Rejoinder: Jonathan, Abati and the Ribadu Report



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By Osi Okponobi

Chido, when you wrote an article some months ago in support of Gay Rights in Nigeria, I agreed with you and thought you were different.  I supported you, even though I am straight.  I was operating by international standards, and believe Gays have rights. And that people should not be judged by their sexuality or dressing or how they look, or by their ethnicity, state of origins, colour or gender.  I thought you were different to openly write in support of such a topic, regarded as  ‘taboo’, especially in Nigeria. But how wrong was I.

Sadly, your articles since then have revealed you as another one of the “Never See Anything Good in GEJ”, a very strong association, that preys on gullible Nigerians. An association that laps up from “friendly” politicians and so-called ‘fiery’ Pastors.  A set of people that refused to accept that the elections ended over 1 year ago, and as it is done in advanced climes and civilised countries, once elections are over, everybody rallies around the winner and gives them a chance, and gives  them their support to govern.  And should we have reasons afterwards to criticise, we should be constructive, and not seek to impose our views as THE ONLY VIEW.  ACCEPT IT OR NOTHING!  TAKE IT OR WE WILL PULL YOU DOWN (PHD)!

As Obama is currently now singing in America, that the people have spoken and that they heard the arguments of both sides and chose him.  That the people voted for him to continue doing what he set before  them to do.  And armed with their mandate, he promised to negotiate with Congress, but he won’t sacrifice the mandate given to him.

Nigerians hear such speech and they applaud Obama and the US democratic process.  However, they forget that they are doing the exact opposite in their own country. They forget that the same thing applies to Jonathan, who sold his “Transformation Agenda”, just as some others or parties sold their own “Manifestos” before Nigerians.  And in the end, Nigerians preferred Jonathan’s agenda, just as Americans prefer Obama’s.  The man has only completed one year, and yet to complete the second year, and people are not giving him a chance to breath.

Chido, I have a lot to critic about your latest, and the preceding  articles,

regarding the conduct of Ribadu’s committee.  An excerpt goes (while quoting Abati) ‘A few days after the report was made public by Reuters, Abati claimed it was meant to embarrass the government. According to him, “excerpts from the report could not be taken as an official document because the committee had not formally submitted its report to the appropriate authority. As far as the Federal Government was concerned, the report in the public domain was suspicious”. This was the first clear attempt to undermine the PRSTF report.’.

Question for you.  Would you not have done the same thing, if you were the President or even Abati?  How can you see nothing wrong with that?

Firstly,  I don’t know what your working life experience is and don’t know if you have ever  sat on a committee before.  And if you have, you should understand the importance of CONFIDENTIALITY.  If you are a President or let us even say the chairman of an organisation, and you set up a committee to investigate an issue.  And instead of receiving the report first, you find it published on the pages of Newspapers.  WHAT WOULD YOU DO?  Applaud the committee for leaking the report to the press?  And not even a Nigerian press, but a FOREIGN PRESS!

Second point, is this.  Ribadu has sat on committees before, including a UN initiated one on Afghanistan.  Question for Ribadu.  Did he treat that committee with the same disdain that he treated this one, by leaking the report of the committee to the press before he reported back to the UN?  If not, and if no Nigerian ever read the report in the press (that is if  anyone ever saw it) before it was submitted to the INSTITUTING BODY, WHY DO WE THINK IT IS RIGHT FOR RIBADU TO DO SO NOW?

Thirdly, WHOEVER LEAKED THE REPORT, must be investigated FOR BREACHING CONFIDENTIALITY.  It isn’t okay, to simply ignore that aspect of the process.  That act, in more advanced climes, is enough to discredit the report.  Why you don’t see that, surprises me.  I haven’t yet checked the Nigerian Official secrets Act, but would not go as far as calling for prosecution.  But such a person deserves to be exposed and blacklisted for a disservice and for being selfish and self-seeking.  Otherwise, what would have motivated the person to circulate a report that is yet to be submitted to A FOREIGN MEDIA?  That is most UNPATRIOTIC!
Fourthly, if the intention was to make the work of the committee open, then from the off, the Committee should have sat in public, just like the Farouk Lawan led House of Rep investigation committee on Fuel subsidy.  And even then, Farouk’s committee still had the decency to report back to the House first before the report went public.  How much more Ribadu, who has had international experience of committee work.  What made him to leak the report to a FOREIGN MEDIA still surprises me and I am yet to fathom why he did that.

Moreover, the entire process leading to the submission of the report to the President is flawed.  First of all, a committee work should never be a ONE MAN SHOW.  Any report of the committee must be agreed by all the members.  It should not be kept away from members (or some members), who only later find  out on the last day or on the day of the presentation of the report, the content.

Ribadu exhibited or demonstrated that he is not a ‘TEAM PLAYER’.  He lacks the ability to work cooperatively with others!  To confirm this, I understood (by reading Abati’s piece that Ribadu actually asked AGBAKOBA, his senior, presumably, at the bar and in age, to ‘SHUT UP’.  NO! NO!, NO!  RIBADU CAN’T DO THAT, if the account is correct.

I am sorry, no matter how brilliant the report is, but the above behaviour is unacceptable in our civilised world. That point, I thought, was what Oronsaye and Otti seemed to be making.  Listening to them, I don’t think they were faulting the report or the content, but the PROCESS.  They also did not call for the report to be consigned to  the dustbin.  LET US GET THE FACTS RIGHT AND STATE THEM CORRECTLY!

And rightly so, the President agreed to still use the report, and to also consider any issues that anybody has and any further or other contributions.  Which is the way to do it, and NOT FOR HIM (THE PRESIDENT) TO FIND INSULT, AS YOU WISH HIM TO DO.

 

This leads me on to the other point made by Chido, that THE PRESIDENT WAS INSULTED.  Only a person with the mindset of a DICTATOR or a SERVANT would believe that it is an ABOMINATION OR HERESY to argue or disagree in front of ALMIGHTY EMPEROR or PRESIDENT JONATHAN.  Why can’t people argue or disagree before or in front or even with a President.  IS HE GOD?  Even  GOD, I believe will  accept a healthy argument or CONVERSATION.  After all, JESUS, accepted a healthy discussion and debate with the woman that JESUS compared to a dog. She argued and made her case, and Jesus applauded her faith and blessed her. WHY CAN’T AN ARGUMENT BE HELD IN FRONT OF A PRESIDENT?  Presidents and Prime Ministers are even pelted with shoes, books and eggs in civilised climes, how much less, have an argument in front of one.  And that, in CHIDO’S WORLD, IS AN INSULT.

HELLO!  This is how we spread or encourage DOCTRINES that seek to elevate our Presidents, Governors and Local Govt Chairmen to a status that they are not, and people feel unable to be themselves or disagree in front of them or with them.  I don’t see why a President would find insult that somebody disagrees with him.

 

I am glad the President did not view it as an insult as the likes of CHIDO and THE ACN have been saying.  That just tells me one thing, that they are not DEMOCRATISED.  If not, they would not view the Presidency or the President as an institution that people cannot disagree in their presence.

I recall when the President reached across the aisle and overreached to work with Ribadu, an opposition party Presidential candidate (don’t know if he still is or it was just a marriage of convenience to use/launder one party or the other).

Not a few people condemned it.  Some people, including his party men, also sought to prevail on Ribadu not to accept to assist or serve his COUNTRY.


I commended the President for rising above party and reaching out to a person, who seemingly has a ‘pedigree’ of some sort, or built a ‘reputation’ of ‘fighting’ sleaze.  Although quite a good number believe his fight was more on the pages of Newspapers, rather than with solid facts.  Till date only 1 of the 31 Governors Ribadu indicted, is in jail.  He even later absolved one of the remainder of the 30 before joining his party.  He also absolved the President’s wife, after initial

reports in the papers implicated her in sleaze.  From then, I started questioning what manner of man is Ribadu.  A patriot or a selfish lout?  A principled man, as he led us to  believe or a hypocrite and self-seeking two-faced person?

I viewed him as not possessing the characteristics of a President or Presidential material. That act confirmed the fears I had about him that he lacked the experience to become a President, because the only experience he packed under his belt was as chairman of EFCC, which is only an establishment.  He has never presided over or managed a Local Government and learn the rudiments of governance, and then a State and before attempting to rule a country of about 150 million people.

The proper thing Ribadu’s committee should have done, LIKE THE OTHER COMMITTEES SET UP BY THE PRESIDENT, was to complete their assignment, circulate a draft report to

all the members for their agreement first.  After  which the final report is presented to the President by all the committee members.  Ribadu’s committee (if so-called) was not the only committee that presented a report, how come there is NO CONTROVERSY WITH THE OTHERS?  And if his committee needed more time, a simple letter to the President explaining this would have sufficed.  After all, the deadline given was never set in stone, and could be

changed, if only to allow it to do a thorough job or complete their work. Right now, and as it is, the committee’s work is incomplete, going by their recommendation that SOME ASPECTS OF THEIR WORK COULD NOT BE VERIFIED.  In other words, the President should VERIFY THIS WORK.  Or ANOTHER COMMITTEE SHOULD DO THIS!

How silly!  This is an admission of FAILURE TO COMPLETE ITS WORK!  What Ribadu’s

committee appears to have done was to  IDENTIFY the source of sleaze or leakages or corruption, but not identify the culprits.  What was the EFCC CALLED TO DO BY THE COMMITTEE THEN?  WHY DID THE EFCC NOT INVESTIGATE THE SOURCES FURTHER, AND ASSIST THE COMMITTEE TO COMPLETE THEIR WORK?  Except of course, Ribadu’s committee is hiding some persons and wants another body to do the dirty work of EXPOSING THE SOURCE OF THE SLEAZE.

If Ribadu was man enough, he should have EXPOSED the SOURCE of the corruption.  Or, isn’t this part of their remit?  Correct me if I am wrong.  Wasn’t the committee required to do this?

Your conclusions about the President protecting sleaze or not fighting corruption is without basis.  He replaced Mrs Farida Waziri with Ribadu’s man, LAMORDE,  to give bite to the fight against corruption!  What should he do that he is not doing or hasn’t done?  He replaced the IGP, after the former was implicated with aiding BH.  He also replaced the former NSA with a ‘US trained expert’ to strengthen the security challenges.

I live in a country where people do not need prompting before they do their work.  The President cannot know EFCC work or Police work better than the professionals or the people trained to perform the work and have been doing the job for up to 30 years.  The same way a President cannot know security or Military work better than the Military or security agencies.  Rather, he relies on them to discharge their work professionally and brief him, as done in the US.  My point here is, instead of blame the President, we should encourage the security agencies to live

up to their responsibilities.  They should do their work.

And where there are proven cases of undue influence or interference, we should challenge or protest.  But not before!  When things go wrong in the UK, I don’t look for the PM or look to hold him responsible.  But I look towards the department and the people working in that office.  I don’t even look toward the Ministers.  If there is a problem with the Police, we look towards the Police Commissioner, and not the Mayor of London or far away Prime Minister.  And if it is with the Military not being properly kitted, again, we look in the direction of the Defence Minister or the MOD.

But in Nigeria, if there are things for which we should hold the Local Govt  chairmen responsible, we look in the direction of the President.  How can we build OUR INSTITUTIONS if we continue to MISPLACE our blames.  In every place where a Nigerian stands in that country, there is first or foremost a Local Govt.  And each Local Govt has an accountable person, who is in charge of governing the Local Govt.

Why are they not supervising the growing of food crops, and supporting farmers to produce sufficient food for their populace and to sell to other parts?  They can sponsor or support programs and strategies to improve agriculture in their domain and create jobs, that way, for the unemployed youths and farmers.  While the States and the Federal Govts concentrates on EXPORTS to generate REVENUE for the country. CHIDO, I never read these sort of stuff from you.  All I read is THERE IS TOO MUCH  CORRUPTION.  JONATHAN’S GOVT IS THE WORST.  CORRUPTION IS AT ITS HIGHEST SINCE JONATHAN.  Or, quoting you “To say the government lacks the “political will” to fight corruption is to be charitable to the president. This government has made  corruption the directive principle of state policy.”.  Very typical!  But what solutions do you ever proffer?  Zilch!

You also saw a problem with Oronsanye and Otti as both members of the Ribadu committee and the NNPC.  Surely, you must know that this was not an investigating committee but a fact finding one.  What could Otti, for instance,  possibly be covering up in a position that he recently took up as Finance Director?

Methinks their membership was helpful to the committee because it gave the committee access to all the books, which Oti and Oronsaye would ensure was available and without cover up.  But you didn’t see it from this point of view.

Unfortunately, this is a trait that I find with most Nigerians.  We are not always balanced in our reasoning and judgement.  We tend to see things from only ONE POINT OF VIEW.  Living in Europe and America teaches us to be analytical, and not one-directional.

I held off publishing this as an article on SR or other websites or even posting it as commentaries to your piece, hoping to engage, instead of grandstanding or feeling that I have one on you.  I hope you accept my  honest feedback and try to be objective and MOST OF ALL CONSTRUCTIVE.

By the way, let me issue a disclaimer.  I write this not because I know President Jonathan personally or indirectly or support him.  I am apolitical and do not even like Nigeria’s party politics.  I just think he deserves to be given a chance and support to govern the country, as President Obama would want the Republicans to do (after an election is over).  We can judge him better by 2015.  And if by then he UNDER-PERFORMS, he stands no chance of re-election.

Best regards,

Osi Okponobi

 


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