PHOTONEWS: Fatai Rolling Dollar On Stage


PHOTONEWS: Fatai Rolling Dollar On Stage
June 18, 2013

  The highlife musician Fatai Rolling Dollar Olagunju was born on July 22nd 1926. Rolling Dollar as he is famously known around the world is Nigeria’s oldest cultural enthusiast, artist and scholar. Mr. Rolling Dollar died in Lagos Nigeria this morning.

Pictures above were taken in June, 2007 in Abuja during the World music Day held at NICON LUXURY. Photos by, Femi Ipaye, senior photojournalist with Thenews Magazine.

Odedina Taofeek


JUNE 12: My meetings with Annan, Anyaoku


JUNE 12: My meetings with Annan, Anyaoku

June 15, 2013
Being the full report of the meeting between Mr. Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary-General, his Commonwealth of Nations counterpart, Chief Emeka Anyaoku and the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola during the struggle to actualise the June 12, 1993 presidential election mandate won by Chief Abiola, believed to be free, fair and most transparent, only to be annulled by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida.

He was later arrested by the military junta of General Sani Abacha which ousted the Interim National Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, hurriedly put in place as General Babangida was stepping aside after 8 years as military president. Abiola was charged with treason, detained in military confinement, tried, and later died in custody after several years of incarceration.

The meeting with Kofi Annan as recounted by Abiola himself

I never met Kofi Annan before. In fact, I never knew that Boutros Ghali was no longer UN Secretary-General. Annan was sure I knew him and for the first 30 minutes, I did not know who I was talking to. In the circumstances, I had to tell him that I had no access to any media for four years and was out of date.

He got the message and then introduced himself and intimated to me the many steps he has taken for my release since 18 months in office.

Next, he told me the new head of state had agreed to release me unconditionally but Abubakar wanted an undertaking that I should not seek for my mandate. I told him at that point that, that in itself is the worst of conditions. He, the head of state, felt that any such renewed request will only cause “confusion” as it would not have any effect.

Annan told me that nobody in the international community will recognise me on the basis of a five-year old mandate, insinuating that but for the purported annulment, I would have finished the first term covered by my election of June 12, 1993. He ended by saying that such undertaking will facilitate my release. I interjected that my detention would have ended ages ago if I had given such undertaking.

I thanked him for his efforts on my behalf. I told him firmly that I can give no such undertaking as requested because it will be worse than useless. My declaration was made in public at a mass rally at Epetedo, Lagos, before thousands of people despite the heavy downpour of that evening. It was made in clear terms, without any ambiguity. I then surrendered myself for arrest and was put on trial, which continued until my affidavit of October 4, 1994 showed the federal military government in a no-win situation.

Kofi Annan

Nothing on June 12 has been done “under the table” or at a “secret meeting” because June 12 is the number one public matter in our country. Even the counting of votes was done openly and in public at every one of the over 209,000 voting centres throughout the nation.

Secondly, given a “private declaration” to secure my own release will make all concerned look cheap. Such “declaration” obtained under duress will not only be worthless but unworthy of all who are involved with it. Since the issue relates to the mandate of all Nigerian people, such a private statement will amount to “shaving our people’s heads in their absence” – an exercise in illusion.

On the issue of non-recognition because of the elapse of time, I told Annan that I do not believe it. And the case for my recognition by the London Times of last Friday (July 3, 1998) proved me right. If what Annan said were true, it would amount to a person (the federal military government) being allowed to profit from his illegal action – the purported annulment which they had no power to do with decree and four-year detention – another illegality.

My own concession on the issue of declaration in my statement to him is that I will not make any fresh declaration.

Firstly, because it will not be necessary anymore since the first one of June 11, 1994 has served the purpose fully to keep June 12 alive. I told him that the state in which June 12 is now is such that I can now, on my release, take time to check my health locally and abroad, rebuild the cohesion of my family which has become tattered by the events of the past five years in general and the brutal assassination of my senior wife, Kudi and of course, breathe life into my business. This is because June 12 is today a major world issue, compared with the situation four years ago when it was in a coma.

Meeting with Emeka Anyaoku

The same grounds were covered, so all t he above comments were also relevant.

In fact, I believe the Federal Military Government “used” the two men to fly their kite on “declaration” which was the main issue they both said worried the FMG. Both diplomats appear to have co-ordinated their positions.

Chief Anyaoku made the additional point that he had sought legal opinion and it was confirmed to him that the five-year lapse has killed the mandate. My answer to that is that, in the court of public opinion, legal advice is useless. Which country has ever solved her political problems by seeking legal advice? And what do the masses of our people know of “legal advice?” He also said he had met people like Shonekan. I told him that all these “big men” do not carry weight with the people and that Shonekan particularly cannot win a ward councilor election in Itoko ward in Abeokuta South local government whee he comes from! He must not rely too much on such people!

Again, the London Times piece is enough to debunk his “legal opinion.” I asked him pointedly what made it his business to seek legal advice?

The two of them were working as agents of the Federal Military Government whether they are paid or not, beyond the free (not clear) and hotel (not clear) I won’t know! And that is not our business either!

Anyaoku’s Response

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku issued a statement on July 16 saying that the suggestion made in some newspapers that he was invited to Nigeria by the Federal Military Government to put pressure on Chief Abiola to renounce his mandate was a “mischievous distortion.”

The purpose of his visit, he said, was to discuss recent developments with the new Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar and urge a speedy movement in Nigeria to a credible democracy, beginning with the release of Chief Abiola and all the other detainees.

Answering a question about Abiola’s mandate at a press conference in Lagos following their meeting, Anyaoku stated: “Chief Abiola will speak for himself about his mandate when he becomes a free man.” The statement said Anyaoku had received the news of Chief Abiola’s death with great shock and deep personal sadness and rejected as utterly misleading the recent negative comments about their final meeting.

–          Compiled by Emmanuel Edukugho

Odedina Taofeek

From the Archives: Olusegun Obasanjo’s brilliant open letter to Margaret Thatcher in 1986 Posted By NEWS WATCH on April 23, 2013


by Olusegun Obasanjo
August 1986

Dear Margaret,

After our meeting on Sunday, I write as one committed democrat to another. Yours is an old country with a lengthy democratic tradition; mine a new country undergoing a press of nation-building. But as democrats, we can be frank with each other.

As you know, I came to the EPG (Eminent Persons’ Group) mission with reluctance. It was difficult enough for me as an African and especially as a Nigerian to contemplate exchanging pleasantries with those responsible for the institutionalised oppression of so many of my brothers and sisters.

My repugnance was exacerbated by the widely held perception that the EPG was a substitute for action won by you at Nassau for the benefit of P.W. Botha. However, I persuaded myself that whatever the odds, the prize was so great that I should overcome my personal feelings.

Not that I was prepared for what we found. As you know, even Tony Barber – a frequent traveller to South Africa – was appalled by what he was to see in that other South Africa which visitors seldom see. We jointly expressed our shock and dismay in our report.

I have seen extremes of poverty and of oppression in many parts of the world. But South Africa unashamedly moulds both elements into a system which enables the white minority to enjoy a “Dallas” lifestyle at the expense of the great majority forced to endure conditions as degrading as anything I have seen anywhere.

In our discussions, Malcom Fraser and I tried to convey the true nature of the system and were against cosmetic changes which have merely softened the face of apartheid.

However, such was our discussion that I must ask: Did you even read our report?

I infer from what you said that afternoon that you had not. You concentrated on the trivia of the Government’s “reforms” – like the welcome but essentially insignificant repeal of the Mixed Marriages Act – and ignored their implacable opposition to changes in the basic pillars of apartheid.

As we emphasised, to begin to dismantle apartheid, the Population Registration Act and the Group Areas Act must be repealed without being replaced by some measure designed to achieve the same ends under a different guise.

You gave credence to the dangerous notion that the political rights of the dispossessed can be adequately met by what President Botha calls “group rights” at the expense of individual rights and freedoms. Despite all the talk of “power sharing” between different communities, our inescapable conclusion was that this was a cloak for power remaining in white hands, and the essentials of apartheid continuing unchanged.

Nor have you any appreciation of the issue of violence. The apartheid system has an inherent violence which, through forced removals and the creation of barren homelands, has created the fiction of a white land and through the barrel of the gun, denies blacks any form of legitimate political expression.

We are all opposed to violence other than in self-defence. Why should blacks not have a right to defend their own families, homes and freedoms?

Your “moral revulsion” for sanctions struck me as unconvincing. The economic sanctions you so energetically pursued against Poland, Afghanistan and Argentina were brushed aside in your determination to withhold their application to South Africa. Yet to many of us there is only one significant difference: the victims in South Africa are black. Is sauce for the Aryan goose not sauce for the Negroid gander?

Your concentration of the economic effectiveness of sanctions is disingenuous if not hypocritical. Sanctions were imposed against Poland, Afghanistan and Argentina as political expressions of outrage.

Nor can your opposition be based on any assessment of where the best interests of Britain lie. Your country has considerable trade with South Africa, but this is dwarfed by that enjoyed with the rest of Africa: it cannot be in Britain’s interests to encourage them to place their orders elsewhere.

Further, your appearance as an apologist challenges the democratic forces in South Africa to seek help from whatever quarter they can. The longer-term consequences for Britain, the United States and the West could be considerable.

But most of all, I was dismayed by your lack of vision. You offered no action as an alternative to sanctions. You insisted that nothing whatever be done – even though in the final analysis you moved a little. There is no vision of a way ahead; simply a forlorn hope that P.W. Botha would experience a “Road to Damascus” conversion on the road to Soweto. Such hopes are in vain.

Sooner or later, Botha or his successor will be driven to negotiate meaningfully. Sir Geofferey’s visit again confirmed that Botha is not yet under sufficient pressure to do so – despite a dwindling rand, escalating inflation, a declining economy and mounting violence. More pressure must come.

I must tell you that many people around the world view your continued opposition to sanctions as founded on instinct, not logic and as displaying a misguided tribal loyalty and myopic political vision. The consequences of such perceptions are far-reaching for a country which has traditionally claimed the high ground of principle.

Not only does the mental laager of the Boer seem to be mirrored in your own attitudes, but his fatal concessions of too little, too late are paralleled by your actions.

I am glad that the Commonwealth has moved on without you and I know that sooner rather than later, Britain will have to join us. I also know that apartheid will end, and its demise will be the product of a combination of internal and external pressures. The equation is a simple one. The less the external pressure, the greater will be the price to be paid internally.