– By Sunny Bright Attah
Okay. So who is Dr Cairo Ojougboh, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Vice Chairman South-South trying to fool? Nigerians are serious about the anti-corruption crusade and they scant tolerance for anyone trying to turn it into a charade. How else can one describe the ongoing spat between Ojougboh and former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim?
Ojougboh accused the former SGF of unilaterally acquiring the multi-billion-dollar Centenary City on the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, Abuja. Under a government that has openly committed to ridding the nation of corruption, the logical thing for the PDP chieftain to do about his new found passion of tackling graft is to collect more evidence and submit same to the anti-graft agencies to take it up from there. Instead, he resorted to made-for-television theatrics that have been the bane of previous efforts at combating sleaze.
Interestingly, Anyim’s response was to sue his accuser for defamation and libel. The case is pending before a competent court so the expectation was that Ojougboh, with his level of enlightenment would have at least allow the court ruling to speak for him. He rather resorted to trial by media, another bane of previous anti-corruption fight as few of the people who are sensationally accused in the media were ever indicted, arraigned or convicted.
One is thus confounded as to what this PDP chieftain wants to achieve by approaching equity with tainted hands. There have been speculations that his latter day anti corruption stance masks a darker and more sinister agenda. It has been mentioned in some circles that Anyim name merely happened to be top on a list drawn up by Ojougboh by fluke of alphabetical placement. The contrived crisis for the former SGF would be a lullaby compared to what the others have coming for them. Although not the stuff of mainstream media, Ojougboh is apparently out to implement his own version of the Anecdote on Thrasybulus in the PDP.
Wikipedia entry narrates that “Thrasybulus was an ally of Periander, the tyrant of Corinth. He features in a famous anecdote from Herodotus’s Histories, in which a messenger from Periander asks Thrasybulus for advice on ruling. Thrasybulus, instead of responding, takes the messenger for a walk in a field of wheat, where he proceeds to cut off all of the best and tallest ears of wheat. The message, correctly interpreted by Periander, was that a wise ruler would preempt challenges to his rule by “removing” those prominent men who might be powerful enough to challenge him…”
But that is where the similarity ends. Only a wise ruler would be able to pull off the coup suggested in the anecdote and get away with it. Trying to truncate a widely desired anti corruption crusade with distractions scarcely qualifies as a smart thing so one will not even try to describe it as wise. Same goes for keeping up a ruckus over a case for which one has already been dragged before a court.
He is obviously inured to such perils since the anticipation of the prize has somehow incapacitated him from being able to correctly predict that there are too many leaders in his party to mow down. Assuming he successfully removes Anyim from the equation, how long will it take him to eliminate the many other sincere and capable hands that are poised to re-positioning the one time ruling party? He certainly cannot be done by 2023 by which time he would have sent his party out of relevance. He must thus appreciate that using the desire for a corruption free Nigeria as the cover to decimate those he perceive as being on his ascension path is scarcely the way to go.
It must be noted that a man, who can contrive crisis for his party and distractions for the nation in a twisted re-enactment of the Anecdote of Thrasybulus has gone beyond being deluded. He has become a danger to everyone as no one can say with a certainty what his next act of megalomania would be if or when he successfully supplant other deserving leaders in his party.
This is where the present government must save Ojougboh from himself and also save Nigeria from Ojougboh. The Centenary City project is a matter already in the public domain so the government needs to remind this character that it does not need his braying to act in ways it has promised Nigerians it will act. The anti-graft agencies must remain focused on their existing modus operandi and not be stampeded by people who have not backed allegations with facts.
On his part, Dr Cairo Ojougboh will do himself a world of good by staying off matters that can leave him being found sub judice. It so happens that there are been truckloads of accusation against him in cases that should make the federal government send Special Forces to the South-South. He can make these his past time and make sure he thoroughly laid his ghosts to rest before trying to derail the nation.
Attah is a public affairs commentator based in Abuja.