By Wole Olaoye
The University of Ife of the 70’s was a melting pot of cultures, tendencies, fads, ideologies and proclivities. Despite the fact that Nigeria had only come out of the civil war in 1970, the general mood in various university campuses, especially in the University of Ife, was one of unity in diversity.
In the Ife that I met, it was the relationship of ideas that established kinship, not blood. And I dare say, with hindsight, that the country was much more united in those early post civil war years than today. So, when you heard shouts of “Okoro!” or “Ngbati!”, those labels were not tribal dog whistles but ‘joking relationships’ which allowed persons from one part of the country latitude to poke harmless fun at a person from another part. You could be an “Okoro” and be more favoured than an “Ngbati”, depending on the dynamics of relationships.
That was the milieu in which I contested for the position of Student Union Public Relations Officer. My opponent was Jika Attoh. We were friends. Close friends. We shared many mutual friends. We frequented the same joints, especially Iya Gbenga’s place, Yeye Kelvin’s Bar, Better Market Sells Itself, Sariyu’s restaurant and Iyawo’s place. The only place where I can’t remember seeing Jika was at Iya Ijesha’s shack where we fetched “Ribena” (the favourite brew of the Niger-Delta). But Jika’s friend, Emma, was game in any Ribena contest.
Although I was older, he had entered the university before me and built up a network of friends. But I leveraged on the fact that I was his ‘senior’ in journalism. Our mutual friends held a meeting and suggested that one of us step down for the other because we were giving them unnecessary stress. We refused. The Electoral Commission Chairman, Tola Badejo, was our mutual friend. He left us to our own devices as the elections came close. After the Manifesto Night, the verdict on campus was that the PRO contest was a draw. The cheek of it — Jika and I could be seen sharing beer at the SUB after the Speech Night. Many students wondered, what kind of contest is this in which the contestants are sharing beers? We were both upbeat on election day. It was all computerised, so there was no room for wuruwuru or magomago. Jika beat me by a lone vote!
The contest did not affect our relationship. It was not unusual for Jika to stop by and stop over at my room to— as he would playfully say, pay his respects. My room mates loved him; indeed, one of them confessed that he actually voted for Jika. I screamed, “There goes the deciding vote!”
Jika was one of the first enrolees in the WOLE FOR PRESIDENT campaign. He was the PRO of the Students Union but he was not shamed to identify openly with the popular clamour that I contest the next presidential election. The amorphous campaign team was not formed by anybody. It just happened. Ask those who should know about such things: Kunle Mabayoje, Rahman Mimiko, Emma Ekuwem, Leke Mamora, Mike Ozekhome, Yinka Ogunsakin, Joseph Effiong, Gbemi Onakoya, Yomi Gbolagunte, et al.
When I became president via a landslide victory, Jika always stayed near enough. With every achievement we recorded, he would say, bravo: The many demonstrations in Lagos; the Irikefe Tribunal on the missing $2.8 billion oil money; the first Students Self-Help Hostel built by any students union in Nigeria; the creation of Iva Valley; the intervention in medical students’ exam dilemma; the revival of Opa Dam; the introduction of students’ transportation service from the university gate to SUB; the introduction of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti into the lecture and Students Union Week circuit (students paid only two Naira to watch Fela live, from 11pm to 6am); etc. In his characteristic coy way, Jika would say, “Proud of you, my brother!”
After Ife, I went back to DRUM. As an Editor, I had so much free time on my hands and the University of Lagos was less than three kilometres away from our office at Onike. So, I enrolled for the MSc degree in Mass Comm. And who did I run into as I was signing in? Jika Attoh! We reinvented our Ife days in Akoka and even managed to instigate a litigation against the university authorities for trying to shut down the postgraduate hall during the long holidays against the rule which stated that PG courses were designed for a specified number of months, not semesters. I sought help from the ever reliable Chief Gani Fawehinmi and he argued our case brilliantly. We won.
After Unilag, Jika went back to his broadcasting beat. I visited his several times in AIT and he came over to my place a few times too. When he left AIT, he did not sustain the contact we had until I managed to dredge him our through a mutual friend. He called one day and feigned anger that I didn’t tell him that I had come to his native Onitsha to snatch his sister. “Jika, is that how you address an in-law?”, I asked. “Ah, Baba Wole, you caught me on this one!”, he replied.
After that period, a lot of water passed under the bridge on personal and professional fronts for both of us and I refuse to judge people if they react to their circumstances with cageyness. At a stage, I had to reach out to our mutual friend, BN, to ask where our brother was. Jika was such a good human being in the ordinary run of play that you would want him around you for all time.
I didn’t see his demise coming at all. I spoke to him two months ago when Tony Eluemunor and Austin Izagbo were visiting. Tony called Jika and we spoke as if bridging the years of silence. He said he wasn’t fit to participate in the next Olympics, which was his way of hinting at an illness. I told him to shake it off and not dodge his responsibilities. He laughed— that conspiratorial kind of laughter with a wink. I could almost see him over the phone. We shared a coded lingo together, mostly based on Richie Pryor’s irreverent pieces which we both memorised and deployed whenever necessary.
Despite being an extrovert of sorts and a ‘people’s man’, Jika was coy, discreet and paradoxically reticent, but he was such a darling because he laced it all with that great sense of humour with which he disarmed all who knew him. Anyone who truly knew Jika would be gutted at his demise. None of us knew him better that his wife who wrote the following testament on his birthday several years ago: “𝘘𝘶𝘪𝘦𝘵, 𝘶𝘯𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 , 𝘢𝘭𝘸𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥, 𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘺, 𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴! 𝘚𝘰, 𝘸𝘦 𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺, 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘐𝘤𝘰𝘯 , 𝘢𝘯 𝘌𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘮𝘢, 𝘪𝘧 𝘪 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘸 𝘢 𝘧𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘥’𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘴, ‘𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘮𝘦𝘯, 𝘰𝘨𝘢 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘨𝘢, 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴’… 𝘈 𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘣𝘴𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘨𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘴, 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘎𝘰𝘥 𝘢 𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘮𝘺 𝘍𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘥, 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘯𝘵, 𝘩𝘶𝘴𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳.”
Fare thee well, Jix! Friends don’t say goodbye.
My condolences to the Attoh family, especially to his wife, Violet Chizoba Agbakoba-Attoh, and their children. May the soul of Jika and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent