4th December, 2013
By Bamidele Johnson
I admit that I am not a member of the Oduah People’s Congress. To be clear, this is not the OPC of Frederick Fasehun or Gani Adams. The new OPC has in its ranks people who love the admittedly inviting face of the beleaguered Ms. Stella Oduah, will gladly lick her spit and crawl on broken glass for her. Now that my position has been stated, I guess I can go on to the matter at hand.
A few days back, a colleague and I were discussing the Aviation Minister’s indiscretion as represented by the purchase of bullet-proof cars. My colleague was worried that the matter had lost steam and feared that the woman was cleverly lying low to make Nigerians forget about her, hoping that another top government official gets embroiled in a scandal, so she could get on with her life. I did not disagree with him despite President Jonathan saying the report of the probe of the scandal was on his desk. Probe reports in Nigeria mean nothing. The President–and his predecessors–must have them by the busloads and of course, do nothing about the recommendations or tweak the implementation of such to spring erring officials from sanctions.
Well, it turned out that my colleague and I were wrong. Oduah was not lying low. She was actually cooking something, which she hoped to serve Nigerians. What she was cooking turned out to be a poorly told tale, which rebooted the bullet-proof car saga almost like it just broke.
Internet discussion forums frothed with anger and derision late last Monday, when we got to know, via many news outlets, that Ms. Oduah’s car was shot at by unknown gunmen (Nigeria appears to have more unknown gunmen per square metre than any country in the world). Thankfully, she was not in the car. The shooting, Oduah claimed, took place on Friday (reportedly at 10:30pm), but was not reported to the police until 5.45pm on Monday. Despite not being a member of the Oduah People’s Congress, I have no shame in commending the minister for reporting to the police. Why? The Nigerian politician, almost always, first goes to the media to announce that his/her life is under threat. The police come second. Thumbs up to Oduah for going against the grain.
But it is strange that Ms./Princess Oduah waited for 72 hours to report a matter as serious as that to the police. The woman, who urged officials of her ministry to “do the needful” after approving the obscene outlay on the bullet-proof cars was incapable of doing the needful when her car was shot at. We remember that her media aide, Joe Obi, and many members of her fan club, in defence of the purchase of the two bullet-proof vehicles, claimed the woman was marked for death by certain interests she dislodged at the Aviation Minsitry. Even if it was a razor that was used in the alleged attack, it still would have been strange not to go to the police until 72 hours later and demand greater protection. Were the police on vacation or on solidarity strike with university lecturers? Who shot at Ms. Oduah’s car? Toy gun-toting kids? The police said they have found metallic objects, which are currently being subjected to ballistic tests to determine whether they are bullets or not. I hope and pray that they are bullets so as to entitle to Oduah to some degree of public sympathy. She is obviously sympathy-hungry. Most of us would be if we endured the media lynching she has. But I do not believe that she would get any, especially now that she has re-invited public attention to herself. If there was an assassination attempt, as Oduah claimed, it must have been on her character, not her life.
Even the hopeless Nigerian, when his or her life is threatened, will rush to the police. This is not because he or she trusts the police, but because that is where the law expects us to go. Character assassins, dangerous as they are, provoke considerably less panic than those after our lives. Ms. Oduah, you are becoming a figure of fun. Lying is what a Nigerian politician does with some aplomb. Your latest tale, like many items in your presentation to the panel that probed you, is as membrane-thin. Madam Stella, this is performance is everything but stellar.
•Bamidele wrote this article for TheNEWS magazine. Email:[email protected]