By BASHORUN J.K. RANDLE In four days’ time it will be 15th January 2015 – fifty years after Nigeria’s first military coup d’etat to be followed a few weeks later by 13th February 2015 – forty years after General Murtala Mohammed was assassinated by Lt-Colonel D.S. Dimka and his accomplices. It is no surprise that the major global media outlets from CNN to Fox News; BBC; CBS; Al Jazeera; SKY News as well as “The Times”; “Financial Times”; “Sunday Times”; “Observer”; “The Independent”; “New York Times”, “Washington Post” and the major radio stations are all on their way here to beam their searchlight on these two epochal tragedies in the life of our beloved nation. Beyond that, eminent academics from Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Chicago, the Sorborne, Nottingham, London universities etc have embarked on a project: “500 YEARS OF NIGERIA’S HISTORY” which has turned out to be a block buster – film, documentary, special edition, “Breaking News”, etc. It looks as if it is going to be a major hit on HBO and The Discovery Channel. Undoubtedly, it captures the grand sweep of our nation’s history in its entire majesty as well as melancholy and despair. The melange of corruption, fear, anger and suspicion serve as a powerful reminder that our problems did not start today. On the contrary, they go back a long way and remain deep-seated roaring to emerge once the superficial layer is scratched or the hornet’s nest stirred. The product of intellectual curiosity by so many distinguished professors is a testimony to muscular scholarship and meticulousness. The exit poll has already delivered its verdict in favor of an enterprise that has turned out to be both seminal and cerebral. It is in segments of one hundred years each. For now, let us confine ourselves to the last segment as regards which there are two distinct partitions of fifty years each without undermining the symmetry. Nothing is lost by revealing that the legendary late Sir Samuel Layinka Ayodeji Manuwa (1903-1976) an Ilaje from Ondo Province Nigeria is captured in a clip as the best graduating student in medicine at Edinburgh University where he won all the prizes in his final year (1934). Even more poignant was the comment by Sir Malcolm Cairns who had been conferred with numerous awards and honors including the Nobel Prize for medicine. He was featured on BBC on his 85th birthday many years ago but he stunned the audience with his genuine and radiant humility: “I am humbled by my Knighthood and the other awards. However, I must let you know that there was a Nigerian chap in my class who was much more brilliant than me. He was knighted ten years before me but nobody protested because he earned it entirely on merit. I cannot now remember his full name but we called him Samuel.” It was at that point that a listener phoned in “Do You mean Samuel Manuwa?” The old man promptly delivered confirmation: “Yes. That is him indeed. Great chap. He was not just a surgeon, he subsequently became a physician and medical scholar in record time. I understand he was the pioneer president of the West African College of Surgeons as well as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Ibadan when it was truly a first class university. There was also a footage on Sir Henry Carr, a devout Christian and a Lagosian who almost single-handedly championed the drive to ensure that education was not confined to Christians in Lagos. He played a prominent role in founding Moslem schools and colleges such as Ahmaddiya College and Ansarudeen College in Lagos. Equally riveting are the superlative academic prowess of the likes of Adelabu Adegoke (“Penkelemesi”) and Victor Omololu Olunloye of Government College, Ibadan. Adegoke till today remains by all accounts the most brilliant student ever produced by the college. He was given double promotion twice and still ended at the top of the class in his final year. As for Olunloyo, he was not only the youngest boy in the class, (in Form One) but the most playful. Suddenly, in Form Three, he took off like a meteor/rocket and never looked back. He went on to bag a first class degree followed with a Ph.D in Mathematics combined with Engineering from St. Andrews University, Scotland. His thesis for his post-graduate degree was on : “The Numerical Determination of The Solutions of Eigenvalue Problems.” He eventually became the governor of Oyo State, in Western Nigeria in 1983. Thankfully, the octogenarian is alive to tell his own story. Also, featured is Professor Jubril Aminu from Song, Adamawa State in North-East Nigeria. He was already nine years old before he set foot in a classroom for the first time but that did not stop him from winning academic laurels at the University of Ibadan where he studied medicine. He eventually became the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission; Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri and Minister of Petroleum Resources (under General Ibrahim Babangida). Perhaps the most fascinating segment is the list of “firsts” by the Igbo – in various spheres of human endeavor, particularly academics (mostly science). It is indeed a very long list and it is most intimidating especially as most of the distinctions were earned at the international level – entirely on merit. I owe Admiral Femi Olumide, former Commissioner [Minister] of Works under General Olusegun Obasanjo a huge debt of gratitude for his graciousness and magnanimity. In his cameo appearance on CNN, he delivered the goods without any prompting from me. It was a pleasant surprise. “It is most astonishing that virtually all the problems which J.K. Randle documented in his masterpiece: “THE GODFATHER NEVER SLEEPS” are still very much with us forty years after the book was published. “This is one book all our leaders must read.” The tempo quickly shifted and the camera zoomed off to focus eventually on “Historical Flashback” (February 11 to March 3 2015) with screeming headlines: “AT 44 IN 1984 JIM NWOBODO JAILED 242 YEARS; AMBROSE ALLI GOT 136 YEARS; OLABISI ONABANJO BAGGED 66 YEARS; BARKIN ZUWO BAGGED 113 YEARS; SOLOMON LAR JAILED 88 YEARS; “Former civilian governor of Ogun State Chief Bisi Onabanjo was sentenced to 66 years imprisonment yesterday by the Special Military Tribunal On Recovery of Public Property (Lagos Zone). The Tribunal also ordered that N2.8 million traced to the account of United Party of Nigeria [UPN] No. 3 at Union Bank of Nigeria, Yaba, Lagos be forfeited to the Federal Military Government. The Ex-Governor was found guilty by the tribunal on a three-count charge of “improperly enriching a person, namely the Unity Party of Nigeria [UPN] with N2.8 million kick-back, representing 10 per cent of the contract awarded to Bouygues Nigeria Limited for the construction of the Great Nigeria House by Great Nigeria Insurance Company Limited.” Nwobodo was the former Governor of East Central State, while Ambrose Alli, Barkin Zuwo and Solomon Lar were the former Governors of Bendel, Kano and Plateau States respectively. On October 10, 2015, “Saturday Sun”, newspaper carried in bold headlines on its front page: “DIEZANI [FORMER MINISTER OF PETROLEUM RESOURCES]: THE UNAUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY”
- Intimate portrait of the Bayelsa born princes who bestrode Aso Rock with pomp………now in UK police net.