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Chief Charles Obule And His Safa Boys’ Club’s Last Supper



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

    Barrister (Chief) Charles (Jacob) Ufuoma Obule is, was, a Sapele denizen that old-timers and new-timers of Sapele would not forget in a hurry. For the man in his own unique way was too good, too, too decent as a human-being of social matters who cared profusely and outstandingly for the human condition in its generality. His relationship with all those who came in contact with him and who he came in contact with especially in Sapele, the coastal city of famous fame, that will eternally remain famous, will hardly forget his virtues in lean and un-lean seasons and years. The wealth the Erhi of Okpe Kingdom in Delta State possessed was the wealth of philanthropy of a genuine philanthropist and a self-less bread-winner and meal-provider that his blood family members and all and sundry benefitted from. I am not exaggerating beyond the boundary of exaggeration. Thus his demise two plus or so weeks ago dumbfounded everybody, old young men and young old men. What will many of them do now that we are speaking of Charles of Charles-Ville, his stupendously palatial residence, in the past? 

    Since the news of his devastating death hit me, I have tried to look from my distance from them at their faces, known and un-known. How joyful they were and how joyless they are now are two astonishing experiences that are very, very astonishing. I am seeing tramps without poverty once well-fed and now tramps suffering from chronic maladaptation ready and un-ready to kick the bucket or waiting for the bucket to kick them – in just two weeks! I can see that their eyes have been ravaged by the cancer of astonishment in just two weeks! Do they deserve this fate? Of course, they, Chief Charles Obule and all of us don’t deserve this fate. 

    Clearly, the death of Charles has set me thinking about many things. This death has been eliciting from me many questions that are providing no answers – clear or un-clear. In fact, the more I think about what has been and whose reality I cannot change the more mystified I have become. And I am becoming a philosopher of sorts relating to the subject at hand – an un-vigorous philosopher of sometimes confused imagination and memory that is coming to me from the glorious years I shared with the gone one who was my under-graduate student as a uterine elder brother, who pre-deceased him, also was. All is not well that does not end well. This is one philosophical reaction my mystified imagination engendered in thinking about Charles – always Jacob – the name, the actual name, his actual birth-name, his late biological father gave to him – and which only closely close ones knew him by and which I always called him in our quiet moments of infrequent meetings up to our last meeting that predated his un-expected end that has severely hurt and mystified us beyond any imaginable word or words. Who are the “us”?

    The “us” are fellows, friends and members of the Safa Boys’ Club. Our vigorous dead member tolls the knell of the young who has left our circle in a state of quaint quandary. To cut a short-long story shorter, on Sunday, 9, July, this year, Safa Boys’ Club, the most supremely joyous, blissful, lively and liberal social or socio-cultural club and arguably the best and most influential place for laughing lions and lionesses in Sapele and environs stretching to far and near and wide and long boundaries of places well outside Safa City, hosted this composer  to an afternoon and evening of laughter and laughter for his very joyful exit out of service after longishly longish years of flawlessness. It was an afternoon of victorious happiness and of happy happiness and joyful joy that ran to an evening of the flesh of good lambs and smoked chicken and coco-nut rice and tapioca plus nuts and well barbecued fish – and what else? Starch and banga soup plus bush meat and fresh fish, to boot. The list was long and endless. Everything was prepared very spicily by Mrs. Charles Obule. Water and assorted drinks were heard and seen splashing like speeches and words of wisdom and truth. Beer and stout and wine and fruit juices and softs of coca-cola and other brands were enough and more than enough. We were all gourmets and epicures – but not gluttons. 

    Everyone, including invited guests from far and near, heartily agreed that we partook of an excellently excellent meal which has turned out now, from the benefit of hindsight, to be Barrister Chief Charles Obule’s last supper which has socially and historically become  Safa Boys’ Club’s last supper with him: the very personable fellow. 

    Before the event began in earnest, Charles and I had a very short chat which we engaged in in the form of a whisper. Chief Iroro Clarke, the Club’s Chairman, who sat next to him, I am sure, did not hear what we said – what I told Charles, my Jacob, and what he told me. Because we had an assignment and a promise he was yet to keep in respect of a long retired foundation professor in my primary place of function in my now former establishment from which Charles tasted my teaching tongue, I accused him, our now unexpectedly gone brother and friend, of trying to fob me off with his mien and demeanour. It was then he confided in me. He had been away – in Turkey after his visit to the US – on medical grounds. He was due to visit Turkey again soonest. I was beaten and suddenly halted in my discourse for I was overcome and overwhelmed by the way he said what he said. I remained silent and sat still and dismayed. But he cheered me up. As the ceremony progressed I observed him keenly. He didn’t drink as he used to do – that is if even he was a water-drinker that day. It was as if his usual brand – stout or wine – was no use to his weary and drooping frame. But was he really a weary and drooping man? I was trying to read his mind from where I was sitting far from him and Iroro Clarke. But when he stood up to make what I considered as a golden speech of the evening I could see him radiating the spirit of the purest sky. My thoughts became robustly robust and were as fair as the fairest woman!

    Yet Charles, after partaking of the outstanding meal, left the ceremony before we neared its end – quite un-usual of him. He was followed by the Chairman. He waved to us as he took his earlier than early leave – without even taking a photo with me! And the next thing I heard was that he had died! The man we are burying today has left the market-place of our existence. I am too far gone in the pain walking around my interior compartments to say more than what I have said now. Whatever tarantula or scorpion that came from nowhere to sting him instead of yelping at him and leaving him alone thereafter is power-less now over him.

    Now let this unwillingly willing composer end with his repetition of his initial reaction to the death of the super delightful high being who should not have flown from us at the time he did after his last supper with the Sapele Boys’ Club. He posted the reaction to the club’s platform when the pain he felt connected with the reality of the loss:

    “Since the sad news of the death of Charles (Jacob) Obule hit me, as hard as it did, silence and solitude have engulfed and encircled me. In this state Seneca’s words keep on coming and going and coming. ‘‘Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing.” And the anxiety of my silence and solitude further induces in me the “thingification,” the neuterisation” and the “inorganisation” of our existence, extinction and oblivion. 

    “In the suddenness of your sudden eternal rest, O Charles, we perceive our own “thanatos”! What else do I say? Rest eternally in perfect peace that is perfect peace.” 

    May Mrs. Charles Obule, the children and the extended family and friends that are friends overcome their great pains and confusion as the Sapele eagle of a philanthropist, billionaire, lawyer, educationist, socialite, businessman, and politician of the PDP liberal spontaneity and taciturnity is given to mother earth today. The paths he had followed here and his acquirements all are now mother earth’s the taker. 

Our supper with Charles has since soared to the ground. Brace up, Sapele Boys’ Club. Brace up.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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Where Are Secular Lawyers?



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe

This question has agitated me over the years, and it persists. At a recent event in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, a participant introduced herself as a member of the Christian Lawyers Association of Nigeria. Christian Lawyers Association? I wondered, Why Christian lawyers? Why should lawyers associate based on faith? Do we have a traditional religious lawyers association? Jehovah Witness Lawyers Association? Bahai Faith lawyers? Hindu Lawyers? I mean, why the religionization of everything in this country?

In northern Nigeria, the Muslim Lawyers Association exists. This organization is active. It features prominently in cases, especially those that concern religion, Sharia, or Islam. I guess there would be Sunni and Shiite Muslim lawyers associations. In 2022, over 30 Muslim lawyers came forward to defend those suspected of murdering Deborah Samuel in Sokoto. Meanwhile, no member helped prosecute the suspects. Muslim lawyers have strongly supported the execution and imprisonment of suspected blasphemers. They constitute the legal wing of Islamic separatism in Nigeria. This religious slant in practice, profession, and association of lawyers is disturbing and needs to be critically examined.

Look, a lawyer is a person trained to offer legal services. A lawyer is trained to represent an individual or organization in legal matters. S/he applies the law to specific cases, religious or nonreligious. The legal profession should be carried out without religious bias or favor. The law should be practiced to further justice, equity, and fairness, not in defense of a particular faith or belief. In practice, the law should be faith/belief blind. Unfortunately, this appears not to be the case in Nigeria. The tendency of lawyers to associate along religious lines is entrenched. As in other sectors of the society, religion has hijacked the legal profession and association. Lawyers practice and are pressured to practice law along religious lines. That is the raison d’etre of the religious (Christian/Muslim) lawyers association. And it is worrisome.

It has become pertinent to ask, where are secular lawyers? Put differently, where are lawyers beyond belief? By secular lawyers, I mean lawyers who are not religious, that is, lawyers who are atheists or agnostics; lawyers who do not take religion seriously. Secular lawyers include those who think that religious and spiritual matters are strictly private affairs and should not be the basis for legal practice, profession, and association.

Nigeria needs secular lawyers for the following reasons. First, based on section 10 of the constitution, Nigeria is a secular state, although not explicitly stated. Nigeria has no state religion. But theocrats often contest Nigeria’s secularity and openly propose that sharia and their religious books are superior to the constitution. The country needs lawyers to defend and uphold its secular character and help prevent the slow undoing of the secular gains and progress that Nigeria has made. Nigeria needs lawyers who can champion secularism. And secular lawyers can fulfill this need.

Second, Nigeria needs secular lawyers to professionally and constitutionally handle cases linked to faith or belief, such as witchcraft, blasphemy, and apostasy allegations. Lawyers who practice or associate on grounds of faith cannot be trusted to handle these cases because they are likely to compromise. They are likely to sacrifice their profession on the altar of their faith. For instance, it is a challenge to find lawyers to defend victims of witchcraft accusations because most lawyers, as people of faith, believe in the reality of witches and demons. Even though witchcraft accusations are against the law. Religious lawyers cannot be trusted to render professional services to victims of witchcraft branding. The same thing applies to cases of blasphemy and apostasy accusations. These accusations are linked to religious beliefs. Many lawyers do not want to profess law in ways that violate their faith. So, faith is a factor in hiring an attorney or getting a reliable solicitor.

In cases where Christians are accused of blaspheming Islam or insulting the prophet of Islam, Christian lawyers volunteer. They offer to help. Religious (Christian or Muslim) lawyers consider it a duty to defend their members. Christian lawyers defended Rhoda in Bauchi or the Christian barber, Elijah, in Kano. Muslim lawyers defended the suspected murderers of Deborah Samuel. But it is more challenging when the accused is a nonbeliever, an atheist, or a nonreligious person. Religious lawyers are reluctant to take up the cases. Religious lawyers cannot be trusted or entrusted with these cases because of concerns over religious bias.  Christian lawyers are guided by their christian faith and muslim lawyers are guided by their Islamic faith in their legal practice and representation.
So secular lawyers are needed. They can be trusted to represent in these cases because, in principle, they are free from the faith baggage that encumber legal representations by christian/muslim lawyers. Nigeria needs secular lawyers to keep church, mosque and state separate, and to ensure state neutrality on religious matters. It needs secular lawyers to tackle religious oppression, persecution and tyranny. Nigeria needs secular lawyers to uphold the rule of law and defend the freedom of religion or belief of all.
 Igwe, PhD,  is a board member of the Humanist Association of Nigeria.

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Minister Dangiwa Versus Cement Cabals



Felix Oboagwina

By Felix Oboagwina

Wednesday, 31st October 2023, CEO of BUA Cement, Abdul Samad Rabiu, paid a visit to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Aso Rock. As he walked out of the President’s office, journalists swarmed round Rabiu. To cut this narrative short, the billionaire businessman said he had come to assure the President that by March 2024, a bag of BUA Cement would start selling at N3,500 instead of N4,500 for which it then sold. The market leader, Dangote Cement, retailed for between N5,000 and N7,000 per bag. The hike not only alarmed but frustrated users because just two months earlier, Dangote Cement sold for a lower price of N3,500 max. The jump in price annoyed Nigerians. Thus, when the media went to town with Rabiu’s assurance of crashing the price, the news provoked much happiness nationwide.

Easier said than done, however, Rabiu’s optimism quickly evaporated into thin air. Mysteriously, thereafter, the price of cement went crazy and bizarre. The popular 50kg bag of cement flew to N10,000, then N12,000 and landed at N15,000. This year, Dangote Cement PLC reported a profit of N166 billion for first quarter of 2024.

In Nigeria, the dominant cement brands are Dangote, BUA, Lafarge and Elephant. For a country of 250 million, being serviced by four brands sounds like a monopoly or oligopoly, when a few companies exert significant control over a given market and together control prices by colluding with each other to promote uncompetitive prices. Today, manufacturers blame the skyrocketing rates on the falling value of the Naira. From the N700 per dollar pre-May 2023, the Naira had gone to exchange for N1,600 to the dollar, although it has now dropped to about N1,200. In addition to using the unhealthy Naira as scapegoat, cement makers blame the high cost on expensive gas and manufacturing equipment.

However, in the midst of the darkness, a silver lining appeared to appear from the midst of Tinubu’s cabinet ministers.

There are 46 ministers, although 13 of them wear the title of Junior Minister or Minister of State and 33 substantive ones. Suddenly, two substantive ministers called cement manufacturers to a meeting. The meeting by Dave Umahi, Works Minister, took place first on Monday, February 19, 2024. At that meeting, the minister and manufacturers fixed the price of cement at between N7,000 and N8,000 max.

The following day Tuesday in Abuja, Ahmed Dangiwa, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, also met representatives of the Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN). And there things exploded. Dangiwa displayed uncommon knowledge of all the tricks and shenanigans. He told the producers the implication of their pricing: “This is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.”

For Dangiwa, the reasons for the price hike were insufficient to justify such outrageous pricing. He confronted them with the bare facts, that the government stopped cement importation to enable local companies to increase output and lower prices.

Then he dropped the banger: “Government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do.”

When CEMAN said the association “does not interfere with the pricing of cement,” Dangiwa hit back with, “One person cannot be selling at N3,500 per bag and another selling at N7,000 per bag and you cannot call them to order. The association is expected to monitor price control; otherwise, the association has no need to exist.”

Where the President and the Works Minister pacified and appeared to have lost touch with reality, Dangiwa spoke to manufacturers in the language they understood. He threatened them. Government, Dangiwa said, could fling open the borders to tame prices.

He told them: “We know that some of the key components of producing building materials, especially cement, are locally sourced, so the recurring disproportionate increase in the price of cement is unacceptable and unreasonable. Key input materials such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum within our borders should not be dollar-rated.

“You cannot continue to give excuses and blame it on the dollar all the time. The worst part is that other building materials manufacturers take a cue from cement manufacturers, and once they see that you increase your price, they do the same. Recently, this is happening almost every week, and it has to stop.”

Fact is Nigeria has been hijacked by cartels. They have the country by the jugular mercilessly. Like cartels the world over, the Nigerian business profiteers nurse the motive of profiteering at all costs. Governments have been unwilling to confront them and break that hold today. Past pro-people regimes behaved otherwise.

General Murtala Mohammed imported Argentinean beef to force down the price of meat in the market.

General Gowon goes down in history for the Cement Armada. Ships upon ships upon ships of cement harboured at the Apapa Lagos port and crashed the price of the product.

In his own time, when the price of cement rose astronomically and the country complained, Goodluck Jonathan, in May 16, 2011, invited producers to Aso Rock and gave Dangote, BUA and others 30 days to crash cement price to N1,000. They succumbed.

While that drama played out, four cement manufacturers in February 2013 wrote to Jonathan to demand import licences, calling themselves “Cement New Entrants Stakeholders.” They each wanted to be granted papers by Jonathan to import 5 million metric tons of cement. According to them, granting import licences was a sure way of forcing down cement price to between N500 and N1,000 per bag and breaking the current monopoly of the “cartel” in the industry.

There is much to learn from this engagement. Monopolistic profiteering dictates cement pricing in Nigeria. The monopoly flaunts every excuse to justify the high price, which the proposed independent importers told Jonathan was “making Nigeria to be classified as the country with the highest price of cement in the world” with the ex-factory price then fixed between N1,400 and N1,800 per bag.

That is the way to go. Good history ought to repeat itself. Open the borders. Grant licences to import. Create competition. It will amount to a win-win for Nigerians because cement imports will create a new line of businesses as well as jobs through the value chain of importation, ports, clearing, re-bagging, warehousing, marketing, advertising, distribution and retailing. This the Housing Minister Dangiwa knows as a professional architect, a player in the building industry and a politician who wants to deliver pocket-friendly housing to the masses.

He had similarly maintained this humane stance when, as Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN, 2015–2022), he packed several human-faced, pro-people policies into his tenure. He processed N39.5 billion worth of refunds to 247,521 retired Federal housing contributors. Under him, FMBN made available NHF mortgage loans to 5,900 beneficiaries as well as home renovation loans to 77,500 people. He, also, led efforts to develop the Diaspora mortgage loan. This innovative scheme specifically aimed at assisting Nigerians living abroad to own homes without the weeping tales of getting duped by relatives or friends in Nigeria.

Minister Dangiwa knows that ONLY the cartels’ insatiable greed propels the price of cement sky-high. Exorcising this evil begins with taming the profiteers and making them sell cement to Nigerians at the N3,500 per bag that CEO of BUA Cement, Abdul Samad Rabiu, promised Tinubu at Aso Rock.

Oboagwina is an author, journalist and publisher, reachable via

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Money Without Family Relationship: A Time Bomb!



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr Hope Nwawolo

Money Without Family Relationship: A Time Bomb!

By Hope Nwawolo

Recently, l came across a trending post of a 72-year-old pensioner, who was said to have worked all his life to raise his kids. The writer of the post claimed the man was abandoned by his children whom he trained in expensive schools, at home and abroad.  It was further disclosed that his 65-year-old wife, had relocated to live with her children abroad, on the excuse of taking care of their grandchildren. The writer went on to paint the gloomy picture of the man as a bachelor once again and battling with high blood pressure and other old age ailments. He cautioned men that women love their children more than their husbands, so they should plan for their future. He erroneously put the number of such women at 97%.

This piece is in response to the above biased claim which is also capable of causing friction in homes striving for unity and togetherness. He may just succeed to plant a negative seed of distrust and discord in the minds of fickle-minded men, who before reading the article were enjoying a blissful relationship with their wives. It may also be possible that the writer is a disgruntled person who did not succeed in marriage or relationship and believes the same must be for all men.

When we see people like the writer portrayed, we should ask a pertinent question. What was the man’s relationship with his wife and children when he was ‘struggling’ to fend for them? Unfortunately, some men fail to realize that there is so much more in family life than money. In as much as money ‘answereth’ all things, it cannot be exchanged for lasting family relationship. 

Some men literally shove their wives aside while making the money without realizing the children see the treatment of their mothers. When some of these children become independent and financially stable, they feel obligated to compensate their mothers for the loveless treatment received from their fathers. In other cases, some men do not value family time, no matter how short, and would not understand the emotional craving of the wives and children when they really need it. Often, it is these women, that stay in the  gap in their absence, making the children bond more with  them. And instead of appreciating such women for filling in their physical vacuum, some men rather get jealous of the bond and further drift away from the children, while blaming the wife. 

Today, wise men make out time to pray, discuss, and have family outings with their families. This is called relationship building, which cannot be broken by distance in the future. The children from these homes grow up with memories of fun and family laughter. The women from such homes, have strong relationship with their husbands and will not stay more than one month when they go to visit their children. You will hear them say to the children, “Please, l want to go back to my husband.”  Why is nobody talking about them?

There are also couples who travel together to visit their children from time to time. So what stops a man from also going to visit his children whom he struggled to train? Is it that they did not invite him, and why? Perhaps they have no relationship! 

The claim of 97% women who abandon their husbands for their children is not empirical, cannot be scientifically proven, and is unfair to women. It also has the tendency to put fears into innocent men who are building strong relationships with their wives and children. I pray such men do not abandon their effort after reading such a biased write-up…for their own good! Every marriage and family is unique and should have values and principles that will bind its members together today, tomorrow, and in the future. This should override the quest for money if it cannot be combined with building lasting relationships with every member of the family.

Nowadays, while many men believe their provision of money for the home is the answer to family issues, the women sacrifice key factors that cannot be monetized, and build lasting relationships with the children. These vital factors are their tears and worries, emotional support, and constant prayers, among many others. Observably too,  some women are also contributing financially to feeding and sometimes, schools fees, as well as other necessities of the families. Despite these, they  find time to ensure that the family bond is maintained as best as possible. Unfortunately, the ego rather than complex of some men will not allow them acknowledge or appreciate the effort of these women and which the children obviously witness as they grow into independence and financial stability.

Therefore, instead of blaming women for the unpalatable fruit of old age loneliness as a result of early years of family emotional neglect, men should attempt to juggle their quest for money with building relationships that will see them through the evening of their lives, with members of the families. 

 Nwawolo, PhD, writes via


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