I have read the article entitled “Sanusi and Metuh: Princes of power or plebs in need?” by Jimanze Ego-Alowes, published on this column on Thursday, June 6, 2019.
It is indeed patronising that, in spite of the intent of the writer, it is a great credit to Chief Olisa Metuh that, as the former spokesman of a political party, he is being compared side by side in deep pocket dispensation of largesse with a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), HRM Sanusi Lamido, the Emir of Kano, in their current travails.
First, His Highness, Emir Sanusi, was a chief executive of the Central Bank, (almost on equal pedestal with chairman of United States Federal Reserve) who had a large capacity to dish out goodwill in appointments, promotions, contracts and expend largesse, including financial aid to institutions; Chief Metuh, on the other hand, was a spokesperson of a political party, whose duty was only to propagate the position of his party, with little or no budget.
Perhaps the comparison to the highly respected Emir Sanusi is spurred by the successes recorded by Metuh, who, out of sheer commitment and patriotic zeal, elevated the person and office of a party spokesperson to an unprecedented relevance in national discourse and dynamics of governance.
Besides, Emir Sanusi is not on trial in court but Chief Metuh was arrested, paraded in handcuffs, viciously portrayed as a criminal and the face of corruption; and being embattled in court, it is expected that commentators would be circumspect in lending support as the matter is already subjudice.
While Chief Metuh’s matter, being subjudice, will not allow for extensive commentary, Emir Sanusi’s issue is a squabble with one out of the 36 state governors and it is not subjudice.
Nonetheless, it is on record that a lot of eminent Nigerians and elders of our nation, prominent lawyers, cultural groups, the PDP at both the national, zonal and state levels have expressed opinions pointing at persecution and unfair treatment.
Moreover, Ego-Alowes missed it completely as those close to Chief Metuh know that there is no way he would have survived in the last three years of his travails, with his bank accounts frozen and sources of livelihood grounded, but for the goodwill he enjoys from the vast array of friends, associates and supporters from various parts of the country, including persons in office today, who have been quite supportive in this regard.
It is also worthy of note that Chief Metuh was the longest serving national officer of the PDP, having risen from being an ex-officio member to national auditor to national vice chairman and then the national publicity secretary, spanning a period of 17 years. Pray, could he have achieved and sustained these political levels without immense goodwill from across the nation?
From all material evidence, even from the said article, Chief Metuh’s stewardship as the PDP spokesperson was not characterised by wasteful spending, mercantilism and bazaars but by delivery on mandate with lean resources.
It is incontrovertible that Chief Metuh achieved a very extensive and robust media synergy as chief publicist of the PDP. Such could not have been without teamwork and healthy relationships.
Reading through the unwarranted attack on Chief Metuh and being familiar with his present ordeal, it is obvious that the former PDP spokesman is a victim of misrepresentations by those who hold the megaphone to spur bad press and public opprobrium, as in the case of the article in question.
It is, therefore, very unfortunate that Ego-Alowes’s anger with Chief Metuh is that he did not surrender the funds for the special national assignment given to him.
Because of such distortions, many Nigerians do not actually understand the issues of Chief Metuh’s travail. Misinformed writers took centre stage and media trial beclouded facts.
Those who are conversant with the case know that Chief Metuh is not being charged for corrupt enrichment or for stealing of public funds but that the N400 million paid into his account was used to fund campaign activities of the PDP.
The question will then be whether the money was spent for the purpose for which it was released. Giving account of the N400 million in court, Chief Metuh had tendered documents to show that the entire N400 million was expended in execution of the national assignment and no part was used for the campaign activity of the PDP as alleged.
Chief Metuh also tendered records of accounts detailing disbursements, names and signatures of individuals who received funds in execution of the assignment as well as a copy of the final accounts, which detailed the project items, sub-heads and payments.
Even in his travail, Chief Metuh has maintained a rare commitment to relationships and the good of others. In tendering the documents, he had explained his hesitation to give out the names of those who worked under him in the execution of the assignment, made up of respected professionals in various fields, including university lecturers, who he did not want to be subjected to the embarrassment of sensational negative media report and misrepresentations at the time.
In his words, “it was for this reason that I insisted that if there are any questions, repercussions, refunds or persecution to be suffered in that regard, it should be directed to me personally. That is the concept of leadership.”
Many Nigerians have commended, Metuh for standing tall and bearing his travails and tribulations with equanimity, courage and dignity. Such leadership traits are rare and can only be applauded and celebrated, but not condemned.
In truth, Chief Metuh’s travail is an exemplification that legality is indeed a matter of power not justice.
•Ihediwa was special assistant to Chief Olisa Metuh as PDP national publicity secretary