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Today is June 25th. I have been celebrating since Sunday, June 21st. My friends, grandchildren, children, and other fathers and mothers, the world-over, held me up to an unforgettable Father’s Day celebration.

But that is not all. My friends, we all deserve to celebrate. To be alive during these perilous times when death is lurking and stalking to ambush and obliterate us all in the world is celebratory. We have become the narrators of the times of Corona Virus just like those present in their nineties and hundreds. They tell us of the pandemics of their time; the Spanish flu of 1918, that infected 500 million people and killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people worldwide.

But that is not all. We live in a special time in history. Not just special but extraordinary times. Globalization and technology have made small happenings in remote parts of the world to assume the gargantuan center stage globally. Everyone everywhere is now more vulnerable to the actions of anyone anywhere. Never has the whole world lived in recurring moments of global mutuality as we do now. While the COVID 19 has killed people irrespective of race, nationality, and economic status; it has also opened our eyes to see that oppression anywhere on earth is oppression everywhere and diminishes our common humanity.

Oppression is being resisted in uncommon ways. In the United States where I am Sheltering in Place with Nancy my wife, the people have risen to say “NO” to systemic racism; after the public lynching of a black adult George Floyd, by a white supremacist police officer. Never before have both whites and the black together risen up in such numbers and force to denounce and condemn the systemic racism against the black American citizens. This racism has kept the black of the United States perpetually backward and consigned them to a backwater precarious existence while white society wallows in growing wealth. It is more amazing that the millions of white, black, and brown demonstrators went out on the streets to protest that black lives mattered while putting their own lives at risk from the Corona Virus and white supremacist backlash.

These are memorable times. They will be remembered even in the 22nd Century when most of us alive today would be lying peacefully in our graves. Our grandchildren and their grandchildren will probably find through research that we lived in these memorable times. My own celebration is a co-mingling of surprise and gratitude. Surprise of how the single year 2020; can change the course of human history and gratitude of how God preserved me to be a writer in the last quarter of the 19th Century and now I also function as writer, and documentarist of the 21st Century.


I have more reasons to celebrate this birthday. I have survived three pandemics in my life and I am looking at the strong reality to survive this ubiquitous menace called COVID 19? In 1958, While I was in primary school a long time ago; when Nigeria was under colonial rule my school village Zaki-Biam woke up to horrendous deaths due to the smallpox pandemic. My Uncle’s wife Kuzuwa Kpurkpur was one of the first attack victims of the virus which spread in the air like COVID19. I lived with my uncle and his wife taught me entrepreneurship as a young schoolboy. I sold savory beans cakes she fried.

My aunty did not die. And we were not infected. The colonial office in Kaduna immediately sent the vaccine for all of the community. My aunt survived because of the tremendous love her husband had for her. She was promptly isolated in a remote hut far away from everybody including us the children. But her husband defied death. He was there with her both day and night cooking and caring for her blistering rashes, high fever, and oozing skin sores. To the glory of God, Aunty Kuzuwa is alive at the age of 93, as fit as a fiddle. Her name Kuzuaai means death has met its match. I survived smallpox that had killed over 300 million people worldwide. It was only eradicated in 1980. So allow me to celebrate in the time of COVID 19.

I suffered a second attack. My second pandemic attack arrived two years after I developed high fever just like other people who were dying in their droves without reason. There was no testing and no registration of deaths. Many older people who died were attributed to witchcraft until the staff and students of ABU and other universities in Nigeria started to demonstrate against France. As it turned out, almighty France had detonated its first nuclear bomb in February 1960 in Algeria during that country’s struggle for Independence. Nigeria was still a British Colony and I was neither a Nigerian citizen nor a British citizen. I was a “British Protected Person” in status. I was in primary four. And the mission dispensary helped me survive the French bomb flu which had carried radioactive emissions through the harmattan winds to cause fatalities in British Colonial Nigeria seven months to independence.

In 1998 while serving as Nigeria’s Minister of State of Health, Nigeria was attacked by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and too many lives were lost. The international community refused to help Nigeria and even when I invited the American ambassador to my office to express the displeasure of government and pleaded for their assistance. He declined. Nigeria was an international pariah then. To make my case dire; My home State Benue had one of the highest infections and deaths. I had to resort to desperate measures in innovation for curtailment.

I brought medical doctors and theatre professionals to create public awareness. I had to personally join the Kwagh-hir performers in Benue to an effective mass education when the people were losing hope and fatalistically making witchcraft claims and blaming women for the spread. Generous offers from Julius Berger of condoms were accepted and distributed and we co-operated with the states to engage more actively to help contain the spread throughout the country through mass awareness and education about HIV/AIDS.

As a minister, I was horrified to see people dying in droves due to depression of stigma, discrimination, and stereotyping. We needed to offer a more humane and scientific way of presenting HIV/AIDS victims to be accepted by their communities to become care-givers. My personal smallpox experience of homestead care became a national norm. The highly knowledgeable medical staff at the ministry followed me to Ogobia in Benue State where a homestead policy was effective in enhancing care for the victims. Today it is difficult for us to imagine how HIV/AIDS ravaged the country. Nigeria survived because the government was upfront, innovative, open, and inclusive.

Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher


I also celebrate my future today. I am facing the rest of my life with calm resolve. I will celebrate life. I will allow God to take charge of my life as I had always done. I will celebrate my wife of forty-five years every day, as part of my life. Together with Nancy, we have faced life and the world hand-in-hand. She gave me strength, courage, patience, and humor. We faced our vulnerabilities every day with faith, hope, and love. The presence of God’s potency in the unpredictable trajectories of our life has been palpable. But we are not a singularity family. We are a large family of teaming scores of sons and daughters and grandchildren in Nigeria and across the world even though we live in an empty nest.

My life is becoming busier. I have this month joined the family of US novelists fighting racism and imperialism through my forthcoming novel “ The conquest of Azenga.” Racism and Tribalism are dangerous myths. They are nonsensical beliefs and doctrines claiming that inherent differences in racial and ethnic groups determine superiority and the right to dominate and oppress other races or tribes considered as inferior. My task is to seek along with other writers to dismantle systemic racism in the US and systemic tribalism in Africa of which Nigeria is the worst offender. I have only my written word as a weapon. My prayer is that God will lead the fight for justice and I will merely be a translator of his will through my inescapable and inevitable complex reality.

We are all living in portentous times. Advances in technology, science, and medicine have accelerated the rate of change. Unfortunately, this acceleration is not matched by the human ability to adapt. In Africa, the inability of our people to adapt is costing the life of the citizens chafing under the weight of nonsensical and outdated demagoguery. The rest of the world is not just changing rapidly it is being dramatically reshaped, and starting to operate differently. Africa’s leadership, institutions, societies, and ethical choices need to cope, adapt, and be reshaped. This is a task to which all of you my friends are called to undertake.

I finally call out the intellectuals among you. And you are all intellectuals because you are on this platform with me. The 20th century is the Century of the intellectual. The whole world is suffering due to ignorance that is calling the shots everywhere. Let us build networks of new enlightenment for global social justice that can tear down the walls and monuments of racism, bigotry, and tribalism. We must all join hands together and march onwards. To do less is to allow evil to seize the momentum. As the philosopher Albert Camus famously warned:

“ The Evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance. And good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”

So I drink a toast to all of you my friends for making this date so memorable.

Iyorwuese H. Hagher


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The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai has just stirred the hornest ‘s nest when he declared that the Northwest Governors and neighboring Niger Republic may be forced to consider inviting mercenaries to help fight insecurity in their areas.

The engagement of external mercenaries is akin to deployment of the military to repel and contain external aggression.

It has to do with the command and operational use of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, whether in peace times, war,or under a state of emergency. All of these are solely and wholly vested in the president, with some moderational effect by the NASS.See sections 217,218, 219 and 305 of the 1999 Constitution. These are federal matters. Only the president of Nigeria who doubles as the Commander -in-Chief has the constitutional powers to carry thses out. Even the Police is,by virtue of sections 214 and 215 of the 1999 Constitution, squarely under the purview of the Federal government.

No state government under our constitutional democracy and legal regime can unilaterally act to invite mercenaries to Nigeria. It is ultra vires their powers. Their only resort is a collaborative rapprochement with the Federal government. However, they can tackle their state security matters within the permissible limits of our constitutional organogram.

By the way, I thought these are the same Governors that opposed their Southern counterparts when they decided to make anti-grazing laws last year, to protect their territories? They had kicked against such a pre-emptive security measure that was perfectly within the constitutional competence of such states.They always forget that there is always a tomorrow.

I wrote tons of articles and made several television advocacy appearances, denouncing this clueless and unpatriotic stance of these Governors. I had encouraged the Southern states Governors last year to go ahead and promulgate such state laws that are not in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution. Such Governors are constitutionally permitted to set up local vigilante groups to defend their individual enclaves. But, no state is ever permitted to extend direct invitations to mercenaries to invade Nigeria under the thin disguise of enforcing security.

Were some of these same Northern states Governors who had invited and brought in these rampaging bandits and mercenaries from neighboring countries to help vote for them into their various offices during the 2019 elections? Why are they now moaning,mourning and weeping ?

I commend to them the immortal poetic words of a confessional prose of Martin Niemoller ( 1892-1892), a German theologian and Lutheran Pastor who had opposed the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler and spent the last 7 years of Nazi rule in concentration camps during the holocaust. He said famously:

“first they came for the Communists ,I did not speak out, because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews,and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me”. Whenever you throw a stone into the market, you may never know who will be the target. When you point one finger at others, the remaining four are pointing at you.

When you bring an ants-infested piece of firewood into the house, you should never complain about an invasion of lizards. Let us all be careful. Today is the tomorrow we discussed yesterday. Happy Sunday, Lent and Ramadan seasons to all Nigerians.

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Painful How Dr. Mailafia Was Allowed to Die By Doctors 



By Dr. Isuwa Dogo

The death of the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada, Abuja,  this morning came to us as a great shock. As someone who relentlessly participated in the activities of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), his untimely death has dealt  a deadly blow on ethnic nationalities of not only the Middle Belt but the country at large.

Arising from various enquiries from Nigerians over the circumstances of his death, the Forum wishes to state as follows: That Dr Mailafia arrived Abuja last Sunday September 12, 2021 from Akure and was received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by his wife.

On arrival at home, the wife noticed he was not in the best of health conditions and seemed to be suffering from malaria. After three days of treatment without signs of improvement, he went to the CBN Hospital on Friday September 17, 2021 where he was shabily treated. It took the intervention of a senior medic who immediately placed him on oxygen and admitted him.

Dr Mailafia’s was later given the option of choosing three hospitals: Gwagwalada Hospital, National Hospital and EHA Clinics. The wife opted for the third choice. On arrival at the EHA Clinics, the wife was subjected to yet another moment of anxiety as it took a direct order from the top management of the hospital to accept him.

After few hours of treatment, the EHA Clinics told the wife that it was expedient to transfer the former CBN Deputy Governor to Gwagwalada as the clinic was not fully equipped to handle the case.

The wife opposed the decision and insisted that she was opposed to the idea of taking her husband to Gwagwalada. Mailafia’s wife only succumbed when the consultant assured her that nothing bad will happen to her husband.

Yesterday, Saturday September 18, 2021, Dr Obadiah was transfered to Gwagwalada. on arrival, the name of the doctor that was billed to attend to Dr Mailafia was not on duty. Even when an attempt was made by foreign health consultants to save the situation, the doctor on duty got angry and said he was not obligated to listen to any foreign consultants that had been brought into the matter with the sole purpose of ensuring nothing  goes wrong.

Wife of the former CBN Deputy Governor was asked to pay the sum of N600’000 as deposit even when it was a referral case, with accruing medical bill to be settled by the CBN. At a point, Dr Mailafia complained over his breathing problems and pleaded with the doctors to place him on a ventilator. The doctors flatly refused.
Even after the doctors declared Dr. Mailafia dead, foreign consultants who were brought into the matter through Dr Mailafia’s son that is  living abroad, had directed a family member who is a medical professional, with the wife of the CBN Deputy Governor, to mount pressure on the chest of Dr.  Mailafia for  resuscitation and thereafter place him on a life support.

The doctors in Gwagwalada refused all entreaties by the family members of Dr Mailafia to follow the advice of the foreign consultants, insisting that they have already pronounced him dead. Even when the wife could feel the pulse of her husband, the doctor flatly declared there was nothing they could do since they had already pronounced him dead.

While the above narration sums up the circumstances under which Dr Mailafia died,  we still  await the result of the actual cause of his death. As a nationalist and patriot that he was, Dr. Mailafia  was completely dedicated to the emancipation of ethnic nationalities from the clutches of oppression. The economist was never afraid to speak truth to power just as he remained committed to the enthronement of justice and equity to all citizens across ethnic and religious  divides.

In the twilight of his life, this consummate technocrat and global scholar of repute beamed his searchlight on the raging insecurity ravaging our country. He expressed regrets over government’s incapacity to rein in the activities of insurgents and criminal groups terrorising the nation.

As a former presidential candidate in the 2019 poll, Dr Mailafia sought to deploy politics to bring about the dream he had for his country. Even after he lost the election, he never let down the bar in demanding for a fair treatment for all Nigerians.

The Forum recalls his patriotic zeal in standing up for truth and justice. He was never a letdown in being at the forefront of  showing the way for national greatness as he was willing to lay down his life for Nigeria.

The Forum is inspired by his altruistic disposition and contributions to national development. We remain proud of his footprints on the political, economic and social sands of our nation.

In this period of grief, we extend our sympathy to his immediate family members and pray to the Almighty God to grant each and everyone of them the fortitude to bear the pain of this irreparable loss.

The death of Dr Mailafia today represents a dark day for not only only the Middle Belt but also for all citizens  who yearn for a new dawn for justice in Nigeria.

▪︎ Dogo is the National Publicity Secretary, MBF


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My Wife and Best Friend: One Year Just Like Yesterday



by Kola Balogun

Beatrice (Beauty) Okiomoado Kola-Balogun, my wife of twenty-eight years left this sinful world to be with her creator, who loves her better around 9.00 pm on the 18th of August 2020. It was the darkest day of my life; a day I never wished to see! I left the National hospital that day around 1.00 pm since I was not allowed to go into the ward where she was with a view to returning the following morning to continue to hang around as I had done in the past one week since she was admitted into the facility.

On getting home, I called my children to give them update about their mom’s condition – that I spoke with her that Tuesday morning when she told me she wasn’t feeling better.
As it is usual with the family, it was a conference call; I told them how my day was spent at the hospital. We talked about other issues and the next approach towards her medical issues when she is discharged. We talked at length – everyone saying how much we were missing her, especially me, who could hardly do anything on my own without her input.

Meanwhile, there were several calls by the hospital and my General overseer, Rev. W. Okoye requesting me to come to the hospital while I was discussing with the children. Immediately we ended the call and I saw the missed calls, my heart skipped a bit! ‘’What could have happened?’’ I retuned the hospital’s call and was asked to come to the hospital that night. My thoughts ran riot! ‘’How could the hospital who had not allowed me access to her this past four days be calling me to come this night?’’ I reasoned. I refused to believe that the worst had happened! I suppressed every negative thought concerning her. ‘’How would I survive without her?’’ ‘’Where would I start from?’’ These were the questions that were ringing in my head seeking for answers as I drove to the hospital that night.
On getting to the hospital, the Doctor started with telling stories of the frailty and transience of life – ‘’nothing is new under the sun, ….’’ I didn’t know when tears started flowing from my eyes. The long and short of all his sermonizing was: ‘’your wife died about an hour ago at exactly 9.00pm’’! I was dumb founded for minutes – not talking, yet tears were running down my cheeks. ‘’How do I live without my soul-mate?’’ ‘’Where do I start from?’’ These and many more question ran riot in my head all that night.

It’s been one year now and God in His infinite mercies has kept me and my kids. We have become sources of encouragement to each other and we are determined to ensure that we carry on her legacy and keep her memory alive for the rest of our lives. Writing this tribute in her memory after this one year is a little way of expressing my undying love for her.
This one year without her has sent new memories flooding forward. Her life was a blessing and her memory a treasure. I loved her beyond words and miss her beyond measures!

Among the many qualities that endeared her to me was her kind-heartedness and going out of her way to do anything for you once she is fond of you. Since we got married on 28 December 1991 till her demise, she maintained that quality and never for once gave it up at any moment that I know. There was this extra ordinary fondness she had for her eldest brother, chief Charles Adogah SAN. She would rather give up her personal comfort than to disappoint her brother or any of her siblings for that matter. When I noticed that quality in her, I made up my mind never to obstruct her any time she had the obligation to assist or be with anybody, and for this she was always grateful.

So, when she had to travel to the village that weekend, I did not discourage her due to her ill-health. I would not have succeeded even if I tried. It was in fulfilment of a promise she had made to help organize the cooking/feeding aspect of a function in the village. “Madam’’, as I called her, you are not feeling fine and you are still going to embark on this journey?” I asked her. “You know that I had already given my word and he is depending on me to make everything work out successfully, how can I disappoint him at this last minute?” she made the journey and came back still looking frail and weak. She did some tests and it was confirmed that she had malaria and some level of typhoid fever. After taking two different sets of drugs treatment and she did not get better, the Doctor advised we go for injection option. The Doctor said they had discovered that some malaria were drug-resistant in recent times. I believed the doctor because I had the same experience while she was away to the village. She was placed on a three-day injection treatment. To our utter amazement, she did not get better after the injections. It was during one of the nights when she wasn’t feeling better that we had to go to another hospital aside the one where she had been receiving treatment.

The details of our experience at this other hospital is a story for another day. Exactly six days later, my loving wife, my confidante, my ‘mother’ gave in to the cold hands of death! It is exactly a year ago since she left me and the memory of the good times we had are the only consolation I have right now.

I have come to realize that the biggest fear anyone could have is not the fear of death, but the fear of never truly living – being there for others! Touching people’s lives positively and giving them hope in their hopeless situations.

‘Beauty’, my loving wife, lived! She was a quintessence of awe-inspiring impact to everyone who had the privilege of knowing her. She was an organizer, a bridge builder, a mother indeed! Most times, she would be on the phone mediating between siblings, friends and acquaintances till late into the night after I might have slept off. I remember an occasion when I told her that the inventors of GSM must have had her in mind when they embarked on the mission. She would call almost everybody on har contact register some days, including myself while in the office, just to ask after their welfare. A testimony to this fact occurred in December 2020, four months after she had passed when some of her friends in Benin city started calling her line. I had switched off her line that August immediately after her passing and when I switched it on again in December because I needed to retrieve some information from the phone, those calls started coming in. “It is very unlike her to stay for a whole month long without calling to check on us, even when we don’t call her that regularly, we’re really going to miss her soothing words of encouragement” said those her friends when they learnt of her passing.

One quality my wife possessed which I have been missing since her departure is composure! My wife was never in hurry to do anything. In one of our usual discussions one day, – we usually teased each other with our weaknesses and laughed at each other at the end. I told her that night that she always amazed me the way she composed herself calmly in whatever she did. She replied that it was the reason she liked planning ahead. True to her words, just a few days ago, our house help told me that most of the things she bought and stored in the refrigerator that we had been using were exhausted – one year after her passing we were still using ingredients she had stored! She was indeed a rare breed!
Her generosity was unprecedented, she would insist we left change for hawkers and road-side sellers whenever we stopped to purchase items like roast corn, roast plantain or bottled water. “I feel for these people and I wish I had the power to turn around their fortunes – how much would they make from these items they are hawking?’’ She would say. The peak of her generosity was when she requested that we started paying the school fees of our security guard’s children. Our security guard in the village has five children, two in the secondary school and the remaining three in the primary school. She started paying the kids’ school fees herself before informing me; when I asked her why she did that, she replied that it is to prove to me that it is doable, especially now that we are done with paying school fees for our own biological children. We had both agreed that we were going to set up orphanages and help stranded children back to school. We had actually started a programme of help to widows which we tagged “Lifeline”. She spare-headed the programme; every December she would travel to the village to arrange the bags of rice, and other ingredients and items we distributed to widows before Christmas. When she passed, we – my children and I and her younger brother who had been contributing to the programme, decided that we are going to rename the NGO after her. We named it – “Beatrice Ado Kola –Balogun Foundation”. Arrangements were on going and my eldest daughter was coordinating things in Canada, making contacts to relevant agencies. While all these were going on, my brother in-law, Mark, her younger brother said he had a dream where she was asking about the foundation. This is her lot! – doing things well and at the right time. We were able to conclude all arrangements and made the first presentation these month August at the first anniversary of her passing working in collaboration with Women impacting Nigeria, an NGO that touches the lives of widows. (She was compulsively kind-hearted but in ways that weren’t apparent to many people.)

My wife was one of the most brilliant students of the Bible and preachers I’ve ever known. But she was so modest, humble and quiet about her abilities that she didn’t often get the credit or recognition that she deserved. People often said I wrote her sermons whenever she was invited to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The truth is that my wife didn’t believe in my ability to prepare a good sermon for her. She would sit down and write everything herself! The only thing she would request I assisted her to do was in typing in bold font for easy reading for her, with a serious warning not to change anything from the original manuscript and that I should come back with both – manuscript and typed copy.

Beauty was a rare combination of beauty and brain. A bastion of support, dependable ally, soul-mate and partner of unprecedented standing. Life, truly is not fair; but I dare not give in to the disempowering tyranny of despair. That would tantamount to a disservice to the perpetual optimism that defined Beauty, my loving wife, whose favourite scripture is lamentation 3:37- “Who is her that says a thing and it comes to pass, when God has not commanded it”. I’m consoled by the fact of the above scripture that God had permitted it that she should go and rest in the bosom of her creator.
Once more, I want to use this opportunity to express my gratitude for the barrage of empathy and support I have been receiving from friends, brethren and family for this past one year. Amina Ohunene Francis-Audu (my wife’s gist partner), thank you so much for the delicious vegetable soup you send across often. You have shown that you are a friend indeed and I am sure that she would be proud of you in her new position.

May God almighty reward you and your husband and all those who have been standing by me for this past one year.

Beauty, my love, the memories of your love, sacrifices and affection for me and the kids will remain ever green in our hearts. If truly a person’s quality is measured by what he or she wants to achieve and not what he or she achieved, then, the quality of your personality is unquantifiable. You had those great plans – to touch lives, especially the girl-child! I will always love you. Thanks for the privilege and value of your friendship!




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