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Friday, 22 September 2017

IT TAKES A GREAT DEAL OF COURAGE NOT TO BE DISCOURAGED - By Bashorun J.K. Randle, OFR; FCA

When very senior officials of the government took it upon themselves to convene a meeting with a Trustee of the Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall [instead of meeting with all the three Trustees] six months after the iconic edifice at Onikan, Lagos was demolished by the government on 24th September 2016 without any prior notice / warning or demolition order, the ringing of alarm bells was inevitable.

Indeed, considering the maze of aggressive and punitive measures inflicted by the government on the J.K. Randle family over several decades, rather than merely ring the alarm bells, we are now compelled to recognise that the red line has been crossed by our tormentors. Nothing is sacred. What we are entitled to expect from government is a fulsome apology and offer of prompt remedy combined with an undertaking never to trespass or invade the property.

For the government to engage in a brazen attempt to “divide and rule” the Trustees is a huge disservice to the frank and courteous manner we have conveyed to the government the elongated catalogue of injuries we have suffered for no reason other than we have sought to protect and preserve the sacred heritage bequeathed to us by our illustrious ancestors.

Not only has it been firmly established, (even by past Commissioners of Justice and Attorney-General) that the land on which the hall was built is properly 2 vested vid a 99- year lease between The Government of The Federation of Nigeria and the Trustees of the J.K. Memorial Fund. The lease is dated 9th June 1962. It was duly registered on 25th July 1962 as Title No LO4514 as evidenced by the Lagos State Land Registry Certificate. Therefore, the government cannot just wake up and proceed to demolish private property for whatever reasons to serve its own purpose without due process and compliance with the law. That is the recipe for chaos and anarchy.

While we were still struggling to come to terms with the demolition of Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall, the government had tasted blood and immediately pounced on the adjoining property – the Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool, which was the private property of late Dr. J.K. Randle, a pioneer medical practitioner [1855 to 1928]. We should be forgiven for wondering why government should be so eager to commit its resources to a business which would be better consummated by private enterprise.

In a democracy, the government has no business in business!! Rather, government should confine its energies and resources to far more pressing social necessities – schools, hospitals, roads, security, etc. On our own, we had applied to the government for approval to construct a befitting edifice to replace the old Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the demise of Chief J.K. Randle who died on 17th December 1956.

Unknown to us, the non-responsiveness of government was a deliberate ploy to frustrate us in order to clear the way for its own hidden agenda. Similarly, ahead of the 90th Anniversary of the death of Dr. J.K. Randle on 28th February 1928, our plan is to commence the building of a brand new Swimming Pool and specialist hospital on the site of the old Swimming Pool. Again, government is determined to frustrate us.

What have we or our ancestors done to incur the wrath of government stretching back over six decades? The list of totally undeserved aggravations, violations, invasions and confiscations is as long as it is inexplicable. The “Case File” has been forwarded to the highest level of government but there is no response.

Consequently, the situation with which the J.K. Randle family is faced with calls for the highest degree of maturity, diplomacy, tact and strategic thinking that extends to (and embraces) RISK ASSESSMENT / RISK MANAGEMENT. This cannot but commence with the professional valuation of the Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall; the Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool and the adjacent former “Love Garden” now known as the MUSON Centre, which was also the property of Dr. J.K. Randle.

Fortunately, we have at the highest level of government seasoned chartered accountants who are well versed in OPPORTUNITY COST as well as COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS. Hence, the J.K. Randle family cannot reasonably be expected to surrender exceptionally valuable (and unique) land for a project in which they would have neither equity nor reversionary rights. Indeed, we are not even privy to the project scope; design; Business Plan; Budget; Feasibility Report; Return On Investment; Financial Modelling; econometrics etc.

As regards the management of the project when completed, we are completely in the dark. Of course we are vaguely aware that the project contemplated by government is meant to attract tourists to Lagos. We have no idea of the magnitude of the expected revenue. In any case, owing to the escalating number of global terrorist attacks against tourists (and other soft targets), most countries are compelled to review (or revise downwards) their investment in tourism as well as the potential damage in the event of a fresh wave of kidnapping of tourists or bombing of tourism sites/venues. Hence, tourism is probably shifting from ‘’Diamond’’ status to ‘’Gold’’ or ‘’Silver’’ status.

It bears repetition that our ancestors were champions of goodwill and love to all; malice and hatred to none. This automatically raises the question which must be vigorously addressed: What is different now? The answer is partially provided by the cynical ploy to create division amongst the Trustees of Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall.
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 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 6 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 Casely Hayford (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 participated 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; Ita Faji; 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).

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 being devoted with zeal, energy and resources to the general NIGERIA project plus 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 sandfilling 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 bewilderment over what appears to be total disregard of the Land Use Act of 1979 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 compromised 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

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