– The Sun News

Okoi Obono Obla : And the bridge burner hangs on the cliff

By Chidi Obineche

A seething cauldron in the corridors of the anti- vice battle hugged the headlines last Monday when the head of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SIPRPP) Okoi Obono Obla stirred unease by bagging a scathing disavowal from the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF Abubakar Malami based on an earlier letter from the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.  The vice president had in the said letter complained about the activities of the panel for allegedly breaching  Civil Service established administrative procedures and protocols.

The open strident reprimand, which ambivalently reeled in undertones ably redefined the role of  Obla who is also the special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on prosecution, and a key figure in the anti-corruption battle of the administration. Over time, Obla’s glib tongue has run over with loquacious ejaculations. Stealthily, he has emerged with impassioned grace as the bold face of the anti-vice- battle, quick with a punch,  a reply and a domino quirk.

He got words in edgeways and perhaps stoked fire in convention land. Among the rapacious Change czars of this regime, Obla ranks high in the estimation of many who view their job in the realm of grandstanding and fixing the loose nuts in an increasingly wobbling society. He spells character, desires action, instills looks, drives words and imagines what steps people should take.

He thrashes the form commonly known that “Only dumb people are happy.  He fantasizes in his Eldorado filled with upright and “correct” people. But he forgets the counsel of Johaan Kaspar Lavater declared centuries ago that, “He knows not how to speak who cannot keep quiet.”  He sees every new day as a chance to change something and it burns in his mind.

He saw meaning and not words in the Change mantra and often times strayed into perpetual din. He can speak an infinite deal of nothing. Yes. In his smart drive for good ethos he fails to acknowledge Scott Cook’s saying that, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is- It is what consumers tell each other it is.” Now at the crossroads, he may be wondering which hurts the most: saying something and wishing you had not or saying nothing and wishing you had.

He may wake up to the pressing dilemma of learning to edit himself, of never deploying vague words when a filthy one will do,  and never opening himself up to be  sneered or cut up. He will learn from that old Bolivian proverb that you don’t call the alligator big mouth till you have crossed the river. In his free run of speech he failed to reckon with the menace of a deep ball from a quarter back. He craves that thoughts don’t appear like bubbles over his head. It hurts to bite his tongue, so he elects always to speak his mind.

Now that he has been cooled down, he can hear distinctly and will not stick his foot in his mouth. In the coolness of his heart he knows he is not in flight from his battle, he knows like a faithful stray how deep the scars are, and that despite the harangue, one may never know the value of his parents until he sees their empty chair.  Nakajima Atsushi captured it all with “The head may err, but never the blood.”

Before his appointment into Buhari’s government in April 2016, he was a human rights activist and anti- corruption crusader.  He attended Mary Knoll College, Ogoja, Cross River State. He is a graduate of Law from the University of Jos. He is from Ugep in Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State.


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