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Why God disgraced Buhari!

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By Sunny Igboanugo

Nna anyi Pope di emefie-emefie. Isi ya wee bulu na Pope ama emenata njo. Unless you’re a Catholic and Igbo, you might not grasp the true depth of this, because it loses a lot of its mystics and mysteries along the way of translation and transliteration. To fully comprehend, you have to be, or assume the place of sub-10-year-old child in a nondescript village some four or five decades ago, whose mental skies, struggled to grapple with all manner of images and imaginations coming from personal experiences and teachings of the older generation.

So, while chanting at the catechism class, Nna anyi Pope di emefie-emefie. Isi ya wee bulu na Pope ama emenata njo, it meant far more than its English translation of the infallibility of the Pope, which the teacher, made the students recite repeatedly.

For me, as for virtually every child in those classes, the only picture comparable to the processing of that teaching of the Pope, his infallibility and sinless state, was the imagery of Christ sitting at the right hand of God – more so, when you had heard some fantastic stories about the Catholic Pontiff himself.

I recall my elder brother, whose story-telling skill, surpassed that of Chinua Achebe, narrating how the world would gather in Rome, on rare occasions, to watch the Pope bring out his hand from a tiny window and wave to a privileged crowd. For no human ever saw the Pope physically. With his propensity for adding salt and pepper to every of his alluring, but mostly, fantastically false, if not mischievous narratives, it is impossible to ascertain how much he knew himself and whether he did not believe those stories either.

How was I to know that so soon after, I would be among the privileged, not only to see the waving hands of the Pope, but his whole being, shaking hands and embracing people, not from a window, but in a crowd?

What is more? I have also since discovered that the teaching of the infallibility of the Pope is completely false in the manner it was presented to us by those catechism teachers, whom I assume, knew no better themselves or preferred to believe themselves out of piety for the Catholic faith.

It was much later that I got the context and concept of the teaching. The Pope is infallible only when speaking ex-Cathedra – when he mounts the Papal Chair of St. Peter to make pronouncement. In other words, papal infallibility, in Roman Catholic theology, is described as the doctrine that the Pope, acting as supreme teacher and under certain conditions, cannot err when he teaches in matters of faith or morals. This, some say, is derived from Christ’s promise to remain always with his church and to send the Spirit to “teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14:26).

For this, there are four conditions: “When the Pope (1) intends to teach (2) by virtue of his supreme authority (3) on a matter of faith and morals (4) to the whole Church, he is preserved by the Holy Spirit from error. His teaching act is therefore called “infallible” and the teaching which he articulates is termed “irreformable.”.

What it means in clear terms is that the Pope, as an ordinary human being, is as vulnerable to sin as any other person. In other words, he could commit sins and indeed, commits sins. Further down the line, it also means that if the Pope, the only being, known to have been conferred with this status of infallibility, is himself a sinner, who most often admits to this fact, goes to confession, like any other Catholic. It means therefore that no human being is free from sin.

But Muhammadu Buhari, doesn’t appear to acknowledge this fact of life. My reading of him, both in public conduct and charactersation, conduces of one who had since, not only believed the godlike image conferred on him by a fawning group of followers, but appropriated same to himself. Unlike the Pope, who acknowledges his frailties as human, he appears to see himself as infallible, and seems to frown at any suggestion otherwise.

Granted that he might not have made himself God and did not confer the status on himself, but he not only grabbed it, he hugged it or so it seems. That, to me has proved fatal.

The Bible, reports that this was the sin of Lucifer. He was said to be so beautifully made and possessed everything that not only did pride set in but he became so possessed with and hugged his status, so much that the next move was to rebel against God and take His place. It was for this that he was cast into hell. But here on earth, the world is replete with numerous other examples of how pride and self-conceitedness had pushed people to fall from glory to perdition.

Else, what could account for Buhari being such a disaster in office? What could make Buhari become a reference pointer for monumental failure in all aspects of public engagements as President? What is it that he lacked? Arguably, no other President or indeed elected official in Nigeria enjoyed the type of acceptance that welcomed him to the seat of power eight years ago. Such was the ululation that a certain Dahiru Buba, had to trek from Gombe to Abuja in solidarity.

But what did Nigeria get in return? Woes and tales of woes – uncanny, bizarre and eerie outcomes – sorrow, tears and blood – weeping, wailing, mourning and gnashing of the teeth. Those who rolled out the drums to celebrate, now retreat into their cocoons, fasten their doors as they retire to daily supplications against the dangers outside, praying for an end to their nightmares. The din from the collective hissing as the people turn away their faces, bidding their ears be deaf, now echo resoundingly.

How else could a man be humbled? How else could a man be disgraced? The king, who was so impervious to counsel and forbade his subjects from advising him, has now become a pitiable object of mockery as the flies besiege him because nobody could tell him about the patches of elements from the toilet that have stained his royal robe. Perhaps a lesson to others coming after him.

Already, the ubiquitous professional courtiers, jesters and entertainers, in Aso Rock Villa, at its corridors and elsewhere, who saw nothing wrong in the faux pass of the eight years of the locust, and who told him that he was the best thing to happen to creation, are fast disappearing, perhaps with their eyes on another target.

Yes! The cheerleaders, who chanted that it was the best that The Man of Wisdom – who sees tomorrow sitting in his comfortable couch, should take his time, when Nigerian practically descended into limbo from which it never woke up or recovered, are already shifting ground and brushing off all vestiges of vicarious responsibility of what they helped to create.

Yet, they were the ones that rationalised it when a bemused public began wondering what was happening, after the signs of danger started manifesting. They shouted down petrified compatriots, who dared raise their voice at the early inanities. Those who dared question the rationale of waiting for a whole six months to appoint a cabinet were called names. Even after it turned out that those appointed was an assemblage of funny characters after the world was made to believe that some strange beings from outer space were coming – opportunists, whose only interest appeared to be a seat at the table to share in the spoils of the game, those who complained were denounced and called – wailers!

With these early signs of failure not heeded and him being goaded and egged on, things could only get worse. The government had come in with a blazing record of fanfare and public trust with the mantra of Insecurity, Economy, Anticorruption on its lips. Alarmed Nigerians, who had been crying about the records of the government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially that of President Goodluck Jonathan he displaced in 2015, had believed that he was going to wave his magic wand or release the genie out of the magic lamp to tackle the problems.

But like a possessed emperor, everything took the penchant for an uncanny pattern – policies decreed with a sort of brainwave. For instance, without warning, Nigerians, who had been encouraged to domicile their individua foreign currency accounts locally, woke up one morning to be told that they could no longer withdraw their money from their banks in Nigeria. The immediate result? Chaos and more chaos. Many citizens, believing that their lifesaving had vanished died of heart attacks and other debilitating ailments developed as a result. The bedlam that ensued as panicking customers rushed to the banks in search of a way out to reclaim their forex became the inevitable skyrocketing cost of forex and the crisis today.

By the time the policy was lifted, the value of the forex had hit the roof as Nigerians in panic, rushed straight to the banks to withdraw every cent they had saved and took their money elsewhere. Today, a dollar that stood at less than N200 is gradually inching towards the N1,000 mark. This was his idea of making the greenback stand at par with the naira.

You heard him boasting the other day how he closed the Nigerian borders some years back. Again, that happened without warning. Nigerians woke up one morning to hear that. What was the reason, you would ask? His answer was that he wanted to end smuggling of rice. The result? More foreign rice found their way into Nigeria, but at higher cost, because the fat cats in charge of the borders, responsible for the problem in the first place, who ought to have been called to question and checked through a fortified and deliberate means, grew fatter as they smiled to the banks, by simply upping the ante and raising the stakes for the rice smugglers. That was another of his fantastic ideas!

But there was more. Genuine businessmen, suddenly found it impossible to transact inter-border trades. Consignments they had ordered could not cross into Nigeria, while those to be exported outside got stuck back home. As their capital began to deplete and finally drained out, many obituaries were announced. Again, it was either heart-attacks or suicide induced illnesses. On the contrary, the cost of rice, both local and domestic soared to the level that many Nigerians took what used to be their staple out of their menus or looked for ways of making up. Again, another economic masterstroke!

In the end, for all his economic solution was worth, Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world, with all imaginable economic indices – inflation, employment level, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), life expectancy, money in the pocket, etc – going south.

Don’t forget that at the time he came in, the debate was that Nigeria was among the fastest growing economies in the world and the biggest economy in Africa and the capital for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Whether true or not, at least that was what was on the table by the time Jonathan was leaving office as President. But today, what is the debate all about? Nigeria hitting the bottomless pit – at the very nadir of its economic existence as a country.

Why? Don’t ask me! They have a ready answer to that. COVID-19! War in Ukraine! But in their haste to blight out original local memory, they forget that the nosediving economy of Nigeria formed the major issues of the nation’s debates far before these latter-day events. The presidential campaigns of 2019 was all about how the nation’s economy had hit the jagged rocks at the bottom of the valley.

But, as they blame the crises, other countries have since moved away and moved on, quickly. In the first place, they will not acknowledge the obvious – that no other countries across the globe engage in the clandestine and ugly lifestyle that became emblematic of their governance model during their years. Which and how many other countries in the world went about borrowing and spending same like drunken sailors within the period in question? How many countries used virtually every kobo or cent they earned for servicing debts?

How many countries gave open license to a group of people in their countries to kill compatriots, simply because they had recourse to a President, who would admonish the victims to live peacefully with your neighbours? Yet this was a General who went about the insecurity mantra and promised to tame troublemakers.

They would remind you readily that 14 local governments were in the hands of insurgents by the time they came into office. But ask them, was there any local government that election in 2015 did not hold before they took over? They sing a song about how the North East have been liberated from Boko Haram? But speak to experts and hear a somewhat more plausible explanations.

You would hear that after announcing their presence through bombings in Abuja and other cities in the North, terrorists, especially Boko Haram, which has since coalesced with the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP), simply changed gear, farmed out their soldiers and spread out across the country, such that today, no single day passes without records of kidnapping and slaughtering Nigerians in different parts of the country.

Today, the Genelismo, is leaving behind a record of close to 70,000 deaths – of his countrymen slaughtered in cold blood – in peacetime to boot? That is even the official record. Some argue that unofficially it is far worse, putting it at  double or even triple of that. Recall that at the beginning, he had ordered the military to end Boko Haram in three months. But all that had to end in the damning picture of death and sorrow.

The rest of the picture is painted in the bombing of a Nigerian train and kidnapping of hundreds, the breaking into the best fortified jails in the country and releasing some blood-thirsty killers, who are today prowling through the forests and local villages, milling through the streets and roads to decimate the people to the extent that today road travels have become the worst nightmare of Nigerians.

Even the anti-corruption on which his entire personality derived its essence, he didn’t fare any better. In fact, it turned out a ruse. Under him was a systematic bastardisation of the entire concept and process of fighting corruption. While the institutions, erected by previous administrations became huge public theatres where macabre dramas were churned out almost every day, his own appointees in various positions, were no less ready to join in the circus.

That was when you heard of how men of the Department of State Services (DSS) broke into the homes of judges in the thick of the night and roused their scared lordships from their bed, some of them in their birthday suits with their spouses, while still asleep. It was a time the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), regaled an entirely stunned nation with their own version of the drama.

On occasions, it was either caches of dollars rolling out from conveyor belts at the airports or stashes of local and or  foreign currencies discovered inside uncompleted buildings. The anti-climax was the  discovery of a whopping N13billion hidden in a residential apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos. But wait for it, till date, the selfsame agency has continued to keep sealed lips over the identities of the owners. Just like in other cases.

Remember, that drama took place in 2017, six years ago. But since then, mum has remained the word. Instead, the next stage of the drama was that Ibrahim Magu, the theatre director and curator, became a character in the obscene drama himself, when he was suddenly arrested and hounded out of office in the most controversial manner.

In the end, just as his appointment became mired in controversy when, in spite of being denied confirmation by the Senate on the declaration of the DSS, which forbade it, his end, saw him practically being dragged on the floor to the Justice Ayo Salami panel, where he was made to face charges of monumental corruption. What an irony.

You did also hear more recently of how his successor, Abdulrasheed Bawa was accused of demanding a bribe of $2million from the Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle. The governor, who made the disclosure with his full chest out, in a BBC Hausa Service interview, had dared him to do his worst about it and face further revelations, with evidence. Have you heard anything else since then? Never! For all you might know, an olive branch must have exchanged hands to cease fire, for obvious reasons. That was the texture of the anti-corruption war.

If you were still at sea as to the colour of corruption a la Buhari, turn to the COVID-19 era. It was an ear-full! You’d hear all kinds of funny tales – how tens and hundreds of billions of naira, were disbursed to your fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts in your villages and how they danced in the streets thanking your Buhari – how your children and those of your relations were fed well on daily bases, with an egg a day in tow. The funnier part is you’ll be declared a liar and hater of the President, if you as much as asked for proof. If you asked which child and continued searching for the schools where the goodies were being distributed in your locality, you’re quick to be labelled a hater.

Didn’t you see that video where one Hajia Sadia Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, had stacks of money, from which she was handing out stipends to those women dancing and singing in appreciation? We even heard on one occasion how about N2.6billion was shared out in one day. Funny?

In fact, the bazaar of that era became so widespread that tracking became almost impossible. Don’t even attempt to count the figures. Was it the N60billion for the revival of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), N100-plus-billions for aviation, or the N30billion from Ca-COVID warehoused by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for infrastructure and essentials? Where would the counting start or end? It was a situation of the proverbial elephant meat where people came to take their own cuts. All you heard were billions and more billions.

It even got to a point where Nigerians, who could no longer wait started breaking into warehouses and started helping themselves. A particular warehouse in Lagos was actually invaded to retrieve cartons of palliatives meant for the people. Even in their various states of damage due to long storage, they were carted away all the same. The strange part was the same item was already bearing the image of a certain Lagos lawmaker and high society woman, preparatory as giveaways for her birthday. Of course, she was not alone. While moneys disappeared into thin air, most probably finding their ways into banks abroad, food items, medicals and other essential products, meant to be shared were taken to private homes or even repackaged and sold in the markets. Consequences? Find it!

What consequences could be meted out to those involved in mere pilfering of pittances when the main brigands who completely shut the nation out of its very economic livewire were neither identified nor punished? Or didn’t you hear that in the last three years, not a single kobo accrued to Nigeria from oil sales. They simply disappeared into oblivion. Every single cent of oil sold! During the period, oil thieves, said to have existed for decades, simply went haywire, graduating from mere piping of products into local barges to allowing shiploads coming into the country, lifting the oil and taking off to their destinations without batting an eyelid.

Even when one of the ships was caught in the shores of another country and sent back to Nigeria, what did we hear? It was said to have completely burnt down, of course, with probable evidence destroyed. But don’t even bet on it. That could even be a decoy. The same ship in question, might have set sail again, this time under cover. The patrons of the banditry could have also procured an old carcass from somewhere and set it ablaze to confuse Nigerian. Even beyond the drama, have you heard anything again?

Don’t even talk about the case of oil subsidy. That has since become an old, worn-out story. What is new is that the thievery have become more pronounced and stakes gone higher. As the heist went on in the oil industry, other sectors were not spared. You probably didn’t hear about the can of worms opened up at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), when the former Director General Hadiza Bala Usman launched her book, recently. Find and read her tales.

You’d also may not have heard how the Abacha loot controversies – how each of the millions of dollars returned from foreign countries became mired in a morass of inane tales – how they developed wings. The recent we’ve heard is how Abubakar Malami was being drilled by members of the National Assembly on the loss of $2.4billion unremitted oil revenue.

If you didn’t or have not been following, you’d certainly be unaware of the current case of the Nigeria Air, a project in which multiple millions of dollars were buried only for planes owned by another entity to be brought into the  country. Read that up also. That would help you understand the damage of the Buhari regime.

What could be more petrifying than the 2023 general elections? In fact, Nigerians would have forgiven him if after destroying virtually all things he touched, he had bestowed the country with a credible election as he not only promised them but boasted to the world. But like Pharaoh, whose heart remained hardened in spite of the afflictions of his people of Egypt, he was determined to punish Nigerians further – the reason he conducted the worst election in the history of Nigeria.

As the curtains fall on his inglorious era, the world could only scoff at a Buhari, who got everything he needed to be great, but who is leaving the stage totally disgraced for failing to perform. It was with with his hands that he destroyed the mystery of a Spartan, no-nonsense nationalist, and replaced same with an unforgiving, petty leader, who went as low as to arrest and detain a compatriot for naming his dog Buhari. That’s his record.

He also would be remembered for running the most divisive and nepotistic government in history, where unless you were either a Fulani or Muslim, you must take the short end of the stick, where the likes of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho would be hunted down, hounded and clamped into detention or sent on exile, for airing their opinions but Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, who wiped out whole communities are released and handed down privileged positions.

As he exits power, it would be the end of an inglorious era – the end of body language which heralded the beginning – the end of Mai Gaskiya (the Man of Truth) – the end of deceit and lies. Hopefully, it will also be the end of the killins – the sorrow, tears and blood in Kaduna, in Jos, in Benue, in Owo, in Anambra and other places!

Yes! His aides and hangers-on will defend him and give him titles, but for millions of Nigerians, he remains the worst the country has ever witnessed. That fact will come home soon when the coterie of courtiers as cheerleaders must have disappeared and history begins to take its full count. Yes! The haze would soon disappear to leave a disgrace, lonely man who earned his place for not only being wicked to his people, but playing God!

Lessons? They’re already dressing Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the one on whom he conferred a stolen mandate with the same robe. They call him great names – lullaby him as The Wise Man of Bourdillon, The New Aso Rock Jagaban – the new God. Will he hug the title? We watch!

Columns

Soyinka, Obi, Tinubu: When repayment of mafia debt is inescapable

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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.

It is not that Soyinka is not aware of the parlous situation in Nigeria today. It is not that he does not know that from the way things are going the country is fast descending from the critical to the fatal condition and soon there might not be a country anymore, at least the way it is presently known. But what could he do, when he is in so much debt over the years of favours?
Like Bonasera, he would have opted to be excused from the evil and putridity of the mafia, having built up such an enchanting record as a nationalist and world renowned icon in many respects. But he was the one who ran to Tinubu like Bonasera ran to Don Corleone for help when the system failed him. Like Bonasera nobody bothered him before now. But now his services are required.
Currently, Tinubu’s political face is as badly battered as Sonny’s bullet-riddled body and needed to be prepared to look decent to the public. Who else to do the job than the master of words, grit and skills, who could, by his pedigree, practically make the dead appear alive? Soyinka has the personality and the voice to do the job of painting Tinubu white or at least try.
Incidentally, choosing to do so from South Africa, is instructive too. Remember that South African woman, who spoke in that viral video, telling the world that Tinubu’s presidency lacked legitimacy. What could be more practical that tackle her in her own land and attempt to change the narrative, which surely must have pervaded the land of the Mandelas? But it would surely not stop there. Watch out. South Africa may be the starting point. Don’t be surprised to see the Nobel Laureate expanding his campaign further and farther. For even Kongi must pay his debt. Even if Nigeria falls! He has no choice. It is the way of the mafia!
Igboanugo, a journalist, wrote from Lagos

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Columns

Obi: Still going about doing good  

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By Sunny Igboanugo

It is not unusual to hear some people in obvious overdrive of satiation, heckling and mocking – Peter Obi will never be President of Nigeria in his lifetime. Of course, it is coming from divergent quarters – the purveyors and patrons of the current state capture that are currently tightening their vice grip on Nigeria, their various supporters blinded by primordial sentiments – mostly pecuniary and ethnic.

Take Reno Omokri for example. Hours after the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), which affirmed the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as winner of the 2023 presidential election, he went all and about with this same mantra. Of course, only a few of the spectators of his current monologue and lone dance in the street like an inebriated village drunkard, would fail to understand where he is coming from.

Many, who are now quite conversant with his ways, would easily decipher that his constant solo attacks on Obi, is his own pitch to break into the camp of President Tinubu for what he could get, after successfully doing so with Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and Tinubu’s opponent.

Just as he had tried the same trick with Muhammadu Buhari, Tinubu’s predecessor and met a brickwall, owing substantially to the aloofness of the former President to stimuli around him no matter how virulent, he might be thinking that a more amenable Tinubu, would be different and would be the next meal ticket, now he seems to have realised that Atiku might not be offering very much, as could be seen in his less than passing interest in that camp.

So, the issue is not about the likes of Reno, his likes who are pitching for a job. It is also not about those already at the table where he wants to break into, currently devouring the sumptuous meal that the Nigerian commonwealth offers. It is rather about the outsiders who, though, are not in the two categories are imbued with either partisan or ethnic interests, even as they are as hard hit as the rest of the suffering mass with the realities of the crises of today’s Nigeria.

They are the ones to be pitied. If only they knew the truth. If only they knew that Obi has since moved on to where he came from – the higher plane of serving humanity. If only they knew that for Obi, the battle is quite different – different from the quest of power for its sake – rather than power to do good. If only they knew that for Obi, it is not about the acquisition of wealth, obscene, garish, insatiable wealth, mostly stolen from the common purse, but that earned from the sweat of the brow and using same to pull the society up by its booths strap. Then, they would know to whom they would direct their spikes.

Yes, Peter Gregory Obi, has moved on. He had always told those, who cared to listen that the 2023 presidency, where he was the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), was not really for or about him but for Nigerians – that he had actually come to help. His idea was that since he had used his personal resources to try and better the lives of those around him, the presidency would offer him the greater opportunity of a wider spectrum – to use the enormous resources available in Nigeria to create a country that would be brimming hot with goodies. That had always been the intention.

Indeed, as he exhorted his followers, a few days ago not to give up, he would also not drop the gauntlet in achieving that aim. But in the event that the forces of darkness, with help from within and without, succeed in their evil plot to capture the country, he would simply return to basis – going about doing good with the little at his disposal.

That was exactly what he proved last week when he presented a cheque for N10 million at the foundation-laying ceremony of the Department of Midwifery and Public Health Nursing of the Millennium College of Nursing Sciences of the Awka Anglican Communion, Anambra State, a project he promised he would be part of till fruition, after donating N40 million to Faith Specialist Hospital, where the College is domiciled, all aimed at enhancing the Diocese’s overall initiatives in strengthening its healthcare facilities.

Hear him: “My motivation for this gesture stems from my belief that healthcare is one of the critical developmental needs of any society. I encourage support of institutions like the Church in their ongoing efforts to develop these vital areas. I want you to understand that these facilities do not solely benefit the bishop and his priests but rather the entire populace of the state. I therefore pledge my commitment to the project. I’ll also leverage my connections to secure funding from my friends for this purpose.”

Alexander Ibezim, Anglican Bishop of Awka and the Archbishop of Niger Province, while commending the former Governor of Anambra State, for consistently demonstrating his commitment to the welfare of the masses, cited his past accomplishments in the state, such as the return of schools to churches and massive financial support to the schools as well as substantial financial support for healthcare, as exemplary actions that other leaders should emulate when genuinely dedicated to serving the people.

“You’re a builder of both individuals and institutions. Your investments in education and healthcare dramatically transformed the landscape of these vital sectors within the state,” the obviously elated cleric, added.

Stella Chinwe Okunna, who was not only Obi’s Chief of Staff as governor, but his ears and eyes in many of his undertakings, thereafter was neither less enthusiastic nor short of words in praising her former boss, while praising the church as well for its dedication to initiatives that improve society, recalling how his vision during his tenure as governor, aligned with global developmental goals.

“Under his leadership, the healthcare sector was completely revitalised. Before his tenure, Anambra had no accredited health institutions, but during his time, the state gained many, including two accredited hospitals. Through Obi’s partnership with the Church, institutions like Iyienu Hospital, Ogidi, Holy Rosary Hospital, Waterside, Onitsha, St. Charles  Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha and St. Joseph Hospital, Adazi-Nnukwu now have accredited Schools of Nursing, School of Midwifery, and Schools of Health Technology,” she said.

Recalling his significant support for the establishment of the School of Nursing at the Diocesan Hospital of Amichi Anglican Diocese, and efforts to the elevation of Iyi-Enu Hospital to a University Teaching Hospital, she added: “It was Obi’s government that initiated the construction of Chukwuemeka-Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital from the scratch, equipped it, and secured accreditation.

“His administration also built 10 new maternity and child care facilities in remote areas of the state, and purchased close to 100 ambulances for selected Anambra hospitals. Rehabilitation of 15 General Hospitals in the 3 Senatorial Zones of the state, building of over 120 Primary Health Centres across various communities in the state. His achievements were so outstanding that he won first prize in the Bill and Melinda Gates prize for Polio immunization.”

Presently, Obi has moved to the Supreme Court to try and retrieve the mandate Nigerians gave him on February 25, after the September 6 PEPT verdict. It is going to be another attempt in the struggle to save the polity and gift the people the New Nigeria, he has always promised. No doubt, the forces with evil agenda would continue trying to stop him.

But, win or lose, ranting of Omokri and his gang or no, be it known that he has since moved on. Unlike his contemporaries, whose paths are clogged with the numerous barriers of dirty wealth or its vulgar display, he has since won the battle long ago by shedding the weight in more accumulation and the gnawing hunger for more and more and settled for giving and more giving. That’s why, he’s going about doing good!

Igboanugo, is the publisher of WhirlwindNews

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She ended well! *Echoes of testimonies, as Theresa Omolara Obu returns home in a blaze of glory

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“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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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!

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