It was the late Prof. Adeoye Lambo, Medical Director of Aro Psychiatry Hospital, Ogun State, who once recommended the need to put our key political leaders (presidents and governors) through psychiatric tests to affirm their mental state as a precondition for their assumption of office. It was a call echoed later by Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka.
If ever there was a doubt about the necessity for such step, the ignominious saga of one James Onanefe Ibori has put paid to it.
How, on earth, can one man occupy an office of trust, an office of responsibility, to mind the common store of the people, and yet so wantonly betray the trust and so despicably debase the office? Note that I refrained from saying he was voted into the office. The election that first brought this Ibori guy to office as governor of Delta State was reported to have been the most rigged in the annals of elections in Nigeria, only to be exceeded by that of his re-election.
Could that account for the depravity he exhibited in office?
We must remember, as the prosecutor at the London court, Sasha Wass, reminds us, that this same Ibori of a man was once a convicted “petty thief with his hand in the till” at the DIY store Wickes in London, way back before he stole his way into office as governor in Nigeria. Nigeria knew this, at least his challenger to the office, Mr Great Ogboru, said as much and petitioned the court, but Nigeria’s abracadabra justice system said though the names could be the same it was not the same man!
But it must take a crazed head to go at a state’s treasury in the manner that James-the-rogue did of his Delta State. The more he stole the more he felt challenged to steal as he gave himself the first call on the monthly federal allocation to the state, spiting the crying poverty of the people and the lack of infrastructure in the land. Ibori stole in the billions.
The most crazed part, if you ask me, is the stashing away of the huge stolen resources in foreign countries. They set up no industries, they do not reduce unemployment anywhere other than by their servants, drivers, and Personal Assistants.
Together with other convicted roguish former governors, Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State (and surely some others who have been “smart” so far to escape justice), they bought choicest properties in the big capitals of the world, properties that yielded them no income but stayed as “status symbol” to brag with in the “my mansion is bigger than yours” game they were playing. They stacked scores of the best cars money can buy in these properties and threw the most lavish parties on a regular basis, frolicking with imported women of easy virtues to demonstrate how they “owned the world”!
Now if that does not convince anyone of the urgency to demand the psychiatric test as prerequisite for such lofty offices I wonder what will!
All of a sudden, I feel like thanking Obasanjo, Danjuma, Babangida and other leaders who have confined their massive wealth largely within Nigeria. I am not questioning their probity at this point, but to the extent that they have set up businesses, industries, or charities here in Nigeria, employing hundreds of workers, if they were ever found guilty of fraudulent enrichment, I’ll be in their corner for justice to be tempered with mercy. At least if the Iboris qualify to be dragged on the road tied to a lorry, a one-bullet short shrift of these kinder leaders would serve.
But ours is a sick society, as my brother Dr Okey Ndibe fears in his “no comment” comment on the jailing of Ibori. He said, “there are moments of despair when one looks at the depths of depredation in Nigeria – and in some other African countries – and is shaken to one’s foundations” to worry if there may be no truth to the silly notion that perhaps it’s an African disease of the mind; “that the African was (is) incontinent, driven by primal impulses, a being prone to moral recklessness”.
(Not) commenting further, Okey lamented, “Even as the English judge pronounces his sentence on the former governor of Delta State… clones of Ibori are hard at work. They are doing the exact things that catapulted their fellow into the dock in the UK, and they are doing them often with more fervor.”
I will go further to say that as we speak, there are those in public offices, at state or federal level, who owe their being to Ibori and would be busy taking orders from him, even from jail, and helping him to recoup his losses, yea, more from the public treasury.
And the mother of all madness, when James Ibori ends his prison term and returns to Nigeria, his impoverished (of mind) people will await him with drums and gongs; and a sick Nigeria will hail the return of the “king”!
Where is Dr. Lambo of Aro Psychiatric Hospital?