He was at the breakfast table with his friend and colleague, Kayode Soyinka. Sunmonu Dele Giwa did not expect any visitor. But in the middle of the late breakfast, a bicycle-riding postman came. His message was clear, to deliver a parcel to Dele Giwa.
The parcel, which bore the coat of arm of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was received by Dele Giwa’s eldest son, Billy, then 19 years old. Billy handed over the parcel to his father. The latter looked at the parcel over and over again, and said in an assuring voice: “This must be from the president”.
Dele Giwa was unsuspicious of any foul play, just like Kayode who was sharing the breakfast with him. With self-assuring gesture, Dele opened the parcel. And behold, what looked like a mere harmless parcel turned out to be a letter bomb meant to blow Dele Giwa out of existence. Suddenly, the relaxed ambience of 25, Talabi, Street, Ikeja, Lagos, where Dele and his family lived, turned somber. Armageddon had visited. The bomb explosive parcel badly lacerated Dele’s body, shattered and charred his breakfast set and other domestic appurtenances. This was on Sunday, October 19, 1986.
While Dele Giwa was wriggling in pain, he persistently moaned a refrain, “they have got me!” He sustained the refrain until he gave up the ghost at the hospital where he was rushed to. Who did he refer to as “they,” remains a riddle till today.
All indications show that Dele Giwa saw his death coming. Few days to his gruesome murder, he was harassed by Nigeria’s top-most security chiefs.
According to Giwa’s Attorney, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (now late), the State Security Service (SSS) officials summoned Giwa to their headquarters on October 17, 1986, just 48 hours before he was murdered. The Deputy Director of the SSS, Colonel A.K. Togun had accused Dele Giwa of planning a socialist revolution and of gun-running. Twenty-four hours later, the Director of the Military Intelligence, Colonel Halilu Akilu, had allegedly telephoned to confirm Giwa’s home address. Dele Giwa was about to challenge his accusers in court when the friends of hell snuffed life out of him.
Like a splash, 25 years have passed since the murder of the founding editor-in-chief of Newswatch through a cowardly anonymity of a parcel bomb, yet there are no clues as to his mysterious death.
Throughout the tenure of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, under whose watch the cruel murder occurred, the police and other security apparatuses expressed helplessness, repeating their now familiar refrains of “no fresh leads”, ‘we have no clues yet, but we are still on it.” The case file of the slain journalist remained open for several years, with the police, like the Godot, awaiting information from the public that could lead to the identification of Dele Giwa’s killers.
Ray Ekpu, with whom Dele Giwa founded Newswatch, along with Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed, in 1984, wonders why “such an unusual and sophisticated elimination method, (used for Giwa) which ought to excite the interest, curiosity and concern of the IBB government in a more than routine fashion” seems to be lost on the Nigerian police.
Not even monetary inducement offered by the Newswatch and Professor Wole Soyinka and his Pyrates Confraternity has helped to unravel the mystery of Giwa’s death. The helplessness of the Nigerian State Security Services on the matter has therefore been interpreted by many people to mean that Giwa’s death must have had the endorsement of highly placed security personnel under Babangida’s regime.
The succeeding regimes after Babangida’s merely turned a blind eye to the case, or better still, played to the gallery, thus giving the impression that the occasional dusting of the case file may have been finally closed.
Even when late Gani Fawehinmi took the case to the Oputa Panel, in 2000, the number one suspect in the murder case, former president Babangida, frustrated the proceedings by refusing to appear before the Oputa Panel. Since then, the question has remained, “who killed Dele Giwa?”
Dele Giwa’s killers thought they could stop a man’s cause by killing him. How wrong they are? His killers are little tyrants of the least wisdom, who only succeeded in immortalising their victim.
It is better that a man falls as a martyr in the prime of his youth when the spark is still burning than to live hundreds of years and die as a villain or coward. Better still when a man dies in pain and agony within the fragments of blood and bones than to kiss the dust quietly, uncelebrated.
Realising that time, age and the Nigerian state might conspire to deny him his presidential dream, the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, captured the essence of life thus: “it is not the life that matters, but the courage you bring into it”.
And indeed, while cowards and villains end up in the footnotes of history, the lives of martyrs are sustained in death. Through martyrdom, many men were made great and their achievements made greater. Jesus the Nazareth, perharps, wouldn’t have been so acclaimed and venerated if he had not been betrayed by Judas Iscariot, or if he had lived 70 years on earth.
Joan of Arc was the youngest martyr in modern history. She was the maid of France who at 19 was burnt at the stake by the English. So inspiring was Joan at death that France mounted an aggressive attack and drove the English out of their country to proclaim independence. This was the same course Joan could not achieve when she was alive marching alongside regular troops to instill courage in her compatriots!
The Libyan sage, Umar Muktar, was another man made greater by death. He was a torn in the flesh of the Italian fascists before he was captured and hanged in the full glare of his people. While in prison, Muktar reiterated his unwavering belief in the immortality of his course at death. So brutally touching was Muktar’s death that from the depth of Libyan sorrow arise a monumental resolve built by men, women and children to fight on. And they did not relent until Libya was emptied of Italian overlords.
There are many other lives that have been sustained in death. Socrates, Julius Caesar, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and the 23-year-old celebrated poet, John Keat. The same could be said of our Own M.K.O Abiola who was killed for winning a Pan African election, and Ken Saro-Wiwa who was hanged for championing the cause of justice for his Ogoni kinsmen.
This is also the story of Dele Giwa, the media pearl who fell to the cowardly anonymity, of a cruel parcel bomb, 25 years ago. Like Muktar, Ghandi, Ken, Abiola and a host of others who made the endless list of men and women immortalized by death, Dele Giwa’s life is sustained in death.
Born on March 16, 1947 into a humble home, Dele Giwa lived a life of existentialism, even though his life was shrouded in contradiction. Dele was admitted into Oduduwa College in Ile Ife, but was suspended from the college as a result of the romance he had which gave him his first child, Billy, at the age of 19.
In 1971, he left the country for the United States where he took up many menial jobs before bagging a Bachelor of Arts in English from Brooklyn College and a Master Degree in Public Communication from Fordham University, both in New York.
His vibrancy fetched him a reportorial job at the famous NewYork Times, but in 1979, he came back to Nigeria on the invitation of the then Daily Times Chief Executive, Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, to become the Daily Times Features Editor. He left Daily Times for the Concord Press where he was the pioneer editor of the Sunday Concord.
“To live in Nigeria I heard is hard, but as a young Nigerian, I heard a ringing call to come home, a call to give the best of me to my profession and my people. So home I’m coming”, wrote Dele Giwa in his piece titled “Golden fleece? I think I got it”.
Ever a wordsmith, Dele was an enchanting prose stylist and a fearless investigative journalist. He was not the type of journalist so enamoured of the meretricious affectation of diplomatese, to call a spade another name. For Dele, a spade is a spade.
And of course, he was not your usual run-of-the-mill journalist you know in most newsrooms today, nor an editor of a cheap ego. Dele was, by every standard, a first class journalist, who by sheer force of tenacity and carriage, got himself close to the corridors of power. This, unfortunately, was his undoing.
With a good dosage of ego, carriage and personality that makes you want to embrace him, the slain media icon brought glamour and vibrancy to the Nigerian media and transmogrified journalism from all comers affair into a profession that is good only for the chosen few, even though a dozen of quacks who tumble into the noble calling for want of better things to live by, are still around.
A gem of journalism and a paragon of excellent prose, Dele Giwa’s “Page Seven” column in the then Daily Times, and his famous “Parallax Snaps” in his beloved Newswatch were indeed a must-read for those who appreciated good prose and understood the nuances of English language. His treatise provoked, more often than not, a stinker of replies from his readers.
Most of Dele Giwa’s articles remain till today, not only refreshing but indeed socially relevant that you would think they were written yesterday. In his scathing piece, “Peculiar Nigerians called Journalists”, the celebrated journalist bemoaned the status of the media he met in Nigeria thus:
“Most of those in Nigeria who go by the occupational reference of journalists tumble into the calling for want of better things to live by … going about as though they have something against looking well …, turning press conferences into money sharing ventures”.
That is vintage Dele. To think such a man is dead is to be clever by half. A writer doesn’t die. That’s why most of us will continue to regard Dele Giwa’s killers as tyrants of little wisdom, ignoramuses of the simple way of life that you cannot stop a man’s cause by killing him when there are numerous offsprings and admirers to pick up the flag where he left off.
What epitaph can be greater to Dele than what his killers did by transforming a man who only aspired to be a simple journalist, into a martyr of all ages?
An Open Letter To FCT Minister, Chief Nyesom Wike
Dear Hon Minister,
First, a disclosure. You may not know me but we have met on two occasions in the house of our mutual respected Oga, first as a minister of state and second as a Governor, but l doubt if you can recognise me now. I am one of your admirers and critics.
As a two-term Governor of Rivers State, you did well in terms of infrastructure, for which l often commend you. I, however, sometimes disagree with you, particularly what l consider your streaks of high-handedness against those who disagreed with you politically.
I am writing this letter, with the hope that Don would send it to you, after watching your media interview with particular reference to your protégé and successor, Governor Siminalayi Fubara, a guy l have never met. No doubt, he would not have emerged as governor without your imprimatur. I do not have the details of your disagreement, and I am not even interested. What I am interested in is you to rise above the alleged offence.
Take a deep breath and have an introspective view of your political trajectory since 1999.
1999-2007: Obio/Akpor LGA Chairman
2007-2011: Chief of Staff, Rivers State
2011-2015: Education Minister (State)
2015-2023: Governor, Rivers State
2023-till date: Minister of FCT
And you are just 55!
I stand to be corrected, nobody from Rivers State has been so politically favoured and blessed by God as you are, not that you are the most politically-savvy politician from the State but it is just the Grace of God. I plead with you, do not take such grace for granted.
As governor of Lagos State in 2010, Governor Babatunde Fashola told me something that has stuck with me till today, regarding power and leadership. There was a three-month old strike by doctors in Lagos over pay increase. I stepped in to mediate between the doctors and the state, which by the grace of God, l was able to pull through after extensive negotiations with the doctors, and the strike was called off to the relief of millions of Lagosians. In the course of the mediation, Fashola told me that some people asked him to fire all the doctors but he made this profound statement: “Restraint is a powerful tool in leadership; the fact that you have the power to do something but chose to look the other way.” That statement has stuck with me till date. Why do you think American presidents, despite the temptation to press the nuclear button, when their interests are threatened, rather exercise restraint by refusing to go that route? It is leadership restraint.
Permit me to recall a story which you yourself regaled your audience with at the 70th birthday reception you held in honour of Dr Peter Odili. You said that when you wanted to contest for the Chairmanship of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council in 1998, you approached Dr Odili, whom you were meeting for the first time and sought his support. He obliged by giving you his support, and according to you, he gave you the first financial support towards your ambition, even when he himself was campaigning to run for the governorship of Rivers State. You became the chairman, and when you wanted to go for a second tenure, some political actors removed your name, and according to you, you ran to Dr Odili who was then the governor and he saved your political career by reinstating your name.
Fast forward to when you completed your tenure as the chairman of the local government, when your erstwhile friend, Rotimi Amaechi, who just became the governor, appointed you his Chief of Staff and that administration commenced a process to humiliate Dr Odili by setting up the Rivers State Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where your benefactor, Odili was the target and was put in the witness box.
Later when cracks began to emerge in your relationship with your boss, Amaechi, you ran back to your benefactor, Dr Odili to apologise for how your administration humiliated him. As a large-hearted person, he forgave you, and that began a wonderful relationship till date. Why am l making references to these incidents? If Dr Odili could forgive you and took you back, why can you not also forgive your political offenders, including Fubara, particularly since God has been so good to you?
Anyone who has traversed Ada George Road, Port Harcourt and seen the humongous, palatial estate you reside in, that takes a substantial part of that road, would know that you are not lacking materially. Coupled with that, you are a Minister in the current government and your wonderful wife is a judge. What else does any human being want?
My brother, please calm down, and let go of your ego and learn from history. Who would have thought that a whole General Shehu Yar’Adua (rtd) could die like a chicken inside prison; who would have imagined that a whole Bashorun MKO Abiola, the then richest man in Africa could spend five years in detention and die in custody, despite his international connections; who would have imagined that Major Hamza Al-Mustapher, the de facto Head of State during the junta of General Sanni Abacha, a man even Generals genuflected for, would spend 14 years in prison? Please, pause and think. This life is ephemeral. As the book of Ecclesiastes 1 states: life is vanity.
In Oyo State, there used to be the strong man of Ibadan politics, Lamidi Adedibu but his house in Molete, Ibadan is now desolate after his death. Adedibu was law as far as Ibadan politics was concerned. He was feared by all political actors across the nation. Before him, there was Busari Adelakun, otherwise known as “Eruobodo” in Ibadan politics. They have all been consigned to the dustbin of history. Learn from these because whether you like it or not, you would also pass away one day like all mortals.
God has been so good to you. Though I do not have the details of your feud with Fubara, you claim he is an ingrate, but this same “ingrate” took bullets for you as your Accountant-General when the EFCC was investigating your government. If you did not have confidence in him, you would not have put him forward to succeed you. Please, rise above political offences and be a leader. May it not be counted against you that since 1999, your successor would be the first governor of Rivers State to be impeached. No garland for such feat. It would be a pyrrhic victory and your new political masters in Abuja would even be wary of you. You are new to Bola Tinubu’s school of politics. Do not get carried away.
May God guide you right.
By: Richard Akinnola
Abbas Recommends Privatisation Of Nigeria’s Refineries
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas, has recommended the privatisation of oil refineries in the country to enable them function optimally.
Abbas gave the recommendation yesterday, while receiving the management of NNPCL led by the Group Managing Director, (GMD), Mr Mele Kyari in Abuja.
He described the state of refineries over the years as shameful, adding so much money was being spent on workers as salaries and allowances for doing very little.
“There is need to make these refineries have multi -dimensional uses, if there is no crude oil, are there other activities that can make the workers to be active so that why they earn is deserved? I need you and your management to look at how we can turn around these decades of losses.
“One way to do so is to find a way to privatise these refineries; we have spent so much money and time deceiving ourselves that some businesses can be run by government.
“In the case of the refineries, we have now realised that some sectors of NNPC business can only be handled by the private sector and our refineries are one of those.
“The inadequacies will become manifest as soon as Dangote refinery comes on board because the competition will be there and inefficiencies of the refineries will become more naked.
“I want you to put it as part of your cardinal objectives; let us find ways to privatise our refineries so that they can be active ,so that in the near future, they will be able to compete with new refineries that will come up,” he said.
Abbas said that the NNPCL is central to the economic development of Nigeria, pledging the commitment of the House of Representatives to supporting the company to succeed.
According to him ,the House is concerned about the high rate of oil theft as it is draining revenue, affecting forex availability and causing inflation in the country.
The speaker said that the House had inaugurated a special committee on oil theft,to interface with stakeholders with a view to addressing oil theft in the country.
Earlier, Kyari said that all refineries would become fully operational and Nigeria would become a net exporter of petroleum products by the end of 2024.
He noted that subsidy was responsible for poor activities at government-owned refineries over the years ,saying that the removal of subsidy was already attracting a lot of private sector investments.
“I can confirm to you that by the end of December latest, we will start the Port Harcourt Refinery; early in the first quarter of 2024, we will start the Warri Refinery and by the end of 2024, Kaduna Refinery will come into operation.
“This is the commitment we are giving today and you can hold us accountable on this.
”In 2024, many initiatives, including the rehabilitation of our refineries, and also the efforts of small- scale refiners, and the coming of the Dangote Refinery, will make Nigeria a net exporter of petroleum products.
“We will no longer be talking about fuel importation by the end 2024, I am very optimistic that this will crystalise,” he said.
Kyari said that it was not the practice of the company to publish its financial statements some years back , but that the practice had changed, and all the company’s accounts from 2018 till date were now in the public space.
Kyari put the expected government revenue from the company by the end of 2023 at N4.5 trillion, saying that NNPCL was returning value to shareholders in line with the objectives of the Petroleum Industry Act.
Kyari said that the company had a robust supply plan assuring that there would be no shortage of fuel over the Christmas season and beyond ,and that no one could hold the country to ransom.
FAAC: FG, States, LGs Share N906.96bn
The Federation Account Allocation Committee says it shared N906.96billionn among the three tiers of government for October 2023.
FAAC disclosed this in a communiqué issued at the end of its latest meeting on Wednesday.
According to a statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Finance, Stephen Kilebi, on Wednesday, the total figure shared for October was a slight increase of N3.48billionn compared to the N903.48billionn shared in September 2023, recovering from a decrease recorded in the previous month.
The total amount included gross statutory revenue, Value Added Tax, Augmentations from Forex and Non-oil Mineral Revenue, and electronic money transfer levy, among others.
The communique disclosed that although a gross total of N1.35trillion was generated, only N906.955billion was shared to the three tiers of government as Federation Allocation for October 2023.
The total revenue distributed for October 2023, was drawn from Statutory Revenue of N305.070 billion, VAT of N323.446billion, EMTL of N15.552billionn, Exchange Difference of N202.887billionn and Augmentation of N60.000billionn, bringing the total distributable amount for the month to N906.955billion.
From the total revenue from Gross Statutory Revenue, Value Added Tax, Electronic Money Transfer Levy, Exchange Difference, and Augmentation of N60bn, the Federal Government received N323.355bn, the States received N307.717bn, the Local Government Councils got N225.209bn, while the Oil Producing States received N50.674bnas Derivation, (13% of Mineral Revenue).
The Communique stated that “the Federation Account Allocation Committee at the end of the meeting indicated that the Gross Revenue available from the Value Added Tax for October 2023, was N347.343bn, which was an increase from the N303.550bn distributed in the preceding month, increasing to N43.793bn.
“From that amount, the sum of N10.894 billion was allocated for Cost of Collection and the sum of N10.003 billion was given for Transfers, Intervention, and Refunds. The remaining sum of N323.446 billion was distributed to the three tiers of government of which the Federal Government got N48.517 billion, the States received N161.723 billion, and Local Government Councils got N113.206 billion.
“Accordingly, the Gross Statutory Revenue of N660.090 billion received in the month was lower than the sum of N1,014.953tn received in the previous month of September 2023 by N354.863bn. From that amount, the sum of N38.942bn was allocated for the Cost of Collection and a total sum of N316.078bn for Transfers, Intervention, and Refunds. The remaining balance of N305.070bn was distributed as follows to the three tiers of government: Federal Government was allocated the sum of N147.574bn, States got N74.852bn, LGCs got N57.707bn, and Oil Derivation (13% Mineral Revenue) got N24.937bn.
“Also, the sum of N16.199bn from the Electronic Money Transfer Levy was distributed to the three tiers of government as follows: the Federal Government received N2.333bn, States got N7.776bn, Local Government Councils received N5.443bn and N0.647bn allocated for Cost of Collection.
“The Communique disclosed N262.887bn from Exchange Difference, which was shared as follows: Federal Government received N93.323bn, the States got N47.334bn, the sum of N36.493 billion allocated to Local Government Councils, and N25.737bn given to Derivation (13% of Mineral Revenue) while the sum of N60.000bn was for Transfers, Intervention and Refunds.
“It disclosed that N60.000bn Augmentation was shared as follows: the Federal Government got N31.608bn, the States received N16.032bn, while LGCs got the sum of N12.360bn.”
Also, the balance in the Excess Crude Account stayed at $473,754.57 as of November 22, 2023.
FAAC revealed that N50.674bn was given for the cost of collection, and N386.081bn was allocated for Transfers Intervention and Refunds.
Petroleum Profit Tax, Import Duty, VAT, Customs External tariff, and EMTL increased significantly.
However, Excise Duties, Oil and Gas Royalties, and Companies Income Tax recorded a decrease.
News4 days ago
Court Upholds Fubara’s Victory, Dismisses Cole, Others’ Suits
Opinion4 days ago
Driving Food Sufficiency In Unfriendly Economy
Metro2 days ago
Omoku Agog As Monarch Honours 29 Nigerians
Rivers4 days ago
VC Wants Association To Assist Govt Check Infectious Diseases Spread
News2 days ago
Johnson Promises RIVPA Inclusive Govt
Nation2 days ago
Senator Natasha Lauds NDDC, NLNG’s Collaboration On Local Content
News4 days ago
I’ll Defeat Obaseki’s Candidate, Shuaibu Boasts
SMEs4 days ago
Bank Partners Firm To Power SMEs, Rural Communities