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Yahaya Bello: The Ugly Face of APC

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ENI-B BY ENIOLA BELLO [email protected]

For several weeks now, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has been running a daily front page strip advertisement, in at least four newspapers, which are, on the surface, a campaign for new membership for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in his capacity as Chairman, APC Youths, Women and PLWDS Mobilisation Committee.

Looking closely, however, the daily strip front page advertisement with one bold message, “Join Africa’s Largest Political Party”, is simply Bello’s drive for cheap visibility in pursuit of his much-trumpeted ambition to take over from President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

Since the beginning of the year, some members of Bello’s cabinet, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Folashade Ayoade and Information Commissioner Kingsley Fanwo in the forefront, have enjoyed listening to their own voices, granting interviews, addressing press conferences, and organising marches all for Bello 2023 Presidency.

The Matthew Kolawole-led Kogi Assembly even visited their counterparts in Sokoto to drum support for Governor Bello. The Kogi governor has also played host to all manner of youth groups pledging support for his ambition and honouring him with some funny awards. Some ex-Super Eagles players, with Jay Jay Okocha in the forefront, packaged the latest of such awards, ‘The Captain and Pillar of Nigerian Youths’.

There can be no doubt that Bello is the one engineering all those, to use a local parlance, ‘arrangee’ awards from the motley crowd of youth groups bombarding Lugard House, Lokoja. There can be no question that the Kogi governor is the one pulling the strings for the factotums in his cabinet, and the Kogi Assembly, to be running everywhere and nowhere in the name of pushing Bello’s 2023 presidential bid. It is also a no-brainer that the APC cannot be paying for those daily front page strip advertisements displaying Bello, grinning from ear to ear, dressed as Ebira (he is one), Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, etc., when he is neither the party’s national chairman nor its presidential candidate, yet. It is only logical to therefore conclude that Bello’s drive for cheap visibility is an expensive burden on the people of Kogi State as the funding of those daily advertisements and the ‘arrangee’ awards and the marches and the state legislators’ jamboree to Sokoto could only have come from the meagre resources of the state, directly or indirectly.

The curious thing is that those waving the banner of Bello’s suitability for the 2023 presidential election do not have any verifiable concrete record of achievement with which to sell him. They only talk about the fact he is young, as if youth and vision cannot be mutually exclusive. They have so far failed to anchor Bello’s suitability for the presidency, post-Buhari, on the peg of any high-performance indicators as governor of Kogi State in the last six years or thereabouts. Indeed, Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who led the APC’s 2019 re-election campaign for the Kogi governor, unable to wave the banner of something concrete Bello had done in four years, had to dramatically kneel on the campaign podium to plead with voters for forgiveness and understanding. Even at that, Bello’s supporters celebrated his re-election victory with a song enveloped in a chorus of ta-ta-ta-ta, an onomatopoeic sound of the heavy gunshot-induced violence and bloodshed and killings from which he procured his second term.

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Bello’s notoriety for his re-election victory is only surpassed by his ill-informed response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the global response to the pandemic early last year, he has, consistently cast doubt on the existence of COVID-19, insisted that there were no infections in Kogi State, frustrated officials of the NCDC (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control) from operating in the state, supplanted science with his opinion, dismissed the necessity for vaccination, and has refused to wear face mask, except of course when he has to visit the State House, Abuja for his regular photo ops with President Buhari. The Kogi governor has in the last one year made some dense statements on the global management of the pandemic that would have been laughable were the responsibility of his office not made them so tragic.

Permit me to recall a few of his statements. “Nothing kills faster than fear”, Bello told mourners June last year at the three-day prayers in Lokoja for the late Kogi State Chief Judge Nasiru Ajanah, adding, “COVID-19 is only out to create fear, panic, pandemic. It is a disease created to shorten the lifespan of the people. It is a disease propagated by force for Nigerians to accept”. He insisted that Ajanah, who had days earlier been buried in Abuja in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, did not die from coronavirus as Kogi is free of the pandemic. “In Kogi, we say we have no COVID-19, and actually we have no COVID-19”, he affirmed at another forum late December last year as if those resident in that state breathe a different air from other Nigerians. And in a viral video January 19 this year, he claimed, without referring to any scientific authority, that COVID-19 vaccines were being produced to kill the people. “Vaccines are being produced in less than a year of COVID-19… They want to use the vaccines to

So embarrassed were his brother governors that the NGF (Nigerian Governors’ Forum) had to quickly disavow Bello’s statement. Forum Chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi had to dismiss any fears of division among the governors in their handling of the pandemic. “We have 35 governors on one side. Only one of us has a divergent opinion”, he had told an interviewer. Without mentioning the name of the particular state governor who had opted to walk alone, Fayemi listed a few burdens that leadership imposes in a time as this. According to him, “It is very unfortunate to say that the pandemic doesn’t exist. As democracy demands we can hold our views, but as leaders the welfare of our people should be paramount to us… For whatever reason, we shouldn’t mislead our people and if we do, we must hold ourselves vicariously responsible if they become careless on account of (their) belief in us as thought leaders and influential opinion moulders. Some are even saying the vaccines are to eliminate Africans. It is just unfortunate… I can tell you without any shadow of doubt that we don’t follow opinions, we follow science.”

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Bello may not have grasped the import of Fayemi’s statement having lately become excitable and distracted with mobilising new members for the APC and making himself a self-appointed negotiator (on behalf of nobody) the lifting of the food blockade on the south by northern traders. However, every line of what Fayemi said boldly paints the image, character and essence of the Bello administration. I will limit myself to two leadership burdens that Fayemi mentioned in that interview for which Bello would be at sea.

One, Fayemi said “… as leaders, the welfare of the people should be paramount to us…” From his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is doubtful if the Kogi State governor knows what it is to govern with the welfare of the people at heart. If he did, he would have sought the advice of his commissioner for health and other health professionals in his government before dismissing the deadly impact of COVID-19, or making the ignorant claim that Kogi is free of the pandemic, or alleging that the vaccines were being produced to kill the people. Whatever may be his personal view on the pandemic, his decision, as governor, impacts on the welfare of millions of Kogi residents. His leadership position therefore imposes on him the burden of making decisions after consultations with professionals and experts, after a review of scientific authorities, and after an examination of national policy within the context of global best practice.

It is dangerous to make policy pronouncements, especially on matters of public health, on the whims of an individual whatever office he may occupy. Leaders, who like Bello, dress their personal views as policy pronouncements would only lead their people down a blind alley. Such leaders are dangerous. Bello may, however, not understand this on account of an arrogance wrapped in ignorance, his vanity and vacuousness, and his delusional pretence to statesmanship. Were he not completely lost, he would not have belittled the on-going COVID-19 vaccination exercise that has just taken off in the country. “COVID-19 is not our business in Kogi State… I am not going to subject the people of Kogi State to vaccines or vaccination and I will not make them the guinea pigs. I as a person, I don’t need to take vaccines… I am 100 per cent healthy”, he was quoted on a television programme over the weekend.

Two, Fayemi said leaders also have a burden not to mislead their people. It seems Governor Bello’s singular communication strategy has been to mislead the people of Kogi State. He has been able to do this because he’s always surrounded himself with political minions (save his latest Policy Strategist, Dr Ronke Bello) who are all too contented to ape his every word. In fact, mislead does not adequately describe his situation. Like Macbeth’s Shakespearian witches, he lies like truth. When early February, the National Incident Manager of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Mukhtar Mohammed, listed Kogi as one of the high-risk states to visit because the state has neither testing nor isolation facilities, the government took an eight-page advertorial in The Nation to denounce the PTF with misleading messages. Signed by SSG Ayoade, the Kogi government claimed, without fear and without proof, that it distributed free face masks “to her citizens”, purchased rapid test kits with which it carried out thousands of tests “on her citizens”, and has “standard and fully equipped isolation centres in strategic locations” in the state.

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These are false claims. How could a governor who does not personally wear face mask nor think it is necessary to so do approve the procurement of free face masks for his people? How could a governor who had frustrated officials of NCDC from carrying out COVID-19 tests in the state have purchased test kits for the same purpose? How could a government which is perceived to have recruited touts to ransack the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Lokoja for admitting a COVID-19 patient have invested in fully equipped isolation centres? Where are those isolation centres located in the state? Could Bello have done all this without making a song and dance of it in the media? The fact is hospitals in the state do not even disclose they have patients on admission for COVID-19 for fear of getting the FMC Lokoja treatment.

The Kogi government stated in the same advertorial that “COVID-19 is less fatal than catarrh in more than 96% of cases”. Nothing could be more criminally misleading. There is no medical authority that says catarrh is fatal. The British NHS (National Health Service) in one of its advisories, says catarrh may be chronic when people experience it for months or years. Even at that, the NHS affirms, “Catarrh can be a nuisance and may be difficult to get rid of, but it’s not harmful and there are treatments available.”

It is therefore strange that a governor who, with his utterances and actions on the management of COVID-19, has consistently embarrassed the ruling party could be appointed to chair a committee to drive new membership. With the Kogi governor’s shenanigans, why should anyone desirous of a better country take the APC serious? If Bello is the face of the new APC in the making, his is an ugly one. That he would even contemplate contesting the presidential election in 2023 speaks to how low his “political father” has reduced Nigeria.

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Religion Must Not Divide Nigeria Under Our Watch By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada

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African Continent is the center of modern civilization (Egypt) yet many Africans often mistake westernization as civilization meanwhile, they are never in tandem.

Many eurocentric researchers are living in solitary immersion of subjective thoughts because they prefer reading stories of Africa authored and doctored by White imperialist without any sense of remorse while trashing the rich cultural ethics of oral tradition and various traditions of origin.

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.

It should also be recalled that in areas where annexation by the Whites was rejected, so many rebellion and war of conquests was fought.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Contractor’ Mbaka Should Reap Where He Sowed

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“Man has an incurable habit of not fulfilling the prophecies of his fellow men.”-Alistair Cooke

 

Had he read this quote from Alistair Cooke, a British American journalist, Rev.

Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka would have been circumspect about his “I saw it coming” winning predictions for Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and Hope Uzodinma in 2020. Circumspection would have saved the popular priest the national embarrassment he is facing over his right to comment on the President’s poor performance in office.

If you are a current affairs commenter and something concerning your faith crops up and is trending, you need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to attend to it judiciously to avoid bias or poor judgment. Politicians may not care about taking unpopular positions on issues so long as their political interests are served.

Not so for the writer who is conscious of the demands of public interest and his duty to speak truth to power in the public space.

In various ways, Father Mbaka of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN), has taken the Catholic Church to its high and low points. Easily, his ministry is the most popular. He has also dragged the church into needless political controversies. If you are expecting me to tongue-lash Father Mbaka for allegedly soliciting contracts from the government he had helped to install, so to say, you will be sorely disappointed. As a Nigerian, Fr. Mbaka has not done anything unexpected or unusual trying to reap where he sowed.

No crime committed even before God who, so the Bible says, has ordained seed sowing and harvest time for as long the earth remains. Even the Canon law is not against that. The people who denied him compensation for his support of Buhari should have issues with their conscience. Much of the restiveness across the country today is traceable to the useand- dump practice in our polity which Buhari took to the next level.

If with all his encumbrances, Sheikh Isa Ali Pantami, who contributed little compared to Mbaka in making Buhari President in 2015, is a full cabinet minister, what is wrong with Father Mbaka getting a contract? If Mbaka had come from the North or been connected to the Caliphs and took such a high risk to support a President his followers didn’t want, he would have been asked to nominate ministers and others for appointments. The Presidency even had to plead for the forgiveness of Pantami ignoring the advisory that is suited for his likes from Syed Ata Husain, an Indian General, that “forgiving a terrorist is left to God, but fixing the appointment with God is the soldier’s responsibility.”

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Buhari and his henchmen knew of the massive collateral loss suffered by Mbaka for the President’s sake. Besides threatening his priesthood, Mbaka’s open declaration for Buhari in an enclave that denied him 97 percent vote cost the cleric a flourishing business.

Soon after declaring his Buhari support, Aqua Rapha that was the prime table water in the market in the South East and beyond suffered unprecedented rejection from consumers. It’s people like Mbaka who deserve to be given FG contracts. He would have delivered contract jobs and gone further to use the proceeds to feed the thousands of poor people on his payroll, as a scholarship and other acts of charity.

He is one of the biggest single employers of labour in Enugu State, the base of AMENl. He just conand secrated a church he single handedly built in his village. Mbaka and his Adoration Ministry can afford more than one private jet but he is not even eyeing one because he is on the side of the poor. He is easily the most hard-working Catholic priest in the South-East if not Nigeria.

It is worthy of note that Fr Mbaka does not deserve any accolade for going the wrong way outside his very successful mission in the priesthood. One had expected him to openly apologize to his followers for supporting Buhari and for dragging the name of the Holy Spirit around as his guide.

He should just have withdrawn his support for Buhari, going further to ask him to resign or be impeached was politicking which was bound to attract reprisals from the President’s attack dogs. He should have seen it coming. A Wada Nas of Abacha era would have done worse than Garba Shehu. Why the Catholic Church advises priests to refrain from partisan politics is because of the impracticability of serving God and mammon at the same time without getting bruised. When a child is restive and attracted to fire and breaks its mother’s restraint, it may be necessary to allow the child to have a brief feel of burning fire. If seeing is not believing, feeling is it.

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Mbaka knows better today. In 1992, the Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu of the blessed memory emerged as a gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) and even won the election as governor in Benue State against the advisory of the Catholic Church. Like Fr. Mbaka, Adasu got the feel of dining with the devil and realized that even a long spoon was not enough safeguard.

People who are furious about Fr. Mbaka’s botched political outing with Buhari have even suggested his defrocking from the priesthood. But such people do not understand the Catholic Church. Nobody, not even the Church’s alter-ego, the Pope, can by his attitude affect the Catholic Church fundamentally to warrant a rash action to satisfy the often sentimental public.

When Jesus tells Peter, “On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it,” the Catholic Church symbolizes it with Pope Francis as the 266th in the papal seat of St Peter. Also, when Gamaliel told Jewish leaders trying to halt the initial Apostles to leave them alone that if what they do is not of God it will crumble like the others in history they heeded his advisory and it worked.

When Fr Mbaka’s controversial prophecy on Buhari and Hope Uzodinma was generating heat, Nigerians wanted the Church to act on him but it would not, believing that if it’s not of God, the truth will come out. Where are we today? The same Mbaka, a Buhari and Uzodinma protagonist yesterday, is today among the growing club of their antagonists the extent that his behind-the-scenes deal with the ‘devil’ is being exposed!

What makes the Catholic Church tick is the priesthood, when you are trained and found worthy of priesthood in the line of Melchizedek, you must have been set aside. And that is what Fr. Mbaka is in a very special way and may remain so until the end of his time. During his political battle with once dreaded Governor Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State, Mbaka said the bible in his car wedged the bullet aimed at him by the reigning dragons of the time and nobody doubted him. Even his traducers are still in shock. Though a Catholic, I am not a fan of Fr. Mbaka, but I cannot allow him to pass by me without blessing me because I know who is an anointed man of God.

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A number of my relatives are his buffs. They call themselves ‘umu ikuku’, Igbo for ‘children of the wind who cannot be caught by an evil spirit’. You cannot enter into an argument with Fr. Mbaka Adoration member (umu ikuku) concerning their idol and win.

He is their special Daddy on earth. Imagine the commotion in Enugu yesterday when they could not find their Daddy at the Adoration ground, the Bishop was forced to release him from the so called ‘protective custody’ On a very solemn note, my senior sister Caroline Abonyi passed on in an accident in 2013 while rushing to travel to Enugu from the village for Fr. Mbaka’s adoration. Those who came to console the family when she died said to us that her spirit must have gone to that adoration ground from where it was lifted to heaven and now resting with the angels.

Who am I to doubt as a Catholic and believer in the resurrection, especially knowing the kind of selfless life she lived while on earth. The fundamental thing in all the Fr. Mbaka brouhaha is the evidently poor performance of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially as it relates to insecurity in the nation.

If Buhari was doing well in the delivery of democracy dividends which securing life and property are key as enshrined in Section 14, subsection 2b, of the constitution, “the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary purpose of government”, Fr. Mbaka may not have made his U-turn. Nobody wants to be inside a sinking ship if he can jump out and that was what the fiery priest did. The issue of a contract is intended as a distraction. Fr. Mbaka’s goodwill may have been diminished for being where he shouldn’t be but the image of the church is intact. Huge lesson for all not to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

God, help us.
Credit: Newstelegraph

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HOUSE OF REPS:Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala Who is next? (Olamaboro)

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In an ideal democracy, the rotational formula is very sacrosanct in other to protect the involvement of the minority in a country, State, Senatorial district, and federal constituency respectively.


Ankpa federal constituency in kogi state has been maintaining this rotational formula since the country returned to a Democratic system of government.
In 1999, honorable Abimaje Muazu from Ankpa local government was elected and happened to be the first rep member after the country returned to democracy.
In 2003, senator Attai Ali Aidoko from Olamaboro local government was elected and was still reelected in 2007 consecutively, after the completion of his second term in 2011, Hon Idris Muhammad Ibro from Omala local government was voted massively based on the principle of rotational method which the good and loving people of Ankpa federal constituency has been maintaining.

In 2015 Hon. Hassan Omale from Ankpa local government was elected, during this period, all the major political parties zoned their party tickets to Ankpa local government to enable them to produce the next house of rep member, it was then that distinguished Hon Hassan Omale of all progressive Congress (APC) emerged victoriously in the general election.
Hon Hassan Omale lost reelection but despite that APC, PDP and other major political parties still zone their party tickets to Ankpa to enable them to complete their second card, it was in that contest that honorable Halims won on the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC) who is currently the member representing Ankpa, Olamaboro and Omala federal constituency at the green Chamber. based on the historical background given thus far, Ankpa local government has ruled for 12 years leading above olamaboro and omala local government respectively since the returned to democracy.
Standing on the history given below it is now unmistakable that it is the turn of olamaboro local government to produce the next House of Representatives member in 2023 because olamaboro local government has never against the zoning formula and this has created love, conformity, and purposeful leadership among the three local governments that made up the federal constituency.
As the 2023 election draws nearer,we appeal to all the major parties in Ankpa federal constituency to zone their party tickets to Olamaboro local government to enable them to produce the House of Representative member to continue with the zoning strategy that has been in places to keep going if this zoning method is maintained there will be compassionate and again there won’t be any means of politics of one-sided or dominance but uniformity
Let us all termed with this reality for the refinement of our federal constituency.

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God bless Ankpa federal constituency.

God bless Kogi State.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Abutu Silas Ojochenemi

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