Amaechi’s Screening:  Comedy And Trivia | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman

Amaechi’s Screening:  Comedy And Trivia

Posted: Oct 26, 2015 at 9:01 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Michael John

Big Brother Africa has  a new convert. It is yours truly. One never had time for the reality show, but

all that has changed. What changed me? The Senate of the  Federal Republic of  Nigeria. It resembles BBA in definite ways – the only  difference is that BBA  appears to be a much more serious affair. So if I could sit  down and watch the  Senate screening of ministerial nominees, surely I have the patience to watch  BBA.

Take the kind of  answers that, former Governor of Rivers State and  ministerial nominee, Rotimi

Amaech provided in his screening session.  They raised more questions than it  provided  solutions. This was more like asking a student, “Who was  Mungo Park?” and the  student answered, “He died from Malaria at Jebba.” You  can also equate his  answers with the student who prepared for John the Baptist

but ended up with a  question about Jesus Christ in the examination. He answered  the question by

writing, “Who am I a poor sinner to write about Jesus  Christ, my Lord and  Saviour. I will rather write about John the  Baptist…” Like everything  Amaechi the screening was controversial. The Peoples

Democratic Party insisted  that the petition against Amaechi, accusing him of  corruption, should be

discussed by the Senate before his screening. But if the  screening were to go  on in spite of their objection, they would not ask him any  question.

They were  overruled and Amaechi took to the floor with all the airs of  a “child promoted  to a new class on trial.”

Asked what advice he  would give to upcoming politicians, the politician retorted, “Because of  challenges, people in Nigeria (sic) politics believe that  there is need for  compromise to be able to manage yourself around (sic). I  will do that but not  where it clashes with my principles. If you ask me to advise  upcoming  politicians, I will find it a bit difficult because most  politicians will like  to survive.”

If you can make sense  of that, then you are a much better man than yours truly. I  mean self-preservation  is the first law of nature – so to want to survive is not  a terribly new  discovery. What I got out of all these, however, is that  Amaechi has some  principles which he protects from clashing with other issues.

One such issue which   has been clashing with his principles, is corruption. During  the long,  acrimonious electioneering campaigns, Amaechi accused the  Christian community  of corruption and claimed that they were paid a bribe of N6  billion.

The  Christian community challenged him to provide details but  Amaechi did not, nor did he offer a detraction. You would expect such a man to be  an authority on  corruption, right?  Wrong! When asked to  define the term corruption, he replied, “I have never  given or taken bribe in  my life.” That was not exactly the appropriate answer to the question.

But all  the same could it be said to justify the late Prof Chinua  Achebe’s position  that “an old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are  mentioned in a proverb”?  Of course Amaechi has never given bribe to anyone or taken  bribe from anyone  before. No Nigerian has ever given “bribe” to anyone

before. Nigerians give  Naira and Kobo – not bribe (bribe is not a  currency).

But Amaechi moved on  to other matters. “Corruption,” says the gentleman,  “is very difficult to

define, if they send a girl to you and you do it (do what?)  before assisting  her, you are corrupt.” Not exactly the kind of thing you  would expect to hear  in the hallowed chambers of the Senate. Amaechi is not  corrupt because if they  send a girl to him, he would not “do it” before  assisting her. What happens

after assisting her? That, to poor Amaechi, a nice gentleman  at heart, is not  corruption, it may be settlement.

But again Amaechi did  not leave it there. He continued, “Corruption is a very  wide concept. If there

is a position and you offer your son or brother who is not qualified it is corruption. It would be difficult for me to define  corruption.”

I have a pal by the name of Jumbo. He  is a war veteran and a  jolly good fellow. He agrees with Amaechi but opts to add his own proviso, “if  you offer your political associate, who is not qualified a  position as a  minister, it is corruption. And if a man is facing a  corruption charge and you  offer him a ministerial appointment, it is  corruption.”

When Rufus the retired  policeman noted that every man is presumed innocent until  proven guilty in the  law courts, Jumbo snorted and said, “That is a stupid  Nigerian argument. Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have both been suspended from all  football related  activities for 90 days. Have they been indicted in any law  court? Whenever a man’s  name is associated with wrong doing, he should take a break  to clear his name  and not hide under the umbrella that a man is presumed  innocent until proven


But the obverse side of  Amaechi’s inability to define corruption is that he had claimed that he was one

man who “does not like corruption.” How can you hate what you do not know or  what you do not understand? If you do not know what  corruption is (which is  absolutely within your rights because sometimes people  “disremember” that West  Germany had failed to exist; and yet the Heavens will not

fall), why do you not  ask President Mohammadu Buhari to define “corruption”  for you and tell you what  exactly it is and what he (Buhari) is  fighting.

Well one can perform a free special  service to  Amaechi and tell him what corruption is. Corruption is

accusing churches of  taking bribe and indicting men of God of compromise when you  have no iota

proof. Corruption is the Senate receiving a petition about a ministerial nominee  and deciding to screen the ministerial nominee before  deliberating on the  report. Which reminds me of a scene in a Spaghetti Western,  “The Good, The Bad,  The Ugly.” The sheriff lay hands on Tuco the bandit and  said, “We will give him  a fair trial and hang him. Common deputy while we take him  for the trial, begin  to prepare the hanging place.”

The Senate decided to screen  Amaechi and then deliberate on the petition. Even BBA would  not have done this.

Which is a plus for BBA.