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Counting the years

Last weekend, I attended the 80th birthday celebration of Mr Ben Lawrence. It was hosted by his nephew, Nosa Igiebor, the CEO of Tell Magazine, a weekly news magazine that played a prominent role in the June 12 saga. The ‘party’ was all that I expected; a quiet get-together of veteran journalists—mainly of the defunct Daily Times stock—who had paid their dues to the pen profession.

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What did you learn last Saturday?

I have witnessed many Independence Day anniversaries in my time. Right from the very first one when as a little school kid, we were given small green-white–green flags and asked to line the streets. Later, we were given free lunch and freer time to indulge in our favourite past time of games and pranks. I didn’t know what it all meant then but I learnt—through my parents, teachers and the passing years—that it was the day we gained the freedom to govern ourselves as we liked.

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Recession: Saraki’s recommendations

Like any leader, or indeed any patriotic Nigerian, our Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki has of late, been showing considerable concern for the country’s economy. Fresh from a two-month, fully paid Sallah break with his fellow distinguished legislators which they must by now know that the country can no longer afford, he recommended the sale of some of the country’s assets and the sack of the Ministers of Finance and Budget and Planning.

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Muslim brotherhood

An unusual picture came into my phone from one of the news blogs on Tuesday morning. It was that of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi at a Muslim prayer ground in Ife. He was hardly distinguishable—in posture and dressing—from any of the Muslim faithful around him. It was a poignant, meaningful picture because as far as I know, the Ooni is a devout Christian; it was also a calming picture because Osun State had been at a tipping point of religious tension in recent times due to an unfortunate directive that tended to accentuate rather than blur the differences between Christianity and Islam.

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Their tomorrow is here now!

Some 30 years ago, a military president told the country that it needed to make investments and sacrifices that would benefit the coming generation. And he said it in such a quaint, catchy and colourful phrase that it resonated with the rank and file in the country. ‘For their tomorrow, we gave our today’ were more or less, the unforgettable words he used. Unfortunately, they are now words that will haunt him—because he is still alive, his generation and indeed, the rest of the country.

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If Buhari truly loves Nigeria…

If President Buhari loves Nigeria as much as he says, then he must release her. Too many barriers, too many regulations are holding Nigeria and her development prostrate. Restructure the states and make them viable. Let the Niger-Delta region do that it wants with its oil; let the regions that have gold, tin, nickel, coal, bauxite etc have control over what is on their soil and in their soil as long as they all pay the necessary taxes. Let the local economy along with education, infrastructure and security be the preserve of the respective regions. Just as it is done in the US.

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The taste of ashes

I missed the opening of the Rio Olympics. I was told by those who watched it that it was a spectacular, not-to-be-missed event. But I was, unfortunately, shuttling planes and airports and was more concerned at that time with getting self and baggage to the next destination safely. In the process, I also missed the first game of the dream team which it won handily despite the match being played within hours of the team’s arrival in Rio. That feat demonstrated the power of the spirit over physical limitations. The consequence of these was that I was determined to watch the closing ceremony and as many of the dream team’s matches as I possibly could.

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Religious tourism

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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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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