About A Unique Nigerian Leader

About Nigeria’s Genuine Mai-Gaskiya (The Sincere one), the Real McCoy. An Exemplary Paragon of Integrity and Epitome of Humility and A Man for All Seasons condensed from Nowa Omoigui’s; From Kampala To Lome To London and Back To Nigeria

How and why General Gowon lost grip was multi-factorial. On July 29, 1975, nine years to the day a coup he did not plan brought him to power at Ikeja Barracks, elements within his ‘constituency’ “recalled” him. Former secessionist leader Emeka Ojukwu, who was still in exile in Ivory Coast, reacted to the news of the coup against Gowon – according to Frederick Forsythe – with a smile.

Nevertheless, General Gowon, far away in Kampala, had friends. Many offers of residence came to him in Kampala from various African countries. He notified the new regime in Lagos that he would leave Kampala for Lome in Togo. Since he was financially broke, teary-eyed members of the Nigerian delegation along with staffers at the Nigerian High Commission in Kampala donated 3000 pounds sterling to enable him begin a new life. He was flown to Lome – via Garoua in Cameroon – aboard President Idi Amin’s executive jet. Part of the flight passed through Nigerian airspace and Gowon took the opportunity to transmit a radio message reaffirming loyalty to and support for Brigadier Murtala Muhammed’s new regime. Although offered permanent domicile in Togo he chose to join his family in the United Kingdom. He received an additional 10,000 pounds sterling donation from General Eyadema.

Following a telephone call to Brigadier Murtala Muhammed (his Barewa College and Royal Military Academy junior) during which he made requests for elementary federal assistance, he left for London.

When he got to London, he was offered official accommodation by the Nigerian government which he, however, turned down for a variety of reasons. After some weeks at the Portman Hotel, he moved into the house of an old friend – Mr. Emmanuel Otti – at 472 Finchley Road, London. The delay was to enable the house to be redecorated by Mr. and Mrs. Otti and Brigadier Sam Ogbemudia (who had been in the UK when the coup took place in Nigeria). Other friends came to the assistance of the family. It was not until September 1975 that he began to get his pension and gratuities as a retired Four-Star General. In the nine years he had been Nigeria’s ruler he had not built himself a single house, inside or outside the country, nor did he expropriate one kobo of government money. Unlike some of those who served under him, his TOTAL savings throughout his service years as well as his years as Nigeria’s leader was N75,000 – all of which was inside Nigeria.

In time to come this would stand in stark contrast to the conduct of and personal fortunes of most of those who conspired to remove him from office – or benefited from it.

Once settled in with his family, the General, who was offered several Masters Degree programs, signed up for undergraduate studies in Political Science at Warwick University. Newspapers in Nigeria later carried news items and photographs depicting the former Nigerian leader carrying trays in a student cafeteria in the UK. The Muhammed regime was embarrassed and therefore dispatched Brigadier TY Danjuma (who, took Kano born Col. Wali along) to ask Gowon adopt a supposedly more dignified stance. Gowon rejected the overture and reassured his “embarrassed sympathizers” that he was comfortable with his situation. He made friends among the Nigerian students at Warwick, including a family friend of mine, Desmond Guobadia, now a legal practitioner in Lagos. Meanwhile his spouse, the former First Lady, Mrs. Victoria Gowon (who was a nurse) registered as a catering student at a University College in London.

Col. BS Dimka, an officer from the Angas ethnic group of Plateau State, announced the botched February 1976 coup bid. Tragically, General Muhammed was killed, along with Colonel Ibrahim Taiwo and a few others. Gowon vigorously denied the allegation of complicity. In an atmosphere of open press speculations, suspicion and outright condemnation, he was invited by Brigadier SM Yar’Adua, to appear before the investigating board in Lagos. In the meantime, all his privileges were suspended. Even his pension, which was his right – and not a privilege – was also illegally suspended. His brother, Air Force Major Moses Gowon, was detained (because he was his brother) – and later discharged from service. Another brother, Captain Isaiah Gowon, was jailed for 15 years – after a second court-martial – because of an innocuous visit to the School of Artillery in Kaduna on February 13.

Fearful of the press-hyped atmosphere and presumption of guilt prior to investigation and trial Gowon suggested a neutral country as the venue of his submissions to the investigating board. He also offered swearing to an affidavit and responding point by point to any questionnaire of the government’s choosing. The government, urged on by a mob-like mentality that pervaded the Press, refused. Instead, efforts were made to get the General to return to Nigeria by subterfuge.

Mistrustful of the intentions of the regime, Gowon wrote a lengthy and very detailed letter of explanation offering to assist the government to find a solution to “the endemic problem of coups and counter-coups in Nigeria.” One week later, a government announcement monitored over the Voice of America asserted that General Gowon had been stripped of his rank, honours and entitlements. However, no official letter was ever sent to that effect – in part because the government cannot forfeit the rank of an officer unless such an officer has actually been convicted of treason or other serious felony – which had not happened.

With no further income from his pensions, Gowon once again had to rely on old friends. Mr. Otti absolutely refused to collect rent from him. Gowon wrote a letter to some African leaders explaining his situation. None, except one, responded. This African leader – with whom Gowon had no prior personal relationship – gave him $50,000 to purchase a house. On another occasion then President Ahidjo of Cameroon – who did not respond to Gowon’s initial appeal – sent his children some pocket money during a visit to London. The school fees of his first son were paid for by an old Caucasian friend. Some members of his family in Nigeria sent money too from time to time. A wealthy international businessman from then Bendel State reportedly gave him a monthly stipend of 500 pounds sterling for 18 months while the Nigerian Ambassador to an unnamed European country offered him an old Volkswagen Passat. In the meantime, barely scraping a living, the General continued his undergraduate and, later, graduate studies at Warwick – including a PhD thesis on ECOWAS

On October 1st, 1981, after consultations with the National Council of States, President Shehu Shagari deftly rescinded the order published in Vol. 66; Official Gazette No. 3 dated January 18, 1979. Since Gowon was never convicted, there was no basis for a “pardon”.

The public reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Gowon, during a subsequent interview with the BBC, said he would return to Nigeria upon completion of his studies. He also added his voice to appeals for the government of Shehu Shagari to pardon his wartime opponent, Emeka Ojukwu – an event that later took place in 1982. It was also late in 1982 that traditional rulers from Plateau State launched a fundraiser to build a house in Jos for the former Nigerian leader.

It would be some years to come before his rank and privileges – wrongfully terminated without trial – would finally be fully officially re-acknowledged. General Yakubu Cinwa Gowon (rtd) is still alive and active as an elder statesman.

*Copied from Ahmed Yahaya Joe Facebook post

LAGOS BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

LAGOS MARINA BEFORE
LAGOS MARINA AFTER

The best way to contextualize the growth and transformation of Lagos is by looking at the same southeastern view of the Marina towards the Lagos Yacht Club across the strait separating Lagos and Victoria Islands centuries apart up to Wilmot Point and beyond.

I am surprised and disappointed that Lagosians have also been caught up in the crossfire of identity politics in Nigeria. I have always assumed the “Center of Excellence” was immune to the kind of xenophobic indigenes-settler dichotomy that has bedeviled the rest of our nation, Nigeria. This post is therefore inspired by the recent intervention of Omo Eko Pataki, a forum for “Original Lagosians” entitled; Lagos – The Imperative of Cultural Renaissance. I thankfully became aware of it courtesy of the esteemed Taiwo Ogunbote of Center for Human Capital and Democratic Development, an old Gregorian of Obalende and former officer of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Anybody who is familiar with the history of Lagos would admit that the entrepôt has always been a culmination of external factors revolving around trade and commerce from its obscure days as an Awori fishing settlement to its hostile takeover by the forces of Oba of Benin that named it Eko (which means war camp), which the Portuguese seafarer renamed Lago de Curamo in 1472.

However, it was not until Royal Navy officer, John Beecroft in 1849 who became the British consul to the Bights of Benin and Biafra based in what was now anglicanized to Lagos; which became a major hub for the present South West hinterland, which had to bombarded to military submission by Her Majesty’s warships in 1851.

For Lagos to stabilize itself amidst the incessant crisis between the Akitoye and Kosoko ruling houses and transform the strategically located “swamps and lakes” port to the Atlantic into a commercial hub order had to be restored and a semblance of authority must be established. Simply put the Union Jack had to be hoisted. To pull that off 2 persons were crucial – Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who took up the matter at the British parliament through his fellow Anglican bishops and abolitionists at the House of Lords and Madam Tinubu who impressed upon the local elite the need to transit from slave trading to a more lucrative and less hazardous legitimate trade.

Bishop Crowther was from Osoogun in present-day Oyo state and Madam Tinubu actually Efunporoye Osuntinubu, an Egba of Owu ancestry from Ojokodo in present-day Ogun state. Arguably, without their intervention we probably wouldn’t know Lagos as it is today.

What has also been perhaps deliberately neglected in the history of the evolution of Lagos is the role of the amalgam of Hausa speaking people. The Male Revolt was a slave rebellion that took place in January 1835 during Ramadan in the city of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil. In Bahia, the Hausas were primarily identified with practicing Islam because they adopted the religion before coming over to Brazil. Over time however, with the Nago slaves they united to revolt. Some of the key figures important in planning the uprising were: Ahuna, Pacífico, and Manoel Calafate.

“The word Nago derives from the word Anago, a term that the Fon-speaking people used to describe Yoruba-speaking people residing in the kingdom of Ketu now in the present-day Benin Republic.”

The aftermath of the Male Revolt led to emancipation of slaves in Brazil many of which opted to return to Africa. In 1851, a pioneer group of 60 freed slaves chartered a ship for the then equivalent of $4000 to return to Badagry. These returnees became known as Aguda which by the 1880s constituted almost 10% of the population of Lagos. Others eventually joined the return to Lagos; the Amaro from Cuba and Saro from the Caribbean via Sierra Leone.

“On 21 April 1863, John Hawley Glover was appointed administrator of the government of Lagos Colony, he remained there till 1872. Glover formed the nucleus of present-day Nigeria’s Army and Police with 10 Hausa runaway slaves on 1 June 1863. The group was known as Glover’s Hausas or ‘Glover’s Forty Thieves’. Glover went to great lengths to develop bonds of personal loyalty with the Armed Hausas. He personally trained, commanded, and chose his successors, ensuring their loyalty. In return for their loyalty, Glover rewarded his troops with land and dwellings. He raised their pay and provided them with smart uniforms that broadcast their status of free men and agents of the British colonial government.”

Who are then the original Lagosians?

The Aworis or Binis or even the descendants of Glover’s Hausas, Agudas, Amaros or even Saros?

How do we situate the millions of Igbos in Lagos that arguably constitute one third of the population of Lagos? What about the Ago Awusa that were located between Epe and Itokin from where Madam Tinubu’s fifth husband Momoh Bukar hailed from before that Hausa camp was resettled in Alausa in present-day Ikeja?

Anyway the main grouse of Omo Eko Pataki is that; “the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, and many top political office holders in the state are not natives of Lagos State”.

They further contend that ”the senators representing the state at the National Assembly – Oluremi Tinubu and Solomon Adeola; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folasade Jaji; and the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, are also not from the state” also that the “legendary accommodating openness” that Lagos State is known for was becoming a curse, noting however that they would no longer watch the state become “a no-man’s-land” The forum also claims “Lagosians are now reduced to almost “second-class citizens on their native soil”
For me the fundamental issue at stake is; The Tragedy of the Commons which is described by Garrett Hardin in 1968 as “All human relationships involve give and take, all such relationships breakdown when one or more parties do too much taking and not giving” Apologies to the Gbaygi of FCT.

“Isale Eko translates to ‘bottom of Eko’, was so named because of its location south of the area called ‘Eko’ (later called Lagos). Isale Eko started as the home of Aromire, a pepper farmer who was one of the sons of Olofin, an Awori settler, who was the chief of Iddo Island and the first Idejo (landowner) of Lagos Island. Aromire’s farm settlement, which was the first home of the inhabitants of Isale Eko, is today known as ‘Iga Idunganran’ (The Pepper Palace), the palace of the Oba of Lagos.” It was from this palatial surroundings the Oba of Lagos in 2015 threatened to sink the Igbo if they voted contrary to his political preference.

Unfortunately the joke is now on him as the Omo Eko Pataki under his royal nose are today poking their fingers at “the abberation which emerged since 1999”

In conclusion; Who build this Gada (Bridge)? This for me is a fitting metaphor for who built Lagos, a question asked by “Acksion Governor” Brigadier General Raji Alagbe Rasaki, the military administrator in Lagos 1988-1991 while inspecting a poorly constructed culvert over a flood channel. The Omo Eko Pataki needs to understand politics is a numbers game and must therefore skillfully negotiate their relevance even in their own domain by way of an issues based engagement. The 1999 Constitution is clear and unequivocal on the eligibility for public office and the right to residency anywhere in Nigeria. “Indigene-ship” is a colonial legacy for divide and rule.

Come October 1, it will be 60 years after national independence, so we shouldn’t be having this kind of conversation in our nation.

Eko o ni baje o!

When the looting starts; the shooting starts.

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

“When the looting starts; the shooting starts”
This recent statement by US president Donald Trump were the exact words used in 1967 by the Miami police chief Walter Headley Jr. during the height of civil rights riots there.

Headley who had led that Florida city’s police department from 1948 until his death in 1968 declared to the Black people in Miami; “This is war” But as Carl von Clausewitz famously put it; “War is the continuation of politics by other means” If so what political message is Trump sending in an election year by repeating Bradley’s exact words 53 years later? The US leader is simply reminding White Supremacists, America’s largest voting block of his continued allegiance which begs the question of – is Trump racist or just being politically opportunistic?

Whatever the answer the angry African Americans have played into the hands of his political self aggrandizement at their very own expense. Their anger has unfortunately become an albatross instead of a strategic weapon.
A famous quote attributed to Albert Einstein; “Insanity is always doing the same thing but expecting different results” Each time there is a case of White police brutality against any Black person the American Negro community reacts exactly the same way – rioting, looting and arson. The recent fallout in Minneapolis is no different.
However in 1954; “Bernard Garrett wanted to get into real estate but encounters racism that prevents him from being a successful real estate investor.

After a chance encounter with wealthy club owner Joe Morris, he convinces Joe to be his co-investor. Together they convince Matt Steiner, a white man, to pose as the front of the company in meetings to facilitate the sales. Eventually, they become extremely successful in Los Angeles real estate, with the two teaching Matt the basics of real estate investing. The three secure a number of properties in L.A. and effectively integrate a number of previously segregated neighborhoods by selling and renting to Black families.

After this success, he sets his sights on the local bank in his Texas hometown to give loans to the Black residents. Racist bank practices had excluded Black people from receiving loans for small businesses and homeownership. Joe protests the idea at first but eventually relents and the three move to Texas.

Matt buys the bank, fronting for Bernard and Joe, but the local townspeople are extremely suspicious of this move. A bank executive tracks the records of the loans and discovers that they’re giving loans to black people, follows Matt and discovers that his partners are black, then threatens them with exposure which would cause “a run on the bank.” Matt persuades Joe and Bernard to purchase a second bank and put him in charge of it despite his inexperience. The racist bank executive calls in a federal investigator who checks the records of Matt’s bank and discovers numerous infractions attributable to Matt’s carelessness.

Matt, Bernard and Joe get arrested for violating federal banking laws. Facing a 50-year prison term, Matt takes a plea deal, falsely testifying that he was duped by Bernard and Joe. The next day, Bernard testifies passionately about black people being given the same opportunity for upward mobility as whites. He and Joe are convicted and serve time in prison; upon release, they go with Bernard’s wife Eunice to live in the Bahamas.”

This remarkable true story was captured in an excellent movie that was recently released during the Covid-19 pandemic. I have just downloaded and finished watching it. The moral in it is that by thinking outside the box any challenge can be surmounted. Barnet Garret and Joe Morris did not emotionally react to the racism confronting them back then in America, neither did they get angry nor bitter nor become exasperated by defeatism like the rioters recently in Minneapolis. The acted creatively by recruiting White persons to be the face of their company. They taught Matt Steiner golf, power dressing, restaurant table manners and business language and analysis to be their face in a White world.

That a duo of Black business men could skillfully pull off such a covert business strategy in an overtly racist America back in the heady days of the late 1950s and early 1960s was monumental. What Garret and Morris have also shown us is that mutual interest is stronger than any sentiment be it racial or indeed ethnic or religious in our context here in Nigeria and beyond.

The idea is to identify each man’s thumbscrew and turn it. It made no difference to Mr Steiner, a White that Messrs Garret and Morris were Black as long as the US dollar remained Green. The three of them embarked on consensus building for their overall benefit. Everything in life approached from a similar perspective is no different!
Reminding America’s biggest voting block that so to speak “We are all together” Trump has with “When the looting starts; the shooting starts” pulled another fast one at the expense of Black Americans (who are so regular and predictable in their usual response mechanism of rioting, looting and arson) Black people in America and indeed the rest of us elsewhere must learn to always effectively operate outside the box of conventional thinking. The genius in the approach of Garret and Morris was simply they succeeded by hiring white men to be the faces of their enterprise, appearing to run their operations while, in fact, Garrett and Morris were the owners and actual operators of the properties and banks.

They beat the enemy by simply changing the terrain of battle to their advantage exactly how Hannibal, an African inflicted the most devastating military defeat on the Roman army at the Battle of Cannae using just 26,000 men. In 1588, Queen Elizabeth will use 8 warships to crush the Spanish Armada that had 128. Similarly in January 1879, Shaka the Zulu defeated British guns and cannons using strategic envelopment with just spears, bows and arrows.

The effective use of strategic envelopment is all in t Greene he mind!
“People expect your behavior to conform to known patterns and convention. Your task as a strategist is to upset their expectations. Surprise them with chaos and unpredictability” – Robert Greene

Practical Advice on Covid19

Finally something practical and honest from the :
Head of the Infectious Disease Clinic, University of Maryland,
USA:

1. We may have to live with C19 for months or years. Let’s not deny it or panic. Let’s not make our lives useless. Let’s learn to live with this fact.

2. You can’t destroy C19 viruses that have penetrated cell walls, drinking gallons of hot water – you’ll just go to the bathroom more often.

3. Washing hands and maintaining a
two-metre physical distance is the best method for your protection.

4. If you don’t have a C19 patient at home, there’s no need to disinfect the surfaces at your house.

5. Packaged cargo, gas pumps, shopping carts and ATMs do not cause infection.
Wash your hands, live your life as usual.

6. C19 is not a food infection. It is associated with drops of infection like the ‘flu. There is no demonstrated risk that C19 is transmitted by ordering food.

7. You can lose your sense of smell with a lot of allergies and viral infections. This is only a non-specific symptom of C19.

8. Once at home, you don’t need to change your clothes urgently and go shower!
Purity is a virtue, paranoia is not!

9. The C19 virus doesn’t hang in the air. This is a respiratory droplet infection that requires close contact.

10. The air is clean, you can walk through the gardens (just keeping your physical protection distance), through parks.

11. It is sufficient to use normal soap against C19, not antibacterial soap. This is a virus, not a bacteria.

12. You don’t have to worry about your food orders. But you can heat it all up in the microwave, if you wish.

13. The chances of bringing C19 home with your shoes is like being struck by lightning twice in a day. I’ve been working against viruses for 20 years – drop infections don’t spread like that!

14. You can’t be protected from the virus by taking vinegar, sugarcane juice and ginger! These are for immunity not a cure.

15. Wearing a mask for long periods interferes with your breathing and oxygen levels. Wear it only in crowds.

16. Wearing gloves is also a bad idea; the virus can accumulate into the glove and be easily transmitted if you touch your face. Better just to wash your hands regularly.

17. Immunity is greatly weakened by always staying in a sterile environment. Even if you eat immunity boosting foods, please go out of your house regularly to any park/beach.
Immunity is increased by EXPOSURE TO PATHOGENS, not by sitting at home and consuming fried/spicy/sugary food and aerated drinks.

Is Covid-19 the end of Handshakes?

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

The earliest handshake in recorded history is on an antique mural stored at the British Museum dated the 9th century BC. It depicts the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III sealing an agreement with a Babylonian monarch. Are handshakes really necessary? A firm one looking at the other party eyeball to eyeball conveys fidelity and even when necessary signifies apology. A handshake formalizes a relationship either business, casual or even political.

A handshake is a form of non verbal communication; that says this is whom I am.
“The handshake has existed in some form or another for thousands of years, but its origins are somewhat murky. One popular theory is that the gesture began as a way of conveying peaceful intentions. By extending their empty right hands, strangers could show that they were not holding weapons and bore no ill will toward one another.

Some even suggest that the up-and-down motion of the handshake was supposed to dislodge any knives or daggers that might be hidden up a sleeve. Yet another explanation is that the handshake was a symbol of good faith when making an oath or promise. When they clasped hands, people showed that their word was a sacred bond.”
In medieval Japan they didn’t shake hands. Rather they “pissed together” by simultaneously urinating into a bowl.

Meanwhile, Indians taught the world the type of gesture with which Donald Trump welcomed the Irish Prime Minister to the White House on March 12, 2020. Israel’s Netenyahu, Canada’s Trudeau and the Prince of Wales are also acolytes of that hand shake equivalent called Namatse “derived from the Sanskrit language, formed by joining two words – ‘Namas’ which means ‘bow’, ‘adorations’, ‘obeisance’ and ‘salutation’; and ‘te’ means ‘to you’. Therefore, meaning ‘bowing to you’.”

Did we shake hands before the coming of the European conquest? I have my doubts because the Arabs that arrived long before Oyibo through the Trans Saharan Trade, kiss on both cheeks as a form of greeting. The use of handshaking was made a religious ritual during the celebration of the Eucharist by the Roman Catholic Church known as the “exchange of peace”

Nigeria’s most famous handshake was between General Yakubu Gowon and the erstwhile Head of State of Biafra, Col Phillip Effiong that took place in the council chambers at Dodan Barracks on January 15, 1970. Their handshake ended a bitter 30 month unneccesary war between brothers which genuinely ended with “No victor, no vanquished” Little wonder the 70s were Nigeria’s most prosperous years. No Nigerian leader has replicated the unusual candor of the Gowonian days with the notable exemption of the architect of the Niger Delta Amnesty – Umar Musa Yar’adua of blessed memory.

I particularly find the handshake between Israeli leader Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat iconic. It was to formalize the Camp David agreement after 30 years of hostility between the Arab world and Jews which returned Egypt’s Suez region and part of the Golan Heights to Syria that took place at the Rose Garden of White House in 1977 during the adminstration of Jimmy Carter. Another unforgettable handshake was between Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk signifying the end of the atrocious era of Apartheid and the beginning of Black majority rule in South Africa.

Interestingly, in the traditional core North you don’t shake hands with your seniors or women. However, when Lt Col Hassan Usman Katsina became the military governor of the North (now 19 states) he embarked on a region wide tour. On getting to Katsina where his polo playing dad, Usman Nagogo MBE was emir he was compelled to shake hands as protocol dictated. Reportedly, the governor’s twin brother Hussein, then a ranking title holder went viral on the “sacrilege” During the IBB era, Margaret Thatcher touched down in Kano during her state visit before proceeding to Lagos. Her handshake with Emir Ado Bayero caused no small consternation back then.

To whom it may concern; with the Covid-19 pandemic please do not be offended if I refuse to shake hands with you when next we meet. No offence intended as I don’t carry any knife up my sleeve. Doing a Namatse doesn’t make you Hindu nor Buddhist. The world is now a global village. Besides keeping safe in a time of Covid-19 is paramount!

WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT: Covid19

Author Unknown …

I heard that we are in the same boat. But it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship can be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa. For some, quarantine is optimal: moment of reflection, of re-connection. Easy, in flip flops, with a whiskey or tea.

For others, this is a desperate crisis. For others it is facing loneliness. For some, a peace, rest time, vacation.

Yet for others, Torture: How am I going to pay my bills?
Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (this year there were no rich chocolates).

Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their “home office” .

Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some want to go back to work because they are running out of money.

Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks. Others to escape. Others criticize the government for the lines.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don’t even believe this is a big deal. Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020.
Others say the worse is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.
And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm.

Some with a tan from their pool. Others with scars on the soul (for invisible reasons). It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more than looking, seeing.

See beyond the political party, beyond religion, beyond the nose on your face.
Do not underestimate the pain of others if you do not feel it.

Do not judge the good life of the other, do not condemn the bad life of the other. Don’t be a judge. Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him.

We are on different ships looking to survive. Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.

Be safe and Help others to be safe…LIFE is Important.

Nigeria at the mercy of quacks

Many Nigerians; including this writer, embark on self medication because our health care delivery system is grossly inadequate and therefore not economically convenient. And since a generality of Nigerians are not covered by form of Health Insurance, water will always find its level with precarious alternative of Bush Doctors in neighborhood “chemists” and on commercial buses. Others parade markets and other public places some with loudspeakers hawking various concoctions.

The WHO considers 1 doctor per 1000 persons “insufficient” but in Nigeria it is 1 doctor per 4222 persons according to the National Population Commission.
I do not know which part of the moon Dr Chris Ngige lives on because according to him;

“We have more than enough doctors. You can quote me. We have surplus. If you have surplus, you export. There is nothing wrong in them travelling out. When they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here.”

This was the Labour minister’s response that was broadcast by Channels TV on April 24, 2019 when he was queried about the mass exodus of medical professionals from Nigeria. Ngige’s position clearly contradicts that of his erstwhile colleague on the Federal Executive Council, former Health minister, Prof Isaac Adewole who had previously in May 2018 declared at a conference of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) that they were 88,692 registered doctors in Nigeria out which only 45,000 were practicing in Nigeria – the rest abroad. This simply means in reality there is about 1 doctor per 8000 persons in Nigeria. I nevertheless humbly stand to be corrected.

According to the register of General Medical Council there were 5250 Nigerian doctors practicing in UK as at 2017. However, in 2018 the number had risen to 6289. An increase of more than 1000 in just one year! Interestingly, that represents a third of a total of 3230 doctors graduated by the 32 medical faculties in Nigeria out of a total of 174 NUC approved universities in Nigeria.

Nigerian doctors and other medical professionals understandably flee abroad for more renumeration and better working conditions. Let us not talk about lack of patriotism because we all know how impossible it is to get admission to either read medicine or pharmacy in Nigeria.

The topic of conversation should be why is our nation not investing in medical education. For instance, in the North West geopolitical zone only ABU, BUK and Sokoto have the capacity to produce 120,100 and 100 doctors respectively based on the approved quota for 2018 by the Medical & Dental Council of Nigeria. In the entire North East only UniMaid has the quota to produce 150 doctors. The highest quota in Nigeria of 180 is allocated to University of Ibadan. The lowest of 50 is allocated to the 5 partially accredited medical schools that include that of Benue State University headed by my good friend Prof Linus Saalu. In overall context out of the 32 medical faculties in Nigeria only 8 are in the North out of which 6 are federal owned (Unijos, Unilorin, Unimaid, UDUS, ABU, BUK) then that of Benue state as earlier mentioned and the ECWA owned Bingham University, Karu in Nasarawa state.

How has the preponderance of political appointments to the North alleviated health care delivery for the Talakawa in Nigeria’s must densely population region that produces only 15 dental surgeons annually out of a national turnout of 175?
What is the way forward? But before answering let us look at the number of pharmacists of which the following report speaks volumes;

“The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has expressed fear on the rising number of pharmacists who are emigrating from Nigeria to seek for a “better life abroad.”

Speaking with press men at the commencement ceremony of the Pharmacy Week 2019, Chairman of PSN, Oyo State chapter, Abiodun Ajibade, said: “Pharmacists population in Nigeria is very low, this is in spite of the great potentials for growth occasioned by continuous emigration of Pharmacists whom Nigeria has spent heavily to train as a result of poor practice environment.” According to Ajibade, “Out of less than 30,000 total population of practicing Pharmacists in Nigerian, over five thousand of them have gone outside the country.”

According to a post on Bloomberg.com entitled Trapped by Coronavirus, Nigerian Elite Faces Squalid Hospitals dated April 2, 2020 there are 180,709 registered nurses and 0.5% hospital beds per 1000 persons in Nigeria. But more disturbing than this is the report by Inspire Nurses Network Africa, an NGO, that “90 per cent of Nigerian Nurses lacked basic life support skills on emergency care.”

The way forward is obvious; the cost of running our democracy must be reduced starting with the National Assembly. As long as state governors and LG chair persons are not held accountable on “security votes” Nigerians will continue to be at the mercy of (Quacks) Bush Doctors!

On Religious Tolerance: From the Archive

By Abba Kyari: 12 January 2014.

(Sent: Sunday, January 12, 2014, 9:29:03 AM GMT+1)

Subject: Re: Religious Tolerance:

The centrality of religious identity in our society in the last two decades or so, fills me with grief, in a society where people lived together and socialised together.

Two Friday’s ago, I was in Wusasa for the funeral service of late Mrs Yarbaba Baikie, wife of Prof Adamu Baikie. The service was attended by both Christians and Muslims.Mrs Baikie, a Hausa from Kano was the only Christian in her family. Every Easter and every Christmas, her Muslim relatives will come to Zaria and join in the celebrations. Every Eid–twice a year too– she and her family will travel to Kano for the celebrations. That has been the practise until she died.

If you visited the Baikie household during the period of mourning, you will not fail to notice the age old practice of living together and socialising together. Not even Jerry Gana could tell who is a Christian and who is a Muslim, apart from the people he knows.

I attended St Paul’s College, Wusasa. It was an Anglican Mission secondary school but was 75% grant aided by the Northern Nigerian government without any interference in its running. It was an Anglican school.

Although the majority of the students were Christians, there were a few Muslims too. That was never an issue, we were all students, majority of us never knew who came from where. It was only last year when I went to Lokoja for the funeral service of a classmate’s mother that I discovered one of our classmates is from Edo state-47 years later.

In form one, when I chose to take Bible knowledge, I was denied, because it would not look like my voluntary choice. It was only in form three that i was allowed. Every morning, all the Muslims stayed out in an adjacent classroom during the morning mass before we were allowed into to the hall for general assembly. Every Sunday during service all the Muslim students must attend Muslim students meeting. Every Friday all the Muslims students are gathered and put in the the school van and driven to the juma’a mosque in Zaria City.

Every Ramadan Muslim students were woken at 3 am for sahur, for a freshly cooked meal and not leftovers. In my five years, we had two Head Boys who were Muslims. In all our social activities religion was NEVER an issue. It is only against the backdrop of what is happening today that one is recounting these examples, then they meant nothing.

About 22 years ago, I was the best man at a wedding in Owo between an Ibo catholic and Yoruba Anglican. It was not an issue. I am the godfather to the first son of that union.

The religion that is ‘dividing’ our communities, is not the religion of God, it is the religion of Nigerians, it is the religion mammon. It is all about fight for political and economic space by a very few people,creating chaos and bloodshed.

©Abba Kyari: 2014

The Mouse lives still

You probably have heard or read this story before. I just saw it again recently & it suddenly had a whole new meaning under the present circumstances.

Bear with me a while & read it fully yet again, so you can appreciate my cute Covid19 ending.

Enjoy!!

“A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer & his wife open a package. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

“”The chicken clucked, scratched & said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is of grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered.”

“The mouse turned to the goat and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The goat sympathized, but said, “I am sorry Mr. Mouse, there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

“The mouse turned to the cow & said “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s none of my concern.” So, the mouse returned to the house dejectedly to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

“That same night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

“The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital & she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you aid a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his knife to the farm house for the soup’s main ingredient.

“But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends & neighbours came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the goat.

“Finally, the farmer’s wife died.
So many people came for her funeral & the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

“The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.”

The morale of the story;

Next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

The characters;

Mouse: Common Citizen

Crack in the wall: Ghetto

Farmer: China

Package: Wuhan

Darkness: Covidiots

Snake: Police

Farmer’s wife: Expatriates

Chicken: Hospitals

Goat: Chloroquine

Cow: Celebrities

Knife: Government

Neighbors: Social Media

Friends: Press

Chicken soup: Lemon

Funeral: Anarchy

Farm house: Quarantine

Mouse trap: Covid19

IN CONCLUSION

What’s remarkable about this story is how anyone can make their own completely different list of appropriate characters.

My wife, daughter in-law & niece had their own very scary list…

Trust women! 🤦‍♂️

Check out their own choice of characters;

Mouse: Life

Crack in the wall: Hospital

Farmer: Virus

Package: Covid19

Darkness: Conspiracy theories

Snake: Unprepared Authorities

Farmer’s wife: Wuhan

Chicken: Asia

Goat: Europe & America

Cow: Africa

Knife: Death

Neighbors: Social Media

Friends: Sports

Chicken soup: Chloroquine

Funeral: New world order

Farm house: Social Gatherings

Mouse trap: lockdown

😂😂😂😂
There is hidden mockery in their “Friends – for Sports” choice, it’s directed at me & my son.

They actually enjoy that there is no football now & like the troubled are always asked “Where are your friends now?” They mean actually mean, “Where is your sports now?”

Their ‘Cow – Africa’ scare the shit out of me.

We’ve had our serious laugh, now it’s your turn to make others laugh, ponder & wonder.

This pandemic is everybody’s battle!

Let’s work together and defeat this virus.

#StayHome
#StaySafe.

Both Sides of Abba Kyari

By Remi Oyeyemi & Simon Kolawole

SPEAKING ILL OF THE DEAD

By Remi Oyeyemi

“The evil that men do live after them.” — William Shakespare

I am aware that this is breaking with the conventional wisdom. I am conscious that this is a rebuke of tradition. I am not oblivious to the fact that it is against the norm. I am not unaware that this is not in tune with the mainstream. I am aware some would loath me for it. Some would deride me. Others would call me names. Those who really never liked my guts, would have this reinforced it for them. But those who have the objective ability to see things the way they are and are able to call them as exactly as they should, would see some sense in this.

The idea of not speaking ill of the dead is not a good idea, especially if the dead person did nothing deserving of praise. The idea of praising the dead, regardless if the dead, during his or her life was mean spirited, greedy, selfish, inconsiderate, odiously acquisitive, ruthless and disdainful, is totally unacceptable. It is wrong and should be done away with. We should be able to say exactly what kind of person someone was during his or her life.

I have been reading in the media unbelievable eulogies about the late Chief of Staff to President Mohammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari. I have been reading some hypocritical praise – singing of this man who, to many Nigerians who celebrated his infliction a couple of weeks back, was no less a monster, because he has become the casualty of the Coronavirus 19. I have read from those who hated him saying embarrassingly ‘nice’ things about him. What a fraud. What a dishonesty.

It is a sad day when people cascade into casual casuistry with unbridled audacity. It is an act of deliberate undermining of the societal values to heap praises on someone whose remains ought to be used to cast away evils from the entire society. To project a mean – spirited public office holder as a saint when he is not, is a sin in itself.

I take serious objection to the rain of praise that has been raining down on the corpse of the late Abba Kyari. Though, this is a matter of choice to which we are all entitled depending on the way we see it. In my own view, Kyari is not deserving of any praise whatsoever. It is alright for President Buhari to cry himself hoarse. Kyari was his Chief of Staff and his relative. It is okay for his goons in Aso Rock, his partners in crime to weep without end. It is okay for those who are beneficiaries of his corrupt practices, his impunities to gnash their teeth to numb. It is their loss. His immediate and extended family members reserve the inalienable rights to mourn him infinitely and indefinitely.

I also believe that it is alright for the rest of us who are victims of the first family and their collaborators in Aso Rock, to acknowledge the loss of a soul, not because of any other reason other than the fact that we are all human beings. And this is where it ought to end. No more, no less.

For those who are Buhari’s sycophants and who still hope to benefit from the misery he is visiting on Nigeria, it might be acceptable to them to shed their crocodile tears even if they really did not like the man when he was alive. They are welcome to do so.

Here is a man, who never got a single vote, whether rigged or not, from the Nigerian people, but who hijacked the executive powers of the Presidency. He held Nigeria and Nigerians to ransom since 2015. He rode roughshod over the people of this country. He appropriated all the appurtenances of power for his personal idiosyncrasies.

Abba Kyari never cared. He never gave a damn. Yes, he did not give a damn how many Nigerians died. He did not care how many Nigerians went hungry. He did not care how much injustice was perpetrated. He did not give a damn how many innocent Nigerians were murdered. He did not give a damn how many Nigerians were chased off their ancestral lands. He did not care how many of our daughters were raped. He did not give a damn how many were maimed by his tribesmen.

He was a perniciously greedy soul. He was remorseless in his ways. The 500 million naira bribe he took from the MTN was emblematic of his innate rapacity. It was emblematic of his bloated edacity. He appointed himself to the Board of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). It was the first time in the History of Nigeria for an incumbent Chief of Staff. It was against the norm of decency and restraint. It was impunity at its worst.

Kyari relentlessly harassed the Vice President, licentiously anchoring Professor Osinbajo’s deliberate disempowerment. He unabashedly intimidated the Ministers and prevented them from meaningful collaboration with the man who appointed them, or whom he helped appointed. With a mien akin to that of a dove, he was a heinous hawk, a vicious vulture that is egregious and atrocious in its debauchery and cupidity.

He was mindless and mean. He was cruel and cold. He was crude and callous. His greed was congenital. His insouciance encrypted his guiled mendacity. He was hung up on power hunkering. He had disdain for the rules. Like his principal, Buhari, he believed and acted above the law. His arrogance was horrifying. His condescension, sardonically sickening in the way and manner he exercised unmerited power.

Yes, the idea of not speaking ill of the dead is a VERY WRONG one, especially if that dead person never did anything to deserve it. If this practice was to continue, it means every criminal in our midst should look forward to being praised after he/she was dead regardless of the crimes committed. This would also mean a genuine disincentive for those who strive to do positive things and improve their communities.

It is very important to ensure that dead people’s memories be imbued with their acts of omissions and commissions when they were alive. It is an act of injustice to arrogate false achievements, fake qualities to monstrous figures more notorious for their kleptomania as they gallivant through the inner rooms of power.

Hopefully, when I die, people would have the unburnished courage to say exactly what they feel about me and not deodorize my omissions and imperfections. Hopefully, those who would feel the need to mourn me would not see the need to be hypocritical and dishonest in their elegies.

In all this, what became clearer is the vanity of vanity itself. It brought to the fore the cliché popularized by the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State in the early 1980s, “,,, vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.” It underscores the ephemeralness of not just power, but of all things that are human, except our deeds. This probably informed William Shakespeare’s ageless rumination captured in the phrase, ” The evil that men do live after them.”

We should not praise villains when they are dead. It is a great disincentive to those who laboured to be above board and did the right thing. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to like me. Please, don’t like me, just respect the truth.

“The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.” – Pope Francis

Lies never last, History never dies and the TRUTH is always constant.

©Remi Oyeyemi

Now for the other side of the divide….

____ ______ ______ ______

Now That Abba Kyari is Dead

By Simon Kolawole

April 19, 2020

On January 18, 2020, when I first read of the new coronavirus on the BBC website, my heart missed a beat because of what China means to the world. The headline was: “New virus in China ‘will have infected hundreds’.” And these were the opening paragraphs: “The number of people already infected by the mystery virus emerging in China is far greater than official figures suggest, scientists have told the BBC. There have been more than 60 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but UK experts estimate a figure nearer 1,700. Two people are known to have died from the respiratory illness, which appeared in Wuhan city in December.” I feared for Nigeria in particular.

After reading the story, I immediately sent a link to Mallam Abba Kyari, chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, with the note: “Good afternoon Mallam. We need to watch it.” How on earth would I have known that exactly three months later, Kyari would be gone, consumed by the same virus? At the time, as the BBC reported, there were only two deaths from the coronavirus disease in the world — and both were in Wuhan. It had not been declared a pandemic by WHO. No other country had recorded any case. It looked so distant that I was even asking myself: “What do you want the chief of staff to do about it?” The whole experience now looks surreal to me.

We regularly exchanged chats and compared notes as the virus began to cause more concern across the world. Shortly after Nigeria recorded its index case — an Italian — on February 27, he finally began to express his worries to me. Let me reproduce his chat in whole: “How many intensive care units do we have ready to admit acute cases? How quickly can we increase the numbers if the virus spreads? How many nurses do we have to deploy immediately and how quickly can we increase the numbers? How many ventilators do we have and how many should we ideally have and how quickly can we increase the numbers?” He said these were his own concerns.

Along the line, Buhari directed Kyari to lead a government delegation to Germany to discuss with Siemens about power infrastructure in Nigeria. The discussions were on how to improve the national grid, which is one of the biggest problems of the power sector. They also discussed building additional plants to improve generation. After the discussions in Germany, he travelled back to Nigeria via the UK. On the weekend of March 21, he was involved in a series of meetings on measures to manage the COVID-19 outbreak.

He was said to have coughed frequently, leading to suggestions that he should run a test since he just returned from Europe.
For the record, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had not officially classified Germany and UK as red zones requiring self-isolation as at the time he returned to the country. He was in Germany and the UK from March 8 to 12, and arrived Abuja on March 13. NCDC designated Germany as “high risk” on March 16 and added the UK to the list on March 17. When the result of his test came out on Monday, March 23, he sent me a message that he had tested positive and was going on self-isolation immediately. I was shattered, shattered because I knew he had an underlying medical condition, but hopeful because his symptoms looked mild: just the cough.

While he was on self-isolation, we had regular phone calls. I normally would call him on WhatsApp voice but he would switch to video and I knew why: he wanted to prove to me that his life was not in danger. He knew I was really worried for him. Rumour was all over the internet that he was on a ventilator, that he was at Gwagwalada Hospital, that he had been flown to the UK or Cuba. Ironically, he was not bothered about the rumours. He did not sound bitter. He was even forwarding them to me and we would share a laugh. He said he was more interested in the goodwill messages he was getting. We still don’t know if he caught the virus in Germany, UK, on a flight or in Nigeria.

On March 29, something happened that got me worried again: he was not picking his calls. I later understood that the cough had worsened and he could not use the regular syrups because they contain sugar. That made his treatment more complicated. He later sent me a message that he was coming to Lagos for further checks and observation, and that the cough was not getting better. That was the last time we exchanged messages or made contact. As soon as he got to Lagos, all messages to his phone went unread. I had to rely on family members and friends to get updates and the impression I got was that he was getting better but the recovery was slow.

In the meantime, he was getting bashed all over the internet. His “death” or “removal” was regularly announced on Twitter or Instagram. But I was assured that, indeed, he was getting better with “encouraging signs”. As of 5pm on Friday, the message I got was that he was “much better” but the doctors were being “cautious”. A few hours later, Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, tweeted that Kyari had passed away. It was most devastating. What began with mild to moderate symptoms had gone out of hand. I understand that COVID-19 kills many patients that way: when you think it is all over, like it’s one step away from the worst, there comes a sudden lethal blow.

Some people have been rejoicing since Kyari tested positive for the virus. The gloating has been massive. Some are not even satisfied that he is dead. They wish they could kill the dead body as well and desecrate his grave. They are all over the social media denigrating the dead. They have their reasons, I believe. I know for sure that the mortal hatred for Buhari was extended to him, so even in death they can’t leave him alone. They said he was Nigeria’s biggest problem. He was to blame for everything that was not going well in the country. Now that Kyari is dead, I am anxiously waiting for all Nigeria’s problems to be solved finally. It would be a thing of joy.

Some said they hated Kyari because he was the one responsible for the relegation of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the power structure. Now that Kyari is dead, let us see what happens next. Some people told me Kyari is a “usurper” — that nobody voted for him yet he was the one “running” Nigeria. Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd), the national security adviser, wrote a stinging memo last year accusing Kyari of overriding presidential powers and preventing him from buying arms and ammunition for the military. Now that Kyari is dead, let us see what happens next. My understanding of power is that you can only be as powerful as the president wants you to be.

My biggest disappointment with Kyari is that he refused to tell his story. When he was accused of taking a bribe from MTN, he explained to me how he opposed the reduction of the $5.2 billion fine, how he was excluded from the resolution committee because of his stand, and how some people met in Dubai and drafted a position paper that formed 80 percent of the final settlement agreement. He said he didn’t know if anybody took bribe, but he was not part of it and his conscience was clear to God. So why not grant an interview to clear your name? His reply: “My boss knows I will never betray his trust. I don’t need to defend myself.” And there is no counter narrative till today.

Anytime a serious allegation, especially of corruption, was levelled against him, I would put him on the spot. He would explain every detail and tell me who was behind the allegation and why they were after him. I would say: “Okay, Mallam, can we publish?” In the most frustrating manner, he would reply: “No. I’m only explaining this for you to know the correct facts. I’m not asking you to defend me. But even if you want to defend me during arguments or discussions, I want you to do it on the basis of facts, not emotions.” I once told him in despair: “It is not about you alone, Mallam! I worry about the stigma your children will carry for life.” He could not be bothered.

Clearly, there was a well-oiled campaign against him basically because of the allegation that he “usurped” power. On his own, at times, he would forward links to the damaging stories to me. “Simon,” he would say, “don’t forget that I was once an editor. There is a difference between investigative journalism and planted stories. These are planted stories.” The narration of everything that went wrong in Buhari’s government was constructed to put the blame at Kyari’s doorstep. He was definitely not a saint but I know that when one person is being blamed for every wrong, there is certainly an orchestrated agenda at play. I have been a journalist for 27 years of my life.

I knew Kyari closely for 10 years. He was a simple man, deeply intellectual and not one to run away from enforcing the rules. We argued frequently, particularly on economic policy which was his major area of interest. He regularly bought me books on economics and sociology. He often invited me for lunch or dinner anytime he was in London and all we discussed was Nigeria and the development challenge. He was very passionate about infrastructure and industrialisation. But he always kept quiet on damaging media reports against him. Maybe that is what chiefs of staff do: take the bullets for their bosses and go to their graves with all the secrets. Adieu, Mallam.

© Simon Kolawole