James Ibori is the quintessential raw material for a thriller writer. He is the value-neutral, graft-drunk dude from rogue to riches and because he could swing backwards, he is also the dude from riches to rogue. Ibori is the journalist, columnist and reporter’s delight. They could approach and assault his travail from many creative angles to deliver a readable gem. His life, wealth and exile are works in progress that suddenly stopped, but to a writer the fun really begins where the stoppage ends. That, in a thumbnail, is the character of an enterprising writer.
The inkpot can never dry on Ibori. There is still mileage of writing to harvest from his unique name and unique circumstances. Iborinitis as a genre is the new popular discovery which is providing literary frenzy in the public domain.
James Onanefe Ibori is not a man I admire. Wherever he is now, life is hell, the whole human race is bastards and everything is bullshit. Conveniently, Ibori will not remember to tell his bullshitting world of his greed and cowardice. He will not tell the world of his obscene obsession for ‘Manila taste’: big collar shirts, Gucci neckties and endless flow of Hennessey XO. He belongs to the race of fashionista, those rich slaves forever festooned to fashion and high living.
Well there is no special code to open the Chinese boxes on Ibori’s variegated life. We do not need to turn hunches to hypotheses to unravel Ibori. Or rather piquantly, there is no disquieting opaqueness of who Ibori is. Who is James Onanefe Ibori? Ibori is a Deltan Diasporean who once moonlighted as a cab driver in London. Ibori is the former Governor of Delta state and husband of one wife but a serial lover to many young, beautiful girls. Further, he has acquired the dubious appendage of a cleaner of treasury and a controller of the high and mighty. As a politician, Ibori was an enigma. He was a playmaker, bulldozer, fixer, silencer and a destroyer of both reputation and honour. He enforced the appointment of high profile public office holders.
He massaged judges appetites for crispy naira notes distributed through massagers in his employment. Legend had it that he is as rich as both Croesus and Rockefeller combined. That was old wealth anyway. His new wealth tied the soft hands of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to such ignominious inaction that Ibori became the Nigerian outlaw who dictated appointments, promotions and even schedule copulation times of males Ministers with their wives. He was the fabled overreacher whose stretched hands reached into the farthest recess of this nation’s decision making citadel
Ibori was Yar’Adua’s unofficial oracle who foretold and interpreted political omen, the presence of demons and the realignment of political positions to the delight of his inner caucus. Ibori is the dashing, dapper, debonair lad with uncolourful past. His life in the Diaspora was coloured with fraud and mystery. He defrauded in the UK and probably pumped the money through a secret PDP money laundering conduit that guaranteed the gubernatorial primary ticket of 1999. For the next 8 years he feasted mercilessly on the spoils of the Deltans. Awo may be a politician venerated for integrity and legacy, but Ibori belonged to a different generation of sleazy Nigerian politicians who believe in now. Like my daughter will cajole and tell daddy to do it, now, now, now!!!
When a politician is defiantly deficient in integrity and legacy but believes in instant gratification, he ends up a rich man while the rest of the nation is poorer, even after 11 years of peaceful, participatory democracy. Ibori is a bulldozer. Once he captured the state treasury, he bankrupted the cash vault and funded his own private army. Hungry fighters milled to him as flies to honey. From Oracle to the President of the Federation, Ibori graduated a notch further and became a demi god with power to save and kill.
Ibori is the quintessential Nigerian political rogue. Ibori has no childish illusion of a blessed sainthood but aware that he is an incorrigible thief. Ibori and other politicians draw water from the same fountain. They sing from the same hymn sheet. They steal, kill and destroy using the same means and orthodoxy. Ibori is the riches to rouge story. He is a fugitive, an outlaw, outcast, immoral specimen and the friend of no sane person. He has acquisitive appetites and aggrandizes properties in far flung Dubai, South Africa, UK, USA and possibly the Caribbean. He fulfills the cliché of a corrupt former Governor and owns expensive marques, thousands of Saville Row suits, Gucci ties, Italian shoes, diamond encrusted wrist watches and limitless pot of cash to the dizzying tune of N44billion naira.
Nemesis is such a sweet and divine antidote to excesses. N44billion naira is damn too much money to own by a former cab-driver-turned-governor. The philosophy of greed-is-good epitomized by Michael Milken, the 80’s junk bond king has its devastating consequences. Ibori is today a dead lion with many baleful, snarling hyenas hunting for his warm blood to feast upon. The law in the UK and Nigerian want their own slice of trophy. We are all morally certain of his guilt.
In Dubai, Ibori is emaciated, weak and troubled. He fled from wife, kids and secure home to the tempestuous outlaw fringe of a fugitive lifestyle with no peace but fear as bedmate and the sadism of a prolonged political loneliness.