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By Sunny Igboanugo, 08054103450, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have always been convinced that Malam Nuhu Ribadu is the worst thing that has happened to Nigerian politics since 1999.
Because there is a groundswell of opinion in the country that the former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) boss is the greatest thing to happen to Nigeria since the discovery of ugba and okporoko, amala and gbegiri or tuwo masara, I have done a lot of roforofofight because of this “unpopular” view and I naturally expect the stones to start flying as usual.
But, I believe that for a long time to come, Nigeria will continue to suffer the effects of the trauma of the Ribadu era as they manifest from time to time. One of them is last week’s Alamieyeseigha saga.
I really can’t understand the tirade being pelted on President Goodluck Jonathan in the last few days over the pardon for his former boss.
My view on the Alamieyeseigha story. He helped himself with public funds like his contemporaries; and like the thousands that are today shouting themselves hoarse are doing in their small positions; and like thousands more would, if they have the opportunity he had.
However, like the overfed nwanza, the bird, felt so confident to challenge his god to a wrestling duel, he defied the source of “real” power at that time, first on resource control and the infamous third term agenda, which was supposed to extend the tenure of the Aremu of Ota, apologies, General Theophilus Danjuma, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, which then decided to make an example out of him, apparently to discourage others.
Because it is almost as sure as death that virtually every Nigerian public officer will carry huge sums on each foreign trip, which the oyibos would always close their eyes to for obvious reasons, his traducers who must have been monitoring him needed only to finger him and use their immense connections to ensure his arrest.
However, their plan to keep him for a long time in London, blew in their face when the drama began to turn to a huge embarrassment to the British authorities. The highpoint was the appearance of Nigerian legal team before a judge handling the matter demanding the highest punishment for Alamieyeseigha. The utterly scandalised judge was said to have removed his glasses apparently to study the strange human species before him, because in his three decades at the bench, that was the first time he would hear such an outlandish request from a country, against the usual intervention on behalf of its citizen(s).
Of course, the needful was done. The gullible amongst us easily swallowed the story about the ex-governor making good his escape by beating the British security disguised as woman. Just that simple! Yet, this was the same security that effortlessly scuttled the well-crafted plan of the Israeli Mossad, a master in the business, to bring our own Alhaji Umaru Dikko home in a crate some years back. Naturally my naïve compatriots must have been too excited to find out how many of the obviously lousy security officials were punished for bringing such scandal and shame to the celebrated British system. But there was obviously none, because as we hear, it was the same British authorities that expelled the former governor from their domain, because they didn’t want to have anything to do with the uncanny drama.
However, those after the ex-governor’s head would not be deterred by this temporary setback. Back home, Ribadu and his gang moved in to complete the most devastating heist yet to be wrought on democratic ethos anywhere in the world.
Soon, the completely cowed members of the Bayelsa State legislature, who had been arrested and confined by a contingent of heavily-armed and red-eyed EFCC officials, some of them apparently reeking of Indian hemp and alcohol, as is wont with our security officials on such special missions, quickly acquiesced to the plan if only to save themselves further trauma. After all, is it not said that you point to the ruins of a brave man from the house of the coward? The result: Alamieyeseigha left the government house in handcuffs. Closing that chapter, a more telling one soon opened.
He was thrown into detention and the key locked in the deep fortress of Aso Rock. About two years later without bail and sure death inching closer by every passing hour, the Governor General of the Ijaw Nation was now completely softened up and quick to accept the only available option, earned for him by his people and sympathisers after several missions to Abuja and media work to plead on his behalf. Even with his military training as a former air force officer, the case of former member of the House of Representatives, Chief Maurice Ibekwe, who died in similar circumstances when Ribadu and his men refused to give him bail, was ample evidence that nobody was bluffing and prompted him to grab the opportunity of the plea bargain quickly before his traducers changed their mind.
Incidentally, this same Jonathan, not watched all these. But he was obviously hapless and powerless to lift a finger. Yes, doubtless, is the eventual beneficiary, but will the gods of Ijaw Nation spare him if he fails to do what he did now he has the opportunity? Certainly not with the guilt that must be tugging at his conscience, now he is the king, especially as he has quarreled with the former king, as recent events suggest and therefore ought to feel no further restrain.
In all, what is the lesson? If the Ribadu’s of this world had fought corruption instead of using the mantra as a tool for achieving a senseless, self-serving and evil political machination, as many, including his former soul-mate, Malam Nasir el-rufai, have confirmed, we probably would not be in the mess we are today. Perhaps, all the governors he told us were in his black book, including the one, whose sin “is of international dimension,” but whom he now worships at his feet, may have been convicted and the most sought-after surgery done to the psyche of public officers that it doesn’t pay to steal public funds.
We might not even have a Jonathan to grant anybody pardon.
Yes, I hate corruption, but the sin and effects of impunity, which Ribadu and his masters used to bring Nigeria to its current sorry pass, remain greater. That is why I’m casting my stone in that direction.