'WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT FATHER AND MOTHER, I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN ONLY A MOTHER'

By NBF News
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What is the meaning of your name in English?
Peace is good. What do you see that is wrong in the Nigeria of today compared to the Nigeria that you grew in to?

I think it is basically corruption. It's a huge problem at all levels of national life.

What are the drawbacks that corruption brings to a nation?

It's just the impact of corruption that we can see. You can see this clearly in the areas of power supply, provision of social amenities, and public utilities. Despite what Nigeria makes from oil yearly, there is still no impact on our society. Most of the roads around here in Ogbomosho are not tarred. They are horrible, and one knows that basically there is corruption even in our secondary schools. I think it's in every facet of our life. Everywhere you go, you see the impact of corruption there. The normal salary that people, should earn, like we are talking of the minimum wage of N18, 000 state governments are saying that they cannot pay despite the billions of naira they are receiving from the federation account every month. Everywhere you look, you see corruption.

From me, there is no solution in sight. It has gone on for so long that even a little child; the first thing he realises is corruption. Even where I work, it is obviously there is corruption there. I work in a state institution. The university system that trains future leaders has the people but yet it is till the same there.

You work in a university?
Yes, Ladoke Akintola University of Science, LAUTECH. I work as an ICT staff. For me, I don't think there is much hope for Nigeria unless there is a revolution. And a revolution is not feasible yet.

Your father tried something akin to a revolution but failed. How old were you when he did that?

I was just six years plus.
You weren't conscious of what was happening then?
I think I was conscious of the fact that he did a coup.

Can you recall what happened at that time? What you saw that you remember?

I think I remember clearly. I saw him on the 21st of April, that was a Saturday night about 7 to 8 p.m. He lodged in a hotel, and we were together there in Lagos.

Which part of Lagos?
I can't remember
He took all the family members to that hotel?
No, we went there normally to greet him. He was there.

Why was he not in the barracks?
He was on pass to Kaduna. He was just posted to Jaji in Kaduna State, from Shaki in Oyo State where he was a CO. He was to go and become an instructor in Kaduna. So, we passed through Lagos to Kaduna. I think I saw him last on April 21, Saturday night, around 8 p.m.

What was his mood like?
Just normal family life. He was relaxed, knowing that we would all be travelling the next day to Kaduna.

Did he do anything that night that when you now look back, you think the man was saying goodbye in a way?

No.
Nothing unusual?
Nothing unusual. He just told us that we should be ready by 6 a.m. the next day; that he would come and pick us to Kaduna.

Six a.m. the next day came, and when he did not come, what happened?

Before then, somebody came to the house where we were, saying that someone has staged a coup against Babangida and he is on the radio. And when we tuned in the radio, the voice I heard on the radio was my dad's. That was shortly before 6 a.m.

When you heard his voice, as small as you were then, what struck you?

I couldn't put it together then. I couldn't understand, but from what they were saying, they said a coup. Later, I understood what a coup was. I knew it was a military action, so to say. Of course, throughout the day, we kept following the news, until about 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. in the afternoon that Sunday when we heard that the coup had been squashed.

When you heard that it has been squashed, what was your reaction?

Nothing, I was just a normal 6-year-old.
When did the reality dawn on you?
I think over time, as the day progressed, we realised that probably he would be killed until we now heard that on 27 July, that they had killed him.

Between April 22 and July 27, did you visit him?
No.
There was no communication whatsoever?
No.
So, what was the family doing?
We were staying there in Lagos, following events, waiting for whatever the outcome will be. For a six-year-old, I was just following it. I think my mum will be in a better position to know exactly the sequence of events that happened.

Later as you grew, you must have become acquainted with the issues he raised in his coup speech. What are the issues that he raised that you believed in?

Well, that is a tricky question. But for me, I think the angle of corruption. There are many things he raised in his speech. I would say that is neither here nor there for me. Not that I don't agree with them, but then as at that time, he had a better vision of things and he saw things clearer than historians would. Basically, it's corruption.

The day you heard that he had been executed how did you feel?

I don't think I can remember that. I was just turned six years old then. I knew people around me were sad.

In what particular way have you missed your dad?
It's kind of obvious. I never grew up with a father. I only knew him when I was between one year to six years of age; and he was always on the move. But even then, the interaction I had with him cannot be compared with the interaction you have as an adult, like a growing up child of 18. His relationship with his father will be much better. For me, it was never there. I missed that most. When people talk about father and mother, I have always known only a mother.

Do you wish your father were here today?
I am really indifferent. For me, life must continue. Things happen for a reason. We only have control over what is in our immediate sphere. So, if he is not here, I am okay with it that he's not here.

He confirmed that the police arrested one person.