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OPINION

Why the noise about the Nigerian Presidency and the Power Cabal? By Segun Awoniyi

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Cabals exist everywhere and at all levels of authority, tiers of government, organizational administration even at community levels. Bad commentaries and pouring invectives on the leadership at any level are to say the least, denigrating, demoralizing and demotivating. A king or monarch without a “stonewall or bulwark’’ mounted by trusted servants, aides or officials is vulnerable to attacks and all kinds of assault.

Cabals hold sway at palaces as the king is naturally protected against direct assaults and verbal duels.  Even when his majesty is seated, the Prime Minister and any other authorized spokesperson speaks on his behalf and takes the heat or backlashes.

To see the king, and going by the set up at the palaces, one has to go through the several levels of gate-keeping authorities for clearance, security checks and approvals and that is why security breaches are a rarity at that level.
In big companies, conglomerates, organizations, associations and business empires, “cabals’’ in the form of Executive Management, Boards or Committees do exist. This is  because some level of politics is involved in decision-making and to give teeth to the executive orders. It is commonplace to hear at that level that the “MD/CEO says or approves so and so.’’

In governance, aides appointed by the helmsman and Chief Executive are trusted and tested, who must be of phlegmatic temperament and are willing and ready to carry out tasks to the letter with the appointor’s stamp of authority. The aide(s) must be disingenuous, plucky, calm, upbeat and well-informed about developments, ready to ward off any gale-force, fend off cooked up allegations, throw lifebelt to floundering issues in consultation with his Principal.

Experientially, serving and past governors all have powerful aides with some of them later becoming governors, ministers and ambassadors. One of such is the Chief of Staff position. If the head of the cabal or kitchen cabinet had not mastered the state craft with a pedigree of astuteness, master-organizer/planner and tactician, he will stand no chance of being entrusted with power.

In Nigeria today, the man who calls the shot at the nation’s seat of power is Abba Kyari, who was appointed to that office on August 27, 2015.

According to Wikipedia, Kyari a retired Nigerian Army one-star General (Brigadier), was a military governor in the North, Commander, Nigerian Army’s 1 Brigade and Army’s Artillery. As an attestation to his stellar performance in public office as governor, he successfully implemented a master plan for Kaduna City.

He also led the Northern delegation to the 1994 National Constitutional Conference and had the singular opportunity to chair the Defence Committee. Kyari has since made a successful foray into business and politics.

Kyari, a public administrator par excellence in the eye of the public and from people’s assessment, has a lot of political and administrative savvy, aversion to media publicity, pulling himself always by his bootstraps, unperturbed and focused always on his duties, and giving no room for any distraction. A man still full of energy at his age and as highly circumspect as his Principal.

Without being immodest, those giving Kyari bashing and calling him names such as the head of a cabal at Presidency are either ignorant of his duties and roles as the head of the presidential staff and the president’s closest aide or are mischievous. For the purpose of education, the word “cabal’’ (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English) is suggestive of a “ small group of people who make secret plans, especially in order to have political power.’’

Such plans, inter alia, are political, administrative, economic, social, security etc for the smooth and effective coordination of the Presidency and governance.

The structure and organization of American Presidency is apposite. The presidency is really a group of organizations rather than an individual person. The President is the Chief of State as well as the Chief Executive Officer, representing the country in its relationship with other nations even as Chief diplomat as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

With the enormousness of his powers, duties, influence and relevance, the president, therefore, needs a “strong’’ aide in the capacity of the Chief of Staff to assist him in enhancing his capacity to deliver and discharge his gargantuan functions as president. There is no gainsaying that the President is expected to fill the position with somebody with political support, loyalty and acumen who, of course, is also sympathetic to his administration’s aims, objectives and policies.

In U.S. where we borrowed our model of presidency from, the White House consists of hundreds of people who are the president’s personal staff, trusted and loyal; most of whom are his friends or former employees.

However, in Nigeria, the sponsored hue and cry, huffing and campaign of calumny against Abba Kyari is probably as a result of his stature, enigmatic expressions and unwavering loyalty to Mr President.
He is passionate in his desire for the President’s success, for the wheel of governance to run smoothly devoid of the distraction of the 2023 succession battles. Kyari brands such distractions as a disservice to the electorate and Mr President. He is equally averse to the use of state resources by the President’s appointees to prosecute the 2023 polls, still more than three and a half years away.

Kyari’s forte is delivering next level good governance, bequeathing a legacy of electoral reform and non-imposition of candidates or “anointing’’ of a successor – wants a divine arrangement; zero tolerance for graft and malfeasance in government.

Observably since the return of Nigeria to full-blown democracy in 1999, Kyari, no doubts, has emerged the most powerful and effective Chief of Staff in Aso Rock. In politics anywhere in the world, it is trendy to hear of “demolition job’’, that is, opposition and some senior party leaders, who have an agenda to set out to do a “demolition job’’ either on the President and or the Chief of Staff.

The goal is simple: Get rid of the hard-wired CoS, the president’s master-shield and pare down or whittle down the president’s influence, powers, or the strong presidency, compromise and take advantage of its vulnerability as well as plant their own cabal to actualise the dream (2023).

Recounting our rich political history, the great sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, by the strength of character of his “cabal’’ at that time (trusted aides) – Ex-Govs. Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Ige, Lateef Jakande, Ambrose Alli, Bisi Onabanjo, Profs. Banji Akintoye, Bamiro etc) was able to successfully implement the free and qualitative education in the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, the first in Africa and even before our colonisers, Britain introduced free education.
A weak presidency with lily-livered aides is synonymous to a floundering presidency and government, while a strong presidency with men of courage and sangfroid will translate to a strong, effective and stable polity. A masquerade without the man behind the masquerader is nothing but a mere costume. Only the guilty and those that Prof. Wole Soyinka referred to as “corruption fighting back’’ and those positioning themselves so soon after the 2019 elections for the 2023 presidential race, are afraid of an uncompromising CoS Abba Kyari.

President Muhammadu Buhari should not push the panic button or allow himself to be stampeded into tinkering with the configuration at the power centre in the Presidency, else the “stonewall’’ will be broken down and flung open to those on the fray for rough and tumble of politics – ultimately to take over power with deftness in 2023 thereby destroying the gains and legacies of eight years of Buhari Presidency.

The sardonic comments about the person and office of the Chief of Staff are unsavoury. The Office of the Chief of Staff is strategic and remains the fulcrum of the nation’s Presidency and only a trusted, tested and experienced administrator can fit into it.

– Segun Awoniyi writes from Federal Housing Estate, Kubwa, Abuja

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OPINION

Pantami is the man of the year, By Uwa Suleiman

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There is a global conformity in leadership circles to assess the achievements of decision makers using a hundred days as the yardstick. Perhaps, the timeline is based on allowing enough time for political office holders to “settle in” and establish a few quick wins. In Nigeria particularly, it is mostly regarded as a “celebration of 100 days in office” characterised by newspaper advertorials replete with prayers and congratulatory messages. But like everything else, the times are changing, an effective, impactful, innovative and robust pattern of leadership with zero tolerance for down time is emerging and leading the charge, is the Honourable Minister of Communications; the proactive, pragmatic, tirelessly hardworking, intelligent Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami).

Dr Isa was sworn into office as a federal minister on August 21st 2019 and he literally hit the ground running. Without compulsion, theatrics or grandiose theoretic, the trail blazer is changing the narrative. He has achieved so much in just forty days, we are confronted with possibilities that cannot be put off for another sixty. On Saturday, September 28th 2019, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and Instinct Wave deservedly honoured him as the IT MAN OF THE YEAR at the annual Nigeria Technology Innovation and Telecommunications Award, an event with a reputation of being the Oscars of IT in Nigeria. Coincidentally, he was in far away Turkey on a national assignment – the e-government Summit where he brokered a strategic win for Nigeria, and could not attend in person. He delegated a worthy representative, the Managing Director of Nigeria Communications Satelite (NIGCOMSAT) Dr Abimbola Alale who stood in excellently.

Some critics may argue that the award, though well merited, is based on his performance as the immediate past Director General of NITDA where he established transformation in unprecedented proportions. I however, believe that Dr Pantami has already set a record – shattering standard, in his present capacity in just forty days to earn his status as IT MAN OF THE YEAR.

Right from the maiden press conference he held on assumption of office, his directives to Agencies and Parastatals under his supervision were clear, precise and in accordance with their various mandates. There was no ambiguity. Direct, impactful actionable instructions. The strategic thinker had done his homework, he came prepared. His in depth knowledge and understanding of the sector immediately reflected in his action plan. As a man who keeps his promises and lives by a strict moral code of completing any task he sets upon, never leaving anything to chance, he has consistently supported and encouraged his able team of CEOs in accomplishing set objectives and this exemplary leadership has brought about the following achievements in the last forty days;

An unprecedented, solid foundation for security enhancement by ordering the deactivation of all improperly registered SIM cards in the country. It is no news that 90% of cyber crimes (mostly financial), commited in Nigeria today, are carried out using improperly registered SIM cards because, they are almost impossible to trace. He immediately issued a directive to the Telecommunications regulator NCC in that regard. A large percentage of Nigerians initially doubted it could be done, but they failed to reckon with the force called Pantami. He followed up on it and by Wednesday, September 25th 2019 deadline, the order was in full effect. All improperly registered SIM cards are at the moment disabled and are no longer in use. The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) reports a figure of 2.2 million in that category! The security advantage of this achievement is already gaining momentum and will be sustained. There is a security apparatus in place to trace any registered SIM card used for criminal purposed within an hour.
As a computer scientist and unapologetic technology advocate, Pantami knows that the use of technology in crime can only be countered in the same deadly measure by dep[oying superior technology against it. The establishment of the country’s first Emergency Communication Centre in Katsina State on September 23rd 2019 assures Pantami’s place in history as a practical problem solver. A man who abhors empty talk, his actions speak for him. The ECCs will be established in all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory FCT with a 24/7 manned response toll free number 112. This is a first of its kind initiative beneficial to all Nigerians regardless of ethnic, religious or social status. It is leveraging on technology to ensure the safety of lives and property of citizens at its best! In one fell swoop, Pantami has created jobs, bridged the digital divide in the area of security between Nigeria and the developed world and given hope to the ordinary Nigerian that government for the people is a reality.
Having initiated and secured the ISO certification ISO 27001;2013 for the National Information Technology Development Agency as then Director General, the Honourable Minister of Communications again read the riot Act to all Parastatals under his purview. He has directed that by 2020, they must be ISO Certified. It will be done because the processes have begun in earnest . I can guarantee that in the nearest future, the entire civil service will be falling over themselves to be ISO Certified. Wait for it! To be ISO certified means an organization has met the International Standards Organisation’s Quality Management System and is focused on service delivery with customer satisfaction as the main objective. Now, just imagine for a moment a Nigerian Civil Service that is ISO Certified!
I have always maintained that there is no other public personality who exemplifies the spirit of national unity better than Dr Isa and this truth continues to manifest in diverse ways on a daily basis. This is a man whose mentality is so patriotic he is not limited by the petty borders of selfishness. He believes in the noble cause of national development in its entirety. A phenomenal team player who is not enticed by personal praise or gain, he remains the one public servant who will pursue a common goal outside his comfort zone without selfish motives. On September 16th 2019, Pantami wrote to the Honourable Minister of Woks and Hosing Dr Babatunde Raji Fashola imploring him to use his good offices to intervene speedily in addressing the deplorable state of some major road networks in the country.
Dr Pantami is not the Minister of works but he recognises his authority as an influencer and characteristically, he uses his influence for the benefit of all. The economic implication of this request which I am positive will be favourably considered, is not lost on the farmer, the business men and women, the road users in general who have to navigate through triple the normal challenges of getting their goods and services across Nigeria. Security challenges of armed robbery and banditry, loss of lives through vehicle accidents and the total inability of certain services reaching rural areas aided by bad road infrastructure will also be addressed.
Three days later on September 19th 2019, he penned a similar letter to his colleague in Agriculture requesting the inclusion of Gombe, his home state in agricultural interventions citing their proven skill and prowess in that field. This is selfless leadership and how to get things done. Watch and learn.
As a Minister with federal might, he has taken his resilient drive for national development across borders. His commitment to putting Nigeria on the global map is legendary and he pursues his mandate with relentless zeal. On Friday September 20th 2019, he led the Nigerian delegation to a meeting with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) Team, organisers of the Global Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) to canvass for greater visibility for indigenous start ups, better opportunities for exhibitors, strategic networking windows for policy makers and a speaking slot on the global stage for Nigeria.
September 26th 2019, the enigmatic minister arrived Geneva, Switzerland to formally give national consent, to a global resolution of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) at its third Extraordinary Congress. This means Nigeria as a member nation will comply with International Renumeration Rates, uphold the rules for international mail exchanges, stimulate growth in mail, parcel and financial services as well as improve service delivery.
The very next day September 27th 2019, the indefatigable ambassador of change was in Ankara, Turkey leading a delegation of diplomats and industry regulators to an international partnership in the areas of Capacity Building (specifically scholarships for indigent students), e-Government development and broadband penetration, National Information Security System Platform for SIM and Mobile Registration using Digital Identity and Cybersecurity.
This is a worthy ambassador of Nigeria whose intents, words and actions are committed to the pursuit and attainment of nationalistic goals. He is deliberate in everything. Dr Pantami’s every action is strategically keyed into the President’s three point Agenda;
Security
Anti corruption
Economic Growth
His loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Vision and Mission can be summed up in his own words “The vision and mission of President Muhammadu Buhari is our only vision and mission. We are in office to ensure that the President’s Agenda for national security, anti corruption war and rapid economic development succeeds. We as public officers have no other goal. We are not interested in individual success, our concern is the collective success of Nigeria as a nation and the prosperity and safety of all Nigerians”.
When I wrote in a previous article that “he will disrupt the norm…he will blaze the trail….the sector that gets him is the luckiest”, it was a statement backed by the trusted, guaranteed integrity and credibility of a God fearing, truly patriotic Nigerian. The IT MAN OF THE YEAR award has been earned . Congratulations are in order.
On behalf of the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Communications, the entire Management and staff of the Federal Ministry of Communications and indeed the entire ICT Ecosystem in Nigeria, Congratulations to our boss, the headmaster of technology in Nigeria, the unifier, the enabler and symbol of change, problem solver and Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM MCPN.

Suleiman is Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications.

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OPINION

Dyed-in-the-wool: Why Osinbajo’s loyalty to Buhari cannot be questioned, By Benjamin Okeke

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Those who know President Muhammadu Buhari whether as a former Head of State, elder statesman and now as a democratically elected President are unanimous in the belief that the retired army general is not effusive with praises. Many say his deadpan visage and taciturnity are a spin-off of his military background. In fact, in the run-up to the 2015 elections, these character components were a major campaign tool of the opposition, which said he will be an apathetic and detached President. That notion was never explicitly corrected. Hate him or like him, the President cannot be stampeded (who can even dare?) to talk or praise anyone except he is profoundly convinced that the person deserved it.

Yet, if there’s any man whose singular actions have always impressed, excited and humanised President Buhari, it is none other than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. When it is about Osinbajo, President Buhari lights up, sings his praises whether he was present or not, and never shies away from telling anybody who cares to listen that Nigeria could not have had a better Vice President; and that he is luckiest to have him by his side.

At the height of his ill health in 2017, President Buhari invited Osinbajo to London where he was recuperating to personally thank him for his performance, dedication and service to the country as Acting President. “The efforts by the Vice President as the Acting President are commendable. He deployed his youth and intellect to run all over the place. Thank God that I have the time to watch him on NTA 24 hours and I congratulate him,” the President said, adding, “I allowed him to come and see me so that I can personally thank him for all that he has done,” Buhari said. There are not many people who have been so eulogised by Buhari in this lifetime.

On the occasion of his 60th birthday, the President described Osinbajo as a running mate turned partner in the service to Nigeria. A year later, while congratulating him on yet another birthday, President Buhari thanked Osinbajo for being a loyal and dependable partner and wished him many more years of service to God, to Nigeria, and humanity. Beyond birthdays, in the line of duty proper, President Buhari has never been tongue in cheek in his assessment of the Vice President; he says it as he feels it. At a meeting with traditional rulers in Ogun State earlier in the year, Buhari spoke of Osinbajo’s pivotal role in delivering on the ‘Change Agenda’ in the past four years, particularly in his capacity as the Head of the National Economic Council (NEC). Responding to the Vice President’s presentation at the meeting on the economic outlook in the country in the last four years and how the APC-led administration had done more with fewer resources, the President said: “(Osinbajo) being the Chairman of NEC is in a very strong position to know what we are earning and what we are doing with the earnings. I am very pleased with his vast experience and intellect.

He has captured effectively what the administration has done and I commend him for playing a very great part in that. Thank you, Mr Vice President.”

Last May, at the breaking of fast at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where the President hosted top government officials, he said he was upset with the level of poverty in the land and challenged the elite to do something very urgent to ameliorate the pathetic situation. The guests were stunned not knowing what the President was driving at. There was pin-drop silence in the elegantly laid out hall while cutleries hung in midair; many a guest undecided whether to go on eating or stop to get the import of the message.

The President continued, “When I drive around the country, what upset me very much is the status of our poor people – you see young people, the so-called Almajiris with torn dresses, with a plastic bowl. They are looking basically for what to eat. The question of education (to them) is a luxury. I think the Nigerian elite are all failing because I think we should have a programme that will at least guarantee some basic education for our people no matter how poor they are.” Then, the clincher!
“So, I welcome the Vice-President’s initiative of the School feeding programme. If you check in your localities, the enrolment into schools improved because a lot of children can get at least one good meal a day. This is the position of this country,” the President added, as the guests roused in ovation to the VP.

But the President was not done. He pointed out jocularly; “This `market money’ (Tradermoni), I warned the Vice-President. I don’t like him to be mobbed, especially the way I see hefty women coming and confronting him, he should be very careful.” The hall erupted in laughter again. Then the President added seriously, “These are very good initiates. Initially, I was quite reluctant but I must admit that they are very good programmes and they endear this government to a lot of poor people because of this N5, 000 or N10, 000 being given to them as loans. They are fantastic programmes and I have to admit quite honestly that the Vice-President was ahead of me by insisting on them.” Instructively, the President said that even when he is not totally in support of an idea and the VP insisted, “He knows me, I will say `okay, go and do what you like.’ He did it and I’m very pleased as he is being very successful.”

For Prof Osinbajo, loyalty is his strong suit; he wears it like a second skin, a badge of honour which he proudly shows off. On a visit to the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumin Usman, for the inauguration of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic, Osinbajo said, “I feel very much at home in Katsina. More so, because this is the state of the President who has taken me as a brother; in fact, the President has taken me as a son in the way he treats me.” Osinbajo was reported to have also said that with the kind of responsibilities assigned to him, Buhari had left no one in doubt that both of them could live together as brothers. This has been the pattern of the relationship between the President and the Vice President; one of mutual love, loyalty and respect for each other. And the situation is no different from the relationship between Osinbajo and leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande. Even as Vice President, Osinbajo defers to these men as his political leaders.

Otherwise regarded as the most utilised, ubiquitous and cerebral Vice President that Nigeria has ever had in her democratic experiment; his brilliance and hard work have come in handy for the administration. Do not forget, when the federal government needed to take its social programmes to the masses in markets and farms across the length and breadth of the country, Prof Osinbajo was the man to do the job. And, why not? He is affable and accessible; pressing the flesh comes naturally to him; virtues he deployed to the benefit of a government that tottered on the brink of sheer disconnect with the masses.

Everywhere he went, the Vice President made many do a rethink about the Buhari-led administration. He campaigned and cajoled the people into seeing beyond the prevailing hardship in the country, promising a utopian nation if they got a second term. They have since got the second term but at a huge personal cost to Osinbajo. In the course of taking the field, it would be recalled that the Vice President and nine others escaped unhurt when a hired helicopter conveying them to Kabba, Kogi State, crash-landed. That was in February 2019. In a tweet posted by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, he stated, “President Muhammadu Buhari has praised what he called ‘the tenacious spirit’ of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who survived a helicopter crash in Kogi state.”

Undaunted, he went ahead with his campaign mission. Such was his commitment! Earlier in June 2018, a chopper that was to convey Osinbajo from the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, was forced to land immediately after takeoff. Osinbajo was in the school for the graduation ceremony of Senior Division Course 1 /2018 participants. The chopper had earlier taken the Vice-President to the college for the ceremony. However, while taking off, it could not ascend beyond tree level, emitting thick smoke and landing on the same spot abruptly. None of these adversities has stopped the VP from remaining committed to the ideals espoused by his principal.

This is why the unfounded rumours being peddled by political merchants that the presidency is emasculating the VP are nothing but mere fabrications. When the President replaced the Economic Management Team headed by Osinbajo with an Economic Advisory Council, there was widespread panic that Osinbajo’s influence was deliberately being whittled down as he seems to be becoming too formidable a prospective presidential candidate come 2023. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even when the presidency said the move was to change the strategy and direction of the economic agenda, the peddlers of the rumour continued wallowing in scepticism, forgetting that the VP is still the chairman of the National Economic Council, which membership cuts across the 36 state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other government officials and agencies whose duties hinge on the economy.

At no time has the Vice President mooted the idea of contesting in 2023 even though he is eminently qualified and well-positioned to do so, but for now, his loyalty and commitment is to help his principal achieve the Next Level agenda; and his party, the APC, to fulfil its manifesto of better life for Nigerians across board.

Okeke wrote from Lagos, Nigeria

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OPINION

25 lessons I learnt from Olusegun Osoba’s autobiography, ‘Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics, By Azuh Arinze

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I devoted my weekend to devouring Aremo Olusegun Osoba’s autobiography, Battlelines – Adventures In Journalism And Politics. And without any apology, I want to confess that I thoroughly relished and enjoyed it. I also would like to recommend it to all, but especially journalists and politicians whose terrains were well covered in the book.

Parading all of 341 pages, and published by Diamond Publications Limited, Battlelines, besides being racy and unputdownable, is simply one ‘helluva’ a book. Once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down. And personally, I never stopped till I finished.

Like most autobiographical works, the book is littered with life’s lessons. But below are my 25 favourites:

1. ALWAYS BE PREPARED: Osoba, from my deductions from the book, was more than prepared, especially by his godfather, Alhaji Babatunde Jose, for all the roles he ended up playing, both in journalism and politics. Simply put, it was that preparation, both internal and external, that enabled him rise to the top ‘so fast’. Imagine having a Vespa and a telephone line even as a reporter! Osoba sure invested in himself and his craft.

2. YOU NEED QUALITY CONTACTS IN JOURNALISM: Osoba, in his active days, was not an ‘office journalist’. He was always out there in the field. And armed with enough quality sources and contacts, his report card is still being admired and saluted till date, even by the younger generation. For example, while the Nigeria/Biafra war was on and Zik made a surprise appearance at the Lagos airport, he was there to capture it; he also interviewed President Tubman of Liberia, President Gowon and equally got some exclusive photos, from the singular event, although the headline he gave the story: ‘Head Of State Excited, Very Happy’ later earned him an arrest by Umaru Shinkafi, who was in charge of national security then.

3. TO SUCCEED, YOU MUST BE READY TO TAKE RISKS: Osoba, a master risk taker, captured it thus: “A journalist who cannot take risk and is unadventurous is not worthy of the name…” Risk takers, sincerely, usually succeed more than those who are lily livered. And it’s evident in the book. From moving even when there was a curfew to venturing where many dreaded, Osoba, simply put, is lion-hearted.

4. RECORD KEEPING IS VERY IMPORTANT: Facts, indeed, speak for themselves. So, always keep records. Osoba, besides making some shocking revelations, was able to back them up with incontrovertible evidence(s). From Confidential government documents to decades-old letters, the Akinrogun has them all in the book. Obasanjo/I.A Taiwo, Jose/Sketch, Momoh/Ibrahim, Omowale Kuye/ Herald…Even personal communication/letters between Alade Odunewu/Babatunde Jose/L.L Cross concerning his studies abroad were all captured in the book.

5. PRAY TO BE AT THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME: Journalists are not spirits. They only depend on sources, ideas, tip offs and so on to write beautiful stories. Being at the right place at the right time also helps. And it really, really helped Osoba. Just two examples will suffice here – he had gone on a visit to Atom Kpera in Enugu and while waiting in the man’s office, the then CP of the State, Kafaru Tinubu came to inform him that Dimka had been arrested and thus he became the first to break the story; same with his discovery of the corpse of our then Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

6. YOU MUST ALWAYS STATE YOUR SIDE: And then let the people judge/decide. Osoba, from the book, detests being ‘lied’ against. And here is a solid example. Despite having conclude work on this very book, Afenifere chieftain, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, released his own book, ‘Telling It As It Is’, where he said certain uncomplimentary things about Osoba. Know what he did? He recalled his own book and added an extra chapter, which he called ‘Replying It As It Is…’ Just to state his own side!

7. TRIBALISM HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN NIGERIA: Yes, tribalism didn’t just start in our country. It has always been with us and most likely will continue to be. According to Osoba, just because he’s from Ogun, himself and Mr. Peter Ajayi were labelled non-Kwarans at the Nigerian Herald. So much so that the people after them almost succeeded in instigating General George Innih, the man who took over from Ibrahim Taiwo, who recruited him, to send them packing.

8. LOYALTY MATTERS SO MUCH: Besides his own angles, Osoba also talked about the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo; how despite advice against fielding J.S Olawoyin as UPN guber candidate in 1979, he still went ahead, just because of the man’s loyalty. And guess what? Olawoyin later lost to Adamu Atta of NPN.

9. ALWAYS GIVE HONOUR TO WHOM IT IS DUE: I love people who admit their imperfections, inadequacies, foibles and mistakes. Osoba, magnanimously, acknowledged APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a man of both immense political sagacity and strategy. He gave a public ‘Tuale’ to the man whose followers and admirers fondly address as Jagaban, Lion of Bourdillon, Strongman of Southwest Politics, Alpha & Omega of Lagos Politics for the two new parties that eventually ended up as APC, the roping in of more political parties and ultimately the dislodging of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration and PDP.

10. LIES HAVE SHORT LEGS: But certainly not truth or the truth. Mercilessly accused of betraying Chief Frank Kokori, the erstwhile NUPENG President, who tormented the hell out of late General Sani Abacha’s life, and following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, won by Bashorun MKO Abiola, Osoba was however exonerated after 20 obviously agonizing and sad years of carrying that cross and stigma by Kokori, who exposed it in his memoirs that the fellow who sold him to his enemies was Mr. Fred Eno. The just, indeed, shall always be vindicated. Though it may take long, it must surely happen.

11. BE NICE TO THE PEASANTS: The saying that ‘oga’s life is in the hands of his houseboy and vice versa’ rings through in the book. While the security agents were looking for him here and there, the vulcanizers on his street, and who obviously he had been very nice to, were always tipping him and his wife off whenever they suspected any person or smelt any rat. Thus, he was able to repeatedly escape from Sergeant Rogers and his gang.

12. KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN: History never forgets. In fact, it always sticks out like a sore thumb. The shameful role played by Chief Francis Arthur Nzeribe, Abimbola Davies, their cohorts as well as their ignoble ABN (Association for Better Nigeria) was well documented and frozen for posterity in the book. So, let’s always remember tomorrow and be mindful of the things we do.

13. ALWAYS MAKE YOUR BOSS LOOK GOOD: Robert Greene, in one of his classics, 48 Laws Of Power, admonished us never to outshine the master. And this was exactly what Osoba did when himself and Abiola were trying to get the late General Musa Yar’Adua to convince his men to support Abiola. Abiola, according to Osoba, made a political mistake, but rather than blame him for that when confronted by an obviously angry Yar’Adua, Osoba chose to be the fall guy.

14. PRAY FOR A GOOD WIFE: He that findeth a good wife indeed has it all. And Abiola’s first wife, Simbiat, was a good example. According to Osoba, while trying to govern Ogun, which is also Abiola’s State of origin, it happened that Abiola was not only supporting SDP’s Abdullateef Dele, but had also given him N500,000 then. On getting wind of this, Osoba, a member of SDP and from whom Abiola not long ago sought a favour, visited him at home to complain. While they were at it and arguing back and forth, Simbiat, who obviously was eavesdropping and watching the drama unfolding in their sitting room, went to bring Abiola’s cheque book, insisting that he also be given a cheque of N500,000. And ‘na so equation come balance’.

15. BE A MAN OF PRINCIPLE: The late conscience of the nation, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, used to have one popular quote: ‘Stand for what is right even if you are standing alone’. Osoba, on a few occasions, did exactly that. And two examples will suffice here – one was when Obasanjo needed the support of Egba people, and face to face with Ebora Owu, Akinrogun told him he wasn’t going to do that; the second was when he personally issued a statement countering Egba’s support for Chief Ernest Shonekan, to ‘inherit’ Abiola’s mandate.

16. IT PAYS TO LEARN FROM THE MASTERS: We all need mentors; quality mentors. And just like the disciples of Jesus learnt at his feet, Osoba, politically, learnt at the feet of masters of the game like Obafemi Awolowo, Bola Ige, Michael Ajasin, Bisi Onabanjo…

17. A LITTLE MADNESS IS SOMETIMES GOOD: Yes! Nobody has a monopoly of madness, and Osoba confirmed it in Battlelines. Believing that Sketch, which Osoba was overseeing then was against him, Governor Omololu Olunloyo, had visited in Osoba’s absence and locked up the office. On his return, Osoba broke all the padlocks and ordered his men to return to work. To cut a long story short, a truce was eventually brokered. And that was it.

18. GOING TO PARTIES IS NOT BAD: In fact, we must all cultivate the habit of attending parties. But mostly quality parties. It is good for networking and other things too. It was while at a party at the Officers’ Mess in Marina, Lagos that one John Momodu informed Osoba about his sack from Daily Times, and instantly he swung into action and eventually had it reversed. Again, it was also at another party in Apapa that he met his wife, Derin, after their first encounter at the airport. Even the controversial story on the deportation of Shugaba, the GNPP Majority Leader in Borno State, accused of being from Niger Republic, equally came at a party.

19. LIFE IS AN UNENDING BATTLE: So also is jealousy. And Osoba had his fair share, both in journalism and politics. The sweetest thing,however, is that ultimately he triumphed over most of them. A vivid example in the book is Mr. Dayo Duyile’s alleged futile attempts to scuttle his joining Sketch.

20. CARRY YOUR PEOPLE ALONG: The popular saying, ‘chop alone, die alone’ must have ‘guided’ Osoba in most of his undertakings. Nearly all through the book, you would hear him talking about his two buddies, Peter Ajayi and Felix Adenaike. In fact, the trio were so inseparable that the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo nicknamed them ‘The Three Musketeers’. They were together in good times and in bad times. Which all of us must also learn from.

21. FORGIVE ALL, BUT DON’T FORGET ALL: Yeah, our Christian brothers and sisters may disagree with this. But that is Osoba for you. He forgives and forgets some, but definitely not all. Currently in the same political party with Chief Tony Momoh, who incidentally succeeded him as the MD of Daily Times, Osoba couldn’t resist capturing how Momoh attempted to have him sacked from Daily Times until he deployed his wide network to circumvent that. And according to him, both of them are still friends!

22. WE ALL LOVE WOMEN: Yes, all men do. Except those who pretend or choose to be discreet about theirs. Osoba admitted sowing his seeds of wild oats and tumbling under the duvets with daughters of Eve. He was a man about town and even dated a white lady, whom his mother never wanted him to marry. Everything, however, changed when the ebony beauty called Derin appeared on the scene, bought his heart ‘wholesale’ and locked it up permanently.

23. ALWAYS THINK ON YOUR FEET: To his then editor, he was after his job. But having occupied that position myself and also seen how panicky some editors become whenever they begin to see you as a threat, Osoba has my total support. A coup had just taken place, but rather than race to the office to do the story, an editor remains at home. A daring reporter steps in, does the story beautifully, ably guided by the great Babatunde Jose, his editor makes it to the office after almost 24 hours and then begins to accuse the reporter of eyeing his position! Anyway, Osoba eventually landed the position, but certainly not because he had his eyes set on that from the onset. Rather it was his good works that did it. So, you must always be strategic; don’t just do anything, but do the most strategic ones. They will always announce you and open special doors for you.

24. WE ENJOY DEFENDING OUR MISTAKES: Osoba, alleged to be temperamental, interestingly, blamed it on journalism. Hear him: “You cannot be in the newsroom and not be temperamental…” Hmmmm! Coming from an elder, I won’t say more than that.

25. AND YET WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES: Yes, nobody, including the master is insulated or exempted from mistakes. So, what exactly am I trying to say? Simple – it’s that some things could have been done better, especially editing-wise. On page 295, paragraph 1, …as Rogers told the curt (instead of court); still on that page, but in paragraph 2, …earlier in this book, I have (instead of had) narrated; on page 283, paragraph 6, …Ooni…was the first of (instead of to) discuss; on page 286, paragraph 4, …continued making ight (instead of light); on page 293, paragraph 2, …at Ogun Stae (instead of State) INEC; on page 306, paragraph 2, …Economic (and was missing) Financial Crimes Commission; page 315, paragraph 3, …earlier is (instead of in) the same speech; page 318, paragraph 2, …The (National) Independent National Electoral…; on page 40, last paragraph, you (instead of your); on page 17, paragraph 2,…Animashaun whose remains is (instead of are); page 31, paragraph 2…such as the Ajiborishas (,), Ajibodus and other (s is missing); page 108, paragraph 2,…succeeded also of because (instead of because of); page 153, paragraph 3…accussations (instead of accusations); page 160, paragraph 1,…while Ikenne wouold (instead of would); page 184, paragraph 1,…meant winning ar (instead of at)…

Hopefully, all that’s been noted above and others will be corrected in subsequent editions of this awesome book, which once again I implore everybody to get copies of. Thanks so much for reading and may all our battles always end in our favour…

– Azuh is a respected journalist, author and motivational speaker

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