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Published On: Mon, Dec 26th, 2016

Was James Ibori’s Incarceration a Conspiracy?

Chief james Ibori

Chief james Ibori

By Ted Ochuko Arayki
LAGOS DECEMBER 26TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Let me start with this quote from OgheneochukomeLolodi.
“We will not throw our own under the bus while you elevate your own thieves to positions of authority.” – Ogheneochukome Lolodi.
You are probably guessing the direction this article is going and you may be right.
Chief James OnanefeIbori former Executive Governor of Delta State Nigeria (1999 – 2007) is a man whose life is so pristine, unsullied and kind of enviable.

Here’s a man who has written his name in the history of the Urhobo / Itsekiri nations, in Delta State, in Nigeria and indeed in the whole world, a history you may say has been tainted by his recent incarceration in the United Kingdom. The world watched as this man went into incarceration and the world is a buzz as the man comes out.
What genus of man draws this kind of audience? What sort of man commands this kind of powers? What sort of man would a poor pixelated photo of himself be shared one gazillion (million, million, million) times on WhatsApp, twitter, Facebook and the internet before and after his release. Everyone wants to see his photo, his friends and his foes alike.
In 1999, Nigeria began a new journey in a new democratic epoch after the demise of the then head of state General Sani Abacha after Nigerians had tried a couple of democracy within the last 30 years after her independence and failed. The country was at its lowest as a nation of people, good people. However, lawlessness was the norms as the nation and its people had no working structures or systems and no lessons to learn from their previous leaders talk less of the then late head of state General Sani Abacha.
It was a state of pandemonium, chaos and mayhem across the nation. No rule of law, no enforcement of law, everyone was a lawyer or everyone was a police officer and as a matter of fact survival was for the smartest or the fittest. It was a case of a nation where it was free for all to grab. Market women with no knowledge of engineering were awarded huge engineering contracts which were most times abandoned due to the inefficacity of the system.
It was in this era and time Chief James OnanefeIbori became the Governor of Delta State of Nigeria. In this period after he was sworn in, there was crisis between tribes in some towns and cities in Delta State; Crisis that will test the will and effectiveness and ability of any leader, especially one born of the two of the three warring tribes in the state.
The nation was struggling to find anabode and its feet in the scheme of things. There was a new constitutional amendment put in place as our new constitution and the nation was looking for leadership in the direction the nation should go. Many of our leaders didn’t even know the contents of our constitution. It was sheer confusion and it became fashionable to “check out”; leave all the woes of the nation and go abroad to live. This was the era of Chief James OnanefeIbori and many like him in Nigeria.
Chief James OnanefeIbori’s home coming has drawn a frantic media buzz, intelevision, radio, newspapers and social network media. The commentaries are heart throbbing. Some people are of theopinion that he shouldn’t be “celebrated”and I ask why? While a whole host of others were even rejoicing at the mention of his release.Comments about his home coming not being celebrated seem to have rubbed off on his supporters. His people and supporters can’t see why they shouldn’t jubilate when his contemporaries, many of them who ruled during this era I just described above, and who had committed even worse wrongdoings as well;should have been accused,charged andbrought to justice like Chief James OnanefeIbori have simply “walked away free.
Was Chief James Onanefe Ibori incarceration a conspiracy? And who was it by? Why was there a conspiracy against “Odidigborigbo”? What may he have done to warrant such a conspiracy against a man who is so well loved even by his enemies and foes?
We accuse him of crimes what crimes? Remember the state of the country when they took office? Now name all those who ruled in his era and please name one out of the lot who is not guilty of the same crimes we rub on “Odidigborigbo”. Did I hear you say none? You’re damn right NONE.
“We will not throw our own under the bus while you elevate your own “thieves” to positions of authority.” – OgheneochukomeLolodi
I am not going to put mine in the firing line, when theirs are given position of authorities. Here is a man who has made a name in the history of Nigeria and you don’t want me to celebrate him? You must be joking. Name one Urhobo man whose name rings resoundingly across the nation like that of Chief James OnanefeIbori. We have one now and we need to celebrate, elevate and jubilate over such a person not pull him down.
Chief James OnanefeIbori is not the problem Nigeria has but he lives in the systemic problem environment we find ourselves. We need to fix our system by optimizing our systems to workable structures and not pick and choose who we decide is a criminal. If we allow the British or other nations to tell us what we should or should not be doing, then most Nigerians in positions of authority will be languishing in their jails.
Let us find a foot, create systems and structures and place our nation in the direction it should go. Leave Chief James OnanefeIbori alone. We are not running other countries by the dictates of Nigeria so let’s not run Nigeria by the dictates of other nations. We know the difference between right and wrong.
The causticness here though is that we should prevent him from being hijacked by unproductive and unintelligent people who may steer him away from using his popularity to the benefit of our Urhobo / Itsekiri nations and Nigeria in general. Gone are the days of naivety and inexperienced people (“Agberos”who need educational and systemic help) as we are now in the age of lucid progress and development; the age of information and Communication technology where the rate of incremental changes of things happens quicker and are done by intelligent people.
He may have been careless about the use of his powers but let’s give him the chance to recompense as the law has. He has served the time. Let him make up for any errors of his judgements and use his experience and knowledge to the benefit of his people. A note of caution here is; we must encourage him to use his influence to find good swimmers to tag along. Swimmers, who can train, educate and teach people who cannot swim and save the state and nation from drowning.
I call on all Deltans friends and foes alike to stand up for a man that has a heart of love for his people. Let us celebrate such a person andlet us celebrateChief James OnanefeIbori “Odidigborigbo”

Olorogun Ted Ochuko Arayki writes from United Kingdom

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