Interview – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com Breaking News in Nigeria Today Sat, 16 Nov 2019 18:42:00 +0100 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 https://tribuneonlineng.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/logo.jpg Interview – Tribune Online https://tribuneonlineng.com 32 32 118125416 What people do not know about Obasanjo, Fasehun relationship —Osibote, OPC president https://tribuneonlineng.com/what-people-do-not-know-about-obasanjo-fasehun-relationship-osibote-opc-president/ Sun, 17 Nov 2019 02:39:07 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=265904 Tribune Online
What people do not know about Obasanjo, Fasehun relationship —Osibote, OPC president

In this interview with KUNLE ODEREMI, the president of the Oodua Peoples congress (OPC), Prince Segun Osibote speaks on the problem of insecurity in the country, challenges confronting Yoruba land and perverted values among Nigerians. Excerpts: What can you say about the predicament of the country today 20 years after returning to civilian rule? Nigeria […]

What people do not know about Obasanjo, Fasehun relationship —Osibote, OPC president
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What people do not know about Obasanjo, Fasehun relationship —Osibote, OPC president

In this interview with KUNLE ODEREMI, the president of the Oodua Peoples congress (OPC), Prince Segun Osibote speaks on the problem of insecurity in the country, challenges confronting Yoruba land and perverted values among Nigerians. Excerpts:

What can you say about the predicament of the country today 20 years after returning to civilian rule?

Nigeria is going through a difficult time, and I must say that most of the major challenges are created by humans. We have had opportunities as a country. But we frittered away those ample chances of taking our rightful place in the comity of nations. Leadership ineptitude, greed, mutual suspicion among the ethnic groups that make up the federation as well as insensitivity to the fundamental principles of federalism have brought us to the current alley of despair and despondency. However, it is not too late for us to have a serious rethink on how to rediscover ourselves as a country. We must take realistic steps and measures to the end the era of impunity, injustice and thoughtlessness, otherwise we might be deluding ourselves in our desperate search for renaissance.

 

The situation is the South-West is most curious to many observers because the area was hitherto regarded as the heartbeat of Nigeria. Mass unemployment, collapsed infrastructure and insecurity are among the key issues in Yoruba land these days. How come the zone has found itself in such mess?

I still believe the South-West still constitutes the heartbeat of the nation, notwithstanding the avalanche of challenges facing Yorubaland now. It still has a comparative advantage over the other zones in terms of economic, political and social matters, as well as opportunities and prospect for prosperity and progress.  We should not lose hope at all. What I think has been missing for a very long time was the political will by leaders at different times to take pragmatic steps that could fast-track the process of the South-West reclaiming some lost grounds. Politics and economics go together; they are a twin mix that can deliver us. The people must realise that the conduct and outcome of an election does not constitute an end itself; it is a means to an end. In fact, the conduct of an election is only a stage in the process of guaranteeing good governance. Once the elections are over, the people must make serious demands from those that secure their mandate to govern on the key issues of accountability, transparency and equity. It is a crucial matter in the entire social contract between the elected and the citizens. The people at the grassroots level should form pressure groups with very well-defined mandate, aims and objectives weaved around good governance that will constantly monitor, engage and interrogate elected and appointed political office holders. They hold their positions in trust for the electorate.

So, while we must sustain the advocacy of power devolution and fiscal federalism, our people must also maintain pressure on the political elite to deliver on their promises to serve consciously, diligently and faithfully. We should not compromise on those demands because the peace, progress and stability of any society is dependent on the character of its political and economic elites. So, the onus is on us as citizens to put those in power constantly on their toes or in check since the safety valve of the society is dependent on qualitative and purposeful leadership. Coupled with that is that we should strengthen the mechanism for sanctioning misdemeanours among the political elite, otherwise the current peace of the graveyard might culminate in an implosion. I hope the leaders at the various level of leadership in the South-West will do the needful to avoid their being on the wrong side of history in Yoruba land in the future.

The labour of heroes like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Fredrick Fasehun and many illustrious sons and daughters of the Yoruba ethnic nationality will not be in vain.  It is a sad that the Yoruba ethnic nationality that set the pace in all spheres in Nigeria and on the African continent is currently battling with severe socio-economic hardship and depression owing to collapsed infrastructure and manufacturing sector and perverted values. But like they say, tough conditions don’t last forever; it spurs people into breaking new grounds. The Yoruba will rise and rise again.

 

Some people claim that the OPC is part of the problems confronting the Yoruba now because perceived internal contradictions, with some critics citing the frosty relations between Obasanjo while in power and the OPC…

That is not true. Such critics are being absolutely unfair and unjust to the organisation, the true voice of the Yoruba nation. I am aware that a few disgruntled elements have tried to give the OPC a bad name following what transpired between OPC and the Obasanjo then. Despite those wicked moves, insinuations and manipulations, the organisation has remained focused, resolute and consistent in championing and defending the cause of the Yoruba ethnic nationality both in Nigeria and in the Diaspora. I recall the failed efforts by anti-progress elements to blackmail the OPC and Dr Fredrick Fasehun through misinformation about the relationship between Obasanjo and the founder of the OPC, Dr  Fasehun.  The records are there that there was no bad blood between Dr Fasehun and former President Obasanjo. Fasehun and the former Nigerian leader were regularly got in touch even to the last period that the OPC founder lived.

Yes, it is true that at a point in time when Obasanjo was the president of the country, he took some radical steps against the OPC, but virtually all those things you have in the public domain concerning that drama were not only exaggerated but concocted and twisted to suit certain narrow interests. A lot about what was assumed to have happened then were the figments of the imaginations of Fifth columnists masquerading as friends of the OPC but were out to destroy the organization that seeks to protect the interest of the Yoruba.

A few unscrupulous elements desperate to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it cooked up stories trying to frame up Dr Fasehun because of his uncompromising stance on the collective interest of the Yoruba ethnic nationality. They went as far as claiming that Dr Fasehun founded the OPC to destablise the country, engage in acts of felony and make Nigeria ungovernable for former President Obasanjo. But truth is constant. Dr Fasehun was unscathed. He refused to be cowed. And he kept faith with Obasanjo even after the former president left office.

Some elements had misconstrued what transpired between Obasanjo and the OPC founder following some issues in the South-West.  A few persons did that out of mischief; others did so because of envy, just as others did so out of ignorance.

The OPC holds Obasanjo in high esteem. No matter what anybody might say, especially detractors and enemies of progress. We in the OPC know that Obasanjo means well for the Yoruba race and Dr Fasehun never believed in the suppression of opinion. He was averse to people resorting to blackmail and character assassination. He believed and consistently said there was a limit to freedom, otherwise the society would turn into an animal kingdom and recipe for chaos, confusion and anarchy. Dr Fasehun encouraged dialogue as opposed to controversy and violence; he promoted collaboration and cooperation as against division and bigotry, which has the full potential for upheavals. He was an apostle of diplomacy and tact as opposed to self-help in the struggle against impunity, injustice, oppression and servitude. He was the chief protagonist of passive resistance as opposed to violent confrontation and change, as peace is sine qua non to political stability, economic growth and development. He did not pretend about his aversion for the policies of alienation and marginalisation.

Upon the news of Fasehun’s demise, Obasanjo got in touch with the family. And I want to place it on record that was a regular visitor accompanied by some members of the Congress. Ditto Fasehun’s personal assistant, Otunba Babatunde Thompson to Obasanjo at his Abeokuta residence and Ota Farm House in Sango in Ogun State.

It is true that the Obasanjo administration arrested and detained Dr Fasehun in connection with issues that had to do with the activities of the OPC in the South-West. But the action of the then president was based on the wrong information and confusion created by some unscrupulous elements in the land. The fact is that it was as a result of the wrong impression. The then inspector General Police, who carried the action took that action because of the lack of covert intelligence gathering before ordering the arrests over any crime or allegation against an individual, group. Perhaps, our greatest joy as ethnic nationality lies in the fact that both Obasanjo and Fasehun come from the same region.

 

The prevalent state of insecurity in the land has led to a preponderance of measures by the authorities at various levels. Beyond the brickbat and back and forth arguments on some of the measures, what do you think needs to be done to tame the challenge of insecurity?

One, Nigerians must realise that security is not the job of law enforcement agencies alone. It is the collective duty and responsibility of all the citizens of the country. Intelligence gathering is key. Coupled with that is the quality of the personnel in the various arms of government, especially the security agencies. Two, we need to motivate them through the provision of logistics, incentives, training and retraining, as well as the deployment of modern technology. Three, we need to talk less about our operational strategies so that we do not give vital security information to criminals and their local and foreign accomplices. Security is a serious business. No amount should be regarded as too much to channel into providing modern hard and software designed to combat crime. But we should ensure transparency and accountability in funding the sector.

Let me also emphasise the importance of community policing, or what is currently regarded as the civilian vigilante practice in the local parlance. It is a necessary level of policing that we need to sustain and strengthen. The tradition in the past was that communities engaged or hired persons that constituted security personnel under the neighbourhood watch. The members were courageous and responsible members of the society who made enormous sacrifice in terms of personal comfort, time and money to keep an eagle eye on the society night and day. We need to go back to the process and key into how it worked and provided useful intelligence report that guided and guaranteed a safe, saner climate and not season of fear like we have today.

What people do not know about Obasanjo, Fasehun relationship —Osibote, OPC president
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Appeal Court judgment: What Adelabu is holding on is valueless —Raji https://tribuneonlineng.com/appeal-court-judgment-what-adelabu-is-holding-on-is-valueless-raji/ Sun, 17 Nov 2019 02:29:44 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=265896 Tribune Online
Appeal Court judgment: What Adelabu is holding on is valueless —Raji

Alhaji Ahmed Raji SAN is one of the lawyers who defended Governor Seyi Makinde at the Appeal Court in an appeal filed against his election by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, Chief Bayo Adelabu. He speaks with DARE ADEKANMBI on the judgment delivered by the higher court on […]

Appeal Court judgment: What Adelabu is holding on is valueless —Raji
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Appeal Court judgment: What Adelabu is holding on is valueless —Raji

Alhaji Ahmed Raji SAN is one of the lawyers who defended Governor Seyi Makinde at the Appeal Court in an appeal filed against his election by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, Chief Bayo Adelabu. He speaks with DARE ADEKANMBI on the judgment delivered by the higher court on Monday last week, submitting that nothing has changed with the judgment regarding to position of Makinde as the governor.

The Court of Appeal judgment, which set aside the judgment of the election tribunal in the case filed by the APC governorship candidate, Chief Bayo Adelabu, has left tongues wagging because it is sort of hanging.

The judgment, as far as the Appeal Court did not say it nullified the election. It is not hanging. The election was not nullified and if the election and the returning of Engineer Seyi Makinde as the duly elected governor of Oyo State is not set aside, the governor remains.

 

But the judgment of the tribunal which affirmed his victory has been set aside…

Yes, it was set aside and the Appeal Court Justices went ahead to say that they have examined the evidence that the appellants claimed were not examined by the tribunal. After evaluating it, they said there was no basis for nullifying the election. The complaints of the appellants were about non-compliance with the election guidelines released for the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). They did not talk about violation of the Electoral Act. And since it is complaints about the guidelines and not the Electoral Act, such complaints will not lead to the nullification of the election. So, the result of the election stands since it was not nullified.

All the Court of Appeal said was that the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal ought to have listened to certain aspects of their claims or ought to have considered some materials that they did not consider. However, this or any other claim will not amount to anything because it did not amount to the violation of the Electoral Act. You can quote me as saying it is a valueless victory for the appellants and a tacit endorsement of the victory of Governor Makinde. The governor remains.

 

If it is a valueless victory, does it then mean the Appeal Court is trying to push both parties to the Supreme Court to decide what the issues in dispute are?

No, it does not mean that. What it means is that if no step is taken, the status quo remains and who benefits from status quo? It is Governor Makinde. If they appeal the judgment of the Appeal Court, we will also appeal. If they don’t appeal, we don’t need to appeal. Right now, except they make further move, they have nothing in their hand.

 

Chief Adelabu, in a statement after the judgment, said he will approach the Apex Court to reclaim his mandate, which, according to him, the Court of Appeal judgment has helped him to brighten the hope of recovering

Let him go to the Supreme Court, we will meet there then.

 

So, it does not bother you that an Osun State scenario can play out in the case in Oyo?

Osun scenario can never happen in Oyo.

 

Are you saying the cases are not similar?

They are not in any way related.

 

The Appeal Court, in the Osun case, also set aside the decision of the tribunal.

No, what the Appeal Court said in the case of Osun was to nullify the decision of the election tribunal outright. In the case of Adeleke versus Oyetola, the Appeal Court set aside the judgment of the majority of the tribunal members which declared Adeleke as the duly elected governor. The tribunal, by majority, gave it to Adeleke. But the Court of Appeal set it aside. So, what the Supreme Court did was to restore the minority judgment of the tribunal. So, they are not similar.

 

Part of the complaints in the case by the appellants in Oyo was that they were not given fair hearing and the Court of Appeal agreed with them on this.

Fair hearing on what point? On a point that will not add up? They are just complaining about fair hearing on a point that will not add up. The Appellate Court Justices, in their judgment, are saying, yes, they were not given fair hearing, but the point on which they claimed they were not heard did not matter and could not have led to the nullification of the election. So, the Court of Appeal, by its judgment, is saying even if they were heard, it would not have amounted to anything for them. The Court of Appeal went further to say that it has examined the point on which they claimed they were not heard and found nothing upon which to nullify the election. So, what else do they want?  I agree with the Court of Appeal that even if the tribunal had listened to and heard them, it would still not add up or amount to anything to warrant the nullification of the election. What the lower court said was that it did not need to hear them because they did not make any point. The Court of Appeal now said no, the tribunal should have heard them, even though it would not add up. Therefore, the tribunal erred by not hearing them.

Appeal Court judgment: What Adelabu is holding on is valueless —Raji
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Makinde, Adelabu’s fate with Supreme Court —Lana https://tribuneonlineng.com/makinde-adelabus-fate-with-supreme-court-lana/ Sun, 17 Nov 2019 02:28:02 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=265892 Tribune Online
Makinde, Adelabu’s fate with Supreme Court —Lana

A former Attorney-General of Oyo State, Michael Lana, speaks with DARE ADEKANMBI on the Court of Appeal judgment, saying there is no ambiguity in the judgment as claimed in many circles and that the Supreme Court will determine what the Court of Appeal has pushed to it. Although I have not seen the full judgment, […]

Makinde, Adelabu’s fate with Supreme Court —Lana
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Makinde, Adelabu’s fate with Supreme Court —Lana

A former Attorney-General of Oyo State, Michael Lana, speaks with DARE ADEKANMBI on the Court of Appeal judgment, saying there is no ambiguity in the judgment as claimed in many circles and that the Supreme Court will determine what the Court of Appeal has pushed to it.

Although I have not seen the full judgment, I have read the enrolment order therefrom. Confusion appears to have trailed the judgment. What is your take about the decision of the Appeal Court Justices?

I have seen and read the full judgment. The major take on it is about what order the Court of Appeal should make, having found out that the judgment of the tribunal was perverse. Normally, in all situations, when the Court of Appeal says the judgment of a lower court is perverse, it must set it aside, which was done in the case we are talking about. The question now is: what consequential order was made? What the Court of Appeal is saying now is that when the Court of Appeals was the final court in this situation, especially in the case of Fayemi versus Oni, once there is non-compliance with the guideline and regulations made by INEC, it is equivalent with non-compliance with the Electoral Act. Therefore, the order that should be made is to nullify the election and order a rerun. That was the practice before the Supreme Court was given the jurisdiction to be the final court in governorship election petition, the Apex court, according to the Court of Appeal, has now said that non-compliance with guidelines is not enough to nullify an election. The Appeal Court is also saying that until the Supreme Court revisits the issue, they have no power to overrule the Supreme Court. Based on that, they only have to set aside the judgment of the lower court without granting any order. They did not refuse the prayers asked for by the appellants, but they did not grant same.

 

In one of the orders enrolled from the judgment, the Justices of the Appellate Court said the reliefs sought by the appellants could not be granted because that is not the current position of law and that their further evaluation of the evidence led also made the granting of such reliefs impossible.

If you read the full judgment, you will see that it is the registrar of the court that did not really couch that place very well. You know the registrar that prepared the enrolment of order is not a judge.

 

But Justice M.A Danjuma’s signature was on it, which means he read it before signing the document.

Yes, he probably did. What the Justices said was that they have reviewed the evidence, but in view of the new status of the law now, that is, the Supreme Court judgment referred to, they can’t nullify the election. That is, they could have nullified it on their review of the evidence led by the appellants. Previously, the Court of Appeal had held that non-compliance with election guidelines is equivalent to non-compliance with the Electoral Act. But the Supreme Court held in latter cases that this should not be so because non-compliance with the guidelines is different from non-compliance with the Electoral Act. So, the Appeal Court can’t nullify the election if the complaints border on non-compliance with election guidelines.

In actual fact, that is not what the Supreme Court said in any of those cases, especially Ikpeazu versus Otti referred to. I was involved in that case. What the Apex court actually said was that if election guidelines contradict the Electoral Act, the guidelines become irrelevant.

 

Do you think the Appeal Court did a good job in its decision on the matter?

I think the Appeal Court did.

 

But they left the judgment hanging

No, they did not leave it hanging. It is the false rumour that made it look like it is hanging. What they have said is that they have found in the appellants’ favour that there was an infringement of their fundamental human rights. So, based on that, they set aside the judgment of the tribunal which was against them. The next thing would have been to nullify the election and order a rerun. But the Supreme Court has said they can’t do that anymore. So, the Appeal Court is saying unless the appellants take the matter to the Supreme Court, they can’t do it. They even stated it in the judgment that unless the Supreme Court revisits the matter. They can’t review the judgment of the Supreme Court, so they have thrown it back to the Apex court. It is like saying our hands are tied. Only the Supreme Court can overrule itself. The judgment given by the Court of Appeal is only asking the two parties to go to the Supreme Court.

 

What do you see the Supreme Court doing with the case?

It depends on the arguments put forward by the Supreme Court, which has always said that they can depart from their previous decisions. But the parties before the court have to convince them why they should depart from their previous position. If you remember the case of Inakoju versus Adeleke [Ladoja’s impeachment case], the Supreme Court gave a judgment [restoring Ladoja as Oyo State governor]. But in latter cases, the court reversed itself. So, the battle for Oyo governorship is not before the Supreme Court. The appellants will try to convince the Supreme Court that the Court of Appeal was wrong in its decision and that the Apex court should correct itself in this case. The respondents will also try to convince the Supreme Court. What the Supreme Court will now do, nobody can say. It depends on the arguments put forward by both parties.

 

Tribunals usually accuse petitioners of dumping evidence on them without the petitioners demonstrating same. What did the Appeal Court say on this in the judgment?

The Appeal Court said in the judgment that it used to be the law that petitioners have to demonstrate their evidence. They now said the Supreme Court, in a 2019 judgment, a little bit veered away from that strict rule. They are now saying, once you have frontloaded your evidence, you have demonstrated it because the documents are already referred to in the petitioners’ statement on oath. So, what kind of demonstration does the tribunal want again? That is what the Appeal Court is saying. Whether the Appeal Court is right or wrong is for the Supreme Court to decide. The rule applied when the issue of frontloading had not started.

 

Makinde, Adelabu’s fate with Supreme Court —Lana
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Oyo govt will follow due process in handling ‘Olore rehab’ Centre —Commissioner https://tribuneonlineng.com/oyo-govt-will-follow-due-process-in-handling-olore-rehab-centre-commissioner/ Sun, 17 Nov 2019 01:40:03 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=265879 Tribune Online
Oyo govt will follow due process in handling ‘Olore rehab’ Centre —Commissioner

Oyo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Alhaja Fausat Joke Sanni, in this interview with STEPHEN GBADAMOSI speaks on the controversy surrounding the recently busted Olore ‘Rehabilitation’ and Islamic Centre, where over 200 inmates were found in deplorable conditions and the plans by the government on the centre. A Muslim leader in the […]

Oyo govt will follow due process in handling ‘Olore rehab’ Centre —Commissioner
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Oyo govt will follow due process in handling ‘Olore rehab’ Centre —Commissioner

Oyo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Inclusion, Alhaja Fausat Joke Sanni, in this interview with STEPHEN GBADAMOSI speaks on the controversy surrounding the recently busted Olore ‘Rehabilitation’ and Islamic Centre, where over 200 inmates were found in deplorable conditions and the plans by the government on the centre.

A Muslim leader in the state has spoken against the planned demolition of the Olore Islamic Centre, which the Oyo State Police Command and the state government recently busted and liberated its inmates. You were at the place even before the media arrived, what really happened?

The fact is that I was there [at the place]. Nobody can tell me the story. I was there live, as soon as we got the distress call. I heard a number of inmates shouting ‘Alhaja, come and liberate us.’ I was there. I took pictures. It’s not a political thing. It is also not a religious matter. I was there for more than two hours. Security people had to break the iron door. I saw it live. I was there when the door was broken and these children, the inmates, were let out.

The only other thing I saw was that some were outside sitting under the tree. They had already been liberated. And then, the others that were caged inside, so to say, were shouting. And I started to calm them down that something would be done soon. Luckily, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Shina Olukolu, was on ground. They had to take action by breaking the iron door that was used to barricade the inmates and then, they were let out. It took some time. We were there at 4.00 p.m. and left past 7.00 p.m., because they had to break that door.

 

So, there was no religious activity going on there?

Well, I didn’t see any. I didn’t see any religious activity going on there. If there was any at all, it wasn’t what I saw. Then, we had to interview them, the inmates. Our social workers had to interview them. The emphasis was on the treatment being meted out to them. Nobody talked about whatever it is they were being taught, at least, the majority of them. But it was just the inhuman treatment which evidence we saw. We saw the way their skins looked and how they were looking malnourished.

That same night, 32 of them were taken to Adeoyo State Hospital. Some of them are still there.

 

A Muslim leader, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, said some of the parents took their children to the place on their own volition. He also claimed that some of them would have turned to hardened criminals, if they hadn’t been taken there for rehabilitation and he used this position to canvass that the place should not be demolished. How do you see that?

On Wednesday, after the Monday incident, I was at the centre where we put them, Oyo State Road Transport Management Agency (OYRTMA) facility at Sanyo, where they were being fed. And with the assistance of the Commissioner of Police and the Special Assistant (SA) Security, Fatai Owoseni (retd), we were working on what was to be done immediately. We had to profile them, take their data, names, contacts, phone numbers and relevant information. From our records and those of the police, most of them were taken there by their parents, yes. Why were they taken there? From my interaction with some of the parents, they were agitated. They came to Sanyo. I had to go out to interact with them. I have the video recordings. Some of them told us that the children were delinquent. Some of them were on drugs. Some were stealing big time from their parents. Some didn’t stay in their homes any longer. So, the parents’ quest to look for solution and cure, I think, pushed the parents to take them to that place.

But many of them said that whenever they visited, they were never permitted to go into the rooms where they stayed. I can show you the video. Instead, they turbaned them, wore like three or four clothing for them and brought them under the tree outside to be received, anytime the parents visited. So, the parents had never seen their children’s bodies for them to assess the kind of punishment, so to speak, they were going through. And to me, I don’t know what to call the centre. I call it a centre, it is not a correctional centre. They said it’s an Arabic centre. Some people have been saying they went there; they graduated from there; something that was established in the 50s or 60s. Have those people gone back there to see what obtains in the facility now?  Have they assessed the kind of method that is being employed to train or heal, or correct (so to say) if they claim they teach and heal? What they (the acclaimed alumni) experienced at that time, is it the same now?

 

But the impression created by Alhaji Sanni was that the Muslim community was opposed to the planned demolition. Have they made any presentation to your ministry?

Our take is that everything that this government would do concerning this centre and any other matter will follow due process. We are aware that certain persons are out to cause religious disharmony in the state, but it will not work. We are far more united than they can imagine.

I will still address that issue. A group of Muslims came to me last week (penultimate) Wednesday. They said they were from Bodija and I entertained them. They said they came to express their feelings on the matter and one of them said an influential royal father in one of the neighbouring states also went to that place and some other prominent people attended the place. He said his own child was there. He said he wondered what those inmates would do if they were released. About four of them spoke. They were up to 10 or 15 people.

But I asked them ‘were you there when we saw them? If you were there and you saw your child in that situation, I wonder what would prompt any parent to continue keeping his/her children in such place.’

See, this is not about religion; this thing is not about religion. People should not whip up religious sentiments. I want to appeal to the people of Oyo State not to make this matter look as if someone is being humiliated because of a particular religion. That is not it.

 

In a section of that interview, it was said that the Muslim community in the state would not be happy if that centre is demolished. You are a Muslim, is there a consensus among Muslims in the state on this matter?

I just said that last week Wednesday a group came. They said they were representatives of Oyo State Muslims and that they were not going to accept it (the alleged planned demolition). They said the people that were there were learning Quran, that the place had been there for a number of years and that the products of the place were good people in the society and all I had said. The permanent secretary was there. I told them ‘you are representing Muslims in Oyo State?’ The first thing I said was ‘who is from Saki here?’ No one raised a hand. Before I could say who came from Ogbomoso, one person said he came from Iseyin. I am from Iseyin, and I am sure that person’s intonation does not sound like someone from Iseyin. I contained all the issues that they raised. But I said they should not go with the idea that a group was being victimised. That was what I told them in principle. I suspected foul play. No other person, I thought, was from any other place other than the immediate vicinity of the incident.

I told them that if they claimed that the place had been in existence for years, is what exists there today, the same as what existed at their time? Later, the person that appeared as their leader said they raised an emergency team, they didn’t have time to go round. And I said they should have explained that ab initio, instead of saying they represented the Oyo State Muslims.

 

Apart from the issue of the planned demolition of the centre, what is the plan of the government for people who need correctional homes, for the sake of the future?

For this particular occurrence, Governor Seyi Makinde has explicitly said we are going to investigate and follow due process and we are still investigating. The government is not going to do things arbitrarily.

I am not sure the governor actually used the word demolition. People should be careful about their choice of words. We will investigate and take appropriate actions. The media should also be careful of interpretation so as not to make the public overreact.

 

The extant case appears to be a product of the lacuna created by the failure of government over the years, leading to the existence of the acclaimed correctional facilities. What is the government doing to bridge this lacuna?

The government is already considering doing something about it. Very soon, we will look at it holistically to ensure that correctional and rehabilitation centres are established across the senatorial zones. I can’t promise all local governments now. I can say that this is an eye-opener.

I want to say that some people have said that we have non-Muslim organisations like that where inhuman treatments are being meted out to people, where people are being chained and all that, if we hadn’t been alerted, we might not have known. That is why I want to appeal to the public that if they see anything, they should tell the government, so that government can go in and right the wrongs.

As a Muslim, one should not sit here and see bad things happening to brothers and sisters of our faith without lifting a finger. And that is what I am not happy about. Governor Seyi Makinde is not a person like that. People should not make things look like he hates a particular set of people because of their religion. This government is about the basic respect for human lives and the issue of humanity entirely, no matter the religion or wherever part of the state anybody comes from. The governor has said that anybody that is planning to divide the state along religious line should look for another job to do. And I want to reiterate that.

If you are truly a parent, you would look at those children and think again if that place is the right place for your child to be, if you see the video or pictures of them.

 

What is the plan of government for those that were rescued from the place?

None of those in our custody is well. All those who are well and have been certified alright, mentally and physically, have been reunited with their family members. They have our numbers. They can reach out to us. If there is any help we can render, we will be there.

Again, we have a monitoring process in place. Our workers visit homes, apart from this. There is one foreigner among those rescued, a Togolese. He has been handed over to the immigration by this state government, because it is beyond us, and we are aware the man has been reunited with his family in his country. So, we are about humanity and good living of the people on our own shores.

Oyo govt will follow due process in handling ‘Olore rehab’ Centre —Commissioner
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I’m the first Foursquare GO who is younger than the church —Rev Samuel Aboyeji https://tribuneonlineng.com/im-the-first-foursquare-go-who-is-younger-than-the-church-rev-samuel-aboyeji/ Sat, 16 Nov 2019 05:00:55 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=265593 Tribune Online
I’m the first Foursquare GO who is younger than the church —Rev Samuel Aboyeji

Foursquare, Church

Rev Samuel Aboyeji is the incoming General Overseer of The Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, FAVOUR BOLUWADE and ENIOLA OYEMOLADE, he speaks about his journey into ministerial work and his plans for the church. Excerpts:   When you came into the ministry, did you ever envisage that one day, […]

I’m the first Foursquare GO who is younger than the church —Rev Samuel Aboyeji
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
I’m the first Foursquare GO who is younger than the church —Rev Samuel Aboyeji

Foursquare, Church

Rev Samuel Aboyeji is the incoming General Overseer of The Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, FAVOUR BOLUWADE and ENIOLA OYEMOLADE, he speaks about his journey into ministerial work and his plans for the church. Excerpts:

 

When you came into the ministry, did you ever envisage that one day, you will become the General Overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church?

I came into the ministry for the first time as an undergraduate in the university. There was a small fellowship and our leader used to take us to the camp anytime we have a semester break. That was my first introduction to the ministry as leaders in fellowship on campus. We go from time to time for retreats. Because of that, when it was time to have my mandatory National Youth Service, I had it with the Faith Liberation Hour Ministry, which is known as Living Faith Church. I’ve been in the ministry, but I’ve never thought of becoming a General Overseer one day. It was when I came to Lagos for my MBA at the University of Lagos that I used to attend Foursquare Church and in 1988, I  joined the church. The way I joined, I couldn’t have imagined that I would become G.O because I didn’t join as the first set of people to join the church and looking at the age of the Church, such a thing wouldn’t have crossed my mind. I just went to Foursquare with my heart committed to serving God, to love Him more and to learn more about Him.

 

How did you feel when you got to know you were going to take over from the outgoing G.O?

I started avoiding him. I felt by doing that, I would escape it. Things that would naturally take me to him, I started avoiding it. That was my initial reaction until I prayed and God began to give me confidence and of course, I looked through the scripture and it was a natural response. To everybody that is called by God, the natural response is to feel inadequate and insufficient. After then, I was comforted and knew my behaviour was not abnormal after all and began to build confidence day by day, it got clearer until the election on the 20th of July, 2019.

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You were a district overseer and regional coordinator. What has been your experience in leadership so far?

Since 1988, I’ve been in Foursquare. Apart from playing leadership roles within fellowships on campus, I can say within the church setting, all the experiences I’ve had have been within Foursquare. It has been a very rich experience because of how I joined. I didn’t join as a pastor. I walked into the Somolu Church and I was given a class as a student in the Sunday School and I became a teacher eventually and house fellowship coordinator, then I became a CFM Secretary until one of our founding fathers, the late Rev James Boyejo, got to know that I was in Somolu. He and Bishop Oyedepo had always been part of the ministerial summit that was held in Benin by the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa. When he got to know I  was in Foursquare, he insisted I joined him in Akoka Church. There, he made me a General Sunday School Superintendent. That exposed me again to another area of leadership within the Foursquare Church and within a short time, they made me one of the assistant pastors. It was during those times he encouraged me to go to the Bible School. I felt I was already a pastor and didn’t need Bible School training, but he persuaded me and used his money to get the form for me so that I could go. I went there and enriched my experience in leadership.

It was from being an assistant pastor that I was asked to go and pastor a church in a place called Lady Lak in Lagos. I pastored the church for two years and then, my employer, Shell, asked me to go to Warri. I was pastoring part-time. As I got to Warri, I was asked by the leadership of the church to take over.

 

Are you still with Shell?

I joined Shell in 1992.  While I worked there, one great support I had was from my wife. We both sat down and said if we were going to progress with our service to God and also make ends meet, have a good home and train our children, then both of us cannot be running helter-skelter. So, she graciously agreed with me to face the ministry and home full time while I face Shell and the ministry. That in a way assisted me greatly. When the Warri district was inaugurated in 2006, and the Lord gave us a direct message that we were created to multiply, so we were just 43 churches when we took off, but by 2010, it was pretty difficult for me to continue and the Lord reminded me of a covenant I made with him earlier that when I clocked 50, I would not serve man again.  By March 2010, I had to tell my employer that if I was given the opportunity, I would like to go. It was pretty difficult for them because it was at the peak of my career. We just had the Niger Delta crisis and I was one of the people leading the negotiations with the communities and God gave me so much favour with them, being a man of God. That was also the time Yar’Adua came with the Amnesty programme and we capitalised on that to bring peace and restore our production, because we were shut down completely. So it was at a peak of when they were looking forward to getting me to do more, that I left.

From the leadership experience you’ve shared with us, one could see that God has been preparing you for this work. What plans do you now have as you are taking over the leadership on Sunday?

The first thing you’ll notice about this church is that this is not a new church. In fact, as I reflected and prayed, the Lord opened my eyes to see that I am the first General Overseer of this church that is younger than the church. Having known that, we have started praying and seeking the face of God on what direction He wants us to go. The mission of the church is clear. We are here in Nigeria to preach the Foursquare message which is Jesus is the saviour. Jesus is the healer, Jesus is the baptizer and Jesus is the soon coming king. That is the message that the whole world needs and we even need it more in Nigeria. When you look at Matthew 9:37, it says what a huge harvest. That huge harvest is our focus using four approaches. The first one is what we are doing currently which is church-planting.

Rev Felix Meduoye has built substantially on what was done by his own predecessors. When he was taking over, the church was between 1,500-2,000. He had used his focus on mission powered prayer, the decade of multiplication which is going to end next year. He used that to focus on missions and harvest. What we want to do is to build on that as far as church-planting is concerned. We already have the foundation, so we’ll build on that using what we call our RICHES approach. Riverine Coastal and Interland Churches Enlargement Scheme. We have a lot of churches now. As at the last count, we have about 4,400 churches, in Nigeria. All those churches that are in the hinterland and riverine, there are still a lot more we need to plant as well as in the cities. We want to continue with the church-planting. We are already envisaging having three product lines.

The second one is the issue of  the Youth megachurches because if you look at Nigeria, we are a youthful nation. Experts have said we are the third-largest youth population in the world, coming after India and China. So, we will be having a youth encounter and empowerment summit. Youth encounter will take care of the spiritual side because until someone has an encounter with Christ and also empower them. We are not only ready to reach them with the Gospel, but we are also ready, God helping us, to be able to meet their needs physically. In this case, we are going to look at the areas where we can mobilise resources to help young people. Those who need to be empowered to complete their education, to have a skill with which they can have a livelihood and those who need to be empowered to have a job. Those youths on encounter and empowerment summit will focus on that specifically so as to reach out to the young people with the gospel because the gospel now has to be total, not just having encounter. The encounter with Jesus should translate into fulfilling God’s program for their lives.

Apart from that, we are also looking at the welfare of our pastors. A church that has been in existence for 64 years will have a large number of pastors. As at the last count, just like we have 4,400 churches, we also have more than 4,400 pastors. When you look at those pastors, many of them have put in years of service and in those days when people came into the ministry, they just came, not looking for anything. They gave everything. Now that God has taken the Church from glory to glory, and we can see the earthly glory being manifested in the church, we want to see how God will help us to harness these resources. First of all, to take care of these people and not make them regret answering  the call of God, and to use this also as a way of motivating the young ones who may want to come to the ministry because it is the way you treat the old ones that will either encourage or discourage the young ones coming. I hear people say it that some children of pastors usually vow never to be pastors because of what they’ve seen their fathers go through.

So by the grace of God, we are looking at how God can help us. Even if we cannot solve all their problems, let us make a difference and let them be happy that they serve God. We are trusting God that if we focus on these three areas, it will impact every area of the church and make us fulfil the calling the Lord has given to us. So we need a lot of prayers, that is another area of focus. We also intend to intensify prayers. Some of the programmes that are on ground that encourage us to pray, we are going to continue with them because you can’t do anything without prayers. Prayer is so key. We may have good ideas and plans but if you don’t pray, you are not likely to achieve anything. So, we intend to focus on prayer so that God, who has taken the Church to this level, will take the church further.

 

The office of the pastor has been bastardised, unlike in times past, it used to be honoured. What can be done about it?

It’s not even just the pastors, but even the born-again Christians. Now, you can’t even recruit anyone for anything now in the church because you may not find faithful people. That shows the level of degradation. We missed it the day some of the churches coming up decided we don’t need Sunday Schools anymore. Most of the churches don’t have anywhere where they give their people in-depth teaching. All they rely on is Sunday morning preaching which is not even up to an hour. The Sunday School gives you the opportunity to ask questions when you are confused and to relate it to life. This is what we call discipleship. We should preach the gospel and also teach others to observe. Now we only preach but don’t teach. Those are the areas where we missed it. Until we return to the word, the problem won’t stop.  Don’t just go preaching, go make disciples. You can’t be a disciple without being disciplined.

 

Message to Nigerian Tribune at 70.

Firstly, anyone who has been in business and has lasted this long, it means you are doing it well. So I commend you. A lot of newspaper houses have come and gone within the period of these 70 years, just like we cannot count how many churches have folded up within our 64 years of existence.  You have done well to have to stand your ground. Kudos to you. It means you must have some good tradition, quality culture and you must have been evolving with whatever changes have been coming because that is one of the things that kill businesses. You must evolve and keep up with change. We thank God for you and God is going to help you.

 

Nigerian Tribune

I’m the first Foursquare GO who is younger than the church —Rev Samuel Aboyeji
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Leaving as Foursquare General Overseer is not a retirement for me —Rev. Meduoye https://tribuneonlineng.com/leaving-as-foursquare-general-overseer-is-not-a-retirement-for-me-rev-meduoye/ Sat, 16 Nov 2019 04:54:38 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=265588 Tribune Online
Leaving as Foursquare General Overseer is not a retirement for me —Rev. Meduoye

Foursquare, Church

Reverend Felix Meduoye, the General Overseer of  The Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria will tomorrow, November 17, handover the affairs of the church to his successor, Reverend Samuel Aboyeji. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, FAVOUR BOLUWADE and ENIOLA OYEMOLADE, he speaks about his experience in the ministry, life after retirement and qualities of a […]

Leaving as Foursquare General Overseer is not a retirement for me —Rev. Meduoye
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Leaving as Foursquare General Overseer is not a retirement for me —Rev. Meduoye

Foursquare, Church

Reverend Felix Meduoye, the General Overseer of  The Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria will tomorrow, November 17, handover the affairs of the church to his successor, Reverend Samuel Aboyeji. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, FAVOUR BOLUWADE and ENIOLA OYEMOLADE, he speaks about his experience in the ministry, life after retirement and qualities of a good leader. Excerpts:

 

When you took over nine years ago what were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

When I took over by the special grace of God, nine years ago, the organisation was in a very difficult state, in the sense that the former General Overseer did not formally hand over to anyone because he did not get the majority vote needed for him to continue, but the constitution brought in an acting general overseer.  That led to a lot of complications but we thank God that over time, God helped us to overcome. So, when I came in it was a little bit stormy but God has made that something of the past.

 

Every young person has dreams and aspirations in life, how easy was it for you to leave all for the ministry?

I actually gave my life to Christ in the year  1972, at a church service. Incidentally, my father used to be a Jehovah’s Witness and it’s usually difficult for Jehovah witnesses to be made to see any other side of the Christian faith. Fortunately for me, I attended Foursquare C`hurch afterwards. I didn’t intend to be a pastor, I just loved serving the Lord. But I would say the mantle initially fell on me when my pastor made an arrangement with me to be in charge of one of our branches and that was how I became a pastor in 1977. I was working at the West African Milk Company Nigeria Plc (WAMCO), which is now known as Friesland Foods. By the grace of God, I rose to the position of one of the executive directors two years before I eventually left a secular job. The calling was very prompting.  I remember a time I wanted to take off my jacket and heard the voice of the Lord saying to me “unless you resign, you will never have the needed peace you want to have. “A few months later I dropped my letter of resignation and crossed to full-time ministry in 1991. And I thank God that although I was retained on the board for another six months, thereafter, I completely left the secular world, I don’t do any commercial or secular thing by the grace of God, I just gave myself completely to this and God has been taking care of us.

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Sir, you came into the ministry when being a pastor was not popular or fashionable. What were the things that made you stick to the call?

When I got the prompting to go into full-time ministry,  I was married with five children and at that time they were in primary school. So, I began to calculate , which was why it took two years to make up my mind. It was really difficult to explain this urge to anybody because it was the Lord’s calling. Not everyone would understand the urge. My children used to attend a private primary school that was pretty expensive, because we wanted to give them the best. When the firstborn finished primary school, we moved him to a public school close to where we lived and in that school, the students used to jump the fence. One day, I was coming from the office and was sitting in my car when the Lord asked me why I decided to bring the boy there. He was asking me if it was because I thought if I left the job, there won’t be enough money to pay the children’s fees again.  My wife and I later discussed it and we took them back to private schools. By way of testimony, I had left secular work and all our children went through private schools, how it happened, I cannot explain. All of them are doing well to the glory of God. I can say God actually called me to profit me. That’s the truth.

 

So, after this what next?

The first thing I would say is in God’s business, there is no retirement. I am only retiring from the office of the General Overseer. I still have a strong witness that God is not finished with me yet. I’m asking the Lord not to finish with me so, as I leave office, I’m giving myself some little time to know how to be close to Him until I’m out of this earth.

 

How were you able to balance all your duties, being the GO, a father and husband?

God did help us. You know the story was told of someone who crossed the Thames River and was asked how he was able to cross it after many people had tried and failed?  He answered them that there was a rope designed underneath that he could walk on but could not be seen by others. If God’s hand is in it, all the resources you need will be granted unto you. Then God gave me a wife. My wife schooled to an extent and I told her she would have to drop everything for the work, you know when you have a wife who stands by you, you will be helped. You know when you go out there and face challenges and you come back to talk to your wife who sees things in a spiritual way just as you do, it becomes easy. I thank her often for taking care of the kids. She was always around with them when I’m out there and she was doing the most. We travel together a lot but she talks to the children.

 

We hear a lot of negative things about the church these days, what can be done to bring sanity back into the church?

It is because of the depravity of humanity. If one out of four persons misbehaves, the good four would not make the headlines, the tendency is for us to want to hear that which is not right. Evil moves faster than good, in the media and everywhere. But I can say that there are many Christians out there who are serving God faithfully. Out of the disciples of Jesus, the one who betrayed him ate with him. Another thing is in the church history, when Constantine was in power, there was serious persecution until he legislated Christianity as a national religion because of the miracles he saw and so the church increased. So with enlargement, standards began to fall.  You know these days when one says he is a pastor, it comes with privileges. In those days, those who converted to Christianity were sent out of their homes by their parents. Nowadays people are in church for money, connections, influence and so on. Jesus referred to it and He said in the last day, there will be separation. But the emphasis in the media is usually on the bad news, we have seen people healed miraculously, but those ones are not reported.

 

One of our majors is problems in Nigeria is leadership. As a leader, what is your definition of leadership?

I preach leadership in church. I see a leader as someone who is walking in front and others are following.  However, there are different types of leadership,we have political, spiritual and so on. If we take each one of them we might add or subtract. Jesus is the model for the church leader, a church leader is a servant. And it is where the church leader finds it difficult to be a  servant leader that problem sets in. A political leader should be someone who has an interest in the common man, in the populace. I’m not referring to only the presidency but the other arms of government as well. One of the conquests Jesus made was self. Jesus is God but he didn’t struggle to say He’s God. He washed his disciples’ feet. A managing director would not want to sweep his own office.  We have the problem of self here in our part of the world. We have been going about the minimum wage here and there. Why can’t a senator decide that half of his pay should be taken, and so with others so that money can go round.  From the inception in office, a politician is getting prepared to get back all that he spent during elections. How can a person possess billions of naira worth of jewellery because of access to petroleum?  As followers too, we also put a lot of pressure on people we elect into offices. We tend to want these people to do something for us, asking for what cannot be achieved in ten years in one day. Refusal to do it then means such person in power does not love us. You see where the leadership problem lies now?  It’s everywhere.

 

Your successor, a new General overseer will be installed on Sunday ,can you tell us a bit about him and what words do you have for him?

He has been in the ministry for long, as district overseer and midwest region. In three consecutive years in our district’s rating, he always came top. He is experienced. I believe God chose him. The majority win he had was sufficient, with enough glaring gap. I can say he’s a spiritual man and that’s what we need. I’m saying to him I love him, he should continue to be a servant leader and endeavour to stay close to God despite the demands of office. He has to blend the need to stay close to God while performing his duties.

 

Nigerian Tribune

Leaving as Foursquare General Overseer is not a retirement for me —Rev. Meduoye
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Tribune@70:When the first copies of rolled out… —HID Awolowo https://tribuneonlineng.com/when-the-first-copies-of-rolled-out-hid-awolowo/ Sat, 16 Nov 2019 04:44:15 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=265583 Tribune Online
Tribune@70:When the first copies of rolled out… —HID Awolowo

In the early hours of November 16, 1949, the legend, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, his jewel of inestimable value, Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo, and their first son, the late Segun Awolowo, watched the very first copies of Nigerian Tribune roll out of the printing machine. In a chat with SEGUN OLATUNJI, DAPO OGUNWUSI and ABIODUN RAUFU, […]

Tribune@70:When the first copies of rolled out… —HID Awolowo
Tribune Online

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Tribune Online
Tribune@70:When the first copies of rolled out… —HID Awolowo

In the early hours of November 16, 1949, the legend, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, his jewel of inestimable value, Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo, and their first son, the late Segun Awolowo, watched the very first copies of Nigerian Tribune roll out of the printing machine. In a chat with SEGUN OLATUNJI, DAPO OGUNWUSI and ABIODUN RAUFU, Editors of Nigerian Tribune, Sunday Tribune and Saturday Tribune, when the Nigerian Tribune turned 50 in 1999, the Yeyeoba of Ife recalled that very first night when history rolled out of the bowels of courage. Happy reading:

 

Mama, the day Tribune was first printed, on the evening of November 16, 1949, did you witness the actual maiden printing exercise? And how was it?

I was there throughout that first night as well as Papa and my late son (Segun). We all witnessed the printing that night.

 

Around what time was that

Around 12:00 midnight.

 

What feeling did you have when these copies were rolling out?

I was quite happy and excited. You see, Papa and myself had been going there every evening to see the project for about two weeks to make sure everything was in order. Before that time, Papa was writing a series of articles in the Daily Times. He was writing on “Abrahall must go”. So, my late son jokingly enough, said “Papa but Tribune has not been writing on “Abrahall must go” and we all laughed and said we can’t start with that article.

 

Can you recall some dramatic events which you consider remarkable, either negative or positive in the life of Tribune?

What I remember is that during the crisis, the travails and tribulations we had, you know, Papa was not around then. So, I had to take over the financial management from my own business because Papa had been using his own money to finance the Tribune.

But this time he was not around I had to take it up. Even as far as paying the workers. There were times when I almost ran out of the house when the manager came maybe to collect funds.

 

Then, they used to come for money?

Yes, because you know maybe we gave them just something to share, like two-two pounds each, which would not last them for so long. So, from time to time, they came for financial help and I was doing this from my own business then.

 

And you never felt like giving up the paper?

When I remembered how painful it would be for Papa, I didn’t feel so because as soon as he came back from England, where he went to study, he told me that he wanted to go into politics and if one wanted to go into politics, one should have his paper because if you don’t have any newspaper, if you write anything and it is given to somebody or to a newspaper now, they wouldn’t carry such article. We all agreed that a newspaper should be established.

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Was there anytime when maybe because there were problems, you felt like packing the whole thing up?

No. Because as I told you, it would cost Papa a lot of things and I knew his mind.

 

Tell us about those memorable hard times.

There was a time that a head of government (I won’t mention names) said nobody should be seen with the Tribune.

When the copies were printed, they would bring them down to our house at Oke-Bola covered with cloth or something like that and people would be coming to buy from there, only one penny. You would then hide it under your armpit and take it away. And there was another man whom the head of government detailed at Oke-Bola to keep watch to arrest anybody caught with Tribune.

So, there was a day Mr. Biodun Falade just carelessly held one of the copies going back to his own house which was not too far from us. So, as soon as this man, the detailed man saw Falade, he arrested him.

We had to run helter-skelter before we were able to bail him out. And people used to come from as far as Secretariat in Agodi to buy. It was only one penny.

 

What was the image of the paper like then?

People liked it because they liked Papa and the party which he had. That was why they used to come to Oke-Bola to buy.

 

What name was it called?

Tribune. Tribune is Tribune

 

What is your vision for the paper?

Many things. Two days ago, I read that Tribune was voted second best paper in the country. I wish in the nearest future that the Tribune be seen and called the first paper in the country.

 

What do you recall as Papa’s vision for the Tribune.

It’s the progress of the paper that Papa wanted. Because I had taken up the chairmanship since Papa became the leader of government business. He had been managing the paper himself, but when he became the leader of government business, he said I should take up the chairmanship and since then, I’ve been the chairman.

I was the Vice-Chairman before that time, thinking with him on how to produce the best in Tribune. Since we have been producing the Tribune, you know, everybody likes it. They still want it to be much greater.

 

What are those qualities that have made the Tribune an enduring and long-lasting paper?

It’s the interest which we have in mind-interest of the readers and the staff. We have been changing management – directors, editors, etc. So, I think it’s because of the interest we have.

 

Do yo read cartoons in the Tribune? Can you recall some very good ones?

There have been many cartoons which I read and I have laughed and laughed.

 

What legacy do you want Tribune to continue to represent?

I want Tribune to be a high quality paper with excellent and exhaustive reports as well as a paper identified with the truth and honesty. Those are the things I will like it to be. To be a world-class paper that is honest and truthful.

 

What’s your opinion about the disenchantment of people with some of Papa’s erstwhile disciples? Do you think they would have behaved like this in Papa’s presence?

Maybe they’ll not do so. It’s because Papa had promised to give people their dues. Well in his absence, now everybody wants to be a leader, that’s why things are like this.

When people talk about Afenifere and not about the founder of Afenifere, I just laugh at them because I know what happened. Papa founded Afenifere through Egbe Omo Oduduwa. If anybody says he is the founder now, nobody will argue with him.

 

When Awo was alive, people were not behaving like this…?

Well, I will say that it is because now the country is open to everybody to say that he or she is the leader now and you could say I’m the leader now and you could say you are the leader. But people know who the real leader is. The leadership of the country, people know… it’s a difficult country.

 

Let me congratulate you because experts will tell us that most times, its more difficult to sustain a legacy than to start it?

Thank you very much, one thing I will say more is that it is because I’m part and parcel of the Tribune because Tribune is the first paper which I will read in the morning. If by 9 o’clock, I haven’t seen Tribune, I’m always worried.

Like yesterday, it was about 9.30 a.m. before we got the Tribune. So, I was telling one of my drivers whether he would go to Ijebu-Ode to know what happened. I’m part and parcel of Tribune. I read it before I read any other paper, and if I see or hear of any portion that I think mustn’t be there, I will telephone to advise. I would call their attention and immediately there would be corrections.

So, I’m more or less one of the staff of Tribune.

 

At the 50th anniversary media luncheon, Mr. Lade Bonuola mentioned the issue of Papa calling you jewel of inestimable value. Are there things going on now that you feel would not be so with Papa around?

In fairness, having lived together for 50 years, such moments can’t but occur. As the idea of jewel of inestimable value, I think the basis of that statement could be traced to the close interaction we had together in the past.

When we got married, he said he wanted a housewife which I didn’t like. My mother and grandmother were all traders and they protested.

Eventually when Papa went abroad for studies, I withdrew the money he kept in the bank for our upkeep and started business.

After some time, I started sending money to him from my income and he was surprised.

He came back to say no more suffering, I should abandon the trade. I didn’t like that and we pulled it for some time. Eventually, he was glad I was into business.

Anything about the home front, our children and such things, I took care for him. So, I think the comment might have come from such a feeling.

 

How frequently did he hold down issues or decision to have you advise him on them?

He used to consult me on many issues and I would say let me think about it. I would then advise him. He would follow it and it was usually right.

 

Nigerian Tribune

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AFC will pioneer early-stage funding of Nigeria’s mining projects — Osam Iyahen https://tribuneonlineng.com/afc-will-pioneer-early-stage-funding-of-nigerias-mining-projects-osam-iyahen/ Wed, 13 Nov 2019 01:15:53 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=264405 Tribune Online
AFC will pioneer early-stage funding of Nigeria’s mining projects — Osam Iyahen

Osam Iyahen is a Director at Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a leading investment grade infrastructure solutions provider, created by sovereign African states to provide pragmatic solutions to Africa’s Infrastructure deficit and challenging operating environment, by developing and financing infrastructure, natural resources, and industrial assets, for enhanced productivity and economic growth of African States. He is […]

AFC will pioneer early-stage funding of Nigeria’s mining projects — Osam Iyahen
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AFC will pioneer early-stage funding of Nigeria’s mining projects — Osam Iyahen

Osam Iyahen is a Director at Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a leading investment grade infrastructure solutions provider, created by sovereign African states to provide pragmatic solutions to Africa’s Infrastructure deficit and challenging operating environment, by developing and financing infrastructure, natural resources, and industrial assets, for enhanced productivity and economic growth of African States.

He is in charge of the Natural Resources sector where he leads client coverage, transaction origination, in addition to providing technical advisory in deal execution. He has over a decade of international energy finance experience, including involvement in multi-billion dollar development projects with international institutions.

Osam obtained his MBA from the Johnson School of Management Cornell University (Johnson School of Management) in New York State. He is bilingual and has presented and moderated various topics at international oil & gas, mining and infrastructure conferences.

Osam was part of the discussant at the just-concluded Nigeria Mining Week (NMW) in Abuja. In this interview, he speaks on the challenges facing the sector and how the government can leverage its natural resources advantage to advance the Nigerian economy. Excerpt

How can the mining sector advance the Nigerian economy and income?

If you look at the current contribution of the mining sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it is estimated to be about 0.3 percent compared to 5 percent in the 1960s and 1970s. Interestingly, the Nigerian government has a target of increasing the mining sector’s contribution to GDP in the next few years to 5-10 percent, which is very ambitious and will require a lot of government support. However, to do this, there needs to be more investment in the sector and currently there is a funding gap. This is why African Finance Corporation exists —  to engage in mining projects and help overcome government capacity gaps such as financing, technical, regulatory framework, etc.

Secondly, the Nigerian economy requires diversification – into mining, agriculture, etc – and this is one of the key points of the current administration. Obviously, we need to do more in terms of liberalising the sector and having more investor-friendly regulations that would allow the inflow of new funds into the sector.

Also, one of the most important things that needs improvement is revenue collection. Currently, the royalty collection is relatively weak in Nigeria. There is illegal mining and artisanal mining, wherein the government does not benefit from in terms of taxation. These procedures need to be formalised so that the country can accrue some benefits.

What are the challenges confronting the mining sector and how can the government lend a helping hand in resolving them?

The most important thing to be done is drive investment into the sector and, for this, we need access to credible data and information i.e. geosciences data and geological data, which will be archived and easy to disseminate to investors. It is my understanding that there are a lot of investors who are interested in the Nigerian mining sector but they just don’t know where to start. The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has now started to put together all the mining data into an online portal which will provide relevant information to potential investors who are looking into the Nigerian mining sector as a destination. I urge the Ministry to fast track and formalise the process and provide viable information to all relevant stakeholders so that people will know where to get information and data around the sector.

Something else that can be an improvement for the sector is to do with the physical policies and incentives. Nigeria has probably one of the friendliest tax regimes but I think more can still be done in order to attract more investors such as relax some regulatory policies to make it easier for them to enter the country. For example, the three-year tax holiday needs to be reconsidered. I think the current one is sufficient, but it can still be made more friendly.  Also, duties paid on imported items, such as expatriate quota, and other fiscal regimes should be looked into. They are relatively good right now but we can improve on some of those incentives.

Consequently, the perception of the sector around the world needs to change. It will change with examples and successes.  The moment you have a success story for mining projects that can be demonstrated to the investors, the investor takes a second look at the project. Only a few investors would want to be the first to go in. To that extent, the Nigerian government can leverage a successful story and show investors that it is possible to have a profitable mining investment in Nigeria.

The above, I would say, are the most important issues and improvements to be done, but further to this, I would say that illegal mining is part of the issues at hand. It is a problem because, as I have mentioned earlier, you don’t get the full benefit for the government regarding tax collection.

ALSO READ: NNPC assures of transparency in selection of lead insurer for oil assets

Are the Nigerian laws, regulatory instruments and taxes friendly to the mining companies and project sponsors?

I would say Nigerian taxes are friendly when compared to some other African countries. Currently, there are various tax incentives in place for the mining industry, such as the three-year tax holiday as well as the import duty waiver.  Although as I reference above, I do think there can be improvements made here.

What are the alternative funding sources for mining projects particularly the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), how do you source for the fund?

There are several projects in Nigeria that have not been able to move beyond the early stage because of lack of funding and the right type of reporting or data to allow investors to invest because they do not have access to credible data.

AFC is able to intervene with early-stage funding for projects, such as the pre-feasibility study of a project, to support scoping-level work as well as to look for resources. Sometimes, sponsors need just $2 or $3 million to do some drilling work to prop up resources and AFC is well-positioned to pioneer that type of early-stage funding. For instance, if we can get $20 to $30 million size funds to intervene in four or five projects with an outcome of one or two being successful, that is a good outcome.

We also provide larger funding for existing projects, such as the Segilola gold project in Nigeria which is operated by Thor Explorations. AFC has provided a $78 million financing package for the construction and ramp-up of its project as part of an $87.5 million funding round. This is an example of establishing a flagship project to position Nigeria as a credible investment destination. This investment into Thor Explorations is the largest investment in the mining sector ever made by a private institution, which we hope will encourage more investment in the future.

With regards to sourcing the funding, we do this in various ways through funding from governments and institutions as part of our goal of building a coalition of global investors to support our mandate of providing solutions to Africa’s infrastructure deficit. A recent example is our debut dual currency Samurai Term Loan Facility, which raised US$ 233 million.

How can the government strengthen local capacity and private sector participation in the mining sector? Why do we always go out shopping for investors, are there not indigenous investors in Nigeria.

The reality is that we need funding. Indigenous companies do not have the necessary funding, and if local financing institutions can’t provide the funds to support the projects then we need to go outside the country to get funding. Unfortunately, the local financing environment is not set up for these types of projects due to the early-stage risk and exploration risk, and as a result, many commercial banks are not ready to get involved or fund long term projects.

In terms of alternative sources of funding and development financing institutions, National Import and Export Bank (NEXIM)and Bank of Industry are doing great. The organisation [NEXIM] has been doing mining financing for a long time and it has the balance sheet and the network of mining financing, however it still doesn’t have enough funding because there are constraints. Therefore, there needs to be encouragement of more private sector funding and foreign investment.

AFC offers a solution. Since its establishment in 2007, we have been at the forefront of pioneering infrastructure solutions that transform lives, communities and economies. We also work to attract more investors into the continent, and our track record enables us to create a strong network globally.  I believe for more investment to happen, there needs to be more trust from investors. Hopefully we are a good example of building that trust and delivering positive returns. AFC is seeking to make early interventions by serving as an incubator for projects, preparing them to meet the tests of financiers so they are bankable, as well as implementing de-risking strategies.

There is a lot of opportunity abroad. Institutional investors with a focus on Africa have a current combined AUM of US$ 11 trillion, with an average 5% of their portfolio targeted for allocation to infrastructure investment. Insurance companies can provide balance sheet optimisation coverage for these financiers, for example the provision of a securitisation program for an investment. At AFC, we used the securitisation of a loan facility of EUR577 million for an asset that required debt refinancing in Cote d’Ivoire.

What is your advice to the miners, host communities and the government on how to achieve profitable mining exploration and peaceful coexistence?

That’s an interesting question and an important one to us at AFC because we take environmental and social issues seriously – we see it as a bedrock of any successful project.  Perhaps, it is one of the most important things for any project, if the community is not happy, you can’t execute and deliver a meaningful project. That is one of the first things we look at in terms of commercial viability of projects to the extent that the government has a framework for environmental and a social impact planning for approving a project that is to be well scrutinised to ensure that any company embarking on a project has a very good environmental and social impact before it can do such and that needs to meet up with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) compliance standard.  The government must also play its role as a regulator.

We were successfully involved in a project with Alufer Mining Ltd, which brought these elements together. The Bel Air mine in Western Guinea was delivered on time, to budget, while creating a net positive impact on the surrounding communities, which was a key goal of the project. At the time of the announcement in August 2018, 40 community projects were completed, including small infrastructure projects that focused on power, water and waste management. This underpins our strategy, as we focus on creating ‘ecosystems’ from investment, that help provide long term benefits to the economy.  We believe a responsible investor is the one that relates well with the community. The community should be able to benefit from the provision of power and water, be employed by the project to ensure that there is a knowledge transfer, etc.

Every company owes it to itself to provide a social plan for projects, for instance, most companies have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding this policy.  Similarly, we have agreements with communities that are mutual between both parties. Unfortunately for many mining companies in Nigeria, those plans are not in place, and this is where the government needs to step in to ensure a harmonious relationship between the project sponsors and the communities, otherwise, it will never be successful.

In addition, it is important to also think about the perspective of the local community and ensure they don’t believe investors are encroaching on their land but see this as a positive collaboration.

What are your expectations and a five-year plan for the mining sector?

I think in Nigeria, if the current policies are pursued, in terms of access to improved and reliable geological data, training of competent industry personnel, relaxation of some of the fiscal terms and the initiatives which are being put in place, can improve the mining sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to at least 3 to 5 percent. The country is full of natural resources but I think they need to be well harnessed and a lot needs to be done to increase the use of our resources domestically. For example, road construction requires bitumen, coal for power, etc. Those are the things that will help the government if there is an enabling environment. Mining survives mostly on infrastructure. It does not matter how many deposits you have if they cannot be transferred to the end-user. The Nigerian government needs to ensure that there is a connection between the mining sites and the ports, because the linkage will help the economy.

Recently, there were media reports that the nation’s congested ports are delaying the take-off of the Dangote Refinery. What is the implication of this trend on the Nigerian economy?

Of course, it has an impact. For any economy to grow, we need accessible and functional ports. Infrastructure is extremely important to ensure that any industrial project is successful. When one part of the chain is not working well, this impacts the rest of the economy.

As I have said, we believe it is important to invest in every step of the value chain and looking at infrastructure investments holistically to enable integrate economies and communities.

 

You participated at the just-concluded NMW in Abuja, what is your takeaway, projections as well as those things you would like to improve on at the 2020 NMW?

 

I think one of the things that have impeded the sector for a long time is the lack of continuity of policies. I’m glad to now see that the current Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Architect Olamilekan Adegbite is building on the master plan created by the previous administration. This event is part of the commitment to the mining industry and it will help not just the mining sector but even impact other sectors – power, oil & gas, etc. I also believe policy somersault is one of the things hampering development but on the other hand, it is a positive step for the mining sector, and it will help accelerate development. Moreover, the Nigerian Government must show the commitment that will make the mining sector flourish through intervention in mining-related infrastructure. I think there are certainly examples of this happening, now we just need it to progress well and continue its development.

AFC will pioneer early-stage funding of Nigeria’s mining projects — Osam Iyahen
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We must scrap this INEC now… —Olabode George https://tribuneonlineng.com/we-must-scrap-this-inec-now-olabode-george/ Sun, 10 Nov 2019 02:45:05 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=263158 Tribune Online
We must scrap this INEC now… —Olabode George

George, INEC, PDP

Former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George bares his mind on the operation show identification card recently announced by the military, the nation’s electoral system, among other issues, in this interview conducted by KUNLE ODEREMI. Excerpts:  WITH the recent judgment of the Supreme Court on the outcome of the […]

We must scrap this INEC now… —Olabode George
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We must scrap this INEC now… —Olabode George

George, INEC, PDP

Former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George bares his mind on the operation show identification card recently announced by the military, the nation’s electoral system, among other issues, in this interview conducted by KUNLE ODEREMI. Excerpts: 

WITH the recent judgment of the Supreme Court on the outcome of the last presidential election, what do you think are the alternative or options left for the PDP to re-position itself?

As a General and Christian, the Almighty didn’t say you will not fall occasionally, but your ability to bounce back is His own grace. So, we must as believers know that this a lesson for us. It doesn’t mean death when we fall. As a General, grab your gauntlet, spring back up and start to move. Meaning we should have a postmortem analysis of what went wrong. Of course, some must be our mistakes; we should learn from that. Some would be external; we should do a comprehensive X-ray of the situation and we come back and get ready. There is no need to start crying over spilled milk. It’s been given and it’s has been given and by law, that is the terminus of all the legal battles. We should start preparing for the next battle since we are still alive and the grace of God never finishes. So, we should be downcast and feel all is finished. Like the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Publicity, Garba Shehu, who said the country is becoming a one-party state, I want to tell him that the PDP is not dead. Yes, the APC has been declared to have won now, we in the PDP will quickly get our acts together, do our own inside analysis and start the next roadmap for 2023.

 

If you were to analyse what happened, what do you think went wrong for the PDP?

As a loyal leader of the party, it is like the family theory. If you have a quarrel, you don’t go to the marketplace to start talking about it. It must be a closed-door issue and we will talk seriously to ourselves. That is the way I know an organisation should be. If I explain to you now, we are opening our flanks to our opposition and that is not done. I’m not disloyal and I can never be. We should get back in and do our own analysis. That is where the shouting, the howling and talking will happen and the details of our analysis will guide us in moving forward.

Kehinde of the Lijadu sisters fame dies in US at 71

So, you see the PDP bouncing back strongly in the shortest possible time?  

Yes, we will if we call this meeting. The fact that we lost an election doesn’t mean the end. It means that something happened that was unpalatable to us. How did it happen? What did we do wrong? Was it the methodology or strategic planning or the disbursement of the election materials and all that? What happened? But let me tell you one thing which is national. The procedure that the present Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) used in coming to the final results was shambolic, archaic and disheartening. That in the 21st Century that people are still physically carrying results to the collation centre in Abuja, it is disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful for Nigeria! Where is the Giant of Africa? We were ranked the same level with Brazil, India, and Malaysia before. But what happened? India had a general election, in which 800 million people voted. It took them just two weeks to the final collation, because India is massive; it is the largest democracy in the world. I was very keen to see what would happen because we were still juggling three months going to court and tribunals, not one person disagreed with the result of the election held in India and headed to any election petition tribunal. What’s the total number of people that voted in Nigeria in the last general election held in Nigeria? You know they have a silicon valley too in India. Their equivalent of INEC is technology-based.  We are not in the Stone Age. For God’s sake, it is a disgrace to this nation. In my days at the University of Lagos, we had mechanical resolver. Now the speed at which these things are working is tremendous. But, they are making it look as if we have not arrived at that level in this country. If you have a bank account, no matter where you are, if somebody puts money in that account, you get an alert. If they remove money from that account, you get an alert. It is still the same data processing. When you shot in the Permanent Voter Card, it will clear you for accreditation. What do you call that? Is that manually done? We are deceiving ourselves. The moment our election procedure remain archaic and is manipulative, Nigeria will never see the light. There will never be development.

Do you know why? Those who go for the election will call on millions of people to line up to vote. At the end of the day, you will decide it is not the will of the people you are announcing. Some judges will sit to decide. Then, let the judges appoint the governors, senators, and others into positions. What is democracy without the people? Why are the governors and legislators there without the will of the people? It is the will of the people that matters and if the people should make a mistake, in the next election they correct it. That is why every four years, you go back to renew your mandate. If they don’t want you, they vote you out. But right now the people do not have powers, because the process will be manipulated. So, those in the saddle don’t care.

Look at Lagos State now, somebody came to me and said that Bola Tinubu has been controlling Lagos and I said yes, indeed, you can see the fallout. You think the people in Lagos today? But is their will respected? Even they say no, let’s vote them out, throw them out of power, how do they do it? You hear professors, who have been made retuning officers during elections, talking from both sides of their mouths! Look at the judgment delivered by the Appeal Court on the governorship election in Osun State. They said one of the judges didn’t sit and you based your judgment on it. Haba! I’m not a lawyer, but I have sense and fear God. Justice delayed is justice denied. We are building up a gunpowder. But, these are pitfalls of the past which we must avoid. So, my appeal is the Federal Government owes the country just one thing.

 

What is it? 

The one thing is we should scrap the INEC; sack everybody there. We still have enough time before 2023 to do the needful now. Then, you set up an election process that will be technology-based. If we can’t do it, we can buy it; if we can’t buy it, we can steal it; if we can’t steal it, we can copy it. But it must be technology-based, otherwise, the future of our great country is in doubt. It is wooly, cloudy and the problem is self-inflicted.

 

Which one should come first, collapsed infrastructure, including power necessary for a quasi e-voting; restructuring of the existing political structure and devolution of political power?

We are not talking about going back to any other system of government that does not guarantee a transparent analysis a transparent route. What are you talking about? The first leg and the most positive is the procedure for electing those to manage our resources. Professor Ayodele Awojobi of blessed memory of the University of Lagos was gifted. While we were students, he told us, ‘everything that you want to do, the first step is key. Those we elect are supposed to manage the resources of the land for the benefit of the people. Everybody cannot be on the driver’s seat at the same time. You must elect some individuals to manage the affairs of the country at a point in time on our behalf. If the process of electing them is squalid, sloppy, muddy and probably reprehensible and strategically dumb, how will they now remember to manage the resources for your benefit? Do they respect the will of the people? So first and foremost is for us to get the procedure right.

 

A number of observers are surprised that our democracy is still fraught with the majority of the challenges that were inherited from the military era more than 20 years ago. Why have we not been able to overcome those issues?

It is because the people past are still promoting all the irregularities and as long as those things persist, the country shall keep groping in the dark. When you start a process and it doesn’t work, you take a break and look back to ask, ‘what we are doing, is it right? You should not be deceiving yourself when in as a matter of fact nothing is working. Even the president accepted that all is not well, which means he is also looking for solutions. And I am suggesting that the first thing which he owes this country is to overhaul the total process of people emerging as the representatives. If you don’t get that right, nothing will work; you are just putting palliatives. They will never work because the will of the people has been subverted. And what is democracy if the will of the people is not respected? An efficient and effective process will force people to bond with their constituents. They will run to their constituencies to feel their pulse on critical issues. When you talk about constituency projects, for example,, how many of the lawmakers visit their constituencies? Once the procedure is right, like the operation show your identification card of the military, they will visit their constituencies and ask the people how it will impact on their lives. Those teeming youths, who have no means of livelihood, are still looking for how to survive. And you are asking them to get the National Identification Number for N5, 000. If they have such money, I’m sure they will spend it on food.

 

You just talked briefly about the military operation show your identification number, which has drawn flak from Nigerians. What is your views on the issue, given your professional background? 

I was in the military. That’s not our training. We don’t have that kind of calmness of mind to deal with any civilian because you are trained to fight another fellow who is armed. Whereas, the police job is to deal with civilians, the Immigration Service personnel are to deal with civilians, ditto the Customs Service men, we are trained to meet another army, who is also armed. So when you say, ‘stop there!’ he will have to stop. If he doesn’t stop, you take it as an enemy scenario.  That’s the rules of engagement in the military. We are not in any emergency. I led one operation before in the Nigerian Navy. It was general strike by workers. I was a Lieutenant in the Navy and General Yakubu Gowon was the head of state then.   All the labour workers downed tool and the police could not cope with the situation. So I was asked to the lead the operation called aid to civil power. I led the group to the Ijora thermal power station to make sure that nothing strange happened there. Immediately all the union members and their leaders who had been hauling objects everywhere in the area saw us, they began to fret; they lined up and moved out quietly.

 

But the authorities said the objective of the current army operation is to fish out insurgents that have fled the North-East and other troubled sports to the South-West especially….

Do you know how complicated such an exercise would be? What is the total number of army that will be sent out for the operation? Are they up to 120 million men in the armed forces? Go to Lagos Island, Alimosho, Mile 2, Oojo, Lekki Belt or Oshodi, densely populated areas. The first mistake I saw as a former officer was the statement issued by the army directly to the populace. Where is the minister of defence? Where is the minister of information concerning the army telling us that they are starting this particular operation? When you allow the army to talk direct when there is no emergency, where is the chain of command?  Have we lost our minds? The army is to be seen and not heard, except the commander-in-chief has sanctioned that the police can no longer cope.  The directive must come from him and no other person or his representative because in a democratic dispensation, you must first of all educate the people. Don’t jump gun because you will become an army of occupation to Nigerians. We are not foreigners here. The various strata of administration: governors, local government people must be involved because they are the ones closest to the grassroots level.  Now, you just want to come directly to the people. Is that the way to subject the citizens of the country to this kind of tension? If it was the reverse, the minister of information would have been shouting all over. Where is he now? The information is not coming from him but direct from the military. Something is wrong.

Let me tell my younger colleagues that are in the armed forces: where is the chain of command? You don’t talk directly to the public unless there is a conference they invited you to come and talk. And you must have got the permission from the minister of defence. So, if it erupts into something negative, who is going to be held responsible for the consequences? Have you educated the people? We only read it on the pages of newspapers that the military was embarking on the operation and I screamed, do what?   If they are going on an exercise in a particular area, one, the chief security officer of the state, who is the governor, has he been informed? Once you tell him, the head of the Directorate of State Service, Commissioner of Police, the area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers and local government chairmen would know and inform the  people, as well as prepare a seamless operation. That’s the way I was trained as an officer. In this case, somebody represented the Chief of Army Staff at the National Assembly to explain the operation that some people escaped from somewhere to other places. How do you locate them, especially in Nigeria, where house numbering is a serious issue?

 

The debate that is gradually becoming pronounced is which geopolitical zone should produce president in 2023. The Igbo say it should be the turn of the South-East, while some groups and individuals are making a case for the South-West to appreciate the Yoruba for their loyalty to the Buhari administration and the APC that produced him. Are you surprised such campaign has begun in  earnest?

First of all, those people behind the campaign for 2023 presidency are not human beings. They are greedy. Such characters have nothing to offer the country because they are self-conceited and greedy. Those are not the characters we want in this country. They are only concerned about themselves, their wives, children and nobody else. Such characters should be containerised and taken away. Nowhere in the civilised world will such campaign happen. Let us go and resolve whatever problem that may have arisen over the conduct of the 2019 general election in the next three years and in the fourth year, you can start politics. So, it is devilish, stupid and absolute lunacy, as well as the height of insanity, for anyone to start talking and campaigning for the 2023 presidency even when Buhari has not even spent six years in office after the controversial election and the 2020 federal budget is still moving back and forth in the National Assembly. Nigerians are saying there is hunger in the land and a few self-conceited individuals are talking about 2023. They do not fear God. In short, they are godless people. They should keep their mouths shut.

 

Nigerian Tribune

We must scrap this INEC now… —Olabode George
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Ibadan: It’s not torture but rehab centre, demolishing it won’t go down well with us — Sanni, Oyo Muslim leader https://tribuneonlineng.com/ibadan-its-not-torture-but-rehab-centre-demolishing-it-wont-go-down-well-with-us-sanni-oyo-muslim-leader/ Sat, 09 Nov 2019 04:15:54 +0000 https://tribuneonlineng.com/?p=262995 Tribune Online
Ibadan: It’s not torture but rehab centre, demolishing it won’t go down well with us — Sanni, Oyo Muslim leader

torture house, muslim community, Ibadan, Sanni

The chairman of the Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS), Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sanni, speaks with SAHEED SALAWU on the discovery of what is now known as a torture house in Ibadan and other issues.   What is your reaction to the discovery of a rehabilitation centre which has been dubbed a torture centre in […]

Ibadan: It’s not torture but rehab centre, demolishing it won’t go down well with us — Sanni, Oyo Muslim leader
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Ibadan: It’s not torture but rehab centre, demolishing it won’t go down well with us — Sanni, Oyo Muslim leader

torture house, muslim community, Ibadan, Sanni

The chairman of the Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS), Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sanni, speaks with SAHEED SALAWU on the discovery of what is now known as a torture house in Ibadan and other issues.

 

What is your reaction to the discovery of a rehabilitation centre which has been dubbed a torture centre in the Ojoo area of Ibadan and others like it in Kaduna and even Lagos?

I cannot talk for Kaduna. I don’t live in Kaduna. I don’t know what has happened there. But for Olore, that place has been there for over 50 years and it is registered with the government as a rehabilitation centre. It is possible they [owners of the centre] have been a little ruthless or crude in the way they treat the inmates but one thing is clear: there is not a single person in that place that was not brought there either by the parents or the guardians. It is when they [children] go haywire in their behavioural patterns – whether they become drug addicts, armed robbers, area boys or whatever – and the parents are not comfortable that they are brought to that Olore rehabilitation centre.

If the government, or the police, does a thorough investigation, they will find that even there are non-Muslims brought in there by their parents. And a lot of them, after staying for some time there, become refined, you know, good members of the society. Some of them [people who had been inmates at the centre] are now medical doctors, pharmacists, engineers and so on and so forth. Even if need be, one can point to them. And some people are even making arrangements to come together as alumni and do a press conference to show that they were reformed at that place.

I am not saying that maybe they have not gone into excess in the way they [the inmates] are being treated ‘inhumanly’, but for the government or the police to go to the extent of saying they would demolish the house of Olore, which is part and parcel of the rehabilitation centre, I think, it is going too far and I am sure it will not go down well with the Muslim community. They have different sections there. Some of these boys and girls are very violent and so they [the operators of the centre] need to go the extra mile to chain them in order to get the rehabilitation done. And they do a lot of spiritual activities in terms of praying for them and the rest of it so that they could get them to become good and patriotic citizens of the country. Some of them, like I have told you, have become in terms of manner; they have made success stories of their lives. So, I don’t think they should throw away the baby and the bathwater. It is a different scenario from where they say they [the inmates] are being raped and whatnots. That place is a real rehabilitation centre that is using the Islamic touch.

There might be certain things that are inhuman and that kind of stuff but, so the government should just come in and make sure that they reorient them so that the excesses that are being committed, I am not too sure, I have not been there, would be corrected. But the issue of saying the government will demolish or eradicate that centre, I don’t think, is in the best interest of the society at large. Those inmates will say anything because they don’t want to be there. It is like a prison yard, and somebody who is in prison, if he has a way of escaping would escape. So, they can say all sorts of things that they are being maltreated but it is a real rehabilitation and reformation centre as far as the Muslim community is concerned. That is our position.

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From the images that have been released so far, some of the rescued inmates look emaciated and they were even in shackles…

That is why I said they might have been too crude in taking care of them [the inmates] and those are the excesses that should be corrected and not to completely annihilate that structure and the whole idea of the rehabilitation centre.

I want to add that the parents [of the inmates] pay. If you take your wards there, you have to pay for them to be fed. There should be a real investigation of what is going on there [at the centre]. The government should not take a harsh decision. That place also houses the wives and children of the owner of the place. I have seen the photographs of some of the inmates that look over haggard. These are the corrections they need to do. We all know that even policemen, when they catch criminals, they do some torturing in order to get information or get them to admit to what they have done. And that is exactly what I say; that there are some of the inmates that are very violent and part of the reformation is to also treat them harshly so that they can behave.

 

During the tenure of former governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, you honoured him as the ‘Most Equitable Governor in the History of Oyo State’ in terms of what you viewed as his impartiality to the two main religions, Islam and Christianity. How would you assess the incumbent governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, so far in this regard?

So far so bad. We know the way to treat people who treat us badly but we want to find a way of interfacing with him. If you look at all appointments, they have been terribly lopsided against the Muslims. For instance, last week, there were appointments into two commissions. There was the Local Government Service Commission and all five of them [the appointees] are non-Muslims. And there was the Civil Service Commission; all of the appointees are Christians. Ajimobi never did this. He made sure there was balance. If a commission was headed by a Muslim, the next one was headed by a Christian. This is what he did but that is not the situation now. For instance, now the governor is a Christian, the deputy governor, a Muslim; the Chief of Staff a Christian; the SSG [Secretary to the State Government] is a Christian. And look at the number of the commissioners also. I think there are about nine Christians and six Muslims. When Ajimobi was there, it was 50-50. In spite of the fact that we had numerical superiority, we didn’t mind it was 50-50. Anybody knows that there are more Muslims than Christians in Oyo State but we did it 50-50. But to now have more Christians than Muslims as commissioners is completely outrageous. We have not reacted. We want to write a letter to him to let him know that we are not happy with him.

 

So, how would you say the Muslim community is faring generally in the state?

There is no problem. We don’t have any problem.

 

What have been the achievements of the Muslim community in the state under your watch?

I think it is better some other people say what we have achieved. We are doing our best.

 

What is your take on the state of the nation?

The president is trying. Look at the issue of border closure. It is assisting the economic well-being of our farmers. No government had ever thought of doing that kind of stuff. So, I will say that the president is trying but you know our mainstay is oil and the price is not all that good at the international market. The president is doing his best and I think every reasonable Nigerian will applaud all that he is doing. And with the economic team that he has put together, we believe that in the next few months, we are going to see results.

 

Nigerian Tribune

Ibadan: It’s not torture but rehab centre, demolishing it won’t go down well with us — Sanni, Oyo Muslim leader
Tribune Online

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