On Tuesday 28th July 2020, it will be time for the annual Thanksgiving and Memorial Service for late Chief Joseph Koshoniola Randle, MBE; MVO, who was born in Lagos on 28th July 1909. If he was alive we would have been celebrating his 111th (one hundred and eleventh) birthday. 111 is a magical number but he died on 17th December 1956 at the age of 47 years. He lived half-way through a century that witnessed the following epochal events: ▪ 1914, World War I began and ended in 1918 with 22 million dead.
▪ Soon after a global pandemic, the Spanish Flu, appeared, killing an average of 50 million people. ▪ 1929, the global economic crisis that started with the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange, causing inflation, unemployment and famine began and lasted for four years. Suicide rates rose drastically during this period. ▪ 1933 the Nazis came to power in Germany. ▪ 1939, World War II began and ended in 1945 with an average of 60 million dead. In the Holocaust roughly 6 million Jews died. ▪ 1950, the Korean War began and ended in 1953. ▪ 1955, the Vietnam War began and ended in 1975. It reportedly claimed over 4 million lives. ▪ 1967, the Nigerian civil war began with as many as 3 million casualties. It saw horrific ethnic cleansing of the Ibos and lasted for three years ending in 1970. ▪ 1979, Soviet-Afghan War began and till its conclusion in 1992 claimed an estimated 1.5 million lives. ▪ 1984-1985, Ethiopian peasants perished in the terrible African drought and thousands died while being forcibly resettled in less arid areas far from their homes. ▪ For those who are interested in knowing about the history of Lagos, here are a few highlights:
a. 1886 – Telephone cables connect Lagos to London b. 1888 – Lagos Chamber of Commerce established c. 1889 – Court House built d. 1894 – Lagos Echo and Lagos Standard newspapers begin publication – Bank of British West Africa established. e. 1898 – Electric Street lighting commences operation. The choice of the theme of this year’s Thanksgiving is “MY VANISHING COUNTRY” – to borrow a leaf from Bakri N. Sellers because all those values that prevailed in our nation’s life when Chief J.K. Randle was alive have virtually vanished. They have been buried and forgotten. As the march towards Independence commenced, everyone knew the boundary – between the sanctity of the public treasury and private property. If indeed there was corruption, it was fiercely condemned without any recourse to self-serving ethnic jingoism or religious bigotry. In essence, law and order was taken for granted and by extension, the safety of lives and property were the staple diet for all and sundry. Politics was strictly (or by and large) for those who genuinely wanted to serve and pay their dues to society.
It was not that they all amassed huge fortunes with which to bedazzle the gullible public that was already overwhelmed and emasculated by oppression. Most of that generation were truly committed to Nigeria and there was no limit to their generosity of spirit, vibrant patriotism and all-encompassing goodwill as they strove valiantly to give back to society, as a sacrifice for the benefit of future generations. What was uppermost in their minds was what they could bestow as an enduring legacy towards the development of our nation – education, health, infrastructure (particularly roads, railways, electric power etc.) to galvanize Nigeria into a country that future generations would be proud of. Selflessness (and selfless service) prevailed over private greed. Alas, not anymore !! The prevailing culture ensured that government plans were spelt out in the Budget and copies thereof were readily available at the Government Printing office, on Broad Street, Lagos and the regional capitals – Ibadan; Kaduna; Enugu etc. Coincidentally, the Telephone Directory listed the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all officials of the government, as well as the politicians along with the captains of industry and commerce in every major city. Now, our nation has vanished. What is left of our country is under siege in a vicious contest by Boko Haram against the others – armed robbers, bandits, treasury looters, kidnappers, “419 advance Fee” fraudsters, money-launderers, ritual murderers and fake pastors/mallams (clerics). We now live in an age of suppressed rage and fury and mutual distrust. Compassion is dead. Integrity and uprightness were buried long ago. Our ancestors savoured the beneficence of the Almighty and his grace which enabled them to look out for the best in every soul regardless of race, religion or gender.
Hence, no one batted an eye-lid when Chief Ernest Ikoli an Ijaw (from Niger-Delta) won election in Lagos in the heartland of the Yorubas – against a Yoruba opponent! Mind you, Chief Ikoli was a great journalist (the first African editor of “The Daily Times”) in addition to being an old Boy if King’s College, Lagos. He contested against Oba Samuel Akisanya (a.k.a General Saki). After Abayomi resigned both Ikoli and Samuel Akisanya ran for the NYM nomination to be the party’s candidate. Akinsanya had also sought the party’s candidature for the 1940 by-election, but had lost to Jibril Martin. Akinola Maja joined the contest as a third candidate at a late stage. An internal party primary was held in which Akinsanya received 108 votes, Ikoli 60 and Akinola Maja 37. However, the NYM central committee, which had the power to review the result, chose Ikoli as the party’s candidate. Although Akinsanya initially congratulated Ikoli, he later changed his mind and decided to run as an independent with the support of Nnamdi Azikiwe. Results Candidate Party Votes % Ernest Ikoli Nigerian Youth Movement 523 56.00 Samuel Akisanya Independent 411 44.00 Invalid/blank votes – Total 934 100 Registered voters.
There was also a Fulani from the North, Mallam Umaru Altine who was elected as the Mayor of Enugu in the heartland of the Igbo. The North reciprocated by electing Yorubas and Ibos as their representatives in various capacities. Even in the Mid-Western Region, Chief J.S. Mariere, an Urhobo who was elected to represent Agbor, the heartland of the Anioma. Time and space will not allow us to list all those who were the beneficiaries of the mutual trust and respect which cut across their tribal origin or religion. It is sufficient to add that in the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo the Premier, a devout Christian, set up a Pilgrims’ Board to cater for Muslims who wanted to go on pilgrimage to Mecca.
Similarly, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of the North (a devout Muslim) not only had Christian ministers, his personal physician Dr. Ishaya Audu was a Christian. His personal assistants such as Chief Sunday Awoniyi, Chief Silas Daniyan and several others were Christians. Their devotion to duty and loyalty to their boss were never questioned. They were visionaries and they articulated their mission statements with vigour. (i) “The rich, and the highly-placed in business, public life, and government, are running a dreadful risk in their callous neglect of the poor and downtrodden.” – Chief Obafemi Awolowo Premier of the Western Region ii) “It is our determination that everyone should have absolute liberty to practice his belief according to the dictates of his conscience. The cardinal principle upon which our University is founded is to impart knowledge and learning to men and women of all races without any distinction on the grounds of race, religious, or political beliefs” – Sir Ahmadu Bello Sarduana of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region Suddenly, we lost the plot. The struggle to dominate others and grab the largest slice of the pie (if not all) has become all-consuming to the detriment of nation building. Even the “Federal Character” principle which was meant to create fairness and equity has become an instrument for torment, torture, frustration and oppression. It had even become subversive if we are to rely on the verdict delivered by the late Dr. Pius Okigbo the Chief Economic Adviser to the Eastern Nigeria Government (1958–1962)
“It means that even the village idiot can be appointed to head critical positions/agencies in the Executive branch or the political arena to the detriment of merit or incompetence.” Yet it was not so long ago that we devoted brain, zeal and brawn to nation building. Along with the National Youth Service Corps whereby graduates would serve for a year in various parts of the nation other than their own state of origin, schools were to be encouraged (at both primary and secondary levels) to ensure that students learnt a language other than their own. The goal was to ensure that a Yoruba would speak either Ibo and/or Hausa while Ibo, Hausa, Ijaw etc. would also master any of the other languages. Hopefully, over time we would be able to communicate with each other and thereby engender mutual cooperation and understanding. Additionally, we were set to create wealth all over our nation by galvanizing production instead of consumption and taking cognizance of those aspects, skills and resources where each state has a comparative advantage. Now, the nation is on edge and all we are sharing are poverty, misery and debts. As for accountability, we threw it out of the window when the military embarked on the massive purge (which backfired) of the public service – in 1975 with the sacking of officers by radio announcement “with immediate effect”. Forty-five years after, many of those who believe they were denied fair hearing have not recovered. Now, you can even be sacked by Zoom !! There is a cartoon circulating on social media showing a little boy whose father had asked what he wants to do when he grows up. The boy without any hesitation replied: “I want to be a criminal”. The dad demanded – “in government or private sector?”. The boy coolly replied: “Government, of course.”
This prompted the father to enquire: “Why?” The dead pan response delivered by the little boy was: “Because they never go to jail.” These are the structural misalignments which have created huge distortions and impediments to our progress as a nation. How can we justify a situation in which our nation’s cash-cow (the Niger-Delta) has become the victim of massive oil pollution on a scale that is unequalled anywhere else in the world? Recently, CNN showed dwellers close to the oil fields defecating into the same river from which they drink !! Also, there is a video going around on social media showing students in a school in Lagos while it was raining. Rain was pouring on the students from a gaping hole in the roof while those seated at their desk had water gushing from the ground right up to their knees !! Yet in this same country, the Management Team of Niger-Delta Development Commission ‘allegedly’ blew a whopping N81.5 billion within a period of five months with nothing to show for it.
It is now self-evident that we owe an apology to late Chief Arthur Prest who was a great friend of my father. When the agitation for independence was in full sway in the 1950s, Chief Priest’s mother asked him an innocent question. “All this talk about Independence and sending the white people away, instead of replacing them with black people, why don’t you try the half-caste first?” Perhaps I should add the friendly fire between Chief Arthur Prest and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in the 1950’s. The great Chief H.O. Davies Q.C. had in his weekly column in the “Daily Service” newspaper “Political Reminiscences” taken “My Friend Zik” (Azikiwe) to task over his credentials and commitment to racial equality. This was at a time when what is now General Hospital, Marina/Broad Street, Lagos was known as “African Hospital” while the nearby Creek Hospital (now known as Military Hospital) on Awolowo Road, Lagos was “European Hospital” and was exclusively for expatriates – even to the exclusion of Lebanese and Greeks. Anyway Chief Prest who was half Ijaw and halfScottish took sides with Chief Davies. In his own newspaper, “The Pilot”, Dr. Azikiwe replied to the allegations against him by Chief Davies “seriatum”.
He then veered off to launch a below-the belt attack on Chief Arthur Prest. “As for Chief Prest, since he is neither black nor white, he is not in a position to adjudicate on the matter.” It says a great deal for the character of Chief Arthur Prest that he did not take offence at all. Another leading politician from the North, Alhaji Dan Baba was asked a very direct question by his father: “This agitation for Independence is not a bad idea but for how long do you want the Independence?” However, it was late Chief Michael A. Agbamuche, SAN former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation who used to regale his friends with his anecdote regarding the exasperation of his aged mother who on the eve of Nigeria’s Independence (1st October 1960) offered him her counsel in a last-minute effort to avert what she believed to be an imminent disaster. “My son, instead of sending the Europeans away why do you not give Nwobiko (an albino) a try? At least, he is more white than black.”
What a monumental tragedy and a ghastly contrast to the foundation laid by our own parents and grandparents who truly believed that the “Nigeria Project” would deliver endless possibilities – “Life More Abundant” (to quote Chief Obafemi Awolowo). As for Zik, an Ibo and a Christian, some of his most ardent and unrepentant followers were Yoruba Muslims such as Alhaji Adelabu Adegoke and Chief Kehinde Sofola, SAN. A by-election was held for the Lagos seat in the Legislative Council of Nigeria in December 1945 to replace Jibril Martin of the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM). It was won by Abubakar Olorun-Nimbe of the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). They were determined to flatten the curve between • fear/ignorance/poverty and • security/education/prosperity. Our ancestors gave each other the benefit of the doubt. Also, they spoke in parables because they did not want to be misunderstood. In recognition of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 regulations, those who would attend the Church service in Chelsea, London would be limited to only twenty. As for the reception that would follow, the same restriction would apply. However, arrangements have been made to provide hospitality at other venues for those who would exceed the maximum allowed. For old students of St. Gregory’s College, a sumptuous dinner and plenty of champagne have been laid on in the magnificent Ballroom of Buckingham Palace, entrance through the East Gate. In case you encounter any difficulties please contact my god-son Lt. Colonel Folarin Kuku (rtd). Only the first twenty Gregorians to arrive will be admitted – but they must pledge to vote for me at the next election for President of St. Gregory’s College Old Boys Association. Her Majesty the Queen has graciously consented to present a copy of “August Is a Wicked Month” and “Girl by Edna O’Brien to each guest.
Edna O’Brien “I was a girl once, but not anymore.” So begins Girl, Edna O’Brien’s harrowing portrayal of the young women abducted by Boko Haram. Set in the deep countryside of northeast Nigeria, this is a brutal story of incarceration, horror, and hunger; a hair-raising escape into the manifold terrors of the forest; and a descent into the labyrinthine bureaucracy and hostility awaiting a victim who returns home with a child blighted by enemy blood. On 14 April, 2014, 276 young girls were abducted from their school by the extremist terrorist organisation Boko Haram. The news horrified the world and yet the international community did little to help these girls. The author of Girl travelled to Nigeria where she met some of the survivors, those who managed against all odds to escape. This novel is based on their accumulative experiences, combining them into the fictional character Maryam. Through her eyes we witness the horrific things that were done to these young girls. It is not an easy book to read, though it is short and quick. Knowing the experiences written about are real makes it a harrowing and heart-breaking book to read. And yet, it is ever so compelling, and beautifully written. It is a reminder of what was done to these girls….. and that there are still 112 girls still missing (as of the time of this review). Whilst I enjoyed (in so much as one can, reading about such atrocities) this book, I feel a little uncomfortable about a white Irish woman having written it and to be the one to give voice to their ordeal. However, I assume Ms. O’Brien obtained the young women’s permission before writing this book. Also, I hope the author intends to give at least part of the proceeds of this book to the survivors, as they struggle to build new lives for themselves and overcome the atrocities they endured. I cannot imagine going through the things they did and some still are, and no one should profit in any way from their pain.
Having said these things, I think it is incredibly important to know what happened to these young girls, for their stories to be told. We cannot forget them. We cannot forget their suffering or the fact that so many of the girls remain missing.” The Narrator of “Girl” is kidnapped by Jihadi fighters (Boko Haram) in Northern Nigeria. She returns bearing a Boko Haram child. It was my late uncle, Chief Romannes Adewale Randle (not my dad) who grew up in Buckingham Palace as his mother Victoria was the god-daughter of Queen Victoria. Victoria was the daughter of Sarah Bonetta Forbes who was adopted by Queen Victoria. Also, as has been the custom in previous years, special prayers would be offered for the 112 missing Chibok girls who have been in the captivity of the dreaded Boko Haram since 2014. For the rest of the year, our agenda is to refresh our family’s philanthropy and commitment to: • Ahmadiya College, Agege • Ansar-Ud-Deen College, Isolo • Holy Cross Grammar School, Lagos • C.M.S Grammar School, Bariga, Lagos • Randle General Hospital, Surulere, Lagos • Randle Junior School, Apapa, Lagos • Randle Senior School, Apapa, Lagos • King’s College, Lagos • Lagos State University, Ojo • St. Gregory’s College, Obalende. as well as the recovery of Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall; Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool; the Dr. J.K. Randle Love Garden (MUSON Centre) in Onikan, Lagos; Nigeria Ports Authority Sports Club, Surulere; and vast land at Agidingbi/Alausa, Ikeja.
We are grateful that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, has decided that henceforth, The United Nations should be recognised as a MORAL FORCE in the resolution of not only international/national grievances but also individual disputes (at the personal level). Therefore at the next meeting of general assembly of the United Nations the following matters will be table for discussions: (i) JK Randle versus KPMG – No gratuity or pension after 34 years of meritorious service. (ii) JK Randle versus Ooni of Ife – Trespass of Land at Plot 7, Block 2, Ikoyi Foreshore, Ikoyi. (iii) JK Randle versus Zenith Bank Plc (appointment as Receiver Manager of CAMAC/Allied Energy – Moral Transgression. Also listed for full discussion is the case of the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi— a Saudi dissident, journalist for The Washington Post, former general manager and editor-in-chief of the Al-Arab News Channel—occurred on 2 October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and was perpetrated by agents of the Saudi government. Chief J.K. Randle was a titan in business and a legend in both sports and philanthropy. “J.K.” had a great sense of humour. Here is a sample: (“The Duke And The Soul Princess”) – by J.K. Randle “I am sure that doctors like most professionals have to live with the discomfiture of discovering that what the public expects of them is totally unrelated to reality. I was recently reminded of this by the experience of a mother whose little son took ill during a stormy night. The child was running a very high temperature and proceeded to vomit intermittently. The mother was in utter despair, and in total disregard of the heavy rain, screeching thunder and flashing lightening she braved the storms and rushed the child to the village “native” (or ‘Juju’) doctor.
The doctor examined the child and gave the mother some palm oil and herbs. He was most reassuring with perfect bedside manners (minus the stethoscope) and calmed the mother with the soothing words: “There is nothing to worry about. Your child will be fine in the morning – just hang a photograph of the Devil over the child’s bed, recite the incantations I have written for you, rub the palm oil over your child’s body and brew the herbs for him to drink. Make sure you follow my instruction exactly. The mother went back home and did as she had been instructed; but unfortunately she could not find a photograph of the Devil. She searched all over her hut and it was while she was scrimmaging that she came across a photograph of a fierce looking Major-General “T.I.” who until recently was the “de facto” ruler of an African country. The mother in triumph exclaimed: “If I cannot get hold of a photograph of the Devil, this photograph will do just as well.”
Reassured, she went to sleep and so did the child. In the morning, she had to come to terms with tragedy – the child would not wake up. It was dead. The tearful mother rushed to the “doctor” and challenged him – his reassurances had proved to be false and his prescriptions had turned out to be ineffectual. The doctor was baffled, “Impossible!” he exclaimed, “Your child could not possibly die if you did exactly as I instructed. Tell me exactly what you did with my prescriptions……..” The sobbing mother then confessed that she had not followed the doctor’s prescriptions exactly – she had to substitute Major-General T.I.’s photograph for that of the Devil…… At this point the jubilant doctor protested: “That was an overdose! You are responsible for your child’s death.”