The First Lady is right here!

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By Abdullah Abdulganiy

Last year, circa September, Kwara netizens woke up to a ballistic missile fired by ‘Five-Star General?’ Ibraheem Abdullateef, who now shares the column page of The Ravens with me. No, it wasn’t an explosive in the real sense of it, but it was a piece of scribbled words that shook the new media space heavily. It validated the truism that, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’.

Abdullateef had written a missive in the first print publication of a fast rising Ilorin-based medium, The Informant247 with an inquisitive title, “Kwara’s First Lady or Forced Lady?” Perhaps, because many people didn’t have access to the print edition, the article gained more popularity, if not notoriety, when it was published online, with a subtle yet querying caption, “Where is Kwara’s First Lady?”

Abdullateef, pulled no punches, in speaking the brutal truth that the First Lady, Dr Olufolake AbdulRazaq was not up and doing 100 days after her husband mounted the saddle of Kwara State. His argument was that though the office of the first lady is not constitutionally recognized, by Nigeria’s tradition, nay global standards, first ladies are mothers whose activeness and participation tell positively on the state.

If anything, the write up jolted the Kwara First Lady back to life and placed her on her toes. It perhaps led to the creation of an NGO in her name. And if the NGO had been in existence, it enlivened and invigorated it. Thankfully, one year down the line, we have found a befitting response to the inquisitive Abdullateef: ‘The First Lady is right here!’

Yes, Dr AbdulRazaq is right here. Her public contributions, social advocacies, empowerment programmes through her Foundation, Ajike People Support Center, have been fascinating in recent times and are depicting that the diplomat is right with us in the state. No more absent-mindedness!

Of all her interventions, the one that catches my fancy is her foresightedness and longsightedness in providing opportunities that have sustainable and lasting impacts on the livelihood of people, and not the immediate benefit alone. A bagful of people are enrolled in her empowerment programmes where they are learning different vocations, skills and trades.

The latest which necessitated this epistle was her intervention in the travails of the Ilorin blue-eyed family. In it, she has acted like a true mother of the state. Dr AbdulRazaq stood by Riskat, her daughters, and with her foresight enrolled her into the art of make-up, which has enduring economic and livelihood impacts for her than the pecuniary motivations that may only yield immediate gains. To put it differently, she’s not only giving Riskat a fish, but also teaching her how to catch fishes.

The first lady, as I read, is also planning to set up a patent medicine store for Riskat since she apprenticed in nursing/pharmacy. Not only that, she is ready to secure an apartment for the family. The icing on the cake is that she dispensed lots of efforts in reconciling Riskat with her husband, AbdulWasi’. To maintain a balance and forestall future eventualities, Dr AbdulRazaq is also looking into empowering the husband by employing him as a maintainance officer. And so many other interventions in the pipeline to firmly re-establish the family.

It is my prayer that Dr AbdulRazaq will be rewarded abundantly for these strides, as I charge the family not to be what the Yorubas call ‘Afi ibi sure olore’ — Those who bite the fingers that fed them — in their dealings. More importantly, there are many Riskats scattered around Kwara and environs, please, if you have the ability, comb for one or two, empower and lift them up, using what I describe as the ‘Olufolake AbdulRazaq template’ or a better one, while the government also soldiers on in its own roles. This way, Nigeria moves forward.

Well done, Ajike People Support Center! Well done, Dr AbdulRazaq!

el-Rufai: How NBA got it wrong

Following a petition by the Open Bar Initiative, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has withdrawn its invitation to the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, initially billed to speak at a session in commemoration of the Association’s Annual Conference (2020).

The petitioners accused el-Rufai of misgovernance, recklessness in speech and actions, lawlessness, disregard for court orders among other things. Various meanings, ranging from political to religious to ethnic, have been read to the decision of the NBA. The President of the Association, Mr Paul Usoro would later come out to dismiss all these insinuations.

To be sure, I acknowledge the issues raised in the petition. They are worth it and grievous enough to take such action. At least, it sends the right signal to the Nigerian elites, and is an informal social control mechanism. Nevertheless, both the petitioners and the NBA got it wrong on many counts and gave way for all the colorations attributed to it.

First, who forced the planning committee to extend an invite to the governor in the first place? The unsolicited invite, later withdrawn, depicts the NBA as an organisation that lacks internal coordination, cooperation and mutual understanding. The joke is on them. One would have expected that all these issues have been talked out before going public with the invite. The NBA has only succeeded in washing its dirty linen outside as a matter of fact.

Second, what moral right does an Association that cannot conduct an election without allegations of malpractices and infractions have to condemn a person for lawlessness, misgovernance and so on? The same Association that assembles persons who have series of accusations of corruption and misdemeanor hanging on their necks. Matter of factly, the outgoing president of the NBA was reportedly indicted of corrupt practices bordering on fraud. He who comes to equity should come with clean hands. Charity should begin at home.

Third, the petition which culminated in the decision of the NBA smacks of double standard and selective justice. If el-Rufai was crucified for misgovernance, lawlessness, recklessness in speech and so on, what are the likes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Nyesome Wike still doing in the list of invitees/speakers? Both personalities are portraits of all el-Rufai was dis-invited for. The justice should be distributive. See why people would read political sentiments and meanings to the decision?

In conclusion, if the NBA is serious about fighting lawlessness, impunities and corruption, it should also withdraw the invitation extended to the duo of Obasanjo and Wike. The Association should also take a step further in revoking the membership of those alleged of infractions within its ranks until they clear their names. NBA should also learn to organise credible, free and fair elections. Until then, the petitioners and the NBA are just being mischievous. They are pots calling kettle black!

Mamman Daura and Aisha Buhari’s unexemplary conduct

The unexemplary attitude of President Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura and his wife, Aisha Buhari shows that some animals are more equal than others in Nigeria. It’s a grave assault on the collective sensibilities of Nigerians. Both personalities have not led by example when it’s most especially needed.

At a time the international flight is shut down from people, the duo had jetted out of the country with no genuine reasons different from or superior to others’. Daura reportedly went on a business trip and on the other hand, Buhari on a medical trip. Many Nigerians also have similar commitments, but are drawn back by the ban on international flights.

This is most abominable and is a major minus for the Buhari administration. It shows that we are still mired in the past where sacred cows exist in the polity. Therefore, what has changed? What was the garrulous Aisha criticising Tunde Sabiu for the other time if she’s also flouting COVID-19 protocols? This appears a disservice to Naira Marley, Funke Akindele and many other Nigerians penalized for going against safety rules.

It doesn’t augur well at all. The medical tourism the First Lady went for is a story for another day even when Nigerians at the low ebb languish in deteriorating health institutions in Nigeria. Her comment after returning to Nigeria was totally uncalled for because she’s at the position to change the narratives. If anything, it’s an admission of total failure. The Revolution is no doubt coming, even if not the Sowore’s style.

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