Monday 21 September 2009

Nigeria: Our Own Comical Ali - Ogbonna Onovo

Our Comical Ali

It is with amusement if not embarrassment that I read that Nigeria now has its own “Comical Ali” [1]. Now, Comical Ali was the minister in Saddam Hussein’s government who made wild statements about the Iraqis winning just as George W. Bush’s shock-and-awe crusade was rolling down the streets of Baghdad.

The Nigerian cast in this position happens to be the new Nigerian police chief, the Inspector General of Police Mr. Ogbonna Onovo.

Grieving through respects

Just over a week ago saw the passing of a legendary human rights activist and legal luminary, Gani Fawehinmi; despite his faults, his work in challenging government excess and the untrammelled egregious abuse of power.

It behoves many in Nigeria to be seen to pay respects to such an one, in fact, it would have been a conveyor belt of personalities literally leaving the surviving relatives no time to reflect, grieve or think as they have to entertain and engage in pointless photo opportunities in the quest to presumably do the right thing.

One of such visitors who visited to pay respects and condole the family was the put upon, harassed and vilified but courageous ex-chairman of the ant-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

In full public glare

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has been engaged in a number of law suits with the establishment but is a research fellow at a university in the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that the establishment in Nigeria would like to lay their hands on him, rough him up and shut him up because he is privy to information that makes those in power extremely uncomfortable.

In full public glare with the press carrying the stories and many photographs to prove it, Mallam Ribadu paid his respects to the family of Gani Fawehinmi in the company of his lawyer after which he left Nigeria to return to his activities abroad.

The comical clowning that stems from this is that when asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP) categorically denied [2] that Mallam Ribadu was ever in Nigeria and that he would not believe he was in Nigeria until he saw evidence to that fact.

An embarrassment indeed

This brings a number of issues to the fore, in some ways Mallam Ribadu is a thorn in the flesh of the establishment, they would stop at nothing to inconvenience him ever so slightly till they are sanctioned by judicial process.

Mallam Ribadu is too recognisable a figure to have slipped in and out of Nigeria without being noticed through any and all of the border entry points of Nigeria; for the publicity that accompanied his visit, he did not sneak in, he boldly went about his business without let or hindrance.

For such an important figure to have visited Nigeria to attend a very high profile event and the IGP be completely oblivious of that fact leaves much to be desired.

The rashness of the IGP leaves one suspect of his capabilities; the intelligence infrastructure in Nigeria must be in need of a radical overhaul; the man should allow himself to be briefed of developments in the country; he should ensure he has all the facts before he answers politically charged questions than attempt an absurd face-saving denial which is in many ways dishonest.

The whole matter is laughable, embarrassing and indicative of rank incompetence with a lack of attention to the meticulous research of facts and events, one would expect the police chief to be better briefed and reasoned in his responses – but then, rather than be annoyed, the better excuse for this debacle is to see the rise of Nigeria’s own Comical Ali.


[1] The Best Of 'Comical Ali' | Home | Sky News

[2] Ribadu’s visit: Balarabe Musa, Keyamo, CD boss rap IGP | Nigerian Tribune

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