I have a particularly different view on all the recovered loot. You see, this administration came to power on two platforms – fight against corruption and the repair of our ‘damaged economy’. So far, the economy is worse off but the fight against corruption seems to be getting very positive results especially with the recent announcement of the discovery of over $9.8m and another £750,000 from a safe in my very good friend’s house. You see, this was his retirement stash. Well, my talk for today is not about Andrew, ‘I go yab am another day.’ My talk today is on the disillusionment of Nigerians in the face of growing economic assault which is pushing millions into poverty almost on a daily basis. As the government continues to gloat about its efficiency in its fight against corruption, the people continue to show a remarkable nonchalance towards it. Why should we be happy when we no longer have jobs, our children can no longer go to school, and our families are being destroyed simply because we can no longer feed? Of what use is all these recoveries when they would not impact directly on the lives of the average Nigerian. You see, if the government continues like this, come 2019, they will have only the war against corruption as their only achievement as they ask Nigerians for another mandate. And do you think they will get it with the economy flat on its back? I think not. So what is the urgent solution that I want to suggest? My humble suggestion is that all the recovered loot should be used to build free health care facilities or tuition-free schools in all the six geo-political zones and label the schools after the convicted looter.
Like in this case, once a competent court of law finds Mr. Yakubu guilty, we immediately start building free primary health care facility with the funds and call it, ‘Andrew Yakubu primary health care facility’ and with a small plaque by the side, we write, ‘this facility was funded from proceeds reluctantly donated by Mr. Andrew Yakubu, a former GMD of NNPC’. This would immortalise the looter, increase whistle-blowing and provide direct benefits to the people who will now be very happy with the government. Finally, it will curb corruption since nobody will want to be immortalised in that manner. This for me is the ultimate solution and I think the government should take this advice very seriously.
Mr. James Ibori: What Can I Say?
I have refused to say anything on this matter simply because I could not be bothered. But I have this reader who is a lawyer based in Warri, Delta State, who keeps updating me via text messages and phone calls on the happenings in the state since Chief Ibori came back from his forced exile. Last night, he called me with an unknown number. I was initially afraid to pick it, thinking maybe it was my madam calling to ask for her valentine gift. So I gave the phone to my colleague, Victor, who gleefully announced to me that someone from Delta State House of Assembly was on the phone. Thinking that my own largesse had come, I quickly collected the phone and lo, it was my lawyer friend from Warri who was calling to brief me once again on how the whole of Delta has been shut down because of Ibori. He has in his own little way been fighting against the almost,’shameful way and manner’ Delta politicians have been falling all over themselves in adulation and worship of a man who ‘stole them dry’. He would scream over the phone, ‘Edgar, it is $77milion this man took from us and see the way they are still worshiping him.’ Well, my brother, I really do not know how this whole thing concerns me. You see, I had once met Ibori at a wedding in Lagos and fell in love with him, this was just before his arrest. We shook hands and talked about prison reforms and corruption in high places. He came across as a very intelligent person who truly had not only the interest of Delta but the whole of Nigeria at heart. There must be a reason why this entire very intelligent and highly placed people are falling all over themselves to ‘worship’ him’. So my friend, the Warri lawyer stop complaining and join the band wagon, I will send you my ‘Ibori for President, 2019’ T-shirts for onward sale throughout Delta. Please do not loot the proceeds from the sale of these T-shirts as I need the funds for my house rent. Who cares. Don’t we deserve the leaders we get?
Mudi: A Cultural Icon
I drove past his showroom recently and had to stop immediately to inspect it. He had just finished work on a mosaic painting emblazoned on a large space on the walls of the showroom. This work was that of a pretty damsel exquisitely etched on the surface of the building. This part of his studio used to have the portrait of the late Super Eagles Captain, Stephen Keshi, in his own tribute to the wonderful patriot. But today it celebrates the svelte beauty of the African damsel. After admiring the smooth curves of the princess, I ventured into the studio. I still remain enthralled each time I enter the place, it is a marvel to behold. From the marble floors to the well-placed furniture pieces and his green baby grand piano all throwing a soothing effect on the persona. Mudi is fast becoming a cultural icon with his studio now being a mecca for personalities who understand the uniqueness of his craft. Today many international personalities flock the place to not only get some of his pieces but to also view the place. The studio was opened by the then Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Tunde Fashola and since then, it has hosted such diverse personalities like the Minister of information, Lai Mohammed, iconic footballer, Yahaya Toure and the King of Morocco, amongst others. It is no wonder that Mudi’s studio has been named amongst the cultural sites that would be part of the Isale Eko UK Media tour.
Akintunde Ambode vs Babatunde Fashola : Parliament Falls Apart
I have consistently refrained from joining this debate, simply because I hold these two as my dear friends. Ambode, because I had once had breakfast in his house when he was still living in Ikoyi and Fashola simply because he was an upstairs neighbour to my friend, Big J in Surulere in those days. When we visited Big J we would see Fashola who was then a private citizen and who had just been named the Chief of Staff to the then Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, on his balcony reading newspapers with chewing stick. We would greet him and he would wave at us with a wide smile. So when at the Parliament, the issue of Ambode versus Fashola, who was a better performer came up, I would dodge not wanting to take sides so that I don’t offend my friends. It was always Friday, the pot-bellied ex-politician from kogi who used to bring up the matter in his bid to cause confusion and in the midst of the cacophony, run away without paying. The issue is very touchy and would elicit a raucous debate from all in attendance. Emeka was indifferent since he was still paying the same amount of levies on the parliament to both administrations and Igwe would rather enjoy the coldness of his beer while thinking of how to pay rather than engage in a debate that would not assist in solving his immediate problem of reducing his bills. But this time, when Friday brought forward the matter, I immediately jumped into it. I felt that I had to say something at this juncture. Fashola did well, In fact, he did too well, but from my immediate observation, I am seeing Ambode looking like eclipsing Fashola’s wonderful achievements in Lagos. This is my honest observation. The eagerness to complete development projects in the state has reached fever pitch. The brilliant construction works on the Lekki Epe express road, which have brought sanity to that road and also look like bringing me back to my dear Afusat who lives in that axis. The government’s contribution to sports and entertainment, it’s recent doling out of cheques to the first recipients of its Trust Fund which gives out soft loans to deserving beneficiaries irrespective of state of origin and the many reforms carried out across all aspects of governance continue to impress any keen observer. I recently sat with Professor Abass, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Duties and by the time I finished with him I had a clearer idea of where this administration is going in terms of infrastructure development and overseas investments. I was also in talks with another high-level official, Honourable Wale Oluwo, Commissioner for Energy, who further elucidated governments plans, leaving me with a sense of pride. By the time I had finished talking, the parliament was quiet and I ended the conversation by promising to bring Ambode to the parliament to come and sell himself to them. They looked at me in astonishment as I brought out my phone to call a number of His Excellency I had when he was Treasurer at the Shomolu Local Government, I could see fear and huge respect on the faces of the parliament members. As I dialled the number and put it on speaker, the female voice came up and said, ‘the airtel number you are calling is switched off’. Kai, Ambode disgraced me. But not to worry, I sent him a text, asking him to confirm if he would be able to visit us at the parliament. You know text will deliver and the parliament people will not know if His Excellency got the message or not. Anyway, Chief Ambode carry go, we are all behind you.
Isale Eko – UK Producer Berths
This wonderful play coming up in April and produced by my humble self and Olisa Adibua in conjunction with Nsebong Ekong, is gathering momentum. We had our first cast meeting last Sunday with the enigmatic Yemi Shodimu and Patrick Doyle in attendance. The highlight of the meeting however, was the visit by the producer of the UK version, the very beautiful Mrs. Tola Ogunbola. She had flown in to watch the commencement of rehearsals and to meet with the cast who would also be taking part in the UK version. Isale Eko is a wonderful phenomenon that has been carefully designed to celebrate Lagos at 50. With songs and dance and a rich storyline, it will celebrate Lagos in a way that would make all thoroughbred Lagosians and indeed Nigerians swell with pride. Already some corporate organisations have started showing tremendous support by purchasing bulk tickets well in advance and Interest is growing by the day as the April date gets close. I will be on Yemi Shodimu’s Lagos State Television programme, ‘Gbarada’ come Sunday with the pretty Mrs. Ogunbola to plug the play and seek further support from corporate sponsors and lovers of Lagos.