By Rotimi Fasan
IT is the season of madness and it suddenly seems strange to be normal. Fiction trails reality as Nigerians move from one scandalous episode to another. One doesn’t even know where to begin or from whom to seek some explanation of the apparent mindlessness that has overtaken the land. As with all things at these times, Nigerian politicians are at the centre stage of the unfolding tragedy. As 2019 comes dangerously close (there seems to be many reasons why the people of this country have to be apprehensive of the approaching election), Nigerians can very well look forward to more drama of bizarre composition.
When Nigerians imagine they have seen all there is to see of the melodrama that politics has become in recent times then something else happens to remind them that what they had witnessed so far is just a dress rehearsal. The real play is yet to begin. But then the political actors never cease to surprise, shock and scandalise us all in one breath.
There was the sudden disagreement between a serving state governor and his disaffected godfather. Nobody could have predicted that given the accolades that have been showered on Akinwumi Ambode as a ‘performing’ governor. He has been so eulogised that the question of his standing for governor a second time unopposed was beyond any question. But this is Nigeria where the disease that kills is often the one least suspected or expected to do so.
Whatever Ambode might have been doing, good or bad, deserving of a second term or not, it is now clear that his political benefactor and godfather, Bola Tinubu, is totally unimpressed. It just could not be that things suddenly took this desperate turn between the two without either realising it before now. Theirs must have been a smoldering fire waiting for the right gust of wind to fan into a big flame. And a big flame it turned when Tinubu held the governor almost literally in the balls.
Raji Fashola walked this lonely path some four years ago and Ambode was the beneficiary. Now he knows the true state of things. Now he realises what other insiders must have known for long. That it was a matter of time: the koboko that cracked Fashola’s back and left it raw was only being kept in the rafters for the Epe-born accountant. Yet, both men had carried on as if all had been well! And all this heat that has got men and women- the President, Vice President and their people greatly exercised, traversing the length and breath of this country to placate an individual has nothing to do with the welfare of Lagosians.
It is all about sharing pork and self-positioning. Hopefully, Nigerians have again learned one or two new things of the principles of those who govern them. In this same season of electoral madness, some states are hurriedly paying backlogs of unpaid allowances, pension and salaries of both deserving and undeserving workers. They had claimed they had no resources to settle these debts. The victims are themselves cheering their persecutors to the very heavens even as a nude video of a law maker allegedly caught in the night with a sacrificial feast makes the round.
Of the many dramatic moments that Nigerians were treated to last week the one concerning erstwhile Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, rounded up what was a roller coaster of political histrionics. After months of enduring the withering insults of Nigerians calling for her resignation or immediate dismissal, particularly the baying dogs of opposition politicians who trailed her every movement, Mrs. Adeosun suddenly threw in the towel. She resigned her appointment as the Finance Minister with effect from the 14th of September. There was no warning of any kind. No hint of what was in the offing or any leak that could have alerted our attentive press to her impending exit.
For an administration in which no appointee is made accountable for their action and everyone is adjudged morally upright irrespective of what the records show or Nigerians say, nobody expected Kemi Adeosun to bow out in the manner she eventually did. There have been more serious breaches under the corruption-fighting Buhari government that the Adeosun affair looks like a school playground infraction. It is the kind of offense that most of us are guilty of but politics colours everything including the important takeaways that this affords.
The National Youth Service Corps’ exemption certificate is not a proof of competence. Neither is it an academic qualification. The question of her being sacked or much less resigning was something of a non-starter going by the character of the present administration. It was a matter that had apparently been overtaken by events after the heated debates of the first two weeks that trailed the Premium Times expose of the forgery. Nigerians have had their say and Abuja as usual has had its way.
The NYSC directorate had kicked the can down the road after speaking from both sides of the mouth, leaving the answer to the question raised by the certificate imbroglio blowing in the wind. The concerned minister herself resolutely kept her lips sealed all through the controversy and went about her job putting a brave face on things.
Under the unceasing onslaughts of her attackers, Kemi Adeosun tried to be as dignified as she could possibly afford in the circumstance. She was quiet, silent and unforthcoming with any response to the allegation that broke out about three months ago, namely, that she had forged her NYSC Certificate of Exemption from service that is usually issued to Nigerians above the age required to be qualified to partake in the scheme. Already over-aged by the time she returned home from England where she had been born to settle down in her fatherland, Adeosun sought and obtained an exemption document purportedly issued by the National Directorate of the NYSC.
Apparently headhunted to serve the country like her predecessor in office, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Adeosun wasted no time to align with others to serve in Ogun her state by marriage as the state’s Commissioner of Finance from where she was catapulted into national prominence after she was appointed the Finance Minister in 2015. Mrs. Adeosun passed the screening test of the Department of States Services and the Ogun State Assembly.
The question then to ask is this: how come these two bodies failed to spot the forgery? Is it not instructive that Adeosun’s dilemma began after a series of disagreements with individuals under her ministry? Yet, her story sounds totally credible especially for a person who’s spent most of her life abroad. But in this season of madness when you are pronounced guilty on the basis of your political belief everything is fodder for politics and nothing can be rescued.