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Pendulum: 80 Gun Salutes for the General at 80 



By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, love him or loathe him, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) is a man in a class of his own. His toothy smile and grin are a familiar trademark which immediately disarm you once you meet him. His memory, which is like that of an elephant, commends him to several soldiers of the rank and file, administrators, technocrats, politicians and businessmen who served under him or interacted with him. He is reputed to remember the birthdays and notable events in the life of his subordinates and friends and their families particularly the children and wives. It is apparently not a rarity for Babangida to call the wife of his lieutenants, aides or friends on the occasion of the birthday of one of their children, buy and send them a present or even turn up unheralded at an occasion, incognito, in a relatively ramshackle car driven by himself.

A man with several monikers, IBB, Maradona, Machiavelli or Evil Genius, Babangida was already an established figure in the Nigerian political firmament and consciousness before he captured our imagination like a quintessential spellbinder from 1985. This was when he unceremoniously sacked the dreaded Buhari/Idiagbon military junta from power and brought about an unusual variant of military administration into Nigeria. Prior to this latest daring coup plotting escapade against a duo that the country had thought invincible, Buhari had been more than a casual participant in all the main coup plots that had taken place in Nigeria apart from the January 1966 coup. Indeed, he was either the pivotal figure, main orchestrator or mastermind of the coup plot or he was at the forefront and vanguard of those crushing a rebellion. It is worthwhile just chronicling and putting his exploits in this area into proper perspective because it probably helps in defining the remarkable nature of this extraordinary soldier.

Babangida was one of the young Turks who gathered round the irrepressible leadership of the late General Murtala Mohammed to revenge the January 1966 coup which had led to the slaughter of many Hausa-Fulani politicians and military leaders and some of their Western counterparts. The July 1966 coup, also known in military circles as the July Rematch because it pitted most of the Northern military elite against their Igbo counterparts, is probably the bloodiest of all the coup plots and attempts that have taken place in Nigeria. It was a retributory reprisal with vengefulness and vengeance. It was bloody because the protagonists were blood thirsty. Seeing their leaders almost out of control set the rank and file on a course of almost no return. It can be said that they simply lost their mind. It is instructive that most of the Northern officers who took part in the coup, Babangida included never regretted their action or felt the need to apologise for it. They actually continue to justify it as being something that was required given what had gone before.

In July 1975, Colonel Babangida, as he then was, joined forces with other radical elements of the Nigerian Armed Forces to overthrow General Yakubu Gowon’s government. They were unhappy with the slow pace of the Gowon administration particularly his reluctance and unwillingness to hand over to a democratically elected government. Babangida, as commander of the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps, played a key role in this bloodless palace coup which was made easier by the fact that Colonel Joseph Garba of the Brigade of Guards was deeply and intricately involved in the plot.

In February 1976, Lt. Col. Buka Suka Dimka of the infamous ‘dawn to dusk curfew’ debacle attempted to overthrow the military government of General Murtala Mohammed. In the process that led to the assassination of Murtala Mohammed and his aide-de-camp, Lt. Col. Akintunde Akinsehinwa, in a hail of bullets. The abortive coup attempt almost led to the death of Murtala Mohammed’s Chief of Staff and Deputy, General Olusegun Obasanjo. As it was, Colonel Raymond Dumuje was mistaken for Obasanjo, who had chosen to hide in the Ijesha Lodge residence of the wealthy Chief S. B. Bakare on Queens Drive in Ikoyi, and Dumuje was badly wounded in the ensuing farce of an assassination. It was Babangida who literally snuffed out the coup and crushed the rebellion by recapturing Radio Nigeria broadcasting station from Colonel Dimka who then fled but was captured and executed.

Babangida was soon again at his government ouster antics at the end of the December 1983. He was one of the arrowheads of the coup that deposed the civilian administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and brought the dreaded duo of Major General Muhammadu Buhari and Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbon to power.

Upon overthrowing Buhari in 1985, Babangida tried to be the exact opposite of Buhari by running a populist government. He released hundreds of the ill-assorted politicians it had pleased Major General Muhammadu Buhari to haul into his gulag. Some of them were meant to spend several lifetimes inside prison with impracticable sentences as high as a thousand years. This singular feat endeared him into the hearts of many Nigerians because not only were the sentences too harsh, they were also in most cases unjust and unjustifiable. Babangida was indeed like a “Daniel come to Judgement” as far as millions of Nigerians were concerned. The manner and speed in which he promptly dismantled the apparatuses and appurtenances of coercion and ruthlessness that General Buhari and, his sidekick, General Tunde Idiagbon, had manufactured and concocted.

Babangida knew Nigeria like the back of his palm and hypnotized the people endlessly. He appointed Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe an upstanding and astute Naval officer as his Deputy and Chief of Staff. It is interesting that Ukiwe had served in the Biafran Army but was reabsorbed into the Nigerian Navy after the civil war and this also demonstrate the sterling leadership qualities of Babangida in refusing to let that influence his judgement. Babangida demonstrated his ruthless streak and his brooking of no dissent when he casually dumped Ukiwe because of his strident objection to Nigeria joining the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Babangida then appointed another fantastic Naval officer, Augustus Aikhomu, who later became an Admiral as replacement for the truculent Ukiwe. Babangida showed in his choice of deputies that he was concerned to recruit the best talents to support him in nation building at this time, and he did this with much success. He continued in this vein and mesmerised us with his cabinet appointments by attracting a star-studded team of technocrats and administrators from all parts of Nigeria. He became the ultimate showman. His “poster boys” included Jibril Aminu and Babs Fafunwa in Education, Chu Okongwu, Olu Falae and Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji (AAA) in Finance, Bolaji Akinyemi, Ike Nwachukwu, Rilwan Lukman in Foreign Affairs, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti in Health, Bolasodun Ajibola and Clement Akpamgbo in Justice, Tam David-West, Rilwan Lukman, Jibril Aminu in Petroleum, Olawale Ige in Communications, Alani Akinrinade and Gado Nasko in Agriculture, Alex Akinyele in Sports, Tam David-West and Nura Imam in Mines and Power, Mamman Kontagora in Works and Housing, Tony Momoh and Alex Akinyele in Information, John Shagaya and Tunji Olagunju in Internal Affairs, Emmanuel Emovon and Gordian Ezekwe of the Biafran ‘Samba Ogbunigwe’ bomb fame,  in Science and Technology, Kalu Idika Kalu, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji and Chu Okongwu in Budget and Planning, Wole Soyinka in Road Safety, Tai Solarin and Maria Shokenu in People’s Bank… Such a galaxy of well-respected and well-meaning stars helped him stabilize the government. He was smart enough to move these men and women imbued with great talent, dexterity and skills amongst the various Ministries so that they could bring their expertise and experience to bear in several areas of governance in the country.

His beautiful, adorable and elegant wife, Maryam Ndidi Babangida, of blessed memory, was one of the finest and most impactful First Ladies ever. Her Better Life for Rural women initiative won her accolades from far and near. In 1991, she was a co-winner of The Hunger Project Award alongside the Professor Wangari Mathai of Kenya.

Babangida is known to have introduced economic measures that welcomed IMF conditions and conditionalities after the desperate years of the Buhari government. The Buhari administration had strenuously resisted the devastating implications and effects of this poisoned chalice, but Babangida was determined to forge ahead with it believing that it was best for Nigeria at the time. He felt that the pains were outweighed by the relief it would bring to the economy and the living conditions of Nigerians. In this, he seriously miscalculated and was very gravely wrong.  Rather than receive any succour, Nigerians groaned under the heavy sacrifices that they were being forced to make, and the punishments that they had to endure because of the compulsory and mandatory devaluation of the Naira which was an obligatory condition of the IMF loan. Indeed, this unfortunate economic policy to which Kalu Idika Kalu gave his imprimatur is the harbinger of the wholescale and seemingly interminable devaluation and erosion of the value of the Naira we see today.

Babangida’s government was nearly truncated by a coup led by Gideon Orkar. After the coup failed, Babangida bared his fangs, retaliated ruthlessly and showed his dark streak. One of his best and long-standing friends, Mamman Vatsa, paid the ultimate price with his life despite spirited and passionate pleas for forgiveness from the troika of Nigeria’s literati, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and John Pepper Clark. Babangida hurriedly packed his bags and absconded from Lagos into the warm embrace of Abuja which he set about developing at break-neck speed. It is to his credit that the capital city is what it is today as the foundation for the development was effectively laid by him. Lagos will also remember Babangida for the Third Mainland Bridge which permanently changed traffic and life in Lagos and turned it into a truly international city.

Babangida’s government was sadly dogged by some calamities and strange occurrences. Notable amongst these was the dastardly murder of the talismanic, gifted, cerebral journalist and socialite, my brother from Ife and Ugbekpe Ekperi, Edo State, Dele Giwa by a letter bomb, the likes of which had never been seen in Nigeria. The Babangida administration was suspected of being complicit in this gruesome and heinous murder but till today the truth is still shrouded in secrecy. The other purportedly linked incident was the Gloria Okon fiasco in which a lady drug trafficker, Gloria Okon was arrested at the Aminu Kano International Airport whilst trying to travel abroad. This was in April 1985 just before the Buhari administration was booted out of power by Babangida. Okon died in mysterious circumstances in police custody six days later. Speculations mounted about her ties with the Babangidas but there has never been any shred of evidence and it seems Babangida, and his wife have merely been much maligned in this respect.

It is as a result of his failed promises to return Nigeria to Democracy that Babangida’s image and reputation seems to have been much tarnished. Politicians were banned and unbanned in a game of chess in which all the officers were controlled by him and everybody else was a willing or unwilling, witting or unwitting pawn. Proper musical chairs! Babangida was also a consummate footballer who demonstrated a dexterity in dribbling all other players in the game. Ultimately, he made the mistake of forgetting the side he was playing against and began to dribble himself and others facing his own goal. It was inevitable that he would score an own goal against himself. He soon dumped the military uniform for impeccable traditional robes. After several attempts at transitioning, he was forced to conduct the 1993 Presidential election which was won by his bosom friend, Chief Moshood Abiola. For reasons better known to Babangida and his apparatchiks, an election adjudged as the best and fairest Nigeria has ever witnessed to date was annulled and the winner, Chief Abiola, eventually landed in prison where he ultimately died. This incidence continues to haunt Nigeria. Everything has unfortunately nosedived for a great country since the tragedy that unfolded following that unfortunate and terrible annulment.

All of Babangida’s innovations and legacy were obliterated by this singular occurrence.  He has tried on several occasions to explain, weakly, the circumstances under which he cancelled his best moment. Many Nigerians have refused to buy his reasons while the more charitable ones have grudgingly forgiven him. What is clear is that nobody has forgotten, and nobody will forget. It is my fervent hope that history will be kinder to him than it is now because at the end of the day IBB is the exemplary Gentleman Officer, loyal to a fault to his friends, accommodating, kind and generous. As those close to him will attest, the IBB in the public glare is totally different from the IBB the loving and doting family man, the affectionate friend, the philanthropist, the effervescent and bubbly personality who can sometimes appear too good to be true. In effect, IBB is an enigma, a unique blazing comet that’s seen once in a lifetime. For good or for ill, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida cannot be ignored.

Despite everything, he continues to be relevant in the affairs of Nigeria. As he turns 80, Ovation International magazine has produced a magnum opus on IBB that presents the most compelling story of a most complex and complicated character, generously and lavishly laced with never seen before pictures. It is a fitting documentary and special tribute to this human prodigy…

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Pendulum: Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr: Refreshing Lessons for Generations




By Japheth J. Omojuwa

This is neither a tribute to nor a piece in praise of Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. Presidents have defied protocol to offer praises, even across the ocean. Kings have broken tradition in offering tributes and titles, captains of industry have queued behind themselves sharing memorable and inspiring accolades to a timeless icon who did his best to moderate the celebrations. Even if one defied these and decided to try against reason, King Sunny Ade’s Fayeyemi tribute is matchless and inimitable, and I could never reach Chief Ebenezer Obey’s depth and artistry in celebration of the man. Thus, there is nothing left to be said in form of praise or tributes that could surpass those already offered by these great men and women.

I have not come to praise the man; I have only come to address the spectators who were held spellbound by the spectacle and were left wondering what could be so great about a man whom most of them have never seen and only ever get to hear of. Often, when one gets sucked into the attraction of the show, the lessons get lost.

This once, we cannot afford to miss the lessons. The stories that contributed to the making of the man provide vital context for his greatness and offer a rich source of learning and inspiration for generations to come. When these stories are left untold, myths and falsehoods can fill the vacuum, perpetuating disempowering beliefs that hinder progress and growth. For instance, some may believe that wealth can only be acquired through unscrupulous means or cronyism.

When President Emmanuel Macron of France wrote in his tribute, ‘you are humble enough to often publicly declare that the confidence of several French companies at the beginning of your entrepreneurial adventure was instrumental in building the success that is yours today’, among other French alliances, he was making reference to the man who explored for more capital through the banks. A much harder way than through the disempowering stories that people tell to explain wealth they do not understand and in the same breath excuse their own misfortune.

The moniker, ‘The Bull,’ is not merely a name with a golden insignia; it reflects some of Adenuga’s most essential characteristics. The Bull is traditionally seen as a symbol of wealth and subterranean powers. It does not just make an entry; it makes an unforgettable one. It does not recognize defeat; any appearance of defeat is a retreat that often proves costly for those who stand in its path. These traits find expression in the success story of Globacom, which is a testament to Adenuga’s tenacity and determination.

Many exited at the point the government cancelled their mobile telecom licenses. Instead, The Bull charged on, refusing the small battle of a legal pursuit and instead focused on the big prize at the end of what was going to be a protracted bidding war for GSM licenses. Adenuga had to call on his grit again when the prize he won came without the trophy. The government had its cake and ate it. The Bull’s bouncebackability came into play again because well over a year later, he got the license that was fairly won in an open bidding process. When the stories get told, you cannot have a single blot on his shield. The Bull played by the rules, even when the rules were shifted against him, his staying power meant his team returned with victory. A hard-fought one but The Bull stayed invincible.

Other companies would have been happy to just start and do a continuous chase of those who had gone ahead of them, Mike Adenuga’s Globacom defied the norm by starting out with a paradigm shift that remains unmatched in Nigeria. Instead of chasing the competition and playing by their rules, by crashing the price of SIM cards and starting out with per second billing – others said this was not possible at the time – the competition had to bend to his game. The horses that started the race earlier were now doing the chase.

Adenuga’s Globacom dragged the industry on the path of perfect competition with his early moves, he then differentiated immediately by offering services the first and second movers had not even thought of. They were left competing with him at one end in a game whose rules he had redefined by his paradigm shifting bullish entry. He left himself alone without competition at other ends, advancing and flexing with technology above what was on offer. Translated to Yoruba, o ti ilekun mo won, o fi kokoro pa mo.

One reference the tributes intersect is his humility. Humility is an interesting phenomenon. You cannot be poor and be said to be humble. Poverty and humility appear to be parallel lines, yet they find intersection because poverty is already a humble position. Albeit a position that appears to be without the choice of the bearer. When it is said that a person is humble, one must pay attention. When you are so rich with means and power but appear to be unconscious of that elevated state of being especially in your dealings with people, that is humility. Some go out of their way to be seen to be humble. That defeats the purpose. Feigned humility is not humility. The Adenuga tributes refer to the sort of humility that the man himself would only come to see in the description of the people who experienced it. The humility of a man who just is.

Attention seeking appears to be humanity’s contemporary collective de rigueur. That could be explained by the ubiquity of the Internet and its appurtenances. Contemporary culture has now birthed a world where billionaires want to evolve into bloggers even as blogger aspire to be billionaires. We have built a universe and culture where staying relevant has become a daily endeavour, yet in all of that world, we all aspire to Mike Adenuga. The one who would rather not be seen, the one who finds comfort and apparent fulfilment in not being heard. Yet the one who has impacted people and institutions so much he brings life to another moniker of his, The Spirit of Africa. A reference that captures the essence of his values and the fact that one needs not be seen to make change happen, one needs not speak to be heard. And to make great impact, intentions and action are greater than fugazi moves, vain aesthetics and puerile drama.

The rich, in observing the tradition of noblesse oblige, have often committed to philanthropy. The Mike Adenuga principle goes above that sense of obligation because giving is entrenched in his persona. In a world where many keep records of those that they helped that never returned to say ‘thank you’, the millions opportune to be blessed by The Spirit of Africa do not get a chance to. Because his generosity leaves no room to collect appreciations. The giving and the changed lives are the essence of it all.

Conversely, you won’t find a person with a higher sense of appreciation, even for the little things.

Writing about personalities can be enjoyable, but there are times when addressing important issues should take precedence. This piece is not solely about an individual’s personality, but rather the enduring values necessary to navigate a constantly changing world. While exploring Dr. Mike Adenuga’s achievements could fill volumes, the focus here is on some of the values that propelled him to success and how we can apply them to our own daily challenges. As we confront new and complex problems, the lessons we learn from those who have gone before us can be invaluable. Dr. Adenuga’s life offers a powerful example of how these values can lead to great rewards, and this is a message that deserves to be heard by this generation and beyond.

He exemplifies E pluribus unum, and of him, there are lessons to be learned for generations to come. This is the legacy one must have a sense of appreciation for. Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. GCON, CSG, CdrLH at 70 has left lessons for us in these Platinum number of years, we cannot afford to lose sight of these precious gems.

Japheth J. Omojuwa is the author of Digital: The New Code of Wealth and founder of Alpha Reach

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Adenuga Special

Pendulum: Mike Adenuga: The Spirit of Africa @70




By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, exactly 70 years ago, on Wednesday, April 29, 1953, an exceptional baby was born. As was customary with the Yoruba people of old Western Region of Nigeria, he would soon be given names that would reflect the circumstances of his birth and the observations of his parents around the period.

Thus, he was named Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Isola Adenuga, at his christening. One of these powerful names soon became a prophecy fulfilled. AGBOLADE is the child who has attracted wealth to his family. If the Adenugas thought they were already successful and prosperous, their son, Mike Adenuga Jr. would soon be known globally as one of the world’s wealthiest humans on planet earth.

I will not bore you with his biography since the cyberspace is already awash with tales of his uncommon trajectory. I’m here to demonstrate why I’m convinced that the celebrant of today is a special creation of God sent to this world to touch countless lives.

As for me and my house, I consider my encounters with him as being spiritually ordained. Not many people can boast of seeing and knowing Adenuga at close range. I’m privileged to have Dr. Adenuga as my mentor and benefactor. I can readily write a PhD thesis on the extraordinary nature of the Spirit of Africa, a spirit you hardly see but feel his impact all around you.

I’m very convinced that only God could have sent Dr Adenuga to me. Our relationship is undoubtedly divine.

I bless the day I met Dr Adenuga in 1991. More than money, I have gained much more from having substantial access to him and drinking endlessly from his fountain of knowledge than the wealth he has splashed on me and so many others. While most people see his billions in dollars, I see his intellectual prowess in trillions. I pray that technology will give us opportunities to clone such brains as I doubt if similar geniuses are still manufactured these days. I will never get tired of learning at his feet.

Let me now give you just a few of our encounters.

Adenuga, the generous giver: I can confidently say, Mike Adenuga is the most generous man or woman alive. If you know of any other, please write your own piece. I know of people who have become billionaires in Naira/assets from the regular support Adenuga gives them. All it takes is to impress him repeatedly with performance and loyalty. No amount is too big for Adenuga to give his friends and associates. He believes in the reward system. I once asked why he gives out so much. His response was a classic. “If you have a Billionaire as your friend, his wealth must reflect on you…” What a response!

In 2015, I got a call to pick up a car at Banana Island which he bought for me. I wasn’t surprised that he bought me a car, since he gives more than 50 exotic cars out every year, I was stunned that he bought me the most expensive car in the Audi family, Audi A8L. I was later told he bought about ten of those luxury cars and gave them out. I know of a family he gave the husband a Range Rover and the wife a RAV 4. These are not Tokunbo vehicles (used cars) but brand new. Adenuga does not believe in dolling out peanuts to people. One encounter is enough to leave you dazed eternally. If you are smart and can manage your business well, you should be made for life.

Adenuga, a loyal friend in the days of tribulations… In 1995, I got into serious trouble with the Abacha government and I needed to literally vamoose and I reached out to Adenuga for help. I was pleasantly surprised when he gave financial support as risky as it was then. And during my exile years in England, he supported me every year till I returned home. Unlike others who would expect you to become a slave thereafter, I was treated with love and respect.

When I started Ovation International in London and the company ran into trouble, I wrote to Adenuga and asked him to take over since I didn’t want my dream to evaporate. His response again was brilliant and encouraging… “Ovation is your baby, work harder at it…” He kept giving me the necessary support periodically without requesting for my flesh and blood.

Adenuga respects reciprocity in relationships… He tries hard to reciprocate kind deeds you make to him. A year after he bought me the Audi, I did something that really touched him in 2016. He invited me to his Bellissima Palace on Banana Island. As I sat down, he thanked me profusely for my love for him. Then to my greatest surprise and joy, he announced very calmly: “I have just ordered you a Range Rover, the only problem is that the dealer only have it in white color…” Jesus, I screamed: “Chairman, you just gave me the Audi A8L last year, this is unexpected Sir…” He smiled and told me: “Our Bob Dee, you’re a great guy and you deserve anything I can give… I will let you know when the Range is available in black, because black will look good on you, and send it to you…” And when the car was ready, he told me to wait for someone at Wheatbaker Hotel in Ikoyi, where it was delivered to me. Let me confirm to you that both cars he gave me in one year cost him N85 million… Let’s not talk about other transactions at home and abroad, including well funded foreign assignments.

Adenuga hates the word impossibility… One beautiful morning, I landed in Dubai. As I was checking into my hotel, a call came through from his top aide, Mr Bode Opeseitan. “Bob Dee Sir, Chairman wants to have dinner with you and a few friends at home tomorrow…” Wonderful Lord, the Devil is a liar, I soliloquised. This was an opportunity I had waited for so patiently. A dinner with Adenuga is always a treat. He is a man of extraordinary culinary taste and style… He spoils his guests with the best of cuisines, washed down with an assortment of cocktails, white and red wines, champagnes and cognacs… He sends me cartons of these expensive drinks, from time to time. Sorry, about this digression. This is a rare opportunity to say just about one percent of our interactions.

I had to abort my stay in Dubai with automatic alacrity. How can a whole Adenuga invite me to dinner and I will tell him I can’t come because I’m in Dubai. So I told Bode to tell Chairman, I will honor his invitation, no matter what it would take.

So I called Emirates and moved my next flight to London backwards and left for London same afternoon. Fortunately, I landed in London by about 6.30pm and was able to board the 10.30pm Virgin Atlantic flight from same Heathrow Terminal 3 to Lagos. Because of Adenuga, I made a round trip of Accra to Dubai to London to Lagos in less than 24 hours. But it paid off handsomely. At that dinner, I sealed a mega deal of the Ovation Carol sponsorship with Glo… “Bode, please, tell your sponsorship team to give Bob Dee whatever is required to make Ovation Carol a success…” What a Spirit!

Adenuga’s battle with photographers… For a man so charming and handsome, Adenuga does not like cameras around him. I’m lucky to have had many pictures with him. When I started handling his media relations in 1992, I was being paid to shield him from publicity, whether good or bad. It was difficult, if not impossible, to get any clear picture of Adenuga in media files. His favourite words are “I’m hiding under the parapet…” When I complain about the way he’s being undervalued on the annual Rich List, he used to tell me: “I’m not desperate to be listed as number one. I’m comfortable wherever they put me. Those who understand the game know the real wealth.”

On one occasion, about 12 years ago, he agreed to open up his books to a few of us. His nationwide and international real estate portfolio was so staggering that we became dizzy just looking from city to city. He owns one of the most priced properties in Johannesburg and he’s a neighbour of the current President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. His properties litter several world capitals.

We gained access to the stupendous assets of GLO and GLO 1 and could not believe the figures staring at us. It is difficult to contemplate how one man could ever think of stretching the limits of technology by laying submarine cables under the Atlantic ocean from Europe to West Africa.

His gargantuan operations at ConOil was another matter entirely with huge investments in exploration, in upstream and downstream. The gas deposits were beyond imagination. What a blessed man!


Adenuga and his battle with cameras… It has been a struggle getting him to agree to take pictures even for his 70th. For a man who can afford the biggest photographers in the world, he only allowed one young talented Nigerian Photographer, Jeffrey Olalekan, to take his pictures and Maureen Ekezie, to clean up the job. What an enigma!

Let me give one more encounter, a very recent one, since there are too many tributes to read on Adenuga today. He called me two days ago to complain that the noise about his 70th birthday is getting too loud. So I pleaded with him to allow us celebrate him this time around and that I believe this one is beyond his control. It is not his style but his friends, associates and disciples have decided to celebrate him big time, whether he agrees or not.

Just imagine a newspaper edition in which you have Segun Adeniyi, Simon Kolawole, Reuben Abati, Nduka Irabor, Yemi Ogunbiyi, with congratulatory messages pouring in from well-wishers. What more can a man ask for from God?

Today na today…

Happy birthday to the Spirit of Africa…

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Pendulum: Please, Bring Back Our History




By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me say how much I enjoyed reading as a young boy while growing up in the ancient town of Ile-Ife. Life was so much fun in those good old days. As a university town, Ile-Ife paraded some of the best bookshops in the old Western Region. The University of Ife Bookshop was top on the list. This bookshop was ably managed at different times by very cerebral and highly influential men like Chief Wunmi Adegbonmire and Chief Oyeniyi Osundina. Next door was the Hezekiah Oluwasanmi Library, where I worked as a Library Assistant, from 1977-78. We also had the CSS Bookshops, managed by the Anglican Church, where I also served as a shop assistant in 1976, after my West African School Certificate examination. We had Surulere Bookshop, owned by Chief Ezekiel Oluwafemi Adegbola, Olusanu Bookshop (later changed to Omo Arewa Bookshop), owned by my first Headmaster, Chief Isaac Olagbaju. There was Adura Lere Bookshop, owned by my Mum’s best friend, Mama Adura Lere, as we fondly called her, the mother of Mr Erastus Bankole Akingbola, the former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank. My Mum’s beer parlour was next door at Number 2A Atiba Square, opposite The Ooni’s Palace and the Ife Museum.

My early years were soaked in books and voracious reading. I soon fell in love with thrillers. I enjoyed James Bond novels, written by the British novelist, Ian Fleming. I thoroughly devoured the novels of James Hadley Chase, a master of suspense. I massacred the spy adventures of Nick Carter who wrote about 648 novels. I later graduated to Robert Ludlum, Sidney Sheldon, James Clavel, Joan Collins, Leslie Charteris, and so many others. I feel so nostalgic about those amazing days as I write this piece right now. I got so addicted to thrillers and was happy to discover detective novels written in Yoruba by two major authors, Baba Oladejo Okediji (the author of Aja Lo Leru, Agbalagba Akan, Rere Run and others), and Alagba Kola Akinlade (the author of Ta Lole Ajomogbe and others)…

Historical works and biographies attracted me endlessly. I loved the historical play of Efunsetan Aniwura, as captured by my teacher and supervisor, Professor Akinwumi Isola.
I followed the lives of African writers through the works of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Mongo Beti, Ferdinand Oyono, Ayi Kwei Ahmah, Kofi Awoonor, Jomo Kenyatta, Alex La Guma, Nawal El Sa’adawi, Mariama Ba, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Camara Laye, Cyprian Ekwensi, T.M Aluko, Elechi Amadi, Kenneth Kaunda, Oginga Odinga, D.O Fagunwa, Kole Omotoso, Amos Tutuola, Okot p’Bitek, David Rubadiri, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Christopher Okigbo and so many others. But one man stood out for me, not just as the greatest user and “manipulator” of the English language but as a fearless activist. Whatever little radicalism and activism buried in me today was planted in me by Wole Soyinka, who I met early in life as a teenager on the campus of University of Ife.

The book that did the magic is no other than THE MAN DIED. If you’ve not read it, please find one, possibly at The Booksellers in Jericho, Ibadan. It contains a riveting account of Soyinka’s prison memoirs. After reading it, you will realise and appreciate how much Nigeria has lost most of its ability to fight injustice.

After Wole Soyinka, I was privileged to meet and get close to Chief Gani Fawehinmi. His Chambers nearly became my home at a time and I marveled at his collection of radical books plus his neatly bound collection of newspapers and magazines.

I have deliberately taken you through this long preamble in order to demonstrate my fascination with knowledge. My dream was to be a scholar and end up as a university lecturer. But man proposes and God disposes. As much as I tried to get employed as a teacher, I couldn’t secure a job. It was out of joblessness that I started writing. That’s a tale for another day.

Growing up on the University of Ife campus really helped my formative years. Meeting Wole Soyinka was a major inspiration and the icing on the cake. Many young boys of those days wished to get arrested in order to acquire the “Soyinkean” experience and fame.

The meat of my epistle today, you can guess, is easily about the recent elections in Nigeria, which has surpassed others before it in all its negative ramifications. The matter is not about who won or who did not win. Not at all. It is about the brazen impunity of how a winner emerged without the umpire, INEC, following its own rules. Had INEC obeyed its own rules, I would have been the first to congratulate whosoever won.

It is shockingly embarrassing to see how we are being told to just adjust, accept the charade and move on, as if this is now our new normal, or just go to court despite the well known booby traps usually along the ways to the court of justice. Not even the usual members of the privilentsia, otherwise known as the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, have the confidence to determine good or bad cases any longer. Opposition voices are systematically being bullied, suppressed and discouraged. This could not have been the democracy we fought for, and certainly not that which we envisaged as compensation for those epic battles against the military juntas.

What I find most baffling is the attitude of many of our former comrades who no longer see nothing wrong in bold faced election rigging. Nothing insults me than those telling us it is an act of disloyalty to speak against our friends who may have been heavily involved in this gargantuan mess.
So I’m now thinking that what they are saying is that it was good to criticise those who were not our friends but we can keep silent and pretend that all is well once our friends can grab power by foul or fair means.

I weep for my country. Some of the people I used to respect so much have now revealed to me that hypocrisy is a virtue. I sincerely do not care if they refuse to speak up for justice, for varying reasons, but I do not expect them to discourage those who are willing and ready to travel the slippery roads.

A man I love so much called my wife aside recently and told her to tell me to support Chief Bola Tinubu because of our past relationships. I simply told my wife that the man should try and be fair to me for the following reasons.
I hold Tinubu in high esteem but we’ve not been in the same political parties since we returned from exile in 1998. I had chosen to be in opposition as my humble and modest contributions to nation-building. Two, I preferred to support individual candidates based on my personal experience and conviction and if I fail or feel disappointed, like in the case of Major General Muhammadu Buhari, I will seek other candidates, thereafter. This is the reason I supported the Atiku/Obi ticket in 2019, at a time I was not yet a member of PDP.
Three, I already tried to seek the PDP Presidential ticket last year and no matter the degree of disappointment, I won’t jump ship just because my friends are contesting in other parties. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Four. I will not do anti-party like some senior members did remorselessly under flimsy and pretentious excuses. I insist that it is the height of chicanery to set fire to a home under which you still hope to sleep. Better to quit than being the Judas within. You may still come back later, if you wish.
Six. I prefer to give priority to the image and betterment of my country above that of my friends or pecuniary consideration. Anyone who does not appreciate that level of personal sacrifice is certainly an enemy of progress.
7. There are those who have come to attack me on the basis of ethnicity, saying power should come to the South, no matter who fills that space. I beg to disagree, by rising above such pettiness. At nearly 63 years old, I have lived long in Nigeria to understand the fallacy of thinking that bringing a President from your zone will guarantee the progress and advancement of your people. As educated as most people pretend to be, I expect them to place premium on experience, exposure, capacity, stability, and so on, and not on some primordial sentiments. While I do not expect the President to be a Saint, there must be some minimum standards to meet.
It is my right to then choose my preferred candidate just like I never begrudge your own choices.
And finally, throughout my assignment as Director of Strategic Communications for the PDP ATIKU/OKOWA Presidential Campaign Council, I reflected the wishes of my Bosses by keeping to the message, and focus, of our cardinal programmes. If we lost within due process, there would have been no controversy. But I wish to put on record that what happened was a garrison operation and I do not care if every other Nigerian do not to see it that way and so decides to move on as usual. I choose to exercise my right of recording this dissenting voice for posterity.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria…

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