On the day he was arraigned for his role in the $2.1 billion arms supply fraud scandal, Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made a curious fashion statement. Metuh dressed Igbo, crowned with a red Ogbuefi cap!
Of course, nobody is fooled. He didn’t choose his attire for that outing on a whim. He chose it calculatingly. He suited himself to the immediate expediency. He was in a corner when he needed to appeal to atavistic identity loyalty. An identity loyalty that predisposes the gullible to feeling proprietary rage about the oppression of their “brother”.
Metuh did not dress Igbo because he happened to discover the beauty of neo-traditional Igbo dress sense in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He loathed to dress like a person of Igbo nativity before now. He would only grudgingly slip into an Igbo attire if a grand occasion, like a campaign rally in a SouthEast State, imposed the demand on him.
He was compelled to model Igboness, on his way to the courthouse, as a means to an end. He reasoned that an Igbo costume would change the optics of his trial. The symbolism of Igbo ethnicity would clothe and cover his person and overshadow his individuality.
Metuh wants to reimagine his trial to the trial of the Igbo man. He wants, by the use of cheap imagery, to alter the features of his trial and make it appear to be a derivative of the Buhari administration’s putative hatred for the Igbo people.
Metuh is resorting to Igbo wears because of necessity. He realizes he needs that trump card to win tribal solidarity. He wants all the support of the Igbo he can get even though he collected the blood money single-handedly and secretly.
For his court appearance, Metuh rented a band of supporters club that besieged the court premises. That is probably the only redistribution he made.
Metuh, to be sure, stole a glance at the playbook of his other friends. Raymond Dokpesi, the one who ran series of noxious anti-Buhari hate documentaries on his media stations, sent the President holiday cards!
That was meant to be a PR coup that would rebound as goodwill on Dokpesi. Dokpesi is large-hearted. Dokpesi loves Buhari. Dokpesi loves the man whose government is trying him for corruption!
Haliru Mohammed Bello, former acting Chairman of PDP and former Minister of Defence, came to the court in a wheelchair. It was his way of dramatizing that he was unfit to ‘’stand trial’’.
For his part, Metuh, decided to weaponize Igbo dress. He banked on the presumption that if he looked Igbo enough, he would benefit from the strong wave of putative Igbo anger that has followed the arrest and continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, the Director of Radio Biafra and leader of Indigenous People of Biafra.
But that will not happen!
Even the credulous Igbo folks who fancy that the secession propagandist, Kanu, is pursuing a legitimate Igbo project know that Metuh has never been associated with anything that can be mistaken for an Igbo cause. Metuh has never pretended that he aspires to something more than entrenching himself in Nigeria’s hemorrhage politics.
The Igbo eyes see through the artificiality of Metuh’s theatre. His Igbo clothes fit but they look borrowed. He just does not embody either Igbo interest. Nor does he personify responsible Igbo citizenship.
During the 16 years his party controlled the Nigerian presidency, Metuh never called the attention of the Federal Government to the deplorable state of the federal roads in the SouthEast, his home geopolitical zone. When he became the spokesman of the then ruling PDP, he never articulated or sold any policy concept that would improve the fortunes of the people of the SouthEast and their environment.
Metuh concerned himself with boasting about the invincibility of the PDP and playing catch-up with the prolific press statement spinner, Lai Mohammed, the All Progressive Congress (APC) spokesman. Deficient in the skills of Party brand management, Metuh took to name-calling and wanton use of outlandish metaphors, like calling the APC the Nigerian Janjaweed. He sowed this bigoted notion in the South East and PDP candidates ran with it, making the vilification of APC as an Islamist party the substitute to a manifesto.
What may pass as Metuh’s only substantive contribution to the Igbo race would be his deployment of his own self as a mercenary thug in Abia State Governorship elections.
On Sunday, April 12, 2015, Metuh, an Anambra indigene, invaded the premises of Independent National Electoral Commission, Umuahia along with then incumbent Governor Theodore Orji and Onyema Ugochuckwu, intimidated the elderly woman Resident Electoral Commissioner and forced her to reverse the cancellation of some outrageously falsified results.
The Court of Appeal has nullified that reversal, literally obtained at gunpoint, and the consequential victory Metuh’s party had obtained by gangster sexist harassment!
Indeed, when his present case is determined, it would be necessary for the Nigerian state to try him for his well reported part in coercing an electoral official to do his bidding by threat of physical violence.
The ‘‘lawyer’’, a supposedly learned man, tore to shreds the confessional statement he had voluntarily made to the EFCC. He is even reported to have attempted to ingest the document and chew it –like a hungry goat devours a tuber of yam!
In the meantime, Metuh needs to know that he is on his own in this case. The case is wholly his. And he would be better off treating it as such.
He cannot invite the generality of Igbo people to subscribe to his persecution complex. He didn’t negotiate the bribe in the name of the tribe. And the Igbo people or their representative did not mandate him to collect blood money on their behalf.
Metuh did it all by himself. Now that he has earned a charge of wrongdoing resultant from that solo endeavor, he cannot draw the generality of Igbo people in.
Metuh lodged the 400 million he made from the fraud jackpot in his private account. He used his personal company, Destra Investment Limited, as a front for the transaction. He took it for himself.
Nobody would have known that he got richer if the arms scam had not bust like a giant balloon of pus. And Metuh would never have considered donating the money to World Igbo Congress,Ohaneze Nd’Igbo;or his town union. He would have spent the money on himself.
Now that he is trapped in the muck of disgrace, Metuh, cannot invite Igbo people to share in his culpability. We are not just interested. And he cannot make us feel emotionally disturbed by his trial.
Actually, Metuh’s involvement in this scandal is an embarrassment on the Igbo race. More so, his flight to the refuge of the shell of an Igbo attire accentuates the shame. His dressing purports to convey the impression that fraud is compatible with Igbo values.
This is not true.
Nd’Igbo customarily dispense instant, on-the-spot fatal punishment for stealing. The thief is considered to have forfeited the right to live by undertaking to rob another. Even today, a chap who filches a match box in Onitsha market would be converted –through the contributory beating of a mob –into a battered, bleeding and broken mass of flesh and bones!
Metuh abused the red cap. The red cap is part of the paraphernalia of a chieftaincy awarded to Igbo sons of sterling character and exemplary achievements. It is not meant for the decoration of thieves on their way to trial.
On the flipside, though, it is instructive that Metuh chose a red cap… of all colors. The irony is striking. A man charged for receiving blood money crowns himself with a blood-red cap!