2023: Babatope Speaks On Tinubu, Adeleke and G-5
Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a former Minister of Transport and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) marked 80 years of his existence on earth last week. In this exclusive interview with TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he shares his thoughts on his life and developments in the country ahead of the 2023 general elections. Excerpts:
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari and other eminent Nigerians congratulated you on the occasion of your 80th birthday. How do you feel at 80?
I feel good at 80 and thank God Almighty because I never knew I would live this long. I am very grateful to God who has kept me this far. My life has been an eventful one because of the time I spent with Papa Obafemi Awolowo in the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Papa Awolowo gave leadership and inspired us as youths to lead Nigeria and used our privileged position for the common good and advancement of humanity. That is the legacy that Papa Awolowo left behind for us. That is the path I have followed all my life and I am grateful to God who has kept me this far. I am very happy to have been appointed the National Director of the Organisation of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) by Papa Awolowo at that time, and it was a glorious thing to have served under Papa Awolowo because I was lucky that Papa chose me as an official of his party at the time when people who were better than me politically and ideologically were all over the place. And for that, I would ever be grateful to him. So, it was a pleasure to serve the party and to rekindle the energy of Papa Awolowo’s ideological life. Thank God for it, and it was a good reflection, very good memory. I would forever thank my God for making that possible and for making it something I would live with.
In a country where life expectancy is below 60 years, what is the secret of your longevity?
It is because of the fact that I believe that life is one thing that must be handled with care. You do so by loving the people and doing everything they want as you are enabled to do. The reason why God blessed you is for you to be a blessing to others. That has been my philosophy. The people have the power and that is one of Papa Awolowo’s teachings.
What are your regrets?
I have many regrets. The Nigeria Papa left has been compromised; it has been destroyed because Papa taught us all the principles that would make the nation great. We never thought we would have this kind of thing whereby elections would be hopelessly rigged by those who are in power to ensure they have political dominance in power and in government. I never knew, now I know better. Suppose you want to win an election in Nigeria. In that case, you must pray to God Almighty and you must pray to God to help you solve the problem of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC is a terrible organization now; they manipulate elections at will; they are never afraid of God Almighty and, therefore, the Nigerian people are held at the mercy of those who do not want Nigerians to have the freedom to elect those who would govern them. The best option one can have, Chief Awolowo said, is a democracy, that democracy is the last option for mankind. Mankind can only progress if we enthrone proper democracy. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, I will share his view in all my interviews. He gave a proper definition of democracy when he was alive. He said, ‘Democracy is a demonstration of craze, crazy demon.’ And he was right. When you have a democracy that was not guided by rules, that has estranged government from the people, then you have ‘demon crazy.’ Not democracy, but ‘demon crazy,’ ‘crazy demon.’ Well, we pray to God Almighty that INEC will, one day, change its mind and give the people of Nigeria the right to elect those who would govern them, and when they do that, they would enable Nigeria to stabilize democracy.
However, my major regret is my unjust dismissal from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) by General Olusegun Obasanjo without any retirement benefit to date. Obasanjo dismissed me from the services of the University of Lagos in 1978 as a result of the “Ali Must Go” demonstrations of Nigerian students in 1978.I was accused of supporting students against the government when the late Segun Okeowo led the students for reforms in Nigeria’s educational system. The Governing Council of the university later met in November of that same year to turn my dismissal to retirement.
The university later sent my papers to merge my services with the then Ministry of Establishment which was then under the late Brigadier-General Solomon Kikiowo Omojokun. I am not blaming Omojokun but today at 78, I served my country meritoriously as a public servant but today, I have no established mark from the federal government to say this is what I have done. I am still bitter because nobody has paid me a single kobo after my services to the university as retirement benefits.
Former president Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a letter few days ago where he endorsed Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party. Do you think his endorsement carries any weight?
Obasanjo can do anything he wants to do but I know people also have the power to also undo things with their votes. Obasanjo can write any letter, in fact, he can endorse anyone he wants. He has freedom and constitutional rights to do that but I know that on election day, Nigerians will decide who they want as their leaders in the next four years.
What is your take on the concept of Emilokan in Nigerian politics?
Emilokan is Bola Tinubu’s style. When I hear him say that, I began to laugh because he is just wasting his bloody time. I don’t know the conception of Emilokan in the minds of Tinubu but all I know is that Emilokan which literally means ‘It is my turn’ is all about self-interest. Emilokan does not take cognizance of the fact that the people have the power to do things for themselves and choose the leaders they want. Nigerians must choose their leaders and they must be given the opportunity and freedom to do so in an unfettered manner. Emilokan can only become meaningful when you grant the rights and freedom to the people to elect the leaders they want to govern them.
Do you think the controversy trailing the redesigning of the Naira should be addressed by the FG?
I think we should give the government the chance to succeed. The government has a motive on why it keeps insisting that we must redesign the naira notes and vowed not to extend the January 31st deadline for usage of the old notes. We should respect the decision of the government because the moneybags want to use the Naira. They have stored to frustrate the wishes of Nigerians. So, let’s give them a chance to succeed. By the grace of God, we are going to see the back of the money marauders.
The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal has sacked Ademola Adeleke as the state governor and declared Gboyega Oyetola as the winner of the governorship election. As a chieftain of the PDP, were you shocked at the outcome of the ruling?
It is a very funny judgment. I know that by the grace of God, the will of the people of Osun who freely gave their mandate to Governor Ademola Adeleke will prevail. The tribunal is not the last, we still have the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. I am confident that they will reverse the ruling of the tribunal and uphold the wishes of the people. The Osun people rejected the APC and chose Ademola Adeleke as their governor and nobody can in a cavalier manner make nonsense of that wish. Those who gave the judgment will be very sorry for themselves because the people have shown to them that they are irrelevant when it comes to who really has the power to determine things for the people of Nigeria.
The presidential election is just less than a month away and the G-5 governors led by Nyesom Wike are still adamant on not supporting Atiku Abubakar. Do you think any solution is in sight?
We have tried our best to placate them. At this stage, if they want to go, goodluck to them. If they want to remain in PDP, the better for all of us. Governor Wike and his allies must not arrogate powers that they don’t have to themselves. If they do so, they will make mistakes and may regret it. We all love Wike for his courage but when you arrogate powers to yourself, then you may lose the support of the people.
Dangote: NANS Write President Tinubu Over mismanagement Of CTIN Funds (Video)
Dangote: NANS Write President Tinubu Over mismanagement Of CTIN Funds (Video)
Open Letter To President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR
Your Excellency sir.
MAKING AN IMPACT WITH CHORAL MUSIC, DR DK AND DR SHADE OLUKOYA SETS A NEW STANDARD
MAKING AN IMPACT WITH CHORAL MUSIC, DR DK AND DR SHADE OLUKOYA SETS A NEW STANDARD FOR CHILDREN IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS ACROSS LAGOS STATE.
For some weeks now the Dr. Dk and Dr. Mrs. Shade Olukoya Choral Competition for secondary schools in Lagos state has been on going, this is an event that discovers raw singing talents across the state, this competition is held Throughout the 6 educational district of the state and has featured over 164 participants from all the Lagos state educational districts both online and offline, with 14 participants emerging as the finalist.
On the 25th of February, the final competition will hold at the grace hall of the MFM INTERNATIONAL HEADQUARTERS YABA LAGOS NIGERIA. it is not surprising that the pioneers of this one-of-a-kind life changing event is the General overseer of the mountain of fire and Miracle’s ministries worldwide DR. D.K OLUKOYA and his wonderful wife DR. SHADE OLUKOYA
This competition is put in place to discover great musicians at their prime and enable youngsters find their love in the music space while they win awesome cash prizes and other academic benefits.
The finals of this great event will take place on the 25th of February 2024 so come and be a part of history, this event is fully certified by the Lagos state government WATCH OUT YOUR STATE MAY BE NEXT.
Governor Sanwoolu Replicates Primate Ayodele’s ‘Palliative Market’ Initiative In Lagos
*Governor Sanwoolu Replicates Primate Ayodele’s ‘Palliative Market’ Initiative In Lagos*
Since Nigeria has been enmeshed in economic hardship that started after the removal of fuel subsidy last year, Primate Elijah Ayodele, a Nigerian prophet, has been practically taking several measures to alleviate Nigerians from penury through different philanthropic activities.
Long before fuel subsidy was removed, Primate Ayodele has always dedicated the first Sunday of every month for ‘food service’, a service where everyone would go home with packs of food items like Rice, Beans, Garri, crates of eggs, tubers of yam, and a token.
Immediately fuel subsidy was removed, Primate Ayodele doubled his effort by making food service almost every Sunday. He understood the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on Nigerians and as an influential personality in the country, he effectively played the role of a succor provider for the people.
As time went on, the federal government announced that it will release some funds for palliatives in order to reduce the impact of fuel subsidy removal which has turned out to become a full blown economic hardship. When the government came up with this idea, Primate Ayodele knocked down the idea and said it would be another means to embezzle funds because it won’t get to the right people.
These were his words,
’’The N8,000 palliative is corruption, I see nothing in the palliative and it will not reach out to the poor masses. Despite the fact that Mr President has signed it, it will not make any impact. The governors will use it for their selfish needs. The poor will not enjoy it at all.’’
‘’It will not be a blessing to the majority, the palliative is just a waste of time and energy, it cannot work for its purpose,’’
Ever since, Primate Ayodele proposed in his heart to teach the government how to effectively organize a palliative that will impact the people directly. Instead of merely talking, Primate Ayodele went ahead to organize a ‘palliative market’ where he sold food items for ridiculous prices.
The idea behind this palliative market was to purchase items at the exorbitant prices they are being sold for and sell to the people at cheap prices. The first edition which was held in November 2023 saw a bag of rice sold for less than N5,000. There were other items like beans, indomie, tubers of yam, garri, groceries, turkey, groundut oil sold for very ridiculous prices and this wasn’t opened to church members alone, people from distant places benefited from this initiative.
As if that wasn’t enough, again on Wednesday,14th Of February 2024 to celebrate his annual thanksgiving programme, Primate Ayodele held another edition of palliative market and sold a full bag of rice for N20,000. There were also different food items bought at exorbitant prices by the man of God and sold to the people at cheap prices.
While speaking at the palliative market, Primate Ayodele called on state governors to replicate the same palliative market initiative in their various states because of the economic hardship in the country. He explained that affordability of food will go a long way in reducing the impact of the hardship on citizens.
In response to Primate Ayodele’s actions and calls, it appears Lagos state government has keyed into the palliative market initiative with the announcement of Governor Babajide Sanwoolu on Thursday morning during a live interview session.
Given the rising cost of food and other staples, Mr Sanwo-Olu expressed the state government’s resolve to open more markets where residents can buy food items at discounted rates.
Specifically, the governor disclosed that plans have been concluded to open Sunday Markets in at least 42 identified markets across the state where residents will be able to buy food items at discounted price. “You will only be able to buy items worth up to N25,000,”
This is no doubt a welcome development and it vividly shows that state governments are now interested in doing the right thing for the benefit of the people. If other state governments follow suit, the impact of economic hardship would be reduced to its barest minimum.
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