By Andrew AGBADU
I REMEMBER being mischievous as a kid on the streets of Warri in the former Bendel State. I was always with the big boys. Participating in their escapades, I was seen as a hero by my peers.
There was Gbemi whom we, the kids all called ‘Big Bros’ for he was older than us. By following ‘Big Bros’ I grew up too quickly and learnt some ways of making a quick buck off him. I just had to be co-operative, listen, and do as I was told. Because of that, I became ‘Big Bros’ lieutenant.
I could be trusted and I earned rights to be around him. And I hung around him to the chagrin of my mother.
But, I recall the first time trouble came. It was in the form of a contingent of eight policemen who early one morning crashed the door of ‘Big Bros’ room where I slept with three of his friends. It was a round-up.
‘Big Bros’ was not around but the four of us were handcuffed and led out to a waiting van. I was ashamed as the rest of the neighbours watched us. The indignation was grave. My only crime was that I was found in ‘Big Bros’ room.
I knew ‘Big Bros’ and his friends drank, smoked, played cards and gambled all day, but I would later learn that on those occasions they went for night parties, they were actually out robbing. It would take a week before the police left me off, even after my ‘big’ friends repeatedly told them I was not part of their gang.
That incident reminds of what I believe close associates of former Delta State governor, James Ibori must be going through right now. After an eight-year rule awashed with allegations of corruption, Ibori was heckled by security officials out of Ogharra, his home-town, only to be rounded up in the United Arab Emirates by foreign police.
Presently, his mistress and his wife are facing the law in London, corralled in jail. These were the crème amongst Nigerian women while Ibori was governor. Though, their complicity might be attributed to greed, only few people would not be culpable in similar circumstances. As it turns out, they are suffering for being accomplices in financial transgressions facillitated by Ibori.
Enter Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, erstwhile governor of Delta State. Ousted by a Benin court on November 9, it seems his association with his predecessor, James Ibori, is being used to haunt him. As cousin to Ibori, and Secretary to the Delta State Government, Uduaghan’s campaign to occupy the Asaba Government House had the blessing of Ibori.
But, this blessing is not new in political terrains where successors are groomed. But, because of this association, Uduaghan has made some enemies for himself.
With recent developments, I feel pity for Uduaghan who is definitely not being judged as his own man in this latest fiasco. Though, the Bible says the sins of the father shall be borne by the son, in the Nigerian context, this biblical position finds easy extension in our highly religious society.
In the minds of many people, Uduaghan’s ousting for whatever reason is justified by his association with Ibori. Some Deltans have already started braying for Uduaghan’s blood, citing financial complicity as being responsible for their position.
Just three days after the governor’s ousting, a letter addressed to Mrs. Farida Waziri, the Chair of EFCC was signed by Chief Edwin Clark and 23 others accusing Uduaghan of financial crimes amongst other things. According to the letter, one of the projects is the Independent Power Project at Oghareki.
As if reading the bitterness held against Uduaghan and recognising the intended mischief, the EFCC had replied via a report where its spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi said the agency was not interested in the politics of the state.
By all means, if the EFCC deems it right to wade into the matter, it should, but for the likes of Clark to champion a case of calumny against Uduaghan is totally uncalled for. The role of a statesman should not be self-serving. A question that needs to be asked at this juncture is if the familial affiliation between Uduaghan and Ibori is contributory to what now seems to be Uduaghan’s public execution?
It is understandable that the fight against corruption is vital to achieving probity and accountability from politicians. But, this should never be used indiscriminately as the Delta agenda is playing out. Uduaghan remains a man of his own and any persecutions he suffers by association may be understood but can never be rationalized. As humans, this would be very difficult as some posturing by Edwin Clark has suggested.
In doing this, we should be guided that no man should be judged on whatever another does for that would be most unfair.
By all means, Uduaghan should face any wrongdoing he is guilty of. He should just not be marshalled just because he is associated to James Ibori as the nuances are pointing. It is important that the crime of one man must not be visited on another.