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Service in Leadership: Like Tim Fargo, Like Yemi Osinbajo

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By Oluwafemi Popoola

“Holding political office is more of an opportunity to serve and positively, impact the lives of millions of people, rather than the prestige that comes with the position.” Those, were in part, the words of Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the launch of a book titled: “Deputising and Governance in Nigeria” authored by the Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

At the event in Abuja, on Tuesday, (25 October), the Vice President articulated the significance of dedication, loyalty and service in political office on governance. For Osinbajo benefiting humanity and making a difference in politics is of utmost importance. Here comes to mind the success story of Tim Fargo, a successful American author, keynote speaker, angel investor and entrepreneur, who once said, “Leadership is service, not position.” Great minds, they say, think alike. So, we can say like Osinbajo, like Fargo.

Tim Fargo and Yemi Osinbajo may have chosen different career paths, but definitely, intertwined in thoughts and ideas. While the former is a business tycoon and writer, the latter is a law professor, a seasoned teacher and a most refined politician. But it seems both are driven by the same political microscope relating to governance. Great minds are identical in thoughts, deeds and what drives them.

Similarly, speaking about true service in the context of the present political reality in Nigeria, it is hard to think of someone that has demonstrated that principle in this government other than the current Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

The VP has been pivotal and more influential in this administration than any other public servant. Sure, there are a lot of performers in the Buhari government, some of whom have done very well in their respective ministries, departments and agencies, either as cabinet members or heads of parastatals. For example, the minister of works, Babatunde Fashola and the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, likewise a few others have made their mark in this government.

They all deserve the praise singing they enjoy. But what makes Osinbajo unique is his commitment to excellence through hard work and dedication. The rarity of this special quality in an average Nigerian politician sets him miles apart from his peers and even his predecessors. Osinbajo is a complete embodiment of values, service and dedication to the people. This and more are some of the reasons most Nigerians love their Vice President.

In the past few years either as Vice President or as a member of the human family, Osinbajo has championed different kinds of programmes, policies and projects that have been transformational and have impacted millions of lives.

Outside political offices, Prof Osinbajo has launched dozens of initiatives to help the poor and downtrodden get access to education. To achieve this, he launched the Liberty Schools Project which provides free education for the poor and needy children in poor communities in Obanikoro, Ikeja and Makoko areas in Lagos State. The project has been commended by multiple international organizations as impactful and efficient. Not to talk of other initiatives like free health care facilities, free legal services and social rehabilitation for the poor he helped facilitate as a private citizen. This is a service to humanity.

Under the Buhari administration, with the National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP), established in 2016 and regarded as the largest social welfare in Africa, which Vice President helped to supervise, he profoundly handled the Niger-Delta crisis debacle resulting in the Ogoni clean-up breakthrough, the sack of the then all-powerful Department of State Services (DSS) boss, Lawal Daura, he initiated for violating the sanctity of the National Assembly, the preservation of the Rule of Law, the Economic Sustainability Plan he designed for post-COVID-19 economy recovery that got Nigeria out of recession amongst others, which are his critical interventions in government, would be the highlights of his legacy when he leaves office on May 29, 2023.

Prof Osinbajo’s undiluted loyalty to his boss, President Buhari has also been nationally applauded as rare under this dispensation. Still, Vice President Osinbajo is not a self-serving public servant nor an aggressively ambitious politician. He is simply just being Yemi Osinbajo, a model of excellence for young ‘folks’ and also a change agent in the lives of Nigerians
Above all, VP Osinbajo is a 21st-century leader and statesman. When he leaves office, he would be leaving with a generational legacy of service, compassion and dedication to the people. He would leave us all with the audacity of hope.

Popoola, a political analyst and journalist writes from Ibadan, South West, Nigeria

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The Darts, The Arrows, Obasanjo’s Epitaph

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The man, Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Mathew Obasanjo, a retired army General, Military Head of State, Executive President, by now ought to be an acknowledged, respected statesman. But sadly, he is not. And, perhaps, he may never be. At an obscurely advanced age of plus or minus ninety, he surely has lost huge pounds of honour, integrity, believability and respect. Sadly, he is mostly feared, but never respected, neither by peers, colleagues, children, family members and even wives. Now, once again, as oftener than not, another rumbling has erupted within his inner family, against him. First was the first son, Gbenga’s concupiscence allegation, then the abrasive letter from the first daughter, Iyabo, now it is an embattled spouse, Taiwo, that is firing darts from all angles.

The man Obasanjo, is a man of many first in the contemporary history of Nigeria. But the aftermath mismanagement of the goodwill and honour that follow such attainments is the major area the chroniclers of history may not be kind with him. Obasanjo, as the Military Head of State had the luxury of conducting the first transition to democracy election. But he failed the litmus test of integrity and honour. His statement, just only two weeks to the August 11, 1979, general elections that the best candidate may not win the coming election, certainly took the wind out of the smooth sail of that transition ship. He supervised a most rancorous election and transition of power from military to civilian ever witnessed in the annals of electoral contests in Nigeria.

The election, keenly contested by the five political parties of National Party of Nigeria, (NPN) that fielded Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) that fielded Pa Obafemi Awolowo, the Nigeria peoples Party represented by Dr Nnamid Azikwe, the Great Nigeria peoples Party of Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim and the Peoples Redemption Party of Mallam Aminu Kano, at best failed to produced a winner by the oft amended Electoral Decree 1978. The Decree was haphazardly amended just two weeks before the first round of the elections. In the presidential election, Alhaji Shehu Shagari of NPN polled 5,688,857 million votes, Pa Obafemi Awolowo of UPN followed closely with 4,916,651 million votes, Dr Nnamid Azikwe trailed with 2,822,523 million votes, while Mallam Aminu Kano of PRP polled 1,723,113 million votes, leaving Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim of GNPP at the rear with 1,686,483,113 million votes. To be declared the winner, the winner must secured 25% in two-third of the nineteen States. NPN made the 25% mark in only twelve States, UPN made it in six States, while NPP made it in three States. Both GNPP and PRP made it in three and wo States each. Yet the national electoral authority, known then as the Federal Electoral Commission, (FEDECO), went ahead, apparently with Obasanjo bearing down heavily on Hon. Justice Ovie Whisky’s throat, went ahead and declared the NPN candidate, Alhaji Shehu Shagri the winner. The nation was stunned.

Awolowo, in a jiffy, approached the Court of Appeal, urging the Court to look at the conditions set out in the Electoral Law and guidelines for the declaration of the winner of the presidential election. The old man had argued that twelve cannot be equal to the two-third of nineteen. Strangely, the court upheld the argument that there was a two-third of a State, hence the formular twelve two-third. The case went to the apex court in the country. At the Supreme Court, all efforts by the famous Mathematician, Professor Chike Obi and others to mathematically explained the futility in reducing a State to an arithmetical fraction, upheld the strange formular too. But the apex court added a curious caveat: the judgement should not be cited as a precedent in any court in Nigeria in the future.

It would be noted here that while the case was being most cerebrally contested at the Supreme Court, Obasanjo as the Military Head of State, had most imprudently, started the process of the inauguration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari as the first Executive President, post military administration. A lot of observers were flabbergasted by this sheer impunity and flagrant insensitivity to the letter and Spirit of the Constitution enacted and signed by him.

In 1981, a door of opportunity opened for the late Cicero, Uncle Bola Ige, as the first Executive Governor of Oyo State to dare Obasanjo and looked straight into his eyes and picked the pecks there for him to see. Obasanjo had written the first of his controversial, ego padding books, My Command, and chose Ibadan, the hot-bed of Yoruba politics, to launch it. He also by accident of fate chose the wild-mouthed Bola Ige as the Chief Launcher. Ige, a cerebral literary icon, held the book and started reminding Obasanjo how he mismanaged the goodwill, honour, integrity and believability that he could have cheaply earned had he conducted a straightforward elections in 1979. The man Obasanjo sat still watching as his friend since 1968 upbraided him ceaselessly. He could not utter a word in reply.

Perhaps, the man Obasanjo took all the salvos in Ibadan that day calmly, but went home planning a revenge. He was perhaps most happy when the Second Republic he built on quick sands fell abruptly on the eve of New Year 1984. With the new military rulers, Major General Muhammadu Buhari and Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon pledging their unalloyed loyalty to him, calling their military government an offshoots of Muritala/Obasanjo’s regime, he seemed satisfied for the padded ego. He had no problem with the duo, till the foxy Minna-born General booted them out of the Doddan Barracks. Then Obasanjo went wild again. He waited till the start of the much-hated Structural Adjustments Programme (SAP), which in all honesty was an offshoots of his regime’s belt-tightening Austerity Measures programme, to hit out at the regime. His statement of a regime lacking in a milk of human kindness reverberated all over the world.
Not long, Pa Awolowo was to passed on. His death was spontaneously and wildly celebrated across the world. Papa was venerated as a pollical saint. Obasanjo was riled with anger. He could hardly contained emotion. However, I have searched all over, I am yet to see where he commented on the death of the late sage. But deviously strategically waited for the day of the one year transition anniversary of the old man to release his egoistic literary bomb. He pushed his ill-tempered “Not My Will” out. I can still recollect Ebenezer Babatope, holding the book with hot tears streaming down his eyes, and could not say a word. It was that bad. It showed clearly the evil Spirit in Obasanjo.
Obasanjo would not limit his damage-all propensity. He went for his kinsman jugular, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, sadly, at the apogee of his popularity. If he had scolded Abiola during his wayward days, pre 1991, perhaps, not a few would have scrolled down over it and moved on. But at a time the nation had just fully accepted him, voted him massively as their next Executive President, was a bad one. Saying MKO was not the messiah clearly brought to the fore the inhuman Spirit in Obasanjo.

But soon, news started filtering out how he actively egged on the wily Minna-born General to annul the widely acclaimed free and fair election, and installed an interim administration. He ended up in the gulag of another wild hyena from Kano State, General Sani Abacha when he could not restrained his mad attachment to the seat of power.
The ex-wife, Ms Taiwo Martins needed not remind the nation, the many atrocities, or evil perfidies of Obasanjo. Gbenga, his first son was the first to alleged his sacrilegious concupiscence romances with his spouse. Baba never denied this marital desecration escapade. He simply carried on as if it was nothing unusual. Soon, Iyabo, also his first daughter once got frustrated by his constant hecklings and harassments of sitting presidents, with unnecessary letter writings, telling him: “Daddy, you do not own this country”. That he has lost value in his homestead is clearly discernible in a press statement, he sent out last week, wherein he said only one he authorised can speak for him.

This writer have experienced Baba Obasanjo inhuman mentality closely on three occasion. And all most unpalatable direct experiences. I will relate them here, as they occurred. First was the Lagos State chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries of 1991 to pick the governorship candidate. Professor Femi Agbalajobi, Chief Dapo Sarumi, Mr. Yomi Edu, Dr Tokounbo Awolowo-Dosunmu and few others had gone head-to-head into the contest. It was apparent that the battle was between Agbalajobi and Sarumi, with Edu shadows after them. Agbalajobi was declared the winner with some two thousand four hundred votes, beating Sarumi to the second position with about two hundred votes. There were controversies over some four Wards. Sarumi with the support of Ademola Adeniji-Adele, the then very popular Lagos Island Local Government Chairman, penned a petition to the National Chairman, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. The results in the four Wards were cancelled an a fresh supplementary election was ordered. The election could not hold due to widespread thuggery and violence. Sarumi now had upper hand, since a large chunks of Agbalajobi’s votes have been cancelled and deducted. There was a major crises. Obasanjo summoned them to his Otta farm house. I can still vividly recollected the figures at the meeting. Obasanjo, General Shehu Yar’adua, Agbalajobi, Sarumi, Kingibe, Baba Baruwa, the SDP’s State Chairman, and Yomi Edu. Several documents and results sheets were tendered and considered. After about three hours of back and forth argument, Obasanjo stopped further presentations. He cleared his throat, looked straight at Agbalajobi and blurted out: Femi, if I were you, I will respect the wishes of General Yar’adua. Remember he is a military General and he should get whatever he wants. The meeting ended abruptly. This is the main reason the Agbalajobi group decided to adopt Sir Micheal Otedola once the military government of another foxy general, Ibrahim Babangida, without any justifiable reasons chose to disqualified Agbalajobi and Sarumi to paved the way for Yomi Edu, the candidate of the Yar’adu’s group.

Second instance was a case involving an Administrative Judge in the Lagos State Judiciary in 2002. The erudite Judge had ruled severally against Chief Fredricks Rotimi Willaims in many of his cases before him. When we looked, the great FRA had lost seventeen of the twenty-four cases he prosecuted by this cerebrally vibrant Judge. FRA decided to exploit a legal niceties on the last ruling. The Judge had ordered the demolition of a property owned by the hotel of a client of the acclaimed foremost lawyer “forthwith”. He delivered the judgment on a Friday, signed the Order same day and by Monday, the Order was carried out. FRA was infuriated. He suddenly remembered that the Judge’s old man was his friend while alive and all that. He could not decipher why the Judge could be so emboldened to rule against him, no matter the case before him. He put up a petition to his people at the top. At a point, Obasanjo as the Executive President was alleged to have crudely remarked that “the young Judge was rude to an elder”. That ended the glowingly brilliant career of the Judge.

The third instance was the unfathomable dastardly murder of the Cicero of Esa Oke, Uncle Bola Ige. Ige was serving under his government as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice when he was gunned down in his bedroom at Bodija, Ibadan. Obasanjo refused to transparently investigate, prosecute the case till he left office. He muscled down those who wanted to protest. Manacled the investigating Police officers, led by Mrs. Bolanle Ojomo, a Deputy Inspector General. He muddled up the case before the judiciary. Some years later, a member of the investigating team told this writer that “Obasanjo can not say he wasn’t aware that Bola Ige would be killed that December 21”. Meaning, he knew Ige would take the bullets not a day before the trigger was pulled by who knows. That is the type of man Obasanjo is and at the age minus or plus ninety, nothing, absolutely nothing can change that.

His pains presently are legion, quite frankly. He lost power with the ousting of his lackey Goodluck Ebele Jonanthan. That Buhari snubbed him was simply foul-tasting for him. Then he struggled, sweated to re-push Atiku, he failed. He then jumped to Obi. The triumph of that true son of Yoruba, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has been pushing him from pillar to pillar since the conclusion of the electoral process. His is bitterly riled by the emergence of Bola Tinubu as the President. He tormented Pa Awolowo to his grave. He ensured Awo didn’t get the presidency. He picked on MKO too. Tormented that fabulously good man till he entered an untimely grave. He ensured he didn’t get the presidency. Bola Ige was cleared off the path. He too landed in his grave with his dreams. When he realized Bola Tinubu might be interested in the presidency, he quickly picked on him. But this is a wrong battle. He strenuously worked for the cancellation of the process to install another interim nonsense, he failed. He canvassed civil uprising, he failed. He threw baits at the military, he has also failed. He must vent his spleen on somebody, else he burst. Then comes the Obas and Chiefs from Oke Ogun area of Oyo State. He found a perfect setting to take his pounds of blood off the intransigent Yoruba leaders. One need to watch the full clip of the video to really analyse what transpired at the occasion. His looks when he entered the venue was sour. His carriage unsteady. Though these can be passed for his advanced age, rather than the bitterness he bottled up in his belly.

When he was called to speak, it was obvious he had nothing good to say, going by his grotesquely mean looks. Age alone should not make one look that unfathomable. “Let me say something”, he begin belligerently. Then the unnecessary rigmarole about protocol as if he was tutoring kindergarten kids. He apparently was oblivion of history. The tarts between an Alaafin of Oyo and Chief Bode Thomas is still fresh, despite the decades past. The altercation between Oba Ademuagun, Deji of Akure and Pa Obafemi Awolowo tart was still party of history. And more recently, the Obafemi Awolowo, his wife, Yeye Oba of Ile Ife and Governor Bola Ige standing up to welcome Ooni Sijuwade Olubushe to an occasion in Ibadan is also fresh. His blurting out: “E di de. E jo ko”, is an attempt to humiliate and ridicule the Obas. He knew none would antagonise him openly, if only as a mark of respect for the Governor, who he deviously claimed he was protecting. And for the discerning ex-wife, who biologically bore him two children to came out openly apologizing, she sure knows what she is doing. Obasanjo have plenty children, the woman only have two. The logic is clear if she is determined to protects her own.
There is a mix. While Obasanjo told us gleefully that the woman is unstable with a mental challenge, the woman has fired back, saying anyone Obasanjo cannot control, he seeks to destroy. The rest can be read in-between the lines.

My fear for him lies in his end. I pray he stays much longer here with us. Though, may not be as long as that of my great-great grandfather, the fabled Adebiyi Ijimagodo in Ila Orangun, who was said to have dwindled out of existence, but I wish him to stay for much longer. But when he decides to leaves, and anyhow he leaves, since as Ebora Owu, he may decide to transform into a rock, a stream, or just anything, neither will these bands of headless mobs cheering him will be there for him. He will be alone with the family he had ran ragged and forlorn. They would be the one to write his epitaphs. They will be the one to tell his story. Not the strange Charlie Boys embellishing his pitfalls. I am genuinely afraid, the man Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Mathew Obasanjo might have self-written his epitaph, well long ahead of his departure from our midst. And this may not be an easy read by the future generations in an history of contemporary Nigeria class.
Something can still be done to salvage this dire ending. A son, a daughter, who can wake him up long before dawn. Prostrating flatly before him, or kneeling down fully before him. Look straight into his eyes, and soberly tell: My Papa, how do you want people to remember you when you are gone!. This perhaps, may melt his stony heart and come out of the garment of impunity and wear the light cloth of sobriety. This act may rescue this Obasanjo from the scourge of history.

Alagba Afolayan Adebiyi is the Managing Editor of Focus Magazine Online__*. You can reach him at *babaafolayanka@gmail.com

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Yoruba Ronu Group cautions Obidients against provoking Yorubas with hate speech

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By Damisi Ojo, Akure

With the unbridled virulence of the contents of the campaign materials of the supporters of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, particularly in Yorubaland, a social-political group, Yoruba Ronu, has issued a note of caution to the Obedient Movement to stop the trend of violent and hate speeches while promoting their presidential candidate in the Southwest zone.

The group called on Mr Obi to rein in his rudderless supporters who had turned the Southwest states into an enclave of fierce opposition to the candidacy of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Prince Diran Iyantan, Chairman of Yoruba Ronu Group, a social political group fighting the cause of the Yorubas worldwide, gave the warning while speaking on the best way supporters should conduct themselves while campaigning for their candidates.

He said the warning was important going by the ways and manners Peter Obi’s supporters were going about fiercely forcing their candidate on the people of Southwest.
He said “as a social-political group fighting the cause of the Yoruba people worldwide, we can no longer condone the unwholesome attack on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu by Obi’s supporters in Lagos, other major cities in southwest and online.

He continued that “the way they’re going about this election is like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the only candidate they’re contesting against and will do anything to demean his integrity in this election.
He cautioned that “Obi’s supporters do not have any need to abuse any one, spread hate speeches or even incite people against the other.

He wondered how “Obi’s supporters would continue to demean the achievements of Asiwaju Tinubu in Lagos as if it’s not the same success stories of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State that secured Lagos and helped propel their businesses that made them see Lagos as their homes.

According to him “the question to ask them is those who voted Obi as Anambra Governor in 2007, has their future improved in 2022? Even the Obi they are forcing on us to vote for can’t even move about freely in the state he governed for 8 years. And they’re in Lagos well secured and prosperous on the benevolence of their hosts,”
Prince Iyantan added further that “let us ask those saying ‘vote Obi if you want a better future or mayhem will follow’ a question. Look at the state you live in Lagos and then look at Anambra. Which is more peaceful? Which has better roads? Which has better hospitals. Which has better infrastructure built by the state government? If the answer is not Anambra, why should you force people of the southwest to vote your candidate? He asked rhetorically.

He believed that “no matter what Peter Obi supporters say about Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at least you can truthfully say that those who voted for him as Governor of Lagos State twenty four years ago have a better future in Lagos today because of him. Can the same be said about Anambra people who voted for Obi fifteen years ago?
He urged the Obidients to “stop the hate speeches, the insults on a man who provided a secured Lagos for you, unlike your various states where a majority of you can’t even visit let alone relocate. Stop the threat and blackmail and go about this campaign in absolute conviviality by bringing the issue to the fore instead of unwholesome attack on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

He cautioned that “If these supporters refuse to renege on their unruly behaviour of wanting to turn the southwest zone to a theatre of political war of hate speeches, threats and abuse of our son, and make life difficult to the people through their disruption of peace in our region, we will respond to combat it accordingly.
“Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu is well-equipped and prepared for Nigeria presidency in 2023 and we shall stand by him to the promised land.”

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