You are all welcome to this Press Conference which is the official flag off of a 36-month Project on PROMOTING ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE HOME GROWN SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME IN OGUN STATE being implemented by Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) with support from MACARTHUR FOUNDATION. We commenced the project effectively on December 1, 2017.
This Press Conference is focusing on the Ogun State Home Grown School feeding program, one of the current administration’s noble projects to increase school enrolment, boost local agriculture and improve the nourishment of pupils who are the primary beneficiaries of the project.
To this end, our Organisation WOCON, with support from the MacArthur Foundation are collaborating to organize this Press Conference to enlighten the good citizens of Ogun State on activities surrounding our accountability program on the Home Grown School Feeding Project (HGSFP) in Ogun State and to create awareness and publicity for this Project.
INTRODUCTION OF THE PROJECT
The Home-Grown School Feeding Program (HGSFP) is one of government’s funded social investment programs which focuses on providing a free nutritional meal for public primary school pupils (Primary 1-3) across the country with the aim of improving school enrolment, improving child health and nutrition, increasing and encouraging local agricultural production, creating jobs and empowering women while also improving family and state economy. Ogun State is proudly one of the foremost States to engage in this Program.
This Project will involve monitoring and tracking of the activities of the National School Feeding Program in the entire beneficiary Primary Schools in Ogun State while roles of the identified Stakeholders such as Government Agencies, School-based Management Committee members, Aggregators, Caterers, Heads of Schools, etc. will clearly be identified for the sole purpose of tracking roles of each of the stakeholders in ensuring that the program objectives are met.
For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with our work, may I start by introducing our Organization, Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON).
WOCON is a not-for-profit, non-religious, non-partisan and non-Governmental Organization committed to the enforcement of women and children’s rights and the attainment of equality, development and peace. WOCON holds a United Nations Special Consultative Status and is registered as an Incorporated Trustee under the Companies and Allied Matters Act of Nigeria on 25th August 1995.
Apart from our numerous campaigns in the area of the protection of the rights of women and children, girl child education and focus on gender-based violence especially campaigns against human trafficking; WOCON has since its inception conducted several activities for the sustenance of good governance and democratic rule in Nigeria. WOCON has engaged in Research studies, Advocacy, Sensitization and Direct Action programmes focusing on Democracy, promoting good governance as well as several anti-corruption campaigns and outreaches and have facilitated capacity building for good governance for sustainable development for Public Office Holders.
WOCON has an anti-corruption mandate and has committed resources into organizing governance Trainings, Workshops and Dialogues, Town Hall meetings on civic education and good governance in Ogun State and other States in the South West to support the democracy program.
The Home Grown School Feeding Program in Ogun State is one of WOCON’s many anti-corruption projects.
School feeding programs have been introduced in many developed and developing countries of the world to address the issue of poverty and stimulate school enrolment and performance. In developing countries including Nigeria, almost 60 million children go to school hungry every day with about 40 percent of them from Africa. Studies have significantly linked the School Feeding Program to increased school enrolment and performance.
Of particular note is that this program in Ogun State has also been noted to promote local agriculture as it utilises locally-sourced food. This shows that Government understands and accepts its roles as a critical underlying factor which promotes nutrition, develops health, education and the lives of the children as well as the indigenes.
WOCON’s MANDATE: Our mandate is to monitor and evaluate the Project in 40 Schools across 4 Local Government areas of Ogun State namely: (i) Abeokuta North, (ii) Ikenne, (iii) ImekoAfon and (iv) Odeda Local Government areas. There are other cohort members that are working on other local govermnts in Ogun State and in other schools.
This monitoring will take place from the tracking stage to the disbursement of funds while we are also to ensure that monies assigned for this project are properly disbursed and used for the purposes for which they are meant which principally, is to strengthen local accountability practices in the School Feeding Programme, thereby reducing corruption and ensuring that the children beneficiaries of the Program are adequately fed with quality food during the program.
To give the best to Ogun State, WOCON has identified fellow partners who are experts in this field and who have joined their efforts to ours to strengthen our accountability efforts in a bid to ensure that from start to finish along the supply chain, transparency and accountability remains the focus.
Top on our mandate is to ensure
(i) That the number of students earmarked for the School Feeding Program are wholly and properly fed with a quality meal a day
(ii) That the budget meant for the School feeding program is judiciously utilized for the project. (iii) That the HGSFP budget is properly accounted for and to curb wastages in the system.
(iv) That corrupt practices are tracked reported and reduced from the processes involved in the course of executing the School Feeding Program.
Most important to our supporting Partner is for the Project to reveal how Government’s disbursement of funds work in order to determine the indices that will provide the degree of trust required in the adopted procedures of the project implementation, also to critically evaluate this Feeding Programme without any bias or prejudice to the Executive Agencies, to ensure budget performance by ensuring the monies earmarked are used for the purpose for which they are meant, to ensure government keeps to its promise of providing one meal per day per child to the pupil beneficiaries to encourage attendance in school, boost academic performance, strengthen the communities by using food procured from local smallholder farmers, thereby providing a market in which farmers can sell their produce. Above all, to clearly identify lapses and bottlenecks at all levels with all Stakeholders as well as the consequences of such practices on the Program in order to expose and tackle them.
Macarthur Foundation’s program strategy of promoting accountability and reducing corruption in the educational sector resonates with this project which is expected to add value to existing accountability efforts especially that of the Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs which is in charge of Ogun Meals and increase transparency in education finances.
Distinguished members of the press, we are going to fully engage you in this project; there will be jingles on radio, there will be regular discussions on radio, television and the social media, including phone -in programs with stakeholders and other interest groups. We will also train members of the communities involved on how to effectively play active roles in monitoring, and how best to maintain and sustain this accountability project beyond the project life. We also need to keep the people adequately informed about the progress and the expected achievements in this laudable project.
At this juncture, we wish to express our gratitude to Ogun Meals ably supervised by the Commissioner, Barr. Adeleke Adewolu, the Programme Manager, Mrs. Tinuola Shopeju and other dynamic and formidable members of this Team particularly Mrs. Osholukoya, for their devotedness, hard work and quality work which has kept this project up to date. Their support and openness since the inception of this work has been remarkable and we encourage this dynamic Team to keep up the great work and be prepared to make amendments when necessary.
A most relevant question in this Press Conference that we believe the audience will love to ask today is, how has this project fared in the light of expectations from the Federal Government, the international community and the beneficiary communities within Ogun State. No doubt there are challenges encountered on the monitoring field and there are hiccups and bottlenecks here and there due to logistics and bureaucracy in government in the day to day disbursement of both funds and food. However, we are pleased to affirm that Ogun Meals Team has been on top of this Project and has been most receptive and both objective in providing listening ears to all the members of our Cohort Group and have promptly risen to the task in correcting all observations reported on the field as we go along.
As we wrap up this Press Release this morning, we want to promise the Ministry and the good people of Ogun State that we in WOCON will do all in our power to ensure that the objective and principal goal and the aim of the Federal Government on this Program is fully achieved which is to ensure that the children beneficiaries identified for the School Feeding Program are adequately fed. And this we have resolved to do to the best of our ability.
We will not fail our Funding Partner, we will not fail the Federal Government and we will not fail Ogun Meals in ensuring that all anomalies detected are corrected; when and where discovered, all offenders will be brought to book. We will resolve to do all in our power to join forces with this administration to eradicate corruption from our nation.
Once again, we thank the Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, the Programme Manager OGHGSFP and all members of the Team too numerous to mention, our dear Partners and Cohort Group members, Action Health Incorporated and Centre for Women’s Health and Information, our Consultants and members of the communities represented here from Abeokuta North, Imeko Afon, Ikenne and Odeda Local Governments, and distinguished member of the Press, for your presence here today. We count on your unflinching support to ensure the best for our children who are the future of Ogun State
Please permit me say OMO OGUN, ISE YA.
LONG LIVE OGUN STATELONG LIVE THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
In a few weeks, it’ll be seven years since Senator Ibikunle Amosun took over Ogun State as Governor. He came with the slogan “Mission To Rebuild Ogun State” (MITROS). His promise was to ‘rebuild’ the State in all critical sectors - education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, employment generation, community development, empowerment of women, creating enabling environment for business, etc.
Having spent his first term and another three years out of the second and final term in office, all that Governor Amosun has got to offer Ogun State are already manifest. We all have seen Amosun’s very best, we’ve seen his MITROS - warts and all!
WHY THE RESCUE MISSION: FACTS AND FIGURES
Besides the normal recurrent expenditure, which has been consistently high under the Amosun Administration, about 90 percent of what remained for capital expenditure has been spent on expansion of very few existing urban roads in a few locations in the State. Out of a total of 2,545 kilometers of state (Trunk B) road across the State, Governor Amosun has spent almost N300 billion to expand a total of 347 kilometers. This represents a paltry 13.6 percent of state roads crying for attention. Virtually all internal (Trunk C) roads in every city, town and village in the State have become impassable. This is the case because all federal allocations to Local Governments (LGs), as well as their Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) are seized by Amosun using the instrumentality of a law he enacted immediately he got into office for what he described as State/LG Projects Joint Account.
Apart from all other sectors neglected due to this mono-focus on urban road expansion which, in real terms, adds little or nothing to the GDP of Ogun State, the real tragedy is the huge debt Amosun will be leaving for all of us and our children to settle in at least the next 30 years.
The incompetence and irresponsibility of the current government are vividly captured in the 2016 Financial Statement of the State published in some national newspapers on December 28, 2017. In that Statement, Ogun State had a total revenue of N114.8 billion. From this figure, FAAC allocation from Abuja was N32.6 billion, IGR N71.5 billion, and others (not specified - most probably short-term loans from banks) N10.7 billion.
From this revenue of N114.8 billion, N70 billion (or 61 percent) went on recurrent expenditure in 2016. While salaries and emoluments took N39.5 billion, overhead costs consumed a whooping N13.8 billion, with debt servicing taking away N16.7 billion (this amounts to N1.39 billion monthly).
From the figures above, it would be seen that only N44.8 billion was available for capital expenditure. To appreciate the level of incompetence and corruption of the Amosun government, I’ll cite two roads that are typical of the road expansion projects executed by it.
- OGTV-Brewery junction road with a distance of 8.7 km at a total cost of N17.2 billion and per/km cost of N1.98 billion.
- Sagamu-Benin Express junction/Oba Erinwole junction road at a total cost of N11.87 billion and per/km cost of N1.7 billion.
If the total amount available for capital expenditure in a typical year (as it was the case in 2016) was N44.8 billion, how does anyone justify spending N1.98 billion to expand one kilometer of an existing road with no strategic importance or the potential to boost the local economy? At that rate, it means the whole N44.8 billion could expand a total of only 22.6 kilometers in a budget year out of the 2,545 km Trunk B roads and tens of thousands Trunk C roads needing attention.
Now, the reported costs of the road projects are another matter entirely. The Lagos-Ibadan express road being executed by the Federal Government is 124 km at a cost of N167 billion, which translates to N1.35 billion/per kilometer. While the Sagamu-Lagos end is 8 lanes, the Sagamu-Ibadan portion is 6 lanes. Apart from the width of the FG’s road, the construction is a total overhaul of existing road with massive excavation and very thick concrete and asphalt overlay that are several times the volume and dimension of any of Amosun’s roads. Yet, the FG’s road is far cheaper than what is delivered to us in Ogun state.
The foregoing is the very reason there are no passable roads in the towns and villages of Ogun State outside of the 300+ km in the few urban locations. It is the reason the education and health sectors have deteriorated so badly. It is the reason unemployment is at its worst in the history of the state. It is the reason the 7,334 CDAs and 55,000 cooperative societies in the State receive no attention whatsoever from the government. It is the reason only one out of the 22 so-called Model Schools started 6 years ago is operational. It is the reason the government is owing civil servants 18 months salary deductions and 4 years of backlog in gratuities and pension. It is the reason so many manufacturing concerns in Sango Otta, Agbara, Igbesa, Akute, Ogijo, Mowe and Ibafo axis have shut down and retrenched thousands of workers because there are no motorable roads to their factories. It is the reason agriculture receives no tangible government support and it is the basis of the lie and fraud called MITROS rice. It is the reason all the taps hitherto serviced by public pipe-borne water are dry. It is the reason the whole economic environment of Ogun State is so dreary and mournful.
THE DEBT OVERHANG
In the 2016 Financial Statement referred to earlier, the government reported a total debt stock of N113.2 billion, being internal and external loans. This is partial reporting and concealment of facts. Non-flow debts of liabilities to workers and pensioners, outstanding payments to contractors and suppliers are not included. Informal estimates have it that total non-flow debts are about N150 billion. With the interest-based debt of N113.2 billion, the $300 million (= N109 billion) World Bank loan recently and dubiously approved for Amosun by the National Assembly, the current government will be leaving a whooping N372 billion debt overhang for Ogun residents to sort out for the next two generations. For, if the debt repayment rate remains at the N1.39 billion per month level of 2016, it’ll take a minimum of 30 years to settle the debt at a conservative single-digit interest rate of 9 percent.
‘THIRD TERM’ FOR AMOSUN? It is ironic, therefore, that the man and his government that promised to rebuild Ogun State at the inception, through their own publicly presented records, which obviously must have been doctored - suggesting that the reality would be worse than presented - have only succeeded in effecting monumental destruction and degradation on the State. This makes it imperative that conscious and concrete efforts be made to retrieve our State from him and halt its decline. Yet, this is the Governor that has been boasting that he’ll foist on us a successor to continue the pillage and cover his back. Evidently, this man has no worthwhile interest or plan for the State beyond dominating and cornering its resources. For, it is certain that anyone from his camp would definitely continue along his line of bad governance.
It should be obvious to all right thinking observers that Ogun State cannot and should not be allowed to continue under the tutelage of Governor Amosun and his ilks in All Progressive Congress (APC), as the party and its standard bearer have shown themselves as incapable of rebuilding Ogun State as promised. And in the light of the stark evidence staring us in the face about the level of denudation that the State has been subjected to under the APC government, it should be the responsibility of all Ogun State indigenes and residents to work assiduously to see that APC is prevented from further mounting the saddle of governance in the State. The case against APC cannot be made better than the way the current government has misused its mandate.
The final journey of late Iya Afin Janet Olufunsho Obadara, the wife of Nigerian Senator, Gbenga Obadara took place on Friday, March, 9,2018 at 9.00am within the family palatial home known as Rock House located in Government Reservation Area(GRA), Ibara,Abeokuta,Ogun State Capital, with a lying-state.
The lifeless body of mother of three was lying inside a 30 year old lifespan casket. A look at the corpse does not suggest it is lifeless, but rather it was as if the woman was busy sleeping and does not want any disturbance.
Penpushing report that, the lying-in-state lasted for about one hour as family, friends and symphatizers filed round to give the last honour to the wife and mother, who was born on 19th September,1965 and died on 10th January, 2018. The bereaved husband and children; Moremi, Gbolabo and Keso could not hold back tears.
Immediately after the completion of the lying-in-state, the remains were moved into a white colour hearse, accompanied by the bereaved family, for the 10minutes trip to Trinity Methodist Church, Itesi, Abeokuta for the final funeral service.
The convoy which include who is who within and outside the country arrived the church as scheduled, hence, the service commenced with officiating ministers, which include; Archibishops, Presbysters, Priest, Deacons, Deaconess, Pastors and Evangelists.
The church was full to capacity, and the community stood still to also witness the glorious exit of the deceased. Similarly, the undertakers were not left out, as they engaged in sonorous songs to bid the deceased final farewell.
The members of the household name media outfit, Penpushing Platform were not left out at the ceremony to honour the deceased and the family. They include, Ibikunle Amosun(Ogun State Governor), Dimeji Kayode-Adedeji(founder of the platform),Prince Segun Adesegun(former Ogun State Deputy Governor) Chief Bode Mustapha, Prince Rotimi Paseda, Kehinde Sogunle, Funmi Wakama(General Manager, NTA, Abeokuta),Prince Gboyega Isiaka,Eddy Aina, Dr Goke Rauf and Sina Aroyewun
In the same vein, others in attendance include; Gbenga Kaka(former Ogun State Deputy Governor),Senator Magnus Abe, Senator Gbenga Ashafa,Tunde Lemo(former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria),Titi Oseni(former Speaker, Ogun State House of Assembly),Wasiu Wessy Creations, and Remi Bakare.
Others include; Olori Gbadebo,Chief Joju Fadairo, Biyi Otegbeye,Senator Akin Odunsi, Lekan Mustapha,Engr Ojeshina, Bukola Olopade,Yomi Soyinka,Sola Lawal, Alhaji Taofeek Lawal, Dr Reuben Abati, Hon Ladi Adebutu, Hon Kunle Adeyemi, Hon Adijat Oladapo,Taiwo Sogunle,Barrister Adeoluwa Taiwo,Gboyega Okegbenro
Abuja, Nigeria & Doula, Cameroon
5 March 2018
Journalists at two regional meetings organised by the Federation of African Journalists and Ethical Journalism Network have called on media to take steps to address the issue of hate speech in media ahead of key elections in the Central and West Africa.
Representatives from Cameroon, Chad, DR Congo and Congo Brazzaville, met in Douala from 26-27 February hosted by the Cameroon Journalists Trade Union, while delegates from Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo met in Abuja from 1-2 March hosted by the Nigerian Journalists Union (NUJ).
Both meetings agreed that hate speech, fake news and abusive exploitation of information technology are endangering pluralism, democracy and the defence of human rights. The meetings, which brought together over 80 journalists, editors, industry regulators and educators, reaffirmed that ethical journalism is the key provider of the information that democracy needs to survive.
African media professionals were called upon to support the continental campaign Turning The Page of Hate to expose, isolate and eliminate all forms of incitement to intense hatred and violence and called on journalists unions and other partners to promote practical tools such as the 5-point test for hate-speech for training of journalists in newsrooms and for freelance reporters.
As a result of the meetings the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) and Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) have undertaken to work with all relevant stakeholders to update ethical codes across region so that they adequately deal with the growing threat of hate speech, terrorism and violent extremism.
Participants welcomed the timely nature of the event and called on the EJN and FAJ to work with media groups to create election reporting guidelines and hate speech glossaries ahead of the elections in Cameroon, DR Congo, Gambia, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Togo and elsewhere in the region. It was also agreed that FAJ and EJN shall develop a long-term strategic plan for similar interventions ahead of other elections in Africa.
The meeting also put forward a programme to improve ethics, good governance and self-regulation; fight corruption in the newsroom; strengthen reporting of terrorism and violent extremism; updating and enhancing how journalism is taught; as well as developing holistic media literacy programmes that bring together, media owners, regulatory bodies, journalist unions, academic institutions, media development groups and civil society.
For the full declarations and plans adopted by the meetings see:
Abdulwaheed Oduola Odusile, President, Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)
The programme has enlightened our members and equipped them with useful resources and information to help them uphold the ethics and standards of our profession. We look forward to engaging in further activities with the Ethical Journalism Network in order to improve conflict sensitive reporting and election coverage.
Alh. Muhktar Gidado, Deputy President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
The theme of the conference was appropriate at this moment when African countries including Nigeria are attempting to consolidate democratic governance. I encourage all colleagues across Africa to adapt to defend digital rights in the context of freedom of expression and the citizens right to know. We must practice our profession according to its ethical standards to meet the expectations of our audience and because the survival of any democracy depends on a credible and unrelenting media. The Nigeria Union of Journalists and Federation of African Journalists will continue to work to improve the capacity of our members so that we have an objective, balanced and accurate news media that is accountable to our audience.
Denis Nkwebo, CJTU President, Union National des Journalistes du Cameroun (SNJC)
Chris Elliott, Board Member of the Ethical Journalism Network
Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)
Gabriel Baglo, General Secretary
Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ)
Shuaibu Leman, National Secretary
Cameroon Journalists Trade Union (CJTU)
Ethical Journalism Network (EJN)
Tom Law, Director of Campaigns and Communications
About the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN)
The Ethical Journalism Network aims to strengthen the craft of journalism and to promote for the public benefit high ethical standards in media through education, training and publication of useful research.
About the Turning the Page of Hate campaign
The dangers of hate speech in journalism are well known and can have tragic consequences. In response, the Ethical Journalism Network launched the Turning the Page of Hate campaign in 2014 to mark the 20-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Since the EJN has held regional events in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, and Tanzania to mobilise journalism at all levels against manipulation of media and journalism as weapons of hatred and incitement to violence.
The EJN 5-point test for hate-speech
As part of the campaign the EJN created a 5-point test for journalists to use to identify hate speech and report on it with an ethical content.
For more context and details about how to use the five-point test for hate speech, read the EJN’s extended guidelines.
The EJN’s 5-point test infographic has been translated into over 20 languages and can be downloaded for use in newsrooms and for training.
Contact the EJN if you would like to join campaign.
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The issue of mobility of children is a new concept in the field of child protection and among child protection actors, its refers to the movement of children between different geographical and social spaces. The causes and consequences of mobility are neither positive nor negative, we can say that itis an ample and multifaceted phenomenon prompted by various causes and factors such as structural constraints, failure of school system, unfavourable life contexts, poverty, vulnerability of households, harmful cultural practices, civil unrest and the rest. This has caused many children to move in search of an opportunity to have access to work, employment, learning, education and better living conditions.
However, this current forms of children mobility raise some concern in terms of legal standards as it affects the protection of children (age, movement conditions) and risks and dangers they are exposed to in their migratory routes (exploitation, trafficking, abuse, ritual killing).
Sola Tunde-Oladepo is a widow of late journalist and former Chairman Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ),Ogun State Council, who was assassinated two decades ago in the presence of the wife and children inside the family residence in Abeokuta. The widow recalled the sad incident, which remained a black day for the family. It is a pathetic memory, which she tagged, ’The Death of His Eyes’. The write up from her Canada base is worth reading……….
She did not want to write this. After all, she had remarried. To a man he would have approved of, a man who would allow her to keep his memories. A man who allowed the children to all have the same tribal first name. However, if she does not write this, it will seem that she has forgotten him like others have. But she has not forgotten. How could she? She remembered when they both met, two broken people bought together by fate. Before, he would go around saying that only “crazy people” got married. Then he met her and decided to join the crazy wagon.
It was not a perfect union. But it had love, commitment, passion, bickering and all the entrails of a young love.
She had been through tough times, abuse and multiple disappointments in her youth and he had seen his mother pass through adversity. It made the fire burn in him to succeed.
*He came back home at around midnight. She woke up to see him standing over her.
“What is wrong with you? Did you have a nightmare?” he asked.
“What was I doing?” she asked.
“I will tell you tomorrow morning,” he replied.
She sat up to read the newspapers he had brought back from work. And then they slept.
0215: It was the door of their room opening that woke her up. She shouted “Jesus!”.
It was her shout that woke him up. He looked at her for the last time and then at the intruders with an askance look.
They rushed at him and dragged him off the bed.
She kept her eyes closed mouthing, “Jesus…Jesus help us.” over and over again.
The gunshot woke their two children from their slumber. It was the tap from one of the intruders that jerked her back to reality.
“Shut the kids up or you all die.”
She got up naked, the milk from her nursing breast weeping as if to drown out the tragedy unfolding. She lifted the kids up and covered their mouths. And they all stayed there and watched as he struggled with death till it took him.
Before he died that day, they had succeeded in killing his eyes.
She remembers the day he came home with two teeth missing after an attack along Kobape road. That was the first time she would see fear in his eyes, a man whose booming voice gave her confidence and drowned out her fears. She held him that day, assuring him that she would continue to love him teeth or no teeth.
She remembers storming to a newspaper office in Abeokuta, while 8 months pregnant. She had gone looking for a friend turned foe to implore and ask that they not kill his spirit – to ask that they stop the death she saw spreading in his eyes.
But they ended up taking the eyes of his soul, with the impeachment and the attacks before they finally took all of him. The things he went through before he died still gnaws at her soul and at her core to this day.
0430: After the intruders left, she held him and started speaking in tongues. Calling on God, the Host of Heavens to save him. She prayed in a loud voice and her faith held. At the hospital, the doctor told her to go and get money. She did, and then she sat down surrounded by people who, for hours, knew he had been dead.
She refused to believe that he would not live. How could he die? He would not do that to her. Leave her in the midst of such a chaotic world. Then her father walked in, looked her in the face and said, "He is gone," as he himself broke down into tears.
Her father, his favorite daughter. He was the one that cried the most on her wedding day. It was this imperfect man but perfect father who nursed her back to health when she would not get up from her childhood bed in her mother’s room. He would cajole her and feed her while wiping tears from his own eyes. He lamented about how he wished he was the one that died. And when even his love was not enough to bring her back from the brink of death she was tethering on, he used the weapon of love. He told her mother, “Stop feeding the girls, stop bathing them. Maybe she will get up.” When the 10 month old would crawl to mum and lift up her blouse to suckle because she was not fed, she started to rise. When she saw that she had a mammoth work in her fore, she knew she had to get up if she wanted these seeds of love to thrive. That was the first step. That was how she started living again. Her father would not survive the tragedy. It was too much for him. He fell ill and died some years after.
There were mourners and there were mockers. Cries of “This is the age your mates are getting married.“ The people that hunted him and killed his eyes were nowhere to be found; the ones that loved him till death stood firmly behind him.
March 4, 1998: She would have stayed in the humble abode they called home if they had agreed to bury him on the property. She would have stayed there and lived out the rest of her life. But he was an Ibadan man.
"Omo Lafiku, omo yakoyo... ori ade ki sun ta".
So, on that day in March, she went with the motions. There was a lying in state at the golf course. And then a lying in state at the Iwe Iroyin house. It was at this procession that she saw one of her husband’s murderers walking past the casket. One of her many gifts is that she never forgets a face. Never. It was the man who had tapped her on her shoulder after they had shot her husband. He was the one that looked her in the face and told her "We have killed your husband."