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The Agbese Philip Challenge: Why The Old Masters Are Jittery

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There’s a yet to be explained dimension to the current wave of political reawakening in Nigeria, where youths of the country are agitating to take charge of the affairs of the nation.

Recent protests leading to the dissolution of a police unit may not have come with the intended verve for positive action, but it signals one thing; that the youths are tired of occupying the back seat of national politics and now want to be at the forefront.

Since 2018, youths clamour for increased participation in politics gained currency with the signing into law of the Not Too Young To Run bill, which statutorily enhanced the scope of youth participation in politics by extending the age for running for political offices downward.

Before then, former military president, Ibrahim Babangida had tried to create a window for the youths in Nigeria to once again take charge of the affairs of the nation as it was in the 1st Republic, through banning of old breed politicians from contesting political offices. His efforts however became lost in the mire of intricacies that accompanied his transition programme and attainment of a particular age took centre stage in qualifying for political office.

Fortunately in Benue State, the agitation for the youths to have a say in the way they are governed preceded the Not Too Young To Run Act, as young people began to ask questions and to indicate they have what it takes to move the state forward as was obtainable in the 1st Republic but which was lost over the years in the national malaise of recycling old hands.

The moment Benue youths had been waiting for to prove this nearly came in 2016, a court ordered rerun in the contest for the Benue South Senatorial seat and Daniel Onjeh of the APC again challenged former Senate President, David Mark.

Surprisingly, Onjeh’s loss in the rerun rather than suppress the agitation for youth participation in politics, increased it.

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Just last week, the posters of Chief Philip Agbese, who holds the traditional title of the Okanga Agila, announcing his intention to run for the Benue South Senatorial seat,
flooded cyberspace.

The colourful posters which had the picture of the young man doning a chieftacy hat was striking in both its aesthetic appeal and the potency of its message and drew lots of reactions across board.

The reactions as expected were electrifying as the entire Idomaland and beyond vibrated with the news of the entry of the Okanga into the 2023 Senate race in nano seconds, like a wave spiraled by a drop of an object in water.

Hitherto in the entire Zone C, it was thought that to aspire for Senate, one has to either be a grand father or be retired due to old age or had to spot grey hairs covering the head and visage to qualify.

But the sudden entry of the renowned philantrophist into the race has reinforced the quest for redefining political aspiration in the zone where only a circle see themselves as eligible for the seat.

But beyond that, it was the background and character of the Chief Agbese, that had served notice that something serious is about to happen in Zone ‘C’ as far as who will represent the zone in the next dispensation is concerned.

It is known in the entire Idomaland, that Chief Agbese does not talk where he does not intend walk neither does he walk away from something he had set his mind to do.

It is also known that the Okanga is a youth who had washed his hands and can therefore eat with elders and that he holds the key to unravelling political mysteries having been the brain behind the success of many politicians in the zone.

Little wonder that less than 24 hours after his posters flooded cyberspace, political office holders in Zone ‘C’ began to call for meetings with the people they have ignored since they won elections all in the bid to win back peoples’ confidence.

Political meetings were called late into the night to work out ways of confronting the new possibilities of the youths taking over political leadership in Idomaland.

Though many of the older generation pretended not to be perturbed, it was obvious that they were rattled and that voters in Idomaland would no longer be taken for granted.

The question many are asking is why these group of persons who have served in various capacities on behalf of Idomaland but largely wasted the opportunities are jittery about the Okanga joining the race for the Senate.

From the opinion of people sampled in the zone, it is obvious that the Okanga Movement comprising beneficiaries of his philanthropic acts cutting across age and geographical boundaries, if converted into a political force would be unstoppable!

People of the zone believe that between 2015 and 2019, no politician in Zone ‘C’ has affected the lives of the people like Chief Agbese has.

They say he has provided many indigent youths in the zone with scholarship to further their education, paid hospital Bill’s for many, provided employment for many in both the public and private sectors, and equally employed many in his private firms.

It was gathered that it was the youths he has helped in this regard that recently approached him and asked him to run for the Senate given his vibrancy, fearlessness and readiness to help others.

People also appreciate him for his constant contribution to security in the zone and recall with delight, how during the Covid-19 lockdown, he provided palliative for people by distributing trailer loads of food items in communities.

He has also provided capitals for many youths to start their businesses and helped the elderly with funds and vehicles.

The Okanga is seen a an inspiration to youths in Idomaland many of whom had hitherto become despondent and lost hope about making it in life.

The Chief Agbese story, where he rose to grace from a humble background excites the youths and gives them the hope to believe in themselves and aspire for greatness.

The Okanga is also known to embrace all in dealings with people and does not discriminate and is therefore seen as the bridge between the old and young, poor and the rich and as a unifying force for all communities.

His impact in national politics through youth activism and subsequent foray into business and the wide contacts he has both nationally and internationally is seen as the tonic that would be used to finally liberate the people of the zone and expose them to their entitlements as free citizens of the country.

Unfortunately, that is particularly what the old breed in Zone ‘C’ fear about him as they wouldn’t want the eyes of the electorate to be open so that they’ll continue to oppress and suppress hem.

The Okanga is also coming into politics with the pure intention of assisting people and to develop Idomaland.

Many know that God has blessed him as an Entrepreneur and his intention for joining politics is not to come and make money for himself and his family.

This is the Chief Agbese edge that has made many of the old masters to be jittery over his intention to run for Senate, but as good will always triumph over the contrary, arriving the destination in this particular journey is certain.

Isaac Ikpa writes from Asa-Ehicho, Otukpo.

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Opinion

Understanding Falana And His Phobia For Nigerian Army

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By Richard Murphy

An American international gospel evangelist, Rev. John MacArthur recently ruminated; “It is confusing to watch people demanding justice by violating laws.” There seems to be a conflict of law tormenting Nigeria’s human rights activists over the bloodily raging #EnSARS protests in Nigeria.

Leading the pack of rights activists is a lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN. He is vociferous in threats to drag the Chief of Army Staff( COAS) Lt. Gen. TY Buratai to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over watery claims that soldiers deployed to assist civil security restore sanity have indulged in rights abuses..

It is understandable that citizens are entitled to enormous rights under democratic Governments. But what must be clearly understood is also the exercise of these rights within the armbit of the same laws. It’s a reciprocal mutuality. That’s why the ponder of Rev. MacArthur is instructive.

It’s naive and senseless to breach laws in the guise of demanding justice. This tendency leaves the lawbreaker vulnerable to some unsavory treatment by the same laws.

Falana and his brigades of activists have every information long before now on the abused #EndSARS protests. It is not controvertible that these are no longer peaceful protests as insured by democratic tenets; but bloodily violent riots with all it’s gores and nasty repercussions.

By this development, the state has the sacred obligation to maintain public law and order, as well as protect the rights of law abiding citizens. Deployment of soldiers occurs when the gravity of public expressions of discontent becomes subversive and attempting to compromise national security as it is glaring over #EndSARS protests for days now.

Strangely, Falana and his merchantile activists are less concerned about the brazen and violent violation of the human rights of other Nigerians by the protesters. The so-called activists are more concerned about the rights of the lawbreakers and bloodsuckers in the guise of sticking to stipulations of the law.

But no action from Falana on these half-hearted human rights campaigns shudders anybody again because his antecedents are now known. He neither does it for philanthropic or humanitarian reasons.

The rights lawyer has abused the culture of human rights activism so thoroughly. It is expected because Falana understands the personal gains on expending his energies on this investment which richly services his bank accounts.

If there is anyone, anywhere in the world who understands conflict as a business, it must be Femi Falana, a self-styled human rights activist. Therefore, if there are no human rights issues in the country, he allegedly invents one once a crisis occurs through twisted narrations and fabricated tales.

He has the knack. Falana follows his contrived tales on alleged humans rights violations by making a hell of noise until it attracts the attention of the international community.

And soldiers are Falana’s favourite victims of his antics on human rights. The lawyer’s deep-seated hatred for the Nigerian Army has morphed into phobia. Falana is aware the Nigerian Army knows he conspires with foreign sponsors to undermine security in Nigeria. So, he has morbid fear of the Army.

Therefore, he uses the instrument of human rights at his disposal and credentials as lawyer to appear bold or fight back the Army by fruitlessly trying the trick of intimidation. But a soldier is never intimidated or coward.

And Falana’s trade in human rights is allegedly motivated by the handsome USDollars some foreign philanthropists and organisations have invested in battling violated human rights of people globally. But there are key conditions which must be met to drew assistance from the juicy funds set by these organizations for the human rights project.

A basic criteria for sponsors of human rights projects is the established existence of a conflict between the state and the citizens. Happily for Falana and soulmates, there are a galore of insecurities in Nigeria, which always dwarfs the capacity of civil security to handle. And the Armed Forces must intervene.

A fertile ground is automatically laid for Falana to ply his trade. He scouts for ways to falsely implicate soldiers over allegations of human rights.

Once this happens, his clients who are usually foreign-based begin to pay for his services in USDollars. No wonder himself and son were very vocal in instigatng the #EndSARS protests that eventually led to the killing of innocent Nigerians and massive destruction of properties, in addition to general breakdown of law and order in some states.

With fake news merchants on the prowl in town and vibrant social media activists claiming that the Army was shooting protesters in Lekki, Falana immediately activated his sense of business.

The faulty and spurious claims on soldiers were apt for Falana to grant interviews and spit fire over alleged human rights violations baselessly.

But Falana’s deception is unmasked by Nigerians. He cannot intimidate the Nigerian Military who are out to restore and safeguard public security sanity. Soldiers have been engaged in countless Internal Security (IS) in the country. They have always performed these special assignments with exceptional professionalism and patriotism. All Nigerians know Falana and his self-acclaimed gang of human rights activists better now.

Falana’s smear campaigns against soldiers in the line of duty on the #EndSARS violent protests are another puerile and worthless attempt. Let him continue to embolden subversive elements; but think it is feasible to make soldiers false culprits.

Lawyer Falana should take counsel from the COAS’s reaction to his tissue of lies and threats; Gen. Buratai has remained unmoved and resolute in the defence of Nigeria against subversive elements.

His words; “Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better. The NA (Nigerian Army) has been aware of the grand design by the sponsors of the protests to draw it into the crisis. The plan was to embark on massive propaganda to discredit the military and the government so as to set the people against the NA once it is called out to aid the civil authorities.”

He added, “Now the detractors alongside their local and international collaborators have mischievously and deliberately misrepresented troops’ efforts to ensure compliance with the curfew imposed by legitimate civil authorities in Lagos and other states.”

Murphy is a security expert and wrote from Calabar.

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Opinion

Lekki Shootings And The Resurrection Of The Massacred – By Philip Agbese

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These are indeed interesting times in the country. I am scared as well as concerned for the future of our great nation with the way and manner the once peaceful EndSARS protests were hijacked by some elements that do not wish the country well.

I recall that in some quarters, the youths on the streets were advised to leave the streets and embrace dialogue as offered by the government towards finding a lasting solution to reforming the operations of the Nigerian Police Force. I know for sure that those with genuine intent did heed to that noble call by staying away from the streets.

However, some saw this protest as the most beneficent avenue to enrich themselves, not minding the socio-economic implication of their actions. And consequently, they continued to defy pleas and overtures made to them. They constituted themselves into authorities overnight and waiting for that moment where the law enforcement agents would make a move, and they would escalate tension in the country.

That moment indeed came with the unfortunate incident at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos state that has been described as carnage by this same set of people and their promoters with pictures and videos making the rounds on the social media space.

It is also sad that these same people that claimed that the number of casualties was in hundreds have suddenly turned prophets that resurrected the dead because as the dust is finally settling, it has been realized that the whole incident was blown out of proportion with scores of people that were recorded as dead as a result of the shootings have now come to the open to say that they are not only alive, they are hale and hearty.

This is the unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in Nigeria, and it indeed calls for concern from all well-meaning individuals and groups that are desirous of the continued growth and development of the country.

We have searched for the mascaraed to no avail. We have also attempted to put faces to the names making the rounds as dead as a result of the Lekki shootings. But our celebrities kept sharing pictures and imaginary videos suggesting how ruthless the soldiers were when they opened fire on peaceful protesters. Some went as far as saying that the soldiers took away corpses of those killed and interestingly; these individuals do not have relatives or families that would raise the alarm as to their whereabouts.

Wonders indeed shall never end in Nigeria because we still haven’t come to terms with the damaging impact misinformation could have on the socio-economic wellbeing of our country, as well as our collective psyche as a people.

The Lekki incident has indeed shown us that there is a need for all to be circumspect in receiving and sharing information, especially on the social media space because the social media space is highly deceptive and misleading. For instance, pictures of several years back were dug up and shared as a part of the Lekki incident. There was a case of a picture of a man carrying a boy who was wrapped with the Nigerian flag and dripping in blood, which was a movie scene, and it was passed around as one of the victims of the Lekki incident.

Indeed the general public believed not until the man in question had to come out to inform the people that it was indeed a movie scene and has got nothing to do with the Lekki incident. There was also the case of popular actress, Eniola Badmus who was also reportedly shot by soldiers. She has also come out to deny been shot and that she is not dead or hurt in anyway.

Eniola Badmus is not alone in this regard, as many others have also come out to debunk the news making the rounds that there were either dead or hurt by soldiers. Yes, that was how thick the plot to cause mayhem in the country, and they somewhat succeeded because the gullible ones amongst us joined the bandwagon that was spreading fake news in justification for the destruction of properties and lootings that were recorded in parts of Lagos state.

It is thus my considered opinion that as the dust continues to settle, Nigerians would continue to receive shocking revelations as to what truly transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State. Nigerians would also know that indeed it was mere propaganda by the sponsors of the protest to give a dog a bad name to hang it.

The handwriting on the wall is clear enough for discerning minds to know that there is more than meets the eyes. Those unseen hands, those unheard voices that are responsible for the mayhem that was unleashed in Lagos would be clinking glasses and celebrating what they would describe as a significant victory against Nigeria.

Ironically, this is what the bulk of the youths out there have not come to realize. They are still probably basking in the euphoria of the moment and forgetting that a time would come when the chicken would come home to roost.

I do not think there is any more to say other than the fact that the youths have indeed allowed themselves to be used by some vested interest against the country by urging them to resort to violence as a means to achieving an end. Trust me; I cannot remember anywhere in the world where violence has proved to be a potent tool towards achieving tangible results. This is just common sense. As it stands, we must continue to pray that all those “massacred” by the soldiers continue to resurrect.

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Opinion

Punch Newspaper and the Era of Misinformation – By Samson Akindele

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I have been an advocate for credible reportage of issues in the country. This was hinged on how misinformation or fake news has led to a crisis of unimaginable proportion in many climes. It, therefore, became imperative for newspaper houses to introduce that extra mechanism that would ensure that information coming from their stable, must have been thoroughly verified and the sources competent enough to hold on to.


All of the above were severally abused by Punch newspaper in one of its report on the EndSARS crisis in Lagos state that resulted in the burning of police stations as well as the encounter with gunmen in military uniform at the Lekki tollgate, where some protesters lost their lives. To say that it wasn’t a despicable story by Punch would be an understatement. It was indeed a story that was poorly written from the beginning to the end.


As a first, Punch newspapers got its sources wrong wherein, it relied and quoted sources on WhatsApp groups to narrate the events that led to the burning down of Orile Police Station by hoodlums. In the said story, it went further to give credence to the source at the detriment of professionalism and objectivity.

We know for a fact that this is the era of fake news, and the Whatsapp platform has been one medium that individuals and groups have used to spread falsehood. And to think that Punch Newspaper could rely on such platforms makes it indeed worrisome for the future of journalism in Nigeria.
What Punch Newspapers has succeeded in doing is to exhibit its bias for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari through its frequent vicious attacks on the activities of the government. Needless I mention that Punch is the only newspaper in Nigeria that addresses President Muhammadu Buhari as Major General (rtd), a move many have considered as disdainful.

I am concerned that Punch newspaper is unconcerned about the negative impact its stories could have in a polity that is already tensed. A situation where outright misinformation is put in the public space, in my opinion, is aimed at serving one purpose, which is to continue to instigate the people against the law enforcement officers that have been deployed to maintain law and order in the country as a result of the protests.

These are indeed interesting times in Nigeria, and it must be realized that should entities like Punch newspaper continue with their divisive and highly slanted news reportage against the government, Nigerian might erupt in flames , which in my opinion remains the overarching desire of Punch newspapers.

If this is not the case, how could one possibly explain a situation where a newspaper of long-standing and many years would write a full story relying on information sourced from WhatsApp group chats and Instablog9ja? This also means that journalism has gone to the dogs because of no editor worth his onion would sanction such a story where sources are not credible. But again, for Punch newspaper, this is one opportunity to wreak havoc not minding the implications of their actions.

It was indeed a gross display of a deep-rooted desire to continue to mislead the members of the general public in a manner that has never been seen before. The danger is that most members of the general public would take the misinformation hook line and sinker and after that form their opinion about the happenings in the country and the efforts of the government thus far. It is also despicable that from available information, the events that led to the burning down of Orile Police Station is far from what Punch newspaper reported.

What does this tell us? It simply tells us that news mediums such as Punch have ulterior motives and they would stop at nothing until they succeed in misleading members of the unsuspecting general public, as in this case.
In the light of this, Nigerians must be circumspect with news content from Punch newspapers because there is an overarching desire to propagate highly misleading information to the general public in furtherance of their evil intentions against the country. This is indeed a statement of the fact because when a news medium elects to peddle outright falsehood without minding whose ox is gored intentionally is an indication that every parameter of reasonability has been exceeded, and the next step is to unleash the jargons on the gullible readers.

In my opinion, this is the worst form of journalism and one that negates every aspect of the journalist creed. I doubt if the promoters of Punch newspaper still remember that journalism entails a high degree of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every news medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standards. In the exercise of these duties, a journalist should always have a healthy regard for the public interest by refraining from publishing inaccurate and misleading information.


They must also be reminded that all journalists and news mediums must strive to enhance national unity and the public good. Can the Punch newspaper claim to be within conduct with regards to the above stated? The answer is a huge no, and it is indeed a shame that for a newspaper as old as Punch would elect to throw away all known principles required for credible and reliable journalism.

The promoters of Punch newspaper must also come to terms with the reality that their news medium would fast lose its readership if that is not happening already.

They must also realize that the general public has seen through their gimmick that is evidenced in their disjointed editorial style that spews hatred, misinforms the general public, castigates the government for no justifiable reasons and threw away all the tenets of credible journalism in the thrash can all in their despicable desire to rubbish whatever gains that have been made by the present administration in all spheres of our socio-economic life.

From the look of things, there is no difference between Punch newspapers and other blogs and gossip sites that aggregate half-truths to drive traffic to their site. Perhaps, Punch is now an affiliate of Intablog9ja and other blogs that does nothing but spread gossip. It is sad, and there must be retracing of steps in the overall interest of peace and tranquillity in Nigeria.

Akindele wrote from 13 JOEL Ogunnaike, Lagos.

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