If you ‘OBJ’ me, I will ‘Agwai’ you, By Ali M Ali




Agwai at workThe title of this piece was inspired by the Godwin Daboh and Joseph Tarka spat of the 70s.It was then If you Tarka me, I go Daboh you”. It happened like this, according to history. “Daboh was a relatively unknown businessman from Benue state.

Gowon’s publicity man Joseph Tarka had made an announcement that the government encouraged people to report corrupt officials.

Daboh took the opportunity to do exactly that, and provided information that Tarka was as bent as every other six-bob note in the government.

Tarka was forced to resign, and so the phrase If you Tarka me, I go Daboh you”  was  born.

Daboh didn’t do what he did out of a sense of moral probity, however”.

Fast forward to present day. A more contemporary ‘remix’ is thus “If you ‘Obj’ me, I will ‘Agwai’ you.

General Martin Luther Agwai (rtd), has stepped on a mine. He has been “blown” away. Luckily for him, not to “smithereens”. None of his limbs is shattered. He can walk tall buoyed by the knowledge that history will record him as being on the side country.

Agwai is the immediate past chairman of SURE-P. This is the acronym of the government’s subsidy reinvestment programme. SURE-P has noble intents.  It is designed to invest funds plugged from leakages in the corrupt fuel subsidy regime, in sectors that will impact positively on ordinary folks. Its pioneer chairman, Christopher Kolade resigned rather dramatically. His exit paved the way for his deputy, General Agwai to take charge.

Agwai is distinguished. A retired four star General. He was progressively Chief of Army and Defense staff.  He earned global accolade in peacekeeping operations. He led one of the biggest peacekeeping operations in the world with approximately 20,000 troops and 6,000 police under his command. This was in Darfur .He served as Commander of the combined United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force.

Agwai, after retiring in 2009 lived quietly. As Army chief, he rarely spoke unless there was a compelling reason. At home, it must be acknowledged, he didn’t face the security challenges his successors like Ihejirika and even Minimah, the current Army Chief he is facing. Until recently when the right mixes 0f weaponry and political will blended, rampaging insurgents had made our Army looked and acted like Boys Scouts. On two occasion, I recall our military making a “tactical maneuver” into a foreign country to avoid the ferocity of Boko Haram elements. Still Agwai is a distinguished soldier.

But Agwai with all his military acumen stepped on a political mine. A mine visible even to the blindfolded. Unless overwhelmed by patriotic flavor, siding with the popular yearnings of the citizenry while holding onto government office, was an invitation for sack. I am inclined to believe that he has sufficient gumption to know the outcome.

His sin?  He talked “change”.  And “change” changed him with Mr. Ishaya Dare Akau, former chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission.   Free counsel for Agwai’s successor- whatever the temptation, avoid the word “change”-use “transformation” instead, unless he too, is a patriot like his immediate predecessor!

There are people who will argue that Agwai got it coming fraternizing openly

With the “enemy’’ former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. He made the “change” speech at the latter’s 78th birthday in a lecture he delivered to mark the occasion barely a week ago.

There is no love lost between the current government led by Ebele Jonathan and Obasanjo. This is in the public domain. Since they fell apart, godfather and godson have both ran naked in the village square. The salvos kept being fired from both corners. The godson once made a snide allusion to his godfather been a motor park “tout’.

Agwai, at the lecture said thus “In life, you find out that everything needs change; if that is what the community wants, what the people want, you must give it to them and, as such, it becomes inevitable.

“You can have everything nice, but if you don’t have the right leadership to propel it, it cannot go anywhere. Integrity matters – doing what is good for the larger society and not just what you want to do for a narrow society to please yourself.”

This, to me, was a death wish. It was poking trouble. The current government is an incurable sufferer of low self-esteem. Any hint of dissent is visited with severe reprisal. Look around you. Sure Agwai must have heard of a certain Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. He blew open the lid on the missing $20billion as CBN governor. Rather than account for it, the president ordered his suspension months before his tenure expired. Agwai therefore, is in good company. Channels television exposed the rot that is the Police College Ikeja; the person that allowed television cameras into the college was sent packing. Being axed by this regime for voicing a dissenting opinion is prelude to greater acclaim. SLS is an example.  He presently sits on the powerful throne of Kano emirate. That has always been his ultimate dream.

Ignoring the message and attacking the messenger is typical of this government. It is its patented   modus operandi. God save the politician that opposes it.  A ready tool to annihilate political adversaries is distorted documentary. Ask the opposition presidential contender, GMB. A regularly repeated   documentary demonizing him was aired to sickening end. Curiously, it had a reverse effect. Its fabricated content decided the undecided to cast their votes for the victim.

Presently Bola Tinubu is in court with AIT on account of a similarly distasteful documentary shredding his reputation. Just yesterday, the running mate of Buhari, Professor Osinbajo got an interim restraining order against AIT et al against airing of negative documentary.

The former SURE-P chairman is truly, lucky. That he has not been “stoned’’ as recommended by our amiable first lady, Dame Patient for shouting “change” is a measure of the respect he enjoys even in a narrowed minded circle like the incumbent government.




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