By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
FEW give Dr. Cairo Ojougboh credit for his sojourns through the mined terrain of Nigerian politics. The former Member of the House of Representatives and former Deputy National Chairman, South South, of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has survived many battles. He considers himself qualified to prescribe remedies to our woes.
Many still think that height was wasted on him at over six feet. They know nothing about his exploits in university basketball. He was a member of the remarkable 1986 University of Benin team that broke Ahmadu Bello University’s 10-winning streak at the competition University of Ibadan hosted.
Nkem, Ojougboh’s son played university basketball in the United States of America. He missed being drafted into NBA.
These would not be adequate reasons to appoint Ojougboh to manage the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. He deserves the appointment for his most sapient position on the forensic audit of NDDC.
Ojougboh, cerebral as ever, in these matters, has created a nexus between corruption and Nigeria’s unity. He discussed the two issues with dexterous distinctiveness – six months apart. His dribbling feints could have been taken straight from a basketball coaching manual.
The public display of integrity, a value that President Muhmmadu Buhari ranks highly, was Ojougboh’s move in February 2020. The medical doctor was emphatic to Vanguard that NDDC was dead without a forensic audit.
Patriotism is just next to integrity, another Buhari expectation from people he appoints to office. Ojougboh returned to Vanguard, on 28 August 2020, six months after, adorning a more patriotic toga.
He had realised that a forensic audit of NDDC would dash Nigeria’s unity. Ojougboh was talking about the same unity that Nigerian patriots insist was not negotiable. According to him, if the names of those who looted NDDC were to be made public, the battered bandages gluing Nigeria would snap.
Ojougboh deserves to be taken seriously. He must have seen a lot from his vintage position as NDDC’s acting Executive Director, Projects, in the illegal Interim Management Committee, IMC. He made this assertion without a forensic audit. What would we hear after the audit?
He is warning of a welter of crisis that would attend the release of a list of the looters. Ojougboh’s position came days after the President released N722.3m for the audit.
More than anyone else in NDDC, he has a hands on understanding of why NDDC should be spending more on its staff. The national minimum wage may be N18,000 per month, but Ojougboh gets a monthly imprest of N18m only. He justifies it by telling Nigerians he accounts for it; it is an expenditure on his personal security and other things. His imprest is enough to engage 1,000 people on minimum wage monthly. Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, NDDC acting Managing Director, Ojougboh told Vanguard, has a monthly imprest of N51m. The MD, according to Ojougboh feeds 100 policemen, his security team, daily. NDDC could place 2,833 people on minimum wage on that expenditure.
We are left to imagine what the 100 policemen eat. The assumed total of 9,000 meals they consume monthly costs an average of N5,666 per meal. Daily, each policeman consumes N17,000, – N1,000 short of another compatriot’s monthly wage.
These are patterns of the unity Ojougboh wants. He can explain things with gusto.
Ojougboh has placed tough choices before us, death of NDDC or devastation of Nigeria’s unity, an expensive unity over which Nigeria fought a civil war.
What will we choose? We must remember that nobody has applied such clarity to the Nigerian question(s). What does Ojougboh know about the future of Nigeria? Is he suggesting a future that intertwines corruption and unity? Is he pointing a direction to the President?
Can also be assumed that Ojougboh is speaking for interests that cooked a delicious, to them, meal of corruption veiled in Nigeria’s unity.
Ojougboh is therefore the wise choice to manage NDDC. He is a firm believer in the unity of Nigeria, determined that no cost is too much to sustain our unity in corruption. His simple mandate would be to enlighten Nigerians on the benefits of the corruption economy. He would also be expected to apply his patriotic thesis on corruption as an enabler of Nigeria’s unity for the duration of his tenure.
Congratulations Ojoughoh. Your dunk of a proposal is a winner at a time you are the only one whose thinking hat is bristling with befuddling images of Nigeria’s unity.