Ikeja Club must remain beacon of hope for Nigeria and beyond (2)
I am obliged to disclose that on 13th of January 1966, I was a twenty-two year old student in London. Two days later, Nigeria’s first coup d’etat took place. The announcement came in the early morning of Saturday 15th January. We shall come back to that later.
In the meantime let us pause to take stock of demography, statistics and data.
In 1966 when Ikeja Club was founded, these were the respective ages of: Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi- died at the age of 42 years old General Yakubu Gowon – was 31 years old when he was Head of State General BabafemiOgundipe – died at the age of 47 years old Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Brigadier-General Murtala Mohammed – was 33 years old when he was Head of state, General OlusegunObasanjo – was 39 years old when he was Head of State, General TheophilusYakubuDanjuma, General EmekaOdumegwuOjukwu, General MuhammaduBuhari – was 41 years old when he was first Head of State and now the President of Nigeria Prof. YemiOsinbajo
It is very tempting to fact check the age back in 1966 of the following current office holder:
The President of the Senate,
The Speaker of the House of Representatives,
Chief Justice of Nigeria,
Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria,
National Security Adviser,
Chief of Defence Staff,
Chief of Army Staff,
Chief of Naval Staff,
Chief of Air Force Staff,
Inspector-General of Police,
It is a healthy demographic factor/fact that most of them are younger than IkejaClub !!
The picture becomes even more fascinating when we extend the search to the Governors of the thirty-six States of Nigeria and the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
We should not make the mistake of excluding the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria along with the Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of the Commercial banks; Bank of Industry; Bank for Agriculture, AMCON (Asset Management Company of Nigeria); Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation as well as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Maritime Safety Authority (NIMASA).
It is the same pattern with the Chief Executives of Companies quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and/or FMDQ as well as the captains of Industry and Commerce – AlikoDangote; AbdulsamadRabiu; Mike Adenuga; FolorunshoAlakija; Tony Elumelu; Jim Ovia; TundeFolawiyo. The telecoms bosses – eager to be included are the Managing Directors/Chief Executives of MTN; Airtel; Globacom; 9 Mobile. As for the Oil and Gas companies, we should start with Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and scroll down the list. I make no reference to Obi Cubana !! His spectacularly lavish burial of his 75-year-old mother in Oba, Anambra State has become a global sensation (or embarrassment).
You may even opt to include Permanent Secretaries and heads of major government departments and agencies. It is precisely because you are entitled to argue that age is not relevant that whatever prompted Ikeja Club to consider it worthwhile to celebrate its 55th Anniversary must be thoroughly interrogated. In essence, Ikeja Club must present a sound and robust case to justify our attention at a time when the centre of gravity has moved in favour of those who are mostly younger in age than Ikeja Club but are now firmly in control of the commanding heights of our political infrastructure as well as the architecture of our economy/social fabric and ultimately our collective destiny. In more serious countries, such a profound shift in power would be subjected to diligent research and thorough evaluation as a fundamental tool for grooming leadership and enthroning merit in the pursuit of excellence.
The crux of the matter is that when Ikeja Club was founded, Ikeja was the vortex of” Life More Abundant” which was the rallying cry of the Action Group (political party) under the visionary leadership of Chief ObafemiAwolowo who launched the industrial revolution with Ikeja as its epicentre. Jobs were created in abundance and the quality of life was evidently on a trajectory to compete effectively with Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea etc. That is the story Ikeja must deliver with eloquence, clarity and integrity. It is also entitled to demand to know: “Where are we now and how did we manage to lose the plot?” We have certainly lost it big time.
Ikeja was meant to be the industrial capital and launch pad for Nigeria.
In our index, we should also include the media moguls and the icons of the creative industry – films, music, theatre etc.
As for the Chartered Accountants, Engineers, Lawyers, Architects, Surveyors and other professionals, permit me to plead for leniency on their behalf. Honestly, never in our wildest imagination did we envisage that our beloved country could become the wilful victim of “The Road Not Taken” – banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency, drug trafficking etc have become the order of the day.
Yet, back in 1966 the Nigerian currency was convertible and was more or less at par with the British pound (sterling) and fifty per cent higher than the dollar.
Ikeja Club must explain it all to us or forever hold its peace. The only other alternative is to chart the way forward and provide us with the platform for HOPE.
We all have a collective stake in what has gone beyond a search and rescue mission. It has become a desperate plea for redemption. If we fail, what are we going to tell our children and grandchildren? Also, lurking in the afterlife are our ancestors who were fearless in their lifetime and incorruptible in the other place.
We must exercise patience rather than haste in recalling the tumultuous events of the early hours of Saturday 15th of January 1966. Before the day was over the corpse of the Prime Minister, AlhajiAbubakarTafawaBalewa provided the scoop that catapulted SegunOsoba (then an intrepid 26-year-old reporter at “The Daily Times of Nigeria” newspaper) into the path to rapid promotion. The victim had been kidnapped in his official residence at Onikan, Lagos (directly opposite Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall) by the mutineers and driven in an army vehicle to Ikeja for elimination. By nightfall, the tally included the Premier of the Northern Region, Alhaji (Sir) Ahmadu Bello; and the Premier of the Western Region Chief Samuel LadokeAkintola as well as the Minister of Finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. The coup plotters claimed that their targets were corrupt politicians but their dragnet consumed the top hierarchy of the military – mostly northern officers such as Sandhurst trained Brigadier……………….Mai Malari; ……………………….
Six months later on 29thJuly 1966, the northerners led by Colonel Murtala Mohammed struck.
In Ibadan, the Head of State General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host Brigadier AdekunleFajuyi were eliminated under gruesome circumstances. According to Colonel TheophilusYakubuDanjuma, Ironsi was.