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Between Kanu, Igboho, Gumi and southern governors, by Hassan Gimba

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Southern governors last week rose from their second-ever meeting with a communique sounding more like one by Niger Delta militants in their heydays. While some of their conclusions are in the national interest, some smack of arm twisting and blackmail.

For instance, their position on the removal of electronic transmission of election results from the electoral act is spot on. For us to further develop our democracy, one area that needs upgrading is our electoral system, especially in the method of voting, counting, transmission, collation, and even announcement of election results. Agreed, ours is a nation that a myriad of problems hampers its elections. Chief among them is epileptic power supply, poor communications network, poor road network, etc., however, by having the resolve to get our elections right, we will develop the will to straighten out all these aberrations.

Another plus is their re-affirmation and commitment to the unity of Nigeria “on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful co-existence between and amongst its people.”

However, a contradiction is in their calling for a commitment to the politics of equity and fairness but in the same breath “unanimously” demanding that “the presidency of Nigeria rotates between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern Region.”

The problem with the southern governors has much to do with their hurry to appease brigands. It is not much to do with the importance of having a stable nation. They fear hoodlums who call for anarchy have taken people away from them. To fight to snatch back their followership, they have to swim with the tide. And that means fighting the imaginary northern enemy with Fulani as the fall guy.

The danger here is that to jump in front of a rowdy, unreasoning crowd that has fallen in love with conspiracy theories and prefers to believe the mischievous, you must feed them more sinister lies since what fuels their existence are falsehoods.

So, to achieve that, the governors have to out-kanu Kanu and outshine Igboho in their recruitment methods, and that demands the ‘kanunisation’ and ‘igbohonisation’ of their worldview. They are only smart by half, falling short of calling for secession but giving conditions for remaining in the union. They cannot support secession because their authority is courtesy of Nigeria.

But southern governors became governors not through demanding for it but through a free choice exercised by the electorate. Supposedly, anyway. To now turn around and “demand” to be given the presidency points at their democratic credentials or the lack of it.

They have jettisoned the “equity, fairness and justice” they mouthed on the altar of feeding the insatiable greed of those they want to bring back to their beck and call. From 1999 to 2023, the South has presided over Nigeria for 14 years and the North for 10. By this, who is now showing to the world that they were “born to rule”?

Perhaps new to the game of regional governors gathering and so, playing catch-up, they are in a hurry to stamp their presence and let their people believe they are in the game. But they lost it at the starting line and may need to go back to the drawing board.

A major problem the South has is how it underestimates the North. Their minders have led a majority of them to believe that the northerner is an unschooled moron who only progresses through connections. Despite northerners that became billionaires by dint of hard work, intellectuals that have pushed the frontiers of scholarship, leaders that have provided impeccable administrations to great applause and politicians that rose like the colossus to dominate their environments, the average southerner still gets bamboozled – and envious – by the way the northerner dictates what goes where.

But a pertinent question to ask is, why do people kick against federal character yet want a position zoned, rotated or surrendered to them? If they are as intelligent and educated as they think they are, then they should know that politics is all about bridge-building, consensus and give and take.

However, in their confusion, despite their belief in the superiority of their intelligence, they take Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho as heroes. Some even believe they are comparable to Sheikh Gumi. A Methodist Bishop ridiculously said that he will stand by Kanu as long as “northerners stand by Pantami and Gumi”. A known southern columnist, too, wrote on how Kanu and Igboho were arrested while Gumi “had a slap on the wrist.”

What they refuse to accept is the fact that Kanu is a terrorist in the class of Shekau. A fugitive from justice having jumped bail while standing trial in a court of competent jurisdiction. He instigated people to kill through electronic messages the way Shekau did. He calls for the Balkanisation of the country. Perhaps being a second-class British citizen, he sees Nigeria as a “zoo” and Nigerians as animals. His gullible followers, Nigerians through and through, accept being animals in a country that is a zoo.

Maybe because most of his followers are those frustrated with their lives, they find solace in living in utopia. They claim they are Jews. Laughable as it was, with no historical or biological evidence to support the phantasmagoric claim, they do not know nor do they seek to know the history of the Ethiopian Jews. The Ethiopian Jews, who are immigrants and descendants of the immigrants from Beta Israel, called the Falashas (Falash Mura), trace their history back to 325 CE when Ezana became the emperor of Axum.

And even with this rich and ancient history, the real Jews did a DNA test to confirm their Jewishness. They studied samples from Falasha Jews and Ethiopians with the Y-chromosome-specific DNA probe to screen for TaqI restriction polymorphisms and haplotypes. Two haplotypes (V and XI) are the most widespread in Falashas and Ethiopians, representing about 70% of the total number of haplotypes in Ethiopia. Because in the Falasha population the Jewish haplotypes VII and VIII are not present, they concluded the Falasha people descended from ancient inhabitants of Ethiopia who converted to Judaism. Therefore, they do not have the same rights as the real Jews in Israel.

So, just because you wake up in a state of hallucination, start wearing the Jewish kippah or yarmulke (also called kappel or skullcap), drape over your shoulders their tallit and hold their tzitzit (rosary) and call yourself a Jew does not make you one just as speaking through the nose and decking yourself in a three-piece suit does not make you a white man. Claiming to be them and calling your country a zoo will not also make Netanyahu come to your aid when caught by nemesis. He does not even know you exist. The world sees you for what you are: a madman. No wonder one of his incoherent phrases that his demented followers love parroting is “mad people everywhere”, not knowing it is about them.

The major difference between northern governors and southern governors is that at no time have northern governors supported Boko Haram insurgents. But the southern governors are always beholden to rabble-rousers from among their dregs.

We cannot compare Kanu to Gumi because at no time did Gumi take up arms against the state or instigate anyone to kill anybody. While Gumi goes into the strongholds of bandits, calling on them to renounce banditry, Igboho took it upon himself to uproot people from their bases on spurious excuses.

For too long have we allowed sentiments to guide our utterances and actions. It is a favourable time to treat the other person without undue regard to his tribe, region or religion but based on their humanity.

We all know who we are and where we came from. Like it or not, Nigeria is our country and we have no other. None of us here can go wherever our fancy tells us we came from and get accepted as a citizen. But come to think of it, are we not all one when we go back to Adam and Eve? Let us join hands with one another, speak the truth, see the good in each other and take our country a notch higher. We owe it as a duty to bequeath to our children and the children of their children a better and more peaceful nation than we have now.


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Obateru: Celebrating a quintessential PR man at 60

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By Obinna Nwachi

The job of managing the image and reputation of a company that many love to hate and others hate to love is no mean task. Very often, one leaves the job inheriting the ‘enemies’ of the company as personal enemies. Very rarely does one leave the job in a gale of accolades as Dr. Kennie Obateru is doing today from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) upon clocking the statutory retirement age of 60.

Obateru assumed office as the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC in March 2020 at a time when various countries across the world, including Nigeria, were going into lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. He quickly retooled the Division to be able to promptly respond to the challenges of the time. This saw the robust engagement of the Corporation’s publics with the Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, leading the charge in clarifying the issues around production cuts, decline in crude oil sales and efforts to shore up revenues for the nation.

Apart from ensuring the vigorous implementation of the corporation’s Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) through timely communication of NNPC’s operations and activities, Obateru maintained an open-door policy which ensured prompt handling of all enquiries. This obviously resulted in a near-zero bad press for the NNPC in the one and half years he held sway as the chief reputation manager.

Speaking on Obateru’s style and professionalism, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, stated that he owed the very cordial relationship his agency enjoys with NNPC to Obateru’s engaging human relations skills. “It is with mixed feelings I learnt about Kennie’s retirement. Kennie Obateru is a very tall man, taller in ideas but tallest in competence and integrity. He’s a man of details, learns lessons from opportunities and from the ups and downs of life. We had a smooth working relationship with the NNPC during his tenure and it was all due to his style,” he declared.

Stakeholders from across all sectors of the oil and gas industry who had the good fortune to encounter him in his long career that spanned 29 years across various subsidiaries and the Corporate Headquarters of the Corporation are all agreed about Obateru’s excellent human relations skills. One of such is Sopuruchi Onwuka, the publisher of Oracle News who traced his first encounter with Obateru to his days at the Manager, Public Affairs Department, Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He described Obateru as a thoroughbred public relations professional and a perfect relationship manager who succeeded in getting the public to see NNPC through him.

“He is down to earth in his dealing with people. He is polite and urbane. He doesn’t talk down on you or force you to accept his point of view, he wins you over. Another thing I find particularly fascinating about Dr. Obateru is his ability to listen patiently and respond to issues no matter how busy he is. If his busy schedule makes it difficult to take your call and respond to your questions immediately, he will send a text message that he will get back to you, and he returns with answers,” Onwuka stated.

From colleagues and media practitioners who had to deal with daily in the course of his job, none could think of anything negative to say about Obateru as a person or his style as a reputation manager. A veteran energy journalist, Mr Olusola Bello, who related with him closely for years in the course of his job described Obateru thus: “He is a very competent public relations man, he knows his job. He is very accessible and always reaching out. In fact he has a way of drawing people close and taking them into confidence about developments in the industry. This style made it difficult for a lot of us to do stories that could impact on NNPC and its subsidiaries negatively because it would make you feel guilty that you are betraying your source”.

Bello’s submission holds the secret to the general positive reportage NNPC enjoyed throughout Obateru’s tenure as the corporation’s spokesman, a job for which he came fully prepared by virtue of his vast experience within the NNPC and the oil industry. Before his appointment as the Group General Manger, Group Public Affairs of the NNPC in 2020, he was the General Manager, NNPC London Office.

He joined the services of the Corporation in 1992 as an experienced hire and since then has held several key and strategic positions in the Public Affairs Division.

He was Manager, Public Affairs of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), a corporate service unit of the NNPC between 2010 and 2015.

Prior to that, he was Manager, Public Affairs Department, Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) between 2008 and 2010 and was Manager, Media Relations in the Group Public Affairs Division from 2007 to 2008.

Dr. Obateru was Deputy Manager, Media Relations in GPAD between 2006 and 2007, and served as a team member in Project PACE-SMS, CP Core Process Teams between 2005 and 2006.

From 2001 to 2005, he served as Supervisor, Budget & Planning in GPAD. He also doubled as Supervisor, Audio Visual, between 2000 and 2001. His versatility was brought to bear on the print side of the corporate communication business when he diligently served as Editor, NNPC News, a monthly publication of the Group Public Affairs Division from 1998 to 2000.

Between1993 and1998, Dr. Obateru was the Protocol Officer to the then Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources. He cut his teeth in the Corporation as a Protocol and Consular Officer between 1992 and1993.

He is an alumnus of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos; University of Ilorin and University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, where he obtained a Certificate in News Reporting, a B.A. (Hons) Performing Arts and an M.Sc. in Public Relations respectively.

In 2012, Obateru joined the doctoral club of eggheads when he was awarded a Doctorate Degree in Management (Honoris Causa) by the Commonwealth University, Belize.

He has attended numerous professional courses and conferences at home and abroad which included three (3) International Public Relations Association Conferences, five (5) World Petroleum Congresses (WPCs) and 15 OPEC Ministerial Conferences among others.

Dr. Obateru is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants, a member of the International Public Relations Association, a senior member of the Africa Public Relations Association as well as a member of the Nigeria Institute of Management.

His hobbies include Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis, reading and dancing. Dr. Obateru is happily married and his union is blessed with four children.

Dr. Obateru bows out after 29 years of meritorious service to the NNPC.

Obinna Nwachi, a public commentator and analyst, wrote in from Abuja.


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Osun: Celebrating ‘the cradle of Yoruba civilisation’ at 30, by Zainab Suleiman Okino

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Ignore the irony in the title of this article. Osun state is home to Oduduwa, the progenitor of Oranmiyan, the prime-heir of Ile-Ife who returned to claim his grandfather’s throne and became king. I’m not about to stir any controversy over Oranmiyan’s place in Yoruba folklore, but to state clearly that Osun state is a reservoir of a rich history beyond 30 years, though its creation is now a part of that rich chronicle. 


With Osun’s remarkable past, it is no surprise that the state’s founding fathers sought and fought for its creation which came to fruition on August 27, 1991 when ex-military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida created the state.


30 years after, under the leadership of Governor Isiaka Adeboyega Oyetola, the state rolled out the drums not just to celebrate, but to create more history, with series of events to mark the 30th anniversary of the state’s creation. One of such events is a colloquium held on September 8,2021, and where yours truly served as a panelist. The colloquium was described by the governor as the “intellectual arm of the 30th anniversary of our state, to interrogate the performance of the state so far, examine possible gaps and project for a sustainable future that all crave for as a people and desire to bequeath”. 


The colloquium was moderated by renown scholar, Professor Niyi Akinnaso, who together with the panellists discussed the keynote address presented by a former governor of the state, Chief Bisi Akande whose speech revolved around the dreams of the “founding fathers and past leaders of the state for achieving an optimum community and laying a foundation for the prosperous future of the state”, in a paper titled “Osun @ 30: Celebrating Milestones, Building a Prosperous Future”.


The event was chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, his Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III who said that the state’s decision of a colloquium to celebrate its landmark 30th anniversary “is a significant strategy for linking the past with the present and the future to build a sustainable enterprise”. And the audience did get a good dose of history and its relevance in charting the course of their future” adding that “ it was no surprise that in Osun’s years of statehood, it has produced a galaxy of stars in all sectors and areas of human endeavour” as the state is blessed with both human and natural resources.


As the custodian of the people’s culture, the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi paid glowing tributes to the past and present leaders in the state, while expressing happiness over the progress the state has made in the last 30 years. He also cautioned politicians not to play politics that could divide the state: “Osun is better today than when it was created…the journey of 30 years began with some people’s efforts and we appreciate the founding fathers, past administrators  and incumbent governor, for their contributions to the growth and development of Osun. Osun is greater than every single individual, and it has become necessary to stress this fact for our people to be careful not to allow politics and other interests to disintegrate us”


Chief Akande described the “the Optimum Community as a definable people’s settlement capable of raising and sustaining a minimum of a standard secondary school…a youth educational secondary institution…in other words, such a secondary institution would accommodate students population of between 420 and 850 youth. In this way, community development architecture should reasonably be designed to target people around every corridor of such standard secondary schools which become the nucleus of an ‘optimum community’ and a major development unit”.
The optimum community concept has ensured the rise and rise of such development units and all-encompassing development of the state especially in the area of education, which has expanded the frontiers of the state to other sections of  society’s strata. Osun state boasts of at least 14 higher institutions among them , a federal university, Obafemi Awolowo University, a state university, seven private universities, one federal polytechnic, one state polytechnic, one college of technology, two state colleges of education and a newly approved federal university of health sciences to make it 15. This exceptional stand in education has put the state in a good stead. It is therefore no coincidence that the state boasts of the highest number of professors and PhD holders in Nigeria. 


Education of the mind presupposes a positive social construct of the people. As a first-time visitor to Oshogbo, the state’s capital, I looked out for anecdotes that piece together to make the people who they are. There is no gainsaying the fact that their education has contributed in no small measure to their exposure and urbane traits. I must say I was impressed by the way the people I met conducted themselves. My initial reluctance to make the trip soon gave way to cautious optimism when the protocol people picked me from Ibadan airport to Oshogbo. Then came the day of the event. Then I saw the overwhelming joy of the people—old and young, who gathered at the state’s event centre for the occasion.


Governor Oyetola demonstrated his commitment in the service of the state in his speech and deed. Compared with some governors who attend only the opening ceremony of such events, the governor sat through an almost four-hour event. he said: “as an administration, we have instituted this colloquium to celebrate our shared values and our collective resolve that have delivered the Osun that we desire and to give vent to our dream to prosecute our development agenda which is our strategy and road map to put our dear state on the part of sustainable development. We are confident that just as the foundation laid by our forefathers 30 years ago has earned us a viable place in the national and international space, our decision to lay bricks of contemporary governance structures will build a prosperous and sustainable future.


“This 30th anniversary is the end of a phase and the beginning of another: the beginning of  sustainable governance and development, the beginning of a new era for a generation of Osun citizens that will ride on the wings of knowledge, technology and entrepreneurship to realise their potential, shut the door against unemployment, create wealth and radically transform the economy of the state”. Indeed, with the colloquium and the coming together of sons and daughters of the state, Governor Oyetola has further enriched the history of Osun and the embodiment of Yoruba civilisation.


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Wada Maida’s touch on journalism, Oche Echeija Egwa

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On Thursday, September 16, 2021, headquarters of News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) in Abuja was formally renamed Wada Maida House, a befitting honour to a veteran journalist, who worked most of his life for the agency. Until his death, August 17, 2020, Malam Wada Abdullahi Maida, 70, was the Chairman of the NAN Board.

Before then, Wada, as he was popularly and preferably known, was Managing Director of the news agency for eight years, after working as Editor-In-Chief. The former Editor-In-Chief, who was a pioneer staff in 1978 with eight others, following the establishment of NAN in 1976, also served variously as Zonal Editor, Kaduna, in charge of Western States, Political Editor and Western Europe Correspondent, London.

Wada’s career trajectory reflects the history of NAN in its 45 years of existence. For the period of his appointment as Chief Press Secretary to then military Head of State, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari in 1984, and retirement to start a private media business of consulting and publishing a newspaper, Peoples’ Daily, Wada’s his image continued to looms large. He influenced many appointments and recruitments, facilitated access to government, states and federal, and used his international network to the advantage of NAN.

To Wada’s credit, his predecessors and successors, NAN remains the most webbed media institution in Nigeria, with a reputation for accuracy and balance in reporting. NAN has hundreds of reporters across 30 states and a metro office in Lagos, many district offices covering major towns and villages, and foreign offices, that until recently, were active as European Office in London, North American and UN Office, New York, West African Bureau, Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, North Africa, African Union Office, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and South African Office, Johannesburg.

Wada played a major role in the structuring and sustenance of the agency’s global spread to gather news to enrich the content of bulletins and increase subscribers, which include almost all media houses in Nigeria, partnerships and exchange agreements with Reuters, AFP, Xinhua Chinese News Agency, DPA of Germany, Pan African News Agency and Rossiya Segnodya of Russia.

Among some significant milestones and legacies, the former Managing Director ensured that the agency owns its operational buildings in New York, Johannesburg and Abidjan and a five-storey marble edifice in Abuja, which he supervised completion and upgrade of working tools. President Muhammadu Buhari approved the naming of the headquarters after the former Chairman on November 26, 2020.

Conveying the approval, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said it was in recognition of the immense contributions of Wada to the growth of the agency.

“I write to convey my approval for the naming of the NAN headquarters building after the late Wada Maida, who served the agency in many capacities, including Foreign Correspondent, Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director.

“It is my sincere belief that the decision to honour the late Wada Maida is well thought out and that he deserves such a great honour, considering his immense contributions to the development of NAN,” he said.

At the ceremony, Mohammed commended management and staff of NAN for immortalizing Wada. “Wada played a strong role in NAN. The man who built this edifice deserves to be immortalised.’’

“He believed journalism served a higher purpose for peace, harmony and development. If a country goes down everything goes down, with it,’’ Mohammed said. “I appeal to media houses to put Nigeria first. Yes, we have challenges but this administration is working.’’

Wada’s love for journalism started in Secondary School, says his longtime friend and colleague, Sen. Ibrahim Ida. Ida disclosed that the former Managing Director was named Abdullahi Maida at birth, and only got Wada as a pet name while growing up. Wada, taken from “Wadata’’ meant influence and affluence.

The Guest of Honour and Katsina State Governor, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, said the naming of the NAN House after Wada was well deserved, considering his contribution to the development of journalism in the country and penchant for helping others.

“You can live for 120 years in this world, but what matters is the courage you brought to life and how many people you touched. With this naming, Wada’s life will continue to the end of time.

“That’s a life worth living. He lived for others. Anytime he visited me it was because of the needs of others and his community, not for personal reasons,’’ he said.

Masari noted that the former Managing Director of NAN contributed to the emergence of many media houses, both print and broadcast, in the country, particularly in the Northern part, adding that “the whole of Katsina remains proud of his achievements and many would have made it to Abuja for the ceremony, if they were informed.’’

Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, described Wada as “an elder brother, mentor and a facilitator.”

“He lived a life of patience & integrity. We should learn to be patient. Good things will come as we wait. Wada thought us not to rush the story; to be thorough. I recall, as editors, we will always wait for the NAN bulletin before our newspapers will go to bed.’’

The passion for reporting, editing, publishing and Public Relations saw Wada through trainings in London School of journalism, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Aberdeen College of Technology and University of Salford, Manchester and Nigerian Institute of Journalism. He was once President of Nigerian Guild of Editors, and later became a Fellow of the guild.

He was a member of other associations like the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Commonwealth Press Union, Amnesty International, Executive Director of International Press Institute and Chairman of Pan African News Agency (PANA) and Katsina State Broadcasting Corporation.

Wada’s contemporaries in the newsroom, who are also veterans in journalism, his mentees, some former administrators in NAN and other media houses across the country, traditional rulers and political leaders, friends and family were all at the renaming event.

The Managing Director of NAN, Mr Buki Ponle, affirmed that Wada’s leadership guided him to get a first degree and a Master’s degree while working and the former pioneer staff also encouraged him to get a Ph.D, if he wanted.

Ponle said the agency had suffered financial hardship over some years, forcing it to scale down some operations and dream projects for expansion, while thanking Wada’s vision for the progress recorded.

Wada’s family led by his wife, Hajiya Amina and son, Dr Aminu Maida, joined in unveiling the signage, and received a plaque from Governor Masari.

Aminu, witty, reticent and unassuming like his father, thanked President Buhari and the Federal Government for the honour done to his father, telling everyone that the entire family remains grateful to NAN.

 “NAN will continue to be part of our family, and we will always be part of NAN,’’ he said.

Like the Wada Maida House in Central Area, the former Managing Director of NAN continues to stand tall in our memory and a physical structure.

Oche Echeija Egwa, Senior Editor, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Chief Information Officer, Office of the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity.


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