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With Love from Yokohama – Femi Adesina

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Love in Tokyo is the title of a 1966 film that became a hit at the box office. Since then, when men and women, boys and girls show affection to one another publicly, you often hear “love in Tokyo.”

But we only landed in Tokyo, and took a 30 minutes drive to Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city. That is why instead of Love in Tokyo, the headline of this piece is With Love from Yokohama.

What am I doing in this port city of Japan, with a population of about 3.7 million people? Good question. I am here as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation to the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, otherwise known as TICAD7. It holds between August 28 and 30.
If you talk of a long-haul flight, this was one. A number of times, I have been to China. To India. To United States of America. Long flights from Nigeria, no doubt. But Japan now wins the diadem.

Except I have the grace to go to Australia, New Zealand, and some other ends of the world countries in future, Japan is the farthest I’ve now done. About 17 hours in the air. Holy Moses!
From Abuja to Muscat, in Oman, where we made a technical stopover, to refuel and stretch our legs, it was 7 hours and 13 minutes. After about an hour, we were on the way again. Nine hours, 24 minutes, nonstop. You love to sleep? You will sleep till your eyes bulge. You love to read? You will read till you begin to smell of books. Love movies? You will watch, and watch, and watch, till you begin to imagine yourself as Sean Connery or Sylvester Stallone.

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In the air, the time seems to crawl ever so slowly, even when your plane is flying at the speed of sound.

As the screen in the plane gives you an idea of where you are, it also gives a sense of deja vu. Places you had visited in the past. Muscat, in Oman was the same place we had stopped over to refuel in 2016, while returning home from an official visit to China. But this time, the airport was wearing a new look, with an ultra-modern terminal. Oil money at work. That is what a country gets when its resources are not looted blind. Kill corruption, otherwise, it kills your country.

Flying over Middle East, you recall trips to Qatar, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and many others. New Delhi also brought memories of search for Indian talisman during a trip in late 2015. Nearing Japan, when we flew over a place called Osaka, I remembered the young tennis sensation, Naomi Osaka, the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament last year, a feat she has repeated at the Australian Open this year. Serena Williams is her role model, but that did not stop her from sensationally drubbing her idol. Great girl!

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Flying over Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, brought back poignant memories of visits to those cities.

What can Nigerians expect from Yokohama? Our President is not just footloose, withstanding the rigour of long-haul flights for nothing. It is all about Nigeria, and her development. The conference is under the theme ‘Africa and Yokohama, Sharing Passion for the Future.’ It is the seventh in the series of what began as a once-in-five-years conference in 1993, but now holds every three years. It rotates between Japan and Africa, with the last held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.

In Kenya, Japan had pledged $30 billion investment for the future of Africa, another $10 billion for infrastructure, and $500 million for vocational training of 50,000 Africans. On Wednesday, President Buhari will unfold what Nigeria has gained so far from Japan, and of course, present fresh shopping bills. Yes, we can’t singlehandedly reverse the infrastructure deficit we have in Nigeria. We need help from credible places.

I hope to bring you developments on the sidelines of the conference. Keep a date with Japan File. There may even be a dose of Love in Tokyo, who knows.

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Opinion

Makinde’s Concession of Agbowo Complex: Is 4.9Billion Naira Equal 50years? | By Moruf Smith

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Yesterday, Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde flagged off the concession of the long moribund Agbowo Shopping Complex to Messrs Whitestone Global Limited at a cost of 4.9 Billion Naira on a long lease of 50years!

 

The company was given a mandate to renovate the complex to a commercial real estate and a 4-star hotel within 24 months. In his remarks at the flag off event, Governor Makinde took a swipe at the immediate past administration of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi which signed an MOU with Agbowo Mall Infrastructure Development Company Limited to remodel, redevelop and rehabilitate the expansive complex at a cost of 8 Billion naira. The said MOU was said not to have seen the light of the day until the tenure of the last administration wound up.

However, the concession of the complex by the current administration was not a smart move. It was not well thought out. Everything was wrong with the concessional arrangement; from the funding of the concession to the long lease of 50 years. It’s worthy of note to revisit the story behind Agbowo Shopping Complex.

The complex was constructed by the administration of late Chief Bola Ige in 1983 on 30 plots of land. The complex was being managed by Oyo State Housing Corporation and had been a source of employment and job opportunities for the teeming people of the state while it contributed to the economy of the state and a source of revenue to the government. But Agbowo Complex suffered neglect and mismanagement as successive governments in Oyo state made no effort to resuscitate the sprawling monument until the administration of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi decided to renovate it.

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The immediate past administration signed an MOU as explained above but a protracted court case remained a clog in the wheel of progress on the renovation of the abandoned complex. It’s however not clear whether the present government has resolved the issue of the court case on the complex before the governor went ahead to initiate the concession.

It ought to be commendable that, at last, pragmatic efforts were being made to get Agbowo Shopping complex up and running. But what cast doubts on the sincerity behind the latest flag off of the concession arrangement are the manner of funding and the years of lease. It would be recalled that during the first tenure of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Oodua Group under the chairmanship of Bar Sarafadeen Alli and Mr Adebayo Jimoh as the Group Managing Director, embarked on construction of Heritage Mall and redevelopment of Cocoa Mall in Dugbe Business District at the cost of 3 Billion Naira.

Construction of Heritage Mall was wholly financed by the Oodua Group, costing 2 Billion naira while Cocoa Mall redevelopment was carried out in partnership with Frontline Developer Services Limited, costing 1 Billion naira. Oodua Group is owned by governments of Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti states. After the construction and redevelopment of the two malls, Oodua Group outsourced the facilities to a consortium of facility managers who see to the functionality and maintenance of the malls. Heritage Mall and Cocoal Mall, housing Shoprite, cinema house and other important stores are doing well as we speak.

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If Oodua Group, jointly owned by states in the south west, including Oyo state, could finance construction of malls and other facilities without concession or long lease, what stops Oyo government to toe the same more viable path? 4.9 Billion naira is too paltry to seek concession and long lease for. If the present government is still creditworthy, it should be able to get a consortium of local banks to finance the project after which the government can also engage a consortium of real estate managers to manage the facilities.

It should not take more than ten years long to repay the local banks the loans and interests from the purse of the state while revenues from the management of the rejuvenated complex will have been accruing to Oyo state. This is unarguably a win-win situation for government in terms of increased revenue, for people in terms of employment and job opportunities and value chain, for investors in terms of return on investment and for facility managers in terms of professional engagements.

The present concessional arrangement of 4.9 Billion naira equals 50 years is a win to Messrs Whitestone Global Limited, a win to people in terms of job opportunities but a huge loss to Oyo state in terms of revenue as acute depreciation will have befallen Agbowo Shopping Complex after 50 years of its renovation when the state is expected to take it over. It may not be wrong to dwell on the allegation that the administration of Seyi Makinde may be preparing Agbowo Shopping Complex for personal gains of its principal.

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Even if Governor Makinde was going to spend 8years in Agodi, it will take another long stretch of 44 years for the state to recover Agbowo Shopping Complex from Messrs Whitestone Global Limited, which must have fed fatter and become chubbier on Oyo state’s patrimony. If we spend three years to prepare a man for madness, when is he going to storm market?

If Messrs Whitestone Global Limited manages Agbowo Shopping Complex for 50years to recoup 4.9 Billion naira and interests accrued, when will Oyo state begin to reap her investment and profits on the complex?

 

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Opinion

Why Is Ajimobi’s Mausoleum A Subject Hypocritical Outrage? | By Maroof Asudemade

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Nigerians derive a kind of unexplainable pleasure in brazen hypocrisy. The latest in their display of mischiefs coated in feigned outrage is about the grand Mausoleum constructed by the family of the deceased former governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.

This writer must confess that he held initially that the resting place was vainly flamboyant when the video of the Mausoleum was sent to him. But after making some enquiries as to the intent and purpose of the tomb, he’s convinced that there was nothing vain about it and that it’s the best way the Ajimobi family thinks it fit to honour and keep memories of their illustrious patriarch.

Mausoleum is a phenomenon that has been embraced in all continents of the world. It was invented by Phythius and named after King Mausolus, a Persian satrap of Caria in Harlicarnassus near the modern Turkey, whose grieving widow had the Mausoleum done to immortalise him. The large Mausoleum housing the remains of King Mausolus was reputed to be one of the Seven Wonders of the world! Since its invention, mausolea have been regular features of burial and internment arrangements, cutting across continents and religions, especially among royal, political, military and economic leaders around the world.

Mausolea are monuments. Monuments represent the histories and the heritages of peoples of the world. Without monuments, histories and heritages are lost to generations who need them to develop a sense of history and to recognise past glories in which they must exude pride. But when a people choose to sneer at a monument because of flimsy consideration of vanity, then, it’s no curse that such people already have courted extinction.

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The ‘vanity’ that mausolea are tagged to be began and spread from ‘saner’ climes after which the insanity of adopting them in Nigeria afflicted us. Almost all known deceased leaders in politics, economy, royalty and military and professional endeavours had mausolea constructed over their remains in their sprawling premises. Mausolea came into the consciousness of Nigerians when the ever sagely Obafemi Awolowo died in 1987 and a mausoleum was constructed over his embalmed remains which visitors and tourists continued to troop to see even after many years before his corpses was decaying and he had to be buried appropriately. Since then, mausolea are being constructed by families of deceased eminent Nigerians as an indication of how immensely they cherish the lives and the memories of their departed loved ones.

When Mike Adenuga lost his mother, he spent several millions of naira to construct a mausoleum to house his mother’s remain. In Nigeria today, deceased eminent Nigerians who had mausolea built over their remains included Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi, Sani Abacha in Kano, Olusola Saraki in Ilorin, Oba Okunade Sijuwade in Ile-Ife, Tayo Aderinokun in Lagos and a host of others. Even Dino Melaye built a world class Mausoleum for his mother’s remains! We can all see how vanity drives our eminent men and women to have mausolea that hold no pleasure to them built on them! Don’t Yoruba elders say ‘he who isn’t entitled to a bonus calls it unlawful’? Only a poverty of acute proportion will make one attach vanity to every luxury in life.

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If all these eminent men and women mentioned above embraced vanity for having mausolea built on their remains, let me regale you with a burial story of a sincerely altruistic and the only truly radical and activist lawyer Nigeria has ever produced, Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi. No one can associate an atom of corruption to the late fiery lawyer! He lived a good life despite that he was an excessively incorruptible man. Yet, he planned his burial immediately he was told of his terminal lung cancer. He instructed that he wanted to be buried in gold casket! And, yes, Gani Fawehinmi was buried in gleaming gold casket! So, Gani too was vain! If Gani did not elevate vanity while alive, why would he elevate vanity in death?

No one is justified at all to wail about the vanity of life to the families of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi. What could be more vain than having to lose a man larger than his existence, an illustrious colossus for that matter? If losing Ajimobi to the inevitable death does not define life as vanity, one wonders what else will? Senator Ajimobi lived a good life, worthy of emulation in all ramifications. Yoruba elders say, ‘a dowry paid on a bride depends on how cherished the bribe is’. Therefore, it’s also apt to conclude that ‘Ajimobi was befittingly buried based on how so much he was cherished, loved and adored by his families’.

 

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Opinion

Is the word bankrolling derogatory? | By Onike Rahaman

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Subject:

Given the harsh reactions and ill-mannered responses of Femi Fani Kayode to the question asked by The Daily Trust Correspondent during the interactive session held with the journalists in the Cross River State yesterday, the action of FFK which has been largely condemned, considered as social misconduct and irrational forced me to carry out further search of the extensive meanings of the word ‘bankroll’ .

 

Up till now, I have not got any hints, tips or information on the derogatory meaning of the word bankroll to have prompted FFK outbursts of anger.Even my dictionary of insulting words didn’t include such entry.

 

Background information:

Chief Femi Fani Kayode in the past few days had been touring some states meeting the governors in those states.

He was in Calabar the capital of Cross Rivers state when he was asked by Eyo Charles the Daily Trust Correspondent in the state that who is bankrolling his tour.

Fani Kayode became livid with anger and said, ” What type of stupid question is that?

Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to? I will not take any questions from this man. What type of insulting question is that? Which bankroll? To do what? Who can give me money for anything?

Who do you think you are talking to? Go and report yourself to your publisher… Don’t insult me here… I could see from your face before you got here how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that. Who do you think you are talking to?”

While some people have blamed the reporter for asking a denigrating question, others insist Fani Kayode displayed pride as it is the duty of journalists to promote accountability. Who do we blame?

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A. Eyo Charles the reporter.
B. Chief Femi Fani Kayode.

Semantics of the word that ignited the anger of Femi Fani Kayode:

Bankrolling:

1.Cambridge English Dictionary: verb. informal.
‘To support a person or activity financially’

2.Collins Dictionary:

VERB
‘To bankroll a person, organization, or project means to provide the financial resources that they need’.

[mainly US, informal]
The company has bankrolled a couple of local movies.

3. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

bankroll:Informal-to provide the money that someone needs for a business,a plan etc.

4. Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
bankroll verb
bankrolled; bankrolling; bankrolls
Definition of bankroll (Entry 2 of 2)
transitive verb
: to supply money for (a business, project, or person.
5.Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners:
bankroll:to provide the money for something.

My Take:

What then could have infuriated the former Minister and Lawyer with the question asked by the timid journalist for him to have acted oddly and reacted annoyingly in a way that has exposed him to public ridicule?

The whole scenario is a pointer to the fact that the man lacks emotional intelligence, maturity, decency and capacity to handle stressful situations.

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