The young man donning the uniform of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), would smile intermittently, in response to some complaints and sometimes, jibes from the crowd. It was difficult to ascertain his sentiments. Was he sympathetic or triumphant? His almost deadpan, passive and impersonal countenance didn’t seem to reveal much in that aspect.
But that wasn’t the same with the crowd surrounding him, whose sentiments and emotions were obvious, captured in either anger, disappointment, despondence or exasperation, among others. They had been guests to this same place for weeks if not months with one mission – to collect the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), the only instrument, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has made the sole certificate to access and vote in the 2023 general elections, which starts in a matter of two weeks.
But, instead of getting the vital instrument, they were being handed a different thing – a piece of paper in which was written to damning words – NF, meaning Not Found. In simple terms, it means that their PVCs could not be found, with the damning implication that they cannot vote in the election. Imagine that in Nigeria of today, a citizen being denied the opportunity to participate in deciding his fate, one that comes every four years.
But guess what! Virtually all victims involved are from one ethnic group in Nigeria – the Igbo of the South East. The central, but abiding indication suggests one official message – majority of them will not vote, at least, not in Lagos, not because they wish not to or for want of trying to fulfill all their parts towards participation in the exercise, but for official and institutional failures. Incidentally, this inculpatory development seems to be more deliberate than an accident. That is the dangerous and most painful aspect.
Incidentally, INEC, the institution at the centre of it all, had tried everything to conduce an official cover to the entire sad situation, in an attempt to explain it away. First, it was that the victims were engaged in multiple registration, which invalidated their cards. The latest after the victims debunked the allegation and before the NF development, was that those concerned transferred their PVCs from the South East, but failed to go to the right place to collect them.
But no matter the explanation adduced, the question continues to stick out like a sore thumb – why the South East? Is it only Ndigbo that do not understand the guidelines of INEC? That is the snag. How come all the victims are Igbo?
The only explanation is that there was and still is a plot to target them. The commission simply bowed to the whims and caprices of some vested interests to prevent Ndigbo from voting in Lagos, as one of the many strategies to keep power in the hands of certain people. There is no better and more credible explanation. There couldn’t have been, at least for anybody who could understand the happenings in his environment better than an imbecile.
Indeed, the conclusion that the Igbo are targets in Lagos, is not a mere conjecture. There is a foundation to it. In recent times, and current dispensation, Ndigbo have been seen as more or less a threat to the political arrangement in Lagos by the powers that be, who obviously do not want the lever of power disrupted or upturned.
In 2015, prior to the election of that year, Nigerians were assaulted with a blistering message by Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, threatening the entire Igbo race in the state that they must vote in one direction at the pain of being thrown into the lagoon. That was then. In 2019, the threat became more daring when it went physical. In many areas with a large concentration, they were physically attacked in an attempt to prevent them from voting.
Today, the story appears to be different. Nobody knows what would happen at the polls proper in the next two weeks. But even before that, the purveyors of the odious scheme, seem to have decided to switch gear by attacking the problem from the root – prevent them from getting the PVC, using INEC.
From this clear indicator, one factor is clearly discernible – the possibility of INEC delivering a credible election is now shaken from the foundation, regardless of the preachment of the commission. This obviously does not stand alone, but accompanied by other developments in recent times that give ample reason to believe that either deliberately or by default, Nigerians are not out of the woods yet in terms of determining their fate by electing their leaders through a believable, credible means.
In September last year, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), shocked Nigerians with what has now become known as the Omuma miracle, where the voters register in Omuma ward, in Oru East Local Government of Imo State, was suffused with foreign names and pictures of foreign faces and children. Till date, INEC has offered little explanation other than it would get to the root of the matter.
Months after, when the same INEC released the voters register, the problems seemed worse, when the content included not only by the foreign names, but with pictures of child-registrants, particularly in the North. Again, when confronted, no credible explanation was given, outside the fact that the register was published for claims and objections and that it was the duty of Nigerians to object to the names they were disputing, in other words, pushing the responsibility to the people, rather than doing the needful. That has been the attitude of the commission. They had always found a way of pushing back the blame for obvious failures to the people as the culprit.
Wait till the end of the election and the failure of the commission becomes clear, as it has always been. You’ll hear them absolving the commission one way or the other and pushing the blame to either the Nigerian society or politicians. It has never been different. In whatever name they are called at whatever time and for whatever reason, the Nigerian electoral umpire, has always culpable in the Nigerian conundrum of bad behaviour.
No election, since the beginning of time, ever looked totally credible, by deliberate design, rather than accident of history. Whatever contrivance they come out with, is endorsed and certified by the courts.
From the 12 – two-third majority of votes to the June 12, 1993 debacle to the days of writing results, such that an elected President, openly disowned his election to the present day of publicly disenfranchising people by sheer official policy, Nigerian electoral bodies at different times have remained an albatross in the journey to proper nationhood. Hope of a difference in the current regime, may be the greatest sin of Nigerians today. Not with the signs coming from the different INEC!
Soyinka, Obi, Tinubu: When repayment of mafia debt is inescapable
By Sunny Igboanugo
Amerigo Bonasera was a longtime friend to Vito Corleone, otherwise known as Don Corleone the alter ego of The Godfather – that Mario Puzo epic novel depicting the mafia influence of the American society. However, unlike many who had pitted their tents with the godfather, in the Italian neighbourhood, he would rather avoid him and his syndicate, because he felt the consequential backlash could rub off on his well-laid business and reputation as a law-abiding, straight American citizen. On many occasions, the godfather courted his loyalty, but he rebuffed it, feeling safe inside the protective cocoon of the American system.
But that same system failed him when his prized daughter was attacked and assaulted by his boyfriend and his friend. Maria Bonasera was not only his only daughter, but the only child and despite his fears, was the goddaughter of Carmela Corleone, the wife of Don Corleone. Kelvin Moonan, her new American boyfriend had tried to rape her after she rebuffed his sexual advances, but after succeeding in fending him off, the young man, aided by his friend, Jerry Wegner, beat her so badly and damaged her beautiful face.
Completely gutted, Bonasera, a successful owner of Funeral Parlour, did the right thing, or what he thought the right thing in America. He went to court to seek justice for his daughter. But instead of putting the rapists away, at the most for their clearly heinous crime, after finding them guilty, the judge did the unthinkable – he handed them – suspended sentence. So, the two young men walked out free from the same court leering and practically mocking him – no thanks to the powerful influence of their parents, who pulled the strings from behind.
Suspended sentence?! Bonasere had exclaimed before the godfather in whose presence he ran to seek the real justice. After chiding him for rebuffing his earlier offer of protection in preference for trust in the American system, Don Corleone accepted his request to give him justice. However, he would not accede to Bonasera’s extreme demands. He had wanted the godfather to kill the two young men. But he declined. Bonesera’s daughter was still alive. Let her attackers suffer the same way she suffered, was his own option.
Pressed further to the option of murder, offering to pay for it, he again reprimanded his kinsman for trying to lure him to commit murder, particularly on the wedding day of his daughter. “Bonasera, Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me in friendship, this scum who ruined your daughter would have been suffering this very day. And if by some chance, an honest man like yourself made enemies, they would be my enemies. And then, they would fear you,” he had emphasised?
Having agreed to help him in his own way in return for his “friendship” he had given the job to his executor to conclude. At the end of the day, the two young men were so beaten with so much damage to their faces that their parents could not recognise them. So, that was how Bonasera, who had earlier pledged his everlasting loyalty by kissing the shoes of the godfather, got justice. Nothing could have given him more excitement and satisfaction than the disfigured faces of the two boys, splashed in the newspapers the next day.
But did Bonasera not pay eventually? Of course he did. But he did in a different way, different from monetary payment. Don Corleone, had visited him at the funeral parlour, three years after. His irascible son, Sonny had been heavily disfigured by the bullets of the competitors and enemies of his mafia organisation. He wanted his Italian brother and friend to fix him to look normal and fit for presentation for an open-casket funeral. Bonasera, who was the best in the land, ought not to have touched such a job, coming from Vito Corleone, a criminal to be avoided. But he was in debt, so high a debt. Backing out was out of the question. Either by way of gratitude and conscience or by knowing the grave consequences of saying no to the godfather, he was in debt.
How apt this story to the new reality in Nigeria of today. For years, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had played the same role of Vito Corleone, though at a different level – politics. Countless Nigerians who were hurt one way or the other, found succour in him and through him.
When Muhammadu Buhari, before the end of his disastrous outing as President between 2015 and 2023, tried, or so it seemed, to shirk this obligation of playing ball after Tinubu single-handed made him President, either due to patriotism, knowing that Tinubu would probably be a worse calamity or out of mischief to hand over to another Northerner, knowing his proclivity for nepotism, he was stopped in his track. Tinubu simply reminded him where he was coming from.
He was not only quickly reminded of his debt – remember Tinubu’s Abeokuta declaration and his infamous Emilokan speech – but the enforcers moved in. They were the ones who completed the first stage of the project at the All Progressives Congress (APC) convention in Abuja, beginning with the Northern governors, who took the initiative to rally around him. Now, you might be wondering why the North with their touted unquenchable taste for power could become so amenable. Well, mafia debts are paid to the full.
Asari Dokubo, currently has a standing army ready to go to war against naysayers on his behalf. His reason: Tinubu was his patron when as the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), he was arrested and detained by the Federal Government. Tinubu fully provided for his family including a home in Victoria Garden City (VGC), one of the most glamorous areas of Lagos. Debt!
If, perhaps, you are wondering what debt Yakoub Mahmood, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who virtually threw caution out of the window by practically killing the 2023 presidential election owed, listen to Chibuike Amaechi. The former Governor of Rivers State and former Minister of Transportation, provided the answer when he told the world how his appointment came via the Tinubu camp.
So, why then would anyone be surprised about our own dear Prof. Wole Soyinka? He provided the answer to his current wacky undertaking long today before now. To every ear, he had told the story of how Tinubu and his family provided for him when he was down and out on return from exile imposed on him by former Nigerian despot, the late General Sani Abacha who went after the necks of leaders of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), of which he was one during his iron-fist reign.
He himself narrated how Remi Tinubu, the supportive wife of the former Governor of Lagos State, now President, provided him with pots and pans and other household utensils to start life anew. He also told the world how Tinubu it was that got him a letter of recommendation with which he then approached the government of Taiwan for the rice contract that supplied his daily bread. Nobody knows whether that source and the stream of income thereof has closed yet. Kongi did not tell us.
So, what would you not do for someone who fed you when you were hungry and probably saved you from the frustration of starvation and even death? Today, South Africa, despite all the threats from Europe and the US, has remained the major ally of Russia in Africa for the simple reason that the country was its bastion of struggle and hope to extricate itself from the vice grip of white man’s rule during the struggle for apartheid.
She ended well! *Echoes of testimonies, as Theresa Omolara Obu returns home in a blaze of glory
“Theresa Omolara Obu ended well. Her life ended in prayer. At the hour of her death, she received that which all Christian men and women desire, which is, pray for me now and at the hour of our death,” were the eternal words with which Father Ehi Omoragbon of St. Francis Catholic Church, Idimu, Lagos, opened his sermons on Friday September 1.
It was indeed a testimony as well as exhortation for the sea of heads of men and women, who came from far and wide, from all over Nigeria and beyond to bid farewell to the matriarch of the Mark Obu family of Umukwata Kingdom in Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State, who passed on, in Lagos, on August 9, 2023 at the age of 72.
The kaleidoscope of colours inside the massive church, which was almost filled to capacity, despite being a work day, and the almost airtight situation outside the expansive compound betrayed the telltale signs of a big event that could only be captured in superlatives, which corroborated the verdict of the priest that the tentacle of the matriarch not only spread far enough but her life touched many across the globe quite positively.
How did Father Omoragbon establish his conclusion that Ma Obu ended well and is currently resting in the bosom of the heavenly hosts? Of course, he did by simply recounting how she spread love, devoted her life and times towards humanity through her work in the church as a devoted Christian and other altruistic activities through a long career as medical personnel in the channel of saving lives. With these and other acts of kindness as a businesswoman and pro-social being, she was able to uplift the less-endowed in the society, healing many wounds physically and spiritually till her last hours.
The cleric narrated how indeed, her last days on earth were epitomised by the fountain of love that radiated around her, and how the affection which she emitted throughout her life, were returned in quantum measures by those she cared for, particularly her immediate family, who were never far from her.
This was crowned when she received the last sacraments that led her to a peaceful transition from life on earth to eternal rest – the sacrament of Extreme Unction – anointing of the sick – the desire of every Catholic and a privilege they get at their last hours.
Hear the priest: “At the hour of her passing in this life, our dear sister was not alone. The beloved husband stood with her, the church was at her side, the priests and the believers were there. And because the priests and the believers were at the side of this Christian woman, Jesus was there, because three had gathered in his name.
“And in his presence, our friend, Theresa renewed her baptismal profession and because she believed in the forgiveness of sins, she was called and she heard. She went softly to death and resurrection of Christ. May almighty God free you from all the punishments in this life and the life of the son. And after that, our dear sister was asked to be led by God into the kingdom of peace. She was admitted and she received the body of Christ. And for this beloved wife, at the hour of her death, everything was done in faith, in freedom and in love.
“Of love, this daughter of love, received and gave love, in good times, she was loved, she was loved in sickness. Her condition did not in any way make her any less loveable. The situation didn’t make her unwanted. Without counting costs, everything was done that this beloved daughter of God would live. The beloved husband and the children, who wanted to keep her were free and felt free to let her go and let the will of God be done in her life.
“Because of that freedom, we Christian men and women and church, we were free to bless her, saying, May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you and protect you, may He go before you to guide and stand behind you to give you strength. May He look upon you to keep you and bless you. Then that night, God said to this beloved daughter of us, come to me, you who have laboured and God gave this faithful servant rest from her dutiful labour – the labour of being a devoted wife, for whom being a wife was not a burden, the labour of raising children for which it was not a burden, but joy, the labour of helping God to give healing to the sick for which for her it was not a burden, but a deep source of consolation.
“With joy, she lived among women and men as a beloved daughter of God and through her somebody came to know the kindness of God. This beloved daughter with whom we gather this morning to worship for the last time on this side of life, trusted and worshipped God. Open-handedly, she gave with graciousness, she received forgiveness and she gave as well. And when the cross came, she picked up the cross and carried it with the strength of Christ. And I can stand here and testify that her living was not in vain.
“Now my brothers and sisters, in life, there are things that are vain and there are things that are meaningful. Today, let us set our eyes on things that last forever. For soon, very soon, the glories of this life will pass away and all will remain is what we did for Christ. Soon, very soon, the glory of life will pass away and only what we did for Christ will last.
“When the end comes for us as it came for our sister, she was ready. When the end comes for us, let it be said as it is said of our beloved sister, she tried and did her best to love. Let it be said, church that we tried and did the best we could to feed the hungry. And when the end comes, let it be said as it is said of our beloved daughter, let it be said of us too that we tried and did our best to love and serve humanity. When the end comes, and it will come, at an hour we do not know, church, let it be said, as it is said of our sister that we tried to do our best possible duty as we ought to.
“Our beloved sister, wife, friend, mother, grandmother, we know she was not perfect, but who is? None of us! She served and served and served again and again and again. Our friend, mother, sister a child of God was faithful. She did not deny in any way the father. She did not deny in any way even in the face of difficulty, the fidelity and the faithfulness of the Son. And at the end, I testify too that she trusted in the mercy and the forgiveness of the Holy Spirit.
“She did not deny the father, she did not deny the son, she did not deny the Holy Spirit. She was faithful and faithful all the way to the very end. So, now, let us hear what God said to the faithful servant: ‘“Welcome home. Enter into the joy of the Father.’”
Father Omoragbon, was actually not alone. His was indeed a further echo of the floodgate of testimonies that opened up from all quarters right from the outset of the news of her passing till she was finally interred, as many, whose lives she touched right from her childhood through her days as a professional nurse and as a businesswoman and leader in the church stepped forward to give account of her good life.
Pa Obu, the patriarch himself, in his tribute, had traced the beginning from their first meeting in December 1967 during a science, sent-forth party of Fatima College, Ikire in the present Osun State and how the friendship that ensued led to the tying of the nuptial knot, eight years later.
“We got introduced to each other and became friends. I cannot forget the memory of our friendship for eight years before we got married on 4th October, 1975… We sojourned together for 56 years, first as friends for eight years and marriage for 48 years,” he recounted.
The intensity, level and quality of love that existed were such that twice, she nearly blocked the patriarch, a first class engineer, astute businessman, philanthropist and community leader from taking well-deserved traditional titles, having kicked against the idea, on the ground, according to him, that it could lead him into taking other wives, who would come in-between them and mess up what they shared.
Yet, to underscore the reciprocity of the mutual affection, the titles were taken without other women showing up. Thus, it was a win-win situation, especially when that of The Knight of St. Mulumba Nigeria, a Christian equivalent came in 1997.
He continued: “She was a very lovely friend and wife. She was very honest and pious. She could be quiet and cool, but she had a very strong character, such that when she took a decision on issues, she stood by it. She could be very stubborn, but she meant good on such issues and that my inputs are always needed to take a decision. We had our disagreements on many issues, but we found ways to resolve them.”
On the homefront, particularly about the children, he added: “My wife did not like travelling. Most mothers would have taken the advantage of having children abroad to leave behind their husbands, but my wife was an exception. She preferred to talk on hours on phone daily to all of them one after the other than travel. She loved her children and grandchildren that she could sacrifice all her savings to please them. She was very faithful, honest and respectful. Even in her sickness she was still struggling to play the role of a wife and mother always asking after the welfare of everyone. She will surely be missed by all the children especially our sons who were with her all the time during her illness. We are sure you are with our Lords Jesus Christ and praying for us. Rest in peace, till we meet to part no more.”
What an emotional way of ending an epic elegy for a soulmate with whom one had shared 56 years of life, climbing the steep, slippery road, falling and pulling each other up in the trudging journey? How else could one capture such enthralling experience?
The testimonies of the children were no less revealing. From Osai Justina Ojigho, Omakolo Christiana Omotayo Ugowe, Ifeoma Gbenedio, Nwaka Obu, the daughters, to Chukwuma Tolupe Obu and Emeka Obu, the sons, through the grandchildren to the in-laws, family members, school mates, fellow workers, business partners, friends and well-wishers, who paid tributes in torrents of homage, it was clear that the words of Father Ehi Omoragbon, were in no way misplaced.
Centuries ago, the Romans wrote on their walls – vox populi vox Dei! If indeed the voice of the people is the voice of God, it then means that Theresa Omolara Obu, now has the best of the two worlds – a very positive, eventful and remarkable life on earth and now a blissful rest in heaven. What a way to END WELL!
Ogalla shakes up navy hierarchy, makes major appointments, moves officers
A major shakeup has taken place in the Nigerian Navy (NN), which saw to the movement of its top hierarchy with 56 Rear Admirals and a Commodore taking new offices, a move which has also taken place in both the Nigerian Army (NA) and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), just a week after President Bola Tinubu announced new Service Chiefs.
The development, which is coming with the assumption of Emmanuel Ogalla as the new Chief of Naval Staff, after his appointment by Tinubu, was disclosed by Naval spokesperson, Ayo Vaughan, in a statement on Thursday.
Among those affected, according to the statement, are Rear Admiral Olusanya Bankole formerly the Director of Logistics, Defence Space Administration now appointed as the Chief of Communications and Information Technology, Naval Headquarters while Rear Admiral Alexander Bingel formerly Director Combat Policy and Tactics is now the Director of Logistics, Defence Headquarters.
Others are Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu, formerly Director Project Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, Naval Headquarters now the Chief of Defence Civil Military Cooperation, Defence Headquarters while Rear Admiral Kennedy Ezete formerly Director Project Monitoring, Defence Headquarters resumes as the Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters.
The new posting, according to the statement, also affected Rear Admiral Livingstone Izu who was the Director Manning at Naval Headquarters but the new Chief of Logistics, Naval Headquarters while Rear Admiral Musa Madugu formerly Deputy Director Special Operation Forces at the Defence Headquarters now appointed as the Admiral Superintendent Naval Ordnance Depot.
Part of the statement, read: “The erstwhile Director of Innovation and Concept Development, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Daupreye Matthew is now the Director of Training, Defence Headquarters while Rear Admiral Zakariya Muhammad, the former Director of Training, Naval Headquarters has been reappointed Chief of Training and Operations.
“Rear Admiral Emmanuel Nmoyem has been reappointed Director Human Rights Desks at the Defence Headquarters while Rear Admiral Ibrahim Shettima formerly Flag Officer Commanding Central Naval Command moves to Defence Headquarters as Director of Plans.
“The former Director of Plans, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Monday Unurhiere has been appointed the Chief of Defence Administration at the Defence Headquarters while Rear Admiral Hamza Kaoje who was the Director Equipment Standardization and Harmonization, Defence Headquarters has been appointed Group Managing Director, Navy Holdings Limited.
“Rear Admiral Sulaiman El-ladan who was the Chief of Naval Engineering, Naval Headquarters is now at the Defence Research and Development Bureau at Defence Headquarters as the Director Marine Research while Rear Admiral Idi Abbas formerly Director of Operations, Naval Headquarters is now reappointed Chief of Naval Safety and Standards.
“Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi, the immediate past Director Communications at Naval Headquarters takes over as the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command while Rear Admiral Saheed Akinwande formerly the Commandant Naval War College Nigeria has been appointed Director Operations, Naval Headquarters. Rear Admiral Istifanus Albara formerly the Head ECOWAS Maritime Security Coordination Centre, Abidjan moves to Naval Headquarters as Navy Secretary while Rear Admiral Clement Atebi has been reappointed to Naval Headquarters as the Director Audit.
“Rear Admiral Samson Bura formerly Director Search and Rescue, Defence Headquarters is now the Director of Logistics at the Defence Intelligence Agency while Rear Admiral Umar Chugali formerly Director Cyber at the Defence Space Administration takes over as the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command. Rear Admiral Oluwole Fadeyi has been reappointed Director Record Returns and Analysis, Naval Headquarters, likewise Rear Admiral Olusola Oluwagbire reappointed Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command.”
September 28, 2023 5:47 pm
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