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Biography of Beko Ransome-Kuti

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Ransome-Kuti was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria. His mother Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti opposed indiscriminate taxation of women by the British colonial government. She helped negotiate Nigerian independence from Britain and is said to have been the first Nigerian woman to drive a car. His father Oladotun Ransome-Kuti was an Anglican priest and founded the Nigeria Union of Teachers. One of his brothers, Fela Kuti, was a famous musician and activist who founded Afrobeat; another, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, was an AIDS campaigner.

Ransome-Kuti attended Abeokuta Grammar School, Coventry Technical College, and Manchester University, where he became a medical doctor.

Career and activism

Ransome-Kuti returned to Nigeria in 1963 upon obtaining his degree. He was deeply affected by the events of 1977 when soldiers under the orders of Olusegun Obasanjo’s military government stormed his brother Fela Kuti’s[2] nightclub, destroyed his medical clinic and killed his mother. He became chairman of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Medical Association and its national deputy, campaigning against the lack of drugs in hospitals.

In 1984, Fela was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the government of General Muhammadu Buhari. Ransome-Kuti was also jailed, and his medical association was banned. He was released in 1985 when Buhari was deposed by General Ibrahim Babangida; Babangida then invited him to participate in the government.

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Ransome-Kuti helped to form Nigeria’s first human rights organization, the Campaign for Democracy, which in 1993 opposed the dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. In 1995, a military tribunal sentenced him to life in prison for bringing the mock trial of Olusegun Obasanjo to the attention of the world. He was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and freed in 1998 following the death of Sani Abacha.

Ransome-Kuti was a fellow of the West African College of Physicians and Surgeons, a leading figure in the British Commonwealth’s human rights committee, chair of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and executive director of the Centre for Constitutional Governance.

Non-conformist

Ransome-Kuti never went to Nigerian funerals or weddings, notable for the huge sums of money that is often spent by families at such occasions, at which people were lauded for how much money they stuck on musicians and dancers (“spraying”). He was against such gratuitous display of wealth.

Death

Ransome-Kuti died 10 February 2006, at approximately 11:20 P.M. at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria at the age of 65 from complications of lung cancer

Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, who has died aged 65 from lung cancer, was a thorn in the flesh of the Nigerian ruling class for many years. Among the most consistent, staunch and fearless human rights campaigners in Africa, he began this work as a concerned 23-year old doctor fighting for poor Nigerians to have access to good medical care.

Returning home in 1963 after studying at Manchester University, he immediately joined a children’s hospital, where he started to persuade his colleagues that medical care should be the right of every Nigerian.”When I was involved in medical politics, the army was involved in ridiculous things, such as appropriating national funds,” he recalled. “I would go to doctors in very high positions and ask, why don’t you do something about this?”

To many who knew him, Ransome-Kuti was following the family tradition. He was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria. His mother, Funmilayo Kuti, battled against indiscriminate taxation of women by the colonial government. She was the first Nigerian woman to drive a car and a member of the team that negotiated Nigerian independence with the British. His father was an Anglican priest, the Rev Oladotun Ransome-Kuti, who was said to have flogged a white inspector who had flouted his directive, and that at a time when Nigerians treated their British overlords like demigods. He also founded the Nigerian Union of Teachers.

One of his brothers was the famous musician, Fela Kuti; another, Olikoye, was a global Aids campaigner. His cousin is Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate. After Abeokuta grammar school, he spent a year at the former Coventry Technical College before studying medicine at Manchester University. From 1964 to 1977, he worked in several government hospitals in Nigeria before establishing his own private practice.

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He came to prominence after soldiers under orders from Olusegun Obasanjo’s military government marched into Fela’s nightclub, Kalakuta Republic, in 1977: Ransome-Kuti’s clinic was also razed; his mother was thrown out of a window and later died from her injuries. Suddenly, the quiet, urbane, corporately attired doctor, known to many Lagosians as the man who was always around to get Fela out of a police cell or prison, became a fervent radical, taking on the establishment along with Fela and Soyinka.

He soon became chairman of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Medical Association and later its national deputy. His campaigns focused on the lack of functional mortuaries and of drugs in hospitals.

In 1984, Fela was arrested at the airport as he was preparing to leave for a US tour, on what Amnesty International described as spurious charges of illegally exporting foreign currency. Using the new draconian decree that allowed for indefinite detention of political opponents, the government of General Mohammed Buhari sentenced Fela to 10 years in prison.

Ransome-Kuti, using the medical association platform, began a campaign to get the decree revoked and get Fela and all those detained released. But in fact he himself was jailed and only released in 1985, when Buhari was overthrown by General Ibrahim Babangida, who freed Ransome-Kuti but did not escape the former prisoner’s criticism. In subsequent years, Ransome-Kuti helped form the Campaign for Democracy, which was Nigeria’s first human rights organisation.

When a return to civilian rule was aborted in June 1993, and the winner of the election, Chief Moshood Abiola, was jailed, the Campaign for Democracy was at the forefront of opposition against the new dictatorship of General Sanni Abacha.

Ransome-Kuti and others were repeatedly arrested and detained. In 1995, a military tribunal took just 15 minutes to sentence him to life imprisonment for alerting the world’s media to the mock trial of Olusegun Obasanjo. The sentence was later commuted to 15 years. Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience.

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After the death of Abacha in 1998, Ransome-Kuti was released and continued his activism, helping to ensure the return of civilian rule to Nigeria. This happened in 1999, but it did not satisfy Ransome-Kuti’s idea of democracy and he continued to attack the new politicians for gambling with the principles of democracy.

As rumours spread about Obasanjo seeking to change the Nigerian constitution to allow himself a third successive term in government, Ransome-Kuti, along with Wole Soyinka and Gani Fawehinmi, campaigned against such a move. He told the Chinua Achebe Foundation that he defined good governance as less corruption in Nigeria.

A fellow of the West African College of Physicians, Ransome-Kuti was for many years a leading figure in the British Commonwealth human rights committee. He was the chairman of the Campaign for Democracy, president of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights and executive director of the Centre for Constitutional Governance.

He is survived by his wife, Bosede, three daughters and a son.

Richard Bourne writes: Beko was central to a major development in the modern Commonwealth, the suspension of the Nigerian dictatorship in 1995, and the introduction of membership rules that accord significance to human rights. As a member of the international body for the non-governmental Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) since 1989 he was constantly urging the Commonwealth to take action on Nigeria, while the CHRI was just as constantly trying to get him out of prison.

In 1995, he was fortunately out of prison and able to help a CHRI fact-finding group led by the former Canadian foreign minister, Flora Macdonald. The group’s explosive report, Nigeria: Stolen by Generals, demonstrated that the Abacha dictatorship was riding roughshod over all rights. So governments were already prepared at the Auckland Commonwealth summit in 1995, when Abacha committed the provocative act of executing Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni leaders.

Beko’s health suffered grievously from his imprisonments, and his heavy smoking was exacerbated by stress. He deserves to be remembered not only for his unwavering opposition to abuse, graft and dictatorship in Nigeria, but for his contribution to a modern commitment to human rights within the Commonwealth.

  • Beko Ransome-Kuti, doctor and human rights campaigner, born August 2 1940; died February 10 2006

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Biography

Biography of Olabisi Onabanjo

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Victor Olabisi Onabanjo (1927–1990) was governor of Ogun State in Nigeria from October 1979 – December 1983, during the Nigerian Second Republic. He was of Ijebu extraction.

Background

Oloye Victor Olabisi Onabanjo was born in 1927 in Lagos. He was educated in Lagos and at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the United Kingdom, where he studied journalism between 1950 and 1951. He worked as a journalist for several years before becoming a full-time politician. His column Aiyekooto (parrot – known for telling the plain truth) appeared in the Daily Service and Daily Express newspapers between 1954 and 1962.

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Victor Olabisi Onabanjo (1927–1990) was governor of Ogun State in Nigeria from October 1979 – December 1983, during the Nigerian Second Republic. He was of Ijebu extraction.

Oloye Victor Olabisi Onabanjo was born in 1927 in Lagos. He was educated in Lagos and at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the United Kingdom, where he studied journalism between 1950 and 1951. He worked as a journalist for several years before becoming a full time politician. His column Aiyekooto (parrot – known for telling the plain truth) appeared in the Daily Service and Daily Express newspapers between 1954 and 1962.

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Olabisi Onabanjo was elected chairman of the Ijebu Ode Local Government Area in 1977 under the tutelage of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was elected governor of Ogun State in October 1979 on the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) platform.  He was known as an unpretentious and plain-speaking man, and his administration of Ogun State was considered a model at the time and later.

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On May 13, 1982 he commissioned Ogun Television.  The Ogun State University, founded on 7 July 1982 was renamed Olabisi Onabanjo University on May 29, 2001 in his memory. He established the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic, but General Oladipo Diya who became military governor in 1983 closed the school down, only to be re-opened after the return to democracy in 1999.

Political career

Olabisi Onabanjo was elected chairman of the Ijebu Ode Local Government Area in 1977 under the tutelage of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was elected governor of Ogun State in October 1979 on the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) platform. He was known as an unpretentious and plain-speaking man, and his administration of Ogun State was considered a model at the time and later.

On May 13, 1982 he commissioned Ogun Television. The Ogun State University, founded on 7 July 1982 was renamed Olabisi Onabanjo University on May 29, 2001 in his memory. He established the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic, but General Oladipo Diya who became military governor in 1983 closed the school down, only to be re-opened after the return to democracy in 1999.

Later career

After the military take-over in December when General Muhammadu Buhari took power, he was thrown in jail for several years. After release, he returned to journalism, publishing his Aiyekooto column in the Nigerian Tribune from 1987 to 1989.

Death

Onabanjo died on April 14, 1990. Selected articles from his column were published in a book in 1991.

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Emeka Ojukwu: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow

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Have you ever seen a child born with a silver spoon with unlimited access to his father’s wealth, yet choose to snub these rights and start a life of his own accord? Don’t ponder too deeply but read on about the life of one of Nigeria’s powerful men who influenced her history: Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.

EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION

Emeka Ojukwu was born on November 4, 1933, in Zungeru, present-day Niger State, Northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu (1908-1966), a businessman from Nnewi, present-day Anambra State in South-Eastern Nigeria. Ojukwu Snr. was into the transport business; he took advantage of the business boom during the Second World War to become one of the richest men in Nigeria. Ojukwu started his secondary school education at the C.M.S Grammar School, Lagos, at the age of 10 in 1943. He later transferred to King’s College, Lagos, in 1944 where he was involved in a controversy leading to his brief imprisonment for assaulting a white British colonial teacher who humiliated a black woman.

At 13, his father sent him overseas to study in the United Kingdom, first at Epsom College and later at Lincoln College, Oxford University, where he earned a master’s degree in History. Ojukwu then returned to colonial Nigeria in 1956.

MILITARY CAREER

Ojukwu joined the military, against the wishes of his father, receiving his commission in March 1958, as a 2nd Lieutenant from Eaton Hall. He was one of the first and few university graduates to join the army as a recruit. Upon completion of further military training, he was assigned to the Army’s Fifth Battalion in Kaduna. Emeka Ojukwu’s background and education guaranteed his promotion to higher ranks. At that time, the Nigerian Military Forces had 250 officers and only 15 were Nigerians. After serving in the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Congo, under Major-General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojukwu was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1964 and posted to Kano, where he was in charge of the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army.

He was in Kano when the January 15, 1966 coup was executed.

EMEKA OJUKWU AS MILITARY GOVERNOR

On January 17, 1966, Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was appointed Military Governor of the Eastern Region. Four months later in May 1966, there was a pogrom in Northern Nigeria during which Nigerians of Eastern origin were targeted and killed. This presented problems for Emeka Ojukwu. He did everything in his power to prevent reprisals and even encouraged his people to return to the North, as assurances for their safety had been given by his supposed colleagues up north.

THE NORTHERN COUNTER-COUP

On July 29, 1966, a group of officers, including Majors Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, and Martin Adamu, led the majority of the Northern soldiers in a mutiny that later developed into a “counter-coup”. The coup failed in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria where Lieutenant-Colonel Emeka Ojukwu was the military Governor, due to the effort of the brigade commander and hesitation of Northern officers stationed in the region (partly due to the mutiny leaders in the East being Northern whilst being surrounded by a large Eastern population).

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The Supreme Commander General Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host, Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi were abducted and killed in Ibadan. On acknowledging Ironsi’s death, Ojukwu insisted that the military hierarchy be preserved. In that case, the most senior army officer after Ironsi, Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe, should take over leadership, not Colonel Yakubu Gowon (the coup plotters’ choice). However, the leaders of the counter-coup insisted that Colonel Gowon be made the Head-of-State.

Both Gowon and Ojukwu were of the same rank in the Nigeria Army then (Lieutenant-Colonel). Ogundipe could not muster enough force in Lagos to establish his authority as soldiers (Guard Battalion) available to him were under Joseph Nanven Garba who was part of the coup, it was this realisation that led Ogundipe to opt-out.

THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR

Thus, Emeka Ojukwu’s insistence could not be enforced by Ogundipe unless the coup plotters agreed (which they did not). The fallout from this led to a standoff between Emeka Ojukwu and Yakubu Gowon leading to the sequence of events that resulted in the Nigerian civil war, which lasted for 30 months.

After three years of non-stop fighting and starvation, a hole did appear in the Biafran front lines and this was exploited by the Nigerian military. As it became obvious that all was lost, Ojukwu was convinced to leave the country to avoid his certain assassination.

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On January 9, 1970, the Biafran leader handed over power to his second in command, Major-General Philip Effiong, and left for the Ivory Coast, where President Félix Houphouët-Boigny – who had recognized Biafra on May 14, 1968 – granted him political asylum.

RETURN FROM EXILE, LEGACY, AND DEATH

After 13 years in exile, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari granted an official pardon to Ojukwu and opened the road for a triumphant return in 1982.

Emeka Ojukwu could speak Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, English, French, and Latin fluently. Interestingly, during the civil war, he always slept with his boots on.

On November 26, 2011, Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu died in the United Kingdom after a brief illness. He was 78.

Source : Gossips Blog

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Biography of Musiliu Obanikoro

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Musiliu Olatunde Obanikoro (popularly known as Koro) is a Nigerian politician. He served as Senator for Lagos State from 2003–2007, and was later appointed High Commissioner to Ghana.

Background

Musiliu Olatunde Obanikoro was born in Lagos. He is from Bakare family of Ita-Ado in Lagos Island, Ikare and Ilashe in Amuwo Odofin Local Government of Lagos State, the Obanikoro (Ajayi-Bembe) family of Lagos and Idoluwole (Ojo Local Government of Lagos), and the Eletu-Odibo (Oshobile) family of Isale-Eko, Lagos. He attended Saint Patrick Catholic School, Idumagbo, Lagos and Ahmadiyya College (Anwar-ul/Islam College) Agege. He worked briefly as a Clerical Officer at LSHMBS, and at Union Bank as a Clerk before traveling overseas for further studies. While in the US, he attended Texas Southern University where he earned his B.Sc degree in Public Affairs and Master’s Degree in Public Administration (M. P. A).

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He served as an intern with Houston adult Probation Department, Houston, Texas. He worked as a social worker and later as the Head of the adolescent unit with Little Flower Children Service (an agency affiliated with New York City Department of Social Service). He is an honorary citizen of Glenarden, Maryland and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Early political career

He returned to Nigeria in 1989 and started his political career immediately. He was appointed as Caretaker Committee Chairman of Surulere Local Government (National Republican Convention); he was elected as the State Deputy Chairman (NRC); appointed by Governor Otedola’s administration as Director, LASBULK (Lagos State Bulk Purchasing Corporation); and member, Lagos State Football Association. He has served as Delegate to Local Government Congress, State Congress, and National Convention. He has also served as Elected State Secretary, Justice Forum. He was also the Chairman, Lagos Island Local Government. He was a national Executive member, Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) under the military government of General Sani Abacha.

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He was appointed State Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture in 1999 and served for four years before he was elected Senator of the Federal republic of Nigeria.

Later career

In April 2007 Musiliu Obanikoro ran for governor of Lagos State on the PDP ticket, but lost the election to Babatunde Fashola of the Action Congress. The election was marred by violence. In one incident, Musiliu Obanikoro was said to have narrowly escaped death in an armed attack on his car in Ikeja. His nomination as PDP candidate was controversial. Hilda Williams, widow of the murdered Engineer Funsho Williams, had been declared winner of the Lagos PDP primaries, but the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) led by Ahmadu Ali gave the ticket to Obanikoro. The disunited PDP under Bode George also lost the Lagos State Senate and all but one House of Representatives and 37 State House of Assembly seats to the AC.

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In a newspaper interview in July 2007, Obanikoro called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Lagos State, claiming that infrastructures and values had completely collapsed.

President Umaru Yar’Adua appointed Musiliu Obanikoro as Nigerian High commissioner to Ghana in May 2008.

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