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The Last of the Mohicans Passeth

TELL Cover Page

TELL Cover Page

To say the world is in turmoil is an understatement. But these do not portend the end of time yet. It was the poor leadership of one man at the head of a global power that stoked the fire of hate that has spread beyond its original zone to every place imaginable.

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Bill Clinton managed a unipolar status effectively for America and won friends in the former enemy camp. He warned against the war in Iraq. George W. Bush was unlike George Bush except in looks. He was greedy but had not the gumption of how to skirt the circle to arrive at a safe destination. He was too gung ho, the traits of cowards who show bravado instead of a ken of knowledge to settle scores, if any. He lied to the world, Iraq has no weapon of mass destruction. There is everything wrong with the world today as opposed to the post-World War 2 years of the mid-1940s to 1970s, which allowed greater freedom of expression because of the competing bi-polar powers. One was likely to seek protection from any of the two, depending on one’s political persuasion.

Sometime last year, I was wondering how one of the pioneers of the Central House of Assembly, Alhaji Inuwa Wada, of that age, had been able to live with the collapse of everything dear to progress in Nigeria. He must have agonised to no end to find Nigeria reduced to a beggar with a bowl in hand amid plenty. When Pa Inuwa Wada protested against the nullification of the June 12, 1993 election for the president, it was a bitter voice that came across.

If he were not well-cultured, he would have called names. Together with leading northerners like Ahmed Talib, Gen. FIassan Usman Katsina, Adamu Ciroma, Umaru Shinkafi and hundreds of other dignitaries from that zone, the call to re-validate June 12 sounded unequivocal.

Pa Inuwa Wada was a man of steel. He became the central minister of works in 1954 when the pioneer in that ministry, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, was moved to take over transport with the death of Bode Thomas and because Francis Awosika who was briefly there lost the 1954 general elections in Ondo to the NCNC, the party that got the majority in the West then.

One night in 1957 at Idi-Oro, Ekotedo, in Ibadan, a tall man dignified by his calm and dress in kaftan with a muffler around the neck, met “big brother”, Thompson Ade Ojo-Osagie and me obviously discussing football. The three of us were tall, Thompson being the tallest at six-foot-four. I think Pa Wada looked as if he shared my six-foot-three height.

He approached us asking for the house of James Modupe Johnson, JMJ, at Surulere, Ekotedo. He was alone, but self assured. We did not know who he was but we took him to the place. On the way, he was genial, but my curiosity made me ask whether he was JMJ’s friend?

This was Adelabu’s Ibadan and an Hausa-Fulani was going to the Number Two Man’s house. He smiled in reply and told us that he was Inuwa Wada. And we concluded, central minister of works. Thompson was a dyed-in-the-wool NCNCer though a nephew of Canon Alayande and I, an Action Grouper. Papa Wada was NPC secretary general. Then I said: “You are cabinet colleagues?” “And friends”, he replied. JMJ was not at home and we led him back to Adamasigba where he lodged with a relative. This was Nigeria’s Minister of Works and the Secretary General of the NPC moving alone with no display of panoply of power. He told us to get in touch with him in Lagos, but Nigerian youths were no hustlers then. Thompson was obsessed with his high jump and a place in British Empire Games billed for 1958 and I with how to displace Onyeawuna, Antigha Woma, Eto Anaechima and Ejoh of Calabar in what they call the midfield now. Thompson had been Ibadan goalkeeper before the shirt was given to Professor Oyelese and later to Elumelu. We told Pa Wada that we worked in the Labour Relations Office of the Public Works Department (PWD), which he was quite familiar with…

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