Metuh and the tragedy of impunity

By Sunny Igboanugo on 22/01/2016

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“No condition is permanent, so says the rickety bus that plies the ill-maintained road of East Central States.” These were the words of the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, sometime in the 1970s. It was during his infamous spat with his kinsman, the late Ajie Ukpabi Asika. The younger Onitsha man, had taken the revered first President of Nigeria to the cleaners for daring to point out some of the anomalies of his government as the administrator of then East Central State, during the regime of former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon. Asika, had added salt to injury by his equally infamous quip, Onye ube ya ruolu ya rachaa, loosely translated, the man whose time has come should enjoy himself or in today’s Nigeria, wait for your turn.

The story had it that when Asika eventually lost his job, several Onitsha indigenes and other Igbo men and women, flooded his gate with baskets of pears as a reminder and adequate recompense for that odious statement against their hero.

A few years later, it was the turn of the late Chuba Okadigbo, former Senate President. Again, it was against Zik. After the 1983 election, Zik, had complained about the unconscionable heist carried out against Nigerian voters by the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Like the overfed nwanza, the bird, it was the turn of Okadigbo, who had been appointed Political Adviser to President Shehu Shagari, to dismiss Zik's complaints as the ranting of an ant.

Zik replied: "My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.


“But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

“None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”
 Even before the sudden end of NPN government, no thanks to General Muhammadu Buhari, now President Muhammadu Buhari, Okadigbo, had gone with some elders of Igbo land to beg and seek forgiveness from the late Owelle of Onitsha and elder statesman. Nobody can tell whether this gesture had any effect on the way the former Senate President eventually ended his earthly sojourn, despite Zik’s pronouncement of forgiveness.

If only men could learn! By this time last year, which Nigerian official, including military generals, would have dared speak directly to former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki? But today, he cannot even make a choice of his own food without taking permission, even from junior officials, who were not qualified to clean his shoes or man his gates. If his present keepers decide to feed him the notorious stone-based ewa elewon (prison beans), that he must feed on.   

Now, imagine Olisa Metuh, a member of the ubiquitous and all powerful National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), appearing in court, being adorned in the unsightly infamous foreign bangles.

In the 16 years that the PDP was in power, Metuh, et al, had not only risen, as Zik said, to dizzy heights, but in many cases, through omission or commission, instituted and or permitted a society where impunity became the biggest instrument to that ascention.

Picture the scene of a certain Lord of the Manor picking his teeth contentedly whilst reclining in his sofa, as he watched the most eerie spectacle of a gun being pointed in the head of his party chairman, who was being forced to sign his own resignation letter after some celebrated initial public resistance.  

Watch the Nollywood episode of a sitting governor being kidnapped and taken away like a common felon to God-knows where. Reload and watch the epic of legislators being kidnapped and locked up in hotel rooms and forced to sign impeachment notices and then railroaded like a herd of sheep to impeach their governors? See another where a whole government house was burnt down by irate hoodlums with police and other law enforcement agents providing protection for the arsonists.

Don’t forget the sordid sight of those bloated corpses floating in Ezu River? Remember those innocent sons and daughters of people that languished and died and are still languishing and dying in the notorious SARS cell at Awkuzu, Anambra State. Do you cringe at ginormous the sight of human beings chained to the wall and tortured, many dying in the process? Those were the PDP years. If Metuh had ever spoken against any of these series of impunity, he must have done so in private. Yet, Metu, was, is a strong man. Lesson!

But is this a justification for the horrible deal he is presently getting? Never! Instead, the eyesore conveys a sad reminder of what awaits humanity – those who choose to keep quiet in times when their voice could have made the difference, who allow the man die in them, by remaining silent in the face of tyranny. That is the greater crime Metuh may be guilty of. Perhaps, he would learn from it, having drunk from the cup of infamy, having tasted the poisoned chalice of tyranny and oppression.

The temptation is to scoff and say “good for him,” for contributing the instrument used in digging the hole he has now fallen into.  But then, society is not repaired by vengeance, no matter how appealing. It is worsened and destroyed by it. People must learn that tomorrow is pregnant and nobody must swear by it or boast of it. Tomorrow is entirely in the hands of God, the almighty creator, the author and finisher of the universe.

Reason why it is laughable that some people are actually gloating at the moment instead of weeping, wailing, mourning and gnashing of teeth. Yes, had there been the right realisation, there would have been a collective outcry over the appearance of this larger and greater grotesque monster of impunity, presently prowling about the firmament with the sure prospect of devouring everybody.

But because the big man, is usually the enemy of Nigeri's much-advertised ordinary man, no matter how he got there, there is always a feeling of satisfaction whenever he comes into misfortune. So, many clutch at the alluring feeling of a Metuh appearing in handcuffs, not because he has “stolen our money,” as they mouth, but simply because “another one has fallen.”

So, what do you find? Instead of interrogating the real issue, in this case being the apparent special treatment being meted out to him, which should never be, under a thriving legal and social ambience, where every man is supposedly equal, by the defined letters and spirits clearly etched in the nation’s grundnorm, all manner of wacky reasoning enter into the mix in preparing the recipe for feeding, nurturing and sustaining this monster.

In scoffing at and rejecting the more edifying and workable option of building institutions instead of personalities, in place in saner climes, they clap and cheer, never realising that what is behind Metuh’s foreign bangle treatment is not so much about stealing Nigeria’s money – who doesn’t steal Nigeria’s money if he can find it – but in the fact that he is not only on the other side, but dared to do well at the job he is assigned there.

What does it matter that none of those presently being tried under this Dasukigate, mantra, a clearly divisive and diversionary strategy, to many, has been given a similar treatment, even when they seem to have worse cases? What does it matter that even those with more heinous crimes, such as the Boko Haram suspects did not appear in court in foreign bangles? In a country where the President is one and the same with the government he runs, where every criticism against the government is seen as an affront against him, what does it matter that Metuh is having his times because he dared “confront the President” by playing his role as an opposition spokesman, which includes interrogating government policies and programmes and questioning the conduct of its officials. What does it matter that in so doing, the society stands being denied the benefit of open debate and freedom, on which a thriving society thrives and absence of which is worse than corruption? No. it doesn’t matter as long as the fleeting feeling of personal animosity and vendetta is satisfied.

But then, that is all that is needed for this monster to grow to full maturity. Yes. There is no doubt that Metuh and many more are sure candidates of prison, given the picture on ground. But by the time the blues is played after the reggae, many will realise that they may have used their money to buy their own coffins, unwittingly. That is the tragedy.     





Posted on January, 22 2016

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