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Stop the axe: Kano Zoological and Botanical Garden next on line of destruction

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Stop the axe: Kano Zoological and Botanical Garden next on line of destruction

By Yusuf M. Adamu

Kano city, now metropolis is an important chapter in the history of world urbanization and if we describe Kano as the queen of Hausaland and the princess of western Sudan, we wouldn’t be mistaken. History makes a place and it is not just the passage of time that makes history but the different layers of cultural attributes that creates the landscape which people are associated with. What makes Kano tick like all great cities, is its ability to absorb its residents into its citizenship thereby getting their loyalty and trust.
In July 1971, the military governor of Kano State, Alhaji Audu Bako laid the foundation stone for the Kano Zoo and by November 1972, it was completed. The late visionary Governor in his opening speech on November 14 said to the gathering “I am surprised to hear from a lot of people, including those who call themselves elites criticizing my idea of establishing a zoo or game reserve and not only that but also making it an item of mockery. I am openly condemning such people as people without foresight and wisdom. I am glad to say that there are not many of them in Nigeria for otherwise, general progress would have been retarded.” In concluding his speech, he said “In the name of God, I declare the Kano Zoological Garden open for the general public of Nigeria and anybody from outside the country, and I pray that it will serve mankind forever. To the people of Kano State, I hand to you this zoo as an object of pride. Please hold it as an egg. May God help us?”
When Police Commissioner Alhaji Audu Bako the Governor of Kano State commissioned the zoological garden he informed the gathering that the Zoo was the only one of its kind in West Africa and it was the intention of his government ‘to develop this zoo into one of the best in Africa’ The late Audu Bako made the statement above not knowing what we will be discussing 48 years after. This is an historical preamble to contextualize the issue at hand. I am talking about the perhaps largest protected ecosystem in one of the largest indigenous cities of Africa: the Audu Bako Zoological and Botanical garden located in Kano, Nigeria. The satellite image shows the current status of the area. Note the contrast between the green area and the settled area. The proposed relocation will make the green zone bare too.

Current Satellite Image of Kano Zoological and Botanical Garden
Like other important landmarks of this great city, the Kano Zoo is next on the destruction list by Kano State Government. In the last 21 years, we have witnessed the systematic erasure of Kano’s historical and cultural signatures that gave the city its identity. Its planning system have been debased, the reserved low-density areas are downgraded to high density areas, the lands of public institutions like the Kano State Polytechnic Daula Hotel and Triumph Publishing Company, have been sold, all the open spaces and green spaces have been converted to largely commercial land uses. All the parks and gardens in the metropolis have been sold. . So much mismanagement of land resources is taking place in Kano all in the name of development. One question we wish the State Government will answer is who the buyers of the sold public lands are. It will be great to have a list.
Kano is a dual city where two cities (Indigenous and township) living side by side. With an estimated population of 4-5 million, the city is in utmost need of more green areas.The zoo is perhaps the largest existing green area in the metropolis with a 53 hactre land devoted to plants and animals. It is amazing that other large city of the word such as New York which is the world’s commercial centre with a population roughly twice as that of Kano metropolis sees the need to maintain a green area despite the need for business premises and the billions they will generate as tax. The Central park which is the largest and most important public park in Manhattan occupies a whooping 340 hectares of land (6.4 times the size of Kano Zoo) covering about 4km. It was established in 1857 and opened in 1876, it is still there standing and serving mankind. The green spaces in London occupy over 142 hectares. Take some parks for example Central park is 3.41km2, English garden is 3.75km2, Regent’s park occupies 166 hectares, in fact London is 40% public green space including 3000 parks. These two cities are commercial centres, yet they understand the importance of vegetation to their survival.
Three weeks ago, the Kano State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Ibrahim Ahmed announced that the Governor of Kano State has ordered the relocation of Kano Zoological gardens from its current location to Tiga town, Bebeji Local Government because, according to the Governor the present location is inconvenient due to the high population density of the area This, according to him disturbs the animals. On a soft note, Malam Musa Tanko of Geography Department BUK has asked ‘Who did the animals at Kano Zoo told they’re not comfortable there? What about the Trees? Did they also complain?’ He further explained that ‘There is no place in the whole of Kano city that has high density of vegetation as the Kano Zoological garden. One of the numerous beauties the nature has blessed us with is vegetal cover, comprising of trees, shrubs and grasses which are very much important and necessary for life. Vegetation, especially trees are important to man and his environment in a variety of ways’.
Perhaps that is why the news was received with bad feelings. Some important points worthy of noting include the following:
The proposed area is far away from the metropolis and this will reduce the level of patronage especially by primary schools pupils.
With the increasing insecurity, it might be difficult for pupils to visit it.
The government did not give concrete reason other than the street-like reason that zoo animals do not like human noise.
No timetable was given.
Most importantly the public were not told what will happen to place when the animals are transferred.
Noting the antecedents of the Government of selling public parks and gardens, prayer grounds, parking spaces, historical sites and other open and green spaces, every environmentally aware person in Kano will be alarmed. Not only the citizens of Kano, even professional bodies like the Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Park were quick to write to the governor alerting him of the dangers of the proposed relocation. Many individuals have written essays trying to persuade the state Government from the project, people have spoken in the radio and other outlets all in an attempt to draw the attention of the State Government to let the Zoo be. Forestry Association also pleaded with the Government. As at now, we have not heard anything from government other than its hawks who attack responsible citizens who spoke against the proposed relocation.
At this point it is good to ask the State Government what it intends to do with the Kano Zoo after relocating it. The most likely thing that will happen is that they will clear the place and create a commercial layout. In doing that, the government will claim that it is doing so to make Kano more commercially viable by building modern malls and creating jobs. As expected, I had the opportunity to hear a government officer saying that the zoo will be converted to a residential-cum commercial area and that not all the trees will be cut off. That the company that will take over the zoo will build the new one at Tiga and will decide what it will do with the old zoo. Anyway, whatever it is, it is destruction. The world will witness one of the greatest planticide (ecocide) of the century. The implications of this to Nigeria will be enormous. Many environmental groups around the world will mark Kano State red and we will lose good will that will last long and probably face sanctions.
It is sad that whenever you talk about ecology and environment or even cultural heritage, the government and its official and unofficial spoke persons will say they are bringing development to Kano thinking that building flyovers or structures is what development is all about as argued by Dr. Mahmud Abba of Geography Department, Bayero University Kano ‘Part of the genesis of this problem is our narrow perception of the concept of physical development. The authorities believe that to achieve physical development every available open space must be converted to building. Do they forget that every city in the world is made up of three major physical components namely; structures, networks and open spaces? Are they turning a blind eye on the numerous social and ecological services being provided by the zoo?’ In addition, the fallacy that building shops is development: Kano used to be the second major centre of industries and manufacturing in Nigeria, not any more. Without manufacturing Kano has become a dumping ground for manufactured goods from elsewhere. Building shops and malls will not develop the economy rather gradually weakens it. The emergence of malls, so-called plazas and super markets is in reality killing the local businessmen. Kwari market will in some years come become history. All the thousands of people employed there will lose their jobs. The malls owned by multi-nationals, politicians and big businessmen will takeover. As it has always been to the best of my knowledge, the State Government has no business with Kano business men except to collect taxes. So there will be no plan for the thousands that will lose their jobs.
The relocation of the Kano Zoo and Botanical Gardens is uncalled for as many people have argued because if we measure the costs and the benefits we will rather let it be. There are serious implications for the relocation. The implications include among others:
Reduced access: moving the zoo to about 75 kilometres away from Kano to Tiga, Bebeji Local Government, many prospective visitors will miss out. Majority of the visitors are school children and taking pupils to a 75 kilometres journey will not only be expensive to parents but also put the lives of our children in danger. This will deny millions of people the opportunity created by Audu Bako to see, learn and enjoy nature. No matter how much money the government will generate from the sale of the land, it can’t be compared to the damage it will cause and the lives of children that will be exposed to risk. The school children are the future of Kano not the new shops that will be constructed.
Loss of Biodiversity: hundred thousands of plants and animals species living in the area will be lost forever. Come to think of the thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses and insects that will be displaced just because someone wants to get money. Kano Zoo according to Dr. Mahmud Abba said is ‘a biodiversity hot spot, a repository of endangered plants and animals; the last biological sanctuary in the desert of humans and buildings.
Stress relief destruction: Many people used the park to release themselves from the daily stress they are experiencing as Dr Mahmud captures ‘The garden provides an avenue for relaxation to thousands of residents of the city. It is also a centre of social interaction amongst the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society thereby promoting cultural integration and social inclusion in the city’
Exposing people to new diseases: the destruction of the zoo may expose us to new zoonotic diseases that are thriving in the zoo. One way humans are exposed to new disease causing microbes is through the destruction natural habitats Diseases such as COVID-19 might have originated from the destruction of natural habitats.
Loss of clean air: the thousands of trees in the zoo cleans the air, consume all the industrial air emissions from Sharada Industrial Estate and gives a healthy atmosphere in that high density area thus reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections among the residents around the zoo area. Once the trees are gone, we will see rise in respiratory tract infections and other pollution-induced conditions. This will not only make the people sick but also add the cost of health care on the people and the government.
Flood control: the area also provides storm-water ecological service at the interface of the surrounding residential area for many years. Converting the area to other land uses will trigger incessant flood events which may lead to loss of lives and property in the surrounding area.
Exposing Kano to the dangers of Climate Change: A Biogeographer from Bayero University Kano, Dr. Muhammad Nuraddeen Danjuma has captured this implication aptly when he said ‘The Zoological Garden has been a major carbon sink in the Kano Metropolis. Interestingly, this characteristic green space constitutes about 24 genera and 14 families of various plants which primarily sink the terrestrial carbon generated by human activity free of charge. In absolute carbon terms, the protection of green space and specifically the avoidance of deforestation deliver the highest carbon saving tasks. Therefore rather than spending huge billions on carbon sequestration and addressing climate change, it is imperative to keep the protected area intact. In the era of ‘donor fatigue, dwindling revenues and nature fighting back, I am sure the Governor will think twice and save Kano from everlasting implications and risks associated with defamation of this iconic landscape. According to the 2018 World Air Quality Report, air quality in Kano contains an average mean PM 2.5 concentration of 53.4μg/m3 which is more than 5 times above the maximum limits recommended by the World Health Organization. I am sure should there be the likes of the Garden in the metropolis to play vital role is air purification; the widespread apparent rates of respiratory tract diseases might be decimated.’ This is a long term effect that will cost the people long after the incumbent government has gone.
Displacement of local traders: As earlier noted, the new shops that will be built there will displace other local shops that have thrived for years. This means, the new structures will be detrimental to the people living in the area.
Options
Now, when you advise a government not to do one thing, it is only fair to give it options. For this reason, we wish to provide options to the State Government if indeed, it is after developing Kano State.
Let the Kano Zoo remain where it is, upgrade it to international standard since there is already plans for that.
If you must move the zoo, please let the place remain Kano Central Park, make another history by giving Kano what it deserves.
Leave the zoo in Kano emirate and let other emirates have its world class zoos, the proposed zoo at Tiga can serve Rano Emirate. We can have one each in Kano, Bichi and Gaya emirates.
Our Prayer
I am calling on the head of the government in Kano to please let the zoo remain. I will refer to the prayers made by Dr. Danjuma who in his article wrote ‘Kano State is lucky to have such a religious man as their Governor. Sir, for being outstanding in success stories of Abuja City and most importantly an embodiment of Islam, this destruction to the ecosystem must not take place under your watch. Such misapplication of force to isolate and devastate the garden will only lead to large-scale environmental perturbations and crises’ This is on behalf of the 15 million inhabitants of Kano metropolis and the citizens of Kano yet unborn..
Conclusion
This write up is one of the many that have been published and one of the many concerns expressed privately and in public. Many feel that we are just wasting our precious time as the government will not listen. We have written a strong petition to the Kano State Government when they allocated the land near the city wall along BUK road, we have over 100 signatures (over 10 Professors) from the Universities in Kano but the government ignored us and continued. But this will not discourage us from admonishing the government. What we want to tell every citizen of Kano is that we as scholars have done our part. History will not be unfair to us and lump us with the onlookers. Allah will not hold us accountable for being silent. As for those who because of the meagre amount they will receive and those who are intoxicated with power, their legacy will haunt them and their lines for eternity and Allah will judge them. Finally, I want to draw the attention of all those in the helm of Kano affairs that in the end they will account to Allah for their actions.

Yusuf M. Adamu PhD, MNAL
Department of Geography, Bayero University, Kano

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Opinion

Police brutality after #Endsars: Why justice may elude many

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Police brutality after #Endsars: Why justice may elude many

By Princess Ekwi Ajide

On 26th October, 2020 when 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), constituted judicial investigative panels of enquiry to look into allegations of police excesses in Nigeria, occasioned by the #EndSARS campaign, many felt respite was coming at last but that seems to be far from the truth as Nigerians tend to forget too soon.

As at 30th December, 2020, the judicial panels had received a total of 2,500 petitions but unfortunately as is the normal with the Nigerian government, nearly four months since the panels were constituted across the states, there have been minimal prosecutions or compensations. Thankfully last week the Lagos State government announced a N10m compensation for victims of police brutality but many are asking how sufficient would that be or if the sum to be distributed among many victims will be enough to placate pains and anger of wounds of many years. This investigation though, is for another day.

The petitions bothering on allegations of human rights abuses such as extra-judicial killings, excessive torture of suspects, extortion, harassment, sexual and gender based violence, indiscriminate arrests, illegal detention and abuse of power by the police and other security agencies are still being looked into because many of the panels have little or no funding to continue the job.

What then becomes of the outcome or findings of the panels? Observers say this conspiracy of silence smirks of lack of political will or a deliberate connivance by government and government officials to support the police to cover up.

EndSARS protesters who were later reported to have been allegedly shot at by the military in Lagos, killing about 12 and scores injured had sought among other things, the establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of reported cases of police indiscretion, disbandment of the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, among others and in response to these calls, states like Anambra, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Kaduna, Lagos, Imo, Ondo the Federal Capital Territory and a host of other states constituted a judicial panel to look into the allegations while the Federal government disbanded SARS but renamed and replaced it with what it called SWAT.

With the recent happenings in Nigeria however, one is wont to wonder if #EndSARS protests may have become efforts in futility since nothing has changed; citizens, journalists irrespective of age or status are still being brutalized by security agencies in Nigeria but the public seem to have forgotten so soon the carnage, loss of lives and property that followed the #EndSARS Campaign probably because these tragedies have become a daily occurrence and government is obviously catching in on the forgetfulness of Nigerians and may soon sweep under the carpet the many demands of the #EndSARS Campaigners and may not even punish the accused which will be like postponing the doomsday.

Apparently, #EndSARS was just one of the avenues for citizens to vent their anger and if these demands are not met appropriately, it may spell doom since the anger is still there just waiting for the opportunity.

Government may have succeeded in silencing the protesters but their anger has not been assuaged which is risky as something bigger than#EndSARS according to some religious leaders could be waiting to happen and when it happens, who knows? who or what will be caught in the line of fire?

Meanwhile, early in February, 2021, a group of youths again attempted to converge on the Lekki Toll Gate; scene of the alleged shootings in October 2020 to revive the #EndSARS struggle. Tagged #EndSARS2, the protest was however contained by security operatives who were on ground to maintain peace. Several arrests were made and the rally was terminated.

Efforts of the security operatives may have saved the day as hoodlums may once again hijack the rally just like it happened in October.

For this, the government needs to make hay while the sun shines as neglect of the agitations of #EndSARS may spell doom for Nigeria as a country if nothing is done and fast enough to placate the many agitations of the youths who in their best interest, should jettison all forms of violence

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Otò ge: Why Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq enjoys massive support in Kwara

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Otò ge: Why Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazaq enjoys massive support in Kwara

By Anjolaoluwa Folajimi

For several years, late Chief Olusola Saraki, Waziri Ilorin reigned supreme in the Kwara State politics. From the second republic down to the present democratic dispensation, his name made or marred the political fortune of many aspirants in the State.
His political clout transcend over three decades. The political legacy “Oloye” remained unrivalled until 2019 when the “Oto ge” Tsunami put an end to the political influence been enjoyed by the Sarakis in Kwara State politics.

With a change in government, courtesy of the “Oto ge” revolution, a political “greenhorn”, under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq emerged as the Governor of the State of Harmony. The new Kwara helmsman, a consumate businessman is the son of the first lawyer from the Northern Nigeria, late A.G.F AbdulRazaq, SAN.

Though not known in the political landscape of the state and by extension, the country, Abdulrazaq was fully prepared for governance, having contested and lost the Governorship seat in 2011 under the defunct Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), he has attended to the demand of the office since May 29, 2019 with total zeal, dedication and commitment. A focused and committed leader, the 7th executive Governor of Kwara State in the less than two years on the saddle, has changed the narratives of governance in the State. A development that has endeared him to the people in the 16 local government areas of the state. Not even his political detractors and the oposition can denied the fact that the 61 year old Governor has turned the face of governance, delivered dividend of democracy, give purposeful leadership to the state and written his name on the hearts of Kwarans with indelible ink.

Despite the rot in the system and the downturn of the economy, Abdulrazaq has brought his ingenuity to bear in turning the almost comatose fortune of the state back of its heels.

In the words of Ambassador Nurudeen Mohammed, a Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress and Nigeria’s immediate past Ambassador to Malaysia, “Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq remains a man of the people and he stands tall as a man of honour among the majority of our party members in the state, in spite of the unfair demarketing campaign launched against his administration by some party chieftains and their co-travelers in the opposition. This is not by chance. Not only has the Governor demystified the office of Governor with his uncommon humility, simplicity, and prudence, he has redefined the story of our state in many positive ways. Whether in health, education, road, or water, the Governor has touched lives in many ways never seen before. He has strategically taken governance to the people such that there is no electoral Ward in the state that cannot point to one or two things that they have benefited in just 18 months of his administration.

“A modest and humble personalty, the Governor who has driven his own private car since day one of his administration to date. Here is a Governor who lives in his own house till date. Here is a Governor who is not taking salary. Here is a Governor who is willingly opening up his government for accountability through the phenomenal social audit process. Here is a Governor who just wants to deliver his campaign promises to the people, despite the biting economic realities. Here is a Governor who gives every part of the state a fair sense of belonging by always identifying with them in time of cultural celebration or mourning, and extending government’s patronage to every segment of the state. Today, Kwara is a model state on the continent in youths and women inclusion in government.”

The retired diplomat rated the Governor high in the health sector. According to him, the health sector of the state has received about the highest priority even before the advent of Covid-19 pandemic.

Mohammed further said, “the administration has started rehabilitation works across dozens of decrepit primary healthcare facilities. Long-abandoned routine immunisation and vaccination is back. For the first time, Kwara now has isolation centres equipped with modern gadgets like ventilators, defibrillators, patient monitors, and others. Its oxygen plant has been revived. For the first time, the state now has ambulances with capacities to manage patients in critical conditions on the go. Indeed, Kwara is now listed as A-list state in healthcare sector.”

The story of education sector of the state has continue to beat the imagination of Kwarans. Priority attention was accorded the sector, which had hitherto suffered neglect by previous administrations leading to the state been blacklisted from accessing from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) fund for more than seven years before his advent as the Governor.
It is on record that Kwara State under Abdulrazaq, has accessed a backlog of N7.1bn UBEC counterpart funds with a matching grant of N7.1bn to gradually reposition the schools. Aside from the upcoming UBEC intervention, the state on its own is carrying out renovation works in at least 43 basic schools. With the UBEC funds in the kitty, no less than 600 basic schools are to get facelifts while teachers are also to be trained.

Worthy of commendation is the transparent process of recruiting 4701 qualified and competent teachers into our public primary, junior and senior secondary schools in the State.

Abdulrazaq’s developmental efforts are not limited to public institutions. In the wake of the novel Covid-19 pandemic, he extended his hands of kindness to Proprietors of 1,119 privately cowned schools in the state. Soft loan were given to help cushion the effects of the pandemic due to shutdown on public places on their schools and teachers.

Recalling Governor Abdulrazaq intervention in the provision of portable water, Hon. Abdulmumin Katibi, a one time member of Kwara State House of Assembly said, “in May 2019, water tanker was the source of potable water in most parts of Ilorin, the capital city, even in the Government House. Today, Pipe-borne water is back and stable in the metropolis while nearly 500 boreholes have either been dug or rehabilitated across the state. No fewer than nine water works have been fixed since this Governor came on board while contracts for more have been awarded. With water situation being tackled, Kwara is keying into the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), a key component of the Sustainable Development Goal 6 to promote hygiene and end open defecation. Under this scheme, many schools and hospitals across the state would now for the first time get tap water and pour-flush toilets.”

Urban and rural road infrastructure since Governor Abdulrazaq assumed office has continued to receive attention. The administration has fixed over 100 rural and urban roads/culverts/bridges. Many agrarian communities are now getting standard roads, those hitherto cut off from civilisation are being linked, while at least 500 rural roads are to be fixed under the World Bank-enabled Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP) arrangement for which the administration had earlier paid counterpart funds. These road projects are spread across the senatorial districts, deliberately linking agrarian areas to the urban centres.

Modelled after President Buhari’s Social Investment Programme, Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) is the Governor’s multi-faceted and nonpartisan response to the question of extreme poverty and government’s poor attention to the vulnerable. Under the scheme, at least 21,623 petty traders have accessed soft loans to stay afloat while over 10,000 transporters who could not work during the COVID-19 lockdown were supported. Similarly, already-enumerated 10,000 vulnerable and poor senior citizens, from age 60, are now getting monthly stipends under what would be the state’s first ever institutionalised social protection scheme.

The scheme is also offering free digital training to young people to help them cope in the new economy. Over 3000 persons received training in July last year while 10,000 more are undergoing a richer version of the course in the second phase of the programme in conjunction with Wootlab Innovation and Grow With Google. A total of 30,000 young people are billed to benefit from the training within three years.

It is on record that the federal government has indeed hailed Kwara State’s version of the Owo Isowo (TraderMoni) for its innovative features, such as the inclusion of BVN of the beneficiaries. This is just a few of the many interventions Governor Abdulrazaq has made to lift our people out of purverty. The interesting thing about him is that he sees governance as an affair that transcends party loyalty, and this explains why he has become so popular with the masses, to the chagrin of his traducers!

To achieve the desired transformation in the State, Governor Abdulrazaq’s administration has positively changed the narrative of staff welfare in the state civil service. There is now regular payment of salary. No more percentage payment and promotion of staff has resumed while arrears of salaries and allowances dating back to as far back as 2012 are now being paid. Besides, pensioners now enjoy regular payment of pensions. A sustainable arrangement for payment of gratuities on monthly basis has now been put in place.

However, the unprecedented achievements recorded within this short period is now being threatened by some self serving political leaders, with dangerous sense of entitlement, greed and lust for personal gains are out to forment trouble.

It is a known Convention in the ruling All Progressives Congress that the Governor of a state is the leader of the party in the state. This explained why the likes of Minister of Information, Lai Labode, his counterpart, Minister of State Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki and Akogun Oyedepo have failed in their bid to highjack the party machinery from the Governor.

Despite a well sustained campaign of caluminy by this set of individuals, the political rating and public perception of the Governor continue to assume a constant rise.

An instructive development was the recent endorsement of Governor Abdulrazaq by the kinsmen of the Information Minister from Irepodun Local Government area of the state. Lai Mohammed kinsmen and APC leaders who publicly identified with the Governor include former Kwara State Commissioner for Information, Oloriewe Raheem Adedoyin, a member Kwara State House of Assembly, Hon. Tayo Awodiji, Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Princess Bukola Babalola, Prince Shuaib Olanrewaju, Barr. Teju Ogintoye, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye(rtd), Elder Agboola Adewumi, Conrade Ben Dintoye, Alhaji Raheem Olokoba, Prince Samuel Alebiosu, Mrs. Deborah Aremu, Gen. Lasisi Abidoye(rtd), Mrs Shade Omoniyi, Chief Raphael Awotunde, Mr. Yomi Adeboye, Mr. Femi Ajibade, Dr. Sule Popoola, Mr. Debo Adeleke, Hon. Azeez Yakubu and others.

Declaring their support for the Governor at a Press Conference recently in Ilorin, the Minister’s kinsmen through their spokesperson, Hon. Olabanji Olayemi, who is also the Chairman, Kwara South caretaker committee, was quick to refer the Minister to some laudable projects of the Governor in their area. The projects include, “the completion of Taiwo Road, Omu Aran-Esie Museum Road asphalt lay, renovation of court building in Omu Aran, free surgery, state government social investment programmes such as Owo Arugbo and Owo Isowo, comprehensive renovation and construction of additional facilities in Oro Grammar School, Oro.

“Renovation of block of 3 classrooms with an office and store, GSS, Omuaran, renovation of a block of 4 classrooms, CHS, Ajase-Ipo, renovation of a block of 4 classrooms and workshop building, Esie/Iludun Technical College, renovation of examination Hall, GSS, Omu Aran, renovation of a block of Laboratory, PMC, Oro-Ago, and many mores.”

In their verdict, Olayemi said, “In the light of the enumerated achievements of the governor in Irepodun LGA, it is not difficult for us to publicly declare unequivocal support for His Excellency, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, the Governor and our party leader in Kwara State.”

The voice of people of Irepodun is on a daily basis being re-echoed from all the nooks and crannies of Kwara State. If in less than two years, Governor AbdulRazaq has recorded these milestone achievements spread across all the wards in the state, no sooner than later, he may emerge as the new political force that will dominate the political horizon of Kwara State for long.

Folajimi is a member of APC in Kwara state.

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OKOROCHA: ABUSE OF POWER AND BRIGANDAGE BY A GOVERNMENT OF HATE

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OKOROCHA: ABUSE OF POWER AND BRIGANDAGE BY A GOVERNMENT OF HATE

By Frank Tietie

I have not hidden my personal admiration for Rochas Okorocha who became a billionaire long before he held any major political office in Nigeria.

By privilege as an adjutant counsel to Okorocha in one of his cases, I have personally engaged him in exchanges and briefings for many hours and I am convinced beyond doubt, by moderate standards that he is a good man, especially in comparison to the average Nigerian politician.

By dint of hard work and the natural business knack of the Igbo man, Okorocha became very rich and did not need to be the governor of Imo State to make money. He made money without government.

No politician or business man has ever done what Okorocha has achieved for human development through the Rochas Foundation which has offered free quality education to thousands of orphans and indigent students in Nigeria and all over Africa. These he started before he became governor and has continued after leaving office as governor of Imo State. I will therefore, not apologize to anyone for loving such a man who possesses such humanity.

So what has Rochas Okorocha done?
The man possesses a worldview that sets him apart from the normal Nigerian politician. I see him as a highly misunderstood person yet his works speak better for him. He is so people oriented, driven by his uncommon brand of philanthropy while his business ideas spin so much money. That is why he is so loved by many and equally hated by his political rivals for being so different.

If Okorocha stole money while in Imo State Government House, the EFCC would know, considering the staggering number of petitions currently against him. He is about the most investigated former governor by the anti-graft agencies.

Unlike the typical African politician who would pillage state resources and hide in Swiss banks or buy property in Dubai, Okorocha put his major investments in real estate and education in his home state of Imo because he didn’t have any skeletons to hide.

Today, impassioned by the seeds of hatefulness, some people and a current government in Imo State have decided to engage in a brutish vendetta to satisfy their hatred, by attempting to label and confiscate property linked to Okorocha in Imo State. Can they try that with his real estate investments in Abuja? They don’t even have a court order. Imagine the lawlessness!

So will Nigeria ever witness standard policing? Must the Nigeria Police be associated with everything untoward? My answer is NO!.

But if Okorocha must be arrested by the Nigeria Police for any reason, should it be made a political festival of insults and humiliation of Okorocha himself, with supervised beatings and manhandling of his aides by sympathisers of Governor Hope Uzodinma? These have been reported to have allegedly taken place on the orders of Governor Uzodinma himself and under the supervision of the Nigerian Police.

Again, this is an abuse and misuse of Nigeria Police powers. Therefore, the clamour for state police has been further defeated when contemplated with the likes of Governor Uzodinma in mind. Such brigandage and barbarity will be the order of day in states where the Governor fails to realize his duty is to preserve order and good governance by upholding legal standards in whatever circumstances.

Governor Uzodinma and many rivals of Okorocha appear to be so afraid and intimidated by the continued towering personality of Okorocha who is currently one of the most ardent voices in the Nigerian Senate. It is also rife that he wants to run for Nigeria’s presidency in 2023 to become the first Igbo President of post civil war Nigeria.

Whereas Senator Rochas Okorocha ought to be the pride of every Igbo person at this material time yet, it is his kith and kin from Imo State that want to destroy the good name of one of their own, purely out puny and petty rivalry. Who does that in modern Nigeria? From Second Republic Barkin Zuwo to Peter Odili, which former Governor, however so vilified has been so badly mistreated by his own people, the way some Imo people have decided to do to one of their own? Like they would always say: “The South eats up it own while the North protect its own”. And one wonders and complains about the continued reign of Northern hegemony in the midst of Southern hate amongst themselves?

The saga of Okorocha arrest by the Nigeria Police with the reported associated violence involving some officials of Imo State together with a band of name calling elements against Okorocha and his aides fall below the standards of law enforcement even for an emergent country as ours.

The Inspector General of Police is therefore urged to urgently investigate the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the Senator and former Governor and ensure that proper policing standards are adhered to in order to prevent a perception of witch-hunt of Senator Rochas Okorocha thus, engendering disaffection among his numerous supporters in Imo State and all over Nigeria.

Frank Tietie
Human Rights Lawyer,
writes from Abuja

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