In The Eye Of The Storm …If I Were Godsday Orubebe


These are strange times. Times when one’s growth and survival depend on the colour and strength of a capestone on which one stands. Cape stones that do not merely affirm one’s contributions to a successful goal but in recompense makes one untouchable, super and free from criticisms. Sometimes, even above the law. These are strange times, when, where one stands marks one out either as a man or woman of character or an endangered political specie. These indeed are time when, a good fisherman must carefully read both the tide and weather before any expedition to avoid a distress.
These are strange times when even civil society groups stay deaf and dumb to national worries, in the hope of having a capestone to stand on and enjoy rewards of their secret incursion into partisan politics. These indeed are times when wise politicians fly low, talk less, make little or no public appearances and indeed dress modestly not to offend the high currents of the secret submarines at war against corruption.
These indeed are times when corruption is corruption depending on where on stands, when audacity and temerity replace impunity in public affairs.
These are strange times when, the once respected whistle blower must not merely know what to say to his listeners, but must also avoid what the ravaging bulls of war would not want to hear. These are also times when a good politician without concrete capestones, must stay out of trouble by living in the village and be forgotten by the enemy, for, only the firmly rooted can regale in self righteous indignation and walk about proudly like peacocks and super ministers no matter the protests over the filt of their under pants and or skeletons in their cupboards.
These are days of the return of the night soil man, who was never wrong because of the nature of his duty. In Port Harcourt in the early seventies and eighties, the powers of the night soil man were abrasive and viscious. They were masked men whose responsibility it was to evacuate human wastes from residential homes, but never proud of their job, they responded aggressively to any whimper by a child and discharge such wastes at the door posts of any unfortunate residential area.
To be saved the anger and wrat of the night soil man, concerned residents must approach him in supplications, pay him for his sins of discharging wastes by their door ways and even assure him that not even a baby’s cry would be heard whilst he worked.
Such are these times, when the lines between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, stainlessness and corruption are so lean that they rarely exist. This is because, these are strange times when, what one becomes depends largely on the right kind of capestone on which one stands.
These indeed are days of retributive justice, when the sins of the past are excavated and sinners punished. These surely are pay-back times, when in the name of an anti-corruption crusade, little sins attract capital punishment to ensure silence and obedience to new rules.
At the receiving end of these strange times are members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  who now near frequently scream blue murder, claiming that the new government’s anti-graft campaign seems to be trargeting only their own members. In their criticisms, they point very quickly to accusations and or petitions of corrupt actions against former governors Raji Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi of Lagos and  Rivers States respectively, which according to them were never even investigated. Instead, the duo emerged super-ministers. But who cares?
Each time the PDP cries against cases of impunity and lopesided prosecution and persecutions under President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC’s) response has been very simple and concise. ‘PDP is still in shock over its shameful defeat in the last elections’.
One of those who saw the shameful defeat coming and tried to prevent it, as any good political thug would, during the collation of presidential election results at the International Conference Centre Abuja, early this year, was a former Minister under, President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency, Chief Godsday Orubebe.
For about 20 minutes or more, Orubebe held the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Collation Centre hostage, insisting that protests raised against results from four Northern states, where, children were allegedly seen thumb printing ballot papers for the then opposition, APC, be investigated before entering such results. Orubebe had insisted that the same cursory probe Rivers States’ results were subjected to same be applied to results of those Northern states before they were collated.
So determined, none could convince Orubebe otherwise. Even the security officials, party agents and indeed INEC officials seemed helpless until Orubebe was assured that Rivers votes had been counted in favour of Jonathan.
Unfortunately, while Orubebe was fighting against apparent defeat of his party and leader, former President Jonathan was scrolling his phone contacts for Buhari’s cellphone number, to call and concede the same defeat Orubebe found difficult to accept. And Jonathan lost the elections.
Where did that leave Orubebe? A man who thought he was protecting the interest of his party at the collation centre, but didn’t know that the he was infact making a spectacle of himself because while his protest tarried, Jonathan simply congratulated Buhari for a job well-done and conceded the same defeat Orubebe went all out to prevent.
How can such a sin by Orubebe be forgiven and forgotten by the APC so easily? In the case of Orubebe, whether he lives in the village, says nothing,  wears rags, flies low and remains deaf and dumb, his was a misadventure which many thought an APC government could never forgive. While others said, no, APC cannot be that vindictive with vendetta.
May be, the APC indeed forgot Orubebe but the anti-graft war’s, sharp weapon of destruction and the easiest path to humiliating politicians on the wrong cape stones, the Code of Conduct Bureau, found out Orubebe. He is today facing criminal charges, not related to disrupting the collation of presidential election results early in the year, but about false claims in his assets declaration forms in addition to an alleged N70 or so million bribe.
Now in the eye of the storm, can Orubebe count on former President Jonathan to put a word across to his successor in defence? If  he does would Buhari oblige?  When even in the case of Senate President Bukola Saraki the Presidency stated clearly that Buhari would not interfere with the duty of the CCB? What if Jonathan does and Lai Mohammed gets to hear of it?  Another round of scandal?
Where does that leave Orubebe? Alone in the wilderness of uncertainty, with hardly any hope of getting out of the CCT trial unruffled.  Even if the CCT wishes to be lenient, the sad reminder of his role at the collation centre would prevent such expectation.
Therefore, since  these are times when one’s survival depends on the strength of the cape stone on which one stands, Orubebe still has one of three choices.  Remain helpless and stand aloof until the rising tide covers him.
Alternatively, if I were Orubebe, knowing that the Bayelsa State’s Governorship polls come up Dec 5 this year, with APC’s Timpre Sylva and incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson as leading candidates, I would make a good choice of a Cape Stone to stand on. I would run to Sylva, Kneel down, cry to him and pledge my unalloyed loyalty to his course and that of his party.  A viable cape stone.
I would vow before him, to do for APC what I did for the PDP that went sour. I would swear to mobilize total support of Bayelsa Voters, men, women and the youth including the dead towards achieving an APC victory. Like a repentant sinner, I would denounce the PDP, and embrace the APC with all my family, soul and spirit.
In fact, half of whatever I might have had as a minister would be committed to the course, rather than lose all and still not avoid conviction.  Afterall, with the new Cape Stone, nothing spent on a venture is wasted. And with good fortune, charges of false declaration of assets could be dropped.
But there always is a third and respectable choice for the fearless, principled and stainless.  Pursue the litigation truthfully and with facts that cannot be controverted by  any persecutor.  Prove your innocence and ensure that your case is before the court of public opinion, always.
Yes, these are strange times when the difference between black and white seems blurred, but there still are men and women of integrity who could speak up in the face of injustice. More importantly, there is still a judiciary to count on, a crop of respectable men and women who can be depended upon to protect the rule of law and uphold justice no matter the consequences.
If Orubebe’s hands are truly clean, here’s where to leave his defence and let the people judge.  Posterity will surely vindicate him on the long run.
My agony is that it is never easy to pursue such trials with personal funds, unless one is truly guilty of corruption, with funds starched away in the village.  But fortune usually smiles on the just, with or without a strong financial defence.