After PDP’s fall from glory as Nigeria’s ruling party on March 28th 2015, following an embarrassing defeat at the presidential election, Olisa Metuh, the party’s spokesperson became not only the mouth piece but also the symbol of the party.
Metuh , pugnacious and vocal was considered, as it were, a prick and a major irritant to the skin of the new governing party, APC until the EFCC- Nigeria’s financial and economic crime busting outfit silenced him by taking him into custody for alleged involvement in the celebrated Dasukigate -$2.1b defense funds domiciled in the Office of National Security Adviser, ONSA but illegally converted into PDP election campaign slush funds.
I’m perturbed that Metuh has spent nearly two weeks in the dungeon with a stiff and hefty bail condition reportedly in excess of six hundred million naira (N600, 000) which is roughly one and a half times more than the (N400m) naira allegedly traced to a company in which he has interest and for which he is being arraigned for two different charges-firstly, for N400m from ONSA traced to the account and secondly for tampering with evidence.
If what the EFCC operatives are telling us is anything to go by, Metuh’s fighting spirit may be weakened but not broken because he was ‘man’ enough to attempt to destroy evidence (tear up a written statement) against him while in custody.
Be that as it may, and to a large extent, Metuh’s appearance in court in manacles is psychologically symbolic of the routing of the PDP by the governing APC.
So the question now is, how far can an ordinary folk like Metuh and by extension a disorganized opposition party like PDP go in squaring up with an APC party controlled govt that is giving new impetus to crime busters like the EFCC,which seem to be very sure footed on the anti corruption initiative of the incumbent govt ?
As evidenced by the key witnesses that have so far testified in court to having received $2m from Metuh (allegedly from Dasukigate heist) and depositing same into a bank account belonging to Metuh, after converting the dollars to local currency, respite for the embattled PDP spokesman, does not appear to be in sight.
After the May 29th, 2015 inauguration of the reincarnated army general, Muhamadu Buhari who had served as military head of state 1983-5, during which period he was renowned for zero tolerance for corruption and indiscipline, Nigeria and Nigerians have been undergoing what l would like to refer to as ‘corruption cleansing’-Nigeria’s version of ethnic cleansing?
Ostensibly, this is aimed at redeeming the nation’s image which is now in the bottom rung of the global corruption perception index of Transparency international which is well and good for the economy and hard working ordinary Nigerian workers.
Apart from other sectors such as the oil/ gas where monumental corruption was said to have also been endemic via the notorious fuel subsidy and looting concept tagged oil swap-a beautiful name which makes the rape of our nation’s treasury look and smell nice like lavender-it is the Dasukigate scandal that is now giving the accused persons nightmares; providing entertainment for Nigerians; and causing the authorities heartburn.
Currently, opinion is divided on the impropriety or non-adherence to professionalism and application of the rule of law in the methods being employed by the security agencies to rein in corruption.
While the concept of putting some suspects in handcuffs and rough handling others (wrestling them down and hauling them into vans) like common criminals is resonating with some Nigerians who are hailing the idea of bringing the alleged plunderers of our treasury to justice, another segment is resentful because in their opinion, the anti corruption fight is partisan and therefore not altruistic since a few others fingered in Dasukigate scandal have been allowed to ‘bow and go’ without experiencing similar dehumanizing treatment meted to others by the EFCC .
As president Buhari stated in his maiden media chat, although some oil barons have been returning their loot to government coffers, tracking the stolen funds by oil thieves is more cumbersome than tracing the $2.1b arms procurement funds as it extends to other countries and would involve the cooperation of international financial organizations and law enforcement agencies hence it is now being put in the back burner.
But how did our country get to this sorry state of being a cesspit of corruption?
That’s a tough question that demands an equally rugged answer, which l’m unable to phantom in this intervention, but if you would like to indulge me, l would like to identify some PDP election rules/order that were altered and might have precipitated the political calamity that has fallen the party.
Without prejudice to deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu’s post mortem report on PDP of which l’m not privy, it would shock many politicians to learn that something as innocuous as changing election time table played a critical role in the demise of the almighty PDP that held sway in Nigeria’s seat of power since our return to democracy in 1999.
Perhaps as part of PDP’s grand strategy to retain power in line with the boast of one time party chairman that the party would be in power for the next 60 years,it decided to alter election time table in the reverse order.
That initiative proved fatal as presidential election which was hitherto held last in the series of elections, became the first to be staged .The idea was to wipe-into-line,aggrieved and potentially disloyal governors that may want to get themselves voted into office and then turn their backs against the president whose election would come last.
Conventionally, the party disburses campaign funds through the party machinery from Abuja to the states, local govt councils and wards but rather than do that,money was disbursed to individuals as evidenced by the list of people involved in receiving the $2.1 Dasukigate funds.
That move ended up being PDP’s acheele’s heels as the money deployed to the states by mr president for mobilization of voters for him, was mostly kept by individual politicians, who had a ‘better’ idea of either enriching themselves or waiting to deploy the funds to mobilize voters for themselves as governors or legislatures at state or national levels since their elections were scheduled to come up after the presidential election.
Invariably, the politicians and others who failed to deploy Jonathan’s funds that was disbursed to them to secure his re-election but instead left the money in their bank accounts, shamefully contributed seriously to the former president’s political demise, as being revealed by the Dasukigate scandal.
Had Jonathan’s regime not been ousted, how could Nigerians become aware of such deep rot in government and polity as well as get acquainted with the classical art of betrayal of politicians against one another?
So the chicken has now come home to roost for Metuh, as it were, and for the individual politicians, clergymen of the Christian and Islamic faith and traditional rulers as well as media Moguls who are amongst the 21 high ranking individuals or 241 companies to whom the $2.1b looted Dasukigate funds have been allegedly traced.
To me, the hard lessons learnt and the three things l have taken away from Dasukigate are: firstly, to what extent former president Goodluck Jonathan was betrayed by his so called acolytes who developed sticky fingers with his campaign funds.Also,how wrong headed the initiative of reversing the election timetable and jettisoning the reliance on the party structure, ostensibly to suite his whims and caprices have turned out to be.The betrayal was so brazen that a very good friend of ex president Jonathan , once remarked to me in a conversation, that the president do cocooned that he joined in rigging himself out of office , albeit inadvertently by acquiescing with very bizarre ideas such as using the ONSA platform and applying sensitive defense funds for electioneering and even outsourcing political campaign to non politicians.
It could be argued that the presidency was compelled to use the ONSA platform as opposed to tested platforms like the CBN and NNPC which were foreclosed owing to the searchlight beamed on those institutions following the alarm by ex CBN governor now emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi about missing $43b and later $20b in NNPC oil receipts, but are there no other creative means of raising and disbursing election funds?
One aspect that is particularly galling to me is that, while most politicians nationwide were complaining of lack of funds to mobilize voters, a whooping N4.5billion naira was allegedly disbursed to former Sokoto state governor Atahiru Bafarawa to fund marabouts and about N170m was paid into the account of a non politician,Jarfaru Isah,who apparently had no business with politics and has incidentally returned N100m to the EFCC after the funds were traced to his account?
The second take away for me is that the Dasukigate scandal is a ‘smoking gun’ evidence of the critical role that the CBN cash less policy has played in the fight against corrupt practices like money laundering and it reveals the efficacy of the initiative.
By making it compulsory for banks to transfer amounts higher than five hundred thousand naira (N500, 000) electronically and also having the transaction documented,the transfer of the ONSA funds into various accounts provided the EFCC a sort of digital blue print or trail of the $2.1b and thus facilitated the tracing of the beneficiaries of the funds , such as Olu Falae, former secretary to federal govt and presidential candidate who has been publicly lamenting the incalculable damage that the scandal has dealt his otherwise pristine reputation.
Thirdly, it reveals the folly of jettisoning the conventional method of sending funds through the party apparatchik and hierarchy which facilitates the cascading of the funds down to politicians at the grass roots level and exposes the stupidity of outsourcing of election campaign to TAN- an initiative of Ifeanyi Ubah, an oil magnate and friend of the Jonathan family who invested heavily in glamorous campaign adverts on radio and television exhorting purported Jonathan’s leadership abilities.
That unorthodox campaign method based on the figment of imagination of the advert producers rather than practical reality ,denied politicians of the usual fanfare associated with politicking and in retrospect, it perhaps explains why politicians complained bitterly of not having money to prosecute the campaigns resulting in voter lethargy or protest votes against Jonathan and the PDP.
All of the foregoing were manifestation of a complete breakdown of the administrative and organizational order in the PDP headquarters-Wadata House as demonstrated by the defection of five (5) governors of strategic states and other National Working Committee, NWC members of the party.
My hunch is that by excluding some veterans of many PDP election victories, the PDP nailed its political coffin.
The above assertion derives from the believe that instead of relying on old political foxes, new political allies who were more or less political neophytes and therefore not savvy enough to understand and deal with the dynamics of political nuances and shenanigans of the period, resulted in the apparent poverty of thought that manifested in the deficient strategies and thus the embarrassing negative outcome of March 28th, 2015 presidential election.
Sadly, the discord in the PDP family seems to have transcended the elections as it is still persisting as reflected in the recent public comments by party stalwarts suggesting that Olisah Metuh may not be assisted by the PDP in meeting the conditions for his bail from court custody.
Given that the PDP spokesman-Metuh has worked assiduously for the party and was actively on duty before he was taken in for questioning by security agencies, the decision to abandon him, in my view would be unfortunate.
I’m aware that l may be accused of being sanctimonious in the Metuh matter, as some pundits could consider my sympathy to be politically naive.
Furthermore,Metuh antagonists may justify their cause by reminding sympathizers that the world of politics is renown for being treacherous, and as such, it is legitimate for dogs to eat dogs in the political terrain, but nevertheless, l weep for Metuh because of the imminent and ultimate let-down-by the PDP.
All said,president Jonathan must be licking his wounds and regretting the political naivity and misadventure that culminated in the crashing and burning of the political platform that facilitated his meteoric rise to the top echelon of Nigeria’s power architecture in an unprecedented manner, but as the prolific writer of crime novels ,James Hardly Chase once titled one of his novels , “That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles”.
Ultimately, it is hoped that the lessons learnt from the rise and fall of PDP and by extension Goodluck Jonathan would shape the actions of those who occupy public offices in the future, assuming they would be humble and pragmatic enough to ponder the PDP and Jonathan mistakes and miscalculations with a view to being more circumspect and help nurture our young democracy.