No doubt, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo has these days, been receiving solicited and unsolicited, private and public counseling from the right, from the left, from the center and from above and below. A few days ago in an unsolicited act, we released a commentary on the ex-President's favorite daughter questioning where she thinks she can hide in the face of agitated sentiments. As if Iyabo Obasanjo read NigerianNews on Monday the 21st of 2008, the answer came just one day later publicized in other news media.
Indeed, a lot of questions have been raised on why the Senator chose to flee rather than submit herself voluntarily for questioning and clearing the air once and for all. This at least, is the general impression pervading the air in the battle for public sympathy.
Having had negative psychological strings attached to her name as the blockbuster movie star perfecting disguises and scaling fences spontaneously in the style of an Olympian athlete, Iyabo Obasanjo's response truly gives every objective and fair-minded observer sufficient food for thought.
What is Iyabo Obasanjo being truly prosecuted for? It has been reported that a huge amount of unspent budget money was misappropriated at the Ministry of Health. Is the Senate's Health Committee now being docked for failing in its oversight functions and for failing to prevail on the Minister of Health to return unspent budget money rather than joining the Ministry officials in the willful and arbitrary disbursement of the said budget money?
This would sound perfectly logical, as the EFCC in its counter-oversight function owes a duty to follow every lead.
In all of this, the Chairperson of the Senate's Health Committee owes a public duty to blow the whistle on the Ministry of Health to have unspent budget money returned without delay and even threaten to initiate criminalizing legislation on the issue if the system functions without hitches. Instead, the existing situation is such that the crime investigation instance is blowing the whistle on the Chairperson of the Health Committee for even aiding and abetting the illegal disbursement of unspent budget money. This is shameful indeed.
One way or the other, there is definitely unmistakable illegality involving the Senate's Health Committee's conduct on the Health Ministry's scandal.
But why for God's sake is this being so badly personalized? Why is Iyabo Obasanjo and not the committee itself being required to pay back N10 million that was spent by the committee headed by her and not embezzled by her?
In seeking to seal the loopholes â€“ which democracy is all about â€“ uncovered by this conduct of the Senate committee, legislative or judicial remedies are adopted. Since the EFCC is not a legislative organ, it goes without saying that the only option at its disposal is the judicial remedy.
But why should the Chairperson of the Committee be arrested and detained in her personal capacity? Aside from the reality that there was no immediate risk of the Senator fleeing the country, it is extremely questionable, what purpose an arrest and detention of the Senator is expected to serve, i.e. assuming it makes sense to arrest and detain her in the first place for allowing her committee to accept money that was spent on official duties.
This complex knot is not only becoming puzzling by the day, it smells very much of vendetta and cheap populism at its best.
If indeed, Iyabo Obasanjo has filed a court case challenging the legality of holding her personally responsible for the N10 million saga, it will then be truly bemusing what gallery the EFCC is playing to. If the Health Committee is officially charged for breaking the law, it will be the duty of the Senate as an institution to stand up to the charges and challenges since the committee did not constitute itself all on its own. Indeed, the committee acts on behalf of the Senate and it is the senate that should be held accountable by all logical comprehension. It would therefore be left to the Senate to sort out erring characters from within its own ranks and subject them to internal disciplinary mechanisms.
As is typical of Nigeria's Hollywood-type politics however, it will come as no surprise that every possible avenue and opportunity is exploited to settle political scores. Who is best suited for the role of a prominent and high profile victim than the daughter of an erstwhile badly hated President?
Yet, we hear no call from hypocritical self-styled apostles of due process called Aondoakaa or Olisa Agbakogba, who would have wasted no time to descend heavily on the erring side if his name bore the semblance of Obasanjo. Thank goodness, voices of reason are beginning to come up lately to point out that the morally acceptable threshold of decency is gradually being overstepped in lambasting ex-President Obasanjo. Thank goodness many also agree that all his evils (brought foolishly and unwittingly upon himself and by himself alone) notwithstanding, the legacy of Obasanjo the ex-President far exceeds these maliciously designed focus on negative coverage.
One thing is certain so far, while evidences of impropriety and financially untenable practices abound, there has so far, been no single indication of the willful stealing of public funds on the part of Olusegun Obasanjo or Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
Disgrace Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello all you can by locking her up and proving to the world that her father can do just nothing about it, but will it be moving Nigeria forward any bit? If an Obasanjo-leaning power takes over the helm of affairs in days to come, will the seed of vendetta not have been perfectly sown? Above all, is the reason for seeking Iyabo-Obasanjo's head justified in the first place? If Olusegun Obasanjo is truly proven to have masterminded several unjustified political killings and victimization, should his sins be visited on Iyabo?
One cannot help but remember past instances, in which the son of a former powerful head of state by the name of Ibrahim Babangida was arrested under the watchful eyes of Olusegun Obasanjo in a move that was widely interpreted as testing the waters to ascertain how much influence the General was still able to wield. Many agreed that Olusegun Obasanjo was on a self-acclaimed mission to decimate the powers of Ibrahim Babaginda.
Whoever kills by the sword dies by the sword. So is the saying of the wise in centuries past. Primitive philosophies however, hardly have a place in our modern world of progressive advancement. The result of this ancient philosophy in the past had always been one of vendetta. A vicious circle of wiping off successive families in endless orgies!
First, there is an endless spate of media revelations highlighting charges of duping and financial scams with contracts awarded, paid for and never executed. There is a huge crowd that pre-concludes that these are money stolen by Obasanjo and his proxies by tricky dispensations. After all, Obasanjo was transformed into a multi-millionaire in eight years.
The ex-President may chant how much loan he obtained from banks as much he will, it will and continue to fall on deaf ears until proof is furnished of what happened to that huge sum expended on the power sector without results. Unfortunately however, none of these charges have been competently investigated. But judgments have been passed. Volitionally. Pitiably, these cries are coming out from those sectors of governance that are themselves, stinking a stench of impurity.
Then, there is a sudden frenzy in reaching out for the jailing of a serving senator for an official misconduct being sold to the world as corruption. Who has a mole in the eyes not to see vendetta?
What credibility can Aondoakaa claim to possess today, if all he knows about due process is to volubly demand the head of Nuhu Ribadu and turn a blind eye to undue process in seeking to jail a serving senator? It wouldn't or shouldn't matter as long as the senator in question answers any name in the semblance of Obasanjo.
While anyone â€“ Obasanjo or not â€“ deserves to be duly punished for any proven crime, should the system be made to devour the innocent? If Obasanjo and Ribadu misused the EFCC as an instrument against political opponents, at least they did not cook up accusations against innocent souls. No one victimized by the EFCC under Obasanjo â€“ political enemy or not â€“ can claim innocence of the crimes for which they stood accused. Besides, who says two wrongs make a right, when one claims to be on a mission to correct the evils of the past?
The Nigeria that we seek to build should by all academic standards of practicality stand the test of time and the rugged test of credibility. It should be a Nigeria for everyone of us â€“ the deviants and the conformists. Creating a Nigeria for vagabonds in power no matter the shape and color or period in question is definitely, the construction of high-fly towers on a sandy foundation.