Mike Ozekhome is a big-name lawyer, a SAN. Lately he was on Channels Television (https://youtu.be/h8rttB7NIyY). And he was retailing stories, perhaps fanciful historical myths about their participation in the restoration of Nigeria’s democracy. What is interesting is that this claim has been around. I first heard it from Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, another SAN. Perhaps, since the claim has made the rounds unchallenged, an Ozekhome is about consecrating what actually is fiction as sacred truth.
The following is the gospel Ozekhome is canvassing and I quote from memory, “We made the mistake of our lives. We quit power when we won the war.”
And Ozekhome was alleging on behalf of the human rights trading community that they forsook their chance to be elected senators, governors, etc, at the hour they helped sack the military. And Ozekhome, a trained defense lawyer, was so solemn about it, like he did not know he was telling historical lies. Anyway, the facts in the open contradict his fanciful claims.
The details are: In the group Ozekhome mentions as “we,” names like Agbakoba are prominent. So, let us zero in on Agbakoba representatively. Now, if you went to Abuja or Lagos, and began a yarn that “I was with Agbakoba and he told me Buhari…” nearly every chap would understand that you are speaking of Olisa Agbakoba, who made his name in law and human rights trade.
If, however, you took Air Peace and landed in Enugu and repeated: “I was with Agbakoba and he told me Buhari…,” nearly every listener would be lost. And typically they would ask, which Agbakoba? Is it the one that sells okirika by Ogui Road? Or the one the police is looking for as the lead Yahoo boy? And you would have to explain, it is the Agbakoba who made his name in Lagos, campaigning for human rights, etc. And people would immediately recall, ah, Agbakoba, the son of the judge from Onitsha.
That is, in Lagos and Abuja, an Agbakoba is his own man, and his father is remembered more for being a father of the son. In Onitsha, however, Agbakoba is just another of many colourless big rich. And if he is remembered at all, it is as the son of his prominent jurist father. This is the lore.
The gist of this is that, in the East, Agbakoba has no gravitas, politically. And this shows. If Agbakoba went to Otu Nkwo Onitsha, nobody, repeat nobody, would recognise him or his mug. He is, to put it mildly, a stranger among his own people; that is if those are truly his people. Maybe an Agbakoba is not to blame. Maybe, an Agbakoba takes all politics to be global, and thus he belongs to nobody and nobody belongs to him. Maybe, only maybe?
Now, there are lessons in the absentee status of an Agbakoba in the eastern heartland. But let us hold on to that now as we shall return to it later.
The next point, contrary to the claims of Ozekhome, is that Agbakoba actually sought power post-military regimes, which he helped ‘overthrow.’ And he failed. And the facts are there. In fact, I can personally recall that I had quoted Agbakoba in one of my books, NIGERIA A FUTURE IN RUINS. And what did Agbakoba say? He disparaged his eastern or Igbo kinsmen, in contradistinction with the Yoruba, for being politically naïve. But did the wise and prudent Yoruba elect their own human rights anglers? The answer is, of course, no.
Anyway, Agbakoba assumed that he, being a legal luminary and something of a national social gadfly, by his own metrics, was all his people needed as a senator, the senator he then competed to be. But the people booed him, electorally. And just as quickly Agbakoba fled the East, back to the comfort of his fat fees and boardrooms in Lagos, Abuja, and London?
So, on this count alone, the myth that the human rights people forgot to go for electoral power is a forgery and cannot stand scrutiny. And if we remembered the chief of them all, the late Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, what do we recall? Gani bid for electoral power and he was floored in an upset that still shames the saints.
Well, we have nothing to celebrate. Our interests are only historical and calling out those who may wish to trade upon lies or myths. But we also have a duty to explain even to parties in issue, the Ozekhomes and Agbakobas, what really hit them.
Now, the following. Politics is a profession just as law and, don’t believe, human rights trade. It, therefore, follows that excellence in the ways and means of one, need not be convergent with excellence in the ways and means of the other.
Two, Abuja and Lagos are metropolitan centres like New York and Tokyo. And if one thing is known, it is that metropolitans are completely rootless, and often ruthless to match. In other words, they are fellow provincials who became economic refugees or migrants. And some of course got successful at that. So, what is expected of metropolitans, given their twin root-and-ruthless-ness, is to rule themselves, not to rue over the fate of the provincials. And the reasons are clear. All metropolitan big rich, are by Biblical logic, where a man’s treasures are there his heart is, more related to their bank accounts balances than to their provincial city cousins. And if you checked, whether it is Agbakoba or Ozekhome, they are all holed up, living near their bank and financial advisors. And in Lagos, that is Ikoyi. In Abuja, that is in Maitama. Ahiazuwa.
So, what Agbakoba wants to do is to live in paradise, in the metropolis of Ikoyi, and be representative of hell, of Ose Ndida na Onitsha. And this is a form of fraud, electoral fraud and political chicanery, if not plain theft. Additionally, it is the moral equivalent of gerrymandering, trading on constituencies and being arbitrageurs of other peoples destinies. You cannot live in paradise and scheme to represent hell. I have dealt in greater detail this same matter in one of my books, ECONOMISTS AS ASSASSINS: THE NIGERIAN CONNECTION.
Next, if the two facts of an Agbakoba wanting to return home to represent his people and the point of politics being its own profession are taken together, then the following: The Agbakobas of this world are rookies when it comes to pitching for and gathering votes, that is, doing politics. Thus they are likely to be beaten at the game. And the examples of Agbakoba and Gani are tales enough. And one of their kind, Ms Aiyasha Osori, I heard, even wrote a whole book, on the gap between “marching to the barricades” and catching votes. The two are not one, are not related.
And to worsen their palava, nobody knows who an Agbakoba is in any pub in Onitsha. Yes, they know his father but the great man is dead. And except it is APC all the way, you don’t appoint or elect the dead.
Then the clincher. The question, why are the Agbakobas, despite their barricades claims of one-Nigerianness, of Nigeria being a one pan-electoral project, why are they not contesting for Senate, etc, in Lagos/Abuja or, more specifically, Ikoyi/Maitama, where they and the sinfully rich live? In other words, why is Agbakoba not wanting to represent Dangote in the Senate? That is, why are they not representing their bank MDs, oil traders, etc, peers and neighbours, electorally? Why are they representing them, the Dangotes, oil traders, only in law courts? Are they no longer one constituency?
More, are there no lawyers and other professionals living in Onitsha? Can’t they be granted the window of opportunity to represent ndi Onitsha ado na Idu? Are the Agbakobas so greed-soaked, they want all the money off the metropolises, and all the votes off the provinces, and to themselves alone? Or like the typical banker, they too intone: greed is good. We, the greedy are the elect of god and now men. Ahiazuwa?
The answer is blowing in the wind, but we shall harvest it. They, these human rights traders and practitioners, are telling themselves lies. Now, as economic or fortune-seeking refugees, they instituted a forged claim that: 1) there is a pan-Nigeria, and 2) Nigeria is Lagos, sorry, Ikoyi and Abuja, sorry, Maitama. Why? That is the social technology through which they milk the Nigerian nation. They gather together in their golf shorts and tell themselves lies, “We are one Nigeria.” And via that sleight of a lie they are able to rob and destroy the very Nigeria, like the thieves who come in the night. It is just that their nights are their lies.
But immediately the come comes to become and the omoniles remind them that they are strangers among us, they flee like Azikiwe to whence they come. So the theatrical three-character tragedy, of Awolowo, Azikiwe and Eyo Ita, is what the modern-day Agbakobas are playing out, perhaps without knowing. Or if they knew, are intent on, perhaps, deceiving the very elect, not excluding themselves.
The points in issue are as follows. The human rights kids were in no positions to have won the politics of power even if they tried. So, it is a choice of theirs not to try. If it was instinctive then let them thank their gods, their instincts guided them right. Anyway, their wayward friends like Gani and Agbakoba who tried failed woefully. If we are on hire to advise Ozekhome, we did tell as follows: The professions are cut into paths and lines. Genius is to stay in your lane. Remain a lawyer and a human rights arbitrageur. And pay your tithes. Ozekhome ronu.