Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has lashed at the Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali, over his comments on the recent killings in the state, saying he was allegedly complicit against Benue.
Ortom also stated that the statement credited to the Minister was tantamount to dancing on the blood and graves of the innocent pregnant women, children and the elderly killed in the new year attacks on the state by herdsmen that claimed over 73 lives.
The Minister had in the said comment attributed the killings in Benue state to the open grazing prohibition law and the blockade of grazing routes.
Governor Ortom who spoke yesterday when he played host to the leadership of the International Communion of all Charismatic and Evangelical Bishops and Apostles, ICCEBA, in Makurdi, lamented that the comment was a pointer to the fact that herdsmen and cattle were enjoying immunity in the country.
The Governor said, “we have not committed any offence. The open grazing prohibition law protects both herdsmen and farmers and ensures that they live in peace. That is the only way to stop the killings.
“All these running around and going back and forth will not save this country. Let us accept the facts, let us be truthful to ourselves and the people we serve. Let us leave selfishness outside governance. Let us ensure equity, fairness and Justice for all citizens.
“That is what we call for. Let us stop manipulating our ways thinking that others will not see. We are all human beings who are created by God just like any other person who is in leadership position today.
“So, it is amazing that the Federal government is playing to the gallery instead of coming out to confront this monster that is before us, waiting to consume the entire country. It is unfortunate.
“Today you talk about ranching in some states, grazing reserve in some other states and tomorrow you talk about colony. I don’t understand. Globally, what is being practiced is ranching. So why are we running away from this, why are we running away. And why are we diverting attention.
The other day, they said I own 6,000 militia. Let the federal government come and show me that militia. I was the first Governor in Nigeria, on assumption of office, that initiated the process of amnesty which I granted to several youths who turned in more than 700 rifles and several other weapons.
I disarmed them because they were using it against the people and I felt that these were young men we could give a new orientation. That is what we did.
“So it is laughable for anyone to say today that Ortom owns 6,000 militia. How about the herdsmen who are displaying these weapons and guns, sophisticated weapons openly, where are the security agencies, why are they not arresting them?
Everyday you wake up with statements to divert attention. I heard and I saw the Minister of Defence after their security meeting yesterday, while briefing the press, saying it was the law prohibiting open grazing that brought the killings in Benue state. I said to myself, it cannot be the Minister of Defense.
“This is somebody who worked and retired from the army after attaining the rank of a General. This a Minister, who is educated and has traveled far and near round the globe. How can he say that?
“Maybe he was misquoted or something because I cannot see the Minister of Defense saying that kind of thing. But if he actually said it, I would ask him, ‘Honourable Minister of Defense, if you said that kind of a thing, where were you as the Minister of this country, when herdsmen were carrying AK47 and weapons that are higher than AK47 and were going about killing my people and you want me to keep quiet.
“And I begin to wonder, the other day the federal government came out with a pronouncement that it was ISIS a terrorist group in West Africa that was attacking Benue people and on the other hand I was told that the Minister said that we should accommodate foreigners.
“What a country? Foreigners come in without valid papers and they come to take over your land and you surrender it to them? Minister I will not do that in Benue state, we will not surrender our land.
“You can go and do it in your own state and not in Benue state. These people who are supposed to be assisting Mr. President are there for their selfish interest, misinforming him, misdirecting him instead of guiding him to do the right thing.
“Killings are going on in the states and they are talking about law. Is there any grazing law in Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Enugu, Kwara, Zamfara states and several others? Is there any law prohibiting open grazing in these places?
“So if that Minister said that, I think that the people around President Buhari are the wrong set of people that should be there to help him run the country.
“It is really unfortunate, it pains me, for people to come and start dancing on the blood of those they are supposed to protect. Innocent people, pregnant women that were slaughtered and a Minister will come out and say this kind of thing, it is unfortunate, really unfortunate.
“If you say it is because of the law, is there any grazing law in those states where herdsmen and cattle have taken over even schools. It is provoking, it is like dancing on the graves of those people who were murdered and slaughtered in this state. It is unfortunate that you have these kind of people who are entrusted with the responsibility of providing security for our state.
“I had thought that immunity in this country is enjoyed by the President, his Vice, the Governors and their Deputies. But if the Minister actually said what I read in the papers, it means they have provided immunity for herdsmen who kill and maim and rape our women. They have also provided immunity for cattle in Nigerian which is very wrong.
Victor Osimhen Grabs Brace On 100th Appearance For Napoli
Victor Osimhen scored twice as Napoli were held to a 2-2 draw by Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Sunday afternoon.
Osimhen opened the scoring for the Partenopei in the 14th minute.
The Nigeria international added the second 10 minutes after the break.
Bologna rallied to equalise afterwards, earning a share of the spoils.
The game was Osimhen’s 100th appearance across all competitions for Napoli.
The 24-year-old has scored 25 goals in 31 league appearances for Luciano Spalletti’s side this season.
Napoli will host Sampdoria in their last league game of the season next week.
Sanwo-Olu Unveils Official Portrait For Second Term
Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has unveiled his new official portrait ahead of May 29th inauguration for his second term in office.
In a statement released on Sunday and signed by his media adviser, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, the new portrait, which is expected to be hung in all government and non-government offices across the State from Monday 29th of May, shows Governor Sanwo-Olu in a traditional white Agbada, with a carton brown handmade cap with blue stripes that has become his brand identity.
The new portrait is a departure from the previous one where the Governor wears a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie.
The portrait was photographed by ace photographer Ademola Olaniran, who brought his depth of professionalism and creativity into the finished work.
The portrait can also be found on all the official social media handles of Mr. Governor, Lagos State Government and websites.
Chronicling Tokunbo Wahab’s Home Run In Education By Adeshina Oyetayo
Each person is a thread in the tapestry of creation but some people stand outside of the weave directing the thread and painting the pictures that become reality. Tokunbo Wahab, the immediate past Special Adviser on Education to the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is one of the rare latter.
Undoubtedly one of the brightest but self-effacing stars in the first term of Sanwo-Olu’s administration, Wahab covets neither paeans nor rhapsodies for his commanding tour de force in the actualisation of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s vision for the rejuvenation of tertiary education as encapsulated under the ingenious T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. And he is forever quick to counsel folk about his ordinariness while preventing them from dressing him in what he considers spurious cloaks of a ‘messiah,’ or ‘deity’ or ‘tin god.’
Gangling and genial, generous and god-fearing, everybody seems to love the successful lawyer-turned-public servant for his humility, generosity of spirit, and fierce loyalty to the success of Governor Sanwo-Olu.
Beneficiaries of his exceptional humaneness in private and public offices frequently have wonderful stories to share from their encounters with him. However brief or extended the encounter is, Wahab snatches grief or gloom from acquaintances and replaces it with joy and joie de vivre because he sees a relative in everyone. He believes humanity is one large family divided along race, religion, and other bigoted lines and his response to this defies the depths of human failings and pretensions of altruism.
His first emergence on the political circuit in Lagos State was as a governorship aspirant in 2014 in the All Progressives Congress. He was 42 years old with lush, emergent grey beards that accentuated his smouldering, boyish visage.
Apart from fellow lawyers, social collaborators, and a sprinkling of media people, the Epe-born University of Benin graduate was barely known. Yet, he aspired to govern Lagos State! His mantra was – “Think Lagos for a tomorrow that works.” It was an audacious and astonishing move that generated a lot of discourse in the media space. Wahab did not get the ticket but he had already announced himself to those that matter in the political configuration of the state and the party at large.
Fast forward to 2019; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu appointed Wahab as his Special Adviser on Education, charging him to steer and supervise his vision for tertiary institutions in Lagos State. Wahab went full gung-ho into the assignment, cutting large swaths through the convolution that is the tertiary education ecosystem while earning his principal accolades from far and near.
Until 2022, Lagos had just one university – the Lagos State University. Yet, statistics from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board revealed that in 2020, out of 574,782 candidates that applied to sit the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination from the six states in the South-West, Lagos State alone accounted for almost half of the figure at 240,829. LASU couldn’t admit more than 5,000 at a go, yet the applications were very high. It was a ticking time bomb.
Conversely, Wahab said, “Ondo has three (higher institutions) and Ogun has two. Not until recently when Osun and Oyo states went their separate ways on the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, the two also had more than one state-owned university. The implication is that our students from Lagos continue to struggle to gain admission to universities because other states usually introduce classification based on indigeneship.”
With just a tenacity of purpose and a terrier devotion to the belief that Lagos State, with its growing youth population, deserved more than one university, Wahab worked round the clock, consulted extensively, and networked widely to ensure that the state’s bid to get two more universities accredited by the National Universities Commission was achieved.
On February 8, 2022, the NUC, the regulatory body in charge of universities in Nigeria, approved the take-off of the two new specialised universities in Lagos State. While the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education and the Michael Otedola College of Primary Education morphed into the Lagos State University of Education; the Lagos State Polytechnic was upgraded to the Lagos State University of Science and Technology.
For Wahab, the approval and eventual take-off of the universities remains a veritable home run, the culmination of many years of hard work, and a fulfilment of one of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s cardinal promises to Lagosians to give the youths more access to affordable and qualitative varsity education.
He did not just help to birth new higher institutions, Wahab is also helping products of the state’s tertiary institutions to adequately prepare for the world of work with the Jobs Initiative Lagos which aims to fill the documented gaps in the current curriculum that is essential in the employment market and enhances the employability of graduates in Lagos.
The programme is a spin-off of the Ready-Set-Work initiative, an employability and entrepreneurship program aimed at preparing final-year students for immediate entry into the workforce as employees and employers of labour by equipping them with the knowledge, soft skills, business tools, and a mindset reorientation to the world of work.
It runs alongside the digital skills campaign, ‘Digital Skills Initiative Lagos’, launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown to empower young people in the state with digital skills that will invariably position Lagos as the Tech Hub of Africa.
Even more symbolic is the turnaround in LASU, which was infamous for its fractious transition of power. This time, a new vice-chancellor, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, was appointed in a transparent and seamless, and applause-worthy process.
With the strong backing of Governor Sanwo-Olu, LASU did not join the months-long Academic Staff Union of Universities strike.
More than four decades after it was established, LASU is set to become a residential tertiary institution as the state government, under the Public-Private Partnership has signed a Build, Operate and Transfer agreement with six property developers to construct 8,272 units of hostels in the school’s premises.
Not forgetting that Wahab masterminded the collaboration between LASU and Cornell University, New York, for 16 professional certificate programmes to be run by the two institutions.
Wahab said then that the decision to collaborate with Cornell University rated as one of the leading universities globally, was borne out of the desire to keep and sustain LASU’s pedigree and high academic profile as the second-best university in Nigeria and one of the best 600 in the world.
He added that the establishment of LASU/Cornell University Postgraduate Professional Certificate Programmes was aimed at giving prospective students across the country an opportunity to gain global skills and professional expertise that will not only make them relevant and employable but globally competitive in the 21st Century digital economy.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, Wahab has redefined the tertiary education landscape of Lagos State and inadvertently written his name in gold with his robust catalogue of achievements in the all–important sector.
For Wahab, the dissolution of the Sanwo-Olu administration last Wednesday, May 24, was the end of an impactful era, but for a man who sees the hydraulic lifts on which his public career is being hoisted and the machinery that is steadily and surefootedly wheeling him to the centre stage, May 29, 2023, or the days after, will signal, ceteris paribus, the beginning of an even more impactful era. Take a bow, Toks!
Oyetayo, a Lagos-based media executive, can be reached on social media via @shynewriter
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