St. Stella Oduah: Igbo Hubris And The Canonisation of Corruption
By Taju Tijani
Stella Oduah, the glorified ogre who runs the aviation ministry has finally bombed the system and fouled the polity with a disturbing hubris of narrow egotistical considerations. The mantle of queen of the fast and furious oddly fits a woman who is notorious for hard work. What then explains the ongoing notoriety of her scandalous fraud that could form a pretext for the destruction of our social democracy? Nigerian politicians and public office holders are radically rascal. To them sophisticated plunder of public money is another form of political respectability. What is sustaining this ancient instinct is the mad desire to out-do, out-steal and out-plunder the next available competitor.
However, some educated, yet illiterate public commentators and their Igbo lay supporters are coming out of their closet to offer clannish solidarity to Stella Oduah who is a liar, money carnivore, thief, greedy, selfish, shameless, corrupt, a disgrace, an aberrant, a rake, plunderer, parasite and a cheat. These earnest and fervent defenders of fallen Igbo kinsmen/women would not allow fairness and truth to get the better part of their polemical valour. Why feeling assured of any Igbo rectitude when the whole field of fact and proof suggest that a fraud, crime and stealing have been committed? Why would any sane person raise tribal flag for Stella Oduah, Barth Nnaji, Cosmas Maduka, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dora Akunyili, Ndidi Onyuike or any Igbo person caught in the very act of fraud and corruption? Who wants to canonise Oduah for her monstrous shame? Why this collective Igbo hubris over a fallen yellow devil from Anambra State?
When Babtunde Fashola, the horticulturist but delivery-driven Governor of Lagos State was caught in the loop of armoured car scandal, I set aside our common Yoruba bloodline and wrote with candour and rebuked the outrageous public money wasted on two bullet proof cars. In August 2011, in an article titled ‘Governor Fashola: Public Conscience Vs N600million Armoured Jeep’, I wrote: “This Fashola action sickens and boggles the mind. This profligacy; this affirmative embrace of vulgar, vexing and Sybaritic lifestyle is enough to trigger liberal rebellion against both Fashola and his party, the ACN.
Whoa! Strange that the culture of feral and outrageous spending that tarnished the image of Abuja could be cascading down to downtown Lagos. They are now faffing around on Fashola’s doorstep. Nice one, Gov! The eccentricity of leaders in Nigeria is mind bending. If the grubby truth of security must be told, would Fashola believe that his genitalia, bottom and limb could be protected by N200million gyroscopic machine in the face of a determined assassin or angry mob? To be safe is dead right, but to pursue that dream in a sealed bubble of expensive safety toy reeks of narrow egotistical consideration which mocks public conscience.
In the UK where I live, my Prime Minister, David Cameron drives around his sceptred isle in a lovely, gleaming, racing green Jaguar saloon car. He travels the world in his national carrier, the British Airways. He has no fleet of prestige cars. No Aston Martin. No Prado Jeep. No Mercedes Benz. No Bentley. No BMW. He announces his prime ministerial presence in that solid symbol of old British motoring pride – the Jaguar.” Oduah-vorous submarine purchase infamy, sorry BMW, has now shown that profligacy and reckless spending impulse of public money ferment in a more politically surreal times like ours. How do we then eliminate this corroding political impunity of office holders and the promotion of a universal and equitable distribution of Nigeria’s petro-wealth? Simply put, forget comfort, fight now! Nigeria’s form of democracy does not promote austerians in government.
Rather politicians are nothing but money-grabbing ass and dick- lickers like odious Stella Oduah. Greed-addicted forces dominate our political, economic and social systems. Our entire economic paradigm is a threat to the continued survival of poor and disadvantaged Nigerians. The greed, the impunity and gross profligacy of Stella Oduah and her band of public-servant thieves are signposting this nation toward a complete and permanent economic, social and political shift from our tragic system of sustaining few elites against the survival of over 160 million helpless Nigerians.
The grossly disturbing political and social hubris of our nation is seen in naira arrogance, car arrogance, private jet arrogance, homes-in-Dubai-South Africa arrogance, opulent mansion arrogance and other anachronistic deviants we deployed in our day to day democracy. In the profundity of our ignorance, we equate this lifestyle of ‘political bling’ as normal in a moral-starved nation like Nigeria. Nowhere in the universe politicians live like they live in Nigeria. In modern terminology, our politics is now about bling.
And as every West coast rapper, New York socialite and East LA gang leader knows full well, if the price to be paid to herald your power, presence and prestige is a million dollar pad, private jet, or a million dollar lustrous, monstrous and shiny land beast like Oduah’s BMW, why not go for them. This lavish access to opulent living by few political elites is a confirmation that black African democracy deals in corruption, moral ambiguity, lies, impunity, brutality, colonial coercion, hypocrisy, cronyism, political duplicity, rentierism, felonic behaviour and lofty distaste for the emancipation of the poor they all sworn to serve.
In Nigeria, politicians and ministers of the realm fear the people they are paid to love, protect and serve. But in the politically vibrant West, it is not unconventional to rob shoulders, even rudely, with the Mayor of London, ministers, Lords, judges, police chiefs, directors, MPs and baronesses on the tube as we all chug along merrily to our places of calling on daily basis. A poor country like Nigeria purchases armoured cars for its aviation minister while the hard working Mayor of a leading city like London, Boris Johnson, paddles on his bike to work. There goes humility in power! There goes political common touch! Nigeria is seriously dealing with a broken moral compass here!
If Boris Johnson, Ed Miliband and David Cameron would face a whole mob and die under their pile of stones like a Steven, why not Oduah, Fashola, Calamity Jonathan or any other paid, public official in Nigeria? Never! A pompous Stella Odua does not want to die for Nigeria that gives her the opportunity to steal, live like an LA rapper, drive blinged up Beemers, bully aviation staffers, pay her dollar salary and other hidden perks. A small threat to the serenity of our bling, bling masters in Abuja and Cosmas (Cocharis) Maduka is smiling all the way to the bank.
The ongoing atrophy of public accountability and proper sentencing for documented corruption and fraud like Oduahgate obliquely hints of privatisation of justice in Nigeria especially among a tiny clique of elites, who are enemies of Nigeria and violent opponents of her deliverance from shame to honour. Calamity Jonathan’s presidency lost ethical legitimacy the very moment he decided to pardon an ex-convict by the name of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. From then, he lost the momentum to arrest corruption.
As I write, Stella Oduah, the car carnivore, has been perfecting the usual linguistic brio of denying complicity in the procurement, purchase and payment of N255million armoured Beemers meant to protect her limbs from airport touts. Once again, who wants to canonise her for dirty dealing?