Okowa and the beasts of our nation
Not many people still remember George Stephanopoulos. He was the cute, charming media aide to President Bill Clinton. George had known Clinton before he joined the President’s campaign team and was later appointed the President’s spokesman when Clinton blazed his way into the White House to become the 42nd President of the United States.
In the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal that almost cost Clinton his job but diminished his reputation, George was caught in the vortex of contrasting emotions, awe, disappointment, adoration and irritation. It is one of those moments you go through as a media man handling a politician.
George wrote in his political education memoir, All Too Human: “The battle is all but over, and I’m still mystified by the Clinton paradox: How could a president so intelligent, so compassionate, so public-spirited, and so conscious of his place in history act in such a stupid, selfish, and self-destructive manner.”
That was George voicing his disappointment at the man he held in so much awe and deepest respect. He knew the values of Clinton: polished, gentle, intelligent and a truly due process man, and he conformed to these ideals to the open acclamation and laudation of the president himself.
I feel a sense of empathy for George. Working with a politician is a hard job. It is even more difficult if you are the image manager of such politician. And it gets worse if such politician is a bad product: rash, brash, and impetuous. Ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the Chief Press Secretary to iconoclastic President Donald Trump. She goes through fire managing her principal. Sometimes, she has to get militant to match the volcanic tirades of Mr. Trump. It is about knowing who your principal is and conforming to his values.
This is where I blame Mr. Friday Eluro, a security aide of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State who was caught on video assaulting a woman with of course a team of his recruits. Within the same period as if on cue, a certain Miss Favour Ada was stripped by some men of basal values in Edo State for allegedly stealing an i-phone valued at N400,000. So what? Not only was Favour stripped by her male accusers, raw pepper was inserted and robbed all over her vagina in what would pass for the cruelest and vilest show of jungle justice in the modern era. Not even in the crude Nazi days did we hear of such open display of beastly orgy. The Edo beasts accused a lady of theft, set up their own mock court and handed down crudely fatal conviction on the lady. Her plaintive cry, her pliant and feeble frame could not assuage the savagery of her murderous mob of demented traducers.
Just like Eluro, the Edo incident was allegedly masterminded by one Mr. Lucky Igbinovia, a former aide to Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Igbinovia, popularly known as One-Man-Squad, was Special Assistant to Adams Oshiomhole on Community Security during his days as governor of the state. Now, you have an idea what his brief was during the Oshiomhole years.
Rewind the tape a little. In 2018, another security aide, this time one Richard Kpodo, a former security adviser to ex-governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, was being tried for allegedly raping a lady. Kpodo was first arraigned before Justice E. Eradiri of the Bayelsa State High Court, Yenagoa, on July 27, 2018, on a two-count charge of unlawful detention and rape of a 26-year-old female cashier at a hotel owned by the accused. There are yet many other cases of lawlessness and impunity involving aides of those in power. Some were never captured by the media.
In reality, you cannot rule out instances of moments of insanity by aides of politicians. What matters the most is how their principals and law enforcement agencies react to the incidents. In the case of Eluro, Okowa was unsparing. He fired him. In tow, the Chairman of Delta State Traditional Rulers’ Council and Obi of Owa Kingdom in Ika North East Local Government, Obi Emmanuel Efeizomor, de-robed Eluro of his chieftaincy title with immediate effect for “unjustifiable dehumanising act on a helpless woman within the precincts of Owa Kingdom”.
As an aide of Okowa, Eluro failed to adopt the leader-aide rule. Every political appointee must conform to the values of his or her boss. Governor Okowa stands out as one of the most responsible politicians in this clime. Never brash, never rash. He cuts the image of a genteel, principled man. Even when political foes descend to the nadir of ignominy to cast aspersions on his person and leadership, he maintains a stoic stance, refusing to be drawn into the fray of acerbity. A gentleman given to the mores of law, order and due process, he is not one who would condone savagery, thuggery and brigandage in any guise. Okowa would not flail his hand nor lift the hammer to hit an opponent. Rather he tells you with unvarnished equanimity that his accomplishments in office would silence the boisterousness wafting from the opposition political wild.
In sacking Eluro, he said most pointedly: “In the last three and a half years, our administration has worked so hard to entrench the enduring peace in our state. We will not sit back and fold our hands to watch appointees of government or any other person, no matter how highly placed in the society, take laws into their hands.”
The beauty in all of these instances is that the law enforcement agents have moved in to ensure that the law takes full effect as society demands redemptive stirring to restore both the rights and the dignity of the victims.
The lesson in the Okowa exemplum must not be lost on all of us. Every leader must take responsibility for the conduct of their aides. This includes subjecting their actions to the crucible of the rule of law when they err. Okowa did not attempt to cover up the evil conduct of his aide. He was blunt in his total condemnation of the beastly questing of a so-called chief and security aide who ought to exemplify all the virtues and fine tenets of the rule of law including respecting the rights of other lesser mortals.
Eluro did not. He and his likes do not deserve a place in the assembly of noble men like Okowa. He must be marched to the dock, to the court of law which should weigh his actions and dispatch him either to his home on acquittal or behind bars in Nigeria’s dehumanizing and horrendously non-reforming gulag. It is an arbitration the court of law must make now and fast to teach other beasts of our nation a lesson in civil order.
There is enough entropy in the polity. It is overheating with hate speech, tribal and religious bigotry. The likes of Eluro and Igbinovia should not stoke the inferno any further. Enough of this predilection to beastly conquest of fellow beings just because you are drinking from the toxic broth of transient power.
First published in Sunday Sun