By Akin Osuntokun
Against the background of his long medical emergency sojourn in the United Kingdom, UK, sudden announcements of the like of the departure of a 10-day working leave\medical vacation\technical stop-over (and other fanciful euphemisms) of President Mohammadu Buhari to London has become the trademark of his incumbency. The British government and British airways owe the president a debt of gratitude for this free marketing promotion. So smitten with London is our president that he receives, accepts and echoes whatever condescending punditry on Nigeria that issues forth from British soil, with childlike innocence and adoration.
It was in London that the president junked his rhythmical ‘corruption will kill Nigeria’ mantra in deference and preference for the more swanky ‘fantastically corrupt nation’ byline of former British Prime Minister David Cameron. On another quick return to the British capital he further obliged his British patron’s dim view of Nigeria with the quite impressive denigration of Nigerian youths as congenitally lazy. Perhaps all this fawning subservience is in subconscious gratitude and appreciation for the wonders of British medical technology that wrought his ‘miraculous’ restoration to fair health.
The backdrop to the latest London junket was the snowballing political crisis generated by the bloody nose that the blundering Buhari\APC apparatchik suffered in the political skirmish with the Bukola Saraki camp. In blind fury, the ruling party soon regrouped and went for broke-with the trash talking Adams Oshiomhole lashing out at anyone and anything in sight. Such that when you think Nigeria has reached the nadir of political banditry, you are treated to a rude awakening with a tumble in the gutter escalation of the political outrage.
And so, while President Buhari was conveniently attending the ECOWAS meeting in neighbouring Benin, seven members of the Benue State House of Assembly, chaperoned and empowered by the complicit Ibrahim Idris led Nigerian police, were suspending the other 22 members in order to serve a notice of impeachment on the Benue State governor. This being the punishment for committing the sacrilege of defecting to the PDP-as if he had any choice if he were truly the elected leader of a people suffering genocidal attrition under the dubious watch of the APC government. As the situation simmers and the evidence of the take-no-prisoners collusion of the APC government mounts, off to London again the president took flight. What manner of president is he who can be this detached from the catastrophic plight of the Benue people to the point of malicious indifference? And then the PDP predicted as follows:
‘The Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) has alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari’s two-week vacation in London is designed as an alibi to exonerate him from the planned political illegalities, forceful invasion and mayhem about to be visited on the polity and particularly, the National Assembly. The party is aware of perfected plots between the presidency and some unpatriotic All Progressives Congress (APC) senators to forcefully reconvene the Senate with protection of the security agencies, with a view to impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. The PDP knows that the desperation to illegally take control of the National Assembly is part of the design to undermine our democratic institutions and completely foist a dictatorial regime. The invasion is also in the bid to cover the atrocities and humongous corruption of the Buhari administration, which the National Assembly is set to expose’. And the Presidency responded with characteristic hypocritical disdain:
“Claims by the failing PDP that President Muhammadu Buhari had taken a token 10-day leave in order to leave the stage for illegal and unconstitutional actions by the administration are both ridiculous and a hollow narrative to garner cheap sympathy. We welcome objective criticism and take them seriously and humbly, but Nigerians must by now be tired of a party, the stock in trade of which is to cry wolf where there is none, ostensibly to spread negativity and distract the president’s attention from the cleansing operations he has been mandated carry out’.
And then on the following Tuesday, August 7, 2018, the treasonous state security siege on the National Assembly confirmed the prediction of the PDP and put the lie to the prior disclaimer of the Presidency.
THE AKPABIO SYNDROME II
As indicated in the title above, this column has a history with Senator Godswill Akpabio-and it dates back to June 2014. That was the date he got the Akwa Ibom State assembly to legislate an annual medical allowance of N10million as post governorship incumbency remuneration for him. I had characterised the Nigeria-wide typicality of this propensity for wanton corruption as pathological behaviour bordering on public service corruption syndrome in Nigeria. Corruption in the Nigerian public life has attained a magnitude that is beyond rationality and sense of proportion-requiring the pronouncement of the prognosis of pathological condition.
‘It is within the pathology of this syndrome that we may begin to understand Governor Akpabio when he dismissed as laughable public outrage at the scandalous news of committing Akwa Ibom to the penance of expending over N100 million annual pension (and God knows what other creature opulence) on him till death does them apart. Pray what is laughable or inconsequential about paying any Nigerian public official over a N100 million emolument a year’-I noted four years ago.
It has become fairly apparent that Akpabio is a man of destiny. Following the public office obsession culture of the contemporary Nigerian political elite and while serving out the lame duck months of his governorship, he, without let, corralled the next best political office opportunity within his reach and power-the Senate. He was always going to be unique among the 2015 class of newly elected Senators. From the enabling of his two-term governorship of one of the richest Nigerian states, he logically evolved to become a formidable political financier. It should be taken for granted that beginning with Akwa Ibom State, sundry elected officials across the length and breadth of Nigeria owe the settlement of their political expenses to the munificence of his deep pockets. He would of course be a major financier of the PDP and following the dictum of who pays the piper, he, along with a few other well appointed members, called the shots in the party. Hence the office of the minority party (PDP) leader in the Senate was his for the taking.
After leaving office as governor and tens of billions richer, the routine and standard career detour was for the former to become a client of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This phase, in the life of former governors, plays out interminably in the courts and can drag on for years with occasional spats in the media. The general rule is that those of them who belong to the opposition party are utilised as low hanging fruits in the target practice of the cynical and selective propaganda war against corruption. Exchange of cash and other valuables through opaque plea deals and self-imposed media censorship have also proven to be measures that could facilitate relegation from the status of suspect to just a person of interest. In the haphazard post incumbency public accountability reckoning of Nigerian politically exposed personalities, the speculations above seemed, to a large extent, to be the career pattern of Akpabio since he left office as governor.
Another worthy of mention aspect of his post governorship incumbency life-which none of them wants but nonetheless follows a general trend is the puzzling typical phenomenon of the rapid and irreparable breakdown of the relationship between predecessor (godfather) and successor. Haven staked a major interest in this phenomenon (I wrote two columns on it titled ‘the rebellion of the godsons’) I was full of anticipation on how this might play out in the potential governorship of Professor Kolapo Eleka in Ekiti State. It was going to be a unique instance-there being no Nigerian precedent for the manner in which the candidacy of a (would be) successor was totally submerged in the personality of the predecessor the way Eleka was subservient to Governor Ayo Fayose. My projection was that given the unrestrained and impulsive power mania of the latter, it would prove the shortest twosome affair-never mind the vaunted meekness of the former.
Other than Delta and Kwara States, I cannot readily fathom any other state where the mentor-mentee bond or bondage has withstood the test of time. The Kwara instance is of particular interest because if any godfather deserves the retribution of Nemesis, none should deserve it more than a son who betrayed his father on whom he rode to become a godfather himself. But maybe there is a countervailing mitigation at play here. After serving eight years as governor, was it proper for Bukola Saraki to yield the governorship to his junior sister who was a serving Senator from the same state? Rightly so, Akpabio was not this lucky with his protégé successor, Emmanuel Udom. In the tradition of the seed time-harvest time reciprocity, he has been made to reap the harvest of the same seed of disloyalty he sowed when he put his godfather-mentor, Victor Attah, to the sword. Those who live by sword, die by the sword.
Akpabio is in the news again and equally for the wrong reasons. He has bucked the trend of the repudiation of a political party that now embodies all that is conspicuously wrong with Nigeria. In deserting the PDP for the APC, he is the latest evidence or casualty of the political duplicity that the APC has foisted on Nigeria-suffer any politically useful corrupt opposition politician come onto Buhari and his sins would be forgiven. He had become such a political priority that the two furtive principal actors in the unfolding tragicomedy (Akpabio and Buhari) cannot wait the 10 days that was scheduled for the latter to return home, to consummate their unholy matrimony. Or maybe the indecent haste will begin to make sense if we subject it to the logic of the role earmarked for him in the abortive Tuesday invasion of the National assembly. In which case, he, perhaps, needed to go to London to receive his marching orders. Yet the president is running for reelection on the platform of fighting corruption. What a farce.
– This piece was written by Akin Osuntokun/Thisday