One thing I learned from my late father was to never write in a hurry or under the influence of any form of substance that could easily derail my mind and thoughts. Fully aware of both the immense good and the immense damage the pen can easily do, Edward Bulwer-Lytton who coined “the pen is mightier than the sword” in 1839 insisted that the pen should be used with the utmost care by whoever has its power because, once harm is committed with it, it becomes extremely irretrievable. Even Euripides, the famous Greek tragedian who died in 406 BC, warned that as soft and powerless as the tongue looks, “The tongue is mightier than the blade.” So care should be exercised in our use of the tongue. It is especially so in fast-emerging modern societies like ours, civility is yet to be fully appreciated in our dealings with one another.
Since my attention was drawn to Churchill Okonkwo’s long-standing pattern of delusional obsession with Atiku Abubakar and members of his family, all my investigations to find out the reasons have shown he is suffering from paranoid personality disorder. One of the frequent physiognomies of this mental illness is pervasive distrust, suspicion and hatred of some highly successful people. And once the hatred is built in the sufferer’s mind, his hypersensitivity goes on to trigger an endless ease to insult the hated person or persons. Thus, people with paranoid personality (PPP) disorder tend to engage in endless insults of whoever is their target, and they do so without any fear of reprisal. Being a mental illness, PPP hardly allows its sufferers a sense of even-handedness or shame.
It is on this sorry note that I intend to diagnose Churchill Okonkwo’s attack on Dr Jennifer Atiku Abubakar. I will try to avoid joining issues with him. This is because our people say, if a sane man ran after an insane man in a market square, both would be easily regarded as insane. I easily get lost reading Okonkwo’s pieces; who starts with vulgar language and ends with even more vulgar language. Civility is always lacking. Sometimes you are left with nothing else except to wonder why his deep-seated anger! This is common with PPP patients.
The worst insult from an unreasonable man is to go after another man’s wife. That is a dangerous line for a fool to cross because every man’s pride lies in how he is able to protect his wife from other men’s insults. Men, no matter how highly placed in the society, would rather forgive those who insult them than those who insult their wives.
Even the friendly and always-smiling Bill Clinton is yet to forgive — if at all he’ll give — President Donald Trump for the unprintable insults he heaped on his wife Hillary during the 2016 US presidential campaigns.
Like her husband who is self-made, Dr Jennifer Atiku Abubakar started as a broadcast journalist and ended up a renowned political scientist, an accomplished academic (who taught at some great US universities and other countries of the world). And as if not enough, she also carved a niche for herself in law practice. As the managing partner at Miyetti Law in Nigeria, she provides strategic counsel and general advisory to governments and corporations around the world. She is also the editor-in-chief of the Miyetti Quarterly Law Review.
Jennifer Atiku Abubakar has earned herself great achievements — exceptional achievements that make her stand out anywhere in the world. Someone with her kind of success through personal and professional excellence and driven by lifelong learning knows the importance of immense personal discipline and self-respect. And to keep the required high integrity that nourishes such a life of great success story along with her cosmopolitan outlook, needs incredible sacrifices.
I can’t wait to ask: Is it this same Jennifer that Churchill Okonkwo could qualify as a con artist whom the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs investigated from 2000 to 2008 over a report that she helped Atiku Abubakar “bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations”? I remember what I had to go through when I wired the sum of $100,000 from my London Barclays Bank account to a bank in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Notwithstanding the reason I gave – that the money was for my education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), $48,000 for a semester tuition and $52,000 for my upkeep (books, housing, feeding, medical, and travels) — the money was still withheld and only later released after the conclusion of thorough investigations which required MIT to provide information to the Federal Government Office in Boston to that effect.
Does Okonkwo know how much $40 million is? If he did, he should have known that no foreign corporation would have engaged in such a wire transfer on behalf of an individual. And, of course, no U.S. bank would have accepted to pay such huge sum into a corporate account let alone an individual’s account without first reporting it and getting approval from one of the 12 U.S. Federal Reserve banks. Perhaps, Mr Okonkwo doesn’t even know that the Homeland Security he referred to in his article was only set up as a department by President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil.
Does he know that with its core responsibility being to prevent such future attacks in the US, one of the preventative measures is monitoring movement of large funds not just in the US but also anywhere the world? Does he know that such $40 million wire transfer would also have been blocked with the Justice Department quickly mandating the CIA, FBI, and the State Department to go after whoever would have been involved and forcibly bring culprits to the US for justice, no matter who they are and where in the world they reside?
Why should such an offence have to require a Congressional investigation? Is that what Congressional hearings are all about? If that is the case, why hasn’t the US Justice Department declared the Atikus wanted? Or, as I asked earlier in a similar accusation against Atiku Abubakar himself, where is the evidence, where is the so-called Congressional Report in the Congressional Archives? What is the reference number of the so-called hearing report? Maybe Okonkwo does not know what Congressional hearings are all about; if he did, he would have known that Congressional hearings are about important national problems of local and international dimensions. Therefore, rather than Congressional hearing, it would have been the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that is responsible for conducting investigations such as money laundering offences, and without any time wasted has the power to bring culprits to justice.
“Jennifer Atiku helped her husband establish the American University of Nigeria at a point poor Nigerian students were languishing at home due to strike action by university lectures over poor funding.” Certainly, this only confirms Okonkwo’s PPP driven obsession with the Atikus. But wait a minute, what is the sin committed here by the Atikus for setting up a leading university in Adamawa State? After all the trillions of naira Tinubu has earned from Lagos as its tax collector, where is Tinubu’s own university in Lagos? What about Buhari? Can Okonkwo show us at least a primary school built in Katsina by Buhari? As rich as Dangote is – he is the richest man in Africa — where is Dangote University in Kano?
I ask these questions because one of the greatest achievements any sensible man could make is founding a university for his community or his people. With AUN (which I would suggest to be renamed Atiku University), Atiku is today in the class of William Barton Rogers, founder of the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), John Harvard who funded the establishment of Harvard University;; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; Samuel Andrew, Yale University; Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University, etc. Unlike any other politician in Nigeria, the Atikus’ foresight in setting up such a leading AUN that annually saves the country hundreds of millions of dollars that would have been spent overseas by rich Nigerians who want their children educated at elite universities overseas is second-to-none.
Here is another trifling accusation of his: “…Jennifer Douglas Atiku cannot be trusted when she said that a ‘PDP government would create an environment for business to thrive with a view to ensuring that the citizens were lifted above poverty.’ Jennifer Douglas Atiku is deceiving Nigerians when she said that ‘there is an urgent need to get every sector of the country working again to enable citizens to enjoy a better life.’’’ As a mother, what more should Dr Jennifer Atiku Abubakar want Nigerians to expect from her husband’s administration than economic prosperity and jobs? What was her sin in asking Nigerians to expect a more prosperous country from the soon-to-be PDP government led by her husband?
Why am I even wasting my pen and time responding to this young man who, no doubt, is suffering from PPP? Well, it is not to join issues with him. I know that every intelligent Nigerian who reads him would understand that his accusations are completely baseless. Someone must have been using this PPP patient to be blackmailing the Atikus. Or can it be a mere coincidence that each time Bola Tinubu attacks Atiku Abubakar, Churchill Okonkwo writes a follow-up and in most cases to strengthen Tinubu’s earlier accusations? Why are both making up these imaginary accusations? Has Churchill Okonkwo become the media version of Tinubu’s “Area boys”?
If Tinubu has been having a running battle with Senator Dino Melaye for opposing his wife; and has since been using the police and the DSS to be harassing Melaye, should the same Tinubu have approved Okonkwo’s offensives on Atiku’s amiable wife?
Why Tinubu? Someone will ask. Tinubu’s desperation to reelect President Buhari has become a do-or-die affair because re-electing Buhari, Tinubu believes will automatically clear the way for his 2023 presidential ambitions. Buhari fully aware of Tinubu’s desperation handed him his reelection campaigns. Oshiomhole was made APC Chairman as part of Tinubu’s 2023 ambitions. And the $50 million Oshiomhole was accused of extorting from party members during the party’s primaries has to be deployed in bribing and making those PDP members who refused to join APC notwithstanding EFCC threatens to join APC. Also N500 billion — I repeat N500 billion — has been set aside for vote buying, targeted at 25 million voters with each to receive N20,000.
Also for Tinubu’s 2023 ambitions the National Assembly was unsuccessfully invaded in August last year by DSS operatives with the goal of replacing NASS’s leadership with Tinubu’s own men. Ekiti and Osun governorship elections had to be rigged at all costs for the same 20123. Sponsoring powerful, rich and greedy Southeast business men has since been done to ensure that Atiku and Obi were defeated in Southeast. Billions of naira has since been handed to these business men to ferociously campaign against Atiku/Obi and to buy voters’ PVCs with the simple goal of withholding them so that reduce the number of Southeast voters. Also denying Ambode a reelection is an important part of the package since Tinubu preparation for his 2023 presidential ambition needs a governor who should in the next four years hand him the state’s treasury.
Dangote and Otedola had to be brought in with a promise to hand them the country’s economy as they may wish. But as a result of Obasanjo’s alarm Tinubu’s dragging of the two billionaire businessmen is now in suspense. The dismantling of Rochas Okorocha’s Imo political base was to ensure that he never contemplates nursing presidential ambitions in 2023. The harassment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen and the ongoing illegal efforts to have him replaced with someone who could easily give APC a free ride in the judiciary after rigging the presidential election remains one of the ways to ensure that no stone is left unturned. The appointment of Buhari’s niece Amina Zakari as INEC’s collation officer in an election her uncle is a presidential candidate, only goes to confirm Tinubu’s desperation, which is forcing the INEC Chairman to play along.
But there are serious problems Tinubu faces for his 2023 ambitions. First, powerful Muslim Northern politicians will block his ambitions as he is expected to choose a Christian Northerner as a running mate. Second, there is this fear that should Tinubu ever step into the presidency, his Alpha Beta tax firm will be the one collecting tax for the federal government and doing so keeping as high as 10% of the tax collected as he has been doing in Lagos since after leaving office as its governor. Third, Buhari wants Gov Kayode Fayemi his successor with either Suleiman Adamu (his nephew and Water Resources Minister) or Mohammed Bello (FCT Minister) as his running mate.
Tinubu or no Tinubu, I am calling the Atikus to forgive Okonkwo for the young man is a PPP patient. Yes, he must have committed pen murder, but does an insane person, who lacks sense of judgment and the consequences of his actions, be held responsible? Shouldn’t this be an opportunity for the Atikus to remember that great leaders are great because they always focus on the ball rather than on the noisy spectators’ distractions?
Coming out of jail, Mandela not only forgave those who jailed him for 27 years. He also befriended them, who rightly said: without revenging one’s offender, burden of guilt remains unrelieved. Mahatma Gandhi was an exceptional leader with such an impeccable forgiving heart to the extent that he said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Little wonder Gandhi forgave all his enemies, including the same British imperialists who colonised, exploited and killed thousands of anti-colonial Indians.
No doubt that from Okonkwo’s attacks on the Atikus one sees a young man crying out for help. As president-elect and as the new father of the nation, besides uniting and reconciling the very divided and traumatised and people of Nigeria and spreading peace and love across the country, also people like Churchill Okonkwo deserve presidential friendship and possibly assisted with their psychiatric treatment bills. This now known, President Atiku should ensure that all the psychiatric facilities across the nation are urgent upgraded.
–––Enwegbara, a development economist, can be reached at email@example.com or 07038501486