Continued from last week
Regardless, we must be emphatic in the pursuit of constructive engagement with the government. We are ever willing to follow the footsteps (and footprints) of our forefathers whose forte were compassion and generosity of spirit combined with genuine philanthropy. Why then would government devote so much venom, hostility and atrocities at their successors? The only choice we are left to exercise is endurance as a virtue with patience as its vital currency in and lubricant.
We have every reason to support the contours of greatness and the outline of exceptionalism which the government has promised to deliver but from what we have witnessed so far, we must plead for damage control.
We cannot discountenance the thorny legal issues as well as complex moral matters which have to be resolved regarding our legitimate heritage.
The easiest one to deal with is that of Chief J.K. Memorial Hall. Unless the government is able to prove that the title deed in the possession of the Trustees is a forgery, the case is closed.
As for both the Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool and the Love Garden, (now known as MUSON Centre) it is the government that must establish that the gift, donation, or bequest by late Dr. J.K. Randle was perfected in his life time or subsequent to his death and that it is irrevocable.
This conclusion is based on very sound legal opinion of both local and international lawyers who have emphasised further that by the very fact that the deemed gift is no longer being used for the purpose for which it was meant, it should revert to the estate of the benefactor/testator.
Even more glaring is the case of the “Love Garden” which a military government ostensibly acquired for public purposes and preceded to hand it over to a private organisation – The Musical Society of Nigeria. No compensation was paid. Hence, it was all a sham and an exercise in grotesque absurdity which are bound to render the arbitrary exercise of power null and void.
Furthermore, it is somewhat strange and self-serving on the part of the government to painstakingly insist on MUSON centre, which was constructed around 1989, being designated as a monument to be preserved while entirely ignoring the adjacent much older properties – Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool (1928); and Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall (1962).
The litany of transgressions and catalogue of atrocities by the government against the J.K. Randle are enough to serve as a handbook on unrequited love further compounded by unrelenting hostilities and heavy casualties. A random sample of the atrocities would serve as an illustration.
Perhaps we should add that the government has deliberately chosen not to acknowledge the fact that Dr. J.K. Randle was the founder of Nigeria’s first political party – the People’s Union (1908).
Even before that we have the following testimonial:
“As far back as 1898, Dr. John Kehinde Randle; Dr.Akinwande Savage; and Joseph Ephraim CaselyHayford (of the Gold Coast) the founders of the National Congress of British West Africa had begun to agitate for the Independence of Nigeria and the rest of West Africa.”
As if to add insult to injury, the government has never participate in any ceremony in honour of either Dr. J.K. Randle or Chief J.K. Randle regardless of the annual invitation to: Olympic Dinner, Swimming Competition, Memorial and Thanksgiving Service. This disdain and contempt even extended to the 60th Anniversary of the death of Chief J.K. Randle held on Saturday 17th December 2016.
Most galling of all is the recent vigorous endeavour to remind the government that about one hundred years ago, it was Dr. J.K. Randle who petitioned the then Colonial Government to build public toilets and waste disposal houses for the “natives” of Lagos who were excluded from “the European Quarters”. The Colonial Government refused. It was Dr. Randle who took it upon himself to build the public toilets with adjacent rubbish disposal houses (“Ile idalenu”) with his own money at various locations all over Lagos. Fortunately, some of them have survived the mendacity of gangsters who have converted them to lucrative private enterprises for themselves. They are still in existence at Cow Lane; ItaFaji; Igbosere Street; Amuto Street; Ajele Street; Iddo Motor Park; the Marina etc.
The singular act on the part of our progenitor is more than enough to persuade the government to institutionalise the Randle family as its permanent friend and ally. Alas, our detractors are hell bent on creating a wedge between the government and our family.
Our dilemma is that subsequent to the candour and transparency with which we have been dealing with and interacting with the government, we appear to have been lured into a false sense of security.
Hence, the belligerent posture and hostile actions by the government have caught us by surprise. We have been caught grossly underprepared to tackle the apparent determination of the government to dispossess us (or banish us into exile). We are in danger of being victimised, pauperised and eventually relegated to second class citizens or strangers on our own land.
As justification for their malice and resentment, our detractors must first of all establish that our inheritance was acquired by fraud or the proceeds of crime. This is clearly totally out of the equation. Therefore, government cannot impose penalty on our family on account of our ancestors devoting their zeal, energy and resources to the general Nigeria project (ESPECIALLY LAGOS as regards which they were spectacularly passionate).
It is indeed a most painful irony that no other family has been the victim of this relentless asphyxiation. On the contrary, virtually all the leading families have not only been able to protect their property, they have extended their domain through sand filling and reclamation without let or hindrance. To put matters bluntly, if the properties/land in question belonged to the dominant politicians, military/security chieftains and business tycoons/moguls would government have sent in the demolition squad first and thereafter resort to subterfuge and intimidation?
Both local and international lawyers have conveyed to us their battlement over what appears to be total disregard of the Land Use Act of 1978 by the government in the manner it has dealt with the Randle family.
However, we remain convinced that our ancestors were highly principled and never tarnished their integrity. We cannot be expected to compromise or contaminate the genetic code by any act of omission or commission.
Consequently, we must remain steadfast in the diligent and lawful pursuit of our projects in memory of our ancestors. We can afford to take a long-term position as we have up till 28th FEBRUARY 2028 when the 100 YEARS Anniversary of Dr. J.K. Randle will, God willing, be celebrated by the Randle family and the government.
The government is fully aware of the complaints/petitions of Chief J.K. Randle family regarding the following properties:
- Shell Club at AdeniranOgunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos
- Nigerian Ports Authority Sports Club, Abebe Village, Surulere, Lagos
- 286 Acres of land at Alausa (including the Secretariat of Lagos State Government)
- Land at Agidingbi, Isheri, Lagos.
We are yet to be favoured with any positive response.
We are equally bewildered by the sheer scale of plunder and pillage inflicted by the Office of The Administrator-General, over several decades, on the Estate of late Chief J.K. Randle particularly his bequests to:
- Ahmaddiya College, Agege, Lagos
- Ansarudeen College, Isolo, Lagos
- Faji School, Lagos
- Holy Cross School, Lagos
- Federation of Boys and Girls Club.
The amounts involved run into hundreds of millions of naira. What is truly amazing is the non-acknowledgement of the donations as well as lack of evidence of the purposes for which the funds were utilised (development of Sports and education as specified by the Testator). To further compound matters, the government / Administrator-General insist that they have no obligation to account for how much was collected or how the money was spent !!
J.K. Randle, OFR; FCA