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My World

Religious tourism

A modern Orthodox church dedicated to St. John the Baptist built next to the Jordan River.

There are many reasons people go for pilgrimages. Some go because it is on their ‘wish to do list’—like education, marriage and children. Some go because it seems worldly and elitist as well as an escape from the doldrums and monotonies of the village life. Some go because they think it will enhance their self-esteem and earn them respect among their peers.

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NIGERIA SIGNS BASA WITH ISRAEL—From left: Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Viola Onwuliri and Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, at the signing of Bilateral Air Services Agreement, BASA, with Israel in Jerusalem, yesterday.

An evening in Toronto

One of the things that made this evening interesting is that it was totally unexpected. I did not know when I woke up that morning that I was going to have dinner outside my hotel. My guide, driver and custodian for the day simply let it out that we were going somewhere to have dinner just as we were rounding off the day’s event. He saw the look of surprise on my face and he jocularly but aptly said that I had entered a ‘One chance’ vehicle.

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In the interest of righteousness

I know Dr Junaid Mohammed; maybe not very well, but enough. Apart from what I had read about him over the years, our paths crossed a couple of times in the heady days of the Second Republic. Late Senator Mahmud Waziri’s Louis Solomon Street apartment in Victoria Island was one of the places top military and government officials often met after the then NTA network news to discuss national issues.

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Our corrupt cops

Not many of us were genuinely shocked at the ‘shocking accusation’ by the Acting Inspector General of Police that his predecessor in office carted 24 cars away as part of the retirement benefits he allowed himself. Not many of us found the allegation incredible.

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President Muhammadu Buhari and Northern Governors

What is the North afraid of?

I have to be careful how I tell the following stories; not because they are not true, but because I do not want the personalities involved to identify themselves or be identified by those who are familiar with any of the stories. At the same time, I do not want to distort the stories to such an extent that their veracity, which is the core of my message, is lost. One of the stories involves two friends who pulled out of an agency to set up their own enterprise. The two had different personalities which led them to have different social lives but seemed to complement each other in business. They both brought different sets of skills to the enterprise in any case.

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Suspected Niger Delta Avenger paraded by the 4th Brigade Commander, Gen.F.Yahaya in Benin City Sunday

Niger-Delta Avengers and their unlikely sympathisers

I had brunch with a small but select group some two weeks ago after the Sunday service. Good conversation flowed with the food and wine as the day’s dailies passed from hand to hand. It was inevitable that the issue of the Niger-Delta activists would come up especially since the papers had carried their latest acts of pipeline vandalisation. Two of the guests included a retired NNPC Chief Executive and his lovely wife who made it very clear that her view on the activities of the Avengers was different from the general view at the table. Many of those at the brunch table had posited that the group was cutting its nose to spite its face.

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Their years of innocence

I understand Mr Rauf Aregbesola, the Osun State Governor is Ijesha. I don’t know if he spent his early years in Ilesha like I did. I also don’t know if he attended any primary school in Ilesha like I did. If he did neither, then I can proudly tell him that mine was a beautiful experience. My school was what we called an ‘Awolowo School’ in those days which meant education was largely free. It was the main school in its catchment area which also meant that all eligible children irrespective of parentage—rich or poor, educated or illiterate, Christian, Muslim or Pagan—made a bee-hive for the school at enrolment time.

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Gov Ambode

Shame of Lagos State

My column last week was on Mexico, a country I visited last month. I tried in the article, to point out how Mexico which might become a major economic power in less than a decade, had benefited from its close proximity to the US through tourism. In fact, Mexico receives one of the world’s largest numbers of tourists in a year according to statistics. Yet, its tourism strengths —weather, historic sights and the seas —are not greater than ours. If anything, Nigeria has a more diverse weather.

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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

The country Trump wants to wall off

If Mr Donald Trump has his way and becomes the next American President come November, ‘a big, big wall’ will spring up to divide Mexico and the United States of America. Mexico’s economy is on the rise and is billed to get to the top 10 among the world’s largest economies in about five years. The US economy on the other hand, is on the wane and might even stop being the world’s largest economy by the end of next year.

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Bama IDP Camp:  A Mother , Yakana  from Kanuri with her baby at Bama IDP Camp in Maiduguri  during Minister’s Tour of Bama . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

Think of children who are dying of hunger

The words above are not mine. They belong to Jorge Bergoglio, known world-wide as Pope Francis; also referred to within the Vatican as the ‘Pope for the poor’ or derisively by some powerful personalities in the curia as ‘the poor Pope’. This impassioned plea was made at a speech he gave on July 7, 2013 to about six thousand seminarians from 66 countries. In calling for the future religious to live lives that are consistent with their teaching and preaching, he said: ‘It grieves me to see priests and nuns with the latest model of cars… .You must not do this! It is better to cycle, or use a smaller car.’ That was when he used these words that have resonated with me: ‘Think about the children who are dying of hunger’.

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The democracy lies

This year’s May 29, was no different. You could tell which side of the political divide a writer came from just by reading his assessment of the past year. In addition to this, and it is unsettling, is the new dimension of regional bias. These days, you could tell, by looking at the by-line, what the tone of the article would be. It seems a section of the country has decided to shoot the President down irrespective of where he is perched. Unfortunately, there are many reasons to shoot him down if you are so inclined. Or if you are unwilling to understand the peculiar circumstances of this presidency.

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*Some of the brides

The way we were

May Day found me at the 70th birthday celebration of an older friend, Gabby Osakwe with a few of his close friends and associates. It was a simple, yet classy affair. The few empty seats at the Civic Centre in Victoria Island where the event was held, were proof that it was not an all comers affair as cards were checked against a master list at least twice. The guests which cut across different professions had at least one thing in common. They had all come a long way together. Many of them had known the celebrant and each other for over 50 years! This provided an intimacy and a cosy atmosphere that made conversations easy as many flitted from one table to the other exchanging pleasantries.

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Giving back…

I spent a very delightful evening with a certain gentleman in a village somewhere in the middle belt last week. It was an evening that stretched far into the night. With choice liquor, soft jazz music and the enveloping peace and quietness of an agrarian village night to keep us company, we discussed what many Nigerians gather together to discuss these days—the state of the nation, our profligate and reckless leaders, the fuel situation, the general level of impunity, and the increasing poverty level in the country.

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Militants vs Buhari

The enemies within

A manufacturing company did the unusual when it sent emails to its staff to tell them that the enemy of the company had been captured. Those who were interested in its identity should proceed to the conference room. Those who went found a life sized coffin. Inside it was a big mirror. The message was not lost on the staff. They were, as they looked at themselves in the mirror, individually, and collectively, the enemies of the company.

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