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Pendulum: Why Britain Cannot Regenerate Without Nigeria



By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, I was honored to have been invited to participate at this year’s
BIG TENT FOUNDATION LEADERS’ SUMMIT AND THE RADIX ANNUAL CONFERENCE with the theme and focus on Regeneration, Renewal , Levelling-up – the buzzwords of the moment, which held in London two days ago. Here’s a fully developed version of my submission at the event.

I have the pleasure of joining you all today. I’m thrilled that we have not come here to make the usual diplomatic speeches, exchange pleasantries, back-slap, retire to coffee rooms and off we go back to our various destinations. We are here to tell ourselves the truth and nothing but the truth. Nothing would ever change if we continue to “clap with one hand or hide behind one finger” to use the words of the African legend, Chief Moshood Abiola.

I have chosen to speak on the topic: “Can Britain regenerate and make substantial PROGRESS by continuing to present a carefree attitude to African affairs, especially in Africa’s most populous nation, NIGERIA?

I grew up reading and loving the seminal work of the Guyanese historian, activist and author, WALTER RODNEY’s HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA, published in 1972. Born in 1942, Rodney had attended the University College of the West Indies in 1960, and bagged a first class degree in History in 1963, before proceeding to England where he bagged a PhD in African History in 1966 at the famous School of Oriental and African Studies in London, at the age of 24. He was assassinated on 13th June 1980 in Georgetown, at the age of 38. This author and his book were major influences on many Africans across the world in my childhood days.

In those days, the battle was between capitalism and socialism. The two neo-colonialist super powers of the time, USA and USSR, courted the African nations with a vengeance. Not to develop them, but to denude and despoil them. Not much has changed in terms of purpose, save that they have been joined by the hitherto silent, super power, China, and USSR has become Russia with somewhat diminished influence. However, in another sense, things have changed dramatically today. To the war has now been added the battle between poverty and prosperity; how to eliminate hunger, diseases, famine and wars. And the neo-colonialists are again having their say and way. Since the halcyon days of the Great British Empire which ended in the early 1960’s after most of the colonies became independent,  Britain has never been a super power of the same ilk as the others again, but it comes quite close, commanding great respect and attention because of its imperialistic past.

Since my speech is about Britain and its regeneration dream and ambition, it is pertinent to note that this can never be achieved in isolation, not without the active participation of close allies like Nigeria, my dear beloved country of birth before I migrated here, under duress, in July 1995. I was on the run from the dreaded military regime of General Sani Abacha.

I will focus on the common theme of this year’s summit and attempt to make sense of the current problems and drawbacks and what needs to be done to make amends.
Please note that Britain cannot regenerate while some of its biggest allies, especially my country Nigeria, continue to wallow in endemic poverty and backwardness. Most educated and uneducated Nigerians today would readily blame the British for under-developing Nigeria through the amalgamation of 1914 which not only forced different ethnic nationalities together but also made the marriage indissoluble. The intractable tension and prevalent conflicts since then have become the albatross of my country.

Let me cut a long story short. Nigeria is tottering today on the brink of another civil war and imminent collapse if urgent action is not taken by all of us. I know many Western analysts may dismiss this as only remotely possible, but those on ground understand how fragile the unity of Nigeria has become. Some parts of the country are practically under the grip of terrorists and bandits. The British government needs to do much more to persuade the Nigerian Federal Government and its leadership to seek urgent help from experts in counterterrorism and counter insurgency before it is too late. Britain stands to gain so much in a stable Nigeria and so much to lose in a destabilised Nigeria. Imagine hordes of millions of immigrants fleeing Nigeria and seeking asylum in not only neighbouring West African countries, but also in Britain, with which there has always been great affinity and ties. This doomsday scenario is real. No effort on the part of Britain or it’s European Allies would keep them at bay. It would be a tragedy of monumental proportions.

The good news is that Nigerians are some of the brightest and most hardworking humans on earth. Britain currently employs and enjoys our phenomenal workforce. Thousands of Nigerian kids are in British schools and universities because we believe education is the greatest gift we can bequeath to our children. On a personal note, I have had to work assiduously and at breakneck determination to send one of my four boys to Harrow school in London and the other three to Charterhouse Godalming, in Surrey. Such opportunities are dwindling today for many Nigerians because the economy is in shambles, kids are being kidnapped from their schools in some parts of Nigeria. Nigerians value education so much, but it has now become an occupational and health hazard. Britain would do well to encourage good governance in Nigeria from hereon. There are many Nigerians waiting to become heroes in Britain and not martyrs of a freedom struggle in their country. Only by good governance and administration will the former be the Nigerian narrative going forward.

It is also noteworthy to demonstrate and understand how the British banks are shooting themselves in the foot by engaging in policies that are inimical and would never be beneficial to Britain in the long run. Nearly all accounts opened by professional Nigerians and others in England are being shut down on account of scaremongering, seeming racial  profiling and institutionalised racism which labels them as Frauds, PEPS and even just plain suspicious. Proper legitimate transactions are queried merely because of your ethnic sounding name or business origin and the AML big stick is wielded against them. Barclays Bank takes the cake in this seeming conspiracy against Nigerians on the pretext of fighting money laundering. It is obvious that the British Banks have blatantly refused to understudy the Nigerian peculiarities. A few examples would reveal some shocking realities. Nigerians hardly operate credit cards. Our debit cards are virtually useless. I cannot go to Harrods or Selfridges and bring out my Nigerian debit card to pay for a two hundred pound item. So we are forced to carry cash. In order to transact business and as a result of foreign exchange restrictions by a confused regime, we are compelled to source for foreign currencies from the Black market at exorbitant rates, either in cash or by transfer. This is our predicament as the British banks flag us at the slightest opportunities and, like orphans, we have no government at home to fight for us. Neither the British Banks nor the British Government, which have led Nigeria to this sorry pass by harbouring, shielding, hiding and retaining Nigeria’s wealth stolen by a few corrupt leaders, are inclined to accept the blame. Instead they shift responsibility to innocent, hardworking Nigerians and turn us into the criminals that we are not. The British Banks upon assuming most of us as criminals then proceed to treat us in a most disgraceful and heinous manner.  They simply send out forms or ask online questionnaires that can never adequately cover our unique challenges. The next thing you receive is the message that an account you opened over 20 years ago has been closed down. This is racism of the highest order and it cannot foster or engender any form of regeneration, or even cooperation.

So, please, tell me, how can Britain regenerate when the country is deliberately throwing away opportunities and killing Nigerian businesses through these insidious and invidious means. Britain is the ultimate loser, but those who are gaining most are in the Middle East and Asia. The Nigerian love and rave for made in Great Britain goods has long since faded. Other European countries have quietly eased into the space which Britain by its discriminatory policies has long vacated. However these countries and even the United States of America are coming behind the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries and their Asian counterparts, particularly China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan etc.

We all remember how Nigerians used to swarm Oxford Street, Knightsbridge, Bond Street, Mayfair and other popular neighborhoods in the past but all those have dried up. The effect on the British economy can only best be imagined, particularly having regard to the damaging effects of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. How can a nation be holier than the Pope and hope to survive the repercussions of such shortsightedness?

However, I believe there is hope and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Britain should not isolate itself from others. Its institutions and establishments should take a logical, rational and fair approach to the challenges facing African countries and their citizens.

Britain must lead the way in ensuring fair trade to African countries, particularly Nigeria. The cycle of poverty and diseases needs to be broken and eradicated. One way Britain can do this is by ensuring that it encourages its businessmen and women to establish industries in African countries. So that, rather than exporting their raw materials to the industrialised nations for value addition which then gets sent back at outrageous profits, the finished products are themselves produced in those African countries.

I know that some people will venture to say that the enabling environment for such large scale industrialisation does not exist in Africa. Whilst this may be true, the process for regeneration should be all encompassing and predicated on mutual sacrifices. The industrialised nations did not get to where they are in a day, months or a few years. Having reached that level, they must continue to improve and tag each other along, taking themselves on the superhighway of futuristic scientific and technological development and advancement. This they must do amongst themselves by technology transfer. They must entice and induce the brilliant and willing African minds to assist in reaching the lofty heights they have already attained. They should stop providing the Africans with little drops, feeding them in cribs and crabs but never letting them get proficient or independent in any way. I believe that with Brexit, Britain, which has gained a lot from Africa and has a lot to answer for, including the expropriation and theft of valuable Nigerian artefacts, not to to mention lopsided trades, can make reparations of sort by embracing equity and justice in its dealings with Africa.

One way of doing this and hasten the industrialisation process is to assist Africa in its power generation, transmission and distribution programmes. The continent is in darkness literally and figuratively. If light perpetual shines on Africa, a glorious age would beckon for the world. I feel that real darkness engenders darkness of the spirit. On the contrary, light opens up new vistas and an array of opportunities, which will also sharpen the mind and change mindsets. It is imperative that Africa embarks on a wholesale rethink, and full scale rejig of its power infrastructure. Renewable and sustainable energy is the only way to go to achieve this end. Britain and the rest of the developed world would be greatly advised to focus on Africa in this area and assist it to prosper. To do so would mean that when the rest of the developed and semi-developed world think that they have found solutions to the world’s environmental and climatic problems, the behemoth that is Africa will lunge out of the the fecund darkness and plunge the world back to environmental catastrophe. It is easy for Britain and other countries like it to neglect Africa because our carbon footprint is negligible compared to theirs. However, as they reduce their torrid conditions, so it is likely that those in Africa would increase as we struggle to play our own catch up.

In essence, Britain cannot hope to survive alone. It must carry Africa along in its trade, scientific and technological development, if it is to regain its pride of place in the comity of nations.

Furthermore, and equally importantly, Britain must recognise that it cannot supplant the mores and culture of a people with its own morality and laws. No country would seek to do that to Britain or succeed in doing so.

I love and prefer the British system, especially its rule and respect of Law, than any other. The British government should not give up on Africa by shrugging off its shoulders over our seemingly intractable problems. It does so at its peril. Britain should not add to our woes by embarking on policies which will only impoverish us. Instead, it should aid our development with technology transfer which is birthed in a sincerity of purpose. Britain should not drive us into the clutches of new hardened and desperate neo-colonialists because the end result would be calamitous, and bring casualties for Britain. Brexit is an opportunity for Britain to develop its old markets and allies. Sadly, present policies seem to militate against this. There is an urgent need for a change of attitude, otherwise we are heading for mutual economic and social upheaval, woes and destruction.

Britain needs to engage Africa, speedily. We should be partners in progress. No more. No less.

Thank you.

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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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