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Ambode at 55: Lowers his voice, raises his logic, By Idowu Ajanaku



Good leaders are trailblazers, making a path for others to follow” –

As global attention is riveted on the unfolding spectacle of the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia today, there are interesting parallels to draw with a goal-getting Nigerian, whose illustrious life trajectory clocks 55 years on this same day. Much like the world-acclaimed beautiful game, which few observers gave a chance to survive, talk less of exploding when it began back in England in 1863, Lagos State Governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode was the little known aspirant when political pundits began to permutate on the likely successor to erstwhile Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola then in 2014.

But the leadership narrative has since changed, as Lagos state has become a reference point to Nigerians, nay Africans within the political power context. In a similar compelling, centripetal attraction that soccer enjoys amongst people of diverse races and religion, social strata  and even political persuasion, the question on virtually everyone’s lip is what magic wand has Ambode waved to turn Lagos into an emerging smart city? That is, within a short span of three years in the saddle of the world’s fastest growing city and Africa’s fifth largest economy. The questions persist.

However, to be on the good side of history and more significantly to become better by the day, let us attempt answers from Ambode’s life experiences. Especially, those that have stood him in good stead. Just like football, with its thrills and frills and its team- game format there are rules to obey. We can only win life’s daily matches if we, like Ambode have the focus, the desire, the determination to excel no matter who would tackle us when we eventually have the ball.

 For instance, the early death of his father was one of such challenges. However, instead of capitulating, he took it as a stepping stone to climb to greater heights by sacrificing his time and talents to concentrate on his studies. That he emerged the second-best student in the West African Examination Council(WAEC)   O\L examinations at the end of his secondary school days is a testament to such iron-will determination to succeed against the odds, as John Harold Johnson(now  late) of Ebony Magazine fame  once admonished.

Secondly, Ambode was one young man who was written off by his uncle, at the age of 11 years, especially when he expressed his desire to becoming an accountant. The older man thought he did not possess the DNA to ever qualify as one. But the story has since changed its tempo and tenor.  By 2015 when  Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode became  the APC flag-bearer of the state, he had already metamorphosed into a  thoroughbred, tested and trusted technocrat.  He was the former Accountant –General, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and Auditor-General who has traversed several of the local government councils in the state.

Another salient, vital feature of successful leadership, as exemplified by Ambode is to be fully prepared for the onerous tasks at hand. Based on his wealth of experience he knew the needs and nuances of the state like the lines on his palms. So, he hit the ground running.

Little wonder that within six months in office his forward-looking administration, achieved all these and more.  Specifically, in the health sector, the governor commissioned 20 Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICU) and 26 Transport Ambulances one for each of the 26 General hospitals.  He ensured that ambulances were bought for all the public hospitals in the state,  paid the aggrieved medical doctors their outstanding  salaries and the  long-suffering pensioners.

 Similarly, Ambode approved the recruitment of more paramedic staff and  special medical coordinators to guarantee 24 hours service.  Besides, he  upgraded the General Hospitals and constructed a Medical  Park fully equipped  with quality drugs and new mobile X-Ray machines. He similarly lent helping hand to victims of disasters including motor-accidents, fire outbreaks as well as mudslide in addition to diffusing governance to those at the lower rung of the Lagos  society.

 Making a wise choice, he began by beefing up security across the state. This he did by acquiring 10 armoured tanks, three helicopters for aerial surveillance and policing, two gun boats, 15 armoured personnel carriers and dozens of Isuzu trucks.  Still on security, he initiated the Light Up Lagos Project covering at least 365 streets across the state.

On the massive infrastructural development, Ambode has turned Lagos into a vast construction site, as people are currently awed by the 10-lane Airport Road and the Oshodi Interchange edifice. Indeed, Lagos now boasts of state-of-the art flyover bridges at Ajah and Abule-Egba with that of the popular Pen-Cinema in the works.

   Also, in less than one year in office some 282 inner roads received massive rehabilitation, as requested by the people during his tour of the LCDAs before  his election. In fact, his ‘114 Roads’ project where each of the 57 local councils in the state got two good roads was completed by May, 2016.

Economic empowerment was next. It received a boost in December of that year as he began the disbursement of the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund,(ETF) to carpenters, tailors, hairdressers, vulcanizers and other players in the informal sector in the state. The initiative will see the disbursement of N6.25 billion annually over the next four years. It was also one of the promises he made during his campaign in 2015.

The food security issue was kick started with the launch of the Lagos-Kebbi (LaKe Rice) in December 2016.  It came at the right time as thousands of residents trooped out to various centres across the three senatorial districts to buy the commodity which sold for N12,000 (50kg bag); N6,000 (25kg); and N2,500 (10kg). It was a much needed respite for a population that had been reeling under the impact of economic recession. The smiles widen as Lagos is getting ready to commission one of Africa’s largest rice mills months from now.

Barely over two years in office the state had raked in N287 billion in IGR, a whopping N19 billion more than was generated the year before. A revamp of the state’s revenue generation agency played a major role in this feat, but Mr. Ambode also gave credit to tax-paying citizens in the state.

It is a similar swan song from education through agriculture, to transportation and tourism. One great lesson for millions to learn from the governor’s success story  therefore, is for one to be blessed with a strong God-fearing  family. Both he and Bolanle, his woman of virtue have their lives firmly rooted in God. She is there as a pillar of support and as one who has stood by him through thick and thin. Besides, is their humility and tracing every success to the throne of God.

 Said he, at a recent Sunday Service to mark his three years in office: “No matter how much strategy that you have read in school or how much work you have done in the public service, …if it is working back- to -back and consistently, there has to be some other source that is making it work because you are just one out of several others. Why it works for Lagos is the more reason why one has to be very sober and humble, to actually know that there is something that is making that to happen and that has to be God”.

If, for the first time in the history of Lagos state and indeed Nigeria no other politician has come forward to challenge Gov. Ambode, nine  good  months to the 2019 gubernatorial election , it must be God. That explains why he is being celebrated nationally and globally, like a World Cup winning goal!

Many happy returns, my dear, iconic boss.

-Ajanaku is the Special Adviser, Information and Strategy to the governor.

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Senator Attai Aidoko Sir, legal quests or legislation?



By John Paul

Recently, I embarked on a journey to Ugbamaka lgah, the ancestral home of senator Attai Aidoko representing Kogi East in the senate. Whirling the community without a glance on potential pay-off for producing a Senator of the Federal republic, I resorted for interrogation and a retired police officer has this to say: “This is not river, but a stream.

The only stream sustaining our community and the neighborhood and it’s about four Kilometers away. Aidoko is far from our challenges because he only come here in the night and disappear before dawn since he became a senator.  As you can see we have no portable water, no electricity and other basic infrastructures.”

While the interrogation was still on, something struck my mind with the absence of morality in our leaders and I asked myself, why do people find pleasure in deceiving others? The senior citizen suddenly tapped and asked that I come with him. Lo and behold! I was taken to a large warehouse stocked with tricycles purportedly meant to electioneer Aidoko’s re-election bid in 2019.

Flash, Senator Attai Aidoko told us few months ago that he would not contest in 2019 as he will return to his farm in order to cater for his family but all doubt was cleared with events turning out from his camp within the last few days.

Sometimes I wonder if some of our leaders are sets of aggrieved people on vengeance. They are friendly while election is around the corner and once they are voted into power they turned their back on the electorates.

I stumbled upon a media branded achievement of the Senator from inception to date and I scoffed knowing it’s fallacious and politically intrigued. Though it’s the usual shenanigans with Nigeria politicians especially when election approaches but I don’t think it’s necessary to spend constituency allocation on tactics that is obviously irrelevant to the political curriculum of senator Aidoko. Why? Because unlike his contemporaries, Aidoko only sleeps and merry with his concubines while the court delivers his mandate in his choice location.

What a digression of our democracy.

Come to think of it why would Aidoko include electrification of Ikeje Igah to Ugbamaka in the projects he initiated when Ikeje has been electrified a year before he found his way to the corridors of power? As a matter of fact, Ikeje Igah’s electrification projects was initiated by the famous philanthropist Suleiman Babanawa in 2002.

Moreover, as a center to Okpo, Ogugu, Ugbamaka and Branch Obu, Ikeje town is located along Kogi – Benue – Enugu highways and it’s said to have been blessed with some basic infrastructures like schools, health care facilities and pipe borne water before our democratic rebirth.

Developing an already developed community in the face of others is abysmal. If Aidoko was in for the business he flaunts, it would have made more sense if suburbs like Igah gate, Igah Ocheba, Igah chechere which lacks virtually all the basic amenities especially portable water was considered.

Having watched helplessly while Kogi east legislative strides devalorize daily amidst national core issues, I put a call to some ‘behavioural scientists’ to find out what differentiates ‘psychological dispensation’ from action but they are yet to get back to me. Vision they say determine mission and mission determines action. The hypocrisy in the entire narrative of our legislative struggles is not far fetched; the man at the helm of affairs is formerly known for his indispensable slogan “Development of Igalaland is my priority”.

More delusive, Aidoko is also a major stake holder in the so called ‘project save Kogi’. So, one may be tempted to ask, what has suddenly befallen this noble personality? Has power actually corrupted him or the so-called slogan was just a headway to political limelight?

The time is appropriate to pose this sacred question (Legal quests or Legislation?) before distinguished senator Aidoko as further delay may write off Kogi east from Nigeria’s Geo-political zones. Judiciary they say is the last hope of a common man but for Aidoko, it’s an avenue to quiz justice against the people.

In 2015, Kogi East Senatorial mandate was grasped via election petition tribunal as Abdulrahman Abubakar of the ruling All Progressive Congress won the senatorial poll. Lending credence, he was given the certificate of return as member of the Nigeria Senate on the 3th of April 2015 and took oath of office in June 2015 conforming with electoral acts.

Six months later, Aidoko swirled into the Senate with a verdict from the state electoral petition tribunal siting in Lokoja asking senator Abdulrahman Abubakar (APC) who polled 98,915 votes to relinquish for him as the flag bearer of the opposition party with 88, 994 votes. Efforts to appeal the injustice perpetrated against Abdulrahman was an exercise in futility as Aidoko though has Alfa to contend with, bought his way in the entire process.

The legal battles between Aidoko and Alfa however came on the heel of nonconformity with party rules on individual mandate. While Alfa was anointed by his party with his mandate, Aidoko leveraged on his allotted court mandate.

To show that Alfa was also endorsed by the gods (ojo-ane), not only did he win the scheduled re-run, the pre-election suit had had Aidoko declared unqualified for the second time. But coercively, Aidoko flouted court judgement to remain in the senate regardless of whose ox is gored and the recent appeal he filed at the supreme court is just a guy-man making the street attractive for the next ten months when his tenure shall elapse.

Apparently, Aidoko has never been mandated by his constituency in the senatorial journey so far going by the above facts. He has never won election but rely on paid court orders to overthrow those who toiled every nooks and crannies of the constituency to woo voters.

It was reported online that Aidoko bribed four judges of the supreme Court with a whooping some of N100,000,000 each in order to halt it’s judgement on the pre- election suit by Isaac Alfa sometimes last year.

Space constraints may deter my urge to x-ray the saga between Air Marshall Isaac Alfa and distinguished senator Aidoko Ali Usman but one disgusting fact posterity may not allow if ignored is the fact that Alfa ambitiously gambled with Edward Onoja and cohorts in order to secure justice. But if I must balance the equation, Alfa’s last-minute move is just a tradition everyone must adopt especially if the business of politics must thrive. His concordat with Edward Onoja which hierarchically introduced the influence of the state governor, Minister of Justice and finally the presiding judge was a perfect political permutation. At least the mission was accomplished even though the future is uncertain.

Our Democracy has been muddled. The business of legislation is now clustered in one-man’s show which neither regard the rule of law nor enforce common will. The judiciary has been cloned into private entity with the outputs favoring an individual.

Those accusing me of raising dust among our party men can now understand that Aidoko has no place in the heart of any party man or the PDP itself going by the odious selfishness and permutations that had reduced Kogi eastern legislation to a shit hole. How can Aidoko sit and watch while Dino Melaye and his counterpart from the central strive for Ajaokuta steel? How can we watch while our Constituency allowances is been diverted and use for legal cases? How can we fold our hands while myopically inclined, self-serving and self-aggrandizement hold sway to the detriment of common will and aspirations?

To prevent further rots, Aidoko and his handlers must be called to order, at least to explain their preferences between the hovering legal quests and legislative business. So that if the need be, we must shop for possible replacement. A black goat they say is better captured in the day time. (PROPHETIC declaration)

God Bless Kogi East.


– John Paul, writes from Lokoja, Kogi State. He can be reached on 07064258752

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Peter Odili finds new love at 70, By James Ume



For Peter Otunuya Odili, it is remarkable that the day he was born, August 15, was the same day the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ was assumed into Heaven, body and soul. As an ardent Catholic, for whom that day is a holy day of obligation, just like a Sunday, the significance of the coincidental event is not lost on him as it actually reinforces his faith which was given a shine at two Catholic schoaols- Sacred Heart School, Odoakpu, Onitsha and later at the famous Christ the King College, (CKC) Onitsha both in the present day Anambra State.

It was at CKC that his leadership qualities manifested that early in life. He was the Senior Prefect and College Captain of the school. In his own words, Odili said, “From cradle, through primary school, and admission into one of the best secondary schools of our time, I can say without any shred of doubt that the foundational impact of secondary school education is the fulcrum of anyone’s life later.

That’s what CKC did for me. I won’t be who I am if I did not pass through the walls of CKC.” It is in recognition of his religious piety that the Pope recognised and honoured him with the prestigious title of Knight Commander of the Order of St Sylvester which made him a member of the Front Row in the Order of Catholic Knights. For those who know, that was a rare and hugely sought after recognition by the Vatican.

Like most adventurous and ambitious young men of his age, he was about to move on to a tertiary institution in search of the proverbial fleece when the civil war broke out and temporarily truncated that ambition. He was, first, a refugee as the war progressed with its tendency to dislocate and disjoint life and living. That brought its difficulties and challenges which compelled him to submit to being recruited as a soldier.  Here, again, his brilliance shone through.

As in CKC where leadership position was on merit, his performance in the army course during which he took top position, guaranteed for the young man assignment that put him in a place where characters are moulded and minds trained. The young Peter was deployed as an instructor in the school of infantry instead of being sent to the warfront.  The life of discipline that military training imbues smoothened the diamond in the rough that he was seen to be by his mentors and set him on an upward leadership trajectory that he sustained till date.

The war over, his academic zeal was reignited and he began schoolwork as an indigent medical student at the country’s foremost tertiary institution, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He later embarked on the holiday trade of travelling abroad to earn some money which immediately turned him into a campus big boy. On graduation from the Medical School of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, he pursued a post-graduate work in Tropical Medicine at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.

Like one with the fabled Midas’ touch, Peter Odili has proved to be a quintessential family man who has tenaciously clung to his first love and charming campus ‘bus’, Mary Ukaego, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria with whom he has sired children and grandchildren. As a titled chief, it is an abomination to count the products of his fertile and productive loins. In appreciation for the role Mary had played and is still playing in his life, he is, till date, still paying her bride price to her people of Mbaise clan in Imo State. He said so himself.

Mary is his first love. I stand to be corrected. And Medicine follows in that order. He put into practice his training as a medical doctor and won his spurs in that field. Regardless, he is determined to leave a more enduring legacy for posterity.  He may have scaled down his practice, still he has found new love and is striving to give something back to that profession that made him what he is as well as to society for its benevolence. The establishment of PAMO University of Medical Sciences in Port Harcourt, the first privately owned university of Medical Sciences, not only in Nigeria but in West Africa as a whole, is part of a heartfelt desire in that direction. It is an institution designed strictly for the training of professionals in the field of medicine. It is a place he set up to mentor the younger generation who will raise the banner further aloft when he must have played his part and moved on.

The University is starting with five faculties – Allied and Health Sciences, Basic Medical Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical sciences. The university will strive to achieve global excellence in terms of teaching, research and community services. It is set to produce graduates in different fields of medicine who are not only competent in their profession but also entrepreneurial, ICT driven and that are worthy in character and learning. He has vowed to leave it as an enduring testimony to the humanity in appreciation for the benefits he derived from serving mankind and a worthy one at that.

It is not possible to discuss the nation’s democratic resurgence after years of military interregnum without reserving a place of honour for the man Peter Odili. For him, participation in politics was more of a call to service as he can be rightly said to be an accomplished man while functioning as a medical doctor in the state of his birth. He was elected and sworn in as the third Governor of Rivers State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on May 29, 1999. He served two terms which terminated on May 29, 2007. Years after, his developmental strides have remained a measuring rod for those who took over the mantle of leadership from him in that state that is, to all intents, Nigeria’s treasure trove.

A former Minister of Foreign Affairs, late Ambassador Mathew Mbu, in his autobiography published post-humously, said of Odili,” he was a more prepared and preferred candidate for the office of either the President or Vice President but was betrayed by the party hierarchy”. Such is how far the cruelty of fate can go. However, following that setback, he decided on maintaining a studied silence preferring to watch matters that affect the nation unfold from his vantage position as an elder statesman. In that self-imposed political hibernation, Odili has remained consistent and steadfast in his political relations and persuasion, a predisposition that has distinguished him as a reputable leader who, by his conduct, is worthy of emulation.

Odili has packed much action into his life in 70 years to actually influence the course of history. My family, therefore, join his family in wishing him a resounding happy birthday and many more years of fruitful and enduring service to Nigeria in particular and mankind in general.

Ume wrote in from Abuja

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DSO Nigeria: Beyond Devil’s Advocates​,​ by Hamid Hendrix



Freedom without responsibility continues to pose a great challenge to the realization of the full potentials of our democratic dispensation and it is rather unfortunate that foremost beneficiaries of such liberty are too often also the major culprits. Though measures have been taken to curb the excesses of abusers of civil liberties it is obvious that the more needs to be done to safeguard public interest.

One area where this menace continues to rear its ugly head is in the rowdy ranks of human rights advocacy groups which were once credited with facilitating the successful liberation of several African nations from the scourge of oppressive military regimes but are now becoming misfits in democratic settings due to loss of focus and desperation to remain relevant.

Rather than shifting their attention from the initial agenda of campaigning for democracy to the equally relevant aspects of ensuring free and fair elections and dividends of democracy, several of the advocacy groups have been overtaken by pecuniary impulses that turned them into rentable rabble-rousers, willingly lending themselves to the begrudged and disgruntled elements. Such groups end up mired in miscellaneous advocacy of discordant diatribes as they drift into charlatanism under the counterfeit canopy of human rights advocacy.

A typical example of such mischievous misadventures masquerading as human rights advocates is the recent statement issued by Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) claiming that “under the President’s nose a minister allegedly mismanaged N2 billion from the National Broadcasting Commission for digitisation of broadcasting but till now both the minister of information and DG of NBC are walking the corridors of power free.”

This single sentence of spurious speculation casting unsubstantiated aspersions on the unblemished reputation of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Malam Ishaq Modibbo Kawu and attempting to discredit the highly–rated successful switch over to digital broadcasting (DS0) in Nigeria was purported to be an exercise in human rights advocacy ! Incredulously, this fabricated defamation was an isolated insertion lacking relevance or corroboration in a libellous list of politically-motivated wild allegations against the person and administration of President Muhammadu Buhari contrived by one Emmanuel Onwubiko, coordinator of the so-called human rights group.

It is manifestly outlandish to portray the deliberate misrepresentation of the nationally acclaimed resuscitation and diligent implementation of the previously paralysed DSO project and callous assassination of the character of the two government functionaries responsible for such an achievement as a human rights infringement, just as it is absurd to smear the hitch-free scheduled switch over to digital broadcasting across the country with the brush of “mismanagement” of a bogus two billion naira. These malicious distortions of verifiable facts amount to gross violations of the principle of public accountability, which is a fundamental right of citizens in a democracy.

To set the records straight, it is worth recalling that the DSO was formally launched in Jos, Plateau State, in April 2016, followed by the FCT, Ilorin, Kaduna, Enugu and Osogbo while the process of installation of equipment for the roll out in Gombe and Delta states have reached advanced stages. The NBC expects to achieve DSO roll out in 12 states soon. This impressive performance was the outcome of zealous commitment of Minister Lai Mohammed and NBC DG Modibbo Kawu to break the four-year jinx that stalled the project prior to the debut of the Buhari Administration’s change agenda.

For HURIWA to single out this glorious chapter in the remarkable record of progress in the nation’s broadcast industry for a vicious vendetta is a pathetic pointer to the ulterior motives that have hijacked the group and falsified its declared mission. In fact, a cursory review of its recent outings reveals a revolting surrender to the most ridiculous and irrational advocacies imaginable, such as campaigning against the ban on production of the much abused codeine cough syrups because it has “led to great financial misfortunes for over 30 legitimate pharmaceutical companies,” urging the Federal Government “not to stop expectant women and nursing mothers from participating in National Youth Service Corps (NYSC),” appealing to “ the government of the United States and the European Union to impose sanctions on Nigeria” and dismissing the terrorist classification of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB “ as a charade and a plot to initiate violent crackdown on the members of this substantially unarmed and peaceful group”.

Even the EFCC has dismissed the occasional anti-corruption posturing of HURIWA as “ethnic and political agenda by some mischief makers masquerading as human rights writers” in one of its rebuttals of the pseudo human rights advocacy group’s capricious campaigns. This was also endorsed by Emmanuel Otairu of the Centre for International and Strategy Studies, Abuja whose article titled “HURIWA As IPOB’s NGO Arm” in The Nation edition of September 18, 2017 concluded that it was “ a tool for extortion, paid activism, ethnic propaganda mouthpiece and most recently a terror organization’s NGO arm”. The steadily expanding coverage of the DSO in Nigeria under the diligent implementation of Information Minister Lai Mohammed and DG NBC Ishaq Modibbo Kawu has surely switched off anomalous advocacy groups like HURIWA along with analogue noise.

-​ HAMID HENDRIX is a communications writer in Abuja

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