Adeosun: Own Goal


The other day I watched in plain disgust at the spectacle of Serena Williams making a fool of herself at the finals of the United States annual grand slam tennis tournament aka US Open. She was on the verge of losing to the new tennis sensation, Naomi Osaka. And apparently unable to bear the letdown- she unloaded in hysterical and downright rude outburst on the Umpire. Here was the best female tennis player of all time whose life history reads like a fairy tale proving so needlessly petty, petulant and quite unworthy of her role model accomplishment. Perhaps I am being overly judgmental and too harsh-afterall she is only human and such tantrums (nothing short of momentary derangement) has become the rule rather than the exception among athletes in the competitive world of tennis, soccer and other sports with which I may not be familiar-what with adrenalin pumping at full steam! For that matter, aren’t we all, in relative degrees, prone to such loss of composure and lapse in social and occupational equilibrium? Quite often, in the intensity of crisis in human experience, we all tend to lose it and thereby self-propel into making poor judgement calls-as the former Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, did.

In the event, her lapse does not so much lie in the presentation of a fake exemption certificate (she had no way of knowing anyway) from the NYSC and deliberately skipping the mandatory one year service. The lapse lies more in the management of the public revelation of the misconduct. Haven been adverted to the validity of the allegations, she should have made the best of a very bad situation by showing remorse and willingness to pay penance-with dispatch. Beyond her capacity to make atonement is the collateral damage she suffers from keeping the company of a credibility challenged administration. She became, so to say, the symbol of a government that has come to be defined by the public liability of habitual hypocrisy, of sham self-righteousness.

The fact that President Muhammadu Buhari had himself been a star actor in a precursor drama that presaged the Adeosun crisis made the drama all the more compelling-by poignantly recalling the unresolved certificate authenticity issues of the then presidential candidate of the APC. Called upon to respond to the Adeosun problematic, it was no surprise that the authority figure, President Buhari was momentarily enervated by psychological paralysis. How does a Principal display the requisite moral outrage at a subordinate for committing an offence of which he is potentially liable? And if further proof of this moral paralysis is needed, it is readily provided in the pendency of a worse-case scenario that has so far been met with characteristic conspiratorial inaction.

According to Farooq Kperogi “Okoi Obono-Obla, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions and Head of Special Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, embodies the tragicomic disconnect between the Buhari administration’s self-construal of itself as an “anti-corruption” government and the cold hard fact of its deep embeddedness in and toleration of mind-boggling corruption of different shades. Obono-Obla corruption started in the early 1980s. According to the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), which painstakingly scrutinised his records, Obono-Obla possibly stole his dead relative’s “O” level certificate in 1982, fudged it to include Literature in English, which the dead relative didn’t sit for, used the result to gain admission to the university, and then changed his name decades later. The dead relative was known as Ofem Okoi Ofem, the same name Obono-Obla bore until 2015. Obono-Obla’s probable criminal impersonation of a dead person is worsened by unassailable evidence of his criminal fudging of the relative’s school certificate. Ofem Okoi Ofem, whose certificate Obono-Obla used to get admission into the University of Jos, had four credits (C6 in English, A1 in Government, C4 in Bible Knowledge, and C5 in Economics), was absent for Literature in English, and got failing grades in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Biology”.

Collectively, what all these revelations portend for the Buhari government and indeed all certificate predicated employment sector in Nigeria is potentially explosive. These are not isolated instances and I can bet my last Naira that-were all tendered certificates in Nigeria to be subjected to the daylight of mandatory national audit and scrutiny, those to be found remiss would number in the millions. This is a logical extrapolation from the unyielding reputation for corruption and moral bankruptcy of contemporary Nigeria…

One of the tragic ironies of the Buhari Presidency is the moral inconstancy bordering on duplicity of those charged to headline the ethical reformation of Nigeria. Any wonder why all we see in the so called fight against corruption is motion without movement and where there is movement, it is backward regression. And it is the reason why report after report of globally credible institutions, from Transparency International through, United States annual reports through the World Bank to Carnegie Foundation are unanimous in the conclusion that perpetration of corruption in Nigeria today is worse than three years ago.

In a bizarre predilection to make mockery of even the pretense to fighting corruption, designated officials are no longer content to look the other way, they are now intent on proclaiming this mockery from the rooftops. If there was anyone who did the greatest damage to Adeosun, the prize goes to the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Panel on corruption, Professor Itse Sagay. According to the character witness provided by the law Professor “This woman is a brilliant and extremely valuable member of this government. A lot of the good things happening now – the welfare that Nigerians are enjoying and are going to enjoy and the way our economy is booming, how we got out of recession – are due to her expertise, her commitment, her sacrifice. There is nothing in this world that will make me remove such a woman from the government. If I were President Buhari, I would never, ever touch that woman because she’s damn good. They are doing so in order to have her removed so that the capacity of this government and the delivery of good governance would be reduced and then have an excuse of criticising this government.

The allegation against the minister is mischievous and a plot to remove her from office. In the history of finance ministry in Nigeria, probably the most important history, this woman has an immense capacity and skill in that.”

For more clarity, we can reduce this crude parody to the following bullet points-(1)The Nigerian economy is ‘booming’ on account of her expertise; (2)Who cares about NYSC?; (3)The allegation is a mischievous plot to incapacitate the government; (4)Without her there can be no good government; (5)She performed extremely exceptional in Ogun State; (6)We cannot afford to lose that woman; (7)The President should never, ever touch that woman.
How can anyone who cares for the well-being and sanity of Adeosun do this to her? Would the parents of Adeosun wish for her to be set up in this way? Now that she has resigned and the resignation has been accepted by the President, the question for Sagay is what next? Would the economy now stop ‘booming’ and slide back into recession? Would the President now foreclose his gambit for reelection since the capacity of his government to function has been fatally hobbled? We do not need to wait long. From his peculiar adoration of the former Minister, it was a short distance to his assumption of the role of the official rapporteur of the APC campaign:

‘I can understand why Akpabio was welcomed with open arms into this government because, at the end of the day, some baggage needs to be carried. So, at times, some of these things would be over looked in order to strengthen the base of the government. I simply see the Akpabio issue as a way to improve the success of the government in the 2019 elections, regardless of the allegations against him. He has joined the party to add value to the political weight of the party and that doesn’t affect any allegations against him. I am so sure that criticisms of Akpabio’s defection are coming from the PDP and their supporters. And my question is this, can they guarantee the honesty and integrity of all those who crossed from the APC to the PDP? So, if they cannot, why would they want only perfect human beings to cross over from PDP to APC? The painful thing is that Nigerians always like double standards in everything. It appears perfectly okay when people whose characters are imperfect join the PDP but a taboo when the tables are turned to the APC. Honestly, I don’t see any relevant argument in their lamentation. I know that they are only seeking ways of tarnishing the image of the APC’

Anyone familiar with the emergence and wherewithal of fascism and authoritarian dictatorship can discern in the logic and disposition of Sagay a kindred spirit and facilitator. With advisers of his persuasion in close proximity to Buhari, it may not be long before the dormant dictatorship strain in the former military dictator is fully awakened. The penchant for hyperbolic caricature, sycophantic overdrive, gross distortion and exaggeration of reality by palace intellectuals has always proven to be fertile ground for breeding dictatorship. If Sagay fawns over a Minister in this manner, it is better imagined how he panders and kowtows to the President. The prevalence of this tendency in Buhari’s court is one more warning against his reelection. As the saying goes where there are takers there will be givers. It is the reason why the personality cult presidential style of Buhari is daily getting reinforced by the reciprocal sniveling deference of his court officials.

The scenario that just played out at the Department of State Security, DSS, is in furtherance of the personality cult agenda and was perfectly predictable. The chain of events set in motion by the gaffe of the Osinbajo regency-with the removal of fellow Daura sojourner, Lawal Daura, was antithetical to the agenda and it could only have occurred the way it did-a gaffe by an outsider. The momentary lapse has now been righted with the summary retirement of Matthew Seiyefa and the appointment of the politically correct Kano-born Yusuf Bichi in his place.