Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Apes Obey! With very little sense of veracity

The story has many more legs
When I declared that the story I wrote about in my last Apes Obey! Series probably still has legs, little did I know that it was a duo-decapod, in short, it is an octopus and a half with a possibility of growing a few more legs.
The CNN [1] must have read the whole story, seen the news interest but tried very hard to extract the information that would work with an international audience without ending up making it look like a spoof.
Much as I try to look for international and independent sources to corroborate and verify stories I read about Nigeria, in this case, the Nigerian angle of this story reads as the most incredible tale of stupidity, excess, abuse and neopatrimonialism [Refer to my last Apes Obey! blog about this].
A short history of Sam Edem
Mr. Samuel Edem was until recently the Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) [2] but was suspected and being investigated for fraudulent practices yet to be presented before a court of law. I have taken the liberty of printing to PDF [I acknowledge the source of the material from which the PDF was created to be from the NDDC website] format his corporate biography [3] from the NDDC site just in case changes in that organisation deprive us of access to this mine of information.
To go by his title, he is Ambassador Sam Edem, holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and a Masters in French Philosophy, he has at various times help two Deputy Director-General positions in the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has held a Special Duties portfolio in the Presidency.
He was also involved in restoring diplomatic relations with Canada – I did not know our relations were that soured except probably during the Sani Abacha [4] era, a task the biography says he performed excellently.
Ambassador to all and sundry
He was once ambassador to the Republics of Senegal, Rwanda and Burundi as well as the High Commissioner to the Republic of Uganda. His diplomatic brief has included liaising or working with diplomatic corps in the Kingdom of Belgium, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the European Union and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and he voluntarily retired from service in 2003 before he was called up to head the NDDC in 2005.
He is a Fellow of the National War College which has since been renamed to the National Defence College[5] and he is supposed to have been honoured with over 200 awards, having been selective about the awards his receives which include the l'Ordre du lion du Sénégal as well as being a Friend and Patron of the Yitzhak Rabin Centre [6] in Israel.
A Christian with his name written in gold
In the words of the corporate biography which appear here verbatim – “he has brought his wealth of experience from the public service to bear and undoubtedly proven to be a quintessential administrator, a strategic planner, and a conflict manager. There, his tenure has heralded tremendous improvement in the region. Indeed, his panache at work is common knowledge and has transcended the entire commission”.
This man is well travelled having been to over a hundred countries, is the son of a pastor of African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church who was also the Chairman, Nsit County Council and his mother was Deaconess of the church and a fashion designer of her time.
Ambassador Edem is a devout Christian who “with modesty, humility, diligence and discipline as his guiding principles; he has written his name in gold!
A man of achievement, it seems
I could not write a better biography of a man in a corporate setting that reads more like sycophantic praise-singing so obsequious to the point that it could be sick-making.
That is however beside the point; it would appear that this man has an enviable biography that gives him the qualities by merit and experience to hold the brief of Chairman of the NDDC and he really had his work cut out.
But can anyone tell me after reading his biography why as a career diplomat with global experience he could not get on with his managing director that he wanted the man dead?
Recklessly burning money
Ambassador Edem engaged the services of a witch-doctor [7] who went by the name of ‘Dr.’ Perekabowei Ogah who was to ensure the death of the NDDC Managing Director, Timi Alaibe and ensure that he, Edem had a steady flow of contracts from the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio.
Ambassador Edem’s offices would have been based in Port-Harcourt and he was concerned with activities in far-away Akwa Ibom for his personal purposes.
Having agreed a contract sum of N570 million ($4.79m), N310 million ($2.60m) was first paid to ‘Dr.’ Ogah with a balance of N260 million ($2.19m), but eventually the ‘Doctor’ was paid N800 million ($6.72m) in total.
Rituals were conducted in a public cemetery and one of the more bizarre activities at the cemetery included bathing in the ashes of N270 million ($2.27m) – read that again, Ambassador Edem set fire to $2.27 million cash, gathered the ashes and had a bath in those ashes in a cemetery – even Stephen King cannot come up with a tale this twisted.
No refunds for failure
Despite this hocus-pocus activity by a devout Christian and Christianly man engaging the services of an accomplished con-man masquerading as a powerful witch doctor, Mr. Timi Alaibe the Managing Director of the NDDC did not keel over and die.
An aggrieved Ambassador Edem then sought a refund of his money and on failing to get anything back filed a complaint with the police accusing ‘Dr.’ Ogah of fraud; that is how the cat was let out of the bag and apparently, Ambassador Edem has not denied any part of the crazy, incredible and seriously amazing story.
In what I would call a first for ThisDayOnline.com a columnist has gone on to try and analyse the whole situation [7] about people employed in public service, the abuse of power, the misappropriation of public funds and the use of fetish practices to settle office squabbles.
Lord Lugard did say then, “In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person; lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight; naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery”.
One is left with a number of questions
How does a seemingly intelligent and accomplished man get all tied up in this kind of nonsense?
Where did the man get all these sums of money considering there is no mention of his being a businessman in the biography, detail that can never be left out of a biography written in Nigeria?
Ambassador was serving a 5-year tenure representing Akwa Ibom State, if he does get removed as the Chairman of the NDDC would this position move to a candidate from the same state for the remaining 2 years of the tenure or would the candidate from Bayelsa State resume early?
With little sense of veracity
The sad tale is how the public persona of an accomplished diplomat who is considered a philanthropist, pillar of society and devout Christian is completely different from a private life of fetish and animistic rituals which defy every form of logic.
A man put in a position of great trust and responsibility, holding such high office who really is a crook, a fraud, lacking in integrity and self-serving selfish megalomaniac – a leader with very little sense of veracity – it is the most damning assessment that can be made of a distinguished career that has come to disrepute, disgrace and naught.
[4] Sani Abacha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
[5] allAfrica.com: Sourced from Daily Trust - Nigeria: Senate Renames National War College
[6] About the Centre - The Yitzhak Rabin Centre (I cannot find any record of Ambassador Edem being either a friend or patron of the centre and only the American have formed a society of Friends of the Centre.)
[7] allAfrica.com: Sourced from This Day - Nigeria: How Sam Edem Story Mirrors the Country Tragedy

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