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Ndi Agbero hijack Onitsha as helpless traders, motorists groan

By Ikenna Obianeri

IKENNA OBIANERI writes on the plight of South-East residents, business owners and motorists in the hands of illegal revenue collectors

The activities of illegal revenue collectors in the South-East have worsened the economic conditions of residents, business owners, motorists and commuters in the region.

Despite efforts and interventions by security agents, the hoodlums, aka ndi agbero, are growing in notoriety, particularly in Onitsha, Anambra State.

Onitsha has been tagged the operational headquarters of the gang because the city serves as the gateway to other states in the region.

It is also home to the Onitsha Main Market which is regarded as one of the largest markets in West Africa due to its size and volume of business transactions.

The market reportedly contributes a huge percentage to the revenue of the state and the entire South-East.

Because of the market, a large number of trucks come into Onitsha daily, increasing the number of ndi agbero in the city.

Here, it is not only commercial transport operators that suffer in the hands of the hoodlums, traders and pedestrians are not spared.

The effect of their activities is also felt on the movement of goods and services as it negatively impact on businesses, particularly small-scale enterprises.

20 illegal levies
The issue of ndi agbero has continued to be a cause for concern among residents.

The state Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, identified it as a top priority of his government on his resumption of office in March 2022, when he banned their activities and suspended all revenue collections in the state.

The ban was greeted with joy and excitement and gave respite to residents.

But the excitement was short-lived, as the louts returned a few months after, more hardened and monstrous.

It is believed that those behind the louts are powerful individuals and politicians.

Findings by our reporter show that the illegal revenue collectors –mostly made up of political thugs — operate alongside state-licensed revenue collection agents.

They force commercial drivers, motorists, as well as traders, to pay at least 20 different levies.

Some of the receipts issued after such payments include, “Park and Pay”, “Daily Motor Ticket”, “Daily Tolls Ticket”, “Morning Levy”, “Afternoon Levy”, “Evening Levy”, “Cargo Ticket”, among others.

Failure to settle these rates attracts assaults in different forms.

The lorry and truck drivers entering the South-East from the Upper Iweka part of Onitsha, are always the worst hit, as their windscreens and side mirrors are often smashed by the hoodlums, who swooped on them, demanding various payments.

The Publicity Secretary, Lorry Drivers Association of Nigeria, South-East chapter, Chief Chimezie Ugoh, said the operation of ndi agbero in Onitsha was as old as the city itself.

“It is a pity that it has continued to defy every solution by successive administrations. It is a challenge that is causing agony, tears, sorrow and blood to us as we convey goods to various locations.

“We move our trucks all the way from other places with less molestation from the agberos, but the moment we cross the Onitsha Bridge into Upper Iweka, it is a different ball game.

“We always spend between N5,000 and N7,000 coming from other states, but the moment we cross the bridge, what they slam us in Onitsha alone is as much as between N30,000 and N40,000.

“These miscreants always wear different uniforms, demanding various levies, which we must pay daily. All the levies have suddenly been increased. The cargo levy that we used to pay N5,000 before was suddenly increased to N25,000 towards the end of last year. They also follow us to the place where the goods will be offloaded and collect ‘offloading’ levy. What we pay at the end of the day becomes much and this definitely increases the prices of goods.

“We have carried out various protests to draw the attention of the government to our plight, but no impact has been made and we have been left in this agony. When the government banned their activities some months back, it was a relief for us. But today, they are back in full force and venom, unleashing terror on road users. This is pathetic,” he added.

‘Our city ceded to agberos’
The Upper Iweka axis of Onitsha is a very strategic point which connects the Onitsha-Owerri Road to other South-East states.

The axis is also a major concentration point of the louts because of the large volume of containerised vehicles plying the road.

The hoodlums sometimes outnumber road users, as they pursue vehicles with long sticks.

Daily, drivers battle these miscreants, who operate without any challenge from law enforcement agents.

Narrating his ordeal, a traveller, Mr Chukwudi Onu, said, “Today, at Upper Iweka, Onitsha, I witnessed the worst of civilians; our city has been ceded to ndi agberos and we have to take it back from them.”

Onu, an Onitsha indigene, said he was coming from Lagos in his Toyota Sienna which contained a computer and a small printer.

He said as soon as he got to a bad portion of the Upper Iweka axis of the Onitsha-Owerri Road, where he had to slow down, four louts jumped out and surrounded his vehicle, shouting, “Give us our money.”

The motorist said he was taken aback by the demand and was shocked when two of the hoodlums broke his two side mirrors, while two others threatened to smash his windscreen.

Onu said, “When I asked them the reason I should pay them since I was not driving a commercial vehicle, they told me I was carrying some items at the back seat and I must pay N4,000 for the load. It became a tug of war as I was forced to part with N4,000 for them not to inflict further damage on my car.

“I have never heard anywhere that people pay for items on the backseat of their vehicle. If Soludo can just rid this city of louts, he will get a lot of accolades because their activities are destroying the means of livelihood of other people.”

Another victim, Cosmos Okafor, said he was travelling with members of his family from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, in his shuttle bus when he was attacked.

“On getting to Onitsha, these guys hijacked the vehicle in a commando style because of what they called the absence of ‘emblem’. They took us inside their office at Tarzan, near Upper Iweka Road. There, we saw men in their late 60s and 70s as their ogas, who told us that we would pay them N35,000 for not having ‘emblem’.

“I told them it was a private vehicle, but all our pleas fell on deaf ears and begging them was like trying to squeeze water out of a stone. In fact, my matter was made worse when I tried to remind them about the ban on their activities by the governor.

“We spent over two hours negotiating. It took phone calls to people that mattered for them to come down to N20,000. I also paid N1,000 for a gate fee,” he added.

Okafor lamented that the situation in Onitsha had reached a level where the miscreants had become first-class citizens, while other residents were tagged, second-class citizens.

A member of the National Youth Service Corps, Janet Ufodi, while narrating her ordeal in the hands of the hoodlums, said she was waiting for a commercial bus to carry her at Upper Iweka when she was accosted by two louts.

“They demanded I pay them for the luggage I carried, threatening to seize it.

“I was surprised that nobody came to my rescue as everybody was just watching as they were almost violently attacking me. At the end of the day, I parted with N2,000,” she added.

Commuters suffer amid protests
While several arrests have been made in recent times, the hoodlums usually end up returning to their various ‘duty posts’ after a few days in detention.

This has led to protests and clashes between the hoodlums and commercial vehicle operators, joined by aggrieved traders.

In the past, transport workers withdrew their service to draw the attention of the government to their plight.

However, commuters are most times at the receiving end of such actions, as they are forced to trek to their various destinations.

Despite these, the agberos continue in their reign of terror.

The Chairman, Anambra State Drivers Welfare Association, Mr Adindu Opara, said, “When you travel to other cities, you will discover that the activities of the agberos are restricted to parks, but immediately you enter Onitsha, you will be molested, harassed and beaten up by ndi agbero if you refuse to do their bidding, even non-commercial motorists are not left out. We are almost becoming second-class citizens in our state because of their activities.

“A lot of levies are being forced on us and if we refuse to pay or ask questions, the revenue agents will brutalise us and no one is coming to our rescue.

“The agberos have totally hijacked the revenue collection processes and it is so disorganised that it is difficult to distinguish between the government revenue agents and the agberos. We have not seen any law enforcement agent carrying out the order by the governor banning them; there is a need for the government to do the needful. This problem has defied every solution from past administrations and it must not be so in this new government.”

The Coordinator of the Keke/Motorcycle Drivers Stakeholders Welfare, Anambra State chapter, Chief Augustine Uka, lamented that tricycle drivers were forced to pay between N15,000 and N25,000 to the agberos every month.

He said each time the group decided to protest the highhandedness of the hoodlums, the gang beat would them up.

Uka noted that while many members of his group were living in abject poverty, the agberos fed fat on their sweat.

He advised the governor to set up a committee for the eradication of illegal revenue collection in the state.

“Past administrations only scratched the surface, but the present government must do the needful and muster up the courage and the willpower to deal with this menace, which has become a thorn in the flesh of the people.

“Although there are powerful sponsors and politicians behind them, any government that is ready to deal with them will succeed because nobody is bigger than the government,” Uka added.

Removal gradual, says govt
Due to the impunity with which the hoodlums carried out their activities, there have been allegations that the state government sold the “revenue windows” to the hoodlums for a huge amount.

But the Press Secretary to the state governor, Mr Christian Aburime, said it was not true that the state government had such a deal with the agberos.

Aburime said, “The state government is working hard to ensure that agberos are cleared off the streets and reduce their nefarious activities to the barest minimum so that there can be sanity in the system. But we should also bear in mind that these people have been there over the years and it is going to take a gradual process to remove them from roads and look for alternative means of livelihood for those who want to turn a new leaf.

“Some of them have been arrested and taken to court and the court has given judgment as to what should be done to them. Those that are willing to turn a new leaf, the government is rehabilitating them after which an alternative means of livelihood will be provided for them so they can become productive and good citizens not just of Anambra, but Nigeria as a whole.

“Again, it is not true that the government has sold the revenue window to the agberos. Nobody bought revenue windows from the government. When you bid and you win, it is not buying and you must abide by the terms and conditions. Even if you are working as a revenue collector for the government, there are rules of engagement you must abide by. You must not go beyond what government says you should do.” (Punch)

Kwara: What aided AbdulRazaq’s re-election; how late alliances failed

By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin

The reelection of the soft spoken Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara state after four years in office has opened another vista in the history of Kwara politics.

Four years down the line after his emergence through “O to ge “political movement which terminated the over four decades of political rule of the Saraki dynasty in the state, Gov AbdulRazaq introduced an entirely different political system that interestingly brought him at loggerheads with many in his own political family.

To underscore his keen interest in giving women and the youth leadership opportunities in the political space, Governor AbdulRazaq encouraged women to participate in the electoral process and was rewarded with the recent election of three female members of the State House of Assembly unlike the current legislature that has no single woman as member.

He also fashioned out his own development plan and established a social investment scheme through which the elderly ones and the very poor were being catered for every month. He further supported the artisans, transporters, revolutionised the education and health sectors while also improving on the infrastructure he met on ground.

His overall leadership style in office attracted not a few enemies for him such that many of those who were with him during the “O to ge” political movement left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)for other political parties.

The faction of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed left for Social Democratic Party (SDP), that of Waziri Yakubu Gobir found solace in Young Progressives Party (YPP), while that of Professor Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem eventually settled in New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

Each of these political tendencies with their candidates in all the elective posts, plotted to take over the governance from Gov AbdulRazaq. The political battle in the state was therefore very tough in the last four years.

However, the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections which clearly placed Governor AbdulRazaq on a comfortable lead for his re-election thwarted the plans of the PDP and other opposition parties to unseat the governor.

Governor AbdulRazaq then decided to consolidate, instead of folding his hands like others would expect and reached out to members of other political parties such as PDP, NNPP, YPP and even SDP, particularly those who contested and lost in the national assembly election, to collapse their political structures for him to enable him emerge victorious in the gubernatorial poll.

Gov AbdulRazaq’s reelection bid therefore yielded results as YPP Guber Candidate, Waziri Yakubu Gobir with his political structure stepped down for him.

Similarly, Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ilorin East/Ilorin South federal constituency and one of the strong supporters of Saraki’s political dynasty, who came second in the last election, Hon Wahab Issa also joined Governor AbdulRazaq in APC during the week. Another political warlord in Sarakis political family, Engr Yisa Yeketi also left Saraki’s political family fold to work for the governor.

Other leading defectors included Gbenga Oyekunle, Federal House of Representatives, ADC candidate for Offa/Oyun/Ifelodun, Senator Makanjuola Ajadi who contested for Kwara South Senatorial ticket also on the platform of ADC who both lost in the last election, a member of PDP, and former commissioner for Sports Kale Ayo; another member of PDP and former Commissioner Hajia Aisha Ahman Patigi; PDP’s Haruna Likpata; former council chairman and senior legislative aide to Saraki, Wasiu Bamidele; among several others.

Earlier, Ope Saraki cousin of former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki who contested on the platform of NNPP in Asa/Ilorin-West federal constituency but lost also joined Governor AbdulRazaq with his supporters for his re-election.

The YPP governorship candidate, Yakubu Gobir, on why he stepped down for Governor AbdulRazaq said, “it has been my utmost joy initiating an issue-based campaign that has brought immense hope and promises of a better future to our beloved state, particularly to young people.

“It has become apparent that the best way to achieve the goal we have before us is to forge alliances and combine ideologies. To this end, the Young Progressives Party hereby adopts the incumbent Governor and gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, in the upcoming gubernatorial election.”

He assured that, “this decision is not one that was made lightly. It was made after weeks of deliberation and a final concession that the incumbent Governor considered some of the policies outlined in my manifesto (the State of Kwara) alongside his equally well-intentioned 10-year Sustainable Development Plan (2021-2030).

“This ensures that, although I will be conceding my place in the gubernatorial race, the action plan that I feel addresses the peculiar needs of some 2,764 communities, 193 wards and 16 Local Government Areas in Kwara get fused into the implementation of the Governor’s Development Plan. Further to this agreement, it is understood that the Governor, upon winning the election, will form a government that further accommodates allies, including members of our own party.”

Meanwhile, gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alh Yaman Abdullahi and that of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) Prof Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem still slugged it out with Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of APC but lost.

After his victory however, Governor AbdulRazaq has been visiting stakeholders in the state, including his political rivals in the election such as Prof Shuaib Oba AbdulRaheem, gubernatorial candidate of NNPP, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo and several others.

Meanwhile, it was observed that the total votes which the governor garnered during the governorship poll were less than what obtained during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

According to an insider in APC who craved anonymity in an interview in Ilorin, “some of those who promised to collapse their political structures after meeting with the governor never did, while others were even discovered to be working against him.

“The governor is just lucky. His work earned him victory, not his late alliances with other parties and politicians.

“He would have scored the same figure that was recorded during the presidential election or even more if he didn’t reach out because his reaching out didn’t really make any political impact.”

One hopes that this political development and succession plan of Gov AbdulRazaq will not stir up another political crisis soon in the State of Harmony.

Man removed from plane for opposing Tinubu’s inauguration

By Emmanuel Okogba

An unidentified air traveller was removed from a flight over his insistence on President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu not being sworn in come May 29.

The lone protester was carried off the Abuja bound flight on Friday despite his resistance.

In the video obtained, he is heard saying “Tinubu cannot be sworn in”. Then in another clip where he is being taken out, he’s heard shouting “Obidients you’re here. They are doing this to me. Obidients you’re here, I am naked. Obidients you’re here, I am going naked.”

His action delayed the 6 PM flight for an extra hour, and took the effort of over five airport security officers to remove him.

The thirty- six state governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum had on Friday asked the Department of State Services, DSS to immediately arrest and prosecute those it has identified to be planning to install an interim government rather than issuing statements and heating up the polity.

The governors who condemned any unconstitutional means of regime change, however, vowed to resist such move, just as they assured their commitment to continue in the defence of Nigeria’s democracy as elected leaders.

The DSS had earlier in a statement said that the agency had identified some key players in the plot for an Interim Government in Nigeria but did not give the names of the masterminds.

The agency had said that the planners of the interim government had already held several meetings, during which they weighed many options to actualize their plot including sponsoring endless mass protests across Nigerian cities, securing a warrant to declare a state of emergency or a court injunction to stop the inauguration of the executive and the legislature at the federal and state levels. (Vanguard)

My brother, Senator Dr Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed

By Hakeem Baba-Ahmed

A tree is bent when it is still wet — African proverb

OUR family is very large and intensely political. Our father came from Mauritania to Nigeria in 1920 and died 1987. He was also passionate about sharing Islamic knowledge and rendering public service. Northern political and traditional establishments embraced, and trusted him to help nurture future Nigerian generations who will take over from the British with humility and sense of responsibility.

Our mothers, were great Nigerian women who understood the challenges of rearing a huge brood, managing a prominent citizen in great demand who straddled cultures and generations, and bringing up an entirely Nigerian family. We grew up under intense pressure to acquire Islamic and Western knowledge (even at a time the northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani were at best weary, and at worst hostile, to the latter). Our father had seen the best and the worst of Nigerian history intimately, as many of the key players in its twists and turns were his students.

Towards the end of his life, he would engage the senior ones among us in intense discussions on the state of Nigerian and global politics. His views were generally critical of our political systems that were not driven by our own basic values; leadership selection processes that were easily open to abuse, and institutional weaknesses that can only be explained by their alienation from our mainstream cultures and the people they are meant to serve. He had a particular disdain for a political system that tolerated, even encouraged conduct that was utterly condemnable, from people who aspired to lead.

He told us to be wary of the type of politics that will strip you naked in public, and then, at great cost to the integrity of leadership, dress you up and install you as a leader of decent people. He was certain that citizens can be upright and useful to society without submitting to a corrupt political system which drags you down with it. His position was that we should avoid the type of partisan politics that made heroes out of scoundrels, and reduced the best and the worst to the same levels.

It may have been lost to our father that he lost the battle at the point he exposed us to education, the values of service and the love of our country. His concerns were also severely challenged by the fact that the political process in modern Nigeria was the route with the highest potential to growing a just, competent and fair leadership; triggering social and economic development that narrowed the gaps between rich and poor, and building institutions that reduced the erosion of our civilizing characters.

He did not live long enough to begin to see his family’s wholesale involvement with public service, religious propagation and partisan politics. It was virtually impossible to avoid the plunge, given our upbringing and the very wide circle of his considerable extended family that jealously guarded the boundaries of his teachings and mentorship, which included the conduct of his immediate family.

Senator Datti almost brought up the rear in a huge family, but as soon as he was free of his formal education, he made the rounds seeking advice on joining politics. Wise counsel convinced him to build a step of personal achievement and a commitment that will say more than that he is from the Baba Ahmad family. He built BAZE University, run and won a seat at the federal House of Representatives where he stood out for his courage and com, became a Senator and lost it to the very same forces our father thought run our corrupt system. Still, he remained in the ring even while running two private universities in the North.

By the time Peter Obi went after him to run as his running mate, Datti was his own man: focused, visionary and achieving, hardworking and deeply embroiled in the murky waters of Nigerian politics, yet confident that there are ways to reverse the continuing national decline. His contemplation over Obi’s offer split our massive family and its extended component. It is that kind of family, and the issue was monumental. There were many positions which queried the propriety and utility of a partnership between two parts of the country that had a number of unresolved issues.

There were concerns over the prospect of success for a partnership that had highly questionable chances of success, and thus a huge potential to hurt Datti the politician, the family, and the North. There were demands made on Datti to make on Obi regarding his positions on matters related to the South East in Nigeria. There were, to be honest, a lot more on the side ranged between outrage and hostility than those who thought the partnership represented a unique opportunity to walk away from a crippling past towards a redeeming future. In the end, having agreed that he was neither going to be involved in a crime nor a disreputable venture, and after his arguments to be trusted to engage in vital national service, Datti was told to seek God’s guidance in taking a decision and do everything without forgetting his pedigree, his values and the challenges of good leadership.

In the recent election, the Obi/Datti ticket came third with six million votes and some spectacular scalps. They and their supporters believe they did better and are demanding a judicial review, amidst shocking quarrels (even by Nigerian standards). Anyone who thinks the judiciary will not be severely tested does not understand what is at stake. There is certainly a huge amount of anger in the land, and deep retrospection if you are in the sensible ranks of the winning party. This has been an election that is testing every inch of our journey to be a democracy, and the TV appearances of Datti showed him stating their cases with unusual passion. We discussed these, and agreed that a few weeks ago, they were telling Nigerians that they are good enough to be trusted to lead this country strictly on the basis of the rule of law, and leadership is about setting standards.

We agreed that today, they are exercising their constitutional rights to challenge an election which they believe has been rigged against them. He and Obi have made all the right and responsible moves and noises, asking their supporters to await the outcome of the full interrogation of the entire electoral process from a judiciary which, on the basis of enlightened self-interest alone, should not have its integrity and competence trashed.

Both of them have more that a passing familiarity with party spokespersons whose only job is to drag everyone into dungeons of infamy where they themselves are permanently consigned. They are not subversives who want to bring the house down, and they must use their awesome powers to rein in their supporters who may believe that an extra-constitutional adventure may yield the results they need. It is sad indeed that these characters today are digging in, signaling contempt for Nigerians and the principals they claim to speak for.

I was happy that the Datti that went into the fray and did justice to his responsibilities, is the same Datti I was engaging with: patriotic, law-abiding and passionate about the right thing being done. I reminded him that our father warned us to avoid speaking in anger. I reminded him about the biggest challenge he and Obi face: keeping the fire they lit burning, irrespective of the outcome of the litigations. Democracy is not a short walk, and you are not on a journey at all if you abandon it at the first bump on the way.

Pakistan posts highest-ever annual inflation; stampedes for food kill 16

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Consumer price inflation in Pakistan jumped to a record 35.37% in March from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said on Saturday, as at least 16 people were killed in stampedes for food aid.

The March inflation number eclipsed February’s 31.5%, the bureau said, as food, beverage and transport prices surged up to 50% year-on-year.

Thousands of people have gathered at flour distribution centres set up across the country, some as part of a government-backed programme to ease the impact of inflation.

At least 16 people, including five women and three children, have been killed in stampedes at such centres in recent days, police and officials have said. Thousands of bags of flour have also been looted from trucks and distribution points, according to official records.

A spokesman at the statistics bureau said the inflation number was the highest ever year-on-year increase recorded by the bureau since monthly records began in the 1970s.

“This is the highest ever inflation recorded in the data we have,” he said.

The consumer price index was up 3.72% in March from the previous month, the bureau said.

Higher prices of food, cooking oil and electricity pushed up the index, it said.

Annual food inflation in March was at 47.1% and 50.2% for urban and rural areas respectively, the bureau said. Core inflation, which strips out food and energy, stood at 18.6% in urban areas and 23.1% in rural areas.

The South Asian nation has been in economic turmoil for months with an acute balance of payments crisis while talks with the IMF to secure $1.1 billion funding as part of $6.5 billion bailout agreed in 2019 have not yet yielded fruit.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen to cover barely four weeks of imports.

A monthly economic outlook report issued by the finance ministry on Friday projected inflation would remain elevated.

The report cited market frictions caused by relative demand and supply gaps of essential items, exchange rate depreciation, and the recent upward adjustment in fuel prices as reasons behind higher inflation expectations.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Additional Reporting by Ariba Shahid in Karachi; Editing by William Mallard and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

The last two years of Awolowo as Premier of Western Region

The last two years of Awolowo as Premier of Western Region was concentrated on efforts to write his name in the book of Legends.

He incorporated: Western Hotels which invested in:
1) _Premier Hotel,
2) _Lafia hotels in Ibadan
3) _Lagos Airport Hotel respectively.

He set up:
*Western Nigeria Development Corporation to finance mega corporations. This was established in 1958.
It encouraged plantation development with six agricultural plantations covering 20,517 acres in collaboration with Cooperative societies, eleven additional plantations covering 8,468 acres with crops ranging from Cocoa , Rubber, Oil Palm, Citrus, Cashew and Coffee had been put in place all over the region.

WNDC, a clearing house for multitude of companies, established for the rapid industrial development and revolution of the region.
Among them were:
1. _WAPCO at Ewekoro for cement, with enough capacity to serve the whole country.
2. _Nigerite Ltd, producing asbestos and roofing sheets,
3. _National Bank,
4. _Wema Bank,
5. _Nigerian General Insurance,
6. _Great Nigeria Insurance,
7. _Gravil Enthoven and coy,
8. _Vegetables Oil Ltd,
9. _Cocoa Processing Industry Ogba Ikeja,
10. _Odua Textile Mills Ltd,
11. _Wrought Iron Ltd,
12. _Union beverages Ltd, 13. Sungass company,
14. _Wemabod estates, owner of Western House tallest building, then on Broad Street, and other estates,
15. _Western livestocks,
16. _Fisheries services Ltd,
17. _Caxton Press,
18. _Epe Plywood,
19. _Asakar Paints,
20. _Nigeria Crafts and Bags Ltd,
21. _Nipol Plastics in Ibadan,
22. _Phoenix Motors.

Also, he opened up biggest industrial layouts in:
i. Ibadan, Oluyole and
ii. Lagos Oba Akran axis and
iii. *Ilupeju in Mushin axis with over 120 factories* for mass production of different needs & gave birth to:
23. _Nigeria Textile Mills,
24. _West Africa Breweries,
25. _Dunlop Tyres,
26. _Crittal Hope Aluminum,
27. _Tower Aluminium,
28. _Solel Boneh,
29. _Nidogas,
30. _Nigeria Wire and Cables in Ilupeju.

Odua Investments was the largest conglomerates in Nigeria as at 2004 with assets worth over N10 trillion.

Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo paid the Western Nigeria Civil servants, the highest salaries far above Federal government.
So much jobs were created by vast industrialisation drives.
All these were achieved without Oil revenue between1951-1959. He also touched the road construction with bitumen & laid road network covering over 2,000 kilometers throughout the region.

Other achievements of his regime are:
1. _Cocoa House, the tallest building in West Africa for decades,
2. _Liberty Stadium, the most modern in the entire African,
3. _Western Nigeria Television & Broadcasting Service (WNTV/WNBS), the first Radio & Television Stations in Africa,
4. _Many General Hospitals and Dispensaries in rural area.
5. _Free Education at primary school level.
6. _His effort in Cooperative society development gave birth to establishment of Cooperative Bank in 1953 and Cooperative College.

The eight years most of this present Governors spend, was the same with Pa Awolowo, covering what comprises 8 states nowadays, yet he achieved so much. Most of our present day Governors could not mention one world class company, corporate institution or industry set up to create jobs for teaming youths being turned out year in, year out, by our ivory towers.

Today leaders should at least emulate our late sage foot steps instead of all the temporary empowerment programs (Motor cycle, Keke Napep, Pepper grinding machine, Cassava grinding machine, Deep freezer, Fridge, Clipper etc) being used to cajole the electorates at the turn of election every four years.
A time will come in this nation that people aspiring for position must show a well laid out plan before the electorate.
The cash and carry politics will fail as it’s the practise in developed nation.
Let us always look forward to lasting legacies.

*OBAFEMI AWOLOWO was obviously ahead of his peers and till today no living or deceased Nigerian has surpassed his achievements.
You wonder why the southwest Nigeria did well.

In the 1990s, Nigeria Textile Mills, Oba Akran Ikeja alone employed over 4,000 workers before the military mismanagement of economy killed the company with unfriendly company policies

*Can we ever find a leader like this man in Nigeria again?

Obi, Atiku: Shopping for “Guguru” Ati “Epa”, By Kassim Afegbua

Na me win. No be you, na me. You come 3rd. You come 2nd. If the 1st person no dey, na the 2nd person go take him place. Abi you wan become another Uzodinma: Datti Baba-Ahmed was asked on Channels TV if he truly believed the elections were rigged; he answered in the affirmative. Also, he was asked if his 6.1million votes were rigged; and he said, no. I then fell off my seat in a gale of laughter! What a smart Alec.

Mr Datti, your votes were not rigged, but other contestants votes were rigged; in the same election conducted by the same umpire, at the same time across the country. Hypocrisy will not stop amusing my sensibilities. Desperate to make their own votes clean, Datti exposed the dubiety of his mind and the impropriety of his duplicity. His pair scored 6.1m votes in the election; and following his response, his own votes were clean. Another candidate scored 8.7m votes; still following his response, those votes were rigged. How shallow, ridiculous, insensible, and laughable. Double standards and the height of hypocrisy is my take. This is the hallmark of the Obi-datti mentality; if it is not them, every other person is wrong. What a vacuous mentality!!.

The response of Datti Baba-Ahmed, Peter Obi’s second leg, typifies the desperation in their evocation. It is all about self interest, and not collective interest. The same Baba-Ahmed who couldn’t penetrate his North to garner votes, is the one complaining about being rigged out. Like the chichidodo bird, his votes are clean, as he said they were not rigged votes, but was quick to say the election was rigged. Weren’t his 6.1m votes part of the election? How did he separate the 6.1m votes from the rest to arrive at their cleanness while others are soiled with rigging?

Probing further, Datti is crying out that the deserved winner of the election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, should not be sworn-in on the 29th of May for reasons that I’ll say interrogate his mental presence. I guess he prefers an unelected system of an interregnum to replace this electoral outcome. How senseless!. So, because it doesn’t favour your expectation, all hell must be let loose. And this is the orientation of someone who was preparing to be the number 2 citizen with the possibility of becoming number 1, displaying such level of warped reasoning. Making such an incendiary statement at this volatile period of our political trajectory is utterly condemnable and suspicious.

Now, let us advance a simple logic to expose the illogical position of the losers. For the Senate elections, APC dominates. For the House of Reps elections, APC dominates. These two elections were conducted on the same day and time as the presidential election. Having dominated the outcome of these two elections, Datti’s theory of victory, would then mean that APC couldn’t have won the presidential: the APC voters, in Datti’s infamous reasoning, having voted APC for the Senate and House of Reps, decided to ignore the presidential.

How can a political party that won majority votes in both Senate and House of Reps elections, not score majority votes in the presidential election, knowing full well that all three elections were held on the same day and hour. Furthermore, Datti and his leader, Peter Obi, celebrated the outcome of the Senate and Reps election, but are picking holes with the Presidential one. How logical is that? It would have made a remarkable difference if the Labour Party had gotten majority in the Senate and Reps elections, then fell short at the presidential. Then, we all would have been in doubt about the outcome. The APC led in all the three categories of the elections, and yet, you are shouting blue murder. Even in the governorship and House of Assemblies ones, the APC had majority votes. Sorry for your loss, those who lost.

Obi’s political razzmatazz is becoming a fluke, judging by the outcome of the governorship and the House of Assembly election when compared with his previous outing at the presidential election. From 6.1m votes at the presidential election, Obi’s Labour Party fell quite on its back, to less than 700,000 votes throughout the entire country. That is a clear failure; and it goes to confirm the earlier claims that, the Labour Party has no structure.

In the South-East, where it put up a mind-boggling showing, recording huge figures, the following election exposed its rotten underbelly such that only one governor came out of the ashes of its structure-less architecture. Alex Otti’s win in Abia state was even actually based on his own popularity and not on the razzmatazz of Obi’s father-figure.

In Enugu, efforts were made by the Labour Party to railroad the process to produce the governor. A friend of mine, a Labour Party chieftain, called me from Enugu and told me he would expose Obi if Enugu was wrongfully “allocated” to the Labour Party. The threats and intimidation according to him, were out of this world; he acknowledged that it was mortally wrong for a Party that preaches new dynamics to be involved in such untoward conduct all in a bid to deliver Enugu into its fold. So, aside from Lagos, Enugu, and Abia, other states recorded abysmal outcomes for the Labour Party; with all their votes put together across the country falling at a little below 700k.

It then means that barely three weeks after Obi’s so-called showing, of 6.1m votes, he and his party, plummeted to such an odious rejection. Obi’s 6.1million votes could only produce one governor out of the 28 governorship seats that were vied for. The correlation defeats the very popularity upon which plank Obi hinged his presidential project. Or else what happened? His Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba-Ahmed could not pull together any serious force in his native Kaduna state. Those who had latched unto Obi’s so-called popularity could not believe their eyes when the other results were being released.

And curiously also, complaints of INEC being “unfit” to conduct “credible elections” suddenly evaporated. All the razzmatazz about Obi’s popularity was a mere fluke, what we call “Obubuyaya” in local edo parlance; sheer malapropism, to describe an unreal situation. I am sure it has dawned on Obi that he cannot sustain the concentric force that aided his push for presidency. Dropping to such an abysmal height within three weeks, is like pulling the wool off the people’s faces and forcing them out of reverie . When one reconciles all these realities and juxtaposes them with Obi’s strong claim to the presidency, they don’t add up. They are like two straight and parallel lines that can never meet.

Finally on this issue, Peter Obi and Atiku Abubakar should stop behaving like bad losers, raising all manner of issues to pollute public discourse and gather cheap sentiments. A winner has emerged, and deservedly so, and his party, the APC has shown cause to be so recognised. It has the highest number of Senators, the highest number of House of Representatives and the highest number of House of Assembly members, and of course, the President and his Vice.

The Labour Party failed to show its grit and gravitas after the presidential election and only managed to secure a governorship seat. The PDP also, followed its earlier pattern for governors and lawmakers. Nothing fundamentally changed. It is time to move on. It is time to sheathe the sword of election and chart a roadmap for a new beginning.

The Tinubu presidency, more of a Pan-Nigeria presidency, will be more embracing and accommodating than Obi’s ethnic and pro-christian presidency or Atiku’s pro-North presidency. Tinubu’s presidency will be more unifying, and more engaging than the others. Given the present fragility across the land, people must bury their individual interest, and promote a sense of collectivism to deepen our national narratives.

May 29 will surely be a new dawn and we must look forward to it without distraction. Obi and Atiku are becoming more like irritants and pests, and soon enough, they would become boring actors in the political chess board. Welcome on board, President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Laughter is in the morning ensconced. Give Peter Obi some “guguru”,(pop corn) give Atiku Abubakar some Epa, (groundnut), you would have gotten a perfect combination.

Labour Party dismisses national chairman’s suspension

By Friday Olokor

The Labour Party on Friday dismissed the purported suspension of its national chairman, Julius Abure, by its Ward Executive in Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State, saying the masterminds were being sponsored by opposition parties.

The LP said no reasonable party member would be thinking of suspension when they are pursuing their presidential mandate in the Election Petition Tribunal and all other mandates including the Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives that were brazenly stolen.

The National Secretary of LP, Farouk Umar, in a statement, also blamed the purported suspension of Abure as the handiwork of opposition parties plotting to distract the party.

According to him, the party’s constitution was clear on who can suspend and who cannot suspend the national chairman.

Umar directed that “they should go and read the party’s constitution.”

Some members who claimed to be ward executives of the party had slammed suspension on Abure over alleged forgery and anti-party activities.

The Ward Chairman, Martins Osigbemhe, at a press conference, explained that Abure was suspended by the executive, pending the determination of the numerous petitions and cases against him in courts.

Martins while reading the statement of Abure’s suspension signed by seven out of 11 member ward executives, accused him of illegally substituting candidates of the party in the recently concluded general elections.

But Umar in a statement clarified that it is only the national convention that can suspend the national chairman of the party, adding that it must also be through such a convention called for the suspension of the national chairman.

He said, “The attention of the leadership of the Labour Party was called to the press conference held today Friday, March 31, 2023, by some unknown faces assembled in one room in Abuja wherein they pronounced a suspension on our national chairman, Julius Abure. They also made some spurious allegations against him which are untrue and concocted by the sponsors of the press conference. We however deemed it fit to make some responses.

“The young men we saw on that visuals are not anybody from Labour Party in Edo State as claimed. The executives of the party in the State, Local Government and my ward are well known to the party. None of them was at the press conference. We make bold to say that they are people assembled and rented from some Abuja slums and paid to read a prepared speech given to them.

“Again, our party’s constitution is clear on who can suspend and who cannot suspend the National chairman. They should go and read the party’s constitution. It is only the national convention that can suspend the national chairman of the Labour Party. It also must be through such a convention called for the suspension of the national chairman.

“We think that the sudden suspension was an afterthought of some opposition parties purely to distract the leadership of the Labour Party at this time. There is no reasonable party member at this point who will be thinking of such a thing when we are pursuing our presidential mandate in the court and all other mandates including the Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives that were brazenly stolen.

“Who will be contemplating the suspension of any national party official at this point? It is on record that for the first time in the history of the party, the Abure-led leadership has succeeded to change the political narratives in the country. A party from the blues competing with the top two political parties and in the process, won eight Senate and 34 House of Representatives as well as numerous House of Assembly seats. We also won a governorship seat while we are in court to retrieve other mandates including the presidency.

“This is certainly not a matter that should be given serious attention by the media. We ordinarily should be talking to our lawyers by now but the fact that you are dealing with faceless individuals who are been sponsored is.

“We are also calling on Nigerians to distance themselves from politicians who take pleasure in maligning political leaders, especially, politicians who are afraid of the rising profile of our national chairman, Julius Abure.”

Portable’s many brushes with the law

BY Abiodun Sanusi

Controversial singer, Habib Okikiola, popularly known as Portable, in recent time, has repeatedly come under the radar of law enforcement officers, and twice fallen into the grip of the Nigeria Police Force, over his reported erratic behaviour, unguarded utterances, and alleged assault on his colleagues and business associates, The PUNCH reports.

The latest was his self-confessed assault on a young music producer, simply known as Manny Monie, which led to his arrest on Friday by operatives of the Ogun State Police Command.

Assault, battery, disregard for police

The singer was on Friday arrested in Ogun State following the expiration of a 72-hour ultimatum given to him to turn himself in for refusing to honour an invitation over an alleged assault on a young music producer, Manny Monie, who had earlier written a petition to the police.

He is expected to remain in police custody until Monday when he will likely be charged to court for assault, among other alleged offences.

Earlier on Tuesday, two videos had surfaced on the Internet, showing the musician raining curses on and harassing some police officers at his Odogu bar located in the Sango Ota area of the state.

Although in both videos Portable alleged that the young producer was an alleged Internet fraudster who had brought the police to his bar to arrest him and his staff members “for no reason”.

However, the Ogun State police spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, in a statement obtained by our correspondent, explained that the security agents moved to arrest Portable after five invites were sent to him and another through his father, but he never honoured any of the summons.

Assault on DJ in June 2022

In June 2022, Portable had also had to report himself at the Ogun State Police Command headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta, following an order by the former Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole, for a case of an alleged assault of a young disc jockey popularly known as DJ Chicken.

The PUNCH had earlier reported how the Ogun State Police Command had on June 20, 2022, threatened to declare the singer wanted if he failed to report himself to the police for organising some youths to beat up his estranged friend, DJ Chicken.

However, Oyeyemi later disclosed that the Zazu crooner, aided by his father and manager, reported at the command headquarters on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

Oyeyemi further noted that Portable “was interrogated about his role in the assault meted out to the boy in the video,” and was later released to a reliable surety because the offence committed is bailable; adding that the strike action in the state at the time affected the courts.

“The police wish to inform the general public that the hip-hop artiste Habib Okikiola a.k.a Portable who was requested to report himself at the nearest police station over a viral video where he was seen ordering a group of boys to beat up one boy simply identified as D.J Chicken has reported at the command’s headquarters Eleweran on Wednesday, June 29, 2022,” a statement by the command’s PPRO, Oyeyemi, read.

IGP demanded investigation into cult groups’ creation claim

A month later in July 2022, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, ordered an investigation into comments made by Portable that he founded some notorious gangs and cult groups.

Portable had, in a viral video, boasted to have formed notorious cult groups known as One Million Boys and Ajah Boys, groups that had caused unrest in parts of Lagos and Ogun states, whose sponsors and leaders had been unknown.

In the eight-second video, Portable claimed that he founded the groups.

“Listen to me well, have you heard about Ajah Boys and One Million Boys? I am their founder. Go and ask Sammy Larry,” the controversial singer had said.

Following his unguarded utterance, the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement, said the IGP had ordered the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to investigate his claim.

The statement read, “Sequel to the trending video of one Habeeb Okikiola aka Portable where he claimed to have formed the One-Million Boys cult group terrorising some parts of Lagos State, the IGP has ordered CP Lagos to investigate the indicting statement and take necessary legal action.

“This directive is premised on the continuous efforts of the Nigeria Police Force to fish out pillars and sponsors of cult groups in order to decimate their activities and restore sanity to our society.”

Months after the order by the IG for the former Lagos CP, Hakeem Odumosu, to investigate the claim, nothing was heard again about the outcome of the probe.
Threat to Headies Awards organisers and co-nominees

Also, in July 2022, Smooth Productions, the organisers of Nigeria’s popular music awards, The Headies, wrote a petition to the police formally notifying them of Portable’s threat to other nominees of the award.

The singer had taken to his Instagram page where he allegedly made death threats to other artistes featured in the categories he was nominated in.

According to the nomination list released by the Headies, the artiste was contending for the Best Street-Hop Artiste and Rookie of the Year awards.

However, speaking in Yoruba after the awards list was made public, Portable said, “Those are my awards, anybody else who wins I will ask for them to be killed. I will ask them to kill the person. If the organisers give my award to someone else, they will die.”

“No go give my award to another person, he go die o,” he added, speaking in pidgin English.

However, the organisers later disqualified Portable and warned the singer to retract his statement and make a written apology to his colleagues, which he later did in an online video seen by our correspondent. (Punch)

What does Trump’s indictment mean for his political future – and the strength of US democracy?

by Emma Shortis, RMIT University

Events often seem inevitable in hindsight. The indictment of former US President Donald Trump on criminal charges has been a possibility since the start of his presidency – arguably, since close to the beginning of his career in New York real estate.

But until now, the potential consequences of such a cataclysmic development in American politics have been purely theoretical.

Today, after much build-up in the media, The New York Times reported that a Manhattan grand jury has voted to indict Trump and the Manhattan district attorney will now likely attempt to negotiate Trump’s surrender.

The indictment stems from a criminal investigation by the district attorney’s office into “hush money” payments made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels (through Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen), and whether they contravened electoral laws.

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Trump also faces a swathe of other criminal investigations and civil suits, some of which may also result in state or federal charges. As he pursues another run for the presidency, Trump could simultaneously be dealing with multiple criminal cases and all the court appearances and frenzied media attention that will come with that.

These investigations and possible charges won’t prevent Trump from running, or even serving as president again (though, as with everything in the US legal system, it’s complicated).

But what will the political fallout be – will his indictment hurt Trump, or help him? And what does it mean for American democracy?

Can Trump survive multiple investigations at once?
There are almost too many hypotheticals and “what ifs” to count. Even the immediate fallout of Trump’s indictment isn’t clear.

It is certainly plausible Trump will manage to derive political benefit from the media spectacle – he has a long history of successfully weaponising investigations into his dealings as “witch hunts”, effectively tapping into conservatives’ obsession with “government overreach”.

It’s equally possible multiple investigations and charges will eventually hurt Trump, forcing him off the campaign trail and into situations out of his control, where he doesn’t perform so well. This could go as badly for him as the few hostile media interviews he did as president and open the door for a successful challenge by another aspiring candidate.

Democrats and others opposed to Trump and the movement he heads are also divided on the fallout and risks.

Some legal experts and political pundits have expressed concern about the particular case that led to Trump’s indictment.

The Daniels case is murky and focused on technical election laws, raising questions about whether it would have been less risky to prioritise a more straightforward case, such as the Georgia investigation into Trump’s attempt to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Indictments may soon be forthcoming in that case, too.

Whatever happens with these investigations and Trump’s reactions to them, it’s already clear his supporters will whip themselves into a frenzy of misinformation, hysteria and perhaps even violence, further destabilising the political landscape.

Are presidents above the law?
There’s a much bigger question to ask, though: where does all of this fit into the deep, ongoing crisis surrounding American democracy and its institutions?

Since the 2016 election, the questions of whether a candidate should be subject to criminal investigations and whether a sitting president can be charged with an offence have plagued US politics.

When then-FBI director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on the eve of the 2016 election about the private email server presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state, it led to a great deal of soul-searching about the impact of perceptions – valid or otherwise – of politically motivated “interference” in the electoral process.

The longstanding reluctance of federal agencies to engage in such “interference”, alongside the established consensus that a president should not be charged while in office, survived until almost the very end of the Trump administration.

The so-called “Russia investigation”, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, declined to recommend specific charges against Trump, despite there being ample evidence he had allegedly obstructed justice. The basis for this decision: Mueller said Justice Department policy prevented him from charging a sitting president with a crime.

But between the release of Mueller’s report and Trump’s incitement of an insurrection of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, attitudes to charging a president or former president appear to have changed dramatically. Trump’s indictment this week makes that abundantly clear.

The shared understanding that has, until now, protected Trump (and predecessors like Richard Nixon), has been turned on its head. Now, there’s a belief among many Democrats and a few anti-Trump Republicans that not pursuing these investigations to their logical ends – that is, an arrest, trial and potential imprisonment – presents a much greater threat to the integrity of American democracy and democratic institutions than the risk of appearing to “interfere”.

This logic argues that, particularly when American democracy is in crisis, even presidents and former presidents cannot be seen to be above the law.

If this perception was widespread, how many Americans would completely lose faith in a political system they already don’t trust entirely? Even more importantly, how would the perpetrators of crimes – and their supporters – respond if they believed they could break the law without consequences?

If, as many experts have argued, January 6 was a test run, what are the consequences of no consequences?

We can be fairly certain of the answer to that question. Trump’s reaction to his pending indictment two weeks ago was eerily reminiscent of his incitement of the riot on the Capitol: “Protest, take our nation back!”

The potential for further violence – which is a feature, not a bug, of American politics – is very real.

While the logic behind the criminal pursuit of the ex-president is entirely sound – and necessary to the ongoing integrity of American democratic institutions – that does not necessarily mean the survival of those institutions is assured as they are forced to respond to ongoing attacks.

Trump’s indictment, and the frenzy it has already created, demonstrate just what a dangerous and unstable time this is for American democracy. The road is probably about to get even rockier.

In a 1977 interview, Nixon said in response to a question about why he had authorised illegal actions against anti-Vietnam war protesters,

Well, when the president does it […] that means that it is not illegal.

Almost half a century later, we’re as close as we’ve ever been to finding out if he was right – and if American democracy can survive the answer.

Republished from the Conversation under Creative Common Licence