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Open Letter To Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu | By Bayo Adeyinka

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My dear Asiwaju,

I am compelled to write this open letter to you because of the state of affairs of the Yoruba nation. Firstly, I wish to acknowledge that fate has put you in a prime position to determine to a large extent the direction that the Yoruba people will go. The indisputable truth is that one may quarrel with your politics but your sagacity is never in doubt. Even those who don’t see eye to eye with you agree that you are imbued with unusual native intelligence, uncommon people skills and unrivaled foresight. You, more than any other person, has been the game changer since the advent of democracy in 1999. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to direct this letter to you.

My singular purpose is to tug at the strings of your heart. I am not writing to appeal to partisan considerations but to see, if per chance, I can pour out my heart to you in a manner of speaking. God has blessed you even beyond your wildest imagination. You have installed Senators and Governors. You have removed Governors and even a President. You have also installed a President. There is nothing you have wished for or desired that you didn’t get. Fortune has smiled on you. Goodwill follows you everywhere you go. You have done very well- more than most men ever will. However, there is one area that is begging for your urgent attention. This area may well define you and all you have ever achieved. This matter, in my opinion, is the only difference between you and the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Let me restate for the purpose of emphasis that this is the area in which the late sage and Leader of the Yorubas stand head and shoulders above you. It is the reason his name has been a constant denominator in our regional and national politics. It is the reason politicians, friends and foes invoke his name for political advantage and personal glory. It is also the reason why we can’t stop talking about him almost thirty years after his death. What will anyone say about you thirty years after you have transited?

Asiwaju Sir, you may be wondering what I’m talking about? It is the issue of legacy. According to Peter Strople, ‘Legacy is not leaving something for people, it is leaving something in people’. Legacy is building something that outlives you. Legacy is greater than currency. In the words of Leonard Sweet, ‘ What you do is your history. What you set in motion is your legacy’. You can’t live forever, Sir. No one can. But you can create something that will. Enough of speaking in parables- I shall now speak plainly.

When destiny brought you on the scene, we were enamoured because you championed the case for true federalism. It was your belief then that the Yoruba nation will fare better under a restructured arrangement than under the type of unitary government we run while pretending by calling it a federal government. Everyone knows that there is nothing federal about our government at all. If truth must be told, the Yoruba nation has fared very badly since the advent of our new democracy. And this is not about holding power at the centre.

Let me bring this home: someone passed a comment recently that he would want Biafra to become a reality because he knows the Igbo nation will survive. That comment led me to deeper introspection as I wondered if the Yorubas can truly survive. Let me cite my first example. From Oyo to Osun, Ogun to Ondo, Ekiti to Kwara and Lagos, hardly will one see any serious industry or manufacturing concern owned by a Yoruba person. I am not talking about portfolio businesses or one-man business concerns. Most industries in Oyo State are owned by the Lebanese. The native business and industry gurus who dominated the landscape- Nathaniel Idowu, Amos Adegoke, Lekan Salami, Alao Arisekola, Adeola Odutola, Jimoh Odutola, Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni and others- are all gone with no credible replacements. I’m sure you remember the tyre factory of the Odutolas and how Jimoh Odutola was even asked by the Governments of Kenya and Ghana to set up a similar factory in their countries. Chief Theophilus Adediran Oni, popularly called T.A Oni & Sons started the first indigenous construction company in Nigeria. He willed his residence- Goodwill House, to the Oyo/Western state government, to be used as a Paediatric Hospital, which is now known as T.A Oni Memorial Children Hospital at Ring Road in Ibadan. This sprawling family Estate and residence was cited on a 15acre piece of land, 65 rooms, with modern conveniences, Olympic Swimming Pool and stable for Horses, etc.
People like Chief Bode Akindele started companies like Standard Breweries and Dr Pepper Soft drink factory at Alomaja in Ibadan. Broking House built by the late Femi Johnson, an insurance magnate, still stands glittering in the mid-day sun as an epitome to a rich history that Ibadan has. The most serious and only notable Yoruba entrepreneur we have now is Michael Adenuga. I say this quite consciously because most of the other names are oil and gas barons. Most of what stood as testaments of industry in Oyo State are gone- Exide Batteries, Leyland Autos and many others. In its place are shopping malls and road side markets but no nation develops through buying and selling alone- especially when you’re not actually producing what you’re selling. Hypermarkets and supermarkets have taken over because of the need to feed our insatiable consumer-appetite and foreign tastes. In one instance, an ancient landmark in the form of a hotel was demolished to pave way for a mall. That is how low we have sunk. If our past is better than our present- if we always look back with nostalgia frequently, then there is a problem.

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The case of other states is not different. Osun’s case is pathetic. Ditto for Ondo and Ekiti. Ogun State can boast of some factories at Sango-Otta and Agbara axis but most of them are not owned by the Yorubas. There is no significant pharmaceutical company owned by any Yoruba except for Bond Chemicals in Awe, Oyo State- and its wallet share is very insignificant. For Lagos State, more than 70% of the manufacturing concerns and major industries in the State are owned by the Igbos. If the Igbos were to stop paying tax in Lagos State, the IGR of Lagos State will reduce by over 60%. In contrast, Sir, go to the South East and look at the manufacturing concerns in Onitsha, Aba and Nnewi. Please don’t forget those were areas ravaged by civil war a mere forty something years ago. The Igbos have certainly made tremendous progress but the Yoruba nation has regressed. I wish to state that this letter is not meant to whip up primordial considerations or ethnic sentiments but just to put things in proper perspective.

Asiwaju, I will like to also talk about the state of education in the Yoruba nation. Our education has gone to the dogs. We have a bunch of mis-educated and ill-educated young men and women roaming the streets. Ibadan, for instance, had the first University in Nigeria and the first set of research centres in Nigeria ( The Forestry Research Institute, the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIN), The Nigerian Cereal Research Institute Moor Plantation (NCRI), the NIHORT (Nigerian Institute of Horticultural Research), the NISER (Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research), IAR&T (Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training), amongst several others). Ibadan was the bastion of scholarship with people like Wole Soyinka, JP Clark, D.O Fagunwa and Amos Tutuola as residents. In the May/June 2015 West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, Abia came tops. Anambra came 2nd while Edo was 3rd. Lagos placed 6th while Osun and Oyo was 29th and 26th. Ekiti was 11th, Ondo State was 13th and Ogun State was 19th. In 2013 WASSCE, only Lagos and Ogun States were the Yoruba States above the national average. If we do an analysis of how Lagos placed 6th in 2015, you will discover that it was substantially because of other nationalities resident in Lagos. For proof, please look no further than the winners of the Spelling Bee competition which has produced One-Day Governors in Lagos State. Since inception in 2001, other nationalities have won the competition six times (Ebuka Anisiobi in 2001, Ovuwhore Etiti in 2002, Abundance Ikechukwu in 2006, Daniel Osunbor in 2008, Akpakpan Iniodu Jones in 2011 and Lilian Ogbuefi in 2012). Sir, there is something seriously wrong about our state of education. From the vintage times of Obafemi Awolowo who initiated ‘free education’, we have regressed into a most parlous state.

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Let me talk about roads, housing and infrastructure . The first dualized road in Nigeria, the Queen Elizabeth road from Mokola to Agodi in Ibadan was formally commissioned by Queen Elizabeth in 1956. The first Housing Estate in Nigeria is Bodija Housing Estate (also in Ibadan) which was built in 1958. The state of roads in the Yoruba nation has become pathetic. Our hinterland are still largely rural. Even some state capitals like Osogbo and Ado-Ekiti are big villages when you compare them to towns in the South East. How many new estates have been built over the last decade? Even Ajoda New Town lies in ruins.

We have abandoned the farm settlement strategy of the Western Region and only pay lip service to agriculture. Instead of feeding others like we once did, others now feed us. We plant no tomatoes, no pepper and the basic food that we require. The Indians have bought the large expanse of water body that we have in Onigambari village. The water body in Oke Ogun of Oyo State can provide enough fish to feed the whole of the South West. From being a major cocoa exporter many years ago, one can point to just a few vestiges of factories that still deal with Cocoa in the Yoruba nation. 80% of Cocoa processing industries in the South West have been shut down. The Chinese have taken over the cashew belt at Ogbomoso in Oyo State. They have even edged out the indigenes as brokers. They now come to the cashew belt to buy from the local farmers, sell on the spot to other Chinese exporters who now process the cashew nuts and import them back into Nigeria at a premium. Sir, there are only 7 major cashew processing plants in Nigeria and you can check out the ownership. The glory has departed from the Yoruba nation.

Apart from Asejire, Ede, Ikere Gorge and Oyan dams built ages ago, where are the new dams to cater for increased population and water capacity for the Yoruba nation? How have we improved on what our heroes past left us? Maybe apart from certain areas in Lagos State, others can’t even supply their citizens with pipe-borne water.

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Our youth which we used to take pride in are largely a mass of unemployed and unemployable people. Have you noticed the abundance of street urchins, area boys, touts and ‘agberos’ that we now have all across the Yoruba nation? Have you noticed the swell in the ranks of NURTW (I mean no disrespect to an otherwise noble union)? Have you noticed the increase in the number of Yoruba beggars? There was a time that it was taboo for a Yoruba man to beg- but no more. The spirit of apprenticeship is dead. There was a time that people who learn vocational skills celebrate what we referred to as ‘freedom’. While that is largely moribund now in the Yoruba nation, the Igbos still practice it with great success.

The only thing we can boldly say the Yoruba nation controls is the information machinery- the press. We own largely the newspapers- the Nation, Punch, Nigerian Tribune, TV Continental and a few others. It is because of our control of this information machinery that we have rewritten the narrative in the country with the misguided self-belief that things are normal and we are making progress. A look beyond the surface will prove that this is so untrue.

We are largely divided. For the first time in the history of the Yoruba nation, religion is about to divide us further- and it is starting from Osun State. You are married to a Christian. My own father-in-law is an Alhaji. That is how we have peacefully do-existed but the fabrics are about to be torn to shreds because of poor management of issues. Afenifere has been reduced to a shadow of itself. OPC that once defended Yoruba interests has gone into oblivion. Yoruba elders have been vilified in the name of politics and partisanship. It is no longer news to see teenagers throwing stones at their elders because of their political indoctrination. Even under the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Yorubas never belonged to just a single party- yet our unity was without blemish. Now, our values have gone down the drain.

Asiwaju, I believe I have said enough. The task is Herculean but I believe Providence has brought you here for such a time like this. It is time for the Yoruba nation to clean up its acts. What do we really want? How can we quickly right the wrongs? The Yoruba nation is in a state of arrested development. The Yoruba nation is gasping for breath and crying for help. Will you rise up to the occasion? I am aware you understand that all politics is local and charity begins at home. Our fathers gave us a proverb: ‘Bi o’ode o dun, bi igbe ni’gboro ri’. I know there are no quick fixes but I also know that if there is anyone who has the capacity to do something about our current situation, that person is you. This should be the legacy you should think of. Your legacy is our future.

 

Yours Very Sincerely,

Adebayo Adeyinka

Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria

 

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National Issues

Rice Revolution And Rising Revolution In Nigeria | By Ajibola Esuola

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Rice is surely one of the staple foods in Nigeria and Africa. Children and kids are particularly covenanted to eating rice as a daily food; it takes you being defined as an irresponsible parent not to have rice for your family. Across Nigeria, from time immemorial, rice has formed huge portion of the consumption patter and budget of this massive country. Africa’s largest economy so blessed with expansive border less population with stream of people. Consequently and annually, millions of dollars are shipped offshore out of Nigeria in exchange of bags of rice shipped,  trollied and ferried back to Nigeria. Few merchants, registered and unregistered, known and coded had benefitted selfishly from both legal and illegal importation of rice in and out of Nigeria. Inside this cartel, arguably, had been the custom officials and other members of Nigeria’s security and paramilitary agencies.

The twisted giant of Africa was bleeding, while pockets of a few were bursting with dollars and nairas. Hardworking local rice growers did not have their own locals willing to consume their own products from their own soils. Their toils were soiled, a seeming cruse became a curse. Spelled by unknown curses, black people with rice from their own backyards prefer to enrich other nationals from contemporary less developed countries and continents of the world. It is pestilential and pitiable when a giant relies on dwarfs to feed.

Then, a revolutionary policy came up. Nigeria would close its borders to prevent importation of rice from other countries, among other aims. To the worst critic of this government decision, in a time like this, the decision albeit even temporary is yet revolutionary and out-of- the box from colonial dependency and undue attachment to foreign dogmatic taste for even the most basic needs. The beauties and attractions in banning imported rice cannot be ignored. Encouragement being given to local producers of rice cannot be quantified. The step will give these neglected farmers more impetus to produce the commodity, backed by ready buyers. Unemployment will be mopped up. Many hitherto unemployed and underemployed persons will embrace rice farming realizing the new prosperities and potentials embedded in Nigeria’s revolutionized rice project.

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Savings of foreign currencies being used to import this product will go into conservations and savings. Huge amounts are already being saved in millions of dollars from partial closure of borders against rice smuggling. As at last count, close to 200 rice mills of various sizes had sprung up in many parts of Nigeria. The consciousness among nation – states  that each must produce what her citizens eat is gradually dawning of Nigeria and Nigerians. Spiral and massive engagement of human resources and ideals will come into play through the establishment of these rice mills. For many states, the revolution on the task of increasing their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is right on course. Money missing roads into the pockets of politicians are being channeled towards productive activities in rice plantation, harvesting and sales. Interestingly, since the closure of Nigeria boarders against rice importation, kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and other forms of criminal activities had reduced along the axis of Nigeria’s borders. The Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN), Godwin Emefiele had correctly predicted the reduction of these criminal activities if the borders are closed, and these predictions are coming to pass.

It is not only about the rice revolution, but the clear pointers to a rising revolution in Nigeria. The socio – political atmosphere is scheduled to pick up revolutionary trends, if the Buhari administration can step up on any success being achieved in the rice revolution. Some emerging reforms on – going as regards corruption, judiciary, politics and in many areas cannot be swept under the carpet. Except the Buhari cabals are not keen to enshrine their names in the annals of good leadership, the best option for them is to ensure a sustained and better leadership, which will not draw the nation backwards. Going forward, the need is for good leadership which will close more borders; borders of underdevelopment, borders of nepotism, borders of inadequate infrastructural development, borders of hate, borders of insecurity, kidnapping and terrorism. Politics are not as being played in the 60s and 70s in Nigeria. The stakes are higher now, participants are more educated, enlightened and sophisticated, germane issues are now being raised, even if not totally addressed.

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In the political rising revolution, more questions will be asked. For example, in Nigeria during the closing months in year 2019, both the EFCC and ICPC (anti – corruption agencies) are to participate in electoral fraud monitoring henceforth. This is to close border of vote buying. Or why should there be vote buying? Rising Revolution is not the Sowore model. Such are laden with errors and not strengthened by crafted strategies and deep reasonings. What revolution, at the onset of a fresh tenure of a government that has just won an election where you the zealous ‘revolutionary’ contested and lost. What revolution? If revolutions had been so easy, Nzeogu, Awolowo, Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka, Ojukwu and others would have done so even more successfully in Nigeria with their highly cerebral brains and constituents. The rising revolution in Nigeria will succeed , as it is going to be engineered by scions, kiths and kind of renowned cabals in Nigeria, past and existing. It will be soon, it won’t be long.

So, it is not only about closing borders in a rice revolution. If thoroughly searchlight is beamed , fellow countrymen and women, it is a rising revolution.

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National Issues

June 12 : Atiku renews call for electoral reforms

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Nigeria’s former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Thursday called for the immediate reform of the nation’s electoral process.

Alhaji Atiku, who  was also the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, in his Democracy Day message, emphasized on the need to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

The PDP chieftain asked authorities to ensure that the votes of the people were not only counted but should count.

The message read, “As we celebrate today our 21st anniversary of unbroken democratic rule, it is necessary that we canonize the memories of our heroes of democracy by expanding the application of democracy as a mechanism of good governance by making sure that ballots cast during an election are sacrosanct in order for leaders who represent the true aspirations of the people to emerge.

“However, to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, that votes are not only counted, but that they do count, there is an urgent need to accelerate needed electoral reforms that will address the lapses in previous elections”.

He added that celebrating Democracy Day is an affirmation of the nation’s collective struggles towards a system of participatory government.

While urging Nigerians to use the occasion of the Democracy Day to remember the nation’s fallen heroes of democratic rule, as well as the anonymous ones whom he said lost their lives as a result of bad governance, the former vice president, however, regretted that many compatriots paid the ultimate price along the line in the struggle which spanned decades.

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“Just like the late Bashorun MKO Abiola continues to be the symbol of the June 12 struggle, there are many others like the late Chief Alfred Rewane; my mentor, Tafida Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and many more too numerous to mention who lost their lives in order for us to have a democracy.

“Yet, there are so many other heroes who remain unsung. They are Nigerians who have fallen victims of bad governance.

“While we may have a day dedicated to celebrating democracy, it remains saddening that we have not delivered enough dividends to our people to be happy over.

“Between 1999 to the present time, our democracy has thrown up all shades of characters at the leadership levels. Many, if not all of them have tried their best to deliver good governance to the country. But the results of their efforts, judging by what we have at hand today, clearly shows that our best has not been good enough thus far.

“It is clear that the problem of leadership is at the epicenter of governance issues that has afflicted Nigeria since the restoration of this democratic dispensation. To get at this problem would require the voting citizens of the country to undertake a more critical evaluation of national leadership recruitment – a rare gift which democracy guarantees through the instrumentality of periodic elections.

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“It is when we do that, that democracy can pass as a self-correcting mechanism and when it is denied, we are left with a pseudo-democracy which is counterproductive to the notion of participatory democracy”, the message concluded.

 

 

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National Issues

Abacha loot: Mai Gaskiya, can you see your world in the open? |  By Festus Adedayo

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late General Sani Abacha

Profound apologies that I chose to do a literal translation of Yoruba into English in the above headline. Can you see your world in the open is a direct translation of the Yoruba se o r’aye e l’ode? It’s deployed at a moment of extreme let-down, incomparable frustration, an intersection where a misdemeanor has absolutely ridiculed and discredited the person in question.

The heist of the late General Sani Abacha, stashed away in different countries of the world, that are coming in droves back to the country, is my subject.

This was a heist which the self-same Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, had persistently denied as non-existent, literally beatifying his late benefactor, Sani Abacha, as above board.

Excluding tranches of the loot recently returned to Nigeria, the countryside’s has, in the past 18 years, recovered $4.6 billion (1.4trn) of her treasury looted by Abacha. While the United States Embassy in Nigeria recently announced the sum of $319m (N121bn) loot repatriated from the United Kingdom and France and handed back to Nigeria, this repatriated fund was different from one of about a week ago where the sum of $311 million Abacha loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey were also funneled back into the country.

In a statement last week, the embassy said: “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.”

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At every point of the looted funds’ repatriation to Nigeria, these countries where the looted funds were earlier domiciled diplomatically but unambiguously made it known that they do not trust Nigerian leaders not to re-loot the looted funds. In fact, their trenchant shouts while returning the funds are revelatory of their disposition.

The one of February, 2020 even came with the caveat and a tripartite agreement signed by Nigeria with the US government and the Bailiwick of Jersey that upon the return of the money, it would be spent on specific infrastructure projects, to wit the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and the Abuja-Kano Expressway.

 At another point, there were frenetic moves by the US and United Kingdom governments against the plan of the Nigerian government to gift Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State governor, who was alleged to be an enabler and accomplice of the laundered money, the sum of $110 million out of the recovered funds.

Recently too, a warning came from the United States Justice Department that, should Nigeria fail to spend the repatriated funds on the agreed public projects, she would refund the money.

I don’t know if you know that these veiled threats didn’t come without an underlining perception or intelligence reports about our government’s disposition to public funds in its care. Nigerian governments, the so-called Mai Gaskiya’s inclusive, are known to the globe to be rapaciously corrupt, adding to this corruption medal another medallion of shamelessness. The way the globe polices monies that are Nigeria’s but stolen by a Nigerian despot of incomparable filching mentality, is embarrassingly unprecedented. Can Mai Gaskiya see his world in the open is the most fitting epithet to describe this shamelessness

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