Obiano’ short stick

Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu

For former Anambra State Governor Mr. Willie Obiano, the last seven days have been extremely eventful. On March 17,2022, he had had to leave the exalted position of Anambra State Governor having handed over to Mr. Charles Chukwuma Soludo.

On that day, while he sat stock still, he had to endure the public humiliation that followed his wife`s unsightly altercation with Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, wife of former Biafran warlord Mr. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The former governor left the venue shell-shocked following the altercation which has since gone viral drawing wave after wave of bad publicity for the former first family of Anambra State.

He was soon to endure more humiliation when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission picked him up Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos just as he was about to depart to Houston Texas USA with his family.

Months before his exit from power in Anambra State brought his immunity as a sitting governor to expiration, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had reportedly placed Mr. Obiano on its watch list. With time having taken its toll on his immunity as governor, the EFCC swooped to take him into custody for questioning.

Mr. Willie Obiano`s questioning or grilling by the EFCC as the case may be was going well away from the prying eyes of the public and the elephantine memory of the social media until a certain video shot just under 12 seconds went viral.

The video showed the former governor sat in the custody of the EFCC, clad in shorts and drinking a bottle of water. If the video was meant to be funny or to draw plaudits for the EFCC for putting the former Anambra State governor on the hotseat on allegations of frittering away billions from the coffers of Anambra State while he was governor, it has spectacularly backfired.

The chorus of condemnation for the EFCC has been loud and lacerating, with many fashioning sticks out of the video with which they have poked the ribs of the economic and financial crimes fighting agency while mercilessly reminding it of its predilection for media trial.

The video has also seen many allude to Nigeria`s lurid romance with ethnicism in alleging that the video was circulated to humiliate the former Anambra State governor and strip him of his dignity given that he comes from the southeast region of the country that has held the short end of the stick since Mr. Muhammadu Buhari slipped to defeat in the extremely slippery slopes of the region during the general elections of 2015 and 2019.

Under a tidal wave of condemnation, the EFCC has come out to say it has identified its staff who leaked the video and commenced disciplinary actions against him.

Like many others like him who governed states in Nigeria, Mr. Obiano left office with a mixed legacy. Reports of quiet achievement in transforming Anambra State were quickly offset by allegations of extravagant spending of the state`s resources and even debauchery.

Yet, that a video which should have drawn mirth from Nigerians has instead drawn opprobrium for the EFCC shows that it must do more to shake off its perceived obsession with media trial. The Commission has since scrambled to contain the effects of the video, and reiterate that Mr. Willie Obiano`s predicament at the hands of the Commission is not politically motivated. But the Commission must do more.

The world is under unprecedented scrutiny from the social media and every day, many people and events are always just a click away from going viral and being vaulted into the valley of embarrassment. Because the internet does not forget, once a clip goes viral, damage limitation is mostly like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

In a month where the EFCC announced that within the last one year it had recovered N152 billlion, $386 million and recorded 2,220 convictions, what the Commission is doing well and what it needs to improve is clear for all to see.

Pervasive corruption remains endemic in Nigeria and as the country scrambles to fight the scourge, the bodies responsible can do without the distraction occasioned when some of its rogue staff go on a frolic of their own to indulge the wild unpredictability of the social media.

 

Kene Obiezu,

keneobiezu@gmail.com

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