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…
Brothers and sisters, if you are or have ever been a local government councilor or chairman, a commissioner, a special assistant, a senior special assistant, a governor, a minister, an honourable member of the House of Representatives, a distinguished senator, a president and commander-in-chief of the Naija Armed Forces, then this epistle is for you. I bring you great tidings from my sumptuous lair in Oghara. And I decree that it shall be well with us who have been chosen by a variety of deities, godfathers and other powers and elevated to the rank of major steakholders in this great country called Naija. Amend the previous sentence; it is well with us.
I won’t rehash my adventures of the past seven or so years, as you are all familiar with that narrative. As you all know, last Saturday, I made my triumphant return to our blessed country after years of languishing in a jail in that gray kingdom where women genuflect and men bow to a Queen. On my arrival at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, our country’s top security officials rolled out the red carpet, a gesture befitting a man of my distinction. They told me that our great country, on account of my prolonged absence, has suffered untold hardship and certainly missed the clarity of vision I could have brought to move us forward.
But the warm welcome in Abuja was nothing compared to the paroxysm of ululation, dancing and shrieks of celebration that met me when my flight landed in the state where, since 1999, I have been the undisputed number one steakholder.
Brothers and sisters, you have heard it said that the people of the gray kingdom locked me up for engaging in massive money laundering. Like all great personages of history – the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and Madiba Nelson Mandela – I kept silence, as my enemies spread malicious falsehood about me. It was not for nothing that my childhood friends often called me Innocent or Pius. The truth is that I was, am and will ever remain innocent of the charges against me.
I can sense, brothers and sisters, that some of you are curious and consternated. You’re wondering, “Innocent? Then why did he plead guilty? Why did he, the Fearless Fang among all steakholders, not put up a semblance of a defence in the Queen’s court?”
I will tell you. And I shall make it plain, as my hero Malcolm X entreated.
You see, I decided to go to jail for crimes I never committed because I felt this Christ-like calling to submit myself to be crucified. I desired to suffer, and to suffer mightily, for the sake of you all. For your sake, divinely mandated steakholders of Naija, I decided to take on my stout shoulders the cross of ridicule, of all kinds of indignity, of incarceration. Like such noble fellow comrades of struggle as the Great Zik and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, I was willing to take on the British yoke, to bear the trials and tribulations as well as the legendary spite inflicted on me by the English. I did it that the rest of you might continue to hold your god-given steak and to savour said steak without British let or hindrance.
Beloved Naija steakholders, in a few words, I, as a proud son of the Delta, opted to march proudly to jail rather than protest and demonstrate my innocence. Had I decided to contest the charges against me, I could have easily demolished them. I could have smashed my British accusers to miserable bits right there and then in their own courts. Were you all not witnesses to what I did to the EFCC? Were you not witnesses to how, like the political savant I am, I clinically, methodically, dismantled accusation after accusation the EFCC had made against me.
If I could deconstruct more than 100 traps laid for me by that fox called Nuhu, at the behest of his Baba, do you imagine for a moment that I would not have easily swatted away accusations heaped on me by oyibo mosquitoes? Fellow steakholders, ejor, leave matter!
I decided to go to that British prison as one goes to school. After all, remember that, when I was done vanquishing Nuhu, I helped recommend him to become a student at Kuru near Jos. A few of us steakholders felt that the young man needed to learn manners. We concluded that he was deficient for the job Baba gave him. We wanted him to master such subjects as the philosophy, art, sociology and ethics of steak acquisition, steakholding and steak consumption. The young man learned so much at Kuru that the people at Oxford invited him there!
Members of the great fraternity of steakholders, that’s one of the reasons I shined my eyes and volunteered to go to that British jail. Some of you may not know it, but a jail offers a sounder education than all the Harvards and Oxfords and Sorbonnes of the world put together!
Proud steakholders, it’s only ignoramuses who think I went to jail. I am here to inform you, since it’s unseemly to hold a steak and be ignorant at the same time, that I actually outwitted the British at their game. If I had asked them to find me a spot at Oxford or Cambridge, they would have turned up their lips and done inyanga for me. So, I used “Delta cunny” to finagle admission to their greatest institutions of higher learning: The jail. I went to that school for you all and for me. I went to study the British system of steakholding, to discern what makes their people so gray, their politicians so content with poverty.
Beloved, can you believe that the British Prime Minister’s earnings are less than 150,000 pounds sterling? That means that any of our local government chairmen can hire the PM as a special adviser – no problem!
Here’s a summary of what I learned. The British are poor spellers, and I’m not talking about the American gripe with words like centre and manoeuvre. I found it hilarious that they spell stakeholders instead of steakholders! I learned that this major misspelling was at the heart of the British case against me, the chorus in the British media that I was a money launderer.
The British accusations made me laugh. Let me ask you, brethren: Does it make sense to accuse a man of stealing what belonged to him? I ask again, brethren: Is it possible to be a steakholder and not chomp down the steak? With all their vaunted learning, how come the British never heard about the great ancient philosopher called Barkin Zuwo, who uttered the classic and unassailable treatise that government cash was best kept in the governor’s living quarters, aka Government House?
I invited the British guild of editors to appoint some of their number to accompany me home. I wanted them to see the crowds of adorers, who venerate me, who pulled their shirts and lay them on the ground that my noble feet might tread them. Are our people demented? Would they worship me so if I stole their money, if they were not certain that all I did was eat my divinely allotted steak?
Brethren, I found the British to be a bizarre lot. Take it from one who studied them from the inside out.
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