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.
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.