Recently, the Student Union Government (SUG) of the prestigious Federal Polytechnic, Idah, in Kogi State honoured one of their own, Austin Usman Okai.
I have always been of the opinion that recognition would come but after hard work. Okai has been consistent in tackling bad governance, enthronement of thuggery, poverty and misery in Kogi State, occasioned by the lack of direction in his home state of Kogi and Nigeria at large.
For those who may not know, Austin has paid tremendous dues in the interest of Kogi state. He has been harassed , beaten, locked up and dragged to court on countless occasions. On one occasion in 2019, rumours started flying around social media that he was dead in jail. Being a long time friend, I put a call through to one of his own friends and a personal acquaintance, Elvis, who confirmed that he went to see Austin in detention. They were together at the time of the phone call.
Such is one of the stories of times when your heart skipped one or two beats on hearing how the man narrowly escaped death by the whiskers.
The Kogi State political terrain is quite primitive. It is thoroughly vindictive, ravenous and sinister. The governors are emperors but emperor Bello is outstanding. He brooks no opposition, criticism, dissenting opinion or anything that is not to make him look mighty. He has caged the media, the youths have all become ‘honourables’ waiting for handouts from the government and are largely jobless. The major occupations for youths in Kogi now are hypocrisy, sycophancy, praise singing and thuggery.
Youths are ready to burn down their own village if the emperor says so. That is the plight of Kogi state at the moment. Your heart is in your mouth as you travel to your own home town. During the build up to the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state, a youth leader threatenedthose returning home to vote to either come home for Bello or forget about the journey. I was horrified that people could stoop to such a low in their bid to please their master.
It is against such an anarchic system that weaponizes poverty, mediocrity, brigandage and littleness that Austin stood. Unlike the other unstable comrades whose rudder is directed by stomach infrastructure, he has stood his grounds, insisting by words or actions that it is either good governance or not. To the able comrade, it is there is no midpoint in these things. He always said to me that sitting on the fence is cowardice. It is betrayal.
True to his nature, he has remained on the side of the people.Like Dr Martin Luther, he always has a dream for a better Nigeria. But to have a better Nigeria begins from a better Kogi State where youths are not loitering and wasting away, where youths are not lining the roads chanting ‘Up chair!’ while the governor throws money from an opened roof of his car.
I believe this is one of the many awards to come. It is also to set the pace for the youths that hard work, honesty, consistency and truth bring recognition and reward at the end. The people, whose interests you defend , are watching and they would speak at the right time.
It is on this note that I say a mighty congratulations for an award well deserved to Comrade Austin Okai.
Writer, columnist and researcher is based in Lagos.
Irukera the Hope of Power shift to the west :
There is no doubt that Nigeria as a country is in dire need of sterling leadership to steer the course of affairs.
The same can be said of Kogi State. It was a promising state with all the potentials of greatness sitting pretty on abundance and strategically, connecting almost all the regions of the country.
All these can be harnessed for greatness by a forward looking and urbane leader who understands what the needs of the people are. There is no doubt that the state is in need of a leader. As the search for a leader who reflects the aspirations of the people gathers momentum, one name has resonated through the entire state.
The unassuming Babatunde Irukera is the head of a government agency saddled with the responsibility of ensuring healthy competition among producers, encouraging entrepreneurship and protecting the interests of the consumer.
He has, over the years, built a solid background for himself as a people’s man in legal practice, home and abroad. His love for equality and equity, even at costs to himself has earned him a wide network of admirers, supporters and followers that cut across the elite and the masses.
As the digital age inevitably becomes a stark reality, the state, like any other state in Nigeria and the world, needs a leader that has emotional intelligence, unfeigned humanity, urbane approach to public issues, statewide acceptability and readiness to sit down and work.
All these are not in doubt, considering how his profile has risen since his days as a private legal practitioner and at the government agency. His tenure so far has been devoid of controversy.
The contentious issue of religion would not be any problem with this great man because he has shown incredible ability to deal in equal measures with people of various religious leanings.
It is my belief that such a man would be a great instrument of unity and speedy development of the State. Therefore, instead of all the names being thrown up here and there, we should all rally the support for who is who in Kogi west for him. This is to enable us to be taken seriously by the people of Kogi Central and Kogi East.
It is on the strength of the above that I am making a passionate appeal that in the spirit of fairness, we all need to throw our weights behind the people of Kogi West to produce the next governor of the state. This is because the people of Kogi East have served out their tenure and Kogi Central are on the verge of serving out their own tenure.
We will all agree that there is a need to create a balance among the components of the state.
God bless Kogi State.
TY Danjuma And Nigeria’s Present And Future (1), by Hassan Gimba
Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, former Chief of Army Staff, former minister of defence, better known as TY Danjuma or TY for short, is not an unknown face to Nigerians.
However, whatever one’s views of TY, what cannot be denied him is his patriotism and nationalism. TY fought to keep Nigeria one. He also leaves no one in doubt that he will do so again. And again. He believes in one Nigeria and all his adult life he has worked to protect the country’s sovereignty, working for its greatness all the time.
To be honest, there is nothing that has not been written or said about him just as there is no recognition that he has not gotten or honour not conferred on him. As of now, he is about the most decorated Nigerian alive. His accolades have not been chiefly down to his fabulous wealth. No, not at all. After all, there are scores of Nigerians who are richer than him, yet they have not been half as recognised.
For instance, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 2003 organised a special convocation to confer on him an Honourary Doctor of Science. The university’s visitor, then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, described him as his “hero and mentor”, saying he was “one of the most illustrious sons of our nation”.
For the former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who chaired the occasion, no single Nigerian has contributed to the development of education in the country more than TY. The chancellor of the university, the Sultan of Sokoto, HRH Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, in his remarks eulogised the award recipient as “a detribalised Nigerian who has transformed the lives of a significant number of people in the society.”
But Nigeria is now in perilous times that it needs the voice of people like TY Danjuma. Oh, his voice rankles those who do not want the truth, for sure. People blinded by sentiment never accept the truth from blunt, say-it-as-it-is patriots. In 2018, there was an outcry from mostly northern Muslims over his call on people to “rise and defend themselves against killers”. He made the call on March 24 that year, at the maiden convocation ceremony of Taraba State University in Jalingo, the state capital.
On April 2, in a write-up titled 2019 Election Timetable, TY Danjuma and Other Matters, I wrote: “This brings me to General T.Y. Danjuma and his call on people to defend themselves. Unfortunate as it is, especially coming from a personality no less than him, we should look deeply and dispassionately at the comments and situate them within the context of Nigeria’s current state.
“We also, side by side, have to keep in mind that it was Danjuma, once described by President Muhammadu Buhari as a soldier’s soldier, who, at the risk of his life or career, or both, led a northern revolt against General Aguyi Ironsi. Then the North believed, rightly or wrongly, that he was complicit in the killing of its leaders in the January 1966 coup. But then, the North had not been balkanised by its leaders into Muslim, Christian, Hausa-Fulani and the rest as it has now been by this crop of opportunistic, parasitic, self-serving, thieving and greedy so-called leaders.
“He fought to keep Nigeria one. He and the late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua were also there breathing down Obasanjo’s neck to keep faith with the 1979 return to democratic governance. And it was to a Northern Fulani Muslim the baton of governance was handed.
“In both major situations, Danjuma played pivotal roles for the North. He could have scuttled the 1979 hand over, but he didn’t. In all these cases he saw himself as a Nigerian and a Northerner. He is also believed to be one of Buhari’s staunchest financial and moral supporters throughout his various presidential candidacies when latter-day Buharists, who see nothing wrong in him now, were political foot soldiers elsewhere.
“Danjuma contributed at least $10m in 2014 for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Boko Haram-ravaged North East and is still contributing hugely to that cause through the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI) while those now desperate to label him ‘barawo’ and their paymasters cannot be counted among those who have helped their suffering brothers in the North East in any material way, save, perhaps, in releasing insurgents in the name of “deradicalisation”.
“Yet, his comment is akin to giving up so late in his life of service to fatherland. So, what has happened to Nigeria now to warrant him losing faith in it – just like that? The Nigeria he fought for and served for almost all his life? This is what we must ask ourselves and answer dispassionately.
“Since the appearance of Boko Haram in the North East some ten years ago, I ask if there is anyone that, even if once, in the deepest recesses of his mind, has not thought of taking measures for self-defence? Why did we not fault Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of Kano when he made the call on people to defend themselves? Was there no time that (some) Northern Muslim elders accused President Goodluck Jonathan of collaborating with the army to kill Northerners and reduce their voting population?
“Right now across our country, are people not feeling a heightened need to arm themselves for self-defence against armed robbers, kidnappers and bandits? That people had not done so is because they knew it was against the laws of the land but not because they believed they were secure enough. But people are frustrated and many would not dare to voice their frustrations publicly.
The Emir of Anka, in Zamfara State, Alhaji Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad, in tears, just called on the United Nations and the African Union to come to the aid of his people who are being killed like chickens almost daily. Yet Nigeria is a sovereign state.
“Let there be the rule of law and respect for human life. Government and its officials must abide by the laws. No one should be allowed to be above the law. People should not see government as vengeful or regarding courts and their judgments with disdain. People become law abiding when they see their government and its agents abiding by the laws of the land.
A lot of wrongs have been done. A lot is being done, yet there is no justice for victims, neither are culprits seen to be punished as the law stipulates. We have not addressed a lot of extra-judicial killings and plain murders. We always move on as if we are a country of people with short memories.
“Let there be justice in the land. Let a criminal know he can’t kill, maim and abduct and go scot-free. Let those who should secure the citizens and those who should dispense justice know that they can’t be lax or collude with undesirable elements and go free or remain in their duty posts. Let a victim know that the state will always give him justice fast and in full measure.
“When the above is obtainable in society, definitely people like Citizen Danjuma won’t be making such comments. And if he does, no one will take him seriously.”
Someone who calls on people to defend themselves will know how to advise the government to protect the citizenry. Again, someone who has done more than anyone in the promotion of education will know how to resuscitate the education sector.
It is not while in service but in retirement that you know who is great and who shouldn’t be taken too seriously. He who lives a life of service to humanity in retirement should be the one to be trusted with the welfare of the people. And this is the life of TY Danjuma since retiring from active service in 1979.
Even though on a smaller scale and spread, being a non-governmental organisation, we can see that the TY Danjuma Foundation, established in 2009, has virtually taken over from where the Petroleum Trust Fund stopped.
Now that Boko Haram and its cousins – bandits, kidnappers and killer herdsmen – have shut down schools, making parents feel it is safer to keep their children at home than send them to school, Nigeria needs more of TY Danjuma as we will subsequently come to see.
Lest I Forget!
Why Are They Not Performing Umrah?
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told us that if one performs Umrah during the month of Ramadan, it is as if he does Hajj with him. But he who feeds the needy during Ramadan will enter paradise together with him.
Hitherto our big men preferred to attend Hajj with the prophet than enter paradise with him.
This time around they were all forced to stay at home because in Saudi Arabia, they have scientific ways of knowing those injected with COVID-19 vaccines and they would turn those not injected back. To avoid being found out, they stayed back. Very embarrassing for the world to know it was just a ruse; their followers were just deceived.
Religion Must Not Divide Nigeria Under Our Watch By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada
African Continent is the center of modern civilization (Egypt) yet many Africans often mistake westernization as civilization meanwhile, they are never in tandem.
To buttress the least, Africans are not slaves, Africans are not weak, Africans are not wicked. Our ancestors had a well evolved culture and religion now tagged African Traditional Religion (ATR) before the incursion of the colonialists who veiled their intentions using religion as bait of conquest.
In other words, religion was forcefully imposed on many communities and nations in Africa. Take for instance, the Sokoto Jihad (1804 – 1810) which was ably inspired by Usman Dan Fodio of everlasting memories. Christianity on the other hand snookered into the shores of Nigeria by early merchants disguised as missionaries. These religion imposed by early traders, tourists, travellers and later slave merchants are not indigenous to Africa and it is pathetic to note that the Siamese religion is fast dividing the United Peoples of African descent in the 21st century.
Why do we allow a borrowed religion to influence divisive tendencies?
Did ATR ever instigated brethren against each other?
What do we stand to gain when Nigeria is crushed under our watch?
Is this the Nigeria of our dreams?
Who are the terrorists and who are their sponsors?
What is causing the growing spate of kidnapping, banditry, insurgency and numerous calls for secession?
It is pathetic that as citizens, we are buried in the shallow graveyards of religious sentiments (directly or indirectly) and the overwhelming impact of modern day preachings circumvented via religious centers is affecting the sensibilities of worshippers thereby hunting sincere inclinations of peaceful coexistence amongst brothers from different mothers. Therefore, until the day Emeka stop evaluating Lawal and Adebayo under myopic lens summarized as a different citizen of Nigeria as a result of religious difference and indifference, the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. This is not a baseless assumption because current trends in the country is painting a bigger picture we are all striving to understand.
At the moment, we have few citizens of goodwill who are always on standby to make NIGERIA a better place by showcasing the real ideals of philanthropy without sentimental attachments to religion, ethnicity or class. Sadly, these class of detribalized Nigerians are haunted in broad daylights by evil gamblers of greed suffocating good intentions of the former. It is imperative that these men of goodwill should not be allowed to be beaten by the bug of sentimental approach which is detrimental and a clog in the wheels of development, peace and progress.
It is time to change the narratives by inculcating passionate tenets and mannerisms especially in the mindset of the newer generations whose reasoning style and state of mind can still be rated as tabular rasa. Pupils should be thought from kindergarten classes that all Nigerians are one united people irrespective of religion, culture and geographical placements. This is also a wake-up call to the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and other sister organizations.
Conclusively, present day political culture in Nigeria should be trashed as a matter of urgency. Leaders should not be elected and recycled in Nigeria based on religious affiliations or regional consideration. The format should not align on the basis of a Muslim should rule after the tenure of a Christian or viceversa. If truly we are sincere and humane and ready to practice honest politics of political power rotation, then subscribers of African Traditional Religion should also feature in the rotational process.
I attended a Unity School where everyone is equal before God and man. All thanks to General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) who envisioned the glorious need for all Nigerians to come together despite passing through the corridors of a Civil War (1967–70) that could not break the country however, shadows of Biafran insurrection is still in vogue and it takes the refined idiosyncracy of a tough leader to crush varying agitations lingering in the country. To curb these menace, no sacred cow should be permitted to roam around romancing with terrorists, spew all sorts of hate speech yet he or she is free as a bird perhaps pardoned by religious supremacy / mutual understanding.
Furthermore, allocating school admissions and employment slots on the margins of religion should be scrapped. This should be based on merits not religious calculations captioned as connection, grace or miracle. So many intelligent citizens are roaming the streets depressed because of systematic defects of illicit practices which is not even constitutional yet inherently operational in Nigeria against all odds. If ATR which is indigenous to Nigeria and Africa cannot divide us, we should not allowed any borrowed religion that filtered in from another Continent to cause us more harm than good.
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