As lovers of poetry get set for the World Poetry Day on March 21, acclaimed performance poet, Akeem Lasisi, has concluded the plan to release a new poetry video titled Mo n Bo (Give me an Ample Stage).Lasisi says the video shot at the National Theatre, Lagos, is a romance, in the tradition of his popular work, ‘Eleleture’. Directed by Sanjo, the video subtitled ‘Give me an Ample Stage’ features Edaoto and members of the Akeem Lasisi abd the Songbirds, his performance troupe he recently reassembled. Emerging actress, Ada Ugbor, also stars in the video.
Lasisi notes in a statement that he decided to release the video on the World Poetry Day to spice the global feast with something different.
Besides, the poet, who also recently unveiled an online newspaper, phenomenal.com.ng, says he believes there is the need to introduce something light and inspiring amid the tragic occurrences that Nigeria has been witnessing in recent times.
The Ibadan, Oyo State-born poet says, “On the one hand, you find out that there will be readings and conversations on poetry on Thursday. So, I feel that, as I usually try to do, I should bring something with a full complement of music, dance, drama and all to arena. I always want people to enjoy poetry – as much as they do films, music and drama. The same spirit is behind ‘Mo n Bo’, which is a track of my third album, UDEME: Constituency Project.
“It has also been a difficult time for Nigeria, not only on the political scene where the king is usually dancing naked, but also in terms of the tragedy that has been consuming parts of our humanity. Instructively, Pius Adesanmi’s death has pierced into the hearts of many of us like a hell-hot needle. The rate at which we have had to keep mourning him is unprecedented. As a matter of fact, I initially contemplated postponing the unveiling of ‘Mo n Bo’, querying myself if there is cause to laugh in the midst of tears.
“In Lagos, we lost 20 people to the building collapse at Ita-Faji, including pupils. While another house has also collapsed in Ibadan, recording injuries, insurgents and other strange elements have also stepped up killings especially in some northern part of the country. So, one could not but question the desire to celebrate love in the river of hatred we seem to have found ourselves. But it is also not too difficult to convince oneself that we must stand on our feet. We should not concede defeat. We must prove that we shall survive the tragic tendencies and that we are capable of rising above our fears.”
Apart from having published award-winning collections of poems that include ‘IREMOJE: Ritual Poetry for Ken Saro-Wiwa’ and ‘Night of my Flight’, Lasisi has produced six albums of musical poetry and several singles. He has also produced about 30 videos, some of which enjoy good share on national and international air space, while many of the videos are yet to be released.
According to him, the performance group – Akeem Lasisi and the Songbirds – boasts fine singers and dancers who complement and inspire him to offer the audience a total poetic experience.In the group are Tairu Ajibode, Bidemi Akiremi, Yewande Odumosu, Foluke Olorunlana, .Popoola Osisanya, and Samuel Oladipupo Essodee.
The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC have said that Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and his Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the February 23 presidential elections must have slipped into post-election depression, hallucination over their 1.6million votes claim.
In a statement on Wednesday by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the party claim was one of the PDP’s antics to discredit the credible presidential electoral process, acknowledged by local and international observers.
The full statement:
“Following the outcome of the Presidential Election, during which a vast majority of Nigerians reaffirmed their unshaken belief in President Muhammadu Buhari to continue to steer the affairs of the country for another four years, we have watched in disbelief and utter amusement how the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have engaged in series of circus shows to cheer up their crestfallen and disillusioned members.
“While the APC is not oblivious of the PDP’s antics to discredit the credible presidential electoral process, acknowledged by local and international observers, we sympathise with Atiku for the crushing defeat handed him by President Buhari through the votes of Nigerians.
“Judging by Atiku and PDP’s recent utterances and actions, it is now clear that they have slipped into severe depression and post-defeat hallucination that have left many Nigerians questioning their current state of mind.
“After weeks of dilly-dallying, the PDP has woken up to the stark reality of its electoral defeat and decided to follow the constitutional path of filing a petition at the Election Tribunal. However, of all the prayers of Atiku before the Election Tribunal, which are at best hollow, the most ridiculous is his claim that the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicated he ‘won’ the Presidential Election by 1.6million votes.
“A few questions would suffice: Is this phantom figure of 1.6million votes Dubai-invented? Was the result sold to Atiku by his numerous marabouts, who we understand, had assured him that the last election was a done deal for him?
“Most importantly, we note Atiku’s consistent reference to the “INEC server” as if he is the custodian of that platform. Indeed, Atiku’s constant reference to the INEC server should raise concerns as it is becoming apparent that he and the PDP are up for some dastard activities that are targeted at jeopardizing the INEC database and internal storage system. We recall the widespread reported cases of several programmed card readers that were retrieved from some PDP agents and their failed attempt to hack the INEC database in the leadup to the then postponed presidential election.
“We remind the Atiku and PDP that Nigerians saw through the devious schemes aimed at thwarting their will. Consequently, majority of the voters handed them a harsh verdict — that verdict remains sacrosanct.
“We call on the INEC and the security agencies to be on red alert to ensure that Atiku and the other desperate characters in the PDP are not able to execute their evil plans.
The backpage of your The Nation of Tuesday 12 March where one of your Rottweilers under the FORGED name “Segun Ibirogba” wrote “Odumakin’s anxiety over vanishing feeding-bottles” has un-paused the button on this serial.
I have always wondered why these intellectual almajiris around you always attack me under fake names.It is either they are afraid of me or they don’t believe in you to risk their names doing the dirty job for you .Well,we know many of them hold worst views about you than us but for the free money they have been accustomed to from a Robbin Hood.
The piece referenced was a rehash of same old silly lies and freshly minted ones.In keeping faith with my resolve that for every dart of lie you guys throw in my direction ,I will return 10 bombs of truth I make this response.And for every line I write,I can say like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti “Na true I wan talk again o,if I dey lie o,make Edumare punish me o”.
Since you guys made a failed attempt to impugn my integrity ,I have chosen to use this edition to place your life side-by-side mine on the scale of integrity so we can know if your hen can point at the boil in a hawk’s eye.I intend to show that were it not that Nigeria has become Ceaser’s palace where the leper holds the veil,nobody in your circle should move near that subject.
I am Yinka Odumakin and nobody can say he had known me under any identity in my life .I have led a straight life unlike you that people know under different identities depending on where they met you in your about 80 years on earth .Yes,80!
Those of us who are knowledgeable about you cant buy your 66 claim for so many reasons .The current governor of Osun is the son of your immediate senior sister from Iragbiji and he is 63 while you are claiming 66. Your first wife died in Lagos recently unannounced at 74 .
When the son he had for you died many moths earlier his age had to be doctored to fit into the lie that you live. And there is a photograph of yours at the palace of Soun Ogbomoso in 1974 when the current monarch was installed with a bottle of beer and packet of cigarette in your front. You mean you were 20 when you were drinking and smoking in a palace ?
There is no school I have attended in my life that my classmates would not come out in droves to say “yeah, we were there together!”. From St Augustine Primary School, Ondo to CAC Grammar School, Edunabon and Oduduwa College Ile -Ife down to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile -Ife and University of Ghana.
At your end St John Primary School Aroloya you claimed may be created by your new governor in Lagos. The old boys of Government College Ibadan were planning a reception for you when someone asked which set you belonged to .There has been no answer to that till date and the reception was cancelled. The tales by moonlight on Chigago State University and University of Chiicago are all over the place.
My parents are alive in Osun and by God’s grace I will give them a befitting burial. I will not have to send emissaries to bury them since I have not abandoned “moomi” (that’s how we Oyo people in Osun call mummy) to be calling another woman “maami” in Lagos to fit a life of lie and greed. No Mama HID Awolowo would have told me that she knew all the children of “maami ” and that I was not one of them.
My parents are not rich but I am proud of them because it is from their black pot that my white palp has come out. I say proudly among my University mates today that they could not afford more than N60 per month for me throughout my University days .The story of grass to grace is a proud thing among the Yoruba. MKO Abiola was proud of the story that he ate egg for the first time in his life in the home of Simbiat Abiola’s parents.
With the modest means of my parents, they instilled so much values in me that there is no crime attached to my name in all my years on earth. Forging traveling passports had never appealed to me. Neither has my name been linked to a narcotic ring leading to inquiry and forfeiture of assets. All my life, my hands have provided for me. And they have provided for you too.
I recall when you returned from exile in 1998 and running for governor. You were not “Ezeego” then. You had only the Sunday Adigun house and all the four cars you used then belonged to Mr Ganiyu Solomon. There were a lot of printings being done for you by your friends at The News. I saw the price you were being offered and I told you my press could do it at 40%. I delivered and saved you 60%. I recall Mr Babafemi Ojodu complained openly that they could not do the price I offered you !
That should tell you and your attack dogs that I have always separated the cause I believe in from what I would eat unlike you who always mix the two. You pose as a June 12 hero today but Kola Abiola is alive to tell the story of what happened to MKO’s money as Bashorun is no longer alive. In 20 years, there is hardly any boundary between Lagos treasury and your private pockets. Your “O to ge” moment is coming some day and all the dirty deals will be out.
Like a rapist, you can tell your victims to shout “O to pe” for as long as stolen funds and drug money rule Lagos politics.
I have noticed that because you and your followers have no abiding principle and you are driven by only lust for money, you assume it is so for everybody. Your being glued to the lowest of all spirits (money) makes it difficult for you to make the right judgement about people thinking they are all about money. Was it that you didn’t have money when I told you in December 2006 that it was over between us politically? Have I ever looked in your direction ever? There are men who may not be able to give N10,000 to a cause but if they say they want to see me at 8AM I would be there at 7. Can you summon me with all your bullion vans?
I recall how you said to me in 2006 about Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi and I quote you “Adiye ni Tokunbo, yin agbado fun a pada” (Tokunbo is a fowl, throw corns and it is U-turn). Has he not turned his back at you today? You don’t have “corns ” again? This was the man who was your fall guy when you made all the forgeries in 1999. He was among the team that went to bury your biological mother in Iragbiji when you could not show your face, has his exit not shown you there are men who place value on principle than money?
I have lived my political life on the basis of the fact that an adversary today can be an ally tomorrow and vice versa. I am not beholden to any person outside the core beliefs we share. One of the men I had an open disagreement with was President Obasanjo and when we reconciled it was an open thing. That differentiates me from you who walk both sides of the streets simultaneously. You were with NADECO and also in bed with Abacha through whom you forged friendship with the Chagourys who are your business partners till date.
The political buffoons around you would hold you out as an anti-third term person today but you know what happened between us on May 2, 2006. We had a meeting at Airport Hotel in Lagos where you were dictating the communique against third term unknown to participants you were at a meeting till wee hours of that morning to work third term in another way.
I was reading the communique to the press when you called me. I gave the phone to the late Rev Tunji Adebiyi but you told him you wanted to speak with me. We didn’t get to talk till late in the night. I had with me in the car as you spoke with me from VGC to Ikeja then President of Egbe Omo Yoruba in North America, Mr Odusanya. Let me quote you verbatim :
“I hope you have not released that communique. We need to manage this third term carefully. Obasanjo is a blind cat. If he causes problem now and they kill one Yoruba graduate in Kano and we kill 200 people selling onions in mile 12 it is not equal. I am therefore proposing that we have a win-win situation. Instead of outright third term we can have the confab recommendation of one six-year tenure starting with the incumbent having 2 extra years and so with we the governors. We can use the two years to empower people like you and handover to one of you. I have asked General Alani Akinrinade to come and I am going to meet Prof Soyinka to discuss it. I want you to think about it”
I told you as a matter of fact that the proposition was unreasonable and there was nothing for me to think about as I would prefer outright third term where we would have elections to automatic two years extension. But my eyes were opened to how unreliable you are that night. Here was a man dictating communique against third term in the morning having this conversation with me at night.
I made up my mind on you that night. The conversation I had with you minutes after Funso Williams was killed and the way you handled your your succession made me to severe political links with you within six months .
The People Democratic Party Governorship Candidate of Lagos state Jimi Agbaje has dumped the People Democratic Party over an unresolved disagreement between him and the leadership of the party in the state.
This contains in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos. Agbaje revealed that it is necessary for him to leave this party after a series of allegations that arose after our party lost the Governorship election in Lagos State.
” I have tried to remain focused and ignored all the distractions coming from the leadership of the party. I am making the decision after due consultation with my supporters and loved ones for the sake of peace.
Mr Agbaje, however, did not give details whether he will join another party.
The former Chairman of the people Democratic Party in Lagos State, Chief Tunji Shelle, has accused Jimi Agbaje of responsible for party poor performance in just concluded Governorship election in Lagos State.
According to Shelle: “We have a situation where somebody said he could work and achieve victory alone. Meanwhile, he doesn’t know anything.
“Rather than show cooperation, he was arguing and fighting people who could help him. Even when things were going bad and help was to be rendered, he said he doesn’t need help.
“Well-meaning people intervened to rally everybody together in Lagos. They called us to a meeting and asked us to help him but he refused, saying he doesn’t need help. He became a lone ranger and stand-alone person.
“Even when we were trying to reinforce his campaign team, he told us point blank that he couldn’t work with people he can’t control. He wants to be a master of all and subject everybody in the party under his control which is not possible. You can’t control everybody because PDP is not your private party.
“So, we decided to leave him to go and do the job alone and at the end of the day, that is the result we got in Lagos. That is the major reason why PDP failed in Lagos.
“If not for the sympathy votes we got from people who are tired of APC and felt there is a need for leadership change in Lagos state, we could have gotten lesser votes in the governorship election. To be frank, our governorship candidate was our problem in Lagos state.
“He defeated the party and defeated himself. The most unfortunate thing is that he doesn’t feel the pain of what he has caused. Also, there was mismanagement of resources too because everybody left him to his fate to do whatever pleases him”.
One evening in early September last year, Pius Adesanmi, telephoned me frantically from his base in Ontario. He had been calling for days and due to my excessively busy schedule at the time and the time difference between Canada and Nigeria, we missed each other repeatedly. He would call while I was asleep, and I would do the same while he was perhaps dreaming away in Ontario.
In frustration, the man I called Akowe (Book man), left a message for me on WhatsApp: “O ga o. Olorun a fun alagbara yin ni suuru o.” (May God give the powerful the patience to be gentle with the masses). He was tactically and wittingly and proverbially reminding me that my editor-in-chief job was making me more and more unavailable to my friends.
I started calling Pius Akowe in April 2012 after he delivered a funny, brilliant and illuminating keynote at the African Literature Association in Dallas. At that event, the writer had cracked ribs when he narrated how his uneducated palmwine tapper in his native Isanlu, perched at the neck of a tree, would telephone him with a Blackberry to announce that his regular supply of palmwine would be delayed.
“Akowe, mo ti gbe de o,” (Book man, I’ve brought your wine), the tapper would say anytime he arrived the professor’s home, Pius wrote in the keynote entitled: “Face Me, I Book You: Writing Africa’s Agency in the Age of the Netizen.”
So from the day I read that piece, I began calling Pius Akowe. I would say, “Akowe, e tun tide” (Book man, you have come again) whenever he telephoned me. He would laugh animatedly, and respond: Musikilu Oniroyin agbaye, mo ti de o (Musikilu the global journalist, I have come again o). He would then launch into the real reason for his call.
I returned Pius’ call that day last September, and he updated me on his recovery. It was then about two months since he had a ghastly accident in Nigeria, and was evacuated to Canada. He had been away from work and from his column for PREMIUM TIMES and from social media. I convinced the professor to grant us an interview. He agreed. He wanted it done on the telephone, but I told him WhatsApp was better. He agreed.
But two days later he left me a message: “Musikilu can we do the interview by email instead? Won’t be easy for me to type answers here (WhatsApp).”
“If you insist,” I responded. “But it’s better here. It allows for follow-up questions.”
Pius: Ok. But my responses will be slow in coming o. U know Naija has adapted u people to doing serious work in certain conditions 😀
Me: Yeah.. it can be slow. But it’s better.
As agreed, both of us showed up on WhatsApp at the agreed time for the interview.
“Ok, fire the questions,” the professor said on arrival on September 17. “Today makes it exactly two months since the accident so we should start.”
The interview you are about to read, conducted between September 17 and November 17, was never concluded. Pius was as busy as a bee. He would disappear for weeks and then for months. I was hoping we would complete it this March. But my Akowe slipped into mortality, devastating everyone who encountered him in person or through his exceptional work.
Below, for posterity, is what appears his last extensive media interview on earth.
PT: You have been out of circulation for two months since you had a car crash. How has life been so far? How are you recovering? What has life been not being able to tweet, Facebook and write your column for PREMIUM TIMES?
PIUS ADESANMI: Thank you very much. It’s been a very long and tough battle to recovery. The car crash was pretty serious and I still don’t know how I made it out alive. It was after my medical evacuation to Canada that I came to terms with the full extent of my injuries. It has been one complication after another since then. It has also taken quite an emotional toll. I’m still doing intense physiotherapy. Of course, I’ve missed life in the public trenches of Nigeriana. I’ve missed my readers and followers in the public sphere. I’ve missed my column. I’ve missed my Facebook and Twitter communities. Not being able to engage at this critical conjuncture in the life of our nation has been tough. However, my accident taught me one lesson: only the living can fight for Nigeria.
PT: How close are you to full recovery? When are you likely back to work and to travels?
PIUS ADESANMI: You know, I’ve started to write a book about this entire ordeal so I should be careful not to give too much away to Premium Times in an interview in order not to incur the wrath of my publisher, Premium Times Books😀.
On a serious note though, I am hoping to be fully back to work and travels before the end of the year. I still have three problem areas: my right leg which was nearly amputated because my injuries were badly infected in Nigeria before I was evacuated to Canada, my right wrist and right shoulder also suffered ligament and nerve damage.
As I heal, I am eager to return to work and travel. You know, this accident happened in July in Nigeria. That was my fifth working trip to Africa this year. I’d been to Kenya (twice), Ghana (twice), and South Africa before Nigeria nearly got me. Since the accident, I’ve cancelled lecture trips to South Africa, Ghana, and France. I was in fact on my way to an African Union consultative meeting in Senegal when the accident happened so, obviously, I didn’t make it to Dakar. So, I am keen to get back to life as a peripatetic public intellectual.
PT: Sorry about the troubles this accident has caused you. I recall you were returning from a training tour when it happened. It was an emergency. Hope Nigeria did not do badly evacuating you and driver from the crash site. And then stabilising you.
PIUS ADESANMI: If you think of Nigeria as a system, as a state in a social contract with the citizen, then, obviously she failed me tragically and nearly killed me. But is that not the story, the personal tragedy of every Nigerian? That we have not been able to create even the most rudimentary forms of civilizational frameworks to secure our lives in the 21st century. I spent the first five hours after the accident in what is said to be the emergency unit of the general hospital in Oyo. If you put pigs in such a filthy environment in Canada, no, Canada is too much, make it Ghana, if you put pigs in such a place in Ghana, you’d go to jail for animal cruelty. That is where Nigeria puts her ordinary people in “hospitals” all over the country. As I said, my injuries were so badly infected in that filthy hospital environment in Oyo that I nearly lost my leg when I got to Canada.
PT: Hope this incident will not slow your commitment to Nigeria, your country of birth. The country that nurtured you and then exported to the world to rise, shine and explode.
PIUS ADESANMI: I am in an abusive relationship with Nigeria. No experience, no matter how horrific, can reduce my commitment to Nigeria. Nigeria is that malevolent, abusive, beastly husband who is physically violent, beats and hurts you but you remain in that relationship and people wonder why.
Well, you know that Nigeria’s beastly, cannibalistic nature (she feeds on her own ordinary citizens) is the handiwork of a few. The road that nearly claimed me is the handiwork of the visionless animals in the political leadership of the country. To reduce my commitment is to surrender to our enemies in the leadership. As I always say, Nigeria is a struggle for meaning and we must not allow the filthy political leadership to have the last word in that argument.
PT: Again, we are sorry about all you went through. We thank God you are alive and recovering. The last time we interviewed you, you agonized about those kinds of situations ordinary folks go through everyday. I recall you lamenting that your social activism was not making an impact. You said you were considering running for political office to aggressively push for change. Is that plan still alive?
PIUS ADESANMI: I think you are missing out on some of the nuances I teased out in my response to that particular question in the interview. I believe it was in specific reference to a political appointment. I recall saying that I wanted no such thing. Remember it was even still early days in the Buhari administration when Buhari’s cluelessness, incompetence, and irredeemable nepotism were not as manifest as they turned out to be.
I said I was not out for a political appointment precisely because we have a certain depraved national culture which makes what ought to be a transient phase of service in a citizen’s life become a shameful stage of accumulation and conspicuous consumption. This is what we mean when we say a person has arrived or God has blessed the person.
A political appointment becomes our singular indicator of success. Here I am for instance. Without being immodest, I’ve been one of Nigeria’s most prominent academic experts in my generation for over a decade now, highly in demand in Universities in North America, Europe and all over Africa. I average 30 keynote lectures per year across continents. I won the Penguin Prize for African Writing in 2010. Yet a Nigerian will look at me and consider a political appointment “a promotion”.
Here, at my level, colleagues who accept political appointments see it as a demotion. It is a sacrifice they make for the collective. I said I aspired to be one of the very few Nigerian public intellectuals to change the Nigerian perception of appointments as “arrival” instead of service. I want no part in the culture of arrivism. If you want me to address the part about the limitations of activism, I am happy to do that.
Following the social media posts on Monday about the allegation that a certain Chinese restaurant in Ikeja is engaged in racial discrimination against potential Nigerian customers, our officers were sent to investigate the veracity of the claim. The two officers who went there on Monday did so incognito and found the allegations to be false. The officers were served without any questions or discrimination. They also took photographs without being noticed. Our officers also observed that the restaurant had a number of Nigerians working inside there and did similarly observe that peppersoup, a Nigerian delicacy is also on the menu.
More, importantly, the restaurant has been registered with the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture since 2016 as required by law.
As the regulators of eateries, restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality facilities in Lagos State, the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Tourism will further investigate this claim, beyond what our findings on Monday revealed and will be vigilant about the activities of this restaurant and its subsidiary.
Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture
Here’s a quick note to generally acknowledge the flood of phone calls and public and personal messages to me. I am sorry that I haven’t been able to respond to your outpouring of solidarity on the indescribable passing of our dear #PiusAdesanmi. There will be a time to personally respond. The bleeding Truth is that this Truth doesn’t look like the Truth; the tragedy is too surreal it takes a while to process reality. 25 years of friendship, brotherhood, and collegiality extinguished mid-air just like that? Adieu the great Payo!
When Great Trees Fall
By Maya Angelou
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
nurture now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed. –
Fellow Nigerians, it is very difficult to write this tribute to a man one knew as a friend, colleague and brother, Professor Pius Adesanmi. Let me start from the end. Last Sunday started for me like every other Sunday, a day for relaxation. My son had driven to Oxford to pick me and take me home in London. The drive from Oxford on the Motorway was smooth, with little traffic here and there particularly when we got to London because as is typical of most roads in the capital, they are perpetually undergoing some repair or another at the weekends. On getting home, I opted for a quick Nigerian lunch, something which is a rarity in Oxford and which I had therefore missed during my weekly stint in Oxford. Thereafter, I opened my phone to navigate through my social media platforms as is my habit. Suddenly, a satanic news item jumped at me. An Ethiopian airlines plane was reported to have crashed shortly after take-off. I was stunned. I have never liked such news, being a frequent flyer myself. I said the usual selfish prayer: “may we not have any of our family members or friends on it.” But truth was, that route, from Addis Ababa to Nairobi is quite popular for Nigerians. The headquarters of the African Union is in Addis Ababa and international agencies dot the landscape of Kenya which is also renowned for its amazing tourist attractions. The allure for fun-loving and adventurous Nigerians is best imagined. My mind continued to process the news and I twitted a prayer for the casualties and offered my condolences to their bereaved families. I was still wondering what might have caused this unfortunate crash when my eyes roamed to a pending direct message on Twitter from a lawyer, writer and brother, Tade Ipadeola: “Egbon, something ghastly has happened. We have to believe Pius Adesanmi was on the crashed Ethiopian airliner. Travelling with his Canadian passport.” I screamed, “no way!” I immediate called Mr Ipadeola in Nigeria and he reiterated his earlier message. I started working the phones and soon stumbled on another bad news regarding another distinguished Nigerian on the ill-fated flight, written anonymously by God knows who: “Just got this: I’ve just been informed now that we lost one of our own. A high-profile Nigerian, Amb. Abiodun Bashua in that crash. Those serving in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will know him. He was the former UN and AU Deputy Joint Special Representative in Darfur, Sudan. A complete gentleman. May God rest his soul.” What a terrible day this is turning out to be, I soliloquised. Ambassador Bashua is a brother -in-law to Bose and Gboyega Adegbenro, and I could therefore share in their pain and sorrow because of my friend and brother, Prince Damola Aderemi, whose mother, Funlayo Adegbenro, is the matriarch of the Adegbenro family. As for Pius, who I used to call Kofeso, as a Yoruba corruption of the word ‘Professor’, I eventually confirmed that he had indeed perished along with Ambassador Bashua and 155 other innocent souls on that doomed Flight ET302. I knew his death would reverberate to far-flung places across the oceans because of his towering accomplishments in academia and the literary world. Kofeso, in his inimitable, simple but flowing literary style had written himself into the hearts of too many fans globally. At under 50 years of age (Pius had only recently celebrated his 47 birthday on 27 February), he seems to have achieved what most people wouldn’t have achieved at the age of 80 and beyond. I had become acquainted with him through his compelling essays and articles before we met physically. And ours was love at first sight, based on mutual respect and admiration. My colleague and brother, Segun Adeniyi had called me in Accra, Ghana, one afternoon from Abuja, Nigeria. After our exchange of usual pleasantries and banter, Segun informed me that his close friend, Pius Adesanmi, would like to have my numbers. I gave him my consent immediately. Who wouldn’t? I was a big fan of his writing prowess, as well as his political interventions, even if we disagreed from time to time on various issues. I soon received a call from Kofeso and he told me he was coming to spend some time teaching at the University of Ghana in Legon. I told him to alert me once he arrived and settled down, and he did. I personally drove to pick him from Legon to my home where we had so much fun devouring our bowls of pounded yam and egusi soup. We ate as voraciously as we chatted moving back and forth from mundane to serious issues. We got on so well, it was as if we had known each other forever. I told him that for as long as he was in Ghana, he had unfettered access to my chefs, whether I was home or not. He was such a friendly man and he would sometimes ask if he could invite his friends along and of course this was fine by me. His friends straddled society and was a reflection of the kind of persona that Kofeso had. Needless to say, we all bonded as one blood. Months later, Kofeso returned to his base in Canada but we kept in touch. I followed him on social media, and I admired his passion and love for our motherland Nigeria, a passion we shared, albeit with different approaches. Let me fast forward a bit. Kofeso was involved in a ghastly fatal motor accident on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway last year. He was lucky to escape with his life from what I later learnt. Somehow, I missed the news but stumbled on it on September 7, 2018, and I quickly sent him a WhatsApp message: “My dear Brother, this is Dele Momodu. I don’t know how the story of your accident escaped me. Just discussing now with Segun. May God heal you totally. I will keep trying till I get you.” Kofeso responded about six hours later. I didn’t realise the accident was worse than I had imagined. “Great to hear from you my dear Brother Bob Dee. It was serious o. 2 months later I’m still in physio and recovering from injuries. 2 people died. I am the only survivor.” I was shocked to my bones. “Lord have mercy… May their souls rest in peace.” I wrote. How could I have envisaged that that fiendish accident was only a dress rehearsal? Surprisingly, barely 24 hours later, Kofeso and I exchanged yet another WhatsApp conversation, after he read my Pendulum column titled “Are Nigerian Youths Truly Ready to Run or Just Ranting?” I was particularly delighted by his beautiful comment: “Bob Dee, this tour de force has arrived in time for inclusion in my syllabus on youth and politics in Africa.” I thanked him profusely. Our interactions continued unabated, and on January 24, 2019, I contacted him to be one of the three referees I needed for my application to Oxford University, the others being my former teacher at the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Professor Chidi Amuta, and my former boss at Weekend Concord, Mr Mike Awoyinfa. As always, as soon as he read my message, he responded: “Apologies Bob Dee, I’ve just seen this. I’m in a seminar. Can I call you in an hour?” I said ok. He requested for my current cv and asked if there was anything in particular I wanted him to write. I simply replied: “Pls write from the heart. You know I’m a great fan of your style.” I pestered him a bit about the deadline for the submission of the referee’s letter. At a stage, he phoned and said “Bob Dee, you should know I can never let you down” and I was deeply touched by his love. It was such a great honour to have him write a reference on my behalf as an impartial and independent assessor of the quality of my essays and work. He finally completed the reference and sent it off. True to his word, I subsequently got confirmation from Oxford that all my referees met the strict deadline, and I was very grateful to them all including Kofeso, who had obviously been very busy and distracted at that time. My last WhatsApp interaction with Kofeso was on February 5, 2019, after what seemed an altercation between us on Twitter. Some young guys had suggested that Pius Adesanmi had attacked me in a comment, which I didn’t consider as a big deal, but Kofeso was visibly worried to the extent that he privately fired some quick clarification to me: “Bob Dee, I can’t believe this. I just got on Twitter now and noticed that a comment I made pointing out that CNN would always badmouth China from an American perspective was misread by so many. I hope you got my drift o. What is wrong with all these Twitter kids and reading comprehension?” Since I didn’t feel his tweet was anything negative, in the first instance, I just told him: “Nothing at all KOFESO. We live in the age of ignorance and intolerance.” But Kofeso was not yet done, and he raged on: “I am so angry. How could anybody think it was u I was attacking? E GBA mi o. These kids can’t read!!” Kofeso appeared like a man who had a deadline to meet, and he didn’t want our relationship destroyed by any mischief-maker. I told him not to worry because, sincerely speaking, I didn’t take it to heart, in any way, and I had not even considered that I might be the one he was addressing in his tweet, which as he explained was not the case in any event. “My own KOFESO, these young guys don’t know our relationship. Check my response pls.” That was my final response to him on WhatsApp. It never occurred to me that it would be the last. But I’m glad we managed to speak before his unfortunate departure on the tragic flight. Kofeso had called me weeks back to ask if I would be in Nairobi, Kenya, this week. He knew I travelled a bit within the East African region and was hoping we could meet in Nairobi where he was attending a conference. I said I would be in England most of this week before travelling to Lagos for a youth empowerment program. It was our last verbal discussion. It still plays on in my head like a broken record because this was a most unassuming intellectual and literary giant as his writings demonstrate. Death took away one of Africa’s best and brightest. Like too many people have openly attested to, it would be difficult, if not impossible to replace Professor Pius Adebola Adesanmi. He came, he saw, he conquered, within a short space of time. Kofeso flew away on the wings of time into eternity and the sure hands and embrace of the Lord, when he finished his assignment on earth, even as we, the lovers and admirers of his writing and and some of his ideals, still feel that we needed him more. Such is the unchallengeable way of almighty God that we must give thanks for his short but monumental life. A life in which he gave of his knowledge and wit to enrich our space and thoughts. Kofeso, we thank and honour you today and always. You are a pious STAR! My sincere condolences to his entire family particularly his mum, wife and children. May his beautiful soul rest in perfect peace. Adieu, Kofeso. Sun re o!
Former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel has reveal that he will never abandon Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Abubakar despite announcing his retirement from partisan politics over the weekend.
Fondly call OGD, Otunba Daniel said it was neccessary to make the clarificatiom following widespread stories that he was about to join the ruling a all Progressives Congress ( APC)
According to him ” I will not and will never abandon Atiku. Atiku is different from PDP. I have resigned from PDP and lost interest in partisan politics having put in about 20 years of my life in a thankless process. I will commit my God given resources to help the less privileged through my Foundation and will continue to share my body of knowledge through our not for profit Political Academy. That will be a thankful process.
“I will continue to support the political process in a non partisan manner. I am clear with my position, without any ambiguity. There is no need to insinuate, speculate, extrapolate, anticipate or draw conclusions on my behalf. I did not expect such a simple personal decision can generate such national discourse and for that I remain grateful to God. I am however most grateful to all my friends and well wishers. The phones have not stopped ringing. All the advice are well taken. My very deep appreciation.”