[Opinion] Okupe And Aso Rock: The Lonely Crowd


Bayo Oluwasanmi

One of the greatest mistakes of President Goodluck Jonathan is putting together a team that reflects only him. That’s why they think alike, talk alike, and act alike. It’s a trap that makes them think all is well with Nigerians.

The president’s team lack inspiration, imagination, trust, honesty, and steadfastness of purpose. Greed, timidity, and lack of vision are rampant among the current crop of pseudo intellectuals of Aso rock.

To a great extent, leadership is like beauty, it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it. The Aso Rock propaganda machine is so insane that it is hard to satirize.

The erstwhile World Bank Chief, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili in a convocation lecture at her alma matter, the University of Nigeria Nssuka stated that the administrations of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan squandered $67bn from Nigeria’s foreign reserve account.

Dr. Ezekwesili then invited Jonathan’s administration for a national debate on this important fiscal mismanagement to set the record straight for the nation.

Doyin Okupe, special assistant on public affairs to the president denied the foreign reserve was frittered away as alleged by Dr. Ezekwesili.

Okupe, the president’s attack dog saw the debate challenge as a red meat and he immediately went on the prowl for Dr. Ezekwesili.

“It is obviously preposterous for Ms. Ezekwesili to be asking for a National debate on the outlandish and reckless disinformation she made to incite the Nigerian people against the government,” said Okupe.

My dictionary defines preposterous as “completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd; senseless; utterly foolish.”

Is anything “completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense, absurd, utterly foolish,” for a concerned citizen to demand accountability from her/his government on how a particular fund from our commonwealth was spent?

Seeking information on important national subject such as foreign reserve is now deemed “outlandish,” “reckless,” and “disinformation”?

Well then, if Dr. Ezekwesili’s statement is “preposterous,” “reckless,” “outlandish,” and a “disinformation,” that’s the more reason any right thinking person would have grabbed the offer for a debate before the Nigerian people and clear up the doubts and fears on the issue.

To Okupe and Aso Rock, democracy means “inciting people against the government” whenever a citizen insists the government come clean of any malfeasance, misappropriation, misuse, or outright embezzlement of money.

With his baseless ranting, Okupe said: “This was a deliberately calculated albeit unsuccessful effort to bring the Jonathan Administration disrepute unjustifiably.”

“…a deliberately calculated albeit unsuccessful effort to bring the Jonathan Administration disrepute unjustifiably,” sounds familiar. Channels TV investigative reporting of the rot at Ikeja Police College was also a calculated attempt to embarrass the government and tarnish its image.

By the way, what reputation of the Jonathan administration is Okupe talking about? Reputation for doing nothing? For cluelessness? For not leading? For misplaced priorities? For inability to govern? For aiding and abetting corruption? I think we need a debate on the reputation of Jonathan’s administration.

Dr. Ezekwesili “decided to divert attention from the issues she raised by calling for a National debate on issues that are not in contention,” said Okupe.

Seems Okupe is mixing other propaganda issues on his laundry list. Calling for a national debate in order to shed light on a controversial issue is a diversion? Who defines or decides whether the foreign reserve is in contention?

“I regret to say that Mrs. Ezekwesili should show dignity and character by letting the Nigerian people, whom she sort (sic) out to fool, to know the source of her figures otherwise, she should be honourable enough to retract her statement and apologize to the government and people of Nigeria, “ said Okupe.

Is there any doctor at Aso Rock to examine and certify that the reasoning faculties of our highly criminally paid propagandists on the nation’s payroll are intact?

It takes not only dignity and character but audacity and love of a country to dare a government that’s pro corruption to a debate on how our resources are being managed. When we talk of dignity and character, we know Dr. Ezekwesili but who is Doyin Okupe?

“Else she should be regarded by all as a willfully perjured individual not worthy of any respect or recognition whatsoever,” said Okupe.

For Okupe to accuse Dr. Eezekwesili of perjury is hilarious and hypocritical. Needless to say, she’s not looking for respect or recognition; she’s an acclaimed citizen of high repute and regard.

Dr. Ezekwesili’s demand for how and when the foreign reserve was depleted touches on the important issue of the kind of political structure we operates.

It’s no secret that the political structure in place is one in which power is apportioned without intelligence. It’s a structure where the government is totally immune from accountability.

Our own form of democracy is governed by advocates of unreason who believe badgering, hammering, and haranguing of critics and opponents of the government is the best way to defend policies and actions of the government.

The emotional impulse to “get the better of one’s opponent” as demonstrated by Okupe in the insults and aspersions cast on the person of Dr. Ezekwesili is not only troubling but a misplaced scape goating.

The undemocratic nature of this regime to patent cover ups, lies, fraud, corruption, intimidation with brazen shamelessness is a constant irritation and apprehension for Nigerians.

In pursuit of political agenda, officials acting on behalf of governments will submit their opponents and critics to long unspeakable anguish. History is replete with examples.

Remember what the Nazis did to the Jews at Auschwitz? What about the mass cruelty that followed the expulsions of Germans ordered by the Russians?

What of the years of smoldering reign of terror visited on South Africans by the Apartheid regime?

How democratic is our democracy?

Mr. Jonathan has redefined democracy to mean license and anarchy. Our rights have been trampled upon and our civil liberty assaulted and threatened.

President Jonathan sent army of occupation to Lagos to crack down on critics on the removal of the imaginary fuel subsidy and to quash the “Occupy Nigeria” protesters.

Most recently, Mr. Jonathan’s smoldered rage was not for the rot at Ikeja Police College but for the effrontery of Channels TV to air in public the dirty linen of his administration.

Dr. Ezekwesili as a Nigerian has every right to criticize the government. As former World Bank chief, the doubts she raised about the volcanic dwindling of our foreign reserve ought to attract the prompt action of the government.

As usual, the Jonathan administration missed another opportunity to clear the air by refusing to debate Dr. Ezekwesili on the accusation leveled against his administration on the misspent of our foreign reserve.

Jonathan’s administration has a reputation of being on the wrong side of issues. And it’s no wonder Okupe and Aso Rock make up the lonely crowd.

What’s wrong in having a Socratic dialogue asking the right questions at the right time in order to discover the truth about the $67bn foreign reserve?  This is exactly what Dr. Ezekwesili asked for.

Like Freud reminds us “the goal of analysis is to make the unconscious conscious.”  The debate no doubt, would have clarified lingering doubts and misconceptions about the foreign reserve.

Dr. Ezekwesili might not be wrong after all. Take a look at the simple arithmetic:

According to available information, $45bn in foreign reserve and $22bn in excess crude oil account was left by President Obasanjo at the end of his term. If the two figures are added, it amount to $67bn. This is what Dr. Ezekwesili was talking about.

Which part of the math Okupe doesn’t understand?

Okupe is a stranger to probity, prudence, and honesty in matters of money and figures.

It’s been said that “to look forward with acuity you must first look back with honesty.”

Okupe has a reputation of worming his hands into public coffers. Whatever character, moral values, and integrity Okupe might have had atrophied longest time ago.

From stethoscope to megaphone, Okupe is an example of ugly breed of entrepreneurial parasite and a peddler of crack lies.

In spite of the brutal and challenging facts presented by Dr. Ezekwesili in her analysis, Okupe employs every irrational and savage mockery to divert attention from the real issue.

Okupe’s bashing of Dr. Ezekwesili was done with zeal without knowledge – activity without reality – which only leads to self-deception and false pride.

The furor and anger which Dr. Ezekwesili’s statement provoked would have been handled by a rational adversary with a sense of history and compassion for the governed.

For a government that is mired neck deep in corruption, fraud, and embezzlement, how can we believe the cooked up figures used by Okupe to make his point?

Dr. Ezekwesili is a first class World Bank expert. She has proved herself to be the efficacy of self-confidence, vision, virtue, plain guts, and reliance on blessed impulse.

She has learned from everything, more importantly from experience, adversity, and mistakes. She has learned to lead by leading.

Okupe is a small fish in a big pond. He lacks the intelligence and the intellectualism to go toe-to-toe in a debate with Dr. Ezekwesili.


[email protected]