Festus Adedayo
Festus Adedayo

WATCHERS of the flick of lurid but disgusting theatre in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) starring Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio and erstwhile Managing Director of the commission, Ms. Joy Nunieh, were served a menu of at least three blockbuster films, for the price of one. On the menu were the following: s*x and power game in high places; monumental heist and a sneak preview of the rapacious bleeding of Nigeria by her elected representatives.

Served a la carte, this scintillating thriller however came in the form of allegations. The allegations, let loose during an Arise TV interview programme last week in Abuja, affirmed indeed that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Nunieh, summoned by the House of Representatives committee investigating alleged mismanagement of N40 billion by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC, turned into the proverbial canary and sang.

Bold, assertive and a lioness to the core, Nunieh seemed to be atop her game. In her narrative of the NDDC under her watch, she carefully slung manacles on Akpabio’s wrists. On the front burner of her allegations were s*xual harassment, leading to her allegedly dealing the former Akwa-Ibom governor a dirty slap. Equally lurid but disgusting was Nunieh’s allegation that the minister attempted to inflate the NDDC budget and sneaked 30 contracts into it which included one on water hyacinth.

When Akpabio appeared on the Arise TV channel with his own tremor-like but vengeful ballistics, if you didn’t love the soiled apron worn for him by Nunieh, you would at least love his smart, cool operator mien. Armed with documents, he also immediately transmuted into a canary: Nunieh lacked requisite temperament for the office she occupied; she was not qualified ab initio to be in the office as she evaded the mandatory NYSC service. Like every cool operator, Akpabio however lapsed into the fallacy of abusive ad-hominem, an ancient fallacious argument which is also called argumentum ad hominem. Briskly but rudely, he veered into the realm of crooked thinking by suggesting that Nunieh’s “temperament” must have been due to her multiple betrothals.

Invite her four former husbands to give evidence of her temperament, Akpabio thundered. But, what had Nunieh’s alleged marital adventures got to do with allegations of rank corruption against the Honourable Minister? The pitfalls in this fallacious path of argument of Akpabio’s is that, though the speaker thinks they are deploying it as a rhetorical strategy by attacking the character, motive, or other attributes of their interlocutor, they are detracting from acceptable rules of engagement. Rather than attack the substance at issue, they sidetrack genuine debate and spin diversionary and irrelevant, even if extraneous issues. Ad-hominem could even be a cover-up for culpability.

But why did Nunieh throw the s*x card in this tango? To my mind, this terribly disfigures and indeed, makes her case against Akpabio very wonky. Did she attempt to play the ex-World Bank President, Dominique Strauss-Kahn/New York maid s*x card to curry sympathy to her side? This is because, like Akpabio’s multiple husband allegation, flaunting a yellow card of s*xual harassment at that juncture was unnecessary and in fact makes her suspect. Was Arise TV a police station where s*xual harassment allegations are lodged? How come that allegation had to rear its ugly head five long months after Akpabio sacked Nunieh in February, 2020?

With this, Nunieh looked no less culpable of spinning a diversionary ad-hominem alien and irrelevant to her submission. This is because, as gripping as her highly believable revelations are and perfectly fitting into the profiling of the voracious Nigerian political elite who mindlessly devour Nigeria like an army of cankerworm, the fact that her fury led her into making such allegation which sounded like sympathy-currying for her perceived weak female gender, makes her potentially suspect.

Akpabio however threw his own riposte. Watching him on that Arise TV programme, you would be pardoned perceiving him as guiltless of Nunieh’s allegations against him. Also, you most probably would get no recrimination if his suavity makes you conclude that he was just a typical Smart Alec, an able representative of the smooth crook class that Nigerian politicians really are. Akpabio appeared on that programme, borrowing the lingo of the streets, as cool as cucumber.

Both Akpabio and Nunieh can however not escape from the grave charge that, in the last 20 years, they are part of the Niger Delta elite who mindless underdeveloped the Niger Delta. No one would again listen to those Ken Saro-Wiwa-like agitationist narratives that Nigeria kept the Niger Delta down. Nigeria had funneled trillions of Naira into the Niger Delta and such humongous funds have been trapped in the gluttonous private pockets of Niger Delta elite and their accomplices. Until the people of the Delta begin to pelt their sons and daughters with stones for how they worsen their already sorry plights, the world may be impatient to hear their cries of woes.

The massive rot in the NDDC in the last 20 years is as brackish as the polluted rivers of the Niger Delta. This is why the news that the Muhammadu Buhari government had commissioned a forensic probe of activities in the NDDC, from 2001 till date, should ordinarily be gladsome. As an aside, this audit is needed in the NNPC, another Nigerian fetid basket of maggots, as well. However, when one realizes that this same government has been implicated severally for its timid will to purge the system of leeches and offering self as a nest for corrupt but favoured government officials and accomplices, the initial excitement of the probe would fizzle out.

By the close of last week, the melee threw up another pointer that Nigeria is running a banana republic, a pejorative description of mindless lawlessness and dictatorship. A few days after the Arise TV spat, over a dozen stern-looking security personnel reportedly stormed Nunieh’s Port-Harcourt home at about 4am. They were even alleged to have forcefully broken into the house like armed robbers. Amidst the back and forth, Rivers’ gruffy countenance, gruff-voice governor, Nyesom Wike, stormed Nunieh’s home, spirited her inside his official car and drove her away like some movie mafia Capone.

Why would the authors of this daybreak invasion target Nunieh for arrest on a day she was to give evidence before the House probe committee? What offence had she committed between the time of her first appearance at the committee and time of her attempted arrest?

In saner societies, Akpabio ought to have been asked to step aside as minister to pave way for an unbiased investigation. But, has that ever happened in Nigeria ?

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