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Histrionics on Ibim Semenitari

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By EBERE WABARA, ewabara@yahoo.com 08055001948

LET me state from the outset that I do not work in the Niger Delta Development Com­mission (NDDC) where scholastic and viva­cious Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, an information amazon, is the Managing Director lest I am perceived as doing a public relational stunt for my organization. In the same breath and by the exponential grace of God and without being immodest, one has multiple streams of income, a profound development that forecloses prospection for employment or anticipatory contract.

It must also be clearly stated that my pro­fessional relationship with Ibim began in the 90s in the heyday of the Lagos State Coun­cil of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) where both of us had associational com­radeship and friendship that transcended our occupational calling. You cannot meet this jewel without engaging her in cerebral mat­ters.

From afar, then, exemplified haughtiness which I later discovered was erroneous—it just had to do with her superfluous com­petency, summit capacity, inimitable in­tegrity and profuse background of modest opulence. These attributes endeared her to me ever since. Up until this moment, I never revealed this my profound perception of her to anyone or indeed herself.

A virtuous woman by all standards whose interaction with male colleagues never went beyond the elbow as is characteristic with most other female journalism professionals. Ibim’s diligence and passion for work as a business and economy reporter/editor/pub­lisher are unparalleled in that genre of com­munication. Her commitment to work and quintessence in all engagements is illimitable.

It was not confounding, therefore, when this woman of valor, a paragon of flamboyant beauty, was made the Commissioner for In­formation in Rivers State by Governor Rotimi Amaechi in the last political dispensation. Im­mediately her appointment was announced, I told friends of mine that she would distin­guish herself in that cabinet—and she did as she proficiently tackled the media insurgency from Abuja in the turbulent months of the Amaechi administration.

Of course, there was a balance of informa­tional terror between Abuja and Port Harcourt following the face-off between former Presi­dent Goodluck Jonathan and Amaechi, which inevitably resulted in the defection of Amae­chi to All Progressives Congress (APC). This particular estrangement reminds me of that between erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, the action governor of Abia State from 1999 to 2007.

Recently, President Buhari appointed Ibim the Managing Director of the NDDC.This backgrounding is pertinent to our subject this week, which is the consequence of a full-page advertorial in the DAILY SUN of Janu­ary 11, 2016, entitled “RE (sic): REQUEST FOR REINSTATEMENT OF SIR (BARR) BASSEY DAN-ABIA AS MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE NIGER DELTA DE­VELOPMENT COMMISSION” This open document, which was addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, was issued by Esit Eket Stakeholders (sic) Forum, dated 31st Decem­ber, 2015, and signed by a long list of names (“stakeholders”)!

In a democratic setting like ours, there is freedom of information and association, but there is equally an expected commensurate level of responsibility that goes with such freedom and latitude. Our views and atti­tudes should not trample on those of other people in the community or elsewhere. On what grounds should Ibim be removed and her predecessor reinstated? Is it based on in­competence, incapacity or criminal record that could possibly incapacitate her quali­fication for that plum job and exalted of­fice? Must quota displace merit every time? Does the President not have the right to hire or fire heads of commission? Why would any group dictate to him who to appoint or disappoint? These are germane questions, which need to be answered before getting to the NDDC Bridge.

The advertorial in question, after pour­ing lavish seasonal encomiums on Presi­dent Buhari, went beserk and declared that their man’s removal by the same President Buhari was “illegal, fatuous and reprehen­sible”. In addition, to buttress their illogical argument, references were made to the pro­visions of the NDDC (Establishment) Act 2000.

My grouse about this petition is not its es­sence, if any, but the choice of words that shows disrespect for the President and his office. Advocacies can be made without us­ing intemperate language as in the instant case, especially when the first citizen is concerned. A communication expert could be put off by such a foul presentation.

This is not the first time a public official will be removed from office. How many times have Inspectors-General of Police been axed? When the IGP before the cur­rent one was removed, former President Jonathan did not give us reasons. Why did his relatives not petition him since there is a Police (Establishment) Act? What of NI­MASA and copious other federal agencies? Resort to histrionic legalism can only suc­ceed in rehashing of old wives’ tale. The aforementioned NDDC Act says the head­ship of the establishment can be changed in circumstances such as “…any offence involving dishonesty or fraud…serious mis­conduct in relation to duties….” among other express stipulations as spelt out by Section 5(1) of the Act. I had expected Dan-Abia’s clannish forum to demand reasons their son’s “birthright” was taken away and given to one delectable woman from another state or, preferably, silently nurse their misfortune. That is the kernel of the matter—not dusting the paper containing the NDDC Act.

Except if we are saying that before the President appoints or removes any public functionary, he must give us reasons and await our consent or disapproval before go­ing ahead or not. The day that happens, gov­ernance would have been so trivialized that a circus show would be better than it. For me, it would be very embarrassing to hear, tomor­row, that this woman of invaluable pulchri­tude was sacked as the NDDC boss because she committed infractions such as dishonesty or fraud or misbehaved with regard to her duties, generally speaking. On a hypothetical note, for instance, it would be fair to those of us who believe in Ibim’s transparency, hard­work, honesty, aversion for fraud and strong disinclination to holistic misconduct to just hear that she has been removed as the NDDC boss than to be regaled with her impropri­eties! The point that must be internalized by everyone inside and outside bureaucracy/ government/Aso Rock is that a lot of things go on in the system that most Nigerians may not be privileged to know. To that extent, most of the President’s decisions may be cu­rious, but they are better left instead of open­ing an assortment of problems that could lead to eternal damnation of ethnic stakeholders.

I round off this presentation with an extract from the Esit Eket advertorial: “The appoint­ment of Mrs. Ibim Semenitari…is illegal, grossly irresponsible and tantamount to ad­ministrative rascality…atrocious and ignom­inous ouster of Dan-Abia.” This kind of rude and worthless collocation diminishes the pe­titioners—not President Buhari—in the eyes of sane members of the society.

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