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Obaseki, IBB, Oshiomhole, Others send tributes to 81-year-old late Momoh.

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In different ways, they outlined the virtues of the late lawyer, and politician that should be emulated, adding that his contributions to the enthronement of an egalitarian polity were invaluable.

Showers of tributes continued to rain, yesterday, for former Information Minister and media icon, Prince Tony Momoh, who expired on Monday evening aged 81.

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Eminent Nigerians who eulogised the late elder statesman, yesterday were former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, retd; former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State; and Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams among others.

In different ways, they outlined the virtues of the late lawyer, and politician that should be emulated, adding that his contributions to the enthronement of an egalitarian polity were invaluable.

We’ve lost a frank, blunt, articulate intellectual — IBB

Lamenting that Momoh’s demise is a sad chapter in the nation’s history, General Babangida said the Auchi Prince was frank, blunt and honest in his articulation of issues of national discourse.

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In a condolence message he personally signed, Babangida recalled his time with the veteran journalist thus: “When Tony clocked 80 last year, we had opportunity to robustly engage and reminisce on our days and years in government, when we tapped so much from his reservoir of knowledge as our Minister of Information. He was such a teacher, a patriot, with uncommon brilliance, who deployed his intellect to shape national discourse in the course of our intervention in government. He was very blunt, honest, and frank when he needed to put issues across, and was fond of interrogating submissions to be sure they are based on facts. His sense of loyalty was profound.”

He continued: “I was utterly shocked yesterday (Monday) to learn of the death of this great Nigerian, such a rare enigma, a quintessential thorough-bred journalist and lawyer, a prince from the Auchi sacred kingdom, who carried his aura with remarkable presence of mind.

“Tony was a formidable mind, always worried about the place of Nigeria and Nigerians, in the scheme of things. He was a successful mass communicator, a didactic letter writer, a brilliant legal mind, a family man, and an unusual politician. He never hesitated to state his piece of mind, irrespective of who was involved. Once he believed in a cause, he followed through, no matter the outcome. As a principled prince, he was never frivolous and flippant. He was thorough, contented, well researched and essentially pan-Nigeria. His death, no doubt, has left a huge void in our heart of hearts.

“My condolences to the Momoh royal family of Auchi kingdom, particularly the Otaru of Auchi Kingdom, his widow, children, friends and associates. May Allah grant them the fortitude to bear this painful loss.

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“Last year presented an opportunity to thank him for his support and contributions to nation-building; I never knew death would snatch him away so soon. It truly hurts. Let me specially console his son Rasheed at this mournful moment. You need to be a man to rally the family together. God will grant you the strength to bear this irreplaceable loss.”

We lost a man of peace, a bridge builder — Oshiomhole

To Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Nigeria has lost a peaceful man and bridge builder.

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In a statement, the former governor of Edo State said Prince Tony Momoh played politics without bitterness and stamped his feet in the sands of time as a “journalist , administrator, public commentator, and conscience of the political elite,” adding, “I have lost an elder brother, counsellor, political ally and a dear friend.’’

Said Oshiomhole: “Prince Tony Momoh was a man of peace, a bridge builder and a trailblazer, whose impressive career mentored a whole new generation of present day leaders in the media, public service and academia.

“He played politics without bitterness, but with exceptional maturity and a unique ability to accommodate diverse opinions even when they were against his beliefs. As Minister of Information & Culture at a very critical moment in Nigeria’s political history, he introduced a novel channel of communication with the people in his acclaimed “Letters To My Countrymen” series through which he periodically explained policies of government to the governed while they too had the opportunity to react to the letters, which ultimately served as a feedback to government.

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“He will ever be remembered as one of the very few principled, loyal and conscience driven politicians in Nigeria. His unique brand of unwavering loyalty and commitment to ideals is manifest in his political engagements as director of Media and Publicity for the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and the critical role he played in the emergence of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.”

In his tribute, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said Momoh’s demise was a sad development because he was “one Nigerian who contributed immensely to the development of the party (APC) and the country” and ‘’would be remembered for his selfless service to his fatherland.”

The Speaker sent his condolences to Momoh family, the people and Government of Edo State and prayed God to give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, even as he prayed eternal rest for the soul of the deceased.

Similarly, the Speaker also commiserated with Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa over the demise of her mother, Alhaja Sadiat Abeke Erogbogbo, a retired teacher and businesswoman at the age of 90.

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President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said Prince Tony Momoh as a journalist made indelible contributions to the development of the noble profession in Nigeria, adding that the APC will miss the principled political leader.

In a statement by his Special Adviser, Ola Awoniyi, the Senate President commiserated with the government and people of Edo State and the APC, where he was a highly respected leader.

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“Prince Tony Momoh as a journalist made indelible contributions to the development of the noble profession in Nigeria. As Minister of Information, Prince Momoh, through his ‘Letter to my countrymen’ series, professionally and effectively disseminated and managed public information in a manner that was unique to him.

“As chairman of the CPC, he helped nurture the party to a very strong showing at the polls within months of its formation.

‘’Prince Momoh was also a key facilitator of the emergence of the APC in 2014. The APC will miss this principled political leader particularly in this period that the party is repositioning as a grassroots-based political party and for improved performance of its leadership of our great country,” Lawan said.

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In like manner, Governor Obaseki, celebrated the contributions of late Prince Momoh to the growth and development of Nigeria, describing him as a rare politician who spoke truth to power when it mattered the most.

His words: “It is with a heavy heart that I received the news of the death of veteran journalist and former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh.

“Prince Momoh, though a great son of Edo State, was a total Nigerian. He was forthright, driven and spoke with candor. As a nationalist, he was unapologetic about the Nigerian project. His lasting legacy remains the enthronement of democratic values in Nigeria.

“A progressive and committed Nigerian, Prince Momoh’s wise counsel would be greatly missed especially as we navigate our current challenges as a nation.’’

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Eulogising Prince Tony Momoh, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State said his contribution to the development of Nigeria is invaluable.

He regretted that Prince Momoh died when his statesmanly services are still required in the country, noting that Nigeria’s development story will not be complete without Prince Momoh’s contributions.

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According to him, Prince Momoh impacted the society as a teacher, a journalist, a lawyer, a politician, among other numerous ways he deployed his talent in service to community, state and nation.

Besides, Governor Uzodimma said Prince Momoh remained vocal and truthful in causes he was convinced in, and believed so much in a united Nigeria where equity, justice, fairness should be the guiding principle.

He said the APC has lost a dependable statesman, ally and consummate party man whose legacies are there for all to see and learn from.

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On his part, Iba Gani Adams said that Tony Momoh’s death has created a huge vacuum for the progressives.

Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, described the late Momoh as a genuine leader with a mind of his own, adding that he was one of the leading patriots who offered their wealth of experiences for national progress and development.

The statement read in part: “It is with deep sense of sorrow that I mourn the death of one of the heroes of this democracy. The late Momoh was a worthy ambassador of our country, a model to all the progressives, a leading journalist, and consummate politician.

“The late Tony Momoh during his lifetime was one of our heroes in the struggle for this democracy. He was an Apostle of restructuring, and one of the leading voices in national politics. Most times, he attends our programmes without rigour. The late Tony Momoh lived a worthy life, bringing to bear his deep thoughts and valuable ideas to national politics.

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“The recent interview he granted a national daily (Vanguard) truly showed the stuff he was made of and I feel sad that the late Tony Momoh’s death came as a rude shock and at a time when his wealth of experiences are still needed most.

“With his death, it is no doubt that we have lost one of our great men, whose generation of patriots are depleting by the day. And I want to assure Nigerians that we will not relent in our efforts, by ensuring that the ideals he lived and died for remained evergreen in our minds.

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#Newsworthy

June 12: Punish IBB, others responsible for 1993 annulment – Musa tells Buhari

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Former Governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to look into the annulment of June 12,1993 presidential election.

The ex-Governor made the call on Friday June, 12, 2020 at the commemoration of democracy day in Kaduna.

He said former head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida (retired) and others responsible for the Annulment should be punished.

“The president should complete the task he started by investigating the situation that led to the annulment of June 12, those responsible for the annulment and punish them effectively, so it will not happen again.

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“If president Muhammadu Buhari does not go further and do this, anybody can do the same thing like Babangida who annulled June 12 and got away with it; up till now. We must make sure that does not happen again,” he said.

He also blamed the challenges Nigeria was currently facing on those who annulled the election that was considered the freest and fairest election in Nigeria’s history.


#Newsworthy…

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IBB – FG, States Should Unite Against COVID-19. [Nigeria]


Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (retired), has called for a strong collaboration between the Federal and state governments to fight coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

In a statement he personally signed on Sunday, Babangida who is also known as IBB, believes a united front is critical to winning the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.


“There is no room for blame game now but concerted support by all Nigerians,” said the former military leader who commended the governments at both levels on the efforts made towards managing the spread of the disease.

He added, “It is time for synergy between Federal Government efforts and that of states where a majority of citizens live with attendant implications for flattening the curve, increasing testing capacity and reducing the pains and we have the lesson and experiences of China, Taiwan, and other countries to benefit from.”


Babangida noted that although the numbers have continued to rise, the situation has been kept at manageable levels within the limits of the nation’s health care system.

He stressed that the success recorded so far would be sustained with the enforcement of appropriate and consistent social distancing prescription for effective prevention of the further spread of the pandemic.


The former military president also commended the professional display and efforts of the frontline medical personnel for their patriotism, resilience, sacrifice, and commitment to the fight of eradicating COVID-19.

He also thanked the individuals, groups, and corporate entities that have supported the government at different levels with various donations.


Babangida also commended the government officials for the palliatives geared towards alleviating the pains of Nigerians as a result of the lockdown in parts of the country.

On Easter celebration, he said, “I Enjoin our Christian brethren to use the holy period of Easter to pray for the country in the COVID 19 pandemic situation, and to our Muslim ummah to use the month preceding the holy month of Ramadan to pray fervently for Allah’s mercy and reprieve in the circumstances we find ourselves.”

“We all have our roles to play collectively and there is need to observe all recommendations of NCDC and adhere strictly to directives of government on basic hygiene – wash your hands frequently with soap under running water, avoid touching your face and high-contact surfaces, and also avoiding gatherings and physical contact thus, practice social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the former military president added.


#Newsworthy…

Continuous efforts to reconcile Nigerians unsuccessful – IBB


General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), Nigeria’s former Military Head of State has disclosed that limited impact has been recorded in the effort to reconcile Nigerians after the civil war.

Babangida who lauded some initiatives like the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the unity schools in the interview with Channels Television, blamed the limited impact recorded on authorities not consistently pushing for actualization of the reconciliation of Nigerians.


He said;

“For example, the NYSC, unity schools.. I think we didn’t push it hard.

“We should have pushed all those hard so that people from different parts of the country can say that we met at unity schools together”.


#Newsworthy…

Babangida speaks on getting married 10 years after his wife’s death.


As long as she was alive, their marriage was like the wedlock of the gods that the late Professor Zulu Sofola portrayed in her classic novel. For the 40 years the marriage lasted, they were inseparable. Wherever you saw one, there would the other be also. They shattered all obstacles together; and beautified as they impressed.

But on Sunday, December 27, 2009, time stopped forever for the personable former First Lady and founder of the Better Life for Rural Women project, Dr. Maryam Babangida. She died. On that black Sunday, the Asaba, Delta State-born ex-First Lady succumbed to ovarian cancer at the University of California’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, aged 61.

The late Maryam Babangida was born on November 1, 1948, to Hajiya Asabe Halima Mohammed, a Hausa woman from Niger State, and Mr. Leonard Nwanonye Okogwu, an Igbo from Asaba, Delta State. Sultry Maryam got married to the then Major Ibrahim Babangida on September 6, 1969, shortly before her 21st birthday. The marriage was blessed with two boys and two girls––Mohammed, Aminu, Aisha and Halima.


On the day Maryam went to meet her Maker, the world stood still for her husband, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Nigeria’s former military president. The cancer had sliced off his better half and his world momentarily became a huge dark void. Every glittering thing became gloomy. Ten years on, the General is still struggling to fill the vacuum.

In this exclusive interview, General Babangida, who was at his wife’s bed side when her life ebbed, went down memory lane and revealed that though the passage of time had reduced the pain, the tragic loss has not totally healed. He recalled some of the high and low points in his union with his late wife, disclosing, perhaps for the first time, why he stuck to the highly fashionable former First Lady till death separated them that fateful Sunday in December of 2009.


Babangida didn’t stop there. He also spoke on life without his better half, her immortality and legacies. Then, he dropped this bombshell: despite his advancing age, and regardless of his present state of health, he wants to marry again. And he didn’t say that for the sake of headlines. He meant every word of it.

Well, as they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. Please, sit back, relax and enjoy the interview. Excerpts:


It would be 10 years on December 27, this year, since your wife, the former First Lady, passed on. How has life been with you without Dr. Maryam Babangida?

It hasn’t been easy, I must say. But thanks be to God. Her children and my friends try to take away that burden off me and they have been very successful so far.


What have been the pains?

That you lose somebody very close to you; somebody very dedicated to the family, you, the children and so on. Another one is not having a companion to talk to when you are in a distressed situation. Those are the pains.

Those are what you miss most about her?

Yes.

What is the greatest problem you face as a widower?


Somebody who would instantly correct me when I make a mistake. Somebody who would say without mincing words that: ‘this is right’ or ‘this is wrong’. This is important, especially for those of us in the limelight. That is what I miss most.

There was an interview we had with you in this same room when I asked if you were going to remarry, and you answered me in the affirmative. Years down the line, nothing has happened. I don’t know whether you really meant it or you were just joking. What is your final answer?


It will still be in the affirmative. The answer is yes. This is because I am still thinking.

Are you sure sir?

Yes, I am quite sure. I’m searching and I’m hoping. But the longer I wait, maybe, the more problematic it becomes. If it drags, I would be too old and the whole idea of having a partner would seem to diminish. But I will make sure I do it before reaching that stage.


You will make sure you do what?

Have a partner.

That presupposes that there is somebody at the corner?

So far, no.

If it is going to happen, when and how are you going to start the process if it hasn’t started by now?


If somebody is in the corner, you could organize that in three or six months. And because it must be somebody you have known for a long time, or somebody you have been in contact with for a long time, you don’t just tell them look this is for marriage. But as time passes, and relationship building continues, it could end up in marriage.

However, I have to be fair in my search. I really want to be fair. For instance, you don’t expect me to take a wife much younger than I am because that will be a problem for her and for me. I have to be fair. Secondly, I do wonder if she (the chosen one) would be able to live the way Maryam and I did, which is not easy these days. So, I keep on praying; and I think it will happen.


Do you think the children will be receptive to that idea, having waited these 10 long years?

They will be happy that their father got what he wanted. His happiness is their priority.

Especially the ladies, Aisha and Halima?

Yes. After all, this is what daddy wants and if it makes him happy, so be it. We want him to be happy.


As Africans, we believe that when we lose loved ones, we could still communicate with them in our dreams. In the past 10 years, how many times has Dr. Maryam Babangida appeared to you in your dream?

Very few times; and I think that is fine. As far as I am concerned, that takes a lot of burden off me. But if I see her every day, I wouldn’t wake up to this idea (of wanting to marry again) because seeing her regularly brings back all the memories. But since I don’t see her, it strengthens my resolve.


How would you celebrate her at 10?

I am working on a programme dedicated to her. I hope it will be ready by the tenth anniversary.

What kind of programme sir? Could you let us an insight into it?


We are trying to work on some of the things she did, especially around women and in the society, here in Niger State.

There has been very little effort towards what she was doing while she was alive. Are you not pained that nobody has taken up the Better Life for Rural Women Programme from where she signed off?


It is not easy. Her daughter is trying fairly well. She is trying to get into educating the local people in the villages so that they can make life better for themselves in terms of economic development. The daughter is doing that. She seems to be doing fine.

If despite all you have been through, you still look this way, handsome, soft-spoken and all that, one could imagine how you were at 17 or 19. How did you deal with the girls?


I knew you would come with that conclusion. But let me give you a story to answer your question. When I told my wife to let’s get married, she looked at me and said: ‘You can’t be serious’. I said: why? She said that the impression she had was that we (soldiers) were playboys. I said I had decided to stop being a playboy and I wanted to settle down. I think I convinced her that I really meant I was going to settle down.

How did your love life start, especially at a time when inter-tribal marriages were not common, especially in your part of the country? How did your parents and hers take it?


Fortunately, the two parents knew each other. They were more or less friends and I also became friends with her cousins, aunties and uncles. They didn’t have difficulties accepting me.

You really played before you eventually made your mind to settle down…


Yes, I did…

I asked that question because I interacted with a couple of your friends who told me about the way you people used to rock at Bobby Benson’s Caban Bamboo night club in those days…

He (Bobby Benson) was a good friend of mine. I knew him very well.


What was your relationship with the late Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle? He frequented the night club too…

He and I were from different divisions. I got to know him closely when the war broke out. He was in Third Marine Commando while I was in 1 Division of the Nigerian Army. But, later in retirement, I got closer to him because he visited me here in Minna. He also visited me when I was in office and when I was out of office.


Still talking about relationships, how did it eventually happen after you told your wife and she said you weren’t serious? How long did it take you to convince her?

To be honest, less than a year.

How did you deal with the other girls?

Well, they had to accept the reality that there would be a time they would have to leave me and I had to leave them.

Did you actually leave them completely?

I tried to…


How do you react to this notion that when Delta State was created by your government, you chose Asaba as the capital because your wife was from there? Critics said geographically speaking, Asaba was not at the centre of the new state. (Delta State was carved out of the former Bendel State on August 27, 1991. The state was born out of agitations by the Urhobos and Anioma for the creation of separate and distinct states from the region.)

It was not because of her. Before we created a state or local government, we studied everything-the history and the politics of that area; then, settled on one. I made a lot of consultations. I was fortunate to have people like Sir Dennis Osadebe, who, I think, was a Premier of the Mid-West. I went to him and he told me the whole history of that area. Historically, during the British era, the town was seen as an important town in terms of location, commerce and the rest of them. So, from all the consultations, we made up our minds that we will make Asaba the capital. It just happened that my wife was from there.


It was said that on the eve of your announcement, the military administrator went to Warri and was looking for a place…

(Cuts in…) It was a Nigerian thing. For instance, before the announcement (for the creation of new states), somebody in Niger (State) had also gone to another town and started saying that that will be the capital. But we knew it was going to be Minna. Then, we were accused. Like I said, it is a typical Nigerian thing.


For a man of great accomplishments like you, and as a Muslim, your religion permits you to marry as many as four wives, if you like. But you stuck to Mrs. Maryam Babangida till her death on December 27, 2009. Before the marriage eventually happened, what were the traumas you went through?

(Laughs) That is the advantage of being a playboy. It gives you an opportunity to explore and learn, such that by the time you make up your mind to settle down, you have learnt all the good and bad things in a relationship. When you now decide to settle down, you try as much as possible to avoid all those pitfalls. Maryam and I had a very short courtship because she had everything I was looking for in a woman. She possessed them.


Like what?

Accepting me for what I am.

And what are you?

Just a human being. I had my faults. I made mistakes. Like every human being, I am not perfect. And if you are prepared to accept me for what I am, then, we have no problem. She exhibited that a lot and that kept us together. I can tell you that in 40 years, we quarrelled only twice. She was a very tolerant person and the parents were very understanding. They supported me on most issues.


Would it not have been otherwise if you were not General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida-very high up there, highly visible, known all over the world? Would she have been that tolerant?

I think she would still have been. During the war, for example, I was away most of the time. We were in the war front, and there was a lot of anxiety. Anxieties like: would he come back? Would he be killed at the frontline? You know that sort of thing. But she was a very strong-willed person and she was always firm in her hope that I would return to her alive, and not in a body bag. Her optimism enlivened the spirit in the home and helped the children, and so on.


Was there a time in your 40 years of marriage that she got angry and said: ‘what the heck, I’m leaving!’?

No, we never had that. That is why I said we quarrelled only twice and they were ordinary things we could sort out.


How did you handle your problems anytime confusion came?

We allowed tempers to cool down. That is rule number one. We also applied that thing called common sense. Then, we initiated a discussion, involving just the two of us, on the subject that brought about the quarrel. That way, the problem was easily resolved. Again, I never felt too proud to say ‘I am sorry, I was wrong.’ I always said that. She, too, always said: ‘I’m sorry, I was wrong’. That was the end of the problem.


Does ‘the other room’ play any role in resolving such problems?

(Laughs) We always solved our problems in the dining room.

I’m talking about the ‘other room’.

Which is the other room? Please, enlighten me.

The bedroom.

(General laughter).

What is the highest point of your life? At 78, what are the highs and the lows?

Babangida & Maryam


The first is when I was commissioned into the Nigerian Army, as a young officer from the Indian Military Academy. Fresh from the Academy, I was full of life, coming to provide service to the country. The second is: while rendering services to the country, you meet people who operate either in defence of the country or in aiding people to provide for safety of lives and properties in the country. The third is when I was given a command during the war. The high point (in that) is that here was a young Major Babangida, and I had over 500 soldiers under me. Their lives, their welfare, depended on me. That was a huge responsibility.

You have to be concerned about how you make them have the confidence that you would not lead them into any disastrous situation; you have to be concerned that they would follow you to war. I’m glad they developed that confidence because I mingled with them. I trained and ate with them. We played together. And if they knew that we were going to war, fear was no longer in them because, as an officer, I was capable of doing what they could do. As an officer, I could do what a corporal could do. So, they just followed. That is a good point in leadership; and it has been very successful.


#Newsworthy…

He is healthy – IBB spokesperson.

…may Allah forgive those wishing him dead.

Former Nigeria’s military president, General Ibrahim Babangida is not dead.

Rumors were rife earlier today that the ex-military leader had passed on. However, a statement released by his spokesperson, Kasim Afegbua, said contrary to the rumour, Babangida is alive and bubbling and is in his Minna residence attending to visitors.

Read the full statement below:

IBB IS ALIVE AND BUBBLING.

It has become consistent fake news for quite some time now wishing our own IBB, the one we easily refer to as “the last don” of Nigeria politics, dead. The “fake news bill” would be a suitable response to this category of fake news carrier. IBB is very much alive and bubbling. He just started attending to friends and associates who came to see him today, Sunday, 15th December, 2019 right here at his Minna Hilltop mansion. He is full of life and in his characteristic bubbling mood.

May Allah forgive those who wish IBB dead. God is the giver and taker of life, not humans. Death, as the irrevocable end of all creation, will surely come to everyone some day and at the appointed time and hour, but to deliberately spread fake news and wish someone dead, is to take humanity to another bizarre level. May Allah forgive them. IBB, by the special grace of Allah, the omniscient and omnipotent One, shall live to fulfill his journey and destiny in life, to the consternation of those who are always wishing him dead. This is about the third time this year.

We wish to thank those who took time to reach out to us, home and abroad, to find out the truth. We thank you all for your love, care and concern. May Allah grant us all good health, sound mind and long life. Amin.

SIGNED…
PRINCE KASSIM AFEGBUA
MEDIA SPOKESMAN TO GENERAL IBB.

#Newsworthy…

Babangida’s death rumour, fake – Spokesman

Kasim Afegbua, spokesman for former military president, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has debunked the rumour that his boss is dead.

In a release he issued to douse the tension he said: “It has become consistent fake news for quite some time now wishing our own IBB, the one we easily refer to as “the last don” of Nigeria politics, dead.

The “fake news bill” would be a suitable response to this category of fake news carrier. IBB is very much alive and bubbling. He just started attending to friends and associates who came to see him today, Sunday, 15th December, 2019 right here at his Minna Hilltop mansion.

He is full of life and in his characteristic bubbling mood.

“May Allah forgive those who wish IBB dead. God is the giver and taker of life, not humans. Death, as the irrevocable end of all creation, will surely come to everyone some day and at the appointed time and hour, but to deliberately spread fake news and wish someone dead, is to take humanity to another bizarre level.

May Allah forgive them. IBB, by the special grace of Allah, the omniscient and omnipotent One, shall live to fulfill his journey and destiny in life, to the consternation of those who are always wishing him dead. This is about the third time this year.

“We wish to thank those who took time to reach out to us, home and abroad, to find out the truth. We thank you all for your love, care and concern. May Allah grant us all good health, sound mind and long life. Amin.”.

#Newsworthy…

Chief Kenny Martins – How Saudi Arabia Controls Nigeria.

Abacha, Abiola & IBB connection

Chief Kenny Martins in this interview with CHIDI OBINECHE reveals the undercurrents and untold role of the Saudi Arabia government, and other Nigerians in the June 12, 1993 presidential election saga, presumed to have been won by the late M.K.O Abiola, and the role of other prominent Nigerians to de- annul it and free Abiola from detention.

Nigeria has of recent been facing very difficult times. While the hardship in the land subsists, some men whose names rang bells in the hey days of military rule and pro- democracy struggles went the way of all mortals. I know you did relate with some of them. How do you feel over these sad incidents?

In the last few days, I have lost two great men. I met them as I embarked on my journey or quest to see how I can contribute to the betterment of this nation. In that journey, I met these two men who were also major actors. They were very positive major actors, and two of them made impact along the line. Those two men were Dr. Ore Falomo and Chief Alex Akinyele. I have known Chief Alex Akinyele since the 70s, and I knew him more closely in the 80s. I remember then he used to live in Ilasa. I don’t know whether most people know the story of his closeness with IBB, the former military president you know, he served in the government of IBB as minister of information. I don’t know what IBB will say because some of the nieces and nephews of Chief Akinyele were my friends then, and I practically passed his house every night. There were times that Mr. President then came to his house in the night under the cover of anonymity. He would sneak in without aides, security or convoy and drove himself, and I used to wonder. Mr. President will come all the way from Doddan Barracks to this man’s house in that part of the town. I didn’t have any closeness with IBB then. But I reasoned that no wonder this man always got to know what was happening in Nigeria ahead. He will come with minimum protocol and security officers. I am sure that if I see him (Babangida) , I will also commiserate with him and also ask him what he used to come and do at Akinyele’s house that time? So, while I am writing my memoirs, my book, about some of the things that happened in my life and some of the things that happened in this country, what I believe would have been done right and what should be done right to get the nation to achieve its destiny, I will also review some of these recollections. And I remember these two men. I feel sad over the loss of these men.

What particularly were their contributions to the June 12 debacle beyond Ore Falomo being Abiola’s personal physician and the closeness of Akinyele to IBB?

I would have wanted to meet them, refresh their memories and their contributions, which ultimately will substantially be part of the book we are putting together. When Chief Abiola was jailed, I remember reading an interview by Kola Abiola, Abiola’s son and the other by another key insider of the June 12 struggle and all of them alluded to the fact that it was an epoch in the life of this country. When MKO was in jail, you see, I have this gift of seeing things and hearing things as in the mold of a prophet. For almost one year, the family couldn’t see him. And one day, I will talk on the June 12 saga, how June 12 became a huge problem, how they arrested Abiola, and all the struggles throughout June 12, how he was jailed, Shonekan, Abdullasalm and all the efforts to get OBJ( Obasanjo) to get Abiola out of jail. OBJ himself was also all over the place seeking to find ways to lower the tension in the land. Things were not normal. Abacha was in power. Most of these issues were not necessary and completely avoidable, and they were raising the political temperature, both nationally and globally. There were a lot of things that were not done right. There were fireworks here and there and no one was sure of where the country was heading to without normalcy. It was under this situation that I went to meet Justice Mamman Nasir, Galadima of Malumfashi when that judgment came.

Which judgment are you referring to?

Have you forgotten about the judgment that stiffened the struggle? I went to meet him in his house at Katsina . He asked me to come in, and he said I hope no problems. I said no problem sir. It is just that I am close to Kola and the family, and I have been talking to them, and I know that they have not been able to see their father for over a year. The important thing was to do something about the Abiola issue urgently. “What can we do to get the man out of there? If we don’t do that, he will die and that will be of great consequence to the country. We need to find a way to break this deadlock that has seized the country by the throat”. He pondered and said, ‘but what do we do?’. I said I had to do something. I sold some ideas which I believed could be helpful, provided the government and the late Gen Abacha will also agree and follow that route, and I believe we can involve some of the leaders. You know how Ernest Shoneken came? We used him and others to work, so that all those who were in prison can come out. You remember how Shonekan came, and after a few days in power, we also used him to bring back all those who were in exile, asking him to make a pronouncement so that all the exiles will come back from exile. If these people could be released, we reasoned, the tension in the land will be lowered and the government can function better without the distractions of protests, defiance and cold war. We also prevailed on Obasanjo not to relent on the pressure he was mounting for the release of the prisoners of conscience, particularly Abiola.

But there is widespread information that Obasanjo worked against June 12?

Those stories are not correct. When my book is out, Nigerians will know about who did what or who did not. That is all I can say on that. Back to what I was saying, the pressure to release Abiola by Obasanjo and others gave a lot of international attention to Nigeria. Justice Nasir, asked, “What are you doing?” I said, myself, I have gotten this idea to the Saudi government about Abacha. I told him that I told the Saudi authorities that General Abacha was always complaining about them, that they were not giving him same treatment and accord that they gave General Babangida. When Babangida was in power, he was their blue- eyed prince. But since Abacha had been here as Nigeria’s military ruler, they would not deal with him and he is a Muslim too. He was wondering why they were behaving like that to him. There was this hostility by the Saudi authorities to Abacha’s government.

Apart from Abacha and Abiola being Muslims, what other undercurrents were responsible for the attitude of Saudi Arabia to Abacha, Abiola and June 12?

This dampness of relationship between the two governments was at the root of some of the troubles that we needed to remove in order to get Abiola out of detention and reclaim his mandate. I told him that was the reason and suggested that we optimize the approaching Hajj in that respect. As we were speaking, the Hajj was quite close. The Saudi government had already pronounced that because of isolated cases of meningitis in Nigeria, that Nigerians had been banned from coming to Mecca. And that had created serious problems for the government of Abacha. There must be a way to find a win- win situation between the two governments. The Saudi government said they didn’t have anything against the Abacha government, but he can’t be there holding this true Muslim(Abiola) like him in captivity and everybody was pleading and appealing to him, and he was not allowing the man to go. Why should he do that to a fellow Muslim? Then why do we pray and what is everybody doing to get justice and facilitate the release of the man from prison since he was innocent? They said that if that is what goes on in Nigeria, then, it is bad. So, I didn’t know how close Chief Abiola was to them, and so many efforts were just flying in the air. It became apparent that, this tango was why we were suffering. He would have agreed with them and explore the possibility to take Abiola into their country since they were the ones who supported him in his ITT business. It was their own majority in the business that gave him the position of Chairman, Africa/ Middle East, which helped him to become what he became. I remember Chief Akinloye told me the story of that business and how it boiled down to except Nigeria signed or President Shagari signed, they were not going to give it to Abiola. And they were not going to give it to Abiola because people were prevailing on Shagari not to do it. Akinloye was the chairman of the ruling party, NPN. That was when democracy was democracy, when democracy was a culture, when chairman of the party had regular weekly meetings, twice or so with the president. Actually, the president was subjected to the supremacy of the party, not now when governors and local government chairmen are the ones controlling the party. We have lost democratic culture in this country, and that is behind some of the problems we are having, and why the country is not developing. That’s by the way. So, Akinloye told me how he then prevailed on President Shagari to sign that paper, because except Nigeria endorsed that paper for Abiola, he won’t be awarded that contract. They must approve of you and recommend you if the job must be actualized. That was how it worked then, and it worked in Abiola’s favour despite the party primaries between Shagari and Abiola. Abiola contributed N1.2 billion preparing for the election under SDP where he emerged the party’s presidential candidate. It was about 60%, of the budget. Then, Yar Adua contributed 25%, and others contributed the rest. Some of us drew up the budget, the first budget in Nigeria, where you had everybody catered for- the security, the media and so on, so that there can be peace. And that was one of the reasons why we had the freest and fairest election. SDP, through Abiola facilitated and ensured that everybody was properly mobilized not only to win, but to protect the results. And that was why it still remains the freest and fairest election. So the idea was taken. And as for (National Democratic Coalition) NADECO, and those who were to give problems, you know they had a way of engaging them. Their visa was an issue. It was easy for them if the reasons were real and good to get them in. It was agreed based on the suggestions I made to Justice Nasir, that they could then sit down together and then create a platform so that Abiola and Abacha could discuss. And on top of that, if Abacha agreed, our pilgrims could go to Mecca within the few weeks left. I was optimistic about that and canvassed the possibility of still going to Mecca within the few weeks left. It was an open window to exploit, I reasoned. Justice Nasir said, is that true? I said yes sir. Well, he told me some personal constraints as to why he could not be able to get the president immediately. I was unrelenting. I said sir; this is what you can do. Forget about those who might be blocking you. I said the president will be willing to do business with you. The president will listen and reach you. Between man and God, within five minutes of our discussion, a call came from the villa; it was the Sultan of Sokoto, who I had just mentioned to Justice Nasir. He said “ ah Galadima, the president wants to see us next tomorrow, he will send a plane to pick us tomorrow and we have six leaders and six Emirs on our list. He turned to me and said, ah, you just said it and now I am being invited. I said to him, sir, when you get there, after the northern leaders meeting that they are calling you, call him aside and tell him what you have to tell him. I am sure that he will accede. Number one, the country is at a standstill, Abiola in jail, this one in jail, that one in jail, everybody in jail. He listened to me in rapt attention. The third day, he returned to Kaduna and called me. He said Kenny, where are you? I said I was in Lagos and he said come. I took the next flight to go to him. When I got there, he was in a meeting. He was chairing the meeting. He excused himself and came to me. He said, “come”. Your prayers are good. Abiola can go on bail. He said, it was a done deal but that the problem all along was Abiola’s lawyer, G.O.K Ajayi, who was making it complicated for Abiola to be released on bail for the reason I told you before. They were the ones opposed to the bail, telling Abiola not to accept it. I don’t want to go into details. I told you before, that I don’t want to say these things now. We agreed to change his lawyer, Abiola will get his visa, and he will be released. We will sit down, call a meeting, Nigerians will go on pilgrimage, and we will dot the I’s and cross the T’s. He, the president and I will monitor the changes. The Sultan, Justice Nasir will work to establish a platform that will broker peace. I will witness it. Let’s pronounce a transition and let’s go forward.

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