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Why do many political opponents dread the All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, so much so that in their wishful thinking they hope he gives way or simply quit the stage? Why should political contestation get to the point where our so-called political leaders would be wishing their competitors dead if they are actually in politics for the public good? These are some of the questions that have agitated my mind following the repeated unfounded rumours about Asiwaju Tinubu’s health status. In the last few months, the former Lagos governor has died many times over in the reckoning of these nefarious persons.

Each time Asiwaju travels, the next thing these detractors, who abound in PDP as in APC, do is to shamelessly claim he is seriously ill undergoing surgery or that he has died. Yet, each time they have made such blatant claims, the lie has always blown up on their very faces, as they have always been proven wrong.

Surprisingly, some of these evil persons would also claim the APC national leader is no longer relevant in the scheme of things in the party he helped form. And you wonder: if he is no longer important within the APC, why dissipating energies about him? Why hoping he dies each time he steps out of the country?

These people have been in this despicable game for quite a while. They have perpetrated so much hatred and told too many lies such that to track them can be a herculean task. Let me attempt a recall of a few of these. In April this year, when we went for Umrah (lesser Hajj) in Saudi Arabia, they brought out a photo-shopped photograph that portrayed Asiwaju in very bad light. The picture was so bad that you would wonder whether it had any feature of him. All that these malicious people wanted to demonstrate is Asiwaju is so badly ill or incapacitated that he cannot even aspire to lead this country, talk less mount the exalted office. Ironically, at the same lesser Hajj, Asiwaju, who the malevolent imagined dead, effortlessly performed tawaf (going round the holy Kabbah) several times and underwent all the rites of Umrah. I was in that entourage to Umrah along with some of his friends and associates including Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola, former EFCC Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and former National Welfare Officer of APC, Alhaji Ibrahim Masari, among others.

Elucidating on how we arrived in Medina around 4 am, how tired, weary and needing sleep we all proceeded to Mecca, a distance of 4-and-a-half hours, that same morning we landed in the kingdom, and how on eventual arrival in Mecca we immediately headed for the Kabbah, would help put a lie to the claim about Asiwaju’s ill-health.

The journey from Medina to Mecca by road was very strenuous. Virtually all of us slept. Not Asiwaju. He was awake throughout, conversing with the driver, Mustapha, and ensuring he was awake and alert for the duration of the drive. We arrived in Mecca without any hassle, quickly checked into a hotel, and then headed for the Kabbah for tawaf and other rites of Umrah. Leading the charge, Asiwaju Tinubu painlessly performed the seven-round tawaf and shortly after, being a Friday, it was time for Jummah. We left Medina immediately we arrived because way back in that holy city, Asiwaju had insisted he would like to observe Jummah in Mecca.

For the duration of the trip, Asiwaju’s hotel suite in Mecca was turned into a Mecca of sort with governors, ministers, other top dignitaries and Islamic clerics coming to visit him. Overlooking the Kabbah, it was in his living room that we were observing some of the prayers and making supplications to Allah.

Many took selfies with him with their cameras and phones unencumbered. He allowed as many as wanted to take photographs with him to do so, an opportunity some abused. An example was someone who either unknowingly deployed a phone with a bad camera or deliberately doctored the photograph, which was now used to achieve nefarious ends, as depicted by that damaging picture of Asiwaju in Saudi.

Again, not long after we returned from Umrah and the former Lagos governor undertook a trip abroad, I think to France and UK, there were also unfounded reports that he had been hospitalised in Paris for alleged coronavirus attack and had even purportedly undergone an operation. Some proceeded from there to claim he had died. Now, Asiwaju has never tested positive for COVID-19. Not at that alleged time, not at present. For the life of me, how could someone who had never been positive for coronavirus be hospitalised for it or undergone a surgery for complications arising from the virus he never contracted? I volunteered this much not to disparage many who had contracted the virus or those presently battling the dreaded menace.

Each time we felt we had over-exposed ourselves or someone had contracted the virus in the team, we would call for coronavirus tests and no one is exempted. Asiwaju and some of us must have undergone close to 15 COVID-19 tests each. Some of us, including this writer, had even tested positive for the virus at one point or another. Asiwaju has never experienced it once.

The fake news about Asiwaju’s alleged ill health or death is something we have become accustomed to each time he travels out of the country such that it has become a joke of sorts. Indeed, we had a hilarious encounter when he embarked on the extant travel some two weeks ago. As I made to leave him at the Lagos airport, I said: “Sir, now that you are traveling again, when these mischievous guys begin to say you are either dying or dead, what do I say to them?” We had a good laugh. He then said: “Just say I have travelled and don’t mind whatever they say.”

So the speculation trailing the extant trip is what it is: fake, unfounded news. It bears repeating, however, to state that Asiwaju is hale and hearty. He is not in any hospital. He does not have any medical situation that would require hospitalization either in Nigeria or abroad. It is sad that perpetrators of this mischief are not deterred by the fact that each time this fake news has been propagated they have been proven wrong.

However, there are a few points to make at this juncture. Firstly, some speak magisterially on the state of health of Asiwaju Tinubu. They say he doesn’t enjoy good health. Are they his doctors? Are they saying they are privy to his medical records? Pray, how could an unhealthy man muster the strength and energy to go through the rigors of tawaf and all rites associated with Umrah immediately after a six-hour flight and over four-hour road trip? Those perpetrating this evil think they are unknown. They hide their identities behind the anonymity of the social media. But we have a fair idea who they are. Their luck will run out soon as they would be exposed sooner than later!

Again, these people who try to rubbish Asiwaju’s health, peddling rumours that he is dead forget that the matter of life and death is within the realm of God. Not of any individual. They should not attempt to play God. They conveniently forgot what many dubbed the Zik’s curse. Recall that Nigeria’s first president and one of our foremost leaders, late Dr. NnamdiAzikiwe, was rumoured dead I think around November 1989. Some prominent print media organizations and television stations published the story without conducting due diligence and checks. With banner headlines cast in impressive adjectives befitting the Great Zik, they proudly proclaimed the nationalist dead. Some of Zik’s associates, some of whom had not seen him in years, particularly the late Chief RBK Okafor, also fell for it, ranting about their close relationship with the late nationalist and how they were with him in his last moments.

Reminiscing on this episode in an article titled “The Day Zik Didn’t Die” published by THE NATION newspaper on November 8, 2016, celebrated columnist, Professor Olatunji Dare, had this to say: “Out-of-work politicians saw an opening and moved in swiftly. A First Republic legislator and former stalwart of the Zikist Movement, Chief RBK Okafor, panting as if he had sprinted all the way from Nsukka to Rutam House in Lagos, narrated breathlessly how he had cradled his “beloved Zik” in his arms and how, even as his life ebbed, the great nationalist had said to him: “Chief RBK Okafor, my political son, remember that I am a Pan-Africanist and should be given a Pan-African burial.”

As it turned out, Zik’s rumoured death was false. It was fake news. Zik did not die. At least he did not die at that time. He read that obituary in the newspapers. He also reportedly cursed those people grandstanding over his purported death. And one by one, they died before him. Zik went on to live for another seven years. The long and short of all of this is those wishing Asiwaju dead, hoping to profit from it should be very careful. They should be wary of the wrath of God.

Having stated all of that, my final point is media stakeholders must meet minds together and devise a way to halt the excesses of the social media. We must help to stem this menace of fake news, hate speech and abusive language. There must be a form of regulation for this nonsense going on, on social media. I’m totally in support of peer regulation, regulation within the media industry itself, but we must scale up enforcement of this regulation. Why don’t we draft the regulations ourselves and approach the National Assembly for legislation to back them up to make these regulations institutional as some professionals have also suggested?

Rahman, Media Adviser to AsiwajuTinubu, was formerly Editor, THISDAY on Saturday and Sunday newspapers.

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News

Understanding Ebun Adegboruwa’s self-adulation, inconsistencies on Lagos panel’s illogical verdict

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Steve Omoriayewa

The report of the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry and Restitution, which was submitted, last Monday, to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has continued to generate mixed reactions from residents and those with vested interests outside the State.

It is not unexpected that the recommendations of the panel, led by Justice Dorcas Okuwobi, have been trailed by strong statements of support and condemnation by those who, prior to the panel’s final verdict, had locked in protracted arguments to validate or invalidate alleged carnage at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.

Of course, this vexed issue returned to be a dominant topic of debate, despite the latitude of time allotted to the panel to probe into the incident at the toll gate and produce a believable evidence. The report turned in by the panel, sadly, has invoked another round of controversies and brought out more puzzles than answers to claim a massacre.

However, this is not the crux of this piece. Rather, it is the disturbing outburst of a member of the panel, who has been on a binge of self-adulation and pathetic display of self-glorification, speaking from both sides of the mouth as though, he is a Praetorian Guard for the law and morality. In all, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa has consistently displayed inconsistencies in his attempts to whip up sentiments, setting aside the basic principle of the law, which is evidence and going for emotions and sentiments.

Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN!

No doubt, Adegboruwa is a sound and venerated star in the legal galaxy. His nomination and eventual enlistment into the panel raised people’s hopes and expectations, given his pedigree in human rights activism. But the legal practitioner failed woefully to prove his mettle and support evidence-based report.

That the report of the panel is being torn apart by surfeit of inconsistencies by people whose hopes were dashed by the sloppiness of the panel to establish a massacre are beginning to question Adegboruwa’s professional integrity.

To begin with, since Monday when the panel submitted its report, Adegboruwa had issued series of scathing, yet contradictory statements to railroad Lagos State government into adopting the blemished report which many now describe as “predetermined conclusions”.

The statements are a face-saving attempt by the petulant lawyer to cover for his professional negligence after the reality dawned on him that people would question the panel members for a report saturated with fundamental errors and unsubstantiated claims.

Less than an hour after Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos, received the report, Adegboruwa released a statement on his social media page, threatening to reveal the content of the panel submission should the Governor make an attempt to cover-up.

“I will…keep observing the turn of events and at the appropriate time, one may be forced to state the FULL contents of the report if the promises made are not fulfilled. I can NEVER and will NEVER subscribe to anything that would amount to covering up the report of the Panel,” Adegboruwa wrote.

For any discerning person, that statement came across as hasty and preemptive. Ironically, Adegboruwa, in the same statement, attested that the Governor did not interfere throughout the period of the panel sitting. Why the inconsistencies? In one breath, you doubted the integrity of the Government to do the right thing, in another applauded the Governor for his uprightness.

If the Panel members had been accorded such indisputable latitude to be independent, why then would Adegboruwa insinuate and subtly accuse the Government of an attempt to cover up? This is highly offensive.

Let’s now look at the gross display of professional ineptitude by the Senior Advocate of Nigeria when he said in his first press release via his Facebook page that Government should just release the recommendations of the flawed panel report without mindful of an existing law backing the setting up of such panel.

Ebun wrote: “It is my view that Lagos State having appeared before the Panel as a party, having tendered documents before the Panel and led witnesses to take a position on the Incident of the Lekki Toll Gate, it will be unfair and improper for Lagos State to be a judge in its own cause, by seeking to review the report of the Panel. However, the Governor explained to me that this would only be done to enable the government implement the findings and recommendations of the Panel and not to tamper with it or mutilate it. I believe His Excellency.”

But Ebun clearly forgot to read the provisions of the Tribunal Law 2015 in arriving at his conclusion on the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses and Other Matters.

However, Ebun made a quick turn around and called for the White Paper after the erudite lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Abiodun Owonikoko appeared on Arise TV to set the record straight and reminded him of the legal necessity for the White Paper.

Another flip to Adegboruwa’s inconsistencies is seen here where he said ” it will be unfair and improper for Lagos State to be a judge in its own cause, by seeking to review the report of the Panel”. Same man later confessed his vested interest in Lekki Toll Plaza. He wrote:

“My principled struggles in respect of toll fee collection started way back from 2011, almost nine years before the Panel was inaugurated.”
The above then places huge moral burdens on Adegboruwa on the question of what qualifies him to serve in a committee on matters affecting the Lekki Toll Plaza if he felt as stated above that Lagos State Government should not review his flawed reports on the same Lekki Toll Gate, because it has interest in it. Ebun is simply inconsistent!

What about the oath of confidentiality sworn to by members of the Panel? The Lagos Lawyer breached that oath with his rush for media accolades and self-aggrandisement.

Also, the pugnacious lawyer, whom we expect not to be told the procedure of such exercise, made an indicting conclusion when he wrote: “Nigerians should demand for justice against all culprits who have been named in detail, in our report.” Is this to set the tone for the expected White Paper from Lagos Government?

Now that holes are daily being picked in the report, should Adegboruwa still be taken seriously as a lawyer?

The report was ‘leaked’ to the press on the same Monday by a member and less than an hour after Adegboruwa released his press statement! Adegboruwa, who apparently wanted to deflect attention away from himself as the culprit, quickly issued another statement (November 18), saying members of the panel were being vilified unjustly by those suspected to be government agents.

Must anyone work or have affiliation with the government to decipher the falsehood packaged as independent recommendations of the panel? Adegboruwa probably could not adequately dissect the disappointment of his admirers who expected him and other members of the panel to be thorough in their findings and submission.

As it is, the panel’s recommendations are not convincing enough to debunk the insinuation that the so-called “Lekki massacre” is nothing but a weaponised narrative being used to blackmail the government.

Given his strong ideological stance, Adegboruwa’s inclusion in the panel was well applauded and expected to stimulate unbiased inquiry and adherence to ethical standards throughout the sitting. But, Ebun was said to have been absent at the panel more than six months consecutively than the time he was present. Yet, he gleefully appended his signature to the conclusions of the panel he barely attended.

While offering weak explanation for his absent days, Adegboruwa claimed it was an understanding between him and the Governor upon his enlistment to be a part-time member at the sitting.

This argument punctured Adegboruwa’s sense of self-glorification which has been on the display, albeit pathetically, after the panel turned in the report last Monday. How sensible does it sound to Adegboruwa himself, that an absentee judge go all out to pontificate over a verdict he was not fully present in deciding?

Those who believe Adegboruwa betrayed the ethical standards of his calling and personal ideology are not necessarily saying that the legal practitioner has curried pecuniary gain; they are rather disappointed by the fact that the panel’s recommendations relied mostly on unsubstantiated narratives which time has exposed as tissue of lies. Yet the ‘respected’ lawyer appended his signature and deployed all his intellect to support, justify and make attempts to railroad the embarrassing claims into becoming content of the government’s White Paper.

We must also not lose sight of Adegboruwa’s attempts to railroad the Government into accepting the garbage he concocted into the failed report hook, line and sinker without interrogation by saying:

“I urge the government to focus on the findings and far-reaching recommendations contained in the report, in order to pursue the laudable objectives of setting up the Panel to achieve true healing and reconciliation, instead of seeking to demonize Panel members and their report or to evade responsibility.”

By every standard, this is an act of professional carelessness on the part of Adegboruwa and being haughty cannot make him to look like someone who has a mind of his own. He pledged to be thorough in the discharge of his duty at the panel, but his involvement has compounded our confusion rather than establishing the truth.

Finally, Adegboruwa should learn something from this exercise that the truth is constant. You cannot manufacture what did happen. It must have happened before you come forward to report it, with fact based evidence that it truly happened. Ebun should stop his ridiculous tirade in his attempts to cover up the mess he brought upon himself.

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Opinion

Spotlight on Olayemi Olamiju, Africa’s prince of marketing and communications

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*It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?*

– My name is Olayemi Olamiju Emmanuel, fondly referred to as the prince of marketing and communications. I am the last of four boys. I spent most of my childhood on the streets of Agege where I developed an interest in understanding people and their reactions to situations. This interest pushed me to apply for Psychology at the university of Lagos where I had my Bachelor’s Degree. My choice of discipline laid a foundation for my career in marketing and communications. My debut into marketing and communications was as a creative director at a 20 year old advertising agency. Despite being the youngest on the team, I was the lead. Many years later, I am proud to say that I am a seasoned marketing and communications experts with many brands’ success stories to my portfolio.

I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?

– The first sets of challenges I ever faced was financial. My mom was a single parent so I didn’t grow up within a complete family structure. We had no accommodation so my brothers and I had to stay with different church members while she lived in the church. The instability associated with spending most of my childhood in the homes of other people was also one of the challenges that I faced early in life. As as result of the financial state of my family, I had to take on odd jobs throughout university. To be able to fund my education, pay fees, buy textbooks and also sustain myself, I took on jobs as a waiter and attendant at different events every weekend. All these I did with joy because I strongly believed in the future and where I was headed. I’m thankful for these experiences because it was the different encounters I had with people, the different situations I faced, that shaped me into the man that I am today. I’m not there yet and I know it keeps getting better. In addition to this, I believe in self accountability so I’d admit that when I started out on this path, it was difficult to stay disciplined. Discipline was one of the challenges I faced internally. Persevering and making sacrifices towards your greater cause isn’t an easy journey but as soon as I was able to hack that, it was easier to face the external challenges outside my control.

Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?

– I am a trained marketing and communications expert with years of practical experience building brands. My goal is to ensure that African consumers access the right products and services that not only suits their needs but also makes their life better. If I were to define what I do in two words, I’d say Delivering Quality. Africans are relentless people with potentials and capacity to do anything regardless of any situation. Even though we add value to the world, we do not get enough products and services specifically made to solve our problems or help us thrive. My goal is to identify and create products that help build capacity. I help brands identify the opportunities that exist in the problem solving market and how they can leverage it to give Africans the quality products they deserve. From my years of experience studying the African consumers, the pattern remains the same. They just want to live a much easier life, when brands identify these everyday problems and provided a solution to it, they will not only win the consumers’ pockets but their hearts as well. What I do differently is bridge the gap between the African audience and products that make their lives easier, ultimately helping brands deliver quality while achieving their marketing goals. The impact I have made so far and am still making with brands and the African consumers is why I have been referred by many as the prince of marketing and communications.

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?

– Keep adding value. Keep moving, keep evolving, keep growing. In every level or phase of your life, the ability to adapt will stand you out. And by evolving, it means you are becoming a key player, learning how to add value and tapping into opportunities. Every day, different opportunities that can be leveraged arise in every industry. Like tech for example, the new oil, when you keep evolving, you’re able to diversify and maintain your relevance, beyond sectors, beyond industries. When you keep evolving, you’re never left behind. And in a constantly evolving world, never ever be comfortable being an onlooker. Participate actively and positively, at all times.

Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?

– Success to me is measured by how much impact I make. Success for me is knowing that there is someone out there who was inspired by me, by my story and what I do. Success is going to bed with the satisfaction of my impact on someone else. It could even be as simple as making someone smile or making the other person feel better. Success is knowing that by my actions, I have passed a baton of inspiration to the next person who in turn will pass his or hers to another person, creating a chain of unending positive impact in the world.

What’s next for you? *

– First, what’s next for me is to keep inspiring people. Doing the little things that I can for others within my little corner of the world, without expecting anything in return. We do not preach this enough but love is the most important thing. Helping people grow is my motto and that will always be the number one agenda on my list. In delivering quality through marketing and communications, I also intend to diversify my services and work with more local and international brands in the coming months, solving the problems of everyday Africans one at a time.

Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more?

– I’m active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. On all my social media platforms, I am Olayemi Olamiju or @olayemiolamiju and always open to collaborations and mutually beneficial connections.

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