By Philip Agbese
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalms 23:5
For the acting Managing Director and Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs Ibim Semenitari, the words of Psalms 23:5 hold true. President Muhammadu Buhari appointed her to post as detractors from her home state of Rivers mobilised to rubbish her achievements as the Commissioner for Information under the immediate past administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as governor.
The desperation of those after Semenitari was such that they got to the rabid extent of turning logic on its head just so they nail their quarry. They were in such hurry that what they could come up with was the allegation that she borrowed over N1 trillion during her tenure as commissioner. A cursory look at the approval limit of each public officer for each level of government instantly trashes the campaign of calumny mounted against this lady as stuff that should be consigned to the realm of beer parlour gossip. One must be heavily drunk on cheap alcohol bought with stolen public funds to by the hogwash being peddled in the public space about Ibim Semenitari.
A key aim of that campaign was to create the impression that President Buhari has appointed a corrupt person into public office. Recall that an even more intense hate campaign was mounted against her former boss, Rotimi Amaechi with the sole goal of blocking his emergence as a minister. This line of thought fails for one simple reason. A president, in Nigeria, usually requests background checks before naming people to positions – this check include security checks and also input from anti-corruption agencies. The attempt to belittle the person of the acting Managing Director has thus unwittingly come out being an indictment of the nation’s security and anti-graft agencies by implying that they did not properly screened her candidacy before giving Mr President the green light for the appointment to be made.
Another faux pas from the anti-Semenitari gang is exposing their hands too early in the game. Like every other agency under the past administration to which they owe loyalty, the NDDC easily qualified to be one of the top ten most corrupt institutions. It was likely one of the subsidiary ATMs that funded the campaign of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). When the turning wheel of the anti-corruption war gets to this agency, the rot uncovered in the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) could prove to be childs-play considering the fanatical sense of ethnic ownership with which its activities were managed. This is a serious cause of sleeplessness for this gang as they await reckoning with trepidation.
Their hues and cry is thus consistent with the natural knee jerk reactions of persons who do not want a reformer in tune with President Buhari’s vision for change to take charge of affairs. Semenitari must have triggered such tsunami of panic among all the goats that ate the yams in the NDDC that they believe intimidating her with phantom allegations would dim her resolve to make the agency work for the people of the Niger Delta the way it was envisioned when it was established. The agency simply has to stop being the meal ticket for a few people and those who will lose their gluttonous meals on account of a new sheriff coming to town at the NDDC cannot sleep easy.
An additional facet to the tantrum being thrown in Port Harcourt over the appointment has to do with the compassion one must have for adults who remain toddlers even in the twilight of their political careers. Attempting to deprive the nation of a capable hand in running of the NDDC on account of local or state politics takes clueless selfishness to a new low. It takes such supreme selfishness to conveniently ignore the fact that there are other states covered by the NDDC and not just Rivers state – of course some proxies were recruited into the assault but it remained largely the affairs of a disgruntled few from Rivers state. Anyone with an open mind will also appreciate that that the agency, by virtue of its mandate, transcends even those south-south and oil producing states. They should have thus find alternate ways of resolving state level squabbles without coming out looking like sore losers.
Furthermore, on the level of conspiracy theory, one can wildly guess that these fellows want to raise false alarms and thereby throw the anti-corruption agencies off the scent of their own wrong doings.
There discussion in hushed tones about things that went down at several educational agencies under a particular leadership. The combine fraud that could be potentially uncovered and connected to this certain leadership is touted to be in the realm of a couple trillion naira. What better strategy of evading scrutiny than to send the EFCC and ICPC on a wild goose chase. First, it will dissipate resources and energy. Secondly it allowing the agencies to go on such futile chase will prepare the ground for them to also dismiss their findings as spurious when the time for reckoning comes.
It is on this note that one must appeal to President Buhari not to allow the antics of these trouble makers distract the rescue mission and the recovery of our stolen commonwealth. Their expectations that the anti-corruption agencies would be easily overburdened must be deflated while the acting Managing Director of the NDDC should be encouraged to proceed with the marching order to clean up the place.
Mrs Ibim Semenitari must also know that all eyes are on her. She cannot afford to perform less than she did as a Commissioner for her state as Nigeria deserve such sterling quality of service particularly at a time when the nation has collectively chosen a new direction to go. The rantings of this rabble-rousers should not in any way deter her from the resolve she expressed on the day she resumed office. She has the leave of Nigerians to continue to make them have sleepless nights.
Agbese, an international public affairs commentator wrote in from the United Kingdom.