Friday, 13 March 2015

Obanikoro and Agwai: A Manner of Foretaste

 Obanikoro and Agwai: A Manner of Foretaste

Last week’s piece entitled “The Abuja Peace Accord: A Morale Booster?” was credited to me in error. It was written by Rev Fr Anthony Zakka, the Director of the Media Service Centre, Kaduna.
Two days ago, Lt Gen Martin Luther Agwai (Rtd), the Chairman SURE-P got the axe with immediate effect. In his statement, the president through his spokesman, Reuben Abati, said the development was “in furtherance of his effort to continuously re-energize and reposition agencies of the federal government for optimal service delivery…” Many, however, do not accept the explanation. They rather allege that Agwai was sacked simply because he attended the seventy-eighth birthday celebration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Jonathan’s predecessor and erstwhile political patron, contrary to very clear directive to all appointees in the government to the contrary. It is no longer news that there is no love lost between Obasanjo and Jonathan.
But if the allegations are anything to go by, it probably is not only about merely attending a forbidden event that Agwai was axed. He was also guilty of pronouncing a word, CHANGE. In a paper entitled Imperatives of National Security: Framework for Development and Progress”, he said change had become inevitable in the country. If one, therefore, considers that the slogan of the major opposition party, APC, is “Change”, it is easy to see that Agwai readily laid his neck on the slab. Remember Sanusi Lamido? It appears nobody in government is actually allowed the usage of his brains. A friend, MJL as we call him, made a rather interesting reading of the scenario on social media; he said “days earlier in Calabar, the Cross Rivers state capital, Mama Peace, the First Lady, pointedly told a gathering of PDP supporters that: ‘Anybody that come and tell you CHANGE, stone that person…’” he went on to conclude, “and in line with that advice, Gen Agwai just got ‘stoned’ for uttering the forbidden word ‘CHANGE’.”
On the other hand we have a Sen Musiliu Obanikoro. He was allegedly caught on audio along with a party scheming to rig the gubernatorial election of Ekiti state in 2014. There are reports that he and one or two others have admitted that it was indeed their voices on the audio. The development has raised quite some dust which has apparently not yet settled and has put quite a dent on the Jonathan’s image and credibility because the said Obanikoro voice clearly said, in the audio, that he was on a mission from the president and even boasted to a General that the latter’s career progress depended on how happy he made Obanikoro by evening of the following day, election day.
Ordinarily, such reputation and perception crises will be hurriedly wished and tucked away in some dark pit during an election period like this until after, and if there is victory for the party in the eye of the storm, an Obanikoro may be rewarded. But he has been nominated for the position of minister and seems to be insisted upon even as the senate appears to be digging its heels in the sand in rejection of his nomination, as if to spite the sensibilities of Nigerians, because the government has not been seen to investigate such damning criminality as the undermining of an election, the sovereignty of the people, assumedly because the mission had its express imprimatur.
For those who believe that the opposition will win this election, it will be foolhardy not to have entertained the possibility of a victory for the ruling party, even if for the singular reason of incumbency and all that it can entail in a country like Nigeria. It is therefore, reasonable for all citizens to begin to brace up for what such a victory portends, if the Agwai and the Obanikoro’ scenarios foretaste anything of a government that will no longer be standing for reelection in 2019.
Even in the face of the coming of a hotly contested election for the present government, everything wreaks of insensitivity to the sensibilities of Nigerians and the possibility that it could turn them against the government at the polls. May be it is a statement to the effect that the political class in Nigeria could not be bothered how or what citizens feel. In any case, whether or not they meant it, it betrays impunity of high proportions.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thur March 12, 2015; p2.

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