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Opinion

The Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua I knew

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By Ifueko M Omoigui Okauru

When in Public Service, one never knows the shoes you step on or those who write behind your back especially when you are in the process of reform, requiring unsettling changes to many.

One day, sitting in my office, as Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in the early days of the tax reform process, I was told a gentleman by name of Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua was at the reception to see me. I invited him in, not knowing who he was.

He introduced himself as a life patron of the International Press Institute and Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) (I had no clue of what that meant) and said he had a matter to discuss with me.

He brought out an official letter purportedly written on my behalf regarding unilaterally imposing VAT on the newspaper industry.

First, this was the first time I was seeing the letter. Second, it was not my style. I didn’t and still don’t take unilateral actions such as was suggested in the letter without consultation even if that was what I wanted to do.

I was shocked.

He mentioned the reason he came. That he didn’t know me but decided to meet with me.

That after reading the letter from the FIRS, the newspaper proprietors had met and decided to fight the FIRS and its reforms on an action that was to cripple the entire industry without even any engagement.

That he promised the group that though he didn’t know me, and had never met me, he had seen and listened to me on TV at different times. That he somehow wanted to be sure that the letter as written was truly written on my behalf as it seemed out of character with the person he had viewed from afar.

He gave me benefit of doubt and I will forever be grateful to him.

There in started my wonderful relationship with Mallam Funtua, Chief Ogunsola then of Punch and Uncle Sam (Amuka Pemu) of the Vanguard newspapers.

I had built the confidence of a formidable trio and only later did I realize what incredible value that brought. It was in every sense a win-win relationship for Government and the newspaper industry.

This relationship extended to my husband after we got married in 2007.

On occasion I would call after I had left office in 2012, and he would berate me for not asking after him enough. On his part, aside from his occasional calls, every time my husband ran into him, he would always ask after my well being, reminding him that he had not heard from us for a while.

If I was to call him a day before his demise, he would have been right as I had not spoken to him in several months. But I would have told him, as I always did, that our relationship was beyond just a call, but one forever in my heart. It is however a wake up call, that for those we love and share cherished memories of, we should constantly keep in touch as we never know the day God chooses to call us to his side.

I will always remember him for that singular act of walking into my office, not knowing me and giving me the benefit of doubt. In Public Service, and indeed any service, that’s immeasurable value.

The news of his death was broken to me by my husband. He woke me up from sleep to let me know. It came to my husband and I as a shock. Seeking answers, and several calls after, I understand that he had driven himself to hospital for a medical check-up as he wasn’t feeling well. The rest is history.

Mallam Isa Funtua, Rest In Peace
May Allah forgive your sins and grant you eternal rest in Heaven.

My condolences to his immediate and extended family.

▪︎ Omoigui Okauru, MFR, former Chairman , Federal Inland Revenue Service/Joint Tax Board
Managing Partner, Compliance Professionals Plc sent this via WhatsApp

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Health

Painful How Dr. Mailafia Was Allowed to Die By Doctors 

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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

Source: Everyday.ng

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Opinion

My Wife and Best Friend: One Year Just Like Yesterday

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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!

Kola

 

 

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Opinion

Secondus, PDP and Nigeria’s political development

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By Emeka Alex Duru

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, may have secured a breather with the sudden re-arrangement of the party’s elective national convention from December to October.

But for that face-saving move by the governors of the party and the Board of Trustees, he was almost being swept aside in the manner of his predecessors. Even then, his travails are not over, yet. The odds are clearly stacked against him. His remaining days in the office will be rough, henceforth. He will at best, remain a lame-duck.

The concern is not particularly on whether the allegation that Secondus lacks the capacity to reposition the party holds water. But in the PDP tradition, he has more or less, been declared guilty as charged. And in the typical Nigerian political culture, his seat, has been subtly declared vacant, even when he is still in office. Nocturnal meetings are already taking place even among his friends on who gets what from his anticipated fall.

That is the way of our politicians – friends in the morning and enemies at noon. Theirs, is akin to the ways of the vulture, a cursed species of birds that derives pleasure in feeding on the vulnerable, including its own. In the game of power, Nigerian politicians do not take prisoners; they go for a kill.

Secondus understands the rule as much as his traducers. He has been a beneficiary of the sordid game and knows the language; no permanent friend or enemy but an eye on fixed interest. At all time, Nigerian politicians have their eyes on the ball, not for public good but primarily for what they stand to gain.

In the curious book by V., “The Mafia Manager”, they fit into the characters driven by one aim: “profit and not averse to using any means to ensure and increase that profit”. None is altruistic in the true sense of the word.

That is, perhaps, how the current crisis in PDP, Nigeria’s leading opposition political party, can be properly understood. But that is not a story that can be exhausted in one setting. Just as the party, at its height, had appropriated the claim of the largest political party in Africa, the dimensions of its story have been those of an octopus.

One thing that cannot, however, be contested by even its committed members (assuming there are still some) and its supporters, is that the party has become a bungled dream, in a way.

Even when it had been thought that managers of the party would learn from the avoidable mistakes that pushed it out of power six years ago, nothing seems to have been learnt. In the process, the slide continues.

The piteous situation in PDP is usually what you get in a system that is nourished on intrigues – a verdict of history! From the skewed emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo as its presidential candidate in its1998 Jos convention against the established principles of the party, PDP has not had any transparent primary at all levels.

The party has also not had any democratically elected National Chairman since the former Vice President, late Dr. Alex Ekwueme and Second Republic Plateau State governor, late Solomon Lar, occupied the office in interim capacity.

None of the party’s Chairmen had also served out his term on a good note. What has rather been the norm is a culture of imposition and absence of internal democracy – a far cry from the original agenda of the party.

The charade that passed for a special convention in 2012 at the Eagle Square, Abuja, in which the then President Goodluck Jonathan supervised enthronement of Bamanga Tukur as National  Chairman and allocation of offices to other cronies in most undemocratic manner, was all that it took for the party to embark on its present implosion.

The immediate outcome of that flawed convention was the exit of key members of the party. PDP has not recovered from that misguided outing.

Here, for instance, was a party, which at its formation on July 29, 1998, the facilitators had imbued with great vision of putting the Nigerian nation on a new phase of political engineering.

The long-term objective was to create a frame work that would ensure a just and equitable distribution of power, resources, wealth and opportunities to conform with the principles of power shift and power sharing, rotation of key political offices and equitable devolution of powers to zones, states and local governments so as to create socio-political conditions conducive to national unity and to defend the sanctity of electoral democracy.

To add up, the PDP had in its fold, a generous spread of the nation’s first-rate politicians. It also appropriated to itself the tag of the largest party in black Africa. In a way, its claim of greatness paid off handsomely, initially, as it garnered many electoral victories, though, often questionable in some cases.

At a time, consumed by intoxication of power, its officials had pranced about, boasting that PDP would rule the country’s political space for 60 uninterrupted years. How then did the party get it wrong? How did it crash from its Olympian height to its current piteous state? And how can it be pulled from its unceasing drift?

These are the questions that many chieftains of the party do not seem bothered to ask themselves or may have chosen to ignore. This is why PDP has remained a toddler at 23; a scarecrow of sort and indeed, an object of ridicule, even among casual political observers.

It is the failure to address these questions that has seen the organisation, even in its fallen state, still being callously raped by its officials and members who only see in it a platform for attending to personal needs and attaining political offices.

For a party that says it wants to claw back to power in 2023, the expectation is that of a radical departure from an ugly past that has not earned it enduring rewards. But that seems far-fetched.

Of course, with the uncertain trends in the party, it may be convenient to watch from the sideline and say; ‘it is their thing; it is their business’. That may be correct, to some extent. After all, it is not everybody that is a politician. More so, not all the politicians belong to its fold.

The danger, however, is that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which seems poised to reap from the fall of the PDP, does not offer hopes for Nigerians. Between the PDP and APC, the difference is that between six and half a dozen. APC lacks focus and sense of direction, hence more than six years after coming to power, it is still confused on what to do.

All it will do, henceforth is to sustain its culture of recklessness and continue riding roughshod on Nigerians in the absence of a viable alternative.

Whatever any person may make of the current situation in PDP, it points to a sorry tale in the country’s political development.

 

*DURU is the Editor, TheNiche Newspapers, Lagos (08054103327, nwaukpala@yahoo.com)

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