In the history of warfare, the trouble with the defensive barrier known as "abatis" - used by everybody from the Romans to the Incas and the European World Warriors - is the ease with which it can be destroyed by fire; or the ease with which the ropes or whatever is used to connect the joints can be compromised. In the sphere of politics and ideology, nothing endangers an abatis more than the metaphorical fire of the truth. Besides, an abatis is always porous. Google an image of one if you are not convinced.
Punch newspaper was careless, sloppy, and downright irresponsible. Take a perfectly legitimate area of national malaise - corruption of psychotic proportions in campaign funding- and add figures up irresponsibly and you create a window of escape for the guilty. Two earth-shattering exposes in one edition of a newspaper and both attributed to "undisclosed credible sources"? Common! When you are accusing a sitting President of struggling to recoup corrupt campaign finance funds to the tune of two trillion naira, you've got to do better than "undisclosed credible sources". When, in the same edition of your paper, you claim that a senior aide of the same President was victim of a home invasion and the burglars made away with huge loads of cash (with hints that it is part of the campaign finance funds), you gotta do better than say an "undisclosed amount" was stolen.
Undisclosed this, undisclosed that - Punch, please be advised that we are a non-nation country in dire need of disclosure. I am not surprised that Reuben Abati came after you today and kicked your butt. Abati built an abatis around his principal and went after you. I want Abati and his boss to sue you and either force you to disclose your sources, back up your 2 trillion figure with credible facts and evidence or eat your words, apologize, retract your story, and pay a hefty fine.
But they will not sue you. They cannot sue you. If you look at Abati's press statement today, it is uncharacteristically tame and generous. None of the abrasive, truculent potty-mouthing to which he and Doyin Okupe have accustomed us in four years of irresponsible handling of Villa publicity.They will claim that they are in the spirit of national reconciliation, grand gestures, magnanimity, and moving the nation forward. They will say that they do not want to "heat up the polity" by suing you. They will say that today's weak press statement is more than enough to take care of you.
They are lying. Punch, do not believe them for there is no truth in them. Truth is: they cannot afford any roforofo with you or anybody over the "isale oro" of their campaign funds. The stench! The stench! The horror! The horror! True, you may have ruined things with your own irresponsible and commonsense-defying figure of 2 trillion naira. But our friends in the Villa know that they cannot risk letting Nigeria and the world know how much of our money they stole and poured down the drain of President Jonathan's ill-fated campaign. We may not be anywhere near 2 trillion naira, the more realistic figures are just as likely to cause a national tsunami if revealed.
Abati's abatis is weak and porous and he knows it. When he says in his statement that no public funds were expended on President Jonathan's campaign, we must be kind to him by believing that his brain is currently on sabbatical. When his brain returns from leave, he may want to explain to Nigerians what his boss was doing in the southwest for the six weeks during which the election stood postponed. The dollar rain! Oh, the dollar rain! Unfortunately for these guys, not everybody they woke up in the dead of night with loads and loads of dollars in Ghana must go bags collected their filth. Whether it was half a million dollars cash, a little over half a million dollars cash, a million dollars cash, our friends in the Villa know only too well that there are some upright national leaders who rejected that inducement. They would not be bought. Their conscience and integrity remain intact. It is not impossible that some of these shining examples of integrity will go public some day. They may, they may not but those in their private circles who know what they declined know what they declined. Where did all the dollars accepted by some, declined by some come from? From the President's personal wallet?
Repetition is in order here: Abati's abatis is weak and porous and he knows it. When he says in his statement that no public funds were expended on President Jonathan's campaign, we must be kind to him by believing that his brain is currently on sabbatical. When his brain returns from leave, he may want to explain to Nigerians where all the PDP Governors and heads of parastatals and government departments got all the funds they publicly donated to the campaign from. We are talking of 23 billion naira raised in broad daylight in one event. Even my own Idris Wada returned from that mad Abuja campaign donation spree to sack workers in Kogi because he could not pay salaries. The money that Wada, Akpabio, and co donated on behalf of their states and on behalf of PDP Governors, etc, was all private funds? That is what Abati is saying?
President Jonathan and his team stole so much public funds for their campaign that no area of our national life enjoyed immunity from looting. For over six months, this government has been remitting only 50% of the overhead needed to run our diplomatic missions abroad. They dipped their hands into that one too. Why would a criminally underfunded Foreign Affairs Ministry notify him that Morocco had recalled her Ambassador? If you are close to Nigerian missions, ask them what has been happening but do not name names in order not to endanger people's jobs. These people are vindictive and will not mind going after people between now and May 29.
I have noticed that those of you on the change train; those of you who have a country to build; those of you who want to help the in-coming government start the arduous journey of rebuilding our country and our lives have spent the whole day arguing with Olanrehins stuck in March 28, 2015. That is a mistake. There is no need for that. What you need to do now is to ignore the Olanrehins among us and focus on an Olanrewaju philosophy. Those raised on a morality of differentiation between stealing and corruption; those raised on a moral tableau of goats and yams can afford hair-splitting arguments over the size and the colour of the naira that was looted. If you agree with them - as I absolutely do - that Punch was wholly irresponsible and that 2 trillion naira doesn't make any sense, they may wake up tomorrow and claim that the looted figure being closer to 23 billion naira, their principal deserves a Nobel Prize for peace for peacefully acknowledging the lower heist figure.
The philosophy of Olanrewaju means that you really must stop joining issues with these guys and focus on our own man as exemplar and possibility. I am talking of the possibility of where we want to go as a country: the path of probity and integrity. I for one would want to completely ignore the Olanrehins and see a President Buhari do two things as soon as possible after inauguration:
1) Retire his campaign funds formally in accordance with extant Nigerian laws and best international practices. This would involve a thorough audit and publication of the campaign's income and expenses. Who donated what? The complete document should be archived online in an open-access format. I can pull up Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign finance layout with one click.
2) Make public his repayment plans for the 27 million naira loan he took to buy the APC presidential nomination form. I see Dangote and Otedola hanging around a lot. I don't want GMB to accept anybody's donation to pay off that loan. If it is going to be paid from his monthly salary after May 29, let the country know the details.
These are little steps in the direction of paradigm shift...