Over the weekend, convener of #RevolutionNow movement and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore and the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Edward Onoja, were involved in a social media war of words.
Edward’s daughter was recently admitted into the prestigious Nile University as a student. ( I have to put that student there to avoid Nigerians asking me whether she was admitted as a patient or a security agent).
An elated Edward Onoja took to his Twitter handle to wish his beloved daughter God speed ( whatever that means. You know in the Federal Religious Republic of Nigeria, we can coin anything to make our religiosity appear top notch. It is almost another kind of sin to not be religious in my country.)
I don’t think Edward did anything wrong by taking his daughter to school, taking photographs with her and wishing her success.
Omoyele Sowore also added a voice to the many congratulatory comments pouring in for the Onojas as a well wisher. In his prayers, he wished Edward’s daughter what a parent would naturally wish a beloved child.
But that obviously didn’t go down well with our darling deputy. He could not hold his emotions and consternation. What followed was a litany on invective. What is in Sowore’s prayer?
He prayed that the child;
1. May graduate and get a job.
2. May not be owed salaries when eventually employed.
3. May not be denied her pension after retirement.
Personally, I do not see anything wrong with this prayer. I do not think that any Nigerian would find fault with it. After all, Nigeria is the most religious in the world. The deputy governor himself goes to church. He has, on several occasions, demonstrated his sublime love for God by dedicating all his success to Him. So why the vituperation?
I would tell you why. Omoyele seemed to have touched the very truth through that cynical prayer. He squarely addressed the problems of Kogi State. The first truth glaring at Edward in the face is the total neglect of education in Kogi State. From primary to university education in Kogi State, it is a tale of deprivation and neglect. The Kogi state University is the worst, and is being referred to as a glorified secondary school by mockers. I personally spoke to a professor from the school. The erudite man complained of being owed salaries and even the current ones are paid at the discretion of the government. A lot of professors are abandoning the school for acolytes of the government.
The dream of the founder of the school, Prince Abubakar Audu , to be a world class institution and also affordable to the less privileged has been washed down the drain by a government in which Edward is a key player. The school now ranks 89th in Nigeria and 10477th in the world. A shameful reversal of fortune for a school which hasn’t lasted up to 30 years.
At the moment, the school fees have more than tripled for new and old students. For new students who are from the state, the school fees range between N57,000 and N68,000, while for those who are not from Kogi State it ranges from approximately N100,000 to N150,000.
Before you say it is still normal, please consider that in that state, many people are owed salaries. The said salaries are anything from N30,000 to N100,000, of which percentages are paid reluctantly by the government when they feel like.
These salaries are earned by only about less than 30% of Kogi’s 3.4 million strong population. The remaining over 70% are farmers, who struggle with the stubborn soil to eke out a living. These are men and women who believe that their children would one day put smiles on their faces when they are out of school.
The university education is being pushed out of their reach by means of the increased fees. Their parents, those who are lucky to work in government are not paid salaries and the school fees are not affordable.
We haven’t talked about primary and secondary education. The teachers are owed multiple salaries, and are forced back into the farms. They come to school when they are free. There is no government presence in the villages. The parent-teacher associations of most village and suburban schools have decided to find a way around the problem. They have resorted to employing secondary school leavers and other volunteers to teach in those secondary and primary schools under the title of PTA teachers. Their responsibility is on the association which pays them anything from N2,000 to N10,000 monthly.
Pray, what kind of service would anyone expect from such a situation? The first problem is that they are not qualified to teach. So, they would end up churning out half baked students and continue a circle of mediocrity. When their products get to the university, they are behind their peers on many fronts.
Secondly, a man who is receiving that kind of wage is not happy. What can N10,000 buy in today’s Nigeria? They too would look for alternatives that would better their living standard.
The story of Kogi state is a litany of woes. Edward should have simply said Amen to Sowore’s prayer instead of trying to put up a face saving argument that didn’t even come close to address the subtle indictment.
He stated that Sowore should have kept family out of politics. I want to ask Edward a simple question. Is it not politics that made his family the second family in Kogi state? The children they employ as thugs in Kogi state to run their political races for them are also people’s children.
They education system that has died in their hands are to breed good and responsible children. How can you destroy the future of other people’s children and be angry that yours was mentioned? Are some children more children than others?
Lastly, the kinds of words and angry vituperation that oozed from his response to Sowore are totally unbecoming of a man of his class.
They are so vitriolic and completely lacking in substance. It shows one thing. That the man and his boss do not brook any other opinion that does not serve their interests. They want to be praised, worshipped and called ‘Excelon..’, whatever that means.
What is good for the goose is good for the gender. That’s what Sowore has implied. Edward had better sit down and provide the answer. He should stop those use of grammar that say nothing to us.
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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