Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Segun James
One of Nigeriaâ€™s foremost preachers and former running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari, Pastor Tunde Bakare, has challenged all stakeholders in the Nigerian project, especially the media and the intelligentsia, to play a pivotal role in setting the agenda for the polity in 2019.
Bakare who is the Serving Overseer of The Latter Rain Assembly and Convener, Save Nigeria Group, made this plea at the launch of three books, â€˜PENdulum 1 & 2â€™, written by Chief Dele Momodu, publisher of Ovation magazine and a columnist with THISDAY Newspaper, and â€˜Fighting Lionsâ€™, which chronicles Momoduâ€™s aspiration as a candidate in the 2011 presidential election written by his Campaign Manager, Ohimai Godwin Amaize.
He commended the Nigerian press for deploying their skills against tyranny, while counseling the people to resist the temptation to resort to violence in the face of frustration.
â€œThe people of our nation who want their fair share, and to young people running out of patience, the lesson from Dele Momodu is very clear and simple: spill the ink, not the blood; paint an indelible picture of the nation you desire, and work tirelessly to ensure its realisation, knowing that the greatness of our nation depends on it,â€ he said.
Expressing optimism in the future of the country, Bakare said though the country is in the throes of violent agitations, Nigeria must rise from the ashes of failure to greatness for the sake of the coming generations.
â€˜He said the books, which were in honour of Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, were a testimony to the saying that â€˜the pen is mightier than the swordâ€™, adding that the phrase was at the heart of this notion that the course of a nation or people can be determined at the stroke of a pen.
â€œNations can be built, and nations can be ruined; generations can be made great, and generations can be rendered wasted; civilisations can be birthed, and civilisations can be buried â€“ at the stroke of a pen!
â€œWe have seen frameworks become supreme law and proposals become policies that make or break nations; we have seen elections validated or annulled; we have seen presidents sworn in, some by convention, others by the doctrine of necessity â€“ all at the stroke of a pen. Families are consolidated or dissolved, enterprises are incorporated or liquidated, convictions are obtained or upturned, and life and death could hang on a simple but weighty sentence, held in the balance by a pen waiting to be wielded, particularly when the ink that runs through the pen is propelled by the force of the state.
â€œThe likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, armed with no other weapon, mobilised the Queenâ€™s language in the struggle for independence from the Queen. They fought their battles through such media as West African Pilot, Accra Evening News and The Tribune. Decades after independence, when free, fair and credible elections were annulled, and a tyrannical dictatorship held sway, the Nigerian press took up the baton and contended against the sword of oppression by deploying the armoury of vocabulary. I am so glad that the labours of these pen warriors and all others who fought for the democracy we enjoy today have not been in vain, after all.â€
Lamenting the monumental destruction brought on Nigeria by the annulment of the June 12 presidential election, Momodu regretted that Nigeria died the day June 12 election was annulled, saying it was the day Nigerians really came out as one to vote for the person of their choice.
He said the kind of leaders the nation need at this critical time are those that have made success of their lives, insisting that â€œyou cannot give what you donâ€™t have.â€
Recalling his encounters with Abiola, multi-billion businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, said the late politician was an inspiration to him since he met him as a young secondary school student and classmate of his son, Kola.
The three books were reviewed separately by Mr. Segun Adeniyi, Mr. Simon Kolawole and Ms. Ijeoma Nwogwugwu.
Reviewing of PENdulum 1, Adeniyi disclosed that one of the greatest strength of Momodu was his consistency and loyalty. He said most of the things Momodu wrote over 30years ago were still relevant today.
Taking a look at PENdulum 2, Kolawole insisted that there are two sides to Momodu- the socialist and the socialite. To him, Momodu has been able to carry himself creditably in applying both personalities.
He described him as a consummate writer whose writings are fluid and have never departed from the ideas and ideals that he had set out to achieve.
Nwogwugwu who reviewed the third book, traced the writing life of Momodu from the days when he stated writing in 1988 as a student at the University of Ife.
The event witnessed the presence of notable names in the media and politics, including the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Lagos state, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, the Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Eniola Bello, Akin Osuntokun, Dr. Doyin Abiola and the Abiola family, led by his first daughter, Mrs. Lola Edewor, National Conscience Party presidential aspirant, Tanko Yinusa, Mrs. Esther Ajayi, Chief Rasak Okoya, Mr. Dare Babarinsa, Chief Tunji Alapinni, Mr. Richard Mofe Damijo, former director general of the Department of State Security (DSS), Col. Kayode Are (rtd) and Hajia Bola Shagaya.