Watch Vanguard Personality Awards

I take traction, this week, from the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti in his Basket Mouth lyrics where he invited his audience on a voyage of what he called “underground spiritual game”, warning of the leaking basket mouth.

Fela ended taking up the world in that single album. I can’t do near the aanjonu himself in these snippets. At the Vanguard Personality of the Year award: The climax of the loaded week, for me, was the Vanguard awards at Eko Hotels on Saturday which combined the 2019 postponed edition, for reason of COVID-19, with that of 2020. I was in the team of the Nigerian icon, Afenifere legend and Acting Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who was once described by the Emeritus Leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, as the embodiment of the Afenifere. Papa undoubtedly received the longest and voluntary standing ovation at the event.

The annual event lived up to its billing in the judgement and quality of the awardees and I was wondering at the wizardry of the perfect determination of the award recipients and the suitability of the categories. My Governor, much deserving, especially as the Commander-in-Chief of our own Amotekun corps, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, was fully clad head to chin, in COVID-19 protocols, that it was better you didn’t bother him. I only managed to appreciate his delectable wife for my baby girl in her custody. Governor Fayemi was gentlemanly as he helped his wife up the podium even as the Ekiti First Lady appeared smart and strong.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum still remembered to refer to me as comrade when I took time to remind him of some of my pensioner clients. I missed the guy I was really looking forward to meeting, Governor Zulum of Borno, who deserved the recognition for his commitment to his people in spite of the inherited war of which he is the Chief Security Officer without troops or weapons. So much for Nigerian federalism.

Nigerian federalism

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has lost so much weight; who will not, with the Kaduna troubles. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a man of like frame as I am, shared the personality of the year award with Zulum for being the nation’s commander-in-chief in the war against COVID-19. Of course, I shared the same table with my Kabiyesi, the Olugbo of Ugbo, who we Ilaje love to call Oko Moremi Ajasoro.

In the absence of Uncle Sam Amuka, he is really a Pa now, the legendary proprietor, his boys really delivered. The General Manager, Gbenga Adefaye, who was my friend when we started at Nsukka in those days before I left them for Ife, held forte, leading Eze Anaba and other guys who work behind the scenes to make the Vanguard truly Nigeria’s leading newspaper. Lanre Arogundade remembered and cracked all the jokes at Great Ife.

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National Assembly members and their constituents: While it might be true as Edmund Burke told Bristol voters in 1774: “Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not the member for Bristol, but he is a Member of Parliament, it is also true that Parliamentarians are agents of the people, embodiment of their interests. The votes in the National Assembly this past week, particularly on the Petroleum Industry Bill and the Electoral Act were rather amusing in the manner of what the Yoruba would describe as oro buruku t’oun terin, a sad event that ironically drew laughter.

Funny that the 1953 Nigerian Parliament was more progressive and forward looking than the present Assembly. In 1953, when the motion for Nigeria’s Independence was moved for a definite year of 1956, the North introduced the proviso of “as soon as practicable” for what legendary Tanko Yakasai, also a lifetime achievement awardee of the Vanguard, explained as lack of preparation by the North, particularly in terms of quality personnel.

Now, 68 years thereafter, the trouble is not only that Nigeria still revels in backwardness, but that such stagnation is decreed by parliament, which would rather not be concerned with how the Nigerian Communications Commission will connect the whole country with the rest of the civilised world, but that our democracy be held by the jugular by the NCC, INEC, parliament and presidential assent, all in the suffocating grips of people of the same indoctrination and idiosyncrasies.

What looked like a puzzle is that the Green Chamber which initially pandered to some progressivism on both the PIB and the Electoral Act predictably capitulated without new pressure, but on the primacy of, possibly, illusory party tickets over the feelings of their people. Some sought to hide behind a finger when all senators from a particular Yoruba state were absent. The governors, particularly of the South, whatever they are accused of, are the heroes of their people.

Those who traded the interests of their people, either for a return or a reserved ticket, need be reminded of the proverbial Arubeji, most senior masquerade, who as a result of an illusory promise of the sea leviathan for his own festival was content with being denied of his own share of meat during other festivals. The fate of the arubeji and her people is a forgone conclusion. No Nigerian needs to be convinced that manual processes are the roots of all demographic failures in Nigeria.

It is a country of anything goes, where areas at war recorded more votes than in peaceful environment. Those mocking that three per cent have been forced down the throat of the oil-producing communities need be told that it’s a pyrrhic victory. If it never pricked their conscience that the goose need be nourished to produce the much needed golden eggs, the predicted end may be knocking earlier than they ever thought. Let’s wait and see how those who wish to corner 30 per cent of NNPC profit for illusory oil in the frontier basins, intend to enforce their law against the constitution which, with greater force, insist that all monies generated by the Federal Government be paid into the Federation Account.

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Onochie, Pantami and Igboho, you may be wondering what they have in common. Anyone who watched her screening before the INEC Committee of the Senate would no doubt marvel at her audacity. A political appointee who not only defends the President and his APC government, was honest enough to admit that she was partisan up till 2019 as if political behaviour is that easy to expunge from human nature. It is like nominating me for appointment as a judge just because I am a lawyer and qualified.

The statement of the Presidency about Sunday Adeyemo (Igboho) keeps coming back all the time. Notwithstanding the killings by the Fulani in Yorubaland, Igboho’s activism has been absolutely non-violent, not even anything near civil disobedience. The Presidency is bent on giving Igboho a bad name to hang him. Thank God his statements are not considered treasonable but “seditious utterances and antics, which he is known to have publicly expressed, have, overtime morphed into very hateful and vile ladden speeches”.

If there’s still anything left in terms of decency to urge in favour of the Buhari administration, the Attorney General should have cautioned Garba Shehu against such embarrassing comments. The least advice to Shehu is that sedition has since flown out of the windows of our laws mopped by superior constitutional rights to freedom of speech, the same reason the doors of our legislations are still shut against the criminalisation of expression in the name of hate speech. Unfortunately, what is good for Patanmi is not good for Igboho.

A minister may continue to sit in the Federal cabinet government, with his incendiary campaigns which we were not sure was unconnected with horrendous massacres, including the possibility of hacking down a State Governor on air. It is a crazy world, this country, as Fela long said. Kukah on tour, on course Bishop Matthew Kukah, in his current assessment of the state of our country, has not said anything strange from what other Nigerians know and have been vociferously saying.

His position only makes all the difference. Kukah is not less patriotic by drawing global attention to the travails of Nigerians as members of the human family.If human memories are so short, Garba Shehu should consult Google for such brutal campaigns against Nigerians twice in the United Kingdom, not by virtual communication but physical presence when our leader described Nigerians particularly the over 60 percent below 30 years of age as lazy, useless, sitting down doing nothing claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare, education free”.

Our President also once told a London audience that the same Nigerians, mostly youths, were disposed to criminality and should not be granted asylum there. My people are useless, my people are senseless. Which kind country be this? God bless Fela’s basket mouth. Nigeria, we hail thee.

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