Saturday, November 23, 2013

General Adisa’s wife opens up: Life without husband’s benefits

It may as well be taken as pardon without benefits. That is the case
with Adenike, the widow of Lt. Col O.O. Akiyode, aide to the former
minister of communications, Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, who was
convicted for the 1997 'phantom' coup under the Abacha administration.
Akiyode died while still serving his prison term and before all those
also jailed for the controversial coup plot, including Lt. General
Oladipo Diya, Olanrewaju and the late Major General AbdulKarim Adisa,
were released courtesy of an amnesty proclamation in 1999 under the
Abdulsalami administration. They received presidential pardon on March
12, 2013 after the National Council of State (NCS) approved a list
presented to it by President Goodluck Jonathan. The implication of the
pardon is that the former convicts are to receive all their benefits
from the military authorities.
Eight months after, however, the pardon seems to be in vain as the
benefits are not forthcoming. A military source blamed the situation
on the Presidency which has since failed to gazette the pardon after
which the Army authorities would implement the payment. "Once the
gazette is out from the Presidency, the Army will formally invite all
those concerned to Abuja for documentation," the source said.
Meanwhile the beneficiaries are unhappy that it is taking too long for
the benefits to come. Two of them – Akiyode and Adisa – are dead.
Akiyode's widow, Adenike, went emotional over the issue when Sunday
Vanguard encountered her.
"He served his country faithfully. While others came back after
amnesty was granted to them in 1999, my husband died in prison",
Adenike lamented.
She spoke on the difficulties the family faces in the absence of the
payment of her husband's benefits by the authorities. "Since he
passed on, it has been difficult for me to take up the responsibility
of a bread winner with the little I receive from my job. I had to
struggle to pay our four children's school fees, the house rent, buy
clothes and feed the children. It is the assistance of some
God-fearing friends, well wishers and God's grace that sustains us.
The children, after their university education, are looking for job.
The past 14 years has been full of pains and sorrow with the absence
of our bread winner", the widow said.
"It was with great relief when we heard that the long awaited 'pardon'
has been granted to my husband and others. We waited for further
instructions about their gratuity and allowances but nothing has come.
I cannot but ask myself, `why did the government announce the pardon
when it is not ready to effect what it entails? My husband was used as
sacrifice for a better Nigeria, please pay what is due to him. I
believe President Goodluck Jonathan will use his good office to do the
necessary thing to alleviate the suffering of my family and others".
Speaking in the same vein, from the Adisa's GRA, Ilorin home, the late
major general's widow, Rahmat, said the family had written a letter to
call the attention of government to the delay in the implementation
of the pardon and payment of entitlements but that the authorities
replied that the gazette to that effect would be released. When the
gazette would be released and why it was being delayed, she did not
Her words: "Whatever anybody can do should be done to assist us on
this matter. Although we thank God we are eating as we don't have any
problem running helter-skelter, the truth stands out that what is due
as the entitlements of our bread winner, my husband, the late General
Abdulkarim Adisa, should be released to us.
"It is unfair that we are not getting these benefits but I do not know
whether the problem is from above or not. We even wrote a letter of
reminder to them but, up till now, nothing came out of it. They are
just telling us that we have to wait for the gazette.
"My appeal to Mr. President as the decider of all these things is that
he should help us to complete this process so that what is due to my
late husband and others in his group can once and for all relieve all
the pains resulting from these many years of no-salary. The President
said he would give us and I know he will, but I appeal that he should
expedite action on it".
Oputa Panel report
Also speaking for the family of Olanrewaju, his brother, Comrade Gabby
Adeagbo, said the pardon granted to the military officers involved in
the 1997 phantom coup had shown that Jonathan had listening ears to
the voice of the people as documented in the Oputa Panel report which,
in 2006, asked that they should be properly retired, granted state
pardon and paid their entitlements paid.
His words: "Definitely it is a big relief to the officers and their
respective families but it appears to be a pain in the neck of those
who see nothing good in any effort made by this government. Towards
the end of this year, there is a great concern about delay in the
implementation of the entitlements. Has the President done wrong
again? Sometimes questions are complicated and answers are simple.
If we could fight civil war and reconcile with the 'No victor, no
vanquished' slogan, if we could dialogue and formulate amnesty
programmes in order to eradicate militancy, then we can also implement
the policy that granted this pardon with entitlements of the pardoned
officers paid and then correct the past with 'To err is human to
forgive is divine' slogan. More importantly, if we spend so much time
thinking about a thing, we will never get it done.
"Any citizen of a country who volunteers his life to serve in the
armed forces is a genuine volunteer. And any country without a genuine
volunteer is bereaved of deepest concern to serve humanity. 30 years
of lengthy dedicated life to the service of our great country
especially as a war veteran must have taken the better of your life.
Despite the tribulation, clemency, reconciliation, and Justice Oputa
Panel recommendation, which overruled the previous illegality, it is
still a dedicated life to the service of our fatherland and the family
will continue to pray for our brother to be alive to reap the fruit of
his labour.
"What Nigerians and his family expect is the release of pardon and
payment of entitlements to all the officers involved in the phantom
coup because in the past sixteen years they could not have lived a
good life without that. Living a good life in any city in Nigeria
must be commensurate to your earnings especially for this class of
elites who have worked hard to attain high positions in the country.
In fact, the delay in the payment of the entitlements obviously
affects their contribution to the society, family and dependants. Be
that as it may, we thank the President and Commander-in-Chief of the
armed forces, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for the pardon and the same
time appeal to him to promptly effect payment of the entitlements."
A former military governor of old Western Region, Major-General
Adeyinka Adebayo, had, in July, called on Jonathan to complete the
pardon process, adding that what the officers were accused of, by
Abacha, was not a bad thing in the first place.
He said, "President Jonathan has started well by pardoning these
generals and I can only advise him to complete it by ensuring that the
gazette regarding their pardon is published on time so that the grey
areas due to conflicting media reports as to who and who have
benefited will be cleared and the generals will be restored finally to
their normal lives with full enjoyment of their entitlements. These
are generals that have contributed their quotas to the building of the
nation. Diya lives near me here. He is a good man; a good Yoruba man
both inside and outside the military. The same thing is General
Tajudeen Olanrewaju, the late General Adisa and others.
"In the first place, there was nothing they did that was bad as to
warrant that sentence. But we thank God now that the President has
done what is necessary and pardon has been issued. But I am also aware
that the army authorities have not been able to effect the release of
their entitlements because of either the delay in the release of the
gazette or that the Presidency has not officially informed them.
"This makes it necessary that President Jonathan should see this as a
major component of the laudable effort he is making in ensuring that
things get better in this country and he should cause all those
involved in the release of the gazette to do so without delay".
Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) leader, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi (rtd), said to
have been visible in the move to grant the pardon to the military
officers, declined comments when contacted on the delay in paying the
benefits to the beneficiaries. An eminent Nigerian, who spoke under
strict anonymity, however added a voice, saying, "It may be emphasized
that Mr. President might not have been aware of the stage that the
issue of this granting of pardon and its gazette publication has
reached, but when it is finally accomplished, it will be a fulfilment
in the lives of the affected officers and their families. And it
will definitely create necessary drive for any challenging task. It
will be a beacon of hope for these gentlemen of the Nigeria Armed
"As Nigerians they need to get back to work and compete to gain equal
access to opportunities that are available".

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