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YAHAYA BELLO’S AWAITED YULETIDE HAMPER FOR ONUKABA ADINOYI-OJO

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*By Tunde Olusunle*

For the many awards he has won in recent weeks, I should begin by felicitating with Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State. Yes, last month, he was conferred the “presidential award on security” for ensuring minimum security breaches within the space and span of a geopolity bounded by nine states and the federal capital territory, (FCT). And more recently, just last week in fact, Kogi State under Bello’s leadership was also bedecked with a three-layered neckwear by the World Bank, under the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability, (SFTAS) Programme. According to a report presented by the state commissioner for finance, budget and planning, Ashiru Idris to the state executive council, Kogi State reportedly embraced the scheme in 2018.

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It “seeks to improve and strengthen fiscal management and entrench transparency and accountability mechanisms that ensure effective utilisation of public funds for improved public service delivery.” The document posits that Kogi State government received three awards for impressive performances in three categories, namely: “fiscal transparency and accountability,” “debt sustainability” and “domestic revenue mobilisation.” The awards must mean a lot to the Bello system, owing to the ear to ear grin which Idris the state’s exchequer has been wearing in the last few days. Our expectation and prayer though, is that these laurels and souvenirs translate into substantial and tangible reflections in the individual economies of our people, and their buying powers in the marketplace.

Governor Bello will surely be going into the yuletide season which is already at our doorsteps, a happy man. Yes, the imminence of Christmas is reinforced by sprouting decorations around the Abuja metropolis, even as hawkers on the streets thrust sundry merchandise into our faces at traffic intersections. Age-old Christmas tunes are also being played in public facilities, while in instances, dressmakers are rushing to meet deadlines. This is despite the fact that sartorial accoutrements are not primary concerns for the mass of 133 million Nigerians, relegated to abject poverty by the incumbent administration. All of these, however, reaffirm the inevitable approach of that season when christendom, indeed the world commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.

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As Bello savours the festive season with family and friends, there are homesteads which will not have the luxury of marking the period. This is particularly so when they reminiscence on the absence of people very dear to them. At a time like this, one’s mind calls up the memory of a consummate media and communications practitioner, a prolific playwright and prominent *Ebira* son, Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo. He left us in the evening of Sunday March 5, 2017, while returning from the celebration of Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Onukaba alighted from the vehicle he was travelling in and ran into the bush, to avoid armed robbers who had taken over the Ilesha-Akure highway, that evening.

A vehicle which escaped from the marauders, lost control and landed ferociously on him, on the spot he found refuge in the bushes. That was how we lost one of Nigeria’s most committed, most insightful writers and intellectuals. Governor Bello visited Onukaba’s family in Ihima, Kogi State, for the “third day” Muslim prayers. He was informed at the event, that Onukaba who he had long known by reputation, and who was his elder brother within the African context, died without a home of his own. Exasperated and concerned, Bello promised to address the matter, expeditiously. The governor indeed requested to be promptly advised on accommodation options for the family of the late Onukaba.

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A team from Dr Onukaba’s group of friends, drawn principally from the membership of the *Adinoyi-Ojo Onukaba Endowment Fund,* set out to work. The group was chaired by Mallam Yahaya Yusuf, a retired Director from the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, (MFCT), who is both kinsman, to Bello and the late Onukaba. Other members of the group included: Prof Maxwell Gidado, SAN, OON; Dr Umar Ardo; Mrs Franca Aiyetan; Mallam Sadiq Ibrahim Adaviriku; and I. By every stretch of imagination, this is a very distinguished and respectable assemblage. The team toured several housing estates in Phases 2 and 3 of the Abuja developmental layouts and came up with suggestions and recommendations forwarded to Bello.

I was in Lokoja early June 2017, on the invitation of the Kogi State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, (NUJ). Fortuitously, Governor Bello attended the same event and I had the privilege of sharing the high table with him. Presidential spokesman, my colleague and friend, Garba Shehu; Former Kogi State Commissioner of Police, AIG Wilson Inalegwu, (Rtd), and Secretary to the Kogi State Government, (SSG), Dr Shade Ayoade, were also on the distinguished table. The event was held at the *Confluence Beach Hotel* on Ganaja Road. I slipped a small note to Bello, and followed him to his car when he was departing the venue of the event. I managed to extract a sentence from him to the effect that his “Chief of Staff,” (COS), who at the time was Edward Onoja, “will fix an appointment” for Gidado, SAN and I to see him in Abuja.

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June 2022 made it five full years since we’ve been expectant of the materialisation of the Kogi helmsman’s promise. March 2023 will mark six years of Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo’s departure. It is usually convenient to accuse, blame, castigate, upbraid people in authority for not delivering on their own very pledges. Circumstances precipitating such forgetfulness are rarely sufficiently distilled before aspersions are cast. People in high office deserve our collective understanding, sympathies and assistance. To the glory of God, I’ve been privileged to have served three state governors and one president in professional capacities. I should therefore have a fair understanding and insights on the issues.

To be sure, I was Director of Information and Public Affairs to pioneer civilian governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu, back in 1992. I equally served his two subsequent successors, Paul Omeruo and Bzigu Afakirya as Chief Press Secretary. I’ve equally been opportuned to work with Nigeria’s first President in the fourth republic, Olusegun Obasanjo. I’ve found in these various instances that people in top public offices can do with our appreciation of their limitations and are deserving of our support and encouragement.

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From the manner Governor Bello spontaneously rallied to the aid of the family of the police outrider, Aminu Salihu, who died on his convoy on Monday March 15, 2021, he is a potentially compassionate person. Bello paid a condolence visit to the departed Salihu’s family Saturday March 20, 2021. He did not only provide immediate monetary palliatives to the family, he promised to provide two houses for the family of the deceased, who left a mother, two widows and five children behind. Bello equally committed to providing scholarships for Salihu’s children. I’m told the Kogi chief executive has since delivered on his promise of accommodation for the late police inspector’s family. He procured two houses for them in Kubwa, a satellite town in the FCT. Salihu was from Katsina State.

Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo left behind a young wife, Maimunat, and young children, namely Asuku, Ebikere and Onyeche. He also adopted Zulaiha, his paternal niece as his daughter, and she was an integral part of his nuclear family, whether he was in Nigeria or on holidays abroad. Courtesy of the *Adinoyi-Ojo Onukaba Endowment Fund* established and substantially funded by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, GCON, the education of the children has proceeded seamlessly. Asuku who will be 20 next February, has been on a fully funded, 100% scholarship at Atiku’s American University of Nigeria, (AUN), Yola, owned by the presidential flagbearer of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP). He is in the 400 level class, studying software engineering.

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Ebikere his immediate younger sister, who will be 18 in July 2023, was christened after her late maternal grandmother from Edo State. *Mama* died in an automobile accident between Okene and Lokoja, in 2005, while travelling to Abuja to check up on her daughter, Ebikere’s mother, who was carrying Ebikere’s pregnancy at the time. Ebikere was born in the US and has activated her status to this effect, courtesy of her maternal uncles, Festus and Kenneth Ogirri, who both live in Houston. Ebikere is in college, preparatory to a switch to the university system. Onyeche, the baby of the family will be seven on Christmas Day! In Yorubaland, *Abiodun,* (born during a festivity), would be her spontaneous name. She was barely one when her father died. Zulaiha is at the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State.

Onukaba’s family has relocated, nomad-style, from one rented accommodation to another, from one district of Abuja to another, in the past six years. Such regular disruptions are not good enough for children growing up. They can easily be destabilised with regards to cognitive growth, mental balance and academic performance. Onukaba was an uncharacteristically spartan personality. He devoted his life and career to the focused pursuit of his profession and the happiness of others, to the detriment of his minimal material comfort. Knowing that Governor Yahaya Bello’s good heart as practically demonstrated when a police outrider died in his convoy, I’m confident he can surprise the family of his kinsman, Onukaba, this Christmas season. Nothing will be more heartening and gratifying to the memory of our departed brother. For “Christmas girl Onyeche,” there can be no better birthday present! Should this happen, there will be no need for the renewal of the rents of the family’s present accommodation, due December 31, 2022.

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I’ve engaged on a number of occasions with Ashiru Idris, Governor Bello’s very zestful and hardworking finance commissioner on the subject. Ashiru, my younger brother back home in Isanlu, a core loyalist and untiring defender of his principal, has been very accessible. Onukaba’s family and I will be glad to work with him to execute the Kogi governor’s mandate to this effect. It will be Bello’s pleasant honour to present the keys to the house to Onukaba’s family, to public aplomb.
Congratulations once again, Mr Governor, on your outpouring of awards and recognitions, this season!
*Avoo pataki.*

*Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author, is a Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE)*

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After giving my wife, N100k, she lodged in hotel with her lover for 4days, man tells Court

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Mr Hakeem Olarenwaju has narrated his ordeal to a court, how he gave his wife, N100,000 and she lodged in a hotel with her lover for four days.

To this end, Olarenwaju, has approached Grade A Customary Court, Mapo, Ibadan, Oyo State, seeking that it dissolves the 16-year-old union between him and his wife, Fatima Olarenwaju.

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Hakeem told the court that his wife whom he met as a single parent started misbehaving a few years into their marriage.

The plaintiff stated that he went into marriage with the defendant despite his father’s disapproval of their relationship, and that today he is regretting his action.

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Hakeem explained that Fatima who was initially loving, dedicated and obedient, suddenly changed and became defiant despite allowing her to bring to his house the child from her first marriage.

According to the plaintiff, the defendant constantly denied him sex and rubbed shoulders with him in the house.

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He further stated that she took to leaving home without his knowledge and consent, adding that there were times she travelled without informing him.

Hakeem added that he later found out that she was having an affair with another man whom she sometimes lodged with.

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Fatima, he added, finally moved out of his house.

He thus begged the court, if his prayer of divorce was answered to grant him custody of their two children whom she has failed to be a good example to.

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Fatima was absent in court despite being served court summonses.

Hakeem while giving his evidence said, “I went against my father’s wish and went ahead in 2006 to marry my wife who I met as a single parent.

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“Fatima and I had a blissful marriage despite the criticism from my family and my father in particular.

“She was well behaved and dedicated to me and our children. We were always together and shared each other’s dreams. She was my best friend.

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“I gave her N100,000 to start a business which blossomed and flourished in a short period.

“We were a happy family until my wife started misbehaving in 2010.

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“Fatima cultivated the habit of leaving home without my knowledge and consent and would return home late.

“The more I complained, the worse she became. Fatima would call off my bluff any time I threatened to deal with her.

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” I overlooked her shortcomings and allowed her to bring her daughter by another man to my home. But rather than be thankful for my display of generosity, all I got from her were abuses as a result of her caustic tongue.”

The plaintiff further said, “My lord, my wife is unfaithful to me. She was dating another man while under my roof.

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“She would lie to me that she was going to cater at a party being a caterer, but would go and spend the weekend with her lover.

“Fatima once travelled out of town for four days without informing me. She left no clue about her whereabouts while her phone was switched off.

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“I later learnt she travelled with her lover for those days and this led to a quarrel between us.

“I reported her to her parents and they helped resolved our differences, but Fatima to my chagrin abandoned all her duties in the home.

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“She refused me sex and stopped cooking my food. Her daughter was the one preparing my meals.

“She totally neglected me and refused to have anything to do with me.

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“Fatima finally packed out of my house which was why I came to court.

“My lord, I entreat the court to officially end our marriage and grant me custody of our two children.

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“Fatima’s lifestyle is questionable and as such can’t be a good example to our children.

The court president, Mrs S.M Akintayo, adjourned the case after he has heard the plaintiff and ordered that a fresh hearing notice be served the respondent.

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Truck Kills Road Safety officials on patrol

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By Gloria Ikibah

Two patrol operatives of the Federal Road Safety Corps were crushed to death on the Ikot-Ikpene-Aba road on Friday.

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Corps Spokesperson, Bisi Kazeem said that the crash occurred as a result of excessive speed indulged in by the driver of a DAF articulated truck while trying to dodge a pothole along the axis.

“According to preliminary investigation, the fatal crash involved a FRSC Patrol Vehicle and a white coloured truck.

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“The road crash affected a total of eight male adults, out of which two sustained severe injuries, two were killed while the remaining four passengers were rescued without any injuries.

“The injured persons have been taken to Ikot Ekpene General hospital and the dead deposited in the mortuary of the same hospital”, Kazeem stated.

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The Acting Corps Marshal, Federal Road Safety Corps, Dauda Biu, decried the incessant knock down and crushing of patrol operatives.

Biu said that the killing of the two officers was part of the recklessness of some drivers who have continuously violated the legally prescribed speed limit.

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He pledged the resolve of the Corps to apprehend perpetrators of the deadly act and make them face the full wrath of the law.

The FRSC boss conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the staff who lost their lives in active service.

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Biu further assured the public of the Corps’ resilience to ensure that the perpetrators of such bad driving culture were forced to face the law.

“We advise motorists to desist from such act by complying with acceptable road safety regulations, as the Corps will not spare anyone engaged in this deadly act of recklessness on the road,” he added.

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Blind teacher In Oyo State Shares His Experience

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A visually impaired teacher and freelance broadcaster, Ayanwale Ayantola, who teaches English Language at the Adeniran Memorial Grammar School, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, and shares his experience.

*Some people with visual impairment had difficult childhoods. Was it the same for you?*

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I can say yes because the impression Nigerians have about people with disabilities is not encouraging. I was not born blind. I lost my sight when I was a SS2 pupil, though I had a visual problem when I was in junior secondary school. I attended Ori-Oke Baptist Primary School, Ogbomoso, and Ori-Oke Community High School, but did not graduate from the school because of the problem I had with my sight. As a JSS2 pupil, I noticed that I could not see clearly. That led me to use recommended glasses. Later, I found it difficult to see the blackboard unless I moved closer. My school principal and some other teachers noticed the problem when my performance dropped because they knew I was a brilliant pupil.

So, they told me to bring my parents to school and when they came, my father explained the challenges I had with my eyes. We later went to Jos, Plateau State, where I had the first surgery. Each of my eyes was operated on three times, but I did not know what the doctors told my dad. However, I was advised not to force myself to read with the eyes but rather to use the level of vision I had left to aid my movement.

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*Did the doctors tell your parents what was wrong with your eyes or why you could not see clearly?*

Yes. I was told I had glaucoma and my father was advised to enrol me in a school for the blind. In 2007, I was enrolled in the Oyo State School for the Blind, Ogbomoso, where I spent about eight months learning Braille and typewriting. I wanted to become a medical doctor and was a science pupil at Ori-Oke Community High School. I was told that I could not continue as a science student, so I became an arts pupil. After learning Braille and typewriting at the school for the blind, I went back to SS1 at Adeniran Memorial Grammar School, Ogbomoso, where I currently work as a teacher.

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*Can you remember the point when you completely lost your sight?*

When I was at the school for the blind, I could see partially and move about to do one or two things. I lost my sight completely in 2006. That was the time I forced my eyes to read printed copies of the materials I used to prepare for examinations organised by the West African Examinations Council. That was against the advice I was given not to read with my eyes. I can remember that on the day I lost my sight, I visited one of my seniors in school. As I tried to enter the class, I hit my forehead on one of the pillars and fainted. That was when I realised that I could no longer see.

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*How did your condition impact your relationship with people in your community?*

Many of my friends left me because they thought I was no longer part of them since I would attend a school for the blind, which was a boarding school. When I graduated from the school, I could not find any of them, because they had moved ahead of me academically, having returned to SS1 due to my condition.

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*How did you qualify as a teacher?*

I attended the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, and studied English/Visually Impaired Study. I graduated between 2004 and 2005. I found it easy to cope there because of my knowledge of the use of Braille. I could still see partially when I was at the college, so it was not difficult to find me around the school. In fact, I was the one guiding most of the blind students there. But now, people guide me because my sight is completely lost. I also attended the National Teachers Institute.

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*Were you bugged by your inability to attend a university and study Medicine, which was your dream course?*

I felt bad. My life has totally changed. If not for the advice I received, I wanted to commit suicide.

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*Read full story in Punch*

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