Tinubu Runs A One-man Show In Lagos Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele

Chief (Mrs) Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, 79, was the Deputy to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in his first term as Governor of Lagos State from 1999-2003 and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this REMINISCENCES with Daily Trust on Sunday, Chief Bucknor-Akerele speaks about her childhood, her impression of the Nigerian military, the problems she had with Asiwaju Tinubu that forced her out as his Deputy and other raging issues in the polity

When did you leave broadcasting, and why?

I think it was in 1971. The pay was bad, so I decided I needed a better source of income. I was recruited into advertising as a Client Service Manager at Graham and Gillies Advertising Limited.

At what point did you think it was time to join politics?

I joined active politics when former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, asked Nigerians to form political parties. I came from a political family. My father, Dr Akerele, was the first president of Egbe Omo Oduduwa. In fact, the body was formed in his house in London before it became the Action Group (AG). My father contested for a political seat on the platform of the AG but lost to one of his best friends, J.M. Johnson. They remained good friends, though, until death separated them.

My first cousin, the late Chief Babs Akerele, was a prominent politician in Lagos in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), and later, in the National Republican Convention (NRC). I had always wanted to join politics but I didn’t do so until my children had grown up enough to care for themselves and I could go conveniently go into politics.

Which party did you first join?

I can’t even remember. But when Babangida first asked that political parties could be formed and we all took truckloads of materials to the then Electoral Commission and then he (Babangida) cancelled them and formed two parties, NRC and SDP, I joined the SDP.

I contested on the platform of the SDP for the Lagos Central Senate seat, which I won. Of course, the military stepped in again and dissolved everything, including annulling election of Moshood Abiola as president.

Did you ever think of quitting politics, despite the challenges women in politics face, including attending nocturnal meetings?

No, I was not discouraged at all because, as I said earlier, I came from a political family. I was determined to make my mark in politics.

I remember that the first meeting they called when I was in the Senate was at 11pm. Then, I was the only woman in the Senate out of 91 senators and I remember walking into the room and everybody just turned round and looked at me as if to say, ‘What the hell is she doing here?’ because I don’t think they expected me to come to a meeting at that hour.

Fellow senators in the room that night included the late Chuba Okadigbo, Olayinka Omilani, Wande Abimbola, Ayo Otegbola, the late Kanti Bello and the late Francis Okpozo.

How did the political paths of you and Senator Bola Tinubu cross and how did you emerge as his running mate for the 1999 Lagos State governorship election?

I first came across Senator Bola Tinubu in the Senate. He was in the Peoples’ Front, led by the late Alhaji Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, while I was in the Peoples Salvation Party.

We began relating more in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) where I was a prominent member of the steering committee. A lot of things had gone on before then. When Senator Bola Tinubu emerged as the governor-elect on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy, he was from a different caucus. We were Afenifere, while he came from Primrose. But since the structures and everything belonged to Afenifere, Afenifere felt it was important they had somebody from their fold who would be part of the government and I was nominated to be Tinubu’s Deputy.

So why did you fall out with him so irreconcilably you had to relinquish that position?

We fell apart because Tinubu wanted us to take over the party from the elders of the party who were really its founders. I, too, was part of building the structures that formed the AD and on which platform we rode to power. He wanted me to conspire with him to take over the party from the party leaders, but I refused. He eventually took over the party structures despite my warnings to the elders that that was what he wanted to do. They didn’t believe me until it was too late and he had taken over the party.

Tinubu wasn’t an original member of Afenifere but he instigated some people to break away from the mainstream Afenifere and he formed the Afenifere Renewal Group.

Do you have any regrets over your relationship and disagreement with Tinubu?

My only regret is that I accepted to be his Deputy, because truly, I did tell the late Baba Onasanya the day he phoned me and said they would like me to be Tinubu’s Deputy that I wasn’t keen on accepting that offer. I would have preferred if it had been Wahab Dosunmu, now late, who had also contested the governorship. I knew Wahab was a gentleman and I could work with him, but Tinubu was a different kettle of fish altogether.

Did you feel humiliated about what happened between you and him?

No, I wasn’t humiliated, but certainly, I was annoyed with his attempt to humiliate me.

Was it that he never gave you the opportunity to perform as Deputy Governor?

Well, I was given some roles. For instance, I was in charge of local governments and we had made promises to the electorate on what we planned to do for them. When I wanted to ensure that the local governments were functioning properly, Tinubu put a stop to it.

How do you think that particular development has affected local government administration in Lagos State today?

I don’t know how to describe it, but it is as if we don’t have any local government administration at all. The local governments are not doing anything. I was living in Victoria Island, a local government secretariat was just opposite my residence and I knew that at the end of every month, all they seemed to be doing was share money. People went with nylon bags, collected money and walked away. Most of the streets in Victoria Island are in a complete shambles.

Even in Ikoyi here, in the Eti-Osa Local Government, they don’t clean the gutters. Actually, they don’t do anything. In fact, we have to virtually do everything ourselves. I don’t know what functions local governments are performing right now, if any.

But some people believe that Lagos State is the model for other states as the most performing state in the country, and that it was Tinubu who laid that foundation. What is your take on that?

I don’t know what foundation was laid by Bola Tinubu because I was in government with him. We had a blueprint, which had since been dumped somewhere and is really not followed. When Babatunde Fashola came to power, he tried to make a difference by, at least, giving us a more conducive environment. He planted flowers and tried to keep the state clean. But that was just about it.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has also tried his best by repairing some roads. But really and truly, with the kind of revenues that Lagos State is generating, I think there could have been a lot more done.

Hasn’t Tinubu once again shown he is the main force to reckon with in Lagos politics by how the APC governorship primary in the state went?

That was a complete shambles. When you look at it closely, it was one man dictating, ‘You, you will become a Councillor’; ‘You, go and sit down, it is not your turn’. It is a one-man show in Lagos. Even in other states, you can see that the APC is in turmoil.

Lagosians have had enough of the APC. Go into the streets and hear what the people are saying. This time around, in the 2019 elections, people are going to resist that coercion because they have seen that their lives are not better under the APC.

What have you been doing since you left the Tinubu administration?

I have been doing my business. But I also joined the PDP in 2002 and I am now a member of its Board of Trustees.

How do you fancy PDP’s chances of returning to power at the federal level in 2019?

It is more than feasible. Everybody is seeing the ‘change’ that the APC touted, and everybody now knows that the people are worse off for that change. Therefore, a lot of people will very much like to see the PDP come back because they saw the concrete programmes which the PDP had earlier done.

The APC people are only prosecuting the PDP for corruption. But I believe they are now becoming a laughing stock even with their corruption crusade.

Are you saying the PDP was corruption-free when it ruled at the centre?

Corruption has always been there and there is no country where we don’t have it. It all depends on the level. But the level of corruption now is far higher than what it was in the days of the PDP.

You were one of the delegates at the recent PDP convention in Port Harcourt which produced former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as the party’s presidential candidate in the 2019 elections. What would you say about the allegation that the delegates were heavily compromised with dollars?

Yes, I was a delegate there and I was not bought and I did not see anybody being bought. I was there from the start to the end for the two days. It is all propaganda just to disparage the PDP.

How do you rate Atiku’s chances against President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s presidential election?

Atiku has strong structures on the ground throughout the federation, and he has a lot of goodwill too. And Atiku has accomplished a lot. He has been providing employment, as he has done a lot in education with the American University in Yola. He has companies which employ thousands of people. When you have somebody with a mindset like that as President, you would see genuine efforts in improving the lives of the citizens.

When was your happiest moment in life?

That was when I gave birth to my first son. It was really fantastic being able to give life to another human being.

And when did you experience the opposite side of life, a particular period of melancholy?

My most tragic moment was when I lost one of my sons.

You are 79 years old and have been a major player in Nigerian politics. Are you thinking of capturing all that in a book?

Yes, I am writing my memoirs. I am telling everything as it is. The public should be expecting my autobiography sometime next year.

What would you say has changed in Nigerian politics between when you came into it in the 1990s and now?

Money is playing too much of a part in politics these days. When we started AD, we were all broke. Let’s put it that way because when you heard Bola Tinubu was funding NADECO, maybe he was helping some people who were in exile abroad. But certainly he was not funding we who were here in Nigeria in NADECO.

We were funding ourselves and, therefore, none of us really had much money or any money to contest elections. Yet, we contested and the party won in all the Yoruba states. We didn’t spend any money apart from printing our posters and things like that.

But now it is cash-and-carry politics. It is very sad. I don’t know whether it is because the people have become so impoverished that they now only go for cash to be put in their hand and don’t really think of their future. They don’t think that once they collect cash from politicians, those politicians might not deliver anything for them in future.

What are your words to Nigerians?

My message to Nigerians is that, ‘Please, stop selling your votes’, because that is what is giving us bad governance, which is affecting all of us and will affect not only those of us alive today but will also affect generations to come if we do not have a change of attitude.


Culled From Daily Trust on Sunday

Kwankwaso To Declare For Presidency Wednesday

Ahead of the 2019 presidential election, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is set to declare his presidential ambition

This is according to the press release made available to the public on Sunday by the Kwankwaso Presidential Campaign Committee.

The statement said that the declaration  will hold at the Eagle Square,Abuja, the nation’s capital,  on Wednesday August 29,2018.

The time of the declaration is 11am.

Sen. Kwankwaso,a two-time Governor of Kano State, will be contesting for the highest political office in the land under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP), a party where he is one of the founding fathers.

Part of his achievements during his tour of duty as Governor of Kano State according to the statement include his pioneering the popular Free School Feeding Programme and the Treasury Single Account(TSA),based on his ‘Kwankwasiyya’ ideology, among others.

Kwankwaso,a serving senator, began his political career  in 1992 when he joined politics after 17 years of meritorious public service as a water engineer.

A grassroots politician, Kwankwaso was a  Member, Federal House of Representatives,representing Madobi Federal Constituency where he was elected Deputy Speaker in the aborted Third Republic.

In 2003, was appointed Minister of Defence and in 2006 also appointed Special Adviser to former  President Olusegun Obasanjo on Darfur and Somalia.

“Dignitaries from all walks of life from across the country and the diaspora are expected to attend the declaration,” the statement added.

Olawale Babalakin At 58: A Life of Achievements

As the erudite lawyer and astute businessman, Dr. Bolanle Olawale Babalakin (SAN), turns 58 today, many people may just be wondering what has been the driving force behind this man, who has been consistent in whatever he believes in, courageous in the face of obviously insurmountable challenges, persistent in his approach to everything, unperturbed by the vicissitudes of life and unshaken by the turbulence that appears on his way to the top, just as they appear to every man still living on planet earth.

By no little measure, Babalakin, who is a man of many parts and has been very successful in all, is acting according to the golden words of Mark Caine, who said, “The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”

Despite his privileged background as the son of a distinguished and incorruptible jurist of no mean repute, this Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) refused to be a captive of the environment in which he found himself. His focus has always been on attaining success in all endeavours, all on his own.

While many of his contemporaries with similar privileged background and pedigree way back became captives of their immediate environment and were busy pursuing inanities, getting pleasured in the warm arms of girls of various shades, dancing wild discos, drinking beer and popping champagne in the ancient city of Ibadan where he was born, Babalakin’s attention, right from the word go, was fully focused on achieving success and this he proudly did. According to the words of Vaibhav Shah, “Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” Therefore, only a few people know the private sacrifices this philanthropist of note made to achieve success, but everybody is today seeing the glories and drinking from the fountain of his success.

For Babalakin, who can be best described as an amazing personality because of the energy with which he pursues whatever he believes in, equipping himself with quality education at an early age was the first step to an eventful life. To demonstrate this, he obtained his Ph.D on the eve of his 26thbirthday at the world-class University of Cambridge, having earlier attended the prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG) for his first degree in Law, where he is today the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council. He is the first alumnus to occupy this exalted position. And, indeed, his 58 years on earth have been very eventful.

Affectionately referred to as BOB by his employees, professional colleagues, friends and admirers, Babalakin, who is also the Chairman of the Resort Group and who has interests in litigation and dispute resolution, real estate, infrastructure development, construction and transportation (aviation and roads), as well as philanthropy, has persistently and consistently pursed those interests with the focus of an eagle and the vigour of a lion. Rather than waning, his zeal for perfection in all that he does or you do for him knows no bounds. He does not accept 99.9 per cent as a pass mark; it must be 100 per cent or nothing less. This we can confidently attest to, having worked for him for several years now.

His fledging law firm, Babalakin and Co., with over 60 lawyers in its Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt offices, which he established after a short stint with the renowned legal luminary and his mentor, the late Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams (a.k.a. Timi the Law), has produced many Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and judges, who are doing well today.

As a successful businessman of no mean repute in a hostile and non-receptive clime like ours, Babalakin has been severally subjected to all manner of intimidation and harassment, but he has always triumphed and come out stronger on each occasion. Undeterred, he has always followed the postulation of the great scientist, Albert Einstein, who says, “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.”

His staunch and legendary belief in the rule of law and an orderly society where everything must work perfectly has seen him fighting several legal battles with strong forces over some of his various multi-billion naira investments, such as the first privately-funded Public-Private Partnership (PPP) airport terminal in West Africa, the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MMA2), built and operated by his Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), a pioneering idea, which many of his traducers have not been able to replicate anywhere in the country till date.

His resilience has also seen him engage in legal battles over the unjustly cancelled Lagos-Ibadan Expressway concession, which was awarded to one of his firms, Bi-Courtney Highway Services Limited (BHSL) and the Federal Secretariat Complex, Ikoyi, Lagos, also awarded to another of his firms, Resort International Limited (RIL), among others. In all these and other legal battles, Babalakin has always triumphed over the conspiracies of a few, leading to the award of several billions of naira damages in his favour by courts of competent jurisdiction. Sadly, these damages have not been paid till date.

His philanthropy, which knows no ethnic, religious or political boundary luminescence many segments of the society immensely because he believes in giving back. His good gestures are clearly visible in the education and health sectors of the society, among others. For instance, Babalakin runs an elaborate scholarship scheme under which many Nigerian youths have been trained, and are still being trained home and abroad; donated an 80-bed hostel to the University of Ilorin in the name of his father, the Honourable Justice Bolarinwa Oyegoke Babalakin (rtd); treated over 20,000 Nigerians with various eye diseases in Zaria and Owo (Ondo State); donated a 500-seater auditorium to the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, in memory of his late mother and has just opened a 4,000-seater Bola Babalakin Auditorium in his Gbongan hometown in Osun State, among several others.

Babalakin’s unquenchable thirst for and commitment to scholarship has seen this cerebral lawyer serving the nation in various capacities to help reform the education sector without drawing any allowance or stipend for his selfless service. Among some of these are: Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Maiduguri; Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Federal Universities in Nigeria; Chairman, Implementation Monitoring Committee of the Agreements entered into between the Federal Government and the various unions of Nigerian Universities, including the Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) and others; Chairman, Federal Government Committee to Re-negotiate the 2009 Agreement between the Government and the University Unions and currently, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, UNILAG.

As a committed family man, Babalakin is married to his heart-throb, Olugbolahan, a lawyer and daughter of Honourable Justice and the late Mrs. Y.A. Jinadu. They are blessed with children.

Indeed, Babalakin’s life is packed full of achievements and on this his special day, we wish him a happy birthday. Many happy returns our dear Erinjogunola, Baba o.

Omolale and Olaosun are on the Media Team of the Resort Group.

Trust As A Coefficient of Leadership: Celebrating Akinwunmi Ambode At 55

By Ade Bodunrin Mohammed

I am going to break protocol and dispense with the titles and formalities of addressing my Governor only this once.

Akinwunmi Ambode is celebrating his 55th birthday on earth on 14th June 2018. Is it a remarkable age? probably not , but it appears like a watershed in the life of this dogged and committed reformer. For those who know him well he shys away from celebrating birthdays and will probably “disappear” on that day preferring others to celebrate in his absence. Perhaps this final year of his first term as Governor of this great State he will accept to be part of it.

The trajectory of person’s life is often dependent on several factors both seen and unseen but a persons personal drive and passion is an extremely critical success factor.

How do you deconstruct this driven man of deep intellect who reluctantly mounted the saddle of governance of this State, breaking the jinx that a civil servant is only fit for direction and not action. His rise to leadership of this State is the stuff movies are made of and perhaps his inspirational story will be made into a movie some day but we must be content to tell a little bit of what we know makes him tick .

Akinwunmi Ambode’s style and persona has been defined by his background and upbringing. He will freely tell you that he has street credibility having grown up in various less than affluent areas of the State but yet it is safe to say his schooling especially his time in FGC Warri and UNILAG have moulded him into a man of panache and style. A man who could easily pass for an entertainment mogul in the night and a hardcore private sector entrepreneur/consultant in daytime.

Governing Lagos State is probably one of the greatest challenges he has faced in his life time. His casual mien definitely belies the complexity and difficulties he faces on a daily basis in ruling the mega city state called Lagos. Ambode is typically a kind hearted person and his generosity, loyalty and kindness are legendary but in the last three years he probably has had to discover “teeth” that he never knew he had. Governing people of diverse backgrounds and problems forces you to be firm and you make enemies in loads when have to take tough decisions for the greater good.

Great thinkers and innovators can sometime be quirky and non-conformist but that’s where Akinwunmi Ambode’s strength lies. As they say in the Star Trek franchise, he often chooses to go “where no man has gone before”. An ideas man par-excellence who is so passionate about the welfare of the people that it often triggers him to wake up at odd hours of the night to dry-run ideas that can help governance and welfare of the people of the State.

Is he infallible ? Of course not, and he already has his fair share of traducers who accuse him of not being social enough, being spontaneous etc. His reply would be that who is perfect except God, but his drivers are governance and the interest of the people, and with that in mind you can’t always have time to socialize. Nonetheless and paradoxically he is a fiercely loyal and passionate people’s person who loves having people around him all the time.

I believe trust is one of the strongest attributes of leadership and any successful politician must strive to acquire the confidence of his people that he will not betray the trust reposed in him by them. Akinwunmi Ambode assumed office as an astute financial manager in a time of recession and whether you hate him or like him he has been able to keep this State going with prompt payment of salaries, regular pensions, innovative and balanced infrastructure development, security of lives and property , employment opportunities etc in the face of bleak prospects and dodgy performance in other parts of the Nation. I strongly believe he has not betrayed the trust of the people that voted him into power. In his quiet moments he would tell you that he has traversed the entire fabric of this State for over 30 years both as a civil servant and now as Governor and he is simply content in knowing that he can improve the quality of the lives of Lagosians with the special knowledge he has developed over time.

Sadly most citizens don’t trust politicians as they believe they are full of promises and short on delivery. Posterity will surely judge whether Akinwunmi Ambode has fully delivered on his promises across the State. One thing that is however certain is that no one that has come across the man called Akinwunmi Ambode can doubt his passion and honesty to deliver the dividends to the people of the State. His virtuoso presentation from the heart at the recent 2018 “Lagos means business”Forum clearly demonstrated his passion for the development of this State despite any odds.

On his 52nd birthday in 2015 after his assumption of office I sent him a message and it read thus:

“…Indeed by that collective will together with God’s grace you have become the 14th Governor of Lagos State. It appears surreal but it is real and we are relishing the fact that many are going to be shocked to find how successful your Government is going to be.

But enough of that. I know things will never be the same again because you now belong to the over 20 million people in Lagos State. They are your constituency and children. They will be greedy, naughty ,supportive and sometimes disloyal but you must never lose your patience because they are your greatest path to immortality.

When you succeed with Lagosians you don’t need the books or films to record your legacy because it is the people that will record your legacies in their hearts and minds, it is them that will exalt you to high heavens and it is them that will build monuments in your honour.

You have fought for us and loved us in so many ways you can imagine. You have also been a great leader to many of us and that is why we must particularly ensure you succeed in this new quest you have embarked on. I therefore join all your supporters, friends and well wishers to wish you one of the best birthday’s you will ever have on this planet. I wish you continued God’s protection, love of family and friends and the continued admiration of your friends and foes alike…”

Three years after, my thoughts of and trust in this great leader have remained unchanged, and as he marks his 55th birthday he has shown that he is still a mere mortal but he is certainly heading for immortality .

Happy birthday and my very best wishes to my dear Governor and leader .

Dr. Mohammed writes from Lagos.

3 Nigerians Make 2018 Caine Prize Shortlist

Three Nigerians have made the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist. They are Nonyelum Ekwempu for her story, ‘American Dream’, Olufunke Ogundimu for ‘The Armed Letter Writers’ and Wole Talabi for ‘Wednesday’s Story’.

The five-writer shortlist was unveiled by this Chair of judges, award-winning Ethiopian-American author and former Lannan Foundation Chair in Poetics at Georgetown University, Dinaw Mengestu. He said: “The best short stories have a subtle, almost magical quality to them.

They can contain through the rigour of their imagination and the care of their prose more than just a glimpse into the complicated emotional, political, and social fabric of their characters’ lives.

The stories submitted for this year’s Caine Prize contained worlds within them, and nothing was perhaps as remarkable as finding that in story after story, writers across the continent and in the diaspora had laid waste to the idea that certain narratives belonged in the margins.

“The politics and aesthetics of gender, sexuality, corruption and silence were a constant presence throughout many of the stories submitted, particularly those on our shortlist. These five remarkable narratives are proof that nowhere is the complexity and diversity of Africa and African lives more evident than in the stories we tell.”

Other shortlisted writers were South Africa’s Stacy Hardy for her short story, ‘Involution’ and Kenya’s Makena Onjerika for ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’.

On the 2018 judging panel are: Henrietta Rose-Innes, South African author and winner of the 2008 Caine Prize; Lola Shoneyin, award-winning author and Director of the Ake Arts and Books Festival, Nigeria; and Ahmed Rajab, a Zanzibar-born international journalist, political analyst and essayist.

The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner in the Beveridge Hall at Senate House, SOAS, London on Monday July 2 2018, in partnership with the Centre for African Studies. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.

The shortlisted stories will be published in June in New Internationalist’s 2018 Caine Prize anthology, Redemption Song’, and through co-publishers in 16 African countries who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge.

Last year’s winner of the prize was Sudanese writer, Bushra al-Fadil.

Remembering Reggae Legend, Bob Marley, 37 Years After

Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!

Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!

Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!

Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight!

Preacher man, don’t tell me

Heaven is under the earth

I know you don’t know

What life is really worth

It’s not all that glitters is gold

‘Alf the story has never been told

So now you see the light, eh!

Stand up for your rights. Come on!

The above excerpt from Bob Marley‘s song, `Stand up, Get up’ could not have been more propitious any other time than now—in a world replete with human rights abuses, racism, poverty among others.

No doubt, many reggae artists today draw their inspirations from the icon whose style of music continues to rub off on various genres of reggae—roots, rub-a-dub, ragamuffin, dancehall, lovers rock among others.

Bob Marley was the first “third-world” global superstar and the artist responsible for bringing reggae to mainstream audiences.

Marley’s unforgettable music alone would have earned him a place in music history, but his status as a moral and religious compass to countless admirers and followers set him above many other such celebrities.

Robert Nesta Marley was born on Feb. 6, 1945 in Nine Mile, Saint Ann, Jamaica. His mother, Cedelia Booker, was an 18-year-old Jamaican girl and his father, the non-present Norval Sinclair Marley, was a much older white English sea captain.

Bob and his mother moved to the tough Trenchtown area of Kingstown when he was ten years old.

Music was already the focal point of Bob’s life by the early 1960s. He was recording and playing gigs with friends Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, and they were enjoying moderate success in Jamaica. Marley was also writing original songs. Johnny Nash had a minor hit with Bob’s “Stir it Up” while Eric Clapton later had a much bigger one with “I Shot the Sheriff.”

Success outside of Jamaica for Bob Marley and the Wailers, as they were now styling themselves, finally came in the mid-1970s, with hits including “No Woman No Cry’, “Exodus”, “Waiting in Vain”, “Jamming,” and “Is This Love.”

But Marley was much more than a Rastafarian Dylan writing catchy songs about the pressing issues of his times. During the late ‘70s, Jamaica was an island undergoing immense social and political upheaval.

Bob used his considerable influence in an effort to promote peace and find a middle ground between rival political factions in his country. He was the victim of an assassination attempt for his troubles.

He traveled the world, not only as a touring musician, but also as a goodwill ambassador for Jamaica and the Rastafarian religion. In 1978, he made his first trip to Ethiopia, the spiritual home of Rastafari, and stayed on a settlement donated by Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Two years later, Bob Marley and the Wailers were invited to perform at the Zimbabwe Independence concert by the brand new nation’s brand new president. Bob’s song “Zimbabwe” had been an anthem for the soon-to-be-ex-colony of Rhodesia.

Marley was a hero to countless Africans and was seen as an inspirational and unifying figure.

In 1977, Marley learned that he had a type of melanoma in one of his toes. His doctors recommended amputation, but Bob refused for religious reasons and instead simply had the toe nail and nail bed removed in hopes that would remove all the cancer. It didn’t. The disease metastasized throughout his body.

In 1980, he agreed to seek a somewhat controversial treatment at the clinic of Dr. Josef Issels in Germany. “Issels Combination Therapy,” which has been labeled “ineffective” by the American Cancer Society, was indeed ineffective in Marley’s case.

Bob wanted to die at home in Jamaica, but the trip back was too much for him. He passed away in a Miami hospital on May 11, 1981.

Bob Marley’s death stopped Jamaica in its tracks. He was awarded the country’s Order of Merit, Jamaica’s third highest honor, for outstanding contribution to his country’s culture.

The government provided him a state funeral ten days after his death as the Honorable Robert Nesta Marley O.M., with Prime Minister Edward Seaga and the Opposition Party Leader Michael Manley in attendance.

The streets were lined with countless thousands of mourners who watched Bob’s funeral procession wind from Kingston to Marley’s mausoleum in his birthplace of Nine Mile.

Bob Marley was laid to rest with a soccer ball, his Les Paul guitar, and a bud of marijuana.


N1.7bn Fraud: Absence of EFCC’s Witness Stalls Kayode Odukoya’s Trial

The absence of a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday stalled the N1.7 billion fraud trial of Managing Director of First Nation Airline, Kayode Odukoya.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that First Nation Airline and Bellview Airline are joined as second and third defendants in the suit before an Ikeja Special Offences Court.

At the resumption of proceedings on Monday, Mrs Zainab Ettu, the EFCC prosecutor, informed the court that the first prosecution witness was absent.

“We regret to inform the court that we are not prepared.

“The first prosecution witness that we were supposed to call was outside Lagos as at yesterday.

“I was in the office till 6.00 pm and he was not yet in Lagos. He is in town today but I told him not to bother.

“When I knew we could not go on today, I sent the defence a message,” she said.

Responding, Mr Olawale Akoni (SAN), Odukoya’s lawyer, expressed disappointment with the development.

“I got a message from the prosecution, I find this development a bit strange but I would not be commenting,” he said.

Akoni, in his submission, also told the court that the defence had filed a notice of preliminary objection dated April 30 opposing the suit.

Odukoya, through his lawyers, is seeking two orders: an order striking out the charge and an order discharging the defendants of the charges filed against them by the EFCC.

The grounds on which the preliminary objection are filed are that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the charge with no ID/239C/2012 and that the charge contravenes Sections 77, 249 and 252 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL).

According to the defence, Section 249 of the ACJL stipulates that the prosecutorial authority before the High Court of Lagos State shall be exercised only in the name of “The State of Lagos”.

The defence via the preliminary objection is also claiming that the information contained in the charge is incompetent and that charge is an abuse of court process.

NAN reports that the EFCC alleged that Odukoya committed the offences of forgery, use of false document and perjury on March 21, 2013.

According to the prosecution, the defendants forged a Memorandum of Loss of a Lagos State Certificate of Occupancy registered as No. 33 at page 33 volume 1011 at the Lagos State Land Registry, Alausa, Ikeja, in order that the document be acted upon as genuine.

The forged document was in respect of a property located at No. 29, Oduduwa St., Ikeja GRA, Lagos.

Odukoya is also alleged by the EFCC to have used the false document and also gave false information on oath, concerning the loss of the certificate of occupancy at the Lagos State Land Registry.

The anti-graft commission also said that on October 7, 2016, Odukoya stole and dishonestly converted to his own use N1.7 billion belonging to Skye Bank.

The offences violated Sections 85, 86(1), 278 (1), (b), 285, 361 (1), (a), (b), 363 and 364 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.

Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until May 21 for continuation of trial.

Gbenga Adeyinka At 50: Lessons For Young Entertainers

Nature and providence have their way of bringing some exceptional people our way in the course of our life’s journey. With these people, however, you navigate the trajectory of purpose.

Gbenga Adeyinka, Grand Comedian of the Federal Republic, GCFR, a colossus, incurable addict of success, protagonist of dedication and hard work, highly resourceful and dependable man, humble jolly good fellow, tireless visionary and incredibly funny man, today, Monday, May 7, joins the gracious league of the quinquagenrians, the golden 50!
Many up and coming entertainers hungry to cut their teeth in the entertainment industry have always quizzed the older generations, with the question: ‘What is the way up the ladder of success in the industry?” or “What is the secret of consistency and staying relevant in the show-biz?”
Dear friends, I present to you, ‘Gbenga, a breathing compendium of doggedness, astuteness, humility and of how staying original takes you up the cadre and keeps you up there’.
Gbenga and I have been friends for close to two decades. We met about a time I was putting up an event at the time. He approached me and offered to host my show free of charge. That singular act of selflessness thrilled and warmed me to Gbenga.
The level of our closeness way back made some persons speculate that I was probably his manager. The bond I share with this man is beyond being friends. He has become like my fraternity; we vibe alike so much.
Writing about Adeyinka, this multi-talented man at 50, may not exactly be very easy, but having known him from when his career was just taking off, to now that he has become a brand to reckon with on the Nigerian entertainment scene, then I should be qualified to assert that what stands this special man out is his strength of character and humility.
So many success stories in the entertainment industry, the comedy industry especially aren’t complete without a mention of his name in their journey at some points or the other. He is noteworthy for mentoring quite a number of next generation of comedians, and also pitching them for jobs he is not available to handle himself. Not too many established acts do that.
While Gbenga was leaving Unilag, popular comedian and compere, Tee A had just been admitted into Unilag at the time, even though Tee A was already a name to reckon with, Gbenga was instrumental to his joining the famous Theatre 15 group back then, and also assisted Tee A with publicity for his first show.
A thorough business man, Gbenga’s human relations skills are exceptional. He is great at engaging his clients and knows how to retain them. There are families here in Nigeria that Gbenga has been the compere for the wedding of (almost) all their children.
He has a knack for keeping to time. Gbenga arrives events where he is billed to perform way ahead of time, and even joins the organizers in the last minute arrangements for the event. These are rear qualities.
A fine gentle man, with an enviable marriage of over 25 years, not many know that Gbenga already has two kids who are graduates of Covenant University, and a third who is prepping to leave the University too from Babcock.
While congratulating my good friend on this momentous occasion, I pray that the Creator grants him good health, and that he is granted the privilege to continue to be relevant in the scheme of things on the Nigerian Entertainment landscape and beyond.
Happy 50th, my dear friend!
Seun Oloketuyi writes from igbemo and is COO of Best of Nollywood Awards

Ekiti 2018: I Won’t Step Down For Anybody – Bamidele

A former Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr Opeyemi Bamidele has vowed not to step down for anyone ahead of Saturday’s governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti.

Bamidele, an aspirant, made the vow while addressing delegates for the primaries in Ado-Ekiti, describing as “laughable” the rumour making the rounds that he had stepped down.

He said there was no reason for him to quit when he was convinced that he had a good chance of clinching the party’s ticket.

Bamidele stated that with the assurances given by the APC National leader, Bola Tinubu, and other leaders of the party at a meeting held in Lagos on Friday, he had no reason to doubt the credibility of the process.

He said he expected the party leaders to conduct a free, fair and credible primary election that would produce a strong candidate capable of defeating the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

“It will be tragic for APC to lose after passing through this stress; so we must do the right thing for us to get the right result.

“I have traversed all the 177 wards and I am now visiting all the 16 local governments in search of delegates.

“At 54, if I want to step down, I won’t waste time, energy and money, moving around. I will not even pretend in telling the public about it

“Let me say that I am on the field, in the race and on Saturday, we are looking forward to getting the ticket by the grace of God,’’ he said.

Counselling the delegates on the choice of candidate they should vote for, Bamidele said they should choose someone who has the acceptability and clout to win as well as the knack to organise the party and make it a formidable force.

“APC needs an experienced person and someone with scientific understanding of what has gone wrong in Ekiti and how to resolve it.

“I have been commissioner for over 10 years in executive arm, I have been a member of House of Representatives and I am also a lawyer, which falls within the judicial arm

“I will not in any way disappoint if given the ticket because I am a loyal party man and I know how to work with everybody to get the useful result,’’ he said.

On the sincerity of members of the Chief John Oyegun-led National Working Committee to conduct credible primary election, Bamidele said: “I have no reason to doubt their integrity.

“All the aspirants had gone through screening and as we were doing this, we were given a copy of delegates’ list each. We all know who will vote on Saturday.

“With this, I don’t envisage that anyone would try to tamper with the list or see anyone trying to do accreditation at another location different from where they will vote which can give opportunity to transport fake delegates to the venue.

“The NWC, National and zonal leaders as well as the aspirants have agreed on some pacts and I believe these shall be allowed to prevail in this election.”

Skill Acquisition: Lagos Trains 18, 184 Women, Youths In Three Years

…Screens 1,500 Women For Cervical, Breast Cancer, Others

The Lagos State Government on Friday said that at least 18, 184 women and youths were trained in various vocations across the 17 free skills acquisition training centres across the State in the last three years.

Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Dr. Lola Akande, disclosed this at the ongoing Ministerial Press Briefing of the Ministry to mark the three years in office of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa Secretariat.

Giving a breakdown of the figures, the Commissioner said that 5,724 trainees graduated from the centres in 2015, 7,301 in 2016 while 5,159 were trained in 2017, adding that the ultimate aim was to empower the trainees to reduce poverty, make them self-reliant and also job providers rather than seekers.

Akande, however, expressed concerns over the low enrollment of women and youth into it 17 free skills acquisition training centres across the State.

According to her, the reduction in the number of trainees in 2017 showed that the centres are not being utilized to the maximum.

”Governor Ambode led-administration is committed to alleviating poverty in all forms among the citizens of the State, especially women who have been identified as the chief burden bearer in the families.

”This is why the government is investing in women empowerment, skills acquisition programmes, access to loans and provision of working tools to enable them better their lives and become self-reliant so as to contribute to the development of the state and the nation at large.

”It is unfortunate that these 17 functional skills acquisition centres are not being utilized to the maximum. The training is at no cost and we offer six to nine months training in courses in computer operations, catering and hotel management, fashion designing, cosmetology, barbing, hat making, soap making, decorations, tiling, vulcanizing, tie and dye and the others.

”I’m appealing to residents especially vulnerable women, youths, job seekers and young school leavers to take advantage of these trainings to become economically and financially viable,” she said.

She said in the last one year, the Ministry organised Short Term Skill Acquisition Training Programmes for several cadres of persons including skill acquisition training for 250 Retiring Public Servants, 300 Widows, 150 Women living with HIV/AIDS, 250 Vulnerable Women at the Epe Local Government as well as 250 Vulnerable Women at the MDG Centre, Ajara Vento Badagry.

She said at the end of the training session, participants were given certificates and starter packs to help them start off their businesses immediately and contribute their quota to economic growth.

The Commissioner added that in its bid to help sustain the general well being of Women in the State, the Ministry also organized Medical screening for 1,500 women and young adults such as Cervical, Breast, Sugar Level, Blood Pressure, HIV/AIDS, etc, to check their health status.

Akande said that the ministry also organised short term skills acquisition training for about 1,300 retired public servants, widows and women living with HIV/AIDs.

She said the ministry also handled a total number of 1,313 domestic violence matters and resolved 1,055 cases.