Suicide Rates Will Multiply in Nigeria.

By Bisi Odukoya

Good morning amiable and patriotic citizens of Nigeria. Iam sending this HARSH but TRUE message not because I have no compassion but the truth is bitter and must be told. Remember the popular article by Late Educational Sage, Tai Solarin “May your road be rough…..”.

Suicide rates is getting higher now not because times are hard, times were HARDER during the Biafran war.

The problem now is that

“ADULTS INCREASINGLY IMMATURED”.

“SOCIETY INCREASINGLY FRIVOLOUS”

“PEOPLE HAVE NO TRUE FRIENDS”

Friends now see themselves more as rivals. The race is measured by wealth and nothing else, thereby creating unnecessary competition. Set backs are mourned as wasted lives by those who should give love and genuine support. With all these, a troubled man becomes the butt of jokes by those in whom he has reposted his trust.

Calamities befall men and their friends shed tears in the morning and run them down at night. Adults are now children. The man can’t even tell his wife or partner ( if there is one) because he is sure she won’t understand. He has seen her divulge little details to her family. He has heard her eulogise wealth and curse set backs as abomination. She has a little merry heart.

The pastor / cleric can’t be trusted because he is given to flashy cars and worldly ambitions. He rates men by their earthly successes and wealth. He can’t be trusted because wealth he says is the ultimate blessing from God. Everyday he celebrates only the rich

So the troubled man walks around with his troubles in his heart, smiles at all the children masquerading as adults around him. One day, he will weigh it all over and say Noooooo. It’s enough.

True mature friends are now very scarce! Ore Otito, won han ju oju lo. Awon ore odale wa po bii rere.

“Iron sharpenth iron” may this forum help to achieve this everyday.

DEPRESSION

I have been worried about the man who jumped into the lagoon recently.

He allegedly asked his driver to pull over on the Mainland bridge in Lagos and jumped. The man is presumed dead.

According to Lagos State CP, he is survived by, at least, his mother.

Some points to immediately consider

1. Had a driver, he was not a wretched

2. Had a mother, not an old man.

3. Medical doctor, professional person

Yet, he was sufficiently troubled by something or some things enough to drive him over the edge. DEPRESSION

Similarly, another lady jumped over the Mazamaza Bridge in Amuwo Odofin Local Government of Lagos state very recently. These events need to stress to us that DEPRESSION IS REAL. Pay attention to your friends and family members.

Research has it that most of those who commit suicide gave hints. People around them just didn’t notice.

Has anybody ever said something like: “Ile aye su mi jare” (I am sick and tired of everything) and you dismissed it? Have you been close to someone who all of a sudden started withdrawing from people, brooding for long, started giving away things they treasured, stopped making plans?

Ask them pointedly if they are planning to commit suicide. You’d be surprised to learn how easy they will open up to you…because that’s the opening they need in order to seek help.

And you yourself, seek help. I know everybody is quick to refer you to a professional psychologist or psychiatrist. But in our society where you can’t even get help for malaria, how can you find such a professional? So, find a good friend…a good relative..a good neighbor…a good co-worker and talk to them.

Wake up Nigerian youths

By Muyiwa Olayinka

We brought this thing upon ourselves.

What have we done to deserve these?

We used our votes to remove a spineless government that could not fight corruption but was averaged on economy.

We voted in a government who promised to  crush boko haram and fight corruption.

It decimated boko haram no doubt but scratched the surface in fighting corruption

What do I mean by scratching the surface?

The government took on oppositon members and perceived enemies leaving its member to have a field day stealing our common patrimony.

Can we quickly forget how the Secretary of Government of the Federation (SGF) used N270 million to clear land for development?

While this was going on, the economy was left to degenerate into abysmal level making businesses and companies to  go moribund.

Unfortunately the leader of this government is ill despite denials from his aides. He had to be ferried abroad to attend to his illness.

During this period, his Vice President (VP) tried to revive the economy with a gusto his boss did not possess.

We were enjoying this temporary respite when the  cabal became jittery feeling that power was slipping away from their hands.

The principal had to be packaged home to maintain the balance of power and to show the doubtful minds where the power lies.

While power interplay was raging on, lull has come back to governance.

An ailing president has to slow down to manage his health while the acting President is forced to take a back seat and watch from the sidelines.

The active VP had been tamed.

The cabal are happy.

For little distractions to take our mind from our misery, the media is awashed of leaked memo of El Rufai to Mr President, Apostle Suleiman vs Otobo, Sani Shehu vs El rufai, Dino Melaye vs Sahara reporters. The drama continues.

Economy has been left to the dictates of market forces and the spin doctors.

National budget has not being passed to law, as I’m writing this article. but the national assembly is only interested in a political appointee of the President, who refused to wear the uniform of the organisation he leads.

Nigerians are wallowing in self pity and daily struggling under the weight of debilitating recession.

Why is our situation like this, one wonders

Have we offended the gods of the land?

We were promised change but we were careless not to ask if the change is progressive or regressive.

Unfortunately knowledgeable Nigerians and the elites are defending politicians along political leaning instead of calling a spade a spade.

When are we going to wake home from our taciturn and complacent attitudes?

When are we going to realise that we have been fleeced.

When are we going to take our country from these pretenders.

Other nations have fought against the system by liberating themselves from their parasitic leaders.

We gave these leaders our sovereignty to rule on our behalf. We can take back our sovereignty peacefully within the confines of the law.

The youths of Nigeria has to wake up from their slumber. I’m aware the opportunities for youths to thrive are shrinking every day.

Youths are looking for miracles. As a result they resort to self helps. Those who are criminally minded have joined the underworld, engage in vices like kidnapping, armed robbery, cult gangs or becoming political hatchet men for  dubious political leaders.

Those who still have family names to protect engage in Ponzi schemes like MMM, pool betting. Some spend quality time in endless argument on Premiership leagues, La liga or German leagues.

Don’t get me wrong football discussion is supposed to be a hobby or for past times but when it occupies rational minds, unchecked, it becomes unproductive.

There are no jobs everywhere, graduates are roaming the streets for non existent jobs. Workers are loosing jobs. There is a disconnect from the family system because once the bread winner looses his means of livelihood, the  family bears the brunt.

Hard times call for sober reflections. We should start thinking of how we got into this mess and ask if our leaders have been fair to us.

I’m not agitating for Biafra but I beleive in the spirit of Biafra.

I appreciate the tenacity of purpose of Nnamdi Kanu. He’s bold assertive and committed to his cause. But he is not asking  real questions. He’s agitating for the independent state of Biafra, instead of him to ask for the resources that has been collected on behalf of his people, by the political actors,  if it has been judiciously spent.

Kanu is from Abia state. Abia is one of the least development in the south eastern states since 1999.

I have met many Abians who are totally miffed and sad with the situation of their dear homeland.

We should ask Orji Kalu, a former governor of Abia what he did with the resources accrued, but practically ran the state aground with the help of his mother, who had no political appointment.

His successor fought tooth and nail to extricate himself from the strangle hold of his predecessor.

Orji Uzor Kalu, Professor Charles Soludo and Pat Utomi were among those that visited Nnamdi Kanu in Kuje prison in Abuja, where he’s standing trial in court.

I expected him to ask pertinent questions why Abia state is such in a parlous state.

They say charity begins at home.

What is the spirit of Biafra?

Demanding equality within the Nigeria context.

Demanding for true federalism

Federalism entails the wealth of the people to be managed by the people.

We are tired of a quasi federalism in which all our wealth is concentrated in Abuja, where the feudal lord will in his magnanimity disburse it as it pleases him.

We are tired of the concept of “Baboon dey work, monkey they chop”

This system that engenders prebendalism and inequality is evil and must be changed

We have to look for a workable system where the bakers of the national cake will not labour in vain but be a partaker.

We must join hands together and close ranks to fashion a way out of this master-slave relationship.

This why our youths should wake up from their slumber. We have to equip ourselves, educate and empower ourselves with incontrovertible facts and figures to challenge our leaders so as to wrestle our destinies from these buccaneer lords.

This is a wake up call  to all

Former President Obasanjo made one statement that made an impression on me. He said the generation before him fought for the independence of Nigeria, his generation fought for the unity of the country, what is our generation going to hold on, when we look back in future.

Are we going to fold our arms and say we were not given opportunity.

The kingdom of God suffers violence and only the violents take it by force.

This is food for thought.

Do Nigerians go on holiday?

By Sola Odunfa

Wherever the idea of formal holidays may have come from, it was definitely not Nigeria.

A holiday is a period when people completely take time off from work and relax to relieve themselves of stress – both physical and mental.

It is meant to be a time to recharge one’s batteries.

It can also be a time to indulge in travel – to see new places and cultures for pleasure.

It is usually taken annually and may last from a few days to a few weeks.

But for the average Nigerian, the business of living is too serious to afford such a luxury.

And for those who can splash out, soaking up culture is not often on the agenda.

I have taken so-called holidays several times.

I would pack one or two changes of clothes at the bottom of the suitcase, and then fill the rest with the tools of my trade – sound recorders and cassettes, microphones and notebooks.

For I would work afresh both to cover the travel cost and personal expenses and to indulge my family’s ever-expanding wardrobes, for which one or two extra suitcases would be purchased.

Of course when abroad, there is the daily round of Nigerian restaurants and pubs to visit and compare with the fare at home.

And then there are the shops.

I have holidayed in the UK several times but, please, don’t ask me about the Tower of London or the British Museum – I would have not visited them unless they stocked shoes or lace.

Every airliner out of Nigeria is fully booked during summer and in the months leading up to Christmas.

That is when those Nigerians that do “holiday” take their leave.

All the passengers travel light and they carry fat cheques.

Like me, I assure you they are not travelling to see Buckingham Palace or the Eifel Tower or the Statue of Liberty.

They are going shopping – and it is usually serious cash-backed shopping.

Our idea of a good holiday is when we return, to be able to deck your wife’s or girlfriend’s neck in new jewellery, wear new shoes and dresses and stock your living room with new electronic gadgets.

We may then take a few days off to rest from our shopping spree.

Two months ago, Nigerians could understand when President Muhammadu Buhari announced that he was going to London on vacation.

That was good for his relatives and friends.

But he lost us completely when he qualified his vacation with the word “medical”.

He may have wanted to have rest away from the constant calls on his time as head of state – a chance to properly recuperate.

But to us Nigerians, his spokesmen were being too clever by half. Who travels for rest?

For us the man was travelling abroad to seek medical treatment. Period.

Between Apostle Suleiman and Nasir El Rufai: Too Many Coincidences

By Reno Omokri

I am sure you have all heard about the accusations against a man of God, Apostle Suleman, by a Canada-based stripper who says she feels short-changed because Pastor Suleman reneged on his promise to marry her.

You may also have read the response of the Omega Fire Ministries of Apostle Suleman to these allegations.

Not that I agree or disagree with Omega Fire Ministries allegation that the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir Elrufai is behind Apostle Suleman’s accuser, but there are many coincidences and it begs questions.

Before I go into these coincidences, let me say that I know Malam Nasir Elrufai and he is one of the most intelligent persons you will have ever met but unlike, Nuhu Ribadu, another equally intelligent person, Elrufai’s intelligence is governed by ego rather than conscience.

I have never met a man as Machiavellian as Malam Nasir El-Rufai. In fact being Machiavellian is like a religion for him. If you want to know what this man is capable of, then read former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s book to learn how he allegedly savaged his own foster father. Former President Obasanjo wrote that he ‘shudders’ when he casts his mind back to what El-Rufai did to his own flesh and blood including his own blood brother and uncle!

It is not an easy thing to make a man like Obasanjo, who witnessed the Nigerian Civil War, with all its bestial brutality, to shudder.

This is how President Olusegun Obasanjo, El rufai’s boss of eight years described him in his book – My Watch Volume 2:

“Nasir’s penchant for reputation savaging is almost pathological. Why does he do it? He is brilliant and smart. I grant him that also. Very early in my interaction with him, I appreciated his talent and brilliance. At the same time, I recognised his weaknesses; the worst being his inability to be loyal to anybody or any issue consistently for long, but only to Nasir el-Rufai. He barefacedly lied which he did to me against his colleagues and so-called friends. I have heard of how he ruthlessly savaged the reputation of his uncle, a man who was like, in the African setting, his foster father. I shuddered when I heard the story of what he did to his half-brother in the Air Force who is senior to him in age.”

So, without further ado, let us consider the coincidences in the matter between Apostle Johnson Suleman and Malam Nasir El-Rufai and see if there are any merits in Omega Fire Ministries’ allegations.

On March 29, 2016, Apostle Johnson Suleman challenged Malam Nasir El rufai over his Preaching Licence Bill which he promoted in Kaduna State. On April 3, 2016, El rufai responded.

Shortly thereafter, Apostle Suleman revealed that he had got a security report that someone had arranged for Fulani herdsmen to kill him and make it seem like an accident. We know for a fact that killer Fulani herdsmen have killed the king of Ubulu Uku in Delta State, HRM Akaeze Edward Ofulue III. We also know that they had kidnapped the leader of Afenifere, Olu Falae. So no one can blame Apostle Suleman for taking the Security report seriously.

Around that time, in a Freudian slip (the work of God?) Malam Nasir Elrufai revealed to selected newsmen that he had traced Fulani herdsmen to a number of African nations and told them that “there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost and he is begging them to stop killing.” Please note that this is an exact quote from the mouth of Malam Nasir Elrufai.

What is Apostle Suleman being accused of? Sleeping with a known stripper. Okay, Malam Nasir El-Rufai tweeted on January 28, 2013 these exact words: “If Jesus criticises Jonathan’s government, Maku, Abati or Okupe will say that he slept with Mary Magdalene.” That tweet betrays a mindset. If a man can say this about Jesus who is our Lord and Saviour, one wonders what will happen to a mere mortal. Do not forget that Mary Magdalene herself had a past. In Apocryphal history she is recorded as a former prostitute.

So on January 28, 2013, El rufai tweeted that government critics can be accused of sleeping with prostitutes so as to discredit them and four years later, when he himself has returned to government, his own critic is now being accused of sleeping with a stripper. Can this be a coincidence?

Also, of all the states in Nigeria, why did the second faceless accuser, who spoke exclusively to Premium Times, ask for the protection of the Kaduna State government? Does Kaduna State have a reputation for peace or security? If you reading this want a secure and safe haven, would you choose Kaduna State? Why have foreign airlines refused to fly into Kaduna airport which is the designated alternative to Abuja’s temporarily closed Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport?

And then why would a government confirm such a thing to Premium Times?

Now Premium Times is the only news outlet that carried the story of the second anonymous accuser. Why is that? Premium Times is known to have a very strong link to Malam Nasir El-Rufai.

Musikilu Mojeed, the Managing Editor of Premium Times was until 2011 the Investigative Editor at Nigeria’s NEXT newspaper, a paper in which El-Rufai had very major interests in. Elrufai’s favourite news medium, Sahara Reporters cites him as an investor in NEXT.

The publisher and editor-in-chief of Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi, was also an editor at the now defunct NEXT.

Now, Premium Times, the successor newspaper to Next Newspaper, just happens to be the one and only paper that was able to make contact with this new faceless accuser who, like the Canada-based stripper, did not present a shred of evidence.

Premium Times was also able to get a ‘top official’ from the Kaduna State government to talk about the matter anonymously.

Another coincidence, on August 13, 2013, Festus Keyamo joined the All Progressives Congress. He immediately moved to contest the Delta Central senatorial by-election following the mysterious death of the lawmaker representing that Senatorial zone at the National Assembly, Senator Pius Ehwerido, but lost at the primary level to his opponent, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor.

Already, this indicates that Keyamo harbours a political ambition and sees the APC as the vehicle for which that ambition can be fulfilled. Within the APC, Malam Nasir Elrufai is seen as the Khalifa (successor to President Muhammadu Buhari) and the nation’s unofficial Vice President. His nick name in Kaduna is Magajin Buhari. For those who do not speak Hausa it means he is Buhari’s heir apparent.

Beginning from 2013 just before Keyamo declared for the APC, Elrufai began promoting Festus Keyamo on Social Media (check his Twitter TL).

Who is the lawyer for Apostle Suleman’s Canada-based stripper accuser? You guessed right – Festus Keyamo!

On March 10, 2017, Festus Keyamo’s law chambers released a statement stating that other “unfortunate victims” of his (Apostle Suleman) have come forward and are also itching to tell their story, with proofs.”

The next day, on March 11, 2017, the faceless accuser using the pseudonym ‘Queen Esther’ gave an interview to Premium Times alleging that Apostle Suleman had slept with her, but that just like the Canada-based stripper, she had lost all her evidence of the relationship after her phone was mysteriously wiped clean of its data! She thereafter sought the protection of El-Rufai’s Kaduna State Government!

She then gave another interview yesterday (Friday the 17th of March, 2017) with a slightly different story: she has evidence but the phone with the evidence is with a phone repairer.

So Keyamo’s chambers revealed that there were new accusers one day and the very next day, one of the new accusers just happens to connect with a paper with whom Elrufai is known to have very strong links!

Albert Einstein said that a “coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”. Ian Fleming, that great writer and creator of the James Bond character said, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

There are too many coincidences in this whole orchestrated tale that only the most gullible person will believe that there is no Machiavellian puppet master in the background manipulating events.

Look closely at the Canada-based stripper. This is a girl who gave an interview on March 10, 2017 threatening to expose all her evidence against Apostle Suleman only to give another interview on March 15, 2017, where she said ‘God will expose’ Apostle Suleman.

Can you imagine!! A stripper who is very good at exposing her body and who promised Nigerians she would expose Apostle Suleman now calls on God to do the exposition for her in her interview with Continental TV! And there will be gullible Nigerians who will still take this manipulator serious.

In 2003, Malam Nasir El-Rufai was nominated as a minister by then President Olusegun Obasanjo. He went for Senate screening and alleged that two Senators, Senators Ibrahim Nasir Mantu and Jonathan Silas Zwingina, had requested for a bribe before they would clear him.

Like the Canada-based stripper, El-Rufai promised to release evidence of his claims to an astounded nation. After Nigerians waited with bated breath for two weeks, El-Rufai gave another interview saying he had no evidence but that God was his witness! Sound familiar?

Last year, in the middle of one of the most divisive elections the world has ever seen, a girl accused then Candidate Donald Trump of rape but because she had no proof, Americans dismissed her. If Donald Trump had been a Nigerian, we would have celebrated such a girl!

Anyone who wants to speak up in defense of the Body of Christ and particularly against the killings of Christians by Fulani herdsmen, as Apostle Johnson Suleiman and I have done, must prepare for blackmail or leave the struggle!

Why? Because Christians, especially Southern Nigerian Christians, are so superficial in their Christianity that, with their own hands, they will pull down one of theirs on allegations without a shred of proof!

I admire the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. Look at how Muslims behaved when their spiritual leaders were accused in the Ese Oruru saga or when the Emir of Katsina (unbeknownst to many in the South, Emirs are spiritual not traditional rulers) was accused of abducting a Christian girl who was underage. With Muslims, even with proof, they stick to their leaders. With Christians, even without proof, they destroy their leaders! Have we forgotten what this same El-rufai said when the Nigerian Army conducted an operation to flush out killer Fulani herdsmen from Plateau State in 2012?

These were his exact words on July 15, 2012 in response to the Nigerian Army:

“We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes.”

If a man is willing to threaten an armed group like the Nigerian Army for going after killer Fulani herdsmen, then ask yourself what he would be willing to do to an unarmed clergyman like Apostle Suleman who speaks against Fulani herdsmen!

Connect the dots people, connect the dots!

During Jesus’s time on earth, He was falsely accused, without proof, of performing miracles by the power of beelzebub (satan). If some Nigerian Christians had been there when the Pharisees made that accusation, I am willing to stake my life that they would have believed the allegation against our Lord and Saviour!

In The Bible, Potiphar’s wife even had proof about her lies that Joseph tried to rape her, so Potiphar can be forgiven for believing her, but what proof does this stripper and self-confessed harlot have in relations to her allegations against Apostle Suleman? None. Absolutely nothing.

The only circumstantial evidence that could have corroborated her claims was the allegation that Apostle Johnson Suleman had gone to her parents for her introduction, yet when her father swiftly denied it, she changed her story and claimed that the introduction was done in the Apostle’s office.

Who does a marriage introduction with a married preacher in the married preacher’s office in a mega church where he is known as the sin-fighting founder?

If you believe that woman’s story and you are my friend in real life or social media, kindly delete yourself from my life because it means that if I am falsely accused in future, you WILL believe my accusers!

For some time now, we had stopped hearing about killings by Fulani herdsmen. In fact, we were seeing, for the first time, seemingly genuine and concrete action by the erstwhile Acting President, Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, to stem the tide of killings. But all of a sudden, the killings have started again after a brief hiatus. What recent event has emboldened these killer Fulani herdsmen? Are there no Nigerian elders that are bold enough to say the obvious?

Was Apostle Johnson Suleiman sleeping with Nollywood Actor, Leo Mezie, when he paid his entire medical bill of £60,000 for kidney transplant in the U.K.? This is what Sahara Reporters and Premium Times would not tell you!

Was apostle Suleman sleeping with the nine poor Nigerians (male and female) he gave cars to on February 5th, 2016? Was he sleeping with the 30 widows and other indigent people that he gave out millions to, to start their own businesses?

This is an exact quote from the Nollywood star, Leo Mezie, who gave this testimony last year, ever before the Jezebel stripper made her lying allegations: “I want to at this point thank Apostle Suleman Johnson for all what he did for me. I have never met him before; I took ill but as soon he heard the news, he contacted me and asked that we stopped all further public appeal for fund. He then took over all my medical bills, I mean every one of it throughout my stay in the UK. I did not lack anything. I thank God for using Apostle Suleman Johnson to save me from death.”

This is a man with a Christ-like mind who lives and loves to help people and you wicked souls who will not even spare a dime to help your own starving relations, how much more a stranger, come here to condemn him! And then you wonder why Nigeria has no helpers?

And if you think all I have written about El-Rufai is too far fetched, then consider the testimony of Olusegun Adeniyi, former editor of ThisDay and spokesman to the late President Umar Musa Yar’adua.

“On the way, Balat, himself a former minister in Obasanjo’s government, asked, ‘Segun, this cabal thing, were you really a member?’ Before I could respond, former Federal Capital Territory minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who played a prominent role in the campaign that eventually brought Jonathan to power, interjected, ‘There was no cabal, WE CREATED THE MYTH IN THE MEDIA TO NEUTRALIZE TURAI’” (Adeniyi, Segun. Power Politics And Death. pg. 272).

Finally, ask yourself why El-Rufai’s letter to President Buhari was only leaked after Apostle Suleman raised the alarm of his possible sponsorship of his stripper accuser?

Look at how the narrative has shifted from the trail of breadcrumbs behind the Canada based stripper to the memo. A classic media diversion strategy.

Hillary Clinton once boasted that “If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle.” What does Nasir Wl-Rufai do when he wants to change the headline? Leak a memo!

Buhari’s Return: Matters Arising

By Reuben Abati

As someone who has been in that corridor recently, I do not share the view of those who insist that President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent 50-day medical vacation was mismanaged by his handlers, up to this point. I said this much during a recent interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today with Seun Okinbaloye.

In the face of the people’s rising and insatiable expectations, it is often an uphill task to balance so many considerations in a country that is so divided on all fronts. The duty of the President’s handlers is to prevent such unnecessary news that could destabilize the polity, or create a national security crisis.

The President occupies the most important office in a democracy such as ours because the people look up to that office and its occupier for strength, inspiration and confidence. When a President suddenly takes ill, the implications for politics, power play and national security are far-reaching. I have already dealt with the manner in which this is so, in an earlier article online, titled “From London to Abuja in 50 days: Buhari’s return”.

What is the general complaint? It is this: that the nature and the seriousness of whatever ails the President is deliberately shielded from the public. This has resulted in a lot of speculations, and anxiety. A Professor of Medicine, Femi Williams, became so concerned he began to diagnose the President’s ailment by just looking at commonplace photographs. His latest contribution is that looking at the President since he arrived, he seems to be suffering from anaemia.

I don’t know what branch of medicine allows professional doctors to do diagnosis based on ordinary photographs, but Professor Williams’ interest in the matter reflects the manner in which the general populace is curious about the health of the President. This can also be traced to the President Umaru Yar’Adua experience, who died long after the Presidency had kept the people in the dark and refused to respect Constitutional obligations – the outcome of which was a national crisis.

The people have the right to be inquisitive, but one of the things I learnt as Presidential Spokesperson interfacing with our country’s security agencies and agents (that is another complex and professional territory) is that there is a sharp line between the right to know and the need to know. As someone who needed information, I always insisted on the right to know, but the intelligence community on many occasions drew the blankets, and spoke about the need to know. Their argument as I understand it is that if the people are allowed to know everything then the state would be jeopardized, and national security subverted, but the grey boundary is this: whose security is more important in the long run, the people’s security or the security of power?

It would seem that if President Buhari’s handlers have committed any sin, it is that they were more concerned about the security of power and office. But I argued on Channels TV that this is nothing unusual, and has been the case in other jurisdictions in Europe and the United States. The most celebrated example is that of President Grover Cleveland of the United States, a case study on Presidential illness and the politics of power that is well reported in a book tilted “The President is A Sick Man” by Matthew Algeo. Cleveland, the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States, was one of the most popular politicians of his time. He was an orator who knew how to get the crowds excited. When he returned to power for a second time in 1893, he was regarded as a messiah of sorts.

He boasted about getting America out of recession, the first recession in American history, and setting the economy on a good path. He also boasted about dealing with corruption. He would fight corruption and run a transparent government! The people cheered. But then one morning, Cleveland discovered a swelling on the roof of his mouth. It got worse. It was diagnosed as cancer. He had just taken over power. Everyone looked up to him to do the magic. It was politically inexpedient to tell the public that Cleveland was down with cancer. But the cancer was benign. But the public could not even be so informed.

Cancer was a plague in those days as it is now. To undergo surgery, Cleveland’s handlers sold a dummy to the public that he was going on a vacation cruise, on a friend’s yacht for six days. A team of surgeons was put together and they performed the miracle of removing Cleveland’s cancer in 90 minutes while the yacht cruised on high seas. So important was power and Presidential appearance that they had to ensure the President’s trademark moustache was not tampered with in any way.

The President returned. Nobody knew what actually happened while he was on a cruise. He wasn’t seen in public for 4 weeks. But as in Nigeria, people talk, human beings are human beings, so the story leaked and one journalist E. J. Edwards leaked the story. The White House descended on him. He was dismissed as a writer of “fake news,” and a “disgrace to American journalism.” The truth came out about 12 years later, long after Cleveland was no longer President.

Several American Presidents died in office due to ill-health. William Harrison, of pneumonia, Zachary Taylor of cholera, Franklin Delano Roosevelt of heart disease, George Washington served two terms struggling with malaria, smallpox, tuberculosis, dysentery, before finally succumbing to epiglottitis. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson had stroke for the remaining part of his presidency. The left side of his body was paralyzed, he was blind in his left eye, and was bedridden for two years. By 1920, he had lost his memory and mental health. His wife, Edith Wilson took charge and all of that was hidden from the public.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for President in 1932 on a wheelchair, which was conveniently downplayed by the press. By the time he ran for a fourth time in 1944, he had heart disease. Harry Truman, his Vice President didn’t see him for a whole year! Calvin Coolidge was known as the do-nothing President. After the death of his son, Calvin Jnr., he lost interest in the affairs of state and slept for 11 hours a day! In 1955, Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack, an abdominal operation in 1956, and a stroke in 1957. John F. Kennedy took steroids twice a day to treat Addison’s disease.

Bob Woodward reports in his book, Veil, that after the 1981 assassination attempt, Ronald Reagan was only alert for one hour a day! George W. Bush transferred power to Dick Cheney twice to undergo colonoscopy surgeries. In France, in 1981, Francois Mitterrand, who had promised that he would run “an open Presidency”, suddenly discovered that he had prostate cancer, which had already spread to his bones. He called his doctor aside and told him, this must be treated as “state secret”. He spent the rest of his Presidency battling with prostate cancer.

Far from justifying Presidential illness, the salient point is that Presidents are human beings and their immune systems can also fail, but the politics of managing Presidential illness wherever has always been a matter of optics and power. Every President wants to be loved by his people. No President imagines that he would occupy the highest office in the land and be disliked by the same people who voted him into office. Many Presidents even consider themselves supermen, and even when they are ill, they still want to be loved. Human beings can fall ill at any time, but the lesson of the Yar’Adua experience and now, Buhari’s, whose medical condition had been long announced by the PDP during the campaigns, teaches us that the medical condition of every aspiring public office holder should now and in the future be given special attention.

I stand by the point that President Buhari’s spin-doctors however did the best they could. They managed the optics: telephone calls, high profile visits. And when they saw power was beginning to shift base, they brought him back. Since his return, they have managed the optics even better. On Monday, he resumed in his office, informed the National Assembly and met with his Vice President who had acted while he was away. No one should be under any doubt that the people who manage the President would allow him to be projected as sick and incapacitated.

I recall a day in London. President Goodluck Jonathan suddenly had a stomach upset and he had to be rushed to the hospital. I was part of his Main Body, that is what we were called, that special team that he never travelled or went anywhere without and I am grateful for that special privilege. I was summoned shortly after to join him in the hospital because he wanted to issue a statement to inform Nigerians that he was indisposed and had been hospitalized. When I got to the hospital, I was received by a team of powerful players who delivered Oga’s message at the reception and asked me to do a draft there and then for all of us to consider and approve.

After preparing the statement, I insisted on seeing the President for approval. They told me the doctors were busy with him and they wanted him to rest. I protested that I could not issue a statement without his direct approval. They told me not to worry that this was an emergency situation, and I could see the President later. It was a short, harmless statement, informing Nigerians that the President was indisposed but it was nothing to worry about.

About an hour later, I went up to see the President. First, he asked why I didn’t come up to see him to issue the statement he wanted. I told him I already did so, because I had been told what he wanted me to say. He asked to see a copy of the statement I issued. I handed it over. He read it. He was upset.

“This press release does not disclose that I am here just because of a stomach upset. You have to tell the people what the exact ailment is to prevent any speculation. If you don’t state it as it is, you will allow people to start guessing.”

The powerful players who told me what the President wanted and that it was an emergency were by my side. I just muttered: “Sorry sir.”

“Anytime I am ill, just tell Nigerians what exactly is wrong with me. That is why I sent for you. Nobody knows tomorrow, but whatever is related to my health as President, you must inform Nigerians fully.”

When President Jonathan is interested in a conversation with you, he will look directly into your eyes. But the moment he looks away and starts fidgeting or he is busy trying to attend to something else, it means he has dismissed you. I got the message. “Sorry sir”. I left his bedside.

The people who talked to me, followed me. One of them said:

“Abati, don’t worry yourself, that is a very good statement. Don’t mind him. He wants you to tell Nigerians that he has stomach upset. Before you know it now, the papers tomorrow will report that the President has lost the stomach for the job, and our enemies will start using that against us.”

The job of a Presidential spokesman is definitely the second most difficult job in the Presidency. We were told for 50 days that President Buhari was hale and hearty, but he came back and said: “I have never been so sick!” He also gave the impression that his treatment is still inconclusive.

Rejection of Mr Magu: Matters arising

By Muyiwa Olayinka

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Mr Ibrahim Magu

President Buhari has not left anyone in doubt about his zeal to fight corruption. He’s not alone because Nigerians unanimously agreed that corruption is a scourge, they supported the President in this fight.

Corruption has been the bane of Nigeria’s under development in all spheres of life. For Mr President to achieve this, all hands must be on deck to win.

There are numerous agencies of government such as the Nigerian Police, EFCC ( Economic Financial Crimes Commission), ICPC ( Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.), DSS (Directorate of State security) and so on, to take on crimes and corruption.

EFCC has been effective in fighting economic and financial crimes since its creation. It has recorded many convictions and many untouchables have been brought to justice.

In Nigeria, the fear of EFCC is the beginning of wisdom. The pioneer Chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu brought panache and credibility to the agency.

It is no longer news that every Nigerian is more than ever interested in who heads this agency.

President Buhari appointed Ibrahim Magu in acting capacity in November 2015. Mr. Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption and was a former Head of the Economic Governance Unit (EGU) of the anti-graft agency.

Ibrahim Magu took over from Ibrahim Lamorde, a former director of operations who was the head of the agency for four years, i.e. 2011 to 2015.

Constitutionally, the President appoints the Chairman but shall be confirmed by the Senate before the nominee is made the substantive Chairman.

It has been a herculean task for Mr Magu to be cleared by the Senate. Twice his name had been sent and twice  had been rejected by the senate.

The rejection was based on the security report by the DSS indicting Magu.

In the October 2016 letter, the DSS said Mr. Magu was involved in controversial matters including living in a house allegedly paid for by a man being prosecuted for corruption. It advised that Mr. Magu not be confirmed.

Based on the conclusion of the secret police, senators threw out Mr. Magu’s nomination.

But in another letter in January 2017, Mr. Buhari requested that the Senate reconsider its position and clear Mr. Magu as substantial chairman, saying the allegations against him were false and baseless.

On Wednesday 15th of March, after answering series of questions posed to him, the senate stood down his confirmation, the second time.

The senators hinged their decision on a security report authored by the Directorate of Security Service (DSS), which portrayed Mr. Magu as “a liability to the anti-corruption stance” of the Buhari administration.

There have been responses from Nigerians about the disqualification of Magu. One of the senators who is apparently dissatisfied with the disqualification is Ali Ndume, former senate majority leader. He said if the senate could refuse to confirm Ibrahim Magu, as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) based on allegations levelled against him, Bukola Saraki who has a case in court should not be the senate president.

In his words, “we have all been accused, I have been accused of sponsoring Boko Haram, the senate president is still going to court,” Ndume said.

“Same as other members who have cases in court, yet they occupy seats in the senate. So, if you say because of the allegations he (Magu) should not be confirmed, then I should not be a sitting senator and Saraki should not be there as senate presiding “.

 Implications of Magu rejection.

It has slowed down the momentum of the fight against corruption. Naturally, Magu will be disillusioned and confused about his status.

With this development, many political watchers believe that corruption is fighting back. They are not out of tune because many of the senators have cases of corruption dangling on their necks. Many of them were former governors, some were powerful heads of boards of government agencies. The President of the senate, Dr Olusola Saraki, has a pending corruption related case in court. Both the Senate President and his deputy also have a forgery case in court.

They will probably want to use every political powers they have to stop the cases in court and any individual from prosecuting them.

EFCC has its problems too. It has been accused of acting beyond its powers. They have flouted many laws of the land by denying suspects their constitutional rights. It is fond of deliberately leaking information related to on going investigation to public, engaging in media prosecution to malign and destroy suspect’s integrity .

It is embarrassing to the President or Presidency for the national assembly to reject his nominee on frivolous and unsubstantiated grounds, simply because the party controls the executive and majority of the national assembly. The party (APC) has lost its supremacy over its members.

The party has lost its relevance and cohesion in charting a way forward for the nation. This is a party that has no Chairman board of trustees. The party has been battling internal wranglings within its ranks since forming this government since May 2015.

If the party is strong and cohesive, nominations and decisions ought to have been discussed and taken at the party’s caucus meetings.

The party is supposed to be a partner in progress to support the visions and missions of Mr President.

What is happening to inter agency collaboration of the executive?

DSS and EFCC are organs of the executive, and administratively they are under the Presidency. They report directly to the President. It is inconceivable and smacks of irresponsibility on the path of both agency to be working at cross purposes.

It is obvious that the President is favourably disposed to the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the EFCC boss.

It will be uncharitable not to blame Mr President for not being able to handle his political appointees and get grips of his government.

As the of the head of the government, he should have been able to resolve the grey areas before presenting him publicly for confirmation

This odious act is an embarrassment to the nation that is grappling with recession and underdevelopments.

It is high time this government get its acts together and do the needful to solve myriads of problems facing the nation.

We don’t need this little distractions.

A stich in time saves nine

From London To Abuja In 50 Days: Buhari’s Return

By Reuben Abati

The cities of Daura -President Muhammadu Buhari’s home town, Kano – his political base, and Kaduna -where he has a home, and where the aircraft that brought him from London landed early Friday, March 10, as well as other parts of the North saw the people trooping out to jubilate and thank God for his safe return.

I noticed that there was no such jubilation in the entire South West, the East, the Middle Belt and the South South. This is understandable.

Too many cynics and mischief-makers in these other parts of the country had expected the worst and they had been busy promoting the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo as a better man in the President’s seat.

The manner in which President Buhari’s absence from the country seemed to have divided the country emotionally is perhaps one of the saddest outcomes of that experience. It was the longest period any sitting President in Nigeria would stay away from office. But the really sad news is that it again projected the ethnic differences within the country.

The fact that Buhari’s absence was due to illness raised anxieties on all fronts about the economy and the country’s political prospects. Whereas President Buhari had dutifully and lawfully excused himself and delegated power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who became Acting President, this created fresh and troubling problems on the political front. Mischief-makers began to promote Osinbajo: comments appeared in the social and traditional media, praising every step he took while his boss was away.

Meanwhile, his boss received more bashing than was the case at any other time since he assumed office. Whoever managed or instigated that mischievous media messaging process did Osinbajo a bad turn. One of the golden rules of power is this: Never outshine the master! It is in fact the first law of power.

While Buhari was away, Osinbajo did, wittingly or unwittingly, and how serious that was became obvious when a Buhari aide had to inform Nigerians that there is a single Presidency and that Osinbajo, as Acting President took instructions from his boss in London. It was a sorry moment, with the President’s men trying to pull back the Acting President’s men, and struggling so hard to preserve the President’s image and hold on to power.

This is why Sai Baba’s return is a game changer, and it probably explains why his kinsmen trooped onto the streets in joy. I wouldn’t know if he has returned against doctor’s advice, but we all know that he may still have to go to back to London for further tests as he himself has announced in a statement, but coming back at this time is a deft political move.

Things were beginning to get so bad, power was beginning to slip out of Buhari’s hands. As the Osinbajo persona gained traction, Buhari’s ratings further nosedived. When Buhari arrived this morning, he changed the narrative. And watch every step that he took: he met with the Executive Council of the Federation: a smart way of re-asserting control. He shook hands with some Governors.

He also issued a statement, which he personally signed. Within a few hours of his return, he took steps that left no one in doubt that he intends to remain in charge. I have seen power-game upfront at the highest level. Nobody should be deceived.

If there is any cabal in that Aso Villa at this time, its members must be walking with a special bounce. There was even a smiling competition among Buhari’s men in the Villa today. Look at the photos. Some people smiled so much if their teeth had fallen off in the process, they would have gladly attributed it to occupational hazard.

One of the laws of power is that you don’t take power and then allow other people to seize the advantages. Buhari’s return has served one strong purpose: to hold power and keep it where it belongs. But in another strategic move, the man of power has made it clear that his Vice President will continue to act while he recuperates. That is brilliant: Looks like these guys in the Villa are beginning to learn how to play chess.

With Buhari inside the Villa, even for just two weeks, before he returns to London if he does, he would have enough time to change the calculus of power, including the traffic that may have built up in another direction in his absence.

But Sai Baba don spoil business for prayer warriors oh! I am actually wondering why I did not listen to those friends who advised that we should also organize a get-well prayer session for Buhari. You know-you get-you-understand what I mean…that kind of prayer session that is an investment, with a well-thought-out proposal. You get sponsors, make some money on God’s behalf, publicise the prayer programme so well every important Government official will notice.

I thought this was thoroughly opportunistic, making money and enjoying privileges off another man’s illness! But may be when Baba goes back to London, I will weigh the options differently. More so as I can see with my own eyes that those prayers may have worked.

Buhari’s return, in this heavily spiritual country, is probably clear evidence that God answers prayers! And let us not blame those who think so, because there are indeed people in this same country who wanted Sai Baba to remain in medical exile. But at least, now that the President is back, the prayer investors and their notice-me sponsors and those whose political careers depended on the-President-phoned-me-from-London moments will get off our back.

President Buhari has told everyone who may be planning a trip to Aso Villa on a welcome-back visit to please stay off. Hi-an! Thank you, sir. Let people stay where they are, I beg, and do their work instead of trooping to Aso Villa to do eye service. And nobody should send gifts: in our tradition, when a man is recuperating, it is normal to send packs of tea (and Baba likes his tea!), cartons of milk and fruit juice and biscuits, to ease the recuperation process. I beg make una keep una tea, and other Greek gifts, Baba no want. And I think people should be told not to place any adverts in the newspapers welcoming President Buhari back to Nigeria.

The man I sympathise with is Professor Yemi Osinbajo. He will now have to tone down, roll back and generally stay in the shadows, even with his boss saying he can carry on while he is still recuperating. How can he carry on when the boss is back and on his feet? Can he possibly bear the title of Acting President when the President is back in the Villa? He and his team would have to do a quick re-set, both inside the Villa and in the media. Right now, I do not envy them…as they manage the banana peels of power.

And now that President Buhari is back, it would be most appropriate to draw his attention to many things that happened in his absence. Baba, while you were away…some Ministers were busy making noise, some Nigerians were busy wailing, some of them said you…you… the recession got worse, the Naira effectively became a yo-yo, one actress left her husband and started grumbling about STD, one house-boy in Big Brother Naija tried to get fresh with TBoss and got booted out, there was two- fighting in the PDP…

No, I think I should let you enjoy your first day back home in 50 days. Here is a Yoruba song, which the wailers of the South West refused to sing to welcome you back. Enjoy it:

Kabo o o, kaa-aa-bo.

Kaaabo ooo, kaabo

Sai baba to t’ajo de o,

Kaa bo o

Baba wa to t’ajo de o, kaabo

At 64, three out of my 4 children are not mine

An Anonymous man wrote this asking for honest advise. Please read carefully

I Need Your Advice Urgently!!!

If I had known, I would not have played the America Visa Lottery. The lottery I played had put an indelible scar in my heart, causing me pain daily as I move closer to my grave. I am now 64 years of age. My undoing was the Visa Lottery I played in 2007. Prior to this time, all was well, and going smoothly in our family. I had married my wife in 1985. We were blessed with 3 boys and a girl. The girl, Moyosore was our first child. She was born in 1986. The boys came there after in 1988, 1990, and 1994.

My wife was a full time house wife. She had everything at her request. A chauffeur driving car, two house helps, and other conveniences were at her disposals. I was a senior management staff at the defunct NITEL. A trained and accompanished electronic engineer. I travelled round the Nation. My assignments most times, were between the Federal Capital Territory, and Owerri in Imo State. I however ensured am in Lagos at least twice a month to see my family. This was between 1986 , and 1997. I retired in 1999 to start my own private company, which has continued to triumph to God’s glory.

In 2007, I joined several other Nigerians to play the visa lottery of the United States. I was part of the few thousands that won. I was happy, not because of myself, but because of my two younger children who will have the benefit of automatic citizenship of America. My older children; Moyosore, Aanuoluwapo were already schooling in Canada as at the time. One of the major conditions of granting the visa is blood screening, and conduct of DNA for beneficiary’s dependants. I had submitted necessary documents, and made payments for our screenings at the popular St. Nicholas, Lagos Island. We did the tests as recommended. The results were to be sent to the Embassy.

I got a letter at a later date that I should present my passport and my wife’s for visas. On enquiry, they said the kids I presented weren’t mine. I almost lost my sanity! My kids weren’t mine? Is that possible was my song. I find it difficult to comprend. Because, it happened near my birthday celebration, I invited Moyo and Aanu home under the pretence that they were coming to celebrate with me, and had their DNA carried out. Alas, only Moyosore was my authentic child!

I became sick, and almost passed on. I was hospitalised for a month. I eventually lost the opportunity to complete the processing of the visas, as I was no longer myself. Abi, of what need is the visa without my kids?

When I got over the shock, I confronted my wife. She was mad with me. She called me unprintable names and a failure. I kept my peace and moved on. The following week, I invited her to a friend’s party. On our way back, I parked the car and pulled out of the road. She asked why, and I told her not to worry. I then raised the matter again. She rained abuses on me, and called me a drunk. At that point, I pointed a pistol at her side, and threatened to kill her, and dump her on the abandoned road. I showed her copy of the DNA I got on Aanu, and the notification I received from American embassy.

At this point, my wife became a parrot. She swallowed her pride, and confessed. She said Aanu was fathered by David, a friend and colleague, who was more of a brother than friend. We had been friends for almost 30 years. Tunde and Bidemi were sons of our househelp, Kingsley. Kingsley was from Benue. He worked with us for almost 15 years. I had noticed my wife special interest in him, but never knew he was sharing her with me.

It has been 10 years after the ugly incident, and revelation. I survived the shock, but my wife never! She died two years after. She didn’t wait to tell the kids and sort out the problem and havoc she caused.

Till date, the children are not in the knowing of my predicament. The children are doing good. The last, Bidemi now 23 is working in a Multinational Company. He graduated at 19. So also are the other brothers and their sister, who are doing great overseas.

Now, am 64. I have written my Will again and again. I have deleted the names of the boys from my last Will, even though I have not gathered enough courage to inform them that am not their biological father.

I have not told anyone either, and its killing me day- by- day.

Should I inform them all, or tell my only daughter that is my own ?

Or I should just die with the thought ?

Please, I need your advice !!!

Buhari Is Not Coming Back

By Toyin Dawodu

Buhari may not be dead, but he might as well be – too sick to rule, too greedy to leave.

There is a saying in Yoruba Land: “Orun a re mabo.”

Translation: No one comes back from the dead.

Buhari may not be dead, but he might as well be – too sick to rule, too greedy to leave.

Do I wish Buhari dead? Hell no! I wish him well. But as the president of Nigeria, he needs to either serve in his full capacity as president, or immediately resign. There is no third option here, at least not one that benefits Nigerians.

For weeks, Buhari’s administration has been reporting that he is healthy, that he is simply on an extended trip to London for medical tests. He has been away for weeks, and his administration is unwilling or unable to tell Nigerians if or when their president will return, according to the LA Times.

So, what we know for sure is even if Buhari is not sick – which is improbable, considering his appearance of late – and he is just more comfortable spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on his current medical tour instead of getting these “medical tests” done at the State House Clinic Abuja, the fact remains he so preoccupied with his health that he is unable to lead his country. And Nigeria does not seem to have another leader poised to take his place.

I agree with Okey Ndibe that Buhari should step down.

Unlike most of Buhari’s detractors, I do not have a self-serving agenda. My agenda is to see Nigerians prosper in Nigeria. But Nigerians remain in chains, enslaved by their inability to see beyond their greedy noses.

I speculate Buhari is suffering from either a kidney failure or pancreatic cancer, but even if Buhari comes back home, we all know his policies of the last two years have left the country almost completely stagnate. Try as we might to put our faith in him, Buhari has brought Nigeria no closer to self-sufficiency.

If you remember, I campaigned for Buhari. I wanted him to help halt the abyss to which Nigeria was descending during the time of Jonathan’s presidency, as referenced in my article Nigeria’s Rise to the Bottom.

In another one of my articles, I stated that Nigeria is Not a Country but a conspiracy of the elites. My sincere hope was that Buhari would mark the start of a new paradigm of leadership for Nigeria.

That has not been the case.

I am not naive in thinking any world leader would panic his or her constituents by announcing a major illness then admitting there is no cure for the illness, nor a plan in place to ensure the stability of the country going forward. World leaders don’t do that. Hell, C-level executives don’t even do that.

I think what we all feel is the sense of unease that manifests when you know something’s wrong and no one will tell you what it is. It’s the same unease Americans felt when William Henry Harrison died in office. It’s the same unease experienced by Ethiopians when Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died in office. It’s the same unease the whole world felt when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died and we realized we were stuck with his sons.

The saga of Yar’adua comes to mind. Not quite seven years ago, we had another Nigerian President lying comatose in another country. The cabals lied to the nation for several months until they could no longer lie.

This may be history repeating itself.

By the time this post goes live, Buhari may be dead or Buhari may be back in Nigeria. But I question whether he will ever regain enough strength to lead in the proper capacity as president. How can he have a broken body and a distracted mind and retain the strength and focus to lead Nigeria out of social, political, and economic turmoil?

I am hedging my bets. The cabals know the answer. The conspirators know the answer. But they will continue to lie and keep Nigerians guessing so they can milk the system for as long as possible.

Therefore, I say to all Nigerians, let us pray the Lord see fit to restore President Buhari’s health, and that he has the opportunity to enjoy the rest of his years in peace with his family beside him.

And let us pray that Nigerians would wake up, and rise up. Long live Nigeria.

Obasanjo: Why I Wanted To Slap My Teacher On My First Day In School

olusegun-obasanjo

INTERVIEW ON SATURDAY

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo will be clocking 80 yrs this week, March 7th  and there is a build up of activities to the day. He was a former President of Nigeria and one of the foremost African elder statemen.

Ahead of the celebrations, Mr. Obasanjo recently sat down with a group of journalists in his Abeokuta home to talk about his life and times, and his hope for the future. PREMIUM TIMES Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, was there.

EXCERPTS:

You are now 80. What did you discover about yourself as president?

One of the things I discovered about myself is my stamina to go on. I never knew I could start work, sit down at 8:00 a.m. At 5:00 p.m., come home and play squash. Then go until 2. am. Then try and sleep, wake around 5 a.m. to play squash again. Attend morning devotion and be at work at 8:00 a.m. in the morning.

Or phone a minister at 1:00 a.m. and say ‘Hey! Minister, what have you done about A, B, C, D?’

With that job, I discovered that part of me and it has become my way of life.

But things don’t seem to have changed in terms of your everyday life. Since you got out of office, your schedule is still tight.

I remain what I am: a stupid village boy. Born in the village. Raised in the village. Grew up in the village. Doing a number of things by accident. Went to school by accident. Joined the Army by accident. Rose through the ranks by accident. Though I went to the Congo, not by accident. I went there and came back after I did what is right and what is wrong there. Then came back and continued to rise in the Army.

What do you mean when you say ‘by accident’?

You see, some people will say: ‘Yes, my family. I came from a military family.’ I didn’t come from a military family. Some people will say: ‘Yes, I was planning it. It took me two years to plan.’ I didn’t plan it.

I was going to my family one day and he asked if it is farming I will continue to do for the rest of my life and I said yes. I had a cousin who had left the village and went to Abeokuta to become a vehicle mechanic.

My father asked if I had alternative and I said if I had an alternative it would be mechanic. School didn’t cross my mind then.

So I told him if he would send me to school, I will go. So that was an accident.

He brought me to Abeokuta from the village. I went to five different schools. Because we came late, I was not admitted. So I stayed with my uncle-in-law — that’s the husband of my aunt.

After three months, my father came and asked him not to turn me to a lazy man. Because I was going with him to Ogun River to catch fish. So my father took me back to the village. That was an accident.

My village, about the end of the year, people go about the villages for harvest. Some people came to our village, including the headmaster of the school in the nearby village. My father entertained them. Afterwards, he asked the headmaster if he had admission for me and he said yes.

The headmaster said I should come at the end of the month, it was in September, to register.

So when I got to the school, a teacher in charge of registration asked what my name is. I told him I am Olusegun. He asked Olusegun…what? I told him Olusegun, Matthew Olusegun.

He then said he was asking about my last name, my father’s name. Then I told him, asking for my father’s name was an insult. I have never mentioned my father’s name before.

That would have been my first and last name in school but for the understanding of the headmaster. Because I attempted to slap the teacher for daring to ask my father’s name.

So the headmaster said they should lie me flat. He said they should give me three strokes of the cane. I might not have gone to school. I might have ended my school on the first day.

So, when I talk of these accidents. They’re things that you don’t say you planned before.

I didn’t even plan to go to war. By virtue of the corps I belonged to in the Army, the engineering corps, I shouldn’t have been to war.

I was in Ibadan when I was announced. One Justice Akinkugbe, his house was not far from my depot. He questioned why it would be an engineer that they would call to go to war. He said there was no future for the country.

But when I returned from the war, he called me and apologised and said he had the wrong opinion of me before. I didn’t even know that he said those things about me before I went to war.

Then I explained to him that before I went into the Army Corps of Engineers, I had basic, normal military training for infantry or whatever. When you get to a stage in your military career, then you will do staff and command training. Which means that, it doesn’t matter your specialisation, you now go into the normal run. So you could be an engineer and command a brigade. You could be an armour corps and command a brigade. You could be an artillery and command a brigade. You could be a signal and command a brigade.

What sort of lifestyle would you recommend for the younger generation of Nigerians?

One of my friends that I used to marvel about his intellect, ability and longevity was Helmut Schmidt, a former Chancellor of Germany who died two years ago at the age of 96.

Helmut was strong. Physically strong and robust mentally. And he did everything that you may not ask people to do. He was a smoker. He was a drinker. He snuffed. And if a good woman goes by, my friend would probably say ‘Hi’ to her.

But he lived till the age of 96. When he was 90 I went to celebrate his birthday with him. I said to him then that we thanked God for his life. He said to me that old age is a bad thing. When you’re old you can’t hear anything without a hearing device, but I don’t have a hearing device. When you’re old you can’t see properly without glasses, but I don’t wear glasses. You can’t walk without a walking stick, but I don’t use a stick. You can’t eat without denture, but I don’t have denture yet. You can’t make love without having assistance.

That was at the age of 90. I think it was the grace of God.

On March 5 when I will be officially celebrating my 80th birthday, I will play squash. There’s a squash court within this place. We will have a tournament and will compete on that morning between 7 and 9. I want to play with veterans for 15 minutes. I want to play with the best boy in Ogun State for 15 minutes. And the best girl in Ogun State for 15 minutes. I will play for 45 minutes.

When you saw the first strand of grey hair on your head, how did you feel?

It doesn’t worry me. Why should grey hair worry me? It’s part of the process of ageing. Unless you’re a fool you’ll know that you have to age. What you should be praying for and working for is that you age gracefully, responsively and being relevant. Ageing is a process that you cannot do anything about.

Since I cut my hair completely, I don’t know wether you saw grey hair or white.

At 80, what regrets do you have about your life?

I used to have a doctor in the U.K., Howard. When he turned 65, I was in the U.K. and I asked him to go with me to a dinner. He agreed.

He said I should pick him at his clinic. So I picked him up. Then at the front of the restaurant, I asked him if he had any regrets at 65. He paused for almost 30 seconds. Then he said he had never thought of it until I asked the questions.

He said he had no regrets because God had blessed him abundantly. He said he graduated from Oxford and became a doctor at the age of 22.

But he told me that the only regret he had was that his son did not become a doctor as he wished. But that was not of his own making, it was the making of the son.

So for me, is there anything I wanted to do that I did not do? No. Is there anything I should have done that I would wish I hadn’t done with the benefit of hindsight? No. There’s nothing I have done that I can not own up to.

I can own up to God, my maker. So I had no regrets.

When I had the opportunity, I did my best. We may say my best was not good enough. But have I done my best? I did my best. I satisfied my conscience.

How do you appeal to the increasingly wary masses to be patient with the current administration?

The basic problem is leadership. Look, in 1998. People came to me and said I will be the last president of Nigeria. Why? Because they believed that by the time I finished being president of Nigeria, there would be no Nigeria left. Because we had General Sani Abacha.

What would you say is the legacy of Abacha?

I told them I will lead Nigeria because I believe in Nigeria. And I have nothing to offer than leadership. I will offer leadership. I told them if I failed, I will return to my farm.

But they turned out to be wrong. I was right. Because after me, we have had Umar Yar’Adua. We have had Goodluck Jonathan. We have had Muhammadu Buhari. So we have had how many years of unbroken democracy? This is the first time we’ll have this stretch. This is the first time in the history of Nigeria as an independent country that we will have peaceful handover from one personality to another in 2007. In the same party. In 2015, from one personality in another. From ruling party to opposition. These are not just easy occurrences.

I believe we have hope. Yes, we could have achieved much more than we achieved. But we should also know that we could have been worse much more than we are.

The generation that gave us independence. We may say whatever we like about them. But they gave us independence. My own generation is the generation that followed. You may say what you like about our generation, but we fought for the unity of Nigeria. But that should not be taken for granted. How many countries that went through civil war have broken up?

So you may say what you like, but we now have a democratic dispensation that has lasted for almost 18 years.

How do you feel when people say the last 16 years was a disaster?

I believe it was the height of ignorance. The height of unappreciation of what God has done for this country. Although I will be amongst the first to agree that we haven’t been where we should have been, but we have also been far from where we could have been.

Do you believe that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable?

I don’t like that word. You picked a word that I don’t like. Anybody that wants to negotiate, let him go and negotiate. But I believe that we need ourselves. But if anybody thinks that he doesn’t need the other, then I say good luck to him. I believe we need ourselves.

What are we negotiating? Will the Yoruba say they don’t need the rest of Nigeria? I don’t believe they will. What I see is that people want to have more of the national cake. Which is a good thing in itself. If you don’t like the cake you won’t want to ask for me. It’s because you like the cake, that’s why you’re asking for more.

I do sympathise with the youth. When I left secondary school, I got jobs in five places. I got in UAC. I got in government printer. I got in medical store. I got in the school of agriculture. And a bit later I got a teaching job.

Today, if you leave the university, what are the chances that you will get jobs in two places?

Today, the youth have more facility than I had in my time, but less opportunities. In my time, there was only one university in Nigeria. Today, there are 150 universities. More facilities, but less opportunities. So we need to create more opportunities. But not condemning everything.

The generation before us fought for the independence. Our generation fought for the unity of Nigeria and laid the foundation for the current democracy. What would the present generation do?

That’s the way to think.

Look, in the countries where things work today, some people sacrificed for things to work. They did. Whatever you may see as bad in your own society, some other societies have gone through the same.

Somebody said to me that some time ago in America, a judge would go to deliver judgment with two judgements in his pocket. And both judgments are equally sound. So depending on the highest bidder. He knows that the complainant is on the left pocket and the defendant is on the right. So that he won’t make a mistake.

Now they have gone through that and put it behind them as a country.

Whatever you may say about Donald Trump, his emergence is an indication that democracy is not perfect. It does not give you best man for the job. It gives the chosen man for the job.

What you now have to know is how to make use of what you have.

I was one of the first to congratulate Trump because that is what his country has chosen. So in the next four years, we have no choice than to work with him unless he’s impeached.

So it’s not for me or you to complain. It’s for me and you to think of how we can get the best of what Americans have given the world.

What do you make of recycling of leaders in Nigeria?

The ones that you haven’t recycled, what have they done?

We’re saying that old politicians like you should give opportunities to others

What are you talking about? James Ibori was not given opportunity? Diepriye Alamieyeseigha was not given opportunity? Ayo Fayose was not given opportunity? Come on…

That’s absolutely unacceptable. What more opportunity do you want? In my own cabinet, I had four men that were at the age of 30. Fortunately they performed well, but what do you mean by they were not given opportunity?

If that’s your way of thinking, then you’re wrong. Leadership is not a matter of age. It’s a matter of the quality of the individual.

You once said Nigerians don’t have the capacity to select their leaders…

I did not say that.

You said you want Igbo president in 2019?

Again, I did not say that. You people say whatever you want to say. Look, Christian Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, came to see me here. They asked me to brief them on the situation in Southern Kaduna. I have been briefed by Bishop Matthew Kukah who comes from that area. I have been briefed by General Martin-Luther Agwai who comes from that area. I gave them my own understanding of that issue.

I told them the Southern Kaduna issue is both historical, cultural. religious and political. So if you now want to resolve the issue, you have to take all these issues together. And I said the problem is when we fail to attend to something the time we’re supposed to attend to it and then it boomerangs on our face, then we don’t have anybody to blame.

I said, here in Ogun State, we have a bit of Southern Kaduna problem. I said since Ogun State had was created, we have had four elected governors. We have three senatorial districts —east, central and west. It has rotated between east and central. And I said west has not had a governor.

So I said I don’t know when you will get there, but if don’t get there when you should get there and the west decides to go into agitation then you have yourself to blame. I said the same with Nigeria, at independence we had a country of tripod. The north, the east and the west. The north, majority tribe is Hausa-Fulani. The east, majority tribe is Igbo. The west, majority tribe is Yoruba.

Hause-Fulani in the north cannot complain. Yoruba, they cannot complain. Even those who didn’t vote for Obasanjo the first time, they had to accept later. I said the Igbo haven’t had that chance. Now, we must be mindful, that we do not ignore that. That must be taken care of.

That’s all.

So, if you want to interpret it whichever way you like it, that’s fine. But if you don’t take care of it, well.

What is your assessment of the Buhari administration? Is it on the right direction?

I don’t know about your wrong direction or right direction. But what I know is this: President Buhari has not disappointed me. From what I know about him and what he has done, he has not disappointed me.

In my book, I said he’s not strong on the economy. And he’s not. In fact, I said he’s not strong on foreign affairs. He’s improved somewhat on foreign affairs. But in the areas we know him, he has done his best. He has done his best in fighting insurgency. He has done his best in trying to fight corruption.

When you aspired to be United Nations Secretary General, Wole Soyinka kicked against it. But you don’t seem to have forgiven him?

You’re absolutely wrong. I don’t hold a grudge. Wole Soyinka is not God. And I don’t believe there’s any human being that is absolutely right. Wole Soyinka has what I believe he has. He’s a gifted person in his own way. But Wole Soyinka is not an oracle. I will not accept Wole Soyinka making cathedral statement on everything. I don’t believe that anybody could do that. So it’s not a question of forgiveness. When Wole Soyinka does what I believe is right, I will commend him. When he says what I believe is not right…Wole Soyinka is a populist and I don’t believe in populism.

So you got that wrong, and you should get it right.

What happened to Oputa Panel? Why didn’t its report see the light of the day?

The report did what it was meant to do. Oputa Panel was not meant to start writing and changing. What it was meant to do was to look at where we have offended ourselves.

I went before Oputa Panel twice as president. Some people said as president I shouldn’t go. But I went because I set it up and believed in it. My point on issues that have ever since been buried. I was asked about Kalakuta Republic. I went there and I explained.

Two, Elizabeth Pam was a member of that panel. James Pam, her husband who was my own boss in the Army, was killed. Mrs. Pam asked why the suspect killed her husband. The suspect said her husband was one of those that were corrupt. That a politician gave him money to build a house. And Mrs. Pam said it wasn’t true. That her husband borrowed money from the bank. And they brought documents to show. She said it was seven or eight years after her husband died that they finished paying for that house.

Then the suspect said he was sorry after the explanation. And Mrs. Pam said she was happy that the air is clear. What more do you want? That was part of what the panel achieved.

The report said I should apologise generally to everybody and I did. So what do you want?

The relationship between you and your former Vice President?

That’s not an issue, I am not saying anything. It’s not an issue.

The National Conference of the Jonathan era, what do you think about it?

I didn’t read it. So, how can I say anything about what I didn’t read? Becuase I don’t believe it was necessary.

If you start going into our situation. From the constituent assembly of 1977. The one that Ibrahim Babangida did. The one that Abacha wrote. I didn’t read it. I believe it was a distraction.

At 80, what do you wish for Nigeria?

The best. I wish Nigeria the best.

The present is a passing phase. I am looking forward to the future. My wish is that I have hope that Nigeria will be better.

Why did you return to school to learn theology after completing your tenure as president?

Because there’s no age limit to learning. I said I wanted to learn more things about my God so that I can worship him better.

Your recent video with the Vice President and other leaders in which you were doing thanksgiving, how did you do it?

The credit should not go to me. The credit should go to the Vice President. He was the one who called me and said there was a thanksgiving and if I am not there it would not be complete. Then I went. So we went to the church. After the church, we went to his house and he gave us breakfast. After the meal, he took us to the church where we had to sing. And I think it was a good thing.

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