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Atiku Most Experienced, Tolerant, Nationalistic Among All Presidential Aspirants – Otunba Gbenga Daniel



By Eric Elezuo

Otunba Gbenga Daniel, The two-term Governor of Ogun State and presently the Director General of Abubakar Atiku Campaign Organisation, is someone who needs no introduction. He is sound, humane, down-to-earth and can easily be referred to as one of the pillars of modern Ogun State.

In this interview, OGD, as he is fondly called brings to the fore his many enviable qualities, his stewardship in governance and entrepreneurship, and why Atiku Abubakar, who is running for the presidency of Nigeria come 2019 is the best candidate for the job. Excerpts:

Since you left office, what has been happening in your political life

Well, I reckon that if you have had an opportunity to serve for all of 8 years, and another person is serving it is important you give room for other people to serve. Since I left office, I have been doing more than just observing and keeping as quiet as possible. But of course, that silence will soon give way to more active participation because of the scenario we have found ourselves in the country today.

It’s rare for politicians to stay quiet, even though their voices are not heard, they are busy underground. What have you been busy doing underground?

Not a lot, but as we move towards 2019, and considering people’s voices; it is clear to me and to discerning minds that our people feel they could do better with the kind of leadership we have in the country at the moment. Our people feel unhappy with what has happened to our economy. Our people have been duly surprised with what is going on in terms of security and many other areas. Therefore, whether we like it or not, we are on a spot. And as people who have participated as some point in time in the governance of this country, we have to come together and jointly find a solution to the crises.

You talked about going to the senate immediately after your 8 years in office as governor, did anything truncate that ambition, and what was it?

Yes I was determined to join the senate. But what was important for me was firstly to sit back and see what was happening in the polity. As a matter of fact, having served for 8 years, it was important for me to take a break. Yes! There are a lot of people who wanted me to go to the senate but it was basically my decision not to go to the senate.

You defeated a sitting governor to become a governor, what is the pedigree that made Ogun people chose you?

The hall mark of my being has always been relating with the masses. We started the Gateway Fund Foundation before I went into government, and it was supposed to be a response to the level of poverty we perceived in Ogun state and other states; that the poorest of the poor are becoming hopeless. What we found out then which is still the same today is that a large number of people do not require a large amount of money to earn subsistence living, and we set out to give them that leverage. It was easy; people found us trustworthy even before the idea of becoming governor was muted. So, when eventually I stood out for the governorship seat, I was already a familiar person in the positive light.

You polled the highest number of votes in the history of Ogun State governorship election in 2003, because the people believed in you? Can you itemize those wonderful things that made your tenure most memorable?

It would look like eulogising myself, but if you ask the people of Ogun state, they will tell you we met Ogun state as a sleeping giant. We met a state with no potential, and our biggest ambition was to open up the state. And quite a good number of people will agree that we did a lot in terms of opening up the state. We opened up the educational sector; we created additional tertiary institutions, secondary schools, primary schools, and all of them are striving today. We feel proud that at the last count, we were able to establish seven tertiary institutions; the polytechnic in Igbesa, the polytechnic in Sapade, the polytechnic in Ewekoro Local Government, the polytechnic in Ijebu-Igbo, the Gateway Petrochemical Institute in Oni, and many others.

Most people thought it was impossible when we were doing these things, but I am happy that all of them are running smoothly today. They are turning out quality products. In the sports sector, we created the Gateway Games in 2006 and that was used to open up the state. Till date, Nigeria has not hosted better games. We did a lot of work in healthcare. In terms of road construction, we introduced innovation; we created Ogun State Road Management Agency, which is in charge of all roads in the state. We did everything we could possibly do. I guess the biggest thing the people give us kudos was industrialising the state and make it attractive for business and industries. Today, the state is known as one of the most industrialised states in the country. And I think I built on the foundation I found, and I guess the man who is there today is building on what I added.

Shortly after your tenure, you left the party that made you the governor. What was the reason sir?

Quite a number of people have misunderstood what happened. I did not leave the party. There was crisis in the party; we had primaries, people won their seats under the Peoples Democratic Party, and through some litigations, all the people who won the primaries became party-less, and all of them happened to be my people. About 40 of them had no party to run from, and there was a party that presented an opportunity, and that was it. But I did not run because I was the South-West coordinator of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation in 2011. My responsibility went beyond party primaries. I have responsibilities that cut across party lines to ensure that even after the primaries, people in other parties vote for the person I was working for, which was President Goodluck Jonathan in PDP. Lo and behold, I spoke to virtually other parties, they voted and we won. I guess that is what people saw and interpreted it to mean that I left for another party. That didn’t happen. Same thing came up in the build-up to 2015 election. Again in 2013, some of my people felt the party was not doing well and they wanted to go to another party to make good their ambition – but we came back, and we told everyone to return to PDP so that we can do our best in the 2015 election, and that was what happened.

Consider his networking ability; he is a Northerner, but he is one vibrant leader who cuts across the East, West and South. He can be described as a true nationalist; he is at home and comfortable anywhere in Nigeria

The story today is that you are the Director General for Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign…

It is not a story; the reality is that I am the Director General of the Atiku Abubakar campaign organization. Yes, I am.

As the DG of that organization, would you be able to run again for political position?

 The important thing in our country is not about haggling for positions; we have a challenge in the country at the moment. We have a government that is not doing well to the satisfaction of the people. And under this circumstance, patriotic people must come together and find ways and means of effecting the change. That is what we are doing. It is not about contesting for a position now. The population majorly believes the presidency should go to the North, and we have looked at all the people haggling to become president from the North, and found out that Atiku Abubakar is the most qualified, given the situation of the country presently. Although they are all qualified, we think he is most qualified among all. With this, I am very excited to be the Director General for his campaign organization.

As a DG, you must know what Atiku is bringing to the table. What is he bringing to the table that will convince people to vote for him?

Well, let me start from the party because in the course of my chairmanship bid towards the end of last year, I had the opportunity to visit virtually all the states in the federation including the FCT, and what I found out in all those locations was that the party in the grass roots area is the PDP, and I am quite excited that Atiku Abubakar is back to the PDP, and he came at the right time.

He was one of the founding fathers of the party and if you survey, you will know Atiku Abubakar is the most experienced. He’s had the opportunity to be in governance in this democratic dispensation as Vice President for eight years during which he was virtually the economic manager of the nation. And that was the years of golden economic management in Nigeria, and I am not aware of anyone who has the experience and capacity of Atiku; not even the current president. So, in terms of exposure and experience of people who are in the race; he is the best.

Today, we are faced with loss of confidence in the system; we still have the IPOB challenge. We have challenges in the South-South. We have challenges of South-West talking about restructuring. And even in locations were agitations were not there before, somewhere like the middle belt, we have had large number of people who have become dissatisfied.

It is on record that of all the leaders of this country, one person that has remained consistent toward the issue of restructuring outside the South-West is Atiku Abubakar. I was very surprised when I saw some of his books, his writing, dating as far back as 14 – 15 years ago where he has been consistently talking about restructuring. So, if there is anybody who feels the beat like those of us in the South, it is Atiku Abubakar because of his posture on restructuring.

In addition, that issue also cuts across the length and breadth of the country, and that for me is key. Consider his networking ability; he is a Northerner, but he is one vibrant leader who cuts across the East, West and South. He can be described as a true nationalist; he is at home and comfortable anywhere in Nigeria.

When you look at the challenges we have today in terms of religion, for the first time in the history of our country we are witnessing religious dissatisfaction. He is a Muslim but a liberal one. If you look at his staff you will see Christians and Muslims. The biggest challenge in this country is unity; and one man who has all it takes to unite all the forces in the country is Atiku Abubakar.

The present government also campaigned with restructuring but as at today has not been able to do anything about it. When Atiku comes in, how possible will it be?

First, let’s talk about the incumbent administration and what they have done, or said, which has gone a long way to show the level of credibility they have. Economically, they didn’t do enough research and didn’t attract the right people who can give them the right advice. Part of what they said is that the naira will be equal to the dollar, although some of us who are vast economically knew that was a tall order. We knew they said it without knowing what they were saying and didn’t have the capacity to handle it, and the naira fell to about N500 to a dollar, and now, it is hanging around 360 doubling what it was when they came in. Somebody will tell me that is an achievement, but they messed it up. And that is how it is with virtually all the promises they have made. So, today, what we need is not just the question of people making promises. We have seen politicians making promises they cannot fulfil; you look at people from what they have been able to achieve; not what they say they are going to do. If you look at the profile of Atiku, while he was the number 2 man, he was running the economy. He demonstrated capacity to attract intelligent people to provide advice and a number of those things were duly executed.

I am beginning to see that this race is going to be between Muhammadu Buahri and Atiku. Buhari was once the military head of state, and despite being a dictator, he couldn’t achieve much with such enormous power. It becomes a problem when you are now limited by the legislature, and the rule of law. You will be shocked to note that there was nothing to write home about in terms of achievements when Buhari was a military head of state. People were jailed 200, 300 years; that doesn’t make sense, and that was the tragedy he brought with him. People have spoken about PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund), that there were so many can of worms that were swept under the carpet under his watch. He was Petroleum Minister, and there was nothing he did that was outstanding. When he said he was going to reduce the price of fuel, they didn’t do it. Practically, nothing has happened.

Compare that resume to Atiku Abubakar who is so competent in managing businesses as an entrepreneur. He was very competent in managing government as a Vice President. I was even told that as a customs officer before he came into politics, he voluntarily retired ahead of time to face his business. If you know the compulsion of custom department in those days, nobody resigns from that kind of position because of what comes with such position. Therefore, you can see he is someone who is determined, focused, and that is the kind of person we are looking for in our country today.

There is a general conception that he is corrupt, how is he planning to kill that notion?

There has been no evidence to prove the allegation. The tragedy of our country which I am praying we would not repeat its mistake is that people create a notion of someone without proof.  Sometimes, it is what they heard in the bus, street or anywhere that forms their opinion, and consistently we have failed in making rational decisions because of speculations that cannot be substantiated.

Buhari was once the military head of state, and despite being a dictator, he couldn’t achieve much with such enormous power. It becomes a problem when you are now limited by the legislature, and the rule of law. You will be shocked to note that there was nothing to write home about in terms of achievements when Buhari was a military head of state. People were jailed 200, 300 years; that doesn’t make sense, and that was the tragedy he brought with him

It is also based on this kind of notion that the current presidency was fostered on the nation, and barely six months after, people started complaining that they made a mistake. Whereas I accept that there is no human who is infallible, there is no allegation against Atiku that has been substantiated. He has been cleared, up to the Supreme Court. Our country is a very funny place, they can go to the market and declare you as a murderer, and before you know it, people will start running away from you; when you ask, they will say they heard it from someone. We have gone beyond all these political speculations deliberately created to destroy people; this is the reason we have not elected the best leaders. If you recall, at the point Chief Obafemi Awolowo was contesting, everybody knew he was capable. But there were also some things that were said against him. And see what those errors of judgment has cost us over the years.

What if Atiku does not pick the PDP ticket?

I have never started anything in my life that I don’t succeed in. So, it’s not on the card. I am a positive person and I am persuaded he is the best that we have in this circumstance, and I believe I’m rational. And I must assume and believe that people have seen that we have made mistakes in the past, and that in picking in 2019, they won’t want to make another wrong choice. What else are we looking for; if you have seen a better person let’s discuss it.

There is a Markafi, Sule Lamido, Kwakwanso and others that have shown interest…

They are very eminently qualified people, but let’s look at the parameters involved in terms of experience in governance. Who among them have been in government at the Federal level? Which of them has the kind of immense network that we have just discussed? Which of them has the religious and tribal tolerance we are talking about?

Many are saying desperation is pushing Atiku Abubakar. Is he actually desperate to become the president?

I don’t think so. To some extent, he’s fulfilled; he has wealth that can take him a lifetime; his children are doing fine. But I think what is pushing him is the fact that he is unhappy because something he started is going the wrong way. He’s appalled at the level of violence, and the many ills we have in this country today. And he is shocked that things that should be ordinary are turning to a big deal for the present government. We have said it times without number that the biggest problem we have in this country is over centralization of power. If you ask anything that is pushing him, I would say it’s not desperation but an urge to see that our country becomes a better place.

Don’t you think the new Not Too Young To Run law will affect his chances?

The incumbent president is 74. He is older than Atiku. So, when you compare him to Buhari, there is no doubt in my mind that he is a much younger person. Apart from that, when you look at the health status, Atiku is fitter. I can assure you that several young people don’t have the energy he has to do the work. When Yar’dua was the president, he was not as old as Buhari. However, among the political leaders today, the most energetic is Obasanjo (Chief Olusegun).

Officially, people think he is 82 and some said he is older than that. It is not really about age, it is about health status, the capacity to do what is right. Don’t forget that this is a very critical stage in the life of the country, we cannot afford to experiment. For it is an evolution, I became a governor at the age of 47, and at 55 I was no longer a governor. I think the people should just go and do what they have to do, work hard and they will get whatever they want. I don’t really see any effect in that bill.

The President recently signed an executive order, what can you say to this?

Well, according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that is totally illegal, and it is unconstitutional. Look at what has happened to the Senate President, who at the end of the day, was declared innocent by the Supreme Court after torturing him for about 3 years as a result of people not doing their investigations properly. That’s one thing that clearly faulted the trial. Why are we in a hurry to demonstrate we are working? For political reasons, you pick somebody up without concrete evidence because of hearsay? We should have gone beyond all of that. I think that Executive Order is against the rule of law, and I would be shocked if people don’t go to court to contest it. The order doesn’t make any sense. It is a vote of no confidence in the judiciary, and I have always said that in a civilized environment, we have the legislature, the Executive and Judiciary sharing power. To the best of my knowledge, the ruling party has the highest number in the Senate and House of Representatives. All they need to do if they are not happy with the existing law, is to go to the legislature and ask for amendment. This is just in line with what he did when he was a military head of state. Where new laws were created, and how do you create a law by violating a law. These kinds of orders should have no place in a democracy. I believe it is the attorney general that is not doing his work properly.

On many occasions, the EFCC has accused you of financial misconduct, and on many occasions amended their charges. What is the present situation?

Legally, when a case is in court, you can’t make public comment on it. But how can they say I misappropriated 58 billion, and later checked the file and said it’s 200 million. They said 200 million or so entered my account, and I was asked to come defend it in court without any investigation. It is strange! This is the eighth year that I have been charged to court.

As I speak, I have gone to court more than 50 times, and prosecution has not closed its case. Just three weeks ago, they came and amended the charges again, and I am aware that the investigation started even when I was a governor, and I tell people that this is persecution. I think someone just said let’s find a way of locking this man up so that he cannot be politically active. I don’t know what else to say, I am persuaded that I ran a good government. I ran one of the most credible governments in the history of governance. I am proud with what I achieved. And I am proud that as I speak to you, nobody has traced any fund that belongs to the government in any account that belongs to me. I don’t know what they are talking about and that is why I am at peace. Now, the executive order has come and they want to seize assets, which asset do they want to seize?

For example, I moved into this place in 1998; even before I became a governor. I have built my office 27 years ago, all of these happened before I went into government. With due respect, I am not a poor man and if all you can say is that 8 years in government; 200 million is missing, this is ridiculous. 200 million will not buy the land my house is built on today. It is a tragedy that some of us that are supposed to be receiving honour in this country are enmeshed in the drama EFCC is performing. I am at peace with myself, and I am not going to beg anybody.

But if you defect to the ruling party, you may have a soft landing…

I am not going to defect, and I won’t stop doing what I am doing. I was told that it is because I am Atiku’s campaign DG that is why they are now looking for more things. And that the reason my name must be on the executive order list and many other charges; eight years after being governor; that’s so ridiculous. Anyway, let the law take its course but God is on the throne.

Photo credit: Koya Adegbite and Ken Ehimen

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Boss Picks

Supreme Court Judgment: Buhari, Emefiele Mum As Naira Crisis Persists




By Eric Elezuo

More than one week after the apex Supreme Court ruled that the old N1000 and N500 notes be allowed to exist side by side with the newly redesigned notes, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, have remained silent, and unable to give Nigerians the directives to follow amid prolonged suffering occasioned by the cash crunch.

On March 3, 2023, after a long drawn legal battle between some state governors against the Federal Government, the Supreme Court had ruled that the validity of the N200, N500, and N1,000 Naira notes be extended till December 31 when they would have been easily eased it.

A seven-member panel of the court led by John Okoro unanimously directed that the CBN must continue to receive the old notes from Nigerians, stressing that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for the redesign of the new notes and withdrawal of the old notes without due consultation is invalid.

Reading the lead judgement, Emmanuel Agim, a member of the panel, also condemned the President’s disobedience of the court’s February 8 order that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should continue to circulate alongside the new ones.

He said the president’s broadcast of 16 February that only N200 notes should remain legal tender made Nigeria’s democracy look like a mere pretension while democracy is replaced with autocracy.

He said: “It is not in doubt that the President refused to comply with the order of the court that the old 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes should continue to be legal tender,” the court said.

“Interestingly, there is even nothing to show that that the President’s directive for the release of N200 notes was implemented.

“I agree that the first defendant ought not to be heard when the president has refused to obey the authority of this court.

“Disobedience of order of court shows the country’ democracy  a mere pretension and now replaced by autocracy. This suit is meritorious.”

Recall that the CBN in October 2022 introduced what many has labelled a controversial monetary policy which birthed newly redesigned 200, N500, and N1,000 notes with tight deadline to mop up the old notes from circulation. A January 31 deadline was initially set for the complete mopping up of the old naira notes. The policy and its implementation was challenged at the Supreme Court.

As envisaged, the policy led to scarcity of currency notes, bringing untold hardship to millions of citizens in an economy significantly driven by the informal sector with a large proportion of unbanked persons.

The end of January deadline initially set for ending the legal tender status of the old Naira notes was extended to February 10 as the supply of the new notes fell far short of the volume needed by citizens to meet their most basic needs across the country.

On February 3, three state governments – Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara – citing the hardships the continued scarcity of naira notes brought to their people – sued the federal government at the Supreme Court for a reversal of the policy.

Five days later, the court issued an interim order suspending the implementation of the deadline set by the federal government, and directed that the old and new Naira notes should continue to circulate pending the resolution of the case.

Unmoved by the court’s order, the CBN insisted that the old notes had stopped being legal tender after the February 10 deadline while the scarcity of the new notes persisted.

But the final judgement of March 3, which allowed the old naira notes back into circulation has been kept on mute mode by the executive as neither the president or the CBN governor has given a clear cut directive as to the next step to take. This act has returned the masses to the pre-judgment era and money has remained scarce and standard of living a total mirage, especially for families that depend on daily transactions to make a living.

At various banks across the country, customers line up endlessly to collect cash, but are disappointed at the end of every day. A cross section of the customers, who spoke to The Boss, lamented that appearing at the banks has remained a daily routine, and after each day, it remains a tale of woe as the much sought after naira notes are nowhere to be found.

But some customers, who were able to get access to the bank vaults lamented that they were paid the old bank notes, which in rejecting tried to lodge it bank with the bank. But the banks themselves rejected it.

“So the old bank note is just good to give to the customer, but cannot be deposited in the banks,” an angry customer lamented. Those that risked taking the money to the markets or to buy one thing or another are still telling sad stories as its rejection remains paramount. Yet, Buhari and Emefiele have remained silent.

“I don’t understand why Mr President and CBN governor would keep silent this long on a matter this sensitive. Yes, the Supreme Court has ruled. Am I the executive that will execute the judgement? Is it no longer the duty of the executive to execute judgements of the courts?” Another customer querried.

In the same vein, DailyPost reported that a public analyst and economist, Dr. Charles Imole expressed dissatisfaction over the continued silence from President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele days after the Supreme Court judgment validating old Naira notes till 31 December.

According to Imole, the economic situation showed that the nation is drifting aimlessly.

“The Supreme Court gave a verdict and 5 days later, nothing has been done to officially give effect to that verdict by the President or the CBN Governor. What kind of nonsense is this? The nation just appears to be drifting and coasting aimlessly. How long will this madness continue?” He tweeted.

Meanwhile, The Punch gathered on Friday that cash had dried up in most banks in Lagos and Ogun states due to what senior bankers described as the inability of the CBN to supply them with new naira notes.

It wrote: “A branch manager of a Tier-1 bank told Saturday PUNCH that his branch last received cash last week Tuesday, adding that bankers were also frustrated about the currency crisis affecting the nation.

“The Lagos-based branch manager said, “There have been no supplies of new naira notes to my branch and other neighbouring branches this week. The last supply we got was N5m last week Monday and another N5m the following day. Members of our bullion van team have been on standby throughout this week awaiting signals to come to the CBN to pick cash, but there has been no signal. The N10m we got last week didn’t last up to Wednesday.

“Following the Supreme Court judgment, we were initially paying out the old N1,000 and N500 notes deposited with us and which had not been deposited with the CBN to desperate customers, but we had to stop when the customers came back to complain that people were not accepting the old notes from them.”

“Another senior banker corroborated this, adding that his first generation bank had not been supplied new naira notes to disburse to customers.

“He said, “Even me as a banker, I can only boast of N100 as I am speaking to you. We have not been supplied with cash this week. The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Instant Payment platform is not working; the digital payment systems are overwhelmed. When you see crowds at our branches now, we are not giving them cash, what we are doing is to deal with complaints arising from digital payments.

“I think it is deliberate not to supply naira notes to the banks because the government and the CBN don’t want politicians to mop them up. Politicians are desperately looking for cash to pay their agents now. I know of a candidate for the Lagos State House of Assembly, who has launched a passionate appeal to his friends to raise money to pay his party agents, who were not paid after the presidential and National Assembly elections and threatened not to take part in the governorship and state House of Assembly.”

It is still not known how much longer Nigerians will be made to go through the sorrow of naira scarcity or how much longer their patience will linger as reports of unavoidable deaths, illnesses and many other vices have made the rounds as a result of the naira scarcity, and Buhari and Emefiele’s undignified silence.

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My Brother, Timothy Oluwakayode Oluwasesan Ogunnubi @60




By Tola Ogunnubi

My mother once told me by quoting Williams Shakespeare that “Ingratitude is worse than a traitor’s arm”. This has been my life’s driving principle growing up while watching my brother since I enrolled under his tutelage. Emi Tola mo ore.

Words fail me to pay a deserving tribute to perhaps the greatest brother that ever trod the face of planet earth. Exactly 6 decades today, a fine, intelligent, extremely humble, quintessential gentleman was born into the Pa Isaac Ayorinde Ogunnubi clan in Ijeh-Obalende (now Dolphin Estate) area of Lagos State of Nigeria. He is the 1St son and 1st child, I am the 1st son and 1st child from the rear of our parents. We have a lot of things in common. But above all, he is such a rare gem. An enigma with immense outstanding personality.  A very admirable gentle fine man with distinguished character.  He had a most precocious growth and excelled in academics, life’s school and character.

I am a living testimony of your magnanimity, your direct benevolence of a good heart speaks volumes in my life. I benefitted and got spoilt by you. I chop your money no be small (smiles). From the Lagos State Model College, Kankon, Badagry to UNILAG, he ensured I had a good academic wellbeing devoid of worries or distarctions. He went out of his ways for me, and he taught me and my other siblings, the gizmo of spartan discipline, the ethos of hygienic living, the greatness of erudition, the obligation of goodness, the merits of integrity and the love of kindness. A brother who always has the answers to your problems. Whilst you see the problem, he sees the prospect and the possibility. He will go out of his way to give you the best support possible. Brother, thank you for giving me the best of the opportunities available.

Christened Oluwakayode Timothy Oluwasesan, he began a family anchored on the principled ideals of morality, resilience, good heritage, stability, forthrightness and uprightness.

As a young lad, I found an instant model and worthy mentor in my brother, in whom I could trust, emulate and fashion my life after. Kayode as he is fondly called, epitomises grace and character, extremely neat and fashionable, brilliant and reserved. Entrepreneur extraordinaire, Prolific Land administrator, successful Estate Valuer, and distinguished Family Man.

Kayode, the primogenitor of many firsts that lends irrevocable credence to how much commitment he invests in his personal endeavour. He made sure we never lacked as his younger ones even after the death of our parents. The responsibilities were much and tasking but with an ever understanding and supportive wife, there were no issues. A core hard worker, a complete homely husband, a reliable and responsible brother, an urbane technocrat and a chronic motivator. Supportive to a fault, defender to the end, his corrective eyes speak a million words till date.

He was clearly a shining light in those days at CMS Grammar School, Bariga Lagos. After his A levels, he went to the prestigious Yaba College of Technology and equally went to the University of Nigeria (UNN) where he was the best graduating student in his time. I am deeply proud of him. He came back to Lagos and enrolled in the University of Lagos, Akoka Yaba for both his M.Sc and MBA.

Married to a beautiful woman with a beautiful heart, Patience Olamide Ogunnubi they are blessed with 2 lovely children.

Timothy Ogunnubi introduced and put in place the process of applying and being issued Certificates of Occupancy within 90 days of payment. This made the Governor sign a backlog of 2500 certificates in a day, the first in the country.

As a pacesetter, he was able to set in motion and reposition the Lands Bureau in Lagos state to aid it in providing more professionalized services.

Because of his professionalism and dedication to work, he was elevated to the position of a Permanent Secretary in the Lagos State Civil Service.

I will never forget his resounding advice wherever I go- ‘Don’t ever forget the child of whom you are. Remember you have the glorious name of this family to protect’. This ensures I never stray away no matter what. As the first child of the family from the rear, I make bold to say that I am a direct beneficiary of your large-heartedness, cerebral gratification, good name, largesse and uncommon wit.

On this occasion of your birthday celebration and retirement from the public service of Lagos State today, I wish you more successes, long life, a bountiful harvest of your worthy and deserving investment on career and family, sound health, peace of mind, a speedy accomplishment of your yet elusive dreams and above all, all you wish yourself. I celebrate you and I want you to know that we may not always agree on so many things maybe because I have my looks after you because we both took it from our father or because you are now getting old (smiles) as a younger version of you, I want you to know today that you are a rare gem and I love you. You are a good great man.

Friends and family, may I humbly request that you wish my brother and role model a happy birthday for me, thank you all.

Tola Ogunnubi FILRMN, ANIPR is the Deputy Head, Corporate Affairs, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation, NAIC Abuja.

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Boss Picks

Murtala Mohammed: Remembering Originator of ‘Fellow Nigerians’ 47 Years After




By Eric Elezuo

He is noted as the first person to use the popular military catch phrase ‘fellow Nigerians’, and popularised it among subsequent leaderss, who had used it at all coup situations. He is Murtala Ramat Muhammad GCFR, Nigeria’s third military Head of State, who was murdered in cold blood on February 13, 1976, less than eight months after he took over administration.

Born on November 8, 1938, Mohammed is believed to have led the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup in overthrowing the Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi military regime and featured prominently during the Nigerian Civil War and thereafter ruled over Nigeria from 30 July 1975 until his assassination on that fateful February 13, 1976 morning.

He was in Kano, into a ruling-class religious family, Murtala served in the Nigerian Army as a cadet in the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He later served in Congo; eventually rose through the ranks to become brigadier general in 1971, aged 33, becoming one of the youngest generals in Nigeria. Three years later Murtala became the Federal Commissioner for Communications in Lagos. As a conservative and federalist, Murtala regretted the overthrow of the First Republic and the promulgation of Aguiyi Ironsi’s unification decree of 1966. He was devastated by the assassination of Sir Ahmadu Bello, and for a time seriously considered the secession of Northern Nigeria. His career redoubled after Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and the young majors orchestrated the first military coup in Nigeria of 1966 coup empowering him to lead the mutiny of the night of 29 July 1966 in Abeokuta. Murtala was briefly considered as Supreme Commander before the appointment of Yakubu Gowon. He also masterminded the July 1966 counter coup, which evidently, sparked the Nigerian Civil War.

During the war, he commandeered Nigeria’s second infantry division which was responsible for the death of civilians and much of the rebels. His command’s use of veteran soldiers, no quarter, and scorched earth strategies led to between 10,000 and 30,000 deaths. Combined with the total wartime death toll of three million making the civil war one of the deadliest in modern history. Three years later the Federal military government declared victory which bolstered Murtala’s image over Nigeria and in particular the north as a military leader through the post-war era of “reconciliation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation”. In post-civil-war Nigeria, Murtala ruled with more power than any Nigerian leader before or since, and developed a charismatic authority and cult of personality. During the Cold War he maintained Nigerian neutrality through participation in the non-aligned movement but supported the Soviet Union — during the latter’s effort in the Angolan Civil War

Nigeria under Murtala presided over a period of rampant economic prosperity. At the same time, his regime transitioned from being authoritarian into consensus decision-making with Murtala the leader of a military triumvirate, alongside Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Theophilus Danjuma. The dictatorship softened and Murtala unveiled plans for the demilitarization of politics. In 1976 barely seven months into his nascent rule Murtala without having time to see his plans implemented was assassinated in a failed coup d’ètat attempt, being succeeded by Olusegun Obasanjo as Head of State, who, in turn, led the Nigerian transition to democracy with the Second Nigerian Republic.

The legacy of Murtala in Nigerian history remains controversial as the nature of his rule changed over time. His reign was marked by both brutal repression, and economic prosperity, which greatly improved the quality of life in Nigeria. His dictatorial style proved highly adaptable, which enabled wide-sweeping social and economic reform, while consistent pursuits during his reign centered on highly centralised government, authoritarianism, federalism, national Federalism, and pan-Africanism.

Murtala Muhammed was born on November 8, 1938 in Kano. His father, Muhammed Riskuwa, was from the Fulani Genawa clan, who had a history of Islamic jurisprudence as both his paternal grandfather Suleman and paternal great-grandfather Mohammed Zangi served as Chief Judges in Kano Emirate and held the title of chief Alkali of Kano. His father worked in the Kano Native Authority and was related to Aminu Kano, Inuwa Wada, and Aminu Wali. He died in 1953, his mother, Uwani Rahamatu, was from the Kanuri and Fulani Jobawa clan, the Jobawa clan members include the Makama of Kano and Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, his maternal grandfather Yakubu Soja a World War I veteran was from Dawakin Tofa while his maternal grandmother Hajiya Hauwau (Aya) was from Gezawa, he was educated at Cikin Gida Elementary School which was inside the emir’s palace.

He then transferred to Gidan Makama primary school in Kano which was just outside the palace. He then proceeded to Kano Middle School (now Rumfa College, Kano) in 1949, before attending the famous Government College (now Barewa College) in Zaria, where he obtained his school certificate in 1957. At Barewa College, Muhammed was a member of the Cadet Corps and was captain of shooting in his final year. In 1957, he obtained a school leaving certificate and applied to join the Nigerian army later in the year.

Murtala Muhammed joined the Nigerian Army in 1958. He spent short training stints in Nigeria and Ghana and then was trained as an officer cadet at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in England. After his training, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1961 and assigned to the Nigerian Army Signals that same year, later spending a short stint with the No. 3 Brigade Signals Troop in Congo In 1962, Muhammed was appointed aide-de-camp to M. A. Majekodunmi, the federally-appointed administrator of the Western Region.

In 1963, he became the officer-in-charge of the First Brigade Signal Troop in Kaduna, Nigeria. That year he traveled to the Royal Corps of Signals at Catterick Garrison, England for a course on advanced telecommunications techniques. On his return to Nigeria in 1964, he was promoted to major and appointed officer-commanding, 1st Signal Squadron in Apapa, Lagos. In November 1965, he was made acting Chief of Signals of the Army, while his paternal uncle, Inuwa Wada had recently been appointed Defense Minister.

Mohammed’s coup in 1966 led to the installation of Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon as Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, despite the intransigence of Muhammed who wanted the role of Supreme Commander for himself. However, as Gowon was militarily his senior, and finding a lack of support from the British and American advisors, he caved in. Gowon rewarded him by confirming his ranking (he had been an acting Lt. Colonel until then) and his appointment (Inspector of Signals).

In June 1968, he relinquished his commanding position and was posted to Lagos and appointed Inspector of Signals. In April 1968, he was promoted to colonel. The actions of the division during this period, mostly in Asaba became a subject of speculation. In a book published in 2017, S. Elizabeth Bird and Fraser Ottanelli document the 1967 mass murder of civilians by troops of the 2 Division under General Muhammed’s command. They also discuss the events leading up to the massacre, and its impact on Asaba and on the progress of the war, as well as other civilian massacres carried out by soldiers of the 2nd Division at Onitsha and Isheagu.

Between 1970 and 1971, he attended the Joint Service Staff College in England, his supervisor’s report attributed him to having ”a quick agile mind, considerable ability and common sense. He holds strong views which he puts forward in a forthright manner. He is a strong character and determined. However, he finds it difficult to moderate his opinions and finds it difficult to enter into debate with others whose views he may not share”.After the war, he was promoted to brigadier-general in October 1971. Between 1971 and 1974, Muhammed was involved in routine activities within the signals unit of the army. However, he also disagreed with some of the policies being pursued by Gowon.

On 7 August 1974, the head of state, General Yakubu Gowon appointed him as the new Federal Commissioner for Communications, which he combined with his military duties as Inspector of Signals at the Army Signals Headquarters in Apapa, Lagos. On 7 August 1974, General Yakubu Gowon appointed Muhammed as the Federal commissioner (position now called Minister) for communications to oversee and facilitate the nation’s development of cost effective communication infrastructures during the oil boom. After the war and after he took power as head of state, Muhammed started the reorganization and demobilization of 100,000 troops from the armed forces. The number of troops in the armed forces decreased from 250,000 to 150,000.

On 29 July 1975, General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown while attending the 12th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Kampala, Uganda. Muhammed took power as the new Military Head of State. Brigadiers Obasanjo (later Lt. General) and Danjuma (later Lt. General) were appointed as Chief of Staff, Supreme HQ and Chief of Army Staff, respectively.

In the coup d’état that brought him to power he introduced the phrases “Fellow Nigerians” and “with immediate effect” to the national lexicon. In a short time, Murtala Muhammed’s policies won him broad popular support, and his decisiveness elevated him to the status of a folk hero.

However his highly popular, often televised “with immediate effect” style of governing, also gained some criticism amongst the countries top civil servants – some of which were Nigeria’s top intellectuals. His ad-hoc Presidential proclamations left his civil service often unprepared, lacking details or even funding to implement his ideas, and his administration led to the dismissal of thousands of civil servants. Over 10,000 civil servants, government employees were dismissed without benefits; reasons stated were age, health, incompetence, or malpractice. The removal of such a large amount of public officials affected the public service, the judiciary, the police and armed forces, the diplomatic service, public corporations, and university officials. Quite a few officials were tried on corruption charges, and an ex-military state governor was executed for gross office misconduct.

Muhammed took federal control of the country’s two largest newspapers – Daily Times and New Nigerian; all media in Nigeria was now under federal control. He also took federal control of the remaining state-run universities. On February 3, 1976, the Military Government of Murtala Muhammed created new states and renamed others, the states he created include: Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Imo, Niger, Ogun, and Ondo. This brought the total number of states in Nigeria to nineteen in 1976.

As head of state, Muhammed put in place plans to build a new Federal Capital Territory due to Lagos being overcrowded. He set up a panel headed by Justice Akinola Aguda, which chose the Abuja area as the new capital ahead of other proposed locations. On February 3, 1976, Muhammed announced that the Federal Capital would in the future move to a federal territory location of about 8,000 square kilometres in the central part of the country.

Towards the end of 1975, the administration implemented a mass purge in the Nigerian civil service. The civil service was viewed as undisciplined and lacking a sense of purpose. A retrenchment exercise was implemented as part of a strategy to refocus the service.

Source: Wikipedia

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