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Veteran journalist begs Sanwo-Olu on pension, predecessor’s promises

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
17 July 2022   |   2:45 am
A veteran journalist with the defunct Lagos Weekend Newspaper, Elder Oluwole Falodun, has appealed to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to fulfil the promises made by his predecessor

Says He has Paid His Dues

A veteran journalist with the defunct Lagos Weekend Newspaper, Elder Oluwole Falodun, has appealed to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to fulfil the promises made by his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode to elevate his standard of living.

The 79 year-old journalist, who became blind in 1996, was in 2016 given an ultra-modern three-bedroom flat at a highbrow area in the state and a reasonable amount of money to furnish the house. He was also placed on pension till he dies, while his son, who was studying at the Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Akure, Ondo State, was also offered scholarship for his undergraduate education.

Falodun


In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Falodun said since Governor Sanwo-Olu assumed office in 2019, he has not been able to access the pension, adding that it was only through the intervention of the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso that he was fortunate to get a positive response last year.

“Through the intervention of Omotoso, the state government continued with the pension in July 2021 till last April, but most times, the payment is not constant and I’ll have to beg before the money is sent. At times, Omotoso sends the money from his pocket. Another issue is that the pension has been reduced drastically, without the arrears of the months owed.

“I cannot blame the governor for this, I think there was no record on the ground when he assumed office. I think Ambode was paying the pension through his security vote,” he said.

In July 2015, just two months after he assumed office, the former Governor, Ambode, learnt about the pitiable plight of Falodun on the pages of newspapers and got his contact from the newspaper house, after which a representative was sent to him.

Falodun with the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, while in Radio Nigeria as a Correspondent.


The gestures put an end to 17 years of endless wait for assistance from the state government.

The travail of the former correspondent of Radio Nigeria and Daily Times, who was writing the popular Wakabout column for many years, started around 1995 when he developed an eye problem, which was diagnosed as glaucoma.

He decided to get rid of the problem and was assisted to undergo the surgery in Israel. But he insisted on having the surgery done in Nigeria, not knowing that the decision would be his undoing.

Falodun finally settled for the General Hospital in Marina, Lagos, but in the process of the surgery, he became blind. According to him, after an error during the procedure, the doctor, who presumably was unaware of it travelled out of the country without handing over his case to other doctors. Before her return, there was no solution to the issue anymore.

When Tinubu assumed office in 1999, he was approached and the former governor promised to do something to assist Falodun, but could not fulfill his promise till he left office.

On assumption of office, former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola was reminded of the promise, but like his predecessor, Tinubu, for his eight years reign, Fashola could not fulfill the promise too.

But when he heard about his plight on assumption of office, Ambode took a bold step to break the jinx and during his short stint in office, he put smiles on the face of the man. “He sent an emissary to me through whom he got to know what his predecessor promised. He gave me keys and documents to the ultra-modern three-bedroom flat, money to furnish the house and the scholarship for my son who had only two years left in school, and the monthly pension. Though the scholarship of N500, 000 for the final year was approved, I have not received it till date.

“Part of the promises made to me then was to give my son automatic employment after graduation. I want Governor Sanwo-Olu to fulfil this promise. I want the N500, 000 scholarship that was approved for my son to be paid. I also want my pension to be returned to status quo ante, likewise, payment of arrears owed since Ambode left office.

“It is proper and honourable to honour heroes when they are alive, rather than when they are dead. President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated me through a letter when I clocked 75 five years ago, but the governor has not granted me audience or remembered me.”

Falodun, who will be 80 in November, was appointed a board member of the Lagos State Sports council by the Olagunsoye Oyinlola regime. During his stint in office, the state came first at the Makurdi and Owerri sports festivals in 1994 and 1996 respectively.

As the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Anglican Church, Lagos, he initiated taking of photography during service, an initiative that has since been adopted across the country. He also held many positions and made indelible impacts in his career and Christendom.

Falodun, who noted that Nigeria is not a secular state as believed by many, revealed that contrary to the recent celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), he said the CAN was created 46 years ago.

“CAN is an offshoot of the Christian Council of Nigeria that was inaugurated in the year 1929. On August 27, 1976, the then head of state, His Excellency, General Olusegun Obasanjo under the auspices of the Christian Council of Nigeria summoned a meeting of Church leaders to Dodan Barracks to discuss the way forward for the Church in Nigeria…That was the year CAN was formed.”

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