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Professor Isaac Adewole : A brilliant coward?

By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

I have  mourned and mourned. How has  Professor Isaac Adewole carried on with a straight face and a closed mouth?

Adewole, Minister of Health, suspended the Executive Secretary of  the National Health Insurance Scheme, Professor Yusuf,  for three months last year. Prof Adewole  appeared to be committed to draining the swamp in the health sector.

Professor Isaac Adewole

The allegations against Professor Yusuf were  monumental corruption and brazen disregard for due process.  With the approval of the Acting President, Professor Adewole set up a ministerial panel to investigate the suspended secretary.

The public waited with bated breath. The panel had  DSS and ICPC agents as members. The panel turned in a damning report.  Professor Yusuf, the suspended secretary of NHIS  was described as a loud mouthed conceited Pharisee with itchy fingers. The panel unearthed bogus training contacts and nepotistic tunnels and drainpipes.

Professor Adewole accepted the findings of the panel. He  suspended the NHIS Secretary indefinitely. The public cringed and reeled as details of  the panels report seeped out.  Corruption,  it appeared,  hadn’t lost the brazenness of nightmarish yesteryears.  The minister  forwarded the report to the president.

Anywhere else Professor Adewole had passed the point of retreat.  The suspended secretary was handed over to the EFCC for investigations and possible prosecution.  It all seemed fairly straightforward. This was Buhari’s regime. President Buhari’s  aversion for corruption was known as far as Timbuktu .

The  suspended secretary showed no remorse. He mocked the minister and his panel. He continued to tout his righteousness and role as a social crusader determined to step on big toes.  He announced  that corruption was fighting back through  Professor Adewole  and his  orchestra of vendetta.  He accused Professor Adewole of malice. He accused Professor Adewole of  drug resistant corruption. He said he was being punished , silenced , for refusing to do the evil bidding of the minister.

You would think that Professor Adewole understood  the breadth and depth of  Professor Yusuf’s vituperation. I imagined that Professor Adewole would put his foot on the ground and fight for his integrity.  I thought any decent man assailed by those counter allegations would speak up, at least because of his children.

While EFCC and the ICPC were investigating the suspended NHIS secretary, new rumors  sprouted.  Professor Yusuf  was said to have won the sympathy of the almighty cabal. His exoneration and perhaps reinstatement became, instantly,  probable.

The omnipotence of the cabal had been  advertised by one  Abdulrasheed Maina .  Before the rumors could be thrashed,  President Buhari  restored Yusuf  to the position Adewole had suspended him from.

President Buhari has done many strange things recently.  He has scored very  many own goals with equanimity.  Professor Soyinka says he believes the president  is in a trance. Why was the President  in  such a hurry to restore a suspended Yusuf? Even if the Minister and the panel breached procedural guidelines, why wouldn’t the president wait for a substantive report by the EFCC? And why hasn’t the president bothered to be transparent? Why hasn’t he engaged the public with reasons he took an action that has baffled the public and left everyone with  the impression that he is shielding corruption?

How could a president who came to strangulate corruption  so effortlessly overturn the findings of a ministerial panel in a huge case of  corruption?  And he has done it  even before the EFCC could complete  its investigation.  I agree with  Professor Wole Soyinka.  President Buhari’s  unforced error rate is  now prodigal.  But this isn’t about Buhari. It’s about a professor who has missed an opportunity to teach Buhari a lesson. It’s about technocrats and their perennial failure to influence the  political system that is dying of insipidity.

It is about Professor Adewole. Isaac  Adewole is a renowned  Professor  of Gynecology.  So he is not vulnerable, not prone to unemployment or irrelevance. He would never beg for food. Adewole is a former  president of National Association of Resident Doctors. So he must understand rights and fights and courage.  ‘Aluta’ should be flowing in his blood.

Adewole had been involved on medical politics  for very many years. He was  forced on exile during Buhari’s first coming in 1984.  He stood for resident doctors and  against  that military regime . So  why  has he become so timid.?

Adewole is not one willowy, lily livered , chicken-hearted, boneless medical doctor. He cant be  scared of paying a price to prove a point.  Adewole has gravitas. He  was the  Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan  for many years. So he is not  trying his hands at disciplining  another recalcitrant  professor. Professor Isaac Adewole should and  must be full of self esteem.

How has such a man  become such a coward?

How  does Adewole sleep? And  how does Isaac  Adewole go to work?  After being so thoroughly humiliated, what is Adewole still doing in that office.? What is he doing in an office where the junior staff waste emotional resources pitying him?  Nigerian politicians are a breed of inveterate opportunists. But Adeowle is bigger than the office he occupies.

Nigerian politicians never resign.  But Adewole would not suffer loss of income  or prestige by resigning.  Nigerian technocrats moan  about our dirty politics.  They  get into political offices  and never leave any  ethical footprints.  The  system swamps them.  So Adewole must walk away or drown.

But how is it difficult for Adewole to understand that the president has lost confidence in him?  Adewole should have a conscience and an ego.  It doesn’t  matter whether Adewole and the panel breached procedural  guidelines in suspending the secretary. The president ought to have shown solidarity with the judgment of his minister.

He should have waited for a comprehensive report by the EFCC before contradicting Adewole who trued to fight corruption.  That report would have enabled the president  reach conclusions on Adewole. Because Adewole is either an anti corruption  crusader  or  a vindictive and corrupt  professor.  The president cannot keep Adewole and keep the NHIS secretary  and pretend to be championing any  fight against corruption.

On his 60th birthday  Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN poured encomiums  on Professor Adewole. He said Adewole  was a cat with more than nine lives.  If Adewole survives by licking his vomit then he must reflect on the quality rather than quantity of lives. Adewole must prioritize dignity.

Professor  Isaac Adewole  you are a child of promise. Please don’t let this opportunity slip away. You have to teach the president and the political class a  unique lesson. You are not a coward.

You must resign now.


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