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Pendulum: A Toast to My Angel Mike Awoyinfa at 70



By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, it is often said that God will not come down from heaven to help anyone, but he will always send someone in the form of an angel to do so. Let me confess, that, I found one in Mr Mike Awoyinfa, my former boss at the Weekend Concord, from March 1989 to May 1990. For the benefit of those who may not know this quietest of quintessential gentlemen, Mr Mike Awoyinfa is one of the most prolific and exceptionally versatile writers that Nigeria has ever had. A literary guru, with an exceptional and exciting witty writing style, Mike Awoyinfa is a cut above most of our writers. His intelligence and sense of logic demonstrated in his writings are complemented by his bright and engaging personality which those closest to him have enjoyed over the years.

Our paths first crossed around April 1988. This is a story that I have told several times. Since it is one of those stories that defines what I have now become, and also because it is relevant now, as I celebrate Mike Awoyinfa, I will briefly recount the relevant parts of the story.  I had travelled from Ile-Ife to Lagos desperately in search of a job. I had just completed my Master’s thesis in Literature-in-English at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, after a first degree in Yoruba at the University of Ife (1982). My dream was to be a Scholar/lecturer, but for some reasons which I need not elaborate upon now, it became an impossible mission. In frustration, I was advised to engage in freelance writing as a way of inching myself up the Nigerian journalistic ladder. I started to work freelance for two major newspapers with relative minimal compensation. The Guardian in Lagos was paying N25 per article. The Sunday Tribune in Imalefalafia Ibadan paid nothing, but I was happy with the exposure I was getting, the contacts that I was making, and the experience that came with it. These were invaluable.

It was during this period that I travelled to Lagos again in search of greener pastures. I had hoped to get a job at The Guardian, but it soon became clear that this was a mirage. I was then advised by my friend, Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, of blessed memory, to  explore the possibility of being offered employment at the African Concord magazine. I immediately seized upon the advice and visited the offices of African Concord magazine, where I met the Editor, Mr Lewis Obi, and I was instantly offered employment. I already knew it was only a matter of time before I got a decent job in journalism because of the work that I was already doing, and I was prepared to wait patiently for this to happen. Prior to that visit, I had begun to make a name for myself as a writer and was becoming well known in journalistic circles. The offer of appointment was therefore partly a result of my growing reputation. During that trip, and after the job offer, the adventurous spirit in me led me to the Features Desk of the National Concord which was headed by Mr Mike Awoyinfa. On meeting me, Mr Awoyinfa instantly engaged me to write a feature for him which I obliged excitedly and proudly. I believe our mutual love for books and music also got us glued to each other. His inspirational and effervescent style of writing also endeared him to me and was an inspiration for me. He has a simple and effective way of communicating. Not enamoured with the use of grandiose and grandiloquent words unless they communicate his intentions and feelings more. Some of the way that he writes has influenced my way of writing too.

Even though I was a Staff Writer at the African Concord magazine, I was simultaneously contributing to other publications under the Concord Group, periodically, such as the National Concord, Sunday Concord, Isokan, Business Concord, and before long, I had become a star writer within the Concord Group and a household name in the public domain. This pattern of writing for the other Titles in the Concord Group stable had been kicked off by that first Feature story commissioned by Mike Awoyinfa at the beginning of my time at African Concord.

In early 1989, barely seven months after resuming at the African Concord, Mr Lewis Obi called me to drop a bombshell. He said a new publication to be called Weekend Concord was being launched and the Management was poaching some of the best writers in the business to start the new tabloid. I had been considered one of the best writers in the Concord Group and earmarked for reassignment and redeployment to the new tabloid which was to be headed by Mike Awoyinfa as the Editor. To say the least, I was both disappointed and apprehensive particularly as I was told that I had no choice in the matter. This element of coercion in the job put me off completely. For a Scholar, I preferred writing for what I believed was a serious journal like African Concord. I felt it was a come down and demotion to become a writer for a tabloid like the Weekend Concord was planned to be.

Unknown to me, my destiny was heavily tied to Weekend Concord, and I would become a globally renowned and highly reputed and respected journalist because of the experience and expertise gained from being a star writer at the Weekend Concord. We spent some weeks planning our maiden Edition. Mr Awoyinfa insisted we must launch it with a bang, so we needed a banger of a debut cover, what he called a major scoop. He was the right man to direct the affairs of the weekend paper because he had a nose for stories and knew exactly what the people wanted to be served at the weekend.

Mr Awoyinfa sent me out in search of that extraordinary story. It was like traveling in the wilderness in search of the unknown. I dreamt up many ideas, but none was easy to activate and actualise. However, mercifully and eventually, I got my major scoop from an interview with Mrs Laide Soyinka who was the Chief Librarian at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State. I also got another exclusive interview with Ilemakin Soyinka, the son of the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.

On my return to the office, my boss was floating in the skies, very excited that I had gotten enough stories to last us the first three weeks.

It would be difficult to find another Editor in the league of Mr Awoyinfa, who was also lucky to have his best friend, Mr Dimgba Igwe, of blessed memory, a prose stylist, as his Deputy. Dimgba and I shared the same birthday, 16 May which probably also made us soulmates at Weekend Concord. There were also a few crack newshounds like Omololu Kassim, Aliu Mohammed and others as backup. We met our launch target of March 4, 1989. To say we took Nigeria by storm would be an understatement. Week after weeks and month after months, we broke new grounds and our circulation figures increased uncontrollably. We soon hit 250,000 copies in a jiffy. Only the shortage of newsprint curtailed and slowed down our growth in the circulation stakes. My boss could have claimed all the glory, but he was humble enough and he regularly praised my talents and uncommon nose for news to high heavens. He did not stop there, he backed up his generous words with kind promotions. Within two months, he recommended me for double promotions, straight from being a Staff Writer to Literary Editor, in May 1989. And barely six months after, in November 1989, I became News Editor, which made me the number three man in the hierarchy at Weekend Concord. My life in Lagos was absolutely surreal. In under two years, I had become the darling of my employers, Chief Moshood Abiola, our Chairman, and his highly cerebral wife, Dr Mrs Doyinsola Hamidat Abiola, the Managing Director. The only snag was that I had reached my peak so soon and there was no more room at the top as far as the Concord Group was concerned. It was Mike Awoyinfa’s effusive praise and appreciation of the work I was doing for Weekend Concord that made me become the cynosure of all eyes not just in the group and the media world but also in celebrity circles. I was already well known in those circles because of acquaintances I had made through family, friends and at the university but this snowballed because of what I was doing at Weekend Concord. Mike Awoyinfa was prepared for me to hug the limelight, notwithstanding that I was his subordinate and using his platform. It is the measure of the immense man that he is, that he recognised the star that he was nurturing and was only too eager to support and advance my career in every way possible. I guess he knew he was birthing a star journalist.

This was the period something monumental fell on my laps. I got an invitation to have a discussion with the highly spirited Publisher of Classique magazine, Mrs May Ellen Ezekiel Mofe Damijo, now of blessed memory. MEE as she was fondly called had started a lifestyle journal, but according to her running it was proving problematic because of her vision and other commitments. She needed a competent and confident Editor with the right contacts and connections while she would tackle the issues of marketing and business expansion. She made me an irresistible offer which would instantly catapult me to the pinnacle of my career as Nigeria’s highest paid Editor. While I was busy procrastinating and dilly-dallying, I decided to mention it to Mr Awoyinfa, whom I thought may choose to be selfish because of my utility roles at Weekend Concord, but I was dead wrong. Not only did he congratulate me, but Mr also Awoyinfa personally drove to the Penthouse office of Classique magazine, then at 3 Allen Avenue, Ikeja, and encouraged me to accept the offer immediately. That was it. Our mutual respect for each other grew in leaps and bounds thereafter, and we became like members of the same family. Till this day, our love has never faded. His children are close to me, especially Babajide, who he jokingly told me that he has donated to me because “he likes you too much…”

As “my Boss for life” celebrates his Platinum jubilee, I humbly plead with everyone reading this piece to kindly rise with your glasses filled with wine, water or juices, and join me in raising a toast to one of Africa’s extraordinary journalists of the 20th and 21st centuries, Mike Awoyinfa…

May Mike Awoyinfa continue to live in good health, happiness and prosperity…


Yesterday, 22 July 2022 marked the 80th birthday of Mrs Abah Folawiyo, the widow of the former Baba Adinni of Nigeria, Chief Abdulwahab Iyanda Yinka Folawiyo, and the mother of my very dear friend, the irrepressible Segun Awolowo. Sisi Abah as she is fondly called was born in 1942 into the prestigious and noble Koku family of Ijebu Ode. Her mother was Ghanaian, and she was brought up and educated in both Ghana and Nigeria. On account of this fact, she is very close to her maternal family in Ghana. Her education in a Convent School in Cape Coast, Ghana was to shape her life which she considers as a sober one despite her flamboyance, popularity and celebrity status.

Sisi Abah is known and reputed for her expertise in fashion, designing and sewing. She was the winner of the first Daily Times Fashion Designer Award and also won the first Fashion design award in Ghana organised by the defunct Ghana Airways at the launch of its first aircraft. Her first trip abroad was to Beirut being the prize she won as the winner of the Ghana Airways competition.

A very talented woman. Sisi Abah had her own fashion house situated in Surulere, Lagos, which was known as Labanella.

She started the fashion house with her friend Ornella, and this led to the eponymous name of the fashion house. The fashion house, a pioneer in its field, was a very successful brand. It became even more successful when then General Olusegun Obasanjo, as Head of State, banned the importation of foreign clothes and materials. Her business blossomed and boomed as she took advantage of the ban. Although she has retired, she still designs and sews for a select few.

Sisi Abah has gained recognition from Nigerian Fashion Designers. For a long time, she was the national President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), of which I became a patron years ago, and she is now a life patron of the Association

Sisi Abah is also a very good cook. Family and friends will attest to this. She is a fantastic hostess, always prepared to entertain guests and leaving nothing to chance by not only supervising the cooking, but personally doing most of the cooking herself including buying and preparing the ingredients. Sisi Abah puts paid to the debate and controversy about which Jollof Rice is the best by plumbing for Nigerian Jollof Rice. She s most qualified for this task given her Nigerian and Ghanaian roots. I must not forget her dancing prowess which exhibited when I had the honor of hosting her and her friends, inclusing Iya Oge Opral Benson, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, and others at my home in Accra, Ghana.

Most importantly, she is a family woman. She also loves wholly and with all her might. Previously married to Lagun Adesanya, now a Celestial Church Priest, She married Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo and converted to Islam because that was his faith.  She had no children from these relationships. Her only son, Segun Awolowo is the grandson of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his wife, Mama H. I. D Awolowo.

The lovely, beautiful and delectable Sisi Abah is a very caring and warm Sister, Aunt, Mother, Grandmother and Friend and regularly gives to charity as part of her philanthropic and Islamic duties. She looks after everyone in her circle of influence.

I wish her a very happy 80th birthday.

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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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