Wada Nas And The Price Of Loyalty

by Banjo Odutola

The cardinal advice in political observation is that it is inadvisable to flog an issue as if there are none others in need of attention. Nevertheless, as for the reference to Mallam Wada Nas, his politics have not escaped my attention on a few occasions; so, I return. His public display of loyalty and lack of the same from the family of Sani Abacha, whom he defends above the required allegiance to uphold the honour of this nation as required in the national pledge holds a fascination for me. It dramatises human subjugations in the face of its failings. Mind you, the Mallam is not alone in the exercise of blind loyalty and I shall attempt to demonstrate this. Now that he has become a self styled political consultant for the Buhari presidential team – an office that may not be official and in line with Abachas’ defence; is he seeking relevance?

He has an excellent flair for cataloguing and communicating what he regards as failings in the present political leadership, even though his evidence and pleadings are often at variance. I must admit that some of his generic evidence relating to other matters apart from the Abacha family have the hallmark of the ‘smoking gun’ that Hans Blix cannot find in Iraq. In other words, it ought to be granted to him that although he is incapable of marshalling a sustainable submission, his evidence is at times incontrovertible. Take for example, the Mallam had alerted the nation to the findings of the Auditor General’s report as it pertains to the presidency and that was long before the report was published. Also, his conclusion before the charges of Transparency International were published was timely.

Although his focus of attention has been a disguised personal attack on President Obasanjo; at least, that is the only conclusion that can be drawn. He makes no attempt to disguise his dislike for neither the president’s style of leadership nor government and there is nothing wrong in such disapprovals. Yet, here is a man that served in an administration that defied criticisms. What an irony! This is the reason why his disapprovals are an enterprise in shameful hypocrisy. Given the skill to communicate, why is he the butt of many irreverent political jokes? Why is his clamouring or crusade for a better nation ignored? The crux is that not many people trust the Mallam to be truthful at all times and that is a charge a commentator must avoid. The Mallam’s loyalty to the Abachas is not for the expurgation of corruption in our system, it is not about truth and neither is it about fairness nor the rule of law, which he pretends. His attempt and public cry on behalf of the Abacha scion is an example of suborning the rule of law. He pleaded for executive intervention while the case was still in court and when the judicial system acquitted the defendant, he started to champion the praise that our legal system works. Funny isn’t it?

His crusade that the Abachas have not wronged this nation, even where the evidence is damning enough for him to reconsider his stance, further damages his credibility. Buhari ought to consign the Mallam to the backroom. Let the Mallam be seen but not heard. A elections consultant would always advise that the consultant must never be the focus of negative electioneering. The Mallam would only distract from the candidate. If the Mallam could not be trusted in the matters of the State vs Mohammed Abacha; he is an electioneering liability, who would continue to pay a price for his loyalty. But is it honourable to pay this type of price when posterity would remember him ignominiously? If I were in his place, I would wish to be remembered for my failings and not the ones of others.

Let me make clear that the converse of my position may be misconstrued as an approval of what the Mallam disapproves. Such a conclusion is inaccurate and presumptive. My primarily focus is about the price of this type of loyalty and the danger it portends for nationhood. It so happens that I focus on the Mallam because of his courage, which earns my respect even if his foolhardiness, gaurcherie and subservience are deplorable. The Mallam has served this nation at the temple of its power and there is a decorum by which his ilk ought to deal with national issues. But he carelessly ignores such decorum. His first allegiance should and must continue to be for the country. It is good that he appeals to others to salvage the nation. His ideals must be beyond hiring out his services as a paladin for and on behalf of the Abachas.

When President Obasanjo lamented that he had agreed to the Abachas retaining $100 million of the Nigerian treasury funds, the Mallam was quick to remind us that the Abachas made the money in commercial transactions without volunteering the commercial ventures permissible for a serving Head of State or his associated persons. Also, he informed us that the Abachas have neither agreed nor signed any deals to return funds to the State. That is Wada Nas for you. He stops at nothing to demonstrate that truth is a relative term and this is a conclusive evidence to relegate him from the forefront of Buhari’s campaign.

By inference he called Obasanjo a liar. Now, that the Swiss Embassy has corroborated Obasanjo’s account; is the president having the last laugh? I have always wondered why Obasanjo never reacts to the Mallam’s gaucherie, as he once did to Professor Sam Aluko. It may well be because Sam Aluko was relevant until he defended his senator son, when silence or public chastisement of a son who has become a political trollop would have been more appropriate. Here is a son who is doing well at destroying a good family name built on self-sacrifice and hard work – all because of his greed for acquisition and success. Do you recall the service of Sam Aluko, who could not convert transport allowance paid by The University of Nigeria, Nsukka? Compare that service to his senator son’s political dealings; yet the man said he could not understand what ‘a small boy’ would do with millions. I can. The money and concomitant ego have granted his senator son, the arrogance to ignore the essence of leadership and stewardship. Once, he responded to an article in such a disgraceful manner unbefitting a public servant. He could not proffer a superior argument than his accuser. Instead, he was boastful that he is done well in life. Even, when his compeers confirmed his malversation – an act for which the Senate later ‘pardoned’ him and his cohorts.

This is a young man that continues to exchange his family’s good name for a pot of Chuba Okadigbo’s soup. He may have been an employer of labour as he once boasted; he may be worth a pack in comparison to the ‘frustrated Nigerians living abroad’ as he opined, the cost of loyalty that his father continues to pay is so great and unfortunate; whereas, you cannot but be very proud of the erudite son. I admit that in familial situations, I may do the same as Sam Aluko. Nonetheless, too many who have revered Prof Aluko, the charge of insanity as laid by the president, in light of this senator child is somewhat sustainable. What a price to pay?

Now back to Wada Nas. On the one hand, was he prevaricating when he informed the nation that the Abachas signed no deal to return funds to our treasury? On the other hand, I am prepared to consider that the Mallam is a self styled defender of the Abachas. So, in that case, would a decent family not have advised their crusader to lower the tempo of his defence? The silence of the family acquiesces to what the Mallam volunteers on their behalf. Would the Mallam now advise that the confirmation by the Swiss Embassy is a fraud? Has our government perpetrated this fraud against a foreign one? Where is the truth in this matter? If the Swiss Embassy is correct then President Obasanjo is not the liar that the Mallam seeks to portray; the credibility of the Mallam is at stake and it is unfortunate that a typical example of blind loyalty is destroying a noble man. How I wish the Mallam could take account of the inaccuracies of the Abachas and be candid with himself. After all, he desires the best for the nation and what he desires demands re-evaluation of his ideals.

The support of unworthy people is not confined to Wada Nas and Sam Aluko. The exercise is ubiquitous in our society because moral ethics and code are no longer considered relevant to society. And, the government spearheads the anomaly. Take the example of disqualification and supposedly promise of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the Governor of Anambra State – Dr. C. Mbadinuju as another loyalty for which its price will be an anathema to progress and nation building. The Chairman of PDP confirms the plethora of reasons for disqualifying the governor to run for a second term. Yet, the disqualified governor is ‘promised’ an ambassadorial appointment, if PDP is returned to power. Is this a meaningless promise designed to comfort the governor? Is the government not aware that the support of the governor to win the State for his successor is a consideration that may embarrass the party? Did the government make the promise or did the party make it? Why should anyone consider a man who failed woefully in Anambra State to represent this country abroad? What type of politics is this and I mean if the promise is true, what type of government is this?

In closing, this country can no longer afford the type of Tom Ikimi in our foreign service nor the dishonourable loyalty at home. It is true that in any society, sycophancy is part of life. However, when it is displayed on the innate rights of others, then it should be questioned openly. I seek neither to embarrass Wada Nas, Aluko or Mbadinuju; I am at a loss at the legacy we are preparing for our children, who may be accepting the aberrations in our society as the norms of a civilised one. This cannot be right and neither do I envisage that sycophancy will come to an end. Nonetheless, I believe that as some of us question the status quo, our children will accept that in this country, there exists a different view of opinion.

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