Meanwhile, as Nigerians enacted various scenes in the melodrama of the President’s private life, I spent part of the weekend attending birthday parties. Hajia Bola Shagaya, former banker turned oil industry magnate and leading entrepreneur was 60. She had a party in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory on Thursday and another party for the Lagos crowd on Saturday. I attended the Lagos party which was held at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre. This was a party that showed class, influence and relevance. It was one of those don’t-miss-it parties.
Anybody who is somebody was there: an indication of the scope and extent of the influence, impact, and reach of the celebrant, who in more than two decades has become one of the leading lights of the Nigerian political, social, and business establishment. Not many know about her involvement in politics, but in Kwara State, she is one of the major political influencers even if she chooses not to advertise the scope of her influence publicly on the national stage. Many politicians in that state owe their ascendancy to her support and influence. The Bola Shagaya that I know is a very humble and kind woman, affable and approachable, and very prayerful. As Presidential spokesperson, she was a strong behind-the-scene pillar of support for me. She would always call to guide me or draw my attention to certain developments within the crazy space of Nigerian politics. She also supported my family. When my son Richard was born she came visiting, not minding our humble abode. She is a mentee and role model to generations of young women who look up to her. She is an absolutely wonderful woman, a good citizen and an asset to the Nigerian community. She deserves to be celebrated. Congratulations, Hajia. Long may you live!
I left the Shagaya party at a little after midnight, but by noon on Sunday, I was at yet another 60th birthday party: that of my friend and brother, DIG Taiwo Lakanu. Taiwo turned 60 last week Friday and was pulled out of the Police Force. On Sunday, his wife and children threw a special birthday party for him. Lakanu, the Aare Akogun of Lagos is one of those rare persons anyone would wish to know. He is that kind of friend that everyone must have. He is loyal, frank, straightforward and very dependable. I must have written tons of articles criticizing the Nigeria Police and policemen in the last 30-something years but Taiwo Lakanu is exceptional. He is a good ambassador of the Nigeria Police and one of the finest officers I have ever met. It is not surprising that he has distinguished himself in every posting that he has had: from being Head of SARS and DPO in Lagos, SA to IGP Tafa Balogun, to Ekiti to Imo to the Headquarters in Abuja. There is even a street named after him in Imo State! I had nursed the hope that he would one day become Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police because he has all it takes: the knowledge, the operations experience, the intellect, the personality, the social network and the right attitude. But now, he is 60 and in line with the rules, they have sent him home. Akogun of the Universe, salute!... Great tour of duty…I believe Nigeria can still make use of his talent. As he starts a new life as a retired DIG, a lawyer and an expert, we wish him well.