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Ojo Maduekwe at his seditious best

By: Prof. Sullivan Odumegwu
Published September 23rd, 2009

In the Vanguard newspaper of September 22, it was reported on front page that the Minister of External Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe said that President Yar’Adua is reeling under some guilt of coming to power through a ‘flawed’ election procured by Prof Iwu. And that, in effect, the President will expiate his great guilt (or please American critics) by not re-appointing Iwu to a second term as Chairman of INEC after Iwu’s tenure expires in mid 2010. Ojo spoke in the absolutes, like he was speaking for the President in a way that portrayed the Yar’Adua as some pathetic snitch and frenetic ‘confessionist’ to a fraudulent mandate. That said, I will now turn to the consequences of Ojo’s statements on President Yar’Adua and the lawfully constituted Government of Nigeria, if not on the greater national security interests of the Federation of Nigeria. But first, let me say these: I am not and will not be an apologist for Professor Maurice Iwu. Iwu has enough critics and defenders already; so nothing I write for, or against him here or elsewhere will add much to the media blitz on the issue. Suffice it to say that if Ojo’s intention was to hurt Iwu or ingratiate himself to a certain fringe audience of the international community, he failed in both attempts woefully. But knowing vintage Ojo, I wager that his true target was a President Yar’Adua that may not know that Ojo harbours a consuming grudge against his person, all with the rising international profile of Turai Yar’Adua, which Ojo, in his petty ways, is reported to see as trespassing into a foreign policy arena he has come to see as his exclusive fiefdom. Add the desperation Ojo must be feeling from the credible rumour that he is slated to fall on the hammer of the next cabinet reshuffle.
To be sure, Ojo was plainly disloyal to the President, hugely embarrassed his own party – the PDP, and came damn near close to courting a criminal action for committing sedition (by some stretch) against the very government he serves; and again, he breached the sacred frontiers of our national security, and rankled the stable political order. Now you may ask: How was Ojo disloyal to Yar’Adua? Well, here is the way I see it: By telling the whole world, aggravated by using a foreign platform, that his President and government are struggling under the grand illegitimacy of a flawed election, is, by every definition supremely disloyal to the President and to the lawfully constituted government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including a National Assembly and constituents units of the Federation that will now have to live with the stigma and political liability that  one of their own – Ojo has publicly condemned them to coming to office through electoral fraud, and made it worse by putting those demining words into the President’s mouth. There is no other way any reasonable person can read Ojo’s runaway remarks, except to water it down to the less offense that Ojo was ‘simply’ pre-emptive of the President, the Minister of Information (whose duty it is to announce such a major policy shift) and to the Federal Executive Council that has never deliberated on such matters of collective electoral guilt and then directed him to seek forgiveness of Americans. The only saving grace is if Ojo can prove that he was misquoted totally but I doubt it because the kernel of his remarks were too brazen and rendered with much exactitude.
Now, let’s turn to the seditious aspect of Ojo’s indictment of his President’s mandate. The word ‘sedition’ is a term of art universally employed in the Common Law to mean the following:
“Sedition is a term of law which refers to overt conduct, such as speech.... that is deemed by the legal authority as tending toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes...... incitement of discontent to lawful authority”. It connotes the "notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority". “A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interests of sedition”. See; and Laws of Federation of Nigeria and pertinent legislative histories in the Commonwealth.
A plain reading of the above definition squarely reveals Ojo Maduekwe as a seditionist extraordinaire because his statements tended to foist President Yar’Adua and the lawfully constituted Government of Nigeria with illegality of tenure or fraudulent procurement of electoral victory. And when made by a high official of the government, these remarks can incite discontent or disaffection towards the state of Nigeria and her constituted authorities. Incitement can lead to violent demonstrations or military coup against the government. And doing so before an international audience, plus at a time when Nigeria is looking to rebrand and reach an accommodation with some restive units of the federation, makes the offense much more aggravating; besides threatening our national security and stability vis-a-vis the world community. And with the current state of insecurity in the land – Boko Haram and its genre, restiveness in the Delta, kidnappings, and of course, the approaching Anambra guber elections, Ojo’s mean-spirited remarks might also sound too tempting to those looking to overawe Nigeria or isolate her government.
The above line of argument cannot be rebutted by the simplistic argument that the government of Nigeria has chosen - in the interest of free speech - to shy away from the many other acts of sedition that are committed against it every day. In good times, most democratic governments have a tendency of ignoring many acts of sedition as harmless (though prosecutable) acts of taking free speech too far; if not as a trade-off to the opposition political flanks to vent their political frustrations. Even then, once in a while, the government invokes its discretion to prosecute or take other lawful actions to repel rank seditionists. There are probably one or two cases now pending in the land, with at least one instituted by Yar’Adua himself. And when the Feds come to town to engage seditionists, they may decide to nail them on yet other more (or less) aggravated felonies. I am not sure that Ojo will survive any aggressive federal scrutiny bordering on moral turpitudes and he has no immunity to duck under. Hint: He is said to be wealthier than all financially-strapped and dilapidated Nigerian missions combined. And recall the hard queries and media scrutiny he received over his role in the suspicious manner he sold off choice Nigerian real estate in the US for a fraction and the loss of credibility he blamed on those he blames for leaking ‘official secrets’ over the deal.
On the brighter side, despite the severity of Ojo’s seditious speech and record of serial undiplomatic conduct in office, I doubt that the Nigerian Government will border to prosecute him. Yet, I also doubt that he will go scot-free, politically. Why? Because if his commission of sedition is as yet inchoate or did not rise to the level of hurting Nigeria’s national security and diplomatic standing, then he committed grand heresy against a government he purports to serve in high office and the party that he and the President belong to. So, I will be surprised if he survives an outright dismissal from office or does not fall on the next cabinet reshuffle. Further, pure political justice requires that Ojo be immediately arraigned for expulsion from the PDP, to free him to join another party which has been in the rumor mills since the past two months. At best, President Yar’Adua will do well to censure him publicly and leave him to wallow in remorse and self-doubt.
Finally, let’s turn to the Americans before whom Ojo made his remarks. First of all, Americans are extremely intelligent, albeit in some funny ways. And that helps them to quickly figure out jumpy political turncoats, charlatans, self-haters and their genre, all in one fell swoop. Ojo seems to qualify. So, while Ojo was mouthing obscenities against the very government he serves, calling it fraudulent, flawed and guilt-ridden, his American audience will be wondering why he has not resigned; why he is flying red-eye shuttles around the world, promoting the foreign policy of a government and a President he claims have admitted to illegitimate mandate. And it does not help matters that the blacks amongst the Americans may be shocked that Ojo may be acting the way he does because of some inferiority complex he always seems to exhibit in the presence of white people. Add the fact that the American audience before whom Ojo is posturing as a later-day ‘electoral’ reformer already possesses a prodigious and infamous dossier on him, including his shameful political conducts dating from the ‘YEAA’ and ‘leprous’ days of military dictatorships where Ojo was the poster boy for subduing pro-democracy elements, which, lest we forget, comprised people like the President’s late older brother.
Further, the Americans would have since correctly read that Yar’Adua’s ‘admission of electoral flaws’ simply meant fundamental and system flaws in the general conduct of, and attitudes to elections in Nigeria, not the warped interpretation Ojo sought to give a more than two-year old well-intentioned remark that has since receded from the memory of real-world Americans. And finally, the Americans would have figured from CIA ‘country checks and prompts’ that Ojo has gotten wind that he won’t survive Yar’Adua’s imminent cabinet reshuffle. So, taking on Yar’Adua ‘diplomatically via Iwu’ was a ruse to secure some ‘pro-democratic’ executive job with any of the imperialist think thanks in the US that love to put us down as a nation and as a people of black race. The ‘put down aspect’ fully comports with Ojo’s notoriety for self-hatred and consuming racial inferiority complex – a bewildering combination of psychological conditions I will rather leave to psycho-analysts to ponder.
Prof Odumegwu is of the Coalition Against Defamation of Nigeria (CADON)

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