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A standing ovation for Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu (Photos)

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Many years ago, juju maestro, Chief Sunday Adeniyi Adegeye,  popularly known as King Sunny Ade thrilled Nigerians with a particular track that is more relevant today than it was when aired – Bibiire Kose Fowora. The song was to honour Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, the Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos. The track, “Biibire Kose Fowora” loosely translates as “A noble birth is not something to be bought”.

There is no doubt that Erelu Kuti IV of Lagos, Her Royal Highness, Dr Abiola Dosunmu, a highly distinguished woman, has used the privilege of her birth to impact her community, the yoruba race and the world at large.

It is thus not surprising that the revered monarch, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja II recently crowned her Yeye Oodua of the source; Queen Mother of the House of Oduduwa. This is a testament to her contributions promoting commerce, art, science, sport, culture, education, research, charity, poverty alleviation and other societal causes too numerous to mention.

In an elaborate ceremony that took place on Friday, July 22, 2022, at the palace of the Ooni in Ile Ife, Osun State in the presence of dignitaries from all walks of life, Erelu Dosunmu was formally decorated with her new title. This was followed by traditional prayers and a cultural festival at the Erelu Abiola Foundation on Lagos Island. Subsequently a thanksgiving mass was held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Victoria Island, Lagos followed by the grand reception at Harbour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos.

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Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

Yeye Oodua, HRH, Erelu Dr. Abiola Dosunmu

The events were attended by top figures in Yorubaland including Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Otunba Gbenga Daniel former governor of Ogun State, HRM Oba Alayeluwa Saheed Ademola Elegushi amongst others.

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In his remarks, Ooni noted that Erelu is a woman who has done a lot to propagate the Yoruba culture and unify the tribe. It should be noted that by her title, Erelu Dosunmu, is the mother of kings (Oba of Lagos), both past and present. Born a princess, she went on to become the queen mother and queen regent of Lagos. Beyond being a mere title, her position is recognised by the government in the same first-class category of monarchs according to the laws of Lagos State.

According to the history books, the first Erelu Kuti started the dynasty the men are currently enjoying. She was a queen but gave her crown to her son, and the direct descendants have been reigning for 400 years. A goal-getter from an early age, Erelu Dosunmu is also an advocate for gender parity, women’s development, women empowerment, and leadership.

Considering her endowments, many would have expected her to be involved in partisan politics, but she stated that her title bars her from doing that. She said, “I am the Erelu Kuti of Lagos and the title is recognised by the chieftaincy laws of Lagos State. It bars me from active politics. At the time I took up the title, there weren’t many Nigerians, outside the traditional rulers, who were involved in traditional institutions.

“I saw it as an important platform to make a difference, especially because I had lived a greater part of my life abroad and I had come to appreciate my identity, in terms of my culture and tradition.

When I became the Erelu, I worked hand-in-hand with the king and we were visible, making interventions in government affairs. If the king could not be somewhere, I would represent him. It was a beautiful collaboration between the government and traditional institutions.”

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Speaking on the significance of the Erelu title, she said, “Being Erelu is not just about being beautiful, for the last 20 years of the late King of Lagos, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan II, I was one of his closest confidantes. It is a three-in-one title― Erelu Kuti, Erelu of Lagos, and Erelu Oba. The Erelu’s duties include advising the king on social matters, advising him on people deserving of titles, making sure things run well at the palace, and all those are in the gazette of the chieftaincy laws of the state.”

It should be recalled that Erelu Kuti was a member of the first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 3 to 14, 1992. She was also a part of the negotiations for foreign debt cancellation for Nigeria during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration and Chairman of the Lagos State Tree Planting and Beautification Committee. Other worthy  of note affiliations include the Institute of International affairs as well as representing Nigeria at environmental summits.

It is also to her credit that she revolutionised the traditional Aso Oke sector to become the multi-million dollar industry it is today. Many years ago, she established a shop on Bond Street, London, United Kingdom to promote aso oke. The renowned fashion designer, Adebayo Jones, worked with her as an intern then. So good was she in showcasing aso oke that even people from the Middle East were excited about the traditional fabrics.

A woman of many parts, she also has a title from the Royal Kingdom of Belgium. Speaking on how the title came about, she once said, “When Lagos State was the capital of the country, the diplomatic community was usually welcomed by the palace of the Oba of Lagos. It was my portfolio to receive ambassadors, entertain them, show them around, and provide whatever they needed in terms of enlightenment. Those activities got me involved with the diplomatic community.”

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Over the years, Erelu Dosunmu has interacted with presidents and high-ranking officials from different countries. For those who haven’t followed her life religiously, little is said about her humanitarian strides. One of the many high points of ERAF was the rehabilitation of street children and school dropouts. An avowed philanthropist, she has often spoken about her passion for helping the underprivileged. It was to further this objective that she established the Erelu Abiola Foundation, which has contributed positively to the lives of many members of society.

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When Erelu Dosunmu smiles, the world smiles along with her, not because everything is perfect but because in her, they see a woman who has over the years rebirthed herself into what she is today.

Oluwatosin Ojebisi contributed this piece from Lagos

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Opinion

Why is Odunmbaku Baba Eto’s name on every lip?

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Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku, the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) cleric and political engineer, is one of a kind who stands in a unique class of his own.

His types don’t happen too commonly. Infact, in our clime, he is a rarity, to have one person clothed in celestial and terrestial robes so fittingly.

Only few of his peers can honestly say they don’t envy his sartorial elegance whenever he appears in his ecumenical garments. And when he sheds that, to adorn the political regalia, he’s also a people’s delight.

Few of his type readily come to mind anywhere – in Africa or in any continent. I think of Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and, elegantly speaking, Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus who ruled from both the pulpit and the polity in his life time.

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Odunmbaku, better known as “Baba Eto”, is a mortal, but given the extraordinary gift of the garb and demonstrable style that is uniquely his own, he’s fast assuming the status of an indispensable human specie.

His type acquire larger than life status that is bound to attract positivity and negativity.
Those who are enamoured of him present to the world a cult-like image of him. To them, he can do no wrong. One such person, before the satanic instinct in man, reared its ugly head in him, was so fanatical of the man, Eto, he registered some of his personal vehicles “Aremo”, for which he used to tell those who cared to know, that he was “heir-apparent” to Eto. Today, that person is singing new tunes, as if his new listeners cannot decipher sychophancy and crass opportunism in his new drumbeats.

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Another was said to have appeared at a political interview panel where, when asked what credentials she had to seek a position, she matter-of-factly told the panelists “Eto”. And when repeatedly asked what qualifications did she have to think she was fit for the job, she retorted: ” Eto ! Eto !! Eto !!!

That secured the job for her !

Such a person is bound to attract envy, jealousy and disdain, dislike, or even hatred to himself. That is the fate of Baba Eto !

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There must be something extra going for the “priestly-politico” that the talent-discoverer, otherwise known as Bola Ahmed Tinubu, identified him to drive his gubernatorial campaign in Lagos State; and has ever since held on to him so fanatically that he has solely led the campaign of other guber candidates like Babatunde Raji Fashola, Akunwunmi Ambode and Babajide Sanwoolu to roaring successes.

If beneficiaries of Baba Eto’s gifts turn round to paint scurrilous pictures of the man, such people can only be consigned to the dustbin in which immortal Chief Obafemi Awolowo put those he described as ingrates of his large-ness of heart. As the late sage declared: ” There’s no escape for those who deny benefits”

Let the person without any blemish come out and cast the first stone. If we put aside belly-aching, jealousy and such-like vices, you cannot encounter Odunmbaku, Baba Eto, on the pulpit or the political rostrum and not doff your hats for this quintessential orator, mobiliser and professor of political mobilisation.

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If some see him negatively from the positive binoculars with which Tinubu and many more view Baba Eto, then such minority must be wearing blurry blinkers in their faces.

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Opinion

Subsidies, tax breaks detrimental to production, says IMF

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The International Monetary Fund has said that most industrial policies rely heavily on costly subsidies or tax breaks, which could be detrimental to productivity and welfare if not effectively targeted.

The multilateral lender stated this in a new report titled ‘Industrial Policy Is Not a Magic Cure for Slow Growth’.

According to the global lender, Industrial policy, in which governments support individual sectors, can drive innovation if done right.

It said striking the right balance was a crucial consideration, as history is full of cautionary tales of policy mistakes, high fiscal costs, and negative spillovers in other countries.

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The report also noted that many countries were ramping up industrial policy to boost innovation in specific sectors in the hope of reigniting productivity and long-term growth amid security concerns.

The report read in part, “Most industrial policy relies heavily on costly subsidies or tax breaks, which can be detrimental for productivity and welfare if not effectively targeted.

“This is frequently the case, for example, when subsidies are misdirected toward politically connected sectors. In addition, discriminating against foreign firms can prove self-defeating, as such policies can trigger costly retaliation and most countries—even major advanced economies—rely on innovation done elsewhere.”

According to the report, the recent turn to industrial policy to support innovation in specific sectors and technologies is not a magic bullet.

“However, well-designed fiscal policies that support innovation and technology diffusion more broadly, with an emphasis on fundamental research that forms the basis of applied innovation, can lead to higher growth across countries and accelerate the transition to a greener and more digital economy,” it noted.

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It advised governments deploying industrial policies to invest in technical capacity, recalibrate support as conditions change, and act in line with open and competitive markets.

It added, “In some cases, industrial policy can be justified, such as when it supports sectors that generate strong knowledge spillovers to the domestic economy (for example, in the semiconductor industry).

“Another important use case is driving green innovation—reaching net zero emissions will require technologies that do not yet exist. But subsidies to green innovation should be transparent, focused on environmental objectives, and complemented by robust carbon pricing to minimise fiscal costs.”

Since taking over the reins of power, the Bola Tinubu-led administration has embarked on widespread reforms premised on discontinuing subsidies that many analysts had blamed for Nigeria’s current economic woes

During his inauguration on May 29, 2023, President Bola Tinubu announced that the regime of fuel subsidy had come to an end for good.

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Two weeks later, the Central Bank of Nigeria floated the local currency to allow it to find its true value.

The two major policy reforms, despite being met with criticism by some quarters of society, have received applause from international observers.

In an earlier report released in January, the IMF had commended Nigeria and three other countries for recent subsidy reforms that would create space for development spending.

It said, “Building resilience in the face of these trends requires countries to act. Some countries have made progress— for instance, Angola, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Zambia have taken steps to implement significant energy subsidy reforms to create space for development spending.”

It, however, expressed worry that many countries were lagging, especially in efforts to increase revenues, such as broadening the tax base, reducing tax exemptions, and increasing the efficiency of tax administration.

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Opinion

Budget padding: Your integrity intact, Tinubu tells Senators

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President Bola Tinubu on Thursday told the leadership of the 10th Senate that the integrity of the National Assembly remains intact in the thick of allegations of budget padding over the last few weeks.

He said his administration will always encourage cooperation between the executive and judiciary for the advancement of the nation.

Tinubu said this when he hosted the leadership of the Senate to a dinner on Thursday to break the Ramadan fast at the State House, Abuja.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, disclosed this in a statement released in the early hours of Friday titled ‘President Tinubu: We will not allow anyone to undermine our security; killers of soldiers in Delta State will face certain justice.’

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Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauchi Central, PDP) had alleged that the Tinubu-led government is implementing a budget other than the one approved on January 1, 2024.

Ningi, who chaired the Northern Senators’ Forum and Senate Committee on Population, had contended in a BBC Hausa Service interview that a N25tn budget was debated and passed, not the N28.7tn that is currently being implemented.

He maintained that N3.7tn could not be accounted for in the 2024 budget.

However, at plenary on March 12, the Senate suspended Senator Ningi for three months over this claim.

Reacting to the allegations for the first time in public, Tinubu said, “I know the arithmetic of the budget and the numbers that I brought to the National Assembly, and I know what numbers came back.

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“I appreciate all of you for the expeditious handling of the budget. Thank you very much.

“Those who are talking about malicious embellishment in the budget; they did not understand the arithmetic and did not refer to the baseline of what I brought. But your integrity is intact.”

Tinubu thanked the lawmakers, adding that Nigerians are at the “turning corner” of the economic challenges.

“The natural challenge we are facing will be over. On the current economic difficulty, we are about turning the corner.

“Our revenue has improved. All we have to do is to control expenditures and manage ourselves better.

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“Light is at the end of the tunnel, and Nigerians will soon smile again,” the President affirmed.

Tinubu also thanked members of the National Assembly for the speedy attention given to the Student Loan Amendment Bill, urging more tolerance, forgiveness, and charity during Ramadan.

He said the perpetrators of the killing of soldiers in Delta State will face certain justice, warning that his administration will not tolerate attacks on the military and security infrastructure.

The President also affirmed that the military would continue to enjoy the support of his administration in neutralising security threats across the country.

“Our armed forces are working hard, and we will not allow attackers to undermine the integrity and value of our armed forces and its leadership.

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“We will continue to encourage and fight for our sovereignty, our individual rights to exist, and we will succeed in banishing poverty from our land,’’ the President stated.

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In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, thanked the President for hosting the lawmakers, noting that regular interactions would enhance understanding and productive governance.

“We bring you greetings from the 10th senate. We bring you assurances of continuous collaboration because we believe strongly that for us to have two brothers from the National Assembly as President and Vice-President, and even the Chief of Staff as our member, we have no option but to work with you, and to do everything possible for this administration to succeed,’’ said Akpabio.

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