Even our elders allegedly chopped-and-cleaned mouth
They are mostly elders, and this newspaper on Monday did justice to the story of how they also ‘obtained’, allegedly from the much beleaguered $2.1billion arms procurement fund that the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, disbursed as he pleased. With their pictures prominently gracing the cover of the day’s edition, we saw what looked like a galaxy of pan-Nigerian elders. Understandably, the first portrait was that of Chief Olu Falae, followed by former Anambra State Governor Jim Nwobodo; then Rashidi Ladoja, the former Governor of Oyo State; then former Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State and the ubiquitous Chief Tony Anenih (never to be missing in action where such matters are concerned). Below these men’s pictures were the portraits of Chief Bode George (Boy George) of the ports authority contract splitting fame; then former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Ahmadu Ali of the Ali mun go fame; Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi, former Governor of Zamfara state; Olisa Metuh, PDP’s national publicity secretary and Tanko Yakassai, a founding member of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), among others. We were told that they all ate in Dasuki’s alluring forbidden porridge. As elders who did not know how to say ‘no’ when they should, what they thought they had eaten in secret and cleaned mouth has now become a subject of open discourse, and in some cases, open acrimony. It is immaterial whether whatever they got was Dasuki’s forbidden porridge or PDP’s poisoned chalice.
Chief Falae collected N100million; Nwobodo N500million; Ladoja N100million; Odili N100million; Anenih N260million; George N100million; Ali N100million; Shinkafi N100million, Metuh N400million and Yakassai, N63million, among others. These are mostly elders in their own right; and please, when I talk of elders I am only talking in terms of age. So, nobody should begin to have funny ideas about Yoruba elders or Hausa elders or Igbo elders, or something. Chief Falae was born September 21, 1938, which means he will turn 78 this year. Boy George was born on November 21, 1945. He will be 70 this year. Nwobodo was born May 9, 1940 (75 years); Ladoja was born September 25, 1944 (71 years); Odili was born August 15, 1948 (67 years); Anenih August 4, 1933 (82 years); Ahmadu Ali was born March 1, 1936 (79 years); Yakassai was born in 1926 (89 years). Metuh is probably the youngest of the lot.
We must commend whoever drew up the list because it is truly national. Forget about whether some of the people there are paper or feather weight, or whether they even have any weight at all to deliver whatever entitled to them to the booty. One must commend the spread, at least in terms of its geo-political balancing.
Even the south-east that perpetually cries marginalisation is silent for once because the region is ably represented as only two of their own in the pack, (Nwobodo and Metuh) between them obtained about N900m, far in excess of the paltry N300million that Falae, George and Ladoja got or, better put, obtained. We need to know the sharing formula though, otherwise, the south west too will protest its abysmal share in the booty. I only hope when people start sharing the jail terms too, some sections would not cry marginalisation. When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo became president in 1999, one of the first things he did was purge the military of ‘political military officers’ (those soldiers who had tasted political offices and were therefore thought to have known the difference between good and bad, so that they would not contaminate the system). Because a section of the country benefited most from the political appointments, that section naturally had more casualties. This is only a natural sequence. So, those who got bumper obtainment must not complain when the jumbo jail terms come and many of their elders cannot make it back home from prison.
No doubt some of these people have come a long way in obtaining. Chief Anenih, for instance; Boy George is another. That was why a man like Chief Anenih obtained N260million and gave ALL out and took nothing from it. The biblical widow’s mite must have informed his uncommon candour. That there is no wrangling (at least none so far) in the ‘Anenih sector’ concerning the disbursements is enough proof of his vast experience on the matter. Conversely, that the ‘Falae sector’ has been shouting that he be crucified because they were not told that anyone obtained on their behalf probably indicates the novice that Falae is in the business.
Indeed, until now, we had thought that someone like Chief Falae does not or would never obtain. Now we are better informed. But it is good that some of these people are being demystified in the twilight of their lives. Perhaps but for Dasukigate, we would have been having wrong impressions about their true personalities. How can people of their age say they got millions to form alliance with a stinking and sinking government? So, where is honour in all of these? For the Yorubas in the present pack, they messed themselves up just because they do not like someone’s face. Do you now put your cap on your navel simply because you are quarrelling with your head?
Show me another set of elders who would rather eat up their children’s tomorrow today! “‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? Elders sharing public funds in a country where millions of youths are jobless, where virtually everything has ‘disorganised’, to borrow Fela Anikulapo’s expression! Ha!
It always bothers me to see people who should be thinking of the hereafter still hankering after material things. But a guest at our editorial board meeting last week shed what looked like some light on the matter when she made the point that old age is capital-intensive. Until then, I had thought something being capital-intensive has to do with certain businesses only. I guess our guest’s explanation would have made sense to me more than the alibi given by Chief Falae that he did not obtain from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) but rather from the N21billion the PDP realised at its campaign fund-raiser last year. How did the chief know from where the money came? Was the money obtained from ONSA carrying ONSA stamp to indicate it came from there? Has the chief bothered to trace the genealogy of the money or ask those who gave it to him?
Anyway, since I am now better educated that old age is capital-intensive, I forgive Chief Falae and the other elders for obtaining, even if without a thought for the leaders of tomorrow. My fear though is that the way they had obtained, thus contributing to the free fall of our currency, the Naira would definitely not be among the legal tenders in heaven. So, those of them hoping to continue spending Naira there when they die would be roundly disappointed.
Even our elders allegedly chopped-and-cleaned mouth