Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu will, tomorrow, deliver the Nnamdi Azikiwe University convocation lecture at the institution’s 11th convocation ceremony. The lecture, titled Leadership and the challenges of national unity in Nigeria holds at the university auditorium by 1:00pm. Ribadu was the pioneer EFCC chairman, the government…
I’m not one of those who are spreading false news of death about our president. And this is not because I thought we were electing a prize bull when we opted for a 73-year-old retiree in March 2015. Rather, I believe that PMB is more useful to me alive than dead. I want him to stay alive and healthy to hear all my complaints about his government – which explains why I don’t even want anything untoward happening to his ears. If he says we must starve, it is only fair that providence preserves his ears to face the torture of our whinings and the rumblings of our empty stomachs. Deafness would be too good a pleasure for PMB to enjoy at this point in time. So, Mr. President must hear this!
For Buhari, therefore, death is not an option. He can’t possibly drag us deeper into this national mess – which, they say, was started by Goodluck Jonathan, and then take the easy way out, by dying. PMB must live o! His fundamental human right does not include the right to die. He is now like the proverbial debtor, who must continue to enjoy the prayers of his creditor, because he has to live to be able to pay.
But, before I go off track, I must begin today with an unreserved apology to readers of Franktalk, for my sudden disappearance for two straight weeks.
I don’t want to bore you readers with the reason for my absence, but I pray that none of you ever experience what my family and I went through in the 12 horrid days between Friday, January 13 and Wednesday, January 25, 2017.
I also pray that every one of us would have cause to glorify the Almighty, even in the face of seeming adversity.
Of course, I still find time to laugh about it all. In fact, despite that aides of President Muhammadu Buhari (like my boss, Femi Adesina, the Inspector General of Police, the DSS and all) have always rallied support, I still tease them that all the dividends I’ve got from the CHANGE regime are two armed robbery attacks and two kidnaps.
Of course, I’ve heard all manner of theories, permutations and suggestions – and in some instances, come close to questioning God. But I’ve managed to remain true to my beliefs: That God never told me there would be no trials and tribulations, but that He would see me through them and I’ll overcome every temptation. He has remained faithful. So, I have stopped asking that inevitable question: “Why always me?”
Rather, I now take joy in the fact that at every low point, the Almighty raises helpers for me, and personally intervenes at some point.
Also, I remember friends and relations and colleagues, who only emerged from similar travails in body bags and designer coffins. And I thank God. I remember acquaintances that had to go dig up the remains of their loved ones in shallow graves in the middle of some forest, after paying huge ransoms.
I remember people who fainted, and passed on at the sound of a gun that only blew off their headgears. I remember the man who had a heart attack (and died) right where robbers held him at gunpoint in his own house. None of that was my lot. My God always leaves some room for me to praise Him.
But the mortal man in me is still unhappy. I’m unhappy because, just as I was rejoicing, an old acquaintance of mine, Chief Ben Onyechere, was being killed in Owerri. I’m particularly pained because I was still angry with the Ben and was looking forward to when I would meet him and give him a piece of my mind. Now, I’ll never have that opportunity again – at least, not on this side of creation.
Incidentally, I met Ben when I was Political Editor of THISDAY. A mutual friend, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu (my publisher), had put in a favourable word for him on a particular project he was finding hard pushing through the media. I hardly knew Ben then, but I and a few colleagues of mine in other media houses obliged (and indulged him) in deference to OUK.
I was, therefore, taken aback when, on securing a job with then Governor T.A. Orji of Abia State some years later, Ben (a fellow Imolite) began to say unimaginable things about OUK, his erstwhile benefactor.
I know Ben had moved on from our previous altercations, which was why he called me to seek further assistance, in the same Sun Newspaper published by OUK, without any reference to his past ‘transgressions’. That’s the stuff Nigerian politicians are made of – always changing.
Incidentally, a few days before Ben was murdered, Owerri, the Imo State capital, was in the news, again for the wrong reason. Members of an armed robbery and kidnap gang stormed the premises of a court in the heart of the state’s seat of power to free their gang leader, who was standing trial. In a Hollywood-movie style, they shot their way through police and prison warden cordons, whisked their leader – also known as Vampire, into a waiting SUV, and drove off. This is the same Vampire said to be notorious for killing his hostages, even after collecting ransom from their families.
I still haven’t confirmed the casualty figure of that daylight dare-devilry, but the commando-style operation is one that should raise suspicion of duplicity on the side of both the police and the prison wardens. This is more so, giving the fact that a lawyer friend once told me of how a kidnap suspect, detained in the same Owerri prison, kept threatening him through phone calls from right inside prison custody. There are also murmurs about how convicted and awaiting-trial criminals enjoy unfettered access to telephones right inside that prison. What this means is that criminal kingpins are able to run their gangs from inside the prison. This can only explain why such operation, as witnessed on January 26 could have been pulled off. Or how could a criminal, whose arrest was said to have been finally effected by the DSS (after everyone else had failed) suddenly walk away from under the very nose of policemen and prison officials, is a rather questionable ‘arrangee’ escape? Some people, definitely, owe us all an explanation. That is the only way we can arrest the looming security anarchy in Owerri. For Owerri happens to be the only tourist destination in the entire South-east for now. It is also the only APC-controlled state in the zone. And Gov. Rochas Okorocha has remained a committed party man. If President Muhammadu Buhari is angry with Ndigbo for voting Jonathan in 2015 and, therefore, determined to ignore everything that would favour them, I think he should spare a thought for Imo. He should remember that security and insecurity does not begin and end with Boko Haram and the North-east. Even though PMB is desperate to take a trophy for battling insecurity, he must realise that kidnapping, the ubiquitous herdsmen of Agatu, Southern Kaduna and Enugu as well as oil pipeline vandals, are all manifestations of the same insecurity. Meanwhile, there is also a Sambisa in Lagos- Ogun axis. It is called Ikorodu and Arepo.
So, Mr. President, you can’t afford to be sick o! Just get well quick and come and carry your load! Leave Osibanjo and Saraki out of it. We will call them when their turn comes.