IT IS A “LAI”! | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

COLUMNIST, Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman


Posted: Oct 19, 2015 at 12:42 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Michael John

You had to read the ministerial list again and again and again not to disbelieve that it is a “Lai.” Holy Moses!

It was not! Good, old Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s name, like a bad coin, is there in the curious company of many curiosities. Also in the list are a handful of other names of not-too-saintly characters. Are you short of what to call it? Ali Baba and the forty friends (if you call it something else, you are on your own). Like your grand mother told you,some things are better left unsaid.

“This was like embarking on a search for players to play for the Senior National Basketball team,” says an irate old pal and war veteran Jumbo with a sneer, “and after a four month supposedly diligent search you invited Aki (Chinedu Ikedieze) and Pawpaw (Osita Iheme) to camp.

What in the name of sanity would you expect Aki and Pawpaw, the Nollywood dwarfs, to do in basketball? I see a lot of moral dwarfs in the list. It is crazy!” Jumbo was not done,

“Take Rotimi Amaechi, he literally shut down the judiciary in Rivers State and ran the state aground. He may have had challenges with his brother,Jonathan, but the mark of a statesman is that he buries his ego at the altar of service to his people. He is willing to eat the humble pie for his people to rise to greatness.

A man who could not manage a state well to end up as a minister? I craze… The man is too volatile and he is yet to clear himself of all the fraud allegations in his last duty post.”

Jumbo is very concerned about the list and working himself into a rage. He is always concerned about a lot of things.

He wears a frown permanently on his face and, if he had the chance, he would have thought of remaking the world. And he would have done a mighty poor job because he has the temperthe size of the skin on your tooth – which is nil. Perhaps all soldiers who have been scarred in battle are like that.

But the list is not my toothache. President Buhari has the right to pick his team. Though, he boxed himself into a corner by insisting that he was delaying compiling and releasing the list because he wanted to bring out a list of angels. These are not even saints. As a matter of cold fact, it turns out he could not even come up with a decent list of honorable men in the mold of Dr Jekyll. The list contained more of the names of Messrs. Hydes.

To folks who may miss the issue, Dr Jekyll was a medical doctor and the most respected member of a committee plagued by a thief and night marauder known as Mr Hyde. Mr Hyde was a shadowy figure who wreaked havoc in the society.

Dr Jekyll led the manhunt for Mr Hyde and it turned out latter that Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were one and the same person. Dr Jekyll became Mr Hyde in the night. Some of the names were Dr Jekyll for a long time. But now we know them more as former DrJekyll’s     and now Messrs. Hydes.

One had thought to let this list matter ride because Buhari came on the platform of change, and what better way to change a man than to give an untrustworthy man, your account to run. Life gives us second chances and one is all for that – a second chance. So what if the gamble fails and the man fails you and goes back to his old ways? You become sadder and wiser – and life goes on.

Jumbo disagrees and maintains that “You cannot hope to fight corruption by having some men with less than honest disposition in your cabinet. You cannot make omelet with cucumber.”

Jumbo’s grandson, James, rose to Buhari’s defence as apatriotic duty. “He may want to prove that the best way to run a government is to set a thief to catch a thief.” Jumbo snorted, “The ancient wisdom, my son, was to set a\ thief to catch a thief – not set a platoon of thieves to\ catch thieves. When you have too many thieves in a place,you have organized crime.”

One was not particularly perturbed by their conversation.But put in the proper context one became concerned about howBuhari came to make his choices. Thereafter one read LaiMohammed’s reasons for his inclusion in the list and one shook his head in despair.

According to Lai Mohammed, he made the list because he worked hard for the All Progressives Congress and contributed in no small means to the development of the party in Oro (his home town). So this was a case of political settlement and patronage – not quality and competence. Which explains why some of the names on the list are there. The list was not meant for people with good public service records, like we expected, but for those who had travelled the road.

Those who criticized the list, therefore, missed the narrative. This was more like Clint Eastwood sharing the booty with Tuco Benedicto Ramirez in the Spaghetti Western,

“The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.” The delay was never to ensure that the right persons were picked but that the right persons were settled. So here comes “Lai” – and it isnot a lie.

“Having in the list, a man as controversial as Lai and who has always postured more like a propagandist than a public relations man is a misfortune,” says Jumbo. “It is supposed that Lai Mohammed will end up in the Ministry ofInformation. This will be a calamity. The Ministry ofInformation has suffered under Pontius Pilate for too long.

But lately things began to look up for them. Prof Dora Akunyili did a pretty good job. Labaran Maku left a great imprint in the sector before adventuring into politics.

And now comes Goebels.”