One of Nigeria's most dangerous politicians, Godwin Daboh Adzuana is dead. Mr. Daboh died on Thursday at the Garki Hospital after a prolonged illness with diabetes.
Mr. Daboh came to national prominence in 1974 when he accused Joseph Tarka, the Federal Federal of Communications of corruption. In a country where to be in office is to be some kind of demi-god, the allegations of corruption against Mr. Tarka, a fellow Benue man, catapulted the unknown businessman onto the national stage. Mr. Tarka was forced to resign his appointment.
Daboh, whose allegations were said to have been sponsored by other stalwarts of Benue politics, Paul Unongo and then state governor Joseph Gomwalk, moved on to establish a local newspaper which he said was aimed at sweeping corrupt public officials out of office and frustrate such politicians from being elected. Its victims, however, described the newspaper as an instrument of blackmail and intimidation.
Nonetheless, Daboh’s business empire began to expand, and he established an office in Lagos Island, within striking distance in 1979, of the Second Republic’s National Assembly, where Joseph Tarka had assumed a new role as Senator of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
It was within that period that Daboh gave up all pretensions of being an anti-corruption crusader as NPN stalwarts brokered peace between he and Tarka in exchange for government contracts.
“He was a shifty, shady man,” said a reporter from The Punch newspaper who interviewed him in 1980 in his Lagos Island office. “He turned on all kinds of CIA-style audio and video recordings when he thought the questions would all favour him, and then turned them all off when he discovered I was not going to play to a script.”
In the years that followed, Daboh gained reputation as an influence peddler and manipulator, hanging around the offices of top government leaders and party officials seeking contracts.
In a famous case, he spoke in a newspaper interview of how "a former president introduced him to a governor and he was awarded a contract of N1.2billion to supply motorcycles."
Declared Daboh of his exploits: "I went to China and arranged for these motorcycles to be supplied. Thereafter, I made a profit of N650million."
In the case of his shopping mall complex in Makurdi, he accused State Governor Gabriel Suswam of refusing to issue him a Certificate of Occupancy, thereby waging an economic war against him. Without the C of O, he said, people were afraid to rent those shops.
The state government, in turn, declared that one of the conditions for the issuance of a C of O is the tax record of the applicant, suggesting that Mr. Daboh’s records in that regard, which would involve many businesses and vast incomes, were suspect.
Daboh did not answer that question. Instead, he drew up a list of many powerful and influential Nigerians and distributed to them copies of an S.O.S. letter urging them to intervene.
In 2007, Daboh was on the “Ibrahim Babangida for President” bandwagon, swearing that only God could stop IBB from becoming President. He said IBB had paid for his criminal annulment of the 1992 election by facilitating the election of President Obasanjo.
In 2010, IBB was again a presidential candidate, but Daboh was nowhere in sight, having joined the Goodluck Jonathan for President bandwagon. He famously advised IBB to disappear from the race or be disgraced.
IBB, unimpressed, used mutual friends to con Daboh, who was at the time the national president of the Benue State Elders Forum and Deputy Coordinator of Concerned PDP Elders for Jonathan/Sambo 2011, into an unexpected face-to-face meeting in front of television cameras designed to portray him as a two-faced politician.
IBB then reportedly warned of Daboh, “He would turn against Jonathan even before the end of this year.”