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Pendulum: Now That Presidential Election is Over, Life Continues



By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me say congratulations to both President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for different reasons, even as Atiku claims that it was as if he has been robbed in broad daylight. For me, what we witnessed last week was one of the worst elections ever in Nigeria, in many ways. It is a big shame that the opposition was totally annihilated and obliterated in multiple attacks. What should have been a simple and straight-forward election was turned into full-scale war. It is saddening that a leader who was the greatest beneficiary of a much freer and fairer election in 2015 would not provide a level playing field for others to play, despite his much vaunted public avowal to ensure credible elections by not interfering with the electoral umpire and the security agencies.

APC and Buhari decidedly and deliberately set out to frustrate the main opponent, Atiku, using the appurtenances of power in a reckless and inconsiderate manner. It is my hope that this has not set a dangerous precedent for others to follow. The over-militarisation of a democratic process was unconstitutional and unnecessary. Maybe our insurgency and militant problems would have been long curtailed if the same might and firepower had been deployed in these problem areas.  Disenfranchising voters in different parts of Nigeria in various ways from failed and ineffective card readers to intimidation and the ⁶irresponsible Inflating of voter turn-out in some areas and reducing them in other areas was undemocratic. Voiding ballots like pop-corn was farcical. The infractions were just too brazen, to say the least, although Atiku, and the PDP itself, cannot be absolved of being involved and culpable in some of these infractions.

Despite all these hocus-pocus, I’m a very practical human being. Over time, I have learnt so much about the meaning and significance of sacrifice. Disappointment and pain go together. As mere mortals, we find it hard, and sometimes impossible, to forgive those who have wronged us, remorselessly. The recent election was nothing to rejoice about, in good conscience, after the worst evil of death was visited on fellow Nigerian citizens. I sympathise with the families of these unfortunate deceased patriots and offer them my condolences. May their souls rest in peace. But no matter our agony over spilt milk, we must all clear the mess while awaiting God’s judgment. There is a saying in our culture that whosoever you can’t defeat by your own power should be handed over to God. That is my attitude to this unfortunate saga.

Nigeria has gone through great difficulty and hardship in recent times. Expectations have turned into mirage and ashes. Hope has vaporised. But there are those with mighty faith who still believe Buhari will move mountains in his second term. To them and the government, I say good luck. Nothing is impossible. For me, the government has been given a reprieve, like a condemned man on death row. The hope and expectation are that the Yoruba saying “eni a wi fun, olorun oba je ko gbo” (the person we talk to, we can only hope will listen) will be imbibed. After every election, we must take stock, learn new lessons, and settle down to keep working. I’m happy that many serious-minded Nigerians have corroborated and supported my sincere advice on the way forward. I have come a long way in political struggles in Nigeria not to know our dear country well enough.

I witnessed one of the worst Nigerian general elections in 1983.  The ruling NPN party had claimed landslide and “moonslide” victories everywhere, including the most unlikely of places. My boss, Chief Akin Omoboriowo, was one of the beneficiaries having been declared the winner of the Ondo State Governorship election. A perfect gentleman, Chief Omoboriowo was extremely reluctant to follow the NPN to Golgotha, but was persuaded by desperate party members who told him “that’s how they do it…” By the time things fell apart, and the blood started flowing like a river while human beings were roasted like grilled suya, my boss had  to retreat and give up the mandate that was stolen for him by his party, NPN. We all knew there was no way Omoboriowo would have defeated his erstwhile boss, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, in Ondo State at the time. Omoboriowo had been the Deputy Governor to Ajasin. I was barely 23, when I served as his Private Secretary. That was my baptism of fire.

About 36 years after that conflagration erupted in Nigeria, we witnessed a similar event last week. It seemed the militarisation was copied from that ungodly era. The heavily militarised Nigeria Police Force was in the centre of operations at that time and not soldiers like Buhari drafted out last week although the Police headed by the Inspector General of Police, Sunday Adewusi, was equipped with armour-tanks and military hardware to take on innocent Nigerians. What happened thereafter? Three months later, the Mallam Shehu Shagari government collapsed like a pack of cards and the cookie crumbled. Who took over power in the military putsch? The one and only Muhammadu Buhari. One of the reasons adduced for the military coup was the recklessness of the ruling party NPN, which acted similarly to what APC has now repeated, before our very eyes.

Buhari and his deputy, Major-General Babatunde Idiagbon, announced their intention to instil discipline in Nigerians and banish corruption totally. Poor Nigerians rejoiced, believing their Messiah had come to liberate them from the brigands and looters. Politicians were hurled into detention, faced military trials and received horrendous and unprecedented sentences. But recession soon set in. Essential commodities had to be rationed. Anyway, the government itself fell in 1985 and the same people who hailed the coming of Buhari were seen rejoicing.

Please, fast forward to 1993. Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola won the June 12, 1993, election, fair and square, by defeating his opponent, Alhaji Bashir Tofa. I left Nigeria on June 9, 1993, and was in Vienna, Austria, by June 10, 1993, to represent Chief Abiola, at the Bruno Kreisky Awards, where the gadfly, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, was a distinguished recipient. The award ceremony took place on June 11, and I departed Vienna on June 12 to London. I was in London on June 14, when I made a call to Nduka Obaigbena, an uncommon Publisher who had shown extraordinary knack for sniffing major news from a tender age. Nduka told me he’d been trying to locate me. I told him I was in London. His next statement shocked me to my bones and out of my wits: “Dele, it seems your man Abiola is going to win the election, but the military won’t hand over to him. You need to reach him urgently to talk to his friend IBB…” I thought “Nduka must be joking”. “How can someone win a Presidential election and he won’t be allowed to govern?” I soliloquised. I later discovered that Nduka passed the same message to Dr (Mrs) Doyinsola Abiola.

One thing led to another, but the effort to get Chief Abiola and President Babangida talking did not materialise. There were too many expert advisers, with all manner of suggestions. Babangida soon came up with an Interim Government, headed by Chief Ernest ‘Degunle Shonekan who lasted only three months before the Abacha coup sacked him. Abacha came on the pretence that he was going to redress the injustice by spending a short period, sack the Babangida boys in the military, and hand over to Abiola. That too was a charade, indeed, phantasmagoria!

On a personal note, I got caught up in the imbroglio. First, I was detained at Alagbon Detention centre. Whilst incarcerated, some people were busy abusing me, “what’s your own, are you Abiola’s biological son?” There were those who said my arrest was fake, that I was working for government. Such is the pain of fighting for social justice in our country. People regretfully sit in the comfort of their homes casting aspersions at those willing to make the necessary asacrifice.

Chief Abiola was arrested and detained in 1994. Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele (of blessed memory) and I were vehemently opposed to Abiola being captured by Abacha. We felt that Abiola should disappear once more and fight from abroad. But some elders opined that he needed to be in Nigeria to defend his mandate. I will never forget the night Abiola was arrested. We had gone to Chief Wahab Dosunmu’s house in Surulere to bring Chief Abiola back home. We arranged a human shield at Abiola’s home so that it would be difficult to arrest him. Abiola’s family did all they could by arranging food and drinks for his huge crowd of supporters. As Abiola’s motorcade drove into his home in Moshood Abiola Crescent, we noticed about 600 police officers perching along Toyin Street. Everywhere was bustling.

Once he entered his bedroom, Chief Abiola said I should go home to freshen up because I had been part of some crazyqq11 operations for the past 48 hours with his Personal Assistant, Fred Enoh. Ironically, the crowd dispersed after eating free food. I returned later in the night to discover that the police had cordoned off the building. I went to a business centre, telephones were not common then, to call Chief Abiola. He told me not to worry and that I should go home. “I’ve been told they are coming to arrest me at 1.00am but I don’t think Sani (Abacha) can try it o…” Those were Abiola’s last words to me on earth. As soon as Abiola got arrested, he was taken to some terrible prison in the Northern part. He was able to smuggle a letter out in which he instructed Dr Abiola to ask me to visit him. I was on my way to Gashua, via Maiduguri and Damaturu, when we heard he’d been moved from the prison to another location. The crowd around his house began to thin out. Abiola spent about four years in solitary confinement and never came back alive.

Whilst doing my utmost to support Abiola during his incarceration, one day, I myself had to flee as, on July 22, 1995, my wife told me that I had to run for my dear life. I have told the story of my escape to London via Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana several times. I spent three years in harsh and difficult years in exile but did not relent in the struggle to see democracy return to Nigeria. Despite my significant suffering, some people were busy saying I ran away, bla, bla, bla. The lesson I learnt was that Nigerians are generally not ready to make any sacrifice for democracy, and those who are willing would always be discouraged by negative comments and abuse. My thesis is that this is why we have not been able to sustain any struggle.

Most Nigerian politicians cannot survive in opposition. When tomorrow comes, Atiku Abubakar, will see many grumblers saying they can’t die because of him. At the beginning of the Abacha government, a meeting was held in Abiola’s house. Abiola and loyalists were shocked, when politician after politician, started giving reasons, and excuses, why Abiola should let them join the Abacha Government. Chief Abiola had given me names of those who have decided to join the new government, prior to the meeting and so he was not disappointed when they did confirm they were leaving him. Nigeria is a very complicated society where most lives depend on government patronage. Chief Abiola used to say, “you can’t blame a hungry man for looking for food”.

I have witnessed enough of Nigeria’s trajectory and the future is still very bleak for opposition because elections in our country are usually a matter of winner-takes-all. The Jonathan concession now seems an aberration. It was partly for this reason that I enjoined Atiku to accept his lot and congratulate President Buhari. It is my view that Atiku would have demanded the same had he won. What would he have done if Buhari refused and tried to cling on to power? A sitting President has the power and might to do as he pleases. Atiku must demonstrate that he is the Statesman that some of us believe he is by being gracious. The other reason is the fact that no successful litigation has ever been achieved by any defeated Presidential candidate in Nigeria. The rigours and demands of an election petition make it practically impossible for such success.

The panacea for peace is for members of the Peace Council and other well-meaning Nigerians to do everything possible to bring Buhari and Atiku together, face to face. I accept that Atiku is not in the same position as Abiola because he has no mandate and therefore should not be making demands of the government. However, the example of Kenya should be adopted. While it is not possible within our Constitution to attempt the Kibaki/Odinga hybrid, as President and Prime Minister, it should be possible for Buhari to show uncommon magnanimity by tolerating and accommodating Atiku in some mutually acceptable manner. Buhari and Atiku can jointly appear in an interdenominational day of prayers and seek to unite our divided country.They should say the right things to affirm that the country is greater than both of them. No Nigerian henceforth should be oppressed or victimised on account of political affiliation, religion, ethnicity or gender. Nigerians should be treated as citizens of one indivisible country created by God.

No price is too heavy for peace.

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock




Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead




By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu




By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:


My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…


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