“The philosophers Camus and Satre raised the question whether or not a man can condemn himself. The black existentialist philosopher who was pragmatic, Frantz Fanon answered the question, he said that man could not. Camus and Satre was not. We in SNCC tend to agree with Camus and Satre that a man cannot condemn himself. Were he to condemn himself, he would then have to inflict punishment upon himself.”—Kwame Ture, Black Power speech of 1966.
Adebayo Shittu’s response to the allegations leveled against him by a former aide, Oluwadamilare Victor shows in sordid terms, the irresponsibleness that comes with public representation in Nigeria. It mirrors the shoddiness and nonchalance public officials have made commonplace in the weighty business of governance in defiance to the meticulous tradition they are wont to have in the conduct of their private dealings.
In the said response, the minister wrote that for many months, he had been expending taxpayers’ money on his erstwhile media aide “for doing almost or absolutely nothing.” This statement evokes shame on the grim faces of Nigerians whose taxes government expend on Barrister Shittu. His admission that the expensive toil of Nigerians which is being used to foot his office bills goes to servicing an aide who contributes nothing to their wellbeing is an indictment on his person and whatever lean posture he portrays in public.
He called his former confidant a pig and fraudster whose appointment was effected neither on the basis of competence nor merit but for saving him from the “jaws of joblessness”. Coming from a public official, the nation fights to grapple with the immorality of a minister who finds it appropriate to regale the public with details inherent in his deployment of a known fraudster to populate the public space. Mr Victor dragged the minister into the ring and he wasted no time to play along. Characteristic of unintelligent persons, Barrister Shittu, clad in a balaclava, trailed his pig without realizing he was been led into a muddy pit of bounteous excrement, one wherein the winner is adorned in a defeatist wreath while the vanquished clinches the victory mug.
Defending himself, Mr. Shittu convicted himself. As a lawyer, he as supposed to have known better. Instead, he alleged to have aided a fraudster in his quest for survival, mistaking his office for a rehabilitation center. The minister, defying decorum and civility tried hard to soak his aide in dirt without realizing he was inadvertently swimming in the pool of black water.
Mr. Victor’s letter to his boss is indicative of the parasitic behavior of players in the political game, one that fits into an expectation to live a life of opulence and waste once they find themselves in the corridors of power. This is why a colorless aide did not find it absurd staying in a hotel. Where was he expecting to get the money to foot the bills? Would Mr Victor had made hotel home if he was an entrepreneur who toils dusk till dawn to make a living for himself?
Mr Victor ditched the accommodation accorded to him to find comfort in luxury because he went to Abuja with the notion that he had made it. He was invited to manage a minister but decided to manage himself. He saw his appointment as an avenue to live beyond modesty without realizing he had done a poor misreading of the personae of his boss. Victor wrote his diatribe to call the attention of the suffering masses to a perceived injustice by his boss. Living in denial, he overrated the naiveness of his fellow citizens, thinking they would rally behind him on his offensive mission. He laid in a hotel to hang his frustrations on poor Nigerians many of whom have no choice other than seek shelter under the bridge. He came to Abuja to eat beyond fill with a spoon handled by a miserly freeloader. Amidst the euphoria of being invited to come ‘chop’ in Nigeria’s vast kitchen, he confused Minister Shittu with President Buhari, no thanks to their anticorruption chant. He saw Buhari’s aides eating under the shadow of anticorruption and longed to replicate such under his own boss.
Barrister Shittu cajoled the public into ignoring the claim by Victor that he bought toys for his concubines. He does this without realizing that such a revelation is no news to Nigerians. The media is replete with how government houses have become glorified sex havens and mini-laboratories wherein young girls and sex workers are made to undergo medical tests as a prelude to satisfying politicians’ lecherous lifestyles. The Punch newspaper at a time ran a story wherein a governor in the south-south was alleged to have paid a prostitute who had a sudden headache before the orgy commenced N500,000. Up until now, Nigerians have still not come to agree on the amount he doled out to the six others whom he actually had sexual relations with!
The above renders the minister’s claim useless. Barrister Shittu thinks he could mask his treachery beneath a beard and his claim to socialist ways forgetting that the masses have since recognized those as fitting descriptors of men with fiendish leanings. His wanting to weaponize his reply achieved the exact opposite, affording the public access to his complicit core.
The strained relations between the minister and his aide further nourish Nigerians’ argument on the ordinariness which appears to be exclusive to elected officials and their overrated appointees. It lays to waste the thoughts of government being a continuum irrespective of the political party in power. The minister, indicative of his acute intellectual barrenness relied on an “existing practice” to fix the pay package of his media aide only to find out such was non-existent. Was he unlettered?
Barrister Shittu’s claim on the propriety of his bogus paycheck and an alleged $800,000 as estacode fits into the pervading narrative that echoes within the depraved minds of members of the political elite, a silly narrative that moralizes institutionalized corruption into a make-believe tale of legitimatized earning. It is a narrative that swells the bank accounts of lawmakers into the billions in a country where millions of the citizens grapple with basic needs. It is the same narrative that rationalizes the extravagance of state governors into the realm of inebriated acceptance. With this narrative, politics became the most viable business as every treacherous act is made to pass through the self-made binoculars of characters whom the Afrobeat icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called Vagabonds in Power (VIP).
Beyond the confrontations between Messrs Shittu and Victor is the existence of a common, nay consistent pattern amongst the executive and legislative arms to hide their true earnings from the same people they claim to serve. Both arms appear to be in a rush to confuse Nigerians into believing that salaries are all they draw from the collective sweat of the people. Cheekily, Shittu bandied N800,000 to our faces as his salary the same way Shehu Sani did a few weeks ago. Shehu Sani condemned himself without inflicting punishment upon himself. That was why he could speak against the bogus pay he drew and continues to draw as a senator.
Adebayo Shittu evokes more evil, for he sees no qualm wearing the name ‘estacode minister’. Nigerians should not be cowed into waiting to get a legal verdict over this moral conviction of his person. The appropriation of chunks of money to satiate the never-ending appetite of public officials at the detriment of the suffering masses has set in motion a struggle to declare immoral what state actors claim to be legal. In the end, the masses would have to engage their souls to query how they allowed morally depraved individuals to determine what constitutes legality.
The moral law is the law of each of us. It trumps those legal hawkers brandish on our very faces.
Modiu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org