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Bola Ahmed Tinubu: From Drug Lord To Presidential Candidate

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On October 11, 1990, federal agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) knocked on the front door of 460, Taft Place in the city of Gary, Indiana. Once a booming steel town with a population approaching 180,000 in 1960, Gary was one of number of cities and towns across the US suffering from severe population loss, among other adverse effects of overseas competition on their mainstay industries. From having over 30,000 employees at its peak in 1970, the city’s main employer U.S. Steel Gary Works retained just 6,000 employees in 1990.

In these circumstances, this city and its 77 percent African-American population were witnessing explosive growth in one of the few industries guaranteed to boom in response to such difficult circumstances. 42 year-old Lee Andrew Edwards was one of the entrepreneurs who had found a place in the heroin trade, and by all accounts he had done well for himself. With the proceeds from his illegal business, he had bought 2 residential homes including 460, Taft Place, an apartment building, a liquor store and a new car – all paid for with cash.

According to court records from the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, the DEA agents arrived at the property to execute a search warrant after a 7-month FBI investigation involving Edwards’s brother Jimmie, implicated him as the narcotics kingpin of Gary. Edwards did not open the door for the agents, who were forced to break into the house. He instead fired 3 gunshots at them, after which he surrendered.

DEA agents found weapons including a carbine rifle, thousands of dollars in cash, drug prepping equipment including a triple-beam scale, and several grams of cocaine and heroin powder in the house. He was later sentenced to life in prison, but not before something about his business operation came to the fore.

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Two Drug Dealers And An Accountant: A Partnership Begins

Federal investigators had determined that Edwards’s heroin supply came from a Nigerian drug dealer in Chicago called Abiodun Agbele. Abiodun had earlier agreed to work for the feds in exchange for lighter sentencing, and as part of the plea deal, he revealed everything he knew about the heroin trade in Chicago.

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Source: WhereIG.com

Located at the junction of 4 states with combined population exceeding 27 million at the time, Chicago was a key trafficking hub in the American heroin trade. And as it turned out, the wholesale trade of an especially potent form of heroin from Southeast Asia (SEA) in 1990s Chicago was controlled by Nigerian criminal gangs.

The following excerpt is taken from the January 2001 Illinois Drug Threat Assessment published by the US Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Centre:

“Nigerian criminal groups are responsible for wholesale distribution of most of the SEA heroin shipped into Chicago. SEA heroin, which is 80-90 percent pure, is being sold between Nigerian traffickers for $80,000-$110,000 per kilogram. Wholesalers in Chicago usually sell heroin without cutting it to minimize their handling of the product and their exposure to law enforcement.”

Source: US Justice Department National Drug Intelligence Centre | April 2001 Indiana Drug Threat Assessment

Agbele himself was no criminal mastermind however. As he testified under oath, that honour belonged to a man who went by the name of Adegboyega Mueez Akande, who was apparently his uncle. Shortly after Agbele’s arrival in the US, Akande had taken him under his wing and showed him the ropes of wholesale heroin trafficking. When Akande returned to Nigeria in mid-1990, Agbele was left in charge of selling regular heroin shipments from Nigeria to Lee Edwards and delivering the profits to his uncle.

In the meantime, the Nigerian-led heroin trade Chicago fed an addiction epidemic that became so bad that it changed local health and law enforcement practises. For the first time, providing addicts with free access to safe syringes and needles to ensure that they did not share them and possibly spread HIV became a core focus of public health policy. In other words, SEA heroin from Nigeria was so potent and addictive that public health policy in Chicago shifted away from trying to make heroin addicts stop using altogether, and merely ensuring that they used “safely.”

One notable organisation that did such outreach work with heroin addicts was the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA). I reached out to its current executive director John Werning to get a sense of how the heroin epidemic changed law enforcement practises from the 1990s to date in Chicago. His comments were predictably grim:

“Heroin of course, has consequences, right? But I think we would probably say that the the more major impact is the draconian laws around how heroin was policed. I think that it’s pretty well established that there was a very specific targeting of folks who use drugs generally, but also heroin in particular, and it was mostly targeted towards the policing of black and brown communities.

That’s not specific to Chicago. I think that’s across the nation. But just in general, I think [there was a] lack of compassion by government entities to give people access to the treatment that they need, or nonviolent drug possession and mandatory minimum sentencing. I mean, there’s a ton of different aspects of this that absolutely eviscerated populations, particularly marginalised populations in Chicago, and that’s probably the advocates view on this.

Now, whether or not that that can be translated into a comment about the international drug trade, and specifically from, you said, Nigeria, I just don’t know, but that’s definitely more like domestic politics than international.”

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While all of this was going on, an interesting sub-plot was taking place in the background. An accountant living in the Chicago area who worked for Mobil Oil Nigeria with a declared monthly income of $2,400 had just deposited over $1.4 million in the bank. He had no known source of income apart from his day job, but he had become friends with Akande and Agbele, discovering one key piece of information in the process – drug dealers need accountants too.

Soon he would find himself holding and wiring money on behalf of a Nigerian heroin gang in Chicago. Fast forward a bit to January 1992 and he would find himself the subject of a US federal investigation

Fast forward a bit further in the same year and he would successfully run for office in Nigeria as a senator for Lagos West. Then another politician said to have ties to international drug trafficking would successfully run for president in Nigeria on a controversial all-Muslim ticket in 1993.

The election would be annulled, the politician jailed, and ultimately another Nigerian military coup would take place in 1994. The accountant would find himself exiled and working with the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) to unseat a kleptocrat military dictator. Then the dictator would unexpectedly drop dead one day in 1998, followed in quick succession by the jailed politician with the alleged drug links.

The accountant would return a hero, and successfully run for governor of Lagos in 1999. The kleptocrat dictator’s bagman who helped launder over $4 billion would become the accountant’s new bestie, as an erstwhile Chicago drug gang’s “loader” would start his new lifetime mission of capturing Africa’s largest subnational economy and turning it into his personal “aza.”

Source: westafricaweekly

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Opinion

Utomi, Nigerians abroad form telemedicine initiative

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Renowned political economist, Prof Pat Utomi, alongside some Nigerian medical professionals in the United States and the United Kingdom, has unveiled a group to combat the challenges faced by Nigerians in the healthcare system.

This was disclosed at the group’s inaugural virtual meeting on Tuesday, where Utomi affirmed that Nigerian people have been successful globally in leading success for others around the world.

 

Also read : APC should apologize not campaign, says Utomi

 

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According to him, the group named Healthcare Cohort of the New Tribe will “map and guide a rebirth of healthcare in Nigeria… to help citizens take back and shape a country of promise now left in ruins by politicians.”

In the press statement titled ‘We Can Save Ourselves And Shape The Future For Our Children,’ Utomi said the initiative was borrowed from the ancient Greeks, who were called Tribesmen and saved people from societal maladies.

The statement read, “Our goal is to erect a moral tribe of citizens who speak and live personal integrity, hold high the dignity of the human person, celebrate the work ethic and entrepreneurial creativity, and hold on to merit with inclusion, as the essence of the social order in which we recognize that I am because we are.

“This new tribe in seeking to bring talk to action has created two sets of cohorts in a cluster of 14 and seven for sectors of intervention, and mode of organization, respectively, to operationalize the vision.”

The professor said, “Dear friends and Compatriots. I feel a great sense of this moment as a landmark and watershed historical one, even as simple a virtual meeting as it is that has brought you Nigerian healthcare professionals spread from as far away as Sydney in Australia;

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“Los Angeles, California, Atlanta, Georgia, Saudi Arabia, Kano, Abuja, Owerri, Florida and Lagos, Newcastle in the UK and South Africa as leaders, to map and guide a rebirth of healthcare in Nigeria, as a cohort of our New Tribe configured to help citizens take back and shape a country of promise now left in ruins by politicians.

“I want to warmly welcome Dr Olatidoye in Atlanta, Dr Olujie in Australia, Dr. Emeruwa in California, Zahtau Ibrahim in Kano, and Dr. Okocha in Saudi Arabia, as well as Dr. Bagudu in Abuja.

“In the weeks of hard work to raise the membership of this work council of the healthcare cohort, it became quite clear that Nigerians have become a global tribe that can aggregate the good of the world in which they have thrived no matter the constraints in their path into a new age;

“For all its people reduced sadly a country of pity as the poverty capital of the world by lack of leadership, a collapse of culture, and the embrace of emotion over reason, leaving society a victim of the absence of rational public conversation.”

The former presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party in the 2011 general election maintained that it was not an accident that the group came together to begin a novel act to go out there and confound doubters with what he described as a “moral compass that will produce outcomes the world will discuss for a long time.”

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“I feel so very proud of this day that it is a time when your collective talents become the platform for showcasing the triumph of the human spirit as initiatives flowing from your genius and compassion solve problems of both the affluent and the poorest of the poor as they work to up the quality of life within the challenges in our land.

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“Many years ago, I arrived at the Bisi Onabanjo University Medical School in Sagamu to speak at an event for students of the CVL club I had founded, led by Tolu Ademujimi. The speaker, then provost from LUTH, finished his remarks by saying the Nigerian health system was a ‘man-made disaster’.

“A key goal of this cohort is to undo that which man has done to health care in Nigeria.

“Who are we to so dare, and why do we passionately seek a new order?

“Some years ago, two Columbia University Economists, Arvind Subramanian and Xavier Sala-i-Martin, in an IMF working paper, more or less suggested Nigeria was better off without a government because the welfare effect of oil income if just shared to all Nigerians was higher than the outcome of governing Nigeria in the manner it is governed.

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“It, therefore, makes sense for citizens to try and take back their country by creating greater welfare-advancing possibilities in spite of government. How do we plan to go about this? Here, we turn to the wisdom of Ancient Greece.

“For the Greeks, at the base of civilization are people who think of themselves alone. This category they called idiots. Moving up is the next category, which cares for others but only others with parochial linkages such as blood, language, and religion. These they called tribesmen. For tribesmen, all not of the tribe are enemies to fight ferociously.

“Of a higher category of people in society are those who feel a shared humanity and solidarity with other people for their humanity no matter their geography. These they called citizens.

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“Our goal is to erect a moral tribe of citizens who speak and live personal integrity, hold high the dignity of the human person, celebrate the work ethic and entrepreneurial creativity, and hold on to merit with inclusion, as the essence of the social order in which we recognize that I am because we are.

“This new tribe, in seeking to bring talk to action, has created two sets of cohorts in a cluster of 14 and seven for sectors of intervention and mode of organization, respectively, to operationalize the vision.

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“Just as we are giving to ourselves today the brief for the healthcare cohort, others for education, values, public accountability, election reforms, etc will follow.

“Our pre-work indicates your cohort strategy will, in part, deploy an app we are just finalizing to allow physicians around the world to donate two or three hours a week of their time to see patients remotely located. Massive health education and primary health prevention of disease initiatives and support of healthcare, malls, and upend hospital clusters will be in your mix.

“The structure of the cohort we propose has its Congress made up of all the volunteers, healthcare professionals, tech support and administrative types. They will be the backbone of debates and rational conversation on the two portals to be presented to us today, as well as the boots on ground.”

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Opinion

Re-introducing old national anthem long overdue, says Ozhekome

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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome, has backed the return to the old national anthem Wednesday.

Theheute earlier reported that the National Anthem Bill was assented to today marking a shift from the now ‘Arise O Compatriots’ to former ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’.

He also called on President Bola Tinubu’s administration to consider a comprehensive rebranding of the nation by changing Nigeria’s name and national flag.

His appeal comes alongside praise for the government’s decision to revert to the old national anthem, which he described as a significant and positive development.

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This is as he noted that a return to the old anthem was among the things that he proposed at the National Conference in 2014.

He said, “I, as a humble and patriotic pan-Nigerian, I have always looked at these issues from the Nigerian perspective – how we can make our country better than it is now.

“Which was why Mr President, sir, as far back as, Wednesday, July 2, 2014 – 10 years ago – at the plenary session of the National Conference, I moved the motion for the change of our national anthem back to the one of 1960, on our independence

“That motion was hotly debated by the 492 delegates at the national confab drawn from every spectrum of the Nigerian society and it was carried.

“And indeed nostalgically, the whole plenary session stood up and sang the old national anthem.”

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Ozekhome, in a Wednesday viral video, said the change was long overdue.

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“So, bringing it back is well overdue. It has better lyrics in context and content – like the Senate President said. It is better than the other one,” he added.

The lawyer noted that he wrote a book which he submitted at the end of the Confab where he cited his arguments as the need for change.

He demanded that recognition and appreciation be given to the 492 delegates at the national conference and its heads.

“Indeed I wrote a book titled, ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee’ and it was 421 pages. It was launched at that National Conference just before it ended in 2014.

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“My arguments are on pages 268 to 271. So, it didn’t start together. I think that when we finally get to Canaanland, this body should give some recognition and appreciation to the National Conference of 2014 chaired by the late Justice Legbo Kutigi with Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi as the deputy.

“Let me also say that it was not the national anthem alone that I said should be brought back. The other two matters I argue should be brought back were – the flag and country name changes – the present green and white Nigerian flag is too bland.

“It’s not just in terms of lacking in colours. It is not inspirational – compare it to that of the US with its tribes and stars representing the fifty states.

“If you look at the flag of South Africa or the UK, you’ll see what I mean. The older flag has the rising sun in the centre which shoots to all the directions of Nigeria – North, South, East and West. Look at the Norfolk flag and the AU.

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“At that conference, I also moved that we change the name of Nigeria which appears to be a burden because of the circumstances it came into being January 8, 1878, when Flora Shaw gave her the name ‘Nigeria’ named after ‘Niger Area’.

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“Buy both my proposal for the flag change and the name Nigeria to Airegen (spelt backwards) but both were shut down and the one of the national anthem carried,” he added partly.

The readoption of the old anthem has sparked concerns among Nigerians.

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, earlier on Wednesday, vowed not to revert to the old anthem, Theheute reported.

The “Nigeria, We Hail Thee” anthem was used from 1960 when Nigeria gained independence, until it was replaced by “Arise, O Compatriots” in 1978.

Lilian Jean Williams wrote the lyrics for Nigeria’s previous national anthem, “Nigeria, We Hail Thee,” in 1959, while Frances Berda composed the music for the anthem during the same year.

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The anthem’s lyrics, written by Lilian Jean Williams in 1959, evoke a sense of national pride and unity.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to read the anthem.

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Opinion

Kitigbe o: Honouring six years of Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege’s reign as Olota of Otta-Awori Kingdom

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As the sun sets over the vibrant town of Otta, the air is filled with a sense of celebration and reverence. It marks the six-year anniversary of the coronation of His Majesty, Oba Professor Adeyemi Obalanlege, the esteemed Olota of Otta-Awori Kingdom.

Stepping into his reign, Oba Obalanlege brought with him not only the weight of tradition but also a distinguished background in academia and a fervent dedication to community service.

Born into the esteemed lineage of Prince Taiwo Hassan Obalanlege and Mrs. Mutiat Afolake Obalanlege (Nee Anjorin), Oba Adeyemi entered the world on August 28, 1966, in Mushin, Lagos State.

His educational journey began in AUD Primary School, Iganmode and led him to Ansar-ud-Deen College, Isolo, before culminating at Iganmode Grammar School in Otta. This foundation laid the groundwork for his illustrious academic career.

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With a Higher National Diploma in Mass Communication from Ogun State Polytechnic and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Journalism from independent Colleges, UK, Oba Adeyemi’s thirst for knowledge propelled him further. He pursued postgraduate studies in Food Safety and Quality Management at Greenwich University, London, and attained a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Leicester. His quest for scholarly excellence reached its pinnacle with a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

Oba Adeyemi’s academic prowess extended beyond the confines of the classroom, earning him recognition as a world-class scholar. His contributions to the field of Mass Communication, including publications in esteemed academic journals and presentations at conferences across Africa, Europe, and North America, solidified his reputation as a cerebral intellectual.

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However, his journey was not confined to academia alone.

Oba Adeyemi’s foray into journalism began humbly as a reporter for The Mail newspaper, where he honed his skills under the mentorship of Prof Idowu Sobowale. His career trajectory led him to prominent roles, including Public Relations Officer at the Lagos State Polytechnic and positions at Thisday Newspaper, where he earned acclaim for his coverage of tourism and hospitality.

Even as his academic and professional pursuits flourished, Oba Adeyemi remained deeply rooted in community service.

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His commitment to uplifting others led to his election as the Chairman of the Awori Obas Forum, Ogun State, and his involvement in Rotary Clubs, where he earned recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow.

In 2018, Oba Professor Adeyemi Abdulkabir Obalanlege was crowned the Olota of Otta, emerging as the preferred candidate after rigorous selection by the Ijemo Isoloshi Ruling House. Since then, he has led with wisdom and compassion, fostering unity and progress within the Awori Kingdom.

As the Royal Symbol of Awori Nation celebrates six years on the throne alongside his beloved wife, Olori Oloruntoyin Obalanlege, and their two accomplished sons, Mustapha and Tobi, the good people of Otta-Awori are satisfied about his legacy of scholarship, leadership, and service.

This is a testament to his unwavering commitment to the betterment of the kingdom and the preservation of Yoruba heritage.

May the reign of Lanlege Ekun II, Arole Iganmode Olofin continue to bring peace and tranquility to the entire Otta-Awori kingdom.

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Kitigbe o! Omo Iganmode a f’ele ja, a f’ikoti y’oju egba, a fi ponpondo y’oju Ketu.

Happy 6th coronation anniversary, baba mi!

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