty years to dislodge the canker-worm in our mother’s sentiments. I found, by hard experience, that all that is noble and laudable was to be achieved only through difficulties and trials and tears and dangers. There are no other roads.

If I was born into a royal family and should one day become a constitutional king, I am inclined to think I should go crazy. How could I, from day to day, go on smiling and nodding approval at somebody else’s successes for an entire lifetime? When Edward the Eighth (now Duke of Windsor) was a young, sprightly Prince of Wales, he went to Canada and shook so many hands that his right arm nearly got pulled out of its socket. It went into a sling and he shook hands thenceforth with his left hand. It would appear he was trying his utmost to make a serious job out of downright sinecurism.

Life, if it is going to be abundant, must have plenty of hills and vales. It must have plenty of sunshine and rough weather. It must be rich in obfuscation and perspicacity. It must be packed with days of danger and of apprehension.
When I walk into the dry but certainly cool morning air of every January 1st, I wish myself plenty of tears and of laughter, plenty of happiness and unhappiness, plenty of failures and successes. Plenty of abuse and praise. It is impossible to win ultimately without a rich measure of intermixture in such a menu. Life would be worthless without the lot. We do not achieve much in this country because we are all so scared of taking risks. We all want the smooth and well-paved roads. While the reason the Americans and others succeeded so well is that they took such great risks.

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If, therefore, you are out in this New Year 1964, to win any target you have set for yourself, please accept my prayers and your elixir. May your road be rough!

 

 

Tai Solarin, Jan. 1, 1964

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Arogidigba as the trouble with Southern Nigeria | By Festus Adedayo 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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S/West PDP Zonal Congress: Makinde unveils Ex- Oyo deputy gov, Arapaja, as state’s nominee for chairmanship  

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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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Dear Jobseeker: May Your Hustle Be Blessed | By Bayo Adeyinka

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I had just finished my NYSC in 2000 and I was seeking employment. Those were the days when Guardian on Tuesdays and Thursdays were filled with adverts. I recall making friends with quite a few newspaper vendors so I can go through those newspapers for free since I couldn’t afford to buy a copy.

I can’t recall who saw that advert first but my friend, Deji and I decided to apply. The problem was we didn’t have transport fare to get to Lagos and back. The job was in Lagos and we had to apply in person though we were resident in Ibadan. We decided to look for money. Both of us ended up raising one-way fare. We had just enough to take us from Ibadan to Lagos. We couldn’t even raise funds to move within Lagos.

We decided to go. A man must be courageous. We packed our credentials in two envelopes and boarded a bus headed for Lagos at Iwo Road in Ibadan. When we got off, we took another bus headed for where we would attend the job interview. Deji and I looked at ourselves and laughed. We didn’t have a dime in our pockets. We had no idea how our adventure of faith would turn out. Or was it foolishness? A short while later, the bus conductor in his guttural voice shouted, ‘Owo e da?’ (Where is your money?).

I was closest to him. I raised my brown envelope and explained to him that I was a job seeker and I had used my last dime to get me to Lagos. I braced myself for the worst. I had heard so many tales about Lagos conductors. Those guys have no joy at all.

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As the conductor looked at me in utter shock or was it amazement, my friend told him we are together. The conductor hissed and clapped his hands. His eyes were bloodshot. He started raining expletives on both of us and we really expected some rough handling.

I was just praying he won’t tear my clothes or make it dirty. I can cope with a slap or two. Suddenly, a man spoke from the rear of the bus and told the conductor he would pay for both of us. As is expected, the conductor kept on abusing us even as he asked whether he was the one who sent us to school. The man reprimanded him and reminded him he would pay for us. We thanked the man profusely and got down when we got to our stop.

After we were done at the job venue (story for another day), it was time to go back to Ibadan as we didn’t have anywhere to sleep. Both of us decided on a strategy. Deji had an uncle working at a government parastatal at Marina while I had a friend at Marina also. He would approach his uncle and try to get money for two while I tried the same with my friend. We had a place to meet up because that was pre-mobile phone days. Deji wasn’t quite lucky as his uncle was not in the office. My friend was able to give us enough money for our fare back to Ibadan.

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So I understand what an average jobseeker has to go through-the rigour of funding his transport while looking for a job or attending an interview. It is with this background in mind that I want to pay for the fare of anyone who has an interview in Lagos and Ibadan this week and cannot afford same.

Please take note of the following:

1. You will show me proof of the interview. Send it inbox. Prompt me if you need my DM to be available.

2. I must be reasonably convinced you can’t afford the fare. I may conduct a background check on you.

3. The transport must be reasonable. No Uber or Bolt. Nothing else apart from the fare.

4. I have the right to disqualify anyone. The right to select ultimately belongs to me.

5. Please do not send anything beyond a request for fare. I will block you if you do so.

6. Do not attempt to scam me. I will know and you will not only be blocked, I will shame you publicly.

7. Lagos and Ibadan only this week. Resources are limited and once exhausted, it will come to an end.

8. If you’re interested in also paying for a few people, you can contact me.

While I sincerely appreciate accolades, I think the best thing anyone who is inspired by this can do is to do likewise. Pay for the transport of others too. I was inspired by the action of that man on the bus who paid our fare without knowing us 20 years ago and that friend of mine who paid our fare back to Ibadan. And I was also inspired by the action of someone on LinkedIn who did something similar. Go and do likewise.

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Addendum: Earlier offer expanded to include online interviews in view of the changing times. So, if you have an online interview and need money for data, send a DM. Terms and conditions remain the same.

For transport, it is now open to anywhere in Nigeria and not just Lagos and Ibadan.

 

Bayo Adeyinka, an Administrator and Author; writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.

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