On the heels of anti-corruption day, there is evidence that an increasing number of Nigerians are unimpressed with Yardy's pick for Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa.
ORGANIZATIONS ARE ENCOURAGING HIS RESIGNATION
Amongst that number is the Kaduna based Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice (NCDJ) and the Delta State Elders Forum are just 2 of many groups that have publicly expressed concerns that Aondoakaa's actions are harmful to the achievement of a less corrupt Nigeria and Yar'Adua's reputation.
NCDJ accused Aondoakaa of trying "... to weaken the power of the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria" adding that "Aondoakaa had not pursued any case of anti corruption with vigour." The group went on to criticize Aondoakaa' dissolution of the NICON Insurance Board and claimed that his "taking over of the NICON Management Board was not a good omen for the economy of Nigeria, given its tendency to discourage enterprising young Nigerians like Jimoh Ibrahim from investing in the national economy."
EVEN DISGRACED INDIVIDUALS ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT HIM
Aondoakaa's reputation is seemingly in the pits and it will take a considerable amount of spin to improve the public's impression of him. Everyone is complaining about him. A Federal High Court Judge has scolded Aondoakaa for delaying the Odili case. Even the disgraced former Speaker of the House, Patricia Etteh, is accusing him of stalling her case. When Etteh can use your name to protest the delay of 'justice', you know you you are in desperate need of an image makeover.
THE AGF'S RESPONSE -
1. TELL A LITTLE WHITE LIE
Aondoakaa has responded to the naysayers by coming out swinging. He publicly stated an untruth by denying that he has ever "interfered in the work of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or any investigation for that matter." I mean no disrespect to the SAN awarded, and highly accomplished lawyer, but, it is well documented that his letter on behalf of Ibori interfered in the investigation of Ibori's assets in the U.K. It is amazing that in this day and age of constant information and the fact that technology allows for the easy dissemination of such information, I find it amazing that public figures conveniently rewrite history.
2. THROW OUT SOME INSULTS
Through his spokesman, he went further to insult his opponents for questioning his motives by declaring,
“The valued freedom of expression provision in the nation’s constitution no doubt, underlines the AGF’s position in not joining issues with peddlers of the now very common but unreasonable rumour on his role in the foregoing.”Maybe it is just me, but insulting people and belittling the concerns of those you serve, regardless of if you gained your position via appointment or election, just does not seem wise. Then again, this is Nigeria we are talking about and I have previously documented the well versed insults leveled at Nigerians by people that should know better. But, I will not belabor the point in this post.
Aondoakaa, via his spokesman, did not stop there. In defending himself against the calls for his resignation, he focused on Chief Clark, the head of the Delta State Elders Forum (referred to above) by warning that "Clark should be reminded that dragging the AGF into his personal (local) quarrel with Ex-Governor Ibori does not augur well for the country."
Let us assume that Aondoakaa is correct and that Clark is simply being petty, as the AGF is suggesting, does it make sense for the Attorney General to say so in public? I understand that Aondoakaa has a right to defend himself, but, a more tactful comment would have sufficed. Regardless of the accusations leveled at him, he still has to maintain a certain level of decorum, especially when addressing those he perceives as foes. Nevertheless, Aondoakaa has succeeded in throwing his own blow and potentially amping the situation to another level. Rather than discrediting his critics, this "brawler" approach of his might simply give more cause to his opponents and increase the calls for his dismissal.
3. TAKE A JAB AT THE EFCC, AGAIN
Aondoakaa's mouthpiece also took the opportunity to stress that the AGF's office was cooperating with the EFCC in the Ibori case. Yet, in the same breath, he threw a backhand slap at Ribadu and the entire EFCC by distancing his office from Ribadu on the ongoing Willbros scandal. For those that are unaware, Ribadu recently accused American officials for failing to provide useful information in the Willbros investigation. On that issue, Aondoakaa's spokesman simply insisted that the U.S. is working closely with his office. I guess he wants us to know that the Americans will work with him, Aondoakaa, and not the EFCC. It appears the political soap opera is neverending when it comes to both offices.
SHOULD YARDY DISMISS AONDOAKAA?
As to whether Yardy should dismiss Aondoakaa, my opinion might shock some readers, especially Nigeria Politricks, Jinta and N.I.M.M.O. Regardless, at the risk of disappointing anyone, here is my brief opinion. Yardy should not sacrifice Aondoakaa to the 'gods'. He has made too many concessions in the short time he has been president and to make another one will simply act as a chink in his 'armor'. Besides, there is so much to focus on in that country that firing Aondoakaa would just act as an even larger distraction from work that needs to be done.
That said, Yardy MUST reign in his AGF. Also, find a way to get him some serious press - pictures of him helping needy children, pictures of him planting trees in the North (God knows we need to address the encroaching desert problem). Put that guy to work for the sake of his PR and the reputation of the President.
Yardy could also make sure that the nation simply focuses on issues that do not involve Aondoakaa. The media attention to the planned welfare scheme to eradicate poverty is a good way to manipulate the public's attention and keep eyeballs off Aondoakaa's gaffs. And, of course, if NAPEP can succeed in implementing the scheme, many people will benefit from such a positive initiative. Paying pensioners some of the monies owed them is also a step in the right direction. The government can actually take advantage of its competitiveness in the Cassava sector and earn N109 trillion in non-oil money. If that were to happen, nobody will remember Aondoakaa but will instead praise Yardy for the economic boom the country will experience. Unfortunately, this and other stalling tactics will only work for as long as the AGF stays off the radar. Something tells me that Aondoakaa is not the type to take a back seat so I will sit back and watch this very interesting soap opera unfold. After all, when it comes to Aondoakaa, something fascinating is always bound to happen.
NB: The Federal High Court in Lagos has given leave to a Lagosian lawyer to compel EFCC to sue Ibori.
Hattip to Mo Lo for enlightening me about Nigeria's cassava potential.