• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Cry havoc and “Buga” dancing at the UN (grime, ruin and remnants) (IV)

The last mile syndrome (10)

My paternal grandmother Maria who died in 19…at age of … was so thoroughly convinced about the enduring goodwill generated by the philanthropy of my grandfather Dr. J.K. Randle and my father Chief J.K. Randle that when there was a frenzy of kidnapping of children (in the 1950’s) in Lagos, she quietly assured me and calmly delivered profoundly sound advice: “If you are ever kidnapped, just let the kidnappers know that you are J.K. Randle and they will promptly release you.”

Even if I never put it to test, I have every reason to be thankful that when I was conferred with the National Honour of Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) (wrongly believed to be “Owner of the Federal Republic”!!), the citation read as follows: “Chairman and Chief Executive of KPMG Nigeria; Chairman KPMG Africa; Council Member KPMG International; Member Accountants In Business Committee of International Federation of Accountants [IFAC]; President Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN); Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of Lagos State University; Chairman Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON); Member Governing Council University of Benin; etc.

Author of the following books: “The Godfather Never Sleeps,” “God Does Not Live In Los Angeles Anymore?,” “Who Is Fooling Who?,” “The Natives Are Friendly,?” and “The Duke And The Soul Princess.”

Sponsor of the Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Competition (1928) Nigeria’s oldest sporting competition.

Here we are in 2022 and I have just received a copy of a letter dated 19th July, 2022, reference T.920/LA from Office of The Administrator General and Public Trustee

“Estate of Chief Joseph Koshoniola Randle”

Please be informed of the following facts regarding our administration and management of the above mentioned Estate: The sole executrix of the estate of Late Chief Joseph Koshoniola Randle, Mrs. Abigail Majekodunmi, filed an application in Suit No. M/104/64 and obtained an Order of Court dated 6th October, 1969 to surrender the estate to the Administrator-General and Public Trustee, Lagos State.

If you are ever kidnapped, just let the kidnappers know that you are J.K. Randle and they will promptly release you

The estate was however not transferred to the Administrator-General and Public Trustee by the sole executrix until 1972.

At the time the estate was transferred to the Administrator-General and Public Trustee, there was nothing left except the Trust property on Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere (“Eagle Club”) which is owned jointly by the deceased and his late brother, R. A Randle,

Nevertheless, the Administrator-General and Public Trustee was still able to adequately take care of the education and welfare of the two children of the deceased (Bashorun J.K. Randle and Mrs. Iwa Adelaja) with the residue of the state handed over.

Subsequently, an application was filed in Court by the Administrator-General and Public Trustee in Suit No. M/454/90 where his Lordship Ayorinde C.J. (as he then was) ruled that the Administrator-General and Public Trustee should put the beneficiaries mentioned in Clause 10 of the deceased’s Will on notice of the bequest to them and also, render account and distribute the outstanding sum in the estate to the beneficiaries under Clause 10 of the Will.

The following are the beneficiaries listed under the said Clause 10 of the Will: C.M.S. Grammar School, Lagos, St. Peters Faji, Lagos, Holy Cross School, Lagos, Ansar-Ud-Deen College, Isolo, Ahmmadiya College, Agege, and Federation of Boys and Girls Club.

However, from the date the estate was transferred to the Administrator-General and Public Trustee up until the time the ruling of his Lordship Ayorinde C.J. (as he then was) was pronounced, all monies accruing to the estate were being expended on the deceased’s two children.

The Office received a petition from Mrs. Iwa Adelaja (nee Randle) stating that Clause 12 of her late father’s Will dated 1st September, 1956 stated that: “My lands at Agindigbi should be held in trust for my children”.

She alleged that the said land at Agidingbi was acquired by the State Government for public purpose.

In view of the above, this Office wrote to the Surveyor General and Lands Bureau seeking clarification regarding the deceased’s land at Agidingbi which according to the petition, was acquired by the State Government for public purpose.

The Office of the Surveyor General informed the Office that the alleged land was part of the 7300 acres acquired by the State Government but the said land has been a subject of litigation.

The Office wrote to Lands Bureau seeking clarification as to whether compensation was paid in respect of the acquisition and to whom compensation was paid. This Office was subsequently informed that the alleged land was acquired by the State Government in 1969 and there are about thirty (30) other counter claimants who have also put up claims in respect of same land amounting to 239.04 acres.

Consequently, the Office wrote to Lands Bureau again seeking to know if the estate of the deceased is entitled to compensation going by the documents at their disposal.

The Office was informed by Land Bureau that the amount payable on the land excluding the area subject to counter claims is the sum of One Hundred and Seventy Five Million Naira (N175,000,000.00).

However, Lands Bureau informed this Office that the said amount was not available as it was not budgeted for in their provision for compensation in the year 2021.

This Office wrote to Mrs. Iwa Adelaja informing her of the above mentioned and that the Office, being part of the Government, only assisted her by writing to Lands Bureau in order to get a faster response as to whether or not compensation had been paid in respect of the alleged land acquired by the State Government.

Consequently, she was therefore advised to inform her counsel to follow up with the payment of the sum of One Hundred and Seventy Five Million Naira (N175,000,000.00) being the sum of the compensation in respect of the land excluding the area subject to counter claims, as her inheritance and that of her brother does not fall within the deceased’s estate being managed by this Office.

Consequent to the above mentioned ruling of Court, the Administrator-General and Public Trustee has been administering the deceased’s estate in trust for the beneficiaries named under Clause 10 of the Will, disbursing funds to the beneficiaries and carrying out such functions including but not limited to rendering accounts to them.

The Office is only administering the residue of the deceased’s estate that was transferred to it, which is a subject of trust as provided in Clause 10 of the Will. The said clause categorically states the beneficiaries entitled to the trust as stated above and the children of the deceased are not part of the rightful beneficiaries.

On the issue of payment of compensation, the Office wrote to Mrs Iwa Adelaja advising her to inform her counsel to follow up with the Lands Bureau on the payment of the sum of One Hundred and Seventy Five Million Naira (175,000,000.00) as they had informed this Office that the said amount was not available due the fact that it was not budgeted for in their provision for compensation in the year 2021.

Furthermore, Mrs. Iwa Adelaja and her brother’s share of the said property in Agidingbi does not form part of the Estate ordered by the Court for the Administrator General and Public Trustee to administer and manage.

This Office is restricted to Clause 10 of the Will. This has been explained several times to Mrs. Adelaja. The fact that this Office wrote to Lands Bureau was done on humanitarian grounds in order to assist her counsel in expediting the process.”

The sheer arrogance and mendacity of the letter are beyond belief.

“…the Administrator-General and Public Trustee was still able to adequately take care of the education and welfare of the two children of the deceased (Bashorun J.K. Randle and Mrs. Iwa Adelaja with the residue of the estate handed over.”

This is nonsensical because at the time when: “The sole executrix of the estate of Late Chief Joseph Koshoniola Randle, Mrs. Abigail Majekodunmi, filed an application in Suit No. M/104/64 and obtained an Order of Court dated 6th October 1969 to surrender the estate to the Administrator-General and Public Trustee, Lagos State.”

I had become a Chartered Accountant [member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. So where and when did my “education and welfare” creep into the equation?

On the contrary, successive Administrator-Generals and Public Trustees turned my father’s estate into their ATM machine for plunder and pillage.

It has become a herculean task to reconcile what the Administrator-General and Public Trustee received from rents with what was paid over to the respective beneficiaries (annually):

Even more challenging is to come to terms with the unwillingness of the beneficiaries to account for whatever they received. Its all a huge fog — a bottomless cesspit. Diabolical.

It is self-evident that the J.K. Randle family is being battered and tormented from all sides and the agent-provocateur is none other than the government (and the agents of terrorism). Regardless, we refuse to be provoked. We may be a family in grief but we are not blind or blinded by the obfuscation of history by the government. We can see through the web of intrigues and calumny. The ultimate goal is to impoverish us and eventually render us irrelevant.

Rather than glide into the ambush, we are backtracking – by relying on ancient wisdom, robust integrity, guts and tenacity of purpose. Our guiding principles remain humility and compassion which were bequeathed to us as enduring virtues by our ancestors. They provided us with both the crucible and anchor to serve as our navigator through stormy seas and perilous ravines. Our undying hope can never be crushed by anxiety or despair.

The dictum from our ancestors predated the warning from Martin Luther King Jnr: “You must live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish together as fools.”

We are left with no option but to ride the storm without compromising on our integrity or tarnishing our reputation for diplomacy, tactfulness and inherited tenacity of purpose.

My grandfather and my father had noble intentions. In the case of my father, it was a rainy afternoon when I had just finished art lesson under the tutelage of the legendary Chief Aiyegbusi at Onikan, Lagos. I was probably no more than ten years old at the time.

Anyway, we stopped at what was then a very posh restaurant – “The Kit Kat” owned by a Lebanese. It was located on Moloney Street but has since been pulled down and replaced by the YMCA with “Fernandes Tower” and Ghana High Commission as its immediate neighbours. Anyway, after we had finished our lunch, my Dad paid the bill for everyone in the restaurant and the bar much to the consternation of the lucky folks.

When we got into the car my Dad asked whether I wanted anything else. I asked for sandwiches to takeaway. They were delivered promptly. However, just before the driver took off, my Dad asked me to look across the road at the hordes of children (“Depe”) mostly of Togolese origin who instead of being in school were stuck in poverty and ignorance.

For their survival, they washed clothes (child labourers as washer men) and spread them out to dry in the baking sun. Whenever it rained they would quickly recover the clothes rather than incur the wrath of their customers. They earned a pittance.

Later on, my Dad would remind me of the contrast between those children and me already endowed with everything provided generously by him. He was prophetic: “In the not too distant future most of those who would rule Lagos and the rest of Nigeria would come from deprived backgrounds like those children (the “washer men”). When I die, I am going to make sure that those children get a proper education.”

He was as good as his word. I was far too young to grasp the profoundness of his commitment to levelling the playing between the poor and the rich; between white and black; between boys and girls; between Yorubas, Hausa/Fulani, Ibos, Ijaws (and other minorities) – and especially between Christians and Moslems. That is what prompted him to make huge donations to both Christian and Moslem schools.

Read also: Cry havoc and “Buga” dancing at the UN (grime, ruin & remnants) (3)

However, the noble gesture has been traduced and vandalised by the vultures in government especially the Administrator-General/Public Trustee. It is not my intention to malign or disparage those who are currently in positions of power and authority.

However, I am still struggling to come to terms with past brazen acts of plunder and pillage of my father’s estate. From the records of the Public Trustee, in 1969 when I was a Chartered Accountant (England and Wales) and aged 25 years, the Public Trustee claimed that he travelled to London to see me and provide for my “welfare and education.” I was in London alright but I never set my eyes on him !! He was there on a self-indulgent junket with his wife and children at the expense of my father’s estate.

On another occasion, it turned out that one of the previous Administrator-General and Public Trustees was cash strapped in developing land allocated to him in Ikoyi.

He had no qualms whatever in diverting funds from the Estate of Chief J.K. Randle to build a block of eight flats in a very prime location. What burst the bubble was a fierce battle after he died, between his wife and his mistress over the ownership of the property. All hell was let loose but the scoundrel remained firmly and defiantly in his grave.

Obviously, that was not what my father bargained for in the pursuit and realisation of his noble ideal (and enduring idealism). It is an abomination. He did not reckon with perfidy, plunder and pillage by those charged with the management of his estate. For them nothing is sacred.

I can clearly recall how my Dad strove valiantly to explain to me the rationale for giving away so much of his wealth to the underprivileged.

According to him, what made him what he was (a self-made man) was that when his father Dr. J.K. Randle died in 1928 at the age of seventy-three my Dad was a nineteen year old student of King’s College, Lagos.

Most of Dr. Randle’s estate was bequeathed to charity Fourah Bay College which later became the University of Sierra Leone and numerous scholarships for the study of medicine.

My father did not inherit anything from his father. After leaving King’s College, he got a job as a clerk in the Treasury but he spent most of his time playing football – centre forward for Zik’s (Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe) Club; cricket for Nigeria against the Gold Coast [Ghana]; athletics; boxing; wrestling (mostly at Isa Eko); in addition to being an undefeated champion in draughts.

He became a household name and was ever so popular. Even when he did not show up for work, his boss would cover up for him. He was spoilt rotten by his doting mother, Maria who made sure that he lacked for nothing.

Clearly, he was having a whirl of a time. It was under those circumstances that he met his waterloo (or Epiphany). He had turned up at a party in the centre of Lagos and the host served champagne to the doctors, engineers, lawyers etc who had assembled. To my father’s dismay even when he drew the attention of the host to what he thought was an oversight, he host was unrepentant:

“JK I will not serve you champagne. You are only living on the past glory of your illustrious father, Dr. J.K. Randle. What have you achieved for yourself?”

It was the ultimate humiliation. However, it was the catalyst that galvanized my Dad into action. He promptly resigned his job as a clerk and set forth to seek his fortune in business. In a sense, he became a pilgrim on a voyage into the unknown.

Tragically, those poor people that my grandfather and my father strenuously strove to elevate are now at breaking point.

They are mostly living like rats in the shanties and slums of Lagos. In desperation, many of them sleep under bridges and pay rent on a daily / nightly rent to demonic and extortionist “landlords” who remain unapologetic and insist that they are only taking a cue from the government!!

Alas, the J.K. Randle family has not been spared from the raw venom of government. We have a long list of “G B H” (Grievous Bodily Harm). Fortunately, we have learnt to roll with the punches while being fortified by the stark difference between enlightenment and brute force.

Late fifth American President James Madison [1751 – 1836] who drafted the American constitution delivered an enlightened verdict when he observed: “Government is instituted no less for protection of property, than of the persons of individuals.”

Where is all this antagonism from the government coming from ? What have we done to deserve it? The sins of the father cannot be inflicted on the sons without first establishing the guilt of the father. To the best of my knowledge we inherited a clean slate and a banner without stain from our illustrious ancestors.

Somehow government has lost its way and has conveniently got matters mixed up.

In a deliberate affront to our sensibilities, government has consistently and persistently found it convenient to mix up Country, State and Nation as if they are inter-changeable synonymys.

Perhaps it would help to clarify matters by reminding ourselves that “Country” is derived from Latin “Contra” and refers to territory or area. Geography. “State” is about the powers and authority we voluntarily surrender to government in exchange for protection, peace and stability.

It is indeed an abuse of power for the government to then turn round to terrorise us with oppression, injustice and intimidation. That is where the problem is. We are too timid and docile as a people. That is the weakness government is ever ready to exploit. Fear is its most lethal weapon.

As for “Nation”, that is essentially about shared core values in terms of truthfulness, integrity, sincerity, compassion, uprightness, selflessness and patriotism. By way of an example, the United States of America has built its core values around a formidable crucible: “The pursuit of happiness.

“We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.”

“A symbol stands for an idea. The Statue of Liberty stands in Upper New York Bay, a universal symbol of freedom. Originally conceived as an emblem of the friendship between the people of France and the US and a sign of their mutual desire for liberty, over the years the Statue has become much more.

It is the Mother of Exiles, greeting millions of immigrants and embodying hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life in America. It stirs the desire for freedom in people all over the world. It represents the United States itself.

How was the Statue of Liberty designed to be a symbol? How have circumstances enhanced its meaning? Help clarify the nature of symbols for your students as they study the Statue of Liberty, complete research on a national symbol, and use their research to communicate a message of their own.”

All men are born equal. The land of the free and the home of the brave.

American President Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) who declared: “I am for those means which give the greatest good to the greatest number.”

American ethos and dreams are anchored on the unrelenting pursuit of an ideal. Sublime happiness and untrammelled joy may emerge from totally unexpected quarters. Here is the evidence: Letter of Appreciation

“On behalf of myself and the Board of Directors of African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, I wish to thank you immensely for the great honour you accorded us when, upon our behest, you agreed to investigate the finance books of the African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, publishers of the Tribune titles.

Not only did you carry out that assignment with thoroughness and professionalism, you also demonstrated your deep love for the Awolowo family with your selfless disposition before, during and after your assigned task. Your report on the matter, I must add, has helped us in taking far-reaching decisions on the affairs of the company.

Again, I wish to thank you sincerely for the singular honour. It is my prayer that God will reward you bountifully and grant you more fruitful years ahead. Eyin na a dagba o. Amin.

Yours sincerely,

Mama H.I.D. Awolowo, CON

Yeye Oodua.”