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#EndSARS: Put yourself in my shoes, I was helpless, Sanwo-Olu tells critics

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For the umpteenth time, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, defended his outing during the #EndSARS crisis that engulfed Nigeria in 2020, particularly the shooting at the Lekki Tollgate by soldiers, which reportedly claimed the lives of many youths.

The Governor of Lagos, who was a guest of The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television, told his host that there was no way he could have ordered the shooting, or had a hand in it, when he was not in command of the soldiers, who stormed the venue and allegedly carried out the shooting.

Against the backdrop of the backlash he has been getting over the matter, which has literally pitted him against a groundswell of Nigerian youths, especially in Lagos, who are holding him responsible, the governor said he had no control because the state government did not have authority over the police and the military.

Hear him: “Young people do not do roleplay and sit back to reflect on what happened. It was not a flash event. It built up for three weeks. I do not have control. I do not control the military or the police,” the governor said

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“On the question of who ordered the [Lekki shooting], who ordered the police not to listen to me when I went to Magodo the other day? Who ordered the military out for our election last Saturday? It is not in my remit or space.

“All of the people — and I am saying this for the first time on national TV — that claimed that they were either injured or affected in one form or the other, I, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have reached out to them and supported, given them jobs and empowerment and things for them to start right.

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“And that is why you do not see anybody come out during this campaign period to say ‘I was an #EndSars victim and I lost something,’ because I have taken it up and I feel that is something for me as a father and a leader to do for them, and clear this air around it.”

It was also a day the governor, took a stand on the threat being issued by some people claiming to be members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), forbidding Igbo residents from Lagos from voting any other persons than the party in the coming elections, saying such a move was quite condemnable.

Describing it as a mere flash and a dot in the Lagos spirit, he stated that the state remained the Centre of Excellence, where every Nigerian and foreigners were welcome to live, create wealth and contribute to its overall growth as a mega-city.

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His words: “Lagos is a Centre of Excellence. Indeed we’re excellent. There are things that we need to do in order to be globally competitive, one of which is making sure that Lagos continues to create opportunities for everyone in the country. For us, a Lagos that is a Centre of Excellence, must continue to speak to that excellence in every sense of it.

“It must be a place where people come in, do business, do well and they can create wealth for themselves and their families. That is our primary driver. Any other thing that comes out will be a distraction for us. It is condemnable and I totally condemn it. It is unacceptable, it is not something that any forward-looking government will want to condone.

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“The first thing is that we’re human beings and the next is that we’re Nigerians, which is a put-together that is not you or I that created it. The moment we can put that into inclusion, then next question is that if your wife is in hospital and at a point of being delivered, would she say she would need a Yoruba doctor or an Igbo doctor or you go to a hospital, would you say that you want a Yoruba bread or Igbo bread or you go to a butcher and say you need the meat cut by an Hausa man that you’re going to eat.

“For as long as those things don’t divide us, for as long as those are not the parameters with which we judge ourselves, these other lines that politics have brought, it is just supposed to be a little dot and we move away very quickly. You know, we  should not even ventilate it, we should not give it anything to hold a space in us. Those are the things which define the excellence we have and that is what we promote.”

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Soyinka, terror to dictators, face of democracy – Tinubu

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President Bola Tinubu, spared no nice words in showering accolades on Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first Nobel Laureate on Literature, extolling his democratic credentials, ending it all with the renaming of the National Theatre as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts, in honour 90th birthday of the celebrated playwright, novelist and activist.

The President’s sentiments, on Soyinka, a professor of literature, globally celebrated essayist, actor, singer, composer, and documentarian, who brought great honour to Africa and Nigeria when he won the coveted prize in 1986, was conveyed by Ajuri Ngelale, his spokesman in a statement, ahead of the birthday on Saturday, July 13.

Describing him as one of the finest minds of his generation; conforming to the highest standards of human enlightenment, but unyielding to injustice, oppression, and base impulses, Tinubu hailed his long-time friend, with whom he was in the trenches some three decades ago, during the June 12, 1993 struggle.

The statement, which stressed that Tinubu also hailed Soyinka as one of Nigeria’s living repositories of history, knowledge, and courage, and commended him for his valiant efforts in the trenches for the nation’s future both as a pro-democracy champion and as a trenchant voice against corruption and maladministration over several decades, recalled the days of the struggle.

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His words: “Our paths crossed during our just struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election. When faced with a trial in absentia and death sentence by the military regime at home, he galvanized opposition in exile through NALICON and NADECO. His global stature made him the face of our struggle to validate June 12 and restore democracy in Nigeria.”

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Wishing him many more years in good health and creative fulfilment as a global force for change, he added: “Today, I join the world to celebrate his profound influence on generations of writers, scholars, and activists who have been inspired by his work. I celebrate him for giving us the spark to fight and confront military dictators in our country.

“I am, accordingly, delighted to have the honour to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as The Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

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S’Court: No more allocations to 37 Development centres in Lagos, others  

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The 37 Local Government Development Centres (LGDC), created in Lagos in 2003, during the tenure of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as Governor of the state, may have been dealt a hard blow, as they will no longer be captured in the funding bracket of the state, going by the interpretation of Thursday’s ruling of the Supreme Court, by some legal minds.

One of those who believe that by the judgement, the councils have lost their source of funding, following the pronouncement of the courts that allocations from the Federation Account be paid directly into the accounts of recognised entities is, Mike Ozekhome, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Lagos has 20 local governments originally created by the Federal Government, while the 37 LGDCs, were created by the Tinubu administration, in a bid to further take governance to the grassroots, a development, which led to a bitter feud between the government and the Federal Government under the President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In fact, throughout the period Obasanjo was in power after the creation of the LGDCs, the state was denied its council allocations, as a punishment to the state, following the former President’s aversion to the move.

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It was only the government of Umaru Yar’Adua, Obasanjo’s successor, who released the entire entitlements to the state, when he assumed power in 2007, after the state had funded the councils from its own resources for four years.

Ozekhome, a renowned constitutional lawyer,  who was a guest of The Morning Brief, a breakfast programme on Channels Television, on Friday, told his host that Thursday’s apex court judgement on the autonomy of the councils, made it clear that the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) would not send funds to local government areas headed by caretaker committee chairmen, or development centres.

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Hear him: “The judgement of the government is clear. If you want to receive funds from the federation account, then conduct an election. If what you have in place is a caretaker committee as local government chairman, be sure that it will not have money from the federation account.

“What this law is saying is that if you are not a democratically elected local government council, you cannot have this money under section 162 subsection 5 and 6 of the 199 Constitution. So, what it means is that money should now be ploughed to those local governments that are in existence democratically.”

The only remedy, he stated was for the state to find ways of funding the development centres from the allocations of the councils, adding: “They can do that internally to share. That is their internal business. Nobody can control that one. But for now, the money can only go to those local government areas named in the constitution. Don’t forget they are even named in the constitution, 774 local governments. If you want money from the federation account, such councils must be democratically elected.”

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The apex court not only endorsed full local government autonomy and ordering that funds from the FAAC be paid directly to their accounts, but also barred governors from henceforth dissolving democratically elected officials for local governments adding that doing so would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution.

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Tinubu completely caged, now surrounded by thieves, Ndume insists

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Ali Ndume, Senator representing Borno South at the National Assembly, on Thursday dug deeper in his earlier revelations putting Nigerians on notice that President Bola Tinubu is currently under a cocoon thrown around him by his aides, who have used the opportunity to mindlessly fleece the national till.

A guest of Prime Time, a current affairs programme on Arise News Network, Ndume, Chief Whip of the Senate, told his host that the seat of power has now been captured by “kakistocrats” – a government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens and kleptocrats – one run by thieves.

Absolving Tinubu of complicity in the alleged massive thievery he alleged that the Presidential Villa and top government bodies have become, he said: “The government is also populated by kleptocrats, but unfortunately that is not what the President is up to. He really meant renewed hope, but you can only do that when you have people around you that are on the same type of thinking.”

Ndume one of the longest serving members of NASS, explained that much as Tinubu, whom he described as a close political associate and a democrat, would always be quick to act on any act of malfeasance that came to his attention, such as his recent repudiation of the Cyber-crime bill, the said unscrupulous aides, had been doing much to keep him away from some critical information.

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Hear him: “When the president realised that he had not heard about it, he quickly suspended it.” He highlighted the significant challenge of hunger and food scarcity, mentioning that inflation has risen to 40%. In some places, even with your money, you won’t find the food items you want to buy, which is very dangerous..

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“Nigeria has never been included among countries facing severe food crises or food insecurity, but recent UN and World Food Programme figures rank Nigeria as a hotspot. For people like me, I have to be scared because I’m 64 years old with 10 children, 20 grandchildren, and I don’t have a passport or visa to anywhere.

“Some Ministers only meet the president during council meetings and that the President is often the first to leave. I’m the chief whip, and if the chief whip can’t have access to the president, the new senators won’t have access either. During the time of President (Olusegun) Obasanjo’s administration, any senator could see the president within 24 hours.

“President Tinubu is caged in. There are no visible efforts by the government to address pressing issues like climate change. The President has to harness Nigeria’s natural and human resources. He must get the right people into office and dominate his government with democrats. The president needs people who will realise his dream and tell him when something is wrong.”

Ndume who also bemoaned the effect of the removal of the fuel subsidy, argued that much as it was a good move to eliminate corruption and allow savings to benefit the people, measures must be taken to cushion such effects, like the introduction of food stamps, adding that presently the anger of Nigerians over their parlous situation could snowball into uncontrollable conflagration.

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