By Japhet Alakam
LAGOS—The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka, and many others, have commended the Editorial Board Chairman of The Nation, Mr. Sam Omatseye, for his writings, especially on his new book, A Chronicle Foretold, a collection of his writings during the tenure of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking in his capacity as special guest of honour at the presentation held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, Lagos, Mr. Fashola described Omatseye as one of the writers that had contributed immensely to the growth of democracy in the country.
According to Fashola, “in 2007, when my candidacy was announced, it was Omatseye who engaged me in a one-on-one debate that equipped me. He helped me in many respects to prepare me for governance. In fact he prepared me even more than the worst critics.”
Speaking about the book, the former governor of Lagos State enjoined Nigerians to learn from the mistakes of the past.
He said: “We are all living witnesses of the chronicles of what happened in the last few years. Every season has a lesson and I hope that we have learned ours. What did we do in the days of affluence? If we had managed it well, should we be where we are today?
“You heard what the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State said; that few people spent the money for the whole state. Then the question is, what will be the parameter for choosing our leaders, because very soon we will make a choice.
“On the other hand, news had it that one of the Chibok girls have be found. The lesson for us is when emergencies affecting human lives occur, how do we react?”
Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Amuka, described the author as a celebrated writer.
He said: “I assure you, I am going to read it tonight. I call him grammar boy. It is a great pleasure for those who enjoy reading to read whatever he writes. I recognise him and more people are recognising him too.
“The era he is writing about is an interesting time; that is where we are just coming from. What you are going to read is the history of the last six years or thereabouts.”
In his lecture, Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Bala Bantex, who represented Governor Nasir el-Rufai, said the author has a strong relationship with the governor.
Bantex said: “He has three things in common with el-Rufai: the skills, intellect to know what is right, commitment to doing it and the courage to pursue it to the end. These are what he shares with governor.”
Bantex said el-Rufai is one of those who insist on good governance and that it had been his style since he took over power in Kaduna. He shared with the audience some of the achievements the government of el-Rufai had recorded.
In his remarks, Aremo Segun Osoba commended the author for his contribution to the society through his incisive writings. He also commended Mr. Fashola for finding time to attend the event despite his tight schedule.
Osoba also commended him for awarding Obajana Road contract to Dangote and urged Nigerians to encourage private sector participation.
In his review, Kunle Ajibade said the book is an illuminated collection of 77 pieces of his columns in The Nation newspapers.
Ajibade said: “In this book, he is more of a prophet as some of the things he predicted have come to pass,” adding that it is not only about Nigeria, but about the author and other countries.
Other dignitaries at the event were Bayo Onanuga, represen-ting Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Alhaji Imam Imam, who represented Sokoto State governor; representatives of Lagos State governor, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Borno State governor, Delta State governor and Minister of Transport.
Others were Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, Editor-in-Chief/GM, Vanguard Media Ltd; Mr. Mideno Bayagbon, Editor, Vanguard Newspapers; Morenike Thomas, who repre-sented NIMASA Chairman; Mike Awoyinfa; Professor Itse Sagay; Ambassador O. K. Lawal; Eniola Bello, MD, Thisday; Senator Anthony Adefuye; Nike Oshinowo, among others.
On his part, the author, Omatseye, said the essays in the book foresaw Nigerians’ dashed promises under Jonathan as President and some brilliant works by some governors and public officers.
“I wrote that the Jonathan era would signpost a wave of squandermania, corruption and failure,” notes Omatseye, whose column, In Touch, is published every Monday on the back page of The Nation.
He said: “While others congratulated him, I drew our attention to what I knew would happen. It was not a special insight, but a simple vivisection of the times, Jonathan’s background and the crowd that surrounded him.
“I was proved right. Hence I call this collection of essays A Chronicle Foretold.”
A consummate public commen-tator, Omatseye’s other published works include poetry books, Dear Baby Ramatu, Lion Wind and Other Poems; a play, The Siege, and two novels, Crocodile Girl and My name is Okoro.